Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

13 Things I Learned in July 2013

I've been especially quiet here for the past month. I thought about coming back here a number quite a few times, but in a lot of ways felt too empty. I missed this place, but the quiet was necessary. Even though I had not really intended to take a break for a month, I realize now that I needed to.

I was out at the pool today with a friend and our children and she asked me what I've been pondering these days. We didn't really get to elaborate on our conversation a whole lot due to the location and the responsibility we had to watch our children, deal with necessary interruptions and give them lunch.

I thought I would recap here some of the things I pondered or learned in July. I got the great idea from Emily Freeman who posts and hosts a link-up at the end of the month for others to post about what they have all learned the past month.

In no particular order, I will list here some of the things that I have discovered, pondered, learned, or relearned:

1.  I really need to plan on having crash days after a busy week away and hosting company and having a family wedding before going away for another busy week. I thought I would get more accomplished on that week home, but I learned I needed to have some down time.

2. I realize that I trick myself into believing that I can keep up to anyone else even though I live with 30% lung capacity and severe aortic stenosis. Besides being a mother to three children and low on iron, that is probably why I was exhausted and crashed for about three days, but I had a hard time accepting the fact that I should stop.

3. Every new life is a gift. We were blessed with three more nephews born within 10 days of each other. Both of my sisters gave birth in July. My younger sister had another son and my older sister had two more sons - yes, two! Identical twin boys to add to their family of 3 boys. My one and only son really thinks we need twin boys in our family.

4. Speaking of babies, I was excited to welcome the #RoyalBaby into the world. My British blood was pretty proud of the beautiful family. I was delighted to see Kate in her post-pregnancy radiance and admired her for being authentic with her mummy-tummy. I was disappointed to see the negative reaction and how so many have such a hard time with the feminine beauty of a mother who has carried her child for nine months. Of course it will leave lasting changes, ones to be thankful for and not be shamed into thinking that they are not acceptable.

5. It is disheartening to pack up a dream even though you know in your heart you need to. I was forced to face the reality of my own desire to carry one more little one safely inside my own womb. The reality for me is that it is not safe. I met with an obstetrician at a high risk clinic in a research hospital in a large city while my sister was waiting to be induced with her babies. She deals specifically with maternal heart problems. This compassionate and knowledgeable doctor looked over my history and current health situation and her eyes turned intently at me, and she shared the hard, cold facts that I am in an extremely high risk situation. She was flabbergasted that I have carried three babies without any major complications and delivered them safely in small hospitals and she could only throw up her hands and declared: "Someone has been watching over you!" I echoed her proclamation and claimed, "Yes, by God's grace, I have these three children." She reminded me that these children need their Mama, and while I soberly and wholeheartedly agree with her, I can't help but rest in the Sovereign arms of a loving God who will fulfill His purposes not only for me, but also for my children.

6. "Our heavenly Father never takes anything from his children unless he means to give them something better."

7. Sometimes you really wonder if your heart can handle anymore heartbreak when you feel pain so deep, but don't release it very well.

8. It is really hard to set boundaries, bit just as hard to live by them. There is a freedom that comes with setting boundaries, but a very real grief as well.

9. My 12 year old daughter spent her first week away at an all-girls overnight Christian camp about five and a half hours from home with her cousin. It was a wonderful experience for her. As well as an opportunity for her to spread her wings and for her Mama to let go a little more.

10. Self-giving love will only come as I surrender more to the will of God and walk more intimately with Him. As He fills me I may be able to lay myself down and pour out this same love and know the same joy. As my joy in God increases and overflows it will extend to others and their needs and my joy will increase even more.  Dig deep to know endless delight in the Lord. This is the way of love.

11. I stayed up way too late one night in June and listened to Jeff Goins on a web video. I finally decided to go ahead and do one of the exercises he suggested: to ask a number of people to list about three adjectives to describe you (ie. personality, the way you communicate, write, etc). I asked and received some very honest answers. It was a very beneficial exercise and I learned some valuable things about myself. I highly recommend you try this exercise to see how others perceive you.

12. More than ever I desire to delight in God and enjoy His presence. As He strips away things I have clung to in my life, He shelters me under His wings of  His love and faithful promises. As I lean into Him and trust and receive all that He gives with thanksgiving, I will taste the goodness of the Lord and enjoy Him more fully.

13. I should have already started planning for our upcoming school year, but I am enjoying the lazy days of summer too much right now.

I'd love to hear some of the things you have learned in July!

Enjoy your August!

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