I was listening to a talk given by a priest the other day who said that "the church should be Mary". Maybe I am a little slow, but I really didn't understand what he was getting at, until he went on to say that Mary is the blueprint for the bride of Christ. She was chosen to bear the Son of God...in her body. Can you even imagine?? Her "yes", her fiat was so complete that the Holy Spirit conceived the life of God inside of her. This is exactly what we, as Christians are called to. That's what The Body of Christ is called to do.
Most of us have probably read this scripture time and time again, but honestly, it's the Word of God...it is never going to get old. :) This is after the angel Gabriel has announced to Mary that she will give birth to the Christ child. She replies, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be done to me as you have said". (Keep in mind this calling that God has given would be intense public humilitation for a young, unmarried girl. It could have even resulted in her execution.) Mary then travels to visit her cousin, Elizabeth, and little baby John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth's womb upon hearing Mary's voice...he already knows that she bears the life of God within her.
And yet, this is her response to God. What is mine? This is Mary's song. This is our song.
15 " 'In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land.
16 In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.'
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
That's right!! We are excited to announce (for those who haven't already heard) that we are expecting baby #2 in early June! We feel so blessed to be welcoming a new addition to our family. Roman is starting to understand that he is going to be a brother - when you ask him where the baby is, he points to my stomach. Also, sometimes to Joe's stomach, so we are still working on that! :) I have been feeling pretty good, mostly tired, but that is starting to get better as I near the end of the first trimester. If anyone has any name ideas, let us know - Joe and I can't agree on any so far!
2. We bought a house! For those of you who didn't know, Joe's parents moved to South Carolina a few months ago. Remember this disappointing event in our house hunt? About 2 weeks after that particular incident, Joe's parents offered to sell us their house - and gave us a great deal! Who could refuse? It's fantastic!!! 5 bedrooms and 3 bath, 2 car garage, plenty of space for Roman to run amok, and the perfect home for our growing family! We have actually already moved in. Joe likes to do things as quickly as possible, so we had about a two week window between buying and being completely moved in. We have painted the kitchen, living room, playroom, and our bedroom already. We are LOVING it. You'll have to come see all the fun things we have done. I will try to post some pictures one of these days too...but with my track record, you may not want to count on that. :)
3. Other fun random pictures that I have to share of various events over the last couple of months:Roman and Adam reading The Foot BookRoman playing in the leavesFalling asleep at lunch
Me with my nephew, Carter. He got to come stay with us for a couple of days while Jim and Chelsey were in Chicago for the election. We had so much fun with him. What a sweet little boy!Roman "reading" Love you Forever to Carter...he even sang him the song. So sweet!Roman really wanted to teach Carter how to give high fives. Probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen.Roman giving Carter a kiss. He did such a good job with him and it really made me excited for our new baby to arrive!! Also, when Carter was crying at our Thanksgiving Roman said "Don't be sad, Carter". So precious!!
What a buddy. He loves his uncle Joe.
Roman as a clown for Halloween. He loved it!! He even learned to say "trick or treat". I think his favorite part of Halloween/fall is pumpkins. That is, "pu-kins". I am telling you he has some crazy pumpkin radar. He could spot one from miles away.
4. We are really excited to begin the journey of Advent!
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.
Advent means "coming", and Joe and I were reflecting the other day on how often we really stop during Advent to contemplate what is means that Christ really came to us. How frequently do we ponder the fact that he really is coming again. Sure, we know those things, but we have not stopped enough to really consider the implications of these realities. As we talked about how we have been lacking in this area, we started discussing the fact that, now that we have children, we are going to have to work even harder at this. So often, Joe and I have talked about the weight that we feel for teaching our children. What a calling! How will we share the gospel with them, as early as possible, in such a way that they will understand and come to love and serve Christ? How will we celebrate Advent and Christmas in such a way that they will understand that the season is about the birth of our Lord and not about the "hype" of gifts and Santa and (as good as they are) family gatherings? None of those things are the point. And we want to make that clear. Roman is probably still a little bit too young to grasp this, but this year he will understand more than he did last year. And next year, it will become crucial. By next Christmas we will have another child to share the message with! So exciting! So much responsibility! Please be praying for us - to have wisdom in living out this call!
Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.
I imagine that will be enough to overwhelm you for now!! I am exited to see some of you more over the Christmas holiday. Please let us know how we can be praying for you during your Advent journey!
We have a handful of upperclassmen coming along to help with the retreat - giving testimonies and helping lead small group discussion, etc. We got to hear some of their witness talks tonight and I was BLOWN AWAY. They were so refreshing and insightful and really made me excited about the weekend. Of course, I was pretty emotional about them...hopefully the 10th graders won't think I'm crazy/having some kind of breakdown during the talks. :)
One of the girls has suffered an incredible amount of loss in her 16 years, and was so humble in sharing with us today. I was so proud of her. This was some of the scripture she shared with us along with her testimony (from Psalm 22):
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
5 They cried to you and were saved;
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
7 All who see me mock me;
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
11 Do not be far from me,
- Every holiday that year except Christmas
- Our wedding (he was supposed to walk me down the aisle)
- My college graduation
- Many friends' weddings
- Chelsey's college graduation
- Fun times and relaxation with friends
- The purchase of he and Chelsey's first home
- My whole pregnancy
- The birth of his first nephew, Roman
Even more than remembering all the things he missed out on, and reading all the letters he sent home, today I realized (again) that these were the most minimal sacrifices he made during those 15 months. He gave up so much more than these events, these comforts...he watched people struggle, watched friends die, watched great tragedy day after day. I am sure he witnessed some miracles along the way, some things that made it seem worthwhile, but I don't want us to forget the amount of love these men have for their country, for our freedom.
I know it has been easier for me to dismiss the war since he has been home. It has been easier to not include those men and women over seas in my prayers. But we need to REMEMBER what they saw - good and bad - and THANK them for their willingness to fight for us.
Thank you, Jim! You are my hero.
Thank you, all veterans. Without you, I know that I would not enjoy the life I do.
God bless all soldiers and their families...especially the ones who made the ultimate sacrifice. You are NOT forgotten.
But here is the hope in which I trust. God is bigger. Both candidates were human. Both are men who have and who will fail. Both are men who would have made some good and some bad decisions as leaders of this country. You see, the results of yesterday's election do not change what good God has in store for us.
I will admit, that I am not overly excited about Obama being president. I have some very serious concerns about what he will chose to act on during his term or terms. I especially fear for the right to life....from womb to natural death. I fear for the sancity of marriage. I fear for the family. But, I have this one hope...Jesus still wins.
Jesus is in control, and CHANGE needs to happen in peoples' hearts before it can ever happen in our nation's laws. Clearly, we are not ready for those changes. So, from here, we pray. We pray for changes to begin in homes and in individuals. We pray that people's hearts will be softened to hear their Creator reveal to them what He really desires for their lives. We pray for our president-elect to make wise choices and to be a man of prayer himself. We pray that a passion for Christ will be nurtured in his family.
I was so impressed with both speeches last night, McCain and Obama both gave fantastic messages to our country. McCain one of support for the president-elect and continued decication to the United States. Obama one that made us all stop and recall how far we have come. It does give hope when we look back on our history and see what we have really accomplished. Good or bad, this is our history; this is our future.
And so we pray, and we rest in the fact that we know how the story ends.
We have been looking for houses, and are hoping to buy within the next couple of months. We are blessed to have amazing landlords right now that have agreed to work with us by allowing us to sign a month-by-month lease until we find something! They are fantastic.
Anyway, we thought we had found our "perfect" house. It was in a cute little neighborhood in Ames - brick, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, unfinished basement - seemed perfect. We had agreed that it was a little over priced the first time we looked at it, but last week they dropped their price by $10,000! We went back to look again, and over the weekend decided that we would put an offer in on Monday.
We made an appointment with our realtor (who is so wonderful!) so she could show us a few other houses, and then we could look at this house last - one more time - before submitting our offer. Well, we looked at about 7 other houses and each one seemed to confirm that we were making the right decision with this house that we had decided on.
We pulled onto the street and were anxious to get inside "our" house again. We pulled up to the driveway...and the disappointment set in. "SALE PENDING". What? How could this happen? This is our house!
Our realtor quickly looked online and it hadn't even been posted as pending on her MLS yet - so it had to have just been accepted.
We were so sad. We have been kind of moping about it since then, which is silly, because, although it was discouraging, we know that God has a plan.
I just told my youth group kids the other night that we often get so wrapped up in our circumstances that we forget to see how God is working in a situation. There will be something better. Jesus, we trust in you.
I think everyone should check out my friends' blog (Chris and Sarah). Chris wrote this particular entry and included some youtube video on the topic. It's definitely worth your time to see what Senator Obama is "promising" America.
Also, to give you a little Roman update, these are his latest words and phrases - which you really have to hear in person to get the full effect. He is so funny!
- That's amazing!
- Rock-a-baby (for "rock-a-by-baby")
- Sit down
- Shut the door
- c'mere (come here)
- want some milk
- ok! (this is often a very dramatic word, ie. OOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKKKK!)
- his current default color is "white". This could be referring to Kim's hair color or a frog.
- too many others to name!
God bless you!
Anyway, his blog is a spinoff of the NY Times column "Stuff White People Like", (which, incidentally, I don't find as humorous). But, all of things "Stuff" blogs had me thinking....
The other night, as I sat watching people movin and groovin at a 40th anniversary party, I was reflecting on the mom dance. That's right. You know you've seen it. Maybe it's your own mother, maybe it's a family friend, maybe it's just some lady...but she's out there...she's doing the step-touch and snapping away, while her kids sit mortified in the back of the room. This stirred in me, an idea. How about a blog entitled "Stuff Moms Like"? Don't you think I could write one and come up with thousands of amazingly hilarious posts?? Tell me what you think/ideas of what you would write about. You never know, maybe I'll get a book deal. ;)
This is probably one of my favorite Roman videos ever...falling asleep while eating french fries at an Applebee's. :)
Much to my dismay, I have had trouble uploading the Elmo video...because it's really long. I got a shorter one uploaded to Facebook, so you can check there, and I'll keep trying to get one up here.
For now, enjoy the sleep eating!
I think Theology on Tap is a fantastic program! It's a really laid back, casual environment where you can get to know a lot of really amazing fellow believers! I am excited to go back soon! We should start a TOT program in Ames....anyone feeling ambitious?? :)
"I want to be faithful in everything, even if no one sees but Him".
I can't stop thinking about it. I think this is so applicable to everyone (especially myself as a stay at home mom), but we all have the opportunity to slack off in some way during our day. Whether it's not putting in 100% effort at work (which I was CONSTANTLY guilty of when I worked in an office!), not taking the time to stop and talk to someone who needs a little help, or choosing to let Roman play by himself most of the day while I go about my "important" tasks around the home.
The point is, I tend to be so focused on what's convenient for me...on what I want to do today...on what "needs" to get done, that sometimes I lose sight of what really needs to be a priority. Spending time with God. Playing with my son. Making our home a haven for my husband.
Sometimes we feel like not putting forth the energy to do things because "no one will notice". Your boss probably isn't going to see how many times a day you check your e-mail (and once again, I have no room to talk about that!), Joe probably won't notice if I sweep the floor or not, and Roman certainly isn't going to "tell on me" if I don't drop everything and read to him. But I will know...and more importantly... God knows.
The Pometto fish meet their maker...
As many of you know, Joe, Mary, Tony, and I have all been working hard on Tony and Suellen's house...cleaning it and getting it ready to be put on the market. We are praying that it sells quickly so they can buy a new house in South Carolina!!
Anyway, this video captures one of the days... that turned into an evening... that turned into an all night cleaning affair. I will say that we have all had some excellent bonding time over the house.
The fish really did need to go...(this is still a delicate topic for Tony, as he is still in mourning over his floating finned friends) and we made the best of it...Mary has so generously used her amazing video editing skills to create this lovely tribute to the Pometto family fish.
SO, that being said, it was months ago when we received the coveted Tickle Me Elmo doll in the mail. I decided that, since Roman was so small at the time, we would wait until a "rainy day" to bring it out. Well, Monday was the day. We really didn't have any plans. We weren't going to be going anywhere, and it was, in fact, raining. So, no afternoon walk, either.
Roman woke up from his nap about 3:00 and I decided that while he was finishing his snack I would unpack the toy from the box and wrapping. He watched me as I cut and pulled and set his new little friend free. I took Roman out of his high chair, and set him on the floor with the "happy" little monster. This was going to be fun, I thought. He will obviously find it hilarious. He loves his book about Elmo...surely, he will love the toy.
I press the button, Elmo starts laughing...I mean, laughing hysterically...he even bends over and slaps his knee, he's so cracked up. Meanwhile, Roman is shreiking in terror and running to clutch onto my pant legs. That's right. He hates it.
Well, he was tired...just woke up, so I thought, maybe when Joe gets home it won't be so scary. No luck there. After dinner Joe brought Elmo back out - laughing along with him thinking that would make Roman feel more secure...only to find that it scared him even more.
Joe and I put Roman to bed, watched a movie, and then were talking about the events of the day before we went to sleep. We decided that maybe if we put Elmo in the living room with the rest of Roman's toys and didn't make such a spectacle of him, he would feel more comfortable.
Yesterday morning, Elmo was chillin with Murphy (Roman's favorite stuffed dog) in the living room, when Roman woke up. He entered the room, and immediately freaked out again. I mean freaked out. The whole rest of the morning was spent trying to console Roman as he wouldn't even let me put him down. He kept saying "sad!" "I sad". :( He cried because he was scared...I cried because I felt so bad, and we cuddled and read books for the rest of the morning. Elmo is now securly hidden in the coat closet...I am sure in a year it will probably be his favorite toy...I am also sure I will not have the courage to bring it out again any sooner than that. Even today there were a couple of times when he said "sad" and wanted to be held! The poor child! Hopefully we haven't ruined him for Sesame Street for life.
I need to preface this video with just a couple of quick stories. Roman loves puppies. Just not in real life. ALL day long (I mean at least once an hour) he will randomly start talking about puppies. We have lengthy discussions about the puppies he knows (my mom's dog, Joe's parents' dog, my brother's dogs, the neighbor's dog, etc.) He will tell me all about them..that they are soft, that they say "woof", and that he sees puppies.
This video is a pretty good example of how fixated he can be on puppies.
The funny thing is, he really doesn't like dogs. :) He wants to look at Rocky (our neighbor's dog) out the window about 8 times a day, but when we got outside and Rocky is out there - IN HIS CAGE - Roman freaks out and will not let me put him down.
When we stayed at my brother and sister-in-law's house one night, they had the puppies in their kennel becuse Roman gets scared of them. One of them barked and Roman started crying, so I picked him up and was taking him into the kitchen to get a drink...we had to walk past the puppies, and through the sobs, he yells "Hi puppies!".
Roman went to Rockwell City with us this weekend so that Joe, Adam, Ryan and Tony could have band practice. We had the pleasure of staying on the Babbitt farm with Mike and Joyce - so fun! They have a dog named Harold. All weekend long, Roman would look out the window and say "Hi, Harold". "I see you Harold". "Come here, Harold", but wouldn't go anywhere near her outside (yes, I said her. That wasn't a typo). :) Finally, he did get up the courage to pet her on Saturday, and he has been talking about her ever since. Maybe he is getting over his fear?? :)
Found this while I was looking through some random videos on Godtube.com (great website!) I don't know much about John Piper and what he teaches, but I thought this video was right on.
The arrival of fall also means back to school and back to school-year-activities. Along with my small group of high school girls that I have been meeting with for the past few months, I will also be helping with GLORY (youth group - "The Glory of God is man fully alive." St. Irenaeus), another small group of girls with a community outreach mission, and a new group of Theology of the Body for teens! Should be a busy year, but I am super excited.
Growing up, my family went to church every Sunday, and it's not that I didn't learn at church and Sunday school, but youth group, retreats, church camp, etc. were the ways that I encountered Christ and really came to know him.
What a blessing to be a part of those things that ministered to me so much when I was in high school. Please pray for the teens that we will be working with, and please pray for the leaders like myself, that God would use us to touch hearts for the kingdom.
I am sure this finds you all busy and gearing up for all the activities of the season. Please let me know how I can be praying for you more specifically! God Bless!
Aside from the "toilet trouble" post, and what he has been teaching me, I haven't written much about Roman lately.
A few facts:
- he has 9 teeth! (and is working on some more)
- he now says "chewbacca" (thanks, Jon!), "I love you", "I miss you", "oopsy daisy", and a whole slew of other words and phrases!!
- he prays before meals...which pretty much includes "Thank you, Jesus. Amen.", but it is the sweetest thing you ever did see!!
- currently his favorite book is "Love You Forever". (I am happy about that because it's also one of my favorites...but, at the rate we have been reading it - about 5 times a day - not sure how long it will be on my fav list. :))
- he is still obsessed with the "coo-coowave" - traslated, that means "microwave". :) Although, his passion seems to be dwindling....YES!
- he loves the Vow of Silence CD. I mean LOVES it. He dances to it...hilarious.
"Humanism has so permeated our culture that it has even quietly crept into our Christianity [in two forms], liberal Christian humanism and evangelical Christian humanism... Liberal humanism says, 'The chief end of Christianity is the happiness of man when he is alive'... Evangelical humanism says, 'The chief end of Christianity is the happiness of man after he dies'..." Both liberal and evangelical humanists are Cats, but contrary to those points of view, "Dogs say, 'The chief end of Christianity is not to be happy (either before or after death), but rather it is to glorify God'. Happiness [then] is not the primary product of the Christian life; it is a byproduct of delighting in God."--Bob Sjogren in Cat and Dog Theology
Roman is definitely in a screaming stage. It's not all the time. Sometimes it's when he's mad, sometimes it's when he wants attention, and sometimes it's just because he's so excited he can't hold it in anymore!! Whatever the circumstance, it's not something that we tolerate. We have been trying to be calm and consistent with disciplining him. We tell him that it's not okay to scream, remove him from the situation if it's necessary, and tell him he needs to use some nice words instead. It seems to be doing the job, but it's a slow, and sometimes painful, process. You'd think it wouldn't take him long to catch on that yelling at the top of his lungs really doesn't get him anywhere. But, then again, we yell at God...we tell him what we want and under what terms we would like things to happen. That doesn't get us anywhere either, but we aren't about to change our selfish ways.
Sometimes it's a challenge to keep your cool when your child is screaming bloody murder in a restaurant, or letting high pitched screaches out during the sermon at church. (Okay, he is usually not terrible, but when it's your child you tend to think it's a lot worse). It's hard to resist the temptation to just "make him happy". Of course, I want him to be happy. I want him to enjoy life, have fun, and go along our merry way. But, I am constantly reminding myself your job is to help him grow, not to make him happy all the time.
Naturally, I try to create environments where he will be happy. I try to "set him up for success" so to speak by making sure he is rested, fed, and has something fun to do. But, when it comes right down to it, I care more about him becoming a person of integrity than I care about him being mad at me and crying about the situation we are dealing with right now. I don't like it. It's not fun. But, it's what we, as parents, do... and what God, as our father, does.
He does it out of love. He denies us the job we really wanted. He takes us out of a relationship that we thought was "it". He guides us into a place in our lives where we think we can't possibly be happy. It's not what we wanted. But, God cares more about us growing in our faith, He cares more about bringing people into the kingdom, than he does about our "happiness" in the moment.
You might think that's pretty harsh...and, to an extent, it is. You might say "God wants joy for me"...and he does. But, "joy" might look different than we thought. Joy in Christ doesn't always mean that you are in the ideal situation. Joy in Christ means that you are thankful in any situation. It means that God is going with you and, therefore, we have nothing to complain about. He has a plan. A plan to give us hope and a future. The ideal situation isn't until we are with Him in heaven anyway. How he gets us there is his business. We just have to be willing to let him help us grow...and care more about that than we do about our happiness.
Anyway, I just feel like the more I read the more I feel like I need to know more. This is especially true for me when reading God's word. Just a small sip makes you feel parched. I read a few sentences and then I am suddenly thirsting for more of the refreshment that God always has there for me.
So, I thought I would share some of my favorites with you...(okay, I kinda stole this idea from my new best-friend-I've-never-met, Angie Smith - you can find her blog in my list of favorites). But, I really liked reading through her list of favorites...tells you a lot about a person and also gives you some great reading suggestions. So, maybe you should send me your lists, too. Enjoy.
The Mark of the Lion Series - Francine Rivers
The Atonement Child (reading it now...AMAZING) - Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love - Francine Rivers
...are you noticing a theme here? :)
The Screwtape Letters - C.S. Lewis
The Present Darkness - Frank Peretti
The Bible - God
Theology of the Body Explained - Christopher West
The Good News About Sex and Marriage - Christopher West
In the Grip of Grace - Max Lucado
It's Not About Me - Max Lucado
Wild at Heart - John Eldredge
Waking the Dead - John Eldredge
The Lamb's Supper - Scott Hahn
Hail, Holy Queen - Scott Hahn
First Comes Love - Scott Hahn
Mere Christianity - C.S. Lewis
The Five Love Languages - Gary Chapman
A Woman After God's Own Heart - Elizabeth George
Treasures Uncovered: The Parables of Jesus - Jeanne Kun
Courageous Love - Stacy Mitch
Mystery of the Kingdom - Edward Sri
Night Light (couple's devotional) - James and Shirley Dobson
Anything written by Dr. Seuss or Shel Silverstein
You're My Little Love Bug - Heidi R. Weimer
I Love You Forever - Robert N. Munsch
The Polar Express - Chris Van Allsburg
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day - Judith Viorst
The Monster at the End of this Book - Jon Stone
The Kissing Hand - Audrey Penn
The Very Hungry Caterpillar - Eric Carle
Guess How Much I Love You - Sam McBratney
The Hundred Dresses - Eleanor Estes
Randall's Wall - Carol Fenner
The Art of Natural Family Planning - John and Sheila Kippley
What to Expect When You're Expecting - Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
What to Expect the First Year - Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel
Husband Coached Childbirth - Robert Bradley
The Happiest Baby on the Block - Harvey Karp
The Five Love Languages of Children - Gary Chapman
Really, there are far too many books for me to list, but I thought I would at least share this much. I really do hope I get to hear some of your favorites! :)
The Beautiful Face of Christ
I am setting myself up for failure, and I am taking a risk. There is certainty of failure in that what I want to try to write about can't be captured in words. It's a little like trying to capture the essence of the mountains or the ocean on a 4 by 6 picture. You can't help but take the picture, but you can't help but be disappointed by the result. No matter how many pictures you take and how many different angles, it simply does not do justice to the subject. I am also taking a risk. It's always a risk to write about what you feel, because, after all, someone might read it. Even worse, there is the distinct possibility of becoming sappy as you try to put your feelings into words. I hate sappiness. It makes me want to gag. But, just as I have been compelled to take literally hundreds of pictures of the mountains, I also have to try to write this.
The subject of this little composition is my friends. Now there are friends, and there are friends. These are the friends that everyone wants, but far too few people have. These are the friends that cry with you and laugh with you and laugh at you. These are the friends that are always there to encourage you and that are always there to tell you when you're being stupid. I would try to name names, but how can I? I might miss someone- because I'm good like that- and it doesn't matter anyway, because they all know who they are.
I have had friends before. In high school and college, there are friends all over the place. They're great to hang out with and many of them helped me in my walk with God...but now that I've been out of college a few (five!) years, I find that there are few people that I still keep in touch with. In grad school, I had some wonderful classmates and roommates. I do still keep in touch with them, but if we're not making small talk or talking about physical therapy things, it can get kind of awkward in a real big hurry. There are always those close friends here and there that know all your warts and love you anyway, but this is even bigger than that, though it certainly applies.
How do you even explain what it is? It's a group of people that have come together with a heart for Christ and who want to deeply search for the truth and who want to have a lot of fun along the way. I truly don't know how to explain it, other than to say that it is friendship the way God meant it to be. I remember when my parents made us read about the saints growing up, and I always thought that it was ironic that so many of the saints "happened" to know each other. I am beginning to see that it is more likely that it is a case that each helped (pushed) the others along the way.
That is not to say that we do not have our faults. We get petty and annoyed. We gossip and hurt each other's feelings. At times we even take each other for granted. Yet, there is something there, Someone that is bigger than any one of us.
I feel that I have known these people forever, but the calendar does not agree. It's actually been only a couple of years for me. Let me try to tell you what that's been like for me. At first, it was simply awkward. I can be shy, and I'm definitely introverted, and this was one large, loud group...and we usually end up being packed into someone's small apartment, so it seems like the place is going to bust apart at the seams. Most of them had known each other forever, so I felt like an outsider, and never got all the inside jokes. Yet, somehow, they kept inviting me back, and I always came. I could tell this was a group of people that I wanted to get to know better.
I finally started to get to know the names and faces a little better and start to figure out who fit in where and how. It really got deeper, though, when I started going to the women's Bible study. Every Thursday night, we meet for dinner and time together. Sometimes we even study the Bible. But this has become the place that we talk about anything and everything, from small talk to God, the good, the bad and the ugly. They challenge me, and they have been the means that God has used for my spiritual life to grow by leaps and bounds.
The guys are also very special to me. I wish that all women could be around guys like these. They are guys in that they can be crude and raucous and proud of an especially loud or stinky fart, but they are also manly in a way that few men are. As a woman, I can say that there are few men that are as respectful of women as these guys are. I honestly don't know how they do it, but they have made me see my worth as a woman in a whole new way. I've tried to think of specific examples, but it's all the little things in the way that they show their respect for all of us women. They also unabashedly love and value children, in a society that says children are a nuisance and a bother. I'm not going to lie, though. They have been known to run from a poopy diaper.
I was once accused of being too picky in finding a guy to date. There was a challenge made that maybe my standards were too high and that's why I'm still single, because what I'm looking for doesn't exist. That is not true. They do exist, and I will be single until I find someone that can treat me the way these guys treat their wives/girlfriends.
I love that there is so much talent in this group and the way that it is used to honor God. I love that I know if I spend the weekend with them, Mass will be a priority. I love that when we go to a Mass, or someone's wedding or a baptism, people see us as a group and see something there that is so special that many have commented on it. I love knowing that hanging out and a game of shooting each other with nerf guns may be paused for a serious theological question. I love knowing that these people are my friends now, and that even as the group changes as some move away and others move in and all the other changes that life brings, they will be my friends when we are in eternity with Christ as well. I thank God for them.
How do I explain who these people are? They are my friends. They are my family. They are the beautiful face of Christ in my life.
Videos to come!
Love love love.
Anyway, we are finishing the meal and Roman starts leaning on my arm because he is so tired. So, I leave Joe to pay the bill while I take Ro to the bathroom to change his diaper and put on his PJs so he can go to sleep in the car and we can just carry him right in to his crib. Seems like a great plan right?
We get into the bathroom and the changing table is in the handicapped stall, so I walk in, close the door and get Roman settled on the table. I hand Roman his blanket so I have a free hand to reach into the diaper bag and pull out a fresh diaper. He immediately throws the blanket over his head, off the changing table, and into the toilet. Crap. What now??? Okay, so only part of the blanket was in the toilet, but...EWW!! I drag the sopping wet-toilet water end out of the commode and drop it on the floor while I finish the diaper change and figure out how the heck I am going to handle this situation.
We finish. I roll the wet end of the blanket into the dry end so that I am not carrying a dripping pee blanket out of the restaurant. I throw it on the floor in the car, santize my whole arm that carreid the blanket, and it goes immediately into the wash when we get home. Big day.
On Sunday morning, all 15 of us and went to church in Rockwell City. We sat in the choir loft of this small-town church, and pretty much filled it. After the opening song, the priest looked up at all of us and said "Holy smokes! We have more people in the choir loft than we do down here!" This was, of course, quite an exaggeration, but they were happy to have us and we were happy to be so warmly welcomed.
The gospel reading was from Matthew 14, where, during a storm, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water. They think that He is a ghost...so Peter, trying to determine if it really is Christ, tells him "Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water". Jesus replies "Come". Peter goes to him...he walks on water through the power of Christ, but when he realizes that he is walking on water he becomes frightened and starts to sink. Jesus, of course, reaches out to him and upholds him in his moment of doubt.
So, the priest is reflecting on this reading and says "You know, we aren't called to success. We are called to faithfulness". The truth is that Peter could not physically walk on water. And you know what?
Jesus knew that.
Jesus knew that Peter could not in a million years walk on water. He knew that after less than a split second of Peter attempting to walk on water, it would be bath time for our good buddy Pete. Peter couldn't walk on water. We can't walk on water. The truth is that Jesus knows all of this and yet he says "Come". Why?? Why would Jesus beckon Peter out onto the sea? He certainly didn't want Peter to drown...this guy is supposed to be building the church!
Why would Jesus put us in these situations where we are sure we are destined to fail??
The truth is that you and I are a bunch of failures. :) Keep going with me here. You and I...on our own...are just a "beautiful letdown" (as our friends in the band Switchfoot would say). Jesus knew that Peter wouldn't succeed.
But, Jesus knew that He could sustain Peter.
What I find fascinating (and 0h, so relatable) is that Peter asked Christ to summon him. Peter knew that Jesus could sustain him, but when it came down to it, he still doubted because he knew that he was dealing with his flesh. When he stopped trusting that God could overcome this situation regardless of his weakness…he sank.
It's so appropriate. We have to ask Christ to come in and work in us. And how many times do we doubt? We have professed that he is capable. We know that God can handle it. We are aware that all we have to do is remain faithful.
Jesus knew that all Peter had to do was be faithful to the call. Jesus wasn't asking him to figure out a way to overcome the physically impossible. Jesus was asking him to be faithful. All He wanted Peter to do was trust. Seems simple, right? We read that Peter, in his moment of doubt starts sinking. And we think, "Gosh, he was walking on water. He was so far already. All he had to do was keep his eyes on Christ."
Seems simple. He was walking on water…what’s not to trust??
All God wants from us is our faithfulness…to keep our eyes on Christ and walk toward Him. That seems simple, but you and I both know that God asks us to do uncomfortable things sometimes. Go talk to that woman who is sitting by herself. Heart-breaking things. Praise me in a time of mourning. Impossible things. Go to another country...for a year. But He's asking because he wants to show us that he is faithful. He can sustain us.
You don't have to be a "success". God isn’t asking you to do something great. He is asking you to rely on Him when you’re thinking “I’m going to drown”. God certainly wants us to use our gifts to honor him, but the truth is that nothing we accomplish in this life is going to matter much unless we are greeted with the words "Well done, good and faithful servant" in the next.
I have been writing down quotes that have touched me while I was reading (I borrowed this copy...just thought that maybe my friend Anna doesn't want her book scribbled in, underlined, and with my personal thoughts forever scrawled all over the pages).
Anyway, I was going back through the quotes that I had written down. So many of them caught my eye again. (Have I mentioned that I would really like to write a book someday? The more I think about this, and the more that I read thought-provoking books that really change me for the better, the more I desire to make a difference in that way. Not the point, but thought you should know.)
C.S. Lewis is phenomenal with analogies. As soon as he gives an example I think "wow, that is complex...don't know if I am going to be able to follow this" and then he explains it in such a way that makes it crystal clear. There are so many things that I love about his writing. So, here is a little snippet for you to sample:
There is no other. As the song states "There's a God-shaped hole in all of us". We have a void that can only be filled with Christ. How many times have I sought after something that was going to really bring fulfillment in my life? Someone that would be a comfort to me? It doesn't matter what we try to fill it with...destructive things, things that seem insignificant, or even things that are good things - things that are God-given, if we don't fill the void with Christ himself, we are incomplete and cannot experience the life that he offers us...life to the fullest.
My friend Kim sent me this video the other day. It is the story of a baby girl, Audrey, born to some amazing Christian parents, Todd and Angie (Todd is a member of the Christian band, Selah). The family was told at one of their ultrasounds that she had several problems that would most likely be fatal. The doctors recommended that she terminate the pregnancy. The song and video are such a beautiful witness to how they handled the situation. Baby Audrey lived two and a half hours instead of the two minutes that they thought she might live. It's a tear jerker for sure, but totally worth watching. This family is so beautiful...yet another example of how precious life is, no matter our circumstances. I added the Smith family blog to my "blogs that I love section" because I was just so blessed reading more about their family and their story. Angie is so willing to be transparent with her struggles and with the things that God is teaching her. Some of her entries about her kids make me laugh out loud because she is just SO honest. I love it...you know that's what every other mom is thinking. :)
As I was watching some additional videos of the Smiths on Youtube, Angie was talking about how they kept trying to prepare themselves for "plan B". They had planned to have a healthy pregnancy and another daughter to bring home and raise to be a Godly woman. After Audrey's diagnosis, they started preparing for the possibility that she may not live but a few minutes...every parent's nightmare of a plan B. But, what she said she has come to realize is that there is no "plan B". Maybe to us, but not to God. God knew. God knew Audrey. God knew how long her life would be. God knew that people would be changed because of her. God doesn't have a plan B. God has a plan. Period.
That is a lot to swallow when you are in a situaion like the Smith family has endured. I can't even begin to imagine such a trying time. I am so thankful for their witness...they have showed that our suffering isn't about us. Our victories are not about us. It's all about God. God is going to do what will bring him glory...what will bring people to him. The Smiths brought Audrey to Him, along with hundreds of others, I am sure. Thank you, Smith family!
The Bible is clear about the topic. The Word of God makes no apolgies for proclaiming that it is the ONLY way we can receive salvation.
It has been such a fun, although sometimes challenging, ride...and I would like to share some of it with you.
- The biggest change we have been dealing with is that Joe's parents and younger sister are moving to South Carolina in August! This is such an awesome opportunity - his dad got offered a job as head of the food science department at Clemson University! Congrats, Dad! He is really excited for the change and we are SO happy for them! We know he will do fantastic work there! Of course, we are a little sad too. It has been nice living so close to them in Boone for the last 9 months or so. Roman's best friend is his grandpa...so we are thankful that the little guy isn't quite old enough to understand that they will be moving. But, we anticpate that it will be a little bit hard for him as he yells "BA-PA!!" everytime we pass their house. :)
- Our nephew Carter is going to be born soon!!! We can't wait to see him!!!!
- Our Godson, Joseph, was baptized a couple of weeks ago...I just haven't shown you any pictures yet! He did a super fabulous job and we expect that he will love Jesus quite a bit because he was very attentive and receptive during the ceremony. We thought he would cry because he hates his bath but his eyes just got wide and he looked very contempletive! What a good little boy! We love him SO much!
- Roman had his first spaghetti, which was quite the experience (and a big deal in Italian families). Fun pictures:
These pictures were taken at the end of July last summer when my brother came home from Iraq. Sometimes I forget that last year on Fourth of July he had already spent a year and half in a war-torn country and was not celebrating, but fighting for his life and the lives of others. It is such a blessing to have him home, to live in a free country, and to be celbrating today with family and friends. God Bless America!