Monday, January 31, 2011

Award and Winner!

Blogging has many benefits. Not only do we get to share our own thoughts, but we are encouraged and uplifted by the writings of our blogging comrades. And sometimes…we win stuff!

I was ecstatic when I won Think by John Piper from Tried By Fire! This is one of my favorite blogs that I am recently following. (And not because I just won a book from her!)

And then, low and behold…our friend Gregg over at Gospel-Driven Disciples awarded Losing Michelle with a Stylish Blogger Award. Thank you, Gregg!

With the acceptance of this award, I must pass the award on to other fellow bloggers. I follow several blogs that would deserve this award…but I think I will send some folks my friend Sarah’s way and give this award to Crumbs Under My Table. Sarah and I met online by speaking out for our faith and found out we live in the same neighborhood! You will find Sarah has a great love for God’s Word when visiting her blog. (You can pick up the award at the bottom of the page, Sarah.)

Another part of the award is that I must share seven things about myself…this should be easy…we all love to talk about ourselves, right?
  1. I am a creature of habit and routine. On any given Monday-Friday, you will probably find me doing the same thing at the same time most days. (As may or may not be evidenced by some of the following things about me.)
  2. I am a morning person. It is nearly impossible for me to sit down the first two hours I am awake. This is not in any way caffeine induced, it is all natural.
  3. My favorite place to be at 6AM is on the road walking or running. Unfortunately, my body thinks when it is pregnant it is a descendant of the slug family. I’m thinking about running home from the hospital.
  4. My undergraduate degree is in psychology. I think that is hilarious because I don’t believe in what I now consider hog wash. (Sorry, Dr. Pelley…I still love you and you are still my most favorite instructor EVER.)
  5. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a Fly Girl when I grew up.
  6. When I was in college, I scheduled showers and meals. Actually, other than classes and work, most of my day was scheduled in 15 minute increments.
  7. My husband doesn’t like to cook when I’m in the kitchen. Before he has used something he needs, I have washed and/or put it away.
I hope none of this leaves you with the impression I’m anal. I’m sure Dr. Pelley could have a hay day with this. Have a great Monday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Contentment and Joy

Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 1 Timothy 6:6-8

Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.”  Hebrews 13:5

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness… Galatians 5:22

As my mind wanders doing my daily tasks, I find myself lacking. I wonder how I can strive for joy and contentment? Is it within me to strive or can only God provide me with the two things I long for the most?

As I realize the wash has stopped, there is another load of clothes to fold, dishes in the sink, and dinner to be prepared. I say out loud to my husband, who is home for a quick lunch, “It never stops.” And later when I’m putting away clothes and the children are napping, I realize again how I lack joy and contentment and what I said to my dear husband was wrong. The service I give to my family is all in vain if I find no joy…if I do it out of duty and not out of love will I ever win their hearts?

So, I go back to my original question…can I strive for joy and contentment or is this something God must work in me? Where is the balance between His work and my responsibility? Is it that God shows me those things I lack so I continuously come back to His grace?

When I find myself burdened by the same daily tasks, consumed with the thoughts of how I could run this home better, and how my children could be more obedient if I would just do something different…I’m telling Him He is not sufficient. I’m telling Him His grace is not sufficient. I’m telling Him…I need more than Him.

Contentment. Joy.

And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Monday, January 24, 2011

Homeschooling: Catechizing Preschoolers

During these early years, something we really hope to instill in our children is a love for God and His Word. Both Nate and I hope that our children will not face the difficulties we did as adults when we realized we didn't really know why we believed what we believed. We want to train them in God's Word and along the way, teach them to be able to ask and answer biblical questions.

At breakfast each morning, the children and I pray, read scripture, and occasionally review the Catechism for Young Children. I really enjoy this time...there is something wonderful about watching them grow in His Word.

You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. Deut. 6:7

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Reality can change quickly…

God is so sustaining in our time of need. That day when I couldn’t take it…the day when the next thing that happened was going to bring me to tears. I saw Him lift it up and take it off of my shoulders.

As the pressure built, I sat quietly at the kitchen table as they played around me. I could look at them and see… that day, it was all me. They played together by my side while I dealt with my emotions.

And then they napped. When they awoke I could still see Him. I could still see Him guiding their spirits, as so to say, “Momma can only handle a little right now.” So, when refused a request, they simply walked away with joy and no questions and no crying to find something else to hold their attention. I sat on the couch, trying to find the motivation to prepare dinner and gain back control over the mess. I watched as she put away her blocks and her toys where they belonged…never being asked. I looked at him snuggled quietly beside me.

As I go to prepare dinner, he calls and says, “Don’t worry about it. We’ll go out.” And then there I am…a step ahead with tomorrow’s dinner half prepared. I continue on and put it away for tomorrow. As it is prepared, I hear the quietness around me. That curious quietness that sometimes cannot be good with two little ones. I step into the room, to find them both sitting there in the floor…each with a book of their own in their small hands.

I don’t hear the cries of squabbles. I don’t hear the questions. I just hear the peace of God saying…there will be joy…not tomorrow, but today.

He whispers sweet peace to me...

Monday, January 17, 2011


Today is one of those days. One of those days when the kids have been up an hour and I know we need a “do over.” I send Lily to her room to go back to bed for a little while…with these instructions. When you get up this time, we are starting over. We are starting over with a more pleasant attitude towards all of those around us. When in reality, I’m the one that needs to start this day over. I’m the one standing at the kitchen sink trying to just block out the incessant questions and the incessant crying.

Today is one of those days when we are riding down the road and I want to turn the radio up to block it all out. I don’t want to hear so I don’t have to answer any more questions. I don’t want to hear what is going on in the back seat so I don’t have to deal with it.

Today is one of those days that it takes all I have not to cry and to hold myself together. Today is one of those days when it takes all I have to not feel like a complete failure. I feel like a failure because I’m tired of answering the same question for the one hundredth time. I’m tired of putting the Handy Manny gloves on for the one hundredth time. I’m tired of  settling the squabbles over hats and tricycles.

So, I just sit. And for today I let it all go.  I don’t worry about cleaning up the lunch mess so I can put the Handy Manny gloves on his hands for the one hundred and on… second time. I just sit here and try to not be distracted by the toys that are accumulating on the floor so I can answer the same question just one more time.

I have so much to be thankful for each and every day, including today. But on the rare occasion, I have one of those days. Today is one of those days and I know tomorrow there will be more joy.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Conviction of Love

I had heard this exercise prompt before. You know, replace “Love” with your name in the “love passage” in 1 Corinthians 13. I had never actually done it…I’m still not even sure if it is a proper exercise. But, I went with it. I decided I would take my time and try this out.

Michelle suffers long and is kind; Michelle does not envy; Michelle does not parade herself, is not puffed up; Michelle does not behave rudely, does not seek her own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Can we be honest? Should this “replacement” be legit, I have very little love in me. Of course, there are moments when I am kind and patient. I have a toddler and a preschooler, God has granted me patience most days. However, there are the other days.

But oh dear… puffed up, behaves rudely, is not provoked, thinks no evil?!

When I can’t understand why other people just can’t see scripture, faith, parenting, (fill in the blank), the way I do, I get puffed up and I forget 1 Cor 4:7. (For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you indeed did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?)

When I am frustrated at my husband and I use no words, but angry looks and attitudes I am behaving rudely…and chances are I have allowed myself to be provoked. I have forgotten the fruits of the Spirit…the fruits of joy, gentleness, and self-control.

And by just using the two examples above, we arrive at “thinking” evil. How our thoughts can control us! Am I “bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ?”  (2 Cor 10:5) When I rage in my selfish mind about why my husband, my mother, my sister, or my friend don’t do things the way I want them to…my thoughts tear me down and in turn my actions and words do not lift others up in love.

So, I am brought back to my knees and back to Christ. His grace is the only answer for my selfish desires and motives. I pray for love. I pray that I can love my God with all my heart, all my mind, and all my soul. And in God’s provision of my love for Him, I will speak His love to those around me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Crazy Love: First Impressions

About a year ago a friend of mine suggested I read Crazy Love by Francis Chan. At the time, I must admit, I was skeptical. I was skeptical because I am always skeptical of best selling, highly popular books and pastors. If you draw large crowds in the form of a mega church, I’m probably not coming…unless of course, you’re Charles Spurgeon. I figured Chan was just another Rick Warren or Joel Olsteen.

Either way, over the course of the year I would listen up as I heard the name Francis Chan just to see what he was all about. In the last few weeks, I started to hear about him stepping down from the pastoral position at his church. Apparently, this happened in October. What interested me most was why he stepped down. Basically, Chan said his life of fame and comfort was not lining up with scripture. He decided to step away and spend time with Christians who were being persecuted and whose lives were the more biblical model of Christianity. So, he went to Asia. I believe the first news article I read mentioned he realized when he heard “Francis Chan” more in his church than he heard the “Holy Spirit,” he knew something was wrong. Anything that calls Christians to be extreme or radical peaks my interests so I bought the book.

I am half way through the book and I must say I am impressed. I don’t believe my doctrinal views line up with his, but I believe it will be very convicting and point out how little we actually obey the commands of Jesus and therefore, how little we actually love Jesus.

Are we willing to lay down everything to follow Him? How many times did Jesus tell us to feed the poor? Didn’t he say when you have a feast to not invite those you know but instead the poor, the blind, the lame, the crippled? Isn’t it true that God really only gets the “leftovers” of what we have to give? We live in crazy comfort and then feel good when we give a little money here or there. And truth be told, we don’t give with love but with pride and judgment.

The questions then are these… are we truly followers of Christ if we refuse to lay down it all and only give God what keeps us in comfort? Are we only carrying the label of Christian while hardly living the life? We can praise God for the grace he provides for His children, but isn’t faith without works dead?

I’m in no way advocating a works based “salvation,” as I believe in grace alone through Christ alone.  However, Christ’s words do resound in my mind and in my heart… “Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow Me.” (Luke 18:22) So far, I believe Chan is right. We’re offering up leftover sacrifices to a God that wants all or nothing.

Examine yourself. (2 Cor 13:5) Chan echoes my own words just a few weeks ago, “‘Do I really believe this?’ Because if we truly believed in His Word wouldn’t our lives look much different?”

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. (Matt 22:37)

I don’t know about you, but I can’t say that I’m even close to obeying this first and greatest commandment…

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sometimes…Plans Change

It was only a week ago that I spout out how I planned on finishing my systematic reading of the Bible by the time Ms. Anna arrives. For the past nine months or so I have been reading through the Old Testament. My original plan was to finish in 6 months…which would have been possible if I had not been reading Chronicles when my morning sickness kicked in! This threw me off my plan and into small daily doses of Psalms. I eventually kicked back in to gear and realized if I doubled my reading assignment for the day I could finish before “maternity leave.” And then…

I reached Isaiah. Prior to Isaiah, I was just “reading” through, covering the material if you will. Besides, other than CHRONICLES, I had read most of it before so I was able to tread covered ground and pick up more this time around. Well, I can’t do that with the prophets. I need to study the prophets. So, I set aside my timeline and my thin Bible that I carry everywhere so I can read anywhere… And I drug out my old, stand by me, teach me all things Bible, and have started on the endeavor with no timeline and with only learning in mind.

Today I will begin chapter 7. The thing that stands out most to me about these first six chapters of Isaiah is the similarity between Israel and the state of America currently. The rebellion is the same and it is hard for me to keep in mind while reading that this is before captivity. That Isaiah is not talking about us.

Your princes are rebellious, And companions of thieves; Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them. Isaiah 1:23

I will give children to be their princes, and babes shall rule over them. The people will be oppressed, every one by another every one by his neighbor; the child will be insolent toward the elder, and the base toward the honorable. Isaiah 3:5

For Jerusalem stumbled, and Judah is fallen, Because their tongue and their doings are against the Lord, to provoke the eyes of His glory. The look on their countenance witnesses against them, and they declare their sin as Sodom; they do not hide it. Woe to their soul! For they have brought evil upon themselves. Isaiah 3:8-9

And this is why plans change…I cannot just read the prophets. What was Isaiah saying to them? What was Isaiah saying to us, if anything? Can we as rebellious nation learn from the rebellion of God’s chosen people? My prayer is that God will help me to learn and to know Him better as I finish the Old Testament.

(Note: That Bible I was talking about can be found HERE. If you are looking for an excellent study Bible, this is it. I have the older edition which is red letter. It appears the newest edition is not red letter. I have only seen ONE other Bible like mine in seven years! The pages are very thin but the information in this Bible far surpasses any study Bible I have ever seen. I HIGHLY recommend it! If you have any questions about it just let me know.)

Monday, January 3, 2011

As I Struggle…

Each day I begin a struggle. A struggle to show the grace God has given me to my children. Each day I struggle to be the joyful mother God wants me to be. I find it hard to forget about what needs to be done or how it should be done, and just laugh. Just how do I win their hearts and at the same time teach the importance of accountability and diligence?

I struggle. I struggle with the fear that I am badgering rather than discipling. It is so easy to go a sway when both our children are at the age where we spend more time teaching them what NOT to do than what to do. It seems as if correction overrules praise most days. I know this is just a season. I know that I should not grow weary…for I will reap what I sow.

It really isn’t difficult for me to be a “Yes Mom.” We make lots of memories and I allow for messes…but is it enough? Do I send them the message of joy in all we do?

Ann Voskamp’s memory moves me because it has been and can be me at any moment when I choose to be selfish. She remembers:

“How I turned the last child’s light out that night and slumped down a door frame and how I cried quiet in the dark.

 The mother grief scalds the cheeks —  but what washes away the mother grime?

That night I knew it: I’ve become the parent I knew as a child. The one I looked straight in the face and fierce vowed I’d never be. But my ears ring with the echo of my voice, that voice: Can’t you see what a mess this is? How many times do I have to tell you? What were you thinking?”

I have read this probably close to five times…and each time tears flood to my eyes because each day I struggle…I struggle to remain patient and kind and to use only soft words…words that lift up and show grace.

Each day I pray that I will be a mother they love and they long for when I am not there…but is my heart’s desire seen in my actions? So today, I’ll struggle…I’ll struggle to be present… not only physically, but spiritually and mentally. Because…

“When I am present to the Presence of God meeting us in this moment, I am not worrying, I am not regretting, I am not chaffing, griping, fuming, fretting.

Be all here: and be holy.

Be all here: and be happy.

Because the Presence of I AM always fills the present moment.” ~ Ann Voskamp