Library Review: Why Read?

I just got my very own library card! Woot woot!
I had one years ago as a kid, but it’s easily been over a decade since I’ve perused the shelves of my local library for literary treasures, and now I have three kids who all love books (although the youngest mostly likes to chew on them).

We picked some gems on our first outing to the local library, but I have to say, my kids’ tastes in books differ wildly from my own. Maybe they take after Daddy? Maybe they are just little? Who knows!

Here are the favorites from our first trip:

These were the instant favorites. Cute and funny! Both kids loved the Mo Willems book, my daughter loved the Olivia book, and my son loved Goose Needs A Hug.
These were the crowd pleasers. Everyone liked something about these two books, even baby Kristie!
This was by far the kids favorite book! They almost had it memorized by the time it was due! We even looked up videos of the real life sounds these animals make.

I love good books, I love to read, and I love to learn. Good books are a great step to having life long readers, and life long learners. My son is just learning the beginnings of letter sounds and that when you put those letter sounds together, you get words! He thinks it’s fascinating.

I don’t just think reading is important because I’m a mom, nor because I’m a teacher at heart (I did major in education). As a Christian, reading is crucial. Jesus is called The Word in John chapter 1. God has communicated through a book, the Bible. Reading is, quite literally, life and death.

My kids are just figuring out this truth. They see how our family prioritizes reading God’s Word most of all. They see me read my Bible everyday. We take the time to read The Big Picture Story Bible at dinner. We have Bible verses written out that we read and memorize together.

It’s important.

Read for God’s Glory, friends. Even when your reading Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? for the fiftieth time that day. 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria

A godly friend, like Paul

The women’s bible study at my church is going through Philippians right now, using Melissa Kruger’s book In All Things. It’s been such a blessing to have this reminder to rejoice in the Lord Jesus no matter what.

Why? Because he is greater, he is worthy, he is worth it, he is with us, he is the reason and the end of all things, he is good.

Could we with ink the ocean fill
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
Though stretched from sky to sky.

– “The Love of God is Greater Far” by Fredrick M. Lehman (1917)

I read though the entire book of Philippians just to refresh myself of the whole context of the book, even as we study it verse by verse. As I read, I was receiving texts from two girls. I pray for both these girls on a regular basis, and with their texts in my mind this verse of Philippians really popped out at me:

“Therefore. my brothers, whom I love and long for, my joy and my crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.” 
Philippians 4:1

Do you have friends you think of like this? Do you have friends who think of you in this way? Through out this little letter, Paul’s language shows that he really loved and cared for these people. 

It’s so interesting to note what Paul’s love for these people calls him to do, because it is so different from what the world says a true friend does. Paul encourages this church to stand firm in what they have believed about Jesus (that he is the only way of salvation), love one another, and rejoices even in their suffering.

Do we do this for our friends? Do we spur them on? Or do we pander them when they grumble? Do we actually talk with our friends about Jesus, about good theology, even in a casual way? Or do we “save” those conversations for the formal church setting?

Are we investing in the spiritual growth of our brothers and sisters in Christ? Are we allowing others to invest in us?

These are tough questions! They require messiness, uncomfortable conversations, personal sacrifice, and more! That’s hard friend, but that is what Jesus did for us (and more!), and that is what we, as believers, are called to. 

Let us, in the confidence we have in our savior Jesus Christ, Rejoice! Standing firm, united in love, and growing ever more like Jesus.

Soli Deo Gloria!

When the rain comes

These few months of “winter” here in southern California have proven to be a struggle for me and my kids. Between cold viruses and rainy days, we have been inside more than I would like.

Looking to Valentine’s day, I see more rain on the way, and I am super tempted to pout and complain.

Again? Really? Lord, do you know how hard it is to have three kids 3 and under in a two bedroom apartment? And now we can’t even go outside? I just know they are going to act out.

I’m tempted to not believe that God is good.
I’m tempted to not believe that God is sovereignly providing for me.
I’m tempted to not believe that God’s grace.
But! God is good. God is sovereignly providing. God is abundantly gracious!

Our Rainy/Valentine’s Day Plan:

1. “Mommy, let’s make a sheep.” My son has been asking this for a week, and I have been putting it off. He knows all the materials we need, I already checked, and we have all of them.

Sheep craft – materials:

  • Sheet of paper
  • Cotton balls
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Markers

2. I received an email from Education.com asking if I would be interested in sharing a Valentine’s day word tracer worksheet on my blog.

Here’s a note from those at Education.com :

Celebrate friendship all month long as you practice your writing skills with this Valentine word tracer. The fun can continue at Education.com with more learning activities.

Education.com has a ton of resources and ideas on Pinterest as well!

God provides! Usually in unexpected ways from unexpected sources.

When it rains or snows, even when we doubt, even when we disobey, God is still good, sovereign, gracious, and steadfastly faithful to love us.
God is the perfect Valentine.
Sounds a little cheesy, but it is in essence true!
God not only loves perfectly, God is love.

Be reminded of this sweet truth, friends, as I remind my own heart.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Anxiety, the gospel, and potty training

Today is Day One of potty training for me and my son. He’s 3 and 1/2. He’s plenty ready, but I’m a nervous wreck.

Why am I so anxious about potty training? I have 3 kids: a 3-and-1/2-year-old, a 2-year-old, and a 2-month-old. All are (obviously) in diapers. You’d think I’d be ecstatic about getting one if them out of diapers!
But I’m not.
I’ve been dragging my feet.
I’m forcing myself to do this.

You wouldn’t guess it looking at me! (Unless you’re my mom, or my hubby, or my sister 😉) I grew up performing, so I know how to “fake it ’til you make it”! On the outside: I’m excited, motivated, encouraging, and confident. All for my son’s sake!

On the inside: I’m nervous that I’ll fail. I’m afraid my son will have a bad experience, and be upset with me. I’m sad my baby is growing up! I’m also excited my baby is growing up! (The inner turmoil of a mom, right?!)

He’s my only son (so far 😉). He’s my first born. He’s the spitting image of my husband. I’m in a constant struggle between wanting him to become a grown, godly man, just like his daddy, and wanting to hold him forever. 💜

I think he’s barely a year old in this, maybe not even a year yet! Oh, be still my heart!

Potty training is just bringing all my anxieties and fears to the surface, I think. They were there the whole time, but didn’t have a chance to really show themselves. The heat is bearing down now!

I see my heart’s tendency, to be anxious, so today I am clinging (with all my might) to God’s grace, because I need it!

These are the Truths I am holding fast to:

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action and being sober-minded, set your hope on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
1 Peter 1:13

This should be the theme verse for all of babyhood and toddlerhood. So much of parenting at this stage is preparing ourselves for intense action! Midnight feedings, continual diaper changes, tantrums, potty training… the list goes on. These are all activities that require immediate action and continual readiness to jump right in! I love that this verse points to the future, to what is ultimate: Christ’s return, when all things will be made right. I need this reminder when I’m in the thick of things with my little ones. Especially today with our new adventure in potty training.

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.”
Lamentations 3:22-23

This is my go-to verse in my current stage of life. What a comfort this verse is! The promises here are so rich!

  • God’s love is steadfast.
  • God mercy is renewed for us each dawn.
  • God’s mercy is never ending.
  • God is always faithful.

These promises also highlight the reality that we are broken people and are none of these things.

  • Our love is fickle and short lived.
  • Our patience wears thin, and we are harsh rather than merciful.
  • Our mercy ends, or fails to even show up.
  • Our short term memory, and frail frame make us a faithless people.

BUT GOD!

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved-“
Ephesians 2:4-5

I am holding fast to the gospel!

Mommies need the gospel. We need it in our hearts and minds everyday. It’s incredibly practical! Because it puts every diaper change into perspective.

Let me say it again, not just for you, reader, but mostly for my own heart:

The Good News that we are sinners saved from punishment and death through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross, paying an eternal debt to an eternal God that we cannot pay, and saved to life “together with Christ” as Ephesians puts it, now in this earthly life by the ministry of the Spirit, and forever for eternity in heaven through Jesus with God the Father, makes the mundane tasks of each day not just worth it, but I am also able to glorify God in them because his Spirit enables me to serve others and God rather than my sinful self.

Read that again. and again. and again.

Remind yourself (and myself) everyday of this reality, believer. This is your reality. This is your life. This is why you can say “no” to being anxious, and “yes” to trusting in God in all things.

But before you or I begin to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps, or wash our face and put on the make-up of self-righteousness, let’s take a look at Scripture verses that tell us how we say “no” to anxiety, and “yes” to trusting God.

1. God is, powerfully, at work in us

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Philippians 1:6

2. God has given us instructions

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness, that the man [or woman] of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”
2 Timothy 3:16-17

3. God has given us a family. Don’t go it alone.

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
Hebrews 10:24-26

Reading to his 2-month-old baby sister. He loves his sisters sooooo much!

Let me conclude with this:
I am anxious about potty training. It is a challenge!
Parenting is hard! Having three kids as young and as close in age as I do, IS HARD!
But! God is in control. God is good. God is faithful. And, God is with me.

Deep breath.

“The LORD is my strength and my shield;
in him my heart trusts, and I am helped;
my heart exults,
and with my song I give thanks to him.”
Psalm 28:7

Soli Deo Gloria

Persuasion – When it hit a little too close to home

I picked up (or rather downloaded it to my Kindle) Jane Austen’s book Persuasion because, although I have read it before, I couldn’t remember anything about it. I tell you anything about the book or even who the characters were or anything! I either didn’t finish it before, or I really didn’t like it. So, I decided to read it again.

Well, I just finished it, and now I know why I didn’t remember it from before. Before getting married, I identified a lot with the main character, Anne. I identified with her personality, and her heartbreak. This made this book painful to read, and it’s happy ending unfulfilling and unbelievable.

During this second reading of the book, I did the hard work I didn’t want to do the last time I read it. That is, examine my heart. Why did this book bother me so much? Why was it so painful to read? Why was I letting this pain bother me so many years later? Certainly I am “over it”! (Spoiler alert: I wasn’t really over it in my heart.)

Find this book on Amazon

A quick summary of the book (so we are all on the same page):

Anne is the middle daughter of a baron. Her father and elder sister are obsessed with rank and status. Her younger sister is married, but her husband has no rank, only money.
Anne had been “attached” (that’s Austen-ese for “courting”) a man eight years prior to the book’s opening. He had no rank or money, but was just a low ranking officer in the Navy. Due to her youth, and his uncertain ability to provide well for her, she was persuaded by a dear friend to essentially break up with him. The friend believed that Anne was not worthy of him, and that being so young, a better offer would be coming her way soon (i.e. someone with equal or better rank and fortune to her father).
Anne never gets over the break up. She truly loved the man, and he loved her. She never gets a better offer.
When the book opens, she is living normal life when low and behold! HE walks back into her life. Drama, and emotional turmoil ensues for the entire length of the book, ending in a happy ending of Anne and HE getting together, engaged, and wed.

The first time:

In my original reading of the book, the emotion turmoil Anne experienced and the way she internalized all her thoughts, feelings, and pain, resonated with me deeply. I had done this. My own heartbreak was very different, there was never any attachment in my situation, my HE never felt the same way towards me that I felt towards him. Like Anne, however, I let it sit in my heart, fester, and ruin all other “possible happiness” – as Austen would put it – for several years. Our situations were different, but reading Anne’s feelings brought my own feelings to the surface again.

The second time:

This second time reading it (I just finished it yesterday), instead of remembering the plot, but I remembered how I felt before. This time, I could see through the fog of those deeply rooted, nasty, painful feelings.

I was bitter.

I had let heartbreak – a real, painful, unfair situation – dig into my heart and rule me. I let my feeling of bitterness towards this person for not loving me, rob me of the joy of loving others, harden me so as to keep me from being compassionate toward others, and keep me so focused on me that I would forfeit my college education – which my parents were paying for – to feel loved.

Reflecting now:

After reading, and enjoying, Persuasion, I see my younger self, and I am so sad. I am sad I let my feelings rule me. I am sad I wasn’t trusting God with my situation. I am sad I hurt so many people because I was focusing on myself.
But, I am also amazed. I am amazed my husband kept dating me even when I revealed my hurting, bitter heart! I am amazed that he married me! I am amazed that I am not that girl anymore. I am amazed that I didn’t do anything to deserve the love that helped me change. I am amazed by God’s grace that changed my bitterness into forgiveness, love, and joy. What He has promised to do He will do!

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”

I hope you are encouraged too!

Soli Deo Gloria!

The youngest Young

So so so thankful for the arrival of Kristen Pearl 💜

Safe and easy delivery, born in the afternoon of November 17th. Big brother and sister love her lots, and we are all adjusting to our new normal.

It’s chaotic, but also beautiful.

I cried about it last night actually. Sleep deprived + post partum hormones? Maybe, but also this reality hit me: she will never be this small again. This is a very special time. I can hold her this close, in this way for only a very short time. I remember holding Warren this way, and Eve too, thinking that same thought, “you will never be this small again”.

Every mom knows that pull between wanting to see your child grow and thrive, but also the longing for time to stop. Little hands, little cries, little worries, little blessings 💜

“The days are long, but the years are short”

I don’t know who said that first, but they are right. 9 -10 feedings in 24 hours makes for a long day, not including all the attention and demands of the two older kids too!

“But God…”

The two most beautiful and powerful words in the world! In these long days, I cling to that promise of God’s grace, mercy, and unthwartable plans are for my good and His glory.

Amen! Hallelujah!

Soli Deo Gloria

Trusting a Big God with Daily Details

“It’s just been a stressful week. I need some me-time.”
“It makes me a little anxious when I don’t know what’s going to happen next.”
“It’s finals week. I’m so stressed out!”
“I’m always worried about my kids, especially when they are sick. It’s a mom thing.”
“I’ve always been a worrier, my mom was too.”
“My in-laws are coming for the holidays. I’m nervous about what my mother-in-law will say about my food.”

Chances are you have heard or have said all these phrases, and others like them. They seem so natural, so normal, just something we feel – and say – without really realizing it. These situations and feelings are normal, they are a part of life, but I’m willing to bet that these feelings never stop at just a passing feeling.

That’s a problem.

God gave us our emotions. Fear and anxiety, therefore, are given to us by God and are meant to be used for good to glorify Him. This is the reason He gives us anything in life, for His glory.
So, where does the problem arise?
The problem is when the anxiety rules you.
God knows how prone we are to be ruled by things that are not Him, and that ultimately will not satisfy.
So, God has given us commands about anxiety in the positive and the negative.

The negative command: 

“Do not be anxious” – it’s a command, and it’s very simply stated in Matthew 6, Luke 12, and Philippians 4. Do not do it.

Here’s the cool part, God does not give the negative command without a positive one, that is, something to do instead of being anxious.

The positive command:

Matthew 6 and Luke 12 say: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33 – emphasis added); “Instead, seek his kingdom…” (Luke 12:31a)
Philippians 4 says: “… but in everything with prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

These passages give us real, practical ways to fight those anxious feelings when they arise.
We are to seek God’s kingdom, seek God’s righteousness, and pray.

Seek God’s Kingdom

What is God’s Kingdom? The phrase is used many times by Jesus in the gospels. It’s used in reference to eternal life in heaven with God, or to belonging to God’s people, the only way to attain eternal life in heaven with God through Jesus. In a nutshell, seeking God’s Kingdom is seeking the gospel. Preach the gospel to yourself! Remind yourself of who Jesus Christ is, the life He lived, the death He died to purchase your salvation, and His resurrection that is your hope!

Seek God’s Righteousness

What is God’s Righteousness? This is the action we make, the heart change we pursue, the path we take in light of the gospel. This is Sanctification, the pursuit of godliness, Christ-likeness, holiness. We need to continually pursue it. We fail, we forget, we sin. God is faithful, gracious, and merciful to His children. I find so much comfort then in the word “seek”. It has the idea of continual renewal, not in the thing being sought, but the seeker. We often need to be refreshed, reminded, to get back on track. It reminds me of the words from the hymn Come Thou Fount: “Bind my wandering heart to Thee… Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it. Prone to leave the God I love”.

Pray

Countless pages, articles, posts, and books have been written on the importance of prayer. Here in the very Word of God, we have the direct command to pray rather than worry. Paul, through the gracious inspiration of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t stop at “pray” either. He says that those very things that we are anxious about we are to present before the throne of our Heavenly Father through prayer. The verse is very detailed about this prayer. It’s not just a prayer about the big things, no, it says “in everything“. Everything! Big, small, short-term, life-long, all of it! Pray to the Father about all your worries! With thanksgiving. What can a worried heart be thankful for? The fact that the God of the universe longs for you to trust to Him about your daily struggles, because He loves you! Prayer should not be intimidating. You have nothing to prove before God. He loved you, chose you, and sent His Son to die for you before you were even conceived! You did nothing to attain the position you have as His child, so your humble, mumbly prayer isn’t going to mess it up. Pray!

Need more convincing?
Let’s look at Philippians 4:6 & 7

6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Verse 7 is a promise. It isn’t magic. It’s not saying, “Pray and God guarantees peace forever, no more anxiety for you!” No, not the case.
This is what the promise says, “Pray, trust me with this completely, and I will give you peace in this. This peace will guard you from anxiety, as you abide in Christ Jesus, through whom you come before my throne.” That’s a much richer promise than the magic-prayer version. This promise has a condition, we need to trust Him completely. When we worry, we are taking back some of that trust. We are telling God that we can’t trust Him fully, but need to keep some of this issue for ourselves. This is how anxiety rules us, because we try to be God, and we are not! We will fail every time.

Why can God promise us peace? Because He is sovereign and He is good.
God is perfectly in control of all things. Big and small. He’s got it. We can trust someone like that.
God is perfectly good, and as His children, He is working out all things in our lives for our good.

Why does God do all of this? The answer for this question is found in those last three words of Philippians 4:7, “in Christ Jesus”. Why did Christ come? To glorify God. It wasn’t about us! It’s always been about God’s glory. Thank goodness it’s not about us! If it was, these commands, and subsequent promise of peace would fall flat. Since everything is rooted in an eternal God, who is orchestrating all things to glorify Himself, these commands, and – more amazingly – this promise of peace is concrete.
It’s trustworthy, it’s guaranteed, it’s as good as done.

The next time you feel stressed out, worried, nervous, or anxious, think about this reality of promised peace, pursue obeying these commands, and actively put your trust our good God.
Feelings will come and go, but our God is steadfast and faithful.

Come Thou Fount - Blog and Pin.jpg

 

Soli Deo Gloria