Tuesday, March 4, 2014

My Selfish Heart

Be Selfish
It happened last week. Two of my children brought a large floor puzzle downstairs and wanted Mommy's help putting it together. We began the process, finding corner pieces and edge pieces, and began to construct the puzzle. All was going well until Little Lady's knees started getting too close to our creation. Each time she would put pressure on an edge, the entire puzzle would shift and we I would put it all back together. Finally I told her, "If you aren't more careful with your knees, you may not do the puzzle with Mommy." Then I paused long enough to think to myself, why? Why does it matter that her sweet, eager knees are causing a few extra seconds of puzzle play? What better work does the Lord have prepared for me today than this? Sure, doing and redoing the same pieces of a 30 piece puzzle was quite boring to me, but for my children it was a joyful time. They were learning, and not only about spatial awareness and problem solving, but about working together, helping one another, considering the other before themselves. Indeed, I was teaching them, at that very second, and not so well, I might add. Just as I had, minutes before, instructed two siblings, squabbling over who's turn it was to choose the next piece of the puzzle, to consider the other before themselves, so, too, was the Lord instructing (and convicting) me. It hit me that the time and effort invested in training my children in this biblical principal, was all the more needed to train my own heart. I was putting my desires first- my desire to be done with this silly puzzle and do something more exciting. I wanted to please myself and my attitude revealed selfishness bound up in my heart.
Since that day, the Lord has been faithfully showing just how much I put myself first.
"Mommy, I'm awake." Oh, but I want to sleep.
"Mommy, lets race dirt bikes." Oh, but I just sat down.
"Mommy, can we do a craft?" Oh, the mess to clean up.
"Mommy, let's cook!" Oh, the dishes to wash and the floor to mop.
"Mommy, she hit me in the head!" Oh, I don't want to deal with disciplining right now.
"Mommy," (I know we just sat down to dinner, but) "I have to go potty."  Oh, will I ever eat a warm meal again?
The selfishness in my heart reveals itself everywhere! I find myself frequently asking the question: But what better thing do I have to do than this work, at this moment? I  was not given these three gifts, just so I could spend my days pleasing myself. No, I am to spend my days glorifying God, following His commands. On a day in, day out basis, much of my obedience (or disobedience) to the Lord will be shown through my response to my children. I want to be intentional in my responses, in my giving of myself for their training, in relinquishing my own desires in the name of loving my children and my God. I pray that by God's grace I will put off my selfishness as I put on selflessness. May my heart not merely reflect the depravity of the fall, but may it reflect the fruits of the Spirit that live therein.

Friday, March 8, 2013

A Plea to the Older Women

Where are you women of wisdom,
You whose behavior is reverent,
whose words edify, you
teachers of good?
I search, but find none. No one
who sings the choruses of
protective headship,
sweet submission,
as refreshing, nourishing,
morning dew atop this
new, budding rose.
None who teach and exemplify
self-control, chastity, kindness,
biblical love that serves
not selfish desires.
But rather
I hear clamor and lies
of how pouring life into those
entrusted to me
will scorch my strengths;
strengths for which better use
could be found outside these
four walls, and my parasitic family. 
I am trained not in the ways of
biblical femininity,
but feminism, infecting
the Church.
I see not an example
of proper headship, but
a sea of headless women,
usurping, and foolishly tearing
down homes day by day,
brick by brick.
But I need
O wise woman,
who has built a
lovely, sturdy house.
Who in years past
fought in these trenches against
the ways of the world.
Who will now encourage me in
the ways of the Word.
Who lovingly submits
to her own husband,
and who served God in
the  role He deemed best for her,
as wife and mother.
Who welcomed children
as blessings from the hand
of God.
Who sought purity.
Who guarded her home
and her mouth, who trained
dear children and responded
to a dear husband with kindness
and self-control.
Please show yourself.
Please stake yourself
beside this budding rose,
so I may grow straight and tall,
learning what God's word calls

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,  and so train the young women to love their husbands and children,  to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2:3-5

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

God Shapes Me Through Child Training

Kindness, Gentleness, Obedience, Self-Control, Not Complaining or Disputing, Giving a Soft Answer...
We are in the thick of training our children to practice these qualities. Big Brother pushes Little Sister, Little Sister screams at Big Brother, Big Brother chooses to disobey Mama, the list goes on. In the middle of the pushing, screaming, and the "No Mama"s, the training is pretty much constant. But many times it's when I'm training on self-control that I wonder where my own is hiding. When I'm teaching on not complaining, it's just after I think to myself, Child, you're driving me crazy! I train on kindness when I'm frustrated that Little Sister is screaming for a toy and snatching it from Big Brother's grasp, on gentleness when I'm storming into the room explaining why we CANNOT KEEP PUSHING HER, on giving a soft answer when my own words are harsh. And, let's face it, each time I sin in these ways, I'm being completely disobedient. Each and every day as I train my children, the Lord is training  and sanctifying me.
So why is it so difficult some days? Why do I become weary in doing good? Why are there nights that my head hits the pillow as I thinking: Did I spend more time enjoying my children today or being annoyed by them? Did they enjoy me? And it makes me sad that I even have to wonder.
It's times like those when I need to step back and evaluate my own motives. Do I desire obedient children for my own ease, or for God's glory? Do I want them to stop screaming in anger and pushing so I can just "get something done for once," or because in that anger they are sinning against a holy God? I must admit that at times, my motives are quite self-centered, thus my reactions lack self-control.
One thing that has helped me recently is to ask myself (when the screaming or pushing or "No, Mama" comes)-- What better thing do I have to do right now than this training in this moment? It's a pretty basic question, but it helps me to focus on what is really important. Because really, is there any more profitable work for me to do today than to raise my children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, than to have yet another beautiful reason to point them to his grace and mercy, than to show my love for them and the Savior by my self-control, kindness, gentleness, soft answer, and obedience to God's word. The answer is...No. The laundry and dishes will not miss out if I push them aside as I lovingly train my children, but my children will miss out if I push their training aside in favor of cleaning the house.
So I press on in the trenches of child training, re-prioritizing, and purposing, by God's grace, to enjoy my children every day, and I hope you will, too.

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." -Galatians 6:9


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Hello Again and A Woman's Role

Wow! It has been quite some time since my last post! I have been thoroughly enjoying time with my sweet babies who are now nine months and two years! I am one busy mama but loving every minute! Although the past several months have been silent on this blog, the Lord has been teaching me so much! So today, assuming that someone will actually read this post, I would like your biblical input on the following:
The last few months my husband and I have been having many discussions and searching the scriptures regarding a woman's role, specifically the young woman. As I've studied, I have learned that I have MUCH room to grow in each and every one of these areas, and I pray the Lord will sanctify me day by day. In no way do I want to come off as superior to any other sister in Christ as I write and ask questions about the things I have learned...If you could ask my husband, he could attest to the fact that I fail daily and am, in fact, no better than any other Christian woman seeking God's truth. Still I'm grateful that the Lord has given me scriptures to search and placed Godly "older women" in my life to admonish me in truth and godliness. So with that said, I'll just jump right in.
In Titus 2:3-5, Paul admonishes the older women to train the younger women in these things: to love their husbands, love their children, to be discreet (or self-controlled), chaste (pure), homemakers ( keepers at home, workers at home- depending on the translation), good (kind), obedient (submissive) to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed (or reviled). The end of verse three says that these are "good things" to teach. And since the words teach and train are used, we can assume that these are not areas in which a woman will naturally succeed, so she must be trained in them, and practice them. Now, I hope that most believers would agree that women should indeed love their husbands and children, be self-controlled, pure. But it is clear, based on the visible actions of the majority of women in the church that "working at home" and being "submissive to their own husbands" is not taken so seriously, and frankly, often completely ignored, or worse, snubbed because of our own pride.
The first thing I did was a word study on the word "keeper" and found that it means "guard." So a young woman is meant to be, in a sense, a "home guard." I began to wonder: What is a guard? Webster's 1828 dictionary defines it as "A state of caution or vigilance; or the act of observing what passes in order to prevent surprise or attack; care; attention; A man or body of men occupied in preserving a person or place from attack or injury; he or they whose business is to defend, or to prevent attack or surprise."
Which leads me to my first question: Is it possible for a woman to be an effective "home guard" when she spends the majority of her time away from the place and people which she is to be guarding?
Secondly, I found it interesting that women are admonished to be "keepers at home" just before they are admonished to be "submissive to their own husbands." When a woman is out of the home she is often under the headship of someone else' husband, her boss. And in many cases it is plain to see that, if she wants to keep her job, she must, at times, put the requests and "needs" of her boss above those of her own husband. This is not to say that a woman working at home is equal to submitting to her own husband; after all, a woman can easily busy herself at home with activities that do not benefit or submit to her husband at all. But when a woman follows this Titus 2 mandate and is a homemaker, she has the freedom to turn down others requests, set aside her own desires and prioritize the needs of her husband and subsequently, her children.
Another question: When we as women, and as the body of Christ, in general disregard any of these instructions for selfish reasons (up keeping a certain lifestyle, pride, feeling self-worth, to escape from our kids for the day so we can be "better mothers"--I've heard this one many times), are we blaspheming the word of God, or are we at least more prone to blaspheme His word when we step out of his ordained positions and behaviors?
The next scripture I studied was 1 Timothy 5:14 "I would have younger widows marry, bear children, manage their households, and give the adversary no occasion for slander." Once again, the preferred place of the woman is in the home, giving the adversary no opportunity for slander. I assume this is referring back to verse 13, which speaks of women becoming "idle, wandering about from house to house...gossips, and busybodies." While all of these temptations are available to the woman managing her home, I know first hand that there are few places where gossip is so tempting as the work place, when you are surrounded by carnal women.
Many times we love to say, "But wait, wait, wait! The Proverbs 31 woman was a working woman!" And while I agree that her days were characterized by diligence and hard work, and she did earn money, we can see that her family was her priority. Her husband trusted her, and was likely involved in her business dealings. She provided food and warm clothing for her household and spent many more waking hours working diligently at her home than some of the most motivated of housewives today. Also, it's not clear to me that this description of the Proverbs 31 woman is depicting her daily activities,, but rather a characterization of her life; I'm not convinced that every day she was out purchasing fields, planting vineyards, and selling her goods.
I am not saying that there is no time for a woman to work outside the home, especially if it is needed to provide necessities...It's just that from my studies it seems that the best, safest, most biblical place for a woman with a husband and children to spend the majority of her effort and time, and give her first and best is in the home.
I am just very troubled about how the church as a whole paints a picture of womanhood that is often not biblical. When did the mandate for women to keep their homes become a gray area?  If what I have learned is right, then why are homemakers the exception in our church and not working women? Why is bringing up the admonitions of Titus 2:5 considered judgemental even among bible believing Christians? Why do women of the church consider teaching other people's children, being a nurse, a realtor, an administrator a higher calling than managing and guarding home and family? Has feminism so infected the church that the truth is blurred, even in ways we don't see? And why is it so hard to speak up about the truth of a woman's role? I have seen this admonition gracefully presented and it receives terrible offense. It seems we are missing a generation of young women seeking truth, not searching for what fulfills me, or makes me happy, or what society says is best, but straight up biblical truth. I also feel that the generation of older women teaching is missing and it makes me so, incredibly sad. After all, it was by God's word and grace, and the instruction of my mother and three other women (not necessarily "older" but older than me) that shaped my view of biblical womanhood, and who is there teaching the younger wives and mothers the importance and value of their role at home, caring for and nurturing, giving their first and best to their families?
Let's search God's word, ladies, and then draw our conclusions about biblical womanhood.
I would love your biblical input! What have you learned in your quest to honor God as a woman?
Encouraging you to love your husband, children, and to keep the home,

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fun with Learning: What Works for This Mom of Two Under Two

Levi began recognizing some of his colors several months ago.  So, as he showed interest I began having slightly structured learning time. (Think: Sitting down with his colorful blocks and teaching him to recognize one color at a time.) He loved it and, so far, can't get enough of "school." After breakfast he usually beats me to the punch and stands by our "school" cabinets, pointing and saying, "Levi's...School...Shapes...ABCBs!"
Each day Most days we work on:
  • Color Recognition: We review colors in a variety of ways. Sometimes using our Peter Rabbit book or Little People farm book. Sometimes we use the colored blocks I mentioned. But doing too much color naming was getting boring (for Levi and me). Some interactive color recognition activities Levi enjoys are his Color Gear Caterpillar, and a clothes pin/flash card match up. For the clothes pin game, I used flash cards I purchased at Wal-Mart, and colored the ends of some clothes pins to match. Levi chose a colored clothes pin, found the matching flash card, and clipped it on. This is a great fine motor activity as well.

He successfully matched up all of the colors!

  • Number Recognition/Counting: Levi really enjoys counting the numbers on the calendar. I help him point to each number, up to ten, and he counts as we point. This seems to be working well because he is beginning to recognize the number 3. We also count using his 1-10 nesting boxes and sometimes count items on our flash cards, in our Little People farm book, or our Peter Rabbit book.  And usually at least once a week, we count objects that he can step/jump on...hangers are a favorite! Sometimes we work counting into our day in other practical ways if there are many other things to accomplish throughout the house. For example, today, I gave him some "Gummies" for a snack and before he ate them we counted how many there were.

  • Shape Recognition: This is a BIG hit right now! I cut out different shapes, each has a small, medium, and large size, and each group of shapes is the same color. (The small, medium and large circles are all blue, etc.) I chose to laminate mine because of wear and tear. When he masters recognition of a shape I add it to the ones he has already mastered and scatter them all on the floor. I give the following commands (not all at once;) - "Jump on the big circle. Jump on the medium square. Jump on something yellow. Jump on the little star." We also use this as a "practicing obedience" game. He sometimes will stack the shapes from largest to smallest and soon we will begin sorting the shapes by size...all of the big shapes in one stack, all medium shapes in another, and all small shapes in another. The Little People farm book is also useful for shape recognition. The page with shapes is set at a farmers market. He finds a shape-item (for example, the watermelon is an oval) and then lifts the flap to see the shape drawn beneath the item. He enjoys shape puzzles of all sorts and loves to point out shapes we incounter each day (the oven looks like a square).

  • ABC's, recognizing one at a time for however many days/weeks it takes, making sure that as we go he still remembers the preceding letters. Nana gave Levi a book called, "A is for Apple," which has grooved letters that are perfect for tracing. We also love the book, "Corduroy's Alphabet Hunt." On each page we are asked to help Corduroy find items and then say what letter each item begins with. In the back there are textured flash cards that we use to practice recognizing the letters we have learned. Sometimes we flip through the rest of our flash cards, naming the letter and sound of each, and some days we just sing alphabet songs.

  • Etiquette: Numerous times a day we work on etiquette. After all, love is not rude, but kind, and etiquette is a way to teach children how to consider others before themselves. I keep this posted on my refrigerator.
  • Little Man Jobs: Each day, Levi is expected to put his toys where they belong, put napkins on the tables before meals, throw away his diapers (and sometimes Lyla's) in the Diaper Champ, throw away his trash, and put away the dish cloths and towels. We keep this posted as a reminder and he sometimes puts stickers by his jobs to check them off.  He also helps me switch the laundry over and put non-breakable dishes away. When Daddy grills it is Levi's job to hand him what he needs. Sometimes he "helps" sweep the floor, using his little broom.
Little Man Jobs Checklist

  • Scripture: This is by far the most important part of our learning because it is only from the Bible that we can gain true knowledge and wisdom. Each time we move on to a new letter, we memorize a verse that begins with that letter. In addition to those scriptures, we daily review Colossians 3:20 and Ephesians 2:8. It is amazing to see how he memorizes the scriptures, as long as Mama is there to fill in the articles :)! We also love to listed to Seeds Family Worship CD's. You can listen online here. You can also find printables to go along with the songs here.
We use this book for A to Z scripture. Each verse accompanies a short story. Levi loves to "retell" the stories!
In addition to these basics, I like to do a fun, creative project at least every two weeks! (I know it doesn't seem like much but with a 20-month-old and a 3-month-old creative projects can take more time!) We also like to learn on the go, making learning a part of life. When we go for a walk, we talk about street safety, fast and slow, stop signs, birds, bunnies, and whatever else we see. I know this post is long, but believe me, nothing on this list is extremely time consuming. Remember I usually pick one activity per section per day. It's just what has been working for us! In September or October we may begin to do some thematic units as Levi nears the age of two, and as we incorporate other foods into Lyla's diet, meaning we'll have a bit more times between feedings.
Lyla enjoying some tummy time while Levi practices with colors!

I'd love to hear how you incorporate learning into your toddler's day! Any tips on fun activities to do with an infant would be welcome as well!!!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Encouragement for Homekeepers

"Home is the grandest of all institutions." ~Charles Hadden Spurgeon
"You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God's fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts.
"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up." Galatians 6:9
"Thank God, O women for the quietude of your home, and that you are queen in it. Men come at eventide to the home; but all day long you are there, beautifying it, sanctifying it, adorning it, blessing it. Better be there than wear a queen's coronet. Better be there than carry the purse of a princess. It may be a very humble home. There may be no carpet on the floor. There may be no pictures on the wall. There may be no silks in the wardrobe; but, by your faith in God, and your cheerful demeanor, you may garniture that place with more splendor than the upholsterer's hand ever kindled." ~ T. DeWitt Talmage
 "The career of motherhood and homemaking is beyond value and needs no justification. It's importance is incalculable." - Katherine Short"Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer."- Psalm 19:14

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Building Up My Marriage: Make Him Feel Special

Although Father's Day is long past,I still thought it would be a good time to explore the idea of making our husbands feel special. There are many ways we can do this and each husband may appreciate different ideas. So this is really about knowing your husband and using what you know to make your hubby happy. To get your creative juices flowing, these are a few ideas that I have put into practice:
Meet him at the door with his favorite drink.
Meet him at the door with a sensual kiss.
Set a reminder on his phone that says, "I love you, Babe!"
Wear clothing you know he finds attractive.
Leave him a note with a lipstick kiss.
Let him lead.
Pursue him ;)
Tell him how wonderful he is!
The following pictures capture what I did for my The Man of My Dreams on Father's Day but could easily be done any day of the year! So have fun, ladies... And however you let your husband know what he means to you, do it out of the love God has placed in your heart!
You are the best Dada ever because...