Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Power of Praying Feet

I am having a boy! After being blessed with three beautiful and totally healthy girls, God is giving us a boy. Like the figurative cherry on top of my delicious hot fudge sundae life. And I feel completely elated and unbelievably humbled by this blessing.

Here's why.

This pregnancy was a surprise. So was my Little Toothache. Such an unexpected thing after struggling with infertility and ultimately a successful in-vitro procedure to conceive our beautiful twins. It's not that I don't know how this works. It's just that my body does not follow a "traditional" pattern and so there's no predictability for when peak times are, well, peak.

So, to have one surprise pregnancy was such a miracle. In fact, we have an inscription above LT's bed that says "Believe in Miracles". But, a second! I never saw that coming.

When I found out, I was in total shock. A little bit freaked out. But, amazed that after what we had been through the first time, this could happen all on it's own with no planning or intentionality on my end. Again!

In my prayer time, I had been talking to God a lot about having a fourth. Was it going to be His plan for us to conceive easily? Or was it going to get complicated again? If it was difficult, how long would we wait until we talked to a doctor? Or considered adoption? There were many other questions/worries I had about it. So, when it happened this way, I felt like He was just saying, "Relax, Jenni. I'm in charge."

What a relief.

The day I took the pregnancy test, I was overwhelmed. I remember driving home from errands and calling Andy. I started crying on the phone and was glad that he was working from home that day. When I pulled in the garage, I just sat in my car and cried. Andy finally came out to the car and joined me. We talked together and then prayed together. Then Andy said, "I really hope it's a boy."

I know he's always wanted a boy. He loves his girls and is an amazing dad to them. But, when we would see dad's playing ball with their boys or other father/son stuff, I could always sense that he really hoped to have that someday, too.

And that's when my praying feet came into play. I decided to paint my toes blue all summer long, as a silent prayer and reminder to God that I really wanted a boy.

See, when it comes to prayer, I had always had the mentality that God was going to do what he was going to do. That it was my responsibility to submit to his plan. To pray that His will be done, whatever that may be.

But, last year, I heard a teaching on Moses. How God was so fed up with the Israelites that he had delivered from Egypt that he basically said to Moses, "I'm going to kill them!" And Moses pleaded with God. He asked him to please give them another chance. And God CHANGED HIS MIND! (Read the story yourself; Deuteronomy 9)

That was a lightbulb moment for me, when I realized that I can have a say in this. I can pray bold, faith-filled prayers and God could actually have one thing in mind and then hear my fervent prayers and decide to do something else.

So, my prayers for a boy became the first time that I put this into practice. I would say to God, "I'm asking BOLDLY for a boy!" I prayed this prayer a lot. I wanted it bad.

I would see my blue toes throughout the day and say, "hey God! don't forget!"

People would say to me, "don't you think that's already decided?" And my response would be, "my God is big enough to change his mind any time he wants."

If God chose to give us another girl, I knew I could celebrate that, too. That I had prayed so much for a boy that He must have a big plan for this girl. And that His big picture view of our family was better than my view.

But, the day of the ultrasound came. And as my heart raced and as we felt gratitude for every healthy measurement of his head, heart and limbs, she came upon a site I've never seen on an ultrasound screen before. A penis! He spread his legs proud and there was no denying it. God answered me!

I instantly started to cry. My heart so full of gratitude and humility. I said a prayer and the God of the entire universe heard ME and answered ME!

I knew this was nothing short of a gift. It certainly was not something that I deserved. If it was about who deserved things, I can think of plenty of others whose faithfulness to God should add up to a blessing like this. Like our dear friends, the Shelbys.

God's work makes no sense to me. All I could think of was how I had been given something by my creator that I didn't deserve, and all I could say was "thank you, thank you, thank you!"

After the ultrasound, I sat alone waiting for the doctor and could have cried again just amazed at His faithfulness and love for me and my little life. My awe and amazement of our God has been renewed. My prayer life forever changed.

Sometimes we forget that power we have as believers. That the Holy Spirit is with us all the time and we can call on His help any time of day. We can release angels to do good work. We can pray with expectation and have it be met.

Sometimes our job will be to submit to His will, when His answer is different than our request. But, other times, lifting our hands (and feet) in prayer,we are invited to be active participants in His work. His life-altering work.

"The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with."
James 5:16 (The Message)

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jesus in Mom Jeans

I want to be like Jesus.

But, sometimes as a mom, I don't act like Jesus. And sometimes not so much because I'm mad, but because I have a hard time determining what type of parental choice Jesus would make, in the heat of the trials and drama of three small girls. And I get frustrated about it.

I want to know Jesus so well. And truly "get" Him so much, that even when my emotions and blood pressure feel like they are about to go through the ceiling, I can confidently answer the question WWJD? And then actually do it.

Jesus, what practical parental choice would you make when your 18mo old is screaming in the high chair covered in applesauce, while one 3 year old just fell on the floor in a pool of tears because you got her a little spoon instead of a big spoon, and another 3 year old is in the bathroom yelling for you to come and wipe her booty?

And please don't misinterpret my tone. I truly believe He has the answer.

My post is about my issue.

I'm staying home full-time now. And in my quiet time with God, I feel like He's asking me to be still. To accept His love for me and define myself simply as His beloved (rereading Abba's Child)(one of my all time faves!) I'm learning so much.

And then my kids wake up. And it's practical application time. I start my day (and my ministry) and pray that all this good stuff that's happening in my heart is ever-present in my day, as I lead my kids.

I think that's the true test of growth. Grace in the hard times. That in the toughest of trials, I could hold up a mirror and still see His reflection. I'm not sure that happens all the time here.

As I read the Bible and read about the life that Jesus' modeled. I'm so inspired. And challenged.

I feel confident that he's asking me to abide in this new season. And I'm learning to carve out times of solitude with Him.

And I think it's so that I can really hear Him in the stillness, when my life is so LOUD. And that as I hear him more, His voice becomes so familiar, so easy to decipher, that when the NOISE is at it's loudest, I can still hear it.

Because, I know He knows how LOUD it can get over here. And that it's not always the kids.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Asian Beef and Noodle Soup

If you're in the mood for some amazing Asian flavor combinations, this is the soup for you. However, if you aren't in the mood to flash back to college, livin on the cheap, eatin ramen for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you might want to skip this one, or find a noodle substitution (which is what I plan to do next time).

I used a few ingredients for the first time in this recipe: fish sauce and Chinese five-spices.

I have to admit, the fish sauce weirded me out. It was a tan color and a water consistency. I pictured someone pulling a fish from the lake and squeezing it over a sieve. I didn't taste it directly, but the bottle said you can use it like soy sauce and it's popular in Thai food.

The Chinese five-spices is an interesting mix of spices, including cinnamon and fennel. Even a little clover. Heck, if you wanted to, you could probably put it in your pumpkin pie. That would be interesting.

The noodles were straight up ramen, although you didn't use the seasoning packet. But, I wasn't fooled and I have too many memories of eating ramen in my dorm room when there was nothing else to eat. So I think next time I'll try some chinese egg noodles instead or even vermicelli.

This recipe also includes flank steak and I was surprised that you cooked it by simply throwing it into the broth and not in a skillet ahead of time. I was pleased since I feel like I usually mess up steak when I try to cook it in a skillet. The broth method made for really tender steak.

All these flavors combined, plus fresh ginger and cilantro, made this soup a party for my taste buds, which is why I'm sharing it with you. Enjoy!

Asian Beef and Noodle Soup

8 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs grated fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fish sauce
1/2 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
4 (3 oz) packages ramen noodles, broken into large pieces, seasoning packets discarded
1 lb flank steak, cut lengthwise into thirds and cut crosswise into 1/4-inch slices (see note)
1/2 medium head Napa cabbage, sliced thin crosswise (about 4 c)
1/4 c finely chopped fresh cilantro

Bring broth, ginger, garlic, fish sauce and five-spice powder to boil in Dutch oven. Reduce heat to med-low and simmer until flavors meld (about 10 min).

Add noodles to simmering broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until nearly tender (about 2 min). Stir in beef and cabbage and simmer until cabbage is wilted and beef is cooked through (about 2 min). Add cilantro. Serve.

Note: Freeze the steak for 15 min before cutting to ensure thin, even slices.