Category Archives: Music

Returning to… well, not “normal”.

The babymoon filled with tortilla chips* and ice cream** is over.

I won’t say that we’ve returned to “normal”, though that is what I was initially thinking…  “Wow!  We’re approaching normal!”  There is no “normal”.  And, upon further reflection, it was like thinking, “Hey, baby!  You’ve upset our family’s routine!  You rascal!  How could you do that??  You’ve DISTURBED things!!”  And, truly, I don’t think that.

But on the other hand, I have been working to re-establish a new flow to our family.

I wrote this to a friend yesterday, who probably instantly regretted asking me how I was doing:

But, just to be real, yesterday SUCKED. It was the worst mothering day in a solid year, if not more. Frankly, Jean cries a lot. That isn’t bad, theoretically. I was telling my kids that Ethan cried a lot, and he turned out just fine. Some babies are just… needier than others, and I am happy to provide that extra comfort, extra soothing, more careful… care. But, OTOH, it means a lot of time in my room with the door shut, nursing (not that I always nurse behind closed doors), soothing, trying to help Jean sleep… and then my children are like Lord of the Flies out there, unattended, giving into sin nature, selfishness, unkindness, sneakiness, bullying… Ugh. I kind of flipped out yesterday. For a valuable 45 min of time when Jean was napping, I sat the five down and we went over Colossians 3:12-17. We talked. I lectured. We prayed. But did things improve? No. I had to spank***. I called Martin. And today hasn’t been much better…. But, I’m trying. Played Bethel YouTube worship videos for four hours straight in the main living area of our home, both to worship and sing, and to just invite the Holy Spirit in our day. And I have nipped everything in the bud, as much as possible.

There would be days like these in the past and I would think that I have totally failed as a mother. The good news is that I feel like it’s a temporary failure from which we all need to recover. I need to pull the reins in on my kids after letting things coast, slide, for too long. And they need to be loving and to obey.

So, see?  There’s no normal.

But, this morning represented a step in the right direction:  For the first time in Jean’s six weeks and two days of life, I made myself a “real” breakfast.  Granted, I absolutely gulped it down, so as to eat it hot, in case Jean awoke.  But, it was:  Three eggs, tomato slices, avocado slices, a cup of raw milk, and coffee.  YUM.  The first week of Jean’s life, I ate like a queen, because my hubby fixed my breakfast, and delivered it to me in bed.  The time since then has been altogether spotty:  A hastily eaten bowl of cereal (and I don’t even eat cereal!), a protein bar, a hastily-eaten pear, occasionally asking one of my boys to fix me eggs…  Or, more likely, me looking at the clock at 11:00 a.m. and thinking, “Crap.  I haven’t eaten anything yet today.”

Speaking of food…  While I absolutely, 100% agree with the thought that post-partum mothers should not give in to an appearance-centered culture that pressures us, “How are you going to lose that baby weight???”****  I also know that I’m carrying 12 extra pounds from the pregnancy — not much, I know! — and

  1. It’s crazy how much even just 12 pounds can make your clothes NOT fit.  Even tee shirts.
  2. I know that most of that wouldn’t be there had I not daily indulged in food I shouldn’t be eating in the first place:  like the aforementioned tortilla chips, ice cream, and cereal.
  3. I just feel better when I’m trim, when I don’t to have to select clothes that hides one sloshy part or another.*****

So, unless I want to purchase a whole new wardrobe — which WOULD be nice, but

  1. Where would the money come from to do that?
  2. More importantly, where would the TIME come to do that??

I need to lose at least some of that weight.

Hence, the subtraction of the carb-laden foods, and the triumphant reemergence of healthier food…

So worth it...  the tears, the "disruption", the extra weight...  So amazingly worth it.

So worth it… the tears, the “disruption”, the extra weight… So amazingly worth it.

———

*Organic, from Costco.  I love those chips!!

**Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra.  It was a lot easier to resist when I had to purchase it for $5/pint from the grocery store or wait for a coupon.  In the last year, pre-baby, I probably indulged twice.  But, since we discovered that the regular price at Walmart is $2.88/pint, and I got my hubby hooked on that particular flavor, it’s been MUCH harder to resist.  “Babe!” he grins, coming in the door with a bag from Walmart, “I got you some ice cream!”  Hahaha!!

***I probably just lost a good 10% of my readers right there.  “SHE SPANKS???” Um, yes.  On occasion.  I can’t remember the last time I had spanked anyone, prior to Tuesday;  a couple of months, at least.  It’s not my go-to discipline;  it’s my last-resort discipline.

****And if you haven’t read Sarah Bessey’s fabulous post on the Duchess of Cambridge’s post-partum hospital appearance, you should.  Absolutely, you should.

*****And we’re not talking “skinny” here.  I’m at 150 lbs now, and my goal is 140.  Pre-baby, it was 138 lbs.

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Corn seconds (or… “So Come”)

This morning, my five children and I sat around our island and shucked sweet corn.

My oldest, Ethan (who will be 16 on Sunday), expressed a new appreciation for pesticides.

I was a bit shocked, as was Grant, who is 13.

It was, however, somewhat understandable.

The corn we were shucking was from the CSA, from Crooked Sky Farms.  Organic, fresh, but quite wormy.

Wednesday is CSA Day, where (currently) 24 people come to my home and pick up their share of local, organic, single-farmer-grown produce.  However, on Wednesday, I thought that I was going to have a baby, and I called in the troops — a fellow CSA member who had volunteered to host the pick-up, should I be giving birth or something like that, especially since we’re planning a homebirth.

In retrospect, I feel like a chump for calling her, because here it is, two days later, and I still don’t have a baby.

Anyway.

The instructions from the farm said to give everyone three ears of corn.  She was about halfway through the afternoon when she realized, “We are going to have a LOT of corn left.  A LOT.”  She upped the remaining people’s share to four ears, but was also worried, like perhaps the farm unintentionally gave too much corn, and they were going to ask for it back.

So, she came to my home yesterday with all the leftovers, including four boxes of corn — each box holding 25-40 ears of corn.  Clearly, each member could have had SIX ears, and we still wouldn’t have run out.  I’m not sure what happened — if they delivered too much accidentally, or if they just gave extra so that folks could pick through the ears and get the best ones, or what.

In any case, she kept two boxes, as did I.  I assured her that she had done nothing wrong;  sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and adjust, and she just didn’t know that, as this was her first time.  And, one of the perks of being the host is that you get to decide what to do with the leftovers, and one of the decisions you are free to make is, “Why, I’ll just keep it!”

The substitute host has seven kids;  I have five (almost six).  We happily kept our corn.

HOWEVER…  I must say, this corn was definitely picked-through, and not nearly as pretty as what you’d see in the grocery store.  Most of the ears were, as I mentioned, wormy.  (However, cut off the top third or half, and voila!  You have a beautiful half-ear of corn.)  Some of it was way too mature — dented kernels throughout, telling me that it was over-ripe, and that the sugars had turned to starch, and that it wouldn’t be good eating.  Some of the ears were just too worm-eaten or even moldy, and the whole ear had to be chucked into the compost bin.

So…  It wasn’t exactly pretty work, shucking this corn.  There was a lot of, “Eeeewww…” and ears dropped like a hot potato when pulling back the husk revealed three caterpillars, happily munching away at the kernels.

Wesley (age 11) eventually got grossed out and became mostly the guy who carted all the shucks, silk, and “dead” ears off to the compost bin.

Audrey (age 7) became distraught that I wouldn’t allow her to make a habitat which would enable her to keep all the caterpillars.  Indeed, I was insisting that everyone simply throw away the caterpillars in with the shucks.  She was horrified by my casual discarding of life.

However, Ethan, Grant, and 4-year-old Fiala hung in there like champs to the very end.

I wish I had a “before” picture to show you just how ugly this corn was…  But, I didn’t take a pic.

I found myself, though, reflecting on the treasure we uncovered, in pale yellow and white kernels — one that required a little work.  One that required us to “extract the precious from the worthless.”

Jeremiah 15:19

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 Therefore, thus says the Lord,
“If you return, then I will restore you—
Before Me you will stand;
And if you extract the precious from the worthless,
You will become [a]My spokesman.

We have enough “pretty” whole or mostly-whole ears of corn to give us two — maybe even three — nights of sweet corn feasting with our dinners.  And that is for our aforementioned large family of seven.

I also took the not-so-pretty ears — those which were less-than-half-sized, those which needed multiple kernels trimmed out, or even whole sides cut off, due to being dried or worm-eaten, etc. — and cut the remaining good kernels.  Those efforts resulted in a couple of knife nicks on my left hand, a partially numb right index finger from grasping the knife for six passes per ear… AND, five quarts of kernels to add to our freezer.

I feel like that’s a win.

Corn!

It’s hard to tell from this pic, but there are probably 25-30 ears of corn in the plastic shopping bag — most of them only partial ears…. But it’s a lot of corn!

This song was running through my head this afternoon, as I extracted the precious sweet corn kernels from what previously appeared to be two boxes of worthless, picked-over, dried, wormy, partly moldy corn…

I don’t know how to explain it…  It just feels redemptive and rewarding to have rescued all that corn… to have worked for it, toughed it out when the going was gross, and now my freezer is stocked and we will feast on hot, buttered, salty corn-on-the-cob tonight.

What God spoke to me.

I was recently thinking that, for all I have disclosed on this blog over the last 6+ years, so much of the most significant events in my life go unrecorded.  Some things are inappropriate to share, some defy my attempts at explanation, some I just never get around to…

I’ve been considering that anew, this last week.  I just don’t even know if I could — or perhaps even should — convey all that happened to me.  It’s hard to explain.

New Irish friend Azman & me, having a really good conversation.

The short version is that I went to a three-day International Leadership Summit — a retreat in the cool pines of Prescott, Arizona.  Back down the hill into the Valley of the Sun, the following day, is what we call International Super Sunday, with an extended church service in the morning, and a nearly five-hour event at night that features a dinner, some amazing speaking, and worship, followed up by a prophetic presbytery, where leaders with prophetic gifting (30ish or so) will give a personal prophetic word to anyone who wants one, and pretty much all the attendees want one.  🙂  Or two.  Or three.  Or as many as there is time for.

My love and me, taken by a different new Irish friend, Claire... I don't look this good in real life. 🙂 Bless God for the occasional use of makeup and supportive undergarments.

The whole Leadership Summit started about 15 years ago with just the leadership team of my own church — 20-30 good folk (and their spouses, as appropriate, most of whom are also leaders) who lead a specific area of ministry within the church.  Then, we expanded to invite a few of the pastors/leaders of various international ministries/churches with whom we minister, or over whom we have some apostolic leadership.  (See?  I bet I just lost a good 50% of you with that last sentence, and I’m just not going to explain it, either.  Unless you ask.)

Of the Summit — which is three jam-packed, meaty days of teaching, worship, and ministry, the most significant to me was Friday night.  On that night, I was praying for some friends when the Holy Spirit came powerfully upon me.  At first, I just bent over and put my hands on my thighs, kind of holding myself up.  Then, I sat.  After a while, I had to lie down.  It wasn’t that sort of dramatic thing you may have heard about (and which I repeatedly have witnessed) where the Holy Spirit performs a “smack down” and a person slumps to the floor or falls backward.  It was a little more subtle than that.  But not by much.

For… a time… at least more than an hour, but I don’t know how long, I was prayed over and ministered to, both by my dear, dear friends… co-workers in Christ… and by the Holy Spirit.  I was trembly, deep in my core and up into my shoulders and arms, as the Holy Spirit was on me.  My abs are still sore, nearly a week later, I was shaking so long.

Everyone who yields to the Holy Spirit and comes under His power finds a different experience.  Some shake violently.  Some laugh.  Some weep.  Some experience a profound calm.  Another dear friend, Paul Min, an apostolic 77-year-old powerhouse from Irvine, California (originally from South Korea), experiences his legs shaking, and he knows the power of God is residing in him.  I tend to quiver/convulse in my core.  It’s been like that for my whole life.

I know that a great many of you may think that odd and/or unbelievable, and that you’d not care for it, and you’re having second thoughts about me, right about now.  Frankly, that doesn’t matter so much.  Well, the part that doesn’t matter is what you think of me.  It does matter a great deal to me how you consider the God of all creation.  But, you can think I’m a looney, and I’m all right with that.  Even if you stop reading my blog.  😉

Anyone who has read here for any length of time is well-aware that I’m a Christian;  I don’t hide that, though not every post is about JESUS JESUS JESUS.  It’s more like, “This is my life, and Jesus is an integral part of it, of me.”  I often don’t want to post on the more God-oriented events of my life, because its so hard to communicate effectively and so easily misunderstood.  But, I felt like this last week was too significant to just pass by.

See what I mean by that first paragraph?

So.  What happened to me in that time can be broken down into

  1. What others prayed over me.
  2. What the Holy Spirit spoke directly to me.

In the past, when I “go down” under the power of the Spirit, I — to my remembrance — have never heard His specific, direct words.  Instead, what I usually experience is more like a… sense, an overwhelming sense of whatever it is I need most at the time:  His love, His power, His mercy, His forgiveness, His whatever.  This time was different in that I felt very strongly that I heard His voice.  It wasn’t loud.  More than a whisper, but not loud.  But, there were some specific things, some specific words and thoughts that I have never had, on my own, and I feel very strongly that they were beyond “impressions”;  they were the Word of God, to me, addressing some very specific needs.

Another thing that was different…  Sometimes, I have become a wee bit confused over others’ prayers over me.  Everyone, even those with maturity, doesn’t always hear from God 100% right, and the things that come out of their mouths aren’t always the pure, unadulterated Word of God.  For that reason, Scripture teaches us to “weigh carefully” what is spoken by prophecy.  In the past, I’ve had some difficulty at times, sorting out what’s what.  This time, among the 7+ people who prayed over me, and the many things that were spoken, there were two specific instances where God said, “That’s immature and inaccurate.  You can toss that.”  And silently, I returned prayer for the the person who was praying, thanking God for their willingness to minister and pray, but asking Him to increase the clarity of their spiritual ears, so that in the future, they could pray with more effectiveness.  It is my observation that in situations like that, the pray-er is often speaking out of what they know about that person, and their own personal views, rather than led by the Holy Spirit.  That doesn’t make God’s word less powerful, though those who minister prophetically should be continually seeking greater clarity, accuracy, and maturity.  I Corinthians 13:8-10 tells us “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.”

When the whole Friday night episode was over, I got up and wrote down everything I could remember.

Here are some of the things that God showed me — I’m not sharing everything.  Some of it is too personal, and some of it doesn’t quite make sense to me, and I have to hash it out, to seek God on it, still:

  • God showed me that some of the interests I have pursued — specifically writing and birthing stuff — I have done because I am afraid that I am too old to have prophetic singing/worship stuff fulfilled in me, things that have been prayed and spoken over me repeatedly — countless times — for the last 20+ years.  Writing and birthing are not bad and they may be pursued later, but for the right reasons, not out of fear or distraction.
  • I am to go to bed when my husband Martin does.  He is an early riser and I’ve always been a night owl.  In addition, I am an introvert, and I crave that time, late at night, when the house is still and no one needs me.  That is my “recharge” time.  However, it saddens my husband that I will not go to bed with him when he does, except maybe once a week.  I have thought he’s unreasonable/uncaring that he wants me do do/be something I’m not, and he thinks that I am unreasonable/uncaring because I won’t value his tender heart and the fact that he is restless until I come to bed.  I have been beyond stubborn, when what I really need to do is to obey.  I need to value him.  It is a “little” point of contention to me, but it is HUGE to my husband.  God the father affirmed to me that He will take care of things I fear I will lose in the process, and will make their replacement worthwhile.
  • I must be intentionalabout investing in both my guitar-playing and my singing.  I am a fair guitar-player and I have a great voice.  I’m not bragging;  it was a gift of God that I’ve known about since my early childhood.  However, for my whole life, I’ve just been expecting God to DO SOMETHING about my voice, with my voice.  And He has, to an extent.  I am one of the core vocalists on my precious church’s worship team.  I lead worship (playing guitar and singing) weekly in a home group.  I am one of the three worship leaders for our church’s 6-12 year-olds.  I have been maturing and growing in spontaneous prophetic singing.  Yet, I know that that is not all God has in store for me.  I know I’m not living up to my potential, to His calling in me.  However, I have just expected Him to drop some bomb, some opportunity, to hit me over the head with some profound and specific direction, and He hasn’t done that.  He said that, instead, I need to be intentional about working that gift, investing in it, prioritizing it, furthering it, developing skill…  I totally have NOT done that in the past.  I’ve just coasted on what I have.  To that end, He gave me two imperatives:
    • I am to play guitar and sing for a minimum of an hour, daily.  If I do other things — read, blog, pursue other interests, etc. — it is to be after that hour is completed.
    • I am to take a voice class.  (I’m not sure why about this one, and I have looked into it — the community college that is very close to my home, however, is an extension campus, and does not have voice.  The other location is REALLY far away, spring classes have already started, and the schedule doesn’t seem like it would work at all.  So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do about that.)
  • I felt indescribably strongly that smallish but mighty Vineyard Phoenix, my home church for 17+ years, will always be my Favorite House.  With capital letters.  My husband just got done reading a book by Tommy Tenney called God’s Favorite House.  I have not read it, though I know it is about building the local body of Christ, the local church.  I was FILLED with love and thankfulness and tenderness for the people who have poured themselves out for the Kingdom, for Jesus, and for me personally.  Even though about half (or more?) of those at the Summit were from other nations, those who prayed for me on Friday night — minus one — were all from my local church, Vineyard Phoenix.  I felt that was specific and intentional.  I have long loved the people of my church, especially those on the leadership team, with whom I have served for these many years, and whose pure, vibrant hearts for ministry and the  Gospel of Jesus I have been endless witness to.  But, especially on Friday night, I was filled with a… beyond-strong love for each.  Vicious, almost.  Abandoned, intense, jealous over, consuming, zealous love for my co-laborers in Christ.

I was going to next describe the things that were prayed over me by individuals, but I think that, instead, I will save that for next time.

Until then…  🙂  My love to all readers who have made it thus far.

“Come, oh winds of testing…”

I got carded last night at Trader Joe’s, buying some sparkly for New Year’s.  That cashier knew how to perk up the outlook of a down-faced 38-year-old.  I had a good laugh with the lady right behind me, who congratulated me on the event.  She was friendly and warm and had a Nigerian accent, and I left with a smile on my face.

At the previous store, Costco, I had decided that despite my current state of affairs — a really ugly situation with my ten-year-old son and a neighborhood boy, which has escalated into three families boycotting our family, and which is still not even remotely resolved — that God didn’t intend for me to:

a) walk in shame
nor
b) treat people like crap just because I’m feeling badly.

When I go on my weekly marathon grocery shopping trips, where I typically visit 4-6 stores and spend 3-4 hours doing so, I make an intentional effort to be kind to customers and cashiers, to go above and beyond what might be expected of a typical late-night shopper, and to spread the love of Jesus, if only a smile at a time, to those I encounter.  This approach almost never fails to have some sort of positive effect on someone, and often results in some really interesting interactions with shoppers and/or store employees.  Last week, a cashier at Bashas’, Nina, told me that I was her favorite customer.  I laughed, and then she prompted me, “Now, you’re supposed to say, ‘And Nina is my favorite cashier!'”  I complied, although, honestly, she’s not.  She’s kind of grumpy and gets on my case about often needing assistance to find out-of-stock sale items late at night:  “What do you expect?  It’s 10:45 at night!  We close in 15 minutes.  Of course the butcher isn’t here and there’s no one who can help you in meat.”  She also makes fun of me for taking so long in the store.  I check my list, I check my coupons, I read labels endlessly…  I’m sure I take longer than the typical shopper.  In spite of this, though, she likes me.  🙂  I think I like her more, for liking me.

Nina thinks I’m amazing for having five children and tells everyone about it — other employees and customers alike.  I don’t particularly think that’s a reason for merit, but I’ll take it.  She wasn’t there last night, though, to prop up my ego;  her son got married on the 27th and she took the whole week off.

Anyway.  Back to Costco.

My cashier there was Richard.  He’s tall and very thin, and I have often wondered where he purchases his jeans, though I have never mustered up the courage — or would it be cheek? — to ask him.  He asked me the standard question about whether I had found all I was looking for.  I replied that I had, thank you, and made eye contact with him, smiling.  He paused, responded cheerfully, and with what seemed to be an intentionally friendly manner, finished up my order.  Not friendly-flirting.  Friendly as in, “Wow, you are treating me like a person and I appreciate it.”  As I walked away, I marveled at, truly, how little it takes to make someone’s day a little better.

That’s when I resolved to still do my normal, intentionally kind shopping trip, instead of wallowing in the misery of the situation with my son.

Misty Edwards helped me, too.  To be honest, I’m not a rabid fan of hers.  Those who like her tend to REALLY like her.  I’m not like that.  I just don’t often enjoy listening to endless Misty-IHOP music;  it just doesn’t float my boat, even though I love, love, love worship.*  Last night, though, when I got into my hubby’s car to go grocery shopping, he had Fling Wide on, and I let it play, needing some soothing for my sore soul.  Track 5 came on, the title track, and I almost fast-forwarded it because I just don’t like the opening lines, “Awake, awake oh north wind, awake, awake oh south wind…”  But, I let it play because I love the electric guitar on that song, and I was thinking, “How does the chorus to this song go?  I think I remember liking it.”  And I did.  I do.  I hit repeat, really listening to the lyrics the second time through, part of which say, “Come, oh winds of testing…”

What??” I thought, “I’m not liking winds of testing right now.”

I really do NOT have a “bring it on!” mentality to testing.  At all.  I don’t like being tested.  I don’t know if Misty really does, or if she simply has made peace with the value of being refined by it.  In any case, she appears to be further down that path of maturity than I am.

To most of the song, though, I really can yield, singing loudly and with full agreement, “Fling wide the door to my soul/Open up the door to my heart/Have Your way, have Your way…” even though I have to will myself to sing the next few lines about “I won’t be afraid/I’ll embrace the flame” and I’m sure any fly buzzing around the cab of the car would note the lack of conviction in my voice at that point…

I hit repeat on that track about six or seven times before I just resigned myself to the fact that I needed to put the song on a continuous loop-repeat.

Even though I really need to update that 101 Random Things About Me page, #43 is still in full effect:  “When I’m upset, I love to go on an errand by myself and BLAST worship music in the truck, singing my guts out.”

————-

*Gross generalization:  I find that most IHOP worship tends to be really internally-focused, introspective, “search my heart… I am weak and lowly…” kind of worship, and I tend to prefer songs that focus directly on Jesus and His character and ability, and/or a little more transcendent worship/rejoicing in who He is…  Hard to explain.  Not trying to pick any fights with anyone, just trying to explain where my worshiper’s heart is at, and it typically doesn’t beat in quite the same place that Misty Edwards, et al, seem to beat.

“It probably sucks.”

My husband put on a tee last night.  Looking at it — an old concert tee picked up in January, 2006, back before the band became the semi-well-known band it is today — I idly remarked, “Mutemath has a new album coming out.”

He responded, “It probably sucks.”

I love discovering a band whose music simply resonates within me, and then following them as they grow.  It seems that so many of these bands and I grow on a similar trajectory, or that how they change seems “just right” to me…

But there is a special, heart-pricking disappointment when an absolutely beloved group of musicians go down some unwelcome musical path.  Nothing measures up to that first love.  I have wondered if the newer music is really that much worse, or if it’s just that I have too-high expectations.

The best of the bunch. By far. So far.

For the record, in my opinion, Mutemath’s first CD, which was LP-length, entitled Reset, and crafted while they were in obscurity (the members met, by the way, in a church in New Orleans) is promising, brilliant, glorious, unique, and powerful.  It was a fresh mix of guitar-based rock, electronica, mind-blowing drumming, vibrant energy, and God-focused lyrics of beauty and honesty.

Their second release, a major label self-titled “debut” was good, but with some of the spark and power lacking.

It’s been all downhill from there.  A song on the Transformers soundtrack?  Please.  Another on the TWILIGHT soundtrack?  Lordy.  Even worse.  Fame is not worth that.  SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS 2??????  Have you lost your minds????  Armistice??  That was a major let-down.

~sigh~  Maybe Odd Soul will be better.  (The first single was released two days ago, though I can’t listen to it until my sound card gets replaced.)  It’s due out October 4.

And what’s up with the cross lapel pin on the blinded guy?  Hmmm…  Not too sure about that imagery.

Why I’m weathering the storm better this time (and: Restoration)

About a year ago, I was pretty despondent over Fiala’s health.

I’m doing much better this now, in spite of the fact that she’s had her worst month of 2010.

Fiala is now on the tail end (bless God) of about four weeks of a really bad outbreak.  She’s still on Septra;  we have another week or so to go with that;  I’m so happy, though, that she’s really turning the corner, and the infection is abating, and her skin, body-wide, is healing.

When listening to my pastor Dennis’ message yesterday (http://www.vcfphoenix.com/message.html, the December 5th one), I realized that one of the biggest reasons that I’m weathering this “episode” so much better this time is directly related to something he said:  Thankfulness while IN a dilemma releases God’s activity. And, even if my dilemma doesn’t get better, if God just SHOWS UP, then it’s OK.

That is something that some other sweet sisters in Christ had encouraged me in, months ago…  In spite of their teaching/correction/kicking me in the rear, it took me several months to pull out of the pit of feeling like perhaps God didn’t love my little girl enough (or something that would keep Him from healing her).  This time around, I’m not even tempted to go there.  Or, if I am tempted, it passes quickly, because I don’t give that line of thought the time of day.  I don’t let myself think that.  I rest in His sovereignty;  He can choose to heal her, but if He doesn’t, I will still trust in God my Father.

I’m definitely still praying for her healing, but more than that, I just want the Holy Spirit’s activity and presence in our home, and in her body and her life.

Other things that are happening:

  • A dear friend had a dream that Fiala’s reactions were not caused by food at all, but from a small animal in her bed.  She wrote to me, not suggesting that I take the dream literally… but, completely unbeknownst to her, I had noticed that Fiala seems to get WORSE upon sleeping/resting in her bed, and I had already theorized I thought maybe her mattress was infested with something, and we should get a new mattress.  The one we have is a second-hand mattress, and not in very good shape, though I rather rationalized that it would be OK since we use a waterproof pad each time, under the sheet.  So, we’re working on the mattress thing.  (She doesn’t have a new one yet, though.)
  • Also, I realized that her clothes are bothering her — pretty much the only place she’s not broken out right now is in her diaper area.  My husband Martin is having a similar reaction in his sock area — everything covered by his dress socks has been itchy, and he’s had a sandpapery rash there, very similar to Fiala’s.  I have been making my own laundry detergent for the last year+, and cannot think of anything in the ingredients that might be anything other than innocuous except, perhaps, the soap itself.  I use Kirk’s Castile, which is made from saponified coconut oil.   I know Fiala has problems with anything palm-related, so perhaps even though it’s gone through the chemical process to make it soap, it’s still giving her problems.  So, this weekend, I went out and got All Free & Clear and am washing all our clothes (and re-washing her clean clothes) in that, plus a half cup of baking soda, and an extra rinse with 1/2 cup vinegar.  Last night was the first night she was in newly washed pajamas and bedclothes, and she woke up looking significantly better this morning.   Coincidence? Perhaps.   But, I’m just trying to do every little bit that may help, considering environmental things, as well as food.
  • And, I read recently (in my Clean Eating mag) that larger-than-USRDA-doses of Vitamin D have been shown to improve/resolve health issues, especially those related to the immune system.  So, I have my son Wes* and Fi on 2000 IU daily. We’re just on the third day of that, and I’m uncertain, of course, if it’ll have any positive effect, and how long it’ll take.  But… I felt like I had to try.

Unrelated, really, other than that the above song has ministered mightily to me in the last month:  A couple of months ago, I suggested to my hubby, Martin, that our church’s worship team learn the song Restoration (written by Clay Edwards, led above by David Brymer and Clay’s sister, Misty).  He didn’t go for it.  Then, a couple of weeks ago, he borrowed my oldest son’s MP3 player, so he could listen to music while doing yard work.   I had loaded the song (weeks ago, for Ethan) onto the player.   Shortly after the yard work was done, Martin had pulled up the chords… and he’s been playing it periodically over the last couple of weeks.  Hehehe!

While preparing my set list for small group last week, I came across the chart for the song, and played it several times, just to “warm up”.  Guidelines for small group worship leaders are that song introductions should be rare;  we would rather do songs that the people in the group know and can easily worship to.  But, I called my friend Sheila to see if she’d be going to small group that night (she was) and did she know Restoration (she did) and would she sing along, if not otherwise engaged, if I led a bit of it during ministry time, after the main worship set (she would).  So, that was the plan.

It’s hard to explain what happened during worship and ministry-that-wasn’t-normal-ministry time.  Worship, in my estimation, didn’t go fabulously.  It seemed like many were distracted, and people weren’t really engaging God.  It’s my job, as a worship leader, to facilitate that.  I can’t make God show up, but I can sure invite Him, and help pave the way for people to engage. So, I was a wee bit bummed out.  Only a wee bit, though, because appearances can be deceiving, and I didn’t know for certain what was going on, and I just continued to lead us in worship.  After worship, we had a time of prophetic ministry, and the Holy Spirit just poured out a bunch of words through lots of people for lots of people.  The small group leader just had everyone gather in the center of the room, and asked me to just play over everyone, which I did, praying all the while.  Then, I started playing Restoration… and the Holy Spirit fell, even more.  It was just what everyone needed.  It seems like God wanted me to play that song, on that day, at that time, not months ago, when I wanted my hubby to teach it to the team.  Everyone learned it quickly, and sang it wholeheartedly.  It was His timing, and I wasn’t even aware of it!!

So, anyway.  Equally unknown to me was that Martin planned to teach it to the team that coming Sunday (yesterday).  He did.  Practice was wonderful.  We just sang and played and worshiped.  I abandoned the vocals and picked up an acoustic, just because I wanted to play it.  I wanted to express that song with more than just my voice.  (I don’t play guitar on the regular worship team;  I just sing.)  Martin invited me to change guitars to one that was amplified.  (He was playing electric.)  At one point, he told me not to strum so hard;  I don’t know how he can keep himself from NOT strumming hard when a song gets intense!  So, that took a little concentration, to not play so hard, even when the song built dynamically.  Hehehehe!   In sixteen years of being on the church’s worship team, I don’t think I’ve ever played acoustic, plugged-in, during a practice.  Maybe once previous.  It was fun.

So, I guess to tie those two lines of thought together:  I am encouraged that — even when I’m not 100% aware of it — I am growing.  I’m following the Holy Spirit.  I’m becoming more teachable (historically, that’s not one of my strong suits).  And, I’m seeing fruit from it, and I’m happy about that.

God is good.

———————-

*Wesley’s asthma is by far the worst in the winter months, December through March.  Hmmm….  And, of course, celiac disease is autoimmune.

Ten things I have enjoyed in the last few days

In no particular order:

  1. Fiala’s second birthday.  Precious girl.  We have no pictures because my camera is totally broken now, and the grandparents forgot theirs.  We had a simple cookout party with family at the park on Saturday.  Between Friday (her actual birthday), and Saturday, she received a grand total of three presents, each simple and inexpensive… but her face is such a delight when she receives a present.  I think she really understands the heart of gift-giving, and she feels so special and thankful, no matter what the gift is, which makes it all the more delightful to give something to her.
  2. Receiving new earrings in the mail.  Ordered from Mom Potter’s Etsy shop.  🙂
  3. The new Sherlock on PBS Masterpiece.  It was so wonderful!  I really enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch (what a name!) on 2008’s The Last Enemy, aired on Masterpiece Contemporary last year, and he was even better as a 21st century Sherlock.  My husband wasn’t so convinced he’d like it — he’s a big fan of Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock portrayal.  But, about ten minutes into it, he said, “OK.  I’m hooked!”  Not giving too much away, but if you know the story of Sherlock Holmes, the one problem I had with the storyline/script is that it HIGHLY inferred that one character was so-and-so, but it turned out not to be the case, but another slightly lesser-known character.  I felt a tad manipulated, and I hate that in movies/TV shows.  Still.  It was really good.
  4. The cooler weather in Phoenix. Mornings in the 60s.  Days in the 80s or occasionally a bit lower.  ~sigh~  I’ve been waiting for this!!
  5. Getting a couple of bird mysteries solved, via a birding listserv I just joined.  Yes, that is a Eurasian Collared-Dove I saw;  as an introduced species, they are heading westward.  And, yes, Anna’s Hummingbirds can hybridize with Costa’s.
  6. Worship on Sunday.  It was so rich, both musically, and with the presence of God.  I couldn’t even sing, half the time.  Good thing I wasn’t on stage!  😉
  7. The author of the book I ghost-wrote signed her contract. This was after long weeks of (slow) negotiations.  She got some things altered for her benefit.  Good for her!!  Expected publication date is August 1, 2011.
  8. Our “new” entertainment center.  Our TV barely fits, but it does fit!  My hubby and oldest son spent a good portion of Saturday setting it up.  🙂
  9. The Jars of Clay Greatest Hits CD.  I have a couple of their CDs.  I’ve been a somewhat-fan over the years.  And, this CD is two years old, so I’m behind… (as always, with music)  But, what a great CD this is!!  I spied it at the library, and I’ve been greatly enjoying it.  All my kids like it, too.  I’ve been belting out the songs at the top of my lungs as we’ve traveled to and fro these last couple of weeks, as I’m familiar with all but three tracks on the CD.  It’s eminently singable.  I’m not normally a huge fan of retrospective type albums, but for someone like me, who enjoys Jars of Clay, but who does not own the whole collection of their discs, it’s perfect.
  10. My oldest son, Ethan.  He’s not a “thing”, but I have been so enjoying his growing-up.  He is 13.  In June, he stepped up to the youth group at our church, instead of the kids’ church…  He was unsure about the transition, but he’s really enjoying it now, and I think it has lent to his already-thoughtful nature, learning things and considering subjects that need some deeper maturity.  He’s a boy of few words, so it’s difficult to get a long conversation from him.  But, in our exchanges, I have been delighted in the evidence of his careful thought and kind consideration of those with whom (or of whom) he speaks.  He’s not perfect, of course, and there are a few things about him that make me wanna pull out my hair.  But — similar to my husband, of whom I have the same confidence — Ethan is faithful to work on the areas of his life’s garden which need weeding.  If you point out an error, he genuinely takes steps to improve, even if initially, he’s not all that receptive.  He’s a son to make a mother proud, and I love him so.

Buying things at really good prices or getting them for free makes me happy.

**NOTE** A while back, an acquaintance read a post of mine wherein I mentioned praying for some needs we had, and she came away with the impression that our family was entirely destitute, and went to my pastor about it, and suggested that she or he or someone should do a fundraiser of some sort for our family.  Um, please don’t do that. Yes, it can be trying, living on one income, and yes, we occasionally have needs that go unmet, but usually, it’s more like wants that go unmet, and I am — by no means — complaining about my lot in life.  God continually provides for our family.

Going over-budget depresses me.  O, groceries!  Why must thou be so expensive??

Offsetting the funk that grocery-shopping put me in, on Wednesday night, are these:

  • We have a hand-me-down of a hand-me-down for an entertainment center.  I do not know how old it is, but it has certainly outlived its life-expectancy.  We’ve had it for six or seven years, and we are the third owners.  The doors are falling off (we’ve repaired them countless times), the whole thing is made of particle board, and it’s a light maple color, unlike anything else in our home.  It is a veritable monstrosity.  Still.  It’s hard to say, “Yeah, I really need an entertainment center!”  We need things like kids’ shoes and to pay our electricity.  We don’t need an entertainment center.  I’ve had a search going, via RSS, on Craigslist, for over a year, hoping to find something that is just right and which costs about $50 or less, is a darker shade of wood, has at least some closing doors, and which will fit our TV, which is 30″ wide.  Not too surprisingly, I haven’t found anything.  A couple of weeks ago, though, I started praying for an entertainment center.  Hesitantly, I prayed thus:  “OK, Father.  I know that an entertainment center is not high on the

    Freecycle!!

    list of priorities, and I really feel like maybe it might even be… wrong, somehow, to pray for an entertainment center.  But I really need Your help finding one, because I’ve not been able to.”  Well, lemme tell you, I feel really cared-for by my God, because what should pop up on Freecycle yesterday???  The lady apologized for it being five years old and dusty.  Um, I don’t care.  It’s free.  It’ll fit our TV.  And, it’s a whole, whole lot nicer than the one we have.  BLESS GOD!!  And a friend of ours, a strong Phoenix policeman, lives right by the current owner’s house, and is going to help my hubby load it.  🙂  I’m tickled.

  • There is a song that so resonates with me right now.  I sing it at the top of my lungs in the truck, whether or not anyone else is with me.  It’s called Your Love is Strong, and was originally done by Jon Forman (of Switchfoot), though I first heard it by the Robbie Seay Band.  The song is a summary of the Sermon on the Mount, and there’s a lyric in it that says “…the flowers, better dressed than any girl on her wedding day / So why do I worry?  Why do I freak out? / God knows what I need / He knows what I need…”  This song both ministers to me and convicts me.  Anyway.  So, another thing I recently prayed over, after initially freaking out, is for God’s provision for clothes for my five children for the winter.  Thankfully, we do get a LOT of hand-me-downs, but there are always one thing or another that needs to be purchased.  This year, among other things, we really needed pants and jeans for Audrey, as she had not one pair — lots of winter dresses, tops, tights, and about five jackets, but no long pants.  And, voila!  There was a Craigslist posting, and the lady happened to be literally a mile down the road from where I go to small group.  So, last night, I went and picked them up.  It wasn’t the cheapest Craigslist find, but I feel really good about what I got for the money I spent.  Four pairs of jeans and four pairs of corduroys.  Eight pairs, thirty dollars. And, they’re all nice brands, and in excellent condition.  Two of the jeans are Guess.  New, they’d be $25 each, at a minimum!  Of course, Audrey’s favorite are the hot pink sparkly corduroys from The Children’s Place.  (Same as these used ones on Ebay for $9.99 plus $3.85 shipping!)
  • I have begun a (slow) process of trying to eliminate more plastics from our home, especially for food storage.  Glass, how I love thee!  How I have always loved thee!  But, glass… did you know how expensive you are????  ~sigh~  Today, though, shopping at Ross for, among other things, Fiala’s birthday present — She is two years old, today!  Happy birthday to the sweetest member of our family! — I got sucked into the homegoods section.  Goodness.  I could easily have plunked down a couple hundred bucks on all the things that caught my eye!  I was looking, dreaming, yet keeping myself composed until I saw these refrigerator carafes, at right.  There were two of them on the shelf, one with a red cap, the other with blue.  $2.99 each.  They’re rather an odd size, 1300 cc, or 43.5 oz.  But, I’m very happy to have them.  I think they are wonderful.

Accordion worship, “kinship” worship, birth sadness, learning to mother, and a few more groceries

  • Sunday morning, I was sitting next to my pastor (which virtually never happens — but his wife was out of town, my hubby was in the back of church for some reason, and there were other people on “our” row, so Dennis and I were thrown together) during announcements, and I saw that, instead of “kinships”, the church is now calling our midweek home groups “small groups.”  Hm.  I asked Pastor Dennis quietly about this, and he mentioned that it was intentional, and that there were other changes on the way, rather an update in image, from what I could tell.  “Maybe you’ll be dying your hair blonde!” he joked.  I laughed, envisioning it.  It feels good to have a relationship with my pastor where I can laugh with him.  I also disrupted a wedding reception about a week ago, laughing uncontrollably and way-too-loudly at his HILARIOUS description of the Worst Worship Ever, led by a man in Scotland, on a 120 bass accordion.  I didn’t blog about it then, because I was afraid that, somehow, it might get back to the poor chap who was so proud of his Beer Barrel Polka-esque “modern” worship… but then, Dennis mentioned it in his message yesterday morning at church, saying he didn’t care if the man heard, saying with a laugh, “the truth shall set you free!”  (The story is at the very start of the message…)
  • Speaking of kinship/small groups, I will be leading worship (on an acoustic guitar, NOT an accordion!) in one again this year, on Thursday nights.  The new kinship/small group season starts next week.  If you’re in the Phoenix area and you wanna come, let me know!   The leader is a Phoenix police officer, so I feel safe offering the general invite.  😀
  • I heard a sad birth story this weekend… mother induced three days before her EDD because she is small and the doc was afraid that the baby was “too big”.  Long story short, she had a vacuum-assisted delivery, and bled profusely, which led to her needing a transfusion.  😦  Induction… JUST SAY NO! Her baby was just a smidge over 8 lbs, though he was very long for his weight, which may have led the doctor to believe (via ultrasound) that the baby was going to be ginormous.  The poor, precious woman.  My heart absolutely breaks for her.  But, stories like that re-energize my drive to be a natural birth advocate.  But a kind one, who doesn’t make a woman feel like crap if the delivery goes awry.  I’ve been on way too many websites whose intent, it seems, is to make women feel like they are rotten, if they make choices, or allow themselves to be led into “choices” (IOW, informed consent, but not educated consent) that end up harming themselves or their baby.  Dear Jesus, help me always be compassionate and tender towards mothers.
  • Regarding mothering, a friend, pregnant with her second child, posted on Facebook about reading a horrid book on preparing for one’s second-born… and it reminded me, among other things, about how I virtually never read parenting books.  When I have difficulty with a mothering situation, I find someone who seems to be excelling in that area, and ask her, “What do you do?”  Not only do I gain pinpointed advice from a trusted source, but requesting advice from another mother always encourages her about her parenting, and the interaction brings our relationship just a wee bit closer.  Voila!  Books are better than people.  Most of the time.  🙂
  • And because I grew weary of blogging about groceries for a week, my remaining faves about which I (apparently foolishly) committed to blog are: Cholula, Ben & Jerry’s Karamel Sutra, Marathon of Miracles food bars, Hansen’s diet soda, Kettle Krinkle Cut Chips, and My Nana’s tortilla chips.

Lost phone, cheap oranges, etiquette, God’s sovereignty, and worship/prophetic

  • Better Than I from Joseph, King of Dreams plays in the background while I write, as my kids watch it, after lunch.  That is one of the most powerful songs, ever.  It could be my life’s anthem.  When I first saw that movie, I so NEEDED it.  Being blessed doesn’t mean that everything will be easy, and discipline doesn’t mean that the Father doesn’t love me.  “I’ve let go the need to know why / I’ll take what answers You supply / For You know better than I.”  I am convinced that the reason the movie was never released in theaters is because it is such a vivid picture of the sovereignty of God.  Americans don’t want to hear that God is sovereign.  We’ll gladly have Him work miracles.  But, submit to His plan??  Hmph.
  • I lost my mobile phone.  If you tried to call me in the last three weeks, I didn’t get the message, or the text.  We looked into getting me a new phone, but it was cost-prohibitive.  Then — DUH!! — I remembered that we still had my old phone.  A couple calls to Verizon Wireless, and voila!  No cost to reconnect it, nor to suspend my other phone.
  • This is fun!  Don’t Gross Out the World, an 11-question on global meal etiquette.  I got 9 out of 11.  My kids all got 4 to 6.
  • I’ve been way over food budget for the last couple of months… I’m recommitting to clipping coupons and being very careful.  It is extremely hard to eat restricted diets, healthily, on the cheap.  This past trip, I was able to spend about 40% less than I have in weeks past, with especially careful shopping of the sales, plus saving $11 in coupons (pre-celiac disease, I used to save $35-40 per trip, up to $60 at times), and simply doing without some things I wanted to buy.  A SCORE was finding oranges at $0.19 per pound.  I bought 16 lbs, and two days later, they’re half gone.  I also got 11 lbs of organic Braeburn apples at $0.67 per pound.
  • Last night at kinship, I had a prophetic song that was about fixing our eyes on Jesus, as the source of our peace and joy, no matter what was going on, on the left and the right of us.  I needed it today;  I keep recalling it…  Yesterday, I thought, “That little rice-reaction-rash Fiala has on her cheeks looks like it might be staph.”  This morning, there’s no doubt.  😦  It’s all over her face, and her arms, too.  Her sweet cheeks are all crusty again.  She’s only been off of her five-week round of antibiotics for… three weeks?  four?  I can’t remember now.  It’s disheartening to see it back.  I thought we were DONE with staph!!  I’m waiting to hear back from the doctor.  But, my eyes are fixed on Jesus, and I’m leaning on Him for peace, and for joy, and though it’s an effort, I will not let the enemy disable me with discouragement and grumpiness.
  • Oh!  Plus, I found out this morning that I will likely need a root canal.  I about cried at the dentist’s office.  I come home, and my husband says, “No way.  There has to be another option.  I’ve read awful things about the side-effects that can come from root canals, like life-long migraines.”  That didn’t help.  The thing that kills me is that my tooth didn’t hurt UNTIL I got a filling a couple of weeks ago.  Now, I’m on several-times-daily aspirin or ibuprofen because the pain radiates down into my jaw, back into my ear, into my head.  My dentist said, “Six percent of the time, we do a filling, and end up having to go back in for a root canal because the nerve is so damaged from the drilling needed for the filling.”  :\  I didn’t know that!  Plus, root canals obviously kill the root, which cuts off the blood supply to the tooth, which leads to tooth brittleness, as it’s no longer being supplied by calcium, so they have to do a crown.  Seems like a “cascade of interventions” to me.  I am not pleased.  Still.  My peace and joy don’t come from perfect teeth:  they come from fixing my eyes on Jesus.
  • Speaking of prophetic stuff, I don’t think I’ve ever blogged about prophetic stuff spoken over me, but last night, my kinship leader spoke something very short, and it completely resonated in me.  IT has stayed with me, as well.  He simply said, “God wants you to know that you’re both a trumpet and a harp.”  Instantly, I knew what he meant.  …  During kinship, we have teaching, then worship, and after worship, I just strum a little chord progression to “cover” the time of ministry and prayer.  The whole time, I kept up the same G – Em7 – D – C2 thing going over and over, and prayer was just a fountain out of me.  I sang very, very quietly.  I don’t know if anyone even heard me, except the kinship leader, who, at the very end, came and stood inches from me and started singing with me.  It was just sweet.  I could have gone on for hours.  As it was, I think it did last a good 30 minutes, maybe more…  Prophetic with strength = trumpet.  Lyrical, tender worship = harp.
  • I hope that last bit wasn’t too much Joseph-in-his-immaturity!!
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