Friday, December 28, 2012

Year End Book Review 2012

Per usual I have successfully achieved my resolution of reading five books per year.  This is usually the only resolution I make and I am still batting 1.000.  It seems to be a very manageable goal so why change what's working.  I not only meet the goal but I also get to read some good books and be challenged both in my thinking and my life.  This year was no different.  I was able to read some fantastic books that were very thought provoking and challenging.

1. The Search for Satisfaction: Looking for Something New Under the Sun by David McKinley - This book was actually written by my Pastor.  It is essentially a commentary on the book of Ecclesiastes.  This book outlines and highlights some of the major themes, like knowledge, relationships, wealth/money, that Solomon was trying to use to find completeness in life.  And since not much has changed this book is very applicable as we continue to try to satisfy ourselves with things other than Jesus.  The book helps highlight different areas that you may be pursuing and challenges you to, like Solomon realize that everything is meaningless under the sun apart from Jesus.  This is a quick, good read that you are sure to enjoy, especially if you feel like reading Ecclesiastes.

2. Desiring God by John Piper - Pretty much challenges you to look at all aspects of your life and ask yourself this question.  Do you delight in God?  Is he supreme above all this world has to offer? And how do we give Him all the Glory?  Powerful and challenging book by an incredibly convicting author/teacher.  A must read.

3. The Pursuit of God by A.W Tozer - A challenge to live for God by a most respected and thoughtful Pastor and author.  Highly recommend this book if you are looking of a quick but thought provoking read.  It is paperback and only like 9 or 10 short chapters.

4. Just Do Something by Kevin DeYoung - This is the first book I've read by a guy that I enjoy reading via blogs and such.  It is very easy to read, very entertaining because the author is quite the story-teller, and gives you very good food for thought.  The basic premise is that Christians get stuck in a rut of spiritual paralysis because we over spiritualize our decisions and thus end up not doing anything.  For, example the excuse is usually like, "I'm just waiting to see what God's will for this is" or "Let me pray about this to see if that's God's will." as if God's will is nebulous and unknowable.  Kevin points out theologically all that is wrong with this thinking and guides the reader to discover that we do in fact know God's will.  We must do it.  He also has a great chapter on young Christian relationships and the lies/paralysis young believers can concoct to postpone dating/marriage/responsibility.  A great read and challenges you to start doing what you believe.

5. The Essential Works of Charles Spurgeon by Charles Spurgeon and Daniel Partner - This is a very thick book containing, well, the essential works of C.H. Spurgeon.  To be honest, I have not read the whole book but I have read several sermons over the course of the last few months of this year.  The book contains mainly his sermons but also includes some biographical writings.  This guy is fast becoming one of my favorites.  Eloquent, challenging, and theologically sound, everything I've read out of this book as been super applicable and though provoking.  It is fun to learn from the spirit filled words of a theological giant.  I definitely recommend this one to read throughout the year since it is not like a "book" book.

I have yet to decide what to read this year.  I'm sure it will include some more Spurgeon as well as some newer guys.  But you will have to wait until next year to find out!  Now go forth and read!

Lucy is 5 Months Old - What God Taught Me through my Biggest "Mom-Fail" Moment

I was a bad mom and missed Lucy's 5 month old blog post update! It is definitely true that having a baby adds more busyness to your life, and somehow, the 5 month post didn't make the cut in the list of priorities, that list goes something like this (eat, sleep, work, take care of Lucy, take care of my husband, etc.).

The months of November and December always seem to be busy and this year was no exception. However, this year was very different in the fact that we had little Lucy tagging along with us through all of our Fall and Christmas adventures.

When Lucy was about 5 months old, we were packing up to leave for our Thanksgiving trip to Atlanta. Jason and I had both worked all day and were frantically packing to leave and make it there before midnight. We had been in the (bad) habit of leaving Lucy laying on our queen sized bed while we did stuff in our bedroom like drying my hair, getting ready in the morning, cleaning up the room, etc. Well, when I was packing I left the room for a split second to grab something to pack, and that is all the time it took for Lucy to flip off the bed right onto our wood floors. I ran in picked her up and she was screaming. I was scared to death and felt a HUGE pit in my stomach (that I still feel just thinking about this moment). I ran to tell Jason what had happened and was in tears myself and told him that we HAD to go to the emergency room to see if she was okay. After a few minutes of trying to quiet her down, I fed her, which made her feel a little bit better. All I could do in the moment was cry out to God to make my baby be okay, even though she had just fallen. I prayed and prayed for God to make her okay and to take away any pain she had. We called our friend Shannon who is a pediatrician and she told us what warning signs to look out for. She told us that if she was eating normally and acting normal, she was probably okay, but to wake her up every few hours during the middle of the night and make sure she woke up normally and was alert enough. We finished packing and I held Lucy's hand the whole drive to Atlanta, apologizing to her and praying the whole time.

I thought that I would never admit this story on the blog, but I thought I should share what the Lord Jesus has taught me through this experience. Through a lot of tears and time, he has shown me that no matter how hard I try, Lucy's life and well-being is STILL not in my hands. I dealt with this during pregnancy. It was hard for me to trust in God to take care of her when I couldn't see her. It was hard for me to trust that he was watching out for her and to admit to myself that I was not in control of the pregnancy or child-birth, but that everything was in his hands. He was so faithful to me and Lucy during pregnancy and childbirth and he taught me a new level of trusting in his faithfulness. However, once she was born and as time went on, I gradually began to trust more and more in myself thinking "Hey - I'm actually a pretty good mom, I got this mom thing down!" :) Without even realizing it, I think my trust in the Lord was decreasing as my mom-self-confidence increased. It was only after Lucy fell off the bed (and was OKAY), that I realized that even after her birth, she is still just as fragile and is still COMPLETELY in God's hands. All I can do is do my best, and leave the rest up to him. He created her and knows the plans he has for her life. It is my job to pray for her protection and to stop trying to carry the weight of being the perfect mom around - that load is TOO HEAVY and I was never meant to carry that around. The freedom in Christ is simply amazing. He is so good and loves his children so much.

After experiencing the depth of love and care I have for Lucy, I am starting to understand a bit more just how much he loves all of his children. In that moment when Lucy was in pain, all I could think about was that I would rather be in pain than her, that I would rather any bad thing happen to me instead of her. It is this realization that shows me just how much of a sacrifice it was for God to send his only son Jesus to be crucified on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins. It would have been SO much easier for God to sacrifice his own life, than to give his son up as a sacrifice. I can't imagine the pain that God must have experienced seeing his son suffer, but I thank God every day for that sacrifice that allowed me to have a relationship with him, have my sins forgiven, and receive the gift of spending eternity with him in heaven.

So to summarize, God has used my greatest failure as a mom (and unfortunately, I'm sure I will have other future failures too...:( ) to teach me a little more about the depth of love he has for us. I hope that I will continue to learn to trust in him more and more as I realize how little control I have over the safety of my daughter. I thank him for the gift of her life and pray every day that she will one day experience the greatest joy that this world has to offer - and this JOY is surrendering her life to Jesus, admitting that she is a sinner in need of a Savior, and getting to experience friendship with the creator of the universe.

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Romans 6:22-23
"But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life inb Christ Jesus our Lord."

Tales of a Slobbasaurus

Lucy is 6 months old now.  And Lucy slobbers.  A lot.  So much so that in addition to her mainstay nickname of "boopers", she has also become my little "slobbasaurus."  She slobbers so much I guess because her little incisors are trying to claim a piece of her little gum real-estate.  Although it could be because she is starting to eat people food, and she puts everything in her mouth.  But I can't complaint to much because she seems to be growing up normally (I've heard from others that baby's are slobbery too.)  But having just finished up the Christmas season and getting ready for a new year I thought I'd share some anecdotes and moments I love of my little slobbasaurus over the past six months.

One thing that I love about my little slobbasaurus us her brute honesty.  No, she cannot talk and express her deep thoughts and emotions, even though I'm pretty sure she is a genius and just chooses not to express herself with words, but she can definitely communicate.  Loudly, if need be.  Laura and I always know what she needs/wants.  Hungry? Scream, cry, and slobber.  Tired? Scream, cry, and slobber.  Bored? Whimper, slobber.  She is so effective and honest with communication, sometimes I've wanted to experiment with her methods for one day.  Maybe, when my stomach growls about an hour before lunch I just start to whimper and yell until I get food.  The problem is people would think I'm a lunatic instead of cute hungry baby.  But I still think it would be funny.

This effective communication is important though because she lets me know what she needs, like "Hey, I've been sitting in wetness for awhile and it is not comfortable!  You there, do something about it!"  Which leads me to one of my favorite tales of slobbasaurus.  This tale comes early in her life, maybe about a month or two old.  She was surviving and I was becoming less inept in care-taking except in one little area.  The diaper change.  Now I have learned how to properly handle this procedure but it was not always so.  One day when Laura was taking a nap and I was still on paternity leave, the time came for me to change Lucy.  So like any new parent I dove right in.  I took off her onesie and then removed the diaper.  However, I did not place a new diaper underneath her which I now know is of vital importance.  So needless to say, I had a naked baby on the changing table.  I reached for a wipe but while I was doing so, my ears perked up to the sound of leaking gas and before I knew it, projectile poop was literally spraying everywhere.  It was all happening so fast but it reminded of my of a spray nozzle on a hose when you are washing a car.  Very conical in projection.  All I could do was try to play soccer goalie and block as much poop as I could with my moist wipe but that was in vain.  When all was said and done (a matter of maybe 7 seconds) I just stood there, looked at the couch, me, my boopers, the pack and play...and just started to laugh.  It was funny then, and it is funny now.  But after the laughter came the clean up...not as funny.

As Lucy grows up she continues to take naps although they are getting less and less.  But one of my favorite things to do is watch her wake up.  Again, I had a learning curve with this too.  One of the first times I woke her up from a nap, I just zoomed down into the crib with my hands and lifted her out quickly like a ninja performing a sneak attack.  This did not sit well with my boopers and at once she began to cry.  I startled her out of her slumber.  I wouldn't like that so what made me think she would?  Probably because I'm a dude and don't think about those things until afterwards.  Now, I have it down to a science and I love waking her up. I tip-toe into the room and start by just rubbing her back and gently saying her name.  This will induce some whimpers and head turning and thumb sucking.  I rub a little bit more aggressively which will cause Lucy to open her eyes and look up at me with tired eyes before her heavy little head plops back down on the mattress.  At this point, I role her over onto her back and pick her up at which point she snuggles into me as I carry her out to our bed.  That is the sweet part.  What daddy does not want their little girl to just snuggle into him?  Then comes the funny part. I put her down and she stretches.  And stretches.  Reaching up and out as high as she can with both arms making little whimpering noises while her legs look straight out.  Hilarious and one of the many things I love about my slobbasaurus.

**Side note:  I also love the futures of my little slobbasaurus.  You just can't beat her tiny little hands and fingers or her tiny little feet which look like miniature twinkies with little jelly beans for toes.  Everything is just  so little and cute as she learns to use all of her appendages.

One of the last little joys of watching Lucy grow is meeting her developmental milestones.  Yes, I am a licensed PT now!  But I love watching Lucy look at something, reach for it, grab it, and the promptly pull it her slobbery mouth.  I just never get tired of it and it was really fun to watch her do this at Christmas time because this was the first time she got a lot of presents and was aware enough to do something with the gift.  She got really good at ripping paper with a little help and was especially good at removing tissue paper from a gift bag.  The problem is that she enjoys the tissue paper more than the gift inside and would just get distracted.  It was really cute though and one of my favorite tales of the year.  In addition to being able to reach/grab/pull she is starting to crawl which is very awesome.  She would see a gift with shiny paper and before I knew it was trying to tear and or lick the package.

In summary, my little slobbasaurus loves to explore the world around her and loves to drool and lick.  For example, I was holding her at the dinner table one night and noticed she was just gnawing/licking on the edge of the table like it was a corn on the cob, spewing her slobber all over.  The funny part is when I realize what she is doing and pull her back.  She looks up at me, and then grabs my face with her tiny, slobbery hands as if to say, "What? I'm OK"  She is awesome and God is good.  I'm excited for more tales of adventure with slobbasaurus to come.

PS:  Pictures to come!


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