Tag Archives: life

A Psalm for Moms

19 Jan

God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

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Though everything I do immediately gets undone,

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Though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

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Though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.IMG_6046 IMG_6047

“God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble. 

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Though its waters roar and foam,

Though the mountains tremble at its swelling.”

(Psalm 46:1-3)

The Importance of Eternity

12 Nov

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If you’ve read my blog for a while, you probably know that I spend a lot of time focusing on accepting the circumstances God allows – true joy comes from surrendering to His plan. It’s waaay easier said than done because to be honest, I often don’t like the circumstances He allows. They’re hard. They hurt. Sometimes they just plain suck. But the truth remains: If I want joy, I must humbly submit myself and my life to God.

I still wholeheartedly believe in this and the book I’m working on is about how I got to that place. But I’ve noticed a potentially bad result of that mindset: forgetting eternity.

Finding joy by accepting what God allows isn’t just about making this life more bearable. The Bible is full of verses about the importance and benefits of trials, suffering, and persecution in a believer’s life. But the reason WHY those are so valuable is eternity.

The apostle Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15:19, “If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.” God is our hope and joy in this life only because He’s our hope and joy in the next. There is no gospel without eternity. We cannot let go of this life and truly trust God with everything unless we are staking our hearts on another life, a better one – one spent face to face with Him. Paul also wrote, “My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” (Philippians 1:23b)

It’s good to give thanks for God’s daily, tangible blessings and provision — doing so helps me connect the larger reality of the gospel to my everyday life. But it’s best to give thanks for salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. Only that will never change and never be taken away.

Though Satan should buffet
Though trials should come
Let this blessed assurance control
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul

Worth Repeating {11/10/14}

10 Nov

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Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. I struggle with loneliness (because you’re alone, and yet not) a lot, even though I’ve been getting back into the swing of normal life. My kneejerk reaction to emotions that I don’t like is numbness – going through life on autopilot. But depending on God during the hard times meaning acknowledging the hardness, and trusting Him to be sufficient in the midst of it all.

That’s why I like this quote that I found on Pinterest. Such a great reminder that the hard times have their purpose.

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In the Swing of Things

9 Nov

One of the hardest things about moving back to Minnesota was the ‘stalling’ of normal life. We spent 3 months living in a town an hour away from where we knew we were moving, so it was very impractical to get involved in anything, in either place. Our lives were essentially on hold – especially, it felt, for me. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first time since being on maternity leave. I didn’t have a house to manage, decorate or organize. I didn’t have any activities or obligations. I was floundering.

God used that season to test my faith, and stretch me beyond my comfort zone. I was reminded that growth never comes from doing what’s easy or comfortable – only from being pushed beyond what we think we can handle. That said, I’m glad that season is coming to a close!

Emma and I finally have some semblance of a ‘normal’ weekly schedule. (With Travis’ crazy work schedule, our family’s schedule still isn’t normal, but hopefully it will be more so by the beginning of next year.)

I joined MOPS, which meets about 2 Mondays a month (some months only 1).

I enrolled Emma in an Early Childhood and Family Education class, which I attend with her, called Time Together on Thursdays. We do crafts; learn animals, songs and sign language; and play with other kids.

We have been going to the same church for the past month or so. We’re not ready to commit to being members yet, but we like what we’ve seen and heard so far. And we’ve met a lot of great people, which has been so nice.

I’m in a book study with 3 other ladies on Thursday nights. We’ve been reading The Home Experience by Devi Titus and while she’s very southern and some of her suggestions are impractical for mothers of preschoolers, it has been a great encouragement in this season of staying home to study how being a wife and mother is a valuable, worthwhile calling, and how I can bless those around me by taking it seriously.

And finally, starting next week, Emma will be going to daycare one day a week on Tuesdays – so that Mommy can have a break and pursue her dream of writing a book!

It is very nice to have life starting to look more ‘normal’ again. I’m glad, though, that it has taken as long as it has, because we have been able to be intentional about what we’re filling up our weeks with, instead of just adding stuff for the sake of being busy.

Now if my husband were just able to stop working so much, we’d be set!

{Reblog} A very present help in trouble.

19 Jan

I was thinking about these ‘customized’ verses this morning and thought I’d share them again. Though they’re not authoritative like God’s Word, they are still good reminders of Truth, and of His love. Enjoy! (I’ll be back soon with my 9-month… almost 10-month… postpartum update!)

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Originally posted June 9, 2010

The past two months (since April 8, the day we got Charlie*) have been a blur. As a person who does not handle busyness well but who has been ridiculously busy (in my book), I have been pleasantly surprised more than once that I have only had 1 or 2 meltdowns. That, my friends, is a new record.

I have not handled every situation well. I have yelled, cried, slapped, whined, slandered, complained, pitied, and doubted God. All of which Satan pounced on to make me feel like a horrible person who deserved nothing but a swift kick to the head.

Then I stumbled across Psalm 46 one morning (after having searched for the verse the previous morning and not been able to find it):

God is our refuge and strength, 

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way,

though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

though it waters roar and foam,

though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

This was exactly what I had needed – and wanted – to hear. The storms of life aren’t evidence that God doesn’t love or care about me. “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” God has been teaching me in this season of life how to weather storms with Him instead of apart from Him. Clinging to the truth of His love for me, instead of believing lies like “God doesn’t care about what’s happening to me” and “He won’t help me with this; I have to do it myself.”

To make this hit home even a little more, I rewrote that passage of Psalm 46 in my own words:

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trouble.

Therefore I will not fear though all order breaks loose,

though everything I do immediately gets undone,

though I am overwhelmed and underequipped,

though my sanity is upheld by the tiniest thread.

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help with dogs who are trouble.

Therefore I will not fear though I cannot tame them,

though they do not listen to my commands,

though they destroy my home and possessions,

though they try my patience to its breaking point.

  • God is my refuge and strength,

a very present help in trials.

Therefore I will not despair though I feel condemned by my sin,

though I feel insufficient and worthless,

though I am accused of not being enough,

though my flesh is weak and my heart fails me.

No matter what life or Satan or my own stupid fault throws at me, I have hope because “This I know, that God is for me.”

Another rewording of mine, from Psalms 46 and 70:

The river of grace is a constant stream.

It makes glad the dwelling of God,

the holy habitation of the Most High.

God lives within her; she shall not give up.

God will help her when she needs it.

Though she is poor and needy,

God will hasten to her rescue.

He only is her help and her deliverer;

He will not delay!

……………………

* Now, this could be changed to “since April 7, the day Emma was born”!

Harnessing Guilt for Good

19 Dec

A feeling I have often, but especially at Christmastime, is Too Much to Do and Too Little Time. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. This year, I had wanted to take some time everyday to sit down with our family and do an Advent activity. Here it is, December 19 and we haven’t even cracked our Bible. One day last week, I was thinking through all the things on my to-do list and thought, “Wait a minute. How did my schedule get completely filled up?” I thought that I was being modest with my Christmas plans but December has a way of filling up without you even trying.

And as it happens whenever I start feeling overwhelmed by one aspect of my life, I started thinking about all the other aspects of my life that I’m “failing” at – like prayer, Bible study, thoughtfulness for friends, exercise, organization, etc. – and then I not only feel overwhelmed, I also feel guilty.

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At those times, I think most people (including myself) have two main reactions: 1) Try to do it all or 2) Stop caring. In a sermon I heard several years ago by Steve Shank of Sovereign Grace, he told of a 3rd option. Talking about Philippians 4:12, he said that apostle Paul had learned to be content with what he had, while also desiring more. How is that possible? When you recognize that the person who gets you from Point A to Point B, from the reality of your life to what you want it to be, isn’t YOU but GOD, then you can be content with What Is, while still longing for What Could Be.

So I don’t have to choose between trying to do it all or just not caring. I can stop trying even though I care. Instead of swinging to one end or the other of the spectrum, there’s a tension in the middle where I can recognize the things I want to be true in my life, but I don’t strive to make them happen. I don’t stop caring, but I do stop striving.

My reaction to that kind of statement 4 years ago would’ve been “Say what?!? If I’m not the one doing it, then how will it get done?” And the answer is the Holy Spirit. The presence of God. When we have a relationship with God through Christ, we not only have His promise that the verdict is in and we are righteous in His eyes – we also have His promise that He will make us into the people He has created us to be. “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

The Spirit is the connection between God’s promise and the reality of it happening. He is the tangible, practical outworking of God’s power in our lives. So when I want to be more intentional about praying for people, I don’t have to say “Ok, I’m going to pray for 15 minutes every morning starting at 7:30.” There’s nothing wrong with that if God leads me to that, but my first response to a conviction shouldn’t be activity. Instead of seeing a problem in my life and determining the course of action to remedy it, God wants me to take that conviction and turn to Him in prayer. Ask Him to help me pray for others more often – and then TRUST that He will help me, by reminding me to pray for others, giving me the desire to pray for them when I do remember, growing my understanding of His love for me so that I think of myself less often and of others more often.

When God is the one leading, real change happens. When I’m the one determining what needs to get done, I eventually lose steam and end up right back where I started – and so the cycle begins again.

That’s why there are no specific commands in the Bible. Because the outworking of the Spirit’s conviction and the Christian life look differently for everyone. God says “Be hospitable” and “Give to the needy” and “Remember the poor” – those are pretty vague. I used to be frustrated and think “But what does that look like?” Answer: Only God can show you. Because it’s different for everyone. You might have the idea that to Be Hospitable, you have to open your home to exchange students, or invite your in-laws to move in. And for some people, it does mean that. But maybe for you, it’s just having friends over for lunch. Or hosting a baby shower.

So when I’m thinking about all the things that I want to be doing during Christmas, or the things that I wish I were doing in life but am not, or the things I would change, I don’t have to cast those things aside as “guilt producers” or stupid “expectations imposed on me by society.” I feel guilty about those things because I really want to do them. I want them to be true of my life. I don’t feel guilty about not going bungee jumping or not being a CEO. Because I don’t want those things. I feel guilty about the things I care about.

I read an interesting article about guilt in a parenting magazine the other day while I was pumping at work. The author said that guilt in the right degree is healthy because only sociopaths don’t feel guilt. That was interesting to me. I have always thought about guilt as a bad thing, as in I shouldn’t feel guilty ever. But now I can see guilt as a tool to show me what really matters to me. And instead of trying to deal with that guilt via self-improvement and to-do lists and productivity, or a Who Cares? attitude, I can recognize that I feel guilty because I wish those things were true about my life. At same time, I recognize that I can’t make them a reality on my own. I need God to help me, to show me the One Thing to do right now, and to trust that somehow, by following His leading on the Little Things, He is shaping the Big Picture into something glorious.

It’s hard to do in practice. Our house projects for moving have not gone according to our plans, and Travis and I both have responded poorly at times. Whenever that happens, I know that the cause is we’ve stopped trusting in God and started trusting in ourselves – in our actions, our planning, our common sense. God doesn’t work that way. His ways are higher. His plans are better. We need to trust and rest. “In quietness and trust is your strength.”

A Day in the Life {At Home}

10 Nov

This day turned out to be rather atypical for Emma in terms of naps/sleep, and Travis was gone on a work trip, but otherwise, it was a pretty typical Friday for us.

4:30 am – I hear Emma on the monitor. I give her a chance to fall back asleep on her own.

4:45 – Emma’s still awake, so I get up and nurse her.

5:10 – I put Emma back down after a little bouncing, crossing my fingers she stays asleep (at that hour, it’s always a crapshoot.)

5:15 – Emma’s awake. Darn. She’s still tired though, so I hold her until she really wakes up.

6:10 – She’s awake for the day. I change her diaper and put her on her playmat, while I let the dogs out, feed them and brew myself a cup of coffee. I drink my coffee and watch the news while Emma plays. I also put a stack of cloth diapers away.

20131108_0629286:50 – Attempt to nurse Emma but she’s not really interested. So I feed her some peach yogurt instead, while I eat oatmeal with peanut butter and brown sugar (my favorite way to eat oatmeal right now). After breakfast, Emma bounces in her jumperoo while I do dishes.

7:35 – Tummy time on Mommy! And Super Baby time – where I hold her like Superman. It’s a way to strength her core muscles that she actually likes, for a few minutes. Then we just play sitting up until it’s time for her next nap.

8:20 – Emma’s starting to fuss, so I put her in her sleepsack and down in her crib for a nap. She whimpers a little bit, but goes to sleep on her own. I brew my second cup of coffee and drink it while I spend some time praying. I spend 15 minutes on downloading pictures to add to Emma’s 12-month picture frame  (similar to this one).

9:45 – Emma’s awake. I change her diaper and nurse her.

10:00 – I change into running clothes, load Emma, the dogs and the stroller into the car, and drive to a park for a 2-mile run.

20131108_10421710:45 – We’re done! 2 miles in 22:50. When we get home, I change Emma’s clothes and take her 7-month pictures. Then I change her into a practical outfit and make a turkey sandwich before calling my friend, Amy, who lives in Hawaii to chat.

11:45 – Emma’s down for a nap, but not happy about it.

12:00 pm – I end my call with Amy because Emma’s still screaming. I go in to bounce/rock her but she keeps crying, so I decide to try nursing her. Her last nursing session was pretty quick. I change out of my sports bras and nurse her. It helps calm her down.

12:15 – Emma’s asleep. I take a shower and dry my hair most of the way. I also spend about 30 seconds doing my makeup. I work on Emma’s 7-month blog update a bit.

12:45 – Emma’s awake. I try to get her back to sleep but she’s wide awake so I change her diaper and feed her lunch. I try to give her avocado thinned with formula but she makes a face and refuses to eat it (she really does not like things combined with formula!), so I break out some food I got from a co-worker. I guessed it was sweet potato puree but after a few bites, I notice printing on the side that says “Mac cheese”. Interesting… Emma eats about half. I take a little bite and it’s not too bad, but not great either.

1:10 – Emma plays with toys while I eat a yogurt and banana, and make a grocery list.

1:30 – We head to Target.

20131108_135417I am in love with this wreath, and plan to try making it myself for cheaper.

2:15 – Emma bounces in her jumperoo while I put groceries away. She’s so happy that I sit next to her and look at photo albums. Then we play on the floor some more.

2:45 – Put Emma down for a nap. Again, she cries so I go in and nurse her. Something definitely seems to be off with her. Usually I can calm her down by just holding her, but today, she seems out of sorts. I give her some Tylenol just in case she’s in pain.

3:15 – Emma’s asleep.

3:30 – Emma’s awake. I try to get her back to sleep again so I could just hold her for her nap, but she’s awake. So I make an egg sandwich, grab an apple and we go for a drive up Clear Creek Canyon (beautiful!) to get Emma to sleep. It works! I also listen to Tim Keller’s sermon ‘Blessed Self-Forgetfulness‘, which gets better every time I listen to it.

5:15 – After sitting in the driveway for 15 minutes finishing Emma’s 7-month update, I take Emma inside. She stays sleeping and I put her in the nursery while I make dinner. I knew letting her sleep could either be a good idea or could backfire but I decided to risk it.

5:45 – Emma’s awake. I feed her pureed blueberries for dinner. They are messy!

6:15 – Bathtime! Followed by Emma’s nighttime routine.

7:15 – Emma is still wide awake. I think we can say the long nap before bed backfired. I sit next to Emma playing in her crib while I read blogs on my phone in the dark.

7:45 – Emma has a poopy diaper, so I change it and then try to bounce her a bit. She still seems uncomfortable/in pain, so I give her some more Tylenol.

8:00 – Emma’s finally asleep, albeit lightly, so I rock her while watching How I Met Your Mother on my phone.

8:30 – Emma wakes up crying and wriggling while I’m holding her, and I’m at a loss for what’s wrong, so I put some Orajel on her top and bottom gums. Maybe she’s getting more teeth? It seems to calm her down at any rate. I hold her for another episode.

8:50 – I finally put Emma down. Travis should be home in the next 30 minutes, but I’m exhausted so I eat a bowl of cereal, wash my face, brush my teeth and go to bed. I watch another episode of HIMYM (I’m obsessed!) before turning the lights out. Travis gets home right as I’m done watching, so I talk to him for a few minutes before going to sleep.

9:30 – Sleep!

Emma woke up 3 times that night, at around 12:30, 2:45 and 4:45, and didn’t go back to sleep after that last wakening (at least, according to how my sleep-deprived brain remembers it!). I fed her each time, because when she’s so uncomfortable, it’s the only thing that settles her down enough to fall back asleep. During the second nursing, I spaced out and when I opened my eyes again, I panicked because I thought Emma was upside down (with her butt above her head). It took me a good 20 seconds to realize that I was looking at the wrong end. Oy. I really hope this passes quickly!