My youngest son just turned SIX this past month and I am very sentimental about it this year.
How is it that he is already six years old?!
One of my favorite traditions with my boys is to write to them on their birthday in a 5×7-ish spiral notebook that I got at the local Target or Walmart. It is simple and not fancy in the least.
My mom was the one who started this, and I have kept up with this tradition. When she was pregnant with me, she wrote to me in the same type of spiral notebook and would update me on all of her cravings, what the weather was like, how they were preparing for the big day, the showers, etc.
It is her handwriting. She passed away when I was 13, and this journal is one of the most valuable items that I have because it is her talking to me. It is her.
So when I learned I was pregnant with our first son, I replicated what she did and bought the exact same spiral notebook, and started writing as much as I could to our son. When the big day finally arrived, I wrote all about his birth story and then decided I wasn’t going to stop there. I continued writing to him on his month birthdays and then his first birthday.
But I couldn’t stop.
I wanted to keep it up and continue writing to him on his birthday every year, and so that is what I do. It is not always on the actual birthday, and I have forgotten to write once (and I am sure I will forget another time, too) but I do my best to remember to write to him on his birthday.
When we found out we were pregnant with our second child I bought another spiral notebook just for him. And the tradition continues.
Last night I wrote to our youngest all about the past year, what he is interested in, where we traveleled, how much he has grown, and as much as I could remember about the past year without getting too wordy.
As I was wrapping up my letter to him, I got a bit teary-eyed.
My youngest son is six.
My oldest is almost ten.
We are out of the toddler phase and have BIG kids now that will slowly morph into teenagers and eventually young men.
And I am proud.
I am proud of the little men these two boys are becoming. They are learning more about God every day and love Him so much. I am so blessed to see these two little guys grow up and have a front row seat to their discoveries, learnings, challenges, fun activities, and everything in between.
They are pretty awesome.
And so the journal continues.
Another birthday in the books.
Another journal entry was written.
And I pray for so many more.
What is something that you do with your kids? Share your traditions below!
I am not going to lie. This blog post idea came to me really fast, and I figured I better write it down now while I have the courage and it’s clear in my mind.
Confronting my sin is not easy – I don’t believe anyone has an easy time facing their negative qualities of themselves, but this is something that I feel like I need to share. Maybe it will help you. Perhaps you can relate. Perhaps I am alone. No matter, here I go . . .
While I was writing my book, I was spirit-led. I was filled with the Holy Spirit – I was constantly in the Word and felt so close to God. I was on fire for the Lord!
Then the book was published.
A few months after it was published, I had some big spiritual attacks and doubted myself so much. I have felt so negative and down about who I am and became very open to Satan’s attacks.
I wasn’t in the Word.
Instead, I was following very “loud” Christians on social media that were altering my perspective and thus made me very critical and loud as well. Looking back, I probably came off very “high and mighty.” Not always, but in some situations and conversations, I can see that now.
Suddenly, I became so aware of every little sin I was doing and others that I became so negative and critical.
My spark was gone.
My smile was fake.
I felt depressed, critical, sad, angry, and nothing like the person who wrote about how God had remarkably worked in her life.
I felt like a fraud.
Fast forward to today . . . in my BSF study, one of the first question boxes out the gate was, “David ended Psalm 19 with a prayer for his life. Write down your prayer for this year.”
Without hesitation, I started writing and didn’t even think. I just wrote. In my prayer, part of my writing was ‘humble me.’ After I wrote that, I paused and instantly regretted it because I knew in my heart that I didn’t really want to see what God had in store for humbling me.
Shortly after that, I was faced with a sin that needed to be called out, though it was hard to hear. I had admitted and saw it in me, but when someone else lovingly says it, oomph. It’s hard. It’s humbling.
I am still a work in progress, but I am starting to see the light again. I pulled away from God and others. I withdrew.
I was pulling away from God, but God was still there, waiting for me to return to Him. And I am. I am not where I once was, but I am slowly climbing out of the valley and headed for the mountain tops.
I am still being refined by my Master Potter Himself.
“Sometimes we’re on the potter’s wheel and we know why. Other times we are on the potter’s wheel and we don’t know why. As far as we can tell, we’re doing everything we can to serve God and to do His will. But then, without any warning or explanation, we feel the pressure of the potter’s hand as He is remolding and remaking us.”
In those humbling moments, I remind myself that the Potter is still working the clay. “Perhaps it is in those moments of brokenness that the Potter is able to gently fashion the vessel into something beautiful for His glory.”
I am still being transformed and continue to grow. I know I have much refining to do, and the Potter has a way to go with me! 😉 One thing plaguing me the last couple of weeks was doubting who I am. I kept questioning my personality, how I interact, and how I do everything – and then it became instantly clear. I am focusing so much on ME and less on HIM. I was critical of myself and very negative and then realized that, yes, some change needs to occur, but it is not all about me. When I turn my eyes to God, everything changes. It is about Him.
So that is where I am. I am a child of God and looking to Him, and I am still being refined and have much growing to do.
Anyway, I hope this openness and vulnerability helps you or someone else. I pray that those I have hurt or been too harsh or rubbed the wrong way – that you forgive me and know that I am still a work in progress and will be until God calls me home. I feel much like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress, and even though I slip and fail, by His grace, His work does not depend on my invincibility.
In this past lesson of BSF, this note stood out to me:
“Satan aims his attacks on believers at specific times and points of vulnerability. Our enemy flings accusations at us with precise cruelty, but he cannot steal the permanent shelter given to us by our God Most High.”
I need God.
We need God.
He is sufficient.
Take me, mold me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
My last blog post was about three months ago, and I have enjoyed stepping away and refocusing my mind and my heart. But I do have to say . . . I miss this community! I miss writing. But I don’t miss Instagram – at least not yet anyway 😉 I think Instagram, from a blogging perspective, was the most intimidating for me. I felt this pressure to write the right thing, to use the right hashtags, to find the right picture, to post enough . . . it was overwhelming and left me feeling tired and inadequate and frustrated.
So I am back to writing but on my own terms – after all, it is my blog 😉 I know the downfall of blogging and not sharing it on social, but I am ok with that. I like to write, and I love that I have this community of dedicated readers who will hang around with or without social media. So thank you! Thank you for hanging with me through the many changes of life and through all of my feelings and emotions, sharing blog posts and taking sabaticals. I really appreciate you more than you know.
I will continue to post Christian-focused posts as well as all the other lifestyle things, like homeschool updates and a few other things here and there. But I want to hear from you – what are YOU interested in reading? Share below and I will add it to the list!
Again, thank you for hanging with me through all of the ups and downs and life changes!
This past week I fought the flu, and my body wasn’t pleased. While lying in bed, one has much time to think and reflect. And a thought kept occurring to me as I lay listening to my boys play.
I don’t want to miss it.
I don’t want to mess this up.
I don’t want to look back when I am 80 and think about all the should-haves.
Social media has many benefits, but for myself, I have noticed a significant drawback: time.
Blogging, posting, podcasting, and the like take time. I have pulled back from social media many times and have yet to regret that time away.
Over the years I feel that society has put pressure on women that being a mom is not enough. We must hustle. We must work. We must do something other than just being a mom. But being a mom is the biggest, most important job God has given us. We are physically imprinting and raising the next generation. When I look around at the world now, I think we are seeing the effects of the lack of parenting has had. The negative impact of both parents working full-time, putting off raising kids onto nannies, teachers, daycares, schools and babysitters, the lack of stability and good Christian foundations . . . we are seeing it now. And I don’t want to be a part of it. I want to return to June Cleaver’s time and be that housewife caring for my family. Go back to basics and be one hundred percent present in all aspects of my children’s lives. Cook and bake. Homeschool. Read the Bible together. Not concerned about what to post or how many people ‘liked’ an image or seeing what someone else is doing.
My direct influence is here in my house. With my kids and my husband. I kept telling myself that I am sharing the Gospel so that is ok to post and stay on social. But I must pay attention to this nudge that it is time to step away. Maybe permanently? I am not sure, but I am sure that I get one shot at being a mother and raising Christian men who respect their future wives and know how to be great fathers. Who will go into the world strong and resilient against temptations and know the Truth. This world is so corrupt and the messages being funneled into our brains and feeds are primarily lies. We are being misled little by little, desensitized more and more. When I am 80, I am not going to look back at my social media and think, well done! But what I will look back on is my time with my kids and my role as their mother. I want to see my boys fully grown with wives and children of their own and know that I did the best I could and raised them entirely focused on them and God.
I am personally reclaiming my role as a housewife and stay-at-home mom fully and proudly. And to say that most women cannot do that, I think, is a lie we tell ourselves. We just can’t homeschool because it is hard or our kids are challenging. We can’t afford to lose a paycheck. Yet we spend gobs of money on preschool, dining out and coffees, on homes that are out of our budgets, on décor and parties that are only temporary.
We get one chance.
Our kids are worth our time. They DESERVE our time and full attention. They deserve a mom who cooks meals for them and reads to them. They are not burdens we are to put off on someone else and just hope they turn out okay. It is our responsibility. God has given us these children. Let us reclaim motherhood and all that it entails. Step back to the 50s role of the housewife and abandon these feminist ideals that we must do it all. That we can have it all. That we can work and raise kids and do it both equally well. WE CANNOT. One will always get out of balance. And where will the pendulum swing?
I don’t share all of this to make any mom or woman feel bad, but I do hope it sparks a thought. An evaluation. Why are we so busy? Why are we striving so hard for things that are not of great importance? Is it for wealth? For stature? For recognition? What is the driving force behind what we do? I have done it many times and found myself in the wrong place. And thus, why I am back to this same thought of it is enough. It is time to stop trying to busy myself and hustle because I have put this pressure on myself. No one else has but only myself. I have told myself that being a mom is not enough. I must do something else – sell this or that, write this or publish that, blog about this or podcast that. Work or do something more.
But enough is enough.
I would love to say that this is the last blog post that I write or that my book was the one and only, but I can’t say that or promise that. But I will say that currently, in this stage of my life, my role as a mother is the most significant and heftiest role that I have, and I will do it thoroughly and entirely with no more interruptions. No more social media to distract me. No more things of this world to compete for my attention. For now, I am done.
I pray that wherever you are today, in whatever role you face, you acknowledge Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and turn to Him. Because He is all that we need.
I am sure by now you have seen it all across social media and the news that a draft written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito was leaked to the press indicating the US Supreme Court’s majority would overturn abortion and thus abortions would fall at the state and local levels.
If it is overturned – this is just one step, but the battle has just begun.
Instead of defending my stance for these babies and berating you with information you have heard before, I will use Scripture.
God’s Word is Law and Truth. The living God speaks through His Word and His Word is accurate. Let me remind you:
"You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."
Matthew 7:13-14 (NLT)
So what does God’s Word – the Law and Truth – say about children, abortion, murder, selfishness, and forgiveness – because friends, if you have had an abortion, you are forgiven when you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior. If you confess your sins and turn to Him, He will forgive you. You are never too far gone for God. By God’s grace, there is forgiveness, healing, and hope available to you through Jesus Christ’s death on the cross.
But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
- 1 John 1:9 (NLT)
In 2 Chronicles, verse 3, we read that Ahaz did not do what was pleasing in the sight of the Lord and cast metal images for the worship of Baal and sacrificed his own sons in the fire. Imagine the monstrous evil of a religion that offers young children as sacrifices! But even today this practice has not been abated. The sacrifice of children to the harsh gods of convenience, economy, selfishness, and whim continues in sterile medical facilities in numbers that would astound the wicked Ahaz. If we are to allow children to come to Christ, we must first allow them into the world.
"Now listen! Today I am giving you a choice between life and death, between prosperity and disaster. For I command you this day to love the LORD your God and to keep His commands, decrees, and regulations by walking in His ways . . . "
- Deuteronomy 30:15-16 (NLT)
God has called us to keep His commands and His laws are not hidden from us. They are written out very clearly for us. Obeying them is reasonable, sensible, and beneficial.
What sorrow for those who say
that evil is good and good is evil,
that dark is light and light is dark,
that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter.
- Isaiah 5:20 (NLT)
When people see no distinction between good and evil, destruction soon follows. It is easy for people to say, “No one can decide for anyone else what is really right or wrong.” They may think getting drunk can’t hurt them, extramarital sex isn’t really wrong, “it is my right”, or money doesn’t control them. But when they make excuses for their actions, they break down the distinction between right and wrong. If people do not take God’s Word, the Bible, as their standard, soon all moral choices become fuzzy. Without God, they are headed for a breakdown and much suffering.
Children are a gift from the LORD;
they are a reward from Him.
Children born to a young man
are like arrows in a warrior’s hands.
How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them!
He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates.
- Psalm 127: 3-5 (NLT)
The Bible calls children “a gift from the LORD,” a reward. Those who view children as a distraction or nuisance should instead see them, as an opportunity to shape the future. We dare not treat children as an inconvenience when God values them so highly.
Then He put a little child among them. Taking the child in His arms, He said to them, 37 “Anyone who welcomes a little child like this on My behalf welcomes Me, and anyone who welcomes Me welcomes not only Me but also My Father who sent Me.”
- Mark 9:36-37 (NLT)
Jesus taught the disciples to welcome children – which was a new approach during this time when society minimalized children and treated them as second-class citizens. Sadly, we still see this today. It is important to not only treat children well but also teach them about Jesus.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in Your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
- Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT)
We should have as much respect for ourselves, and our children/babies, as our Maker has for us.
How joyful are those who fear the LORD —
all who follow His ways!
You will enjoy the fruit of your labor.
How joyful and prosperous you will be!
Your wife will be like a fruitful grapevine,
flourishing within your home.
Your children will be like vigorous young olive trees
as they sit around your table.
That is the LORD's blessing
for those who fear Him.
May the LORD continually bless you from Zion.
May you see Jerusalem prosper as long as you live.
May you live to enjoy your grandchildren.
May Israel have peace!
- Psalm 128:1-6 (NLT)
Fear of the LORD is the foundation of true knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.
- Proverbs 1:7 (NLT)
And I will require the blood of anyone who takes another person’s life. If a wild animal kills a person, it must die. And anyone who murders a fellow human must die. 6 If anyone takes a human life, that person’s life will also be taken by human hands. For God made human beings in His own image.
- Genesis 9:5-6 (NLT)
Here God explains why murder is so wrong: To kill a person is to kill one made in God’s image. Because all human beings – even babies in and out of the womb – are made in God’s image, all people possess the qualities that distinguish them from animals and should be treated more highly because we are made in His image. God wants us to recognize His image in all His people – including babies.
So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent His own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.
- Romans 8:1-4
Thank God! He has declared us free from our sins!
This life-giving Spirit is the Holy Spirit, who was present at the creation of the world and He is the power behind the rebirth of every Christian. He gives us the power we need to live the Christian life.
I have so much more to say on this topic, but I am going to shelf it for now. I pray that if you haven’t accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior, you repent of your sins and turn to Him. By His grace, we are forgiven. We are saved by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not by our own efforts or works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
While reading 2 Kings 17, I was reminded of God’s powerful wrath and multiple warnings to the Israelites. The Lord judged the people of Isreal because they had copied the evil customs of the world and followed their own desires instead of worshiping the one true God.
Recently I have been inundated with messages about false prophets and have been paying close attention to people I follow on social media that are your “big” Christians if you will. I am not going to call anyone out, but I have personally noticed some of these people that I use to admire recently sounding as if they are more concerned with prosperity and self rather than the true Gospel.
Reminder: those that create their own religion tend to live selfishly.
As Isreal learned, to live for oneself brings serious consequences from God.
You can die to self or die for yourself. Die to self means that you take up your cross and proclaim the Good News of Christ, no matter what. Or you can die for yourself – which will end in eternal death.
Determine to be God’s person and do what He says regardless of the cost! What God thinks of you is infinitely more important than what others think of you. Don’t worry about what others may think – I know, easier said than done. But by reading God’s Word and spending time with my Father, I have learned over time that no one’s opinion of me matters more than that of my Father. By not caring about others’ opinions about you, you can turn away from the customs of the world much more easily.
And so, dear brothers and sisters,I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
- Romans 12:1-2
Here, Paul warns Christians not to copy the customs and behaviors of the world that are usually selfish and corrupt. But our refusal to conform must go deeper than that. “Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think” – only when the Holy Spirit renews, reeducates and redirects our mind are we truly transformed. It is easier as Christians to just avoid worldly customs, but we can still be proud, arrogant, covetous, selfish, stubborn, envious. We have to give these selfish behaviors to God and nail them to the cross – die to self, raise up our cross, and be set apart from the world that values pride, lust and worldly success.
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
- 1 John 2:15-17
What God thinks of you is infinitely more important than what others think of you.
A few weeks ago, I was asked on my friends’ podcast to chat about my book, Mercy in the Mess, and when I was chatting with Emily about the next topic for the podcast, living eternally, she immediately told me that I needed to chat with her mom, Scharlee. And boy was she right! Scharlee is so wise and I loved my conversation with her about living eternally. I know you will, too.
Today I am excited to read a small excerpt from my book, Mercy in the Mess, regarding love. The topic this month is love – and if you missed the last episode regarding loving difficult people, please go take a listen here.