Purpose In The Little Trials

I am sick today.  It is day four with a very sore throat.  My sickness is not the worst today, but it’s also not the best.

Since early Tuesday morning I’ve had a gamut of symptoms from a red, hot, burning sore throat that would make me double over every time I swallow, to fever, body aches, and ear pain.

Day two, when it all seemed the worst, I wanted to whine for my troubles, but what does whining produce?  Probably about the same thing as anger, “for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” Thank you, James 1:20

Isn’t that why we whine?  Because we are angry about having to go through something, because we feel we deserve to be exempt from this trial or temptation; we feel we have “better” things to do.

I wanted to whine then, and I wanted to whine today.

But, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119), and so I took every thought captive and made it obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), remembering James’ words in the very second verse of his book, to “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you face trials of various kinds”.

Count it all joy, he says.

So I counted it joy, and I smiled, speaking these words aloud.

I remembered the rest of this verse, for why do we count it all joy?  Because we know “that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness [or perseverance]” (James 1:3).  I will be more steadfast and perseverant, also patient, because I endured a trial.  And the Lord knows I need sanctification!

  • I need to be patient and steadfast when four blessed mouths cry “momma!”
  • I need to be patient and steadfast when I feel like I can’t do one more thing, but many things must be done—diapers changed, infant nursed, babies rocked, children shepherded, meals cooked, dishes washed, husband respected, family loved.
  • I need to be patient and steadfast when I have no help, because I do have help. “Where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, Maker of heaven and earth.” Amen!  *For the record, the good Lord sent my mother over on the hardest day, my husband is incredibly selfless, one friend gave me herbal advice, and another brought us dinner yesterday–God bless you all!

I do have things to do. And I am doing them. I am glad God is not in the business of “quitting too soon”.  I am right here where God has placed me, and I am doing just what He wants me to do (except for the whining).

He wants me to be sick right now.

He wants me to reflect Christ through everything I do.

“So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

“Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” (James 1:4) I want to be mature. How I long to shed my immaturities and be more Christ-like.

God wants me to be graceful in all circumstances. But I need circumstances which require grace in order to be filled with grace, don’t I?

When my six-year-old daughter came down with the sore throat, fever, and body aches, she looked to me. Would I give her the disparity of the world in my reactions and response? Or would I reflect the light of Christ? She knew she could trust my recommendations and sympathy because she saw me go through the same thing only hours before, and even at that moment.

I want to teach my children to be anxious for nothing (Phil. 4:6), to dwell in the shelter of the Most High (Psalm 91:1), and to take the peace He gives to us (John 14:27).

The only way to teach these things to my children (or anyone) is to live them out myself, that they may see grace flow out of my own being, contrary to the desires and sensations of my flesh, because I am tapped in to the Giver of Grace. May we draw our little ones closer to God by drawing closer ourselves.

Count it all joy….

Postpartum Letters From a Mother of Four

I am a mother of four children between two months and six years old.  Life in our home is very full.  May I share with you a glimpse of that fullness?  Perhaps you may be encouraged, inspired or reminded to treasure the fullness God has for you as well.  These are the thoughts of a mother freshly delivered into motherhood for the fourth time, still postpartum.

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Two months ago, God delivered a baby girl into my arms.  She is my third daughter.  It has been on my heart every day to write a little bit of something during this amazingly intimate, yet fleeting, time of my life as I transition from mothering this child in my womb to mothering her with my very hands.

I will be sharing with you short, personal notes, often written and laid on my nightstand before sleep.  I suppose, in a way, I wish I could be writing these to my “younger self”.  Since I cannot, I am writing them to you and to my own daughters.  May your postpartum days be treasured.

December 16, 2014 ~ seven days postpartum

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Take the time.

Breastfeed longer than necessary.  Breastfeed again after changing the baby’s diaper.  Linger when you hold her to your chest to burp her; feel her soft skin and hair rub along your cheek and lips.  Hold her awhile.  Treasure this time with her of intimate bonding created for you and this child of your womb.  It is miraculous: childbirth.

Gaze at her indefinitely.  Your heart and mind are studying this new, beautiful creation as you touch her, kiss her, and look upon the details of her form.  We mothers soak this up.  And if you aren’t yet, you ought to.

Take the time.

God bless you ~

You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need – a repost from Generation Cedar

When I get the time, I enjoy stopping in at Generation Cedar to read Kelly Crawford’s latest posts. Her most recent, “You Have Too Many Children to Give Them What They Need“, is (as usual) very forthright and on topic with so much I see and hear in society today. I wish I could be so articulate to say the same things! So, here are some excerpts to give you a taste and I hope you will click over and read her full article.

This is a great preview into some upcoming posts on how I have had more to give, not less, as each child has come into our home and lives. You would think a parent would be spread more thin, having more children, but the opposite is true when we give children what they need

Be sure to come back again to see what I have grown to have more of to give with each child added to our family. Until then, here’s some wisdom from Mrs. Crawford…

 

Somewhere along the line, we created an imaginary set of rules about what kids need for healthy development and if you’ll listen closely, you’ll hear it: “To love my children is to buy them things.” Suffice it to say, if love equals providing material comforts, American children are the most well-loved children in the world. Ironically, they also suffer the most from narcissism, ingratitude, and a grandiose sense of entitlement.

 

I’ve been asked, outright, how I could possibly give each child “what they need” since I have far more children than the average family. But the question I ask is, “What do you mean by ‘what they need?’ ”

 

But usually the people who ask me such questions have two parents working outside the home and their children are in school. With homework and school functions considered, that means parents and children are spending an average of (studies indicate) 36 minutes during a weekday together, and 7 out of 10 admit that time is mostly spent watching t.v.

 

The god of consumerism hates children because “too many children” curb our spending.

 

Read more here to find out what Kelly, mom of 10 children, has to say about what children really need.

Here’s what children need, whether you have 1 or 20.

And I Linger…

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I used to dwell on many things that to Eternity hardly matter,

But now I sing a different tune, and instead now I linger.

 

The days are long and there’s work to be done

But God’s graces abound, and I linger.

 

Like the day I could hardly stay awake

Reading to the kids when it came

A breeze blowing through smelling sweet and cool

Across my face, through my hair, and I lingered.

 

Or tonight when the baby fell asleep late

And I carried her into her bed

But on the way, my feet did stay

I held her close, and I lingered

 

Many a time life is just so busy

That my husband’s kisses end too quickly

But then out of the blue,

He’ll whisper “I love you”

And for a moment more, we linger.

 

As a busy mom with so much to do,

Sometimes all I see are the toys on the floor

But then I walk by

the windows up high

And the view captures me, and I linger.

 

In the mornings, I spend alone time with God and drink a glass of cocoa

And as I fellowship with Him, the taker of my sins,

Life is full of sweetness, and I linger

 

(Poem by me, please share with credit)

 

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photo credit: hehaden via photopin cc

 

The Newbie Homesteader: June Harvest & A Go At Organic Pest Control

So, I realize it is now July 1st, but I harvested and took the photos on Friday; I’m just late getting this out.  By now, I have a huge bunch of carrots, several heads of cabbage, enough Swiss chard to feed us and our chickens, lots of weeds, etc.  But it’s glorious work.  It must be.  It has to be done!

We have already eaten everything in the picture below, and it was delicious!  We boiled the beets, fried up the beet greens and zucchini in butter, ate the carrots and beans raw, and were pleased to thank the Lord for blessing us with this food as we sat around the family table to enjoy the beginnings of our harvests.

  Our June harvest…

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Beets, zucchini, green beans, and carrots

Some home-grown, sun-kissed faces…

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Cabbage

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We harvested two heads of cabbage on Friday, and there are more ready in the garden to be harvested today.  Cabbage soup and kim chi are on our menu this week.

 

Carrots

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Swiss Chard

 

 

Bush Beans and Pickling Cucumbers

We got this wonderful trellis idea from the book “The Backyard Homestead”.  My husband built a wood frame (with A-frame supports, so it’s slanted) and attached chicken wire.  We have 16-18 pickling cucumber plants along this 20′ row.

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Pickles

The kids ate this one before it could make it into a pickle jar

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Tomatoes

Friday, my children harvested the very first ripe cherry tomato!  (This is not it)

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Zucchini Squash

These plants looked so sad, sorry, and stunted when we finally got them into the ground.  Praise God my husband is an excellent gardener.

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Organic Pest Control: Squash Bugs

Here my daughter is carefully removing them from the inside of a flowering pumpkin plant.  She’s being careful with the plant but squishing the bugs.

See the little pumpkin starting to form behind the flower?

 

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Organic Pest Control: Cabbage Worms & Aphids

I’ve already lost an entire cabbage plant to cabbage aphids and cabbage worms.

These clusters (below) of cabbage aphids are not a welcome sight.

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Cabbage Worms

 

cabbage worms and eggs

Can you see the little green worm (vertical under my thumb) coming out of a hole it just chewed?

Now can you spot the two tiny green eggs in the bottom right corner of the picture?

 

What to do?

I made a spray out of cayenne powder, garlic powder, water, and liquid hand soap based on some recommendations I found online.  But since we couldn’t spray until evening, the children and I gave each cabbage plant a thorough rub-down  (squishing all of the bugs and worms with our bare hands).  My kids are hard workers–I was very impressed.

We first sprayed our cabbage plants with the homemade spicy solution Friday night and then sprayed them lightly a couple of times since then for safe measure (I really didn’t want to lose any more cabbage plants to pests!).  We haven’t seen a single pest or fresh bite in the leaves since using our homemade spray.  I absolutely recommend giving it a try!

 

 

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A Mother’s 11:00pm Journal Entry

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I overreacted.

I disciplined too harshly.

I just got finished reading how a mother needs to balance motherly sacrifice with not letting her children run her life, when I got interrupted by my oldest child getting out of bed for the I’m-not-sure-how-many-ith-time. “She’s running me,” I thought. “I need to nip this in the bud!” “This has to stop!” “Sleep has been an issue for five years running.”

Instead of nipping disobedience in the bud, I grasped entitlement and disciplined out of selfish-ambition. I wanted my child to be in bed. She was awake before I was this morning and I didn’t want her to be awake up to my final moments of waking consciousness. I needed time to myself… or so I thought.

This whole me-time, balancing our wants and desires and uniqueness with the calling to be mothers and wives sacrificially just gets me all tied up in knots. What is right? Am I being too selfish when I could be reveling in motherhood more? Am I running myself ragged shepherding children, keeping house, and serving my husband without regularly taking time away from it all?

Well, I don’t know. But I am very observant, and I often look back over my own life as the ultimate experiment for how I should proceed further. I am just one life out of many (billions). And here is what I have observed…

I need to be careful to be Spirit-led.

When I read or hear that mama needs to take care of the temporal body and mind that God gave her and be watchful so as to not let babies a, b, and c run her with their demands, I need to do one of two things: throw it away, or think about it under the headship of Christ.

Why might I throw it away? Well, perhaps when the day has been one hurdle after another making up the race of my waking hours and 8:30pm rolls around with two out of three children protesting sleep (albeit happily, quietly, and calmly), it may not be the wisest time to consider whether or not my children are “running” me, per se. A completely weary and vulnerable state of mind is in no position to take on a new approach to anything, especially child training and “me-time.” Clearly, I’m already on the border of coveting the sacred time alone. I need to not wonder, ponder, or consider anything new. I need to abide in peace and let the Holy Spirit lead me.  He who asks for wisdom will be given wisdom.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” James 1:5

When I do think about it, I need to do so under the headship of Christ and take into account the wisdom He has already given me thus far.

“take every thought captive to obey Christ,” 2 Corinthians 10:5b

Rest doesn’t just change with the seasons—it changes with the time of day.

You know what? I am in a season of service: 24/7 TLC. It’s around-the-clock, all-on-my-shoulders (while husband is at work and working on projects at home), teaching, training, and caring for others all with the necessity of tenderness and love.

Filling my cup is very personal right now. I have to have an intimate relationship with Christ to be filled in a season as full as this. This relationship is in the follow-through of my obedience to Him, my submission to my own husband, and my heart continually seeking Him throughout each day. My heart must remain softened unto Him.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” John 10:27

I must be His sheep and I must know His voice when He calls, lest I be led away and lost in the briars.

When my children were sick a week ago and I couldn’t get a moment without worry or work, God gave me a moment. I sat softly in a chair. I reclined slowly. I breathed, and I could hear it. I gazed out of the new window and set my eyes upon the mountains God created. I breathed again, and I felt it.

My whole body relaxed and my mind was at ease. God gave me a moment of peace. In the five minutes I reveled in this gift of peace, God completely filled my cup.

“Give us this day, our daily bread.” I guess I should say he filled my bread basket. I had a need, and He fulfilled it. We do need to be filled up. We do need peace and rest. But what people say is peaceful and restful are not the same as God’s set-aside plan for filling up your individual cup of need.

Know Him that you may know His voice.

He brings the peace through the baby giggling as you pull her back across the bed for your fourteenth attempt at securing her fresh diaper. Otherwise, what would you see? “Can’t you just hold still!?”

He brings the peace when your child rises from bed at an hour-and-a-half past bedtime asking for food, drink, and a potty break. Otherwise, what would you think? “You should have asked me when it was awake time. Why didn’t you just eat more three hours ago?” Feed her, give her a glass of water, take her to the restroom, and lay back down with her this once with a smile. A real smile. Tenderness from God the Father, because He gave it to you to pass on.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 1 Corinthians 1:3-5

He brings the peace when your child breaks down at every pin-drop because he got way over-hungry by lunch-time and appears to be inconsolable. Otherwise, what would you do? “This is unacceptable. Screaming and throwing tantrums are not okay no matter how icky you feel.” Hug him. He’s “hangry” (as my friend calls it when you’re so hungry you’re angry). I’m one who gets completely irrational when I’m over-hungry, it evokes some fight or flight response in me (or something), so I can sympathize. Feed him, and discuss attitude and prevention when the storm has passed. He won’t forget fifteen minutes later when his belly is finally full, and chances are he will apologize without your prompting.

Thank God for the giggles.

Thank God for the extra hour-and-a-half with your sweet child, especially time alone with her.

Thank God for giving this child to a parent whose heart is tender enough to know when someone is in sincere need of a hug and a gentle answer instead of firmness. After all, I know he’s not a regular transgressor of kindness. But I do know that an empty belly is a vulnerability for him.

Remember that I know my child.

Seriously. How many times has it crossed my mind that, “No, if I don’t get him to shape up this attitude even when he doesn’t feel well, he’s going to think he can just holler and scream every time he feels entitled to something, even comfort!” And I forget that I know my child.

“She’ll never stop needing me to lay with her at bedtime. Though I cherish these moments together, I just can’t do it all of the time! What about later when the baby arrives and he/she needs me?? How long will this go on? I need to be able to say ‘no’ once in a while! If I don’t hunker down and get strict with discipline, she’ll run me into the ground at every bedtime, forever!” And I forget every single milestone we have made. I forget every leap and bound God has been faithfully bringing her across over the years, months, weeks, and even days.

Mom, nobody knows your child better than you do, save God Himself. Doubt can be a dangerous thing. Do you have a husband? Ask him. Chances are, he’ll say you’re a pretty great mom to your kids, even with the mistakes. We all make them, after all.

I can-not understand how my children consistently come up to me out of the blue and declare me to be the best mother who ever lived (or maybe it’s the best mom in the world… whichever).

Her children rise up and call her blessed     Proverbs 31:28

His mercies truly are new every morning…

 

photo credit: Michael Matti via photopin cc

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Enjoy Your Little Tag-Alongs

I saw a young mother with eyes full of laughter
And two little shadows come following after.
Wherever she moved, they were always right there,
Holding on to her skirts, hanging onto her chair–
Behind her, before her–adhesive pair.
“Don’t you ever get weary as day after day
Your two little tag-alongs get in your way?”
She smiled as she shook her pretty young head,
And I’ll always remember the words that she said:
“It’s good to have shadows that run when you run,
That laugh when you laugh, and hum when you hum;
For you only have shadows when your life’s filled with sun!”

~Anonymous, “Letters From Our Readers” Keepers at Home Summer 2014 issue.

 

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