Thursday, April 29, 2010

Giant pickle mommy

After breakfast yesterday, we played with a new game. It has different colored blocks you fit into a peg board. J mostly enjoyed naming all the colors of the blocks. It seems like he knows pretty much all his basic colors now.

For devotional time today, I continued in Luke 4. Jesus continued his ministry teaching in the synagogues. He read the scroll from Isaiah and spoke of the nature of his ministry. To preach the good news to the poor: Here the poor didn't mean financially poor, but in the Greek it referred to utter helplessness, afflicted, distress. God invites us to a feast of plenty when we are in relationship with him. So often we think of our needs as temporal things, yet Jesus is offering us the deeper riches of himself. To heal the brokenhearted: Here broken would mean to break the strength or power of something. Heal would mean to cure, restore. This makes me think of the hymn "There is a Balm in Gilead", where Jesus is our balm, we go to him to be healed. That hymn has always ministered to me. It takes my memory back to being healed of my deep depression the year after my son was born. Jesus was the balm that restored my health. To proclaim freedom for prisoners, recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed. He finished the reading by saying that today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.

After J's nap, I told him he was having spaghetti for dinner. He was so hungry I asked him if he wanted to start. He said yes then was excited saying "scubiddy, scubiddy, scubiddy" his word for spaghetti. Daddy took over when he got home to relieve me for going to mom's night out with my Titus group. We had a fondue party and I made a Parmesan fondue (see recipe on my kitchen blog). The food was wonderful and we had some really good mommy conversations on all kinds of subjects. It was so nice to get a night away.

This morning after daddy left, we played outside for a bit. J took my hand and pointing down the drive said "walk?" We went on our longest walk yet without any stroller or his little car. Just both of us walking. This wasn't so good when I wanted to turn around and he got upset because he wanted to keep going. I had to pick him up and carry him which was a lot after a block or so. Soon it was time to head to the library for story time. J did join in a little bit with the singing and during the song "If you're happy and you know it" he was dancing, dancing. I was really enjoying his cuteness today. I had a good workout at the Y pushing myself to run for 20 minutes and walk for 10. Before lunch, I squeezed in a quick trip to the grocery store. When I pulled in, J says "I'm dancing" and I turn around to see him wiggling and kicking his legs to the beat. We sat there for several minutes just "dancing" in our seats. Had to capture the moment. J ate a really sparse lunch again, only eating part of a banana and yogurt. He wouldn't touch his sandwich other than to throw it on the floor. Later, I was making up songs and singing to him and then he said "worship?" so I put in our bible song CD and played it.

I can't believe the temperature was pushing 80 today. It started sunny with a breeze but then got cloudy and rained. J wanted to go to the park but I kept telling him it was raining. We went to the Christian bookstore to get a gift for my niece's first communion we're going to this weekend in the Chicago suburbs. J did pretty well listening when I'd tell him "no touch". He did so well while I browsed. He found a car book that kept him occupied. The last time we were there I kept J in a stroller. This time I didn't even bring one. He's been doing well just learning to follow me and stay fairly close.

We took our babysitter Dave out for dinner tonight. He won't accept money so we treat him to dinner instead. J was super hungry and ate well. He behaved really well too. On the way home, he started a little game with me. He had been coloring a Veggie Tales coloring book with Goliath the Giant Pickle in it. He would say giant pickle shirt or giant pickle feet, he'd add a word and then laugh. The pickle kind of scared him so I think this was his way of making it not so scary. It was so cute when he said giant pickle dave, giant pickle daddy and giant pickle mommy. When we got home, he wanted to go outside and play but it was way past his bedtime so he went night-night (as I call it). Pretty soon mommy's going night night too.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

King of the Tot Slide

I feel like I'm getting a slight cold. It started yesterday but I've been taking Cold-eeze so hopefully it won't hit fully. Since I was worn out last night, I was wondering how I'd feel today and I'm not too bad. I think the drops are working. Since I was feeling well, we went to PalZone and had some fun play time. It's neat, now that I've been going there for a while I'm talking with more of the mothers. J did extremely well today which is an answer to prayer. There was only one time I had to remind him about sharing. He was also good at story time and putting his name on the board. We made a mask together after reading Where the Wild Things Are. We stopped at a garage sale and I added to J's ball collection with two small ones at $1 each.

When we got home, we played outside for a bit and then ate. We had a play date at the park after lunch. My friend from our mom's group lives literally two minutes away so we met at the park and J played with her daughter on the jungle gym. He still wants me to go down the big slide with him, but he took a big step on the tot slide today. He went from needing to hold my hands at first to then going on his tummy and finally went face forward with no hands all by himself. It was neat to see him face his fear and overcome it. On the way home, we found a bunch of balls someone was giving away so we played with those for a time.

In my devotional time today I finished Luke 3 and started Luke 4. Jesus begins his ministry and news about him spread throughout the countryside. Jesus fasts for 40 days in the desert and is tempted by Satan. He resisted the temptations by quoting scripture. Beth shares that the temptations were an assault on his messiahship. The thing I'm being tempted with right now is food. I seem to crave dessert after every meal. Lunch right now is when I'm having dessert (a drumstick) but yesterday since I shared one with J, I went and had another one. Ugh. It seems to nullify my workouts. I'm not gaining, but I'm just not losing. A friend mentioned her success with Weight Watchers and I may join her at a meeting to check it out. What I'm doing right now isn't bringing results so we'll see.

J woke up from his nap in a bad mood. That's unusual for him. This was one of those days where he didn't get a morning nap. In fact, this afternoon he came up to me saying "sleep Mommy?" and walked to the stairs telling me he was ready for a nap. So I think this is fallout, not getting the full 2 naps. He had fun at the Y though. He and his little friend Minesh had the place to themselves. The gal said the two of them play really well together. He even wanted to play outside when we got home and hard to believe but at 8:30 there was still a bit of light so he and daddy kicked around a soccer ball. Then it was time for sleep. We were rehearsing the day and when I got to the part about doing the slide all by himself, he said "again" meaning he wanted me to tell him that part again. He had me repeat it like 3 times and each time had a big grin like so proud of himself.

I'm really looking forward to tomorrow. My women's bible study is having a luncheon since we're in between books right now and then I have Mom's Night Out with my Titus mom's group. We're having fondue and I'll be making a cheese dish. Should be fun. I feel really blessed by how God is growing these relationships with the moms I've been meeting. At some points, I was getting frustrated because it seemed really hard to develop relationships but the Lord kept reminding me that something of value takes time and work to grow. Since I'm a stay at home mom these relationships are very important. So tomorrow should be fun.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Firemen at the Park

I read the first part of Luke 3 for my devotional time today. It says that in that year, the word of God came to John, son of Zechariah, and he went out to encourage others to prepare the way for the Lord (verse 3:3) preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Beth shares that daily repentance/confession is like refreshment for our souls. We come away cleansed and ready to be filled. Beth asks if we are preparing the way for the Lord's work in our lives. That's a good question. This had me examine and ask if I am spending good quality time with him, spending time in prayer and worship; seeking direction and guidance from him. I think these help prepare the way for his work in our lives. Some of the people are asking John what they should do and he says that (verse 3:11) the man who has 2 tunics should share with him who has none. This made me ask myself how am I doing that, how are we helping the poor? I have the desire to, but haven't made it my priority! I think it was last month when I was thinking about all the possessions I have and wanting to sift through them to share with those in need. I still want to do this. The people were wondering if John was the Christ and he told them in verse 16 that one more powerful than he will come...who will baptize them with the Holy Spirit and with fire. Jesus was baptized by John who was very humbled to do so. Then you heard the voice of God saying in verse 22 "You are my son, whom I love; with you I am well-pleased."

It was a beautiful day again today. Not as warm as yesterday, but bright and sunny. After lunch, we had some time playing outside. Then for my gardening project I wanted to pick up some mulch which they have at Elver Park near our home. We picked a great day for this project since the firemen were there with 3 trucks practicing using the hoses and driving and backing into tight places. We watched them for awhile which J enjoyed. I got my mulch and then we played on the jungle gym for a while. Before we left, we stopped by the fire truck so J could get a closer look. Several firemen were standing near the truck putting away hoses. J pointed and said hose, fire truck. One of the firemen asked if J would like to sit inside - would he??!! So he had me sit in the driver's seat and he handed me J. He was thrilled wanting to put on a helmet and press the buttons but we told him no buttons. We have quite a story for daddy tonight! Meeting Engine 12. On the way home in the car, we were listening to the oldies station. A song came on and J says "Elvis!" Believe it or not, the song was one by Elvis. I know he's heard him before but I didn't know he could pick out his voice. Maybe we have a little Elvis fan.

This afternoon, J only took a 1 hour nap so he had to join me in my chores. He did really well playing by himself while I put away the laundry and fixed dinner. I tried to teach him matching his socks but he didn't quite get "same" and "different". J really liked the alfredo chicken with broccoli that we had for dinner. God has been answering prayer in that meal times have been going better the last few days. We've actually had a couple days with no meal melt downs. Thank you Lord! Tonight we spent the evening with our life group. It's just 3 couples for now. We were discussing the sermon of Revelation 2:1-7 where the church in Ephesus was doing all kinds of things right yet they had "forsaken their first love". We had a pretty good discussion.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Gardening is rejuvenating

This morning I heard L get up before 6am. When J and I got up around 7:30 we came downstairs and J said, "Daddy?" Then he ran around the corner and said, "Daddy!" I thought he found daddy but he wasn't there. It was so quiet. Then it dawned on me he was getting together with a friend this morning who may be helping him with guitar. J is still enjoying his newish cars and trucks. It's funny, he likes "driving them" on me while I'm sitting on the couch going down the shoulder, over the legs, down the legs, etc. I'm really glad that he continues to love books.

In my devotional time today, I read Luke 2:51-52. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. Growing in wisdom here, Beth says, would be sound judgment and good sense plus a deeper understanding of the divine. She says it is wisdom that is very practical as well as deeply spiritual. Growing in stature would be physically as well as mentally. He also grew in favor with God and men. In the Greek, favor means something which causes joy; gratification. So Jesus' relationship with God was one which brought joy and was very satisfying. The relationship between God the Father and God the Son equals no other. Just thinking about that, I would say I'm enjoying my relationship with God right now. I still want to go deeper and have days where I may feel a little disconnected from him. I'm in a post-depression season since my depression lifting/healing was last fall so almost 6 months. I continue to thank the Lord since I am in such a different place spiritually. I went from feeling condemned (like I was a phony Christian and really doomed to hell) to living in God's truth that I have a relationship with him that is eternal and is the core of my being. Jesus growing in favor towards men is more like the meaning of being someone's favorite. His character endeared men to him.

J did really well at lunch today, that was a gift. After lunch, it was so beautiful outside so we enjoyed the day. I brought his cars, dump truck, digger and he played while I cleaned the patio. Then we fed the birds together and set out peanuts for the critters. I needed to do some weeding of an area that lines our front walk so I gave J a baby rake and shovel while I had the real ones and we went to work. J was soon bored of that so he just hung out playing with his cars and saying hi to the neighbors. While he napped, I finished the rest of the weeding project. I have a row of hostas alternating with a flowering perennial (Beacon Silver) that I planted a few years ago but the grass and dandelions were taking over. It was so good to dig in the dirt again. The sun was so warm but not too hot since there was a nice breeze. Even though it's a physical activity, it really helps me relax and feel refreshed.

We have an easy dinner on nights we go to the Y and tonight I made an Arby's recipe. It was really good. Toasted bread with margarine and thousand island dressing with lettuce, tomato, Swiss cheese and roast beef. We had that with a fruit salad. Yum! I didn't get a full 30 minute workout since we got there a little late. It was close though at 25. J and I watched the adult ballet class as we waited for L. At bedtime, again I took a few moments just to cradle J in my arms, rocking him and enjoying him as he lay there contentedly. It was so peaceful.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

May God's grace be upon us

We had another lazy morning, this time not getting up until almost 8am. After breakfast, I asked if J wanted to play with our art stuff downstairs since it had been a while. He dropped what he was doing to come. We started out with some coloring. I was showing J how to trace his hand and decorate it but he wanted to scribble instead. He also liked playing with some Sesame Street stickers and "pancake playdoh" he calls it. I went in the laundry room for a minute and he came in too. He'd open the washer door, talk a little bit, then close it and walk out. Then he'd come back and do it again. I asked him what he was doing and he said "J's clothes wash". Cute.

In my devotional time, I continued on in Luke 2. It says that Jesus grew; he became strong, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. I wonder what it means to have the grace of God upon you? To take that a little deeper, I started with Google putting in that exact phrase and came up with 131,000 responses! One of the sights I found shared that there are two sides of the coin to grace. On the one side is grace which means unmerited favor, compassion. This is the grace that we are saved by. The other side of grace is the divine power and ability God imparts to us to operate in what the Lord has given us to do. It's the second definition that fits the verse above. How God was equipping Jesus for the work he had for him to do. I've not really thought of grace in that way before, so that helps. Joseph and Mary took Jesus (now 12 years old) to the Festival of the Passover in Jerusalem. When Mary and Joseph left, Jesus stayed behind. It took his parents 3 days, but they finally found him in the temple. Jesus was talking with the elders who were amazed at his understanding. When questioned by his parents, Jesus was taken aback asking why they were searching for him, don't they know he had to be about his Father's house (business)? Here we actually see some of the work that God had equipped him to do, even at the age of 12.

We're starting a new book in my women's study called Is This All There is to Life by Ray Stedman. This study is on the book of Ecclesiastes. I've wanted to study this book of the bible for awhile. It's L's favorite plus it's intriguing because we all search for meaning in our lives. Ray says the book asks the question, "Is there a key to continual delight and joy in our lives?" It'll be neat to find out if the book answers that question!

We had a guest speaker at our church today who spoke on Revelation 2:1-7. He used the church in Ephesus "forsaking their first love" as a way to warn us of the temptation we have as Christ followers to get to a point in our faith where we feel pretty good about ourselves and how much we know. That we can fall into being arrogant, forgetting our first love and begin looking down on others. He spoke about agape love which we find defined in 1 Corinthians 13. This is how God loves us and calls us to love others. This was good to think about.

J did pretty well at dinner tonight. We went out after church with our friends to McD's. I brought food for J from home and stayed away from fries. I realize if I get them, that's the only thing he will eat. We played some puzzles and daddy played his guitar and then it was J's bedtime. Tonight, after bedtime prep, singing over J and saying prayers I just rocked him and held him in my arms with my eyes closed. For those few moments, I just quieted myself and soaked in the love a mother has for her child; experiencing the blessing that this little one is.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

A low-key Saturday

We had a little extra snooze time this morning while J slept a bit later. He could barely wait for me to make the pancakes he was so hungry, so he sampled the batter. L and I read him a few books after breakfast and then he wanted Veggie Tales for a bit.

This morning I continued in Luke 2. Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple to present him to the Lord. There we meet Simeon, a righteous and devout man. The Lord revealed to him that he would not die before he had seen Christ. When Simeon sees the baby Jesus, he took him in his arms and praised God. The Lord fulfilled his promise. Luke also speaks of a woman named Anna who never left the temple but worshiped there day and night. She came up to Jesus and gave thanks to God speaking about him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Israel. We see here the Lord revealing himself to people devoted to him (Anna and Simeon). Beth reflects how God constantly reveals himself to us and we, through devotional time, prayer, waiting and observing will see more and more of him.

This afternoon, J wanted waffles for lunch. We went round and round with all the other options and the only thing he'd eat was waffles. Then he asked for yogurt so I gave him that too. He ended up playing with the waffles and eating 2 yogurts and refusing anything else. Not a good meal. After lunch, we headed to the library to return some things. I ended up finding a cute dinosaur book for J which is one of the things he's into right now (in addition to fire trucks, construction equipment, Thomas the train, Sesame Street, hotwheels cars, Little People).

J's been having a good time playing with the new toys I got from the garage sales and secondhand store. He loves anything that has sound and lights. Most of them aren't too bad noise-wise. The Caterpillar digger though is a bit obnoxious so I'll have to put duct tape over the little speaker. He continues to love "reading" through books. He'll place the book on the couch and stand there turning pages and "reading" them.

Well, we had another exciting Saturday night. We did quick and easy dinner and J ate so well. He more than made up for the yogurt lunch. I gave him a plain cheese quesedilla and I put sour cream with salsa on mine. He asked to try mine (saying J try?) and he really liked it so I put some on his; a lot messier but added dairy and veggies to the meal. After dinner, we picked up groceries for the week. I still plan the coming week's menu so I have everything I need and it gives me piece of mind to not have to plan meals each night. When we got home, J was playing with his trucks and so I told him I was missing my little helper. I asked if he wanted to help and he came right away to help me with the rest of the groceries. We name all the foods as we put them away. Finally, it was time for our bedtime routine and now I have a little free time for my Saturday night.

Oh, I almost forgot. I want to keep writing about my eating program since I need accountability. Neither yesterday or today were "perfect" days, I had sweet snacks both days. When I dropped off the meal the other night, the mom gave me a huge chocolate bar so I've had that as a snack both days. It's not gone yet but close to it. Temptation is so hard since chocolate is really my favorite. Then I was really hungry tonight but had some strawberries which were really good. I have to remember I can snack on fruits and veggies, just not anything else.

Last thing, my camera broke yesterday so for a while I won't have a good photo to match up with the day. I'll be pulling in some old ones instead or finding pics from the internet.

Friday, April 23, 2010

A full day with the mom's group

Yesterday, J turned 23 months old. It is hard to believe in 1 month he'll be two!! He has grown and changed so much since he was a little baby. Lately, I've been revisiting in my mind how far the Lord has brought me in parenting. While going through my long span of anxiety/depression, just going across town or going somewhere to do shopping was almost overwhelming. It was like my brain just wouldn't work right (especially for directions) and the anxiety about all these new responsibilities and learning a different way of doing life was just confounding. Each time I have these memories I praise God for being healthy, so thankful for being healthy.

In the morning, we went to our Titus play group. It was the last one of the spring session. Over the summer, we won't have play group as often but it'll be at the park which will be fun. There was a great turn out so there was a huge variety of toys. I think that's why J only came up to me once saying "mommy play?" and taking my hand. He had lots to do and enjoyed himself with only a couple run ins with other kids. I was very disheartened when I found out he hit a little girl. One of the others moms was giving me reassurance as she's struggling with that too with her daughter and in her older daughter she's seen it pass. I just keep teaching him that hitting is not okay and not allowed. Afterward, several of us went out for lunch and went to McDonalds so the kids could play. After some play, we went to some local garage sales. I was able to find some good things for J at small prices. I was having so much fun that I didn't realize I'd completely missed my women's bible study and my babysitter until I was almost home. I caught up with my babysitter to apologize and will take her to lunch next week! Although I really enjoy the study, I wouldn't have traded the time with the moms. This was the reason I joined the Titus group, to befriend other moms and be able to do fun things with our children together.

In my devotional time, I read the last part of Luke 1. Elizabeth gives birth to John. As the baby was being named, Zechariah got his speech back and what's so encouraging is that he immediately began to speak praising God. That reminds me of David. Didn't lose an opportunity to thank the Lord. Neighbors and relatives were filled with awe about this special child. In Zechariah's song, he shares that his child will be a prophet. Zechariah shares God enacted this intricate plan because of his tender mercy. Beth Moore asks us to meditate on that and it warms my heart to do so. Just remembering things I've done that I've been forgiven for, how much he's healed me of; knowing he has compassion on me even when I've slipped and he forgives me is remarkable to me. What grace, what a gift. He also shares that John has been set apart since birth and God prepares him until he grew up and came into his power. Beth likens this to us as we also are set apart once we are spiritually reborn. We're prepared and equipped for what the Lord has for us to do.

We worked out again since we missed Monday (at the hymn sing). I've been sticking with the same workout. Since I love to read, I've been squeezing in some reading time during my workout. I am reading The Pastor's Wife about Sabina Wurmbrand. She and her husband started the organization the Voice of the Martyrs. It chronicles her life and time spent in prison during communism and World War II in Romania. Even though some of it is hard to read about, it is amazing to see this woman imprisoned for her faith yet continue to share, pray and sing of her love for the Lord. I can't even imagine it, but it is encouraging. This was also a day where I completely followed our eating program. Balanced meals, no snacks and nothing after 7pm.

I gave J a bath when we got home, then I dropped by the apartment of a mom in our group who just had a baby to give them a meal. They invited me in and we had a really nice time getting to know one another better. Their baby is so tiny. I just loved her little tiny feet! And to think J was once that size, since he was born at 6 pounds. Wow. Just precious.

This morning, we read a few of the new books L's coworker gave us for J. I read an animal counting book and after we were done, J picked it up and went through it by himself pointing to all the animals like I did and "counting" them with his few numbers he knows. Then we had toddler time at the library. I noticed J participated more in the songs and finger play. So cute as he "wagged his tail" and danced. We went to the Y and I got in my 3rd workout of the week. The running part was really hard. I couldn't stop watching the clock, but it was a good hard like I knew I was getting a good workout. It wasn't the greatest weather, but it was almost no-jacket and hazy/cloudy. Since it will probably rain this weekend, I picked up a sub so J and I could have a little picnic and play time at McKee Farms. J was pretty independent today running all over the place and climbing. We worked on counting today every time we walked up stairs. It's so cute to hear him mix up his numbers. He waved his hand and made contact with a couple girls. I couldn't tell if it was aggressive or playful, but either way I prefer he not do it and told him so.

I started Luke 2 today which tells of the birth of Jesus. It's interesting that the first ones to hear the news about the birth were the shepherds. It seems that God enjoyed revealing himself to common people. The shepherds spread the news and all who heard it were amazed, Luke 2:19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.

We had a challenging time with J at dinner tonight. Instead of what I made, he wanted yogurt and I told him he could have yogurt after eating some of the meal first. He wouldn't let up. Finally, after he was crying and crying L took him up to his crib so he could calm down. After, he still wanted yogurt first so this time I let him have some and then he ate the meal. After dinner, he asked for "Y tales" which I've figured out means Veggie Tales. So we watched a part of an episode on God Made You Special. Since L put J to bed tonight, I have a little more time to unwind which is nice.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

J's first time swimming

This morning was J's first time swimming! Our mom's group was having swim time for the kids at a place called Swim West which is 2 minutes from our house. I had no idea how he would do. We got all changed and went to the swim area and J was going ahead of me. There were balls floating in the water and he wanted to get them. He was just about to step into the water and stopped to look at me, a little unsure. I picked him up and we headed in. He did great! It was an answer to prayer. I was amazed at how well he did. He enjoyed it. The water was really warm. He really liked getting the floating balls and throwing them around. He also liked splashing and kicking while I held him. He even got his face wet.

This week for our women's bible study we're doing a chapter on the bride of Christ. I finished most of it today. Some of my favorite parts of this study:
John 14:3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. This verse is so comforting. That even now, the Lord is preparing a place for us with him in eternity.
1John 3:1-3 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! With this verse, I thank the Lord that he calls us his own children. What a picture, that he lavishes his great love upon us. I have to let that sink in.
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her Another reminder of his love. A love that brought him to the cross.

After splitting a cheese quesadilla for lunch, we went to McKee Farms for some time outdoors. The weather again has been great. We didn't need our coats since we were in the sun. I got some good pictures of J climbing the kids structure. Today he was really into the tot slide. He went with me holding his hands (it was a short slide). He was up and down the slide several times. Maybe soon he'll feel okay going on his own. A boy came up near him and J was reaching out his hands toward his face. I let him know not to do that. Later, he was going through a little tunnel and a girl came up behind him. He reached back and gave her a slap on her face. I was shocked! So was the girl. J wouldn't say he was sorry, he just sniffled. I apologized to the little girl and told J park time was over. I had a one-sided conversation going about this for a while telling him this was not nice and he may not hit people. Once we got home, he said something about little girl and hit and nose. Then he said sorry. I'm not sure if he really knew what he did was wrong, but I hope so.

Today in "Jesus, the One and Only", we continued reading Luke 1. Beth asks the question, "What does a young girl do after (being visited by an angel) receiving such incredible news?" Mary went on a trip to see her cousin Elizabeth (mother of John). How kind of God to provide someone to share her joy. How wonderful it is to have another woman to confide in like Mary has in Elizabeth. We long to find someone who's gone down the same road we have. Beth shares that we see Mary's love of scripture in Mary's song (verses 46-56). It reflects 12 different Old Testament passages.

After dinner, we went to the Y and I had to push myself on the running part of my workout (15min running, 15min walking) but it felt good. I was humbled today as I realized I am really weak in willpower in my eating healthy program. Before dinner, I had 2 separate sweet snacks when I'm not supposed to have any. I look back like, what was I thinking? I already had 1 snack, why did I go get another? Ahhhhhh. Frustrating. But confessing this in the blog is strengthening me since I need to stay on track. I am carrying around what's probably close to one of those 40 pound bags of rock salt! I'm feeling it a bit in my knees. I've got to listen to my body telling me enough is enough. Help me Lord!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Morning at the park

This morning, J started asking for his coat before daddy left. He wanted to go outside. He wanted to bring his fire truck and asked me to bring his hot wheel cars (we have a case). Once daddy left, we headed outside to play. It wasn't long before J was asking to walk and this time I asked if he wanted to go in his car. That way mommy can get a little exercise. He let me put him in and we headed down the sidewalk. A few minutes later, he was crying and wanting out. I had been craving some prayer walk time with God which helps rejuvenate me so I said a prayer that J would calm down and enjoy the walk. God answered and J started humming and chatting to himself so I could continue my prayer walk. After a while he started saying "park? park?" and I thought that'd be a fine idea so we went. It was about 9:15 and we ended up being there until 10am and having the park to ourselves. We went on the big swings, the little swings, climbed on the jungle gym and went down the slide. He still wants to slide down on my lap and not on his own. He's only gone down alone a couple times. We got warm so we were able to take our coats off. The morning air was so refreshing. I think it's going to be another beautiful day.

Today I was in the second part of Luke 1 where in the sixth month of Zechariah's wife Elizabeth's pregnancy, the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary. On a side note, before the angel spoke to Mary (and Zechariah), it had been 400 years since God had brought about a heavenly visitation. Who would've thought he'd transmit such wondrous news to a 13/14 year old girl. This was the news that she would give birth to a son - the Son of God and name him Jesus (savior). The angel told her not to worry, that she had found favor with God. Could this young girl have imagined what was going to happen? That she would give birth to the savior of the world? Her surrendered heart is beautiful as she answers the angel saying "I am the Lord's servant."

We had a nice lunch at Arby's today. I don't often go out so I brought J's lunch and bought a sandwich before our shopping expo. We went to Savers which is one of the main places I shop besides Target or online. Savers is a secondhand store which has things in incredibly good condition for very cheap. I found J a Caterpillar digger with lights and sounds and a fire engine with the same. I was on the hunt for a couple summer tops and jeans I thought J's new toys would keep him busy but he was whiny from the beginning. I just had to grin and bare it since this is something I do about once every six months, update the wardrobe. After an hour and a half (whoa) I finally had what I wanted. We got home and put batteries in the toys and J loved it with sound and then he went for a nap.

I have to confess that I've not being doing good on my eating program. L and I have been trying to lose weight by changing our habits. We started 3 or 4 weeks ago by eating 4 meals a day with no snacking in between (unless fruit or veggies) and no eating after 7pm. I think I need to change it to 3 meals a day. Anyways, I haven't been following that very well lately. I found these cute little ice creams with about 200 calories and had one last night before bed. I also snacked before dinner yesterday because I just couldn't wait. After realizing how much I've gained since fall and having to go up a couple sizes in clothes, today was like a wake up call in the fitting room. I have to surrender this to God and let it be okay to feel hungry and be willing to do the work I need to for my body to slim down.

J had so much fun tonight playing with his new firetruck and digger. He was a little afraid about pressing the buttons so he had me doing it. (He'd say, mommy press?). Our small group tonight was fairly small. Usually we have 5 couples coming but tonight there were 3 couples. This ended up being good for having more open sharing as we discussed the sermon. A really good question we had was about sharing our faith; are we sharing freely or holding back and why. The common thread for us seems to be context; it really depends upon where you are and to whom you're speaking. We were able to share some neat times that God has opened doors for us to do this.

Tomorrow is a big day. I will be taking J for his first time swimming. He will start swimming lessons on Saturday at the Y so I'm taking him to a swim place tomorrow to have an informal time of getting used to the water before we start the formal class. I'm hoping he loves it of course, but we'll have to see how he does. Another mom from my mom's group is coming with her daughter who has never been either. It should be an adventure. So now's a good time to get our stuff ready so I'm not running around tomorrow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Then sings my soul

After daddy left for work, J wanted to go outside. I thought we'd hang out and play but he grabbed my hand and said "walk mommy" so I followed. This was new. He took me down to our mailbox area and liked going up and down the curb practicing his stepping up. Then we went past our place so we could go by the pond. Our timing was good, since we were able to see a muskrat swimming nearby.

I started a new Beth Moore study today called "Jesus, the One and Only". Again, I like the format where she'll pick a book of the bible and then in each chapter of her book, she'll do one chapter from that bible book. Like today we started in Luke 1. In the introduction of her book she shares a powerful promise, that we will never spend time more invaluably than in the pursuit of knowing Christ Jesus. Amen to that! She says, let's fall in love with Jesus all over again. A good prelude. In Luke 1, it starts with Zechariah the priest in the temple and an angel appears to tell him that his wife will bear a son, that their prayer had been heard. This day was his turn to burn the incense in the temple which is a task a priest gets to do only once in his lifetime. Because he was incredulous about this asking "how can this be" the angel said because he did not believe, "now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens." Beth asks, "Do you have a long-standing prayer request?" God waits for the perfect timing. He is faithful and enjoyable even when a request goes unmet. That one can be a struggle for me. I continue to wrestle with impatience when there's something I pray that isn't coming to pass. It seems like I'll break through and start accepting it, and then I'll get impatient and struggle all over again. I'm learning to enjoy him with my unmet requests.

We met my friends and her 3 kids at the park today for a picnic lunch and play time. I thought it would feel cold, but it was actually comfortable without a coat. Nice and sunny. J was done eating before me so I sent him off with the kids to play (with a little coaxing). He wanted mommy to play with him but mommy and Tina wanted some time to chat. I had to ask my friend's opinion about bringing J to a hymn sing tonight at our church. I was getting a sitter but then realized in my heart I really wanted him to go, I just wasn't sure what to expect. She went to these as a kid and said they're usually family friendly. I think it'd be good to bring him. J was having fun on the swing and then the jungle gym. We joined the kids and spent a good part of the time on the little step bridge of which J started off being afraid. He would go across the bridge if I would hold both his hands walking beside him, then he would let the kids take him across, then he even got the courage to go on his own while holding the railing. There was a little boy who came with his mom and J started following him around. I think he scared him a bit. He said "hold hands?" to the boy who it turns out was only 14 mos old (but almost as tall as J) so he didn't understand. J is not shy. Afterward when I was getting him out of the car, he started a little word game. He wanted me to repeat what he said so he went through all sorts of words (blankie, nuk, teddy graham, hat...) and I'd repeat it back to him. Cute!

After the park, on a whim I decided to stop by the pet store to pick up a new goldfish. Turns out there was something else beckoning me instead of a fish. We visited the adoptable cats and fell in love with a cat named Luther. Well, I did at least, I'm not sure about J. Luther is a gray and whitish/tan tabby who is the most laid back cat. When they brought him out, J got down on all fours to see him and Luther came up and sniffed J's face. He was so mellow! I'm not sure if L is on board with this but we'll be near the pet store tonight so we can stop in and check him out.

We went to the hymn sing with J and he did so well, it really was a blessing. We met my friend and her husband and son and sat in the back. J just sat pleasantly on my lap taking it all in. There was a really good crowd. It was wonderful to sing the old hymns. Toward the end, J wanted to color so I brought out the little activity book. The best part was singing How Great Thou Art. It is such a beautiful hymn (we had it at our wedding) and being a nature/outdoors person it really speaks to me. Here's a snippet: When through the woods And forest glades I wander I hear the birds Sing sweetly in the trees...Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art! How great Thou art! Tonight I think I learned what "then sings my soul" feels like. For those few minutes we sang, my soul felt this sweet freedom as the words resonated within my heart.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Marriage as ministry

On Saturday morning, we were going to go to the Farmer's Market which is held at the capitol square in Madison. It was the first one of the season. It was also the day of the Spring Badger football game so we decided parking would be too nuts and we'll take a raincheck. Instead, we planned for breakfast at Einstein's bagels and then a walk in the UW Arboretum. We hit the bagel shop and had my old standby the turkey sausage bagel with egg and neighborhood blend coffee. It was like a trip down memory lane. Back in our no-child days, we used to hang out several mornings a week at Einstein's with our coffee and bagel sandwiches and have our devotional time together. That's when he was working 2nd shift and I started around 10:30am while I was still working. What a different season of life! Anyhow, we didn't make it to the Arboretum since we really wanted to make sure J got a nap in before we headed out to our friend's place in the afternoon. He's been having too many meltdowns if he doesn't get that second nap.

After lunch, we headed to Black Earth where the town was having a weekend of garage sales. Our friend has 8 kids and her husband was taking 3 of them to the Badger game so we came to help with the garage sale. It was great catching up with her. We used to go to church together until we left that church around 2006. The kids had an even greater time playing in the yard and with all the riding toys. Daddy and J played some kiddie basketball. He just loves basketball. It was cute watching him try to throw the ball high. Later at home while J napped, I made a dessert for a BBQ our friends from our small group were having. It was a sunny day but the breeze made it feel cooler in the 50's. J had the most fun playing with all the balls they had (tennis, golf, basketball, soccer). He was in ball heaven. Our friends from the small group got to spend time playing with him too. That was nice. I had fun trying to teach the kids to whistle through an acorn top, which was something I learned as a kid. Their son was able to do it but the girls will have to keep trying. You have to have your thumbs in just the right V shape. After dinner, we all sat in front of a warm fire and talked and played Pictionary. It was a late one for J.

This morning was a nice and lazy morning since there was no peep from J until after 8am. While he napped, my intent was to have a devotional time but I couldn't keep my eyes open. These last few nights I was up late. Friday night I was making J's birthday invitations online until 1am and then last night it was 12:30pm. I really have to be more disciplined about going to bed before 11pm. Otherwise, I can't make it all day!

We packed a nice lunch again and had a nice afternoon at the UW Terrace. I had to feed J before we left though since he was too hungry. A couple ducks were hanging around so I let J throw them some bread. They were less than a foot away! I wish I had my camera. J and I took a nice long walk along the lake shore and it was so nice. A highlight was J wanting to go up and down the stairs several times with me holding his hand and him standing up (usually he'd crawl up stairs). He didn't want to go back to our table so it took a lot of coaxing.

We had church and then grabbed a bite for dinner with our friends and their kids. Their girls are so good with J. They pick him up, follow him around and are so gentle with him. He loves all the attention I'm sure. After that, we had groceries to do and it was time for J to go to bed. No bath night since it got too late. That'll have to be tomorrow. J had a lot of crying out of the blue today. He had a good morning nap but because of church he didn't get the afternoon one. He usually has a longer no-whine threshold, but not today.

After putting J to bed, I still had a lot of little things to do around the house. I had a kind of grumbly spirit too. And I grumbled to hubby (L) about a few different things that were annoying me. Then I had this thought come into my head, do you see how selfish you are? Most of what I was grumbling about were things that inconvenience me and aren't the way I like them. I had to ask myself, are those things really worth making a deal about? I said to myself, what happened to picking your battles? One of the things it made me think back to was when L and I talked about looking at our marriage as ministry. At times that's like oil and water! Yet it was such a good reminder to me that what I'm striving for is to respect and honor him and be a blessing to him and not the opposite. A good thought to sleep on.

Friday, April 16, 2010

A passion for gardening

Every day I keep a little notebook where I jot down specific notes on what I'd like to put into the blog for that day. It helps me capture the details that I'd otherwise forget. Well, yesterday and today I took NO notes!!! I guess I'm a slacker! It's been a busy couple days and maybe that's why .... anyhow I'll do my best to recreate the highlights.

Yesterday was my Titus mom's group. It was very cool. We had 3 speakers all covering the subject of things to do with your kids that build character and faith. Two of the three mom's are on staff at our church for the Early Childhood Ministry. They were able to share many things which were helpful and some were things I'm doing which was good reinforcement. One of the most basic ideas is just letting your relationship with the Lord flow in front of your child. Things like praising God for a rainbow or a beautiful day you're enjoying. Thanking God out loud for something nice someone just did for you. Praying aloud for something you are struggling with (which your child has most likely picked up on). Some other ideas were creating faith traditions, using music, kids devotional books and serving with your kids.

We had some play time outside since it was another warm and beautiful day. It was supposed to rain but instead we had brilliant sunshine. After lunch, it was time for our sitter Dave to take over for me and I went to our women's bible study. It was good to get out and have fellowship time with the women in my study. The study itself was good too. I never did such an in-depth study of Mary before. We also took time to pray together which always ministers to me.

When I got home I could tell they had a good time by the amount of toys and books that were scattered around the living room. Then I took Julian on a field trip to our local garden center. To digress a bit, the other day I was out on our patio relaxing and drinking a homemade smoothie in the sun while Julian was napping. It was so nice and I realized it was the first time in a long time I was able to just sit and not have to do anything. But then my mind started going and I was studying my garden to see if there was anything I should add and I decided some creeping phlox for the rock wall would be great. So back to the field trip. We had to stop at two places to get the phlox colors I wanted. Then I ended up picking up the most beautiful flowering plant I think I've ever seen, a purple Columbine. I hemmed and hawed about it because I couldn't picture where I would put it, but it was just so beautiful I couldn't pass it up. Well, when I got home and was looking for a place it dawned on me that the garden is where I buried my cat Rio and the Columbine would be perfect right in that place. I felt like God led me to that plant and He knew the reason why. I was able to get everything planted while Julian was taking his nap. It hit me that I haven't done any gardening since 2007. For the last 10+ years, I've planted some type of garden. It's a way for me to feel close to God. I feel like I get to take part in creation; planting something, watering it and then seeing what God brings to life. I just love digging in the dirt. I got pregnant at the end of 2007 and then in 2008 went through an incredibly long depression. It is so good to get back to it. It was a reminder of God's healing how great it felt gardening and just having the desire to do it again. We have such a tiny yard here at our condo/townhouse but I've been able to do a lot with the space. In addition to the perennials I already have, I'm planting some herbs and in May some tomatoes. Nothing huge, but it'll be fun to get Julian involved. We went to the Y tonight since we usually go Wednesdays but were out to dinner. I continue to stick with the treadmill, walking and jogging mix.

This morning we went to the library for story time where we sang a few songs and they read a few stories to the kids. While we were doing the craft, I ran into a woman I had seen often at our church. Her son is just a few weeks older than Julian. We had a nice conversation and it turns out she's been looking for other groups and may join me at the play group we go to called Pal Zone. That would be fun. After that, we went to the Y so I could get in my 3rd workout which makes this the 2nd week of doing that. Again, I ran into someone I knew. This was a woman who volunteers at our church whose daughter was taking a ballet class at the Y. I had to thank the Lord since I've been desiring for so long to have connections to other moms in the community and I'm seeing how God has answered that prayer.

After lunch, we headed out on a couple errands and one was the grocery store. This was so cute. He was asking to get out of the cart so to keep him with me I asked for his help pushing it. He'd get behind it and push with me and then stop and help me when I was picking something out. He did stray a little at the end while we were checking out so he went back in the cart.

I was able to find a website where I create an Elmo invitation with Julian's pictures on it for his birthday celebration. I'm so glad my sister gave me this idea so I don't have to hand write over 30 invites. They'll print them and I can pick them up at Walgreens. Julian and I headed over there after dinner to pick them up. Before we went in Julian said "Julian walk". He wanted to walk instead of being in the cart so I thought I'd give it a try as I'd done earlier in the day. He ended up doing pretty well staying nearby and listening when I'd tell him he couldn't pick something up. We found a cool pair of sunglasses for him which I've been wanting to get. He always wants to wear mine and often in the backseat he'll have the sun in his eyes. When we got home, he was asking to go outside. It was getting dark and I was going to say no when he said "stars?" He remembered watching the stars the other night so I wanted to encourage that. Right away, he was saying "moon" and pointing to it and I pointed out the few stars that were coming out. It was a little cool, but a very clear night sky. This was daddy's night to put him to bed so after I gave him some goodnight kisses, daddy took over.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Perfect day for the zoo

Yesterday I didn't get my devotional time off the ground. I felt like I slept okay, but for whatever reason, maybe I was really comfortable on the couch or something but I could not stay awake. I kept reading the verse over and over but couldn't focus on the study. I was able to pray a little bit.

I spent a lot of the day planning out my son's birthday celebration. We are going to have a dedication at our church in the morning and then a birthday picnic afterward. I decided on an Elmo theme since that was the first character he chose as a favorite. We went to the store and picked up invitations and all the place setting items too. We'll see if I end up with enough. Then I sent out a "save the date" invitation by email. I'm really looking forward to celebrating with our family and friends.

Since Julian kept asking for "King Farms" which is McKee Farms, one of the parks we go to, we spent some time hanging out there on the play structures. I heard someone call my name and was pleasantly surprised to see a friend I know from my mom's group. It was great timing. There were several friendly moms today making conversation about our kids. Then we had to leave since it was time for his nap.

We had a little time after dinner to play before my husband and I headed out to our life group. Dad was playing the guitar and Julian was dancing with our babysitter. During our small group time, one of our questions related to the sermon was about what ways you have found to grow in your pursuit of God. There was a lot of good sharing and I shared for me it's in having some basic time alone with the Lord every day. We were all sharing how challenging it is to have time to balance everything and you have to really fight (yourself and your circumstances) to get that time every day. But the rewards are so great. Instead of doing something just to put a check mark on your to do list, it creates in you a deeper relationship with God so you crave those times together. I liken it to our need for daily spiritual food which I think is just as great as our need for real food. We ended up getting home so late there was no time to do a blog post.

This morning, Julian seemed a bit punchy. Like he had a bit of edginess to him. I was hoping that would go away since our plan would be to go to the Pal Zone play group that meets on Wednesdays. I prayed about it and was so relieved that we ended up having a really nice time. Julian responded well when I reminded him we were going to share today and play nice, which I had to do a few times. But it didn't get any worse like it has in the past with him trying to hit or push someone. Then at story time, he participated more like saying his name when he was asked to stick his name on the board at the front. He giggled a lot through the goofy songs too.

In my Place of Quiet Rest book, the topic today was about surrendering control. Although I know this is at the core of following Jesus, to have him as Lord, I still find it hard. I agree with Nancy because I know I do this: when we have a difficult or annoying circumstance, we'll often tend to view the difficult person or circumstance as the problem, yet if we instead see this as something God has allowed and we can trust him, it really opens up an opportunity to grow. It also gives us a whole new way of relating to that circumstance! She shares how taking time to be with God every day keeps our heart in check. By opening our hearts to him he will show us when we're stuck and help us move beyond it.

After our play group, we came home and packed a lunch for the next part of the day which was meeting our friends for a picnic and fun at the zoo. This was our first time going to the zoo this season and we had fun. He liked hearing the lion roar and was saying "again, again" to the lion. Then the otter was hiding behind a stump so he's saying "come here Otter, come here". I couldn't believe how warm it got today, close to 80 with no clouds. Just gorgeous. I was really warm in pants. I could tell Julian not having a morning nap was catching up with him though, as he started to get restless and crabby. I gave him his nuk and blankie in the car and he was asleep within minutes.

I totally forgot that we're focusing on Mary the mother of Jesus this week for my bible study. I didn't even look at the study until today. I had a little chuckle to myself when I saw what one main topic would be, Mary showing us the meaning of surrender. I love it when God puts an "exclamation point" on something he wants me to see in my life. It's about surrender! If only it was as easy to put into practice as it is to share these insights that I have. Some of the main aspects we learn of Mary were how she knew the scriptures well, she had a worshiping heart and a humble, teachable heart. Like when the angel told her she would give birth to the Messiah she responded "I am the Lord's servant.....May it be as you have said." One interesting highlight was that if you go back through the Old Testament, there is a common thread tying the books together and that is the ever-unfolding promise of a savior.

Julian took a long nap but woke up still out of sorts and cranky. Our day wasn't over yet as we had another adventure of going out to dinner with our friend Brad. He wanted to play outside but I had to get stuff ready to go as I pack a little din-din for him. He had a couple melt downs in the beginning but then he enjoyed Brad making faces at him and teasing him and he settled into eating then coloring. Our friend just lost his mom so our hearts were heavy as he explained her sudden passing from a heart attack. We got home past his bedtime, but it was so nice outside that the three of us just hung outside watching the stars for a while. Then going to bed Julian was just wired, so we played a few games of chase the blankie and tickle mania before he settled for sleep. I was then able to spend some time catching up with my younger sister on the phone. Now it's off to bed!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Our first visit to the terrace

Since I'm done with my study of David, yesterday I read from a magazine called "In Touch" which is by gifted preacher/teacher Charles Stanley. They have a monthly devotional you can follow. Today's verse was Jeremiah 9:23-24. (Verse 24: ...but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD. Charles shares knowing and understanding the Lord as our most worthy pursuit versus the pursuit of wealth, career success, the perfect marriage, being loved or admired. This is a lifelong pursuit. This was good to think about and be honest, what are my important pursuits and how does the Lord rate in that. I see how this wavers from week to week and other pursuits can crowd out God. My prayer is to continue to grow closer to him and I see how he gives me more of himself the more that I'm willing to sacrifice and give to him.

When Julian got up from his nap, we decided since it was such a beautiful day we'd make our first trip of the year to the student union and hang out at one of our favorite places, the union terrace, an outdoor patio on the lakefront. We packed a full lunch and had a wonderful afternoon hanging out there. Julian was a bit antsy to just sit so I let him down and he did pretty well just hanging out around our table area. Then he said "come here mommy" and grabbed my hand pulling me toward the lake area. He said he wanted to go swimming! We haven't been swimming yet, but I've been talking about it as we'll be taking lessons at the Y at the end of the month. There was a big digger (backhoe) in a roped off area so we visited that. He loved it. Then we went by the lake shore and enjoyed watching the ducks and dogs and people coming by.

We had a good sermon at church that stands out to me partly because I'm a visual learner. We're going through Luke and this was after Jesus was resurrected and is revealing himself to his followers. He ends up walking with two of the disciples who were talking about him but couldn't see it was him. They were blinded. Just as they were blinded in their understanding of what Jesus came to do. This is when Tim who was teaching put on a blindfold to share the next part of the sermon. Their thought was that he came to start a military revolution to overtake Rome, and that his death ended their hopes of freedom. They were blinded to his real intent that he came to "seek and save the lost", humanity, and it would only be fulfilled in his death and rising again.

After dinner, it was bath time. I didn't realize how much time went by because we were having so much fun. We were both coloring the sides of the tub and shower with the water crayons for most of the time and making words with his stick-on ABC's. He still doesn't like getting his head wet but that part goes fast. I finally laid him down after 9pm and he normally goes down at 8pm.

Today, in reading A Place of Quiet Rest I finished the chapter on "The Inner Life" where it talks about the purposes of a quiet time being purification, restoration, communion, instruction. She had some really good questions at the end of the chapter. One of them was to record a time when God used his word to cleanse your heart, restore your soul or teach you something of his ways. My example came from a time recently I got upset with a friend for not fulfilling a commitment to me but instead doing something which I thought was selfish. I was very upset and did not hold back my anger and basically told her off and hung up on her. After I calmed down, I happened upon a proverb I wrote down before, Proverbs 29:11 A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. I felt very bad about the way I had treated my friend and it weighed so heavy on me. It was at this time I remembered a blog I read about not allowing bitterness to ruin a relationship and how bitterness acts like a poison in your system. I called my friend and apologized and felt the load lift from me. A good example of the teaching from his word.

After daddy left for work, Julian really wanted to play outside. We hung out for a while and then he enjoyed some time playing in the car, pressing buttons, pretending he was driving. Then we played downstairs in the art area. He colored with markers and crayons while I refined my sketches of Elmo. Today's Elmo was pretty good. I'm hoping this will come in handy if I decide to make an Elmo cake for his birthday (coming up in May). He also made played with Playdoh and then it was time for his nap. Later, we got a call from a friend of ours who is from India but is visiting the states for a few months. He is a gifted pastoral teacher who built an organization in India that is like seminary and vocational training for pastors and lay people but it stays true to the Indian culture. We visited on a mission trip in 2002 and then my husband went back in 2008 while I was pregnant. We hope to be able to see our friend and his wife during their stay.

Today I continued in the In Touch devotional on 2Corinthians 8:9. The chapter is about God's grace. Grace can be defined as God's undeserved goodness and kindness towards us. It works somewhat like this. We have an experience of God's grace, maybe healing from some hurt in our past for example and we have a response of an overflow of joy and out of that comes generosity in giving, giving of ourselves, our possessions, our finances. The bible uses the phrase "the grace of giving". The focus in this chapter is on Jesus; how he left the riches of heaven and came to earth that we might share in the riches of his home. When we come to him and ask him to be Lord, our old self "dies" and our "new" self becomes eternal and includes all the treasures of heaven.

After lunch, Julian was "reading" a few books to himself. I got one of them on video. It was about a digger and he's say digger about every 3rd word. Then he brought a book to me which I thought was to read but he left and came back with his hat on and said "king farms" - which is his way of saying McKee Farms, a park we go to. His hat was on funny, I just couldn't stop laughing. This was so cute. Since it was raining, we didn't go to the park. We did run some errands though.

Julian didn't sleep very long for his afternoon nap. He was calling me really loudly and when I got him he said "game" and had thrown his nuk and blankie on the floor. He wanted me to get them and this started a game of fetch and throw. It made him laugh like crazy. After our fun, I had to get dinner prepared. Julian ended up playing with his duplos. He hasn't played with them in a while and he had all sorts of little towers he made and he gave me one.

We went to the Y and I made it through my workout. Earlier in the day, I was not feeling up to going at all but I'm glad that ended up changing. Now it's 10pm and that's my goal for getting things wrapped up so I have a little "me" time.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

writing on Monday

Well, it's 10:15pm and I'm just getting on the computer. It's too late to start a post tonight so I'll do a catch up post tomorrow.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wrapping up the study of David

Well, after yesterday with nonstop activity, today seems almost dull. Julian wanted to stay in his jammies this morning when I went to dress him which was okay with me. After our Saturday morning pancakes, I was reading a bit of the news when Julian came up to me and said "come here, play mommy" so we had some play time with the Thomas the Train toys. I was making up stories with the trains and Julian kept saying "again". Then I put in a Wiggles video I got from our video store where kids movies are free. I wasn't that into it and I found out Julian wasn't either when part way through he said "all done mommy". So I tried Stellaluna which was about a fruit bat adopted by a family of birds. That was cute.

In my devotional time today, I finished the book (A Heart Like His) and the last chapter was the 2nd half of 1Chronicles 29 which concludes the study of the life of David. David can finally rest as the shepherd boy turned king prepares his nation and his family for life without him. In concluding, Beth Moore looks at David's words in Psalm 71:20 You will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. Here we see David with the same hope we as people of faith have, the resurrection. He shares the belief that we too will be raised as Christ was raised and have eternal life. I spent some time reflecting on this study of David and how I'm glad I read this book. It has highlighted for me the importance of a life spent in intimate relationship with the Lord. To have a focus on praise, prayer, waiting on the Lord and seeking him in making decisions and trusting him. It takes a lot of energy and commitment. This was good. I found another Beth Moore study called Jesus, the one and only. I put it on hold at the library so I'm looking forward to starting that soon.

We spent some time at the library and came home in time for Julian's nap. He ended up not sleeping at all. I heard him babbling the whole time and after an hour I heard him calling my name over and over. I went in and he was wide awake wanting to read books so I got him up. Tonight for dinner, I heated up some soup from the soup swap my mom's group had back in January (see Jan. 28 post). Then we headed out to get this week's groceries after I did the menu planning. My little helper was by my side assisting me in putting them all away. Since I had a lot of odds and ends left to do, daddy did Julian's bedtime routine. I started a book called "There is no me without you; one woman's odyssey to rescue Africa's children". So far it seems to be a good book, although heart wrenching. I think I'll use this extra time to catch up on my reading tonight.

Friday, April 9, 2010

A full and wonderful day

Today was just such a great day. Julian and I were gone from the house from about 10am until 4pm just stopping in briefly a couple of times. Often that would mean I'd be really tired or a bit burnt out but God just blessed me today with lots of energy and enjoyment from all the activity. I'm sure it helped that it was a beautifully sunny, 60 degree day. We started out in the morning going to Toddler Time at the library. She read about 4 books, we sang some songs and then the kids got to do a craft (making a lamb with cotton balls and construction paper). Then I wanted to get in my 3rd workout of the week so we went to the Y and Julian enjoyed playing in the nursery while I did a great 30 minute workout alternating running and walking. We hadn't eaten out in a couple weeks so I thought I'd treat myself by going to Panchero's to lunch just mother and son. He's usually pretty good at the restaurant and he was today. I have to remember not to bring applesauce though since it was really messy. We shared a chicken quesadilla and he also had good old PB&J. Then we did some shopping at Target the highlight of which was getting a new blender (the old one died months ago) so we can make smoothies and then a plastic pail and shovel for Julian to play with in the yard. We still had plenty of time so we stopped at the park and the two of us played for an hour. Most of that time we had the park to ourselves so we were playing chase games on the jungle gym that kept us laughing. Finally, we stopped at the video store where kids videos are free and got a couple for the weekend. Whew. I'm glad that all my days aren't that full!

In my reading, the focus was on Psalm 30 and 1Chronicles 29. I like this psalm. Psalm 30:2 (O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me.) is one of my life verses for God rescuing me from the depths of a long, dark depression (see post Feb. 20th for more about that). What resonates with me is the verse "he turns my wailing into dancing". To me this speaks of what happened in my life. In 1Chron. verse 9 really stood out to me. It said the people of Israel "had given freely and wholeheartedly to the Lord". That's something I want to do in my life. To give of myself in that way, my time, my possessions. It's a tall order! I have to fight my nature to horde and honestly just at times being selfish. In this chapter, we come to David's death. In the last time he addresses the people, he leads them in praise to the Lord, once again showing his heart. The people rejoiced and David led them in praise for having the means to build the temple. He had an active praise life, which leads me to examine my own. I used to have a praise/worship time during my devotional time but that seems to have phased out. I started today with getting back into that. My heart is just lighter.

On to the difficult part of the day. Julian had a good nap, but after waking up he acted like he hadn't. It started with me asking him to give me a kiss and instead he hit me! Lightly, but still. I asked him to say he was sorry and told him it hurt mommy and he refused to say sorry. This set off a major melt down which then spun into being upset at dinner, getting upset after dinner and finally I started our night routine and he calmed down and we read a book and sang a couple songs. Now I think it's time for me to wind down and do some reading in bed before sleep.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Having a listening heart

We spent the morning at our Titus playgroup. There were a lot of moms that came today. I saw several faces that were familiar and got to chat with a few. Julian liked exploring the fire truck tent someone brought. He'd wander off to play and then come back to get me. He'd say "come here mommy" and pull me by the hand so I'd go play with him. When we got home he wanted to play outside and since this could be the last snow of the season (we got enough to cover the ground) we tromped through the snow and played for a while. I was rushed to get his lunch and eat mine before my women's bible study but made it on time. One thing I took away from the study was having a listening heart. We were discussing Martha and Mary and they described Mary's focus on Jesus as having a listening heart. This was good. It helps to think about spending time reading the word or in times of prayer paying special attention to what the Lord is saying.

When I got back from the study, Julian was in a great mood. It turns out he and my babysitter were having a ball playing hide and seek. He doesn't do the seeking part very well, but loves to hide and then have you jump out at him. He laughs like crazy. He was also asking to be tickled. He laid down on the floor like a dog and I didn't know what he was doing, but then he asked me to tickle him. Most kids do their best to get away from being tickled, but he loves it. It was fun.

In my devotional time, I'm on the second to last chapter in my book Having a Heart Like His by Beth Moore which is all about David and his relationship with God. Today in 1 Chronicles 28 the idea is engaging in and completing the work God has prepared for us, just as David prepared for Solomon everything needed to build the temple. He heard from God that the task itself was to be completed by Solomon, but all preparations were made by David. In 1 Chronicles 22:19 David says to Solomon and his people, "Devote your heart and soul to seeking the Lord." Beth encourages us to examine ourselves asking what it is that our heart desires and is focused on. Just as the verse Matthew 6:21 says where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. It's about being honest with ourselves to keep us from drifting away from the Lord and keeping our hearts turned towards him. That can be hard at times. Sometimes it's hard to change our hearts, but we can give permission for the Lord to come in and change it.

Julian had a weird nap this afternoon. He woke up after only sleeping for an hour and was sitting up crying in his crib. He was really hard to console and I couldn't figure out why he was crying so I just wrapped him in a blanket and rocked him and comforted him. What was so sweet is that he ended up falling asleep right in my arms. He's not done this too many times since he was a baby. He went back to sleep for a bit then woke up crying again. We came downstairs and I had to hold him to settle him again. I think he was overtired since he really enjoys his nap in the morning and didn't have one.

Daddy and I read him some books and then we had bath time. I found a great learning toy which are bath letters. It includes the whole alphabet and they stick to the side of the tub. Another way to learn the alphabet and have fun too. While brushing Julian's teeth, he started saying names of animals and making their sounds like lion-roar, monkey-ooh ooh, etc. all the while watching himself in the mirror with a big grin on his face. It was a nice way to wrap up our day.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Catching up on the last several days

I'm so used to the rhythm of daily blogging that it's hard to know where to start. I've been away for a few days enjoying some time with family. We had a nice weekend away down in Illinois visiting my family for Easter. We stayed with my oldest sister and her husband on Saturday. We arrived just in time for some appetizers and snacks before we had an early dinner. We just ordered pizza. My youngest sister came with her husband and kids so the kids really had fun playing together. After dinner, we all took a walk over to the nature preserve by their house. The main part was closed, but you could still walk the paths. While we were walking by a pond, we heard a loud splashing noise and saw something jump out of the water. After the third time this happened, we were able to see it was a beaver! He would come out of the water and then slap it with his tail. We noticed an area that must have been his den piled up with mud, sticks and branches. Julian kept saying "beaver, beaver" he was so excited. On our way back, we stopped by the sandhill cranes and they were making some loud bird calls while we hung out watching them for a while. Julian loved trying to imitate them. He ended up staying up again later than usual since he was not tired and so he could play some more.

Sunday turned out to be a beautiful day. We spent most of the morning on the patio watching the birds coming to the feeder. One of the prettiest ones was a red bellied woodpecker. There were also goldfinches, house finches, cowbirds, blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches and juncos. More variety than we get at home. We love to bird watch. Later in the afternoon, we went to my youngest sister's house and enjoyed a wonderful Easter dinner. This time my other sister's kids were there so Julian got to play with all 4 of his cousins. The ride back was quite an adventure. There was a huge storm with lots of lightning, thunder and even hail. At times it was hard to see the road. Now I really know what white knuckle driving is like.

Monday and Tuesday I woke up really tired. Now it's Wednesday and this tired, draggy feeling has stayed with me. Especially in the morning. Both Monday and Tuesday were days we didn't have any play group activities planned. Our sitter Dave came over so I could go meet with our tax lady. She does a great job and gets our taxes done in under an hour. Julian continues to enjoy playing with the set of cars that I got him. He likes lining them up and then "driving" them around making car noises. We continue to get new books from the library to read and his favorite ones right now are related to the ABC's. It's so fun hearing him sing through the "Julian alphabet" (ABC...H..MOP..QS..WY and I know...). He's started to learn his numbers too. We were reading an animal tracks book and he'd point to the paw prints and count like 1-2-3-6-8-10. He's also repeating so much of what you say, you really have to be careful about what you say, especially for me when I get angry. Lately, he's been playing more with our cat Buca. Not in the trying to grab his tail way that he used to, but actually talking to him and trying to include him in his games. He'll say "come here Buca" trying to get his attention and Buca tolerates him a bit more now.

Tuesday night we got together with our Life Group and the women met while the men went and met separately. We do this once every couple months and each time it is really good. We're able to open up in a deeper way with one another and this time our focus was on what you worry about. Each of us was able to share things, some of which were heavy, that we're going through. Worries we have as spouses, as workers, as mothers. One of my main worries right now is being mindful and intentional about what I'm modeling for Julian and what my day to day life with him is teaching him. That for me is huge.

Again, today I've been a bit draggy so nothing too exciting to share other than getting a cavity filled at the dentist. I did enjoy my study of Martha and Mary today. It's the last study in this Women of the Bible workbook and then we start reading a book based on Ecclesiastes. Even though I've heard the story of Martha and Mary several times, I am always refreshed by it and take something away from it. When Jesus comes to their home for a meal, Martha puts so much effort into every detail to the point where she gets frustrated with all the work. I was thinking about how she robs herself of intimacy and fellowship with Jesus. Intimacy that Mary, her sister, is enjoying. It makes me stop and think about when I might do that. Be so focused on doing what I think is "good" and get so busy that it crowds out my time with the Lord. Another impactful part of this study was when Jesus was so moved with the grief of Martha, Mary and the Jews (and his own grief) over Lazarus that he too wept. John 11:33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. I took this to heart thinking of how moved Jesus must be by my own times of pain and suffering, coming alongside me in my struggles and times of sorrow. That is really comforting to me. How deep is the desire in me to be loved and cared about, and just this thought about Jesus caring that much for me hits me deeply right now. Finally, when Mary anoints Jesus' head with the jar of pure nard and wipes his feet with her hair, this is such a personal show of love and worship. It is so valued by Jesus that he promises right there that this act will be shared for eternity wherever the gospel is preached. Again, I was encouraged by this and inspired to love the Lord with this kind of adoring love.

It's been pretty rainy this week so we've not gotten the chance to enjoy time at the park or playing outside. It's nice watching everything turning green though. My husband and I are on week two of our new eating program. So far I haven't lost anything, but I'm working on eating less and having my stomach shrink so I have less cravings. We're not eating snacks and no food after 7pm. Tonight, we went to the Y and worked out. It was a good workout night with a mix of jogging and walking. My goal is three times a week. Julian did really well in the nursery. They had a couple pictures for me that he colored. The Y-worker teaches preschool and commented on how well Julian is doing with his words, small sentences and colors and said that he's at the 2-1/2 year level. I think the Lord nudged me with a reminder that I have to be careful not to get into the comparing Julian to others habit. That it's not about him being ahead of (or better than) others that is important. I could too easily fall into that I'll admit. Instead I need to focus on being a reflection of what it looks like to have a growing, intimate relationship with the Lord knowing that he learns the most from my actions, not what I say and that if I have that as my focus the rest really falls in line. That's definitely a work in progress! With that, I think I'll sign off. I need to get better sleep so I have more energy for the day so I'm heading off to bed.

Monday, April 5, 2010

New post soon

I've been out of town for the Easter holiday and it's 10:15pm Monday night, too late tonight for me to start a post. I should be back writing tomorrow!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Oh how I love Jesus

Thursday was a really busy day, so I didn't get to blog about it until today. In the morning, we went to our Titus play group. There was a very small turnout, about 1/4 of the moms who usually come. Julian was so excited when they brought out the basketballs. It was very laid back.

When I got home I had just enough time to feed Julian, eat my own lunch and then my babysitter Dave came so I could go to my women's bible study. It is really a blessing to have this group, even though the faces are changing a lot. Some who used to come aren't anymore and then there are new people I don't know yet. This is one event I go to every week that is something I do for me. I really need the fellowship time with other women to recharge my batteries during the week. We discussed the Proverbs 31 woman. Many people felt the same that it is really hard not to feel down on yourself when you look at all the qualities of this woman. Strength, dignity, up when it's dark, wisdom, not idle, trustworthy. Bettye who leads the group suggested we pick one quality that we are weak in and begin to focus on that, bringing it to God in reflection and prayer seeing what actions we can start to take. I think one of mine would be to look at "she speaks with wisdom". I confess a struggle with what comes out of my mouth. Harshness of tone, sometimes bad words, critical words, words said out of impatience. These are all things I would like to invite the Lord in to bring change. Please pray that I commit to doing this! I also made a commitment in a past blog to take some time to go through my possessions and see what I can give to bless others. I haven't done that yet.

When I got home I took Julian to McKee Farms again, it was so beautiful outside! He had a little less energy today so he didn't do as much climbing. We spent more time on the swings and just walking around the kids area.

After Julian's nap we went to a Maundy Thursday service at our church. Our pastor shared that maundy actually comes from the Passover dinner that Jesus had with the disciples. He gave a new command, to love one another (John 13:34). Maundy is derived from that command. The service was beautiful. They had candles around the whole front of the church and stage area with really subdued light. The focus was on having communion and taking time to just be with the Lord. I was really touched and moved. Really just overwhelmed with a fresh remembrance of his grace & healing particularly from the long depression and time of despair I had after my son was born. This was a time I wanted to be rejoicing yet I was in the grip of depression and anxiety like nothing I had ever experienced before.(See post from Feb. 20.) My heart tonight was just filled with thanks for the sacrifice Jesus made for us, for me that set me free.

We had dinner at a place called Cafe Porte Alba, an authentic Italian restaurant. It was such a nice time. Our French friends from church invited us and his parents who were visiting from France treated us. Julian got restless at times so I'm glad I had his coloring book with crayons. Then our friend also took him to watch them cook the pizzas which they do right out in the open.

This was certainly a full day.

This morning, we went to the Verona library for our Toddler Time class. This was supposed to be the first day but because of an Easter egg hunt they weren't holding it but hadn't told us. We went to the YMCA instead and I had a great workout where I really pushed myself on the treadmill.

A good part of the afternoon was spent playing with a new set of (used) Hotwheels cars and trucks I found online. We also spent some time playing ball oustide.

The highlight of today was watching the second half of The Passion of the Christ (I went through the first part earlier). I like to watch it every year during holy week. It is so powerful. This movie makes what I read in the bible so real to me. I can't put into words the way it ministers to me seeing this and getting a fresh realization of the cost of my salvation. The agony and suffering and unfathomable love that brought Jesus to the cross. It also makes me think of the depths of my own sin, before I knew him and even now and how incredible it is to have all my sins washed away by his blood. By coming to him, repenting, and being restored. The song "Oh how I love Jesus" just popped into my head. It is so true!

I think I'll end on that note. We're going to visit my family this weekend for Easter which should be a really nice time with my sisters and nieces and nephews.