Monday, July 27, 2009

He Keeps Me Singing

I guess I would consider myself a singer. Or at least, one who loves to sing. My parents tell me that I was always singing songs when I was little, usually while in the bathtub. My singing continued through the years of high school chorus and show choir, praise team in college, and as an adult, church choir and the occasional Sunday special. Although I would never consider an audition for American Idol or anything else that would put me in front of a camera, I just enjoy singing. I like singing silly kids songs with Abigail, and top 40 hits on the radio, and show tunes....oh, I love a good show tune. But most of all, I love singing songs to Jesus. About Jesus. Hymns. Choruses. Love it all.

There are times, however, when a song escapes from me, maybe while I'm in the shower (not much has changed since I was little), and I realize I haven't sung in a while. I thought that today, as I began a song and felt it maybe had a few cobwebs on it. Oh, I sing the hymns in Sunday morning church service. I sing with other people. I just mean those songs that are, you know, inside. Today's song felt rusty...tired...but good.

It made me think about why it felt that way. Why has it been a while since I've belted out in the shower, or the car, or while cooking in the kitchen? Why has my song been stuck? Then I thought of the last few weeks, of how tiring they have been. I thought of the moments we've spent next to Jean's bed, watching her body seize up in pain that we have no control over. I thought about the baby that grows inside me, who I love so much, yet am so afraid to get attached to so soon. I thought about my weary husband, doing his best to care for his mama and his wife and his daughter (because the wife is feeling too yucky to have the energy for the daughter). I thought about the things that camp out in my mind....anxiety, stress, weariness.

And then I remembered a verse. It was first pointed out to me in our spring time Beth Moore Bible study. I have since come across it in my Bible, and pondered.

Job 35:10 says, "But none says, Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night?"

Night. We all have moments. Probably a lot of us are going through "nighttime" moments right now. I would be silly to think I was the only one! I'd also be silly to say that all of my current moments are "night" ones, but there are a few that stick out. I think my song had been stuck in the night. It had been stuck inside where I feel my breath has been held for weeks, maybe longer. When that praise song, simple and pure, escaped from my lips today, I realized that God has given me another song in the night. A song to remember His goodness. A song to recognize that He is mighty.

What about you? What songs has God given you lately in your "night"?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Things I am Looking Forward To

I think it is a nice thing to have plans in your schedule that you are looking forward to. When there are so many things that get mundane, like doing laundry or paying bills, it is exciting to have little breaks in your future weeks and months that give you something to circle on your calendar. Here are a few of mine:

1. Paul's birthday. He will be the big 3-1 on August 8th. And, I forgot to mention to you all that a story I submitted to Homelife magazine has been accepted for publication sometime next year (possibly March or May). They are sending me $75 and I am super excited. I think I may use some of this money to take my honey out to a nice dinner for his birthday. Or we may renew our license plates. Which is no fun at all, but you know, kind of a legal matter.

2. Bachelorette weekend. I have two best friends from high school who I still keep in touch with regularly. One of them is my friend, Alison, who is getting married September 12. The other is my friend Megan who lives in Wisconsin and I only see about twice a year. Megan and I are bridesmaids in Alison's wedding, and we are taking her for some bachelorette fun in a few weeks. I can promise it will be fun, and it will not be raunchy. Megan and I are about the least raunchy people to be throwing wedding fun, and will therefore not have anything decorative shaped like a you-know-what. Because that is just gross.

3. Trip to South Bend. For the time being, we tend to take mini-vacations. We have dreams of big long vacations on beaches and cruise ships to exotic places. But for now, we have bills. And therefore, we go for weekend getaways. Our friends Allan and April live in South Bend, IN, and we are going to visit them in late August for a couple of days and go to the beach at Lake Michigan. We will pretend we are somewhere exotic, and I'm sure have a super time.

4. Alison's wedding. Coming this September to a small town near you. I am one of two aforementioned bridesmaids. And Abigail is the flower girl. I will be wearing a strapless chocolate brown dress. This may be shocking, but I have never worn a strapless dress. Crazy, I know, but I'm kind of excited about it. Abigail will be wearing lavendar. She asks on a weekly basis to try on her "purple princess dress." And if you remember the sweet flower girl she was nearly a year ago in my brother's wedding, I'm kind of looking forward to seeing this again:

She's a year older. And she's ready to throw some flowers.

I really can't believe that summer is flying by so quickly. I don't even have a kid in school yet, and I feel the press of wanting to do all the fun things before fall weather sets in. I can't imagine when we actually have a school schedule to stick to. But for now, we will just pack as many fun little things into our calendar as we can, and enjoy these warm days. And hopefully remember to take lots of pictures.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

These Are All Bad Things

I'm trying to keep a positive attitude. I'm sure my husband would disagree, as he has had to watch me pull myself through the house for the last week. Between the whatever it is that has camped out in my ear, nose, and throat, and feeling like I have been on the verge of throwing up for three days straight, I haven't exactly been the happy camper to live with.

And let me say, when one is not feeling good, these are a few things you just don't want to hear:
1. A few days ago, Abigail was washing a lot of her little babies and plastic toys in the bathroom sink. I figured I would be cool, and let her do it, pretty much because I don't have the energy to argue anymore. However, I noticed that the lids to my contact case looked wet. I said, "Just remember you don't ever play with Mommy's contacts."
To which she replied, "I only put water in it."
This would not have concerned me so, if not for a couple little facts, like I was wearing glasses at the time, and I have gas permeable contacts that cost over $80 each.
I opened the case, and sure enough, only one contact was intact. In all my hormonal fury, I proceeded to freak out and lecture about how much my contacts cost, and was she planning to pay for them (which I know is a futile argument that is lost on a 3-year-old)? To her credit, she played with them over a stopped-up bathroom sink where she was bathing her toys, so I did find it floating around in the bottom of the water. Praise Jesus. And sink stoppers.

2. We had gone to the library in the pouring rain this afternoon to find her a new slew of books and movies. I was pretty proud of myself for dragging my pukiness out in the rain, but of course, Abigail did not realize the sacrifice. When we got home, it was nap time for us both. When she woke up, she came into my room and asked if she could watch her Blues Clues video from the library.
Let me just add that I sorely miss Blues Clues. It was deleted from our cable programming, and probably all cable programming over year ago. I think it is truly good kid's tv, and I guess we just caught the end of the Blues Clues train. I can tell Abigail has missed it, too.
So, like any good, exhausted mom, I continue on with nap, mumbling that I will put it in in a minute. Minutes pass....quiet minutes. Next I know, Abigail is running excitedly in my bedroom, saying, "Look, Mommy! It's has a handle just like a purse!" And by handle, she means a good chunk of the black VHS tape containing Blues Clues data. And by purse, she means the cheap, orange plastic shape of the Blues Clues VHS....the library's Blues Clues VHS.

Don't panic. Mommy fixed it. Abigail cried at my leaping out of bed, saying "No, no, no, nooooooooo." But she is currently watching it on the tv, so I did okay, I guess.
And this concludes my essay on things I don't want to hear when I don't feel good. The end.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

What a Week

The week started off good. Pretty normal. We began VBS, which I love. I find it to be an incredibly exhausting, but truly fun and rewarding week. Paul and I went for an ultrasound on Monday. We saw and heard a little heartbeat, and baby had almost doubled in size.

Then, Tuesday morning, Paul got a call that his mom, Jean, was passing. She has been dealing with stage IV breast to bone cancer for about a year and a half now. We don't know what happened, but she was totally out for almost all of Tuesday. Hospice was called in. Many signs pointed to this being the time to say good-bye. Paul was there all day. I drove to Indy Tuesday night and spent about three hours at the nursing home with Paul and a few of his siblings. We stroked her hands. We moistened her mouth. We cried.

Then yesterday, I woke up at my friend's house where we were staying feeling awful. Aching all over. Sore throat. Awful. Paul went to be with his mom, I stayed in bed all day. This was not part of the plan. I wanted to be with him, not in my pajamas in a bed that was not my own. That afternoon, my friend who Abigail was staying with called to say that Abigail was throwing up after her nap. Great. Home we go.

But yesterday, too, Jean woke up. She felt groggy, like she had lost a day. She didn't know why her kids were there all together. They had to tell her what happened. She has been awake all day today as well. We have been on an emotional ride this week, not understanding all that put her into her state on Tuesday. She did have a couple of infections that are now being treated. For now, it seems, we have her back.

Now, what do I write from here? Of course, we are happy to have longer with her. I was thinking earlier today that God has already appointed His day to take Jean home, that it is not dependent on us, on what medications we get for her, on how quickly we act. Medical advances are a wonderful thing, and we are thankful that her life is being prolonged, but we know that God still has a day for her. It just was not now. It has been a heavy week, knowing what to say, what to do. I hated that I have been sick when I wanted to just be with Paul. I did realize that I haven't even worried about the baby this week, which for me is good. I was so focused on these other things, I just prayed to God that He would protect the baby and let me do what I needed to do, be where I needed to be. It has been a freeing feeling to not worry about that, too.

Anyway, that's our week. I wish I had a little wrap-up or story or verse to share. I think my brain is just so tired from all of this. I hurt for my husband, for his siblings. We are a tired family, and once again, God has faithfully surrounded us with His love in times our spirits are so tired. And for that, I praise Him.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Sam's Legacy

We lost a dear man from our church this week to a battle with cancer. Sam's battle started about the same time that Paul's mom's did, so it feels like both families have journeyed down this long road together. He was a deacon in our church, and his son is our worship leader.

I never had much opportunity to know Sam well in the two years we have been here. Health challenges between his wife and him kept them from church a lot, and he was diagnosed with cancer after we had only been here about six months. We knew each other enough to exchange pleasantries when we saw each other, and to talk about how he was feeling.

There were many things I did not know about him, though. Like, I didn't know that he used to teach the couples Sunday School class that I am now in. I never heard his testimony, though I heard it was a good one. But many, many people in our church were touched by this man's life. He was a butcher at the local grocery store for all of his working years, so really everyone in this small town of ours knew him on some level.

I do know, however, that he left a legacy. He had a family who adored him. He pointed his children toward Christ. Children in our church prayed to ask Jesus into their hearts with Sam's leading. Our church family has many stories to share of how their lives were enriched by him.

It got me thinking about leaving a legacy. Sometimes that may seem like a grandiose feat. But when you think of this man, this butcher, in this little town, who loved his family and showed them Jesus in his daily living....I am encouraged. I am encouraged that maybe we are all doing better than we think we are. That even our weak moments as parents, spouses, Christians....that our lives matter more than we know. God uses us, in our little towns, in our little churches, with our gifts and abilities that seem small to us. They are not small to God. They are significant and meaningful. There are so many ways to change the world, or at least our little corner of it. Sam did it by carving meat, by loving his family, by loving his church, by loving Jesus. Now that he is gone, passing one day before his birthday, and less than a month after his 50th wedding anniversary, we are encouraged...sad, aching, but encouraged that hopefully we can leave a legacy, too.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Land of Nod-ding Off

I am a sad, sorry little blogger. This is the longest span of time I have gone without posting. It just wasn't in me last week. Let me catch you up, even though I'm guessing most of you already are.

I'm pregnant. About six weeks. I found out about a week and a half ago. As you can imagine, I've had a crazy mix of emotions over the last several days. I want to be excited. I want to be wistful and happy. And I am. Really.

But I am also aware. Not so much scared, but very aware of all that "could" happen. All that has happened before. I don't want to proceed so cautiously. I want to throw open the doors of my excitement and welcome this news joyfully. And I will. But I think it will take time.

So far, things have looked good. We had a couple of timid days last week when my hormone levels were doing funky things and we couldn't see anything on an ultrasound. But today we went for another ultrasound and saw a tiny little dot with a tiny little flutter of a heartbeat. I can't believe you can see a heartbeat on something with no human form yet, that is no more than the length of a grain of rice. But it was there.

It was bittersweet. I was so glad to have something positive to cling to, but I remembered the last little heartbeat I saw on a screen, too. I don't know that I will ever forget.

Don't get me wrong, friends. I am so happy that this has happened. It is all that we have been hoping for for several months now. I'm just cautious. And tired.

Last week, I was reading Psalm 77 in one of my darker moments when things weren't all pointing to the positive. God totally spoke to my heart through this psalm! I had been singing a song we learned at the Southern Baptist Convention meeting a couple of weeks ago:
We will remember
We will remember
We will remember the works of Your hands
And we will stop
And give you praise
For great is your faithfulness

This song had been in my head for days, and I had just been telling myself to recall the faithfulness of the Lord. Psalm 77 spoke these same words, and then encouraged me with this:

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;yes, I will remember your wonders of old. 12 I will ponder all your work,and meditate on your mighty deeds. 13 Your way, O God, is holy.What god is great like our God? 14 You are the God who works wonders;you have made known your might among the peoples.

Friends, there are not too many times in my personal prayers that I am in all-out physical praying to God. But here I was on my couch, tears streaming down my cheeks, hands in the air, asking God to be the God who works wonders in my life. For, honestly, no matter what the outcome of this pregnancy, what god is great like our God?