Thursday, March 29, 2012

Free e-book on infertility

Go to Amazon to get this e-book for free: "How My Soul Yearns: How God brought me through infertility and beyond."

If you don't have a Kindle, you can download software to read this book on your PC.


Monday, March 26, 2012

An Easter Challenge



Last year I offered up an Easter challenge to my blog readers, and I will do so again this year. 


Here's what it involves:
1. Read two chapters in the book of Luke for the 12 days prior to Easter. Just in case you're not sure about reading all of Luke, our speaker at church on Sunday said Luke is her favorite gospels (and she has her doctorate in New Testament!). It's a great read and covers the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus!  

2. Start reading on Tuesday and finish Luke the day before Easter. Or, begin reading on Wednesday and finish the last two chapters Easter morning. Another option: you can start on Tuesday and still save the last chapter (Jesus' resurrection) for Easter morning.

3. 
Leave a simple "I'm in" comment if you're up for the challenge. Know that I'll be praying for each one of you who takes up the challenge.

These days it is so easy for me to pick up my Nook, or one of the books from the library, or a book I've borrowed from a friend, and read page after page after page. I can cuddle in my bed, snuggle on the couch or soak in the bath tub and stay up far too late reading to my heart's content.

This Easter, I am committed to taking the time to read 24 chapters about the life and death and resurrection of Jesus. If you haven't read the Bible, start here. If you read it regularly, challenge yourself to read it through new eyes with a heart open to what God wants to say to you. Read it online, on your phone or open up the pages of God's Word and soak in the greatest story ever told.


Friends, e v e r y t h i n g I believe about my faith hinges on the fact that I serve and love a living, risen Savior. He defeated death. 
My faith is not based on good fortune, positive vibes, saints, prophets or the like. I have a relationship with the living God. I believe and trust and live for Christ alone. 

Together lets make Easter about more than just pictures, dressing up, being with family, Easter baskets, egg hunts, and even attending a church service. Preparing our hearts and minds to remember the greatest single act of love in human history--the death of Jesus--followed by the most miraculous event--the resurrection of Jesus--cannot be done on Easter morning.

Lets do it together! Are you in? 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Princesses and Barbies

I have a strong belief about princesses and Barbies. I don't know why I feel the need to share this belief with all of you, but I do. 

This isn't a deep, life-changing belief, but it's something I'm committed to. Ever since the Lord brought a little girl into our family I have a strong conviction:

We don't do princesses. Or Barbies.


I'm not sure I can clearly articulate why it is that I feel strongly about this, but I'll try. 

Here's what I mean when I say we don't do princesses or Barbies: we don't currently watch princess movies in our home (nor will we consume them on a regular basis in the future) and I have no plans to bring Barbie dolls into my house. 


That said, and to be completely honest and transparent, I played with Barbies growing up and Little Mermaid was one of my favorite movies (Ariel was a mermaid but her father was a King so that definitely makes her a princess).

I'm not saying Lauren won't ever see Little Mermaid or a princess movie, but here's what I do know: I do not want my daughter being inundated with media messages about her body, her relationships or her need for a man in order to be happy. I believe that low self esteem, eating disorders, and finding value and worth in a man result from the media messages being communicated to women and girls every day. 


I know that many would argue against this, stating that it's just fun for girls to be entertained and dream about being a princess....but there are many underlying messages we need to be aware of.

Although I was exposed to these things as a young girl, I need to point out that the type and quantity of media from the 70s and 80s is very different than it is today. The messages kids are absorbing today--whether that's through entertainment, advertisements or merchandising-- makes me a concerned mama.

I have told family members not to buy princess-themed toys or clothing and they have respected that. I love imagination and creativity and we dress up in our home.....but our dress up characters are not beauty queens and princesses. Lauren does have a few princess PJs that have been donated to us and she wears them. She doesn't know their names or the movies they represent and I am thankful for that. 

There is so much I could unpack here, but I guess what I really want to say is that there is a battle going on daily for the mind's of my children. And American media tries its hardest to send messages about what my children should think, feel and believe--about themselves and about others. We only watch PBS for a number of reasons, and one of them is because it limits their exposure to commercials

The media sends messages through television, movies, commercials, magazines, and images everywhere. Tall, thin and beautiful = happiness. Dependency on a male = security.

For the most part, I have not struggled with my self image in my life and for that I am very grateful. I am independent and confident and I pray that Lauren will be as well. 


I pray often that my children would find their identity in Christ and Christ alone. I pray that for Samuel because he is adopted and because of the questions he may have some day surrounding his adoption. I pray that for Lauren because she is a female and our society preaches that identity is found in fashion, beauty and wealth. 

My hope is that parents who do choose to let their children watch princess movies talk about these movies with their children as well as provide educational material for them to watch to balance out the messages being presented. Letting children watch them for entertainment purposes while helping them understand the messages the movies may be sending is a crucial  step.

Do I think an occasional princess movie is harmful and damaging? Probably not. But I think the consumerism involved with princess movies and the immersion in these messages beginning at a young age is then followed by playing with Barbies and then shopping at Justice....and that's just not a place I want to go.

Maybe I'm a mom filled with irrational fears, but I've decided we're steering clear of Belle, Snow White, Jasmine, Cinderella and the like.
 

All this to say, I do think the number one influencer in a child's life is his or her parents. It is my role and responsibility to teach my daughter that her identity is to be found in Christ. I can affirm her intelligence, looks, abilities, strengths, and character. I can speak words of life into her. 

But what she believes about herself and who God created her to be, and what information she retains, will be so much greater if I can lessen the messages our media is sending to her daily.

If you are interested, check out Little girls or little women? The Disney princess effect


Friday, March 23, 2012

Brokenness

"Each of us has something broken in our lives:
a broken promise, a broken dream, a broken marriage,
a broken heart . . . and we must decide how we’re
going to deal with our brokenness."

—Luci Swindoll

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
 `Psalm 147:3

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Behold, I make all things new

I rode the bus to work this morning and saw green grass sprouting up everywhere. That fresh grass spoke powerfully to me about the God I serve - the God who makes all things new.

As we turn the page on the calendar and
the winter season comes to an end in Minnesota (a very mild winter season), we welcome spring and with it the promise of new life and that we are a new creation in Christ. Spring is a time that bursts forth with new life. 

Fresh, vibrant blades of grass confirm this:


He takes our old and makes it new. 


Spring is the perfect time to go before God and readily give him our old: old habits, patterns, thoughts....and we can believe and claim the truth of His Word that He will take our old and make it into something beautiful. Something full of fresh, vibrant life. Something new.

Only God has the ability to do that. Only God can bring forth new life. No one else can make the grass grow, the flowers bloom, the sun shine, the rain pour down.

Today is the first day of spring and I am choosing to believe God's promises about making all things new:

2 Corinthians 5:17--Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come.

Revelation 21:5--And he that sat upon the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new." And he said unto me, "Write: for these words are truth and faithful."


The old has gone, the new has come! What a precious and powerful promise to claim on this spring day. Don't just read those words friends, but live. them. out. Believe them and let that belief lead to life change.

We've all heard the following song many times, but the lyrics continue to speak truth about our God who makes all things new:

"you redeem and transform, you renew and restore..."

We serve a God who redeems and transforms, who renews and restores. Amen!


So on this spring day, crank the music up loud. Dance around your home, or put the headphones on at the office and praise our God who makes all things new. Worship the One who takes our old and replaces it with new. Praise the One who brings forth new life. Give thanks to the One who doesn't leave us holding onto our old, but gently unfolds each day and the promise of new life in Him.



Friday, March 16, 2012

All about Samuel

Samuel eating "frosty's" carrot when we were building a snowman...




A couple months back we had some homework for my mom's group at church. We were studying and discussing a series called Grace-Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel.

Everyone in the group was challenged to think about what their children are particularly good at and how God might use that to fulfill His purpose in their life. 


I've been thinking about these for some time, and wanted to write them down. This is a good exercise - if you have children, pray about your children's strengths and how God might use those strengths for His glory.

Today I'll capture Samuel's strengths:

Imagination: This kid has an imagination like no other. Every time we're in a parking lot he says, "Run mommy run. The dinos are chasing us!" He is really into space shuttles these days and has turned his airplane toy into a spaceship and frequently asks us to count backwards for 'blast off.' He can turn just about anything into a drumstick and creates play from the most random household items. His creativity and imagination has no limits at this age.

Energetic: Samuel is a mover. He goes and goes and goes. He moves from one toy to another quickly, from one project to another and doesn't stop all day long until he crashes at night. Unless he is sitting for a book or a movie, he rarely sits. We often find him running laps from our front door to our back door. He climbs, runs, and jumps non-stop, and his little body is long, lean and all muscle as a result.

Curious: Samuel is observant, aware and asks so many questions. He wants to know how things work, why they do what they do, and in general, why, why, why. When he has heard the answer he still asks again. He is intrigued by toys and projects that he doesn't understand, but he bores quickly with them once he's figured them out. When we read about Jesus the questions are endless (and I frequently don't have answers). He challenges me daily with his questions and interest in the world around him.

Social: Samuel loves to be by people. Loves, loves, loves. He has a hard time playing by himself for any length of time because he desires to be close in proximity to others. He gives frequent hugs and wants us to play with him non-stop. He will often grab his blanket and come sit on the kitchen floor while I do dishes - just to be close to me. We try to do 'room time' where the kids have to play in their rooms while we shower or clean up, and it's really tough for Samuel to be alone. God definitely created this little man to be in community with others. 


Tenderhearted: Samuel has a way with babies and kids smaller than him. He has a very gentle side that comes out when he puts his hands on their faces or his arm around them. He loves gum and that was his reward for potty training. He still gets gum after using the bathroom, but he only gets a half piece at a time. The other day he said to me, "I am going to leave this gum here for daddy the next time he goes potty." He is crazy about his dad. I yelled at him this week when he threw a toy and he burst into tears and cried, "You really really hurt my feelings." It about broke my heart. He tells us many times a day that he loves his mommy and daddy.

We love you too little man. We love you too! And we can't wait to see how God uses you for His good and His glory. May we see you through His eyes and may His love for you encourage you to be who He has created you to be. It is a joy, a privilege and a challenge to raise you Samuel and we thank God daily for the opportunity to do so. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Challenge of Choices

Long ago my mother-in-law gave me the following list of questions to reference for decision-making. I have found it to be incredibly valuable throughout the years. I have been looking at these questions and thinking through them as Ryan and I come to a point in our lives where we need to make a decision about his future career. I hope these questions will be useful to you whenever you come to a crossroads...big or small. 


The Challenge of Choices

First determine:

What is my 'calling' for the season of life I am in?
What is most important to me right now?
How has God uniquely gifted me ?


Great questions to ask:
Is the 'choice' in keeping with the season of my life that I am in?
Have I prayed about my choices?
Am I waiting patiently?
How does my choice affect others?
What really excites me to do this?
If I say 'yes' to this, what am I saying 'no' to?
Do I have the resources to pursue this choice? (money, energy, time?)
What am I afraid of?
Do I have all the information I need to make a good decision?
How do I trust the Lord for what I need in making this choice?


Here's one additional question that might be useful as well:

The Best Question Ever

Andy Stanley wrote a book called The Best Question Ever based on Ephesians 5:15 "Be very careful, then, how you live - not as unwise, but as wise." He says to ask this question when making decisions: What is the wise thing for me to do, in light of my past experience, my present circumstances and my future hopes and dream?  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Life!

Life has been filled with lots of activity lately and I haven't made time to blog. I've been:

...celebrating 11 years of marriage

...talking with and praying for my husband as we consider a new potential career change (more on this in the coming weeks)

...interviewing preschools and childcare in preparation for my husband to hopefully return to work


...trying to balance working three days a week and caring for my family and home (got any tips?)


...reading Building a Discipling Culture and In Defense of Food (what are YOU reading? I would love to know)


...getting back into a regular exercise routine (it's been far too long). Kettlebells anyone?


...creating weekly meal plans to help reduce dinner-time stress and use up food in our pantry and freezers 

...talking with friends whom I adore and feel so privileged to share in their lives

...enjoying the recording-breaking warm weather we've been having in my state

...rocking out at a Lady Antebellum concert (had to throw this in here - early birthday gift and SO fun!)

...cherishing the unexpected, daily kairos moments with my children


...pondering what an abundant life with Jesus looks like as I prepare to enter the 36th year of my life!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Big IF: Facing Infertility with Faith



The Big IF: Facing Infertility with Faith
Article by April Motl from Crosswalk.com:

IF. Stands for infertility. A big ugly word that hangs over the hearts of more than seven million people. It’s also a complicated word. It’s a word that lots of people think is an easy fix when it’s not. It’s a turn-your-world-on-it’s-head word. A word that simultaneously brings silence and shouting to deep places in one’s soul. A word that touches things inside you that you didn’t want to be touched.


And it’s not the end of the story.


As my husband and I have traveled this road of waiting to have a baby, of doctor’s appointments, prayer, seeking, hoping, reading and studying, charting temperatures and unmentionables, and buying an insane amount of pregnancy tests, we’ve learned things about God, about each other, about ourselves and about the power of empty places.


God does amazing things in and through empty places.


•  The bottom of an empty well was the beginning of Joseph's destiny (Genesis 37:24).

•  A poverty stricken widow with children’s mouths to fill was at the end of her rope and found hope when God sent provision through Elisha and some empty jars. (2 Kings 4:3-7).

•  The best of all the "empty" things in Scripture is the empty tomb (Luke 22:12).  The empty tomb means that Christ could not be held by the power of death and that He was indeed the sacrifice to end all sacrifices so that we might have forgiveness from our sins (Hebrews 10:10).


Now we, "know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. He paid for you with the precious lifeblood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God" 1 Peter 1:18-19 NLT.  Empty things no longer have a hold on our new life in Christ!

Through the wrestling with emotions, laboring in prayer and the intensity of this journey, we’ve sought to lift up this empty place in our lives to let God do with it what He wanted.


Whether your wait for a baby feels like an eternity or has just begun, the issue of infertility or struggling to conceive reaches far and wide across our identities, relationships with friends and family, our marriage and even our relationship with God.  And while the process hurts beyond description, if we let Him, God can do a beautiful work through all of it.


Consider the following stories from Scripture:


Ruth had been widowed at a young age. Her devotion to God led her to follow her also widowed mother-in-law back to the homeland of Israel. Ruth would always be a Moabite to the Jews - a foreigner. She couldn’t let herself dream of a husband, let alone ever having a baby. She would do well just to be able to work hard enough to feed herself and Naomi. But God had a plan. He blessed her with a good man, a son and a place in the lineage of Christ. His hand filled her emptiness and her life reflected His goodness.


A barren couple went about life as usual. The chores. The work. The wishing for a baby couldn’t be silenced, but what could they do? Manoah and his wife had no choice but to plug along and make do. Then one day an angel of the Lord appeared to Manoah’s wife and promised her a baby. Not just any baby, but one with a special destiny. He would rescue Israel from her enemies. He would be a mighty warrior and judge. He would be Samson. And this couple would raise him in an unusual way to prepare him for all that God had in store for him.


Scripture records Elkanah and Hannah, Zacharias and Elizabeth, Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah as also being couples that God prepared for parenting a special child by giving them a long season of barrenness.


I don’t know what God has planned for our family or yours, but I do know that He doesn’t waste our pain. He has collected every tear (Psalm 56:8) we cried as another month passed into another year without a baby. He has seen the longings of our hearts.


God might be preparing us to parent a child with a special destiny like the parents from the above scripture passages. He also might have a great purpose for us to live out without having children of our own.


He makes the barren woman abide in the house

As a joyful mother of children.

Praise the LORD! Psalm 113:9 NAS


There are kids at church, teens in your neighborhood, babies in foster care and adoption centers and children waiting to be “adopted” through organizations like Compassion. Now, I’ve been the recipient of a fair amount of comments like, “just adopt.” Some of us with empty cradles feel led to adopt, some of us don’t. Some of us have tried and had the door shut. So I’m not throwing out some simple-fix answer. Just reminding us all that there might be things God has for us to accomplish without children of our own so that we might bless His children. Paul referred to Timothy as a spiritual son. Children can come in a variety of ways. Can you imagine with some seven million people in the U.S. alone (as of the most recent available stats) who sought IF treatments, if we all prayed for direction to know how to bless just one of God’s kids what a difference He might make in this world through our “emptiness”?


Whether God fills your family with blessed little ones or fills your heart with His children, I pray that you and your spouse would be comforted with the truth that God sees you, that He loves you, that you are not forgotten and that He has a plan - a good, wonderful, gracious plan.


The author has an ebook for the Kindle: Waiting for God to Fill the Cradle

Thursday, March 1, 2012

One less orphan in China

Can't help watching this video and reading this post over and over again. It is such a BEAUTIFUL thing when God brings a family together in a way that only He could have ordained. 

Here's an update from China:

http://coleman-bunkbeds.blogspot.com/2012/02/life-is-beautiful.html