Sunday, July 31, 2011

mercy, freedom, gladness, and light

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

This verse is from a song I randomly heard on the radio in Chickfila and don't know much more about it but I really liked these words.

In light of the truth that our home is in Heaven, it makes sense that our world is difficult, disappointing, and brings heartbreak. This world can't satisfy my longings, my achings, my desires.

But in brokenness there is revealed the beauty of Christ.

His mercy sets me free. He turns my sorrow to gladness. He transfers me from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of Light. How beautiful is the person, the promise, the hope, and the glory of Christ? He changes everything and makes all things new. Praise the Lord, o my soul. I can almost hear my heart heave a relieving sigh as I turn and rest in the One who saves me and holds my life in His loving, completely fulling, and more than satisfactory arms.

The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
He restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23

Saturday, July 23, 2011

faith and brokenness

As I've been processing through some heart changing thoughts and lessons on faith God has brought the picture of brokenness into my mind. Faith is something that I seem to treat as a roller coaster...sometimes my faith is up, sometimes it is down. What God has been showing me lately is that when I look at faith like that I am placing my faith in the outcomes of my desires. And by doing that, I am allowing my circumstances to dictate my views of God. So instead of keeping my eyes, heart, and life fixed and focused on Christ and His glory I put Him in a box and believe so little. I really desire to get to a point where I don't let me circumstances control my faith but instead allow God to strengthen my faith as I walk through life being led by Him. Because of some circumstances in my life recently I've been forced to be broken. To realize I can't control, dictate, organize, and "work" my way through things. And in my mind I don't want to...I truly want to let God be in control. Why the struggle then? My human sin clearly keeps tripping me up. A verse that came to mind yesterday was Psalm 51:16-17:

You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.

God does not want or need me to organize and control and structure the faith I bring to Him. He desires my faith to placed in Him alone. He is the object of my faith. My faith is in my Faithful God, not my circumstances. A broken spirit and a contrite heart is what He desires. So what is brokenness? As I've thought on this I've come to two thoughts. One, brokenness is exactly what it sounds like at first. It is me being humble, vulnerable, honest, and my hurting self before God. Confessing my sin, acknowledging my inability, praising His faithfulness and His unchanging character, seeking His glory and not my own. But I think often I move from this type of brokenness right back to where I didn't want to be in the first place. Organizing and controlling and boxing God in to my ideas, desires, and ways. So what is the answer? I'm coming to learn that brokenness should be leading me from a place of repentance to a place of dependence. A broken spirit is one that walks in faith fully dependent on God and not self. And that is where I am. Trying to walk in faith, remain broken before God so I can be dependent on Him alone. Because His ways are higher than mine, His word is truth, His love endures, and He is always and forever Faithful. The words of this song speak very powerful truths to my heart.

My soul finds rest in God alone, My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes, And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse, And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness, I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever.

O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah, hallelujah,
O praise Him, O praise Him, hallelujah! hallelujah!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

a reasonable prayer request

What results from fear over faith?
I deny God's promises and blessings.
I bring hardship upon me and my family.
The Lord is not with me.

One of our pastors at church spoke these words many months ago and God has been pruning my heart with them since then. And then the other day I got an email from a sweet friend who is in the waiting period of bringing their precious little boy home from Ethiopia and God reminded me again of how He prunes my faith.

Through the course of some circumstances and events in our life recently I've come to realize that my faith has been faltering. I've been allowing my circumstances to dictate my faith instead of placing my faith in God, the Faithful One. And as I've done this, so much in my heart and spirit have seemed to crumble. There are certain life events for which there are no good words to explain what happens to your heart, your mind, your spirit, and your faith. And because I've allowed myself to place faith in outcomes, desires, and circumstances, my walk with Jesus has and my view of the glory and holiness of God has been severely hurt.

I've lost the ability to believe in God doing the impossible. My hopes are limited to what is likely in this world. My faith has been brought down to what is reasonable and likely to happen anyway. I walk in fear over faith. And I crumble.

I am at a loss for words. My heart cries out for forgiveness from my gracious God, saying, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

In my reading through the Bible I am in 2 Chronicles. This week I read the story of Asa & Jehoshaphat, two kings of Judah, and was keenly made aware of what truly trusting in God to see me through the impossible. These men saw before them the impossible, and in response they fasted, they prayed, they gave glory to God and worshiped Him, they believed in the One who created them and whose power is far greater than the prince of the world (1 John 4:4).

And God said to Jehoshaphat,

"Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God's. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you."

I don't want to pray a reasonable prayer request. I don't want to follow a god I have in a box. I don't want to live in the chains He has freed me from. So in my broken, weak, crumbling faith I ask God that I will not let fear triumph and that He will continually and recognizably abide with me.

Abide With Me

Abide with me; falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.
When other helpers, fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, abide with me.

Thou on my head, in early youth didst smile;
And, though rebellious, and perverse meanwhile,
Thou hast not left me, oft as I left Thee,
On to the close Lord, abide with me.

I need Thy presence, every passing hour.
What but Thy grace, can foil the tempter's power?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, tears lose their bitterness
Where is thy sting death? Where grave thy victory?
I triumph still, abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross, before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies.
Heaven's morning breaks, and earth's vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, Lord, abide with me.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

cutie cousins and aunts

Saturday, July 16, 2011

love my man

Ever since Anna was born Andrew has been seriously adamant about date night every Friday night. I really think we've probably only missed it a handful of times this past year. It has been a huge blessing for me to see him lead in this and be loved by him like this and a huge benefit to our marriage, parenting, and basically every area of our lives. Clearly, I highly recommend date night! Last night our incredible Gram & Papa came over (the day after returning from Russia I might add) and kept the kids so we could go out for dinner and see Hello Dolly at the Art Center of the Ozarks. I showered :), we dressed up, and enjoyed a lovely evening out. Thanks to my sweet trendy friend who dolled me up and didn't laugh out loud when she asked to see my biggest pair of earrings and I showed her my studs. Instead, she just took hers out on the spot and said here, wear these! Love it.

So thankful for my sweet sweet man who prioritizes us in our world filled with crazy lovely distractions.

Friday, July 15, 2011

a guilty yummy pleasure

For a baby shower this past week I was in charge of sweets. Not too hard of an assignment since I heart them big time. So I decided to try a new yummy-cake balls. I had them at my sister's showers over the last years but never in Fayetteville and never thought to make them. After a quick little google search I found that they are actually fairly easy to make. Just a little process is all. So I dove right in. And for your mouth-watering eye pleasure here is the process and end result that will make you run out to get the stuff to start your own. I highly recommend!


Step 1: Bake cakes as directed. While warm, crumble with a fork and mix in frosting.

Step 2: Roll into balls (it's messy and sticky) and place on wax paper. Freeze for several hours. I did this overnight.

Step 3: Melt chocolate almond bark (or vanilla) in small amounts and use a toothpick to dip cake balls into chocolate until covered. Then using a second toothpick slide the cake balls onto wax paper. This is the most difficult step and my sister helped me. If the chocolate gets to thick just melt it again. And, depending on how pretty and smooth and ball looking you want your cake balls it gets either easier or harder. I decided they looked just fine slightly bumpy and taste so good it doesn't matter. :)

Step 4: Sprinkle and refreeze or just refridgerate depending on when you are serving them. If frozen, take out and put in fridge in time for cake to thaw.

Step 5: ENJOY!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

words on wisdom, living for His glory

"Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable,full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace." James 3:13-18

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

happy birthday to my Anna

Anna's 1st birthday was such a good day. My sis Becca and nephew Hudson came up for the weekend which was super great because we just don't get enough time together! And my lil' sis Lauren also hung out with us most of the weekend. Love my sisters so much.

Andrew made birthday pancakes for Anna and she loved them! Then we let her open her birthday cards and we got a musical walking toy that she (and MGB/SATB) loved.

Had a fun lunch treat at Chickfila and enjoyed free food for dressing like cows. Anna didn't really care but Madeline & Sim had fun. Although the large cow is really scary to little kiddos. If you went, I'm sure you know. Screaming and running occurred. Good fun.

That night we had a pool party. My friend Rachel made cute invites and I found a fun cupcake cake design from Family Fun. Our family and friends came and we had a great time. Anna really loves the water and splashes around a ton.

What a joy to celebrate her!

little known facts about Noah

Andrew was reading the story of Noah for family devos the other night and this is what followed...

Madeline: Do you know Noah?
Andrew: No, I haven't met him.
Simeon: I know Noah.
Andrew: You do? What is he like?
Simeon: Umm, he likes scrambled eggs.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mama, will you?

Mama, will you play with me?
Mama, will you help me?
Mama, will you come with me?
Mama, will you sit by me?
Mama, will you hold me?

Practicing these days saying yes when I can say yes and enjoy the moments that are already going way too fast.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

my Anna in a year

It has been quite a year since last July 7th! Last year at this time I was feeling large, hot, and ready to meet my sweet little surprise baby! Her birth was not as we'd expected but she was far more than we could have hoped for or imagined. Going in that morning for some reason we were pretty sure we were having a boy. We had a boy name picked out and hadn't bothered to narrow down a girl name. Oops. Obviously, we were wrong. We had happened to go through our favorite girl names and discussed their meanings. And that turned out to be a very good thing.

I went in to be induced around 5am on July 8th and by 10am was still feeling great and not feeling too many contractions. Around 1030am a R.U.S.H. of nurses swarmed into our calm room and began tossing me around, hooking up new wires, and generally freaking me out. The baby's heart rate had dropped into the 60's and that is clearly not good. Quickly it went back up and the nurses explained what happened and suggested an epidural sooner than later in case of c-section. So we did. A funny side note...the nurse came in a few minutes later asking if I wouldn't mind letting a gal down the hall go first even though I was next...based on the screaming filling the hallways and the fact that I still wasn't really feeling pain, I agreed. By 12pm I had my epidural and was closely monitoring the heart rate myself. I watched it drop into the 40's around 1pm and this time the nurses came in on a mission. I was crying and trying not to massively freak out. Thinking my hysterics could only make things worse. Andrew was trying to be near me but with 15 nurses doing their jobs all around me that wasn't really happening.

Through the craziness, praise the Lord, within 20 minutes our wonderful doctor and team had safely delivered our precious baby girl. We looked at her, cried, and knew her name would be Anna. God is indeed gracious.

And He has shown Himself gracious over and over this year. Anna Elise is such an unbelievable undeserved gift in our lives and I am so thankful for her. She is sweet, gentle, easily comforted, laughs at her brother, sister, and silly daddy, and is a full blown Mama's girl. I couldn't be happier.

Our verse for Anna is Isaiah 26:3
"He will keep in perfect peace him whose heart is steadfast, because he trusts in You."

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

bedtime crazies

Clearly, my life is bedtime focused. :)
A little update.

Our strategy has been this: put Madeline to bed and sit outside her door. Every time she gets up we (as in Andrew) puts her back in bed and says a very short version of "it's bedtime, we love you." The end.

Night One: Up 27 times.
Night Two: Up 16 times.
Night Three: Up 4 times.

Love. Progress. Please stay.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

bedtime conversations

if it's gonna be hard, at least it can also be funny...
In bed, approximately 15 minutes....

Simeon: I'm a frog.
Madeline: I'm going to be a butterfly.
Simeon: No, you're a square.
Madeline: A square? (hear: that's ridiculous!)

Madeline: Simeon, come lean over the edge.
Simeon: I don't want to lean over the edge. I might get stuck and die.
Madeline: You won't die.

Madeline: STOP! (hear: unkind tone)
Simeon: GO! (hear: cheerful tone)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

bedtime woes

This is a....I could use some encouragement/venting/prayers from the world out there....kind of post. Our sweet Madeline has had trouble with bedtime for a very.long.time. And we've tried LOTS to make things better. Some ideas have worked, others not so much. We seem to cycle and unfortunately for us, we are in the down side of the cycle. Boo. Fuss. Boo. She just can't seem to stay in bed. No matter what. Sometimes I think it's because she is such a quality time gal that she can't handle thinking we are up without her. Maybe that's just what I tell myself so I don't feel like the worst mom of the year each night as my child continually gets up and whines and cries at bedtime. :) Anyway. Any advice out there? Or plain old pat you on the back I've been there's? I'll take it.

Friday, July 1, 2011

weddings, friends, discipling, & Texas

For the past few years I've had the privilege of discipling several college gals. We've read through many books of the Bible, several books, and done lots of talking and praying. I have truly loved it! Two gals graduated last May, one got married, both moved away. And now this past May the final two graduated and both had June Texas weddings! Andrew & I had a great time traveling down to Texas (twice) with our sweet friends Shawn & Anita. The quality talk time was amazing! With five kiddos and multiple house guests between our two families time together is precious! And then to add to that it was such a joy watching these gals & their now husbands get married. They all four amazed me at how Christ-centered their lives were and how deeply and honestly they desired that be true in their dating and now their marriages. I was proud of them and it was so fun to watch. So I didn't actually take pictures of them (kind of annoying carrying a big camera in the Texas heat in heels and a strapless dress) but we did get a few shots of the Brills/Schwartzmans which was fun and doesn't happen often!

my husband is such a goof