Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Birthday Blessing

Zeke and his buddy Sam were born eight days apart, so for the past couple of years, we've combined forces to celebrate these two little dudes. Yesterday's celebration was so much fun for all of us, but I as I reviewed my pictures from the event, I felt a nudge in my spirit to confer blessing to these two little ones who will one day grow up to be great men of God. So in that spirit...

Sam and Zeke: May you be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. (Isaiah 61:3)

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus (Romans 15:5)


May the joy of the Lord be your strength. (Nehemiah 8:10)



May your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16)


May you live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble (I Peter 3:8)


May you rejoice in the Lord always...

...again I say, rejoice! (Philippians 4:4)

Friday, February 26, 2010

His appearance


"...His appearance is like Lebanon, choice as its cedars." Song of Songs 5:15

Doing the stuff of life without leaning fully into God causes my heart to grow cold and weary. I lose sight of Love. But this morning, after praying for a fresh revelation of Jesus, it all came together for me like the ending of some kind of M. Night Shyamalan movie.

The friends huddled around the wooden benches of Herby K's for Jack's birthday had been a sign of the glad heart of God who loves us and celebrates with us.

The help at work that I hadn't even asked for was a beautiful gesture of the Lord's heart to provide for me- even when I don't ask for help.

The cheery and funny encouragement from two sweet co-workers and friends was another reminded me of the way in which Jesus smiles us along, encouraging us with His love.

The text from my cousin asking me how she could pray reminded me of Jesus' intercessory Spirit that is active on behalf of a weak and struggling me.

Words of encouragement and love had been flying at me from all directions.

And then, all kinds of Light broke through- even on a very rainy and dreary morning- when I received a message from my friend who is living Love in London. Her heart was another revelation of the beautiful countenance of Jesus.

"Even those who have little acquaintance with Christ, cannot but see amiable beauty in others who bear his image." Matthew Henry from an excerpt from his commentary on Song of Songs, chapter five.

One Day, we will see Jesus in all His glory and beauty. How I LONG for that Day! But for now, I see Him revealed in beautiful ways through those who love Him. Thanks, friends.

"May his love constrain us to live his glory." Matthew Henry

And to add to Henry's admonition and blessing, may all of our eyes be opened to the revelation of Jesus that can come even in the ordinary moments of life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thirty-three years of Jack



Tomorrow night, our little family's three day long celebration of my husband's thirty three years on planet Earth will culminate at Herby K's with fried shrimp and Chimay (well, at least for him). So, in the spirit of the week's celebrations, here's to you, Jack!

May tomorrow's celebrations leave you with a heart that's free and full. May you know the Love that surrounds you and goes before you.
May your soul be overwhelmed with unexplainable peace and other-worldly joy.

You were created with and for such profound purpose.

Here's to the next thirty-three and beyond!

With great love,
Your biggest fan

PS- I love yo' style.

pictured: Jack circa 1981 (kinda looks like Zeke with hair, huh?)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Glatituding

I don't know if I'm completely breaking Gretchen's Glatitude rules, but I thought I would join in and tell you about ONE thing I'm really glad about today. And I can sum it up in one word:

Bubbles.

As a pediatric physical therapist, a huge part of my job is getting kids to do hard stuff without realizing that they're doing hard stuff. It's not easy.

But today, almost every baby was wow-ed and every toddler's fit was redirected when my oh-so-sweet tech (God bless her soul) wielded our frothy secret weapon.

Today, I'm ever so grateful for bubbles. Floaty, slimy, messy, tiny bubbles. Oh... and the smiles they magically unveil.



Monday, February 22, 2010

Third Trimester Blues

Disclaimer: I'm actually feeling pretty well and had a good day today as I welcome week 28 of this pregnancy, but this kind of thing is what I come up with while I'm in the shower or folding laundry. So, in an effort to amuse myself, I bring you my pregnancy blues song.





THE THIRD TRIMESTER BLUES

Woke up this morning (da na na na na- you get the idea)
'Cause my baby done kick
My back was a hurtin'
And I thought I might be sick

I tell ya

It's third trimester and I'm
growin' every day
Got the huge belly blues that just
just won't go away...


Feel the heartburn a comin'
Can't put on my shoes
Contractions are steady
Got the third trimester blues

'Cause sister,

It's third trimester and I'm
growin' every day
Got the huge belly blues that just
just won't go away...

Gotta go to the bathroom
Out-a my way please
Ain't nothing compared to
What happens when I sneeze

I'm saying,

It's third trimester and I'm
growin' every day
Got the huge belly blues that just
just won't go away...

Will it ever be over?
Have I lost my mind?
Will I ever recover?
Is this baby really mine?

I'm cryin' one minute
The next I'm okay
The next I'm a laughin'
I ain't got no more to say

Oh, baby,

It's third trimester and I'm
growin every day
Got the huge belly blues that just
just won't go away...


Ha ha! I love you, baby boy! I know it will be all worth it!

(and as an aside, the picture is of Zeke right before he was due to come out- I haven't been on the other side of a camera lately)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Chocolate Chips and Parenting Tips

The other night, when my five-year-old came out of her bed to tell me one more thing before she went to sleep, I was almost caught red handed eating chocolate chips out of the bag while in bed. Anna Grace knows I would never allow her to do such a thing. So I quickly shoved the bag under the covers and put on my most innocent mommy face.

Hmmm...

There are so many things that I'm trying to teach Anna Grace. It's probably not a huge deal that I gave in to a temptation to eat chocolate in bed. I really even felt at the time that it was the only thing that was going to make me feel better. But isn't that the point? Shouldn't I know better than to turn to chocolate to make me feel better rather than to exercise a little self-control and deal with the heart-level issues that were driving this craving instead?

My daughter will certainly "catch" me in the proverbial chocolate-chips-in-bed-type scenario again. I will certainly fail to be the perfect example of the godly woman that she should aim to be. But there was a lesson for me in that moment. Just as I try to teach Anna Grace self-control and love and kindness and peace and patience because I love her, the Lord urges me on to the same because He loves me.

He doesn't withhold from me, He just knows what's best for me.

Just like I know what's best for my daughter.

Parenting and its real-life lessons of God's love for us never cease to amaze me.

Five of this weekend's beautiful things


1. The first little celebration of Jack's 33rd year started with a little lasagna, a little ice cream, and a lot of love, wisdom, and encouragement from our dear friend Kathy. I'm very thankful to have Skype to keep us in touch, but a real life visit is something to savor.

2. A picnic at the park with our three cousins. The kids ran around in the sunshine like the pack of buddies that they are. I think we all had a blast just being together.

3. Zeke's heart. If he doesn't know you, he's not going to give you the time of day (and we're working on that), but he made his little heart of love known to me this weekend. He carried a baby around with him for much of Saturday, bringing the baby to me and having me pat the baby or feed the baby or put the baby to sleep. I think he's excited about his baby brother to come.



4. Did I mention the weather was absolutely beautiful? There was grilling and flip flops and bike riding and soaking up some sunshine in the backyard.


It was truly a beautiful thing.


5. The promise of the spring to come as the daffodils in my backyard are in full bloom. This one's for a certain gardening heart in Kansas City that has seen way too much snow. Spring will come, friend!

All in all, so much beauty did my heart well after a tough week. I'm certainly thankful for the refreshment that I know came from a God who loves me so well.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Krewe of Krazy




William and Zeke decided that they needed to climb up to the top bunk, throw beads, and repeat "Happy Birthday, Mardi Gras!" over and over and over.



On Ash Wednesday.

And we didn't go to a single parade this year.

If only my video camera wasn't on the fritz.



It was quite the sight.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Finding purpose in the groans of our hearts



Sometimes the hard things of life direct us to remember that life as it is is not as it should be or what it was created to be. Being disillusioned and broken reminds us that there will be a great Repair and Renewal at the end of the Day.

The past several days have been hard ones. I feel a little sheepish even admitting that I've felt like I've suffered considering the nature of my plush life in America. Hormonal imbalances, busyness, the aches and pains of pregnancy, and fatigue have nothing on what my brothers and sisters worldwide are enduring.

Even so, what I'm taking away from the past few days of being down and out is that every tear we shed and every hurt we endure can remind us of that inward groan that comes from that deep desire of our heart.

Romans 8:22-23 "We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies."

Things are looking up. I'm still tired and I still have too much to do and not enough time to do it. I'm getting more uncomfortable by the day. It's a struggle to choose joy from moment to moment, but I'm trying to remember to look for the beauty and love around me that whispers words of the redemption to come and not to the circumstances weighing me down.

I don't want to forget this lesson He's been teaching me this past week. One Day, life on Earth won't be such a struggle. Until then, my struggles can remind me of my profound NEED for Him and His ever present help in trouble.

For now, I can wallow in my tears or I can let them water my heart's cry for Jesus and His return. More and more, I'm trying to choose the latter.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Things that I thought

I thought it would be great fun to go to the Fort Worth Zoo for Zeke's birthday since we were all together and out of school and work for President's Day. I THOUGHT it would be great fun.

That's what I thought.


I didn't think about it being so cold that I would actually wear Anna Grace's Snuggie through the zoo gates.

I didn't think about it being so cold that the flamingos would look more like huddled statues.



I didn't think about it being so cold that there would still be snow on the ground.

Or that the cashier selling us tickets would tell us that 80% of the animals wouldn't be out today.

Or that we would just keep passing signs and wistfully say "that's where the [hippo, rhino, lion, etc.] would usually be."

Or that 5 of the 7 of us who went would end up crying (and there were three adults and four kids- you do the math and figure out which adult ended up a little weepy because her birthday boy was cold and crying and saying that he didn't like the zoo).

I didn't think about that.

But, among some other things, Fort Worth's Mellow Mushroom pizza delivered a little redemption to the day.


In fact, it ended up being a pretty good birthday for my little man. He got to see two tigers, he got free ice cream at Sonic, he got to play and run and laugh with all his cousins, he got to eat lots and lots of pepperoni pizza (his favorite) and he got to be carried by his daddy all over Fort Worth's very cold and very deserted zoo.

It was good.

We've kind of started a little family tradition of always watching our kids' birth video on their birthday, so after we rolled into town late this afternoon, we popped in Zeke's video and began our annual viewing.

Jack had edited Zeke's birth video to start with the first verses from the book of Ezekiel. Before the scene opened on my big pregnant belly, the blue screen read:

"...There the hand of the Lord was upon him." Ezekiel 1:3

As we sat huddled on the couch watching Zeke's birth story unfold, I rubbed that little fuzzy head sitting next to me and thanked God for the hand of the Lord being upon Him. More than anything, on his birthday, I pray that the blessing for Zeke is that the hand of the Lord would remain on him. He was clearly on him during his birth and I pray that for now and always, the hand of God would rest on my child- leading him, protecting him, encountering him, and loving him perfectly and fully in the way only God can.

So happy birthday, my sweet boy. We love you and we pray this blessing over you tonight.

Sorry about the cold.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Baby dreams




Quite possibly my favorite baby update on my pregnancy flip calendar so far.

What could he be dreaming about in there?

Amazing.

Beauty on display

Acts 16:14 "One of those listening was a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul's message."

Just like the Lydia of Paul's day, my friend Lydia's heart has been opened. The love and grace and hope that resides in that place is evident and real. Even though she wouldn't have chosen this detour on the road of adoption of her baby girl, she is not afraid. She is persevering in love and truth.

It's true beauty on display for the world to see. Thanks be to God.

Friday, February 12, 2010

It really happened

I know you're probably sick of all the hullabaloo, but we got snow and I feel the need to document this momentous occasion.

We also came up with some really interesting play-in-the-snow outfits.


And we made our own humble little snowman.

It was pretty fun.

Even though we really don't have the gear for such activities.



By 8:00, we had to come back in and play with our rainforest animals.

In our most inappropriate-for-the weather-outfit.

But we did get out later on and saw snowmen at about every other house.

Like I said, it is a momentous occasion...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Ruminations De Jour

Romans 6:13 "Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness."


I read this passage this morning and thought of this picture I had taken of Zeke's sweet toes the other day. I actually took about 20 pictures of Zeke, but caught his toes in the process.

The connect for me today? I am really to use my voice to speak words of life and truth, to use my hands for His purposes, to make sure my eyes gaze on what He would have me look upon, to use my brain's neural connections for good, and to literally walk where He would have me go. It's not just my mind and my soul and my heart that matter to God- it's the "all my strength" part, too. He cares about what I do with this body that He has given me- the very body that will experience resurrection life before it's all said and done. It matters what goes in this body, how I take care of it or neglect it, and how I house the Spirit of God that has been given to me as a deposit. I should love Him with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength. And it's not just my mental muscle we're talking about.

Sometimes when I'm running and praying and singing or when I'm physically serving or when I'm physically where I need to be, I can sense the connect.

Like the title suggests, it's something I've been pondering today.

Okay, so maybe for a while now.

See ya, metaphysical dualism. [Insert wink here as I plug my friend's awesome new website]

The whole thing seems easy and obvious. Of course our bodies are important to God. But Platonic thought is sneaky. I haven't always thought of this vessel as holy.

Can the offering of my hands and feet really be as important as the ones of my heart?

Turns out, they are instruments of righteousness.

Now to use them as such...

What novelty!













I know you guys up north are WAY over it, but to wake up in Shreveport, Louisiana to snow is quite unusual. Not that it's going to accumulate or even dust the ground, but Anna Grace was delighted and I've got to admit- it's beautiful and different.

And they didn't even cancel school. Imagine that!!!!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Prayer for Haiti

I don't tweet on Twitter because I find this blog is a sufficient medium in which I can express myself. Between Facebook and email and other's blogs and my cell phone (although I don't use that last one very often- sorry), I feel I'm sufficiently connected to those that I love. But since I can't "retweet," and yet I still want to direct others to something important, I'm linking today to Anderson Cooper's thoughts on returning to Haiti and a sister in Christ (whom I have never met but have been keeping up with on her blog) who has been serving the Lord in Haiti and has recently returned to America to regroup.

Because even though it's been almost a month, it's still important to keep the hurting people of Haiti in the forefront of our hearts and prayers and efforts. The suffering isn't over.

Pray with me.

Lord, come to those suffering in Haiti today. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate [them] from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39) Even this devastation cannot separate them from your love. Minister to hurting hearts like Tara's as they wrestle their way through the tough questions of faith. Meet the physical needs and comfort those like the quarantined 20 year old girl with TB that I saw on CNN last night who is homeless and alone. Let us in America not stop in praying and giving to those who could never even dream of sitting on a Tempurpedic mattress and typing on a computer. Put justice on our hearts. Let us cry out for You to come and make all things new and right again. Lord, come!

You are faithful and your love endures forever.

Thank You for Your great mercy and for hearing us as we cry out to You.

Amen.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Google and Love stories

I didn't catch a lot of the Superbowl ads because I was too busy eating Jennifer's delicious jalapeno and black eyed pea dip and chatting with my buddies and making sure the kids didn't eat their weight in brownies, so Jack told me about his favorite Superbowl ad this year. Actually, he told me to google it and then he told me to blog about it. My husband doesn't often give me any kind of feedback or suggestions about blogging, so my skepticism was mixed with intrigue.

Until I watched the ad on You Tube.

Partly because I'm tired and partly because I'm pregnant and partly because I'm just really grateful for the love I've been given, I got pretty misty.

So, Jack, this one's for you- an early Valentine to the one I love.

Without you,

... I would have rocks in my bathroom sink and squirrels in my house
... I would never get a movie returned on time
... I would never get my daily dose of laughter
... I would be severely lacking in book and music and radio show recommendations
... I would never know the joy of knowing your heart that is strong and loving and fun

Without you, I think I'd feel like someone cut off a part of me.

I love you.

My funny valentine.

This post's for you.


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Echos of glory

I grew up singing hymns. In my extended family, there were enough hymnals to go around, enough piano players to take turns, and enough classically-trained, beautiful voices to make our family hymn sings fun even for a wild-hearted teenager. As a musical style, what is currently termed "traditional" worship music is part of my DNA.

Experientially, however, I have had the deepest and most authentic-feeling encounters with God while singing to Him with a band- whether it was with a group of thousands singing "My Glorious" or with a small group of friends, hearing whispers from God about His heart for us over an acoustic guitar. I run faster and farther with Misty Edwards or David Crowder or Charlie Hall streaming through my ipod. Their musical styles stir my soul.

Recently, our family has had to start attending our church's "traditional worship service," only due to the logistical nature of life with small children. The switch has been hard for me, having participated in corporate worship in such a different genre for so long, but as we were singing Malotte's arrangement of "The Lord's Prayer" today, it suddenly struck my heart that the core of the issue is not whether one is more reverent or more relevant than the other. What I knew at that moment was that both kinds of music leave me wanting for more. The echos of the organ leave a groan in my heart that calls out for more. The multi-colored stage lights of a worship band remind me that there's more to worship than just a show.

What my heart yearns for, I have not yet seen, I have not yet heard, and I have not yet sung. But I still yearn and I cannot be satisfied until I see Jesus return. I know that this yearning of my heart comes from a holy longing to see Him exalted and worshiped as the HOLY and WORTHY Lamb of God.

Everything else just seems like an echo.

I have no doubt that at times, we can start to really perceive the reality of the heavenly realm that surrounds and indwells our worship. I have no doubt that most of the time, we're blind to this glorious reality because of our own complacency and ignorance and dull-mindedness. Our worship is just an empty echo when we don't worship with our hearts, but it becomes an echo resounding with glory and truth when we open ourselves to the Spirit of God that so freely and graciously invades our world when we let it. We can move from dullness and boredom to glory and freedom when we engage the Spirit, but still- we wait for Him to come again.

What do we do in the meantime? I think the answer lies in embracing all forms of worship. We engage our hearts to encounter Him whether we're singing "Jesu, Joy of Man's Desire" in an enormous and ornate sanctuary or sweating to "Fling Wide" at the gym or singing "Bullfrogs and Butterflies" with our children in the car or serving a friend in need or forgiving someone who has hurt us or giving to the poor of the earth or pouring our hearts out in prayer.

It may be just an echo for now, but soon, our eyes and ears will be opened to the glorious reality of King Jesus and his amazing, unfathomable love and grace.

We can echo that for now.

And for now, the Spirit and the Bride say Come. (Rev. 22:17)

More than I could have ever imagined

I'll never forget the day that I found out that Anna Grace was a girl. It kind of rocked my world because for whatever reason, I had always kind of thought that I was destined for a house full of boys. But the Lord has really knocked my socks off with this little blessing. Just in the past week, we've had muffins with mom at school (for which she was extremely excited), shopped for magnetic earrings and fancy shoes (at Payless), ate gumballs, had fun on an escalator, danced together, prayed together, and talked about everything. I was thinking about the big picture yesterday of having a this precious girl. It has been way more than I could have ever imagined.

After church today, Anna Grace served me lunch on the couch. The menu at "The Best Restaurant with the Yummiest Food" includes cereal, PB&J, a peanut butter bun, or a turkey sandwich with cheese. I highly recommend the turkey sandwich and the service was impeccable. The manager told me to "come back anytime after the baby is born." Awesome.

She also told me that she has a small, soft spot in her heart for the baby and a medium-sized spot in her heart for Zeke that's filled with Lightning stuff: Lightning trucks, Lightning toys, Lightning flashlights, Lightning clothes, but most of all, Lightning Love.

I love love love this little girl.

Thank you, Lord, for entrusting her to me and Jack for what seems like a short time that's starting to fly by. I know she'll be flying the nest before I can blink an eye, but it's been an amazing blessing just being her mom. It's more than I could have ever imagined.