I've enjoyed many blessings over these last few days. The first one that comes to mind is watermelon. Yes, I'm still loving watermelon and will be honest and tell you that I've eaten at least 3/4 of an entire watermelon in the last 24 hours. Not one single bite has been eaten by my children, who, fortunately, have forgotten about the big round fruit I put in the buggy yesterday. Its just so happens that I cut it after they were in bed and, coincidentally, they are never anywhere around when I pull it out of the frig for another bite. Strange how that's happened.

I am under the impression, and have been for years, that watermelon is virtually calorie-free. It's like eating water with a tiny bit of sweetness added in, which is obviously good for you because water and fruit are good for you. I've heard of a watermelon diet, so I can only assume that a food that has its very own diet where you eat as much of it as you want has to be like eating nothing at all. Please, as a pregnant woman, I am begging you not to tell me if you have any information that would burst my little watermelon bubble. The backfat that I'm acquiring with this pregnancy is weighing heavily on my mind (and my back) and if I find that watermelon is adding to the problem, I don't know what I'll do.

In between my watermelon eating, I've been blessed with the presence of my brother and his wife during their visit from Texas. It's just great to hang out with them (and my parents) and have fun. We don't really have to do anything spectacular to have a good time, and the kids just love them. As Jack was going to bed tonight, he said, "I have really great aunts. Not the kind like 'ants in the pants,' but the kind that are people." He is very confident of the fact that his Aunt Emily loves to play with him, and will remind her of that fact anytime it looks like her energy might be waning. We've basically eaten lots of food, looked at very cute houses that we will never be able to afford, played at the park, looked at not-as-cute houses that they might be able to afford, and just hung out. I'm just so thankful to have family that I would choose to be friends with even if they weren't family. Pretty awesome.

Oh, and I cannot leave out one HUGE blessing. Another Bond Boy in our family. Yes, the great unveiling revealed, not so suprisingly, that Maddie and I will be completely outnumbered in our family. She was momentarily disappointed, but we have assured her that her status as Princess is secure and she will forever have her own room. (That is, unless the boys refuse to sleep with Baby around, forcing me to locate him in the room with the child who can sleep through a freight train.) I have to admit, I totally expected a boy but was hoping for a girl. The main reason I wanted a girl was simply to be able to buy cute clothes. Is there not someone out there who can design and make simple, cute clothes for boys that I would not have to take out another mortgage on my house to purchase? Is it really that hard? I cannot tell you the frustration of walking into a huge store, sprinting past 1/2 mile of girl clothes while trying not to peek at them with longing in my heart, only to arrive at the two racks of boy clothes and finding three shirts with monster trucks, multiple pairs of tiny athletic pants, hideous muscle shirts covered in pictures of every sport ever played and one tolerable shirt with blue stripes on it. In the scheme of life, not a big deal, but one that seems like it would have a relatively easy solution. So, one of you out there, get right on that, please.

Seriously, though, we're blessed to have another boy headed our way, and I'll do my darndest to dig through all those racks of clothes out there to find the one cute thing he can wear. I was very relieved and thankful to receive a report of a healthy little guy growing and developing just as he should be. It's just indescribably amazing to see five little fingers and five little toes show up on that ultrasound screen, to hear that little heart pounding away, to see him wiggling and moving around in there, and to see the sweet profile of a boy who is already near and dear to his mama's heart. Thank you, Lord, for another miracle.

These are just a few of the blessings I've been showered with over the last couple of days, and only a drop in the bucket when you count all the gifts God has given me over the last 33 years of my life on this earth. But, as I was walking this morning, I was reminded that they are only a shadow. Each good and perfect gift from above is only a reflection or small indication of the one true blessing in our lives. God Himself. God, the Creator, gave us things and blessings for our "sustenance and delight." As Tozer says in The Pursuit of God, "They were made for man's uses, but they were meant always to be external to the man and subservient to him. In the deep heart of the man was a shrine where none but God was worthy to come." But, once sin entered the picture, "God's gifts now take the place of God, and the whole course of nature is upset by the monstrous substitution." So, my overarching struggle in life seems to always come back to how to enjoy God's gifts without idolizing them. So often, if I'm honest with myself, I desire the gifts more than I desire the Giver.

Sadness truly enters the picture when I admit that I'm just not willing to go through what it takes to be poor in spirit. "These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of possessing, they yet possess all things." I know that I have the kingdom of heaven to gain, but it's just so hard to relinquish this earthly "kingdom" I've created for myself. For the moment, there is no huge question of surrender in my life, but the question of surrender is always present in our lives. Do I truly worship only the One True God?

Abraham did. I've brought him up before in another post, but his story is just so applicable to so many things. He was to the point of idolizing God's gift of Isaac rather than worshiping God alone. So, God brought Abraham to the point of total surrender of his earthly possessions, namely his beloved son. But, once Abraham walked through that terrible trial of surrender, "he was a man wholly surrendered, a man utterly obedient, a man who possessed nothing. He had everything (wife, friends, son, great wealth), but he possessed nothing. There is the spiritual secret. There is the sweet theology of the heart which can be learned only in the school of renunciation...We must in our hearts live through Abraham's harsh and bitter experiences if we would know the blessedness which follows them." It's this harsh school of renunciation that I'm just not willing to enter, yet something in me does long for the blessedness of possessing nothing but Christ. For I know that, in this surrender, comes freedom. Think of it: Freedom from jealousy, freedom from discontentment, freedom from unsatisfied longings, freedom from fear, for when we possess nothing but Christ, we have nothing to lose.

I don't know of many American Christians who have really attained this poverty of spirit, for we possess so many things that it is harder for us to let go. Those who have arrived at this goal are those who have lost much and had nothing to cling to but Jesus. This whole issue is something that God has been working out in my heart for years, and really is the root of all other issues. It goes back to the greatest commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. One simple commandment, but complete obedience to it can be very difficult. So, I will be grateful for the blessings, but continue to cry out to God to bring me to the point where I pursue Him with such fervor, passion, and desperation, that the attainment of His presence and power in my life are worth forsaking all.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all Those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there withou a rival. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there.

--A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God


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