Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Privilege & Price of Motherhood

I'm reading this amazing book with two other women at church. The first chapter - oh my - good. BUT the chapter that made the entire book for me was the chapter on motherhood. I can't speak for the women I'm reading it with, but I believe they'd agree with me in recommending it for ALL women (married, single, children or without):

The part I liked the most so far (not because it was necessarily enjoyable) but it was the most convicting: The Privilege of Motherhood and The Price of Motherhood. I'd like to quote the entire section (it's seriously that good), obviously I recommend getting the book, but before I give more highlights from these two sections read this amazing quote:

Jani is dead on in her description of biblical motherhood and in my short few months at this job I fall short on a daily basis. She talks about self denial constantly and it's one piece of my life that must change. Also, she went to the heart of the matter when talking about giving up dreams. I struggle with that daily. I want to be home with my baby and I want to be in the classroom. (Ahhhhh so conflicting!) I find her writing so encouraging because it reinforces what I know deep down: that this is where God is calling me. That is why I like these two sections so much, because it brings to light aspects in which need work in my life and offers encouragement in order to be the mommy she describes: "In us [our children] experience what the world should be like." I love that.

Portions of the book I couldn't help but share...

The Privilege of Motherhood (p.112-113)
God is calling us women to embrace the privilege of maternal care. We will not hear this from the culture of convenience surrounding us. A woman is much more likely to be praised for her work in the marketplace than for her commitment to mothering. And if mothering is not honored, women will stop doing it. Today if a baby seems to be too great a burden, either financially or physically or emotionally, a woman may kill it in what should be the safest place this side of heaven, a mother's womb. Or, once it is born, she may throw it in the trash bin so she can get on with the important things in life - like attending the prom or satisfying her pubescent boyfriend.

Where are the women who will fearlessly surrender to the privilege of motherhood? Who will say, "My child's welfare is more important than my own convenience; I will give my child a sense of God; I will protect my child from evil and death; I will set the highest possible standards of honor and morality for my child to follow as I teach him the Bible, and one day I will send him out with a light in his soul to bless this darkened world?" What greater privilege could we have?

Your role in a child's life - whether it is your child or others around you - is invaluable. You can be the one to teach him to form intimate, emotional bonds with others. Your sensitivity, availability, devotion, affection, unhurried attention, and responsiveness are irreplaceable. You have the joy of creating an environment for discovery and growth and imagination. You have the privilege of training your child to resist the me-centered consumerism that engulfs our world today.

The Price of Motherhood (quotes taken from pages 113-126)

Second, will you pay the price of mothering? In Where Have All the Mothers Gone? Brenda Hunter cites numerous studies showing that every child needs someone to make an "irrational" commitment to him; someone who will be there when she is needed; someone who will not pack up and go home at 6:00 p.m. Additionally, this someone must love the child more than other people's children. Who can do this better than a child's own mother? Yet we hear the chorus swelling around us, "The care of children and home are inferior occupations. The marketplace is more rewarding. Find your worth there."

And so we face a decision. Don't let me heap guilt on your head if you must work outside your home will your children are young. I have been there, and I know how hard it is. I am writing about a decision that a working mom makes who has a choice to cut back and stay home with her children. Are we willing to give up the pluses of the working world for diapers, doctor appointments, feeding schedules, and hurried showers? We enjoy the affirmations of working outside the home - a paycheck, pats on the back, exciting challenges, and new relationships - and yet we know that our home life suffers all the while. We begin to realize that all the tangible successes in the marketplace can never mask the potent pull of mother love. But are we women enough to yield to this powerful force?
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My friend Suzanne proves how much our children deserve our best. Suzanne is a creative, energetic, compassionate young woman who developed a sterling reputation as a student teacher and teacher's aide in a Chicago district where positions are highly coveted. She became a personal friend when she discipled our daughter, Krista, during Krista's high school years.

When Suzanne and her husband, Scott, had their first baby, they made the hard decision to have Suzanne leave the marketplace to mother full-time. What is the result? Five-year-old Tyler is an obedient, confident, bright boy - a joy to be around. And three-year-old Krista (our daughters namesake), is a secure, impishly tenacious, totally irresistible little girl. Both Tyler and Krista have strong wills and required hard work, patience, and untold sacrifices on the part of their parents. But if you could spend an afternoon with these little ones, as my family loves to do, you would see the imprint of their mother on them, and you would delight in it. Has it been easy? Definitely not. Suzanne has felt depleted, isolated, and financially strapped at times. But to her the price has been worth it. She could never replace those years with her babies, nor would she want to. How much value would any other success hold if she failed as a mother?

Someone is going to be influencing your child during those formative preschool years. Someone is going to be inculcating values and imprinting standards on that impressionable young soul. Let it be you. 
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God's purpose for us as His daughters is not freedom from the difficulties of life. His goal is to make us like Christ, and through us, to mark our children with His beauty.

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When we're struggling with the demands and responsibilities of motherhood, our deepest problem is not necessarily an insensitive husband, cranky kids, or a tight budget. Our deepest problem is our own resistance to total selflessness. It costs to serve. It's tiring and dirty and inglorious.

Are you struggling with your role as a mother-servant in your home? Are you resenting your kids? Are you fearful that life might slip through your fingers? Recognize your feelings for what they are: self-centered and unfaithful toward the God who called you to mother.

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The highlighted phrases spoke to the core of who I am as a teacher, mother and wife. I need to read that every day, that my deepest problem is my own resistance to selflessness. My feelings are self-centered and unfaithful toward the God who called me to mother. I have to let it go and like Suzanne there are days, moments, points in time that I feel depleted, isolated, and financially strapped (I know I'm not alone). But I will reiterate Suzanne's ultimate feelings: the price has been worth it and I would never, not in a million years replace what I have with my Briella Bean. There is more value in God's eyes to be full time mother than a teacher. I have to constantly remind myself that. Constantly.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten Plus Ten [Children's Books!]

I am pairing up with my friend MelanyCat this week (and for many topics to come) on Tuesday's Top Ten list! Melany is a new blogger, 15 years old, the daughter of a really good friend, who has many amazing things to say. I would definitely listen. Melany is one of those girls you want your own daughter to emulate (mothers in our church are seeing potential discipleship relationships galore, we all love her). I had the privilege to teach her for 2 years before she decided to be homeschooled (yes, she made that decision). She's brilliant, beautiful, talented and am so excited she took me up on this challenge to write with me on Tuesdays. 
Once you check out my list, don't forget to hop on over to Melany's.  

This week we started with children's books. I was that teacher who read children's books to my junior highers. If I ever become a teacher to high schoolers, yuP, I'll be reading children's books to them as well. I heard (often) "B-b-b-but Mrs. Lowery! We're not kids!" My reply, "I am -- years old and there's still a lot of child left in me. Do not give up the heart of a child. Wanting to be "all grown up" forces you to lose that childish imagination, those childish whims, adventures, and innocence. Those are things to keep and those are themes found throughout children's books!" For that reason children's books will always be recommended as a good read! It's the first place I go in a thrift store and the children's book section is where I make a beeline if I ever go to Barnes and Noble. Every person at any age can (ahem should) enjoy children's books. Children's books speak to the soul. I enjoy them more so as an adult than I ever did as a child. Here's a few of my favorites (in no particular order):

1.
The Wimmecks Series by Max Lucado 
I cannot get through You are Special without crying, it's a beautiful story! Max Lucado has this amazing way of writing to children, explaining the gospel message in touching way. Making it easy to turn around and relate it to their own life.

2. 
Faithful Elephants by Yukio Tsuchiya is based on a true story and is so, so, so, so sad. I had a male professor read this book to us when I was in completing my masters and he cried. Grab a box of Kleenex's, seriously. 

3. 
The Princess Kiss by Jennie Bishop 
This is a must read if you have a little girl. It's a beautiful story about saving your kiss for your prince.

4. 
The Empty Pot by Demi is an incredible story on the value of honesty. 

5. 
The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 
Is it normal to cry while reading this one? 

6. 
Ghastlies, Goops, & Pincushions by X.J. Kennedy 
I can't believe this myself, but I actually found this in a discard pile! (GASP!) If you want to read a hilarious book filled with nonsense poetry, you must nab it. Check out my review to find out all the reasons why.

7.
Eletelephony by Laura Richards is this delightfully short, cute book about an elephant using the phone but gets all sorts of tongue tied. This is actually a song, but it's an adorable one. If you find the book (I found mine at a dollar store), don't leave without it!

8. 
Count Yourself to Sleep by Lynn Hodges & Sue Buchanan is a wonderful book about what to do before you go to sleep at night: give thanks to God for all that He has given you. After reading this book, I realized the practical advice was needed in my very own life. (Children's books do that to ya...)

9. 
The Real Mother Goose by Blanche Fisher Wright is a must read for all ages. It's filled with those old nursery rhymes all children should grow up knowing. PLUS, I used to dress up as mother goose as a child and read to everyone (glasses and all). The first thing I did when I officially moved out of mom and dad's house, was pack this book.

10. 
Brian Cleary wrote an entire set: What is an Adjective? What is an Adverb? What is a Preposition? What is a Pronoun? What is a Conjunction? What are Similes and Metaphors? What is a Synonym? What are Homonyms and Homophones? What is an Antonym? and etc. etc. etc. I only have 4, the rest are on my wish list (there's a lot of books on my wish list... sigh...). He has a clever way of teaching grammar. These stories are so.much.fun. and a great way to teach your students and kids about parts of speech, especially if they're struggling with understanding it. English isn't easy, but these books make it fun!

Of course, this is a wonderful list and others could've been added (like Goodnight Moon, The Red Hen, or "Uh-Oh!" Said the Crow or Oh, The Places You'll Go) but those are recommended by everyone because everyone has them. I love those books as well and here's 10 more I think you should add to your "must have on your shelf" list. Now, hope on over to Melany's blog and see what she recommends!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Bahama Mama Birth Story

I'm always looking for birth stories because each story is unique and beautiful and each story gives mommy's encouragement as they reflect on their own unique and beautiful story. This Bahama Mama's story was one I was especially excited to read and share because she is my sister. I can't describe how anxious I was on this day! Now I finally have the opportunity to share the story of my newest niece's birthday! It was a day I spent in prayer and in celebration when we finally heard that all was well. Without further ado...

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When your pregnant the Internet is the best and worst tool. It makes information so accessible, and at times it's easier to understand happening inside you and how your baby is growing, but it's also full of horror stories! Even the hiccups, which are a normal body function, can seem life threatening. The thing to remember when reading any birth story is this: God is in control. I wish someone would have told me to look at my birth plan more as a birth wish. There are a million different ways your body, and your baby, will respond to delivery. We had planned to labor at home, all natural, and only go to the hospital to have her and then leave. God of course had his own plan, this was God's birth plan:
David had arrived Saturday night and by that time I had been in Nassau for a little over a month. When he arrived we were beyond ready to meet our daughter. We walked daily, ate spicy food... anything you could think of to try to get the ball rolling. But God wanted to make sure we knew He was in control, Monday morning when I went in for my weekly appointment I was only 1 centimeter dilated and 70% effaced. Which meant it could be any minute or any day. We both left realizing how stupid we were for trying to rush it and started enjoying our last few hours together. The next morning we went for a walk, like always, and it was pouring rain so we had to get a ride back home. When I stepped in to the bathroom to take my damp clothes off I had a very noticeable trickle and knew right away my membranes ruptured! (Good thing we got a ride home or I would have thought my pants were just wet from the rain!) Knowing we still had some time before she came, we called the midwife (Anna) and went on with our day. Four hours passed and no contractions, so they asked us to head to the hospital to see if it was indeed my water. Arriving at the hospital I don't think either of us actually thought we were going up the steps to have her. It felt like any other time walking in. And our plan was to labor at home and only deliver in hospital. I thought even if my water had broke they would send me home like I had planned. When Anna arrived and started readying my room I realized I wouldn't be walking out those doors again without my daughter. Disappointment of my plan not going as I wanted, and fear of pitocin, started setting in. The doctors came and checked and it seemed my membranes were intact, but because it was a small trickle and not a gush they felt as thought it had torn the upper sac and that's why they still felt it. After much deliberation we decided it wasn't worth the risk of infection if it had torn and agreed to start pictocin. The drip was put in at 3pm but I didn't begin progressing until 11:30 pm when the rest of my upper water bag broke. My midwife then broke my entire membrane and my active labor finally kicked into gear! I was so thankful I never got a epidural because the best thing I did was move. With every contraction I was in a different position and each new position helped make it tolerable. 
At about 2-3 am they checked me and I was only at 4 centimeters. I began to worry she would be delivered c-section because if she wasn't born by 6 am I had no choice. David and I began praying that The Lord take over at this point and let my body do what He designed it to do. Boy was our prayer answered! At 3:15 I couldn't take it anymore. I begged Anna to get me something for the pain, both her and David tried to talk me out of it but there was no convincing me, I physically couldn't do anymore. When Anna left the room I felt the uncontrollable urge to push, I told David and ran to stop her. Sure enough I was at 10 centimeters! Her head wasn't far enough down, and my doctor was about 15 minutes away so they told me not to push. Not pushing was the hardest thing I have ever done. When each contraction came I had Anna and David holding me down. It's an urge like I've never felt and I knew that baby was coming with or without the doctor. Anna realized this as well and prepared herself to catch Abi. Right as I felt her head engage my doctor walked in. She put on gloves and a tunic walked right up to me I could finally stop fighting my body! After 4 hard pushes our beautiful daughter Abigial June was born at 3:49 am, weighing 6 pound 11 ounces, 19 3/4 inches long. When they put her on my stomach I was overwhelmed with emotions! We had decided to delay clamping so we got to just sit, stare, and enjoy the new creation, uninterrupted, until the placenta stopped pulsing. She immediately peed on my stomach, right away "breaking us in" to parenthood. 
When your plan doesn't go how you wished don't fret. God has a reason, ours was different than we expected but my main goal was to deliver her without pain medication and I did! Everyone says pitocin makes contractions worse, but my experience was not that way. Put your faith in God, knowing He made you to do this, and you can and will deliver your child.

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I'm going to take a moment and reiterate a few of Mandy's points: 
It's so difficult to accept something like pitocin to start contractions, or a c-section when there's an emergency, especially when your plan is an all natural birth. I truly believe that some doctor's push too hard for epidurals or pitocin when it is not necessary, but I also believe that the majority of the medical community is there to help you when your body is not acting fast enough (i.e. contractions) or when your child's life is in danger (i.e. emergency c-section). We can be ever so thankful that we live in the day and age that we do because we would never know had Mandy waited for her contractions to start on her own whether or not an infection would've set in or if I had not had a c-section my daughter may or may not be with us today. Embracing God's sovereignty will give you comfort as you accept pitocin or an emergency c-section (as two examples). Calling it a "birth wish" vs a "birth plan" is an excellent idea - haha - thank you for sharing that excellent point Mandy! I learned that the hard way, perhaps the next mommy won't have to.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Baby B is 16 Months Old!

My baby isn't really a baby anymore! I guess I should say she's officially a "toddler", but whatever you call it, I'm loving this age! She adds something new to her vocabulary almost every day, a little piece of independence becomes obvious, she's constantly wanting to do something which forces me to be creative, and she's climbing on and around everything!

I heard somewhere that the average 1 year old knows 3-5 words, but Brielle and most of my friend's toddlers know 15-20 (or more, depending on the day)! It blows me away to read about my friend Megan's baby or hear about my friend Brandi's child in comparison to Brielle, they are all so advanced! They're all so unique, funny, smart and beautiful. I never would've guessed, in a million years, that I would enjoy this age so much! It's twice as much fun when I have friends experiencing it with me, with their own children. Whoever told me that having children means sacrifice was right to an extent, but the joy they bring far outweigh whatever "freedom" I'm giving up. I know my friends feel the same way and I find that so incredibly encouraging.

Bean has added baby, puppy, cookie, "top" (stop) and drink (pronouced girsh - with lisp) to her vocabulary. In fact, almost everything is cookie: toys, food, books, pacifier.... It's amazing how much more clear she pronounces words and how quickly she tries to emulate what we're saying.

She's doing very well in following directions. For example, every day she "helps" us feed the dogs by laying out their dishes and "helping" us put their food in it. When we tell her to give a treat to Quigley or Marley, she does (and she says his name, but it sounds so much like mommy it's hard to tell the difference). After breakfast we read a book together, or right before bedtime. We'll tell her, "Go pick a book!" and she'll come back with a few of her favorites.

She's blowing me away with her ability to recognize pictures in books as well as pick out a particular favorite. With every book she reads she's looking for two things: puppies and a ball. It's adorable because she's starting to ask questions by raising her voice and putting her palms up. "Baaaa?" and once she finds it, she points to it and exclaims "BAAAA!"
Her "trail of books" but what is most amazing about this moment is that she kept saying, "booooo" ...  I finally figured it out: BLUE! She recognized the color blue! Yay Bean! Good job!
Lately she has not been interested in playing by herself so I've been coming up with activities galore to keep her busy, I was pleasantly surprised how well this one went...




Decorating for Christmas was so fun with her. The ornaments were "baaaaaa?" (ball) and the lights were so "pre-pre-pre" (pretty, always whispered) and she wore them as a necklace.


Her favorite games are patty cake and chase...
video
Patty Cake, my favorite is how she rolls it up...
video
Patty Cake, take 2...
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How she runs away from me cracks me up, arms up and down or behind her, LOL.

For the last couple of months she has been yelling at the poor dogs by telling them to get down "Doooow!" It's absolutely hilarious. BUT now she's using it for daddy and I as well when we pick her up and she's upset about it, what's worse is that she actually sticks her bottom lip out when she says it. Oy. We're working on it, and what's worse is that even though she's being a stinker,  it's so stinkin' cute! 

I swear this girl is going through a growth spurt because one day she'll eat 2 pancakes and an egg for breakfast and sleep for hours during the day! I wish I was kidding on the fact that this girl eats us out of house and home. I'm blown away by how much she eats! And then the next day she doesn't want to eat anything, it's so strange and frustrating.

She LOVES climbing! 

When I write in my thankful journal she wants to join me, so I give her a little book and pencil. I just love her little scribbles. Definitely keeping this book.

A few funny/amazing stories:
  • I started singing, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands..." and Brielle disappeared to her room and grabbed her If You're Happy and You Know It Elmo book! Amazing.
  • Daddy was getting a hair cut and as she watched his hair fall to a pile on the floor she stated, "Uh Oh!" and then wanted nothing to do with him! He got down on the floor and began playing, inviting her to join him, so it didn't last long.
  • As we were playing patty cake, she walked over to Marley and grabbed a hind paw and a front paw, expecting him to play too! Marley did not appreciate the attempt, but we all thought it was hilarious! Thankfully (despite his obvious dislike for the game) he handled it well.
  • When daddy was holding Brielle trying to convince her to "let" him go to work, I grabbed her explaining it was time for daddy to go bye-bye. She signed "done" and said "DUH!" (I guess she was done with me, lol.) 
  • I ordered a couple of shoes for her and when the box arrived I told her it was for her. She gasped as I opened it and kept saying how "pre-ahhhh" her "boo's" where. (Translation: her shoes are pretty.) Of course, she insisted on wearing them.
A few of my favorite pictures:
Favorite game of peek-a-boo! "Where's Bean?"
"There she is!"


I watched these adorable girls one day and as I was preparing lunch I noticed things were too quiet. When I went to check on them, they were reading books together. How cute!
After shots, daddy took her out for ice cream. :)


She's a daddy's girl through and through. While I'm cooking dinner these three watch "puppies" on YouTube! 
Cuddles with Poppy Christmas morning. She LOVES her Poppy. (He sings her a song to the lyrics of Barbara Ann and she sings it ALL.THE.TIME.)


Poppy took her out for pizza. She's being goofy!

A friend made her a wooden duck to pull around and she LOVES that toy!

Cuddles with Quigley.
What a great smile to end this post with... heart melting stuff right there. 

"The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis [Book Review]

The Screwtape LettersThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many reviews of this book describe it as diabolical, satire in it's fullest form, or inaccurate. C.S. Lewis himself said the Letters received "... a reception I had never dreamed of. Reviews were either laudatory or filled with that sort of anger which tells an author that he has hit his target..." (I seriously giggled when I read that.) So, when I read 'Screwtape letters' I read it with the understanding that it is purely fictional and took into account Lewis' description of the book as "myth" or "symbolic" ... in fact he writes in his preface that the purpose of the book is to "... throw light from a new angle on the life of men." (Did he ever do that for me!) Who would've thought that letters written from demon to demon describing in full detail how to drive a human to Hell would be effective in shedding light on the lives of men? C.S. Lewis, of course. (That was meant as a compliment.)

Although the story line itself is fictional, it is filled with "hidden" truths. One of my favorite truths is this line: "It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts." (p.38-39)

By fictional I mean the characters Screwtape, Wormwood, Principle Slubgob and the like. I believe in demons, and I believe that Satan (the worst of his kind) is the king of lies. This story, although genius, is fiction. The ideas and principles found throughout, however, (I believe) are not too far fetched. I truly believe demons believe God is the enemy and I do believe they whisper lies in order to turn you from Him. I like how C.S. Lewis himself describes these characters in his author's preface: "The commonest question is whether I really "believe in the Devil. Now if by "the Devil" you mean a power opposite to God, and like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No. There is no uncreated being except God.God has no opposite. No being could attain a "perfect badness" opposite to the perfect goodness of God; for when you have taken away every kind of good thing (intelligence, will, memory, energy, and existence itself) there would be none of him left. The proper question is whether I believe in devils. I do. That is to say, I believe in angels, and I believe that some of these, by the abuse of their free will, have become enemies to God and, as a corollary, to us. These we may call devils. They do not differ in nature from good angels, but their nature is depraved. Devil is the opposite of angel only as Bad Man is the opposite of Good Man. Satan, the leader or dictator of devils, is the opposite, not of God, but of Michael."

After reading the book, I HIGHLY recommend you go back and read the author's preface, because it will shed more light on the ending and reveal why C.S. Lewis wrote what he wrote. I won't go into detail about that -- I don't want to spoil it -- but there's one final quote I have to share. It's one that everyone needs to understand before reading this book, "Some have paid me an undeserved compliment by supposing that my Letters were the ripe fruit of many years' study in moral and ascetic theology. They forgot that there is an equally reliable, though less creditable, way of learning how temptation works. "My heart" - I need no other's - "showeth me the wickedness of the ungodly." I became a C.S. Lewis fan just because of that one statement, more so than the entire book itself. Thank you C.S. Lewis for being transparent and accomplishing what you set out to do: throw light on the life of men.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [Reasons My 1 Year Old is Crying]

I saw this floating around Pinterest and pinned it back before I was a mommy, thinking it was hilarious.
Actually being a mommy puts a whole new spin on why I think it's "hilarious" and not-so-much. I'm on the fast track of being able to post a "reasons why my 1 year old is crying" every month (insert heavy sigh here). Thankfully, while events like these do occur almost every day I'm able to laugh at the absurdity of it all, because it is pretty funny. Like the time....

1. I put a ball in her pocket. (She had just discovered pockets and we had been putting things in and out, in and out for a solid 20 minutes, she did not want that and refused to touch it. She screamed until I took it out. Oy.)

2. Her lunch meat came un-rolled.

3. I put a turtle neck on her.

4. She wants the food on my plate (which is the same as hers) so I try to give her some, which makes her mad. (???)

5. She doesn't fit into the toy car I'm pushing around. 

6. I began reading a book she took off the shelf and handed to me. 

7. I was helping her eat and then she got mad at me for putting the food in her mouth, so I stopped, which made her mad. (This is where my dear husband said, "She is such a girl!")

8. Marley lays on her blanket. (This is a daily battle. Marley loves blankets and Brielle leaves her beloved "aw-aw-aw's" laying around. Marley will be passed out and Brielle will start yelling, "Dowwww" (which means down).)

9. When she learned this lesson: if you crawl in/under something, you must crawl out. That's just a hard thing to learn.

10. I won't let her eat graham crackers for every meal.

Plus one: I won't let her wear my underwear as a necklace. 

I can't wait to see what other parents post for reasons why their child is crying. PLEASE SHARE! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [Mommy Garb]

You might gasp at a mommy's wardrobe of choice, but the reasons behind what she wears might surprise you and keep you from passing judgement. I'm not saying mommy's need or should dress shabby, but the bleach stained pants she wears in her own home give clues as to what life is like in it. Here are 10 factors that contribute to a mommy's garb:
  1. Comfort. When you chase children all day you want something that is going to be comfortable. Bra, underwear, shoes, hair style... it's all "designed" to take care of little ones and what they do in the course of a day (climb, eat, drool, sneeze, poop, play, eat, poop, eat, climb, sneeze...).
  2. Messy? Who cares. You will probably not see a mommy dressed to the nine's and playing WITH her kids at the park (as one example) or a mommy in her Sunday best receiving chocolate covered kisses. There is nothing messier, smellier, more fun than sitting in the dirt, swinging on the swings, climbing the jungle gym, loving on, and making memories WITH your children. If you do that, you won't wear your best. Plus mommy's are always getting puked on, pooped on, peed on, bananas stick to everything, and blueberries leave the toughest stains. Not to mention the fact that there isn't a mess that she isn't responsible for cleaning up. All that mess and the stuff to clean it up with, just isn't worth the risk of ruining your best.
  3. Not too hot. Not too cold. If a mommy's temp isn't "just right" she ain't happy. If she ain't happy, ain't nobody happy.
  4. Quick and Easy. It's just as easy to throw on a pair of jeans, nice shirt, and flats as it is sweat pants and a t-shirt, but on those days where you are cleaning your house or making bread and suddenly realize that you're out of a key ingredient, running to the grocery store with flour filled pockets is not out of the ordinary. The process of getting a child out of the house is an interesting one, I can only imagine that times two, or three, or four for that matter. When a mommy gets up in the morning to a screaming child, or needs to run to the store, she isn't thinking about "hmmmm... what should I wear to make myself look beautiful..." she's thinking about her families needs because that's her first priority. She's thinking, "quick and easy."
  5. Uh-Oh's. I can't count how many times I'll be dressed and ready to go and then my daughter has an explosion RIGHT before I put her in her car seat. Or she spits up alllllll over my pants, jacket, shirt, scarf, whatever. Uh-Oh's are a normal part of the day and if you have to be somewhere by 10 and at 9:53 there's an Uh-Oh there is not time to think about outfit selection; and if mom's are anything like me, I avoid the mirror in moments like this. 
  6. Time. There just isn't enough of it. I'll be in the middle of folding my last load of laundry, thinking it took "such-and-such" time until I look at the clock and realized that the time it took to give my child a task to keep her entertained, let the dogs out, keep her from eating the cracker she found in the couch cushion, deal with her tears over it, fold the laundry, look at the time and "gasp" - I'm running dangerously short on time. The time I thought I had is now reduced to seconds - changing a diaper, getting the diaper bag ready, and making myself presentable are done in a short amount of time and without a lot of thought on myself or my outfit of choice.
  7. Spills. I am a naturally klutzy person so maybe this one is more on me than anyone else, but I swear that the moment I put on something nice, irony sweeps in and takes care of that. Sippy cups that claim they are spill proof - lie! Hot coffee loves dry clean only. The fruit my daughter wants every morning (blueberries) always find their way from her hands to my shirt. Clothing are a milk's best friend. The harder I try to prevent this, the messier it is, so I just accept the fact that whenever I put something on, spills will probably happen. Don't be surprised to find a mommy with a big wet spot on her pants. On that same note... don't be surprised if she doesn't seem overly worried about it. It's her norm.
  8. Mommy's wear what they can sleep in, because they take it whenever they can get it. Sleep is NOT the norm (for a new mommy especially). If it's the middle of the day and a "sleeping opportunity" arises, they'll typically take it, and who wants to sleep in slacks and a button up shirt?!
  9. Time #2. Let me explain why time warrants two entries: There isn't a lot of time to accomplish "me" tasks. Using the bathroom or showering (that used to be private, alone time) are now filled with little hands pulling away the shower curtain or opening the door. I usually wait until Bean is down for her nap before jumping in the shower, but depending on the length of her nap and how many cleaning chores I want to accomplish, this may or may not happen. My poor husband will walk through the door and I'll smile, "yay! I can shower!" But during the day, time may or may not allow the time to shower, so I will typically throw my hair in a pony tail and cover the mess with a hat.
  10. Little Hands. Little hands love to grab, pull and yank. I avoided dangly earrings like the plague and I have yet to wear the necklace Kyle gave me for Valentine's day two years ago. I haven't worn makeup in months, (see #6 and 9 as partial culprits) but it never fails that as I'm carefully putting on eye liner my daughter will yank on my pant leg telling me how "pre-ahhhh" I am (total heart melting stuff) and the liner is now on the side of my face. Pieces of fashion once held dear are put on the side burner for the sake of keeping it from little hands. It's funny how those things I once held dear are not as dear as they once were. Little hands are much more precious.
I wouldn't trade "mommy garb" for all the dream Pinterest closets in the world. My sweat pants bearing bleach stains or the track and field coaching hats (which now serve as cover up) are blessings, because I have this amazing little person in my life. I love to join her on her adventures and my mommy garb reflects those adventures. Typically those adventures are messy.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

"The safest road to Hell is..." (C.S. Lewis)

Let me begin by saying C.S. Lewis is a genius. One of my friends gave me the book Screwtape Letters and I would not be exaggerating when I say this is going on my "Top Ten" list if C.S. Lewis keeps opening my eyes to truths like this one stated on pages 38-39,

"You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday's paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom h elides but also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room."

Before I quote the best part of this particular letter, let me give you some background knowledge. C.S. Lewis wrote this fantastically, horrific, mind-boggling book about demons conversing through letters. The main character, Screwtape, is writing letters to his nephew, giving him advice on how to lead his "patient" to hell, away from the Enemy (the Enemy being Jesus Christ). The above quote was such advice. The advice is significant because we should constantly be looking upwards, spending time in prayer, worship, learning about Him through His Word, but the king of lies (Satan) does everything he can to keep us from what's important. How C.S. Lewis explains this process (through a letter from a fictional demon named Screwtape) in this next quote blew.me.away:

"You will say that these are small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one - the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts."


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tuesday's Top Ten [When Friends Confide in Me]

The desire to fix everything runs deep within me. If there's a problem I immediately conjure up a list of possible solutions. I think, if only I could talk to both sides, maybe they'd see the light. That desire to protect the one's I love from pain and heartache is a curse of the eldest and I'm feeling that heaviness today.

There's one thing I've realized in the course of the last few years as I study God's Word: the desire to want everything right for my friends is not wrong, thinking I can make it right is. By thinking I can fix everything, I am taking away from the work GOD IS DOING in the lives around me. By thinking I can fix everything is minimizing the effectiveness of the Holy Spirit. By thinking I can fix everything glorifies myself instead of glorifying the solution of the Almighty and the work HE DOES.

It's a dangerous position to put myself in and besides the reasons listed above here's what happens when I think I can fix everything: I become angry, defensive, frustrated, and want to immediately lash out on who-so-ever is the cause. Those are not qualities of the Holy Spirit and when I think I can fix everything I begin to rely on my abilities - which are anger, defensiveness, frustration, and speaking out of line - rather than the qualities of the Holy Spirit, which are love, patience, kindness, and self-control. Basically, I need to stay out of it, but if my friend does confide in me I need guidelines.

Especially on days like today when I learn of something that is desperately hurting someone I love. The desire to fix is a daily battle on days like today when I can feel my throat ache and tears well up as I think of the heartache they're enduring for good reason, and I am constantly asking the Holy Spirit to help me in this. Instead of offering "words of -crappy- advice" I do whatever I can to put the glory back on God and the work HE is doing, so that no matter the outcome, HE GETS THE CREDIT.

Here's 10 things I rely on when friends confide in me:

  1. I will pray for you every time the Lord brings you to mind.
  2. You will be in my thoughts and prayers. This goes along with #1 and after saying it ask the Lord to constantly bring this person and this situation to mind, so that you can follow through on that promise.
  3. I will help you in any way I can. This is a statement/promise you're making so that they understand they can rely on you being there when they need you.
  4. What kind of friend do you want me to be right now? Do you just want me to listen? Do you want advice? Is there anything I can do for you (like make a meal, take your kids, or do some laundry)? Would you like me to show you where I go in the Bible when I need to rest in God and find comfort in Him? Numbers 5-9 is what I would give if they answered yes, show me verses that give you comfort.
  5. Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths."
  6. The Psalms are full of songs where the Israelites praised God in good times and in bad. David wrote many where he was pleading with God to hear his cry and others that promise that He is there even in times of heartache, Psalm 46:1-3 is a good example, "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 in into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." We should emulate the words of these Psalmist and use them as a way of trusting and praying and praising, "When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?" (Psalm 56:3-4) The promises given to the Israelites are ours as well, "When I thought, "My foot slips," your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up. When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul." (Psalm 94:18-19) He will not forsake His people! Psalm 121 is a perfect example and is my go to, "I lift my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade on your right hand The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore." Wow. Such promises: My help comes from the Lord. He will not let your foot be moved. He does not slumber. He is your keeper. The Lord will keep you from evil. He knows your going out and your coming in for all eternity. So no matter what this life on this earth brings you, you can rest in God and His promises.
  7. James explains in the beginning of his letter to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion that God gives generously, especially in the midst of trials (James1:2-4). During the time that James wrote this letter Christians were being put to death, kicked out of their homes, families scattered, possessions ransacked, because of their faith in Jesus Christ. If God answered their prayers during extreme heartache, how much more will he answer ours? Knowing this, we should not pray, we should not ask anything of Him, with doubt. We must have faith that God is a man of His Word. He knows the desires of your heart! Therefore, Pray. Do not cease in praying. Pray as you sob. Pray as you question. Pray as you ask for healing. Pray. Pray. Pray. And do not doubt.
  8. God is faithful. God is unchanging. God's love is steadfast. God is sovereign. The qualities of God give us reason to rest in Him.
  9. Endure. Just as Christ endured. The book of Romans offers many of my favorite verses and in the midst of chapter 5 where we are called to have faith alone in Christ alone there's a verse where Paul explains why we must endure, "... we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." We endure because the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts, helping us to persevere, to hold firm to the hope we have in Jesus Christ and that by having faith in Him we can rest assured in our salvation - that we will spend an eternity with Him. That promise, that affirmation of the gospel, gives us hope in tribulations because we know that the things of this earth (the heartache, the tribulations, the sufferings) will DISAPPEAR! 
  10. I am not going to have the right response every time, even after praying that the Holy Spirit give me words. Sometimes it's best to say nothing at all. (Being a person of many words, this one is especially difficult.)


This list is one I need to keep close at hand and near to my heart, because the moment I hear, Can I talk to you? I should immediately begin praying that God's Words are my words, and if I stick to the guidelines suggested in this list, God will do the work in my friends life. God may or may not use me, but if He does, HE SHOULD ALWAYS GETS THE CREDIT.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Going Home

My dad found this cd called "Going Home" that after buying and listening to it multiple times he insisted I do the same. I'm forever grateful he bought it for me because it puts an entirely new and wonderful spin on heaven and the eternal perspective we should have here on earth. There is one piece that I had to share because I felt it was so meaningful. The narration from the book Between the Dreaming and Coming by Robert Benson (which is now on my wish list).