Monday, August 27, 2012

the blessings of Christian friends

I really believe that when the Church acts as God calls it to, fellow Christians become to us like family.  I have experienced this over and over again here in Montana, in our local church and in my community of fellow mothers.  The Christians I know here free me to be myself, to be vulnerable and authentic.  They really care.  And they show it by word and deed.  It's so easy to start getting cynical about the Church of Christ.  Yes, it is full of sinners.  But it is also full of caring people who are the hands and feet of Jesus in the world.  I am so grateful to God for the way He shows His love and care through the family of believers.

I've been struggling a lot through this pregnancy.  One of my primary struggles has been with my limited ability to participate in service.  I see so many needs all around me and I long to be able to do more to serve.  But I also know I am not very dependable right now.  I keep having health issues that slow me down and take my attention.  And when I push myself too hard, I regret it later.  More of this pregnancy has been spent resting in bed than in my previous one and I get so frustrated with the exhaustion and health hang-ups.  Yesterday, I was sitting in the fellowship hall at church with some ladies of all ages and they asked me how I was and listened and then gave me some gentle lectures that it is right to take care of myself.  They told me this is only a limited time in my life and I will have months and years to return to service and doing.  They said, "How can we help?  Do you need help cleaning your house?  Setting up the nursery?  What can we do?"  One friend proposed a baby shower, which will meet so many needs in our stretched budget currently.  Another friend is offering me maternity clothes.  A third is watching Burrito one day this week so I can get a little rest.  And today, another Christian friend from another church offered me more maternity clothes.  A week ago, another friend gave me some baby boy clothes, which were also much needed.  God is providing.  He is answering so many prayers.

Sometimes it's hard to be vulnerable with my fellow Christians, but to fail to do so, to fail to share how things really are is to miss out on God's blessing and care through them.  I came home feeling a bit teary-eyed with gratitude.  I hope that when I am feeling better again, I can be there for other friends like this too.

Friday, August 10, 2012

adventures in pregnancy: mr. bean

Pregnancy has not been good for blogging.  I thought it might be.  I mean, I could whine and moan about the discomforts of pregnancy for NINE WHOLE MONTHS, right?  Ample material!  But...I also started to think of how SICK of my whining my friends and readers would get...and how sad my friends who struggle with conceiving might feel...and how STINKIN' TIRED I would be--so tired that even spending time whining and moaning seemed as though it might take too much energy.  I remember after my first trimester how I knew I was beginning to feel a bit better because the idea of watching a TV show downstairs on the couch was not so overwhelmingly exhausting (I'd been crashing in bed many hours a day).  LAYING ON THE COUCH was exhausting!  I mean, seriously!  Who can blog?

Not to mention that my blog definitely takes a food slant and just try writing about food when you can't stomach food.  Just, ew.  Gross.

I have barely cooked for my family in months.  Yep, that's right.  Me.  Flathead Mama.  Foodie.  More often than not, I find myself getting take-out or making a big salad for dinner.  Or a sandwich.  Mmmmmm....  Garlic has become persona non grata, which eliminates basically all of my recipes except dessert (although if I had found a way to add garlic to dessert, that probably would be part of my repertoire too!).  The first trimester, I couldn't cook or even stand cooking smells in the house.  I was craving chili one day and I made my husband cook it on the barbecue grill.  A few friends brought me casseroles.  BLESS THEM.  Because of them, my family could actually eat a few home-cooked meals!  And Sweet Peaks...Oh, God bless Sweet Peaks...their creamy, homemade ice cream was one of the few things that tasted really good.  Hence, my visits about three times a week.  No exaggeration.

And then...just as the afternoon sickness of nausea began to abate, I got a bad sinus infection that turned into a cough that made me throw up (which, strangely enough, I had never done from pregnancy either pregnancy!).  And then I got food poisoning and had diarrhea for 4 days.  I was reminded of the line from The Devil Wears Prada: "I'm just one stomach flu away from my goal weight."  Haha.  In a way, it was good.  I had gained a little weight before getting pregnant.  This equaled me out a little bit.  Look on the positive side, I guess.  I wouldn't recommend 4 days of diarrhea as the best diet ever though.  Don't try this at home.

I got so depleted, I started having what almost felt like contractions.  So I had to get checked out at labor and delivery.  There was enough instability that they ordered an ultrasound.  But ultimately, baby was found to be staying put.  I went home, rested, stayed in bed (some more) while my husband did basically everything (some more).  BLESS HIM.  Without him, I probably couldn't have gotten well.  But I did.

The last week or so has been good.  We have done more fun things in the last week than in practically the whole pregnancy combined.  (Arts Festival!  Swimming at the lake!  Farmer's Market!  Thursday Fest in Kalispell!  Movie with the hubby!)  I'm tired and sore these days (and suffering from more allergies than usual), but functional.  And we found out this week that our baby Bean is a boy, so we have taken to calling him Mr. Bean.  I'm feeling him move more and more and so grateful to have gotten this far.  So grateful for the husband, daughter, family, and friends who have helped me through the hormones and sickness and difficulties of the first trimester (and part of the second).  So grateful to God for sustaining me even through an all-too-frequent negative attitude.  So grateful for the good and replenishing activities I've been able to do this week.

I hope with some renewed health and energy, I will be able to post a little more often.  But however things work out, know that I plan to be with this blog long-term.  Because, well, writing is awesome.  And so are my readers.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It's not about me...

I've been having a sentence burning its way into my heart and mind lately.  It comes to me at times when I see something on Facebook or the internet that gives me a flash of anger...a flow of argument on my lips and in my heart.  It comes to me when someone who disagrees with me says something sharp and pointed.

This is the sentence: "It's not about you, Rebecca." 

This comes to me again and again.  In my sinful flesh, I am so eager to claim I am so righteous, the other person is so wrong, and it's all about me and my opinion!  But Jesus has been reminding me over and over again that It's not about me!  I can relax.  I don't have to prove myself.  I don't have to smack down someone's argument.  I don't have let everyone know how right I am.  I also don't have to be liked.  I do have to make an effort to show God's love to people.  Because my actions are viewed by one Audience: God.

It's not about me.  It's about Jesus and a world full of people who are hurting, just like I am.  It's about taking myself out of the way and letting Jesus shine through.

I stink at this a lot of times.  I want to claim my Christian rights.  I want to be in the spotlight.  I want to argue my point.  I get all caught up in the claim that poor Christians are so persecuted, forgetting that Christians in America know little of persecution and that even when it does come, Jesus said that it would.  I forget the pain of others in trying to force everybody to see my own distress, my own point of view.

Meanwhile, the person I want to argue with is essentially saying to me, "I hear your argument, but I don't hear your love."  Or maybe I am trying to listen and they are "giving me no credit for listening" I get upset and offended?  Or do I listen some more, get to know them, tell the truth about my beliefs but never give up on being their friend?  Do I claim my rights to be understood?  Or do I remember, "It's not all about me?"  Do I see where Christians have hurt them?  Do I see a person that God loves?  Or just my own ego?

Jesus was firm and unapologetic about His beliefs, but He was also incarnational.  He came near to us poor sinners.  His truth was something expressed through a relationship.  Will I be like Jesus and listen?  Or just love the sound of my own voice? 

And when I do speak and give witness to God's Word, do I have to be liked?  Do I have to be understood?  Does it pain me when people don't give me credit for being balanced and nuanced and compassionate?  Or do I accept the pain of people's misunderstanding, knowing that God loves them?  Do I let myself relax and say, "It's ok.  I will do my best to love and to learn from their correction, but I will also be faithful to God.  I'll try to change where I need to shed self-righteousness and lovelessness, but I won't go along with people just to be liked.  It's ok if they don't understand.  It's ok if I am maligned (as long as it's not because I'm being a jerk!)."

Over and over again, Jesus says to me, "It's not about you, Rebecca."  I'm learning to listen.  It might take me a lifetime...
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