Monday, April 28, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 322

Thanking God the past couple of weeks for...

6115. grace to get up early in the mornings
6116. neighborhood in bloom
6117. the beauty of the color green in April
6118. Secret Church
6119. hard but necessary conversations

6120. new carseats with crazy-slick installation (Britax's new ClickTight system: WOW.)
6121. new-to-us minivan
6122. boys eagerly helping stack chairs on tables when we had clean-up duty after church (wish I had a video clip of Jude struggling to slide a chair up onto the table all by himself--so adorable)
6123. opportunity to go along on Elijah's field trip
6124. his falling asleep on my lap on the bus ride home
6125. his ridiculous eyelashes
6126. a long-overdue visit with a friend I rarely see and really love/miss
6127. lingering kisses
6128. Elijah finally learning to pump his legs and make the swing go
6129. a friend babysitting Jude and texting pics of him playing with her girl

6130. the fact that both my boys still say "popstickles" (don't you dare correct them)
6131. getting to wear a friend's baby
6132. a free burrito from Qdoba
6133. Elijah's first lost tooth
6134. rich conversations with friends

6135. our pastor's updates from his trip to Zambia
6136. dancing + laughter with Steve
6137. Jude asking for snuggles
6138. his sweet sleeping face

6139. drawing close to us in our messes
6140. using even our sin for our good and His glory

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Lacking No Good Thing

I can’t read Psalm 34 anymore without flashing back to a pre-concert warmup with my college chorale. One of our songs featured lyrics based on verse 8: “O taste and see that the LORD is good!” Frustrated with our lackluster effort, our conductor—who was notorious for his one-liners, both intentionally and inadvertently hilarious—stopped us and cried, “O TASTE! He is a feast! You’re singing like He’s the Atkins diet!”

The memory still makes me laugh more than a decade later. But as I studied Psalm 34 recently for this month's Pick Your Portion article, I was sobered to realize how often I am still sitting down to grapefruit juice and steak, patting myself on the back for cutting out bread while entirely missing the banquet spread before me. 

Up until recently, I’ve coasted through this psalm, satisfied with my sound theology. After all, I know that "Those who seek the LORD lack no good thing" doesn't mean, “Those who seek the LORD lack nothing that they want.”

But then I thought more carefully about that little word “good,” and I realized I was missing the point. Click over to Pick Your Portion to read about the really good thing.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Multitude "Monday," Take 321

"Jesus weeps because we don’t know the peace that will save us. What brings us peace is always praise.
There are donkey days and I’m the fool who doesn’t recognize how God comes. God enters every moment the way He chooses and this is always the choice: wave a palm or a hammer.
How many times have I wondered how they could throw down their garments before Him on Sunday and then throw their fists at Him on Friday? But I’m the one in the front row:
If my thanksgiving is fickle, then my faith is fickle."
--Ann Voskamp, "If You Want to Start Your Holy Week Off Well"
A day late this week, but I have an exceptional number of reasons to give thanks from the past week after a car accident last Tuesday. Thanking God for...

6085. protecting my boys from any injuries whatsoever
6086. protecting me from any but a minor stiff neck
6087. somehow, miraculously, protecting us from getting hit by another car when we spun out of control (at rush hour, on the highway) and went off the road
6088. the fact that we did not hit or hurt anyone else
6089. helping the boys to remain calm and patient in the backseat instead of freaking out

6090. kind men who stopped to see if we were OK and help
6091. excitement for the boys: a tow truck and a ride in a police car!
6092. a friend who came to pick us up and ran us all over town
6093. the knowledge and resources to purchase and correctly use excellent carseats (I am now even more soapbox-y than I already was about this issue after this terrifying experience; consider this your fair warning)
6094. Steve's opportunity to go to Together for the Gospel

6095. a visit from my mom
6096. one-on-one time with her
6097. a friend babysitting Jude so Mom and I could go shopping and have lunch together
6098. Mom's spoiling me as much as my boys
6099. a picnic at Centennial Park

6100. gorgeous tulips
6101. redbud trees
6102. boys giggling as I gave them underdogs on the swings
6103. answered prayer: a friend's baby here early, before all her help was gone
6104. dinner outside, with no bugs bothering us

6105. an easy, low-key morning in the church nursery
6106. a friend's baby calling another friend's baby "Yum Yum" (William)--best.nickname.ever.
6107. a three-year-old telling me at lunch after church that he had prayed for our family that week
6108. painted toenails
6109. a happy vase of yellow tulips

6110. natural light flooding the dining room
6111. beautiful women around my table sharing rich conversation
6112. Steve taking the boys for a long bike ride while I hosted 

6112. Jen Wilkin and her Word-centered ministry
6113. eyes to see Him at work in my life
6114. eyes to see Him at work in my friends' lives

Monday, April 07, 2014

Multitude Monday, Take 320

Thanking God this week for...

6067. opportunities to practice hospitality
6068. welcoming me into His family and home
6069. a friend's example of gracious submission
6070. flowering trees in bloom
6071. birthday freebies

6072. compliments on my cooking
6073. Jude: "When we get inside I'll say *sniff, sniff* 'Mmm! I smell delicious food in this house!' An' I'll gobble that supper all up."
6074. Elijah: "Mom, we're making vegetables! Daddy's growing food! Outside!"
6075. free music helping me think more about Christ
6076. doing immeasurably more than anyone asked or imagined at the cross

6077. the ability to dispute a charge on our credit card from a shady company 
6078. the courageous students who fought for civil rights
6079. the power of film to bring history to life
6080. Steve not letting the boys leave the house without giving Mama a kiss
6081. original language Bible resources, free online, no actual Hebrew fluency necessary

6082. giving us Himself--the greatest good and most satisfying treasure in all the universe
6083. Steve's only having to work weekends a couple of times a year
6084. friends expressing how they value my friendship

Friday, April 04, 2014

More Than Anyone Dared Ask or Imagine

Recently I downloaded a few free songs from Caroline Cobb and Sean Carter on NoiseTrade. As I listened to "The Passover Song" today, I was stunned by a few of the lyrics:
There’s a poison in our veins
And it leads to death we cannot escape
Send a ransom a perfect Son
Remedy the curse with His precious blood
The plea is so audacious, it's shocking. And it immediately brought to mind Ephesians 3:20-21: "Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

I've always loved these verses, seeing them as beautiful promises for the future: "Pray big prayers! God can do so much more than you even dare to imagine!"

But as I listened to Cobb and Carter singing this afternoon, I realized how powerfully Ephesians 3:20-21 is rooted in what God has *already* done. Before Jesus came, who on earth ever would have dared to pray, "Send a ransom, a perfect Son / Remedy the curse with His precious blood"?! I can't fathom how such a request would even have occurred to anyone. Ask God to send His Son and sacrifice Him so that His blood could redeem us and set us free from the curse? Forbid it, Lord, that I should even think of such an outrageous solution.

Yet that's exactly what He did. He sent a ransom, His perfect Son. Jesus hung on the cross as a once-for-all remedy for the curse of sin and death, His precious blood able to cover and cleanse us who were otherwise condemned.

So as we pray now, we come to Him who proved decisively, two thousand years ago, that He not only could but actually *would* do "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (v. 20, NIV). We pray to a God whose power is at work within us because He destroyed our curse with the blood of His Son. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen!

You can download Lent +Easter Songs on NoiseTrade for free here.

[linking up with My Words and Wonder for #firstfridayfinds]

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Things I Learned in February and March

I have notes for one of these posts from last month, but never got it put together--so here's a double-up for February and March. Lessons recently(ish) learned: 

1. Male mallard ducks don't quack. That little tidbit came from Ranger Rick, Jr., the magazine we've been receiving and loving for several years now.

2. Costco's dishwasher detergent cleans my dishes WAY better than Cascade. 

3. I learned a few months ago that Aldi sold a store brand version of the Girl Scouts' Samoas; once I got my hands on a box of genuine Samoas, it was time for a blind taste test.
I could hardly tell the cookies apart; Steve showed a clear preference for the Aldi cookies four out of four times. The cookie part of the Aldi cookies is softer and chewier, whereas the Samoas are crispier and the entire cookie is sweater. The ingredient list is very, very similar; oil is the #2 ingredient in the Samoas, whereas flour is #2 for Aldi, giving the Girl Scout variety two extra grams of fat. The Aldi cookies do have high fructose corn syrup, but the Samoas do not. The real clincher is the price though: $3.50 for 14 Girl Scout cookies, or $1.96 for 18 cookies at Aldi. In other words: 25 cents a cookie, or 10 cents a cookie. In other words...I was better off only being able to get my hands on Samoas once a year!

4. I have written before about loving LLBean, but I have to say that when it comes to kids' backpacks, Lands' End won out this time. Elijah's school backpack came from LLBean; a few months later, I bought Jude a similar pack from Lands' End. Jude's pack wins out for three distinct reasons besides just being cuter overall: it has side pockets for a water bottle; it has a chest clip to keep the straps from falling off the shoulders (Jude *loves* this feature); and there's no flap over the zipper, making it easier to close up. I expect both to last for several years--Elijah's looks almost like new after 3/4 of the kindergarten year--but Elijah is having a hard time not coveting his brother's new pack.

5. Don't waste your time entering the Mgramcases giveaways you might be seeing on Facebook, much less ordering from the company. The products are crappy and the customer service, worse. I could live with waiting 3-4 weeks to receive a custom case, but I couldn't live with how different it looked from the product photo on the website. Here's what was advertised:

And here's what I got: A poor-quality (muddy colors and pixelated graphics) sticker on a plain white hard shell with a plastic coating over the top which added bulk to the case.

To make a long story short, trying to communicate with the company to get them to honor their satisfaction guarantee and give me a refund has been a huge hassle. Still waiting on my money. I can't remember when I've been so disgusted with a company.

6. Everyday Minerals now sells tinted lip butter. I've long been thinking I should switch to natural lipstick--of all the beauty products to care about, the one you actually end up *eating* would be a good one to go natural with!--but I hadn't looked very hard. At only $6 a tube, the Everyday Minerals one was worth trying--and I will definitely be buying it again. OK, the tubes are pretty tiny, but my lipstick tubes always last a million years anyway. The "barely nude" color is perfect for everyday wear, when I just want a little shine and a hint of color. And unlike my lipsticks, which leave my lips dry and chapped the next day, this stuff moisturizes to make them smooth and soft. I plan to try a couple of other colors next time I need foundation!

7. Lots of places will give you free stuff during your birthday month if you sign up for their rewards program/emails:
  • Chick-Fil-A (#1 combo meal)
  • Sephora (I assume the gift varies month to month--mine was trial-sized lipstick and mascara)
  • Starbucks (any drink, any size--helloooo venti cinnamon dolce latte)
  • Dunkin' Donuts (any medium drink)
  • Panera Bread (pastry, but NOT a bagel, for some dumb reason)
  • Spiffy Clean Express (basic car wash)

8. Garment workers in Bangladesh make 1/10 of the hourly wage that garment workers in America earned 100 years ago (adjusted for inflation). Stunning.

9. You can slide text messages to the left on your iPhone to see the time stamps. Also pressing space twice will give you a period with a space, and holding down the period will give you the option to select .com, .net, .org, etc. These and other helpful little hacks here and here.

What have you learned lately?