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…

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I’m Amazed

 

I recently found this song & the lyrics in a book I am reading.  It encouraged by heart.  I hope it encourages yours.

 

I’m Amazed

I have felt so much darkness, I’ve lived in such despair

As I’ve struggled with my weaknesses and the burdens that I bear.

But then I hear a whisper.  Something says Your name.

I lift my eyes and see the cross that takes away my shame!

 

And I’m amazed that You love me!

I’m amazed that you care!

I’m amazed at Your compassion!

There’s nothing that compares to the mercy You’ve shown me!

I’ve never known such grace!

And I want to just say, “Thank You! and tell You, “I’m amazed!”

I’ve had questions inside me.  I’ve struggled with such doubt.

Could this really be the answer?  Is this what life’s about?

but then I look to Jesus–God’s embodied love,

The unearned gift for all mankind, a pardon from above!

 

Could it be that you could really love me?

Do You really value me so much?

And can it be that I could even finally rest from striving

And let You heal me with Your gentle tough?!

By Dan Adler

Here is a recording on youtube.

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.

Book Review: Families Where Grace is In Place

Families Where Grace is In Place: Building a Home Free of Manipulation, Legalism, and Shame by Jeff VanVonderen

I have just finished reading this book on Parenting.  It is an excellent book for Christian parents that have felt like or been taught that performance is the way to sanctification. In this book VanVonderen paints a beautiful picture of how God’s grace can transform a shame-based relationship into one full of grace. He focuses on marriage, children, & the home.  This is not another how-to-have-a-perfect-family book.  In VanVonderen’s own words, “this book is more about learning the right job, and less about learning new techniques. The first step is easy – if we will do it: We must learn the simple difference between God’s job and ours. God’s job is to fix and change. Our job is to depend, serve, and equip.”

I love that he begins the book by examining the relationship between husband and wife.  Change needs to between that relationship first in the home.  He explains the curse found in Genesis when Adam & Eve sinned.  He shows us that the same curse continues to be the thing battle with in our home.  Curse filled homes leave everyone involved feeling tired.  I found that I could identify with those feelings in my own life as I struggle with being the “perfect mother” and “perfect wife”.  As wives, always trying to “cover up” or hide our flaws, or even our husband’s/children’s flaws is a hard job and one we are not meant to do.  We miss out on the relationships and focus on the performance and what we can control.  Instead, we are to view our loved ones through the lens of grace.  VanVonderen points out that children have three basic needs: to know they are loved with no strings attached, to know that they are valuable and capable, and to know that they are not alone to face life.  I had not thought about those three things as being essential for my relationship with my son.

I felt that the Part III of the book was a little lacking.  VanVonderen did a great job at describing the curse-full home and helping me realize the patterns that I have in my own home/life in Part I & Part II.  I would have liked to see him expound upon the contrasts between the Curse-full home and the Grace-full home.  Although short, Part III definitely gave me things to think about and apply in my home.  VanVonderen says, “In curse-full relationships, rules and performance take the place of people and needs. In a family that seeks to be a place of grace, relationships are there to make sense of the rules. A grace-full family is the place where people can do the job of learning to live without the fear of losing love and acceptance if the job gets too messy.”  This is the heart of the message in this book.

I would recommend this book to any Christian husband or wife that was raised in a performance based home to read this book and take to heart what Jeff VanVonderen says.  He is truly a gifted communicator and can encourage our TIRED hearts and direct them toward the one who can fix and change our homes.  I truly believe, with VanVonderen, that healthy relationships between husband and wife, between parents and children, are possible only when God’s grace is the lens in which we view the processes of marriage and parenting.  Romans 5:8 says, “..but God shows his love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  God didn’t wait for us to be worthy of his grace and love, he chose to give it to us while we were still sinners.  This is the reason that we can extend our love to our husbands, wives, or children even when they mess up.  Thank you Jesus.

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.

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