Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy Birthday, Kittens!


Only now, of course, they are cats.

seven week old Princess and Vex
When I emailed their mom's owner last year about getting them he told me they were 7 weeks that day. I got them a day or two later but counting back that means their "birthday" is April 14th... or there abouts.

They've gotten a bit bigger.
I really do feel very blessed and enriched having the kittens in my life. They have also been a lot of trouble. But I do think I am much happier with them then I would be without them. I was not made for quiet, chaos free living environments. They make me itch.

Vex has grown especially

So happy birthday my dear Vex and Princess Panchali. I love you dearly. It makes me a bit sad you're so grown up and yet also relieved, because kittens are lot harder work than cats and having you mellow a bit before we bring home Baby Berkeley is a good thing!

Vex keeping me company on bed rest
Ryan soothing Princess
kittens chilling in the sun at the old apartment
and at the new
Vex chillin' with his main man
A picture that shows off that Princess is really a lovely black on black tabby
and Vex is really a {cute} troublemaker
Sibling love
I'm really glad they're cats. But they'll always be kittens to me.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Scripture Sunday, Week 10

This is the tenth part of an ongoing series going through 1 Thessalonians. The first part can be found here.

"Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other. And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more, and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." - 1 Thessalonians 4: 9-12

"Now about your love for one another we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other." Again Paul and the others have written of the love of the Thessalonians before, and here they say that God has taught them this love. What a beautiful thing to think of, that God is at work teaching His children!

"And in fact, you do love all of God’s family throughout Macedonia. Yet we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more" More love, more love. Don't we all need more love? No matter how much love we may have, we need more love. The letter writers are affirming here that the Thessalonians are already loving the Church in Macedonia but encourages more. This is not a reflection on the Thessalonians failure to love but on their ongoing transformation to God's nature, which loves in abundance.

I felt this little phrase deserved regarding on its own: "and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life." That is so very different from the message of the world and let's face it sometimes the message of our hearts. We often ache for excitement and the truth is that is an ache that will be satisfied. Nothing you could experience in this world could be more exciting than the one who created it, right? And we will have eternity with Him. God is not a boring God, no matter what lies have been told about that. However, God tells in a very countercultural claim to make our ambition a quiet life. Ambition is so often touted in our modern society, both in America and maybe even more so here in India where every parent's child seems to want their child to be a doctor or an engineer. Ambition is often seen as a good thing, but if you ask yourself about how it's often applied in people's lives it is a frequent justification to use or abuse people in order to promote oneself. However like all God given traits there can be holy applications and this reveals one, that we apply our ambition towards living a quiet life.

"You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders" Don't you love a verse that tells people to mind their own business? Haha. Truthfully though, this is a Biblical behavior. We are urged to work with our hands, for as another verse teaches idle hands are not good things! These are teachings the writers had already given the Thessalonians and they are saying that if they follow these things their lives will garner respect from outsiders. Now understand that the reason to do these things is in order to live a godly life, not to earn the praise of man, something that other passages we've already studied from this letter make clear. This verse could be used out of context to justify that if one's life is not respected you're violating this. However we know that while Jesus did earn the respect of many, such as His disciples, He also was despised, mocked, and killed. If you're following a godly ambition to a quiet life and some respect you, that is a fulfillment of this verse, but if others despise you well that is just a fulfillment of many, many verses about how we are to suffer.

Lastly it says "and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." Do understand Paul is talking to a Church, not to an individual when He says that. That is important because while all individuals have a call to do the work that God has given each of us in our time and place in life, Acts and many epistles make it clear that the Church is to take care of each other and meet each other's needs. There is absolutely an inter-dependence within the Church. Acts says  of the early Church "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need." This duty for us to meet each other's needs is emphasized through out the New Testament, God definitely does not call us to be independent from our brothers and sisters but to a beautiful interdependence like the organs in a body. Yet I do see a very unloving attitude applied far too often, especially amongst American Christians, and it grieves my heart. This attitude is that a poor person must be a lazy person, which is akin to the "prosperity gospel" heresy. I think it's because in the West we are very individualistic and we apply the above verse, and ones akin to it, to individuals instead of to the Church as it was meant to be applied. What the verse is saying is that if the members of the Church mind their own business and work hard they won't be dependent on others. However, if in a month a brother or sister is struggling it is definitely expected that the rest of Church will lift them up. That is not the dependence spoken against here, for a gift from your Church family is obviously from God. No, it is speaking of dependence from outsiders in the way Abraham denied the gifts of the king of Sodom so that no one could say Abraham's riches came from anyone other than the Lord. (Genesis 14:21-23) If the members of a Church do their duty, then as a Body, the Church should be able to meet its own needs and even to give to other's ministries, the way Paul talks of other churches helping fund church planting efforts.

The Church's needs I speak of here not only are the business like needs that 21st century churches talk of (building rent or mortgage, pastors and other paid minister's salaries, supplies for music worship, etc) but the needs of the people as the people are the Church. Now this verse and others do encourage us to reprimand lazy Christians who aren't working, but it should also be understood that just like in all things God can see work differently from the world. We shouldn't be judging each other's efforts but instead praying to God about if that person is doing what He wishes at the time. For example I have seen the world call many a stay at home mother someone who isn't working due to her lack of income, but God wouldn't do that. I think each Christian should be asking God what work He has for them, and applying themselves to it, whether that work earns money or not, understanding God will provide for their needs. Remember Paul emphatically tells people that his ministry does deserve a salary but he chose to lay it down and tent make instead in order to earn a better reward. Therefore we shouldn't require all serving the Lord to "tent make" but instead to meet their needs, though if they choose to tent make, it is noble. And for those of you who have abundance remember when you look at your brother or sister who doesn't that it may be God has called you to recognize their need not to judge them but to give to them. However this is all gone about, God desires our obedience and for us always to act in love.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

I'm Officially Nesting!

I keep coming up with really good ideas for posts... and not writing them. :)

But part of the reason I've not blogged is I am officially nesting! At least as of yesterday. My brain just got a burst of "do this little thing... then this... then this..." and each time I would do something I'd be springing up again... Ryan and I were watching a sermon on the computer together yesterday and I was listening, but just kept getting up and Ryan was like "Why don't you stay still?" and I was like "I just can't..."

I'm on modified bed rest, but light housework is okay. I did laundry and sorted some stuff, and then boiled diapers! Yes, boiled diapers. I'm doing cloth diapers and they need to be prepped. Synthetic diapers just need to be washed once. Natural fibers more often, and prefolds 6-8 times. Prefolds are multi-layered, that's why. And if they're cotton, maybe an extra two
times. And if they're unbleached, maybe an extra two times. So that means if you have unbleached cotton prefolds they should be washed 10-12 times before the first use...

I have unbleached cotton prefolds.

HOWEVER, instead you could just BOIL them! Or rather, boil them for 10-20 minutes and then wash them once. Which I've now done with half of our prefolds. I'll get to the other half later in this week... today it was horribly, horribly hot so boiling stuff for a long time was not a great idea. Each diaper only needs to be boiled 10-20 minutes, but I couldn't do more than 4 diapers at once. And I got 24 done.

My parents generously bought us the cloth diapers we have, which will be a gift that keeps on giving as we don't have to buy diapers. We have 36 infant sized prefolds and then 10 "premium". You put prefolds on and then put a cover over them. So far we only have three covers, 1 small and 2 medium. So we need to buy more of those, but once we do we'll be set for a while. We're planning on using disposables until the meconium passes (the first few days after birth) but after that just doing cloth.

the prefold on the left has been prepped. It makes it smaller and "quilts" up,
showing an increase in absorbancy.

The week before we moved here my in-laws moved to a new apartment. They downsized from a 4 bedroom to a 2 bedroom, since they didn't need all that room with Ryan gone. My mother-in-law this week very generously gave me a ton of linens that they no longer needed. Like a ton. Sheets, curtains, some hand towels, and such. Thing is I have absolutely no where to store it. We have the space. Square footage wise we're doing well. But we just don't have the storage furniture. So we went from only having a box and a half left to unpack to now having two duffel bags and two and a half boxes to find spaces for... and I think I probably only have unassigned storage space for maybe a quarter of that. So we're going to have to figure that out.

That's driving the nesting part of me nuts. I want to do something with it... but I also just can't. When I was going into a frenzy with a lot of it the other day I exhausted myself. I am still on modified bed rest. I'm not sure if I "over did it" or if I just "did it" since I did rest as soon as I realized I was exhausted, but it wiped me out. Then today it was oppressively hot.

It's been hot everyday, I don't mean to imply otherwise. It's been at least 90 degrees. But today felt the hottest yet. According to the temperature it wasn't, that was actually this past Sunday where it got to be like 99 to 100 degrees, but today was 95 and muggy. Which is far harder to handle than dry heat. And we don't have the air conditioning installed yet, so obviously that's got me wiped out as well. Ryan and I were trying to sleep through the heat of the day and kept waking up from being too hot. I think it was my sweat waking me up, my head felt like I'd leaned back into a puddle.

And then, it's third trimester time. And I just can't do stuff I used to... I was trying to think of simple stuff I could do today. I started doing some of it and found it too challenging. Far too much stuff in this house is low. Like cabinets that are just off the floor. I honestly can't really bend down to get in there with any ease and I think soon not at all. Yet except two wardrobes and the (smaller) upper cabinets in the kitchen ALL the storage space we do have is low. This was not well thought out. Haha. I really just can't bend over to do that anymore and crouching down is very difficult as well.

Then I was thinking well, we have all these new linens and they're all clean, I should change the sheets on our bed... and then I realized all the leaning over and pulling of stuff that would entail and realized I really needed help. Plus, it's low. Like we have a super low practically Japanese style bed. Sigh. I actually have never been a big fan of the height (Ryan likes it though) but it's been really hard lately. I can get into bed, but today I had Ryan help pull me out of it... I have to basically roll off awkwardly onto my ankles that nearly buckle now if he's not around. And I've still got a while to go in this pregnancy.

I really can't think of anything I can do right now that doesn't involve bending, crouching or standing for a long time (which the doctor doesn't want me to do.) So my nesting instincts are freaking out because I just want to do, do, do stuff... but I can't. I just don't have the ability without help right now.

And when I try to ask Ryan to help me this past week he says he's too tired. And he is working, so I am sympathetic, but giving me 20-30 minutes would make such a difference. Because if he'd just do the bending over part I could do the rest! Hopefully I can get him to help me again soon. I got him to help me last week for half an hour and it was great... that's when we got down to only a box and a half left. But since then his mom gave us the linens and I think we both feel overwhelmed again.

I do know he definitely thinks I should be able to do more than I can. He keeps asking me to get stuff for him, make stuff for him, etc. And I do what I can, but I just have to say no sometimes. And he hates it. And I hate it for having to tell him no. Sigh. But I am still on bed rest, albeit modified. If I did everything he wishes I'd do I'd probably have worn myself out and gone into labor last month!

Not that I'm saying he's totally insensitive about it, just clueless. Especially regarding how much harder it's getting to move as pregnancy progresses. Stuff that was easy not very long ago, like getting out of a chair, is hard now. But it wasn't a short time ago. And I don't look that different to him, so I can see why he's not yet adjusted his expectations.

The big thing that the doctor has told me to watch out for is pressure. When she moved me to modified bed rest basically what she said was "don't overdue it and at the first sign of pressure, lie down." And unfortunately it's taking less and less to get me to a point of feeling pressure. Which makes sense since baby is getting bigger and heavier.

Still I feel good about getting done the stuff I did yesterday. I prepped half the pre-folds, organized kitchen cabinets, and got two loads of laundry (aside from the prefolds) done. That's a lot for me lately and it felt good to finally make progress.

But I definitely can feel it today!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Scripture Sunday, Week 9

This is the ninth part of an ongoing series going through 1 Thessalonians. The first part can be
found here.

"As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." -1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

"As for other matters, brothers and sisters, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living." I find the first verse here really moving. The phrase "live in order to please God" is really something we all need to keep in mind everyday. That's the goal. Not to please man, certainly not to please ourselves, but to please God. There is so much freedom in that! Paul and the other apostles have clearly felt in their earlier discipleship work with the Thessalonians they helped teach them how to do that, and affirm that the Thessalonians are indeed doing it.

"Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more." Yes, I know that I want to learn to live to please God more and more. And what this verse says is that this is accomplished in the Lord Jesus. That is we don't please Him through ourselves but through the power of the mysterious unity that happens between the believer, with the Spirit in dwelling, and the Lord Jesus who takes us in Himself. We need to be more and more in Jesus, aware of our oneness and dwelling with Him, and in this we will please Him more and more.

"For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. It is God’s will that you should be sanctified" The apostles are referring to earlier teachings as "instructions [given] by the authority of the Lord Jesus" that is to say that those teachings are from God. Then they say something very promising, that it is God's will the Thessalonians (and we can infer all Christians) be sanctified. What a glorious promise! So how does that happen?

"that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister." The Greco-Roman empire of the time was very sexually corrupt, much like modern society. Therefore Paul and the other apostles know that they must urge quite openly that sexual immorality be avoided, and that is not something that has passed away. We are to learn to control our bodies, something I think most of us can attest that our bodies resist. But as a Spirit led people, and not a worldly people, we are called to be holy and honorable. Paul quite blatantly calls the 'pagans' a people with 'passionate lust.' We don't have talk about anything graphic to see that the world hasn't changed, we can just looked at the cover of magazines! I know my own struggles in this area, as does God and Ryan (who as my husband I do trust to openly discuss this with, though yes, it can get awkward.) I think the world that we are in is always at odds with this, feeding our lust with not only the images that most Christians acknowledge are making this world a hard place, but also the stories and mindsets of so much around us. Why is it like that? Well as Paul says these people who promote sexual immorality are those "who do not God." I think we should pause and dwell on that for a second. So often I see Christians struggling with sexual immorality lashing out at those who do not know God for the sin of tempting them instead of taking responsibility that they, who do know God, were not strong enough to walk away and repenting.

The next statement in the above passage "and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister" really shows the true corruption of sexual immorality. That is, acting in lust generally de-humanizes and always causes harm, both to the person at fault and the other. In sexual immorality we can really harm not only ourselves but also others, and Paul apparently is concerned the Thessalonians might harm each other by taking sexual advantage. We see that kind of sin playing out in the pastor and priest sex scandals that are brought too light far too often. We also see it less publicly when it's not a pastor or other in authority but it still happens in the church amongst the congregation.

"The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit."  These verses make no mistake about it, these sins are grave indeed. The Lord promises punishment upon the sexually immoral, because as I said before they cause harm on themselves and on others. In addition, it is a total act of disobedience, reason enough for punishment. Paul says "God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." This is truth, and it is also a reason to rejoice. For God would not call us without providing a way. So if you're struggling with sexual immorality, repent and ask the Spirit to lead you to His holy life He's planned for you. In the act of repentence you're not "reject[ing] this instruction" and therefore aren't rejecting God. But if you're a Christian who knows you're guilty and don't pray for help from God to change your path you're rejecting God, as Paul says "the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit." Let those not guilty of this sin stay that way, and those are struggling with it choose the path of repentance.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Of Heat, Heat, and Drumming

The yowls of Princess Panchali fill my home as she endures another day of being in heat.* I think it's starting to ease though (we hope! we hope!) as she's starting to be more easily distracted from her bellowing.

Speaking of heat, the temperature has risen dramatically once again. Sunday is supposed to be 100 degrees
Ryan "caught" soothing the frazzled Princess;
cuddling one of us (Ryan, Vex or I) is one of the few
things that seems to temporarily shut her up. lol
according to the weather app on my phone... which has definitely been known to be wrong but I don't think it will be this time. I thank God for industrial strength Indian ceiling fans, since our ac has still not been installed.

Ryan's sleeping away in the bedroom right now because he has work tonight. We should be finding out about his next schedule shift soon. Normally they change his hours every 5 weeks or so but he's been doing this shift for probably 9 weeks now? I am hoping it's a favorable shift as this timing has been 11pm to 8am, which is hard for him.

I went for blood and urine tests today. Routine stuff: glucose, thyroid levels (I've hypothyroidism), hemoglobin, etc. I'm glad I'm being monitored from a health perspective, but still annoying.

Wow, guys something exciting just happened! ... And then I feel lame saying that because it's not really that exciting. I hear cool Indian drums approaching so I look out to see what it was (I'm thinking maybe a wedding procession?) A bunch of guys in Domino's (yes the pizza chain) uniform are running around, running up to houses. It looked like they were passing stuff out and might come to my door and I was not fully clothed (it's hot) so I throw my clothes on and when I come back the drums have passed my house and I failed to get a picture for you.

I did however get a buy one pizza get another free coupon, haha. Still the exciting part is not the coupon but the Indian drumming. You don't get that happening in South Carolina. I really had grabbed my cell phone (still can't find my camera!) to snap a photo for the blog, but missed my window of opportunity.

Blessedly the drums did seem to distract Princess as well though, so she's taken a break from yowling at the moment. Yay!*

*Before anyone says anything, yes, we do hope to spay Princess. But calling to get quotes it's over half our rent and actually translating rupees to dollars it's pricier than I could get it done the US and Ryan makes a lot less than a US salary. Baby comes before fur babies, so Princess will have to wait some months, sadly. Vex is neutered though, so we don't have to worry about incestuous kittens and since they're strictly indoor only she shouldn't have opportunities to meet any other potential mates. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

2 Months to Go and Yarn Along!

Okay, in India it's April 3rd but Ryan's days off are Tuesday and Wednesday and I rarely get online when he is home. However in America it's still April 2nd which means I have two months (or less!) to go before my due date!

I actually started on crocheting something for the baby! I had been trying to come up with something to make for the baby but had been blanking. I think mainly psychologically but also I've just never made anything for a baby besides blankets and I already have one of those. And when I really thought about it I realized that I probably won't be able to use much I would crochet right away anyway because well, this baby is due in the midst of summer in India. It gets up to 115 degrees. Most crocheted things would be too hot.

I'm on several forums for pregnant women and they've been discussing "coming home" outfits for the babies. Honestly, I hadn't really cared or given it much thought but seeing people discussing it I thought "what will I choose?" I have about a dozen onesies given as gifts, so I had figured I'd just pick a cute gender neutral one to bring:



And then I figured if was a girl I could crochet a little headband to put on her and put a flower on it! So I did:


There's the headband, but when I went to make the flower I didn't like it on it. So I still need to make another flower, but I just haven't gotten around to it yet. I think I need to watch a tutorial on youtube or something. I didn't dislike the flower I did end up making, I just didn't think it looked good on the headband, however:



I did think it looked good on this hat I made myself last fall! :) 

As for reading I've been devouring books on my e-reader. I'm currently working on the Widow of Larkspur Inn and enjoying it!




Monday, March 31, 2014

Scripture Sunday, Week 8

This is the eighth part of an ongoing series going through 1 Thessalonians. The first part can be found here.

"Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." - 1 Thessalonians 3:10-13

This section is a bit of prayer. It starts out as a statement, but transitions into lifting up the Thessalonians to the Lord. "Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith." Paul and the others were turning to God with the desire of their heart to help the Thessalonians in their faith, and to see them. These passages make clear that they generally cared and loved their family of the Thessalonian church. I think it was probably reassuring and humbling for the Thessalonians to know that they are being prayed over, and that the power of God was being unleashed their way through the prayers of the apostles so that their faith would lack nothing.

"Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you." This is not the first time that the wish to see the Thessalonians has been expressed in this letter and this makes clear that Paul and the others are working in obedience. If they were only going by their own desires they would be accompanying this letter to Thessalonica, but instead they are praying for God to make the way.

"May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you" I'd loved this prayed over me. I'd love for the Love of God to be my love and to overflow for everyone, as God intends. I think is the will of God for all of us, in all things, and so I pray it over you, readers. Paul and the others also take this time to both affirm their love for the Thessalonians as well include that love in this prayer, that is, if they are sincere in the prayer for the love to be overflowing from the Thessalonians then it follows that the love should also be flowing from the apostles to the Thessalonians.

"May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones." 'Strengthen your hearts'; the phrase makes me pause. I don't know about you but I've far too often heard Christians, especially evangelical ones, say don't trust your hearts they are deceitful based on Jeremiah 17:9. However other verses in the Bible, such as this one, suggest the role of the heart in man is likely as complicated as the feelings the heart gives us way to experience. This would likely be good fodder for an in depth Bible study on the nature of human's hearts, but for now I am just praying for my own heart to be strengthened, as well as your own, so we can be blameless and holy in God's presence. 

The last part of the last verse in today's selection refers to the Second Coming, reminding us of the truth that this world is temporary. He is Coming again and all this will pass. 
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