Thursday, May 31, 2012

Um, Does This Baby Make My Belly Look Big???



Where Is The Focus???


While mindlessly watching something on TV, this commercial for Jenny Craig came on.  Like most advertising, media, manipulative marketing ploys – it goes in one ear and out the other with me. . . . but this one really annoyed me, even to the point of slight anger.  Here it is:



This, to me, is one of the HUGE problems with advertising and the negative messages it sends to viewers.  Think about what this commercial is saying.  Where is the focus???  She's questioning what's wrong with her and feeling broken over having a baby and not having her pre-pregnancy body back.  Oh, and don't forget that she can totally relate to you because she feels bad for the women (slackers maybe??) who don't get up to make a phone call like she did.  Apparently the goal of having children in this day and age is to look like we DIDN'T have children!?

To be fair, and not 100% cynical, I must say that I’ve had my own on again/off again struggles with weight in general, let alone the anxiety of weight gain during some of my pregnancies.  It’s no surprise given the stigma that is put on women – let alone pregnant women – where the focus always resorts to how sexy/skinny one is while having a baby . . . yet not look like we just had a baby.  Heck, even the model pics on the Motherhood Maternity site for shorts displays a majority of the models wearing high heels or chunky healed sandals . . . very few flats. Why?  Well, because we all know the right type of heel can elongate and make the leg appear more slender/sexy – duh!? . . . . **fashion advise courtesy of What Not To Wear - sarcasm incl. as a bonus**

We have created a self-absorbed culture that focuses more on body image, restricted weight gain, how 'good' mom looks during/after pregnancy versus one that celebrates the idea of bringing a new life into the world!   Celebrity Mom's who appear 'too big' are ridiculed in the magazines.  While celebrity moms who lose the weight a mere couple months, or even weeks later are exalted as being awesome, sexy and something for us 'other slacker women' to try and achieve.  Where is the Focus???

Anything outside of the 'recommended' 25-30 lb. weight gain is up for judgement.  No wonder mom's are racked with anxiety & guilt after baby comes to rush and exercise, restrict calories, etc. in an effort to attain the goal of fitting into those pre-pregnancy jeans again.  No wonder pediatricians showcase that losing weight is a great benefit of breastfeeding.  The blessing and joy of baby gets lost in the mixed emotions and shuffle of this false reality we embrace.  Where is the focus???

Please don't misunderstand my point - I am not abdicating a mother's responsibility to be healthy.  I'm honestly just ready for a reality check.  I'm tired of delusional skinny/sexy/unattainable body images being the 'norm' that we are to compare ourselves to.  Then on top of it, we're urged to feel bad, less than. . . or BROKEN because we don't look a certain way during or after pregnancy.  Whatever happened to being overjoyed to just be pregnant? There are many women who struggle with infertility and would lavish the opportunity to be in that position. Whatever happened to embracing our curves and relishing the softness of our body as we prepare to snuggle, cushion, protect, and nurture our baby?   God created us to be warm and inviting to our newborns. . . . not hard and crusty like a piece of beef jerky!


Again, where is our focus???



Monday, May 21, 2012

Being 'IN' the World and Not 'OF' It - Family


ONE Size DOES NOT Fit All


So the hot gossip that has ensued after the publishing of Time's eye catching article on attachment parenting has really cropped up many debates.  In my opinion, the article has done nothing more than fuel the 'mommy wars' and has further solidified sides of those who choose to raise their kids one way vs. those moms who choose another.  As always it got me thinking about the changes and choices our family has made over the last several years.  So here's a bit of history into the inner workings of our Brood! . . .


I can hear the question like it was yesterday after having C-Funk (2nd child) . . . "Are you going to have any more?"
My response . . . . "NOPE - I'm done!  I've got one girl, one boy and I'm all set!"

My Bigs. . . . and blessings! - Spillz & C-Funk


Then baby #3 came along approx. 5-ish years later.  Again, I hear the question. . . "Are you going to have any more?"
My response. . . . "NOPE, three's a good uneven number.  Besides, this one is a handful so I'm all set!"

My Fiesty Little Angel - Wookeese


Then one year after Wookeese was born (3rd child), I graduated from college and went back to work in a job that was related to my area of study. . . and for the record - a job that I really liked!  Life was good.  I had a 'good' size family, a 'good' job, was a college graduate, 'good' house, had 'good' friends (still do *wink*), etc.  So life seemed pretty 'good' according to the norms I saw around me.  But I felt anxious, wondering why I was still feeling empty or like I was missing something? 

My heart was slowly being transformed by God and I was beginning to see things differently.  Suddenly being successful at work didn't seem so important.  Having a decent size house?  I could take or leave it.  My children?  I was beginning to feel more convicted on the parent I currently was and what type of parent I should actually be to my children.  I missed them terribly, wanted to be more involved with them, pining to be home when they got off the bus, no longer feeling comfortable sending my youngest to daycare.  I wanted to be/give more to them than I was currently doing.  So I put in my notice at work. . . .

Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from the LORD; they are a reward from him.

Then several months later we were expecting baby #4.  AGAIN, I hear. . . . . "Are you done now?", almost in a condescending way by some (not by all since some people actually DO like children, lol).  My own mother's tone was anything other than joyful at the announcement - more worried on how I would handle everything.  Reality set in that not everyone will agree with the choices we were beginning to make for our family.

But we stood firm on our convictions regarding family.  My revised response when asked if we were done having more kids. . . . "I don't know.  I kept saying I was done after all the others but my heart changed and here we are." 

Sleepy Nattie Bear


My husband and I had honestly taken a hard look at our family during those months after I left my job and after having Miss Nattie Bear.  The family values we wanted to instill, the emotional/spiritual climate we wanted to embrace were now more pressing topics of concern . . . . . but most importantly we were searching the question: What was God's plan for our family??  Then we both decided to just pray, give it up to God and whatever happened would happen.  We were ready for this, right!?  Well, four months after giving birth to Nattie Bear (4th child), S-Money$ and I found out we were expecting baby #5!   I never expected God to answer our prayers so quickly!
 **LESSON - when you earnestly pray, be open and prepared for when God DOES answer it!**




Upon hearing the news, our oldest child was not so enthused.  Worries about our family being 'too big'. . . . 'what about the age gap?' (13 yrs between her and #5) and 'what would people think?' began to plague her heart.  I would be lying if I said those thoughts never crossed my mind at first too.  Were we ready for this?  Of course we were, otherwise God would not have blessed us like this.

I have seen other blog posts from large families, heard of other questions/comments some families get such as these:
  • "Wow, 5 kids!  You're crazy!"
  • "So you've gotta be done NOW, right?!?!"
  • "I don't know how you do it.  I can't handle/stand/deal with the X-amount of kids I have!" (usually said person has less than 5 kids)
  • "So, when is your husband getting fixed?" OR "So, do you plan on getting your tubes tied after this?"
  • Some type of reference comparing the mom-to-be as 'Octo-Mom' or making a derogatory comment about the Duggars and making comparisons.
  • "Are you done YET??"

Though I must add that I have not been privy to much 'large family judgements/backlash'.   But for any momma out there who has had to deal with rude comments about their choice in family size, here are some witty comebacks you might be interested in!  ;)
And to be honest, I'm sure not all of the above statements are malevolent and said to purposely criticize.  Many people are just curious when you are out with several kids in toe.  But regardless,  these types of comments do reveal a stark reality on how many people in our society view children and the stereotype of how a family is 'supposed' to look.  It also reveals why my daughter had the doubts/worries that she did. . . and myself. 

For example, if you have more than 1-2 kids, if all your kids are the same gender, if you have adopted and your kids aren't the same nationality as you, if you have any kids with disabilities or differences, kids with behavioral issues, if you breastfeed your kids past a certain age, if you co-sleep with your children, if your kids don't like/play sports, dress a certain way, eat a certain way, blah blah blah, etc. - then what? 

In relation to family, when you live 'IN' the world and are not so focused being a part 'OF' it because you are focused on God's design/plan for your family, your brood may not take on the 'normal' societal shape.  There shouldn't be a need to judge others if you are focused on your own family and what shape you want your brood to take.  ;)

But fear of man & what others think, fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of losing the 'luxuries' you enjoy, fear of being able to 'handle it all', fear of having enough $$ will ALWAYS cause one to second guess the blessing of adding more children.  Would I reject any other type of blessing God gave me?  No!  I don't want to be afraid and reject/turn away from what He has to offer me and our family anymore.  This pregnancy with baby #5 has truly been a journey of acceptance. . . . a journey of submitting to God. . . . . and a journey of living outside of the box with our family.  And for me. . . . I can honestly say that I'M TOTALLY OK WITH THAT!  :)


Psalm 127: 3-5
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.


Christmas 2011


***Linked to:  Raising Arrows  and The Better Mom









Thursday, May 17, 2012

Weeds In Your Garden

With many days this past March seeming more Summer-ish than the outer endings of Winter/start of crisp Spring, it has caused some vegetation confusion in my flower beds.  During a time I should not even have to worry about weeds cropping up, I have seen the inner working of their mayhem begin!  Now that weather has again settled back into its usual equilibrium and the cool crispness has once again returned, I must admit that I am not too motivated to pick weeds in the cold.  So they sat.  Allowed to flourish just a little longer.  Now it's May and my flower beds look borderline atrocious!  *sigh*





Thinking of the work that needs to get done to make my garden a bit more presentable, I was struck by the irony of this whole scenario.  Is not my life a walking testament to this?  Like my front flower bed, I too have allowed 'weeds' to grow and fester in my life.  These 'weeds' have been people who have used their influence to grow and choke out bits of me.  See, weeds don't care how beautiful the flower is next to them.  Weeds will suck the life & nutrients out of the ground whether you are a rose, a lily, or even another weed.  Without reason or apology, they quickly overtake a whole garden area and choke out whatever is around them.  Destined to put their need of life before all other surrounding vegetation.  Survival of the fittest. 

Could I have been mistaken?  Could I have been oversensitive as to the intention of those who appear as 'weeds' to me now?  Yes, this has been me.  I was lazy.  I was afraid.  I was confused on how to de-weed my life.  So I let the weeds multiply, grow and further suffocate my Spirit.  But I no longer feel compelled to keep 'weeds' around me.   As 1 Corinthians 15:33 mentions, ". . . bad company corrupts good character". 


Jesus' parables of the weeds in Matthew 13:24-30 can serve as a reminder . . . .

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field.  But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away.  When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.  “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’  
‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
 ‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”


DO NOT be mistaken.  In our life, there will be weeds and they will be planted by the enemy!  We are not to be naive and think that everyone has our best interest at heart, that everyone loves us and that everyone is there to help us.  Yes, we are to love others.  Yes, we are to have mercy.  And Yes, we are to emulate the same grace that God has given to us.  However, I also believe the Bible when it speaks of evil around us.

Matthew 10:16Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.

We are to live among the weeds; not become them or be choked out by them.  We must be discerning of those around us.  There are many who are 'weeds'. . . who are malevolent, do not seek repentance or change and only seek to harm.  We are not to entangle ourself in that, enable their sin or be a part of it. 

Yes, sometimes that means you will have to pray, lightly weed your garden, pray some more and then leave the final weeding up to the Lord.  Ultimately, it will be God who will cast the final judgement on those who have spent their life being 'weeds'.  The parable tells us this when Jesus returns and harvests His followers. . . . forever separating us from the weeds. 

Romans 2:5-6
"But because you are stubborn and refuse to turn from your sin, you are storing up terrible punishment for yourself. For a day of anger is coming, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.  He will judge everyone according to what they have done."



Is it time to weed your garden??

***Linked to:   The Better Mom

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Being 'IN' the World and Not 'OF' It



I came across this quote in someones response on Sarah Mae's blog Stretching Into Blue

"There is one thing worse than failing before men and that is being successful in things that don't matter to God"


The above quote stuck out to me. How many times I have added too many things to the plate in an effort to 'please man' without consulting my heavenly Father?  Far too many to count.  It's not out of malevolence that I've acquired too much on my to-do list.  I really do feel led to try and serve, learn, teach, etc. all in the name of God.  But do I consult God first? . . . . Um, not as often as I should.  The second I seek to accomplish what I think it His will without actually bringing Him along for the ride is basically a recipe for true failure.  I've replace God with my own pride.  Seeking accomplishment of the world and acceptance of others.  Seeking to be a part of the 'group'.  Being OF this world and not simply living IN it. 

Matthew 16:26
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

1 Corinthians 7:31
Those who use the things of the world should not become attached to them. For this world as we know it will soon pass away.

Lord forgive me, because if I struggle with this so much - how am I ever going to be the role model to teach this to my children?  So much of the pleasures/desires of this world call to them. . . . materials, status, money, belonging to the crowd, outward appearance, latest fashion/music/trend, etc.  How can I teach them to quiet that inner voice calling them to move ahead without taking God with them?  How can I better discern and weed out the negative influences that aim to steal their heart and taint their spirit? 

Matthew 18:7
What sorrow awaits the world, because it tempts people to sin. Temptations are inevitable, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting.

John 12:25
Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity.

It is a delicate balance.  Understand that I don't want to take everything away in an overly legalistic way.  How would they ever be able to cope, persevere, stand firm if they're never tested by the sins of this world?  How can they reflect on their own sin if I put them in a bubble, overly protecting them from what's truly out there?  They cannot learn love and mercy if they are never tested with the grave reality of sin - theirs and of others. 

1 Corinthians 5:10
But I wasn’t talking about unbelievers who indulge in sexual sin, or are greedy, or cheat people, or worship idols. You would have to leave this world to avoid people like that.

Then on the other end of the scale, I don't want to overindulge - allowing them to be supersaturated in what 'everyone else' is doing.  Akin to leaving my children to the 'wolves'. . . . fend for themselves and pray that God helps them work it out.  No, my job as their parent is to strike that balance in between.  It's that balance that I'm also trying to learn for myself. . . . . .

Matthew 10:16
Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves.


. . . . . thoughts to be continued. . . .



***Linked to:  Women Living Well

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

My Birthday - What Another Year Has Taught Me


Wow, it's been a whole year past since I've been here before.  Another 365 days, or would you say 366 since Feb. 2012 had a Leap Year day???  Either way, it's been awhile.  A lot can happen in a week around our house, let alone a whole year.  With baby #5 due in June, basement finishing project currently underway, and a whole myriad of misc. to keep us busy - it's no wonder a lot can change.


So what has a whole year done for this birthday girl? Hmm, time for some inner reflection . . . .


Over the last year, I've learned that some things in this world really aren't that important. . . . or at least not as important as I used to make them.  And some things are not negotiable; up for debate.   In a nutshell, I've learned more about what to let go of and what I should grasp onto harder.  For instance. . . .

  • Some people really are mean-spirited, won't change and are not content until you are discontent
  • Other people are a blessing and I am forever thankful they've been a part of my life.  Don't know what I'd do w/out their encouragement
  • Being home to raise my kids is most important in this season of life vs. a career
  • Baseboards/ceiling fan/ledges being dirty are not the end of the world.  Who looks at those things anyways?!
  • The 5-second rule reigns supreme in this house. . . . unless what was dropped was wet/gooey.
  • Underwear/burp rags really don't have to be folded
  • Kids being crazy actually helps calm the chaos. . . they have to run out of energy sooner or later! *wink*
  • Pets are a great addition to a family, but some family dynamics no longer fit the ability to have/care for a pet as needed
  • Fighting the laundry 'monster' in a house with 6 people is a futile effort.  As long as they have 1 clean outfit & 1 clean pair of undergarments - we're all good!
  • Having less $ has caused us to focus more on what we DO have, what we can afford to GIVE away and how to better UTILIZE what is currently in our possession.
  • Coordinated nap times with both Wookeese & Nattie Bear is a blessing
  • The human body can actually function on less sleep than what I think is ideal
  • Patience!  Wish I had more but I do see its benefit when I'm of the right mind to use it. 
  • No longer do I harbor an aversion to minivans.  I really like our orange 'party' machine.  :)

But most importantly, over the last year I've learned that even in my moments of doubt, fear, resentment and lack of faith - God STILL continues to stand by and show me that He hasn't given up on me!  When we've run short on supplies, he provides.  When I become frazzled, he is there to calm. 


And when I hurt, he has brought others in my life to show me love.  There really is no greater lesson & gift than that. ♥


**Linked to:  A Wise Woman Builds Her Home, Women Living Well

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter the 'American' Way


I remember many Easter mornings coming into the living room and seeing the large basket filled to the brim with candy, toys and other misc. goodies.  My heart and taste buds leaped for joy as I ravaged forward toward my morning reward.  The more candy the better and I'm sure my parents paid dearly many holidays. 


One article I found online from The Fiscal Times listed expected Easter spending for 2012 to increase (from 2011 stats) by 11% to the budget crippling tune of $16.75 Billion. . . . . YES, I said BILLION!  
The article also lists the avg. spending of Americans age 18 or older at approximately $145.28.  As you can imagine, these figures are materialized in everything from new Easter outfits, candy, baskets, decorations, cards, and we can't forget Easter Dinner!  I'm sure there's something I'm missing to make up the $16.75 BILLION. . . . . sorry, but I can't resist bolding and highlighting that figure in red.  It's so astronomical that I can't bypass it's significance relating to how we view holidays in our society.

Gift baskets from Meijers
Anything your Easter-filled heart desires from Target
Do I even need to mention good ol' price cutting Wal-Mart?  Really?  Are the inflatable bunnies on the lawn really necessary???



*SIGH*  I must admit that I've bought into the Easter myth for many years, mindlessly buying more stuff, more candy. . . . MORE JUNK.  Apparently, not much has changed with the 'meaning' of Easter from when I was younger.   This is clearly evident when you look around at the merchandising machine of the 'American' way.   No holiday is safe from the marketing ploy to buy more stuff for others or in a shallow attempt to make yourself feel good. :(


In my opinion. . . I think the devil created peeps, lol!  ;)


But S-Money$ and I  don't want to keep doing things this way simply because it's how we've done it in the past.  In the past we missed the main point of this holiday. . . . and that was JESUS.  I wonder, like us, how many others call themselves Christians yet leave out the key component of this holiday - the key to our salvation, the answer to our sin???  But not anymore!  We can't keep going on the wrong path.  S-Money$ and I are determined to make this change - not just for us but for our children's sake.  I don't want them to get older and celebrate Easter thinking it is only about candy, baskets, people dressed up in awful bunny costumes coaxing the kids to 'smile for the camera', etc.   It makes a total mockery of all JESUS has done for us by conquering sin, death and Satan yet not even acknowledging Him during this time.  Rising from the dead to show that the evil one and death cannot hold Him.  AMEN!  THAT is what I want our children to remember.  That is the essence of this day.  And THAT is the TRUTH! 


We made sure this year to cut our spending to $15 per child with gifts, very minimal candy and even a small egg hunt that the kids knew were from Mom & Dad; not the Easter Bunny. We also did an activity making resurrection rolls to signify Christ's death, burial and resurrection (hence the name of the rolls) along with the story of why this is so important to us and our eternity.  See, we can be in the world but not of it.  We can take some aspects - like the joy of gift giving - and redeem it in a more positive way.  We don't have to live blindly when Christ has so graciously given us a chance to see.


Have a Happy Easter remembering first and foremost that He Is Risen!!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Coolest Mom Ever!

No matter how hectic the day or how much margin I'm in desperate need for. .. . sometimes God gives me a nudge that just letting go can do everyone a great world of good!  The three oldest kiddies decided to take advantage of my 'more lenient than normal' mood and commenced into a full out indoor water fight. . . .






Besides, being dubbed the 'Coolest Mom Ever' by my oldest helps make it all worth it!  ;)


p.s. Don't worry S-Money$ . . . . they cleaned up their mess w/no fuss. ♥

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

M A R G I N

Margin.  Do you have it? 

Credit: revolutionannapolis.com


And NO I don't mean the outer area on your paper. . . . though the concept is similar.  I'm talking about the space we have left in the day for meaningful things.  Do you know what that is in your life?  Many days it doesn't seem like there's much margin left at the end of the day.  Many of our nights are fraught with a non-sleeping baby, early waking toddler and night owl older kids (13 and almost 9 yrs.) so you can imagine the yin-yang pull on both S-Money$ and I to accommodate and meet everyones' 'needs. . . . Oh, I guess S-Money$ and I should be meeting each other's needs too - OOPS! 

Due to some of the craziness in our life, I decided to pick up the book 'Breathe - Creating Space for God in a Hectic Life' by Keri Wyatt Kent.  I received it several years ago through our church's MOPS group (Mothers of PreSchoolers).  Years later, the words Keri shares are not only uplifting but definitely an encouragement for me to not get discouraged. . . but to keep aiming for that 'Sabbath Simplicity' that she speaks about in her book.

Within the first chapter I am convicted and humbled by the point she brings up,
"As much as you may think you want that intimacy with your heavenly Father, if you keep yourself too busy, you will squeeze that relationship to the edges of your life.  It can happen whether you are too busy with your kids and home, your career, or even doing 'religious' things like teaching Sunday school or doing your homework for Bible study."  


Having good intentions that don't materialize into action is futile.  Each day, though, I'm faced with this reality.  The issue with margin lies in my own choices - I know this.  Like I shared with good friends the other night over dinner, I try to be everything for everyone - SuperMom for hubby, kids, etc. - but is that really glorifying the Father if by the end of the day I'm ready to collapse in a heap in my bed?  If I volunteer only to dread the impending date out of sheer exhaustion & stress?  Jesus was busy yet he was able to carve out the margin he needed to rest and be with the Father.  Shouldn't this be more my example than everyone else I see running ragged as I mindlessly follow?


But I am not alone.  I am not the only mother/wife/person searching for some sort of balance in life.  Searching for that area of margin where I can live out 'Sabbath Simplicity' - or even just take in the moment and breathe.  It's not just Keri's words that bring me to this realization that I need some change in my life and attitude, but also God's Word.  His promise in Matthew 11:28 seem like a cool drink for my already parched heart. . . "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

He sends the invitation - "Come to me. . ".  All I have to do is respond.  I don't have all the answers everyday.  If I did, then stress/exhaustion/frustration/tiredness wouldn't exist.  But I do have an invitation.  An invite to not only come to Him but also to seek his calling on what the margin in my life should be . . "and I will give you rest." 

Dare I respond? 


**Linked to: Raising Homemakers / Raising Arrows  / Women Living Well

Friday, March 30, 2012

The Five Love Languages

I remember reading Gary Chapman's book 'The Five Love Languages' early in my marriage and not only enjoyed the contents, but I also learned a little more about myself and hubby.  For those not familiar with Mr. Chapman, the idea surrounding the five love languages is that all people show love in five basic ways - see below.  Also, each individual will exhibit a primary 'love language' a majority of the time and possibly a secondary 'language'. . . . though at times we may show someone a blending/combination of all five. 

For example, when taking the assessment quiz - my primary love language is Quality Time with Words of Affirmation as my secondary. S-Money$'s primary love language is Touch and Quality Time as his secondary (though Words of Affirmation was close for 2nd place).  The assessment quiz coined us to a 'T' as we both fit the results 100%. 

Those five Love Languages are (excerpts from the website):

Words of Affirmation - If this is your love language, unsolicited compliments mean the world to you. Hearing the words, “I love you,” are important—hearing the reasons behind that love sends your spirits skyward. Insults can leave you shattered and are not easily forgotten.

Quality Time -Being there for this type of person is critical, but really being there—with the TV off, fork and knife down, and all chores and tasks on standby—makes your significant other feel truly special and loved. Distractions, postponed dates, or the failure to listen can be especially hurtful. 

Gifts - Don’t mistake this love language for materialism. . . . If you speak this language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. A missed birthday, anniversary, or a hasty, thoughtless gift would be disastrous—so would the absence of everyday gestures.

Acts of Service - Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Touch - This language isn’t all about the bedroom. . . . Hugs, pats on the back, holding hands, and thoughtful touches on the arm, shoulder, or face—they can all be ways to show excitement, concern, care, and love. Physical presence and accessibility are crucial, while neglect or abuse can be unforgivable and destructive.



Recently pondering the concept again, I put Mr. Chapman's book on hold at our library, 'The Five Love Languages of Children'.  I was familiar with what the five languages are so surely it shouldn't be too hard to guess which 'languages' my kids speak.  But it's funny how years later I'm learning all over again!  This time I'm learning the love languages of my children; more specifically - The Bigs aka Spillz & C-Funk; who are 13 yrs. old and almost 9 yrs. old respectively.  I must say that I was even surprised by the results . . . . well not completely surprised but there was one that threw me for a loop!

Spillz's primary love language turned out to be Quality Time.  Now that didn't surprise me since even from a young age, she's always been ready to hang out, get in the car and go somewhere with me or anyone!  She likes her friend time and definitely recharges being around other people. ♥

C-Funk's primary love language was Gifts.  I don't know why it wasn't more clear to me - I guess because he is usually so much more reserved and tends to recharge by having time to himself either reading, building, creating.  He's much more 'internally' focused and deep - meaning, you never know what could be rumbling under the surface.  So gifts?  Wow - it all started to make sense!  Each time he is into a new 'thing' - be it Beyblades, Lego building sets, Ninjago's, Nerf dart guns, etc. - it is all he talks about even to the point of minor obsession.  But beneath the surface I now see a much deeper gratitude from an individual that when he receives a gift, it is the best prize in the world and his outpouring of 'Thanks' towards the giver is clearly heard/expressed.  He's such a sweet little man and S-Money$ reminded me of his 'language' when I was quick to point out about not being greedy/making our stuff or desires our idols when he kept going on about which Nerf gun may be best for his birthday. . . . . Maybe that's why I missed this ever so obvious language in him.  I've been so focused on teaching that I forgot Jesus' biggest command we are to live out. . . . that is LOVE.

 

*Parental lesson in humility learned thanks to Dr. Chapman's book, the Holy Spirit & the hubby working on my heart!*


NOTE:
If you'd like to take the quiz and find out your Love Language - here's the link!
Love Language Assessment

p.s. if you take it, feel free to share - I love seeing the diff. mix of love languages!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Honest About Motherhood

  • Mommy 1: "OMG!  My kids are driving me CRAZY! What about you? What's the WORST part about being a mom?" 
  • Mommy 2: "Oh, there's nothing that bad.  It's all a blessing!"
  • Mommy 1: "What?  C'mon, really?"
  • Mommy 2: *pauses to think*  "Well, I don't know.  Nothing that I can really think of off-hand.  I just rely on God to get me through"
  • Mommy 1*internally screaming to self - "What do you mean, there's nothing you can think     of?"*  . . . . . finally says out loud to Mommy 2, "Oh, well that's good."


Ever have a similar conversation with a mom like this where it seemed everyday was filled with butterflies, rainbows, homeschooling, bible stories, organic food, hugs/kisses, singing, etc. . . . . and dare I say - unicorns??  I came across a great blog posting titled, "It Doesn't Help Anyone To Not Be Honest About Motherhood" by blogger Sarah Mae.  Her beginning paragraph struck a chord with me:

"I remember a few years ago when I was having a really hard time with the day to day of life. I had two little ones and was pregnant. I felt very lonely, I was overwhelmed, and I suffered from tremendous guilt that I wasn’t doing enough or being a good enough wife, mother, or homemaker."
It struck a chord because after having our oldest three kids approximately 4.5 - 5 years apart, I too find myself in the "Two Littles and One On the Way" phase as I persevere through the last trimester with baby #5.   Do I feel lonely?  At times.  Am I overwhelmed?  Yes - more often than I'd like to admit.  Do I carry a baggage of guilt through my day?  Undoubtedly - YES!  There is always something I didn't get to, a request I delay, A bible that collects dust, playtime that is missed, time that it lost.  All things that, when I'm honest, make me uncomfortable.

It can become far too easy in searching for answers from other moms to become even more discouraged.  Please don't misunderstand my above Mommy conversation example.  Relying on God, homeschooling, organic, etc. are not bad.  But I believe when we take those aspects through our day, sugarcoat a bit then dispense to other moms without the reality of being sinful, human and making mistakes, it can be damaging as well as discouraging.  Though there are many great 'mommy' blogs and no shortage of moms willing to offer advice - we must be careful to filter what is truly helpful vs. adding their judgement/condescending suggestion in with our already hot mess of a moment.  Because that's what it is - a moment.  It's only a season and will pass. . . . or at least that's what I keep telling myself as I squint my eyes through the storm and repeat mantra, repeat mantra, repeat mantra!! 

During Jesus' ministry, he knew what fate lay ahead and when talking to his disciples he made sure to be honest about what was to come.

*Matthew 16:21*
From then on Jesus began to tell his disciples plainly that it was necessary for him to go to Jerusalem, and that he would suffer many terrible things at the hands of the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He would be killed, but on the third day he would be raised from the dead.


*Matthew 17:22-23*
After they gathered again in Galilee, Jesus told them, “The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of his enemies. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” And the disciples were filled with grief.

*Matthew 20:17-18* 
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die.


See, Jesus didn't sugarcoat the truth!  He didn't tell his disciples, "Hey dudes - look, see I have somewhere to go and, um, I'll be back to hang out in like 3 days.  OK?"  NO!  He knew his mission.  He knew how it would affect others, how they needed to prepare and he layed it out there.  No questions, no guilt, no lies.  You know how I think he did it?  First, submission to the Father - that's a given!  But also because he was first honest with himself.  He didn't have to sugarcoat because he was confident in the mission set before him.  He knew what he had to do and the importance of it.  There was no need to lie to himself or others. 

But what about me??  Or what about you??  Here's some more for thought . . . . Do we even know our mission in motherhood? If so, do we accept it?  If we embellish, is it because we don't want someone else to feel uncomfortable by our raw feelings or is it our own discomfort/feelings of inadequacy that we dislike and try to hide through walls of a smile or 'I'm doing great!' answers??   

We have to be honest with ourselves first.  Does motherhood suck sometimes.  Yes!  But do the bad days diminish the good days/moments that God has placed before us?  Definitely NO!  And hopefully through that honesty, intimacy can lead others struggling with the same plight to reach out and help pull us out of the drowning pool we know as 24/7 Everyday life. . . . .
. . . . or better yet, we can be the encourager that another mother needs to get through those tough seasons of life.  :)


**Linked To: Raising Arrows, The Straightened Path, The Better Mom

Monday, March 12, 2012

UNPLUGGED . . . . Sort Of!


This past weekend S-Money$ and I decided to experiment with our family going somewhat unplugged from Friday at 5:30pm to Sunday at 5:30pm.   The operative word of ‘somewhat’ meant that we had no access to a computer or Ipod (our main ‘techie’ gadgets du jour) and we utilized minimal TV time.  Now we did watch a couple of family movies/short episodes of the kid’s fav. cartoon and we let the kids play some rounds of Mario Kart together. . . . didn’t want to miss out on any family battles! 


When first hearing of the change, the older two kids – who tend to be more tied to their ‘gadgets’ – were a bit distraught and made sure to voice their discontent.  We are all allowed an opinion, but us parent-folk stuck to our guns.  Here’s a bit of what we learned going somewhat gadget free:



  • First and foremost – we won’t DIE from lack of a computer/I-pod
  • Creativity can flourish in the absence of needless distractions
  • Siblings can form new bonds of playtime, hanging out, etc.
  • New hobbies found or old ones rediscovered
  • Meaningful conversations can take place in person or voice/voice. . . not text!
  • The home can be a haven
  • And most importantly è  When we limit doing everything WE want, we can open ourselves up to better reflect on what God truly wants for us.




1 Corinthians 10:23 states, “You say, “I am allowed to do anything” —but not everything is good for you. You say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is beneficial.”


This little experiment, which will now become more of a norm in our house, was not to condemn technology or shun our family from that part of everyday life.  The point was that I could sense something deemed ‘beneficial’ was becoming more of an idol in all of our lives.  Time together and time in the Word was being overlooked/ignored over the desire for internet surfing, internet games, texting friends, updating Facebook, pinning on Pinterest (my guilty pleasure), etc.  Anything can be beneficial until it begins to consume our hearts, thoughts and time.  As Mark Driscoll has noted regarding worldly things – we can either Receive it, Reject it or Redeem it.  As I mentioned previously, receiving our gadgets ‘as-is’ was idolatry for us – pure and simple.  Rejecting it would probably do more harm.  We chose instead to redeem our technology by minimizing its use and centering what use we had around family oriented activities where relationship was preserved/highlighted.  


**Linked to: 

 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Monday Musings with Monsters, Midwives and Menus - Oh My!

Wow, I guess it's been awhile since I've posted.  I'd like to say I'm super busy, etc. but truth be told, with all the hectic-ness going on I really just took a little break.  It was a time to get re-centered, rest as much as possible with a teething/fussy little Nattie Bear and then get back to the balancing act.

'M' is for Monsters!
I found a neat blog by a lady named Alison called "Oopsey Daisy".  On her site she had great free 'mom school' lesson plans that she designed and tailored for her little guy.  I downloaded several and this week, God willing, we dive into this weeks lesson of: 'M' is for Monster!   Needless to say, Wookeese's attention span allowed for a quick coloring of the letter 'M' and an action packed lunch with meatballs & mac-n-cheese. . . . I slipped in some non-'M' veggies also . . . for good measure of course!  *wink*

Again, this is totally new to me and my Brood so we'll keep trucking away as we try to come up with a routine that works.  This 'weeks' lesson may actually last a couple of weeks just so I can get Wookeese and myself used to the 'school' thing.  Wish me luck!!


Midwives!
So my next prenatal appt. is tomorrow (Tues) and I must say that I'm loving the set-up this pregnancy.  I love that I found a midwife that comes out to my place and handles all my prenatal check-ups in my own home where I can be relaxed, don't have to worry about childcare plus enjoy the company of two caring ladies (Kate & Connie)!  It's great!  I don't think I'll EVER be able to go the OB/Hospital route ever again. 
As my due date gets closer (mid-June, actually) I can feel myself getting very anxious for this new chapter of having a home birth.  Will surely be blogging more on this as the months go by.  :)


Menu Plans!
Trying to stick to a new budgeted amt. per pay of $240 (up $40 from our original budget amt) still has me working hard to make and stick to a menu plan.  With pregnancy cravings and sometimes feeling tired, it can be hard to stick with a more elaborate recipe one day.  But hopefully, switching days around to make easier stuff one day in place of another will pose helpful.  So here are this week's thoughts on menu. . . . trying to incorporate more 'meatless' or 'less meat' options. . . .

  • Monday - Meatless Monday with baked veggie egg rolls, brown rice and side of fruit
  • Tuesday - Ckn Tetrazzini with side of veggie, bread and maybe fruit
  • Wednesday - Leftovers
  • Thursday - Cheese tortellini w/mushroom & walnut cream sauce and side of green beans
  • Friday - Smoke sausage & potato skillet along with fresh veggies & dip
  • Saturday - Leftovers
  • Sunday - not sure yet. . . . but probably some sort of pasta dish w/veggies and minimal meat  :)

*Breakfast is any combo of: fruit and nut snack bars, fresh fruit, cheerios, toast/eggs, blueberry muffins.

*Lunch is any combo of: quesadilla, sandwiches w/sides, lunch meat/crackers/cheese stix medley, dinner leftovers, tuna w/crackers & fruit.


What's on your menu this week??  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Perspective


It's been a rough week and a half.  We had the flu run through our Brood which thankfully baby and I did NOT get. . . . FYI - prayers work!  Then recovering the house, mess, routine has been a sort of slow go.  Then still, add in issues with toddler discipline - which is starting to become all too consuming - and sleep deprivation from Nattie Bear deciding to wake in the middle of the night and not fall back asleep for a couple of hours at a time.  I'm exhausted and at the end of my rope.  I'd like to say that I prayed, trusted God and all is made right.  But it isn't.  I pray but relief doesn't come this time.  Trusting God?  I'm trying but even that is hard lately. 


Ephesians 4:1 (NLT) says "Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God."  


My calling?  I thought my calling was to be here, home with my kids to help them and myself grow in our faith, love for each other and others around us, start a new and healthy family legacy.  But feeling tired, frustrated and overwhelmed (the negative mom trinity) are surely the antithesis to this calling.  The negative mom trinity is quick to steal joy and covert in discouraging.  But I need to get back on track.  Instead of being pushed away, I need to come closer - to the Father and those that seem to cause me distress.  It's not that simple.  Sin and brokeness being a factor distorts that. 

Really, it's all about perspective.  My calling is here at home with my family - whether I'm 'feeling it' or not.  I can't lose sight of that!  However, I don't want to sugarcoat things and give a Christian bubble gum pop answer that it will all be ok.  It may not.  I may keep dealing with some of these struggles and it may get worse before it gets better.  Only God knows the outcome on the other side of the tapestry. . . I just have to refine my patience, be more humble and wait for His results. ♥


Ephesians 3:20 (NLT): "Now glory be to God!  By his mighty power at work within us, he is able to accomplish infinitely more than we would ever dare to ask or hope."



This is a great video from Francis Chan which shows how small we really are in the grand scheme of God's creation.  It's humbling and at the same time truly awe inspiring to see that God is still so invested in us and loves us desite our flaws and despite our 'smallness'.  Great way to help me keep some Spiritual Perspective today. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Not Your Average Valentine's Day


How about some Valentine’s Day statistics to start out:

  • Avg. V-Day spending – approx. $126-ish
  • Top gift is jewelry, second is eating out
  • First Hallmark V-Day card in 1918
 *some from WILX news and some from this site*



Needless to say, my Valentine’s got off to a rocky start and didn’t look like the above.  It started w/a sleep deprived Monday night due to the flu visiting our house starting Sat. night into today . . . . in which I have yet to catch - *cross fingers*  Needless to say, I’m about done with the Broods bodily fluids, LOL!   Then add to that the fact that S-Money$ and I totally didn’t realize that I had a dentist appt. on Valentine’s Day – oh joy!  Well, not really the end of the world but surely not the overflow of celebration/festivities that the majority would plan having the dental chic pick at my teeth.    


But you know what, it was still one of the best Valentine’s Days yet for me - probably because our day didn’t fit the status-quo and average statistic.  We like when that happens.  J



  • Avg. V-Day spending - $126  è  S-Money$ and I spent $5 each for a total of $10
  • Top two V-Day gifts – jewelry/eating out  è  Our top two gifts:
  •  
    His favorite candy and the meds are an inside joke - tehehe
    **My gifts were a crispy ckn caesar wrap & value fry from Wendy’s Monday night along with 2 sausage McMuffins for breakfast on V-Day. . . . . . baby and I didn’t wait for a pic before we devoured!  YES, I'm easy to please - just feed the preggo lady!! *wink*
     
  • Giving a V-Day card  è  We don’t do cards and if we do, we make them homemade w/the kids.  This year because of all the sickies, we didn’t get that far.
  • Our V-Day dinner was simple - pancakes w/strawberry sauce & whip cream and bacon on the side - YUM!


How was your Valentine's Day?  Before you answer, consider this phrase from the intro paragraph in the NewsWeek V-Day statistics article (emphasis mine):

A day of love and frustration, of proposals and breakups. A day of jewelry and candy and unmet expectations. Exalted by some, loathed by others, but inevitable to all.
That's really what it boils down to - a decision. Getting jewelry, a dozen or two of roses, going out to eat, being lavish on this Valentine's Day isn't wrong - but it does depend on where your heart is. Is your heart in the gift, in what you want or is your heart with the one you are giving to? It's not that S-Money$ and I are specifically setting out to go against the uber-consumerist monster that is otherwise known as 'Valentine's Day'. . . . OK, maybe a little. But really, we just made a conscious choice to do less so we could focus more on positive things - not frustrations from unmet expectations brought on by self-made entitlement. Oh, plus I loathe overpriced flowers that will die in less than a week - just sayin'. Our decision helped make the day different than average.
So I hope everyone had a great Valentine's Day filled with plenty of 'not-your-average' moments as well!  :)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Handling Forgiveness


This idea popped into my head while discussing some biblical issues with my daughter awhile back. Her non-Christian friend commented that since God gave us free will then we are free to make a choice and it's 'all good' - with a controversial topic being discussed.   Perplexed as my daughter was, she couldn't think of a response at that moment so she asked me later.   I told her that yes & no regarding the whole issue of free will and choice.   We are given free will to choose.   We can choose what's right or wrong, truth or untruth, God or the world.    But when it comes down to God's word and how we are to live, there are many instances where we DON'T get a choice!   Period!   No gray area!   You believe or you don't!   You are either the tree that bares good fruit or bad fruit.  We can't pick some things out of the bible to follow and then discard the rest.

"If you believe what you like in the Gospel, and reject what you don't like, it is not the Gospel you believe, but yourself." - Augustine



There are so many instances in life and what we see daily that can fall in line with the above quote, such as. . . .
  • I can't say I believe in God's blessings of wealth, prosperity and then discard where he says we are to look after the poor (and don't forget orphans/widows) - Matthew 19:20-24
  • I can't say I believe in the sanctity of marriage and then bail when we hit a rocky path (note today's approx. 50% divorce rate) - Matthew 5:31-32
  • I can't say I believe that children are a blessing but then say that the kids I have are enough, don't bless me anymore God! - Psalm 127: 3-5
  • I can't say I believe that Jesus was persecuted and died for me yet I don't think as a Christian I am subject to any level of discomfort for my faith - Mark 8:34-38
  • And this one being the hardest for me . . . . I can't say that I believe God has forgiven me yet I don't feel someone else is worthy of forgiveness - Luke 17:3, Matthew 6:14-15
Yes, we are to rebuke out of love hoping to achieve repentance so we can forgive and restore the relationship but we live in a broken world.  Evil exists and it's real as it manifests in the hearts of so many.  I've struggled with what forgiveness is supposed to look like then if I don't get repentance from someone.  Max Lucado, in his book Cast of Characters, had an idea. . . .
"To forgive someone is to admit our limitations. We've been given only one piece of life's jigsaw puzzle. Only God has the cover of the box. To forgive someone is to display reverence. Forgiveness is not saying the one who hurt you was right. Forgiveness is stating that God is fair and he will do what is right. After all, don't we have enough things to do without trying to do God's work too?"
So this got me thinking of things that I've also been dealing with emotionally in my life recently.  And the question occurred to me - Do I have a choice to forgive those who have hurt me and continue to spread hurt or not?   Yes.  No.  I don't get a choice.  I am to forgive.  Then I can be free to let God do the rest with the other party involved.  Forgiving someone who's wronged me is for me; not always them.  It's saying I forgive for the past while also saying that from this point forward I'm a new person.  What was done before will not be acceptable now.  A chasm in the relationship has occurred with a new beginning.  No longer allowing abuse.  Yes, Forgiveness is for me. 
For me personally, the idea of forgiveness has been a struggle.  How do I forgive someone who is blatantly unrepentant and set on continuing to emotionally harm/hurt others?  This has led to researching what forgiveness is NOT. . . . .


Forgiveness is NOT approving or diminishing the sin done against me, it's NOT enabling those who keep doing wrong, it's NOT denying what was done, it does NOT need an apology back, it's NOT about forgetting or ceasing to feel the pain, it may NOT be a one-time occurrence, it leaves room for justice, it does NOT automatically extend trust back to those who damaged our trust, and most importantly. . . . forgiveness IS NOT always about reconciliation.

*Thnx to Mark Driscoll's blog posting on Forgiveness at Mars Hill*


*This post taken from my previous blog - wanted to repost here*


Thursday, February 2, 2012

Grocery Budget Challenge

Ok, I am not very organized at the moment so I don't have all of my receipts nearby. . . Wait!  Thank goodness for our investment in Quicken.  Now we can breakdown our receipts and better track what we're spending on groceries.  We did do the 'cash' method for a bit but with the start of 2012 we are changing methods to avoid carting a lump of cash for the purpose of feeding The Brood. 



Well, I'll just get to the point and give a synopsis of how January went. . . . We were over-budget!  You could sort of see the trend based on how we fared on the first pay in Jan.  I didn't get a chance to post the break-down for S-Money$'s second pay this month but needless to say our total spent this month was approximately $525 ==> which put us at $125 over-budget for Jan. . . Yikes!

This still begs the question of how much is enough to feed our family since not all of the $125 overage was due to strictly feeding The Brood.  We also had a couple of hospitality get-togethers at our place and elsewhere.  Really, we just happen to be a growing and HUNGRY family, lol!  Since our budget is very thin, there isn't always room to include extras, account for shortages or 'hospitality' without reassessing the overall budget and seeing where we can either make cuts or move funds around.  My hypothesis is that we will need to increase our monthly budgeted amount at some point . . . . . just don't know how much yet and the best place to pull from.  *pondering*

Today is payday again and I'll be starting the budget challenge for February, still going on the $200/pay - then reassess at the end of the month to notate any trends, shortages, overages, etc.  So keep any tips, tricks, low-cost recipes, etc. coming this way to share with me and others! 

=================================================================
But in the meantime, I want to keep things in perspective.  No matter what it seems like we don't have, God reminds me that all we need is enough - which is something I need to be reminded as I make out my grocery list.  This blessing of enough has been illustrated to me on several occasions with a surprise visit by my mother-in-law coming out and treating us with dinner when we happen to be low on groceries, finding a new recipe that uses what's left in the cupboards and avoiding extra expenses, or even finding $5 in my pocket by surprise which enables me to get milk/eggs/or bread for the week.


See, God has always provided to give us enough - blessing us through His own generosity and through the generosity of others.   Proverbs 30:7-9 is a GREAT reminder of God's provision.  Here's a video of Francis Chan explaining just what this verse means to him as well.  I dare myself, and YOU, to say this prayer and help strengthen each other as we strive to live it!
 



Proverbs 30:7-9
7 O God, I beg two favors from you before I die.
8 First, help me never to tell a lie.  Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!  Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
9 For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, "Who is the Lord?" And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God's holy name.


Linked to: 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Can I Love Like This??

I've been participating in a bible study on facebook that delves into the book of Ephesians.  It's associated with Good Morning Girls if you'd like to check out the website.  :)

One of the sections for reading this week comes from chapt. 2, verses 4-5 which I have shared below:

Ephesians 2:4-5 (NIV)
"But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved." 


I am by no means a bible scholar and couldn't tell you what anything means in Greek, Hebrew, etc. but I love reading verses like this.  They give us a glimpse into the great inner workings of the Father and for me, they propose a challenge.  It may seem pretty straight forward. . . . God loves us, has mercy on us and saved us through Christ.  Cool.  Done & off to the next verse, right?  But what about this love??  When you read the bible, at some point it should sink in that God's love for us is different than what we view as love. 

Dictionary.com defined love as this below (only took the first 4 definitions) and initially lists it as a noun:

1. a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person.
2. a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child, or friend.
3. sexual passion or desire.
4. a person toward whom love is felt; beloved person; sweetheart.
 
To many of us in this society, that's exactly how love is.  It's just a noun that describes a 'feeling' of passion, affection, attachment, or desire for someone.  But 'feelings' aren't sustaining.  How many marriages/relationships fail because the people involved 'fell' out of love or just don't 'feel' love towards the other person??  This description of love can fade and change over time.  That can't possibly be how the Father feels for us?  There has to be a deeper dynamic that we are missing. 

When I read the bible, especially the Gospels and see Jesus at work, I tend to view love as more of an action; a verb.  Love does something, makes us alive, gives something, heals us, sacrifices something, submits to authority and saves us.  All actions; not nouns.  Plus it is an unconditional love.  God does for us and gave the gift of salvation through Christ not because we deserved it, not because we are 'good' enough, not even because we are entitled to it.  But because of his grace and mercy, he loves us unconditionally and wants to redeem us back to him - how awesome!!
But the challenge in this verse for me is. . . . . can I love like that?  Can I embody this type of love to others that the Father has for me?  That his Son had for me when he died on the cross? 

How about showing this type of love during the trite annoyances in my day - like when my husband offends me, my kids disobey me, the cashier is rude to me?  Sure, those things are not too hard to deal with and we pick our battles right?  We love our spouses, kids and can be forgiving of a stranger who may be having a bad day.  Problem solved! 

But what about the more difficult trials in life that we may face.  Can I love a friend that has abandoned me?  What about someone who I know has used me/taken from me?  Or one of my current struggles. . . . Can I love those family members that have forsaken me and continue to lie/gossip about me in an effort to cover their own misdoings? 

See, now it's not so cut and dry is it?  That's why it's a challenge.  And to be honest, I don't have this love in me most days.  Not when the pain is too deep.  Not when the hurt is fresh.  But without this type of love, there can be no set action meant to change the course of our own sin and destruction.  For those who are hurt, there can be no action towards forgiveness and healing.  Without action there can be no progress.  Without progress, we are simply left in our own transgressions.  Separated from God.

Can I love like this; like the Father has loved us?  No I can't. . . . . at least not on my own.  But I can love like this with prayer and the help of the Holy Spirit to guide me and change my heart.  :)



**This post linked to:   The Straightened Path blog