Monday, August 30, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 173

Thanking God this week for...

830. deep early-morning conversations with Steve
831. OxiClean, and the way it + boiling water fixed shirts I thought were hopeless
832. cooler temperatures for walks and play time outside
833. furniture to dust
834. old t-shirt rags

835. finding my missing wallet insert (driver's license) at Kroger
836. free prints from Walgreens
837. living close to Nashville
838. snappy grapes
839. lessons learned from my mistakes

840. the precious, hilarious way Elijah prays at dinner
841. ice packs
842. grace to get out of self-absorption and intercede for others
843. an evening walk with my guys
844. Steve singlehandedly switching the guest mattress and our mattress

845. Steve's hard work and motivating me to open up and clean painted-shut windows
846. the awesome organic tomatoes I've been getting for $1/lb. all summer
847. meeting me in Running Scared and in Psalm 27
848. the yummy orange-cranberry streusel bread Steve made for breakfast yesterday
849. playdate with a friend today

holy experience

Saturday, August 28, 2010

I Will See

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living" (Psalm 27:13).

I think I've always read this verse as, "I am not experiencing God's goodness right now, but I am confident that before I die, He will eventually be good to me again." In other words, it's His goodness that is temporarily missing--His blessing or favor, perhaps--and the psalmist expresses faith that it will return. Seems like an admirable expression of faith...

This morning it occurs to me that what's missing isn't God's goodness, but my sight. He has not (nor will He ever) temporarily ceased showing goodness, to resume at some point in the future, hopefully before I die. Rather, my eyes have been blinded--by sin and my idols, by satan, by circumstances--and I have been rendered temporarily unable to see clearly.

In other words, to paraphrase the verse differently, "I am not sensing God's goodness right now, but I am confident that before I die, He will open my blind eyes and enable me to see the goodness which has been at work all along."

Lord, make it so. Give me eyes of faith to behold Your goodness and glory, no matter what I am facing. Give me a heart to trust that it is my vision, not Your goodness, that has failed. Help me believe with the psalmist's confident assurance that You will restore my sight, because I am in Christ, and He came to do exactly that: to recover sight for the blind.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Hope Continually

"But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more" (Psalm 71:14).

Psalm 71 instantly transports me back to August 2007, because it's the psalm I memorized in preparation for labor. And the memories aren't pleasant: on my hands and knees in a hospital bed, sweat pouring over me, more terrified than I have ever been before or since, desperately crying over and over, "Be not far from me, O God; come quickly, O my God, to help me" (v. 12). be completely honest...feeling like He wasn't helping me.

In hindsight, I can see how He was; I came away from the experience with a healthy baby boy, and I managed to deliver him vaginally, without drugs or complications. But I have to admit that I was still pretty emotionally traumatized by that birth and its aftermath.

When I came back to the psalm earlier this summer, one phrase in verse 14 jumped out at me: "hope continually." The accompanying study note says, "He promises to hope continually, leaving to God the timing of the answer to these prayers."

Hope is not a short-term, temporary mindset; it is a lifelong one. Immediate answers would not leave much need for hope or faith. It's when the answers are delayed and God seems silent that I must trust His promises. Hope means believing that His Word is true even when my emotional perspective indicates otherwise.

Hope continually. Not hope for a while and then give up when nothing seems to change. Keep on asking, keep on seeking, keep on knocking. Keep on believing that He will complete the good work He began in me. Keep on trusting that He will provide the grace I need.

Hope continually. Believe--hope against hope--that I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 172

Thanking God this week for...

812. the ability to call/email my husband while he's at work
813. the same children's books read four thousand times
814. being the same yesterday, today and forever
815. the vast variety of fonts in existence
816. valuing and creating extravagant beauty

817. a pizza date with my little man
818. a husband who thinks a big salad is a satisfying dinner
819. a long life-update email from a dear friend
820. psalms that speak exactly to where I am
821. an opportunity to show hospitality

822. Steve's huge help preparing and cleaning up--without which I would have been in severe pain later that night/the next day
823. the joy of watching Elijah laugh and play with little boys his age
824. the opportunity to use my gifts/skills to help with the new website for Steve's family's business
825. how rare it is for Elijah to be sick
826. grace to joyfully stay home with him yesterday

827. children's ibuprofen and Benadryl
828. grace to do the little things--get up early, take a walk
829. mercies new every morning

holy experience

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 8.17.10

I think I've lost my blogging mojo.

I've got a HUGE list of prompts and ideas in my Blogger drafts file...but for whatever reason, haven't managed to turn any of them into thoughtful posts lately. I'm hoping to work on that; meanwhile, when all else fails, the Simple Woman's Daybook...

Outside my window...
dark and windy. I do like a good summer afternoon thunderstorm.

I am thinking...
about how ugly I was today--not externally, maybe, but in my thoughts and attitude. Faced with a string of minor inconveniences and annoyances, I mentally went ballistic. I guess I should be thankful for the small sign of grace that I at least can recognize that ugliness (or that I can mostly suppress it and not be outwardly rude and angry)...but to be honest, it's hard not to be discouraged when it feels like God is constantly revealing/exposing sin and not so much transforming my sinful heart.

I am thankful for...
Elijah's sudden renewed interest in being read to. I had slacked off for a while, and then it was disappointing because he started being very uncooperative about letting me read to him. He LOVES to look at books by himself, but had stopped bringing me books and often wouldn't even come sit with me if I invited him to read. Here lately he's eager to read with me again, and I'm so glad. And trying to remember gratitude when his requests interrupt me, and when the book in his hand is a LONG one I've read six times that day already :)

From the kitchen...
I am not cooking tonight. After our long, exhausting morning/afternoon of errands, I don't have the time or energy to tackle the new recipe I'd planned to try tonight (scalloped tomatoes from Smitten Kitchen). And unfortunately I can't swap it with either of the next two days' planned meals because the chicken they both are based on is still raw in the fridge. I did manage to put a good home-cooked meal on the table last night: yummy pulled pork--a little too salty, but very moist and tender. And, it yielded not only plenty of leftovers for this week's lunches, but three quart-sized bags for the freezer! Elijah also helped me make we felt very Southern at dinner last night :)

I am wearing...
a pink t-shirt with ruched sides that I really love, borrowed from my sister-in-law, and a long black knit skirt that's not a maternity skirt but that has been a wardrobe staple this pregnancy because of the stretchy elastic waistband. And those famous flip-flops. I told you they never leave my feet in the spring/summer/fall.

I am creating...
a journal entry for the shared journal I received (and was supposed to pass on) an embarrassing number of months ago. Maybe a poem, if inspiration strikes later tonight.

I am going...
to blog very soon about the Vanderbilt study we've been participating in this summer. I keep wanting to be thankful for it on Mondays and realizing it will make no sense to you because I haven't mentioned it at all. And now it's almost over--so I am also going to miss it a whole lot when we're done.

I am reading...
still just counseling books and birth books. I miss reading fiction! I recently finished War of Words, one of the two main textbooks for my counseling class (which is rapidly coming to a close--where did this summer go?!). To prepare for childbirth, I'm working through Running Scared: Fear, Worry, and the God of Rest as well as a related study guide called When I Am Afraid. I've also picked up Christ Centered Childbirth (so far I'm not's not a good sign when it's obvious that a book was self-published, not picked up by a major publishing house) and Birthing from Within. Grantly Dick-Read's Childbirth Without Fear is on deck. (Noticing a theme here??)

I am hoping...
to carve out some time this week and next for some long-overdue, much-needed catch-up phone conversations with old, dear friends.

I am hearing...
"Jude Doxology"--an old worship song I sang and loved in college. The friend who introduced me to it sent me the music a while back, and just now I had the brainstorm to search for it and buy it on iTunes. Not quite the same as singing it in my friends' townhouse accompanied by only guitars late on a weeknight--but still fun.

Around the house...
the bathroom desperately needs to be cleaned...but do you know how hard it is to scrub a bathtub when you're seven months pregnant? That's my least favorite chore *without* an enormous belly in the way. Alas...

One of my favorite things...
fresh peach season! We've got a whole box of YUMMY, juicy local peaches on the kitchen table--two boxes, actually, but we discovered we don't prefer the texture of white peaches, even though the flavor is good. So I need to do some baking with those--probably this and/or this.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
tonight I'm headed over to my friend Lydia's house for prayer (and lots of chatting, let's be honest :) with a few moms from church--always a HUGE blessing to my soul each week. Tomorrow is Elijah's three-year well-check at the pediatrician, a playdate with a church friend while we're in the neighborhood, and then a prenatal appointment for me. On Friday we're hosting a new couple at church for dinner, and on Saturday (depending on Steve's plans) I might go to Nine Months and Beyond for a "tea" for pregnant women, to check out some doula options.

A picture thought I am sharing...
Elijah got an apron for his birthday--so now he's all set to "help" me in the kitchen. Saturday morning, we made whole wheat bread (third time was finally a charm with this new recipe--the previous two attempts both collapsed in the oven--you'd think after more than a YEAR of making my own bread I'd have it mastered by now) and Steve was around to take pictures.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 171

My weekly gratitude lists, for the most part, typically look like they could just as easily fall under the title "things that make me happy" or "fun gifts I've received." But I've been mulling over another side of gratitude, starting with this verse I recently memorized in Ephesians:

" thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..."
(Ephesians 5:20)

God doesn't let us off the hook here. We're not instructed simply to give thanks for the things we like, for the gifts we asked for, for the ways He works that make sense to us. (I read the other day that so much of the time when we talk about "answered prayer" what we really mean is "God did what I wanted Him to do"...convicting!) No, this verse sets the bar much higher. How can we give thanks for everything? How can we have eyes to call the ugly beautiful?

It's the cross. It's the perfect-sinless-life and brutal-sacrificial-death that purchased every good gift I don't deserve AND ensured that every trial, every gift-that-doesn't-seem-like-a-gift, is in fact accomplishing God's good purposes in my life. When I look through the lens of the cross, I can give thanks always and for everything--in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
"So much of our praise to the Lord is limited to the moments when we have determined that what He has done is good: the times of physical healing, financial provision, improved circumstances, restored relationships, or solved problems. In these situations, we praise God for His faithfulness. But...God is active in every moment of our lives, and He brings all things into our lives for our redemptive good. It is very, very important that we believe this! When we do, we have hearts that can speak with humility and worship. We realize that God has us just where we need to be so that His purposes for us and His promises to us may come to pass."
(Paul Tripp, War of Words, p. 74)
So this week I'm thanking God for...

801. Jesus' death purchasing every good gift I don't deserve
802. Jesus' death ensuring that every hard thing that doesn't *seem* like a gift accomplishes God's good purposes in my life
803. the fact that motherhood has been exceedingly hard for me
804. Joni Eareckson Tada's powerful testimony on Revive Our Hearts
805. hip pain that God promises will produce in me perseverance, character and hope

806. the presence of mind to pray for those things and not simply for relief from the pain
807. the fact that Elijah isn't potty trained yet
808. the humbling experience of asking for and receiving parenting advice from someone who doesn't have children
809. Elijah's language delays

810. grace to not grumble and complain when our air conditioner broke last week
811. His wisdom in only providing grace for today, not for tomorrow's imagined needs or trials

holy experience

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Five Years

So. There's this man in my life. He's kind of amazing. Maybe I've mentioned him once or twice?
This month Several weeks ago (where is the summer going?!) we celebrated FIVE years of marriage. Wow. And what a ride it's been. In that time we've moved several states away from family, bought a house, had a son, and conceived another baby.

I still thrill to see his car pull into the driveway at night. I still love to flirt with him. Even after living with him and knowing him better than anyone, I still think he's brilliant and hilarious and wise and selfless. I have so much respect for him. I think that says a lot.

Even after seeing the very worst of me, he still loves me. That's one of life's great mysteries I'll never figure out.

I'm hoping this baby looks like him. Or at the very least has his eyes.

Happy (belated) anniversary, Steve. Here's to dozens and dozens more.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 170

Thanking God today for all the blessings of last week, including...

778. a visit from Grammy and Pops
779. their delight in Elijah, and his in them
780. house filled with laughter
781. Dad painting the dining room where Steve and his dad had patched
782. homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream, my special request, Dad's specialty

783. shopping trip with Mom, being spoiled, girl time
784. the adorable little elephant hat she bought for the baby
785. Mom drying dishes, giving Elijah a bath
786. Mom lighting a fire under me, helping me clean/organize, taking stuff for her garage sale
787. the resulting decluttered office, bare floor I haven't seen in months

788. lunch at Five Guys Burgers and Fries (my first time) with Mom, Dad and Elijah
789. hugs from arms that have hugged me and loved me longer than anyone
790. catch-up phone call with my college roommate
791. Jesus' taking on flesh and knowing our suffering & temptation firsthand
792. sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within me, not leaving me on my own to do the impossible

793. Elijah and Daddy coloring together, going to Lowe's together
794. early-morning kicks from the baby
795. early-morning hugs from Steve
796. early-morning time with the Lord
797. AMAZING fresh local peaches

798. scrapbooking retreat with friends
799. vast field of sunflowers
800. too many blessings written down this week to type out here

holy experience