April 30, 2012

Day 30: Interrupted by the End

Here we are, friends.  April 30.  The final post in this month's series: interrupted by grace.

If I had to give the month a theme (for me), I'd say it had something to do with being set free.  Beginning each day with the perspective and expectation that God will "show up" and wants to interact with me on the basis of grace, releases me from the need to perform perfectly, cling to control, or live by fear.  My pride has been eroded a little more this month.  My faith has been built up.

In the midst of our days, God is there.  When we sin, His Spirit whispers conviction that we might repent, availing ourselves of His grace.  When the day is challenging, His Spirit whispers encouragement that we might continue on with hope by His grace.  When the day is lovely, His Spirit whispers reminders to be thankful to the gracious Giver of the good gifts.  When we succeed, His Spirit whispers reminders to praise the gracious Provider.  It's all of grace.  All of it.  Neither deserved nor earned, simply given when we believe.

When we belong to Him, His Spirit speaks to us.  Will we open our ears?
But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.  Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:16-18

My prayer is that this month has edified you as well.  What have you learned, been challenged by, or grown in as you've looked for God's grace interruptions?  I'd love to hear from you; please leave a comment!

*     *     *

I wish I could give you a preview of coming attractions here at Life in the Valley, but I am not yet sure where I'll be going next.  So stay tuned and thank you for following along this April.  Solo Deo Gloria.

April 29, 2012

Day 29: Interrupted by Eternity

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

Better is one day in your courts
   than a thousand elsewhere;
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than dwell in the tents of the wicked. 
Psalm 84:10

We sang a song based on Psalm 84 in worship this morning.  As we sang, I thought about my ideal day.  What would make for a perfect day?  My mood is always lightened by good weather, and I can be fooled into thinking life would be magically happier (or happy all the time) if we lived in southern California.  I know one faithful reader who would assure me this is not true!  So, perfect weather all the time would not provide forever happiness.  Then what?

A perfectly organized home and a family that never makes messes?  A day when all children are obedient and don't do anything that annoys me?  A day without any household chores or other "adult responsibilities"?  A day of constant relational harmony with my husband, kids, and others?

No.  Even one day in any of these scenarios would not bring the joyful satisfaction of being in the courts of the Almighty.  This world holds many charms.  My God holds the world.

Today I was interrupted by grace during worship, because one day I will stand in the courts of the Lord; all of my longings will be fulfilled; there will be no more tears, pain, fear, or death - all things made new and done right: creation, relationships, work, worship, faith.  Being in that place will be better than an infinite number of days here.  The dwelling place of God, of which we get small tastes now, will then be our perfect eternal reality.  It's gonna be AWESOME!  In the here and now, it gives me HOPE.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O LORD Almighty!
My soul yearns, even faints,
   for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and my flesh cry out
   for the living God.

Psalm 84:1-2

April 28, 2012

Day 28: Interrupted by Deliverance

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

The day is almost gone and I'm spent.  It was a good day so it's a good kind of exhaustion, but man, it's exhaustion nonetheless.

This morning I was interrupted by grace while facing the reality of my proud, competitive heart.  I have strange reactions to status updates and conversations on Facebook - like when one friend thanks a mutual friend for doing or saying the right thing.  I feel suddenly so insecure and jealous that I was not the one to have done that and what I said or did (or not) must have been "wrong" or at least inadequate.

Sure sounds like 8th grade stuff, doesn't it?  I get stuck there a lot.

These feelings of jealousy, insecurity, and fear come just like that.  There's no real thought behind them; they're suddenly right in the front of my brain.  And I tend to feel awful about this, because I know how ridiculous it is.  Today I decided to think it all through a little.

I've come to the conclusion that the enemy is at work in these things.  He so strongly desires to drive a wedge between me and my circle of accountability, friendship, and encouragement.  He loves to see me give into the temptation to obsess about meaningless Facebook status updates in which I'm not included, so that I'm drawn away from what is good, true, noble, lovely, and the like.

Lately I've been pondering the last petitions in the Lord's Prayer:  give us our daily bread, forgive us our sins, lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from the evil one.

I need to confess my sins to the Lord; I need to ask Him to transform my proud, jealous heart.  But I also need to pray, fervently, that He would lead me not into temptation, and deliver me from the evil one.

He sure is evil.

But God, well, He's good.

April 27, 2012

Day 27: Interrupted by Identity

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

The day began in the Word.  Well, after the coffee was brewed and email and Facebook had been checked.  Yes, then the day began in the Word, steaming coffee at my side, journal on my lap, pen in my hand.  I've loved getting back into this routine now that Katherine's presence is more routine.  It's my deep breath of Life before the family is awake and the day's bustle begins.

Several things came together in this time:

  1. Fresh on my mind was our discussion at Bible study last night about Philippians 2:14-16, particularly do everything without complaining and arguing.  The final application question was: In what specific ways do you need to make a concerted effort not to grumble or question God's dealings?  Right away I thought about my constant complaint that "there's too much to do."  And as I pondered why this is, it hit me that one major reason I complain about this is how much my identity is wrapped up in being on top of things, organized, put together, in control.  Looking around at or thinking about all that I need to do (home projects, school preparations, relationships, etc.) and being confronted with my inadequacy brings quick complaining, because it's the situation not me that's the problem.
  2. Earlier this week a friend from high school had briefly ranted in a status update about parents who are always bragging about their parenting.  Her summary was, and I paraphrase, What are you bragging about?  You're just doing your job!
  3. A few days back, I read in Luke 17:9-10 ~ Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do?  So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, "We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty."
  4. This morning I read the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector going to pray in the temple.  You know what I'm referring to?  The Pharisee's prayer is pompous and presumptuous.  The tax collector begs God's mercy.  I wrote this in my journal: The Pharisee was not going above and beyond [with his giving and fasting.]  He was doing what was right.  Back to the parable of the servant, "We are unworthy; we've only done what you told us."  So if our identity and pride don't come from our deeds, where does it come from?  WE BELONG TO THE LORD!  Joy in Him and our place in His kingdom - which we do not deserve and no amount of deeds could earn.  Wow!
In the waning moments of my quiet time, I tried to draw up a list of verses to remind me of my true identity. - yours too if you belong to the Lord!
  • I Corinthians 6:19-20   Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price.
  • I Corinthians 7:23  You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men.
  • Colossians 1:27  To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
  • Colossians 3:3  For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
  • I John 3:1a   How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
  • Galatians 2:20   I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Today I was interrupted by the futility of the things in which I place my identity and the glorious beauty of the identity God has given me through Christ.  It's crazy awesome.  Oh to dwell more regularly on this truth!

What would you add to this list of verses to help remind you?

Also, if you don't know Fernando Ortega's Children of the Living God, it's a great hymn related to this very topic.  Sadly, there is not a good YouTube recording.

April 26, 2012

Day 26: Interrupted by Sin

All around us
In us
Unavoidable effects
And power
Hidden in our minds
Spewed out in word
Dealt out in deed
Little children
Grown adults
Tainted, rotting, dying
Enslaved by sin
No escape
No hope

Save His amazing grace!
Restoring life!
Defeating death!
Making all things new!

Sin is a reality in our home, friends.  We don't even need to leave our humble abode to encounter it, because, well, it a'int so humble up in here!  Five self-centered, self-loving sinners provide plenty of opportunity for us to realize our need for the Savior ... within minutes of being up.  Every.  Day.

I can get so annoyed by my kids' immaturity and inflexibility, telling them to "shape up" and "deal with it," expecting them to do things that Scripture tells me are only possible if the Spirit is at work in us ... without pointing them  to Him.  Today, as I watched Elizabeth be selfish and Brian be selfish, I had to confront (not for the first time!) my own selfishness, which reminds me that I need to turn to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy, and teach my little ones to do the same.  I'm also reminded that sin's not going anywhere soon, we'll always be doing this: looking to the Lord for forgiveness and mercy, for real change, for hope when we're "washing, rinsing, and repeating" repentance and faith.  Every.  Day.

Grace, interrupting.  Grace, available.  Every. Day.

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

April 25, 2012

Day 25: Interrupted by Death

The sun shone brightly and a light breeze blew as we got ourselves into the car for our brief afternoon outing.  The clouds, pure white on the azure background of the sky, added extra beauty to the drive.  We made our way through the city, with its sky scrapers and important business, over a bridge, through a drab tunnel, with many others making their way out of town for the afternoon, or week, or maybe forever.  Leaving the highway we took a road unknown to me, but lovely enough to make me look twice at the homes for sale along the way ,and wonder about asking prices.  Pretty little places, extra appealing on such a glorious day.

It was on our way through the tunnel that I thought I should better explain to the children where we were going and how one is expected to behave there.  In the background, a male voice on the radio sang, There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears.  There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face, while I simply laid out what the kids could expect when we arrived at the funeral home.  My throat tightened as I finished.

Our outing was an actual interruption our day, going to pay our final respects to a neighbor we knew for far too short a time.

After a little visit we loaded back into the car - the day still gorgeous all around us - picked up some things at the store, and talked of afternoon plans on our way home.  When the kids occupied themselves in the back, I thought of my never-to-be-fulfilled desires to have John and Maria* over for dinner, to build a relationship with them, to let Maria get more time to play with the kids. Over the two weeks before her death I'd intended to have her over again to play with Katherine.  She loved our baby.  Now, there isn't another chance.  It's so sad.

Death is so sad.

So wrong.

So not what God intended.

Such an interruption. 

The grace?  Death is not the endgame; death does not have the final say.  Life does.  In Christ we can partake of it as His brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of the Living God!

What a wretched man I am!
Who will rescue me from this body of death?
Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:24-25

*names changed, just because it seems like the right thing to do

April 24, 2012

Day 24: Interrupted by Freedom

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

This morning afternoon when I showered, I got to thinking about how much there is to do and how many competing guilts I have in my head about how I'm doing, i.e. failing.  I so quickly take things that are good - spending time with the kids, keeping a neat house (read: making sure no one trips when they walk across my floors), blogging, home education - and turn them into strangling idols so that when I'm tending to one, I'm distracted and feeling guilty that I'm not able to keep up with the others as I'd like.  For example: guilt about not playing with the kids when I'm tending to housework, guilt about not tending to chores when I'm playing with the kids, guilt about sitting a minute to recharge with coffee and a book when the floor around me is littered with mess, guilt about letting the kids watch tv, guilt about not being the mother, wife, friend, sister, etc. that I should be.  Seriously, it can get ridiculous at times!

I love all of the books and blogs that encourage me to pursue my calling as a wife and mother with gusto and faithfulness.  But sometimes my little brain can't handle it all.  I'm so caught up trying to figure out how to prioritize things, how to "be all I can be," that I forget to BE, allowing Satan and my sinful heart to tempt me to guilt and despair, fear and remorse ... further pulling me away from being in the moment.

God's grace interruption today was the freedom to fill each moment with whatever seemed to be most important or even just okay at the time.

I think this verse is becoming a theme:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

*     *    *

Here's how we spent the rest of the day in freedom.  And you know what?  I enjoyed every moment!

There's sickness in the house, so we watched a movie!

While the kids had rest time, I finished up this ironing and did some organizing in the laundry room.

We played trains and Katherine joined us half way through !


After feeding Katherine, I needed to tend to our bedroom, where Katherine naps so it is regularly ignored.  As proof: tomorrow is laundry day and I still had my clean clothes in the basket from last week, with the dirty ones in a pile on the floor!  Having been given the freedom to choose tasks today as moments presented themselves, I was able to move from hanging with the kids to tending to some tasks without guilt.  It was glorious for my heart!  And will be good for my body too; I can get from the door to my bed without tripping.  Yee-ha!

The kids came in at one point just before I needed to get Katherine down for her late-afternoon nap.  I was rushing to finish up a few things, Elizabeth wanted to play some hand clapping games and I was teaching her a new one, when suddenly the dresser about 3 feet from us started tipping, all of the stuff tumbling from the top onto the floor ... AND BRIAN!  In the short moments Elizabeth and I were talking, he'd started opening my dresser drawers, from the top of course, and the dresser began to fall over on him!  Thankfully (again, God's grace) the bottom drawer stuck in the carpet, so the dresser didn't tip too far, but he did get a good bonk on the head from something that fell from the top.  Jeez Louise, my boy!!!  He won't let me leave you believing it was all roses around here, will he?

Anyway, after that it was pre-dinner showtime (Wild Kratts!) and the return of this guy for dinner.  We're all just as fond of him as Katherine!

How was your day?  How did God meet you and/or interrupt you with grace?

April 23, 2012

Day 23: Interrupted by Self-Control ... or Lack Thereof

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

Still not feeling 100% today, but much better than yesterday.  Thankfully there was nothing on the calendar, so we were able to be home.  I was not completely prepared for school, but we did get to all of the subjects, the kids had a great time playing together, and I even got some things done.  Which brings us to the topic of self-control ...

I was talking with Brian and Elizabeth today about having self-control at lunchtime, the specific behavior for them at meals is the constant need to touch things or have something to play with.  Busy, busy, busy.  It drives Colin and me nuts!  But as I was talking with them, I had to admit that I too lack self-control and am likely not doing a fantastic job teaching them to practice it.  I had just been speaking with my friend Chrissie about this very topic a few evenings ago.  For me I lack self-control with food, my tongue (too much talking!), doing my work before relaxing, the computer, and on and on.

In (until today) unrelated thoughts, I'd been thinking about trying to be more disciplined about just being with my kids, like sitting and playing with them from time to time.  I'm terrible at this because I let myself be distracted by duties or - more often - my cyberlife.  When I feel guilty about it, I want to make a plan: I will spend the hours of x to x playing each day, or MWF, or TThr.  Yeah, that never really amounts to much.

Today after the kid's rest time, and the time of the day that I have the toughest time letting go of the fact that "me time" is over, I had few more dishes to do.  So I suggested to the kids that they continue with something they'd started in the morning, while I wrapped up my task.

Then came the moment of decision.  Would I sit with them for the half hour before I had to feed Katherine or would I take advantage of their happy together play to free myself up to sit alone in front of the computer ... not practicing self control and not doing something my heart had been prioritizing?

I think because of our conversation at lunch, I chose to sit with them.  As I sat there playing Little People pirates on my kitchen floor with two of my favorite little people, I was thinking: Will they remember this, that their mom sometimes sat with them?  Does this matter?  The temptations crept in.

They probably won't remember that bit of time together.  In fact, if they inherit my memory, they won't remember much of their childhood!  But that's not the point of.  The Spirit had been gently impressing upon me the need to sit and "be" with my children more, and in that moment He gave me an opportunity and an obedient heart.  I'm thankful for that lunch conversation and how it prepared me for 3:30pm of the same day.

Interrupted by my own lack of self-control, my kid's lack thereof, and how we all need Jesus to forgive and help us.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Galatians 5:22-25

This series has been helping me to keep in step a little better.  How about you?  Do you have a story to share today?  Leave a comment!

Day 22: Interrupted by Illness and More

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here. 

Yesterday was odd all around, so I didn't post.  I awakened in the week hours of the morning FREEZING, so cold I could not get back to sleep.  After an extra blanket and turning up the heat, I did finally fall asleep, only to wake up about an hour later to the noise of a big truck....and then found that I was really HOT.  I got up to get some water and discovered an ambulance and fire truck in the street.  This was around 4:30am.  I finally determined they were tending to our next door neighbors.  The fellow who lives there has been in this neighborhood for decades, his girlfriend had moved in about nine months ago.  He had been sick recently, so I assumed the responders were tending to him; I texted her to make sure everything was okay.

It wasn't.  But I didn't learn that until about 9am.

Before going back upstairs to bed, after the ambulance and firetruck had pulled away.  I did notice that the man was out on the sidewalk talking on his phone.  That struck me as odd, since I'd expected him to have been ill, but I was too wiped out to really think about it and went back to bed.

I was able to get back to sleep finally, at some point in the 5 o'clock hour, and dragged myself out of bed again at seven to nurse Katherine.  I discovered a couple of calls on my phone from a number I didn't recognize, but no message.  As you might expect, I was feeling pretty exhausted.  I'd never experienced such bad sleep even when Katherine was a newborn.  That was such a strange night.  In the hours before church, I did a lot of laying around.

As I mentioned, around nine I got a call from the number that had called earlier.  It was the brother of the woman next door.  She had died in the night.  Died!

So not expecting that news.

*     *     *

Fast forward through the rest of the day:  We go to church, despite my warm clothing and wearing a baby in the wrap on my body, I'm again freezing the entire time.  We get home, I nurse Katherine and sleep until she needs to nurse again at four.  I try to eat some chicken noodle soup; one noodle tells me I shouldn't.  So I send Colin on a Gatorade, saltines, and pop run.  That Gatorade tasted so good!  I have a headache and take some meds; my body's still going back and forth between chills and hot flashes.

I do finally start to feel a little better after getting some calories in me.  I was concerned about getting over to see our neighbor, to check in and let him know we're with him in his grief.  I had hoped to take him dinner, but that wasn't happening, so I wrote him a little card, packed up a few muffins we had made yesterday, and Elizabeth and I walked over to deliver them after Brian had gone to bed.  There was no answer, so we left the treat on the mailbox.

*     *     *

Yesterday was one weird Sunday, that's all I can say.  Still not feeling stellar this morning and my neighbor lady is still dead.  I'm praying God will show us how to care well for him.  Certainly our days, no matter how well planned or organized, can be quickly changed by things outside our control.  What amazes me is how in control I deceive myself into believing I am.  Days like these with grief next door and sickness at home remind me I'm not.  They also remind me to trust that God is in control and at work, and not to fear.

Would you say a little prayer for my neighbor?

Thank you.

April 21, 2012

Day 21: Interrupted by Lyrics

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

"cause I got a couple dents in my fender
got a couple rips in my jeans
try to put the pieces together
but perfection is my enemy
on my own I'm so clumsy
but on your shoulders I can see
I'm free to be me
and you're free to be you"
-Francesca Battistelli

This morning, after dropping a friend and her son off for an appointment, this song came on the radio.  It's catchy.  I love the imagery and how it resonates with my experience.

So many years of my life were wasted enslaved by Master Perfection.  Now I live emancipated, on the shoulders of the Almighty, who desires faith and gives freedom.  I've got those rips in my jeans and dents in my fender, but rather than being defined by them (or trying desperately to hide them), they're simple proof of what the Lord can do to glorify Himself in one girl's weakness.  His mercy changes everything.

Do you have dents and rips?  Do you know the God who sets people free?

If you do:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1

If you don't, come to Him; His door and His arms are open:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.  John 3:16-18
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Does she not light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it?  And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’  In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.  Luke 15:8-10

Let me know if you'd like to know more.

April 20, 2012

Day 20: Interrupted by my Alma Mater

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

Today we spent a large chunk of the afternoon at our alma mater for Spring Carnival, a univeristy-wide, annual weekend of fun held every April.  In preparation for the weekend, student groups build "booths" around a theme (most of which end up being impressively decorated two-story structures) that include some simple game you can play for a small prize.  These are all set up on the midway, which also includes carnival rides.   A variety of performers are on the schedule for the weekend, there's a mobot race, and buggy races.  (I won't go on at length to explain the last two; you can read if you're interested.)

We went over to campus to see some of the mobot races, stroll the midway, and ride some rides.  It was really fun and the weather was perfect!

As I stood with my back to the mobot races (to try to keep some shade on Katherine's face) looking up at one of the large, concrete academic buildings, I saw a young woman watching the competition, from her office window three stories above.  At that moment, I was struck by  the reality that this place is part of my history.  I was glad to be there with my family and no longer a student (phew!)  It was exciting to share the names of buildings and short anecdotes with the kids about the place where Colin and I met, were educated by the academy, and nurtured in our faith through InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.

That brief moment, looking up at that very unattractive building and seeing that young woman, made me feel warm inside.  Thankful for the steps I trod there and how they contribute to who I am now.  And so, on this 20th of April 2012, I was interrupted.  Now, some photos:

We walked over to campus,
which included this set of Pittsburgh steps.

This orange art has been here since before I can remember;
my alma mater has also been my dad's employer for almost 30 yrs.

If you stay too long at CMU, this is what you turn into.

Rides and Booth!

April 19, 2012

Day 19: Interrupted by a SunggleChat

I have no idea what the rest of the day will be like.  But the day has begun much differently than expected.  The garbage men are late, so my children were not awakened at 6:30 (or earlier!) by the squeaking truck brakes and whistles of the man tossing the bags into the truck.  In fact, I hear them coming now; it's 7:30.  Nice.  Seriously, you have no idea how much joy this brought to my heart this morning, knowing my kids can get the rest they need!

As a result of this little blessing, Brian slept until 7 and came down on his own.  (Elizabeth is still sawing logs up there.)  I was nursing Katherine and he joined her on my lap, switching knees when Katherine switched sides.  Katherine was uninterrupted by the extra activity.  I got to caress my little boy, kiss his sweet smelling (because he was bathed last night!) hair, and chat with him about the scattered ideas that swarm around in a three-year-old mind.

It was precious.  What a sweet grace from the Lord this morning, since Thursdays never start out so peacefully and so lovely.

Also this morning, I was praying for a family whose little girl is going in for brain surgery today to biopsy and remove a mass hidden in her little head.  For 10-12 hours her parents will wait and pray, and worry and pray, and wait and pray.  There will be no snugglechats for them with their daughter today, but I do pray there are many for them in the future.

May God meet you with His grace today, dear friends.

(By the way, Brian is now singing a song about farts.  I do believe the sweet, precious moment has passed.)

April 18, 2012

Day 18: Interrupted by Transformation (in progress)

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

On Wednesdays I do the laundry, so the day is punctuated with trips up and down the stair to switch loads and bring loads up to fold.  As a result, Wednesday is usually an at-home kind of day.  Today was no exception, but for a short trip to the library to get some fresh reads for the kids.  Also, my friend, Jenna, dropped by in the afternoon to catch up a little - babies have a way of making relationships get a little behind! - which was a treat in the middle of an otherwise ordinary day.

So, nothing fantastic happened today, but Katherine could not sleep.  Every nap I put her down for was one big struggle for her.  Thus there were a few periods I had to hold her, when I normally would not need to, so by the time this evening rolled around, there were still clothes to fold (by some miracle all the loads had been washed and dried!) and the dishwasher, which was clean and ready for emptying this morning before I got up, had yet to be unloaded.  I couldn't get to blogging before I addressed those things.  And since it's our Community Group night, I got to them much later than normal and by the time I finished washing the dishes it was time for Katherine's 10pm feed.  Phew, where does the time go?!

So, interruptions today?

Before we left for the library I was starting to get a little, um, overwhelmed.  I'd had to hold Katherine when I'd wanted to gather up the library books (they were too heavy for the kids to get down to the car), and I wanted to get the laundry switched so it would be going while we were away, and I didn't know if Katherine would be happy waiting in her car seat while I got these things done.  I felt the pressure building up inside of me, you know the kind that makes you feel like you're a volcano about to erupt?  I was getting frustrated because life was reminding me that I'm not keeping up and I'm a failure and I was getting hot (I hate feeling hot!!) because I was rushing around trying to get things done on time ... though there wasn't a deadline, the kids were playing well, and Katherine was happy as a lark in her seat.

I did do some mumble-volume-level complaining about feeling inundated by the demands on me, mostly to "talk myself down" from getting angry at no one in particular.  But you know your family members are always the innocent victims in these situations.  I didn't want it to come to that.

And you know what?  It didn't.  God was good.  The Spirit edged His way in and enabled me to keep my cool and speak kindly to the kids while we all stumbled out of the house and piled into the car, as I thanked them for helping to keep Katherine happy.

In the not too distant past, I would have felt quite justified unleashing my emotions on the little people around me with harsh words and rough hustling to the car.  Sometimes (too frequently) I still do.  But today I was reminded that I don't have to go with my emotions; they're not the boss of me!
His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.  I Peter 2:3
Our pastor in Cambridge used to repeat this quote:

I'm not what I ought to be, but I'm not what I used to be either.

It's all of grace.
Solo Deo gloria!

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Can you think of a way you're not what you ought to be, but not what you used to be, because of God's work in your life?  In those little moments where we see God's fingerprints on our lives and the Spirit's work in our hearts, the kingdom has come.  How has the kingdom already come in your life?

Have a good night's sleep; I'm on my way there now!

April 17, 2012

Day 17: Interrupted by Being Out of Control

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.
Giveaway winners announced below!

This recycling bin is a metaphor for our lives right now.

It is untamed and chaotic.

My recycling bin reminds me of my inability to do it all.  I really long to have things under control: tidy home, obedient and healthy children, thriving marriage, good relationships.  No loose ends.  No unfinished projects.



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Then, this afternoon I was contemplating what it is that makes me hate the idea of my children enduring physical or emotional suffering.  And you know what immediately came to mind?


I can sit with them, weep with them, love them, help them.


Control freak much?

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I can't completely control what happens in my home or my kids' lives.  I long to be in charge in a way that would drive me away from my Savior.  That's His grace to me today - the reminder that if I did have all of those things I mentioned above and could heal all my kids' afflictions, not only would I be awesome (!), but I'd no longer need my Lord ... in fact, I'm pretty sure I would cease to be human.  And, despite all its trials, I do love being human.

One other thing hit me today, getting back to the recycling bin.

It is abundant and overflowing.

We can't really separate the two.  We have a new baby in our home, the joy of homeschooling, kids who like to play together which makes messes, food to prepare and eat, friends and neighbors to love and care for.  So sometimes, we don't get to the recycling bin right away.

Untamed and chaotic,
but abundant and overflowing.

THE WINNERS: Since I only had two comments for the journal, Sarah and Andrea, I'm gonna send you each one!  Seems silly not to.  Thanks for your comments and for joining in this month!  Now I know my readers are not big into journals ... noted.  :)

April 16, 2012

Day 16: Interrupted by Bad Attitudes

I'm writing daily this month on being interrupted by grace.  Learn more and join in here.

My mother-in-law gave me the day off from kids (who can talk) today.  Isn't she the best?  Seriously, if you knew how awful a daughter-in-law I have been at times, you'd think me more of a fool than you likely already do!  I could stop there, probably, because that was certainly a grace to me today.  But I won't let myself off that easily.  I will, rather, let you in on how selfish I am when I do get these me times.

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So, I had the day "off."  I must confess, as I already have to my husband, that I feared that since he knew that, he'd take my time away by making me sit to do the taxes with him.  Instead, he started them while I was dropping the kids off with his mom, finished them by lunchtime, and all I had to do was sign.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I got to do my own thing and thought not a lick about the taxes, till he asked me if I would make him a sandwich.  I said I didn't really want to, but would.  There was no reason I needed to say I didn't want to, was there?  But I did.  Making a sandwich for my husband takes maybe a minute: bread, meat, cheese, lettuce.  No condiments, no frills.  A sandwich.  And I had a rotten attitude about making it - right after he'd finished the taxes for our family - and told him so.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

I had offered to get the one tax form that needed to be mailed to the post office before five, but remembered this about the time in the afternoon that I know traffic starts to get busy on the road to the post office.    I was just about to start another project on my day off, before the last hour passed and I had to feed Katherine again.  But I said I'd mail it and I needed to go - right then.  So, cheerfully and joyfully  groaning and moaning, I gathered up my things and went.  (I'm such a martyr, aren't I?  I mean, really, the ways I sacrifice!!)

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.

And you know what?  He really did have mercy.  The traffic was light, I beat the rush of a handful of other customers, and made the whole round trip in about 15 minutes.

Wow, I didn't deserve that grace.  But I guess it's not grace if we deserve it, eh?  I was certainly interrupted; God got my attention.  I ate my nice big slice of humble pie, and gave thanks.

Did you have a wow-I'm-a-big-sinner day like me?  If you did, I pray God was and is interrupting you with His grace and you've found rest for your soul.

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Hey, don't forget!  There's a little giveaway going on that you can enter until midnight tonight.  Check it out here.