Advent Begins…

Advent 1

Each year when December 1st rolls around life feels like it’s spiraling out of control! Satan kicks it into high gear to shift our family’s focus from the one thing we should focus on, Christ. Now, he does this all time, but when the world is throwing commercials of all the toys and things you NEED to have, or sale events making you think that you have to spend more money to get the right deal, it all just becomes too much.

It’s almost a crushing feeling. The years this feeling has become less crushing. When our oldest son was just three and a half years old, we decided that we need things to change. Our second son would growing up to a normal, while our oldest would barely remember the shift. Five years in the making, we have transformed Christmas to be about the root of our lives, Christ. Santa would take a back seat, and everyday we make a choice to focus on Him. Really the first year we began this Advent celebration, it shaped our everyday lives. It wasn’t that we didn’t focus on Christ before this everyday, but being so deliberate, so intent on making Him known in our home every moment we can.

Being a Christian is our identity. So, He engulfs everything that we do.

With that, our first day we are reminded that He is the LIGHT of the WORLD. Truth in the Tinsel is a wonderfully fun way to incorporate crafts with the truth of the Gospel.

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However, this is just a small part of what we do. It starts our day off in a great direction. We get to go beyond devotional time, and craft something that glorify God.

I love seeing their dedication to making the best ornament to represent this characteristic of God. He is LIGHT to a dark world. He is TRUTH. He is FOR everyone!

When we began this journey (four years ago), we started with Ann Voskamp’s Jesse Tree Journey Devotional. So much has developed with her ministry in the past two years, and we have been so blessed to be apart of it from our home. This past year, she created a new Jesse Tree devotional, and we began that last night. My heart was incredibly full reading the scripture, the devotional, and starting our prayer list.

The prayer list was something new, and it was incredibly beautiful. I have found that many of the most exposing times with our boys has been when we pray together. It just exposes the essence of their hearts.  Our shift of focus on Him and others happens. We strip to our bare souls letting Him in. It just makes our tree adorned with Scripture and our candles being lit out of rememberance for Him lift our crushing burdens. Out of the stump of Jesse comes hope! The hope of a Savior!

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Each day lights the path to His birth.

So, when you think you need more, or that you just didn’t get enough. Remember His hope, it is all you need, and it is enough!

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Just Breathe…

My Beautiful Mess

Do you ever just have to stop yourself and just breathe? I find myself doing that A LOT lately. I feel like I forget to breathe even though my body is clearly doing it on its’ own. I sit in the bed waiting to produce mother’s milk for my third son, and I just close my eyes and make a deliberate attempt to just breathe.

The past few weeks have been so difficult with my beautiful baby. We have been through a nursing strike, migraines, and now teething. The days are long and the nights oh so short. Each day so different from the next, I don’t know what to really expect, need, or want with the day. I fight exhaustion, temper tantrums, and force myself into “time-out” when I just want to scream at my second son who barges into his brother’s room while he sleeps.

I stop and just breathe…

He won’t sit in his swing; he won’t sleep in his crib. All he wants is the smell and softness of me.

10492147_10101188993125424_1386489153038291527_nI think to myself what can I really offer him? I am painfully human. A mother so easily frazzled, and yet… he wants me.

HE wants me. My Heavenly Father wants me.

I close my eyes… just breathe… hardened knees, red eyes, begging my Daddy to just hold me… and He does.

Deep breath and I feel my lungs fill with fresh oxygen, my heart lifting heavily and then lowering lighter. God, so intricately, created us in His image. He beats our heart, fills our lungs, and engulfs our very souls. He cuts out our sin, and heals it with His goodness.

What do I have to offer Him?  I am painfully human. A sinner so frazzled with this life, and yet… HE wants me. He doesn’t need me, yet HE wants me!

It is the very definition of grace. He wants me to give it all to Him no matter the problem. And so… I just breathe, imagine His arms wrapped around me, breathing in His smell, leaning into His softness, and wanting just Him.

And so I sit, accepting all that He has to offer me and just breathe.

Motherhood with Hagar and Sarah

Hagar and Sarah

Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. She had a female Egyptian servant whose name was Hagar…. And when she [Sarai] saw that she [Hagar] had conceived, she [Sarai] looked with contempt on her mistress. Gen. 16:1, 4b Emphasis added

It’s Monday afternoon, and I have been snuggling with a teething cranky baby boy. Today’s Moms in the Bible is a 2-in-1 post. It would be fine to separate these women into two posts, but they were such an intricate part of each other’s lives that I don’t want to pull them apart. They are the very example of what we as women do to each other in this world, today.

Sarai better known as Sarah is married to Abram who becomes Abraham after God makes a convenient with him (Gen 17). We are told earlier that Sarah is a very beautiful woman, she submits to her husband and (on more than one occasion) pretends to be his sister to protect Abram from assumed death. Sarah becomes the wife of the Egyptian Pharaoh (Gen 12). I will admit that Abraham is not one of my favorite men in the Bible because that award would go to his grandson, but more of that when we get to his wives. Just like Adam, Abraham is a man that throws his woman into a situation that she should have been protected from. You’ve got Adam sitting idly by as he watched his wife bring death to the world, and now Abraham throws his wife into the arms of another man.

As I write that last sentence, it would make sense for Sarah to feel she can do the same to him with Hagar. It feels like a viable option for her because if she can sleep with another man to keep her husband safe then she can make him sleep with Hagar to get a child that she so desperately wants. The reality is that when we don’t follow the will of God and we try to make our own plan, we must live with that choice. For Sarah, she becomes jealous and wants to blame her husband for the way she is feeling. She feels that her servant thinks she is entitled and better than her. I mean, why wouldn’t Hagar think she is entitled to be loved the way a pregnant wife should be loved? Why shouldn’t she and her unborn son be cared for by her husband and his father? The reality in this is that marriage was designed to be between one man and one woman. Sarah, Abraham, and Hagar are just one example of how the family gets jumbled up from our own sin and selfishness.

Hagar must deal with a jealous boss/sister wife (that’s what they call in today’s world, right?) and an unloving spouse who allows the boss to treat her harshly. Sarah treats Hagar harshly for something she orchestrated. She abuses a pregnant Hagar to point that she runs away in fear, and the interesting thing about this is that we are only setting the stage for their role as mothers. Well, Hagar is already mom since she’s pregnant, but you see where I’m going with Sarah’s behavior.

Hagar experiences motherhood first when she gives birth to Ishmael when Abraham is 86. She witnesses God working through Abraham, deals with whatever behavior Sarah throws at her, and Ishmael sees all of this, too. Hagar lives seeing her son being circumcised at age 13 and her husband 99. And then God fulfills His promise to Sarah and give her Isaac. I can’t imagine what it was like to see a father treat one son better than the other. I can’t imagine what it would be like for my son’s father to pack up food and a few belongings to send us away… for good.
Hagar was definitely not perfect, but after years of abuse under the hand of Sarah with the approval of Abraham her life must have been one of bitterness, pride (for boring a son), and anger. It was because of these things that made Sarah send her away.

She mothered through so much, and then almost witnesses her son die before her eyes. She cries out to God and He saves them. Could you see your life going like this: servant to Abraham/Sarah, marry Abraham, have his first son, be abused by husband’s other wife, be forced out of your home into the wilderness, and then think that your son is going to die right before your eyes because of a whole situation you had no control over…

What a life.

But God gave her so much more after this. She grew to see Ishmael grow a great nation, become an expert archer, and help her son find a wife.

Wow…

Then Sarah endures infertility, jealousy, rage, jealousy (again), until God makes her laugh at the thought of her having a son at close to 100 years old. What’s really interesting about her story is that life didn’t go so easily for her after having Isaac. She witnesses the demise of Sodom, and she meets Jesus (who do you think that third guy was in her tent telling her about conceiving?).  Crazy!

BUT I’m leaving something out though. Sarah finds out that Abraham was planning to make Isaac a sacrifice for the Lord. Her one and only son was going to be killed by her husband… We know that this doesn’t happen because… well, there is only one true and holy sacrifice and it wasn’t Isaac.

She dies at the age of 127. She never gets to see Isaac marry and have his children.

I think about the mothering of these two women. They are not different us. They both try to do what is best for their sons, and almost see them die. Instead of clinging to each other as sisters, as two women just trying to do the best they can, they turn against each other. I see this today in the church and in the world (another post for another day). These two endured so much in their lives as women and mothers. It must have been even harder fighting against each other and enduring it all alone.

God’s Regret – Response to Naamah’s post

Regret

“The Earth is full of corruption, and God is becoming increasingly angry with humans to the point that He actually regretted making us (them), and He was grieved (Gen 6:6). Which means that God was in pain, He was mourning over the sin that the people were committing. He saw the intentions of their hearts were evil (Gen 6:5).”

This statement is bold: God regretted making man. It is true. We see it in Genesis 6:6, and it is what ignited the flood. Here is what other translations say:

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and the greek word for regret and its’ meaning is:

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God was sorry that he made man and was consoling Himself. What is really beautiful about this is that we are made in the image of God. When Jesus tells us that He understands everything about us. He does, even regret. What’s even better is the fact that God still forgives, He shows mercy (Noah and family), He still promises, and He still loves us. He still followed His plan to send Jesus to save us from our wickedness fully knowing that so many of His creations would deny Him. I am grateful that God is not fair because if He were, we would all be destined to eternity in Hell.

So, don’t lose heart thinking God regretted making man because in the end he still loves us beyond that. He sent His Son, to live, to die, and to rise! Wow!

Motherhood with Naamah (also known as Emzara)

Naamah

“And Noah and his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives with him went into the ark to escape the waters of the flood.” Gen 7:7

We come into life after the fall. We are given a long list of descendants of Adam from his son, Seth. The Earth is full of corruption, and God is becoming increasingly angry with humans to the point that He actually regretted making us (them), and He was grieved (Gen 6:6). Which means that God was in pain, He was mourning over the sin that the people were committing. He saw the intentions of their hearts were evil (Gen 6:5). However, there was one man that God found favor in, Noah. We are told in Gen 6:9 that Noah was righteous, blameless, and walked with God. Now, I haven’t watched that new Russell Crowe flick about this guy, but something tells me Noah may not have been portrayed the way scripture states. He was righteous. To be righteous is to be morally upright; without guilt or sin (today’s definition). Now, we know that the only person that ever lived a sinless life was Jesus Christ. God would be saying that Noah was upright morally.

There’s the setting. Naamah is married to the last righteous man on the planet! She is never named in scripture, but just known as Noah’s wife. Can I just say that had to be truly intimidating?! I mean, God blesses you with the one man that is living a life that is pleasing to the Lord. You are close to 500 years old, and you are seeing women being abused by the Nephilim. She is the mother to three boys. Momma Naamah and I have this in common (along with having Godly husbands). Three sons that are seeing manhandling women is okay, yet seeing a father that is completely against all the sinful acts they are witnessing.

It makes me think about the song, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see… what you hear…” She and Noah really had their work cut out for them raising children in a world that HAD NO OTHER RIGHTEOUS PEOPLE!

Wow, soak that in for a minute. We left off with Eve being the first to endure motherhood, the death of a child, and witness her curse played out. Now, we have Naamah. She doesn’t have a John Piper, Billy Graham, Charles Spurgeon, or Francis Chan to show as examples to her boys. She has Noah, only Noah. A father who leads by example while all the others do the opposite. He has no other men to help support his teachings. I say this not to downplay Noah, but I am so grateful to have the teachings of the men above to help my husband and I when we aren’t sure how to handle certain things. Noah and Naamah did have something awesome though. They had God directly talking to Noah.

But let’s be honest, Naamah is the man… I mean woman!

She follows her husband.

She submits to what he tells her God wants him to do.

She had to listen to people discrediting her husband.

She most likely had to defend his actions to her three sons and their three wives.

She helps gather food, animals, and supplies to make this huge ark.

She goes, lives in the ark, and stays in the ark for over 190 days…

As a mom who stays at home and homeschools 2 (soon-to-be 3) boys, I am blown away by this. Eight sinners stuck on a huge boat together with no one to leave for over 190 days. On top of that keeping animals fed, clean, and safe in such confines… *mind blown* I am a mom with 4 other sinners in our house, with one dog, a fish, a rabbit, thousands of mosquitoes (just kidding)… I don’t even compare to this lady’s hardship.

She witnesses God’s promise shown in the rainbow, and what a sight that must have been!

She endures Ham’s curse for his sin against her husband. Above all, Naamah gets to see her husband lead, fulfill God’s plan, worship God with the building of the altar, and watch as the Earth is repopulated with her grandchildren.

Naamah, you aren’t spoken of in this story known by so many, but something tells me that if you would have fought against your husband (Lot’s wife ring a bell) we would have been told. So, hats-off to you for trusting God and your husband after never knowing what rain or flood would look like, building an object that you have never seen, and teaching boys the truths of God to carry on that lineage.

You had to endure a husband, three sons, three daughter-in-laws, hundreds of animals, rain, while rocking in a smelly boat. You may have just been a superhero! Just maybe.

Motherhood with Eve

Eve

“In the Beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Gen 1:1-2

There was nothing. God created the entire world with what He wanted it to be and look like. In this world He created man and woman. Have you ever wondered how to do something? In today’s world, we get on the internet and search for people who can tell us the answer or point us to the right direction. When we think about motherhood and pregnancy we turn to books like “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” We turn from page to page only to realize that their is no textbook answer to pregnancy woes. Each woman is different having picture perfect pregnancies to “I have every symptom in the book” pregnancies. After we have our children, we then wonder what we are doing wrong (or right). Why is little Johnny doing this and not that? Should he be rolling over by now? Is he sleeping enough, eating enough, doing enough? The questions never end.

I say all of this because if there is one mom in scripture that I have the most questions for it is Eve. The reality is this woman had NO example to look to. She sinned. God punished her. As Gen 3:16a tells us, “I (God) will surely multiply your pain in children bearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.”

Here are the thoughts that go into my head as I piece this together:
1) Adam and Eve had NO idea being naked was wrong.
2) Did she even know how a baby was created?
3) How would she know how this kid was going to exit her body?
4) Did her body give her hints early on that she would be the one to feed her children until they could eat the crops they grew and game they killed?
5) How do you raise children when you have NO example of a mother?

Now, I understand that God would be an example to her. He showed them love, punishment, and grace. We know that Adam and Eve had Cain, Abel, Seth, and many other sons and daughters. Adam lived to be 930 years old (Gen 4:4).
Facts on this:
1) Cain kills Abel. A mother lives through being the first sinner, being the first mother, and now seeing one of her sons kill his brother.
2) Seth is son that God appoints.
3) Eve is beyond “19 Kids and Counting,” if you catch my drift.

For roughly 900 years, Eve has children upon children. She experiences every type of pregnancy there can be, and lives to see many things that her children will do. I’ve had three children, two of them with nothing to help really relieve the pain. I’m not sure how Eve did it that many times. I don’t feel it is a pain that you ever get used to. She and Adam teach their children to call upon the Lord (Gen 4:26). The thing is that we know that with the fall of the man, she must witness them do the very thing God was trying to protect them from doing, sinning.

Eve was the first mom in the world. When people talk about their favorite mom in the Bible they are quick to say Hannah or Mary. However, we forget this beautiful woman. The first and only one to actually come from her husband. She would be punished to want to rule over him though that was not God’s will, and she would have to watch the children she bore live in sin because of her faithlessness. Where is the grace in all this? God allowed her to see Seth. He let her know that Seth would bring about THE lineage of God’s ultimate plan.

I can’t imagine doing this motherhood thing without the example I have seen from my mother and other Christian women much less experiencing pregnancy and birth with no knowledge of what was going to really happen. Eve, you are forgotten a lot because there are mom like Hannah in the Bible, but lady you shouldn’t be forgotten. You bore the pain of much more than I will ever experience. We don’t know how your story continues or ends, but I hope that it was one that gained faith in the God that created you to honor Him. The heart ache and pain of sin, murder, and just living after your failures I hope you found peace in all of it. I hope you counted it all as joy!

The New Normal

Moms of the Bible

A long hiatus from blogging continues with our family expanding from four to five. God graciously gave us a beautiful surprise in Brother. Just when my husband (the YP), and I thought we were content with just Light and Hollow, God brings us our third son. I must say that our life is much more complete with him in it.

As the YP is gone for a summer camp, I sit at home alone with the three boys thinking about motherhood at it’s core. It has made me think about what we have as examples (good or bad) in the Bible. I want to dedicate a few months on this thought.

When we posed with the question, “Who is your favorite mom in the Bible?” Who would you say? I want to explore these moms and get a better understanding of their mothering and their situations.

And so I begin… Moms in the Bible… stay tuned…