Monday, September 30, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 300

"My heart testifies how my failing to stay awake to the abundance of God’s provision makes sleepy to the gravitational pull of more and different and better. Lust and greed are ominous reminders we’ve lost consciousness to the sacred reality of God’s presence and provision in our lives.

Lust and covetousness persuade with the same lie. 'You be your own god. You deserve better than what you have. Hold on to your entitlements. Grab hold of what you need. Make it happen.'

Truth whispers sweetly in rebuttal, “You have already received much. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more. Release gratitude for what is. Hold tightly to trust for what isn’t.” 
--Brenda Chance, "The Sin of Always Wanting More"
Battling against my heart's sense of entitlement and my endless greed for more, different, better--choosing this morning to see and thank God for all I have been generously, freely given, including...

5649. journalists who uncover and tell the world hard but necessary truth
5650. gorgeous mother-child polar bear paintings in Bedtime for Little Bears!--I would love to hang these on my kids' walls!
5651. Elijah generously sharing his post-soccer-game treats with his little brother
5652. bright pink fingernails
5653. a new berry-colored cardigan

5654. eyes to see how I can possibly love/serve/encourage instead of looking for how I can be loved/served/encouraged
5655. Steve reaching over to hold my hand in the car
5656. Jude's belly laugh, and how easy it is to elicit
5657. the desire to get up early and spend time in the Word
5658. indoor bathrooms

5659. a friend's honesty, determination, optimism, courage
5660. Elijah off school two days last week
5661. a date with him while Jude went to Mom's Day Out

5662. his wanting to hold my hand as we walked
5663. his thrill over bridges

5664. sunlight sparkling and shimmering on the ripples of the water
5665. Elijah noticing the beauty and pointing it out to me
5666. the abundance of clothing we have been given
5667. opportunities to give to others out of our overflow
5668. Thai chicken tacos

5669. a friend's teenage son having his eyes opened, heart softened, surrendering to Jesus' call
5670. boys dancing together while Steve and I danced, chanting, "Triple step, rock step!"
5671. one final round of tomatoes from the farmers' market
5672. a purple mum for my front porch
5673. Nashville Symphony's Free Family Day, including an "instrument petting zoo"

5674. the anticipation of our first official just-us family vacation
5675. time to sit at Panera and study/write for several hours
5676. gospel conversations with Steve
5677. eyes to see the beauty and glory of Jesus and His grace

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Things I Learned in September

I'm joining up with Chatting at the Sky again to give you a list of things I learned this month. The first and most important lessons were literally burned into my brain a couple of weeks ago...

1. Always, always make sure you double-check which burner you turn on.
2. Don't put flammable things on the stovetop, even on a burner that's not supposed to be hot.

YIKES! There were actual flames in my kitchen. Pretty scary. My firefighter brother will probably disown me if he hears about this. No harm done to anything but my recipe binder, thankfully (and the recipes themselves weren't ruined; the plastic sleeves just fused together along the top), but the house smelled like smoke and melted plastic all day. I am working hard to break the terrible habit of setting my cookbook, potholders, etc. on the stove when I'm out of counter space.

3. You can make green eggs and ham with kale (or spinach or chard). Your children will make faces and ask for yellow eggs. There may even be tears. You'll be all "You do not like them, so you say. Try them! Try them, and you may. Try them and you may, I say!" You may find yourself making up your own lines: "I will eat them at the table, and I will eat them with Aunt Mabel! I will eat them with my boys. I will eat them with my toys!" When you and your kids finally try them, you will be relieved to discover that you cannot actually taste the kale at all. Your six-year-old might just proclaim, "Say! I like green eggs and ham! I do! I like them, Sam-I-Am!" And you might get a smile like this, and a request for more green eggs and ham the next day :)

4. Instead of those third-wheel bike trailers for little ones learning to ride, you can buy a simple bar that uses the same principle but converts a regular bike. It's called a Trail-Gator, and the great thing about it is, once you've installed it on the adult bike, you can easily attach or detach the kid's bike without tools. That means you can tow your child for a while, let them ride on their own for a while, then re-attach when they get tired. It also fits kids' bikes from 12-20 inches. Jude loves it. It was pretty pricey, but it was cheaper than the third-wheel style, and it's the kind of thing we should be able to resell pretty easily when we're done with it. Now to find a bike for Mama...

What have you learned lately? 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Steve and Amy: A Love Story (Part 10)

[continued from part nine // start here]

Christmas 2002 was not a joyful time for me. I spent my vacation from school feeling confused and heartbroken. In fact, I was so unsure about the decision I had made that I was seriously contemplating changing my mind.

I received some particularly memorable advice from my best friend, Julie, during this period of turmoil. Between Christmas and New Year's, she told me that she thought the idea of giving it a chance sounded like the smartest decision I'd made in this whole mess. Thanks to my journaling habit, her words have been preserved for posterity; on December 27, 2003, I wrote:
"Julie also got really candid with me about Steve--saying she wasn't trying to tell me one way or another, and would support me whatever happened, but that even though Steve's a great guy she doesn't think he's right for me. It's a great fairy tale--a cute story--but I wouldn't be happy; he isn't thoughtful...etc. It's just hard to let go of the fairy tale after holding to it for three years." 
Then on December 29, I wrote a prayer in my journal that included the following:
…Continue to give me wisdom and peace in this situation with Tom, Lord. Work all things out for Your glory. Comfort Tom and give him patience and wisdom and peace as well. Redeem our mistakes; do not forsake us, but lead and guide us as You have promised so many times. Help us both to trust in You. And guide me as I spend time with Steve this week, Father—please help me to view him simply as a valued brother in Christ. I’d love it if You’d even cure me of these feelings for him once and for all! while I still wasn't "over" Steve, I continued to second-guess myself and began to believe that I needed to give Tom a different answer. After Kaleb, his wife, Steve and I rang in the new year at Steve's house, we sat talking well past midnight, and I told them I was thinking of taking it back: I was seriously considering returning to school the following week and telling Tom I'd made a huge mistake--telling him yes, I wanted to give "us" a chance.

What I didn't know was that when I shared my inclination to change my mind with Kaleb and Steve, I threw a huge wrench in Steve's brain. So here's where we have to back up and get his side of the story. Steve graciously agreed to tell it in his own words for your hysterical laughter reading pleasure...

It’s the summer of 2002, and I’m in one of the most painful college courses ever. There’s something about a two-hour course with an older, lifeless, likes-to-lecture kind of professor teaching about technical engineering that causes your mind to wander.  And wander my mind did, to the most absurd (or so I thought at the time) idea I had encountered in a long time.

The idea? Amy and I as a couple.

Now, to be fair, this idea had run through my mind before, but it was always on an “in one side, out the other” kind of path. I was never real welcoming to the thought, so it didn’t stick around for any length of time.

Amy and I were friends for sure, and I certainly highly valued her friendship, but we weren’t ever meant for a romantic relationship. She was just “one of the guys,” and to be honest, was a little more liberal than I was interested in. I specifically remember telling Kaleb at one point that “whoever ends up marrying her is going to have his hands full…”

So this thought shows up, and as has been the standard procedure, I dismiss it immediately, and it leaves. Briefly. Only to return again. And again. And again… Think “persistent widow” kind of returning.

If you ask my wife, she may tell you that I’m a little stubborn. Which means that in order for me to finally catch on to something (especially if I don’t think I will like it) there has to be an inordinate amount of prodding to move. I was pretty certain that I was receiving an inordinate amount of prodding.

So like any good Christian, I prayed about it. “Lord, please take away these thoughts you are bombarding me with…” OK, I don’t remember exactly what I prayed, but I’m certain it wasn’t real affirming toward the thoughts. It was more like, “What in the world is all this about?!”

Fast forward a couple of months and I find out this other guy is interested in pursuing Amy. Immediately there is a sigh of relief. Clearly I was misinterpreting the thoughts of her, and God was using this other guy to answer my prayer and inform me that, no, I was not suppose to pursue her. Thank you, Jesus, for your clear answer!

And then Amy has to throw a wrench in the whole thing (women can be so difficult…). She informs Kaleb and I that she is not ready to date this other guy, and is clearly an emotional wreck about the whole thing.

What she didn’t know at the time was that while she was crying over being confused, she was absolutely thrashing the giant neon sign that God was using to inform me of what I was supposed to do. I didn't have a clue what to think.

Within a few days, I’m *starting* to see another sign, but this one is different. It suggests a turn from the normal course of action, and into the area of pursuing Amy. It seemed reasonably clear as far as the final destination, and as best I could tell, it was one of those “exit 5 miles ahead” kind of signs, giving you plenty of time to get into the correct lane to make a smooth transition from one direction to another. This gentle change, I thought I might be able to handle. 

Waiting 6-8 months before actively pursuing her seemed like it would work out better in light of when I would be willing to get married (not until after I graduated college) and the fact that I didn't want to rush Amy into a relationship when she had just stopped one from happening. Plus, I knew she would be doing a lot of traveling that spring and summer (a mission trip in Asia, for instance, and a Colorado internship), and I didn't want to be a distraction. It was all starting to make a little more sense.

Only I misread the sign.

Oh, I got the destination part right, but when it came to the “gentle exit in 5 miles part,” I bombed the interpretation. It was actually a flashing, “TURN RIGHT NOW” deal, and my mental car was about to feel like it was out of control trying to stay on any kind of reasonable road.

A few days after I got the signal that I was supposed to pursue Amy, here she comes with her hammer, chasing my sign again. She says she's thinking about going back to school, and telling this guy that she is willing to give “them” a try.

Um, no! Didn’t you know that we are supposed to start dating in about eight months?

And off my car goes, screeching and shaking, driving through the ditch as I try to make my exit.

[...continued in part 11...]

Monday, September 23, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 299

"These are gifts. They beg praise to Him. Holy joy lies in the habit of murmuring thanks to God for the smallest of graces. Sure, I mess it up and gripe a thousand times, but just like you keep doing the laundry, you just keep beginning fresh again — The habit of Thanksgiving is the one habit to wear for a lifetime. And the thing is, really – There is only one gift — the one ocean of Christ that falls as rain over us in a thousand ways." (Ann Voskamp, "How to Figure Out the Equation of a Good Week, a Good Life")

Counting those thousands of ways this week, thanking Him for...

5618. a friend making a long drive to watch Elijah's soccer game
5619. friends making long drives to meet with me and read the Word with me
5620. the funds to fix our money-pit cars
5621. early morning grocery shopping
5622. boxes of voice and piano music sorted, purged, organized

5623. grace to be diligent and productive
5624. mercy when I am not diligent or productive
5625. dance lessons at home in our living room
5626. Lisa Velthouse's candor and piercing observation of the gospel in 2 Samuel 15
5627. time to study the Word

5628. the opportunity to host Elijah's teacher and her husband and daughter
5629. a new friend's wonder at creation
5630. encouragement from my husband
5631. the crinkle cutter I've had for a year but have just recently discovered I like
5632. an evening of deep, interesting, meaningful conversations with friends

5633. a friend having cinnamon crunch bagels at a meeting, just when I'd been thinking of stopping at Panera after the meeting for exactly that
5634. answered prayer for unity
5635. sweet time of planning and fellowship with friends
5636. Sharpie pens in new colors sold individually at Target
5637. perfect fall afternoon light

5638. clouds floating across an impossibly blue sky
5639. reminders not to store up treasures where moth and rust destroy
5640. Jesus as the ultimate Prophet who brought God's message and who WAS the message made flesh
5641. Jesus as the ultimate Priest who offered a sacrifice and who WAS the sacrifice
5642. Jesus as the ultimate King who administered the law justly and who KEPT the law perfectly

5643. our pastor's passionate preaching of these glorious truths
5644. Steve's moving-as-usual Scripture reading
5645. the opportunity to discuss it with him more fully later
5646. a backrub while I washed a giant pile of dishes
5647. a boy from church choosing to be baptized and follow Christ

5648. time to sit at the park and study while Steve and the boys took a bike ride

Monday, September 16, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 298

Thanking God this week for...

5590. missing puzzle pieces found
5591. missing flip-flops found
5592. going through old family photos with my mom
5593. hearing stories from Steve's granny
5594. friends wanting to hear my stories

5595. farm-fresh eggs again!
5596. Jude: "The sun is up! Yay! The sun! Fank you God for da rain off!"
5597. opportunity to run an errand to help a friend
5598. Elijah: "We need to pray. Dear God, please help it not to rain for my soccer game. Amen."
5599. opportunity to teach Elijah that we can trust God even when His answer is "no"

5600. rain clearing after all, soccer game played as scheduled (for Elijah this was sweet answered prayer; for Mama this was hard eucharisteo on a muddy field as a solo parent...)
5601. free photo editing tools on Picasa
5602. adorable pictures of my newborn niece
5603. vanilla Coke
5604. a walk with a new friend

5605. focused writing time
5606. Saturday's high of 73 degrees
5607. a family day at Fall Creek Falls
5608. Jude: "I don't need help! I can do it! I have stwong legs!"
5609. bodies that can hike and enjoy creation

5610. impressive rock formations
5611. cool spray at the bottom of the falls
5612. safety as we crossed terrifying bridges and climbed over rocks
5613. Steve's patience
5614. our pastor's humility in teaching debatable doctrines

5615. his powerful sermon on Acts 20:33-38, "The Power of the Inheritance"
5616. a suffering man in our church now safely Home
5617. Mr. Marvin's example of dying well and trusting Christ to the end

Monday, September 09, 2013

Multitude Monday, Take 297

Thanking God these past two weeks for...

5555. freshly grated nutmeg
5556. browned butter
5557. time studying the Word with a friend
5558. last of the sweet corn
5559. the truth, which does not need to be feared, but sets us free

5560. grace to show compassion and patience
5561. Steve doing the dirty work of snaking a clogged pipe
5562. boys traveling SO well on long trips
5563. a pizza sub with my in-laws
5564. getting to snuggle my brand-new niece

5565. a beautiful, fun reunion with Steve's mom's family
5566. photos captured of all of us together

5567. his granny surrounded by 29 great-grandchildren
5568. the blessing of having married into such a wonderful family
5569. Jude accepting consequences better than expected

5570. Elijah being a kind big brother, helping Jude run through the sprinkler
5571. time spent talking and laughing with my sister-in-law
5572. Sunday evening ice cream cones
5573. Steve walking with his granny, arm in arm
5574. Steve dancing with his mom in the living room, teaching her a few steps

5575. backlit clouds
5576. modern cardiac technology
5577. chirping cicadas
5578. this great new group blog of women reflecting on Scripture
5579. the courage and humility to admit I have been wrong in my thinking and practice

5580. encouragement from Jude's Mom's Day Out director
5581. paleo meatballs
5582. Elijah taking responsibility
5583. the way he lights up when I affirm him
5584. the sweet video clips a friend posts of her four-year-old autistic son beginning to talk

5585. a visit from Jessie Rae and her adorable baby
5586. Steve's company's generosity in blessing employees and their families with a fun picnic
5587. boys being brave on big water slides
5588. Grammy and Pops visiting for Grandparents' Day
5589. His "voluntary condescension" to bridge the insurmountable distance between Himself and rebellious sinners