Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

March, 2009

Monday, March 30th, 2009

Desires of My Heart

“Delight yourself also in the LORD,And He shall give you the desires of your heart.”  Psalm 37:4

Have you ever noticed that the more toys/gifts our children are given, the more they want and the less satisfied they are? For that matter, we can be the same way. When there is an abundance of things, we tend to be a little more careless of them, so they break more quickly or lose their luster. There is always a newer, bigger, better thing that we think we want. There is always something else that we think we need to make us happy.

What are my hearts desires? Are they for pretty clothes? A nicer car? A bigger house? Nicer furniture? Time to take up a hobby? Money for all of the above?

There is nothing wrong with any of those things, but they should not be the deep desires of my heart. To be honest, yes, I would like all of those things. I don’t believe that they are what is being promised in this verse, though. If I am delighting myself in the Lord, these will not be the deep desires of my heart. I will desire the things that have more of an eternal significance. Things like children who are walking with and serving the Lord, a happy and fulfilling marriage, and a life that glorifies the Lord will be more important to me than material things.

Just as I delight to give gifts to my children, I believe that the Lord also delights to give us material gifts. However, I will be more thankful for them, more content, when my desires are for the things of eternal value. It seems almost like a contradiction, but I will enjoy the material gifts more when they mean less to me. On the other hand, if I can look back on my life when I come to the end of the road and see a husband who knows that he was loved, respected, and cherished, children who are living for the Lord, and people who were brought closer to the Lord through my life, I can have the contentment of knowing that my life was worth living. Those are the things that really matter, but those are the things that I will only see if I delight myself in the Lord.

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

His plans, or mine?

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jeremiah 29:11

13 years ago today, I became a mother for the 4th time.  My older children were 5, 3, and 1, and I had been feeling very overwhelmed.  My 3 year-old was especially a challenge – I had never imagined that a little one could be so creative in finding ways to get into trouble!  Throughout my pregnancy, I had been telling the Lord that He had given me more than I could handle.

I still don’t really understand it, but somehow, that 4th child made life easier from the day he was born.  It did help that he was the first child that didn’t have to go back to the hospital to spend time in NICU!  But whatever the reasons, I found myself more relaxed, I laughed more, and I handled motherhood more easily.  Don’t get me wrong – I still had lots of days when I felt overwhelmed, but those days were fewer than before #4 was born.

How many times have I gone back to the lesson that the Lord taught me with that 4th child!  I realized that, rather than giving me more than I could handle, the Lord had given me exactly what I needed.  He saw the big picture, not just the little part that I could see.  Where I was overwhelmed and wondered how I could possibly handle another baby, the Lord knew that I NEEDED that baby.  He knew that what I thought would certainly add to my burden would actually lighten that burden.  It STILL doesn’t make sense to me, but I’m glad that I didn’t insist on having my own way!

Corrie ten Boom used to give the analogy of watching someone making a tapestry – from beneath the cloth.  What looked like tangled threads and splotchy colors was a beautiful picture when viewed from the top.  The tangled threads that I see in my life don’t look much like a work of beauty to me, but the Lord is expertly crafting something of His design.  I can’t wait to get to the other side that so I can see the finished work!  :-)

In the meantime, 13 years after learning a little more about trusting the Lord, I am still very thankful for my 4th child.  And, yes, those who know him would not be surprised to hear that he still makes my life easier in many ways.  Happy Birthday, Son!

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

Running with endurance

“Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”  Hebrews 12:1

A few people know that, after 7 pregnancies during which I struggled with gestational diabetes, I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes just a few weeks before finding out that I was pregnant with the baby I am now carrying.  Because I had not yet had time after the diagnosis to get my blood sugars under control, there was concern about how the high blood sugars would affect the newly developing baby.

When I was merely 6 weeks along, I was put onto a rather high amount of insulin taken in 4 daily doses in order to get my blood sugars down as quickly as possible.  That high amount was still not enough, and the dosages were raised the following week.  However, I had come across the book Eat for Health written by a family practice physician ( Dr. Joel Fuhrman ) in New Jersey that detailed an eating plan that had reversed diabetes  in thousands of patients.  The basis of this eating plan is the formula  “Health=Nutrients/Calorie”.  In other words, you focus on eating the foods that have the highest number of nutrients per calorie (green veggies!) to build/rebuild your health.  I got my doctor’s permission to follow the diet, although he told me that it wouldn’t make any difference in my blood sugar levels.

Dr. Fuhrman has a member site with an “Ask the doctor” forum, so I joined and asked him what I needed to know before starting the diet.  He told me that I needed to immediately cut my insulin levels in half, because my blood sugars would drop rapidly when I started eating as he recommended.  Sure enough, after one week, my blood sugars were lower on half of the prescribed insulin than they had been with the higher dose.  Within just a few weeks, I was only needing to take one dose of insulin per day to manage my fasting blood sugar levels.

While my levels continued to be good during the day, I have had to continue taking the insulin at night, and it has even increased some as my pregnancy has progressed.  To be honest, I was getting discouraged.  Even though I’m still taking far less insulin than I was originally prescribed, I stopped seeing the tremendous results that I was getting in the first few weeks.  It’s true that I can’t follow the aggressive eating plan that would likely help me get quicker results, because I do need to consider the fact that I am building a baby!  However, my discouragement was causing me to get a little more and more lax in what I was eating.

Well, I think that the Lord has given me the encouragement I need to press on.  I got a call from my doctor this morning with the results of my latest blood test.  This test was a hemoglobin A1C test, which basically gives a snapshot of how my blood sugar levels have averaged over the last 2-3 months.  The way I have been eating has brought my average levels down to non-diabetic levels!  (For those who understand the numbers, I started out with a level of 7.1 last fall, went down to 6.1 after just 1 month on the eating plan, and am now down to a very normal 5.4.  My O.B. had wanted me down below 6, and I’m well below that!)

I am thankful that the Lord understands my need for encouragement.  Yes, I should have just kept my eye on the goal of health for the baby and for me, but I felt like I wasn’t seeing the results that I wanted.  I continued to eat right about 95% of the time, but I had started to allow little “extras” here and there – and those extras were increasing.  Now that I have seen concrete evidence that I am on the right path, I feel like I have the boost needed to keep running the race.

How many other areas of my life are there where I have started to allow “extras” to creep in?  In how many other areas have I gotten discouraged that I am not seeing the results that I think I should be seeing?  Am I tempted to let things slide in my training of the children?  Am I tempted to not try as hard in homeschooling?  Unfortunately, the answer to those questions is often “yes”.

Thankfully, the Lord often sends along encouragement in those areas, as well.  Yet, just as I wonder how much better my results would be right now if I hadn’t allowed those extras into my diet, I also have to wonder how much better my results would be now in other areas of my life where I have let things slide.  Furthermore, how will I ever hear “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” if I take my eyes off the goal to look at my discouragement?  I guess that I can take heart from the Lord’s response to Peter when Peter was walking on the water and took his eyes of the Lord to notice the storm around him.  As the Lord reached down to pull Peter out of the water, He said, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?”  But the Lord didn’t give up on Peter, who grew to be used mightily of the Lord.  Hopefully, I will also grow in my usefulness to the Lord with fewer stops to focus on my circumstance.

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

Spring is on its way!

“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land.”  Song of Solomon 2:12

Spring.  It’s my hands-down favorite time of year.  The dormancy of winter makes me feel as if I just want to crawl into bed and sleep until spring.  Then, as I see signs of new life in the baby greens and the glimpses of color, I feel like I’m starting to come back to life as well.

So far, I’ve only seen the barest hint of green and the crocuses are a gorgeous purple.  I was on the other side of the mountain the other day and saw the yellow of forsythia and daffodils just starting to show.  But I know that the beautiful redbuds, the cherry blossoms, the tulips, and the azaleas will soon be out in full bloom, and I will once again feel alive.

Cabin fever will soon be abated in our house, Lord willing!  All winter long, the kids are pretty much cooped up inside our small house, but the warmer weather brings with it time in the play yard with the swing set, trees to climb, a sand box, and a play house.  For the older children, bike rides become a regular thing.  And for me, walking our country neighborhood roads becomes a joy.

Yes, I’ve had cabin fever, too, and I’ve been enjoying the warming of the weather.  The other day I watched a mother bird land with a beakful of sticks as she pondered a place to build her nest.  It’s time to do some nest-building inside, too.  It’s time to do some spring cleaning and start getting ready for a baby!  :-)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Where do I go to resign?

“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

Have you ever had one of those days when you felt like a complete failure?  A day when the kids aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, the house is a disaster, and the whining, bickering, and fighting seem unending?

This morning, I was having one of those days.  I locked myself into my room to have a pity party.  (I knew that I would be interrupted by a little one wanting to give me a hug or something if I hadn’t locked the door!)  As tears of frustration rolled down my cheeks, I wondered why the Lord thought that I should be entrusted with another baby when I couldn’t even do a good job with the children I already had.  Poor me.  I just wanted to walk out the door and escape, because it was obvious that I couldn’t do what was expected of me.

Then, out of the blue, a tune started running through my head, and I was hearing the words to an old Steve Green song.  ”He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it…”

Okay, so I’m not anywhere near the mother I want to be and my children haven’t come close to achieving the perfection that I want for them.  The truth is that it isn’t MY work being done.  The Lord is performing a work in me and in my children.  He began the work in us, and has promised to complete it.  He didn’t give a time frame for completing it, and I can’t give up in discouragement when it isn’t completed overnight or even over a period of 18 years.

It seems that there are far too many lessons that have to be repeated in my life over and over again, but  that is not the fault of the One doing the work.  That fault lies squarely with me.  I get frustrated at times when it seems that one of my children is being thickheaded about learning something that I am trying to teach them, but I am thickheaded far to often when the Lord is trying to teach me something, too.  The Lord hasn’t given up on me, but has promised to complete the work.  Likewise, I should continue in patience as I seek to teach my children.

After a few minutes of reflection, I unlocked my door and called all of the children together.  I asked them if they ever felt like failures, and admitted my shortcomings to them.  I then shared the above verse with them, asked for their forgiveness for my failures with them, and encouraged them to remember that the Lord is also doing a work in each of them.

No, the rest of the day hasn’t been all roses.  However, there has been a sense of hope, and things are much more in order than they were earlier!

Sunday, March 15th, 2009

Free eBook giveaway

For this weekend only, my online friend, Penny Raine, is giving away 2 free eBooks.  You can get yours at http://pennyraine.com/bookstore/ .

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Who is running things here?

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”   Galations 2:20

I was listening to my favorite Southern Gospel radio station in the car today, when I heard a new song that really got me to thinking.

I Quit
I’ve tried and tried and I can’t try again
To make it on my own, so why pretend?
My best laid plans slipped through my hands
And crashed upon the floor.
Now I’m just too tired to fight it anymore.

I quit, I give up, I give everything to you, Lord.
Take my heart and do what You and You alone can do.
I’m ready to surrender and I’m willing to admit
I cannot begin again until I quit.

For me to truly live, I first must die
And know that I am crucified with Christ.
Then live each day by simple faith
In the power of the cross
And count my every earthly gain but loss.

I quit, I give up, I give everything to You, Lord.
Take my heart and do what You and You alone can do.
I’m ready to surrender and I’m willing to admit
I cannot begin again until I quit.

I cannot begin again until I quit.

(Written by Ann Downing, Marty Funderburk, and Jeff Silvey, copyright 2001.)

Then there was another song I heard that seemed to go along with it.  I can’t find all of the lyrics right now, but the chorus says

“Change me, Lord, I’m tired of who I am,
All my strength is gone, I need Yours to help me stand,
I don’t want to give my life to You, then take it back again,
I just want to be like you, so change me, Lord.”


I need to think along these lines more often, rather than my usual self-reliance!  Even though it is Christ living in me, I tend to run the show far too often.

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Tyranny of the Urgent

“I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.”  John 17:4

I’m involved in a discipleship Bible study with an “older woman” using the book,  Growing Strong in God’s Family .  (This lady is not THAT much older than I am, but she does have some grown children in addition to the ones she still has at home.)  Today, we were discussing an excerpt from Tyranny of the Urgent by Charles Hummel.  I really enjoyed one thought in particular from that excerpt:

“On the night before He died, Jesus made an astonishing claim.  In the great prayer of John 17 he said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (verse 4).

…on that last night, with many useful tasks undone and urgent human needs unmet, the Lord had peace; He knew He had finished God’s work.

…Jesus’ prayerful waiting for God’s instructions freed Him from the tyranny of the urgent.  It gave Him a sense of direction, set a steady pace, and enabled Him to do every task God assigned.  And on the last night He could say, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.”

How many days do I dispair over things left undone at the beginning of the day – important things?  Yet I was bombarded with one “urgency” over another during the day and couldn’t get to all of those important things.  A friend has shared that the Lord pointed out to her one morning that all of the things on her “to do” list were HER priorities, not His.  If I can learn to focus on the things that the Lord wants me doing, all of the truly important things will get done!

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

Why “Mother by Design”? part 2

“The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—  that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.”  Titus 2:3-5

(Part 1 can be read here.)

Now that I have established my premise that all women were designed with a built-in mothering application, I’ll move on to the other aspect of mothering on which I’ve been reflecting.  That second premise is that motherhood is not just something that lasts for 18+ years (or as long as a woman has children in the home), but is a lifetime occupation.

Any older mother can tell you that, even once all of the children have flown the nest, she never really stops worrying about her children.  Recently, I read a cute story about a young wife who had just become a new mother.  The first night that she had the baby home, she hardly slept as she was wakened by every sound that the little one made.   As she stumbled out of the bedroom the next morning, she was greeted by her own mother who had come to help with the newborn baby.  The young mother was just about to ask how long it would be before she wouldn’t hear every sound the baby made when the older woman asked, “Are you coming down with a cold, Dear?  I thought I heard you coughing during the night.”

We smile at the story, but  I am very thankful that my mom still worries about her children – it means that she prays for us!  I am sure that many others feel the same way about their own mothers.  Before she died, my grandma got to the point where she had difficulty communicating with anyone and spent much of her day seemingly unaware of what was going on around her.  Yet, her mind was still active, and she spent time praying for her family and friends.  I miss knowing that she is praying for me.

I don’t believe that praying for (and worrying about!) her grown children is the only way in which a woman is to fulfill that inborn need to mother in her later years.  When a woman’s children get older and leave the nest, it means that she has more time to pursue things that she just couldn’t get to when her children were young.  One of the ways that I believe that the Lord wants us to spend that time is in mentoring younger women, as directed in the verses above.  I know a dear ladywho has often been heard to lament that there had never been any “older women” in her life to encourage her.   She is now in her eighties and still hasn’t found any!  It does seem that the Titus 2 concept was largely ignored for many years in the 20th century.  Thankfully, I think that the idea of fulfilling that Biblical mandate is gaining ground and there is more teaching on it.  I had the blessing of being involved in a ladies’ Sunday School class last fall where we studied the book,  Becoming a Titus 2 Woman, by Martha Peace, and found it to be very encouraging and challenging.

Yet, while there is a growing awareness of the need for “Titus 2 Women”, it can be a real struggle to balance that with the tendency to view those empty nest years as a time when I can finally do what I want to do.  The retirement mentality, the idea a person “deserves” to spend their “golden years” for themselves, is really an unbiblical idea that has thoroughly permeated the church.  Even ministries that I typically think of as being solid ministries, like Focus on the Family or Family Life Today, will often promote these ideas.  For instance, a series of broadcasts was aired last fall on Family Life Today dealing with women and the empty nest.  While I listen to the Family Life program on a daily basis and usually find their broadcasts to be encouraging, I was actually discouraged by that particular series.  Why?  Here they were encouraging women to finally go out and do all of those things they’d always wanted to do and fill their lives now that the children were grown.  Furthermore, the implication to those of us with young children still at home was that we just need to hold on for a few more years, and then it will be our turn to do all of the things we’re missing out on now.

Wait a minute.  Based on that thought, I could grump that I’ve been “putting life on hold” now  for almost 19 years, and have at least another 18 years to go.  I choose to believe instead that I am living the life that the Lord has given me to live!  But one of the things that we discussed in our Sunday School class last fall was that it is still the norm for women to fill their lives with “personal fulfillment” activities when their children are gone, leaving no time (or thought) for mentoring younger women.  Instead of the older ladies teaching the children’s Sunday School classes while the young mothers have an opportunity to study the Word of God without the distraction of small children, it is the young mothers who are filling that role.  Instead of older women setting aside time to spend with a younger woman encouraging her and teaching her how to be a good wife, mother, and homemaker, they are filling their social calendars and taking painting classes.

Okay, I’m stereotyping and generalizing here to make a point.   I really have no problem at all with a woman having more time for social engagements or taking painting classes.  I hope to some day have time for those things myself.  But please rebuke me if I fill my time with so many of those things that  I don’t have time for mentoring younger women as I have been instructed to do.  Better yet, encourage me to include a younger woman in these activities so that she can enjoy them, too!

I don’t want to come across as thinking that there aren’t any Titus 2 women today – I personally know several.  Sometimes it isn’t even big things that make a difference in a younger woman’s life.  When my oldest daughter was between 8 and 10 years old, there was a very dear older lady who took an interest in  her and encouraged her in growing up to be a godly young lady.  My mother-in-law used to pass along housekeeping shortcuts.  I know of older women who have set aside time to care for a young mother’s children for a couple of hours so that the younger woman could run some errands.  And my own mother has been a tremendous encouragement in my life and the lives of other young women.

My purpose is not to point fingers, but just to detail some things that have been the subject of a lot of reflection.  I have too long been guilty of thinking that I was just biding my time before my mothering responsibilities are over, rather than embracing and enjoying the calling for which I was designed.  I truly was designed to be a mother, and trust that my life gives evidence to that!

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Why “Mother by Design”?

“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”  Gen 1:27

I have had several people comment on or ask me about my choice of a site/blog name.  Rather than answer each person individually, I’m going to answer everyone at once!  ;-)  This answer is based on a lot of reflection that I have been doing ever since I found out that I was carrying our eighth child.

When the Lord created male and female, He was creating the image of two distinct sides to His character.  As a woman, I am blessed to have the opportunity of reflecting His nurturing side, imperfect though that reflection might be!

I believe that the Lord planned that all women would be born with the built-in capability of being a mother.  It is very natural to see a little girl “mothering” her dolls.  My 5 year old daughter has a seemingly endless supply of dolls, and she loves each one of them.  When she is not mothering her dolls, she is “mothering” (bossing!) her 7 and 2 year old brothers.  (Yes, I have discovered that the instinct to mother … er boss … is not limited to the OLDEST daughter.)  Lately, she has been telling me that she simply cannot WAIT to get married, so that she can be a mommy.

Sometimes it is not dolls that a young girl is mothering, but an endless stream of animals – stuffed or otherwise.  It may be all of the injured or broken creatures or toys that grab at her heartstrings.  Whatever the object of her affection, the mothering instinct is evident in most little girls.

Because I believe that the mothering role is built in, I also believe that all women can fulfill that role. I don’t think that its fulfillment depends upon whether or not they ever marry or have children of their own.  In one of the cities that we lived in, the Lord gave me a very dear friend who was only able to have one child, even though she and her husband had desired a large family.  She shared with me that she felt that the Lord only gave her one child so that she would have the time, energy, and ability to help other women mother their children.  The dear lady was a huge help to me during a time when I very much needed help mothering my own children, and I know that she was a help to other mothers at the same time.  Furthermore, she trained her daughter to be a help, giving that daughter a very good foundation for being a mother herself.

I also know of several single and/or childless women who are finding outlets for their inborn tendency to mother.  A single young woman of 30 is a regular helper in the 2 and 3 year-olds’ class where my son goes during Sunday School on Sunday morning.  She is planning to go on a one-year mission trip to Africa in a few months, and we were just enjoying the prayer card that she sent us picturing her surrounded by several of the children that she got to know on her last trip to that country.  I have also had the opportunity several times of watching unmarried nurses interacting with babies or young children.

Even in our culture that promotes feminism and careers for women, we can see signs of this built in mothering tendency.  According to the US Census Bureau, about 71% of all teachers are women.  79% of elementary and middle school teachers are women, 87% of all special educations teachers are women, and 98% of all preschool teachers are women.  [1]  Furthermore, according to the National Center for Education Information, the number of teachers who are women is growing.  Among teachers with 5 years of experience or fewer, 84% of them were women as of 2005, up from 74% in 1996 and 69% in 1986. [2]    Similar statistics can be seen in other “nurturing” careers, such as nursing.   Somehow those numbers don’t surprise me.  As women are increasingly choosing to delay or forgo motherhood, are they instinctually turning toward careers which will allow them an outlet for the mothering bent within them?

This post has gotten long enough for today, methinks.  Lord willing, I’ll put up part 2 tomorrow.  If you have stuck with me through my reflections this far, I welcome any feedback!

You can see Why “Mother by Design” Part 2 here.

1.  http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/001737.html
2.  http://www.ncei.com/POT05PRESSREL3.htm
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