Friday, July 18, 2014

Grace in a Glob of Whipped Cream

I looked over to see little, 7 year-old fingers scraping whipped cream off the top of the just opened lid.

"STOP!"

But the little fingers decide to make another round before succumbing to mom's demand.

"WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! I told you to stop, and you didn't even listen! I shouldn't even have to tell you to stop because I've told you not to do that a million times!! Go to your room! NO FAMILY BREAKFAST FOR YOU!! You can come to the table when everyone else is finished."

To which Josiah added, "and no whipped cream for you this morning."

And that's how "family breakfast" started yesterday...with tears and mommy guilt.

Since we started homeschooling last year, it's been a huge blessing to be able to share breakfast with Josiah on his days off, which are often in the middle of the week. When I was working and the kids were in school, we missed that time with him. Not anymore!

Now there's "family breakfast." Even if he has other things to accomplish on his days off, as he often does, we all look forward to sitting down to a special breakfast with Josiah on his days off.

But not little Ryan...not yesterday. He got sent to his room RIGHT before family breakfast started because he couldn't control the impulse we all have to scrape the whipped cream from the lid.

However, this was just the most recent in a long stream of disobedient offenses lately. He just doesn't wanna listen. And it's driving mommy nuts.

Of course, I see small disobedience now, and my heart fears BIG disobedience later.

How will you ever obey laws and stay out of jail if you can't control your urge to get the whipped cream!!!!!


Okay, so my thoughts aren't just like that, but they're close enough.


Pretty ridiculous right? Meh...maybe. Like all moms, I think I'm just terrified of screwing up. Too much discipline? Too little discipline? Did I point you to God enough today? Did I talk to you enough? Did you play enough?

Yeah...it may be time to do another blog post on fear soon, but for now, I'll finish this story.

I felt completely guilty for making him miss family breakfast. Josiah completely agreed with my decision because his behavior has been in decline as of late, but sadness still tugged at my mama heart.

We prayed over our chocolate chip waffles, with the strawberries and whipped cream that were Ryan's idea, but before I could eat, I had to sneak away to talk with my boy. (FYI, this is a "meal" - aka "sugar feast" - that is special even for family breakfast...like once a year...mommy guilt multiplied).

He laid on the bed with tears running down his little face, and we had a talk about obedience and discipline and love. I hugged him and told him I loved him, and then went back to breakfast with tears in my eyes.

Oh, my heart.

When everyone else was pretty much done, I had Ryan come back to the table. There, waiting for him on the table, was a chocolate chip waffle with strawberries, syrup, and a large glob of whipped cream.

His little blue eyes started welling up with fresh tears as he looked at the plate sitting at his normal place at the table. "That can't be mine," he said. "It has whipped cream." His lip started to quiver.

I sat him down, and with my own lip quivering and tears running down my face, I explained to him the concept of grace: gifts we're given that we can never deserve.

I explained to him that God gave us salvation and Jesus, even though we're all sinners, and in this instance, mommy was choosing to give him grace...grace in whipped cream.

It sounds silly when I type it out, but it was a moment I don't think I'll ever forget, and I am so thankful to God for putting it on my heart. 

I hope Ryan remembers it, too. I hope he remembers the beautiful gift we've been given in Christ, and how sometimes even the simplest things can mirror that...like grace in a glob of whipped cream.

Happy Friday, friends. May you go into this weekend thinking of the many times God has given you grace.

I know I will.

But God proves His own love for us
in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! 
Romans 5:8

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Who's Got Time?

How much time do you have?

Are you always short on time? Does time seem like it goes on forever for you?

If you're like me, then it's probably a combination of both.

I spend my time being bored or tired or overwhelmed, happy or sad or joyful or frustrated. 

Did you catch that? I spend MY time?

I've been doing a study of Ecclesiastes the last few days, and today I got to Ecclesiastes 3. Most people are at least somewhat familiar with this passage because it inspired "Turn! Turn! Turn!" by The Byrds in the 1950's:
There is an occasion for everything,
and a time for every activity under heaven:
a time to give birth and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to uproot;
a time to kill and a time to heal;
a time to tear down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
a time to embrace and a time to avoid embracing;
a time to search and a time to count as lost;
a time to keep and a time to throw away;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to be silent and a time to speak;
a time to love and a time to hate;
a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I just love it. No matter where you are in your life right now, there is likely a very applicable and helpful portion of that for you.

However, just after this bit, something else caught my eye this morning:
He has made everything appropriate in its time. He has also put eternity in man's hearts, but man cannot discover the work God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and enjoy the good life. It is also the gift of God whenever a man eats, drinks, and enjoys all his efforts. I know that all God does will last forever; there is no adding to it or taking from it. God works so that people will be in awe of Him. Whatever is, has already been, and whatever will be, already is. God repeats what is passed. Ecclesiastes 3:11-15

Parts of that can be a little befuddling, and I must also warn you that Ecclesiastes, like any other book, should really be looked at as a whole. If you only look at the beginning, it can seem really depressing, but it all works out in the end. 

However, I did get one overwhelming idea from the passage above: my time is not actually mine.

As Christians, we often look at material things as gifts from God, of which we are called to be good stewards. We may even acknowledge that today is a gift from Him:

This is the day that the Lord has made;
we will rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

But, how often, throughout your busy day, do you tell yourself, This moment is a gift from God, and therefore, I must be a good steward of it. Am I seeking His will with the time HE has given?

Did you see that? There's a very important distinction there: not MY time, but the time He has given. 

I did not earn the time I've been given. I didn't work for it; it is not owed to me.

It is a gift.

He has given it to me, but not just for me to waste, but to accomplish His purposes for my life in this moment.

It kind of shifts your perspective doesn't it? 

Now, I'll admit, it's easy for me to say that now, as the house is still and the sun is still yawning and stretching its way into the sky. It may be MUCH harder in an hour or so when the kids wake up, the tasks add up, and mom gets fed up.

Nevertheless, today, instead of shutting my Bible and putting it away, I'm going to leave it open on the dining room table to Ecclesiastes 3, just to remind me that every minute I have is a gift from God, and each second should glorify Him.

What can you do today to remind you of the same thing?

My daughter, Destiny, took this picture of little Phinehas exploring.
 Who finds more gladness in the tiniest gifts from God than a baby?

Friday, July 11, 2014

All About the Fellas

Today's post is going to be short and sweet. For those those of you who have read my other posts this week, that should be a very welcome change!

First, in yesterday's post I sort of challenged a pastor. Actually, I challenged two pastors, but I'm not really concerned about the popular megachurch one. Instead, I'd like to make a clarification regarding the other pastor: the old friend who initially commented on Monday's blog post on facebook. 

While he and I may differ in some of our theology, I wanted to make it clear that I still hold him in the highest regard. I feel so terribly that this played out as oddly as it did, but he has reacted with nothing but grace and aplomb, which is nothing less than I would have expected. 

Since I didn't mention his name before, I'll refrain from doing it here. But thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for being such a class act. :)

Next, I just wanted to take a minute to gush over my awesome husband, Josiah. He had the day off yesterday which, of course, meant he had a bunch of other stuff to take care of. I swear the man never rests. 

He had already informed me that we were going to have a date on Thursday night (last night), but I decided that wasn't really good enough. Therefore, I spent the entire day until our date following him around and "helping" as much as preggo and tired can help. 

I won't bore you with the details, but we had a fun, drowned rat-looking, almost dangerous adventure...and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love that we can spend time together and, no matter the circumstances, we can laugh and have fun and end the day more in love than we started.

I just couldn't be more enamored with this wonderful, funny, awesome man. I love you, Josiah!!!

It got cut off, but all the credit for this photo goes to the lovely Amanda of Amanda Truth Photography.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Fighting Doctor "Feel-Good"

Earlier this week, I wrote a post about a very personal internal struggle. (You can read the original post here, if you'd like.) By writing my thoughts and feelings out, as well as the scripture God laid on my heart, I came to peace with my decision.
However, the post caused a ripple effect that I neither expected or intended.

You see, the post had to do with whether Josiah (my beloved husband) and I would attempt to have any more children after our newest is born in October (our 5th). Josiah is completely on board with having another baby because he feels like children are a blessing from God, as it says in the Bible. I would totally agree...I just wasn't (at the time) sure that's what God was calling me to do.

Thus, my internal struggle.

I also spoke about being convicted because the Bible says, as a wife, I'm called to submit to my husband and our bodies no longer belong to us, but to one another. (Side note here: other than being 35 and chunky, there's no reason, medically, why I shouldn't bear more children. I've never had a miscarriage or any other trouble carrying or delivering babies. That's pretty important. My husband loves me more than life itself, and if it presented any probability of danger, he would insist we not try to have more children.)

When I put the link on facebook, I tagged a few people whose input I thought would be very interesting. I had NO idea.

A few wives commented on the post saying that they didn't necessarily feel led to have more children (it is a very personal thing), but that they very much struggle in the area of submission.

Despite the fact that they feel otherwise, they aren't alone, right ladies? We are sinful, fearful, prideful, controlling creatures, and therefore, as wives, it is contrary to our very nature to submit to these also remarkably imperfect creatures, our husbands. 

That's why we need Jesus! If it wasn't hard, we could do it on our own.

So, these ladies remarked that they had a hard time submitting and we encouraged one another. And then...

*sigh*

I tagged someone else in the post: a very old friend who is a pastor. He commented on various aspects of it, one of which was submission. He said, I take a very different view on submission - I believe in mutual submission with Ephesians 5:21 being the umbrella verse - "submit to one another."

GAAAAAAHHHHHH!! WHAT?!

That was my general reaction. I've got women posting on here about how hard they feel it is to submit, and this pastor is posting random, non-biblical things like "mutual submission"?! I felt like I caused a train wreck...and now...now I'm working damage control.

I asked him about this obscure teaching, and he gave me some links. The main one was a sermon by Pastor Andy Stanley. At first I didn't want to even listen to it. I really don't like reading or listening to things I know will make me angry or upset.

BUT, in this case, I felt I had a responsibility to look into it. After all...what if I'm wrong? I'm no biblical scholar. What if I've been thinking of submission in the wrong light? 

But no...I wasn't wrong...and, after watching the video, that was blatantly obvious. As is often true when Satan tries to mislead God's faithful, there was some truth in the teaching, just enough to give it authenticity, but the end result is just a lie.

So...let's have a little talk about this mutual submission concept, shall we?

First, let's take a look at the verse Mr. Stanley quotes as the overarching principle that should rule our homes:

submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.
Ephesians 5:21 (HCSB)

Well, dang! Looks like I was wrong! Looks like we are supposed to submit to one another. After all, wouldn't that be easier? Wouldn't it just be easier if Doctor "Feel Good" was right, and Josiah has to submit to me, too? Off...the...hook, right?

But what about the next verse? The one that reads:

Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord,
for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church.
He is the Savior of the body.
Now as the church submits to Christ,
so wives are to submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-23 (HCSB)

That seems pretty clear, too. Hmmmm...

Here's the thing: Mr. Stanley quotes Ephesians 5:21 and calls it the ideal (which he's correct about), but says that it's the overarching principle that should rule our homes. Then, he says that the instructions to wives, husbands, and children that follow represent what it looks like in the home. 

Once again, sounds pretty plausible, right? So maybe I AM wrong?!

Maybe we should take a look at Ephesians 5:21 in context. Good exegesis (exactly what it meant at the time and to the audience to whom it was written) and the subsequent hermeneutics (how it applies to our lives) always means looking at the scripture in context

So, here it is:
Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk - not as unwise people but as wise - making the most of the time, because the days are evil. So don't be foolish, but understand what the Lord's will is. And don't get drunk with wine, which leads to reckless actions, but be filled by the Spirit:  
speaking to one another
in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs,
singing and making music
from your heart to the Lord,
giving thanks always for everything
to God the father
in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ,
submitting to one another in the fear of Christ. 
Ephesians 5:18-21 (HCSB)
These are instructions on what the Christian life should look like: indeed, the ideal. It is the picture of the fully mature Christian, who has grown all the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Is that you? Is that me? Nope. Net yet. Paul knew that when he was writing it, so you know what he gave us? Instructions on how to get there. Thus...instructions to wives, husbands, and children.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, you'll note that all of these verses were taken from my Bible, the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). This translation is very similar to the New International Version (NIV). Both are very committed to accuracy and the original intent of the writers. At times, I use them almost interchangeably.

However, there are times when they differ slightly, and this is one of those times. The NIV shows Ephesians 5:21 as being a separate sentence, all by itself, within the context of how to relate in a family, instead of as part of consistency in the Christian's life.

Why, then, did I choose the HCSB version over the NIV? Because in situations like this, the NIV (like many other versions) have often chosen to translate terms within a more socially acceptable light, as opposed to sticking with the author's initial intent. (One example of this is the Greek word for "slave," which the NIV translates a lot of the time as "servant," but historically and linguistically, the word means nothing other than "slave." A lot of translations made the change because of the negative connotation of the word in Western society, but unfortunately, it changes the meaning of a lot of passages significantly. The HCSB, on the other hand, translates it accurately. For more information on this, you should read Slave by John MacArthur.)

Furthermore, it makes more sense. Does it really make sense to you that parents are to submit to their children? Not so much. We ABSOLUTELY serve our children, completely sacrificially, but we don't submit to them. That's a formula for disaster.

There's another way I know Mr. Stanley didn't do his due diligence when creating this familial concept of mutual submission. He says:
This principle has nothing to do with authority….It has everything to do with what we do with our authority. This has nothing to do with who makes the decisions. It has everything to do with how we approach the decision making process" (emphasis added). 
Once again, there's some truth in that. Jesus came to serve us, and in turn, we should serve one another. Yes. Many verses back that up.

BUT...he says it has nothing to do with authority, and that...that's malarkey.

Josiah and I hosted The Art of Marriage at our church just a couple weeks ago (FANTASTIC, by the way. We plan to host another in November), and there's an interesting little tidbit I noticed on page 58 of the participant book. It's entitled, The Meaning of Kephale ("head"), and it reads as follows:
Dr. Wayne Grudem, in his effort to defend a biblical view of the roles in marriage, sought to inspect every use of the Greek word kephale, which is translated "head" in Ephesians 5:23. He found 2,336 occurrences of the word in ancient Greek literature, and in every instance, it was used to mean "authority over/ruler." He went on to assert that "no examples have ever been found where person A is called the 'head' of person B and person A is not in a position of authority over person B."
 Huh. You don't say? 2,336 occurrences, and every single one has to do with authority? Very interesting. It would seem, then, that Ephesians 5:23 has everything to do with authority. Everything.

This also negates something said in the other article my pastor friend gave me to reinforce his idea of mutual submission. That one claimed that Ephesians 5:23 has nothing to do with God's words to Eve after the fall of man in Genesis: He said to the woman: I will intensify your labor pains; you will bear children in anguish. Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will rule over you. (Genesis 3:16).

I don't know about y'all, but, particularly in the light of Dr. Grudem's research, those seem totally related.

Now, should a husband love (agape), his wife as Christ loved the church? Completely sacrificially, putting her well-being over his own? Well, absolutely, but it's like we say in our house...you need to worry about yourself. 

As wives, we have to be concerned about our responsibility in the marital relationship because that's what God calls us to do, and it's our submission to HIM, and our relationship with HIM, that compels our obedience to scripture, and therefore, our submission to our husbands.

Can I get an AMEN?! (Apparently, Mr. Stanley doesn't believe in saying Amen in his church either, he says in the video. So, I say it out of complete defiance. AMEN.)

The final nail in the coffin for me, regarding Mr. Stanley's presentation, was his little blurb to non-Christians in the audience at the very end. He thanks them for being there and says he's glad to have them (Awesome! I'm on board with that), and then he tells them that they don't have to be Christians for this to work in their families. He says, You can be a better family if you use this without being a Christian family.

And that was it. He made no mention of why they need Christ in their lives. None. No mention of being lost or brokenness. No mention of needing the Spirit of Christ in you in order to attain the ideal he talks about in Ephesians 5:21. None.

In that one little bit, he reduces Jesus from the Savior of mankind, whom we all need because we're all hopelessly lost without him, despite how great of a life we THINK we might live according to earthly standards, to a new age self-help guru.

You don't need to be saved. Just apply this principle, and you, too, can have a really groovy family dynamic!

Those weren't his exact words, but that's the end result.

Here's a good measuring stick. If your family exhibits all the other signs that you're completely spiritually mature - speaking to one another all the time in psalms and hymns, singing and making music from your heart to the Lord, and constantly giving thanks to God - then you've attained full Christ-likeness. Congratulations!!

However, if your family is like mine - you love, but you still struggle with being sinful and prideful and controlling and fearful - then please, follow your portion of the instructions Paul gives at the end of Ephesians.

Submission isn't easy ladies, I know. Some of you have husbands whom, you feel, are not fit leaders or have no interest in leading. Some of your husbands are talking the talk, but they're walking over in left field. Some of you aren't even married to believers. It's hard. That's why we need Jesus. 

I plan on writing another post later about biblical submission, in general, but I will say this: it is not being a doormat, but making a conscious decision obey God and trust in His word, to abandon fear and take up the breastplate of righteousness, covering our hearts in the safety of our Lord.

In fact, we are not weak, but warriors for God, taking up His full armor, fighting against Satan's influence in our lives and in the lives of our families.

Biblical submission is powerful, ladies. It is not weakness in the family, but strength in our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Wives, in the same way, submit to your own husbands so that,
even if some disobey the Christian message,
they may be won over without a message
by the way their wives live when they observe your pure, reverent lives.
Your beauty should not consist of outward things
like elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold ornaments or fine clothes.
Instead, it should consist of what's inside the heart
with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit,
which is very valuable in God's eyes.
For in the past, the holy women who put their hope in God
also beautified themselves in this way,
submitting to their own husbands, 
just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord.
You have become her children when you do what is good
and are not frightened by anything alarming.
1 Peter 3:1-6 (HCSB, emphasis added)

Monday, July 7, 2014

Counting...and dreading...my blessings

**Disclaimer - this post is about some very personal decisions. It is not about YOUR personal decisions. I pass no judgment on anyone else, just me. If it makes you uncomfortable, search your heart and make sure that doesn't come from God...because I'm writing about decisions for OUR family. Now...let's dig in.**

My pastor is in the midst of a sermon series right now called "Break Away," and it's all about how we normally focus on our decisions and their outcomes, but we sometimes forget that what we believe determines our decisions, and once we've decided, we have far less control over the outcome than we imagine.

And sometimes our actions say far more about what we believe than our mouths. 

The main passage we're going through in the sermon series is Romans 12:1-2:

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters,
in view of God's mercy,
to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,
holy and pleasing to God-
this is your true and proper worship.
Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is-
His good, pleasing and perfect will.

The other passage he concentrated on yesterday was Proverbs 3:5-6:

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

He noted that this is one of those passages that we kind of take for granted: Yeah, of course. I trust God with everything. I trust Him to know what's right for me.

Do we really though? Do we really trust God to know what's right...for us? 

We say we do, but if we REALLY trusted God to know what's right for us...in all things...then we would follow His word at all times, without question, right?

But there are some things...some things we just have such a hard time letting go of. We don't actually say we know more than God. How presumptuous would that be?! Instead, we silently take control out of His hands...sneaking it back into ours...because just this once, we know what's best. 

Sound familiar?

One of the things the pastor mentioned in his long list of areas where we tend to take control away from God was "how many children to have." 

Booooo!! That's something I've been trying not to think about because, quite frankly, every time I think about it, I get stressed out.

Not that I could really avoid thinking about it.

As a 35 year-old woman (which is, according to modern medicine, advanced maternal age) who is pregnant with her fifth child, I get quite a few questions and raised eyebrows.

Is this the last one?
Are you going to have more? 
or my favorite - You're done after this, right?

My answer to all these people...I. DON'T. KNOW.

I laugh it off, but inside, this is really causing me some serious inner turmoil.

My children are all blessings. I love them all dearly, and I am beyond thankful for each and every one of them...

BUT. There is always a but. Even as I write this, as I look at my youngest beam at me with joyful eyes from under gorgeous blond curls and feel the baby inside me kicking in the womb, I feel tired.

The thought of going through this process God only knows how many more times makes me want to cry. 

On top of that, I feel super selfish because, just after my second child, I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome), and A LOT of women with that diagnosis have a very difficult time getting pregnant.

Apparently, I'm not one of them.

And those women, the ones who can't have babies, they aren't any LESS blessed by God!! They are simply blessed in different ways!! 

The question is, though, if I can have babies and God would provide them if I allowed it, am I refusing a blessing He would give? Am I saying, "God, I know you might bless me in THIS way, but I want to be blessed in a different way. Can you just give me a different blessing, please? The one you've chosen isn't good enough"?

The Bible never talks about women not wanting to have babies. Conversely, they were always wanted, always a blessing (except in Isaiah where he talks about the forthcoming judgment of Israel). Here are just a couple of the passages on the matter:

Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
Psalm 127:3-5

Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house;
your children will be like olive shoots around your table.
Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.
The Lord bless you from Zion!
May you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!
Psalm 128:3-5

The Bible speaks of God opening and closing the wombs of certain women, which begs the question, should I simply trust Him to open and close mine?

Society says, "no." When I was about 30 weeks pregnant with Phinehas, the doctor asked, "do you know what type of birth control you'll use after the baby is born?" The question wasn't if, but what type.

Today, there's rarely a question over whether a woman will control how many children she has, and those who choose to leave it up to God are often viewed as zealots...even among believers.

WHY then, if the Bible is so clear that babies are always a blessing, is my heart so torn?

I mean, after all, a lot of the other stuff I want to do...the stuff that's very difficult to do with tons of children in tow...is really GOOD stuff. It's ministry stuff!! It's GOD stuff!

*sigh* stuff...children...or other stuff

Actually, now that I'm writing it down, it's really not a question of if, is it? If God wants me to do ministry stuff, He'll provide the when and how, won't He? It doesn't really matter how many children I have...because I can do all things within His will through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).

Josiah is pretty solid on the subject. Babies are a blessing. He sees my children from my previous marriage as a blessing, the children we've been given together as a blessing, and any children we might have in the future as a blessing.

A lot of women would say, well, it's easy for him to see them as a blessing, but he doesn't have to carry them!

Well, no, not for nine months in the womb. And yes, I'm the one who's majorly responsible for teaching and loving throughout the day, but he will carry them in many other ways throughout their lives. He's the one that's responsible for caring for them financially and for leading our household. He doesn't bat an eye at the responsibility...

if only his wife were as steadfast.

Furthermore, despite the fact that many would argue that it's my body, and therefore my decision, the Bible is very clear that's NOT the case:

The wife does not have authority over her own body
but yields it to her husband.
In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body
but yields it to his wife.
1 Corinthians 7:4

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church,
his body, of which he is the Savior.
Now as the church submits to Christ,
so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
Ephesians 5:22-33

Gotta love those two verses. They make women's libbers all over the planet anywhere from super uncomfortable to downright incensed.

They are neither unclear or muddled: I'm to submit to my husband. My body is not just mine anymore, but his, and I should trust him to care for it and make decisions for it. 

So, here's the question...will I trust God in this area? Will I trust the Lord with all my heart and lean not on my own understanding? Will I dare to defy conforming to this world, renew my mind, and experience true and proper worship by presenting my body as a sacrifice?

That's straight out of scripture, folks, and the answer seems clear. I don't necessarily like it, but it's clear as day.

I might be wrestling with this decision for nothing. There's a possibility that I won't even be able to have any more children. Nevertheless, now that I've written my heart and the scripture down, I strongly feel - for our family - handing the possibility over to God is the only way to go.

How do you feel about this matter? Has your family made a different decision? I'd love to hear about it!

OR what about other areas of your life? I'm wrestling with this, but is there something else you're wrestling with? Are you silently ripping control from God's hands in some other area of your life? Are you saying to Him, I know best in THIS one area?

If so, I pray you'll examine your own heart and motives and seek His path and His glory, so He can make your paths straight.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Corinthians 3 Thursday: Scoring Goals

Today's Corinthians 3 Thursday post is going to cut straight to the point. Aren't you excited?

So far in the series, we've talked about who and where we are and where we want to go...but today we talk about HOW to get there.

Goals.

I feel like, for a lot of us, goals are these unattainable things that we all talk about and want to accomplish, but rarely ever actually achieve. 

Then there are some people - those high-minded individuals who are somehow able to take these abstract plans and make them into something MORE. They achieve.

Blech - those people.

I'm just teasing. There have been goals I have achieved, and many I haven't, but there a couple ways to move goal achievement from possibility to probability.

First, ya gotta get it in writing. According to The Leadership Training Workshop, studies show that you're 95% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Are you kidding me?! 95%?! I always heard that writing your goals down helped you achieve them, but I think this little statistic escaped me.

Think of it like this: you would never enter into a contract with someone without getting it in writing because, without it, there's no promise of delivery, right? Same concept.

Next, you have to construct your goals in ways that make them more achievable. They need to be specific, have time constraints, and you have to have a plan.

It's not enough to say that you want to lose weight, or even that you want to lose 50 lbs. It's not even good enough to say that you want to lose 50 lbs in the next year. There's gotta be a plan. HOW are you going to achieve this goal? What are you going to do or change that will take this goal from an abstract thought to a reality? That's a game-changer.

Finally, you need to be held accountable by someone other than you. This is really hard for some of us (namely, me). We don't really like someone else keeping tabs on us. It's not their business right? If I want seconds at dinner or another piece of cake, why is that anyone's business? Because, just like I wrote in yesterday's post, I'm not the Lone Ranger. 

I need help. We all do sometimes, and an accountability partner who is both firm and encouraging can do wonders in helping you achieve your goals.

One real word of encouragement here: don't let perfect be the enemy of good. My awesome sister-in-love, Jamie, taught me that. I have no idea where she got it, but it's an awesome phrase.

So often I drop the ball on a goal in a small way, and because I haven't performed perfectly, I just, plain give up.

It looks something like this:
I did SO well with my eating all day, and then I had to go and blow it by eating those french fries. Well, I've already blown it, I might as well just eat a bowl of ice cream while I'm at it. 
 Here's the dangerous part though: that second statement, the one in bold print, is often not a conscious thought. It happens somewhere back in the recesses of our minds, and before we know it, feelings of guilt, shame, and internal ridicule push us over the edge into defeat

This is when renewing your mind becomes important. Take every thought captive and make sure you're thinking is right and grounded in truth. Don't let perfect become the enemy of good.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--
his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2


We demolish arguments and every pretension

that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
2 Corinthians 10:5

So, with all that having said. What are my plans? What are my goals? There are many. However, today, I'll go over the ones for this blog.

  1. I have to start writing more regularly, and I have to start networking. It's a big deal, and I've keep talking about it, but I definitely haven't followed all the steps above.
  2. I will start blogging at least three times per week. I will accomplish this by getting up early, doing my quiet time, and then writing before everyone gets up. I will also keep a journal of blogging ideas so I don't just "come up dry" when it's time to write.
  3. I will faithfully share all posts on the blogs over to the left. I will also dedicate myself to reading and commenting on at least two of the other posts that are linked-up to those blogs.
  4. By the end of the summer (August 31st), I will ask some of the other bloggers I know if they will allow me to "guest post" for them. This is the hardest for me because it makes me leave my comfort zone, swallow my pride, and subject myself to possible rejection. Nevertheless, it has to be done.
  5. Finally, I will ask...um...someone to make me accountable to these things. Who? Crud. I could ask Josiah, but he's so busy working, I'm not sure he's going to have the time to really be responsible for holding me accountable. Um...Jamie? Esther? One or both of you want the job?  Either way, by next week I will have an accountability partner and I'll let you know who that is. 

That's all for me!  What are YOU going to do? What big, huge goals has God put on your heart to accomplish? I can't wait to hear about them...and HOW you're going to get 'em done!

Now it's time to link up!!




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pride Goeth Before the THUD

Look over there! It's a bird! It's a plane!

Nope. It's just Alissa...tripping over her own pride, flying, through the air, and landing on her rump.

That's me.

Almost a couple weeks ago now, Josiah and I hosted The Art of Marriage at our church. We started planning early. It was going to be super awesome! I was praying for hundreds of people to be touched through this event, and I just knew we were going to change tons of marriages for Christ!!

*sigh* 

Anyone remember studying Greek tragedies in high school. Each hero had a fatal flaw, and most often, it was hubris - excessive pride toward or defiance of the gods, leading to nemesis.

Now, as Christians, we know there's only one God, and thankfully, He's not in the business of being our nemesis. However, when I let my pride get in the way, He is in the business of letting it get bruised a little so I can get over myself and into Him.

It really was a great event, but that had so much more to do with the fact that FamilyLife has designed an awesome DVD-based program than it did with my performance.

My planning. My performance. My plans.

I started the planning process early, but instead of reaching out to others to ask them to help in areas in which they are gifted and I am not, I decided I could do it on my own.

I got this!!

Um...no. A lot of it ended up being very last minute and hurried. 

The event didn't get promoted like I really wanted it to, and we ended up only having fourteen couples in attendance (for whom we were very grateful). 

I let some things fall through the cracks that I shouldn't have, and of the four people who were running the event (me, Josiah, and our friends the Antonellis), I was the only person who knew what needed to be done. 

I hadn't properly shared information or given them what they needed in order for me to delegate tasks to them. In other words...information dissemination FAIL.

I had to try to remember everything. 

Me...mere weeks after my graduation and the homeschool convention that took up so much brain space...with severe pregnancy brain.

In the end, it turned out okay. The most important things got done, but just like every event of this kind, there are lessons to be learned:

  1. Ambiance is great, but people see books better when there's light
  2. We bought far too many chips, but almost ran out of water. Everyone wants water...and coffee. Make sure there's lots of coffee
  3. I am not the Lone Ranger
That last one is a big deal. 

Instead of seeking people who had gifts in certain areas to assist me, I decided I was going to barrel through the process on my own...stumbling, fumbling, and and landing with an inglorious THUD.

God can do amazing things through us, but we have to depend on Him for His wisdom. And His word says there are many gifts He's given to the members of the body of Christ, and all of them are meaningful and important and we need them ALL in order to accomplish His purposes.

From [Jesus] the whole body,
joined and held together by every supporting ligament,
grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.
Ephesians 4:16

Lesson learned.

By God's grace, I am WE are going to be given another chance to put on this event in November. After a lot of prayer, Josiah and I decided that we needed to make the event available to more couples at our church and in our community who were on vacation or unavailable during the last event.

This time I won't act alone. This time I will pray, not just for the couples who will come, but for God to lead me to the help I need in order to accomplish His purposes for the event. 

I'll also be praying for God to give me some bravery and boldness because I'm just really not good at asking for help...at all. 

Praise God!

He is a God of second chances. His grace is abundant, His mercies new each day...and it's a darn good thing because every day I need them!!

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, 
but with the humble is wisdom.
Proverbs 11:2