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!)