Thursday, July 31, 2014


My church is in a period of transition — at times painful — and so is my community group (again!). In general, I don't have to look far to find evil, suffering and death.

But, for the Christian, even when we suffer we suffer with hope. We know that even as the squishy parts of us get gouged out by this world, He will fill us up with Himself. And, over time, we become more Him than us and can bear all things. To God be the glory.

God is constant and unchanging. His mercies are new each morning. Philippians 2 has been my constant source of encouragement:

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Monday, July 28, 2014

More Time

For a time now I've been hearing the call on my heart to spend more time being a parent to Nora, serving my family and building relationships within my community.

I made a decision recently that is clearly right for my family at the right time, but that will require me to lean on God.

At my 4-day a week job at a private school in Peachtree City I have stepped into the role of financial administrator. Before this change in responsibilities, I worked there Monday through Thursday and worked from home on Fridays for a pro-life organization, Life Training Institute.

I had always said out loud that one day I wanted to work 4 days a week, thinking that it wouldn't ever be an actual possibility. Then this work change came out of the blue and I had to decide if now was the time I had been waiting for to take this leap.

As I mentioned before, I have felt convicted for a time about my need to build more relationships within my church and community. In my present situation, I don't have the time or energy for that.

That said, I have decided to freelance as needed on Fridays and devote my time to one job.

Now, on Fridays I hope to write for the local magazine, woodwork, continue to freelance for LTI, blog, and, most importantly, spend time with NORA. I want this to be a day where I can build relationships and work on friendships. I want to have time to take a meal to the family with a new little one or meet my stay-at-home mom friends at the park with their children.

Oh, yeah, and my husband will be launching a Halloween Etsy store — BlackRavenHollow — in the coming days. I know you want more details on this randomness. Rest assured, they are coming :-)

The financials have worked out, too. At first this was sure to be a pay cut for our family, but we have already made up for the shortfall by budgeting and cutting expenses. God is so good!

Change is scary for me. This at its root, is me being obedient to God's call and stepping out in faith. It has always been my heart's desire to work as much as possible and earn the most money possible. I've searched my heart and realized that I'm a people pleaser and I like the prestige of doing "important work." I've finally realized that being Mom, Wife and Friend is important work!

But, I also need to say this out loud: What I don't want to end up doing with that time is more laundry, more grocery shopping, more OCD things that will always be there and can ultimately wait. I can't look at this as a house manager promotion, although I'm sure there will be times that I will need to get groceries on a Friday so we don't all starve.

This new schedule will begin this Friday, Aug. 1. For a bit, I will be putting in a decent number of freelance hours for LTI as I wrap up a marketing project that I've been knee deep in this summer. But as that dwindles, I can't wait to enjoy the fall with my family and friends.

Please pray for me as I obey God's call and step outside my comfort zone — and please hold me accountable. I'm not as brave as I pretend to be sometimes — please make plans with me so I will follow through and not squander the extra time that has been afforded me in my week.

God Bless!

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).