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Somewhere Between Donuts and Blueberries

Enjoying and Sharing the Goodness of God

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Expecting Leftovers

I don’t know exactly when it happened, but somewhere in the last six months my garbage disposal-ish child decided he no longer liked eating what I served. At first it was concerning, then annoying and eventually plain infuriating! Most meals were turning into some sort of negotiation and battle. I don’t enjoy cooking; I like it even less when it is wasted. Wasted food is a quick temper button (probably a whole post on it’s own, but I digress).

Finally, two weeks ago I had an epiphany. Evan also did that at three years old. He went from eating a lot of diverse foods to small portions of a select few. I got angry then too, then I just changed my approach – serving smaller portions of foods he mostly liked. There was still waste but significantly less. I was reminded of an article I read last year about marriage and expectations. I can’t remember any specifics, but I do remember a point was if a situation isn’t changing, then change your expectations.

That seems easy enough. When it comes to feeding a three year old it has helped tremendously. If I expect him to eat a little bit and leave some on his plate, then I won’t be irritated when he eats a little bit and leaves some on his plate. In fact, if I anticipate it then I also serve myself less and plan to finish his left overs. And if he surprises me by eating it all, it’s a win for everyone. I read John 6 yesterday, Jesus is all about the leftovers; providing beyond the need.

Like most parenting lessons this makes me think of God and how He sees and parents me.

Is He disappointed, frustrated, or annoyed? I am prone to think so, since I often project myself on Him.  And then I remembered that expectation is believing something will happen in the future, but not being completely sure. There is an unknown associated with it. And so God must not have these expectations. He is beyond time and already knows. He is not disappointed because disappointment is an unmet expectation. Oh sweet relief to have a God that is infinite and not bound by time! I cannot really wrap my mind around the fact that He knows the end from before the beginning.  To Him it is all the present because He is outside of time.

I need not put on the guilt and shame of disappointing God. If God’s not disappointed in me, where is this coming from? My own disappointment in myself. Did I think I was going to get this life perfect? No, that’s not the case. But maybe I expected myself to live up to the expectations I put on others because if I don’t, that makes me a hypocrite and I certainly don’t want be one.

God does calls us to be holy as He is holy (1 Peter 1:16 ESV) and some passages even say to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48 ESV). How do I strive to live a holy life and not get caught up in my failure? As humans in a fallen world we will fail, miss the mark and sin. What are we to do then? Repent. Simply acknowledge our short comings and go again. How gracious of God, how kind of the Father! He offered his perfect Son to pay the price for our sins. And we get to live life, a holy one, wholly devoted to Him.

Where are you disappointed now? What expectations have not been met? What were you expecting and why were your expecting it? Our disappointments often show us expectations that we were not even cognizant of or the desires of our heart that we may not have ever acknowledged. They show us idols we had no intention of lifting up so high. They can even show us what we really think about God.

As we answer these questions we get to admit them – to ourselves and to God. We get to surrender these desires and ask God to change our expectations to the things He has in store for us. We get to look forward in anticipation to the good He will teach us and the maturity He will grow in us. In His word we are fed and filled. By His Holy Spirit we are transformed. I want lots of Jesus, the Bread of Life, and I don’t want to leave a crumb behind.

Throwing in the Towel…or the Toilet Paper

What’s the point?

My two year old was out of his bed for the fifth time claiming he had to go potty. We were on day 4 of him only ever “needing” to go potty if he was supposed to be in bed. I rolled my eyes and trudged over. “Why!?!? Why are you doing this?” I thought. I might have muttered it under my breath, but for sure I thought it. 

“I’m done!”

“I can’t do this any more.”

“For crying out loud!!”

I caught myself saying this a lot this week. The arguing, the whining, the accusing about who took which lego from who, the complaining about every meal I made…I was just over it.

There were probably better ways to handle it, a mommy time out, a child banishment to the room, all of the above? 
Instead I said screw it. 

Screw it all!

Screw the potty training and screw the disciplining. Screw the food. And for the love of gluten, screw all the dietary restrictions. Bring on the dairy-laden, sugar-full bowl of cookies and cream!
Daddy was going to be at work late and I was done. A person can only handle so much. 

I ate more chocolates than I can count and I wallowed in my self pity and mom guilt. With a glazed gaze I basically let my children do whatever they wanted (within reason, I’m not a totally negligent parent).

What’s the point? And with those three words a series of pain points came flooding through my mind. 

When I was in college and felt overweight and my eating felt out of control. 

When I was a new mom and trying to navigate postpartum depression.

When we moved to Visalia and I was so lonely I would make a pan of brownies and say to myself “at least this will make me happy.”

And right behind the memories came truth ringing loud and clear. The same phrase that has followed that thought many years now…”to honor God.”

The point is always to honor God. 

Ugh, I wasn’t ready for that just yet. I just wanted a little more time to stew in my self pity and blame shifting. This was a bad day and it was everyone’s fault that it was bad!
But I know better than that. 

How did I get here!?! Unrealistic Expectations. Being tired. Doing my agenda and not asking God for his. Doing God work without enjoying God. 

How do I get out of this mess? Admit my failure. Humbly accept my limitations.  Rest and reset, and a maybe solid cry for good measure. Sleep more, plan less. Enjoy playing and not distracting myself at any and every opportunity.

I’ve been walking with God for over a decade and every so often He has to reteach me the lessons I’ve often forgot. 

The point of this life is to love and honor God. And it’s always possible. He is not asking for perfection in the execution he just asking for a willing heart to attempt the task in front of me. 

And speaking of execution, that’s precisely what I need to honor him. To die to myself- my self ambition and vain conceit. To submit my “great” plans to God and ask what parts of my day or to do list are what he wants and what parts he wants me to leave for another day. 

I am so thankful for God’s word that always gives us the truth we need. Thankful for His Spirit that reminds us and makes the word real. 

“Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:8-9

In my flesh I am naturally selfish and wanting the whole world to revolve around me. My plans, my desires, my ideas, my timeline, my success and certainly my comfort. This will clearly lead to my destruction because I am not all-knowing, powerful or good. 

And so I must submit all the things I hold dear to my God. My good and gracious God. My all-knowing, all-powerful, perfectly good God. And when I yield my will to His something beautiful happens. My heart is not as frustrated, I’m not as prone to throw in the towel and yell “screw it” to all the things that seem too hard or unattainable. When I surrender to Him and trust Him then there is always more grace and more strength and more perseverance. It’s obviously of God because I just don’t have that on my own. 

I started writing this post last week and got distracted, probably by a potty incident. I am back at it as I am currently on “poop watch” and loathing it. What a good place to come back to. I am teaching a child a life long lesson. This will benefit him the rest of his life. I can’t just stop because it’s hard and not as successful as I thought it would be. 

I am so thankful that when I am weary that I have a God who is with me and for me and offers more grace and strength and endurance. And that he promises a harvest for these days of hard work. 

Where are you wanting to give up? When are you saying, “what’s the point?” May you hear the gentle answer, “to honor God,” and may He give you the strength, the grace and endurance to keep going, for your good and His glory. 

Home

5 years ago Evan can home so it feels like a good time to post the third part of the story.

There are so many things I love about home. I’ve had a few of them now and by far the best things about them are the people that have lived in them with me. My family growing up, my roommates in college, my husband; they are the ones that make the house a home where I felt loved and appreciated, safe, secure and comfortable. They let me be my messy self and loved me anyway.

A few years earlier I had an epiphany. Everything good I desire, everything good I want or love can usually be described in words that are attributes of God. Everything I love about home: safety, comfort, where I can be my messy self, security, love and affirmation – all of those describe God in a way. And the best thing is that He never changes, no matter what happens to your circumstances or your home. He is certain and stable no matter what.

Home is not as awesome when you go to it without the baby you were planning for. Then home hurts a little. I don’t even remember that first drive home, but I remember we drove back to the NICU that first night just so we could be with Evan. So I could sit by his bed and watch him sleep for a couple more hours. I know I was supposed to be home resting and recovering but the thought of him there with out us made me think he might be lonely and I couldn’t help but cry, just as I‘m doing now as I write this.

Gunn helped redefine home for me. He said home is where we’re together, so for the time Ev was in the NICU, that was home, our house was just where we slept. And so for the next two weeks, that was home. We would wake up get ready and get to the NICU around 10 am. Gunn might leave to get some work done for an hour or two and bring food back but we would be there to change Ev’s diapers and help with feedings. His nurses were amazing and helped us so much. We learned about all his medications and how and how much to administer. I wasn’t nearly as sensitive and volatile as those first few days and learned everything I could. We had to leave for the 7-9 shift change so we would go home and have dinner. Some nights when I missed Evan too much to sleep we would come back, other nights I would just call for updates.

There was good news every day, but some times bad news too. It felt like 3 steps forward 1-2 back. But by day 4 or 5 they had ruled out internal bleeding and concluded that Evan had an umbilical avulsion. His umbilical cord was shearing away from the placenta so he was losing blood and ingesting it. It’s rare and if you don’t catch it in time the baby dies. It’s serious stuff. (Here’s an abstract of a case study similar to ours. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/22825275/)

So by day 5 we were feeling much better about his situation. What they explained was that with that amount of blood loss the body starts putting organs in hibernation to protect the brain. Liver, kidneys, lungs, then brain, at least I think that’s what they said. His brain had been fine all along. His lungs had recovered in the first 24 hours. (His kidney numbers would stop falling and level out about day 8 and were within normal limits by day 15, and his liver numbers finally reached normal limits at 7 months old.) They warned us that the shock of delivery would just take time. The goals were to get him maintain his body temperature and learn to eat. Once he could tolerate feedings he would be home free.

I had a lot of fears. I had seen friends with sick NICU babies who had never learned to eat and ended up going home with feeding tubes. And so we prayed. Prayed for complete healing because with God all things are possible. We also prayed for faith to believe him because his ways are not our ways, he sees bigger and farther than we do and sometimes the hard times now are for the benefit of someone later. I don’t know how He works or does what He does, I just know that the Bible teaches me through the story of Joseph that what was meant for evil God used for good (Genesis 50:20) and in the story of the man blind from birth that some suffering is not a punishment but an opportunity for God to reveal himself and bless people and bring himself glory (John 9:1-3).

Something beautiful happened in that NICU in all those days of sitting and praying. God healed a part of my heart, a piece of my faith that I knew was broken, but didn’t know how to fix.

You see, almost three years earlier our pastor’s wife, Karen, died of cancer. She was 34 years old. She left behind a husband, twin 15 year old girls and a 13 year old boy. She had been diagnosed shortly after we moved there and we had the pleasure and joy of knowing her while she battled for two and a half years. She loved Jesus and lived well. We prayed for healing all the time and we prayed for comfort and God’s will and all the other things you are supposed to pray. We were there with some friends singing worship songs when she passed and it was sad and terrible and a blow to my belief in God’s goodness.

I’ve always been confident in prayer. I like praying and I’ve had some great praying people show me what a healthy prayer life looks like. I have practiced the discipline of prayer and have found my best, most focused, least rabbit trail praying happens when I write them out. And so for years I’ve prayed. But when Karen died and when our 26 year old friend passed away from cancer shortly thereafter I stopped asking for healing. I asked for comfort and for many to see and know God through it. I always knew God was able, I never doubted that part, but I stopped believing he was willing. And in that thinking I was actually making an accusation. With my lack of asking I was saying that I didn’t believe God wanted them to live but rather that he preferred death. I was saying that he didn’t care about life. I didn’t consciously think or say these things, but subconsciously I believed them, and so I prayed or didn’t pray, accordingly.

The saddest part about believing lies is that they dim your view of God. They dim the bright, perfect light and truth of who He is. And as it gets darker it gets harder to see other truth and soon the lies, the fear, the hurt, the doubt just lead to this overwhelming hopelessness. And that’s a scary place to be.
Six months before Evan was born I realized that I had stopped praying for healing and over the next 6 months God would give me opportunities to think about it, but I never really reached a resolution.

And then Evan was born and I prayed like I never prayed before. And I asked, begged and pleaded for his life and for healing. And some how, someway, I believed God was both able and willing. God healed my faith with Evan, and not just because he got better. It was a gift! It was God touching my heart and mind and saying “I am the healer not just of bodies, but of souls and of faith in ME.” I could not muster up the faith, I could not manufacture belief, it was a gift from God.

I pray that for any one reading this, if you are feeling like you’re not sure that He’s able or willing that you might tell him even now what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and that he would heal your unbelief and give you a measure of faith that’s bigger than you even expect. I pray that our God, who loves you so completely, would overwhelm your heart and mind and give you a hope and peace that is beyond your understanding.

And as we prayed and read we also preached the truth of God’s word to ourselves over and over again.
I would include a bunch of journal enteries, but then this would be 1000 pages, and ain’t nobody got time for that right now. Suffice to say it was a daily prayer to ask for strength and faith and healing and joy and hope. And we posted verses on his crib, and we cuddled him and read him the word of God and we went to the house and would come back the next day to do it all over again.

On day 13 he was tolerating feedings and got to have the tube from his nose removed. I think his PICC line was still there but it just felt glorious to have one less cord attached.

On day 14 they said that if he kept up his feedings he might go home over the weekend! It was amazing. We were getting so close.

On day 15 we got a call at 9:30 am. “Make sure you bring the car seat, Evan’s going home today.”

I cried as we left the NICU. Cried tears of joy and tears of fear. How can they just send this baby home with us? That seems dangerous and unsafe. We don’t have heart rate or oxygen monitors. We don’t know what we’re doing and what if something happens?!?!?

The drive was surreal. As we pulled up and walked into the house we knew that we had weathered a storm and we knew that it was only by God’s great power and grace and mercy and love. And now we were home as a family of three and it was truly was home, sweet home!

Before the Blog…Evan’s Story – Part II

I am trying to get my previous writings from different places all together on the blog so here is the second of three parts sharing Evan’s story of birth and the NICU. God used that time in such a profound way in my heart and life, in my marriage, in motherhood. I hope that as you read this story that your heart is touched and your faith renewed in the God of grace and miracles. 

That sleep and rest was such a gift from God. Those drugs, such a blessing. That first day was fairly pain free because I wasn’t coherent enough to realize what was happening, and I think that was God’s grace.

I am naturally a planner. I like to plan for the worst and pray for the best, but my optimistic tendencies never really plan for the worst and I end up disappointed, a lot.

In my “planning for the worst” I tried the best I could to come to terms with the fact that my baby might not live. So to wake up on January 14th to the fact that he had made it was amazing. And then just an hour later to get a visit from the director of the NICU explaining that there were more complications and with that, quite a few unknowns, it was devastating. I hadn’t planned for the NICU.

There seemed to be internal bleeding but they couldn’t pin point where it was coming from. He was stable, but it might be a while until we see changes, and answers. It’s like she was preparing us for the worst and hoping for the best. He needed another blood and platelet transfusion.

The day before I had made a choice that me and God would be ok, nothing would change between us, even if Evan died, I would trust that God was enough for me. But would I be ok now? In the unknown, in the not sure if and how he will recover? Could I keep trusting and keep believing? This one was way harder.

The reason I always wanted the c section is because it’s fairly predictable. There’s a start, a baby, and an end. Clean up, sew up and recover. Natural birth sounded so messy and terrifying. Honestly I had planned for drugs as soon as they were available and then to give up if at any point the pain or discomfort or fear made me want to shout rude things to Gunnar.

There is nothing predictable about a baby in the NICU to a first time parent. I already had no idea how to be a parent and now he was sick and I didn’t even know if he was going to live. Tears, so many tears.

I appreciated the visitors but it’s hard to have a good, solid cry when you are interrupted so many times and are trying to explain things that make no sense to begin with.

We prayed a lot. That’s all we could do. We physically could do nothing else, heck, I still had a catheter and couldn’t even get out of bed! We prayed for healing and for knowledge, wisdom and discernment for the doctors, nurses and technicians treating Evan. We prayed that he would not only live but fully recover. We prayed for faith and hope to believe that God was good no matter the outcome. We prayed that many would come to know God and his love and grace through Evan’s life. We prayed fervently and faithfully, knowing full well we had no other options.

The one bright spot was that his lungs were already doing better and they took off the cpap.

Once the catheter was removed and I met the pee quota I was allowed to get in wheel chair and go meet him. As we got to the door of the NICU I could hear crying. It was sad, that poor baby. Gunn knocked. The door opened a minute later, still a lot of crying, and they informed us that he was having an ultra sound and would have to come back in 20 minutes.

I’ve never felt bad or sad about not seeing Evan on that first day. He was well taken care of and I was in no shape to see a baby, I literally could not stay awake, much less hold one. But that first meeting, or lack of, that was hard. I didn’t even see him, just heard him and my heart broke.

I cried all the way back up to the room and the whole time we waited. Nobody warned me about the rush of post-partum hormones! Well, they probably did I just didn’t realize the intensity of them and the emotion they elicit.

Gunn is a great husband. He is the most encouraging and kind man. He is so gentle with me. And with his soft voice and reassuring hug he prayed for me and thanked God for Evan and for the fact that he was crying. The day before he wasn’t crying. Apparently when you lose that much blood you don’t have the energy to cry. Those two blood and platelet transfusions must have already been helping if he could cry for a sustained time!

What a beautiful perspective change. I was so sad for my baby and that we were missing out on each other and Gunn was just thankful he was crying.

This is why we need each other, husbands and wives, family, friends, fellow humans – to speak the truth the other needs when they can’t see it themselves.

I got myself together and we headed back down.

We went in, set the timer and washed from the elbow down for two minutes, then I went and met my baby. He was in an open bed not an isolet, I took that as a good sign. He was sleeping. He had an IV in his hand with a splint to keep him from bending it and monitors on his chest and tummy and a cuff around his ankle. They told me I could touch him. I laid my hand on his back and rubbed it side to side a little. I’m sure she was just trying to be helpful so the nurse told me to not rub, just lay my hand there. That the firm pressure is more comforting. I felt like such a failure! I didn’t know how to do this. I just met him and already I’m doing it wrong. Gosh what a terrible mother! I was embarrassed and couldn’t keep the tears in much longer so we headed up a couple minutes later. And with that a seed of insecurity planted, that I wouldn’t realize until years later when it was a huge ugly weed in my heart. But that’s a story for another time.

This sucked! All of it. It was all terrible and I was a terrible mother. And know what else was terrible? Everything!

The doctors and nurses that came in what felt like every 10 minutes to check my incision or teach me how to pump. What is more humiliating than being naked and exposed, doing it over and over and over again and then being hooked to a machine like a cow! We were on day two and motherhood was pretty much the worst thing ever, and I sucked at it. Awesome!

Thank God for grace and mercy and for love. The love and comfort of my husband, the love and care of my mother, the love and support of my dad and siblings, the love and genersosity of my in-laws, the love and encouragement of my family, friends and even acquaintances who prayed for us, sent us texts and cards and messages and voice mails. They all were a tangible expression of God’s care and provision.

I especially appreciated one lactation nurse who came back two minutes after we had finished another pumping session and said, “Can I pray for you? My husband and I had a NICU baby 17 years ago and I know how hard and scary this can be. I can tell you know God, so can I pray with you?” And pray we did as tears streamed down my face. I wished my milk ducts worked that well.

It was all these little things that pulled me out of the depths of despair and reminded me that I could trust and hope in the very same God who just yesterday had filled me with a peace that was beyond anything I had ever experienced.

How quickly we forget. How easy it is to lose faith and lose hope.

It reminds me of Peter walking on water and then sinking as he looked around and was overcome with fear and I think, silly Peter, Jesus is right there, why are you such a coward? You’re fine, don’t be such a doubter!

That was me. Just 24 hours earlier I saw miracle after miracle.

Waking up at 7 am instead of 9 or 10 like every other day of my maternity leave.

The quick wisdom to not shower and not eat the bagel. It may not seem like a miracle but me having those thoughts from the Holy Spirit and then not eating, it was huge.

As little traffic as we had on the 91 freeway. If you’re not familiar with the area then I don’t think you truly appreciate the miracle, but it definitely was one. (Think everything you’ve ever imagined about LA traffic, and then add more. That is the hell known as the 91).

The fact that I had pre-registered. The fact that I was so compliant about a c section. These all saved seconds and minutes that saved Evan’s life! It was no accident. My God was there all along, way before any of it started he was making a way!

How could I forget so quickly?!?! How could I discount it all just 24 hours later?

I love that God is gracious and kind. I love that he doesn’t despise my weakness. My weak faith. Instead he gives more grace and more faith and more love than I can ever imagine.

And we needed it, because this was just the beginning of what would be a season of new and unknown and uncomfortable and what felt like a whole lot of failure.

But we had God and we had each other, and for another day, it was enough.

Birthday Memories

I wrote this last year, wishing I had a blog to post it. It’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. Hope you enjoy and are encouraged. Miracles happen and we are forever changed by them. My miracle celebrated his 5th birthday today and my tender mama heart loved celebrating all day long. 

Evan’s birth story

The best part of telling a story is getting to remember details that you haven’t thought of in a while, and seeing God work in them – His grace and mercy in those moments . Our lives change in those details though we don’t usually realize it until we are looking back to recall, recount and reflect. In the recounting we share the facts, and in it the truth of the situation and of what God did. And we are reminded all over again of the good things God has done and why our lives changed because of that story. In the retelling my faith is renewed and I’m in awe of God’s amazing attention to detail all over again. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

37 weeks & 2 days pregnant

My alarm went off at 7 am and I knew right away something wasn’t right. After a quick trip to the rest room I called for Gunnar and he ran in.

Blood. So much blood. 

I called labor and delivery and told them. They said to come straight in and if I didn’t have someone to drive me to call 911.
“When did I last shower? I should probably shower before I go have a baby. But they mentioned 911 so maybe pass on that.”

As Gunn got our bag in the car and I found a phone charger to throw in my purse I heated a bagel then got in the car. 

As we started driving I thought about an emergency c-section. “I shouldn’t eat.” I gave it to Gunn.  

It was 7:27 or 37 when we left the house. Friday morning we had 18 miles to Kaiser Anaheim. And those 18 miles were on the 71 south and the 91 east. Instead of worry about the inevitable traffic we would encounter I decided to do my daily morning prayer journal and read my Bible. 

As I was writing I was thankful that the 71-91 interchange was not congested and we actually made it onto the 91 in good time. But now there was some slowing. I asked God to help me not worry about the traffic. I asked him to keep me calm and help me trust that he loved this little boy and knew everything about him. He was God’s, he always had been and always will be. If we have him for a day or a month or a year or a life time, or just in utero, he is God’s and I am God’s. We’ll be ok. 

My mom’s first pregnancy was a stillborn boy at 6 months. My parents left the hospital as first time parents with no baby. It was tragic. But they relied on Jesus and each other and their faith was stronger for it. I knew from the beginning that a pregnancy does not guarantee a baby. Miscarriage had been one of my biggest fears. Especially since I had spotted early on and they found two sacs but only one baby. We had no other complications, but it was always in the back of my mind. 

Gunn and I had been reading in Ecclesiates, a chapter a day. That day was chapter 11. 

Ecclesiastes 11:5 “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.”

It was so comforting. It didn’t say “your baby is ok” or “everything is going to be alright,” but God spoke straight to my heart. “I see, I know, you don’t know what I know. You don’t know how this will end, but I do. I made you and I love you. I made this baby and I love him. No matter what happens you and Gunnar have me and I’m enough, you’ll be ok.” That was enough. 

I breathed deep and thanked God and thought, “well at least I feel baby moving, that’s a good sign. Or was that a contraction?” I had no idea. 

We made it to the hospital in 28 minutes. TWENTY-EIGHT MINUTES! ON THE 91 EAST on a FRIDAY! 

We had already pre registered so we went straight into triage. They had difficulty finding the baby’s heart rate, but at my appointment the day before it was the lower right so as they made their way around – upper right, upper left, lower left lower right, I tried to keep calm and remember that I didn’t need to worry. 

They finally found it and strapped on the monitors. 

With in 5 minutes 3 other nurses rushed in and looked at the the screen, readjusted the monitors and started talking in hushed tones. 

“Put her in room [blah, blah, blah] it’s right across from OR 1.”

They let me know that I was indeed staying that the doctor would probably get me on pitocin and get things going. 

They wheeled me to the new room and started prepping me. I could feel the profuse bleeding. There were people moving in and out and two different doctors came in to check. They couldn’t secure an internal monitor. Childbirth is the grossest, most stressful thing I have experienced in my life and yet, somehow I was still calm and not afraid. 

I made sure to let them know if at any point they thought there would be a c-section then please, by all means, let us have a c-section. 

Weeks earlier I had actually asked my ObGyn if we could just schedule a c-sections to begin with. I am not a fan of pain and I’m even less a fan of the unknown and I was so scared of labor and delivery. I had had a couple surgeries and actually really enjoyed the amazing naps I got during them so I was just totally fine with the idea. My doctor was not and had informed me that even though she could see my reasoning they don’t do that and I would indeed need to at least try. 

Within 5 minutes the baby’s heart rate had plummeted for the third time and I signed the line for an emergency c-section. 

Gunn and I kissed and said I love you and off I went. 

The rest of the day really should be written by Gunn. Besides the catheter they inserted while the anesthesiologist introduced her self, I don’t really remember much more. 

People. There were a lot of people in the room and super bright lights and I was more exposed than ever and was hoping for the medicine to kick in quick so I could sleep, and…take…a…good n..a..p.

Chapstick. All I wanted was Chapstick. My lips were so dry and I just needed some Chapstick so I could go back to sleep. 

Recovery. Gunnar was there. I think. My mom? Yeah, that’s still super fuzzy. They kept insisting I wake up. Mmm, nope. More sleep. 
My room. Gunnar, mom, dad. I couldn’t keep my eyes open for more that three minutes at a time. 

I remember they said Evan was in the NICU. Downstairs. I know Gunn showed me a picture. So many wires. A cpap on his face. 
He had lost a lot of blood. He needed some help. A blood transfusion and a platelet transfusion. 

I might have been sad about not seeing him but I could barely stay awake to listen to Gunnar. I would read a text and start a response but fall asleep 3 words in. Apparently Gunn just took my phone and started responding for me. 

My baby was born (at 9:02 am, 5lbs 10oz, 19.5 in) and he was alive. God said He would be enough and take care of us. I just kept resting in that, figuratively and literally.

Acquired Taste

“Just a few more bites, then you can be done.”

I have said this phrase hundreds of times and my oldest isn’t even 5 years old. I know I’m no gourmet cook, but I also know the food I put on the table is edible and mostly tasty. More importantly, it’s what he needs to live. And because I want him to live a healthy, beautiful life we do it again and again, 3 times a day, every day.

 

Why is it so hard to like what’s healthy? Why do I love donuts and hate kale? I’m sure there are scientific answers but I believe there are spiritual ones as well.

I had no real concept of nutrition until my sophomore year of college when I took a sports nutrition class. Before that I knew only what experience taught me. I knew that my mom made me eat fruit daily and didn’t like us to eat candy or sweets and that we had to eat all the salad at dinner before we ate the rest. I knew that since ditching her rules and eating at the campus dining hall I had gained roughly 10 lbs and should probably stop having the soft service ice cream every night on my way out the door. I knew these things, but didn’t understand the why until that class taught me all about proteins, carbohydrates and fats. It wasn’t until I understood metabolic rates and muscle glycogen that my weight gain and food choices became a lot more important in my mind.

We only know what we’ve learned and until we are taught more it is difficult to want to change, much less do it.

Once I learned the physiological why to food choices (caloric intake) and exercise (caloric output) it was much easier to say no to ice cream and yes to vegetables.

 

The same is true with the word of God. We know we ought to read it. We should know what it says. But until we do we are left only with what we’ve been taught – be it by church or family or culture. Often our experience with the Bible will shape our view of it.

I am so thankful that I had a mom who not only insisted on fruits and vegetables but also a healthy diet of scripture reading and daily devotions. My parents both modeled daily Bible reading and also encouraged us to do it. I didn’t do it regularly until college, around the same time as that nutrition class, interestingly enough.

I grew up knowing it was good for me but not really feeding it to myself. Praise God for His Spirit drawing me in and awakening me to the truth of His word.

 

“My son, keep your father’s commandment,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching.
Bind them on your heart always;
tie them around your neck.

When you walk, they will lead you;
when you lie down, they will watch over you;
and when you awake, they will talk with you.
For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light,
and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life,”

Proverbs 6:20-23

 

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and from the Lord comes wisdom and understanding then I want to know these words, I want to live by these truths. The only way to do that is to first learn them, then apply them – to hear and receive and to humbly ask God to transform us by them.

When reading Proverbs 6 this week I was struck in two ways, as a child of God and as a mother. First as His daughter I read the words and received the instruction God gives to hear and keep them close. It’s an active part we must take. And it was followed with a promise, that His words and wisdom will lead us as we walk, go to sleep and wake up. He claims that these very words will guide us in life as both a lamp and a light as we walk with Him. The way of life itself is set by the teaching, correction and discipline He offers. He is a loving God, a loving Father, who wants to teach us what is best.

 

And it is His very heart that compels me, as a mother, to heed these words so that I can model and teach them. I hope and pray my boys will develop a love and hunger for the word of God for I know there is life there. As they see Jesus, learn the character of God and interact with the Holy Spirit in these words and in their lives they will be blessed. As they obey and adore God they will have abundant life. But just like leafy greens, it’s not always appealing. So I will strive to serve them a healthy portion of God’s word, I will model it in hopes that one day they too will taste and see the goodness of the Lord. I pray that they discover that just like correctly roasted brussel sprouts or asparagus in a sun-dried tomato alfredo sauce are scrumptious and easy to eat, that the word of God is also delightfully palatable and incredibly satisfying. And really Jesus is the bread of life, can anything be more delicious than bread!? Well, perhaps a donut.

PS this post reminded me of funny meme I saw a while back. 

Why I love the Word of God

A couple years ago I got to share with some women about the word of God. It was thrilling! Not because I had something profound to say but because I passionately believed that I had something life changing. I still believe it. It has and continues to change me.

Psalm 34:8 “Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him” (NIV).

Have you ever eaten something so good you want everyone else to taste it too? The Monte Cristo at Disneyland, and the corn dogs, SO GOOD!

Just like food, this word is delicious and I want everyone to try it. I think that once you try it you will want more. You will taste something so satisfying you desire more and more. And just like Psalm 34:8 says, it is a refuge and a blessing.

The word – the Bible, it’s a book, but  also so much more. It’s 66 books/letters written by different authors over 1,500  years. It’s the story of God’s rule and reign and plan. Jen Wilkin has the best description I’ve read in her book Women of the Word when she says:

“From Genesis to Revelation the Bible is telling us about the reign and rule of God…It speaks of creation, fall, redemption and restoration all throughout. It’s populated with different genres of writing – Historical Narrative, Poetry, Wisdom Literature, Law, Prophecy, Parables, Epistles – all conspiring to expand our view of the reign and rule of God.”

She explains that the metanarrative – the comprehensive explanation or guiding theme –  illuminates all others themes in a text. So knowing this big story guides and informs all the smaller stories. All of it helps us find the continuity between the God of the NT and the God of the OT. They are all talking about Jesus in some way or another (Wilkins, 53-55).

It’s truth, and a guide. Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path” (NIV). It’s truth and we can believe it. I once heard a preacher on youtube explain why he believed the Bible to be true and I just loved it.

“I choose to believe the Bible because it is a reliable collection of historical documents, written by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies, and they claim to be divine rather than human in origin.” -Voddie Baucham Jr

There are a few reasons why this is important. Being in the word is a way of knowing God and communing with him. John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (NIV). The word of God is a revelation of Jesus. Because of this I think it ought to be foundation for life for all Christians. It is in the word that we see, learn and apply the truth, commands, wisdom of God. It should shape our world-view and it should be the truth we cling to.

Ultimately we want Jesus to be what people see – the more that comes in the more He goes out.

“A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Luke 6:45, NIV).

I just want my heart to be full of Jesus!!!

So, how has it changed my life? In a few ways over time.

First, I grew up watching my parents. They both had a disciplined reading time every morning. Every time I wanted to believe the lie that it was too hard and I couldn’t do it I just had to remember that my ADHD mother and dyslexic father have been reading, studying and living it out for over 35 years. It is possible, it just takes practice. And they didn’t just read it, they have lived lives of obedience and submission to the wisdom and instruction of the word.

I wish I would have grown up following their example but it wasn’t until college when I chose to seek and really submit my whole life to God. Through a girl’s Bible study on campus I started meeting with the leaders and one day when I told her I just didn’t have time she challenged to set my alarm 10 minutes earlier and just get out of bed and read. She said it would change my life. I just did it because she said challenge…CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

God met me and convinced me of his love and grace through his word.

“For the word is alive and active. Sharper than any double edge sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitude of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12, NIV).

It never gets old. If you systematically read through the word then there are always fresh revelations because God is faithful and because I’m not in the same spot or circumstances of life I was last time I read this book.

I could relay so many stories of specific times God spoke to me. Sometimes it’s encouragement, sometimes correction, sometimes conviction, sometimes a instruction. Sometimes I read and I don’t hear anything specific but I can rejoice that it is true and that we are simply together and that perhaps the Holy Spirit will remind me of it at a later time when I need it. Either way it is good because it is of God.

So now is the perfect time to start! Life is not going to slow down, it is not going to be easier later. Make it a habit now. My mom always told me that if you don’t make it a habit now it will be harder to squeeze it in later, I’m not sure if she meant in the morning or that time of life, but I think they both apply. If you don’t make a concerted effort then it’s going to be hard to find time later if you don’t make it now.

Also, It’s not impossible; don’t disqualify yourself. If my parents and countless other believers around the world can do it then I am sure our good and gracious God will help you too! How lovely that our God is full of grace and wants to commune with you in His word.

God is faithful and full of grace. We don’t want to be legalistic about it. We do want to practice discipline and exercise diligence but we must remember we are not earning bonus points or love and acceptance. We do it to know Him better. And I believe He will honor our efforts.

“ ‘Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you . You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 29:12-14, NIV).

 So let’s ask God for a desire and hunger, for his word, for his truth, for his very presence.

“But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life”  (Jude 1:20-21, NIV).

 To be built up in our most holy faith we need to know who God is. We get that in the word of God. As we read, praying in the Holy Spirit will become second nature to us. I believe the more we’re reading the more we want to be in communication with him about what we’re learning and seeing.

My Prayer is the very words of Paul when he wrote to the to the church at Colossae.

 “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:9-14

 

So go, taste, see, enjoy, rejoice!

 

 

 

BibleReadingTogether2017


A new year with new beginnings! A fresh start. As LM Mongomery said in Anne of Green Gables, “Tomorrow is always fresh with no mistakes in it.” The anticipation of a new day in the new year has such promise and hope and I am always thankful for a new one.

As optimistic as I am, I am also fully aware that it will not be perfect. We are humans in a fallen world and there is surely failure, hurt and disappointment ahead. And that is why we need an anchor for our hope. Because the cares of the world will fight for our attention and time and head space, before we even get there I want us to be full of the truth and peace that God offers. So when life comes, we are ready and able to stand firm!

Thanks for joining me in this #Biblereadingtogether2017 I believe God will meet and speak to us through his word. I believe that he loves us so much that he will teach us, comfort us, correct us and transform us as we diligently seek him in the reading and studying of the Bible. I don’t know if you are new to this daily Bible reading or an old veteran, but I do know that no matter where we are that God is faithful to give us fresh eyes and soft hearts as he reveals himself to us.

As I’ve been praying about it this week I am sure that I want this to be about helping people enjoy and appreciate God’s word. I want to invite women into the discipline of Bible reading. I want God to meet us in his word and teach us his truth, righteousness and goodness. 

This year’s plan is similar to most my plans where we’ll go back and forth from the Old Testament to the New Testament. There’s no real rhyme or reason except that I chose books that I haven’t read since getting my new journaling Bible. I have it planned so that we’ll read one chapter a day. In the picture you’ll see the start and end date for each book.

My hope is to keep a pretty steady update on it with bible lettering via the blog’s IG account and to do a corresponding weekly devo on the blog. I would love to hear your thoughts on what we’re reading and learning; what God is speaking to you so feel free to interact via these mediums. 

I am so excited about this and will be praying for each of you as we continue through. Thanks for joining. May God bless you with His presence and may His Holy Spirit fill us and teach us this year!
Many blessings, 

Deborah Joy

Long Distance Love

Have you ever known something because you were told and taught it, but then you experience it and just like that the head knowledge becomes experiential and you realize your hardly knew what you thought you knew all along?

I grew up hearing a lot of things about God and the Bible and I believed them to be true. And sometimes, because I haven’t experienced it or find my self struggling with a concept or command I catch myself questioning if I really understand what’s being said.  

A couple of months when I was writing about growing like blueberries and understanding pruning in a new and comforting way John 15 made me consider “abiding” and reflect on how I am currently doing. 

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:9-11 (ESV)

The call to abide in God’s love caused me to evaluate my life in light of that command. 

What is abiding? How do we do it? What does it look like? How can I do it better? And how do you abide with someone you can’t even see?

I was instantly reminded of Gunnar and when we were dating. 

We met at Fresno State in spring 2005. I was finishing my last semester of undergrad and had already applied for grad school at San Diego State. He was in his third year of school and knew he had two more since he had two years of eligibility left for golf. We met at Fellowship of Christian Athletes, he was the president of the club and I was just going so my friend would stop asking. But once there I really enjoyed the study and was really impressed by the handsome leader. I started to hang out with the group more and was seeing Gunn all over campus. 

A month later we had dinner just the two of us since everyone else bailed one night then went to a local church Bible study. On the way home I thanked him for a lovely evening, asked him not to make a habit of buying my dinner and dropped a bunch of hints about moving and not needing a guy. Bless his persistent heart for not heeding any of it. 

We started dating in March knowing July meant long distance for two years. It was so much harder than I imagined! Saying good bye, moving to a new city while he got to continue life in Fresno. 

That first year in San Diego was hard. I volunteered to quit often. I was home sick and not even sure for which home. My parents’? Fresno? With Gunnar?

It was lonely. I worked 40-60 hrs a week, I was going to school and traveling with various teams as the athletic trainer. 
I had found a church that I could attend fairly regularly when I wasn’t traveling, but I wasn’t exactly making friends. 

I felt like Jesus and Gunn were my only friends and neither of them could give me the hug I so desperately wanted. 

I praise God for the new technology of texting that had recently started!
As the new school year started we started a routine of texting in the morning. Texting through out the day and maybe a phone call if we both had a few minutes at lunch. Maybe some more texting in the afternoon and then the first one ready for bed would call the other to check in, talk about day, what we read in the Bible that day, the plans for the next day. We would have a chance to talk through issues or miscommunications that happened that day and then we ended the night with prayer, where I would usually fall asleep and Gunn would call back just to say Amen.

In the first year of this we got to learn so much about each other. We talked about anything and everything. It was a time to learn each other- preferences, habits, communication and conflict style. 

The first year was tough, but as it ended it was clear that God had grown us in amazing ways; in our faith and in our relationship and communication. We asked each other a bunch a questions and wanted to hear the other’s opinion and feedback on just about everything. Did I mention I got a card in the mail every Tuesday from Gunnar? A note telling me how wonderful he thought I was, and how much he couldn’t wait to see me. It was the best!!!!

The next year was significantly easier. We got engaged that summer and the count down to not only see each other regularly but get married and BE TOGETHER began. 

Long distance was still hard but we got to learn more about ourselves and each other. We learned to anticipate each other’s needs and preferences. We got to be each other’s biggest fans and learn to say I’m sorry more often. We looked forward to every visit and every letter and every call and text. The anticipation was huge and exciting. 

That two year time was a tangible picture of what it looks like to abide. To draw near and learn, to know and love. 

I love that Jesus Christ came to earth and lived a perfect life that led many people to be interested in him. He died, rose and then went to heaven and there began the longest long distance relationship in the history of man kind. 

What does it look like for God’s people to abide? To pursue closeness, to communicate often, to learn God’s character and preferences. To ask His opinion and live for His best. To lay down your preference for the one you love. Knowing that His best is ultimately the best for me. 

Just like Gunn and I had June 23, 2007 to look forward to we have the wedding feast of Jesus and his bride, The Church, to look to with anticipation. No more long distance, no more misunderstandings or miscommunication, but real intimacy and closeness. 

As we wait we must be engaged in constant communication. Little conversations here and there, lengthy dialogue with God about things that matter. Getting to know his character, his preferences, his habits and communication style. Right now we have the opportunity to know and be known by him. He has written us letters! There is love, wisdom, truth and strength to be drawn as we meet Him in His word. 

And better than any earthly relationship we have his Holy Spirit in us. Meeting us where we are, speaking to us and empowering us to live a life of love. He tells us that it is by keeping his commands that we remain in his love and that is where our joy is made complete. 

So where am I? How am I doing at abiding? These are sometimes hard questions to ask when you know you are not thrilled about the answer. 

I am making daily time to communicate with Jesus, but it is often rushed and distracted. I am reading his word daily, but I’m not always putting forth the effort to understand it and apply it. 

Praise God that he is a God who changes hearts which then changes action. In him is forgiveness and restoration, always. I love that He offers us himself in every way. And the only thing we have to do is humble ourselves to say we want and need more. To repent of the distance we create and to re-engage in intimate communication. 

So as we live to make these truths realities in our lives may we continue to seek Jesus, to know him better as we wait for him to come and may we abide in his love, knowing that in it our joy will be complete. 

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