Monday, April 30, 2007

Love Without Dirty Diapers?

Could I really love Pace if I had never experienced one of her dirty diapers? If I had never spent a night consoling her through a sickness? If I had never had to experience her little sinful nature doing exactly what I told her not to do? I don't think a mother could say they loved their child without living through these experiences. If you had a nanny to handle all the bad, and you only loved on or interacted with your baby when they were fresh out of the bath, swathed in sweet smelling lotion, and smiling happily, then could you really say that you knew that baby? I don't think so. When we love people, we love ALL of them...the whole package...the good along with the bad. Part of love, of intimacy, is living through hard-ships together and learning to lean on each other.

I have my own set of special dirty diapers that, unfortunately, Jeremiah has to deal with. Some of them would be easy to tuck away and pretend that they don't exist. There are parts of me that I could chose to hide from him, but I don't. I need him to love all of me, and not just the part that is easy to love. How could we have true intimacy if there was unconfessed rubbish between us? Sometimes, I have thoughts that feel very valid to me, but it's hard to tell if they are scriptural or just part of some romantic ideal. This particular thought, however, I believe I can back up.

God tells us that marriage should mirror his relationship with the church...His people. We know that God calls us to come to him just as we are. Dirty diapers and all. We know that while he accepts us at our worst, he loves us too much to leave us that way. We spend the rest of our lives nurturing our relationship with him, and in the process of growing closer we (hopefully) discover that we are becoming more and more Christlike. Finally, we know that whenever there is unconfessed sin (or a dirty diaper that desperately needs to be changed :)) in our life, our sweet communion with God is broken. He can have no part of sin.

In the same way, I think that a lot of us avoid dealing with hard issues in our marriages. We tuck away parts of ourselves that we consider unloveable, and then we wonder why we don't have a deeper intimacy in our marriages. We wonder why our husbands don't really "know" or understand us. But, if our marriage should mirror Christ's relationship with us, then we first have to have faith that the man God has chosen to walk through life with us can love ALL of us, even the ugly. Next, we have to step out on that faith and be willing to confess that from time to time, we may indeed have a dirty diaper :) Then, we spend the rest of our relationship drawing closer together, and working to be the best we can be for each other. Finally, we confess to each other when an old snare has tripped us up again. Because, our intimacy is broken when we start to harbor secrets.

So, I challenge us all to be willing have those dirty diapers changed and hopefully achieve a deeper love than we imagined possible.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


This morning, I was lying in bed, trying to fall back asleep after Jeremiah left for work, and I heard the sound of last nights bed-stand water being poured down the drain. I smiled as I recognized that familiar sound. It originated from a struggle with me at the the age of 5 or so. Every night Dad would come in to tuck me in and say prayers. In an attempt to avoid bed-time as long as possible I began to always request a drink of water. If it didn't happen during prayer time, then I was sure to yell down the hall of my horrendous thirst a few minutes later. So, Dad got smart and began making his nightly rounds from one little girl room to the next, carrying a glass of water. As the number of little girls grew, so did the size of the glass, and soon Dad was carrying around what affectionately became known as "The Jug." I believe that it was during these night-time rounds that my ability to talk openly with Dad really began. Some nights we JUST said prayers, but some nights there were worries on my little heart that always found a ready vent in him.

Maybe the sound of that water jug being poured out this morning aroused my old need for talk or maybe God just knew what I was needing today. Either way, I eagerly scampered out of bed in search of a listening ear. (Mom and Dad came up late last night to be here for Mom's 8 o'clock treatment this morning.) Dad and I had one of those precious father-daughter times, when he has his coffee and his wisdom and I have my questions and my emotions. There seems to be a mutual respect in our dynamic, and he somehow made me feel that even when I was 6 or 7. He always took the time to listen, really listen, to me. I, in return, was always willing to truly listen to, and follow, his advice. Edith Schaeffer, in her book The Hidden Art of Homemaking, says (to paraphrase), how can we expect our teenagers to talk to us if we don't take the time to talk to them when they are growing into teenagers? If you pat your grade-schooler on the head and wish them goodnight, but never truly talk to them like they are the young adults that they are, how do you expect them to suddenly want to talk to you when they grow older?

I think that both of my parents did a very good job talking to us. In mom, I had a best girlfriend, an ally in every new dress I "needed" or boy I dreamed of dating, an ear to listen to the minutia of every date and every slight. In Dad, I had a safe-harbor, a confidant, and boundaries. Some of my favorite memories from childhood are of Dad waking me up before sunrise on our yearly beach trip to take me to Thomas Doughnuts. There, I was allowed the special privilege of picking out any doughnuts I wanted--even the ones with the silly sprinkles--and whole milk in a little carton with a straw. Then, we would walk across the street to the beach and I would collect the days foremost crop of sea-shells while walking, watching the sunrise, and just talking. I can't imagine what was serious to my 6, 7, 8... year-old mind, but I remember that he pushed me to set high goals, probed me to discover the things about life that excited me, encouraged me that I had the ability to be WHATEVER I wanted to be, and made me feel like a beautiful and valid companion.

My family has its faults... I don't talk regularly to my sisters like I wish I did. We can fight on a level of drama and tears that many of you could not even fathom. We are honest, if not occasionally brutally honest. However, no matter the time or the major events that have passed, we can always talk. We love to know each other's hearts, and there is no time better spent than sitting still and taking the time to truly interact with one another. As I've grown, I've realized that everybody doesn't do that. Everybody doesn't take the time to sit still long enough to listen. I believe talking--more than that--connecting, is a great gift that my parents gave to us, and a gift that has steered me through countless battles.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Treasure in Jars of Clay

Sometimes the most simple truths of God, the ones we've heard in Sunday School since we were old enough to pay attention to the lessons, suddenly become REAL to us adults. I knew that God was all-powerful, that He raised Jesus from the dead, and that when we ask Jesus to live in our hearts, the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in our nasty old human bodies. These things, individually, I grasped well enough. However, when you combine all of these elementary thoughts there is suddenly something very astounding to me: God's power, the power that conquered death, is alive in us. We may not always feel it, but we know it's there and it is ALWAYS sufficient.

So, where did this (probably not so huge to most of you) revelation come from...that is the sweet part! Don't you love when you're sitting in a church fille with people, and suddenly you know that this part, THIS part of the sermon is meant especially for you. What an exciting feeling! It was Easter, I was still shaking in the choir loft after my menial (but nonetheless terrifying) solo, and Brother Jimmy got up to preach. I'll be honest and say that I was having one of those, "I sure am hungry, I wish he'd wrap this one up 'cause I'm not sure what he's so excited about..." Sundays, when God tapped me on the shoulder, "Pay attention please, this one's for you!" I finally heard Brother Jimmy, because he asked us to turn to 2 Corinthians 4--which was the chapter I had just reached on my Paul adventures. I went from ready to go home, to boo-hooing on the front row of the choir in front of the whole church, and praying that he would keep on preaching, in about 30 seconds. (BTW, if any of you have mastered the art of crying inconspicuously I wish you would let me know. Do you remain still and hope that nobody notices the double streams billowing down the front of your face? Do you do a quick wipe and hope that you can get your hand up and down before anybody notices? Or do you do the shoulder shrug and hope that your mascara doesn't end up all over your clothes as well as your face?)

If you've been reading, you know I have really been learning about trusting in the sovereignty of God. It has not been a fun lesson to learn, and along with the learning has come several hardships...right in a row. What has been amazing to me, is that while there are certainly moments when I feel scared or alone, these moments are so fleeting. On the whole, my life is still filled with peace and even joy. "How can that be?" I've wondered. Should I feel guilty that my life is still happy, even when Mom is taking chemo and everything seems so off-tilt? (It's hard not to love that Pace and I get Mom and Dad all to ourselves for lunch once a week!) I found my answer in 2 Corinthians 4:7-12. I'll type it out at the end, but the basic gist (at least for me) is this: The reason that we can have joy in trials, is that we are filled with a power big enough to conquer death. Even though we may not feel powerful, the simple truth is that the power IS there, living in our humble "jars of clay", allowing us to not only survive when we are "hard pressed on every side", but to even find joy.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard-pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that his life may be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

2 Corinthians 4:7-12

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Worn Out

I took this picture today during lunch. Normally, by the time I've finished preparing all the little parts of Pace's lunch, she is within 2 minutes of being done eating. Today, I thought I would use those 2 minutes to try and unload the dishwasher. I got the bottom shelf unloaded, then the top, the silverware put away, and then I started thinking...hmmm...Pace is being awful quiet in there. This is what I walked in the breakfast room to find. I laughed so loud that I almost woke her up before I got to take this precious picture.

The past few days have been a whirlwind. Especially for the little girl :) I had a bachelorette party at the lake for one of my best friends, so Mrs. Maddox met me in Montgomery to take Pace to Dothan for the weekend. She stayed with Papa and Moogie for a couple days and then Bebe and Papa for a couple of days after that. Little Pace didn't make it back to her Mama until late Monday night. I am not really sure what all they do with her down there, but I do know that they wear her out good for me!

No matter how much I was looking forward to my "vacation," there was still something horribly painful about watching Mrs. Maddox's car pull away and seeing Pace's confused little face staring at me from the back seat. "Something's different Mommy?" she seemed to convey to me as she was whisked out of my sight. I didn't cry this time, but my heart was oh so heavy. I had an excellent time with my friends, and felt completely comfortable knowing that she was having a blast in the hands of people who cherish her and her exuberant company, but I couldn't help missing my little buddy. She is such a constant in my life, that it was similar to what it would feel like to spend the weekend without your left arm. Maybe it doesn't DO all that much for you, and it may even get in the way a bit if your trying to take a nap and can't find a comfortable place to put it. However, you certainly don't feel right without it, and it sure is a comfort to know it's there when you need it :)

I, of course, was very ready by Tuesday morning for our emotion filled reunion. I crept into the dining room where she was hanging out with her Papa; I smiled my biggest smile, crouched on the floor and called out her name. She looked at me, started to smile but covered it up as best she could, and then she turned on her heel and headed for the kitchen. Uggh! Talk about knocking the wind out of your sails. I was at least prepared for it a bit, because she acted the same way when we picked her up after being in NY. It's like she needs to punish me for a little while. It's like she needs me to know that she's been living just fine without me and now having me BACK is a little strange.

SO, what did I do??? I waved goodbye to my parents and then took Pace to the Zoo. I did invite my Dad to come along with us in the end, but I was going to show her what a good time she can have if Mommy is around. We left the Zoo and she was so tired that she passed out before we pulled out of the parking lot. Then we spent the afternoon going out to lunch and playing in the yard. This morning I had a doctor's appointment (which went GREAT by the way and I got to hear our new little bundle's heartbeat again!) so she went out to breakfast with her Daddy. Then, I took her to Mother Goose story/play/puppet time at the library. Needless to say, this is what I have driven her to by trying to win back her affection...she can't even stay awake long enough to eat lunch. Well, she has been super affectionate since yesterday afternoon, and I have gotten lots of hugs, kisses, and hold tu's. So, I may have worn us both out, but at least I've got her back :)

Sunday, April 1, 2007

Tea Parties in Springtime

Although it was short-lived (we have been pushing 90 here in Birmingham for the past week), I feel like we took FULL advantage of the perfect spring weather we did have. Each day, I watched as the big tree in the backyard went from speckled, bright green to full-grown leaves. The Bradford Pear in the front-yard transformed from solid white flowers to deep, green leaves, and the dogwoods burst into brilliant bloom. All of the beauty combined with the perfect 70 degree weather and gentle breezes begged Pace and I to set up residence in the yard.

If that was going to happen, Jeremiah and I had some nurturing to do to make our backyard a fun place to be. Moogie and Papa gave Pace a sand-box, a mini-table with a striped umbrella, and a playhouse. We have created a magnificent play area, where we've hosted some sweet tea parties over the past month. One day, we had a special treat, because Aunt Kiki made some cupcakes especially for Pace. She learned how to make them from Paula Dean, and she surpassed even Paula's great talents in my opinion. So, we invited our neighbor friends (Caroline, Natalie, Noah, and their Mommies) over one sunny afternoon for a special tea party.

Lauren brought the tea, and I set up my blue and white china at the grown-up table. Then, we placed all the little guys around Pace's table and passed out the multi-colored, hand-decorated cupcakes (Pace's even had her name written on the top). We THOUGHT that we, the Mommies, would sneak back to our quaintly set table to enjoy a quiet cup of tea and cake while listening to the water trickle down our beloved mountain stream (that we built :)). It didn't take very long to see that sandy hands, cupcakes, and cute outfits don't mix very well. Everybody was stripped down to their skivvies, and the baby tea party moved from the canopied baby table, to the water hose for a rinse down, to the mud puddle that the water hose created. Needless to say, our tea got a bit cold, and by the time they were happily playing in the mud, they noticed we were eating more cupcakes and chants of "Bite?!" "Bite?!" began to be heard at each knee. So, our quiet little tea party wasn't quite as quiet as it was on the days when we gave the little ones a Ziploc filled with goldfish and sat them in the sand box, but it was a lot more memorable. This day was too cute to use only one picture, so I am breaking my own rule and adding some extras. As you can see, I am sure all of our little guys would join me in a big fat, "Thanks Aunt Kiki!"