Friday, December 31, 2010

A Prayer to End the Year

I tend to get all pensive and introspective this time of year. And my head is overflowing with blog posts...coming soon at Lavender *Sparkles*, in addition to Mega Memory Month, I'm hoping to post:
~Jude's birth story
~thoughts on homebirth
~reviews of the books I read in 2010, fiction and nonfiction
~the paragraph I almost left out of our Christmas letter, and why I kept it in because of the gospel
~our family Christmas pictures (waiting until friends and family have received the snail-mail version)
~outtakes from Elijah's Luke 2 recitation
~that follow-up post on anger I promised Jenny and Zoanna more than a month ago
~pictures and reviews of several handmade baby items I've bought or been given
So stay tuned!

In the meantime, after I got all reflective this morning, I was encouraged and moved by this prayer from Scotty Smith. I so needed his gospel-centered perspective on my introspection! If you subscribe to one new blog in 2011, make it his blog, Heavenward:
Heavenly Father, as I sit quietly before you on the eve of a New Year, I’ve got a healthy case of sad and glad going on inside of me. As I reflect over the past year, both of these emotions dance about, more like allies than enemies… for both are evidence the gospel is at work.
Read the rest of A Prayer About New Year's Eve here. And have a happy new year!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Coming Soon: Mega Memory Month

It's that time of year again...Mega Memory Month!

Ann Kroeker is continuing the January tradition of hosting this memorization challenge. My first time participating was in 2009, when I took on the challenge of memorizing the prose gospel narrative from Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer for Christians. And what a wonderful experience that turned out to be! Ann hosted another round of MMM in July 2009, when I worked on the poetic version of the gospel narrative. I've since had the opportunity to serve my church by reciting these at last year's and this year's Christmas program--which has been such a blessing.

Last January, I took on a much more "mega" project: committing the book of Ephesians to memory. I got off to a great start, thanks to the encouragement and accountability of others participating in Mega Memory Month. It took me until October to finish, but I did finally accomplish my goal! I had Steve check me during our recent road trip and I've got all but the last couple of verses, which didn't get as much practice as the rest.

But don't feel intimidated if you're new to memorization or if "mega" for you is smaller. The ability to memorize easily is a gift of God's grace to me, so I feel challenged to steward it well. Do the best with what you've got! I can guarantee that He will bless your efforts to honor Him by hiding His Word in your heart, whether it's a handful of verses or a whole book.

I'm so glad for another round of Mega Memory Month. Though it's easy for me to memorize, I must confess that I don't take advantage of the ability as much as I could. Last year was a perfect example of the difference that memorizing alongside others can make: I memorized Ephesians 1:1-2:10 in a month, and then took nine more months to memorize the remaining four and a half chapters because I didn't have that accountability and motivation to persevere!

So I'm thinking about what to work on, and hoping you'll join me this month. What better way to start the new year than by working to hide God's Word in your heart?

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Merry Christmas from Elijah

I'm late in getting this up because I kept trying to get a better video...I finally gave up. He's three, and not particularly cooperative when the camera is on :) So although this isn't his best performance by a long shot, here's Elijah reciting the Christmas story from Luke 2:1-14. The kid's memory is crazy.

This was a fun little Christmas project, as well as a sobering reminder that children are absolute sponges. After hearing this about five or six times, Elijah could supply missing words when I paused and left them out! It only took about two weeks of reading it once a day before he basically had the entire thing memorized. He is soaking up what he hears, whether good or bad--I am freshly challenged to keep filling his ears and mind with Scripture and with grace-filled, life-giving words.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Paid to Shop

I keep waiting for an opportunity to catch up You'd think that with my mom here all last week, I would have had all kinds of time to blog and get a thousand projects done...not so much. I find myself baffled as to how I ever managed to post every day in November! Same old story around here: so many post ideas, so little time...

In the meantime, I wanted to quickly pass along a free money tip. I basically started and finished my Christmas shopping yesterday. I had bought a couple of things earlier, and I still have one or two things to pick up, but the vast majority of it was accomplished with a fast-clicking mouse and a smoking credit card yesterday. I am soooooo thankful for online shopping--give me that over a crowded mall any day of the week.

This Christmas season's greatest shopping find has been Ebates. My friend Lydia tipped me off to this great little website: You sign up, and then if you're going to shop online, you hit this website first and see if your store is one that offers cash back. If it is (and hundreds of stores are), you click to the store's website via Ebates, and then you get a set percentage of cash back on your purchase.

Sounds too good to be true, but it's for real--I got my first check from them a few months ago. I can't wait until the next checks go out, because yesterday I earned:
10% cash back from Snapfish
8% cash back from Shutterfly
8% cash back from Barnes & Noble
3% cash back from iTunes
Nice, huh? I may be too late to help you out this Christmas shopping season, unless you're a crazy procrastinator like me, but go sign up for Ebates and you can reap the benefits next time you have some online shopping to do. And if you use the links in this post, I get a referral bonus, so that'd be great :)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 186

Thanking God this week for...

1116. my mother, who taught me last week that serving your kids never ends :)
1117. the countless ways she blessed me by staying with us for a week while Steve was gone on business
1118. opportunities to run errands by myself
1119. time in the kitchen again
1120. the gift of sleep

1121. never sleeping or slumbering, always being watchful and on the throne
1122. grace to exercise self-control
1123. a clean bathroom
1124. California Chicken Salads from O'Charley's
1125. the joy of finding the desk and the kitchen counter under loads of clutter

1126. Christmas music playing nonstop
1127. grace to persevere in breastfeeding
1128. the fat rolls on Jude's thighs
1129. good books
1130. the fact that Steve doesn't travel for work very often

1131. a date with him when he got home Friday night
1132. Elijah's delight in riding the train at the mall
1133. matching sweaters for the boys...cuteness overload :)
1134. opportunities to serve friends
1135. a date with Elijah to see Seussical at Nashville Children's Theatre

1136. Elijah wearing the Cat in the Hat's red and white hat
1137. Steve and Elijah making Grandma Kannel's cranberries
1138. Elijah loving them so much he uses his fingers to get every last taste out of the bowl
1139. our church's "Christmas Spectacular"
1140. the opportunity to serve my church family by reciting the poetic gospel narrative

1141. the way reciting it publicly moves me in a way practicing on my own often doesn't
1142. the ability to memorize
1143. Elijah's ability to memorize
1144. the feeling of changing into sweats after a long day
1145. snow!

1146. an awesome night of sleep last night
1147. quiet time early this morning to get my week off to a great start
1148. the helmet of salvation
1149. a Savior who took on flesh and humbled Himself to death
1150. a Savior who now reigns as Conquering King

1151. twinkly Christmas lights in the early-morning dark
1152. Elijah's simple, unprompted gratitude: "Fanks."
1153. Elijah's exuberant dancing to Christmas music
1154. an irresistible request: "Mama dance?"
1155. Jude's gummy smiles

Monday, December 06, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 185

Thanking God this week for...

1086. tons of diapers to change = my boys' kidneys and bowels work
1087. discipline to blog every day in November
1088. the privilege of interceding for a friend
1089. hearing that God answered my prayers on her behalf
1090. prayer with friends, for the first Tuesday night in ages

1091. the bouncy seat gift from Uncle Josh that lets me eat a meal in peace
1092. grace to die to self in small ways, put my child first
1093. a note from a friend saying she missed me
1094. buttered bread
1095. the desire to practice hospitality

1096. chiropractic care
1097. our insurance deductible being met
1098. a package from friends with gifts for all of us
1099. the way Steve loves and applies the gospel
1100. freshly vacuumed floors

1101. our Christmas tree
1102. Christmas music playing nonstop
1103. play time with Elijah
1104. Jude's appetite
1105. crying children = their lungs work, they believe I care and will help, they trust me

1106. Mom's being here all week!
1107. the fact that Steve doesn't have to travel for work very often
1108. muffins from the freezer
1109. a Sunday back at church
1110. a church that feels like home, one I miss greatly when we're gone

1111. opportunities to testify to His gracious provision
1112. opportunity to lend a car to a friend
1113. five people baptized yesterday
1114. the way Grammy can get Jude to smile--however silly she sounds, it works :)
1115. hemming me in, behind and before

Friday, December 03, 2010

A Look Into My Day

Just for fun on a Friday, here's a twist on the Simple Woman's Daybook that a gal named Dea made up. I saved it more than a year ago (maybe two years ago?) and never have done it.

Today I am pondering...
Why the shape of my hair is best when the look and texture of it is worst (it desperately needs to be washed). It looks greasy but I like the way it is laying today. My short haircut is two months grown out and really needs reshaped. I'm also pondering when and where I should get that done...but not very seriously because there's too much else on my to-do list. Like Christmas shopping which I haven't even started...really, I have not purchased even one gift...

I am memorizing...
Needing to brush up on the poetic version of Milton Vincent's Gospel Primer--I'm set to recite it for our church's Christmas celebration next Sunday. I memorized it a year and a half ago, and I'm pretty sure I still have the vast majority of it. Because it's a metered, rhyming poem, it's a lot easier--so I just need to revisit it a little and make sure it's solid.

I am thankful for...
weekends, and a husband who doesn't have to work on them. TGIF.

I am studying...
the word "hem" in Psalm 139:5. Had some interesting thoughts about it yesterday and then went in a totally different direction when I looked up the Hebrew this morning. May be a blog post coming up.

Bible reading schedule for today...
I don't have much of a schedule. I'm in the Psalms--was in 139 yesterday and am lingering there--and am gearing up to start 2 Kings. I don't follow a read-through-in-a-year the past that has not been fruitful for me as much as lingering longer on shorter passages.

Other books I'm reading sporadically...
Just downloaded A.D. Chronicles #9: Ninth Witness for my Kindle yesterday...I have hard copies of the first eight and then didn't keep up with the series and now I'm three or so books behind. And then I discovered that Wrestling With an Angel by a blogger I really admire--Greg Lucas--was only $4.99 for I picked that up too. Can't wait to start it. Also, I'm dipping semi-regularly into Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional. I found a version for only $0.99 for Kindle, which compensates for the fact that it's KJV and old-fashioned language. (Kindle addiction, anyone?)

Most recent online sermon I have listened to...
Not sure. Unfortunately our church hasn't been uploading our pastor's sermons the last couple of weeks, and since we were gone over Thanksgiving I'm two weeks behind on those. I haven't listened to any others recently; the last one might have been one from Kevin DeYoung's series on Leviticus. Which I am intrigued by and definitely plan to listen to more.

Song going through my head today...
Not really going through my head, but we've listened to it a lot lately: Straight No Chaser's "The Twelve Days of Christmas." Elijah asked for it upon waking up first thing this morning and again immediately after his nap: "Pear? Pear tree?" :) We've got Christmas music playing nonstop around here, but we have a LOT of it, so no particular song is lingering in my brain.

I am anticipating...
picking up my mom from the airport tomorrow night!! Steve's going to be out of town for work training for several days, so Mom is coming down to save my sanity. No way could I survive being alone with both boys 24 hours a day for a week at this point.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
We need to finish decorating our Christmas tree tonight, and then just looking forward to a low-key Saturday with Steve before he leaves. On Sunday our church is having a few baptisms, which I'm excited about.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year for Snail Mail

I absolutely love the tradition of sending Christmas cards. In the age of email and Facebook and blogging, I love walking out to the mailbox and finding something personal and fun among the bills and advertisements nearly every day in December! I love opening envelopes with familiar handwriting and seeing notes from faraway friends. And I really love seeing their smiling faces in a photo card.

All our Christmas cards go in a basket on the dining room table, and each night for dinner we select a card and pray for the family. We do all the photo cards first, because as soon as we get through all of those, I get to plaster them all over my refrigerator! For the rest of the year, you can hardly tell what color our fridge is, and that's just the way I like it: covered with photos of loved ones, whether it's friends we see every week at church, cousins who live far away, or friends I haven't seen in years.

This year, Shutterfly is making it even easier for you to bless me with a Christmas photo card :) They are giving away 50 FREE photo cards to bloggers! I was so excited to read about this promotion on Sarah's blog, because with stamps at 44 cents apiece these days, sending out cards can get pricey pretty quickly.

We haven't taken our family photo for this year's cards yet--I'm hoping to give it a try with the tripod and remote this weekend. The last few years, we've had friends or cousins do a little photo session; this year, I wasn't quite so on the ball. I'd really love to get professional portraits done, but the budget won't really allow that this year. Maybe the meantime, a little trip down memory lane to see how our family has grown through the last few years of Christmas cards:

My, how life changes...

I can't wait to get going on this year's cards--hopefully we'll be able to get a decent picture. Elijah isn't super cooperative about that these days (he apparently prefers to be on the other side of the camera) but we did discover over Thanksgiving break that bribing him with raisins at least convinces him to sit where you want him and look in the general direction of the photographer.

Anyway, Shutterfly has tons of great cards--I'm going to have a hard time choosing. They have some premium cards printed on cardstock instead of photo paper, which would be much nicer for writing personal notes on the back. And the traditional, basic 4x8 photo cards have come a long way in the last few years, I think! This tree design is really fun for those who have too many cute pictures and can't choose just one:

As relatively new parents, we've also found that photo gifts from sites like Shutterfly are joyfully received by new grandparents at Christmastime :) For Elijah's first Christmas, they received photo ornaments for their trees. We've also given playing cards and calendars. And as much as Elijah is into puzzles right now, I think he would really love a photo puzzle of some beloved family members! Too bad he's not *quite* ready for 252 pieces yet...

Head on over to Shutterfly to do some Christmas photo-shopping...and if you're a blogger, sign up to get some free cards! And then send me one so I can put you on my fridge :)

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Photo Shoot

Most of the pictures I have of Jude to date are of him sleeping. Yesterday I decided to try and get some new ones of him awake--hoping to catch him smiling, even--so I set him up in our papasan chair by the window and started snapping.

No smiles, but oh my word do I need to compare these to similar photos I took of Elijah around this age in the same chair, with the same catchlights in his eyes...

Before long, Elijah noticed what I was doing. "Mama takes a picture!" Then, "Elijah take a picture." He went running and came back with his camera. I had to step back and take a picture of him taking a picture of Jude:
Notice how he holds the camera backwards, and puts the viewfinder up to the bridge of his nose :)

I got such a kick out of my little buddy taking pictures of his little brudder...had to share.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

I Did It!

Whew! November is over already and I actually managed to accomplish my NaBloPoMo goal. Life has indeed been crazy this month, but I'm glad I took the challenge--it's been fun to breathe some new life into my blog. And hopefully (though I'm afraid I say this every year) the momentum will continue. I have plenty of other ideas for posts and my drafts folder is still overflowing!

Thanks for reading--through the flurry of posting every November and through the lean times when I barely manage to put up a gratitude post every week. I am honored that you give me your time and consider what I have to say!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 184

"Earth should be a temple filled with the songs of grateful saints, and every day should be a censor smoking with the sweet incense of thanksgiving."
--Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

Thanking God this week for...

1066. two places to call "home"
1067. Christmas music
1068. Steve's getting an extra week of vacation this year
1069. doting grandparents
1070. safe travels

1071. Jude starting to smile at us
1072. His protection of some friends in a car accident
1073. a strong immune system
1074. a date with my handsome hubby while Grammy watched the boys
1075. opportunities to sleep in

1076. massage
1077. getting to see high school and college friends
1078. children's Tylenol
1079. grace to persevere in nursing
1080. lasagna out of the freezer for lunch today

1081. vegetable beef soup out of the freezer for supper
1082. Elijah in a plaid button-down shirt
1083. Jude in a fuzzy blue bear snowsuit
1084. hot apple cider
1085. time with Him this morning to get my Monday off to a good start

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Home Sweet Home...and Christmas Music

No pictures today...we're recovering from a long road trip after a full week with family and friends in Ohio. Plenty of unpacking to do and sleep to be had, so I'm merely popping in to say good night. I've made it this far, I'm not about to blow NaBloPoMo now!

One quick conversation-starter before I sign off for the evening: What's your favorite Christmas music? I generally wait until after Thanksgiving to start listening to Christmas music, so I always look forward to the drive home from Thanksgiving when I finally break out all my holiday albums. One of my very favorites is Savior: Celebrating the Mystery of God Become Man. I also really enjoy David Phelps' Joy, Joy--and we loved discovering Straight No Chaser's Holiday Spirits last winter. And Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas is a classic, too.

This year I am planning to buy Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God: The True Tall Tale of the Coming of Christ. Half our church is obsessed with him, and I loved the two songs from that album that were performed at our Christmas celebration last year.

So I'm curious to hear--what Christmas albums do you wear out every December?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Surfin' Saturday ~ 11.27.10

I haven't been online a whole lot this week, so I haven't read many blogs, so I don't have much to share with you today :) But thought I would offer up two quick Thanksgiving-related links--one I read this week, and one I remembered from a couple of years ago...

Thanksgiving Rightly Addressed - A Holy Experience
Thinking this week about how glad I am to know Whom to thank in this season of celebrating gratitude--and remembered this old post from (who else?) Ann, who writes, "...if gratitude is sensed only as a global, vague feeling, addressed to no one in particular, it’s as good as not sent. Non-existent."

Why I'm Ungrateful - Moore to the Point
Russell Moore notes that "gratitude is spiritual warfare" and shares a convicting story, asking, "Is there anything in your life that you’ve grown accustomed to? Is there something you prayed for, fervently, in pleading in its absence that you haven’t prayed for, fervently, in thanksgiving in its presence?"

Friday, November 26, 2010

Anger: Being the Wrong Kind of Image-Bearer

In the comments section for Monday's post about anger, Jenny asked a great question that I hope to come back to soon. Meanwhile, I found in my drafts folder and wanted to share this excerpt from a great article I read on Boundless quite a while back:

From emotional outbursts to weather complaints, anger arises from a failure to believe the truth, and belief that God owes me something: better weather or better marital intimacy or whatever.

Belief in this false promise is unbelief in God's promises.

Powlison points out that we express our anger towards God in three main ways. First, anger either ignores or rejects the sovereign freedom of God. Second, it's a refusal to believe God's promise to work for our good in all things, even drastic changes in climate. Third, it enthrones our will for comfort over God's will, effectively assuming personal supremacy over God. It puts God in the dock.

We've seen these three elements from my personal struggles with anger, noting their Satanic, not Christlike character. At the root of anger is an enthronement of our will, an idolatry of our way, and a refusal to exercise a contented trust in God's providence.

...At the cross our good and God's glory converge. Angry sinners are forgiven and God's righteous anger is preserved. At the cross we witness Jesus bearing the brunt of God's righteous anger for our unrighteous anger, cutting remarks and constant complaining.

--Jonathan Dodson, "Anger: The Image of Satan"

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful Thursday: Thanksgiving 2010

Switching to "Thankful Thursday" rather than "Multitude Monday" this week, for obvious reasons and for old times' sake--my sweet friend Kelly inspired me five years ago, long before Thankful Thursdays began, to come up with a list of 100 things I was thankful for at Thanksgiving. The tradition continues...this year I am thanking God for:

1056. knowing and loving me before time began
1057. adopting me as His child
1058. Steve
1059. the fact that five years later, I still look at him and marvel at the fact that I got to marry him
1060. Elijah

1061. the way he gets more and more fun as he gets older
1062. the progress he made in communication this summer
1063. Jude
1064. his beautiful entry into the world
1065. the anticipation of smiles and coos

1066. use of all five senses
1067. use of my arms and legs
1068. the ability to drive
1069. slings and soft structured carriers for babywearing
1070. the habit of journaling

1071. the natural substances He created for healing the body
1072. my parents
1073. my in-laws
1074. our extended families
1075. living in an age when traveling long distances to see them is entirely realistic and happens relatively often

1076. high school friends
1077. college friends
1078. friends from our old church
1079. friends from our new church
1080. friends I've made online

1081. my camera
1082. health insurance
1083. our church
1084. our pastors
1085. gospel-centered sermons

1086. sustaining me through sleep deprivation so I mostly feel OK
1087. an abundant milk supply
1088. opportunities to grow in patience and compassion
1089. a freezer full of meals
1090. clean water

1091. showers
1092. the gift of weakness, so I can experience His sustaining grace
1093. the example of Steve's servanthood
1094. online shopping
1095. comfortable mattresses

1096. snuggling with Steve to keep warm
1097. the funny things Elijah says
1098. His mercy in the face of my fear and unbelief
1099. the privilege of taking CCEF classes
1100. Steve's job

1101. the ability to read
1102. old blog posts and journals, a record of where I've been
1103. headbands
1104. peri bottles
1105. progress on our remodeling projects

1106. lidocaine
1107. pumpkin spice lattes
1108. podcasts
1109. long walks
1110. the KidTalk study

1111. recipes
1112. nerve endings in the skin
1113. rhubarb
1114. Mason jars
1115. flannel

1116. the privilege of generosity
1117. hearing my prayers
1118. others' intercession on my behalf
1119. praying *with* others, especially with Steve and with my friends Lydia & Laura
1120. written-out prayers

1121. His ability to sympathize with my weakness
1122. remembering that I am dust
1123. not breaking or snuffing me out in my weakness
1124. never leaving or forsaking me
1125. piling promises upon promises

1126. Jesus, in whom all those promises are YES!
1127. His perfect, sure, right, pure, clean, true Word
1128. the ability to memorize it
1129. its power to defeat satan's schemes
1130. teaching me to see Jesus everywhere in it

1131. Sharpie pens
1132. ice cream
1133. herbs
1134. dealing blows to my pride
1135. children's music that Elijah loves and that doesn't annoy us

1136. pretty fonts
1137. frozen chocolate
1138. the sweet smell of a nursing newborn
1139. Q-tips
1140. snail mail

1141. heat
1142. exercise ball
1143. blankets
1144. Google
1145. digital photography

1146. the hope of Heaven
1147. gospel-centered music
1148. elastic
1149. calculators
1150. GPS

1151. the change of the seasons
1152. growing and changing me
1153. never changing in His character or promises
1154. the realization that all gifts, temporal and eternal, great and small, are from His hand
1155. the cross, which purchased all these gifts for me

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Perspective on a Rough Night

Last night was among the worst nights in the last three years of parenting. Elijah was up screaming with the beginnings of a cold/possible ear infection. Jude was...well, Jude is five weeks old. And nursing is still a total nightmare for us right now. He's thriving, but let me put it to you this way: If offered the choice between going through labor and delivery, or enduring this first month of breastfeeding...I do believe I would choose pushing out an 8-pound, 12-ounce baby with a 15-inch head without any pain medication. So...yeah.

Some thoughts rolled around in my head at 2 AM, as I lay curled up next to my miserable toddler:

It is humbling...
to have to wake your sleeping husband and whisper through tears that you can't deal with the wide-awake, screaming newborn anymore.

It is comforting...
to experience the truth of the promise that God gives grace to the humble--grace in this instance coming in the specific form of a patient, understanding, sensitive, gentle, strong, selfless husband who immediately hugged me and took over.

It is frustrating...
to listen to your child scream and have no idea what is wrong because he can't or won't tell you where it hurts or why he's upset--and to feel helpless because you can't fix it.

It is reassuring...
to know that my Heavenly Father never experiences that frustration or helplessness--that His ears are attentive to His children's cries, that He knows exactly why I am upset even when *I* don't know, and that He has the power *and* the wisdom *and* the love to do what's best for me, always.

It is difficult...
to persevere in breastfeeding when you're in so much pain.

It is hope-giving...
to remember that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us...that this light momentary affliction is preparing for [me] an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison...and that Jesus endured far, far more excruciating pain to provide me with eternal life and joy.

And then, as I lay in the dark practicing gratitude for these truths, some song lyrics came to mind as a benediction (a friend sang this song at our wedding, actually):

Two kids and a dream
With kids that can scream
Too much it might seem
When it is two a.m.
When I am weak, unable to speak
Still I will call You by name
Oh, Shepherd, Savior, Pasture-Maker
Hold on to my hand...
And You say, "I AM."

(Nichole Nordeman, "I Am")

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


"Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! ...let me not wander from your commandments" (Psalm 119:5, 10).

Lord, You alone are steadfast,
and I am astoundingly not so--
erratic behavior,
scattered thoughts not taken captive,
fickle emotions,
warped desires and perceptions,
weak flesh.
"Prone to wander," as the old song goes;
utterly without hope
if the clinging, keeping, remaining steadfast
depends on me.

But You are the Giver of Life,
breathing into these dead bones
removing the blindness so I could see
and You who exchanged my heart of stone
for a heart of flesh
can, must, will
"take and seal it for Thy courts above."
You alone could reckon me righteous,
and You alone can keep me blameless.

So I cast myself on Your sovereign grace
and plead with the psalmist, the hymn writer,
"let me not wander."
Let me not wander.

Clothe me in the righteousness of my blameless Savior;
Keep me by the power of Your steadfast love.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Anger Is Not Neutral

Twice before when I've written on this blog about struggling with anger, I've been called out in the comments section. People are generally very, very resistant to the suggestion that anger is sinful. I responded in detail the first time, but have yet to come back to it after another anonymous (why are they always anonymous?) comment way, way back. I've been meaning to revisit the issue, and, well...more than a year later, I'm pulling it out of my drafts folder and finally getting around to it.

Anytime you start linking "anger" and "sin," Christians generally pull out the trump card of Ephesians 4:26 - "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger..." The argument is fairly simple: This verse separates anger and sin; therefore, it is possible to be angry and not be sinning; therefore, anger (in and of itself) is not a sin.

Following this line of reasoning, I used to believe that anger itself was not sinful, that rather, it was what you *did* with the anger that mattered. I no longer believe it's that simple. I've come to see how the emotion itself, not just the actions that accompany it, carries potential for sin and needs closer examination.

Anger is a response to a perceived wrong. We get angry when something is not as we think it should be. And so anger is not automatically valid, a neutral emotion to be expressed, "vented," voiced and affirmed. Whether anger is right or wrong depends first on whether our perception of reality is right or wrong.

Dr. David Powlison writes:
"The arousal of anger is either good or bad. It may arise for good reasons: e.g., someone I trusted betrayed trust, or someone threatens to harm a child. It may arise for bad reasons: e.g., I'm stuck in a traffic jam, or someone at work had the audacity to disagree with my brilliant ideas and plans.
The motives for anger are either good or bad. Desires, beliefs, expectations, values, intentions may be good. Jesus' anger expresses faith working through love; our anger can move in his direction. Or our motives may be bad: wrong beliefs, idolatrous desires, self-pity/self-righteousness.
And, of course...the expression of anger is always either good or bad (or, again, that complication in things human, mixed). For example, anger expresses love when it energizes you to protect the helpless by opposing victimizers. And anger expresses hate when you get into petty arguments or when you bully others.
So the potential for sin isn’t simply in how anger is expressed. There’s also sin potential in my anger itself—is it justified, or is it rooted in attitudes and expectations that exalt me and ignore the true and living God? I’d argue that most of the time, at least in my life, it’s the latter. My anger may be “understandable” to fellow sinners—but it’s not righteous in God’s sight.

That doesn't mean I think anger should be stuffed and ignored. I think it should be acknowledged (just check out the Psalms), worked through, and repented of if necessary. But I don't think it should be unchallenged.

Dr. Powlison elaborates in chapter 13 of his book Seeing with New Eyes: Counseling Through the Lens of Scripture:

“Anger, like all emotions, is something you do as a whole person. Anger involves active things such as thoughts, attitudes, expectations, words, and deeds, as well as the more passively sensed ‘feeling’ of being angry. …Anger is a common human response to a perceived wrong. It is even part of being made in the image of a moral God. Anger can be either right or wrong. …Biblically, anger may be either justified or unjustified, either wrongly or rightly expressed. It is much more than an emotion. Human anger is potentially righteous but is usually laced with sin.

“The need for an objective, moral evaluation is obscured when anger is viewed simply as a feeling. If anger is a feeling that happens to me, then it is intrinsically legitimate. ‘Just as when I cut my finger I feel hurt, so when you offend me I feel angry. I need only to get in touch with my anger and then express it in socially appropriate ways.’ But when anger is evaluated by God (e.g., James 1:19-20; 3:2-4:12) that simple equation breaks down. I acknowledge anger in order to examine it in God’s light. In all likelihood I will learn about my self-righteousness, my god playing, my demands. I will be brought to my need for God’s grace in Jesus Christ” (p. 212-213).
I hope that helps to clarify my thinking on the issue of anger. In summary: Anger isn't always wrong, but it often reveals the idolatrous desires lurking in the human heart. And if my anger is prompted and driven by idolatrous demands, then it's sinful, regardless of whether I outwardly treat people wrongly in my anger or not.

Feel free to ask more questions if I haven't been clear here.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Family Resemblance

People say Jude looks just like his big brother. And...they're absolutely right. I often have a hard time seeing things like that, but I can definitely see this one. When Jude was first born, I thought, "oh, they resemble each other a little, but Jude definitely has his own look." But the older he gets, the more like Elijah I think he looks--not Elijah now, but Elijah as a baby. In fact, I think years from now, I'll look at pictures of the two of them as babies and have a hard time remembering who is who!

I tried to go back and find a few pictures of Elijah that were similar enough to current pictures of Jude so you can see for yourself. Unfortunately I don't have many pictures of Jude awake yet, and I don't think these quite do it justice, but they might give you an idea...

Jude's hair is lighter, and his eyes at this point are also bluer than Elijah's ever were (I am still holding out hope that one of my boys will have his daddy's gorgeous, gorgeous gray-green eyes). But otherwise? No mistaking these two are brothers. And in case you're wondering who they look like as babies...

That would be me. It's funny to me that people say Elijah looks just like his daddy. I'm glad--I would love for our boys to look like their handsome dad!--but I just don't see it. Here's what Steve looked like as a baby:

So there you have it--a little trip through our family's gene pool :) I'll be curious to see how Jude changes as he gets older. I feel like Elijah's looks changed completely, so I wonder if older Jude will look like Elijah as much as baby Jude does right now.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Surfin' Saturday ~ 11.20.10

Operation Christmas Child: Lejla Allison's Story on YouTube
I have loved Operation Christmas Child ever since I first saw a promotional video for it about 6 or 7 years ago at my church. This is the first year since then that I haven't packed a shoebox--lame, I know, but life feels a little full and overwhelming right now, so I think we'll have to settle for writing a check to cover the shipping costs. This video is a beautiful story of how a shoebox changed one Bosnian woman's life.

Christmas: Thinking About Whose Birthday It Is
Last Christmas left me feeling disenchanted with gift-mania and longing for more meaningful Christmas celebrations...I love the way Ann's family celebrates Jesus' birth. Inspiring, challenging, thought-provoking at the very least...

Got the Morning Blues?
Justin Taylor offers some glorious truths to preach to yourself first thing in the morning when you really don't want to get out of bed and get going. I'm printing this off and hanging it up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Forget Not

"Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits" (Psalm 103:2).

It was almost six years ago that my mentor Diane posed the question to me: "Can you trust God to be faithful now based on His faithfulness throughout your life?" I was in the midst of a very dark, low time, and she wanted me to recount all the times I could think of that God had shown Himself to be faithful and good in my life.

Stubborn and angry and full of unbelief, I finally opened my Bible and saw, in my own handwriting in the margins of the Psalms, clear evidence of His faithfulness during a dry, lonely time five years before that. It blew me away as God met me there in His Word, with Psalms that had spoken to me so powerfully before, and spoke to me powerfully again--as well as with my own scribbled words of confidence in His faithfulness.

Soon after, I read Psalm 78 and was again convicted of how crucial it is to remember and recount God's faithfulness. It was the Israelites' forgetfulness of God's character and deeds that caused them to stray from Him time and again. To put it simply: "They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them" (Psalm 78:11)..."They did not remember" (v.42).

A few days later, flipping through the Psalms again, I ran across a familiar favorite, and one line struck me in a new way: "...forget not all his benefits..." (Psalm 103:2). God was writing a theme on my life: Forget not, O my soul.

This is a theme God has been working into my heart for more than five years now--yet I am still so forgetful. How many, many times throughout my pregnancy did I waver in faith, struggle to believe, cry in fear? And yet He lavished grace on me, once again trying to drive the point home: I am faithful. I am sovereign, wise, good and loving. I am working in all things for your good and for My glory. I will never leave you or forsake you. I will provide all that you need. TRUST ME.

So again I marvel at the good gifts He has given me, and again I tell myself: Forget not, O my soul.

"I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God?" (Psalm 77:11-13)

[a repost/revision from the archives--originally published April 13, 2005]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Saying Goodbye to Friends

Jamie and I went to the same (relatively small) church for three and a half years--but, ironically, didn't become friends until we started reading each other's blogs, right around the time Steve and I left that church. Our boys are just a few months apart, so we began scheduling playdates--for them, of course ;)

Over the last two years I have really enjoyed getting together with Jamie and her four delightful kiddos--and they are all so sweet to Elijah; he enjoys them, too. I think it's reasonable to say that "Isaiah" (Jamie prefers not to use their real names on a public blog) was Elijah's first real friend.

So it was with sadness that we invited Jamie and the kids over on Monday for our last playdate. Her husband is being transferred across the country, so they're moving in a few weeks. Our time together was bittersweet--sweet, because Jamie got her baby fix and I got to accomplish dishes and laundry while I had someone to hold Jude, and because the kids played so well together and we enjoyed adult conversation. Bitter, because I have no idea if or when we'll ever see them again :(

A few pictures from our day...Jamie and her girls fought over who got to hold Jude, each taking several turns (I loved their excitement over my little guy):

We tried to get Elijah and Isaiah to pose for a picture together...they're both three, so this was the best we could do:

We also had to get a picture of the mamas together:

And then we had to say goodbye. I don't think Isaiah was *really* that sad...but the look on his face seems to say that he's losing his best friend!

I'm so thankful for Jamie's friendship, which couldn't have come into my life at a better time; for the conversations we've had and the things I've learned from her; for the many, many ways her kids have made me laugh; for a friend for Elijah; and for the crazy number of hand-me-downs she has blessed me with, from puzzles to books to clothes to a play kitchen to even a crib! She has been SO generous to us!

I'm also thankful that we can keep in touch easily in this internet age...and that her family is moving someplace I'd love to visit on a vacation :) Best wishes in your new adventure, Jamie and family...Elijah and I will miss you!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Naming of Jude, Part 4

[read part 3]

When we decided to name our son Jude as a testimony, I wasn't thinking about his birth. But as that time grew closer, and as praying friends expressed their confidence that the birth was going to be a beautiful experience, I began to hope that his very entry into the world would be an occasion for praise—that unlike my “shellshocked and traumatized” description of my feelings immediately after Elijah's birth, my feelings after Jude's birth would be ones of joy and praise.

I prayed that God would remove my fears and enable me to trust Him, to sense His presence as I labored. I prayed that He would get glory, that His grace and goodness would be on display, that He would fill my heart and mouth with His praise. Two weeks before Jude was born, I wrote in my journal:
"Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet to be created may praise the
that he looked down from his holy height;
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners,

to set free those who were doomed to die,
that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
and in Jerusalem his praise..."

--Psalm 102:18-21

I want the story of Jude's birth to be a lasting testimony, a story of God's faithfulness not merely told now to my friends and family, but told for years to come, so that even those yet unborn would praise Him—that Jude's name would be fulfilled even as he comes into the world.

Lord, let it be said that when I was in labor, You looked down, You condescended to help me--You heard my groans and set me free from all fear. Make it so, Lord, that I and all those present may declare Your name and praise You!
And He indeed answered those prayers...but that's another long story for another day :)

In the meantime, I am thanking God for the praise He has already ordained from me, and I am praying that Jude's name would be not only a testimony to me, but a prophecy for him—that Jude will “enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4).


The whole story:
part 1
part 2
part 3

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Naming of Jude, Part 3

[read part 2]

When we went in for an ultrasound last June, and discovered that our new baby was a boy, the name “Jude” reverberated in my head the entire way home. It wasn't my favorite boy name, but because of the meaning, I almost couldn't fathom naming our little boy anything else—it felt like the name Jude had been chosen for us. God knew I would need the testimony.

Steve and I talked about it, and we both really liked the idea of his name being so meaningful. So our second son officially became Jude. A few weeks later, in July, I wrote in my journal:

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;

he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

--Habakkuk 3:17-19

Father, my heart hesitates as I read and write these words; I fear the unknowns of this fall. ...I hesitate to echo Habakkuk's prayer. These are words I need and want to declare—yet my faith is so weak.

I don't want my joy to depend on my circumstances. I want to display deep, abiding trust in You. Help me, Lord—enable me to rejoice in You no matter what, to take joy in You who have saved me, who are saving me, and who will save me forever. Lord, receive even the naming of our son Jude as an act of faith—trusting that by Your grace, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Cause me to rejoice in You; enable me to trust You and choose to praise You whatever may come. Be my strength, Lord, so that like Habakkuk, I can have “sure-footed confidence” in You even amid difficult circumstances.

[part 4]

Monday, November 15, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 184

Yesterday was our first Sunday back at church since Jude was born. It was so good to be back with our church family, to sing God's praises with the saints and hear His Word preached and fellowship with our brothers and sisters! I was left feeling especially thankful to God for...

1056. leading us to this broken but beautiful gospel-centered church
1057. their love for and support of us
1058. all the people who not only oohed and aahed over Jude, but asked how I was doing
1059. the sense I had that they really cared, and that if I'd needed to, I could have been completely real about struggling
1060. being able instead to testify to His abundant grace and mercy

1061. being able to sing worship songs with zeal, from the heart
1062. our awesome new cry room, complete with a video feed of the sermon
1063. great conversations with a friend in the cry room after the sermon
1064. the truth and beauty of His Word
1065. the privilege of having it and being able to read it

1066. Christ has regarded my helpless estate and hath shed His own blood for my soul
1067. My sin, not in part but the whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My Favorite Guys

Still working on Jude's newborn pictures--in the meantime, I'll share a few shots of my other guys :)

First, we're introducing Elijah to babywearing...a friend of mine who made me a ring sling also made a little pouch sling for Elijah. So now he can carry stuffed animals like we carry Baby Jude:

Then, he's been helping Daddy downstairs in the basement. When Daddy uses loud power tools, Elijah gets to wear these cool ear-protection headphones, which he gets a big kick out of:

Last weekend (and most of this last week, really) the weather here was absolutely gorgeous, so we went to the park twice. Nothing melts my heart like watching Daddy climb all over the playground equipment with Elijah:

And finally, a few nights ago, Steve was sitting on the couch holding Jude. Elijah grabbed one of his stuffed animals and climbed up next to Daddy to snuggle together:

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Surfin' Saturday ~ 11.13.10

Lots of interesting reads this week! I've spent some middle-of-the-night time reading while I attempt to get Jude back to sleep after nursing. A few discoveries:

Women Speak Out About What's Gone Wrong with the United States Birthing System
"Because so many women don't have an image of what a natural, empowered birth looks like, there is a lot of fear surrounding the act of giving birth. Accordingly, the majority of women give their inner authority over to doctors in their birth process. They trust the doctors more than themselves. The problem with this is that many women aren't aware that the majority of her doctor's medical decisions are being made today for monetary and legal reasons, and not necessarily for the good of her and her baby."

Listening to Myself – Words on the Side
My friend Christin relates a poignant story about her three-year-old...definitely saw myself in little Noelle :)

What is Success? Life in the Upside Down Kingdom - Part 2 » A Holy Experience
The second part of Ann's keynote address at the Relevant conference (I linked to part one last week!) was inspiring--it encouraged me to be completely real and honest in writing about Jude's name and birth and the postpartum period. Just one of many amazing quotes:

"The Christian needs another Christian who speaks God’s Word to him. She needs her again and again when she becomes uncertain ...This is the holy work of a blog, so don’t every feel shy or ashamed or embarrassed that you blog. Because the body of Christ needs to speak to itself and it needs to speak to the world ...I get discouraged and I become uncertain and I fall down and His word through your words is the connective tissue in the body of Christ and we need each other. Please. Keep. Writing."

A Feast Fit for the King | Christianity Today
"...we in the church have much to answer for ourselves. Here's a question, which I ask myself as well: Why have we ignored food for so long? Why are we not attending more seriously to Paul's injunction to literally "eat or drink … for the glory of God"? Beyond a quick word of thanks before meals, have we seriously considered how our eating and drinking either reveals or suppresses the glory of God? I don't believe we have. Most of us have been living in a kind of self-absorbed somnolence that may be partly rooted in our own lingering dualism that privileges the soul over the body."

You Cannot Bind Their Hearts to Christ « Beauty in Every Place
"Formula-based parenting appeals to us because it usually promises something we desperately want. But we cannot see the full picture, be it good or bad. It is certainly my prayer that God will bind the hearts of my children to Christ; and I will labor and toil to nurture and instruct them in God’s Word. But it is the Spirit of God who transforms them. It’s not earned by my parenting, their behavior, or even my prayers. Just as every other aspect of our life must be Gospel-centered, so must our parenting."

That one led me on a rabbit trail through a few other wonderful posts about parenting and discipline:
Practical Theology for Women: Discipline v. Punishment or Parenting Our Children the Way God Parents His

The Mystery of Discipline - Sally Clarkson

Practical Theology for Women: The Gospel is the Environment for Our Parenting

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Naming of Jude, Part 2

[read part 1 first]

Moments after I saw two pink lines last winter, already Leah’s words were echoing in my mind: This time I will praise the LORD.

That became my prayer, my resolve, my plea for grace. Throughout my pregnancy, I prayed that God would grant me a completely different experience this time around—that birth would be a positive, healing experience; that He would protect me from postpartum depression, enable me to delight in the new baby.

But I also asked that even if it was really hard again, even if a hundred overwhelming challenges came my way, that He would give me the grace to praise Him, to hold fast to Him, to glorify His name and show His faithfulness.

Adjusting to motherhood after Elijah's birth was incredibly difficult for me. But I was so faithless, so weak and so unwilling to fight. This time I prayed that God would enable me to fight for joy, that He would put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.

On February 9, the day I found out I was pregnant, I wrote in my journal:

I’m praying that His perfect, unfailing love will drive out all my fear. I’m praying that He’ll give me grace to trust Him, come what may. He is good, and He does good. I am securely in the palm of His hand, and He ordains only what is best. I grieve to think of my faithlessness, my unbelief, how I have dishonored Him in the past.

May it not be so this time, Lord! Make me faithful. Fill me with trust in You and use me to point people to Christ as the only source of hope.

This time, I will praise You.

[part 3]

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Naming of Jude, Part 1

Jude got his name, really, before he was even conceived.

He has Tim Keller to thank. It was in May 2009 that I read a transcript of one of Keller's sermons, called “The Girl Nobody Wanted”--a sermon about Leah (audio version available here). Most of you are familiar with the story from Genesis 29: Leah, the unwanted wife of Jacob, begins having sons. And as Keller explains:

Every time she says, "Now my husband will love me." "Now my husband will love me." "Now my husband will love me." And then it says she conceived again, and then she gave birth to a son and she said, "This time I will praise the Lord." Finally, no talk about her husband. What had happened? Through this suffering she stopped turning to her husband, she stopped looking to her children, she stopped looking to anything else and she said I'm going to praise the Lord. And at that moment she got her life back.

...If there's anybody in this building right now that feels like somebody else has ruined my life, look at Leah. Leah gets her life back. She doesn't have to be bitter. She doesn't have to hate. She doesn't have to deceive back. She says, "This time I will praise the Lord." I won't look to anything else to give me what only Jesus Christ can be for me. I will not add anything to Jesus Christ as a requirement for being happy. Do that, and you'll get your life back.

Keller's words struck me deeply that afternoon. I was still very much struggling in motherhood; in fact, only weeks before, I had written my painfully honest blog series about it. I saw myself in Leah; I saw the idolatry of my heart and the call to praise.

Perhaps motherhood was an idol for me; certainly, comfort and ease were (are) towering idols. After reading the sermon, I wrote in my journal on May 16, 2009:

Father, I am starting to realize, after reading Tim Keller's sermon “The Girl Nobody Wanted” on Genesis 29, that perhaps I need to repent of an idolatry I did not realize—the idolatry of motherhood.

How much of my misery is because I put my hope in motherhood? Have I subconsciously thought that becoming a mother would make me valuable, give my life meaning and purpose? And so in Your grace You have torn down those idols incredibly quickly, leaving me disillusioned as I discover that motherhood is nothing like I expected, that I cannot be the mother I vainly believed I would easily be. And instead of bringing me joy and being a delightful road of growing and cherishing and thriving...You have allowed motherhood to be for me a hard road of anguish and sacrifice and disappointment [and failure]—because jealously, You cannot allow me to hope in motherhood, to find joy and identity and meaning and life through being a mother. Those things come only from You.

And so I look at Leah, who [unlike me] had every reason to be absolutely miserable, who surely felt like her life had been ruined, and I see how she got her life back in spite of crushing pain and disappointment.

...I can choose to say with Leah, “This time I will praise the Lord.”

Forgive me, Father, for...adding [so many] things to Jesus Christ as a requirement for being happy. ...I want to live, Lord. Grant me the grace to praise You, to look to and hope in You alone.

Steve and I weren't yet trying to have another baby. I was definitely not ready. But I had the distinct sense that afternoon that we would have another boy—so that we could name him Judah (or rather, Jude—same meaning, but I liked the shortened version better). So that every time I saw my son, every time I called his name, I would be reminded: “This time, I will praise the Lord.”

[part 2]
[part 3]
[part 4]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


I may have bitten off more than I could chew in signing up for NaBloPoMo.

I am *longing* to write these days. I feel like I have a lot to say. But as I settle into the new normal around here, it feels like a major accomplishment just to keep my children clean and fed. As I posted on Facebook yesterday, I am back in that season of life when "shower" gets written on the to-do list--and today, unlike yesterday, it did *not* get triumphantly crossed off.

I've been working on a post about how Jude got his name, but it's turning into a multi-part series. I haven't written out his birth story yet. And I've got plenty more ideas for posts. It's not a matter of having writer's block, for once; it's a matter of struggling to carve out the time to sit and think and type.

So for tonight, I'll have to leave you with another non-post like last Friday. It's 8:42, and Jude has a full belly. He hasn't been giving me long stretches at night this week, which means I need to go to bed now so I don't feel like I got hit by a truck when he wakes up again around midnight.

Here's hoping for some time to write tomorrow...

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 11.9.10

While I continue to work on more substantial posts...the Simple Woman's Daybook:

Outside my window...
dark. Winter is depressing. I don't like how it gets dark so early--especially early here since we're on the very eastern edge of the time zone. At least the weather was gorgeous today! But, it's also time for the annual invasion of box elder bugs. They cover the back of our house, and come in the back door at every opportunity. Harmless, and generally not horrifying to me as far as bugs go--but very annoying.

I am thinking...
about the irony of how when I have lots of time, I have nothing to say, and now that I have lots to write about, it's hard to squeeze in the time.

I am thankful for...
my amazing, amazing husband. Watching Steve as a dad makes me fall in love all over again. And the way he cares for me...this man out-serves just about anyone I know, gladly and without complaint. I'm also endlessly thankful for the level of postpartum help I get, both from our families and from him. He has a few extra vacation days left this year, so he's taking half days here and there to help ease the transition. It was so nice to have him home at noon today and get a wonderful, uninterrupted nap!

From the kitchen...
we're getting meals from women at our church this week and next--what a blessing! We're still eating off the giant pan of chicken pot pie we received yesterday (along with the most evil-looking chocolate peanut butter pie). I did manage to get some raw applesauce made tonight and some apples sliced for dehydrating--I hit up a good sale on organic Galas over the weekend.

I am wearing...
navy sweatpants and a turquoise shirt. Klassy.

I am creating...
milk. A lot of it. Also working on Jude's newborn shoot--I need to attempt to process the pictures I took last Friday, but am procrastinating because I don't really know what I'm doing.

I am going...
to write out Jude's birth story soon.

I am reading...
on my new Kindle! Steve got me a "Birth Day" present--and it's great for reading while I nurse :) My discretionary funds are running low at the moment, but thankfully there are hundreds of public domain books available free for Kindle. Right now I'm about a quarter of the way through the only Charles Dickens book I've ever read (other than excerpts from Great Expectations for freshman English in HS): Bleak House. I'm also enjoying Charles Spurgeon's devotional Beside Still Waters.

I am hoping...
that nursing will stop hurting soon. Right now it makes me want to shoot myself.

I am hearing...
the sounds of Steve's power tools. What's notable is not what I'm creating, but what he's creating. The other day he made this really intricate elephant-shaped jigsaw puzzle for Elijah; just now he came upstairs with a bear he cut out. There is no end to that man's talents!

Around the house...
Elijah is full of energy and dancing all around. Jude is sleeping in his swing and will be waking up soon to eat (ugh). The sink is full of the dishes I should be doing right now instead of blogging :) And I actually managed to do a load of laundry today--so I've got a basket of baby stuff waiting to be folded.

One of my favorite things...
hugging and cuddling with Steve without a giant pregnant belly in the way. We both have a fresh appreciation for being able to get close again!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
I'm not really making "plans" these days. Keeping it low-key. I do need to take the boys to the library tomorrow, as Elijah's books are due, and that will be a good little outing. I'd like to get together with my friend Lydia, but we're still trying to work that out. Otherwise, just settling in to our new normal here at home.

A picture thought I am sharing...
a sneak peek from Jude's newborn shoot:

Monday, November 08, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 183

I'm over halfway through my first day at home alone with the boys, and so far, so good. God is faithful...the manna is on the ground for me to gather abundantly and never run out. Today I am thanking Him for...

1046. providing quiet time first thing this morning for me to seek His face and quiet my soul
1047. Steve getting Elijah's breakfast all out and ready before he left for work/before Elijah got up
1048. Elijah's patience (am I actually writing that?!)
1049. a much-awaited phone call from my best friend, timed perfectly: I had just finished nursing Jude and had just put in Mary Poppins for Elijah to finish watching
1050. my new baby carrier, just arrived in the mail today

1051. a phone call from Steve, to check in and see how we're doing
1052. Elijah's desire to be a helper
1053. gobs of food that a friend from church brought for us
1054. keeping me keenly aware of my dependence on Him, my weakness, my desperate need
1055. His power and strength, made perfect in my weakness

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Little Brudder

People have asked how Elijah is adjusting to the newest member of our family. So far he's doing well. He's perhaps been a little more...emotionally fragile?...over the last couple of weeks. But on the whole, he's been remarkably accepting of the crying (he picked up on that part of his book quite well, and for the first several days would say "It's OK, Jude!" in a concerned voice every time Jude made the slightest peep :) He generally leaves Jude alone but is doing great with gentle touches--he loves to get "tiny toes!" and will give Jude the lightest little kiss on the head when prompted. We haven't seen any jealousy so far; in fact, I'm surprised by how patient he has been when he frequently gets the response, "As soon as Jude is done nursing, then we can..."

We'll see what life is like on Monday, with the doting grandmothers gone and just Mama to care for both boys...but at this point I am thankful for my laidback not-so-little man and his acceptance of his "little brudder."

And just for fun, here's another shot of Jude. Grandma was watching him while I napped, and every time she took her hand off him, he startled and stirred. So she put her Bible on his belly so she could shift positions :) He really does remind me more and more of Elijah as a baby:

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Surfin' Saturday ~ 11.6.10

In past years of NaBloPoMo, I've featured links to other interesting things on Saturdays, and photos on Sundays. This gives me a break from having to come up with so much original content, and allows me to step away from the computer more on the weekends. So without further ado, the first installment of "Surfin' Saturday"...

Homemade Velveeta
Between our moms being here, our church providing some meals, and having worked my tail off to fill our chest freezer with meals, I am enjoying a nice break from having to cook. But when I get back into my kitchen groove, I want to try this. The picture looks revolting--but let's face it, store-bought Velveeta is revolting. I have to admit that there are a couple of favorite recipes around here that call for I cringe and throw it in, since I'm not a skilled/experienced enough cook to know how to properly substitute real cheese. I've tried, without success. So I'm intrigued by the idea of homemade Velveeta!

Homepreschool and Beyond
Steve and I haven't made any decisions about school--it's still three years off for us, so we have no idea at this point whether we'll homeschool or send Elijah somewhere. But I know there are plenty of things I could be doing (and am not doing) to help Elijah grow and learn before he's ready for school. I haven't looked at this site yet, but a friend of mine linked to it a couple of days ago and I'm hoping to check it out soon.

Blogging in the Upside-Down Kingdom
Ann Voskamp posted part one of the text of her keynote speech from the Relevant blogging conference (as well as an audio link)--as usual, she's eloquent and inspiring. I'm printing the "prayer for writers" to put in my journal!

Introduction: Reading the Bible "Christianly"
A friend of ours is teaching a new series for Sunday school at our church. I downloaded the first lesson and listened during middle-of-the-night feedings this week, and I'm excited about where it's going to go. He's planning to teach, both in theory and in practice, how to see Christ everywhere in the Bible--how to read all of Scripture in light of the gospel, rather than as disconnected morality stories or as sound-bite verses.

Friday, November 05, 2010


Day 5 and I almost lost the challenge already. OY. I think NaBloPoMo is going to be a little more difficult this year than I anticipated...

As the mother of a newborn, I highly, highly value my sleep--so this brief little check-in is the best I can do today. There's no way I'm staying up to write a thoughtful blog post; I'm going to bed!

Back tomorrow with some links, and planning to put up pictures every Sunday this month :)