happier than I deserve

I have previously quoted Psalm 27:4 as my life verse.

“One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek,
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek Him in His temple.”

These days I am coming to see that that verse addresses where I want to go.

But there is another one that addresses my past really really well.

I was kinda (okay, more than kinda…a lot) depressed this past January.  I had been out of work since October and no matter how much I deny it, a huge chunk of my self esteem had taken a really big hit.  All the potential job offers that I had hanging out there had fizzled (or at least I thought so at the time) and I was sitting at my home computer struggling to find a scripture to memorize for the first two weeks of January.

For those unfamiliar with me, I participate in the Siesta Scripture Memory Team every other year.  It is in an effort to point my mind and heart toward God and re-train my brain to respond to any situation with HIS words on my heart.  In order for that happen, I have to KNOW His words.  So I memorize.  But I don’t do anything like that very well on my own.  I need accountability, so I am part of an on-line community of women (and a few brave men) who commit to learning a new scripture every two weeks for a whole year.  At the end of the year we have a big get-together in Houston as a reward.  And your ticket is your ability to say all of your scriptures.  Okay, not quite all, we do allow some grace to creep in.  If you want in, just go  here and start logging your scriptures once every two weeks.

Okay, now back to my story.

I was depressed.

I was also supposed to pick a scripture.

I was floundering in a morass of self pity and getting nowhere.

My attitude was quite frankly… lousy.

So I did what I do a lot of times…..I procrastinated.

I waited to see what other scriptures some of the other ladies might pick.  Sometimes I go into the week knowing that I have my scripture for that week.  But other times I just read through the other people’s chosen scriptures and wait for something to jump out at me.

And boy did this one LEAP off of the screen and into my lap.

“The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.
He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness.
These forty years the LORD your God has been with you and you have not lacked anything.”
Deuteronomy 2:7

Okay, the first thing that jumped at me was the age card.  I’m technically 41, but still, the number 40 tends to stand out to me these days.

So, for no better reason than that,  I picked this verse as my first verse for 2011.  I memorized it, but it wasn’t till a couple of mornings ago that I really paid attention to what it says to me.  This verse is PACKED with meaning for me.

Allow me to open it up phrase by phrase.

“The LORD your God”

I am a Christian.  My God, I have chosen to submit to your Lordship.  The word “YOUR” speaks to how personal the relationship really is.

“has blessed you in all the work of your hands”

When I really think about it, the projects that I seem to see the most blessing on in my life are the ones where I have done actually physical WORK.  Not my intellectual accomplishments, but my physical ones.

My writing, my artwork, my housework, my new job, and most especially my home and family.  Every time I pass by the dishes in the sink I feel sick, but if I just stop and do them…I feel peaceful and blessed.  For me, it is starting to become that simple – if there is a task to do I should do it.

“He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness”

Tempting as it is to blame our wilderness experiences in life on some divine plan to teach us to be better people,  I can honestly say that every wilderness that I personally have wandered through I got there on my own two feet.  My own bad choices and sinful behaviors got me into most of the dark places in my history.  I shredded my world with utter abandon.

No one forced me to make the decisions that I did. Many of them were utterly wrong-headed and sinful. Some were willful blindness, others were sheer stupidity on my part.  The miracle of my life now is that with all the stupidity and all the sin…..somehow God has given me

  • a repentant heart that turned back to Him at the same time that Martin’s did
  • a life that is largely free from some of the more dire consequences that *could* have come down on me
  • a God fearing man who leads the spiritual life of my family
  • a baby girl who amazes me everyday
  • and a few close friends who still love me in spite of the mess I diligently tried to make of my life

I am in a place now where I KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did NOTHING to deserve the blessings I have been given.

They ALL come from God.

and for someone like me with a pride problem. This is EXACTLY where I need to be.

In this verse I also hear the ache of my heavenly father’s heart.  He had to watch me go through all that.  Have you ever watched a child do something that you KNOW is gonna hurt, but it will teach them something valuable so you let it happen?

Sure you could have reached out your hand and stopped the cookie jar from falling off the counter, but it is far better to let your toddler learn now that gravity does work, than to have to let her figure it out later in life when the consequences will be bigger….and correspondingly more painful.

It was my journey though.  I had to go through it sometime.  And it comforts me to know that while I was learning all those lessons…My Father God was actually watching me.  He didn’t just put my life on mute and turn his back.  He watched.

“these forty years the LORD your God has been with you”

There is that dang 40 number again.  I’m not gonna talk about that one right now.

I want to talk about one little word in this phrase…..

with

God not only watched over me…He was with me.

Just savor that.

I was NEVER alone.

“and you have not lacked anything”

This is a big one for my inner whinny voice.  I have a voice inside my head that tends to moan a lot.  But this phrase forces me to look honestly at my life and realize that yes.  I have never lacked.

I have always had food.  More than I need most days.

I have always had shelter.  Nice warm, well decorated shelter.

And now?

I am blessed beyond my desserts on so many many levels.

Sometimes I just have to laugh at things like this.  A verse that I picked for the most spurious of reasons turns out to be chock full of so much personal meaning that I could honestly preach a sermon on it.

How about you? Have you ever had God just bowl you over with a revelation in a verse that you had previously taken for granted?  I’d love to hear about it.

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of football and fall

It’s  Fall.

Football season……

and lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a particular piece of football equipment.

the mouth guard.

Intellectually I knew that mouth guards affected speech and I always felt sorry for the guys on the football field trying to speak and to understand each other with those things in their mouths.  It is a familiar sight to see a quarterback take the mouth guard out, call the play, and then put the mouth guard back in before the snap.  Anyone who watches football has seen that happen.

But just how much a mouth guard affects your speech never really sunk in for me till this past week.

I have had to start wearing a mouth guard at night.

No, I am not involved in some bizarre night time sporting activity which requires safety gear.  But I have been clenching my jaw in my sleep for years and it is starting to have a cumulative effect on my teeth.  Initially the dentist was talking about fitting me with an expensive, custom molded mouth guard.  Yikes.  I don’t have bunches of money right now so the prospect of a custom fitted dental appliance was a bit daunting!  But then the hygienist told me a secret.

“couldn’t I just get a football mouth piece?” I joked.

“yup” she said.

Music to my ears!

So the next time I was in Wal-mart I planned to get a football mouth piece.  Just for fun I looked in the dental care section first and lo and behold they had a mouth guard of the “boil and bite” variety that was not built for sports, but instead was designed for folks who clench or grind their teeth.  Perfect!  Just what I needed.  For only $20. Yipeee!

Bought it.  Took it home.  Boiled it.  Bit down.  I now have a mouth guard molded for my teeth that I can use each night to keep me from clenching my teeth all night in my sleep, Hooray!  Okay, actually to be perfectly correct, the mouth guard does NOT keep me from clenching my teeth.  It just keeps my inevitable jaw clenching from doing any damage to my teeth.

Aside from keeping me from damaging my own teeth, the mouth guard has had a major side effect though – I have gained a more personal, visceral understanding of just how difficult it is to speak as you normally would with one of these things in your mouth.  I have a greater appreciation than ever of football players who can manage to make themselves understood on the field.

And I have also gained a new understanding of Psalm 141:3.

Last year I memorized this verse and I intellectually related it to a football mouth guard as a way of helping me remember the verse.

Set a guard over my mouth oh Lord,
keep watch over the door of my lips.
Psalm 141:3

But I hadn’t really understood just what I was asking God for.  I had previously thought of asking God to guard my mouth as essentially me asking God to  “stop me from speaking Lord.”   But I look at it very differently now.  Now that I have actually had a mouth guard in my own mouth I realize that really it is more that

the mouth guard fundamentally distorts your speech.

It’s not that you can’t talk.  You can.  Reasonably well actually.  But the mouth guard profoundly affects everything you say.  Your voice sounds a bit different, your pronunciations change, your ability to make any clipped sounds or sharp, crisp cut offs of consonants is gone, and glottal stops are just out the window.  Having a mouth guard in even, to a certain extent, affects your breathing mechanics.  And to a small extent it changes some facial expressions.

When I think now of asking God to “set a guard in my mouth” and realize that the guard He will place in me is the Holy Spirit, that whole last paragraph takes on spiritual meaning.

With the Holy Spirit in me, my voice should sound different.  My pronouncements will change.  My ability to be short with people and in my conversation should go away.  My every breath should be a prayer.  And if God is IN ME, He will affect even my facial expressions.

I Want God to Fundamentally Distort My Speech.

My personal paraphrase of Psalm 141:3 as a prayer now goes something like this –

“Set your Holy Spirit in my very mouth LORD, profoundly affect my every word, make it so that I cannot speak at all without betraying that YOU are in me.  Watch over me Lord.  Affect my breathing, and my expressions Jesus.   If I try to take out your guard so that I can speak in my old sinful selfish way, SEE me Lord and let your Holy Spirit kick me so that I do not take out my mouth guard. Ever.”

It is one of my most frequent prayers these days.  Well, other than “Lord, please do something ‘bout dem DAWGS”…………..


valentines day just came early

ah spring!

Young love!

the adrenaline rush!

the anxiety!

the rainy day trip to the bookstore…..what?

what does a rainy day trip to the bookstore have to do with love?

Well what would you say if I told you my wonderful man got up at 7:00 a.m. this morning, on his day off, dressed our toddler girl up, complete with bow I might add, and drove an hour and a half across town, in the rain to stand in line to go to a book signing.  A book signing of an author who means a lot to us both, but really more to me.  Mostly ’cause I’m the slightly hysterical female here.

Does that sound like love to you?

it does to me.

Did I mention that he did all this and sent me updates while I was stuck at work?  Things like.  “Ginny fed, dressed and adorable. leaving house now” and “arrived in parking lot. all is well”  and “in line. 30 women. one other man”

and then came the text that said that not only had he met the author, she was very gracious and sweet….even though Ginny cried almost through the whole thing.  Oh, and he says that when he mentioned my blog name she stopped in her tracks….and said she knew who I was.  um…….Wow. Can that feeling be gift wrapped?

As far as I’m concerned I need to bring HIM flowers for Valentines.  First he bought me my dream fridge a couple of years ago for Valentines, and he always hand delivers flowers to my work.  I thought it couldn’t get any better, but today. …the love he showed me in entering into this enthusiasm so completely with me…..Lord you are too good to me.

Oh….did I mention that he PROUDLY wore a pink feather boa through the whole thing?  it’s a Siesta thang.

Proud Papa and Ginny in line

the line was a little too long for Ginny. She melted down right when they reached Beth

papa trying everything to calm Ginny down. singing, animal crackers....anything!

...sign the book to my wife, she's got a blog "screamofcontinuousness"...

"well I certainly do know who your wife is"

and then, as they said goodbye, Martin did something that he may never be forgiven (by other Siestas) for doing…

he. squished. Beth Moore's. hair.

fortunately it seems to have recovered immediately.

perhaps everything will be alright after all.

I promise that tomorrow I will go back to being a normal 40 year old with a toddler and a superlatively wonderful husband.  I’ll stop sounding like such a freakish fan-girl over Beth Moore.  I AM a fan, but I’m not a freak…..  But that’s tomorrow.  Right now I’m gonna go start reading the book that he went to so much trouble to get signed for me.

and count myself as one blessed woman.

thank you Beth, for being so sweet and gracious to a tired, flustered daddy and child.  You made my day…oh heck, you made my month.

and thank you Martin. for being so wonderful in the first place.

have my baby..please?

Can you possibly imagine that line as the start of a deep, meaningful friendship?

Well, I can.

Cause I once asked that very question of someone.  They turned me down and then proceeded to become a major part of my life.

What on earth am I talking about you ask? (or maybe you’ve already stopped reading ’cause I’ve offended you…)

Well back a few years ago when I was still reeling from our failed IVF tries one of the options the doctor mentioned was to have a surrogate mother carry a baby for us.  We could either use our own …um….material, or just my husband and the surrogate.  That last option completely turned me off, but the idea of having someone carry our child for us was not completely repugnant, so we agreed to think about it.  But then the doctors  started telling me all the stuff we would need to look into to find a surrogate.  DNA testing for the surrogate and descriptions and interviews…it was all so cold and clinical.  We were turned off by the whole process, so we put the notion on the shelf and got on with the process of healing our sore hearts.

Another friend who had been going through infertility issues herself pointed me to a wonderful blog post by a person named Missy.  It was all about how God never puts us in a place or situation without there being a reason, a meaning in it.

After reading that first post I kept reading.  and reading.  and reading.  I really liked this lady.  I liked her style and I envied her the ability to have four kids.  Her fertility and my infertility were in stark contrast to each other, and the thought crossed my mind…I wonder if she would be willing to be a surrogate for us?

I took my courage in both hands, and emailed her.

She very compassionately said, no.  And for a very good reason – Missy had had a rough delivery with her last baby and she was scared to try again.  Which is perfectly understandable.

Now this COULD have been a humiliating moment for me, but Missy made it into the beginning of a sweet relationship.  And no matter how depressed I got, or how frustrated with God’s timing, she kept pointing me back to God and reminding me that He is GOOD and He had not forgotten me.

Eventually, after a lot of healing and soul searching, we chose to adopt domestically and we could not possibly have been more blessed than we are to have Ginny.  Her birth parents are a wonderful part of our family life and they know how much we love them.  I honestly would not trade Ginny for any child of my own body.

But beyond helping me with my emotional healing, Missy did something far greater for me – she pointed out a prejudice that I was holding on to unjustly and opened my eyes to the amazing ministry of a lovely lady in Houston named Beth Moore.

Since then it’s been three years of non-stop blessing. Accountability,  Bible studies,  discussions, scripture memory teams, and now I’m EIGHT DAYS away from FINALLY meeting MISSY.

so Missy, thank you for NOT having my babies.

Ginny at the ranch

These are some long over due photos from Martin’s niece Whitney’s wedding to a wonderful guy named Nate.  I was a bad mommy and didn’t get any pictures while we were there.  I owe a debt of gratitude to Marcia for capturing these moments and sending them to me.

The venue is out at the family ranch in Texas.  Enjoy

Just to set the stage – here are the bride and groom getting married in the exact same spot that Whitney’s parents got married in some 20+ years before.

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Whitney & Nate

 

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Ginny and Martin by the fence.

Where are the cows daddy?  I know I heard cows…..

 

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she really liked the fence....

 

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Ben & Graham

And her cousins.  She likes the cousins.

 

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back to the fence

I’m telling you , she really liked the fence.

summer fun 2009

technically this doesn’t count as Ginny’s first swimming experience.  It was just a water/playmat thing.  You hook up a hose to it and water sprinkles out in all kind of neat ways that Ginny loved playing with.  It belongs to our neighbor who invited us over to hang out in the yard.

But it was her first time outside

in a bathing suit

playing in water that wasn’t a bathtub.

so I felt it deserved at least a few photographs.

ginny and annabelle

ginny and annabelle

ginny and her new favorite chew toy: a frog

ginny and her new favorite chew toy: a frog

I like the water mommy!

I like the water mommy!

Ginny also grasped the concept of waving byebye and saying byebye today.  and I THINK she said “a-done” for all done when she was ready to stop eating at lunch.

oh, and I have to show you how cute she was this morning in her hair bow that Auntie Missy sent

she's the bald one. the one with all the hair is Martin

she's the bald one. the one with all the hair is Martin

is this girl a flirt or what?

is this girl a flirt or what?

I don’t know how I go to work everyday and leave her with my mom.  I really don’t.  I’m completely jealous.

the family gathers….at funerals

like a lot of large extended families, our tends to gather together only at funerals.

two weekends ago we experienced this yet again when Martin’s Aunt Charlotte died. Martin saw people he hasn’t seen in 9 or more years and I meet family members that I had never seen before. It’s not that these people weren’t important to him. It’s that everyone is widely scattered that it is hard to get the various elements of the family all in one spot at one time.

The myth inside our heads is always “oh, I can do a reunion any old year, (blank) is more important this time, so I’ll just skip the reunion” and that’s assuming that your family even tries to have a reunion.

I’m gonna start pushing reunions more.

Here’s a photo of the folks that Martin and I gather with gather fairly frequently (at least once a year and often twice):

the small version of the clan

the small version of the clan

and this is a photo of all the family members who gathered for aunt Charlotte’s funeral (some of these folks had never met before and some hadn’t seen each other in almost a decade!):

most of the erntire clan

most of the entire clan

next time I have to pose for a group photo, some one please remind me that I look much skinnier BEHIND other people. there’s too much of my fat arm showing in this last photo. oh well.

Anyway. family is important.