An Easter idea for the neighbors

A few weeks ago, I had this idea for Easter. It’s normal to “do something for the neighbors” at Christmas. Not that I ever actually have. But we’ve been thinking the last few years about how for the believer, Christ’s resurrection is our biggest celebration of the year. The greatest moment to exalt in. Anyways, I thought, we should “do something for the neighbors” and maybe write them a card or note explaining why celebrating Christ’s resurrection on Easter means so much to us.

So fast forward to about two days ago and I think we’ve got a plan!

There are little kids in every apartment near us, so we’re going to give them this book.

More Than a Story

More Than a Story

More Than a Story, Easter book

More Than a Story, Easter children's book

The illustrations are beautiful and the words have a beautiful rhythm. It outlines some of the fantastic miracles throughout the Bible and then gives the defense that if Christ had the power to rise from the dead, that all of that is possible. It’s a wonderful presentation of the gospel, of the authority of Scripture, and of God’s revealing Himself to mankind.

Not to mention our girls love it, and we love reading it to them, too! (In fact, I think the idea came while reading it to them)

And then for fun, we’re going to try to make these fun treats!

I should probably make some practice ones. = )

It’s a simple start, but it’s something. I know it’s a little late in the game to post about this, but maybe it could start some ideas of how you could use this season to spread the glory of Christ.

Looking forward to celebrating!!

My number one rule for getting things done during pregnancy

It humors me slightly that I just wrote that title when I feel like I’m not getting anything done during this pregnancy. But in retrospect, that’s not exactly true; and feelings are never the best barometer of progress.

So in the interest of keeping things short for those who have a lot to do and not much time to do it, here it is.

My number one tip for getting things done during pregnancy is if you feel like doing something, do it!

I surely hope your world isn’t so small and fragile that it is now shattered. This is not rocket science, but it has been a huge help to me.

Case and point, in case you’re not quite tracking (I wouldn’t be either yet), every now and then I put the girls in bed and think, I’ve got twenty minutes until Paul comes home, I could clean a bathroom. If that thought even enters my mind, boom! I’m going to do it. Because honestly, the next time I have that time, or energy, or inclination… it could be in three weeks.

Disclaimer: I don’t always wait for a feeling to do something and I do try to clean the bathrooms more often than every three weeks.

That being said, energy really does come and go on a whim during pregnancy; if you’re motivated to do something go ahead and get it done.

Many times the next day I will think, I could not possibly do that right now! I’m so glad I did it when I thought about it. 

This can apply to housework, errands, doing something special with your kids, meals, just about anything.

Well, that probably didn’t change your life, but there’s enough awesome stuff out there that can do that, right?

What is your number one rule for getting things done during pregnancy?

Generous, ordinary words

imageA few evenings ago I caught myself in some rather nostalgic contemplation as I was doing dishes late at night. I was thinking about words that had been said to me that had meant the most in my life. Oddly enough, I don’t think any of the people who spoke them would have given them a second thought; especially not imagined that they would mean that much to me.

For example, out of all the things my dad ever told me (and there were many very good and helpful things), the most special one to me was so simple and ordinary. (I’m planning on posting about another one closer to Father’s Day)

I was fourteen or fifteen and in the middle of having braces. I had pined for braces since I was a little girl because I thought they were so cool. = ) Luckily I had inherited my father’s rather crooked teeth, so soon enough I got my wish. Overall, it had been a great experience; not nearly as painful or bothersome as I had heard others describe.

However, one particular time after an appointment, my mouth and jaw were really hurting, the only time I remember this happening. I walked by my dad’s door and saw him resting on his bed from a long week of work. He must have asked how I was doing and I decided to tell him that my mouth was hurting pretty bad.

I’m sure he said he was sorry or something, but there is one thing he said that I’ll never forget. “Just remember I had them, too; and I know exactly how you feel.”

I probably just smiled, said thanks, and went on with whatever I was doing. But everything in me felt completely better.

Isn’t it strange how much that impacted me?

Another one that struck me unexpectedly was a simple remark that a man in our church choir had made right before I left for college. I had been the church pianist for about four years, so naturally lots of people were coming around to give goodbye hugs and good wishes for that next step in my life. One quiet man told me with a small smile that he remembered when I first started playing for the choir. (It was when my sister had left for college) He said he remembered how hard it was for me to play even the simple choir accompaniments, and how fun it had been to watch as I grew little by little. I’ll never forget those words. Forget all the compliments from other performances in my life; someone remembered when it was hard, when I was just a complete play-by-ear fake who had to really work at reading music.

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I began to think that possibly the words I speak that will be remembered will be ones I’m completely oblivious to, spoken only in passing. I mean of all the things I say to my girls day after day what will really warm their heart when they’re all grown up doing dishes late at night? Of all the words that I speak to friends or casual acquaintances what will it be that matters?

It appears the answer is… who knows?

Sometimes I recall a conversation or remark spoken in passing and think, “Why is my first reaction to say something about myself? Or, wow, what I said had some really negative undertones. Is that really what’s in my heart?” Of course, we can say good or wholesome things when someone approaches us for help or when we have a chance to prepare. But what do my mindless words that spill out communicate to others? What should they teach me?

As I stood there scrubbing away, I desired for God to change my heart; to make me someone who loved others above myself; to give me a spirit that would generously speak compassion and love even when I’m not really thinking. Every day so many words are spoken. May they be redeemed to be ones that bless and minister grace in the moment, whether they’re ever remembered or not.

What the fly on the wall heard {a little more serious}

I guess one of the joys and terrors of parenting is answering the questions your children are bound to ask. We’ve had some pretty good ones in the last year, so I thought it’d be fun to write them down.

Here they are, in no particular order.

Hope:

“Mommy, if God is righteous and would never do anything wrong, then why did He tell Abraham to take the life of his son Isaac? Doesn’t the Bible say that killing is wrong? I don’t understand.”

“Mommy, before Adam and Eve sinned, when they walked with God… was God still invisible to them?”

****

Sophia:

“Mommy, does God know all the people that will believe in Him?”

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Gracie

“Mommy, what are feelings?” Seriously, have you ever tried to define the concept of feelings without using the word “feel”? It took me a good five minutes to come up with an answer. Let alone the fact that I was driving the car, ending a phone call about lunch plans, and hoping for a red light so I could put on my make-up. Their timing!

A few days later she asked, “What does ‘after’ mean?”

Hope

This one she asked while really thinking through salvation. I thought it was pretty interesting that even at five we want to figure out a way to gain our own righteousness. “So Mommy, what if a person could stop sinning and only do good things for the rest of their life. Could they go to heaven then?”

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And for a light ending, yesterday I saw Gracie in the middle of the living room, arms extended, passionately preaching. It didn’t take long to realize she was being Jonah. (She was the only one there) After a few more minutes, she dropped her hands and looked dejectedly up, “God, the people of Nineveh just won’t settle down!”

Three no-brainer tips for pregnancy

Today, I decide to state the obvious.

These tips should be easy, but they’re just not always easy for me.

1. Drink water like you’re about to spend a week in the Sahara Desert.

If you think about getting a drink, drop everything and just go get one. If you’re thirsty, drink all the water you can handle. Try not to leave home without it, and take any opportunities when out and about to have some.

Drinking water has helped me with headaches, dizziness, fatigue, other nameless annoyances of pregnancy, and overall comfort.

And if someone could come up with some glasses that would block out any and all advertisements of Coke, that would help, too.

2. Eat something before you get hungry – every two hours. Or forty-five minutes.

I totally did not get this when I was first pregnant. But now I do and my life is so much better when I obey.

Even a handful of almonds (my current go-to) can do wonders.

3. If it’s not already, make sleep your new best friend. 

I am not the greatest at going to bed early or getting up on time. However, I am working on it really hard this time around because I know *negatively* what a big difference it makes.

Napping if possible is a wonderful help.

Adding any extra nighttime sleep you can is truly worth the effort.

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And… ladies and gentleman this has been my three no-brainer tips for a fantastic pregnancy. Pardon me, while I go work on them myself.

Where did March go? (New Year’s goals review and plans for April)

Did I just say April? Wow!

March has flown for me, and I honestly can’t think of why. However, it is that time again to review the month (specifically the plans we made for March) and to make a new list of how to execute those New Year’s goals, resolutions, plans, and priorities in April.

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I’m going to do my best to make this short and sweet. I will divide my March list into three categories: accomplished or improved; effort made, but not enough; and did not happen.

At this point I would like to say that there are still four whole days left in March, and I do actually plan to do some of these things in that time. = ) Hopefully.

Accomplished or improved

*Chalkboard ready for the next day in the afternoon (being generous)

*Park every week with the girls

*Getting to church earlier to see Paul before services start (seriously, just writing down that little goal made a big difference in how I prepared all month!)

*Plan for spring cleaning (the plan has begun, but is not yet finished. It’s much more fun to put effort into the planning than the work!) = )

*Get caught up on laundry, fold as it comes out of the dryer. I am pleased as punch to announce that none of our hampers are currently over half full. This will come as a shock to any and all who know me and these conditions are still considered by the National Laundry Service as unpredictably sustainable.

*Piano lessons have been restarted! Yay!

Effort made, but not enough

*Clothes ready the night before, prayer in the morning instead of checking weather/email/facebook

*Exercise three times a week. This is perilously close to being in the did not happen category.

*More science with school

*Evaluate weekly activities; eliminate those which bring more stress than benefit

*Work on Awana verses. In all fairness and self-defense, this one could almost be in the accomplished or improved category.

Did not happen

*Read at night

*Make list of things we might need for baby

*Organize Mckayla’s room

*Go to church library

*Make list of expectations for girls

*Purchase organizing stuff

*Dream up an entryway project

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Well, with all that, here are just a few additional comments regarding the original list.

~ I taught the girls to wipe down the sink and toilet with a lysol wipe and have scheduled a day for them to do that every week. So far they’ve done great and remembered on their own. This is an accomplishment in the “chores” department. As well, they are doing very well making beds in the morning and putting shoes away right when we come in the door.

~ Our surfaces are overall a tiny bit more cleared off and clean. Why is it so hard to keep them that way?

~ I have an idea for something to do on the girls bathroom wall.

~ We are really enjoying reading the biography of Louis Braille! I’ve learned so much and been so inspired.

~ Weekly homeschool planning has not happened for a few weeks now. This hasn’t devastated our days or weeks, but I want to get back on track.

~ Night time sleep is beginning to look a little more prioritized! Keep it up!

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Okay, so those were all general things from my original list in January 2014. Now I will try to think through specific things to accomplish or grow towards in April. I think I will try to make a more concise, attainable list as it seems March was somewhat overshot.

*Begin spring cleaning. Try to finish the top two-thirds of the house (ceilings, walls, and furniture).

*Continue to work towards being early for events (church, appointments, etc.) not just on-time.

*Keep a Bible and pen by the bed. Take the minutes you have to read and make notes, even if it’s not the extended time you would like.

*Think through any birthdays or events happening in April and May. Try to plan ahead.

*Work to spend twenty minutes after the girls go to bed being productive in the house. (Happy sidenote: I’m sleeping in a slightly different position and my back is feeling much better during the day!)

*Choose reading, writing, or playing the piano with day and night time “free time.” And don’t just write this, do it! Grrr!

*Make a small list every week of specific prayers for the girls, Paul, and others. Think through even in a small way what I’m really asking for on their behalf.

*Exercise four times a week. Yowza. What was I thinking? I need to come up with a major reward if I actually do this. = )

*Organize the girls room. And Mckayla’s room. And what’s left of our room. And spring clean. And climb Mt. Everest.

*Buy a candle

*Plan the upcoming homeschool week on Friday afternoon

*Read more from our current poetry book

*More training time with the girls, talk about expectations

*Listen to Hope as she practices piano and violin at least two times a week.

*Teach Sophia long-vowel sound words. She wants to read so badly!

*Cuddle with Gracie

*Play with and tickle Mckayla.

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Those last ones aren’t really list-worthy; but as the baby due date draws near and I spend more time resting, I want to consciously spend sweet time with the girls.

I don’t believe I succeeded in making the April list short. I think I will copy and paste it to a notepad so I can view it more easily throughout the month. Oh dear! This is Easter month! I have some new ideas of ways to celebrate that will definitely take some thought and preparation, but that will have to wait for another post.

Until then…. thanks for reading!

Three months down, nine to go.

Three months down, nine to go.

The file marked “Gospel”

Imagine a file cabinet.

The top drawer is jam-packed with files all labeled with a particular sin problem. The file folders are filled with sheets of paper with applicable verses.

It’s where you go. Why you memorize Scripture.

I am struggling with this and I go find the matching solution. Bitterness? Eph. 4:31-32. Pride? James 4:5-7. Lack of contentment? I Tim. 6:6-7. Worry? Phil. 4:6-7 Lust? Matthew 5:27-28.

So here we go. Up to the file cabinet. I’m having trouble with pride; God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. That’s right! I don’t want God to resist me… I am so sorry for this sin of pride, Lord. I reject it and want to live humbly before you. 

I go to the cabinet a lot. Work hard at adding more papers to fill the folders. Occasionally have to make a new folder for a new problem rearing an ugly head.

But something still isn’t quite right. Something is missing.

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Have you ever heard the phrase, “The gospel is not just for salvation; it is for all of life”?

I don’t think I had until several years ago. When I began to hear it I thought, Yes! That sounds good. That’s right. It connected with me, but I really didn’t understand. There was nothing to attach it to in my brain. No way to fill it out or comprehend.

But thank God, little by little I am learning.

Salvation is not just forgiveness of sins, entrance to heaven, reconciliation to God, and a means of escaping hell; it is eternal life. A life that starts right at the moment of conversion. The gospel is the foundation for everything that will happen in this new life.

While it would be great to have a neat little set of rules to govern this new life by; there’s one little problem. I am still a rebel. Sin will remain in my body until it dies. A list of do’s and don’ts isn’t going to cut it.

If random commandments is all I have to keep me in line, there will be constant defeat and struggle.

Before you think I’m against rules and commandments, let me quickly say that I am all for rules and so thankful for the many clear commands to new covenant believers in the New Testament.

But when it comes to dealing with my sin, the cross is the only answer. The solitary solution, before and after conversion.

You see, I’ve discovered the bottom drawer of the cabinet. It only has one file, and that file is marked “Gospel.”

When I approach my sin with a problem/solution mentality, I’m leaving out the gospel.

So I failed to be kind to my neighbor? coveted something that wasn’t mine? invested time in a meaningless pursuit? became bitter at someone who slandered me? lied to make myself look better?

All this, yes. But more importantly, I failed to do what I was created to do. Instead of representing my Creator God in His goodness and glory, I took on the nature of His enemy representing his rebellion against God’s authority and my desire to rule myself in the way that pleases me.

I must see every sin as rebellion against God and allegiance to myself.

I must remember that Christ’s amazing sacrifice redeemed me from my sin and placed me in a position to once again glorify and fellowship with my Maker.

When I begin at the file marked “gospel” I see my sin for what it really is. Looking at the cross brings repentance in a way that nothing else can. From there, what a joy it is to see the good and wise teachings from Scripture on how to live this new life. To learn how a follower of Christ is to walk in this now-unfriendly and uncomfortable environment called the world.

What a wonderful comfort and challenge are the death and resurrection of Christ to those who believe in Him. We remember who we were, what we have been made, and what is our eternal hope.

This daily struggle of sin is not just a meaningless fight where only scattered weapons can be used in our defense. Rather it is a war that has been singularly conquered with a death blow that was promised and delivered.

We do find all of Scripture to be proftable as we are corrected and instructed in righteousness. But we use it with the big picture in mind.

Knowing the truth of that bottom file drawer causes us to hungrily search the Scriptures to find more of this amazing life we have been given. To know the Savior in every way we can; to long to be more like Him, hating our sin and fighting it to the death at all costs.

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It’s taken me days before of trying to fight sin, trying to convict myself with all the “right” passages, praying for forgiveness… all this only to realize that never once had I pondered the gospel during that time. I had completely forgotten what is crucial. Once again I was wrapped up in the religion of self-effort towards my sin, desperately needing the cross.

I wish I could say that this was a one-and-done lesson, but it hasn’t been. Still I find myself running to the file cabinet searching frantically through the top folders as I try to fight my sin, completely forgetting that one crucial file below. But in grace God’s Holy Spirit reminds me of the gospel. And little by little I’m learning to take the burdens of sin to the cross and lay them down.