Monday, February 28, 2011

Jesus, in No Specific Prose

He reached out and took my hand over a decade ago, the most intimate day I've ever experienced in my life... God reaching down and rescuing me from a personal darkness and an eternal darkness.  He was as real to me any spring breeze, as my own reflection, as real and close as the best of any friends.  Joy was imminent, regardless my situation. 
The zeal and zest and passion that filled my life came from an overwhelming sense of humility to a God who had done abundantly more than I could ever repay... and did it willingly and sacrificially. 
How could I not love immensely this Jesus who first loved me?!  I wanted nothing more to know everything about this person who had changed my life for all that was good, for the God who took time out of His schedule and found it worth it to create us, knowing full well what it would cost Him in the long run.  He has known, loved, and had my best interest at heart from eternity past to eternity forward.  He knows the fads of yesterday and the hearts of tomorrow.
He knew, and knows still, that I would and will drift from His presence.  He knows where I fail.  He knows the junk in my heart.  And He knew it all before there was time and proceeded on to know me anyway... is there anything more humbling? Is there anything more exhilarating?  All of my excitement and my worship and my praise are due Him!  Nothing can compare to this Jesus!  No sports team, no hobby, no job, no... other... person. 
Jesus must become all to me.  Every breath, every thought, every decision, every word spoken and every desire.  My spirit will ooze Jesus when every bit of my life is wrapped up in the love I've found in Jesus.  Then, and only then, will my attitude and life smell as a sweet aroma to the Lord first, and also to my husband, children, family, and friends.  Only when I'm grossly aware of the sacrifice and love and that nothing is 'right' without Jesus will I begin to have the passion necessary to love Him as I should. 
Jesus is everything.  My husband isn't everything.  My children are not everything.  My happiness is not everything.  My circumstances are not everything.  My income, my career (or lack thereof), my comfort are not everything.  Most importantly, my sin is not everything.  Jesus is everything.  And all of the other things are wrapped up in the way I love Jesus. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

I'm a Zoo Animal

People must have never seen a pregnant woman before, because, seriously, I've become something to be stared at by strangers, and even something to be approached. 
I really think I know how animals at a zoo feel now.  They have to be thinking the same thing!  "What?  You've never seen a horse with stripes before," to quote the zebra. 
On just a short shopping trip with my mom today, Target, Wal-Mart and Kroger, I was approached by more people (that I didn't know) and told things such as, "You poor thing?" and "When are you due?" and, my all time favorite for the day, (as woman puts her hand on her cheek and her mouth drops) "You are just sooooo big." 
Thank you, ma'am, that's very encouraging.  Shall I now comment on your most unflattering feature as well?
What do you say to these comments?  I mean, really? Tell me I look huge and awful and it'd feel about the same, because let's be honest, that's what you're really saying.
Have I mentioned I'm ready to have this child?  Well, just to clarify, if I haven't already mentioned it, I'm ready to have this child. 
End rant.
There's something about Sunday's that get labor going... come on Sunday!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

When She Gets Here...

I have some crazy plans of some things I'm going to do once she gets here:
  • Dye my hair... I've been waiting to do that forever. 
  • Get my eyebrows waxed. 
  • Take advantage of the massage that Aaron got me for Christmas. 
  • Possibly get my hair cut???  We'll have to see about that one. 
  • Take Bryton on a date out with just Aaron and I... maybe skating for the first time after I heal :) 
  • Shopping at Victoria's Secret (another "after a period of time" plan)
Gives me some things to look forward to (besides not being miserable and eventually being able to wear my own clothes) during labor and delivery.

And for those of you wanting a picture... I'm praying I don't make my 40 week picture, so here is 37 weeks, 4 days:

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Why I Haven't Blogged Lately

It's not for lack of things to say, trust me, but it seems as if everything I have to say is pregnancy related, and, you know, I'm tired of talking about pregnancy.  I'm just tired of pregnancy overall really.  I'm ready to talk about a new baby.  I'm ready to stop being forced into conversations, with strangers half the time, about how big I am.  (Seriously, when did it become socially acceptable to tell someone that??? Parents should have raised their kids better...) I'm tired of being asked when she's due.  I'm tired of the sympathetic looks from people in the grocery store.  I'm tired of maternity clothes that don't even fit me now.  I'm tired of unsolicited advice from strangers.  I'm tired of comments from men who blow off how miserable I am when they have no idea what it's like to experience what God has privileged (and I mean that seriously) us women to experience.  It may be a privilege, but we all know that most good things come with great sacrifice and some pain.

I'm tired of wondering, myself, when she'll be here... I'm really just tired. 

I'm tired of trying to roll over in bed at night when rolling my belly from one side to the other feels like my skin is going to pop open and all of my organs are going to fall out.  I'm tired of having to use two hands to buckle my seat belt.  I'm tired of being winded from standing for too long.  (Hello, I can hardly sing during worship on Sunday mornings, but by golly, as long as I'm able to stand, I'm going to stand.)  I'm tired of not being able to get down on the floor to play with Bryton.

And I'm tired of wondering what labor and delivery will entail for me this time.  (Especially with the doctor's concerns starting two weeks ago at this point...)

It's like my life is on standby while I wait to be able to move again.  I'm a spectator to a whole lot of people who have lives.  (And yes, I realize that I may have a little bit of no life once the baby gets here, but people who like to point that out aren't helping me at all at this point.  In fact, I'd go as far as to say that it a little bit infuriates me and tempts me to sin in my heart... so don't cause one of God's children to stumble.  Thanks.) 

And this is precisely why I haven't blogged.  My heart is ugly right now, and I know that, but you know, sometimes airing it and exposing it helps clean it up... so I hope that happens.   In the meantime, I just really need Miss Ansley to make her appearance... and it's not just me saying this, it's doctors too (who can't take her on their own right now due to hospital policy), so please join with me in praying that she makes her way soon. 

Bryton was born at 37 weeks, 5 days.  I'm praying she follows exactly in her brother's footsteps... that'd be Thursday.  I wouldn't complain whatsoever if she came early, but I know I'll start to get really impatient (as if I'm not already) once Thursday passes. 

So I'm going to try to blog more often, but when all I can think about is pregnancy and when there will be some relief, it's hard to find anything else to talk about.  I'm going to try.  Maybe when I feel like there is something positive to say I'll post my blog postings on my facebook again... until then, I'll write a little in secret, for those of you who read my blog anyway...

Until then

Thursday, February 17, 2011

With Every Change Is a Little Fear

It's fear of the unexpected.  When you can't see what's ahead or what the future holds, there are always questions.  Here are some 'once again expectant parent' fears that I'm pondering:
  • When will she get here?  Will labor / delivery go well?  How will it happen?  
  • How much will her being here negatively effect Bryton?  Will it change him?  
  • Will she be a spitter?  Bryton's spitting completely frustrated Aaron.  I hated that.  I hope she doesn't spit. 
  • Will she be colicky?  Again, very difficult with Bryton. 
  • How long will it be until she sleeps through the night?  Will this disrupt Bryton's sleeping? 
  • Will everything be 'ok' with her once she gets here?  Everything has looked okay, but what if we missed something?  
  • Is moving from one child to two as life altering as moving from no children to one?  It can't be, right?
Lots of questions... scary questions, but questions I'm ready to explore!  Hopefully news on when that might happen tomorrow!


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


This past week has been a rough week, and family time has been somewhat limited.  One evening I had my mom watch Bryton for me so that I could attend a visitation.  I knew Aaron would be there late, and when I went to pick Bryton up that evening and my mom asked if I'd like to stay for dinner I jumped on the offer. 

I went to wash my hands in the bathroom before sitting down to eat, and, whether it be pregnancy nose or what, the smell of the handsoap took me back.  Handsoap?  Really?

The scent stuck with me the rest of the night.  I could even smell it when I put my hand up near my face to sleep that night... and it got me thinking. 

There's no special scent about that hand soap.  It smells like hand soap, but it is my mom's particular brand of hand soap.  It was familiar even though I've been gone from it for so long. 

It got me thinking about other things, like the summer sheets that were on my bed growing up... whenever you got into bed they were cold... I loved that.  And the way the house smelled when my mom made Italian Beef.  And the way the sun filled the living room in the afternoon.  The house seemed cozy in the winter time and airy in the summer.  I can remember the old grey sectional my parents had quite well.  It was so comfortable, and I slept off, literally, hundreds of migraines on that couch.  I can remember the click of the fan as it whirled over head.  I can remember the small patch of hardwood that once existed in front of our front door.  When I was a little girl and had the opportunity to get dressed up, I'd go straight to that hardwood after I had my shoes on to tap away and spin. 

My parent's house is completely different now than it used to be.  The little section of hardwood and that grey sectional disappeared a long time ago.  The sheets that I had for my bed are long gone.  The living room has been repainted, new floors put down, and new furniture put in. 

I obviously never objected to any of the changes, but reflecting back on the things that I loved about my parent's house growing up makes me realize how 'at home' I felt there, and it makes me wonder.  I wonder what things my kids will love most about our house... our meals... our smells.  I wonder what things they'll look back on and miss when they are gone... I wonder what things they'll love without ever even realizing it...

Just a thought

Monday, February 14, 2011

An Ode to My Husband

To my best friend, the person I laugh with, love with, live with and experience life with, I thank God everyday for giving me you to spend my life with.  This is just a little of where He has brought us so far.  Count on more pictures of just us from now on :)  I love you dearly.  (And sorry it's a little blurry.  Youtube did it, and I have a hardcopy for you at home ;)


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Some Goals for the Week

Just being honest, this pregnancy is getting rough... so I'm hoping to keep my mind busy (and myself) in order to speed this process up both physically (come on labor!) and mentally.  Thus, I decided to make myself some goals for this week.  I'm not sure how my feet or back will handle these, so we'll see how well I do, in fact, I may update on here at the end of each day which tasks for the day I actually accomplished.  Here's what I have so far:

Monday: (which is looking a little overly ambitious at the moment)
  • Valentine's Day, some tricks up the sleeve so I have to plan for those.  Hopefully a fun project with Bryton as well. 
  • Get. All. Laundry. Done.  (This is a biggie since I'm technically not supposed to be carrying the baskets up and down the stairs... orrrr climbing the stairs that much, but my theory is the stairs are the lesser of the two evils so if it takes me 3 or 4 times up the stairs each trip to get the laundry back up... so be it.  This girl has very few clothing items that fit at this point and they are dirty!)
  • Finish packing the hospital bag, leave a note of last minute things on top (for toiletries that cant be packed yet, etc.)
  • Do Bills / Menu Plan.  (Takes much longer than one would think, so Bryton's nap would be prime time for this.)
  • Vacuum.  (Has that been known to induce labor before??? Let's hope.) 
  • Attend funeral.   
  • PLUS - I went through all of the maternity clothes I can't / won't be able to wear, packed them away, went through my drawers of normal clothes and got rid of items I didn't need, unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher, made cherry delight for Aaron for V-day, and removed all of the trash from our car ;)  Bout time!  Now the car needs cleaned from the inside out!
    • Lunch date for some much needed girl time!
    • Grocery shopping (preferably alone, may have to do this after Aaron gets home from work.  Literally getting impossible for me to get Bryton in and out of a cart.)
    • Put swing and bouncer together. 
    • Dust.  (Thanks Heather!  You know you have great friends when they'll dust your filthy house! :) )
    Wednesday:  (Only 3 things because number 2 will be a dooooozie on my body / back.)
    • Pick up pack n' play from my mom. 
    • Clean the bathroom. 
    • Youth.
    • Afternoon appointment.
    • Clean the floors in the dining / kitchen.  Hardwood.  Bleh. 
    • Doctor appointment (come on progress!)
    • Get the carseat bases loaded into cars and installed.  
      I'll red out each thing I actually get accomplished.  Maybe you all checking in on me will make me overly motivated to get this stuff done :)

      Accomplished Everything!


      Thursday, February 10, 2011

      I Need Words

      The last 24 hours have left a lot of our town's residents not only speechless, but shocked, heart-broken and grieving.  It never ceases to amaze me about how death in our realm of conversation, even in the church - world, seems so hypothetical.  As Christians we talk about, "do you know where you'd spend eternity if you died today," and none of us ever really think about dying today.  Afterall, we have our whole lives ahead of us... whatever 'whole' means. 
      So once again here we are, I included, left shocked, speechless and grieving, trying not only to wrap my mind and my heart around the loss of such a young man, loved by so many, but also trying to wrap my heart and mind around death in and of itself. 
      It is during times like these that we look at our reflections in the mirror and wonder if in a week our reflection will still be here to be seen.  It's when we look at our families and find them precious and more incredible than ever before.  It's looking at death as something so unfamiliar... there are none of us here that have experienced it ourselves.  No one knows what eternity looks like.  What did he see as he left this world and moved on to the next? 
      Then I try to wrap my mind around how the family could possibly feel... I mean, really?  I cannot imagine losing my brother, who is 12 years older than me and we've never been very close.   I cannot imagine losing an uncle, especially one who had lived in my house and I so much adored from birth forward.  Mostly, as a parent, I cannot imagine losing my child.  Our kids our supposed to bury us, not the other way around!  For such a loss to happen so suddenly, so unexpectedly, how do you begin to grieve.
      I cannot wrap my head around this.  I've tried.  I can't imagine the agony and trying to function and even how you would ever really sleep again.  I can't imagine when you can laugh again, or when or if your life could ever feel 'right.' 
      It's only by the grace and mercy of Jesus to carry us through that these things ever happen.  It's not in our nature to make them happen on our own. 
      Then I got to thinking about words.  What words do you ever offer a family as 'condolences?'  I thought of all of the regulars:  'So sorry for your loss,' 'I'll pray for you,' 'If you need anything let us know,' 'He's in a better place,' etc, and all I could think of is how, if the shoe was on the other foot, how, although I am very sorry for their loss, and I would be willing to help them with anything, that these words aren't nearly enough to convey my sympathy for them.  What I really want to say is:

      Your loss has been so dear to my heart that I thought of you all night last night.  I prayed for you for such a great time last night as I laid down in my bed that I finally fell asleep crying for the pain your family must be in.  I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of you and couldn't go back to sleep, so I continued praying for you then.  I've continued to think of you all day.  My heart feels heavy and my stomach feels sick for the pain I can't personally understand, but that I know is so very real to you.  I've hugged and kissed on my son more than I ever have before today, and I'm so very grateful for this baby kicking inside and making me miserable.  What an incredible blessing. 
      And despite all of the pain I feel for your family, despite the time I've spent thinking about your reality, despite the grief I share with you, I know, without doubt, that your own pain and grief go infinitely deeper than I could ever imagine or understand aside from being in the same situation myself, and for that I feel even deeper sorrow.  I'm sorry seems so shallow, but I am so immensely sorry that I feel physical pain in my chest.  You are not alone...

      And despite all efforts... those words aren't even enough. 
      Silence and tears seem more appropriate...

      All of that being said - I pray that we all love our loved ones a little deeper, seek after Jesus even harder, and continue praying for peace, comfort and healing, in response to such a sudden loss.


      Wednesday, February 9, 2011

      An Easy "Almost Homemade" Crock Pot Recipe

      Those of you who know me well know that I'm fairly crockpot cooking challenged.  Crockpots in my world were invented to make appetizers in and to keep things warm in... so when it comes to actually use it to make my cooking life easier, it doesn't really suffice.  I've tried, things just never come out... well, right.  (Although my white chicken chili always works out okay in there.)

      Anyway, so I found this recipe the other day for crock pot chicken in dumplings.  You have to understand something about me and chicken and dumplings.  The only ones I really want come from my mother's kitchen, and they are always homemade and she slaves over them, literally, all day.  I've tried to reproduce them, and really believe, with practice, that I could (my homemade dumplings are always way to dry...), but it's too much work for me during the day when I have 1,000 other things to do, a toddler, and well, at this current moment, can't really do much of anything.  So I was up for something easy.

      So I fixed this recipe yesterday (against all of my instincts) and found out that I LOVED it, and it was SOOOOO easy.  Now, don't get me wrong, it's not the ones that momma makes, but by golly, they are a close second place!

      Here's the recipe:

      In a crock pot I put:

      2 large frozen chicken breasts (yep, you don't even have to thaw the chicken)
      1 can of cream of celery
      1 can of cream of chicken
      Frozen diced onion (I eyeballed it)
      2 Tbsp. of butter
      And then I covered it with low sodium chicken broth.  (used probably half of a carton)

      You let this cook for about 5 hours, shred your chicken (or cut in chunks) then add your 'dumplings'.  Can be your call what you use, but remember, I'm going for easy, so I used a whole bag of Reams dumplings from the freezer section.

      Fixed a steamer bag of peas, and voila, supper :) 
      Easy speezy!

      Baby Update

      Okay - baby update is as follows:

      The biggest news I received: I have yet another very large child on my hands.  Saw my primary today and her exact words were, "We need to get this baby here soon," and she said that on more than one occasion.  Asked her about relief from some symptoms and she said, "We need to get that baby here," and then went as far as to say that if she decided to come on her own (like Bryton did), that she would more than welcome her arrival at any point.  A week would be perfect timing. 

      As far as an induction is concerned, she said we'd definitely do that at 39 weeks, and could possibly squeak one in at 38 1/2.  She said, "let's hope she comes on her own before that."  So that's what I'm praying for (and what I'd ask you to pray for as well).

      She also said that my having large children could be a genetic thing since I was so large myself.

      As weird as it is to say, I'm good with whatever reason they'll give me to get her here early... and as long as the 'large baby' doesn't turn into a c-section... that reason will suit me just fine.

      On another note, I had my blood taken today to check my platelet levels (we are praying they are well over 100,000 for a well-done epidural this time), and I had my group b strep done.  I should find out the results of both of those at next weeks appointment.   

      If you want to see what a pregnant woman with a 'large baby' looks like, here's a picture to give you an idea:

      This was at 35 weeks.  Notice how happy I look.  Exactly. 

      So there you go... overall the appointment went well.  I like talking about her getting here, because quite frankly, it couldn't happen soon enough for me, so acknowledging the light at the end of the tunnel makes me happy :) 

      Time to start thinking about getting the carseat installed and the bouncer, swing and pack n play set up. 


      Tuesday, February 8, 2011

      Misery... and a funny story to lighten the mood

      Caution:  This is a debbie downer post.  If you don't want to hear me whine, you can skip down to the red paragraph below.  It's actually kind of funny.  

      Had my first legitimate break down today.  So it's not the first break down I've had over the course of this pregnancy, as I've had the silly, 'wow, why am I crying moments,' but today's breakdown was an "I don't know how much more of this I can take" breakdown.  Hello 35 1/2 weeks.

      Saturday was the day that misery struck.  I've been saying for weeks now that I wasn't miserable 'yet', but that I knew misery was right around the corner.  Well, the corner has been turned.

      Physically, I'm dealing with about every symptom the end of pregnancy can bring you (besides swelling ironically enough), I don't know if she's 'lightening' or 'dropping' or what, but I don't remember this much pressure and this much discomfort with Bryton's pregnancy... at least not in 'that' kind of way.  Overall, it hurts to sit, it hurts to stand, and I'm so tired of sleeping on my sides when my hips already hurt that I'm hardly sleeping at all.  Hello pain and discomfort.

      To top off the physical side, my brutal child can't seem to make up her mind about what position she wants to be in, and when you have an 18-20 inch child inside you doing flips flops, it isn't exactly comfortable to say the least.  

      Which brings me to the mental frustration and exhaustion I'm feeling.  Feeling crazy girl do all of the flip flops makes me completely nervous about her position.  Bryton was head down from about 18 weeks on, thank you large child.  He got there and stuck there.  Not so for Miss Ansley.  I was so concerned about where I'd been consistently feeling movement (more side to side than up and down) that I asked the dr. during my last appointment if there was any way of telling besides ultrasound.  Of course, lots of pushing on the belly to find out that she was oblique.  Not as bad as transverse, head in my right pelvic 'area' (but not down), feet up in my left side.  "No worries," she said, "Only 3% of pregnancies aren't head down by 37 weeks."

      Since then I've been able to do my own feeling around... she's been oblique a lot, there have been one or two times in the past week I could feel her feet in my ribs (yay, short lived success), but there have been other times where I can tell she's been completely transverse (side to side).  I'm not even certain that for the first time this morning I didn't feel her breech, head up towards my ribs, little fluttering feet down towards my pelvis.

      Long story short:  I'm tired of worrying about a c-section.  I've done this one way already, I certainly don't want to do it another way now.  I know what to expect, kind of, during delivery this time, and quite frankly, I don't want two different kinds of battle scars.

      Other mental discomfort:  After chatting with the nurse on the phone yesterday about one of those lovely symptoms I'm having, I was informed that I shouldn't be carrying or lifting anything more than 8 pounds at this point and from here on out.  I informed her that I had a 28 pound two year old at home... she said to do as little as possible.  SO, that leaves me, who is normally independent and wants to 'get things done and get them done now' oriented can do very little on my own.  Of course at a time when we have about 7 loads of laundry to do (which I can't, nor do I feel like, carry up and down the stairs now).  I feel like I'm going to burn Aaron out prematurely on helping me with stuff, when I know I'm going to need even more help after Ansley gets here while I'm recuperating.

      On top of that, I miss being able to play with Bryton, to be on the floor with him, to chase him and wrestle with him, to not have to worry about getting hit in the stomach on accident, to be able to pick him up and love on him.  I hate it.  I'll be glad to get to feel like I'm 'fun' to him again.  

      Overall, I feel pretty helpless.

      And to top it all off, I'm not certain that Bryton's not getting a fever.  Let's pray he isn't... I don't know that I can handle any sickness around here... really... I don't.

      35 1/2 weeks, which means i could possibly have 4 1/2 more.  Praying for a reason to for sure be guaranteed no more than 3 1/2 more.  (And yes, I'd jump on the idea of an induction at this point.)  Better yet, I'm sure I can't be this lucky since everything else has been different during this pregnancy, I'd take anything past 37 weeks like Bryton was.  Please.

      I have my first exam tomorrow... I almost want to pass all together, if she's anything like Bryton I won't see any progress until I walk into the hospital after my water breaks, and I need some positive news at this point.

      Oh, and to top off the day, Bryton got into the stuff on our hutch (where he isn't supposed to be) and broke my brand new (favorite) sunglasses today.  That was when the crying started... 

      So there's my vent... now for the kinda funny story:

      Anyone who knows me knows I'm an avid list maker.  Without my lists, especially now with so much going on and pregnancy brain on top of it, I'd never accomplish everything I needed and would constantly forget things.  With Ansley just around the corner, I have several different lists right now (instead of my usual 'To Do List').  I have my To Do List, then I have a list of date ideas for Aaron and I throughout the year, then I have a list of To Do items for after Ansley gets here, and I have a list of what needs to be packed in my hospital bag.  

      As I was packing the said hospital bag this morning, I was going down the list and marking things off and this is what I saw:

      Ansley Baby Book
      Ansley picture outfit
      Clothes for me (then a list of all of these said clothes)
      Camera, Video camera
      Phone Chargers
      Toiletries, Hair dryer, etc
      Change of clothes for Aaron
      Excedrin for Aaron
      (then in Aaron's handwriting I see listed) Goggles / Long Underwear

      Bahahahaha!  Seems like Aaron didn't read what the list was for and just assumed it was my "To Do" list, that usually has items that need bought listed on it, and jotted his needs for skiing last weekend down on the hospital bag list.  OR - maybe he thinks those goggles and long underwear may come in handy in the delivery room :)  It was enough to get a smile out of me this morning, and that took a lot today.  


      Thursday, February 3, 2011

      John Piper's Definition

      It seems like the more I try to learn and understand faith and God and Biblical principles, the more I understand that I'm not going to get it anytime soon.  In fact, I'd venture to say I'll never understand it during this life as we know it.  I've come to grips with that.  In fact, I rather like the idea of a Creator God knowing more than I do.  Who would God be if He didn't? 
      That being said, I've been thinking a lot lately about how to walk out this thing we call 'faith.'  (Specifically in reference to a faith in Christ Jesus.)  What does that really look like in this day of time, age, culture, etc?  Do I really have that great of an influence on the 'faith' of my children?  And if so, how do I maximize that influence?  This is not a decision I want to make for them (as we cannot make this decision for our children, unfortunately), but a decision I want them to make because they see Jesus as a man to be loved, respected, and glorified.
      And in the same turn as struggling with the faith of my own children (in whom I pray for everyday that God will allow their eyes to be quickly opened and their hearts to be quickly turned towards Him) I struggle with where youth ministry sits at this moment. 
      I long for the time of large numbers and great spiritual depth within the group.  I long for a time where lessons were prepared and delivered, rather than now where they are only delivered on the occasional showing of students.  And it makes us ask, 'what are we doing wrong?' and, 'how do we fix it?' 
      And it's taken months to try to figure it out, but I finally figured something out about myself.  There is pride laced all the way through those comments.  Assuming that I an do anything to 'fix' youth ministry is assuming that I had something to do with the large numbers and spiritual depth in the group that existed many years ago.  And it's not. about. me.  Sure, He utilizes us as tools and vessels to share the love and faith of Christ, but ultimately He is in the heart changing business, and though I'll still ask, "Lord, what is it that you'd have us do," I refuse to arrogantly assume that I or Aaron, either one, control a student's falling in love with Jesus or not. 
      And then this got me thinking as well, mostly because our good friend Adam quoted John Piper yesterday over lunch and my thoughts and his following comment both gripped me.  The quote was in reference to Revelation 3:16, which is God telling the complacent 'Christians' out there, that because they are lukewarm (neither hot nor cold), that He would spit them out of His mouth.  The quote was basically John Piper's definition of lukewarm: praying before meals and before bed. 
      You won't believe what my first thoughts were.  I'm more than ashamed to admit them, honestly, but for the sake of you seeing my heart in this post, I'll share them.  My thought immediately was, "Well, we do those things," as if being lukewarm was the goal to be achieved.  Adam's next line stomped my thought to pieces and left me feeling more than convicted: "How many of us aren't even doing that?"
      It was more than stepping on toes, and it made me stare, blank in the face, at where we've found ourselves with faith today.
      A short little side story and I"ll wrap this all up:  I've been also dealing with a set of scripture in Deuteronomy, in fact, pretty much the Old Testament as a whole.  Something I've learned more and more here recently about the family dynamic in the Old Testament is that history was a cherished thing to these families.  They were interested in their ancestry, genealogy and ultimately, what part their family played in history.  Stories were passed down by word of mouth, and they were spoken of often.  (Must have been much easier without televisions, cell phones, macbooks, ipods, facebook, and the 1,000,000 other distractions we have now.)  In the midst of this sharing, parents and grandparents and great grandparents (come on, these people lived forever), passed on to children their faith.  It was the ultimate in the, "Son, your great, great, great, great grandfather served in Pharaohs house.  His name was Joseph.  Let me tell you about him," kind of story.  Which I must admit, with genealogy so saturated with the evident hand of God, I'd be pretty stoked to share my genealogy with my children too!  And that was just the thing!  Family shared with the children how they had already been a part of God's plan!  Not out of duty of praying before a meal, but out of sheer passion and excitement that God had used or worked in their family evidently over a long course of time!  Children could see that God was faithful, true, everlasting... GOOD!  He wasn't a being to be acknowledged once on Sunday and in our sleep time before bed.  He was not the good Santa Claus who we asked upon to provide us with more stuff, He was the being in whom to be thankful too, to be in awe of, to have reverence for, to boast about.  He wasn't a part of life to these Old Testament believers, He was all of their lives!
      And now we have Jesus to look to and what is there not to be passionate about?!  What is there to be lukewarm about?  Do we just not get it?  Is it that much of a task for us to open up God's word to learn about and read about what God has done in the life of our ancestors?  Is it too much to ask to believe in God to respond to us today?  How many times does God show up evident in our own lives, and do we notice?  And if we do, how passionately are we sharing it with our children?!
      Who knows, maybe it's time or some other lame excuse that keeps us from passionately pursuing God with all of our hearts (to be noticed and questioned by our children), all I know is that the greatest legacy I can leave with my children is that I loved God evidently in the way I talked, lived, acted and reacted, in service and in deed, that Jesus was ultimate in my life.  And as a believer, saved by the blood of Christ, forever indebted and grateful, why would I not be passionate about my Lord?  My being 'hot', as opposed to lukewarm, should not be something I have to work very hard at accomplishing.  Really realizing what Jesus has done for us is the thermostat... when we get it, the temperature goes up and the overflow is felt by those around us, including our children...
      Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is a set of verses referred to as 'Shema' for the Jewish.  It says this:  

      “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.  And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today.  Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.   Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
      Some practicing Jews today still write this verse, literally, on their walls and in their homes to remember their ancestry, what their lives are all about.  It's a point back to God and where He has brought them.   It is a call to holy living and sharing based on the passion for their God and for the sake of their children.  I plan on putting these exact verses in my own house for the same reason.

      It makes me wonder; though God is in the heart-changing business, if we, as parents, passionately lived out our faith in such a way that our children saw the authenticity of our passion and love for Jesus, would they be more apt to show interest in it themselves?  I mean how many passionate Steeler fans raise passionate Steeler children.   I'd say a lot of them.  

      Maybe the problem isn't with our children or our students, maybe it's with us, the generation God placed before them to repeat his commands again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up.   Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders.  Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
      But yet - we pray before meals and before bed.  Well, some of us do. 
      Maybe I'm really tired of being lukewarm. 

      Tuesday, February 1, 2011

      February 1st

      Our first month of our new year is gone.  Isn't it crazy how time flies?  So February 1st brings up a whole slew of things for me to think about.  Here's some that may pertain to you:
      • New Year's Resolutions (or in our case, goals).  How are those going for you?  Us, well, let's just say we've done a whole lot of 'catching up' on our Bible plan and very little every day reading, not to mention I did not take one picture... I'm not kidding, not one, of Bryton in the month of January, which of course means I need to get on it with Aaron and I as well.  (Get ready, babe.  I'm tired of having no pictures with just us in them.)  Dates went well in January, Aaron doesn't know it yet but we're going to discuss dates tonight for the upcoming month  I'm wanting 2011 to be a year where our marriage gains some much needed romance (even with kids) and fun! :)  So my short term goal is to get through February doing more Bible reading on the day we are supposed to and less catching up, and taking lots more pictures this month.  (Bryton, on the other hand, is doing awesome with his yearly goals.  I set my aspirations too low, with help he can already count to ten and he's starting to get his colors down.  I'm going to have to revamp his goals for the year... we still have 11 months left.)
      • Valentine's day is just. around. the. corner.  Aaron and I usually decide if we want to 'do something' or 'get something' with our Valentine's day budget.  This year we've basically decided to 'do something,' but to get something small (we each have a $10 limit) to actually give to each other on Valentine's Day.  (Since it's on a Monday this year, we obviously won't be spending the day out on Monday, so we have to celebrate somehow on Valentine's day ;)  A $10 limit means you have to be creative with the 'gift'.  I love being able to be sentimental and mushy occasionally, and although some people are anti-Valentine's day, I embrace any day that honors love, so my $10 gift is about $5 spent so far and I've used my creativity to stretch it that far.  We'll see how the rest goes ;)  I'd love to hear all of your frugal Valentine's day ideas!  
      And here's one that probably doesn't apply to you:
      • Holy cow, our daughter will be here very soon!  I'm not even sure how to look at it at this point.  With Bryton, whose due date was November 18th (originally November 23rd), I was hoping for early, but I never expected him to be over 2 weeks early!  So now, I don't know what to expect with Ms. Ansley.  I even asked the dr. about it who basically said the same thing.  We have to be prepared for her to come early, being my history, but there's no guarantee she won't make it 40 weeks.  (Which an induction has already been mentioned for week 39 so that is encouraging. :)  So that being said, it is quite possible our daughter may appear within this month at some point.  (I'm personally praying for February 28th.  I don't know why, I think it'd make a cool birthday.)  It's also possible, now, that everyday I could say, "a month from now I could be having a baby."  Craziness!  I'll be 35 weeks this Saturday.  Bryton was born in his 37th week.  Whew! 
      So there you have it folks.  It's February, what's going on in your family?