Friends

Baby Shower – November 10

Bronce and I were shocked when we found out the employees at his office were throwing us a baby shower. I was thrilled they planned it around my schedule on a day when I could take an extended lunch to jet across town and be there for all of it. They had lunch, drinks, and a yummy cake set up in the conference room and it was fun to spend time with the folks who were able to pop in and out of the room during their own lunch break.

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One of the teams at the office pooled together to get us a big basket of goodies – it was full of tons of baby needs – hangers, bibs, blankets, lotions, medicines, and all sorts of odds and ends that will come in handy.

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  This was the only baby shower Bronce attended and it was great to see him getting excited about the gifts for our little one.

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Many of the employees dropped by for a few minutes to get some food and hang out with us.

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The girls laughed when I made them STOP cutting the cake so I could get a picture of it first! It was beautiful (and yummy). Check out the giant flower in the foreground with a plastic baby on it – like a cabbage patch kid!

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And a picture of Bronce and me… and the little baby. 🙂

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Baby Shower ~ October 24

One of the sweetest things about sharing with my girlfriends that I was pregnant was sharing in their joy for me. Immediately after they were done shrieking with joy, they began offering to throw me a shower later in my pregnancy. It warmed my heart so much when they actually began planning one! Many of my friends joined together to throw my first shower, held on a Sunday afternoon in October.

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I helped select the design for the invitation (done by my friend Sarah) and the girls carried the “B is for Baby” theme throughout the shower with the food (“C is for Cupcakes” etc.) and all the decor. It was an adorable theme and they executed it so well! (This invitation will be similar to the baby announcement we use when the kiddo gets here!)

My sweet hostesses were…   

Kindra Adams – When we moved to Nashville in 2004 Bronce and I met Kindra and her husband, Jason… they were our neighbors 3 doors down! We became fast friends and have been able to keep in close contact since we moved back to Knoxville in 2008. (picture below)

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Catherine Bobo – my mom’s best friend and the mom of my oldest and dearest friend, Robin. Catherine lives in Pennsylvania and was unable to be at the shower, but she loved me well from a distance.

Katie Boerema – a long-time friend from college and career (we were both pharma reps for Merck for many, many years together). We’ve stayed close even though we haven’t lived in the same town since 2003! She also offered to carry my camera all afternoon so I’d end up with some pictures – something she wasn’t super comfortable with but she did a fabulous job!! (picture of us together below)

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Jane Hanson – my mom 🙂 Since the hostesses were all from outside Knoxville, mom graciously stepped in to be the local coordinator. She did a lot of the groundwork and helped make the day incredibly special. (picture below, with Dad and Bronce)

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Sarah Pattison – She and her husband have become great friends of ours – we were in a couples small group together for years and our husbands are in a men’s small group together now. She offered her skills at graphic design (seriously… she’s amazing… check her business The Happy Envelope) to custom design an invitation for the shower.

Robin Redding – I’ve known her since I was a toddler, we grew up on the same street, our moms are best friends… she’s the dearest friend I have and I was so touched that she offered to help with the shower even though she lives 8 hours away and would be unable to join us!

The shower was held in the outside courtyard at Fellowship Church on a beautiful warm Sunday afternoon. The girls did an amazing job making the tables personalized and dressing up the food and gifts areas.

They had this awesome vase filled with white branches set up with a station for people to write down their blessings for me and the baby on little paper nests to be hung from the branches. Going through those notes later was the sweetest thing and I’ll treasure them in the baby’s scrapbook.

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Lots of sweet friends came out to share the afternoon. Jennifer is due to deliver a little boy, Luke, the day before my due date.

BabyShower_0015A group of friends came out from Fulton – Kathy, Olivia, Ashley, and Amber. It was fun to see them outside of work and I was touched by how far some of them traveled to come!

BabyShower_0039 Katie (due just a few weeks after me!), Sarah, Jennifer, and Mom. Notice that in the center of each table you can see mementos from Bronce and my baby years. Pictures, outfits, stuffed animals, etc. – all of these things were scattered around for everyone to enjoy.

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Mom’s good friend Cheryl (who made the baby a beautiful white afghan), Bronce’s grandmother “Mamaw,” Mom, and Kindra:

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Lauren, Melissa, and sweet little Nonavea…

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Dad designed this beautiful cupcake display after one I saw online. He did a beautiful job!

BabyShower_0009Robin really wanted to come to the shower (I insisted she wait to make the long journey once the baby is actually here!) so in her absence she sent this amazing diaper cake. Usually these are made with regular disposable diapers but since I’m doing cloth she made it out of burp cloths (which she personalized with beautiful fabrics and ribbons), washcloths, and bibs. This is one of the best gifts I’ve received in terms of practicality! It was beautiful and I hated to take it apart!

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Mom signed (well, stitched) this cross-stitch when she made it back in 1980 – the year I was born! It hung in my nursery when I was a baby. A few weeks after the shower she and I had it re-matted and framed and it will hang in my baby’s nursery, too. It’s still so beautiful!

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And of course, every shower involves the opening of gifts. Here are a few shots of the amazing things my friends gifted to me.

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This is one of those adorable hooded towels. It has a monkey face on it and is so plush!

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Dustin gave me these precious bibs – each is embroidered for a different holiday throughout the year (plus a cute UT bib!).

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Bumbo! 🙂

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It was a beautiful afternoon and I was so blessed by the turnout of friends and family. This whole season has been an amazing way to see those sweet friends and family that surround us and love Bronce and me so well.

Virtual Friends

I read a lot of blogs… like, seriously a lot. I’m currently subscribed (via Google Reader… the best thing ever, btw) to 123 blogs and at this moment I have 70 unread entries. Eek. (I’ll share the blogs with you at the bottom of this post because I think I’ll get that request at least a few times. And it will be nice to look back and see what I was reading regularly at this stage in my life!)

Okay… so why am I writing this? There are a lot of talented writers out there and there’s no reason that we shouldn’t be sharing each others’ writings around. Two people in the blogging world stand out to me in an incredible, punch-you-in-the-face kind of way.

I stumbled across an amazing blog post today and felt that I needed to share it. In reading one of my math sites, Ms. Cookie of Math Teacher Mambo, was talking about other blogs she reads outside educational resources. She was specifically talking about the perception of perfection and how shallow and untrue it is when we try to present ourselves that way. She said that she loves “other non-math blogs and check[s] them either daily, or frequently. On one such blog, I came across a link that AGAIN added to my pile of thoughts on this topic. From browsing her other posts, she’s an author and teacher and I picture her as seeming to have a ton going for her. Then you scrape a little deeper and see that she’s going through this gut-wrenching continuous heartache.”

The specific blog that she linked to and mentioned is called Finding Your Voice by Jennifer Lawler. The post is linked here. Warning – you will cry. Seriously. I know I’m pregnant and dealing with crazy hormones, but it will make you cry. And you’ll need to hug your healthy child immediately.

The second post you must absolutely read asap (with the warning that it, too, will make you cry!) is from one of my favorite blogs – Enjoying the Small Things by Kelle Hampton. Kelle is an amazing photographer whose favorite subjects are her two beautiful daughters. She and her husband were expecting their second child earlier this year and received a surprise when Nella was born. Read her story here and be sure to have some tissues ready.

Why do I love these two posts? Well, both these moms started writing these specific entries to deal with their own personal trauma and to process their thoughts on the surprises life has thrown them. They sent the blogs out with the expectation that some friends would read it, understand their struggles more, and gain some insight into their challenging stories. And what they found is astonishing.

Both wrote follow-up posts with their shock at how the blogging community (yes, we’re a community!) responded wholeheartedly. Jennifer was shocked when her blog received twenty-two thousand hits in one day. ONE DAY. Seriously, think about that. Imagine the outpouring of love she recieved – she blogs about her surprise in a follow-up post but make sure you’ve read the first one to get the full story.

Kelle shared her thanks in a sweet post where she discussed the “focus on life” perspective she’s using (she also talks about her camera, if you’re interested). Weeks later she would be featured in a story on CNN where she took reader questions.

I’m just floored that this weird internet thing could serve as a beacon of hope to so many people who think they’re alone in their struggles. I’m fascinated by the way people reach out to love each other (like the response Jennifer got about carnations for her daughter). Bronce doesn’t really understand the silly blogs I read – and many of them are just silly – but this world is moving along at a fast, virtual pace, and I like keeping up with it and reading about other women… amazing women… people who encourage me to keep writing and documenting and sharing the things that seem silly and personal but can be life-changing to others.

So… to those of you who have a blog. Keep writing! If you don’t… start! It’s so cathartic to put pen to paper fingers to keypad and pour it all out. Embrace the world wide web.

(I’ll put my listing of blogs in another post.)

a heart for orphans

The Lord is constantly pricking my heart with love for the unloved. I’m still selfish, greedy, and completely focused on ME, but in small ways He’s opening up my sinful heart to love others.

One of the most specific ways that’s happening is with the orphaned here in the US and around the world. It seems every time I look around I find a friend or friend-of-a-friend who is adopting internationally. I am grateful that Bronce and I both have the desire to open our lives and our home to children not born naturally as Rodgers.

We got an amazing glimpse of that when our dear friends and neighbors in Nashville adopted two incredible little boys a few years ago. In God’s perfect plan and beautiful irony, the boys are the spitting image of their brown-haired, blue-eyed parents. They didn’t set out looking for children that resembled themselves, but they have a striking family. Here’s the six of us together a few months ago:

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Man, I love those kids. And their hilarious parents. Oh, the trouble Bronce and Jason have created over the years with fireworks and sidewalk chalk. But I digress…

Bronce and I have watched as many of our friends have struggled with infertility and the pressures that brings to a marriage. We don’t know if that’s the path the Lord has marked for us, but we’re grateful that before that season of our lives even begins we already know that we have plans to adopt. Like our beautiful friends in Nashville, we would love to adopt multiple children – to keep a family of siblings intact, if possible.

But regardless we know that God has some kids out there who need our special blend of order and chaos – children who will thrive in a home filled with an organized dad and a procrastinating mom, with laughter and emotions and fantastically awesome grandparents nearby. I know the Lord is growing these two selfish “adults” into people who will love and care for His needy babies.

Anyway, these early morning ramblings were brought on due to a blog I just read. A friend posted the link to this website, which tells of the horrors of a children’s prison in Africa. It’s a reminder to me that the Lord loves these children more than any adult around them ever can or will. And it’s a call to pray, however the Spirit leads you.

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“Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.” Psalm 68:4-5

Stronger than me.

“But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior” Isaiah 42:1-3

I have a friend who is stronger than me. She has been through hell and back, and her faith is strong. Like, really strong. I’ve seen her deal with a lot of hard crap over the last few years, and her trust in the Lord has not wavered.

Today her mom died.

We’ve known for weeks that this was coming soon, but it doesn’t help the pain. She’s hours away – but I really want to wrap my arms around her and hug her till she can’t breathe.

L, if you’re reading this, I love you. You’re stronger than I could ever be. You have faced this challenge with grace and elegance, clinging to the Lord in a way I deeply admire. You have my deep love and appreciation, and I’m blessed to be your friend.

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Greetings from Tijuana!

I realized I never posted this! Darn! Here’s the first half of my Tijuana post. I’m not sure if I even created the second half of this, so I’ll post the first half and keep searching…

I just got home from the Mexico Reunion meeting… oh I’ve missed these kids! We talked some about how we view things differently here in the good ole U-S-of-A since returning from Tijuana, and it was an interesting time of reflection. I think overwhelmingly we were all amazed at how hard life is in Mexico, particularly in the area of Tijuana we visited. But talking about it and viewing a slideshow and video from our trip really made me want to put the trip into words. So, here I am. The much promised blog entry is being written. I’m not sure how long this will take, it feels like quite a work in progress. We’ll see.

Sunday, July 12

We all arrived at the church Sunday evening to drop off our luggage, make sure it fit the guidelines in terms of weight, and cover some of the last details before our journey began. At this point the evening was a wash of names and faces, as I was still trying to figure out who everyone is! I led a Senior girls small group this year but wasn’t very involved in the Sunday morning ministry to the HS students, so I signed up for the Mexico endeavor knowing very few people. It’s strange to think back and realize there was a time I didn’t know and love these kids…

Monday, July 13

We’re off! After meeting at the church around 10am to gather everyone, we had a time of prayer and devotion before loading in the bus. The first leg of our trip was driving to Nashville, where we would board the first of two planes. On the van ride there, I sat in the back row with Timmy, Jacob, Grace, and Lynae. The girls and I played Phase 10 nearly the whole ride. 🙂

Through the entire travel time – from the moment we left Knoxville to the moment we arrived back in Knoxville 8 days later – we were divided into travel teams. Each leader was responsible for tracking their 5 or 6 kids everywhere we went – it was much easier than doing massive head counts. We also coordinated paying for meals in the airport through these smaller groups. At right is a photo of my travel team, (left to right) Gabe, Grace, Stephen (yes, he always makes that face… you’ll see it as a recurring theme!), Lynae, me, and David.

We had a brief layover in Denver’s extremely crowded airport and began the third leg of our journey with a flight into San Diego. We arrived late in the evening to a large welcoming party of friends (Fellowship interns and new friends from Mexico!) ready to help us get across the border. After retrieving our luggage (praise the Lord, none was missing!) we piled it in (and on!) the vans and headed… nope, not across the border just yet! First we had a very, very important stop to make…

In-N-Out Burger! Yep! After a 14-hour journey, there’s nothing like a good, healthy dinner. Also, this was our last glimpse of American food before heading into Tijuana. Hey… does anyone know what happened to that goofy video of us singing the TJ song? Did Alex take it?

Anyway, after a FEAST of burgers and fries, we piled back in the vans to do the border crossing. It’s interesting that as you cross into Mexico, even at 11pm, you get nary a glance from the border guards. (Coming back into the US is a very. different. experience.) If only they’d taken a closer look at our van… can you believe they let this group of trouble-makers in? 🙂

Once we arrived we tried to take in our surroundings, but it was so dark we could hardly figure out where we were. Instead… we gladly unpacked sheets, blankets, and pillows… and slept.

Tuesday, July 14

One of the perks of the 3-hour time difference is when we finally woke up around 8am it felt like we’d slept in till 11am. Breakfast was a feast of Mexican goodness… eggs, refried beans, homemade and delicious flour tortillas (man, I could go for one of those now…), and the yummiest and spiciest salsa your tastebuds have ever craved.

Because we were starting the VBS and haircutting ministries Wednesday, we spent today “advertising” our arrival. We drove over to La Colonia to let the locals know we were here! As we met the adults and children, we gave them bags of rice and beans that we’d put together earlier at Pastor Albert’s church.

La Colonia is one of the most impoverished parts of Tijuana – and if you know anything about the poverty all over Tijuana, then you know that’s really saying something. It’s an old dump that has become a neighborhood, with houses clinging to the edges of the canyon walls as though they’re hanging on for dear life. The area is full of people with great need and with great hearts. I think we were all shocked to see this blue house – one of the largest and nicest in the area – but there are two signs to notice… the one on the right says “my house and me we will serve the Lord” and the one at the left says “Thanks Teneese.” That’s enough to make me sit down and soak it in… While I sit here in my beautiful home and type this blog entry, these people are in Mexico and are grateful for what I’ve done. It’s so humbling. And so nothing at the same time.

After we passed out all the food (which didn’t take long – once they realized we had come, they came to find us!), we gathered at the Rehab center in the middle of La Colonia to play with the kids. Lots more of that would come in the next few days!

Back at the orphanage we hung out for the rest of the day, playing sports outside in the sun (like basketball… which I’m terrible at! No kidding, ask Lynae!). I could usually be found inside gathered with kids around a table and dealing cards. Someone called me the Poker Lady, though we never played poker. Just huge games of Revolution, Spoons, Rummy, and other games good for large groups.

After a great dinner at the orphanage and a wonderful worship time with the youth, we went on our first journey to Calimax. The youth’s obsession with this Mexican grocery store is really something to behold. There’s no way they’d get this excited about heading to Kroger or Food City, we’re talking joy, elation, and some downright begging to go to this place. Now, I’ll admit… it’s pretty cool. And the pastry section is incredible! But still, they’re pretty goofy about it. Then again, I was ready for a nice cold Fanta myself!

Wednesday, July 15

I got up early Wednesday… one of my leadership responsibilities was organizing the food for our daily ministry outings. Though I got TONS of help during the day to put it together, only a few of us left in the mornings before breakfast to go get the food. This morning it was ham sandwiches for 320 people. The assembly line to put this together was pretty crazy…

After breakfast, we packed up in the vans to leave. Below you’ll see two pictures… the first is part of our group outside the orphanage – you can see how secure the place is – there’s a huge orange gate at the right that closes over the entrance at night. The courtyard at the left is fenced and topped with barbed wire. Security is pretty serious in Tijuana, even in the nice part where we were staying (all things are relative, that’s for sure!). The second picture shows just down the street to the right (you can still see the orange orphanage at the left). The fence at the end of the street is the actual US border! That’s how we got cell reception at the orphanage! We could see into San Diego over that hill and could still snag their cell towers.


I ran the haircutting team, which was quite an endeavor. I was blessed by the numbers of our youth who wanted to be a part of that ministry and weren’t at all freaked out by worries of lice and dirty hair. The first day was SO hot… we were in the sun all day without any shade cover, but they were champs! No complaints and they were ready to work the whole time.

We did about 100 washes and/or cuts that day, and had about 300 people total at the church that day. Aside from a few issues with water delivery it went so well!

David was really proud of his mohawk… I think it took like an hour, but it was an impressive haircut and the kid loved it!

After working in the sun all day, we returned to the orphanage to rest and clean up. That night we headed back to La Colonia to Pastor Albert’s church for an evening service. It was a little more charismatic than we were accustomed to, but it was a wonderful experience. Our worship band performed a few songs, some of the girls did a dance Simi had choreographed with them in TN, and then we sang some Spanish songs led by the church’s worship team. Adam did a wonderful job giving the sermon that evening, and it was great to see the interaction of our style and theirs.

On the way back we stopped at a roadside taco stand for the most amazing tacos I’ve ever had.

I Told You So.

I’ve really been struggling with the concept of “rightness” lately. With so much controversy in our country, from issues at in our homes, to disagreements in our churches and denominations, and magnified by the struggles we’re facing politically, it seems that our country at large is taking sides on a myriad of issues – and we all think we’re “right.”

I want to be right. Me. Personally. This chick over here. This comes as no surprise to many of you, particularly my patient husband. I’m defensive, argumentative, and opinionated. I cling to certain subjects as though they are lifelines and I can argue every side of these issues for hours. And I do. Given that honesty, I don’t think I’m alone in that. I mean, how many of you who are reading this can identify with that. (Honestly, there’s some comfort from knowing I’m not the only one, so let’s at least pretend you can relate!)

It’s an issue that permeates me at many levels. I feel that it’s a responsibility for us to know the truth and be able to defend it. But truly, it’s more that I’ve been defending my own opinions. 2 Corinthians 12:19 says “All this time you have been thinking that we are defending ourselves to you. Actually, it is in the sight of God that we have been speaking in Christ; and all for your upbuilding, beloved.” That verse presents such a challenge to me. Having an opinion is good! (Conversely, that doesn’t mean that all opinions are good.) Defending that opinion is good! But if I can’t couch that stance in the gospel, it’s worthless.

We live in a world where rational thinking is not always appreciated. For example, I believe that if I have a grown man standing in a field next to a tree, and I had to choose life for one and death for the other… the seemingly obvious choice would be to save the man and kill the tree (assuming I had to decide). Yet in this convoluted world we find that’s not always the “rational” or “politically correct” choice. We are pouring millions and billions (and trillions!) of dollars into global warming… yet there are people living in 3rd world countries whose lives can be transformed with just a few dollars. Why have we focused our efforts on saving trees and not on saving people? And, lest you assume I’m willing to trash this world because my focus is so firmly planted on the next one, that’s not true. I believe as Christians we have a responsibility to take care of the creation the Lord has given us… I just don’t think we should make it an object of worship. And, for that matter, it’s not just global warming. There is a host of causes out there that have successfully distracted us from Christ. Environmentalism, AIDS awareness, healthcare reform… these are all noble causes with good purpose that can easily distract us from true purpose.

We have made idols of all these causes. We push forward as though God needs our help with these issues, taking them upon ourselves as though we are the world’s saviors. When, in fact, we need our Savior to rescue us from our distraction. “When you cry out for help, let your collection of idols save you! The wind will carry all of them off, a mere breath will blow them away. But the man who makes me his refuge will inherit the land and possess my holy mountain.” (Isaiah 57:13) These idols are but dust in the wind. Generations before us had purposeful causes, and the generations after us will also find something to focus on outside the love of Christ. It’s one of many distraction techniques successfully employed by the evil one. Quite well, I think.

“They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.” (Romans 1:25) Misplaced praise and attention leads to a frightening lifestyle. Grab your Bible and keep reading that chapter of Romans for proof of that. We should stop trying to validate our sinful lives and behavior, and instead be overcome with the changing power of the gospel. I’m overwhelmed with this concept. My life must be about CHRIST. And if my life is about Christ, I will be obsessed with the things that bring Him glory.

I have a sweet friend who is struggling with living out her faith in her high school, and to me those challenges are the ones the Lord stands up and applauds. I find it hard to believe that He’s getting any glory from activists who chain themselves to a tree in an effort to save it. How about those amazing people in my life who feel called to figuratively chain themselves to another woman or man who desperately needs the saving grace of Christ? That is the kind of activism that I believe brings the Lord to His feet.

“Of what value is an idol, since a man has carved it?
Or an image that teaches lies?
For he who makes it trusts in his own creation;
He makes idols that cannot speak.
Woe to him who says to wood, ‘Come to life!’
Or to lifeless stone, ‘Wake up!’
Can it give guidance?
It is covered with gold and silver;
there is no breath in it.
But the LORD is in his holy temple;
let all the earth be silent before him.”
Habbakuk 2: 18-19

Lord, let me not strive to be right, but to be loving. Let my concern for my fellow man exceed my love for your creation. Let my actions and my words speak praises to your Name.

Prayer and Worry

This morning God gave me a glimpse of His purpose, a dose of His humility, and a reason to pray. Allow me to share this with you.

It all starts with my job stuff. As you know if you’ve followed my blog, I’ve felt the Lord pushing me down the path of teaching. However, getting my certification is a near impossibility right now. Long story as to why, but there are some subject-matter tests that are required for secondary education certification and I just can’t jump back into calculus-level math right now without doing some serious preparation. And even then, I’m not sure if it would make sense enough for me to pass the test. I’ve begun applying for some Pharma stuff in the meantime – it could be a few years before I’m able to figure out the teaching thing, and I’m awfully good at sales! Anyway, I’m so confused and I feel very much at a crossroads.

I have the privilege this summer of facilitating Beth Moore’s “Esther” Bible study at my church. This morning I spent a loooong amount of time studying and felt God slamming me in the face with a two-by-four… if He wants me to be a teacher, I’ll be a teacher, dang it! And I hear that, but I’m also so fearful. Although God is taking care of our household, Bronce and I have been frustrated with our financial situation lately. It’s the “not knowing” – I think we’re hitting the point of “fear.” I know that’s straight from Satan to get me to take a job that’s not right for me… and I just don’t know what to do. God’s timeline is not clear to me – teach NOW? (where? how?) or get another job and teach later? I’m praying but I’m also worried. And I know “Prayer” and “Worry” aren’t supposed to go together.

As I began reflecting on the word “worry,” God started speaking some answers into my heart. I just wrote a lengthy card to a girl – sort of a friend-of-a-friend, noone I know very well. To preserve her anonymity, I’ll just say that she’s pregnant and found out the baby has some significant problems. It can’t live outside the womb and will probably not live long in utero either. Yet she’s gone against her doctor’s suggestion and refuses to terminate, trusting the Lord to do what is His will. WOW. I mean, seriously… WOW. I cannot even imagine being in that situation. So since I heard about her situation last week, God’s been LAYING her on my heart. I mean, the kind of “laying on my heart” where it’s pressing in, elbows and feet, and I can’t breathe when I think about what she’s going through.

So today I sat down to write her a card. It’s not much, I know that, but it’s all I know to do. And I’m praying over scripture to give her and God sends me to Matthew 6 – the part about Him taking care of the sparrows. So I’m sitting here, writing this card, meditating over that scripture, and trying to imagine what it would be like to have such a huge and pressing problem – something that must drive her to her knees dozens of times a day – and reading the part of Matthew where it says God cares enough to clothe the grass of the field, yet she’s dealing with this unbearable weight. I can’t even begin to fathom understanding God’s tender care while balancing it with a crisis of that magnitude, yet we’re told just that.

“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith!…So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:26-30, 34

Fast forward… the card is sealed and I’m sitting at my desk thinking of my own problems. WHAT?! How can I even call my issues “problems” when I know someone dealing with an issue like that? God has such a profound way of humbling us at the height of our personal pride. I read this in my lesson on Esther this morning:

“We tend to detach from sights and situations that make us feel badly about ourselves – especially when we feel powerless… Here’s the trap, however: If we distance ourselves long enough from real needs, we replace them with those that aren’t… The more detached and self-absorbed we become, the more we mistake annoyances for agonies. It happens to all of us.” (p.92)

Now, me being without a job and unsure of my future is surely more than an “annoyance.” But compared to the unimaginable difficulties around me, it’s hardly an “agony.” So in the course of the last two hours, God has turned my wailing into humility. I can have faith that He is doing something amazing with me. I have no idea what it is! But between the two paths I’ve witnessed today, I’ll gladly choose this one. And I won’t stop praying for my friend, because that’s a pain that requires us to petition the gates of heaven on another’s behalf.

Absent Motherhood?

I’ve been exchanging emails with a friend who is about to move to another state with her husband. She’s an attorney and has been trying to decide what to do career-wise once they move. They’ll no doubt be very financially stable due to her husband’s career and the job waiting for him, but she is challenged with desiring to contribute to the household income and her fear of becoming an “absent mom.” In response to her comment the text below is part of my email. It’s a brief summary of the things I’ve been dealing with lately and taking before the Throne.

I totally understand your comment about not wanting to be an absent mom. God’s really been working with me about that lately. Over the pass 5 years He’s tossed all my expectations on their heads and I’m now coming around to the idea of working… some… while having kids. We just keep waiting for the “right” time and I feel like if we’d just start and figure it out as we go along then we’d find that it wasn’t that big of a deal all along.

And I think pride is one of the reasons I’ve been so convinced I need to stay home… but really, who cares? There are BAD moms who work full time and there are also BAD moms who stay home full time! The difference is the caliber of the mom herself and her ability to balance things and place her children in the proper priority position. We’re not going to start trying to have kids right now, but I’m getting to the point that I don’t have to have everything precisely planned out in order to think about it.

Actually, a lot of this came about from a pregnancy scare we had a few weeks ago. In the midst of it I started realizing it wouldn’t be that big of an issue if it had been true! It just so goes back to expectations and whether I’m willing to be CONTENT or always looking for the next bigger/better thing.

Speaking of that whole concept… our small group was amazing last night. We started in on the scripture passage we’ve been studying and took this wildly huge detour to talk of the economy and trusting that God’s in control and deciding about contentment. Some of the things shared…

  • one member of our SG got great advice that BEFORE kids you and your spouse should decide how big of a house you want to raise your kids in. And that’s IT. Never get bigger than that just because you can – use any other moneys God blesses you with to turn around and bless His kingdom.
  • another person talked about Rick Warren (author: Purpose Driven Life) and how he and his wife realized they were going to be financially sound after starting Saddleback church… each year they challenge themselves to give away a bigger percentage of their income. They are currently giving away 95% of their income. 95%!!!
  • John Piper and his wife decided early on what amt of money they needed to live on to be financially secure. Only accounting for inflation they have never gone above that figure and now that he sells millions of books they’re still living on the amount they originally settled on.

These and so many other things challenge me that in this desperate time we’re living the Lord is NOT off the throne and He will see us through. My only problem with everything is ME, not the world around me. I’ve been so blessed!!! But am I content to live within those means? And truly that’s where I find fault. I can blame it on the world for tempting me with all these fabulous “wants,” but ultimately it’s ME and my desire for more that is the problem.
Just some thoughts. I’d love to hear your take on these issues!

Ironically, I found out about a week later that this same friend is pregnant. It shines a whole new light on our conversation to know that she was actually struggling with this in the context of expecting a child. I’m so excited for her!