I’m understanding the book of Psalms! (and how you can too!)

I’ve often heard how comforting the book of Psalms is. I’ve often been comforted by David’s words. A lot of the time though, I didn’t really understand his Psalms.  I understood the words of worship and of finding refuge in God, but triumphing over enemies? bones being broken? fingers being taught to war?

I just finished reading through 1 Samuel while also reading the Psalms written by David as he wrote them. I have pulled up on my phone a read the Bible chronologically guide and I look at it each day to see what’s next. I read about a battle David fought or a scary situation he was in and then read the corresponding Psalm. And you know what? Having it in context, it makes sense! I finally can know who these different enemies are and why they are being fought against. As I know what he is going through I can feel more intensely David’s crushing anguish or I can better rejoice in his Psalm’s of rejoicing.

Have you ever read through the book of Psalms this way? Today I read 1 Samuel 28-31 an then Psalm 18. Tomorrow it’s Psalm 121, 123-125,128-130 and then the day after that 2 Samuel 1-4.

Here’s the reading plan I’ve been using:

http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/chronological.html

And here’s some really neat videos from a youtube series called Read Scripture:

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Passionate Prayer

I’ve been struggling with prayer lately. I’ve been doing it but lately my time talking with the Creator for some reason I’ve felt emotionally dry as toast. I know that faith and emotions are not the same thing. I do believe God hears and answers my prayers even when I am emotionally uninvolved but at the same time I want to feel and experience God with my emotions. My emotions are a part of my being, a part of who I am.

I’m reading through the Bible chronologically right now and it has been really encouraging to me as I am reading through 1 Samuel to read the Psalms as they were written. To read what situation David was in and then to immediately read what he wrote and spoke to God in response.

I want so much want to desire God like Moses did and to love Him with the passion and zeal of David. I want to obey and trust Him like Joshua. I want to live humbly and virtuously like Ruth.

I want to know God and I know He desires for me to know Him but often my flesh gets in the way. My mind is mentally lazy, my flesh desires entertainment, escapism and comfort.

How can I have more passionate prayer? I don’t entirely know the answer. I know the place to start is by asking God for passion for Him. I can do nothing without Him, not even love Him without His help.

Another thing is spending time in prayer. Purposefully cut out distractions and entertainment so that my mind is uncluttered enough to think about God. It’s important for me to not listen to secular music (very often) or my mind dwells on that instead of on worship. What we invest our time in becomes important to us.

Faith comes by hearing God’s Word so it’s important to fellowship with other believers who can speak the Word to me. Also it’s important when I am with other believers to use that time wisely and talk about the things of God and not just goof off.

Time in the Word will teach me about God and His will. Memorizing scripture is huge.

Obedience to God, His Word and His Spirit is essential. I know there has been a situation in my life that I needed to do something about and until I took care of it every time I tried to pray all I could feel was conviction until I made the situation right.

Something I haven’t been doing lately but I’ve been thinking about is a need for me to switch things up. What I mean is, if I pray the same prayer list sitting in the same spot at the same time every day maybe that’s contributing to me feeling like my prayer life is artificial. If I felt like my relationship with my husband was getting in a rut I’d do something different! I’d plan for us to do some new activity for us to experience together and our relationship would grow stronger because of it. Maybe I should view my relationship with my heavenly Beloved the same and learn to talk to Him and worship Him spontaneously. To think of Him always.

Think about calvary. I hope to spend some time this morning amongst the business of caring for children during church to truly appreciate and reflect upon Christ’s death and sacrifice on my behalf as I break bread with other believers in remembrance of God’s gift of salvation and what it took to purchase it. Reflecting on the shame of my sin and the holiness of God and the truth that God bore that shame upon His own self should never loose it’s ability to humble me and to make me rejoice.

Just some thoughts I’ve been thinking. Jesus is knocking, I will open up to Him and He promises to sup with me.

Do these thoughts resonate to you? Do you feel like your prayers are full of passion or are you in a spiritual or emotionally dry place? What are your thoughts on emotion and it’s place in the Christian walk?

Books to read when you’re grieving

Like the collections of songs I put together in the last post I wanted to put together a list of books that I have read that have encouraged and helped me in my grief journey and pass it along to you.

 

(this last one is actually a workbook/ Bible study)

I asked few of my friends who have lost children if they could recommend any books and a friend said she had read this one and recommended it.

Many of these books are written for/ by parents who have lost children but some of them are not. I would say though that even the one’s written by grieving parents are applicable to anyone who is suffering.

grief, lamentation, and worship

As I said before, this month marks 6 years since my son Titus was born and passed away. This is a collection of songs I call, “Titus’ music” because in those early days I listened to these particular songs over and over again. I was listening to them yesterday and missing Titus but also thinking of so many of my friends who are grieving deeply right now. These songs are for them and for whoever else may come upon this in a time of pain.

How I meal plan

Tuesday’s are generally when I do the meal planning for our family for the next week. I’m sure not an expert but this is what has been working for a while now.

This week I listened to Amy from raising arrows.net on her new podcast series talk about meal planning. It’s called large family mealtime but most her tips are applicable to any size family.  My main take away for my family was to work on simplifying things and work some “no brainer meals” into our week. Although I’m having trouble making a link right now I recommend looking it up!

Here’s a little sneak peak into how I do meal planning- I keep it simple!

First I take a moment to see what we have in the house already;

  1. steak and hamburger in the freezer (we buy beef 1/2 a cow at a time)
  2. 2 blocks mozzarella cheese
  3. onions
  4. flour
  5. sugar
  6. almond flour

Then I decide on meals starting on Thursday night since I grocery shop typically on Thursday. I also take a moment to claim coupons on the kroger app. I try to plan what meals on can based on what we have left in the house.

Since I’m tired after going grocery shopping I want something easy for Thursday night. I have a $1.00 off coupon for rotisserie chicken so I’m going to get one of those and pair it with frozen vegetables and bread and butter for the kids.

Seeing I have mozzarella and almond flour on hand I’m going to make homemade low carb pizzas on Friday. All I have to buy for that is tomato sauce and cream cheese (which I have a coupon for both! Score!) I’ll also buy some mushrooms and maybe some other vegetable if I see anything on sale to jazz it up some. I can’t see yet what’s going to be on sale at Kroger on Thursday because I think it’s either Wednesday or Thursday that they put out a new flyer. I really like having 2 days between my meal planning and my shopping trip because then I have some time to add anything to my list that I may have forgotten.

Saturday I’ll use a package of hamburger from the freezer and make tacos. I think from now on I’m going to dub Saturday or just one night per week, “mexican night” so I can have a “no brainer meal” planned each week. Every one likes Mexican in our family and it’s easy. Saturday afternoon we are going to a birthday party and I’m bringing toppings for burgers so I made sure and wrote that down.

Sunday I need a potluck meal for our church group. If I have time Saturday I’ll make cookies with E since we have everything on hand and I’ll also make some baked chicken since I have a coupon for chicken thighs. Sunday night we can eat on leftovers.

Monday- soup (I’m going to try and find a canned low carb one to make it easy), salad and homemade biscuits.

Tuesday- Fish and vegetables, rice for the family, cauliflower rice for me

Wednesday- BLT wraps

Then I list the staples I keep on hand for breakfast and lunch and take an inventory of cleaning supplies, diapers, laundry detergent etc and add what we’ll need to the list. Some people don’t count paper towels and such as ‘grocery’ but since I buy every thing in the same store it makes sense for me to do it that way.

This week we are also going to a birthday party so I added “birthday boy present” and gift wrap to the list.

I get our toiletries at the grocery store so I take inventory of shampoo and soap and stuff.

I also take an inventory of my diabetes supplies and see if I need to go by the pharmacy and refill anything.

If I do need some items from another store I’ll write at the top of my list what stores I’m going to and in what order I need to go.

As you can see in the photo, I get out a notebook and one page is labeled, “meal menu” and the other is “shopping list”. I group my shopping list by where in the store the items are located. Remember, I have two little one’s with me- I need to get out ASAP!

So, that’s it. I may not cook the meals on the exact day I had planned on, sometimes I’ll decide that soup sounds better than fish tonight or whatever and make that instead. As you can see since I only shop once a week I use a lot of frozen meat and produce. In the beginning of the week we eat up the fresh stuff and by the end of the week we are eating the frozen and canned stuff. I keep bananas and other fruit to snack on and I’ll also usually by some canned and dried fruit for the kids to eat once the fresh is gone.

 

I can’t be her big brother

“Mommy..” she asks everyday, “will you play with me?” I don’t know how much guilt parents usually have associated with that question from their child but for me it is huge. I think, “If her older brother were alive she would have someone to play with.”

She’s playing in the sand, her little brother is not up for the imaginative game she wants to play. “Mommy, I wish someone would play with me.” I immediately feel like I have to step in and be who her older brother would have been to her. I play the game, I build the blocks I do whatever it is she wants trying desperately to fill the hole the loss of her older sibling that she never knew left in her life. Except I don’t have the energy of a 6 year old boy and I’m not half as fun. I feel guilty for that. I wish I could change the world and history and give back to her the big brother that she never knew but that should be here.

“I wish I had a big brother to play with,” she told me the other day. I feel guilty for not being enough for her and for not being able to be her big brother or bring her big brother back and the guilt feels suffocating. “Yeah me too honey,” my throat tight, trying to sound light hearted as I push back tears.

I wonder how I will feel as T.J grows up. Right now his sister can’t stand his rough housing and constant need to wrestle and I miss the presence of a big brother who could knock him around some like boys do.

Last night we sat down as a family to watch a show. I looked at the beautiful children on either side of me and at my husband. My eyes meet his and I could see the sadness I felt reflected in his eyes. “We have a beautiful family,” I said. “Yeah we do,” he answered. The rest we didn’t have to say aloud, “but there’s one missing.” We squeezed each others hand as if to say, “I know, I feel it to.” It’s random moments like these where the sense of loss is overwhelming. The emotion is an odd one, where profound joy and grief is happening at the same time existing together in this thing we call life.

I think often about how Jesus was “the man of sorrows” and anointed with the oil of gladness above all his fellows. (Heb 1:9) In Jesus sorrow and joy coexisted perfectly and I have to look to him each day to know how to do it.

Parenting after a loss is complicated and it each year brings new levels of grief and complications. The other day I showed E some pictures of Titus and did my best to explain in 4 year old language who he was and what happened. We haven’t kept it a secret from her, we’ve always talked openly about him but I think it was the first time she ever really processed it in her mind because I think seeing the photos made Titus into a person instead of just a name to her. She asked a few questions and once she was satisfied she ran off to play.

She’s been thinking about him and our conversation though. A couple days ago we went to the park and when another child came up to play E immediately said, “Titus died. He was a baby. He’s in heaven. I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

How simple. “I don’t know how but one day God will make him alive again.”

Oh to have faith like a child.

So what’s my conclusion to this post? There is none. The pain is still searing, the guilt is still paralyzing.

One day though I will be healed. It’s not today and it won’t be in this life. One day though…. I will stand with my feet on the new earth and ask, is this the spot Lord? Is this where he was buried? And then I will truly feel it as my faith is made sight. I will truly ask, “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” I will see with my own eyes everything made better by our gracious God and the sting of death will really be gone. It won’t hurt any more.

May is Titus’ birth month. The 17th is his birthday. He would have been 6 years old this year. I’ll probably be writing about him more than I usually do. Pray for me.