“At the time, I did not understand how much I had wrongly identified myself with my coffee shop dream … I continually have to lay down who I think I am or who I want to be if it is anything different from God’s plan for me to be transformed into the image of His Son … For now, I do want to say that it wasn’t as if ‘Coffee Shop Aimee’ weren’t part of the real me.  It’s a huge part of my story.  God taught me so much through that experience … But another thing I learned is that not every dream is worth pursuing.  I had to lay that dream down — I had put it way above everything else in priority order.  I was serving God in my own way, not his.”

(Aimee Byrd, Housewife Theologian, p. 77)

“Track your fears with the light of Scripture and you are directed to God.  Your fears are more about God than you realize.  Along the way that light also helps you see yourself more clearly.  What you see is that the world is organized into two kingdoms, and the boundary between those two kingdoms, as Alexander Solzhenitsyn observed, cuts right through each of our hearts.  Our preference is to straddle that line, but our patient God keeps persuading us to be wholeheartedly devoted to his kingdom.  There is no other way to distance ourselves from fear and anxiety.”

(Ed Welch, Running Scared, p. 311)

Currently reading through The Measure of Success: Uncovering the Biblical Perspective on Women, Work, and the Home by Carolyn McCulley and Nora Shank.  I’ve been following Carolyn McCulley’s articles and interviews on this topic for a year now, and I was really looking forward to her book release.  Turns out JE knows me better than I imagined, because the book came in the mail before I even had a chance to order it!  He heard about it and had it delivered to our home.

And … I promised JE I wouldn’t launch out on any crazy work ventures until I finished reading through this book.  Haha.  It’s giving me opportunity to reevaluate my priorities in this season of life and pray about what my “work” is to look like — in the home, toward my family, and other endeavors — all as unto the Lord.  That last part is trickier than I would have thought, and culture has informed my views of work and success more than I thought.  I wrestled with “ambition” in the past.  What ambition should look like for a believer and specifically for a believing woman (here, here, here).  Mostly generalities, and more questions than answers.  But with some understanding for my life as a single and then as a wife with no children.

But it’s time for a fresh application.  More on this to come.

On a completely different note, we discovered that Ian already inherited something from me.

That ugly cry.

Some people look really pretty while crying.  Sorrow still looks attractive on them, if that makes sense.  They can talk through their tears — some can even sing.  I don’t cry very often, but when I do, my face contorts and the well of pent-up emotion erupts all over my face.  JE says it’s a face of absolute pain and misery.  And nothing comes out but accompanying ugly sounds.

Ian has the same ugly cry, where his face contorts into a mixture of several emotions mixed into one look and sound of anguish.

Haha, sorry baby boy.  If you ever have a sister, I hope she cries prettier than we do …

Part of the 30 day challenge series

Ian, many of my traits are double-faceted with strength and weakness.  Or rather, the traits themselves are usually neutral (except #1 and 2 below) but manifest themselves differently whether I’m walking according to the flesh or the Spirit.

But here are 5 strengths and weaknesses:

5. Determination.  I don’t give up easily.  Used for my own purposes, it is just ugly, ugly obstinacy.  But as your grandpa told me many times growing up, I need to use my stubbornness for good, for God’s purposes.  To persevere, to be faithful, to be strong for what is good.  Then it becomes a strength.

4. Quick to identify with people.  This is a strength in terms of empathy, relating and identifying closely with people’s thoughts and emotions.  I can imagine myself in their place and feel deeply for them.  As a weakness, it means that I can be quick to excuse sin or take on sinful indignation on their behalf.  As Ed Welch would put it, people can become big and God can become small (humanly speaking).

3. Quick to action.  If I’m moved or convicted, I want to act.  Right now.  As a weakness, this manifests as impulsive, hasty decisions.  I can become impatient, too.  But sometimes, quickness to action is a strength.

2. Pride. This is all weakness.  I mean the ugly, selfish heart that has no leisure from itself — constantly thinking about self, protecting self, doing all things for self.  C.S. Lewis has a chapter on pride in Mere Christianity.  It kills me.  Ian, I’m daily battling my pride.  You will see the ugliness of my pride as you grow older.  That old Pharisee in me is hard to die.  Self love is hard to die.  I pray you see umma repent of her pride again and again.  I pray you see growing humility, evidence of God’s grace at work in me.

1. Christ. This is all strength.  I’m so grateful for Christ in me.  So, so grateful.  He is my only hope for being the wife and mother I ought to be, pouring grace over my weaknesses and faults and gaping holes and sins.

Part of the 30 day challenge series

Hi baby, I can’t think of a pet peeve, at least in terms of things that consistently annoy me, so this will be a quick post as you are playing right next to me with appa‘s soccer ball!

Nothing consistently annoys me unless the following is true:

1. I’m running a high sleep debt.
2. I have not eaten and my blood sugar is plummeting.
3. I have not had a quiet moment to myself in days.

With that said, it’s good to examine our so-called “peeves” and see if they’re really a matter of pride (read: sin).  Like why would those people do that?  I would never!  Or things have to be exactly to my liking — or else!  That kind of thing.  Which your umma has plenty of.  But that’s sin.  Not a peeve.

*edit: JE just notified me that today is Tuesday, not Monday.  Hahaha.  Woops!

This morning, as JE came into the room so say goodbye to me, I woke and began asking him frenzied questions right away: Is the baby sleeping?  Did you kiss him goodbye, too?  Was he awake when you first woke up?  Did you check?  Are you sure?  So, he isn’t sleeping right now?  And my mind immediately began calculating what time he might have woken up, how much wake time is left, what that makes his rough schedule look like today, if I had any meetings to coordinate his feed times around, what my day would look like working from home.  And as these thoughts were all running into each other in my head and questions were coming from my mouth, JE was calming me and saying, “I love you.”  And then I kind of snapped out of it and remembered, “I love you, too.”  The day and calculations and juggling could wait.  Our relationship was important.  It was good to fall back on that.  He loves me.  I love him.

Then he left.  And it was time to feed baby, change him, play with him, put him back down, eat breakfast, get somewhat ready for the day (i.e., at least brush my teeth!).  I looked at the clock.  One hour ’til I need to check emails and start working for the day.  I picked up my Bible and picked up where I left off.  Proverbs 2.  And as I read, my thoughts started swimming again: How can I impart this to baby?  How can I use this in ministry?  Oh, [this person] would be so encouraged by this today. (Pause to text the verse to [that person]).  How does this apply to my life today?  What can I learn from this passage?  Why doesn’t my heart feel quiet yet?

I know, I’m crazy in my head.  But God is kind.  And this article, “Dad, I Think I know All the Bible Stories Now,” came to mind right then.  About a father who realized that for much of his son’s life he, without realizing it, had been teaching him that Sunday worship, the spiritual disciplines, etc. were about learning something new every time rather than worship.  I can relate with that.  Thinking it’s just about learning.  But I think the danger more for me is thinking it’s about productivityWhat can I do with this?  How can I multiply this?  What problems can I tackle and solve with this?  How can I apply this to myself to cure my ailments and weaknesses?  How can I apply this to others?  Learning and productivity aren’t horrible things.  They’re good things.  But not at the expense of worship.  Not in lieu of worship.  My relationship with God is important.  Sitting at His feet in quietness and adoration is important.  It’s good to fall back on that.  Again and again.  He loves me — wondrous thought!  And I love Him.

Monday mornings are for worship, too.

1 month.

June 14, 2013

One month ago, around this time (8:20something pm), little Ian was born.  That first day together was a daze, and he was honestly a bit of a stranger to me.

One month later, today, he finally “feels” like my son.  Of course that feeling doesn’t affect the truth that he’s my son at all, but I think my emotions and affections have started to catch up with this reality.  I love him, and I understand my friend better when she told me a couple years ago that she wouldn’t just die for her son, she’d kill for him, too.  Not in a murderous way but that Mama Bear protection over her son.

I’m starting to understand that heart.

Yet I’m also realizing that doing what’s best for him sometimes comes at a cost.  I’m sure that cost will grow as he gets older, but for now, it’s in the little things, like hearing him cry.  I can do what’s in his best interest and still hear him cry like his little heart is breaking.  It’s heart wrenching.  And I can imagine it will be harder later, watching him struggle through something and to either have no power as his mom to ease his struggle … or to fight to see the big picture and refrain from rescuing him every single time rather than watch small struggles strengthen him.  There’s a wisdom to all of this that I have yet to receive, too.  Praying.  Harder.

And I have to admit I was frustrated many times this past month, because I wanted motherhood to be an extracurricular activity.  Something I could dabble in but still have my freedom and avoid major change.  But the change has been pretty major — without, yes, but most of all within.  I’m learning to embrace motherhood a little more and to cherish it.  I do cherish it more each day, but this didn’t come naturally.  As he grows more dear though, and as God is working in my heart, the sacrifices seem less like sacrifices and are slowly transforming more into labors of love.

With my marriage, motherhood has introduced a slew of new fears, too.  I’ve watched couples go through difficulties in their marriage due to the stresses of parenthood, and I feared the same for my marriage.  But the Lord is our confidence.  The gospel doesn’t change in this season of life either.  His grace is sufficient here, too.  Lots of truths to apply and reapply and reapply.  It has been bittersweet.  Bitter to see the many fears, sweet to remember Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  I’m so thankful for this unchanging Rock.

And it’s true — children are truly a blessing from God.