Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Can Your Husband Trust You In These Areas?

With money:
Our husbands should be able to trust us with our

spending habits. We should be looking for ways to save and bless our homes financially. A frugal wife is a good wife. Does your husband have to wonder if you are buying things behind his back? Can he trust that you will always do your best to save when going to the store or mall?

With his reputation: How do you speak about your husband when he is not around? Can he trust that you will always do your best to speak only of his strengths and not of his weaknesses? The one exception for this is of course biblical counseling where you can share, still with respect, your husband's weaknesses/areas to improve in. Another way for him to trust you with his reputation is to remember that you represent him. You took his last name and in doing so your actions are attached to him. Two become one flesh. When in public keep in mind that his reputation is following you. Represent him well.

With your children: Can your husband trust that you are teaching your children in the ways of the Lord? If you home school your children, can he trust that you are being diligent in their educations? Does he trust that they will be more like Christ because they are with you? Mothers predominantly spend more time with their children than the fathers do and because of this your husband needs to be able to trust you with them. His heart should be able to rest when he goes to work in the morning knowing that they are in good hands.

With your time: This is a biggie. Can your husband trust that you will make the best of your time while he is away? Do you look for ways to bless him? Do you seek to keep the home in a fashion that is pleasing to him so that when he returns from work he is encouraged? Can he trust that you will not be selfish with your hours and spend them wisely or does he have to wonder if you will watch hours of television, talk on the phone endlessly or surf facebook all day? Can your husband trust you with how you invest your time?

With your thoughts: What do you think about? This is something your husband cannot see. This is something he has to fully trust you in. Do you purpose to think well of him? Do you pray for him, or do you constantly push rewind on all the things he does wrong? Does your mind wander to other men that would make better husbands or "the guy" you should have married? Don't go there ladies. All things start in the mind. Take your thoughts captive to Christ and make sure your husband can trust you with your thought life.

With his preferences: As wives we are called to submit to our husband. We are called to adapt to them. Can your husband trust that you are committed to this? Can he trust that you are making his preferences your preferences or do you make him feel stupid because he wants the shoes all put away or because he likes a certain area in the living room to be clutter free or because he wants the carport kept tidy? Don't make your husband feel like an inconvenience. Adapt to him. Make him feel like he can trust that while he is away at work you are doing your best to make his preferences your priorities.

With his heart: Can your husband trust you with his heart? Many men are afraid to truly share how they are feeling with their wives because they know it will turn into a fight or lecture. Can your husband trust you with his deepest thoughts? Can he feel safe when sharing with you how he truly feels or does he never venture there because you are more like his mother than his spouse? We should all be best friends with our spouses and one of the most important ways to be more of a friend to our husbands is to make them feel like they can trust us with their hearts.

"The heart of her husband trusts in her..." Proverbs 31:11

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Learn To Suffer Well

I have discovered the secret to a happy life and I am pretty sure Joel Osteen would not agree with me. Here it is: learn to suffer well! The secret to a happy life is not to avoid suffering but to rejoice in it.

Anyone, whether a Christian or not, can be joyful when times are good... Anyone can be happy when circumstances are "just as they should be"... but it takes a Christian with deep and firm trust in the Lord to suffer well. It takes a Christian whose eyes and heart are fixed on Christ to smile in the midst of suffering.

I don't like to suffer. In fact my flesh hates it and continually craves to escape it's claws. But my spirit, who I am in Christ, beckons me to rejoice in my suffering and to count it all joy when I fall into various trials. This goes against everything in our old man and in our culture. Our old man and culture want comfort and security more than anything. God calls us to find our comfort and security in Him and not in our circumstances. This calling is only possible when we have truly surrendered to His will for our lives and when we have completely committed to setting our eyes on things above, not on things on the earth.

Recently, 6 weeks ago, I gave birth to my fifth child. What a joy my sweet Chloe is to me! But my pregnancies and postpartum recovery are not so joyous. They include lots of suffering and trials. I am sick my entire pregnancy, and then after nine months of nausea, I give birth only to feel like I am heading into a pit of anxiety and depression I can't get out of. My anxiety after birth is through the roof and I am crying up to 10 times a day... I had a dear friend come over recently and say to me: "Are you sure it's God's plan for your life to keep having children?! It's so hard for you!" I looked at her and said: "If you can find anywhere in the bible where it says that suffering and hardship are bad I will reconsider." But you can't find it. Nope. Instead you find that God uses suffering and hardship big time for our good. I enjoy those "happy go lucky" seasons just like everyone else but I know God does a lot more sanctifying through those trials and desperate times. 

I started asking myself, could Satan accuse me, like he did Job, of only praising God because things are going good? Could he say I only give thanks because I am not suffering?

"'Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.'" Job 1:9-11

In other words, Satan said: "Job only loves you because you have made his life comfy. If you brought great trials into his life surely his faith would be shaken and he would curse you and no longer praise you." But Satan was wrong.

Would Satan be wrong about you? If he accused you as he did Job, would his accusation be unfounded? Do you give thanks in all circumstances or do you give thanks in your preferred circumstances?

"...give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." 1 Thess. 5:18

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

"...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." Rom. 5:3-5

God has a great purpose for us in calling us to rejoice in our suffering and in calling us to count our trials as joys and here is the purpose: the more we practice rejoicing in suffering and counting it all joy to fall into VARIOUS trials and the less we practice moaning, groaning, whining, complaining and worrying in the midst of suffering, the more we will grow in our faith and the more endurance, patience and hope we will have! 

As we cling to Christ in the midst of tears our faith will grow and our hope increase!

Besides, Jesus Himself suffered GREATLY! Why should we be above suffering if God Himself came and suffered? 

"He, for the joy [of obtaining the prize] that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising and ignoring the shame, and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God." Heb. 12:2

"During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." Heb. 5:7-9

Christ's life was filled with persecution, abandonment, homelessness and great physical suffering. Notice how it says He endured the cross for the joy set before Him! It doesn't say He enjoyed the cross because He liked to suffer. No. He endured it because of what the cross meant. The cross and His suffering, meant YOUR salvation! His suffering meant hope for all mankind!

You and I are called to endure, to count it all joy and to rejoice in suffering, not because of the suffering itself but because of what the suffering produces
. God accomplishes great things in suffering that never come out of joyful/easy/comfortable times, seasons and circumstances.

If you want a truly happy life, one that is happy in all seasons of life, learn to suffer well. Whatever suffering you are experiencing today, or in this season of life, remember to rejoice, to count it all joy and to endure it because you trust in the God Who is going to bring mighty things out of it. Your suffering will bring endurance, character, hope, maturity and perseverance and that is worth rejoicing in!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Talking to Myself 40 Years From Now

Life goes fast. Children grow up fast. That's what everyone says... And yet days can go by so slow and I can take this time for granted...

Sometimes you'll hear people talk about going back and talking to their younger self and what they would say and how they would instruct them... Sometimes I picture my older self talking to me now... What would I say? How would I instruct me? I'm guessing it would look something like this:

"Put your phone down."

"Close your computer."

"Go outside with the kids."

"Enjoy your children! Play with them more. Hug them more. Read to them more."

"Turn around and look Johnny in the eyes when he is talking to you."

"Hold Chloe close. She will only be this small for a few months of her life."

"Be understanding with Ricky. He's sensitive and needs you to be gentle."

"Watch Charis. Take mental pictures of her at this age. She is so cute and fun and will never be two again!"

"Encourage Rhea. Play another UNO game with her. I know you hate that game but she loves it and it means a lot to her."

"Sigh less and sing more."

"Help your husband. You are first called to be his helper. Don't ever treat him as an inconvenience. Helping him is your main calling."

"Don't nit pick but be picky about your battles with your husband. Make being married to you an enjoyable experience."

"Bite your tongue."

"Speak kindly."

"Remember, you set the tone for the home. Choose joy. Choose love. Deny yourself. Your children will look back and remember you as a joyful mama rather than a bitter, grumpy one."

"It's not that big of a deal." (whatever I'm making a big deal out of usually isn't).

"Exalt Christ in your day to day life. Don't look for 'big spiritual opportunities' to shine for Him. It is in the everyday that He is glorified the most."

"Show your children what it means to love God. Read His Word more and people's words less."

"Smile more."

"Pray more."

"Love more."

Father, help me to take my own advice. Help me to fully embrace and enjoy this season I am in RIGHT NOW. Help me to not take all of this for granted.

How about you? What do you think your future self would say to your current self?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Our Current Morning Routine

What do your mornings look like?

How our mornings go will often determine if we will have a productive day or not.

Our mornings used to be very loosey-goosey. We would get up lounge around, eat breakfast (at different times), I would sip on coffee, read my bible and then play on the computer (by play I mean check facebook and read blogs), the kids would run around playing... no one got dressed... no chores got done and by 11 a.m. I was feeling overwhelmed and like I "can't get it all done!"

"There are fewer interruptions in the mornings" I thought. "Why don't we do as much as we can then so that I don't feel like pulling my hair out in the afternoon/evening when numerous interruptions come up?!" So I did. I made a SIMPLE routine for us that works FOR NOW. I say "for now" because I am sure it will change/be added to as the months go on. For now, I have five kids seven and under with a newborn and so this is the morning routine that works currently.

Wake up (usually around 8)

Eat breakfast-All of us together. Usually something simple like peanut butter toast. Do bible study around the table, usually led by Daddy. 

After breakfast the kids put their dishes in the sink and empty the dishwasher.

When the dishwasher is emptied Johnny (age 4) makes the kids' beds and gets dressed. Rhea (age 7) picks up the room (including putting her clothes away), gets dressed and brushes her hair. Ricky (age 6) picks up the room as well, putting his clothes away and gets dressed. I am usually cleaning the kitchen and loading the dishwasher while they do this.

Then, we all head downstairs for homeschooling. This is usually around 9:30 or so. Much better than trying to start schooling at 11!

Ricky is currently doing 2-4 pages in his workbooks (I use ACE curriculum for Ricky and Rhea and LOVE it) and Rhea is doing 4-6 pages in her workbooks (she is about to finish up her second grade curriculum and start third! In the middle of January! Another thing I love about homeschooling is the ability to go at your child's pace). Johnny (age 4) and I do some preschool work while Charis runs around and does cute stuff.

That's it. Pretty simple, but efficient.

After schoolwork Ricky and Rhea do their piano work, we eat lunch, finish up chores (cleaning living room, kitchen, laundry) and then they have free time/PE outside.

How about you? What is your morning routine? Any tips for moms with lots of littles?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Stay At Home Mom Who Doesn't Stay Home

I have often heard that stay at home moms get a hard time for "just staying at home." But I would say most of us stay at home moms aren't really staying at home very much. It seems now we are busier than ever and our homes are not what they should be. We also have these crazy things called automobiles and automobiles bring a lot more temptations and possibilities out there to make us want to venture outside our four walls often... probably more often than we should.

First I would like to give a disclaimer. There is nothing wrong with going places, going out with friends, shopping etc. The problem is, for many stay at home moms, home is no longer where they are spending most of their time. Our homes are losing out because our hearts are wandering and longing for more than "just keeping the home." I believe God will guide you and convict you. It is of utmost importance that we are sensitive to the Spirit's leading in this and that we stay home more if that is what He wants of us.

I am finding that my desire to leave home is decreasing greatly with each child. Homeschooling, laundry, keeping the home, playing with my children, praying with them, training them, cooking... all these things take lots of time and even more so as God adds more children to our family.

In many ways stay at home moms can become busybodies, but not busy in their homes as the Lord would want. This verse, talking about women, describes perfectly what I am saying: "Besides, they get into the habit of being idle and going about from house to house. And not only do they become idlers, but also busybodies who talk nonsense, saying things they ought not to." (1 Tim. 5:13) Some of us "stay at home" moms are in the habit of being idle and going from house to house... or store to store... or event after event.

There are always things out there to distract us from our homes ladies! Be on guard. Be aware. Pray and ask the Lord how He would have you spend your time. How would God say we are doing in our "employment" as stay at home moms? Are we treating it as our profession and making it a priority or do we look for ways to "get out of work?" I know when I am "out and about", even for just one day, that I get behind. But when I purpose to stay home and focus on the tasks at hand I find I am able to keep my head above water.

One practical way to limit outings is to be picky and purposeful in what you and your children do outside the home. Some families spend way more time outside the four walls of their house than in their house. Our homes should be a place of refuge and togetherness, not just a place we land to go to sleep.

Scott and I are not doing any sports right now with the children and I think that helps with our time together at home. Homeschooling obviously contributes greatly to me staying at home. Shopping once a week rather than multiple times a week helps too.

You can also be at home and not really be AT HOME. When you are on the phone it's as if you aren't there. To me, to be "at home" means to be completely available to your home and the people in it. When we are on facebook or blogging our minds are distracted as well. It takes intention not only to be physically at home but emotionally too!

A true "stay at home mom" sees the home as her primary place of influence. She invests in it and her family more than anything or anyone else. God is able to give us great contentment in our homes if we seek it because He desires for us to be "keepers of them" (Titus 2:5) and as we obey Him with a cheerful and thankful heart, contentment will follow.

"Father, I know Your Word calls me to manage my home, to be busy there and to keep it well. Please remind me of these truths when my heart and mind are tempted to wander and covet what others do. Stir in me a greater desire to be at home and enjoy this sphere of influence You have called me to! Thank you for the privilege of being a stay at home mom. I pray I would grow to appreciate it more and more each day. Help me to never be like the woman in Proverbs 7:11 which says: '
She is loud and wayward; her feet do not stay at home...' Remind me of the benefits of my feet staying at home."

Friday, January 2, 2015

My Second Homebirth

I did it again. I can't believe it. Up to the last week before I had my second homebirth I was contemplating how great it would be to get an epidural... My little loves due date came and went. November 30th my baby was due and I kept saying: "plan for December 6th". Well, guess what? My little baby girl, Chloe Marie, was born on December 6th at 12:05 a.m.!

It was a Friday. My day began with story time at the library. Me, my sister and her kids and my four littles walked over to the library across the street at 10 a.m. and participated in story time/craft time. On the walk home with my sister I said: "Man, sorry I'm walking so slow these contractions are holding me up." They didn't feel like "real labor" contractions... but they were enough to make me want to walk slow.

The rest of daylight was pretty uneventful. Minor contractions when I moved around a lot, but nothing consistent....UNTIL about 5 p.m. I was making the kids some food and pausing for contractions. I told Scott: "Hmmm, these ones feel different..." His excited response: "Well, is it the real deal?!" Me: "Nah, I doubt it." He went to the gym. I texted him and said: "I think we are going to have to cancel dinner with that family...I might go into labor tonight!" He wrote them and they were understanding :)

At about 6 p.m. I called my inlaws and asked them to take the kids. I was starting to think "tonight's the night" but still afraid to completely admit it. Scott took the kids to his parents house and I vacuumed :)

At about 8 p.m. I still "wasn't sure"... why do I do that?! I just don't want to get my hopes up I guess.

I started singing during my contractions (something I used to make fun of). Here is a video of me singing to my sweet Chloe out of the womb the same song I sang to her during labor. The verse of this song was perfect because it takes about 45 seconds to sing and that's how long my contractions were and besides that I love that song, it ALWAYS ministers to me.

Scott would come in and be like: "This is it right?!" Finally, around 9 p.m., I said "Yep! My water just broke!" At the peak of one of my contractions I felt this crazy POP and my water broke. I texted my midwives and let them know and told them I would text them when things got crazy... but they decided to come anyway (and I'm glad they did!). They arrived at about 9:30 p.m.

Daddy got to hold her right after they cut the cord.

a picture of me holding Chloe moments after birth.
First picture of all five children together.
I continued to sing through contractions and labored in my bed in the dark. It was peaceful. At about 10:30 p.m. I decided it was time to get in the tub (which is code for: "I can't handle these contractions anymore without the warm water!"). I got in and felt immediate relief. In my first homebirth with Charis I didn't say one word to my midwives the whole labor... I think because I was in such shock with how terrible it was... it was my first full natural birth (I labored 12 hours with Rhea with no epidural but the labor overall was 18 hours). With Chloe's birth though I knew what I was in for and I talked to my midwives in between contractions asking: "What do I need to do to get this going faster?" They told me the more that I got out and walked around the better. They also told me to sit on the toilet backwards and rest my head on a pillow on the back of the toilet...ay-yi-yi... ouchie...hurt...pain... you get the point. Those contractions threw me into throwing up mode and made my whole body shake. Not fun, but they made things go faster. Mission accomplished.

At about 11:45 p.m. I was ready to start pushing. I expected it to go EXACTLY like it did with Charis (Don't do that with birth... ever, ever, ever...just like children, each one is unique and different). It felt like I was pushing against a brick wall... like something was blocking her... the midwives thought maybe her arm was positioned above her head... not sure. It was WAY more painful than my pushing was with Charis. My midwives were champs and helped me all along the way and little Chloe bug entered the world at 12:05 a.m. on December 6th! She actually came out and didn't breathe for a bit so one of my midwives did mouth to mouth on her a couple of times and she perked right up. One of my very favorite things about homebirth is the lack of chaos... the calm... the flow... I have a feeling if I were in the hospital there would have been major panic.

I got to hold her for quite a while (lost track of time) until they cut the cord (another thing I love about homebirth is how long they leave the cord attached!). Afterwards I got to get in my own shower and go to my bedroom where they weighed and measured her (8 lbs 12oz, 20 in.) and I got to go to bed IN MY OWN BED!

Birth isn't fun. But since it is inevitable when having a baby I will choose to have them at home :)