Wednesday, September 29, 2010

On Loan from God

Isabella was dedicated on Saturday! It was such a great day. She even had her first crib nap in months! (I've really been hoping to start her naps in the crib soon, but I had no choice on Saturday, and it worked great!)
We had so many special people here with us; both sets of grandparents, both my sisters and one brother-in-law, both of Isabella's cousins, Matt's sister, brother, and sister-in-law, and Matt's grandma, aunt, and uncle.

The dedication is on Saturday afternoon in the church chapel. It opened with a beautiful song (I just looked it up - Find Your Wings by Mark Harris). Pastor John then shared an explanation of the promises the parents had agreed to make in this dedication of our child. The promises were included in the program as well.

He emphasized that our children are on loan from God. I have thought about this a lot in Isabella's 6 months of life. My personality lends itself to being obsessive, and I am obsessive about things that seem to be wrong. I always want to fix it - if she's not sleeping well, I want to fix it. If she didn't gain much weight, I want to fix it. If she doesn't want anyone else to hold her, I want to fix it. When I come to the end of my rope and realize that everything can't be "fixed," I am so comforted in knowing that she belongs to God. She always has; she is on loan to us for a time, but she will always be His child. I am getting better at remembering this fact before I do my crazy thing.

After the message, each family was called up to be introduced and prayed over. We chose a verse for Isabella, and I spoke it over her. It was Psalm 73:23-24:

Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand, you guide me with your counsel, and afterward, you will take me into glory."

Matt was asked how Isabella has changed our lives, and he talked about how having a baby helps up realize how selfish we are. It has also shown us a love unlike anything we have ever known. Then Pastor John prayed for our family. They presented us with a few gifts; a Bible, a teddy bear, a bib, and a tag blanket (looks like this). There was a red ribbon on the table, and everyone who came to the dedication wrote a special note to Isabella on the ribbon. The blanket has a Velcro section that can be opened, and the ribbons goes inside. Isabella will be able to carry this reminder of the love that surrounds her wherever she goes.

Following the dedication, they provided pizza for the family in the church cafe. We were introduced at the 5:30 p.m. service that day as well.

I have seen and been a part of many baby and child dedications, but what they do at Prairie Lakes Church is amazing and so special. I am thrilled that we had Isabella dedicated here. I will never forget this special day.

Friday, September 24, 2010

You Are So Beautiful to Me

I promised to post the article that I wrote about here. I'm finally getting around to it! This article was originally printed in The Message of the Open Bible September/October 2010 issue.

My daughter is beautiful. She is only 4 months old, but she is already so beautiful to me. I don’t know what others see when they look at her because I can only see her through my eyes. My view of her may be biased, but it is the only view I have.

The same is true for my view of myself; I can only see through my own eyes. Many women struggle to see themselves as beautiful because of the world’s increasing focus on physical beauty and sexuality. Beauty is subjective, but this culture has determined that beauty has a very narrow definition. Our television shows include makeovers that turn a woman from an “ugly duckling” to a “beautiful swan.” I believe it is a warped mentality that places a woman’s physical beauty far above her mental capabilities, social skills, and character qualities in determining her worth. Our culture’s obsession with a woman’s body has greatly impacted her ability to see the beauty God created in every facet of who she is. Our culture’s focus on women’s bodies has also affected a man’s ability to see a woman as God created her and not as the sum total of her body parts.

I believe that the lack of self-worth many women experience is compounded by the increased sexuality in media and our culture today. I can’t buy a gallon of milk without seeing a magazine cover with a provocatively dressed woman or a woman (or young girl) in the store dressed in the least amount of clothing possible. Many girls and women dress as provocatively as possible for the attention they receive from men. However, that attention is often fleeting and leaves them dealing with the pain of rejection until they can attract the next man to make them feel beautiful again.

What is a woman to do when faced with so much “propaganda” telling her what she should look like and what it means to be beautiful? Philippians 4:8 has a suggestion for us: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (ESV) I cannot change the fact that my eyes will come into contact with many images in a day. Some of the things I see threaten to remind me that I am not “good enough” to make a magazine cover. If I choose to let my thoughts stay there, it doesn’t take long for hopelessness and depression to find their way in as well. So I remind myself of Philippians 4:8 many times in a day. I can choose to focus on many things, and the time I spend focusing on what I am not is time that I can’t spend thinking about my family, my future, and the amazing blessings God has given me.

I can recount many statistics that illustrate how depraved our society has become. However, I would rather not place my focus on that today. These verses get to the root of the issue for me: “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.” (Romans 8:5-6, ESV) When women (and men) set their minds on the things of the flesh, the end result is death. Many spiritually and emotionally dead people have lost sight of the importance of where they set their minds.

My daughter is growing up in this over-sexualized, over-stimulated world. This is the world into which she was born. I will do my best to tell her every day that she is beautiful. She is beautiful to me. She is beautiful to God. I don’t want her to ever forget it.

Side note: I highly recommend Matt Chandler’s podcast “The Greatest Commandment Part 13: Canvas” for an excellent perspective on the life of the mind. It can be found in a PDF version at or the audio version at

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Six Month Surprise

We took Isabella to her six month appointment on Friday. She is such a little peanut, so I was pretty curious to find out what she would weigh for this check up. She weighed in at 10 pounds, 15 ounces. For some reason, I had it in my head that she was 9 pounds, 4 ounces at the last appointment, but apparently that was the appointment prior to the last one. She weighed 11 pounds and a few ounces at the 4 month appointment, so she lost a few ounces. I was very surprised, but the doctor was not worried about it. She grew an inch in length and gained an inch in head circumference and is meeting all her milestones. By all those standards and by all appearances, she's a healthy little girl. She is as strong as can be; I can't believe how hard she can grab the toys on her Exersaucer, and she pulls my hair very well.

We scheduled a weight check in a month. She has yet to hit her 6-month growth spurt, so I imagine that will come sometime in the next few weeks. She has also been very distracted during nursing over the past few weeks (or more). Especially if I'm trying to do anything else at the same time; she is much more interested in what I'm doing than in eating. So I started taking her into her room and keeping distractions to a minimum.

So that's it.

Yeah, right.

As I thought about it after leaving the doctor's office and running some errands with her, it really upset me. I felt like a bad mother. 

How could I not know that she didn't gain any weight?
Is it my fault? Is it because I started Weight Watchers? 
Is there something wrong with my breastmilk?
And the eternal question...why would God put me through this? She's been doing fine, she seems just fine, and now all of a sudden I'm insanely worried about her and feeling like a terrible, horrible, unfit mother.

I really, really didn't want to tell anyone. I figured I could ignore it, but I knew that those who know me and know we went to the doctor would ask. So I decided to be tough and act like it's all fine.
Then I saw Melanie. And I knew she would understand. She would not judge me or think less of me.

So I cried. 

Then I felt better.

What I now realize is this: God loves Isabella. He loves her more than I do, and He gave her to me and Matt to raise and nurture. I have done my best with her, and she has done great for her first six months. She has always been small, and she will grow at her own pace. All I can do is to take care of her the best I know how and trust God to do the rest.

She belongs to Him, after all.

I knew this all along. I just let the worries and disappointment push it out of my mind this weekend. But I'm better today. And as long as I keep that in mind, we will all be just fine.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Joyful in Hope

Isabella is being dedicated at our church in just a couple of weeks. I am excited at the thought and effort they put into child dedication. They sent us a packet of information when we signed up, and one of the pages included verse ideas for Parent/Child Dedication. (It's actually a Child Dedication/Parent Commitment Service.) They ask parents to choose a "promise verse" that will be prayed over the child at the service.

Last night, I was reading through the verse ideas to see if anything struck a chord with me. They list a passage from Romans 12, which is to me one of the most practical chapters in the Bible. I have always been drawn to it. The passage listed includes verse 12, "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." (NIV)

Joyful in hope. Joyful in hope. I listen to a lot of Matt Chandler sermons, so I can't remember exactly where I heard this one. I think it was somewhere in the Luke series. He said that hope can only be present where something is lacking. If there is hope, that also means there is hurt, pain, something missing. That is obviously an overriding theme for the follower of Jesus - we are always longing for the day we will see Him. The pain of this world is a reminder that we are not home yet.

In many smaller ways, I hold onto hope every single day. I hope that God will bring healing where I have wounded. I hope for freedom and perseverance for those I love who are stuck in difficult situations. I hope to see God do amazing things in me, in my family, in my friends. Unfortunately, I can't always use the word joyful to describe my hope. How about...


That is not an impressive list of adjectives. I really need God to bring joy to my hope. I may have to wait a long time to see these hopes and many others be realized. 

God isn't as concerned with the "resolution" to my trials as He is with who I am becoming in the midst of them.

Monday, September 13, 2010

It's here!

I haven't mentioned anything about this because I wanted to wait to see it in person. And now I can post about it! Isabella and I are on the cover of a magazine! You won't find it on any newsstands, but it's pretty cool to me.

I was not planning on writing an article for this issue, but I had offered some information and expressed an interest in the topic. The editor emailed me a few weeks later and said that she was short on articles and could use another one if I would be willing to write. The timing was poor and I was not sure how to approach the topic, but I really wanted to do it. Because of the timing, I only ended up with one evening in which to write it. I sat down with no clear direction and started writing. By the end, I really felt that God had worked through me to write His message.

When I emailed the article, I also sent a couple of pictures of me and Isabella for the bio. I was really happy with the article and excited about the opportunity to write. The following week, the editor emailed me back. She asked if they could use one of the pictures of us for the cover! I was very surprised, and I made sure to ask Heth first since she took the picture. Everything fell into place, and I have been pretty excited for the day it would finally come in the mail.

And today was the day!

The article hasn't been posted online yet, but I retained the rights to it, so I will probably repost it here pretty soon.

P.S. Some days that have something really awesome in them also have something really crappy. I'm not sure why that is. It's putting a damper on my evening, and I'm not doing a very good job of focusing on the positive.