Get Up

Something happened the other night that doesn’t happen often: my three year old woke up to go to the bathroom.
This doesn’t happen often for two reasons. One, she sleeps like a rock, and usually only wakes up when she is sick. Two, she wears a pull-up to bed and therefore doesn’t wake up to use the toilet.
She did wake up though, and she DID use the toilet.
She was not sick, and was in fact happy to go back to bed, snuggle up with her blankie and roll over to sleep.

Except for the second thing that happened that doesn’t happen that often: my three year old didn’t sleep.
For whatever reason, she could not settle down, and she could not go back to sleep. Being a three year old, she did the only thing she could do. She cried for her Mama, for me.

The result was that I was up with her, getting in and out of my bed, and down to her little bed that nearly touches the floor. Every time I thought I had settled her down, I would get back in my own bed, and pray. I’d pray that God would settler her heart, mind, and body down, that his grace would extend to her, that his grace would keep her siblings (who share the room with her) asleep, that his grace would get us all back to sleep.
“God give her the grace to sleep” I sighed the fourth time I heaved myself out of bed, and went to wipe her tears and kiss her forehead.

Oh, did I mention that I’m currently seven months pregnant? Factor that into your mental image of me getting up and down in the middle of the night. I didn’t just want her to sleep. I wanted to sleep too!

Finally, I grabbed a pillow, and headed back to my daughter’s side. This time, I had given up, and do the thing I rarely do, actually lay down with her in her own bed, hoping against hope that Mama being with her would calm her down.
As I lay down, trying to get as comfortable as possible on her much thinner mattress, the very words of my own prayer came into my mind.
“I am the grace she needs to sleep.”

I smiled into the darkness, and kissed my little girl. She put her hand on my belly, rubbed it, then cuddled herself as close as she could get to me with that belly in the way.
I had been praying for God to be my magic sleep potion for my child, and myself. I had been praying for God to do the work that he was calling me to do as my child’s parent.
I prayed for the grace my child needed to sleep. And God answered my prayer, he gave her me.

How often does this happen and I’m too blind in my own selfishness to see it? How often do I just want my kids to be good, or be quiet, or get along for ten seconds without me doing anything?
How often do I want God to parent my kids, but I don’t want to do any parenting?

God blessed me and my husband with these kids. We purposely had all these kids. Yes, intentionally, on purpose, all four of them. We prayed with desperate tears for this fourth child still growing within me. This fourth child is our “rainbow baby”. This pregnancy has been difficult, and scary.
Yet, it’s a blessing. The pregnancy and the baby.

I’m thankful for that sleepless night. I’m thankful for the rough few days that followed because Mama was tired. I’m thankful for what those difficulties – self inflicted to an extent – exposed in me: selfishness.
Parenting has a way of breaking you down as a parent and exposing sin in you that you would have sworn up and down you didn’t have. Mine is selfishness, and anger. These few days of little sleep, on top of regular third trimester tiredness, and typical childhood folly have really shown that to me.

So, my prayers are changing.
I’m still praying that God would give my family grace, but specifically, I pray that he would give me grace. The grace to get up, in the middle of the night, in the middle of a podcast, in the middle of a sibling fight, in the middle of a really uncomfortable Braxton Hicks cramp. I need the grace to get up out of my comfort zone, to stop yelling from across the room, and to image God to them by being the grace my kids need.
God wants to give my kids grace, I can see that. More importantly, I see how he wants to give it to them, and it’s through me.

Fun fact. My name, Anna, means Grace.
🙂

Soli Deo Gloria

Patience? Ain’t nobody got time for that!

During this season of mothering littles, I find my number one prayer request being “that I would be more patient with my children”.

Man, I love my kids, and they never stop. I think the constant motion is pretty standard for littles, but it’s exhausting!
My youngest is still in diapers, and doesn’t have all her teeth in yet.
My middle has colossal meltdowns where no one but Daddy can calm her. My oldest is turning five at the end of the summer and will start kindergarten in the fall. I have a whole new set of things to think about! Have I prepared him enough? Does he know enough to be independent at school? Will he be kind to others? Will he listen to and obey his teachers? Will he get teased? Will he get in trouble?

My worries for my oldest, have often turned normal parenting moments into this “do or die” test, to see if he is really ready for school. Many days, my patience is gone before I even wake up, because I’ve lost sleep worrying.

But, God calls me to be patient.
Actually, He calls all believers to be patient, not just the “extra holy ones”. Patience is a characteristic of God we are called to have ourselves as his children. It is one of the many ways we image our heavenly Father to a broken world. This world has no patience.

So what is it? What is biblical patience?

Well first, let me tell you what it is not: patience is the not the same as waiting.

I don’t know why we think just waiting this is “good enough”. When we think about it, the act of waiting cannot be the same as patience, it just doesn’t make sense. I mean, have you ever seen a someone wait impatiently? Therefor, waiting cannot be what patience is.

Biblical patience is this: a Godly attitude towards circumstances and people, which is founded in and completely resting in God.
It’s an attitude of trust.
Why do I struggle with being patient with my kids? Because I am not trusting God. How did I diagnose that? Because I am worried.
More often than not, my attitude of anxiety has replaced the God-trusting attitude of patience.

When I get off, I need more of God, I need his word.
God’s word is our living water, our primary cause for heart change, and our gauge for our lives.
Here are some passages I found to do a quick study on what practicing biblical patience looks like:

Psalm 37:7
Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
    fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
    over the man who carries out evil devices!

Practicing biblical patience means not worrying about circumstances or even about evil people, but focuses on the LORD, rests in God’s goodness, in God’s good promises. Therefore, we can be still before him, and wait patiently for him.

1 Corinthians 13:4
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant

Practicing biblical patience shows up in how we love others. See all the “not”s that follow? All three are me-focused. Therefore, a love that is patient and kind is others centered, it is God’s-will centered.

2 Corinthians 1:6
If we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; and if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which you experience when you patiently endure the same sufferings that we suffer.

Practicing biblical patience is playing a long game, an eternal game. It is seeing our world for what it is, temporary, not our true home, knowing that the relatively brief pains now pale in comparison to a joy-filled forever after.

1 Thessalonians 5:14
And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all.

Practicing biblical patience is remembering that those around us have an eternity ahead of them too. Dealing with others with patience infused love, focused on their good, not your own desires, or schedule.

How can we possibly do this? (That’s what I’m thinking, I’m sure at least some of you are thinking the same thing!) I lose my patience with my family all the time.

Here’s the progression: our love is shaped by our attitude of patience, which is caused and motivated by our remembrance of who God is and what he’s done for us. It’s all about perspective, and our perspective needs to stay fixed on God or we will get off track. On our own, we could never do it, but because God was gracious, loving, and patient with us first, and continues to be everyday of our lives, we can refocus our perspective, readjust our attitude, and restart our actions in a way that glorifies him.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What I’m filling up with

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a bit drained these days.
Turns out, even introverts need people!

My husband is home, and thankfully is still working. It’s a tricky situation in our little house, but we have found a sort of groove with it, and the kids have adapted.
What has been the hardest is being home, inside, and away from family. It’s especially hard on my kids, which breaks my heart.

This new isn’t normal. This will change, but we don’t know when, and man can these days feel long.
So, what do we do?

Fill up! and fill up with truth.

Here’s what I’m doing to help fill me up, and maybe it will inspire you to fill up too: (the first one daily, but the others are scattered throughout the week pretty much)

  1. Bible – There is no way I, or you, or anyone on the planet who can make it through life, much less through stress, suffering, change, hurt, brokenness, without God’s Word. (I’m currently reading through Exodus, and seeing how God provided for his people is amazing, even through the law!)
  2. Sufficient Hope: Meditations and Prayers for Moms by Christina Fox – Having a solid, bible central devotion has helped me immensely. This book is perfect because it’s relatively short, full of scripture, has questions at the end, and has a prayer written out at the end of each little chapter. The prayers are my favorite, because they are so solid, often praying the words of scripture, and give me words to pray when I’m out.
  3. Friend-ish: Reclaiming Real Friendship in a Culture of Confusion by Kelly Needham – Maybe an odd choice for being secluded away from friends, but man has this time also revealed some of the idols that have crept up in my heart, especially in the area of friendship. This has been a very convicting, and comforting book always pointing to the truth.
  4. Risen Motherhood Podcast – Hands down, my favorite podcast. No matter what, these ladies are always pointing to the truth of the gospel, from make up, to marriage, to parenting, and everything in between that falls into the realm of motherhood. Go listen. So good. The resources page on their website is also fantastic.
  5. Journey Women Podcast – In the same idea and purpose as Risen Motherhood, but aimed at young(er) women. Topic and interviews to encourage and point women to God in our journey through life.
  6. Foundations Podcast with Ruth and Troy Simons – This is centered on biblical parenting, and I have just started listening to this with my family (husband and kids).
  7. Biblicaltraining.org – I’ve listened to a few good classes and seminars for free on this site. I love learning and this free resource is great for that. They also have some certificates you can earn (these are not free).
  8. “Marks of a Healthy Church”, teaching series by Ligonier Ministries – This has been a balm to my soul, though I’m missing my church soooooo much right now, I’m enjoying this series about church. Ligonier Ministries also has a ton of other free teaching series, and other resources too.
  9. Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones – This is what I have been reading to my children everyday at lunch time, and they remind me when I miss! They are into this routine of ours. Their little hearts are anxious and scared in this time too, recounting promises, hope, and truth of Jesus is just what they need now, and all the time! It helps Mommy’s heart too 🙂
  10. Any/all music by Keith and Kristyn Getty and/or City Alight – definitely favorites right now for our whole family.

There you have it!
I’m also reading some fiction for book club, an audio book for fun, and have at least three more books I’ve started, and set down for now. Trying to be better about finishing what I begin. 🙂
What are you filling up with?

Soli Deo Gloria!

But I want it…

Daughter: “Mooooooom! She has my bear!”
Me: “Were you playing with it?”
Daughter: “Nooooo, but it’s mine.”
Me: “Well, since your sister didn’t take it from you, and you really weren’t playing with it, I think you can wait until she’s finished playing with it.”
Daughter: “But I waaaaant it…”

How many times have I had this conversation? Countless.
How many times will I have this conversation in the future? Countless more.
When will my children out grow this phase of selfishness, control seeking, and greed? Never, and honestly I haven’t ‘out grown it’ either.
Nobody has, nobody will, because it’s not a phase.

It’s not a behavior issue. It’s not a childhood issue.
It’s a heart issue. It’s a humanity issue.

As adults we are a little bit more sneaky about it. We want, typically, good things.
We want things to go well. We want to be secure. We want things just so. We want time to do what makes us feel good, look attractive, feel accomplished, appear intelligent.
We want to be in charge. We want control.

Here’s the problem, we want what we want no matter what.

My daughter is not as sophisticated as I am, so she readily admits: I want it, and I don’t care about anything, or anyone else.
As adults, we would never say that out loud! Maybe not even in our heads…
But that is the reality of our hearts.

How do you check this?
For, as Jeremiah says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Here’s some ideas of how to check your heart:
What makes you upset? What ruffles your feathers? What makes you anxious?

Our hearts are deceptive even to us!
The problem arises when the good thing we want becomes, as Paul David Tripp says, “a ruling thing”.
When you want that thing more than you want to be in God’s word, serve his people, and come before the throne of grace in prayer; more than you want Him, you’re heart is in the wrong place.

God must be first.

Here’s the other deceptive part. We think we can do Jesus plus ____________.

God is exclusive. He does not tolerate sharing first place in our lives. He is not neutral, it’s all or nothing. We either give him all the glory, all our control, all our desires, all our work, all our everything, or we are giving it to something else.

How can a loving God be so greedy, jealous, selfish even?
That’s what we think, but here’s the deal, it’s not ours to begin with. Everything belongs to God, our lives, our stuff, our family, all of the universe belongs to him. More than that, in our sin, we were dead, and separated from God. Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for us on the cross gave us what we did not have: life.
Everything we have is from God, any sense of selfishness, need to control, or greed simply does not make sense!

As believers we do not have to be trapped in the deception of our own hearts. We are free from that! We still must fight as long as we are in these sin riddled, broken bodies, but we are not enslaved to sin any longer. Our victory is not realized yet, but it is assured, achieved, and indeed “finished”.

We are well equipped to fight, with the Holy Spirit in our hearts, the very Words of God in the Bible, our lifeline, and intimate communication of prayer, and our fellow soldiers in our local churches, our band of brothers and sisters.

I encourage you, as I encourage, exhort, and instruct my own heart, and my children’s hearts. Fight the good fight.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Help! My little girls have hair like mine, and I don't know what to do!

That title is not a tease, it’s true. I have thick, straight hair. My two girls, have (so far) thick, straight hair. Although one is a blondie and one a redhead, their hair is just like mine, and in the winter, that means knots and static. Endless knots and static!

All the blurry pictures… It’s like a requirement at this age 🙂

You’d think that me having my hair this way, I would have figured it out by now, I am 28 years old. Come on!
But actually, I know all the problems with my hair, not really any solutions.
I’m not a “do up my hair everyday” kind of person, honestly, I never even use my blow dryer. Air dry, brush, have a hair tie handy just in case, and done…

Now, curly hair, I got that in the bag. (I hope my youngest has curly hair, she’s still little enough that it could happen!)
Odd, I know, but here’s why:

Yes, this is my sister. No, we don’t look much a like, but we are related, I promise.
Oh, and my kids call her Tante (German for ‘aunt’), and it makes me so happy that they do!

This is my sister. I have spent hours doing her hair, figuring out what works and what doesn’t, and we chat about her hair all the time (not mine, there’s nothing to say!).

Ok, I’ve got to give myself a little credit, I’ve learned a lot the past few years. Like the magic of a headband on an almost bald baby.
What clips are good at keeping fly aways, well, away!
What thickness of hair tie works for my girls, and since they are like me, we moved pasted the little tiny plastic kind a while ago.

Maybe it’s just general ineptitude I feel, as a parent in general?
Any other parents feel that way? Like someone has placed you in charge of these little people to teach and train, but you feel like you are the very last person who should be in charge? I still need help! I still need my mom!
But maybe that’s the point, for us to see we cant, that we do need help.

Hairstyles to the glory of God! Who knew 🙂

Soli Deo Gloria