Friday, July 25, 2014

Give them Grace

Our recent Florida vacation afforded me time to start reading the first of those Christian parenting books you all recommended. I just finished Give Them Grace: Dazzling Your Kids with the Love of Jesus, by Elyse Fitzpatrick, and I highly recommend it to Christians with kids or who want kids — heck, there was so much Gospel in this book that I recommend it to those people who don't even know Jesus.

This book was all about the irresistible love of Christ and His inexplicable grace for us. Staring hard into the plan of redemption and salvation will change your heart — certainly the way you parent. The book had encouraging quotes like, "Believe that God is strong enough to save your children, no matter how you fail."

"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2Corinthians2:9

The authors talk about two kinds of children: The rule follower and rule breaker and how each equally need Jesus. I am the oddball who identifies with both of these. I grew up trying to please my parents by following all the rules. I worked so hard at attaining my own salvation that, when that plan failed, I opted for rebellion. So, quotes from this book like, "She needs to hear that her desire to prove her own worthiness is one of the greatest hindrances to faith that she'll ever face," really speaks to the ache that remains in my heart from trying so hard to be God.

"Jesus Christ loves both rule breakers and rule keepers. And because of his Son's perfect obedience, both of them can be called 'beloved sons.' When the believing rule breaker sins he can look up and say, 'Jesus is my righteousness.' And when the believing rule keeper realizes her self-righteousness, she too can look up and say, 'Jesus is my righteousness.'"

I loved that the book examined what scripture says about parenting and discipline. What the book didn't do was give us legalists another list of rules to abide by to make our children perfect (darn it!). Law doesn't breed obedience and love. Which is where that grace thing comes in.

I feel guilty when I spend my five minutes of down time a day reading something other than the Bible. I didn't feel guilty reading this book because it was rich with God's word. My only complaint about the book is that some of the conversations given as examples of what parents could say to their disobedient children to point them to the gospel are a little unreasonable (even if the things they said were true). In the author's defense, she does basically point that out herself, though.

Hopefully without giving away too much, their advice for Christian parenting boils down to this:

"I would love them, discipline them, and tell them about Jesus."

Also, we'd do well to remember that we are "partners in grace" with our "dearly loved sinners."

As this week draws to a close I can't help but think how different a place I am finishing this book than when I was reading it from my beach cottage. If only life could keep that pace. I loved spending the extra time with my family. I must learn to prioritize them. And, on that note, there are some changes coming for my family, but I'm going to make you wait for my next blog post!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Nora is her mother's daughter

I wanted to share another Christian parenting lesson that I was recently smacked upside the head with:

Nora is smart for her age. She's also—shall we say—strong-willed or spirited. These are things that will serve her well in life, so I wouldn't trade them (I keep telling myself this), but put that combination together and she's a challenge to parent *cue my parents screaming 'I told you so.'* Nora already requires an explanation and reasoning when she's not getting her way.

In the midst of one of these trying situations recently, I defended her and her need for reasoning to Jonathan. After all, she's just like me — I, too, prefer a rational explanation/full understanding before I can obey. Then I realized that with God, we're called to obey. No ands, buts or ifs. I must obey God, even when I don't understand.

And, sometimes 'no' is love. Ok, so a lot of times the answer no in my life has been dripping with God love.

Trying to manipulate God hasn't been working out for me — and, let's be honest, nobody wants a God that would cave to my demands. That's a god made in my image. That's no god at all.

In the same way, Nora must learn to obey me and Jonathan.

Sometimes in life we will understand why. A lot of times we won't get that privilege.

Nora is her mother's daughter.

Here's yet another area of my life that needs to fall under prayer. I need to learn Christ-like submission to authority in general and to God specifically. And, then, I certainly need to understand how best to impart that lesson to my strong-willed child.

Proverbs 3:5
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding."

I'm going to have to marinate on this one for a while!

Monday, July 7, 2014

The Rainbow Room

The Rainbow Room is a Rainbow Room no more. Praise be to God.

It was a sad room in desperate need of uniform color.

We finally settled on a color. Now, we call it The Beach Room. I present you, Fleeting Green by Sherwin Williams.

Our cute ceiling light that Jonathan installed a few months back:

At one point, we had four paint samples up on the walls:

Can I just brag on myself and say that I did this? Every grueling moment. The prepping, the taping, the first coat and second. The only reason it got done was because my parents were in town to preoccupy Nora so Mommy could have a productive weekend. It was time to give that room some overdue TLC.

We're so glad it's done! We've lived in this house for almost four years and it's the first room we've really made our own (not counting paying a crew to help redo Nora's room to our liking). The Beach Room is just lacking some artwork and a beachy side table and lamp.

One room down....(my aching muscles don't want to even know how many rooms are left).

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Seaside Again

Just got back from Seaside (aka Heaven on earth). I am so relaxed. Like, ridiculously. 

It's time to get back to life. We're going to be super busy for the next couple of weeks with long lost friends coming to visit Monday, my family coming in town for the Fourth and my job responsibilities changing (more on that later). 

Rather than making this a lengthy post, I'll just let my pictures do the talking!!! 

Oh, and a special THANK YOU to "Bella" Rita and "Daddy Rick." They let Jonathan and I enjoy a lot of dates sans Nora while they spent time with their granddaughter. 

Luckily, we're also glad to be back home!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Christian parenting

Nearly 19 months into sweet Nora's life, I still struggle sometimes in my role as mom.

I have been reading my Bible, praying and seeking wise counsel from Christian friends. I've begun reading a plethora of noteworthy Christian parenting books. I decided to share what's on my heart in hopes that if any of you out there are struggling too, this might be encouraging.

Motherhood has been a huge blessing to me — and a huge challenge. I grew up telling folks I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. But then I became a mom and went running back to work at the end of maternity leave (just to be clear here: I love Nora with my entire heart and soul). Not everything about this role comes naturally to me, and I foolishly thought it would.

I still grapple with why this role is such a challenge for me: Am I just too selfish? Is Nora just a really challenging child? Is this how all first-time parents feel? What if I had more patience? Maybe I just don't like the baby phase??......

And then God delivered a powerful message to me through my sweet friend JoAnna. She warned me not to believe the lies I was telling myself — namely, that I was ill-equipped to be Nora's mommy. God uniquely paired us. He put our entire family together because He is sovereign and good. I can stand on that when everything else is sinking sand.

Her message stuck in my head and interrupted the thought process I'd been indulging. The next time Nora was having a category 10 meltdown from teething, I actually thanked God for His goodness — that He loves us both so much that he refuses to give us everything we want in life. He has something for me far greater than my own desires — especially my desire for control.

The parenting books are helping me see that I don't have to have it "together." The most important thing I can do is point Nora to Christ in everything. Especially my failures. That doesn't mean if I "do it right" she will come to know Christ. Christ will secure her salvation, not me. He works in, through and in spite of me. He will boast in my weakness. And that's a freeing thought.

And in these new freedoms, I'm finding simple joys being Nora's mommy. Just last week I was teaching her how to use a flashlight. She was shining it around a bright room and getting frustrated that she couldn't see the light. I helped her shine it under our desk and said, "See, we shine our light in dark places where it will be brightest." What a profound statement for a Christian. We are to be light in dark places. I am to be God's light to Nora.

Parenthood has a way of pointing us back to Christ by using simple truths we may have forgotten — or that I mistakenly think I've graduated away from. These gentle reminders are already one of the greatest blessings for this mommy.

Will you pray for me and Jonathan in our role as parents? Jonathan and I are working to restructure our lives to be the best parents we can be. I need Christ. Every day I will fail. Every day I can look to a Savior who lived the life I never can.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Strawberry White Chocolate Pie

You all saw the picture.

You all had drool and wanted a bite the recipe.

I wish I could take credit for this slice of heaven, but my coworker Kelly Brown shared the recipe with me and gave me permission to share it with you all.

Here it is, enjoy!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Playroom Space-Saving Idea

When I was planning Nora's playroom, I made a list of all the things I would like for it to include. Then I noticed that my list was really, really long and my space is a bit limited.

Two of the things on my list were storage and a chalkboard. Here's a pic of the storage unit we have from Target:

Rita, my mother-in-law, suggested I combine storage and a chalkboard to save space. Rather than put the el cheapo cardboard backing on the unit that came with it, we decided to get a custom board cut and just slap a couple coats of chalkboard paint on it. Then we just attached the board using screws. Also, don't forget to season the board with chalk.

A million months after her wonderful suggestion, it's finally done. The unit's very heavy, but we're considering mounting it on the wall for extra stability.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.