Happy

 A love of books…

 

 

An thrift-store gift bought for me by a sweet son “just because”…

 

Sunshine! High today: 60! High tomorrow: 68!!

 

Signs of spring

 

Itty bitty baby clothes…and growing anticipation…

 

 

Addendum to “ode”

I bought the crumpets, the double devon cream, and the lemon curd at Petty’s Fine Foods in Tulsa’s beautiful Utica Square, the closest thing to refinement that we have here in Oklahoma. I think, anyway. If there’s a place more refined I’ve never been there.

 

Not that that would be surprising.

 

They are called “Duffy’s Crumpets” which (and I’m sure no one could argue with me) is just like a carnival of fun for your mouth to say. But it’s even better if you shriek it in a high-pitched, English sing-song tea-time sort of voice.

Not that I did that. I’m just sayin’.

 

However, since gobbling them down like a swine consuming them with delicate grace, one pinky raised, I have been informed by my eldest daughter that you can, in fact, create these at home. Ha! Take that, Duffy! We’ll make our own! We’ll stage a coup! A great American crumpet revolution! No more buying from import stores at ridiculous prices! We’re tossin’ your crumpets into the Boston Harbor!

 

Metaphorically speaking, that is. And I don’t really want to stage a coup at this particular moment in time. I’m much too tired. Maybe later. I’ll get back to you on that. Put down your spatulas.

 

Anyway, I’ll be attempting to make crumpets at some point, simply because I can’t get to Tulsa just willy nilly, after all I have a life and responsibilities and I can’t be galavanting off to Fine Food Stores and high-falutin’ shopping centers every day like some sort of elite socialite just on a whim because I want some crumpets, for heaven’s sake! 

 

I think I broke my italics button.

 

I’ll let you know how it goes, is what I’m saying. Stay tuned.

 

An ode

Crumpets, ah! Crumpets! How you fill my soul with delight!
Your millions of tiny holes just make my heart take flight!
When I toast you, you get all crispy but you stay chewy inside
You’re better than english muffins or eggs when they’re fried.

I slather on the double devon cream that I bought at the fine foods store
If a little bit is good, then a whole gob, even more!
Then comes the lemon curd and oh! It soaks you through and through!
I’m afraid it isn’t healthy for me to love you like I do.

Crumpets, ah! Crumpets! I love to say your name!
I may not be properly British but I’m properly insane!
Refined and elegant, dignified and clever,
I’ll love how you make me feel forever and ever.

Multiplication

I am not enough.

 

Big surprise, I know. Why, then, do I continue to behave as though I can be?

 

My life needs to be scheduled and ordered, yes. But when I decide in my arrogance that I can supply all the needs (educational, spiritual, emotional, physical) of the myriad people in my life, suddenly joy goes on hiatus. I become resentful, frantic, and depressed. I wonder why God entrusted me with so much. I doubt His love in doing so and picture Him instead as a cruel taskmaster who smiles at my exhaustion.

 

“As dearly loved children, live a life of love, just as Christ loves us.” Eph. 5:1-2

 

Service is definitely part of the Christian life, don’t misunderstand me. But when it becomes the goal, it becomes an idol. It is not the life of love spoken of in Ephesians. It is pride. It is choosing to live as slaves rather than as dearly loved children, and thinking we are somehow superior when we do.

How do I find balance amidst the demands of the day? How, when I teach all day long and I realize there is still so much we didn’t cover? How, when I wonder if my encouraging words got lost in the mom-speak of getdressed-washyourhands-cleanyourroom-doyourmath-don’ttease-stopscreaming-timeforchores-eatyourdinner-brushyourteeth-getintobed all day long? How, when my prayers falter and stumble over the magnitude of the subjects?

 

The answer comes as a picture in my mind. Jesus, standing on the side of a mountain with thousands of listeners sitting expectantly at His feet. They have gathered because somehow they know His presence is more significant than schedules, and the priviledge of hearing His words is so precious that they ran out of the house without food for the journey. They are weary now, and hungry, but the news is bleak.

 

There is not enough.

 

The dismay grows palpable. The disciples fret and review their options. Jesus’ voice alone is calm.

 

What do you have? He asks them.

 

Five loaves. Two fish. Its insufficiency is almost laughable.

 

But Jesus does not laugh. He does not fret. He takes the simple offering and blesses it. In His hands it becomes enough. More than enough. Abundance.

 

What do you have? He is asking me, too.

 

I can only divide myself, my time and my effort. And in the dividing, in my own strength, it shrinks away to nothingness. The fruit shrivels before it is ripe. The harvest never comes. I am cold, frustrated, and bitter. But when I give it all to Him, it is multiplied. In His hands my efforts yield an abundance that defies logic.

 

So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 1 Cor. 3:7

 

I bring my meager abilities to Him, my efforts and attempts to walk this path He has set before me. It is absurd to think it will be enough for one day, and yet He takes it up with a smile. He blesses it. The prince of paradox takes my lack and stamps it with the shape of the cross. The minus becomes a plus.

 

a unique priviledge

Here’s the deal. There’s this little boy. He’s not yet 2. He’s had ten surgeries, none of which was minor. More than once he has defied the “this will be no big deal” expectation and instead turned a short hospital stay into a long one. He’s got what is known as a chiari malformation, tethered cord, and spina bifida. These conditions cause him to have migraines frequently. He throws up. A lot. Every day.

 

He’s also one of the sweetest little boys to ever come down the pike. His smile seems to eclipse the sun, and hearing him giggle is better than Godiva chocolate. He’s got a mom who is absolutely amazing. Her ability to focus on the positive continually amazes me. She shuns self-pity to a degree that I don’t think I will ever attain. She’s got six other children, many with special needs. She’s trusting God to carry her every day.

 

They need your prayers. Joshua is in the hospital right now, having had his tenth surgery a week ago. It was extremely intensive. Very painful. He’s not doing well. He can’t keep any food down, and he is in pain. A lot of pain. They need him to be off painkillers and holding down food before they send him home.

Kate wants to be home with her family. Her kids miss her. Her husband misses her. They are trying to hold it together without her, but any mom knows how…uh….variable that can be. Her oldest daughter, Megan, takes care of things while her dad is at work. She is as amazing as her mother, but this really needs to be finished.

 

Pray, if you would, please, believing that God does indeed have a plan for all this suffering and that He will preserve, protect, and prevail.

 

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

When we draw near to Him, He draws near to us. The Creator of all things bends low his head to hear our inarticulate wails. His ears are not made of clay, nor is his heart. His hand is not too short to save. It’s a priviledge to pray, and especially, today, to pray for Joshua.

 

Thank you.

 

Clarity

I’m taking a page out of this lovely woman’s book and starting each Friday I will try to post five pics of “happy things.” That is to say, things that make me, personally…happy. Reminding myself that happy is not a sin, a sign of shallowness, or blissful ignorance. If you have been with me any length of time then you know that I battle cynicism and not a little pessimism at times. I’m thinking that taking the time to document the wealth of beauty that surrounds me will help whup those twin devils.

 

Remember the dwarves in The Last Battle, by C.S.Lewis? I’ve been thinking of them a lot lately. In their final scene they sit at a bountiful, delicious feast that Aslan Himself has prepared for them. But they don’t see it. They pick up a goblet of the finest wine and complain about the trough water they have been reduced to drinking. They take a bite of gorgeous trifle and grumble that they’ve found an old turnip. In fact, they are convinced that they are in the middle of a dark, dank stable when in fact they are sitting in a bright and beautiful meadow.

 

How often I am like them.But the Scale-Remover still works His will in my life when I invite Him to do so…and today He delights me with

 

 

a picture of perfect peace

 
squirmings within that say I am here!
coconut cream pie homemade by a certain eldest daughter (note to self: taking photos of coconut cream pie at 8:52am is inadvisable, as doing so will cause desire to eat pie for breakfast.)

 

running water. Our hot water heater is broken, but how grateful I am for water, at my fingertips, at all

 

 

 

Anticipation. Faith. The substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Heb. 11:1

 

  

Pick a name, any name…

People, oh people. Lend me your sympathy. I’m driving myself crazy here. I am 33 weeks pregnant and have no name nailed down for this wee bairn. This is unprecedented. I’ve never gotten this far along without feeling very strongly that one name or another was “meant” for the baby. It’s making me nervous.

 

 

Middle names, yes. I usually make a list of favorites and after the birth it’s always been obvious which one was right. But it just doesn’t seem right to be adrift about the first name. **quiet sobbing** Talk amongst yourselves.

 

 

 Okay, so I’m better now. I’m just a little hormonal.

 

 

It’s not that I don’t have ideas. I do. But none of them just settles down into my spirit and says ahhhhh. home at last!

 

 

 Early on, given previous losses, I kept thinking of the scripture about storing up your treasure in heaven, and about learning that my children are not “mine” but His (which is a big subject and I’m not going to talk about it here because this is my eloquence-free day) but all that thinking led me straight to the name “Jewel” (as in a treasure that I get to keep here on earth for a change) which I really loved and was prepared to use immediately and even had me convinced that this baby was a girl because of it.*

 

 

 

Then the sonogram showed unmistakeable boy parts. I am thrilled at this, don’t get me wrong, but I do not think of “Jewel” as a boy’s name. So out came the geneologies and the books in an effort to find something else.

 

Boys’ names are like boys’ clothing. Compared to girls’, there’s a LOT less selection, and what’s there is not nearly as cute.

 

 

 

One problem is that girls keep stealing the boys’ names. Shannon. Kelly. Ashley. Lane. Dakota. Quinn. Darcy. The list goes on and on. I even know a girl named Evan. But the trend never, ever goes back the other way. In fact, studies show that once a boys’ name is hijacked for the girls’ team, within ten years it virtually ceases to be used for boys at all.

 

 

Then there is the issue of meanings. I want the name to mean something nice, literal or implied. For this reason, names such as Brendan (stinking hair) and Cameron (broken nose) are out, even though the more flowery interpretations tend towards “aflame/bright light” and “individuality.”

 

And then there’s My Beloved. He seems to think he gets to have an opinion too. What’s up with that noise? I do all the work and he still gets veto power? Last night I suggested the name Xavier. He looked like he had swallowed a bug. A bitter bug. He questioned the existence of such a name in reality. And then I obliterated him with my heat-ray vision.

 

I wish I really did have heat-ray vision. But I don’t.

I’ve been through the Bible, I’ve examined my favorite novels, I’ve scaled our family trees. And here is what I have come up with. Feel free to offer opinions, but mostly, just tell me…what would YOU name a sweet bundle of baby boyishness, if you had the chance?

 

Biblical names that I like

 

  • Hiram (exalted)

     

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  • Thaddeus (wise)

     

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  • Judah (praise)

     

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  • Isaac (laughter)

     

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  • Ezekiel (God will strengthen)

     

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  • Gideon (feller of trees/warrior)
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Family names that I like

  • Hiram (“”)

     

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  • Harvey (protector)…be nice…it’s my dad’s name…

     

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  • Martin (warrior)

     

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  • Gregory (vigilant/watchful)

     

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  • Lawrence (victorious)

     

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  • Dominic (belonging to the Lord)

     

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Names from books that I like

  • Edmund (prosperous protector) Chronicles of Narnia

     

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  • Atticus (from Athens…implying strength of mind) To Kill A Mockingbird

     

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  • Gawain (falcon) Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

     

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  • Alastair (defender/helper) Harry Potter

     

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  • Tirian (kind/gentle) Chronicles of Narnia

     

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Other names I like for specified reasons

  • Gem (an alternate to jewel, meaning the same thing but more manly)

     

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  • Jasper (ditto)

     

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  • Shepherd (this has absolutely nothing to do with a certain character in a sci-fi show. Nothing. Especially not that one. Okay maybe the other one, but just a tiny hair)

     

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  • Xavier (brilliant/shining…would go really well with Gem as a middle name)

     

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*Yes. That’s a really long sentence. You wanna make something of it? I didn’t think so.

 

 

Just add water

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. ps. 51:7

 

Lord, cleanse me! I pray. Wash away the dirty thoughts, the dirty emotions, the dirty impulses, the dirty words…

 

and yet the question lurks: if I am but dust; what will be left of ME?

 

If You wash away the filth, will I completely disappear, nothing left but a sludgey bit of detritus around the drain?

 

How terrified I am of truly losing myself in the Lord’s enveloping embrace. I want my relationship with Him to be one of side-hugs and quick pecks on the cheek…appearing affectionate, but remaining autonomous.

But He…He wants to envelope me. He wants to consume me. He wants to wrap His almighty arms around me and squeeeeeze me like I do with my two-year old.

But like a toddler, I squeal and run away triumphantly instead.

 

Except that I am least triumphant when I do.

 

If I am thoroughly cleansed by the Lord, if He truly washes away all that is worldly, I fear that I will be so transparent that nothing of interest will be left. And so I gather up new handfuls of dirt and spread it with abandon, trying to give substance to that which deserves none.

 

And yet He continues to pursue, arms open wide. He is not put off by my muddy hands, my smudged face, my chagrin at discovering yet again that ME stands for mean, melancholy, mediocre, medium…and mess.

 

I want to trade the dust for the divine. And I find that when I am still and allow Him to envelope, to douse, to deluge…that instead of extinguishing me, I become…

 

Clay.

 

Instead of disappearing, I take on new form. I am re-shape-able. Renewable. Useable. Fillable. An earthen vessel, yes, but with untold treasure within. His solidity displaces my shadow.

 

Psalm 103:10-14
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him;
As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, So the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.

 

Turn my dust into clay, Lord, through the watering of Your Word!

 

Lub-dub

By the time you were a mere speck of twenty-two days old, your heart was beating with your very own blood. Today, whenever you see a red Valentine heart, think about this…

  • The heart beats about 100,000 times each day (no wonder I’m so tired, I’m working so hard and I didn’t even know it).
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  • In a 70-year lifetime, the average human heart beats more than 2.5 billion times.
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  • All your blood vessels put together–arteries, veins and capillaries–would be over 60,000 miles long (that’s long enough to go around the world more than twice).
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  • The human heart can create enough pressure that it could squirt blood at a distance of thirty feet (all together now! Eeeeeeww!!!).
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  • The aorta, the largest artery in the body, is almost the diameter of a garden hose. Caterpillars Capillaries, on the other hand, are so small that it takes ten of them to equal the thickness of a human hair.
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  • Make a fist (do not punch anyone, it’s Valentine’s Day for Pete’s sake). If you’re a kid, your heart is about the same size as your fist, and if you’re an adult, it’s about the same size as two fists.
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  • Red blood cells are created in the marrow of your largest bones (and you thought it was just there to be icky).
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  • 55% of blood is plasma, which is straw-yellow in color. Red blood cells cause blood to be red (this has to do with oxygenation but that’s too complicated to get into right now, trust me).
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  • The average adult has a blood volume of approximately 5 liters. This entire amount is circulated throughout the body at a rate of approximately once per minute (hence the strength of the flow; see above “eew!”).
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  • In pregnancy, a woman will have 40-50% more blood in her body than while non-pregnant. Almost half of the extra blood is in the form of plasma, with only 20-30% being red blood cells, which accounts for anemia in pregnancy (and the fact that I always seem to need a sweater).
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  • The mechanical power of a human heart is 1.3 watts (what does this mean? I have no idea. But I think it has something to do with why the machines need humans for batteries in The Matrix).
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Pretty amazing stuff, huh?

 

Today I’ll be handed many bits of construction paper adorned with the symbol of a heart and the words I LOVE YOU. I’ll be thankful for each one, and file it away carefully. It’s just what I wanted! I’ll say. I don’t care how messy they are or how hastily put together; I treasure them. I am the Mommy, after all.

 

The heart has traditionally been viewed as the seat of the emotions, the essence of life, the dictator of destiny. “Follow your heart,”as they say. Shockingly, the Bible takes this unpopular view:

 

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…” Jer. 17:9

If I followed my heart, where would I be today? I shudder to think. How many times has it whispered lies? How many times have I let it dictate how I feel? How often have I been successful in weighing what it is telling me against the truth of God’s Word?

 

Search me, oh Lord, and know my heart. So David prayed, and I echo him when I ask that my attitudes, my responses, my decisions, be dictated by His unchanging character rather than my flighty feelings.

 

I want to celebrate Valentine’s Day every day by placing my heart, devoid of lace and glitter, clogged with carnality and the dregs of bitterness, squarely into God’s hands. On its beleaguered surface I will write I LOVE YOU…but what will be His response? Will He throw it away when I’m not looking? Will He laugh? Will He chuck it onto the pile of other hearts He’s already received?

 

No.

 

He takes it tenderly, and examines it. He doesn’t mind its condition, and in fact, in His hands it takes on a beauty it never had when it was under my care. He looks upon it like the greatest treasure He has ever seen.

 

It’s just what I wanted, He says.

 

And He means it.

 

He is the Daddy, after all.

 

 

A Lesson in Blessin’

At this very moment the magnificently talented bloggers of the incomparable Rocks in my Dryer (Shannon) and BooMama (Sophie) are flying to Uganda, Africa, with a group of fellow bloggers. They are going to be there for a week, working with Compassion International to try to convey the needs of the people who live there (and what is being done to meet them) to the world wide web.

 

 

 

I would have gone with them in a heartbeat except that flying to Africa at almost 32 weeks pregnant didn’t seem like a terribly prudent idea. Oh, and I wasn’t invited, but I’m sure that was simply an oversight on Compassion’s part. Right, guys? You would have asked me otherwise, huh? You just knew I’d have to say no, so you spared me the guilt, right?

 

 

 

**crickets chirping**

 

 

 

Ahem.

 

Anyway, as I was saying, this group of bloggers has been asked to go to Uganda to live-blog from Africa about the people, their way of life, and the relief efforts going on there through the Compassion organization. Their posts from here on out will probably need disclaimers along the lines of “warning: may cause sudden conviction and promptings from the Holy Spirit to change someone’s life for the better” but I hope you will check them out anyway. If they are not already on your personal regular reading list, I recommend adding them, pronto.

 

 

 

I am poised to hang on their every word, just as soon as their plane touches down and/or their sleeping pills wear off, whichever comes first.

 

My Beloved and I made the decision to sponsor a child through Compassion approximately ten years ago. We enjoyed the experience so much that we decided to sponsor another, and then a third. Our $32 a month for each one provides them with education, health care and nutritional support, safe recreational activities, and help in developing life skills for their future vocations. Most importantly, however, all of this is provided under the umbrella of uncompromising conviction that every child is precious in the sight of God and that providing care to the needy is not just a friendly suggestion, but a mandate from Jesus Himself.

 

 

And so besides the 3 Rs, the children are taught also about the unfailing love of Christ, and His good plans for them…something that I imagine is easier to grasp when your belly is filled, your future less uncertain, and your family no longer decimated by disease. Not only that, but through the letters you write to your child, you have the opportunity to encourage and support them personally. It means so much to simply say “I’m here. I care. You are not forgotten.” Their letters to us open our eyes to other cultures and give us the opportunity to teach our own (frightfully priviledged, by comparison) children practical ways to reach out to a hurting world. The children write of what they are doing, studying, and playing. They tell us they are praying for us and exhort us to read God’s Word. They tell us they love us, as we also do in turn. It is humbling and beautiful. Hand in hand the two go: help and hope, like faith and works, blended together so as to be as effectual as possible.

 

 

Many people, I suspect, have contemplated child sponsorship at one time or another. Perhaps you have, too. Perhaps you put it on the back burner for one reason or another. Perhaps at this moment you sense the Holy Spirit bringing it to the forefront and turning the heat on “high”…

 

He does that to me frequently.

 

There’s no time like the present to bless somebody’s socks off. And Compassion has many ways to go about it. If you want to sponsor a child then you can pick the country and gender of your choice, or you can let them pick for you (we always let them pick…there’s just no way I could do it!). If you want to make a one-time donation, you can do that too. Here is a list of all their giving opportunities. They have AIDS programs, Malaria programs, disaster relief programs, and much, much more. One of my favorites is the Child Survival Program, in which the most critically at-risk babies and children in some of the most impoverished areas of the world are given a chance at life. My heart crumbles at the thought of a mama having to watch her child die from something as preventable and treatable as diarrhea.

For you analytical, must-know-the-nitty-gritty types, here is a breakdown of Compassion’s financial status, as well as information on how they have continually been recognized as one of the most responsible and efficient charitable organizations in America.

 

Oh, and if you already sponsor a child, then you know exactly what a blessing it is. Maybe you could consider adding another child at this point? Or simply rounding up your $32 to $40 in order to contribute monthly to one of Compassion’s other outreaches? If you do already sponsor, would you consider going here and adding your link to the others so we can all read about your experience? You don’t have to be as long-winded as I am.

 

If your financial situation is not at a point where you can give, I hope this has not read like a guilt trip to you. The most valuable gift of all is the gift of your prayers, and so might I exhort you to exercise that option liberally in this area? Pray for the Compassion organization and for all those involved in helping the “least of these” because without prayer, our best efforts will be flimsy temporal things, and we’re aiming higher than that.

 

We’re aiming at touching the very heart of God.