Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Turkey Day!

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Taylor, Robin, Seth and Little Bits

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Whitewashed Tombs


I was recently shaken by a conversation I had with the women in my Bible study on Esther  (which is amazing by the way - I highly recommend it!) and after praying through what we talked about, I wanted to share what the Lord's been showing me on the subject.

During our study, one of my friends said her good friend told her that even the "good" girls in the youth group these days are sleeping around, and this broke my heart.  I don't want to accept that for our children!  I agree that our society and culture's morals are declining rapidly, but that doesn't mean our kids are destined for that too.  I'm a "fix-it" type personality so immediately after this was mentioned, I thought, "OK, how do I avoid this for my kids?!"  And ultimately I think it comes down to our definition of "good."  If the "good" kids are doing it, are they really "good"? And if they are "good" is "good" good enough? Seems like that definition is broadening right alongside of the culture's idea of morality. 

But then it struck me.  

I don't want "good" kids.  I want godly kids.  Kids whose deepest desire is to please God first.  True obedience, not compliance. I'm not saying that this equals they'll never mess up.  They will and it may even be sexually though I pray it doesn't, but with godly kids there will be sorrow over sin and repentance for it, and the Lord will redeem it.  I don't just want a "good" kid that follows the rules most of the time, makes me look good, and seems like their OK from the outside.  They may not know Jesus at all:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!  For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and all uncleanness.  So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Matthew 23:27-28

or this especially scary verse in Matthew 22:

19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.20Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demonsin your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'

I want kids whose lives show fruit from their relationship with Jesus.  That aren't just obeying because mom and dad expect it, or because they fear punishment, or because they are trying to earn their salvation which is a pointless pursuit, but because they don't want to lose fellowship in their relationship with the Lord; they want to honor Him above all.

So the big question is - how do we raise godly kids?

This is obviously a huge question and I don't pretend or presume to have this down, but this is where I felt the Lord leading.  

It starts with us.  

We need to ask ourselves are we living lives of whitewashed tombs?  Or is our relationship with Jesus the most important thing in our own life - is He first?  Do I look "good" because I'm spending time with Jesus daily - letting him refine me, letting him prune me so the good fruit can grow - or because I am striving to live a certain way because that is how a Christian is supposed to live?  Kids can spot a hypocrite a mile away.  This doesn't mean that we should be scared that our kids see the "good, the bad and the ugly";  that is inevitable.  But do they see humility with the good or do they see pride?  Do they see remorse and repentance following the bad and ugly or do they see us shrugging it off like it's no big deal?  Are we humble enough to ask their forgiveness when we sin against them?  What about our spouse?

We focused a lot on this when I worked at a Christian school in Charlotte.  It was very important to our head master that we didn't just ask for compliance in the classroom - a whitewashed tomb looks like compliance - but that we looked for true obedience so that we were not fooled by the compliant students (assuming they had a relationship with the Lord just because they acted the right way on the outside) because some compliant, some "good" kids aren't actually Christians at all, but their "good" behavior can be reinforced in such a way by Christian adults that gives them the sense that they are - so scary!  

Being a Christian isn't looking good on the outside, but living a life of repentance from our sin and growth in our relationship with Jesus.  This will lead to "fruit" which makes us look good on the outside.  This ties to parenthood in that when we saw the sin in our students lives, we were challenged to get to the heart of it, not just dole out a punishment for the lying, cheating, name calling etc and continue merrily diagramming the sentence we were in the middle of.  We were to look at the root of the disobedience and walk through it with them (what does shouting at so and so show us about what's going on in your heart? Answer: I am angry or I am impatient etc etc. This reveals to them their sinful heart which ultimately shows their need for a savior - shows them they are not, in fact, good.  When we just punish the behavior and keep going it may change the outward behavior (though many times it won't even do that!), but it may not cause them to reflect on what that behavior shows about the state of their soul which is ultimately what we care about as parents in the first place, right?  It was amazing how effective doing this was for bringing out repentance in these students.  I think using these principals can help us avoid turning our children in to "compliant" "good" kids to truly obedient kids - obeying out of pure motives and more importantly seeing that they need Jesus to save them - they can't earn their salvation by being good.  All of that training came from a book called Shepherding a Child's Heart which I feel like gives us really practical advice in avoiding the "good kid" scenario we were talking about in the youth group.  My sister-in-law is a big proponent of a parenting curriculum called Growing Kids God's Way which helps in raising kids counter-culturally.  And obviously the Bible is our main resource for how to raise our kids!

I'd love any thoughts or resources you have on this subject too since many of you  have way more experience than I do in the parenting arena.  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

It's beginning to look kind of like Christmas

So I meant to take a picture of me and my 21 week bump - how have we already passed the halfway mark?? But I was too busy putting up our Christmas tree.  I know it's shameful to do this before Thanksgiving, but seeing how we live in a place where Thanksgiving doesn't exist, I went for it.

Don't judge.

Now all I need is Pandora, so I can listen to some Christmas music, oh yeah, and hooks so I can actually hang up our ornaments - par for the course or what?  I'd like to blame it on Baby Brain, but we all know better don't we...

Instead I've chosen a photo of me and the hubs (these seem to be few and far between these days - our camera is dominated by Sethers) taken by a friend a couple of Saturdays ago.  We may not have Thanksgiving here, but we do have a castle (that big fortress-y looking thing in the background).

Thanks "Big Seth" for snapping a photo of us!

Embracing the Camera with Emily today...

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


I saw this video on my friend, Caroline's Facebook wall and had to share it! Make sure you watch it till the end.

 I think there might be a good sermon illustration in here somewhere for Taylor...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

180 Movie

A powerful video on the Holocaust - it's 30 minutes long but well worth it.

Warning: there is a public advisory as it includes graphic content

Friday, November 4, 2011

Little Bits is a...

Healthy baby!  Praise the Lord!

Unfortunately, the ultrasound technician was unable to tell us whether Little Bits is a boy or girl.  I believe her exact words were, "I'd rather not say..."

What?!  I know your next question is when is your next ultrasound?  And the answer in this socialised medical system is never.  So now we're praying about if we are going to pay for an extra ultrasound to get another look.  Taylor was not-so-secretly thrilled that we didn't find out, so time will tell...

But even though I like the suspense and am usually not a planner {insert whiny and ungrateful voice here}, I want to know!  I want to know whether or not I need to bring all of Seth's newborn - 3 month clothes back or if I need to borrow girl clothes from my sister-in-law.

But I also know that the Lord wasn't surprised that this happened.

That maybe I'm supposed to wait even though every practical and selfish bone in my body (and there are many folks) is yearning to know.  As much as this is true, I don't want to go full throttle into "fix it" mode.  Into "getting my way is the right way" mode. Maybe we are supposed to find out soon, and maybe we're not.  All I know for right now is that I'm supposed to wait.


Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him...
Psalm 37:7a

He wants me to stop.  Don't skip over the news that the baby's healthy and go straight to boy or girl.


Your baby is healthy. Alive.

Are you grateful?

I know what it's like to come away from the 20 week ultrasound without a healthy baby, so it's not lost on me that my focus has been directed to what I do know about Little Bits.

He is healthy, his heart is beating, his systems are functioning normally.

For this I am thankful.  I don't take it for granted.

But maybe I would have if we had found out the gender.  Maybe my mind would have gone straight to Pottery Barn Kids and the stocking I had picked out for "Jack" or "still haven't agreed on a girl's name yet," or to planning out his birth announcement, or getting ready for her "Sprinkle."  Maybe that is where my heart would be instead of completely grateful for a healthy child, for the dream of a full term birth that ends in taking home a baby instead of leaving empty-handed.  Maybe I wouldn't have stopped to realize how many prayers (especially in 2009) have gone answered, how many promises fulfilled by God to me in the health of this baby.

"Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me..." 
Isaiah 49: 15-16

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORDthe fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
Psalm 127:3-5

So we will wait, but the waiting isn't empty, it's full of gratitude to the Lord whose mercy truly is new every morning. Praise Him.

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:17-18

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Mama is NOT a potty word...

In my mind, I have always been adamant about only having to change one set of diapers (unless the Lord gave us twins), but with Little Bits' arrival being sooner than I planned - Seth will only be 21.5 months old then - this may be a harder task than I originally envisioned.  I've heard that not only are boys typically harder to potty train, but that the average age for American boys to be potty trained is 2.5 to 3 years old. That is a lot of diapers between March and next December.  I say "American" boys because come to find out from my missionary friend who lives in Africa, and my Chinese friend, in those countries, babies are potty trained a lot earlier.

Like by the time they're walking.

Well Seth's not African or Chinese, but he is walking, so maybe...

With all of this wishful thinking, I got on to buy a potty for Seth, so he can start getting used to the idea.  He already knows the word potty and a few other bathroom related words (much to my chagrin when we're in public - especially when it's in conjunction with sitting at a table in a restaurant). It was an accident! (No pun intended...)

You see, I ask him from time to time if he has a poopy diaper.  Like when a cloud appears behind him and I get a not so pleasant especially when pregnant whiff of well, you know.  So now, being the thoroughly advanced toddler boy that he is, whenever he does indeed have a poopy, he gets my attention by patting me on the knee saying, "Mama,"  and then he reaches for the front of his diaper and exclaims, "Poopy!" really expectantly. Hence the embarrassment when this happens in public.

If Taylor is home when this charade goes on, I proceed to ask Seth, "who do you want to change your diaper?  Mama or Dada?"  Inevitably, "Dada" wins out because, well, that's his favorite word besides car and tractor.  If I give him a photograph that includes me, Seth will name every person he knows in it except for me.
If I ask him, "where is Dada?"  He points to Taylor.
If I ask him, "where is Seth?" he points to himself.
If I ask him, "where is Baby?" he points to his belly.
If I ask him, "where is Mama?"  he points again to himself.

Now the other day he took this to a whole new level.  I mean do we have a sanguine, extrovert or what?


It's Saturday morning and Taylor and I are finishing cleaning up after breakfast and Seth is running around the kitchen grabbing any leftover plates, utensils, cups that are mistakenly left too close to the table's edge when all of a sudden he stops, grabs his diaper and shouts, "Poopy!"  

Both Taylor and I snap to attention and as soon as Seth notices we're both looking at him, he looks back and forth from me to Taylor, throws his arm into the air pointing at Taylor and says, "Dada!"

We both about fell on the floor rolling with laughter.  And Taylor got the esteemed honor of changing the diaper.

That kid is a fast learner. So maybe this potty training will be no problem...right?

Well, yesterday the potty came in the mail, and Seth LOVES it.  Loves it so much he immediately named it.  He named the potty.  He is 16 months old.  You'll never guess what he calls it...


That's right.  You heard read me. 

I'm not sure if I should be honored or horrified. So I guess I'll just stay a little bit of both.

"Mama" the Froggy Potty and Seth the comedian

Have a great day, y'all!