Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Family Planning or... Non-Planning?

As a new mom, I've been reading lots of books on lots of parenting styles... attachment parenting, "babywise" parenting, "gentle mothering," etc. I think Ryan & I have pretty much decided what will happen in Top Porch under Szrama Papa & Mama Rule, and that will be another post entirely. :)

One of the issues that's come up sort of tangentially in reading these things is the issue of birth control. I've thought about this one a lot for the past few years, reading different perspectives and trying to process each in light of Scripture. I'll try to post my musings here, without being TOO specific so that my Grandma & Mom can still read this. :)

On one extreme, there's the post-modern consumer view that holds children as a convenience item, to be "fit into" the parents' lives if/when/however they deem best. That can mean delaying parenting as long as you want, having only one or two children because that's all your schedule can allow, electing to have any children born raised by others in day care so that neither parent's careers & social lives suffer, bottle-feeding merely because it's more convenient for the mom, not disciplining in love because "it's too stressful," and even having abortions whenever a child wouldn't be convenient or desirable. In this mindset, children are little more than an after-thought, even if they are deeply loved and often spoiled. In many ways, this view of parenting puts children in the same category as pets-- there for your enjoyment, when you want them, if you want them, how you want them... or at worst as a burdensome byproduct of something you enjoy. Obviously, this is not Biblical. Children are made in the image of God, created uniquely by Him, and always on purpose. Abortifacients of any kind are unquestionably wrong: abortions, the morning-after-pill, according to my research, IUDs. Scripture devotes a lot of space emphasizing the nuclear family- mom, dad, children- as crucial in our call to bring EVERYTHING on earth in submission to God's Kingly Rule. Biblical parenting takes time, effort, love, prayer, pain, and a LOT of wisdom.

On the other extreme, we have the "Quiver Full" movement, whose party line is that children are an unqualified blessing from the Lord, and that the blessing on Adam & Eve to "be fruitful & multiply, to fill the earth & subdue it" is a trump-card-command to every couple: have as many children as you can, or you aren't obeying God. This means that all birth control of any kind is wrong, as it impedes God's created norm: married couples having sex and so having babies. Christians are told that they must trust God for the opening & closing of the womb, letting Him decide how many children they have, how close together, and when. Not to do so would be rebellion or doubt of His goodness. In this view, children are THE goal of all marriages, the epicenter of God's plan for the salvation of the world. I said it was an extreme; clearly, I don't buy into it.

Let me briefly try to outline where I stand & why: Scripture is very clear that it is WELL-RAISED children who are a joy & well-aimed arrows; and that the converse is equally true-- undisciplined children are a heartache and no credit to their parents or their parents' Lord (see most of Proverbs). We are told in 1 Tim 5:8 that we are worse than unbelievers if we don't provide for our own families. Doesn't that include spiritual & emotional provision, not just food & shelter? I've seen the results of forgetting that each child is a BIG investment: I know two very large families who both adhered to the "Quiver Full" movement. In both families the mom was exhausted and left the raising of the younger children, as well as most of the house & garden work, to her older children. These kids -who never looked well-kept- though very bright, could barely spell, struggled with simple math, and were either emotionally immature or volatile. In one family, the older daughter completely rebelled and turned her back on her parents' faith, vowing to never have children, so bitterly short was her own childhood. In both families, Mom & Dad just didn't have time for them all. Does that sound like "Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate." (Psalm 127:4-5) to you? Let each parent count the cost before he puts his hand to the plow!

It seems to me that each woman & man is given different resources by the Lord, and must steward them well. Not every woman can handle 9 children well. Not every man makes enough money to support 5 kids, nor has enough time to invest in 12 sons (come to think of it, neither David nor Jacob were very good at that one). It often actually HURTS the Kingdom when such parents pursue unqualified fertility, and leave themselves no energy for personal holiness or mercy ministry. As
this blogpost points out, “Be fruitful” isn’t the trump verse of the Bible. If we were looking for the trump verse, it would have to be Jesus’ words to love God and love our neighbor. He already told us the main thing. (Question to myself: How well am I doing that?) How can we avoid one verse becoming the measuring stick of the condition of our hearts and the vehicle in which churches and groups are built upon?" One of her readers also had some good insight, from a husband's perspective:

"About the Birth Control, We were on the one extreme, absolutely no prevention, for a number of years, many of them while being single. After my wife and I had eight pregnancies in six and a half years, we started wondering about this whole concept. We now have six with us and three with the Lord. I love my children and I hope for some more, but I also know that if we do nothing, my wife will be pregnant almost solidly for the likely, next 14 years! Besides being emotionally draining, it is about to drive her insane with all the hormonal changes that her body is going through. We are now at the place where we are open to more children, but we must first put a little space between the children to allow her body to rest. No, I am not talking about ten years either! But an understandable amount of time.
Paul tells us to “dwell with our wives according to knowledge.” It falls to us husbands to hear our wives and to seek God’s face for what is the right road for us. No, it may not be the right choice for you, and I won’t hold you to what God is asking of me. But we must not make the choice glibly or selfishly."
There's quite a body of scientific evidence that children spaced 2 years apart are healthier, as their moms' bodies are able to fully replenish after giving every spare resource to Big Bro or Big Sis. Not to mention the health & ministry potential of the mom (and dad) being at stake! Knowing what the first 5 months of my own pregnancy were like, I know that it would be in some ways irresponsible of us to repeatedly put me "out of commission" for 5 months at a time, leaving my husband without a helper, my children without a mother, and my house in shambles. Ryan & I were fed & clothed throughout the pregnancy, but only barely, and I can't imagine doing it with a 2, 4, 6, and 8 year old to care for as well. They're a lot more high maintenance than Ryan is. :) So I'm praying that subsequent pregnancies are easier on me- maybe if they're boys?-, and if they aren't, I guess adoption will be our way to increase our family.*

What if farmers farmed according to this mentality: "Well, I haven't really looked into when the frosts are this year, but I'm planting in trust and faith. The Lord is in control of the weather, and I'm trusting Him. He commanded me to work 6 days a week, and I'm working now. If all the crops die, that will be His will, and if they succeed, that'll be His will, too. I'm in complete submission to Him." It sounds slightly ridiculous, though Christians would all agree that God IS in complete control of the weather, and that even our best guesses and observations (almanacs) can be overturned in a second by His will. Can you trust God and still try to "control" certain aspects of your gardening? Absolutely! God-honoring men & women have done it for hundreds of years. As Oliver Cromwell said, "Trust God, and keep your powder dry!" In other words, trust & submission to God does not negate doing the best you can with what He's given you on your end.

How does this apply to conception/family planning? Well, there are methods of birth control that allow a couple to space children, not out of selfishness or for convenience's sake, but for wholly godly reasons. Taking out all abortifacients-- which I'm horrified to find, does include some forms of The Pill-- (and many doctors admit that we don't exactly know how "The Pill" works anyway), there are still plenty of options ("barrier methods" being the easiest). My favorite, you could say, is known as the "Fertility Awareness Method." I like it because it works WITH a couple's bodies as God made them, instead of against them as chemical methods of birth control do.... I have enough of my OWN hormones to deal with, lol. (Some helpful websites:
FAM, NFP, and 2 helpful books) I also feel like it allows more room for God to maneuver if He chooses, since there's nothing really preventing pregnancy, though of course He can overcome anything, even IUDs and abortions. Does the use of these methods & others like them require husband-wife communication? Oh yeah. ... Does it require abstinence at times (if you refuse even all barrier methods of contraception)? Yes again. Is that self-control and thoughtful, intelligent use of what the Lord has given you, aka a brain, knowledge of your own body? Yes! Are any of those things EVER condemned in Scripture? No way!!

Well, there you have my humble opinion on such things. Many godly people have differing opinions; even in our search for balance, we don't all exactly sit at the same spot on the see-saw. Hopefully this will help people think through things, though, and maybe come to a more Scriptural conclusion (even if it doesn't match mine, if you're thinking & reasoning according to Scripture because of something I've written, I'm happy!)...

Next on my list to tackle: parenting styles! :)

*[NB: keep in mind that I write all of this as a healthy, young wife with no indication of infertility, to couples in similar situations-- if I'd had trouble getting pregnant, or was getting older, you can bet we'd be welcoming babies to come whenever we could get them!!]

Monday, June 29, 2009

Third Trimester, Here I Am!

Thought you might like some photo updatage of the baby girl... yes, yes, we'll all be glad when I can stand aside and take pictures purely of HER! :)
I'm feeling great overall-- my most persistant complaint is low back/sacrum pain, but my chiropractor helps a lot, and I think the Pilates class I started today actually is, too. I wasn't expecting that! I start Aqua Aerobics tomorrow, hihihi, so I'll be finally getting some non-impact exersise. It's gotta beat going up & down those stairs at VBS like I did all last week. Phew!
So far, no swelling or scary symptoms... just goin' on like I have been, remembering that there are some things my abs just don't want to do anymore, lol. I may be starting my "nesting" bug, I don't know-- I am organizing and sorting and looking for baby furniture. Ashlea & I found a great dresser (which will be a changing table) at Goodwill today, after not too much searching. We'll do some work on it, and voila! Now to find an affordable armoire to refinish... I love being pregnant, and I think I will love holding her in my arms even more. :)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Marriage to the Man :)

I came across this article, written by a wedding planner on "warning signs" she sees in couples as they plan their weddings (I of course thought of The Wedding Planner where she pegs those whose marriages will fail based on the color of the bridesmaids' dresses and the couple's "song"). It's pretty interesting-- I highly recommend reading it and thinking about it, whether you are about to get married, are a newly-wed, or are a veteran. It got me thinkin, anyway. (I'm so glad I let Ryan choose his own cake! ;D)

We celebrated my groom's first Father's Day last Sunday, and it was so fun! I made GF Monkey Bread for breakfast, and his favorite meal (Hobo Casserole), and closed out the day with homemade strawberry ice cream (again his favorite)- we tried adding chocolate chunks this time. Éowyn got her daddy a CD she thought he'd like (the newest Casting Crowns CD), and I made the card. =D She also featured in a bookmark we made together for him-- her sweet little ultrasound picture at the top!

For our entertainment, I interviewed the Dad-to-Be. My friend Lauren's wedding shower was the previous day, and as a shower game they'd interviewed the groom (q's like "What's his favorite dessert?" "What was the name of his first pet?" "What's his favorite meal that you've made?" "What was your first date like?" "What's been his favorite of your dates?") and then asked the bride the questions to see how well she knew her intended. Lots of us there were like "Woah! I don't know if I could answer all these about my husband!" So I interviewed mine and have tucked away the answers into my brain and journal-- a girl's gotta know these things! Plus it was fun to ask him and see if I could guess his answers. Couples need to be students of each other-- my goal is to be an expert in Ryanology. And it's not like it's an onerous task; Thompson Dating Rule #1 is: "Only date those whom you find interesting and attractive" (not kidding- it really is one of The Three Rules)!

Celebrating Ryan's entrance into Fatherhood was an extra blessing for me as his wife because it made me look around at all the little ways he shows love and care for me now, and not only give thanks for that, but realize what a loving dad that means he'll be! I thought of how he got me a sprayer head for our hose as a surprise, so I don't have to wear my thumb out watering our garden every morning. I'd never mentioned it and hadn't asked for it, and one morning I went out to water the plants, and voila! there it was! (hehehe and I totally soaked myself in the face trying to figure out how to use it. THAT was funny.) I remembered how he went to Blockbuster & got me Meet the Robinsons when I had a random hankerin' to watch it last week. Surrounding me are the walls recently-painted to suit my tastes, the best wall being the red one... the wall he had to give 4 coats to get the color to stick... I thought of how he took me out to dinner at Los Aztecas on my whim last week, just because I was tired after VBS and it sounded so nice to eat out (we ended up going with another couple & some other friends and had a great time). Oh yes, and the way he vacuums every Sunday after Care Group so I don't have to worry about it. Things like that are so small and so mundane, which is precisely what makes them reassuring and heart-warming. I love Éowyn's daddy, and can't wait to watch him love her like he lavishes love on me, her mama.

I'm wanting to love him better-- to pray diligently for him, and to ask him every day what one thing I can do to help or serve him that day (advice I received from an older happily-married friend). We've had fun reading these silly quizzes in Babytalk and Parenting magazine, too. They get us talking and analyzing each other and just being goofy...such as the "What's Your Dad-Style?," read over Blizzards at DQ one sticky night. Apparently Ryan is a mix of "The Consciencious Provider" and "The Clueless Wonder." lol. Hmmm. So is he a Clueless Provider or a Consciencious Wonder? =D Other fodder for conversation lately has been the Bradley Childbirth material & stuff we get in class... more "what do you think of ___" type questions.

Well, my Lovely is in Denver this weekend and I am all alone. Well, not really alone-- Miss Princess reminds me of her little presence with sweet kicks (just got one) and not-so-sweet acid reflux after every meal... and this morning woke me up at 4 a.m. to eat... of course I couldn't go back to sleep, so I'm headed to bed now (I already had a 90 min. power nap). I'm already waking up every night to feed the baby, and she isn't even born yet!
Missing you, Ryan, and glad you're coming home soon,
--your happy wife

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Diaper-Induced High :)... how you could save, too!

So... I just had the fun of researching, price-shopping til I'm dropping, and then buying my very first 2 orders of cloth diapers!! I know, you can tell I'm a mom now. :) I'm also keeping a hawk's eye on craigslist.com for a dresser I can use as a changing table...

After hounding all my cloth diapering friends for advice, I've decided on doing semi-disposable (gdiapers) for the first 6 weeks (you know, when I have no desire or energy to do laundry), then mostly prefolds (the old-fashioned white ones you used to have to pin) with cute covers, along with some "pocket diapers" (like a disposable except you still stuff them with a prefold, and then wash both) for babysitters, lazy days, and church. These are the most economical... the savings compared to disposible diapers (especially if you buy them new and use them for 2 or 3 babies, as we plan on doing) are in the 1000s of dollars! Being a minimalist, list-writer, and penny-saver, this is a fun project for me for sure!

Anyway, I caught one deal on craigslist for a combination of pocket diapers and covers, and even though the diapers are used (and so probably won't last as long), the whole lot of 12 diapers was only $50 (that's a great deal, FYI), and the variety will help me decide which brand fits my babies best... I'm not sure if our firstborn will be a long skinny baby like me, or a tubbier one like Ryan. Makes a difference! Then I was able to snatch up some deals at diapers.com, along with coupon codes... for $37 I got a gdiaper starter kit and 2 fuzzibunz pocket diapers... WOW!!

For anyone wanting to duplicate it, here's how I did that: first, orders originally over $50 qualify for free shipping (a bonus), then, new customers can input a "referral code" for $10 off (just email me and I'll give you mine), and THEN you can fill out a form & mail it in to turn down the free Parenting Magazine subscription for a $15 rebate! So basically you get $25 off whatever you ordered, plus free shipping. Very nice. So now I'm feeling quite excited and will be having BIG FUN when it all gets here!!! One friend recommended trying it on a baby doll, and I think I will, just for kicks!

Off to check out a dresser...

On the Agenda for Next Month...

...making my own laundry soap! Several friends have suggested it, and after seeing prices of washing soda & borax (the two prime ingredients), it would be stupid of me NOT to try it... especially since these recipes don't look time-intensive or hard! (especially making the powdered variety)

If anyone else wants to try, here are two sites! Making Homemade Laundry Soap and 10 Homemade Laundry Soap recipes.

I have read you can also add Oxyclean to the mix if need be... or I guess you could just throw it into the washing machine as usual.

Good word after VBS is over

“Be content to be nothing, for that is what you are. When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord.”- Charles Spurgeon

Friday, June 26, 2009

Fuzzibunz Diaper Giveaway!

All you cloth-diapering moms out there, here's a giveaway you might want to enter!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

VBS- Upward Bound '09

VBS this year has been crazy! I guess it's what happens when God answers prayer, and I find out I wasn't really expecting Him to.
We're using the VBS Reachout Adventures "Upward Bound" curriculum, which uses the theme of a mountain hike to teach about Christ's single-minded "journey" from Heaven to manger to Cross to Heaven again. The hiking motif is also used to present the Gospel at the end of each day (we're all like hikers refusing to follow the Upward Bound Trail, and so separated from God and doomed). This curriculum uses workbooks for each of the kids, and stickers they earn as they go in order to motivate Scripture memory, parental involvement, etc. It's the curriculum I've experienced and taught since my first "Genesis: Space Probe" VBS at age 4... good times. But basically, we had so many children on the first day that we ran out of "Trail Journals" (workbooks)! I had ordered more than we used last year, just to "be on the safe side."

What caused the influx? Well, we weren't expecting 25 Somali children to attend... that in and of itself is a miracle, because for the past 3 years that I've been here, they have never been allowed to set foot in our building, much less attend BIBLE school! I think our ESL ministry is finally really making inroads into the community. (The Somali community is 100% muslim, and as such usually consider entering a Christian "holy place" (church) a no-no, even if it isn't for a worship service.) We rejoice that the Lord has brought them among us, along with a sizeable number of kids from our church neighborhood, as well as more children from the church than we've ever had.

Please be praying for the 3 groups of children present and hearing about the life of Christ, and their NEED for Him, this week: 1. our churched kids-- that their ears would be opened to actually hear the Gospel, despite having having heard it millions of times-- they need a Savior, and so many of them think they don't (because outwardly, they're "good" kids); 2. children from our neighborhood-- that they will get an accurate picture of the Bible and Christ's life-- they are immersed in a "Christian" culture which uses christian catchphrases but misses Christ completely, and most are not from believing homes; 3. children from the Somali community-- they have a language barrier and a discipline barrier to surmount, and this material is completely foreign and new to them. Please pray that they won't be a hindrance to the other children, and that God will work among them all!

3 days down, 2 to go... so much to do, so little time. Well, I'd better go work on my Mary Magdalene costume... at least I won't have to wear green paint for that one. :)
--"Head Guide Mrs. Christina"

PS- oh yeah, the individual in green paint is me, dressed as Gaia the Gecko, an "eyewitness" of Jesus' temptation in the wilderness. It was amazing how quiet the children were during my story-- I'm starting to wonder if we should all don costumes during Sunday School...
PPS-- more photos

That's My Sister!

My sister Nicole is about to graduate from Winthrop with a degree in Special Education, emphasis EBD (emotional behavioral disorders). She's a wonderful teacher to anybody, but especially shines when it comes to kids most people dread talking to. She really displays the love of Christ to the least of these... and our home-town newspaper recognized that and did an article on her! Way to go, Nicolita! :) I love how they mentioned that she considered a degree in mechanical engineering (she's quite the math whiz), which is a higher-paying field and one most people think more highly of. She's such a talented kid, which is precisely WHY she is such a wonderful teacher.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baby Update!

<-- hehe, the view in my camera when I took this picture of Éowyn's toys on the floor. I was like "what is that in the way?? Oh, it's ME!" =D

I'm officially 6 months along now: THIRD TRIMESTER. YIKES!! People ask all the time how I'm feeling, and I love being able to grin and say "great! I LOVE being pregnant!" No more morning sickness, no more consant nausea, and that mean no more dragging fatigue. I'm enjoying sorting baby clothes, going with Ryan (my labor coach-to-be =D) to our Bradley class, practicing squats while gardening, and getting our home ready for the wee one's arrival. Speaking of Éowyn, she is growing up a storm-- I can tell because some days I'll be so incredibly hungry, and my belly will feel "pulled." She is quite active when I sit down, too. Nights & mornings, Ryan loves to come lay down beside me and put his hand on my belly to feel her karate moves. Sometimes we just watch the seismic activity. Last night she had the hiccups, and it was so cute!

I was a guinea pig for a local midwives' certification course, which was SO COOL!! They used me to practice taking blood pressure, analyzing urine (fun!), listening for fetal heart tones, etc. It was like a free extra check-up, with one awesome bonus: using only their hands and a fetoscope (fetal stethoscope) they were able to find Éowyn by pressing gently on my belly, determine where she was facing, and hold her still (through my belly, mind you!) to get a heartrate before she rolled away. It was so cool!! I was so impressed with how they related to her as a person, talking to her during the exam, reminding each other that midwives try to get to know both mom AND baby through pre-natal visits, and expecting her to interact back with us. And she did! She did not appreciate being held still, and started kicking like a little madwoman until she was released. :) I especially liked how they were able to figure out which end was her head and which was her bum-- basically if the entire body moves when the end in question is wiggled, it's her bum. If it moves independantly, it's her head. The exam was totally painless-- they were so gentle and sweet... makes me want to become a midwife even more!
I've used the knowledge gleaned from that experience to play with Éowyn myself sometimes. It's harder to find her on my own belly, because my muscles tighten when I'm standing, and laying down I don't have the best view, but I usually can tell where she is now, and sometimes can wiggle her gently, and talk to her. It's so amazing to get to know this tiny soul living a mere skin's breadth away from us.

I'm also getting more familiar with my own pregnancy as I do that-- I can tell that she's bigger, as she takes up more and more room accross me and gets easier to find. :) Being pregnant is such a privelege, and despite all the downs it has... had... I am enjoying every aspect of it that I can. :)

PS- not sure how good Ryan's going to be at helping me relax during labor; the other day as we were practicing contractions & relaxation during class, he whispered in my ear "You're a leaf on the wind..." and I totally cracked up. I tried to hold it in, but there was no stopping it. So much for realistic rehearsal. Our instructor was like "umm, try to take this seriously, as much as you can..." lol. I told Ryan he must NOT use that phrase during labor if he values his life, our marriage, or our daughter's safety. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Christmas in June!!!

Wow, so much for which to give thanks! From overwhelming attendance on Day 1 of our VBS to our dads (and Éowyn's very very cute Daddy) on Fathers' Day to generous gifts of baby gear and maternity clothes to our cute little garden growing happily under perfect conditions (HOT sun and lots of rain)... even strawberries and blackberries I'll get to pick tomorrow, and sweet friends with whom to pick 'em! All these are good gifts from a Good Father. The ONLY One who is Good, really...

But lest I wax toooo eloquent, let me focus on one item of thanks: BABY GEAR! Yesterday, yet another friend & DSCS mom (I've had one of her daughters in my preschool class each year, and next year will have Caroline again! The next year, I'll have their 3rd little girl!) brought over 7 -yes, SEVEN- boxes of baby items for our little one. Bottles, clothes, toys, one of those dishwasher baskets for all the small parts going into bottles & sippies, a really cool little crib-side "aquarium" (which fits in perfectly with our nautical-themed nursery), and bigger items like a gate and a Mozart-playing baby play mat... and did I mention clothes? I love her taste, so it was especially nice. It was like a baby shower all from one person. WOW. It amazes me that so many are willing just to give so much to us-- these people could easily sell this stuff and make a little money on it, especially since it's in good condition and really cute! :)

So last night I opened up all the boxes (it is so fun) and sorted the clothes by size. I integrated them with the clothes I've already been given from various people, and had enough to pass on some myself! (there are always about 15 women pregnant at Immanuel at any given time, and this "crop" seems to be mostly girls. Two of my friends are expecting daughters around the same week as we are!) But seriously, we are set as far as clothes go, up to 18 months for sure, and we have a good head start for clothing up to 3T! Heheh, and not all of it's pink, either. :) I've made quite sure of that. I figure the pierced ears will set her apart as a girl even if I get her up in green or red or blue, although who knows, because I've had friends' daughters get called boys dressed head to toe in pink and lace... oh well, she won't remember. :)

So now my daughter has more shoes than I do. And cuter clothes. And we have so much of what we both need and just will find convenient as we care for her. Our house is being taken over by BABY!!!!... and she's barely 2 lbs and not even breathing on her own yet... lol. Our lives will NEVER be the same!

Seriously, though, I'm thinking we may have to put "no clothes under 12 mos." on baby shower invitations, because we just don't need anymore, especially considering how grandmas are (I know they'll want to give her sweet little outfits, too)! If anyone reading this is wanting to get us a baby gift and doesn't know what to buy, how about some cloth diapers? That's one thing we haven't gotten any of yet, and something that can add up even though each item isn't that pricy.

[I've looked into lots of options and still don't know what will fit Éowyn best (since, well, she isn't here), but I think we want to do small g-diapers for the first 2 months or so (they are semi-disposable), and after that for sure some bumGenius (one-size and/or all-in-ones), though I won't want to use these exclusively by any means. Both are also available for purchase at diapers.com, and are sold at BabiesRUs & Target. Just throwin' that out there... :) Oh, for diaper covers, I have heard rave reviews about Thirsties, which are available (currently with free shipping) at nikisdiapers.com... ;)]

In He who provides abundantly more than we could ask or imagine, in ALL areas of life,

--A very thankful Mama

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Good, Insane Concordance Maker :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

The Good, Insane Concordance Maker :: Desiring God Christian Resource Library

Shared via AddThis

Here's a taste to encourage you to read the full (short) article:

"What encourages me about this is to realize that God’s ways are strange. “How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33). And in this strangeness, sinful and sick and broken people fit into God’s designs. He has purposes for the mentally ill and for the emotionally unstable and for the socially maladjusted. And he has purposes for you.

[...] Beware of belittling God’s crooked sticks. With them he may write the message that that makes a thousand people glad.

Looking for merciful design everywhere,
Pastor John"

Thursday, June 18, 2009


My first attempt at picking strawberries was with IBC's "Mothers & Others Playgroup." We went to Hubers Orchard & Winery (in Starlight, IN)... but got rained out. I did get this super-cute pic of Morgan & Casey, though.
Casey's son, Lincoln, chilled in Bonnie's car w/ Bonnie, me & Lydia while his mother galivanted around in the rain. We did eventually all brave the rain and run into the store. The strawberries smelled SO GOOD I had to buy some. :)

Strawberry-Picking Attempt #2: with the Brainards to Joe Hubers Farm, also in Starlight, IN. The bonus was that Ryan got to come this time!

Amanda has perfected the feed-the-baby-anywhere routine.

We had a blast picking the berries, and then when we got them home and let them "rest" for a day, they tasted even better! We've enjoyed lots of strawberries-and-cream, and then for care group I made a GF strawberry-blueberry crumble that was very yummy. (I was a bit worried about it because I was totally out of oil & barely had any butter left... so in went applesauce and orange juice... and it tasted quite good!)

More pictures here!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A Poem from Way Back When

...back when I actually tried to write poetry. I put my pen down one day and never have even tried to pick it back up. I'm surprised I don't miss it-- it used to be SO MUCH a part of how I processed thoughts and made sense of the world. Anyway, this came out of WB Yeats poem "Adam's Curse," as well as the book Celebrating the Sabbath, which explains how the 4th command brings ALL work under the Lordship of God: "Six days you SHALL LABOR and do all your work." There are also references to Isaiah in it. I hadn't read this poem in quite a while, so... here it is. :)

"Marked Out By the Hands"

(places that are still in question in italics)
Calloused hands between my own--
Young, strong athletic hands—
Ready to go and conquer or find—
A hundred or more perfect plans.
Yet hidden in a pocket, they
Twist and clench as if to say
"I'm sorry that I'm work-worn,
I'm sorry that I'm rough.
I spend my days a wagèd slave
I know it's not enough."

A Voice rang out o'er dew-pearled grass
"You work it—till it—love."
And the First Man leapt to tend it,
That Garden from above.
And though he would with anguish tell
Of the day he and our Mother fell,
His sons to now are still marked out—
"The Image-bearing band"—
By the marks of work and labor;
By the callous on your hand.

Yet let your labor be distinct,
Not meaningless or vain.
For with a Purpose Adam's Son
Came [and toiled] to reverse the Shame.
Let the song upon your smile say
"I walk and work a better way."
Of old, the prophet told us,
A man would mark his hand:
Not as a pagan calls his god,
But "Yahweh's"—a grain of Sand.

There is no shame in labor done
For the Joy before our heart—
The Seventh Sanctified Sunrises
Make holy every honest art.
Live and work, in our today,
As a re-molded work of clay:
You're marked as bound for glory,
As a stranger in the land
Of the very soil you till at—
By the name carved on His Hand.

Life itself has rough-housed by.
The wrinkled hands I hold
Have caught and clenched their share of it,
Then freely beshowered their gold.
Beckoning now, wide open, they
Embrace and call as if to say
"I learned that life is toil and sweat—
I learned that work is good.
I followed the Carpenter who died [marked His hands]
Upon the Sacred Wood."

Written 12/13/05 (my junior year at Furman!!)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Finding Whole-Heartedness When I Feel Like I Left Part of it Behind

I flew into Louisville yesterday evening, and Ryan picked me up at the airport. I'm sitting here admiring our newly-painted dining room walls (I LOVE the red!) and thinking about everything that must be done here in Louisville, because this is where I live (duh). But getting home to Louisville and my husband and my dear little house on Camp Street meant leaving Toronto. Not that I have any particular attachement to that city, per se (I've seen the snow pictures, and it wasn't nearly warm enough for June, in my opinion)... but it meant leaving people I very much love, with no reunion time in sight. It's been a hard thing.

In some ways, I feel like I just moved all over again... most of you know that I have lived in Greenville and its environs for most of my life, attending the same church and so serving alongside, laughing with, knowing, being known and being loved by the same people for many many years. It's not just my childhood home, it's my high school home, my college town, my church home town, and my family's home. Sure, there are lots of painful memories, lots of old hurts and questions and people who STILL annoy me (and people whom I have always annoyed, lol), but that's just life! I still love it there! Packing up everything to marry a man I'd known a year was something I very gladly did (and will gladly do again and again and again!!!), but it did mean leaving everything else behind. Thankfully, I'd been here to Louisville before, and had started the integration process. I loved my new church already... and my new life in Louisville had the very significant perk of now being married to my favorite person in the world! So it wasn't as hard as it could have been, but there were days of living among the boxes when all I could think of was "I want my Mommy." I hear many new brides get that urge. :)

Two years and many new friends later (not to mention a new job, house, car and now pregnancy), I feel all those old pains again, very fresh and very raw. For two whole weeks, I was with people who have loved me through the most painful days of my life-- Chris, Val, and my Mom,-- people who have held me to the Gospel when I could not hold myself there, people who know me as I really am -the good, the ugly, and the goofy- and love me all the way. It reminded me of what I've left behind to follow Him. It reminded me of how much goes into friendships in order to make them that sweet and safe, and of how much I've resisted investing in new friendships. It reminded me of what the Gospel calls us to, and how far I've slid from living that way... and it all just hurts. I spent 14 days laughing my head off, reliving old jokes and making new ones, being honest, listening to, and just sharing life with the dearest friend the Lord has given me. I'm gonna miss that. (and of course I mean apart from my husband; Ryan's my life partner and soul mate; he gets his own category =D)

So today I'm unpacking and trying to re-orient myself to life here and now. I'm trying to stop crying and to thank God for each happy memory to treasure, and for the wonder of technology that enables international friendships not just to survive, but even to thrive. I'm trying to learn all that God has been trying to teach me through this experience. I think the main point is that I must be living all the way, wherever I am, doing whatever I'm doing for His glory. Chris preached a sermon Sunday whose application was that when we sin, the problem is a lack of passion for God. Part of every repentance should be repenting to Him for not loving Him supremely and passionately enough. Oh, that one hit close to home.

So... today I'll be unpacking, and thanking God, and repenting of lukewarm passion. I'm also pretty sure that God's trying to show me that my joy must not, cannot be circumstancial. This is something Val & I were talking about a lot- we both are quite competant, and able to manage life pretty much alone. We can do what needs to be done, and do it pretty well. But it's not enough to just survive-- there's got to be a "joy in the journey." That joy has to be Jesus, or else it will fade whenever anything else in life fades... which is everything. My joy and cheif companion must be He, not my new baby girl, not my husband, not my success as a teacher, not a great VBS, not even godly wives & moms who spur me on and set a great example for me.

Still, though, I am looking forward to Heaven for so many reasons, among them: "...what knitting severed friendships up/where partings are no more/ then eyes with joy shall sparkle/ that brimmed with tears of late/orphans no longer fatherless nor widows desolate.//" (~"Ten Thousand Times Ten Thousand") Beacuse it seems like no matter who I'm with, I'm missing someone so hard my heart hurts. That's just life in this fallen world, where sin and distance and the drive to take the Gospel to those who haven't heard always separate. One Day it won't, and in the meantime, Jesus offers us wholeness in Him, no matter where we are or what we don't have.

"Give me an undivided heart!" David prayed. So am I-- and please, if you pray for me, pray too!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Abby's Wake-Up Routine

I finally shot 6 mini-videos of our littlest princess of the house of Powell. :) We'll see how well they upload...

Abby, like her sister before her, is often hard to wake up for her feedings. And she often falls asleep during feedings, too. So I like to have the job of waking her up. She hates to be cold, so off come the chalupa-style blankets, and if necessary, socks and clothes. I've also found that blowing on her gets her attention without upsetting her, so that's the blowing on the tape. She makes the FUNNIEST faces while she wakes up, which is why I wanted to capture them.

This one is awesome mostly because of her mad and serious faces:

And, last in this mini-series (done in the morning), the Kung Fu routine:

She actually usually has a lot more kung-fu like moves, but at least I got the general idea on film. Who knows when her tired parents will do better...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Parenting 101?

** Update from Val 6/9/09: here's another Hannah quote, hot off the press: "I'm ready to lawn the grass" (they're going to mow) :) Oh I miss that little voice... with the dimpled smile & gleam in her eye!
Ok, not really a "Parenting Post." This will actually be a list of Hannah's cuter quotables. I'm sure we'll get more during our road trip to Woodstock (Ontario) tomorrow. Val & I are taking the kids to visit her mom for 2 days, and her sister will join us there along with HER two kids. So it'll be a mom & kid PARTAY!!

-- Combining two Scripture memory songs ("Train up a child in the way he should go," and "You knit me together in my mother's womb") into one: "Chain up a child in my mother's room..."

-- after lunch, all in one breath, "Oh, I'm still hungry...let's see, what could I have?...how about those cookies we made!?" as if THAT wasn't pre-meditated... give her a few months and she'll even have believable pauses thrown in!

-- chuckling to herself while looking at her belly, "Oh, baby June. You are kickin' me!"

-- "Mommy, did you pick up that snake we saw?" "Oh no, I would never handle a snake!" "Why not?" "Because I'm not trained as to how to do it." (totally blank look) "But, Mommy, you're potty trained!"

-- "Now I can get a hula-hoop, 'cause I've got the right hips!"

-- once again mangling a Bible-verse song: "You knit me together in my mother's room..." (hmmm...) (oh and then Chris used the actual Bible verse in his pastoral prayer in church... Val & I about lost it)

-- someone commenting on her new baby sister "Oh, she's so precious-- I could just take her home with me!" Hannah, seizing the moment; "how 'bout you take Noah?"

-- Sometimes Noah closes his eyes, which is very good when we pray.

-- as I discussed how only Jesus will make us happy after her sin (driven by an obsession with lipgloss) led to sad consequences for her: But I want to be happy in Jesus AND lipgloss! well... at least she's honest.

--looking at the cowlick at the back of Abby's head "That looks kinda like when Stuart [Little] fell into the washing machine!"

...but nothing makes me laugh quicker than the way she says "Stuart" (yes, she's able to relate most of life to that movie)... it sounds like "Sthtuart." I'm gonna get such weird looks walking around saying it to myself when I get back home, I just know it.

Really good book on parenting: Aren't They Lovely When They're Asleep?- lessons in unsentimental parenting... I really really hope they print it in the US, because I want one!! One of Chris' relatives sent this to them from the UK as a baby gift, and I've been enjoying it SO much! Shepherding Your Child's Heart is still my favorite, but it's sort of a different category. Anyway, this little book is brief, biblical, practical, balanced, and funny! Check it out!

Changing Rules

Being pregnant is such an all- encompassing... experience. It's not just like a list of symptoms; it's a whole-body overhaul that demands a matching shift in thinking, as well as changes in habits and even emotional patterns (you don't get choices about those two)! The physical changes are the most obvious-- the bigger belly, the bigger appetite, the extra fluid, and all that goes with all that... but it's such a total package deal; I had no idea before the alien started taking over MY body! Since being an expectant mommy is such a part of my life (even when I forget I'm pregnant, which does still happen often, amazingly enough), I thought I'd jot down a list of things that I've had to learn to roll with... both so I won't forget (placenta brain is REAL! I honestly have trouble stringing coherent, gramatically correct sentences together at times), and so I won't drive Chris & Val up the wall talking about it while I'm with them. :)

Rules I Never Had to Live By Before (in no particular order)
-- sleeping is something you desperately crave, and yet often proves more elusive than even in college. It's just harder to lay comfortably, and then there's the guaranteed mid-night nature call, along with the requisite snack (or else deal with the adrenaline surge and accompanying shakes of low blood-sugar)...
-- Taco Bell's 4th Meal sounds awfully piddly. Hah! It's more like 6th meal for me!
-- eating must be done s-l-o-w-l-y. I don't get a choice about taking big bites, either (if I do, it comes up... and if I eat too quickly, it's called the scarf & barf routine. lovely, huh?)
-- large portions are a must... but they often will be eaten at several sittings
-- the phrases "seismic activity" and "Richter scale" often come to mind regarding my belly, especially when I sit in a reclined position. Yesterday it was so bad that she actually gave me an upset stomach! I don't know if she was using it as a punching bag or a trampoline, but yipes, girlie, settle down!
-- nausea no longer means "drink a little water, lay down, and don't eat much until you're better." It just might mean "go eat a ton," or "get up and move" or "stop drinking water- you're too full!"
-- I can't fit in spaces I thought I could. lol this often catches me off-guard when I'm getting up from the table and I don't bother to push a chair in all the way. Suddenly, my belly's caught!
-- going from sitting to standing or vice versa requires the extensive use of quads. I never realized how much I tend to "lift with my back," or how much in debt I am to my abs, until both were rather out of comission due to the bowling ball lodged in my midsection. At least I'm getting a good leg workout, huh?
-- I will ALWAYS get something on my shirt. Often multiple things. I look down at my belly and I'm shocked... no matter how careful I try to be, it's a catchall!!
-- single-digit bedtimes are advisable
-- food choices aren't just a matter of taste-- there's the pressure of eating for a being still being formed. She is what I eat. YIKES!! And, there's the questions of acid reflux, of calories, and lactose content...
-- in thinking long-term, there's the realization that there will be another little person to consider... for the rest of our lives!!!

And to close with Hannah's quip from yesterday, as I carried her to the car. "I'm sitting on Baby Eowyn's head!" =D

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

New Pics

My Mommy's gone. :( I cried.

But I do love the rest o' the folks here!! You can see pics here. Typing while holding a baby is too slow... so, tata!! :)

P.S. Hannah at breakfast, quite matter-of-fact-ly, "So, what's Baby Eowyn doin' to you right now?" (she's also decided that SHE has a baby in her tummy; Baby June... we don't know where she got that name)