Thursday, November 05, 2009

Brief autumn recap

I have been increasing tired and having trouble getting around, but we still managed to have a little autumn fun in the past few weeks. Iain loves to cook and was very excited to help me make and decorate these sugar cookies.

He also throughly enjoyed pumpkin carving. We read "My Happy Pumpkin: God's Light Shining Through Me" before we carved it, and Iain took it as an instructional manual for the whole procedure. He turned the pages and told us the steps to follow.

And here is the finished result:

On Halloween we went to the Reformation Celebration at church. I was so busy, that I didn't get a chance to take many pictures, but here is Iain as a train driver and me as a medieval lady.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Holiday Food Fest

I think this looks like fun. I will probably at least follow along and check the blogs. If I get super ambitious, I may even cook something! I know. My eyebrows are climbing into my hairline too.

Here is the schedule:
Thanksgiving & Fall Desserts November 5th hosted at Hoosier Homemade
Thanksgiving & Fall Dishes November 12th hosted at Tasty Eats at Home
Gifts of Good Taste Novemeber 19th hosted at Getting Freedom
Holiday Cocktails, Mocktails, & Appetizers December 3rd hosted at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free
Holiday Dishes December 10th hosted at Gluten Free Easily
Holiday Desserts December 17th hosted at Life as Mom

As everyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. So I'm excited to have some seasonal reading and some inspiration for new dishes. Some of the hosts are gluten or sugar free, but the recipes are open to all kinds of cooking. Happy Christmas!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Nesting: Part 1

I don't remember ever feeling a strong urge to "nest" with Iain, but it may be that my memory is faulty. At any rate, I'm absolutely chomping at the bit to work on my little girl's room, but it involves moving heavy things around, a definite no-no for me right now. We've been very blessed by the Lord and our friends to receive a number of things secondhand including our changing table, some clothing, our bedding, a bouncer, a highchair, 2 strollers, and a car seat. We also purchased our crib off craigslist and a swing from a yard sale.

Nevertheless it is easy to covet the brand new items, magazine-ready nurseries, and the slew of matching equipment that is on display at Babies-R-Us. I really wish my heart wouldn't go there. It is such a disrespectful discounting of all that God has done and the practical love of Christ that my brothers and sisters have poured out on me.

I am so thankful to have what we need for our precious little girl. God is so good.

At any rate, the first and only thing I have accomplished for this girl's nursery (I promise we are working on a name for her!) is recovering an ottoman. I'm really rather pleased with how it came out considering my general sewing ineptitude and the reckless fervor that came over me when I decide to attempt this project. I was inspired by several blogs (readers, don't get any ideas!) and decided to take apart the crib bumpers for the fabric to recover one of the black ottomans that currently reside in the office. I was pleased with this since I already have the crib bumpers and didn't intend to use them in the crib, and I already had the ottoman. So if the grand scheme failed, I wouldn't lose anything but time.

Ok, here are the before and after shots:

Oooh, just realized that is a bit blurry. I do really hate using my flash. Anyway, that is the remaining ottoman who has relocated to our living room. I recovered its twin.

Well, there's my first project for our little girl. I basically made a paper pattern, cut and sewed the fabric to fit, and then had Brian help me staple it on (our staple gun is very heavy duty and I couldn't manage it on my own). Overall, I'm pleased with it, and when she outgrows it I can pull the staples out and have two black ottomans again.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Autumn Mist

We had a lovely rare fog this morning, so the boys and I decided a little trip to the Greenbelt was in order! It's so fun to see Iain developing friendships.

It was pretty chilly this morning. There was even snow on the foothills.

We saw some geese gliding quietly in the fog. They were beautiful, but the the boys were so excited that they quickly scared the birds away!

Just a hint of fall color in the cottonwood trees this morning.

Iain and his buddy had fun "taking a race" down the Greenbelt. I walked as fast as I could and jogged a bit alongside them-- hopefully I won't feel that later.

Of course when we got home, we had to have some hot "tocolate" with "marshmelons." Yummy! I love autumn, and I'm thrilled that we've settled in a place that has it!

Saturday, October 03, 2009

Lord of the harvest

The LORD will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest. Psalm 85:12

We've had a cold snap here lately-- the first taste of fall. With my new internal heater, I'm only too happy for some cooler weather. Alas, the cold has killed our garden. I harvested the last four zucchini yesterday. For novice gardeners we had a great crop and we learned a lot. We planted onions, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, basil, cilantro, mint, pepperchinis, and strawberries. Our apple tree bore loads of apples, but they are sadly infested with worms. Next year we will be better prepared and spray in the spring.

I made fresh salsa, zucchini grinders, zucchini muffins, zucchini bread, and pesto. We had the blessing of sharing our abundance with friends and neighbors too. Next year I hope to learn to can and make more of our harvest last through the winter. I do have about 18 cups of shredded zucchini and some pesto frozen. We are also hoping to plant more variety and a much denser garden to increase yield and keep weeds out. Iain is very firm that next year he wants to have corn! I'd like to plant pumpkin and bell peppers as well. Next year our strawberries and rhubarb will be more mature and hopefully we will see more fruit from them.

It has been amazing to see food coming out of the ground in our backyard-- truly more than we were prepared to handle. What a blessing and such a wondrous testimony to God's loving care for His people and His world. It was great for this city girl to get a taste of the rhythm of the natural world this year.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Big Reveal

Yesterday we went to the doctor's office for our ultrasound. Baby looks beautifully healthy, praise God! It is so amazing that a whole new person can be formed in 9 months in such a small place. The complexity of the human body is mind boggling, and day after day, healthy babies are born all around the world. God is so good. It is hard to describe how blessed we feel to have our own special little one.

Well, you are probably wondering if we saw what baby's gender is. We did. It's a girl! We are all very happy to have a new little girl for our family. Mama is very excited to buy dresses and bows and Iain is looking forward to holding his baby sister very carefully. Papa is already calculating wedding costs and planning to protect her. :) None of us can wait to meet her.

We haven't decided on her name yet, so we'll keep you posted. I feel her moving all the time and I can't wait until Brian and Iain can feel her too. We are so blessed to have our precious baby girl!

Dear Heavenly Father,
You have been so generous and kind to us. You have given us far beyond what we could imagine or deserve. Thank you for keeping our precious little girl safe and strong. Thank you for giving us our dear son-- protecting and keeping him. Thank you for our family. You are the God of the unexpected, the champion of the weak, the one who turns tragedy to joy and darkness to light. We love You and long to worship You all the days of our lives. Praise Your holy name. Thank you for remembering and caring for Your people and covering them with your covenant of love and mercy. Help us to begin to love others with a portion of the love that You have loved us with. In Jesus' name, amen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

One day at a time

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

I have a problem with worry. It stems from perfectionism and my personal preference to have things planned out. It is good to have a plan, but I need to remember that MY plan is not the one that keeps the universe running.

I also have a problem with depression. I think I am beginning to see a partial link between these two problems. When I am busy teleporting myself to the what-ifs of tomorrow, next month, and 2012, I see enormous obstacles and future failures, and I lose heart. I lose hope.

I have often associated this verse strictly with money, but it has broader implications too. I need to hold my plans and dreams lightly, whether for the day or for next year.

"Give us today our daily bread."

I have my daily bread. I have what I need for today: financially, emotionally, spiritually. I may not yet have the grace that I will need for the future-- but neither do I need it yet.

I find the short view to be helpful in fostering my faith and contentment. My God has never failed me, though I have often been impatient and frustrated with Him. Looking just at today I see a new day, with new mercies and familiar responsibilities, that He has equipped me for and will walk me through. Today is enough. If it is a troubled day, then it is difficult enough to get through this one day alone. If it is an ordinary day, the shorter view shows me how much I have to be thankful for.

Looking just at today, it makes it easier for me to sit in quietly in peace, resting in the Lord's care and provision for that moment.

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, August 17, 2009

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

The link above is to a New York Times photography blog entry that depicts the state of many of Sadaam Hussein's former palaces. They are opulent rubble heaps. The blogger aptly references Shelley's poem, Ozymandias:


I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

I was struck with a similiar feeling when we visited Westminster Abbey for the first time, and walked over graves whose markings were obliterated. Being buried in the abbey is one of the nation's highest honors, and yet there are bones there that no one can identify.

How fleeting is the success and praise we so desperately strive for here. Isaiah 40 and Psalm 2 are mighty passages that showcase the strength of the eternal God. Here are some selections from Isaiah 40:

6 A voice says, "Cry out."
And I said, "What shall I cry?"
"All men are like grass,
and all their glory is like the flowers of the field.

7 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
because the breath of the LORD blows on them.
Surely the people are grass.

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God stands forever."

22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

23 He brings princes to naught
and reduces the rulers of this world to nothing.

24 No sooner are they planted,
no sooner are they sown,
no sooner do they take root in the ground,
than he blows on them and they wither,
and a whirlwind sweeps them away like chaff.

25 "To whom will you compare me?
Or who is my equal?" says the Holy One.

28 Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

I'm going to meditate on that promise today. Lord knows I have no earthly might or prestige to invigorate me. Maybe that will help me to see His power and strength.

Thank you Lord for being mighty over all the rulers of earth, whether they bow the knee to you or not.

Baby Update

As I sit here in bed with what I deeply hope will be a quickly passing stomach bug, I find myself with time for a few blog posts.

I am 16 weeks pregnant today. Time has been passing much more quickly the second time around. I know from friends that this is common as your first child tends to take a lot of time and focus away from being pregnant. But I am still experiencing a lack of comprehension that this is happening. I am beginning to wonder if I will ever feel pregnant with this baby, or if I'll still be somewhat surprised when the doctor produces a newborn from my nether regions!

Generally everything has been happening earlier: my stomach is expanding more quickly, my joints are loosening, and I really think I have felt baby move quite a bit! This is shocking, since I didn't feel Iain until sometime after 20 weeks, but there it is.

We are working on names, but have yet to find anything that we love. The naming process is complicated by the fact that Brian and I really love to choose names that have a significant meaning. All too often the best meaning names have some truly terrible monikers attached.

And yes, we will be finding out whether baby is a boy or a girl, and we will let you know! That should happen sometime next month.

Lastly, I feel completely overwhelmed by the medical costs of having this precious gift from God. They are completely beyond our ability to pay. Please pray that God will grant me peace and faith in knowing that He will provide for us and for baby.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you so much for this new gift of life. Thank you for entrusting him or her to our care. Please give us wisdom and grace as we raise the children you have richly blessed us with. Strengthen our faith, help us to hope in You alone. Pour your redeeming love over my children. Please save and protect them both. Give them tender hearts that desire You above all.
In Your precious son's name, amen.

Psalm 113

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise, O servants of the LORD,
praise the name of the LORD.

2 Let the name of the LORD be praised,
both now and forevermore.

3 From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets,
the name of the LORD is to be praised.

4 The LORD is exalted over all the nations,
his glory above the heavens.

5 Who is like the LORD our God,
the One who sits enthroned on high,

6 who stoops down to look
on the heavens and the earth?

7 He raises the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;

8 he seats them with princes,
with the princes of their people.

9 He settles the barren woman in her home
as a happy mother of children.
Praise the LORD.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news.

Brian preached on Joseph and Judah in church this morning-- what a beautiful message of love and redemption for the losers who just can't get it together, no matter how hard they try. (You can listen to it here if you like.) How often I put myself in that category-- and wear it as a badge of shame. But that's not right-- it is my only glory. As Paul says in Phillipians 3:

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith."

O Lord help me to stop trusting in myself-- Help me to accept myself as flawed and broken and to see any good thing that does happen as a testimony to Your grace and glory, and not the beginnings of some broken runged ladder that I can try to use to climb to You.

But I still struggle with how sanctification fits in-- how does one strive to be like Christ without relying on that performance to please God? Reading in 2 Corinthians 12, I wonder if thorn in my flesh can be my yet uneradicated sinfulness? Maybe God doesn't take it away to remind me of how much I need him? Can that apply to this verse? I've certainly never thought about it that way before. Here is the passage I'm thinking of:

"Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

So here's to walking or limping rather, in weakness, and praying that the Lord would accomplish all His purposes to His glory.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Baby Bean

This photo is quite old by now. It is our 7 week ultrasound. You can't see much in it at all, but we were so happy to see even this little bit as our little one seems to be developing well so far, praise God. Yesterday we went to the doctor for my 11 week appointment and got to hear baby's heartbeat for the first time. Thank you Lord!

This whole pregnancy stills seems very unreal. Last time we had to work and pray and strive so hard just to get pregnant-- it seems impossible that it could just happen. I almost feel because I did nothing to make it happen. I guess that just shows what a hard time I still have accepting God's love and graciousness.

I've had lots of pregnancy symptoms so far: nausea, dizziness, shakiness, acute sense of smell, fatigue, mood swings, strange food cravings. Now they seem to be settling down a bit in preparation for the second trimester. I'm thrilled to be getting off early. I'm beginning to pick up parts of my usual work again-- even cooking lunch today and a cake last night. Nothing like being under the weather to make you appreciate feeling good and going about your routine again.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

And we're baaaaaaaaack.

It has been a very long time since I've written on my blog. On one hand, I really don't like that because it means there is a gap in our little collection of family memories, but on the other hand, I don't mind so much, because sometimes you don't have much to say, or life intervenes with more pressing cares than journaling.

But a lot has happened since I last wrote here-- we're slowly settling into our new house, we've planted a vegetable garden and have 3 chickens, my mom and sister came for a visit, we traded our enormous 4 poster bed for an old Jeep, we went to San Francisco.

And we got the biggest and best surprise of our lives. God has opened my womb and we are expecting a new baby in early February. This news is so amazing that we still ask ourselves if it can possibly be true.

I really feel that this baby is a miracle, given all the damage inside my body. This child is such a special gift from the Lord. I wonder what purpose he has for this new person? I'm so excited for Iain to have a little brother or sister. He doesn't know yet, but has lately been praying for "a new buddy for our family." He came up with this idea all on his own, and the timing is good!

So we are rejoicing here. I've been so thankful for summer break as Brian has been home to take care of Iain and household chores while I've been sick. Morning sickness started at about 4 weeks with this baby and I've been pretty tired too. I'm looking forward to being finished with the first trimester and going about my regular routine again.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'm throwing the good girl off the bus.

God is teaching me a new thing-- and it is actually just the gospel. It stings a bit to see that I too am still needing spiritual milk, but that is of little consequence.

Doni's recent blog post on self-sacrifice really gave me a lot to chew on. She basically posits that God isn't always calling us to sacrifice because Jesus has already sacrificed for us, and that any sacrifice we do make ultimately should not be about us, but about him. She points out that often when we make a sacrifice we are doing it to earn God's favor and to prove to ourselves that we are better than others. I know that is true of me.

Anybody have any thoughts about this? How do we balance God's gracious fatherly love towards us with running a good race, or worshipping God by making our lives into living sacrifices? How can faithfully worship and serve God (out of adoration and not just sucking up!) ? How can we live for eternity and for others in an honest and non-works based way?

I'm longing for freedom in Christ. Freedom from guilt. Freedom to serve in a meaningful way that is not all about me. Freedom to worship in a way that isn't all about me. Freedom from self. Freedom from works and self-righteousness. Lord please remove the wicked selfish desires of my heart. Take away the longing to worshiped, adored, and approved of. Take away the desire to be good in order to be loved. Take away the fear of man. Please replace these desires with the desire to worship and adore you. Replace it with the desire to approve of what you approve of. Grant me the desire to love you so much that I want to be like you. Give me a fear of you. Set me free Lord Jesus. Help me believe in the sufficency of your death. Help me believe that I am dead to sin and alive in Christ, no longer bound by the law. Make me a perfect piece of your creation, fulfilling my purpose and bringing glory to you by joyfully doing what you created me to do in full contentment and peace in you. Help me to fear nothing and to jump unabashedly through the air into your arms, knowing that they will catch me. I believe I am yours. I believe that you love me. Help me walk daily in the confidence that I am your precious daughter, bough with the highest possible price, and that no one could ever approve of me or love me more than that. Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe

Today was not a good day. If anybody was giving out "best mom" awards, today would have disqualified me for sure. I was impatient and irritable. I didn't use my time or my words well. I didn't cherish my son. That grieves my heart. I just clicked over to Noah Steven's blog again this evening and it reminded me of how much I have to be thankful for. Noah was born about the same time as Iain, but Noah died last year. I know that we all have less than stellar days as parents, but it is good to be reminded of the precious and fragile gift that our children are. I pray that God would help me steward my great gift tomorrow and all the days thereafter. I'm thankful for the gift of God's grace and forgiveness, which are new every morning.

Nothing new under the sun

Speaking of the lower classes:

"It's so consoling! It's such a delight to know that, when they suffer, they don't feel! Sometimes I have been quite uneasy for that sort of people, but now I shall just dismiss the idea of them altogether. "

--Miss Dartle. Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

This line caught me while watching Masterpiece tonight. How many injustices have been justified under this cloak? Slavery, social discrimination, abortion, the Holocaust? But we mustn't worry about the grief or trials of that particular kind. After all, they aren't human.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A New Home for the Douglas Family

We're under contract on a HOUSE! A perfect little house for us, right in the city, with a nice backyard and washer dryer hookups! Here it is:

Welcome to our home. This is is our new living room.

Here is the dining area.

The kitchen.

The hallway, complete with two friendly faces.

I have more pictures of the bedrooms and the bath, but blogger was giving me grief about posting them right, so it will have to wait.

And the backyard with plenty of running room!

We're hoping to close March 17th. Buying a house at this point was so far beyond our expectations or even hopes. This is just a phenomenal blessing from God. Thank you Lord for blessing us over and above what we could think possible.

We're just thrilled to pieces!

My Thoughts Exactly

I was surfin' some of my favorite frugal blogs recently and ran across this post on money choices from Simple Mom. She quotes JD Roth as saying “You can have anything you want - but you can’t have everything you want.” I've found that to be true in terms of time and money. We have to make choices and those choices result in our individual unique lives. For me staying home has been a major time/money choice and it definitely does change the way our life (and budget!) look. Sometimes I'm tempted to regret that choice, but only when I'm looking at the wrong things. No, we don't have matching furniture. No, we don't go out to eat. Yes, I have to do my laundry at the apartment laundromat. Yes, we have one car and my husband cycles to to work everyday. But that is no reason to feel deprived. I get to spend every day with my two year old son. I see every smile, hear every laugh, and catch every tear that falls. We are able by God's grace to pay our bills. My husband has a job he loves. We are very rich.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Beautiful Vulnerability

Lately I have felt the Lord calling me to be his feet and hands. To love the unlovely-- and not just in Africa, but the unlovely in my life. You know, those people who have problems, the ones you can't stand, the ones with the messy lives that seem way too complicated to sort out. And I'm being convicted about how very little I actually do that as I write this. Faces are coming before my eyes, and all I can say is: Lord, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Help me do better.

This necklace was a gift from Brian for my birthday. It is what I want and need to have as a Christian, and as a mom who struggles with infertility-- an open heart. My heart is being called and awakened towards little ones in foster care who are broken and abused and seem too messed up to help. With each story I hear, the passion to serve them grows in my heart. But fear has come too. How can I help them? They're too far gone, they've seen too much, their future is too uncertain. What about my own son? And the Lord has answered me:

"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

I cannot be the Rock that those kids-- or anyone else, for that matter-- need. God is their Rock and their comfort. He is the only stability for anyone. Those of us who come from loving homes or good financial backgrounds can be deceived into thinking that is where our stability comes from. But God is big enough for any fears or problems and if I can point the way to run to that Rock that is higher than all of us, then I have helped someone find rest. Anything else is all too temporary.

Along with this, he has helped to realize that loving people is painful. There is no way around that, except not to love. There are no risk-free relationships. There aren't any guarantees with biological children, let alone children who are strangers who have been hurt and abandoned by those who ought to love and care for them more than anyone else. So loving foster kids won't be easy. And there are times when it won't feel nice or be pretty. But being vulnerable and open to being hurt to minister love and comfort in the name of Christ is a beautiful thing.

This was from the bulletin at church several months ago and I taped it above my desk:

"By Your command, O God, I want to meet each person today, not just as an interruption to my plans or an obstruction to my will, but as a never-to-be-repeated life, made in Your image, in whom I can meet the very person of Jesus Christ."

Lord, please help me to see the opportunities you give me every moment of every day to love the people you have put in my life. Help me not to be too lazy or selfish to do that. And Lord if you call us into foster care ministry, please give us the wisdom, strength, and deep reserves of love that we will need to do the job.

I hope that we are able to foster at some point in the near future, but even if that door closes, I know that this compassion the Lord is laying on me is for a purpose. I will wait on him as patiently as I can and strive to serve him where I am until he shows me what that is. I am comforted by the beauty that vulnerability to the Lord has brought in my life. I didn't choose the path of infertility, but I have learned so much by walking it. So now I can say: Lord, I am open to your plan, whatever it is. You know what is best. I trust you to take my weakness and make it strength. That is what my birthday necklace symbolizes to me. An open heart to people, and an open heart to the will of God. When I wear it I hope it will remind me of all of this, which I am all to prone to forget.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Another Milestone

Today is the first day of Potty Boot Camp in our house, and at nap time it looks like things have gone pretty well. Iain has gone on the potty successfully 5 times and has only had one accident. I've been plying him with plenty of chocolate milk and we've spent a good deal of the day in the bathroom (he has made 24 trips to the potty so far today). The day has been a "happy day" according to Iain, so that makes me feel good. We've been watching potty videos online, coloring potty pictures, playing games, reading stories, and having special potty day drinks. And going to the potty every 10-15 minutes. I've been stuck to him like a senator on a stimulus bill all day and I'm feeling pretty worn out even though it is only two o'clock.

After his first success "I did it, mommy! I did it!" we called Daddy at work, Nana, and Grandma and ate graham crackers shaped like his beloved cars. He has been wearing new big boy underwear with trains or cars on them all day, and we are only on the third pair. We lost the first pair in the enthusiasm of that first success when tossed his underwear for joy into the air only to have them land in the newly filled potty. Whoops. :) I also gave him a new Curious George book that we read while waiting for It to happen. So it has been a happy, but tiring day. And naptime is over very soon!

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

What's for Dinner?

I am often baffled about what to make when I do my weekly menu planning, despite the fact that I've been in charge of making dinner for nearly 8 years! We tried this black bean soup tonight and it is a winner! It is wonderfully flavorful and fairly inexpensive to make. Sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture before we ate it tonight.

I've often found that the key to cooking recipes with many ingredients economically is part planning and part improvisation. Earlier this week we had burritos, so there was some overlap in the ingredients. And sometimes I just improvise a bit. Instead of buying a sweet potato I used carrots in this recipe.

I served it with some leftover tortillas that I baked in the oven to give them some crispness for dipping. It would also be good with a salad or quesadillas.

Here is the recipe:

It came out awesome!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Heartbreak in the Theatre

While my sweet husband watched the Super Bowl, I took some time off and went to see a movie downtown. I decided to see Slumdog Millionaire, a story about an impoverished Indian boy named Jamal who makes it onto Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. He answers so many questions correctly that he draws suspicion and must defend his knowledge to police. That is all I knew about the film before I went to see it. I was completely unprepared for the emotional earthquake I was unleashing on myself. The film focuses on Jamal's childhood in the slums as an orphan. Nothing good happens. Watching a five-year-old orphan being tortured is not something that this mama's heart can take. This film has a happy ending, and is worth seeing, but it is not easy to watch.

The worst part is that while this film is fiction, the suffering of children world-wide is not. And they don't get a happy ending. God continues to fill my heart with compassion for orphans, but I feel so powerless. My empathy does nothing to help them and is a painful burden to me. Not that it is anything to compare with what these children actually live through. I'm asking the Lord to help me find a way to help them. Please pray with me that he will help me find an outlet for this burden he has given me.

I see that I am not the first to feel this way. Psalm 10:

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak,
who are caught in the schemes he devises.

He boasts of the cravings of his heart;
he blesses the greedy and reviles the LORD.

In his pride the wicked does not seek him;
in all his thoughts there is no room for God.

His ways are always prosperous;
he is haughty and your laws are far from him;
he sneers at all his enemies.

He says to himself, "Nothing will shake me;
I'll always be happy and never have trouble."

His mouth is full of curses and lies and threats;
trouble and evil are under his tongue.

He lies in wait near the villages;
from ambush he murders the innocent,
watching in secret for his victims.

He lies in wait like a lion in cover;
he lies in wait to catch the helpless;
he catches the helpless and drags them off in his net.

His victims are crushed, they collapse;
they fall under his strength.

He says to himself, "God has forgotten;
he covers his face and never sees."

Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.

Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
"He won't call me to account"?

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief;
you consider it to take it in hand.
The victim commits himself to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man;
call him to account for his wickedness
that would not be found out.

The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.

You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.

This is my comfort. I think I need to meditate on this:

But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.

Sing to God, sing praise to his name,
extol him who rides on the clouds
his name is the LORD—
and rejoice before him.

A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows,
is God in his holy dwelling.

God sets the lonely in families,
he leads forth the prisoners with singing;
but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. Psalm 68:3-6

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Making Do

I start so many days discouraged and often I allow that discouragement to rob me of my creativity and zeal for my job. Thankfully, this is something I am beginning to see in myself. So I'm trying to be intentional about fighting these feelings. I'm convicted as I'm writing that spending the 20 minutes that I ostensibly "don't have time for" to do devotions in the morning would probably also help and save me lots of mope time later.

Today the scenario is less than ideal, as it always is, isn't it? Really it is the rare day that emotions, desires, finances, to-do lists, and our frail flesh combine to bring a smile to the face. I had to babysit today, my back is still sore, the house needs attention, there is a pile of laundry to do, and I really need to do my menu planning and go shopping. It is also the end of the month, so I need to make every dollar count. So let's be real. What can I do to glorify God today? What can I be thankful for? This is where I need to train my thoughts to run, instead of on all that needs to be done and all the complaints I have.

So today's strategy for fighting off my depression is Making Do. I do this a lot actually. It is a really important skill to have if you want to live within your means. After picking up my little babysitting charge we came back home to try to make something productive of the time. As I was making them a snack and cleaning the kitchen I noticed a sad solitary banana quietly dissolving into brown mushiness. I was tempted to berate myself for allowing it to go to waste when inspiration struck. I used my new immersion blender (thanks, Santa!) to blend the banana and two oranges together with some milk. I supplemented snack time with some of it and froze the rest in an ice cube tray so I can grab them to whip up smoothies for breakfast some morning. I've heard of people doing this with baby food, so why not smoothies? (I threw some frozen raspberries in to make enough to fill the tray at the end.)

Next up was Making Do with my time. I can't get a lot done with two active children underfoot, it's true, but I can get something done. So I did. It is amazing what you can accomplish in little bits of time. My kitchen is clean and one load of laundry is folded and the toys are all put away. After a morning of babysitting, I'm satisfied with that.

The next challenge was lunch. The boys had toast with jelly for breakfast, so pb & j was out. That's usually my stand-by lunch when the cupboards are getting bare. Instead I baked two potatoes, mixed up a can of tuna, and popped some popcorn. They split a cup of applesauce for dessert.

Making Do makes me grateful. It helps me use what I have and appreciate it. It gives me a chance to use my creativity. And gratitude and creativity were sorely needed in my heart this morning. Thank you Lord, for the necessity of making it work, even when it isn't ideal.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inauguration Day

I'm sitting here watching the Inauguration and I'm struck, as many people must be, by the sight of political rivals embracing. Of course, it is for show, but it is amazing. In so many countries this show of unity is impossible. In so many countries and in so many times past, political rivals strike and kill one another with no regard for the safety and happiness of the people of the nation. Thank you, dear Lord for the peace of our country. You have blessed us so richly here. We have day to day peace-- we expect and take it for granted. Our lives are stable and our standard of living is one of the highest in the world. Please forgive my complaining heart for the very few things I don't have. Please wash away that sense of entitlement that I and so many of my compatriots have been born with. Forgive and release from complacency and the idols of personal peace and affluence. Help me to use this peace and stability to further your kingdom, not to feed my flesh. Thank you for forgiving me for my sins. Thank you for your graciousness to me. Praise your holy name. Amen.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

The struggle to trust

Last night I started reading The Strength of Mercy by Jan Beazely. I found it so compelling that I couldn't put it down until I'd finished the book. It is one family's testimony of adopting a child from Romania and even, to their surprise, starting an adoption agency.

But the happy ending in this book is not what not what encouraged me most. It was the story of one woman, one family, struggling and wrestling to pursue God's will and to trust him wholeheartedly, despite painful circumstances; intermingled with the powerful words of comfort that the Lord sent from Scripture, really stirred my spirit and encouraged my heart.

In particular one sentence from the introduction really caught my heart. "This book is a testimony to God's faithfulness and to the strength of His mercy even just for one child.... May His mercy move your heart and take you further than you ever thought possible."

Even just for one. It is so easy to feel overlooked and forgotten by God, but he cares for each person individually and will work his plan. As I, and every other person on planet earth can attest, his plans often cause us pain and difficulty, yes, even death. But he never ceases caring for his people. He never forgets us.

Here is a selection of other words that leapt out at me during my reading last night:

"The LORD Almighty has sworn,
'Surely, as I have planned, so it will be,
and as I have purposed, so it will stand.'"
Isaiah 14 :24

"Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him..."
Job 13:15a

"These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open."
Rev 3:7

The fact that God is our heavenly Father means so much more to me now that I have a son. I hate so much to discipline him, but I know it is my responsibility to train and nurture him, setting the safe boundaries by which he can grow into a healthy adult. I do cause him pain and suffering, but truly only with his good in mind. But he can't understand. Not yet. So he just has to trust me and obey, and one day it will be clear to him. I thank God for the overwhelming love he gives us for our children, because this is a taste of how much he loves us. He delights in me, more than I delight in Iain, the son of my longing, the son of my tears and struggles, the joy of my heart. I love to bless my son, and I rejoice over him with singing. God loves you that way too. He does. Don't forget it. Trust him.

"Just like Abraham, who tried to produce an heir before God's hand moved in supernatural blessing on Sarah's womb, most of us have tried at one time or another to manipulate God's will to make it fit out time frame, our desires, and our purposes. This manipulation can be so subtle that we may not realize what we've done until it is too late. Then we find our flesh has given birth to an Ishmael. " p. 57

That passage fits me like an pair of jeans. I am daily driven by my impatience to try to push things along a little quicker, to get on with it, get over it. But we learn so much in waiting on God. In our time in England we marveled at the general good behavior of dogs. They are welcome on buses and trains, and allowed to run off-leash in parks. They aren't allowed in shops though. I can't tell you how many times I saw dogs sitting patiently waiting outside stores, completely free and untied, just looking into the shop for their master. I never saw any amount of temptation move them, not the length of time, the multitude of other people walking past, enticing aromas, or other dogs. I remain amazed at their patient obedience. It seems a strange model to take for oneself, but how I need to be more like those dogs!

Today is Sunday, of course, and Brian and I were both powerfully moved by the service today. The entire order of worship resonanted deep in our hearts, nearly every piece already embued with meaning from past lessons. What a blessing it is when God speaks so powerfully and clearly and you feel the Spirit burning inside.

The Text for Reflection and Preparation:
"And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you." Genesis 45:5

or as Joseph later says to his brothers :

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive". Gen 50:20

The Opening Prayer:
Open our eyes, O God, to Your presence and action in our day, that we may see how you are active in preserving life and providing salvation in the midst of the worls'd violence and rebellion, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Call to Worship:

Elder: Praise the Lord!
People: Not to us, O Lord, not to us,
but to Your name give glory
because of your lovingkindness,
because of Your truth.

Or as, Brian and I have sung in the past:

Non nobis, Domine, Domine, non nobis, Domine

Sed nomini tuo da gloriam.

This song features prominently in the film version of Henry V, which is deeply significant to us. If you are interested to know why, you can read Brian's article about Henry V here.

Then we sang Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing (who can stay dry-eyed for that one?) and In Christ Alone, a song that will always remind me of the struggles and joys we experienced in the UK.

And then after the confession of sin, Shelton Woods preached this sermon about Joseph. (Choose the January 4th sermon.)

All of this adds up to an overwhelming word of comfort from the Lord as we have recently been thinking, talking, and praying about buying a house here in Boise or pursuing an adoption, and have been praying for several other people in our lives that are hurting, especially in this same area of infertility. He see us. He knows us. He has a plan, and nothing is impossible with him. We may go through pain and suffering and defeat and failure in 2009. Everything that we trust in other than the Lord may come tumbling down, but I, with Paul say:

"I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord". Romans 8:38-39