Sunday, December 30, 2012

To Seek And To Save The Lost

Mommy-hood. Daily life. Change Samantha's diaper. Help Jennifer with the potty. Make sure Elizabeth goes potty. Carry Samantha and basket of dirty laundry down the stairs while Jennifer and Elizabeth slowly walk down crying the whole way for me to carry them. Get plates out of the cabinet. Open a package of poptarts. Break Jennifer's poptart into 4 pieces. Break Elizabeth's poptart into 2 pieces. Make a bottle for Samantha. Pour oats and yogurt into a bowl and mix. Get reminded 40 million times that Elizabeth and Jennifer need a drink. Finally pour 2 sippy cups of milk. Feed oatmeal/yogurt to Samantha stopping every couple of bites for her to drink more of her bottle and me to sneak in a few bites of my own poptart. Clean up breakfast. Send the girls to play in the living room. Unload the dishwasher. Re-load the dishwasher. Get clothes out of the dryer. Switch clothes from the washer to the dryer. Start another load in the washer. Carry the clean clothes to the couch and fold. Send the older two girls upstairs. Straighten up the toys in the living room. Carry Samantha and the laundry basket of clean, folded laundry upstairs. Take the basket of laundry to my room and Samantha to the girls' room. Set up the baby gate at the top of the stairs so Samantha "doesn't fall down and die". Put my contacts in and brush my teeth. Straighten my bathroom. Make my bed and straighten my room. Put away clean laundry. Break up fights between the girls. Kiss boo-boos. Dress baby dolls. Eat a pretend breakfast 15 times. Straighten girls' rooms as much as possible with them playing in them. Make their beds. Welcome Chase home. Make his sandwiches. Pour him a glass of tea. Make PB&J for all 3 girls. Pour 2 sippy cups of milk and make a bottle. Get clean clothes out of dryer and carry to the living room. Switch clothes from the washer to the dryer. Clean up Chase's dishes. Clean up girls' lunch. Send them to the living room to play. Make my lunch. Eat and fold clothes while trying to keep noise level down so Chase can get a few minutes of sleep before going back to work. Chase goes back to work while we stand on the sidewalk and wave until he can't see us anymore. Corral all three girls back in the house. Carry Samantha up to her bed for a nap while the older two trail behind crying "I'm not tired!" Get all three girls in their own beds. Samantha falls asleep on her own. Hold Jennifer's hand until she falls asleep. Lay down next to Elizabeth until she falls asleep. Shower and get myself cleaned up. Lay down for about an hour until the girls wake up. Snack time for the girls. Convince them that animal crackers are just as good as vanilla wafers while trying to stop the tears of disappointment over a snack they "don't like"! Pour 2 sippy cups of milk and make a bottle. Convince Samantha that half a bag of marshmallows is definitely considered more than a snack and try to stop her tears of disappointment that snack time is over. Fold the clothes in the dryer while girls play downstairs. Put away laundry and straighten up toys upstairs. Make dinner while Samantha crawls around under my feet and the other two climb on the table and chairs (and counters if they could reach them) trying to help make dinner. Welcome Chase home from work. Set the table. Deal with crying, hungry kids. Feed everyone dinner. Put girls in the bathtub. Bathe, rinse, dry, dress girls. Clean up the table from dinner. Send girls out of the kitchen so they don't get messy again. Clean up the stove. Send girls out of the kitchen again. Clean up the counters. Send the girls out. Rinse all the dishes. Load and start the dishwasher. Start a load of laundry. Sink onto the couch in exhaustion only to realize that it's time for another bottle for Samantha. 9:00 all 3 girls are in bed. Stop Jennifer from playing in the potty about 3 times. Put Jennifer back in bed about 15 trillion times with a spanking each time. Calm Elizabeth down after she wakes up with bad dreams. They're finally all asleep. Somewhere in all of that I changed more diapers. Cleaned up more potty training accidents. Kissed more boo-boos. Ate more pretend meals. Answered "why" and "why not" about a dozen more times. Broke up more fights. Checked the mail. Carried the trash to the dumpster. Checked the email. Swept the floor. Answered the phone. Read the same book 30 times. Read a second book 5 times. Read a third book 80 times. Read a fourth book . . . you get the picture.

Every day is the same. It's mommy-hood. It feels never ending. It doesn't really feel important, that's for sure. It's daily life. Then, one day, something is said that changes everything. One day, something happens that makes all the difference. For me, that was today.

We are in town visiting family for the holidays. Today we went to our old church. We did the typical morning routine of getting everybody ready and out the door. We took the girls to the nursery and dealt with the typical tears as we left them. We went across the building for Chase's morning coffee and to say hi to faces we know we won't see again for many months. We went to the service. After a night full of crying children and mostly void of sleep, I struggled to stay awake through the service. However, God talked to me and I heard it, even through my sleep deprived state. The sermon was over Zacchaeus and Jesus' mission - To Seek And To Save The Lost. I was told that His mission is my Commission. I was told that there are lost people all around me and I have been given the task of seeking them out and leading them to God. We prayed. The pastor asked God to show us one person to actively seek to lead to Him. He asked God to lay one person on our heart.

I don't know about you, but my day is pretty jam-packed. I don't have a car available to me during the day. We share a car, and Chase is gone 12-13 hours a day. I rarely leave my home. I live in an apartment complex so I have PLENTY of neighbors. However, the majority of them do not speak English. I have several family members that I have been praying for for years now - as far back as I can remember. However, in that moment when the pastor prayed over us, it was none of these faces that flashed into my mind. There were 3 distinct faces I saw. 3 sweet, loving, smiling faces that captured my attention.

It was then that I realized that my mission field is in my home. I spend MANY hours alone with these 3 - soon to be 4 - little souls. God has given them to me to mold into women (and a man) who love Him and serve Him with their whole hearts. I realized that it is not enough to feed and clothe them. It's not enough to take them to church or to read the Bible to them most nights. I should be actively seeking to teach them - above ALL else - who God is and how to love and serve and follow Him with their entire being. They are all young enough that they have not reached that "age of accountability" quite yet. However, one day they will reach that age. Will they be prepared? Will I have actively tried to "seek and to save" the lost that are entrusted into my care? This is mommy-hood.

Yes, the things that fall to me on a daily basis are a vital part of mommy-hood, but if I don't care for the ultimate need, what's the point of meeting their other needs?

I don't want a mommy-hood that meets the most basic of their needs. I want to lead them to the One who can meet the biggest need they'll ever have. This is the mommy-hood I want. Suddenly mommy-hood doesn't seem so boring or repetitive. Suddenly there is purpose to all that I do for them each day. Mommy-hood. What greater blessing and responsibility????

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Day 4

Here is Day 4 of our Countdown Chain!!!

 I couldn't read this one to them like I had every other night because I knew they would think they were going to make something like the reindeer hat - something they could wear. Elizabeth kept asking what we were gonna do, and all I could say is, "You'll see!"



This isn't a very good picture, but I was in a hurry to get it taken, and get the wet glue put away because, as you can see in the bottom, left corner, we had a visitor coming to (literally) get her hands on them!!!


Day 3

Here is Day 3 of our Countdown Chain!!



I've never known a child to be afraid of having their hand traced, but this girls was terrified!! Took awhile, but she finally calmed down enough for me to get something that somewhat resembled a hand print!

Please pardon the laundry in the background. We're making memories!!! (And don't worry - the laundry isn't still there!!!)

They wore these around the house for two days before the enjoyment wore off!!


Day 2

Here is Day 2 of our Countdown Chain! The girls really loved this one. When they finished, Elizabeth asked, "Can we do another one???" Unfortunately I only had the two copies of the picture so I had to tell her no. However, once we started reading the book, she enjoyed it so much that she forgot all about the craft!






Think Outside the Box

Proverbs 31:17 - "She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

I've always read this verse and applied it to my household and my job (when I worked outside the home). However, God has been teaching me recently that this applies to every area - even in my playtime with my children.

I have not been very quiet about or hidden my recent battle with depression. It has hung over my head like a dark cloud and has consumed everything about me. It has sapped my strength and energy. Forget being a hard worker! It was a struggle just to get out of bed each morning. I would get up only because I have 3 little children that could not take care of themselves. I did my chores each day, but only the necessary. I didn't do the little extras - like organizing things or even lighting candles - because it was just too much work. I did do laundry and dishes and cook and buy groceries and pay bills because I HAD to. Those things are necessary in order to keep a home functioning. Though I did all of those things, I could not be considered a hard worker. It would not cross anyone's mind to label me as energetic and strong! I did what I had to do to get by.

**I know this depression thing sounds like I'm just making excuses for my behavior. If you've struggled with this or know someone who has, you know that's not at all what it is. If you haven't dealt with this before, please understand that that is not at all the case.**

All of that said, the lesson God taught me through this verse has nothing to do with chores or my home or job. It has to do with making memories with my children. It has to do with having fun with them. In years and holidays past, it was just another day come and gone. We celebrated the actual day, but there were no fun things leading up to the day/event. The thought of baking cookies with young kids was exhausting. It seemed like too much work to pull out craft supplies and make something. It was much easier to put them at the table with a piece of paper and a crayon and leave them to it. I didn't have the energy or strength to be involved. The more children I had, the harder it became to do those things.

However, this year I've been taking medicine and (with the exception of a couple of days out of town for a wedding and then a REALLY dark day afterwards because I forgot to take my meds while out of town) we have made a "Countdown Chain" to count down the days until our trip to Houston. Each day has an activity that has to do with Christmas. The first few days are Christmas activities that have more to do with Santa and the "secular" side of the holiday. Then they slowly migrate towards the religious side of things and end up with the Christmas story being read while we're in the car traveling.

I have to admit that I didn't plan this very well. I was very excited about starting this because I finally had the energy. It didn't feel overwhelming. I was able to work hard at gathering supplies and because I'm only doing crafts that I already have the resources for - no purchases!!! - I spent time researching craft ideas and searching my house to see if we had the items. I say I didn't plan well. It was more that I didn't organize well. The first night we read a book about Rudolph and two nights later we did a reindeer craft. Those should have gone together.      :-/ Oh well. I'm still getting the hang of this.

Anyway, God has really blessed my efforts in this by providing the resources and the ideas and helping me carry them out. He has also really helped me to see - through Proverbs 31:17 - that while it is "playtime" and we are having fun, it also involves hard work, energy, and strength. I'm seeing that making memories with my children is something He sees as an attribute of a virtuous woman.

Here are some pics of the things we've been doing. We're a little behind, but maybe we'll catch up on it tomorrow! Maybe . . .   :-)

 Here is our Countdown Chain.
There's not much to it, but we got a late start!


       
I didn't get any pictures of the girls actually doing the painting, but if the number of pictures they did is any indication, I'd say they enjoyed it!!!!

Here is our Christmas book for the night. We also ended up watching videos on YouTube of different people singing "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer". I think Alvin and the Chipmunks was their favorite version!


I'll do a separate post for the rest of the days. I was just too excited about what we've been doing that I thought I'd share the first day!

I don't know what God is telling you through this verse, but don't be stuck on how you've always interpreted it. Open your heart to God, and let Him show you what area in your life needs a makeover to receive more of your energy and time and hard work. You may be just the opposite of me. You may spend so much time with your kids' playtime that He wants you to focus on your home or chores or job more. Don't be afraid to ask Him what He wants for you. Just be ready to jump in and obey!!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Update

I posted a while back about my struggle with depression. I was overwhelmed with how many people responded to that and "came to my rescue"! Thank you to all of you for your visits, prayers, encouragement, and gifts. It means more to me than you'll ever know.

I finally made it in to the doctor and told her all about what I've been dealing with. Since I'm pregnant . . . again (!) . . . she had to be very selective about the medicine she prescribed. The one she felt most comfortable with is Prozac. Now, my mom took this when I was in jr. high, and she doesn't really even remember that time of her life. She was very spaced out and walked around in a daze. My doctor told me that reaction is not typical, but since it was my mother, could be hereditary and was something she needed to know. However, she still wanted to try it out before prescribing something different.

I'll admit that I was scared to take it. I was scared of how I would react to it. It was a month before I got the prescription filled! I'm not a procrastinator (in school I always did projects or papers the day they were assigned instead of waiting until the due date just so I could get it out of the way!!), but I definitely put that off.

Anyway, I finally got it filled and started it right before Thanksgiving. I'll admit that the first 3 (or so) days were rough. For about 2 hours, every time I took it, I would get really spaced out. That scared me. However, after a couple of hours that feeling would wear off, and I'd be fine. Thankfully those episodes only lasted until my body got used to the medicine. I also learned to avoid this by taking it when I go to bed so that I'm sleeping through the time that would happen, instead of taking it at breakfast and having to deal with 3 kids while in a daze!

I'm not a big medicine taker. I take Tylenol for headaches the few times I get them, but I've never had to take anything on a regular basis. So, there are days I forget to take it. At first, that didn't affect me any. Now, I notice it if I miss a day. The whole day it feels like there is a dark cloud over everything. The days I remember to take it are awesome though.

I wasn't sure if it was really working though or if it was all in my head. I didn't know if other people could see a difference. Since I'm not really around other people very much, I didn't have anyone to ask. Well, I had another check-up with my doc for the pregnancy, and she asked me how I was doing emotionally. I told her I felt that it was really helping. I have to point out that prior to this visit I had only slept 3 hours, and I was sick (coughing for 2 weeks!) so I was not really myself. This was also only my third visit with this doctor. When I told her I felt the medicine was working, she told me that she could tell. She told me that I seemed like a different person.

All I have to say is that between the prayers and the medicine, God is really helping me! If you are someone who struggles with depression, don't be afraid of medicine. It's created to help. There is nothing shameful in admitting a need for help and taking medicine. I've only been taking this for a month, and I already feel better. I promise that this blog will not become all about depression and my journey with it, but because there are people praying for me, I will update once in a while. Thank you again for all your prayers and encouragement! You mean the world to me!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Proverbs 31:16 (Part 2 of 2)

Proverbs 31:16b - ". . . with her earnings she plants a vineyard."

**I'm preparing myself ahead of time that there are women who will not agree with this. Please do not see this as my opinion. These are verses from God, not me. And if this verse from Proverbs had not come up, I would gladly stay away from this topic. However, it did come up, and if I'm going to share what God is teaching, it is my responsibility to share this as well.**

Titus 2:4-5 says, "These older women must train the younger women to love their husbands and their children, to live wisely and be pure, to work in their homes, to do good, and to be submissive to their husbands.Then they will not bring shame on the word of God."

There is so much in this verse that we, as "younger women" must be willing to learn. For the sake of this post we will cover two of those phrases. The first phrase is "to work in their homes". God's desire is for His women to be in the home. I know that there are situations where the woman must work outside the home (divorce, death). However, God's design and plan is for the women to be in the home, and to do otherwise, except out of true need (not simply because we are living outside our means), brings "shame on the Word of God".

As women, we were created for one purpose (besides the obvious, which is to bring glory to God), and that is to be a helper for our husbands. In Genesis 2:18 God declares this purpose, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helper who is just right for him."

The second phrase from Titus is "to be submissive to their husbands". When we were first married, my husband's job did not pay enough for me to be able to stay home and us still pay the bills. He required me to continue going to work. He was not trying to be mean. He was not trying to be domineering and exert his "power". He was simply doing what he felt needed to be done in order for our family to stay committed to the financial obligations we had set up for ourselves. There are other men who also require their wives to work. As women we are supposed "to be submissive to (our) husbands" whether we agree with them or not.

So what about those families whose cost of living (rent, groceries, etc) exceed the husband's income, as was our case when we first got married? This is where our Proverbs 31 woman comes in. Verse 16 shows us that Gd is not opposed to his women earning money. He simply wants us to do it from our home. He wants us to use the abilities He has given us to help our husbands with the finances.

Two things stand out to me as I read that she "planted a vineyard". The first is her ability. Maybe she chose to plant the vineyard because it was all she knew how to do. Maybe it was because she has a love for gardening. Whichever the case, she chose something that was in her ability. The second is that she didn't blow her money on unnecessary things. I'm not saying she didn't spend some of it on pretty things for her house or herself. However, she did chose to use, at least a good portion of it, for something that would benefit the entire family. Why should husband's paycheck have to stretch to cover bills even if it means he doesn't get to spend it on himself, but wife gets to use hers on herself? This woman was not a greedy, selfish woman. She used her earnings to do something within her ability, that she probably enjoyed, and that would benefit the entire family.

So what do we take away from this?
1.) The verse in Titus says that we are to be submissive to our husbands. It doesn't say "except for in the case of  . . ." Are we being submissive in all things? It's okay to share our opinion with our husband. We are his helper and sometimes our opinion helps him see things in a different light. It helps open his eyes to a different side of things. However, the final decision should be left to him with no arguing. If we don't agree, we need to talk to God about it and let Him deal with our husband.

2.) Are we using our abilities and resources to help in a way that will benefit the entire family? We are on a very strict budget and even something as simple as going to McDonald's and ordering off the Dollar Menu requires much saving, but we are able to pay the bills without me having to bring in extra money. I would like to be able to do fun things as a family, but I have not yet found something to do that uses my abilities and resources and doesn't put us in financial bondage in order to start doing it. However, when God does reveal to me that one thing, I have a responsibility to use it for the good of the family and not just myself.

This makes God sound like a mean, harsh man. He is not. He simply what knows what will make our households run the most efficiently and cause the least amount of stress on His women. We are His little girls. He doesn't want us overwhelmed and over worked and stretched to the limits. He was us peaceful and able to help our husbands. He wants us to be able to put aside our wants and desires and submit to the man He has put in charge of our well being. Let's follow God's plan for our lives and leave the results to Him.

Proverbs 31:16 (Part 1 of 2)

Wow! It has been a LONG time! Everyday I think to myself that I need to write another post, that it has been way too long since the last. However, the more time that goes by, the harder it is to pick up and run with it. I spend too much time trying to figure out what I should say about each verse. The truth is, I don't have to know what to say. All this was supposed to be is me sharing what God has shown me through each particular verse. So, before I lose steam, I'm just gonna jump back in where I left off. I'll do another post (later tonight if these two girls still haven't given in to sleep, or tomorrow, if they have!) about all the things that have gone on in our lives the past months in my absence! Here goes . . .

Proverbs 31:16 says, "She goes to inspect a field and buys it; with her earnings she plants a vineyard."

This is another one of those verses that I've read dozens of times and skip over. When I come across verses like this, I have to remind myself that God chose to have it included in His Holy Word so there MUST be a reason for it. He has something He wants me and all of His other women to learn from it. So what is it?

I think it is important to note that it doesn't state that she purchased the field with her earnings. It doesn't even mention her earnings until the second part of the verse. The way this verse is written tells me that she used her husband's earnings to purchase the field. In modern families, where the husband goes to work and the wife stays home, the money is the husband's "earnings", but it is "our" money. I think the same was true then. The husband earned the money and (given the role of women in those days) he was probably responsible for the "checkbook", but it was their money. The fact that she was the one who went out and inspected the field and bought it says a lot about his trust for her.

1.) He trusted her ability to know a worthy investment. Let's face it. While there are some women who can look under the hood of the car and immediately know every part they lay eyes on and even some of the unseen parts, the majority of us are doing good to be able to refill the windshield washer fluid!! Cars are typically a guy thing. The majority of dads would not turn away their daughter if she came asking to learn about the car. However, most girls wouldn't think of asking, and most dads wouldn't think to suggest it. In this day and age, it is becoming more common to teach the daughter to change a tire so she isn't stranded on the side of the road at the mercy of any strange man that happens to stop and offer help, but teaching in depth car repair is just not done. That said, imagine that your family needs a new vehicle, but finances say it must be a used vehicle. No one would buy a used vehicle without looking under the hood. However, you gotta know what you're looking for or it's pointless to look. The Proverbs 31 Woman's husband trusted her knowledge enough to send her to buy a "used vehicle" and to know she was getting a good deal. This meant that they must have spent time talking about fields. He shared his knowledge of a good vs bad field. He trusted he had done a good job teaching her and he trusted that she had truly listened and learned from him what she needed to know. It doesn't say she was interested. She listened because it was important to him. Our husbands know when we're truly listening and when we're just "nodding and smiling" while thinking about something else. The things he's telling us may not be interesting, they may not be things we feel are important, but listen. Truly listen. Listen because he thinks it's important enough to tell you about it, and listen because one day the information just may be necessary.

2.) He trusted her ability to make wise decisions and not decisions based on her wants. His and hers. Our needs are different. Our wants are different. It is very easy to put our wants ahead of other peoples' wants. The typical reaction, for most people, is to think of self first. We want the house on the beach. It doesn't matter that the area has had 15 hurricanes in the past 5 years. This house is perfect. We have to have this house. Our wants are so dominant that we can't see past them to the bigger picture. We want the bigger vehicle. It doesn't matter that we don't have any children and don't ever plan to. It doesn't matter that we never carry large loads of anything anywhere. We must have that 15 passenger van. Who cares that our budget says we can only afford $5 of gas a week, and we would never be able to go anywhere in it? It is perfect! And so we buy the bigger vehicle instead of the smaller, more economical one we can afford to drive. The end result means nothing and has no affect on us. I don't know what it is you want. You don't know my wants. That doesn't matter though. What matters is whether we are willing to put aside our wants to make choices that will benefit the entire family instead of just ourselves. We've all been guilty of this. Maybe not as drastic as the scenarios I've just described, but we've been there, done that. The Proverbs 31 Woman's husband knew that she wouldn't choose a field simply because it was what she wanted. She was going to look into it. She was going to make sure it was a good field and worth the money being asked. She was going to make sure it was in a convenient area for everyone and not make the purchase just because it was near her best friend's field and they'd be able to see each other every day. He knew that she would not be selfish in her decision. He trusted her to do the right thing.

3.) He trusted her financial ability. He trusted that she could recognize a good deal. We all love a good deal. If that wasn't the case, there would never be price wars. There would never be sales. There wouldn't be coupons. :-/ Can you imagine the horror of that last one?!? (That's for you Chelle!) There would only be one brand of each item in the stores. There is no denying that people love a good deal and will gravitate toward it.
A.) There are times when there is a need - meds, etc (cuz it's 1:47 AM, and I can't think of anything else at the moment!) - there is no time to search for a better deal, and the purchase must be made. Can our husband trust that we will only spend "unnecessary" money in this type of situation (in which case it actually become necessary since the item is necessary and there is no other option!)?
B.) Let's say you need a new article of clothing - wedding dress, coat or shoes for a growing child, etc - and the place you are at has a good sale. If you find the type of item you're looking for but don't fall in love with the style, don't buy it. It'll end up sitting in the back of a closet, untouched, which is a waste of money. It'll probably also end up being replaced when we do find a style we love, which means, unless we got a great deal on both, we most likely spent more than we originally intended. Can our husband trust that we won't purchase a "field" just because we're tired of looking and ready to be done with it all? Can he trust that we'll pursue all of our options until we've found a good financial deal that still meets our standards?
C.) One more . . . Sometimes we get caught up in the whole idea that we have to buy a certain brand because everyone else does. Or we have to shop at certain stores and avoid others simply because all the people we know shop there. It doesn't matter that the same exact item can be gotten at a different place for a better price. Can our husband trust us to put aside our desires to be like everyone else and instead "buy a cheaper field" in an area our friends don't think is good enough, as long as it still meets the standards we've set?

Can our husband trust our ability? If he sent us out to "buy a field" could he trust us to inspect it and to purchase it only if it meets set standards and is a benefit to all?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Baby

My precious Elizabeth Ann,

The other night as I came up the stairs and headed to my room to go to bed for the night, I heard that oh so familiar "I'm-not-whining-I'm legitimately-scared" heart-wrenching cry that would make any mother drop everything and run to her baby, as you cried out, "Momma! Momma!"

I stepped into my room to put all of my things down before I came to you. As I walked back out into the hallway, I saw you standing there in your doorway wearing your new princess dress instead of your pajamas! I saw your whole body jump as you realized someone was standing in front of you and you hadn't realized it was me. I came to you and picked you up. When I did, you wrapped both arms tightly around my neck and both legs around my waist as if you were afraid I would disappear if you let go. You buried your face into me and just cried.

I laid you down on your bed and sat down next to you. I asked you what was wrong, and you said you were scared. I asked what you were scared of though I already knew the answer. It's the same every time. "Da bad guys." I told you that God is with us and that He will take care of us and that you don't have to be afraid. You said another all too familiar phrase "and Daddy will kill the bad guys."

Then I prayed with you, that God would keep us safe and give us sweet dreams and that He would help you not to be afraid. I asked you if that made you feel any better, and you told me it did. However, when I switched positions to keep my leg from falling asleep, you immediately grabbed for my shirt and begged me, "Don't leave me Momma!"

I told you I would stay with you until you fell asleep. So I laid down on the bed between you and Jennifer. You got sleepy again very quickly just knowing I was there with you. Somewhere in that world between wakefulness and being fully asleep, you muttered under your breath, "I not a baby anymore. I a big girl."

You're right of course. You're not a baby anymore. You're a big girl. You don't wear diapers. You don't use a pacy. You don't need a bib or a bottle. You can even do pretty well with a regular cup instead of a sippy cup. You know how to dress yourself. You put your dishes in the sink after you eat and you are learning how to fold laundry. You know your ABC's and you can count to 18. You have "Jesus Loves Me", "Jesus Loves the Little Children", and the Fruit of the Spirit memorized. You help feed Samantha her bottle, and you teach Jennifer how to do things you've already learned. You are a big girl.

However, in my mind I'll always see the girl who thought she was ugly if she wasn't wearing a dress. I'll always see the girl who thought momma was "so gorgeous" even in her pajamas. I'll see the girl who wanted to marry daddy and go on a date with him because he was "handsome". I'll see the girl who got excited about a princess dress and crown and fake clip-on earrings. I'll see the girl who could make anyone laugh just with her dancing. I'll see the girl who loved her sunglasses so much she wore them inside church as she walked to her class. I'll see the girl who got frustrated as she tried to learn to say the letter "L". I'll see the girl who had an addiction to her pacy that was almost unhealthy. I'll see the girl who had bad dreams almost every night. I'll see the girl who, because of those bad dreams, slept in my bed almost every night from the very beginning. I'll see the girl who was afraid of the dark from the very first night we brought her home from the hospital. I'll see the girl who welcomed home a sister and was so jealous she kicked her in the head. I'll see the girl who loves that little sister and says "her my best friend". I'll see the girl who welcomed home a second little sister and loves her more than life. I'll see the girl who visited that second sister in the NICU and repeatedly kissed her on the head and whispered in her ear "It'll be okay. I love you." I'll see the girl whose first cries were more of a squeak than an actual cry. I'll see the girl that I had to leave every day for a year and a half while I went to work. I'll see the girl who came and sat with me every time I cried and brought me a kleenex for "you eyes". I'll see the girl who stole my heart in a matter of seconds. I'll see the girl who made me a Mommy.

So, Elizabeth, to you, you're no longer a baby. To you, you're a big girl. But to me? Well, the words I whispered to you as you drifted off to sleep the other night, with your head on my stomach and your fist firmly clenching my sweatshirt and your sweaty curls plastered to your forehead, will be true forever:

"I'll love you forever. I'll like you for always. As long as I'm living, my baby you'll be."

They may not be my original words. I may have stolen them from a book, but they could not be more true.

Happy birthday (a few days late) BABY girl. I love you more than words can express, and no matter how old you get and how many things you learn to do, you'll always be my baby.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oh Dear!

Proverbs 31: 15 -
"She gets up before dawn to prepare breakfast for her household
    and plan the day's work for her servant girls."

If there is one thing about me that is known by everyone I meet it is that I am NOT a morning person! I despise it! It is my belief that God should have created each day to begin at noon. I am a night-owl. I enjoy staying up late. After about 10:00 PM, I get wide-awake and want to get up and do chores and clean and organize. That's just who I am.

I would rather stay up late and make any preparations for breakfast that can be done the night before. I would rather plan the next day's work that night. Isn't that the way God made me? Didn't He design me this way?

Maybe.

Or maybe this comes from habit. Maybe I was trained this way from a young age. After all, when we were kids my dad worked nights, or "graveyards", and my mom didn't want to be up alone. So she wouldn't put us in bed until she walked in the room and saw that we had fallen asleep in the floor while playing.

Whether I was created this way and this is one of my "thorn(s) in the flesh" that I have to learn to overcome or this is a habit that I have to learn to undo, I really have no excuse for ignoring this verse.

The truth is, God wants His women up before the sun. He wants us awake and fresh. He wants us up early to spend time with Him, to study His Word. He wants us preparing breakfast for our men who are about to head out into the world and need sustenance for the tasks He has planned for them that day. ("She brings her food from afar." Are we meeting his needs? See more here.)

He wants us up to plan chores for our "servant girls". Nowadays, we don't have "servant girls", we have children. Our children need chores to teach them responsibility. Now, this is an easy part of the verse to skip over. The majority of families I know have specific chores for their children each day. However, as a mother of young children that cannot do much, if any, of the chores, I need to be up planning for myself. There are things that are specific to life's circumstances. Is there out-of-town company coming? There are extra beds that need to be made up. Is someone coming for dinner? Extra places need to be set at the table. Extra food has to be prepared. Are you making a welcome-to-the-neighborhood dessert for the new people down the road or dinner for sick or elderly people or those with a new baby? Someone has to do all of these things. Are you going to do all aspects yourself? Will the kids help? Which kid is going to do what? Do you have a tighter schedule today? Do chores need to be done earlier than normal? Is there a child having trouble with a specific subject in school and needs to study longer? Someone may need to pick up his chores that night to relieve some of his pressure. Is there a child with extra homework? Someone might have to do her chores so that she can finish it all. Is somebody sick or out of town? Someone is going to have to have to pick up the slack that is left when another person is gone. Who is it going to be? Are there chores you're constantly forgetting about? (I am forever forgetting to thaw out dinner!) Put it in the plans for the day.

The point is, no household runs exactly the same every day. So while a specific child may feed the dog everyday while another loads the dishwasher after dinner every night, there are other things that come up to create more work. God gives this verse to help us out. He wants our days to run smoothly. He wants us to be stress-free. He wants us to feel that we've accomplished something in our households each day, and He has so kindly given us the formula to make that happen.

Now, there is no way to plan for every little thing that will occur in a day. Things are going to come up occasionally that will cause that day's plans to be thrown out the window. Babies are going to get off schedule. Your son is going to break a bone. Your daughter is going to have crazy hormones and emotional breakdowns and is going to need more of your time. (Most of us reading this are females. Haven't we all just needed a day to cry . . . for no reason???) Your husband is going to have a bad day at work and is going to call needing your undivided attention while he vents. Someone is going to throw up or bleed all over everything or wet the bed at nap time and create extra laundry. However, if the day's responsibilities are planned out, it will be easier to make adjustments than it would if nothing is planned out . . . I know this from experience!!!!

I "get" all of this. Where I struggle is "why is morning so important"? Why do I need to be "up before dawn"? I went to the Bible to see if God says anything about this. My Bible cross-referenced this verse with Romans 12:11, "Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically", but that is as far as I got. The rest of this is based solely on my opinion and what I feel God is telling me.

When I get up early . . .

1.) I have time to read the Bible uninterrupted. I can spend time studying God's Word and praying for my husband and children and extended family and friends without worrying that the baby is going to drop her bottle and cry for me to pick it up.

2.) I can get a shower without toddlers standing at the door yelling "momma!" and without having to worry that they are getting into something they shouldn't or breaking things. Our husbands are at work, many of them having contact with other women throughout the day. If my husband comes home from work for lunch and I'm still in my pajamas without my teeth brushed, Satan is going to continue reminding him of that picture when he is at work around other women. I know, I know. Men are responsible for their actions. Yes they are, but if I can do something to keep the temptation from being greater than it has to be, why not do it??? If I'm up early, I can be cleaned up when he comes home for lunch. I will also be cleaned up if someone drops in or there is an emergency (like a toddler drinking a bottle of Tylenol!) and I have to rush out of the house without preparation!!

3.) The day's work is planned and organized that morning and is fresh on my mind. When I make lists, especially for chores or organizing things, I want to get started on it right away. If I make it the night before, I'll sleep on it and lose my enthusiasm. If I get up early and make it in the morning, it's much easier to get up and get going.

4.) Staying up late and sleeping late causes it to be difficult to get into any kind of routine. Everything is based on what time I went to bed the night before and what I consider a "good night's sleep". Getting up early causes me to go to bed early which, in turn, helps me get up early again the following day. Doing this repeatedly will help create a routine - something I and my kids thrive on.

I have my opinion about why God wants His Women up early doing these things. The truth is though, my opinion doesn't matter. God says that's the way it should be and that's all that matters. Sometimes He doesn't tell us why He wants things a certain way. Sometimes we have to blindly obey Him. His ways are best, and because I know that to be true, I can learn to get up early. He has given this command to His women. What else do I really need to know?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finally Back To It!!

It's been quite a while since I posted thoughts on Proverbs 31, but instead of rambling about why (reasons available in my post Too Long), I'm just gonna jump right back in like I just left off yesterday! So, here goes . . .

Proverbs 31:14 says, "She is like a merchant's ship bringing her food from afar."

Now, I've read this chapter many times in my short 28 years which means that I've read this verse numerous times as well. This is one of those "read-it-without-thinking" verses. There doesn't seem to be much to it. However, I know that God would not have included it in His Holy Word if it were not still relevant today. So, what does it mean and how do we apply it?

I. Have. No. Idea.

I have searched the Bible for other verses about merchant's ships. I have scoured the internet. I have continued praying. I'm getting nothing.

So I thought maybe I was reading too much into it. She brings "her food from afar". She is willing to go any distance to make sure her family has what they need. She goes wherever is necessary to make sure they are taken care of. She doesn't use the excuse that she has 3 babies and it's too much work - my common excuse. She doesn't use the excuse that it's too hot or she is too tired or anything else. She takes care of her family. Do we do the same? Or do we put it off until there is absolutely nothing left to eat. Do we provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner for our families? Or do we leave them scrambling to have that basic need met? It is not our husbands' job to provide meals. As the wife and/or mother, it is our responsibility.

Please don't misunderstand me. There are nights when momma is sick or exhausted or just had a baby or surgery or just needs a break. It is okay for daddy to take over at times. It's okay for daddy to help. In fact, I would even say that dad needs to help occasionally. However, this is not about daddy. This is about us functioning in our role as our husbands' helpers.

If we want to fill God's description for His women, we have to take this verse for what it is. We have to see God's heart. He entrusted these men and children to us. His desire is for us to care for them just as He cares for us. To be willing to go to any distance to meet their needs. It makes me sad to think that there were times when I didn't meet my husband's and children's needs. How much more does it break God's heart to see that I am neglecting those He so graciously entrusted to my care?

Temporary Change of Subject

So . . . in just a few short weeks - 6 weeks and 2 days to be exact - we will be joining the ever growing group of homeschooling families in this country. I'm a little nervous about this new experience, but I'm also VERY excited. Since I began homeschooling in 9th grade, I've known I would homeschool my children - God willing! Well, the opportunity has arrived!

Elizabeth will be 3 on August 31. If she were going to attend preschool she would be old enough to start Preschool 3. Since my goal is to homeschool, the thought of sending her away for preschool never even entered my mind as an option. So I began scouring the internet for things I should be teaching her. I came across an awesome, FREE, Christian, preschool homeschool curriculum!

Since the day she was born I have gone back-and-forth in my mind about holding her back a year or not. After all, she only makes the cut-off by one day. When I found this curriculum, I was still trying to decide. Then I discovered that this website has a 2 year old curriculum. After reading over the objectives for 2 year olds and for 3 year olds, I decided that she fits better in the 2 year old category. I felt at peace with holding her back a year. This also means there will not be a grade between her and Jennifer.

That said, I am looking for some books that are used in the curriculum for 2 year olds. I went through the books we already have here at home and found that we only own one of the books on the list!! I feel these are a worthy investment because I have two other children for sure - and possibly more than that - who will follow in their big sister's footsteps and make use of these as well. However, with all the other supplies I will need to do this, I am not in a financial position to purchase all of the books. So, before I make any purchases, I'm asking if anyone has any of the following books they'd like to donate to our library.

Here they are:
1.) Llama Llama Red Pajama
2.) When the Elephant Walks
3.) One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
4.) Five Little Speckled Frogs
5.) Good Night, Gorilla
6.) Old MacDonald Had a Farm
7.) Moo, Baa, La La La!
8.) Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
9.) My First Baby Board Book
10.) Wheels on the Bus
11.) Put Me in the Zoo
12.) Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?
13.) I Love You Through and Through
14.) Ten Little Fish
15.) The Foot Book
16.) Peek-a-Who?
17.) Pat the Bunny
18.) We're Going on a Bear Hunt
19.) That's Not My Train . . .
20.) Where's Spot?
21.) The Going-to-Bed Book
22.) Very Busy Spider
23.) How Do Dinosaurs Do That?
24.) Old Hat, New Hat
25.) Clifford the Big Red Dog
26.) Time for Bed
27.) The Rainbow Fish

As I was typing up this list, I started thinking, "what if someone has one of the books but their financial situation requires them to need to sell the book?" Please let me know even if you can't donate but need to sell. Even though I can't purchase it right now, maybe I will be able to by the time we need it. These are used for "Book a Week" and they will be used in the order I have them listed. Thank you!!!


***Update: I meant to include the website for any other mothers out there wanting to use it as well. It is www.abcjesuslovesme.com

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Too Long

I know it's been a while since I posted last. Life has been terribly crazy and yet very lonely and boring all at the same time over the last couple of years.

I began working at Bay Area First Baptist Church in League City a little over 5 years ago. I absolutely LOVED it and everyone I worked with. It was the best job I have ever had the experience of working. I would not trade my years there for anything! 

However, the entire time I was there, I knew that was not what I was called to do with my life. So, I kept looking for the "next thing". Namely, a husband. In 2007, the day before Thanksgiving, November 21, I met a wonderful man who talked nonstop about the things God was teaching him. We talked day and night about all of our favorites - movies, music, food, books, etc - but what we talked about most was God. I knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that this was a man who would seek God's face before he made ANY decision. I hadn't experienced that before, except in my father. 

A year and one day later we were married - November 22, 2008. I had a terrible photographer so the few documented memories I have of that day are blurry or dark. I had it videoed, but it's still on the video camera tape so I have never seen it. It doesn't matter though. I remember the day like it was yesterday. I remember being nervous and excited at the same time. I remember freezing and sweating at the same time. I remember pacing up and down the hallway while waiting for "my turn" to enter. I even squatted down and rested my head on my knees to calm the butterflies - or jumbo jets as my dad used to describe the feeling before he preached - in my stomach. I remember Cherie, my boss and wedding coordinator, being by my side trying to keep me from freaking out. 


I also vividly remember my reaction after we walked out the back of the sanctuary. See, the groom deals with the "forever-ness" of the relationship long before the wedding day. He deals with it before he even purchases the ring. The bride, on the other hand, is waiting so excitedly for the ring to come to her that she doesn't think about it as much. At least, I didn't. I mean, I had thoughts about wanting to spend forever with him. But the reality of "til death do us part" had not been grasped - until the moment in the foyer as soon as the ceremony ended. My exact words? "What the heck did we just do?" My exact thought? "I can NEVER get out of this!" I didn't regret my decision. I still don't. And I don't want to "get out of this"!!! It was just the forever-ness that was finally hitting.

Unfortunately, my "looking forward to the next thing" didn't end once I got married. Now, I desperately wanted children. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long. Nine months and 2 weeks later we had our first baby girl - Elizabeth Ann Rampy, August 31, 2009, 4:47 PM, 6 lbs, 18 inches, 5 days early. I had to work after Elizabeth was born, and I was NOT happy about it. I lived in guilt the majority of the time. I felt that I was neglecting her and that someone else was raising my baby. It affected my parenting. There are a lot of things I would do different if I could go back. But I can't. I can only do things differently now.


Though she was, and still is, our entire world, she now has to share time! See, we knew our family wasn't finished. We just didn't know how quickly it would grow. 14 months later she got a little sister - Jennifer Bryce Rampy, November 4, 2010, 11:48 AM, 5 lbs, 15 oz, 18 inches, 4 weeks early. After a 10 day stay in the NICU, she came home and has been a load of enjoyable work ever since!!! I only had 14 days of maternity leave - including the weekends - after she was born. With her in the NICU for 10 of those, I only got 4 days at home with my new baby girl. To this day, I still feel that I never bonded with her like I did her big sister. More guilt. We did get a new pastor, a wonderful and sympathetic man, that allowed me to bring my baby to work with me through the end of the year. However, I wanted to give my job my full attention while I was there so I ended up propping up her bottle when she ate. She didn't get held often. It would have been better had I just left her with her grandmother. More guilt.


Though I had a wonderful job, the best second-mother-boss I could ask for, and wonderful co-workers, my dream was still to be home with my babies. I know it affected my job. I couldn't give them 100% when my heart was somewhere else. More guilt. It didn't last long though. My husband joined the management program at work, and March 31, 2011 was my last day of work at Bay Area First Baptist Church. However, I was so looking forward to the "next thing" that I didn't fully count the cost. I wanted so badly to be a stay-at-home mom that I didn't prepare myself fully for it. I wouldn't change it now. I still love being home. I just wish I had prepared myself better. See, shortly after I stopped working, we moved to Waco. I knew no one. I had 2 babies. My husband's truck broke down so he took my car to work every day. I couldn't go anywhere. I was stuck. My husband worked 13 hours a day. I tried meeting neighbors but there was no where to "hang out" except standing in the parking lot, so people didn't go out much. There was no playground for the kids, and it was WAY too stressful to get to the pool with 2 babies. I did meet a neighbor. She didn't speak English. I didn't speak Turkish. We found a church but I couldn't get very involved without a vehicle and a very high heart rate and being out of breath just standing up, I couldn't serve in the nursery. My introduction to loneliness. Then? God expanded our family again! Jennifer was 15 months old and Elizabeth was 2 1/2 years old when we added our third child. Oh. Back up some. We could not afford healthcare. So, I could not see a doctor during the entire pregnancy. I told myself it didn't matter. People have had babies MANY times without a doctor! I've given birth before. The baby was coming whether I had a doctor or not. No biggie. I did have a friend in League City who was an ultrasound tech and needed practice so she asked to do one for me. This was how we learned the gender. Another little girl. I was HIGHLY disappointed. I tried not to cry. I tried to be happy. A baby is a blessing no matter what the gender is. I know that. I just desperately wanted a son. I knew I should be happy she was healthy, and not sad she was a she. But I wasn't. More guilt. I felt like a terrible mom and person.  I did learn to love her for who she was LONG before she made her appearance, and I wouldn't trade her for all the boys in the world. She is the perfect fit for our family. I still want a son eventually, but I'm thankful for my girl - Samantha Brooke Rampy, February 18, 2012, 12:52 AM, 6 lbs,1 oz, 17.5 inches, 3 1/2 weeks early. 


Another NICU stay. This one only lasted 7 days, but no matter how short it is, leaving the hospital without your new baby is a heart-wrenching thing. And trying to balance time at the hospital with time at home with the older siblings who are just babies themselves? It's impossible. I spent a lot of time in tears! More guilt. Then the doctor told us that my body is just too tired. I need to wait a year before getting pregnant again. A doctor could have told me I was too tired and put me on semi bed rest had I gone to the doctor. I didn't. It's was my fault my baby was in the NICU. More guilt

When Samantha was 2 weeks old, we learned we were moving again. To Terrell. Um, where???? So we packed up. With a 2 1/2 year old, a 15 month old, a 2 week old, and a husband gone to work for 13 hours a day, I packed us up. And when Samantha was 5 weeks old, March 30, we moved even farther from family than we had been. An hour farther to be (almost) exact! More loneliness.

One of his co-workers fixed Chase's truck shortly before we moved, so when we got here we had two vehicles. I could explore our new town. God had other plans. My car broke down the day after Easter. I can't drive Chase's truck. It's a standard, and though my first car was standard, I've never learned to drive one - and I HAVE tried!!! This time I was truly stuck. More loneliness. I decided to meet neighbors. Apparently that would be the only way to make friends. They don't speak English. They sit at the playground watching their kids play while laughing and talking to each other in Spanish while I stand there by myself watching my girls. More loneliness

We still haven't found a church to be involved in. I haven't bonded with my newest baby because I'm so exhausted and lonely and busy with her independent oldest sister and her Houdini older sister. On top of that, she cries all the time. She wont eat when I hold her so I have to prop up the bottle. That all just adds to the guilt. My husband still works 13 hours a day. And while I don't blame him, when he gets home from work he has used up all his words with co-workers and customers, while I have used maybe 1/4 of mine saying "no!" and "stop it" and "get out of that" and "quit fighting"!!!! I wanna talk and he wants to veg! More loneliness. And then, though I understand, I get angry at him for not spending time with me. My love language is quality time after all. Then I feel bad because he has worked hard and I'm not letting him rest. More guilt.

Thankfully, some wonderful cousins, that I discovered only live about 15 minutes from me, fixed our car for us. I now have wheels again and can get out of the house. They have even offered for me to hang out with them. But I feel guilty "butting" in. I know that's not what it is since they offered. I just feel like it because I feel so needy right now. 

So, why do I share all of this?
1.) To remind myself of all the wonderful blessings God has given me. I truly have a blessed life. I just have trouble seeing it through all the craziness of my emotions. 
2.) To explain why I haven't continued with my post recently. See, with all the guilt and loneliness, I have sunk into depression. 
3.) To let people know that depression is real and that it's nothing to be embarrassed about.
4.) To encourage my readers to look at the people around you and not just in your regular circles. Make sure there isn't someone needing to be "found". Include EVERYONE even if they seem high maintenance. That may not be their real personality. It may their "starving" personality just needing someone. Don't just include them. Make them important to you and let them know they aren't in the way. 
5.) To show myself that the majority of the things I have guilt over are out of my control or are not things to feel guilty about. They are life. That is all. 
6.) To remind myself that I CANNOT do this life without God. I have been so down that I only want to stay in bed everyday. I get up because I have people that need me. If they weren't here I wouldn't get up (another of God's blessings). However, I stay in bed until they wake me up. I don't get up and spend time with God before they start begging for my attention. Then, when they take a nap, if they all do at the same time, I'm so exhausted that I nap too instead of spending time with God. I have neglected Him recently. That adds to my guilt, but I am trying to learn that I just need to change it instead of feeling guilty about it. 
7.) To remind myself that, as much as my husband loves me, he cannot fix my loneliness. Only God can do that. I NEED to spend time with Him. 
8.) And last, to tell my readers, if you're dealing with depression, speak out. To someone. To anyone. And when you have cousins or friends that try to "take you in", don't run from it. It's easier to stay in bed with the covers over your head. But it's not wise and you'll never get better. Let people befriend you. Don't be afraid you're going to get on their nerves. They wouldn't reach out if they felt that way. 

Please pray for me. I'm sharing my heart here, asking, - no, pleading - for nothing more than your prayers. That I would turn to God to fill my loneliness and to send friends and a church to be involved in. That I would let go of guilt and ask God to help me change in the areas I need to and just accept as "life" the things I cannot change. I know this is long. So, thank you for sticking with me to the end!


***Some sections are highlighted in white. I have tried numerous times to remove them without success! If you have any suggestions on this, please share!!!***

Monday, June 4, 2012

Something Else

As I was studying about wool and flax for the Proverbs 31:13 blog post, I learned something new. It has nothing to do with Proverbs 31:13 but it does have to do with wool and flax. Or should I say "wool and linen"? Deuteronomy 22:11 says, "You must not wear clothing made of linen and wool together."

There is no reason given for this law, and there are no laws about mixing any other types of materials. I thought about this for a bit, wondering at the reason for it. It crossed my mind that sometimes God gives us laws for practical purposes. Kind of like "well duh!", common sense kind of things.

Wool is a material that would be better suited for winter clothes, blankets, etc while linen would be better for summer items. Of course they shouldn't be mixed! They would work against each other.

Wait! Isn't there something in the New Testament about this? In Matthew 12, when Jesus cast demons out of a blind, mute man, the Pharisees accused Him of getting His power from Satan. Jesus said to them, "Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or a family splintered by feuding will fall apart. And if Satan is casting out Satan, he is divided and fighting against himself. His kingdom will not survive. . . Anyone who isn't with me opposes me, and anyone who isn't working with me is actually working against me."

Heavy-weight material can't keep a person cool in the summer, and lightweight material can't keep a person warm in the winter. If they aren't working together, they're working against each other. Then I had another thought: These material are "unequally yoked"!

2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, "Don't team up with those who are unbelievers. How can righteousness be a partner with wickedness? How can light live with darkness? What harmony can there be between Christ and the devil? How can a believer be a partner with an unbeliever?"

I know it's a stretch, but I still wonder . . . did He give that law simply as an analogy for these things???

Wool and Flax?!?!?

I know I'm a weirdo, but I'm so excited about this post! Due to the effects of the caffeine from a late night Diet Dr. Pepper, I was up VERY late. However, even when the effects of said drink wore off, I still couldn't sleep. My mind was going back and forth thinking about different aspects of this verse. God revealed so much to me last night! It may take more than one post to share it all!

Proverbs 31:13 - "She finds wool and flax and busily spins it."

I know right??? Not much here! This is one of those verses that we typically read and are then done with. Since I'm doing a verse-by-verse study of this chapter, I figured I needed to look deeper into it instead of just sticking it in with another verse as if it didn't mean anything on it's own. God wouldn't put it in His Word for His ideal woman if it wasn't important. So, I scoured the Internet. There are many things bad about the Internet, but when used the proper way, it can be an awesome tool!

My search began with reading about wool and flax and what they're used for and how they're obtained. Very interesting stuff here, especially when looked at in light of the lifestyle during Bible times. (There is a lot of background information here, but it is necessary in understanding what the Virtuous Woman in Proverbs 31 is being praised for. So, please bear with me!)

WOOL (1)

 USE: In addition to clothing, wool is used for "blankets, horse rugs, saddle cloths, carpeting, wool felt, insulation, and upholstery". Ancient Greeks used it inside their helmets (used to absorb noise) and Romans used breastplates made of wool felt. It has been used in diapers since the exterior fibers repel water and the interior fibers attract water. It can absorb water up to 1/3 of its own weight. It has been used for undergarments because it prevents heat and sweat rashes. It is hypoallergenic, static resistant, and ignites at a higher temperature than cotton and has a "lower rate of flame spread, low heat release, low heat of combustion, and does not melt or drip". It retains heat well making it good for use in clothes and other items used in cold weather. I think wool would have been a perfect material for the people in cold weather in Bible times.


OBTAINING: First, it would have been plucked out of the sheep by hand or by bronze combs. Then it's separated into 4 categories (fleece, broken, bellies, lock). When taken directly from the sheep, it is known as "greasy wool". It contains a "high level of valuable lanolin, as well as dirt, dead skin, sweat, residue, pesticide, and vegetable matter". So, before spinning it into something to be made, it had to be cleaned - and they didn't have washing machines!! This would have required a lot of time-consuming work. It was a nasty job. Nothing fun about this!

FLAX (2)

I had NO clue what flax was. I had never even heard of it. So I began my search there. 

Flax Flower - isn't it beautiful?

Linen comes from the fibers in the stem of the plant.

USE: Flax is actually native to the region where the Virtuous Woman would have lived. It is thought to have been the first domesticated species in human history. Do you know what material is made from the fibers in the stem of the flax plant? Linen! (It is known as flax before the spinning process and linen after.) According to Wikipedia "Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap". Because Proverbs 31:13 talks about her spinning it, she was probably mostly using it for the fibers and making clothing that would have been lightweight and breezy for those hot, dusty desert summers. She may have also been making fishing nets for the fisherman (Hey, James, John, Peter, and Andrew had to get their nets somewhere. Who says their wives/mothers didn't make them?!?), along with ropes and twine. It's even possible she used it to decorate her home by creating "damasks, lace, and sheeting".


OBTAINING: First, the plant is pulled up with the roots. Then it has to dry and the seeds be removed (aka threshing). After that, the flax fibers must be separated from the stalk. To do this the inner stalk must be rotted away by leaving it in the sun/rain for 2 weeks to 2 months. The majority of what is left is the actual fiber to be used for spinning. However, at this point, there are still coarse fibers (straw) remaining. "To remove these, the flax is "broken", the straw is broken up into small, short bits, while the actual fiber is left unharmed, then "scutched", where the straw is scraped away from the fiber, and then pulled through "hackles", which act like combs and comb the straw out of the fiber." The fiber is now ready to be spun into linen.

WHAT NOW???

The Bible says "she finds" wool and flax. It doesn't indicate what state they are in when she finds them, but it's not completely necessary to know. Whether she begins with the very first step of the process by finding and shearing sheep and planting flax and pulling it up by the roots or begins somewhere else along the way, she is obviously a hard worker. She doesn't mind getting dirty. This could also show her as wise with her money. She could probably find someone who would do all of this and sell it to her, but she is willing to save her money and instead get dirty and do the work herself. She is patient and doesn't mind tedious work. I mean, look at all she has to do to obtain these items just to begin spinning it! 

It also says she "busily spins" it. This is not a once-in-a-while task. This isn't something she does on the side as a hobby. This is her life. 

WHAT ABOUT ME???

This is all good and well for the Virtuous Woman, but what about now, in everyday life? We don't need to go out and find wool and flax and spin it. So, how do we apply it? I think God wants us to see more of "who she is" than "what she did". Do I work hard? Do I mind doing dirty work in order to save my family some money (example: growing a garden instead of buying veggies; mowing the grass instead of hiring someone; buying an entire chicken/turkey and cleaning it instead of buying boneless, skinless pieces)? Am I patient with my work or am I in such a rush to get it done that it is sloppy, and I'm stressed, and no one in the house wants to be near me?

There is a lot to learn from Virtuous Woman and the other verses in the Bible if we're just willing to spend time searching for them.

(1) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wool
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flax

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Elizabeth Ann - My mothering one




Ready for a concert with her high heels and screwdriver microphone!!


Elizabeth is just a little over 2 1/2. It's hard to believe that, by the end of the summer, she will be 3 and ready for preschool. The only thing keeping me from crying my eyes out over this new phase of life is that we are homeschooling so she won't actually go to preschool! I don't think I could handle it if I had to send her away!

She takes good care of me. If I'm crying, she sits next to me until I'm better. If I need something, she is (99% of the time, after all, she's still a kid!) quick to jump up and help me. She's definitely a nurturer!

She is learning so much. She can say her ABC's and count to 13! She LOVES to sing. She knows the first verse to "Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus" and she sang it at our family reunion. She has also learned the Fruit of the Spirit. The chapter/verse still gives her trouble though. She can't understand why it's 5:22 instead of 5, 6! And she is completely potty-trained! No more diapers!! I bought her last package two weeks ago! :-(

She can rock a mean attitude, but she also has a silly side. When she woke up the other morning, she was rubbing her eyes. I said, "what's wrong baby?" She said, "Nothing's wrong. My eyes just tired because I just woke up"!!! Later that afternoon Samantha was very fussy and needed to be rocked (for several hours). I had an empty laundry basket in the living room, and Elizabeth pulled it over beside my rocking chair, put her pillow in it, and sat in it. Jennifer saw her and needed to do the same thing. So, I got her set up in our other laundry basket on the other side of my chair. We sat there eating vanilla wafers and watching Sesame Street. After about 10 minutes Jennifer couldn't sit still any longer! She got out and was playing all alone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, she walked over to Elizabeth and slapped her in the face. It was so unexpected that I started laughing! (It must not have hurt to bad because Elizabeth was laughing too!) I'm laughing now as I think about it. I was laughing so hard I was crying! Elizabeth must have thought I was just crying because she said, "It's okay momma. I'm fine." That just made me laugh harder! A few minutes later Jennifer hit me. I knew I had to keep my composure and discipline her. I did but then pictured when she hit Elizabeth, and I started laughing again. That made Jennifer laugh. I told her "No! It's not funny!" Elizabeth said "then why you laughing?" I said, "because of something funny that happened." Elizabeth said, "You mean Jennifer?" She got me!!! Then at lunch I asked her if she wanted peanut butter and jelly or turkey and cheese. She must have had too many vanilla wafers because she said, "No. I'm not hungry. Thank you though." and then proceeded to send me off with a flippant wave of her hand!

Vanilla Wafers and Sesame Street

She struggles with bad dreams almost every night. So, if we watch TV or movies, it's always cheery stuff. She likes Father of the Bride 2 ("George and the babies") and The Parent Trap and Full House. She is CONSTANTLY quoting lines from those movies and shows! She is definitely a little parrot!

She also struggles with needing to get out of the house. She is a definite "people person". She loves going to Wal-Mart. She loves her cousins on daddy's side of the family, and she had a GREAT time meeting new cousins at momma's family reunion! She misses her cousins and aunts/uncles and grandparents and cried when they left! She is looking forward to playing with Calum and Granger and Adilynn and Carrick in June. She loves babies too so she is excited about meeting Christopher Michael and Kata while we're there!

And she is my outdoors girl! She is constantly asking to go to Gran's house and "wide da hwses" (though she's never ridden)!! She even likes to feed Joey! She loves to tramp around outside and get dirty!! She adapts well to her surroundings - girly girl or tomboy, whatever the situation calls for!

Getting more hay for Joey!

Jennifer Bryce - My smiley face

Always happy! A bit of sunshine even on the darkest days!

Jennifer is going to be 19 months in just 2 more days!

She LOVES to eat!! No one believes me when I say that she will eat anything you put in front of her. However, she has eaten (actually swallowed) a lemon peel, two bites from a candle, and powder laundry detergent! Now tell me I don't know what I'm talking about!!

She is very destructive! I can't leave her alone for 2 seconds! I have a table of pictures at the top of the stairs. They have been there since we moved in, and we have not had any incidents. Suddenly, last week, she just walks to the table and wipes all the pictures onto the floor and she repeats this process MANY times a day though punishment does follow!! Where did this come from? Thankfully, none of the frames have made their way down the stairs! She also climbs onto her big sister's bed and pulls things off the walls - including the nails!!! Life is definitely interesting with her. She keeps me on my toes. But I wouldn't change it for the world! (How else would I get my exercise???)

She is also a little monkey! On the playground, she climbs up the slide, standing up, without holding on! She has learned the arched ladder too. She climbs into her highchair. Not difficult? She does it with the tray on! She just steps over the tray like it isn't even there!

Her vocabulary is growing like crazy too! She has said her first sentence! And what a sentence it was! Elizabeth was talking about Jesus and how He died on the cross and that He is alive again. Jennifer looked at me and, in her baby talk said, "sus uh-ive" (translation: Jesus is Alive!") My heart was full to overflowing.

Elizabeth was playing with her and accidentally hurt her. She told her "I'm sorry", and I told Jennifer to tell her "I forgive you". I didn't figure she could say it, but I wanted to teach her what her response should be. She walked over to Elizabeth and said "gi ew"! I'm loving this little girl!!

She also says "thank you" and "yes ma'am" about everything. I finally gave in and gave them their chocolate bunnies that the "Easter Bunny" brought them. (Why, oh why did I buy those?!?!?!?) I put her in the high chair and she said "tain to momma"!

She looks grumpy but she was actually still trying to wake up!

Oh how stubborn she is! We took the side railing off of her crib. It's not a convertible crib, but the way it's built it can be used without that piece. An hour after they went to bed we heard Jennifer crying. I went in and found Elizabeth in Jennifer's bed, and Jennifer standing in the middle of the floor. She wasn't crying because she fell out of the bed. She was crying because she couldn't get back in!! I put both of them in Elizabeth's twin bed because it's a little bigger, and I put Jennifer next to the wall. However, after about 3 weeks of this and still not having learned to stay in bed, and momma's patience wearing VERY thin, we decided to put it back on until she is a little older!

Does it get any sweeter???


Oh! I almost forgot! She has started potty training! She tells me when she needs to go (#2) and then holds it until I get her on the potty!! We're almost there!!!

Samantha Brooke - My quiet, serious one

So, I started this blog to share the things God is teaching me as I study His word - currently Proverbs 31. However, I have 3 wonderful blessings (among many) that encompass the majority of my days . . . and nights! They say and do the cutest things on a daily basis and constantly amaze me with how much they change. We make so many memories - good and bad! I thought I'd share 3 of the 4 blessings that make up my world!!

Isn't she precious????

Samantha is 3 1/2 months old, and putting on the lbs MUCH quicker than her big sisters did! She is finally getting adjusted to life outside the womb and is getting on a schedule. And for this organized, OCD momma, schedules are vital to life!!!

She eats 8 oz at 9 am, 1 pm, 5 pm, and 9 pm. She wakes up for an hour at each of these feedings and then sleeps for 3 hours until the next feeding. Then at 9 pm she goes to sleep for 12 hours!!! "Praise the holy Lord above!!!"

Her carseat is her "happy place" and though we've been working on laying flat on her back and on tummy time, she screams through it all as if she's enduring some form of mistreatment!

She no longer takes a pacifier. Don't even offer it. It only makes her scream louder!!

She rolled halfway over the other night, and if I hadn't had bumpers in her crib (Please don't judge my use of them. This is not the time or place for that!) she would have made it all the way over. I placed her on her tummy to sleep (see above note) and she was not happy with me. She wanted to be in her carseat. So she screamed and - almost - rolled over!!

Her first time in shoes!!!

She has been - by far - my most difficult baby, but we have finally started to bond, and I'm beginning to feel the "warm, fuzzy" feelings! 

She doesn't like the high-pitched baby talk. She responds more often to normal voices. She knows her daddy too. He walks in the room, and her face lights up! She hasn't laughed for us yet, but we do get smiles - BIG smiles, mouth open wide!!!

She has already been spoon fed by her big sisters. Granted, all she got to eat was air, but she managed the spoon and toothbrush (thank you Jennifer for sharing your version of a spoon!) quite nicely!!

It's like having a real life baby doll!!