Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 9.27.12

I have so many things I want and need to blog, to get me back into the groove, a little  Simple Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...
all wet from overnight storms, but sunshine now. I love how the trees are just starting to turn orange in a few spots on the edges. Looking forward to seeing our neighborhood turn brilliant colors over the next several weeks. 

I am thinking...
that I really need to do some journaling after I finish this blog post. A big jumble of thoughts running through my head this morning that won't get sorted out until I verbally process. 

I am thankful for...
the opportunity to speak to a group of moms and daughters this past Monday. My mentor, Diane, is part of a "Keepers at Home" group, and this year, their theme is gratitude (they're reading through Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts). Diane asked me to come do their kickoff meeting, and it was a gift to be able to share my heart with the women and girls. 

From the kitchen...
after being gone the last few days, our fridge is pretty bare! I made sausage gravy last night and pulled some Smitten Kitchen biscuits out of the freezer (can I just say, I am so sad that she is not coming to Nashville for her cookbook release tour?!). Lunch was SK's zucchini bread pancakes, since I had milk and zucchini to use up and no leftovers to serve the boys for lunch anyway. (For topping, we used an adapted version of the fabulous cream cheese topping from her carrot cake pancakes, which are also delicious.) And dinner will be white chicken chili, also from the freezer. I need to make a new meal plan...but we needed to be using meals from the freezer anyway. Have I mentioned how much I love freezer cooking?? SO BRILLIANT.   

I am wearing...
a white skirt (gasp! after Labor Day! it didn't occur to me until after I'd already put it on), a purple shirt (the one from the photo in the top right corner, incidentally), and black and white flip-flops. 

I am creating...
a travelogue from my recent NYC trip...or at least, I'm *going* to be creating one, soon...

I am going...
to my alma mater for homecoming this year--to sing in the alumni chorale with the Gaither Vocal Band! SO EXCITED!

I am reading...
I just joined Goodreads, and it struck me earlier this morning that my "currently reading" list is unusually reflective of my life and interests right now. It's not always so balanced and diverse, but at the moment, it says a lot: American Metropolis: A History of New York City (picked up at the Strand when I was in NYC, reflective of my love for the city); Washington Square (an 1800s novel set in NYC), The Invisible Line: Three American Families and the Secret Journey from Black to White (an audiobook reflecting my growing interest in reading history books); Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline (I must admit I'm not *actively* reading this one for several weeks--but I have every intention of coming back to it); The Explicit Gospel and Mockingjay. Fiction and nonfiction, contemporary and old, gospel, history, and parenting. Nice. 

For my Bible reading, I'm in Matthew and Psalms. My reading plan continues to be critical for keeping me on track. 

I am hoping...
to go to Andrew Peterson's Behold the Lamb of God concert this December. I so love that album but have never made it to the live performance--have heard it is just amazing. 

I am hearing...
the white noise from Jude's monitor, and the clinking sounds of Lego construction from Elijah at the dining room table. Also trying out The Decemberists for the first time on Spotify. I don't usually listen to music while I'm sitting here, but a friend recommended them on Facebook the other day so I finally remembered to give them a listen. 

Around the house...
I still haven't completely unpacked from our trip. Laundry is piled up waiting to be done. The kitchen is piled with last night's dishes because I helped Steve bottle his latest batch of wine instead of cleaning up after supper. And yet I sit here blogging...

One of my favorite things...
black and white damask. 

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Soccer practice tonight, and then a nice low-key evening at home tomorrow after what has felt like several chaotic weeks. We'll make up for it on Saturday. I'm hitting my favorite annual used-book sale in the morning, meeting a friend for coffee afterward, and then taking the boys to Cowboy Town as a belated birthday gift to Elijah. 

A picture thought I am sharing...
Diane and me at her house earlier this week, after the Keepers meeting. LOVE HER!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 260

I've had so much to be thankful for over the last couple of weeks--most notably, the epic girls' weekend in New York City that I spent with my mom and my aunt last weekend! That will need a travelogue blog series all its own, once I've gone through the hundreds of photos I took :) In the meantime, a few other gifts for which I'm thanking God:

4289. the fact that I'm not a single mom
4290. the fact that Steve only has to work two or three weekends a year
4291. Elijah helping Jude put his shoes on
4292. all His promises are YES (not "maybe") in Christ
4293. a mom who read to me

4294. one-on-one time with a dear friend
4295. the bush that had overtaken the sidewalk on the way to preschool FINALLY getting trimmed back
4296. Steve serving cheerfully, caring for our own boys plus two others
4297. the sacrifices that military families make
4298. a long-overdue visit with a dear friend

4299. my in-laws coming down and serving us again
4300. the peaceful emptiness of Kroger at 9 PM on a Friday
4301. a quiet afternoon to process some thoughts and emotions
4302. opportunities to serve families with new babies
4303. dinner at Five Guys with my guys

4304. a walk at Centennial Park afterward
4305. Sunday afternoon naps
4306. disposable diapers for when Jude is having tummy troubles
4307. an old journal filled, a fresh one begun
4308. even when I am not amazed by His grace, He continues to lavish it on me

Friday, September 14, 2012

Despising the Pleasant Land

I was in a funk most of the day today. It wasn't pretty. This morning as I was hanging laundry on the line, right after having changed one of the top three most disgusting diapers of my life (it was an epic blowout), the cynical, despairing, ugly tape in my head was looping at full volume. Suddenly a phrase broke through that static: despising the pleasant land. Yep, that's exactly what I was doing. I haven't read Psalm 106 in months, but the title of an old blog post popped into my mind.

Maybe the rest of the day would have gotten better if I'd stopped to read it earlier, but I finally sat down to revisit it just now. Reposting in case you need to hear it, too...

Psalm 106 features a brief and sorry history of the Israelites and how they were losers even in spite of all God did for them. Verse 24 offers a particularly heartbreaking indictment in the middle of an already depressing psalm: "Then they despised the pleasant land, having no faith in his promise." Over and over He was so good, so faithful to them...over and over they disobeyed, rebelled, forgot and strayed.

If I'm honest, I have to admit that this is my own history, too. As I look back over the last five 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.

Reminding my unbelieving self again tonight that I belong to 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.

[edited repost from the archives]

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Monologue vs. Dialogue

"Oh, what joy for those
    whose rebellion is forgiven,
    whose sin is put out of sight!
Yes, what joy for those
    whose record the LORD has cleared of sin,
    whose lives are lived in complete honesty!
When I refused to confess my sin,
    I was weak and miserable,
    and I groaned all day long.
Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me.
    My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.
Finally I confessed all my sins to you
    and stopped trying to hide them.
I said to myself, 'I will confess my rebellion to the LORD.'
    And you forgave me! All my guilt is gone."
(Psalm 32:1-5, NLT)

Several times over the last few weeks, I've been brought back to the difference between mentally acknowledging something and talking to God about it. To think, "That was wrong; I shouldn't have done it" is NOT the same as to say, "Lord, I have sinned against You--please forgive me." To think, "I can't do this--it's too hard--I am so weak and desperate and inadequate; I know I really need God's help" is NOT the same as saying, "Father, help me! I can't do this on my own--I am weak and inadequate; I am desperate for Your grace!"

So often I operate with an inner monologue instead of a dialogue with the living God who SEES and CARES. I know what is true, but my posture is not toward God. I may be aware that I am helpless and in dire need of God's grace and strength, and yet I fail to actually bring my helplessness TO HIM and ASK Him for grace and strength.

Father, make me quick to confess our sin TO YOU. Not just quick to realize that I'm wrong and admit it in some generic way, but to actually run to You and confess and find forgiveness. I don't have to live under a constant burden of guilt--when I confess, You forgive me, and when You forgive, my guilt is gone! And when my guilt is gone, that's when joy comes. Deep joy is for those who have been set free--for those who have come to You and trusted You to cancel the record of their sin by nailing it to the cross (Col 2:14).

Monday, September 03, 2012

Multitude Monday, Take 259

Thanking God this week for...

4261. pretty aprons
4262. Google Maps
4263. the insane wealth of info at my fingertips online--from subway maps to bus schedules to street fair listings to box office hours to restaurant menus
4264. the way Elijah makes the lowercase "a" in his name
4265. the fact that last week was the first time I've ever taken Jude's temperature

4266. His using me even when I feel tired and empty
4267. Elijah's excitement about his new sneakers
4268. meals out of the freezer when I don't feel like cooking
4269. the family portrait Elijah drew at preschool--with two Judes
4270. errands during preschool = only one child to buckle in and out of his carseat a zillion times

4271. an umbrella stroller to keep Jude contained
4272. a long-overdue haircut
4273. Jude attempting to jump on the numbers like big brother
4274. the relief of a breeze
4275. Jude "helping" wipe down the shower

4276. all-natural homemade cleaner that Jude can spray safely
4277. opportunity to show hospitality to our church family
4278. delicious apples and cider from a local orchard
4279. Steve patiently listening to me ramble
4280. a relatively smooth first day teaching 3-4yo Sunday school

4281. our pastor's insights on the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5
4282. the example of the wife of one of our deacons: serving, serving, serving, constantly
4283. playing Candyland with Elijah is SO much more enjoyable than it used to be
4284. time to read and tickle and play This Little Piggy with Jude
4285. a beautiful article by a beloved former professor in my alumni magazine

4286. the book of Habakkuk
4287. Psalm 51
4288. Steve having the day off and being home with us today