focused on Glory {in my own backyard}...

Not many words in today's focused on Glory post...just glimpses of God's glory just outside my back door...

Be sure to see Tauna's focused on Glory post at Creative Confetti


Multitude Monday...the Thankfulness Roller-Coaster...

Ever have those times...the thankfulness roller-coaster times?  It seems to never fail around here...a day or week overflowing with thankfulness, and then *pow!*,  Last week was a super-busy week, during a time of year that is usually not-so-busy around here.  Very busy, but great busy.  Fun, fellowship, worship, encouragement, reminders of God's faithfulness through the years...good stuff all.  Yesterday, in fact much of the last few days, I've been overflowing with thankfulness...and then today, it hit...massive discouragement from multiple directions.  I've struggled today, the kind of struggle where you just want to go pull the blankets over your head and hide from the world...until sometime next week.  But, alas, the "list" for the day didn't include a week-long nap, so I was determined to keep moving through the list, albeit waaay more slowly than I'd planned.  

I tried hard to put on a happy face and keep on keeping on, but the struggle continued.  I had prayed for others...one of those times when, as Bro. Kent said last night, you feel your prayers bouncing off the ceiling...and struggled in praying for my own issues.  I finally decided I needed to ask for outside help.  I made a quick request, then went back to plodding through my list.  

Not long afterward, a link to Ann Voskamp's blog post for today popped up in my Facebook newsfeed as I sat at my desk for a minute.  I clicked on it out of habit, and began to rather distractedly read.  I couldn't fully focus on her words, and didn't actually finish reading the post (I have a tab open to go back to it later :))...but the words that did break through the brain-mushiness of the day brought instant conviction.  Worship...thanksgiving...praise...one of the greatest lessons of the past few years has been to "bow the knee"...

Bow the knee; 
Trust the heart of your Father when the answer goes beyond what you can see.
Bow the knee; 
Lift your eyes toward heaven and believe the One who holds eternity.
And when you don’t understand the purpose of His plan,
In the presence of the King, bow the knee.
~Chris Machen   

Worship...thanksgiving...praise...and a good time to count blessings and continue the list...

...creative hands and minds working...

...husband spoiling...

...small one chattering (and chattering and chattering :))...

...morning symphony of doves cooing...

...time with friends laughing...

...blessing reflecting...

...Sunday worshiping...

...church body fellowship-ing...

...Spirit convicting...

...Sunday School praying, discussing, learning, loving...

...music blessing...

...Jehovah-Rahpa healing...

...sun glowing...

...mind planning...

...anticipation mounting...

...progress building...

...rare bird sighting...

God loving, and grace-giving...every day...

Please visit Ann for more on Multitude Mondays...


focused on Glory...Birds in the Snow

I have been SO incredibly thankful for the very mild winter we've had this year.  After the extreme, record-breaking winter weather we had last year, it's been a welcome change.  The combination of our old, drafty house and health issues that have brought with them a very low tolerance for cold temperatures have definitely tempered my lifelong love of winter.  

After many more mild, sunny winter days than usual this year, we finally had a bit of snow yesterday.  And it was truly only a bit...maybe an inch...but it was incredibly beautiful while it lasted.  And it was even more beautiful decorated with our many backyard birds.  Billy said the cardinals looked like Christmas ornaments...and they did. :) 

I posted Psalm 148 in yesterday's Daybook post.  I'm really enjoying meditating on it this week.  What an amazing picture of God's glory...that all Creation truly praises the Creator.  I wish I had audio of our birds singing in the snow...they certainly sounded like they might be singing praise to God. :)  (And if you haven't watched the Louie Giglio video I posted yesterday, be SURE to go back and watch it.  The whole thing is excellent, but if you are short on time, just be sure to see the last six minutes or so.  One of the most amazing things I've seen in a while.) 

Be sure to see Tauna's focused on Glory post here


Simple Woman's {Snowy} Daybook

FOR TODAY...February 13, 2012

Outside my window...thin layer of snow on the ground, birds singing as the flock to the yard to feed.

I am thinking...that I have a tremendous amount of photos to edit in the next couple of days.

I am thankful...for hot water, kitchen full of food, warm blankets, electric heaters, the beauty of God's creation.

I am wearing...warm, fuzzy gray fleece sweats...perfect for a gray, snowy day. :)

I am creating...tweaks to our new schedule, orderly spots around the house, and scheduled blog posts for the week.

I am going...absolutely nowhere today...staying in out of the slushy weather.

I am wondering...how I have missed Elyse Fitzpatrick's earlier books. Started reading her latest this weekend, and discovered that she has a whole list of things I'd love to read. 

I am reading...Give Them Grace, by Elyse Fitzpatrick.  I've wanted to read this for SO long.  So far it's excellent, and very convicting.  More on it soon...

I am hoping...for a productive week this week!

I am looking forward to...Spring! 

I am pondering...Psalm 148...

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
Let them praise the name of the Lord!
For he commanded and they were created.
And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.1
Praise the Lord from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the Lord!

Love this Psalm, and love this video illustration by Louie Giglio.  The whole thing is excellent, but if you are pressed for time, you can start at 8 minutes in for the best part...

A favorite quote for today...

“I agree, if the universe was created just for humanity, it’s oversized. But if they knew the universe’s primary function was not to house humanity but to magnify the Creator, they would know it’s just about the right size.” ~ Louie Giglio

One of my favorite things...the look of delight in a little girl's eyes when she wakes up and sees snow on the ground outside. :)

A few plans for the rest of the week:  Valentine surprises tomorrow, school, church, household projects...

A peek into my day...(and a sneak peek at tomorrow's focused on Glory post :))

Cardinal in the Snow

For more Daybooks, please visit The Simple Woman's Daybook


focused on {Reminders of God's Grace and} Glory...

I've been planning this week's focused on Glory post for a long time...ever since I realized that Ammah Grace's birthday was going to fall on Tuesday this year.  And then we were so busy celebrating her birthday (and catching up from celebrating her birthday :)) that I am *still* days late with the post!  Oh, well...I guess perhaps "better late than never" applies here...at least I hope!

And today has special significance, too...8 years ago today I came home after a week in the hospital, leaving our tiny 4-day-old baby daughter in the NICU 2 1/2 hours away from home.   I was so excited to be going home to the rest of my family, but Billy and I felt like our hearts were being ripped out as we walked down the hall away from the NICU that afternoon.  Ammah Grace's condition at that point was still very unstable, and I couldn't imagine being so far away from her...but I had been discharged from the hospital, and while we knew we'd be coming back as often as possible, we needed to get home and figure out a plan for the remainder of her time in NICU. 

Earlier that morning I had called my dad (who, along with my mom, was caring for our 3 older children in Fort Smith) to wish him a happy birthday.  Here is what I wrote last year about that phone call:

I remember calling Daddy to tell him Happy Birthday and bursting into tears on the phone...at the fact that I had to leave my baby in such uncertain condition, at the fact that Billy was driving to pick me up in a snowstorm, and at the fact that it was Daddy's birthday and we weren't going to be able to celebrate.   He did what he had done best for 35 years....listened, encouraged me, prayed for me, and somehow made me feel better.  I knew that when I got home, there would be a big hug (and probably a few tears :)) waiting for me.  I apologized for the fact that there would be no big birthday celebration for his 70th birthday...to which he replied that the best present he could have was for me to be out of the hospital, and Ammah Grace to be alive and getting the best care possible.   We had no idea that that would be his last birthday...although with the health issues he had been struggling with, there was a tiny wonder in the back of my mind. 

Just another word or two about that snowstorm...It snowed the night I was transported to Little Rock in the back of an ambulance.  It snowed the day Billy picked me up when I was discharged.  It snowed three days later when Billy and I went back to Little Rock to see our tiny girl, and it snowed almost every other trip we made there or back the remainder of her time in NICU.  As we drove home that day, I remember realizing how God's hand had been working even before Ammah Grace's birth to prepare us for this time...

Before Emlyn was born, we realized we were going to have to have a larger vehicle...our two-door Toyota Tercel was not going to cut it with three children in carseats!  So through friends at church, we found a used van...a big blue GMC Safari that I absolutely LOVED.   Just after we discovered we were expecting Ammah Grace, however, Billy was broadsided coming home from work one day, and while he escaped without injury, the big blue van I loved was totalled.

It was one of those "Really, Lord?  Are you serious?  Why in the world are we having to deal with this NOW?" times.  The wreck was 100% the other man's fault, his insurance covered everything, and we ended up with a later-model, lower-mileage, much more dependable van that got much better gas mileage out of the deal.  But...as  anyone who's had that sort of wreck knows, dealing with insurance, rental cars, and locating a new vehicle after a wreck is almost a full-time job.  It was a bit overwhelming for a while for a pregnant mom of three young children who had just gotten off bedrest.

As we drove home that February 11 eight years ago, though, I realized the "all things work together for good" in that months-before wreck.  The big blue van I loved had been showing its age, and we were no longer comfortable driving it out of town.  Suddenly we were needing to make multiple trips per week between Little Rock and Fort Smith.  We could never have done that in the old van...especially with all the bad weather we encountered...nor were we in a position to replace the old van at that point.  I realized that in the wreck that caused so much extra work those months before, God had provided us with a newer vehicle that was up to the task ahead that we didn't even know we needed to prepare for.  What a blessing and reminder that His hand was in every detail of this difficult situation.

That wasn't the only provision God had made months previously for this day and the days to follow.  Leaving our tiny, extremely ill little girl alone in Little Rock was terribly traumatic for her worried mama and daddy.  However, the hospital explained that we were allowed to name a "surrogate" who could visit Ammah Grace in the NICU who would be able to sit with her, talk to her, read to her, and later on, hold her, in our absence.  The catch was, only one person could be named, and the arrangements had to be made before we left.  The original plan was for my aunt, who lives in Little Rock, to be the "surrogate"...but then we discovered that the lighting in the NICU was an issue with a long-term eye problem my aunt has, so there was no way she would be able to visit. We had many friends in Conway, the town 30 minutes away where I grew up, but needed someone closer who would be able to check in often.

As I tried to pray instead of worry about this latest dilemma, a solution came from an unexpected place.  My  uncle's mom had just moved to Little Rock from California, where she had lived all my life.  Mrs. Gladys was quite up in years at the time, but still healthy and active, and she had volunteered to be our "surrogate" to visit Ammah Grace in our absence.  Again...God had provided before we ever knew we had a need.  Mrs. Gladys will always have a special place in our hearts!

Remembering the early days and weeks of our youngest daughter's life brings back such a huge flood of memories...and not all good ones.  Meeting after meeting with doctor after doctor with grim prognoses and one complication after another.  Hearing the alarms go off and watching her turn blue from lack of oxygen, and words we learned to hate..."code blue", "ambu bag", "desats" and "bradys".

And yet there are so many good memories as well...and words that were very precious..."breathing room air" (finally!), "she kept down 1 cc of milk!", "up an ounce", "the bleed has begun to resolve itself", "she's a miracle!" (from one of the top neonatologists in the country, who was also one of our favorite NICU doctors), and finally "it's time to go home".

Apparently those last words were the words she was waiting to hear.  We had some false alarms in the months she was home with her monitor, but never a true "episode" (despite the fact that she had to be ambu bagged only hours before we left) once we got home.  None of the dire predictions of the NICU doctors have come true, and the only lasting reminder of those early days is the occasional bluish tint to her lips when she gets really cold.

As I said in my Facebook status on Ammah Grace's birthday:

Celebrating 8 years of Ammah Grace today! We are so thankful for our everyday, walking {or more often running}, talking {all. the. time.}, breathing {which we'll never take for granted after seeing her "blue" too many times}, giggling {ALWAYS!} reminder of God's amazing grace, power, and goodness.

She is truly our walking, talking, giggling daily reminder of God's glory and grace.  We are so thankful not only for God's faithfulness and goodness and the many prayers He has answered in Ammah Grace's life, but also for the many, many people who prayed for her, and for us, during those early days, weeks, and months.  

Be sure to see Tauna's focused on Glory post at her blog, Creative Confetti.  I'm still trying not to be jealous (not of her being sick, but of her seeing the African Children's Choir :)).


Favorite Posts of 2011, Part 4

Wednesday Night Song, an Old/New Book, and Sharing the Story ~ I want to steward our story this well...

Thankful Thursday...Glorious Hope ~ "Alexander Days" and our Great Hope...

When I Forget to Remember ~ Needed to read the Katie Davis post linked here again today..."Tomorrow or next week or in ten minutes I will forget...But right now I breathe deep and bend knees and raise hands high. And I say it to you and I say it to me: God has been good to us."  Yes, He has.

12 on the 12th ~ Bay the Birthday Girl 

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