Dwell in Me

Seeking God in the Every Day


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From Fall to 2015: So Many Blessings. So Much Joy.

I’m sitting at the table in our new kitchen, surrounded by boxes that need to be unpacked and papers to organize. It’s been a busy–often overwhelming–fall and winter, and as we get ready to start a new year, I’m feeling a little bit out of my league and simultaneously overjoyed.

God has been so good to us this year. We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our little one at the end of January (though not early, I hope, because there is still so much to do to prepare). I finished my first semester of seminary (which, I’m sorry to say, is what has kept me away from blogging these past months). We enjoyed season tickets to watch an awesome TCU season, with the great finale versus Ole Miss that ended just moments ago. (We had hoped to be in the playoffs, of course. But I’m glad we went out with a bang anyway). And we moved. We still have our other house and are hoping and praying it will sell quickly, but we are getting settled into our new house and already very much enjoying DH’s new commute; he’s spending about one-third as much time on the road to and from work now.

My pregnancy has been textbook, and I’m so grateful for that. I have no complaints about it–only joy. And I am hoping and wishing the same joy for all of you still waiting.

I took a break from blogging during the semester because I quickly came to the realization that I was taking too many classes (though not quickly enough to be able to drop any!). My dear husband has spent the past few months doing almost all the house maintenance, cooking, and generally supporting me and my many hours of study each week. I don’t know that I would have survived the semester without his help. I know I wouldn’t have eaten enough. Lesson learned, though: I won’t be taking so many hours again.

Despite the worklload, I enjoyed my first semester of seminary. I learned so much and have made some new friends. I love Greek. Which is good, because that’s why I chose the program I’m in. I’m grateful that God has led me to this school and program and I’m excited to see how he will use that in my life! I’m sure I’ll have more to write about seminary, and especially about some of the things I’ve learned in class, in the next few weeks.

I’ll post about our new house separately, too. It’s a tiny little 1950 house; a big difference from our brand new house in Katy, but so worth it for the improvement in our lifestyle!

And today is our seventh wedding anniversary. It’s the last one we’ll spend as a family of two. I’ve wanted that and hoped for that for the past few years, but looking back and knowng that this year really is the last one–I’m grateful. Grateful for the time DH and I have had together even while we were waiting. We’ve grown so much together, and grown closer to God together, and I am so grateful for this man who agreed to marry me and still loves me after these seven years. I am excited to have a partner to share my life with and hope we will happily grow old together! And I’m excited to see him as a daddy. I know he’ll shine in that new position!

It’s also DH’s parents’ anniversary, and tonight we’re going to have a meal together with them. It should be nice to share that time together.

I don’t know if I’ll make it to the ball drop. I’ve been getting tired early lately. There’s some chance I’ll get to the live NYC ball drop–since that’s at 11 my time.

As we get ready to begin our new year, I want to wish you all a very blessed 2015, a year for answered prayers and great joys. I have missed blogging. But I hope to be back and more consistent.

They had these signs on the door at Starbucks last spring. I took this picture a few days before we found out we were expecting. I have a thing for hot air balloons, and I liked the message; I think I saw in it some hope that there would be something new and unexpected and wonderful to say “yes” to. And there was. I hope the same is true for you and for us in 2015.

Say Yes to What's Next

Sending love and joy to all. Happy New Year.

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Still Home, Sweet Home–For Now

Do you know anyone in Katy looking for a really nice house?

You’d think I wouldn’t be surprised when God does the unexpected. But I always am.

So, we’re not moving. Not yet, anyway. The day after I wrote my last post, the buyers decided to back out of the contract. They didn’t give any concrete reasons, and they didn’t have to. I figure it’s because God knew that we wouldn’t be able to get it together to move by the end of the month, so he took that pressure away.

At first, it was quite a shock to us. And I was so worried DH would be mad at me! It’s his commute, after all, that won’t be getting cut by 2/3 at the end of September. He texted me Friday morning and said, “Well, your prayers were answered. The buyers backed out.”

I thought he was joking.

I didn’t technically pray that this would happen. But I guess I made it pretty clear to God that I was hoping it would; shoot, I made that clear to anyone who reads my little blog.

The sudden change in our circumstances was unexpected. And now our house is back on the market–which brings its own little set of joys to our daily routine (like hiding our toothbrushes every morning and constantly mopping after the dogs come in the house, and impromptu study sessions at Starbucks because I have to leave my house on short notice). But once the shock of their decision wore off, both DH and I were feeling really at peace about what had happened.

And he isn’t mad at me.

Current plan: The house will stay on the market through the end of September. At that point, we’ll pull it off for the rest of the year and try again early in the spring after the baby is born. I don’t want to move 7-plus months pregnant while also trying to prepare for Thanksgiving and Christmas. That said, I don’t actually want to move with an infant either.

I know God’s timing is perfect and he’s got this. And I am praying that he will bring the right people to our neighborhood at the right time. I hope whoever he brings will love this house and our neighbors and be a positive influence in the community. And I hope that when he brings people, there will be a house for us in the right place, too. In the meantime, maybe we’ll be here when the pomegranites ripen and the limes are ready to be picked from our baby fruit garden. There’s something to look forward to!

Pomegranites, Limes, Blackberries and Blueberries . . . oh my

And I get another chance to trust him and wait on him, which is good, because I was clearly botching that last opportunity.


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Didn’t I Already Learn This?

I’m constantly amazed at my ability to falter in my faith.

Our house is officially under contract; we did come to terms agreeable for both us and the people who are planning to move into our house, and our closing date is set for September 29. In case anyone is wondering, yes, that is in 25 days. And no, we don’t have a house to move into (or even one we are seriously interested in looking at in the neighborhood in which we’d like to live).

We'll be saying goodbye to our little house

Throughout this process, I’ve been great at talking the talk. Whenever a person came to see the house and didn’t like it, it was easy to assure my husband that God had the perfect buyers for our house and that he knows where we are going. But now it’s time to walk by faith and trust that God has a place for us, and I find myself faltering.

I wonder why we put our house on the market in the first place (even though we had plenty of reasons, chief among them DH’s very long commute).

I find myself secretly (or not so secretly) hoping our buyers will decide to exercise their option and break the contract. We could sell the house at a more convenient time.

I worry: how are we going to get everything packed and moved? I have more than enough work to do for my classes with nothing else added on. DH is preparing to take the first CFA exam this winter and keeps reminding me that he’s terribly behind in his study timeline. Oh, and have I mentioned that I am really, really, really (and that’s not enough emphasis–seriously!) terrible at packing and moving? So, we will hire someone, but that means we need to find someone.

Did I also mention that DH is in a wedding in New Mexico the weekend before our closing date? One which we are both planning to attend (and for which I still don’t have a plane ticket.) Don’t worry: we’ll also be out of town the two weekends preceding that one. As in, this weekend is the only one that has us in town between now and closing.

And when DH’s car broke down on Tuesday morning, bringing the “someday we need to replace your car” to a more urgent “what car are we going to buy and how long can we hold out before we have to do it?”–well, I think that was a final straw for me. And I’m sorry to say I spent most of yesterday succumbing to fear and worry and unable to focus on my studies.

I like to think I was doing okay with the whole thing. That I was trusting God and expecting everything to go the way it should. But I think maybe it hadn’t all sunk in yet. I think I was in denial. And I was quite happy there.

The ridiculous thing about this whole situation is that I thought I had learned these lessons. In fact, just a few months ago, on this blog, I was asking God if I had learned enough yet. And here, too.  I was ready to move on from not being pregnant. So ready.

And here I am, still learning the same things: Trust me. Don’t fear. Don’t worry. Wait on me.

But my gracious God has changed my circumstances. Instead of battling infertility today, I’m dealing with doubts and questions over where we will live and how things can be done in the time that we have. And how our finances are going to work between moving out and (hopefully) moving in and buying a car and paying for movers and flying to New Mexico
and . . .

While I let myself get hung up on the circumstance, on the day-to-day, and on the things about which I have limited or no control, I haven’t been trusting like I should. Yet God is good. And he is calmly whispering to my heart: I’m still here. I’m still trustworthy. I still know. Remember the battles you’ve been through before? I carried you through those, and I’ll carry you through this.

So I’m glad for the wake-up call. This isn’t really a trial: it’s an opportunity to put my faith in practice. I’ve not done so well the past week, but by the grace of God, I can do better today. And tomorrow.


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Lessons from Seminary

I am so blessed to be in seminary! I am more sure than ever that this is where I’m supposed to be right now. I was so nervous, and frankly I had a bad attitude about some of the classes I’m required to take for my degree. I’m interested in the academic study, and wasn’t looking forward at all to classes like “Spiritual Life” or “Evangelism.”

I had my first Spiritual Life class last night, and I’m happy to say I’m a convert. I LOVED it. It promises to offer so much spiritual growth. True, it’s not an academic class, but as my professor wisely pointed out, there is little merit in gaining academic knowledge if the heart and soul are getting left behind. Throughout the two-hour meeting I could just feel the Holy Spirit working in my heart, changing my perspective. What great joy! My evangelism class is tomorrow, but I’m looking forward to it now. I just have a completely differnt attitude.

Coffee Love

My professor, Bruce Fong, is also a dean at the Houston campus of DTS. More importantly, he is a man with an obvious heart for the Lord. He imparted so much wisdom in two hours–and half of that time was spent going over the syllabus!–that I could probably write three different blog posts based on the insights gained through him in one class. I feel so blessed to be in this class, and before yesterday I was absolutely dreading it and expecting it to be a waste of time. Amazing how God can change a heart and attitude so quickly!

One of the things he talked about was the importance of asking for things in Jesus’ name. Jesus says,

“Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (John 14:13-14).

But what does it mean to ask for something in Jesus name? There are plenty of things I’ve asked for that I haven’t gotten in the end. And I always add, “In Jesus’ name I pray” at the end of my prayers. I had never thought that I may be missing a key element.

What Dr. Fong said last night is that we are good at asking for things, but not as good as asking in Jesus’ name, in his character, in line with who he is and his goals for us, as one who walks closely with him. As my professor said, if we ask for something because we want it for ourselves, we aren’t asking in Jesus’ name. But if we can become like Jesus in our prayers, we will see our prayers answered out of his divine power (2 Peter 1:3-4).

Wow.

To ask in the name of Jessus, I need to grow more in my relationship with him. I need to seek to know what he wants and what his goals are for me and for my life. And then I can be confident that what I ask will be given to me.

I am glad to have this new insight to guide me and help me grow in my prayer life and in my relationship with my Lord. And I am feeling confident that he will answer my request that I might grow deeper roots in my faith this semester. Praise the Lord!


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Unexpected Blessings

Our God is amazing. He knows us better than we know ourselves. And I love how he blesses us in ways that he knows we will appreciate–even when we haven’t asked for a specific blessing.

DH and I are in the process of selling our house. That is, we have our house on the market and are waiting for God to send the right people, the ones he wants in our neighborhood, to come and buy it. We’re sad to be leaving our house, because, frankly, we really love it. But the location just doesn’t work with seminary night classes and a baby on the way. We need a place closer to school and closer to DH’s office so he will be able to come home in time to watch our little blessing before I need to head to class.

We don’t need to move now, but we’ll need to move by this time next year–or else we’ll be tracking down babysitters for short time frames to cover the gap.

We received our first offer on the house on Friday. It’s exciting and a little overwhelming to think this move might actually be happening. If the perspective buyers accept our counteroffer, we need to find a place to live. Quickly! And although there are not any houses we’re interested in buying in the neighborhood we’re looking at, I feel completely at peace about the possibility that when we move, we may be moving into something temporary, instead of buying a new house.

Or, God may provide a perfect house for us at the perfect moment (I hear his timing is perfect). Either way, I’m not worried. Which is, in itself, a clear gift from God that I didn’t specifically pray for.

And it’s still possible these folks will decide this isn’t the house for them. They could reject our counter and walk away. They will have a 10 day option period, from which they could walk away. They could run into financial issues that prevent them from closing and leave us back where we started. And maybe no one else will come to make an offer on the house before we take it off the market at the end of September (I’d prefer to move pre-baby, sure. But not particularly close to my due date). But I know it’s in God’s hands.

Orchid on my bathroom counter

Oddly, I was reminded that God is taking care of this by an orchid I purchased for our master bathroom counter. It’s a really pretty plant, with two flowering spikes adorned by pale pink flowers that almost look vintage. I’ve been enjoying it since we put our house on the market about a month ago. But one of the spikes is starting to lose its flowers. And I was reminded, when we heard news of the offer on Friday, that when I had purchased the orchid I had thought to myself that it would be nice not to need another one before we got this place sold.

And, it looks like we may not. Again, contingent on whether we actually get under contract or not–but still: another blessing I didn’t specifically request.

I think it’s great to be very clear with the Lord and let him know what you’re wanting. And sometimes he says yes, and sometimes he says wait, and sometimes he says actually, I have something else, something better in mind.

But I love that the Lord chooses to bless us sometimes when we haven’t asked for anything. These little unexpected blessings can be easily overlooked or brushed aside. Or we can see them, recognize them, and then thank the Lord for his good provision and good gifts that we didn’t even articulate.

As I’m starting seminary today–my first class begins tonight at 6 p.m.–I’m glad to have the reminder that God is looking out for me even in ways I don’t think I need or don’t think to mention. And I trust he is looking out for you, too. I pray this school year will be an excellent one for all who are heading to class or watching loved ones go back to school. And that we will better notice those blessings from the Lord we never expected.


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Contemplating Tragedy

I’m feeling ill-equipped to speak about the things weighing on my heart. Do you know this fallen world we live in is a world that tolerates violence and pain? It’s a world where the police–who should be protecting and defending our communities–become a force that divides them, that devalues life. It’s a world where people can be more concerned about private property destroyed–which is indeed a bad thing–than about life lost. It’s a world where people can look at the death of a person by the hand of a police officer and come out choosing sides: the police or the victim.

And, yes, I’m writing about the events that have occurred in Ferguson, MO, over the past few days. But the sad thing is, I could be writing about so many other cases of lost life at the hands of our police officers in other towns and cities around the country.

And in Ferguson we are seeing–rightly, I think–outrage over the loss of life. Over the way the death was handled. Over the missing information and missing details that still haven’t come to light. I’m not saying that the looting of stores was an acceptable response to this death. And I’m not saying the rioting and burning in the community was an acceptable response to this death. Nor do either of those events serve to honor Michael Brown, who was killed Saturday. But it seems right that the community would gather to honor the deceased and to protest the organization responsible for his death.

I know plenty of people saw the death of Micahel Brown and thought to themselves, he probably deserved it. And here I have to disagree. Two pieces of information have been published that–if true–make the “he deserved it” line of reasoning invalid: 1. Michael Brown was unarmed at the time of the shooting and 2. Michael Brown was backing away from the police officer with his hands in the air. Frankly, even if the second piece turns out to be false, it’s difficult to understand how an officer with a gun–and presumably other means of self-defense, such as a club or a taser–could justify fatally shooting an unarmed person.

And the cop-kills-kid story differs even from the Trayvon Martin tragedy in one crucial way: training. Police officers are (or should be) trained in how to appropriately manage bad situations. Police officers are trained in how to use the weapons with which they have been entrusted. And police officers are trained in the law. As tragic as the death of Trayvon Martin was, his killing “in self-defense” was the act of an untrained neighborhood watch patrolman, not a police officer who should have known better. This is not to justify the killing of Trayvon Martin, but to say that the police should be held to an even stricter standard.

Heinous crimes have been committed in this country, but even the mass shooters and serial killers are entitled–by no less than the 7th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution–to have their day in court. Whatever Michael Brown may or may not have done, it’s hard to justify his execution without trial. Such acts are the stuff of vigilantes, and have no place in the American legal system, and no place among the police officers who are expected to protect and defend their communities.

My prayers go out to this family, and to the community of people who lost a friend and loved one on Saturday. And I pray that we will see changes in how the police interact with people in this country; that we, as Americans, will not tolerate unnecessary use of force from one person to another, especially from people in authority. A badge and a gun doesn’t free a man to enact justice as he sees fit; instead, it should hold him to a higher standard of decency.


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Summer Storms

I came home this evening from a peaceful afternoon at the coffee shop. I exited my car to a thunderous soundtrack: a storm rolling in. There’s something so lovely about summer thunderstorms. I can’t quite place it, but it’s something to do with the thunder and the lightning and the smell of rain. And maybe to do with the car’s thermometer reading triple digits all day and a hope that rain will bring a respite from the heat.

I tried to let the dogs out before it started. They both cowered at the door to let me know they could hold it a little longer, thanks. They could sense the coming rainfall.

Now, it’s pouring. The rain hits the metal chimney vent like popcorn on the stove. The ground will take in what it can hold, and let the rest just run right away, filling ponds and bayous.

Melville, the two-year-old pup has decided now that he’ll go out after all, braving the storm to use the restroom. He spent a few minutes sitting on the porch, like he was watching the storm, before making his way to the grass. He’ll be back in a moment, frustrated about having wet feet and a wet coat. Happy to lay on the cool tiles and watch through the windows instead.

Rain painting our fences

Rain spilling off the roof

Puppy watching storm

Watching the storm from the windows

Today I’ve been thinking about the to-do list I want to get through before school starts. I’m nervous about going back to school. And as the summer quickly draws to a close, I realize that many of the items on that list–like making things for the baby, journaling and reading about pregnancy, relishing each moment of this dream-come-true–aren’t going to be finished before school starts.

And I have to be like the lawn, letting the things that can’t fit in just roll off and away. Because where the lawn fails to do that, the grass drowns and dies off. And where I fail to do that, maybe I lose a little, too. I stretch thinner and thinner in the places that should be growing.

Yes, I’ve journaled some. I’ve done some knitting. And I am relishing the moments I have. And I am finding out that God waters us and grows us in our circumstances, even if they aren’t always the circumstances we want to be in. And the rainstorm is slowing already, passing away as I watch it and type. Each moment is, afterall, only a moment. And we choose to find joy in the moments. Because I don’t know a better way.