I am fearfully and wonderfully made

birdbath1Photo credit Michael and Diane Porter

I must have been five or six, visiting my nana, I don’t remember much but I know she lived in a small two story house somewhere in the Northeast. I don’t recall going there often or even having been there before that time. It was winter, or maybe spring. I know it was wet. We had been stuck in the house for sometime and so when the sunshine made its appearance I hurried outside to play. I was quickly greeted by a neighbor girl who took no time in becoming my best friend. We laughed and giggled as we chased each other around a large white birdbath.

After a few minutes of us running, we stopped to catch our breath and she turned to me and asked me why my skin was so brown.

I believe it was one of those defining moments in my life. I remember looking down at my tanned colored arms as if looking at them for the first time, and not knowing the answer to this question, I shrugged.

I can’t tell you how the rest of our play time went, or if there was any more discussion of the matter, but my next memory is of my little body pressed up against a white pedestal sink in my nana’s little bathroom with my arms stretched out in the water and a bar of white ivory soap. With childlike faith I believed that if I lathered up enough white soapy foam onto my arms, my skin would turn the same color as this little neighbor girls.

This isn’t a painful memory, although it’s an uncomfortable one. It used to bring many questions about who I am, and I used to wonder if my skin was all anyone ever saw. Did others too have questions?

Often when I look at my oldest daughter, that memory presents itself. I see her beautiful brown eyes and the same tanned skin and I wonder, will she too encounter a little girl that will unknowingly ask her a question that will forever haunt her? Will she too feel imperfect? Suffer from the same insecurities?

 

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. Psalm 139

It’s a verse we talk about often. It’s the one, once I knew Christ, that I found comfort in. I love the diversity of God’s creation; I love the rich history that comes from our differences. I love that God knew before we were even formed in our mother’s womb that we would be all that we are. He paid special attention to our every attribute and chose our personalities and the Bible even tells us he took the time to place us exactly where he wants us in history!

I can only pray that these truths would be steeped deep in her heart. And if/when she is asked the question she can say with confidence; I am who I am because this is who God created me to be. And she can know in her heart that God doesn’t make mistakes.

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You before me

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We have a selfishness problem. It has slowly been creeping in and taking over our lives. It’s been left unaddressed for too long. I’m not talking about the overt kind of selfishness. The one where you don’t share your toys, or your snacks. The kind I’m talking about goes deeper. It begins in the heart.

It rears it’s ugly head when we least expect it. During family game time, while eating dinner, at church, while shopping, hanging out with friends, even during prayer. 

It’s often so obscure it can be brushed off as irrelevant. But I know it’s there.

I struggle with it too.

It’s the idea that my needs are more important than yours at any given time. That what I have to say is more important, more interesting and needing your complete attention- right now.  It’s believing that I’m better than you or that I can do something better than you can. It’s wondering what you can do for me. Feeling the need to be first. Worried that there won’t be enough. Excluding others for my benefit. It’s thanklessness.

It’s a heart issue.

We are on a mission to change. To be intentional with our words and actions. We are looking to God’s word for help.

Proverbs 4:11 says I instruct you in the way of wisdom and lead you along straight paths.

James MacDonald in his bible study Lord Change My Attitude shares how having a selfless love is a giving love. He says “To often when people use the word love, what they’re really saying is, “I feel something.” Tragically, what people often mean when they say, I Love you, is not I’ve made a commitment to place your needs above my own, but instead, I love what you do for me. You make me feel good. You are working right now for the person I love most –Me. That isn’t love; that’s selfishness.”

We have taken this to heart. It’s written on our kitchen pantry door.

You before Me

It’s become a place to dialogue for us. A reference point. Right there next to our memory verses.

God’s word changes us. Love changes us. I’m ready.

Angela

Etiquette and Encouragement with Esther

This past weekend the girls and I enjoyed a wonderful mother daughter tea party. We had a lovely speaker, wonderful food and a great time of fellowship. Our Speaker started out sharing the story of Esther with our girls, explaining to them why etiquette was important and the steps Esther had to go through in order to be chosen as the queen. We then went outside to our tea party where she taught them simple etiquette skills like how to sit down at a table and get in and out of a car with a dress on, how to fold your napkin onto your lap, and eat a sandwich? Yes. She taught them the proper way for a lady to eat a large sandwich is to carefully tear it apart into small pieces as you are eating.

After we were served our meal she shared with us mommies some encouraging words about motherhood and biblical sisterhood. It was great refreshment for my soul.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the idea of morning and afternoon tea times. Sitting with a good friend and chatting about life, offering each other encouragement and sharing in our struggles.  Doesn’t it just seem like time was simpler back then, quieter and slower? I need some of that in my life.

I’m thinking of incorporating a little bit of tea time with our children during the week. I have a good friend who has a “tea party” with her children during story time. How fun! What a lovely time to sit and chat about all things important. We could do this during our devotions, or story time, or just for fun. I won a cute little tea set at the tea party that will be perfect for this!

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Tea is a cup of life. ~Author Unknown

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There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. ~Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady

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The mere chink of cups and saucers tunes the mind to happy repose. ~George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft

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Manners maketh man- William of Wykeham

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Etiquette means behaving yourself a little better than is absolutely essential. –Will Cuppy

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Remember the tea kettle – it is always up to its neck in hot water, yet it still sings! ~Author Unknown

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Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things. ~Author Unknown

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A daughter is the happy memories of the past, the joyful moments of the present, and the hope and promise of the future. ~Author Unknown

A season of Thankfulness

Weary, exhausted, irritable, apathetic, depressed, humbled, thankful, blessed, joyful, peaceful. Just a few of the many emotions that have traveled through my life these past few months. I am a mother of a baby once again. Life is different with a baby. Not bad different, just different. Changed but still the same. We are starting to come out of that newborn haze that traps all parents of new babies for what seems like eternity but is but for a season, and for that I’m thankful. I have been thankful for those mornings where I have had to lean into my Savior just a little bit more for the strength and grace to get me through the day, for the reminder that this is indeed the child that I prayed for and the knowledge that my God is good. All the time. I am grateful for the opportunity once again to fellowship with other new moms as we pass encouragement on to one another, as well as relive the details of this stage with more seasoned mothers. I believe there is nothing that draws women closer outside of Christ than our connection through children. I feel blessed that God has given me yet another arrow for His kingdom, although at the same time the responsibility weighs heavily on me. I am working my way into this new season with another child, trying to find my place- my new rhythm, working on letting go of the unimportant and holding on to the lasting.

Christmas Advent

Every year we try to do something as a family that would keep the true meaning of Christmas at the center of the season. The last two years we have done the Jesse tree, I love the idea of the Jesse tree but the readings were long, and I think some of the meaning got lost, so this year we put it aside and tried something else. We may go back to it when the children are little older. So this year I went on a search for something that would be a better fit for our family. I came across several devotion books that looked wonderful but not being much of a planner I was running out of time. Then I happened upon several blogs that were promoting a devotional called Truth in the Tinsel 

I looked at a sample lesson and thought we would give it a try. So far we have loved doing the nightly devotions. It is age appropriate and there is a simple craft to go with each story. We haven’t been able to do the craft every night but my goal is to be able to do a few a week. All of the children seem to really enjoy the time and I love how easy it is. It doesn’t require a big time committment and usually only takes us about 10-15 minutes a night.

And the Lord God said “Be fruitful and multiply”

We are expecting again!!! We couldn’t be any more excited! Ok, well I couldn’t any way. Steven is taking it easy and although I can’t say he was ever moved to emotion over any of our pregnancies, I think he might be a little excited about this one too (well, at least he’s not freaking out anyway)

In a way I feel like I have waited for this baby in as much anticipation as I did our first. I knew I wanted more, but I didn’t know if God would bless us with another child into our family. At the same time I was yearning for that sweet smell of a newborn I was also preparing my heart to be content with the beautiful children he has already given us.

In May I thought I was pregnant and my heart and mind quickly got prepared to welcome another child. I raced through {in my head} everything that needed to be done and mentally began preparing for what another life would mean to this family. When I found out I wasn’t pregnant I was devastated, (silently) and for only a short time. This is when I realized that I think I really do want another baby, but maybe God had other plans for our life. And so I began the part of really coming to terms with the family God had so lovingly already blessed us with.

You can imagine my surprise and delight when by the end of the next month I begin to expect once again that I might be pregnant, but I chose to go forward with much caution, then when I couldn’t take it anymore I ran and got a pregnancy test. It came out invalid! This gave me time to stop and really pray. When Steven got home that night I told him that I thought I might be pregnant and in regular “Steven” fashion, he kind of smiled and said “Well, it was bound to happen”. They were the words my heart needed to hear, Those simple, silly words told me that everything was going to be ok and I began to get excited again. I soon took another test and with a positive result we began to prepare for the idea of another child joining our family.

We chose to keep the pregnancy a super secret between us, until after our first official doctors appointment. Today was that day for us. We were able to see our new baby on the ultrasound and the reality of it became just a little more real. We are having another baby! We are going to have another BABY! And I couldn’t be more excited.

My sanctuary

It’s just a chair. Nothing spectacular. But it’s my favorite spot in the whole house. It sits in the living room right next to the kitchen, right in the middle of all that happens in our house.  It’s not the place I go to get away (That place doesn’t exist in our house) but it is the place I go to be renewed. My Bible sits right next to it on the table, always within arms reach- ready at a moments notice to offer this weary mommy some encouragement or even some gentle discipline. My journal and bible study books  sit on the floor next to the table in a basket slightly hidden out of the reach of curious little fingers.

My little sanctuary is where I go each morning before the house has awoken, and helps me prepare for the beginning of the day. It’s where God greets me and sweet fellowship begins. It could happen anywhere, but here is where it happens best.

For other great quiet time ideas check out Granola Mom for God