Simply a List

This week… this week, it’s simply a list. No in depth perspective, no details of a certain gift recorded. Because I’m a real person and sometimes… sometimes writing just doesn’t come on my timetable. :) Thanks for hanging in there anyway!

Come join our New Every Morning link-up recounting God's mercies (Lam. 3:22-24)!Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then, each Thursday, join us as we revel in His mercies! If you have a blog, we’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies to date: 906. Take a look at this week’s list:
887. the exercise/birthing ball for when I want to sit but Baby requests extra space
888. “Momma read more baffas” (chapters) after supper
890. Ae’s concern: “Momma, drink water… feel good…” as he hands me my water bottle
891. A helping me tackle the dishes and clean out the fridge
892. burning my finger… as it reminded me of A’s love and desire to “fix”
894. fellowship time for A with other men from church
895. a chunk of time to READ and journal and ponder
896. comforting a child who just rubbed his eyes with soapy fingers
897. no potty accidents with Ae at church
899. attending our first congregational meeting in over a year
900. friends stopping by while they were in town — and buying the last 3 copies I had of Empowering Generations!

901. a clean house with space to breathe
902. Ae… and not wanting to put him to bed because he is too fun
904. everything looking good at my midwife appointment
905. realizing we already had several items needed for birthing — thus reducing the list of what is left to purchase
906. roaring like a lion with Ae for about 20 minutes {and laughter in between roars}
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Recap: Appointment #6

Home stretch! 8-9 weeks until we meet Baby. I’m not anticipating an early arrival, so it may be even longer than 9 weeks; we shall see. Here’s the official recap:

  • Blood pressure: 96/54
  • Measuring 33.5 cm (at 32 weeks, 2 days), so a little “ahead”
  • Baby’s heartbeat is 132 bpm. A bit of a drop from last time.
  • Trace of protein in my urine. Not currently a concern, but the first “issue” I’ve had this pregnancy
  • Baby is still head down but posterior. His/her back is on the left side of my belly. (For those who don’t know, ideal position of Baby for birth is head down with his/her back to my belly button.) There’s still lots of time for Baby to get into position, but my midwife did recommend I go ahead and utilize SpinningBabies.com to prevent Baby from getting too comfortable in that position.
  • I gained 4 pounds!

And thus we enter the “appointments every 2 weeks” phase of pregnancy. YES! I am excited. We ordered (and received) the birth kit, purchased (and received) Baby’s car seat, and even got 2 meals set aside in the freezer {chicken fajitas for the crockpot and french toast}. In the next two weeks, I’ll try to work on a few more freezer meals and finish gathering the birth supplies…oh, and getting Little One to move around some more.

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Polarizing Opposites: Birth Control and Natural Family Planning

As a recently engaged couple or newlyweds, the birth control issue is a hot one. Either side of the fence sounds convincing, and the amount of information available can be utterly mind-boggling. “Outsiders” will make comments, give advice, and (sometimes) add undue pressure to the already tumultuous decision. So what’s a person to do? Move forward making the best decision possible at the time.

polarizingnfpContraceptives & Birth Control

The mindset here is generally: God is sovereign. He has the power to override any birth control a couple uses. Whether it’s delaying the arrival of children as newlyweds or spacing out children later, there are many options within the contraceptive/birth control category that couples can choose from.

Natural Family Planning

The mindset here is generally: God opens and closes the womb. To utilize any outside interventions would be to dishonor His Lordship over every area of their lives. Couples who choose natural family planning are often looking for the most “hands off” approach. Others I know have turned to NFP after experiencing negative reactions/side effects to contraceptives.

How this relates to the Gospel

Because we are temples of the Holy Spirit, bought with a price, we are commanded to honor God with our bodies. (1 Cor. 6:19-20) Any decision in this realm should be made with that primary motivation – to honor God with our bodies.

YES — God is sovereign. YES — God opens and closes the womb. He allows us to choose where to align ourselves on the spectrum of options available. He grows each family uniquely. The use of birth control does not somehow impede His sovereignty, and natural family planning doesn’t make a person more “holy.” The work of the Holy Spirit in our lives accomplishes that.

Sanctification, the process of being made holy, being set apart unto God for His purposes, is just that — a process. As such, we don’t know where others are on their journey. We don’t know all the details, all the circumstances they’ve experienced. Should we never say anything about our stance on the issue? No. There is a time and a place where such conversation could be edification — encouraging another believer to grow in their trust of God. But the tone and intention of that interaction should focus on what will unify, not divide.

Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Philippians 2:1-3 (emphasis added)

Your turn: How have others encouraged you in this area?

When He Brings Us to Bitter Waters

I picked up a small book at the library, knowing nothing of the author but inquisitive when I saw the title. Names of God by Nathan Stone. Originally published in 1944 after the completion of a radio series studying the names of God, Stone’s ability to clearly and concisely explain the meanings of each of the 12 names of God covered keeps me fascinated by the complexity of our God and how He revealed each of His names at a specific time for a specific purpose. We don’t fully understand the depth of His names because our Bibles utilize Lord, LORD, God, and GOD most frequently.

Photo_101508_001Last week I was reading about Jehovah-rophe, the God Who Heals. And I realized how very connected His healing is to our gratitude…

The will, and the power, and the longing are present in Jehovah to heal. The only obstacle in the way is man himself. p. 97

The story where God reveals Himself as Jehovah-rophe in the Old Testament is located in Exodus 15:22-26. The Israelites traveled 3 days with no water, when they came to the waters of Marah. They couldn’t drink, though, because the water was bitter (that’s what Marah means)… so they complained. Typical, right? Yet Moses “cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.” (v. 25a) Hurrah! They could finally drink. But the words the LORD spoke next revealed His intent with this otherwise insignificant water:

There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you.”
(vs. 25b-26)

Is it possible that the times when the water seems bitter, the provision we thought the LORD gave unravels… is it possible that this is when the He desires for us to trust Him in gratitude for all that He has done, regardless of what He will do?

The remedy is there – near at hand—as near as the tree at Marah’s waters. “The word is very near to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it,” says Moses (Deuteronomy 30:14). p. 97

It doesn’t make sense to us. Why would God bring us to water, give us the hope that we might drink after 3 days of thirst, and then keep us from it? “He tested them.” Would they be grateful? Would they trust? Would they walk by faith or did they require sight also?

There is salvation for every sin, healing for every evil. The remedy only awaits acknowledgement or application. This, man has often been unwilling to do. p. 97

It makes me wonder… what healing am I overlooking because I am so focused on the negative, the bitter? Praise the LORD – our God heals!

Come join our New Every Morning link-up recounting God's mercies (Lam. 3:22-24)!Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then, each Thursday, join us as we revel in His mercies! If you have a blog, we’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies to date: 886. Take a look at this week’s list:
854. making our connection (with time for a restroom pitstop & minutes to spare!)
857. running on “the blue” (river shaped carpet design at the airport) with Ae & his accompanying giggles
858. hands to hold
860. a good night’s rest
861. Momma… she’s basically a rock star
863. Ae enjoying Skype with my sister and her daughter. Technology that brings near that which is far
866. a few clothing items for a boy, a few for a girl… and the anticipation of entering the home stretch
867. a food budget that allows us to purchase plenty to stock our cabinets
868. Ae enjoying riding the penny horse for the first time
870. a friend to brainstorm with
872. Ae sat through church and most of BFG
873. a sermon about how baptism is an important doctrine, worth making a big deal about
874. losing a $1/2 coupon and choosing to trust God. For purchasing what we’d already planned to purchase, even without the coupon, we received a $5.99 value item free!
875. a productive day
876. Ae learning how to communicate his body’s needs
877. not having a dirty diaper to clean up today {he did it in the toilet! yay!}
881. hearing Ae tell back the information he just learned. Prov. 14:6b
882. cold water to drink on humid days
884. reading all of The Boxcar Children (#1) in one day
885. pen and paper essentially “at my disposal”
886. purchased Baby’s car seat for $10 less than the going rate and in the color we preferred!
Do you tweet? Keep up with what’s going on and join in the fun with the hashtag #neweverymorning!

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Linked up at WholeHearted Home and Raising Homemakers

Polarizing Opposites: No Media and Media With Limits

We live in the golden age of technology. Entertainment is at our fingertips, waiting for us to push the magic button. So why wouldn’t we? There are plenty of educational programs available. When it comes to toddler programming, they can visit a zoo, learn to count, practice letters, and sing songs – all from the comfort of the couch in the living room. But we don’t all agree on how much is enough, or even too much. It can be a pretty strong point of contention for the passionate parent on either side of the fence.

polarizingmediaNo Media

Some households don’t have a tv in an effort to cut back on technology dependency. If it’s not there, you can’t use it. Kids in these homes may not even have the option of “media within limits” as Mom and Dad do their best to keep screens away from their kids. If a family has a “no media” philosophy, though, this doesn’t mean they never let their kids watch anything. It may mean that those times are much less frequent. Perhaps they only watch shows at Grandma’s house, or once in a while they watch a YouTube video. There’s no consistency with such media, and it’s not expected by the child.

Media With Limits

If technology (television, iPad, smartphone) is used too frequently, it’ll become a habit, these parents say. But they still want their children to have some amount of exposure to certain programs. Maybe it’s one, 30-minute show a day. Maybe it’s one movie per week. Maybe it’s a limited time of play on the iPad or smartphone each day. After all, kids need to learn how to enjoy such luxuries in moderation. Plus Mom just might look forward to that time each day to accomplish some housework or other nagging task without interruption. This may also be how Mom makes it through rough days, or sick days, where there isn’t much available energy for another option. It is convenient.

How this relates to the Gospel

The leading of the Holy Spirit in each believer’s life will allow or disallow certain activities. This may be based on specific sins he/she was forgiven of or tendencies toward sin that may arise with the first step in a certain direction. As such, there’s no reason to assume that someone is pulling out a parenting “trump card” simply because they made a different decision than you did.

Paul says to the church at Rome, and to us:

“We then who are strong ought to bear with the scruples of the weak, and not to please ourselves.” (Rom. 15:1)

Scruples are “a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions,” according to Dictionary.com. While parenting can be done with a sinful motivation to “one-up” another parent’s choices, that is not the case for everyone.

If you have fellow church members (or blog friends) who have made a different choice in this area, don’t take on feelings of guilt or shame as if their choice was intended to make you feel that way. And be careful that when explaining your family’s stance on the issue, you exude grace, seeking unity and understanding even when opinions differ.

Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
1 Peter 3:8-9 (emphasis added)

Your turn: How have your technology views changed the longer you’ve parented?

Illogical Choices and Abundant Outpouring

Ae and I spent a week with my parents. When we get to do this, I’ve learned that I cannot see every friend I had growing up. My time is finite and so is my energy. But rotating works with Ae’s toys, and it works with visiting with friends, too. I contacted two friends, both of whom were gracious, willing, and excited to have me interrupt their normal.

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One such friend was the lovely Sarah Jo. She came to Ae’s blessing shower 2 years ago, but I hadn’t seen her since (nor had I seen her for a while prior). As is typical of showers, there isn’t much time for catching up or in-depth one-on-one conversation — the type I thrive on, even in all my introverted-ness. Ae and I got in my parents’ car and trekked 3+ hours to see her and meet the lovely Brooklyn. I had hoped to encourage her in progress-making regarding her overwhelming third bedroom… and I was curious to see how our littles would interact.

The afternoon was delightful. Entirely worth the trek. I left wishing we lived closer during this season, especially after we discovered some common experiences in our current stages (of marriage and of motherhood). I checked her blog the next day to find she had made astounding progress on that third bedroom. It’s amazing how that thrilled me, and it wasn’t even my bedroom!

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I also got to watch God provide. I knew this trip needed to happen… for her encouragement (and apparently mine as well), but I didn’t know where the funds would come from. He provided in two ways:

  • at the pump. When I filled up the car before returning, the car had gotten 36 mpg…and gas was cheaper than I planned. This translated to spending $15 less than I had anticipated.
  • in a coin bank. I stowed coins in a panda bank in my dresser several years ago. I can’t even remember why (I think it was to go to the Beijing Olympics…). Ae found the bank and toted it around, finally asking me to open it. When I did, I found 4 bills that added up to exactly double what I spent on gas to visit Sarah Jo. Only God would…

I learned that obedience is worth it… even when I can’t figure out how it will all come together. Even when I can’t figure out where the funds will come from. My Provider will allocate the funds (or abilities) to accomplish that which He requests of me. If I choose not to obey simply because I don’t have the money, I am ascribing a power to money that it does not have, making it to me what Mammon was to the Canaanites.

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This visit and the other one, with my sweet lifelong friend Emily, reminded me that I can either look at all that I don’t have {a deep friendship with someone in close proximity to me} or I can treasure the people who are still part of my life. Still interested in who I am — even if they aren’t interested in the things I’m interested in. Still willing to rekindle friendships after a season of distance. [Gratitude] precedes the miracle. -Ann Voskamp

Friendships as adults lack the sweet simplicity our friendships had as children, when it didn’t matter if we shared the exact same passions because we readily listened to (or talked about) them for hours. It was just fun to be together. Thank You, LORD, for the years we spent talking about everything and nothing… the years where the roots grew strong enough and deep enough to continue producing fruit even when our interests and pursuits have matured in different directions. How often I overlook such marvelous blessings!

Come join our New Every Morning link-up recounting God's mercies (Lam. 3:22-24)!

Wanna join us? It’s simple. Grab a journal and start writing. What are you thankful for in this moment? What have you overlooked that He has graciously given you? Then, each Thursday, join us as we revel in His mercies! If you have a blog, we’d love for you to leave your link. If you don’t, feel free to leave your list in the comments!

Mercies to date: 849. Take a look at this week’s list:
799. A staying with us until we got to security and talking with Ae about the importance of listening, obeying, and staying with me at O’Hare
800. sticker books and travel puzzles to occupy Ae while our flight was delayed
801. a generous captain offering to pull our carryons to the top of the jet bridge
802. food vouchers to enjoy Auntie Anne’s pretzels
804. an older man helping occupy Ae at O’Hare with pictures on his phone
806. United having a “loaner” car seat for us to use, and delivering Ae’s car seat after it arrived…6 hours late
809. an afternoon of face to face community with Sarah Jo and Brooklyn
810. friends who have similar experiences that help you feel “I am not alone.”
812. a charger to borrow from the neighbors across the street (after realizing I left mine at home)
813. Mom “rescuing” me from an early morning (Ae woke at 4:45).
816. spending a few hours with Emily
817. Ae’s thrill with lawn mowers, tractors, 4-wheelers, cows, chickens, and horses on Emily’s farm
819. that negative consequences aren’t always as bad as they could be
820. smiles and laughter from others enjoying Ae’s antics
822. sweet conversation that reminded me that sometimes a friend values our friendship while I take it for granted
824. picking up a special treat {Kyya Chocolate} for a difficult-to-shop-for mom
826. Dad’s enjoyment of Ae and taking him to the park
829. Brian and Nicole (bro/sis-in-law) coming over to visit while we were there
831. a Business as Missions “documentary” in Sunday school that highlighted MAF
833. Ae’s awe of the recorder, baritone, and clarinet during worship
836. Ae’s eagerness to share his Goldfish with Grandma
838. a new bookstore adventure
841. finding $$ in a coin bank
844. a day of rest and sorting through a stuffed dresser drawer
845. productivity while Ae napped
846. Ae’s desire to help clean up/vacuum the sand mess
849. Dad hanging around and spending time with Ae before we leave [he went in to work 2 hours later than he usually does]
Do you tweet? Keep up with what’s going on and join in the fun with the hashtag #neweverymorning!

Be sure to stop by:

And, of course, please leave your link in the comments!

Polarizing Opposites: Real Food and “Do What You Can”

Dear Momma who advocates Real Food,

I totally know where you’re coming from. You want the best of the best for your family, and you want to promote healthy living. You’ve seen great results from focusing on eating nutrition-dense foods and organic or farm fresh when possible. You focus on “preventative care,” namely taking care of our bodies to avoid trips to the doctor and unnecessary illnesses. It makes all the sense in the world.

In your passion and enthusiasm, please be mindful that you traveled a journey to arrive where you are. You weren’t born knowing healthy eating habits; you may or may not have been trained in them. You are constantly learning new things and attempting to implement them for the good of you and your family. Not all of us have traveled that journey yet.

You will find some mommas who are interested in what you have learned. They want to learn from you and begin research on their own. That’s great! It’s fun to pass on knowledge to others who are eager. But, of course, you will also find mommas who are at their wits end or attempting to deal with difficult life seasons, and in so doing, they are doing the best they can to keep their family fed. Maybe someday soon they’ll also be interested in what you’ve learned. Don’t be offended if they seem disinterested for now; they probably have other things going on that are absorbing much of their physical and emotional energy. Look for opportunities to encourage, not divide.

polarizingfood

Dear Momma who Does What She Can,

I know where you are right now. You look at the mouths you have to feed and your incredibly tight food money and wonder how the two will meet in the middle… or if they even will. You pick up the Blue Box macaroni and a couple packages of hot dogs to supplement the rest of your meals, knowing that by the end of this pay period, the pickins will be slim around your place.

You see blog post titles about nourishing little ones and scroll past them. You’ve read enough of them previously that you think they, too, will advocate the ideal world of organic, non-GMO expensive-ness… and it discourages you. You get so overwhelmed by all you “should” do that you ignore what you’ve read and hope that someday… someday you will be able to be supermom.

Here’s the thing. You don’t have to be supermom. If the LORD is able to provide enough for your Blue Box and hot dogs, He can sustain you and your family through whatever life season you’re dealing with. Maybe you can make a few meals from scratch, or maybe you don’t have time or energy for such an endeavor. God doesn’t call you to be what your neighbors are; He calls you to live for Him in this moment. So keep doing the best you can. This doesn’t mean you can’t learn and implement small changes, but you don’t need to overwhelm yourself to the point of inaction. And don’t segregate yourself from the “real food” mommas. Strive to encourage, not divide.

How this relates to the Gospel

In a world of food allergens and processed foods, it can be hard to find balance when you’re on either side of the spectrum. Maybe you’re eating real foods out of necessity — you just can’t physically handle processed goods. Maybe you’re eating on a tight food budget because you got hit with a major financial emergency and needed to cut somewhere — and food was the “easiest” place to cut. Each of us makes the choice we do based on our life season and the good of our family — the best we can do at the time. Does that mean we should compare and contrast our life seasons to see who it handling theirs “better?” How would that glorify Christ?

Apparently food has been an issue within the Body of Christ since the early church. Paul talked about abstaining from food offered to idols if that would be a struggle for you or a stumbling block for those around you. For some, it was no big deal. For others, it spelled compromise and something like syncretism. So what are we to do in that situation?

For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.

However, there is not in everyone that knowledge; for some, with consciousness of the idol, until now eat it as a thing offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. But food does not commend us to God; for neither if we eat are we the better, nor if we do not eat are we the worse.

But beware lest somehow this liberty of yours become a stumbling block to those who are weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will not the conscience of him who is weak be emboldened to eat those things offered to idols? And because of your knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when you thus sin against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ. Therefore, if food makes my brother stumble, I will never again eat meat, lest I make my brother stumble.
1 Cor. 8:5-13 (emphasis added)

The LORD is our provider, whether we eat real food or do the best we can. We are called to unity as the Body, whether we eat real food or do the best we can. Take care of the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19) in whatever way you can during this life season, doing so with the intention to honor God (1 Cor. 10:31) and make for peace with each other (Rom. 14:19).

Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Cor. 10:31

Your turn: How have you been encouraged by other believers as you strive to feed your family?