Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peace that Surpasses Understanding

The Christmas decorations are finally put away, so one sad looking poinsettia is all that remains of the Christmas season.  Somehow, the melodies of Fum, Fum, Fum, and Feliz Navidad continue to be on my mind, however, and I find myself humming and whistling them all the time.  Christmas is never completely banished when I am around!

Fresh hotdog and hamburger buns.
To break the silence of an often too quiet apartment, I have been listening to a steady stream of praise worship -- many by Chris Tomlin -- and this helps to improve my mood no matter what else is going on.  I am also on the lookout for soothing music that will help create a peaceful environment during labor and delivery (only about nine weeks away!).  My mom found an old recording put out by Integrity Music called Peace that she listened to when she was in labor with me more than twenty years ago, so that forms a good foundation for my playlist.  I have also added some personal favorites such as Ashokan Farewell and some new finds including a beautiful arrangement of Come Thou Fount by Stephanie Immordino.

I was so excited to see a beautiful snowfall -- my first of the season.
Just as I expected, I completed the baby boy quilt two weeks ago, and I started piecing the baby girl quilt the same day.  Unfortunately, my sewing machine and I didn't get along for a few days, and it took longer than it should have for me to discover it was because my Singer didn't like the thickness of the new thread I gave it.  There was supposed to be all-purpose thread in the machine, but, somehow, I managed to buy and load heavy thread instead.  Anyway, I was so upset that I lost two days because of a simple mistake on my part that I sewed almost all day and finished piecing the new quilt top that day!  It was "sandwiched" in time for our weekend trip to visit family and friends, so I was able to get a lot of quilting done while enjoying family time.

French Toast on a relaxed Saturday with my husband.  Served with honey!
The last two weeks have had some unexpected challenges in it, but I am so thankful for the promise in Philippians 4:7:

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

My Ladies Bible Study has been studying Hebrews as part of the Faithful, Abundant, and True study put out by Kay Arthur, Priscilla Shirer, and Beth Moore, and it has certainly helped keep my troubles in perspective.  We serve an awesome God!

Many blessings on your week!


Monday, January 16, 2012

Queen of the Home

"Are you working?"

It shouldn't, but the question still makes me feel uncomfortable.  Nice, well meaning people ask me this all the time, and it seems to be part of the "getting to know you" process.  Still, as common as the question is, I don't always know how to respond.  Answering, a flat "no" seems dismissive and rude.  Plus, I do work -- just not in the way they mean.  Wrong or right, I feel the need to justify myself.  But how?  What can be said?

I could tell them I make dinner for my husband, clean the apartment, do the laundry, and, well, I'm pregnant, so I take naps, and I will be feeding a baby and changing diapers in a few months... but then, other women do all that and more.  A lot of wives are balancing responsibilities at home and at work.  When I think about that, I shrink a little inside, and any answer I could give seems insufficient.

Yet, I needn't feel inadequate.  Zachary and I agree that we have different roles in our little family, and both sets of responsibilities are equally important.  We believe that the family works better when there is one "bread winner" and one "bread baker" -- not that other members of the family can't bake. Right, Dad? :)

My schedule is flexible and gives way to Zachary's more rigid one, and this allows us the maximum time possible to be together, to communicate, and to build our relationship as husband and wife.  For right now at least, I do the majority of the household chores while Zachary is at work, so our home can be a place of rejuvenation and peace when he returns. Dividing our duties in this way will hopefully allow our home to be a haven of rest, play, and productivity for years to come.

So, I am happy with our decision, and I take great joy in my role of homemaker.  Still, in a world of predominately two income households, the temptation to squirm at the "Are you working? question is still there.

Encouragement can come from many sources, and, over the last few weeks, I have been uplifted many times by a little book I am keeping on my bedside table.  Queen of the Home, compiled and edited by Jennifer M. McBride, was one of my Christmas presents, and I wish every Christian wife had the privilege of reading this special volume of essays, poetry, and other quotes.

The wisdom shared concerning the honor, nobility, and power of Biblical womanhood builds me up and encourages me in my resolve to be a blessing to my husband.  The world says I would bless him more by bringing in a second income, but Queen of the Home reminds me that a wife and mother is replaceable in the job market but irreplaceable to her husband and children.

John Angell James, one of the authors quoted in the book, put it this way in 1853:

"The Bible gives her place of majesty and dignity in the domestic circle -- the heart of her husband and the heart of her family.  It is the female supremacy of that domain, where love, tenderness, refinement, thought and tender feeling preside. It is the privilege of making her husband happy and honored, and her sons and daughters the ornaments of human society.  It is the sphere of piety, prudence, diligence, in the domestic station, and a holy and devout life.  It is the sphere that was occupied by Hannah, the mother of Samuel; by Elizabeth, the mother of John; by Eunice, the mother of Timothy; and by Mary, the mother of Jesus.  It is the respect and esteem of mankind."

Just as I would not gulp down a soothingly delicious, hot mug of tea, I am not in any hurry to rush through Queen of the Home.  I am reading it one quote or essay at a time and savoring the sips of wisdom within.  I know it will be a book I return to many times as my household duties claim more of my energies.

There are so many other things I wish I could say about this little book, but I can't even begin to do it justice. Nothing can replace actually reading it.  I strongly encourage girls and women young and old to find this book and benefit from the godly wisdom Jennifer M. McBride has compiled for our edification.

You can buy the book HERE

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Music, Baby, and Faith

The first week of January has sped by, and even though the Christmas decorations aren't put away yet, Christmas is definitely over.  My media player and Pandora channel can attest to the fact that I have transitioned into "regular" praise and worship music and put my December favorites away.  "Silent Night" and "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" probably won't have to wait until the next Advent season arrives before I start humming and singing them again, but they do get a break.

Zachary and I are reading straight through the Bible this year, so we covered the creation of the world through Abraham this week.  I was reminded again that Abraham did a lot of things right and a lot of things wrong -- just like us -- but it was his faith in God that mattered.

    "And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness."
(Genesis 15:6 ESV)

I want to make sure that my actions spring from faith in God.  Just doing the "right thing" isn't enough.  When it comes down to it, it is the heart that matters.  I have a lot of questions this week about practical evangelism, but I trust that God will help me know what to do and say in the moment even when I don't have the big picture filled in.  I just need to believe God and keep asking Him for His help.  He is faithful.

In other news, I am excited to be in the third trimester of my pregnancy!  We have one childbirth class left, and it is becoming more real every day that there is a little person inside of me that we will get to "meet" in less than three months!  Since we won't know the gender of the baby until it is born, I am making two baby quilts so we can have both a girl and a boy quilt on hand.  Over the top?  Maybe, but it is so much fun, and I am not decorating a "nursery," so I guess my energies are going into one of my favorite hobbies instead!  The boy quilt should be finished today, and the fabric for the girl quilt is already bought, washed, and ready.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Zachary and Elizabeth: 2011 in Review

We have been married for six months now, and what an amazing six months it has been!  From day one, we have felt God’s blessing, and we are thankful for His provision and protection as we begin our new lives together as husband and wife.

Our June 11th wedding was a day we will always look back on with fond memories.  Our dear friends and family helped us in so many ways in the days leading up to the wedding, and we are immensely thankful.  We felt the love of both the family members who came from near and far to witness our vows and the dear friends who went above and beyond to care for us and give us a good start.

We miss our church, First Baptist Church of Ponca City, very much now that we are away from Ponca City, and we look forward to every visit “home” to see our church family.  They continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

Our honeymoon took us to Missouri and Arkansas where we enjoyed visiting the beautiful underground caverns.  We photographed hundreds of stalactites, stalagmites, and columns that awed us with a fantastic reminder of the grandeur of God’s creation.  One of the highlights of our stay in Branson was a stop at The Butterfly Palace.  One large blue butterfly landed on Elizabeth’s forehead!

Our first home together is in Okmulgee, Oklahoma – a two and a half hour drive southeast of our hometown of Ponca City.  Zachary is attending the OSU Institute of Technology here in Okmulgee as he pursues a degree in Information Technology.

We were met with open arms by our new church: First Baptist Church of Okmulgee.  A visit to the church was one of the first things we did upon our arrival in Okmulgee, and we were instantly struck by the love that is to be found in the body of Christ.  They made us feel at home and provided job leads, temporary work until Zachary found his full time position at Covington Aircraft, and – most importantly – friendship. We have met many men and women who are faithfully serving the Lord in both word and deed.

Knowing that every child is a blessing, we decided long before we were even married that we would leave family planning to the one who gave each of us life – our Heavenly Father.  Practically speaking, we didn’t know if we would be parents within the year or the decade, but His timing is best.  About a month and a half after the wedding, we found out it would be the former!  Our baby is due in late March of 2012, and we are so excited!  Elizabeth has been blessed with good health during her pregnancy, and we eagerly look forward to our baby’s arrival.  Feeling the baby become more active is a joy that provides us ready smiles!  We know God will use parenthood to continue our own spiritual growth as He blesses us with the responsibility of loving and training this little one that He is even now forming in the womb.  Please pray for the safe arrival of “Baby” Pruett.

The Advent season has been a special time as we remember God’s precious gift to us in the form of another pregnancy and baby – our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  It has been fun to come together as a newly formed family and begin our own Christmas celebrations that include a time each evening to read and pray together.

Zachary was privileged to be a cast member and soloist in our church’s Christmas production on December 11th.  He played the part of a young assistant of the Magi who is “Searching for the King.”

Elizabeth continues to expand her meal plan repertoire, and, in addition to her other household duties, enjoys hobbies such as quilting and genealogy.  The wedding quilt was finished just in time for the cold weather to set in, and she is now working on a baby quilt for the spring arrival. Zachary continues to enjoy photography and has been experimenting with both digital and 35 mm film.

2011 was a momentous year for us, and we know that 2012 will be equally life changing.  We pray that each of you would be blessed in the year ahead.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Happy New Year!

This is the first day of my first full year as Zachary’s wife.  I am looking forward to the year to come with great expectations.  Our baby will be born, and we will begin the exciting and challenging adventure of parenting!  Most of all, I want to grow in my relationship with my Heavenly Father and my husband and learn to balance my varying responsibilities wisely.  This year will demand much more patience and diligence than I am used to demonstrating, but I know that with the Lord’s help, I will be up to it.  He never gives us more than we can handle when we are faithfully leaning on Him.

I will not have time to waste this year.  I need to make sure that every day counts.  Psalm 90:12 reads, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.”  I want wisdom.  I desire a heart that is faithful to both my God and my husband.  The words of Eliza Lucas Pinkney have been on my mind lately, and I want her resolution to be my own in the years to come.

She wrote:

“I am resolved by the grace of God assisting me to keep, to make a good wife to my dear husband in all its several branches; to make all my actions correspond with that sincere love and duty I bear him… To be careful of his health, of his interests, of his children, and of his reputation: …and next to my God, to make it my study to please him.

“I am resolved to be a good Mother to my children, to pray for them, to set them good examples, to give them good advice, to be careful both of their souls and bodies, to watch over their tender minds, to carefully root out the first appearing and budding of vice, and to instill piety, virtue, and true religion into them.”

I know the children mentioned here are older than my little baby that is yet to be born, so my mothering will not look quite like the images that come to my mind when I read this.  However, it is never too early to pray for my baby.  It is never too soon to be a follower of Christ worth emulating.  No little eyes are watching me yet, but they will be soon, and I want to reflect Christ in the way I seek after the Lord, interact with others, and care for my husband and home.  I feel like I fail at this in so many ways, but I must trust that He will help me to grow and change.  This daily transformation does not magically happen.  It is the result of time and effort, and I pray now that I would have the diligence to put that time and effort in.

I am trying not to set myself up for disaster by committing to a long list of resolutions this year since I know my life is going to be turned upside down in a few months, but there are a few certain things that are always important.  Prayer, Bible reading, and witnessing make that short list.  After my relationship with God, my relationship with my husband must be first in my life.  I will never be successful if I do not have these two things in their proper places.  Hobbies, amusements, friends, etc. are nice, but they are secondary, and I am determined that I will not let them distract from what is truly important this year.