{Mommy/Life/Wife Journal} A Few March & April Highlights

I know I’ve been so quiet here on the blog! I hope nobody has jumped to the conclusion that motherhood has swallowed up my life or that I’m fighting with Andrew and don’t have anything happy to share or that I’ve died. ;) None of the above are true. But, life is very busy these days and I’ve purposely allowed blogging to take a back burner. Here are a few quick highlights from the past month or so…

– Caleb is growing and changing so quickly and I can’t get enough of it! He’s had his first few tastes of solids (avocado and applesauce). He’s scooting around now…on the verge of legitimate crawling! I’m thinking I’ll be able to say he’s crawling before his 5 month mark, but we’ll see. I’m trying not to be the stereotypical first-time mom who thinks her child does everything six weeks before he actually does. ;) Trust me, it’s easy to do. My child is amazing. ;)

– Andrew helped me get back on track with regular, substantial quiet times by printing a Bible reading schedule for us to follow together. We still read separately but then it’s great to have been in the same place and discuss it! It’s a Bible-in-a-year plan but it’s chronological. I have two chapters left in Genesis and I’m finished with Job. Exodus is next!

– Spring break has been such a welcome respite from Andrew’s regular class schedule. We had a wonderful visit from two of my brothers and then from two cousins over Easter. Tomorrow, Andrew’s brother rolls into town to finish off the break with us. And in between, Andrew, Caleb, and I have gotten some quality time. I’m very thankful for each one of these precious memories.

– Backing up further, my mom came and stayed with us for five days last month. I ended up sick for most of the trip, and felt terrible that we mostly stayed home all week, but it was a huge blessing to have her help out around the house while I didn’t feel well, and we still got lots of sweet conversations in. We love Caleb’s grandmas! =)

– God was so gracious in helping us to pre-rent the vacancy we had in March, which meant no tours or open houses!!! We have two apartments vacating at the beginning of May. I’d really appreciate prayer that we’d get those filled quickly, as well. Vacancies can be a ton of work and stress, something we’ve yet to try with Caleb here.

– God’s mercies are new every morning. I feel like I’m in a constant battle with fear and anxiety these days, and needing to speak God’s truth to myself 24/7 to keep my heart focused on the right place. It’s crazy how quickly worry can take over, and I’ve got so much more that I can fret over now that I’m a mom. It’s an opportunity to continue growing in trusting the Lord and truly believing that He is sovereign and good in every situation.

– I’ve got a couple of maternity and newborn photo sessions coming up that I’m very excited about, and in the meantime I keep photographing my favorite little guy! =)

I guess that’s all for now…happy April, dear readers! =)

To Make You More Like Christ

DSC_0603It was 11 PM and I was in bed but far from asleep.

I had just finished complaining to Andrew about some apartment management frustration and worries over how the following day would go in terms of coordinating my responsibilities with Caleb’s schedule.

After about five minutes of silence, I blurted out, “I’m really mad and it’s making me mad that I’m mad!” (Two-year-old reasoning, anyone?)

We talked some more and I said, “But why do these things always happen on the days when you’re gone?”

Andrew’s answer: “To make you more like Christ.”

Ouch. I knew he was right, and as I sat there trying to surrender my heart to God’s sovereign provision of irritating circumstances, I replied in a humorous tone, “Congratulations. You’ve successfully shut me up.”

We have a running joke about one time when I was upset about another situation and Andrew gave me wise advice. My response in the moment had been, “I don’t need to be Biblical counseled right now, I just need you to listen!” (Excuse the poor grammar. I know the nerds out there are dying to add an “ly” to the end of “Biblical”.) Now, when these sorts of conversations start, Andrew likes to mimic me in an annoying, squeaky voice, “I don’t need to be biblical counseled!” I don’t know about you, but in our experience, humor is often a great way to diffuse tension.

But I digress.

Andrew’s answer was spot on, and I knew it.

This small frustration was just one of many tools that God uses to refine me and transform me more and more into His image. As Andrew also pointed out, I could either have a bad attitude about it, or I could choose to let it drive me to the cross and make me more like Christ. Either way, I wasn’t getting out of it, so I might as well grow through it!

Are you dealing with something difficult, big or small, today? God wants to use that situation to make you more like His Son. Don’t waste that opportunity. Don’t fight God’s hand.

{Marriage Journal} Why Can’t He Just Remember?

Towel_Rack_1This morning, Caleb was napping and I was working on apartment management items, when Andrew called to me from the other room, “Hey Hon, could you grab me a towel?”

I sighed as I set my laptop aside and got up to retrieve the item that I seemed to deliver quite often. Why can’t he just remember to grab a towel before he gets in the shower? I grumbled in my head.

The thought was barely finished when I realized how many dozens of times I’ve sat down to nurse Caleb and then realized I forgot to pour myself a tall glass of water first. (I am always parched during feedings!) “Hey Babe, could you bring me some water?” Andrew never complains that I don’t prepare better for nursing sessions.

It’s funny how easy it is to notice my husband’s quirks and minor shortcomings without ever stopping to look at my own. If we both picked at each little mistake or got annoyed every time the other’s forgetfulness made a little extra work for us, we’d be at each other constantly. This is everyday life together. This is being married. It means smiling when Andrew forgets the towel or I forget the water. It means laughing when I pick up the dirty laundry that ended up exactly next to the hamper instead of inside it. It means Andrew kissing me on the cheek when he discovers that his earbuds have grown legs and wound up in my nightstand. Sometimes it is in a million of these tiny decisions that a happy or frustrating marriage is made. (There are plenty of bigger factors, too…but small things often become the big things!)

Next time I hear the Towel Summons, I hope I smile instead of grumbling. I hope I say something sweet as I toss it to him. I hope I thank God that He gave me a husband.

And hey–I should be grateful to be married to a guy who showers! ;)

Photo taken from imgkid.com.

Loving Sacrificially as Jesus Loved Us

loveOn Monday night I shared this simple little devotional at our monthly Bible study Ladies Night. Posting it was easier than writing something new…so here ya go. =) 

Tonight I want to share a few thoughts about one aspect of Biblical love. In John 13:34 Jesus says, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” Since Jesus commands us to love each other just as He loves us, I started thinking about what that looks like. One of the most obvious aspects of His love for us is that it is a sacrificial love.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

Jesus loved us so much that He sacrificed more than we could ever imagine for us. He left His home in Heaven, where everything was perfect. There was no sin, no sadness, no broken relationships, no suffering, no misery, no sickness, no hunger and thirst, and no pain. He came to earth and was born into a modest family in a stable. He went from the glory of Heaven, where everyone recognized Him as the King that He is, to growing up surrounded by sinners, most of whom did not know He was God, or refused to believe. He experienced 40 days of hunger and thirst, He fought temptation, and He spent His time ministering to unlovely, sick, disgraced, and poor people. He invested years of love into a man who betrayed Him for money. And finally, He suffered unbelievable physical pain and the emotional torment of separation from His Father, ultimately giving up His very life, all so that we could be reconciled to God and have our sins forgiven. He sacrificed in all these ways so that we could be saved.

“He who was delivered over because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification.” (Rom. 4:25)

In Jesus, we have an example of the kind of love we are called to show to one another.

“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.” (1 Jn 3:16-18)

The world tries to tell us that love is about romance and feelings. Even worse, our culture emphasizes the importance of loving ourselves and seeking our own happiness. Relationships according to the world are about what makes us feel good.

But the kind of love that Jesus calls us to is a sacrificial love that puts others’ needs and interests above our own.

Think about one of the relationships in your life. Perhaps someone hard to love, or someone you interact with regularly like your husband, parent, sibling, roommate, or friend. Take a moment to evaluate your love toward that person. Do you show more or less love to them depending on what they can do for you or how they make you feel? Does your behavior toward them change depending on theirs? Are you characterized by willingly and joyfully making sacrifices for them with no expectation of thanks or acknowledgement in return? Are you motivated to love because of what you will receive back?

I was asking myself these questions about my marriage it hit me that often the “sacrifices” I make for Andrew are done with unspoken stipulations. For example, I will be joyful in my sacrifice provided he acknowledges what I have done. If I do not receive thanks in return, I may pout and wonder why I bothered going out of my way for him. Because my husband is a thankful guy, I do not often have a chance to practice sacrificing for him without acknowledgement, but I think often I just subconsciously expect and feel like I deserve his praise.

1 Corinthians 13:5 says that love “it does not seek its own”.

If I am sacrificing in order to enjoy the praise or thanks of another, or to get some favor in return, or because it makes me look good of feel good about myself, it is not truly sacrificing at all. It is doing something with my best in mind, not that of the other person. That is not the love with which Jesus loves us. 

John Piper writes, “The highest act of love is the giving of the best gift, and, if necessary, at the greatest cost, to the least deserving. That’s what God did. At the loss of His Son’s life to the totally undeserving, God gave the best gift – the display of the glory of Christ who is the image of God.” 

It’s so easy to go through life with an entitlement mindset. It does not come naturally to us to love others sacrificially without thought for our own well being. But this sacrificial love is what we see modeled in our Savior, and it is the kind of love we are to practice.

Ironically, when we unselfishly sacrifice for others with Jesus’ love and in His strength, we are rewarded with the pleasure that comes from obeying and serving God. The satisfaction we might find in receiving praise or acknowledgement from people is fleeting. But there is lasting joy in pleasing the Lord!

This week, meditate on the sacrificial love that Jesus has shown to you. Thank Him for loving you with no consideration of what you could give back to Him, and ask Him to enable you to show that kind of love to the people in your life.

Image taken from fortalezadoguincho.com. 

{Reading Report} What I Read in 2014

My five favorite books I read in 2014 were:

The Hole in Our Holiness
The Gospel at Work
Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home
Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus 
Creative Counterpart

I didn’t exactly meet my goal of reading 48 books. I read 33, and that was only thanks to the book review job I started in the spring. Below is what I read. The books in bold are what I read independently, the others I was paid to read and review. For those I read on my own, you can find some of my reviews here.

Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem 
A Quest for More: Living for Something Bigger than You 
I Will Carry You: The Sacred Dance of Grief and Joy 
When God Weeps: Why Our Sufferings Matter to the Almighty 
Creative Counterpart : Becoming the Woman, Wife, and Mother You Have Longed To Be
Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home 

Unbroken (audiobook)
For Women Only 

First We Have Coffee
Reckless Abandon 

A Cup of Cold Water: The Compassion of Nurse Edith Cavell
Five Things Every Christian Needs to Grow
Passion: How Christ’s final day changes your every day 

The Hole in Our Holiness
A Loving Life: In a World of Broken Relationships 
The Intolerance of Tolerance
Captivated: Beholding the Mystery of Jesus Death and Resurrection

Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full
Jesus or Nothing
What Every Woman Wishes Her Father Had Told Her
Everyone’s A Theologian
Evangelism: How the Whole Church Speaks of Jesus 
The Doctrines of Grace: Student Edition
Suffering Well
The Witch of Blackbird Pond (audiobook)
The Gospel at Work
Now That I’m a Christian: What It Means to Follow Jesus
Stepping Heavenward: One Woman’s Journey to Godliness
Al Capone Does My Shirts 
Al Capone Shines My Shoes (audiobook) 
On Becoming Baby Wise: Giving Your Infant the GIFT of Nighttime Sleep

            

Captive Thoughts

Lately it seems like I’ve had more opportunity to dwell on the wrong things and to let my thinking get out of line with the truth. For one thing, feeling nauseous constantly makes it really easy to slip into self-pity and ungratefulness. I’ve realized in fresh ways that it takes hard work and conscious effort to “take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). This is always true, but the issue of selfish thinking is more glaring when I’m faced with something difficult. 

For the past few weeks, I’ve been loving 1 John and 1 Peter for my quiet times. I like being able to grab one verse or passage that I try to take with me throughoutshoes the day. It’s what I go back to when I catch my thoughts drifting in a direction that does not bring glory to God.

I’ve also appreciated solid Christian music to fill my mind with truth. For a year or so now, I’ve listened to far less secular music because I find the uplifting, Scripture-filled quality of worship music to be so much more beneficial. (I haven’t gone cold turkey. I still enjoy Taylor Swift and others, but in moderation.) Earlier this morning I was struggling with a situation I am currently working through, and I was so thankful that the Lord brought Fernando Ortega’s musical rendition of Psalm 19:14 to my mind, which I sang as a prayer while I worked in the kitchen.

Let the words of my mouth
Be pleasing to You, pleasing to You
The meditation of my heart
Be pleasing to you, pleasing to You
Oh Lord, my strength
And my Redeemer

Right thinking does not come naturally to me, but it is so worth the effort to drag myself back to the Lord for the mind-makeover I need at every moment. When I draw near to Him, He is faithful to use His Word to encourage my heart and correct my thinking.

“I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.” (Ps. 119:11)