Sunday, October 31, 2010

Home

Home.  Many things come to mind when I think about "home".  One thing I think about is where I am from.   I take great pride in being from the South.  Though I'm no southern belle, I identify with so many things and feel at home when in the South.  "Southern hospitality"  I didn't know what it was until I lived in a place that it didn't exist.  Back home, you drop in anytime to friends, family, church members, cousins twice removed from church members and most of the time you are invited in for a sweet tea and maybe even asked to stay for a meal.  People that aren't from the South look at you funny if you even ask for a glass of sweet tea. 

I also take great pride in New Orleans and call it home.  No other place celebrates life like New Orleans.  I'm not talking about partying and going to bourbon (that's mostly tourists).  New Orleans revolves around being together and celebrating every holiday, from Mardi Gras to birthdays.  If there  is even one reason to get together, from Saints games to city parades to graduations, a feast is prepared.  I could write a book about all of the reasons I love New Orleans.  Not only do they know and practice "southern hospitality", the food and music add so much to life and celebration there.

Home currently is South Florida and I couldn't call it home until I developed a few deep friendships here.  I remember clearly when this transformation took place.  As I drove back to Florida from New Orleans, I actually looked forward to returning home.  It took a few years for me to be able to call this place home, but now I do because of the depth of relationships that have developed.

If asked where I am from, I may name any of these places and tell you about reasons you should visit. All of these hold very dear places in my heart.  There is joy, peace, and comfort as I remember people, places, foods, and celebrations.  While they all have their place in making me who I am, they have all been temporary stops on a journey to my real Home.   While they are so important, the infinitely greater place is not where I am from, but where I am going.  Paul says it best,   "But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself." Romans 3:20-21

I fell in love with Psalm 84 shortly after I came to know the Lord.  I love it because I've never felt completely at home, completely at peace here.  A longing for something greater has always been in my heart. I remember the excitement I felt about being a pilgrim when I read this for the first time, one with a purpose while here but who ultimately belongs somewhere else.

How lovely is your dwelling place,
Lord of hosts!
 My soul longs, yes, faints 
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and flesh sing for joy
to the living God.

 Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house,
ever singing your praise! Selah
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the Valley of Baca
they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
each one appears before God in Zion.

Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed!
For a day in your courts is better
than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
Lord of hosts,
blessed is the one who trusts in you!



I have a hard time thinking of anything to say after that Psalm.  In awe, I can't wait to know this Home and see my Abba Father, feeling His touch, and being made whole in His presence.  It's awesome that each of these other places have reflected him and taught me about him, that they all fit together in what God is doing in my life.  While on this pilgrimage, it is my hope and prayer that I am not defined by each stop, but by where I am going.  I want to reflect my true citizenship, and by doing so live this life all the more richer and fuller.  

Wouldn't it be awesome if we fit in a little less with the world around us and reflected the image of our true citizenship?  How would our lives change, how would our churches change, what impact would Christians have on our families, communities, nation, and world?

So much to be thankful for:
141.  All of the places I've been able to call home.
142.  A Home that I cannot even begin to imagine.
143.  That Jesus is preparing a place for us and will come back for us.
144.  The great calling to live for Him and make this place a place of springs.
145.  The grace and power of God that accomplishes 144.
146.  My little pirate with crazy hair.
147.  Son and Daddy carving pumpkins.
148.  Rest for the weary.
149.  Saints football (hope they win tonight).
150.  Birthday celebrations with friends
151.  An awesome time of worship with the Chapman family at the Steven Curtis Chapman and Caleb concert.
152.  The story of God's grace that is so evident in the Chapman family and their ability to share it with all of us.
153.  God's heart for the orphan and the widow.  And ways that He provides and cares for them.
154.  People who are Christ's hands and feet to the least of these.
155.  The adoption I have received into God's family.


Aargh!


holy experience


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Stuck

To my right stands a mountain of tiny baby clothes.  Directly in front of me, another mountain of slightly less tiny baby clothes. And to the left,  a few bigger baby clothes.  In the middle of the living room, a pack and play.  The dining room, a car seat, an exersaucer, a bumbo, and a huge box of freshly cleaned bottles. I type resting on a boppy.

I sort and clean each item one by one, remembering stages of growth in my now two year old son.   Time has flown and I'm amazed at how quickly he went through each stage.  I anticipate and plan and look forward to our new baby boy growing through each stage.

He rolls in my tummy.  Kicking and jabbing, he must be practicing the M.C. Hammer.  I press back and delight to feel his movements against my own.  I'll see him in an ultrasound in two weeks.  I'll hold him in my arms a few weeks later.

My son Andrew, talks to Baby Brother and gives him hugs and kisses.  He observes all the baby stuff.  I wonder  at what level does he understand what's about to happen.  I praise him for his help, love on him with all I have, and tell him he will be a great big brother.

He clinches the charm I can't take off yet.  Tired and irritated, I tell him to stop touching.  "That's for Baby Ashlynn.  That's her letters," he says as he lets go.  I cry.  The grief that sneaks its head around the corner at the mention of the word "ultrasound" wells up and lets itself out.  I hug my little boy and tell him he will meet her when we get Home one day.

"Ultrasound" how exciting.  And so late in pregnancy, I've never seen one of my babies so far along.  Yet I heard the worst news of my life after an ultrasound and I have a terrible fear of bad news again.  My heart rejoices and aches as it tenses and releases within my being.

I'm stuck in a sadness, in a loneliness, and I hurt at what was and what might be.  I hope for so much more than what I fear.  I know my fears are skewed, are blown out of proportion.  I know One who is bigger.  I wait, I hope, and I trust in Him.

I just read this blog and was greatly blessed:
http://thegypsymama.com/2010/10/on-meeting-my-daughter/comment-page-1/#comment-7758

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gestational Diabetes

Last Friday I found out that I have Gestational Diabetes.  At first it was overwhelming and stressful with all of the information that I was given.  Being an unorganized person, I didn't think I could handle the rigid schedule of a strict diet (low carb), and counting carbs, as well as checking my glucose levels 4 times a day.  The initial stress has worn off and it's actually kind of neat to see how the food that I eat affects the glucose levels in my blood.

But now I am slightly overwhelmed again.  I have several appointments for the duration of pregnancy.  I went from routine checks to "higher risk" and that scares me a lot, even though I should probably not fear.  On top of that, I am highly irritable today.  Maybe due to all of the changes in my diet, I'm having some kind of withdrawal?  

Anyways, there's a brief update and request for prayer.  Thanks in advance.

For a brief overview of Gestational Diabetes
http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/gestational/

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

A few thoughts on leadership.

Something has gotten me thinking and praying.

Our church is searching for a new pastor.  What a tough place to be in.  To choose the man that is fit for our specific body.  The man that can lead and pastor us and lead us in the ways of Christ.

This makes one think about leadership and what makes a good leader.  Furthermore, about Christ and his ways of leadership.  As I see in the Scriptures, he didn't follow our typical mold of leadership.  Nor did he fit in during his day as the ideal leader.  Many were drawn to him, many more were turned away.  He cared not for religious practices, but for purity of the heart that would naturally lead to good deeds.  He spent his time with the outcasts of society, with sinners, lame, and destitute.  He served in humility and not in pride.  He did not come up with programs to fit every need, but said that he was to meet every need.  He did not conform to society, but called his followers to conform to himself.  I could go on and on...

It's easy to want a leader that will succeed in growing the church, a leader who is a powerful speaker, a leader who makes it seem that we all fit in nicely.  I think I prefer a leader who looks like Christ, one who follows His ways even though they may seem counter-culture, one who challenges me and our church out of
our comfort zone where we fit so nicely.

My prayer is for this man.  That Christ would shape his heart.  That he would hear God's call and that our leadership will recognize him when we see him.  I pray that he is a man led by the Spirit and by God's Word above all things and a man that can shepherd our church to follow Christ more fully.

"Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ." 1 Corinthians 11:1  (Paul, one of the greatest leaders in the Bible, points to Christ)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Giving thanks


"All that is gold does not glitter, 

Not all those who wander are lost"


131.  Boys pulling wagons, riding tractors, and picking pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.
132.  Learning how to use my camera and new lens
133.  God's grace and gifts to me and the empowerment he gives to use them.
134.  Hearing my little boy pray and then at the end shout in excitement, "I did it by myself!"
135.  Dinner out with my husband for his birthday.
136.  Fellowship lunch after church.
137.  Friends near and far that are easy to be myself around and talk to like picking up where we left off each time.  It's awesome not to have to go through small talk to get to the good stuff with these friends!
138.  The challenge to grow in my depth of relationship with God and in His Word.
139.  My husband's safe arrival after time away.
140.  God's faithfulness to always be with us.


holy experience

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hungry?

Malnourished, famished, parched, starving, thirsty.   


All words that strike in me reminder of a deep physical need.  My mouth is dry just thinking about it.  I've never experienced the extremes of these physical ailments, but I know it's bad enough to go even without one meal.  


Feast, full, quenched, nourished.


All convey so much in contrast.  Instead of hurt and longing, fullness and satisfaction.  From poor and pitiful to rich and jubilant.  In one since, the more hungry and thirsty we come to the table, the more we enjoy and appreciate the spread before us.  To truly be made full, we have to know we are malnourished and weak.



"But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just.”
 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, “Blessed is everyone who will eat bread in the kingdom of God!”  But he said to him, “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’  And another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’  So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’  And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’  And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled.  For I tell you,  none of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’” Luke 14: 13-24

I can think of many excuses that I might have said in response to the servant. In fact many excuses I give now to keep from truly feasting on Christ and God's Word.  I'm confident in the grace of Christ that I will be at the great banquet, but I know I miss out on the great feast that spreads itself before me even now.  As Ann Voskamp asks us to share about what it means to feast on God's Word, the first things I can think of is famine and thirst, of wanting and longing.  Complacency easily turns our eyes away from Him who said, "Come to me and you will never thirst again."  

Right now, for me to feast means to come again, famished and parched, and take that first bite settling into God's Word and seeking fullness that can be found in Him Alone. 

And Repeat...





holy experience


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Through the eyes of a child

To one, I have all the answers.  "What's this?"  I hear as I look down to see his bright eyes shining back at me.  "It's a pistachio, you can eat it."  He inspects it closely, "Pistachio?".  "Yes, it's good, try it."  He puts it in his mouth and grins, "I like it."


  

"What's this?"  I hear this phrase fifty times a day.  My son explores in wonder the world around him and looks to me to help him define it.  

One day I'll run out of answers and he'll be teaching me.  For now I'll be thankful that he doesn't test my answers or doubt my responses.


Often I think that if I would look at the world through his eyes, I might see more clearly.  With a brand new outlook on life, I would not be bogged down by doubt or by my own answers.  I would look to my Father in all circumstances asking, "What's this?" with bright child-like innocence radiating from my face and fully trusting His response to each question.  I would not even think about coming up with my own answer, but would ask Him for the answer.  

Somewhere we lose that child-like faith.  We stop looking and asking of our Father.  We make up our own answers, blinding ourselves to His.  Our sight, my sight, becomes dim when I think and act without coming to Him first in all things.  Unfortunately this is most of the time.

I pray for a renewed child-like faith that depends on my Abba Father and trusts Him in all things, gives me a clearer picture of the wonder of who He is and allows me to see the world as He defines it.


"At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, 'Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?'And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them  and said, 'Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.'"
Matthew 18:1-4




holy experience


Monday, October 11, 2010

A full heart

Thou hast given so much to me,



Give one thing more, - a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
~George Herbert


121.  A weekend full of friends.
122. Time to sleep in with my husband-very rare since becoming parents.  Our son played in his crib until 8:45 today.
123.  A patient husband who affirms his love to me daily.
124.  A patient Father who's mercies are new every morning
125.  Family day at the zoo.

126.  Boys camping, fires burning, and smores roasting.
127. Game night with friends.
128.  College football season.
129.  Books to read to my son.
130.  Drawing with my son.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Pregnancy after Loss Update

Today I finally updated my pregnancy after loss page.  You can link to it at the top of the page or just click here.

Today I received a rather strange and hurtful comment about this pregnancy and it has just gotten me into a pensive mindset so I  thought I'd focus that energy into updating my page.  You never know what kinds of things people will think of to say.  I think that it is just that they really aren't thinking at all.

I'm thankful that I don't get those type of comments to often anymore.  I'd like to write a whole long page about this, but don't know what to say, so I'll leave it at that.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

When our heart condemns us

"By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." 1 John 3:19,20

A constant struggle wages in my mind and heart more often than I'd like to admit.  Often my heart condemns me and I am beaten down by lies from myself.  This morning as I woke it was no different.  I was given the preceding  verse and find it's placement in Scripture interesting and comforting as well as motivating and challenging.  Why does a verse about self condemnation fit into a chapter and a book about love of the Father and love for our brothers?


"See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are." 1 John 3:1


I am a child of God.  What amazing love!  Can there be anything to take that away?  Not a chance! What an advocate!  If God is for us what or who can stand against us?  Not even ourselves. (Romans 8:31-39).  

Starting in 1 John 3:11 brotherly love shines through as an obvious sign that we have God's love in our heart. 

"We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers." 1 John 3:14


We know love because Christ laid down His life for us. 

"By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?" 1 John 3: 16,17

This love in action, a proactive love for our brothers pushes us through when our hearts condemn us.  Turning our eyes and our hearts outward and away from the lies of guilt and shame, loving our brothers comes from a love far greater than ourselves and yet springs from His Holy Spirit residing in ourselves.  How great an honor to give Christ's love to others, to walk side by side with our Abba Father in giving this love!  The act of God turning our eyes from self pity to brotherly love proves God is at work in us.  It shuts up the voices of self-condemnation and shows us how much bigger God's work in our hearts is in comparison to our own guilt and shame.

 "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him;  for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything." 1 John 3:18,20

My heart condemns me daily.  I feel bad and down daily.  I'm relying on God to work His Spirit and remind me daily of His love and grace to me.  I'm trusting Him to propel me beyond myself that I can see the needs of others and share this same love and grace given to me. Love that fills my heart and silences the voices of guilt and shame replacing them with songs of joy and deliverance.  I pray that I can remember this passage and cling to it being enabled to love in action and in truth relying on the grace and mercy of God my Father. 

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.   For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death." Romans 8:1,2


holy experience



Monday, October 4, 2010

Always giving thanks...

"Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise,  making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.  Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,  addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart,  giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ." Ephesians 5:15-21

I find the context of this verse interesting. It is preceded by the importance of living as children of the light rather than of the world (darkness) and followed by our roles to our spouses.  Nestled between two great challenges, it gives us a weapon to overcome the difficulties and our natural tendencies to fail at these two points.  In myself I cannot live as a child of the light, nor can I love and submit to my husband, but I do find that hearing the Word through fellowship with others, worship, and the acts of thanksgiving for all things at all times to God and through Christ makes the burdens light and enables me to live more and more as He has called me to as the Spirit speaks and empowers me.  My prayer is that God would draw me near as I wander often.

113.  Time away with friends and the dose of perspective it can bring.  A couple of friends and I were able to go out of town for the night and go shopping!!!  No boys of any ages.   I missed them and found it funny how much I talked about them, but it was refreshing to be away.

114.  The way rearranging a room makes it seem as if you have a whole new room.  My boys will be sharing a room so last night my husband and I moved things around to make much use out of little space.
115.  My husband's help around the house.  My growing belly means I need more and more help.  I'm so thankful for the way he loves me through serving even though he works long hours and serves a lot at the church.
116. My husband's tenderness to the Word of God and courage to take more and more steps to grow and lead our family.
117.  Baby Boy Tarplee's continued growth and entering into the third trimester.
118.  Andrew's affection and the way he kisses and hugs his baby brother by cuddling up to my belly and talking to him.
119.  That as Andrew plays with the charm I wear, he says, "That's for baby Ashlynn."  His memory amazes me.  The memory of the hope of her fixes my gaze on eternity.
120.  Stability that can only come from knowing my Abba Father and the instability in my heart that causes me to run to Him constantly and teaches me to depend on Him rather than myself.


holy experience
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