Friday, May 25, 2007

Asking for help.


It's really hard for me to ask for help. Even when I desperately need it I find it challenging to tell people that I need them. There have been times that I've been rejected or burned by people who I had asked help from and it's made me hesitant to ask again. I'm growing though! I've started asking for help... and I'm so glad that I have.

On the retreat I asked several people for help with the kids. If they could watch them while I made lunch or if they could feed Samuel while I was doing something else. It's really stretching for me to ask complete "strangers" for help... and I'm glad I did.

I'm realizing if we are to be the body of Christ that we need to ask each other for help. We are all created and gifted in various ways and those ways work and move together. Isn't that amazing?!

On Monday I asked a couple from Westminster for help...could they possibly watch our kids sometime? And they said yes. Thursday night Mike and I went on an awesome date because they helped us!

Do you guys ever have crazy date nights... ours started out a little rough. There was a lack of communication hours prior to our date which had created some frustration. I wasn't helping Mike (which I should have been) but he hadn't communicated his need for help and I assumed he was okay. The great thing about it was that we talked it through at the beginning of our date and what could have been potentially disastrous (meaning having crappy attitudes and hence a crappy date) didn't occur because we talked about it. He was gracious and forgiving of me for not helping and also realized his need to communicate his need. I forgave him for getting angry. We then were able to move onto other conversations... and it ended up being a really meaningful and special night.

I have a hard time expressing my needs. Sometimes out of shame, fear or pride. Sometimes because I honest to goodness don't know what will help. Mike often asks me, "What would help?" and I'm just blank with answers. Sometimes I know how to answer him, "Can I just get out & go to Starbucks or Barnes & Noble or Panera and just sit and read a book, or run errands or whatever."

I think that we would all benefit from learning to ask each other for help. I remember after my sister died people asking me, "What can I do to help you?" or saying "Let me know if there's anything I can do." At the time, I had no idea what I needed, I found the task of breathing almost more than I could handle. Later I did realize what would be helpful but was too afraid to ask. I was afraid that either I was asking too much of others or that I was too late, that my "grace coupon" had expired. It felt like I could have asked for help right after she died but 3 months, 6 months, a year or even 3 years later was just too late. I also wasn't sure what people meant when they said, "If you need anything."

I'm learning to specifically tell others how I need help. Now, I can & need to say, "What would really help is if you watch my kids for us. We really need some alone time." or maybe "What would help is if someone could help me organize the house. I'm really struggling to get things in order." Or "Would you just keep asking me about this specific area... I need help and to be reminded/held accountable about this."

This may sound silly but I remember people offering to go to the grocery store (after Libby died) for me and it would put me in a panic because I didn't know what that meant. Did that mean they wanted to buy my groceries? Did it mean that they were going to hand me a receipt and I would write them a check? Did it mean they would pay for part of it? Mike stopped working after Libby (my sister) died and I was working at Starbucks. We didn't have much money. It overwhelmed me to think of what I would "owe" people. If I wasn't in the grocery store I wouldn't be able to add up the costs and I wouldn't be able to buy the cheapest brands. So I just told people no. Yeah, I desperately wanted help that way, but I knew things were so financially bad and was afraid of what the total would be and if we could pay it. It's best if you want to help someone financially, such as purchasing groceries, to be CLEAR. You could say, "Hey, I have $50 (or whatever amount) and would like to get you some groceries... or even better is asking the question, "What do you really need... groceries, diapers, etc., because I would really like to get something for you." If you want to do an errand for someone tell them simply that, We don't have the funds to _________ for you but I have the time to run the errands(grocery shop, etc.) for you." Or even be blatant, "I'd love to run groceries for you if you could write me a check..." That way the person knows where they stand with you. Maybe not everyone needs that, we were just strapped and the financial issue was huge for us. I felt embarassed and ashamed of our situation and yet unable to ask for clarity of what the person was offeringf. Maybe people don't have these problems. Maybe it was just me and my situation but I think when you are specific and clear with people about what you're willing and able to do it frees them up to be honest with you.

I'm also willing to tell others specifically what I could do to help them. It's good to express what you can do and give people options for help. Cleaning. Organizing. Doing errands for them. One thing that helped me after Libby died was a friend who made a half dozen returns for me. I had some items of my sisters to return and stuff of mine. She returned and got store credit for those items. My mom is really good about asking me about what kind of clothes the kids need or buying clothes with me for them. My in-laws saved the day time and time again by picking up groceries for us at Sam's & Costco's. They've been extremely generous helping us out with diapers & wipes for the kids.

Something that can help serve others (particularly those you are close to) is to know what people aren't able to do or don't like doing; what would bless them. I would tell someone, "I can come over and wash your dishes, scrub your floors, do your laundry or clean your bathrooms" to a person who hates cleaning and just had a baby. Or maybe a person needs meals or just plain hates cooking and is going through a hard time. Think outside of the box. Maybe you could find out their favorite foods and pack a fun breakfast with their dinner. One of my favorite meals after having Libby was when a lady who didn't have time to cook ordered Pizza Hut for me. It was so fun to get my favorite pizza and it meant none of the labor she couldn't provide. It's great when serving other to know what will bless them and also know your boundaries and limits of what youre able or not able to do.

We need to learn to really love people and to really help them. It can't just be about our agenda. We often want to do what we want to do to help people and that's not always helpful. I am big about expressing what you are able to do, but I mean let's ask people what they truly need. What does it look like to help that person... what does it look like to love them? It's not going to help a person to scrub their tub when what they really need is for someone to watch their kids. I'm not saying don't help people in anyway you can but really try to make sure you're helping/serving that person. One thing I appreciate is when someone asks me what the kids need and I can tell them honestly... "Libby needs some shoes and Samuel needs a zip-up jacket." It's not that I wouldn't love a cute dress for Libby or a pair of shorts for Samuel but those aren't their "needs" at the moment. Sometimes what they need are diapers... not fun or cute but very necessary.

I really want to grow in understanding how to help someone who is in need. Let's help people when they're sick, moving, having babies, needing a friend, struggling financially, new to a group, dealing with depression, grieving, etc. I know we're busy people in today's age. We have lives, work, school, family, and tons of people, things, roles, and responsibilities to juggle...maybe you have time or maybe you have money or maybe you have both. Let's use what we have to be a blessing to those around us; to serve and strengthen the body; and to by our actions draw others to Christ.

When I was on bedrest for 5 weeks with Samuel there was one person in particular that stood out to me. I don't want to slight or lessen what anybody else did but it was Katy Van who was my hero. I remember her calling me and asking what I needed from the store or if I wanted anything... she told me she was going to the store before she got to my house. I told her I was to trying to eat well so fruit would be helpful... No lie, the girl comes over with this cute basket brimming with yummy food. Fruit, yogurt, healthy snacks, granola bars, etc. I felt so spoiled. She also had a meal for me. And Katy did what was needed. she helped me organize, sort, rearrange, and clean my little nest. (At the time we were living in an efficiency appartment my dad had built over the garage, we called it the nest). Katy was someone I counted on. She really helped me... and the funny thing is that she didn't know me very well... we were practically acquaintances... but that day she became my friend. She came, she truly served me... and I felt so LOVED! And the crazy thing was she kept coming back and helping me.

We all need to be more like Katy. Willing to lay down our lives for others. willing to help someone we don't know. Who knows you might just make a friend?!

Lord, please help me to serve others better. Let me find out what people's needs are and meet them. Help me to be Christ to them. Let me not look to my agenda or what would serve me in my service to them, but to really know how I can help and do it. Let me reach out to those I don't know well. Help me to love them. Help my heart grow in my love for others. Let my life be pleasing to you. In Jesus Name, Amen.

* Just a note. Don't hear what I'm not saying! Helping people in anyway you can is wonderful. Offering help to people is great. I'm advocating being specific and clear and offering suggestions of how to help. What might have served me was people telling me what they could do to help- because I honestly couldn't think of what would have helped me at the time. So someone saying they would be willing to clean, bring a meal, do laundry, visit with me, hold my hand, buy me a coffee, etc. that would have helped. I could have thought about my "needs" and answered them with what would have served.

** I hope this note is clear. Writing late at night is always a very dangerous thing to do. I started writing this last Thursday night and just now have posted it Monday... again, late at night... ooops.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Escape Artist.





Look out! He's on the move! Samuel has become an escape artist. His new favorite place is the stairs. I have to watch him like a hawk now. He pulls himself to his feet now and can take steps holding our hands- this is an amazing accomplishment for him. He's on a real developmental growth spurt... praise God!
















I had just woken up when Mike snapped this picture of me and Samuel. We were both caught. Samuel was caught on the stairs. I was caught waking up.

Papa's Hat.






One of Libby & Samuel's favorite things to do is to wear papa's hat. They laugh and giggle as they take turns putting it on and taking it off.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Pennsylvania Train Museum






Libby loves trains or as she refers to them, "Choo-Choos." So it was with great excitement that we were able to take the kids to an actual train museum with over a 100 locomotive engines. The trains were cool to look at but the joy on Libby's face was so much more amazing to watch. It was a great afternoon.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Lancaster



This past week-end we went to Lancaster County for our church retreat. It was a great time of fellowship and hanging out and finding out more about the church and talking about membership/commitment.

One of the definite highlights for me was going to the Train Museum there. Libby was so excited and thrilled and cried the whole way back after we left all the choo-choos. Pictures are coming. it's just too late tonight and I had just wanted to post something about this past week-end.


Lancaster

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Cheering.


It's not easy being a cheerleader. You have to work hard at times about being cheerful and enthusiastic. Right now we're in the home stretch with Mike's final exams. He has one tomorrow (Thursday) and his last one is Friday. Afterwards we're packing up and getting ready to go on a retreat with our church. It's kind of like a Foundations Class (membership class) condensed into a week-end. I'm pretty excited to get away. We're bringing the kids (of course) :) and heading out to the mountains, I think. Well, to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure where it's located. I mean I have mapquest directions... ok, I think it might be in Lancaster County... we'll see :)

These past two weeks have been thick with tension and stress due to many culminating factors: grief, fatigue, PMS (sorry guys who are reading this), Mike's exams/papers, finances, sick children, and um, my sin. So I'm looking forward to some down time with my little nuggets and my hero honey. He's amazing you guys. He's been working so hard at school and also making time for me and the kids. Mother's day was special. He made me breakfast and had a rose bush and a hydrangea bush for me with a card that the kids had colored on and a card from him.... not to mention a gift card to Barnes & Noble... so fun. He took me to lunch at Panera... and that night I didn't have to cook- it was my favorite pizza (Pizza Hut- italian sausage, pepperoni & mushroom) and my sugar treat.... Cold Stone Creamery. Can we say spoiled? I'm so blessed to have my husband. He is my best friend and so much more :)

Well, I realized I'm probably not the only one who needs a cheer, so I thought I would share it with you.

Here's my cheer right now.

Hebrews 10
9 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Vs. 23-25 are what I'm holding on to right now. He has promised... and He is faithful! We can trust Him- Hold onto Hope, don't let go of it. I know life can be hard and it's full of uncertainty and we're insecure and we struggle but let's have faith... yeah, we can't see how it will all work out, but He does! We can't see Him but He's there. I think some of the realest things in the world, are things we can't see! Remember, Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1).

Last night in my Habbakuk Bible Study we talked about faith, because in Habakkuk 2:-4 it says, "Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith." Our focus was on the just living by faith. In some translations it says, "but the righteous shall live by his faith."

Did you realize that specific passage came from Habbakuk? I thought it was a N.T. idea... but it's not. Paul is quoting Habbakuk when he writes. In Romans 1:17," For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”

In Galatians 3:5-6, "5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”?"

And finally in Hebrews10:32-38, "32 But recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings, 33 sometimes being publicly exposed to reproach and affliction, and sometimes being partners with those so treated. 34 For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one. 35 Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. 36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. 37 For,“Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay; 38 but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.”39 But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls."

I was particularly struck by this section. We were asked what does faith look like here. And to me it appeared to be two things. Number one, Believing. And number two, Doing. We are believing in God and in Jesus and in His work. And we are doing.... doing the will of God. It seemed to go hand in hand. When we believe we will turn around and do God's will... and when we're doing God's will we're also believing.

Anyway, I hope this rambling makes sense. It's midnight and I need to go to bed. I might try, gasp, a MOPS group tomorrow (Mothers of Preschoolers) or I might just try to sleep in if the kids let me... ha ha.

Whatever you do my friends... may your hearts be filled with faith, hope and love!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Come to Mine House.



I wish you could be here right now. I'd love to make a big batch of scones, put the kettle on, and pour some tea all around. Do you ever have those moments where you could use a friend? I mean sure you love e-mailing your friends and receiving their lettes and even talking on the phone but I wish I could just transport you to my doorstep. You don't even have to wipe your feet. I'd love to just have you come in and "sit a spell".

I don't even know where it all began... but I remember my parents talking to each other in a cute way and saying, "Do you want to come to mine house?" And it kind of stuck with me. So at times I'll turn to my honey and say to him, "Do you want to come to mine house?"

Right now, I'm asking you that question... I know you can't really come but I'm just going to pretend. It's not that I'm doing bad, but I miss the comfort of having a friend sit across from me and just being able to chat. I think it's because I've been around some friends lately. I just met with a friend on Saturday and we drank coffee and talked and just enjoyed not having kids for a moment. A friend just visited me last night and we talked till 12:30 last night. She and her two kids just left this morning (have a safe trip Caren!) And I just got off the phone not so long ago with a friend who is like a sister to me. So maybe it's all these great conversations and encouraging times that are prompting me with a longing for more.

I think the real longing, the real ache is for Heaven. I can't wait for us to all be together. To enjoy our Savior. To be finally home. To not worry, stress, compare, criticize, judge, hate, hunger, and tire... but to rest. Truly rest in the love of our Father.

Revelation
7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no
one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing
before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes
and were holding palm branches in their hands.

13 Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they,
and where did they come from?"

14 I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come
out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them
white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and
night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent
over them.

16 Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun
will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.

17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he
will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every
tear from their eyes."

So the next time I see you, be it here or there... or never again, I know one day we will meet... and we'll be Home.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

To the Moms.


To all the wonderful moms out there: I'm thinking of you and thankful for you. For my mom, my mother-in-law, my aunts, grandmothers, friends, and mentors- Thank you for the example of womanhood that you are and specifically the different ways you've showed me how to be a good mom... and become a better mom.

And for those who are suffering because they've longed to be a mom and can't get pregnant. For those who have lost their children, their beautiful irreplaceable treasures... and for those who have lost their mom, the one who gave you life and loved you wholeheartedly albeit imperfectly... know that my heart is with you and grieves with you. May the God of all comfort be near to your heart. May He console you. He gave up His Son to death on a cross for us. I'm not saying that to minimize your pain, I'm saying he grieves with you. He knows your pain.

So, as much as I want to rejoice with those who are rejoicing, those who can kiss their sweet babes and hug their dear moms I also want to be mindful of those who have loss. May we rejoice with those who are rejoicing, and weep those who are weeping.

Afraid.


The Lord is my light and my salvation -- whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life -- of whom shall I be afraid? Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. (Psalm 27:1,3-5)

I am trying to fight the fear that cripples me. Like Much Afraid in the book Hind's Feet on High Places I am crippled. I often let my fears rule me and base my decisions on those feelings... what a horrible cycle. I am learning to break free. To cry out to my creator and say, "Help me!" I am learning that He is more powerful than my fears.

After my sister's death I began to experience the debilitating affect of panic attacks. I didn't know what was happening to me at the time. I just remember feeling like I was about to die and that the most mundane simple things would trigger it. I could barely cook. I could barely get out of the bed in the morning. I remember driving to work and becoming nauseaous, I would break into sweat and my heart rate would escalate and I would breathe so hard and fast I thought I would pass out. Thankfully over time these episodes decreased... until recently.

I am battling the fear that wants to take hold of me. The voice that tells me that I can't do it. That I won't make it. That I'm a horrible mom, wife, friend, daughter, and whatever other role I play. "Failure, failure..." rings in my head, drowning out the truth I know. I have these ideas of perfection that I want to attain and unless I achieve perfection than all is lost... so my thoughts say. But it's not true.

Right now one of my focuses is to do small things, break my tasks into small easier to swallow chunks and be realistic. All this "get everything done in a day" just isn't going to happen. I'm starting to take Scripture and slowly memorize, read, and absorb it. I want to hide God's Word in my heart. I am trying to realize that it's okay to be imperfect, and it's okay to make mistakes. I'm learning to give myself grace and not just to those around me. I'm learning to love myself because God loves me and finds me valuable and important and to care for what He's given me. My house may never be fully in order, my birthday cards might not get mailed out on time...and you know what it's okay. I'm learning to let go of the things that hold me down: the clutter in my mind, body, soul... and even the clutter in the house. I'm asking God to transform me... to take me to the mounts of High Places and to give me a new name.... to take me from being Much Afraid to being called Grace and Glory.

It's my prayer that I wouldn't get so caught up in the things that don't matter and that my mind would be changed from the concerns I have to the things that God is concerned about. May I be made more into His likeness... into His image. May I know the Perfect Love that casts out fear. I hope also to enjoy the things that matter to... like loving my children and my neighbors. Showing kindness. Spending time with my children and my husband. Loving those around me and reflecting Christ.

Well, enough said for now. May Christ rule in our hearts and give us peace. Amen.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

T-Rex.

Yesterday was a bad day. Nothing in particularly bad happened. It might have been my hormones. It might have been sleep deprivation. It might have been the kids going crazy as Mike and I call it "T-Rexin it!" We make our arms tiny like a T-Rex and roar.
Yeah, the kids were definitely T-Rexin it.

It started off a good enough day. Mike and the kids and I went to the bank and I went to Kinko's to fax medical request info. for Samuel. I dropped him off at school and the kids and i went to Target to make some major returns. You know those items you tell yourself you need to return but they keep lingering bec. you couldn't find the receipt or whatever. I had spent the morning digging through the receipts and taping them to the items. No kidding, I probably had 15 items to return. A cardigan I didn't try on... and surprise it didn't fit. A clock that never worked right in the first place, a pair of shorts that are marked with the sticker 3T but the inside label was 2T. A tool kit (um, a scrapbooking tool kit) I didn't use because I got a crop-a-dile... oh happy eyelets and punches...(for the scrappers out there). I think you guys get the point. Some of the stuff wasn't returnable bec. the receipts had expired. Some of them by a couple of days. One of the ladies was giving me a hard time but the other lady was sweet. She saw that I had made the effort to get my act together (the receipts being taped on!) Okay, so I didn't return 4 out of the 15 items- not bad!

Anyway, we left there and went to my favorite lunch place ever (Panera). Samuel slept in my arms and I ate my salad in peace and most of my sandwich before he woke up. Libby was a little wild (not too bad) and stayed most of the time in her seat. I had another return to make at a store and we got home.... that's where the real problems began. Libby had fallen asleep in the car and I was trying to carry her and Samuel in my arms and open the door all at the same time. She was so ready for a nap. I put her down and him down (they share a room). I proceed to go downstairs to make a cup of tea. Well, he has this little mobile in his room and was pushing the music and yelling happily.... which was keeping Libby awake. So I pick him up and take him downstairs and feed him so more food. Put him down an hour later. She wakes up and is freaking out so I put her in bed with me, give her some books and proceed to read Grapes of Wrath while trying not to hear her rendition of "I'm a Big Sister" and "Green Eggs & Ham" and "The Best Nest".

I'm about to fall asleep and she proceeds to jump on me and yell "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" a million times. So I put her in her bed...I got to my room and fall asleep.... Well, I didn't realize Mike must have turned the monitor off earlier that morning. I was up the night before till 2 a.m. Our neighbors threw their 3rd party within a week. They've kept us up for 4 nights though. One night they just played drums, guitair, bass till 1:30 a.m, but that time there weren't a bunch of drunk people, yelling and laughing, and thumping the house. They're seriously making me lose my mind :) Anyway, needless to say, I slept hard. I woke up several hours later and realized what time it was. I jumped out of bed and went into the hall to hear the kids crying. they were both hysterical and inconsolable. I felt terrible. Usually I would hear them over the monitor. I picked them up and the crying didn't stop for the rest of the day. You know the kind of hyperventilating crying/screaming that kids can do.

So the rest of the day I just felt edgy. It's hot. There is no AC, just a unit downstairs and one overhead fan in our bedroom- the kids don't have a fan... guess, what I'm buying today!

Anyway, I was almost afraid of today because yesterday was so bad. Like I said, not much happened it just was awful.

It made me think of this song I really related to as a teen. It's by the band Fuel.

Had a bad day again
She said I would not understand
She left a note and said, "I'm sorry I
had a bad day again"

She spilled her coffee, broke her shoelace
Smeared the lipstick on her face
Slammed the door and said, "I'm sorry I
had a bad day again"

And she swears there's nothing wrong
I hear her playing that same old song
She puts me off and puts me on

And had a bad day again
She said I would not understand
Left a note and said, "I'm sorry I
had a bad day again"

But in more relatable terms to present day it made me think of the book: Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.


Anyway, I'm probably more of the T-Rex than the kids. Today, I got up early with Libby and we did Pilates together... she really is cute trying! I fed her and Samuel breakfast and had a quiet time with the Lord. I've had two cups of tea today and it's not even 11:30 a.m. But I feel more at peace. I thank God that today has been a respite from the craziness of yesterday. Often I judge my days based on how productive I was. Yesterday, there was a lot of productivity but not much peace. I think I would rather feel the presence of God and not get much done (at least in my eyes), than go out and accomplish the world on my own. I'm asking God to help me keep my heart quiet, to still my mind, and to rest in His goodness. Yeah, I know stuff needs to get done, but it's better to do it with God as my strength than leaning on myself.

Jesus says to us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11: 28-31)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Love in Motion.









31 days sans le sucre (without sugar).


So, It's either day 4 or 5 that I've gone without "sugar". I allow turbinado sugar in my tea and brown sugar in my oatmeal. Those are the exceptions. I'm not eating sugar in general like in sweet cereals (aaaahhhh--- cinnamon toast crunch), ice-cream, brownies, cakes, pastries, sodas etc. And here's the biggie chocolate. For some reason it's been surprisingly "easy". I really felt like God wanted me to fast from sugar until my birthday and I started May 3rd. So I guess it's day 5! Yippee. I might allow myself a special treat on Mother's Day... that's still up in the air. I'm not feeling legalistic about it. I'm just excited that I'm training myself, disciplining myself to abstain.

Carmex.



Libby is obsessed with lip balm. She loves to find my lip gloss or chapstick or lipstick... whatever she can find to put on her lips... and carry the item around and say, "Mmm, lips"... or "special lips". Her current obsession is with Carmex. She carries it around with her everywhere and when she wears her little overalls she puts it in her front pocket.

In the words of Larry from Veggie Tales, "I love my Lips!"

a quick laugh.


Mike and I were in the car. We were both exhausted. He had been up all night writing a paper. I just hadn't slept well. So were both kind of loopy and starting throwing stuff (quotes) out at each other. "Fellows please!*" We started laughing. He turned and looked at me... "Most people we know quote the Office...we quote Veggie Tales!"


*Archibald Asparagus playing Jonah, in JONAH- A VEGGIE TALES MOVIE.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Habbakuk.


So I'm currently going through the book of Habbakuk in my women's Bible Study. The leader of the group made a really interesting observation. Let me explain Habbakuk a little bit in laymen's terms. So Habbakuk is complaining of the people of Israel to the Lord (bec. they're sinful and whatnot) and then the Lord tells him (Habbakuk), "Hey, I'm going to punish them. I'm going to use these Chaldeans (AKA Babylonians) and then Habbakuk starts lamenting, like, "Lord, why are you going to use these EVIL people to judge Israel. I mean those guys are REALLY bad, we're relatively righteous compared to them..." So then my leader brings up the age old struggle of how we wrestle God with questions. Questions like, "Well, why does this happen to us and not somebody else... or why do bad things happen to good (or relatively good) people. It brought up a lot of thoughts. Sometimes (and be prepared this is pretty terrible) I look at sisters who don't get along or don't like each other and think, well, why couldn't one of them have died instead of my sister. Because, heck, I loved my sister and we had a great relationship. Now, be reminded, I forewarned you that it was ugly. It does break my heart when I see sisters against one another because I want to shake them and tell them what a good thing they've got, how precious and valuable a sister is... how I would give anything to have my sister, Libby back.

But there were also these questions of the Babylonians taking over. Why was the Lord prospering them? Why does He prosper these wicked people... and it made me turn to the Psalms.. specifically Psalm 73:

"Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For they have no pangs until death; their bodies are fat and sleek. They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind. Therefore pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment. Their eyese swell out through fatness; their hearts overflow with follies. They scoff and speak with malice; loftily they threaten oppression. They set their mouths against the heavens, and their tongue struts through the earth. Therefore his people turn back to them, and find no fault in them. And they say, "How can I know God? Is there any knowledge in the Most High?" Behold, these are the wicked; always at ease, they increase in riches. All in vain have I kept my heart clean and washed my hands in innocence. For all the day long I have been stricken and rebuked every morning. If I had said, "I will speak thus," I would have betrayed the generation of your children. But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wersisome task, UNTILl I WENT INTO THE SANCTUARY OF GOD; THEN I DISCERNED THEIR END. Truly you have set them in slippery places; you make them fall to ruin. How they are destroyed in a moment, swept away utterly by terrors! Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord when you rouse yourself, you despise them as phantoms. When my sould was embittered, when I was pricked in heart, I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory. Who have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strenght of my heart and my portion forever. For behold those who are far from you shall perish; you put and end to everyone who is unfaithful to you. But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge that I may tell of all your works."

We're still going through Habbakuk, I mean we haven't really studied Chapter 2 yet... but it's intersting to see how even in the Old Testament people had questions about God's goodness and wondering why he allows the things he does. So I'm not really focusing here on the whole context/intent/content of Habbakuk... I'm just wrestling with God a little bit too. Sometimes the question isn't why do good things happen to "bad" people, but why do good things happen to others (even people we love) but don't happen to us? Don't we all face these kinds of questions... such as:

"Why are they married and I'm not? Why do their grandchildren get to be close to them when mine live far away? Why did they get the promotion? the job? The house? The girl? Why isn't my child healthy like theirs? Why are they more prosperous financially? Why is their marriage doing great when mine is on the rocks? How come she gets more clothes than I do? More toys? More books? More ice-cream in her cone? Why do they have it easy when my life is hard? Why can they have kids and we can't?"

I go back to the author of Psalm 73 and state with him, "Until I went into the sanctuary of God." Maybe you're questioning why bad things happen to "good" people or why good things happen to bad people, or good things happen to "good" people, but um, not you. We are left with being in need of God. We need to meet with Him. It's not until we have that encounter with Him that we can be changed, that our perspective can be made right, that our courage, heart, mind, soul can be renewed. I'm not going to pretend that these questions aren't difficult or even painful...what I'm saying is I don't have the answers, God does... and it's not until we reflect on Him that we can find peace, that we can be reminded of His goodness and faithfulness towards us. That my heart of discontent and anxiety can be transformed to gratefulness and joy. I can then turn and say, "The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines (other translations say boundaries) have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance." (Psalm 16:5-6)

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Easter, Part Two.




We didn't get to have Easter because Samuel and I were at the hospital. But I did put Libby in her Easter dress (2 weeks later) and threw some eggs in the yard and had her pick them up. Here are some pics.

Dumping Ground.


Have you ever found yourself caught in the evil comparision trap? I'm finding myself there. I'm looking at others (ok. looking at other women) and thinking, "They look better than me. They're a better photographer. They're blog is cooler. They're a better mom. They have their lives in order. They're organized. They're a better cook. Nicer house. Nicer car. Nicer.... whatever" I am reminding myself lately what it says in the Psalms, that my "boundaries have fallen in pleasant places." I'm not going to pretend to have it together... I don't. I do know though that I have this Awesome Father who loves me and has a plan for my life. That I'm being redeemed. That I'm crushed, but I won't despair... I am broken but I am not overcome. Greater is He who that is in Me than he who is in the world! I wonder how often we spend time comparing ourselves with others instead of embracing and enjoying who God made us to be and appreciating the way He made others. Let's glean from others. Heck yeah, people are better at things than us, so let's learn what we can from them, but let's rejoice, because God made us to be US! He didn't make us little cookie cutters. He delights in us! Ok, so as I'm preaching to you, I hope you know... I'm just talking to myself.

Quick Visit.




My mom had a conference in New York so the week-end before the conference and a couple days after she came and visited. She brought her friend Annie with her. We had a great time not doing much in particular but we had a fun day and went to Chestnut Hill and they helped me with projects like cleaning out my car (which is still spotless!) This is right before they left when I realized we hadn't taken a single picture and I had a camera with me the WHOLE time!

the Park.






There is a little park close by that I like to take the kids to. Libby loves the slide there. Well, there are differents slides but there is one particular slide she likes to go down. Well, with the help of one of the neighborhood kids (Jaylin) she went down the "Big Slide".

Samuel usually just watches Libby but this time he got to try the slide too!