Saturday, November 14, 2015

My New Location

Hey, hey friends!

My blog has moved! I finally bit the bullet and bought my own domain and from now on you can find me there.

Occasionally I'm a little more sentimental than I think and this is one of those time. I'm going to miss this old blogger platform; I've used it for almost five years. But there comes a time when you have to move on.

I hope you'll join me at my new space- same topics, same focus, different website.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Pick Your Place

Pick your place. 

I heard that somewhere recently- probably on a podcast- and it stuck in my mind like a fencepost. I think we need those markers for important issues so we can revisit them occasionally. 

I don't mean pick the place where you want to be. I don't mean pick your place like you pick your flavor of popsicle at VBS. (Never mind- they gave you a flavor and you didn't whine. If you were lucky, someone would want to trade for your lime or watermelon.)

I mean pick YOUR place. Pick that place where you are now. 

Of course this is assuming that you are trying to follow God's will for your life. And I assume that most of you are because otherwise I would become obnoxious quickly. 

Pick it. Change your mindset from "I'm stuck here" to "I choose here." And before you tell me "I can't do that; it's not that simple" see me over here nodding my head saying, "Yes. You can do this." 

Do you see the difference that choice can make? Pick your place in your marriage. Pick your place in raising your kids, in your work, in your ministries. Stop fantasizing about where you would like to be and invest in where you are. Do the work in front of you instead of wishing for something different. 

If this is where God wants you, get on board. It's never wise to think we know better than God- that our ideas are better, our plans more established (Isaiah. 55:8-9). We are much better off to get on board with God even if we don't like where His train is going or what car we have to ride in or that there's smoke blowing in our face.

The other night I stood in the kitchen holding a three-year-old who had gotten out of bed to go to the bathroom. He was waiting on my husband to finish some work (some of that IT stuff is time sensitive) so he could show his daddy his pumpkin. Hamburgers were waiting on the counter because my husband and I were going to eat a late dinner/watch a show before he had to work with a consultant. And I realized there was no greater work. There was no greater ministry than right there in my kitchen with the laundry waiting in the washer and dirty pans on the stove and the child that's supposed to be sleeping. 

That can be harder to remember when you're driving down the interstate and someone asks "What's people doing?" about every single car you pass and you answer "They are driving down the interstate too" 52,00 times before you drive the 20 miles to Aldi. Or when you break up the repeated fights, clean up the potty accidents, and roll out of bed to get the crying baby. 

Pick your place. If you can remember that the crying baby, the questioning three-year-old, and the can-I-only-use-scissors-and-nothing-else kindergartener are your place, your ministry, your work, it's easier to do it well. Not perfectly, of course, but well. It fixes a lot of the heart problems that we can carry around that make us act like crazy people. It cuts off the eye rolls and the sighing and the complaining. It brings joy to the midst of the chaos. 

It's not your only work. No one is only a mother. You're a woman. Maybe a wife. You might be an employee, a writer, a musician, a doctor. Your questioning three-year-old may be an annoying co-worker or the group project in the class you didn't want to take anyway. 

Pick your place. If that's where God wants you, you don't want to move. No matter how nice you envision another place being. No matter what dreams you hold in your heart. 

No where is better for you than where you are. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Episode 15: The Pursuit of Purity

Purity isn't just for singles. Of course that's mostly how we hear it addressed and then it's dropped as if it becomes a non-issue once you say those vows. That's not true and Phylicia and I are talking about pursuing purity on this week's podcast episode. 

Pursuing purity doesn't look much different once you're married than it did when you were single. There are different struggles but the approach is the same. Tackle the mind and the heart. Purity begins in the mind: how we think influences how we act. 

Practical tips from this episode: 
1. Guard what you put in your head. 
Develop guidelines but remember that standards alone lead to pride. You're after the right heart. 

2. Don't look for the admiration or attention of men (or other men if you're married). 
"There's a difference between being attractive and dressing to attract."  There's also a difference between being friendly and being flirtatious. 

3. Don't wait for a man to satisfy your need for admiration or love. 
You have value in Christ.

4. Don't base your worth on your sexuality. 
You are more than your appearance. 

Purity is always a heart issue. 

Subscribe in iTunes and leave us a rating and review. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Why We Shouldn't Believe Ourselves at 3 AM

"Yikes! I really need to clean that showerhead." 

"I should eat more veggies." 

"What's a better quiet time plan for my five year old?" 

"I should exercise more than doing yoga once a week." 

"Would we ever adopt?" "Should we really start each morning with old Mickey Mouse cartoons and pancakes?" "I need to finish that newsletter subscription resource." "I need to make that phone call." "Do I read enough to the boys?" "What difference can I make?" "Did I switch that last load of laundry to the dryer?" "I should be more patient." 

These thoughts can crowd through my mind in a four second span of time. And I can go from one simple observation of "there's a cobweb in that corner" to "I'm the world's worst fill-in-the-blank" in a five-step process. 

Ever noticed this is especially easy at night? I don't know about you but when I'm up feeding the baby or putting a child back in bed if I'm not careful my mind drifts. I go from seeing that pile of unfolded laundry I left on the way to bed to realizing that I need to redo my whole schedule to contain my superwoman efforts. The problem is I'm no superwoman. 

Between the things I need to start doing and the things I need to do better is a tiny road that leads straight to exhaustion and discouragement. I start there in my mind and gallop ahead with my heart. This is not the best use of my mind. 

The Bible encourages us to love God with all our minds- not just our hearts or our souls, but with our minds as well. Mark 12:30 states: "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment." God cares about we do with our minds. He also gives us guidelines for what to think. Philippians 4:8 says, "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."

A mind is a terrible thing to waste. (Tell me you didn't have a teacher that told you that!) God bought us with salvation and has the right to all of us- including our minds. 

So what can we do when we realize we are staring at defeat because of one dirty showerhead? 

We take our thoughts captive. We are in charge of them; we aren't at their mercy. 2 Corinthians 10:5 says, "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;" 

"Every thought to the obedience of Christ." 

Instead of dwelling on the questions or the list of "shoulds" (although we should definitely pray about both) let's replace that with God's truth. When I start to feel like a failure for not exercising enough or being the world's best mom or always having all the laundry clean and folded and put away, I should instead remember the truth about God. 

-God loves me. John 3:16 
-God is working in my life right now. Philippians 1:6
-God has all the wisdom I need. James 1:5
-God is gracious and longsuffering. Psalm 103:8
-God gives peace. Philippians 4:6-7
-God establishes boundaries for my protection. Proverbs 8:32
-God uses the hard things to draw me to Him. Psalm 119:67
-God's Word shows me the path to follow. Psalm 119: 105

When I start reflecting on the truth I realize it's not all about me. In eternity it will not matter if there's a pile of unfolded towels on my couch when I go to bed. There is certainly no need to be the "world's best" at anything as that could only exalt me and not Christ. So often my heart craves validation instead of desiring to exalt Him with my life. 

Now you know me. I'm not suggesting that we don't do the work. We need to take care of our families and clean those showerheads and ask the hard questions. We need to fold the laundry and exercise. But we shouldn't beat ourselves up over the fact that we can't finish all the work every day. It's never ending. 

Who actually fixes all the things they realize are wrong with them at 3 in the morning? Let's remember who God is instead. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Forming Worldviews as a Christian: A Manifesto of Sorts

I miss the boat most of the time when it comes to current events. I know they are happening but I don't share about them here because by the time I've found a position and a good way to share it the internet has moved on to the next topic. 

Trending topics on Facebook don't tell you much. I don't even believe what I read on most news sources anymore so I like to read widely and discuss the events with a few close friends before I start talking about where I stand. 

If people are listening to my words (and someone is listening to you too) then it's worth the time and effort to be deliberate with what I say. I always want to clarify if I'm sharing my own opinion or the truth of the Bible as well. There's a big difference between "God says" and "Lisa thinks." 

Christianity must engage with culture. I don't get a pass because I want to be careful. That's only admirable as far as it doesn't take me out of the game. We must stand for what we believe. But the way we do it matters. 

As I thought through my process I realized that I have a manifesto of sorts about how I form worldviews and opinions and express those to people who don't agree with me. 

-I try to think long and write slow so that I can carefully craft what I'm saying. This is actually just in line with my personality. I'd rather you sent me an email so that I had time to think about a response rather than have to answer you on the spot. It's not that I don't want to talk to you; I just want to think about what I'm saying. 

-I try to look at the ramifications of the situation instead of just the one part that is black and white. That's like saying that abortion is wrong and never attempting to assist in the situations that lead to women choosing abortions. Of course it's wrong, but what are you doing to help? I don't want to just point out problems and never the solutions. 

-I try to present my viewpoint with intelligence and compassion to foster conversation and relationships with people disagree. There is never a place for name-calling. I don't need to have a superiority complex even if I'm standing on the truth of the Bible. It does not help the Christian position if we fly off with hot words- calling people names and never listening to what others are saying. 

-I want to always be able to admit that I'm wrong, that I changed my mind, that I don't know the answer, or that I'm not sure where I stand yet. Some things are hard to work through. They are multi-faceted and the answer might not be readily apparent. I do not have to have all the answers, even for myself. 

-I want to ask the hard questions. That's the only way to make progress even though it's uncomfortable. It's easy to just keep repeating the easy stuff and never delve into the issues that the lost want to discuss. Why should they be more intellectually sound than we are? 

-I want to stand my ground. Once I have a Bible-based opinion, I want to stand on it (again compassionately and intelligently) regardless of disagreement. 

-I want to avoid calling others names or presenting myself as an expert. Everyone can teach me something. 

-I want to recognize that we are each the product of our environments and education (and I don't just mean formal education) and that we are works-in-progress. As stated above, we should be able to change our minds and grow. We should disagree with some of our positions from five years ago (without compromising Biblical truth obviously). 

-I want to be able to disagree well. I will disagree with people I respect and that's ok. There are friends that I don't always agree with but I like their input. They always bring up something I hadn't considered before and push me to back up my position with something besides feelings. To not talk to them would be a loss to myself and my credibility. 

Some things I make myself write about and hit publish even though I feel like I could write another 1,000 words about the topic. I have to give you enough credit to believe that you understand where I'm coming from, especially if you've been reading here for a while. I'm always open for polite dialogue on post topics. I want you to be heard. 

Some things aren't for the internet, at least for me. There are many topics that I think are better suited for a face-to-face conversation where body language and tone come into play. It's a lot easier to speak the truth in love over coffee with someone you care about than it is to accurately represent your whole heart in text on a screen. 

What I don't want to do is just blather on all the time, foaming at the mouth about what the world's coming to. We Christians ruin our credibility when we leave our intelligence behind in considering and presenting our positions. Sometimes I'm not sure that our beliefs are as offensive as they seem. I think it's us. I think it's the careless way we wave the name of God over positions that we can't back from the Bible or if we can, we don't do in a way that represents the heart of Christ as well. 

We should challenge ourselves to a little more than that. After all, are we here to win the lost or are we trying to pick fights? We can't do both. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Uniquely Woman Episode 14: Schedules and Motherhood

This week Phylicia and I chat about scheduling life as mothers. We're both Type A women and we like our lists and plans and schedules. Those are harder to maintain once your home starts filling up with little people who cry and have accidents and love to snuggle.  But as I said on the podcast, "You can accomplish a lot even when you're home with small children." 

1. Give yourself grace. Everyone's story is different so your life as a mom may not look anything like another mom's life. You are adjusting to having a brand new person in your family and it takes a while to find your sweet spot. 

2. Embrace rhythms. Time-bound schedules don't work as well for getting through your typical day with kids. Put the most important- not the most impressive- things on your to-do list. 

3. Manage your expectations. Leave a cushion and set realistic goals. You can shower and do the laundry and a multitude of other things but it might not be at the time you want to do them. "You'll schedule what's important for you and your family." - Phylicia 

Also- we discuss the benefits of babywearing and possible (humorous) options for renaming the podcast.

Subscribe in iTunes and leave us a rating and review! 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

When Motherhood Isn't All You Hoped

"And just like that- he's one." 

That's what I posted on my personal facebook last Saturday. My baby turned one and this time it really was "just like that." It seemed like I turned away and that first year had just disappeared, faded between night feedings and chasing two older kids. 

I love the baby stage. I love a tiny newborn, although I'm more than happy to get out of that newly postpartum stage myself. I love a baby to cradle in my arms and wear in wraps and that starts sitting up and then crawling. I love it when he starts to grin at me when I walk into the room and the way he crinkles his nose when he smiles and tries to climb up my leg if I've been gone for a while (or if it hasn't been that long- getting snacks takes a long time in baby time). 

With this third child I even enjoyed night feedings because it was the one time I could be still and just enjoy the baby without needing to care for older children. I could stroke his head and let him snuggle against me and sleep. I had finally hit a stride nursing and wasn't as freaked out by every little thing that happened with him. It wasn't all new and that was much more comfortable. 

But it's not always "just like that." I've had other children and each experience with each child is different. Your perspective as a mom is different because you grow and change as you progress in your mothering journey. My first child was not "just like that." Looking back from here it seems like it went quickly but it didn't then. As much as I loved my baby I was overwhelmed with his care and adjusting to motherhood. 

I've also talked to other ladies. It wasn't "just like that" for a lot of them. They dealt with health issues themselves, a baby with an unexpected diagnosis, family situations, postpartum depression. As much as they desired that beautiful first year with their newborn it didn't happen. I have friends who haven't been able to have babies. I have friends who have lost babies. I have friends who have walked the darkest valleys with their kids.

It can feel like a betrayal of motherhood to admit that it's not always positive or good or easy. 

Society portrays the beautiful pictures you see on commercials for diapers and baby cream. A well-rested mother with beautiful hair is smiling at her sleeping baby who hasn't been up all night crying or nursing or spitting up.  Or society presents children as a drag, a burden that holds you back in life, and in light of that you don't feel comfortable presenting the problems lest you perpetuate that belief. 

There must be middle ground. We love being mothers. Motherhood is important. But negative emotions abound in motherhood. I talked to another mom at the library and we agreed that no matter how much you treasure your kids there are unenjoyable parts. There's a great saying- and excuse my language- "Everything sucks sometimes." It's true. Regardless of how great it is and how much you wanted it, motherhood sucks sometimes.  Sometimes we are sleep-deprived with a newborn and nothing runs well through that filter. Sometimes we are mourning the loss of our pre-baby body with no stretch marks or scars or saggy skin. Sometimes we feel the loss of our spontaneity and our freedom to run to Waffle House at midnight. 

Sometimes it's the deepest things that wear us down. Motherhood can be agony. If you've ever watched your child cling to life in the hospital you know that. In your innermost heart you've wondered if life wouldn't have been better/easier/happier if you had never had that child. You wonder how you can live if the worst does happen and your arms are empty. That's agony. It's agony to watch your child struggle with problems and differences and not know how it will turn out. There is only so much you can do as a mama. Most days it seems like there is so much you can't do. 

Emotions don't come one by one. They are a package deal and each positive one also has a negative flipside. Pregnancy is a time of beautiful expectation: planning a nursery, shopping for clothes, feeling baby kicks. It can also be a time of great fear as you wonder if the baby is ok, if you will have complications, how birth will go. Birth is miraculous and yet totally insane and usually nothing like what you expected. 

Motherhood is amazing and exhausting. There's nothing to compare to it for the good or the bad. I've gone through situations with mothering that I thought would never end and I just knew at the time that I wouldn't make it. (Obviously I did.) 

Even those milestones- just like that, he's one- are bittersweet. He'll never be that tiny baby that I held in my arms at his first doctor's appointment. That's tucked away forever a memory no matter how much I would love to pull it out and replay it. Some women find they don't even like the baby stage that well. Have you tried admitting that to someone? "I don't really like having a four-month-old; I'm glad to get that first year behind us." That's a hard thing to say; people don't always take it well. 

There is freedom in knowing that no positive emotion comes alone and rarely do the negative ones come to stay. They will roll in and out of your life depending on sleep and the day and how many people unfriended you on facebook (no, really, you shouldn't care. Let them go). 

When you are disappointed with mothering, don't give up hope. God made you a mama. He gave you that child. And while you might not like that right now- you might not like the story you are living- you are not without hope. Christ is our hope; mothering isn't. He is our promise, our anchor, our grace for a new day. 

Whether you have the life you imagined since becoming a mom or you can never picture getting that back, motherhood is not the answer. Motherhood is not your happiness. Jesus is and He can handle all the emotions that come with what He's brought you. 

Seasons change. We grow and learn. And next month motherhood will take us on a different journey. 

When I say, "just like that, he's one." I really do mean it. It feels like I barely turned around twice since I gave birth last Halloween. Yet there he is, crawling across the floor fulfilling his self-appointed job of being the human vacuum cleaner. But even in this year I've been in other stages of motherhood that weren't "just like that." They were "this feels like forever" and "I have no idea what will happen here" and "this will never end." 

If you are in one of those stages of motherhood don't give up on yourself. You're not a bad mama. God has a plan that's beyond what we can imagine. He promises that He will never quit working in our lives- or in the lives of our children. 
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:     Philippians 1:6