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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

THE BALL IS IN YOUR COURT

(James, Seth, and Nathaniel.  I pray they grow to spread the
Good News together and/or wherever they may live)

Sometimes, it can be hard to understand the phenomenon of when a “ball is passed into someone else's court.”  An illustration:

You: Hey, you want to hang out?

Other: Sure!  Let me get back to you!

You (significant time later): Sooo...how does Wed or Thur look for you?

Other: __________ (no response)

Now, I know people (friends or family) get busy, lose their phones, forget, or possibly, and hopefully the most unlikely scenario, are purposefully avoiding you.  But, for the purpose of this discussion, let’s assume this occurs multiple times.  For clarification, I have been the perpetrator and unintentionally forgotten to respond after some time, but in being receiver and the person on the waiting end, I can definitely say that waiting for the ball to be passed back is the hardest part.  So much so that it is tempting to assume the worst about people.  So, here is what God is teaching me about assuming the best:

Acts 2: 42-47 The Fellowship of the Believers

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

One of my first thoughts after reading this was that I don't think God is saying you have to be in fellowship with every believer within a 10 mile radius.  Heck, the church I go to is over 1000 people!  My direct family ALONE is 25! However, the reality is that building relationships does involve a metaphorical passing back and forth of the ball. This “passing” creates the opportunities for us to actually spend time with one another and enjoy the fellowship that we have. 

Now, have I met people along the way, been in fellowship for a time, and gone our separate ways? Yep.  Many times.  I also recognize that I won't enjoy or have commonalities with everyone, and that's ok.

But, I also am confident that the Lord created relationships for a purpose, and not just to spend time together.  One of the purposes is for us to encourage one another so that we can “Go and make disciples of ALL nations...." Matthew 28:19.  Our fellowship together can be balanced and can equip us to carry out the purpose of our lives – to share the gospel and be representations of Christ to others. 

I say all that to say this. Relationships are extremely helpful in our walk with the Lord.  They help us be encouraged, see our flaws, and help move us towards being better at sharing and living the Gospel.  So, when you have passed the ball into someone else’s court, be patient.  Trust the Lord, search your heart, keep on encouraging them, and keep on trying to connect with others.  We are not called to assume the worst, but to “have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind.” 1 Peter 3: 8.

Christmas is next week- talk about a great opportunity to be in fellowship!  I encourage you to boldly, yet gently, open some conversations with family members who aren't believers or believers that you may have unresolved conflicts.

 
(good friends of ours fellowshipping with us in celebration of Nathaniel turning 1)
 
 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The difference between hearing and processing

(Nathaniel "processing" Hickory Dickory Dock)

I was reading in Revelation this morning, finished a chapter, and got maybe one thought out of it.
Sure, Revelation isn't an easy read, but aren't I just wasting my time and making it less appealing to read my Bible every day if I can't remember a thing from it?
My Dad use to ask me weekly "have you read your Bible lately?" followed up by "what did you learn?" in which I learned quickly that the two are supposed to go together.  Now being married, David and I try to do the same thing, but there's something to be said about the loving authority my Dad provided that put a little more kick in the pants to get on it!

All this got me thinking about when I listen to speakers, or even friends sharing a story, do I always process what they're saying?  Or do I zone out sometimes and pick up the gist of it? (friends, it's usually not intentional, I promise! You can't say you haven't done the same :P)

Ex 1- "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" Rev 7:10.  It belongs to Him?  This is one of the verses I originally skimmed over.  However, having highlighted at some point in the past, I revisited it realizing I wasn't fully sure what it was saying.
Salvation is defined by the Bible as being saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. Soooo it belongs to Him because it was made possible by Him.  Of course, believing and walking by faith is a choice we make and we can be thankful that a loving God who has power over everything, also has the power to forgive us of our sins.

Ex 2- Making bread.  You can't skim the recipe and expect to know exactly how to make it.  I have a friend who gave me an amazing bread recipe(you're welcome!), and unless you pay attention to the details of how long you let it rise, how much of each ingredient, etc....you will have a complete fail.
Now I have the recipe memorized, and I am even able to branch out with adding new ingredients to make it more flavorful!  But just like our relationship with God, we can't expect to know how to live like Christ by half listening.  We have to be willing to learn.  Focus.  Desire to know Him, even if that means we have to change to see Christ "more flavorfully" (new word?). 
(a slice of the amazing bread is part of a balanced diet ;))


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

12 Things I am glad they did or wish someone had told me before having Nathaniel

 
 
1.* Nap when he naps, and let others do the cooking and cleaning.
 
2.  Have a song/lullaby/hum to sing to your baby to sleep.  Ideally singing it while they're in you so they recognize it, but it's more to add to their routine and keep you sane.  I sing "In Christ Alone" for naps and "Dream Train"(family song) for bed.
 
3. Buy a bunch of reusable breast pads-they're so small, they can go in any wash of clothes, and they save money!
 
4.  Do NOT be afraid/ashamed to ask for help!  It truly takes a village...that's gotta be in the Bible somewhere...hah!  And this includes asking the husband.  He may have no clue what to do, but if you make him part of a routine (he changes the diaper, passes the baby to you, you feed, he rocks to sleep) it will make him feel useful in this crazy change of pace.
 
5. Practice writing and signing their name at least a couple times.  It is really awkward trying to sign a name at the doctor's office when the only other time you write in cursive is your own name.
 
6.* Make an effort to take a bath (and then a shower if you feel nasty) every day.
 
7. Put something over their "spicket" while changing diapers, and for boys point it down as you go to put the diaper on to be sure he doesn't pee out the side.
 
8. Breastfeeding can be boring.  I learned to use my phone with one hand, and have plenty of TV shows to watch while stuck in a chair feeding.  It's also good to have distraction from the soreness/pain.
 
9.*  Start having a date night with your spouse as soon as you're up for leaving them a couple hours.  I can't stress the importance of getting out, even when it doesn't seem worth the hassle.  A babysitter is worth it, so add that to your budget or take turns watching someone else's kid.
 
10.  As much as you want all the cute stuff, being prepared for them is much more simple than what  BabysRUs wants you to register for.  A car seat, place for them to sleep, some diapers, and a couple outfits are the basics if you're breastfeeding.  And hopefully you have friends you can borrow stuff from since you never know if your child will love/hate that $100 swing.  But more than likely you won't take my word for it and you'll be returning things just like I did :P.
 
11. Babies cry for a reason.  It's their ONLY way of communicating with you, so consider it healthy and try to solve the puzzle.  Sometimes it's as simple as needing to pass gas, or it could be they're over-tired making it that much harder to get them to sleep and stop crying.  The key is to not stress yourself out from it, and know you're NOT spoiling them by holding them and keeping them from crying.  Who can blame them for loving being in your arms where they can hear the heartbeat they've heard for 40+/- weeks, and the temperature is just right?
 
 
 
12. It's ok to spit up!  It's usually a sign that either they drank too much, something wasn't sitting well with them, or they're not feeling well...usually. Don't worry about making up for food lost- it's the baby's body's "I don't want that part" reaction.  Note, throw up is totally different.
 
 
*=I was graced with this knowledge beforehand

 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Holding to hopelessness

 
(photo taken by Leigh and Becca - LeighandBecca.com)
 
Observation: Complaining creates a deep hole of self pity that makes seeing Christ's love incredibly difficult.  We lose sight of Christ and our mission to love one another, and create a cycle where we only focus on ourselves and our discomfort/displeasure/discontentment. 
 
14 "Do everything without grumbling or arguing, 15 so that you may become blameless and pure, 'children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.' Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. And then I will be able to boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor in vain." Philippians 2

Growing up, my Dad would always sing the verse-inspired song "a joyful heart makes a cheerful face (3x), do you HAVE a cheerful face?!" in which he'd get real close to our faces and usually tickle us until we did have a cheerful face. However, if we were set on being grumpy, he also would conversationally quote Phil 2:14 because the song only worked if we were partially grumpy. So I guess you could say it's a pet peeve of mine to hear someone complain- it's not shining like a star for Christ, it's holding to perceived hopelessness! 

Take Job for example:
“I loathe my very life;
    therefore I will give free rein to my complaint
    and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.
 I say to God: Do not declare me guilty,
    but tell me what charges you have against me.
3Does it please you to oppress me,
    to spurn the work of your hands,
    while you smile on the plans of the wicked."



I admire his honesty with God.  But it's with God.  Our complaining to each other or ourselves is not beneficial (there is a difference between complaining and sharing your pains with someone for help or prayer).  Job obviously was crying out to God because He is the only one that can do something about it.  Our daily situations generally have something to do with our actions (or complacency), and we have to choose whether we are going to listen to and live for Christ or stay in "woe is me" land.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.  Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other."1 Thessalonians 5:10-13

Building up and loving on those that are working hard; for you this could be your career, tending the yard, changing a diaper, spiritually encouraging one another, etc.. Building also requires a strong foundation.  If we want to grow, we have to be willing to take healthy criticism and challenge ourselves while living in Christ's hope for our lives.  A joyful heart in all we do isn't easy, but man oh man will it allow for Christ's light to shine!

"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do all this through him who gives me strength." Philippians 4:12-13



 
 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Balancing relationships


Choices:
  • Spend time in the Word or take a nap
  • Clean the house or play with Nathaniel
  • Watch a TV show or talk with David
  • Stay home or hang out with a friend
When Nathaniel was exactly 6 weeks old, I went back to work part time.  I would breastfeed him right before I left, think about him while I was working, and think about work when I was with him.  I applaud you Moms who have the ability to keep up with work and also have an infant, but I was running on fumes. I felt like I was always making it a big deal to decide between showing Nathaniel attention or something work related that I found pressing. 

Now that I'm a stay-at-home mom, I'm starting to see that making difficult choices with my time has not disappeared.  Even though I learned to do a million two handed or squatting activities while he was sleeping or super happy (i.e. cutting things up for dinner, taking a shower, cleaning the bathroom, putting clothes on, etc.), I found that much of his contentment probably had a lot to do with him being held or in an infant-carrier on me.  I tried to let him do laundry, but, if you can see the picture, he is still getting the hang of it :), but at least he likes it -"Happy baby leads to happy Mom!"

Despite my multitasking during his periods of contentment, I had to learn what the Bible says about the choices I make and what is worth prioritizing in many moments. For example:
  • Naps are amazing, but am I making sure to find rest in the Lord as well?
    • Psalm 4:8
  • I have to have a clean house so Nathaniel doesn't eat unknown things, but am I making sure to appreciate and love on Nathaniel as he grows at this oober fast pace?
    • Ephesians 6:4
  • Everyone needs time to relax, but can I not also find relaxation in hanging out with David?
    • Song of Songs
  • It's important to not overdo yourself and give your child(ren) somewhat a routine, but God also calls us to be in fellowship with one another and not let our fears get in the way of walking in faith. 
    • Matthew 18:20
Now...take Nathaniel Trick or Treating, or hang out with friends? Or both?!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pain

"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." - C.S. Lewis' work, The Problem of Pain.

We should have the mindset of doing things FOR His glory, even in the pain (1 Corinthians 10:31). Pain is so commonly thought of as a bad thing. No one wants or likes the burn from mouthwash, get half a nights rest, or go through labor pains!  (Quite a spectrum I gave you, huh?)  But what would life be without pain than for us to appreciate the pleasures?  If Jesus was like "ummm...I don't want to go through that whole nailed to a cross thing, so just beam me up God, and wash them of their sins" what kind of example would that be? He knew the impact it would make on our souls, and BECAUSE He loves us He went through that!  This is not easy for me to grasp.  Those late nights when Nathaniel was a few weeks old and nothing was putting him to sleep, I was pushed to some serious limits of patience and exhaustion.  I had a hard time sometimes even remembering that my lack of patience, was, well, mine.  It was not Nathaniel's fault!  He was a newborn simply trying to say he was hungry or that he needed comfort.  When I started to become frustrated, that's when I stopped trusting God and leaning on His definition of rest.

Our culture suggests that as long as we are logically justified, we may do what we please and think as we please and that we are beyond reproach.  This logical justification we engage in involves us saying things to ourselves like, well "this situation is bad, so I should feel frustrated, and since I should feel frustrated, I am right to act and live in my frustration.  I mean, if I don't then I'm not being true to myself, right?"  The biggest issue with this is that, this is not the model Christ gave us.  I bet that once he started getting spat on and beat on, He could have said "ain't nobody got time for this," and just changed his circumstance because He was frustrated.  But He did not.  He used the pain as the representation of the physical torment that we deserve for our own sin and injustice.  His pain had purpose, and I think it's time we noticed that our pain does as well. 

This brings me to another point that I have been thinking about - da da dumm....natural child birth versus epidurals.  As some of you know, I opted to give birth to Nathaniel naturally.  Why didn't I bother with an epidural you may ask? I mean we kind of see it like having a headache and not taking Tylenol.  Why would you do that?  My reason is this, I wanted to experience God in a way I never have before.  Here is my ultimate opportunity to tell Him I love Him with all that I have, that I was willing to endure whatever it took.  Now, please understand, this was a very personal decision for me, and you may not be at a place in your relationship in Christ where it is even necessary or appropriate.  Maybe other circumstances have granted you an immense physical opportunity to really put your fears, heck, your life in God.

Point is, for those of you on the fence, I want to give you an encouragement to see this as opportunity.  Pray, and consider what the Lord is telling you.  The Lord completely blew my mind and immediately prepared my heart to depend on Him like never before.   Honestly, the verses in 1 Peter and Romans that encourage us to rejoice in our sufferings had never been so real.

Now, for those of you who may have had epidurals, cesarean sections, or the like, in fear/concern of a painful or potentially complicated childbirth, please know that I am, in no way, out to judge you.  I just see natural childbirth as one of the MANY, but somehow incredibly unique (I mean, men can't experience this...right? haha) opportunities for women here on earth to really experience the love and power of Christ in an extremely intimate way. 

(Nathaniel squished himself behind these toys and couldn't get out.  He is very good at showing a face of pain or discomfort)

P.S. There are some sources that you may also want to consider on epidurals, cesarean sections, etc., that I actually found helped me make my decision to give birth naturally.  You may want to consider them.
Every underlined word is it's own link to documentation:
1. 33% of births in 2012 were cesarean
2. Risks of epidurals ... many risks.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Perspective

Growing up I recall several occasions where I would learn something new and anytime I saw this new knowledge take place/be spoken I would pay attention to make sure it was precisely as I was educated.  For example, cars turning left at a light are to yield to cars turning right down the same road unless the right turners have a yield sign.  There are too many people who do not know this or do not obey this traffic rule. 
 Or a more theological example, since Christ is knocking on the door of our hearts (Matthew 7:7), we are not asking Jesus to live in our hearts and lives; we are accepting. He is omnipresent and does not need us to believe in Him.  He exists and is God all without our help, but He offers this free gift to us if we repent (see our crap, and turn AWAY from it) and turn to Christ.
*steps down from podium*
 
All that to say, I didn't learn these things when I was born. "You learn something new every day." Right?  My problem is when I learn something, I either judge those that haven't learned it yet, or simply think it's bizarre that people of certain age or experience don't know certain things. 
 
-"You think eating only a couple pieces of junk food a day will help you lose weight more than meals with fruits and vegetables?"
-"Have you done any research on breastfeeding? World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding up to 2 years as that is how long they can benefit from it. It also will help you lose weight, decrease your chances of breast cancer, and the list goes on…. " http://www.who.int/topics/breastfeeding/en/
-"The Bible says 'Spare the rod, spoil the child.' Proverbs 13:24, so we are disobeying God in assuming that our power to reason (by just choosing not to spank) supersedes the perfect plan of God. Granted, it is the responsibility of the parent to know they must be the reflection of Christ as they discipline be sure in their heart they are not doing so anger –which is incredibly challenging (more on this later….).
 
If you noticed, as my short list progressed, things became a bit deeper.  However, I tend to forget that the deeper things took time for me to learn, and by thinking that all people have not come to the same conclusion really limits my belief that God is all powerful and is in the process of writing all of our stories, should we give him the pen.  Regardless of what people know, or are learning, only He has the right perspective on EVERYTHING.  We as humans only have the right perspectives when we listen to Him and follow His answers.  Even then we are human; if we follow His steps in one area, doesn't mean we will choose to love people in another.
 
I am working on how to share what God has shown me with those around me, while also expressing that I want them to biblically explore things because I care about them.  Even if they come to different conclusions than me, just to know that we can talk things in light of what the Lord has shown us really helps us encourage one another. For example, if God is telling you that spanking your child is probably not a good idea, because maybe you struggle with anger, then this isn’t a matter of right or wrong, this is a matter of having something for others to pray for you about and not carrying that burden alone. 
 
God has different ways of doing things for different people, so just because He told me one thing doesn't mean He is going to tell someone else to do it the same way.  EVERY decision we make should be backed up by Christ, by the Bible, and lots of prayer. Do I always do this? Nope. But on huge decisions like becoming a Christian, how to give birth, or even what car to buy.....my goal is to pray hard, seek guidance, take my time, and wait on His answer.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Let the blogging begin!

I can't believe I am getting back into blogging. Hah, I remember my first one being on Xanga back when I was in high school and wanting a place to vent. I have been praying about starting one because I want to make sure my heart is right in doing so.  I don't want to selfishly vent. I don't want to say stuff just because something rubbed me wrong, or I just think I am always right.  Sure, selfishly I want to document my life as a mom to look back on when my kids are older. However, more importantly I want it to be an encouragement in the everyday crazy life of a mom trying to live for Christ while -changing diapers (cloth I might add), making dinner and cleaning house with a demanding child at my hip, being a loving wife to a hard working husband, and socializing with neighbors, friends, and strangers.  All of which have taken their own twist since having a child.  Even though Nathaniel is 10 months old, I can tell you I still have thoughts of "If I could only leave you in the car for 10 seconds so I could drop this package off without having to take you in and out of the car seat." Hah! I beat myself up every time I think it's a good idea even for a second....but I bet you can't say you haven't thought it yourself, parents! Satan is a sneaky one, even in the little things.
Anyway, I pray that this is a light in people's lives who feel like they're alone or are close to giving up on little things that I feel make a big difference.