Weeds

When we spend our energy looking at other people and wanting exactly what they have, then there is a good chance we are missing out on what God is already doing in our own lives. If our modus operandi is to scroll through Facebook and look at other people’s lives, if our hearts are regularly meditating on what our friends have, on what they are doing, then we might just be investing in envy. Or we might be investing more into other people’s lives than our own. This is not necessarily the case, but we have to remember that sin is just hanging out, ready to cease the moment. As Christians, our enemy is anything but passive. The powers of darkness cannot claim our soul but they hunger to rip¬† us out of fellowship with God. We wrestle not against flesh and blood but against the powers of darkness and they want to plant envy and a whole host of sins deep within our hearts. Our hearts are after all, fertile ground. I do not have a green thumb. Ask any of my family members–even my kids–they will tell you the truth–I am a plant murderer. I get inspired and plant seeds almost every year knowing full well that they will eventually die. Usually sooner rather than later. But seeds are a dime a dozen so there is little to no consequence on my part. Not so with the heart. Seeds have a much greater impact. For example, scripture says that a tiny mustard seed of faith can move mountains! Furthermore, once something has been planted, it can be very hard to cut off that new growth. When we allow the seed of sin into our hearts, it might take a while, but it will eventually become full grown and give birth to death. Also, usually sooner rather than later.

“Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” -James 1:15

Sin is an aggressive weed. It wants to take over every inch of our heart. In fact, beginning with Adam and Eve, sin took over every inch of humanity. The nasty weed choked every living thing out of the human heart until it became dead. Before God came down to us, we were all one big overgrown weed–dead in our sins. Without Christ, you can dig as deep as you want and find only evil, always evil.

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” -Romans 3:11-12

God could have washed his hands of us and rightly so! His good and beautiful creation spat in his face and chose to become a nasty overgrown weed. God could have wiped us off the face of the earth, pulled us up by the roots and tossed us into the burn pile. But he didn’t. God could have let us continue in our existence as good for nothing weeds. But he didn’t. That is not who God is. God is merciful. God is loving. God is gracious. God is just. God is judge. The enormity of our sin demanded God’s justice. It demanded God’s wrath. But rather than scorch the weed that deserved a fiery end, God transformed it by the powerful blood of Jesus! Our glorious Savior took on the molten heat of God’s wrath over sin and now we are being transformed into something entirely new. God is making hearts new all over the world. He is making something out of nothing and oh how good are the works of his hands! Sin can still worm it’s way into our hearts but we can no longer be overtaken. We are alive in Christ! Jesus has given us a new heart that beats to the rhythm of grace. He gave us his righteousness. Jesus, who knew no sin became sin that we might become the righteousness of God. Jesus, has won the war on sin and death and the weed that choked out every good thing has been choked out by God himself. One day, every heart, both those tilled by God’s grace and those that have rejected God’s grace–all of us, in one accord will bow the knee and and every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord. He will receive all glory and honor. It is due him. And those of us that are His, will share in His glory. Those who chose to reject the light of the world will unnecessarily experience the wrath of God over their sins. Jesus already paid their wages, but by rejecting Christ and the work of his hands, by trusting in the work of mortal hands, they have condemned their souls to Hell. Apart from Christ we have no power to rip out the weeds. Sin is our nature. Apart from Christ the weeds are all that we have, all we know. Only God can create something out of nothing. We can only work with what we’ve got and apart from Christ all we have is an overgrown tangled mess.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” -John 3:16-19

If you have never placed your faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, if you are still trying to change your own heart and make things right with God on your own terms–stop it!! Your effort is in vain! You are wasting precious time. We can rip out weeds all day long but at our very core, we ARE a weed. No matter how well we live our life, no matter how many good works we do, they are worthless beyond this life.

“We have all become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” -Isaiah 64:6

Once we bow the knee and put our faith and trust in Jesus and believe that it is his work that makes us right with God, not ours, we are immediately justified and forgiven. Even if we died one second later, we would be in Heaven with the God man that makes Heaven so splendid (nope, not the streets of gold. They don’t even hold a candle.). That being said, while it is true that Jesus gave us Salvation and we do not work for it, it is from that place of acceptance and justification we are then able to experience and take part in the incredible transforming work of the Holy Spirit. We get to watch and by his power, take part in the incredible work of sanctification. We are made more and more into his image and our hearts reflect his more as we grow in the Lord. He is ripping the weeds out and making our hearts new. So how important is it then, that we guard our hearts!! We have to be intentional here! Yes we are being made new and the Lord is uprooting sin from our lives, but until we die and our bodies have been glorified, sin can still take root in our lives, hurting us and those around us. The Bible is clear that the Lord is going to finish what he starts but we slow the process down when we allow weeds back in and cultivate their growth. The Bible says the heart is deceptive above all else so we have to constantly be examining our life against the truth of scripture and guarding our hearts from sin.

“My son, be attentive to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
Let them not escape from your sight;
keep them within your heart.
For they are life to those who find them,
and healing to all their flesh.
Keep your heart with all vigilance,
for from it flow the springs of life.
Put away from you crooked speech,
and put devious talk far from you.
Let your eyes look directly forward,
and your gaze be straight before you.
Ponder the path of your feet;
then all your ways will be sure.
Do not swerve to the right or to the left;
turn your foot away from evil.” -Proverbs 4:20-27

We often (myself included) take time out of our day to consider other people’s lives but I think it’s important that we take time to meditate on our own lives and ask the Lord for discernment. I get on Facebook and hold my life up against other people’s lives but rarely do I hold my life up against scripture. Facebook can be used for good and it can be used for bad, but make no mistake, we are using it for something. Sometimes we use it to pass time, sometimes we use it to encourage others, sometimes we use it to compare, sometimes we use it to share joy, sometimes we use it to keep tabs on people, sometimes we use it to glorify God, and sometimes we use it to steal glory for ourselves. Don’t let it be an avenue for sin to take root in your heart. We do not have an infinite amount of time on this earth. How we spend our time matters and how we spend our time is an investment. We can spend it on quality things or we can waste it. My question to myself and others is, are we being careful to guard our hearts and invest our time, emotion, energy, and wellspring of life into the Lord’s kingdom, into our husband or wife, into our children, into the people at our local Church and into the community around us? These are all institutions the Lord has put into place and it is within the context of these relationships and entities that we live out the Christian life. Is Facebook and social media adding to or detracting from these relationships? My answer: Often times, it better helps me to connect and keep up with my family, church, and community but just as often, it detracts from these relationships. For example, instead of letting loneliness be the catalyst to pursue my church body and community, I often let it drive me to mindlessly scroll through my news feed, and in that mindless lonely state I open the door wide for sin to come in and get a foothold. When I see pictures of other people having interactions with their friends, I begin to envy them and allow sin to plant a seed in my heart. Half of the time I don’t even realize I’m doing this until maybe one day I look at a picture of someone and feel outright hostility and bitterness. Those two friendly sentiments are not fruit of the Spirit, definitely the fruit. I need to be a better steward of my time and a better steward of Facebook. You know, we leave an impact when we hit like on a photo or post, but the power to “like” something on Facebook can never rival the impact of a life invested in God and invested in the people he has placed into their life.

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Idol Worship and Jesus’ Bloodied Sword

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Our Church does Awanas on Wednesday nights. I have a child in Cubbies, one in Sparks and I help out with Truthseekers (the eight, nine, and ten year olds). During their lesson last night we were talking about idols. Initially, their paradigm for idol worship was someone (who probably lived a thousand years ago) bowing down before something shiny and saying, “I worship you, all hail the golden calf.” When we asked them about modern day idols they referenced buddah and a few other figureheads. While they weren’t wrong, they were missing the full scope of what idol worship is. It is not limited to owning a cheaply made Buddah bobblehead or a kitty cat that waves it’s paw at you for good luck. These are external idols but anyone and anything can become an idol in our hearts. In fact, for us believers, idol worship is most often internal. John Calvin said “The human heart is an idol factory.” The children initially had a hard time grasping this concept so I spoke up and said something along the lines of, “It’s not that these things are bad in and of themselves, but if we put our hope in having the new iphone 7, if we cannot stop thinking about it, if we feel like we need it in order for all to be right in our world, than we have made it into an idol and are looking for it to fulfill a role in our life that only God can.” Worshipping and trusting in things will not get us far but even a tiny mustsrd seed of faith in God can move mountains.

 

Last night, Levi took a long time to fall asleep. Usually he goes to bed around 7:30 but he didn’t fall asleep till around 10:00. At one point he leaned into my ear and whispered “hard time, having hard time.” As I laid there with him, trying to be as still as possible, my mind was racing. I kept thinking about what I had told the kids about idol worship and one phrase in particular was on loop: “if we feel like we need this thing for all to be right in our world than we’ve made it into an idol.” And it hit me. I have a good deal of idols in my life. Some are not new–I have put them to death before and now their rotting corpse is back. Others are new. All need to be put to death. None of them are bad things in and of themselves but because I have looked to them as my hope, essentially they have become idols, ironically stealing and distracting me from my real hope, Jesus Christ.

So what are these idols? I am going to share some with you in hopes that they will help you to identify ones that might be in your own life and heart.

The first idol that came to mind was sleep. After all, I was in the process of trying to get Levi to sleep as if my life depended on it. When my kids keep me from going to bed because they won’t go to bed or when they wake me up before my alarm goes off, my initial reaction is despair. If I don’t get enough sleep, all does NOT feel right in my world, I start obsessing about ways I can get more of it, and I believe the lie that my strength comes from a good 8 hours instead of from the God that has literally formed me in my mother’s womb, breathed life into my soul and is currently holding every one of my cells in place. He is sustaining my existence and he can sustain me after a night of little to no sleep.

On to the next idol. In college I was often described as a “free spirit.” I loved spontaneity and if a thought popped into my head that sounded nice, I made it happen. I loved the freedom of being an adult, having my own money, my own car. I liked my independence and after getting married and having children, it become apparent I didn’t just like it, I thought I couldn’t live without it. It was in fact an idol in my heart and thank the Lord that marriage and having children brought this idol to the surface so that I could bash it’s head in!! That was a bit graphic but I think graphic imagery is appropriate when we are talking about our flesh and sin. They literally want to destroy us and rip us out of fellowship with God. These institutions that God has put into place-marriage, the family unit, Church etc often do that. They bring our sins and idols to the surface and they shine light on those dark corners.

Shortly after I had Adam (our first child), panic and postpartum depression set in. I realized that it would be at least another decade and then some before I could have my independence back. Not only could I not follow whatever whim popped into my head, this little guy demanded what felt like my everything. I was so afraid of living without this idol that I actually considered abandoning my precious family. This was partially due to the postpartum depression but if I’m being honest it had mostly to do with my idol of freedom. Thankfully, God did not leave me in the clutches of sin. Over the next six months or so I started to understand that freedom apart from the Lord and apart from the institutions he has put in place (marriage, the family unit, the church, the government) is not true freedom. That type of “freedom” brought sin and death to all humankind. Adam and Eve found that out the hard way. However, the freedom we have in Christ and within the boundries that he has set in place, brings us life and life abundant. After coming to that place of realization, I grew and matured quite a bit in this area. However, I still struggle! Here’s the thing about idols. The Lord knocks em down and then we go and set them back up, half of the time without even realizing it. With this particular idol, I have had this happen many times and last night I realized that it has been creeping into my heart again. I have been putting way too much hope in having time to myself in the mornings and at naptime. I have been obsessed with having time for me, to do what I want with no one demanding anything of me. Times like these are not bad neccesarily, but if my kids don’t take a nap or wake up early, like, I literally feel destroyed. I feel like it is the end of the world and that, that is not living by faith but is instead the type of fruit that is bourne from a heart that has invested in an idol and has placed it’s hope in something other than God. Reality check: my day is not ruined when I don’t have freedom to do what I want to do. If anything, it has been made better because isn’t it when we lose our life and die to our self that we find it? The truth is, God is soverign and can give me my daily bread–he gives us exactly what we need to joyfully obey, serve and enjoy him. Whether my kids do or do not give me time to myself is irrelevant and cannot change this fact.

Last idol I’m going to talk about. Money. This is a big one! The Bible has SO much to say about money…store up riches in heaven, not earth where they will decay (Luke 12:33). You can’t serve money and God simultaneously (Matthew 6:24). Do not have outstanding debts (Roman’s 13:8). Whoever loves money never has enough (Ecclesiastes 5:10).

My husband, Bailey, jokingly calls me his little Jew girl. Now he can get away with this because I am actually Jewish and I take it as a compliment. I enjoy making money, coming up with ways to supplement his income and I love haggling at garage sales. Yes how I love to strike a deal! I have always had an itch to start my own business. My Dad is an entrepreneur, his Dad was an entrepreneur and if I had to guess, his Dad’s Dad probably was too. I don’t know why exactly, but Jewish people are known for their ability to amass money. And based on my experiences albeit limited, it is a true stereotype. I don’t think this is a bad thing and the creativity that often precedes the creation of a business or creation of products is a reflection of God and his splendid creativity. That being said, the Bible tells us our hearts are deceptive above all else. Our flesh is hungry to take and malign God’s good gifts as well as those parts of us that reflect his nature. And money like other good gifts from God can quickly become our vice and the object of our hearts affection–our hope–our idol. So if not held in check, this Jew girl side of me can go from blessing my family with extra income to hurting my family by pursuing and putting my hope in money. Idol worship is a sin. And sin never happens in a vacuum. It always hurts those around you. I recently started baking and selling cookies to our local coffee shop and as usual my flesh and new nature have had some knock down drag outs. When I initially started selling cookies I began to nickel and dime everything. Instead of just enjoying a night out with my husbsnd, I felt irritated that the amount of money we spent was roughly equivalent to 40 of my jumbo chocolate chip cookies. And because I was making an idol out of money and also placing my self worth in what I monitarily could bring to the table, I lashed out and hurt my family–a direct result of harboring sin and believing lies. I have since had some “come to Jesus” moments that involved confession and repentance but I also don’t have rose colored glasses. The Bible tells us that Sin is crouched at the door waiting for any and every opportunity. It wants to prostitute our heart with another idol. But while sin might be right outside the door holding up shiny fake gods, it cannot come into the throne room of God’s presence. So lets stay there, let’s live there, in God’s presence surrounded by other believers also seeking his presence. Our eyes cannot long settle upon an idol if they are instead affixed upon Christ. Our feet cannot so easily walk out the door when there are other pairs of feet in our way. Let us come together and like the little children, sit at his feet, look up into his eyes and listen. Listen to the word and listen to Jesus, the living word. It is by his truth-the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God that we can slay any and every idol. His words created everything from nothing. His words brought dead men to life. His words healed the sick, his words have stood the test of time, being perfectly preserved, his words will stand forever and yet our great God chose to close his mouth and like a lamb led to the slaughter he did not use his words. He sheathed his sword because it gave him joy to bear our sins, the sins of the world. Because of his great love he bore the full weight of God’s wrath over those sins. Yes the human heart is an idol factory but we are not only equipped with the sword of God’s written word, we also know and are in relationship with the living sword of God’s word, Jesus. He is not afraid of a little blood (he did after all, spill all of his) and can cut out our idols. And if they come back or others try to press in, he will cut those out too. And he won’t leave us bleeding and broken. He binds us back up, and cleanses our heart from all unrighteousnes.

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Life Hacks: Water Play With Littles

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Hello blogging world! I am back! Sadly, it has been a long time since my last post but never fear, I have a whole slew of topics bouncing around in my head that are just dying to get out! Hopefully over the next few weeks I will be able to share some of them with you. So where have I been, you might ask. Why haven’t I been blogging or updating my Facebook page? I think this picture about sums it up….

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Levi is why. This is what happened when I turned my back for 5 seconds today. 5 seconds yall! And really, this was mild. I won’t go into the weekly toilet incidents or tell you how many things I have fished out of the toilet. I don’t even use gloves anymore! When I was big and pregnant with this sweet babe, people would often assure me, “the 3rd child is always the easiest.” And to that I say Ha! Levi is arguably our hardest child. In fact, as it turns out, my 17 month old bouncing boy is a bonafide thrill seeker. This kid has no fear! He can climb anything and will jump off anything. So, in short, the reason I have been absent on this here blog is because I love my kids and don’t want them to die. I mean, really I could say “I have three boys, ages 5 and under” and I think that also speaks for itself. Boys don’t just eat you out of house and home. They also get hurt–a lot. No lollygagging on the job for me! Pretty much every time I pick up my phone or check out for a couple minutes I hear the phrase “Mom! There’s blood!” We easily go through a box of band-aids every week. Batman themed, Trolls, Avengers, Minions–we’ve had them all. Owen is convinced they are magic stickers that have healing powers. Thanks Disney. Who would have thought that band aids could effect your bank account. Anyway, moving on…I do actually have a topic that I want to talk about today!! We are smack dab in the middle of the summer! I live in Texas which means it is ridiculously hot and sticky. Water play has become a weekly staple and I have a few hacks that I think could be beneficial to other Mom’s.

Hack Number One:

Spray sunscreen. It’s a game changer y’all! I have always been opposed to these type of sunscreens. They have several ingredients that are less than ideal, they carry on the wind and get in people’s eyes and mouths, and they can cause asthma if breathed in. That being said, spray sunscreens are the best thing ever!!! First off, the “healthier alternatives” are ridiculously expensive. Second off, when I use the expensive stuff, it takes forever to rub it into their skin. Third, aint nobody got time for that! Bottom line, I am too busy keeping my kids alive to spend 5+ minutes on each individual child endlessly rubbing in thick sunscreen that smells like butt paste. Blurg!!! With spray sunscreen you can literally line them up in a row, spray, rub it in for 10 seconds, turn them around, spray, rub it in for 10 more seconds and be DONE! Fun in the sun here we come!

Hack Number Two:

Extra towels. Never bring one per person. There is always some unforeseen reason or event that will end in your children having an epic fight over who gets Mom’s towel. A few weeks ago, one of our towels got soaked in pee. Levi had a hand in that. ūüėČ Did I mention that he is obsessed with toilets?? Thank goodness we had extra towels!

Hack Number Three:

Bring along the tear free baby shampoo. Whether we are going to the splash pad, a friends pool, or even to our own backyard to play in the baby pool, I have started bringing along our trusty foaming babyorganics shampoo (the organic part is to make up for the spray sunscreen ūüėČ ūüėČ ). The last thing I want to do after coming home from a long day in the sun is put forth any ounce of effort. I want to lock Levi down in the high chair, turn on some cheesy kids show and VEG OUT. Junk food for everyone (okay so I guess the organic shampoo is kind of a moot point)! Seriously though, who wants to peel off wet clothes and give three starving kids a bath? Not me! Nope nope nope. Here’s what I do instead…while we are still at the splash pad, about 5 min before I’m ready to dry them off, I lather them up with shampoo and send them back out onto the splash pad for a couple of minutes. When they come back, they come back clean! Well, clean enough for me anyway. It’s basically the same thing at the pool or at home in your yard. When they are done with the waterworks, lather them up and then spray them down with a hose. Works every time.

Hack Number Four:

Put your kids in matching clothes. Cheesy I know, but when you are at a giant water park or even at the local splash pad, it is helpful to be able to easily identify all of your kids. I don’t even say their names in my head anymore…I just make sure I count three Treherne’s and we’re good. :’)

**disclaimer** No children were hurt in the making of this blog post. This was the product of a well utilized nap time. Incidentally, because of a day at the pool, all three kids are asleep at the same time. Basically my thought process was, either I could clean up the diapers or write a blog post. ¬†ūüôā

The Days are Long and the Years Short

“YOLO”

“Life is too Short”

“Carpe Diem!”

“As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer.” -Psalm 103:15-16

Time is moving and it is moving fast. There is no escaping this constant, unmovably moving passage. Some choose to ignore the markers that are pointing to this reality, but as¬†Mothers,¬†there is no room for such delusion. Our children are a very regular¬†reminder. This life¬†and their lives are passing all too quickly…baby boy rolled over for the first time; seems like only yesterday you heard his first cry, raw and guttural…brother jumps two clothing sizes over the summer…the twins perform in their first play…little sister isn’t so little anymore and is about to get her permit…big brother has graduated and is heading off to college…

Oh yes, for us Mom’s, the reminders are almost as constant as time itself.

The old adage, “The days are long and the years short” couldn’t be more true. ¬†Sometimes the tyranny of the urgent: getting¬†the children dressed and out the door or putting the baby¬†down for a nap, can cloud our vision, but as the dust settles and we see the subtle and dramatic changes that come with growth and maturation, we can not help but stare down the barrel of time. I don’t know about you, but whenever¬†my children reach new milestones and especially when they leave one behind, I feel a deepening¬†sense of responsibility and urgency. I am reminded that while the day might seem like it is never going to end, these children that God has entrusted to me, are rapidly approaching adulthood¬†and eventually death. I am reminded that much like the servant with his talents, these children are not¬†mine.¬†They belong to God and I have been charged to invest in them, to “train up a child in the way he should go; [so that] even¬†when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)” One day, I will stand before God, my Master and have to give an account to Him for how I handled, treated, and invested in these¬†people he has entrusted to me. Will he say “well done my good and faithful servant” or will I be like the servant that wasted his talent, burying it in the ground?

‚ÄúFor it [the kingdom of heaven] will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property.¬†To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. ¬†So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. ¬†But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money.¬†¬†Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. ¬†And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‚ÄėMaster, you delivered to me five talents; here, I have made five talents more.‚Äô His master said to him, ‚ÄėWell done, good and faithful servant.¬†You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.‚Äô¬†And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‚ÄėMaster, you delivered to me two talents; here, I have made two talents more.‚Äô¬†His master said to him, ‚ÄėWell done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.‚Äô ¬†He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‚ÄėMaster, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, ¬†so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.‚Äô¬†But his master answered him, ‚ÄėYou wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? ¬†Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. ¬†So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. ¬†For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. ¬†And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.‚Äô” -Matthew 25:14-30

We do not know the day or hour that our¬†Master, King Jesus will return but we do know that we are supposed to be ready and alert, not letting time slip¬†by, wasted. Practically everyone¬†has an opinion on how our children should be raised and disciplined but just as the talents were given to the servants “each according to his ability” God has intentionally chosen you to parent the children that God¬†has entrusted to you. So don’t waste precious time worrying about measuring up to that cool Mom on Pinterest or even to another godly Mom friend. “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. (Ephesians 5:15)” And how do we know what his will is? By reading, studying, praying over, meditating on his word, the Bible. We should never hold ourselves up to the standards of others, but instead hold our lives and efforts up to the infallible word of God, looking humbly to¬†Jesus, He is the living word. It¬†is by his stripes that we have been healed and saved from sin and it is only through his sacrifice and his¬†strength that our efforts will be any better than those of the slothful servant.

So where do we even start? How can we be faithful to God and invest in our children? Start small. “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.”¬†You don’t have to come up with some big grandiose 10 step plan. There is no magical formula. Take baby steps and feed yourself on the pure spiritual milk that is God’s word. Feed your children.

“like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation,” -1 Peter 2:2

“And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God¬†may be complete, equipped for every good work.” -2 Timothy 3:15-17

Use Your Words!

use-your-wordsSome how, some way all three of my boys are napping at the same time, two days in a row. So here I am sitting at my laptop enjoying the clicking sound of the keyboard and snacking on my children’s applesauce. ūüôā I love to write. Partly because it is enjoyable to organize my thoughts and feelings (believe me they are not organized in my head!) and partly because I am convinced that words have a great potential to stir souls and move hearts. Words are uniquely powerful…both written and spoken. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits. (Proverbs 18:21 ESV)” A lot of times we acknowledge and teach how dangerous words can be but forget that they can also¬†bind wounds, nurture¬†souls, and in the case of God–create something from nothing. The Lord could have brought the Universe into existence with the clap of his hands or wrinkle of the brow but he chose to use spoken word. “For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm. (Psalm 33:9)” We, of course, cannot speak things into existence but, our ability to speak and intelligently communicate with our mouth is a gift from the Lord that uniquely belongs to mankind. It is a power the Lord has¬†bestowed upon us–a part of what it means to bear the image of God. Jesus tells a parable in the book of Matthew about a Master that before leaving on a¬†journey, entrusts three servants with a sum of money. Two of them invest their talents and have a surplus to give their Master when he returns. The third, however, buries his money in the ground and does not seek to multiply that which¬†has been given to him. The Master is very displeased and severely punishes him. While this story in and of itself has nothing to do with words, I do think there is an underlying principle to be learned. It is not enough to¬†avoid doing evil. We are called to use what the Lord has given us for good. So, applying that to the topic at hand:¬†we could simply make it our goal to avoid speaking evil but then¬†we would essentially be burying our words in the ground. We must take it a step further¬†and pursue speech that glorifies the Lord and lifts others up. While we cannot literally create life with our words, we can speak words of life to others. I am always telling my kids, “Use your words!” Which is ironic because that is exactly what I should be telling myself. As we go about our days¬†as wives, moms, friends, sisters, and daughters, let us remember to be intentional to use our words for good.

What’s A Girl To Do?

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Have you ever had one of those days where every time you try to accomplish something you are quickly interrupted? “Mommy, Mommy! Come here! I need you!” or “Mommy! Come play with me!” or as my 10 month old likes to put it, “Ma Ma Ma AHHHHHHHHHHHHH AHHH MA MA MA MA” and on and on it goes until “MA MA” drops her task and gives them her full attention. I have a lot of those days. In fact, I do believe every day is one of those days! It’s very sweet that my children are so excited to spend time with me but many days there are things that really do need to get done! I mean I could wear dirty underwear but should I wear dirty underwear? ūüėČ It might be laughable but clean laundry¬†is no easy thing when you have three littles competing for your attention and time. So what’s a girl to do? I find that as is the case with most things, there is no simple answer. Often times when we come across a problem or road block we tend to be reductionistic. We oversimplify and try to put everything into a neat little box but we have to be careful because in doing so we often gloss over the root problem and rob ourselves of an opportunity to examine our hearts and the hearts of our children. That being said, instead of asking yourself something like “How can I get stuff done despite my children interrupting me?” or “How can I get my kids to stop interrupting me?” it might be more profitable to ask yourself more probing questions such as:

“Why do my children demand my attention every time I start to clean house?”
“Am I spending too much time cleaning and not enough time with the kids?”
“Am I spending too much time with the the kids? Am I teaching them that they always need to be entertained by someone?”
“When I spend time with my children, is it quality time that nurtures their soul and leaves them feeling loved?”

For me, the answers to these type of questions change mostly depending on how well my relationship with the Lord is going. When I am not being intentional to spend time in prayer and time meditating on the word, my priorities tend to get out of whack and the time I spend with my kids tends to have less impact or rather not the right kind of impact. The past week or so, my children have been a little more demanding than usual and after asking myself the above quesitons as well as talking to my husband and asking the Lord for wisdom, I am pretty sure that the problem is twofold. One: I am not spending enough quality time with them. I have been putting too much emphasis on creating a “well oiled machine” and not enough emphasis on shepherding my children’s hearts (which takes focused time). Two: I have been inadvertaintly training them that they need to be entertained 24/7. Because I’ve been trying to get our house in perfect order, I have been setting them up with a myriad of crafts, shows, and activities to keep them busy and distracted. Crafts and activities are not bad in and of themselves but it’s important that we don’t model or teach our children that they need to be entertained at all times. Our goal in life is not happiness–it is holiness.

You might be saying, “That’s all well and good but I still need clean underwear!” Yes you do! I do too! But maybe I don’t also need to clean the baseboards today or cook that new complicated recipe I found on Pinterest. Maybe instead, I will plan something easy for dinner, get the kids involved in folding laundry, and when conversations inevitably turn to Christmas lights I can take the opportunity to talk about Jesus–the Light of the world.

Blessings!
Grace|HouseWife|BoyMom

Tips for Helping Newborns Sleep Better & Longer

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My husband and I have lived through the newborn stage three consecutive times. I think that is quite an accomplishment! Having a newborn is no easy thing. Their only form of communication is crying and they are up anywhere from every five minutes to maybe every 4 hours if you’re lucky and you are willing to risk a low milk supply! That being said, while my mantra was always “if we can just make it to the two week well visit we’ll be good” I do miss those early days and tiny babes. Today I wanted to revisit those memories and share with you my tried and mostly true tips and tricks for helping your newborn or young baby sleep longer (because sleeping through the night is a myth!) at night.

1. SWADDLE. I can’t stress this enough! Newborn babies have what is called the startle reflex and it is exactly as it sounds! If they aren’t swaddled at night, they will startle themselves awake over and over again! Double swaddling worked like a CHARM with all three of my boys. Here’s a tutorial my best friend wrote!

https://sarahjtk.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/the-double-swaddle/

Sometimes people think their babies don’t like to be swaddled because they cry while they¬†are wrapping them. But usually their tears have more to do with you messing with¬†their¬†limbs than with the swaddle itself. And can I just be real for a minute? Even if your baby doesn’t like it, it is proven to help them sleep better and sleep is very important for their brain development¬†not to mention¬†your sanity! Newborns cry, it’s what they do. I know it’s hard to stomach¬†but a little fussing for a short period of time is okay as long as you are comforting and loving on your baby.

2. Heating pad! Before you start baby’s¬†bedtime routine, go plug in a¬†heating pad and place it where your child will be sleeping.¬†When it comes time to lay them¬†down, remove the heating pad and place baby onto their now cozy sheets. The warmth makes it less obvious that¬†Mommy is catching a breather.

3. Rice Socks! When my boys were newborns, I filled a couple of socks with rice and positioned them around their bottom half. I would even put one (that only had a little bit of rice) over their chest. The slight pressure made them feel like I was still holding them and would often help them sleep longer.

4. White noise!! Our neighbors like to play their bass at all hours of the night. Thankfully having a steady background noise cancels out their poor taste in music. :-p I use the app Chroma Doze. You can download it for free on android phones. I am not sure if it is available on the iphone but I would assume that there is at least one app out there that would do the job! If all else fails, a box fan will cut it.

5. Kissing baby’s eyes! When baby is very young, kissing their eye or eyebrows¬†every few seconds will force them to close their eyes often enough that it will put them right to sleep.

6. Room Temperature. Make sure baby is not too hot or too cold. That can majorly affect their ability to sleep. The rule of thumb is to take what feels comfortable to you and and add a layer for baby.

7. Frequent Daytime Feeds. This right here is key! Make sure you feed your baby often throughout the day. My goal was every two hours. If you go 3-4 hours, while it probably will not hurt your child, he will make up for it that night and nurse more often which means he will wake up more often.

8. Reality Check. Remember that it’s normal for newborns to wake up often. No matter what you do, sometimes your baby will be up every 30 minutes. Don’t spend the night stressing and worrying that something is wrong. As long as baby has plenty of wet and dirty diapers and¬†does not have a fever, he is most likely just going through a growth spurt which means cluster feedings! At the beginning, those nights can sometimes be more often than not and it is easy to get discouraged or feel hopeless. But it’s important to remember that this is temporary. It is a season and like all seasons this too shall pass. As with every season we go through, the Lord has things that he wants to show us and opportunities for growth that are unique to that¬†particular time. Don’t miss out on those things like I did with my first! Set your blurry sleep ridden eyes on Jesus and ask him for strength, wisdom and endurance and ask him to draw near and grow your faith.

Hope these tips help!
Many blessings!
Grace|HouseWife|BoyMom