“If you’re okay, then I’m okay”

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In my Young Adult small group we are going through the Francis Chan series called BASIC. Last night we were on the topic of Following Jesus. (Great series by the way) At the end of class we watched a quick clip from The Skit Guys that was really good. The concept of the script they were acting out was set between an Atheist and a “Follower” of Christ. During the skit the Atheist asked the Christian what he did that weekend and the Christian said he went to church and God showed up. The Atheist then asked what it meant that God showed up. The Christian could not give an answer and then the atheist went on to point out that there was no difference between that Christian and himself. He said that if you asked anyone who was friends with them both if they were any different that the answer would be no. The only difference between them was that the Atheist got to sleep in on Sundays and the Christian didn’t.

But then the Atheist went on to say something very powerful, he said that if the Christian was okay then so was he. Meaning that if the Christian can live like he is living and believes that when he dies he will go to heaven, then the Atheist has nothing to worry about because they are practically the same person.

You can view this skit by clicking on the following link. The portion I’m referring to starts at 8:20 of the eleven minutes, but the whole skit is great and really funny so give it a watch. http://skitguys.com/videos/item/what-keeps-you-from-following-god

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We talked about this idea before when I did a review of the book Christian Atheist, and yet I cannot help but returning to it. If people who don’t believe in God don’t see a recognizable difference in those who do believe, then what reason would they ever have to change their views and give their life over to God? Think of someone you know who doesn’t believe in God and ask yourself if you were compared to them, in the things you do, what you say, what you think and how you act, would you stand out as different or would you be seen as the same?

Following Christ is deciding to take the narrow path. It isn’t easy to be a Christian, but it’s totally worth it. God sees past the facade that we put up for others. He is not stupid nor ignorant. And yes there is a difference in wanting to follow God and actually following God. 

Don’t let your actions deny the faith you claim to have. (Titus 1:16)

Let’s look deep today at ourselves and ask God to reveal to us anything that’s there which might be keeping us from fully following Him. I don’t ever want someone who claims to be an Atheist to say that there is no difference between the two of us except the fact that I wake up early on Sundays.

  

My Love is Not Enough

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As a mom I want to be able to fix everything for my girls. If they can’t do something on the first try I jump in to the rescue and use my supermom skills to help them out. Any amount of shed tears, either from being hurt, sad and scared or from being in trouble, I want to wipe away, to kiss away and to love away. But my love is not enough.

The other week my youngest, Elizabeth, was miserable from RSV (a bad respiratory infection). For several nights in a row I sat up holding her so she could breath a little better and sleep a little more. As I was holding her, every ounce of my being wanted to take away her sickness. I thought maybe if I could just hold her more, make her giggle, play peek-a-boo for the 1,000th time, if I could just love on her more then maybe she would feel better. But my love is not enough.

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There are times I lie awake at night with a fear that something might happen to my two precious girls. What if they were in an accident? What if someone took them? What if someone hurt them? I would lie there with such a deep love in my heart for them. A love so deep that I would do anything to make sure my girls are safe. But my love is not enough.

There will be a day in the future where my girls will become teenagers and they will be faced with all kinds of temptations and decisions to make for themselves. I would like to think that the amount of love I have for them will keep them from going down a bad path or will allow them to make all of the right choices. But my love is not enough.

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And then there will be that day when they are gone. They are no longer living under my roof, under my protection, under my guidance. From a distance I will wonder, from a distance I will care, from a distance I will be there and from a distance I will love. But my love is not enough.

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Yes, the love I have for my girls is so important. It is necessary, it’s needed and it does fix, help and heal some things. But my love is not enough.

The love our children need, the love that can protect them, that can heal all their diseases, the love that can mend a broken heart, the love that can guide them in the right direction, the love that can pour grace and mercy upon them, the love that knows them from the beginning to the end, the love that knit them together and knows the number of hairs on their head, the love that has a plan for them that is good, the love that willingly died so that my girls and all of us could live, the love that forgives….That Love Is Enough

Our babies need to know the love of Christ. It is His love that is enough. It will sustain them, it will fill them, it will bring them joy, peace, patience, gentleness, kindness, goodness and self-control. His love will forgive them and see them through. Moms out there recognize today that yes your love is so very important, but your love is not enough. Teach your children about the love of Christ, and in doing that you will be loving your kids in the best way possible.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

You can start again!

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Well considering it’s been three months since my last post, the title of today’s post suits well: You Can Start Again!

There are so many places in life, especially my life where the idea of starting again comes into play. So many times, due to many different circumstances, I have found myself at the lovely place of blaaaahhhhhh! Either life has become too busy or things have not gone as planned, either way I find myself wanting to give up and turn into an introvert who stays in her pj’s all day watching episode after episode on Netflix- oh crap that has been me for like three months!!!!

For me, life starts to head that way when I get overwhelmed with my world. Health issues have been a major overwhelming factor for me as of late. Just for a recap, I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 when I was 32 weeks pregnant with our second daughter. I had a double mastectomy a few weeks after giving birth and the last year has been full of additional doctor appointments, surgeries and procedures that I didn’t even know existed. I am thankfully on the closing end of this long year, but it’s been difficult to see past the fog that sickness can cause. The fog brought on by fear of the future. Not knowing if cancer will come back which leads to an apathetic attitude on life with the underlining idea that I could get sick again any day so why try anything new. Messed up- I know…

I’m usually not this open with my inner demons, but hey we can all start again and this time I’m starting again strong fully trusting that God’s got my back so I don’t need to worry. 

My starting again has included applying for a doctorate program, praying more, digging in deeper to the Word of God and spending more time on the floor playing with my kids. 

An amazing thing about waking up each day, which I don’t ever take for granted, is the fact that you are awake, alive and today can be the day you start again!

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

What great news! Christ desires to make us new. All that was in our past is gone when we give it over to God. We are new in Him. Even as a Christian of many years, I still need a fresh start in Christ from time to time, where I shed the old and reach up for more that God has and let go of the world and the worry that goes with it. 

I don’t know where you are on your level of blahness; I don’t know what’s in your life that overwhelms you and makes you want to just stay in your pjs all day, but I do know a loving Savior who is there ready to make you new, to help pull you up and set your feet upon a rock. 

God Bless! It’s good to be back!

 

Moms Working From Home Can Work!

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As a lot of you already know, I am a full-time mom. My field of study is education and up until recently I was a full-time teacher as well as a new mom. I know one day I will return to the workforce, mainly because that’s a desire of mine, but I sure do cherish the time I have now to spend with my baby girls.

I have tried to find some ways of contributing to the household financially, but right now my contribution is no daycare fees, yummy lunches and dinners, and a somewhat clean house 🙂

However, there are a ton of stay-at-home moms who have been able to find ways of making an income out of their own house while walking around with a baby on their hip. Today I wanted to feature one of these awesome moms.

Amanda Luton is a childhood friend of mine who grew up loving fashion and making all of us other girls wish we could kick a Ked, blue-jean skirt and scrunchy like she used to back in the day. Amanda went on to study Fashion-Merchandising and Marketing at the University of Nebraska and I believe she spent some time working in her field. But like most moms, once those babies started to come the desire to stay at home was overwhelming.

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Amanda did choose to become a stay-at-home mom, which is one of the least appreciated “jobs” in the world;however, she didn’t give up on her love of fashion. Actually, she turned it into a small business ran out of her house.

Here is what Amanda has to say about how she got started:

“I started Goat & Lulu as it is now, when I was pregnant with my third baby. I love boutique clothes for my two daughters, but since I also love for them to coordinate or match, I was having a hard time finding cute, colorful, and age appropriate options that I could afford! Buying two $70 outfits for every holiday and special occasion was just not going to work for me, so I started making simple dresses for my girls, and matching t-shirts and onesies for their little brother on the way! As I started posting things I’d made on facebook and in my etsy shop, I realized that there were a lot of moms out there that wanted to dress their kids like I did, in unique and playful clothes, but didn’t want to have to spend a fortune on coordinating outfits! I started getting a lot of custom orders from friends and family, and as word of mouth spread, I began to get more and more customers. Goat & Lulu was officially a small business!”

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I’ve been watching Amanda’s line of children’s clothing grow over the past year and it has been really inspiring. It’s awesome to see a mom, who I know goes all out for her kids, to also find the time to work on her own dreams.

Obviously, doing something like this takes some sacrifice and a ton of hard work. When asked about how she manages it Amanda responded with the following:

“It is difficult to manage the balance of stay at home mom to three, wife, and small business owner, but I feel like I am fulfilling my need for a creative outlet, contributing to our household finances, and showing my children that with a lot of hard work and persistence, you can turn a passionate hobby into a dream job! There is nothing better than having the flexibility of running my business at home, on the floor in my jammies, and taking coffee breaks for storytime with the kids. It is certainly the best of both worlds.”

Here are just some examples of the items Amanda designs and sells (the adorable models are her kiddos)

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Way to go Amanda! And she’s not the only one of my friends who has been successful at starting up their own small business while still staying home with their kids. So moms out there who have a desire to stay at home but also have a need to add to the household finances take this as an encouragement that you can do it! Find something you love and turn it into a business! I have friend who make bows, one who paints personalized signs, one who does computer graphics, one who designs children’s bedding and one who makes awesome kid’s clothing. What could you do from home? Go brainstorm and ask God to give you inspiration.

Thanks Amanda for your inspiration to other stay-at-home moms!

Check out Amanda’s clothing in her etsy shop. Just follow the link below:

www.etsy.com/shop/goatandlulu

Thinking vs. Doing

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We have a little saying around our house that we use with our daughter Eleanor, “Obey right away without delay”. She has heard this so often, especially when she was in her three year old phase, that she could finish our sentence for us. We have been working very hard at teaching her the importance of obedience. We would explain to her why it was important to obey mommy and daddy, and we have had to teach her on occasion what results in disobedience.

Eleanor obviously still disobeys from time to time, but for the most part she is now a very obedient child. And the best part is that she’s respectfully obedient. Hopefully that will last to her teenage years 😉

So my four year old has obedience down pretty good; hummmmm……….and then there’s me………

I like to call myself determined, my husband however would call me stubborn. And at times I guess I can be somewhat stubborn in my obedience to God. Oh sure I give plenty of excuses, but my main ones are: what if that’s me and not God speaking; I will when ___________; let me just get the house cleaned first!

The first excuse is the main one I fall to quite often. I do not want to do anything God has not called me to do, but I have allowed myself to take that uncertainty of hearing from God and have allowed it to cancel out some of the things I know are from God. It took me three years to obey God in starting this very blog. Oh sure I tried to start it several times, but I faltered on my commitment.

My women’s group at church has been doing a study on Jonah. It’s called: Jonah, Navigating a Life Interrupted by Priscilla Shirer. This is an awesome study if you’re looking for something to do with a group. This study has thrown the idea of disobedience in my face for the last four weeks. If you know anything about the story of Jonah then you know that he disobeyed God in going to Nineveh and therefore was swallowed up by a great fish and resided in the belly of that fish for three days.

Jonah 1:2 says, “Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and cry against it, for their wickedness has come up before me.”

Well Jonah did arise and go, but in the completely opposite direction from where God was sending him. Priscilla Shirer points out in her study that, “it’s easy for us to impersonate obedience.”

People are great at deceiving others and themselves. It’s easy to go to church, to talk about what God is showing you and asking you to do as if you’re trying to move in that direction. Others might buy it. And in some areas of disobedience it’s not that you’re hiding something, but maybe just not doing something God has put on your heart time and again. For example, God could be asking you to tell someone about Jesus, and you come up with excuse after excuse to disobey. We don’t label it as disobedience, oh no we put a much better feeling excuse on it like: I’m still growing in the Lord; God’s still working on me; I’m still praying over it.

Maybe your area of disobedience isn’t involved in discipling, maybe it’s giving up alcohol or quitting smoking, or breaking up with a guy, or putting up blocks on your internet. Whatever it is obedience can be VERY hard.

We can’t do these things on our own, that’s why God has put His Spirit in us to empower us!

We need to connect our hearts with God’s. We need to connect our minds with His truth. We need to give all the excuses and fears over to the one who can take them from us and give us back strength, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, kindness, faithfulness and self-control.

What is it that you have been disobeying God on? What has He been speaking to your heart about that you need to stand up and do? God is a god of second, third, twenty-fifth chances. Jonah knows that well. In Jonah 3:1 it says, “Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time”.

God is there waiting on you. Go to Him again in obedience.

God Bless! Have a great week!

Moms are AWESOME!

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I have been bombarded this week by Facebook funnies, articles, conversations and even scripture that points out how awesome and needed moms are. This comes at a good time because the stay-at-home mom gig has been leaving me feeling a lot of blahhhhhhhhhhhh lately ( I really did try to find other words to use besides blah, but it just fit the best!).

Our society has made the job of mom feel so less important than anything else. I read a great article by Matt Walsh on this very idea. This is a section from Matt’s rant on society about how they currently view motherhood:

“I want to kick our backwards, materialistic society in the shins and say, “GET YOUR FREAKING HEAD ON STRAIGHT, SOCIETY.”

This conversation shouldn’t be necessary. I shouldn’t need to explain why it’s insane for anyone — particularly other women — to have such contempt and hostility for “stay at home” mothers. Are we really so shallow? Are we really so confused? Are we really the first culture in the history of mankind to fail to grasp the glory and seriousness of motherhood? The pagans deified Maternity and turned it into a goddess. We’ve gone the other direction; we treat it like a disease or an obstacle.

The people who completely immerse themselves in the tiring, thankless, profoundly important job of raising children ought to be put on a pedestal. We ought to revere them and admire them like we admire rocket scientists and war heroes. These women are doing something beautiful and complicated and challenging and terrifying and painful and joyous and essential. Whatever they are doing, they ARE doing something, and our civilization DEPENDS on them doing it well. Who else can say such a thing? What other job carries with it such consequences?”

My goal today is not to take on a feminist kick and say women are the best thing in the world, but I want to remind all of you moms out there that what we do is SO important!!!

Here is an example in scripture you might not always contribute to exemplifying motherhood, but it does. It’s subtle and often overlooked, it’s found in Matthew 14:13-21; Jesus feeding the five thousand. This is usually a familiar story to most Christians. The paraphrased version goes like this:

Jesus was with his disciples on a boat very tired, but a crowd of people (some say five thousand, some say a lot more than that) came to see Jesus. Despite being tired Jesus went to the people. He blessed and healed many, then the disciples pointed out it was getting late and the people needed to go home so they could eat. Jesus said no, let’s feed them. The only thing they could find was a small boy who had some fish and bread. Jesus blessed the food and it miraculously fed all who were there with a dozen baskets of leftovers.

So where is the mom in this story you may ask? Well the person who had the fish and loaves that Jesus used to multiply is described a s a boy. Now this is my own imagination added to the scripture, but I would think that that little boy had a mom somewhere who had taken the time to prepare a meal for her son. Maybe she wanted to go with but needed to stay home, or maybe she was there and had brought the food to feed her son. Either way, she had taken the time, as all mothers do, to think about the needs of her child. God used the workings of a mom through the meal provided to her child, who willingly handed it over to the Savior a miracle that we now read about today.

Don’t underestimate the importance of your job as mom. Parents are the ones who set the standard of who their children will become. We are their first teachers, loves, doctors, pointers towards Jesus.

I may go crazy at time being a stay-at-home mom, and there may come a day I go back to work, but my job, my God-given responsibility as a mom will always be the most important thing in my life.

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Have a blessed weekend! Moms- hold your babies tight, they are such a blessing!

Scared Solid

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Okay moms out there with little ones or who remember when their babies were little I have a confession to make: I’m scared solid! Elizabeth is 11 months old and is starting to enter the world of solid food eating, but I’m not ready for that yet.

I am completely the over-bearing mother who wants to spoon feed her kiddo until she has a mouth full of teeth. I somewhat remember feeding my older daughter Eleanor more solid foods when she was younger than Liz, but for some reason I’m scared of the solids for my sweet little girl.

So when I’m feeling apprehensive about something I do two things: pray and research.

God gives us our children and the responsibility to raise them in the way they should go. But we also need to remember (speaking to myself here) that God is in control of that little life. The control freak in me quite often forgets that there is a big God who isn’t just a big human, no He is the all knowing, ever present, Creator of all things kind of God!

So I have to remind myself to breath, use the wisdom and knowledge God has given me, and let go of a little control. You see, I think my fear with Liz eating solids is more wrapped up in the fact that she is becoming more independent and already needs me less. This isn’t easy for any mother. From allowing your child to feed themselves to giving your kid the keys to the car…..at some point we have to let go and let them grow…

Now that my emotional attachment to the problem at hand has been recognized and dealt with, and I have given control back over to God I move my attention on to my research. There are so many questions that go along with giving babies solids.

When? What? How much? How fast? Will it make them allergic? Blah blah blah blah blah blah!

I have found the best place to turn for answers to first year questions is the book: What to Expect The First Years, by Heidi Murkoff. This books give a lot of great advice and answers a ton of questions I have had when it comes to the first year of my kiddos life.

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According to Murkoff, “Most babies are not only eager but able to begin finger foods by the time they are seven to eight months old”(pg.387). Obviously there are certain foods that qualify in the early month of solid eating. Murkoff addresses this by stating that, “the foods that qualify for first finger-food honors are those that a baby can gum to swallowable consistency or that will dissolve in the mouth without chewing, and that have been well received in pureed form on earlier tries”(pg.387).

All babies are different and will reach the place of introducing solids at different times. My Elizabeth was not ready between seven and eight months. She was eating rice mixed with water and chunkier baby food, but used to spit out any form of a solid. Now, at eleven months, she is eating small bites of banana, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes and level three baby food, which is VERY chunky. She also munches on snacks such Baby Mum-Mums. These things are awesome!

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So as you enter into the solid eating phase of your little one don’t get scared solid like I was. Give God the control, pray over your babies and their food, be wise- don’t leave a child unattended while eating, and do your research. If you have any questions on this topic or any advice to give feel free to leave a comment.

God Bless! Have a great week.