Write it Down.

100_2374In 2013, I started keeping a praise jar. It’s rather straightforward; every time there was something to praise God about, I tried to remember to write it down and put it in the jar. In January of 2014, it was so amazing to lay out all of God’s blessings (that I had noticed) month by month for the previous year. I spread them out on my kitchen table and just looked, in awe.

I never knew.

Never before had I kept such a meticulous record of every way God had blessed me and my family. And to be honest, I wasn’t all that meticulous about it. If I’d really written everything down, I’m sure my whole house couldn’t have contained all the sticky-notes.

Last year, I continued the tradition, but this time I included every answer to prayer — not only for us, but also answers to our prayers for friends, for relatives, for acquaintances, or for whomever else God had put on our hearts to pray. So this month as I looked back on 2014’s blessings, I also saw 52 specific answers to prayer.

Babies were a theme. We saw miracles for Ridgeley, Hunter, Caleb, Samuel, Deacon, Ethan, Emma, Abby, another Samuel, Josiah, Noah, and Graham. I tear up as I write these names, because some were “everyday” miracles of birth, but very many of them were miracle healings — babies who weren’t supposed to live; babies who were supposed to have extreme abnormalities; babies whose mommies had very high risk pregnancies; babies whose mommies’ doctors told them not to waste their time continuing gestation. All of these tiny people are alive today, healthy, loved, and a continual testimony of God’s mighty hand. We prayed fervently for these babies, and look! Look what God has done! Great is His name!

Oh, but I can’t forget baby Robert. We prayed fervently for him, too. We prayed; we begged; we wept; and God answered. God brought him Home as his mommy held him tight, whispering love.  I still cry over this beautiful baby; I cry for the loss his family feels. I remember May 12, knowing that when it comes again in a few months, and again next year, and again forever, his momma will feel a deep hurt resurface. But despite this pain, baby Robert is in my family’s praise journal because he is dancing with the King! Healthy, loved, alive, and not regretting a moment of his little life on earth. Look what God has done! Great is His name!

Friends were healed from cancer. Others were hopeless, then given hope. Missing, and then found. Hurting, and then comforted. Jobless, then employed. Addicted, and then freed. And so much more. Look what God has done! Great is His name!

I would have never remembered. Who remembers all of this? We may rejoice in the moment, at the news, but inevitably there’s dinner to cook and laundry to fold and butts to wipe. Life goes on, and we get right back to complaining about the dinner and the laundry and the butts.

We forget to notice the blessings. We forget to see the answers to prayer. We forget to recognize the miracles. We forget to praise God.

No wonder He seems so far away — we refuse to see Him. 

I was somewhat negligent in my attempt in 2014 to keep up with praises and answers to prayer. I forgot a lot. But even in the little bit I remembered, I recorded 52 specific answers to prayer and several more sweet blessings.

That’s because I wrote them down. This year, just like last year and the year before, I will see God.

Will you?

I will extol You, my God, O King,
And I will bless Your name forever and ever.
Every day I will bless You,
And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised,
And His greatness is unsearchable.
One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts,
And I will tell of Your greatness.
They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness
And will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.

The Lord is gracious and merciful;
Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness.
The Lord is good to all,
And His mercies are over all His works.
All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord,
And Your godly ones shall bless You.
They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom
And talk of Your power;
To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts
And the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
And Your dominion endures throughout all generations.

The Lord sustains all who fall
And raises up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You,
And You give them their food in due time.
You open Your hand
And satisfy the desire of every living thing.

The Lord is righteous in all His ways
And kind in all His deeds.
The Lord is near to all who call upon Him,
To all who call upon Him in truth.
He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him;
He will also hear their cry and will save them.
The Lord keeps all who love Him,
But all the wicked He will destroy.
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.

–Psalm 145

 

 

 

 

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A Psalm for an Unfathomable God

{inspired by Psalm 136}
{and numerous other passages}

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the God of gods;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who created the heaven and earth;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who bore patiently the sin of Adam;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
To Him who covered his shame;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
And whispered of a Messiah even in the curse;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who established and is keeping covenants;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who is in heaven and reveals mysteries;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who raised up His Son at the proper time;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
And made Him a ransom for many;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who established the Church;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
And taught her how to love;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who bears patiently our weaknesses;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
And still faithfully guides, teaches, forgives;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
To Him who works all things for good;
For His lovingkindness is everlasting;
And will not endure injustice forever:
For His lovingkindness is everlasting.
He will return! Hallelujah! He is coming!
For His lovingkindness is everlasting!
Give thanks to the God of Heaven,
For His lovingkindness is everlasting!

Amen.

 

Crying Over Spoiled Milk

Some of you who are my Facebook friends may remember a couple of weeks ago when I posted this status:

All my frozen milk for Bennett is spoiled. Months and months of it. I’m SO UPSET! 😦

And I was. Due to a forgotten-about power outage days or weeks before in the middle of the night, the milk had apparently thawed and re-frozen, spoiling somewhere in that process. It was so heart-breaking, and I cried for about ten minutes and moped for about two hours! So many friends posted sweet and supportive comments because they knew what a loss it was to me and to Bennett. I had worked hard for that milk,  and re-establishing that freezer stash was such a daunting task since I just don’t have a lot of “extra” milk supply anymore. I was bummed!

After doing some research about a natural supplement that’s supposed to help with milk supply (fenugreek), I headed out with Bubs to the Vitamin Shoppe to get it. On the way there, “At Your Name” (below) was playing in my car. I was immediately flooded with conviction about my pity-party. All of creation is subject our great God — He can handle something so very small as my milk supply, so I needed to quit worrying about it! Besides, regardless of the emotional attachment I have to nursing and my strong feelings about how much better it is for my baby, I was also forgetting how extremely blessed I am to live in America. There are women in the world who, if their supply was in serious trouble (which mine wasn’t at all!), would be legitimately worried for their baby’s survival. Obviously, that’s not the case with us. So, I got the supplement, God provided, and we’re well on our way to re-establishing that freezer supply. Such a weird way to be reminded of God’s sovereignty, right? (Hey Angela, just so you know, at My Name, the mountains shake and crumble, the oceans roar and tumble, and angels bow down. I can most definitely handle your little milk ducts.)

God was so good! Really. What a silly situation for God to be so kind to me (you know, compared to all the other issues on earth). It was just really crazy. Miraculous? I don’t know, but it sure felt like it! What a sweet way to experience God’s lovingkindness. He didn’t have to do that. Not that He ever has to do anything He does for us, but He just REALLY didn’t have to do that. Sure, you could try to attribute my experience to the vitamin supplement alone, but it’s important to note that I saw a difference before I even started taking it–so there. 😛

I just wanted to update you since my woe-is-me status update. God deserves all the praise!

Be a Blessing.

Intentional Praise

I’ve been planning to write a post about my praise jar for about a week, but I just haven’t. I’ve been super-overwhelmed with a lot of things, (mostly Bennett and his notsleeping), and so I’ve put it off. Today, however, is so full of praises that I figured it was the very best day to write this post!

My neighbor, Rebecca, posted a very Pinterest-y idea the other day on Facebook:

I thought it was brilliant! I decided to make my own, with the specific intention of its being for praises. So here’s mine:

100_2374

No, I don’t dot my “i”s. In print. I do dot them in cursive. And yes, my jar is small. That’s what I had on hand. I’m hoping to upgrade when it gets full! Anyway, I wanted to make sure that my jar was prominently displayed in order to remind me of it, and I wanted to make sure that it was clear that this is all about making note of everyday praises. At the end of the year, I can look back and praise God very specifically for all the ways He blessed me during 2013! Awesome! I’m so excited, and I’m extra excited today, which is why I’m posting this particular post at this particular time.

I put several praise post-its in my jar today.

  1. I am exactly at my pre-pregnancy weight! Five months and three days after having my stomach sliced open and being handed a baby, and then curiously still being left with a giant belly and lots of pounds to lose! This is a great day. I celebrated by eating, and I’m going to celebrate again tonight by eating. 🙂
  2. Bennett’s notsleeping, as mentioned above, has been a huge issue. Huge. I’ve done everything I felt like I could do based on his age and my related discomfort with cry-it-out sleep training at his age. Anyway, my friend Alison gave me the courage to try something that she told me to wait until bedtime to try, so that I’d have my husband for reinforcement, but I tried it anyway at both naps today. BENNETT HAS TAKEN TWO NAPS TODAY WITH MINIMAL PROTEST! AND HE’S BEEN ASLEEP FOR AN UNINTERRUPTED ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES ON THIS SECOND NAP, AS I TYPE VERY EXCITEDLY IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS MUCH TO YOUR ANNOYANCE!
  3. I have an amazing husband who is a great encouragement and help to me every day.
  4. I have an amazing friend, Andrea. (I have lots of other amazing people in my life, too, but she was most recently amazing.)
  5. I have an amazing God, who has been preparing me extremely specifically through Scripture (the book of Titus) for a spiritual battle. He is sustaining me, comforting me, and encouraging me spiritually as this is happening during a season of both physical and emotional exhaustion (see #2 above).

Amen, and amen.

(You should make a praise jar, too. It’s too easy to forget or ignore the good things when there’s so much crumminess around that’s too easy to dwell upon.)