Sunday, February 28, 2010

Perfecting Prayer Time

1st Monday Every Month at Chrysalis
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How I wish this months topic were an easy one! This one is downright hard.
I'd love to tell you that my husband and I spend effortless time in prayer together regularly. I'd love to tell you that we spend hours in deep spiritual conversation. But I'd rather be very real with you.

My husband and I both grew up in the church. Both of us grew up going to church with our mothers while our fathers stayed home. His church was very conservative and straight-laced. My church was charismatic and loud. Neither of us grew up with family devotions or organized prayer time.

In the beginning of our marriage, we were quite frankly immature and did not spend a great deal of time thinking about our faith. We were in our early 20s and independent for the first time in our lives. Neither of us were comfortable in the other's church, and the church we were married in was so very different from what we were used to that we sorely neglected our church attendance.

Once we had children, however, the full measure of that responsibility settled in. We prayed as newlyweds, but as parents, we realized that we were going to need to walk the walk and not just talk the talk.

My husband and I do pray, but, other than pre-meal blessings, not together. I have a deeper interest in formal Bible study than he does and he is more apt to casually pick up his Bible than I am. He much prefers to pray silently and I am comfortable with praying aloud. My wish is that we can find more ways in which to spend time in prayer as a couple and more time studying God's word together. We are striving toward that goal, but we have by no means arrived.

Prayer is so very important to our relationship with the Lord. A pastor once used the illustration of a triangle to demonstrate how a couple, both earnestly growing closer to God will grow closer to each other in the process (picture a diagram with God at the top point of the triangle and the man and woman as the lower points. The closer the lower points are to the top point, the closer the lower points are to each other).

So, basically to sum this up, prayer time, as a couple, is an area my husband and I would have to classify as being "under construction".

Friday, February 26, 2010

Cheerfulness is a Choice

The weather here has been dismal.
Grey has been the prevelent color for weeks. The snow is mottled grey, the trees are dark grey, the mountains are blue-grey, the sky is pale grey and the streets are always grey. Our moods tend to turn a bit grey as well.
Such drab surroundings make it hard to see the beauty in ordinary things. At this point in winter, people tend to forget that in just a month we will be seeing robins, new green sprigs of grass, crocus and maybe even some blossoms on trees. We will be hearing bird song and that great metallic ping as aspiring little league players dust off their bats and begin to practice. And, oh, that terrific spring smell carried in on a warm breeze. The sun will shine again and coax us out into its warm embrace.
This time of year the novelty of winter has passed. Most people (myself included) are irritable and unhappy from looking at the same landscape day in and day out. We crave a change. We dream of taking off to warmer climes. We hope for the day when we look out our door and see bright blue skies. We put off our happiness until a day comes that makes us happy.
Cheerfulness is a choice. Joy is best when it comes from within. Happiness is only temporary if we wait for something to come along and make us happy. We need to claim it for ourselves and hold on to it with both hands - no matter what is going on around us.
This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24
Rejoice! It can cover up the grey!
Have a blessed day, everyone!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Embarrassing Moments (Rerun)

I originally posted this story in May 2009, but as I found myself telling this story again recently, I thought that maybe I would repost it just for fun.

We all have moments like these. I've worn inside out shirts to church. Sleep deprived, I wore a crepe-y thin skirt to work (with a slip) only to find that through the miracle of static cling - the slip had migrated so far north as to become completely useless.

These however pale in comparison to what I'm about to share.
The year after we purchased our house, we came to the extremely unpleasant realization that our roof had reached the age of retirement. Small leaks had alerted us that the roof needed a check up, but one night, around 2 a.m., my husband and I awoke to a very unwanted shower. There was a torrential downpour going out outside, we're talking ark weather people. Water was leaking through our bedroom ceiling, hitting the blades of the ceiling fan and flinging cold rainwater directly onto our heads. It was lovely - really. Suddenly awake, hubby and I rushed upstairs to the attic, fully expecting to see nothing but sky judging from the river rushing into our bed. Luckily, we were quickly able to isolate the leak, which wasn't very big, but still letting in a lot of water. I'm sorry to say that neither my husband or myself are very personable people in the wee hours of the morning. Our conversation mainly consisted of snarling and whining and failed attempts at rigging something to stop the water from reaching the wiring running across the attic ceiling. For probably the twentieth time, my husband said, "This isn't working. Don't we have anything else?" In desperation, I ran downstairs to search the kitchen and bathroom and stumbled across an idea, a rather inspired idea, I thought. Rushing back to the attic, where the poor man was standing holding a soaking wet towel against the ceiling, I proudly held out my hands and displayed my emergency roof repair solution. Recoiling, he exclaimed that there must be some other way. Any other way. Being the perfectly submissive wife that I am, I told him if he had any better ideas - use them. Surprisingly, my epiphany worked. The ceiling was temporarily patched and we quickly went back to sleep. I called the roofer the next morning and scheduled an estimate later that week. Fortunately, it did not rain during that time and we temporarily forgot about our ordeal. Until, that is, the roofer and my hubby went up to the attic to check out the ceiling and found three maxi pads duct taped over the leak. The two men descended the stairs red faced and returned to the attic with some, um, more appropriate leak-patching materials.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Happy Birthday!

12 years ago, my husband and I were 24 years old and expecting baby number two. In my 18th week of pregnancy, a blood test (now known for many false positives) indicated that our baby may have Down's Syndrome. This lead to further testing at a much bigger hospital than our little town had to offer. We were naive and hoped to have the test done quickly and be on our way home knowing what to prepare for. We had no idea we were in for a grueling visit with a rather cold genetic counselor followed up by a two week wait for test results. At the meeting with the genetic counselor we were given our options, have the test done and if the test was positive for DS, terminate or just terminate the pregnancy and try again. We were so shocked by her matter of fact presentation of our "options" as she saw them. Of course we were not going to harm our precious baby! Our concern was for his heart, that was all we needed to know about. We were offended and we told her so in no uncertain terms. The test was done, and to our delight, the specialist was forced to wait for our baby to cooperate. Every time the doctor tried to aim the needle for the pocket of fluid he was aiming for, a foot was trust directly into the target area. To add insult to injury, we watched as toes wiggled on the ultrasound screen.
Two weeks went by and we received a post card in the mail informing us that we were going to be the parents of a baby boy - who did not have Down's Syndrome. The remainder of my pregnancy was uneventful and early in the morning of February 20, we set out for a hospital 45 minutes away. En route to the hospital, it occurred to my husband and I that this labor seemed to be progressing much faster than before. By the time we reached the admission desk, I was in dire need of a room. Two hours later, I was presented with a beautiful (and HUNGRY) baby boy.
Oh, the memories. Sigh.
That baby boy is now a 12 year old middle schooler. Funny, smart, athletic and handsome. But, I guess I'm a bit biased. It's my prerogative as his mother. How quickly the time has flown by. Soon, I'm sure, he'll be as tall as I am. Soon after, he'll be taller. But, he will alway be my baby.
Tonight we will be enjoying lime jello cake, lime sherbert and cherry limeade. Birthday boys and girls get to pick their treats at our house, and the boy likes lime, what can I say?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Book Review with a Side of Lunch

This is a first for me. First blog post, posted from a table at a cozy lunch spot.
I recently joined an online group PaperbackSwap.Com. This, as you may have guessed from the self-explanatory name, is a website which allows members from all over the U.S. to swap books. This is the book club of my dreams - cheap, easy and I get books in the mail (I love getting things in the mail!). Due to this stroke on literary good fortune, I have been able to get many of the books that have been on my library wish list.
One of my "wish list" books was Laughing in the Dark by Chonda Pierce. If you are not familiar with this fabulously funny lady, get ready to get acquainted. Chonda is notorious for her sharp and witty Christian comedy, as well as her very honest take on her struggles with clinical depression. Laughing in the Dark is funny, poignant and frank look at life seen through the murky veil of depression. The best part of the book is, that not only does she explain what life in "the pit" is like, and explores a painful past, she lays out a path to recovery.
While I've never experienced everything that Chonda Pierce went through in her turmoil, but I've had my share of time in the dark. Honestly, I think we all have. I found this book so very helpful, and I think that it was an extremely worthwhile read.
As excited as I was to read her book, I'm even more excited to go see her perform next week!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

God Sings!

Zephaniah 3:17 (New King James Version)
The LORD your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.”
This verse is on my mind today, so I thought that I would share it. What a wonderful feeling to know that the One who created the universe and all that is within it, the One who breathes stars into being, the One who construced Mount Everest and the amoeba, rejoices over us with gladness and singing!
Have a terrific day!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

White Out

In case you haven't heard, Pennsylvania got a wee bit of snow today.
Just 18 inches, that's all. No big deal.
I'm so funny, right?
Fortunately, we went to the grocery store before the weather got too treacherous. It has been a lovely, lazy day, full of favorite DVDs, books, and snacks - oh, and there has been some shoveling going on, too!
One of our snacks was an old favorite - snow ice cream. It is simple to make and something fun to do with freshly fallen snow. First, get a big mixing bowl of clean snow. In a separate bowl, mix 2 cups of whole milk, 1 cup of sugar and 1 T of vanilla. Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of snow and stir. Serve immediately.
I must go now and shovel again. Signing off from the great white Keystone state!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

A Jonah Day

One of my favorite series of books is Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. Anne's personality just leaps off of the pages, so much so that I've absorbed some of her vocabulary into my own. Anne has a special name for a day in which nothing goes right - a Jonah Day.
Today was most definitely a Jonah Day.
Yesterday, I was informed by a friend that a very nasty stomach bug is circulating throughout our local school district. Last night, I was given irrefutable evidence collaborating that information. My daughter had a very looooooong night and so did I. Running on empty, I went to work, knowing she was in good hands, but feeling guilty anyway. I spent my day in a sleep deprived fog, which was very counterproductive to the tasks at hand.
It was one of those days where you keep trying to do the right thing, but the wrong thing prevails. It was most assuredly a Jonah Day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Valentines Day - Every Day

Valentine's Day has never been my favorite holiday. The premise is wonderful, a holiday celebrating romantic love - what could be better?
Hallmark beckons to us. Florists flaunt their wares. Candy shops fill their store windows with red, heart shaped chocolate boxes. Love is not only in the air, it's everywhere.
Please don't think I'm jaded, I'm not. I love beautiful cards, flowers and chocolate as much as the next girl. I'm just saying that just as we should not isolate our celebration of love to just one day, we need to look for love in ordinary days, too.
When my husband cooks supper because I've had a long day at work - that's love!
When he volunteers to pick up our daughter from a late night band competition - that's love!
When he gives me a kiss in the middle of the grocery store - that's love!
When he lends and understanding ear - that's love!
I'm sure we will be exchanging cards and celebrating Valentines Day on a small scale this year, but we will be celebrating love every day! I think I'll end by sharing what the Bible has to say on the subject:
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

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. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.