We had Rachel's family birthday party on Sunday, and it was soooo fun to have everyone around to celebrate! Our girls have so many people who love them so much, and we feel so blessed to have them all so close by. Rachel got [too many] gifts, and she was thrilled to be the center of attention. I would like to point out that I made her cake (thank-you-very-much), since her only request was that it be purple (she's a little fixated on the color purple right now). I used my mom's chocolate pound cake recipe (yum) and made real buttercream icing with purple tint. I don't think it was really the most beautiful cake (it ain't my thing), but Rachel LOVED it, and it was super-yummy. The yummyness, well...I just think that's all a cake needs.
Monday, June 29, 2009
God has been stirring my heart lately with thoughts that have blown away a lot of the pettiness of which I am oft guilty. When I consider these things He's taught me, I look back in shame at the condition of my heart towards some people in my past. I have spent time lamenting, and have even sought forgiveness from one friend. Wanna hear it?...here it goes...
I have no right to feel wronged when people sin. I have the ability to wrong others, but they have no ability to wrong me.
God makes the rules of how I am to treat others. He does not allow for me to have expectations on others about how they should treat me, however. Therefore, when another person behaves in such a way that is a)sinful and that it b)inconveniences me or causes me discomfort in some way, I am required to disregard my own comfort/convenience and choose to trust that the Lord will supply my needs (physical, emotional, or otherwise), and I am required to concern myself only with the reconciliation of the other person to God the Father by first praying for that person, and then by allowing myself to be used by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit to draw that person to Himself through my actions or words (or not through me at all).
So, practically, if my sweet husband, Jarrad, were to leave us tomorrow (he wouldn't dare, mind you), I would have no right to feel wronged. Sad, of course, but not sinned against. Only the Rulemaker can be offended when the rules are broken. From my perspective, Jarrad's [hypothetical] sin would be against God alone, not against me. And so, I would be required to continue to love him the way the Lord has called me to love all people and in light of the covenant I made with God to love Jarrad as my husband until death separates us (presumably without regard to whether he chooses to fulfill the covenant he made with God to love me as his wife), and to concern myself only with his reconciliation to the Father, which should also [conveniently] result in his reconciliation with me.
But the Bible does speak of people sinning against people, not just against God. But isn't that a call to me? In other words, from this reasoning, I can sin against others, but they cannot sin against me; I am required to reconcile the wrongs I have committed to others, but I must not require reconciliation from others for the wrongs they have committed (lest I make myself equal with God) in order to love them in obedience to God's command.
Phew! Okay, I've been sitting on this for a few weeks. I'm not wholly convinced that my reasoning is sound. I do know that the Bible says we should forgive others--and what is forgiveness if there is no sin? But I think it is somewhat semantics, and it has really, truly helped me to think in these terms: that I cannot ever consider myself sinned against, because I am not Holy enough to be sinned against. With this thinking, I have been able to offer a LOT more grace to others (specifically my husband, who is a wonderful-while-fallible man), because it forces me to disregard ME. What freedom!!
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
Rachel turned three today. Three years old. Woah. I have a real-life little girl. My firstborn is not a baby. Three years ago, she was two hours old, and we had NO idea how much our lives would change, or how much we would wish we had done this sooner. What a fun adventure we have started!
Today, I let Rachel have her choice for all three meals. She chose...PB&J sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She is definitely her daddy's girl, because he often chooses the same. Here she is blowing out her candles for the day! Her family party will be on Sunday, so there will be real birthday pictures then. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHEL!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Today is our seventh anniversary. Seven years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into. We knew each other so well, but we did not anticipate how much we would change over the years. We have fallen in and out of love several times over, but we have remained committed and we continually choose to love one another.
Last week, a friend/mentor of Jarrad's came to town for a conference. He stopped by for a visit, and we related to him the journey the Lord has been guiding us through over the past few months. He is on staff with FamilyLife, and is a champion of life-long marriages full of God's joy. He decided to use our story in his June newsletter. Reading it from another's perspective had kind of a sting about it, but reflecting again on the experience only serves as a reminder of the grace that has been given to us by the Almighty God. Praise Him!
Here is his story:
Idols of the Heart
Last week I traveled [out of town] conference. While there I visited with Jarrad and Anna. I met Jarrad in 2000 while on a mission project in Santa Cruz, California. He was a college student that blew a bunch of my paradigms: he was a skater, loved to work out, was an extremely nice person, and loved Jesus. I didn’t have a category for those things combined in one person.
He and Anna married shortly after that summer and seemed to be off to a great start. Fast forward to November 2008 and the birth of their second child. Jarrad was giving leadership to the youth ministry at their church, along with a few other responsibilities. He was out 3 to 5 nights a week. Anna was growing jealous and bitter, “Why do I have to stay home with the kids while you do ministry?” Ironically, she had been urging him for years to get more involved in the church and lead their family spiritually. Now she didn’t know what to do with this polarity of emotions and Jarrad was growing frustrated with the mixed signals. She did not respect him, and he could feel it. All he felt was shame every time he walked in the door. And she even admits that she knew he “was a good man.” Yet her mind could not force her heart to give her husband respect. The home was growing cold, ice cold.
And then Anna started to pray. For the first time in her life she really started to pray for things in her life, including her husband. She asked him to consider giving up just one thing at church. He prayed about it, then prayed some more, and did not feel it was time to drop anything. She received his answer and prayed, then prayed some more. Her first response was frustration, but then acceptance. She realized that if God was leading her husband, and if he was walking by the Spirit (which he was), she needed to trust God’s direction in their life. The resentment began to subside.
But the big breakthrough came when she remembered the importance of her marriage vows in relation to Ephesians 5.33 “… let the wife see that she respects her husband.” She says “I wish, I wish somebody would have told me more about this, or I would have listened better when we were engaged.” Her vow made on the altar was not to Jarrad, but to God. Her responsibility was to respect her husband unconditionally, regardless of Jarrad’s response.
Her face lit up retelling this epiphany, “I feel like I have a testimony now, something that I can’t wait to share with other women and tell them how Jesus wants to direct their marriage and free them of all anger, bitterness and jealousy.”
One of the conference speakers last weekend said, “We are all hard-wired to worship. You will worship something. If it is not God, it will be something else, and that will be your idol.” Anna changed from worshiping the idols of security and comfort to worshiping God. She no longer saw her husband as her main provider, but God as her provider through her husband and others.
Now, this brief article is not intended to vilify Anna for her misplaced worship. It is meant to rejoice in the amazing restoration God did in a young marriage! It is also meant to provide an opportunity to reflect on our own misplaced worship. The problem is, we all have blind spots, and our idols are often hiding there.
During his talk last week (which I highly recommend), Mark Driscoll gave the following tips for unveiling your
- Start by recognizing that idols tend to be good
- Look for the things you treasure most (Matt 6.21).
- What is that person/experience that you are most fearful of losing?
- If your house was on fire and you were running out, what would you take with you?
- You can also examine the things for which you make sacrifices.
- Where does your time and money go?
Not everything that you hold as important is an idol, but there is a chance it may be. If your identity and significance is so wrapped up in a person or item that you can not imagine being satisfied and joyful without it, then it probably is an idol.
What do you do when an idol is discovered? Repent. Ask God to forgive you for breaking the first commandment and for the strength to turn your heart back to him. Pray that your deepest desire would be to know and love Jesus and to cherish him above all else.
Friday, June 12, 2009
I've decided that I really love having two much more than just having one. They entertain each other, and it's music to my ears when Rachel asks, "When's Carly gonna wake up?" as her sister is napping. For now, it seems almost easier to have two. But my world is rapidly changing. Check out what Carly figured out a few days ago--and know that she is becoming more and more proficient every day. EEK! (Note: this is MY first movie attempt. Jarrad is usually the movie-maker, but I thought I'd give it a whirl...)
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Carly is doing so much better. I have been giving her medication for acid reflux, which has seemed to clear up her cough and congestion. I am thankful, although I cringe every time I give her the meds. At least she hopefully won't get any more ear infections. She is just as happy and healthy as can be! She has yet to figure out how to accomplish forward motion, which causes her some frustration, but otherwise, she is easy to smile and laugh. She has quickly out-grown the snuggly phase, which I miss, but it is fun to watch her little personality come out.
And she uses the potty. I have only had to change two or three poopy diapers in the last three weeks or so, and those have been when I let her play in her crib after waking from a nap or in the morning. I don't have to verbally cue her anymore (although I do usually say, "Do you need to go peepee?") because she recognizes the potty and knows what to do. I remember doing a lot of sitting and waiting with Rachel when I started her (which was at this same age), but Carly usually goes pretty quickly if she needs to go. Now that it's hot weather, I am considering letting her roam around diaperless some, just to see what happens. I imagine it would end in a few messes, but I would sure be more attentive to get her to the potty when I think she needs to go!
Carly turns 7 months old on Thursday, and I can hardly remember what life was like before she was around. She definitely makes me want a houseful and to never be without a baby, but I guess we'll wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!
Here are some pictures of Carly with her big sister. Some people are surprised that I like to dress my girls in matching clothes. It may not seem like me, but I do think it's cute! Maybe it's because I never had a sister? Who knows, but I'll keep doing it as long as they'll let me, and as long as the clothes they are given work out to match sometimes (we are blessed with lots of hand-me-downs from friends).
So, what of my girls? They're still here, making me smile (and laugh) every day. Rachel has picked up on one of my catch phrases, asking me at times, "I'm making you crazy, Mommy?" She is quite the spunky one, and she sends me to sighing pretty regularly with her nonsensical questioning. We often have conversations like this:
- Rachel: I should wash my hands now, Mommy?
- Mommy: Yes, you definitely should wash your hands.
- Rachel: Why?
- Mommy: You just went potty, didn't you?
- Rachel: I just went potty?
- Mommy: Yes, Honey, so go wash your hands.
- Rachel: I need to go wash my hands?
- Mommy sighs.
- Rachel: I'm making you crazy, Mommy?
It can be wearing at times, and I regularly have to remind myself that she's only looking for more information so she can learn, which is something I do want to encourage, right?
I have felt proud of her over the last month or so. She seems to have matured some, and is beginning to use her manners without having to be reminded. Ever since my child gained the vocabulary and know-how to do so, she's been talking back to me. I think it's the natural course for a kid, but it's one of my pet peeves (probably because I got so sick of being disrespected by children when I worked in the school system at the Elementary level). I was horrified to think how she would be talking to me and other adults if I didn't start training her otherwise right away. So, for months now, I have stopped her regularly, by putting my hand up and saying, "When Mommy asks you to do something, you only need to say, 'Yes, Ma'am,' and then you do as you are told. Anything else is disobeying." I have said it what feels like a hundred times a day, and knew I could have said it a lot more (case in point, the many conversations like the one I listed above), and I thought it would never sink in. But about two weeks ago, she started actually doing it on her own, and seems to feel accomplished every time she remembers and I praise her. It is such a relief from the contrary phase she was in. Along those same lines, she has begun obeying without questioning, even in small tasks, and, consequently, she has become a great help to me. Of course, I don't mind if she at times, with respect, asks for an explanation or request a different course of action. But there is a big difference in asking a curious "why" and a defiant "why," and I'm just working to teach her that the defiant "why" is inappropriate and disrespectful. She also is beginning to take "no" for an answer without pitching a fit [most of the time], which is a big improvement as well. I am literally sighing with relief.
On the other hand, Rachel has ceased napping. It happened sort of suddenly, and she hasn't really looked back. She did fall asleep one day last week, and she took a good nap (over an hour), but then she had trouble going to sleep that night. Oh, well, right? If she doesn't seem to need the sleep, I guess I shouldn't begrudge her giving it up. She still has "room time" in the afternoons, but we're working through the rules that go with that. Yesterday, she came out every five minutes to ask if room time was over.