October 11, 2011

The Daily Paws

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , , at 12:26 am by Tamara

You can’t really see it in this picture, but Bear’s shirt has a picture of a dog delivering a newspaper called “The Daily Paws.”  I love it because I’m realizing that Bear is my “Daily Pause:” taking care of him, particularly when he needs to nurse, forces me to pause for a minute, which I think is more valuable than I realize.

The other day right after Adam left for work I got a call saying someone might want to look at the house.  So far Adam has (miraculously) been home every time we’ve had a house showing, and I’ve been dreading the first time I have to get the house perfect and get Bear  and the two dogs out of it all by myself.  When we put the house on the market I emptied out our storage ottoman in the living room so I could throw stuff in there in a pinch (can I just say how stressful it is to not even be able to shove things in closets, let alone close doors on messy rooms?  Thank heaven for that ottoman!)  I now measure the cleanness/messiness of our house in terms of how many ottomans the mess would fill up.  Haha!  Thankfully the house was only about one-half-ottoman messy, but I needed to do cleaning (bathrooms, floors, etc), so I was a little panicked.

About halfway through my cleaning Bear woke up from his nap and wanted to eat.  Panicked though I felt, I still told myself that he is the most important thing and sat down to feed him.  Pausing in the middle of panic seems counter-intuitive, but I think it’s probably a really good idea.  I’ve written before about how I love nursing Bear because it’s one of the few times I’m sure I’m doing the most important thing right at that moment.  Having an immanent house showing definitely tested that theory, but I stuck to it, and I was glad I did because I was more calm in the end, anyway.  Pausing to take care of him also gives me time to think and time to pray.  I think I’ve done more praying since he was born than probably any other time in my life.

I know that as Bear gets older and stops nursing it’s going to get harder and harder for me to take a “daily pause” with him.  He’ll be running around and we’ll probably have more kids and twenty activities I’ll want to do in order to give them “every opportunity” and make myself feel like a model wife/mother/Christian/missionary.  But it’s a lesson I don’t want to forget: I can, and need to, take time to pause and just invest in and enjoy Adam and our kid(s).

It’s also a lesson I need to learn on a spiritual level.  We all need time to pause and invest in our relationship with God; He instituted Sabbath for that very reason, but we Americans are very, VERY bad at pausing.  My Sundays (or any other day) aren’t always truly restful, refreshing, and renewing.  I think they (and the rest of my life) could be more so if I would make pausing and focusing on God more of a priority.  Reflection, meditation, quietness, and listening prayer are all spiritual disciplines that are under-emphasized and in my case seriously under-practiced.  I’d like to read something about them, if anyone has any book recommendations.  An excellent book about rest in general is called The Rest of God, by Mark Buchanan.  I think I need to reread it!  (Oh, and I just saw he’s coming out with a novel about David.  I am SO EXCITED!!)

But for now, I sure am treasuring my daily pauses with Bear.  I never would have thought the business of motherhood might teach me to pause, but I hope it does.  I may need to frame that onesie when he grows out of it….

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August 8, 2011

Friends!

Posted in Water Droplets tagged , at 5:15 pm by Tamara

I forgot to take pictures with Josh & Megan :( But here's one with Josh from our our wedding!

The past two weekends we’ve gotten two huge treats: visits from friends!  First Adam’s college roommate Josh and his wife Megan came to Myrtle Beach for a family reunion.   We drove over there and had a great time introducing them to Berean, catching up, playing Ticket to Ride, and enjoying the beach house their family rented.  The one thing I failed to do was take pictures.  Sigh!  I never got to know Josh and Megan very well because they lived in Madison when we were in Milwaukee, but on the drive home I told Adam how sad I was that we don’t live close by them, because I just love them!  It’s not that often that you can have a close friend from your single years and then both get married and have all four of you get along.  Every time we’re with Josh and Megan, though, we have so much fun!  It was such a treat to get to see them!

This weekend my college roommate Danielle and her husband David came to visit us.  What are the chances of both Adam and I getting to see our old roommates in one week??  Danielle and David are preparing to go overseas as missionaries, and they made a stop here during their crazy summer of traveling all over the U.S.  It was so, so fun to see them!

Berean is a very smiley boy for me and Adam, but he’s pretty thoughtful whenever he meets new people.  When I handed him to Danielle, though, he was immediately all smiles.  He knows a pretty lady when he sees one!  David, however, smiled at Rean from across the table and flashed a peace sign, and Berean immediately burst into tears.  Lol!  Poor David!  Berean had pretty much the same reaction to Megan and Josh, interestingly enough.  He smiled and cooed for Megan, but Josh came up and made a funny face at him and he started wailing.  Poor Baby!  What’cha gonna do?  I guess he just likes charming the womenfolk.

Danielle and I truly are kindred spirits.  We are ridiculously alike in the way we see the world—David and Adam were just shaking their heads at all the things that we think make perfect sense that they..don’t.  Haha!  The guys decided to go see a boy movie in the evening so that Danielle and I could reenact the oh-so-fun girls’ nights we would have during our single years (Berean was allowed to join the girl party, however, and he got very upset when I tried to put him in bed before it was over!)  We ate the same junk food we used to get, watched a girly movie, and talked about everything under the sun.  Danielle is one of those friends I can dissolve in uncontrollable laughter with one moment and then share the deepest things on my heart with the next.  What a blessing to have a friend like that!!  I wish they lived closer, but it was so, so good to see them!

So, Adam and I are starting this week sleep-deprived from staying up too late talking, but so refreshed.  It’s amazing what visits with wonderful friends can do to encourage you!  Now all the rest of you who I love and miss so much need to come see us!!

February 8, 2010

Hospitality…Hospiterribility….

Posted in Water Droplets tagged , , at 11:30 pm by Tamara

Over the past few years I’ve been pondering the grim possibility that hospitality may not be one of my gifts.  I’ve changed my mind, though, and concluded that what I have is a little known sub-set of the gift: the ability to blunder into absurd situations that will make others who DO have the gift of hospitality feel better about themselves.  Let me elaborate:

The first time I had dinner guests in my very first apartment, I excitedly decided to attempt a pasta primavera with cream sauce.  To shorten a long story, the sauce somehow congealed into a clear, thick, snot-like substance.  In my panic, the only thing I could think to do was dump the mess into a colander and try to wash off the snot-sauce.  The pasta I was making, ironically, was a spinach pasta, and as I was busy hyperventilating over the sauce, the pasta overcooked and turned into a sticky lump of green, stringy, booger-like things.  So, I served my guests booger pasta and snot sauce.  Thankfully they were wonderfully good-natured friends who laughed about it as much as I did.  Heh.

So, I couldn’t help wondering what would go wrong with our first house guests, who came this past weekend.  Everything was fine until about 15 minutes before they arrived.  The events are rather a blur, but they included the following mini-adventures:

While mixing a last-minute batch of brownies, I grabbed the box and realized that I was NOT making brownies, I was making cake.  Not only that, but it was a two-year old mix that had been hiding in the back of my cupboards.  In the first place, do mixes go bad?  And in the second place, I had no frosting.  Guests were about to arrive, so if I ran and got some I’d have to admit both my blunder and that I have no idea how to make chocolate frosting.  I couldn’t decide between that and throwing the whole thing away, so I ran to the guest bedroom to make sure it was ready.

I shrieked once I got there to behold the bed covered in—nails.  Adam had been hanging something and come to my rescue for something else, forgetting about the box of nails and screws strewn over the bed.  We were going to offer our guests a literal bed of nails?!

I ran into our bedroom to throw the pile of nerf guns (where they came from I have no idea) behind the bed, sweep everything on Adam’s dresser into his sock drawer, and shove more boxes into our closet.  In the bathroom I realized that I’d been carrying a screw driver around, and so I put it in the most logical place: my makeup bag.  About that time I looked into the mirror and realized I’d forgotten to put makeup on that day.

Ah, adventures.  I think hospitality may be like worship: we’re supposed to make a joyful NOISE, even if it ain’t pretty.  And a less than perfect house is probably better than sleeping on the street…unless of course you have to sleep on nails.  Heh.

Once our guests arrived, the husband told us he’d been having pain in his chest and arm lately, and joked that he could possibly die in our spare bed.  I decided, suddenly, that worse things than my previous misadventures could happen….

So if you’re ever in our neck of the woods, ya’ll come see us now, y’hear?  I’ll pray for you beforehand.  :P

January 3, 2010

New Year, New Adventure

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , at 6:51 pm by Tamara

Hard to believe, but we’ve packed all our possessions into an 8x8x9 ft space! (Plus a car full of cleaning supplies for once we get there. Heh.) Friends and family showed up for a FRIGID day of loading and cleaning. I believe the temp was 5 degrees when we started–at one point one of the guys tilted the apartment window open to clean the outside, sprayed the glass cleaner, and it FROZE instantly! They had to scrape it off. Lol. Thank you so very much to everyone who helped us!

Once everything was finally done I went up to turn our keys into the main office. I walked in and got all choked up–it’s the end of six wonderful years at NTBI. God has taught me more than I could have dreamed when I first arrived (and spent three weeks crying in the bathroom!) He used NTBI to answer my prayer for Him to please, please teach me how to walk with Him in victory (which will be a lesson that will continue my whole life!) He gave me my first experience in full time ministry, proving to me that He’d given me the gifts He had for a reason, and He’d use them even if I’m not a man. I loved my time discipling and teaching the girls at NTBI more than I can say, and I learned SO much from my incredible coworkers. I’m so thankful they gave me the opportunity to blunder my way through my time as Dean of Women! As I left the building the sun was setting, and since the school is on the highest point in Waukesha I could see all the church spires and the smoke rising from chimneys with the sunset in the background. It was a beautiful way for us to say goodbye.

Today we said goodbye to our much-loved church, Redeemer EFC. When I think back to my time at Redeemer I think about Psalm 23, where God leads us beside quiet waters and lets us rest in green pastures. I was very burnt-out when I came to Redeemer, and I was determined to be a back row attender and nothing more. God is so gentle with me, and He used Redeemer as a quiet pasture where He graciously healed, refreshed, and renewed me through an incredible body of His followers. The first person who welcomed me was one illustrious Rick Hamill, who–little did I know–would soon become my father-in-law! My plan to stay uninvolved did not work, and I’m so thankful for the opportunities God gave me in spite of myself. I got to help spearhead a new Modern Worship Service, lead worship regularly, intern with women’s ministries, be involved in missions, and be discipled. I have the utmost respect for the leadership at Redeemer, from the pastors to the elders to the other worship leaders, and have loved being shepherded by them and serving under them. I’ve been mentored by incredible women of the Lord and learned so much from them and the way they have loved me and poured themselves into me. All in all, while we’re hardly the perfect church, Redeemer has blessed Adam and I more than I can say, and we are going to miss it terribly!

Our moving truck will be picked up tomorrow, and then we’ll drive away on Tuesday. The truck should be dropped off Thursday or Friday, and we’re going to clean and paint the house until it arrives. We’re staying with Adam’s parents until Tuesday, and enjoying just relaxing with them. Leaving family is going to be very hard. The sense of loss is definitely hitting us, especially Adam, who’s lived here his whole life. It’s a lot to give up: family, friends, church, school, jobs, ministries, and more. But I vividly remember how lost I felt when I arrived in WI, how much I felt like I gave up, and how abundantly wonderful God has made my time here. I couldn’t have imagined all He had in store for me: marriage, family, friends, church, school, jobs, ministry…. And I’m sure this next step will prove Him faithful all over again. As sad as I am to leave, I am so excited for this new adventure and so grateful for all the ways God has confirmed that this is where He’s leading us. I’m so excited to have a house and make it a home! We’re thrilled to start at CIU–it looks like an incredible place. I’ll be only a few hours from my best friend (ever since middle school!) and can’t wait to be in the same state as her again. And, I’m pretty sure the windex won’t freeze on the windows!

I’m excited to chronicle all the things God has ahead of us. To everyone we love in WI, we will miss you so much, but we’ll be back. And everyone in SC, I can’t wait to meet you!

July 14, 2009

The Breakdown–Part 2

Posted in Watermarks in Progress tagged , , , , , at 5:17 pm by Tamara

I don’t know why I’ve had such a hard time writing this post.  Maybe (probably) because I don’t fully get it yet.  There’s no “Ba-da-bing!  God fixed it!” ending yet.  But since I don’t feel like I can blog about anything else until I finish this, and since I’m afraid I’ve made some of you wonder if I’m on the brink of losing it completely (ha), I’d better finish it!

So, that said, “Good morning, class; today I’m giving you a pop quiz!  <deep, evil laugh of evilness>”  Question One:  Find the common denominator:  “What if I’m doing something wrong?  What if I’m sinning?  What if I’m not listening to Him?  What if this is my fault?  What if I’m being lazy?  What if I can’t do it?”

I spend a LOT of time trying to dissect those questions, or similar ones.  It was my brilliantly astute husband who once pointed out (during my tirade of similar fears), “There are a lot of ‘I’s’ in those questions.”  That hit me like a ton of bricks—I’d never thought about that before.  His point was that I’d been worrying so much about myself and my actions that I’d lost my focus on Christ.

I tend to be terrified of my own weaknesses and sin nature.  That kind of sounds like a spiritual thing, but it isn’t; not when I get so fixated on my own weaknesses that I stop being fixated on the Lord.  If the definition of an idol is anything I put before God, then I’m actually idolizing my sin nature by acting as if it’s more powerful than God’s ability to convict me, guide me, even rescue me.  If He wants me to walk rightly even more than I do—and I know He does—why would I worry that He’d give me the cold shoulder when I ask Him if I’m doing anything wrong?

That also comes back to a misunderstanding of sin and fellowship.  I thought for a long time that my sin broke my fellowship with God—that He wouldn’t help or listen to me if I was in sin.  But that didn’t make sense to me, mainly because that would create an impossible cycle.  I can never get out of sin without His help, but if He won’t help me or fellowship with me until I’m not sinning, how can I stop?

Years ago one of my favorite teachers at the Bible school, Rick Barth, pointed out to me that what breaks our fellowship isn’t just sin, but our refusal to agree with God that we’re sinning (confess).  He convicts me and shines His light on my sin, and I either agree with Him and stay in the light, or I refuse to listen to Him and then, when the light becomes too uncomfortable, I, MYSELF step out of His light and fellowship.  It’s not that God will only tolerate me so far before He’ll shun me in order to punish me.  He’s always there to gently show me my sin and urge me to walk in the new life He’s given me—it’s ME who either listend or turns away.

This also touches on how deeply I feel like God’s acceptance of me and willingness to work with me is based on my performance.  I know in my head that it isn’t, that He views me in His son and has told me to boldly come to His throne of grace for help.  But I still want desperately to be “doing good,” and I’m afraid sometimes my view of Him is warped enough to think He’ll abandon me if I don’t keep doing well.  I forget He loved me while I was still an unsaved sinner, and worry that now that I’m a saved child who sins, He just might decide to stop loving me—at least until I get my act together.  Which also shows a warped view of myself.  As if Jesus’ death and life wasn’t QUITE enough, and I can somehow work hard enough to make Him love me more.

So what’s the bottom line on all this?  I need to stop pacing outside His throne room, examining every little thing I’ve done, terrified that I might have done something wrong and He’s behind those doors fuming, just waiting for me to come in so He can punish me.  Or ignore me.  Or any of the many things He could do, other what He’s promised TO do: give me grace, mercy, and help in my need.  I need to stop freaking out and get my eyes back on Him.  If I’m doing something wrong, He’ll show me, and He’ll help me.  And if I’m not, it’s okay to just wait and keep moving forward.  More scared analyzing of MYSELF and MY fears and MY failures isn’t going to get me nearly so far as just sitting at His feet and asking Him for HIS assessment and guidance.  And if He chooses not to say anything about me right now, then that’s fine—I can still look at HIM.  That’s plenty to fill my mind and heart.