Just wheat

November 16, at 4:21 p.m., our little girl Margaret Jacqueline became a tangible, visible, audible part of our lives.

Those of who you regularly read my blog know that my pregnancy experience was less than perfect. I’ve never imagined pregnancy to be “the best time in my life,” as some of my friends and acquaintances describe it, but I hoped it would not be the worst.

In some ways, it was the worst.

In other ways, it wasn’t so bad. I watched my husband grow into even more of a man, a leader, and a compassionate lover than he was before–and he was already practically perfect in every way (step aside, Mary Poppins). I learned to adjust my personal timetable and tastes and to yield to the ticking time bomb growing inside me, concerning myself primarily with her best interests. I discovered goldmines of gratitude in little daily kindnesses from…

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Just wheat

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. This year, we’ll celebrate it a little differently since we’ll be caring for a brand new baby and won’t be able to participate in family festivities. I’m hoping and praying that our families will feel sorry for us and deliver some of their delicious dishes to our doorstep :).

Regardless, we will have plenty to be thankful for–namely, our brand new baby girl who will undoubtedly change our lives.

A simple gratitude prayer has resonated within me the past few days. It seems that my husband and I have been bombarded with blessings, surprises, bad news, and challenges all at once. With our baby set to arrive any day now, we’ve been feeling overwhelmed, broken-hearted, and hopeful, all at the same time.

“God, thank You for all You’ve given me

For all You’ve taken away

and for all You’ve left me with.”

This prayer captures…

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Sick and tired enough

There’s a saying amongst my friends in recovery that has held true for me in many different situations: until I’m sick and tired enough of being sick and tired, I won’t be ready to do things differently.

In my life, this truth has proven itself in dating relationships and marriages, in matters of physical health and fitness, in the realm of careers, and in friendships and family matters, too. And of course, it’s been most prevalently proven in my spiritual walk with God.

As I added my 43rd item to the list of physical reasons to avoid pregnancy in the future–a list I keep partly in jest and partly to remind myself of reality once time has passed, and I have become enamored enough with my baby to consider having another one–I realized that I had discovered one more thing to be grateful for.

My entire life I have been tokophobic–fearful of childbirth and pregnancy. In general, I do not find these things beautiful; I find them repulsive, scary, and somehow inhumane. Of course, some of the fear has subsided since I’ve experienced pregnancy myself. But many of my fears also became realities, and I discovered even more disgusting aspects of pregnancy than I ever imagined or heard about from my sisters, friends, and other women who’d walked the pregnancy plank before me.

Since God has a great sense of humor, and a clever way of working things out, I’m not surprised that He has piled enough on my pregnant plate to bring me to the point of being so sick and tired that I’m ready to do something about it–deliver this baby. This is quite a miracle since I’ve dreaded the idea of childbirth my entire life. After enduring 10 months of odd and obnoxious symptoms, I have become ready to forge ahead to delivering our baby. I don’t look forward to the process, but the outcome will certainly be rewarding. Not only will I gradually get relief from the 43 items on my list, but I’ll also gain a relationship with my daughter and countless other benefits I’ll create a list for later.

I’m grateful God never ceases to find creative ways to bring me to the point of being willing to trust Him–He knows that only then will I be ready to do things differently.

 

Counting on Counting Bob

*Thank you, Teresa Burns Murphy, for stepping in as today’s guest contributor. Check out Teresa’s website for information on her novel.*

Author Teresa Burns Murphy’s father

My dad has a reputation for being good with numbers.  This is one of the reasons he has been the official attendance taker at church and Sunday school for many years.  He also has a reputation for being good with children, and that’s how he got the word Counting affixed to his first name, Bob.  He frequently allows one of the children to help him sound the bell to signal that Sunday school is over and church is about to begin.  This is a coveted honor among the children of the church, and several years ago one of the children remarked to her mother that she wanted to help “Counting Bob” ring the bell.  Before he was “Counting Bob,” he was “Mr. Burns” to hundreds of students at Batesville High School.  In addition to helping students find their way through the often-murky waters of adolescence, he taught mathematics. Mathematics has been defined as “the study of quantity, structure, space, and change,” a discipline that “seeks out patterns to form new conjectures.”  Always the mathematician, my dad was and continues to be a problem solver.

I strongly suspect my sister, Liz, and I presented my dad with many of his greatest problems.  One problem in particular occurred when were we small and shared a bedroom as well as a bed.  As all parents know, sending their children to bed doesn’t equal their children’s going to sleep.  Liz and I could be counted among those youngsters who are sleep resistant.  In fact, we developed a nightly bedtime “pattern” of behavior that began with whispering and crescendoed into a full-blown giggle-fest.  For us, this was so much fun we wanted to stay awake and keep the party going.  Night after night, we fervently fought sleep, but exhaustion ultimately overpowered us.  Still not wanting to give in to sleep, we resorted to arguing and tussling, leaving our bedding in a tangle and our parents in a less-than-pleased frame of mind.

One evening when we had wreaked particularly violent havoc with our bedding, my dad decided to put the quietus on our late-night antics by giving us a spanking.  While my dad has never been a fan of corporal punishment, I suspect this was an action of last resort brought on by the exhaustion of an early bird who had to contend constantly with two rambunctious night owls. I’m not sure about Liz, but I believe this is the only spanking I ever got from my dad.  I’m pretty sure it didn’t halt our nightly roughhousing, but it set my dad to speculating about a more viable solution.

First, he looked at the “quantity” of the entities involved and came up with the conclusion that one bed and two girls were never going to add up to a restful night’s sleep.  Soon thereafter, we received a set of twin beds.  While that change in “structure” didn’t totally solve the problem – we still argued – it kept us in line until we were in junior high school and my parents built a new house that included enough “space” for us to have our own bedrooms. We still managed to have a tiff now and then; but, when we did, my parents could send us to our respective rooms.  This “change” in our sleeping quarters kept our house much more peaceful.

I’m grateful that my dad is good with both children and math and that he has for years put his expertise to practical use, solving problems in and out of the classroom.  Early on, he adopted the philosophy of another mathematician – Benjamin Peirce –  who defined mathematics as “the science that draws necessary conclusions.”

 

Just wheat

As a high school student, I set my alarm clock for 15 minutes prior to school starting–not 15 minutes prior to time to leave for school. I often slept in sweats or something similarly slouchy to save time getting dressed in the morning and took a bath before going to bed. I woke up (often to a shot of cold water in the face, lovingly administered by my mom, who tried every method imaginable to convert me to a morning person), roll out of bed into tennis shoes, and stumble into the bathroom to wash my face, brush my teeth, and pull my hair into a ponytail.

Done.

No breakfast, unless I grabbed something while walking out the door that could be eaten while driving to school. No makeup or concern over the way I looked–it was high school, and honestly, I didn’t care about folks at school enough to…

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