Monday, February 28, 2011

Let him be Daddy...

...sounds so simple, easy, and natural, right? I mean, you love a man, marry him, have kids, of COURSE you want him to be there for them as their daddy!! But I don't think it's always that easy for some of us.

We as moms are some of the most protective people in the world!! There's NOTHING we wouldn't do to protect our kids!!! I think that with a very few exceptions most moms in the world would willingly die - if necessary - to keep our children safe! That's kind of extreme, but that same care and protection carries over into the little, mundane, day-to-day areas of our kids' lives....are they bundled up enough to go out in the cold safely? Did they put something dangerous in their mouths? Are the older kids playing too roughly with them? On and on.

It's part
of our job as mothers to watch over our children and protect them in all these ways, but I think sometimes we take it too far...and an area we need to be especially careful in is protecting our kids from their daddies. I understand that some kids are in horrible
living situations and NEED to be protected from their fathers, but I'm talking about the little things. He's taking over're hovering near the door making sure he checked to make sure the water isn't too hot or cold, the soap isn't in the baby's eyes, he's not taking his eyes off the baby for a second, etc. He wants to spend some daddy/baby time keep checking to make sure the baby's dressed warmly enough, he's not letting the dog lick it's face, he's watching to make sure the baby isn't eating dirt or poisonous berries, etc. I think you get the idea.

The point is, I think we as moms tend to act like we have the monopoly on protecting our little ones, and that the dads need as much babysitting as the babies! They need to feel that THEY are also responsible for the safety and welfare of THEIR children! If they know that no matter what they do, you're going to be right there keeping an eye on them, they're going to feel like you don't trust them.

In my opinion, even worse than "hovering" is correcting. I know I've been guilty of this...not only do I keep asking questions to make sure everything is being done safely, I correct my husband if he's doing something "wrong" (translation - not necessarily "wrong," just not the way I would do it). If we're constantly giving dads the feeling that they're not good enou
gh to be trusted with their own children, or that we don't approve of their parenting methods, they will pull back defensively and just leave us to parent as we see fit...WITHOUT them. That's the LAST thing we want, right??!! I mean, we've already agreed that INVOLVED dads are the goal! But what if OUR attitudes or actions are what's keeping them from BEING involved (whether we mean it that way or not).

I think I'm pretty laid back as a mom, but I still catch myself either watching over things while Daniel & Kaleigh are together, or telling him what he's doing wrong with her. It's not that I don't trust him, it's just that I get used to things being done a certain way. I realized quite awhile ago that I tend to do this, so I've tried to loosen up and just ignore them when Daniel's taking care of Kaleigh. I KNOW that he knows what he's doing, I TRUST her with him COMPLETELY, so I've just decided to let him BE her daddy, even if he washes her hair differently than I do, or brings her home a little greasy and muddy from the farm, or lets her sip Mt. Dew once in awhile. When I catch myself about to say something to him, I stop and think, is this really worth it? Once in awhile there IS something important that I need to make him aware of, but I try to do it in a kind, informative way, so he doesn't feel like I don't trust him with his own daughter.

My mom and I actually talked about this before our daughters were born, and I really appreciated her sharing this thought with me early on. I think having this in the back of my mind has really been good for our family!! The longer we go, the less I even think about it when Daniel's in charge of Kaleigh. I understand that we're different people, so we're going to do things differently. However, I completely trust Daniel not to do anything that would jeopardize Kaleigh's safety or well-being, so I don't worry about the little differences in our parenting styles.

I'm really rambling on...I hope this is making sense to you! I guess what I'm trying to say is this: I LOVE watching my husband and my daughter together!!! I LOVE the way they love each other and want to spend time together. I don't want to do anything to damage the precious relationship they have, and I'm very thankful that I've backed off on things along the way that didn't really matter, but that could have hurt Daniel's confidence to just BE a daddy!! I know that not all of you are going to have a problem in this area, but it was just something I was thinking about and wanted to share. :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

i'm still alive....

...I apologize for the loooooong period of time this blog has gone without a new post!! I'm sure most of you already know this, but in case you hadn't heard, we're expecting our 2nd daughter in June!! Needless to say this new development in my life has left me with much less time and energy to put into blogging...I'm sorry, and I'm really hoping to get back to posting more regularly! Most of my posts here are a result of one of those "lightbulb" moments where all of a sudden something just clicks for me, and I understand a new truth or have a new insight that I just can't wait to share with you all! Hopefully my tired, foggy, pregnant brain won't hinder those amazing moments, and I'm praying for God to give me another one soon that I can share with you! Thanks for your patience and understanding. :) I hope this new year has been a good one for you all so far!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A Lesson From Job for Wives

This past week I attended my uncle's funeral. The pastor (who also happens to be my grandfather) at one point in during the service spoke briefly about Job, and all the challenges he faced..even having his best friends and his own wife turn against him after losing all his children, wealth, and his health.

I've heard the story of Job many, MANY times, so this was nothing new to me. However, one thing DID stand out to me...something I had never noticed before.

To recap the story briefly, Job's "crime" (or the reason that all these terrible things happened to him) was that he was righteous, loved and feared God, and lived his life in a way that was glorifying to God. Satan believed that he was only doing these things because God had blessed and protected him, and that if he were to lose all his wealth and possessions he would curse God and turn away from him. God knew Job's heart, so he gave Satan licence to do whatever he wanted to Job, even taking away his family and his health, as long as he spared Job's life. Satan didn't waste any time in hitting Job where it really hurt, in a single day wiping out all his flocks and herds and almost all his servants (except the few who escaped with
the bad news), and killing his beloved children. Then he covered Job with painful boils.

Now here's the part that really stood out to me this time!

"Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? Curse God, and die." Job 2:9

Now, in the very few restrictions God gave Satan, I don't remember reading anything prohibiting Satan from killing Job's wife...after all, he killed all 10 of his children! Therefore, the only conclusion I can come to is that Satan knew that Job's wife, instead of being one of his joys and blessings, would be a stumbling block and discouragement to Job as he struggled to trust God in the midst of his sorrows.

Wow. As wives, we are supposed to be our husband's greatest encouragement, blessing, supporter, listener, friend, confidant, and so much more. If Job's wife had been all these things, don't you think she would have been one of Satan's FIRST targets? Instead, he knew that instead of taking her too, she would do Job more harm and damage if he left her alive!!

I don't know about you, but I know I don't always give my husband the support and encouragement he needs and craves. I tend to be a cruel realist when he comes to me with his plans and dreams, and instead of trying to find ways to encourage him, I'm more likely to shoot down his ideas with all the ways they WON'T work. I've never encouraged him to "curse God
and die," but I don't always encourage him spiritually as much as I could or should.

This new year I want to work harder at being my husband's refuge, where he knows he'll be safe from unnecessary criticism, and where he can always find love, support, and encouragement, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I want to live in such a way that if Satan were to have the same chance with Daniel that he had with Job, I would be the FIRST one on his list of targets, not the one left behind as a tormentor!!!

If your husband were to honestly describe you as a wife, would he say you were better described by this verse:

"The contentions of a wife are a constant dripping." (Proverbs 19:13b, NASB)

or by this verse:

"Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the LORD." (Proverbs 18:22, KJV)

I think we would all agree on which one we would WANT to be described as. :) Let's all work extra hard this year to be the "good thing."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Slow to Anger

I think we've all been in these rather uncomfortable're in a store or business and a child is misbehaving. Suddenly, the parent loudly loses control of their emotions and blows up at the kid, yelling at them for misbehaving, threatening them if they don't instantly stop what they're doing, etc. Somehow, to me at least, no matter HOW terribly the kid was acting, my first thought is "oh that poor thing...what a horrible mom/dad!" I know there are lots of other circumstances that come into play which we, the casual observers, know nothing about, but still. We are the ADULTS!! We are supposed to be a good example to our children instead of giving up and screaming at them in anger.

I've always purposed to never be one of "those" parents whom you can hear all the way across the store yelling at their kids for whatever reason. Recently I had a chance to put it to the test...Kaleigh was playing with some toys in a kids' area while I shopped in a consignment store. When it was time to leave I helped her pick up the toys, and then picked her up to carry her out of the store. Her body instantly went rigid and she SCREAMED!!!! I plastered a smile on my face and scurried out trying to save face in front of the other people in the store. When I got to the car, she continued to scream and kick as I pleasantly strapped her into her car seat. When I finally got into my seat, I just sat there for a minute...and I realized that I hadn't gotten angry! I wasn't pleased with her behavior, and I was slightly embarrassed, but I wasn't angry at her. I somehow felt like I had won a victory over myself, even tho I DO need to do some work with Kaleigh about her little attitude!

While I was thinking about this subject, I did a search for verses containing "slow" and "anger." I came up with at least 6 verses in which God is described as being slow to anger...for example, read Nehemiah 9:16-17 - "(16) But they and our fathers dealt proudly, and hardened their necks, and hearkened not to thy commandments, (17) And refused to obey, neither were mindful of thy wonders that thou didst among them; but hardened their necks, and in their rebellion appointed a captain to return to their bondage: but thou art a God ready to pardon, gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and forsookest them not."

I don't know about you, but had I been in God's place (having spent over 40 years leading an ungrateful, whining, complaining, demanding, unfaithful, disobedient nation around the desert) I probably would have decided enough was enough and just blasted them all to bits!!! However, God in His great mercy is so patient and kind with ALL of us as we stumble, fall back into sin, demand things of Him, and lead ungrateful lives. "It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not." (Lamentations 3:22)

So from now on in my parenting, I am going to try to show patience, mercy, and kindness to Kaleigh and any other children the Lord may give us, in an attempt to reflect the loving way our Father deals with us. I know that children can be VERY disobedient, destructive, and frustrating (and I still believe that loving, Godly discipline should be administered as necessary!!), but we as parents need to temper our actions with love and grace. I really think that this applies to all people in all situations!! Just think what a better place this world would be if everyone stopped before they reacted in anger, and instead chose to be forgiving and gracious?! "A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." (Proverbs 15:1) I know that will never happen world-wide because the world is an imperfect and sinful place, but we as Christians should be doing our best to show the rest of the world the love of Christ, and I think our parenting is one place we could really make an impact!! If they see our children misbehaving and then they see us blow up in anger, how are we any different than every other unsaved parent?! Instead, we should be showing them a better way...God's way.

"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:" (I Peter 3:15)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A Proposal {Guest Post}

Ha, ha. That title got your attention, didn't it? Well, true, that is what the subject is about, but it may take a different path then you expected. I have been going through the Book of Ruth in a Bible Study with some women, and this week is focusing on the PROPOSAL between Boaz and Ruth.

As I had told my husband (of all times, when he was proposing to me), I felt just the only right way for a guy to ask a girl to be his wife is when he's on one knee. I realize that process isn't the most common thing people do now-a-days, and it often isn't practical providing the observers, location, etc., but it was always just my dream and how I imagined things going. In the study of Ruth this week, her proposal went uhm.... just the wrong way for me!

Let me quickly summarize how things went. Naomi (her mother-in-law from her deceased husband) instructed Ruth to do a list of things:

1) Wash

2) Anoint

3) Dress

4) Lie down

5) See where Boaz slept

6) Uncover his feet

7) Lie down

8) Follow the instructions her then gave

"Wash thyself therefore, and anoint thee, and put thy raiment upon thee, and get thee down to the floor (after he's done eating and drinking...) uncover his feet, and lay thee down..." Ruth 3:3-4

Now, as much as I love my husband, it is very hard for me (even at his request) to take his shoes/socks off after a long day at work and rub his feet. What Ruth did was (remembering Boaz had come from a long day of outside work), uncover his feet, and SLEEP NEXT TO THEM. (It is suggested in this devotional book that Ruth probably had a hard time sleeping because of the trepidation or excitement she had. For me it

would have been the smell.)

My personal thoughts laid aside for a minute, it was a process she was willing to take that showed her humility, something I am sorely in need of. It was a gesture availing herself and trusting him immensely, so they would both remain pure.

Before this event, she had shown her female relative (Naomi) love, respect and care. (She had been gathering wheat to make and sell bread to buy food for meals.) During this event, she was showing a distant male relative pure love and respect. The most distant relative I can think on personally at the moment, are my cousins.

Again, I mean nothing against them as well, but there is absolutely no way on earth that I could muster up enough humility to not only uncover my cousin's feet after a long day of work, but spend all the horrible hours in the night sleeping at his stinky, sweaty, disgusting feet. I have asked my husband to shower after ONE DAY of mowing the lawn for a few hours. I cannot fathom SLEEPING by the feet of my cousin who has gone who knows how many days/weeks without a bath.

This is a great lesson of pure humility and self-sacrifice. God says in Proverbs 22:4 that "By humility and the fear of the Lord are riches, and honour, and life." With just this scripture, and just this one biblical example, we are shown ways that humility is to be revered and longed for in our lives. Not to gain a husband, as in the story of Ruth, for he first noticed her meek and humble spirit of service, but humility as a means of service towards others.

-- I know of a few friends who don't respect Ruth, and aside from my thoughts on the issue, whatever you think or believe, please only focus on the humility I see in this example --

By the way, not skipping the topic, the book also shared how in that place and time, this action Ruth gave toward Boaz could be considered a honest-to-goodness marriage proposal.

This guest post was written by Sarah Tate - a young wife and mother. Sarah and her husband are the proud parents of a 1 year old son, and are expecting their second child in December.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Facebook Faceoff (article)

I recently read this article (ironically enough, on Facebook!) and thought it did a really good job of addressing an issue that is becoming HUGE in out society...I'm afraid I'm guilty of spending much more time on the interent doing various things everyday than I spend in prayer, reading my Bible, memorizing, etc. If you're also struggling with this problem, maybe this article will help to shed some light on the subject.

Facebook Faceoff
by Tim Sweetman

This Boundless article first appeared in March 2009.

I couldn't help but wonder what he was thinking as he pulled out his iPhone and took advantage of a new Facebook application — right in the middle of the sermon.

It was then that I realized the narcissistic machine that is Facebook.

Shifting uncomfortably in my chair, I found myself desiring to do the same. I shuddered. Have I really come to this place where I'm more concerned about what's taking place on Facebook than what's going on in this church service? More concerned about a self-serving social networking site than this Bible on my lap?

Later on that evening, I thought more about my internal battle between Facebook and my Bible. I understand that one of my desires as a Christian should be to know God more deeply; the reality is that I spend very little time actually getting to know Him. Too often, my hours are spent pursuing other human beings through convenient electronic means like Facebook. My life can quickly become all about striving to know my buddies better than my Lord.

I struggled with this very battle just yesterday. I woke up early to prepare for an 8:30 a.m. class. The two weeks prior I had spent each morning reading and studying my Bible. But on this day, the first places I went were my blog, Facebook and my e-mail. As the day progressed, I found myself talking to people more through technology than face-to-face. After a few weeks I was losing focus on my goals in life, and focusing on things like my status updates and friends online.

I sit down to finish my paper for class. But instead of opening Word, I open up Firefox, type in the Web address, and check Facebook. Then refresh the page. Then open Word. Then switch back to Gmail. Honestly, my technology can be exhausting.

The signs are everywhere. And I'm growing utterly disgusted with myself. What is wrong with me?

It's not my intention to write a 1,200-word article encouraging others to give up Facebook, social networking, or the Internet. I plan to continue updating my status with random trivialities such as "Tim is attempting to write ... Tim just ate bread with mold ... Tim is heading to the basketball game" and the like. I'm still going to post notes, write on walls, and chat with friends.

But if all of this continues at the expense of getting to know God better, I want to throw it all out. All of it. Drastic, yes, but I've got to be willing to do whatever it takes.

Control and Human Interest

I see two issues at play in the realm of social networking and technology. One is lack of self-control. I should be writing a paper, but I'm online; I should be reading God's Word, but I'm online. The other is a little harder to perceive. It's a notion that holds the words of mere humans as much more interesting to follow than God's Word; the lives of mere humans as much more fun to get to know than God Himself.

Essentially Facebook is just one more thing that has shown me how easily I can lose interest in God's Word, the Bible. The words of J.I Packer come to mind:

How long is it since you read right through the Bible? Do you spend as much time with the Bible each day as you do even with the newspaper? What fools some of us are! — and we remain fools all our lives, simply because we will not take the trouble to do what has to be done to receive the wisdom which is God's free gift. (Knowing God, pp. 101-102)

If I take the newspaper out and insert Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, e-mail andIM ... I likewise "remain a fool." Perhaps even a bigger fool who wastes not just 30 minutes, but hours upon hours a day pouring himself into an often self-serving and ultimately temporary tool.

What puts this whole issue into perspective for me is something I read by Donald Whitney:

Surely we only have to be realistic and honest with ourselves to know how regularly we need to turn to the Bible. How often do we face problems, temptations, and pressure? Every day! Then how often do we need instruction, guidance and greater encouragement? Every day! To catch all these felt needs up into an even greater issue, how often do we need to see God's face, hear his voice, feel his touch, know his power? The answer to all these questions is the same:every day! (Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, p. 33)

I check things like Facebook every day. But do I read my Bible every day? I have to respond with embarrassment and a sinking heart that too often I do not.

Do you realize that tape-recorded readings of the Bible have proven that you can read through the entire Book in seventy-one hours? The average person in the United States watches that much television in less than two weeks. In no more than fifteen minutes a day you can read through the Bible in less than a year's time. (Knowing God, p. 33)

Honestly, I don't think I understand the gravity of my distain of daily time with God. It's not an issue of salvation, of course, but I do think that it's essential to my spiritual health and growth. The thing is, I can spend hours upon hours on the internet browsing Facebook or messing with my electronic devices; I find it absolutely disgusting when this takes the place of God.

What is my true priority in life? I need a serious wake-up call.

How Essential Is It?

I've wondered how important reading the Bible daily really is. Is it just some capricious rule that the Church made up? Or does Scripture convey that we need to cherish God's Word by reading it daily?

The essence of impiety is the proud willfulness of "these wicked people, who refuse to listen to my words" (Jer 13:10). The mark of true humility and godliness, on the other hand, is that a person "trembles at my word" (Is 66:2). (Knowing God, p. 113)

Many times I'll fall into a rut of not taking the Word of God seriously. What does it take to pound it into my thick skull that, if I want to get to know God better (which I claim), I need to head straight to the words He's given me (which I often don't do).

Paul instructs Timothy:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through 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 competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16)

Scripture is not only profitable for me, but it's absolutely essential in order to be competent and to live my life well. Within those sacred pages I find everything that God has deemed necessary to tell me. There is so much depth and wisdom within those pages. Yet I somehow buy into the lie that the Bible is just boring and not worth my time. How would my life look if I poured myself into the pages of my Bible instead of pouring myself into the pages of Facebook? Radically different, I think.

I struggle with what to write for my status update; how often do I struggle with the great depths of God?

And I'm reminded of my friend checking up on Facebook during the sermon. I don't want to just single him out. I know I've been in the place where I've allowed the things of this world — and online community is too often a mere "thing of this world" — to form habits in my life that push all other things aside, including the attention that should be focused on God and His Word.

You know what? I think I'm finally ready to change that. Today. I think I'm finally ready to take some time away from the ultimately unsatisfying sterility of the Web, to examine the real needs of my heart, and to dive into the invigorating depths of the Word of God.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Be Faithful in the Little Things

Hello. My name is Rachel, and I am a procrastinator.

Whew. There. I said maybe I can start recovering! :)

Joking aside, I am a HORRIBLE procrastinator!! Those of you who know me probably know I can be very organized and neat...when I feel like it. I just don't usually feel like it! I'm not always a good housekeeper, I prefer to wash the laundry and then leave it in a huge mountain instead of folding it and putting it right away, and I'd much rather spend all day reading a book or keeping up with friends on Facebook than spend all day cleaning the house! My husband on the other hand, is the definition of a neat freak ("freak" being used in the best possible sense of the insult intended! :) ). I'm always embarrassed when he comes home at night and the dishes are piled high, the laundry is piled higher, and Kaleigh's toys and books are spread far and wide...but on those occasions, he comes home after a long day of working, grabs the broom and sweeps, picks up all the toys and clutter, and does it all so quietly and cheerfully it makes me feel like a horrible slob. (Don't get me wrong...I DO clean up sometimes, but it seems more often than not that he comes home and does a good chunk of it!) However, I've somehow convinced myself that keeping the whole house cleaned, laundry done, and Kaleigh fed and cared for is more than one little girl like me can handle!

Then last Wednesday night, Pastor had a really good sermon based on Luke 16:10 - "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much...." I've known that verse practically all of my life, but somehow when I heard it last week it really hit and convicted me in an entirely NEW way!!! I suddenly realized that my housework, laundry, etc. SEEMED so little and insignificant to me, and it wasn't a big deal in my book if it didn't always get done right away. However, to my husband (who describes his feelings when he walks into a cluttered room as "claustrophobic"!!), that stuff IS a big deal!!! I had been letting him down in one of the areas that was biggest to him, and dismissing it as little and unimportant. Wow. If I can't be faithful in little things like dishes, laundry, dusting, etc., then how do I expect to be faithful in the BIG things, like raising our daughter to be a God-honoring, diligent, faithful woman??!!

OUCH. So right then and there, I purposed, with GOD'S help, to LEARN to be faithful in that which is least, so that I will also learn to be faithful in that which is much. Thursday morning I got up and straightened, cleaned, de-cluttered, dusted, washed, scrubbed, and so on....Friday morning I got up, and purposed to KEEP it all that way. Every time I see something out of place, even if it's just a scrap of paper, I pick it up and deal with it. NO MORE PROCRASTINATING!!!! In my head I think that this is probably just a phase, and I'll wear out soon and let things slip back into the way things were, but in my HEART I'm crying out to God for his strength to give me victory in this area!! It's been nearly a week and my husband has been telling me I need to slow down on the laundry because his drawers are so full he can barely get them closed!!! =D YAY!!!!!! I know I can't do this on my own, but by God's grace I am focusing on just doing the next right thing every minute, and trying to be faithful in my little tasks.

I know the "little things" in your life may be completely different than mine! Maybe you're a student, and your "little thing" is studying or homework...purpose to do it right away, and to the best of your ability - not stopping for anything until it's done, and done WELL! Maybe you're a babysitter, and your "little thing" is taking care of someone else's children...purpose to put their needs FIRST, even if you feel like putting them down for a nap early so you can watch TV, or just giving them snacks all day instead of the effort of cooking them a healthful meal! Whatever your situation in life, we ALL have "little things" that seem small and insignificant to us, but those things are the training ground where we prepare and prove will you be ready for the BIG THINGS if you can't be trusted in the small ones?!

Purpose with me that by GOD'S GRACE you will locate the little things in you life, and you will conquer them!!!! Whether it's dishes, or math homework, or mowing the lawn, or reading a book to a child, BE FAITHFUL!!!

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;" - Colossians 3:23