Monday, October 31, 2016

31. Always Be Humble and Kind

My thanks to Tim McGraw for the phrasing of my final entry. :-)
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I saved my favorite for last. If there's one thing I want my kids to learn (aside from the saving grace of Jesus), it's to be kind. My parents modeled this in a powerful way, and I grew up thinking it was normal. As I got older, I was astonished to see the way people treat each other and talk to each other.

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As Christians, being kind is an easy way to share the love of Christ. Instead of being snippy and rude with a slow waitress, just be kind. Instead of sighing loudly and scowling as the person in front of you at Meijer takes forever with their order, smile and be patient. Instead of returning evil for evil, be the better person.
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But don't reserve your kindness for strangers. Shower it on those closest to you as well. Talk nicely to your kids and husband. Treat your parents with respect. Be friends with your siblings. Use sarcasm sparingly - and never in a mean-spirited way.

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One of the first verses I taught my girls is Ephesians 4:32.

Believe it or not Tim McGraw wasn't the first to call for humility and kindness . . .

Ephesians 4:2

Romans says that God's kindness leads us to repentance. Respond to that repentance with kindness of your own!

And now I'd like to thank all of you for your kindness toward me in reading and responding to my posts throughout the past 31 days. I've loved all the feedback and encouragement. It was a great experience! (But I'm glad to be done! Haha.)

To see more from my Write 31 Days series, click the image below:

Sunday, October 30, 2016

30. Silence Satan's Lies with the Truth of Scripture

If you've ever read The Screwtape Letters, you know that Satan is the "father of lies." C.S. Lewis writes the book as a series of letters from the "master demon" to a "rookie" (my words). He gives pages of advice to the young demon on how to keep people from knowing and loving God. The entire book is riddled with admonitions to deceive and persuade and mislead. John 8:44 says, "He [Satan] was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

Now, I don't understand the theological intricacies of how Satan lies to us. It's not verbally (like it was with Eve in the garden), but I also hesitate to ascribe so much power to Satan as to say that he can "whisper" things in our ears - aka, impress things on our minds. But regardless of how these thought-lies get into our heads, I do know the Bible says to "take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ." (2 Corinthians 10:5)

For me, that looks like this: When I start to fear the security of my salvation or doubt that God loves me, I stop those thoughts in their tracks and replace them with the truth of Scriptures like these:

Romans 8:1 "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus"
Romans 9:16 "It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy."
Galatians 2:16 " . . .a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ."
Ephesians 2:8-9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." 
Hebrews 10:10 "And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Psalm 103:11-12 "For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us." 

And I remember that I never did anything for God. He loved me while I was still his enemy: "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8)

Know your Bible. Know the truth it contains. Underline verses that are important to you so they'll jump out to you later when you're flipping through your Bible searching for hope. Print off some of the thousands of free printable verses available on Pinterest to be a constant visual reminder. Memorize a few so they're with you everywhere you go. Don't believe Satan's lies!

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Saturday, October 29, 2016

29. Look Forward to the Firsts Instead of Lamenting the Lasts

My baby is 8 months old today. I love the baby phase. Every month I see it slipping away little by little and I have to remind myself not to despair. This is probably our last baby [sidenote: I'm still waiting for that "I'm DONE" feeling. That does arrive eventually, right??] so I'm holding onto every little snuggle and toothless smile while I can. But at the same time, I'm trying to live by this mantra: Look forward to the firsts instead of lamenting the lasts.

Karen Kingsbury capitalized on that feeling of longing for the past with this horrible book:

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The Amazon synopsis:
With lighthearted illustrations and a sweet, reflective tone, best-selling author Karen Kingsbury encourages parents to savor not only their children’s firsts, like first steps and first words, but the lasts as well. With the tenderness of a mother speaking directly to her child, Karen reminds us not to miss last days of kindergarten and last at-bats in Little League amid the whirlwind of life. Adapted from a poem in Rejoice, this book allows mothers and grandmothers everywhere to identify with the tenderhearted reflections on these pages.
Let me save you the tears and tell you right now not to read that book. Haha. Instead of looking back and realizing, "Oh no! That was the last time I tied her shoe! I didn't properly appreciate it!" look forward to what is to come.

Instead of being sad that Levi's not a newborn anymore, I'm looking forward to his first words and first steps. I'm looking forward to seeing his personality emerge and seeing if he's actually going to be as athletic as we all think he is. Haha.

I'm not rushing him, but I'm also not wasting the present mourning for the past!

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Friday, October 28, 2016

The "Saturday" 7

You are receiving a special advance edition of the Saturday 7 this week because I'm leaving for Ladies' Retreat tonight.

1. I have a confession to make: it bothers me that Lucy isn't competitive. She's an amazing reader, and whips through chapter books at home. But at school, they do AR books, where each book is assigned a level. She only does the minimum requirement and doesn't rush through the books to get to a higher level. She's happy just to coast along in the middle of the pack with the rest of her class. And at Awana, she can learn as many verses as she wants each week, but she only does one because that's all that's required. She couldn't care less about getting ahead or being the top of her class. Whose kid is she??!!

2. The weather finally turned very cold this week (temps in the 30s and 40s - which will feel balmy in a few months) and we played this game:

We heat our house with an outdoor wood burning system. It requires my dad to refill the furnace 3 times a day in order to keep our house warm, so he likes to put off starting it as long as possible. I don't blame him one bit, but it did get pretty chilly this week:

We have a fireplace to keep us from truly freezing, but it really only keeps the living room warm. And I'm terrible and making and maintaining fires. (I'd never survive in the wilderness.)

I think yesterday was the last straw for my dad when he came home home from work and saw me making dinner in the kitchen with the space heater blowing on me. Haha. He finally started up the wood burner and it has been blissfully warm in here ever since!! Thank you so much, Dad!!!

3. I read this article a few days ago about what stay-at-home moms do all day. This was my favorite part:
Feeding people. I serve up three meals a day so that people can cry, fall on the floor in convulsions, and agonize over which is better: my cooking—or—starving. Then they choose starving…because my food is just. that. bad.
I also loved this:
I don’t think my life is harder or that I’m some sort of martyr. I think that this is exactly what I chose to do—and sometimes it is hard, because that is the nature of things that matterJust like any great dream, it is worth the cost.
Things worth believing in are also worth fighting for. Sometimes that looks like hard work and sacrifice.
I worry that I complain too much about how hard being a mom is, when it's what I've wanted all my life. I love being a mom. I'm not a martyr. I know it's hard for everyone. But it's hard because "that is the nature of things that matter." Exactly.

4. I'm still chugging along with my Write 31 Days series. You can tell by my writing that I'm getting sick of it. Lol. Only a few more days. Important programming note, though. Because I'll be at Ladies' Retreat this weekend, I've pre-written and scheduled my next few entries to appear at 6 a.m. every morning. But I won't be able to share them on facebook. So if you're dying to read them, you're going to have to come back here and look them up yourself. ;-)

5. Raise your hand if you're ready for the election to be over!!

I am so sick of the politics and tirades and bashing and fear-mongering. No one needs a couple more weeks to make up their minds. Let's just vote and be done with it! I saw this on Pinterest this week and thought it was a good reminder:

And my pastor said something interesting recently. He said that God is not sitting up in heaven wringing his hands over our election. He's still in control. Jesus still reigns. This is just a tiny slice of history that is probably not going to be as big of a deal as everyone thinks. (Apocalypse in America! All because either Trump or Hillary is our next president!)

It also reminds me of one of my favorite songs. 

The last line says, "The kings of men shall shut their mouths in awe." Trump and Hillary might be powerful right now, but some day their mouths will shut in awe at the majesty and power of the true king. 

6. That's all I've got for today. Off to spend some time with Lena before abandoning her for the weekend. Here are a couple pictures from our week:

Movie night.
Christmas music!

28. Make Friends with People in a Different Stage of Life Than You

*This post is inspired by my weekend plans. I'm off to Ladies' Retreat with my church, where I'll be hanging out with women of all ages. I've scheduled my posts to continue while I'm gone, so you shouldn't miss out on the last few days of Write 31!*

I have an amazing group of girlfriends who got married and had babies around the same time I did. We get together often for playdates and to bounce ideas off each other about discipline and picky eating and stay-at-home-mom-dom. I'm so thankful for them and their friendship. Having other mom-friends is vital to making it through these years of parenting young kids.

But I'm also very grateful for my friends who are in different stages of life than me. For me, it was a little bit built in with my sisters. Niki is 9 years older than me and Libby is 6 years younger, so none of us were ever really in the same stage at the same time.

I was 8 when Niki got married. Libby was 14 when I got married. Niki's youngest kid was 10 when my first baby was born. Libby is just starting her career and doesn't seem in a hurry to have kids anytime soon (despite my begging for my kids to have cousins semi-close to their age!).

I've also gotten to know some of Niki's same-age friends pretty well in the past few years. And my mom is honestly one of my best friends too. My mom, Niki, and I all hang out with Jill - who is between Niki and my mom age-wise.

Having friends without young kids is good for my perspective. When my mom-friends and I hang out, we like to commiserate about our parenting challenges. We end up thinking this is the hardest thing we've ever done, and assure each other that it has to get better as the kids get older, right . . .?

But having friends with teenagers reminds me that there's a whole new host of problems ahead. Haha. It reminds me to enjoy the incessant touching and clamoring for my attention. Because soon that will be replaced with distance and a desire for privacy.

Having friends with grown kids is a priceless source for parenting wisdom.

Having friends without kids reminds me that life does go on without kids, and I need to make an effort to maintain a strong friendship with my husband and have a few hobbies that aren't kid-centric.

And hopefully I bring something to our friendships as well. Whether it's a cautionary tale (don't go into student loan debt like I did!) or advice about pregnancy/birth/newborns (get the epidural!), I hope I can bring as much to a friendship as I get from it!

To see more from my Write 31 Days series, click the image below:

Thursday, October 27, 2016

27. Laugh at Yourself

On Tuesday, when my van died in the Meijer parking lot, I literally sat there laughing for a minute. Lena piped up from the backseat, "Why are you laughing?" When I told her the van was dead, she declared vehemently, "That's not funny!" But it really was. And you know what's even funnier? The reason my van died. My mechanic called me yesterday with the news . . . it was out of gas. Lol. Seriously! I had it towed to the mechanic because it was out of gas!! In my defense, the gas gauge did suddenly stop working. It said I still had a quarter tank. So here's a mini life lesson: don't trust your gas gauge! Do you really blame me for assuming the worst after all the car trouble I've had in my life? Haha.

I realized during this whole debacle that there is a lesson to be learned here. I could have been mortified. Or I could have been angry that I paid $42 for the mechanic to tell me I was out of gas. But I can honestly laugh about the whole scenario. Because it's really funny! Haha. The lesson is this: don't take yourself too seriously. When something has the potential to be embarrassing or frustrating or hurtful, do your best to find the humor in it.

In case you need some more examples . . .
  • I failed my driver's test the first time I took it . . . that's funny
  • I hit myself in the face with the paddle while playing ping-pong . . . that's funny
  • I tried to make a recipe out of a cookbook called "Anyone Can Cook." My chicken ended up so charred that I threw it in the trash and made PB&J for dinner . . . that's funny
  • Lena sometimes pretends her legs don't work in Meijer . . . that's funny
  • I gave all of my kids and my cat 4-letter "L" names . . . that's funny
  • Lucy once told me that she made a wish on a dandelion that she didn't have parents . . . that's funny
  • I got so huge while pregnant that I was asked every day if I was having twins or "due any day" . . . that's funny
  • I'm 31 years old and I'm terrified of bears . . . that's funny
  • When I found out Levi's due date I said, "I just don't want a Leap Day baby." My water broke 2 weeks early, and sure enough, he arrived on Leap Day . . . that's funny
  • I suck at Pinterest projects . . . that's funny

  • As I was being wheeled out of the hospital after my D&C, I sneezed twice and passed out. The whole day was traumatic, but that part of it was funny.
I have a huge amount of embarrassing stories that I still can't laugh at and will not be sharing, but in general, I find you either laugh or cry - why not laugh?!

To see more from my Write 31 Days series, click the image below:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

26. Enjoyment of Christmas Should Not Be Limited to One Month!

Less than two months, people!! Christmas is coming!! And I'm breaking out the Christmas music. All you naysayers can just pipe down, because I hold firmly to this philosophy: Enjoyment of Christmas should not be limited to one month! 

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year. I look forward to it for months. As soon as the weather turns cold, the Christmas music comes out. I've been Christmas shopping for weeks. My calendar is filling up with plans for Christmas parties and family gatherings. I'm getting in the spirit!!

Thanksgiving is just another delicious part of the whole holiday season. I don't love it any less just because I've already started looking forward to Christmas. Why put off the joy of Christmas until Thanksgiving is over? That only leaves me one month to enjoy it! Bring on the Christmas cheer!

To see more from my Write 31 Days series, click the image below:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

25. Invest in Roadside Assistance

This morning I was driving to Meijer when I felt like my van suddenly started to decelerate. I was just about to get in the turning lane to turn into the store when it happened, so I needed to slow down anyway. I'm overly paranoid about my car breaking down, so I figured I was imagining things, until I actually attempted to turn. My power steering was definitely out. Fortunately I was turning right and slightly downhill. I managed to coast into the parking lot of the Meijer gas station before my van totally died. I turned it off and attempted to re-start it. Nothing. Dead as a door nail. I just sat there laughing for a minute because I have the worst luck with cars.

And that is why I always opt in to the "roadside assistance" plan when choosing car insurance. With Progressive, it's $9 for the first vehicle and $5 for the second (per a 6 month plan). 100% worth it when we drive clunker cars that frequently break down.

This isn't the first time my car has broken down while I was driving it.

I was working at my nanny job, shuttling their kids home from school when my van out of the blue died. It was old and had a lot of miles, but it never gave me any warning signs. It just died while I was going 55 mph down the road. I got it to the side of the road, called roadside assistance to haul away my van and called my sister to pick up the kids and me.

It was Christmas day when my other van died. We were driving home from my parents' house when the transmission went out a few miles from our house. That time we did manage to get home before it completely died. But I used my roadside assistance to have it towed away the next day.

The head gasket blew in my Cavalier. I drove it 25 mph with the heat blowing all the way home and once again had roadside assistance get me a tow truck to haul it away.

Justin was driving his car to work one day when the transmission randomly blew.

Some kind of belt broke on another one of my vans as I was driving 60 mph down the road.

I had a flat tire once. Roadside assistance to the rescue.

Justin locked his keys in his car once (or twice). Roadside assistance again.

I'm telling you. It is so worth it.

I'm also telling you . . . if it turns out that something is seriously wrong with my van (that we just bought in May!), I am so done with used cars. I'm going to buy something brand new with a warranty and just be in debt for the rest of my life. This is so ridiculous!!!

Special thanks to my amazing friend, Missy, for rescuing us from Meijer and driving us to Sparta. And thanks to my sister for loaning us their extra vehicle . . . a huge orange truck that I'm quite terrified to drive. Haha. So thankful for friends, family, and roadside assistance!

To see more from my Write 31 Days Series, click the image below:

Monday, October 24, 2016

24. Learn How to Cook [And Avoid My Mistakes]

I am a terrible cook. I don't know why. I can read and follow a recipe. But I apparently don't have much common sense. Haha. Here are some lessons I've learned the hard way . . .

1. Wax paper and parchment paper are not the same thing. I still don't know the difference, but one of them will start on fire if you put it in the oven . . .

2. Stainless steel bowls are metal. You can't put them in the microwave.

3. You have to put a lid on the pan when you make rice. When the instructions say, "cover," that's not just a suggestion.

4. The lid to your glass 9x13 pan is made of plastic. It will melt if you leave it on the pan while cooking in the oven.

5. Spaghetti sauce stains white plastic bowls . . . forever.

6. You can't cut shapes out of Jell-o unless you follow the directions for "jigglers."

7. Never let your ponytail get too close to a KitchenAid mixer in motion . . .

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

23. Read to Your Kids

No one really needs me to tell them this. Everyone knows the benefits of reading to your kids are immense. But these are my life lessons - things that are important to me - and reading to my kids is one of them.

I grew up in a family of readers. My parents modeled it for me well. My dad brought us to the library every Saturday and we'd get stacks of books to read during the week. I read the entire children's historical fiction section of our library before I hit 6th grade. I'm pretty sure we kept that library in business with the fines we accrued, but it was a pivotal part of my childhood.

My parents read to us often. We went through the whole American Girl series (at least the 5 original girls). Their love of reading and their willingness to read to me ignited my passion for books. And it's something I hope to pass on to my kids.

Before I was even pregnant, I start collecting kids' books. It's become a bit of an obsession, and we don't even read 90% of what I've collected because we also frequent the library. But I love having options available. (And I only buy cheap, second-hand books!) I want my kids to grow up surrounded by books and loving them.

Both of my girls went through a phase where they didn't want to sit still long enough to read with me, but they quickly outgrew it and would both spend hours reading with me now if my voice could handle it. Lucy is a reading fanatic and I often have to tell her, "Don't read too much longer. You need to get to sleep." (But I secretly love that she's doing it!)

I've been more lax with reading to Levi - because he's my third and I'm busy . . . and lazy. But he enjoys looking at the pictures and trying to eat the books. I need to be better about making time to read to him. Because even though he's only 8 months old, this is so true:

And this:

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Saturday 7

1. I've started putting away some of the baby stuff - the baby bathtub, the playmats, the rock n' play. - and it's kind of breaking my heart. I really don't think there are any more babies in my future, so it feels so final to be done with the stuff. Watch me be one of those people who gets rid of all the baby stuff and then accidentally gets pregnant when my kids are teenagers. (I wouldn't be crushed. Lol.)

2. I was looking something up in one of my old blog entries this week and came across this, that I wrote two years ago. I was talking about people living in the 1800s.
Part of me wishes I lived back then. People didn't have as much time to think. They were too busy surviving. My washing machine does my laundry, my dishwasher does my dishes, I buy my peaches pre-canned. So I have too much time to think about what a failure I am and how I'm so tired all the time which probably means I have a tumor on my brain. I don't think the women of the 1800s worried about being a bad mom. They worried about keeping their children alive. Maybe I should take up canning . . .[9-27-14]
It's funny that I just had the same realization again recently. I reminded myself of this all week when I was feeling depressed. I kept saying, "Would the pioneers be wallowing like this? No. They would be making soap. Go make some soap." (It wasn't the most helpful pep-talk.)

3. The good news is I did work up the courage to call my doctor this week and she called in a higher dose of my meds for me. So I'm going to be happy and lovin' life again soon - for real this time.

4. I'm getting a little sick of thinking up blog posts for my Write 31 Days series. Fortunately, I only have 9 more days to go. Sorry if the last few are a little lackluster . . . (like this edition of the Saturday 7)

5. We had a little "fall fun day" today with some friends. My dad has a flourishing apple orchard in our backyard, and his own cider press. So today, our friends came over and we picked apples and ran them through the press for some farm-fresh goodness. 

It was too cold for Lena. I don't know how she's going to survive winter.
And of course they had to go for a "wagon" ride. 
6. Ok, I need some advice from my wise and wonderful readers. Lucy has developed a tic over the past month. I thought she'd grow out of it, but it's actually getting worse. She looks up - like she's rolling her eyes - a million times a day. I'm not even sure that's an exaggeration. She does it all.the.time. But in the past few days, she's added something new. Now, she randomly closes her eyes. I can't even describe it. She'll be talking or playing or watching tv and close her eyes for like 5 seconds. She's not falling asleep. She's just closing them out of habit. It is getting so out of control and I don't know what to do with her. I try to tell her to stop every time I catch it, but that hasn't helped. I don't know if the kids at school say anything about it, but that hasn't thwarted her. Her Sunday School teacher asked us about it a couple weeks ago - probably because it looks like she's being a brat by rolling her eyes. But she doesn't do it in response to anything. She just does it because it feels good. The problem is, she comes by it naturally. I actually had some weird eye tics when I was younger, too. I don't remember how I got over it, though. I think I finally just grew out of it. So, the question is - should I wait for her to grow out of it on her own? Do I need to be on her every time I see it? Does she need therapy? Haha. Advice welcome!

7. I shamefully did not take many pictures this week. Here's what I've got:
Levi sitting up like hot stuff with the girls at McDonald's
Lena always wants me to take snapchats of her and send them to people. Haha.
Yesterday, Lucy was at school, Justin took Lena shopping, and Levi and I napped and snuggled in bed all afternoon.
Meme of the week:

22. Don't Find Your Worth in Your Kids

If you're a businessman, your success is measured by how well your business is doing. If you're a teacher, you're judged by your students' test scores. So it makes sense that if you're a mom, your effectiveness is measured by how your kids turn out, right? It's a trap I fall into too often. So when my kids inevitably don't live up to my expectations, I declare myself a failure. 

I am a rule-follower. I read the instructions. I like knowing what's expected of me, meeting expectations, and being rewarded. I was the teacher's pet, straight-A student, goody-two-shoes all through school. It's where I placed my identity. I floundered a bit when school ended for good, but assured myself that I was meant for motherhood and that's where I would shine. Boy, was I wrong. Haha. Over the past 6 years, I've been astounded by my lack of mothering prowess. I expected it all to come naturally to me (like school did). I expected to enjoy every second and reap the rewards of well-behaved, pleasant children. In short, I was arrogant about my perceived abilities. And we all know that "pride cometh before the fall."

My kids are not terrors. They are hilarious, kind, loving, and sweet. But they're also whiny, moody, belligerent, and kind of annoying. It's humbling to realize that I'm not as good as I thought I'd be. And it's more than a little frustrating . . . and embarrassing. But this quote has been a game changer for me:
No child should have to shoulder the weight of her mother's glory and reputation. 
(Gloria Furman, in Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full)
Wow. I am trying so hard to find my identity and worth in my kids' behavior that I'm making them carry the burden of my insecurities. 

I think there's been a shift in our society over the past few years. Stay-at-home-moms are less looked down on, and more lifted up for their tireless, thankless work. There has been an influx of books and articles lately about the high calling of motherhood. I'm thankful that it's being seen in a more positive light, and I don't for one second demean the gravity of our responsibility as moms. But I worry that what was meant to encourage us (Your job does matter! It's the most important job in the world! You are molding and shaping lives - both now and for eternity!) has added an insurmountable amount of pressure. 

And Christian parenting is especially difficult. We're tasked with an overwhelming responsibility to point our kids toward Jesus and lead them to a saving relationship with him. And if, by the grace of God, that does happen, we're then responsible for discipling them and teaching them what it means to be a follower of Christ. It doesn't matter how many Christian parenting books I read. I will never be fully equipped for such a daunting task.

So when my kids are willfully disobedient, when I don't understand in a moment of frustration how to show grace, when I see their sin and my sin and feel helpless to overcome either, I feel that I've not only failed my kids, but I've failed God. He's given me this mission field in my own home, and I'm just messing it up. 

But then, I remember this life-changing quote: I am NOT my child's Holy Spirit. I wish I could remember where I first saw that quote because it has been monumental in my understanding of Christian parenting. I'm s.l.o.w.l.y learning that there is only so much I can do as a parent. I can pray for my kids to know Christ, I can do my absolute best to incorporate him into our daily life, to use everyday instances as teachable moments, to show my faith by example, and to be the love of Jesus to them.  It's still a huge responsibility, but it's not the ultimate responsibility. 

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Again, my pride comes into play. I feel like I am in control of my kids' salvation. It is my job to save them. It's almost like saying, "You can't handle this, God. I'll do it." When the whole point of salvation is to realize our utter dependence on God. Here's another quote from Furman that says it better than I can:
God's sovereign grace releases me from the worry that I'm doing a haphazard job of orchestrating my children's lives for them. The gospel reminds me that a mother's plans are not ultimate: God's are. God is the one who has created these children, and he has far more intentional intentions to glorify himself through these kids than I could ever dream up (93).
In Sally Clarkson's The Mission of Motherhood, she puts it like this: "All that God requires from any of us is a desire to serve him and a trust that he can make up a difference for the things that we lack" (83). I remind myself of this often. I can't be my kids' Holy Spirit. I can do my best and trust God to fill in the rest.

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Knowing this should free me from an identity crisis every time Lena throws herself on the floor in Meijer to throw a tantrum. [I say "should" because I'm still a work in progress in accepting this truth.] My worth is not found in my kids' behavior. My worth is found in the gospel of grace that allows me to be called God's child. 

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Romans 8:38-39 says, "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation [including my rebellious children], will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

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Friday, October 21, 2016

21. How to Fight Depression

I told Justin last night, “Make me call the doctor tomorrow. My depression is not getting better on my new meds. Right now I feel terrible. Tomorrow morning I'll feel better and put off calling the doctor again.”

Since the meds haven't been working, I've been relying on some of my old methods of dispelling depression. None of these works 100% of the time (or I wouldn't need the drugs!), but I've had varying degrees of success with each at some time or another.

1. Loud music. My genre of choice is worship music. There's nothing quite like belting out praise songs when I'm stuck in a depressed fog. (Check out my favorite worship songs here.)

2. Escapism. This probably isn't a healthy way to cope, but it tends to be effective. I get out of my head by getting into a good book. 

When in pain, distract the brain
3. Get out of the house. Maybe this only applies to me because I'm a stay at home mom, but it's too easy to wallow if I just sit at home. Going somewhere – anywhere – almost always lifts the spirits. Some of my favorite places are the library and thrift stores. If it's nice we go to the park or find a pool to hang out at. This is one of the reasons winter wreaks havoc on my depression. I'm stuck at home in my doldrums.

4. Projects. This is probably a personality thing, but I love organizing and de-cluttering. Sometimes, when I get in a funk, all I need is a good project to do – purging toy boxes, re-arranging furniture, organizing my craft closet. It helps so much to engage my mind and be productive all at the same time!

5. Angry clean. This is a combination of a couple of the above. Sometimes I turn on my music really loud (country music is the best for cleaning) and start scrubbing things. I don't know why it works. Something about releasing pent up tension, I guess.

6. Read/Pray the Psalms. David was depressed a lot. I search for verses about seeking joy and pray them for myself.

Psalm 5:11 “But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy.”
Jesus help me to find my refuge in you. Enable me to rejoice and sing for joy.

Psalm 19:7a “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.”
Lord, use your word to revive my soul.

Psalm 19:8a “The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”
Let me love your word so much that it causes my heart to rejoice.

Psalm 31:7 “I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul.”
God, I don't have nearly the amount of distress David did, but you see me just the same. Thank you that you know me and you're here with me. Let the knowledge of your love fill me with joy.”

Psalm 33:21 “For our heart is glad in him because we trust in his holy name.”
Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
Psalm 38:9 “O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you.”
Psalm 40:16 “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you”
Psalm 42:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.”
Psalm 51:12 “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Psalm 55:22a “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you . . .”
Psalm 70:4a “May all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you!”
Psalm 90:14 “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”
Psalm 105:3b “let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!”

See also: all of Psalm 13

7. Sleep. If all else fails just shut out the world and go to sleep. I usually feel better when I wake up.

I've heard people say that exercise relieves depression. I wouldn't know about that. I just get more depressed when I exercise because I'm reminded of how out of shape I am. Haha. What say you? Any other great ideas I'm missing?

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

20. Just Be Who You Are

This one is kind of stupid. It sounds like something you'd hear on Barney, but the older I get, the more I see its value.

At some point, I decided to stop apologizing for who I am and just embrace it. Let me give you some examples.

1. I let my kids watch TV. Lots of it. They learn stuff from it. I get things done. I sit on my couch scrolling through facebook. It works for us.

2. I eat sugar (and so do my kids). Life is too short to eat leaves and twigs all the time.

3. I like social media. I'm not one of those people who feels "so refreshed" after a facebook hiatus.

4. I read what I like - which happens to be Christian fiction. Yes, some of it is cheesy. But a lot of it is very well written without the smut of secular fiction.

5. I grew up sheltered and I'm sheltering my kids. (Romans 16:19)

6. I'm a little chubby. But I get to eat donuts.

7. I don't get drunk. I feel like progressive Christians think this is one of those Biblical commands you can toss out the window. I'm not one of them.

8. I don't handle criticism well. I wish I did, but I'm way too sensitive.

9. I loved my epidurals.

10. I'm a terrible housekeeper and a terrible cook.

11. I'm socially awkward. It's time to stop trying to fight it and just admit it.

12. I'm on meds for my anxiety and depression.

13. I don't understand how to reconcile God's sovereignty with my prayer life.

14. I don't like animals.

15. I hate talking on the phone.

16. I love fast food and chain restaurants.

17. I hate losing games and have been known to throw my cards down on the table in anger.

18. I will defeat you in word games.

19.  I don't like the outdoors.

20. I'm scared of bears.

21. I don't exercise.

22. I'm book-smart, not street-smart.

23. I don't DIY. That's why there are stores.

24. I'm a one-issue voter.

25. I'm an open book about everything and love blogging.

I'm all for personal growth, and maybe someday these things will change about me. But for now, I'm learning just to accept who I am and quit trying to be someone else!

To see more from my Write 31 Days series, click the image below:

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