Pregnancy, Pain, & Frustration

This past couple of weeks have gotten increasingly hard around our house.  I’ve made it to 37 1/2 weeks, but wow!!!  I’ll just say it’s been a brutal couple of weeks and feel like I have a ways to go still.  We only need to make it until next Friday (10 days), but handling two – just two!!! – active and loud kids has become embarrassingly hard now.  We know several families who have many more (4, 5, 6, even one family with 9!!!).  And yet here I am, struggling with only 2!  I have the hardest time walking in the afternoon/evening, and had made plans in my head a few weeks earlier that once Summer started, we were going to go out everyday and have fun at a water park we’re close to, but I soon realized that all that walking, being in the heat, and not even being able to really handle well our toddler’s tantrums when I’m out, would have made those plans nearly impossible.  That or they’d have possibly made the baby come early.  So home it’s been for the most part, and the baby is so low I feel like she could just fall out. :O

With all this going on, I’ve been really struggling with whining and complaining to my husband about any and everything.  I hate hearing myself complain, as I’m sure most people do.  It makes you feel like a failure and feel worse than before (at least for me).  But in these last stages where there’s so much pain at the end of the night, mostly where her head is putting “lots” (doctor’s own words!) of pressure on my cervix, I feel bad that he’s had to hear about all the pain and stress and frustration with our kids, after he’s just dealt with annoying people and criminals for several hours and is exhausted, too.

I’m working on trying to find peace and really asking God to help me better endure this short time left of the pain, and the difficulty of managing the other two kids with less of an attitude that I shouldn’t have it “so hard.”  This article was great for dealing with toddlers when they’re “driving you nuts!”  Getting help from my mom has been a God-send for me during this time ❤ and knowing my husband will be taking a month off after she’s born is so comforting.  And tactic #9 was used today, as both kids had high fever viruses and the little one had an ear infection.  Taking him in to the dr. while having contractions off and on was ridiculous, but my mom came with me and we got through it somehow.

We also had a false alarm yesterday, contractions were coming every 3-5 minutes and I forgot to wait it out to see if they’d go away, and instead drove to the hospital with the kids (while contracting… probably not the smartest idea).  My labor with our toddler came that way when it was his time to be born, and he was coming so fast the Dr. on call had to come in immediately to do the c-section.  This time though, the nurses and my Dr. said I was definitely having contractions, but by an hour or two later, they had gotten much less frequent and it wasn’t really labor.  We’re supposed to wait for a c-section in 10 days anyway, but our babies just tend to come on their schedule!

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So all this being said, I’m really trying to find some sort of spiritual blessing or something I can cling to that will help me get through with a better attitude until she arrives.  Some things I’ve thought about:

  • It’s hard right now physically (and emotionally) to be so pregnant and have a toddler, but that also means she’s so close to coming
  • Perseverance is a good thing… right?  LOL  Paul did say about our sufferings (not that this would really count to most people as a true suffering, maybe I’m a wimp but… ) that perseverance leads to character, and character leads to having hope.
  • Patient enduring of trials is good, even if it’s hard and not pleasant
  • Trials don’t seem to last forever, usually they come and go, and this particular one is so temporary, and there’s such a blessing at the end – a new baby! – to look forward to.
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Motherhood & Childbirth

dreams of mothering

Mother’s Day has come and gone again, and for some reason each year I just feel more and more content and happy with our life that we’re building.  I’m not sure exactly why I feel more content and happy with each year, but it may have a lot to do with the growing sense of gratitude of living this life getting to watch our children grow, love my amazing husband, and maybe just getting a little bit more mature.

I still have sin!  Definitely have to work on things at times, but in this area of mothering, even when it’s really especially hard with lots of tantrums or just stubborn behavior and lots to do, I can still see the end result in mind, especially at the end of the day (happy adults that know they were truly loved – no, adored!) and it somehow gets me through those tantrums.

Motherhood is hard at times.  Life in general has so many unexpected things come up and little struggles or trials, to me, mothering my kids just falls in line with normal everyday things to face.  There are many ups and downs with small children when they’re teething or in a tantrum phase, but I think it’s harder if you don’t really understand the fact that it is going to be hard to begin with.

There’s a new disturbing trend of moms on social media complaining about Mother’s Day, using it as an excuse to say how unfair it is that even on that day where they’re supposed to be honored, they still have to take care of their children (wipe noses or change diapers), or clean sometimes.  From reading several of these kinds of posts and videos for 2 years (posted the week before to prep women to feel jipped), it’s clear these moms don’t understand that life is just hard.  Mother’s Day doesn’t always go perfectly or smoothly, especially with small children – and it comes across as insanely immature of an adult woman who doesn’t understand this reality.  Or one who understands it, but still acts like it’s not fair and has an online virtual pity party about the duties of being a mom.

From one of my favorite books that my parents had loved when I was growing up (and got me reading before I was a teenager:

“Life is difficult.

This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths.  It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it.  Once we truly know that life is difficult – once we truly understand and accept it – then life is no longer difficult.  Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.

Most do not fully see this truth that life is difficult.  Instead they moan more or less incessantly, noisily or subtly, about the enormity of their problems, their burdens, and their difficulties as if life were generally easy, as if life should be easy.

They voice their belief, noisily or subtly, that their difficulties represent a unique kind of affliction that should not be and that has somehow been especially visited upon them….  I know about this moaning because I have done my fair share.

Life is a series of problems.  Do we want to moan about them or solve them?  Do we want to teach our children to solve them?”

                  -The Road Less Traveled

So back to motherhood… yes, it’s hard, but it’s also so beautiful and I think, really grows us as women to have to go through the struggles of mothering.  Anything hard generally (in my opinion) helps us to grow and mature.  At least it can, if we accept the struggle and go through it trying to learn from it and become better.  Unfortunately, as The Road Less Traveled points out, many people don’t allow problems and trials in their life to grow and mature them.  It’s easier to complain and have self-pity for our own struggles.

I love this quote from the 1800’s by Anne Pratt about the virtue of seeing life optimistically as a wife and mother:

“Every one must have remarked how pleasant is that household in which a cheerful spirit of energy is cultivated by the mistress and mother.

It is a pleasant thing to dwell with one who is not troubled by trifling annoyances,

who is skilled in looking at the bright side of things, and hoping for the best;

with one who believes that all the ways of the Lord are right,

and who attaches a deep importance to duty.

Such a one will work willingly, in the belief that God has appointed both her lot and her duties,

and it is surprising how many obstacles are met and overcome by such a spirit.”

~ Anne Pratt

In my life, it IS surprising how many obstacles we’ve overcome together, my husband and I, due to having such a spirit of adventure, optimism and gratitude.  In really hard times, it’d be easier to complain or fight or even blame each other, but instead we work together as a team to solve the problem and learn from it.  It really makes all the difference!

CHILDBIRTH

This is just an update on the pregnancy, but since it’s a “motherhood” post, I thought I’d squeeze it in here.

So because our first child was an emergency c-section, and afterwards we decided to not try a V-BAC, this will be my 3rd c-section.  We’re so lucky these days, even to be able to have c-sections!  I recently heard that death during childbirth affected 65% of women during the 19th century.  Obviously the risk is far less for us now, but still, having had repeated c-sections, medically we know each time the risk increases.  Then there’s always uterine rupture or tears where the scar has been cut and re-cut – these also increase with repeated pregnancies unfortunately.

Last time around I remember trying to prepare Patrick for if I was to die in childbirth during the c-section – I know it’s a slight chance, but you never know what’s going to happen and since there was that possibility, why not mentally prepare for it?  I wanted him to know that I wanted him to be happy and to remarry.  It’s been the same this time, except I’ve been having very strong pains where the old c-section scars are, which my doctor thinks is scar tissue stretching (little tears), and probably not “windows” which are where the uterus is so thin that you’re actually able to see things like the baby’s hair.  Windows are supposed to be painless, so the pain I feel at times is probably just stretching (hopefully!).  The risk of uterine rupture is still there though, even though it’s still likely very small.

Anyway, we really want at least to be able to have one more child after this, but unfortunately it depends on the state of my uterus – sometimes they can apparently become “paper thin,” or if they see windows when they open me up, or little tears, etc.  They’ll likely then advise me that I shouldn’t attempt another pregnancy.  😥  We’ll see, many women are able to have up to 5 or 6 c-sections… but it all depends on that particular woman’s genetics and her unique uterus thickness, strength, and elasticity.

Again, we’ll see.

 

The Truth About Venting (Shaunti Feldhan)

This blog is kind of on standby, it always seems to get that way when I’m pregnant 🙂 but I still like to post updates or fun posts just to have them here.  Enjoying the pregnancy of our little girl, playing with my kids and doing life as well as writing, has kind of taken priority for now.  Life is hard at times, but then again it is so beautiful!

This article on venting being BAD for you made a lot of sense to me in thinking about how we handle emotions or reactions to people who annoy or offend us.

I rarely complain about things to just anyone – there truly are just 2 people who hear my innermost thoughts and complaints in my life, and I like it that way!  You’re supposed to complain and talk to God about problems anyway, but it’s nice to have one or two very very close friends to divulge in or ask advice from.

I’ve seen what can happen when a person lets their entire existence be taken over with complaining or venting.  It’s very easy to do this with blogs since they can become like one’s personal diary of sorts – but it’s still not a good idea for a person’s mental and spiritual health/maturity.  It stunts your spiritual growth and I even believe it can cause mental health problems for the person engaging in that kind of constant negativity or “venting.”

When someone gets upset or annoyed enough to run off to type out a blog post as soon as their little fingers can, that’s them “venting,” and 99% of the time, it’s done in immaturity and not handling their emotions in the best way possible.

But until seeing this article below, I didn’t know for sure just how “bad” venting is – or rather, WHY it’s bad to do it!  I knew it looked immature and ridiculous… not to mention so sad when people in their forties and fifties still do it, but wow!

Here it is, from Shaunti Feldhan ❤

“Your co-worker just made you so mad. Or maybe it was your husband who said something insensitive this morning. Or your teenager who rolled her eyes when you asked her to empty the dishwasher. Again.

You feel like a pot ready to explode, so you just need to let off a little steam. A few minutes of “can you believe he just said…” or “she’s so obnoxious when…” will make you feel so much better. Right? Right?

Wrong.

What is commonly viewed as “letting off steam” or “venting” is actually a myth. It can feel very satisfying, in the moment. But it ultimately changes us. And not in a good way. I’ve seen this truth for years in my own research and in other studies. That’s why the first assignment in my newest book, The Kindness Challenge, is to say nothing negative about the person with whom you want a better relationship.  This includes saying something negative to them as well as about them to someone else.

I do quite a bit of work helping companies develop women’s leadership programs, and one high-level corporate client, Nadia, told me that she could trace her rise in corporate America to this one change.  Years ago, with a harsh boss, she would regularly gripe to a female co-worker.  But even though the co-worker was equally mistreated, she refused to join in.  Finally, she asked Nadia, “If you complain, does it change anything?”  When Nadia admitted that it wouldn’t actually change anything, her colleague shook her head.  “You’re wrong,” she said.  “It does change something.  It changes you.

Brain science researchers like Dr. Brad Bushman at Ohio State University have discovered that our idea of “letting off steam” as a way of dealing with negative feelings is completely wrong neurologically!  Instead, it actually further activates an interconnected anger system in the brain. So when we vent with our friends or co-workers, we’re building up steam rather than releasing it.

A better analogy: expressing our frustrations turns up the heat under the pot – and stopping our negative talk is like putting a lid on the pot and removing it from the heat.  That choice actually changes the way ours brain process the negative situation.   We’re just not as angry anymore!  Even better, if we can actually look for something that is worthy of praise in this person or situation, positive feelings often replace the negative ones – which can help improve even the most difficult relationships.

This doesn’t mean you should repress negative feelings, or that you can’t share something important with a supportive friend.  It does mean to be careful about why you are sharing and how.

A friend recently decided to do the 30-Day Kindness Challenge for her 7 year-old adopted son. As a child from a hard place, he had spent years fighting attachment and exhibiting difficult and unpleasant behavior, mostly directed at his new mom. When she first started the challenge, my friend was honestly stumped about how she was going to participate in her regular support group for adoptive moms since she couldn’t say anything negative!

What occurred was fascinating.  She was still able to share concerns and seek advice, but because she wasn’t sharing those “can you believe it?!” comments, she found she was much less angry with him.  As she sought support, her words were less heated – almost like reporting facts in a news story rather than fueling the fire of her frustration and anger.  In the end she felt more positive about her relationship with her son and she still felt heard and understood by her support system. Win-win!

So the next time you find yourself picking up the phone to call a friend to complain, or start venting around the water cooler, stop yourself.  Remember that it will not make you feel better.    Try it; you will see the difference it makes.   And it will help you want to go the next step, which is to live a life evidenced by graciousness even when others are harsh.  To be kind even when it isn’t warranted.  To notice the things that are worthy of praise, not just those that are worthy of driving you crazy.  And to be the one who reaches out to others, to share the truth that living life this way is a lot more fun.


Visit www.shaunti.com for more.

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I can definitely attest to being amazed how little I care about minor things anymore.  Something seemed to happen when I turned 30 this past birthday – I completely stopped caring about things that didn’t matter, and found true beauty and freedom in depending wholly on Christ for my self-worth and assurance.  Something weird also happened with turning 30… along with not caring about things that didn’t matter, I seemed to find people’s over-reactions or ridiculous anger hilarious or entertaining.  I’m still not entirely sure why… but it’s a nice change of freedom and joy, embracing the beauty of life and freedom of Christ.

Besides… it’s better to live as a happy woman (wife and mother especially!) than an old sourpuss.  Perhaps this is what Christ meant when He talked about living life in abundance?

Spring

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We’ve been enjoying this beautiful weather for a couple of months now since our “Spring” starts so early.  Each year it mesmerizes me with how beautiful Texas is in the Spring.  There’s something about the sunlight hitting the newly green grass or leaves and delicate flowers with a backdrop of the most gorgeous blue sky you can imagine that is just too much!

It’s like the weather itself radiates happiness and joy ❤

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Our oldest found a rock with circles cut out like eyes from a skull LOL!!  Our boys could seriously be comedians… 😀

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St. Patrick’s Day craft making green peeps into little Irish men.  It was so fun!

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Our green Riverwalk dyed for St. Patrick’s Day celebrations.

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We let our oldest start taking care of some strawberry plants, it’s been fun watching them grow and produce fruit.  Just need to figure out some netting to keep the birds and squirrels away lol!  We recently found one with a bite taken out of it!

 

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This was the first strawberry it produced!  Our son ate it and although he “hated” strawberries before (yet still wanted the plants?? lol) he’s now decided he LOVES them!  (Sneaky parenting 101)

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Sometimes our oldest reads bedtime stories to his little brother.  These are honestly the moments that you live for as a parent.  Just. So. Sweet.  ❤ ❤ ❤

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New kitten adventures.

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HAPPY SPRING!!!

Updates!

baby-sophie

I’ve been really neglecting this blog, but writing the Proverbs 31 study hasn’t stopped for me (even though it’s stopped online), it’s just taking a different avenue than I expected as there’s been a request to tailor it to police wives specifically.  So I’m writing (offline) two different books essentially, one that will hopefully be in our family for however long the children and grandchildren value it, and another that may go on to be for police wives all over the country.

So you’ll start to see the posts in this series being removed and no longer available online here.  They’ve been up for months and months so hopefully anyone who was interested has gotten something out of them, and if someone wants the ending posts, just comment or send an email to let me know.

I haven’t officially posted about this here yet, but all of our “real life” friends and family are already aware – I’m 6 months pregnant with our 3rd baby, and IT’S A GIRL!!!!

With that in mind, the Proverbs 31 series, which was written primarily for our own family and future little ones (children and grandchildren hopefully), we are OVER THE MOON to have this opportunity to raise a girl.  Raising boys into strong, godly and fierce men is extremely important, and I’d say raising girls into virtuous women that fiercely hold onto their beliefs in this culture is equally as important, and it’s great that this study/book for our family will have a feminine reader when she’s ready!

I had kind of thought honestly that I’d have to wait until we had grandchildren to get a girl in our family, so this was unexpected, a little scary, but VERY much welcomed!

So after the posts disappear, I’ll probably get back to writing here on various topics concerning anti-feminism, etc.  My husband’s expressed interested in writing more as well, which is so exciting for me personally – he has the greatest ideas and I love that he’ll be expressing them here.  It will be a place where his thoughts on these times we’re in will be recorded so that our sons (and daughter and maybe our grandchildren) will be able to read and understand how he reacted to things during this strange time in America.  I’m planning on printing all his posts and keeping them in a binder (or just having them professionally bound later on when they’re “completed”).  I think it’s great to have them here, too, because anyone else that is interested (not part of our family obviously), will have access to them.

It will be like history for our family in a way, to be able to read and know intimately what our Patriarch thought!  Just so awesome!

 

And random news:  I’ve started a new blog a few months ago about fitness, and especially focused on fitness for women who want to stay in the best shape possible even after having multiple children.  Disclaimer: It shows a lot of women in bikinis :/ it’s just the best way to look at body percentage fat, etc. and is a woman’s blog intentionally.  So if lots of skin bothers you, it’d be better for you to avoid it altogether.  That blog is especially important to me in regards to our coming daughter – her perspective on fitness, the perils of being overweight, and how our culture is becoming more and more insane in almost every dimension (but especially in regards to unhealthy choices), are all extremely important issues to us.  We want her to understand the lies behind “body-shaming,” and “fat acceptance,” and come into adulthood with a healthy and godly mindset that acknowledges what true fitness really is and looks like for women.

I want her to understand how hard it is to keep fit over the course of her lifetime, but also how rewarding it is for her to do so!  I want her to be compassionate toward others who are failing in this area of their lives, but also strong in her beliefs that being overweight is not “good” or “ok” for people, or even God’s best for them.

So every post there, is written in mind for her to read it in the future.

Read if you dare 😉

THE FIT YOU

Our Winter Wonderland Experience!

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Taking a break from writing the Proverbs 31 series, I wanted to take some time to finally upload our pics from our mini “Winter Vacation” a couple of weeks ago.  San Antonio never gets real snow.  Well, one time back in 1985, but even that was called a “100-year snow,” for us.  Soooooo  we decided that since we missed going to the beach/island this Summer due to so many car issues, that we’d instead drive up to the mountains in New Mexico for a little less than a week to see if we could catch some snow for the boys to see!

It was the best decision ever to do this – our oldest had so much fun!  I’ve never even seen snow like we saw on the last 2 days there (we planned it somehow just right)!  It was so exciting (and FREEZING COLD)!  It made me SO GRATEFUL that we live in South Texas.  I love the heat… yes, even the really extreme heat we get in the Summer.  We live very close to a great waterpark and have access to swimming all day if we want.  It’s bliss ❤  🙂

But as for New Mexico’s mountain chill – wow!  We had all the correct clothing and even snow boots for everyone, but mentally, I was so not prepared for that level of cold!

We stayed a little cozy cabin in the area of a ski resort (that wasn’t open for a few more days – we got the best price because of this, and yet we still got to see their ski slopes with “created” snow).

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This day wasn’t actually that cold, hence the hoodies (they had layers of clothes underneath though!).  These were some photos of the bottom of the slopes at the ski resort.  We weren’t sure we’d be able to play around there so I didn’t wear my snow boots, the boys did though.

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New Mexico with it’s deserts and mesas and mountains was incredibly beautiful!  I’m not posting a lot of our pics of exploring the town and the mountains because I tend to take too many anyway, but I wanted to show the most exciting parts for us: the snow!

I loved seeing all the thousands of fir trees, and we were lucky to get to see it before and then after the first snowfall of the season.  I thought it’s scenery was equally as beautiful – it was that stunning.

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Our big window in the cabin the morning after the big snowfall.

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Our patio showing just about how many inches we got overnight in the mountains!  Wow!!!

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Our adorable little cabin!  It was a great stay and experience we’ll never forget.

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So. Beautiful.

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Thanks for reading 😉

How Can We Know That We’ve Truly Consecrated Ourselves to Him?

In January, I embarked on a journey to read a few enlightening books on past Christians’ spiritual thoughts and books on spiritual journeys.  One such book was Stepping Heavenward, by Mrs. E. Prentiss, a book that is written in a journal style following a 16 year old girl’s spiritual journey into womanhood, and finally, old age.  It was such a fascinating little book, with a multitude of great timeless lessons to learn regarding faith, marriage, and the role of a wife and mother.

It was like a breath of fresh air to dive into this timeless wisdom written in the 1800’s.

I bought this little book at the promptings of Mrs. Sharon White, author of the Legacy of Home blog, grandmother, and daughter of a revival preacher.  She has on her site a complimentary study guide to go with this book, written by herself!  I encourage every young woman to read this book if they are wondering about the role of a wife or mother, or wondering about the impact faith can have on their life.  

I am saving it to present to the next girl in our family,

be that a daughter or grand-daughter, this is one of those rare books that will be passed down in

our family legacy.

Here is just one excerpt where the minister is writing to the young girl about her progression in faith that I found quite wonderful:

***

“Now He never leaves His work incomplete, and He will gradually lead you into clear and open vision if you will allow Him to do it.  I say gradually, because I believe this to be His usual method, while I do not deny that there are cases where light suddenly bursts in like a flood.  To return to the blind man.  When Jesus found that his cure was not complete, He put His hands again upon his eyes and made him look up; and he was restored and saw every man clearly.  Now this must be done for you; and in order to have it done, you must go to Christ Himself, not to one of His servants.

Make your complaint, tell Him how obscure everything still looks to you, and beg Him to complete your cure.  He may see fit to try your faith and patience by delaying this completion; but meanwhile you are safe in His presence, and while led by His hand, He will excuse the mistake you make and pity your falls.  But you will imagine that it is best that He should at once enable you to see clearly.  If it is, you may be sure He will do it.  He never makes mistakes.  But He often deals far differently with His disciples.  He lets them grope their way in the dark until they fully learn how blind they are, how helpless, how absolutely in need of Him.

What His methods will be with you I cannot foretell.   But you may be sure that He never works in an arbitrary way.  He has a reason for everything He does.  You may not understand why He leads you now in this way and now in that, but you may, nay, you must believe that perfection is stamped on His every act.  …

Many persons never get beyond this point (of making their whole business to study their own case to see whether they are really in a state of grace).  They spend their whole time in asking the question:

Do I love the Lord or no?  Am I His or am I not?

I beg you, my dear child, if you are doing this aimless, useless work, to stop short at once.  Life is too precious to spend in a treadmill.  Having been pardoned by your God and Savior, the next thing you have to do is to show your gratitude for this infinite favor by consecrating your self entirely to Him, body, soul, and spirit.  …

And now if you ask how you may know that you have truly consecrated yourself to Him, I reply, observe every indication of His will concerning you, no matter how trivial, and see whether you at once close in with that will.  Lay down this principle as a law – God does nothing arbitrary.  If He takes away your health, for instance, it is because He has some reason for doing so; and this is true of everything you value; and if you have real faith in Him, you will not insist on knowing the reason.  If you find in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect – that is, that your will revolts at His will – do not be discouraged, but fly to your Savior and stay in His presence till you obtain the spirit in which He cried in His hour of anguish, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will but Thine be done” (Luke 22:42).  Every time you do this it will be easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer and nearer to Him; and in this nearness to Him you will find such peace such blessed, sweet peace as will make your life infinitely happy, no matter what may be its mere outside conditions.  

Just think, my dear Katy, of the honor and the joy of having your will one with the Divine will and so becoming changed into Christ’s image from glory to glory!  …

You can will to choose for your associates those who are most devout and holy.

You can will to read books that will stimulate your in your Christian life rather than those that merely amuse.

You can will to use every means of grace appointed by God.

You can will to spend much time in prayer without regard to your frame at the moment.

You can will to prefer a religion of principle to one of mere feeling; in other words, to obey the will of God when no comfortable glow of emotion accompanies your obedience.

You cannot will to possess the spirit of Christ; that must come as His gift; but you can choose to study His life and to imitate it.  This will infallibly lead to such self-denying work as visiting the poor, nursing the sick, giving of your time and money to the needy and the like.”

Undaunted Radiance!

Paul says this is the reason we are more than conquerers in all these things, super-victors, with a joy we would not have, but for the very thing which look as if they are going to overwhelm us.

The surf that distresses the ordinary swimmer produces in the surf-rider the super-joy of going clean through it.  Apply that to our own circumstances, these very things – tribulation, distress, persecution, produce in us the super-joy; they are not things to fight.

We are more than conquerors through Him in all these things, not in spite of them, but in the midst of them.  The saint never knows the joy of the Lord in spite of tribulation, but because of it – “I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation,” says Paul.

Undaunted radiance is not built on anything passing, but on the love of God that nothing can alter.

Oswald Chambers

***

When we go through periods of testing of our faith or character, the trials that can feel so crushing to our spirits, how is it that we can become “more than conquerors” in the midst of them?

The only answer I’ve found, especially recently in my own personal life, is in clinging to God, and abiding in Him daily.  

What about when we bring these things on ourselves?  How does one get over the guilt, the shame of dishonoring Christ’s reputation?

First off, even though the righteous may fall 7 times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes (Proverbs 24:26).

Satan wants to see you depressed, hurting, confused, disenchanted with God and His power in your life.

When you fall, he wants to keep you down there.  His are the mockers who watch your life, and laugh when you stumble or have calamity fall on you.  They, like him, want nothing more than to see you stop, withdraw, and disappear.  “Die a quick death.”

We are all ministers in some way to those God has allowed us to reach, and one of the ways Satan will often attack those who are serious about ministering to others, is through trials.  His end goal is to render you ineffective; to shut you up.

The only letter of recommendation we need is you yourselves.

Your lives are a letter written in our hearts;

everyone can read it and recognize our good work among you.

2 Corinthians 3:2

What’s in a Name? How Important are Your Children’s Names?

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We all have names that our parents gave us, and they all have different reasons for choosing that specific name.  Sometimes they love a specific meaning that comes from the name, other times it represents someone they loved or admired from the family, and sometimes on of our parents just thought it was pretty and sounded nice.

What is it about naming a child that is just so fascinating?  To me, I loved picking out the names for our children with my husband, because of the gift it was to give them a good name, with good meanings, and a hope for their future.  Being of Polish Jewish descent on my mother’s side, I specifically love the Hebrew approach of placing high value and importance on our children’s names, even if they think we’re silly for it. 🙂

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My parents took naming their children seriously also, and as a result, my full name means Crown of Grace.  Mostly my mother picked it, taking my first name from part of my father’s, and picking out “Ann” as the “Grace” part.  It is such a beautiful name, and I’m ever so grateful!  I was reminded of the meaning back in September when I encountered an interesting woman, who when she heard my first name, remarked to me, “Do you know that your name’s meaning is “Crown” or “Crowned?”  I told her yes, and that it gets worse, that my mother paired it with “Grace” for my middle name, so that in total it literally means “Crown of Grace.”  I told her that I always feel that I can never live up to this name, because although I want to, I often fail.  Who could live up to being a woman named “Crown of Grace?”  She laughed and pointed out that both have nothing to do with having to “live up” to them, or earning them, a crown you are given as royalty, you’re born into it.  And grace is also given and not earned.  She suggested I should just accept it and grow into becoming “Crowned with Grace.”

A verse that has always captured me about my name:

“She (Wisdom) will place a garland of grace on your head;

she will give you a crown of beauty.”

Proverbs 4:9

But what about for people who have strange meanings behind their names?  You may be reading this and thinking to yourself how much you don’t like the meaning of your name, or how you wish your parents had simply picked something else.  I knew a girl named a beautiful, Spanish name, but it’s meaning meant “Lame” – unable to walk.  One name that I always liked, when I looked up it’s meaning, I was surprised to find it meant, “Blind.”  Out of all the things one can name their children, speaking prophecies and blessings into their future, “lame,” or “blind,” are so sad.  It doesn’t seem fair at times – then again, life isn’t fair is it?

But God is a just God, and He “makes everything beautiful in it’s time.”  One of the most intriguing things to me about Christianity, is the history of God taking liberty of changing a person’s name, sometimes completely, and with it, often changing the entire meaning of it.  It’s very interesting to do a personal study on all the people in the Bible who when God encountered them, He gave them a New Name.

God’s ways are perfect, and He is the perfect Father.  Only He truly knows us and knows our hearts, perhaps that’s why He would see a person, and decide to give them a new name.

If you are interested in looking up your name’s meaning biblically, or looking for verses that have their meaning in it, I’ve found with my husband and our children, that we all have verses that can go with our names.  Having a verse that has your name’s meaning and promise in it can be so special, but it takes time and a good concordance to search through and find a verse that fits.  My husband has a verse in Isaiah that perfectly goes with his name, and even his life calling.  And our two sons’ names we purposely picked from verses that we’ll tell them when they’re older.  It’s edifying to find a verse that fits your name’s meaning.

If you don’t like the meaning of your name though, it may be more appropriate to search out a verse that has brought you through many of life’s trials and found special meaning to you personally.  This is called a “Life Verse.”

 

“A good name (reputation) is more desirable than great riches;

to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Proverbs 22:1

(Photo Credit: Rum&Lace Blog)

Feed The Birds – Kid Friendly Bird Feeders

This past week has been very interesting, with literally one strange catastrophe after another for our family.  But we’ve made it through (!!!!)… and have persevered to Easter weekend (somewhat) unscathed.  I’m so glad we’ll be able to celebrate Purim tonight and Easter.  I love Purim… and how wonderful is it that Queen Esther’s faithfulness in spite of her fear and intimidation will be celebrated the same weekend as the Hope of Easter!

Holy Holidays are so special to our family.  I wish you the best this weekend as well, whether you celebrate them or not.

 

If you’re looking for a fun and sweet project to do with your kids to celebrate Spring, making bird feeders is a fun option – and there are a variety of ways depending on what you have around your house to use or what you save.

We listened to this Mary Poppins song, and sang along with it, replayed it.  Corny, yes, but really touching at the same time.  Apparently this song was Walt Disney’s favorite song, he’d have the man who composed it, play it for him on Friday evenings when no one was there in the office.  The man kept playing it even after Disney passed away.

My older son LOVED it, and the baby liked it too 😉

 

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The were easy to place over thin branches or on the fence posts with a simple rubber band.  In hindsight, pinecones would have been perfect for this because you can easily tie a string around their stem or even the end part of their body, and hang them so that they dangle down!

But these worked just as well, and the birds were happy, so all was well!

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One of our beautiful resident doves.  My grandfather loves hearing doves whenever I go to see him and we take him outside.  His health and alzheimer’s is continuing to decline, but even on his “bad” days, taking him outside and letting him feel the warm from the sun and hear the birds cooing, changes his entire mood.

Birds and nature are just beautiful.

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So it took a day or so for our birds to find the feeders, but eventually, even our resident red bird couple found it together.  They are so sweet to watch, always with each other, wherever he is, she is not too far.  And the male sings so beautifully, you can actually sing back to them, and they just might answer you back!

We were ELATED to see them eating off of the feeders…

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Where she feeds him some of the birdseed.  Seriously… they are so romantic!

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And these pictures below were taken probably around 20-25 years ago, by my father… who also was a bird lover, and an amateur photographer 😉

I miss him taking pictures.  He was so good.

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