Monday, November 19, 2012

Page CXVI Lullabies

We are LOVING this CD!  It's the perfect "dance your baby to sleep" music.  Our focus group (a.k.a. Emma) approves!  ;-)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our Rock of Ages

I've always been a big reader, but since becoming a mama to our sweet Emma, I'm almost exclusively a bathroom reader.  That makes it kind of difficult to have any sort of a quiet time.  Until I took this book down from our shelves.

I can't tell you how wonderful it's been!  I've marked so many pages, knowing that there will come days in the future when they'll be needed again.  Today, I'd like to share one devotion with you.  It's one that was timed perfectly (of course), as I had just gone through an intense desire to turn to friends for advice.  The Holy Spirit had convicted me that all I needed was God & so helped me overcome that desire.  On the heels of that, I came to this exhortation.  May you find it as timely as I.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.
- Psalm 118:8

No doubt the reader has been tempted to rely upon the things that are seen instead of resting alone upon the invisible God.  Christians often look to man for help & advice & so spoil the noble simplicity of their reliance upon God.  Does this evening's passage meet the eye of a child of God who is filled with anxiety?  Then let us reason with you.  You trust in Jesus, & only in Jesus, for your salvation; then why are you troubled?  "Because of my great care."  Is it not written, "Cast your burden upon the Lord"?  "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer & supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."  (Phil. 4:6)  Can you trust God for your physical needs?  "Ah!  I wish I could."  If you cannot trust God with the physical, how dare you trust Him with the spiritual?  Can you trust Him for your soul's redemption, & yet not rely upon Him for a few lesser mercies?  Is God not enough for your need, or is His all-sufficiency too narrow for your wants?  Do you need another to watch for you when you have Him who sees every secret thing?  Is His heart faint?  Is His arm weary?  If so, seek another God; but if He is infinite, omnipotent, faithful, true, & all-wise, why do you run around seeking another confidence?  Why do you scour the earth to find another foundation when this is strong enough to bear all the weight that you can ever build on it?  Christian, do not mix your wine with water; do not tarnish the gold of faith with the dross of human confidence.  Wait only upon God, & let your expectation be from Him.  Do not covet Jonah's gourd but rest in Jonah's God.  Let the sandy, shaky foundations be the choice of fools; but you, like one who sees the approaching storm, build for yourself an abiding place upon the Rock of Ages.

Morning and Evening, C.H. Spurgeon, March 7 evening

Monday, August 13, 2012

God Loves Me

I've been feeling a lot lately that God couldn't possibly love me.  The words coming out of my mouth (& therefore my heart) have been awful, I've had anger in my heart (which often comes out as impatience with Michael), & my affections toward God have been cold & distant.  Nothing whatsoever to love, & plenty to hate.  It's kind of a hopeless feeling, believing that God doesn't love you.  All of a sudden, it came to me this morning that there has never been anything worth loving in me, & yet God always has & chose to save me.  Not because of who I am or what I've done, but because of who He is & what His Son has done.  I didn't do anything to earn God's love, but He freely bestowed it upon me while I was His enemy.  What makes me think that I can do anything to earn His love now that I'm His child?  Or lose it?

God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by His blood, much more shall we be saved by Him from the wrath of God.  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life.  ~Romans 5:8-10

Sunday, July 8, 2012

On Fifty Shades & Magic Mike

For days now, I have been troubled.  Michael came home one morning & asked me if I wanted to go see a movie.  There are several that I'd like to see . . . if they're still out, that is!  I've been completely taken up with Emma & haven't had much time to be on the computer, so I hardly know what's happening in the world, much less at the movies!  So, I wasn't familiar with the title of the movie he asked about, one that several women that he works with have been excitedly discussing.  "Magic Mike", he says, & I (in my ignorance) think it's a movie about magicians, perhaps along the line of "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", which I enjoyed.  (I've always been a fan of fantasy.)  In answer to my queries, he tells me that it's a movie about male strippers.  (Ummm, sorry, what?  He obviously asked if I wanted to see it in jest.)  I've now seen a few posts on Facebook regarding this movie, & I'm disturbed that women who profess the name of Christ are raving about this movie.  Just as disturbed as I have been by those Christian women who have devoured Fifty Shades of Grey.  In a word, it's unfathomable to me that we would so casually immerse ourselves in such things, sins for which Jesus - whom we profess to love & follow - bore the wrath of God & died in our place.  Unfortunately, I don't have time to lay out all of my thoughts on Christians consuming this material - Emma's sleeping between feedings, & I have precious little time before the next one.  Thankfully, this topic is now being taken head-on by others much more gifted with the pen than I, so I'll steer you in their direction.  My main request is that we, as children of Father God & co-heirs with His Son Jesus Christ, would take the time to not only read these posts but to also search His Word for direction before diving into these perversions of His good gift of sex (as experienced as an expression of love between a husband & wife, a distinction that is apparently sorely needed.)

"God has always set apart His people from the rest of the world.  You don't have to look far to see somebody doing something that demonstrates they have little regard for the Lord if not an outright hatred for Him.  And you shouldn't have to look far to see somebody doing something that demonstrates their love for Christ!  The problem I have is when those lines are blurred because people who love Christ are doing things that are no different than those who hate Him.  When people who are "born again" (which is an objective thing, not a subjective one) participate in sexual immorality, it is like telling the world, "No, Scripture isn't true.  I know it says that a child of God looks like this, but I am a child of God and I don't look like that, so Scripture must be wrong."  I'm sorry but this is a lie. God does not lie. Now please do not get me wrong.  We all sin.  There isn't one of us who is without blame.  But there is a difference between battling our flesh and participating in something willfully with so much pleasure as to rejoice and share it with others, tempting them to do the same!" ~The Believer's Rest

"Christian women need to reject both of these works, and instead, use our voices in support of what is good, right and true. It is our responsibility, as daughters of the Heavenly King, to remain set-apart from the poisons of our culture, to rebuke temptation, and to celebrate and honor righteousness." ~Melissa Jenna

For further links, see the end of the above-mentioned post.

One final word, if I may.  Please do not take my words (or those of the ladies above) as self-righteous judgment.  We all sin, & we all therefore need correction & guidance from those who love us enough to tell us the truth & point out our errors.  That is the spirit in which all of these words is meant, & I pray they are received as such.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Emma Claire's Coming Sooner!

Our little ladybug is doing so great!  Her Mama, not so much.  Michael & I came to our OB's office for our routine 2 week check-up on Tuesday, expecting a typical office visit.  That's not exactly what happened, though.  It was our first "meet the partners" visit, which began with an incredibly elevated blood pressure - as in 180 systolic!  I laid on my side in our room waiting for a new blood pressure reading, when in walked the doctor with the news that a new reading wouldn't be necessary because he suspected that I had preeclampsia & was admitting me to the hospital right then for observation.  Stunned, overwhelmed, stressed, very upset - all of these emotions were mine.  He left the room to get things ready, & I broke down.

We've had a really great pregnancy; so far everything's gone incredibly well with both Emma's & my health!  But there have been some disappointments:  discovering that I'm Rh-negative (& had to have a shot), that I have Group-B Strep (& will have to have antibiotics during labor), & now this.  By far, this is the most serious complication that we've come up against.  The plan was for me to stay until they got the results back from a 24-hour urinalysis, which I fully expected would show that I could go home the next day & have bi-weekly monitoring from our OB.  If my protein levels had been below 1,000 mg, that is what would have happened.  Are you noticing the past tense here?  That's not how things have ended up.  My levels were 2,500 mg - nowhere near the severe preeclampsia level of 7,000+ mg, but high enough for them to keep me here.  I foresaw a home-going today, being with my furry babies, & waiting out the next 2-3 (or more, if I could push it) weeks at home.  Not so.  I'm a hospital guest for the next 2 weeks until labor is induced.  That's the newest word here.  Not only am I not going home, but I'm not even going to be allowed to wait until 37 weeks like we initially thought.  Emma will be arriving at the end of this month instead of next like we expected.  So, here's our understanding of the situation at this point:

     ~As long as nothing worsens, we will be induced on May 31.
     ~However, we're in a sort of holding pattern, watching for any worsening symptoms in my blood pressure, labs, or protein, in which case we will be induced sooner, even as soon as next week.
     ~I will not be allowed to attempt a natural beginning to labor; in other words, I will be given Pitocin from the outset.
     ~My labor will be more difficult with this pharmaceutical intervention & increases the possibility of a c-section.

Needless to say, for someone who has her heart set very firmly on a natural birth, this is a hard thing to swallow.  But, I do appreciate having the opportunity to wrap my head around these new developments.  And I have been given the chance to trust what I believe - that God is sovereign, that He loves me, that He loves Emma more than I ever could, that His plans are always best, & that He works all things to the good for those who love Him.  He's blessed us with this incredible gift of our daughter when we least expected it to His glory, & He will work her coming to His glory just the same.

One big positive is that Emma is measuring 1 week & 2 days ahead of schedule & weighs 5 lbs. 15 oz.  Now, I'm not sure how accurate these measurements are, but if they're close, then I'm not as worried about how she will do being delivered early.  Another huge positive is the hospital staff & doctors that are taking care of us.  We already adore our OB, but we have been amazed at the loving care we have received from all of the nurses here as well!  Everyone has been so incredible!  And we are so appreciative.

At this point, what we need are your prayers - & we thank the plethora of people that have already been beseeching our Lord on our behalf.  Your love, prayers, & support mean the world to us!  You have been excited for us from the beginning & have carried us through on your love, prayers, & encouragement.  Words fail to express what all of you have meant to us.  Please continue to go to God for us, especially that my condition will hold steady or improve, that Emma will be allowed to grow for as long as possible before delivery, that all will go smoothly, that a c-section will not be necessary, & that both she & I will be strong & healthy.  Thank you all for being there for us.  We love you dearly.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Be Still & Know ~ Scripture Lullabies

These songs may be lullabies, but they are most certainly for every age!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Butterfly Circus

This is a sweet short film with a beautiful redemptive theme.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Recipe of the "Week"

I did not realize it's been so long since I've introduced a new recipe!  Obviously, that must be rectified immediately!  And what better way to do that than to make homemade chicken nuggets with super healthy ingredients?  This recipe is adapted from The Eat-Clean Diet for Family & Kids, which has tons of really great recipes that are perfect for picky eaters (like me) who don't go in for gourmet cooking.  Other than doubling it (& using the whole egg rather than just the white), I only made one teensy change:  2 pinches of garlic instead of just one.  I know, I know, it's kind of reckless, but what can I say?  I love garlic.  ;-)

Crispy Chicken Bites
(a.k.a Chicken Nuggets at the Bungalow)

Ingredients (This is the original recipe; I double it for 2 lbs. of chicken):

-1 lb. chicken breasts
-1/4 c. oat bran
-1/4 c. wheat germ
-1/4 c. coarsely ground almonds
-1 T coarsely ground flax seed (my hand-held Cuisinart would not grind these little seeds, so I just threw them in as is; a coffee grinder might work if you just have to have them ground)
-1/2 tsp. sea salt
-1/2 tsp. white pepper
-2 pinches garlic powder
-1/2 c. chicken stock
-1 large egg, beaten


-Preheat oven to 400 degrees F & grease a baking sheet or casserole dish.  (I use farm-fresh butter that I melt in the dish while the oven is heating up.  The cookbook has a recipe for cooking spray, too, if you'd like to go that route.)

-Cut chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces & set aside.

-Combine dry ingredients into a large container with a tightly fitting lid & shake vigorously.

-Combine egg & chicken stock in a medium bowl.

-(Optional, but very helpful) Make an assembly line on your counter or stove top with egg mixture first, then coating mixture, then greased dish.

-Dump several pieces of chicken in the egg mixture, then dip them out & roll them one by one in the coating mixture (coating them thoroughly) & line them up on your dish.

-Once the dish is full, bake the chicken nuggets for 10-15 minutes, or until golden.

The full meal of nuggets (which need no condiments), green beans, buttered sweet corn, & smothered potatoes.  Okay, now I'm hungry!

'Poo Free's the Way to Be! ~ Week 1

Or is it?  Michael & I have spent the past week using a mixture of baking soda & water in place of our normal shampoo routine, & we'd like to share our results & thoughts on it.

Day 1 - I mixed up the baking soda/water solution last night & used it for the first time today.  Honestly, I didn't feel like it was doing much in the shower.  I have naturally oily - very oily - hair, & it definitely didn't feel clean.  I've read about the way shampoos strip your hair of its natural oils, & I know baking soda won't do this, resulting in a different feel, but I still needed it to feel more clean.  So, I asked Michael to bring the box of baking soda to me, & I proceeded to pour a little in my hand & mix it with a teeny bit of water.  I then rubbed this into my scalp & repeated the process until my whole head was covered.  I rinsed it out, & it felt better, although still not "stripped clean".  But that's to be expected.  I didn't use any conditioner (a.k.a. apple cider vinegar).  Once I combed out my (surprisingly tangle-free) hair, I ran my fingers through it & found it to be a little grippy.  I let it air dry into curls.  All day long I felt of my hair, & it felt pretty normal.  So far, so good.  

Day 2 - I took a very late evening shower today, & to be honest, I was incredibly surprised that my hair wasn't more oily!  Normally, when I go more than 24 hours between shampoos, my hair is greasy.  Not today.  It didn't really feel any different than it did when I first got out of the shower yesterday.  I followed the same "pour, mix, rub" process as yesterday with equal success, still avoiding the "conditioner".  I used the hair dryer today, & found that my hair felt & looked a lot thicker than normal.  Surprise #2!  My hair's definitely not "stripped clean", which takes some getting used to, & the texture's very different, but it seems to be fairly clean.  So far, I think I like this experiment!

Day 3 - Having taken such a late shower last night, I completely skipped washing my hair today.  Trust me, with oily hair like mine, that is not normally advised (or done)!  However, my hair doesn't really feel very different from yesterday, even though so much time has passed.  It's certainly not as oily as it normally would be - mirroring yesterday's experience!  I read that my hair will rebel for a short time by producing more oil, as it's used to having it stripped away.  I'm wondering when that's going to happen . . . & hoping it won't!

Day 4 - So, by the time I took a shower today, my hair definitely needed it!  And I was happy to find that in rinsing out the baking soda, I could feel the dirt & oil rinsing away.  It is different from the "stripped clean" feeling that shampoo gives, but I'm trying to get used to it.  I had planned on using the apple cider vinegar today, but found that I still don't need it.  My hair is still tangle-free, which is definitely not what my experience on Day 4 would be if I were using shampoo.  I let it air dry again, & still had no need for my anti-frizz spray of which I normally make use.  Typically, I need conditioner daily, but every now & then I'll skip a day.  More than that results in lots of tangles & static electricity.  My hair is also still much thicker than what I'm used to.  And I suppose I should say that Michael can't tell any difference whatsoever in his hair.  The only con I've found so far is that my "pour, mix, rub" method takes a good deal longer than simply squeezing out some shampoo & lathering up.  So far, I can deal with that!

Days 5 & 6 - There really wasn't a whole lot to add for Day 5, but today, I'm a little disenchanted with this new routine.  I haven't changed anything, but when I used the hair dryer today, I just couldn't stand how my hair felt.  Maybe the "oil rebellion" has begun; I don't know.  But I attempted to wear it down & couldn't take it for more than a couple of hours.  (And I only lasted that long because I was away from home & had no choice.)  As soon as we got home, up my hair went into a ponytail, where it doesn't bother me as much.  The amount of time it took to apply the baking soda also got on my nerves for the first time, although - to be perfectly honest - this could have been due more to pregnancy-induced sleeplessness than anything else.  This is also the first day that static electricity has reared its ugly head, which kind of surprised me since my hair is obviously retaining its own natural oils.  Needless to say, once my hair went up into a ponytail, I visited Amazon pretty quickly to research shampoos that are free of parabens but aren't overly expensive.  ;-)  I haven't given up quite yet; I'll continue this for another week & see if there's an improvement over today.  Hopefully so, because I can't just go around in a ponytail all the time!

Day 7 -  Well, today's the day I eat my words.  I just simply could not stand the oiliness of my hair, so I broke down & used shampoo.  And in doing so, I discovered that perhaps my hair over the past few days hasn't been as "normal" as I thought.  Yes, the thickness is now gone, but so is that ever-present oily feeling that could very well be my hair's normal state without the "shampoo stripping" but that I've come to realize I don't really care for very much.  Now, Michael, on the other hand, hasn't seen any real difference in his hair.  And maybe this would be my experience, too, if my hair were only an inch or so long. ;-)  But I don't think I'll be trying that any time soon, not by choice anyways.  Might it also be different if my hair fell into either the "normal" or "dry" category?  Possibly, but it's just not something I can take with this naturally oily hair.  So, it's back to shampoo for me.

Is 'poo-free the way to be?  Yes, for some people, I don't doubt that it is.  But not for this oily-headed girl!  ;-)  Well, at least I can say I tried something new, right?

*Update:  On Day 8, I asked Michael if he was still using the baking soda, & he said he used the shampoo because his hair was too oily.  Guess that shorter length didn't make much of a difference after all!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

'Poo Free's the Way to Be!

Or so we hope!  Michael & I are striving to find ways to save money.  We're not big spenders anyways, & are pretty good at finding things we can do without - such as TV & Smartphones (is that supposed to be one word?).  With Emma coming along very soon (like, 2 1/2 months soon!), there are things we want to achieve as a family, hence the desire to save more money.  We're also desirous of living a healthier lifestyle by weeding out the chemicals that we take into & put onto our bodies.  We've already made the switch from antiperspirants to a natural deodorant, from tap water to purified water, & from your typical toothpaste to fluoride-free toothpaste.  In the interest of combining both of our goals, we've decided to eschew shampoo & conditioner in favor of good ol' baking soda & apple cider vinegar.  The first time that we heard about this crazy idea was when we checked out Simple Mom.  She wrote a blog post about cleaning your hair without shampoo, & I was intrigued.  Is that even possible?  So they say, & we're giving it a whirl!  And we're gonna tell you how we like it, too.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

By This We Know Love ~ Sovereign Grace Music

One of my all-time favorite Sovereign Grace songs!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Christians & Anti-Depressants ~ My Story

I read a very good article by Russell Moore the other day regarding Christians taking anti-depressants.  I believe he gave a very thoughtful, balanced perspective on the issue - not taking the route that drugs are evil & for "weak" Christians, but also not buying into the pervasive belief that drugs are the cure-all for everything that ails us.  I posted the article on FB, which seems to me at least to have either struck a wrong chord or been offensive (or both) to a few.  I believe this is more from not reading the article carefully or - possibly - believing that only those who have undergone "professional training" have a corner on the market & may make statements regarding it.  Or, it could even be that our society is so plagued with diagnoses & syndromes that any questioning of that is not tolerated well.  Whatever the reason, I feel compelled to offer my thoughts on the subject as one who once used anti-depressants.  I don't expect my story to be everyone's story; there are always variations, so don't feel as though I'm heaping judgment upon anyone who has experienced this issue differently from myself.  However, I do think the caution in the article (that I repeat below) should be heeded.  Thanks for letting me share my experience with you.

I agree with Russell Moore when he advises that while antidepressants are necessary for physiological imbalances, situational depression may need a pharmaceutical boost, but the underlying reason for the depression still must be dealt with. In such a case, the drug is a help, but it's not a curative treatment. In taking insulin for Type I diabetes, for instance, you are treating the underlying cause of your illness rather than just the symptoms. As I said above, so are those people who have a physiological issue; but those of us who rely on said drugs to deal with the symptoms while ignoring the root cause are not ultimately helping ourselves. Some have said that when you break your leg, you need a crutch. That's a true statement; but if you break your leg & your only treatment is using crutches - meaning, you don't go to a doctor to set & cast your leg - then your leg will not heal & you will be crippled. Such is the case if you have depression caused by life's circumstances rather than physiological imbalances & your only treatment is a drug rather than dealing with the issue(s) causing the depression. My personal experience is that I was diagnosed with depression in my teens, & so off & on I took an antidepressant for years. I mainly acted out my "depression" with anger, so anytime that I started doing so, I turned to the drug to "fix" me. When my darling husband, Michael, came along, he showed me that my anger was sin (not in a condemning or accusatory way, but in love as a fellow sinner also in need of God's sanctifying grace) & I needed to confront it, not numb it. I got off the antidepressants, & with that realization - which for me has definitely proven true - I fight my sin with God's Word & prayer rather than just covering it up with a drug. Now, in my situation, the underlying cause of my anger was a fourth-grade molestation by an uncle & how some of the family dealt with it (blaming me & sweeping it under the rug). I went to counselors - even "Christian" counselors - for years & was never freed. Michael sent me a Mark Driscoll sermon on expiation & C.J. Mahaney's book Living the Cross-Centered Life, both of which applied the Gospel to my situation & freed me! I learned from Mark that not only did Christ's death cleanse me of my own sin, but also the sins committed against me (sexual abuse victims always feel dirty & at fault). I learned from C.J. that my own sin committed against our perfectly holy God was far worse than any sin someone committed against sin-filled me. Yet, God forgives me & loves me. Who am I to withhold forgiveness from anyone? I can't tell you how clean I suddenly was, how free of the bitterness & hatred! I wasn't healed because of my own prayers or faith (like some new-age Charismatic), but through the application of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. No drug could ever have done that; it would have simply continued to numb me. I've never taken an antidepressant since. That doesn't make me a stronger or better Christian. It just shows the greatness, mercy, & grace of God in the Gospel's healing power.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A Scriptural Rebuttal

I read a little religious article today that was posted on Huffington Post's website.  I thought the author made some good points, but some of what he said was quite contrary to Scripture.  I wrote out a comment, but am not comfortable with having to share my Facebook profile information with the whole world, so decided against posting it there.  However, I do still want my comment "out there", because I want to show that Scripture does, in fact, contradict some of his main points, even though he won't read this.  It will probably make more sense to you if you read his article first.

Not being a Rick Santorum fan in the least, & being repulsed by his – & other politicians’ – use of his “Christianity” for political gain, I have no problem with you calling him out.  I also have to say, “Kudos!” for pointing out the Scriptures that far too many Christians turn a blind eye to in regards to caring for the poor, widow, & orphan.  But I would like to make some observations here.  First of all, God gave His commands to His people, not to all people & not to secular governments.  OT Israel was a theocracy; there is no such thing now – not even in the U.S., where far too many Americans hold themselves as “God’s chosen people” simply because they’re American.  This being so, God’s commands are to be proclaimed by the church, not by the government.  The government’s stance of forcefully “taking from those who work to give to those who will not” is legal theft, pure & simple.  This is in no way, shape, or form living out the tenets of Scripture. (Actually, it directly contradicts Scripture as seen in 2 Thess. 3:10).  Whereas, Christians who take care of widows, orphans, & those who are legitimately poor out of an overflow of the grace & mercy they have been shown in Christ, being His hands & feet to a lost & dying world – absolutely is.  Secondly, I notice that you make liberal use of the OT when referring to such benevolent actions (& well you should), but when it comes to abortion & homosexuality, suddenly you don’t.  You also posit that there aren’t even any NT Scriptures that condemn these actions.  Even though there are plenty of Scriptures therein that do – in fact – call these things abominations.  (Ex. 20:13; Matt. 5:21; Rom. 13:9; Ps. 127:3; Eze. 23:38-39; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; 1 Tim. 1:8-11; Jude 1:6-7; Rom.1:24-32; Gen. 19)  I also notice that you quote “love your neighbor as yourself” & find it rather odd that you don’t extend this same love to the unborn child.  And, finally, Christianity is not political.  Christianity is not about Republicans versus Democrats, “Conservatives” versus “Liberals”.  Christianity is not about forcing lost people to behave in moral ways.  It’s not about finding that one Scriptural barb that you can use to prove your position & “stick it to” your opponent.  Christianity is only & always about us being depraved sinners who have been mercifully saved by the atoning life, death, & resurrection of Jesus Christ, wherein we are proclaimed righteous before God.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Baby Boyd

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Sisterly Conversations

We will know next Tuesday if M&M is Emma or Jack.  So begins today's conversation.

Beth:  So, are you going to start registering as soon as y'all find out?

Me:  Yes, but I get overwhelmed by the little things, so I'll need you to come with me.

Beth:  Oh, okay, because I was going to ask if I could come.

Me:  Um . . . you're required to come!  No "can" about it!

Good gracious!  The woman's going to be in the birthing room with Michael & me as we welcome this little one into the world, but she thought I was going to bar her from registering?!  Silly girl!  ;-)  Love you, Bethy Poo!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

'Bye, Emmy

Emmy is my pretend dog.  Not because she's not real, but because she's not mine.  But she & I like to pretend otherwise.  She routinely abandons her real home to visit ours.  She runs up our driveway to her pretend house so she can play with her pretend siblings & get love from her pretend Mama.  She runs around her pretend backyard & gobbles up Jake & Josie's food (which isn't so pretend).  She wallows on her pretend Mama's lap & shares lots of kisses while she gets a belly rub.  Sometimes she does this more than once a day.  It's an arrangement that works pretty well for us.  Except for when we have to stop pretending & I have to walk her back to her actual family.  Understandably, I guess it's an arrangement that doesn't really work all that well for them, though, because sometime this coming week, Emmy will have a new real family.  And it won't be ours.  :-(  I know it's for the best, because she could get hurt escaping all the time as she does.  And, I know why it's best that we can't have her, but my feelings for her aren't pretend, so it hurts.  I hope Emmy will be happy with her new family, but I sure will miss her visits.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Books! Books! Books!

I love to read!  Which is a good thing, because I married a man who loves to read. Loves to read as in "3 bookcases aren't enough to hold all of our books".  Loves to read as in "I don't even think 6 bookcases would do it!"  Michael brought a lot of books to our marriage - kind of like a backwards dowry, & I hit the jackpot!  And each year, we add more & more books to our inventory.  He has said more than once that he wants our children to grow up as C.S. Lewis did - surrounded by books.  I'd say we're off to a pretty good start!  ;-)  A start that we built on this past Christmas, especially at the hands of my beloved.  My goal is to read all of these new books by the end of the year.  Of course, seeing as how I'll be quite busy with our wee little bairn as Summer begins to fade into Fall, I realize I'd better get the bulk of that reading completed well before then.  So far, so good!  Here's what I've read thus far in the month of January:

This book can be read in a day if you have very few interruptions.  It's short, sweet, to the point, & brimful of biblical wisdom in all matters of family life. 

This is a poignant narrative of the erosion of the simplicities of farm life in the face of encroaching modernity from an aging widow's point of view.  It's a novel that reads more like an autobiography in some respects.  Even though it's not action-packed, I found myself reticent to put it down, it pulled me in so.  I became attached to the characters, especially Hannah.  And I was left with a sort of ache, a dull sadness over the loss of this simpler time with simpler, more homespun values where community actually meant living with your neighbors (who are really more like family) & where people worked hard at making what they had better rather than always looking for greener grass elsewhere. 

I like children's literature, & this is a good example of why.  Of course, this is an easy read & doesn't take any time to breeze through.  I would have to say that my favorite thing about this book is how the fiercely independent Mary finally comes to the understanding that she can only "do all things" (as she so loves to quote to herself) "through Christ". 

Oh, dear.  What do I say about this one?  Well, I will say that I loved it.  So much so, that I would often make note of how I wanted to quote this or that portion on this blog or Facebook.  The problem?  I would have ended up quoting the whole thing!  It's seriously that good!  Voddie doesn't leave a single stone unturned on this topic, from a biblical defense of marriage, to the qualities (based on Scripture, of course) that husbands & fathers are to have, to an explanation of the role that a father must have in helping his daughter navigate the waters of courtship & choosing a spouse, to mentoring young men into the husbands & fathers they should be, to raising your own sons to be these sorts of men, all the way down to interracial marriage.  Voddie didn't miss a thing!  But of course, the very best part of it is that this book is not his opinion or some pragmatic approach - it's thoroughly biblical!  I loved it, & judging by the pencil marks in the forms of underlining & starring, so did my beloved the first time he read it.  My final word: Get this book!

Okay, so I've already told you that we're working through this book.  We've both read through the first section laying the groundwork for a change in philosophy & purpose.  Then things got really hectic, & we've had to put the practical "cleaning out & organizing our home" part on hold.  But it's not forgotten!  As a matter of fact, if things go as we hope, we'll be putting it into high gear very soon! 

This one is ongoing as well.  But from the very first page, I was hooked.  This is kind of the opposite of Hannah Coulter; it's a biography that reads like a novel.  So far, there hasn't been an exclusive focus on Mary Bunyan.  Rather, Sallie Ford has given an in-depth picture of the climate surrounding Mary.  Her father has just been imprisoned because "he would preach the Gospel".  Her stepmother has just lost her newborn child.  She & one of her brothers make the trek to the prison as often as possible to bring food to their father.  They face judgment from people on the streets & from the assistant jailer for their "criminal" father.  But their neighbors & members of the gathering that her father led rally around them through prayer & practical help.  The text is full to bursting with Scripture, as I shared in my last post.  In short, it is a simply delightful book, not only interesting, but also edifying in the most wonderful way.

Biblical Comfort in Affliction

John Bunyan's wife, Elizabeth, has just found out that her sorrow over her husband's imprisonment is compounded by the loss of her newborn child.  She has been lamenting over her afflictions & her faith is sorely tested.  Her good neighbor, sister Harrow, strives to give biblical comfort to soothe her grieving heart.

"Well, shall we receive good at His hand & not evil?  But what has He promised, sister Bunyan?  Don't He say that all things shall work together for our good?  Think of this.  He don't say some things, or most things, but all things.  And if we are His children, we will believe what He says; we will not doubt His word; we cannot.  Look how He brought His poor old Job through all his afflictions, & made his last days his best ones.  Your troubles are not equal to his; he had everything taken from him - houses, lands, children, camels, & all his servants - & you know he had a good many, for he was a rich man.  And then he was afflicted in his own body - all covered with boils - the sorest things in the world. . . . Just think of him in all his distresses, & how God brought him through them all.  And then you will be willing to trust Him for yourself.  He was given to us as an example to follow."

"But Job was an upright man, sister Harrow, & I'm a poor, weak, sinful creature.  I don't deserve any good at God's hands.  I am so prone to forget Him.  I don't love Him as I ought to.  I don't serve Him as I should.  He ought to scourge me, I am so wicked."

"Ah, sister Bunyan, you don't think anybody deserves any good thing from God, do you?  Oh no; it is not for our good works that He loves us; it is all His own sovereign love & mercy.  Oh, I tell you we have nothing to commend us to His favor, as your dear good man said the last time he spoke at my house; & we can't do anything.  So much sin - so much sin always here in the heart - that God can't find anything in us to love us for.  It is only for Jesus' sake - only because He died.  There's our hope, sister Bunyan - nowhere else - no, no, nowhere else.  Jesus is all, all, sister Bunyan.  No merit but His.  Yes, blessed Jesus!  Thou art all, & in all; the beginning & the end . . . ."

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Noble Calling

"What does your wife do?"  Michael repeatedly has to answer this question.  Co-workers ask him.  Patients ask him.  Some people even ask him over & over, as though his answer will have changed from last week.  Sometimes it seems as though we are constantly having to defend our choice for me to stay home, even against family.  It can be exhausting, & it is most definitely frustrating.  This morning, though, Michael came home with a "what does your wife do" story that takes the cake!  A female patient posed this question, & in hearing his answer, she responded, "Well, she must not want much out of life."  I was flabbergasted!  One, just because you think something doesn't mean you need to speak it.  Second, it's astounding what a low view some people have toward the noble calling women have to be wives & mothers.

I taught school for 6 years.  Most of you know this.  By the start of my last year, my heart yearned to be home.  Thankfully, God brought along a man who had the same vision as I - a wife who took care of the home, relieving as many of her husband's burdens as possible while he provided for the family; a mother who took care of the children, training them in God's Word & educating them from home.  In short, we both wanted a home where God was the center, where the husband provided, protected, & shepherded his family, & where the wife invested in the lives of her family & worked with her husband to build a mulitgenerational legacy that brings glory to God.  By God's grace, we have been able to live this out, & neither of us see this as "settling for less".  Yes, we have chosen not to indulge in some luxuries - such as iPhones & cable TV - but our lives are actually much richer for their absence, not poorer.  After all, iPhones & cable TV aren't eternal, but our child(ren)'s & our souls are.  What better investment is there to make in this life?  To be a wife & a mother is a noble calling, a biblical calling.  And I pray that our child(ren) will bear the fruit in their lives & in the lives of their children.  So, I wouldn't say that I don't "want much out of life".  Quite the contrary - I only want the best!

Friday, January 13, 2012


Michael hadn't been gone for work long when the dogs started going crazy.  They were running back & forth between the living room & the blue room, whining & barking & just simply carrying on.  I got so frustrated & fussed at them to cut it out!  I looked out the window & didn't see anything, so I assumed nothing was there.  You know what they say about making assumptions, right?  Finally, I thought I heard the screen door bang softly, & since they were still making such a fuss, I decided to open the front door to show them there was nothing there.  Much to my surprise, there was Emmy again!  She was standing outside of our front door, apparently scratching to come in!  I opened the door up, & she trotted right inside & made herself at home!  I let her drink some water & play in the backyard again before taking her back home.  Apparently, both her Mama & I have come to the same conclusion - that little Miss Emmy wants to live here - because she said she & her husband have talked it over & decided that if we want her, we can have her.  Ugh!  I want her - I have from the very first time she wandered up.  Michael, on the other hand . . . sigh.  Anyways, I regretted that I didn't take pictures of her yesterday so you could see her, so I made sure to take some today!  Here's pretty little Miss Emmy!

They all really enjoyed playing together, but Josie really got into it.  When I came home, they were looking for her.  Once they realized she wasn't here, Josie started walking around the house whining & is now sitting directly in front of the window, seemingly looking for Emmy.  :-(  Maybe we can convince Daddy to let us have her . . .

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Our Busy Bungalow

Today has been a busy day around here!  To begin with, I let the dogs out into the backyard this morning, & before I knew it, a little brown blur was leaping over the fence.  "Noooo!", I shouted, thinking Josie was making another great escape - only to discover that it was, in fact, a neighbor's dog, Emmy . . . who has apparently taken lessons from Houdini.  She's a sweet little thing, & this is at least the third time that she's visited our bungalow.  Even though I was on a schedule, I couldn't just let her run free & risk her getting hit by a car.  So, of course, I ushered her into our house & got dressed to take her back home.  The problem was that when I got there, they weren't home!  Since I'm assuming she escaped from their backyard, I couldn't very well leave her there.  So, back to our house we went, a prospect she was none too disappointed by!  She got to eat Josie's food & play with the babies in the backyard before I tried taking her home again.  This time, although it broke my heart, I clipped her onto the tie they had in the front yard.  If I didn't have to go shopping, I would have kept her at our house.  She tried to follow me, too, further chafing my sore heart.  I checked on her later, & she was safely in her home with her Mama & siblings.  I promise, if we didn't already have 2 dogs, a cat, a baby on the way, & 4 chickens arriving this Spring, I'd try to keep her!  Well, if I knew she wouldn't constantly break my heart by jumping over the fence, that is!

Once I got her squared away, I got ready.  Before too long, the dogs started going crazy, & lo & behold, it was the UPS fella bearing my fetal doppler!  I have decided that one way to curb my anxiety over our little M&M's well-being is to rent this doppler so I can listen to his or her heartbeat anytime I desire.  We immediately got it out & tried it.  It took a little bit to find M&M's heartbeat, & just when I started to cry from panic, Michael found it!  Of course, I still cried, but out of relief & happiness instead.

Fetal doppler, care of Baby Beat!

Almost as soon as we found M&M's heartbeat, it was off to lunch & shopping for maternity clothes!  Lunch, I love - shopping, not so much.  I'm an online shopping girl.  I hate trying on clothes & looking through racks.  The good thing is, I'm a fairly quick shopper as a result.  Michael couldn't come with me, so my sweet friends Angie & Amber (& little Isaac) came with me.  Over my protests, Angie was even so sweet as to help me buy the clothes - after buying my lunch!  I've still got to get a couple of basics, but this was a very good start!

A crimson shirt for my Alabama Crimson Tide days & some dress pants for church. 

A beautiful purple shirt & some jeans.

Angie & Amber dropped me off at home, & after showing Michael my clothes, checking on Emmy, talking to Mama, & taking a much needed nap, I made supper.  Breakfast for supper!

Except for the biscuits, this whole meal is farm-fresh!  The sausage & milk come from a farmer a couple of hours away from us, & the Apple Butter & Blueberry Jam were made by my lovely sister-in-law, Beth!  My eyes were bigger than my stomach - I could only eat 2!

Now, I'm tired again, so I'll be getting ready for bed & going to sleep soon.  'Night, y'all.  Sweet dreams.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Separated Siblings

Image from iNetGiant

Standing in line at Sam's yesterday, we met a very friendly older gentleman who likes to joke around & hand out soft peppermint candies. His cap displayed his Tide pride, & his words very quickly showed him to be a church-going man. Unfortunately, they also very quickly revealed his belief that black people & white people just should not mix, especially when it comes to church.

Almost a year ago, a tornado ripped through our city, demolishing or severely damaging everything in its path. One of those severely damaged buildings was a local church that has shared our church's building ever since. That church was located in what a lot of people consider to be a "not-so-nice" part of town. But this church loves their neighborhood & have a strong desire to return. Not just to get back to their building, but to get back to ministering to the people surrounding that building. The so-called "not-so-nice" people.

This gentleman seriously disagrees with the passion of these fellow believers, saying that they should just tear down that church & move to a "nicer" part of town. I wish I were quicker on the draw. If I were, I would have wanted to know what makes another part of town "nicer"? Is it the cars people drive or the homes they live in? Is it the clothes they wear or the color of their skin? I would have asked him if he thought the people in the "not-so-nice" part of town needed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, too. Don't they need the church to be Christ's hands & feet to them just as much as the people in Mexico, India, or Romania? Why is it perfectly permissible to have mission trips to foreign countries while neglecting the people in our own backyards? Are we only supposed to have white churches in white parts of town & black churches in black parts of town? Doesn't Galatians 3:18 say that we are all "one in Christ"? How exactly do you separate "one" without ripping it apart? Being saved by Christ eradicated the division between Jews & Greeks; is His blood not strong enough to do the same for blacks & whites? Is it not a denial of our brotherhood in Christ - where all Christians are children of God & co-heirs with Christ regardless of our skin color - to say that we must worship separately in our own sections of town? Does advocating & adhering to such a policy really paint an accurate picture of the body of Christ? Is there going to be a white heaven & a black heaven, & nary the two shall meet? Or will heaven be a glorious mixture of "red & yellow, black & white", all worshipping God together before His majestic throne? Wouldn't it be simply beautiful for our churches to be a picture to the world of what heaven will be like? All nations, tribes, & tongues - even from separate parts of town - bowing before God's throne & bringing Him praise together! If I were quicker on the draw, that's what I would have liked to know.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Fear, God's Peace

Last night was not a fun night for me - or Michael, for that matter.  I didn't experience as much nausea yesterday, & its absence ushered in a feeling akin to terror.  I know that there have always been & always will be women who lose their unborn children.  There aren't words to express adequately how much I don't want to join their ranks.  Even though I have no symptoms whatsoever of miscarriage, I began to fear that my lack of nausea meant a lessening of hormones which, in turn, meant I was losing (or had already lost) our child.  It lasted for probably a little more than an hour.  Michael told me to trust God.  My response was that I do trust God to do what's right & to do what's for my good, but that doesn't mean that I'll get the outcome I desire.  I can't trust that, because that just might not be.  I was overcome with fear & sadness, & I begged God to take away my anxiety.  I sought to cast my cares on Him, knowing that He cares for me.  The alleviation of my fears was not immediate.  As a matter of fact, that prayer came just at the beginning of my time of fear.  Michael comforted me both with pointing me to God & with practical "proofs" that all is well.  God definitely used that to help me, but I still wasn't free.  After Michael left for work, I sat down to work on a new template for this blog.  It's actually the same one I used last year at this time, so I just reused last year's banner as well.  (Our new mantra is "organized simplicity", after all.)  I always choose a Scripture verse or two to go on our banner, & as God would have it, last year I chose Deuteronomy 31:6:

 Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread . . . for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.

I felt an instant peace wash over me.  Although I don't (usually) dwell on this fact, I know that anything can happen; I won't necessarily get the outcome I want - my sweet baby born healthy & strong.  But this verse brings peace nonetheless, because I know that there's nowhere I can go & no circumstance I find myself in that my Father is not already there.  He will not leave me or forsake me to bear any burdens - good or bad - alone.  This is the peace that surpasses all understanding.  I'm so grateful for our gracious God!

(And, as an aside, God also graciously granted my prayer, & I've experienced plenty of morning sickness today!  Strange as it may sound, I'm a happy girl!)