Aside

“Do all things without grumbling or complaining.” Phil. 2:14

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Right now my husband is reading the book “Unbroken” aloud to me. It’s slow going since he is usually buried in homework at night, but we have already made it about halfway through. It’s about some pilots in WW2 whose plane crashes in the Pacific, where they float for 40 days surviving unfathomable odds. And let me just say that it is truly hard to fathom what they live through. Starvation, unrelenting thirst, constant shark attacks, and the fear of losing their minds are just some of the excruciating horror they have faced. And that’s only the beginning.

We’ve just started the next section where they are captured by the Japanese as prisoners of war. I knew this part was coming – I’d been dreading it for days. I shudder to think of what is in store for these guys at the hands of their ruthless enemies.

Anyway, it’s a hard book for me to listen to. It’s just so awful, I sometimes have to stop Elliot from reading it because I just can’t stand to imagine how much these guys are suffering. The horror they have had to endure so far has brought me to tears. So it’s not surprising that after the last chapter he read, I blurted out “Wow, we have nothing to complain about.”

You see, I had had a pretty complainy day. For most of it, I hadn’t given much thought to my complaining. And when I had realized it, I felt justified in my frustrations. However, when we read Unbroken, it dawned on me – I really have nothing to complain about. These men who were faced with heart wrenching pain and suffering never once complained. They have taken the hardships that come their way with courage and perseverance, and I have yet to see them throw in the towel even once.

I sit here on a nice soft couch, my husband next to me, the soothing hum of the dryer in the background. My evening most likely holds the last of the cookies followed by a long night of peaceful sleep. At worst, I will find that, lo and behold, the last of the cookies has been eaten, and my sleep may be interrupted by an occasional bad dream. Oh! I can just see my mind flitting to a sea of complaints.

CS Lewis said, “Hell begins with a grumbling mood, always complaining, always blaming others… but you are still distinct from it. You may even criticize it in yourself and wish you could stop it. But there may come a day when you can no longer. Then there will be no you left to criticize the mood or even to enjoy it, but just the grumble itself, going on forever like a machine. It is not a question of God “sending us” to hell. In each of us there is something growing, which will BE hell unless it is nipped in the bud.”

The pilots in “Unbroken” were definitely masters at not complaining, and I hope that I too learn to master it myself.

 

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What We Learned

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Our little Dickison girl gave Elliot and me quite the scare a few days ago. She seems to want to come into the world a little too early. Of course, she doesn’t know that it’s better for her to stay in me right now, but I only realized what she was up to early Monday morning.

I began having a lot of painful contractions that seemed too close together, and after timing them for an hour, things didn’t look any better. We immediately called the hospital, and they told us we’d better head in for monitoring. So, grabbing some sweats and Dove chocolates (and with fearful hearts), we whisked away to the hospital for a very scary adventure.

Here’s what we learned over the next few days full of monitoring, medications, steroids, and one tiny girl’s consistent heartbeat. We learned how much we need God. For thirty weeks, pregnancy had been easy and painless for me. I knew I was fortunate and had thanked God for it. But whenever things are swimming easily along, there is always the temptation to rely on the ease of things instead of on God. And it wasn’t those “easy” thirty weeks of pregnancy that pushed me to realizing how much I need God. No, it was these last few days when things went south that did the trick.

Out of the blue, we found ourselves clueless in a dark hospital room in the middle of the night. They had me hooked up to a computer screen that showed our baby’s heart rate and movement, and another that showed each contraction. Right away, that squiggly black line went up in high waves every few minutes showing another dreaded contraction. We were both worried sick for our little girl. I was in a lot of pain, which no matter how much I prayed for God to take away, there was no relief.

Now I know there are many preterm labor stories which are much more dangerous than ours is so far. But this was the closest Elliot and I had been to wondering if our very own little girl was actually going to make it. A scary thought indeed.

I’ll never forget the dread we both felt when Elliot asked the nurse if this was common or not. She responded with a dispiriting “no.” Both our hearts sank.

So, since I didn’t have the relief from pain to rely on, we didn’t have the reassurance of a healthy baby ahead of us, nor much of a clue as to what was going on, we had to turn to Jesus. Elliot reminded me of this and pulled out his iPhone. He read his and my three most comforting Psalms – 139, 103, and 34. “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:17-18)  Our spirits were crushed, but Jesus was right then and there delivering us out of our troubles. Whether things were looking up or down, He was holding our little girl tightly in the palm of his hand.

“You don’t really know Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.” – Tim Keller

And with that lesson learned a little bit better, Elliot and I fell asleep to the comfort of our little girl’s heart beat.

Boys vs. Girls

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Ever since we found out our baby is a girl, I’ve wondered a lot about what kind of dad my husband will be with a girl. On the way home from our ultrasound, I’ll never forget him wondering aloud “But Jill, what are we going to do with a girl?” At first I was dumbfounded. “You can do anything with a girl that you can with boys!” I answered. And then it dawned on me: Elliot grew up in a family of 4 boys. His childhood was surrounded with all brothers and boyish things. They ran around rough-housing behind their house playing Cowboys and Indians. They called the hilly pine-treed area behind their house the “Outback” (and still do). Elliot has a lot of really funny stories of the fun and weird things they’d do back there in the summers. It does sound so fun to me who, unlike Elliot, grew up in a family of mostly girls. I have 1 brother and 2 sisters, and though we did find ourselves outside a lot of the time, we’d be playing things like ‘The Boxcar Children’ or ‘Mommy and Baby’ or we’d go on penny walks. I remember thinking Cowboys and Indians was so boring and boyish. But now it’s the most interesting thing in the world when Elliot talks about the things he did with his brothers. A lot of it is just so foreign to me!

So yes, I am realizing that it may be a real shocker for my husband to have a baby girl. He’s been married long enough to me to know something about girls, but raising a girl? I am fascinated to see what it’s going to be like for him.

And who knows? She’s going to be half Elliot and half me, so she may just be a tomboy in princess clothes playing in the dirt!

Our Little Dickison Girl

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Nothing has ever felt or been so miraculous for me than being pregnant. We found out about our baby on the very very normal day of October 8th. I will always remember it because it was my older sister Christy’s birthday, it was pouring and pouring rain, and I woke up that morning having the very real thought that I just might be pregnant. It was a very exciting, scary, and at the same time unbelievable feeling. I remember dropping my husband off at work (who by the way had no idea) and driving straight over to Walgreens for a pregnancy test. And yes, after taking it and waiting the exact 3 minutes for results, there it was. A tiny blue plus sign. Instantly my heart began pounding and I got a wave of excitement. How could that little plus sign know that I was pregnant? I didn’t believe it. It took 4 more pregnancy tests, several days, and my husband convincing me a hundred times for me to believe that yes, I Jill Dickison was going to have a baby.

You see, I was having a hard time believing that God is good enough and kind enough and big enough to give us a baby – the most miraculous and wonderful gift in the world. I felt undeserving. I felt like I wasn’t content enough or good enough yet to deserve such a great gift. And yet there I was, staring down at a blue plus sign – proof of His Grace apart from any “good” things I could ever do. (Of course, all of this my sweet husband constantly and patiently reminds me, when worry over our baby’s safety often gets in the way of trusting in God’s care for her). My husband is so great.

And now, 21 and 1/2 weeks later, I’ve heard and seen her tiny heart beating so many times. We’ve seen all 10 cute toes, which my husband says look abnormally long (but his and my toes are a little on the long side, so that makes sense). I’ve felt her little baby kicks, especially after eating ice cream or drinking lots of juice (both of which I can’t help myself indulging in a lot of). She will definitely be a hopeless sweet tooth like me!

God has been faithful week by week, creating this tiny baby inside of me and keeping her growing. He gives His children good gifts even when they really don’t deserve them at all. And He has a hope and a future for each one of us including our little Dickison girl.

“My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.” Psalm 139:15-16

My One True and Me in Hawaii

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My husband Elliot asked me to marry him eight months ago, and wow am I overjoyed that I said yes. Elliot is a remarkable man. Just the other day I was scrolling though some notes I’d written a few months before he asked me out. As I scrolled through the dates, I noticed a striking difference between what I’d written before we started dating as opposed to afterwards. Just a few months before we dated, one started out with this:

I don’t understand love. I don’t begin to understand how out of the millions of people every which way, a person can know who they love, and find that one person, and that one person does the exact same thing.

I think I was quite certain I would never get married.

But after we started dating, the notes got happier and happier… until the date that we got married, and then they stopped. Not surprising really. No need to write in a journal when I can tell everything to my out-of-the-blue best friend. I love you Elliot!

Races and Candy

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When we were little it was a tradition for our family to run the Bolder Boulder in Colorado together as a family. The first year we kids ran it our parents told us if we ran the whole way without walking we’d each get ten dollars. TEN DOLLARS??? I remember thinking “Wow, I can’t believe my parents would give me THAT MUCH,” because that was about a million dollars back then haha. Of course my older brother and sister and I all did it. Easily because we each got to bring a pack of candy in our fanny packs (yes I remember having one of those and I thought it was cool). I remember eating my whole bag of runts by the end of the race. Wow, oh for the days where you can run six miles just like that, eating candy the whole way! 

It’s times like these…

It’s times like these that a blog would be really really nice. I read other people’s blogs and sometimes I get jealous over their lives where everything seems to be going well and they wake up every morning on the very right side of the bed with the day perfectly planned out and a smile on their face. And then I look at my life and think that things go wrong sometimes and sometimes I wake up on the very very wrong side of the bed and I have to tell myself things like “God’s mercies are new every morning” (or more often than not my sweet husband reminds me of that). But then I think that if I just wrote about normal things that happen every day it would be just as interesting as anybody else’s days. Because I mean we all are just plain normal and Jesus died for us and He gives us normal days, whether they be of the normal-normal kind or the rare-exciting-normal kind. Some writing that’s on my older sister’s wall, which has gotten stuck in every chink of every part of my being, says:

Comparison is the Thief of Joy

So I really want a blog so that I can write and have fun writing about tiny tiny things that happen to me in this very normal life that God has given me. But normal as we all find out sooner or later is really the most interesting thing in the world.

Here’s a poem.
“The laundry basket.”
It sits in the corner of our eyes,
Minding its own business not
Even taking up much room
As it bides its time through
Comings and goings,
Spats here and there,
Smiles more often than not,
Waiting.
Till finally finally after
All is said and done we
Drift helplessly over to its
knowing shadow.
And we fold.
Ok, what’s more normal than a laundry basket??!?!?!?!?!