February 24, 2011

You Can't Always Get What You Want

I always thought it would be fun to own a piece of clothing that the designer had named "Megan." Then, one day I discovered...

These Shoes

And guess what? Other than the name, I dislike everything about them. The heel is too high for me, the color too bold, the peep toe too conducive to my big toe sticking out awkwardly. 

Oh well.

Now I realize that what I want is not just a piece of clothing named "Megan," but an article of clothing designed for a bookish, awkward person and named Megan. If you find said item, PLEASE let me know!

February 21, 2011

On Being Thankful...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about being thankful. These thoughts are inspired in part from my Tuesday evening Bible study (really, sermon study) where we've been studying Philippians. Over the past two weeks the sermons have focused on Paul's exhortations at the end to the Christians in Philippi:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

We've spent two weeks studying just on those few sentences, but those sermons have been oh so convicting. It wouldn't really be helpful for me to try to explain all the reasons why these sermons have been so convicting, but it has been a good reminder that going through life's difficult times does not give one license to forsake thankfulness. Any way you slice it, Lindon and I are going through a hard time in life now. We love our friends in St. Louis, but we would rather be in a situation where Lindon is working full time at a church. My job is delightful, but I would rather be at a place where I didn't have to go in to the office. The waiting and praying and pursuing and being rejected are hard. 

And yet, and yet. As I have said to myself on this blog over and over again, the truths we claim have not been voided by our trial(s). God is still at work, though we do not know our next step. God is still providing for us, though we're not where we would prefer to be. 

So I have been convicted of my lack of thankfulness and want to change that. And then, lo and behold, the weather changes. It was unseasonably warm here for most of last week, and the sun and warmer temps made me more thankful. Indeed, sometimes I forgot why I was ever discouraged in the first place. This spring preview fever made me just feel good.

But guess what today brought? Cooler temperatures, gray skies, and rain, rain, rain. And where is my thankful attitude? I don't know. If you see it, please let me know. I want it back. Last week my heart felt so light, and after one gray morning it's like nothing will ever go my way again. 
The quick demise of my thankful heart shocks me. It ought not to be this way, so I am forcing myself to be thankful, even when the sky is gray. After all, my life situation has not changed. There are still lots of reasons for me to be thankful.

So right now I am choosing thankfulness. Chances are good I will make another not-so-great choice later today and will have to go through this emotional, mental, and spiritual rigmarole again. But right now I choose thankfulness.

February 11, 2011

Gifts from the Lord

When I announced to people that we were expecting (nearly two years ago, holy moly), one response I often got was, "Children are a gift from the Lord."

This is a pretty standard response, and it is true. Even if Levi hadn't arrived the day before Lindon's birthday, we would still think of him as a gift. But one insight I have gained in the past two years - really, you can only gain insights this profound from being a parent - is that there is a tremendous difference between a child and Kohl's gift card.

Levi is a gift in the sense that I think my child is another expression of God's unmerited favor toward me. God didn't give me Levi because of my impressive resume or solid essay answers on my Parental Application. The fact that I am a mother is not a sign that I am patient and godly enough to earn the responsibility for progeny. And it is not a sign that I have all the answers. Lord, no.

This child is a gift in that he is another way the Lord reminds me of how much I do NOT have under control and what a mess I am. These are not the kind of gifts that I much appreciate. But when it's from God, it's a good thing. It reminds me of how much I must depend on him. I need the Lord whether or not I admit it, but there is so much more freedom and joy in admitting it than in pretending it ain't so.

There are of course other ways that I consider my child a gift. The joy of his smile and the sound of his laughter echoing through the house are more precious to me than anything that you could gift wrap. And so on and so on. I guess what I'm trying to say is Levi is a tangible example of God's grace in my life, but I still have to work my but off at being a faithful parent, a faithful steward of that gift.

I say this because the Fowler family is going from three to four. Jobs, that is. Oh, did you think I meant family members? Ha.

Pretty soon Lindon will pick up some maintenance work at the condo where he used to work two shifts as a door attendant. This time around his work will be WAY more fun, but it does mean that he will be gone a lot more when I am home. Keep in mind this is in addition to his internship, my part-time office job, and my freelance writing.

This schedule is far from ideal. Of course we would prefer for Lindon to have a full-time, pastoral job and for me to stay home with Levi and write. But for reasons we do not understand, that is not where God wants us right now. Instead, we are both working pretty hard at a lot of different things and trying to be faithful parents. This is not an easy combination, and frankly I kind of dread one more responsibility at this point in my life. But this job, and all of our jobs, are gifts from God, another example of His providing for us.

When many of us think of God providing, we tend to think of dramatic things like an anonymous cash gift in the mail when the bank account is at $0 or a mechanic informing you the expensive car repair is free of charge. We've had things like this happen to us (thankfully, never a totally empty bank account!), and they are thrilling and encouraging. But a job opportunity becoming available that involves lots of work is also God's provision. It is no less God's provision than a $100 bill in the mail.

The reason I write this is first to remind myself that God is still providing for my family even though we don't have the pastoral call for which we're praying. Second, to say that this time in our lives involves lots of hard work and forces us to fight for family time. Third, because we believe that a call will come and that this stressful time in our lives will not last forever. That third one is the one that is hardest to write because I struggle to believe it sometimes.

And often times of deep discouragement were followed by days of reprieve, friends surrounding us with prayers, and emails and phone calls about churches with new positions. These are also gifts and reminders that we are not alone as we wait.

And now I am going to enjoy another special gift from the Lord - an afternoon nap.

February 5, 2011

Variations on a Theme

It's 8:44 pm on Saturday. What sort of crazy exciting things do I have in store? Blogging. Oh, and folding the laundry once it comes out of the dryer. It was supposed to already by dry, except that I forgot to turn on the dryer a few hours ago. Whoops.

Perusing some blog posts from previous Februaries, I noticed a theme in my February posts. First, February seems to mark the end of my seasonal interest in winter. Blog-related evidence of such can be found here, here, and here. This winter has not been nearly as difficult as last winter, but the short, cold days are getting to me. Now that Levi can walk, I long to let him loose in the backyard rather than watching him work his tornado magic indoors. In my mind, it's time for winter to be coming to an end. Quickly. There is a good chance that I will reprise my Antidote for the Winter Blues series again later this month because just reading back over those posts was so encouraging. Feel free to play along!

Second, February is the month of the Steelers! We are so excited for the Steelers making their SEVENTH Super Bowl appearance (it is their seventh, right?)! My journey into Steeler fandom is documented here.  Also, there is a good chance I will make these Steeler smiley face cookies tomorrow. The irony is that unless the Super Bowl is a blowout, I will have difficulty watching much of the game. The drama stresses me out, and I find it hard to sit still and watch. If it's tight, I clean the house and make Lindon narrate the game for me. Yep.

We might not be doing anything exciting this evening, but we're wearing black and gold while we do it...and now that it's 9:04, apparently every has gone to sleep but me. Wow. Good luck keeping up with my wild posse.