Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Where is this going?

I started with the change for very different reasons than where we headed this week. I wanted to go to a more theological view to express where I was at spiritually and what I was dealing with in my walk. I thought I would or could find spiritual peace as I put it all out in journal form. On my first entry on Sunday I did just what I wished for by talking about my reflections on the sermon and dealing with my own weakness in the faith. In response to a couple of comments, I decided to go somewhere different and explain things in a different way. Where today went with comments and such is not where I intended for this road to go. I am here for spiritual peace. I love deep discussion but in no way want to cause any division amongst the children of God. Luckily, my biggest "debater" this week is a great friend and understands my method of "speech."

Even as early as last night when I received a very sarcastic and derogatory comment by an Anonymous sender, I questioned my decision to make this change. However, I can find peace in this in some way. I have very thoughtful commenters of varying doctrinal beliefs. I have friends that find peace in what I write by knowing they are not alone. So, I will carry on. But, I feel I must write a disclaimer.

These are my views as I feel the Spirit has revealed them to me through His Word. I am not a violent religious extremist although I do believe there is only one God and one Truth. I do not participate and/or encourage any type of violence. I believe in religious liberty with my whole heart because I realize one day my freedom may be taken away. I am open to dialogue with differing opinions and faith. I will post all comments unless they are offensive or threatening. I am not easily offended so if you do not find your comment, you were probably out of line.

May this pilgrim's progress continue...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What Is Love?

When I thought about this post, I couldn’t help but imagine Night at the Roxbury. You know, “what is love, baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more.” Sorry, that has nothing to do with the post, I just can’t get it out of my head.

Anyways, this post was prompted by some responses on my Righteous Judgment entry. Throughout the past few years, I have heard it said a lot. “Judge not, lest ye be judged” and “love your neighbor as yourself.” All of this is scriptural and can be found in Matthew 7:1 and Matthew 22:39. I do not deny what the scripture states. I do, however, believe these scriptures have been misunderstood.

For example, if you continue on in Matthew chapter 7, you will see that once you remove the plank from your own eye, you will see more clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. It never states the speck should not be removed but that we should see clearly ourselves before addressing the issue at hand. Too often scripture is misread to mean we should never judge and as I said in my last post, there is a righteous judgment.

Usually in response to words such as these, we get hit with the “love your neighbor as yourself.” I guess my question is this, what exactly does love mean? Most people believe we should “agree to disagree” when it comes to issues of doctrine. Jesus is portrayed as a peace-loving hippy. Does this image contradict what Jesus said in Matthew 10:34-36 when He said, “Do not think I came to bring peace on earth, I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.” Is this the same Jesus that threw up tables in the synagogue with His wrath and spoke “woe to the Pharisees and scribes,” calling them hypocrites and fools? Would Jesus’ actions be considered loving today?
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.
And in vain they worship me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.” Matthew 7:8-9

Loving on today’s terms means letting your neighbor believe what he/she chooses and accepting there is no definitive truth. If your neighbor is walking into death, do you love them by warning them of the danger or do you let them go their own way to not offend them?

As a loving sister in Christ, I believe that it is important for the body of Christ to be unified. I believe if I see a brother or sister wavering or going down a road that does not seem to be The Way, it is loving if I use God’s Word to speak to them. I, too, will accept this discussion if I am the one that appears to be on the wrong path. Jesus tells us “many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.” In a culture where Christianity is easy, I believe it is pertinent that we test all things against scripture. There is only One Truth and until we find it we should be ever seeking. I understand that all people believe their way is lead by the Holy Spirit, but we should always test it against scripture. There are deceiving spirits and how do we know we have not been taken captive?

I have prayed continuously that if I am being blinded that God will allow me to see. It’s not a matter of being right or wrong, it’s a matter of ensuring we are serving the One True God. By becoming complacent with the god we believe in, we just may be serving an idol in our head instead of the God of the Bible. Will it be the complacent that in the end the Lord will declare to, “I never new you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.” In His name, these same folks prophesied, cast out demons, and did many wonders. (Matthew 7:22-23)

If we believe someone is following a false doctrine, it is not loving to let them be led astray. “Beware of false prophets who come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.” Jesus spoke these words and on more than this one occasion warned us of the dangers. Paul was dedicated to warning fellow believers about false doctrines and to not be carried away as children “tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men…” (Ephesians 4:14)

Paul told Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears they will heap up for themselves teachers and they will turn their ears away from truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

I just cannot grasp how we love our neighbor by turning our backs when the wolves may be carrying them away. And I’m saying this to you, too. If you think I am being led astray, then get your Bible out and show me who God is; because that is the most important thing, to serve the One True God. I can have faith in anything, but if I don’t have faith in the true God, I have nothing.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Righteous Judgment

As I decided to trek out on this spiritual journey through my blog, I was left in limbo as to where and how I would start. I think about God and His Word a lot. It’s the topic of conversation on most days between my husband and me, as well as my closest friends and me. But when it’s coming down to sharing this out here, I’m not sure where to start. There is so much to say as to where I have been already, how do I jump out here without first showing you the pieces that came first? I wanted to tell you our story and how we arrived at where we are at spiritually, but that seems too long. I wanted to make a statement of faith, but then I felt like I would need to tell you our story…so again…too long.

So as I sat under conviction during this morning’s message, I thought what a fine place to start. The sermon was about self-control, sinful anger, and righteous anger. Many people are quick to say we should not judge. There is even scripture to support it. However, there is also scripture to support righteous judgment. Now have you, this form of judgment is rarely used, but it’s still true to the Word.

For example, we are warned time and time again in the epistles to beware of false prophets. Without judgment how would we know what is false? We are warned to discern spirits and to not be deceived. Again, we must make judgment. Anything that is contrary to the Word of God is up for judgment. (John 7:24, I Corinthians 5 and 6.)

I was just speaking to my husband this week about a “thorn in my flesh,” if you will. Because of our beliefs we have been cast out and isolated from many of our friends and family members. They’re nice enough but there is an awkwardness that is frequently sensed. I am not much for small talk. Usually if I want to talk, it is about much deeper issues than the pair of jeans I bought last week or the cars we drive or the homes we live in. But when you take the walk out into the “Christian world”, people don’t really want to talk about God or scripture. I find most people to be complacent with the god they know and don’t really care to search scripture for the One True God. If God is someone contrary to the idol in their mind, they don’t want to know what scripture says. So, we arrive at my thorn.

When the pastor mentioned this morning about righteous anger, I thought of the scripture “be angry and sin not.” I am angry most days because of the superficial religion of Christianity and that people can so effortlessly call them selves Christians yet not know one thing about the God they say they serve. I am angry because we are outcast yet not one person that casts us out can tell you what we believe. And if they have an idea, they cannot use scripture to explain to us why we are so wrong. I get bitter about other persons’ self-righteousness and how they neglect to see their own sin. Sin is so common they cannot see it as sin. A pastor I listen to on occasion made a statement and this is not verbatim but was something like this, “we look like the world, we act like the world, and we sound like the world but do not know it because we do not know the Word of God.” This resonated with me so much, not only for myself, but also for those around me. This is what I see as righteous judgment. I’m angry because these people who call themselves Christian are sinning against God and cannot see their sin. They are serving a false god and call themselves Christian. The superficial religion makes me angry.

And then I start to think, am I angry because they are sinning against God or am I angry that they are casting us out? If this is the case, my motivation is wrong. My righteous anger is no longer righteous but sinful. When I really meditate on this question, I must say it is a little bit of both. I so desperately want them to see God the way I see God. I want them to see their sin the way I see my sin. I want them to see our need for Christ and our depravity as humans. Then and only then do we see His glorious sacrifice. Then and only then do we truly believe in God. This is true belief; when we see ourselves as rotten, filthy rags and see that we have no righteousness in us and the only hope we have is in the work He did on the cross. I want them to see they are not good people just like I am not a good person. (Romans 3:10-11…well, the whole book of Romans.)

And at the same time all of that emotion is going on, I am bitter and I am mad. Why won’t they just listen to us? Why won’t they just talk to us? Why won’t they just discuss this with us? Notice all those “us”es? Where is God in that? We’re no longer pointing at God for glory, we’re pointing at us. We contradict what we believe by saying why won’t they listen. We say we believe the Spirit does this work; yet, we try to force them to see. And we can’t. Only God can make them see. (John 6:44-66)

I do praise God for my friends with different doctrinal beliefs that can discuss these things with me. I see in them the same drive to know God. I see in them the same conviction over sin and the true sense they know why they need Christ. The only difference between us is I say Christ 100%, and they say Christ 99.9%, us .1%, right? (Saying this with a grin because I know who is going to get that.)

I pray to God for understanding and for righteous anger. I pray that my sinful anger can be controlled and that I seek God’s glory in all things.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A Blackberry Saved My Marriage

You read it right; a blackberry saved my marriage. Well, sort of. It has been three years this month since aliens babies took over my body and I haven’t had it back since. December 2006 I found out I was pregnant with Ms. Lil. When she was 10 months old I could see the end of nursing and the reclaiming of my body as my own. No such luck. Two more months of nursing and nine more months of pregnancy is what I faced. My body would not be mine…not just yet.

Now that we have reached the light at the end of the tunnel, Nate and I can look back and see what a chaotic road are marriage has taken for the past year. We reached points I never thought fathomable and today, I still cannot believe we were there. There were days when I just wanted to quit. There were days when I said, “I quit.” There were days we both were not sure if we would make it to the day our little boy was born, much less forever.

As the pregnancy surged on so did my hormones. I could see into the pregnancy that I would probably be at risk for postpartum depression. I was angry. As he dealt with my hormonal issues, Nate became more and more distant. The person I once could relate to became a mere body living in our home. He, too, went into a depression over the arrival of our new little one. His main focus was his daughter. His life revolved around her and he didn’t want someone else disrupting it. More than once I told him, “You know your going to have to love him, too.”

And sure enough, when the little man came, so did the depression. Looking back, I’m not sure if the depression was caused by exhaustion or if exhaustion caused the depression. Either way it was a hard, hard road. Not only was this road hard for us, but also we had to virtually face it alone. We knew we had to pick up the pieces because the thought of hurting the stability that little girl had crushed us.

We both went terribly wrong when “she” came before “us.” And then it was “they” came before “us.” We realized we were going to have to pull it together and something had to change. The first step was for me to get myself out of the funk. I needed more rest and some time for myself. Little man couldn’t quite figure out how to sleep so three or four times a night, I was up with him and up all day with her. Luckily for me, Nate stepped up and took JJ at night even when he had to work the next day. The marital bed had been split and so the two of them camped out in the family room. With him losing sleep and the state of our marriage, he too began to fall into a gloom. With all of this on our back, there were days, I lost it. I really lost it. If you are a woman who has dealt with postpartum depression, you know what I mean when I say, “I lost it.”

And then the blackberry came. Understand, when we decided for me to stay home, we made certain sacrifices and one of those was no Internet. With nearly all of my friends spread all over this little country I found very little time to communicate with them and when I said good-bye to my computer, I said good-bye to most of my friends. Not only that but my family is three hours away and his is over an hour away. (When I said we were at alone, I meant we were at it alone.) So, we decided to get back on board with the rest of the world and made some adjustments to make it possible. Nate bought me my very own shiny Storm. With this little contraption, I began to find myself again. I ventured out and reconnected with some long lost friends. Finding Michelle... swung into action and I finally had a way to let it all out. And not only did I reconnect with old friends, I found some new ones along the way.

As I nested myself back in with the rest of the world, my depression melted away. I found energy. My anger and resentment towards my husband was gone. Nate saw me happy again and that made him happy. We began to talk to each other instead of at each other. We began to realize we needed to be a priority, not only as individuals but also as partners in life. As that depression melted away, it was easier to step out the door. (Not easy with two babies in tow, just easier than the past few months!)

We use to always say we thought we loved each other more than other couples do. For several months and almost a year we couldn’t say that. I am so happy to say, we are there again and probably stronger.

As we were talking the other night, Nate said it may be a “mirage” but he thought we were doing pretty well. And then he said, “Thank God for Blackberry.”

I know I’m supposed to be getting into some theological stuff…but we laughed when he said this the other night and just knew I had to blog about it!

Note: That little man that wreaked so much havoc on our lives is such a blessing to not only both of us but everyone he is around. His smile can light up a room. He is truly a gift from God.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Losing Michelle...

Can you say epiphany?! All great thoughts…happen in the shower. For all my bloggy pals and blog readers, I think about you all a lot. I think about what you’ve said and what I’ll say and what she said he said. Just ask my husband. He gets to hear about it.

So, I was in the shower today taking my sweet and merry time. JJ was in his swing hopefully going to sleep and Lily was in her bed hopefully continuing to sleep. If they weren’t sleeping, who cares! I’m in the shower! And we all know how I feel about showers, right?

Shall we go back to the thinking? I was thinking about some recent folks I have encountered (in real life as well as the blogosphere), blogs I have read, and goals Nate and I have for our family. For several weeks now, I have had the urge or felt the push to go towards a more theological approach to my blog. I just was not sure how or if it was too deep. I have readers from very different perspectives. There are Christians, believers, atheists, and even a pagan or two. (Yes, I term Christians and believers as two different things sometimes…more on that another day!) When I first started blogging, I did not follow many Christian blogs, or at least blogs that blogged about being a Christian. Through Tony C, I found Abundantly Living and Fire and Grace. And through Abundantly Living I found Psalm 104:24. I really enjoyed reading their blogs. They were really thought provoking and I wanted more. So, I journeyed out on a blog hop and found some other great blogs I mentioned a few days ago.

Anyhow. As I was showering, I thought to myself, “Where should Finding Michelle… go?” Wait a minute… let me take a detour.

If you recall, Tony C is whom I turned to when I decided to start a blog. (Read about that here. It's kind of funny!) And once again, his words echo in my head, “Your name is important. Take your time and think about it.” Well, geez, Tony! I don’t take my time for anything. If I get it in my head it’s done within a few hours if not minutes. Just ask Nate. He’ll tell you a story about how one day he was pressure washing the back deck, and when he turned around I had over half the rails knocked off. What can I say I wanted new deck railings! And then there is the time he came home and most of the carpet in the house had been ripped up and thrown out. Like I said, I’m not much of a time taker. Anyways, Finding Michelle…was fine for what I was going for. And still is…but back on track.

As I was showering, I thought to myself, “Where should Finding Michelle… go?” And then it all hit me. The purpose of this blog was to find myself outside motherhood. It was to be an outlet and a tracking of my journey to reclaim my identity. And in my head all I could hear was “deny self, deny self, deny self.” And then it all came together for me. Did God use motherhood as away for me to die and for Christ to live in me? When I became a mother, most if not all of my worldly affections were put aside. I let go of my image. And for a woman, her image cracks up to a lot of other worldly affections whether it be exercising, shopping, and/or other hobbies.

So here I am trying to find Michelle when I really need to be losing her.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Husband Left Friday

I can honestly say I knew what I had before it was gone. Did that make sense? What I’m trying to say is the opposite of “you never know what you had until it’s gone.” I’m talking about dear ol’ Nate, my bubby, my Nay-Nay. This has been one LONG weekend without him. I’ve had a great opportunity to reflect on all the reasons I love him being around.

Before this weekend, I knew all of this. And before this weekend, I have tried my best to never take it for granted. My Nay-Nay is a rare catch and I’m so happy to call him my own.

It all started Friday. We had plans to go to his mom and dad’s for dinner with the babies. At 1:00PM it started to snow, but no big deal, plans were still on. By 3:30PM, plans were off. At 5:15PM, he called to say he was not coming home and I knew what that meant. He works for the local electric company and when the weather gets yucky, they are there to make sure folks are getting their power back on. And when it snows, that means it could take days. On Friday, I knew it might be Monday before I saw him again…and it almost is just that. He got to come home Saturday morning for a quick nap and was back to work at 2PM, home at midnight, back out by 7A, and still not home. Luckily, he works in the office. The guys actually working out in the field don’t go home at all until the power is back on. Enough of that…the blog is about him not his work!

I “aggravated-ly” missed him Friday when I had to rush to get the kids fed, the dog in out of the snow, the dog cage cleaned out, and the kids ready for bed all alone. (Thankfully, my neighbor came to hang with the kids while I got the dog and all his “stuff.”) I missed him with my heart Saturday evening when I was cutting up their spaghetti. It was an “awww…” moment.

You see, he is so my partner when it comes to the kids. When he comes home I have dinner ready. He helps fix the plates and get everyone at the table. (And he always cuts up the spaghetti for them just right.) After dinner, he plays with the kids while I clean up. And when I nurse and put JJ to bed, my Nay-Nay is there to hang with Lily. Then, while I clean up toys in the family room, he gives her a bath and puts her to bed. Not to mention all the things he fetches for me and catches for me while I run my evening routine. On the weekends, which this was, he also cooks breakfast and lets me chill with the babies; something I never do during the week because of my morning routine. If we don’t go out, he also will cook lunch or dinner AND clean most of the mess.

Needless to say, some things got left behind this weekend. My normal cleaning routine was a little skewed because if I did all I normally do, a two-year old and an 8 month old might as well have taken care of themselves! Cleaning the kitchen took longer because my Brutus thinks he has to climb on everything. As a result, in between the cleaning of each dish I was fetching a screaming baby from wherever he just fell from. I swear, the bruises on either side of his head are making way for his horns. I am so lucky that my two year old is completely self-entertaining and calm. She would quietly play while I got the baby ready for bed every night. She got stuck with Mommy for bath and bedtime. We would say our prayers for the lineman out working and all the people without power. Tonight, I had to make up a song about Jesus and Daddy helping people that were cold. How funny!

Once she was in bed each night, it came to the time that is supposed to be ours, but he wasn’t here. It was lonely both day and night. Even when he works during the week, we still eat lunch together every day and talk on the phone several times. There was none of that. My companion was gone and I was lonely. At night when he is home, mostly the TV is on and I’m on the computer, but we’re still there together. We talk about TV, blogs, God, family, what irks us, and the small things that made us happy that day. We talk about our relationship and the kids and what we need to work on to be godlier as a family.

And that’s what I’ve missed the most, our talks. We talk about everything. He listens to my jabber even when he has nothing to say. He listens about my day and what so and so said and what so and so wrote in a blog and what happened at gymnastics and what I read that day. He listens because he knows how important it is for me to get it all out of my head.

And to drive the point home, today he told me, “I’m surrounded by all these people here, but I feel so lonely because I’m not with you all.”

And in 45 minutes, he’ll be home. Thank you, God. I’ve really missed him.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Blog Hopping

I have found myself with a lot of time on my hands this weekend. My dear husband has been working hard to get the power back on for thousands around the county due to the snowstorm this weekend. I really miss him and want him home. But, there is a lot more people out there that need him more than I do right now. So, I have decided to do a little blog hopping.

Last night I spent some time digging in some blogs I already follow. So, if you track your hits and some old posts are getting hit…it’s me!

For some reason, I lost my blog feed (or whatever it’s called) for The Suburban Jungle for the past couple of months. I’ve been spending a little time over there for she has a wealth of information. Angela can seriously by $100 worth of groceries for like two bucks! Wow. She has info on eating healthy, saving money, fitness, and the list goes on. Stop by and browse around. You won’t be disappointed.

For my more serious side, I’ve been hanging out at Tony C Today and Fire and Grace. I don’t necessarily have the same views as these guys; but, I like the way David is so blunt and to the point. And since I knew the C-Man back in the day, his humor cracks me up. I think it’s because I can totally envision his mannerisms and facial expressions when he’s telling a story. We were great friends back in the day and I am so happy that we’ve reconnected through the blogosphere and Facebook.

A couple new blogs I’ve been following lately are Raising Olives and Raising Arrows. They, too, have a lot of great information, especially if you are interested in homeschooling. Their stories are wonderful stories of faith in God. I’ve spent a bit of time at Raising Arrows and have truly been moved by their strength. She has left me in tears over and over. What amazing honesty and faith!

I’ve decided to spend tonight blog hopping. And this is what I’ve found…

I decided to join the Christian Group on Mom Bloggers Club. I just glanced around for something interesting and found a discussion on “Authentic Christianity ‘where is it?’” Well, right up my alley. I follow to the person that started and was so convicted by this post HERE! So, go over and visit Suzanne and Christina, you’ll be blessed.

I also found and enjoyed:

A Dancing Barefoot Christmas

Journey of Grace

Mom’s the Word

And now I’m sleepy and out of Sweet Sixteen donuts.

I went through A LOT OF BLOGS!!! More than those few I just mentioned… I just picked out the one’s that really caught my eye.

Good. Night.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Dig A Little Deeper

Lily's first trip to the movies turned out to be an awesome time. I am pretty sure she cared more about the popcorn than the movie. The Princess and the Frog was an awesome movie about understanding what we need over what we want... a lesson we could all take in this day and age. I wanted to share one of my favorite parts of the movie. We had the joy of having two bus loads of seven and eight year olds to share the movie theater with. When this song came on I couldn't help but smile as the kids started clapping in beat. What a good experience for my little Lil.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reflections on Parenting, Part 3

“My immediate concern has to do with the fact that nearly two generations of children have been raised according to psychobabble. They call themselves things like Generation X. I call them Generation E, for entitlement. They cannot distinguish between what they want and what they truly need, so they consume indiscriminately, everything from food to entertainment. They have little tolerance for frustration or ability to delay gratification, so they lack frugality. What they want, they think they deserve to have. They believe they deserve problem-free marriages, so they will not be married long if at all, assuming the institution even survives the deconstructionist onslaught. They believe obligation is a one-way street that flows in their direction, so they will not be good neighbors, employees, or citizens. My description does not apply to every single child of the entitlement generation, but it applies to too many. More than anything I am concerned that few among today’s young people will sacrifice for any good greater than themselves, and not for long at that. I am concerned that they will grow up and look to government to provide the same entitlements their parents provided, the same free ride. But I am most concerned that few of today’s young people will be willing to take up arms to defend freedom when and wherever it is threatened.” (John Rosemond, Parenting by The Book)

The above is an excerpt of the Afterword. I find what he has said truly sums up our generation. I cannot add or take away from anything he has said. I believe the direction our country and families are headed speak for themselves in support of what Rosemond stated. I cannot tell you how many thirty somethings I know who are not only living at home but also do not have jobs. More and more adult children are depending on their parents. So, what has led to this entitlement mentality?

Does it start with the change in discipline that happened two generations ago? Does it come from the fact that our no is not no and our yes is not yes? Are parents no longer forcing their children to face the consequences of their decisions?

I believe parents have lost leadership in their homes. Rosemond focuses on the word “discipline,” or “to make a disciple of.” Going back to scripture, Christ lead His disciples, just the way we should lead our children. We lead our children with “the rod.” But, we must understand this rod is used for guidance and as a symbol of authority. As parents, we must be confident in our leadership. This is something I struggle with daily. I have been so bombarded with the wrong way to do it; it’s sometimes hard to find the right.

Since coming into adulthood, I have had time to reflect on my own childhood and the way I was disciplined. Coming from a divorced family, I had two paths to follow mostly my entire life. I had a road paved with consequences and consistency. On this road, I was taught responsibility and resourcefulness. The leaders in this home were compelling and commanded my attention. If I fell off course, the consequences were very uncomfortable and created lasting memories. “No” was “NO” and I knew it. Had it not been for this road, I may have related more to the above quote than I already do. On the other road, I lacked respect for authority. It was inconsistent and weak. The leader was not confident in her role. The leader on this road used threats and bribes; rarely obtaining the results she desired. “No” was always “maybe” and I could always push it to a “yes.” This is the road where I learned about my sense of entitlement. The most interesting thing, the strong leadership road NEVER used corporal punishment. The other road always resulted in corporal punishment, even into my teens. The corporal punishment always happened in a rage and always ended in guilt for the leader. Lacking on both roads was God. Due to the most important Being that should have been in my life lacking, it took several years to find a balance in the person I would become as part of Generation E X.

I pray that God changes the hearts of the many parents who do not see the need for proper discipline or see the need but cannot find it. The majority of children I see are on the same road. A road with a parent that is not confident or consistent. The child leads the parent by manipulative and deceitful behavior. I cannot pray enough that God gives us the confidence we need to raise our children in His way.

The rod and reproof give wisdom: but a child left to himself bringeth his mother to shame. Proverbs 29:15

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Reflections of Parenting, Part 2

When I first began debating the option between staying in the workforce or going home to take care of my family, I found this article that was supposedly in Good Housekeeping in the 50s. (I really think this is a hoax…BUT…) It was called the Good Wife’s Guide and you can see a copy of it here or look it up. Believe it or not, I more or less subscribed to this philosophy. Well, there are few exceptions and it does make me laugh a little. It was against everything I was raised to believe, but it was what I felt was tried and true to help a relationship survive. I had no problem with showing my husband that he was important to me. Fast-forward that two years and here I am, a micromanaging, mother-first kind of person. Well, I’ve been working on that and you’ll see how throughout this post.

Going back to Rosemond. (Remember, Parenting by The Book?) His chapter on Parenting as One Flesh really brought me backs to the day when I said I was going to be the retro-housewife and the June Cleaver of 2007. After explaining how parents’ roles have changed due to what he calls Postmodern Psychological Parenting, Rosemond gets into the mother of the 50s compared to the mother today. The mother of the 50s just like the article said, was a wife first, parent second. Before Dad came home, mother would have tidied up not only the home, but also herself. The goal was to make sure Dad came home to the woman he married, not the housekeeper or his children’s mother. The relationship between husband and wife came first. He refers to creating a boundary around the marriage and the marital bed. With this being done, the parents operate with one mind when it comes to parenting issues. Now, however, parents are more likely to be one flesh with their children. (Leading to the so-called helicopter parenting I spoke of in Part 1.)

And, just a side note, look at how the role of the father has changed on television. Since the Cosby’s, what father have you seen that wasn’t portrayed as bumbling bafoon? With my sarcastic nature, I have realized how others could assume I do not respect my husband. This is something I have had to get in check. I have also made a conscious decision to NEVER allow someone to refer to my husband as my third child. He is not a child. He is the leader of this home.

When Rosemond started referring to “Til Children Do Us Part,” I could totally relate. He explained that a lot of couples become child centered after having babies. They pay more attention to the children than they do each other. Basically, they do all things with their children more than they do with each other. I felt, especially after one pregnancy, getting pregnant when I was still nursing and had a baby on my hip, nine more months of pregnancy, and a very difficult three months of depression after JJ, we were not going to make it. If we weren’t there already, we were definitely on our way to becoming two fleshes. The kids were the reason we were together; but then again, if had not been for the kids, we may not have had the problems we were dealing with. It was especially hard for me with the constant hormonal changes. It took a lot of soul searching and a lot of letting go of the babies to turn to each other again. Thank God we are there and willing to go even further if we have to. (Remember Mommy’s Day Out?)

I breathed a sigh of relief when I reached Rosemond’s explanation of “seasons” of childhood. It was a relief to know we were still in the Season of Service. My job was to be “checking, feeding, carrying, changing, comforting, fixing, fetching, and so on…” And good ol’ Nate was to be there to be my “parenting aide” to get through this season. It would have been comforting to understand that before all the problems! We are heading out of this season with one and still hanging in there with the other. For us, I think the major problem was when we were in the Season of Service with TWO at the same time. We were both emotionally, mentally, and physically drained. I also feel comfort now that Lily is heading out of the season of service; I am beginning to gradually introduce her to the fact that I’m not her servant for life.

It’s going to be hard in this world. The new “good mother” is to serve her child for life. I was just explaining to Nate how judged I would be for trying to instill independence at an early age with so many mothers going above and beyond the call of duty for their older children. I am ready to face whatever to increase the possibilities of having a child who becomes a caring, productive adult with God at the center of his/her life.

For those who don’t know, my thoughts of parenting have always been in line with John Rosemond’s, even before I read anything he wrote. I enjoy reading what he writes because it helps me to understand application a little more and I just love reading about parenting. To each his own, right?

How about you? How many of you feel your vows should have been replaced with “Til children do us part”?

Friday, December 11, 2009

Reflections on Parenting, Part 1

After several months of debating to buy and waiting on BFF to finish her reading, I finally got my hands on my much-coveted Parenting by The Book by John Rosemond. Rosemond uses biblical principals to outline how parents have been lead astray and away from the Bible in child rearing. Rosemond explains the change occurred in and around the 1960s when parents stopped listening to “Grandma” and started listening to folks with letters following their names.

Rosemond hits the nail on the head about the frustrations and anxiety parents raising children today are facing. I love it when he describes how parents are confused about everything. “…when to toilet train, how to deal with tantrums, how and when and even where to put their kids o bed…discipline… feed the children… talk to the children...” He’s exactly right. As a parent, I see in young children, teens, and young adults how something about parenting has gone terribly wrong. We are left confused not knowing where to turn but knowing the current way is not doing so hot. And here we are with the “Tower of Parent-Babble” of parenting books to decipher what the right way is to parent. Rosemond lays out some critical issues in parenting that he always goes back to biblical principles.

Due to the Tower of Parent-Babble, there has arisen this horrific focus on “self-esteem.” Even Christian parents believe in guarding our children to protect their self-esteem. Rosemond does a great job of explaining just how self-esteem is a form of idolatry and is extremely harmful to the child. (He goes on to explain a development of self-respect that comes from humility and serving others.) Self-esteem leads into a loss of manners, manipulative behavior, and a disregard for others.

Before reading the book, I had become familiar with the “esteem” issue from various sermons I had listened to. It really made sense that self-esteem was exactly contrary to what scripture teaches. Jesus told us to deny ourselves and to follow Him. (Matthew 16:4) My previous meditations on self-esteem helped to have a good understanding of where he was coming from in the book. Being raised in the world of self-esteem AND having a psychology degree, it’s very hard as a parent and a Christian to do what is right with the child. Already we find ourselves worrying about Lily’s future since she is so passive. We don’t want her to get ran over or have any anxiety issues. Biblically, our thinking is wrong. Lily needs to be humble and slow to speak. Grandma was right when she said is wasn’t polite to show off and we can get too big for our britches. There is nothing I can’t stand more than a kid (mostly teens and pre-teens) that brags on and on. Well, yes there is, the parent who brags right behind him/her. And here I am, praising her all the way for every little milestone. Please, God, help me to be humble to teach them humility. Pride is such a rampant and natural way.

Anyways, back on track. Parents today don’t want to admit their two and three year olds misbehave because they are inherently sinful. Heck, they don’t want to admit their teenagers are inherently sinful. They want to contribute it to development. Instead of meeting the behavior head on, forcing the right behavior, and then teaching the difference between right and wrong, parents are trying to modify behavior (like with a dog) and/or explain the behavior off as something psychological the child is dealing with. If we tell them they are wrong or they've sinned, it might hurt their self-esteem. Christian parents are forgetting about what the Bible teaches about the fall of man. I guess when you have to face that your child is born to sin, you must admit that you too have the fallen nature. This is a hard thing for many folks to grasp.

Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me. Psalm 51:5

Rosemond also goes into how the parents are over-involved in their children’s lives. I completely agree. The best examples of parents being overly involved are when the parents are going to school to defend their kids from being corrected or being bullied. This type of behavior is apparently going on into adulthood with parents going to colleges and working things out for their adult children. And then, the helicopter parent gets REALLY involved and calls for job interviews for the child. Rosemond gives an example in the book of employers having problems with hiring younger adults. The younger adults 1.) Have no respect for authority, 2.) Have a sense of entitlement, and 3.) Have parents calling in due to bad job performance ratings. (These three were taken from different excerpts in the book and are my own interpretation.) This is really hard for me to imagine. I was very independent from the time I turned 16, maybe even before. But hey, I see it in some of the teens I’m around. Parents, especially mothers, are enabling their children by being “too” there for them.

You know, when you think about it. This is what we have all around us. People, adults and children alike, who think the world has something to owe them. There is no respect, responsibility, or resourcefulness. What do you think? Do you think the self-esteem error era has something to do with it?

I have a lot I want to say about this book. (I have a lot to say about a lot of things. Thanks God for blogs!) I really want to get into what Rosemond says about the roles in the family and his take on discipline. So, look for Part 2 and Part 3.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

God Let Me See

As I reach for a double dose of caffeine this morning, I am still rejoicing over the experience God gave me last night. I am so convicted and so broken. My eyes are open and I can see how far away from God I truly am. It’s easy to feel close to God when you are surrounded with worldliness and shallow Christianity. Last night I met with a group of women who are truly amazing and they give all the glory to God.

My entrance into this group came from an interest in homeschooling. A friend of a friend suggested that I come to a Mom’s group that meets once a month and just happened to be at her house this month. I was very on board from the beginning due to my search for other Christian women to be a part of my life in some way.

As the night began and all of the women arrived, the diverse group was somewhat quiet and reserved. On this particular evening, the forum was open and there was no specific topic. I listened as the women spoke back and forth about their homes and their schools. My insides leaped for joy as I listened about their daily times with God as a family, about their children glorifying God in all they do, and about not having excuses for sin. When the hostess asked if I had anything on my mind…well, you know me. Of course, I had something on my mind; I had many things on my mind. And she really set me up when she said it could be about anything… worship, family…whatever. I shared the walk and the struggle we have had to find people who wanted to speak about God and how we felt so alone. I shared how hard it’s been to separate when we are drowning in the world. I shared how in awe I was to hear and see a group of women be such examples of the role women have in Christian families.

And then it began…God blessed me and blessed me and blessed me through this group of women. My heart ached from conviction as I listened to their stories of tragedy and how they rejoiced in what God is doing in their lives. No matter how hard the circumstances were they faced, they acknowledged God’s sovereignty and how they cannot doubt what God is doing…even through the death of their own children. Their prayers were so honest about our selfishness and wickedness.

Through their conversations and prayers, I realized how I hold my children as idols above God. I realized how my role within my family is very far from where God wants me to be. I realized how my housework is more important than my time with God and leading my children up in the way they should go.

I found a group of women where my spirit can find rest. I found a place where God is the conversation and I don’t feel awkward because talk is of clothes and homes and stuff.

Thank you God for how you used these women to convict me and open my eyes. Forgive me for my evilness and my vanity. Thank you for allowing me to have the ability to see who I am…

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Nate finally blogged! Watch out!

As I mentioned last week two weeks ago, Nate was supposed to do a little guest blogging for me. He finally took some time to give my blog some time. He apparently wanted to do a little story of us of his own and decided it was too personal. And apparently, he decided to use my blog as a pedestal to declare to the world his annoyances! So here goes…hold on…and prepare to get a preaching!

I had previously written a different blog post. It quickly became more personnel than I intended; therefore, it will be shelved for now.

For this guest post, I will rant a little about nothing in particular and whatever comes to mind. Also note while reading this, I will quickly judge myself on the same topics and no one is harder on me than me.

1. This is a big one. Please stop telling yourself and everyone else, “I celebrate the birth of Christ.” Come on people. I will not got into deep details about pagan roots and biblical definitions of Christmas other than to say things esteemed in this world are not of GOD. How exactly does one celebrate God on his alleged birthday? How does one honor God on this day? Apparently buying presents for kids, parents, friends, and co-workers honors God. Try doing what Christ told the rich young ruler. Go and sell everything you have and come follow Me. I bet Christ would see that as honorable but only if done in a humble spirit. There is even self-righteousness in the good deeds done this time of year. Yeah, sure your intentions are to help someone out in need but why not do it privately? Why must we insist on telling others the good we have done? It really bothers me when a church Sunday school will buy for a family and then bring the family in front of the church and make a spectacle of the whole ordeal. Why? Is God unable to see a good deed if not verified in front of the congregation? I will tell you why this takes place. It makes the giver feel good. The family is probably a little embarrassed but so wanting to give their kids a nice Christmas with toys and such that a little humility is warranted. And don’t we feel proud of ourselves for donating $10 to a family with little money and no food and then go home and gorge on more food than an army could eat and give presents to kids who have everything they need and say a fat-cheeked man with a beard brought them. Praise God…. Listen, I am not stating that I am the vision of giving. But I also don’t do something for myself that is worldly and over indulgent and justify the action by doing it in Christ’s name either. If you would really consider your actions and motives this Christmas you would come to the conclusion that Christ is in fact not the “Reason for the Season.” His name is rarely spoken of, we are swapping presents with believers and unbelievers alike, and we tell our kids that a man with God-like characteristics is bringing them presents. Ask a 4 year old, what the meaning of Christmas is? They will tell you it’s “Christ’s birthday.” Then tell them Santa isn’t coming. We are reading the Word and fellowshipping with believers. Tell me what they think Christmas is about now. Heck, tell a 15 year old they will be getting no presents and gauge the reaction.

2. While we’re on the subject of the children, let me get off the subject of Christmas. An 8 year old does not need a cell phone. We can try and justify this many ways… “They need to call me when they get done with practice” or “they are always on my phone and running up my minutes.” If a parent constantly needs lead times and notices to arrange transportation for their children then either one or both of them are too busy. Try just saying, “she doesn’t NEED a phone, I just wanted to get it for her.” Then admit she is spoiled.

3. And finally. Men, stay at home with your family. Put down the golf clubs, lay your fishing rod down, lay off the work and come home and spend some time with your little ones. You will not regret it. I see so many dads who can’t help but spend all their spare time playing and working. (And I’m not speaking of the occasional fisherman or golfer. Because I know sometimes we do need a break.) You will have all the time you want when your babies are grown. I bet you will not regret one minute you spent with them. Your friends, if true, will not disown you. The children cherish every minute spent with them. My golf game has suffered, I haven’t a clue where the fish are at the lake… and I could care less. Seeing my little boy roll in the floor and my little girl do something completely random could take away the blues from any day I had. You want stress relief? Then push a 2 year old on the swing and check out that smile. You want to go to a happy place, pick up a 7 month old who smiles ear to ear simply because you picked him up. Your mere presence means the world to them. Be there. When I die I would much rather someone say he was a loving father (and mean it) than to say he was a 3 handicap golfer or he dominated the local rodeo circuit on Douglas lake.

Wow. Random.

Let me fill you in a bit and maybe sum things up. All of the above are hot topics of discussions amongst Nate and some others lately or things that weigh heavy on his mind. Every December I think we face this in some way or another as a couple. We see things that a mere few others see. People seem to be blinded by the world and what the world has to offer. We, as a culture, have become so desensitized to sin that it has not only become normal, but acceptable. As a Christian, it is hard to watch those who claim to be Christians drown in the worldliness. We find ourselves so confused and broken-hearted that they cannot see. But then we must remind ourselves, they have not been given an ear to ear or eyes to see. (For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? I Corinthians 4:7)

We understand that not all those who claim to be Christian do not live this way or follow this same path. We just do not know many that are not on that path and we find ourselves very alone. But then we praise God, because we know God has us on the right path to Him.

Enter by the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many that go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way that leads to life, and there are few that find it. Matthew 7:13-14

(BTW- I'm pulling for the other blog post to get finished because I know you'll like it!)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The First Step is The Hardest...

Pant…pant…GASP! I can’t breathe! In lieu of stretching, I decided to blog for accountability. Even though, I didn’t wanna do it, I got myself up on the old Sole E55 today and elliptical-ed my way through twenty minutes of pain. ridiculous! I have never, and I mean ever, been this weak.

I would say out of shape, but even in days when I had strength and six-pack abs, my second hand smoker lungs could not even grace the track for a mile. As much as I loved freedom upon moving away from home, I embraced a love for cardio. And I mean heart pumpin’, blood sweatin’, cardio. LOVED IT! It took a lot of hard work to build up the strength to make it through long runs and two-hour “Grosso” Tae kwon do workouts. But I did it…and now it’s gone…

Not only have I lost my cardio, I’ve lost my strength. What have these kids done to me! My arms feel like jello, there is cottage cheese cellulite in places I didn’t know could have it, my stomach looks like an old rotten potato…and at the risk of too much information… (edited...becuase it really was too much information!) Now that’s just wrong.

So with all this said, I have a plan. Yes, a plan. I’m going to be a lean, mean, Momma Machine. This month, I’m merely going to focus on regaining minimal strength. I will start with cardio and add weights when I feel I have been consistent. Once this is established, what my body has not already forced me to change, will be changed on my diet. I feel that when you work out, your mind and body sometimes force you to make some nutritional changes, such as more fluid intake.

It’s never too early, so let me share my New Year’s/Beginning in December Plan: (some of this does not pertain to just physical health and is no particular order…
  1. Simply, start working out at least 5 out of 7 days.
  2. Drink more water.
  3. Eat less sugar.
  4. By April 2010, resume training for my second-degree black belt.
  5. Run the CASA 8K on June 12, 2010.
  6. Spend at least 6 months out of 2010 not pregnant, nursing, and/or both.
  7. Spend more time studying scripture.
  8. Find a church family.
  9. Pray more as a family.
  10. Spend at least one night a month with my husband without babies. (Not enough, but a start.)
Totally did not know that would come out with a nice even number of 10. And a side note, I have never had even one New Year's resolution before.

Here’s to accountability!