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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Blake and Olivia Got Married!!!

We haven't posted anything in a long time, but there is a really good reason for that - Blake and Olivia got married! YAY! We're so excited for them! I don't think I've ever been to a wedding where I've seen a happier bride and groom. It was a long weekend full of cooking, ironing, decorating, organizing, celebrating, eating, greeting, cleaning and so many more fun things. I've been in several weddings, attending dozens more, but I have to say that I had invested myself in this one the most, my own wedding excluded. I desired to see them married after all their hardships getting to that day. I had a pretty tender moment with Olivia shortly before she walked down the aisle. I told her that I loved her and some other things and we both started crying ... of course then I felt bad because I didn't want her to be all red-eyed or smear her make-up so I had to hurriedly stop her tears and make sure she didn't look like she'd been crying. Watching her walk down the aisle with such exuberance was thrilling, but even better was the expression on Blake's face. He was so happy.

I love weddings. I love listening to the vows and watching two people make the ultimate commitment to each other. Rather - a covenant. One that is binding. I love listening to the pastor preach about marriage and how it's such a picture of Christ's love for the church. I love watching the couple as they are so happy to finally have arrived on their wedding day. I love when the pastor says "you may now kiss the bride" and there's that awkward kiss in front of everyone (or in the case of Adam and Stephanie - a make-out session - ow ow!!). And of course there is that great moment at the end of the ceremony when the bride and groom face the audience and they are pronounced "Mr. & Mrs. _____." Their eyes are bright, they are smiling so big their faces are going to hurt for a week, and they are just giddy. It's so fun to watch.

Every time I go to a wedding I'm reminded of how the church is the bride of Christ. What an awesome wedding feast that is going to be! I can't even imagine how wonderful. All that we have seen and marveled at aren't even a taste of what is to come. How I long to be at the marriage supper of the Lamb! I love my husband very much and I am constantly reminded of how wonderful he is to me ... and then I think about how Jesus is going to be an even better husband and I can't picture it. It'll be too amazing for words we know of now.

Until that day, I am grateful God gives us weddings to remind ourselves of what is to come and to build the anticipation.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Learning More About Grace

For the past two weeks or so grace has really been on my mind. I'm not sure exactly why, but I've been thinking about times when I've really needed grace from God and others. Actually, I've been thinking a lot about how people have reacted to my sin. It's a natural tendency for humans to judge one another and compare themselves. I can remember times when I'd feel so convicted to share sin with others and I'd finally work up the nerve to tell them about it and I was met with judgment and condemnation. And often I'd have to "work my way back" into their favor. I can even remember one time when I was told that my friend "didn't care if this was legalistic or not" when she told me of my "punishment" she was bestowing on me.

That isn't grace. I don't think I understood what true grace was until about a year or two ago. It was a time when I was confessing my shortcomings and my friends looked at me with tears in their eyes and said, "I'm hurting with you. I want to help you through this. How can I help you come back to Jesus?" Just the memory of it brings tears to my eyes. My heart was so warmed to them. I loved them with increasing measure. And it made me want to confess my other sins so that I could be lovingly brought back to the cross. I didn't fear their condemnation. I could finally understand Romans 8:1-2 - "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." I don't have to fear man because Christ has already set me free.

I also now understand why confession is good. The verse James 5:16 was such a puzzle to me, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." For years this verse terrorized me because I just couldn't imagine confessing sin to other people, or how in the world it would lead to any good. Now I know. Over the last two years I've confessed so much sin, and God has been so faithful to use His church to work that sin out of me. Sure, there's a group of about twelve girls who know all my "dirty little secrets," but I also know that they are the ones who are going to weather my storms with me. I could call any one of them at any time of the day or night and know that they would be there for me. I should also say at this point, that my husband has shown me the most grace I've ever experienced outside of God's saving grace. Nothing can come close to his daily patience and forgiveness of my sins.

So how has all this made me love God more? Because I have experience grace from sinful, finite humans and it has radically changed my life and I know that God's grace is a gazillion times better than theirs. I can't even comprehend that. God sent His Son to die so that He could show me grace that I didn't deserve. I am so thankful that God gave us His church so that we can understand, even if at a fraction of the depth, His grace, mercy and love.

Grace Grace

God's Grace

Grace that will pardon and cleanse within

Grace Grace

God's Grace

Grace that is greater than all our sin

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Tuesday Tip!

I've been reading a few books this week about hints to keep your house clean and neat. I found two that I really liked and that I will be using A LOT! I love anything that will help clean a microwave covered in baby puree and rice cereal and salsa and tomato sauce and cleaning clothes covered in ... well, the same thing. I hope these are helpful to someone else out there!

1. Steam Cleaning Your Microwave
Fill a microwave-safe dish halfway with water and put it in the microwave. Heat for a few minutes until the water boils. When you open the door the baked-on crusties will be much softer and easier to clean off.

2. Ivory Soap vs. Laundry Stains
Plain Ivory Soap is a great stain remover because it's mild (it has an almost neutral pH) and it doesn't contain moisturizers, deodorants, and other unnecessary additives. Other mild white bar soaps will work too, but make sure they don't have moisturizers, dyes, or perfumes. Here are 6 steps for easy stain removal:
  1. Wet the stained garment with cold water.
  2. Rub a bar of Ivory soap directly into the stain, then rinse.
  3. If that doesn't remove the stain, rub Ivory soap on the stain again, and then soak the fabric for 30 minutes or so in cold water with a bit of powdered detergent dissolved in it. Ir you forget and leave stuff soaking longer, it doesn't really matter - you won't hurt the fabric. Rinse!
  4. If that still doesn't work, rub more bar soap into the stain, scrub it with a scrub brush taking care not to damage the fabric. Rinse!
  5. If a second scrubbing attempt doesn't remove the stain, blot it gently with some color-safe bleach diluted with water, then rinse with clean water to remove all of the bleach.
  6. If all else fails, accept the stain as a trial through which you need to persevere!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

My Little Devotion Partner

Charissa and I have started doing devotions together this week. We read together in the afternoon and sometimes if the text allows, we act it out as well. It's pretty fun. It's really helped me though because it makes me read out loud and slowly which makes me process it better. And then acting it out makes it even more clear. After we read we pray together (although usually Charissa is trying to eat my face off).

I definitely recommend having devotions with your babies. It's a fun bonding time as well as helping to raise them in the Lord.