Category Archives: God

The I Do Chronicles: Positive Husband Talk

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I’m no expert on any of this and am just learning what the Lord has to teach me as I go, but if you’re interested in bumbling along with me, you can read all of the posts in this series here.

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I’m assuming you’ve heard of this lady named Oprah, yes? And the power of something called “positive self-talk?”

Not that Oprah created the concept or anything. But when I think of personal pep talks, she definitely comes to mind.

I’m honestly not super-great at positive self-talk. I can beat myself up with the best of them. But I can also be disdainful in general of the potency of motivational quotes and rah-rah speeches. Probably because, deep down, I’m a bit of a cynic (I prefer “realist,” but when the Bible tells us to give thanks in all circumstances, semantics are pretty moot).

And yet, I can’t ignore Ephesians 4:29: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

And I would assume that includes the things we tell ourselves.

It definitely includes the things we say about our husbands.

Which is why–in many ways–positive husband talk is one of the best things we (I, me…preaching to myself) can do for our marriages.

I am blessed to be surrounded by women, who, in general, speak positively about their husbands. I have several close Christian friends who have never “husband-bashed” in my presence. And unless I have a serious case of marriage amnesia, I think I can claim the same.

I mean, honestly, Shaun is pretty easy to praise. He’s kind. He’s witty. He works hard. He’s a great daddy. He loves the Lord. He’s genuinely my best friend. And he’s super hot too, so there’s that. ;)

I have few (if any) legitimate complaints.

And any I do have are usually brief and certainly don’t bear airing to anyone else but him (or the Lord).

STILL! This does not mean that I’m always perfect in the way that I speak to him. (Or about him, although this is not my main struggle).

Recently, two incidents came to my attention that made me analyze more closely how I communicate my regard for my husband to him and to others.

In one case, the claim was legitimate. I was tired/hormonal (not an excuse, but it was the context), and I responded shortly/dismissively/disrespectfully to one of his requests in front of someone else. And that person noticed! I have since apologized to Shaun, but that incident is lodged in my mind as an example of a time when I failed to present a godly snapshot of marriage.

In the other example, my “rudeness” was completely misunderstood as I was only pretending as part of an inside joke between me and Shaun–one that he finds hilarious and one that it never occurred to me could be misconstrued. But still. It affected this person’s opinion of my treatment of my husband.

Tricky, right?

What we say about and to our spouses matters (duh) but, especially (for women), in the context of how we display respect to our husbands. (Because I don’t know a single man who values “lovey dovey” over words of acknowledgement, affirmation, and praise).

I have an acquaintance who has mentioned several times that she becomes frustrated with the way her husband goes about certain tasks and that she would just rather do them herself. She’s not negative, per se. Simply dismissive. And yet, I can’t help but have a different view of her husband (and their relationship) than I would otherwise have.

I overheard another conversation recently (because I was in close vicinity and incapable of moving) about a wife’s refusing to even consider her husband’s wishes on a certain subject that I can’t unhear, and it has–whether it should or not–created an image of their marriage in my mind.

I’m not saying we should lie. Or that we should present a rosy picture when there is genuine conflict at home. I’m just saying that proclaiming it to the world–like a stranger in a restaurant the other day was doing too loudly for me to ignore–is doing no one (least of all, us) any good.

Yesterday, with at least mild fear and trembling, I asked Shaun if he felt like I used kind, respectful words with him in general (because I know the answer to “all the time” is no).

His response? “In general? Yeah! I mean, sometimes, you can be short. But for the most part, yeah.”

Phew. I passed (although you could argue that what else is a guy going to say to his seven-month-pregnant wife if he values his life? ;) ).

I knew what he meant, though. Especially in the last several months, there have been certain days when I’ve felt like I could crawl out of my skin with irritation for no good reason. (Thank you, pregnancy hormones). So, even though, for the reasons I listed at the beginning of this post, I generally find it easy to be nice to my husband, that’s not necessarily what actually comes out of my mouth if I’m especially tired. Or emotional. Or fed-up with kid drama. Or…

If I tried hard enough, I could probably find a justification for speaking snippily to my husband all day every day.

None of them would cover my sin, though.

And none of them would change the fact that–even when he takes it well or says he understands–I am not “building him up according to his needs.”

The Lord has been impressing this on my heart in pretty much every area of my speech lately, if I’m honest. But it might as well start with how I speak to and about the man God has given me to respect, love, and serve for a lifetime (because if I can’t speak words of life to him, how am I ever going to hack it with everybody else?).

But, Abbie. What if I struggle to find even one nice thing to think or say about my husband? I get this. Completely. Not about my husband. But about a different relationship in my life in which I fail miserably in this area more often than not.

And I have a challenge for both of us: let’s pray for the Lord to reveal one tiny thing for which we can praise this person. For at least one word that we can genuinely speak that will be “life” and not “death” to this person’s soul. No matter how much we think they don’t deserve it. (Because what do we deserve except eternal punishment and separation from God in hell? Thank you, Jesus, for the cross!) And for strength to keep our mouths shut until we hear from the Lord what that word might be.

And if you find your husband easy to praise, ask yourself: when was the last time I said out loud–either to him or to someone else–at least one of those good things I know to be true of him? I’ll be asking myself the same thing.

I’m not naive enough to think that every (or any?) marriage makes it so very easy to focus on spouse-thankfulness. But neither am I cynical enough to dismiss the benefits (to our husbands, to ourselves, and to those who hear us and are encouraged) when we choose praise over criticism. Not to mention that, when we do right, it brings glory to God!

I am grateful for the godly example of women who have realistic, yet unfailingly positive things to say to and about their husbands. And I pray the Lord would make me more like them each day.

Feel free to shout out something you love about your husband in the comments! (Just don’t forget to actually say it to him too :) ).

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New Year. New Print. Timeless Reminder.

Hey ho, folks!

Did you think I’d given up this blogging gig for good?

No such luck, people. No such luck.

But! I did enjoy the tar out of my break. I’m not going to say there was a lot of sleeping in or anything luxurious like that (although, I think I saw the latter end of the 7 o’ clock hour at least 4 times…which is kind of miraculous), but we did a whole bunch of cookie baking (too much), movie watching (there was one day we had a triple feature marathon), and doll-making. Huh? Yup. Doll-making. But that’s another post for another day.

All in all, it was just what this tired mama needed. No school. No set schedule. I even gave myself pretty much a complete pass on doing anything for Paint and Prose.

But it’s a new year, and Lindsay and I are excited to introduce new prints and products to you.

Starting with this one:

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You may actually recognize it, since we already had a black and white “Give Me Jesus” print, but we had so many requests for a colorful version of it that we decided to whip up a fun ombre sunrise version.

I love it.

So much that the second my Christmas decorations came down, I replaced my, “Joy to the World,” canvas with this print.

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I think it turned out so pretty, but that’s not the only reason I love it.

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In 2016, it is my heart’s desire to be more like Jesus every day. That may only look like tiny, almost imperceptible changes like not snapping at my toddler when she melts down (again) or suppressing a sigh when my 8-year-old asks me what eight times seven is for the 40th time, but I’m convinced that these little increases in: patience, perseverance, kindness, self-control, love will produce genuine and (eventually) noticeable fruit in my life.

To that end, I am making an even greater effort to consistently get up earlier than my kids so I can get at least a little bit of time alone to sit a the feet of Jesus.

So, how have I done? Well, today is January 6th, and…so far so…decent.

The twins get up between 6 and 6:30 usually, and I’ve been staying up until midnight or later sending/answering emails or doing other tasks (I need to figure out how to shift this, yes?), so I’ve only managed to beat them up one morning so far (ha! That wording is so unfortunate that I’m just going to leave it and let somebody get all ticked off at me until they figure out what it really says).

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Even so, each morning, I’ve squeezed in some semi-quiet time while they play in the guest room. We also do family Bible reading each morning, so that’s kind of my fail-safe at the moment, but I am determined to make this a priority more than ever before.

And guess what I can see now each morning from my perch on the couch with my fluffy blanket, Bible, and prayer journal?

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Yup. I really like this print.

If you need this reminder for your new year too, it’s available in the shop now.

And! If you order an 8X10 or larger of the colorful “Give Me Jesus” print, you’ll receive a 5X7 of your choice for FREE! (Just be sure to specify which one you want in the notes). Offer ends at 11:59, Thursday, January 7th.

Also, if you’re an email subscriber, you get a never-expiring code for 10% off the top of any order. As always, standard first class shipping is included in the price.

Happy 2016, friends! Here’s to a year of growth, change, and renewal! God is good, and hard is not the same thing as bad (I think this might be my personal motto for the year).

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The Right Kind of Wings

I am pretty resistant to motivational slogans. I’d like to call myself a realist, but maybe I’m just a grouchy-puss. Either way, phrases like, “Believe in yourself!” and “You can be ANYTHING you want to be!” and, “Dream big, and make it happen!” grate against my nerves something fierce!

Believe in myself? When I’m tired and cranky and short-tempered and didn’t get enough sleep and feel like crawling right back into bed? I know myself too well to believe in myself some days.

I can be ANYTHING I want to be? Really?? Well…I’m actually pretty good at quick, practical math, but when it comes to calculus and statistics, I’m hopeless. So…given that fact, it seems a little unlikely that I’ll ever become a rocket scientist, no matter how badly I want it.

Dream big, and make it happen! I’m all about goal-setting, but some days, my “big dream” is just to pee alone. Somehow, I don’t think that’s what they’re talking about.

So, I just kind of rolled my eyes as I perched this cute little card on my vintage typewriter in the entryway. I mean, really? Keep looking to the sky, and you’ll get wings? Cute sentiment but hardly practical (even my 9-year-old was like: “Um, that’s not true, mama.” Word, kiddo).

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Also?

Although I already knew they were heinous, when my mom emailed me some links about what’s going on in the Middle East–how Isis is systematically murdering (via brutal crucifixions, beheadings, and dismemberment), raping, and kidnapping Jews, Christians, and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t support their purposes–my heart just felt so heavy.

Here I am in my cozy, safe, comfortable house with my healthy, happy children, and not far enough away to matter, mamas just like me are watching their children die from starvation (or worse…if there is such a thing). What about their dreams? Their wings? What platitudes could I possibly offer that would do anything but belittle their anguish?

I felt so defeated and downhearted. Not just because of the unspeakable horrors taking place in the world but also because there’s a pretty good chance that, unless someone puts a stop to it (the U.S. isn’t doing tons, and even the help we do send ends up in the wrong hands all too often), this cancer can and will spread (already has, if we’re honest) through other parts of the world, which means it will very literally be my (and my children’s) problem too. I don’t want this evil for these Arab and Jewish families. And I don’t want it for mine either.

It’s overwhelming.

And it makes that little quote on my typewriter laughable.

Except that, this morning, I read these words in Isaiah 40:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
Has it not been told you from the beginning?
    Have you not understood since the earth was founded?
22 He sits enthroned above the circle of the earth,
    and its people are like grasshoppers.
He stretches out the heavens like a canopy,
    and spreads them out like a tent to live in.

And then these familiar, comforting verses:

Do you not know?
    Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
    the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
    and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
    and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
    and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the Lord
    will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
    they will run and not grow weary,
    they will walk and not be faint.

Where is the Lord in the midst of all of this turmoil, both personal and worldwide? He “sits enthroned above the circle of the earth.”

AND he “is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18).

He is above us, and he is right beside us. He hems us in behind and before and lays His hand upon us.

And you know what else? Isaiah 40:31 says that he gives us wings like eagles.

I can look at that little quote on my typewriter now with new eyes. I’m not looking up out of foolish optimism or delusion but because of a sure promise from my Creator who sits enthroned above the circle of the earth. And my wings? They’re not mine at all, but His.

Oh, how my tired, burdened heart needed this perspective reset this morning.

I used those verses this morning to pray for the young (and the old) in the Middle East who are literally being torn to pieces, or if they’re “lucky,” merely being driven from their homes–who are tired and weary, who are fainting from pure exhaustion and from the atrocities that they have witnessed and experienced.

Of course, as essential as prayer is, so is food (and other necessities) for the refugees.

My mom is great about doing research that I don’t often have (or take) the time to do, so I asked her to recommend two reliable organizations that are doing practical things to provide for refugees from Isis in the Middle East.

These are, of course, only two of the myriad options out there, and I highly encourage you to do your own research on both the crisis and the organizations that are stepping in to help. But, at least it gives us somewhere to start!

My mom told me about Liberty Relief International and RUN–both of whom are helping to give practical relief like blankets, food, and shelter to huge numbers of people who have literally had to flee for their lives.

I’ve been talking to the kids about the horrific things that are happening to children just like them in the Middle East, so I think Shaun and I are going to ask them where we should send our support.

Maybe it’s something you could do as a family too?

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Love What You Do

First things first:

The winner of our pouch giveaway is: AMY K!

And the winner of our “oily” giveaway is: NATASHIA PETZ!

Be on the lookout for an email from me this weekend, ladies!

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There’s this idea making the rounds of the blogosphere. It’s not a new one. In fact, it’s quite old. It’s just being re-packaged with Pinterest-worthy fonts and graphic design.

And the gist of it is this: YOU have been called to do something amazing! Incredible! YOU are a shining star! Only YOU can do XYZ. Be YOU!

I think it can be summed up most concisely in this popular t-shirt that is circulating the interwebs.

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The thing is, I really like this t-shirt. I want to buy it. I want to wear a constant reminder that I am unique. That I am beautiful. That I have something to offer this great wide world of ours.

There’s nothing wrong with any of this–at least at surface level.

But if I start to break it down–start to turn all of those YOU’S inward–I end up with a small mountain of ME’S.

Which is where I hit a snag or two.

Because if I think about me–who I really am at my core–3 words come to mind:

1. Christian

2. Wife

3. Mother

I am not a Christian because of me but because of what Jesus did when he died on the cross for my sins to reconcile me to God.

And my marriage is not about me but “us” because the moment Shaun and I said, “I do,” we became one.

And–as any mother anywhere knows–there is precious little room for me in mamahood. How can there be when a solitary trip to the bathroom becomes the holy grail of “alone time?”

Which is why, as much as I loved how it looked and what it said, I was a bit unsettled by this little print that I bought from Marshall’s.

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“Do what you love.”

It sounds so good. Just like Be-YOU-tiful. Catchy. Simple. Alluring in its invitation to embrace one’s fullest potential.

But I don’t have to ponder it for too long before I hit another snag. Because here are some things that I love:

  • Watching movies
  • Reading books
  • Making fancy meals
  • Long, soulful conversations with friends
  • Shopping
  • Writing
  • Creating things
  • Exercising
  • Traveling

On the flip side, I don’t particularly love hustling all of the children into the car and then listening to Nola wail for 30 consecutive minutes (that’s 1,800 seconds) because, well, she’s (almost) 3, and she can’t handle life. I’m not wild about finally getting to the gym to teach a BODYPUMP class that ends with my looking up during the cool down to discover the daycare worker with a chagrined expression on her face standing beside a pants-less Evy after my (supposedly) potty-trained other (almost) 3-year-old has had an accident while playing on the racquetball court. And I don’t just adore it when my baby blows out his diaper as I wipe up the soiled toddler and try to gather my brood from the four corners of the gym daycare.

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I don’t love going to Walmart with six children, one of whom has decided that she is petrified of sitting down in a grocery basket even though she’s done it without complaint or incident a thousand times before (hashtag toddler logic).

grocery basket

I’m also not in love with putting kids to bed by myself for the 17th night out of the last 23 because my husband is going on 5 consecutive weeks of work trips.

I don’t say any of those things as bids for pity. They don’t even begin to stack up to the harsh daily realities that many of you face. I know that. But they make up a good portion of my reality at the moment, and I’m not in love with any of them.

So, what?

Does that make me a fraud? Am I not being true to myself because I only rarely do most of the things on my list of loved activities? After all, won’t I be a better mom if I take care of me first? If I pursue desires that fulfill me first? Practically every single Instagram account that I follow tells me this is so–including many of the Christian ones.

While I understand the motivation behind that line of thought (we don’t do anybody any favors when we ignore our own health or grooming or sleep), I have to flatly say that there is zero Biblical precedent for “putting ourselves first to serve others better.”

How can there be when Jesus says, “The first shall be last, and the last shall be first” and “deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow me?”

So, if you don’t like the print, why did you buy it, Abbie?

Short, silly answer? It was pretty. And cheap. And I was able, despite my misgivings, to take it in its simplest form to mean that I should focus on the things that I am uniquely gifted to do–what *I* love–rather than chasing after the interests of others and comparing my results with theirs.

But ultimately, I bought it because when I see it, I intentionally transpose the words “Love and “Do” so that, instead it says, “Love what you do.”

Philippians 4:13 is one of the most quoted verses in the Bible: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It sounds so empowering–so transformative. And it is! Just maybe not for the reasons we think.

Because when you tack on the previous verse you get: “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

I have learned the secret of being content–HAPPY–in any and every situation.

So, when it says that I can do “all this” through Him who gives me strength, it’s not talking about “all of this amazing, inspirational, exciting, challenging-in-a-way-the-world-admires stuff.” It’s talking about “all of this good and bad and frustrating and mundane and everything in between” stuff.

To take a bit of paraphrasing liberty, it’s like saying, “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether the baby sleeps or wakes up 5 times at night, whether the toddler keeps her stuff together or completely loses it on the filthiest floor of the most crowded aisle in Walmart, whether the teenager quietly does his homework or mouths back and stomps out of the room at dinner. I can do motherhood through Him who gives me strength.”

What I take away from that is that my goal is to learn the secret of loving what I do, not first and foremost because it is fun or fulfilling, but because it is the very moment that I am called to rather than a moment that may never materialize no matter how many motivational t-shirts I don.

Is motherhood (insert: your own situation in life) fun? Yes! Fulfilling? Absolutely!

And has God gifted us with unique interests, loves, and abilities that He desires us to utilize for His glory?

I know He has! We are fearfully and wonderfully made.

And yet. I beg you (and me) not to confuse His giftings with an excuse to despise your current circumstances.

Whatever they are, however ho-hum or downright demoralizing, God sees you doing them, and he sees your attitude in them. Through every bottom wiped, story told, boo-boo kissed, tantrum endured, nightmare soothed, and math problem solved.

You may not be able to do (exactly) what you love right now (or ever). I think Jesus spoke directly to the myth that we are most fulfilled when we do what makes us “come alive” when he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

Such a beautiful, challenging paradox. And yet I’ve seen it play out time and again in my life. When I CHOOSE to love the maddening moment that God has placed me in–not necessarily with my emotions (which can sometimes border on disgust or panic) but with my actions–I see growth and enormous fulfillment in my own life and blessing in that of others.

So, this is my challenge to you (and me) as we (in America) head into a long weekend that I genuinely hope will be one of relaxation and enjoyment:

Do what you love. By all means.

But first: love what you do.

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The I Do Chronicles {Part 8}: Just Say No to Passive Agression

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(Pssst…you can read all of the other entries in this series right here)

Shaun’s about to start another marathon of work trips, and I’m kind of girding up my loins emotionally for another round of single parenting.

So, on Friday, when the need to take our van in for a factory recall created an opportunity for a date, I was all over that. My mom took the oldest 5, and we lined up a babysitter for Theo, and I packed a change of clothes and a hefty dose of deodorant and perfume in my bag, since I had to teach BODYCOMBAT that morning and wouldn’t have time to shower. (Because nothing kills date time quite like smelling like a horse).

I spent the early afternoon running around getting the kids situated, but, as so often happens (especially when multiple small children are involved), life got in the way, and I didn’t make it back from dropping the kids off at my mom’s in time to meet Shaun at the dealership and catch the movie we’d planned on.

It was no big deal, though, because we had the entire afternoon/evening free (well, outside of needing to feed Theo every 3 hours or so), and my babysitter was really flexible. So, I was still hopeful that we would get several hours of “us time” + relaxation in.

By this point, it was 2:30, and neither of us had eaten since the morning, and my hands were starting to shake from low blood sugar, so we headed to a local falafel joint and started chowing down, discussing how we would spend our afternoon until the next movie showing in between embarrassingly big, sloppy bites.

And that’s when Shaun looked at me with a slightly sheepish expression and said, “Well, we could…”

And I felt my body tense as I realized that he was suggesting scrapping our relaxing afternoon for an appointment that he needed to fit in before he left on his first trip. But I didn’t have anything pressing I needed to do, and we were still planning on doing a date later, so I told him (reluctantly, as I mentally lectured myself on being selfish and resentful) that it was fine. FiiiiiiiiNE.

And then I went back to attempting to fit my falafel in my mouth without producing an avalanche of crumbs and tzatziki sauce down my white shirt. When I glanced up, cheeks stuffed like a chipmunk, he was staring at me with a preoccupied look in his eyes, like he was analyzing a to-do list on the back of his eyeballs instead of seeing his hungry wife sitting in front of him. After a second, he blinked, and, as his eyes refocused, he said, “Do you mind finishing that in the car? I don’t want to be late.”

Thing is, I didmind. A lot. Not because I mind eating in the car. I don’t. But because I felt like I was watching my husband rewrite our fun afternoon into one that fit his (admittedly important) agenda.

And I was just a footnote.

I could feel irritation building in my gut, and let me tell you, resentment and falafel do not mix well.

I fought that sour feeling in my stomach while Theo and I sat in the car and waited for Shaun to get done with his appointment. I even fished my Bible out of my purse and read words like, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”

I prayed and asked the Lord to help me overcome my resentment, and I was feeling a little better when, right as I was trying to text Shaun our babysitter’s number so we’d have it before my phone died (of course, I’d left the charger in the van at the dealership), the dealership called and informed us that they wouldn’t be doing our recall that day after all, and we would need to come pick up our van. The reason they refused to do the service was pretty silly, and I felt frustration bloom in my chest all over again as I realized that, with this new development, we were going to miss our next movie showing as well.

And then my phone died. Before I got a chance to send the text with the babysitter’s number.

And I thought: it’s a sign. This date is not meant to be. I am done. We’ve been forcing this dumb thing all day long, and it’s just not happening. I’d rather go home and do laundry.

You’d think I would hashtag this with: said no woman ever.

But I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in a feeling of such supreme annoyance that even the prospect of fun isn’t appealing.

And so began the freeze out. I announced that I was done with this “date,” and, in my opinion, since nothing was working out, we should just head home. And then, I set my jaw and my gaze and pretty much refused to do anything but grunt or shrug.

I was going for a trophy in passive aggression, y’all.

It was real mature.

Fast-forward through Shaun’s insisting that we drop Theo off with the babysitter anyway and continue with our date, my (grudgingly, sulkily, and–yep, you guessed it–passive aggressively) agreeing, and then our missing yet another potential movie time due to ridiculously clogged tax-free weekend traffic…and I was really done.

Like holding my hand up dramatically and saying, “We are shooting for ‘worst date ever’ status here!” right before I stalked off to the car…DONE. (In case you’re wondering, I’m almost 33, not 12. You could be forgiven for being confused).

When we got in the car, Shaun, who had been cheerfully and (willfully, I think) obliviously powering through each new obstacle, tried to reassure me that my huffiness was unwarranted because, “The car was no big deal, and we can still get something to eat.”

Y’all. I was kind of boiling at this point. And not just because there was a heat index of 105. Everything childish and nasty in me wanted to continue the freeze out. To refuse to explain myself. To make him suffer for having the audacity to be a little bit inconsiderate on a day that I had so looked forward to.

And to savor that angry, wounded feeling of self-righteousness that was growing by the second.

I got myself all situated to execute the limp one-shouldered shrug + tight-lipped eye-roll, when something in me (hello, Holy Spirit) said: “Just tell him.”

So, instead, I said: “The car situation is annoying, but I’m mad at you.”

He pursed his lips and flatly said, “Why?”

So, I told him why. I feel like the Lord gave me grace to express myself (mostly) calmly, and as I explained my feelings, I could feel the weight of them lifting and their significance melting away.

To Shaun’s credit, he recognized where my feelings had legitimacy and had the humility and grace to simply say, “I see where you’re coming from, and I’m sorry.”

There have been plenty of times when–in the midst of hurt feelings or misunderstandings–I have pushed too hard for an explanation (“But why didn’t you understand why that would have been hurtful to me? Why would you do it in the first place??! Whyyyyyy?”). But this time, the moment I finished explaining my side, and Shaun apologized, I knew nothing more needed to be said. (Well, except, “I’m sorry too, of course”).

He opened his mouth to continue apologizing, but I said, “That’s all you had to say. I forgive you. Let’s go on a date!”

And so we did. And it was a really good date.

Did I have a “right” to be irritated in the first place? Nope. Because “dead men have no rights.” But since I had let myself go there, and even with prayer and Bible reading, the feelings weren’t just evaporating on their own, the next best thing I could have done was a forthright, honest confession of my anger. It’s possible (though debatable) that the anger itself wasn’t entirely wrong. But letting it fester and grow was.

I’m so glad the Lord gave me the desire to be done my resentment before it sabotaged the rest of our time together. And I hope I remember how easy it was to end that “fight” the next time I get my feelings hurt.

Because there will be a next time.

That’s what happens when two sinners get married.

Do you feel like you could win a trophy in passive aggression sometimes too? I’m definitely better than I used to be about communicating instead of starting “the freeze” immediately. But I’m still always a little sheepish that I let myself get tangled up in that sad old trick of Satan’s again when I do fail. Praise God for his infinite mercies.

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The most perfect gift

Happy Monday, friends! I hope you guys had an awesome Easter full of candy and visits with the Easter bunny and egg-dyeing and egg-hunts and baskets brimming with cheapies from the Target Dollar Spot…oh, and Peeps! Can’t forget those little fellas.

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{6 out of 8 looking ain’t bad}

I hope you’re still riding your Reese’s sugar high and finding 27 amazing ways to repurpose plastic eggs on Pinterest. I hope…

Waaaaaait a minute.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, then you may be feeling a bit punk’d right now. Like I’m trying to pull another April Fool’s fast one on you (oh, and just in case I played it a little TOO cool with that whole blonde hair business, and you’re still not entirely sure what happened…it was 100% a joke. Thanks to my husband’s photoshop skillz).

easter

I mean, I’m guessing you expected me to be all: “Hope you guys fully experienced the sorrow and then the joy of remembering Jesus’ death and resurrection. HE IS RISEN!”

More on that in a minute.

But first, let me share something super-rad: we get to meet Harriet this weekend!

Who?

If you recall, our family has sponsored Harriet through an amazing organization called Parental Care Ministries that is local to us and with whom we’ve been involved–through sponsorship, prayer, volunteering, etc.–for over 6 years now. We even sponsored another PCM child–Sarah–for a year through this blog (and then our family took over her sponsorship). We EVEN raised enough money the first year I ever had this little blog to build a new classroom for PCM! Y’all blew my mind with your generosity and support!

Well.

After witnessing and loving what this ministry has done to invest in the lives of over 1,000 incredibly deserving children in Uganda, we get the privilege of hosting Harriet and another PCM girl for a few days as they are here for the 3rd annual PCM choir tour.

easter1

Last week, we met with the tour coordinator so she could brief us on what to expect and how best to bless Harriet and Gaudy, and, at one point, she leveled her gaze at us and said, “I know this is probably something you’ll want to do, but we’re asking that you refrain from buying the girls any gifts.”

That answered a question that I hadn’t even voiced yet, but, as disappointed as I was (I’d had visions of taking the girls to get outfitted in new everything–complete with peppy background music a la every single “makeover montage” in every single teeny-bopper movie ever made), I understood.

Because here’s the thing–life in Uganda is hard. Not as in: I only get a piece of candy and a pair of cast-off shoes for my birthday hard.

But as in: I eat the same bland, watery gruel for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I’m not even sure when my birthday is and would never dream of getting any presents for it if I did…hard.

I only eat meat once a year…hard. I walk 5 miles one way for clean water…hard. 

easter3

Lori (the trip-coordinator) told us that if you ask the PCM kids what they are most thankful for, most will answer simply: “I’m grateful to be alive.”

And not in the sense of being filled with vigor and exciting prospects but in the not dead kind of way.

Because the specter of death looms very large in their lives from an early age. And tasteless gruel topped with beans 24/7/365 is infinitely preferable to a belly distended with starvation.

Lori emphasized that they weren’t expecting anything from us–were happy simply to get to know us and be included in our daily doings–and that material gifts, however needed or deserved, would cheapen and sully the pure joy they felt in sharing life with us.

They were content with “enough” (oh, what a slippery word we have made it) and would not benefit from being “blessed” with a recipe for discontent upon returning to their humble, simple everyday blessings.

When we asked Lori if there were an activity they would particularly enjoy, she said, “Any time you’re praising Jesus together will be their favorite.”

Y’all.

It was like an ice-pick to my heart.

I’ve had enough contact with these precious children to know that they absolutely radiate love for Jesus with a side of pure, unadulterated joy.

But to be reminded of how He is their everything–because they are completely free from the distractions that all of our “stuff” drags in with it–was more than convicting. It felt like a physical blow.

You see, I had seen pictures of cute little Easter baskets brimming with “stuff” popping up all over Instagram, and I’d been so, so tempted to run to the Dollar Store or Target and fill up a basket for each of my kiddos. So I could witness that shine of joy that new toys and treats always produce (at least temporarily). So I could feel like a super-mom. So I could “bless” my children.

But after talking to Lori, that desire vanished.

And not because Easter baskets are inherently evil or if you did that (or any of the other things in the first paragraph of this post), you’re a bad person/Christian.

But because I, too, want Jesus to be my everything–to be honestly, truly, fully thankful that I’m alive. That He has sustained me. That He is (so much more than) enough. I long for that for my children as well.

Jesus said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Clearly, the problem is not with the gift-giving. That is simply a reflection of a trait our heavenly Father has perfected. But the rub comes in defining the word, “good.”

After being reminded of the simple gratitude and reliance on Jesus that my PCM brothers and sisters in Christ have cultivated, it was plain to me that a basketful of cheap goodies was not going to be “good” for my children. That it would, in fact, detract from their (and my) already distracted focus on what Easter offers us: the chance to remember the precious sacrifice that Jesus made for us and the wonder of the fact that the grave could not contain Him.

Harriet and her friends understand, so much better than I–with my petty complaints about insufficient hot water and my discarded pizza crusts–that  “every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

They grasp, better than any of us who live in the self-indulgent world of drive-thru restaurants, Bath and Bodyworks shower gel, and the “need” to change our clothes with each season’s new trend, that the most perfect gift of all can be a plate full of warm food–no matter how bland–and a thankful heart.

easter4

Oh, that I would grasp even 1/10 of the same.

{Clearly, as you might be able to tell from these pictures, we didn’t completely forego all-things-egg; we attended our neighbor’s annual Easter egg hunt after church on Sunday–see last year’s recap here–and the kids had so. much. fun. Our neighbors are precious and ridiculously generous, and it is always a privilege to share this fun tradition with them}

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Choose

I’ve been mulling over some of the responses to this post that I wrote a little over three weeks ago for, well, um, a little over three weeks now.

I had hoped to post a follow up blog sooner, but I don’t write posts like this one lightly. Or quickly. (Seriously. If I got paid minimum hourly wage for the time it’s taken me to write this post, I’d have a nice chunk of change).

I’ve been praying for three weeks now that the Lord would make the words of my mouth (AKA the strokes of these keys) and the meditations of my heart pleasing to Him as I wrestled with how to, essentially, respond to the responses.

None of them surprised me particularly. Or upset me. Although the person who told me she didn’t think it was appropriate for me to write about my thoughts on morality in movies on a “home and lifestyle” blog did make me chuckle a little.

Because I don’t remember ever defining this little corner of the internet as an anything-nailed-down-specific blog.

It’s just me. All of me. Which usually translates as pictures of my kids, what we ate, what I wore, what I crafted, how I’m coping (or not) with motherhood, what the Lord is teaching me, what my house looks like at any given moment (+ a heaping dose of how crazy it drove me to get it decent-looking enough to show you guys). Etc. etc. etc. Ad nauseum.

But of all the roles that define me: wife, mother, writer, fitness addict, daughter, sister, friend…

The one that is dearest to my heart is this:

Bible-believing Christian.

It honestly pains me that I can’t just type, “Christian,” without having to add the “Bible-believing” part…because I don’t believe there is any other kind.

Because what is a Christian but a Christ-follower?

And where can we learn about Jesus the Christ except in the Bible?

Nowhere nearly as reliable, that’s where.

Which is why, when I read phrases in the comments like, “That may be your Biblical truth, but it’s not mine,” or, “I’m a Christian, but I would never judge others’ choices,” or, “The Bible can be interpreted in a variety of ways, and it’s up to the individual to determine its meaning,” I knew I had to clarify, at the very least, where I stand.

I believe the Bible is the infallible, unerring word of God.

It is a historical document written by multiple authors and made up of 66 books, which spans approximately 1,500 years, and yet carries a single thread of purpose and theme throughout–that of mankind’s need for reconciliation to God as a result of his sin and of the provision for that reconciliation in the fully man/fully God form of Jesus Christ and his death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

It contains numerous prophetical passages about Jesus–where he would be born (Micah 5:2), his virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), his sacrifice for our sin on the cross and the manner of his death and burial (Isaiah 53), his penultimate words on the cross and the fact that his hands and feet would be pierced and that his persecutors would cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22), his resurrection (Psalm 16:10) and many more–all of which were fulfilled and recorded in the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection.

A popular argument for dismissing the Bible as an authoritative source of truth is: “Well, it’s been 2,000 years since Jesus’ birth, and there have been numerous translations and interpretations since then, so there’s no real way of knowing what anybody really meant at the time.”

But the fact is that the Bible is the only ancient document in existence which can boast extant (currently existing) accounts of pivotal events (Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection, for example) within 100 years of their happening and a complete copy of the entire Bible within 300 years. Those first century copies mean eyewitness, firsthand accounts, people.

And do you know what scholars have found when they compare the 2015 accounts of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well or the resurrection of Lazarus or the feeding of the 5,000 with the same accounts from 1,900 years ago? They are the same.

When a woman came to Jesus and anointed his head from an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, Jesus responded to his disciples’ outraged response by saying that she had done a beautiful thing and that “wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.

And that’s exactly what is still happening today.

In fact, Bruce Metzger–a professor at Princeton (hardly a bastion of conservative evangelical Christian thought) during his lifetime (he died in 2007) and arguably the greatest American New Testament scholar of the 20th century–has gone so far to say that 99.4% of what we have in the Bible today is corroborated by the earliest copies that still exist now.

So, that whole, “It’s changed over time and doesn’t say the same thing now as it did then,” bit just doesn’t fly.

Also, for those who are all about Jesus and the New Testament but prefer to ignore the Old, I would ask you this question:

Did you know that Jesus quoted almost every single Old Testament book?

Not in a passing, anecdotal way either. But authoritatively.

He quoted multiple verses from Deuteronomy to slam the door in the face of the devil’s temptation in the desert.

He referenced Isaiah 53:12 to talk about his own death.

He quoted from Genesis (1:27 and 2:24) when he condemned divorce.

And on and on.

(So, if it was good enough for Jesus, and you love Jesus…? I think you see where I’m going).

Obviously, this becomes a problem when we are fine with his exhortations to, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and, “Judge not lest you be judged,” but uncomfortable when he references Leviticus.

(The real problem, of course, is that “love your neighbor” is a direct quote from Leviticus)

Speaking of judging…

This might be the most hot-button word of our culture today.

And yet. I challenge the most open-minded person to truly refrain from making judgments…

About the mom on the playground who is paying more attention to her phone than her kids way up on the slide.

About the pregnant girl who is puffing on a cigarette as she pumps her gas.

About the lady in the grocery store with two overweight children and a basketful of nothing but Pop Tarts, soda, and cheese puffs.

Whether we admit it or not, we draw conclusions about the rightness and wrongness of others’ behaviors, usually based on our own backgrounds or what our culture dictates.

But everybody’s background is different. And cultural standards shift and change as surely as the sands under the pull of the tide.

So, rather than balance my standards for right and wrong on the ever-tipping scale of societal standards, I ground them in the Bible, and I let it do my judging for me. It tells me that it is wrong to lie, to steal, to kill…and I dare say that even those who ignore the Bible altogether at best or are greatly offended by it at worst agree with these.  I would even go so far as to say that we’re all pretty okay with calling those who commit these–I’ll say it–sins wrong.

But things get a lot dicier when we enter the realm of what we have politely termed “lifestyle choices.”

“Lifestyle choices” that Jesus plainly called “sexual immorality.” Because that’s the thing: as much as Jesus, these days, has been cast as the ultimate hippie dude–an easygoing yogi type with long, soft hair and an even softer attitude toward sinners, the truth is that Jesus was pretty darn judgmental (by our society’s standards).

He told the woman caught in adultery, after he had shamed all of her accusers away, “Neither do I condemn you. Now, go and sin no more.” His lack of condemnation was predicated on his command to leave her life of sin. No consideration for her circumstances. No interest in whether her husband appreciated her enough or if he had cheated on her too. Just a simple condition: stop sinning. Pretty judgmental if you ask me.

He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” and asked them rhetorically how they expected to escape being “condemned to hell.” Super judgey right? And downright rude. Unless, of course, he was right.

Yes, he ate with “sinners,” but isn’t the mere fact that he labeled them sinners–that he called them “sick” and in need of doctoring–kind of a judgment on their lifestyle choices?

Jesus could, in fact, be considered the most judgmental ever, since his standards begin, not with actions, but motives. He takes morality one step further by saying that even a lustful thought makes you an adulterer and a hateful attitude towards your brother is the same as murder.

In other words, there is no such thing as a “harmless” dalliance in erotica. It can’t just be a “fantasy” or an “escape.” We will be held accountable for “every idle word.” It should come as no surprise, then, that when we read a “romance” (code for: sexually explicit) novel or watch a movie that glorifies extra-marital sex (of any kind), and they lead our thoughts in a lustful direction, according to Jesus, we are committing adultery on our husbands.

I worked at my university’s writing center when I was 19-years-old, and I distinctly remember a colleague saying, “Man, Jesus was so cool. He never got mad about anything. He always saw the good in everybody.”

I nearly choked on my swig of water. Because this Jesus is found nowhere in the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible was filled with righteous anger when he saw the money lenders defiling the house of God. He literally drove them from the building and flipped their tables over. The Jesus of the Bible never said that, if you look hard enough, you’ll find the good in everybody. Or that we are the product of our circumstances. Or that, while some of our actions may be bad, at our core, we’re basically decent.

What he did say was this: “Out of the heart of man come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” 

Ouch.

So, what’s my point? That Jesus was some fault-finding ogre?

No.

My point is that Jesus, the most compassionate, loving being ever to exist on planet Earth–God incarnate who, though he himself knew no sin, became sin for us that we could be declared righteous–knew that transformation trumps tolerance. Every time.

He also knew that, while “there is only one Lawgiver and Judge who is able to save and to destroy,” the kind of judgment that discerns between right and wrong is absolutely essential to life.

I am not able–nor should I try–to do the kind of judging that “saves and destroys” eternally. Only God is. But I am able–in some cases encouraged (1 Cor. 2:15, Matt. 18:15, Amos 5:14-15, Psalm 37:30)–to judge (discern, determine, find out, ascertain) whether an action is right or wrong, using the Bible as my guide.

If we lump the saving and destroying judgment (God’s) in with the determining between right and wrong judgment (ours), we doom ourselves to a life of moral uncertainty at best and moral depravity at worst. Because without unchanging standards, when, exactly, does an action become “bad enough” to judge? And on what basis?

Jesus, himself, gives us a model for church discipline that begins with the words, “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you,” and follows up the oft-quoted-out-of-context, “Judge not lest you be judged” with, “First take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

But, Abbie, if Jesus came, as he said, not to “abolish the law and the prophets but to fulfill them,” and corroborated the Old Testament, then why are there so many denominations within Christianity? Isn’t that proof that the Bible can’t be taken seriously?

Honestly, this argument has never made sense to me.

Let’s say that an award-winning chocolate cake is served to a group of people who all have varying reactions.

One thinks it’s good but has always been more of a brownie-guy. One thinks it could have used a healthy dose of walnuts. One wishes the icing had been made from milk rather than dark chocolate.

Three different reactions. Same cake. So, do these different cake “interpretations” mean that the recipe’s no good? After all, it was created by a master baker, who tested his process multiple times and used the best kitchen equipment and most accurate measuring tools to create his masterpiece. Oh, and it’s been tasted by hundreds of others, all of whom agree that it’s absolutely scrumptious.

The answer is to go to the source. Look at the recipe. Were quality ingredients used? Are the ratios correct? Did the baker follow the recipe correctly? If so, then the issue is with the tasters, not the cake.

The same is true of the Bible. But don’t take my word for it. Study it for yourself. Dig deep into God’s word and see where it leads you. Don’t just subscribe to our culture’s response or even what you’re told in church on Sunday without ever taking the time to really determine whether it stands the test of scrutiny.

Will you find that there are issues open for debate?

Sure.

Ravi Zacharias says: “Uniformity of belief does not always mean uniformity of expression.” Which is why some Christians believe they should send their children to public school, while others believe that homeschooling is best. The same goes for the drinking of or abstaining from wine. Or the wearing of pants vs. skirts. Christians on either side of these debates could provide some form of Biblical support for their stances and might never come to complete agreement.

These issues are hardly salvation essentials, though, and the lack of agreement is no more a reflection on the Bible than the varying tasters’ opinions are on the chocolate cake.

But repeated, consistent, crystal-clear admonitions, beginning in the Old Testament and continuing throughout the entirety of the New to abstain from sex outside of marriage, adultery, homosexuality, cheating, lying, jealousy, disrespect to parents, and murder? (This is a great resource, in case you want some specific references for what the Bible has to say on these topics).

These are the essentials, and to say that they are not because a) you don’t like them or b) they clash with our culture’s emphasis on moral relativism is no “interpretation” but, instead, a direct contradiction of the Bible as a whole, including the very clear words of Jesus the Christ.

The very same Jesus who said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven,” and, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.”

Y’all.

I feel that itch in my ears sometimes. I do. This post is, by no means, some manifesto about how I’ve got everything all figured out and do it all perfectly. Not even close.

That is why I am so grateful for the Bible and that, just as I said on Friday, truth is truth, regardless of emotion. Because when my emotions lead me astray–when they convince me that this little tidbit of gossip really isn’t so very harmful or watching that sex scene won’t really undermine my marriage or that angry outburst at my children wasn’t really my fault, I can always, always return to Scripture and remember that my heart is “deceitful and desperately wicked.”

Which is why, every time I or one of my friends or anyone else who calls themselves a Christian says something like, “I, personally, don’t feel convicted about ______________,” we need to remember to look at what the Bible says on the subject and then be humble enough to admit that, “I, personally,” is not a statement of authority but is, in fact, too often a permission to sin.

Of course, the best–most absolutely glorious–truth of the Bible is not that it tells us that we are sinners and shows us how but that it provides a way for atonement.

1 Timothy 1:9 says, “He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time.”

Or maybe you’ve heard it put this way: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

More and more, it becomes apparent to me that it is time for we who identify ourselves as Christians to “choose this day whom {we} will serve.”

Because either Jesus and his word are the source of eternal truth. Or we are. Our actions call us out. We can no longer straddle a fence of saying we love Jesus but not obeying him.

CHOOSE

I know myself too well to choose me. I am a sinner saved by grace. I choose Jesus. But I choose the Jesus of the Bible. He’s the only one that’s real.

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Mary, did you know?

I never wanted a Christmas baby. Mostly because I love birthdays and celebrating them, and I didn’t love the concept of one of my children’s birthdays being swallowed whole every year by the hustle and manic rush of our country’s most cherished, most overblown holiday.

And yet, here I find myself, 40 weeks pregnant, not-so-patiently awaiting the arrival of a baby boy, not unlike a certain Jewish girl 2,000 years ago. (Although, yes I realize that Jesus wasn’t actually born in December).

I’ve never given Mary too much thought. I mean, after all, she was just the vessel. Just the container for the miracle that was God incarnate. Nothing special, really.

The thing is, it’s easy to dismiss Mary as ordinary until you read the Magnificat. I mean, historians estimate that Mary was somewhere between thirteen and fifteen-years-old when she received the news of her impending pregnancy.

So that’s…young.

If an angel of the Lord had appeared to my 14-year-old self and proclaimed that I would be supernaturally impregnated with the Savior of the world, I’m pretty sure my reaction would have been as follows:

1) pass out

2) wake up, remember what the angel said, and burst into tears

3) curl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb

And yet, Mary, a simple, uneducated teenager had this to say (among other things):

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of his servant…he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Not only is her eloquence surprising but her poise is just astounding.

Was she scared? I have no doubt. Worried? Um, yes. Aware of the repercussions of a virgin pregnancy that no one would believe? I’m sure.

And yet, she chose to praise.

Which is very different from the response I had yesterday as I was lettering the words, “A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,” on a piece of burlap with a black Sharpie, feeling all of the weariness and none of the rejoicing.

thrill of hope

My body has been trying to go into labor for over a week now. At first, I was cautiously hopeful. After 5 babies, I am on a little too friendly of terms with my old friend, the Braxton Hicks contraction. But these were different. And if they could just establish a pattern and kick in, darn it, we could get this baby out.

9 days of (sometimes painful, always distracting) contractions later, and I’m no longer hopeful. In fact, I’m downright jaded. And annoyed. Maybe even a little persecuted feeling.

But as I was having yet another hormonal episode (right in the middle of touching up the word, “rejoice,” ironically enough), I thought about Mary.

Mary, who was forced to ride aback a bony donkey for days, hugely pregnant, with no hope of a bath or anything resembling a decent bed.

Mary, who, even when she did finally arrive at the closest thing to the prospect of a bath and a decent bed, was rejected out of hand with the terse declaration of, “No room.”

Mary, who suffered through contraction after contraction, crouched in the filthy hay, surrounded by lowing, braying, baaing creatures. No midwife. No dresser full of tiny, clean little clothes she didn’t have to sew herself. No freezer full of meals just waiting to be thawed in a magical contraption called a microwave.

Y’ALL.

My tailbone is getting sore just sitting here on my comfortable couch as I type this. If you asked me to get on a donkey, much less ride him for longer than 2 minutes, I might drop-kick you across the room.

Can you imagine her discomfort, her uncertainty, her worry that she might somehow manage to completely bungle this whole being-the-mother-of-God assignment? I can’t, and I’m feeling considerably more empathetic with her than I ever have before.

You know that song, Mary Did You Know? It posits all kinds of questions about whether Mary fully understood the impact that the tiny baby in her womb would have on the world. For eternity. I have to think that she didn’t. Couldn’t.

And yet, Mary did understand this: God is God. Period. And not only that. But he is Good. And that was enough for her.

May it also be enough for me (and you) this Christmas season.

Today, I am asking the Savior of the world to remind me, in “my humble estate,” to “magnify the Lord.”

Regardless of when these contractions finally decide to stop teasing and start torturing me to the point of delivery. Regardless of how much I don’t want to tackle another mound of dirty dishes. Regardless of how fed up I am with getting screamed at by teething toddlers.

Merry Christmas, friends. May a joy that has nothing to do with your circumstances and a peace that passes all understanding fill your hearts and minds this blessed season.

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“Overdue”

Okay, so first off, I’m so glad that y’all got a kick out of Monday’s ThredUP post. I wasn’t sure how many of you would already be familiar with it or might think I was a bit of a nut for getting so excited about having used clothes mailed to my door, but apparently, if I’m a nut, y’all are too because I got an inbox full of referral requests in addition to your blog comments.

HOWEVER, although I went through every single name I received and sent referrals to each of you, I know for a fact that not all of them went through (some of you emailed and let me know, and then some of them just refused to show up in my referral history).

So! If you’re still interested in a $10 code to ThreadUp and are thinking that I’m ignoring you…I promise I’m not. I just can’t figure out how to make them all go through.

HOWEVER (again), I *think* you should be able to use this code whether or not you got an email from me.

Let me know if it works for you!

Okay, so you know from my anti-getting-dressed rant on Monday that I’m not super into wearing normal clothes these days.

Which is why, I have to admit, that this post is a bit of cheat. Shaun snapped these shots of me after church one day a couple weeks back (I think I was 37ish weeks along). But I never actually got a post written about them.

polka dots4

The funny thing is that, even though I’m still measuring about a month behind, at almost 40 weeks now, I’m getting every belly-reaction possible–from the woman at Beall’s who said, “Goodness! You’re about to pop, huh?” to the lady who made me turn sideways and told me I couldn’t possibly be ready to deliver a baby because my belly wasn’t big enough (both of these occurred on the same day while I was wearing the same outfit).

polka dot2

So, I have no idea what to think about how pregnant I look or not, but I know this: I’M READY.

I shouldn’t be. I should be totally content with being pregnant for another few weeks (since I probably will be), but the reality is this funny meme that my friend, Shanna, sent me:

overdue

Ha! Right??

Of course, I agree with the “overdue” part being in quotation marks since I genuinely believe that God’s timing is perfect and that babies come when they are good and ready.

HOWEVER (take three). While I haven’t even reached my official “due date” (which ranges anywhere from tomorrow through Sunday, depending on the source of the info), and  I’m MOST happy with whatever date gives him the healthiest entry into this world, it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t prefer him on the outside where I can hold him rightthisverysecond.  polka dots

I will say, though, that–while it’s been a lesson long in coming–I think I’ve finally, mostly (pretty much) gotten the hang of not worrying about it too much. (I almost lost my mind when, after having Ezra, my first, 6 days early, my next two BOTH showed up two weeks “late,” and then the twins hung around for 39 weeks and 4 whole extremely uncomfortable days).

Just the other day, as I felt that familiar antsy feeling creeping up my spine, I forced myself to open my Bible to the Psalms right then and there and read about God’s unfailing goodness and how He has a plan for my life that far surpasses any that I could conjure up. It helped a lot. It doesn’t mean that I didn’t get a bit frustrated again yesterday (hey, I need lots of reminders). But every time I turn to Jesus with my jitters–which is usually the truly overdue thing in my life–I’m amazed (I shouldn’t be by now) at the almost tangible peace that overtakes my anxious heart.

As my blog friend, Ruth, is always saying, “Motherhood is sanctifying.” And, I might add to that, “Pregnancy too!” :)

Of course, pregnancy is hardly the most anxiety-inducing thing on the planet, and I know many of you have worries that far surpass anything I’m dealing with right now.

So, I thought I’d take the opportunity to turn this post around to you and encourage you to take your worries to the Lord today, whatever they are.

And, if you want, you can even email me at blogabbie{at}gmail{dot}com if you’d like me to pray for something that’s keeping you up at night, and I would be honored to lift you up before our Father in heaven. I mean, you’ll get prayed for, and I’ll have something other than the fact that I’m not in labor to focus on when I wake up in the middle of the night. It’ll be good for both of us, I promise!

Linking up with Lindsey

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The I Do Chronicles {Part 5}: Dead Men Have No Rights

i do chronicles

If you’d like to see other posts in the I Do Chronicles, you can here.

Shaun and I both have a habit of whining about casually mentioning an ailment–oh–a good half a dozen times before we’ll actually do something about it. Especially headaches. Neither of us are big medicine-takers, and neither of us get bad headaches usually. But when we do–well, let’s just say that we might be better off popping a couple of Advil as soon as we feel the headache coming on.

So, when he winced and mentioned having head pain for the second time last night, I might have snapped: “Well, take something for it!” before he even got the words completely out. (And he might have arched an eyebrow at me since he was already on the his way to the medicine cupboard).

This was, my head wasn’t feeling too hot either, and I had just gotten home from a marathon of hauling all the kids from a midwife appointment to the gym to teach a class to two separate errands and then home to finish dinner at 7:30. I hadn’t eaten in hours, and exhausted didn’t even begin to do justice to how I felt after being up in the middle of the night for an hour and 1/2 with a 3-year-old terrified of a mysterious (inaudible to me) “ticking noise,” (when she was a little more coherent in the morning, she informed me that it was, “probably a tiger prowling around in our jungle” #okeydokey). And that, followed by a long day of homeschooling, twin-tantrum subduing (they’re a big fan of the “Okay, I’m done now; tag, you’re it” approach), house-cleaning, dinner-prepping, and lots and lots of child-correcting (I don’t know if it’s the crisp fall air or what, but they have been…ahem…more energetic than usual of late).

And all of that on top of the usual 33-week-pregnant stuff.

Now, to be fair, Shaun had been up with the toddler and the twins in the middle of the night too (because, apparently, that no-sleep thing is catching). Plus, his day had started super-early and pretty much pelted him hard until I got home with the kids, at which point he came down and immediately starting helping me with dinner.

Still, he hadn’t had to do all that stuff with 5 kids up in his grill all day long, now had he? Obviously, if anyone had a right to a headache, it was me.

And to top it all off, as soon as he had helped all 5 kids through their bedtime routines, changed twin diapers without being asked, and carted them off to bed without any prompting from me, he had the audacity to collapse on the couch with some of my best pillows over his head like this headache was for realz or something and fall asleep.

Leaving me with a trashed kitchen to clean up by myself for the third time that day.

As I ladled beans and rice and chicken and corn into separate Tupperware containers (chicken + rice bowls are delicious, healthy, and easy to make but super-annoying to clean up after), I could feel resentment stalking me.

Seriously, if anyone had a right to be huddled on the couch, it was the pregnant lady. Right? I mean, right?

But, for some reason, smack in the middle of scrubbing a pan while planning the perfect way to “laughingly” rib him for letting his pregnant wife tackle the kitchen solo at 9 PM, a phrase I’d read on my friend, Mary Krause’s, Instagram photo flashed through my mind.

“Dead men have no rights.”

I stopped mid-scrub and grimaced.

Because, y’all, I’m a dead man. I mean, not literally, obviously. A) Because I am not writing this from the after-life and B) I’m a woman.

But, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

If what I claim to believe is true, my old self is dead and Christ is alive in me.

Phew, right?! I mean, Jesus is the King of King and Lord of Lords. If He’s living in me, then there’s no WAY I should have to do the dishes by myself. That is a way unroyal thing to do.

Oh wait. Shoot. This is the same Jesus who, “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, 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.”

And that’s when it hit me yet again: Even though He is the Creator of the universe and has every right in the world to leave us (me) wallowing in our (my) depravity…“for our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

{Insert groan of realization}

I’m big on fairness, y’all. I whack my children upside the head with the Golden Rule on a thrice-daily basis. And that’s not such a bad thing.

Until I start getting all petty and snitty over being denied my fair due.

We all know we’re not supposed to have expectations in marriage. That they set us up for failure, disappointment, and festering feelings of discontentment.

But, what if we took that one step further and did away with, not only our expectations, but our rights(Because doesn’t the expectation to have the garbage taken out stem from the feeling that we have the right to a little help around here, for crying out loud?).

What if, indeed.

As that phrase, “Dead men have no rights,” circulated through my mind and heart, a miraculous thing started to happen. All of that indignation toward my husband that had been building steam in my veins–just waiting for the perfect passive-aggressive way to explode–just…evaporated.

I stood at the kitchen sink and asked God to change my heart and attitude, and you know what? He did! (Imagine that).

Suddenly, it was very clear to me that my husband had done nothing wrong (had, in fact, done so many things right), and I was struck by a very-not-of-myself gratefulness that he was getting to sleep instead of being guilted into doing something I was perfectly capable of doing by myself. Especially seeing as how–well, look at that–I didn’t feel nearly as bone-weary as I had even five minutes before.

That may sound all sweet and self-sacrificial of me, but I think all you have to do is read the first half of this post to see that it’s not my natural reaction. That was Christ in me. Because, even though the old me keeps trying to resurrect herself from the grave like some worm-eaten, decaying corpse out of a bad zombie movie, she’s dead.

And dead (wo)men have no rights.

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