Thankful Thursday (2019.09.12)

… thank you, Lord, that my children love to sing and dance. Louis was singing a new song: “Everybody dance for God the King” and leading the others in a circle dance of sorts. Such a delight to a mama’s heart.
… thank you, Lord, for a husband who holds me as I cry and prays for me at 3 in the morning when I can’t get back to sleep because I’m so overwhelmed.
… thank you, Lord, for easy-to-assemble shelves and being able to see (some of) my fabric collection again
… thank you, Lord, for children’s naptimes
… thank you, Lord, for hot tea with honey to soothe a raw throat

… thank you, Lord, for plant sales and finding everything we needed
… thank you, Lord, for Daniel’s diligence with tiller and shovel to get our new bed prepped
… thank you, Lord, for easy-to-plan Sunday school weeks
… thank you, Lord, for hugs from former students
… thank you, Lord, for honey from our neighbor
… thank you, Lord, for mail order curtains that turned out to be a lovely color

… thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to futz with prototypes
… thank you, Lord, that my sewing space is starting to take shape
… thank you, Lord, for children singing praises
… thank you, Lord, for news of a coming baby now made public. My brother and sister-in-law just announced baby #4 – who will be my parents’ 16th grandchild (plus a foster grandchild and 4 in heaven)
… thank you, Lord, for a little girl who stays in bed (even when she’s chattering her whole naptime away and is perfectly capable of opening the door)
… thank you, Lord, for not-too-messy sensory play this morning
… thank you, Lord, that your mercy is more – more than my sins, more than my failure, more than my lack of energy, more than my unmet aspirations – and that your grace is sufficient for this weakness

… thank you, Lord, for encouraging evenings
… thank you, Lord, for a relatively smooth morning (kids dressed and ready, bags packed, breakfast eaten, lunch packed, supper in the crockpot, books dropped off – and still made it in time to drop the kids off in three different rooms on three different levels of the church and get to my Bible study before it started at 0915).
… thank you, Lord, for several encouraging interactions with women from church
… thank you, Lord, for grocery pickup
…thank you, Lord, that I’m home at last and can emote freely while the children nap (I’m exhausted, which means I’m also kinda a wreck)

… thank you, Lord, for crayons and big paper and how long those keep my kids occupied
… thank you, Lord, for my husband’s gracious acceptance of a doctor’s appointment on his birthday that meant no birthday cake, no birthday meal at all, and a dirty house to boot.
… thank you, Lord, for a doctor who takes me seriously when I say I’m depressed
… thank you, Lord, for a baby who is jumping around vigorously and whose heart is beating strong. It’s such a relief after the past couple of months of wondering if we got pregnant only to experience another early loss.
… thank you, Lord, for a new Bible study (Nancy Guthrie’s Better Than Eden) that reminds me of your good purposes amidst the wildernesses and teaches me to long for the consummation of all things – which will indeed be even better than Eden

Thankful Thursday on Friday (2019.09.06)

… thank you, Lord, that we have lots of dishes, which means I’m not scrambling when I go a whole day without washing them
… thank you, Lord, that my children laugh with one another (even when it sometimes seems all they do is poke at each other)
… thank you, Lord, for this necklace from my sister, this skirt from my aunt, and these socks from my Beloved, reminding me of the many people who care for me

… thank you, Lord, for processes that work. All the preschoolers in our church gather in my Sunday school classroom for 15 minutes of singing on Sunday mornings. It’s been utter chaos, with the youngest kids (just barely two) crying and classes getting mixed up and students from other classes inadvertently left in my room. And the disorder of the process has meant we haven’t always had time to get to the meat of our own Sunday school time – lessons and memory verses and small group time. We’ve been making incremental changes week by week (this is just week 4 of a new year of Sunday School) and this week I think we finally got it! Students got in and out with a minimum of crying and confusion, meaning everyone could focus on the important stuff – praising God together and learning from His word.
… thank you, Lord, for a friend who listens.
… thank you, Lord, for a 60% off coupon that saved me $30!
… thank you, Lord, for novels
… thank you, Lord, for how my husband regularly lays down his time and energy and pastimes to serve me
… thank you, Lord, that I realized I had a Christmas dress for Tirzah Mae for this year before I bought fabric for (or started making) a new one!
… thank you, Lord, for the many people who have blessed our family over the years with outgrown clothes. Despite sending complete wardrobes home with two different children over the course of the last year, Beth-Ellen and our Sweet Pea still have had plenty of clothes for this season (the size we sent home with Baby J) and the next season (the size we sent home with little C).

The rest of the week
… Thank you, Lord, for cheery sunflowers on either side of my front porch steps
… Thank you, Lord, for what must be the fourth or fifth flush of blooms on the rose bush my friend brought me in honor of our baby
… Thank you, Lord, for quick in and out appointments (less than a minute waiting from when we came in the door to when we exited!)
… Thank you, Lord, for a husband who regularly shares or bears my burdens, daily sacrificing for my good and that of our family
… Thank you, Lord, for Advent songs. I’ve been preparing an Advent playlist (I don’t want to rush into Christmas and December is not my best time for doing anything intentional like assembling a meaningful playlist, so I’m prepping in advance to avoid listening to the same old hackneyed Christmas stuff come December) and some of the Advent songs are exactly what I need in this, my season of mourning.

“Comfort, comfort ye my people
Speak ye peace, thus saith out God;
Comfort those who sit in darkness
Mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load
Speak to Jerusalem of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her sins I cover
And her warfare now is over.

Make ye straight what long was crooked,
Make the rougher place plain.
Let your hearts be true and humble
As befits his holy reign
For the glory of the Lord now o’er earth is shed abroad;
And all flesh shall see the token,
That his word is never broken.”

Thankful Thursday (2019.08.29)

It’s been a rough past several months. Between welcoming a new baby and miscarrying and several trips that kept my routines off kilter, I’ve slidden into a pretty severe depression (at least for summer time.)

After several weeks now of just-about-debilitating despair, I realized (by the grace of God) that what I need is to revive my old practice of remembering God’s grace and reciting His goodness.

And so, this week’s recitations, recorded daily, because I forget to build an altar of testimony if I don’t gather the stones while I’m traveling.

… thank you, Lord, that I did not have a headache today like I did over the weekend and into yesterday
… thank you, Lord, that the children and I got to all three grocery stores (two for pickup, one to go in) without any meltdowns
… thank you, Lord, that I remembered that the trash needed to go out and got it to the curb before the truck came (a delay that is a clear evidence of grace)
… thank you, Lord, that despite this deep well of depression, you have given me grace to consistently be in your word this summer
… thank you, Lord, that the children napped today
… thank you, Lord, for energy to make progress towards meals in the freezer

… thank you, Lord, for reassurance that the (rather big) change we made last week is producing fruit
… thank you, Lord, for clean kitchen counters
… thank you, Lord, for reminders to press through rather than giving in to paralysis
… thank you, Lord, for the ability to take pleasure in Christmas music (even if it’s the wrong season)
… thank you, Lord, for little steps in the right direction – one load of laundry out of seven folded and two bathrooms out of three swished and swiped
… thank you, Lord, that my sourdough starter isn’t dead (yet)

… thank you, Lord, that I was able to spend the evening browsing and buying good books (this go-round of our Friends of the Library’s semi-annual book sale netted me ~60 books for $10)
… thank you, Lord, for my husband starting the dishwasher last night. It was such a blessing to be able to empty clean dishes this morning instead of trying to scrape and wash day-old dishes.
… thank you, Lord, for an unexpected cancellation that means I don’t have to leave the house today
… thank you, Lord, for the wealth of information available on the internet and the fun that it sometimes is to lose myself exploring other nations’ holiday traditions

“If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,’
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.”

~Psalm 139:11-12 (ESV)

Thank you, Lord, that this darkness that seems to cover me is as light to you – and that, as I gaze upon your brightness, I too can see light.

“For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.”

~Psalm 36:9 (ESV)

Thankful Thursday: Rest and Routine

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After all sorts of bellyaching about how Tirzah Mae is no longer napping and how that’s throwing my routines off and messing me all up, we have found a new routine and one that’s working pretty well.

This week I’m thankful…

…for new bedtime routines
It used to be, I’d brush teeth with Tirzah Mae, read her a Bible story, sing her a hymn, and pray with her before putting her to bed. Then I’d nurse Louis and put him to bed. Finally, I’d fall into bed exhausted myself. But Daniel has wanted for a while to do family devotions – and he decided that Tirzah Mae’s bedtime routine would be a good starting place. Now, Daniel changes the children into their jammies (usually while I do some cleaning up around the house) and then we sit on the couch together for a hymn, Bible reading, and family prayer. Then I brush teeth with Tirzah Mae and put her to bed while Daniel sings to Louis and puts him to bed. Once Tirzah Mae is in bed and while Daniel is still putting Louis to sleep, I finish tidying the house.

…for a clean house when I go to bed
Thanks to this new bedtime routine, I have gone to bed with a clean house all. week. long! It’s amazing. I write it on my daily thankfulness list every night. Where I used to be too exhausted to tidy before bed (even though I knew I’d feel so much better in the morning if I did), now the tidying is just a part of the routine, and it’s working well.

…for better sleep
We cried it out at naptimes two or three weeks ago (praise God for giving me the idea to do it at naptimes instead of overnight – SO much easier when I’m not exhausted and when I have plenty of household tasks to distract me), and while Louis is still waking up anywhere from 2-6 times a night, he’s not needing me to nurse him all the way to sleep. I nurse him until he’s done and then lay him down sleepy but still awake. He usually protests with a single cry when I close the door, but then falls right asleep – which means I can fall right back asleep too.

…for a later starts
Tirzah Mae has always been an early riser (4 am as an infant), but now that the days are getting longer (and maybe she’s wearing herself out with all the learning and growth?) she’s sleeping a little longer. Even if she isn’t sleeping longer, she’s become more and more inclined to just sit and look at books or go into the living room and quietly play with her toys until I wake up. Which means I’m able to get more rest when I need it.

…for quiet time
After abject failure when Tirzah Mae was in the process of giving up naps, I’d despaired that I’d never be able to institute a “quiet hour”. But I decided to try again last week, and what do you know? Tirzah Mae complained a little at first but then found ways to busy herself in her room such that my timer (I was trying for 10 minutes for a start) went off and she kept playing happily. I checked on her after another ten minutes and she’d curled up in bed and fallen asleep. By day 3, she was contradicting me when I announced it was quiet time. “Rest time,” she said. Well, okay then. Either way, I’ll take it.

…for a day of rest
I’ve wanted to make Sundays a true day of rest for quite a while now, but it just never seemed feasible. There was too much to catch up on. The house was always a mess, I never quite managed to get Sunday dinner in the crockpot the night before, etc. But I decided to give up the excuses and just make it happen. Sunday afternoon, I clear the table and wash the dishes – but I don’t do laundry or extra cleaning. As soon as lunch dishes are done, I hole up with my journal and reflect on the past week and make my plans for the up coming week. Then Daniel and I have our “family planning meeting” (not about birth control :-P) and we eat leftovers for supper or work on supper together. It’s a lovely day of rest.

I am so thankful that God created us for times of work and times of rest. And I’m thankful that He is teaching me ways of making time to rest.

“And he said to them, ‘The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.'”
~Mark 2:27-28 (ESV)

Thankful Thursday: Progress

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Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day struggles (dishes, laundry, not sleeping consistently for a couple of years) that I forget that we are making progress. Sometimes slowly and steadily, sometimes in leaps and bounds, sometimes in fits and starts. But progress is being made.

This week I’m thankful…

…for increasing helpfulness
Tirzah Mae now consistently helps with cleaning up the house, wiping up spills, setting the table for meals, clearing the table after meals, and dishing up her own food. She takes such joy in being able to close the dishwasher and empty the dustpan. She is growing in ability and in obedience – and it is wonderful to see.

Swinging, a favorite pastime

…for increasing vocabulary
Tirzah Mae is also growing in communication skills. She has spent the last week identifying colors (which means only the red cup will do – but which also means I’m able to communicate instructions or directions more clearly). She is able to tell things she remembers, to identify things she’s thinking about, to communicate what she wants or needs. It makes life so much less frustrating when she can tell me what is bothering her instead of trying to guess vainly.

…for increasing mobility
Louis has started to roll in earnest and to scoot a little – which means he spends a lot of time amusing himself with whatever he can find on the floor. His increased mobility means more work for me making sure the floor only contains acceptable items, but less work because he entertains himself for greater periods of time.

Louis eating table food

…for increasing order
It’s so easy to get discouraged with the state of my home, with how never-ending the task of “picking up” is. But our home is becoming more and more orderly. The house gets “picked up” daily, the dishes don’t pile up, the bed gets made. The toilets don’t have rings, the underwear gets folded (eventually). The house is coming into order.

…for increasing patience
There was a time, not so long ago, that I’d snapped at the kids every day by the end of the day. I’d get frustrated and impatient with them, I’d snap at Tirzah Mae to “just…” whatever. I’ve been praying that God would work the fruit of patience in my life, that he would put a guard over my tongue. And he has. By God’s grace, I am holding my tongue more and more – and even better than holding my tongue, I’m feeling and acting compassionately with my children. This is the work of God – an ongoing work, but one that is showing progress.

I’ve been reading Ephesians in preparation for this semester’s Bible study on Ephesians, and have been struck by Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church:

“For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him,”
~Ephesians 1:15-17 (ESV)

It’s so easy to only pray when things are going horribly – and to just plain forget to give thanks. But Paul hears of the Ephesians’s faith and love and this causes his heart to swell with thanks to God and with petitions for the Ephesians.

As I think of the progress my children, my home, I myself am making, I too am moved to thanksgiving. God has shown abundant mercy to our family – I pray we would continue to know Him more and more with every passing day.

Thankful Thursday: Winter Light

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Sometimes blogging silence means inactivity, as thoughts and words and actions slow to flow like tar. Other times, blogging silence belies activity as life lived takes precedence over life recorded.

While the former has frequently been true of my own winter silences, this year it is the latter that is most true.

For this year, this winter has been my BRIGHTEST winter since I began blogging some dozen years ago.

This week I’m thankful…

…for Winter Blues and light therapy
After reading the section on light therapy in Norman Rosenthal’s Winter Blues, I purchased a therapy light and began using it. Light therapy has made a huge difference in my energy levels and quality of life even as the days grew shorter and shorter this fall. Thanks to light therapy, I’ve been able to maintain household routines, to continue to interact socially, and to experience wonder this winter.

Louis grinning

…for baby smiles
Louis is the happiest baby. He smiles, he laughs, he smiles some more. He loves diaper changes, hugs, tummy time, and toys. He adores his big sister and laughs when she tickles him (even if she’s sitting on his belly while doing it.) He dotes upon his papa and gazes at him with unabashed admiration and joy when papa gets home from work. Even as I write this, Louis is playing his own form of peekaboo on the floor beside me, grinning every time I look over and cooing when I’m not looking to encourage me to look. His smile is a light that makes me shine too.

…for preparation for people
We had my family (an extra dozen people) over the weekend after Thanksgiving – and the preparations for their coming gave me the motivation to complete all sorts of projects I’d been procrastinating on. Making curtains for the picture window in the living room. Organizing my craft room. Unpacking the rest of those boxes in the basement and getting them put where they need to be. With the extra energy afforded by the lamp and the extra motivation afforded by the prospect of family coming, I got more done this winter than most – and productivity always brightens my day.

Tirzah Mae smiling

…for a toddler voice singing
I’ve been singing to Tirzah Mae since she was born, but she only rarely joins in. In fact, I don’t know that I’ve ever heard her join in. But this Advent she started singing all by herself. She’d cuddle her dolly and begin to sing:

“Away in a manger
No crib for a bed
The little Lord Jesus
lay down his sweet head
The stars in the manger
look down where he lay
The little Lord Jesus
asleep on the hay”

Not only this, but “Jingle Bells” and “It’s Raining, It’s Pouring” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (just that one line) and “Frere Jacques” and at least a half dozen other songs with recognizable lyrics and tune.

Hearing her sing – and especially hearing her sing about Jesus – delights my heart and brightens my life.

…for Emmanuel
The song that Tirzah Mae sings the most, and the line she repeats most often, is this:

“Rejoice, Rejoice
Shall come to thee
O I-i-is-ra-el

Of all the things that have brightened this winter, this is the most wonderful.

God with us. Emmanuel.

I am thankful that

“The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
You have multiplied the nation;
you have increased its joy;
they rejoice before you
as with joy at the harvest,
as they are glad when they divide the spoil.
For the yoke of his burden,
and the staff for his shoulder,
the rod of his oppressor,
you have broken as on the day of Midian.
For every boot of the tramping warrior in battle tumult
and every garment rolled in blood
will be burned as fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.”

~Isaiah 9:2-7 (ESV)

God has made Himself to shine before us in the person of Jesus Christ.

That is reason to give thanks. That is reason to rejoice.

So I do and so I shall.

“Rejoice, rejoice –
Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Thankful Thursday: Flexibility

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I don’t consider myself to be the most flexible person (either physically or dispositionally). I like things the way I’ve arranged them and don’t tolerate changes well. Which is why I’m so thankful for the grace of God over the past week in a) enabling others to be flexible to make things easier for me and b) enabling me to be flexible when I needed to be.

This week I’m thankful…

…for back to back appointments
Louis had his two month well-child appointment last week and I needed a thyroid check as well. When I called a few weeks back, the receptionist was happy to reschedule us slightly so Louis and I could have back to back appointments (especially handy now that we live a half hour away from the doctor’s office – and now that I have two kids to get ready for trips out!) And for Louis’s four month appointment? We were able to schedule that back to back with Tirzah Mae’s 2 year appointment. Perfect.

…for flu shots
It’s earlier than my reminder to get my annual flu shot (my phone rings in October to remind me to get it), but I heard that Walmart has the vaccine and remembered to ask my doctor if he had it too. He did, so I won’t have to remember to arrange getting one in October because I’ve already got it taken care of.

…for different patterns
Louis’s 2 month shots (combined with my flu shot) completely kicked our butts. The day was disrupted first by the appointment, then by Louis’s need to breastfeed continuously. There was no way I could complete my ordinary routines. But I always feel awful when I spend the day simply sitting around breastfeeding. So, rather than playing catch-up and getting frustrated that I couldn’t catch up, I made myself a little game to help me still accomplish something around the house – and it worked. I gave Louis the attention he needed and managed to not end the day frustrated over how little I’d accomplished. Win-win.

Tirzah Mae exercising
An old photo of Tirzah Mae and I exercising – Tirzah Mae wanted a knee brace just like mama’s

…for substitutions
I can hardly believe it. I ran out of pinto beans with bean burritos on the menu. But I had just enough black beans to finish out the recipe. Then over the weekend, I started tomato soup going only to discover that the can of tomato juice I’d thought was still in the basement? Not there. But I did have some diced tomatoes that my mom had canned for me in tomato juice. They worked perfectly (and I’m double checking my pantry before I start a recipe from now on out – relying on memory when it’s been two and a half months since I was in charge of cooking full-time is bad news. Which reminds me, have I mentioned how thankful I am for the many women who’ve been providing me with meals, either in the freezer or freshly prepared, so I didn’t have to cook for TWO MONTHS after Louis’s birth?!?)

…for my husband’s flexible schedule
Daniel is blessed to be able to set his own hours at work – which means if Louis didn’t let me sleep overnight, Daniel can take Louis and let me sleep in and then go to work after I wake up. Or he can come home early if my day isn’t going well and make up the time later or work from home. I try not to take advantage of his flexibility, but there are times when Daniel’s flexibility is a major sanity saver for me. I am so thankful for him.

…for an unchanging God
Life with littles means plans change in an instant. Baby’s hungry? Drop everything. Blow out diaper? Drop everything. Water emptied all over the living room rug? Drop everything. (And dozens more reasons to drop everything!) But even as my schedule must flex, my priorities must change, my routines must be disrupted, I can rest knowing that God never shifts, never changes, is never disrupted. As he gives me grace, I can fix my heart, my mind, my emotions on his unchanging nature – and allow his unchanging grace to help me be flexible with the other stuff that does change.

Thankful Thursday: Abundance

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“Had God brought us out from Egypt
And not visited them with judgment
Dayenu – We should have been content”

So begins the Dayenu, recited or sung at the annual Passover Seder.

At the end of each stanza, we recite dayenu – a word roughly translated “it would have sufficed” or “it would have been enough.” Martha Zimmerman, in her book Celebrate the Feasts (which first introduced me to the Hagaddah) translates dayenu as “We should have been content.”

This week I celebrate abundance. I could have so much less and it would have sufficed. I could have so much less and been content. Yet God has given an abundance. And I am thankful.

This week I’m thankful…

…for meals brought to my home
IF I only had the meals I’d been able to prepare and stash away in my freezer for when the baby came, dayenu. Yet God has blessed me with a dozen more freezer meals from family and friends, and with hot meals arriving at my doorstep three days a week – even now, seven weeks after Louis was born.

…for rain to water the newly planted grass
If the grass had been planted and I’d had to water it, moving sprinklers every half an hour, dayenu. Yet God blessed us with rain after two days of watering – and I’ve only had to water minimally since.

…for a second chance for my tomato plants
Had I only gotten a couple good crops of tomatoes with only a couple dozen pints canned, dayenu. Yet God sent rain that perked up my plants that had almost completely lost their leaves – and they’re flowering again.

…for multiples of pumping supplies and baby sleepers
Had I only one set of pumping supplies and a couple baby sleepers, dayenu. But God has blessed me with two sets of pumping supplies (through no act of my own), so I can relax after pumping without having to get the supplies cleaned. right. now. And God has blessed me (through the generosity of strangers) with a dozen baby sleepers, so I can wait days between loads of laundry (well, baby laundry, anyway :-P)

Such an abundance. More than I ask or think. But all these gifts are nothing compared to the ultimate abundant gift.

I can’t say it better than the Dayenu already has:

“Had God brought us into Israel
And not sent the Promised Messiah
Dayenu — We should have been content

Had God sent the Promised Messiah
But not grafted us into Israel
Dayenu — We should have been content

Had God grafted us into Israel
But not made us full heirs with Christ
Dayenu — We should have been content

But praise be to God
He has showered blessings on us,
More than we can count:
God brought us out of Egypt
And visited judgment upon the Egyptians,
Cast down their idols
And slew their first born,
Gave us their riches
And parted the seas for us,
Let us walk the dry sea bed
And drowned our pursuers,
Kept us alive forty years in the wilderness
And fed us with manna,
Gave us the Sabbath rest
And led us to the foot of Mount Sinai
And there taught us Torah
And brought us into Israel
And there built the Temple.
He has sent His Promised Messiah
Who has atoned for all our sins.
He has grafted us into Israel and made us full heirs with Christ.”

~ Rebekah Menter’s Dayenu

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.

Thankful Thursday: Milestones

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It seems this week has been a milestone week. Life is resuming after the recent crazy pause. So many good changes, so many wonderful firsts.

This week I’m thankful…

…for a switch to demand feedings
Unlike Tirzah Mae, Louis did not come home from the hospital giving clear hunger cues. Instead, he seemed perfectly content to just sleep until we woke him up to eat. As a result, I maintained the hospital schedule of every 3 hour feedings. And let me tell you, scheduled feedings are exhausting. But over the last week, Louis has started giving better and better cues. This weekend, we switched to demand feedings – which gives me a lot more flexibility with my own schedule and Tirzah Mae’s.

…for 6 pounds at 6 weeks
I weighed Louis on a whim, the day before he turned 6 weeks old. Actually, I weighed Louis three times the day before he turned 6 weeks old. I couldn’t believe my eyes, which is why I kept reweighing him. Our little boy is getting big (he’s ready to move out of “preemie” sized diapers to “newborn”!)

Louis looking cute (as usual)

…for restrictions lifted
Since Louis is six weeks old now, that means I’m six weeks out from my c-section – and am officially okay to resume normal activities. Which means I can lift Tirzah Mae onto the changing table. Game changer, people.

…for meeting with small group
I haven’t met with our small group from church since we met in my hospital room the day before we had Louis. But this week, our group brought snacks and gifts and met at our house. Each member of our group has been so supportive during my hospitalization and this postpartum period – taking care of Tirzah Mae, bringing meals, asking how I was doing. But it was delightful to be back with everyone all together again.

…for an outing
I took Tirzah Mae and Louis to my 6 week appointment, but otherwise haven’t taken the both of them out of the house without Daniel’s help. Until this Tuesday. It was time for Kansas’s primary elections and I had items due at the library, so we suited up and took off. It wasn’t easy, but I’m glad to know that I can do it!

…for grass
After almost two months of waiting for our grass to be planted, the fellow with the seed drill finally came out on Tuesday and planted our grass – which means I’m watering like crazy to keep the almost 30,000 square feet we just planted wet in this hot Kansas weather. But it’s planted! No more waiting. Now we’re just working, working, working. (I’m better at working than at waiting.)

The seed drill ready to plant our grass

As I write up my thankfuls this week, I’m reminded of Ecclesiastes (sung to Pete Seeger’s tune and echoing with The Byrds’s voices in my head):

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.”
~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (ESV)

I am thankful for these seasons that God has given. But most of all, I am thankful that, in every season, God is faithful. He holds us in His arms in the stormy seasons and in the calm. He is forever worthy of praise.

Thankful Thursday: Borrowed Time

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Since I’ve reached the point in pregnancy where I was already hospitalized with Tirzah Mae, every moment seems overwhelmed with wonder.

I’m in my own home! I’m not in the hospital! I still have a (decently) clean house! I am still making my own food! I’m walking on my own two feet! I’m not hooked to a blood pressure cuff 24/7! I am drinking and peeing on my own power! I don’t need daily ultrasounds! I don’t have to lie still for two hours so the nurses can get a 20-minute “strip” of baby’s heartbeat and my own uterine contractions!

Even the most mundane things feel surreal – as if I’m living in borrowed time, magic time.

I have a normal pregnancy at this point.

This week I’m thankful…

…for a walk in the park
As this pregnancy continues to progress, exercise becomes more and more difficult. My knees and hips are looser and my balance is off – making it harder to do the squats and lunges that are the staple of my lower body routine. I’ve developed carpal tunnel syndrome in both hands (not uncommon during pregnancy) – making push-ups impossible and my other upper body activities (with free weights) more difficult. But I’ve been on bed rest before and there’s no way I’m letting myself decondition to that degree if I don’t have too – which means I need to find a way to keep active, even if I’m less motivated to do my usual routine. Daniel has been obliging, taking a walk with me along the river on Saturday, and running circles around Tirzah Mae and I as we strolled around another local park on Monday. I’m still aiming to do my usual routines at least once a week (an upper body, a lower body, and a core routine) – but it’s lovely to mix it up with some outdoor walking every other day or so.

…for a strong finish
I’ve greatly enjoyed teaching 3-year-old Sunday School this year. It’s been stretching in the best way – helping me to hone in on the main point of a text, encouraging me to think of activity “centers” that can spark conversations about the “big ideas” of a text. It’s also been stretching in a not-so-fun way. It’s the weekly struggle to get out of the house to be at church half an hour before Sunday School starts, with Tirzah Mae’s bags packed for both nursery (during the Sunday School hour) and the service (where we try to keep her with us.) Now that Sunday School has switched to its summer schedule, I’m glad to have a respite from the mad dash on Sunday mornings – but I know I’ll miss the lesson planning and brainstorming.

…for a landmark day
Tirzah Mae turned 19 months on Tuesday – which also means that it’s now been 19 months since my uterus was cut to allow her to enter the world. It’s best for a uterus to have 18 months to recover from an incision before it has to endure labor again – and mine has now had its 18 months plus one.

…for a good report
Yesterday’s OB visit was unremarkable – which is remarkable in and of itself. My blood pressure there was the same as its always been, my urine showed no protein. No concerns. I should keep doing what I’m already doing. I cried with relief as I drove on to our next task.

…for convenience items
I love to make our own bread, our own yogurt, our own laundry detergent. I can make a higher quality product for less money, and I enjoy “doing it myself”. But as this pregnancy progresses and I need to get off my feet more frequently, I’ve been reminded of the blessing that is prewashed lettuce in a bag, prebaked bread (also in a bag), and the first container of laundry detergent I’ve bought in six or seven years. I don’t have any intention of permanently switching to those products, but it’s nice to have them available when life intervenes.

And when I get done listing the nice-things-I’m-thankful-for, I fear that I may fall into the trap of thanking God only when things are going the way I want them to. I pray that isn’t the case.

Because ultimately, not being hospitalized isn’t the greatest blessing of this week. All the many wonderful conversations and conveniences aren’t the greatest blessing. The greatest blessing is that…

“Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
and hath shed His own blood for my soul.”

What! All this, and Christ too?