My Testimony

If there were such a thing as a "second conversion," this would sum up mine:

Too many Christians practice the disciplines of the Christian life with the intention of turning God's face toward them and inclining his heart to favor them. They forget that God has loved them with an eternal and infinite love. He turned his face from our sin when he placed that sin on his dying Son, but now he never looks away from us and his heart never ebbs in affection for us. Every act of providence is for our eternal good and flows from his infinite love. Communing with God in prayer, understanding his ways through his Word, and embracing his glory and goodness through Christian fellowship and worship are means by which enabling grace fills our lives. These disciplines of grace are nourishments of the faith that we need in order to act in accord with God's purposes. They do not force or leverage God's hand but enable us to see it, grasp it, and receive the blessings it provides. The Christian disciplines do not earn blessings but guide us into the paths where God's grace has planted his blessings.
In grace-based preaching, the rules do not change; the reasons do. We serve God because we love him, not in order to make him love us. . . .He releases us from the performance treadmill that (falsely) promises to provide holiness through human effort, but the effect on the heart is love that is more constrained to please him.
(Christ-Centered Worship<, by Bryan Chapell. pgs. 248, 242)


Oooh! I want!

Doesn't this look fun? It's a Step2 choo choo train wagon!


Quote of the Day

It's an NRO blog post, and I haven't even read the entire piece, but the metaphor is just funny by itself.

"Truly, these folks have the self-esteem of an abused pit bull."


Quote of the Day

"Some places are characterized by get-to’s and some places are characterized by have-to’s."

Which place is yours?

Yes, I'm Bragging.

It's not often I feel like a gourmet chef these days, for two reasons. 1) I have two children under three. and 2) I have two children under three.

But tonight's dinner was lovely, simple, AND used leftovers. Meet chicken and roasted vegetable crepes with goat cheese alongside spicy roasted chickpeas:

Dancing Metaphors

Some challenges are insurmountable, however grand our intentions. Whoever said "Put your best foot forward" didn't have two left feet.

"For I know that nothing good dwell sin me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out." (Romans 7:18)

It is such a mercy to fall on the grace of Christ. It is sufficient.


I Like This Thought

Doug Wilson has a post up about Lent--or, rather, about fasting in general, but in the context of the upcoming Lenten season. He helpfully defines a proper fast as "foregoing pleasure to make room for joy."


Some Days Just Hit You Like That

This is what happens when you pick up the rice canister by the lid.

I wish I could tell you I had no idea that would happen. . .but I probably should have said that before the first time. . .after which I diligently picked up and washed the whole mess. It's cooked and still sitting in my freezer downstairs.

I carefully swept it up, and Carolyn helped by sweeping (Read: scattering) my neatly-swept pile to the ends of the earth. Or maybe just the kitchen--it was hard to tell. Then she told Daddy what a mess I made.

(In case you're wondering, I threw it away.)

We've started encountering some of the "big" conversations. Carolyn told me very somberly this week that she didn't want to die, or for Mommy, Daddy, or Adrienne to die. Answering these two-year-old concerns is such a challenge to my own faith. You don't really know your doctrine until you've simplified it into words a toddler understands.

Carolyn is growing and learning so quickly that I often feel as if I scarcely know her now. She isn't a baby any more and, though she is in many ways still a toddler, she is more a child every day.

There's something bittersweet about rocking your two-year-old to sleep on the night she first confronts the coming-of-age ritual that is sleep without a pacifier. I relished the sweet baby that still needs her mommy's arms, all the while singing softly and thinking how this night would foster her further independence. What a paradox parenthood is.



One more from the weekend:


A Belated Birth Story

*edited August 16, 2011, to include details and thoughts I want to remember.

It's been nearly 7 weeks now, but in case anyone is still interested in Adrienne's brief birth saga, I'll share.

This was not an easy pregnancy. And it was probably worse because my first was so easy. I certainly knew in my head that no two pregnancies are alike, but subconsciously I must have expected to glide through the second as smoothly as the first. When that was not the case, it was hard for me to adjust my expectations and summon the necessary coping skills. Now that I know--for at least two of the discomforts that made this one difficult are all but sure to return with subsequent conceptions--I am hopeful and prayerful that God will grant me courage and strength to endure with greater fortitude. Being mentally prepared, I think, is half the battle.

Our predicted due date was Friday, Nov. 26--the day after Thanksgiving. Carolyn was 8 days "late," so I suppose it's no surprise that I was still pregnant on Saturday the 27th. My parents and my brother had arrived on Thanksgiving Day, but we didn't get the new guest room finished in time. So Carolyn slept in the pack-n-play in our room, leaving the futon in her room to my parents and the living room couch to Brian.

I started having contractions that were actually painful sometime early Tuesday evening (November 30). But they were short and infrequent, so I helped cook and generally continued on as usual. (Roast turkey served alongside Gingered Pumpkin Soup w/ Molasses Whipped Cream makes a fabulous pre-labor meal, by the way.) In addition to my parents and brother, my aunt was here for dinner, and Kevin was working on the house with our good friend Jim. So, being me and having an inordinate love of privacy, I didn't tell anyone that labor had begun. . .even when the pain became fairly intense and the spacing was close enough to start watching the clock (except Kevin, of course. I did tell Kevin, because you shouldn't keep secrets from your husband. Especially secrets like "we're going to have a baby tonight."). I know this bothers people, this keeping things to myself. And I'm sorry. Really, I am. It's not something I can explain easily, so suffice to say that it helps me. The introvert in me copes best with pain and pressure without extra attention.

Anyway, Carolyn went to bed a little late. The men worked late. The house didn't start settling down for the night until about 11, by which time I was having a hard time masking the contractions and confessed that we wouldn't be needing our scheduled "past-due ultrasound" the next morning. We settled into the living room for a few short hours, Kevin timing the contractions and bringing me sustenance, Brian providing distractions. (He's the closest thing I've got to a sister, you know, and he's priceless. Truly priceless.) By 2 AM, I was beyond ready to call the midwife. We'd been waiting because the timing of my contractions was not what it "should" have been to indicate imminent birth, but my legs were starting to shake and I was feeling as if I was in transition. . .which, as it turned out, I certainly was. By 2:50, we met Nikki, the midwife on call, at the birth center. She did a quick exam, found me dilated to 8 cm, and stepped out to phone in the nurse. (Because it is a freestanding birth center, there is no need for 24-hour staffing unless someone is in labor.) By 3:15, I was yelling for her to come back, and by 3:27, about the time the nurse arrived, I was back in bed with a baby girl on my chest.

I think Nikki would have preferred another 15 minutes, so as to have an assistant present for birth. Oops.

Adrienne was a compound-presentation, emerging with head and hand together. I almost laughed when Nikki said she saw a hand. Of course she did! I'd been feeling a small appendage jabbing my pelvic bone for months. In fact, at every appointment I was worried that the baby had turned breech, because I knew that was not a head I was feeling so frequently. Now we know that she is a die-hard thumb sucker and, no doubt, has been since conception. She was eventually documented as weighing 9 lbs 4 oz and measuring 22" long. Kevin--who had worked all day, before coming home to work on the house, before staying up to help his wife have a baby--was exhausted and went to sleep pretty quickly after we were settled.

Full of the adrenaline that comes immediately post-partum, I dozed a little between visits from the nurse and midwife to check on Adrienne and me. There was some delay in stopping my bleeding, requiring some medication. (I believe that the undue haste with which Adrienne finally entered the world was not best for me.) Also, Adrienne's heart-rate and respiration were elevated every time they checked, but would calm back down immediately. She simply didn't like being bothered. They were eventually able to record normal numbers by gently pulling the covers back and timing her breath manually, counting the rise and fall of her torso and watching the clock. I am so grateful they made the extra effort instead of bundling us off for further observation at the hospital, where we would have had to stay for 24 hours. As it was, we were released before noon.

If you haven't seen them elsewhere, here are a few other pictures from the birth-day.