Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Day Like Any Other

Today was a day like any other day.

I woke up, safe and warm, to take care of my baby. She woke up simply because she had rested enough and she wanted to play.

I swept my hardwood floors, annoyed at the amount of dust, crumbs and little particles that had accumulated.

I went to the grocery store. I had carefully made a list the day before, but I put a few additional things in my cart without worry or fear of making ends meet.

I filled up my empty gas tank, sighing over ever increasing costs, but again without fear of making ends meet.

I fed my baby and put her down in her own bed in her own room for a quiet nap.

I took a shower, with shampoo, in a clean bathroom.

I folded a basket full of laundry and put things away in drawers and a closet already full of clothes.

I made my bed. A nice comfortable bed that I share with my husband who comes home to us every night.

My daughter woke up and asked for rice. I had rice that I could give her.

My husband came home from his job in D.C. and I made dinner.

We had two little gifts for Leilani to discover, bubbles and sidewalk chalk. She loved both.

Right now, she has at last finished roaming about the house while we chase her with spoons full of food, and is in a warm bath of clean water getting ready for bed.

It was a day just like any other day. A day of plenty. A day free from fear and worry. A day of smiles, cleanliness and love. A day that I could let pass without notice. But today I also have been reading the stories from Compassion Bloggers who are on a trip to the Philippines. What I read broke my heart.

It was a reality check to remember that my "every day" normal is opulence to most of the world. Whole families are living in squalid, tiny little rooms, hardly bigger than my closet. Mothers are struggling to feed their children, praying every day, not asking for grand futures for their little ones, but that they would just survive. Their babies wake up crying from hunger that can not be answered. They have no floors to sweep. Their is no money to buy food with. They have no gifts to give their little ones, not even a simple joy like bubbles. They have no jobs, no cars, futures and no hope.

Compassion International is changing that. One child at a time. Poverty can't be erased. There is no fix all solution. But there is hope where there was none before. The love of Jesus Christ is filling the empty void of an empty future, and Compassion is working to fill empty bellies, clothe bare little backs and help mothers take care of their children. There is beauty amidst the filth and poverty. There is hope.

Won't you be a part of that hope?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

NF and ST

I am back to having lots of pictures to post and things to say about them, a dead picture dumping computer, and a funky USB connection on mine. So no pictures and stories, and a reluctance to say things without pictures. Booyah I'm a committed blogger.

Whatevs. I'm going to post without pictures. Bleh.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Communication. Blows. My. Mind.

On Monday, Leilani was sitting on the bed behind me while I cleaned. And then she fell off, hitting her head and scaring herself rather badly. I held, rocked, kissed and comforted her as she wailed. When she calmed down, she leaned back in my arms and said "Dih yoo!" completely out of the blue. She said Thank You! Mindwasblown. All this week she has thanked me for everything. She complained and kicked while I changed her diaper, but after she was clean, she rolled over and as she crawled away "Dah yoo!" I piled her lunch on her tray and as she ate, she said "Dayoo!"  *tear*  It is really amazing and strange to be thanked by your one year old.

She also says thank you for me. She will hand me particles she collects off the floor with a thank you, she spins around with a "no no" item in her hand and hands it to me with a guilty "Dih yoo" and she will give me her toy to hold with a thank you as well.

She is learning to communicate so quickly, and frequently will surprise us with a new word that we never worked with her on. "Kihee" "Bahbee" "doh ee" and "Burhee!" were all exclaimed out of the blue, with a point at the object she was excitedly identifying.  By using a few signs she knows or by answering my questions with a smile or a point, we can figure out what she wants. There is a lot of fussing and crying still, but she is learning to use her words. I am so proud of her.

Friday, May 6, 2011

What Mother's Day Means to Me (this year)

Sunday will be my second Mother's Day as a mother. Or more accurately, a Ma-ma. Crazyweird feeling. Last year, the little lady that made me a Mama was just shy of 3 months old. I was in the midst of discovering what fatigue meant, and I still had no clue what this whole "parent" thing was about. Not sure that I have really gotten a hold of that yet a year later, but wow. God has sure been teaching me some things. This past year of learning how to be a mother has been really hard. It has been beautiful, but it has been really hard for me personally. I know that much of the difficulty stemmed from heart issues, and just a few weeks ago, I feel like I finally said goodbye to the biggest ones.

(This is going to be really long, so feel free to skip, but I need to make sure I don't forget. I keep putting this off because I can't think of how to say it all concisely, but I have decided to just do it. Longest blog post ever:)

Life came fast. I went from living at home, a student with no bills, full time job with a paycheck all to myself, to married, a homeowner renovating a condo and pregnant in one month. Everything that came was good, but in a few short months, I had tasted the bliss of freedom and had it taken away from me almost completely. I had started a life of happy self serving, a newlywed with no heavy responsibilities that I could not leave at my desk, I had just realized that "Hey, I feel kinda confident for the first time in my life" and life was swell. I had plans. I had dreams, but so did God.

I struggled so much this past year with learning to die to myself. With learning to give up my dreams and plans and timeline in favor of God's. A baby was completely part of my plan, but not in my first year of marriage. Being a stay at home mother was totally one of my dreams, but not before I had completed my college education and had a little bit of a career first. Just as I felt confident in myself for the  first time, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months, promptly lost almost all of it in 2 months and was left with a wider bone structure, and saggy momladyness everywhere else. I felt like I had gone from a blushing bride in my prime to a frumpy, weepy, stressed out and sleep deprived whacko before I had time to brush my teeth. I had no freedom, no social life, "no friends" and NO SLEEP and no time to learn how to be a wife before I had to learn how to be a mother. I got married before most of my peers and friends, but last year I got to watch many of them get married, set up their little apartments, and be newlyweds. Date nights, pretty dresses, paychecks and evenings alone with the new hubby? Not really part of my experience.  God must have been crazy. 

I struggled with that for months and months. I looked back and reminisced. I wished for a different timeline. I was thankful, but discontent. I was thrilled, but completely disappointed. I was excited, but utterly bewildered and at times, depressed. I thought I had accepted what God had for me, but was just having a hard time with the adjustment. Things got better as I slowly got the hang(ish) of things, but I never let go and died to my plans and dreams. I felt like I had lost everything I had wanted, by gaining everything else much too soon.

April 20th, exactly a month after Leilani turned one, I finally heard what God had been trying to tell me. It had been a long bunch of days weeks since I had sat down to open my Bible. I was feeling pretty good, Leilani was starting to sleep better, I felt a lot less bewildered with the whole mom thing, and I was starting to really accept this new role as Mother. I had a bookmark in Luke from reading a few months back, so I started there.

"Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat'? But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’" Luke 17:7-10

Bam. "Ruth, you always seem to need recognition for the work you do. You always need to make sure others are aware of the hard things you go through because you are not content to just serve Me. You complain and need thanks for doing the things that I have asked of you. You act like these things are impositions, but I have commanded you to serve, and love beyond yourself. You need to do everything as unto Me, and Me alone. I always see every little thing, even when no one else notices. Serve Me."

"Remember Lot’s wife. Whoever seeks to keep his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it." Luke 17:32-33

"Ruth, why did Lot's wife die? She died because she had been called out of where she was, but she looked back with longing."

We had just recently studied Colossians with our church group. Multiple times throughout this book, Paul spoke of how we as Christians have been called out of our old sinful way of living. I immediately thought of this when I realized that Lot's wife had been called out too. Many Christians have powerful testimonies of radical transformation, but I wondered what that meant for me? My life did not look radically different from a "previous way of living." Or did it? 

"Ruth, your old way of living, was a life focused on self. You had all the time you wanted to do whatever you wanted, to easily go about your days focusing on things that revolved around you. I SAVED you from your old life. Where you were was not where you needed to stay. Do not look back with longing at where you were or where you would have been had your life stayed there. IT WAS DANGEROUS FOR YOU. I loved you and so I brought you out of a life focused on yourself, and called you to live a life of service, sacrifice and loving others more than yourself. Every day. All day. For the rest of your life you will not be able to rely on your own strength. You must rely instead on Me. You have gained life by losing your life.

The chapter ended and I was blown away. I had been longing for a the way of life that God SAVED me from. I had never, ever thought of it like that. All the glamor of my "dreams" fell away to show me that my plans were not ones of Life. When it got down to the nitty gritty, they were plans of sloth, selfishness and reliance on my abilities. My bookmark was folded over to mark a few books down, and I got so excited when I realized that it was marking Colossians! I just knew that God had spoken and tied everything together. But no, it was marking the last chapter of Philippians, where a large portion was brightly highlighted from a previous study:

"More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,  and may be found in Him... that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus."

"Ruth, you know Me more deeply than you ever have before. If you had not lost what you valued, you would not have begun to gain Me instead. You are learning how to conform to My death, by dying to yourself. Press forward Ruth! Stop looking behind, forget it. I have given you an upward call. It is your prize and your reward."

Then the last verse: 

15 "Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you."

"Ruth, you have not had this attitude. In your heart, you have valued your freedom and comfort over knowing Me this year. You sing to your daughter a verse from Psalm 139 "Search me o God, know my heart... see if there be any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting." You have not been looking forward, you have been longing for an old way of life. I am revealing this to you "so that your joy may be full." KNOW Me Ruth, Serve Me, Love Me, this is the LIFE that I have Saved you for."

Mother's Day reminds me that I worship a Holy God. A Father Who is not content to leave us where we are. He calls us to be Holy because HE is Holy. Motherhood is part of our refining fire.

Mothers, this is our upward call. We have were saved from ourselves when God gave us little pieces of His heart to love and sacrifice for. It is not a life of poopy diapers, sleepless nights, frustrated tears, and unseen sacrifice. It is a life of giving everything up TO KNOW GOD. We gain Christ when we loose ourselves. 

I am so thankful.  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Embrace the Camera

Today I am participating in Embrace the Camera for the first time! Check out Emily's blog over at The Anderson Crew. She knows that moms are rarely in the pictures with their children, so every Thursday, she has challenged us to get in the shot with our littles, and Embrace the Camera!

Since I am a slacker, these are our Mommy Daughter shots from Easter. I need to get the rest of those pictures up before the summer arrives...

She was not in the mood to take pictures that morning, there were way too many leaves and birds and things to distract her. We were so thankful for such a beautiful day!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Justice and Mercy

Osama bin Laden was killed early today. Huge. This guy was responsible for the slaughter of countless men, women and children. He was the face of terrorism. As "Public Enemy Number One," his death caused much rejoicing and celebration. Justice had been served, and everyone was thrilled. Right?

"Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked," declares the Lord GOD, "rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?" Ezekiel 18:23

He was Loved with the same Love that Loves me. Jesus Christ died for Osama bin Laden. And bin Laden died utterly, utterly lost.  He died with his back to God. He died rejecting the sacrifice of the One Who came to save him. He never (as far as we know) repented, he never turned and took the hand of Mercy. Justice was served, but the mercy and forgiveness that was always held out to him was never accepted.

I am struggling to figure out how to feel about this today. He caused so much suffering. He deserved to die. But big picture, so do I, just as much. I feel like Christians forget that sometimes. We are every bit as lost and in need of a Savior. He was loved by his Creator. I think we need to remember that.

Just thoughts, don't really have closure to them.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Bein a Grandkid is Grand.

Today, my younger sister and I went to pick up some mulch, gardening dirt and fertilizer. It was heavy, dusty, expensive and smelled like poop. We took it to my Granny and Poppa's house and got to work in their little front flower bed, trying to turn their hard packed clay, into suitable ground for new azaleas. Did you know that all things do not grow in the same dirt? That dirt can actually be acidic or alkaline? I didn't. But now I do. And we did our best trying to make some alkaline clay into acidic dirt, since azaleas only grow in acidic soil.

We dug in the dirt. We squished spiders and worms. We didn't talk about anything beyond, "Oh hey, lemme hack at that, you can use the shovel now." And it was amazing. We got filthy dirty, streaking red earth all over our clothes and flip flopped feet. Tip: wear real shoes when gardening. We worked hard, and in the end their flower bed looked like a flower bed.

Then we went inside to wash our hands and Granny had made us a pile of grilled cheeses and some chicken noodle soup. The white bread, american cheese, salt water with noodles kind. And we split a coke and had ice cream after. No whole wheat, chicken or cheese substitute or low sugar to be found. I was a grandkid again, being spoiled by Granny and kissed by Poppa like I was 12. It was an afternoon out of my childhood and it totally made my week. I am so thankful to still have grandparents and to be able to spend time with them.