For Your Enjoyment

I told you.  This kid just makes you laugh. OK…I just got the tail end of his laughing run, and he actually got serious about eating breakfast.  I would just smile at him and he’d burst into laughter.  So, maybe only my mom will enjoy this, so for you Grammy…enjoy and we can’t wait for you guys to get here!

Monday Musings

Today I think I’ll just write something stream-of-consciousness-MckMama-style.  So brace yourself for randomness.  Today I’m not sure who’s more worried about who.  Knut is getting distracted from work and has been debating taking time off to wait on me and take care of the kids to insure I’m off my feet.  Whether this is until December or my due date, I’m unsure.  At any rate, I talked him into at least going to work this morning and helping me out more in the afternoon, since the kids are normally better behaved in the morning.  He’s already been in the house to check on me once, though, and it’s not even 10am yet.

Yesterday Knut nearly ran himself ragged with leading Sunday School, our evening small group, running me to the grocery store so I wouldn’t have to take the kids this week, doing dishes, getting the kids to bed, etc.  He was able to sneak a little nap in, though, which was good. I did really good at sitting down yesterday, with the exception of walking around the grocery store with Knut since he gets pretty lost in there.  It was only 15 minutes of walking, but I paid for it with about 2 hours of regular contractions afterward.  Seriously, I’ve been feeling so blessed by Knut.  Somehow, knowing that he’s worried about me makes me worry less.  I feel so taken care of, and I think guys like him must be few and far between.

This morning I’m sitting at the computer, and keeping Silje going on her schoolwork, and using PBS kids as a babysitter for the boys.  I’ve been doing very very well at sitting down, but contractions have started coming on every 2-10 minutes, without any regularity at all.  I can still talk through them, so I’m not too concerned yet.  Again, this could go on for days, so I’m in no rush to head out the door.  Yesterday, that was the rate I was getting contractions when walking, so either I’m on my feet more than I realize, or they’re just coming closer together.  Seriously I feel like a walking time bomb.  Don’t laugh, but we’ve been bringing my hospital bag with us in the van whenever we leave the house.  I told Knut it was like on the farm…if you rush to get a field done before a storm, the storm passes by.  If you didn’t rush, it would have rained.  So having the hospital bag in the van is our superstitious way of making sure that this baby stays a few more days.

This morning Elias has been laughing every time I look at him.  He is seriously the funniest kid I’ve ever met.  I took a video of him laughing over breakfast, and it’s hysterical, but I can’t find where the camera cord is so I can put it on the blog.  If I get up and look for it, Knut may come home and catch me and then I’ll  be in trouble.  So you’ll just have to trust me…it’s hysterical.

Silje’s just doing spelling, handwriting, and math worksheets, none of which require my help so I’m just sitting here at the computer and am getting bored of the internet.  Last night when I was supposed to be sitting, I got caught up on all of my friends’ blogs, which was fun.  I’ve also been working on finishing this little baby’s Christmas stocking which I’m knitting.  I’m just using Red Heart yarn from Walmart which is leftover from some blanket I did in the past.  I figure Christmas stockings don’t get a lot of use, so the cheap yarn is perfect for projects like that (and blankets which use a lot of yarn!) however I’m realizing it’s not as forgiving of tension issues as wool is.  Not only that, but my wrists feel sore so much faster and I can’t knit for as long.  Arcrylic yarn must not have as much “give” to it as wool does, and I’ve grown too accustomed to wool.

*pause to play trains with Elias all over my belly for a few minutes…ok, he’s off and onto something new now.*

Elias has started calling me “Mum” instead of “Maaahhheee” which is so cute.  This morning I also finished up spreadsheets for the next 2 weeks of lesson plans for Silje.  We’re planning on giving her a school break through Christmas once the baby comes, but if she feels like doing work (which is very likely) the lessons from the various teacher guides are compiled easily, and all of the worksheets I normally print off the computer are all printed for the next 2 weeks and compiled so that Knut or anyone else watching her can just grab some schoolwork without having to dig for it. 

Silje’s complaining of a stomach ache this morning, but it only seems to bother her when she sees her brothers watching t.v. all morning this morning.  Otherwise she’s prancing around.  The mean mom that I am, I told her she could have a bucket next to her while she’s doing her schoolwork in the dining room.  She seemed satisfied with that. I think she’d like a t.v. day too, and I let them watch t.v. a lot when they’re sick because it is sometimes the only thing that keeps them still.

I think after my next bathroom break I’ll go sit and knit while I watch her do her work.  However, when I leave the basement, the boys often follow me, and when they’re upstairs they often get into trouble, and sitting becomes impossible.  Silje can’t do her work down here because the t.v. is on, so I guess she’ll have to survive the quiet room upstairs. 

My side of the family used to have sparkling grape juice at Thanksgiving, and I bought some for this year, but ended up forgetting to have it on Thanksgiving.  It’s so fun to drink it from fun wine glasses with a yummy dessert.  I think we’ll open it up and celebrate making it to December this Wednesday.  I’m trying not to think about whether or not Knut will still make me stay off my feet past then, because in all reality, maybe she’ll be here before I have to argue with him over that.  We’ll just cross that bridge when we get there!  I’m determined not to worry about it because the reality is I may not have to.

I think it’s funny how differently we’re approaching the end of pregnancy having some experience behind us.  As a first time mom, you just want to be induced as soon as humanly possible with an epidural at the first contraction.  Now that this is our fourth, and having a late term preemie and an early miscarriage in our past, we know that every single day in the womb is a gift, and sometimes in these cases patience is a virtue, and letting the body do it’s thing is often the safest.

That’s what I was praying about last night before bed.  I often soak my sore hips in the tub before bed, which often insures me a much better night’s rest.  It’s then when I pray and bring out my Bible when the whole house is quiet.  I was unburdening myself on the Lord, and he reminded me that every day of this pregnancy is a gift.  There are so many gifts from God that we don’t see as gifts, but see as work.  It’s a truth that has become more apparent to me over the last few months/years.  We don’t see something as a gift, but God says it is.  It’s only when we believe him, that we see it too.  It would be so much easier to see it and then believe it, but God doesn’t work that way.

I took Lena to a groomers last week for the very first time to get her nails trimmed and a good scrub down before the baby comes and I’m in no condition to do it, and Knut is too chicken to do it because it’s easy to cut the nails too short and have a bunch of bleeding.  She came back so fluffy that Knut said she reminded him of a beef steer at the county fair.  Seriously, only a farm boy would come up with a comparison like that. 

I’m probably the first farm wife in the family to take a dog to the groomers, but we’re also the first to have an inside dog, so I suppose they go hand in hand.  Knut’s been complaining about how much of a pest she is lately, since he has to be the one to feed her and take her out to go potty since he says I need to sit.  However, I caught him sneaking her a biscuit the other day when it wasn’t time to feed her, and petting her sweetly, so I think it’s all an act.  He’s got a soft spot for her, whether or not he’ll admit it.

Hmmm…the kids tell me it’s snack time.  Pumpkin bread anyone?

Sigh

Well, let’s just say it’s been an eventful week.  I haven’t been blogging much because we haven’t been home much.  The night, or I should say early morning of Thanksgiving, contractions started waking me up every few minutes at night.  By 4am Thanksgiving morning, I decided to get up and see if I could get them to stop by soaking in the tub.  It was at that I was able to time them to be about 10 minutes apart.

Thinking I could easily go days like this, I didn’t think much of it, but around 5am, it started picking up and getting closer together.  It was at that point that I gave Knut the heads up that we’d probably be headed to the hospital that day instead of his parents house for turkey.  However, when the kids got up, my contractions stopped.  Well, almost stopped.  They slowed down to every half hour or so, which is pretty normal at this point in the pregnancy.

So we didn’t miss Thanksgiving, but I tried to take it easy.  By evening, the contractions quickened to every 10 minutes again, but at least they were mild enough that I could sleep through them, and slept very good that night.  Yesterday morning Knut let me sleep in until 9am since he knew I was still so tired from the night before.  I headed downstairs to get some cereal, and half way through my bowl, intense pain took over, and I thought I had instantly been thrown into the transition point of labor (just before pushing).

The pain was stabbing, and strange.  I got scared because I was worried something was terribly wrong, which didn’t really help matters.  I had a regular appointment with my OB scheduled that morning, and after calling the hospital first, they told us to go to our appointment, so we could see the OB before headed into labor and delivery.

My doctor barely had to look at me before sending me over to the hospital, where I was immediately prepped for labor.  The contractions were intense and 1-2 minutes apart for and the nurses started prepping the room for the new baby who we all assumed was rushing her way out.

Then things changed after about 2 hours of this.  I got so tired and wanted to lay down for just a moment.  When I did, the contractions slowed, and I was able to shut my eyes for about 30 minutes, and then the contractions stopped all together.  Well, that baffled us all, so I decided to start walking the hallways to get things going again.  I got them back to about every 5 minutes, but not nearly the intensity that it was before.

So by evening, with absolutely no change, they sent me home.  I usually deliver so fast that we try to get into the hospital when contractions are every 5 minutes, so being sent home when contractions were that far apart made us feel a bit confused as to when we were supposed to come back, but I think I’ll just have to follow my gut on that one.

Realistically, these contractions could go on for quite some time.  I know our goal was to make it to December, and Knut is taking this opportunity of coming back home to see to it that that happens.  He (Knut, not my OB) has debated about confining me to bed until December, but has allowed me to get up and sit around the house.  I am full term now, so the baby can come without very much worry, but realistically, the closer to the due date the better.  That’s still 3 weeks away.  If walking at the hospital brought on contractions, than walking at home is exactly what Knut doesn’t want me to do.

I’m not disappointed that she’s not here yet, because obviously the timing isn’t right quite yet.  However, I’m discouraged that I went through all of that intense labor and have no baby to show for it.  You tell yourself things to help you get through it.  You tell yourself that soon you’ll be holding the baby.  You imagine what she will look like and if she’ll have lots of hair or be bald as ball.  I feel like I made myself all sorts of promises yesterday, and then I felt lied to…by myself.  Does that make sense?  O, the complicated emotions of a pregnant lady!

So now “laying low” which is what I’ve been trying to do the last few weeks, Knut has taken to a whole new level (which is quite unusual for him, as he normally is the one to push me).  No one instructed him to do this, but he has it in his mind that if I can stay off my feet we’ll make it to December, and that has been our collective goal.  Fortunately for me, that’s just a few days away, and then he’ll let me resume normal activities.  Right now, as soon as I get up and start doing things, contractions start coming every 5 minutes again.  I sit down and they go away.  So I guess I’ll be sitting.

Yesterday we were planning on decorating for Christmas, so I was hoping that we could do that today.  I just LOVE decorating for Christmas and think it’s just what I need to raise my spirits.  Knut thinks that will be too much for me, and after thinking about it, said maybe he’ll let me do one box and see how it goes from there.  At least the Christmas music is blasting.  That helps a little.

I guess I’ll get a lot of knitting done in the next few days!  Now there’s a bright side!

The Point

I got to thinking after we had some friends over the other night.  They’re the type of friends who remind me of Thanksgivings in my childhood: full of theological debate and discussions.  Conversations always run deep, and Bibles get whipped out as we reference and cross reference.  I love it. 

Anyway, the topic of evangelism was breezed upon, and it reminded me of something God has been teaching me over the past year.  Or years, really if I think about it.

I don’t know if many of you know this, but growing up, I had always wanted to be a missionary.  I think I made it official when I was 6.  As I got older, I started going on short term mission trips.  I started learning about mission organizations, and applied to colleges with great mission programs.

You see, I didn’t want to just be a missionary.  I wanted to be one of those kinds of missionaries who lived in a hut and witnessed to people who had never seen a white person.  I thought the area I’d probably go into was Bible translation.

That’s where I think the Bible college I chose really changed my life.  You’d think that of all places that a wanna-be missionary could get all fired up and prepared to go on the mission field would be Bible school, and you’re right.  Moody Bible Institute is about the best they come, which is why I wanted to go there.  I thought all of those Thanksgiving dinners and one on one confirmation lessons, and being the granddaughter of missionaries and daughter of a Sunday school teacher would have prepared me for studying the Bible, but I had never felt so ignorant as I did my first week there.  It’s like the Harvard of Bible schools.  I remember when my roommate found out that I was Lutheran, she looked at me in shock and said “You baptize babies, don’t you!”  My first meal in the cafeteria, the boy next to me at the table turned to me and said “How about you?  Do you go along more with the Northern Galatian theory or the Southern?”  It must not have been that important, because I don’t even remember the relevance of that question, besides to scare poor freshman.

Anyway, I learned a lot about missions while I was there.  Actually, I learned a lot about God there.  I made a commitment to spend more time with God in either prayer or His Word than doing homework for the first year, which was a tricky commitment to make.  If I spent 3 hours doing homework one night, that meant that I had to spend more than 3 hours having devotions.  Surprisingly, my grades that year were my all time best.  It was about the most intense year of my life thus far.

I wrestled with God that year.  There was something He was trying to show me that I just couldn’t wrap my brain around.  You see, I was going to be a missionary.  And not some European-city dwelling missionary, but a getting dirty and going places no one else wants to go kind of missionary.  I knew the facts.  I knew that there was a shortage of missionaries in the 10/40 window.  I knew how God was calling people to the harvest.  There were people dying every second without hearing about Jesus and I was going to go out there and fix that.  I was going to single-handedly fix missions, save people, be a hero.

What I learned that year was that God didn’t need a hero.  God didn’t need a savior.  I did.

I found out that year through all of my classes, and studies, and prayer is that God cares more about MY relationship with him, than what I can do FOR Him.  It felt so selfish to put my relationship with Him first.  To deal with my issues first.  I was honestly shocked that God did not need me on the mission field.  The fact that God did not need me to do anything, and I needed Him to do everything gave me a terrible identity crisis.

Over time, I realized that my job was to follow Christ.  If that meant to Jerusalem (my city), Judea (my region), or the ends of the earth, that was totally up to Him.  If I got to participate in any ministry, it was truly a blessing that God bestows upon me, and not something that I do for Him…cause He needs the help and all.

There’s a book “10 Spiritual Disciplines of the Christian Life” which somehow got into my hands that year, and was one of the many books I mulled over.  It talks in one of the chapters of the spiritual discipline of evangelism.  It was partially through this that I was first exposed to the idea that God gave us evangelism as a part of our Christian walk, and not so that we can put notches in our belt.

Let me explain.  When we go into a conversation with someone with the intent to convert them, and we walk away with them still not believing in Christ, we feel like a failure.  However, this is not true.  Sharing Christ is a command.  Disciplining and baptizing as well.  Following that command is part of our spiritual walk.  But why?  I mean, shouldn’t you be gifted in this area in order to be effective?  And if you’re not gifted, should you let someone who is kinda, do their thing?

Ironically, this is the one spiritual discipline that people feel they need to be specially gifted to do.  True, there is such a thing as the gift of evangelism, but evangelism isn’t a commandment for those few.  Just like you read your Bible, pray, mediate, memorize, you should be evangelizing as a way to know God better.  It’s not just a gift, it’s also a spiritual discipline.

It’s been in this last year that the truth of what I read a few years ago has really sunk in deeper.  Some lessons that God teaches me comes in layers.  Waves.  There’s a deeper realization on some things every once in awhile.

I think I was starting to become complacent.  For awhile, it felt like God started stripping away any ministry I tried to get involved with.  I tried volunteering at a crisis pregnancy center, until babysitters became harder and harder to come by.  I figured I’d always have the other families at the public school that Silje went to that we could get to know and disciple.  The fact that I’m now a homeschooling stay at home mom on a farm without even another house in view is in fact, incredibly humorous to me at times.  God continually sets my children in front of me and says: “This is your mission field.  These children are your disciples.”

I mean, sure they run around naked sometimes and speak in words I can’t understand, but it’s not quite what I had envisioned as my mission field.

I’m not disappointed in the least.  In fact, I feel incredibly blessed beyond description.  I don’t know why God has bestowed on me this wonderful, amazing life.  I’m not disappointed, but I am sometimes baffled by the blessing of it.

In the last year or so, I’ve actually had some very unusual opportunities online on various sites/communities to witness to people.  It was not something I set out to do, or went in at all thinking that’s what would happen.  I don’t go looking for it, is what I’m trying to say.  People have asked me questions, and I try to answer the best I can.  Well, this very quickly spirals into debates and I tend to shy away from a debate with a non-Christian, because I figure what’s the point?  Their heart is definitely not in a search mode, or prepared to hear the Word, and they have their mind set, and there’s nothing I can say to change their mind.

So what’s the point, of sharing Christ with a world that doesn’t understand absolutes, or the thought that not only is there only one God, but that one God HAS in fact made Himself known.  The first thing that always seems to be attacked is the authority of Scripture.  How can we know it’s really God’s Word, and why is it okay for Christians to pick and choose what to follow in Scripture (Levitical laws are most often pointed out here) and it’s not okay for non-Christians to pick and choose which parts to believe are the most common arguments to overcome.

Now, with all of these discussions that I’ve gotten myself into, have I brought anyone to the Lord?  Not that I know of, and I’d probably guess no.  Proclaiming God’s truth in this venue has brought me pretty much nothing in terms of flooding the church with converts.  However, it has been exactly what my faith has needed this last year.  The act of looking up verses, defending my beliefs, arguing a point, has solidified in my mind my own doubts.  It’s like I understand these truths that I had to defend on a totally different level because I engaged in this activity of evangelism.  I’ve heard from other Christians, that they have been encouraged through it as well.

So here’s my point.  Let’s just say “what if?”  What if God commanded us to evangelize for the purpose of grounding our own faith, and encouraging other believers, and converting people was just a sprinkled bonus?  What if he commanded us to evangelize because he knew that’s what WE needed, and not because it’s what others needed.

Well first off, the results you would be looking for would be different.  Our goals would be different.  Maybe we get so discouraged because we’re trying to be a savior, and fall short because we are not the savior.  We’re the messengers.  We have a message to give, and we like to twist it, spin it, and make it really pretty so that people will like it.  Or maybe so that they’ll like us.  I don’t know…it gets blurry.

I think this especially important for Christians who have been Christians their whole lives and don’t know much else different.  When all you have believed in was God and the Bible, it’s easy to take certain truths for granted without thinking totally through them.  Evangelism means you need to dig your claws into these truths in order to defend them, and know why you believe what you believe.  It’s incredibly edifying, and I’ll admit, terrifying at times.

Maybe God has us experience rejection so that we may understand the rejection He faced better, and share in that suffering with him as a mode of Spiritual growth.  I’m not making excuses here, I’m asking some real questions.  Why did God tell us to evangelize?  Does He need us to, or do we get to?  If we don’t do it, will He really let all those people burn in hell as He stands by helpless because we won’t do it. We’ve all heard stories of people coming to Christ through dreams and visions, even in our modern world.  God is fully capable of drawing people to Himself.  The fact that God wants us to be involved in this process is an amazing blessing that should not be passed up on! 

Although it’s not a replacement for personal evangelism, supporting missionaries through prayer and finances is a great way to encourage other believers, and be able to stand witness to God in action.  Maybe that’s another reason God wants us to evangelize: so that we can witness over and over again His saving grace, and worship Him for that.  Evangelism should draw us to worship because the mere concept of what He is doing is amazing.

There’s more I’d love to go into on the topic of evangelism, but as libraries of books have been written on it, I’ll stop here, and just encourage those Christian readers out there to pray over this, and begin asking God if He would give you an opportunity to share in this blessing as well.