Fall 2013-dark leaves

Friday, December 31, 2010

Stepping Heavenward--on being quick-tempered

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss  p. 187-188

Ernest (her husband) said, "...I want you to make a distinction for yourself, which I made for you, between ill-temper, and the irritability that is the result of a goaded state of the nerves.  Until you do that, nothing can be done to relieve you from what I am sure distresses and grieves you exceedingly.  Now, I suppose that whenever you speak to me or the children in this irritated way that you lose your own self-respect, for the time, at least, and feel degraded in the sight of God also."

"Oh, Ernest! there are no words in any language that mean enough to express the anguish I feel when I speak quick, impatient words to you, the one human being in the universe whom I love with al lmy heart and soul, and to my darling little children who are almost as dear!  I pray and mourn over it day and night.  God only knows how I hate myself on account of this one horrible sin!"

"It is a sin only as you deliberately and willfully fulfill the conditions that lead to such results.  Now I am sure if you could once make up your mind in the fear of God, never to undertake more work of any sort than you can carry on calmly, quietly, without hurry or flurry, and the instant you find yourself growing nervous and like one out of breath, would stop and take breath, you would find this simple, commonsense rule doing for you what no prayers or tears could ever accomplish.  Will you try it for one month, my darling?"

"But we can't afford it," I cried, with almost a groan.  "Why, you have told me this very day that our expenses must be cut down, and now you want me to add to them by doing less work.  But the work must be done.  The children must be clothed, and there is not end to the stitches to be taken for them, and your stockings must be mended -you make enormous holes in them! and you don't like it if you ever find a button lacking to a shirt or your supply of shirts getting low."

"All you say may be true," he returned, "but I am determined that you shall not be driven to desperation as you have been of late."

By this time we had reached the house where his visit was to be made, and I had nothing to do but lean back and consider all he had been saying, over and over again, and to see its reasonableness while I could not see what was to be done for my relief.  Ah, I have often felt in moments of bitter grief at my impatience with my children, that perhaps God pitied more than He blamed me for it!  And now my dear husband was doing the same! 

...Ernest said, "Just think, dear, suppose for fifty or a hundred or two hundred dollars a year you could buy a sweet, cheerful, quiet tone of mind, would you hesitate one moment to do so?  And you can do it if you will.  You are not ill-tempered but quick-tempered; the irritability which annoys you so is a physical infirmity which will disappear the moment you cease to be goaded into it by that exacting mistress you have hitherto been to yourself."

Months ago my counselor said I needed to offer grace to myself.  Maybe I'll try grace through deep breaths. 

Stepping Heavenward--on peace

Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss.  p. 129-130

   I have just been to see Mrs. Campbell.  In answer to my routine of lamentations, she took up a book and read me what was called, as nearly as I can remember, "Four Steps that Lead to Peace." The four steps she read are as follows:

   "Be desirous of doing the will of another, rather than your own.'
   "Choose always to have less, rather than more.'
   "Seek always to the lowest place, and to be inferior to every one.'
   "Wish always, and pray, that the will of God may be wholly fulfilled in you.'

   I was much struck with these directions; but I said, despondently:  "If peace can only be found at the end of such hard roads, I am sure I shall always be miserable."

   "Are you miserable now?" she asked.

   "Yes, just now I am.  I do not mean that I have no happiness; I mean that I am in a disheartened mood, weary of going round and round in circles, committing the same sins, uttering the same confessions, and making no advance."
   "My dear," she said, after a time, "have you a perfectly distinct, settled view of what Christ is to the human soul?"

  "I do not know.  I unerstand, of course, more or less perfectly, that my salvation depends on Him alone; it is His gift."

  "But do you see, with equal clearness, that your sanctification must be as fully His gift, as your salvation is?"

  "No," I said, after a little thought.  "I have had a feeling that He has done His part, and now I must do mine."

   "My dear," she said, with such tenderness and feeling, "then the first thing you have to do is to learn Christ."

   "But how?"

   "On your knees, my child, on your knees!"  She was tired and I came away; and I have indeed been on my knees.

Oh, peace sounds nice.  Plus, those are such practical and implement-able things to do.  (I like a list!)  And wisdom would be greatly appreciated.  The Bible says all I have to do is ask (so it says somewhere in James chapter 1).  So I'm hitting my knees in 2011, literally.  There's something about praying on your knees.  I highly recommend it if you haven't tried it.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mixed Emotions

How can I be
1. nauseated at the volume of gifts and toys our family received -- i.e. it's too much, while being
2. honestly, truly thankful for what we did receive, and yet
3. bitterly jealous that I didn't some other things.

Those dots just don't line up.  Lord, please take away my sin of entitlement.  Gifts all come from you through many different ways.  And they're gifts, not prizes I earn or treats I deserve.  Free gifts given to me through the sacrifices of the giver.  What I receive is up to them.  Please change my heart to be more wholly grateful.  So grateful and joyful that the jealousy and bitterness are pushed out entirely. 

And remind me momently that your SACRIFICE to give me salvation through Jesus, through a faith you GIVE me, is truly the GREATEST AND ONLY GIFT I need.  It should supply all the joy and contentment I need.  And does, when I keep a right perspective.  But this has been my heart's struggle over the last few days.

Now don't get me wrong--it has been a wonderful, fabulous Christmas with all our family.  I'd say the very best ever. :)  And largely because I'm seeing my sin in new ways and fighting against it.  That's always good.

We hope you had a Merry Christmas too!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Chloe Kathryn Pruitt

I'm a little late posting the joyous news, but Chloe Kathryn was born to Emily and John Pruitt (my brother) on Thursday, December 9!  She came in at 7lb 7oz, and 18 1/2 inches long.  I wish I had a picture to share, but not yet.  We will see them in a bit, so hopefully I can show you how beautiful she is very soon.  It will be interesting and cool to see my little brother being a dad.  

Anna (my sis) is planning on coming up to Shreveport when we're there, and I'm so glad.  John and Emily won't travel for Christmas, so this is the one opportunity for all 3 of us to be together with our families.  Minus Stephen, Anna's other half.  But we'll see him at Mom and Dad's later on.

Just remembered right this minute that today is Stephen's birthday.  21 minutes to spare--plenty of time!  So is a text an appropriate acknowledgement of your bil's birthday?  I hope so!

OK, my better half needs my help--better scoot.  Merry Christmas, y'all, in case I don't get back to this before next Saturday.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oh, well...

FYI, the potential renters decided to not take our house. 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

House Stuff

Have I shared on here how the Lord provided us with our first renters, the Cooks?  Amy came to see the house for the first time the day the movers were there.  She walked through the chaos with me, loved the house, and handed me a cash deposit on the spot.  Our prayer had been that God would bring renters before we moved to St Louis, and he did.  The night before we left town.

Today, on the day the movers are there for the Cooks, one of the men helping load the moving truck called his sister about the house.  She and her husband went over, walked through the chaos, loved it, and called Brian right away.  They've asked to see a lease agreement, which we promptly emailed.  Our prayer has been that we'd be provided a renter/buyer that we could sign papers with while we are in Bham over Christmas.  This is promising...

So pray on, friends!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Anniversary Top 10

Top Ten things about being Rebecca Brown:

10.  It's an easy last name to spell--no clarification necessary.

9.  Brown also sounds pretty cute with Rebecca.

8.  My mother-in-law is the best mother-in-law you've ever heard of.  Seriously. 

7.  Marrying a man from your church means you get to stay at that church without any haggling!

6.  Brian has great taste--he always out-orders me at a restaurant and can tell me which shoe looks better with a particular outfit--great assetts in a husband.  His great taste also landed me! ;)

5.  Brian was also the best-kept secret in Birmingham.  He's soooooo funny and kind and gracious and compassionate and patient and has great hair (although that's not a secret) and loves his God and his family fiercely.  I'm just lucky no one figured it all out before I did.

3.  I get to be that man's wife, hopefully for another 5 decades or so.  Lord willing we'll have a long life together!

2.  Sarah Frances, Catherine, Patrick and Lillian Brown

1.  I don't deserve any of these wonderful things--God is simply so gracious and oh so good to me!

And please feel free to add anything that you know I forgot.  The list could go on and on...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Ready, Set, Go

I'm going to have to stop calling our friends the Cooks our renters, because they expect to be out of the house on Saturday.  I'll definitely have to call them our partners in ministry though because of how many ways they have helped us since we moved here to start our ministry career.  We have been so blessed to be in relationship with them, and had we been neighbors, I feel like we would have been great friends.  Both sides are disappointed that circumstances are changing, but we are all trusting in our good, soverign Lord to place us in the right new ones.

As far as the house goes, we've contracted with a realtor and there should be a sign in the yard this weekend.  The woman from last week has decided our house is not for her.  I'm not even sure she went through it, which is fine.  There are SO MANY options for buyers now.  But you can pray with us that someone wants 3637 Leslie Ann Rd for a Christmas gift! :)

In other news, I'm struggling with my back.  Silly me tried to lift Patrick (50+ pounds) out of the big side of a shopping cart last week and it pulled my lower right side some.  Then this afternoon as I was turning around, my left ankle rolled hard and my entire right side wrenched.  So now all the inner, core muscles on my right side--my hip flexors in front, my lower back, and my back side up to the middle of my ribcage--are knotted and tight.  I've iced and taken my ibuprofen, but this is not the time for an injury! 

Lastly, it's finals time.  Brian has 2 more to go, as far as I can remember.  We're pretty out of touch lately, but tomorrow is our TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY.  We have a date Sat. for dessert, so I can probably tell you more details after that.  I do know he's planning on taking his Hebrew final on Friday morning.

Oh, and tomorrow is also when we expect our first Pruitt cousin to make her debut.  Emily and John will go in for an induction in the morning.  More details on Chloe Kathryn Pruitt as I know them.

So prayers all around, please. 

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I did not grow up celebrating Advent, per se.  Or maybe it was mentioned, but I don't remember.  It probably sounded too Catholic, lol.  And there's a lot I don't remember about my childhood anyway, so maybe it was taught and I've forgotten.  Come to think of it, we did have this beautiful felt calendar (I think my mother made?) that we flipped a number on every day in December.  ANYWAY...I also know I've been in a church for the last 12 or more years that most likely did teach about celebrating Advent but I don't really remember it from there either.  Before tonight, I'm sure I've heard about it and probably sung about it and been taught about it plenty of times but didn't get it.

Tonight I got it.  We went to an Advent Hymn Sing.  We sang many exquisite, old, familiar hymns and several exquisite new ones I'm going to learn.  And Scriptures were read.  And Psalms sung too.  Then tonight when I was putting the kids down and saying prayers, I prayed that we would anticipate Jesus' return as much as we anticipate celebrating his birth.  And it clicked in my mind at the same time the words were coming out of my mouth.  Yes, Advent helps us richly cherish "the reason for the season" but it also points us to Christ's final return.  So now I think we should celebrate Advent all year long.  Am I so new to this Advent thing that there is already a name for anticipating his ultimate return that I've not clued into yet?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

House news

Just a fair warning--I so believe in prayer.  I know what God has done for me and my family in the past because the saints lifted us up in prayer, and so I have no qualms about asking for it again.  So get ready, if you're annoyed by prayer updates and requests, you might want to take a break from reading this blog.

I'm not going to post play-by-play updates on FB or email blasts.  Because while I believe in prayer, I understand it can be annoying too because circumstances change so often, esp. in real estate.  My thinking is that you don't get to this blog by accident; it's your choice, so I won't feel bad about giving you quick updates as they happen.

So today we got an email from a woman interested in a lease to purchase with $20k down of our house in Bham.  I admit I don't know the details of how that works, but I do see in it the word "purchase" and understand enough to know if she decides our is the house for her, we wouldn't miss making any of our mortgage payments.  We have some calls out to realty friends who can help us.  My prayer is that God--for his amazing glory--would provide a buyer for our house through this woman who found it online available for rent.  That could ONLY happen by God's provision and not of our own doing, and would be yet another miracle in the story of our housing-through-seminary.

Please pray with us that God would have this work out.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Believe what I believe

I'm trying to believe what I believe.  I'm trying to rest and trust.  I'm trying to wait patiently on God's timing.  I am excited to see what God's going to do with our circumstances to further his kingdom and bring himself glory.  But I still have to live through it.

Our renters are leaving.  Yes, the ones who said they wanted the house all 4 years that we are in seminary.  They still do, but the husband has lost his job.  And so goes my security that we won't lose the house or have to file bankruptcy.  Silly me, placing my security in mortal circumstances.

So now we have a house for sale or rent.  Seriously, just make us an offer.  And pray for me to rest. 

We've put it on Craigslist.  And we have a call in to a realtor to list it, asap, which is apparently not as quickly as I originally expected.  Brian says it's a holiday week, but it's been over a week since we called her about listing it.  And here comes my control-freakishness bearing its ugly fangs. 

Hey, at least we've done this "gotta dump a house or we lose everything" before.  I do wish we could get out of this with a little something to show for it.  Of course the cash would be nice, but I mean more about what that cash would represent--that my husband didn't work for 10 years in his first career for naught.  That he'd have something to show for the long hours of hard work he put in at BCBS and FPC. 

I guess we'll see.  I do believe in God's perfect soverignty.  This is not a surprise to him.  It's actually his plan--yes, I believe that too, easily and wholeheartedly.  He is entirely trustworthy too.  It's just that I have to do more than believe it; I have to live it out.  I'd just as soon skip to the resolution part of this story, and I know there is good for me and glory for him that will come from this, but I have to fight daily--no, momently--to rest in what the Bible tells me is true.  (see above)

I compare it to my delivering a baby.  I have duper-duper easy deliveries.  Don't ask, you really don't want to know how easy.  Lillian pretty much fell out.  But when it came time to deliver #3, I had done no mental prep for it.  I expected it to be simple.  And it was simple.  But no matter how easily it happens, it still has to happen.  I have to push a 7+ pound baby...well, you get the idea.  And that, not to mention 9 months of growing an entire human being in my body, is a traumatic event no matter how easily it happens.  So I had a freak-out moment in the delivery room.

Back to today...So maybe I've done this before.  And maybe my faith brings me peace, whenever I remember to believe what I believe.  But I still have to go through this.  And right now I'm having my freak-out moment.  So pray, and please remind me of what I know to be true.  It's all going to be OK.  It's all going to be OK.  It's all going to be OK.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Dinner Out

Tonight we were invited over to the Luthin's house.  I mentioned them last week--no, 2 weeks ago.  Bill, the husband, is currently deployed with the Air Force, and Regan asked if there were a night we girls and the kids (they have the 2 boys P's age) could get together at their house for dinner.  Brian had already told me he had some heavy-duty studying to do early this week, so tonight worked out well for us to head out without him. 

It felt so good to be in her home.  It's clean.  And straight. (Remember they're military.)  And she served brie for an appetizer with a nice glass of wine.  It's so tastefully decorated, like a real grown-up house.  But it's also very much a home.  I was comfortable letting the kids just go, and they all played well together.  She let my older girls help make pumpkin waffles, bacon, and scrambled eggs.  And when one of us mothers were busy with a child or 2, the other stepped in and kept dinner going.  She let me help clean up the dishes and the basement before we left.  Not once did she decline help, but neither did I feel obligated.  I wanted to help.  And inbetween there was time to discuss parenting, books, and even share some heart issues, even if we never actually finished any particular part of the conversation.

How refreshing!  What a treat to be invited into another's home.  What a blessing to feel so welcome and at ease (no pun intended).  It is truly a gift from the Lord to have relationships like this.  Honestly, this is the 5th conversation we've had, including 3 just in-passing at the church.  Like I said before, I hope we get to spend more time together.

I have been so blessed to consistently have a girl friend or two in my life, especially since soph. year in college, who loves me well, encourages me, speaks truth to me and lovingly holds my feet to the fire.  Even when we moved here, within a week or two, I had a close and dear friend.  Now, I may not see you all often, but these are the girls I can pick back up with at the drop of a hat.  I have a feeling Regan will be one of them as well. 

Hey, guess what?  Relationships in heaven will be even easier than this with EVERYONE there.  Can you imagine not having trouble relating with anyone?  There will be no one there who is difficult to love.  We will live in perfect harmony and be at peace with each and every person there.  Wow.  That's fun!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Break

Well, it's been a great Fall Break weekend!  Brian treated Thursday like a normal day, as did we at home.  We had some new friends over for dinner that night, so I sent all the kids outside to play while I straightened up some.  They played "country," as in out-in-the-country.  They've discovered a spot to call "home" way back up in the woods.  Our lot is entirely fenced in and goes twice as far back as you can see.  So the kids feel like they're on a big adventure when they're all the way up at the back fence.  They came back to the "city" (back to the house) to get "supplies" for their work out in the "country" (namely lunch at the time), and I was so thrilled that they were all outside playing together that I sat down with a book for a good 20 minutes in a very quiet "city." 

Dinner was with the Luthins, a family with 2 boys, ages 3 and 5, who are new to STL.  Bill is currently deployed with the Air Force, and Regan is fabulous.  We look forward to spending more time with them.  I was so excited for Patrick to have some boys his age to play with!  But my sweet boy was so tired from playing outside all afternoon that he fell asleep on the couch after dinner but before they left, lol!

Friday I had an early morning date with Sarah Frances at BreadCo (aka Panera) where she read some while I worked on preparing to tutor Monday morning.  When we got home, we got all the bikes ready and packed up a picnic lunch for a family bike ride around Forest Park.  Brian and the older girls rode from our house to the top of the zoo road, and I drove Patrick, his bike, my bike (thanks, Marne!) and Lillian to meet them there. 

We were a sight!  We rode in a long line--Brian pulling Lillian in the trailer, Catherine, Sarah Frances, Patrick, then me--from there to the bottom of Art Hill where we unpacked our lunch and threw the frisbee for a while.  The ride back to the car was a good bit tougher, especially since we stopped and played at the waterfalls some.  Patrick hit his wall of tolerance probably half way back, but eventually we made it.

There is a huge pond with many fountains at the bottom of Art Hill.  It so beautiful there.

Brian and the kids in front of the Art Museum.

Enough pictures, Mom!

On a side note, when I went to pick up the bike from Marne, we noticed that Halsey and Patrick had on B'ham rival high school tshirts.  So cute!

Later Friday afternoon Catherine went to the zoo for Virginia Lee's 5yo birthday party where they got their faces painted and rode the carousel.  Brian took Sarah Frances out for some 1:1 time, Patrick explored in the back with Peanut Butter (the dog), and Lillian slept while I finished prepping for Monday.  Catherine came home transformed into a rainbow butterfly.

To top off a perfect day, we fed the kids a mac-n-cheese dinner, put on a movie for them to watch together in Patrick's room, and Brian and I enjoyed a grilled steak dinner in front of a great movie, new to us.  Ever seen 500 Days of Summer?  We really liked it.  Too much language probably for a high school movie night, but there are definietly some GREAT scenes that describe a post-modern world-view.

Saturday brought a sick little girl, a yard-working-for-money husband, and three big kids who raked our yard and the yard next door.  I kept Lillian home from the girls' 3:00 soccer game and texted Brian regularly with Auburn updates.  He got home at half time, and we watched Auburn beat an undefeated LSU at home to remain undefeated themselves.  It was a GREAT game!  And a great day for me because if Lillian was awake, she was snuggled up in my lap reading a book until she fell asleep again in my arms.  So sweet!  And therefore an entire day of rest for me too.

Hope you had a good fall break too!  And WAR EAGLE!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ransom Fellowship

Can I just refer everyone to Ransom Fellowship?  Margie Haack and I should be friends.  But who wouldn't want to be her friend?  I did read this from somewhere on the website, and it resonated deeply with my heart's attitudes, which is why we should be friends.  She knows me because she's been here and apparently got through it well.  And I hope I get through it well too.  I also wish I could have her beautiful white hair one day too.  I digress.

"...I went through this time where I was extremely nasty to Denis (her husband) because he seemed to get to do all the fun things and I was sick of serving the tea and the tea-cakes and changing diapers while he sat in the living room with pearls of wisdom dripping from his lips. He could not ask a thing of me during that time because I completely unloaded on him. We had a lot to learn. I began to think about how much more fulfilled I would be if I had gone into medicine. And then I would have had money, too. You can see where all this might lead. What finally got through to me was a simple passage from Matt 20:26-28 “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave, just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And then in John 13 where Jesus washed the Disciples feet, he asks them point blank: “Do you understand what I have done? Do you?” I had to answer, yes I do understand. And it pierced me to suddenly realize how very very destructive my attitude was. There were just no excuses against or around what God calls each and every one of us to do. I’m not only saying women here. I simply could not argue that I was the one exception to this calling and I could ignore that Jesus expected me to follow his example in all things including serving. It was hard to give up that anger. But it was so good for me and both of us grew through this time."

Want more of this good stuff?  See http://www.ransomfellowship.org/ or http://www.notesfromtoadhall.com/.  The Haacks and RF publish Critique and Notes From Toad Hall regularly.  They are always good, thoughtful reads.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dropping the Ball

I can't keep up.  I'm getting called out on not fulfilling responsibilities. 

I am weaker than I ever thought possible.

Please don't ask me to do anything until...Brian graduates?...my kids are in school?...I can hire help with the house?...when?  When does it "get better"?  When do I learn my limits?  When will I learn that my limitations are much greater than I realize and will quit over-committing? or over-volunteering?  I am currently incapable--yes, incapable--of remembering and handling anything above what is immediately in front of me.  At least I remembered our elder interviews on our way out the door this morning, 15 min. before they were to happen, even if we didn't have our paperwork ready.

Pathetic.  And weak, weak, weak. 

And gripey!  If my kids talked like this I'd tell them to count their blessings!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Dancing in the Minefields

I have a new favorite song--Andrew Peterson's "Dancing in the Minefields."  I know it was written about marriage, but from the first time I heard it, it was about our story of going to seminary and into vocational ministry.  So here's my translation of the words, in case you're interested.  And here's the link to the video on youtube.

Dancing in the Minefields video on youtube.

Well I was 19 you were 21 
The year we got engaged   
Everyone said we were much to young   
But we did it anyway
We got the rings for 40 each from a pawnshop down the road   
We said our vows and took the leap now 15 years ago

When we were in our 30's (older)
we decided to move away for seminary and start a new career.
And you have 4 young kids-what are you thinking?
But we did it anyway.
We sold our stuff and packed up--
one year down!

We went dancing in the minefields    
We went sailing in the storm             
And it was harder than we dreamed  
But I believe that’s what the promise was for 

We delight and have real joy in doing his work even hard times.
And, wow this is harder than we dreamed.
But God's promises to us sustain us.

Well ‘I do’ are the two most famous last words   
The beginning of the end     
But to lose your life for another I’ve heard is a good place to begin  
Cause the only way to find your life is to lay your own life down   
And I believe it’s an easy price for the life that we have found  

Saying yes to following God's calling us to move
(the end of our "old" life)
is the start of our "good life."
Our sacrificing personal comforts and security in order to be obedient to God is entirely worth it.

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise was for
That’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me  
When I lose loves chains, bind me  
At the end of all my faith   
to the end of all my days   
when I forget my name, remind me  

When I take my eyes off Jesus, Jesus come find me
When I try to run away from my calling, hold me to it
When I'm ready to quit
Until I die
Remind me I am a much-loved, well-provided for DAUGHTER of the KING!

Cause we bear the light of the son of man    
So there’s nothing left to fear       
So I’ll walk with you in the shadow lands   
Till the shadows disappear        
Cause he promised not to leave us    
And his promises are true     
So in the face of this chaos baby   
I can dance with you            .

I have the Holy Spirit in me,
no matter what my circumstances are.
So I have the goods to offer needy people
who are in their own difficult places.
God will never leave me or forsake me.
So here we go--and no matter how hard it is,
We can have joy while we do this together

So lets go dancing in the minefields
Lets go sailing in the storms
Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And kicking down the doors

Oh lets go dancing in the minefields
And sailing in the storms
Oh this is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for
That’s what the promise is for

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Too Much

I've done it again.  We knew it was going to be a lot, but I was comfortable.  Life wasn't too much at the time.  So I said yes to too many good things.  It's not good for me, and it's not good for my family.  The house is a wreck and closing in on us.  The girls aren't getting enough teaching time from me.  And I'm so tired I can't help but fall asleep in the afternoons.

See, if I'd decided to do Seminary Chicks (which meets twice a month in the evenings), I couldn't have done the Barrs' Children's Lit class (which meets weekly) because they meet on the same night.  I'd also not be doing the weekly Apples of Gold because my "Bible study and relationship" needs would already be fulfilled by Sem Chicks.  Bottom line, instead of having a twice monthly meeting, I've committed this fall to being out every Monday and Tuesday night till 9:30pm.  With church activities flanking that on Sun and Wed, it makes for TOO MUCH.  In my defense, it's all in the name of "getting Mom out of the house and free for a bit."  I'm all for that!

I'm learning though.  I'm seeing that I'm NOT CAPABLE of doing "this much" well.  It hurts this pridefully independent and stubborn girl to admit that.  But I'm learning to acknowledge my weaknesses and that it's not giving in to them when I say I can't do something.  It's protecting my sanity and my family. 

Somebody recommmended the book Margins to me to help me think through the importance of having not every minute scheduled in the day, etc.  But I haven't had time to read it. lol.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sarah Frances's "Room"

This summer when we moved Sarah Frances out of the main bedroom upstairs and into the side of the playroom, she moved from a full to a twin size bed.  The only twin bedding we have is very, very boy-ish and would have been what we worked with had a grandmother not stepped in and offered to get her some new bedding.  This thrilled the soul of our oldest, a very funky yet girly girl, who has lately been craving and begging for her "own."  Own space.  Own 1:1 time with us.  Own stuff.

Her bed is tucked on the other side of a half wall, so the other grandmother offered to make her a funky half-wall of ribbons to give her more privacy yet also let the air flow through.  We hung it up today.  This is the completed "room."

Pretty cool, huh?  It's a one-of-a-kind!  And here's a shot of them all from the middle of the "playroom."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

To Tell or Not To Tell?

Let's talk confidentiality for a minute.  I have been a part of many Bible studies with women where sharing your heart is encouraged, so confidentiality among the group is usually brought up in the first meeting of the study.

I remember the first time there was a disagreement among the ladies present.  I was in my early/mid 20's and a newly-wed, although I'd been friends with and studied with all the women there for years before.  One day, after the class was over, a few of us were chatting with the leader, probalby in her mid 40's at the time.  The issue boiled down to: When I tell you something in confidence, is it assumed that you are permitted to share that with your husband unless I tell you not to?  Or do you not share with you husband unless I specifically give you permission to in that instance?

We younger girls--again, remember we're newly weds, give or take a couple years--were shocked that the leader assumed the latter while we felt free to share it all with our husbands.  We never ruled that day if, in our group, it would be only one way or the other, but we gained some insight into how things would be handled by different women.

OK, so what's the difference really?  What does it matter if I am free to tell my husband or not?

The difference is a group with a "safe" environment vs. a "vulnerable" environment.  Safety is good and important, but a fence is what provides safety.  It keeps things out as much as it holds things in.  It can develop into a club-like perspective/click where you're a member or you're not.  Vulnerability is often scary and intimidating.  We feel less in control when we don't see definite boundaries.

The difference is where we find our security.  While I certainly am learning the art of discression--keeping private things private--there is not much of anything I could share with one person that I wouldn't share with another.  There are friends who have definitely earned through time, experience, and a common faith a friendship with me where I can very freely share my whole heart with her.  And if it will help encourage another person--please feel free to share my struggles and responses.  Now, don't be a gossip about it!!  But I don't mind being a good or bad example.  I am a sinner saved by grace through faith in Jesus.  What can the world do to me?

Whew--that's an ideal perspective, and one I hold much less than all the time.  And I know I'm an extrovert, which makes vulnerable sharing easier.  But it's also a learned behavior.  I have learned the benefit of being open and vulnerable with others, as well as having others be open and vulnerable with me.  And it's worth to me getting over the fear to be able to share and carry each others' burdens.

The difference is keeping things mostly surfacy and feeling free to share my heart.  When I am in a vulnerable relationship, I know that person and they know me.  They can look at me and read me because they have learned how I work from the inside out; they know the good, the bad, and the ugly.  And it's mutual.  I've heard all their stories too.  We're both fully aware that we're each a big mess, and we love each other anyway.

I've been a part of both kinds of groups, and none are bad.  Hear me well (assuming you're still reading, lol)--SAFETY IS NOT BAD!  I am very, very thankful for those groups.  Sincerely thankful.

And I know I'm missing some thoughts here.  This is only my opinion, not entirely well-formed, and not the only one out there.  I'd love to hear yours.

Now here's the real question now--to publish the post or not? :)

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Going Back

Well, after a little feedback and some personal contemplation of the issue, I've decided to change the blog name back. 

Because, no matter how good it seems right now, even in the very best  of times, it is STILL not as good as it will be in heaven.  So let's not get distracted by the good here.  Appreciate it, yes!!  But keep looking forward to our eternal home.  It will be better than we can even imagine, let alone experience, while we're still here. :)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Older man

Marne and John Halsey had a new seminary couple over for dinner the other weekend, the former youth director and his wife at Covenant Pres in Bham.  They were talking over dinner about people they knew in common, and the husband started telling a story about when he brought the Jr. High kids up to STL for a quick trip this past summer.  They spent the night at Covenant Pres here, and one morning they saw an "older man" they didn't know wandering around the church.  At first they were a little alarmed--they weren't expecting anyone and it sounds like most of the kids were still asleep?--but they thought it was probably someone who worked there since it looked like he knew where he was going.  But it was an older man he described.

It was Brian.  Yes, he still had his full beard, which does give him an aged look.  But "older?"  Really?

Marne and I just laughed and laughed.  Since I haven't met them, I asked how old they are?  Surely in their early 20's?  No...in their 20's but mid to late probably. 

I remember just before we left Bham having a conversation with a good friend about the new young ladies coming to the church, single and still in or just out of college.  We laughed that they look at us, still young but with a load of young kids, like we looked at Kelly and Pamela and others when we were their ages.  How funny! 

Who am I kidding?  I have 4 kids.  My oldest is EIGHT.  Years, that is; not months.  I AM older.  And graying very quickly to prove it!  I guess I just don't feel as old as I look.  I hope it's always that way!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Observant girls

Last night we saw a girl with a cute top that went over only one shoulder. After SF told her she liked it, she talked about how the girl stretched out the neck to wear it that way. Brian corrected her and said it was made that way because they ran out of material (ha!). Our ever-quick Catherine said, "Nuh-uh because they made 1000 of them that way."  Smart thinking!

Earlier that evening we passed some girls walking down the sidewalk.  I noticed that there were 2 of them and that they were interested in the dogs on the other side of the fence they were passing.  SF piped up about one of the girls' boots, how Madeline (our 11yo cousin) would like them because they were tall boots and black and how they'd probably fit her because they looked like they were a size 3 or 4.  She saw all that??  I was amazed and glad for the insight into how she thinks.  Then Brian surprised me with, "I knew she'd notice that!"  And now I know exactly where she gets it. :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Gone, gone, gone

Our friends, the Halfords, have left CTS to move back to Memphis.  They have had some pretty complicated and severe physical challenges in the last few months, namely Spence's detached retina requiring several surgeries still in progress and now Lindy's diagnosis of crohn's last week.  It's our first "seminary casualty" among dear friends.  And I am so very sad.  They hope to come back next fall, or even this spring if possible.

I am asking for your prayers for them.  And for the rest of us here.  As believers we are all targeted by Satan, but there are some pretty severe struggles going on among the students and their families at CTS.  Ask God to keep Satan at bay and provide a bigger hedge around us.  And I'll pray the same for you.  If there is anything specific, please, please let me know.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hard Day

Tears are fresh today.  Not sure exactly why today; it's not much different than yesterday.  I think I'm seeing and feeling brokenness very keenly.  I did change the title of the blog because I've been posting things that are GOOD and encouraging, but today I'm of the perspective that it's not supposed to be this way.

Death is ugly.  Need hurts.  Sin is abundant.  Fear lurks.  Struggle is hard.  But refinement is good.  Thank God this is not all in vain!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review (not written by me)

Here's an excerpt from a review of the book I've mentioned, Learning Evangelism From Jesus by Jerram Barrs.  You can find the entire review at www.ransomfellowship.org/articledetail.asp?AID=568&B=Denis Haack&TID=5.

"Learning Evangelism from Jesus is for people who love Christ and want to be like him. It’s for people who are sick and tired of evangelism, or scared of it, or disgusted by it, or convinced that it can’t be done except by fundamentalists who mistake the proper rejection extended to rude, unkind, judgmental strangers as persecution."

As I type I'm looking at my copy, sitting within arm's reach on the desk, where I placed it as I sat down to check email "real quick."  It's an easy read but is rocking my simple-minded head.  I mean, I know what I know pretty well, but this is a twist on how I have always viewed evangelism, meaning I have to actually think.  Not so used to that these days.  You may just breeze through it though. 

Needless to say I don't have much to discuss yet because I'm still just taking it all in.  Please, please let me know if you decide to read it.  It would be a great study for a small group or maybe just in your household.  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Beautiful Day

There could not possibly be a more beautiful day than God gave us today.  The storms came through last night and cooled everything off.  The high was in the mid-70's and there has been a cool breeze all day long.

This morning I got to slip away for a good hour and a half alone.  I've been reading ahead in Anne of Green Gables (it's been our read-aloud book lately), and I'm all caught up in it.  I wanted to be outside on this perfect day and enjoy the sunshine and breezes but also wanted to be more comfortable than a park bench would allow.  So I drove to the park and sat in the car in the shade with the windows rolled down so I could see and hear it all still.  And read in silence, without interruption, to my heart's content!

Then all afternoon the windows have been open.  And Brian has been home with us.  And we CLEANED the whole house together as a family all at once.  And tomorrow is a real Auburn day!  And people are coming over for the game!

Oh, but today is Sarah Frances's actual birthday.  The girl has racked up--lots of gifts and phone calls!  The Gayles are coming over for dinner to help celebrate.  Perfect ending to a perfect day!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

CRAZY, I tell ya!

What is WRONG with me that each month I am secretly hopeful that I'm pregnant?  I mean, it would be the 1 in 2000 chance that B's snipping procedure failed.  So why, a day or 2 before it should be confirmed that I'm not, do I get a little excited at the idea that I am?

This is the longest in our entire marriage that we've gone without a new baby.  Lillian is 2 1/2 exactly.  Maybe that's just it.  It's just what we do.  Have babies.  But not anymore.  As it should be!

But I held a tiny 3 month old twice Tuesday and it felt soooo good.

And I always thought I wanted to be finished by 30. (and God was very gracious--missed it by 1 month).  But no one does that anymore!  My friends are still having babies, or just starting even!  Maybe that's part of it too.

Bottom line, I am just crazy.  CRAZY, I tell ya! 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Soccer, sort-of

Marne--my closest St Louis friend.  Has lived here for 8 years, having moved from Birmingham.  Married to John Halsey; mother of Halsey, Virginia Lee, McIver, and Slade.  Told us about playing soccer with Central.

Vicki--the director of my Classical Conversations group that meets at Jubilee Church.  Married to Rick.  Mother of Sarah, William, and Henry.  Members of South City Pres. She's never met Marne or Marne's friends.  Didn't know they did Central soccer before today.

Mallie--Marne introduced us at a swim meet this summer.  They are old friends from Bham.  Here for here husband's transplant surgeon fellowship, or something like that. 

Ginny--good friend of Mallie's, friend of Marne's, from Nashville.  Moved here a year ago for her husband's job.

Christy and Michael Brandenstein--our soccer coach and his wife.  He's the pastor at South City Pres and her counseling office is at Jubilee Church.  Originally from Nashville.

Scene 1:  texting on the phone, last week
Marne texts me and says Mallie's friend Ginny will be at soccer practice on Monday and that they want us to meet.

Scene 2:  Cricket Field, Forest Park.  Soccer Practice #1, today
I meet Coach B. and his wife Christy.  Christy and I hit it off and I end up volunteering to coordinate snacks and get all the moms to sign the waiver right then at practice.  Christy has a child practicing with my girls and a Kindergartner practicing on the other half of the field, so she heads that way.  My ulterior motive for doing the waiver is to find and meet Ginny, but I never did meet her before practice was over.

Scene 3:  on the phone with Brian, after practice
Brian right away puts together the South City Pres connection and asks me if I asked the coach if he knew Rick and Vicki.  Nope, I hadn't asked.  Maybe I'll remember next time. 

Scene 4:  checking email at home, tonight
Vicki had emailed to ask if I have a child playing soccer with Central, perhaps in Kindergarten.  She had met someone who was looking for a homeschool mom of four, whose name is R Brown (Rachel or Rebecca, she couldn't remember). *which, btw, really makes me laugh out loud that that's the description of me.*

Funny connections:  Vicki and Marne have never met or really heard much of each other, but have a random connection now through me and this girl Ginny.

Vicki and Christy are most likely friends...we shall see.

I wonder if Ginny and Christy friends, maybe having known each other from Nashville?

Our CC meets at Jubilee Church, where Christy's counseling office is.

Vicki and Ginny happen to meet at soccer today, but I can't figure out how.  Sarah is 10, obviously not in Kindergarten, but the child Vicki mentioned who is playing soccer.

All this in probably two hours total of God-ordained meetings.  And it feels good to see networks of relationships come into place.  Makes STL feel more like home.  Like when the mom I became friends with at swimteam waved to me at 7am the other Saturday morning from way across the street and shouted, "hey!"  Hadn't seen her in weeks, but we know where each other lives.  And the other week when B had the two littles out at the park, they ran into another mom from the "other swimteam," and she spoke to Brian because she recognized the kids.  Awesome.  Then there's David, Sol's dad, the practicing Jew.  He and Brian talked tonight in the driveway about Hebrew the language because David can read it but not translate it, and it's what B's learning now.  That also means B can talk to Sol about how hard it is to learn the alphabet, etc.  Cool.

Lots of relationships.  Lots of people.  Lots of prayers being offered up and answered around here.  God is so good all the time.  I'm considering changing the title of the blog.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Browns Come To Town

In mid July all the Browns from Bham, minus Jimmy (we missed you!), came up for a visit.  We ate our way across town and did about everything in St Louis you can do with seven kids.  Here are a few shots of our fun.

Outside the penguin exhibit at the Zoo.

Waiting in line at the arch.

The view from the top of the arch, looking west.

View of the ground below the arch.  The Mississippi River has flooded the street at the bottom of the steps.
Waiting to go to City Museum.

The full-body "skating" area in City Museum.  Not sure where Patrick is in this pic.

Pics--Fourth of July

I learned how to add pics!  Here's from the first part of summer.  We decided that morning at 8am to make it to the 10am Fourth of July parade, followed by the 12pm air show at the arch.  Then we had to stop and play in the fountains to cool off.  It was a very hot and very fun-filled day!