Friday, October 31, 2008

That Kid Cracks Me Up

One morning last week, I had a most unusual conversation with my son. It was early, and I hadn't been out of bed for long. My hair had not yet been brushed; it was still pulled back in a ponytail from the night before and had a few random fallen pieces hanging down. I was standing in the kitchen doing something at the counter, and Jonah was in the family room. I felt him looking at me, he called out, "Mom!"and I turned to him.

Me: "Yes, Jonah?"
J: "Look at your hair."
Me (thinking to myself): "Nice. This should be humbling."
J: You look kinda like a fish."
Me: (stare blankly at him)
J (studying me closely, appearing deep in thought): "No. No. You look like an anteater."

WOW. Never been told that before. He sure has a way....

I was feeling especially good about myself after that comment, as I'm sure any woman would.

But he made it up to me later that morning with another conversation while we were working on a puzzle. He suddenly stopped and asked me if he was going to grow up and be a daddy. I told him he probably would but that he'd need to have a wife first and that he would marry a woman, like daddy married mommy. He said, "I want to marry you too. Like daddy." (I'm thinking, "AAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!") I explained to him that daddy already picked mommy, and he immediately asked if he could marry Gigi (my mom). I told him Papa T already had her, and before I could explain that you can't marry a family member, he asked, "Aunt Joy?" Argh. "No, Jonah. You have to marry a friend from a different family so you can make a new family together." He asked if he would marry one of his little friends he has now. "It's possible." He then looked like he was thinking very hard, and I figured he was thinking of which friend he might marry...and then he said, "Can you hand me that puzzle piece?" He was done with that talk. He found out everything he needed to know about marriage in those 30 seconds. What is really funny to me, though, is that I was telling his Aunt Amy this later that day, and my niece Maggie had asked her the very same questions THAT MORNING! Isn't that ironic? She asked if she could marry Papa T (my dad). So funny how three-year old minds work! To them, what's so weird about marrying a parent or grandparent?

I'm just glad Jonah doesn't hold the anteater look against me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More of Parker

I finally got new batteries for my camera, so hopefully I'll be taking more pictures again! At the bottom of this post are a few pics of Parker from last week. I figured I should do a little update on the little lady.

She is SWEET SWEET SWEET! After a rough start to life (first 6 weeks), she really decided she enjoys life on earth. And we're enjoying her enjoying it. She has a very pleasant temperament almost all of the time, is very smiley, and LOVES interaction with people. She's all about attention! She lights up every time you look at her and say something. She just eats it up when people talk to her. Especially in that silly voice people tend to use when talking to babies. She is easy!

Because of loving people interaction and attention, Parker is loving her brother, and he is being so sweet to her! It's getting so fun watching their bond form. She laughs SO HARD at him, and it's this precious chuckle. She ONLY has laughed at him. We cannot make her laugh no matter what we try. But she'll so crack up at him. It's always when he's doing something completely silly or weird. He's a pretty funny kid when he's not trying to be, and she's picked up on that.

She is on formula completely, eats rice cereal, and has also added green beans, peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes to her list of foods tried. She definitely prefers the orange veggies to the greens. Next up: squash. I wanted to wait a lot longer to start solids, but her pediatrician suggested we do it earlier in order to help with her reflux. She's still on prevacid twice a day...I tried to decrease her dosage, and it didn't go very well. Now I know I should leave those kinds of decisions to people with medical degrees. But we know now to stay on the meds. And as long as she's on them, she's great!

She's changing so makes me really sad. But I love this age. It's such a fun time, and I'm eating it up while I can. I know she won't stay a baby for long.

I have more to blog about in the next few days...a visit to the pumpkin patch, an engagement party I threw for my cousin last night, our church's Halloween block party today, and some funny Jonah conversations. We've had a full week. It's been good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

5 Months Old

This is a little video Joel made real quickly a few nights ago. He and Parker Pie were enjoying some fun daddy-daughter time. She's missing her bow and her skirt, but whatever. She's usually pretty smiley, but she's Miss Serious in this one. And it sooo reminds me of her brother. I never think that! She looks nothing like him...She's ALL me! Our baby pictures look identical, just like Joel's and Jonah's do. But she is trying to be like Jonah here:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Continuing on a Worthy Soapbox...

(At least I think it's worthy)

I wanted to share this post from one of my FAVORITE blogs, 4 Reluctant Entertainers! In the next few months, there will be lots of parties and holiday get-togethers, so I feel like the general public could use some reminders on the importance of RSVPing. Too bad the general public doesn't read my blog.

Now. Sermon over. Promise.

However...speaking of 4 Reluctant Entertainers, you need to check out the author's 10 Commandments of Hospitality!!! Scroll down a ways, and you'll find them on the right sidebar. Such good stuff! Not just for "Marthas" - trust me! It's good teachin' for any of us who want to develop the virtue of hospitality in our lives and bear fruit in this way! As Christ followers, we don't get "out" of hospitality just because we may not be as gifted as some in this area, aren't "a natural," or don't have big, pretty houses and loads of extra cash. We may just have to learn to get more creative. And change our focus and our expectations of ourselves. I find her 10 Commandments very encouraging, and rather than add more, they seem to take the pressure off in a lot of ways. This is something I'm really interested in learning more about and growing in this area. Do you have any good resources for this kind of thing?? Oh, do please share.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh my Goodness! I Caved! Here are 200 things You Never Cared to Know About Me

You'll probably need coffee for this. And to read in installments. In honor of my 200th post, the following is a list of 200 things about me that I know you won't really care about. In no particular order:

1. I've embraced my originality. I don't really feel anymore like I have to be like everyone else.

2. Which is good. Because I'm not like anyone else.

3. My husband and I have been married for five years.

4. A couple years before we dated, I would run into him in random places a few times a year. One of those was at a fitness class I was taking at my university. Joel worked out there still, even though he had already graduated, and one time my professor called me out in front of my entire class for "flirting too much with the guy in the red shirt instead of working out faster." How embarrassing. None of us would have thought I'd end up marrying the guy in the red shirt.

5. And I was not flirting with him. Just talking. If anything, he was flirting with me.

6. I love to sing. Just not in front of anyone else.

7. I had my first child on my 24th birthday.

8. A lot of people felt like they needed to apologize to me for that.

9. I, on the other hand, was quite happy to have sweet Jonah for a birthday present. I have no problem sharing my birthday with him.

10. So far, it has worked out to my advantage, with the gift-receiving and all.

11. I started baby-sitting at a very young age - not even out of elementary school yet. I was sooo drawn to babies and children.

12. I still haven't figured out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. Thankfully, for now that's ok because my "career" (whatever that might be) is on hold for me to stay home with my children. And I love it so much.

13. My dream job is to be a published author.

14. My other dream job is to teach philosophy classes at a college level.

15. And another dream job is to run my own version of a "barn sale" where I thrift-shop for fun antiques and home decor and put some modern twists on it to sell.

16. And yet another dream job would be have something to do with the party-planning or wedding industry. I just don't know what.

17. I don't know that I have any of the skills necessary to do any of the above jobs. (Hence the confusion about what I want to be when I grow up.)

18. Several years ago, however, I did start writing a Bible study. Being pregnant and having babies has put that project on hold, but I'm just starting to write again since Parker Jane's birth.

19. Finding big chunks of concentrated time for writing is hard to come by with little ones, so it's a slow process. But when I finish the study, I might throw a party.

20. If my husband let me, I'd have more kids.

21. I really wish my husband would let me.

22. I'm starting to think it may always be an issue for continually surrender those desires and accept that we may actually be intended to only be a four-person family. I am praying though that God will take away that desire for more and that if our family really is complete, I would feel "done" sometime soon.

23. I feel incredibly blessed to have the two children that I have.

24. Losing a child through miscarriage may be the hardest thing I've ever been through. It surprised me how deep the pain was.

25. I'm glad I can say "was" in that last sentence. Not that it's not there at all, but so much healing occurred last year and I'm so grateful to God for getting me there before I got pregnant again. I might have otherwise missed the completeness of that healing.

26. One large aspect of that healing was learning to forgive those who responded differently than I expected or would have liked.

27. I'm an evenly-divided sanguine/choleric.

28. I've learned to adapt some characteristics of the other temperaments, like planning and scheduling. I have to discipline myself in these areas or else I wouldn't survive. I can't keep track of details in my head.

29. Until recently I thought I knew my love language (see this website if you don't know what I'm talking about). Now I have no idea what mine is. I like them all.

30. Holidays with my family are one of my very favorite things.

31. In our house, Santa brings a certain number of presents for each child based on their age. This year, Jonah will get three presents from Santa. This will not continue forever. It will cap off at five years of age. Santa is good at making special deals with parents. Did you know he'll do whatever you ask him to do?

32. When my husband and I got married, we lived in Dallas. The two places we said we'd never live were either of our hometowns, and by shortly after our third anniversary, we had lived in both.

33. I really have a heart for young women who are new to town, may be struggling with that, and are hungry for some connection.

34. I talk about my brother's kids a lot.

35. I realize it could be annoying to some. But I really don't care. I love those kids!

36. Laundry is my favorite household chore.

37. I really hate all of the other ones.

38. I'd like to learn to sew, but my fear of not being good at it is definitely keeping me from trying.

39. That, and I don't see the purchase of a sewing machine in my near future.

40. I "nannied" for a few families before becoming a mom myself. I learned A LOT.

41. My first nonchildcare-related job was with the Dallas County Republican Party.

42. Which is funny because I'm not sure what my political views are anymore.

43. But it was a fun job! I somehow convinced important people to give me important work even though I really didn't know what I was doing. I thought I'd do something like it for a living, but I eventually nixed that particular career path because it wasn't going anywhere if I wasn't going to move to Austin or D.C. at the time. Joel E. was in the picture at the time, and I knew I didn't want to end our relationship!

44. I'm really glad I didn't end our relationship.

45. Marriage has been hard. People who tell you otherwise are lying. Or really blind.

46. Working through its toughness is/has been my biggest thrill.

47. I really want to own a cute apron.

48. I think I might like cooking more if I had one.

49. I like cooking sometimes. Especially at the start of a season. Currently, I'm all excited about "fall" food...soups, chili, crock pot recipes, etc.

50. I'm currently planning, hosting, or helping to host 5 parties between now and February. And I really enjoy it!

51. I hate running.

52. I happen to find great pleasure in March Madness.

53. I am a fan of the church. (As in...the local church)

54. I hate anti-intellectualism in the church. (As in...the universal church).

55. If I didn't completely believe that the Bible is true and that Jesus is who He says He is, then I'd totally think Christians were crazy. So I get why some people do.

56. But I believe that it's all true, so the only thing that makes sense to me is to try to live like I believe it's true. And like Jesus is worth it all.

57. I really like when people live according to their beliefs, so there's a huge respect I have for people who do that, even if they believe differently than me. I still want to be friends with those people.

58. In the school I attended, there was a spelling bee for grades 5 through 8. All four years, I was my class' representative in the school or district (when we got fancier) spelling bee.

59. I never won.

60. But I still care a great deal about spelling and grammar.

61. It took me a long time to let go of "the rules" and take up the "almost anything goes" blog style of writing. But I'm ok with it now.

62. I don't judge bad spellers out there. We all make mistakes. My spelling and grammar is far from perfect. But it does irk me when people act like it's not important to try to better learn their native language.

63. My biggest pet peeve is when people don't RSVP to a party. There is no excuse. It's rude and selfish. And I have a hard time staying off my soapbox about this one. You should always RSVP!!! What's with not doing it? Especially you Southern girls....didn't y'all's mamas teach you better?

64. I'm a little too preachy sometimes. (Can you tell?)

65. Somehow, I still have some friends. I like them. My relationships with them are one of the most important things to me. LOVE my girlfriend time.

66. I went on a summer long mission trip to England when I was 16, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

67. I hope my kids go on a Teen Missions trip too.

68. One of my closest friendships today came from that trip...A girl from Maine and a girl from Texas just destined to be best friends. It's sooo the movie Beaches. Well, except of course, we're both still alive.

69. I'm a caffeine girl all the way. Love coffee. Love sweet tea. And my newest caffeinated love is diet coke, especially diet cherry coke.

70. Up until about three months ago, I hated diet drinks. With a passion. So weird how that has changed.

71. My Christmas ornaments are one of the material possessions I own that mean the most to me. I like to buy ornaments that represent various experiences and seasons in the life of our family. So there are a lot of sweet stories on my tree.

72. My family and friends make fun of my description of my main Christmas tree. What is its theme, you ask? Why, it's a combination of elegant and whimsical, with touches of sentimentality all throughout.

73. I have no idea why anyone would make fun of that!

74. I really would like for my kids to be funny. I think I find great satisfaction in others finding my son humorous. I sure get a kick out of him, but I love when others notice his quirky funniness too.

75. I feel the best about myself when I've made my husband laugh hard. Out loud. It's hard to do!

76. I'm already starting to think about how good the turkey and ham will taste on Thanksgiving.

77. As a little girl, I was obsessed with weddings. I collected brides magazines, for crying out loud. That's what I collected.

76. I was always obsessed with watching beauty pageants. Whenever Miss America or Miss Texas would be on, I'd have sleepovers with one of my little girl friends, Heather, and we would make our own judges' sheet and try to predict who would win.

77. Sometimes we would act out the pageant with our Barbie Cards. Yes, Barbie Cards. Kinda like Baseball Cards. But not. It seems like Heather, Lacey, Caroline, and I were the only people EVER in the world to collect Barbie cards...but we did. And we loved them dearly.

78. I still have my old Barbie cards.

79. Since I have a little girl now, I think I might use them for decoration in her room one day when she's a little older...maybe decoupage a trunk with them or something? I don't know.

80. I'm really tired of people commenting in stores and random places (either behind my back or to my face) about my baby's feet needing socks. I am her mother. I know when her feet are cold. I can handle it.

81. I might start responding by telling them that I don't appreciate their outfits or hairstyles or something else for which they didn't ask my opinion.

82. I think porch swings are so romantic.

83. Jack Bauer is my favorite TV character ever.

84. If I could pick anyone to be related to (that I am unrelated to), it would be Regis Philbin. Don't you wish he was your uncle or something?

85. I was obsessed with his show when I was yet a child.

86. Which means I was also obsessed with his co-host. I read Kathie Lee's autobiography when I was in the sixth grade!

87. I was weird.

88. I am quite accident-prone. I once sprained an ankle playing hacky-sac. And it was a BAD sprain.

89. I've had several concussions. One happened during a cheerleading stunt gone wrong.

90. Another concussion happened when I got hit in the head with a softball while warming up for an intramural softball game in college.

91. Others happened during childhood...playing wildly on my swingset, walking across my monkey bars and falling, stuff like that.

92. Actually, my family and I think it's possible that I have a dislocated shoulder right now.

93. And I have no idea how it happened. I think it was during my sleep. Who dislocates their shoulder while sleeping?!! Possibly me.

94. Hobby Lobby is my very favorite store.

95. I am very obsessed with coupons and bargain-hunting.

96. Since implementing some new bargain strategies five months ago, I have decreased my spending on groceries by about 35%. You'd be obsessed too.

97. I really want to cut my grocery spending in half, so I'm remaining focused on this saving money thing!

98. When I get the grocery ads in the mail every Tuesday afternoon, I feel a little high.

99. I love cheesecake.

100. And I really love wedding cake.

101. My favorite snow cone flavor is Wedding Cake.

102. I took some cake decorating classes a few years ago.

103. But I was never really good at it.

104. However, I do own lots of cake decorating supplies that sit at the top of one of my cabinets!

105. My roommate in college, Amber, and I actually went wedding-crashing before Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn made it sound cool.

106. We deeply regretted it!

107. But we have good stories.

108. I know firsthand the freedom that comes from forgiving someone who has hurt us badly. Just forgiving and releasing my right to inflict justice in any way took me to a place of peace that I never thought possible.

109. I also know what it feels like to not be forgiven by someone else. And it stinks. For them.

110. I never had a dog growing up.

111. I started this list so many days ago that I don't remember what I typed in the beginning. There could be repeats.

112. I really wish I like running.

113. One of my favorite conversation topics with my cousin when we were growing up was what we were going to name our babies one day.

114. For a large part of my childhood, I thought it would be really cool to name my son Samuel...get this, just because the Hannah in the Bible had a son named Samuel. A pretty cool chica I was.

115. I also liked the names Beverly, Babara, and Claudia for a long time.

116. I helped Lacey with her baby names list, and we came up with all rhyming names. I mean, shouldn't a Lacey have kids named Stacy, Traci, Casey, and Macy? My brilliance is to thank for that.

117. Needless to say, my tastes in baby names changed drastically when I became an adult.

118. I wasn't sure about the name Jonah, but when we found out we were having a boy, my husband called everyone to tell them and referred to the baby as Jonah. So did everyone else, and I felt stuck.

119. I ended up really liking the name Jonah and can't imagine my son being anybody else but Jonah.

120. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is my favorite book.

121. Other countries I have visited are England, Switzerland, and South Korea.

122. The country I most want to visit is Italy.

123. I don't have a desire to learn another language.

124. It would be cool to know another language, just not learn it.

125. I think I might start out homeschooling Jonah.

126. I'll just take it year by year, and we'll decide each year if it's what's best for him that particular year only.

127. But I really don't know for sure that I will home-school at all.

128. My favorite color is purple.

129. My favorite color to wear is black.

130. My favorite color to use in decorating my home is brown.

131. But I like a lot of red in my house too.

132. I always hated Halloween until having kids and seeing them in their sweet costumes.

133. I have not worn a Halloween costume since my senior year of high school.

134. I went to our Halloween dance as an old lady.

135. I disguised myself so well, my friends didn't recognize me. It took a long time for people to figure out who I was.

136. I won a prize for best costume that year.

137. And then I retired from wearing Halloween costumes. I went out on top.

138. And I don't think I would ever attend a grown-up Halloween party that required wearing costumes. Ever.

139. The most special gift I ever received was the pearls that belonged to my grandmother, Nana.

140. I was given them at my high school graduation by my parents. She died the week before, and she had given them to my mom right before she died to give to me. I treasure them.

141. Losing Nana was very hard. She had been the center of our family, and her absence drastically changed our family dynamics, experiences, and relationships.

142. Watching my mom grieve the loss of her mom taught me invaluable lessons on grieving within God's grace.

143. I have the best big brother in the world.

144. For my high school graduation present from him, he took me to New York City for a fun weekend.

145. I've seen one Broadway show, Annie Get Your Gun.

146. But I'd like to see a whole lot more.

147. My husband and I have a goal to see a baseball game in every MLB ballpark.

147. But it's kinda one of those goals we have in theory, because we've never actually made choices to accomplish that goal.

148. We've only been to two.

149. I hope we actually go to more of them.

150. I have a sweet tooth.

151. But I've been cutting back on sweets the last few months. Nothing drastic. Just small changes.

152. It feels good to make these small changes.

153. I also am trying not to snack out of boredom, only for nourishment.

154. This has been hard to change. When the kids are napping, I love to sit down with something to put in my mouth.

155. I like vegetables when they're made sweet by cooking.

156. I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year.

157. I decided to send Easter cards instead.

158. I hope people don't take me off their list when they don't get a card in December because they think I took them off of my list.

159. I love going to the lake in the summertime.

160. I want someone in our family to buy a boat so we can go to the lake in the summertime.

161. I'd kinda like a very very very part-time side job right now.

162. I don't know what that would be.

163. I'm keeping my eyes open for just the right thing though.

164. I send a lot of text messages these days.

165. It kinda makes me feel like a teenager.

166. My hair is grey at the roots.

167. And this began in my early 20s! How ridiculous.

168. I color my hair dark brown, but I'm really bad about keeping it up.

169. I prefer it when it's highlighted blond, but I just can't afford the upkeep. Maybe one day I'll be blondish again.

170. I think the hairdresser relationship is the most precarious of all.

171. I just heard someone say "His arm is broke" and it took everything I had not to say "BROKEN!!His arm is brokEN!!!!"

172. I love breakfast food most of all. I could eat breakfast for every meal.

173. McDonalds food is really growing on me.

174. I'm a great starter...not so great a finisher.

175. This is evidenced by my unfinished scrapbook of Jonah's first year. I never added his birthday party pictures to it at the end.

176. But I like to scrapbook. Really, I do.

177. I also start a bunch of home improvement or decorative projects and then take forever to complete them.

178. I am going to vote for John McCain for president, and it's NOT because I feel like he's just the lesser of two evils.

179. I actually decided early on in the race to vote for him in the primary election.

180. I have my reasons, and I'd be happy to share them with you in person.

181. I do my Christmas shopping year round. I usually am done with it before Thanksgiving.
182. This year will be an exception. I think I've only bought one Christmas gift so far.

183. I like to throw a Christmas party of some kind every year.

184. The only year I didn't was the winter I was pregnant with Jonah.

185. That was due to all of the throwing up.

186. There was A LOT of it that fall and winter.

187. I am an old house kind of girl.

188. If I was to live in a new house, I hope it would be one that looks like an old house somehow.

189. I like to go to Dallas as often as I can to visit girlfriends.

190. And I do most of my shopping there because my town doesn't have a lot of good options.

191. There is never a time when I'm not up for playing a game of spades.

192. I only like about 3 card games.

193. But I really love those three!

194. I love board games a lot too.

195. I come from a game-playing family. My husband did not. This has caused some issues.

196. I also like doing large jigsaw puzzles. Most people are surprised by that.

197. If you're still reading, I know you must have a headache.

198. I'm so sorry. But you did it to yourself really.

199. My hand is hurting from typing.

200. I wonder if we have things in common, and I hope you'll leave me a comment telling me what those things are!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Working On Rearranging My Blogroll.... pay no attention to the messed up lists on the right. I'm going to put everyone's blog link in a different type of list, and I don't know how long it will take. If your name disappears for a while, it's not because I'm not your friend anymore. I still like you. Similarly, if your name appears twice in my lists, it's not because I love you twice as much as everyone else. I'll have it normal just as soon as I can.

UPDATED: Oh no! I have to add to this post now because my very next one will be my 200th post! And I can't let my 200th post be me asking what I am supposed to do for my 200th post! I know some of you people do special things on blog anniversaries, and I missed my 100th, so I thought I would do a special next post. But I have no idea what one does for a 200th post. Will someone who knows things about blogging please tell me what to do?! I'd much appreciate it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life Right Now

It's not that unusual for me to be an inconsistent blogger and I'm not apologizing for it, but I'll explain where I've been the last couple of weeks. Joel was in Africa all last week, and I'm too easily-frightened to announce to the (unknown) internet world when I'm home alone like that. But it was quite a week for me. I learned SO much, and I'm still processing it all this week. Joel went along with our missions pastor at our church to Mombasa, Kenya and taught at a pastors conference where over a hundred pastors from all over Kenya came to learn and get training. It was an incredible time for him...he's still processing through it all and sharing little bits of it here and there, but I think the highlights for him were gaining a first-hand perspective on what life and culture is like in another part of the world like that and seeing their needs, experiencing in a big way real dependence on the Holy Spirit to give him words to say as he taught, and having a significant conversation, in which he shared his faith, with another traveler in the airport who doesn't know Christ. This was his first mission trip to take, and he really loved the experience. It was all good. I knew it would be.

Then why did I dread it so much?!

I'll tell you why. I'm a selfish person who gets easily distracted from choosing to have God's perspective on things. I don't like feeling left out. And I don't like releasing "control" of the care of those I love. Like I have any control whatsoever. What a joke.

So while I said I was happy for him being able to go to Africa and experience this, I only half-meant it. I pretty much had been dreading the week he'd be gone ever since I knew about the trip last spring. I pushed it out of my mind because the truth is, I was really struggling with it all...him being able to go and me not being able to go. And I knew that at some point I'd have to face it and deal with this struggle head-on. And we all know how fun that can be. I needed to really express my emotions to the Lord, seek His perspective, and let go of this resentment inside of me. I just waited and waited to do it until I had to. Never a good plan, by the way. A lot of life gets wasted when you wait to do what God wants. A LOT.

So a few days before he left, I talked for the first time about how I was feeling to my friend Holly. She's one of those friends who speaks truth into your life, and in doing it, she's extremely bold and humble at the same time. I love it! As I was whining about the fact that I wasn't getting to join Joel on his first mission adventure that we began talking a few years ago about doing together...and how left out I felt, she directly said to me, "God has this week for Joel. But He has this week for you too. He has good things planned for you this week that you can only receive as you are at home by yourself and not in Africa. This week is for you too." Such simple truth. And I so needed to hear it. Badly. I realized in an instant that I had started to believe something about God's character that just isn't true. I didn't consciously think I was doing this, but I was living like God had overlooked me. Like He was making me suffer. Like He wasn't sovereign. Or like I just didn't appreciate His sovereign choices. Instead of living like He loved me and ordained specific plans just for me. Beautiful plans. And like He wanted to draw me to Him. And keep my attention for awhile. And teach me things. And I'm so glad I chose that day to seek His perspective on the week. I'm so thankful He redirected my thoughts. I made a decision that I was going to live the week abundantly and every day seek out what He had for me.

And it was an amazing week. A focused week. I need to have more of those. The reading for the week from that book I mentioned, Devotional Classics, was from John Baillie's Book of Prayers, and it was a segment called "Morning Prayers." He wrote different prayers to be prayed at the start of every day for a week, and it was such a good practice for me. Because I reserve my Bible study for later in the day when my kids are sleeping, it is easy to go through half the day or more before ever really focusing my mind on practicing the presence of God and inviting the Holy Spirit in. So having something to do each morning, even short and simple, to help my perspective get there, was very helpful and it's something I need to commit to every week even when John Baillie isn't leading me there! So that is probably one of the reasons why it was such a good week in spite of being so hard. And in having a week where I slowed down, spent more time alone, and made myself deal with my sad feelings, I spent more time at the feet of Jesus than I had in a while. And the Lord sure is sweet to us when we are in that place. He overwhelmed me with His love and totally convinced me that I was never supposed to go to Africa this time and there is a reason why Joel had to go himself. I don't understand all of it, but I'll share what I do know:

You see, I have long had a passion for missions, but it's been put on the shelf for a few years. I'm not talking about missions in general but specific foreign-related opportunities. I've traveled and then I decided I didn't need to do that for a while. I wanted to live that purposefully-missions-oriented right where I am before I go somewhere else to be that way. So I took a "break" for a few years, but in the last couple of years, my desire to go somewhere and make missions a bigger priority in my life has grown tremendously. And I just haven't quite known what to do with that. I mean, we're here. Our life is here. Our work and ministry is here. What God has for us is here. So how do I go there? I don't. So what do I do with that desire that is believed to be God-given? I wait.

It hasn't been a hard wait. I rather like life here, so I haven't felt like it's been empty or anything is missing or wrong. I've just had this underlying feeling that one day there would be a new dimension to our lives, one that includes more of an interest and investment in what's there instead of just here. Whatever that might look like. I have ideas as to what I want that to look like, but I have no reason to believe it's what God has in store for me or my family. So I try not to think about that much. I just definitely feel a big draw towards a lot of things God is doing in other places and I certainly am "itching" to go on some trips!

So, here I am...trying to conclude this post. Been trying for days. But I'm still thinking through a lot of this, so this is all I've got so far. I'm learning a lot about prayer through this experience, learning to trust God to accomplish the desires that He's placed in my heart. And there's been a huge element of learning the freedom that comes with recognizing that GOD is the one who ignites my husband's passion for this...NOT ME....that I don't have to be in Africa with him for him to hear from the Lord on this. Big lesson for me! And I've been reminded that the Lord is big enough to work out all of this without me even knowing a bit of it beforehand. week not being in Africa turned out pretty beautifully. Even for me too.