Preparing my Heart

My mind races, constantly coming back to thoughts of how to prepare for our baby. So many things to consider: the boys' room arrangement, baby supplies, daycare options, Christmas shopping, preparing meals, activities for J while I'm recovering, and so much more. My to-do list grows and grows as the day we will meet S nears.

My thoughts betray me: I tend to be a Martha. I'm rushing around trying to do it all, and yet maybe I just need to sit at Jesus' feet and be a Mary. The tasks will be accomplished in due time, but if I don't take the time now to prepare my heart to mother two sweet boys, when will I?

My mind betrays my sin, my pride, my lack of trust that God will provide. To accomplish something, to get things done - is that really my goal? Really my heart just longs to be ready, to be a godly mother, to love ad enjoy my family. My real life is hidden in Christ, not hidden in tasks. So my preparation for baby must focus on Christ, not just on tasks. And as I focus on Him, the tasks will be done with greater joy, for His honor.

Loving Father, thank you for this discipline, for how You're training my heart. Take me, mold me, prepare me, expand my capacity to love. As I learn to live the real life You've given me, equip me for every good work. Help me to set aside the selfishness, the desire to control, and rely on Your strength, patience, and provision. Thank you for the incredible gifts my boys are, and for how You use them to grow me. Thank you for the example of Your sacrificial love, for showing me how to lay down my life and take up my cross. And thank you that this hard love is always worth it - You're always worth it.


This baby's growing me

Baby has been growing my heart for 21 weeks. As I grow him in my womb, I think more often about who I am, and who God wants me to be. Growing him makes me long to be more, to be all I can for my sons and husband and the world and God.

When there's no grace, wanting to be better can be dangerous, can lead to depression and anger and bitterness that I'm not who I want to be. It can lead to outward perfectionism and inward selfishness. And when there's grace (and it's always abundantly available!), this desire to grow leads to conviction, gratefulness, and growth through the power of God.

I haven't always embraced grace on this journey. I've wallowed in self-pity and been consumed by the nausea. Time with God was pushed aside as I focused on surviving - but what kind of life is it without him? And God used this baby to push me higher, to deeply desire more. I'm convinced that thirst and wanting are an essential part of knowing God - and that He will joyfully fill those who ask.

The challenge is to move from the thirsting to the asking, because so often I try to procure life-giving water out of nothing, and only God can do that. I'm coming to the Table thirsty, asking for more, needing more of Him... join me?


Falling in Love

It's been awhile. The non-essentials have been pushed aside during this season of life, in which I grow a person inside of my body and at the same time care for my toddler and love my husband.

During sixteen weeks of growing this sweet baby, I've been working on prioritizing. I've been stretched, overwhelmed, nauseous, and so blessed. I've seen God pour out His love and mercy on me in so many ways. I've been blessed with family and friends who help and encourage me. I've grown to love and appreciate my wonderful husband in a whole new way. And I've fallen in love with my newest little one who's poking and tickling my insides and is apparently the size of a turnip now.


Getting Real with Myself

"And the beauty is not in the circumstance or the label but the fact that in His graciousness He is here with me anyway, regardless of the circumstance or the way I choose to view it. The grace of being near to Him in trial, as long as I can chose to see it, is certainly the greatest grace of all." ~ Katie Davis

I make mighty good garlic mashed potatoes. And homemade enchiladas (with homemade tortillas). I'm a homemaker-wanna-be with a full-time job and an incredibly active 2-year-old. Sometimes it gets exhausting, trying to pretend to be what I'm not.

But maybe it's okay to be 4/7 working mama and 3/7 stay-at-home mama. Maybe it's where God has placed me for now, and I should be grateful for this gift. Because really, I'm 24/7 near to Him, and it's all grace. Sure, I have dreams to someday work beyond a cubicle and not stare at a screen 30 hours a week. But for now, for such a time as this, I'm here. And He's near. And I'm grateful.

So I'm gonna cut my homemaking self some slack, and realize I can't make everything from scratch. And I won't even pretend that I can keep my house clean. I'm going to stop with the fears that I'm not good enough, because God makes me adequate. I'm going to stop being a control-freak mama and realize that Jesus is the one who holds it all together - so I don't have to.

Phew, it feels good to be real. I think I need to let go more often.

Seeing the grace and drawing near...
381. Amazing Creator God
384. Patience in a long night
387. Rainforest Cafe with my boys
388. Time with a sister
391. Sweet small group girls
392. Kyle getting off work to take J to urgent care
394. Snap peas and hummus
395. Phone call at work from my boys
398. Morning prayers of praise
399. The Son who created all things and holds them together!
400. Coming out even on taxes
401. The hubs helping with dishes and doing taxes
402. A full night's sleep
405. Spelling with J
407. Homemade enchiladas
409. Dreaming of summertime
410. Planning the garden
413. Applebees with my boys and MIL


Seeing the Love Story

"Only the Word is the answer to rightly reading the world, because The Word has nail-scarred hands that cup our face close, wipe away the tears running down, has eyes to look deep into our brimming ache, and whisper, “I know. I know.”" ~ Ann Voskamp

Oh, how that quote makes my heart race! What an incredible Savior we have, who knows our sufferings and takes our burdens upon Himself! What love.

Oh, that my life would be wrapped around Him, covered in Him, hidden in Him! When I become wrapped around myself, my vision is narrow and foggy and I can't see truth anymore - just inadequacy. But when I move beyond my inadequacy and give myself to the One who makes me adequate - then, I can see. The whole world opens up with intense clarity and such beauty; even the pain becomes beauty.

It's been a foggy year for me. But my Love is winning me over, and I can't hide from His desires anymore. I need to know His will (His desire) so that I can know Him more. Do you see it? It's all about a love story, a great adventure.

Pray with me? Colossians 1:9-12.
Seeing His love at every turn...

346. A nearby drop site for Azure Standard
347. Beautiful pink sunrise - for me!
348. Fog over the field
349. The sight of grass
350. Promise of spring
351. Sweet chubby niece, once only 5 lbs!
352. My Rescuer
353. Light winning over darkness
354.Waching a movie with the hubs
355. Spontaneity
356.Lunch with mom and heart-shaped cakes from dad :)
357. Warm blueberry muffins
358. "Look, mommy!" Watching bubbles shine in the sun.
359. Doing dishes with my boy
360. Encouragement from my sister
361. Help with comforting J when he burned his hand
362. His hand healing remarkably fast
363. A beautiful new home for my sister
364. The hubs letting me sleep in
365. Strength from the Lord
366. Time with my brother
367. Day off with my boys
368. Homemade chocolate ice cream
369. Staying home in a snowstorm
370. Laughing with my hubby
371. Family storytime
372. Help with dishes and laundry
373. A new puppy for my parents
374. Homemade tortillas
375. Fluffy flakes falling softly
376. An inheritance in the kingdom of light! (Col.1:12)
377. Redemption & forgiveness - what incredible, amazing truths! (Col. 1:14)
378. Praying the Word of God from memory - what a gift


Be Still

"Life is not an emergency." ~ Ann Voskamp

Life is usually busy; but it doesn't need to be an emergency. As I grow in thankfulness, I also grow in peace and joy. I learn to see, to appreciate, to slow down my thoughts even if my hands or feet are still moving quickly. Maybe we can always "be still" in our hearts, so that we can always know that God is God. Isn't stress just a refusal to trust that God is in control?

I'll admit, sometimes mothering a two-year-old feels like one emergency after another. The disobedience, hitting, yelling, and messes come like a flood some days, until my soul aches from being wound so tightly. But with the Lord's help, I can be still in the storm. Because of His grace, the emergencies can turn into moments to grow. Because of His sacrifice, my aching soul can learn to be still, to keep on loving, to keep on praising.

Be still with me... with Him?

The rain keeps on falling and the gifts are a flood...
318. Back rub from the hubs
319. His help with getting J to sleep
320. An understanding boss when J was sick
321. Days at home to rest and heal
322. Fluffy snowflakes falling softly
323. New friends that feel like old ones
324. J singing "Deep and Wide"
325. J helping me recite Colossians 1:1
326. A zoo trip with my aunt and cousin
327. The amazing creativity of God (dragon seahorses, anyone?)
328. Kyle watching J during girls' night
329. Laughter and so much fun with sisters
330. Being pampered
331. Open, honest friends
332. Brownies & ice cream & berries
333. A good work week for the hubs
334. Strength from God's glorious might (Col. 1:11)
335. A share in the inheritance of the kingdom of light - incredible! (Col. 1:12)
336. Sunny, warmer, longer days
337. Good bread and butter
338. A date night at "our place"
339. Renewed love
340. Melting snow, sunshine & puddles
341. Truffles and a butter crock
342. Kisses and "Happy Vawentimes Day" from J
343. A sermon that touches my heart
344. Spontaneous dinner w/ the in-laws
345. Uninterrupted sleep


It's All Grace

I've almost finished the book whose premise started my list of 1000. There is so much to say, so many quotes I'd like to share. And honestly, you should just read the whole book. If I was 16 still, I would've stayed up late and finished it in a day. But I'm not, and I'm learning to savor the moment, the words, and it's taken a week. A week in which words wrap around me, cut through me, draw me nearer to the Giver. I'll post some of my favorite quotes soon. If you want to know more about One Thousand Gifts, watch this.

Becoming smaller, going lower, becoming the gift, and naming His graces (it's all grace)...

289. Warm hugs from J as he wakes
290. Extra hugs and kisses before leaving for work
291. Joy in giving
292. Receiving One Thousand Gifts from my dear mother-in-law
293. Conviction - a painful gift
294. Turning pages on the bus, letting tears fall as words smooth out the soul and pierce deeply
295. Letting go of the striving, the expectations - Freedom!
296. Warm, soft bagels
297. An old bridge over a frozen river
298. My loving husband filling my car with gas and warming it up for me
299. Glimpsing the sunset on a cold, cloudy day
300. Getting lost in my work
301. Clothes to fold - oh, so many!
302. Phone date with my sister
303. Washing hands with cinnamon soap
304. Chasing & tickling & laughing
305. Being all here
306. Words & food & help & cuddled-up-under-blankets time with my sister
307. Butter melting on steaming muffins
308. My son's sweet way of talking
309. How he tilts his head when he asks a question
310. A message from someone I greatly admire
311. J's messymoring hair
312. Pools of water on ice
313. "Sing it again, mommy"
314. Date night
315. Light streaming through tropical trees at the zoo
316. Watching J play with his papa
317. J holding his baby cousin's hand, touching her cheek


Keeping On...

Praising Him amidst the cold, the sickness, the celebrations, and the monotony... Keep giving thanks, dear ones! He deserves all glory, honor, and praise!

264. Longer days and more sunlight
265. Watching J lay his head on my husband's lap and stare up at him... enjoying their many similarities
266. Good hospitality, food, and company for my b-day dinner at Porter Creek Grill
267. Free ice cream :)
268. J successfully switching to a big boy bed... the joy and ache of watching him gain independence
269. Singing J to sleep as I rub his back
270. Watching J's delight and exploration at the MN Children's Museum (and the gift of our membership!)
271. Emails from my sister
272. Victory and hope in the Gospel (Col. 1:5)
273. Time to rejuvenate and share stories at EaganMoms
274. Rejoicing with friends as they rejoice
275. Time with the sweet ladies in my family
276. Laughing til I cried - twice in one weekend!
277. Dear friends who trek to the country for a visit when it's freezing and snowy
278. Dance parties with my boys - the unrestrained, hilarious movements of a toddler!
279. Forgiveness when I'm cranky and ungrateful
280. The gift of words that heal, convict, transform, encourage...
281. Birthday dinner with the in-laws... making my baby niece laugh, and watching J clap and dance along with the birthday songs
282. An unexpected day off to watch J when the hubs was sick... a blessing in disguse
283. Homemade bread that turned out beautifully!
284. Anticipation and hope for things to come
285. The selfless love that only God can provide (Col. 1:8)
286. The amazing, life-giving gift of God's Word
287. Hearing J fill in words as I memorize Colossians (have you ever heard a 2-yo say "Christ Jesus"? - precious!)
288. Becoming more comfortable with the new class I'm facilitating at work


I celebrate 24

24 years. The numbers don't seem to matter as much as I get older (maybe because they fly by so much faster)... and yet as I count these 1000 gifts, I'm learning that the numbers are important. The moments mean more when we recognize them, speak them, write them, tell the story. If we don't stop to celebrate the moments, the days, the years, they pass along unappreciated. Lord, I celebrate 24. Thank You for life, breath, grace, family, friends, growth, peace, change, wisdom, words, and most of all for the gift of You. More than anything else, I celebrate You.

236. Patience to care for J in the middle of the night.
237. Holding my tongue and speaking life.
238. The faithful and loving brothers and sisters in my life and around the world.
239. Inspiration from my friends' faith.
240. A sparkly snowglobe downtown walk to work.
241. Safe travels in the snow.
242. Hopes and dreams.
243. Sweet words from J.
244. Texts from my husband.
245. A sister to memorize Colossians with!
246. Having fun playing Kinect with the hubs.
247. God's strength in my weakness.
248. Eagan Hills youth group
249. Meeting new friends and hitting it off right away.
250. Homemade calzones (thanks, M!)
251. A seat on the bus.
252. Rest.
253. Chai tea lattes on frigid mornings.
254. A generous, thoughtful birthday gift from my hubby.
255. That God holds my tears in a bottle - He cares when I ache.
256. Sweet texts and phone calls to help me work through disappointment.
257. That I never grieve without hope.
258. Shopping with the ladies - good deals and great fellowship!
259. My sweet husband snowblowing after a long day of work.
260. A long birthday weekend.
261. My baby sleeping in a big boy bed!
262. Fun at the MN Children's Museum with my boys.
263. Faith, hope, and love (Col. 1:5)


Grace is enough

It's Wednesday and I feel I've failed because I didn't write on Monday. And yet I know you don't mind. Grace is what I need to preach to myself. When my brain's all askew and I don't know what to praise Him for because all energy is focused on this one thing. Grace. He knows my jumbled thoughts and He loves me for them, just like I love J when his words tumble out all out of order and beautiful. Grace. When the dishes aren't done and my list isn't started and the remnants of last week's laundry are on the floor. Grace. When my words come out harsh and ugly when I mean to speak life and comfort. Grace.

235. Grace.

There's so much more to thank Him for this week, but for now, Grace is enough.


January, Goals, and Gifts

January is always kind of a "hump" month for me... in which winter begins to lose its sparkly charm, I catch a cold, I turn another year older, I make goals that may or may not be kept.

What goals, you ask? Good question. Some of the ones I'm thinking about for 2011 (aside from moving from fear to faith, and finishing my 1000 gift list) are:
- Starting a workable plan for Bible verse memory
- Starting up again with daily prayer and Bible reading
- Being more intentional about hospitality and getting together with friends and family
- Supporting the hubs in our weekly family devotions
- Drinking at least three glasses of water a day (in addition to the liquids I would normally drink)
- Cutting out pop. I don't really enjoy it much anymore... all that sugar hurts my teeth! Oh, and sugar is bad. :)
- Being a more flexible, joyful, soft-spoken mama and wife

I know... they're not all very specific or measurable or whatever... but it's a start at least!

Praising my Savior for grace and breath and...
209. 6:30 AM playtime with J
210. Being able to breathe through my nose again!
211. Early bedtimes
212. A short, productive work week
213. An unplanned lunch with my mom
214. Listening to piano music while I work
215. Inner peace in the midst of chaos
216. Love that casts out fear of the unknown
217. A "warm" sunny day - 33 degrees!
218. Laughing with my co-workers
219. God's blessings on Rivendell Sanctuary
220. Getting good deals at Costco :)
221. Singing "Deep and Wide" with my boys
222. Reciting "Pajama Time" from memory and having J fill in the words
223. The ability to love sacrificially... because of the great Love I've been given
224. Staying in my pajamas for hours
225. Safe driving on slippery roads
226. Celebrating the New Year with wonderful friends
227. Yummy homemade waffles on New Years Day
228. My hubs getting an extra day off with us
229. Daily, hourly moments where God calms my fears
230. A warm, sunny walk in the skyways of Mpls
231. A successful implementation at work - seeing the fruit of our labor!
232. Hearing J say "adios" ~ more like "adidos" :)
233. Patience and peace to cope with J's outbursts and disobedience (oh, the 2's are in full force!)
234. My sweet, patient husband