Friday, February 28, 2014

Trying Days & A Faithful God

Photo Credit: Storm Clouds over Lone Pine by Gary Hamburgh - All Rights Reserved
Found on BluEyedDaizy
It's been a trying few days. Oh, not completely, mind you. There have been lots of wonderful moments: playing with Emma, laughing with Michael, visiting with my family by marriage, & chatting with Mama. These have been fabulously happy moments! But in between those moments, the clouds have rolled in as my thoughts have turned back to the disagreement with an old family friend that has resulted in a complete fracturing of the relationship.

Perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut. Looking back, that is really the only way that I could have prevented it. And maybe that's what I should have done. You see, without going into great detail, this friend posted a status that I had some trouble with, one to which I attempted to apply some biblical wisdom. As she claims to be a Christian, I assumed there would be no problem with this. I was wrong. Very long story short, she took offense & we went back & forth several times. I apologized for my wrong & asked for forgiveness, but she would not repent of her wrong, & chose to withhold forgiveness & end the friendship.

I don't like conflict. It ties my stomach up in knots. Trying to be objective, I've taken a look at myself & discovered that there are some things about me that mean that sooner or later, I will be in conflict with someone.

     ~I have a temper, especially when I'm tired, hungry, or emotionally taxed in some way. These things make me impatient , more easily irked, & more likely to enter into an argument. That's not good. I definitely need to refrain from interactions as much as possible when I'm in these states. (That's one reason why I'm better at communicating through writing, because I'm able to let my emotions cool before initiating or responding. I'm also able to proofread & reword, so that something that would come out of my mouth harshly can be significantly toned down.)

     ~I don't like untruths, especially when it comes to the Bible. Now, I've learned over the last few years not to engage every error that comes across my newsfeed. But there are times when I feel like my friends need to hear the truth. I try very hard in those times to tell the truth in a loving way, but I am firm. I do see things as black & white, & I don't back down from the truth. I honestly believe that whether we like it or not, truth is truth. (One of those truths [that came up in this instance] is that there is no such thing as "serving a different God". There is one God - the God revealed in the Bible. He is the only way to salvation, & if you don't serve Him, you serve a god of your own making who cannot save you. I may write a blog post elaborating on this later.)

     ~I'm not terribly skilled in the "kid glove" treatment, & tend to opt for a more straightforward approach. (After reading that last point, I can hear the sarcastic, "No! You don't say!" coming all the way from my Mama's house in LA. But it's her fault. I get it from her. ;-) ) I've found that not everyone handles the straightforward approach well. I often feel, though, that the kid gloves water down the truth (which ultimately doesn't help anyone), but sometimes I do better. However, Michael's the one really skilled at putting on those gloves. I probably need to rely on him more.

     ~I tend to believe that everyone has the right to express & defend their view, so I act on that principle. I'm always a bit caught off guard when I interact with someone who wants to have their say & deny me mine (which doesn't happen often, but was the case here). It just doesn't make any sense to me to direct a comment my way, only to get angry when I respond.

     ~Finally, I operate from a framework in which the Bible informs my life rather than trying to use my life to inform the Bible. I believe that the Bible tells me how I'm supposed to conduct myself in every sphere of life, & that I'm to be obedient to that. (Not that I'm perfect, so I'm thankful for the gifts of repentance & forgiveness.) I reject any notion that we're allowed to interpret the Bible according to our own opinions or disregard any part of the Bible that we don't agree with & still call ourselves faithful Christians with a strong faith. This clashes significantly with the postmodern mindset that seems to be prevalent in our society & even among some Christians.

I've prayed a lot over the last few days. I've asked God to help me not be petty & post FB statuses that jab at this person. My flesh wants to, but He has helped me control that. I've asked Him to take away my anger, to forgive me of my anger, & to "renew a right spirit within me". I've asked Him to keep me from the sins of an unrepentant heart when I'm confronted with my sin & an unforgiving heart when I'm sinned against. I've asked Him to help me obey His command to be reconciled to others. I've asked Him to help me be gentle & loving when confronting others' sin & to keep me from self-righteousness lest I become guilty of the same. I've asked Him to help me be more wise before opening my mouth (so I don't step into another hornet's nest or make things worse). Finally, I've thanked Him for forgiving me of my sin & saving me from my sin & His wrath. I'll never be perfect this side of heaven, but how incredible is it that He continues to love & sanctify me so that one day I will be a perfect reflection of His Son! And just like that, the clouds are blown away.  ;-)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

All About Emma

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." ~ Psalm 127:3

By the wondrous grace of God, I get to experience this first-hand daily! Emma is a tremendous "reward", a phenomenal blessing to her Daddy & me! My heart is filled to bursting with joy & love because of her! So, this post? This is all about Emma.

As I write these words, she's sleeping in my arms. I love feeling her chest rise & fall against mine, love the feeling of her warm breath on my neck & her dreamy twitching fingers on my shoulder. Except for a brief stint from 3-8 months, she's never gotten to the point of sleeping on her own. At night, she's never far from my side, sometimes even groggily rolling over & snuggling into my chest in her sleep. At other times, she awakens a bit more & crawls on top of me - a couple of times even going to the trouble of rolling me onto my back so she can complete the endeavor. ;-)  And if I should attempt to get out of bed - say for a "top-of-the-morning-my-bladder-is about-to-burst!" emergency - I must do so ever . . . so . . . slowly, or I'll have some cranky company. Sadly, she will soon find herself going through sleep-training boot camp (of the no-cry variety) so Emma can nap by herself & Mama can keep up with the household chores I'm currently drowning under.

During her waking hours, she is an absolute delight! She loves to dance, & lets you know she wants the music on by bouncing at the knees & stomping her foot. She runs toward the speakers, then laughs & dances with gusto when she hears the music. She loves Sovereign Grace Kids, Brook Hills Kids, & (funnily enough) Shai Linne. She also got in a good dancing session this evening to Dave Carroll's "United Breaks Guitars" trilogy. What can I say? The girl's got good taste! Just this morning, she was dancing to her knock-off "Little People" farm, which was beyond adorable. I would push the doorbell so the music & animal sounds would play, & as soon as she heard it, she started bouncing & jumping (with the windowsill's aid). It doesn't play long, though, so we pushed the doorbell over & over to make it last longer. Yep! Adorable sums it up!

She also likes movies & tries to climb in the pack 'n' play whenever I ask her if she wants to watch one. I let her choose between 2 of them, & I've noticed that she always chooses the one in my right hand. I have no idea why. She loves all of the versions of "Monsters, Inc.", "Toy Story", & "Despicable Me". She snuggles down amongst her stuffed animals (including her 3 feet tall panda bear, Oreo) & watches while I cook, clean, or get a shower. (As a side note, I was totally one of those "my kids aren't going to watch TV" people. You know the ones. Those wise people who know everything about rearing children before actually having them. Yeah. That was me. I know better now.)  ;-)

Reading is one of her favorite pastimes. All I have to do is ask, "Do you want to read a book?", & she drops whatever she's doing, toddles to her play area, & plops down on her mat expectantly. That always tickles me! She happily sits on the floor with me or in my lap & reads book after book. Sometimes she sits right there mesmerized; other times she plays while still listening to me read aloud. I can always tell she's still listening because when I stop mid-way through the book, she looks around at me as if to say, "What happened? That's not the end."

She loves playing with her blocks. We'll build them into a tower, counting as we go, & she gleefully squeals while she knocks them down! Then we do it all over again. She also loves "her babies", be it furry or doll, & is usually toting around one or more. She's very sweet & gives them lots of hugs & kisses. But she also likes to stuff them in the towel basket, hang them over the toilet paper holder, & drop them behind her changing table. Those that aren't strewn throughout the house can be found in her pack 'n' play waiting for movie time, when she lays on & among them, sometimes melding in so well that you can barely see her! She also likes making beautiful music on her xylophone, playing in her tent, dumping out her chunky puzzle pieces (although not necessarily putting them back), turning the lights on & off, sword fighting with spoons, & biting her toes while I shrilly exclaim, "Noooo! Don't eat your toes!" & "Ewwww! Gross!" She thinks that's hilarious!

Emma girl is quite a talker! She regularly says "Mama", "Daddy", "bye", & "baby", & the rest is her adorable baby babble. Just this evening at supper, she said what sounded like "gollygollygollygollygollygollygolly" in her precious little voice. It was seriously cute! Michael sometimes likes to joke that she's speaking in tongues!  ;-)  She's also not afraid to let you know when she dislikes something, especially if it's new. I heard all about it the other night when she observed my new face-washing ritual (she disapproved of the rag covering my face), & she was none too pleased when I washed my hair after bathing her. She stood in front of me in the tub & babbled in a somewhat stern voice to let me know there was to be no more of that!  ;-)

She's started giving sugars instead of just receiving them, even making the smacking sound with her lips. Sometimes she achieves this by putting her upper teeth over her bottom lip & smacking. Other times she makes a fish face. Again, adorable! Perhaps it's because of how we kiss her repeatedly, but she's not one for moderation when it comes to giving sugars, walking a short way away only to double back several times to plant one on you. She's also been having her babies give each other kisses, like her bath time squirting beaver & otter, making the kissing noise for them. Of course, being an animal lover, she hugs the dogs & (tries to hug) the cat. And not to leave anyone out, she gives sugars to the pictures of her Daddy, Mawmaw, & Papa Ray that pop up when we're talking on the phone.

She loves to be chased & caught! Like, seriously, LOVES it! Every time I say, "I'm gonna get you!", she takes off running, her little feet slapping the floor & her little hands waving. She laughs as I chase her & then squeals with delight when I snatch her up & give her sugars. Then I set her down, say, "Run! Run!", & we do it all over, again & again. It never gets old!

She's a wonderful helper, always going out of her way to help me close the refrigerator, dryer, & dishwasher doors. It can be a bit of a problem, though, when it's nice outside & I want to leave the front door open. Invariably, five minutes after I walk away, I hear the door close & see her walking away, triumphant. ;-)  She also picks little things up off the floor to give to us. And if she has something she shouldn't, she may run away when we ask for it, but she (almost) always brings it back to us. Likewise, she brings my phone to me when she hears the cricket chirp informing me that I have a text message, & she hands me my shoes when she sees me putting on my socks. She's such a good, sweet girl!

Emma loves taking a bath & playing with her toys. Her hair has gotten so long that we have to use conditioner to combat tangles & a blow dryer to get it dry. She's not wild about having her hair rinsed twice, & for some reason - 
so long as she's standing - she feels better about the water that inevitably runs down her face. She also doesn't care for the blow dryer & often hides her face in my chest to try to avoid it. She's very good, though, about having her teeth brushed, & she enjoys the homemade (by one of my nieces) lip balm that I slather on her lips afterwards. (Although I do have to remind her to keep her mouth closed, no doubt because the peppermint scent is just too tantalizing!)  ;-)

Speaking of lip balm, she recently discovered a tube of lipstick that I never use. It's a vibrant shade of magenta! (Which is why I never use it, because I feel like a circus clown in it.)  Boy howdy, does she love that lipstick! First she got it out with her fingers - because I'm not about to show her how to turn it! The second time, she used the bulb end of a medicine dispenser. Don't ask me how I'm going to get the lipstick out of that thing. I still don't have a clue. Just last night, she somehow fished the lipstick & a pair of long tweezers off the counter, & I found her on the floor in the bathroom covered in magenta (as were the bath mat & floor)! Each time, she looked at me like, "What's so funny?" as I doubled over laughing at finding her in such a state. She is such a hoot! Obviously, I took pictures!

Our baby girl is a very good eater & tends to eschew more processed foods. Except for chocolate. Oh, my, does this girl like chocolate!! But if you don't have chocolate, give her some fruit, & she'll be happy as a pig in mud. Especially if it's bananas. She lights up like a lightning bug when you offer her a banana! She also loves spaghetti squash with meat sauce, sweet potatoes, steak, & - yes - bacon. Oh! And French fries slathered in ketchup (like her Daddy)! Taco soup, pancakes, & cinnamon rolls, not so much. We gave her Chick-fil-A minis the other day, & she even picked the bread off so she could just eat the chicken! She's a pro now at using her spoon & fork, & loves to be praised for her achievement. She's not shy, either, about getting the applause started if Michael & I are lagging behind. ;-) Despite my best efforts, I've never been able to get her to use her signs, so she just points & makes noises for what she wants. I guess that's her sign. ;-)

"Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward." ~ Psalm 127:3

Truer words were never spoken! Thank You, Father, for our precious, beloved "reward"! We love her more than words can say!