Thursday, January 30, 2014

On My Bookshelf: Children Are Wet Cement

I love to read. I'm usually reading multiple books at one time so I can digest more of the content. Of course most of my fiction reading has fallen by the wayside since I have two children who seem to require attention :) 

Most of my reading now is centered on my work: mothering, marriage, homemaking, godly femininity. Continuing education is a requirement in most fields.  Why would I not try to learn more about my life work? 

I've been rereading Anne Ortlund's Children Are Wet Cement the last couple of weeks. I have no idea where I bought it as you might guess from the sale sticker on the book. 

She covers quite a few topics from how you talk to your child to how you discipline all all from the viewpoint that everything you do leaves an impression. 

My favorite point she made about small children and discipline is that you should discipline according to the sinfulness of the action, not the irritation of the action. Some things are just childishness that will be outgrown and should get a much smaller reaction than things that show the root of sin that will damage all of their lives. 

I'm sure I wouldn't agree with all of Anne Ortlund's doctrine but this isn't a book on doctrine. It's a book on children; and a good one at that. Especially if you can find it for a dollar. But if not, you can find it here

And you can always check out the other books I've been reading here

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

When You're a Grandmother

Micah never met my grandmother. Justin neither met her either. For that matter, I barely remember her because she died when I was three. It's some of those memories where you aren't sure if you really remember it or if you've heard the stories so many times you think you do. My papaw married again and I grew up with a fantastic step-mamaw. 

The lady that built our home eventually turned the garage into a master bedroom. Our master bedroom now. Its door opens into the hallway between the kitchen and the laundry room and I can see beautiful sunsets out our bedroom window during the summer. 

But my grandmother quilted. And as her grandchildren were born she gave each of them a quilt. I have one and it hangs on the bedrail at the foot of our bed. Quite often in the evening while I'm cooking dinner Micah is playing on the bed under the quilt. He pretends to sleep and wants me to cover him with it. 

photo courtesy of photokanok/

I saw a saying on social media that went like this, "Yesterday's grandmother could bake, quilt, and cook. When we are grandmothers all we'll be able to do is take selfies." (Despite my best attempts I could not find it again.) While I think this might be a slight exaggeration we are losing something very precious in our generation. Work. Creativity. Character. 

In previous generations most women loved husbands, raised children, cared for their homes, used their talents to benefit others, and left legacies that impacted families for generations.  Today, we take selfies, post the details of our lives on social media, and go on journeys to "find ourselves."  See the difference? We should be living for others. Instead we are consumed with self. 

And it does consume us. It consumes our lives and burns away into smoke and ash. We will find that we have done nothing meaningful. Life lived for self is wasted. "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it." (Luke 9:24) 

It's easy to get caught up in what everyone is doing. It's normal for our generation to seek to "find self" and "do what makes you happy." But we shouldn't be basing our decisions on what society does. What does the Bible say? The Bible says to forget self. Take up your cross DAILY. (Luke 9:23) Not on Sundays or days we feel like it. 

There are verses in 1 Timothy that speak about a lady of "grandmotherly" age. 
"Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work." 1 Timothy 5:10

None of those works are about her. But what are our goals for when we are 60? Does it really matter what our facebook makes our lives look like?  Does it really matter how many raises we get or how many people applaud us?  No. Those things mean nothing in the light of eternity. What will matter?

-what kind of wife were we? 
-how did we mother? 
-who did we care for? 
-who did we lead to Jesus? 
-who did we encourage? 
-how did we work? 

In other words- The things that matter are the things no one notices. 

No one sees you spend time with your husband. Loving him. Appreciating him. Encouraging him. Submitting to him. No one sees the effort and prayer you devote to raising your children. How you teach, love, discipline. No one notices the cards you put in the mail to encourage others, the hours you spend soul-winning, the bus kids you point to Jesus. No one applauds you for consoling your children in the night, letting someone cry on your shoulder, lifting up loved ones in prayer. No one comments on the thousands of meals you cook, the rugs you vacuum, the dishes you wash, the diapers you change. 

But Jesus sees all those things.  And all those things are going to make up your legacy. What your husband remembers, what your children remember, what those who know you remember. Maybe I won't leave quilts for my grandchildren but I do want to leave something that matters. 

What you are doing today makes up part of who you will be when you are sixty. Your work matters. And your today is your work. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Favorites: Don't Leave Anything But Sweat?

Now did I draw you in with that title or what? Either that or I totally repulsed you, in which case you probably aren't reading this anyway. 

Life{in}grace had a beautiful post on doing your best work. And my favorite quote was this one:  Don’t wait until someone important shows up before you do your work well. Although the "don't leave anything but sweat" one was awesome too. 

So while you're pausing from your best work you can see my adorable little boys! 

Don't you just want to kiss that little face? 

Anything Micah does, Kevin has to do :) 

Happy Weekend! 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Better with Age: Walking in Confidence

A few nights ago my husband and I took our boys to a basketball game at the university where my husband works. As we left at halftime they were playing a song with the lyrics, "I live for the applause." I contemplated that concept as we walked to the car and was saddened by the insecurity displayed by those words. What happens when people are no longer applauding? When she's not Number One anymore?

When we live for other's approval we will always be insecure. There is no sure footing there because people change. There is always someone better. Someone more edgy. Prettier. More talented.

The only way to escape insecurity is to have confidence. Certainly we can't be confident in ourselves. We have already established that, if we do compare ourselves to others,  we might not measure up. So where does our confidence come from?

"For the Lord shall be thy confidence, and shall keep thy foot from being taken." Proverbs 3:26

Our confidence comes from God.  Specifically our confidence comes from being obedient to God. It's not enough to claim random promises from the Bible and say that we live in them. We have to obey what the Bible says. Proverbs 14:26 says, "In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children shall have a place of refuge."

Part of the fear of the Lord is obedience. Obedience is strong confidence. When we are walking in obedience to God we aren't living in our own ideas. How could we know they were really better than anyone else's? But God's ideas surpass any others that we could find.

photo courtesy of lkunl/

When we are living in obedience we can deflect criticisms of our marriage or child-rearing. We can rejoice in the knowledge that God made us just the way He wanted us and we don't have to be like anyone else. God has given us what we need for our race.

A lady with confidence in her God can love others instead of competing with them. She can work hard where God put her instead of envying a different lifestyle. She can stand firm in her convictions instead of doing what everyone else is doing.

Want to walk in confidence? Walk in obedience.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Accomplishments Take Time

I made a peppermint sugar scrub for myself a few weeks ago. When I used it for the first time I loved how it made my skin feel soft and moisturized. Then I noticed all the rough skin and dryness that hadn't been helped by it. 

Um...I had used it once. Maybe I should use it consistently for a few weeks before I expected to have more dramatic results? 

We live in an instant society. Instant coffee. Microwave meals. Drive-through restaurants. Next day shipping. On-demand television. Obviously there are perks of this "instantness" but there are some serious drawbacks as well. We expect everything to happen now. We want what we want when we want it.

photo courtesy of gregory szarkiewicz/

We all want to be brilliant nuclear physicists after a semester of gen ed's in college. We want to be an accomplished pianist after three months of lessons (and little practice). We want to speak a foreign language after fifteen hours of instruction.

Accomplishments take time. Maybe coffee and television can be had on demand but the important things can't. Marriage isn't instant. Marriage is built of years of growing together, denying self, building memories. Raising children involves years of praying, disciplining, spending time together. Friendships form from years of shouldering the tough times and celebrating the good. 

Playing an instrument takes years of consistent practice. Learning a foreign language takes time and practice. Building a home take time to learn, to implement, to retry something that didn't work. 

Instantness doesn't get us far when it comes to the things that really matter. Maybe something you're doing isn't working out for you right now? Don't quit. Some things take time. 

And not just time; maybe you need to change how you are doing things. My favorite definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Don't quit; change what you are doing. It's easy to coast by doing the same thing you've always done but that won't bring the change you desire. It will be more comfortable but comfort will not get you to the finish line that you're picturing. 

Don't like the results you are getting in your marriage? Go back to the Bible and fomd principles to follow. Don't like the results you're getting in your child-rearing? Find the answers in the Bible. Change what you are doing. 

Don't like the results in your homemaking? Change something. Learn and then do. Read blogs. Read books. Ask ladies who run nice homes what they do. Keep trying until you find something that works. Don't just quit because one or two or fifteen ideas didn't work. 

Don't like the results you're getting with your writing, your music, your art? Change something!

Whatever you do, don't quit. 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Favorites: Links on Comparison

Apparently I'm not the only one contemplating how insecurity and comparison affects our lives. This is a ever-present reality for women and it's hard rooted. It takes time and effort to throw it out of your life.

photo courtesy of dan/

Ruth, from Gracelaced, speaks about creating and comparing yourself to others.

And there are two great articles about comparison from GirlTalk.  Because "what is it to you" what anyone else is doing?  And there is always "that woman."

Go and follow Christ wherever He has put you this weekend. He will give the wisdom and grace you need for your race.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Better With Age: The Root of Insecurity

Most of the time I'm pretty comfortable with who I am. (At least compared to previous stages of life. I'm sure I'll look back on this and laugh.) But I only stay in this spot by monitoring my thoughts and speaking truth to myself when I get out of line. I have friends in different stages of life and with different skills and I cannot compare myself to them. I cannot compare myself to "her." 

Isn't that the root of insecurity? Comparison? 

I look at her and I see what I'm not doing. 
I look at her and see something that I'm not. 
I look at her and see a skill I do not possess. 
I look at her and see a stage of life I'm not in. 

Why am I looking at her? I am supposed to run my race and she is supposed to run hers. I don't glorify God by comparing myself to her. I don't love her by comparing myself to her. 

photo courtesy of imagerymajestic/

Comparison makes me proud or depressed. There's no in-between. So why do I compare? In the hopes of making myself feel better. I compare so that I can "win."  And then I'm proud and self-important. Sometimes I don't win. Then I'm depressed and hopeless. Comparison is an empty trap. If you don't quit comparing you will always be insecure. 

Perhaps the most important person to stop comparing yourself to is the perfect you that you visualize. You know the one you'd like to be if you got to remake yourself. Perfect hair. Perfect skin. Perfect size. Perfect skills. Made to impress. But what if we're not here to impress? What if we're here and we're just flesh and our role is to glorify God? Perfect me doesn't need God. Incomplete, struggling me needs God. 

Insecurity will destroy your opportunities and your relationships. Insecurity will leave you unwilling to serve for fear of being criticized. Insecurity will leave you unwilling to love for fear of being inferior. Insecurity will leave you unwilling to hold your standards for fear of being disliked.  And the main way to leave insecurity behind is to stop comparing. 

God has a special plan for your life. And for her life. They are not the same plans. You don't need to be the same person. Surrender who you are to God and stop worrying about what she is doing.  

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Quotes, Planners, and Faithfulness

I have a dry erase board in the hallway off my kitchen. I put up a grocery list sometimes but its real function is to hold the quotes that I write on it. I love a good quote. I have a whole Evernote page full of quotes. A Pinterest board full of quotes. I love them. 

And this one from Spurgeon is my quote for the year. (I just made up that "quote of the year" statement. I didn't know I had one before now.) 

"The way to do a great deal is to keep on doing a little. The way to do nothing at all is to be continually resolving that you will do everything." 

 Isn't that true? Right now I'm working on exercising consistently. Nothing impressive. It's 10 minutes a day but it's much better than nothing.  Keep doing a little is a great motto. My work often seems like a little. But I can keep doing it and over time it will end up being a great deal. 

I've noticed something peculiar. Whenever I've been really pondering an idea and how it affects me, our Pastor frequently ends up preaching on the subject. This past Sunday night he preached on faithfulness and diligence. You can go watch it here.  I've never announced a word for the year- mostly because I've never picked one before- but I have picked "consistent" for my word. Maybe for more than this year. Because consistency is faithfulness. 

I can't spend hours practicing piano but I can practice consistently. I can't write a book every day but i can write consistently. I can't teach Micah the periodic table of elements this week but we can do our work consistently. 

Modern Mrs. Darcy had a post up last week about her goals focusing on the effort, not the result. I LOVE that. I can't be responsible for all the results. But I can put forth the effort. I can consistently- faithfully- do the work. 

This is all a culmination of what I've actually been practicing. I bought a planner this year. I love paper. (And quotes, remember?) I've tried multiple times to keep a schedule/planner digitally and I hate it. And that means I don't do it. So do what works. Maybe you like digital. Maybe you like a scrap of paper that you throw away but I like to keep it. I've been writing down little happenings of the day too to help me remember life. 

I also love to cross things off. That's the fun part about a paper planner. But the best part is I've been writing down every day if I've done my work. If I've practiced piano. If we did preschool. If I exercised. If I did my daily writing.  It helps hold me accountable and  allows me to see an honest account of what work is being done.

This year I want to be faithful to the work God has given me. And if writing down that I've done my work helps me, then I'm going to write it down. 

What helps you be faithful? What small things are you going to keep doing so that you can do a great deal with your life? 

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Number One Rule for Naps

The number one rule of a winter Sunday afternoon nap is to shut the curtains. The winter sun pours beautifully into our living room and I love it. Until it's shining in my eyes when I'm trying to sleep. Sunlight and sleep don't go together. 

photo courtesy of domdeen/

This is important because napping is next to godliness. Especially for mothers. You will feel so much better after a nap. 

Take a nap. Leave the mile-long to-do list and sleep for a while. Right now I have a whole handful of ways I want to use my hour of quiet time this afternoon. But I know I do better with a nap on Sunday afternoon. So I'm going to hit publish and lay down. Because tired ruins creative. Tired ruins nice.

Try it. There's something extra special about a nap. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Better With Age: What's the Real Problem?

I've been reflecting on this idea of getting better with age since I made a flippant comment about it a few months ago.  We should be getting better with age. We should be learning God's Word and applying it to our lives. We should be expanding our skills and growing in our relationships. 

 But the main thing that struck me about this issue of aging was how much has changed in how I view myself. I've always been notoriously hard on myself. (Better to have high standards for me than everyone else, right?) It often manifested itself in being critical of myself and discontent with who I was. That's not healthy for anybody. God made you to be you. He made me to be me. He doesn't need another ______ (fill in the blank with whoever you would rather be). 

Now obviously I'm not talking about with thinking you've arrived. None of us have. We all need to learn and grow (did I already say that?) There's balance in everything. You  should be learning and growing to become who God wants you to be and to please Him. 

But how many ladies do you know who actually like who they are?

photo courtesy of stuart miles/

Most of this is wrapped up in how we see ourselves. We compare ourselves to others and we think we fall short. We see everything that someone else does differently as a statement about how we are doing it wrong. We have a "perfect" self visualized and we don't measure up. 

We don't speak truth to ourselves. We say things to ourselves that we would never say to anyone else and with good reason. 

I think the main problem for me, and probably lots of other ladies as well, is insecurity. We don't know where we stand with God or how God views us and our only other option is to try to impress ourselves and others to seek worth. 

Insecurity affects our entire lives-
-how we relate to God (are we trying to impress Him?) 
-how we view ourselves (self-talk really is important. Are you speaking God's Word into your own life?)
-how we relate to others (are we constantly comparing or running our own race?)

So what fixes insecurity? What's the answer? The answer is the right kind of confidence. The confidence that comes from obeying God. That's the only sure foundation.

  Next week we are going to talk about some of the problems are insecurity and then we'll move on to talking about real confidence. 

(I've been reflecting on this series of posts for a while and I can't get everything written to the extent it's affected me. I'll be working out the details while I write the posts even though I have the general ideas. Leave a comment with questions if I'm confusing.)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Christmas Food Traditions (Or Why We Eat Carnitas at Christmas)

My husband read that title and said, "Because they're good." True, but not quite where I was going with this post. 

Traditional holiday food is turkey and ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, rolls, deviled eggs, and desserts. Along with other items that vary by family and region. These dishes are all high in protein. (Seriously, count the protein in your food one day. It's a little shocking.) That means Micah can't eat them and there aren't many low-protein substitutes for turkey. 

So we have carnitas. Of course, the pork is high in protein as well. But the whole meal involves rice, refried beans, tortillas, pico de gallo, avocado, lettuce, cheese, etc.  Micah has a veggie mix in place of the pork and quite happily eats quite a few of the sides. 

Photo: Merry Christmas to me!  Homemade carnitas with all the fixings. Lisa is the best cook ever.

Traditions are great- until they don't work for your family. We don't like having meals that aren't adaptable for Micah, especially the ones that contain so many memories. I don't know how Micah will react to his metabolic disorder at any of the stages of his life besides this one. But I don't want to unnecessarily draw attention to the fact that he can't eat all the same things we do. I want our meals and traditions to be happy memories for him as well as everyone else. 

That's what you do for your children, for your family. You change. You grow to serve them. Having children changes your life. You don't have them to be happy or fulfill your own emotional needs. If God blesses you with children, you are to assist in raising God's children. Is there any greater honor? Is that not worth any sacrifice? (Not that carnitas are a sacrifice.)

Yea, that's the kid I'm talking about :) 

So we changed our tradition. We changed it to something we felt would better serve our family. And we are quite happy with it. We love carnitas and I hope it's a fun tradition we can continue for many years to come. Perhaps even when grandchildren are gathered around our table. 

What about you? Have you changed any traditions for your family? 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy Birthday (to me)!

Ok, I know I said no Monday posts but today's my birthday! I'm 27 and I just realized that I'm in my late twenties now! I know it's not old but sometimes I still think I'm supposed to be 19 or 22 or something... younger. The years go by faster and faster it seems.

photo courtesy of maple/

I was reading a book the other day that stated we subtly transform our person every five years by what we experience and read.

Who will I be in five years? You know, when I'm 32? (32!)

What I do today matters. Today. Tomorrow. Every day for the next year. And the one after that. What I do today tells me who I will be at 32.

What am I doing today? 

What are you doing today?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Blog Direction for the New Year

I'm making or have made several changes to the blog for this new year.  I've updated the About page, the Our Family page, and the Isovaleric Acidemia page! And don't forget to check out the new Bookshelf page! 

This year I'm going to move to a Tuesday/Thursday posting schedule. This is mostly to avoid having to make sure a post is finished on Sunday night to post on Monday morning.
Some weeks I'll do a Friday Favorites and other weeks I won't.  But the main focus of my posts this year are going to be about my focus for this year: the Word and my work. 

photo courtesy of stuart miles/

I'm not sharing these things because I'm an expert or because I think you should do your work like me. I share them because 

1. It's the best way for me to remember. I actually follow the thoughts through to a conclusion instead of simply jotting down a note (Although that is better than nothing)

2. Others have told me that it helps them. 

You don't like it? You don't agree?  Don't do it. Don't even read it. (That should bring in the blog readers, right?)

So I'll be writing on things I'm learning from the Bible and from books about the Bible. I'll be sharing some of my favorite books that have helped me. I have so many favorites! I'd like to feature one a month and share an important lesson that I've learned from it. 

We'll talk about things I'm learning as a mom, a wife, a homemaker. Stories from church and soul-winning. Explanations on how we do certain things about our home (like our Thanksgiving tree and other memory makers)

You'll still see cute pictures of my kids- because let's face it, they're adorable! You'll get links to great things I find around the web. You'll find some recipes and meal ideas. You'll hear my heart on being a Biblically feminine woman instead of a feminist woman. You'll get random posts about awesome and not-so-awesome happenings in life. 

Let's journey through 2014 together, shall we?

And you should thank me. My original draft of this post had 7 items in parentheses. Nothing better than talking with yourself in the post, right? 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Double Focus for the New Year

A new year seems like a blank slate. Unmarked, unwritten, and wrapped like a gift to open as the old year rings out. One more year of life that will pass much faster than seems possible. I know December will be here before I turn around and I want to do something with this year. Offer this gift back to God with each day. 

photo courtesy of idea go/

I've been considering my focus for the new year for several weeks now. What is worth my energy? Who would God have me be? In 2013 I read a lot by Marlene Evans.  She talks consistently about her burden for there to be "different Christian women." Even different from regular Christian ladies. Because how many of us really apply ourselves to be like Jesus? Not being "odd" or "weird,"- although others might think that- but being different in our dress, our speech, our attitude. I think I've settled on two subjects that will help me strive toward being a different Christian lady.  I want to be that lady that is "in the sight of God of great price."

1. A woman of the Word. 
I must be growing with Jesus. It is the catalyst for transformation in my life.  If I want to grow as a wife, as a mother, as anything, I must grow as a Christian.

-I've followed a reading program for years. But in November I changed how I do my reading. I've always read a certain number of chapters a day but now I'm reading for a certain amount of time a day. I can stop on one verse or thought and explore it and pray for a while and then go on instead of hurrying through to get my chapters done. It's been a great change for me.  

-I've also been trying to dig into the Gospels. I've read them all multiple multiple times but I don't know any one of them well. So I've started with Mark and I'm reading and rereading and taking notes and marking things and outlining. 

-Also I'm reading through the Bible chronologically for the first time. I'm over a hundred days into it and it's very interesting. 

2. A woman of my work. 
So many people do their best to avoid work. Or do the least to get by. Or do it halfheartedly. Or do it grumbling.  Instead I want to grab hold of the work God has given me and do it willingly, sacrificially, enthusiastically, purposefully. I want to do my work as a wife, mom, homemaker, soulwinner, church worker, pianist, and everything else I do with all the energy I have. Maybe nobody sees it. Maybe nobody notices. But God does. And I want to pursue excellence in this life He has given me. 
Excellence is doing a common thing in an uncommon way. Booker T. Washington
There are many people raising babies and taking care of their home. There are many people loving a man and playing the piano. But if I do it God's way it will be an uncommon way. Our marriage raises eyebrows. So does the way we raise our kids. And that's ok. It's a common thing and people expect it to be common. But it doesn't have to be. 

I know I've talked about these issues before. But the more I study and read the more I see that this might be the sole focus of my entire life. 

So this year won't you join me? Won't you join me in focusing on God's Word? Spending time in it. Learning Jesus. And then be about the work God has given you.