Saturday, December 28, 2013

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand

I sit in a bit of disbelief right now.  It's Christmas Day 2013*.  For the most part, it's been a good day.  We've had fun with the kids this morning opening gifts, lazing around the house, enjoying one another's company and we'll be enjoying good food for dinner tonight.  And yet, a piece of my heart is broken.  I'm quite certain I've just experienced another miscarriage.
My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
When I finished nursing Daniel, I waited in anticipation to see what the Lord may or may not bring in terms of our family size.  My first cycle was a bit later than usual but eventually it came and went.  The next time I was expectant, it was seven days late.  That is very atypical for me and my regular 28 day rhythm.  However, I assumed my body was still adjusting, post-nursing.  Now, nine days later, for other physical reasons I will not detail, I believe I was indeed pregnant.
When darkness veils His lovely face,
I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.
Having suffered this loss before (see here and here), I'm reminded - yet again - that I am NOT in control of either my fertility or even my ability to carry a child full term.  My heart is sad, my spirit wanes, and as is usual, I wonder "why?" 
His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.
This Christmas day, I dwell on the Christ-child.  A baby... yes... as a baby He came.  My last miscarriage happened the day after Easter 2008.  And now Christmas.  And yet, by His grace, I'm able to view all of life from those vantage points.  His birth, death and resurrection make all suffering part of a bigger picture - His picture.
When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Until that final day...
On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.**

Take care,

*This post was written 3 days before it was posted, hence the date discrepancy.
**Lyrics from "The Solid Rock" by Edward Mote, c.1834, copyright Public Domain. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Extravagant Grace: God's Glory Displayed in Our Weakness

After overhearing a friend's high recommendation of the book, I recently picked up a copy of Barbara Duguid's Extravagant Grace. Within the first ten minutes of reading, I was floored by her openness to the reality of her own sinfulness. In the book, Barbara does not feel the need to validate herself. Instead, she spends the entire book explaining how the Gospel is made all the more beautiful because of our inability to achieve a sinless life.
Have you ever wondered why there are some sins in your life that you just can't seem to overcome no matter how much you've prayed, tried, confessed, and so forth? I know I have. If God's purpose in sanctification is to make us “better and better” day by day, doesn't it seem like we're miserably failing? Or maybe He's not doing His job well enough? Barbara uses the writings and theology of John Newton to explain how God uses our failures and weaknesses to point to His glory. A few of my favorite quotes from the book:

“Newton argues that this greater goal is the fashioning of humble and contrite hearts in God's chosen people as, through their ongoing weakness and sin, they come to trust in themselves less and less and to trust and delight in Christ more and more.”

“God chose to leave us significantly deformed and imperfect after our conversion because he values something more than our sinlessness.”

“God is capable, when he pleases and for his own purposes, of giving me the grace to stand and resist temptation. But often he chooses instead, for his own good purposes, to show me grace through my falls, humbling me and teaching me my desperate need of him.”

Of brothers and sisters in Christ, who should not be surprised by our sin, we should hear: “'Of course you sinned... Come with me to the throne of grace to celebrate the love of your Savior and to find help in your time of need.'”

"What if being reminded that you don't have to change to win God's favor unleashes such joy and sense of safety in your soul that changing becomes the thing you desire most, simply out of gratitude for such overwhelming acceptance and love?"

"....God seldom frees us from besetting sin before showing us how deeply inability is rooted in our souls. If this work were cooperative, with me and Jesus working together, then at the end of the performance there would be two people on stage taking the bow. However, understanding my inability leads me to a far different posture. I am not on stage next to Jesus, taking a bow. Instead, I am flat on my face in the dust, with my hand on my foolish mouth, worshiping at the feet of my beautiful Savior whose power and grace has rescued me."

The first few chapters of the book explain different maturity levels of believers. I'd never thought of her distinctions and found the comments fascinating. She then spends a few chapters breaking down an understanding of human depravity and where God's grace fits in the bigger picture. She uses many scriptural references to back her points but not in a dry, lifeless way. She pointed me to an immeasurably great and glorious God. Her writings have driven me to my knees in both tears and prayer. I've been given a greater understanding of my own heart so that I may grow in my patience with the sins of others. She finishes the book by giving the “joyful implications of amazing grace,” which include advantages of remaining sin. Yes, you read that right – and I won't give the spoilers here.
This book rocked me to my core. It made me consider things in a way I've never given much thought to before. If you've ever struggled with sin, if you've ever been on the suffering side of the sins of others, if you feel dry in your relationship with the Lord, you need to read this book. For that matter, if you have a fervent desire to grow as a believer or even an apathetic attitude towards the Christian life and are ready for a change, read and be blessed.
Take care,

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Longest Blog Lull Ever

Wow.  It has been SEVEN months since I've posted a new blog!  That is officially the longest I've ever gone between posts on here.  But here's the thing, I'm still online.  Instead of posting longer pieces, I've been posting short comments and thoughts here and there on Facebook.  I've started using Instagram every now and then.  While it's not as easy to look back on thoughts and our "story" there, it's certainly easier in the moment.  And no one has really said they missed my posting here, so I haven't stressed. ;)

If for some reason you're not a FB friend of mine but keep up with us anyway, here's a short little summary of where we are.

My current season of life has been a little crazy.  Our kids are currently 6, 4, 2, and 9mo.  I'm homeschooling First Grade and a loose Pre-K.  I'm also teaching a class once per week at Boyce College called Home Ministry and Management.  The older two kids are in swim lessons twice per week.  James and I continue to live life active in church ministry and counseling. However, I say all of these things with a grateful heart.  We recently celebrated our 7th anniversary and both said we feel like we're in a really good place in our marriage and family life.  So I praise God for that!  I'm so grateful and thankful for the many blessings I have been given, though there are certainly days I must remind myself of that truth.

Our health issues have been random here and there but overall manageable.  ;)  Daniel just completed 3 months of wearing a cranial band to reshape his skull (just like Benjamin had to have).  I'm also pretty certain he has some sort of tolerance issues with dairy.  Hannah is scheduled to have a minor surgery to remove a small cyst on her upper lip next month.  James' RA and my vertigo have actually been quite manageable in recent months.  I'm having upper neck pains/headaches again lately but that's probably because I've had to forgo chiropractor visits because of scheduling difficulties.  Overall, God has been gracious.

As the fall begins, I do tend to get anxious looking at the months of activity in advance.  I have to remind myself to take one day at a time.  God gives us mercies for today.  More often than not, life doesn't feel quite as hectic as I anticipate it will.

So here we are.  Let me know if you want to hear from this blog more often or if you're satisfied with my FB updates. ;)  We'll see what the future months bring.

Until next time...

Take care,

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Life in a Large Nutshell

One of the things pregnancy helps me with is blogging.  Ha.  I know that sounds funny but since I like to journal my pregnancies, it keeps me consistent for the most part.  It's been two full months since I've blogged!  That's just not acceptable.  Many of you are friends of mine on Facebook so even if we don't see each other regularly, you can keep up with us if you'd like.  But here's my shot of summarizing the last two months.

As you know, Daniel was born December 14th.  He's been such a joy and is such a sweet baby.  Yet as with any newborn, he comes with his own demands.  He had a struggle feeding at first because of issues with my overactive letdown and a formilk/hindmilk imbalance.  That was not fun.  He still seems to be a bit intolerant of dairy but not an allergy (as Hannah had).  So I just try to watch my consumption.  He's getting up once most nights but still nurses about every 2 1/2 hours, even at 2 1/2 months old.  I'm not complaining though.  It's sweet to spend time with him and be forced to be still.  And he's a fast nurser so it's not a super long ordeal.

The other kids have been doing well.  They are all over the top in love with their new baby brother.  Though Sophia struggles with our attention being spread, she constantly wants to love on, kiss and hold him.  She turned two recently and she's every bit of two right now.  Testing Mama's patience, no doubt.  But she can also lead the way in any dance contest or giggling match. Benjamin continues to be high energy and all boy.  I personally can't wait for Daniel to be old enough to wrestle with him.  For now, he tries to take on his sisters which usually doesn't bode well for them.  He has to be reminded to be gentle with the girls and save that energy to wrestle with Daddy.  Hannah is learning super fast with her schooling.  She's begun first grade math, handwriting and reading.  I'm not pushing her into these, she's just ready.  She's also such a little mommy and a very stereotypical first-born.  Considering I am as well, I see both the good and the bad with that.  She keeps telling me she can't wait to get married and have lots of kids.

James continues to work his job as a hospice chaplain and bereavement coordinator full time.  Part time he serves as a corporate chaplain.  He was also recently hired on part time for the work he does at our church, primarily in the counseling ministry.  He's very gifted in what he does and in my opinion, is a blessing to many, inside this house and out.  He also recently celebrated a birthday.

Me?  Well, I continue to be a wife and mommy.  :)  Most days I love it.  Though I can't say I don't have my moments.  James has been good to give me two Saturdays per month to do whatever I want and have some free time.  Daniel hasn't taken a bottle yet so he goes with me but the other kids hang out with Daddy.  Over the last several months, I've picked up my love of reading again.  I began somewhat of a classic called Kristin Lavransdatter.  I'm nearly 600 pages into the trilogy and have totally been reawakened to the joys of reading fiction.  I'm also reading a book on large family home management and Loving the Little Years.  Reading Honey for a Woman's Heart got me excited about reading again.  Many ask when I do it?  Well, mostly after bed time and early in the mornings before the kids get up.  But I also steal time throughout the day when I'm nursing or have a moment while the kids are otherwise busy.  Then on my Saturday retreats.  It's been quite a refresher for me.

We're trying to work on our eating habits.  Though we're making baby steps (and some days, very tiny baby steps), we're stepping none-the-less.  Mostly trying to eat healthier, "real" foods though I've still got much room to grow.  James has begun running and is hoping to train for a short race over the next few months.

On the health side of life, we've had colds off and on as usual.  By God's grace, the last big thing we had was our stomach bug and then coughing crazies that ended in December.  Minor since then.  James' RA has been minimal as has my vertigo (praise God on both accounts!).

So there you have it.  My long overdue update of our last two months!  Hopefully two more won't pass before I write again!  With that said, if you have ideas for topics you'd like me to cover (other than family updates), I'd LOVE to hear them!

Until next time...

Take care,