"Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." ~ Proverbs 31:30

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Getting Closer





Y'all.  I'm 39 weeks along in my pregnancy as of TODAY!

I truly didn't think I'd ever get this close.  It's been a healthy pregnancy with only some aches and pains to complain of... which means I really can't complain because there are so many women out there who have it SO much worse than I do.  As for being due next week (I can say that now???), I'm thrilled, though not so thrilled about the hundred degree temperatures also headed our way.  All of this said, I married a wonderful man who bought me cold Pop Ices to help me survive these last few days of pregnancy.  Did I marry up, or what?  :)

When people try to schedule things around me these days, I just say, "plan what you want.  All I have on my agenda is make it to my weekly doctor's appointments and wait for Baby."  Seriously.  That's how close we are to the end.  Whaaaat?

Speaking of being close to the end, we are officially no closer to deciding on a name for the little guy.  I know, I know.  But it's ok.  I know he'll have a name very soon upon birth. 

At least I hope so. 

Hmm, what is his name?

The doctor told me that should I not have the baby soon, they'll go ahead and induce me at the 41 week mark, which means that by June 13th (just two short weeks from now), I will be holding my precious little baby in my arms and getting to study his sweet face in detail as I sit (or will I be lying down?) in awe of God the Giver of Life.  Two weeks.  That's the official end date.

Over these past several days, I've been pondering how God already has the baby's birthday planned out.  The day has been handpicked by God, and it's kind of a fun little anticipation I get to experience as I wait to see which day it will be!  Every night when I go to bed I think to myself, "will it be tonight?  Will we make a midnight run to the hospital?"  Every morning I wake up in my own bed and think, "well, there's always today!"  While I am so done being pregnant, I keep myself sane and amused by playing that guessing game.

And so, you have reached the end of my post.  I'm sure the next one will contain exciting details of a birth story.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Slow and Steady

I'm used to pushing myself to the max physically speaking.  I'm an athlete by nature, so rest is for the weak.  No joke.  When I ran cross country in high school, I would tell myself I could run just a little bit farther.  When I was tasked to clear the parking lot of carts at my job, I always volunteered to stay out there for the remainder of my shift because I had stamina (and working the register was boring).

Fast forward to my late teens/early twenties when I began to develop some physical problems.  When I was 22, the doctor told me I had the joints of a 45-year-old.  A few years later and I'm just not able to work with the same vigor I'm so used to.  While I still value physical labor, I'm realizing that my body has forced me to slow down, most likely because I pushed myself too hard. It's a frustrating thing.

Today marks 33 weeks of my first pregnancy.  I spent the entirety of yesterday painting half of my baby's room.  You read that correctly: half!  My palms and wrists were so worn out by the end of the day that I could barely chop veggies for dinner.  This morning I was in so much physical pain it was hard to climb out of bed.  I want so badly to finish the painting project today, but my body is screaming at me to have mercy and rest.

I'm not saying these things to garner sympathy.  I'm merely realizing the necessity of grace.  I have developed more grace for the people in my past who I thought were just making excuses and being lazy.  Some of them might have been, but I'm beginning to understand that there may have been more legitimacy to their need for rest than I was giving them credit for.

I'm realizing the need to give myself grace.  I've always held myself to a strict standard when it comes to life.  If you're going to work, give it your all!  If you're going to play, give it your all!  I'm an all or nothing sort of person.  It's hard to accept the fact that "my all" now is not as much as it used to be.

And maybe I need to have grace with myself for growing another human being.  I haven't let pregnancy slow me down too much until now.  Now I'm coming to accept that the closer I draw to my due date and the bigger my baby grows inside of me, the more tired I'm probably going to be.  And that's ok.  While I may begin to fall behind on my household duties, I am nurturing a tiny human being who fully depends upon me for survival.  That requires rest.

Rest is hard for me.

Grace is important.  Rest is important.

I'm learning a lot about both.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Radical Change



For no reason other than the fact that I love fresh flowers and that these particular ones happen to be gracing my desk, I share with you these spring-time flowers

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My husband and I were recently discussing the current state of our country.  Everyone is just so full of hate!  There's not even a hint of trying to understand someone else's point of view, my husband lamented.  As we sat in silence pondering this, I thought about how change for our country cannot come from an elected office.  There are too many opinions, sides, and prejudices.  If only there could be some kind of activist group that could teach people how to treat people and show them how to love, I thought.

Then it hit me.

I'm so stupid.

Of course.

There is an activist group tasked with this and it's called the Church.  But how do we radically change a nation and really get at hearts? The answer came to me simply: the church has been commanded to make disciples.  But, but, but... how will that work?

And I realized that that's just it.  We, the members of the Church, were commissioned with making disciples.  We aren't the ones winning hearts for Jesus - Jesus is winning hearts for Jesus.  We are simply called to obey and be used as His hands and feet to reach the lost and hurting and hateful.  We are to be examples, and take those people under our wing.  But more importantly, as we do this, I truly believe that it is Jesus who will radically change the nation.

To obey is our task.

Let's get to it.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Mornings and Monsters




 Life around the H house can sometimes be comical in the mornings.

Recently, I purchased activity trackers for my husband and I to wear in an effort to be more intentional about being active.  These trackers have a setting where they can evaluate how much sleep you're getting, as well as the quality of said sleep.  Further, you can set an alarm to go off so that only you can feel it (a quick buzz on the wrist), and without risk of waking up your partner.  That being said, my husband usually rolls over and to wake me when his alarm goes off.

Now that the important background information is out of the way, let's take a peak into what happened *this* morning.

We knew he had to be up and at it this morning to be at the church to meet a guy who was looking at the foundation.  --- As an aside, the church wall is sinking.  So that's fun.  But back to the story. ---  He also remarked how I was going to have a full day today given that last night he had listened as I rattled off a litany of things I wanted to do.  The point being that we both had things that needed doing, so we both needed to wake up and get going.

I despise mornings.  I force myself to wake up at a decent time, grab my coffee, spend time with the Lord, and go about my business... but I hate them.

I haven't slept well in a long while due to various aches in my joints.  This has been due more or less to pregnancy.  I often toss and turn, which means that my poor husband also hasn't been getting high quality sleep of late.  I feel bad, I really do.

This morning, I was in an odd awake-asleep-dead tired-but all too aware of my surroundings state.  My husband's alarm apparently went off.  I was aware of him getting up and leaving the room, but thought he was coming back to bed.

Then I heard his shower start.
Then I got grumpy because he didn't wake me up like he was supposed to.
Then I looked at the clock and got even grumpier.

Did he not hear me clearly last night when I told him of all that I wanted to do today???  I had to get going.

I was sorely tempted to waltz into the bathroom and tell him how disgruntled I was that he didn't wake me, when I thought better of it and marched into the kitchen to turn on my coffee pot instead.

This was God's grace on our marriage.

As I waited for my coffee to percolate, I considered climbing back under the warm comforter and starting my quiet time.  But it hit me that that might be a selfish thing to do (trust me, in this case it would have been), so I made my husband breakfast instead.

Um, that doesn't make any sense, you might be thinking.  I know, I know.  But even in my grumpy mood I didn't want to send him off to work without a hot meal.  It's been especially cold and damp this past week, so I wanted him to know I had still been thinking about him.

It was then, and only then, that I talked to him and said, "gee, thanks for waking me up this morning!  You have breakfast waiting for you when you're finished."  I assure you, it was said with a light-heartedness that I had not been feeling earlier.  He laughed and laughed when he heard my side of the story.  "I knew you hadn't slept well last night, so I was trying to let you sleep!"  "Yeah, well, I decided to love you instead of light into you.  So there's that," was my still-slightly-miffed-but-warming-to-him response.

We had a good laugh together.  I was then able to proceed with my quiet time in better spirits and a better conscience than had I done so before deciding to kill my selfish, grumpy, morning self and put him first.  I'm so thankful that I married a man who will care for his monster wife in the mornings.   She definitely doesn't deserve it.


Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Reclaiming Joy

Seasons come and go.  We all know this, but it's harder to remember that when we're in the throws of an especially tough one.  Last year was an especially tough one for me.

There were a lot of changes that went down.  If you know me at all, then you know that change and I do not necessarily get along very well.  Oddly enough, I myself had forgotten this, and I let those changes effect me in negative ways.

Fast forward to November, I finally realized that I needed to get my act together.  No more letting a little friction in a relationship get me down for the whole day/multiple days.  No more thinking poorly of circumstances that I couldn't change yet had to live with.  No more complaining, bad attitude, or long-term frustration.

No more.

This year I began a thankfulness journal.  I'm only a month in, yet the effect of such a practice has been, in short, reclaiming joy.  Now whenever friction arises between me and another, I thank Him for the way in which resolution was reached and/or the love that was expressed through working out a problem with others.  Other times, I thank Him for family, church members, my dear sweet husband,  cheesecake, a new-to-my-family car, gorgeous weather, etc. 

Everywhere I look there are things in abundance for which to be thankful.  The result has been an improved mood, joy inexpressible, and the ultimate sense that God is weaving together from the faded threads of my life a beautiful tapestry that displays the furtherance of His kingdom here on earth.  I love life again, and I have less shame to grapple with.

I feel as though I'm able to learn and grow again.  My daily devotions have a renewed life about them.  The Lord has been showing me His faithfulness and goodness, even in the hard seasons of life.  He is showing me that it's pointless to try to fix my life/mood/reactions myself, and that it is worth everything to entrust them to Jesus' safe keeping.  I'm no longer anxious, angry, or frustrated.  I have joy and peace.

Today is the final day of January.  I did not begin my journal til the second week of the month, but I tried to add to it on an almost daily basis.  Already I have accumulated 45 things in the month of January for which I could praise the Lord; 45 things in such a short span of time.  I cannot wait to see how God will show Himself worthy of praise in the coming months.  He is good.

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
 ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Learning to Relate

Have you ever been thrust into a situation where you had to work among people who found it hard to relate to?  Like, really hard to relate to?

Let us take a quick look at the community in which my husband currently pastors.  Drugs are a big deal out here, which means a lot of mental problems for whole families.  There are a lot of broken families.  It is a very poor area.  Those who have hit on hard times out here have really hit on hard times.

As a way to involve myself in ministry, I agreed to teach the 1st-6th graders on Wednesday evening.  Given the size of our church (anywhere from 50-65 regular attendees on Sunday morning), I never know if kids will actually show up on Wednesdays.  I could have zero kids, or I could have six kids.  Each week is different, and there is no such thing as advance warning.

There are a couple of different crowds who tend to show up.  One consists of well-mannered, sweet brothers who are interested in learning and listening to what I have to say.  The other crowd is, to put it quite simply, not.

Let me briefly describe the background of this other set of kids.  They come from broken homes, have less than ideal living conditions, and are rough around the edges.  They would much rather play than listen to the lesson, and they have very little Bible knowledge whatsoever.

I confess, whenever I hear them outside in the church parking lot, I pray fervently for grace and lots of love to show them as I gear up for what I know is going to be the longest hour of my week.

This Wednesday, I found myself praying over and over again, "Oh, Lord, please help me love them," as I felt the frustration rising within me when I had to tell them yet again to put the stapler away and pay attention.

It's hard to love someone who isn't just like me.  It's hard to be understanding and have grace for where they're coming from if their history isn't similar enough to my own.  And yet, I am called to do hard things.  Loving those who don't look just like me is specifically something I am called to.

Matthew 4:47 says, "And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others?  Do not even the Gentiles do the same?"

That's a high standard to attain when it seems you have absolutely nothing in common with the people with whom you are interacting.  But attain it we must, for the very next verse tells us to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. (vs. 48)

I come from a big family with parents who love each other and have remained married for the past 30 years.  I was taught from birth to love Jesus.  Every week, my family went to church to learn, and were then quizzed on what we learned on the car ride home.  Every.  Week.

When I have this rougher crowd in my classroom on Wednesdays, I have a really hard time relating to them.  We have practically nothing in common aside from the fact that we are all created in the image of God, and that He is gracious to all of us.  I didn't get to pick my background, family, living conditions, etc., and neither did these kids.

It is imperative to remember that we are all the same before God.  We are all sinners in need of a Savior.  We are flawed, broken members of the human race in desperate need of love.  We have very stark outward differences, but inwardly we are all the same.

And so, even if I spend my Wednesday evenings trying my hardest to get those kids to stop getting paint on the table, or to not throw bean bags at each other, this could be the most meaningful hour of my week.  They may very well not be recipients of Christ's love at home.  If I can meet them where they're at and be gracious and loving, then it is an hour well spent.

Oh, Lord, transform my heart and attitude

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Starting the New Year off Right

On this day, I have found myself being thankful for various seemingly small things.

I'm thankful for laundry to fold, because it means my family has clothes to wear
I'm thankful for dishes to wash, because it means my family has food to eat
I'm thankful for a house to clean, because it means my family has shelter
I'm thankful for old vehicles to maintain, because it means my family has transportation
I'm thankful for illness, because it shows me that my husband loves me when he does various chores that are usually mine so that I don't have to today
I'm thankful for cold weather, because it means there is a God in heaven ;)

These are just a few of the things I've been meditating on and thanking the good Lord for today.  Thinking on these things has the ability to calm an anxious heart and allows me to enjoy today for today.  :)