Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Start of Friendships

We have some friends over regularly. The kind of friends where you don't worry about whether you've gotten the kitchen cleaned up before you sit down to eat or if the kids ask to sit on their lap before they have cleaned their plates.  I usually make carnitas and we sit around the table shoving our faces full of tasty pork and toppings while we discuss work and family and vacations. 

That friendship is precious and deep and it's lasted almost ten years. And it all started one day in college. 

I can still picture the office where I stood by the printer filling out my timesheet.  I tutored in the Academic Resource Center at our college for scholarship requirements and for workstudy money and I was there a lot. A girl I barely knew struck up a conversation about the Resident Assistant interviews we had both participated in the day before. 

That day I didn't know what we were starting. I didn't know that we would stand in each other's weddings. I didn't know that they would sit with us in the NICU watching our son battle for his life. I didn't know that we would share meal after meal, dreams for our futures, spots in crowds at graduations and ceremonies and fireworks. I didn't know that we would start yearly traditions of collegiate volleyball games, vacations at the beach, or summertime swimming in their pool. 

Of course I have other friendships and I don't remember their definite beginning. It was just one interaction after another. While I can't see the outcome I do know that I'm better every time I step outside myself. When I leave the black hole of "What will they think of me?" and instead ask, "What do they need?" I shift the focus from me to them. It's not an easy thing to walk up to someone new. To go to someone who might think you are strange, someone who might be a little quirky themselves and put your hand out. I've been burned doing this. There have been people who have entered my life and it didn't work out well. But I'm still better for having done it. 

Friends aren't going to drop in our laps. If we want friends we have to be friendly. And to find those close friends we are going to have be friendly to a lot of people.  But beyond ourselves and finding new friendships, you've been the new person. Isn't life easier when someone steps up and introduces herself? When you have a face and a name and a number to text in a new city? When you have someone to bring you food after you have a baby? When you have someone to go with you to that doctor's appointment or college graduation? Be that person for someone else where you are. 

I've been places where I've felt excluded. Sometimes I'm still not sure where I fit in, what my "group" is. While that used to bother me I'm learning that it's a valuable part of my life. Instead of having my group I'm talking to this person and then popping over to ask this woman about her sick kid, her aging parents, her brother that's in jail. My circle widens as I care about others and their lives instead of just my own. 

It all starts with, "Hi, my name is Lisa." I don't have to have a speech or a witty saying or an impressive fact about myself. A simple "Hi, what's your name?" works fine. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Natural Childbirth- And All the Possible Disclaimers

This is a post I was leery of writing but was encouraged to by several friends. It's not a birth story but men, be warned, it's close. Birth is intensely personal. Most women go into it making the best decisions they can and then moving on with whatever happens. I find that most natural birth stories imply that's the best way to give birth so let me offer my disclaimer. 

I don't care how you have your babies. There are no varying degrees of womanhood that hinge upon the method of childbirth you choose (or have by necessity). 

I choose to try no meds with the first for three reasons. 
1. They leave that epidural in your back. That is totally freaky to me. Also they can have side effects, however rare they are. 
2. I tend to react in strange manners to meds so why add that possible complication to labor?
3. I didn't want anyone to have to tell me to push. (Ok, that was really a reason for #2 and #3.)

Now are there occasions when I would have an epidural? You better believe it! And a c-section would be very welcome in a medical emergency. That's why I prefer to be at the hospital even though I don't like everything about it.

I don't frequently bring up natural childbirth but I've had conversations lately with several women who wanted to attempt it. So here are some ways that I make labor and delivery more doable for myself. (And please, none of this is medical advice. I delay at home in labor as long as possible and it drives my husband crazy.  You might not should do that. Follow your doctor's advice, ok?) Here goes.

1. Keep it quiet. I want everyone to be quiet and leave me alone. Don't talk to me. Don't ask me questions. And certainly don't turn on the tv. (Some people really like music during labor. I'm afraid I would never want to listen to it again.)

2. Keep it calm.  I do not like to have people in my room. Although I'm relaxing about this- I actually let a student stay when I had my third. But less people equals less noise. 

3. Don't tense up during contractions. Purposefully relax even your big toe if you are tightening up. None of the dramatic hand-crushing tv scenarios. Sorry. 

4. Breathe slowly and deeply during contractions.  However I never did the lamaze breathing. 

5. Don't lie on your back. Nothing makes contractions worse than being on your back, especially if you are having back labor. 

5. Be nice to your nurses. It won't kill you, even if you are in labor. They won't mind if you don't chat it up or if you wait to answer a question until a contraction is over. But be kind. They are there to help you.

6. Pray. A "Jesus, help me" during each contraction will do. You don't have to get all flowery or eloquent. 

7. Remember "this too shall pass." Seriously, contractions come and go (back labor not so much though). You will eventually have that baby. Labor is not forever. 

This is obviously not a comprehensive look at labor and delivery or natural childbirth or anything really. I should include thoughts like "enjoy one of those popsicles before you get in transition and don't want one." Or "stay home and distract yourself for longer than you think is necessary because anything is nicer than hospitals and iv's before you have to do it." But I'll skip all of that. If you want to discuss more- email me

Give birth however works for you. I do know it is miraculous to realize what actually happens. A small human has grown in your body and you're about to hold him in your arms. Congratulations, Mama! 

P.S. Even though it's not the best quality picture, that is my absolute favorite mama picture up there!

And p.p.s. Don't say, "But it was all worth it, right?" especially if you're a man. It makes me want to punch you in the face. 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What God's Work and Breakfast Have in Common

During one of my morning runs (you know, back when I was doing that thing) I was watching the fog roll across the mountains and thinking about our Sunday School lessons. We were learning about who God is and we started with God the Creator. He made everything and He holds it all together. He inhabits eternity and gives life and breath to all things (Acts 17:25).

I started thinking about how He makes the sun rise every morning. He puts the fog in the air. He makes the baby birds chirp. He makes the seasons rotate- spring, summer, fall, winter without fail just as He promised after the flood (Genesis 8:22). He made each valley and each mountain. He paints every single flower with color. 

Parts of God's work are as routine as ours. We get up each morning and spend time with Him. We get dressed, make the beds, make the breakfast, clean up the spills, apologize for messing up, forgive others, cook lunch, fold the laundry, change the diapers, take little boys to the potty, push the swings, practice the same piano chords, sit at the keyboard and write again, kiss the husband welcome home, give the baths, tuck children in bed. Then later we collapse into bed and get up to do it all over again. And again. And again. 

Just like God does. The God who gives breath to our bodies and air to our lungs does it with every breath. The same God pumps blood with our hearts and fills the world with sunshine every day. He sends the rain and makes the grass grow. His work is infinite. It's universal and breathtaking.  But He also does what seems to be mundane by repetition.  The beautiful peonies that bloom for such a short time- all that effort and labor for something no one may see or appreciate and yet they are gorgeous. The sunsets are painted in stunning color every single night. Most people don't even notice but they are always there. The stars that twinkle- that's just the few we can see. They spread out in a vastness that's hard for us to understand. There are wonders in the galaxy that no human will ever see and yet God made them. God sustains them. 

Why do we expect our work to be any different? We also have a work and it's often repetitive. It feels ordinary. Our wild hearts crave adventure and applause and fame instead of desiring faithfulness to making our world beautiful and sustaining the part of the work that we are to do. 

That breakfast we cheerfully offer every morning because bellies are hungry. That diaper we change with the giggle and game for the precious little boy heart. The hello kiss we save for the husband who has labored in his own part of the work that day. Do they not all beautify our world regardless of how ordinary they seem? 

Over and over, seemingly on repeat, we serve with work that's not noticed, not applauded. We should do that work with faithfulness and a desire for excellence. God doesn't skimp on those flowers even though He makes so many and has for so many years. They are all individual works of art. That's how I want to approach my day: as an individual work of art. What am I putting into today? 

Our work is a pale shadow of what God does. It's not beneath us to plug away at the ordinary. It's a fulfillment of our being. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Our Family Motto- At Least for Accidents

Someone accidentally dumps his cheerios at snacktime. The cup gets knocked off the table at lunch. The toy tower gets kicked over again. We change dinner time because Justin has to work late. We change clothes and run lunch out to him at work. 

Life doesn't always ever go just as we'd like. 

When it doesn't- whether because of accidents or changes in plans- we're trying to teach the boys to respond with "No big deal." 

No big deal that we're sweeping up cheerios again. 
No big deal that we're retying the shoes. 
No big deal that we were planning on reading and now we need to give the baby a bath first because he had a blowout. 
No big deal that we need to pick up what we dropped when we walked down the hallway. 

I want to teach them that most things are just no big deal. They might not be what we expected or wanted. We might be tired of doing that particular thing. We might be frustrated at doing something again. We may want to be upset with someone who inconvenienced us. But instead we're going to take a deep breath and say, "No big deal." Because really- it's not. 

None of those things matter and we can control how we act about things. We need to consider how we make others feel by our actions or reactions. We need to make ourselves enjoyable for others to be around even when things aren't going the way we would like. (We all know those people that are difficult to be around unless everything goes just their way.) So we say "No big deal." 

This seems to take a lot of work to teach. But we keep going over and over how we want to respond to accidents and inconveniences. 

It often takes me longer to grasp concepts than it does the children. I get tired of the monotony some days. I don't want to clean up another accident or sweep up the cheerios or change the shirt because someone spilled spaghetti sauce on it at lunch. I never knew how much grace and patience I was lacking until it was tried every day. It's easy to think that you are patient and kind when you are surrounded by adults who mostly treat you in a mature way. It's more difficult with little people who act like little people. Little people who don't know how they are supposed to act and are sometimes slower at learning it than we would like. 

So I'm learning to say "no big deal" and do with a cheerful heart. To do it with actions that back up the words and give them the peace to own "no big deal" for themselves. If you say "no big deal" to the little things then you save your energy for the things that are a big deal. That's really a better place for it, don't you think? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Conferences and Change

Sometimes you need a kick in the pants to get moving; sitting still is always comfortable. I'm part of The Influence Network and I love their monthly classes (writing and painting, anyone?). Each year they have a big conference in Indianapolis in September and I said, "eh, I'll go next year." 

Guess what? There is no next year. This is the year of the last big conference. (I feel like that could be an official title. "Year of the Last Big Conference": doubt they're going to take that up.)

So I'm going this year. Justin and I discussed it for weeks. How we would work out the money and the details and the children. And then we discussed it some more. Finally we decided it was worth doing and I bought my ticket. 

I'll be there a month from today. Right now I am all kinds of excited and not nervous at all. When it gets closer I know I'll be all kinds of nervous but hopefully still excited. 
It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things. Leonardo Da Vinci
It's easier to just keep doing the same things. I could practice piano faithfully every day and in twenty years my playing could sound exactly the same if I don't change how I practice and learn new things. 

Change is uncomfortable. Even considering change makes me mentally tired. I would rather just go to sleep. But it's necessary for growth. (Maybe that's why babies sleep so much? Or at least you hope they do.)

Change is why I'm working on different ideas for the blog facebook page instead of just quitting it. 

Change is why I'm working on post ideas for #write31days. I'm going to participate this year and I have an awesome topic that I can't wait to write about and share with you. Follow along on the facebook page for some question and answer sessions about that. 

Change is why Phylicia and I started the podcast. We wanted to use a different avenue to get out the message that Jesus can change your life. Being a Christian isn't living the same life just knowing the end is different. God wants to transform your entire life. 

Change is why I refuse to make excuses. It's why I'm turning in the volunteer application for our crisis pregnancy center. It's why I'm going to a planning meeting for a local homeschool volleyball team (I may get to help. There is a serious happy dance going on here.)

It's easier to decide to do it next year or next time. Of course that's out of the way with the conference. It's the last year they are doing it. But what about other things? I'll start the diet next week. I'll work on my ________ skill next month. I'll write that letter, call that friend, take that class next semester. What are you waiting on? What's wrong with today? Get over there to the instrument and practice. Drag out the camera and take some pictures. Sit down at the computer and code or write. 

Work takes effort. Growing is hard; stagnation is easy. But only one of them will get you to the life that you want to have years from now. Consider just one year from now. Think about where you could be if you did the work today. However small it may be, if you do the work today (500 words, a tiny sketch, editing a blog post, 30 minutes of piano) and then you do the work tomorrow and the next day and the next day in a year you'll have made significant progress. 

Decide to do hard. Don't take the easy way. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Four Causes of Creative Block

I write every day except Sundays. The words come best in the morning when I'm excited about life (i.e. after I've woken up) and worst at night when the day has drained me. I look forward to writing. But there have been times that I've sat down to write and had nothing to say. Absolutely nothing. I could barely manage nonsensical sentences about what happened that day. Despite my pile of ideas to work from words would not come. That's an awkward, horrible feeling. You start to think things like, "What if I never have words again? Is everything I write as bad as I feel like this is? What if I never have ideas I like again?"

When I stop and think about it I realize these times come and go. They come and it's hard but then they leave and I have about five ideas a day. So I jot them down and pick one a day and go with it. 

These creative blocks are usually caused by the same problems. 

1. Physical exhaustion. One time I accidentally waited until bedtime to write after a day that we spent driving to Kingsport, visiting both sets of grandparents, and then driving three hours back home. I forgot that I hadn't written and you know what? I was exhausted. That was horrible writing. It was about nothing and it was hard to do. Exhaustion seriously strains brain power and creativity. 

2. Burdens. As much as I love my life it's not always easy. But I have something to do with my problems- I can take them to Jesus. When I do, I find I can put them from my mind and create. When I don't I find they are overwhelming and use all the brain space. I should not try to carry my problems myself; I am not strong enough. 

3. Lack of input. I have to be feeding my creativity. It's hard to find time to read but the time is there. I need to read my Bible. I need to read good books. I should be listening to podcasts and music. I should be writing down every idea I think of- even if it seems a little dumb. I should see pretty things as often as possible. Visual content is important and it can train your mind to look at life a little differently.

4. Lack of discipline. I usually have a topic in the back of my mind when I sit down to write. However, I've been working on assigning myself a topic and writing about that even if I don't feel inspired.  It's really pushing me in a good way. I've gotten some great ideas and blog posts from this method. 

When you don't have words or ideas keep your routine. Don't stop there or the ideas will die. They are on vacation but you're still working. When you force yourself through that uncomfortable thirty minutes of writing with nothing to say you are imprinting on your mind that it's time to work. You are teaching yourself to persevere; that you don't just write because it's easy or comfortable. The ideas will come back. Rest, read, and pray. Then make yourself work. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Introducing the Uniquely Woman Podcast

You don't have to be great to start but you have to start to be great. 

You have to start to learn how to do something well. You don't know how to be a mother when you have that first baby. You don't know how to blog when you publish that first blog post.

And you don't know how to podcast until you start podcasting.

Introducing the Uniquely Woman podcast! Phylicia and I have been working on this project over the summer and are excited to share this resource with you. We will be discussing how to live as Christian women in today's culture, how to think Biblically, and how to make decisions that honor God. There are currently three episodes in iTunes now and we will be releasing new episodes on Wednesdays.

You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes. Please be sure to leave a review after you've listened!

You can connect with us on Facebook at Uniquely Woman. We would love to hear your questions and thoughts about womanhood and faith! You can also email us at

This is only made possible by the technical support of my husband. He's pretty great. And techy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How To Be a Better Wife

One of my deepest fears is that my husband or one of my boys will die. I doubt I'm alone in that. To love is to be vulnerable. And not just vulnerable to the loss of that person but also to their actions. You cannot experience the benefits of love without the vulnerability that it demands. 

Marriage is a deep commitment. It's a bond that strengthens and develops (at least with two people who are seeking to serve Jesus) over time. My husband is my best friend. He is my favorite person and I love to have him around. But we're not just husband and wife. First we are Christians and knowing that changes my marriage. 

Marriage isn't eternal even though it's supposed to be to the death. (Matthew 22:30) My husband could die. (Perish the thought as he was in the air when I wrote this.) My husband could walk away from Jesus and our family. I can't imagine the totally separate and terrible pain of those but it wouldn't be the end.

Being a wife is a role that God has given me; it's designed into this life that I live now. But it's not who I am. I am a daughter of God.

This husband is not just mine. He belongs to God first and I am here to help him. I am here to cheer him on and I have to release him to do his work. Sometimes it means he's not home as much as I would like. My attitude makes a big difference with his traveling and his work and his work at church. I can make him miserable or I can send him on to do God's work for him regardless of the cost to me. (My husband prioritizes our family well but this is still a fact of life.) 

I do not expect my husband to make me happy. That is not his job. He is as incapable of making me happy as I am incapable of making him happy. That is between my heart and God. I must go to God for many things that it would easier to expect of my husband. Easier for me to expect but impossible for him to perform. 

I don't get my worth from my husband. My husband thinks well of me; he believes in my talents and abilities. But if he were to walk away from our marriage and tell me that I was worthless and ugly and useless it wouldn't make those things true. Nothing would have changed. Yes, those words would hurt my heart but they would not be true. My worth comes from what God says about me and He says that Jesus went to the cross for me. That's all I need to know. 

That means I can free my husband from the responsibility of making me feel valuable or important. He doesn't have to make me happy. I can get all of that from God and be free to give myself to him and this marriage and our family.

Because he's not just mine and I'm not just a wife. There is a fine line between prioritizing my husband as my most important person and expecting him to be my everything. Knowing that makes me a better wife. 

Monday, August 10, 2015

When I Was Scared of Flunking Out of College

I made a 76 on my first test in college. It was in health. You know that class everyone has to take and you mostly talk about STD's? Yeah, that one. Maybe you don't think that's a terrible grade but I was valedictorian of my high school class (out of 13 people, it doesn't go to my head) and a 76 was a life sentence to possibly flunking out. Every semester after going to each class and scoping out the teachers and syllabi I spent the next week freaking out that this was going to be the semester that I flunked out of college. 

My husband still teases me about that. 

I didn't flunk out of college. I had learned enough by then to know that I couldn't let the possibility of failure stop me from trying. Just because I worried that I was going to flunk out of college did not mean that I should quit college to avoid the embarrassment. You will do nothing with your life if your sole goal is to avoid all embarrassment and failure. 

The desire to prevent ourselves from being hurt could rob of us of many opportunities and blessings in life. We could not get married because our spouse might leave, cheat, or die. We could not have kids because they might become ill or grow up and break our hearts. We could not go to college just in case we can't cut it once we are there. We could not truly give ourselves to the work God has put before us so that if we fail we can say, "Well, I didn't really try" as if that's a good excuse. 

Sometimes you have to step out in faith. Faith that you can do the work in college or that you can get the remediation that you need. Faith that God will sustain your marriage or sustain you through it. Faith that God will equip you for the work and that failure might be the catalyst for growth that you need. 

That one week every semester that I spent worried about flunking out of college was not wasted- although it was silly. It was excellent motivation for me to do my best work: to go to class, participate, take notes, do the homework, and get the grades. Fear doesn't have to be wasted but it shouldn't control you. Fear used wisely can help you guard your marriage, commit the people in your life to God, and seek His will for every path in front of you. 

Fear, like all emotions, can serve you well but makes a poor master. 

Maybe you feel fear at whatever you are facing. That's not unusual. There are several things in my own life presently that make me think, "Who do I think I am?" The point isn't that I feel "legitimate." The point is that I am following God. 

God is not intimidated by your problem or concerned by what you don't know. He does, after all, know all. God is not worried that you will make a mistake and ruin His plan. Step out into what you know He wants you to do. 

Don't let fear be your master. 

And if you're going back to school, go to class. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why I Don't Blog (Much) About Our Kids

My blog, like many others, started out as a place to share about my kids- well, then just kid. See the adorableness that was baby Micah? (And that recipe is on point; don't let the bad photo turn you off. Or the bad writing.) I shared recipes occasionally as well, obviously. Gradually I started sharing what I was learning and how life was changing. Over the past two years it's turned into a serious project where I blog about faith and marriage and motherhood, how you approach your work and why today matters. 

Even though I blog about motherhood, I blog about how motherhood has changed and stretched me and not about what my kids are doing. I don't tell my frustrations in detail or share a child's name over a potty-training or attitude problem. That's why I don't regularly discuss Micah's IVA or related issues in detail either. I want to have the same respect for my kids online as I do for my husband or my best friend. I'd rather be overpicky about what I post about them. 

I follow true mom bloggers. I love it. I don't think it's wrong; it's not that I don't enjoy it. It's just not for us at this stage of life. As they get older it seems like that will be even more true. They are their own people. I want to respect that and their future on the internet. 

The internet is going to be around forever. Unless the future works out like it did in the movie Transcendence. But that's unlikely to happen so I'm going to treat it like it will be around forever. 

That means when my kids are grown they'll be able to look back and see what I said about them. Did I make fun of their problems? Did I use them for fodder for jokes and witticisms about motherhood? Did I resent the work that it was to raise them? 

Their future bosses may look them up online. What stories do I want them to find? I doubt any grown man wants his potential employer to read a story that involves the words "three-year-old" and "potty."  

So am I a mommy blogger? I don't think so, at least not any more. But I do blog about motherhood and what a profound change it's brought to my life. I expressed to someone last night that motherhood had done more to sanctify me than anything else. It was easy to think that I was an good person until I was surrounded by needy children all day. Then I realized that I'm hateful, selfish, lazy. I want to have my own way and not be inconvenienced. I want to pursue my own goals and plans and dreams and not be bothered with the "little" work that grows and grows throughout the day. Motherhood has exposed me for what I am. And it's not pretty. 

Motherhood is good for me.  Responding to the challenges of raising His children has changed me. But the stories aren't just mine. That's why they stay protected. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

What Cecil the Lion and Planned Parenthood Have in Common

Cecil the Lion has been all over the media. I've read a variety of responses most of which border on extremism one way or the other. Last week I saw a video that focused on only one aspect of the situation: how we all need forgiveness. 

This applies to the gamut of explosive media these past few weeks. What happened to Cecil is horrible. He was lured off a game preserve and killed in a cruel manner.  You can read about the hunt anywhere on the Internet. 

The public reaction has been cruel as well. The way we treat our fellow humans astounds me. Technology allows news to travel the world almost immediately and social media allows anyone to give his opinion on it, sometimes anonymously and without shame. The screens empower a mob mentality. 

Many despise this dentist. If someone were to kill him, few would protest. That is just as wrong as killing the lion was. I don't understand the appeal of trophy hunting but it is legal in many African countries. (I realize the way this one particular hunt was carried out was not.) But instead of desiring Walter Palmer's personal destruction, why not petition for these hunts for endangered animals to stop? 

Palmer's been in trouble for hunting animals outside the law before and he should answer for any crimes he has committed. Others are already being tried. We do have to answer for our actions. But hunting people down to condemn them for their actions and destroy them for our cause is wrong. Calling for Palmer's head on a platter doesn't help the situation. It won't even stop the hunts. Are we just looking for a fall guy or are we looking for change? Are you mad about one incident or are you angry that endangered animals are being killed? We are able to pursue justice and not wish for personal destruction because forgiveness does not remove consequences.

Someone tweeted that Cecil's killing made them hate humans even more. (Tweets are forever thanks to screenshots.) A lion will not die for you. There are people who would and One who already did. I said last week that the ground at the cross was level and it applies here too. Regardless of how good or bad we think we are or how good or bad we think our neighbor is, we all stand as sinners. 

We cannot measure up to Christ's standard of perfection and therefore we deserve condemnation. But God offers forgiveness. The consequences of sin weren't ignored by the forgiveness. Jesus took the consequences when He died on the cross. Today we can stand forgiven by God and others and still have to answer for what we do.

I have to extend this to areas that I don't want to. Planned Parenthood, for example. I'm not making a statement on the recently released videos. I haven't watched them because all I can picture is my baby's face when I consider it. But according to the CDC, over 730,000 REPORTED abortions were performed in the U.S. in 2011. (There is no requirement for reporting abortion numbers hence the emphasis.) 

Babies, precious babies. I despise abortion. I think that those doctors and counselors who encourage women to have abortions and who perform abortions ought to answer for their horrific actions. 

But Jesus loves them too. Jesus died for each of those people who have gleefully chuckled over the murder and dismemberment of infants. That chokes me to write but I don't get to decide truth based on my feelings. 

Legality does not equal morality. Abortion is legal but it's not right. I realize that making abortion illegal doesn't fix the problems. It doesn't fix the heart problems of women seeking abortions of convenience or men pushing them to have one. It doesn't fix the resource problems of women who feel they are or who really are incapable of caring for a child. It doesn't fix the problem of who is going to provide support while the mother is pregnant, help care for this child after he or she is born, or give anything besides condemning glares for her getting pregnant in an undesirable situation. 

We have lost the ability to do what's right regardless of the cost to ourselves. And I'm not talking about the women who have abortions. I mean us, the Christians who oppose abortion. What have you done? Not what have you talked about, ranted about, or thought about. What have you done to help a woman considering abortion? What have you done to encourage motherhood? What have you done to support a single mother or encourage a teenager considering placing her baby up for adoption? What have you done to encourage adopting couples? 

What is your attitude toward your own children? Or your neighbor's children? 

I've always been annoyed by people who complain but won't try to change. Don't whine to me that you're overweight when you're eating your daily Big Mac. Now it's time to turn that standard on myself. Am I going to complain about abortion or am I going to do something? If every person who opposed abortion did something, even just a small something, it would turn into something big. 

What something? Some will be able to do more than others. The season of life you are in may prevent you from doing as much as you would want. I'm not sure what it looks like in my own life to be honest, at least not in real, practical steps. But we can express gladness about each baby, regardless of the situation. We can offer help to the one struggling mom we do know. We can participate in adoption fundraisers. We can call community resources and see if we can do anything to help. 

If we are going to be pro-life we are going to have to help make lives for these children. Whether that's helping their mothers or inviting them into our own lives. I'm not saying that's easy. I have three small children, one with special medical needs, and I understand how challenging children are. But are we going to stand on the pro-life platform to make ourselves feel better or to make a difference in lives? We the church are often the least effective at loving in real practical ways. We are like the people that Jesus condemned for telling others to be warmed and filled while they did nothing.

It's easy to insist that if people just lived by Bible morality these problems wouldn't exist. We need to stop expecting unbelievers to live like they know Jesus (or believers to always obey). If we meet others where they are (where Jesus met each of us) we can make a difference in individual lives and we stand a much better chance of convincing the lost that Jesus cares for them. They must see it in us first.

You are smart, caring people. What are ways we can help? How do you help? How have you seen others make a difference? 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Our Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite thing to do with cookie dough isn't to bake cookies. It's to eat it. Raw, preferably after thawing for a few moments because it's just better after it's been frozen. This practice is enough to make my husband gag since he's not into any form of raw dough. I've introduced our boys to bread dough (no egg since they break out) and he shudders at that too. 

These baked cookies are his favorite though. He loves to come home and see them cooling on the pan. Kevin's always there to beg a bite too, as if he's not eaten any. 


Here's to cookies! Make them all and share with someone. Or make a pan, roll the rest of the dough into balls, and freeze for later. The toasted pecans are my favorite part but Justin doesn't like them. Also- I've never tried to freeze the dough with nuts. I wouldn't think it would be a problem but you let me know if you try it. 

(This did some from an old cookbook of my mama's. We've made it for years.)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips

other additions of your choice (white chocolate chips, m&m's, candy bar chunks, etc.)

To toast pecans, melt one tablespoon butter in an oven-safe dish and add chopped pecans. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, stirring two or three times. You should start to smell a heavenly aroma. (You can also do this on the stovetop in a dry pan for a shorter amount of time but what's the fun in that?)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. 

In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars.

Beat in eggs and vanilla until just combined. 

Add flour mixture in thirds and mix well after each addition. 

Stir in toasted pecans and chocolate chips. 

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons two inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. 

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until golden. 

Transfer to wire rack to cool. 

Then you eat them. It'll brighten up your Monday.