Saturday, December 5, 2009

Climbing My Everest

I must admit, the view is beautiful from up here. The journey was incredibly difficult, frustrating, and overwhelming, but now that I'm standing on the top, I feel complete relief. I look back over my shoulder and down the path from which I've come and stare amazed at the things I've endured along this journey. For me, Jon's education comes as close to climbing Mount Everest as anything else in my life has yet.

Six years (actually seven, counting the year we before we were married) is a long time to wait for something. I wish I could say that I handled each hurdle with poise and grace, but unfortunately, the opposite is true. This educational journey has not shown me my strengths but rather revealed my weaknesses. Most of these weaknesses were unknown to me before the start of this expedition, and it took a lot of pride swallowing to admit that, perhaps, I didn't have as strong a constitution as I once believed I did.

Until recently, I really didn't understand why I had to go through this ordeal. It made no sense to me to have my husband earn an expensive degree that in no way guaranteed a better job in the end, especially when doing so required the expense of precious family time as well.

The reason for it all, I believe, was not for the degree itself (at least for me), but for the character-building that naturally accompanied it. No, I'm not perfect now as a result of all of this. I still can't cook well; I can't clean house at all; and I am very much prone to losing my temper. But this has forced me to recognize and admit my shortcomings and has spurred me on to improve. The verse that came to mind over and over was from James 1: "If anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach." I truly lack wisdom, but God has been ever gracious to supply me with His understanding as I've turned to Him in times of distress.

I cannot say that I would choose this path again (okay, in all honesty, I would never wish this on my worst enemy), but since this is the path that God clearly chose for me, I am glad that He has shown me my own littleness so that I could learn more of His greatness. I hope that I do not soon forget the lessons that I've learned.

I also know that this is probably not the last Everest that I will climb. With job hunting now on the horizon, with three growing children under our roof, and with many other, unseen excursions ahead, I know that I'm not yet "in the clear." But my hope is that the character training that I've done on this Everest will carry over to help me as I begin the next mountain in life.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Several people on Face Book have dedicated their statuses to stating reasons for which they are thankful this holiday season. I loved the idea but never got around to doing it myself, so I thought I'd put down a few things here on my blog. Of course, I am thankful for my husband, kids, home, family, etc., and I don't mean to belittle these wonderful gifts, but in this post I'm going to list a few "less obvious" things for which I praise the Lord.

I am thankful for:

Flip flops: two summers ago, Jon and I house-sat for my parents while they vacationed on the coast. While we were there, Jon realized he'd forgotten to bring his flip flops. While it wasn't the worst thing in the world, he really wished he had some summer shoes. When my parents got home (we were staying a few extra days after their return), they had brought each of us a gift from their vacation. As my mom handed Jon his present, she said, "We didn't know what to get you, Jon, so we bought you flip flops!" If anyone has ever wondered whether or not God is concerned about the small things in life, here's the proof. Jon still has those flip flops.

Spare change: a few Saturdays ago, I was hunting through the house trying to find my little bag of quarters so that I could purchase a newspaper the following day. While my mom usually gives me her newspaper coupons, I wasn't going to see her for a while and really wanted that particular set of inserts. I never did find the bag of quarters, but after hunting through my purse, I came up with 85 cents. After rifling through cupboards, pen drawers, and the car, I couldn't find the rest of the needed 15 cents. So I prayed that the Lord would help me find a quarter. As much as I searched, though, I didn't come up with any more spare change and went to bed. The next morning before church, I decided to check my purse one last time, even though I'd hunted through it at least three times the night before. There in the little change pocket, was a quarter! Why the Lord chose to answer that small plea, I don't know, but I knew for sure that He was listening and caring for me by providing such a seemingly-insignificant thing.

A break in the rain: Lauren woke up early from a nap a few weeks ago, so I carried her around on my hip while the boys were still sleeping. Looking for quiet activities to do with her, I decided to go out front and check the mail. I had completely forgotten that it was rather dreary out, but I was instantly reminded of the fact when I stepped out onto the back steps and saw the rain coming down. I didn't want to take Lauren out in the rain, even for a few seconds, just to get the mail. I was about to turn right back inside when suddenly the rain stopped. We dashed out to the front, grabbed the mail, and had just ducked back under the carport when the rain resumed. It were as if the Lord held back the rain for a few moments just for us, and it made me smile the rest of the day.

These may be quite simplistic things to be thankful for, but they each meant a lot to me at the time. After reading Corrie Ten Boom's "The Hiding Place" and seeing all the things for which she praised God, such as a pillow case, colored saran wrap on a light bulb, fleas, and other things, I realized that there is so much to be thankful for, and not just the obvious blessings that we usually think about.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

More on Couponing

I've received lots of questions about my Frugal Finds post, so I thought I would add a little more about my couponing strategies and what does and does not work for me.

First of all, I found myself wasting lots of time hunting through my stash of coupons, so after reading a guest post on about the use of a coupon binder, I decided to make one. Since I couldn't justify spending $27 on something designed to SAVE money ($27 was the amount that the blogger spent on her binder), I used Target gift cards and Extra Care Bucks at CVS to get my supplies without spending any money out of pocket.

Above is my binder (which is still greatly a work in progress). It's even purple on the front (not shown). I like all the nifty little pockets on the interior - scissors, pens, cell phone, receipts, etc. I'm still working on organizing all of my coupons into categories, but I'm finding that putting all items of one type into a page, such as baby, bread, breakfast, etc., is working the best for me. Although I have single-sleeve pages for my store names, the rest of the pages are baseball card holders. If I have several of the same coupon, I'll put them all together in one slot and use a magic-erase marker to write "x2" on the slot. If a coupon is nearing its expiration date, I'll note it in magic marker.

Yes, it's taken LOTS of time to organize this, and it still needs improvement, but it's also saving my sanity while shopping with three little ones in tow. I currently take the whole binder into the store with me, but once I'm more comfortable with couponing, I plan on simply moving the coupons for that week into the single sleeve of whichever store I am visiting and only take that portion in with me.

Oh, and an update on my coupon-collecting habits: I no longer clip EVERY coupon I come across. Gasp! Well, since we don't have a dog, there's no need to clip any coupons for dog paraphenalia. I also don't use hair color (though I may be persuaded once I start showing hints of grey), makeup (my husband hates it), or protein powder (you'd be amazed at some of the coupons I've found). If I know that I won't buy the item for any reason - free or otherwise - I just toss the coupon.

I do find it hard to resist a good deal on an item that I would dearly love to have but don't usually purchase. I'm getting better at resisting, but if I find I can't leave the item at the store, I may try clipping coupons for only items I routinely buy.

I also sign up for as many freebies as I can. I do it for two reasons: the freebies are often for healthy and/or organic items or for items that I commonly use, and they nearly always come with a super-priced coupon for more of the item. It seems like a win-win situation to me! Plus, it's fun to get something other than bills in the mail, wouldn't you agree? (Just a note: although signing up for freebies requires your phone number, I have never received a telemarketer call from any legitimate offer.) If you do choose to apply for freebies, I highly recommend setting up a junk email account for such purposes. That way, in the event that you get spammed, it won't clog up your usual inbox.

I'm also going to look into Swagbucks at the recommendation of a friend (thanks, Elissa!). If I understand it correctly, you can earn "free" money to such places as Sounds good to me, but I'll write more on that when I learn more.

Happy saving! May you all have a restful Lord's Day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Isn't it Obvious?

Recently, I've come across the John 21 passage where, while out fishing, the disciples encounter the Lord after His resurrection. They were out laboring all night without any catch for their efforts. The Lord directed them to cast the net over the other side of the boat. They did so, even though at the time they had not yet realized it was Jesus Who was speaking to them. The incredible yield was 153 fish. In verse 12, we learn that they did not ask Jesus Who He was, for "they knew it was the Lord."

Sometimes, things occur in life that are so inexplicable in human or scientific terms that we know instantly that only the Lord could have performed them. There is no doubt that He is the One orchestrating these events, and they leave is in greater awe of His majesty than ever before.

For me, the days and weeks following Jon's surgery come to mind. I thought I knew exactly how the Lord would choose to meet our needs while Jon took time off of work to recuperate. He had accrued a week's worth of paid vacation (so we thought), and the previous month had had an extra pay day. While the extra pay check from the earlier month was an enormous blessing, the paid vacation fell through. Instead, the Lord graciously met our needs above and beyond what we could have imagined. My mom came to stay with us while Jon was in the hospital, and she brought with her ingredients for over a week's worth of meals. Other family and friends gave us gift cards, brought meals, provided childcare, and helped out financially. I was amazed and humbled at the ways the Lord used so many people to bless and comfort us!

I also know that there are times when it should be obvious that the Lord is behind something, but I fail to recognize His hand. Occasionally, I will realize it later, but I know that in some situations, I've completely neglected to thank Him for His provision. For these instances, I can only ask forgiveness and pray that I will continually become more sensitive to seeing the obvious.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Frugal Finds for Frugal Finances

Several people asked me how I save money when purchasing groceries and household items. While there are many, many blogs and websites out there that offer tons of saving strategies and frugal ideas, I thought I would share what works for me. My situation is a bit different than most of the online forums, and I know that a lot of you are in my boat. What sets lots of us apart from the rest of the frugal world? Location, location, location. There is simply no getting around it: the Bay Area, LA, New York, DC, etc. are some of the most expensive places in the US, and grocery prices reflect that. Below are some of the strategies that have helped me to consistently slash my grocery bill in half or more.

1. Find an online blog or forum that lists out weekly deals and coupon scenarios for stores in your area. I like (Thanks, Stephanie!). Caution must be used with these, however; I often discover that a Target store in the Midwest is having a deal that mine doesn't offer. So, just because the online info says there is a deal to be had, shop with an open mind and realize your deals may not be quite as good as others are getting.

2. Once you find your preferred blog (and only choose one! Otherwise, your monetary savings will be spent in time wasted on the internet), limit yourself to just a couple of stores. If you buy chicken on sale and Nob Hill and Hamburger on sale at Safeway, you'll spend your savings on gas to get from store to store. Not only that, but I've started noticing that if chicken is on sale at Nob Hill one week, it will be on sale at Safeway the next. This brings me to my 3rd strategy:

3. Stock up! If an item is on sale that is either non-perishable or can be frozen for later use, buy lots! Then you won't have to pay full price if you run out when there is not a convenient sale to be found.

4. Purchase a Sunday paper for the coupon inserts. There are usually 3: SmartSource, RedPlum, and P&G. If you buy a paper from a stand each Sunday instead of having it delivered to your door, you can shave a few cents off of the cost. Once you have your coupon inserts, clip out ALL coupons, even for things you don't normally purchase. Why? Two reasons. One, you may find a deal where you can get an additional item for free when purchasing the item you don't usually use (as long as you are truly saving money by doing this!), and two, you can either give away the item you don't use or you can use it as a gift. Coffee comes to mind in this situation; I hate it, but my extended family love it. So if I can get it for free or close to free, I'll use it for a Christmas gift.

5. The online forums will often give you links to printable coupons. If you have a printer, these are great ways to save money. Try to print as many coupons on one sheet of paper as possible (to save on paper costs), and only print coupons for items you buy since it does cost a few cents per print.

6. If your stores of choice have coupon cards, such as Safeway, link your card up to online card coupons. Amazingly, if you upload a manufacturer's coupon to your card and then print out an identical manufacturer's coupon, you can often get the benefit of both on a single item. Check out for more information and to find the coupon upload links.

7. Skip Walgreens. Just forget it. No matter how good the sale may be, I've found Walgreens to be nothing but a waste of time. You can only use one coupon per item (thus you cannot combine manufacturer's coupons with store coupons); items are usually over-priced; some RRs are item-specific (such as buy Sally Hansen nail polish and get $3 RRs for another Sally Hansen purchase instead of $3 off of any type of purchase) but are not listed as such in the flyers; you cannot use a coupon that is for more than the cost of the item (I tried to buy a candle for $2.50 and wanted to use a "Save $3 on a candle" coupon but the cashier would not allow it); and the service (at least in my area) is more despicable than Wal-Mart!! But, perhaps, this is only true of my area's Walgreens.

8. Become familiar with all of your coupons. I've found many deals that are not listed on the online forums just because I know what coupons I have and then I spot a store sale for a coupon item.

9. Remember to take tax into consideration. I pay 9.25% state sales tax, and most of the time you have to pay for tax on the original item price, no matter how inexpensively you snag it. I've gotten "free"candles but still have to pay the tax, and since candles are not something I normally buy, paying the tax on them is an increase to my usual spending. I hope that makes sense...

These are my grocery-purchasing strategies in a nut shell. As I mentioned before, there are TONS of web sites dedicated to this stuff that spell it out much more eloquently than I did! A few of my strategies are a little more in tune with higher-cost-of-living areas, though, so I hope to inspire those of you who, like me, live in one of the most upscale areas of our great nation. It's still possible to achieve great savings, even if we cannot get a table-full of groceries for under $6 like some people can.

All of that said, here are a few other tips I've found to be helpful when trying to cut spending:

1. Don't buy plastic food storage containers. Do you buy yogurt or sour cream? Save the containers once you've eaten the product. Do this long enough, and you'll collect a whole cupboard full of stackable, plastic, disposable, convenient containers! Just a tip, though: take a sharpie and put big "X"s on the empty ones, so your spouse will know that a container does not necessarily contain what is advertised on the outside!

2. Don't buy cleaning products unless you can get them for free by combining coupons and sales. Just use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda to clean. You'll find lots of cleaning recipes online that use just these ingredients, along with a touch of Dawn soap, and the results are a better cleaning agent that's safer for kids and pets than the usual name brand stuff.

3. Remember that newspaper you bought for the coupons? Use the rest of it throughout the week to clean windows, mirrors, etc. instead of buying paper towels.

4. Make your own laundry detergent. Online, you'll find recipes for both liquid and dry detergents. If you have a washer that's over 30 years old like I do, only go for the liquid stuff. My washer just can't clean well enough anymore to use the powdered.

5. Check out "The Tightwad Gazette" from your local library for lots of frugal ideas (thanks, Julie!).

6. Bake your own bread. All of it. Biscuits, loaves, rolls, etc. Some of you even make your own tortillas, something I've not yet tried. If you despise the thought of kneading all of that dough, figure out how much it would cost to make it from scratch and subtract that amount from the cost of purchasing it pre-made from the store. Then look up the cost of purchasing a KitchenAid stand mixer with a dough hook and see how many loaves you would have to make from scratch in order to save enough to afford the mixer. If you are diligent, you can actually pay for a mixer and get the benefit of both the mixer and fresh, homemade bread! (With the mixer, it takes me 5 minutes to make bread. Not too bad!)

I know that many of you are already doing these things and more to help stretch your dollars and to be the best stewards of your God-given resources! Feel free to add on to this list - I am always looking for more ways to save!

Monday, September 14, 2009

For Those Who Have Been Asking and Praying

Many of you have asked how Jon is doing, so I thought I would post another update. He is doing incredibly well, thanks to everyone praying! While he is still susceptible to headaches, the chronic headaches have completely disappeared. As his sinuses become increasingly clear, his voice is changing. That takes some getting used to, to say the least! Coworkers have called and have not recognized him over the phone, the change is so drastic. I've known him for 10 years, but he's had this condition so long that apparently I'd never gotten to hear how he sounded without being congested.

Another change for the better has been the lack of symptoms. Before his surgery, he would have severe sinus pressure whenever there was a change in the weather. This usually brought on a heightened problem with the CSF leak, as well, making him very uncomfortable. Despite the rain and wind these past two days, however, he's suffered none of his regular symptoms and has felt very well! He will have another check up on Wednesday just to make sure everything is healing the way that it should, but we are confident that the results of that appointment will be good.

On the job front, Jon was able to complete the art test without too much trouble. The test was very reasonable and manageable, and Jon turned in the completed work Sunday night so that it was waiting for them Monday morning. We've not heard anything back yet, so he's a little nervous as he anticipates a reply. We both feel that this would be an ideal position for him and for our family, but we also realize that the Lord can see the future whereas we cannot. We are praying that we will hear something back by tomorrow afternoon, even if it is only confirmation that they did indeed receive the email containing his work. I find it difficult to remain calm in these situations; I am like the toddler who has no concept of time and who keeps demanding, "Are we there yet?"

Thank you for your continued prayers, both for Jon's final stages of healing and for the job situation. One "setback," you might call it, has been the fact that after taking a week and a half off of work, Jon is really struggling to get back into the night shift. He's been going on so little sleep for so long that it's nearly impossible for him to readjust after being able to sleep as much as he wanted to during his recovery. This is yet another compelling reason to hope for a different position. Again, though, the Lord knows our every need and desire and will open up the doors to the perfect job in His perfect timing. We must be content to rest in the fact that He knows our needs much more clearly than we do!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Post-op Appointment

Jon had his first post-op appointment today. The doctor was pleased with his progress, which was good to know. She gave him a different medication to help alleviate the cranial pressure he's been dealing with. Each day is a little better, but he still struggles with headaches. Thankfully yesterday and today the headaches have been less severe.

The doctor also cleared out his nasal passages today, so he can finally breathe through his nose! It was so fun to watch him enjoy lunch. He said he could actually taste for the first time in years. Already he's noticed a huge difference in his health. He no longer has daily allergy-like symptoms that he's constantly fighting. This is exactly what we were hoping this surgery would accomplish, so we are so thankful that it is working!

I cannot say how much I've enjoyed this past week. While I could never wish this on anyone, since Jon had to go through it, I've found so much to be thankful for. Having him home for the past 8 days is certainly the best part. We had such a nice, relaxing family time. We didn't go anywhere or do anything fancy - Jon wasn't up for that yet - but having him home where we could visit with him and the kids could do activities with him was wonderful. I am so glad for this little break in our schedule!

I've also been amazed at how the Lord has met each of our needs - often before we were even aware of the need! It just goes to show, once again, that His timing is, indeed, perfect.

Here are a few things I've learned from this experience:

* I could never be a nurse. Watching someone go through that much pain is just not something I could handle on a daily basis. (Not to mention my aversion to blood, needles, etc...)

* I don't think I'd realized until last week just how much I rely on Jon or how much he does for me and the kids.

* Kaiser really is a good medical facility, all billing headaches aside.

* This was much harder on the kids and me than I thought it would be, but it has also been much more rewarding. I had no greater joy than to help Jon as much as I possibly could.

* When the egg carton falls unnoticed against the refrigerator's thermostat and turns it off, the milk will smell funny the following morning.

*It's easy to get caught up in only what is going on with my own family, but life continues on for everyone and there are still many opportunities to pray for and to serve others even in the midst of a difficult situation.

Friday, August 28, 2009

I Think We're Getting There!

Since coming home from the hospital, Jon had been complaining of fever-like symptoms: achy joints and muscles, headache, etc. We kept taking his temperature, but if anything it was on the low side. This concerned me a little because I thought he was due to resume work on Sunday night, and he still couldn't be up for more than a few minutes at a time. Last night he woke me up (accidentally) around 3:30 and all of the achiness had left, including his headache! He looked better than I'd seen him look thus far, despite the early hour.

When we actually got up for the day, he had a minor headache that's been an on-again, off-again thing, but there is definite improvement. He even watched the boys while I turned in a job application for him (I'll let you know the results of that in a few weeks). He also told me this morning that his boss gave him the whole work week off, so he's not due to start work again until next Thursday night. His week of paid vacation will cover most of his missed work nights, which is a huge praise!

The boys spent the morning in our room visiting with him, which they loved. You should see the pile of toys they brought in for him to play with in case he got bored - it is beyond cute! My biggest concern now is that he doesn't try to do too much too quickly, but so far he's been taking it very easy.

I'm still exhausted and cannot sleep much. With everything going on lately, I've not been very diligent to remember my iron, and my insomnia gets pretty unbearable as a result. Thankfully I've remembered the past two days now. Lauren has been less fussy today, but it's so warm in the living room that she's having a hard time sleeping. Even though she's not fussing, her wiggling and cooing (although adorable) doesn't help me get the rest I need. Now that Jon's feeling better, I shouldn't have to sleep on the couch next to her anymore.

We cannot say how much we appreciate all the prayers; it is so encouraging to know that we are continually being lifted up. !

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Next Update

Jon's been home for a whole day now, and I think he slept about 20 of those first 24 hours. For someone who averages 4 to 6 hours of sleep a day, this is quite an accomplishment! He still cannot remain upright for long periods of time because he develops headaches whenever he sits up. We're told that this is very normal for a CSF patient, but if his headaches become severe or cannot be alleviated through lying down and medication, he'll have to return to the hospital and have the Lumbar Drain reinserted. Thankfully, his headaches have been mild and disappear as soon as he lies down again. Please pray that this continues to be the case and that the headaches disappear completely by the time he is supposed to return to work on Sunday night.

Today was a bit wearisome for the kids and me. It got pretty warm, too, which never helps. All things considered, the boys have behaved fairly well. Depending on how Jon is feeling, we may get to go for a walk tomorrow, which will help them expend some of their pent-up energy. Right now, we're all cooped up in a hot, sticky house without much outlet for busy toddlers.

Please continue to pray for restful sleep for all of us. Right now, I'm sleeping out on the couch so I don't further aggravate Jon's many bruises and needle pricks. The pull-out bed is quite comfortable, but since Lauren's crib is next to the couch, she wakes me up several times a night. I'm definitely looking forward to being back in my own bed again!

Jon said today that he finally feels like he's beginning to heal, and he also started smiling a little bit. That's a huge step since he's been so uncomfortable until now. The boys have gotten to visit with him several times, and they're very relieved that Daddy is getting back to himself again. They don't understand everything that's going on, so they've been very concerned for him.

Hopefully the next few days will continue to bring improvement for all of us. I am so glad to be this far past the surgery!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Second Recovery Update

Jon's home now! This is really great; his doctor thought it would be at least 5 days before she could discharge him. He's extremely tired and cannot stay upright for more than a few minutes at a time (the 20-minute drive home was pretty draining on him), but he's fairly talkative considering everything he's just endured.

He slept for about 4 hours as soon as he got home. This was the first decent sleep he's gotten since getting to the hospital Monday morning (I don't think 6 hours of anesthesia counts). He was in NOC (Neuro-something-Care), which is a step in between regular recovery and ICU, and as a result he had to be more closely monitored (read: disturbed) than he would have been otherwise.

Thankfully he has several more nights off of work so that he can adequately heal. He has to be especially careful with his back since he had the Lumbar Drain; it could easily be injured, so he has to take everything very carefully. The nurse said he shouldn't even lift Lauren for the next two weeks.

Our biggest prayer requests right now are for quick healing; no setbacks; and sleep for the entire family. I'm exhausted. I didn't realize how physically and emotionally draining it would be to watch him go through this. Lauren was amazing while we spent all those hours in the hospital with him, but tonight she fell apart and was very unhappy.

My mom was able to go home today, and tomorrow Jon's mom will take the boys for the night to give us a little more time to rest. We are so thankful for all the offers and help we've received.

Well, I've finished my glass of milk and am off to bed. Goodnight to all!

Jon's Post-Op Update

We arrived at the hospital around 8am Monday morning. The hospital staff was very accommodating and permitted me to stay with Jon until he was taken to the operating room around 9:45. The surgery was supposed to conclude between 2 and 2:30pm, but the surgeon didn't get started until about 11:30 and it also took about an hour longer than expected. No one told me about any of this, so when he didn't come out of surgery until about 5pm, I was a bit nervous!

His surgeon came out and told me that everything had gone really well and that she was pleased with the results so far. She was able to close both CSF leaks, alleviate the sinuses, and remove some polyps that they had not previously discovered. All of this should go a long way toward helping him to feel better, that's for sure!

I got to see him around 6pm, right before they took him up to his recovery room. He was pretty groggy and seemed to have tubes, wires, and monitors everywhere. The doctor and recovery nurse were fantastic and kept me well-informed from then on.

He was pretty miserable the whole first night, but by the time I got back to the hospital yesterday morning, he was starting to feel quite a bit better. He was able to eat all day yesterday, and he tried to sleep as much as hospital interruptions will allow.

He has a Lumbar Drain that is being monitored; people with a CSF leak produce too much spinal fluid and the drain is helping to regulate that before they send him home. Depending on how he's doing today, he may even get discharged this afternoon! This will go a long way toward helping him recover. He can only sleep about an hour at a time before a staff member wakes him up to take his vitals, change his IV, etc. The IV is also really bothering him. He feels much better every time they stop the fluids. Once he's home where he can rest and be rid of the IV, he should really start to relax and heal - provided the kids don't pounce on him too much!

My mom's been great - she's watched the boys this whole time for me and has even managed to keep up with cooking, dishes, and laundry! She'll be tired by the time she goes home. Lauren has been a dream baby. She's not fussed at all while we've been with Jon. The hospital staff have been very willing to let me take her wherever I need to, and I've been really grateful for this.

I'll post another update when he's home. Thanks for praying!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Growing Pains

My dad had terrible growing pains as a child, so I was not surprised when I ended up suffering from them as well. Most of mine were in my feet and legs, and they were uncomfortable to say the least. In one year, I went from being the second-shortest player on my soccer team to the second-tallest. A person cannot grow that quickly without some sort of repercussions!

One thing that helped me endure the pain was the reminder that at some point, I would stop growing and the discomfort would eventually go away for good. It was only for a relatively short season of life that I had to face this problem. And, indeed, I finally stopped growing just before I turned 17. How glad I was to be rid of those awful growing pains!

Then something happened, something I never expected: the growing pains returned! Of course, these new pains were not related to the physical expanding of my body, but instead I developed spiritual, mental, and emotional growing pains. The down side to them is that they will never go away completely. They may subside for a season, but as long as I'm alive, I will face growth spurt after growth spurt as I learn more about about the Lord, more about life, and more about love.

These growing pains are just as wearisome as physical growing pains, and I find that I deal with them just as poorly as I did the physical ones. I moan, complain, whine, and fuss about the hardships that cause them. I pray for them to go away. I do everything I can to alleviate them. In all honesty, I hate them.

That said, I am also, very slowly, trying to learn to appreciate them. There really are some blessings that come from them. For example, they mean that I am alive. Pain cannot touch a dead thing. I am physically alive, spiritually alive, and mentally alive. They also indicate that I am growing (no duh!), and my hope is that I am growing in a positive way. They keep me from complacency. They stretch me. They teach me. They strengthen me. And once they're gone for the moment, they reveal relief in their absence.

Growing is not fun, and I of all people am the least gracious during periods of growth. The Lord is teaching me, though, just how much I need these growing pains and that I need to appreciate them. I find it difficult to admit to that, but I'm learning that a renewed attitude toward them helps me to more deeply benefit from them. Ironically, it also helps them to disappear more quickly.

I doubt that I will ever truly enjoy growing pains. I am, however, thankful for them and for what I am learning as a result of them. Someday, I'll be able to look back and see even more clearly the many ways that they have enriched, strengthened, and shaped my life.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Love of God

When we're tempted to become too focused on the minor mishaps of the day, how good it is to reorient ourselves toward the grandeur of God's love for us. Below are the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns.

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell
It goes beyond the highest star
And reaches to the lowest hell

The guilty pair, bowed down with care
God gave His Son to win
His erring child He reconciled
And pardoned from his sin

Could we with ink the ocean fil
And were the skies of parchment made
Were every stalk on earth a quill
And every man a scribe by trade

To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry
Nor could the scroll contain the whol
Though stretched from sky to sky

O love of God, how rich and pure!
How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure
The saints' and angels' song

Monday, July 27, 2009

Somday You'll Write

Years ago, my mom gave me Elizabeth Yates' book "Someday You'll Write." I honestly don't recall many of the details it contained, but the title phrase stuck with me. Whether or not I will ever become a published author remains to be seen, but because I enjoy writing as much as I do, I decided to turn my "someday" into today.

I don't have a theme for my blog. It will simply be a place where I can jot down my jumbled thoughts, life experiences, and humorous happenings. I might toss in a good recipe or two, share my trials and triumphs in child rearing, or express my delight in a newly-discovered verse or phrase.

Today, I will write!