Monday, October 25, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 181

Yesterday evening I opened my visual journal for the first time since Jude's birth--I was itching to make a gratitude list. Funny how once you start counting blessings, you find it hard to stop...

I started scribbling down all the gifts my generous Father has showered on me over the last few days and before I knew it, I had 112 blessings listed. Such grace. Rather than retyping the entire list here, or even choosing a few highlights, tonight I am thanking God for one that encompasses the rest:

1043. grace to TASTE and SEE that He is good.

He is always good--but I in my fear and unbelief am so often blind to His faithfulness and love. Over the last few days He has given me fresh sight, and I am grateful to feel grateful.

holy experience

Saturday, October 23, 2010

It's a Boy!

Our newest addition is finally here!

Jude Alexander Kannel
October 21, 2010 - 11:58 a.m.
8 pounds, 12 ounces
21.5 inches long

Elijah meets his "little brudder" for the first time:

The awesome ladies who served me and my family and helped bring Jude safely into the world: my doula, Dee; my midwife, Susie; and her assistant, Cindy. These women were amazing!

And my husband was absolutely awesome as well...not to mention how well he's taking care of me and our boys(!). Seeing Steve as a daddy never fails to melt my heart. And he's an endlessly patient husband/nurse, too.

I can't wait to tell you all about Jude's name and the story of his birth. He was worth waiting for! You'll have to be patient, though, as we don't have a laptop and my priorities are snuggling/nursing my little guy and resting in bed :) Thanks so much for your prayers--God answered them so mightily!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 180

Thanking God this week for...

1002. a visit from Lydia and her sweet baby girl
1003. warm chocolate chip cookies, baked with help from Elijah
1004. Steve teaching Elijah how to play Memory
1005. a surprise phone call from my brother
1006. way to order shoes for Elijah--free 2-day shipping AND free return shipping!

1007. naps for Elijah and for me
1008. a short walk to the library
1009. fresh, sweet, crisp apples
1010. having dinner prepared before lunch
1011. stacks of folded laundry

1012. the fact that He is FOR me
1013. courage to be honest about my struggles
1014. other people's courage to be vulnerable about theirs
1015. giving me so much peace last week
1016. hard words from friends

1017. bank drive-thru windows
1018. His faithful love in spite of my unbelief
1019. opportunities to encourage friends with what I'm learning
1020. opportunity for hospitality
1021. leaves crunching underfoot

1022. cool fall mornings
1023. a pizza date with Elijah
1024. snuggle time with Elijah on the couch
1025. orange trees against a cloudless blue sky
1026. prenatal appointments at home

1027. the adorable little pouch sling a friend made for Elijah, so he can carry stuffed animals when we carry his baby sibling :)
1028. a free movie rental
1029. backrubs
1030. six pounds of gorgeous tomatoes at the farmers' market, just when I thought they were done for the season
1031. homemade tomato soup and grilled cheese

1032. Steve and Elijah carving a pumpkin
1033. homemade pizza
1034. Ohio State football, live on the computer
1035. His Spirit's conviction
1036. the promise that suffering is temporary and joy will be eternal

1037. an after-dinner walk with my guys
1038. Steve fixing leaky shower, toilet
1039. Elijah lying on the floor on his belly, chin in hand, looking at a book
1040. reminders that I am not the center of the universe
1041. "grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home"
1042. Psalm 56, 57

holy experience

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 10.15.10

Late night, quiet house, in the mood to blog. So, for lack of any original thoughts, the Simple Woman's Daybook...

Outside my window...
dark, and cold. Steve says we can't sleep with the window open and the box fan in the window tonight because the forecasted low is 38 degrees. Party pooper. It's sort of hilarious how our roles reverse in pregnancy...I am usually the cold one, but being pregnant, especially this pregnant, makes me HOT.

I am thinking...
that I shouldn't have fixated on a specific date again. I had been hoping for a 10.10.10 baby, and found myself getting antsy last Sunday when it didn't happen. God granted me such amazing peace all this past week, but then I went and fixated on today. It was Steve's granny's birthday and we both just adore her--I thought it would be so fun to give her a birthday present of a new great-grandbaby--alas, it was not to be, and I've been antsy again today.

I am thankful for...
the aforementioned peace, which could only be by the grace of God. The fact that He, not I, is in charge of the timing of this baby's birth. The fact that I did *not* go into labor late last night or early this morning after Steve worked an 18-hour shift and was completely exhausted. The bonus that he got to be home all day today, and a long nap and a long, hot shower while he cared for Elijah. And the fact that he took me out to Panera for dinner because I just did not feel like cooking anything.

From the kitchen...
See above :) Actually, I'm up right now because I've got loaves of whole wheat bread in the oven...such a glorious smell! Otherwise, I'm so not in the mood to cook. Meal planning is an absolute necessity for me to be successful at preparing dinners for my family, and I'm finding that it's very difficult to do meal planning when I have no idea when I'll go into labor. I don't want to go buy groceries for a week's worth of meals, only to have food go bad because I had a baby and didn't end up making those meals. So I've been planning only a couple of days at a time, and that ran out yesterday. Looks like I will be visiting Kroger yet again tomorrow. Sigh.

I am wearing...
black knit gauchos, SUPER comfortable...a little chilly, but I have no pants to wear. Seriously. I have these, and skirts. A sage-green maternity shirt that is one of the only remaining shirts which actually covers my enormous belly. And slippers.

I am creating...
nothing. Just gestating.

I am going...
to bed very soon. Steve is already there and I don't have any good reason to stay up, now that the bread is out of the oven.

I am reading...
I just finished a really wonderful book called The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down--it wasn't at all what I expected, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. Finished it in less than a week, in fact. I've barely dipped into another book I picked up at a used book sale recently, The Best American Short Stories of the Century. And tonight I picked up a book I bought forever ago but haven't gotten around to, CrossTalk.

I am hoping...
to get back to the state of peace and contentment and trust I have felt all week, and to get childbirth over with and meet our baby soon.

I am hearing...
some random new music I've downloaded for free recently, plus Elijah's white noise machine on the monitor, and bugs outside.

Around the house...
Steve worked hard today opening up a few more painted-shut windows and installing some storm windows that were missing/broken--hopefully it will make our dining room much warmer and our heating bill lower this winter. Elijah is struggling to implement the whole "when you're done with the book, put it back on the shelf" concept that we've been working on.

One of my favorite things...
the moments when my eyes are opened and I am able to slow down and really delight in my little buddy. We had a fun day yesterday: snuggle-time on the couch, just because; a pizza date for lunch; a walk around the neighborhood for which I actually let him walk, rather than taking the stroller; a movie and more snuggle time.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
have a baby? We hope...Elijah and I have been homebodies the last couple of weeks. We aren't making many plans these days, just patiently waiting for our little one's arrival.

A picture thought I am sharing...
from the archives, just for fun--here's Elijah in October 2007:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Despising the Pleasant Land

The other day I was reading Psalm 106: a brief and sorry history of the Israelites and how they were such losers even in spite of all God did for them. As I read, I was particularly struck by verse 24: "Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise."

What a heartbreaking indictment in the middle of a depressing psalm! Over and over He was so good, so faithful to them...over and over they disobeyed, rebelled, forgot and strayed. And if I'm honest, I have to admit that this is my own history, too. As I look back over the last three years of motherhood--or over my entire life, in various circumstances where I have been discontent--I know that I have so often despised the pleasant land.

God's Word not only says that children are a blessing, a heritage from Him...but it also says that He has set the boundary lines for me in pleasant places. Rather than adopting His perspective, choosing to see and give thanks, I have often been an Israelite, grumbling and complaining, running after idols, cowering in unbelieving fear. I have lacked faith in His promises to provide the grace I need, His promises that He has ordained my circumstances and is committed to my good.

May God have mercy on me and increase my faith--may He give me grace to remember, to see, to believe His promises--to love the pleasant land of motherhood that He has placed me in, knowing that although it is sometimes a land of trials, and I may sometimes think other lands look more is a land He has brought me to in love and blessing, a land He says is pleasant--a land where He is PRESENT, and thus it is holy ground. Because of the cross, I can trust His love and know that "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance" (Psalm 16:5-6).

If you keep reading in Psalm 106, you find hope and mercy and grace there, too. God is good and His steadfast love endures forever...His mighty deeds are beyond naming or counting...even when His people rebel, He saves us and chooses to use us to make His mighty power known...He has saved us and will save us from the hand of the foe...He has redeemed us from the power of the enemy! He looks upon our distress--even when it is self-inflicted--He hears our cries and remembers His promises and treats us according to His steadfast love, not according to what our sins deserve.

How thankful I am to serve such a mighty and merciful God--one who didn't abandon the Israelites and who promises never to abandon me, despite all the times that I lack faith in His promises and despise the pleasant land.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 179

Thanking God this week for...

976. a flurry of motivation to clean and declutter
977. fuzzy socks
978. encouragement from Isaiah 41 and 43
979. a surprise phone call from a dear friend
980. a surprise run-in with a local friend whom I never get to see, at Kroger

981. beautifully domed loaves of bread...having more luck with Marjorie's recipe than anything else I've tried!
982. the beautiful, godly women in my life--ones who have been around for 13+ years and ones who have only been around for a month
983. their intercession for me
984. the quality of autumn sunlight
985. a donut date with my little buddy

986. extended time to play outside, thanks to...
987. absolutely gorgeous weather
988. two more meals in the freezer for postpartum
989. a phone date with a dear friend; her encouragement and wisdom
990. the sounds of Steve and Elijah playing together

991. Elijah's pajama getup the other night, courtesy of Daddy: striped PJ pants and the (terribly clashing) striped t-shirt he'd been wearing all day
992. Elijah, at breakfast one morning: "Let's read a Jesus story!"
993. kitchen experiments, even the unimpressive ones (fried green tomatoes: eh.)
994. blessing me with peace and contentment while I wait
995. speaking truth to my heart in the middle of the night

996. the opportunity to give birth in the fall, when the season is changing so visibly and beautifully
997. soup for my family and extra for a man at church who's having surgery
998. the blessing of feeling the baby kick and squirm in my belly
999. a family outing at the pumpkin patch with some church family
1000. fields shot through with some sort of plant that has turned blazing red--gorgeous!

1001. hitting 1000 gifts with no signs of slowing, because His mercies and gifts are new and abundant every morning

holy experience

Saturday, October 09, 2010

What Lasts Forever

The middle of the night is the hardest time to believe the truth. There's something about lying in bed in the darkness, being in pain and feeling alone--my sweet husband is right there beside me, but he sleeps, and I am awake and anxious.

Thankfully God has provided much grace over the last week or so, and I have been much less fearful and much more able to preach the Truth to myself, even at 2 AM. Last night, I was awake with some painful cramping, and He met me with some blessed thoughts:

Labor will not last forever. I don't know when it will start, or how long it will last, but I do know for absolutely certain that at some glorious point, Baby will be here and it will all be over.

Obvious, I know--yet somehow reassuring. And then I started thinking: "Labor and delivery will not last forever; they will come to an end. But some things *DO* last forever and ever, without end!" I didn't know the exact Scripture references, but the Spirit brought a few of these to mind as I lay in bed, and I looked up a few more this morning:
"His steadfast love endures forever" (Psalm 136)

"...Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:6-7)

"the word of our God will stand forever" (Isaiah 40:8)

"My salvation will be forever" (Isaiah 51:6)

"I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever"
(John 6:51)

"He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever"
(John 14:16)

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever"
(Revelation 11:15)
When I am struggling--whether in the pain of childbirth, or the demands of motherhood and dying to self, or whatever more dramatic trials may come--I want to remember this. The struggle, the trial, will not last forever. But my Father's love and mercy and faithfulness last forever! His Word will last forever. His perfect reign of righteousness and grace and peace will last forever. His Holy Spirit will be with me forever. And I will live forever with Him! How glad I am for such glorious truth on which to meditate and be encouraged.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Just Checking In

I had every intention of blogging daily, like I did last time, from late September until Baby's arrival. Well...yeah. I guess after that little flurry of posting over the last couple of weeks, I ran out of steam.

I don't have a whole lot to report, really. We're just in a holding pattern of sorts, waiting on labor to start and life to turn upside-down :) I'm thankful that my hips haven't been hurting quite so much, and that I'm in a much better place in terms of fear and anxiety than I was a week or so ago. I'm growing eager to meet this new little one, but am sleeping pretty well and emotionally doing well and therefore not (yet) to that dreaded "I am SO DONE being pregnant!!" point that so many mamas deal with at the very end of pregnancy.

Just staying close to home, trying to do a little more decluttering or put a couple more meals in the freezer, enjoying a donut date with my little buddy. Trying to soak up the early morning extended times with the Lord that I know will end soon, the one-on-one time with Elijah, and the quiet time I have to relax and do whatever I want while Elijah is napping or playing by himself. And thanking God that I don't have obnoxious family members or friends calling me constantly and bugging me about when the baby is going to come :)

Thanks for your prayers as we prepare for the birth of our second child!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Multitude Monday, Take 178

Thanking God this week for...

934. catch-up phone call with a friend
935. the new ring sling a sweet friend made for me--can't wait to try it out!
936. opportunities to bake for Steve's co-workers
937. prompting people to pray for me, and to let me know that they are praying
938. bobby pins

939. paper muffin cups
940. Elijah's sense of humor
941. long white tank tops to wear under the maternity shirts that are too short :)
942. the safe arrival of Lydia's baby
943. Steve running to the grocery, vacuuming, scrubbing the bathtub

944. relief from the hip pain
945. sweater weather
946. walking barefoot on clean floors
947. early morning conversations with Steve
948. early morning prayer

949. time spent baking with Elijah
950. bubbling crockpots
951. blog comments
952. frozen pizza
953. warm homemade apple butter

954. sealed jars of strawberry-rhubarb jam lined up on the counter
955. my doula
956. Steve's transfer/promotion and raise at work!
957. dinner out to celebrate
958. movie night

959. friendly people at the farmers' market
960. free healthy (100% grass-fed beef!) hot dogs
961. University School of Nashville's Fall Book Frenzy
962. the joy of watching Steve and Elijah play an invented game and laugh uproariously
963. vegetable beef soup on a cool, windy fall day

964. clean toddler toes
965. His extravagant creativity
966. ministering to me through the lyrics of a song we sang at church
967. sending Jesus to conquer and destroy the power of death
968. the promise that we will be with Him and be like Him

969. grace to preach truth to my fearful heart
970. cuddles from Elijah after his nap
971. Elijah working on puzzles, humming to himself
972. Elijah "reading" favorite books to me
973. time fasting from the computer

974. Psalm 100
975. the knowledge that I am welcome in His presence

holy experience

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Hebrews 11: God's Faithfulness

A few days ago, as I finished up Running Scared (which, in case I've not made this clear, I would highly recommend!) I had a light bulb moment of sorts. It was precipitated by this quote:
"One of God's remarkable words to us has been that faith is NOT a leap into the unknown. Faith, instead, is a shift of confidence and trust to One who has always proven faithful. ...Do you remember the heroes of the faith--the 'cloud of witnesses'- mentioned by the writer of Hebrews 11? They are witnesses in the technical sense of the word. They were recipients of God's testimony about future realities, and they have been summoned for the defense." (Ed Welch, Running Scared, p. 306)
I think I've always read Hebrews 11 as a list of examples to emulate, a description of the faith I need to cultivate and exercise. Suddenly, I started to see that I have missed the point. This is a catalog of God's faithfulness. It's example after example of His Word proving true, His promises being kept. The stars of the show are not the humans who believed the promises, but the God who made the promises and fulfilled every single one!

Noah teaches us that God knows the future, that His prediction of events is certain and can be trusted. He also foreshadows Jesus, who believed God and established the way of salvation for a family.

Abraham teaches us that God promises an inheritance of true riches and blessing for His children, and that He keeps those promises--and that He is good and trustworthy even when the things He has promised us are threatened.

On and on the list goes--read through the catalog of witnesses and see them afresh, not as witnesses to their own awesomeness but as witnesses to the faithful and awesome character of God! As Welch says, "With these testimonies clearly in mind, we can enter into fearful places confident that nothing can nullify the promises..." (p. 308)

Friday, October 01, 2010

Baby Belly: 38 Weeks


October is birth month! How is it October already?

Holy huge pregnant belly, Batman...

Yep, I'd say that means it's just about time...

But, noting that it's "just about time" makes me antsy to get on my soapbox. That is, the fact that I find it absurd to fixate on a "due date." Did you know:
  • "No two women gestate for the same length of time. The 244 days of gestation used to calculate from your last period is an 'average.' It does not represent the 'ideal' length of pregnancy." (source)
  • Only 5% of babies are born on their due dates. (source)
  • "It's perfectly normal for 80 percent of healthy babies to have anywhere from a 38- to 42-week gestation. Several generations ago, a physician might tell an expectant mother that she was due 'sometime in late October or early November'" (source)
I just can't help wondering: When and how and why did we as a society end up in this odd position of determining that we know the precise date that a baby should be born--and then going crazy with medical interventions to control and manipulate a natural process so that it happens in our perfect timing?

So, all that to say: Baby will almost certainly be born this month. Beyond that...who knows? :)