Monday, February 28, 2011

Jude's Birth: Finally, Labor Begins

[part 3: waiting]

Every time I woke up during the night of October 20-21 and was not in labor, I fretted about what was going to happen at my prenatal the next day. I was full of fear, not faith.

Then I woke up around 4:00 and felt...*different.* No contractions yet, but Jude had definitely dropped. I went to the bathroom and just knew in my gut—this was it.

My first contraction came a few minutes later. Steve and I got up around 4:45; we showered and ate, and Steve started setting up the birth pool. I'm sure it sounds like this was all premature, since I had had only two contractions and they weren't anywhere near needing to be timed...but I just had this feeling that this was the day, and I didn't know how quickly things might move. Since my midwife and doula were both an hour or more away, I was anxious for them to be here. I called them around 5:30. Then I texted and emailed several friends who had promised to pray for me during labor, and we called our parents to let them know things were starting. I know I was carried by those prayers!

My doula, Dee, arrived around 7, followed shortly by my midwife, Susie. Then I had to deal with the childcare drama a little more. Making plans for where Elijah would go during the birth (I did not want him around, for his sake and mine) had turned into a giant, crazy mess; the arrangements were literally changing daily. As many as six different people were on call to pick him up depending on when I went into labor.

When I called my friend who was up for Thursday (whom I had only just arranged the day before!), I found out that she wouldn't be able to keep him past early afternoon. So in between contractions, I was making a list of people for her to call to find someone to pass him off to! I was a little stressed and felt terrible for Elijah, but when she came around 9:00, Elijah was excited to see his friends and happily got in the car. Huge relief. Now I could really concentrate on laboring.

Dee was amazing. She knew just what to say and do to help me through a contraction. She was full of encouragement, saying I was handling it beautifully, doing everything right. And I did feel much more confident and in control this time, much more able to relax. Dee would rub my back, pray for me, read Scripture, let me lean over her helpful. And as skilled as she was, she didn't crowd Steve out. Once he wasn't busy with the pool, she encouraged him to jump in and helped him know what to do.

My playlist of songs about not fearing, trusting the Lord, His nearness, etc., was hugely beneficial. It gave me something to think about besides the pain, helped me preach truth to myself. At one point early on, I was laboring on an exercise ball, leaning over a pile of pillows on the bed, and as I listened to the lyrics of one of the songs, I started to weep. Dee asked what was wrong, and I said that I was just blown away by how faithless and full of fear I had been, and how merciful God was. I felt broken, repentant, amazed by His grace and kindness in spite of me.

[part 5: hard work, but not alone]

Multitude Monday, Take 195

"Thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life."
~ Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts

Thanking God this week for...

1385. muffins out of the freezer
1386. being able to wear Jude on my back--makes it so much easier to get things done!
1387. blue scribbles covering an oversized white paper
1388. the satisfaction of finishing a good book
1389. Elijah's internalizing and repeating what I've told him

1390. loaves of bread rising on counter
1391. getting to experience both a little baby and a big baby
1392. a pizza date with my boys
1393. their patience through endless boring errands
1394. Schleich animals at Target, a fun reward for Elijah

1395. Steve's hard work to prepare to teach children's Sunday school
1396. Steve's creativity
1397. eighteen issues of Better Homes & Gardens in the free bin at the library
1398. long walks in gorgeous weather
1399. tiny closed buds on branches

1400. friends here for dinner and prayer every Wednesday night
1401. Elijah's screaming "STOOOOOP!" at inanimate objects is at least marginally better than just screaming/whining
1402. date night with Steve
1403. gift certificate to a fabulous gourmet restaurant
1404. Steve's opening car doors for me--which never happens anymore with two kids :)

1405. gnarled tree roots
1406. piggyback rides
1407. presence of mind to pray when tempted and when I've sinned
1408. His sovereignty over simple things like when I read which books
1409. His faithfulness when we are unfaithful

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Jude's Birth: Waiting

[part 2: a doula provided]

So I had a doula. I did lots of reading about natural childbirth and worked through a wonderful book on fear. I made a playlist of songs about not being afraid, trusting the Lord, His being with me, etc. I bought birth supplies and washed diapers and folded onesies. I enlisted an army of trusted friends to pray for me in the weeks leading up to Jude's birth and while I was in labor. All that was left to do was wait.

And wait we did.

I've gotten on my soapbox before about how I hate the idea of of a "due date"--this magic day when baby is "supposed to" arrive and after which he is considered "late." With Elijah, I stubbornly refused to tell people my "exact due date." But the truth is, Elijah was born "early"--at 39 weeks, 2 days. So although we knew it wasn't a guarantee, I think Steve and I both just expected that Jude would come before his "official due date," too.

Well, 39w2d came and went, so we relaxed. I had been wanting a 10/10/10 baby anyway, and now I had a chance! But October 10 passed and I was still pregnant. Next I set my sights on the 15th, thinking it would be fun to give Steve's granny a birthday great-grandbaby. No such luck.

And then my midwife started talking induction.

You see, I had originally estimated the 40-week mark as October 18, but at my first prenatal visit, my midwife changed it to October 11. Once the 11th came and went, the clock was ticking. I was completely content to wait and let the baby come when he decided it was time. But my midwife would be unable (or at least unwilling) to attend a homebirth past 42 weeks. If we reached that point, I would have no choice but to see her backup physician, who would want to schedule a hospital induction immediately. If I wanted to avoid that, it was time to start thinking about "natural" induction methods to get things going and preserve my homebirth plans.

I was distraught. To many of you, it may not sound like a big deal. Some of you may have voluntarily chosen to be induced in a hospital. But for me, that option was terrifying, and the idea of trying less invasive induction methods wasn't much more appealing. I just did not want to mess with the process. I wanted to trust my body and the baby and let labor start naturally, without the use of drugs in a hospital *or* methods at home.

Mercifully, I was not at that point many women reach, where they're miserable beyond belief and all "get this baby OUT of me NOW." I was truly fine with waiting, except that I felt pressured by the circumstances. On top of all this, my carefully laid plans for what to do with Elijah during the birth (I did not want him here!) were crumbling. Actually it went from "crumbling" to "disintegrating" to "blowing up in my face"...I'll spare you the details but it was insane, to say the least.

By October 18 I was officially 41 weeks, though by that point I was pretty sure that the revised due date was wrong. No matter. My midwife ordered an ultrasound, and Jude passed with flying colors. We had a green light to keep waiting, but I was keenly aware of the ticking clock.

I had a prenatal appointment scheduled for Thursday the 21st, and I was so anxious about what was going to happen. I desperately wanted to avoid induction of any kind, but my October 25 deadline was looming. It was such a battle to trust God that week, to believe that He is good and loving and wise and would be no less so even if I didn't get to have the homebirth I had planned. I'm sure that sounds silly, but that was my frame of mind.

I went to bed Wednesday night fervently hoping and praying that my midwife could come deliver a baby the next day instead of coming for a prenatal visit. Talk about answered prayer...

[part 4: finally, labor begins]

Friday, February 25, 2011

Jude's Birth: A Doula Provided

[part 1: prelude]

If I had been planning a hospital birth again, I'd have hired a doula without a second thought. I wished I had had one the first time around. But initially, I thought that with a homebirth, I wouldn't need one. To make a long story a tiny bit shorter, I ended up deciding I wanted one, and thought I had the perfect candidate lined up, a doula I already knew slightly through online interactions. I was stoked. Until a few days later when it all fell through.

I tried to trust God through my disappointment, reminding myself that if He had wanted her at my birth, if that was what was best, He would have made it happen, and that if it didn't work out, that was because He had something better in mind.

How could I have known what He was up to?

The immediate problem was, how would I find a new doula? My dilemma was that I needed someone who was a Christian. I'm sure there are plenty of amazing doulas who aren't--but it was important to me to have someone who would pray with and for me, someone with whom I could process things with from a biblical perspective. I ended up going to a meet-and-greet and expressing interest in a couple of the doulas, but I still didn't know how to approach the faith issue.

A week later I was contacted by my #2 choice, Dee (#1 wasn't available for October). I explained in an email what I was hoping for in a doula, and asked whether she would be able to support me in that. And her I mean, just wow.

She told me that she was a believer, and proceeded to share how she is thrilled to discover that a client is a Christian because she can then encourage the mom as a sister in Christ and not just as a doula. She described her sweetest births as ones where she's prayed over the moms/babies. All that was more than enough to satisfy me--it was exactly what I needed to hear.

But then. She went on to share, oddly, that she is Reformed. Said she hesitated to say so because it can be unnecessarily divisive, but in the interest of being an open book, there it was. Described the church she goes to as similar to John Piper's church. And I'm all, Seriously, Lord? Seriously?

I realize that those of you who are not Reformed are scratching your heads at this point going, either, "What's Reformed, anyway?" or "I don't get it, why is that a big deal?" whereas those of you who are Reformed are going, "Wow, that's so awesome!" :) Let me clarify that I have plenty of non-Reformed friends and don't view the Reformed ones as somehow superior. Basically she just communicated to me that she and I were very much on the same page theologically, not merely believing the same basic set of truths, but understanding Scripture the same way, reading the same books, listening to the same podcasts, and therefore interpreting life through similar lenses. And that lens is one that's in the minority among Christians, so it's not a commonality I expected to find.

I couldn't even believe she mentioned it--it was sort of odd, really, if it hadn't been so...appropriate. I emailed her back and basically said, "Isn't it just like God to provide me with this? You're hired." I mean, I could have cried. To drop a doula in my lap--my third choice, no less--who not only was genuinely a believer in Christ but was actually on the same page as me theologically?! And her response was similar--she confessed to second-guessing herself in her original disclosure, wondering why she'd shared that, and then after hearing back from me, said, "How KIND of God to match us up! This is very, very cool."

So in early September, I was reminded very powerfully that my God is a kind and loving Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children. He faithfully lavishes grace on me even when I am full of doubt and fear and fail to trust Him. He delights to blow me away by providing abundantly more than I asked or imagined.

I needed that reminder--and this doula--as I prepared for Jude's birth.

[part 3: waiting]

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Jude's Birth: Prelude

The story of Jude's birth is not merely a play-by-play of all the nitty-gritty details about contractions and dilating and pushing. It's a story of the mercy of God. It's about His abundant provision of grace even in the face of fear and unbelief. It's about intercessory prayer and powerful, clear answers to those pleas. It's about a God who loves to be known as mighty and faithful, a God who bears our burdens and generously gives good gifts.

Four months later, I'm finally getting around to sharing the story. Fair warning: it is going to include lots of details, which may bore those of you who are not interested in birth stories. And it's going to be a multi-part series, because--well, because I'm writing it, and if you've been reading this blog longer than three days, you know that I can't tell a short story :) Disclaimers we go.

My story--Jude's story--starts with the birth of Elijah three years earlier. A birth that on paper was textbook, uncomplicated, everything I had hoped for. He came in about 12 hours, without any drugs, without any of the interventions I didn't want.

And it terrified me.

I had prepared for natural childbirth, and actually hadn't felt fearful in the weeks leading up to his birth. I felt ready: I can do this. I labored as long as possible at home, so by the time we got to the hospital, I was dilated 6-7 cm. And then my water broke, and instead of the regularly spaced contractions we talked about in childbirth class, my pain turned into one four-hour-long contraction. No breaks. I panicked. I've never felt so scared in my life.

After Elijah was here, I didn't experience that whole "when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish" thing. I used words like "traumatic" and "shellshocked" to describe his birth, less "love at first sight" and more "what just happened to me?" We've covered that on this blog already. But all that to say, learning last February that I was pregnant meant that I was going to have to go through labor and delivery again. And I was terrified. The first time around, I'd read all about the fear-tension-pain cycle, how you can't be scared, and I wasn't. I refused to listen to negative birth stories. I was confident. This time around, I *knew* what was coming--how on earth could I NOT be scared?

Despite my fear of enduring natural childbirth again, I ended up deciding to have a homebirth--which is another post(s) for another day. I spent the first several months in denial about the fact that I was actually going to have to deliver this baby. Then I spent the last couple of months reading book after book, from childbirth books to biblical counseling books on fear. I tried to remember that every birth is different, that this would not be simply a repeat of Elijah's birth. I knew being at home was going to be completely different. I planned a waterbirth, sometimes called "the midwives' epidural." I prayed a lot, and asked others to pray. Then, late in August, I hired a doula. That experience was my first clue that God had something beautiful in store.

[part 2: a doula provided]
[part 3: waiting]
[part 4: finally, labor begins]
[part 5: hard work, but not alone]
[part 6: pain, peace, joy]

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Several years ago, I was asked to make a list of things that "empty my well" and a list of things that "fill my well"--in other words, the events/situations/tasks that drain you and the ones that make you feel energized and excited.

One of the top items on my "empty" list was "situations in which I don't know what I'm doing." I was thinking specifically of the part of my job description that summer which I most hated: helping to fix lunch for about twenty college students. At that point I had little experience in the kitchen, and being shoved in there with the responsibility of feeding that many people (the students, plus five interns and a smattering of other people who might be around) was a prospect I dreaded every time my turn came up. I felt completely inept, inadequate, stupid.

It wasn't until a few years later that God showed me how that item on my list wasn't simply a matter of personality or preference. It was a clear display of my top besetting sin: pride (mixed in with a liberal dose of fear of man). The truth was, I didn't like kitchen duty--or other "situations in which I don't know what I'm doing"--because I was afraid others would think I was dumb. I felt uncomfortably self-conscious, and I hated the idea of other people seeing me as bumbling, unsure, ignorant. I've been that way my whole life; just ask my parents. I've always resisted doing things I'm not good at (make that instantly good at), because I want to excel--I want to be the best. And so I avoid any situation in which I might fail.

It has since dawned on me that that experience and subsequent revelation was preparing me for the crucible of motherhood. Raising my boys is the ultimate "situation in which I don't know what I'm doing." And so once again, my prideful, sinful heart resists. I don't like this, I think to myself. Because I can't do this. I'm not good at it.

I have no idea what I'm doing in this life as someone's mother. I feel hopeless when I can't make the crying stop, don't know how to discipline, can't control my own ugly emotions. I'm not the mother I hoped to be (even, arrogantly, thought I'd be). I wasn't cut out for this, my "empty" self laments; he would be better off if I were not his mother.

All this, I think, is emptying me after all--just as God intended. Not in a self-aware, "this is the way my brain works," personality-preferences kind of way, but in a "emptied of pride so He can fill me with His grace" kind of way.

[edited repost from the archives]

Monday, February 21, 2011

Multitude Monday, Take 194

1353. husband sitting at breakfast table eating the Word
1354. Romans 8
1355. microwave to reheat lunch-grown-cold-while-nursing
1356. almonds and craisins
1357. Jude's working lungs

1358. Jude's desire and ability to nurse
1359. plenty of milk to fill his belly
1360. grace to start giving thanks out loud instead of seething
1361. Valentine cards: generous, funny, thoughtful, hilarious, heartfelt
1362. a kiss from Steve at Qdoba, resulting in a free burrito

1363. sharing the queso love with friends from church
1364. long walks in the gorgeous weather
1365. cell phone repaired
1366. a kitchen helper who wears a wild animals apron
1367. the daylight lasting longer

1368. Wednesday night dinners and prayer with friends from church
1369. an intense workout of a walk with friends
1370. a playdate afterward
1371. Elijah's tenderheartedness
1372. the fact that my baby carrier is machine washable

1373. reminders to stop and listen and cherish
1374. preschooler so excited about homemade fettuccine alfredo that he almost forgets to stop and breathe between bites
1375. the way gratitude begets gratitude
1376. boys giggling uncontrollably
1377. ibuprofen

1378. the way burdens become lighter when shared
1379. courage to share them
1380. more friends here for dinner
1381. homemade chicken lettuce wraps
1382. covering me with Jesus as a Shield

1383. Ann's book reminding me why I am counting these gifts, deepening lessons of gratitude
1384. dozens more gifts noted this week than space or time permit me to relist here

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Three and a Half

For today, a little gratuitous cuteness :) My mom pointed out this week that both my boys are three and a half: Elijah is 3 1/2 years old, and Jude is 3 1/2 months old. So we had a little photo shoot.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Today is a Day of Battle

"O LORD, my Lord, the strength of my salvation, you have covered my head in the day of battle" (Psalm 140:7).

Today is a day of battle. There is no visible enemy pursuing me, no sounds of gunshots or clanging swords or horses' hooves. But the invisible war rages--the war for my heart.

In the end, Jesus wins; He is the Conquering King and I am His. But in the meantime, the Enemy is bloodthirsty and desperate to win as many battles as possible before his certain demise. He wants to see me stumble and fall today. He wants me to resent the demands of mothering and withdraw from my kids. He wants me to indulge every craving my flesh conceives and rest all day with brief periods of work. He wants me to think first of ME, ME, ME. He doesn't care how many gifts I list in my gratitude journal, if he can get me to be absorbed with the temporal blessings and not move to adoration of the generous Giver of these gifts.

Today is a day of battle. But God has covered my head in the day of battle. He gives me the helmet of salvation (Ephesians 6:17). He saw that I was helpless and hopeless on my own, and His own arm brought him salvation (Isaiah 59:16). I have a Redeemer who is triumphantly reigning on a throne of grace! In this day of battle, I have a Source of strength in my weakness. I can take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor. 10:5). Because Jesus loved me, I can love Him with my mind.

So I am putting on the helmet of salvation this morning. I am putting on Christ. In Him, God covers my head in the day of battle. HE is the strength of my salvation. And His Word promises that although the Enemy will make war against Him and against me, "the Lamb will overcome them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers" (Revelation 17:14).

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Imaging the God Who Cares for the Weak

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed,
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the sojourners;
he upholds the widow and the fatherless..."

Psalm 146:5-9

"Verses 7-9 of Psalm 146 list groups of weak people (oppressed, hungry, prisoners, the blind, bowed down, sojourners, widow, fatherless)...for whom God shows His power and faithfulness in providing the relief they need" (ESV study note).

Aren't children the very definition of weak? They are helpless, vulnerable, small. Elijah and Jude are not "hungry" in the sense of "starving and malnourished," but they do get hungry every day and need me to provide food for them to survive and thrive. Praise God, they are not fatherless, but as unregenerate people, there's a real sense in which they are prisoners and blind.

And so my job today is to image God to my sons. I prepare healthy meals and snacks and patiently negotiate. I nurse and nurse again and nurse some more, and I reflect the God who gives food to the hungry. I cannot set prisoners free or open blind eyes, but I can point to Christ again and again, and I can walk in joyful freedom and proclaim how I see Him so that my boys see firsthand how God transforms people. I can lift up little ones and love them and watch over them, and in so doing, I reflect the present, watchful, tender care of God for the weak.

Lord, please make it so today.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Multitude Monday, Take 193

Thanking God this week for...

1316. Elijah's desire to pray before breakfast and "read a Jesus story" while the eggs cool off
1317. John 3:16-17
1318. giant flakes of snow falling fast and furious
1319. the return of 50-degree temps and sunshine
1320. a long walk with my guys

1321. a playdate with a friend and her sweet kiddos
1322. her inner and outer beauty; her eye for beauty and creation of it
1323. a beautiful drive past snow-covered trees
1324. Jude sitting in a big armchair with my friend's sweet baby girl born three weeks earlier
1325. buttered whole wheat toast

1326. a happy, loud baby
1327. long white tank tops
1328. the aroma of pecans toasting
1329. sausage crumbled in eggs
1330. His protection when Elijah stumbled on the stairs

1331. time to sit and think and plan
1332. the Incarnation
1333. snail mail from a friend just because
1334. a flight booked to go visit a friend next month
1335. Steve clearing the snow off my car

1336. Steve's wisdom
1337. the ability to read while I run on the elliptical
1338. fleece-lined khaki pants
1339. dimpled baby hands, rolls of fat on baby thighs
1340. colorful shish kebabs

1341. news that a dear friend is pregnant
1342. kale salad
1343. red socks
1344. another pair of jeans finally fitting
1345. blissful quiet after bedtime

1346. mugs of cold milk
1347. love that lay down His life
1348. loving me while I was still a sinner
1349. loving me too much to leave me there
1350. providing people who are His love with skin on

1351. giving me people to love
1352. causing my heart to love Him

Friday, February 11, 2011

Incarnation and Remembering

All week I've had Psalm 103:13-14 echoing in my head:

"As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed;
he remembers that we are dust."

I've been thinking about it most in the context of parenting--not reasoning from earthly parents' compassion to God's compassion, as the psalm does, but from God's compassion to what I am called to as a mother. God, the Holy and Sovereign King of the Universe, remembers that I am dust. He is patient with me--He is gentle and compassionate--He remembers that I am a fallen human and am going to screw up again and again.

How much more, then, should I, who am also dust, am much more like my three-year-old than different, have compassion on my son, and remember that he is only three?

Elijah isn't one to throw an angry temper-tantrum when he doesn't get his way. He's more likely to crumple into hysterical tears, as though his entire world has just fallen apart. And I find myself getting very frustrated when I can't even get him to calm down enough to hear me say that I understand that he's upset, or try to explain to him what's going on. Sadly, it's all too easy for me to shame or belittle him: "Stop it. STOP. You are being ridiculous. That's enough."

First of all...that doesn't even work. Not helpful. Second of all...just because it seems stupid to me doesn't mean it's not a BIG DEAL in his three-year-old world. For all our talk around here about Elijah being a big boy compared to his baby brother...he is still essentially a baby himself. Elijah has lived only three and a half years. Half that time he was unable to speak; a third of that, he couldn't even walk. His little brain has SO much developing to do; he is learning how the world works and how actions have consequences and how to navigate relationships...he must feel so overwhelmed sometimes!

I was also reminded by a friend this week that the Incarnation is at the heart of the gospel. God stooped low to become one of us. He got down on our level, immature and sinful though we are. He condescended to experience our problems, to endure the indignities of being human, to share our struggles and temptations. He didn't just make decrees from on high; He took on our fragile flesh and walked in our shoes.

As a mother, it's my privilege and responsibility to incarnate that glorious truth to my children. When I am tempted to frustration and harshness, I want to be quick to hear a funny but true phrase Steve often says when Elijah is melting down: "I know, it's hard being three." To be honest, I'm still not sure how, on a practical level, to respond when Elijah is hysterical. But I do know that I want to remember and celebrate the Incarnation of Jesus so that I can patiently get down on Elijah's level and share his struggles, see the world through his eyes, gently guide him as he navigates a confusing and harsh world.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 2.10.11

I'm so far behind in both blog reading and blog writing that I hardly know where and how to plunge back in. Collecting my thoughts today in the Simple Woman's Daybook:

Outside my window...
Snow again! Not looking forward to having to clear several inches of it off my car (it is impossible to clear the entire windshield of an SUV with a small ice scraper!), but otherwise I kind of like the white stuff. It's beautiful. I'd rather have snow than rain, if it's going to be cold.

I am thinking...
that I miss blogging. I haven't been carving out the time to write lately, and when that happens, I just feel "off." Life is out of balance. It isn't a matter of not having time, it's a matter of not being disciplined and *making* time, but instead wasting five minutes here, ten minutes there...story of the last five years of my life...

I am thankful for...
the promise that God doesn't give up on me, but is committed to remaking me in the image of His Son, in spite of all the times I fail again and again in the exact same ways.

From the kitchen...
whole wheat bread rising--I'm getting back into the habit of making bread after a few months off following Jude's birth. Sloppy lentils for supper (we're *still* eating freezer meals; I went a little crazy last spring/summer). And I can't keep my hands out of the homemade granola I pulled out of the freezer this morning. I'm itching to bake again, which I haven't done much of since Jude was born. Steve requested beer bread, and I think Elijah and I might do some heart-shaped sugar cookies for Valentine's Day.

I am wearing...
fleece-lined khaki pants--almost forgot about these, sooooo comfy and warm--a nursing tank top and a purple turtleneck sweater. and socks and slippers.

I am creating...
home decor. I hope. Last month I bought a frame for a Christmas gift and ordered quality prints of some family/newborn pictures. I am determined that 2011 will be the year I make a collage wall in my living room, to replace the two mismatched, too-small frames that hang there now. Add that to the Lowe's gift card I got for Christmas and maybe I will finally spruce up our home a little! I am so decorating-impaired...

I am going...
to visit my dear friend Kristin next month! Just bought my plane ticket last night, thanks to a United voucher Steve had from some messed up business travel last spring. Can't wait.

I am reading...
books instead of blogs! I've been doing a LOT more offline reading in the last couple of months, currently switching between five different books. For Kindle, A Tale of Two Cities (which I'm having a HARD time plodding through, but my friend Melita reassures me the second half of the book will pay off) and The Spirit of Food: 34 Writers on Fasting and Feasting Toward God. In traditional book form, I've finally picked up--and am absolutely loving--Adopted for Life, which I bought several months ago. I also pre-ordered and am slowly savoring Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. Finally, I'm reading another food book, Made to Crave: Satisfying Your Deepest Desire with God, Not Food--which I'm excited to be reading and discussing along with several ladies from church.

Bible-wise, I'm in 2 Kings and trying to grow in "how to read the Bible Christianly." It's exciting--I'm looking forward to Old Testament reading more than I ever have before!

I am hoping...
to get this blog going again soon. I miss it.

I am hearing...
Elijah's white noise machine, and blissful silence. Both boys are fast asleep. Ahhhh.

Around the house...
chaos as usual. I keep saying I need to organize Elijah's toys and put all but a few in rotation, getting out "new" ones every few weeks. They're currently overtaking the living room house. Really, it's got to happen soon.

One of my favorite things...
these pants. Why did it take me so long to remember to get them out?!

A few plans for the rest of the week...
headed to the chiropractor this afternoon to get my head pulled away from my shoulders. Fun, huh? I've been doing a few weeks of traction to get a more long-term fix for my ongoing neck problems. Tomorrow I hope to hit the Mennonite bulk foods store up in Kentucky. And over the weekend I've got to run some errands, including the Sprint store: I dropped my phone last Saturday and the screen stopped working. Apparently cell phone screens don't handle drops much better than Kindle screens. If you're keeping score at home, that's Amy-2, Electronic Screens-0. Except that I'm the loser when they get busted. Here's hoping Sprint's customer service is as good as Amazon's.

In other words...pretty exciting stuff. What I *am* excited about is Monday: I think Steve and I are going to head to Qdoba for Valentine's Day, because if we kiss each other at the cash register we get a free burrito. Awesome.

A picture thought I am sharing...
I wandered out into the living room a few nights ago and found this impossibly adorable sight:

(they're reading The Dangerous Book for Boys)

Monday, February 07, 2011

MMM: Finishing Well, Starting Strong

I'm a week late getting this up, but wanted to participate in the Mega Memory Month finale, since both Elijah and I made progress in memorization work this month! I'm SO thankful for this challenge to kick-start my Scripture memorization each year. It gives me just the boost I need to dive into the Word and work on getting the Word into me.

By the grace of God, I made it through all of John 1 this month! I did find that narrative was a lot easier to memorize than Paul's theological arguments (though all of the "he said to him"s & "and he answered"s did get a little cumbersome!). It's been valuable to dig into the story of Jesus' life on earth and I really look forward to continuing to "marinate" in John over the next months and years.

I figured for my celebration post, you don't really want to hear or see me recite all of John 1. So instead I've got a video of Elijah, who mastered three verses this month: Genesis 1:1, Matthew 6:24, and Proverbs 3:5. I hoped to get through a fourth, but we switched gears in the middle of the last week. Elijah just went to his own Sunday School class for the first time, and they are memorizing John 3:16, so we abandoned the verse we had started and switched to that one instead.

So, if you can ignore the clutter in the background, and my un-made-up, un-showered self, and the preschooler's silly voice at the beginning plus his fascination with seeing himself on the computer's Elijah sharing his memory verses:

Elijah's memory verses from amy kannel on Vimeo.

For my little guy and me, January 31 is just the beginning. I've got fresh motivation to keep pressing on in my study of John, and I'm excited about spending the rest of the year working on weekly verses with Elijah!

I'm also very excited about a new tool I discovered to facilitate memorization and review: It's a great way to keep track of what I've memorized and check myself. You can use it for the actual memorization process, but since I have another process I know works for me, I'm using it more for review and long-term retention. I think it's going to be really helpful.

Multitude Monday, Take 192

Thanking God this week for...

1288. use of my left thumb (after slicing it on a plastic container last week)
1289. blue spoons and purple oatmeal
1290. Steve's new smoker
1291. Jude growing like crazy
1292. Elijah helping set and clear the table

1293. Psalm 1
1294. just enough grace to preach to myself
1295. a playsilk tent over the activity mat
1296. little boys giggling inside
1297. my friend Mandy's fabulous chicken enchilada recipe

1298. memories of my first date with Steve, eight years ago last week
1299. phone call from Steve just checking in, seeing how my day is going
1300. soup out of the freezer and into the crockpot
1301. opportunities to practice hospitality
1302. Steve's incredible ability to take things apart, fix them and put them back together

1303. prayer with friends
1304. lemon & shallot vinaigrette
1305. beef jerky in our CSA share this month, just when I needed grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free snacks
1306. almonds
1307. time catching up with an old friend

1308. time on the phone with an even older friend
1309. Steve seeing the gospel more clearly than I
1310. the ways Elijah takes after his daddy
1311. handmade soap
1312. the miraculous ability to figure out what Elijah wants based on a few obscure, unclear words he says

1313. not simply meeting our basic needs, but lavishing us with good gifts that delight us
1314. promising to answer me when I call to Him
1315. talented people who set His Word to music