Friday, February 29, 2008

Cleaning out the cupboards

Last night for life group, we had a party at one family's house. Besides the usual chili and conversation, we reorganized the kitchen. The mom was afraid to open some cabinets, because it would result in a shower of pots and pans landing on the floor.

It's one of those overwhelming to the point of "let's eat out instead" problems...and hard to figure out where to start. But with five of us each doing a drawer or cabinet or two, it went quickly. We narrowed the six frying pans (including one with no handle) down to three, and discovered she didn't need to buy a 9x13 cake pan--she had several already.

We found some treasures, too--a pair of earrings the mom wore at her wedding, some special artwork by her daughter, and $15.

It was a fun job, and totally rewarding.

I think sometimes we have spiritual "cabinet" jobs--what old and broken things are cluttering the way to us being productive? What treasures are buried and lost? And sometimes it takes a friend or five to help us sort everything out and find a place for everything.

Thanks, Lord, for our awesome life group and for opportunities to serve each other. Help us be the kind of friends that people will know we must be Christians by how we love each other--and not just for our physical cluttered cabinets, but our spiritual and mental ones, too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thankful Thursday

Today I've had this song in my head:
He knows my name
He knows my every thought
He sees each tear that falls
and He hears me when I call.

This week I'm thankful that:
--God not only knows my name, he knows everything about me. This is especially amazing to me, as it's half way through the semester and I'm still working on learning all of my student's names!
--He kept Harmony safe when she wandered out on Saturday...and me safe while my thoughts went wandering outside of my Father's house.
--the power of prayer. I definitely have seen and experienced it this week, both in preparing a message for chapel today and with the person who had the pants in the dryer vision. Glad to know I'm in the heat right now, and God will make everything fit :)
--Harmony starting every prayer with "thanks", even for things that haven't happened yet. So thanks, God, for finishing the test that has to be done by tomorrow morning and the lecture for tomorrow morning that I haven't started.
--next week is spring break!

For more thankfulness or to share yours, please visit Iris. Thanks for hosting--what a wonderful and uplifting meme!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Works for me Wednesday--fast breakfast!

Tuesdays are long days--I have class from 8-11 and lab from 1-4...and somewhere in the middle I need to get grading done and a lecture written for Wednesday. I'm also out of the "getting up early" groove, so between packing the kids' lunches, finding their clothes (both of which I try to do the night before), and getting their breakfast, mine is usually eaten on the way to work.

But I've discovered a fast, healthy, portable breakfast!
--Put piece of bread or english muffin in the toaster
--crack egg in small bowl and scramble; microwave 25 seconds
--Slide egg onto bread (add a piece of cheese if you like) and walk out of door!
voila! A homemade egg McMuffin sandwich in less than 2 minutes!
Calorie count: less than 200, yet has protein to hold me through lunch.

What's you're "works for me Wednesday"? For more ideas, visit Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer

Monday, February 25, 2008

Melodic Mondays--Hold Me, Jesus by Rich Mullins

Well, sometimes my life just don't make sense at all
When the mountains look so big
And my faith just seems so small
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

And I wake up in the night and feel the dark
It's so hot inside my soul
I swear there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Surrender don't come natural to me
I'd rather fight You for something I don't really want
Than to take what You give that I need

And I've beat my head against so many walls
Now I'm falling down, I'm falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn
And Your grace rings out so deep
It makes my resistance seem so thin

I'm singing hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace
You have been King of my glory
Won't You be my Prince of Peace

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Wandering around outside

Yesterday as I was sitting in the car, getting ready to leave for "Learning to Listen", there was a little knock on the car door window. It was Harmony--her little nose was red, and she was crying.

I opened the door and gave her a big hug. She had slept in that morning, and I figured that she woke up, was upset that I left without saying goodbye, and Patrick sent her out to say it.

That wasn't the story.

I brought her inside, and Patrick said, "where did you find her?" Uh...I started putting the pieces together.

Henry woke up when I did this morning, and was very unhappy that I wasn't participating in "stay at home" day. So Patrick proposed that he and Henry make a quick run to the new donut shop about three blocks from our house. So they scurried to get dressed and left, while Harmony continued to sleep and I got ready.

As I was in the laundry room looking for clean underwear (blush--nope, I haven't stayed ahead of the laundry), I heard the door click. We have a common front door with the apartment upstairs, and it's normal for the kids not to close our inner door, so I figured it was one of the upstairs guys closing it. But I didn't hear feet on the staircase. Oh well.

Then as I was getting in the car, I saw a girl down the street, wearing a pink coat. I don't know who lives in that house right now, but there have typically been elementary school aged kids who live there, so I thought nothing of it and made a mental note to double check before backing out.

The story that emerged through Harmony's cries is that she heard Patrick and Henry left, and figured that we all did. She didn't want to be left behind, so she put on her boots, hat, scarf, mittens and coat and went to join them...but they had already pulled out (I needed to leave in 10 minutes, so they had to make it a quick trip instead of walking). She thought she had been left behind, but really I had been in the house the whole time.

I comforted her that we would never leave her alone; if we went somewhere, we would tell her and someone would stay with her. She was so upset I didn't scold her for going outside by herself, but clung tightly to her, thinking about all the bad things that could have happened, and praising God that they didn't.

I think I went wandering out of my Father's house yesterday. And unlike Harmony, I got attacked, and hard.

Lord, keep me in your house, in your word and your truth instead of wandering off on my own.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Just say no...

someone please talk me out of making this cake!

Gooey chocolate will not make me feel better...gooey chocolate will not make me feel better...gooey chocolate puts me farther from my weight loss goal...gooey chocolate will not make me feel better...

Answer shopping

"Mom, can I have a cookie?"
"You may have an apple, some grapes, a banana, or some carrots--they're appetizers. Cookies are dessert, and dessert is after dinner."
"Dad, can I have a cookie?"

That would be answer shopping...luckily they usually do it when we're in earshot of each other, so we know to support the other's decision.

But sometimes I wonder if I "answer shop" with God, too. I'd much rather believe Harmony's request for a baby and my friends who say what you're asking for is fine, rather than my mom's litany of reasons why it's good that I don't have more kids.

Help me not to "answer shop" with you, God. Help me hear and obey your first answer...but it would be nice if you spoke in a clear voice!

The pants in the dryer, part 2

I went to the "Learning to Listen" class today, and stayed for the whole thing...that in itself was victory. I was pretty much a mess the whole time. Sarah from our life group noticed, sought me out and prayed for me at one of the breaks--which was really good.

By the time I got home, I was able to sort out what exactly it *was* about the "pants in the dryer" vision that was upsetting. The answer I came up with was this: without the vision, the miscarriage can be just another part of living in a fallen world. With it, it becomes something God intentionally did.

I have a hard time wrapping my head around that. It's not like we didn't seek after God before getting pregnant, or that we concieved out of wedlock. We have ample resources (especially when you compare on a global scale) to support a larger family. Why our family "fits" better when smaller isn't obvious by any measure.

It is the case that I have learned and grown leaps and bounds though the miscarriage experience. I think what I'm struggling with is understanding if this means we're to be "done" with our family. If that's the case, we should be taking permanent measures against conceiving...but I just can't. Not yet. There are too many words going both directions--that's what makes this hard.

God, I don't understand. Please give me wisdom and understanding.

Friday, February 22, 2008

((Fingers in my ears))

Remember when you were a kid and you didn't want to hear something? It didn't really work, you could still hear what your parent/teacher/used-to-be-best-friend was saying, but you could pretend you didn't hear.

Sometimes I feel that way about my attitude towards God. About a year and a week ago, we were at a church membership class, and one of the women had a vision for me of God taking something in my life that was too big for me, like a pair of pants, and putting it in the dryer and shrinking until it fit right.

I was wearing Patrick's pants that day--I was 8-9 weeks pregnant with twins. It was a week before the first ultra sound when we found out things didn't look good, and a month before I had a D&C.

The person who saw it said she thought it was about our role at church, and didn't think it had to do with our family size. But given that our church says prophecy is never to be applied to marriage or babies (which I'm not sure I agree with--why wouldn't God speak about topics as big as those?) as well as occurances of the year, what else could it be? I'm still really struggling with the "why"...Guess I need to go back to Job. Why not?

Our church is having a "Learning to Listen like Jesus" mini-conference tomorrow, and I think I have my fingers in my ears. I'm MAKING myself go--I'm ready for my spiritual life to be less a willful obedience and something that I desire to do, but right now it's lots of "little engine that could", making myself do the right thing. And in general, it's been fruitful...

Take the fingers out of my ears, Lord, and make me ready to listen to whatever you have for me...even bad news is good when it comes from you.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thankful Thursday--God answers

Now I know that the LORD saves his anointed; he answers him from his holy heaven with the saving power of his right hand. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:6-7

This week I'm thankful that:
--The Lord is trustworthy! He saves us and provides for us and is stronger than an army...even today's armored tanks and rocket missiles.
--The Lord still speaks today. This weekend our church is having a special "workshop" on learning to listen like Jesus. While I was running, I was confessing that I don't want to go, because life is easier if you don't listen and just carry on your merry way. So of course God revealed an entire Sunday School curriculum I'm supposed to write...luckily we won't get to it for a year, but I better get hopping on it!
--That God uses my exercise time as prayer time.
--How God works everything together for his good purposes. Last fall Patrick sensed he should be doing something different with his job, and God has worked it out...not in the timing *I* thought things should happen, but in His good timing.
--God chooses children to speak to and through--both my own kids, and in the Bible.
--I'm able to work with a great group of people--both coworkers and students.

What are you thankful for this week? Visit Iris to share your list and read other people's!

Works for me Wednesday--inaugural edition

I lost my digital camera a couple of years ago between Thanksgiving and Christmas...and I now have no memories of the event. I'm lost without pictures to jog my memory!

So when I got my new camera, I stole a "works for me" idea from my mom. I cut down an address label so that it fits on the top of my camera and added my phone number, so that if it's ever found (by a nice person), it has a chance at being returned. I'd take a picture, but well, it's on my camera!

The label has also been helpful at family gatherings--several of us have similar cameras, and it's easy to figure out which one is mine.

For more Works for Me Wednesdays, visit Shannon at Rocks in My Dryer (and read about her trip with Compassion to Africa while you're at it!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

God, grant me patience...

Tonight at dinner:

Henry: Mom, can I have some juice?
Me: Yes. (gets up from table).
Henry: Mom, can I have some juice? some punch juice?
Me: Yes, Henry. (gets glass out of cabinet)
Henry: Mom, can I PLEASE have some juice?
Me: Yes, Henry. I'm working on it! (Opens fridge)
Henry: (sighs). I don't think I'm ever going to get a drink.
Me: (sighs and pours juice). Patience, please. (I think I was asking for me, not Henry!)
Henry: (guzzles juice) I didn't think I'd EVER get some juice!

This sequence is fairly common in our house...even when I'm NOT doing something at the time of a request, I never seem to be quite fast enough.

Once again, God uses my children to teach me about many times am I bugging Him about what He's already working out?

God, please give me patience, both with my children and with your timing...and send it now :)

Monday, February 18, 2008

In training--chafing

Today I had to stop running early. The shirt I was wearing was rubbing under my arms, and it hurt! I tried putting some Body Glide, but it was too late. Like their web page says, prevention is better than a time I'll put it on first.

I'll also choose a different shirt. Sometimes it's the same way in my spiritual life--what am I choosing to wear? Am I putting on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? Or selfishness, anger, pride, harshness and impatience? The latter definitely chafes.

In the last month, I've been hit hard with pregnancy announcements. Six friends have recently become pregnant--it's been one a week at church for the last month. I thought I was done mourning the miscarriages, but I guess I'm not, because it chafes. But I have a choice: I can celebrate with my friends, or host a pity party. I'm voting for the former--it chafes less.

Lord, help me be clothed in your selections of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. They're much better than my yuckky rags of self centeredness and impatience.

In training--Trust and Obey

Trust and Obey popped into my head as I was running today. I really didn't want to go--it was too cold to run outside, so I was back on the treadmill. I didn't want to, but my training program is ramping up, so I did it anyway. I want to be able to finish the race, so whether I feel like it or not, I do it anyway. I'm trusting that the trainer knows what they're talking about, and if I want to be able to walk the week after the race, I'll follow their directions.

Somedays I wonder if I treat God, the ultimate trainer in my spiritual race, as well as I do someone I've never met. Do I trust Him that He knows what's best for my family? Am I going to obey Him and not covet other people's pregancies? Am I going to turn to God or turn to food when I'm frustrated, angry, or otherwise upset? It's a choice, and it'll determine whether I finish the race well.

Lord, I want to trust and obey You. Show me where I'm not, and help me to do it, even when I don't want to.

Melodic Mondays--Trust and Obey

One of Grandma Holm's favorite songs was Trust and Obey by John Sammis and Daniel Towner in 1887.

When we walk with the Lord in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will, He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows, for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do, where He sends we will go;
Never fear, only trust and obey.

Saturday, February 16, 2008



Shannon at Rocks in my Dryer (I love that title, especially since it's happened to me!) is blogging about her visit to meet her Compassion Child in Uganda. What an amazing experience!

We have a compassion child, Nattapol. He lives in Thailand, and is exactly the same age as Henry--they share a birthday so we can't forget it. It's been a great experience. Henry's placemat is a map of the world, and we often find Thailand on it and pray for him. As he gets older, I'm hoping he'll be a penpal with Nattapol, and we'll be able to make global events seem more real or see them from Nattapol's point of view.

We had a different little boy, from Nicaragua earlier--but he dropped out of the program. I can't help but wonder what happened to him and his family--it was a bit disconcerting when we got the letter.

Sunday, April 13 is Compassion Sunday--an opportunity for your church to talk about Jesus' care for the poor and give people the opportunity to sponsor a child. Check with your pastor--are you observing Compassion Sunday? If not, volunteer to organize it. We did it last year for our church, and it was really easy. They sent packets about children, inserts for the bulletin, and materials to set up a booth. All you need to provide is people to stuff the bulletins and staff the stand!

What a great opportunity to share the love of Jesus in a tangible way!

Friday, February 15, 2008

In training--ask and you shall receive

I'm training for the Indianapolis Mini-Marathon in May--I ran it last year, and it was a great experience, God taught me lots through it.

Last year I "trained" in six weeks total--needless to say, I couldn't walk up stairs for a couple of weeks afterwards. This year I'm planning ahead, and started a 17 week training program after Christmas. I'm not following it to the T, but I am trying to stay somewhat on track (hah! that pun wasn't intentional!) with the distance runs.

It's been cold enough that I've been doing most of my running on a treadmill. While it's good training for speed and pace, it isn't the good prayer time I need. The combination of people around me, Obama and Clinton on CNN, and watching the clock makes for not quality prayer running.

So today I headed outside. The goal: six miles and some good God time. I used gmaps pedometer to come up with a route--it was actually 5.75 miles, but good enough for me today. I need to figure out the "what to wear in 30 degree weather" thing, but did ok--I just need a wind jacket with some ventilation and I'll be good. The coat I had on was too toasty, while my face was cold. Maybe I'll try a hoodie next time.

It takes about 3 miles to get the grumbles out, then the good God time begins. I'm sure I'll have more to say about the spiritual training analogy another day. In about the final mile, God was talking to me about "ask and it shall be given unto you" (Luke 11:9) and "You do not have, because you do not ask God" (James 4:2b). God was pointing out to me the reason I haven't been given some things is because, frankly, I'm afraid to ask for them! I'm afraid of another miscarriage, or having a baby with birth defects (we're old, ya know). I'm afraid of what another child would do to our relationships with our older children and our marriage. Where would we put another child? Would there be enough money? Would we be able to do a good job parenting? Isn't this just me being jealous and self-centered? I don't really buy the "God doesn't give you more than you can handle" saying--I think He DOES give us more than we can handle on our own, so that we're FORCED to turn to Him for help. So I prayed that we'd turn to Him *without* needing a crisis.

God showed me this is really a trust issue--do I really trust Him to provide for my and my family's needs? Do I trust Him to not give us a child if it's outside of His will? The hard thing is reading the signs--do the miscarriages mean "not now" or "not never"? What kind of no is this?

This week I've also had two friends speak the same message to me--one said there's nothing wrong with wanting another child, you're not asking for something outside of God's will. And when I was telling another friend about Harmony's desire for a baby, her comment was that there are much worse reasons to have one, like to keep a marriage together, to have someone love you, etc.

So God, I'm trusting you with our reproductive life. I trust that you'll be with us through whatever is in store for our family.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Thankful Thursday

My heart is full but my list is short and my arms feel empty--this week I'm thankful for:

--new life all around me. Somehow I expected when I had miscarriages, births on the planet would stop, but I'm glad God keeps blessing people with the miracle of babies--four new pregnancies announced/discovered in the last three weeks.

--Having a washer and dryer at my house. A couple of Sundays ago we stopped by the local gas station/laundromat to get a paper and warm up from a long walk. It brought back memories of having to haul our laundry somewhere, and especially now with kids, it made me sooo glad to have our own!

--That God loved us when we were unlovable--what an amazing thing to celebrate this Valentine's Day.

For more Thankful Thursdays, please visit Iris!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Wordless Wednesday--Valentines for the teachers

Henry's (age 5)

Harmony's (age 3):

The note Henry wrote me at school last Thursday:

Top Ten things I love about my kids right now

I think part of my (not as bad as it sounds on my blog) angst is a Peter Pan syndrome...for my kids. This age is just too fun, and I can see the end in sight, and that's sad :( So here's the list of stuff that I love about where they are right now that I don't want to forget:

10. Racing to get dressed in the morning as a motivational technique.
9. Counting before we pray--where did that come from anyway??
8. Playing at the park--underdogs are well loved.
7. Harmony painting and making wonderful creations.
6. Henry building intricate Lego ships.
5. "Mom, play with me!"
4. Enthusiastic greetings when I pick them up from their preschool or meet them at home.
3. Bath time--Harmony likes to make Santa beards with her bubbles.
2. Snuggle time in the morning...usually ended by a round of tickling.
1. Story time. Every night we read too many books, with Harmony on my right side, Henry on my left, the cat on my lap, and the books tettering somewhere. I usually can barely breathe and my feet usually fall asleep, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Melodic Monday--God Watches over His Children at Night

We're still on the John Hirt CD...
Henry really loves track three, Mary had a little lamb (Jesus=Lamb of God), but track 4 is the one that makes me tear up:

God Watches over His Children at Night

She pulls back the covers and slips out of bed
Her baby's cries still ring in her head
it's been almost two years since she's passed away
she misses her more with each passing day
She busies herself with her unending chores
thinking the while that there's got to be more
And then she remembers He'll always be there

God watches over His children at night
Softly and gently He holds them tight
Fears melt away in His glorious light
He promised to those who believe in Him

He enters the room where his father lay still
the passage of time has left him so frail
the man that he knew when he was a young boy
is now just a memory of time filled with joy
he looks at his face and he sees himself there
Would his family love him, would anyone care?
Would hearts be left broken, apologies unspoken?
Would his final hours leave him darkness and cold?

God watches over His children at night
Softly and gently He holds them tight
Fears melt away in His glorious light
He promised to those who believe in him

Now I lay me down and I go to sleep
I pray to God my soul to keep
If I should die before I awake

God watches over His children at night
Softly and gently He holds them tight
Fears melt away in His glorious light
He promised to those who believe in him

She pulls back the covers and slips out of bed
Her baby's cries still ring in her head

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Harmony's prayer tonight

My ulcerative colitis is acting up a bit--not as awful as it could be, but enough to be annoying. So at prayer time tonight, Patrick asked everyone to pray for my tummy. Here is Harmony's prayer:

Make mommy's tummy have a baby in it, and for her to feel good while it's in there.

THIS is why it's hard to hear about newly pregnant people (discovered another one at church today...) While I'm (mostly)fine with our family size, Harmony most definitely isn't. And she's making it known on a more regular basis these days...

Give Harmony her heart's desire, Lord--either change the desires of her heart, or make reality match her desire, in your timing!

Friday, February 8, 2008

I am 36, going on 37...

Remember this Sound of Music song?
You wait, little girl, on an empty stage, For fate to turn the light on
Your life, little girl, is an empty page, That men will want to write on

To write on

You are sixteen going on seventeen Baby, it's time to think
Better beware, be canny and careful Baby, you're on the brink

You are sixteen going on seventeen Fellows will fall in line
Eager young lads and rogues and cads Will offer you food and wine

Totally unprepared are you To face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared are you Of things beyond your ken

You need someone older an wiser telling you what to do
I am seventeen going on eighteen I'll take care of you

I am sixteen going on seventeen I know that I'm naive
Fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet and willingly I believe

I am sixteen going on seventeen Iinocent as a rose
Bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies, What do I know of those

Totally unprepared am I to face a world of men
Timid and shy and scared am I Of things beyond my ken

I need someone older and wiser telling me what to do
You are seventeen going on eighteen I'll depend on you

Alrighty, I'm not sixteen, but I am thirty six. And just like Liesel, I need help with this getting older thing! It's definitely hitting, and I'm feeling it. The other night, Harmony said, "Mommy, what are those lines on your face?" Ugh...

I am not ready to be old. I know, just like Paul, that I must diminish as my kids get older. But I am not ready to be old, ugly and useless...but that's definitely how I feel.

So if you're older and wiser (even if it's 37 going on 38 :)) and have some advice to give, I'd appreciate it. I am completely serious when I say that we're one of the oldest at our church, so there aren't "real life" mentors I'm looking in the bloggy world!

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Persistence in prayer

This is a blog that has been brewing for a while. Sometimes we wonder, "why doesn't God answer my prayers RIGHT NOW? I need him NOW, not later!" While I don't imagine that I have the answer to this question, I do want to share what I've learned.

The story people usually point to is the death of Lazarus in John 11--Jesus could have shown up before Lazarus died, but instead he waited. And John is even good enough to tell you why he waited--so that we may believe (v 15), see God's glory (v 40), and know that God sent Jesus (v 42).

The problem I have with this story is that if you're Lazarus, it's no fun being dead. And to be honest, his sisters probably weren't praying for Lazarus to be raised. Martha had faith that Lazarus would be raised when the ressurection came, but she had given up for the time being. So it's more a story about God's timing vs our timing, than about persistence in prayer.

The story that struck me recently was Jonah. We all know he was in the belly of the whale for three days, but do you know what he was doing down there? Yup, praying. So why didn't God have the whale/fish spit him out immediately?

I've heard some people say that Jonah's heart was so hard that it took him three days to start praying. Somehow I doubt that--I have a feeling he started sending up prayers as soon as he was thrown in the sea. And there is support for that from the grammar--the verb tense of "prayed" in 1:17 is imperfect, which means it was continuous or unfinished....I tend to think of it as continuous!

I think there were a couple of reasons God waited. First, so that Jonah could realize how he got himself in this mess to begin with. Now, not all of our situations are due to our own sin like Jonah's was, but our situations do have a history.

Secondly, I think it helped Jonah realize that his only salvation was God, and that he didn't deserve it. Jonah knew he had done wrong; 2:4 shows that he knew he was banished, and he still looked to the "holy temple."

There are times when I think we think (how's that for convoluted) that we DESERVE something from God, yet in all honesty, we're sinners and deserve nothing. It's kind of like at the end of Jonah--God gave him a vine to shelter him and it made him happy, but he didn't thank God, and was angry when God took it away. I know I'm tempted to give God a list of reasons of why he should give me what I want, but really the only good reason is because God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love (Jonah 4:2). It's not about me; it's all about God.

But wait, there's more! Jonah 2 has two more reasons. Verse 8 says, "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs." Wow. That's convicting. So I guess when I'm waiting on God, I better examine for logs in my eye--is there something I'm putting in front of God in my own life? Is there something God's asked me to do (like giving a message to someone (cough, Ninevah, cough)) that I haven't done? The "worthless idols" is "lying vanities" in the King James--am I being too self absorbed and vain?

The last element in Jonah's prayer is thanksgiving: "But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving, I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD.” I don't think this was Henry and Harmony's "and thank you for this day and for this morning" kind of thanksgiving; rather it was a SACRIFICE of thanksgiving. Really turning your heart over to God and giving him thanks for the circumstance, even when it's ugly and definitely not what we want. It's giving thanks in the hard times, in all circumstances.

So while hanging out in the belly of a whale at the bottom of the sea for three days and nights is not my idea of fun, I do think God uses that time to grow our faith--to show us the bigger picture of our circumstance, to help us realize that God is really our only salvation and there is nothing we can do to deserve his mercy, to give us a chance to clean our junk, and to show us what sacrificial thanksgiving looks like. None of those are "fun" lessons at the time, but discipline shows us that God loves us and cultivates wisdom.

Man, that was a novel! But it was good for me to work through that. Thanks if you made it all the way through ;)

Lord, thank you that you do answer prayer, that you are slow to anger and abounding in love. Thanks for the example of Jonah, and help me to do what you ask of me without having to spend time in a stinky whale belly. Thank you that you discipline your children whom you love, and help us to accept it and grow from it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thankful Thursday--Love and Playmobil Knights and Pirates

Henry is completely obsessed with his Playmobil sets. They have gone to school with him a couple of days this week, as well as to Harmony's dance lesson and pretty much anywhere he goes. I've been a little bit frustrated with him, partially because his favorite aspect is shooting/killing/knocking over the "bad guys". We've been very into non-violence--we talk about how killing breaks God's law, and we don't even want to pretend to do that.

I had a revelation last night--what a great way to teach him about Romans 5:8: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." We are all "bad guys". We all deserve to die. Yet Christ died in OUR place, that we could live, not just now, but with Him, in heaven, for eternity.

Now I just need a chance to play knights with him again!

So this week I'm thankful for:
--Christ dying for me and all the other sinners out there.
--That there is nothing we can do to earn it
--The promise of eternal life, where Christ where wipe every tear away
--The opportunity to teach about God through Henry's favorite playthings
--For little boy's dreams of slaying the dragon and little girl's dreams of dancing at the ball
--That my kids WANT to play with me This verse was one of the ones I've memorized--after using the program for six months, I really can see the fruit of it. I love that you don't move on until you have the verse exactly right, and there are opportunities to review the verses you've learned
--finding our W2 statements--they got misfiled.

Thanks to Iris for hosting this week's Thankful Thursday--complete with a give away! Talk about grace upon grace!

Wordless Wednesday

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Top Ten Tuesdays--Signs it's time to clean house

Matilde hasn't come to clean our house since before Christmas, and I miss her! Patrick is reducing his hours at work, so we're trying to cut back, but this is one place that it might be worth it to not cut the corner!

Top ten signs it's time to clean the house

10. Your bathrooms are inhabited by dinosaurs, lego men, ponies, and other random things that don't belong in the bathroom.
9. Children under the age of 2 require close supervision, for fear of what they'll find to eat off of the floor (pirate heads? Knight swords? Princess shoes? Legos? Old cereal?)
8. There are Christmas presents (and a tree!) still waiting to be put away
7. Countertops? What countertops! They're clutter collectors.
6. The kids are sleeping in their clothes because their favorite jammies have gone AWOL.
5. In case of emergency, the back door is not accessible--it's blocked by baskets of clean laundry (at least they're clean!)
4. Finding clothes to wear means digging through said baskets
3. The cat looks longingly at the litterbox, and informs you there's work to be done
2. "Put it in the trash" is a challenge, since every trash can is overflowing...
1. Go barefoot at your own risk!

Needless to say, I collected and took out the trash, folded all the laundry and cleaned the bathrooms tonight...but the floors still aren't completely safe :) I think vacuuming and decluttering round 10 will be tomorrow's project :)

What's on your top ten list this week?

Monday, February 4, 2008

Melodic Monday--Give you all I've Got by John Hirt

Patrick bought a bunch of CD's from CD Baby before Christmas--mostly lesser known artists, but some really good stuff! This is one of Henry's favorites--it's strange to hear a five year old singing a song about marriage! You can listen to a clip here...and if you like it, you can buy it at (and I didn't get anything for that endorsement!)

Give You All I’ve Got By John Hirt

I’ve been around a lot of women, they seemed to come and go
There were some I cared for but there were some just for show
Then you came into my life with your arms open wide
You were everything I needed and I had to make you mine

I’ll give you all I’ve got to give,
I’ll give you my last breath
Take my hand, let’s walk towards heaven
And make our union His.

It seems like only yesterday that you gave us your first son
The angels all came down from heaven and stood around this little one
They started singing Hallelujah, a sound so sweet and clear
Reach out your hands towards heaven, you’ve got nothing to fear


I though for years I had everything a man could ever want
I had all the money but none of the love
Then you came into my life with your arms open wide
I pray to God that you’ll never leave my side


Sunday, February 3, 2008

How much longer?

...until I can say "congratulations" the first time someone tells me they're pregnant? Yes, my response to someone at church who was wretching because of morning sickness was a sinking sadness....I really am fine with our family size staying at four, but man, another out of left field pregnancy announcement left me with at best shallow response and a hollow feeling.

Enough already! At least I've gotten past having that feeling every day, and being ok with our family being the way it is. But being in the middle of a baby boom is just fodder for not ideal responses from me (at church, there are two people in their third trimester, at least one in the second, and this early one I found out about this morning...). One of these days I'll have a heart-felt, joyful response...but not today :)

Saturday, February 2, 2008

And the winner is....

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2008-02-02 16:16:16 UTC

So the winner is TX Mom! Congrats!