In the past 11 years I have been pregnant 7 times.
That means I have been pregnant 66 months out of 132 months. A total of 5-1/2 years!
Of those 66 months, I have spent 28 of them hospitalized, bed-ridden or on the couch due to terrible first trimester sickness. 28 months, people. That is 2 years of my life!
Then of course, we must calculate the 6 week recovery time of physical healing, sleep deprivation, nursing, transition with the family, visitors and so on. 42 weeks, which equals a total of 6 months.
No wonder I can never get back to my "goal weight". As soon as I appraoch that magical number, I am announcing another child! It's a good thing I have a husband who finds me beautiful when I am wide with girth, otherwise we would have trouble! ;o)
I am not a cute little pregnant woman.
I do not look like I swallowed a beach ball.
Dennis and I have termed it "blowfish syndrome". I literally puff up from nose to toes - there is not a part of my anatomy that escapes this phenomenon. And the craziest part is, it all happens in the first four months! And then my belly begins to grow, thankfully, so there is evidence that there is a reason for my puffing.
But you know what? I would lay on a couch for 12 years if I had to. I would gain 60 pounds every pregnancy. I would wear elastic pants for life if necessary. Why?
My 6 precious sons are worth every trial, every inconvenience, every dent in my thighs. I would do it a hundred times over in order to experience the joy and the privilege of being their mom. I do not deserve them. I am not enough for them.
But I belong to a God who purposefully and specifically placed us together ~ weaknesses and all ~ and He has a Divine plan for us as mother and sons. Only He knows what the future holds but I am excited to be allowed a part in it and I cannot wait to see who they become, how the Lord uses us in one another's lives and how He will be glorifed through our relationships with one another.
5-1/2 years of pregnancy drama is a drop in the bucket compared to a lifetime of experiencing life WITH my children.
The boys have loved having Steven and CC here. We have not seen them for two years - they live in Malaysia - and we will not see them for at least another year, so we tried to make the most of our time together!
Steven took the older boys to the "make your own car" place at Downtown Disney. A perfect place for an uncle and his nephews to spend an afternoon. Micah and Luke got their first real remote control cars and Caleb got to choose a huge Lego set from the Lego Store. They were all in hog heaven and have enjoyed their treasures for days!
We will miss them when they leave ... there are always those few days of "let down" after being with people you love and then facing quiet and uneventful days after they are gone. But some good things happened and the Lord is going to use that for future growth and friendship between us and for that we are forever grateful!
Do you ever lose your temper ~ over something totally dumb?
If you are honest, even in the private areas of your heart, you will have answered "Yes! And please tell me I am not the only one!"
This is a subject I have not written about for a while but it came up on Super Bowl Sunday as a group of us were talking about motherhood. One woman asked if any of us ever struggled with anger or holding our tongue with our children and we all looked at her like she just asked if we were real humans.
"OF COURSE!" was our collective response. And then began about a 45 minute discussion on the topic.
I am not going to get into a long lecture about anger ... we all know it is sin. We all know it just feeds the fire rather than calming things down. We all know that most of the time there is no excuse or reason for the anger - it is our pride that is on the line so we react rather than respond. (a child says something wrong in public, they have a meltdown in front of the pastor's wife, he/she does not perform as we would like, they are annoying us, not obeying etc etc)
If each of us had a camera on us for a week and were forced to watch it at the end, I think we would all be surprised to see how often we have the Mom scowl on our face and how often we overreact to the simplest of things. Sometimes we are justified in our frustrations (children need to obey the first time, there are inexcusable actions, they must show respect etc) but it is when we shift from righteous anger to flat out rage that we fall into sin. And when we fall, they come tumbling down with us.
As always, the only place to turn for answers is Scripture. And WHOA! Does it have a lot to say about anger and the tongue. There is nothing I can say that will equal or top what God has to say, so let's take a look.
But first let me say,
You are NOT the only mom who loses it. You are NOT the only mom who shows moments of selfishness and just wants her way. You are not the only mom who needs to learn to respond in grace and gentleness. We are all there together. We all live in a house full of sinful and selfish people and each day is a choice to work together in harmony or try and get our own way. It takes constant attention, purposeful action and gentle but firm correction to train our mouths and our minds to respond in godliness rather than in sin.
Be encouraged! Nothing is too difficult for the Lord! He can overcome any weakness and create a home that is filled with laughter and smiles rather than scowls and grumpiness.
Soak in HIS words ... think on these things ...
A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Proverbs 16:23
Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools. Ecclesiastes 7:9
He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity. Proverbs 21:23
Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones. Proverbs 16:24
An angry man stirs up dissension, and a hot-tempered one commits many sins. Proverbs 29:22
A man of knowledgeuses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. Proverbs 17:27
Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:28
A fool's lips bring him strife and his mouth invites a beating. Proverbs 18:7
A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver. Proverbs 25:11
She speaks with wisdom and faithful instruction is on her tongue. Proverbs 31:26
But I tell you that men will have to give an account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. Matthew 12: 36
Though You probe my heart and examine me at night, though You test me, You will find nothing. I have resolved that my mouth will not sin. Psalm 17:3
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, o Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Before a word is on my tongue You know it completely, O Lord. Psalm 139:4
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth; keep watch over the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3
When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. Proverbs 10:19
Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. proverbs 12:18
He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. Proverbs 13:3
A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1
A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult. Proverbs 14:16
A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control. Proverbs 29:11 In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold. Ephesians 4:26,27
We will be married 17 years in July and he has been consistent every year. The man I dated is the man I live with now - though an even better version! We have walked through some difficult times. Some very difficult times. But you know, there is a real security in those hard moments when you know you have both committed to FOREVER. We agreed before we got married that the word "divorce" would never be used,nor would it be threatened. We are in this for the long haul - literally until death parts us. So fighting, trials, irritations and annoyances - though unpleasant - are totally safe. No matter how mad I make him, he will still be in bed with me that night. No mater how much he annoys me, I am still waiting for him when he comes home. We are secure. We are committed. And I am thankful.
Dennis' love language is words of affirmation. He feels secure and content in my love when I verbally tell him how important he is, how much I love him and how much I appreciate him. However, my love language is acts of service. I feel loved when people are thoughtful and act on their feelings for me. I do not need to hear that they love me, I need to see it lived out.
As you can imagine, because of our different needs, we have to be purposeful in our expressions of love because it is natural to love they way YOU need it, rather than the way the other person does.
I admit, this is a struggle for me. I can write anything - any emotion, no matter how deep or mushy. But saying it out loud, well, I feel like an idiot. Dennis knows this, and understands, but he still needs to hear why I love him, respect him and appreciate him. And just because it is awkward for me does not mean I am released from doing it. My husband needs to be loved by me in a way that touches his soul and feeds his spirit, regardless of my comfort.
So, today I am telling the world why I love him! True, it is still in writing, but Proverbs 31 says "she praises her husband in the gates" which means she publicly praised him and this was a good thing!
I love Dennis because he is ...
~ a child of God who pursues God ~ faithful ~ loyal ~ honest ~ intelligent ~ a real man ~ sensitive to the needs of others ~ supportive ~ a servant ~ a gentleman ~ a hard worker ~ a committed father ~ a faithful employee ~ genuine ~ fun ~ an attentive husband ~ affectionate ~ a good listener ~ appreciative ~ giving ~ MINE!
Thank you, Dennis, for loving me these many years, and actually loving me more than the day you asked me to be your wife. How young and silly we were then! And now the Lord has refined us, stretched us and matured us ... in pleasant ways and in painful ways. But the end result has been worth every moment because we stand together now more united than ever before. We can see how far He has brought us and we know how much further we can go.
I am proud and I am humbled to be your bride and I know how incredibly blessed I am that the Lord gave you to me. I do not deserve you! But I am so glad you believe I do.
Dennis and I do not celebrate Valentine's. We are allowed to say "I love you" every day of the year! But we do like to enjoy the day and use it to teach and discuss the only one true love - God's love for His people.
The boys have been admiring these gigantic fake jewels in one of our favorite plant stores for about a year now. I always say no when they ask to buy one because they have no purpose. And then one day, I decided to get them with the idea of using them to represent the treasure of heaven, salvation, and any other Biblical ties I could think of. They really are pretty!
I have had them hidden for about 5 months and when V day was approaching it seemed like the perfect opportunity to present them to the boys. I asked Dennis to come up with a treasure hunt and a spiritual correlation to the jewels and WOW! He went above and beyond my expectations.
Dennis talked about treasure - why is it valuable? Why do we seek it?
Jeremiah 29:13 ~ You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.
Then he gave them clues to find their way to the prize.
Your bedroom is a private place where you can seek the Lord and pray for wisdom before the day begins.
Matthew 6:33 ~ Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be given unto you.
God wants you to look for Him every day. When you seek Him, He will give you wisdom.
Matthew 7:7 ~ Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened unto you.
God desires for you to know His Word and apply it to your life.
Psalm 119:105 ~ "Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Jesus wants everybody to go to heaven, however, He is the only way to eternal life.
Matthew 7:14 ~ Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few will find it.
Jesus desires you to think about spiritual things.
Colossians 3:2 ~ Set your mind on thing above, not on earthly things.
Jesus has been seeking you your whole life. He offers salvation as a free gift. But it is not cheap - it cost Him His life.
John 3:16 ~ For God so loved Micah, Luke, Caleb, Josiah and Isaiah, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Like these precious gems, salvation is a gift.
Be humbled by it.
Be grateful for it.
Rejoice in it.
Share it with others.
After the treasure hunt, we sat down to a delicious dinner and ended our evening in a time of praise and worship.
Apparently my Motherhood post sparked some fires in some people while others just sent me an "Amen!"
I would like to make something very, very clear. (perhaps I need to have this at the top of every post! ;o))
Are you ready?
I do not know everything.
True, I write and speak with conviction, but they are MY convictions. I am not accountable to the Lord for anyone else but me. I stand before Him alone, vulnerable and naked. And I want to stand with my head up, my eyes locked on His ... not digging in the dirt with my toe while looking around for someone to rescue me.
When I write, I am giving my personal thoughts, wrestlings, convictions about a topic.
Unless it is 100% black and white in Scripture, (i.e, affairs, lying, blaspheming etc) it is between the believer and the Holy Spirit to work out his/her own faith with fear and trembling. Paul said, "Everything is permissible to me but not everything is profitable." There are things I will fight to the death on, with the sword of Scripture in hand, but many things I will simply say,"You know what, we need to go to the Lord with this and allow Him to work in our hearts accordingly. We do not have to agree."
Though I use Scripture to support most of what I think/believe/share, because my heart's desire is to be obedient to God's Word, I am not judging every single thing in life as a "sin issue". For example, going to the gym, having a housekeeper come in twice a month or highlighting your hair every 6 weeks - these are not Biblical issues! The "issue" of most things in life is the intent and motive of the heart. Period.
I know I am a strong person and when I share, I share with passion and conviction, which can lead people to believe that I think my way is the only way. But those who know me well (just ask Dennis!) know that I wrestle over a topic for days, weeks, months until the Lord settles the matter for me. Whether it is a Biblical issue or a relationship snag or parenting ... I am always seeking wise counsel, looking to the Word, praying through it and thinking, thinking, thinking. Many would be surprised to know where I stood on these very same issues several years ago - I have endured some tough rebukes in my lifetime with older and more mature women sitting me down with the Bible to challenge my thinking and call out sin. While painful, I was humbled and sharpened and would go through it all again. Because I was wrong.
Even as I approach the lovely age of 40, I see that I have a loooong way to go. The Lord has matured me and grown me and turned me from thinking and actions I would be embarrassed to admit. I soak in every word an older, godly woman has to share because I know she is giving me gems to hold onto for a lifetime - because she is still being refined herself and I am seeing the process firsthand.
All that to say - I love that you read my blog! I love that you sacrifice a few minutes of your precious time to hear my heart and see the Lord's dealings in my life. But please, please, please understand ~
I am a sinner just like you. I am never going to be holy this side of heaven. I am never going to have all the answers. I have to walk by faith each day. I seek forgiveness and grace continually. And I will fail you. I will disappoint you. I will annoy you. And that is okay. The only One who will ever fully satisfy is the Lord, and it is Him whom we need to keep our eyes upon - not the opinions and thoughts of others, including mine.
God's Word, through the inspired, inerrant, infallible Gospel is the only place where true wisdom will be found. Where truth is clear. Where true healing will take place. It is the only place we will never be disappointed. And it is the only place we will ever be fully accepted.
A good friend and I talked about my Motherhood post yesterday and in doing so, we realized that there are many "givens", but not everyone would see/know/understand those, so there is definitely a need for clarification.
We can get many things accomplished as moms, including things we need for ourselves - we just don't always need to leave or sacrifice the family to do it. *** Note - Anything involving your groom needs to be done by mutual agreement/discussion. He is the father of his children. Allowing him time alone with them or leaving the kids with him to get household tasks done does not constitute "babysitting". Most men are more than willing to spend an evening or date at the park with their children as they have not had time with them all week while they worked hard to provide for the family. And the kids think it is a treat! ;o) Plus, most of these are when the kids are sleeping so he is free to relax, watch football, workout, read a book etc. * Exercise. (Clearly a physically and emotionally healthy thing to do for our bodies)
~Put a treadmill/bike/elliptical machine in your house so you can exercise when the kids are napping, early in the morning, or when they are playing with Dad at night.
~ Pack up the kids in a stroller and go for a 3 mile walk.
~ Meet a girlfriend in the wee hours of the morning to workout before your groom leaves for work.
* Use nap time wisely.
~ M/W/F use those two precious hours for household chores that go quicker without little feet and hands following you and trying to "help". On Monday do the bathrooms, on Wednesdays wash the kitchen floor and vacuum, on Fridays dust and clean the windows. And a load of laundry can be completed during each of those sessions!
~ T/Th use those days for some quiet time. Read Scripture, snuggle up with your favorite book, take a bath, write notes to friends, take a nap!
* Get your haircut or your nails done.
~ Make your appointment for a Saturday afternoon when your groom is home relaxing and the kids are napping.
~ Have a special meal prepared for your groom and kids and plan a fun activity for them on a weeknight, and while they have a "date with dad" you can sneak out to get a new do!
* Shopping for personal items. (new clothes, make up etc.)
~ Pack a great lunch for your groom and kids and send them off to the park for exercise and play with dad. Then hop to the store of your choice for peaceful looking, trying on and purchasing of the things you need. You will all reconnect with happy, contented hearts!
~ Make a date with a friend you need to connect with at 7pm on a weeknight when your groom is home, the kids are in bed and you can shop together and have good conversation!
~ Sunday night the grocery stores are EMPTY. Take your list and go at 8pm while the kids are sleeping and your groom is preparing for the work week ahead. Your cupboards will be full and you will have everything you need for your meals for the week.
~ Choose one night of the week, to use as your errand night. Have your lists, your stops and go to it! It is amazing how much you can accomplish without pulling kids and strollers in and out of the car. Not to mention the swiftness with which you can maneuver through store isles without little hands reaching out for things or bodies running under racks! (Not that I have ever experienced this, of course. HA!)
It can be done! Planning and preparation are a must but once you get into the swing of things, it becomes second nature and you will find yourself inventing even more creative ways to make it appealing to everyone.
These are just a few ways Dennis and I have found to make our home run smoothly. Half the time I just end up bringing the kids with me so I can get it all done before he gets home, but there are times that a walk through the grocery store alone is the highlight of my evening! :o)
Meeting together with other women for a Bible study or accountability group is something that refreshes the soul, challenges our thinking, encourages us in the Lord and keeps us accountable. This can be a very precious time with other believers that the Lord uses to spur us on to love our husbands and children even more.
Scripture fully supports "encourage one another even more as the day approaches", "bear one another's burdens", "exhort and rebuke one another", "a cord of three strands is not easily broken", "pray for one another" . . .
We do need to choose wisely. We do not need to do everything that is offered at the church, be a member of every club that fits our season in life, make every park day event. Pray and seek the Lord's wisdom to know where you need to be this year. Choose one study and give yourself fully to that study. The rewards of investing completely in one thing far outweighs dabbling in six.
* The WORD.
There are women who live in remote areas, have no car when their husband is at work, and are home 24 hours a day all week with their children with no outlet. And yet they are content and fulfilled. Why?
Because they find their solace, their encouragement and their contentment IN THE LORD. They seek the only true source for filling us up and making us able to accomplish the daily tasks before us with joy and thankfulness. He fills them up for mundane, thankless jobs and He fills them up with affection for their husbands and enthusiasm for their children.
He is all we needbecause He gives us all we needto accomplish what He has called us to do.
I have had some really good and insightful conversation with a few different groups of women recently on this topic.
Are we entitled to have free time to get to do what we want to do? Do we deserve a time each day to go to the gym? Get our nails done? Go shopping alone? Meet a friend for coffee? Do we need to hire someone else to clean our house and watch our children because "we need a break"?
I think some of us would be really surprised to find out that while we would check the "No" box on a survey for the question, "Are you a feminist?" the truth is, we have a very fuzzy picture of what Biblical womanhood and motherhood really is. Especially my generation and the ones behind me. We have only known what we saw in our mothers and even we can see a stark contrast between them and our grandmothers.
Let's look backwards for a moment. Our grandmothers/great grandmothers/great great grandmothers lives looked very different than ours. This is what they did (in part I am sure) ...
~ cooking every meal from scratch and at most, had only an oven to do it with
~ washed every dish by hand, after every meal
~ washed clothes by hand and hung them out to dry
~ ironed every piece of clothing by hand
~ washed dirty diapers to be used again
~ grew their own fruits and vegetables and spices, and therefore had to tend the garden
~ walked to a neighbors house or into town or church to have a conversation with someone
~ educated their children at home, or at best, sent them to a one room schoolhouse if they could be spared
~ scrubbed the floors on hands and knees
~ nursed every child and made all of their food
~ lived in a one, possibly two-room home with virtually no privacy
~ had to heat water for washing/bathing
~ had to walk to the outhouse for themselves and potty training children countless times per day
~ owned only a few dresses, a few for home and few for going out
~ made all of the family's clothing by hand
~ helped their men with the livestock, land or whatever else he did for a living
I am guessing (and pretty confident based on biographies and journals from women of that time) that these women did not sit around going, "Gosh, I just never get time for ME. I just need a date night with my husband. I really need to work off these last 15 pregnancy pounds. I never get to meet Liza for tea at OK Corral anymore. I wish my husband would let me redecorate the living room. I wish I could go shopping at the 5 and Dime and just wander through the fabric bolts. When am I ever going to get time for ME??"
I am sure they got tired. I am sure they enjoyed a wedding or tea because it was a chance to dress up and do something different. I am sure a woman invented running water in her mind, long before a man ever patented it, as she stood pumping her arm numb at the well. But life was full because every minute had a purpose. Yes, most of it was due to lack of modern conveniences and yes, they had shorter life spans blah blah blah. The point is, their days were full. They were running their homes, meeting the needs of their husbands, training and caring for their children and ministering to their neighbors.
Fast forward 100 years and what do you see?
~ women trying to juggle raising a family and pursuing their own careers
~ fast food or microwaved food for meals
~ dry cleaners who do all the ironing and mending
~ housekeepers to scrub the toilets and do the laundry
~ daycare and nannies and "Mommy's helper's" to care for the children
~ disposable diapers, formula, and pre-made baby food
~ a closet full of clothes
~ large homes that are not necessary or utilized
~ cell phones and computers to communicate about everything and nothing
The benefit of modern technology? It allows for extra "time". Rather then spending an entire day doing laundry by hand, we can get 4 loads done while accomplishing something else between cycles. We are more efficient, no question.
The downside of technology? The extra "time" created by efficient machines is rarely used for things that matter. And even worse, it can create a sense of purposeLESSness. Because our hands have nothing to do, we have to fill our time, and let's face it, we usually fill the time with superfluous activities. If all of the extra time created by modern conveniences caused women/mothers to pack up their children and go serve others, that would be admirable. But what do we really do? Shop. Watch TV. Gossip with a friend. Look around and see what is wrong with our house or our husbands. Wonder what our purpose is. Why don't my friends call me? If only I could .... I would be happy.
Susanna Wesley, mother of 19, including John Wesley (18th century), had only one source of privacy ... her apron. When she needed a moment to regroup or talk to the Lord or calm herself down or bite her tongue, she would put her apron over her head. And ALL of her children knew that Mama was not to be disturbed. That was her private time. Her alone time.
Can you imagine? For all of the whining we do about our needs being unmet and needing to "get away", here is a woman who covered her head with an apron in the middle of her kitchen, in the middle of her litter of children and took her troubles to the Lord so HE could refresh her. So HE could sustain her. So HE could give her the strength to keep moving through the day.
Please hear me - I fully believe that we need an occasional break. A quiet meal with a friend, a grocery trip alone, an hour long bubble bath in a locked bathroom with a good book. These moments can refresh us and allow us to come back to the family in a contended and joy-filled state so we are able to honor the Lord as we serve and minister to them.
God created rest. He commands us to take one day to rest. He knew we would need it.
But as mothers, we have chosen to give up self for these little people. The day will come when the washing machine will not run daily, the dishwasher will take 3 days to fill and we will only need one quart of milk for the week. We will have unlimited time to go to the gym, chat with the nail lady at the salon, shop for that perfect outfit and meet friends for our weekly tea time.
But that time is not now.
We were entrusted with little people who NEED us. They are completely dependent on us in every possible way. And we are accountable for every thing that influences their minds, their hearts and their souls. It is not a simple task. It is not an easy task, nor a restful one. But praise God, we have the perfect formula to face each day, to be prepared for whatever comes, because of God's promise:
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9
May we seek His grace each day as we open our eyes and see those little faces peering at us with great expectancy. May we look PAST the daily mundane tasks that fill up our time and see the eternal picture ... boys and girls who grow to be men and women with a solid, Biblical worldview and a heart for God so that they change the world for Jesus Christ.
We are not raising them for us. We are raising them for eternity.
A friend from church snapped this photo of Josiah as he was running out of Sunday School ... wouldn't it be great if this was how EVERY Christian looked after being in the presence of the Lord and other believers?
I was scheduled to attend the Mary Poppins Broadway show in LA on Sunday night but had to give up my ticket. :o) All of the ladies still met at my house to get their tickets, carpool together and say hello. One of them, Lauren H, handed me a plate and said, "Spoonful of sugar cookies for your boys." I didn't think about the correlation until I lifted the lid and squealed in delight. She actually made spoons with sugar in them!! I took them outside to show the other ladies who also shared their awe and delight and praised Lauren for her creativity and skill. I am so glad God gifted people with such creativity ~ it would never have crossed my mind.
I shared a while back about the amazing generosity of our community at church as well as friends and family during my time of pregnancy woes. Someone brought us some more meals to freeze on Friday, and after reorganizing I realized that we can not fit one more thing in the freezer - literally! And this is our SECOND freezer - the main one is full too! A few items are frozen meats but most of the blessings are already made meals that I just have to pop in the oven. FABULOUS! I am still shaking my head in amazement at how much the Lord blessed us through this time.
Wrestling time with Dad! Well, I should say, the boys do everything in their power to take Dennis down, and are never successful. Whether he stands or sits, he is never conquered by these 4 boys and their arms and legs of passionate attempts to be the victors. This time is filled with loud sounds, screaming, giggling from intense tickling, more screaming, and inevitably, someone crying from an injury. Good times! Good times!