Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jesus is the reason... so then what?

I am in disbelief that Christmas is two days away! This week has been busy- finishing up gift shopping & grocery shopping... not great on the "staying off my feet" orders for the doctor, but what is a Mommy to do?!
I went to see my doctor again Tuesday. It was a good visit, and gave me peace of mind after having a lot of contractions last weekend. Still no change and Charity is still growing so well with a strong heartbeat! But she wants me to be back in two weeks to do a fetal fibronectin test to tell whether I am likely to go into preterm labor. I'm thankful we have such a thorough doctor, whose concerns are the same as mine! What a night & day difference from the doctor we had with Gabbi.

Anyway, here I sit, one baby sleeping & the other running a couple errands with her Daddy. Dustin showed up at 1:00 this afternoon, a surprise to me & the girls! He said hardly anyone was at work today and he found himself just chatting and visiting with everyone at the office, so he thought he may as well come home :) And he's off until Jan 3rd! What a blessing to have him home with us!
I should probably be laying down or napping right now since the house is unusually quiet, but I have a lot of thoughts running through my mind that have been leaving me blank the past several days. Then I read today's post on the True Woman blog, and it left me even more confused. Celebrating Christmas in an unbelieving home my whole life (even though we would have said we were believers), Jesus was the afterthought of Christmas. Or, yes He was the "reason" for the season... so thank You, Jesus for being born so we can eat good food and have lots of presents. I don't know how my parents afforded to give us so much for Christmas, but we were spoiled. My mom and dad never did the whole "Santa" thing real big, but we weren't missing him with all the stuff we got. I did love those times as a kid, being with all my family. I do have good memories, but they simply don't include Christ.
When we came to know Christ, however, it all shifted... as it should have. And now every year I know Him, He reveals to me more and more what all happened that night He was born. How truly amazing it is. How unbelievable that my High King would humble Himself to the point of becoming a human... and even "less" than merely human... a baby! Who would cry, and hunger, and need His nose wiped, His bottom wiped, be utterly dependent on a young, teenage girl... What humility! He was fully human (without ceasing to be fully God). He did this because there was no other way we could be with Him. Yet He wanted us with Him.... me... He wanted me to be His, so He came. Wow. Hallelujah! He's shown me that, and so much more.
Dustin and I, we want our children to grow knowing the so much more part of Christmas. The part of Christmas that is greater than any Doll house or Princess nightgown they could unwrap. But how??? That is my question... how???
When we were married, especially after Gabbi was born, we decided we weren't going to do Santa. While I think there is absolutely no benefit- and not only no benefit, we believe it takes away from Christ- I'm not going to go on and on about how terrible you are if you do Santa with your kids. Because you're not. I just ask you to consider where we are coming from.
We just decided- besides the fact that it's lying- there is no gospel in "Santa Claus". There are too many similarities between God and "Santa"- they both are omniscient, all knowing & omnipresent. They both know when you're good and bad, but want you to be good, etc. Despite all their similarities, they are very different on the most important thing... If you are good for "Santa" he rewards you with all these presents! But if you are bad, you get nothing- or coal- or (as is the case in most homes, I'm sure) you still get stuff without consequences... That is so unlike our God. No one is deserving of the gifts we get. We could never be good enough for God, yet He bestows His blessings on us because of His grace... and there are consequences for sin. That is why Jesus had to come in the first place! Aside from this one major issue, there were a couple "smaller" reasons... We were also troubled with the idea that our kids' whole childhood we would say "Santa is real. God is real. Santa sees you when you're sleeping. God sees you when you're sleeping. Santa sees everything you do. God sees everything you do." Then one day our child finds out the truth about Santa, and they come to us and say " what about God??" Finally, we believe it takes away the glory God deserves for His provision. The kids wake up bright and early Christmas morning, ready to open all the presents, there's so much excitement, and when all the gifts are opened they shout what? "Thank you... Santa???" When the Lord is truly the one deserving the thanks and praise for what He has allowed us to get.
Ok, so we don't do Santa... we know that's not going to the one answer for having our children understand the "so much more". Dustin and I also have talked in the past about the amount of stuff we get our children. Since we don't want presents to be the driving focus of the holiday, we decided that our children will get three gifts from us. Jesus got three gifts, they'll get three gifts. Well, that's from us... then there are aunts, uncles, grandparents, great-grandparents, friends, so on and so on... they still get them stuff. And we're not so stick-in-the-mud that we're going to say "please, don't get our kids gifts" (not that you're a stick-in-the-mud if that's what you do!). I love giving gifts! I love picking out something I just know someone is going to love- especially my daughters- and the anticipation of seeing their face when they open it. I'm not going to take that away from someone. And let's face it, little girls are FUN to shop for. This is the first year where Gabbi really knows what's going on. Which makes it fun. It also makes it all the more troubling. Everyday she's asked me "is it Jesus's birthday yet??" (because I told her we'll open presents on Jesus's bday). She thinks every present I wrap is for her. I've even had to re-tape a gift or two because of her anxiousness. It's cute. Yes. So sweet. Yes... but how do I make her really understand? I know at 3, she's only going to understand so much. But as they grow, how do I make them understand it's not about the gifts that will one day perish, the gifts that will still leave you empty no matter how much you get... it's about The Gift??
We started doing Advent candles this year, with little Gabbi-sized devotions. I'm loving it. It's truly been some of my favorite times as a family so far. Gabbi listens as her Daddy reads from the bible and the Jesus Storybook Bible. She talks about it. She does get that Jesus was born, and we open gifts on His birthday. I just want it to be so much more than the presents. I want our children to truly cherish the time with our family, to cherish Christ & His coming... over gifts. I'm sure every Christian mom wants that. I just am at a loss on how to get there. Part of me thinks it won't really happen until they know Christ. Part of me says, they're kids & kids will always be excited about presents. True. I just think there is a balance somewhere. I'm welcome to (and actually asking for) everyone's thoughts on the subject.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day! Snow Day! Snow Day!

I love snow! Love love love snow! Not the greatest fan of being cold, but, I'll deal with it during the snow. It's beautiful. It's fun. It's great. I kind of wish we lived in a part of the country that got a little more snow than here. Then maybe so many people wouldn't have such a bad attitude about it! ;o)

I'm really wishing this post would have some great pictures of how we absolutely enjoyed this wonderful snow today... but there won't be any. It was below freezing all day, with a windchill of like, 6 degrees. My 3 year old and sick 1 year old stayed nice and cozy inside- as did Dustin and I! This was already the second snow of the winter... and it's not even winter! But Gabbi and I got out on the back porch just a little while the first time one day last week. We're hoping it's a year for a lot of snow. Maybe even a white Christmas *fingers crossed*. On Christmas, I already told Dustin, no matter how cold it is if it snows, we will be outside at some point. So no pictures of tonight, but I'll leave a picture of last winter's big snow. Here's Gabbi staying cool in the "fort" her Daddy and Poppy built for her.

I am excited to share our home is finally decorated for Christmas! What few decorations we have. But I'm not worried about it, nor am I caught up in how our home needs to look for the holidays. I suppose I easily could be, but for financial reasons and the fact that we haven't yet been married 4 years, we just haven't accumulated much stuff :) This is a year of firsts, however. Two Sundays ago we ventured out to find our first *real* Christmas tree. I am in love! If we can help it, we'll never have an artificial tree again. We bought from this little place across from the new Kroger on Broadway. All the trees were beautiful, and not nearly as expensive as I thought. They truly were some of the prettiest real trees I've ever seen- and I'm not just saying that because ours is from there ;) Gabbi had a blast picking out our tree. She ran to the biggest trees on the lot wanting "that one". It was bitter cold that evening, but she didn't seem to notice. We finally settled on one, came home, ate soup, drank hot chocolate, and decorated our tree. Gabbi helped us decorate after Catie went to bed. She hung about ten ornaments or so before she went on to bed and Dustin and I finished up. I got a kick the next morning of hearing her tell Catie about the tree.
"Isn't our tree beautiful, Catie? Mommy and I decorated it last night. See, I did this one, Catie (pointing to an ornament she hung). And this one... And this one..." I love how, in her mind, Daddy had nothing to do with it. And she didn't even notice the tree being completed the next morning. When she had gone to bed, the bottom third of it was missing lights because Dustin had to go out and buy more.

I also love how she always talks to Catie as if Catie understands everything she's saying. It's so sweet, and I know one day (very soon), Catie will really be understanding everything she's saying. On one hand, I don't want that day to come. But on the other hand, I'm so anxious to see how they'll interact and talk when Catie gets just a little bigger. However, these days we're really working on some heart issues with Gabbi as far as Catie is concerned. We pray everyday, sometimes several times a day, for the Lord to help Gabbi love Catie, help her be kind to Catie, and not be selfish, not to push/ hit/ trip, etc. My patience is often tested, and I must continually remember the Lord's constant patience with me. He has shown me much grace in my life, and I pray Gabbi will see this grace through me. There are things God has to tell me over- and over- and over- and over- again before one day, I get it! And I have the Holy Spirit. Gabbi doesn't, so how could I possibly expect her to do better than I? In the mean time, we'll keep praying. Keep reminding. Keep speaking truth to her and over her. I am looking forward to seeing God's mighty hand in her life.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Baby News & My Amazing Hubby

He is absolutely amazing.
The weird thing about marriage, is when you are dating/ engaged/ newly married there is so much emotion involved that you don't think you could love them anymore than you do right then. Which, if you are taught correctly, you are aware those emotions will fade. True. Very true. In almost 4 years of marriage, I can state that as fact. I was prepared for it. But what I wasn't prepared for, something I don't think anyone could prepare me for or even describe, is the love that replaces those emotions. A love that can only grow over handfuls of arguments, long late-night pillow conversations, children, several different homes, tears, laughter... Everything that makes up a marriage.
After seeing his huge grin last night when he felt Charity (yes, Baby has a name now!) kick for the first time, I just looked at him and said "I love you... more and more... I just never thought that possible."
But isn't that what it should be like? If our marriage is supposed to represent Christ and the Church? The more I learn about my husband- the man God has made him and is growing him to be-- the more I love him. Just like the Lord. The more I learn about Him and know Him, the more time I spend with Him and the more He shows me who He is-- the more I love Him.
We went to the Doctor yesterday... finally... after he'd been wanting me to call for 2 weeks.
Two weeks ago, while singing during the Missions Conference at church I started cramping, real painful cramps. But there were no other symptoms of anything being wrong, and eventually while sitting during the sermon, they went away. Since then, every other day or so (sometimes more frequently) I've felt the same cramping, sometimes not as painful, but it feels just like contractions. I told Dustin, and he immediately wanted me to call me doctor. Because I was just 18 weeks, I was just thinking "there's no way I could really be contracting?" But one night a few days ago I felt the same cramps when I was lying on my back in bed. When I put my hand on my stomach my whole lower abdomen was hardened. So finally last Friday or Saturday I told him I'd call first thing Monday.
We went, and although I'm thankfully not starting to dilate this soon, my doctor was still concerned. She said if I start dilating I'll definitely be put on bed rest. For now though, I'm on "modified" bed rest. No lifting my babies, no lifting anything really, no strenuous housework, being off my feet as much as possible. Of course, I'm going to rest as much as I can... but seriously, how much can you rest at home with a 3 and 1 year old?
Well, my sweet husband didn't even blink when my doctor looked at him and said "This means you will have to do a lot more around the house for her!" So last night I didn't even get off the couch to get a drink of water. (Even though I don't think it would hurt me to do that.) When I had to get up to go to the bathroom, he said "Wish I could to that for you too!" :) He knows what it will mean the next several weeks. Even though I still want to help out and do some things, he's pretty much against me doing anything that's not necessary.
He just so wonderful. Despite whatever "differences" we've had to work through, and still do, we're both learning and growing. He's such a good daddy & loving husband. He loves both his little girls so much. Where some husbands would probably show some "disappointment" with a third girl on the way, he just can't wait. I am so thankful to God for him. The Lord knew just what I needed in a husband and chose Dustin for me... to journey along with me and help me grow in so many ways.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Christmas Card Sneak Peak

We drove up to the Museum of Appalachia this afternoon to take some long-overdue family pictures! My mom takes great pictures, and I love to sit and edit them on my computer. I think we'd make a great pair to go into business together ;) It helps that our subjects are absolutely adorable too... but of course, I'm biased.
I can't wait to put together a Christmas card to send out. I will definitely be using Shutterfly again. We've used them a few times in the passed couple years for our family Christmas cards, and birth announcements for the girls. We will surely go with them again this coming April for the new baby.
Now, I'm not one to typically blog about every offer that comes along, or to do "shout-outs" to certain businesses. But I thought this was one not to pass up, plus I really think my readers (although few in number) would like to hear about this too.
Shutterfly has a special promotion going on for 50 free Christmas cards for bloggers. I love Shutterfly! There are tons of selections to choose from; it always takes me a while to make up my mind. This year, I'm probably going to go with "Family Wall Noir" or "Oh Holy Night"- I like that you can select multiple pictures to show on the card. After our little photo shoot, I have a lot of pictures to choose from! No matter what choice I go with, I always know they'll do a great job, and I won't be disappointed.
Another thing Shutterfly offers that I haven't done yet are desk calendars. I was looking at these earlier and do think they would make great Christmas gifts. Especially for grandparents or for Dustin for his office.
Even if you're just considering sending out photo cards this year, you should go on over and check them out!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Random Ramblings

I've been meaning to update this blog for a while now. I guess I'm not the best at keeping a blog. I don't know why? ...Perhaps it's having two kids, a home to manage, 4 mouths to feed, and being pregnant... I know some moms have much more on their plates than I do, and still manage to keep a blog. It's my desire, yes... hopefully one day.

I didn't come here knowing what I was going to write about, just wanting to write.
I am now 18 weeks pregnant with our third daughter. We are very excited about having 3 little girls ages 3 and under come April! Life will be crazy and busy... but life will be so sweet.
My prayer and heart's desire is for them to grow to be such sweet friends. I feel quite inadequate to be the mother of two daughters, let alone, three! To teach them about the Lord, and train them to be godly women. I have so much to learn myself about being a godly woman... I myself have so many shortcomings and fail over and over again as a wife and mother. How to teach them??? Oh, but the Lord's grace is there. Over every aspect of my life and motherhood. I'm so grateful for Him and trust He will continue to teach me and grow me in the year's to come.

I love this time of year. My favorite time passed a few weeks ago, the peak of fall, but I still love the end of the year... I sit now and I can see leaves blowing all around out the window. A few have come up and hit my back door making some quiet noise. I love it! I love the bare trees, the cool wind, the anticipation of feasting with family, the anticipation of what the Lord will do in the spring.... doing what He is an expert at... making everything new, and bright, and beautiful.
There is just so much anticipation about this time of year. Especially now being pregnant. With the last two I was pregnant in the summer, so it's all new being pregnant over the winter.
A lot of people hate the winter. I usually am one of those people. However, a few months ago God convicted me of complaining about the weather. Truly, if I am to be thankful for all things, if I am one of God's children, if I believe God is sovereign over creation (including the weather), then who I am to complain about it? If I am complaining about the weather, then really I'm just complaining about God's decision.... this thought process goes so much farther than just the weather. But I have a tendency to complain... about lots of things... but I'll complain about the heat, or the cold, or how long it's taking for the cold to go away and the heat to come or vice versa. This year, I've done a lot better. Like right now it's in the 70s here in Knoxville and Thanksgiving is on Thursday. Seriously, a little unbelievable. But I will accept it, and accept this warm weather as long as it holds out. And pray that when the cold of winter comes, the Lord will gently remind me to bite my tongue and be thankful. I pray this mindset will make it's way to many avenues of my life.

This passed fall God has done so much in mine and Dustin's life. In our marriage. In showing us and confirming for us His plan for us. Right now isn't exactly the time to share everything, but I truly cannot wait to pour it all out on this blog. For now, I can say that Dustin is planning/ praying to go to West Africa in March. He and I both went in Dec of 2008, and He has wanted to go again ever since. He and I both have a God-given love and burden for the Muslims in Africa, so I am very excited to see Dustin's desire to go back again coming to pass. We are just praying for the financial aspect of that trip... A definite need.
I just ask that if you pray for us, you would continue to do so, asking the Lord to continue to draw us, and continue to guide us in all the decisions we make for this growing family. Thank you :)

So glad to be back in the blogging world!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Doing Some Weeding

Last weekend I got out somewhat early to beat the heat and pull some weeds in my flower beds. It's interesting because right after doing all the initial work and hard labor in them, I was disciplined about picking every weed the moment I saw it barely shoot up through the mulch. Everyday pretty much, when I would walk past the flower beds I would pull up two or three weeds. After some time went by, I was less disciplined in checking on the weeds. Then out of what seems like nowhere, two weeks ago I looked at the flower beds and there were these huge bushes of weeds! Some as big as my smaller flowers! What had happened? I never really noticed them growing, it seemed just as if overnight they appeared. I know that's not physically possible, but it was caused by my neglect.
The next few days whenever I would walk up to my front door I would notice the weeds, then just shake my head and keep walking. I did not feel like dealing with those weeds. They're so big, and I'm tired, and it would just take too long in the heat. I knew I needed to, I knew in all honesty it would be so irresponsible and such a waste of all the time I spent planting my flowers a couple months ago if I would let the weeds overtake. The longer I let them go, the harder it would be to get them up.
So last Saturday morning after breakfast I got up, got dressed and headed outside... lethargically... complaining... thinking of all the things I could be doing instead of pulling the weeds.... then when I was about halfway done, I realized "ok, this really isn't that bad."
Even though it wasn't exactly what I wanted to be doing, I kind of enjoyed cleaning up the flower beds. And the end result was just great!
As I was working, the Lord showed me how true this scenario is in my own life. Searching out and pulling the weeds in my heart is not fun. It's a pain, and oftentimes I wan to put off dealing with sin. Even though, deep down I know as a child of God I can't put it off for long. Everyday time in the word and prayer is crucial in our walk with God. I need to be constantly examining my heart, allowing to the Lord to point out sin in my life that needs to be put away. It's hard work, but the end result is worth it! Just to sit and meditate on the grace & mercy He shows to His children!
I was reminded of another "garden analogy", something I read a couple years ago called Pruned to Bloom by P. Bunny Wilson. She said,
"Pruning is one of the most important tasks in growing a vineyard. Every year, up to 90% of the vine is cut away. A wise gardener knows that pruning positively affects the quantity and quality of the fruit... We usually find ourselves in one of three places: We have just been pruned, we are growing back from after a pruning, or we are in full bloom."

Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:1-2)

Is the Lord doing any weeding or pruning in your life? Rejoice that "He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." (Phil 1:6)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Haven't been myself these days...

But I think I'm back now.

Since my previous post, the Lord has really been working in my heart and life. Teaching me, drawing me, pruning me. He is so good.
You see, I didn't truly come to know Christ and His saving grace until about 5 years ago. I wasn't raised in a Christian home (although my parents did the best they knew and now, praise God, both of them and my brother are believers). I knew about God and Jesus and we on again/ off again went to church... but we weren't taught GRACE. We didn't know that we could- and should- study the Word for ourselves. We believed "no one could EVER have assurance of salvation" and if you said you knew for a fact that you would go to Heaven when you died, you were either full of pride or a heretic. Our salvation was based upon our own merit. A checklist of good works, church attendance, and "putting God first in our lives". I always would have said we did put God first, but looking back now I truly had no idea what that even meant! Today, even as His child, I continue to fall short of putting Him first in my life!!!

My flesh still has a tendency to fall back to those habits even today. That's where I've been, for a couple months I think. It's not like I just wake up and say to myself, "I'll try to earn my salvation today." Just a few weeks ago, maybe I month or more, I don't really know... I began to feel SO terribly overwhelmed, frustrated, exhausted. As if I was drowning and fighting with all my strength just to keep my head above water. Why?! Over several days time the Lord started revealing to me the source of my frustration and anxiety:
I feel more accepted by God when my house is clean. When it's messy, I feel as if He's frowning on me.
Whenever I open my Bible, it wasn't because I wanted to know Christ. I was checking it off my list of things to do to be accepted by God.
If Gabbi watched more than a certain amount of TV, I felt like a horrible mom which led to feeling less accepted by God.
If Gabbi is having a hard day obeying (which, on another note, she has had a "hard time obeying" for over 2 weeks now), it was because I failed in some way. As if it is all up to us to make her heart obedient. Therefore, feeling less accepted by God.
This all may sound so crazy to anyone else, but they truly are thoughts that I believed in my mind!
I couldn't pray, because after all, I "didn't deserve" to go before the presence of Almighty God. The prayers I did mutter were something like, "LORD, help me!" "Father what's wrong with me?" "Deliver me from whatever this is!" I didn't open my Bible because I felt like He wouldn't speak to me. Opening the Word just made me sick to my stomach. I couldn't worship. I mean, will still went to service, but I felt as if there was this wall above me and the praises I would sing would just hit the wall.

Oh but, "It is for freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery"(Gal 5:1)!

"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing: it is a gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand..." (Eph 2:8-10, emphasis mine)
If my salvation were because of my works, then I would get the glory, not God. The good works a Christian does flows from a heart of gratitude toward God for what has already been done. We work BECAUSE OF our salvation, not FOR our salvation.

Pastor, in his message two Sundays ago on prayer, said something that convicted me so greatly of my self-righteousness. See, I would never have said that I was being self-righteous, because my problem was that I was "just not righteous at all". But Pastor talked about the person who kept falling short and falling short, and was just so torn up over their sin that when they went to pray, they would just have to stop because they "couldn't go before the Lord". "That's me!" I thought. "That's pride and going to God based on your own merit!" Pastor said.
Oooohh... wow. He gave to opposite illustration as well, which I know I've done too. Self-righteousness. I have no merit!!! I am righteous because of Christ and only because of Christ! I'm accepted IN THE BELOVED.
Of course I do not "deserve" to go before God in prayer, I never have deserved to. That's what grace is! Unmerited favor. Bestowing something upon us that we do not deserve. I go before God based on what Christ has done, and because I am Christ's and He is mine.

Being in Romans 8 the passed few weeks has also helped me so much.
"There is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do." Rom 8:1-3
I am free from the law of sin, which wants me to continue to attempt to earn and work for my salvation and acceptance. I can never be good enough. But Christ was and IS.

"For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry 'Abba! Father!" Rom 8:15
An adoption can NEVER be undone. This is why I can have the full assurance that I cannot lose my salvation.
Pastor believes Romans Chapter 8 to be the greatest chapter in all the Bible. It begins with no condemnation and ends with no separation. I can't say I disagree with him yet.

On Sunday morning for the first time in, honestly, I don't even know how long, I felt free to worship. I was going before God in worship not because I deserved to praise Him but because HE deserves my praise! I left Sunday morning, anxious to return to worship and hear the Word being taught Sunday evening. I haven't been excited to go back to Church like that in the same amount of time.

The Lord is so sweet. Reminding me that it's not all about me.
My house is currently a mess, lunch leftovers still remain on the table and a basket of folded laundry is at my feet, not yet having made it to their "homes" in our bedrooms. The rug needs to be vacuumed, the dining area swept for the 3rd time today, and I still need to clean the bathroom before my parents get in tonight. But you know, this overwhelming peace surrounds me. The Lord is smiling at me, He sings over me- loudly (Zeph 3:17). There is no condemnation FOR ME.

I opened my Bible on Monday... because I wanted to sit and know Him more. Know His character, know His love for me.
I started in Ephesians 1. Who I am in Christ.
"...even as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him..." (Eph 1:4)
And this was the note for that verse: God's initiative in redeeming the believer from sin and death was not an arbitrary or whimsical decision but something God had planned all along "in Christ". Since God chose his people in his love, they can take no credit for their salvation. God was determined to have them as his own.
If you are in Christ, coming to God in repentance from your sin, your self righteousness, accepting that you can no longer work to earn your salvation, not coming to Him with your list of "I did these and didn't do those" but only because of Christ's death on the cross that satisfies the wrath of God- the payment of death that YOU (and I) deserve. Trusting that God has fully accepted that sacrifice. Then you are His... and God was DETERMINED to have YOU as His own.

Can I please get a Hallelujah?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

July is almost gone???

Oh my, where does the time go???
It's been a month since I've updated! July has been a busy month for us... obviously.

Beginning with July 4th weekend (which is always busy), to doctors appointments, Catie finally has two top teeth, Gabbi apparently no longer has a gluten allergy, we've traveled, Dustin has had his knee surgery & here we are!

I have been exhausted and overwhelmed much of the time... Hence, my lack of blogging. I've not much to say at the end of the day when all I want to do- and have wanted to do for several hours- is crawl into bed.

I'm praying for next month to be more refreshing, but I'm not sure.
The Lord is good. The Lord is faithful. I need His rest.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

1000 Gifts

Thankfulness... #21-#36

:::days at the lake
:::family time
:::hot summer sun
:::farmer's tans
:::the Lord's gentle discipline
:::Psalm 119:71
:::how the Lord is moving in our church body
:::being back in choir
:::Interfaith clinic- who is going to pay for 90% of Dustin's knee surgery
:::doing yard work
:::flowers :) the Lord is so very creative
:::watching my babies grow
:::the Lord's sovereignty
:::there is no pit so deep, that He is not deeper still (Corrie ten Boom)

holy experience

from Him, through Him, to Him

Chapter Two Nancy Leigh DeMoss: from Him, through Him, to Him

I don't even know where to begin with Chapter Two!!
All I can say is that I had picked it up several times to begin reading it. But between balancing this home and my two girls & husband, I had to set it down each time. The Lord's timing was just perfect though; if I hadn't truly realized that lately, I do now. This week has been trying to say the least. Overwhelming. Gabbi has been testing me tremendously. Dustin and I are in one of those weeks where we're just ill with each other.... mostly from my flesh though, I'm sure. Maybe frustrations with Gabbi are being put on to him? Maybe I am having expectations I shouldn't be? There are other things too, that right now is not the place to share on the internet.
Just a hard week.

Then I picked up the book again, determined to finish it. The Lord spoke directly to me through this chapter. The whole time I was almost laughing at how not coincidental it was. I kept on reading parts out load to Dustin saying "can you believe this???"

Anyway, the verse Nancy was focusing on was from Romans:
Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! "For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?" "Or who has given Him a gift that He might be repaid?" For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

These verses are foundational for us as women. A reference point for our hearts, Nancy says, for us to always go back to. These verses are a reminder of God's sovereignty.
The word "depth" in the Greek is similar to our word "bath"... when reading about the depth of God's riches, wisdom and knowledge we can have a picture of sinking down into a bathtub. Although, God's riches, wisdom and knowledge are much deeper than a bath (we can only take that illustration so far). His ways are beyond our capacity to fathom!! I just love that!!

Nancy says:
In fact, rather than demanding answers to our questions, we should trust that He knows what we need to know- as well as what we don't- and that it is His kindness that withholds from us what would be too grand or painful for us to absorb in our mortal minds...
You will never be able to fully explore what God is doing in your life. You cannot possibly see the end or the outcome, not yet anyway. You cannot fathom the means He has devised to fulfill His holy purposes through You. He doesn't owe you an explanation. He is God, and He is working.

So often I, and I know I'm not the only one, want to know the end product. I say "ok, this hurts, this is hard... what does this mean? what is this going to look like when it's over? what am I going to look like when it's over? God, what are you doing right now??"
But He doesn't owe me an explanation.
Nancy wrote that we are "faced with the opposition of either demanding an answer, or living in submitted trust". Those are the only options.

As I was reading, the conviction was just pouring on. Then Nancy wrote this: resist or resent the situation and circumstances in which you find yourself is ultimately to resent and resist God Himself. From Him are all things.
I have a note written in the margin, the first thing that came to my mind when I read that, "why would I resist or resent the Good Shepherd??"

So how do we respond?
1. A true woman lives a God-centered life.
He is her reason for living! She lives for His glory and pleasure not her own pleasure. How counter-culture is that?
2. A true woman trusts God.
She accepts His will as good even though it may not be what she defines as "good".
He is good and does good. (Ps 119:68)
3. A true woman says "yes, Lord".
Saying yes to the Lord means saying "no" to many other things...
No to... bitterness, self-centeredness, whining, complaining, pining, resenting- resisting- running- from the will of God.

Well, this is Chapter two in a very small nutshell!
Nancy concluded by saying that we can look back years down the road at our currently painful circumstances and say: why did I worry? why did I fret? why didn't I trust the Lord? etc...
I know this is true, I just pray the Lord would make this so real in my life!! Oh, I desire to trust Him. I desire so much to say, "behold me, Your little girl, acceptance with joy!" I can accept things, but not with joy... yet. But He is not finished with me :) Or you!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

1000 Gifts

I stumbled across a blog. It's a breath of fresh air. I've been challenged. 1000 Gifts. I don't have a time frame... it will take me as long as it takes me. I'm praying during this challenge, the Lord will grow in me a constant heart of thankfulness. During the week I'm journaling things that happen, or things the Lord brings to my mind, that I'm thankful for. Thursdays I'll blog them, until I reach a thousand. I'll encourage everyone to join too and see how the Lord uses is it in your life.

And so I begin... #1-#20

I am thankful...

:: for ballerina jumps and pink tutus
:: "mommy, one more hug" before bed
:: reading time
:: a sweet little voice reciting Psalm 23
:: His grace that covers a multitude of sin
:: for being dirty, so He can make me clean
: summertime
:: late night swims @ the Bergman's
:: card games
:: music
:: for God's very Word spoken to me through the Bible.
:: that I can only plant or water, but it's God who does the growing (1 Cor 3:7)
:: that there truly is no formula, no "A + B = C" for this journey... but that our Shepherd shows us the Way
:: re-combing messy, blonde curls after naptime
:: baby feet
::summer thunderstorms
:: the joy it brings to my heart, and the smile it brings to my face when I hear Gabbi singing praise songs to the King
:: ....realizing my Father feels the same way about me... :)
:: knowing that in the Body of Christ, we always have family
:: He will complete the work He started in me (Phil 1:6). He's not through with me yet.

holy experience

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


I had thought I wanted to see the movie When in Rome, so I checked it out on Plugged In's website. They do movie reviews from a Christian standpoint. Sometimes Dustin and I check out the movies we rent or go see on there before doing so, to make sure it's something we want to invest two hours in... and sometimes we don't, but wish we had! Well, we won't be renting it for sure, but the reviewer had some great thoughts that I had to share.

He says:
"...while the film doesn't overemphasize sex, it errs in another way—underemphasizing marriage, or at least its sanctity and sacredness...
Marriage is about so much more than passion, more than risk—more than a lottery ticket where the winners get fairy-tale endings and losers find divorce attorneys. Marriage is about commitment—commitment that holds firm through the fickle vagaries of human emotion. Yes, there's risk involved in it, but marriage should never be analogous to rolling the dice in a game of chance. Rather, it's like building a house: You check the foundation, you build the angles square, you make sure the place will last a lifetime.
That's how the greatest cities in the world worked their way into the history books, you know. Rome wasn't built in a day. Nor was it built on a bet."
Thought that was great and just had to share!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Chapter One Thoughts

In order to learn what it means to be a woman, we must start with the One who made her. Elisabeth Elliot

Wimpy theology makes wimpy women.
John Piper

I still remember when John Piper made that statement for the first time at the conference a year and a half ago. My initial thought was "That is so true! Oh Lord, I don't want to be a wimpy woman!" I still pray that today... for myself and for my daughters. I'm so very thankful for the church my family and I are in. I'm thankful it was the first church the Lord led me to after coming to know Him, when I was a "baby" Christian who was very susceptible to being "carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph 4:14). I'm thankful for a Pastor and Elders who desire truth, and teach the truth of the Word, no matter how hard the truth is, no matter if the truth brings in the crowds or not. I'm thankful for not having been taught wimpy theology.

...Then why do I still feel like I'm a wimpy woman?

In the beginning of the chapter Piper gives several examples of the opposite of a wimpy woman. I want to share one that "hit home" to me the most.

The opposite of a wimpy woman is Gladys Staines who in 1999, after serving with her husband Graham in India for three decades learned that he and their two sons, Phillip (10) and Timothy (6), had been set on fire and burned alive by the very people they had served for thirthy-four years, said, "I have only one message for the people of India. I'm not bitter. Neither am I angry. Let us burn hatred and spread the flame of Christ's love."
The opposite of a wimpy woman is her thirteen-year-old daughter Esther (rightly named) who said, when asked how she felt about her father's murder, "I praise the Lord that He found my father worthy to die for Him." 1

I asked myself what it was these and the five other women he listed had in common. I continued reading and found the answer when Piper said, "Wimpy theology is plagued by woman-centeredness and man-centeredness." It doesn't have the foundation of a "God-centered purpose for all things".

God's ultimate purpose for the universe and for all of history and for your life is to display the glory of Christ in its highest expression, namely, in His dying to make a rebellious people His everlasting and supremely happy bride. Piper

So why am I still a wimpy woman?
Because I am so very "me" centered.
And it has nothing to do with what I'm taught from my Pastor behind the pulpit.
It's just because I'm in this process called sanctification and I can just simply praise the Lord that He is not finished with me. Then I shall turn from my me-centeredness, and turn to Him and pray that this rebellious child will bring Him the glory He is due... through my womanhood and my marriage.

Because I am a woman, I am able to display the glory of Christ in a way that would not be possible had God not created women/ womanhood, in ways that men are not able to (and vice versa). What does this look like in my marriage? Dustin and I are called to display the covenant relationship, the love between Christ and His church (Eph 5:31). Our roles are absolutely different and absolutely essential. Headship, Christ, the Husband. Submission, the Church, the Wife. These are God's design, "so that marriage will display, as in a mirror dimly, something of the glory of the sacrificial love of Christ for His bride and the lavish reverence and admiration of the bride for her husband."

Lavish reverence and admiration...
Do you feel this way about your husband? Do you act this way toward your husband? And I'm not talking about butterflies, kisses, and "oh, he just makes me laugh so much!"
*reverence: honor or respect felt or shown
*to revere: to show devoted deferential honor to; regard as worthy of great honor
*admiration: an object of esteem 2

Embrace this truth: if you are a believing, married woman, you are called by God to display the glory of Christ in the way you relate to your husband.

1. Randy Alcorn "The World Was Not Worthy of Them"
2. definitions from
All other quotes taken from Voices of the True Woman Movement

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

A New Season

Memorial Day kicked off what is pretty much the "official" beginning of summer... not that that means a whole lot here with two little ones. Life pretty much stays the same. Aside from a couple vacations we're hoping to take this year. One will be up to Illinois with some family friends of ours. The other will be to Virginia. We've been wanting to go visit my aunt and uncle in Newport News for a few years now. Dustin has never even been there and we've been married for 3 and a half years! Hopefully near the end of the summer we'll be able to do that. We would also like to go camping at some point. Catie is kind of little but I'm sure mom wouldn't mind working out that problem for us :)

Then there are summer projects...
I'm really looking forward to the opportunity the ladies on the True Woman blog have given me and several other bloggers out there. Nancy Leigh DeMoss came out with a new book called Voices of th True Woman Movement. It's a compilation of several speakers/ authors who each have contributed a chapter in the book. Here's what the back says:
Which voices are you listening to?
In a world with so many contradictory and insistent messages, it's hard to know which ones are right, isn't it?
In recent decades, a powerful chorus has called out to women- urging us to choose the pathway of independence and self-reliance. Slick advertising and packaging have made the world's offer, like forbidden fruit in the Garden, appear to be "good... a delight to the eyes... [and] desired to make one wise."
In October 2008, over six thousand gathered for the first True Woman conference to hear God's Word and to affirm His mission and purpose to their lives. Voices of the True Woman Movement is a collection of messages presented at the conference. As you read, you'll be inspired to listen to the voice of the one who crafted you to uniquely bear His image as a woman.
Discover how a heart tuned to hear God's voice can be transformed to glorify Him and impact those around you for such a time as this.

I was fortunate enough to attend the conference a couple years ago, where I heard all these messages. Then, I was sent this book for free, with the promise to blog my thoughts on each chapter as I go through it. I'm looking forward to reading it, refreshing my mind and spirit on the things these Godly man and women spoke on a couple years ago. Maybe this time, with the Lord's help, these things will sink in! Be looking for my future postings on this book!

My next goal of the summer is to run a 5K. I've been doing the Couch-to-5K training plan. I'm at the end of week 5, which is exciting to be over halfway there! July 3rd is my end date! I'll be "racing" (Ha! Racing. I just want to finish the thing!) in the 26th Annual Pilot Fireball Moonlite Classic 5K. Wow, that's a mouthful! I ran cross country in high school, back in my "fit" days. It's encouraging though to be running again after two babies. I love to run... yes, I'm one of those crazy people who gets some kind of thrill out of pushing my body to its limits, going through intense moments of pain, exhaustion and thirst. I have run for as long as I can remember. My mom always loved running, and my dad was a marine. Running with my dad is one of my favorite memories from when I was young. He always pushed me... so now I have a tendency to push myself. Yes, I'm running again, with a life long goal to run a marathon. I'll keep you posted on that one! ;)

And now here's the thing I'm currently most excited about. My hair is long enough to donate!!! I cut it super short 2 years ago, cutting out the last of my highlights I'd been trying to grow for what seems like years. I've only cut it once since then (even though I probably should have been having it trimmed), with the intentions to grow it out to donate.
Dustin is out of town tonight and won't be home until tomorrow evening. He had to go to nashville for work. I hate when he's not home with us, but I started thinking last night that maybe I could surprise him with something. Then I realized this morning, I'll cut my hair! I don't know how he'll really respond... I'm pretty anxious about that part. He always says he likes my hair both ways- long and short- but we'll see. So I started researching donation organizations this morning. I don't really want to donate to Locks of Love, but was willing to donate to Pantene. I just didn't think my hair was long enough. So I found this smaller non-profit organization called Pink Heart Funds while I was searching for 6" hair donations. Then, realized they just increased the amount they'll accept from 6" to 8"... I was a little bummed. I really want to cut my hair but had convinced myself I will NOT cut all this hair off for nothing. I will only cut it if it's long enough to donate. So out of curiosity, I straightened a section of my hair, then pulled it back, and I have almost TEN inches!!! My hair will be short, pretty short, but I'm excited. I want it short, I want to surprise Dustin, and most importantly I want my hair to go to a "good cause". I'll post pictures later! Hopefully everything will fall into place tomorrow for me to be able to cut it!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Farmer's Marker Finds

The passed month or so I've been more intentional about shopping at a local farmer's market here in town. I'm learning how to cook with less meat, more veggies, and veggies that are in season (this is key... and also takes some getting used to). Here in the states we suffer much from INSTANT gratification. I know, I'm quite guilty. But truly, buying what's in season and locally grown is SO much better for us! Tastes better too. Cheaper? Not necessarily. But cheap food is not honest food (I highly recommend every American watching Food, Inc). I truly believe it all goes back to learning how to wait on the Lord, His timing is perfect... even down to the last strawberry.
This week the market was the biggest I've seen so far. More farmer's showed up and there was so much more of a selection! The passed few weeks there really has only been some radishes, green onions, and different green leaf veggies. Now, I'm not complaining, I do love greens. I've always loved salad and a few weeks ago I put together a really tasty salad made up of the things I found at the market. But this week.... YUM!

I called my mom and told her I "hit the farmer's market jackpot"! We came home with green leaf lettuce, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, baby spinach, strawberries, squash, and sugar snap peas! I am so excited to get cooking this week. We will be eating a lot of salads :) And I'll probably be freezing some strawberries because I still want to go to the fruit and berry patch here in Halls before the season is over.
Then later for dinner I made vegetarian taco salad for the second time. I LOVE this meal. And so does the hubby! I cannot believe I would ever be saying that. Dustin has always been the typical male meat lover. But honestly, I haven't made a meal with meat in the passed week! Even then, I haven't actually bought meat in over a month. We're buying organic meats/ dairy and grass-fed beef now. Which is definitely pricey, but a thousand times healthier. Because of the increase there, we're cutting back on how much of it we buy. Decent trade-off. Dustin is venturing out, willing to try different things, willing do without meat. It's great :) Coming from the girl who was a vegetarian at one point in her life.
Here's the tasty taco salad:
Hubby gave me a funny look when he saw me taking this picture. I assured him, "Baby, if you made something this beautiful that was this tasty, you'd blog about it too!" ;) I can't take the credit for the recipe though. My go-to place for vegetarian and in-season recipes has been Eating
The finished product:
Tomorrow's menu: veggie pizzas.

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Thursday, May 13, 2010

Heavenly Sandpaper

I am in love with an amazing man.
My husband, Dustin, and I have been married for almost 3 and a half years. Looking back to when I said "yes!" I could never have imagined the journey the Lord would have taken us on to this place. Here we are... 5 apartments, 1 house, a beta fish (who knows how he's still alive), 2 cars- one that has passed on, a minivan- oh yes, a minivan, and two beautiful girls, a hundred or so arguments and whole lotta "i love you's" later... we are in it for life. This life.
He is my heavenly sandpaper. I've been thinking a lot this week... well, the passed few weeks... about how I didn't picture this. I am so thankful. So thankful for a man who still points me to Christ. The thing that, truly, honestly, made me love him from the beginning was how he made me desire to be more like our Savior.
It has been hard. Nobody is kidding when they say it isn't a fairy tale. Marriage is NOT a fairy tale and it's for that reason that I loathe romantic comedies, and most "drama" movies. Real life marriage looks nothing like that. If anyone ever makes a movie that truly pictures real life marriage, no one will want to go see it... except for maybe me :)
Even though it has been hard, so much harder than I even imagined, he still makes me want to be more like Christ. The things he does that drive me crazy, or things we disagree about, the Lord chose for me. The Lord had me in mind when He created Dustin, and vice versa. The Lord is using him to refine me, mold me, peel away the layers that are not pleasing to Him.
It's for this reason that I still choose to love him. The reason I love him even more than 3 and a half years ago... I am so thankful I can honestly say that. I'm so thankful the Lord is helping us to press on, and continues to unite us together. I pray so much our marriage pictures the love between Christ and His church.
Be thankful for your heavenly sandpaper. It's for your good and God's glory that he (or she) was chosen for you :)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Our Next Adventure

We're not going to plant our garden until next year, but we're going to go ahead and get a compost started. My grandma is going to come sometime this summer and help me get our flower beds looking nice. So I'll be able to have this compost to add to it this year, then to our garden next year. I'm quite excited about this! Flower beds and a garden are things I've really looked forward to about having our own home.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Laundry Thoughts

I was painfully reminded this evening there is NO such thing as being caught up on laundry. There is, however, a constant state of catching up. If anyone ever tells you they have caught up on their laundry, well, they're lying.
We're going out of town this weekend, and on Tuesday we have family coming in. Then my parents come in next weekend. I really want to be caught up on laundry. Today that was my focus. Pretty much everything got neglected but laundry, and some playtime with the girls between loads. This evening, I marched pridefully up the stairs from the laundry room, carrying our last load of towels as I announced to my husband "ALL our towels are clean!" (This is a rarity in our house. Towels take back seat priority to diapers and clothes.) No sooner do I make this declaration than he comes out of the shower, hanging up his towel and washcloth... *sigh*
However, our laundry IS getting cleared out of the laundry room even now as I type. I'm making a strong effort to be done with everything except the girls' clothes and diapers, which I can finish in the morning before heading out of town. I suppose my steps in making this effort sometimes get ahead of my mind. I had been up here for a good 45 minutes, putting all our clothes in their respective homes (another rarity), then go back down with the intentions of switching the load over. What do I find? The lid to the washer still open, the cycle not even begun... *sigh*
I have nothing left I can do but laugh.
I was discussing with some dear friends last night how in the world to balance everything in my life? My walk with the Lord, my marriage, teaching and instructing my children, being a keeper of my home. I feel like I have a tendency to go to the extreme. If I'm determined to keep my home neat, it seems my walk with the Lord suffers. If I'm determined to be in the Word, my home goes astray. Between feeding, diapering, playing, and disciplining, there doesn't seem to be time for everything.
I do know there is a balance. I do know I am serving my God even as I fold towels and wash dishes. I know He is glorified when I clean my home and am "mommy pony" to my 2 year old. I just always feel like it's never enough.
My prayer is that He will continue to guide me, showing me this balance, that I may teach my daughters and it will not be as agonizing for them. This has been so heavy on my heart today... I want to simplify my life, to be able to hear Him more.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Dancing with Cinderella

Yesterday I had such a sweet moment with my Gabbi. We have been struggling during our mornings. I don't think either one of us are "morning people". I am quite fleshy when I wake up and need much prayer to get through diapers, potty, breakfast, getting dressed... Gabbi too.
So yesterday morning Catie decided to sleep in which left Gabbi and I some much needed one-on-one time. We had our morning devotion from the Jesus Storybook Bible, then went to the couch and sat and talked and prayed. I shared with her how we've been struggling and needed some extra prayer this morning. She sat quietly and listened, it was sweet.
When we were done, she looked up at the bookshelf at a wedding picture of Dustin and I. She asked "Mommy, were you married in that picture?"
"Yes Honey, I was."
"Oh, was Daddy married in that picture?"
"Yes. That is a picture from the day Daddy and I got married."
"Oh, and you had your white dress on??" So observant, my little one :)
"I did. I had a wedding dress on."
"I had a dress on when I got married too!" Silly girl.
"Well, Honey, you're not married. But when you get bigger you will wear a white dress when you get married."
"Oh, when I grow big I will get married and where my own one??" She started to perk up a little. Any occasion to wear a dress makes her happy.
"Yes honey, Lord willing you will."
"Oh, and DADDY WILL DANCE WITH ME?????" Her eyes were so big, and she had such a huge smile on her face, I couldn't help but tear up. Even more exciting than wearing a dress is having Daddy to dance with. I will not tell her that on her wedding day, she'll probably be more excited to dance with her husband than Daddy.... I won't tell him that either ;)

My girl loves to dance and wear dresses. No kidding, every time she puts a dress on she says, "so I can dance?" Then instantly begins to twirl around. Even cuter than this is the fact that for the longest time she believed at the ball Cinderella was dancing with her dad. The idea of a prince had never occurred to her. She has only ever danced with Daddy. I'm sad that I corrected her about the 5th time she told me "Mommy, Cinderella is dancing with her daddy!" Wish I would have just left her with that innocent thought. Whenever we watch it she now asks me, "Can Daddy be the prince when he gets home??" If he's home when we are watching it, he'll always come and dance with her when the ball scene is on. He's such a sweet Daddy.
Our prince :)

Friday, April 30, 2010

On the move!!

Sweet Catie is 8 months old TOMORROW! She started scooting about two weeks ago. Not an official- up on the knees- crawl. But some babies never do that, so I call what she's doing "crawling". She gets exactly where she wants to go... so it's official to me! I can't believe we're at this point already.

Sporting her Thirsties diaper cover & babylegs! Could she be cuter???
I don't think so ;)

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Fruits of our Labor

When Dustin and I first had Gabbi, we didn't know what to expect... naturally.
We knew certain things. We knew first and foremost, we were to train her in the knowledge of the Lord, praying one day she would come to TRUE knowledge of and love for Him. We knew we didn't want her to watch too much TV, or eat too much junk food. We knew we were going to have to one day spank her precious little bottom. We knew we weren't going to send her to public school. We knew she would one day have siblings, and we would have to teach her to share and be mediating disagreements...
But what in the world does all that look like?
Fortunately for us, the Lord doesn't leave us high and dry. He provided us with His word most importantly, but secondarily another book: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp. My recommendation to every mom. The link is a review of the book by Tim Challies and you can find the book on amazon. Anyway, through much prayer and reading, the Lord showed us His heart for discipline.
Our expectation is for our children to obey us, immediately, the first time we give a command. We don't count. We don't do time out. If we give a command, and she fails to obey, she is discipline... with love. We aren't on an power trip. We don't give flippant commands just because we can. And we don't say "because I said so".
Quick obedience is the Lord's desire. Our prayer is that by teaching her to submit to our authority, restraining her will, then submitting to the Lord's authority will come more naturally (I hesitate to say "easy" because obedience to the Lord isn't easy) when she is older.
When Gabbi was not quite one we went to Corryton on a hay ride to get a pumpkin. We were closer to the tractor on the wagon, and I saw a family that was near the back of the wagon. The daughter was maybe 5 or 6. She was sitting on her dad's lap, but when the tractor started moving she wanted to move across to her mom (or aunt, or someone, i'm not sure). She stood up and started to walk across, and I could see that dad was telling her not to although I couldn't hear him. The girl shook her head and was fighting against him as he reached for her arm. Then, she fell. She was a second from falling off the wagon. If the dad hadn't been quick to jump up, grab her arm and pick her up she would have fell off the back of the wagon.
My heart sunk for them. But, through that, God showed me obedience is for their protection. I tell Gabbi every time I discipline her: "Honey, you must obey for your protection. I can't let you go astray!" The image of that family on the hay ride has never left my mind.
I was reminded of it again yesterday. We met Dustin for lunch, and I had the van parked up at the closest spots right along the curb. When we were leaving, Gabbi was walking by herself and I pointed to the van saying "this way". Well, she didnt' see the van, and understood that I was just saying to go in this direction. She jumped off the curb and was running full speed ahead into the parking lot. I didn't see her, but heard Dustin yell "GABBI, STOP!!" just in time to see her running, then stopping instantly, so fast that her feet slipped out from under her and she fell bottom first onto the pavement. Seconds later a car drove by, right where she would have been had she not obeyed. My heart lept and I was in tears, praising her for her obedience and showing her what would have happened. Dustin thinks the person would have seen her in time, I'm not so sure. I choose not think about it though, and only think of the Lord's GREAT mercy. His mercy to teach us biblical discipline, His mercy to enable her to obey at that moment (because trust me, she does not always obey instantly), His mercy to remain faithful even when we are not.

He is a good God.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Learning Thankfulness

The title of this post should really be "Learning thankfulness, selflessness, graciousness, forgiveness...etc" but I don't have the space for that.
This week Dustin is at a conference (Together 4 the Gospel) in Louisville, so we are up here with my mom and dad. I'm staying here in their small two bedroom apartment with a 2year old and 7month old, while all them attend the conference. Yesterday I wasn't even able to be in the apt most of the day as their carpet needed to be replaced. So at 10 in the morning we loaded up in the double stroller off to find an adventure to occupy us until nap time.
It was a terribley exhausting day. Usually I get to call Dustin freely during the day for any "issues" that come up with the kids, or if I get bored, or lonely... or just want to hear his voice :) But not yesterday. I had to wake Catie up from her morning nap and leave, so she was less than pleased with that event. By noon both of them were falling apart. We met up with my sister-in-law, Lauren, for lunch at 12:30. Happy to see her, but never happy to go out anywhere to eat with both of the kids and no Dustin. Everytime we eat out with the kids (even with him there) I feel this pit of dread well up in my stomach. Anyone with toddlers knows what I'm talking about for sure. I felt flustered and distracted and I'm sure the tone in my voice was anything but loving the tenth time I told Gabbi to "turn around and eat your chicken".
I was ready for naptime. But Gabbi wasn't. When we got home and I laid them down, there was definitely protesting. Gabbi goes through spells where she fights naptime. Not so much with words or crying or tantrums anything like that. But she plays to keep herself awake. She gets disciplined for playing or talking loudly or fussing. She knows it's time to sleep. So I was going in there repeatedly for over an hour to adminster discipline. I was worn down to the core and ready to just see my husband. After Gabbi had finally fallen asleep and I was able to doze off for maybe 20 minutes. Dustin had a break from 5-7:30 and we were supposed to meet him for dinner. Well, he called me at 4:30, saying he wasn't sure if there would really be time for me to drive downtown and meet up with them, like we had planned earlier. Longing for adult conversation, and help from my husband for ANY length of time more so, those were the LAST words I wanted to hear. I began crying and was SO frustrated- not with him or anyone in particular, just frustrated. He called back and said if I was able to hurry and get them ready and out the door by 5 then we could make it work. I was packing up diaper bags and rushing around when Gabbi woke up.... followed by more discipline issues that I'm not going to go into right now. There was no way we would be able to make it out the door by 5, and I was even more frustrated. I explained to Gabbi that her disobedience has consequences that affect more than just herself, that we would not be able to go see daddy because her disobedience had delayed us. Well, I confess I was not instructing her in love. I was so exhausted and so upset.
Right before 5 Dustin called me again and said for me to still try and make it. So in a rush I got the girls out the door. On the way to the car Gabbi told me, "Mommy, you said we could not go see Daddy." I was quiet for a minute, thinking (how do I respond to this??), then I responded: "well honey, the Lord is so gracious to us. He gives us good things even when we don't deserve them. Even though we disobey, He still lavishes us with gifts. You were disobedient, but we still get to go see Daddy." Then another thought: "Just like I was disobedient, but we still get to go see Daddy."
This morning was better, my mom stuck around from the conference. But this afternoon, here I sit watching my sweet girl play with sidewalk chalk while the other one is sleeping. Then, a text message from my hubby: "I love you. Thank you for serving so I can come."
Oh how convicted I am that not for a moment had that thought entered my mind. Serving... yet without a servant's heart. All day yesterday I was just in this pity party of how tired I was, how hard this job is, how much I needed some help. I am serving.
I do love this job. I wouldn't trade being a wife & mommy to my precious girls for anything in this world. Even through the hard times when I just want to shove my head under my pillow, cry, and run away from how HARD it truly is... It's sanctification. It's glorious. He never said it would be easy, He has only said I won't do it alone. I'm so thankful He will not allow me to stay in a pity party for any length of time. He is so very good to me.

In His perfect timing I stumbled across this today and it brought tears to my eyes (not many things do):

Let Me Hold You Longer
Karen Kingsbury

Long ago you came to me,
a miracle of firsts,
First smiles and teeth and baby steps
a sunbeam on the burst.
But one day you will move away
and leave to me your past
And I will be left thinking of
a lifetime of your lasts…
The last time that I held a bottle
to your baby lips
The last time that I lifted you
and held you on my hip.
The last night when you woke up crying,
needing to be walked,
When last you crawled up with your blanket
wanting to be rocked.
The last time when you ran to me,
still small enough to hold.
The last time that you said you’d marry
me when you grew old.
Precious, simple moments and
bright flashes from your past-
Would I have held on longer if
I’d known they were your last?
Our last adventure to the park,
your final midday nap,
The last time when you wore your favorite
faded baseball cap.
Your last few hours of kindergarten,
those last few days of first grade,
Your last at bat in Little League,
last colored picture made.
I never said good-bye to all
your yesterdays long passed.
So what about tomorrow-
will I recognize your lasts?
The last time that you catch a frog
in that old backyard pond.
The last time that you run barefoot
across our fresh-cut lawn.
Silly, scattered images
will represent your past.
I keep on taking pictures,
never quite sure of your lasts…
The last time that I comb your hair
or stop a pillow fight.
The last time that I pray with you
and tuck you in at night.
The last time when we cuddle
with a book, just me and you
The last time you jump in our bed
and sleep between us two.
The last piano lesson,
last vacation to the lake.
Your last few weeks of middle school,
last soccer goal you make.
I look ahead and dream of days
that haven’t come to pass.
But as I do, I sometimes miss
today’s sweet, precious lasts…
The last time that I help you with
a math or spelling test.
The last time when I shout that yes,
your room is still a mess.
The last time that you need me for
a ride from here to there.
The last time that you spend the night
with your old tattered bear.
My life keeps moving faster,
stealing precious days that pass,
I want to hold on longer-
want to recognize your lasts…
The last time that you need my help
with details of a dance.
The last time that you ask me for
advice about romance.
The last time that you talk to me
about your hopes and dreams.
The last time that you wear a jersey
for your high school team.
I’ve watched you grow and barely noticed
seasons as they pass.
If I could freeze the hands of time,
I’d hold on to your lasts.
For come some bright fall morning,
you’ll be going far away.
College life will beckon
in a brilliant sort of way.
One last hug, one last good-bye,
one quick and hurried kiss.
One last time to understand
just how much you’ll be missed.
I’ll watch you leave and think how fast
our time together passed.
Let me hold on longer,God,
to every precious last.

It's crazy because just these passed couple weeks I find myself just watching Gabbi. As she eats, or plays, or is talking to me. And I think of her as a baby... how the days when she would be walking and talking seemed so far off, almost unreachable. Now here she is- a running, jumping, dancing, tutu-wearing, princess-playing, song-singing 2 1/2 year but so much older-acting girl. It makes me realize how quickly her life is going to go by, and how soon she'll be gone. Catie too. This poem brought even more conviction with the text from my husband.
So the Lord is teaching me thankfulness... and so much more. For these days that seem so hard but in hind sight, they are just part of the journey. And I love every step of the journey.
So I am going to get off here and play with my daughter as she serves me invisible coffee from a plastic cup smaller than my fist, and a plastic orange in a yellow bowl... my favorite of all snacks.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Welcoming Spring!

Today was the first day the girls were medicine-free! No breathing treaments, no fevers, no tylenol... Of course, after the whole week of Gabbi going crazy during bedtime and staying up for two hours and realizing the albuterol makes her hyper we decided that was it. So we were all better just in time to head to Fountain City Park and welcome spring! The first time we've been out in a week! Here are a few pictures from our day:
**after publishing my post I realized that only half of some of the pictures show up. if you click on the picture it will bring the whole thing up in a new window. don't know why it's doing this? any tips?**

Gabbi's first request was to feed the ducks.
Sweet girl didn't even notice that the ducks really weren't hungry. Not a single duck swam up to us like the usually do. They probably were full since I'm sure every other two-year-old in Knoxville wanted to feed them today too.

I love this. Gabbi's interpretation of "tear it up" is "tear it in half" then throw it in the water.

It's funny how Gabbi has "friends" everywhere. As we were walking up to the playground she asked "am I going to play with my friends?" :) She met this sweet little girl on the tire swing.

I think she is absolutely gorgeous.

So big on the "big girl" swing!

"YOU wanna picture of ME?"

Catie's first time swinging!

My other gorgeous girl showing off her new teeth!

We're so creative.

The only way to end a day like today is with ice cream! We asked Gabbi where she wanted to get ice cream (just to see what she would say) and after thinking for a moment she said "the red house". Smart girl. She's talking about Bruster's, of course!

Don't worry, Catie-bug, you'll get ice cream soon.


Great way to end our week and send our girls off to Nana & Poppy's this weekend in Louisville. I'm going to miss them in this empty house. But Dustin & I have some serious spring cleaning/ renovating to do to this place. If we're super productive, I may post some picture of our work.