Skittles and Casserole

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To say that candy is a lifelong weakness for me would be an understatement.

My father-in-law faithfully keeps me supplied with Skittles, keeps me up-to-date on the newest variations, and often throws in variety bags of chocolates just for good measure.

My sister and I once ran a rather black market operation smuggling junior church candy.

If you remember from this post it took me awhile to learn how you had to eat while pregnant. Oh yes, it also took me a long time to figure out how to keep a house stocked with the kinds of food you should eat while pregnant. I learned quickly that when I was hungry, I would eat whatever was near and easy.

Usually Skittles.

So we have a scene that makes no sense: I’m pregnant, hungry, trying desperately to get dinner on the table. Why? Because I’m hungry! And so are the little people. However, I’m so hungry that I can barely concentrate on cooking. Is there anything in the pantry I can snack on? I’m so hungry!

Out would come the easiest thing to shake out in my hand and snack on.

Skittles.

Or some such other non-satisfying substitute for a good, hearty dinner.

Need I bore you more? The more Skittles I would eat the more I would want which would make dinner take longer and would also make me want them after dinner, for a snack…

So pathetic.

After the birth of Zoe this past summer, friends from church were so kind to bring us meals. Good, delicious, well-balanced meals.

Of course, anytime you’re feeding a baby you will be hungry 24/7 so I would grab a spoonful of casserole or barbecue while putting everything out on the table. That’s so good! I would eat a helping for me and Zoe and still be eating out of the pan as I was putting it away.

I literally had chicken tortilla soup for breakfast several mornings because it was so good!

Brief digression: this was awhile after the uncontrollable Skittle snacking fiasco. I had improved a little.

It was funny to me that when I’m in that pregnancy or nursing-induced hunger cycle, I will eat whatever is there.

Sadly, it rather reminds me of myself spiritually.

My soul hungers for the God it was made to worship, yet I so often stuff myself with spiritual Skittles because I’ve failed to either prepare myself for God’s Word or cultivated an appetite for junk.

I might on a very good day fall out of bed wanting to read my Bible, but if I fail to get up before the girls, or get distracted with other things – the temptation to snack on less will persist the whole day. I won’t naturally take that five minute window when the girls are all happily occupied to be still and pray.

Hearing the Word faithfully taught or tasting it’s riches while reading alone is like taking a bite of a delicious casserole. This is what I need! I want more.

I’ve been working at learning to make those yummy casseroles (thanks everyone for the recipes!) and hunger-satisfying meals. It takes time to meal plan, grocery shop, put them together and even freeze for busy days. But oh the reward when you pull that meal out of the oven or find leftovers in the refrigerator. Yay for avoiding Skittles! (Not permanently, just as a meal substitute.) ; )

The work of preparing my heart for the Word has an even greater enemy than a sweet tooth. As I’ve already said my flesh so easily replaces the worship of God with distraction, busyness, laziness, indulgence.

May I work to prepare my heart to hear and savor the teaching of the Bible at church, to grow more desperate for it’s nourishment as I go through ordinary days here at home.

Psalm 107:8-9 Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

lyrics i love

 

Before you close your eyes to sleep
I have a promise still to keep
As I hold you in my arms.
I pray your little frame grows strong
And that faith takes hold while you are young;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
May you trust Him ‘til the end.
May you trust Him in the end.

This world is not as it should be,
But the Savior opens eyes to see
All that’s beautiful and true.
Oh may His light fill all you are
And the jewel of wisdom crown your heart;
This is my prayer for you.

Hold my hand;
I’ll teach you the Way to go.
Through the joys, through the tears,
The journey of these years,
He is with us ‘til the end.
He is faithful ‘til the end.

You’ll travel where my arms won’t reach
As the road will rise to lead your feet
On a journey of your own.
May my mistakes not hinder you
But His grace remain and guide you through;
This is my prayer for you.

Take His hand
And go where He calls you to.
And whatever comes, seek Him
With all your heart;
This will be my prayer for you.
mmmm Father, hear my ceaseless prayer;
Oh keep them in your care.

 

Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Fionan de Barra; © 2012 Gettymusic and Fionan de Barra (adm. by MusicServices.org)

Keep the door of my lips

If there’s one thing that bothers me about the first trimester of pregnancy, it’s the emotional highs and lows. Mostly the lows.

Feeling sick or tired is pretty clear cut. I feel like this because there’s a baby growing inside me.

But crankiness? impatience? frustration? a sharp tongue? I mean honestly, when was the last time you were like, “Oh, I’m flaming mad at my husband for being late because there’s a baby growing inside me.” No problem. I can just cut that emotion off right there.

It never feels that way. All the things around us that we perceive seem so real! Surely everyone in the world doesn’t turn into an inconsiderate mob the minute our hormones kick in; but it feels like the problem is with everyone else. Surely not us.

I was just a few weeks into realizing I was pregnant when I began to notice that the days were getting much harder. All of the sudden, the childishness of the girls began to get under my skin. I heard the words coming out of my mouth as harsh and unkind, not loving and patient.

At night, I would talk to Paul. “It’s so hard! I’m not any less accountable to be patient and kind, but the temptation to speak and act harshly is so much greater!” Every single minute is a battle. Every conversation. The days where you “do well” just mean you literally were fighting your flesh every five minutes and just barely surviving. At the end of the day, you are emotionally and spiritually exhausted. And there’s the days where you don’t feel like you win at all. At the end of those days you just feel really, really low.

I was sitting in church about a month ago, when I remembered a fragment of verse.

It had been one of those mornings. I had felt upset at everything and everyone. I had gotten really close to letting my feelings fly out of my mouth. Thankfully, through the schedule and rush of the morning I hadn’t had a chance. I sat in the service thinking through the morning. Slowly, my feelings subsided. I realized that it had just been a very normal morning. In fact, better than most. There were a few things good that had happened that didn’t usually.

The only real problem was me. Everything came from my perception of the circumstances, and those perceptions were being filtered by my heightened emotions.

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Set a watch, O LORD, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips. Psalm 141:3

If there was ever a time I needed to pray that verse, this was it.

So that became my verse for those weeks of my life. I can’t say I worked on memorizing it or even remembered it during hard times. The basic concept in my mind was, Don’t say anything when you feel like it. Give it some time and see if you feel differently after the initial emotions have worn off. Nine times out of ten I realized that it was really nothing. And if it was something, time gives you a much better perspective.

As I said with my napping light bulb moment, why did it have to take me until the fifth pregnancy to realize this? I wish it hadn’t; but at least now it’s helping. The crazy dramatic feelings have been less since about week thirteen, but pregnancy still has a way of getting to you.

I need to be praying even more for help to stay calm and kind. Homeschooling, potty training starting soon, busy schedules… temptation to lose it won’t be far.

Certainly there is grace and help to match the times of pregnant need.

Prayer, pools, and sunshine

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Last week after a few days of Sophia begging me to take them the pool, I promised that we would go on Wednesday morning.

Tuesday night I had the inclination to check the weather. Sophia was so excited and I didn’t want her to be destroyed if something like rain ruined the plans. Well, the mean ol’ weather channel divulged the news that there were to be thunderstorms and rain ALL DAY! Boo-hoo!

I told Sophia that we probably couldn’t go to the pool in the morning and that we would try to go again the next day.

I did think about praying with her that God would help it not to rain, but 1, though I want my kids to know how deeply God loves them, I do not want them to think of him as existing for the sole purpose of meeting their demands; 2 , I didn’t want to have to explain God’s transcendent will if she prayed that it wouldn’t rain and it did; and 3, this was all extremely close to lights out at bedtime and I really just wanted them to go to bed. Great mom, I know.

Sure enough, we woke up early to rain.

I stayed in bed after Paul left and debated whether I wanted it to stop or not. Again, Captain Unselfishness.

The rain stopped just as the girls woke up. I had decided that if it stopped raining we would go.

Sophia bounded out of bed, checked out the window, and danced down the hall, “Mommy, I prayed last night that God would help it to not rain, and it’s not raining!”

Wow. I was very humbled.

First, that my little girl would think to pray on her own. Next, that God would hear and answer her prayer.

The girls joy and anticipation was catchy so we all ate breakfast and cleaned up in a hurry. We marched down the stairs and the big girls came up with a little cheer that the little girls even joined.

“We’re goin’ to the pool.” Clap, clap. “We’re goin’ to the pool.” Clap, clap.

Even though it was not raining, I still didn’t expect it to be that great of a day. It was very cloudy and the water would probably be cold as it had been cloudy and raining for days.

I was in for one more surprise.

When we got to the pool, the whole area was bathed with warm, wonderful sunshine. This blessing was more than I could take; now it was my turn to be excited, “Girls, God is so amazing! He didn’t just make it stop raining; He gave us sunshine!”

We had the most amazing time at the pool. Measured by such milestones as Gracie jumping in with me holding her hands; Mckayla asking for me to let go of her in the water so she could float just with her jacket, and Sophia swimming the length of the pool.

It was so humbling to sit there and talk about how we don’t deserve anything from God, yet how he blesses us in ways that are so personal.

Thank you, Lord, for answering Sophia’s prayer, for our pool, and for the sunshine that tells us every day of your glory.

When a mom feels disconnected

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How many times have I walked through my house, interacted with my girls, gone about my responsibilities, but known something was wrong?

Have you ever felt like that?

I’m here, but I’m just not really here.

My girls play really well by themselves, so it’s not uncommon for me to be working around them while they play some silly game they’ve made up. But there’s still just a difference sometimes.

If I had to rattle off the symptoms they would probably go something like this: my kids aren’t listening to me, I can’t remember what I’m supposed to be doing, when is my husband ever going to get home and save me from this madness, I just want to go somewhere and be by myself…

Now sometimes these feelings are caused by just ordinary, crazy motherhood. I know that. But I think a lot of moms would agree that there are other times when we know something is genuinely wrong.

When I begin to feel like this, and when I’m finally honest with myself, I have to admit: the problem isn’t my kids…

… the problem is me.

A lot of voices “out there” tell moms to just relax. Go do something for yourself… have some me time... Or the Christian version: There’s grace… there’s rest… just remember how much God loves you… He knows what you’re doing is hard…

Those things are true, absolutely, but when I jump to those before really dealing with the issue, nothing is solved, just temporarily passed over.

You see, I’m prone to wander. A converted idol-worshiper.

How quickly I slip from glorying and rejoicing in God to seeking my own pleasure and satisfaction in temporary things, maybe even my kids or domestic accomplishments. And from there it’s just a slippery slope to being discontented and unhappy with everything because loving God has been abandoned.

I try to take these feelings very seriously. As already said, I, by nature was born bent against God. Though His child now and blessed with unspeakable grace and mercy, it’s all too easy to forget.

The only answer is repentance.

I wish I could say that at the moment of realization, I repent immediately, but of course, that’s not always the case. The reason that I’m writing this now is because of two days that have been an absolute struggle. I wish that I had given in sooner.

I don’t think our kids keep us from God as much as we would like to think; they just manifest where we are with God in glaring, vivid color.

When things are turned back right, the day might not look all that different to an onlooker, but the heart will be different, and the mom will know.

{Israel recap} Day 12: In other news

Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles

(Thanks so much for your patience as we rerun this Israel series. It’s almost over…)

Since life is still clipping along at an ordinary pace and there is not much to report from the day, I thought I would talk a little bit about one of my goals for this time.

I believe it is a common theme among young mothers who claim to be followers of Christ that finding time to devote yourself to Him in prayer and Bible study can be at best elusive and often downright frustrating. I definitely have to confess that this has been a struggle for me.

I have also realized that simple devotional reading (i.e. go to a passage, read, think: what does this mean to me?) does not suffice for learning the Bible and therefore learning of Christ.

If I can copy off of my husband and some of his professors, you must determine first of all, “What does the passage mean?”, before you can ever make a conclusion regarding what it means to you.

This requires the skill of diligent Bible study.

This past semester my husband was required to read The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study by Oletta Wald. His praise for it caught my attention. “This is the best book I have ever read on teaching someone how to study the Bible!” My ears perked up; one, because he is extremely careful about how people teach/interpret the Bible and rarely speaks so well of a book; two, because I noticed the book was very short – maybe I could work through it! And finally build a foundation for how to study the Bible.

Well, in case you haven’t guessed already, one of my goals for this time alone was to begin reading and working through that book.

This book really is wonderful. I’ve actually only gotten through the first chapter and practice exercise, but it has been so helpful. It’s really teaching me how to dig through a passage, not to find something that no one has heard of before, but to understand the true meaning of the text.

In all honesty, I’m ashamed at how little I have studied the Bible, especially through these last five years of childbearing.

Is it difficult to find the time? Yes; but it’s also difficult to live day in and day out without that all-satisfying water of the Word. Believe me, I know.

Lord-willing, I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue to work through this little book. Interested in checking it out? Here’s an amazon link: The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 11: exhaustion setting in

Day 12: In other news

Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
Viewing the Sea of Galilee from Mount Arbel
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles
In view here are the regions where Jesus did most of His miracles

Since life is still clipping along at an ordinary pace and there is not much to report from the day, I thought I would talk a little bit about one of my goals for this time.

I believe it is a common theme among young mothers who claim to be followers of Christ that finding time to devote yourself to Him in prayer and Bible study can be at best elusive and often downright frustrating. I definitely have to confess that this has been a struggle for me.

I have also realized that simple devotional reading (i.e. go to a passage, read, think: what does this mean to me?) does not suffice for learning the Bible and therefore learning of Christ.

If I can copy off of my husband and some of his professors, you must determine first of all, “What does the passage mean?”, before you can ever make a conclusion regarding what it means to you.

This requires the skill of diligent Bible study.

This past semester my husband was required to read The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study by Oletta Wald. His praise for it caught my attention. “This is the best book I have ever read on teaching someone how to study the Bible!” My ears perked up; one, because he is extremely careful about how people teach/interpret the Bible and rarely speaks so well of a book; two, because I noticed the book was very short – maybe I could work through it! And finally build a foundation for how to study the Bible.

Well, in case you haven’t guessed already, one of my goals for this time alone was to begin reading and working through that book.

This book really is wonderful. I’ve actually only gotten through the first chapter and practice exercise, but it has been so helpful. It’s really teaching me how to dig through a passage, not to find something that no one has heard of before, but to understand the true meaning of the text.

In all honesty, I’m ashamed at how little I have studied the Bible, especially through these last five years of childbearing.

Is it difficult to find the time? Yes; but it’s also difficult to live day in and day out without that all-satisfying water of the Word. Believe me, I know.

Lord-willing, I’ll keep you updated on my progress as I continue to work through this little book. Interested in checking it out? Here’s an amazon link: The New Joy of Discovery in Bible Study

Thanks for reading my first series: Taking care of four little girls alone (while my husband is on an amazing study trip to Israel). Here are links to the other related posts. 

Series coming soon

It’s official: the Israel trip is on

Official introduction

Day 1: to turn out that last light

Day 2: lonely in a crowd

Day 3: Is something wrong with me?

Day 4: Sometimes you just need…

Day 5: It hit me

Day 6: The problem with “me” time

Day 7: I need you

Day 8: An answered prayer

Day 9: Letting others be there for you

Day 10: the weakest link

Day 11: exhaustion setting in