Sunday, June 1, 2014

Lies from the Enemy While in the Trenches of Motherhood

Can I just start off by saying something guys?  Motherhood is hard.  Like the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, and it comes so quickly with almost no training that at times I feel like I am floundering.  Like I am failing.  Like I will never get this thing right and I'll raise hoodlums who don't love Jesus and a slew of other things.  Like seriously I am terrified.

Right now in my life I have an incredibly strong-willed three year old who's most favorite thing to do in all the land is argue.  With anyone. Or anything. Mainly with me. And that just doesn't fly.  I wasn't like that as a kid and it doesn't make sense to me why a little person would question everything I do, say, ask, etc.  It can lead to the butting of heads and many corrections for said little guy.  I also have a one year old, who is a mama's boy through and through, and right now whines anytime I walk into the room for a slew of reasons.  I am not holding him, he needs me to watch him, he wants what brother has, etc.  Going anywhere is rough, some times I pray that nap time comes soon.  My house is a disaster and I feel like I have no clue what I am doing for dinner most weeks.  I am trying to stay ahead but not really doing it in the process.

This is real life folks.  Life with a mama of littles and no bigs.  A life I feel I am not alone in. But here's the kicker. My husband and I know that the Bible says children are a BLESSING, a reward from Heaven.   "Blessed is a man whose quiver is FULL of them."  I don't know about you, but that sounds like more than just two kids to me.  But where I am right now in life the thought of having more than two scares me, like the ever-loving begeebus out of me.  I honestly question how I will make it without turning into this really mean mom who her kids hate and don't want to be around.  And at 10 weeks pregnant with my third baby this isn't really the place I want to be at mentally.  Wondering how I am going to get it all done and how I am going to have what it takes to train up my kids in the way they should go, so they are not only nice, kind, and caring but have grace, compassion, and love our savior.

I think this is right where the devil wants us moms of littles.  To feel the task at hand is too overwhelming, that maybe the Bible didn't mean what it said, that how can this be a blessing in our lives when all I feel like exhaustion and defeat?  The enemy uses all means necessary to do this, even those that don't really know what they are doing. For example tonight we went out to eat with my parents and grandparents after having spent a weekend at the lake with Mark's family, so we were all pretty worn out.  Of course Reid and Owen where less than perfect.  Whiney, stubborn, defiant, clingy, goofy, all of it.  Just the way children act.  At one point I was trying to watch a video on a phone but I couldn't get through it without both of them wanting to see it, hold it, crawling all over my lap trying to catch a glimpse of what mama was checking out.  On two separate occasions my dad and grandfather both said things to the affect of "what are you going to do when you got four more of them like that?"  Knowing how tired and just out of gas we all were I really couldn't believe they said it.  Or maybe it just really hurt.  I just looked at them both and said "I'll have lots of fun" and kept on going.

Their comments made me feel like a failure, that I couldn't control my kids, that I shouldn't have more than two even though we are pregnant with our third.  It left me feeling that somehow I am not going to make it and all these happy, larger than average families that I see on social media must have a mama who is a saint because I am certainly not doing it right.  As I cried on the way home I prayed that I would do better as a mom, that I would show love and mercy and compassion to my children instead of annoyance and anger.  That God would reveal to me the way to train them and the tools to use so they would look more like him the older they get.  And that the lies of the enemy would stay far from my mind, that even if he used my family, I would choose joy and I would choose to believe what the bible says versus the world.  Moms of littles it is hard, and I don't know when or if it gets easier, but I have decided to stick it out for the long haul and to watch God make good on His promise.  We are not alone, we have warrior Jesus who loves our children and us more than we could know.  He desires us to succeed and He alone can help us get there.  I trust Him and His word, because without it, what hope do I have?

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Centrality of the Home in Evangelism and Discipleship

The title of my post is probably one that many of you recognize from a  sermon by the same name by Pastor Voddie Baucham.  If you have not heard it I highly recomend going here now and listening to it when you get a chance.  I can really pinpoint a turning in my  heart towards the life of a stay at home mom with the moment I heard this message.  It started the process of me and later my husband thinking that maybe we have thought about church all wrong.  He was the youth minister at the time, which made us really reevaluate what we believed.

There are so many important topics covered in 37 minutes in the message but the one I have felt drawn to lately is the call to have children, and more than the average number.  I won't recount the whole message here, you really should go listen to it yourself, for he gives the points so eloquently.  Listening to this message again after not having heard it in over a year, a new point stuck out to me, the command  God gave to Israel whenever they were in a pagan land. Voddie used different scriptures to show us that God told them to be fruitful and multiply greatly for the purpose that they would not be overtaken.  As a result thi became one of their greatest strengths, the sheer number of people who were a part of the nation!!!!

America's birthrate (at the time of the message) is 2.1 and falling.  Replacement rate (the rate in which you need to have children to sustain your culture) is 1.4.  American's are in danger of losing our culture and we don't even realize it, and what is worse is Christians are no better.  We are not having any more kids than the average American family outside the church.  Some of you may not think it is a big deal, but in reality this is incredibly terrifying.  Here is why, Voddie brings it home with an illustration using France which I believe he says has a birthrate of 1.5.  While French families aren't having enough children to replace their culture,  Muslim immigrants are, having a birth rate of around 6 children per family.  What this means is "in two generations France will be a Muslim nation by sheer numbers alone. Why? Because they want prosperity more than they want children. And it is the same for us."

If that doesn't scare you as a Christian I don't know what does.  We are no better than the rest of the world, no better!  Voddie goes on to say "You want to avoid disappearing in the midst of a pagan culture? Out breed them."  He reprimands the church (he is speaking at a Southern Baptist Convention that is full of pastors) for having an attitude towards children that is unbiblical and looks the same to those that are on the outside looking in.  He tells them their attitude from the pulpit on the subject of children is why people in the pews aren't having more kids! The statistic that it takes two Christians families to get one Christian family into the next generation is staggering and a major problem. However, there is a solution and Voddie takes the word of God and gives us the answer, the way to plug the proverbial  hole in the bottom of the bucket.

"It starts with us. And it all goes back to prosperity. The poorest nations in the world see children as a blessing. The richest nation in the world, we talk about children in terms of how many we can afford. God help us. We are dying one generation at a time because we refuse to receive the gift that God wants to bring through the womb.  Our attitudes. God says, "You want to continue to be my people? You do two things. Number one, you gladly receive these blessings that I give you called children. And, number two, you disciple them in your homes so that they don’t look like the culture around them.'"

Because of this message my husband and I have changed our view of children.  They are not just something you do, a tag along, or even a dream to be fulfilled.  No, there is a purpose to having children, and it is to advance the gospel!  Selfishly we have both said having more seems like a lot of work, effort, time, energy, and everything else that has to do with me and how I feel.  But it's not about me, or you, and that is not what we are called to do.  We are called to daily die to ourselves and do what God has commanded us to do, not matter what our flesh would like to do otherwise.  Chidlren are a blessing, they are not a curse, not something to be endured, not a trophy on the wall.  We must listen to God and what He says in His word, less Christianity be a forgotten religion here on American soil.  


Feminism Creeping In

Tonight at my new small group (more on that later), an unmarried man made a comment about a local seminary having a homemaking undergraduate degree.  Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth Texas indeed does have a homemaking certificate girls can receive if they choose to go through the course.  It is something the Seminary has received a lot of flack (for lack of a better word) over and have  to really had to defend themselves on.  The president of the seminary's wife heads up this department, and before you think she is "just a crazy homemaking mom" you need to know she "received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a Masters of Theology (Th.M.) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) from Luther Rice Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology (D.Theol.) from the University of South Africa."  Needless to say she is incredibly educated, but the thing she treasures most is being a good helpmeet to her husband, mother to her kids, and grandmother.  

Back to my story with this gentleman that kept saying things to the tune of "I don't know why they do that!  That is the weirdest and worst thing I've ever heard" so on and so forth.  I didn't really know what to do.  While I didn't attend the undergraduate classes nor do I have the certificate, I did attend the first ever Homemakers Conference they held this past year (of which the Duggars were the headlining guests) and absolutely loved it.  I told him as much but never got a chance to say how God has so changed my heart and my perspective on this matter that I hardly recognize my former self. 

In this room there were 3 other women along with myself and although I should have been ready for it, I couldn't believe that they were in agreement with the gentleman who made the statements.  They laughed and said "yeah, why would somebody do that?" "They do what?"  "It is kind of like that movie Mona Lisa's Smile, where these incredibly smart girls' goal is to go to college to become married."  My heart was hurt by the fact these girls didn't get it, they don't see the beauty and the necessity of learning how to keep a home and what a dying art this is.  The fact that Southwestern even has a program is fascinating and I say "bravo."  Here is the link to the catalog which describes the classes that need to be taken in order to gain a homemaking certificate.

As I sat there listening to these people talk I just kept thinking to myself "You really have no idea how much you have let feminism creep into your thoughts and lives.  So much so you don't even recognize it when it is blatantly in front of your face and on your tongue."  I wanted to sit them all down and show them scriptures that support a woman being at home, and doing her job well, a husband being the provider, and the joy there is in these two things when they go hand in hand.  I hate how engrained feminism is now in not only our culture, but in our churches.  I wish it was preached about more, talked about, encouraged, and trained.  I wish I had known what I know now when I was younger, that iI would have grown up with this mindset! This is  now SUCH a passion of mine and I don't really know where I fit now.  I want others to join me but I kind of feel I am blazing a lonely trail.

Right now it seems I am in a crossroads and I don't really know what to do about it.  I want to jump off into homemaking, homeschooling, home- everything, oblivion and just completely go into the deep end.  I don't know the middle ground of where I feel comfortable and where I will feel like "Yes, this is where God wants us to be on this journey."   I do know however, He has been so good to lead my husband and I to do things differently thus far, and I am excited to see what else He has in store.  I was listening to an old praise song and the chorus immediately spoke to my heart for this time in my life.  It said  
I have not been called 
to the wisdom of this world.
But to a God 
who is calling out to me.
And even though the world may think
I'm losing touch with reality
It would be crazy 
to choose this world over eternity.

"Crazy" by Mercy Me

More than anything I want to hear "Well done good and faithful servant" when I get to heaven, but I know I have made it there quite yet, I am still on the journey.  A journey that is so new and invigorating to me.  I am so very open right now though to where God wants to take us that it excites me.  I don't care who thinks I am crazy, because I choose eternity.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Feeling Alone (with family 200 yards away)

So this week I have been really struggling. I currently only have two children, but definitely feel as if I am in the throws of motherhood. I am so glad to be staying home with my babies, don't get me wrong, but sometimes I get tired.  Maybe let me back up some.  Right now I feel like God is really working on our family. We are I the beginning of child training, and I mean really training, with my oldest is only 3.  This is really a time that you really don't want to mess up.  I feel like this is a place that really pushes you to try, give it all you've got, to really seek the best avenue,  because there are no do-overs.  God has been changing my husband and me ever since my first son was born on various things like our view of children, family size, schooling, child training, church, and so much more that I now almost don't even recognize us.

We have made these changes, and have met  a few friends choosing a similar path along the way, which is lovely.  However the people that have not really caught up yet is my family.  Don't get me wrong they are the sweetest people in the world, they just don't think like we do.  Currently my husband and I feel they have the view "well this is the choice you made so lie in it."  My mom didn't stay home, they thought I was crazy for not teaching, and I don't think they understand why we would wants more kids when I am already running ragged with the two I have.  They literally live 200 yards away,  but I try to limit our visits because I feel like a burden or nuisance when we are there.  While eating with extended family yesterday and my three year old is being a three year old, I jokingly tell them Reid can ride home with them, my dad makes the joke "And that's why you only have 2, Kristen." While my husband and I kind of tried to chuckle it off, it really hurt more than they know.  We desire them to see children, more than the average number of children, a large family, as a blessing from The Lord.  To see that even though I made the choice to stay at home, I still wouldn't mind them taking the kids for a few hours to give me some downtime.  I know I deserve none of this, and I am grateful for the times they have done this in the past, but I am noticing it isn't something they want as much anymore.

Honestly, most of this is from exhaustion from my husband working the past two weekends as well as the weekdays, so I really haven't gotten a "break".  Some of it is pent up hurt of realizing that while God is changing our hearts, He is not necessarily working on the hearts of those around us to view children as a blessing, as well as a full out, exhausting at times, ministry.   That right now we are forging our own way through, and hopefully life will catch the others up eventually.

I also know that I need to be a blessing to them, even if I feel like they aren't interested in me. I need to search out ways to serve my parents, maybe even along with my children.  I must not have this "I'll prove you wrong" attitude that is plaguing me.  Because the best way to see my parents as a blessing (of which they most definitely are, in so many many ways) is to be a blessing to them.  The only way to shift my focus from "woe is me" is to turn it outwards to see who else in my life could use a helping hand or a little encouragement.  It is time for me to get off myself and to turn my focus to serving others, along with my children.  Time to lay down my life, even more, so I can find it in return

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Stomach Bug that Wouldn't Go Away and a Dumpter Dive Table

Hello everyone from what feels like a very long time in between posts! It really has been and while, with the reason being the nasty stomach bug that seemed to have overtaken everyone (at least in our little neck of the woods).   I was not only physically drained but emotionally drained as well.  Whatever this bug was, it was a nasty one, one that you thought you had eradicated, only to be surprised by random vomit 24-36 hours later.  I have never washed so many sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters, toys, counters, mattresses, floors, in my life!  And all of those things were washed MULTIPLE times!!!! All in all it lasted about 2 weeks start to finish and ran through our entire house.  My oldest got it the worst, he has a sensitive gag reflex anyway and through up 25 times between lunch and 4, 15 of those being within the first hour or so of coming ill.  I am hoping that stays far away from us for a long time.

Other than going stir crazy for the past few weeks things here have been relatively quiet around here.  We had a cold snap that resulted in a semi thick layer of ice, followed by beautiful weather in the 70s with sunshine!  This is the beauty of living in Texas.  It is something I used to hate so much as a kid, when it was winter, I wanted it to be winter.  And up until this year I have felt the same.  However with two small children in the house I was getting antsy to be able to get outside!  Luckily we met up with friends a lot and got out when we could.  I am grateful that even at it's coldest it was no lower than 20 something during the day.

One particular day that it snowed, we were all in the car, driving to find the big flakes, that were nonexistent by the time we got to our destination.  However on our way back my wonderful hubby spotted what appeared to be a table top in what I am going to call the town burn pile.  It is a burn pile off the high way (I know, we like to keep it classy here) and apparently someone had dumped this table along with the leaf and legs!  I have been wanting to find a table we could make into a farm house table, but wasn't having much luck in a price I could afford.  However, free I can do.  So we (and by we I mean Mark) loaded it up in the back of our SUV and rode down the road with the door partially open in the snow.  Luckily we didn't have far to go and everyone got home safe and sound.

So during nap times and bed times, when my hubby is home, we have been working on the table.  My husband is surprisingly an decent woodworker and I have been impressed more than once by his skills. He was homeschooled growing up, and when he was a young teenager, he got a job working construction with an older man who really took the time in him and his twin brother to make sure they learned their way around the site and the tools.  Just chalk that up to one more benefit of homeschooling.  So with his guidance and my decorating advice via pinterest, we have done decently.  I am ready to stain the top, because I think that is when it will really come alive!  Alas we are close, but not quite there yet!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Best Pumpkin Muffins. . . Ever

Ok today I am going to let you in on a little secret recipe of mine.  It was one given to me by a former minister's wife that was at our church where we served as youth pastor, and oh my gosh, it is delicious. Like seriously, I realize it is no where close to fall, when I should be "introducing"  these to the blog, but they are so tasty I don't even care.  You can thank me a million times over after you have made these for yourself and see what I am talking about.

This recipe is so incredibly easy and it makes A TON.  It is my 3 year old's favorite muffin and so it gets made often.  I love that I can freeze most of them to pull out every once in a while as a surprise to him.  The batter is thick and just delicious looking.  It also has no eggs and no milk required in case you have an allergy to one of the two (though I hope it isn't to milk, because you are going to want a big glass of it when you eat these).

One thing I feel is crucial (at least in my book) to baking is that your finished product not be burnt on the bottom and sides.  Luckily I had a roommate in college that showed me the light that is silicone bakeware.  Run, don't walk to get your hands on some.  They are the best thing since sliced bread.  Everything cooks evenly, and nothing is burnt on the bottom.  I have pans, cookie sheets, bread pans, and muffin tins made out of this stuff and it is the best.  I won't bake in anything else.

This was the batter that was left after the 1st 2 dozen!

 Mix together:  5 Cups flour (or 4c wheat, 1c white)
4 cups sugar (or 3 brown, 1/4 white)
1 tsp cloves (IMPORTANT)
1 tsp salt 
4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Add:  4 cups pumpkin (2 sml cans or your own puree)
1 cup of oil (or 3/4c applesauce, 1/4c oil)
1 cup chocolate chips (optional.  I usually add on the last dozen)
Bake at 350 for 10-25 mins for muffins, 1 hour for loaves

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Earaches and Everyday

Ok I have this awesome iMac computer we bought from one of my husband's friends who is a professional photographer.  She left all her programs along with her presets on the computer when she sold it to us 2 years ago, and even though I have had great intentions I have never learned how to use it.  Not for lack of trying, but for just the sheer frustration of having to learn these programs.  However I am  purposing to make this little blog better, something people want to wake up and check, and part of that includes having better pictures.  So here is that attempt.

These past couple of days in our house have been a little rough.  My poor Owen man (the 1 year old) has been incredibly cranky, and just in a foul mood all around.  He was running a slight fever yesterday, but I just chalked it up to teething.  His top gums (He currently only has two bottom teeth!) appeared to be swollen and I could see what I thought was white, so I just assumed that had something to do with how he was acting.  Really I should have known better.  He has been plagued by earaches since about October, and just had a double ear infection 2 weeks ago.  However, I hate running to the doctor if I can't explicitly tell if something is wrong.  I want to be able to look at his ears myself instead of taking the $80 risk that there may be nothing wrong at all (which I have done).

I noticed some ear wax coming out of his left ear last night at a basketball game, but that wasn't completely out of the ordinary, the kid has more wax than I have ever seen!!! However, his ear also looked a little red and swollen.  I decided I would call the doctor in the morning.  At 7:45 I did just that and then went to go and get him out of bed.  When I got there his ear was much more gross, with yucky brown wax covering the bottom of his ear.  I suspected then his ear drum had ruptured.  We had dealt with that with our oldest back in October, with that being his first ear infection ever, so I knew what it looked like.

Sure enough we get to the doctor and he confirms what I already suspected, a burst ear drum.  He also tells us if the earaches persist, we may be going to talk to an ENT.  This is the 6th earache issue we have dealt with.  I don't want him to have surgery, but I also don't want him to constantly hurt.  After we left the doctor's office we went to go get the prescription.  You can imagine my surprise (and my face) when they said it would be $160!!!!!  We use Samaritan Ministries, so we are self pay and I couldn't believe it.  Living 30 minutes away from town didn't help matters either, because it wasn't like I could just run back by.  I had to leave, go pick up my oldest from grandparents and work on getting it changed by the doctor to something more affordable.  We finally did hear from them at 5, but it was too late to go and get the meds, so he will have to suffer through until tomorrow morning.

So yeah, it has been a whirlwind at our house, especially this morning.  You can tell in these pictures that Owen is just not feeling great at all.  It also just showcases a typical morning at our house.  These are times I have come to really enjoy, as we eat all together and talk before we hit the ground running.  We all enjoy breakfast a lot, so it isn't anything out of the ordinary for Reid to make a "happy plate" or what we say when he has eaten everything!  He is growing up so fast I am just having a hard time wrapping my mind around this little guy being big!  Our new puppy also loves to sit in the sun in the morning.  He is such a great addition to our family, we love having him to play and cuddle with each day.  Enjoying these small days is constantly on my mind, I don't want to forgo with slow time with just these two guys.  My heart is full, I could not ask for more.