18 June 2008

"let's all say it together..."

I guess the thankful posts could begin to get a little old if anybody actually read this (which I doubt), but I have been so totally overwhelmed lately by God's goodness that it has to find an outlet somewhere.

I've taken up the new and fascinating hobby of reading other people's blogs. I'm sure there are some happy, normal-lifed folks out there writing blogs... but the vast majority of blogs I'm finding are all about a person's mystery disease and all its attending maladies or daily updates on a child's NICU progress or treatment for some horribly deforming congenital issue... and it seems that every last one of them, no matter what the main topic is, has at least a little something in it about miscarriages or pregnancy problems at the very least. I'm talking pretty downer stuff. Not that they're all downer blogs... far from it actually. I've discovered several women of wonderfully amazing faith in these "random" blogs I stumbled upon. I feel very sure that there is absolutely nothing random about me finding them, actually... but I think I already addressed that briefly in another blog.

All of it has added up to one big, huge, ginormous question for me... WHO AM I?

...or maybe an even better and even HUGER question would be... Who the heck do I THINK I am?

I remember when I found out I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant and I remember wondering... actually forming the thoughts, "How is this happening to me? Why is this happening to me? Stuff like this just doesn't happen to me..." As if I was some kind of fairy princess living in a bubble... all favored by God and totally removed from those things that happen to mere mortals.

What I'm coming to realize (which I feel like is the big reason for me "happening" upon so many similar blogs) is the truth of it all. I am the merest mortal of them all and am just as susceptible to all the sad, hard, hurtful things here as the next guy. I could be the one battling cancer, I could be the one looking through my tears each day at my child's deformities wondering what the world was going to do with him when I wasn't there to shield him from it, I could be the one missing a piece of myself and taking flowers to little gravestone, I could be suffering any number of horrible trials, I could be struggling, fighting every day for my own life and the life of my child. I shudder at the reckless thoughts I've had... that I might be "special" in God's sight. Thank God for His mercy.

But... every morning my husband kisses me goodbye before going to work. I wake up to the bright little face of a perfectly healthy and normal little boy. My entire immediate family is healthy and whole. I go about each day in complete normalcy and never really wonder about whether or not the next day is going to be anything but normal all over again.

Who am I?

Why is God's hand so faithfully over my family?

How am I one of the ones who is so blessed beyond measure?

I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Because I know me. And I know that I have to be one of the vilest, darkest, back-slidden, doubting sinners out of all of God's creation. I take it all for granted. The amount of thankfulness in my heart is absolutely ludicrous and I'm totally ashamed.

The amount of temporal blessings in my life is overwhelming in and of itself, but if they were all gone...

One night in July 1999, God looked down on a little punk 13 year old girl with a bad attitude and gave her another chance. How many times had I turned Him away? Some very large scary number, I'm sure, but He overlooked it. Somehow in the midst of the upset fit I was throwing that night, my heart was right and God was close. I had known my entire life that Jesus died for me, but on that night as I lay stretched out across my bed praying some unutterable prayer from the depths of my being, His blood was applied to my doorposts.

Who am I?

I don't know.

What I do know is this... God knows. And He knew when He saved me. He knew what I mess I was then and He knew about all the messes I would make from that point on. He knew I would spit in His face so many times. He knew I would totally slander His name and His cause by my actions. He knew that I was going to forget about Him time and again. He knew what kind of unworthy servant I was going to make... and on and on and on...

...and He saved me anyway.

How can I be thankful enough for that? How can I even approach being thankful enough?

I don't know.

...but I'm going to start trying a whole lot harder.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Psalm 116:1


13 June 2008

thankful some more

I've been thinking a whole lot about what it really means and what it really should mean to me that I live in the time and place that I do. Alongside that, it's really hit home to me lately how thankful I should be (I am, but I could never be thankful enough I don't think) for the family and home that God has provided me.

I was looking at my gorgeous, wonderful, amazing baby boy the other day and (as usual) just became overwhelmed by how much I love him. It's no wonder I spent the first little while after he was born sitting around in a big puddle of mush and sobbing every time I looked at him. Motherly love is the strongest, deepest, and most encompassing and bittersweet thing I've ever felt. It's wonderful and horrible at the same time.

But I digress...

As I was sitting there looking at him, I thought of something I read somewhere a while back. Many years ago, it was very common for a child to never reach his first birthday. There were so many diseases and so few treatments that it was just a given that, yes, your family probably was going to be affected by the loss of a child. This was so common, in fact, that many families refrained from naming their children until their first birthday.

I read this before I had Scotty, and while I had some idea of how deeply I would love my children, I didn't have a clue. I remember thinking that you would end up calling the kid something... like how when a dog doesn't have a name people just end up calling it "Dog." I missed the point up until the other day when it crossed my mind for no reason really (other than God putting it there, I'm convinced).

Not naming their children was some kind of attempt to not become too attached to them. They decided that since there was a good chance they would die, they would do their best to keep them at arms length until they were more assured of their health. These mothers, these strong, hard-working, tough-as-nails women made themselves hold back this love that comes so naturally and like so much water from the flood gates. They clothed them, bathed them, comforted their cries, and no doubt held them at their breast day in and day out of that first year... and still desperately tried to hold back that love. I can't imagine how anxiously they must have watched for the rise and fall of their chests as they slept or how their hearts tightened with fear at the sound of each cough or the tiniest hint of a rattle in their little chests. I can't imagine the relief that first birthday brought to the ones who got to celebrate them. Not that the 365th day is any more significant than the 364th, but a milestone is a milestone nonetheless.

I remember doing the same thing when I hit the 13 week mark. "Phew, past the scary part," I thought.

We named our son the day after he was born. And it wasn't terribly long after he was born when we first mentioned the then-far-off first birthday party. Oh, how we've taken it all for granted! Infant deaths are not nearly as common anymore, thankfully, but I know they still happen and that to those mothers who've lost babies, it's just as huge as if it did happen to nearly everyone. My heart goes out to them in whatever small way it can. I know (and I pray to God) that I can't understand all the many breaks in their hearts. I do know that if I had as many breaks in my heart as I have love for my baby, it would seem that I had no heart left at all.

God is so good to me. He blesses us every day with health and peace and freedom and I so easily take all this for granted. The beautiful squirmy little blue-eyed blessing that He's placed in our care is too much to be thankful for; I don't think I'm capable of giving enough thanks yet.

Maybe someday when I get to Heaven, after God makes me like Jesus, and after I get done praising Him for saving me, He'll let me thank Him properly for giving me a mother's heart and for filling it to overflowing... over and over and over...


09 June 2008


It's not often that I have reason enough to put everything else on hold to sit down and write anytime before midnight, but today I feel that I do.

For weeks (or months, if you'd rather, although there have been a couple short reprieves) I've been dealing with all these nagging worries. I suppose they were pretty irrational, but as any fellow worry-warts/obsessive freaks like myself know, irrationality and all of its attending darkness, depression, and otherwise certainly seems real and absolutely humongous at the time. During those shadowy times, I spent many a night after David and Scotty were in bed pleading with God to just make me feel better. "Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief," "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature," "For God has not given us the spirit of fear..." These were my mind's constant companions and I begged for God to apply them to my heart.

But He wouldn't. Night after night, despite all my passion and all my attempts to diligently seek Him, He would not comfort me... at least not to the extent I was so desperately longing for.

He did direct me to the blog of a dear woman named Angie Smith, who lost her sweet baby Audrey Caroline and chose to share her family's story with the world. I'm so glad she did, because reading about her strength and willingness to accept God's will has affected my life so much. Besides admiring her character, her story has also made me so thankful for the things I have in my life. That's not to say that I'm anywhere nearly as thankful as I ought to be, but I'm more thankful than I have been and that's something of a start. And since "a thankful heart is a happy heart," I'd been feeling somewhat better, although the same stuff was still lurking around in the back of my mind somewhere.

This morning we got up earlier and had to rearrange our normal schedule to get to Scotty's 9 month checkup. So once we got all ready and got everything together, we hit the road about 9:30. There's an S-curve near my house, and I was in the straight stretch between the two curves when I saw that I was going to meet a truck. It was one of those little white service trucks with an orange light on top. I didn't realize how fast he was going until I watched him skid sideways as he came around the curve; he dropped off the side of the road completely and kicked up a big cloud of dust, but somehow managed not to flip and actually made it back onto the road. My initial reaction was something along the lines of, "What an idiot," but then God reminded me of how many car accident related deaths I've heard about that involved someone missing a curve, dropping off the side of the road, and over correcting -- sending them into a tree or another vehicle on the opposite side of the road. And it was like God was right there saying, "I kept that from happening this time. I was right there then and I'm right there all the time."

And there was the comfort I'd been seeking.

Why do I always forget how intimately God knows me? Why can I never remember how He knows that I have to be shown things? The evidence is there throughout my life up to this point. Even in my salvation experience, as He gave me such a quiet stillness of peace with Him... one that I have to continually seek out in my soul... one the requires He show it to me again and again so that I might remember that He is the one in control, the one who holds my salvation and who is my salvation.

When I got a little ways down the road and managed to get past the initial fear and amazement of the moment, I noticed that Great Is Thy Faithfulness was the song playing through it all. How appropriate. Because the faithfulness of my Father is always playing in the background... whether I'm scared or rejoicing, so thankful that my cup runneth over or too busy to notice... He is always faithful and always sufficient for my needs.


Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not;
As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is Thy faithfulness!
Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided;
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!


05 June 2008

spending time with myself

It's been a nice evening.

After putting Scotty (and David) to bed, I took a bath... which isn't or wouldn't be anything too out of the ordinary, but I mean like a real sit-down-in-the-bathtub kind of bath... with bubbles and a towel-y pillow. I hadn't done that in a really long time because our bathtub, for whatever reason, refused to hold water... but since Scotty started taking baths in the tub we were forced to get one of those sink stopper-upper things, which enabled my bathing as well. It was lovely. I used Scotty's lavender soap, which somehow added to the allure.

After my bath and a thorough lotion-ing, I preheated the oven for a cookie. And while the oven preheated, I took off my cruddy looking bronze-ish toenail polish and put on my back-to-normal and brighter, I might add, pink. When my cookie (white chip macadamia nut, by the way) was done, I sat down with that and a glass of milk to watch The Holiday (which I enjoy because Kate Winslet is beautiful and British and Jude Law is amazingly hot and also British).

The best part of all this time spent with myself, though, was my line of thought while I was in my bath. It was odd and uncharacteristic because as I lay there looking at my toes Michelle-Pfeiffer-What-Lies-Beneath style, I noticed the stillness of the moment. No over-active, overly-aware crazy death-and-dying, planning my funeral or that of someone close to me, picturing torturous POW death-cell scenes. I actually had to think for a minute to remember what I had been thinking about. That in itself was more luxurious than the bath or anything else. Not that the bath was all that luxurious, mind you, since I don't exactly fit in the bathtub. The fact that I didn't fit in the bathtub brought me back around to what I had been thinking when I stopped to consider what I had been thinking...

I want a big bathtub...

and the big bathtub thought led to the wrap-around porch thought and the wrap-around porch idea led to the dum dee dum dee dum...

So, to wrap up this much-happier-than-usual-recently blog... here's a (you guessed it) list of all the stuff I want in my house someday:

-A big bathtub with jets and bubbles... I mean one that I can actually stretch my legs out in.
-And as long as we're in the bathroom... I want one of those big walk-in showers that are big enough to not need a door... with multiple shower heads... and one of those waterfall thingers.
-And since that would use a lot of water and I would want to be able to take ridiculously long showers, we would need one of those in-line water heaters.

...and 3's enough for now since it's 1 AM. I'll finish later.


03 June 2008

feeding the addiction

I like making lists, so while I'm up and totally alert at 12:26 AM, watching You've Got Mail after just having finished watching Sleepless in Seattle... I'm going to make a couple.

A random smattering of stuff I like:
You've Got Mail and Sleepless in Seattle, therefore Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, movie lines which David only recognizes because I say them a lot, "Hello, Diane! Take a look at these swatches!," making up my own punctuation rules when I'm not feeling Nazi-ish about it, school supplies, asparagus ferns, asparagus if it's fixed right, the smell of fall and all those memories attached to it, wrapping presents, fresh flowers in my house, long-haired men (but also bald ones...), mohawks for some reason that I've never yet understood, words like ache and mouth and perambulation, chai tea, the idea of a book club, tobacco barns, reading before bed, handkerchiefs...


02 June 2008

...and the night closed in.

Night time used to be my favorite time of the whole day. When I was in high school, I loved the time I would spend alone in my room while the house slept around me. I would usually talk to folks on instant messenger while I was getting ready for bed and then I would settle in with my 47 different pillows and a good movie. Many nights, though, I would spend at least a little bit of time writing. Just writing... about nothing and everything. Getting my heart out there on the page. There was time for it then and I needed it; I loved every second of it. Getting all that angst and passion, love or lust, sometimes anger, sometime jealousy, sometimes just nonsense out of me for a little while.

So many times still... all I want to do is pour myself out of an ink pen. It's the call of the open page that I long for so often, but there just aren't enough hours in the day. These 11-o'clock-and-later blog entries certainly show the truth of that.

But I didn't really sit down with the intention of writing about my writing habits and lack thereof. I sat down with the intention of just writing about normal life stuff in a helpless, grasping-at-straws sort of way to regain some normalcy in this brain of mine.

I planted flowers in my window boxes today. Celosia in the long one under the livingroom windows (to go with the begonias which were already there); pink and white impatiens paired up with asparagus ferns in the 2 shorter ones. They look nice... we'll see if I can keep them watered throughout the summer. Maybe it won't be as hot and dry as it was last year.

The rest of the day prior to that was uneventful... just the normal never-ending cycle of laundry interjected with the occasional dishes and Scotty-tending.

We did get to go hang out with my sister's kids while she and my bro-in-law went out for the night, and that was fun. It had been a really long time since I'd spent such a long time with the 3 of them. My niece fell asleep on me before we left, which reminds me of the Thanksgiving after she was born. She would have been nearing the 2 month mark and she fell asleep on my chest after lunch. I think I fell asleep, too. That seems like a lifetime ago. She'll be 4 in October. She was playing with her kitchen set tonight and I asked her if she was making my birthday cake. She informed me that it was not my birthday, so I asked her if she knew when my birthday was... and she said, "NEXT TO MINE!" Hehe... hers is the 8th, mine is the 18th. She's a sweetheart.

And then we came back home and it was dark and the day was over.

Depression or something grey and creeping has been an all-too-familiar companion these past months. I don't have any desire to be jubilantly happy every second of every day, but I know there was a time when I felt like there was some hope for tomorrow. My mind is weary with racing and my heart is tired of living in the shadows.

Night comes at least once every 24 hours for me and I watch each time as it approaches knowing that this will be one more time that I struggle to stay in the light as darkness closes in.

Night time used to be my favorite time of the whole day. But it's not anymore.


A thing I like

I read this today and I think it's amazing... it's the May 30th entry in Streams in the Desert, which was compiled by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman.

And no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth (Rev. 14:3).

There are songs which can only be learned in the valley. No art can teach them; no rules of voice can make them perfectly sung. Their music is in the heart. They are songs of memory, of personal experience. They bring out their burden from the shadow of the past; they mount on the wings of yesterday.
Saint John says that even in heaven there will be a song that can only be fully sung by the sons of earth--the strain of redemption. Doubtless it is a song of triumph, a hymn of victory to the Christ who made us free. But the sense of triumph must come from the memory of the chain.
No angel, no archangel can sing it so sweetly as I can. To sing it as I sing it, they much pass through my exile, and this they cannot do. None can learn it but the children of the cross.
And so, my soul, thou art receiving a music lesson from thy Father. Thou art being educated for the choir invisible. There are parts of the symphony that none can take but thee.
There are chords too minor for the angels. There may be heights in the symphony which are beyong the scale--heights which angels alone can reach; but there are depths which belong to thee, and can only be touched by thee.
Thy Father is training thee for the part the angels cannot sing; and the school is sorrow. I have heard many say that He sends sorry to prove thee; nay, He sends sorrow to educate thee, to train thee for the choir invisible.
In the night He is preparing thy song. In the valley He is tuning thy voice. In the cloud He is deepening thy chords. In the rain He is sweetening thy melody. In the cold He is moulding thy expressing. In the transition from hope to fear He is perfecting thy lights.
Despise not thy school of sorrow, O my soul; it will give thee a unique part in the universal song. -George Matheson

Is the midnight closing round you?
Are the shadows dark and long?
Ask Him to come close beside you,
And He'll give you a new, sweet song.
He'll give it and sing it with you;
And when weakness lets it down,
He'll take up the broken cadence,
And blend it with His own.

And many a rapturous minstrel
Among those sons of light,
Will say of His sweetest music
"I learned it in the night."
And many a rolling anthem,
That fills the Father's home,
Sobbed out its first rehearsal,
In the shade of a darkened room.

I highly, HIGHLY recommend this devotional book. There are many revised versions, but I have the original with only the simple scripture references, thoughts on that reference by various people, and a short poem by Mrs. Cowman (I linked to the exact version I have above if anyone's interested). It's been downright amazing how God has used each day's entry to apply directly to something going on in my life.