Friday, May 30, 2008

On the Hunt . . .

I've become a regular at Sears. I know every appliance in the store. In fact, we are on a first name basis. I've met the lovely, shiny, way out of my price range, GE Profile. The fancy, bells-and-whistles, only-in-my-dreams Bosch. The Kenmores, the Maytags, the Whirlpools, and all of their "wouldn't that look amazing in my kitchen" friends. I am not out to torture myself with endless, wishful window shopping. . . I'm on a mission. I'm searching for the perfect microwave. The over-the-stove, microhood kind. The one I had quit. No warning. No more warming. You wouldn't think it would take so much effort to pick a microwave, but it has for me. I need it in a certain color. I, of course, want a good price. I want it to look a certain way. . . the right handle, the right buttons, the right everything. I don't want brand confusion with my stove. (It shouldn't matter, I know. But, I'm weird that way.) It has been such a tough decision. I found myself locked in the store two nights this week. That's right, I was the last one there. The annoying shopper who holds everyone up from going home on time. The one who ignores the handful of announcements about the store closing in 10 minutes. . . 5 minutes. . . now. And not once, but twice. I did finally pick a microwave. Felt happy with my decision. Got relatively excited. Then, found out it couldn't be ordered. Out of stock. So, the whole process started over again! What an ordeal!
The whole experience got me thinking. . . am I putting as much effort into my prayer-life? I am a prayer-gal. I love to pray. I believe in the power of prayer. But, I have to wonder, (I have to be honest) do I get lazy? Do I give up quickly when I don't see the results I'm looking for? Do I let the devil convince me that I don't have enough time? Am I attacking my prayers with the same fervor I did in my appliance search? Am I willing to "stay late" in the presence of my God in order to make sure that no praise is left unsaid, no detail left out, no blessing left unnoticed, no request left "on the shelf"?
Odd as it sounds, I want my prayer-life to reflect my microwave hunt. Purposeful. Specific. Detailed. Passionate. PRIORITY.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Trips, Trucks, and Too Much Excitement

We took Oliver to Kansas to see Nana and Papaw for Mother's Day. It was wonderful!! The best gift for me. The best trip for Oliver. He was showered with attention and sugared with kisses. I couldn't have imagined a more enjoyable time! We, of course, loved visiting with my parents and showing Oliver off to everyone at church. (Word had spread that we were coming. Really, that Oliver was coming!) But what really stuck out to me was just how over-the-top excited my parents were for their grandson to be there. They bought him a new wardrobe. Hats and clothes and shoes and more! (We can hardly wait to see him in the little swim trunks! So cute!!) They bought him a great little mobile for his car seat. (It actually kept him entertained often during the 13 hour trip home.) The day after we got there, they went out and got him an activity center - the kind he can stand up in, spin around in, and play with all the toys - because he's such a mover and a shaker. (So spoiled!) But the biggest display of grandparent craziness was Oliver's room. That's right. . . Oliver has his own bedroom at Nana and Papaw's house. Complete with a crib bought just for him. Adorable construction truck bedding. Diapers. Wipes. Trucks galore. Decorations and more! They went nuts. We melted with gratefulness. It was quite a surprise. There were even blocks with his named spelled out sitting on one of the bookshelves. It was too much! Too sweet! Too cool! And too overwhelming! Talk about making us feel special. Oliver is a blessed little boy to have grandparents like that. Of course, I grew up with them as parents so I kind of already knew what he'd have to look forward to!! Our trip was great. The visit flew by. It was one of those times in life when you wish time could just stand still. Unfortunately it didn't. We had to head home. Good news is that we get to see them again in a few weeks at our family reunion! I think we've got enough memories and pictures to keep us going until then!!

On the way home, I started thinking about my parents and their excitement over Oliver's visit. I wondered how many of us live with such excitement about our God. Does He consume our thoughts and dictate our actions? Do we smile every time we think about Him? Do we long to spend time with Him, eager to be in His presence? Do we tell everyone we know about Him? Do we clean out areas in our lives to make room for Him to dwell there? In fact, does He have His very own place in our hearts, or does He have to share space with other "gods" in our life? Is He the center of our attention? Is His name written on us, displayed proudly, like the blocks in Oliver's room? Hmmm... makes me think. How about you?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Big Memories. Bigger God!

Yesterday was a day of milestones and memories. A day filled with reminders of my God. . . so awesome, so generous, so big. You see, Oliver turned four months old yesterday. (Hard to believe, I know!) And, that alone would have been reason enough for reminiscing and raving. For blessing-counting and bowing down. But, yesterday also marked something else. Something unbelievable. Something remarkable. Something amazing. It was one year ago, yesterday, that we found out we were pregnant. (I still get teary just thinking about it.) What a day! A miraculous, life-changing, happy-tears-a-flowin', praise-filled, wonderful day! I remember every moment of the day. It was the weekend of our town's semi-annual flea market. We had spent most of Saturday looking for bargains between the flea market and the city-wide yard sales. We'd come across a place giving away free puppies and stopped to look. We exercised restraint and figured we could go back by on Sunday. So, after church, we went by a few more garage sales and found our way back to where the free puppies were located. Only, they weren't outside and we'd missed our opportunity. (Which was fine with me, but Jarrod was really dabbling with the idea of taking one home.) He was bummed but figured it was for the best. We headed home, only having a couple of hours until our High School's Baccalaureate service that evening. Our conversation turned to the odd symptoms I was experiencing. (A conversation we'd been having for a couple of weeks.) We laughed as we discussed the need for a pregnancy test. (For those of you who don't know, we struggled with infertility for 9 years. We did not think pregnancy was even a possibility for us. The early years of our marriage were full of negative pregnancy tests and lots of money down the drain. So, buying another test after all these years seemed silly, even wasteful.) Absurdness aside, we just couldn't shake the symptoms. So, Jarrod looked up information on-line and read me the "symptoms of pregnancy". I listened and responded. "That's me!" "I have that!" "I feel like that!" With each symptom he read, my heart raced. Could it be? Could I be? It seemed impossible. Unfathomable. Totally unrealistic. Yet, we couldn't deny the hope we were both feeling. We bought a test. We prayed. Jarrod went to the den to play a football game on his x-box. I took the test and held my breath. I wish I could describe to you all that went on in my head in those two minutes. Hope. Fear. Prayer. Praise. You see. . . . just a couple of months prior, Jarrod and I watched the movie "Facing the Giants". That movie struck a chord with the both of us. (For its look at faith and ministry. But also because of the main couple's struggle with trying to have a baby.) We were inspired. We were encouraged. We were changed. I had prayed for many, many years about having a child. We both had. Everyone we knew had. But, not until I saw that movie did my prayers become a total sacrifice of self and a total praise to God. The couple in the movie made the decision to love God even if He chose to never give them a child. It was a powerful moment. My prayers changed. I began to praise God for who He is and what He has done in my life, and I laid all my dreams at His feet. I trusted God to make the impossible happen. But, I vowed to love Him regardless. (I guess that's what caused us to risk the heartbreak of a negative pregnancy test one more time after all those years. We had faith that God had a plan. And even though it seemed outrageous that He would choose to give us a child after 9 years, we found courage to go through it one more time. We knew that our God is an outrageous God. He is BIG and He can do the impossible. And, whatever the outcome, He was completely in control!)
I looked at the test as it lay on the bathroom counter. I started to shake and cry and laugh as I saw two pink lines appear. I couldn't take my eyes off of that most amazing sight. (I always said pink was my favorite color!) I stared and shook and cried out to God. All I could get out was "Thank you, God!" "Thank you, God!" "Thank you, God!" I managed to pull myself together enough to grab the test and head towards Jarrod. I walked into the den and looked at him. I said, "You might have to buy me something for Mother's Day this year!" and I held up the test stick. Of course, I could hardly get that sentence out without weeping uncontrollably. Jarrod did the same. We hugged and cried and praised God. It was an amazing moment. God is an amazing God!
We somehow got ourselves ready to go to the Baccalaureate service. We took pictures of ourselves with the test (And eventually, pictures with the other 5 tests I took over the next few days -- remember it had been 9 years and many "no's". I needed some continual convincing!) I didn't hear a single word at Baccalaureate that night. Jarrod and I spent the evening grinning wildly every time we looked at each other. And, as we left the service, hand in hand, he looked at me and said, "Just think. In 18 years, we'll be here for our kid!" I'm sure you can imagine my response. I cried!

I hope you, too, have experienced just how big our God is. I hope you have also had a moment that defined your faith and caused you to fall on your face in praise to Him. I hope that you will never grow discouraged or hardened when the battle you're facing lasts for 9 years. Because "my miracle", asleep in the other room, is a testament to the fact that God is in control and has a plan for your life. It might be outrageous, but it's awesome. Just be willing to love Him no matter what. I believe He will bless you too!!