Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Happy 36th birthday to my brother!!

Now, that that's out of the way, I'll stop talking to him and start talking about him for a few minutes. Very few people who read this blog actually know my brother. Probably because he and I haven't lived in the same town since I was 10 years old, and I'm not sure if any of my childhood friends read this. But that's all right because I'm going to tell y'all about him. I sure hope that you would have guessed he's my older brother after I mentioned his age in the first line, but if you had any questions about that, don't voice it because we may not be able to be friends anymore. =) Speaking of the age difference...though it's a somewhat significant age difference when you're both kids, it is one that has been good. Very good for us. Even during those years of living at home. When I hear people say they're not close to their siblings that are far apart from them in age, I recognize immediately that there are other things that must be at play in their relationship to cause the distance because age alone doesn't do it. I know that from my experience. I do not remember a day of my life when Blake and I weren't close. I think I was born with a close sibling relationship.

Not only is he my big brother, he is The World's Greatest Big Brother. It's a very official title. We were close before I had anything to do with contributing much to the relationship. I'm saying this to say that I can't take credit. What has been special about our relationship has always stemmed from an intentionality on his part to reach into the season of life I was in and invest in me. As a baby, I couldn't reach into his childhood season. As a child, I couldn't reach into his teenage season. And as a teenager, I couldn't reach into his young adulthood season. At those ages, you just lack the maturity to understand much about the seasons ahead of you, and relating to someone that much further ahead seems impossible. But he could reach down. And he did. He made deliberate choices to be involved in my life. He was intentional in stepping out of his world to meet me in mine. He never hesitated to show me affection, spend quality time with me in an effort to develop a relationship with me, talk honestly with me about everything, and really help lead me.

People have asked me before if it felt at times growing up like I had a third parent, and I guess at some point it did, in some ways. Just not how you might think. While there are times when older siblings have some level of authority in the lives of their younger siblings (not just with huge age differences but those times when parents leave the older one to baby-sit, etc.), he never tried to be my parent. Even though he had the wisdom to know what I should do much of the time, he never asserted it in a controlling-ish way. I remember a few nights (when he was a teenager and I was maybe around six years or so) when he'd let me sneak into his room after I was supposed to be in bed and let me instead stay up later with him....he was allowed to watch Cheers and I was not. So I remember watching Cheers with him (having no clue what was going on, of course) and hearing my parents coming, I'd roll off the bed and quickly hide between Blake's bed and wall so they wouldn't know I wasn't in my bed. I'm guessing now that I never had my parents fooled. But I sure thought Blake and I were pretty smart to pull off something like that. I like that I have those memories. I'm glad he didn't tell me to go to bed. I appreciate that he still was my brother even when he could have really bossed me instead. But one of the ways he did seem like a parent was just that I could see him living out what my parents were teaching us. His life so validated the teaching I received. I'm very thankful to have parents who started reading Scripture to me from my very first day of life (no kidding), and I realize what a huge blessing that is. But I also wonder what my perception of the Truth they taught me would have actually been if I had not seen the example of Blake's life, affirming it in such huge ways. He loved God from early on. I wouldn't know when exactly, but for as long as I can remember, I saw him serving God, being committed and passionate in his pursuit of God, and striving for excellency in all those things. Oh, I'm sure he probably got in trouble as a teenager, but those aren't the things I remember. I just don't. I remember that he was authentic. I remember seeing him on his bed in the mornings when he was in high school, reading his Bible before leaving for school. I'm so blessed to have not only witnessed those things in my parents' lives but in my older brother's as well. When I look back at all of the big shaping experiences of my childhood, they involve not just myself, or one parent, or even both parents...but our whole family. Blake played a role in my spiritual development (even after he left home), whether or not he had any clue at the time that that's what he was doing.

The thing is that I think that kind of relationship is rare. I know I'm not the only one blessed with good siblings, but I do think our relationship is unique. And as I think about Blake's birthday, I am reminded to take time to celebrate the originality of our relationship. And to thank God for orchestrating the events in our family's life that helped nurture this kind of relationship. This has all been on my mind a lot lately as I prepare to be a parent in a family of an older brother and younger sister. Many times I have wondered what on earth I can do to help facilitate that same kind of sweetness of relationship between Jonah and Parker. Besides pray. Which I know is of utmost importance. But as I sort through some of this in my head (which is not easy because I'm highly emotional about it), I'm understanding a little better how to pray. My brother wasn't that kind of brother because my parents told him how to be a good brother. I don't want to discount their leadership in it, but they didn't make him do it. It was just who he was. To be intentional with a younger sister means having a selfless heart. That was just his character. Still is. So I'm thinking that if I continue striving to be used by God to impact my children's hearts, He will cultivate in them the qualities that lend themselves to a close sibling relationship. I realize there are no guarantees. I am definitely not saying that if two siblings have selfless and loving hearts, they will automatically be close. I understand there's more involved, and some of that may be where my leadership as a parent comes in...to foster opportunities for more shared experiences between them. But still, I can't guarantee it. It's another one of those parenting goals I just have to lean on the Lord for. I can't make Jonah's and Parker's relationship be what I want it to be. But you can bet that it's one of things I will most desperately ask the Lord to do in my children's lives. Because I understand firsthand the blessing that comes from it.

And the blessing just grows. What may seem like a significant age different when you're young so very quickly becomes insignificant. Now, we're more in the same place. We have children in the same stages of life, and thanks to his good marrying choice, I have a sister-in-law who is every bit the kind of sister I could have wanted. I never missed having a sister growing up, but I missed it when I thought about how great it would be as an adult to have a sister (when I watch my mom and her sisters interact). Who knew that I would end up having that once my brother married?!! I was pleasantly surprised. And while I'm talking about Amy, I'll just go ahead and give an early Happy Birthday! (It's in two days.)

I feel a little silly asking for more from God, but my only hope is that we can all live closer geographically so that my brother and I can have greater opportunity to build on our relationship and grow our friendship more. It's been a long time since I was 10 years old. I'd sure like to be able to meet him for lunch during the day every once in a while and talk about life. I think doing that over the phone is what is kinda hard in a brother-sister relationship as compared to a sister-sister relationship. (Even though we try!) But I'm praying for that kind of opportunity to happen. Just waiting to see if/when God says yes.

Monday, April 28, 2008


Baby Progress, that is. Want to know something fun about my cervix? It's dilated to a three! YAY! Now, I realize that many women stay that dilated for weeks, but I'm excited anyway. My hopes are slightly elevated that this girl might come earlier than expected. At the very least, it's progress. A sign that she WILL come out. I needed that. Up until about two weeks ago, I was convinced she was climbing higher and higher in my chest cavity, trying to go anywhere but the way that leads out. Directionally-challenged people bug me. Oh, I kid. But I wasn't encouraged that she was excited to come out and meet us. And now, I have hope. She's coming! She's really coming! I've seen my doctor a few extra times the last week and a half because of proteinuria, a sign that I might possibly develop preeclampsia. He's just wanted to watch more closely for my blood pressure to go up. It hasn't. I've had no other signs of preeclampsia, but the proteinuria has remained. So I'll have some extra lab work done this week, and the doctor already mentioned the possibility of inducing early, depending on those test results, in order to hopefully avoid danger of my blood pressure rising. While my home (and the nursery) isn't quite where I wanted it to be before baby arrives, I. don't. care. I would be delighted if Parker chose to grace us with her presence tomorrow even. I'm so ready to meet this child.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Nursery Addition

And then sometimes my parenting thoughts are a whole lot more shallow....

I was about to order the Ella chandelier this week for Parker's room, but then I happened upon this Shabby Chic one at Target, which matches her nursery decor a little better, I think. It's very similar to this one and this one at PBK but costs waaaaaay less. Yay for Target. I am excited! Here is what it looks like:
Purchasing this for Parker just made the reality of her existence sink in a little bit more. We are really having a girl! She has a chandelier in her room! Yippee! And watching my husband get excited about hanging it in the nursery just thrills me to death. He's so amazing with Jonah, but I am pretty sure he is going to be a great "girl" dad as well. He may not admit it often, but I can tell he's getting excited about some of this girly stuff. Can't wait to watch his bond with her develop. It will be sweet, I know. And he can't be caught too unprepared for "girl drama" since he is, after all, married to me. He's just going to need a double portion of grace for the double portion of drama. You can all start praying for him now. =)

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts about Mommyhood

Last week was an interesting week. When I returned from the wonderful retreat, I realized there were a number of things that needed to be addressed in how I was being a mother to Jonah. I find it hard to articulate very well, but I talked a little about it to my sister-in-law and then to a couple of friends we had dinner with Saturday night...so it got me thinking and ready to blog about it. I still don't know that I can organize all of the thoughts in my head about it. But here goes my attempt.

I had a little breakdown during Jonah's naptime one afternoon last week. Before getting him down, I endured a pretty bad tantrum from him and really struggled with how to handle it. I knew exactly how to....in theory....but I was not near as calm or constant or patient as I should have been. I believe that the best discipline happens when we separate our emotions from their offenses as much as possible. What I mean is that I don't want to react like my child's sinful choices are wrong because they make mommy sad but rather because they have disobeyed God's standard, black-and-white truth...they have crossed a line. It's not about me and whether or not they please me, but they are expected to obey God because He is holy and always right and He IS truth. Well, I did a poor job of not letting my emotions get in the way that day....frustration and anger being the big ones. Another thing that I think is so important in the discipline process of a young child is in how you bring closure to the incident. More important than the actual consequence of Jonah's action is how I, as his parent, lead him through repentance and restoration afterward. I so want to use all of these discipline opportunities to teach him what repentance is truly about and how that restoration with God after repentance really is a huge blessing. I want to model that for him through my interactions with him after he has done something wrong. I want him to really experience my love and affection when "closing" a time of consequence so that as he grows up, he will have a framework of understanding how God showers us with His unconditional love all the time but we really aren't in positions to see and receive it when sin stands between us and God. I realize there will always be breakdowns in this parallel since of course I am not God! I will never model this perfectly. But it is my goal to parent my children in this way. It is just what God has put on my heart for my children, and I don't doubt that it is how He is leading me.

So that's my goal. But there are so many times when there are gaps between what I want to do and what actually happens. And that is what those days last week were like. There was a huge discrepancy between what I sensed godly, effective training of my child should look like and what actually was happening in our home. The breakdown could be seen in how my child wasn't even responding to my affectionate embrace following his consequence and asking for forgiveness. It broke my heart. I could tell he was angry with me. And I just didn't feel like I was doing this whole "leading him through repentance" thing very well.

And I cried about it. A lot.

That one afternoon, I just lost it and spent a long time crying out in desperation to the Lord. I've said it before and I'll say it again (although I wish I didn't have to keep re-learning this truth I seem to easily forget): Broken really is the best place to be. God is oh so sweet to a broken, contrite heart. And where the Lord took me from there was so amazing.

First, I was convicted of major pride and self-reliance. Some people are scared to death to become parents. I happened to have entered motherhood pretty confident. I was blessed to have been given some relationships and experiences as a nanny that provided great insight into how God's ways work and how other ways don't work, in terms of parenting strategies. I say I was blessed because I really do believe that was a gift from God. I would beg Him during those years before being a mother to use those experiences to teach me and prepare me, and I am full of praise to Him for answering that prayer! I don't want to discount that He really does send wisdom when we're wholeheartedly seeking it. But just like all blessings from God, our human nature can twist them to be something they were never intended to be. And I think the things I've learned about parenting started out as trust in Him but very subtly grew into a major crutch for depending on myself instead. I am just starting to realize how much of myself has been wrapped up in my thoughts on being a godly mother. So it was time for some of that confidence to be stripped away because it had changed from being God-confidence to self-confidence. So the Lord began to strip me of it. And it was not fun.

But it is such a better place to be....to realize I have nothing in myself that can do this mom thing well. I don't have the answers. And while I want to shepherd my child's heart to know and love God, only GOD can actually impress my child's heart with the truth of who He is. Even if I did every single thing right. (Which I don't, of course.) But even if I did, only God has access enough to my child's heart to convict him of right and wrong and to lead him to even want to repent and know Him. So I've been reminded in a huge way that humble prayer is the best I can do for my child. Prayer on behalf of my child's heart. Prayer that God would lead him to understand repentance and want it and that my child would see my love and through it, understand more of God's. Prayer that acknowledges I am not capable of doing any of that myself. That should seem obvious, but if I really lived like that were true, I'd be praying these things a whole lot more! And while it is really scary to stop and think of how little control we have over our children - really NONE on their hearts - it is refreshing to be reminded that God wants my child's heart. He is already after it. He placed Jonah in a home where he'd have parents who desire to teach him the Word. He places things on my heart, specific things, to pray for my child. He is at work in Jonah's life! I am just an assistant! And I'm so blessed to even have that role. I told one friend over the weekend: I really believe God can do so much more with a "Lord, I don't have any clue how to do this. Please do it for me" prayer than He can with a "Lord, here is my plan....help this work out well for my child's life" attitude. So I'm learning to depend on Him again. Instead of what I know. Or what I think I know.

A big part of that "new" dependence is letting Him start the conversations on parenting. Instead of my prayers including me "bringing something to the table" and asking Him to bless it, they should be rooted in response to what He shows me in the Word. For several months now, my friend Kelli has been studying what Scripture says about parenting. Not what anyone else says. But just God's thoughts on it. And she's been telling me for a while how blessed she has been by that study...just looking up every single reference to parenting that she can find. She said she was amazed how much there really is that speaks specifically to it. So after last week's breakdown, I felt inspired by her example and have begun to just dive into what God says about it. Who knows how much I've missed of it?! There are several passages in Deuteronomy that stand out to me as reflections of God's heart for parenting. To share those encouragements in this post would be too much and would make this way longer than it is even now, but I'd love to share some of it soon. You can remind me if I forget. =) While I've been dealing with some of these things with the Lord and He's been tenderly taking me through this "stripping" process, He's been gracious to give me some specific nudges....some practical things that need to change in our home's environment, things having to do with schedule, structure, routine, busyness, quality time, etc. So I'm in a process this week of trying to implement and/or re-implement some new habits in our home...ones that I believe will ultimately assist us in best reflecting God's character in our home and family interactions. But it's going to take some work for this tired, pregnant mama to put these new habits in practice!

Also, I believe God certainly doesn't mind using others to relay their practical advice and wisdom! I'm just wanting to stay so connected to Him that I recognize when people's advice is from Him and when it is not, when I should seek it and ask someone for it and when I should not. So this whole new kind of dependence doesn't mean shutting out every voice. I love that He teaches me through others at times! And through various resources. I just want to be careful not to seek those voices before I seek His.

And I have to say that this new sense of being desperate and lacking has really been "paying off" already! There have been numerous instances in just the last few days where I've seen Jonah's heart completely change directions from a desire to do wrong to a desire to do right, and I had nothing to do with it. Just a quick prayer. Of course, I don't judge parenting success by improved outward behavior. My job is not to get him to act right. Not that I need to look at it from an angle of estimation because that is God's job to test his heart, not mine. Plus, my role is a cooperative one and shouldn't be a controlling one. But still, I'm getting to see some examples of God just doing things in my child's life that aren't in any way a result of what I do or know, and I'm loving it! Much thanks to God for allowing me to catch glimpses of those little miracles and for caring enough about my children to break me and change my perspective from one of self-reliance to reliance on Him. I know I'll need help putting on that perspective daily (and the old one will feel so comfortable), so Lord, help me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I returned yesterday from a great retreat at Pine Cove designed for ministry wives, and I officially feel refreshed! A group of us from my church went together, and it was so fun spending time with those delightful ladies, getting to know them better. Another sweet part of it was that I was able to spend time with my Oklahoma friend Courtney who attended the retreat as well. It was great having her here, and I can so see God working in her life in new and beautiful ways. She fit right into our group....so much so that I forgot that she isn't a staff wife at my church and I was sad the last night when I remembered she'd be going home the next day! The wonderful thing about this retreat was that it fit the definition of a retreat better than any I have ever attended. The leaders were quick to let us know that we were not obligated to attend any part of the retreat we didn't want to. If we wanted to sleep instead of go to the sessions, we were more than welcome. And it took a lot of pressure off! I still attended everything except some of yesterday morning's activities since the three of us in our room decided to sleep in instead. Well worth it! I can't remember the last time I've slept past 9am without being sick. Free counseling sessions were available, as were massage appointments. I spent a chunk of my free time on Monday being counseled and massaged, and it felt great! If only I had both kinds of therapists to follow me around every day! =)

I'm just so thankful that God knew I needed to be there. I had to really trust that when Sunday afternoon came and I had to pack for the trip. I just didn't feel like going. Which isn't like me at all. I tend to LOVE going! Doesn't even matter where! Just going. But staying home sounded good to me this past weekend. I think it was because I felt so drained emotionally which, in turn, made me feel so exhausted physically. Last week was a tough week for me. I chose to blog about the happy part (the shower!) because I just didn't have the time or energy to blog about more than one thing right then, but last Wednesday evening my dad went into the hospital with symptoms similar to those he experienced with his previous heart attacks. (Oh yes...just a couple of hours after posting about James 1 and tests. God's timing is interesting.)Thankfully, his heart appears fine, and he felt better really quickly. Could have been severe dehydration, some kind of upper GI problem, or just "normal" aspects of being diabetic. We didn't get many answers. Unfortunately, he was in the hospital Wednesday through Saturday with only one test performed - a stress test that could have been done in a doctor's office. And the communication from the doctors' end was horrible. Absolutely horrible. So that was a frustrating experience, and I just struggled with him being in the hospital during these days where I had lots going on and was so extremely fatigued, and I felt limited in my ability to spend time with him there. I was just a mess at the end of last week. There were all kinds of emotional battles I had faced. So the timing of this retreat was perfect. Sometimes retreats aren't retreats at all...they're busier than your normal life! This one really met my needs and rejuvenated me in a lot of ways. Not that I'm not physically tired! I'm 34 and a half weeks pregnant, for goodness' sake. But I appreciate the opportunity to step away from my regular daily roles and responsibilities to give some time to some areas in my heart that needed attention from the Lord. He revealed so much of Himself and how adequate He is to meet all of my needs. It was a HUGE blessing. And tons of fun and laughter happened. That's always healing.

Friday, April 11, 2008

My Baby Party

I couldn't resist posting about the baby shower I had last night! My friends Ame, Kate, and Shelly threw the most fabulous party, and so many sweet friends came and blessed us with many things for Parker. CUTE things, might I add. I am just overwhelmed by people's generosity and love, and I so treasure the memory of last night. Following present-opening, the girls prayed over me, Parker, our whole family and upcoming transition, birth experience, and every prayer concern I could possibly have. That time was just so precious to me. Thank you to everyone who was a part of such a special night for me. It's funny that once upon a time, I did not think I wanted a baby shower. I'm weird like that. But so much of the journey I've been on the last year and a half has prepared me in a huge way to want to celebrate the life God is adding to our family! And celebrate big! Thanks, girls, for making it such a fun celebration....I just LOVE having you all share in our joy and excitement and praise. It means so much. I mean that not only for those of you who were at the shower but also to all of you who have prayed and shared interest, excitement, and involvement in this pregnancy journey in some way. You are just lovely.

I don't know how I ended up with girlfriends who are so stinkin' creatively gifted, but all three hostesses are pretty Martha Stewart in their own right. I love having people I can steal ideas from! I just had to show you some pictures of the cute decor and food...there were so many little detailed touches of beauty throughout, and it so warmly communicated love. They did a lot of work! I need to post a picture of this one present that was wrapped to match the tablescape, but I'm waiting to get that. Friend, you know who you are! =)

Notice the "cupcake pops" - beautiful and yummy. And who knew that baby's breath could be so pretty?!! They had vases of it in all different places in the house, and it was simply gorgeous.

(L-R) Shelly, me, Ame, and Kate:

Me and my mommy. Y'all, she spent a great amount of time going through her "hope chest" and presented me with my official baby blanket (the one I came home from the hospital wrapped in), some other blankets, a "hankie cap" which is also sentimental in that I had it as a baby and it is supposed to be used on a girl's wedding day too (so I can pass on to Parker), and the bracelet and ring I wore as a baby. So many sweet sentimental things! I never imagined having a daughter, so it hadn't crossed my mind that there might be things that were mine as a baby that would be neat to pass on to my own daughter. Good thing I have a mom to think of these things! I'm loving the thought of all of it.

On this picture above the table where the punch was being served, they hung these ribbons with her pearly initials. They are now hanging pretty on the bulletin board in Parker's room, which I have not yet hung on the wall, of course. Really, next week. I'm working on the nursery next week!

All the goodies. Minus a lovely lamp that didn't make it into the picture. Um, do you think she has enough clothes?!! My goodness, this girl's mama needs to get more of a life, or we won't have enough places to go for her to wear all of these! What a blessing. We just had tons of needs met last night in regards to baby items.

My mom mentioned it in a prayer last night, and it's been running through my head ever since: "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights..." James 1:17. Thanks, God, for all of these gifts and for using these sweet friends and family to deliver them for you!

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Some mornings you just wake up a mess. You start out the day with your emotions getting the best of you, and you struggle to even know why you're feeling the way you do. That was how this morning began for me. Hormones were high! I hadn't even gotten out of bed yet, and there had been no time for anything to go wrong. I just knew I was messed up today and couldn't fix it myself. Jonah had spent the night with my parents last night, so I was able to have a couple hours this morning to myself before going to pick him up. And while I had lofty goals of folding the giant laundry mountain on my living room floor and ironing some clothes, I realized right away that time in the Word wasn't going to be able to wait until the usual afternoon time (Jonah's nap) that's set aside for it. I might have killed someone by then. =)

And what a wonderful time it was with the Lord. I decided to take a look at part of the passage we studied in our Bible study class on Sunday morning. The class started going through the book of James, and I spent some time this morning thinking about several particular verses:

James 1:2-4 - "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."

That passage. The one that sounds all nice and pretty until the moment you find yourself in the middle of a trial! I confess that I have before resented the truth of Scriptures such as these. The last thing I wanted to do was embrace the challenge of "counting it joy." But this is something that I'm learning to do. Still learning. Still have a lot to learn. But very grateful for what has been learned too. It's always good for me to review God's truths about trials, suffering, etc., and doing that today was time well spent.

Jim, the man teaching our class, asked us on Sunday if we ever really know anything that has not been tested. We talked about how all of the things that we confidently claim to know have gone through some sort of testing process. So the testing James is talking about in verse three is really what God gives so that we can know what our faith really is made of. Peter says the same kind of thing in 1 Peter 1:6-7. But there's more: knowing our faith can stand the test will help us in living steadfastly, it says. What do I know about my faith? Inevitably, answering that question involves a looking back to past trials in my life, a remembrance of lessons learned from them. Do I celebrate those? How do I handle them? Maybe when I'm in a trial (and not just after it's done), the question I should be asking is, "What do I know about my faith?" or better said "God, what are you wanting to prove to me?" By all means, we should be inviting Him to prove it to us! It's the only path towards completeness.

Isn't completeness what we long for? We want all of the pieces in the puzzle. It gets so old...feeling like we're lacking. But lacking is the nature of our existence on earth. God does have another way though. And its reached through steadfastness, which comes from the knowledge of having my faith tested. Why do I overlook His way?! His ways are always good.

What does it mean to be steadfast? In the Greek text, the word "hupomone" is used here and refers to endurance and constancy. But many scholars who are familiar with the Greek language say that its definition is so much broader than what our English language can describe. I found that it means that one is making a persistent effort in enduring, "actively straining against some pressure" (the pressure of trials, that is), says Spiros Zodhiates. William Barclay wrote that hupomone is "the virtue which can transmute the hardest trial into glory because beyond the pain it sees the goal."

A new question I'm learning to ask when looking at Scripture is this: If a passage is talking about a virtue that should be developed in my life, where do I see that virtue expressed in the person and character of God? Holiness always originates in the heart of God, so it's important to look there. Without Him being holy, I couldn't be, nor would I even want to be. And as I pause to consider that, I see God's "hupomone" all over the place! The way He's endured man's sinfulness rather than obliterate our existence reveals some major steadfastness! But in many other ways, I see His unconditional love and grace that He so kindly offers me on a daily basis, and it shows that He's serious about His character being constant. How amazing He is.

And then I remember the part about joy. It struck me in class on Sunday how much trials are opportunities to have joy produced in my life. Joy in trials. What is joy about? Why does it matter so much to God? I think it has little to do with me. Sometimes it comforts me. Definitely. But sometimes it doesn't. I don't think God designed it just to be about me and my comfort and enjoyment anyway. The end goal of all He does is His own glory. I'm just realizing that I often look for joy and strive to cultivate it mainly because it makes me feel better about a situation. It's unbelievable how we can take some of God's sweetest gifts and in our humanity twist them into something they weren't intended to be: about us. Now, I appreciate the comfort God gives. He is so kind to allow us to experience peace and joy and compassion when we are going through a trial. I, for one, am tremendously grateful for how He has done that in my own life! I don't want to discount that amazing part of His nature. I'm just talking about motives. Do I strive to be joyful because I want Him represented well? Because I want His name known to more people? Because I want His glory shining through my life in such a compelling way that others want to know more of Him? I know that ultimately that's what joy is really about. That's where I want Him to take me. The place He says in Isaiah 61:3 that He wants to take us - "to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified."

Monday, April 7, 2008


Well, the weekend was good. Garage sale went well. We had it on Saturday, and we ended it early afternoon. I don't know how some of you do it for two or three days! Those six hours wore me out! But I'm thankful for the little bit of money we made. Don't get me started on PEOPLE WHO STEAL. They make me mad.

Saturday evening, we went to my friend Shelly's husband's 30th birthday party. Shelly always throws a great party. I ate so much! Our mutual friends Chandra and Rusty came with their new baby girl, and it was so fun to see Chandra for a little bit! We were friends with them in Oklahoma and haven't seen each other in a year. Baby Lillian is precious! Really a sweet baby. I am kicking myself for not taking pictures. I'll make up for it when Chandra comes back next month, when Shelly has her baby. Last night we had our community group over for a cookout...it was a great time. I just love this time of year when it's warm and you can use the outdoors in entertaining. The men grilled in the backyard with the kids (except for the two sweet little babies) while the women mostly sat inside and talked...it was a great set-up for us! Really nice. =) I look forward to getting to know those ladies better. It is a fun group. I'm spending today getting items ready for the big consignment sale this week. Lots of work to do, but hopefully it will be worth it on Wednesday night when I go shopping there!

I feel like I was a poor blogger last week. My two posts dealt solely with physical pregnancy issues. And while that has been a big part of the last week, it seems a little deceiving to write only about that when there has been so much more going on. God has been showing me a lot this week....almost too much to attempt to process in words. And sometimes when He does that...when He touches your life and relationships in a such a real, personal way...you just don't know where to even begin to try to explain. And some things you just can't explain. Some of them are meant to stay personal anyway. And today, I'm choosing to accept that. I accept that I don't owe anyone details. And while it feels weird to only talk about surface things when there has been so much more, I'm realizing that it isn't inauthentic at all. Some things are just reserved as a part of my journey with the Lord. And I'm ok with that.

The reason I'm even mentioning it at all? Because God absolutely deserves my praise. I just can't get over what He's done for my heart and faith this week. For the last week, my husband and I have been really intentional about our marriage. Really focusing on improving in some areas. And it has been such a good process! One that has just amazed me. I can't say it's all been easy. But it's been so good. Our sermon series at church right now is about intimacy in relationships, and it's been very timely for us. We've realized that you can spend so much time with each other, share so much physical space, and still not be very close. And it's easy to get in a rut and just be roommates with your spouse instead of having a really intimate relationship. Intimacy is something you fight for. So we've been busy fighting for it! It's involved lots of quality time and open communication. Vulnerability. Humility, forgiveness, love, restoration. Enjoyment of each other. Intentionality in knowing one another. It's just been one intense week of doing all the things that help get you out of the rut. And it's been wonderful. Some of the communication is stuff that we are just learning to do for the first time! We feel a little like newlyweds in some ways! But this was so needed. And I'm very thankful for it. I'm thankful for a husband who cares about our relationship and wants to put effort into improving it. He's made me feel loved by that. But I'm really thankful for a God who is in the business of doing little miracles for us. A common prayer of mine is to see God's power at work around me. I envision how good that kind of life would be. A life where God's power is constantly visible in the lives around me....where I see Him change people. Where my children see that. Where our family is continually connected to life-changing situations and the people who are a part of them. But I can be so dumb....sometimes I just look for it in others' lives and I forget to acknowledge the sweet gifts of His power in my own life. I miss the little miracles He does. I'm so glad He LOVES to restore and breathe new life into relationships. He loves it. And it is beyond me how and why He sometimes answers prayers for it way after we gave up on our requests. The mercy of God in those situations just astounds me. So, the Lord caught my attention in a new way this week. And as I sat in church yesterday, a line from one of my favorite worship songs hit me in a whole new way, in light of these sweet things God has done for me and my marriage this week:

"Savior. He can move the mountains. My God is Mighty to Save..."

Just remembering who He is and how that qualifies Him to do marvelous things beyond my expectations or comprehension motivates me all the more to ask Him for the things He places on my heart. He is a God who can move mountains. How often do I sing that like I really believe it? My delight in Him doing that for me this week has contained some surprise, to be honest, that ultimately revealed an apparent lack of belief and faith on my part. I want to believe Him for so much more!

And as I contemplated this while we sang "Mighty to Save," a verse came to mind. One my friend Kelli has encouraged me with before about many things....Its words are sweet: "Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you." - Jeremiah 32:17. Nothing!

Thursday, April 3, 2008

More Weird Pregnancy Stuff

I went to the doctor again today. I haven't felt great the last couple of days and just needed reassurance that things were ok with Parker. On Tuesday night, I noticed a little bump protruding from the bottom of my sternum...just felt like a knot. I know, one more weird thing. And it was painful to touch. I woke up the next morning feeling soreness around that area, more extreme pain at times, and real shortness of breath. I know difficulty breathing is a typical pregnancy symptom (I didn't really experience it when pregnant with Jonah because I carried him so low), but it alarmed me that it began at the same time that chest pain began. Anytime I bend down (even the slightest) and raise back up, I feel pressure in my chest.

So I went to the doctor and it turns out that the kind of people who bruise their uterus are the same kind who sprain their xiphoid process. Yep, that's weird ol me. I have a sprained xiphoid process. Not only that, but I learned that mine is longer and more pronounced than the average person's, so it explains how this injury occurred...by my uterus being thrust into my long, protruding xiphoid process. And why it hurts when I barely bend over, or just when my posture is bad and I slump forward. It's extra inflamed. But I'll handle it - just grateful that there's no harm to the baby! And grateful for the peace of mind that came from going ahead to the doctor to get it checked out.

We had a few good laughs with Dr. Fanning though. First, Joel was describing to him what the knot felt like, since he had been the one who had felt and pushed around on it more. (When I first discovered it, I made him touch it and tell me if it felt normal or not. It freaked me out to touch myself.) Joel's description included a reference to what gristle on a steak feels like. Dr. Fanning just looked at me and said, "That's nice!" to which I added, "Yes, just how every woman wants her husband to describe her chest!" Wouldn't you agree? So, we were a little giggly at that point. We found it interesting that Joel was born without a xiphoid process (interesting, huh?!) and I have a freakishly large one to compensate for the one he lacks. Dr. Fanning found it really funny....that our kids now have a chance for a normal xiphoid process. And Joel and I are in disagreement about which of our abnormalities is stranger. I have a feeling he will be making fun of my large, pronounced xiphoid process for the rest of our lives.

Need to go get ready for a Girls Night Out tonight - can't wait for some uninterrupted, grown-up conversation!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

This is Ridiculous

Ok, who bruises their uterus??!!!

Apparently, I do.

The doctor yesterday said the area where my stomach pain is occurring does not feel like a hernia and he thinks the top of my uterus is bruised from being pushed up against my rib cage and it probably happened doing something strenuous. And I think that's just the weirdest thing I've ever heard. I'm sure it's more common than I think, but I have never heard of that. I feel like such a weirdo. I mean, really though....how does that happen?!

But if that isn't weird enough, read what advice I found online in helping to cope with it:

"Gently pushing the baby off this spot with your hand at times can give you temporary relief." (HA! Like that's possible! If we could get our babies to move positions from how we push on them from the outside, then no one would have to worry about babies being in breeched positions and all that, right?! Parker doesn't go anywhere if she doesn't want to.)

"Pelvic rocking (similar to belly dancing) on the hands and knees can move the baby's back more around to the front of the mother's belly, and possibly off the 'bruised spot'."
(Ok, seriously?!!!! Like I would ever consider belly dancing on all fours! How weird would that be! And what on earth would my husband think if he walked in on this "pelvic rocking"? I'd hate to have to explain that one.)

Anyway, the doctor's update was good. Parker's heart rate was considerably lower than it's ever been. Not scary low. Hers has just always been really high. Not this time. I didn't just love that. But she's still really active, so there's no need to be concerned about that if she's moving around so much. I can't believe we're getting so close to her arrival. Seven-ish weeks to go. I need to get in gear and get some stuff ready. We're having a cookout at our house this weekend with our community group, so it will take me all week to get my house cleaned...that's how slow I am right now. Oh yes, and I'm getting ready for a garage sale this week too. So, her nursery is once again on the back burner for this week. One thing I'd like to do this week is find some ribbon with which to hang her name letters on the wall. But that's all for this week. Man, at this pace, her nursery should be ready by the time she's outgrowing it.