Sunday, May 31, 2009

the X Files?

A little reflection about the past year made me start to wonder...

It started with the bedbugs.  I'm not sure I even wrote about that, but last summer Marianna had a full-fledged war with these fabled critters.  Over and over again she would wake up with bites all over her body, and after we finally were able to conclude that she wasn't getting the bites outside, I started doing research on bedbugs. Let me summarize with this: they are nasty little creatures. We had to go to the mattresses, as they say, quite literally since it seemed her mattress was indeed the part of the problem.  A new mattress, a steamed bed frame, bug sprayed crevices, and the complete sterilization of everything in her room finally gave us the victory.  Before that I kind of thought bed bugs were imaginary...real life experience taught me otherwise.

Then there came the termites.  I knew these weren't imaginary, but knowing they exist and having thousands pour in your house through your dining room wall are two very, very different things.  That war, thank goodness, didn't take as much ammunition as the war on the bed bugs.  One call to the termite man, and my part was through.  And hopefully our termite contract will keep me through with termites for good.

Next was a trip to the emergency room because of Adrienne's febrile seizure.  This incident fell into the I didn't even know there was such a thing category.  The fact that I could go into my baby's room, find her limp and barely breathing with her eyes rolled back in her head, and walk back into my house 5 hours later with a completely healthy baby with no lasting side effects blows my mind.  Now I know.  Febrile seizures are common, not life-threatening, and do not indicate epilepsy.  Very, very scary, but also very, very best case scenario.

We wrap up the year of weirdness with my recent bout of scarlet fever.  This creates a fourth and final category  that I'll call, I thought that illness went extinct in the 1800's. I'm still a little weirded out by the fact that a disease that was so deadly a hundred years ago can be wiped out by antibiotics almost over night. If I had been alive at a different time, I might be dead by now, two weeks after first contracting it.  As it was, I felt awful for one day, so-so for the next, and 100% by the third.  But still, scarlet fever?  That's just weird.

So there it is.  X files material? We're probably not worthy of investigation, but you've got to admit, we've had a year of weirdness.  Fortunately I don't think any of it's catching because friends and family seem to be living in perfectly appropriate states of normalness.  So don't be afraid to be our friends.  Instead, enjoy learning via proxy about some of the stranger occurrences that are out there =)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

my new friend, the killer


Take a few minutes to look at this picture.  Look at that lady.  Doesn't she look like she's practically flying?  Doesn't it appear as if that sleek, aerodynamic jogging stroller is in some mysterious way making her job easier?  Almost like it is propelling her forward instead of the other way around?  

Absolutely effortless.  

It is because of just such an image that I began searching Craig's List for a nice, slightly used, jogging stroller.  I run in my parent's neighborhood, which is just a minute away from my own, because the main circle is exactly one mile.  Perfect for my running needs because it's easy to calculate.  And when I run I usually let Marianna play with my little sister, Breanna.  But I thought it might be nice if there was a way to take Adrienne with me.  The jogging stroller is the logical answer.  



I mean really, how could I not get one when it looks this incredible? I almost felt like I'd be missing out on something without this three wheeled contraption to forge the path ahead of me.

So I found a nice, slightly used jogging stroller just like I had been looking for.  On closer inspection it looked like the wheels were slightly deflated, but for $35.00, who cares about the  inconsequentials?  

This morning was our maiden voyage with the new jogging stroller, and we couldn't have asked for nicer weather to embark on the big run.  It was 70 degrees with a slight breeze.  Everything was looking our way. I flipped the iPod on and took off, a spring in my step, the stroller in front of me, and two miles calling my name.

100 feet and all was well.  200 feet and I was starting to feel a quickness of breath I didn't expect so soon into my run.  1/2 a mile later and the thing calling my name had changed.  My beating heart and heaving lungs were screaming quite a bit louder than the two miles ever had. 

I felt dead.  Well, not quite dead, but dead in proportion to what I should be feeling after 1/2 a mile.

Could it be possible that the jogging stroller with the slightly deflated wheels could possibly make that much of a difference?  The answer to that question, my friend, is yes.  Yes, it was possible that after completing one mile I felt like I was on the final stretch of a 5k.  It was possible that on the second mile I found the burn in my legs so much more intense that I expected that "running" was a term I could apply only sporadically to the activity I was taking part in.  Even the fast walking was leaving me out of breath.

I've heard intervals are good for your heart.  If so, I'm in good shape because it looks like there are a lot of intervals in my future as me and my new friend find our stride together. I don't anticipate any of these moments soon,


but I do hope that maybe in the future I'll be able to trick some people into thinking that it's a piece of cake.  Just like pushing air, really.  Not like the load of bricks it seemed like today.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

the race to space

And for any of you space fans out there, I'll go ahead and let you know this post doesn't have anything to do with NASA.  What I'm talking about is the philosophy behind spacing children. A big subject to unwrap, I know, but don't worry because I'm not going to attempt it.  Almost everyone I know has some kind of idea about the direction they want their family road map to take—for some that map is etched in stone more than others—and I don't take any issue with anyone's personal philosophy, because frankly, it's not my business or anyone else's.  Whether you want to have a kid a year for ten years, or two with ten years in between, I don't care.  I may not be able to comprehend that particular family plan for myself, and I might not be able to fathom how a particular family does what it does, but I firmly believe there isn't a right or wrong, as long as the parents are responsibly and safely raising their children.

But what got me thinking about this subject had more to do with the thoughts and attitudes people have about their plan, regardless of what that plan happens to be.  I've been involved in a lot of discussions on this subject, and there's a trend that seems to be predominant; something that isn't said outright but is everywhere all the same.  And that thing, that underlying element, is control.  

Is there anything wrong with having a game plan?  I really don't think so.  Having an idea about what you and your spouse want for your family seems practical, and maybe even responsible. Being on the same page with your husband or wife about how many kids you want and when you want them is just plain healthy for your marriage.  So, what in the world am I talking about?  What's the big hairy deal?

I'm not exactly sure. It's one of those subjects that I sense better than I articulate.  But since this is a blog and you won't be sensing what I sense anytime soon, I'm going to give it a try.  Basically, I feel like sometimes we tend to get a little to wrapped up with our "plan." I know I'm big time guilty of this, and having Poppy just helped open my eyes a little in this regard.  It stands out to me more than it used to when I hear something like, "We're spacing our kids 18 months apart so that we can have all three in high school at once."  Or, "I am never having my kids closer than 3 years because I don't want to deal with diapers for more than one child at a time." Or, "We are waiting until we have experienced everything we want to before we decide to start a family." Those aren't real quotes, but I've heard versions of all of those statements in the past few months.  And is there anything really wrong with those statements?  On a surface level, I don't think so.  There is something innate in us that wants to make a plan and stick to it with as few detours as possible, and that's not necessarily a bad thing! 

 So what is it that I thought was worth writing about?  I guess it's all about attitude. I get the feeling that for a lot of us, giving God the reins in this particular area is out of the question.  This is not a subject that is open for discussion or input from anyone, including God.  In fact, I feel like a lot of us would get the wind knocked out of us if God stepped in an altered that plan we had so carefully mapped out with something like infertility or an unanticipated pregnancy.  But ironically, I've noticed this is exactly the kind of thing God tends to do.  I think we all believe children are gifts from God, so why is it we tend to get all in a wad when we don't get the gift we want when we want it?  And I'm not trying to make light of the pain that comes with not being able to have children, or the overwhelming nature of having more than you think you can handle.  But still, there is that reality that in most of us there is something, buried a little under the surface, that wants God's gifts, but only in our timing. I know.  I've been there.

None of my kids really came in a way I expected, but who in the world am I to say that my way would have been better?  My girls are my gifts, given in God's timing, with His fingerprints all over their stories.  And the same is true for each precious child out there.

I guess this is an area like so many others where a balance must be struck.  A place needs to be found where you can have a general idea of where you're going while at the same time being open and willing for God  to step in and steer your boat in a different direction if He chooses.  I think that's all it's about.  Not only being willing to hand the control over, but recognizing that the control wasn't really yours in the first place. 

Child spacing certainly doesn't have a monopoly on this concept, but it's something almost all of us face at some time so it's kind of universally experienced.  We have different ideas about what we want and different reasons for wanting it, but as long as we get that it's not really in our power to make our plan unfold like we want it, as long as we realize that really the control is all God's, I think we'll be in good shape.  That doesn't mean the outcome is going to be easy to swallow when a detour comes across our path, but I do think that letting go of the control makes it that much easier to accept what God brings, the good and the bad, and let Him work it all out for good for His glory.  

Sunday, May 24, 2009

seven years ago...

on a perfect May night, Nathan and I got married. There was ceremony, a very young bride, a very young groom, an outdoor reception, a cake that cracked, a string quartet, faces of those I loved and a few faces I'd never seen, a thrown bouquet caught by my best friend, and an old fashioned Model A Ford to drive us away. It was a beautiful wedding, but more importantly, it was the beginning of a beautiful marriage.

My grandfather used to say this,

You are free to choose. You are not free not to choose. And you are not free to choose the consequences of your choices.

It applies to marriage just like everything else.  You can choose the kind of person you want to marry, and after that, you live it.  I chose to marry someone like Nathan Christopher Luce, knowing that he was a man I could trust with my life, trust to lead me in my faith, and trust to lead our family.  I knew he was that kind of man, but I couldn't have guessed how much God would bless me because of him.

Seven years ago when we said our vows, I knew Nathan was the man I could live the life of my dreams with, but more importantly, I knew he was the man I could live real life with as well. And it's a good thing because real life is where we spend most of our time. 

When I think back over all seven of those years, I am floored with gratitude.  I know that at twenty years old I could have made some horrible choices, choices that I could still be reaping the consequences for today.  But somehow God blessed me. I asked Him to bring a man into my life that would honor Him, and He did.  I will never stop being grateful for that, no matter how many anniversaries follow.  And I hope there are a lot. Personally, I'm aiming for at least 65.  I hope Nathan's good with that, because I'm gonna need his help getting there!

Friday, May 22, 2009

a new niece!




Today at 2:58 my sister Rachel had her first baby, Allie Grace!





Thursday, May 21, 2009

things I love for summer

  • Fiber One oats and chocolate bars. The most delicious way to eat fiber that I have yet to find!  They come in about five flavors, but I'm telling you, try the oats and chocolate first.




  • OPI nail polish.  I used to think finger nail polish was created equal, but this is not true. Yes, OPI is a little more expensive than Revlon or L'Oreal, but it is the only polish I can use that turns out looking anything like a manicure.  It doesn't chip, bubble, or goop up, and other than user error, I don't think you can go wrong with it.



  • Volatile flip flops.  I REALLY love these.  These flip flops are the most comfortable summer shoe I have, and because they have the platform sole, they can pass for dressy or casual.  I have them in brown, black, and tan so that I can match everything I own to at least one of them.  


  • Target's kids sun dresses.  They are $5.00!!!  How can you beat that?  My girls have three each for the grand total of $30.00.  I can't even sew that cheaply.  Thank you Target!


  • iPod Shuffle.  I owe my shuffle for my recent return to running, because without the extra motivation of Mandisa blasting in my ear, I don't think I would have been able to get back in the groove.  And at $45.00 bucks, you can't beat it.

  • Waffle Cone Wednesday, courtesy of TCBY.  The perfect summer treat, for the great price of $1.50. 

  • And what else do I really love to get the summer started off right? A Kris Allen American Idol victory.



Let me know your summer favs to!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pound Puppies

When Mommy is sick...

the puppies go to the pound...



the inlaw's house that is.  Nothing better than grandparents!




It doesn't get much better than that, getting to play doggie while mom is sick as a dog =). 

Thankfully, the little pups' mama is feeling so much better today, she's got the two back home with her.  But we sure are grateful for great grandparents who are there to take care of them in a pinch.  After all, it's not every day my girls get to play in crates!

Monday, May 18, 2009

scarlet fever

In the middle of the night I woke up with chills.  I couldn't stop shaking for nearly two hours, so I knew a fever was probably involved. But what struck me as much, much weirder than the chills was the sensation I had all over my body; almost like I had a sunburn everywhere, even on my palms and the bottom of my feet.

The symptoms were weird enough to urge me into the doctor for my first sick visit in about 10 years.  And now that I went, I'm really glad I did.  I have scarlet fever, which is basically a whole body rash induced by strep.  I don't have the sore throat that is the tell-tale sign of strep, but I do have just about every symptom of scarlet fever down to the letter: chills, fever, muscle aches, and a full body rash that is making everything from walking to opening a tylenol bottle painful.

I have never felt what it's like to not be able to take care of my family, to know that the extent of my usefulness involves sitting up so that someone else can fit on the couch with me.  Such a strange, useless feeling!  

The good news is that I will not be contagious after 48 hours, which means I should be able to be there for the birth of my new niece!  I am so grateful for that.  And until then, I'm praying that Nathan, Marianna, and Adrienne are able to avoid any part of it!  

Sunday, May 17, 2009

ain't wastin time no more

Five hours.  That's the answer to a statistic I just looked up.  Any guesses?  Try the number of hours the average person spends each day in the car.  That's staggering to me.  Do we really spend that much time in the car every day?  Even if I spent half that, that's a TON of time.

Well, long before I knew that crazy statistic, I realized that I spent a significant amount of time in the car every day, so shortly after Marianna was born I thought about how I was going to use that time.  I wanted to spend car time intentionally so that it could be used meaningfully instead of flying by, wasted.

Over the past three years I've tried to keep that commitment to view our car time together as opportunities to be treasured, not hours to pass. And as I look back, I've got to say that I am shocked by how much we have done together, just riding along in the car.  After all, outside of time spent driving there aren't that many hours we moms have a captive audience in our small children, so I've found those hours to be priceless.  

So what do we do?  I'm going to try and break it down into three main categories.  The first is general learning, especially memorization.  Car time is perfect for learning songs, Bible verses, letter sounds, how to spell your name, your phone number, the months of the year, the days of the week, family birthdays.  You name it. If it involves lots of repetition, the car is a great place to work on it.  We've actually done all of the above, most to made up songs by yours truly.  They may not be musically sound, but they work.  And most importantly, it has made learning fun instead of tedious.  I'm pretty certain Marianna doesn't know she has learned all of that. It's just part of what we do in the car, as normal to her as taking a bath or brushing her teeth. 

Another category, and one of Marianna's very favorites, is Bible story time.  I've covered the great stories from the Bible from Adam and Eve to Paul and Timothy, telling them over and over until my throat goes dry, as Marianna, and now Adrienne, listens, loving them and always wanting more. I love reading books when we are home, but there is something special about telling these Bible stories out loud, using them as opportunities to explain the principles found in each story and plant the seeds about God's love for us.  It's also a challenge for me as I have learned to focus not just on the story, but on the message behind each story.  

And finally, we use car time to talk.  Looking out the window provides enough material to talk about on just about any given car ride.  We talk about seasons, emergency vehicles, fast food, banks, the post office, signs, bill boards and how the things going on around us point to when the seasons change.  It doesn't matter what the subject matter because that's not the point.  The point is that I want my girls to know that I care about what they have to say. I want them to know that I enjoy talking to them, not just to adults, and I want to use those opportunities we have to learn about all of the complex, confusing things that I didn't even realize were complex and confusing before I had kids.

Yes, sometimes I do just turn on a CD and we have some chill time in the car, but more often than not, we try and make our car time purposeful and fun.  It's something that has worked for us, and even though sometimes my brain would rather go on autopilot than tell a story, or teach a song, or talk about the weather, it is worth it

So there it is.  That's my way of using those five hours, or however many they are, that I spend in the car each day.  Now if only we could get that much done when we're not using gas!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

27

That's my new number.  When we were out to eat last night, Nathan asked me if there was an age that I would reach that would bother me.  In other words, do you feel old now, or do you think you ever will?

Tricky questions.  Do I feel old? Old enough to have been married for 7 years, blessed with three indescribably amazing girls, and seasoned a little bit in the ups and downs in life.  So yeah, I feel like 27 fits well.  

But old, old? Nope.  One year closer to 30 is more exciting than anything else.  Last night Nathan said, "I know it's the greatest thing in the world having the girls young, but can you imagine how exciting it will be to watch them become the people they are going to be?"  I hadn't thought of that lately, but now that I do, I think the future is going to be every bit as exciting as the present. I guess the key is enjoying every year, right when your in it, and if I'm able to do that year after year, then the answer to the second questions is, yes, I might get to a point where I feel old, but no, I don't think it's going to bother me.

For now, I'm celebrating my official move into my late twenties, by spending the day going to Starbucks, returning items at the mall and Toys R Us, playing tennis with Nathan, and grilling out with the whole family tonight.  I LOVE Saturday birthdays!!  

And there is a possibility that I will share my birthday with my new niece Allie Grace!  So here's to a day filled with fun and possibility!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What'll it be?

at Starbucks: a tall, non-fat, no water, extra foam Chai Latte.

at Chick-fil-a: an original Chicken Sandwich, with no pickle and Chick-fil-a sauce.

at Smoothie King: a small Immune Builder (strawberries and bananas).

These are my three favorites, and when it comes to changing up my order at any one of them, it's not happening.  I go with the tried and true, and I'm not all that interested in having a new favorite or discovering something I didn't know I loved.  I am content.

But when it comes to change in other areas, I'm game.  I don't thrill seek, so don't look for me diving off a cliff, swimming with sharks, or doing anything else that constitutes as a life threatening activity in my book, but in my own non-dangerous way, I like new things, new hobbies, new adventures.

So I've put a little thought into it, and I've come up with the one thing I would pursue above all others if time and money were not factors.  I would take up photography.

Nothing beats a better-than-real-life picture of a piece of cake, or a sunset, or a baby.  A good photograph can take something normal and ordinary and make it special.  It is amazing to me how the right camera angle or lens  can transform a scene into something that captures you.  I know almost nothing about the art of picture taking, and I know even less about the lenses and cameras that are used, but boy would I like to.

Right now I'm working the point and shoot with everything I have, capturing almost artsy moments like this one,


or kind of cool, but maybe just weird, lighting, like this one



I know they are frail, and possibly down right poor attempts at  trying my hand at moving beyond your most basic level of mom armed with an automatic, but it sure is fun!  Maybe one day I'll feel like we can invest in some kind of camera for the beginning amateur and I can take a lesson or two on the basics-just enough to really be dangerous behind the lens-and I'll be on my journey to photographic artist!  

That's my realistic dream.

Want to know my unrealistic one?  You can probably guess.  I would have a different set of vocal chords, and I would sing.  And no, that dream has nothing to do with American Idol and the fact that we're down to the bottom three!!  Nope, it's definitely a year round longing.  I'm sure it's Nathan's year round longing as well since it seems I keep trying out the set of chords I've been given, keeping on hoping that something amazing is going to come out if I try long and hard enough =)

So since only one of those two has the chance of coming true, maybe I should focus on the photography.  How about you?  If time and money weren't factors, what would it be that you would do? 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Remembering

I know I've said it before, but it's been over a year, so I'm hoping you don't mind if I say it again.  I think it's vitally important to remember. I'm not just talking about any kind of remembering either.  In fact, I think that dwelling on the past, especially the painful parts or the parts filled with regret, is destructive and potentially devastating. Instead, I'm talking about the kind of remembering that focuses on God's work in our lives. This type of looking back is a must because it has the exact opposite result of the destructive kind. When we remember where we have been, remember what God has done, remember how God has blessed, provided, comforted, and shown Himself, we open up the door to allow God's work to bless us all over again. 

But somehow, it seems like the negative memories in our past are a lot easier to drudge up than those of God's power and goodness.  Satan loves to encourage us to dwell on the parts of our past that will keep us down, but remembering that God is faithful, powerful, and mighty? That's another story. That's why this type of remembering is a conscious decision, rarely happening on its own.

I know for me, it's often easier to forget. A blessing from yesterday is sometimes forgotten by tomorrow. A time of great provision fades from memory faster than I'd like to admit as I move on to concentrating on the next need.  It's a cycle that continues on autopilot unless I take the time to stop. Think. Reflect. Remember.

Do you remember reading in Exodus about the people of God, the Israelites? They see God pour out His miracles more than any group of people that has ever lived, and yet it seems that they can't for the life of them remember what God has done for them from one miracle to the next. Crisis after crisis is averted by the parting of the sea, the sending of manna, the provision of water from a rock, and still, each time a new problem arises, they worry, failing to remember that God's faithfulness in the past is just as real in the present.

It would be silly if I really thought that I am different from those people who walked through the desert so many years ago.  I know I have all of those same tendencies, and God knows it too.  That's why I think He makes such a point of having His people remember.  

I know I don't do it enough, but when I do I am overwhelmed by grace.  Today was no exception as I reflected on my life one year ago.  Let me tell you why.

One year ago, Adrienne was born.  She was here, and I didn't even know it.  It wasn't until May 12th that I knew a baby girl had been born, that a birthmother was making the courageous decision to make a plan of adoption for her, that we were going to be in the mix of profiles that would be shown as potential families.

One year ago Adrienne was in the arms of her birthmother.  Her mother held her, choosing to love on her instead of put her in the nursery for the one day that she would have her baby before releasing her to the arms of a cradle care family.  One year ago, Adrienne was loved from the moment she was born, before she had ever laid eyes on me or Nathan or Marianna.  She was loved.

One year ago God was teaching my heart to be content, to rest in His plan, to be thankful for what He had given me in my two girls, all the while knowing that He was about to bring into our lives the girl that was going to wrap her arms around our hearts and never let go.

One year ago Adrienne's room was an office. There was no green paint on the walls.


There was no name on the wall.


There were no loving touches, no pictures, no curtains.


There wasn't a crib, pulled down from the attic and reassembled.


There were no sweet reminders of our second daughter in our third daughter's room.


One year ago  I didn't know that the floor of that sterile, lifeless office would be transformed into a no holds barred cuddling arena.



I didn't know what my life would like.  But one year ago, God did.


I don't know where you are today, but no matter where you find yourself, take comfort in the fact that the God who took care of you yesterday, is still holding you today.  The same Jesus who has been weaving together the situations and circumstances of your life knows what the next stitch in the pattern is going to be. The method God used in the past might not be the same that one that He will use in the future, but He will be the same God. Take time to remember the moments of faithfulness, and rest in the promise that we have that His faithfulness has no limit.  It will be there tomorrow, just like it was yesterday and today.

I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
Psalm 77:11

Friday, May 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Adrienne!

Adrienne's birthday is May 10th, Mother's Day.  

ONE!  

Yep, Just about impossible for me to believe, but it's here. She has brought nothing but joy to us over the past year, and I love that little girl with my whole heart.  

With the help of my friend iMovie, I made a little birthday video to celebrate the past year of Adrienne's life. They have been 12 amazing, beautiful, exciting, fun, and blessed months.  


video

a challenge

So, I've got a little challenge up my sleeve that I'm ready to tackle, and I thought I'd see if any of you would like to join me in it.  It's a one month challenge (although I guess it could be shorter, depending on the person), and I'll tell you on the front in that no matter what your previous experience, athletic condition, or intellectual aptitude, you can complete this challenge!

Curious?

Well, I'm going to draw it out over several steps before the big reveal.  Just to make it more fun.

Step One: Pick out a few of your very favorite passages in the Bible.  I know that it can be hard to choose a favorite, so maybe think of them as passages of special significance to you.  For me, these passages are the ones that were either huge to me when I was going through something difficult, or they are passages that God seems to use to encourage me and speak truth to me over and over again.

So take a few minutes to think about it. It might be harder than you think!  But that's okay.  Take your time.

Step Two: Try to single one of those passages out and pinpoint the reason that it holds special significance to you today.  Is that confusing?  I've already had time to think through mine, so let me share it with you to see if it makes more sense with an example.

After narrowing it down, I decided that a passage that is very significant for me right now is in II Corinthians 12:5-10.  It says,

On behalf of such a man I will boast; but on my own behalf I will not boast, except in regard to my weaknesses. For if I do wish to boast I will not be foolish, for I will be speaking the truth; but I refrain from this, so that no one will credit me with more than he sees in me or hears from me. Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me--to keep me from exalting myself! Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Can I summarize what I learned over the last few years in one line?  Probably not, but if I had to, it would be with these words, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness."  Boy, did I find the depth of truth those words contain.  God's power in my life was unleashed in my weakness because it was then that I was totally dependent on Him.

I love the last two lines especially!  "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."  It's not a natural phenomenon.  It's supernatural.  It doesn't necessarily make sense apart from Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but with Him, it makes perfect sense.  To me, these verses sum up so much of our journey with Poppy and Adrienne, and that is why I chose this as my passage of special significance for this moment in my life.

Step 3: Memorize it.  Yes!  Take that passage that means something special to you, and use the next month to challenge yourself to put it to memory.  That way it will be there with you all the time, not just the moments a Bible is at hand,  and it will sink in even deeper with the repetition and concentration it takes to memorize the verses.  

Think you've got a bad memory?  Well, maybe you do or maybe you don't, but the truth is, just about anyone can memorize something if they really want to.  That's the wall I always find myself bumping up against: the "I just don't want to take the time and effort to do it" wall.  And that's why it doesn't just happen unless you make a real effort to do it.  I don't sit down and memorize naturally, so I have to challenge myself with a specific goal.

So what do you think?  Do you want to take the challenge with me?  I can tell you this, it might be a lot of effort, but it will be worth it!!

My goal is to have my six verses memorized by June 8th or earlier.  If you want to make pick a passage and try the one month challenge, leave the passage you've chosen in a comment.  I'll come back in a month and have a memorization celebration!!  

One last thing!  Length doesn't matter.  You could choose one verse, one passage, one chapter, or even one book!  What matters is taking God's Word and hiding it in our hearts so that it is there, changing us from the inside out.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Two little monkies



















My mom got the picture on the right in an email forward and called to tell me how much she thought the little monkey looked like Adrienne.

I've got to admit, they are both working the cuteness pretty hard.  Hey, if you've got it, flaunt it. 

Well done little monkies.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

wearisome warts

****Update****

Visions of warts being burned off, frozen off, cut off, or taken off in any form what so ever were all put to rest today when the doctor whipped out a bottle of  brown fluid to apply to Marianna's fingers.

Wart polish.  No, that's not the technical name, but it is the one Marianna coined for this no-pain-involved wart treatment.  In fact, I think Marianna would go for some wart polish every day if it were up to her.  She loved the entire experience, from the waiting room, to the looking at weird pictures of infected toe nails in the exam room, to the procedure itself.  She laughed, smiled, and joked her way through the visit Nathan and I had been dreading for months.

Whew.

Now to the big question.  Will it work?  So far the warts look completely unchanged.  The doctor told me that blisters would form on top of the warts, but as of bed time, no blisters. Which leads me to reevaluate the last sentences of my original post:  

But one thing is sure.  When we arrive home, the warts will be gone!
 

Evidently, the one thing I was for sure about was not something I should have staked such surety in!  I do hope that something happens eventually.  Yes I'm glad that there wasn't any pain, but I'm also hoping that the wart polish has more effect than a placebo! 

I'll keep you posted.  Something I know many of you were keeping those fingers crossed about. After all, nothing tops a good wart update.




It's time to say goodbye to the warts.  We've been putting this off because of how horrible the ordeal might be for a girl who is already petrified of the doctor.  I sure didn't want to do something to permanently set her over the edge in that regard.  And if it was just aesthetic, I'd say, let's wait even longer.  But Marianna originally only had one small wart, and then that one turned into two small warts, and now those two small warts have morphed into two rather large warts.  If the trend continues, she'll be covered before long, so we are off to wart removal.

Nathan gave me a little testimonial that last time he was in the dermatologist, he heard a shriek from a small child that chilled his blood.  

Fabulous.

I'm promising her a treat for afterward, but again, Nathan offered the optimistic, "I don't think she'll care what you've promised her at the moment that needle is coming toward her finger."  Thanks for that, honey.

So, it is with these strong forebodings that I am heading off to the doctor for our 2:30 appointment.  Right now Marianna says she's excited, so I'm taking that as a small, albeit very small, sign that everything might go smoothly.  Or maybe I'll come out looking like I've just waged war with a tiger.  But one thing is sure.  When we arrive home, the warts will be gone!
 

Monday, May 4, 2009

Not me! Monday





This is the non-comprehensive account of the things that most certainly did not happen to me and my family this past week as we continued to live our quiet, non-descript life in Memphis, TN. For example, I did not spend over an hour of my life this week cleaning up after a dog who has evidently forgotten the meaning of an outdoor bathroom.  There was not a moment when I entered Marianna's room, took a deep whiff, smelled something quite disturbing, and had subsequent murderous thoughts run through my mind about Chum.  I did not in my desperation to clean up the urine, simply dump a box of  baking soda on the offensive spot and hope that something extraordinary would happen, and then find out later that maybe baking soda was better used in cooking than urine removal.  And when I got home from my weekend away, there wasn't a moment when I stepped into my closet, took another whiff, and wished for some punishment greater than murder for the offending Chum.  There is no way that the fact that it has rained most of the week has turned my clean carpet into deluxe bathroom accommodations in my dog's mind. Even if that was the case for some miscreant animals, that would definitely never happen with mine!

I definitely did not hear Marianna just say, "Everything in our house is not always magical!  Sometimes it is, but when your tummy hurts, nothing is magical.  And my tummy will hurt for the rest of my life!"  No, this statement wouldn't be possible because 1) we are never dramatic, and 2) I run a no-nonsense ship around here, so magic is not in the equation.

This week there was not a time when after returning to my seat after a diaper change trip for Adrienne that I looked down and found some smeared diaper content remains, quite visible I might add, on my arm.  While speaking to the lady next to me, I certainly didn't play the role of Joe Cool as I casually reached down into the diaper bag, pulled out a wipe, tidied up my arm, and did a quick spot check of the rest of my body without ever breaking conversation. I didn't congratulate myself for a situation nicely handled shortly before looking at Adrienne and finding that the smearing didn't end at my arm.  I know that as I pulled out a fresh wipe I did not find more diaper contents on her leg, foot, and arm. Certainly not. And I didn't stop and wonder, "What in tarnation happened there in that bathroom? Have I not changed thousands of diapers up to this point in my life?  How now, at this level of diaper veteranship, have I managed to leave the bathroom, feeling like there was a job well done, when in fact me and my child were both covered in excrement?" No, nothing like this ever passed through my head, and the situation itself certainly didn't happen!

And when I arrived in Lousiville for my first ever trip to share my testimony, I definitely did not start the trip off with a bang by forgetting to securely lock the bathroom door in the airport stall.  There is no way that I was already on the toilet before I glanced up and saw the door swinging on it's hinges, all the way open, in front of me.  No.  It couldn't have happened. Not to me!

And last, but not least, this is certainly not the first time I have ever participated in McMama's magnificent blog carnival, because who would have waited until now to participate for the first time?  And the thing holding me back certainly wasn't fear that my college degree wouldn't go far enough in being able to help me figure out how to operate Mr. Linky.  No. Never.  Never, ever, ever.  Not me!

Stop by McMama's blog to read more about what others did not do this week, or try it yourself.  It's fun!

Saturday, May 2, 2009

on the road again

Or more accurately, on the road for the first time, at least in the way I'm doing it. This morning I am embarking on my first ever trip to share our story of Poppy and Adrienne, and God's faithfulness to us through both of those girls. I've had several chances to give a brief testimony here and there locally, but never have I boarded a plane and gone somewhere like Southern Indiana for the express purpose of telling our story. I am so excited!

I remember the moment, months and months ago, when I told God, this is Your story, and if there is ever a time or place you want me to share it, I will. So when the opportunity for me to speak to a mother daughter banquet came up, I said a whole hearted, "yes!".

That is why I find myself up early on a Saturday morning, getting ready to fly into Louisville right smack dab in the middle of the Kentucky Derby weekend. I am a home body at heart, and I hate leaving my family, but I'm so excited about being there tonight, and I'm so excited about staying with my friend Laurin, that I think I'm going to be able to handle the separation. It is, after all, just a one-nighter =).

But that brings me to what I'm really concerned about: last night's thunder storm and what it did to me in the sleep deprivation department. I went to bed at midnight thinking, "I might be a little tired in the morning." Then I closed my eyes and heard the first gusty crash of thunder, and I realized "a little tired" might be putting it lightly. I can't sleep in thunderstorms. Period. And this one last night went on til 5:00 this morning. So basically I feel like dead man walking right now. I'm hoping Starbucks will put a little pep in my step, but I would also appreciate a quick prayer if you think about it.

And now if I plan on making that plane, I better get a move on. Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 1, 2009

bumper sticker

Thanks so much for the input!  Hearing from you is so interesting to me because it helps me see who you are, what you believe, instead of just guessing at who might be out there.  Some of you who read this are more like me than others, but I'm especially grateful for those of you who don't agree down the line with me for sticking around and reading.  

As for the bumper sticker, I think at face value the message is simply "Let's get along,"  and with that, I absolutely agree.  I believe that no one should ever be forced to be a part of a religion or group.  It's been tried over, and over, and over again, and every time history details the disaster that followed.  We have been created as creatures with a free will, and any person or government that tries to force someone's hand by removing that free will is doing something that God himself has chosen not to do, and the consequences are disastrous.

But like several of you alluded to, there is an underlying message contained in the letters and symbols of this artwork, a message that I thought was very indicative of the time in which we live.  No one wants to believe that there is any one single truth.  Instead, truth takes on a different forms, it changes shape with the changing of culture, it expands and morphs to prevent exclusion, and at the end of the day, the truth that is the result isn't worth much of anything at all.

I don't believe in a truth like that.  I believe that Jesus is the source of our truth, and it is from Him that truth springs.  I don't believe that conforming to any particular religion is the answer.  Instead, I believe the answer is Jesus.  The answer to this life is found completely and solely in Him, and His death and resurrection.   Jesus died to take the punishment for our sins.  He died not for the people of one group, or culture, or religion, but for all.  He came and lived a perfect life, showing us exactly how we are to coexist together, by loving our neighbor as ourself, but He also showed us that the message He proclaimed brought division, not unity. And that's because a belief in one truth will always divide.  That doesn't mean we fight with those who disagree, but we also don't back down from our message: that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light.

Yes, I want to live side by side by those around me, loving them and living in harmony with them.  I will share my love for Jesus and my relationship with Him with anyone who is interested, but I will never try and manipulate or force anyone to believe as I do.  I believe by faith that Jesus' work on the cross is the bridge that allows me to have relationship with God, and I will continue to believe that all of my life.  That's what I believe.  Many people believe differently and I understand that.  

So as for the bumper sticker, this one's not for me.  But actually, not many are.  I'll just stick with my Memphis Tiger sticker and call it a day.



Yesterday as I stopped at one of the longest red lights in the city, I noticed this bumper sticker on the car in front of me. A big message in a compact space. I've never seen anything like it, and as it was designed to do, it definitely got my attention.  I'll share my thoughts, but first I'd like to hear from you.  What do you think?