Give them Grace: A Book Review

As a mom of two little boys I am constantly thinking about the right way to handle discipline.  I was really challenged by this book by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick & Jessica Thompson called Give them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus.  These women challenged my idea of what it s to be a Christian Parent.  So many times we think that if our kids behave or are “good” that we have done our duty as a mom.  Behavior is the goal.  This is no better than just moralistic parenting.  Even a Non-Christian can parent this way.  So what makes our parenting different?  A Christian Parent needs to “tether every aspect of our parenting to the gospel message.”  Fitzpatrick & Thompson challenge us to look at the Foundation of Grace that has been given to us.  Then they proceed to Part two of the book which is about the Evidences of Grace.  In part two I began to see the practical side of what they were saying.    They introduce 5 simple words for us to take with us as we parent:  Manage, Nurture, Train, Correct, and Promise.  Each word represents an obligation we have to raise our children “in the Lord”.  I love this quote from the book, “…just managing our children without giving them gospel truth never fulfills our entire obligation, may times that’s all we’ve got time and energy for.  Yes, there are plenty of times that simply call for managing a situation, but management is only one of our responsibilities.”

This book was an excellent call to what the focus of parenting should be.  The Gospel needs to be the forefront of all our parenting decisions.  The end of the book has some charts that bring up common discipline areas and show you how to see the Gospel in them.  This book is a wealth of information and I might need to read this yearly just to remind myself that it is God who will change my children’s hearts not me.  “Seeking to be faithfully obedient parents is our responsibility; granting faith to our children is his.”  I quickly forget the gospel and slip into methods of parenting that are moralistic or behavior driven.  Grace transforms our parenting because it makes our sin immense in our eyes.

Lord, help me to focus on the Gospel in my parenting and dazzle my kids with your grace.

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Dr. Seuss 1st Birthday

Hard to believe my little Owen is one!  This year has been crazy and I’m glad it is over.  What better way to celebrate that with a party and a little creativity.  I decided on the Dr. Seuss theme because my Mother-in-law gave it as a suggestion.  Once I saw everything I could do, I was hooked!  Here are some of the Decorations:

It was so much fun!  He loved the cupcakes!

We couldn’t have had a better time.  I am so very thankful for my Baby O!

Before Five in A Row

I am excited about a “curriculum” I am going to be doing this fall with my 2 1/2 year old Conner.  It is called Before Five in a Row.  The concept of Five in a Row (FIAR) is to read a story once a day, for five days, and each day look at the story through a different topic or concept.  The teacher’s guide is full of activities to do wit your 2-4 year old child!  I have been getting together all the materials I need and will be starting the first week of September.  I hope to share photos and ideas each week on this blog for anyone who wants to follow along.

New Baby Gear for Owen

So I have gotten some new baby gear that I just love!  I thought I would show it off on my blog for any new mommies that care. Here they are!

               1.  Hugamonkey Sling:

This sling has been an arm-saver.  It is very comfortable and lightweight.  The “stone” color is great because it goes with everything!  The fabric is light and is great for the warm weather we get here in SC.  It is one piece of fabric that requires no folding!  I couldn’t believe how easy it was to use.  The videos on the website are extremely helpful, but cheezy.  My favorite thing is that it is small enough to fit in my purse and pull out if I need it.  That is extremely helpful for when I’m on the go.  Almost all Hugamonkey slings run for around $30.00.  That was the best price around for slings.

 

2. Kidco, Inc. PeaPod 101:

This is a really neat baby product.  My husband and I are planning on a trip to Virginia Beach for the General Assembly of the PCA.  We needed something small to fit in our car (we only drive a Chevy HHR) for baby Owen to sleep in.  I also wanted something I could take to the beach to block the UV rays for the baby.  This was a great 2 in 1 solution.  I actually bought it off of Amazon for around $50.00 and free shipping. (Amazon Prime Membership)  It is really easy to unfold, in fact it opened up so fast it knocked Justin off his feet. 🙂  It also folds up and fits in a small circular bag and weighs less than 5 lbs.  It is really a great item for any mom with a little one who is traveling.  I have a feeling that this is a great investment.  I can’t wait to use it!

And Finally…. this product might be my favorite!

3. Summer Infant Swaddling blanket:

I have always loved to swaddle my boys.  It gives them a signal that tells then it is time to go to sleep.  This works great for nap-time and especially nighttime.  I have always used receiving blankets.  They work fine up until a certain point.  Owen is now “magically” getting out of the blanket swaddle.  I began looking for a solution and came to this product.   Summer Infant has a great product.  It is super easy to use.  The velcro makes it hard for the baby to wiggle out of the blanket.  This is very different to a normal blanket that many babies can magically get out of.  They have many different colors and styles to choose from.   I got both a Small/Medium and a Large because they were buy one get one 50% off at Toys R Us this weekend. I think they are normally priced around $12.00.   So far, Owen has taken a great nap in them!  Maybe this will be the trick to getting him to sleep through the night.  🙂

Cell #1035 aka: Blessings through Raindrops

What a crazy few weeks this has been!  I have felt the feeling of being trapped by my circumstances over the last few weeks.  Recently I was admitted into a hospital and given the room #1035 as my home away from home.  This room became a symbol for the feelings that were inside my heart as I wrestled with God’s plan for my life.

Here is the story:

As some of you know, I was “down for the count” with back pain on Tuesday, March 26th.  I had lifted my 2 1/2 year old son Conner out of the car and pulled a muscle in my back.  I was in such extreme pain that I went into the emergency room where they took one look at me and gave me dilaudid pain medication.  It took the pain away and so they sent me home with a prescription for more pain medicine and told me to rest.  If you know me, I do not “rest” very well.  My back continued to hurt and I began to feel overwhelmed by caring for my toddler son and my 3 week old baby.  My church family rallied around me and came to help, but inside I felt betrayed by my body (and ultimately God).  I wanted to take care of my children.  I wanted to make my house look clean when people came to see the baby.  I wanted to be in control of what was accomplished for the day.  My back would not allow for this.

A few days later, on April 2nd,  I had some more pain in my back but this time it wrapped around to the front.  I took 2 of the pain killers the Dr. had prescribed and waited for the relief.  It never came.  I continued to hurt till finally I turned to my husband and said, “Something is not right.  You need to take me to the emergency room again.”  We quickly found someone to come watch the boys and made our way back to the emergency room.  Inside I was so frustrated.  Why is this happening?  Why can’t I be at home enjoying these first few weeks with my baby?  Why can’t my body behave?  Once again the Dr. saw I was in pain and gave me dilaudid and told me that they thought that the problem was my gallbladder.  I needed to go check into the other hospital emergency room so I could have an ultrasound to check for gallstones.  So, my husband and I headed to the (other) hospital and checked in.  We waited for the ultrasound and sure enough.  The ER Dr. told me that I was “chucked full of gallstones.”  We were then transferred to a different ER room and the surgeon came in and told me that I would probably need to have 2 surgerys.  One to clean out the bile duct of any stones and then they would have to remove my gallbladder.  Needless to say, I was going to be admitted into the hospital.

Saturday night we were told the GI Dr. would be in on Sunday and would talk to us about doing an ERCP to remove the stone from my bile duct and once that was done, we would get my gallbladder out and I could maybe be home by Tuesday afternoon/night.  Justin made a trip home to grab some essentials and then stayed the night with me in my room.  My levels went down over night and I had some relief from the pain.  The GI doctor after looking at my levels thought I passed the stone and wanted to do a less invasive MRI/MCP to check out the bile duct for a stone.  This test could only be done on the weekdays so, it was scheduled for Monday.  We prayed the scan would show no stone and then I could have my gallbladder out on Monday and be on my way.  Monday morning I went for the MRI and no stone could be detected so, I got my gallbladder taken out.  Monday night was horrible.  I was in a lot of pain and the morphine that was prescribed for me was not helping.  I woke up Tuesday having slept very little and had my levels checked.  They had not gone down.  This indicated that in fact there was a stone in my bile duct and so, Wednesday I was going to have the ERCP to remove the stone.  I was mad.  “NO!”  I thought we said it was clear.  This was extremely disappointing to me.  I would have to stay for 2 more days in the hospital.  I never dreamed when I told Justin to take me in on Saturday that I would still be in the hospital that Thursday.

Everything went well with the surgery and I was released Thursday afternoon to be checked in a week.  I went home and saw my boys.  I missed them so much.  I cried and cried.  I was still sore and needed to rest, but I was home.

God’s merciful hand doesn’t always seem merciful when we look at our circumstances.  The singer/songwriter Laura Story has a song called “Blessings.”  Here is a Video &  the Lyrics:

We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

We pray for wisdom
Your voice to hear
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough
All the while, You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

When friends betray us
When darkness seems to win
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home,
It’s not our home

Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy
And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise

Laura Story beautifully brings out an idea that I needed to be reminded of:  God’s ways are higher than my ways.  He loves me and is blessing me even through what feels like a storm.  Through my tears (and even pain), sleepless nights (with a newborn & in the hospital),  greatest disappointments (not being home with my boys, house a wreck) are the ways that he is reminding me to be dependent on HIM.  These trials of life are truly His mercies in disguise.  They draw me to him.  They remind me that I cannot do this life on my own, I need his grace and love.

Lord, I am prone to wander.  I feel it everyday.  I am prone to leave you, the God I Love.  Please take my heart.  Take and seal it.  Seal it for Thy courts above.  I cannot do it.  It must be you.  Lord, here’s my heart.

Holding Baby Owen

Owen Augustine Woodall.  Born on March 9, 2011.  6 lbs  14 oz   19 inches long.

Psalm 139: 13-16 “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

The birth of my second son, Owen, was an incredibility different experience for me.  My 1st delivery was long, painful, and the recovery felt like forever.  Owen’s delivery was the exact opposite.  It was short, not as painful :), and I am feeling great already.  As Psalm 139 states, every moment of Owen’s life is formed by God.  As I sit and rock Owen I find myself praying for him and the struggles that might be ahead for him.  I pray for his relationship with his older brother Conner, for his elementary school days and the dreaded middle school days.  I pray for his high school friends, his dating relationships, and his wife.  Each time of prayer begins with stress about what might come, but then I end remembering that God is the one who ordained his days and He is the one that holds Owen’s life in His hands; Even if I am holding him in mine right now.  Jesus Loves you baby Owen and so does your mama.

Getting close.

It is hard not hard to believe that my due date is only a little over 2 weeks away when you look at my belly.  What to Expect says it is as big as a watermelon right now.  I think they are correct.  The 9th month pains are in full swing.  I am tired, sore, and contracting all the time.  As I anticipate the birth of my 2nd little boy, I am reminded of how out of control I really am.  I would love to know exactly when this little one will arrive.  I would love to know if any complications were ahead and receive a list of everything I am going to need over the next few weeks.  This would be wonderful!  And once again, even typing the words, I am more convicted of my idolatry.  I want to be the one in control, not God.  Lord, I repent.  Help me to draw closer to you and not just my due date.

These last few weeks have not been easy, but I know that the little one growing inside of me has been given to me for a reason.  I am who God saw as the best person for this job despite all my flaws.  I have been chosen, with Justin, to raise this little boy in light of the gospel.  I have a feeling this is going to get harder as the late night feedings begin.  I am going to need reminders of the gospel in my own life.  I will have to ask for forgiveness for many many things.  I will not measure up to the expectations I place on myself.  I will need to turn to my heavenly father for strength, patience, and love.  These are not easy words for me to type because I tend to believe I can do a great many things on my own.  Oh how untrue it is!  I am in desperate need of my husband, of my church family, of my friends, and  especially of my Savior.  I pray that I will listen to the Holy Spirit, especially these next few weeks.

These are my scattered thoughts as I sit (with my feet up) worrying, waiting, and now as I begin praying…

Grace that is Greater than all my Sin

This past week’s Sunday Sermon was incredible.  One of our Pastors, Tim Melton, gave a excellent sermon on Colossians 1:15-19.  During the sermon he talked about how people tend to speak about the verse found in Deuteronomy 5:9 – ” for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me.” as a hopeless decree on parents.  So many times we as moms are worried about messing up our children by our failure to be perfect.  We feel the weight of this verse heavy on our minds as we seek to do our best in parenting, keeping our home clean, being a good wife, etc.  We do not remember how much greater God’s promises are to those who he has chosen.  Pastor Melton took us to Psalm 145 and contrasted it with the idea in Deuteronomy. Psalm 145: 10-13 says,

10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord,
and all your saints shall bless you!
11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom
and tell of your power,
12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.

We as God’s people need to recognize how much greater God’s kingdom is than our sin.  God’s kingdom shall endure throughout ALL generations not just to the 3rd and 4th!  When we speak to our children of what God has done and is doing in our lives we are spreading the kingdom message.  This message will endure throughout all generations.  God will be faithful to his promise in our homes.  We need to understand that we are not our families “Messiah”.  The true Messiah has already come and is a better mother and a better wife than I can possibly be to my family.  These Messianic expectations we place on ourselves of being perfect and raising perfect children, having a perfect husband, etc.  are only hurting the ourselves and the ones we love.

I find myself unable to let this idea sink into my thick skull.  I demand perfection from my 2 year old son Conner, I expect myself to remember everything when I walk out the door, I expect myself to be calm in a stressful situation, to know how to respond to my husband and keep him calm, and I expect God to congratulate me for accomplishing these things.  Do I ever really live up to this laundry list of expectations?  NO!  If I am honest, I don’t meet any of them.  I am in need of God’s grace in my own life.  I am in need of God’s grace in the life of my son Conner.  I am in need of God’s grace in my relationship with my husband.  “Lord, help me!”, should be my cry.  “Your Grace is greater, Your Son is Greater.  Help me to cling to them both.  Help me to understand that Christ is the redeemer, not Angie, and that by HIM and in HIM and through HIM all things will be reconciled.  Not by the striving of myself.  Lord, grant me peace.”  Amen.

Thank you for the reminder Pastor Tim.

Well, here we go!

I have never liked a blank page.  I always find it hard to begin writing without an outline or some sort of beginning point.  Needless to say, the idea of a blog is not on my list of things that “I can’t wait” to do.  Despite that fact, I am trusting that God will use this blog as encouragement for moms who may feel worn out with trying to be “perfect” and a way to share what God has done in my life and is currently doing as I journey through motherhood.  My plan is to focus on book reviews, organization tips, and a little theology to help/inform busy Christian Moms.  So, forgive the bad grammar, poor spelling, the typos, and rambling as I prayerfully embrace this new endeavor that is definitely out of my comfort zone.