Thursday, February 22, 2007

Blue Like Jazz

I just finished reading this book, thanks to Grier's and Jeff's encouragement. I have to admit that after the first couple chapters, I wasn't that impressed. I didn't like his writing style-short, choppy, sentences-abrupt thought changes, etc. However, the next day, after reading about Penny's conversion, I had changed my mind. The book definitely put me in a contemplative mood as I thought about what Penny said about reading Matthew and learning that Jesus never showed partiality but all of us humans do. By the time I finished the Confession chapter, I was completely hooked and extremely convicted. I felt I needed to go set up a booth to confess and also have a booth next to it where I was giving away hot soup to the poor.

In a nutshell, Donald Miller challenged me to put my Christianity or as he would call it my "Christian Spirituality" into practice. Like Don's friend Andrew the Protester who really believes that Jesus's command to feed the poor was meant for him directly, so he serves breakfasts on Saturdays on a busy sidewalk downtown. Not only that but he actually talks to and more importantly listens to what the poor and homeless are saying.

One thing you can say about Donald Miller is that he's real. He says things that we've all thought or wondered about at some point, but haven't had the guts to say.
And God convicted me throughout the book. One of the main things God showed me was that I am not showing Christ's love to those around me-indeed I can't-when my focus is all on myself. Don talked about how he likes "efficiency in personal interaction." I'm often the same way. I'm on the phone with someone, and I say the right things that make them think I'm listening, "Uh-huh, wow, interesting..." but secretly I'm wondering, "Why can't they just get to the point?" I'm thinking about the next thing I need to do and how they're holding me up from doing it. How backwards is that thinking???

Christ doesn't care about things; He gave His life for people. And that is exactly who I should be spending my time on. How many times have I been at the grocery store and just thought about what I needed and how quickly I needed to get out of there before Ella had a meltdown. Yes, I smiled to the lady at the deli counter who was getting our turkey and cheese, but secretly I was thinking, "Lady, can you just go any faster? No small talk; come on, I've got things to do." How very un-Christlike of me. And shouldn't I bother to learn her name? And truly act like I care about her b/c after all Christ does. As Don points out, when we act rushed, all it does is leave people with the idea that we don't value them. I want people to feel valued when they are around me because I truly value them as God's creation. Because God values them. Because God loves them just as much as He loves me.

I sat down to read the book some more yesterday after putting Ella down. I was frustrated b/c I had wanted to read a magazine article in the restroom (where all good magazines are read), but of course, I couldn't. Ella was in there w/me. Pulling things out of cabinets, putting her hands on the magazine, and saying in her own special way, "Pay attention to me, Mommy, all the time, every second when I'm awake, even when you're trying to poop!" Right after that, I had to go change her poopy diaper. I was just tired of it! I needed me time, so I put her abruptly down for a nap. "No, Ella, no time for a story; you have to take a nap."

As I settled in my chair to read, I arrived at the Community chapter and felt God gently rebuking me as I read Don's thoughts.

"Life was a story about me because I was in every scene...If somebody walked into my scene, it would frustrate me because they were disrupting the general theme of the play, namely my comfort or glory."
He went on to describe how
"The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me."
"...There is no addiction as powerful as self-addiction."

After spending time at a bed and breakfast that was set up for people who were doing ministry and seeing how the host constantly cleaned up after people and put his needs aside, Don questioned him. How did he have "such a good attitude all of the time with so many people abusing his kindness?"
The host responded, "If we are not willing to wake up in the morning and die to ourselves, perhaps we should ask ourselves whether we are really following Jesus."

Piercing-instant rebuke. Had I been speaking loving words to Ella that day? No, I was frustrated b/c she was getting in the way of my plans. And have I mentioned that a 19-month-old isn't very appreciative? She doesn't care that I sit with her for 45+ minutes every meal while she eats. Ever. so. slowly. But God sees and God wants me to do all things as if I'm doing them for Him. I would imagine that would mean to do it with a cheerful heart, a thankful spirit-certainly not complaining. God is showing me that my first ministry right now is my child and my husband and that they deserve my respect and my love.

Even when I don't feel like giving it. Especially when I don't feel like giving it.
As Elise so aptly said in her post, "The Manner In Which We Walk," my job right now is to "Feed, Love, Lead."

If I am to be like Jesus, I must learn to die to self-not just every day, but every moment of the day.

So, I'm currently reading Matthew. I want to rediscover Jesus. I want to read and not just grope for a verse to speak to me. I really just want to see how He lived on this earth, how He interacted with so many different people and responded to their questions and their hurts. I want to learn so I can start living like Him.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Liz's 30th B-Day Celebration!

Oh, what fun I had Saturday at Liz's party. I met Karanena (you're even more lovely in person!) and many other of Liz's friends. Plus, I got to spend time with Emmie, Abbie, and of course, Liz. I so enjoyed the girl talk after the party w/Liz and Abbie. Who knew that we could move from devotion topics to pregnancy tests in a matter of seconds? :-) If you ever do move to Florence, Liz, we'll be close behind. How much fun would that be?

Abbie planned a marvelous Fiesta party! It was a Mexican theme b/c Liz is going there w/Kris on a cruise in just a few short days. We had delicous tacos for lunch and then for games took a Mayan quiz with some interesting questions and multiple choice answers. Can you believe I actually won the prize for the most correct on that? Like I told Abbie, just lucky guesses. My prize? A Kalanchoe-or what I call a beautiful plant w/lovely pink flowers. :-)

Then we played hot peppers-like hot potato but w/a catch. If you were caught w/the hot peppers, you weren't out of the game, you just had to wear a dress-up item of Liz's choosing. What a silly and fun time-everyone was in stiches! Lastly, Liz broke the pinata-wow, she can swing and hit hard-Kris, you better watch out!

It was just such a fun and relaxing time for us-Will of couse loved it b/c he and Jim got to catch up and I enjoyed the girl time. Ella was entertained by all the other kids there and especially loved the adorable, little nook Mrs. Shumaker created where her old water heater used to be-how creative-we just love the idea. Ella wanted to keep climbing up and down the ladder, of course. And her favorite toy to play w/up there? Sam's cars...I keep telling Will he already has his little boy...

Liz, I wish you the bestest of birthdays on Valentine's Day-have lots of fun w/your hubby and eat some good chocolate! You're one of the few people I know who is truly beautiful inside and out. You remind me of Mama-ever so pretty and sweet-always cheerful and smiling. A true joy to be around. I love you!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Well, we're back from our vacation! Boy, was it ever so nice. We went hiking in Dupont Forest to 2 waterfalls. Triple Falls was the best in our opinion, but High Falls was also nice. At Triple Falls, we sat down for awhile on a big rock and just soaked up the beauty. We held hands as we hiked, we talked about anything and everything, and I felt so free and light. It was simply grand.

As we pulled up to the B&B, I was awestruck. Sweeping vistas, beautiful mountains, and adorable white cottages with green tin roofs. The Inn itself looked like a mansion. That evening we enjoyed a 4-course dinner in our cottage. It was fun getting dressed up but then being able to eat in privacy. I had Shrimp Scampi and Will had Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce. Delicious!

There was also a hot tub right outside on our deck that was simply divine-I could just feel all my cares melting away as I gazed up at the stars. We also enjoyed our lovely fireplace and the Tempur-Pedic mattress. We DID NOT want to get up the next morning; we both slept like babies. The next morning, breakfast was already waiting for us in our fridge-we just warmed up our egg casserole and huge muffins and had fruit, juice, and coffee as well. I love the fact that we didn't have to get dressed and go mingle with strangers at a big table. We needed alone time. And even if we had chosen an inn room, it's the same way-breakfast in your "kitchen closet." If we ever go back, I think we'll stay in the Gable Room-we got a chance to see that one and it's huge and very beautiful. And, of course, much cheaper than the cottage.

And yes, in case you check out the site and start adding up prices, we did spend lots of money, but considering we haven't been anywhere by ourselves for 2 years, I felt it was justified. A late anniversary and Valentine's celebration all in one. Don't worry, Em, we didn't go in debt over it! :-)

By the time we left Monday, I was starting to miss Ella a lot. But she did wonderfully without us. In fact, I called Sunday night to check on her and my mom said she hadn't said our names or done the milk sign all day. AMAZING! I found out when we returned, that she had looked for us in all the rooms Monday morning when she woke up, but still no milk sign. But boy did she ever do it when she saw me. I was talking to my mom and finally she looked at me so pitifully and signed "Milk. Please!" And I only had to pump twice while I was gone so it wasn't so bad.

I've got some pics of our time away and lots of Ella trying on some hand-me-downs from our friends at church. How wonderful not to have to buy any clothes for awhile!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Snow Day!

We woke up this morning to snow-yay!

But then it started raining and turned to an icy,slushy mess-boo!

So, Ella really didn't get to play in it, but Will did manage to build a tiny snowman and I decorated it. She was actually afraid to stand in it-I'm sure she was thinking, "Why is the grass white now, Mommy?"

It's funny, just yesterday I went to the library to get her some new books and saw one about snow, but I thought, "Well, she won't be seeing that anytime soon, no need to make her jealous." :-) Guess I should've gotten her some winter boots too, eh?