Author Archives: mrstwhite

A Confession, Apology and Update.

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A Confession:

“Therefore, prepare your minds for action, be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”

1 Peter 1:13

Self-control. This is my greatest struggle. I think that the underlying cause of all sin is selfishness. We sin because we put our own desires first; we fail to control ourselves. I am lazy, thus the name of this blog, and I struggle with motivating myself to do the things I know I should be doing. And I feel bad, guilty, ashamed but I fail to truly grasp the importance and implications of my actions (or lack of action). The verse I quoted above is really only useful if taken in context. It begins, “Therefore.” My first youth pastor always said, “If you see a ‘therefore’ in the Bible, you should ask, ‘What’s it there for?'” In this case it is there to connect the directions and guidance for living with the reason for those directions. Why do we need to be self-controlled? 1 Peter chapter one begins with Peter addressing the persecuted church scattered throughout the nations. He is talking to believers and he starts by reminding them of the hope they have in God. He reminds them of their salvation and then tells them, “Therefore, prepare your minds for action..”  The passage continues and he says in verse 17:

“Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.”

1 Peter 1:17-18

My life, your life if you are a believer, has been bought, redeemed, saved. We were not purchased with money, silver or gold or any other perishable thing of this world, but with the perfect, priceless, blood of Christ. What more motivation could I possibly need to do anything?! And yet, I struggle…

I struggle with getting out of bed first in the morning when I would much rather snuggle with my handsome hubby and get a few more minutes of sleep.

I struggle with staying active and caring for my body in a way that glorifies God.

I struggle with self-control in the area of reading. I have always been a bookworm, and reading can be a great thing, but for me it is also a temptation, a way to escape into fantasy worlds and avoid dealing with the chores and day-to-day monotony of my life, a life that Christ died to give me, but I dare call boring.

I tell my husband that I would, “go anywhere for a year,” meaning a foreign mission field or California, where ever. I have always dreamed of living in a third world country and I would go in a heartbeat given the opportunity, but I can’t manage to keep up with the laundry or minister to the people in my community here. I once heard a sermon where the pastor compared our service to God to different denominations of money. He talked about giving our “quarters” and not just our “thousands.” I would give my thousands in the form of moving, leaving home and family and everything familiar, but I fail to give my quarters, the small, daily sacrifices that life is composed of.

I think the only real cure for this is a better understanding of the sacrifice made for me, for all of us. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit working in my life so that I can fully understand the importance of my actions.

I seek to serve God, please my husband and care for my family, in that order and I ask your prayers for me as I daily struggle to control my sinful self and to “live as a stranger in reverent fear.”

An Apology:

I lied to you. My last post indicated all of these great topics that I was going to write about and how I would blog once a week and it was going to be great. Well, if you read my confession above then you know that blogging is not the only thing I have not been doing that I should be. I love having this blog and the opportunity to share with the world and I hope that ya’ll benefit from my writing. I hope to write for you move often in the future, but in the meantime I hope you will forgive me for misleading you.

An Update:

Oh how time does fly. I read a quote a friend posted on Facebook the other day that said: “the days are long but the years are short.” That is exactly how I feel. Micah is incredible. He keeps me busy and I am often tired and suffer from cabin fever so that my days feel long but I can’t believe his birthday is just over a month away. No way has he been here a year already! Yet, in someways it seems like he has always been here; it’s hard to picture our family without him. Just this week he learned to clap, so that is his new favorite thing and he grins every time  waiting for me to say,”Yay!” He is super active, crawling and pulling up on everything. He has learned that he can lean against the back of our couch and then stand without holding on to anything so he can play with his toys. He is really close to walking but hasn’t yet gotten brave enough to stand on his own. I’m excited to see him grow and learn new things but I’m in no hurry for him to grow up or become any more mobile than he already is. He is so cute. I need to take some pictures and share on here. But, for now I am going to go get him; I can hear him waking up from his nap.

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Upcoming Topics

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I have realized that Sundays are the best time for me to be able to sit down and type up a blog post. We have church in the morning, then come home and have a quiet afternoon while Micah naps, before heading back to church in the evening. So, Sunday afternoons would be the ideal time for me to try and work on this blog. I’m not promising a new post every Sunday (since I am really bad at sticking to those kinds of promises) but I think you will see more posts, more often.

Here is a list of topics that I have been wanting to address for quite a while now. If any of you have other ideas or things that you would like to see me write about, feel free to leave suggestions in the comment section.

So, in no particular order:

1. Cloth diapering: I LOVE CDing and get a lot of questions about how it works, how much it costs, etc. This will probably require two or three posts to do it justice.

2. Going “No Poo”: this will also be a series dealing with eliminating the poo in our lives. I will detail some easy, practical ways to do this while saving money.

3. The problem with marriage: why so many marriages fail and what we can do about it.

4. Homeschooling: what does the Bible have to say about it?

5. Confessions: my testimony

6. Vaccines: what you should know beforehand

7. The problem with accountability partners, and another confession.

8. Confession: why I want to be a missionary, and why I would be really bad at it.

9. Amber Teething Necklaces: what’s all the hype about?

10. My room-a-day home cleaning schedule.

11. Some recipes we love.

That’s all I have so far but it will probably take six plus months to cover them all. Again, if you have any other topics you would like me give my opinion on, please leave a comment letting me know.

Self expression

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One of the reasons I love having this blog (though I don’t use it as much as I would like), is the ability to clearly express myself and to describe and explain my beliefs and reasons for those without having to actually talk to people. Cowardly, I know but it is often easier to write it all out and put it out in the cyber universe for people to read than to stand and tell them to their faces how I feel. This is mostly because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings and so I pull my punches and don’t say what I really want to say when I am face to face with someone. I have recently gotten into watching The Mark Gungor show on the iPad during the day as I go about my chores. This is really the whole premise of the show: he gives you brutal honesty, you are totally anonymous and he doesn’t have to deal with hurting people’s feelings because people email in their questions, he never actually talks to or directly interacts with these people in anyway so that his answers aren’t biased. Love his common sense approach to topics that most Christians ignore or are too shy or ashamed to talk about.

So, having said all of that I want to address a number of things that bug me and hopefully avoid hurting any feelings.

1. Christians who try to apply Biblical principles and rules for living to non-Christians: this is not the way to bring people to Christ! If you read the New Testament, and especially the letters from Paul, you will find a distinct pattern in the way he formats his letters. He always begins by stating what he believes, why he believes it, reminding the church he is addressing of what they claim to believe but seem to have forgotten, and THEN telling them how to live in light of what they believe. If they do not believe in or trust Jesus why on earth would they follow His rules? And yet we as believers feel obligated to point out to our heathen friends all the terrible decisions they are making and how wrong it is for them to live like they do, without ever taking the time to make sure they understand and believe the much more important stuff like who Jesus is, that he died to save them, how he rose from the dead…no, no we just skip right to condemning them for breaking rules which they have no reason to follow in the first place. If you are concerned about the decisions a friend or family member is making, do them a favor and share the good news and love of Jesus, that actually has the power to save their souls. The best you can hope for otherwise is making them a “moral” person who tries to do what is “right.” But, they really have no hope and no understanding of what “right” is if they do not know Jesus.

2. People who want everything: this is not possible. All the time, couples put off getting married or having kids because of money or school or the desire to travel. That’s fine, I don’t think it’s in their best interest, but that is their decision. Only, they finally do get married and decide to start a family and, low and behold, they can’t get pregnant because they waited so long! You can’t have everything people! If money and travel and education is more important than marriage and children, fine. That is your decision but don’t go complaining when you finally decide to put away your selfish ambitions if things don’t go as planned. If you are comfortable with and willing to take those risks, fine, but most people end up miserable and regretting the time they wasted on trivial things. They are fifty when their kid graduates from high school and seventy before they get their first grand kid. It sounds like foolishness to me. But we are like this with everything, not just kids. We want to have a good paying job, a skinny Minnie body, spend lots of time with our spouses and kids and still have time for a hobby. Real life just doesn’t work that way, or at least not for 90% of us. Working 40 hours a week is not conducive to spending a lot of time with your family unless you are willing to give up almost everything else. If your gym membership means that much to you, just accept that you probably won’t have time for that hobby and you may miss putting your kids to bed. We can’t have everything! You have to make decisions based on what is most important to you but don’t complain when you aren’t happy with the result…you made that choice!

I have a couple more, but that is enough for now. 🙂

“Love, and do what thou wilt.”

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The title of this post is a quote from Saint Augustine. It is a simple sentence with profound implications on our spiritual lives. Essentially, he is saying that if we love God, truly love Him, then we can do whatever we want, because what we want to do is to love Him. This may not seem like much, but it is huge!

How much time do we, as Christians, spend agonizing over decisions constantly trying to figure out what God is calling or leading us to do? The answer is simple:

“Delight yourself in The Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

Does this mean that we are all going to be rich and famous? No. It means, when God is the desire of our heart, we don’t have to worry about trying to discerning His will for our lives.

The problem is that we, as sinful humans, ask the wrong question. We want to know, “How much can I get away with?” Or “What do I have to do?” Both of these stem from selfishness…we are concerned that we may have to give up our “fun,” that we won’t be able to watch our favorite tv shows, drink alcohol or wear bikinis. Wake up people! What do you think would have happened to you if Jesus had let his own petty concerns get in the way of His service to the Father? He freed us from the sort of legalism that we constantly inflict on ourselves. We put rules around ourselves in an effort to keep ourselves from sin, but the result is that we make the act of breaking our rules a sin in and of itself. This distracts us from what is important, serving God and honoring Him with every aspect of our lives. That is the question we should ask, “What can I do to bring glory to God? What can I sacrifice for His sake?” But instead we worry about things like, “Is it ok to watch rated R movies?”

People ask me why I wear skirts, cover my head, don’t family plan, etc. Well-meaning Christians feel the need to point out to me that the Bible doesn’t say I have to do these things. We could argue the point, but it doesn’t matter because I don’t feel like I have to do these things, I choose to do them. The Bible does tell me enough to know that it honors both The Lord and my husband for me to clothe myself modestly, my head covering is a symbol of submission, as is our letting God decide our family size.

Many women feel that these things are restrictive, or hard to do, and they can be at times, but that is why it is a sacrifice. But don’t get me wrong, I don’t always get it right and I daily find new things and ways that I could but fail to honor God through my actions. I am still susceptible to legalistic thoughts as well as judging others around me who choose differently than I. Recently, we have been convicted of the food that we eat and choosing more Christ honoring foods by which we can be better stewards of the earth and our bodies. These changes will require quite a bit more effort from me because it takes a lot more prep to make things like bread from scratch. My first instinct is to think, “This is too hard, takes too much time, it’s not worth it.” So I have to turn to the word and remind myself that this is honoring to God for me to care for my body, His temple. And that is worth anything I have to give. It is my privilege to give up my life for His glory.

It is important to note the order in which things should be done. Love God first and foremost. Christ honoring actions follow. I think that we as Christians often try to impose our own rules for living on the world without first worrying about whether or not they apply. The bible was written for all people. Christ dies for all people, but the scriptures that address christian living….are for Christians. If someone is not a christian, we need to address the state of their heart rather than their actions.

Also, I don’t want anyone to get confused, you cannot truly love someone without knowing them, we get to know The Lord by reading His word and communicating with Him through prayer. Anyone who claims they love Him and are acting in a way that is contrary to scripture needs to spend some serious time in prayer and Bible study. I am not condoning some sort of personal interpretation of God. Now, that being said, I hope that you have found this to be encouraging and challenging, as always.

We will continue to implement new changes in our lives in an effort to better serve and honor God, and no doubt our family and friends will think we are crazy, but that too is ok. Today, I would encourage you to stop asking, “Do I have to?” And start loving God in any and every way possible. When you love God, you can do whatever you want….love God more!

Family (Un)Planning

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If you read my page Radical Faith, Radical Obedience, Radical Life, you will see that Christian and I don’t practice family planning. I sometimes say that we are “quiverfull” for simplicity because most people know what that means, but in all honesty we don’t really identify ourselves that way. For us it’s simply part of being radically obedient to our Lord and Saviour.

Once, during a discussion in an Introduction to Ethics class in college, I stated that I would never enter into a relationship with a man who was not a Christian. There was a lot of (mostly) respectful debate over the issue and most of my classmates disagreed with me, but for me it comes down to this: what good is religion that doesn’t change your life? If I say I am a Christian and try to live a Christ-centered life, why would I want to try to build a relationship with someone who does not have the same worldview or who has a completely different set of values than I do? It doesn’t make sense. What good is religion that has no impact on your daily life? None. It has no value.

So, when it comes to family planning, housecleaning, child-naming, wall-painting…everything should be evaluated in light of what the Bible says. Some things, the Bible is very explicit about, somethings not. When it comes to grocery shopping, there is no verse of scripture that I can look up which tells me if it is ok for me to purchase soda, potato chips or one brand of cheese over another. However, there are many verses which instruct us to care for our bodies as temples of the Lord, or to work and care for the Earth which we were placed here to tend. There are also many, many verses which address fiscal responsibility and proper money management. It is up to me to prayerfully make the best decisions that I can, based on the information available to me. The same is true for family planning.

The Bible actually has quite a bit to say on the matter of children, pregnancy and childbirth, but before we get to that, let me just explain how I came to the realization that family planning is bad.

Christian and I were married August 7, 2010. I was on the pill at the time and had been for a number of years because I suffered from Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD) which basically meant that I had PMS on steroids and was bed-ridden for the first day or two of my cycle each month. The hormones delivered via the pill, prevented my symptoms from becoming so severe and allowed me to function more or less normally during that time. However, it did some very weird things to my emotions. I felt completely out of control of myself. I would get mad for no reason, and intellectually I knew that I was being unreasonable, but I didn’t feel like I could control it. I would go days of barely speaking two words to Christian for fear of biting his head off if I opened my mouth. We knew that we wanted kids but when we said “I do” we were both unemployeed and had thousands of dollars of student loans, so we didn’t think we would be able to afford kids for quite a while.

A couple of months into our marriage I was really wanting to get off the pill but I was terrified of what would happen if my PMDD symptoms returned. We considered alternative contraceptives but didn’t find anything we thought would really work for us. About that time, the Lord began working on my heart. I heard an interview on the radio of Steve and Candace Watters talking about the book they co-authored titled, “Start Your Family.” Basically it was designed to challenge Christian couples on their world-view. And it worked. It really made me stop and think about how I was viewing children. The Bible clearly states that children are a blessing (Ps. 127 &128). However, the American culture says that children are expensive and the prevent you from having a fullfilling career, or being able to travel or sleep in late on Saturday. I was very convicted that I had been thinking of children as an expense we couldn’t afford rather than a way that God may choose to bless us.

I approached Christian with what I was feeling and while he understood what I was saying, he wasn’t immediately convinced that we should do away with the contraceptives. I was still very nervous about what to expect if I went off the pill and while he was working and we were making ends meet, we still didn’t feel that we could afford a child. So, we prayed about it, and talking about and read what the Bible had to say. In the end we both became convinced that to try to exert our own influence over our family size is hubris. Basically, if we believe what the Bible says about children (that they are a blessing and reward from God) and what the Bible says about God providing for us (He will never give us more than we can handle and He has plans to prosper us), then, in light of all that, trying to plan our family according to our own wants, we are looking God in the face and saying, “We don’t want your blessings. Why don’t you bless us some other way, but not with children.” or maybe, “We want you to bless us in two or three years, but not right now, right now we want finacial blessings.” We are assuming that we know better than God how many kids we should have and when we should have them. Otherwise, if we trully beleive all of those things the Bible has to say about children and providing for us, then we would be willing to let God act in our lives, bless us as He sees fit, when He see fit and provide for us in the same way.

So, in January, after about six months of marriage, we agreed that we would never again use either contraceptives or fertility treatments. Instead, we would live our lives as husband and wife, striving to honor God in our daily lives and if He chooses to bless us with kids, great, if not, that is ok too. Ironically enough, after going off the pill, not only did my PMDD symptoms not return, my emotional state significantly improved, as did our satisfaction with our physical intimacy. We felt liberated and like the stress of constantly thinking, “Did I take my pill?” or “When should we have kids?” all of that was no longer an issue.

In May, we made the decision to move to be closer to family. This meant that Christian quit his job and at the time we moved, he had not yet found another job. So, when on July 13th I took a pregnancy test and saw that positive sign, we were super excited, and also super under employed. As a testament to God’s faithfulness, He blessed Christian with a part-time job the same week we found out we were expecting. So, we then had income  but there was no way we were going to be able to afford health insurance for a baby. I, being young, am still on my parent’s insurance, so we were able to afford my drs appointments.

So, we began to prepare and plan for the birth of our child. Our family blessed us with many hand-me-downs, and gifts all the while making not-so-subtle comments about bad timing or unplanned pregnancies. Then in January 2012, when I was seven months pregnant, Christian was promoted to manager which came with a $3/hr pay raise. Now, we would be able to afford health insurance! Again, God had proven himself faithful and provided for our needs in His time, not in our time.

Micah was born on March 16th. You can read all about his story on my post, Micah’s Story. Long story short, our planned out-of-hospital birth ended up in a c-section. Immediately after his birth, I was so happy and excited. We loved him to death and were so happy to be parents, but we both also experienced some doubt and anxiety concerning our committments about not planning our family. Doctors kept telling me that I should wait 18 months before conceiving again, which gave Christian pause as he was concerned about my health. The health concerns is not what worried me though, it was our family. Everyone was very excited about Micah, but it didn’t take more than a couple of weeks before I started hearing comments like, “We sure hope you’re going to wait a while before having another.” or, “I bet you changed your mind now that you know what you’re getting yourself into.”

It took a lot of prayer and repeatedly reading Psalm 139 to quiet my doubts and stop worrying about what others think. We are at peace with our decision and honestly believe that to really trust and honor God with this area of our lives, we must leave things up to Him. If it weren’t for my less-than-supportive family, I wouldn’t have any qualms whatsoever. I feel that my health is better and mine and Christian’s relationship, as well as our relationship with God has only grown stronger and closer since we decided to (un)plan our family.

I hope this has given you some food for thought. Please, feel free to contact me with any questions or (respectful) comments.

An overdue update

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I haven’t posted in quite a while, so here we go!

Micah is almost 5 months old…crazy! He had a doctor’s apt. this week to get a couple of vaccines (remind me to post about vaccines, what we’re doing and why). While there, the nurse weighed him. He weighs 14.7 lbs. My little man is growing up fast! He rolls over in both directions, plays with his feet and is REALLY close to sitting up by himself.

This past Sunday I discovered kinda by accident just how close he is to sitting up on his own. We got to church late for Sunday School and I needed to nurse Micah, so I fed him then stayed with him in the nursery playing with the other babies until it was time for the service. After he had eaten, I sat on the floor with him on the floor in front of me. I was holding onto his hips so that he had to support and balance his upper body. And he just sat there, sitting up straight and not wobbling around at all. So, I let go, and he just kept sitting there! I had no idea he could do that! He sat for almost a minute unsupported before falling over. I was completely amazed. So, he can sit up for brief periods and is getting better everyday.

Christian is going to Wisconsin on a business trip this week. It will be the longest we have been apart since getting married and the first time we have been apart at all since Micah was born. I’m sure it will be hard, but he is also really excited about the trip. Then, as soon as he gets back, he will begin teaching a math class at our local community college. Also, I am going to be caring for a little boy whom I will refer to as “A,” beginning Friday. He is 6 weeks younger than Micah, so I’m sure I will be VERY busy. So, this week coming up is going to be a lot of firsts and some big changes, but I’m excited to see how God is working in our lives and we are very grateful for the new opportunities He has blessed us with!

On another note, I am venturing into the world of cloth diaper sewing, and so far I have had a lot of fun, but I’m still not sure how well my creations are going to work. I’ll keep you posted!

Allotments

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Today in Sunday school, we discussed Joshua chapter 17. At first glance this is one of thos boring Old Testament chapters listing people long dead and obscure, unpronounceable place-names. One is tempted to dismiss or skip over this chapter and the others like it. But the Bible is the inspired word of God. Paul teaches that all scripture is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training (2 Tim 3:17), so that means that these obscure passages must have a purpose, something to teach us, right?

Joshua 17 is describing the land allotments for the tribes of Manasseh and Ephraim, in the promised land. It is very detailed, listing towns and describing landmarks and boundary lines. So, what relevance could this possibly have on our lives today?

Acts 17: 24-26 says:

The God who made the world and everything in it is the the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else. From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.

2 Peter 2:9 says

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

As you seeing the theme here? God not only is aware of your specific situation, he has a purpose for you and he has ordained that you should be exactly where you are, at this exact time, for the purpose of praising and glorifying him. I, for one, find this very encouraging.