Monday, May 13, 2013
I don't know if it's my first-born, practical child syndrome....or laziness....or a desire to not make a mess or create extra chaos.....but I have to admit, I'm not great at extravagant fun. You know, those big, complicated, fun occasions that require extra time, work, and organizing.
I see it in my uncomfortability with the craziness of Children's Ministry and my generally tidy house. I rarely send birthday cards. Or if I do, they're usually late. And if I'm honest, one of the most important things I want my children to learn, after loving God, is to clear the table, load the dishwasher, and clean the kitchen after a big family meal.
Which is why I think Romans 12:15 is so interesting. Paul is describing what love looks like, and instructs us to "rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn."
Rejoicing with someone who is rejoicing means entering into their joy. It's not a momentary congratulations, but it's a party....it's busting out the tablecloths and chocolate fountain (even though it's a bear to clean)...it's putting everything else on hold, even if only for a few minutes to acknowledge God's goodness. And honestly, sometimes I need to see God's goodness in someone else's life in order to help recognize it in my own.
In the same way, mourning takes time.
I was studying this passage with some friends right after the Boston Marathon bombing, and we talked about how easy it is to say, "oh, how awful", and then go on with our day. But mourning with those who mourn means pausing to enter in to the pain and sadness of someone else. It means asking ourselves, "I wonder what it would feel like if I had been the one to lose my son?" or "I wonder what kinds of guilt or regret or anger they must be experiencing?". It means walking with people for longer than a day or a week; it means reminding them they're not alone, being "joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer".
I want to be a person who feels deeper and celebrates bigger. Because that's what love does.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
I can feel completely rational and clear-headed, and then start talking and almost immediately feel them welling up in my eyes...my lips start to quiver as I talk and I'm distracted from my own words long enough to whisper to myself, "just hold it together".
I hate feeling out of control.
But for some reason, this is how God made me. And I have known seasons so dark, so difficult, that tears would not come.
And so I smile through my tears and thank the Lord I'm not in control.
Thursday, January 03, 2013
adj. gen·tler, gen·tlest
1. Considerate or kindly in disposition; amiable and tender.
2. Not harsh or severe; mild and soft: a gentle scolding; a gentle tapping at the window.
3. Easily managed or handled; docile: a gentle horse.
4. Not steep or sudden; gradual: a gentle incline.
Friday, August 24, 2012
I haven't been pregnant for over 11 years, don't subscribe to baby magazines, and haven't purchased anything at a maternity store recently, so I'm not sure whose list I'm on. One thing is sure, though. They sent the formula to the wrong person.
I am offended by formula companies and they way the undermine the confidence of women, and profit on our failure to successfully breastfeed.
As a woman, I'm not sure I can think of a time I was MORE insecure than when we first brought Sarah home from the hospital. Wanting to be a great mom, not wanting to drop her or starve her or cut the ends of her fingers off when her nails had to be trimmed....there were SO many things to be paranoid about. What I needed, more than anything, was someone to come alongside me and be a cheerleader...to tell me I could do it, that my body was made both to give birth and to feed my child, that even though there was a learning curve to this mothering thing, it was exactly what my body was made for.
What the formula companies do instead, is to send a steady stream of messages that tell us, "it might be too hard", "you probably can't do it", "it might not work", "you better have back-up". And it works. Data show that the distribution of free formula to mothers of newborns is consistently tied to lower exclusive breastfeeding rates, and earlier weaning. Lower breastfeeding rates are tied to greater health risks - respiratory infections, asthma, allergies, diabetes, and lower IQs.
I want to stand up for women and the thing that makes us unique. To defend our right to be successful at breastfeeding (even the formula labels state that breast milk is recommended) without subversive messages from formula companies or the implied endorsement of a hospital that gives a "gift" of a formula-filled diaper bag.
If making milk is my super-power as a woman, free infant formula samples is the Kryptonite.
*August is National Breastfeeding Month
**Though I support breastfeeding, I do not support the "guilting" of mothers who choose not to breastfeed. For many of them, the decision is beyond their control. I am partially inspired, however, by my own breastfeeding regrets and by the many mothers who tell me they wish they would have known more about breastfeeding or had help before they gave up.
Sunday, August 12, 2012
- Eagerly start the day's main work
- Do not murmur at your busyness or the shortness of time, but by up the time all around
- Never murmur when correspondence is brought in
- Never exaggerate duties by seeming to suffer under the load, but treat all responsibilities as liberty and gladness
- Never call attention to crowded work or trivial experieinces
- Before confrontation or censure, obtain from God a real love for the one at fault. Know the facts; be generous is your judgement. Otherwise, how ineffective, how unintelligible or perhaps provocative your well-intentioned censure may be
- Do not believe everything you hear; do not spread gossip
- Do not seek praise, gratitude, respect, or regard for past service
- Avoid complaining when your advice or opinion is not consulted, or having been consulted, set aside
- Never allow yourself to be placed in favorable contrast with anyone
- Do not press conversation to your own needs and concerns
- Seek no favors, not sympathies, do not ask for tenderness, but receive what comes
- Bear the blame; do not share or transfer it
- Give thanks when credit for your own work or ideas is given to another
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Monday, July 23, 2012
Had my mother been the one to ask the question, I would have gone straight to some old mother-daughter argument, becoming too angry to think reflectively. I probably would have become defensive and held firm to my right to live my own life. But coming from this older, Godly woman, it was a question that stuck with me.
Last weekend, our family stopped to visit some good friends who now live 6 hours from us. When we lived in the same town, they babysat and changed the girls' diapers, celebrated holidays with us, and they know us better than most. After a few minutes of vacation stories, my friend, Natalie, went right to the point and asked, "Tell me one thing God's been showing you this summer". My girls didn't even blink as they shared things they had learned at camp or had been processing this summer. No sermon. No scripture quoting. Just asking some good questions.
I'm so thankful that my daughters have some pretty amazing Jesus-loving women in their lives. Who are you the "older woman" to? How might God want to use you in the life of a younger woman?
Sunday, May 20, 2012
I admit it. I am the queen of big ideas and unfinished projects. Sometimes I'm in over my head...sometimes after I get started with a project, I realize I'm not going to be able to get the results in my mind and just give up.
So I'm celebrating a 6-month long project that was completed!
economical way to recreate that.
I found a vintage wall map online (about $15). When it arrived, I realized how thin the paper was, and that we would need to find a way to mount it on something. In my normal procrastinating fashion, the map then sat in the corner of the dining room for about 5 months until I got up the courage to do something with it. I couldn't imagine finding a canvas the size of my map (55x39), so we decided to cut it into smaller pieces. After 30 minutes standing in Michael's with my calculator, I figured out how to fit the map on several canvases.
The girls and I started by painting the edges of the canvases with an antiquey color. Cutting the map was the scariest part. Using an exacto knive, I simply cut around the size of the canvas...it wasn't perfect, but we didn't have any horrible accidents! I had read on some other blogs that using mod podge might actually be too wet for this thin poster paper, so I used spray adhesive instead. This seemed to work great! Well, until the next morning, when I saw that air bubbles had popped up on all of the canvases. Ugh. I decided to go over the map with mod podge anyway and see if it would help smooth out the bubbles....instead, it seemed to magnify them. We've just decided to enjoy it as a topographical map :)
Project Completed! And it only took 6 months!
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Monday, March 26, 2012
We have been blown away by the number of friends and family who have wanted to partner with Sophia and I in our trip to Kenya this Summer with Jump for Joel. THANK YOU!!
However, due to transitions in their ministry, this summer's trips have been canceled. Jump for Joel has spent the last 5 years working with an orphanage just outside of Nairobi called Gathiga Children’s Hope Home. They have come alongside the orphanage to help provide food, school fees, shoes, school supplies and many other needs for the kids who live there. Jump for Joel has sponsored students from the orphanage to go on to college and university programs. But as the staff and board of directors have prayerfully considered their work, and the things God has taught them along the way, they have been led to close this season of ministry. Jump for Joel has fulfilled its purpose and they are excited to celebrate all that God has done! Because of the end of their partnership with Gathiga Children’s Hope Home, Jump for Joel did not feel that they were able to offer us a well thought-out trip to develop relationships in Kenya this summer. For more information about Jump for Joel's decision, you can check out the complete statement on their website.
Although we were disappointed in the change of plans, Sophia and I both agreed that it wouldn't be right to jump into another trip. We're sure that God will open up another opportunity in the future when the time is right. I'm so proud of her maturity!
In the meantime, we will be returning the donations that were given for the trip. Checks that were already deposited will be refunded; donations through paypal will be returned through paypal, and checks that haven't been deposited will be voided and returned. Some people have asked if their donations can be re-directed somewhere else. If you'd like us to do that, we'll direct your gift to the Jump for Joel program expenses and scholarship commitments as they work to finish strong in these next few months. Unless we hear from you otherwise, though, your gift will be returned to you.
Again, we can't thank you enough! Thanks for your patience and understanding in this awkward situation. Don't hesitate to contact me if you have questions about the whole thing.
Gretchen (and Sophia!)
Thursday, March 08, 2012
So when my oldest daughter confessed that she really does like listening to NPR, I knew I had to nurture that love in her!
Our drive to and from piano lessons each week is our most consistent alone time, so we've begun talking about the candidates on the Republican ballot. After discussing the candidates and listening to the news for the last month or so, I asked her to sum up what she knows about them. Here are some of her answers:
Newt Gingrich: "Slimy. Has been married too many times. Got in trouble the last time they let him in politics".
Mitt Romney: "Mitt is Mormon and has lots of money."
Ron Paul: "Old guy who doesn't have a chance. But he's probably the only one who's got it right".
And the scary thing is, she just might be more informed than the majority of American voters!
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
When the sign-up list came around for a Casas por Cristo trip to Juarez, Mexico, he was first on the list. He worked hard on that trip, but his highlight of the entire trip was the afternoon some of the neighborhood kids showed up with a flat soccer ball and they spent the next 2 hours playing soccer in a lot filled with litter and rocks.
He went to Kenya with a team of students from CSF. He spent 2 weeks there, playing with orphans at the Gathiga Children's Hope Home, working at a feeding program in one of the biggest slums in Nairobi, and encouraging the orphanage workers and helping with projects.
He will graduate from UIS this May. While his peers are making plans to start graduate school, move back home into their parents' basements, or find their "dream job", he will be headed to the mission field. He's caught the vision of how God wants to use him in the world! He understands that God has gifted him in really specific ways and wants him to use those gifts for the Kingdom....and it all started with a mission trip.
Tis the season when we start getting letters from high school and college students asking us to partner with them on mission trips. I LOVE those letters, and I pray that as you receive them, you'll get excited about what it might mean for the Kingdom of God.
Monday, February 06, 2012
Raising money for both of us to go is a little daunting, but we're confident the one who owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10) can make it happen!
Check out Sophia's very first support letter below....she'll be sending it out this week. Annd would you pray about partnering with us?
February 6, 2012
I want to tell you about something really exciting that God is doing in our life and in our family! My name is Sophia Magruder, and I am in the 6th grade at Rochester Intermediate School this year. This summer, my mom and I have the opportunity to go to Kenya, Africa June 25-July 13 to work with an organization called Jump For Joel (www.jumpforjoel.org), which was started by some alumni of the campus ministry we work with.
I've been interested in going on this trip for over a year. I've grown up hearing about the cool ways the college students at UIS get to serve God around the world, and we have sent teams of students there for the last 4 summers. I love kids, and that ministry is focused on caring for orphans at Gathiga Children's Hope Home. Our family sponsors a child at Gathiga - Mariam is a 6 year old girl living in Gathiga. Our sponsorship makes sure that Mariam gets to go to school, has food and clothing, and that she has people in her life who know who she is and love her.
While we're there, we'll be playing with the kids, doing chores and helping out with special projects around the orphanage. We'll also be spending some time in a Nairobi slum, helping with a feeding program there. The kids who attend this feeding program often only get 1 meal every couple of days.
First, I'm looking for at least 7 people who will be on our prayer team as we prepare, and while we're in Kenya. I'll send out emails and give you some specific things you can be praying for.
Next, we really need people who want to be a part of our trip - - maybe not by going to Africa with us, but who can give money to help us get there. The total cost of the trip is $3,500 each, which means mom and I need to raise $7,000. Our first deadline is on February 25th when we need $4,400 to buy our plane tickets. If this was my own idea, I'd be pretty worried about how we're gonna come up with that money, but I know this is God's idea, so that takes some of the pressure off! Last summer I won $250 in our town's 4th of July Talent Show, and I decided then that all of that money would go into my savings account to help pay for this trip.
We are praying that there are people like you who will partner with us in loving these kids in Kenya! Could you commit to being a prayer partner, or donate something to help us reach our goal?Jump for Joel is a non-profit organization, so any gift you give is tax deductible. Gifts can be sent to: Jump for Joel, PO Box 9736, Springfield, IL 62791. Please put my name on a piece of paper in the envelope so the staff knows it's for mom and I. Please get ahold of my mom if you have questions about out trip or how you can help: Gretchen@uiscsf.org or (217) 414-9198.
I can't wait to tell you all about it when we get back. I can't wait to see what God shows us on this trip!
201 Deer Creek Rd
Rochester, IL 62563