Thursday, February 28, 2013

How He Answers

" '...the LORD gives you in the evening meat to eat and in the morning bread to the full, because the LORD has heard your grumbling that you grumble against him...Come near before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.' ...And the LORD said to Moses, 'I have heard the grumbling of the people of Israel. Say to them, "At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God."'" (Exodus 16:8-12)

If this was God's response to might He have responded to a faith-filled plea for provision? If He invited a group of complaining whiners to come near to Him and rained down miraculous food for them to eat...what might He have done for a people who praised and thanked Him and then asked Him to meet their needs and trusted (based on very recent experience!) that He would??

He is so merciful and generous, even when we are unbelieving, petulant children...but O, that I would remember His character and deeds and ASK Him for help from a place of gratitude and trust, rather than grumble in unbelief, convinced that He won't provide what I need!

What We Forget; What He Forgets
Forget Not

Monday, February 25, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 276

"Thank Me for each blessing along the way; this brings Joy to both you and Me. A grateful heart protects you from negative thinking. Thankfulness enables you to see the abundance I shower upon you daily. Your prayers and petitions are winged into heaven's throne room when they are permeated with thanksgiving. In everything give thanks, for this is My will for you." (Jesus Calling, Sarah Young)

Thanking Him for this week's abundance, including...

4736. boys readily apologizing to each other
4737. Jude, unprompted, telling Daddy "You look handsome!" after a haircut :)
4738. excellent customer service from Grosche, where I bought Steve's French press
4739. lunch with two of Elijah's preschool friends and their moms
4740. constructive, honest criticism

4741. stories of Him changing hearts in specific ways
4742. Steve listening to me vent and helping me hash through issues
4743. long runs with my college sophomore self
4744. slices of lime
4745. a fruitful debriefing meeting with my fellow retreat-planners

4746. rechargeable batteries
4747. an opportunity to do a favor for the women at Vandy who so helped Elijah and me
4748. reminders of the dramatic gains Elijah has made in his language development
4749. cinnamon dolce frappuccino
4750. Steve serving, serving, serving

4751. meaningful conversations with beautiful women in the car and at a baby shower on Saturday
4752. a friend's humility in confessing sin
4753. wise, godly, Jesus-loving elders
4754. a mama's proud tears
4755. the broken man who testified to our church that when all other hopes have failed, he is trusting Jesus alone

4756. fellowship with friends
4757. His evident mercy in their lives
4758. new mercies in my own life on a Monday morning

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ 2.22.13

Because I find myself alone in a quiet house, because the blog has been quiet, because I haven't done one since before Christmas...a little Simple Woman's Daybook to end the week... 

Outside my window...
dark and quiet. An orangey streetlight, a tiny red airplane tower light blinking, the occasional car driving by.

I am thinking... 
that after I finish this, I should go curl up in the armchair in the living room and do some catch-up journaling/Bible reading. 

I am thankful for... 
two new moms who have shared with me recently that my vulnerability and honesty in talking with them about my struggles adjusting to motherhood has proved helpful and encouraging to them. It is still hard to put myself out there and have those conversations, but hearing tearful thanks from struggling mamas makes it so worth it. 

From the kitchen...
I almost never buy zucchini and summer squash anywhere but the farmers' market, in season, but it was on sale at Kroger this week so I picked some up. That sauteed with onions hit the spot for a side dish (to go with grilled salmon) at dinner tonight. Last night we had Thai chicken tacos, and tomorrow night I might try these similar-but-different black bean tacos. Tonight and tomorrow morning I'm doing some cooking for a friend who just had a baby. She needs breakfast foods, so I'm making zucchini muffins and bacon, egg and cheese cups. Steve's going to contribute our favorite oatmeal pancakes.

I am wearing...
I'm in sweats now; what I was wearing earlier was more interesting: a black button-down shirt; a red cashmere cardigan which has a giant hole in the sleeve that I pretend doesn't exist because I love the sweater so much; my first-ever pair of skinny jeans, which unfortunately don't fit right; and these red flats I'm in love with. I've wanted red shoes for ages and scored these before Christmas for less than $15 from Kohl's. So fun!

I am creating... 
digital scrapbooks, for the first time in my life. I've made a photo book online only once before, when I needed to write a social story to prepare Elijah for the birth of his baby brother. I used to be really into scrapbooking, but that fell by the wayside long ago. With the advent of digital photography, making books digitally, too, just seems so much more practical. Friends of mine make a book every year, and I love the idea but have never done it until now. I got my first one (January-April 2012) in the mail last week and I love it! It's nothing spectacular design-wise, but I'm thrilled to have all those pictures printed and captioned and preserved. Now Shutterfly is running another sale, so I'm uploading pics to work on the rest of 2012.

I am going... 
to two private school open houses next week. Our school decision is looming. Elijah will start kindergarten in the fall, and we have absolutely no idea what we're going to do. All options (public, private, homeschool) are still on the table, and we continue to think, read, talk and pray about what will be best for our family. 

I am reading... 
my old journals from college. Love looking back on my life, seeing how far God has brought me, thanking Him for the amazing people He put in my life back then, remembering answered prayers and fun experiences. I recently started 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess, which I think I need to read very slowly--like a chapter at a time, then put it down and let that topic marinate for a while, do some related fasting of my own. I finally picked up Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series but am totally overwhelmed (any recommendations on which parts to hit first?). And I was excited to find The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge--a book I've been wanting to read since our walk across the bridge last September--on a friend's shelf recently...but 140 pages in, I'm bored out of my mind. And since it's a 600-pager, I'm about ready to give it a tl;dr. Not at all impressed with David McCullough thus far. I also recently finished Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School, which I found helpful.

For my Bible reading, I'm in Exodus. I'm liking how I decided to flip back and forth with my reading plan: Acts, Genesis, Romans, Exodus, 1 Corinthians, Leviticus, etc.

I am hoping... 
to find someone to watch Jude a couple of times a month so I can volunteer at the elementary school where Elijah would go next year if we choose public school. I really hate not living closer to our families or our church family!

I am hearing... 
the oven buzzer, and blissful silence. Love late nights when everyone else is sleeping. Sadly I do not get to indulge my night-owl preferences very often. Just isn't good for me or my family, most of the time.

Around the house... 
I discovered some sort of teeny tiny bug in my dry-goods cupboard...gross, right? I get to spend tomorrow emptying the entire cupboard, figuring out what they've gotten into, throwing out tons of ruined food, cleaning, and repackaging things into airtight containers. FUN TIMES.

One of my favorite things... 
Elijah being a kind big brother--and his eagerness to please his daddy, wanting me to tell Steve about how he was kind or how he obeyed. 

A few plans for the rest of the week... 
heading to a baby shower tomorrow afternoon; possibly having dinner with friends on Sunday.

A picture thought I am sharing... 
Clifford the Big Red Dog is Jude's BFF. As in, Jude won't go to bed without Clifford, insists that Clifford sit next to him at breakfast, and likes to read books to Clifford. It's irritating at times, but also really adorable:

Monday, February 18, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 275

After months and months of emails, phone calls, meetings and lists, all of our planning came together and the women of our church got to enjoy a retreat this past weekend! I came home last night with a long list of answered prayers and unexpected blessings--many gifts to thank God for, including...

4706. my two awesome co-planners, with whom it has been a joy to work
4707. my patient husband, who gave me the time and freedom to plan and then the gift of a weekend away while he cared for the boys
4708. the fastest I have ever, ever been in and out of despised Walmart, when I needed to buy folders on my way to the retreat
4709. safe travels
4710. my dear friend Erin, who taught our sessions

4711. the privilege of talking and praying with two beautiful women in my small group
4712. the fact that no event is too big to be out of His sovereign control
4713. the fact that no detail is too small to be beneath His care and notice
4714. delicious meals and snacks
4715. laughing until my face hurt

4716. conversion stories
4717. love stories
4718. birth stories
4719. provision stories
4720. just plain funny stories

4721. a tiny bit of hiking
4722. beautiful waterfalls
4723. snowflakes floating *up* instead of falling down
4724. singing in harmony with my alto friend Laura
4725. games in which I learned fascinating and/or hilarious things about my friends

4726. sweet times of prayer
4727. women passionate about God and His Word
4728. women setting examples of servanthood, discipline, humility, joy
4729. a fun and delicious lunch at Cheddar's on the way home
4730. my boys so excited to see me, they ran circles around the house and threw themselves on the floor

4731. big hugs and "I missed you!'s
4732. soft mattress, heavy blankets, husband in my bed
4733. women speaking of being refreshed and blessed
4734. these beautiful women whom I get to call my sisters
4735. His promise that in His presence, we will find fullness of joy

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Throw Yourself In

Wouldn't it have been understandable if Peter had drowned himself?

"When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he was stripped for work, and threw himself into the sea" (John 21:7). 

If you read this verse out of its immediate context, you could easily assume that it describes a despairing response of Peter. After what he did (betraying Jesus), his reaction upon seeing the Lord is to throw himself overboard--drown himself--a response like Judas' hanging himself. How could Peter bear to face Jesus after having denied Him so blatantly, repeatedly?

Yet Peter's reaction was exactly the opposite. This is a man so excited to see Jesus, so eager to reach Him and embrace Him (or perhaps even just fall at His feet) that he cannot sit still in the boat for a hundred more yards. Peter can't contain himself; he jumps into the water and swims/wades the remaining distance. You can picture him soaked through, running crazily through the shallow water as best a person can run in knee-deep waves, desperate to reach Jesus.

Doesn't this speak volumes about the character of Jesus? We might naturally expect Peter to cower in fear, hide in shame--if not to commit suicide, then at least to be the last one off the boat, averting his eyes, hanging behind the others. Instead, he can't get to Jesus fast enough. What does that tell us about the mercy and compassion of the Christ Peter knew and loved?

In the face of his failure, Peter ran to Jesus. Where else could he go? He knew that Jesus alone had the words of eternal life. And so rather than wallow in despair, rather than attempt to self-atone, Peter threw himself on the mercy of Jesus. He may have stumbled; he may have even temporarily abandoned hope (he was fishing, after all--had he decided to revert to his old way of life, thinking the disciple thing hadn't worked out too well?). But when Peter saw his Savior, he was compelled to run TO Jesus, not away.

And Jesus welcomed him. Jesus again extended to Peter the invitation He'd given in the very beginning: Follow Me.

Lord, teach me to trust Your mercy, Your compassion, Your lovingkindness like this. Teach me, when I screw up yet again, when I deny and betray and offend You, to run to You. Teach me to throw myself on Your mercy, trusting that You will forgive, knowing that You are my only hope.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 274

Thanking God this week for...

4673. books that challenge me
4674. poignant quotes from Madeleine L'Engle
4675. husband complimenting my cooking
4676. cupboards and freezers full of food
4677. a surprise Valentine in the mail

4678. the fact that I can see
4679. glasses, however much I prefer wearing contacts
4680. warm, wet washcloths to wipe out my eyes
4681. soap and running water to wash hands frequently
4682. plenty of clean pillowcases

4683. getting in easily to see an optometrist
4684. better diagnosis, new prescription
4685. symptoms eased
4686. healed eyes, FINALLY!
4687. one of Elijah's preschool friends plus his mom and sister here for lunch

4688. my first car hitting 225,000 miles and still going strong
4689. a friend's surgery successful, a doctor's declaration: "cancer-free!"
4690. Thai food with the sweet girl I'm mentoring
4691. evidence of His grace at work in her heart
4692. using my time with her to force me to preach truth to my own heart

4693. prayer with friends
4694. a day of corporate fasting
4695. earnest prayer with our church body
4696. Jude "helping" wash dishes
4697. a friend's enthusiasm and passion for God and His Word

4698. a visit from my awesome parents
4699. the countless ways they continue to serve me
4700. their babysitting so Steve and I could go to a wedding and out for dinner
4701. the beautiful wedding of a sweet couple from church
4702. time to catch up with a friend

4703. godly church leadership
4704. opportunities to serve others by taking them meals
4705. loving and dying for me when I was still weak and sinful and uninterested in Him

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Not Hungry? Hang Out with People Who Feast

Our beautiful church held a day of prayer and fasting this week--it was a powerful time of focused intercession for a couple of significant issues in our body. As our family drove to prayer meeting that night, Steve reflected on his fast.

He remarked that while he was busy at work, it wasn't all that difficult--his mind was occupied and there was no food in sight (or smell). The hardest part, he said, was when he came home and made PB&Js for the boys at suppertime. To see the strawberry-rhubarb jam, to smell the peanut butter as he spread it thickly on homemade bread...peanut butter and jelly sandwiches never sounded so good.

We talked about the realities of fasting and the spiritual parallels. Physical hunger comes quickly, automatically, after such a short time without food. Why is it that we can go not only hours, but days without spiritual food, and not feel those pangs, that longing?

I've heard that when you fast for a longer period of time--like 40 days--the first week is actually the hardest. If you can get through those initial excruciating days of hunger, after a while, you're not hungry anymore. Is that where we are so often? Our souls are so used to being deprived of regular spiritual sustenance that we've lost our appetites?

There can be plenty of reasons we're not spiritually hungry, plenty of other angles to explore here. But Steve and I circled back around to his experience making sandwiches and wondered: Is there a way to get close to spiritual food in order to stir your senses and stimulate your appetite? How can you expose yourself to the Bread of Life in such a way that you realize you're actually starving?

When you're busy and you're not around food, you can forget that you're hungry. But when you smell a feast, when you watch others filling their bellies with delicious fare, you start to salivate. You want what they've got--ASAP. 

In other words, I think this points to the importance of community and the body of Christ. When you're not hungry for God and His Word, perhaps one of the best things you can do is rub shoulders with those who are feasting. You spend time with people who smell like food, people who tell you about their last meal in great detail, people who describe with relish their favorite foods and what they plan to eat next. You watch others around you savoring the Bread of Life, and your soul starts to ache. You want what they have. And if you're hungry--it's yours for the feasting.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Steve and Amy: A Love Story (Part 5)

[continued from part four // start here]

In May of our senior year, Steve and I went to prom together--just as friends, of course. In fact, Steve never officially asked me; over the space of several awkward and anxiety-filled weeks, it was just assumed that we were going to go together (the two of us; Kaleb and his girlfriend; plus Aaron with his date--Kaleb's cousin and my childhood best friend!). Thankfully it all worked out, and we had a blast--though I was equal parts thrilled to slow-dance with Steve, hurt that he didn't say a single thing about how I looked, and terrified that he would find out how I felt and be completely turned off. Oh, the teenage angst...

So, to recap: We were show choir partners, front and center with a dance solo in the spring show. We were romantic costars in the musical. We hung out together constantly. And we went to prom together. As you can imagine, people in our small town talked. It really seemed like at least once a week, someone was asking me if Steve and I were dating--or telling me that we *should* be dating!

It's worth noting at this point, though, that it was always the *three* of us. Kaleb, Steve and I were like the Three Musketeers. We were together all the time (which ended up hurting the girlfriend that would later become Kaleb's wife...I probably owe her a long-overdue apology for my complete insensitivity...she definitely knew that I was not a threat to her whatsoever, but I know our three-way friendship monopolized Kaleb's time and left her in the cold too often! SORRY Denise!!).

Steve and I really did not have a friendship apart from Kaleb. Steve and Kaleb, obviously, were best friends totally without me. And Kaleb and I could and did talk on the phone or hang out without Steve. But for whatever reason, Steve and I almost never spent any time together or talked without Kaleb around.

Anyway, we all graduated, and Steve and I even marched in and out together (as Steve Kannel and Amy Kaylor, we were always right next to each other in alphabetical order). The look on my face in this photo totally cracks me that smile there is probably some degree of I'm walking with Steve! If only they were playing "The Wedding March" instead of "Pomp and Circumstance"! Haha.

Still, though, I was convinced we weren't supposed to be together at the time. I actually said to Julie at one point, "I don't want to date him now--I just want to marry him later!"

Kaleb, Steve and I had one last summer together before we went our separate ways for college. I was so worried about how our friendship might change when we were no longer living in the same town. I didn't know how I would survive without these two amazing guys who were my shoulders to cry on, my brothers in Christ, my partners in crime, the ones who kept me humble and kept me laughing. And I probably spent the summer overanalyzing everything Steve did and said, trying to figure out if there was any tiny grain of hope that he could care for me. (For the record: at this point, he had no feelings for or interest in me whatsoever.)

One time that summer Kaleb actually asked us, separately, if we could see ourselves ending up with each other! He refused to tell me what Steve said--and I evaded giving him a real answer. Of course, my unwillingness to answer was in itself the answer...

Come August, Steve left for the University of Cincinnati, and I moved to Marion, Indiana, to attend Indiana Wesleyan University. Kaleb stayed home to attend a community college and continue working. Could our friendship survive that distance? And what would happen when all the girls in Cincinnati fell all over Steve--because of course they would; how could they not, when he was so amazing? I could hardly bear to think about it.

[to be continued]

Monday, February 04, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 273

"We need to say 'Thank you' whenever possible, even if we are not able to reconcile the human creature's free will with the Maker's working out of the pattern. Thanks and praise are, I believe, some of the threads with which the pattern is woven." (Madeleine L'Engle, Two-Part Invention, p. 125)

Thanking God this week for...

4644. Daddy and the boys running around playing swords
4645. an unwanted book sold on for $20 in less than a week!
4646. one-on-one time with a friend I rarely get to see
4647. Elijah getting to play outside at preschool, finally
4648. friends here for dinner

4649. Steve talking theology on the phone for hours with his brother
4650. a basement in which to take cover at 3AM
4651. safety through storms
4652. Jude reading books to Clifford
4653. access to information, however overwhelming and confusing

4654. Elijah cheerfully helping to clean up a mess he didn't make
4655. 13.8 hours of Tchaikovsky music for $1.99
4656. access to a dizzying variety and amount of music
4657. the women of our church quickly signing up to bring meals to other families
4658. the safe arrivals of two friends' babies

4659. news of another friend's new pregnancy
4660. Jude proudly showing Elijah his Duplo creation
4661. Elijah encouraging him: "I see that! I like that ship!"
4662. pencil sharpeners
4663. a decade of life with Steve

4664. vivid memories of that first date and "define the relationship" conversation ten years ago last Friday
4665. a friend's example of sacrificial servanthood
4666. Elijah loudly singing in Kroger, much to the amusement of fellow shoppers: "Come and worship! Come and worship! Come and worship Christ the newborn King!"
4667. pizza in Nashville with friends
4668. a free Slugs and Bugs concert

4669. Steve doing maintenance on our cars
4670. the opportunity to host a little party to bless a friend who's getting married
4671. Jude in button-downs and sweater vests
4672. new members being brought into our church