Thursday, February 24, 2011

You're the Potter...I'm the Clay

Going through pics tonight, and I came across these ones of Matt and Erica's wedding a few months ago. So fun!

Well, it's baby week 12. Can hardly believe it! :) In a way, these first trimester weeks are flying by, a blur of similar days. I wake up feeling great, attempt to get as much done before noon as I can, because I become pretty useless after that. But I've had a few really good days mixed in there, and twice this week I got dinner on the table. {Dave and I exchanged high fives, and then I collapsed to my nightly spot in bed, but accomplishment} He has really held down the fort around here, in a way that I would never have imagined him capable of, back in our early years of marriage. Sweet, sweet Dave.

Despite the glimpses of second trimester I've experienced recently, my mind has been playing funny tricks on me. Swirling thoughts... Can I really do this? Remember what the last pregnancy was like? I feel so bad for being so sick all the are my other 3 kiddos going to fare through all of this?? And for that matter, how am I ever going to manage 4 kids? Holy cow! It is all so very overwhelming to me. {for the record, Dave laughs when I get like this...}

In Bible study on Wednesday we were discussing Isaiah 44 and 45, and it was like the Lord bent down and answered me right there. Assured me of His plan....through a plan of His so many years ago.

The Lord was announcing that He was choosing a man who hadn't even been born yet, Cyrus, King of Persia, to release God's people from exile (which hadn't even started yet) and rebuild His city. Just one of many prophecies in the book of Isaiah. Cyrus was divinely set apart by God for a purpose, even though he was a Gentile and initially wouldn't even acknowledge the One True God.

What I found especially encouraging was God's gentle rebuke to His people. Maybe He knew how they would react to news of this prophecy, I don't know. But He says this to them in 45:9,

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’

Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?...

“This is what the LORD says—
the Holy One of Israel, and its Maker:
Concerning things to come,
do you question me about my children,
or give me orders about the work of my hands?
It is I who made the earth
and created mankind on it.
My own hands stretched out the heavens;
I marshaled their starry hosts.
I will raise up Cyrus in my righteousness:
I will make all his ways straight.
He will rebuild my city
and set my exiles free...

It has been a gentle {or not so gentle} rebuke to me too.

This passage is quoted in the New Testament too, in Romans 9, in a discussion of God's sovereignty.

But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, "Why have you made me like this?" Has the potter no right over the clay?

I've read it many times over the course of my life, but the Lord used it Wednesday to remind me of my place...and to assure me of His plan. Despite how inadequate I may feel, He made me this way {morning sickness and all}, and He chose this job for me to do. And He is the One who chooses...not me. I cannot tell you how freeing it was for me to dwell on that.

Back to wedding pics...what an amazing weekend it was! We are truly so thankful for this girl the Lord brought into my brother's life.

My brother built the structure in the center of the room, at his bride's request. It turned out amazing, Matt!

I love this shot...

This sweet guy has served us all in so many ways these last few months. From making dinner after a long days of work, to running out for ice cream at all hours of the night. Cleaning toilets, and changing diapers...and pulling off a church family night here last weekend. Such a guy I married!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Humble thoughts

My house is a mess.

There are dirty clothes on every bedroom floor, and dishes in my sink. My laundry is piled up high. Every time I look at the kitchen counter, all I see are the stuck on crumbs and sticky finger prints. Crusted on to the stove top are the remains of last night's dinner.

I snapped my eyes shut and walked away, up here to my bed where I can lay still for a bit while Clare naps. The mess is driving me crazy, yes, but I can't will myself to stay upright long enough to do anything about it. And that is really saying something...

Pregnancies (at least these last 2) have a way of truly humbling me. No matter how badly I want to keep up with things or push past the nausea, some days I just can't. And it is a very dark place for me. To be laid so low, so incapable. I have wrestled with this in my mind, day after day, begging the Lord to help me submit to His will for my life joyfully.

Because He is allowing it, is He not? And He loves me, and is working for my good. I know this. But in the very dark moments, late at night when the *morning* sickness is at its worst, I am weak and I forget. I'm kind of having deja vu here...oh yeah, been there before I guess. :)

A few days before I discovered this new little life, Dave and I were thinking and praying about what God had for our future. We both felt so very blessed and sure that He was leading us down a new road, that He had something new for us in store. We were praying about what that might be, and excited about the possibilities. Little did we know, He was already at work and intricately weaving our child's life, a fourth blessing. This was an unexpected gift, yet such a far cry from what we thought this next year or two would hold.

And so, we attempted to mentally switch gears a little, to embrace this plan of His.

I am very thankful for a God who has a plan. I'm especially thankful that He asks hard things of me, and that even if I wouldn't necessarily want to walk down a hard road, He will nudge me along and teach me His ways. How to live humbly. To realize more fully all my inadequacies. To beg for His help to do this job He has given me to do.

I actually made it to Bible study this morning, and it was like a breath of fresh air. Just to be surrounded by God's Word and others who love Him. The book of Isaiah has been challenging and convicting, just what I need.

Because sometimes when you're going through a trial, the fluff just doesn't cut it, you know? You need to see God, to understand Him more, to catch a glimpse of His character. You need to be reassured of His love. And of His power and strength.

In Isaiah 42, God says that for a long time He kept silent and held Himself back (v. 14). He did not immediately punish His enemies, He did not immediately cast out His people when they stopped following His ways. The Lord has ultimate self-control, and even when the circumstances are stormy and the trial is great, this does not reflect on His ability to calm the storm. If He were as emotionally charged as I am, He would probably bend to any plea for relief that I might make. But He waits...because He can hold Himself back and persevere to fulfill His plan. He loves me enough to do what is best for me. And ultimately for Him, for His glory.

That is one thing I have been struck by in the book of Isaiah - God's glory. It is so very important to Him! Verse 8 says,

I am the LORD; that is My name!
I will not yield My glory to another
or My praise to idols.

In chapter 44, God proclaims that He is the only God, that treasuring anything other than Him is worthless. This is the irony of the situation, that we as humans would choose to essentially worship the things that we do or accomplish or create, rather than the One who really deserves our praise. {For myself, keeping a home or making healthy, gourmet meals...or being a fun mom}

It is in the quiet moments, sometimes in the midst of a dark trial, that everything gets stripped away, and there is nothing left that we can do or perform, our strength is gone...and we become very aware of who we are before the Lord God.

I am counting on this broken little life to give Him glory. At least, that is my prayer for this pregnancy, and this journey of motherhood. For Him to strip away all that I can do or accomplish in my own strength and teach me more of Himself. Because when I look back over my 32 years, the difficult periods of life have been the times of growth, when the Lord has seemed very near to me. I haven't always understood what He is doing, nor do I have all the answers now, but He has always been faithful to me, and to His character.

I'm holding tight to that today.

{Clare just joined me in bed, and as we snuggled up together in post-nap sweetness, she noticed the wind was howling outside my window. The wind is talkin', she says... I love 21 month olds. :) }

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

This post is not for anyone with a weak stomach

She cried when I laid her down for her nap today. That should have been my first clue. My little girl who begs for naps...I can't remember the last time she cried when I laid her down, if ever.

After several minutes I went and got her and put her in bed with me. She seemed happy enough to watch Dora the Explorer on my laptop while I rested, but when I went downstairs to get ready to pick up Ethan from school, I heard her scream. When I made it up the stairs, she was covered in puke. Think curdled milk.

{This is where the story gets icky, but anyone who has ever experienced morning sickness or hyperemesis can probably relate. It is bad news for an expecting mama to see puke/hear puke/touch puke. At least for me it is.}

Dave was in Lawrence in a meeting, Ethan needed to be picked up from school in 24 minutes (the school is 15 min from my house), and I had some major clean-up on my hands. Oh yes, and I was sobbing. The only calories I had consumed all day were flushed down the toilet, and it left me pretty shaky. I am ever so thankful for my friend Ashley, and her willingness to pick Ethan up and bring him home for me. She is such a sweet friend.

I am a mess, I tell you. A mess.

By the time Ashley dropped Ethan off, I had just finished cleaning the carpet, the mattress, bleaching the tub after Clare's bath, and the sheets were going in the washer. Ethan walked in and said, "Mom, my throat hurts really bad! It has hurt all day!" And he laid down on the couch in fetal position. He just finished his round of antibiotics for strep throat 2 days ago.

It has been the longest day I can remember in a good long while. Longer than yesterday, even. :) I held Clare most of the evening {and let's just say this afternoon wasn't a fluke} and talked to the doctor's office in between cleaning her up, while Dave attempted dinner and a Dillons run to get ibuprofen. As soon as the kids were in bed, we noticed the washing machine was leaking.

Gotta have a working washing machine when the stomach flu hits. ;) ...oh my...

But as Dave was working on the washer, and I was attempting to remake our bed so I could lie down, I had this thought. Wow, things could have been so much worse. Haha, no really, its true. I am beyond exhausted now, yes, and 2 out of 3 kids are sick...but when I stop and think about the reality of the situation and all the Lord spared us from today, my perspective changes.

For instance...I am so thankful for:

29. A laptop that still works {the puke was ever so close, but not a drop on the keyboard}

30. A dependable friend

31. A mattress that we were already planning to replace - no need to worry about that one, cleaned it the best I could but we'll see.

32. A middle child who rarely gets sick and knows how to play on his own when the going gets tough around here.

33. An email today, reminding us of our free period of the Starz movie channel. Playing tonight: Up and Planet 51. Thank you, Lord.

34. 2 extra hours to get my Azure order in.

35. Dillons mashed potatoes.

36. A washing machine that leaked after my sheets were clean, not before.

37. A handy husband who attempts to fix issues on his own {and sends me to bed}.

38. Tomorrow: a chance to stay home and hibernate in this blizzard. :)

I'm sure there are more things to praise Him for, but my eyes are heavy now. Janet posted this quote on fb today that sums it all up:

"A willing acceptance of all that God assigns and a glad surrender of all that I am and have, constitute the key to receiving the gift of a quiet heart."

Elizabeth Elliott, Keep a Quiet Heart, p. 12

Monday, February 07, 2011

At the end of the day...

Today has been long. Dave got free tickets to the KU game, so I haven't seen him since he left this morning.

I haven't done the evening routine with the kids in a couple months now, so tonight was a bit of a stretch for me, energy wise. But it went smoothly, and when I was cuddled up with two boys, still damp from the bath, we just read and read. They both laid a head on my shoulders when we prayed.

Simon wanted to know if I can feel the baby. Yes, amazingly enough, I can.

Ethan wanted to know how big it is. About the size of a grape, E. He cocks his head and thinks on that one for a bit. :)

They are getting excited, and it is very sweet to watch. Reminds me of how they prayed for a baby sister for so many months, and how much they both adore her now. Family is precious.

I have so many things to be thankful for, but these are His blessings I've noticed today...

21. Flowers in bloom, just days later!

22. Faithful friends who pray.

23. Grace to make it through the difficult task I was worried about this weekend.

24. Dinner in the crockpot by 9 am.

25. The energy to make yogurt this morning.

26. And pumpkin bread too. Haven't baked in a good long while.

27. Mornings without morning sickness.

28. Evenings are a different story, but even then, there is grace. And zofran.

27. An engineer husband, passing on his skills.

28. A tiny heart, beating steady. We are so blessed.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Beginning to write them down

Reading Ann's book has inspired me to record the little things I am thankful for, an exercise in learning the discipline of gratefulness. Because I want my perspective to be His perspective. To see the day, the moment, as He sees it.

{A Christmas ago, Dave bought me Nancy Lee DeMoss' book Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy on a whim, and it was just what I needed to read. It is very much the same message as 1000 Gifts. Both authors encourage practicing thankfulness, to make it the habit of your life. And truly, this has been life-changing for me - to look for His hand, the good, in all circumstances. It brings so much peace and contentment...and joy!}

I read through my blog a few weeks ago and was inspired again to keep recording our little lives and the things the Lord has been teaching me. I forget so quickly...and this journaling that I've done so far is important. So that I can look back and really see...

So today I'm thankful for...

  1. Quiet times {that aren't really quiet} when my oldest wants to join me. He is reading through John. Precious!
  2. Sharing with each other what the Lord showed us in our reading.

  3. Asking the Lord to help us submit to the Holy Spirit today (Galations 5), and talking about what that means.
  4. Winter whites, shooting up on the table. Planted only a week and a half ago! Every day we watch them grow a little and we are amazed!

  5. Messages from boys.

  6. A hard day, opportunity to work on someone's heart.
  7. The cheerful obedience that follows.
  8. Basil growing up tall. I can't wait to have a garden!

  9. The first blizzard I can remember.
  10. Passion tea from Starbucks, and sweet friends that drop it by and stay awhile.
  11. Dave home early. Never happens!
  12. The offer of a snow blower from a neighbor.
  13. Snow days, now 5 this year already.
  14. Choosing fun over chores...snow icecream!

  15. A daughter to raid her daddy's candy drawer.

  16. Beautiful children.
  17. Brothers who love each other.

  18. Netflix.
  19. A husband who helps.
  20. And children who do too.

"The Lord looks from heaven;
He sees all the sons of men...
He fashions their hearts individually;
He considers all their works.
Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear Him,
on those who hope in His mercy...
our soul waits for the Lord;
He is our help and our shield.
For our heart shall rejoice in Him,
Because we have trusted in His holy name.
Psalm 33:13-21

Anything less than gratitude and trust is practical atheism. Are stress and worry evidences of a soul too lazy, too undisciplined, to keep gaze fixed on God? ...Isn't joy worth the effort of trust? - Ann Voskamp