Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Rest My Weary Soul in Thee

Jemima, one of the best energy-givers in the whole world!

O Love that wilt not let me go,

I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
That in Thy ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flick'ring torch to Thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in Thy sunshine's glow its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow thro' the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to hide from thee;
I lay in dust life's glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson

This hymn has been on my mind all week.

I often think of my actions in terms of, "Am I being an 'energy giver' or an 'energy taker'?"

Obviously, I want to be someone who is an energy giver, someone who gives more than I take, someone who leaves others feeling refreshed, lifted up, inspired, and re-energized rather than drained, exhausted, or grumpy! I don't know how successful I am all time, but I try.

I'm sure everyone has someone in their life who always calls or comes over to tell them about all of their problems and how bad they feel or they always need something done for them. I've certainly known people like that.... and just dread answering the phone when I see it's them again - those energy takers. I hate to think of anyone feeling that way about me, so I try not to be!
Even just yesterday, I was feeling exhausted and burnt out, trying to continue to give, when I felt like I had nothing left and it was torture to do the next thing cheerfully as all those around me were complaining that others should be pitching in and helping more. I was running on almost no sleep, and the day wasn't working out the way it was supposed to. I had a lot that I wanted to say about how they had nothing to complain about compared to the long hours I had put in on their behalf, but I bit my tongue and reminded myself, "Be an energy giver! Don't join their pity party!"

It was hard, and I drove home frustrated, thinking about the fact that you can't always give and give and give.... Or can you? The world says that you must take time for yourself if you don't want to burn out, experience depression, etc. I FELT like something was going to snap. I can't live like this forever, I told myself....

Once again, this hymn came to mind.

In thinking it over, I decided that it IS possible to be an energy giver to others at all times! I don't need to "take a little for me/look out for myself" on occasion to keep myself going, because I have JESUS to rest my weary soul upon. Instead of telling them how unfair life is to me, I should open my aching heart to my Savior.

I have to worry about depressing other people with my weariness and problems when I decide to take instead of give. But I NEVER have to worry about exhausting the endless resources of a Sovereign God!

He is ever faithful.
When my light flickers, I can yield it to Him.
When weariness of soul and body threatens to overcome me, I can lean upon Him.
When I feel completely devoid of any good thing, any good attitudes, any joy, I can go to my precious Lord, and there I will find every good thing to fill my heart and mind.
When I cannot love, I can let Him love through my hands and mouth and feet.

When I cannot, He CAN!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Speechless... We WON?!?!?

I am speechless.

Reality hasn't sunk in yet, and I keep pinching myself, asking, "Did I really get that phone call from our attorney this afternoon?!?!"

My family and friends assure me that I am very much awake. And the presence of 134 new related emails that have appeared in my inbox in that last couple of hours confirms it.

I'm afraid I sounded very unprofessional and giddily happy when reporters were calling me for comments this afternoon. I was so happy that I didn't care what they thought of my crazily ecstatic comments. (Yes, it's always dumb to get so emotional that you don't care what you're saying to the media!)

The Missouri Supreme Court decided the midwifery case in our favor!!

On July 4th, the felony status of Certified Professional Midwives in Missouri will be lifted, and they will be free to practice.

I guess I'll eventually grasp how this will change my life and plans sometime soon... maybe.

For now, Psalm 146 echoes my heart tonight...

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.
While I live, will I praise the LORD:
I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help,
Whose hope is in the LORD his God: Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is:

Which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgement for the oppressed:

Which giveth food to the hungry.

The LORD looseth the prisoners.

The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind.

The LORD raiseth them that be bowed down.

The LORD loveth the righteous.

The LORD preserveth the strangers.

He relieveth the fatherless and widows:

but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

Friday, June 20, 2008

You Make My Day Blog Awards

The The Nisbett Family chose my blog as one of their five favorite blogs, honoring it with a "You Make My Day Award." Thank you, Nisbetts! Your blog is one of my favorites as well!

I'm supposed to pass this award on to five other blogs. The hard part is deciding which five to single out....

One of my very favorites is the Young Ladies Christian Fellowship Blog... by Gretchen (Glaser) Acheson, Natalie (Nyquist) Klein, and Lanier Ivester. They post frequently (almost every day) and their posts are nearly always inspiring, convicting, or just plain great reading! I subscribed to Gretchen's "YLCF" magazine as a teenager, and though I've never met her, I love her outlook on life! I met Natalie (then Nyquist) a few years ago when we spent the week together with 10 girls in a hotel suite, preparing for Crystal (Smisor) Paine's wedding. Natalie's writings (ever since the very first letter she penned to "HopeChest" magazine have always been honest, endearing, and incredibly Christ-centered. She has inspired me in so many ways over the years as I have seen her willing to settle for nothing less than God's best for her life.

Speaking of where I met Natalie, Crystal Paine has another popular blog Biblical Womanhood that I really enjoy. When Crystal used to publish "Polished Cornerstones," it focused more on topics relevant to single girls. Since becoming a wife and mother, her blog's focus is more about homemaking, organizing, thriftiness and motherhood - but it's chock-full of insight that's relevant to anyone. She also posts on a near-daily basis.

Abigail Paul, A Source of Joy Blog, has been a good friend of mine since.... I don't know when. A long time ago, when we were about 11 or 12? Our families met at another homeschooling family's house while the Pauls were spending a few days in Missouri. At the time, I didn't think much of it, but Abigail and I became pen pals, and I have found her to be a dear and faithful kindred spirit ever since! Somehow, over the past decade and a half or so we've managed to see each other almost yearly in spite of living in different states! These days, I rarely have the time to sit down and write a good old-fashioned letter to her, but we keep up with each other's lives in part through our blogs and through our many other friends who know both of us! Abigail also still publishes her magazine, "Hidden Wisdom" (we were fellow editors for years) which our whole family enjoys.

Our Rowe cousins have recently started a new blog, Rambling Rowes, that contains frequent updates about the life of their big family. They started by chronicling their trip out west in May. My hope is that they will see how fun blogging is and continue with frequent posts and pictures about their life!

I have lots of favorites in the midwifery/medical blog world. However, since some of them are rather graphic (both descriptions/content and photos!) and I try to keep this blog family-friendly for the many young readers that I have, I'll refrain from linking my favorites here. But Citizens for Midwifery has a great new blog that is constantly updated with news and research from the world of birth. Best of all, my friend, Molly Remer, is the author/editor!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Spare Time?

It is what you do when you have nothing to do
that reveals what you are.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Ladies' Tea Party

Preparing a feast

A couple of the families from our church hosted a lovely tea party for the ladies on Sunday night. Most wore Regency era costumes, and everything focused around Biblical Womanhood.
I think everyone from babies to grandmas thoroughly enjoyed the evening! The ladies from my family certainly did!

"Okay, we're nearly ready to eat!"

There were lots of little girls on the blankets in the meadow!

Ruth... feeling elegant!

Jemima, Mary, Mom, and Joy C. chatting afterwards

A Visit from the Hunters!

The Hunters came back and spent part of the last two weeks with us. It's always fun to have them around - they're so comfortable, it really feels like they're just part of the family.
Here's all of us girls with their girls on the front lawn...
Liz, Jemima, Mary, Julie, Joanna, Ruth, and Tonya

Monday, June 9, 2008

Gardening Big Time, Part II

Joanna (12)

Lotsa weeds to pull!

Ruth (15)

Noah (17) - mulching cabbage

Sam (14) fixing the tiller

Gardening - Big Time!

Broccoli and tomatoes

Abe (19)

Mom, Liz, and Mary weeding the lettuce patch

Abe and Sam love any excuse to use the tractor instead of a hoe!

Squishing one's toes in the mud is so... therapeutic!

We spent the morning in the garden.
It was muddy and wet, but that meant that weeds popped out almost effortlessly.
If only the rows weren't quite so long, we might stay on top of everything.
This year, our garden covers three acres... and it's, well, a challenge to try to keep up!
I'm trying not to think of August and 500 bushels of tomatoes to deal with.
Or 2000 heads of broccoli to freeze and sell.
Or digging all of those carrots and sweet potatoes.
Right now, we're making about 8 gallons of milk into cheese most days.
I guess we need to start an organic restaurant or produce market...

Maybe by the end of summer, we'll all be tanned, toned, and super healthy!

If nothing else, we'll appreciate the food on the table more than ever.
And maybe we'll never again view weeding a small plot as something hard to do.

Friday, June 6, 2008

2008 Quotes from Politicians and Lobbyists in the Missouri Capitol

My good friend, Sarah Greek, who has spent a lot of time helping me lobby at the Capitol for the past two years is much more careful than I am to document the daily happenings there. She also has this penchant for keeping a log of all the funny quotes she hears each day. Some of them have been priceless!

In her latest post to the family blog, she has listed some of the best quotes she heard last month at the capitol. I'm so glad she wrote them down. In reading through her post, I was transported back to many days and conversations that happened a few short weeks ago. Check them out here

He sang atop the old split rail
all while it thundered,
raindrops pelting him like hail;
and I wondered:
how one small, vulnerable bird,
defying deafening thunder,
could make itself so sweetly heard
- and still I wonder -


Monday, June 2, 2008

Marriage - the Good, Bad, and the Ugly

Over the past two years, several of my good friends have decided that they were "done" with their marriages, and happily divorced and moved on. One of them is still single. Several others have recently remarried. In all of these cases, the biggest reason for the divorce? Husband and wife were either mutually sick and tired of one another, or the wife decided that she had put up with her husband "being a jerk" for long enough. I don't think adultery has been involved in any of these divorces. Mostly, it just comes down to a lot of years together with a lot of accumulated irritations, bitterness, and grievances.

Having watched my own parent's less-than-ideal, yet very committed marriage of close to three decades, I know that marriage isn't always beautiful and romantic. I know that sometimes its hard and ugly and long and that some days staying together seems far more insane than finding separate worlds to live in. But I've watched their marriage and many others, with lots of commitment and work and prayers and tears become... not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but vibrant testimonies to the grace of God.

Visiting with one of my friends as her divorce was being finalized, I asked, "So, what would make you reconsider? It sounds like your husband doesn't really even want this to happen. And what about your little boy?"

She defensively sat up a little straighter and emphatically said, "It's about time that I did something for ME for once! I've been walked all over for nearly ten years while he's been complaining about depression and burying himself in his job. I'm done. I just don't care anymore if it's good for him or not. My husband hasn't made me happy in a long, long time. He wants to save our marriage, but he doesn't have any idea of what I need. And I'm withering away with nobody looking out for me. Frankly, I don't care if he's going to change now. He's not the guy I thought I married and I've bent over backwards to try to help him. I'm ready to find someone that won't take so much work. I've finally decided that it's time that I just stand up for myself and do what I need for ME."

She followed through with the divorce then found a "new" man - one who assured her that maintaining relationships is his top priority. (His other 2 wives walked out on him, claiming that he wasn't meeting their needs, so I don't know if I believe him... Maybe he's changed a few things...) Maybe this marriage will work, maybe it won't. That's beside my point.

My friend isn't a Christian, so she sets the rules for herself (for now -- she'll find out differently some day). So, I can't really fault her in thinking that making herself happy is the chief end in life.

But for my Christian friends who have recently decided to throw in the towel on their marriage of 10 or 20 years... and give up because they were tired of another sinful human being who isn't considerate, unselfish, loving, or helpful... I am appalled.

I know.
I haven't walked a mile in their shoes.

I know.
I've never even been married and don't know half of the heartbreak they've encountered.

I know.
I'm unqualified to write about a subject of which I know so little.

But, a few of these situations have brought me to my knees over and over again, begging God for wisdom. He always pointed me back to His Word reminding me that the facts are very plain. He's not okay with forgiveness being over after seven times or even seventy times.
I have been reminded that even when our heart would like to tell us that truth is whatever fits the situation, the Word of God has not changed.

Although I prefer to be non-confrontational and "mind my own business" in these situations, a couple of times the Lord has prompted me that it was my duty to do more than pray. It was my duty speak up in love. I've tried to do just that.

I recently penned a letter to a dear, dear Christian friend who told me that she was "so done" with her husband of several decades and contemplating remarriage.

As one who has experienced the mercy of God in great measure (haven't we all?!), I hoped that the themes of forgiveness and redemption would call her back to reality, and that she would give her marriage a second chance. I apologize for the length of the post, but I hope that it's worth your time as well.

Our theology is never right till in our heart we invest God with infinite power and perfections.
William S. Plumer

The Bible is the one book to which any thoughtful man may go with any honest question of life or destiny and find the answer of God by honest searching.
John Ruskin

What our Lord said about cross-bearing and obedience is not in fine type. It is in bold print on the face of the contract.
Vance Havner

A Covenant With Unfaithful Men - a letter to my friend

I'm sharing an edited version of my letter to a dear friend who was contemplating remarriage, rather than reconciliation with her husband of many years....

Dear Friend,

Thank you so much for sharing your heart and plans with me. By sharing, you have made yourself vulnerable and open to criticism. I hope that this letter doesn't feel that way. Its certainly not meant to be condemnation, but rather my heartfelt thoughts after having a little more time to think over all that you told me.

I love you and your family dearly, and I always will. I am not in your shoes, nor do I claim to know God's will for your life. I tremble to "meddle" in your affairs, especially one as binding and as life-changing as this, but I tremble more to say nothing when I see God's Word shouting out so many things about your situation. Some of those we've already discussed. I really only want to touch on a couple that we didn't have a chance to talk about the other night...

I believe more firmly than ever that God is completely good and kind and just. I believe more firmly than ever than ever that God is not harsh, nor are His rules. SIN is a harsh and cruel master. Open the paper any day, and you will see the marks of sin - murder, rape, robbery, and every action committed by a heart full of self. On the other hand, open the Bible and behold the Lamb who gave Himself for the most unworthy and vile of His creation. Any time ugliness or harshness enters our lives, it is because of sin, not because of God.

Over and over in my own life, when I am tempted to say that God's restraints are too cruel, too harsh, or too unaccommodating for my feeble human nature, I have to remind myself that God is not cruel and demanding - sin and the devil are.

It is with that preface that I take into account your reasons.... That you need a provider so that you can be a mother to your little ones; that your son desperately needs a Godly father figure; that you need a loving husband to lean on while struggling to raise your children; that you want a man who walks with God to be an anchor in your spiritual life... I "get" all of that. They are all good, natural desires for anyone in your circumstances.

In spite of your reasons sounding good and very reasonable to the human mind, I still get a check when I go to the Word of God, which MUST be our authority above feelings, experiences, circumstances, and yes, even what most people would think to be "common sense". If the Word of God is not the final authority in every circumstance, then it is not the final authority at all. If our reasoning can ignore what it plainly says even one time, then we have made ourselves the final authority in our lives.

We talked about the whole "divorce and remarriage" issue from Scripture. Regardless of how you or I feel about that, there's another issue that the Bible is so clear about...

You vowed before God to love [I'll call him Joe] for better or for worse. You didn't promise the state to stay to true to Joe, so the fact that the state has granted you a divorce means nothing. And you didn't vow to stay faithful for as long as he was faithful and "did his part." You just vowed to do your part, regardless of what happened to him.

Even the world believes in staying married for the better part -- when the other is loving and faithful. "If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans so?" (Matthew 6:46)

That is a "no duh"... as long as you're happy and having your needs met, saints and sinners alike are happy to stay married, even to put up with some inconvenience and discomfort and dirty socks on the floor.

You, twenty-some years ago, vowed to Joe, before God, that you would love him
for better and for worse,
for richer and for poorer,
in sickness and in health...
till death alone parted you.

Vowing to love and be faithful to someone,
even at their worst means that your vow
should still be honored even when:

~he is unfaithful
~he doesn't love you
~he doesn't want you
~he walks away
~he's cold and uncaring
~he's angry and bitter
~he's selfish
~he's ugly
~he's embarrassing
~he's unlovable
~you've forgiven him 70 or 300 times
~he doesn't meet your needs
~he isn't a good father
~he's lazy
~he's depressed
~he doesn't even care if you exist

LOVE still perseveres and hopes and believes even when there is nothing to believe in but God. Love doesn't walk away and say, "I'm done. You've blown it for the last time."

If Joe had become mentally ill and was not the person that you knew or married, still -- even restrained as a mad man in a hospital bed -- he would be yours to love and never give up on. Your job would be to love this monster of a man the best way you knew how - to always want the best for him, and to never stop praying or hoping that somehow, someday God would give you your husband back.

If Joe had been disfigured in some terrible accident (as was Dave Roever, the famous Vietnam veteran) and he looked like nothing but a mass of torn flesh, singed hair, and oozing scabs, it would still be your job to love him, even if the very sight of him repulsed you.

If Joe became a depressed alcoholic, beating you and the children, violent, angry, saying that he hated you, your vows would be no less relevant. It would still be your duty to love him the best you knew how. Your love might include putting some physical distance between you and the children for safety, but your love should hope on for healing and restoration. There would be no justification for giving up and kicking him to the scrap heap, deciding to start over. Hopefully, your response would be to weep and pray and intercede on his behalf that he would be reconciled to God, to be made a new creation, to be the husband and father that he ought to be. Through the eyes of faith, you would pray for him to be restored to the Lord and for your marriage to once again be the loving picture that it ought to be.

Each time a glowing young bride stands before a room full of people and commits to stand by the side of a young man and love and honor him for life, she takes a risk. It may seem unthinkable on that day. Certainly this man would never do anything but be a good husband and father. But the truth is that every human heart is capable of the greatest evil imaginable.

Marriage IS a weighty matter, because of this very truth. There is no guarantee that any loving man or woman will always be that way. You took that risk a long, long time ago. On that lovely day, you had no idea that some day you would be standing here at this place, both of your hearts filled with bitterness over the wrongs that have added up over the years. No, you couldn't see ahead. But you vowed that even when the worst happened, you would be faithful to love and honor.

"Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few... When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay..." Ecclesiastes 5:2, 4

When we make a covenant with another person for life, we do it after having thought through what we can see of the future. When it seems that this person will be good, and honorable, and faithful, and the kind of person we can love forever, we take that leap of faith forward. Anyone would think it unreasonable to marry someone who would predictably be unfaithful or cruel.

But have you ever thought about the blood covenant that Jesus made with his disciples?

He knew what would transpire that very night. He knew full well that they were unfaithful men - men who would betray him, run away and hide, curse and swear and insist that they had never seen him before.

The night before the crucifixion, as Jesus sat there, dipping his bread in the bowl with them, he looked around and said, "One of you is going to betray me tonight." He didn't tell Judas that he wasn't allowed to partake of that first communion because he was about to be the instigator of the death of God Himself, manifested in human flesh. He didn't ask Peter not to participate as He made a covenant with him, knowing that Peter would betray him three times before that very night was over. Instead, he offered the same to Judas and Peter, and all of the rest of the soon-to-be unfaithful disciples -- "Take, eat, this is my body which is broken for YOU!"

He knew that they'd all forsake him and flee when the going got rough. yet he entered into a covenant (not just for the duration of life, but rather to give up his life for their sins!) with men that He knew wouldn't stay by His side even till the night was over.

As C.S. Lewis said, "Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive."

You are absolutely right. I don't know what I'm talking about.

I've never been where you have been. But God does. He went there.

He knowingly and voluntarily committed His lifeblood to men who were unfaithful and concerned only with looking out for themselves.

What I see as so clearly wrong in your situation is that you don't want to wait for God to change your husband. (Or else, you consider it impossible for God to make Joe into the kind of man that could love and honor.) You don't want reconciliation in your marriage, a chance to honor the vow that you made to Joe and to God so many years ago. You are finished with the relationship, and looking forward to slamming the door on the "Joe chapter" of your life, as you move ahead with a new relationship.

What, of any of the decisions that you are making, are you making out of genuine love for Joe's soul, for his good?

I know that Joe has no desire for reconciliation. Yet it was while we were yet sinners that Christ died for us. "Not that we loved God, but that He first loved us..."

You and I both know the elderly lady whose life is a living testimony of her favorite quote: "Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that crushes it."

Rather than quickly kicking Joe off the road since he has hurt you so many times, and moving on to an easier, sweeter, more desirable relationship, can you give God a chance to work in the mess and change Joe into a man who you can love and be proud of?

I know that runs contrary to everything that you're thinking and feeling. But don't let it be said of your life, your marriage, your family, "He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief." (Matthew 13:58)

Truth and reality are not conditional, nor are they changed or dictated by circumstances. God's Word is the surest anchor for our souls, and when we will yield our wills to the plainly written Word of God, more often than not it is not what we want to hear (love, forgive, do good to them that hate you...) in our given circumstances.

John Piper, in the The Godward Life writes,
"One profound biblical insight we need to embrace is that our heart exploits our mind to justify what the heart wants. That is, our deepest desires precede the rational functioning of our minds and incline the mind to perceive and think in a way that will make the desires look right. It is an illusion to think that our hearts are neutral and incline in accordance with cool, rational observation of truth. On the contrary, we feel powerful desires or fears in our hearts, and then our minds bend reality to justify the desires and fears."

Eve began to question what God had said. She came up with lots of good reasons for why she was going to eat the forbidden fruit. ("Surely God would want me to be wise...") But she gave up everything when she reached for that fruit. And I'm sure that she never for a single day found that juicy bite worth the grief that it caused the rest of her life.

I believe that, more than anything, you are making a choice that may "[give] great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme..." I also fear that as your children grow older and start their own families if they will question if God's ways really work. Will they wonder to themselves whether loving and forgiving is possible and whether the Word of God is subjective to circumstances? How will they learn to trust God and believe that all things are possible when their parents didn't even want to try to work things out?

One of the books on my wish list includes "When Sinners Say 'I Do.' "
The subtitle intrigues me - "What if God made marriage more to make us holy rather than to make us happy?"

Again, friend, I haven't walked a mile in your shoes, and I can't say that I would do the right thing faced with your circumstances.

I'm not asking you to believe what I believe. I can only beg you to ask God for a willing heart to do whatever He asks of you.... Willingness to do even what you don't want to consider - taking steps to love a man who you never want to see again.

I believe that God will answer your prayers and show you exactly what He wants in your situation, but only if you really want to know what HE thinks, and purpose in your heart that you will do it, regardless of the cost.

That is my prayer for you.