Motherhood: The First 6 Months

Our little girl (our first child) turned 6 months a week or two ago. And although, I don’t want this blog to be solely about motherhood or parenthood, it is the season of life that I’m currently in. So, I just wanted to share some things I learned as a new momma.

  1. Being a parent is HARD.
  2. Being a mom is HARD.
  3. Being a stay-at-home-mom is HARD.

LOL. Talk about stating the obvious.

When I first began this post, I wasn’t sure where I was going to go with it, but then a friend of mine posted something on her FB wall that really resonated with me. She talked about feeling isolated as a stay-at-home-mom. I understood those feelings all too well. Then, after talking with a few working moms over the weekend, I realized it was most moms–regardless of working status–that felt this way.

While I love being home with our baby girl, some days are good and others are very challenging. Some days baby girl goes down for a 2 1/2 hour nap in her crib, while other days she won’t let me put her down. Some days she wakes up at 4 o’clock in the morning crying, for no apparent reason, and I’m wracking my brain to get her back to sleep; but other days she sleeps for 7 hours straight. We love our children, and love being able to stay home with them, but it can be lonely and exhausting.

I think it’s because, being a mom often means that our own needs are set aside for those of another. However, it’s far too easy to get caught up in this idea, and never put ourselves first. Which, I feel is a mistake. I love my baby girl, but sometimes I need time to myself. Whether that means asking the hubbs to watch baby while I go to the gym; do some grocery shopping; cook or clean; or take a nice, long, hot shower; I need some time unattached, if only for 30 minutes. (I’m going to be honest though, I know my husband doesn’t always understand this, and it’s frustrating; but I guess I need to just do a better job at explaining it to him.)

Perhaps that’s where our loneliness and exhaustion comes from…thinking we need to be able to do it all on our own. Maybe we think we’re a “bad mom” because we can’t do it all; or because we need some “me time.” We shouldn’t think this way. As I often tell baby girl, “Mommy can’t feed you, unless she feeds herself;” in other words, we can’t take care of another of we aren’t taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually speaking.

Instead, we need to ask for help when we need it; and as believers, it’s incredibly important for us to remain in the Word and prayer, and in community with other believers (Hebrews 10:24-25).

I understand that when you have a little one–or more than one–it’s sometimes difficult to just get out of the house, forget trying to get together with others. It takes a ton of planning to get everybody up and out of the house, but it can be, and should be done.

I realized this after the first few weeks of being a STAHM. So, here are some things I’ve recently begun implementing in our home…

  • Attending a Wednesday morning women’s Bible study, so I can connect with other women. (My husband attends Saturday morning with the men.)
  • Weekly library visits.
  • Monthly visits to the children’s museum.
  • We (my husband and I) have begun getting together with different couples from church each month.
  • Planning a family outing once a month.

Lastly, I mentioned this previously, in my Learning to Appreciate the Silence post, we need to be wary of our social media usage. First off, it’s a huge time sucker; you go to check one thing and by the time you know it, 30 minutes have gone by. Furthermore, it’s so easy to get caught up with things others are doing, to feel hurt or offended when we feel we’ve been forgotten or excluded. If we weren’t watching the every move of others via social media we wouldn’t even be worried about such things. Finally, it’s way too easy to go into comparison mode, thinking that others have it better than us; or that they have everything all together; or sometimes, even worse, thinking we’re better than another mom! We forget that FB, Instagram, etc. are just the “greatest hits” reel, where we usually get to see people at their best. We don’t often get to see their struggles or insecurities–and believe me, EVERY mom has them. We’re all different and just trying to do the best we can with what God has given us.

Although, it appears that I’m trying to figure this mom thing out on my own by creating schedules and getting together with others, I must reiterate the need for spending time in prayer and the Word. Ultimately, our peace and strength comes from the Lord; and try as we might, to do it all on our own, we’ll only end up exhausted, bitter, and feeling like utter failures if we don’t rest in His presence daily. So, let’s take a lesson from David, when we’re feeling overwhelmed, and seek refuge in the shadow of the most high.

Hear my cry, O God, listen to my prayer; from the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is overwhelmed and weak. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I [a rock that is too high to reach without Your help]. For you have been a shelter and a refuge for me, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me dwell in Your tent forever! Let me take refuge in the shelter of Your wings! Selah ~ Psalm 61:1-4, AMP

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To Err is Human…

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We all make mistakes. It’s just a part of being human. Sometimes we say the wrong thing, make the wrong choice, forget, or simply run out of time. We can’t expect to be perfect, and we can’t place unrealistic expectations on others, either (for more on this you should check out this post).

Yet, how often we feel like failures when we don’t get things right. I recently finished reading Gloria Furman’s, “Missional Motherhood,” and in it, she reminded me that we need to be careful with what we call “failure.” She states, “Things that are part of our design–our need for others in community, our physical limitations, being embodied in an ‘earthly tent,’ and our lack of knowledge–are not failures. We have no need to repent of those things, for this is the way God designed us” (Missional Motherhood, p.124).

We must beware, Furman goes on to state, because “we often [mistakenly] place worldly blunders on the same level as unholy sins” (pp. 124-125). Mistakes due to our humanity are not the same as down-right rebellion against God. Our neediness and weakness points us to Christ; it’s why He created us this way; that we would be dependent on Him. Our sin, on the other hand, draws us away from God; the bible calls it enmity (James 4:4), in which, we’re spiritually at war with Christ. Sin requires repentance.

Therefore, when we make mistakes, the only thing we can do is acknowledge it–apologize, if we hurt someone in the process–and attempt to prevent it from occurring again. I love the quote above, attributed to Alexander Pope, “To err is human; to forgive, divine,” because it takes supernatural power to forgive ourselves, or others, when mistakes are made. Whether we have to walk in humility because we messed up, or offer grace to another, because someone unintentionally hurt or disappointed us, it’s only by His Holy Spirit that we do so.

Book Review – I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian

I picked up a book back in December, by Thom Rainer, called “I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian,” but it wasn’t until recently that I actually took the time to read it. It’s a short read–just a little over 100 pages–so this is going to be a really quick review.

wp-image-1867108290jpg.jpgI’m not sure what I expected when I picked up the book, but I think I thought it was going to be more about missions. So, I was a little surprised to find out that it’s actually directed towards believers.

It’s no secret that the state of the American church is in disarray. As Rainer put it, “Somewhere in the twentieth century, believers, particularly in America, began to shift from an attitude of self-sacrificing service to God and worship of God, to consumer-focused, self-servicing attitudes” (p. 30). This statement pretty much sums up the purpose of the book: to make believers aware of this fact (if we weren’t already) and to show us the way back.

Rainer talks about our attitudes as believers; the importance of being a growing member of a church, and worshiping in community; serving (both in and outside of the church); being a giver; sharing the gospel; and avoiding the traps of what he calls Churchianity— which he defines as “practicing our church and religious beliefs according to human standards rather than biblical guidelines” (p.93).

Overall, I think this is a good book for believers who find themselves often complaining or are unsatisfied with the churches they attend. If you find yourself constantly complaining about the music, the message, the parking, the ministries, etc., then perhaps you may want to pick up a copy of this book, take a step back, and rethink the purpose of the church. (Honestly, I think that most believers have felt frustrated with the church at some point in their walk, but our attitude and how we react–whether or not we allow God to change our heart–makes all the difference.)

After reading this book you should come away asking what you can do for the church, rather than what the church can do for you. So…what will you do?

Take care, and God bless!

Rich in Faith

Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? (James 2:5, NLT)

Yesterday, as we (my church family) were praying for churches that we’re working towards establishing in El Salvador and Ghana, I began thinking about the impoverished communities where these churches will be built. As I prayed, in my spirit I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 8:2 which states, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” Of course, in context, Paul was writing this to the church at Corinth, regarding the churches in Macedonia, who, though having very little, gave freely and abundantly to the believers in Jerusalem, who had even less. But I was reminded yesterday, that the believers in other nations and cities who are lacking basic every day needs, are in the same boat! They may have very little in monetary and dietary value, yet they are rich in faith and joy. How is that possible?

Well, let’s recall the Israelites in the desert, after God rescued them from Egypt. Did God not provide for their every physical need on a daily basis? Just as the Israelites were forced to a position of complete reliance on God for daily sustenance—manna, quail, water, and even clothing—these churches in nations with very little, recognize that God is the giver and sustainer of life! They have faith in His faithfulness and ability to provide for their every need, even though their current situation tells them otherwise.

I believe, in America, faith like this is difficult to obtain because we have so much! Having much isn’t a bad thing, but when we come to rely more on the things that we have, rather than the Giver who provides them, our faith and relationship with Christ are impacted negatively. Therefore, we shouldn’t hold so tightly to the things that God has so richly blessed us with, but always remain in a position of obedience, thanksgiving, joy and compassion that moves us to help our brothers and sisters in need.

Lastly, a few weeks ago, as I was helping out in the kid’s church on a Sunday morning, the speaker described a pitcher pouring water into a cup and the cup overflowing, as an example of Psalm 23:5: “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” And as he spoke on this, I immediately pictured one of those fountains in my head, in which, a pitcher pours water into one cup, which, inFountain turn, pours water into another cup, and then into another, and so forth. I remembered that God blesses all His children—whether financially, spiritually, with knowledge, or other gifts—but we aren’t to keep the gifts to ourselves! We’re to allow it to pour forth into the lives of others, so that they, in turn, can do the same.

Therefore, let us remain in a position of submission to God, seeking His face daily, and allowing Him to continually pour into and bless us, so that we can pour into and bless those around us. Let our faith be not in the things we have, but in the One who gives them; and may our hearts be full of joy and faith, knowing that God is faithful and just (Psalm 111:7; 1 John 1:9), trusting that He cares for us (Matthew 10:29-31), and having full confidence that He has and will continue to provide for us, strengthen, and protect us (Psalm 31:22-24; Isaiah 40:29-31; Romans 5:17-18). In Him we place our hope!

This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our hope is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people and particularly of all believers. (1 Timothy 4:10, NLT)

Power

How often we talk about the power and authority found in the Holy Spirit, and yet, where is the evidence that we believe in that power? Romans 8:11 (NLT) states “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in” us [emphasis added].

The Spirit of God, the same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us. (Yes, I realized I just repeated myself, lol, but it’s so important and exciting it bears repeating.)

Yesterday–Sunday, September 1, 2013–I listened as my pastor spoke about how the Holy Spirit equips us with power to preach the gospel, and I sat there, in total agreement, without really understanding all that that entailed. Until today, when I opened up my textbooks for school and read about…power. What?! (Hahaha, yes, this is how God works.)

According to my textbook, there’s this theory called the “Approach/Inhibition Theory,” and according to this theory we act/respond differently depending on whether or not we feel as though we have or lack power.

  • Approach (having power) is associated with:
    • action
    • seeking rewards and opportunity (being proactive)
    • increased energy and movement
    • ability to express ideas
    • resisting conformity to pressures
  • Inhibition (lacking power) is associated with:
    • reaction
    • self-protection
    • avoiding threats and danger
    • vigilance
    • loss of motivation
    • an overall reduction in activity

Honestly, as I was reading this, I realized I often act as though I’m lacking power! And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in this.

But, wait a minute, didn’t we just say that the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us!? So, why do we act as though we’re lacking power? Because, as my textbook states “power is a state of mind” and unless we truly BELIEVE that the power of God is living in us, we’re not going to LIVE as though the power of God is living in us!

Now, you may be thinking, “but I DO believe that the Holy Spirit—the power of God—is living in me,” then perhaps the problem is we just aren’t grasping the greatness of His power.

We’re talking about the God of the Universe! He shaped the heavens, the sun, the moon, and stars. He formed the earth, created every drop of rain, and every blade of grass. He breathed life into all of creation and knows the number of hairs on each of our heads. His word says He knit us together in our mother’s womb and knows the deepest desires or our hearts. He’s the God who never gave up on us, even after sin entered the world; He sent His one and only Son into this world to carry our burdens upon His sinless back. He’s healed the diseased, given sight to the blind, brings hope to the hopeless. He’s Father to the fatherless, and brings peace to the troubled heart.

(I could go on and on, but if you really want to know Who He is and what He’s capable of, I really suggest you study His word on your own.)

Like the song says, there IS power in the name of Jesus, and THAT is the POWER that lives in us, as believers! Therefore, we should be proactive for Christ, speaking the truth boldly, stepping outside of our comfort zones, and asking others where can help, rather than waiting for others to ask us. We shouldn’t be afraid of rejection, or being hurt, and we should never let the opinions of others or our own weaknesses and shortcomings keep us from moving forward on plans that God has already confirmed in our lives. And why not?

Because the Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in us.

Multiply: Week 6

Part II: Living as the Church

3: The Global Church

I, again, apologize for not writing on a more regular basis. I’ve started riding the train to and from work, which means I leave my home earlier and get home later in the evenings, leaving me less time to do other things during the week. It’s going to take some getting used to and some serious time management skills, since I’ll be returning to school in a few weeks, as well. Before I begin chapter 14 of Romans I thought I’d continue our discussion of Multiply: Disciples Making Disciples, because chapter 6 is about the global church and I feel it has much in common with previous chapters of Romans.

As important as the local church is, God’s plan extends way beyond your town. As much as God wants you to reach the people in your community, He has no intention of stopping there. God’s plan of redemption reaches into your neighborhood–and to every other city, village, and jungle around the globe! (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p.77)

The Bible makes a point to explain that the fall of Adam and Eve affected all of humanity; not just a certain ethnic or geographical group. In the same manner, the life, death, and resurrection of Christ–the grace of God–is meant for all! If we’re not trying to make some sort of effort to reach those in other parts of the world, then we’re not truly being obedient to the call of Christ, through the Great Commission to share the gospel.

A few days ago I was reading Romans chapter 10…

As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile–the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:11-15)

The word “believe” in Greek is pisteuo, which means “to adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on.” Therefore, how can anybody have a relationship with–adhere to, cleave to, trust, rely, or depend on–Christ if they don’t believe that He exists? They have no faith. How can they have faith (or a relationship) with Christ if no one has ever told them about what God has done for them? And how can they hear about God’s grace and mercy if someone doesn’t tell them? God commands us to share the gospel with the world. We must tell others, so that they may hear and believe (adhere to, cleave to; to trust, to have faith in; to rely on, to depend on).

“But how can I reach the globe?” you may be thinking to yourself. I had to ask myself the same question. Francis Chan answers it this way:

We all need to consider whether God is calling us to follow Him onto the mission field, but we have to remember that this is not the only way of working to fulfill God’s plan to reach every nation. If we decide that God wants us to remain in the area in which He has placed us for the time being, then we need to be using our resources to further the mission around the world. Even if we find our primary ministry in the people directly surrounding us, we need to be praying for our fellow workers in other parts of the world. (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p. 85)

In other words, “The question is not whether or not we will be working to spread the gospel around the world, but what role we will play in this” (Chan & Beuving, 2012, p. 86).

I would love to take a missions trip one day, but until that day comes I’ll continue to share the gospel through other means. For me, that means continuing to write this blog. I’ve delightfully discovered that many of my readers are from various places around the globe; from countries that can be found in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America. This excites me and motivates me to focus my writing solely on what God wants me to share. I also do my part by supporting a child through World Vision, and although my financial situation is a little sticky, I continue to give because I know that my gifts have a great impact on the life of my little friend and his community. And every time I see a Facebook post or Tweet about fellow believers suffering persecution or imprisonment for their faith, I send out a prayer for their protection and ask that God would envelop them with His love and peace; I also send out retweets and sign petitions for their release. But this is just how I reach the world.

In what ways do you attempt to reach the globe and share the message of Christ?

The Bridegroom

I finished up Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge tonight, and towards the end of the book the author reveals a dream (rather a nightmare) that she had one night, which can be applied towards every believer (male or female) and I thought it needed to be shared.

A radiant bride greeted her guests with a brilliant smile as she entered the reception hall after the wedding ceremony. She gracefully moved and milled about the room, the train of her stunning white gown flowing along the floor behind her, her veil cascading down her button-adorned back.

She conversed with each guest one by one, taking the time to mingle and soak up the compliments. “You look absolutely lovely.” “Your dress is divine.” “I’ve never seen a more beautiful bride.” “What a stunning ceremony.” The lavish praises rang on and on. The bride couldn’t be more proud or more appreciative of the crowd’s adoration. She could have listened to them swoon over her all evening. As a matter of fact, she did.

But where was the groom? All the attention focused on the bride and never once did she call anyone’s attention to her husband. She didn’t even notice his absence at her side. Scanning the room, I searched for him, wondering, “Where could he be?”

I finally found him, but not where I expected him to be. The groom stood alone over in the corner of the room with his head down. As he stared at his ring, twisting the gold band that had just been placed on his finger by his bride, tears trickled down his cheeks and onto his hands. That is when I noticed the nails scars. The groom was Jesus.

He waited, but the bride never once turned her face toward her groom. She never held His hand. She never introduced the guests to Him. She operated independently of Him.

I awoke from my dream with a sick feeling in my stomach. “Lord, is this how I made you feel when I as looking for love in all the wrong places?” I wept at the thought of hurting Him so deeply.

Unfortunately, this dream illustrates exactly what is happening between God and millions of His people. He betroths Himself to us, we take His name (as “Christians”), and then we go about our lives looking for love attention, and affection from every source under the sun except from the Son of God, the Lover of our souls.

Oh, how Jesus longs for His own to acknowledge Him, to introduce Him to our friends, to withdraw to be alone with Him, to cling to Him for our identity, to gaze longingly into His eyes, to love Him with all our heart and soul.

What about you? Do you have this kind of love relationship with Christ? Do you experience the inexplicable joy of intimacy with the One who loves you with a passion far deeper, far greater than anything you could find here on earth? I know from experience that you can.

Ethridge, S. (2003). Every Woman’s Battle: Discovering God’s Plan for Sexual and Emotional Fulfillment. Colorado Springs, CO: Waterbrook Press.