Florida-G3 2021

We have been very busy! God has been incredibly kind and merciful to us in so many ways. The children and I have been memorizing Psalm 103, and it has helped me to hold on to God’s promises in the midst of some things my heart is aching for.

Libby is quite the typer. She actually typed everything you are about to read. I literally had no time to type, so it was good to delegate. I hope that with time, her writing becomes more and more insightful, but this was amazing as a record of our activities! I literally just had to add some comas here and there, and delete others. But wow, I’m glad she has been taking her typing lessons online becasue she was fast! LOL!

OUR VACATION

Last week we went to the beach in Panama City, Florida. We stopped  at a restaurant for breakfast and for lunch. I don’t remember if we ate dinner at the hotel or at another restaurant. We got to our hotel around 6:00 pm. and started unpacking. 

Our room had two TV’s, one bed, one bunkbed, one bathroom, and one closet. After unpacking, we went down to the beach and watched the sunset. It was beautiful. We took a few photos too. Then we went back to our hotel and slept.

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and went to the beach at around 10:00 am. All of us were ready with our swimsuits, including Danny. He loved the water!  At first he just sat there, letting the water gently brush his toes. Then he actually crawled into the ocean.  We had to go get him because he had started crawling farther than was safe for him. He really wants to start walking. If you grab him by the wrists, he instantly stands up and starts walking away. And he goes so fast that he always stands on his tippy-toes. Mommy walked with him from the sand all the way to the ocean until the water was at Danny’s chest. Danny loved it. He kept picking up sand and seeing it fall though his fingers. Somehow he knew not to eat it. 

There were a lot of fishes. I had goggles to go underwater. I tried catching some with my hands. They are seriously more afraid of the waves than of you. They try to touch your feet, and there were tons of them. If you tried to catch them, they would swim away a few feet and then come back five seconds later. I tried kicking up sand while I was underwater, but they just swam through it, even more curious. When they were going through it, I tried to catch them because they probably couldn’t see that well. I touched half a fish, but it got away. 

After the beach, we went to our hotel pool. Most pools usually feel cold at the beginning but then it feels better. This pool was cold even after you got in. There was a hot tub next to the pool. When I got in, it felt burning, but you got used to it. Daddy got in too. Enzo touched the water and instantly jumped back in the pool. Daddy’s watch showed that the hot tub was 100F. In the pool, there was a lazy river that went from right to left in a loop. The current was really strong. Even with my mermaid tail, I could not swim against the current. I just stayed in one place and got more and more tired. Danny was tired from the beach, so he fell asleep on daddy’s chest.

After the pool we had some pizza. Danny had one whole slice of pizza to himself. We went back to our room and all took showers. Enzo and I watched some TV, and soon after that we had some dinner at a restaurant really close to our hotel. Then Daddy took us to play mini golf. It was very fun. He was first place, Mommy was second, Enzo was third, and, of course, I was last. Then we went to our room and went to bed. 

The next morning Mommy and Daddy went to exercise and we went with them. After they were done, we went back to the hotel and had breakfast, then went to the beach and pool again. Then we went back to our room, took showers again, ate dinner, then went to sleep. In the morning, Mommy and Daddy went to exercise again, but this time, they left us at the hotel, and we watched TV until they came back. After they returned, we ate breakfast, and first we went to the pool. Danny floated a little in his float, but he was shivering, so he had to get out. Mommy and I decided to go to the beach. There were a lot of jellyfish in the water, so we did not swim. There were also twenty dead jellyfish on the shore! After the beach, we did not take showers but we started packing. 

After we finished packing, we went to a surprise Daddy had planned for us. When we got there, we found out it was an amusement park! It was small, which was good because, if we wanted to, we could ride everything. We rode on bumper cars, bumper boats, and we went to a fun house. We also rode on a rollercoaster. It was small, but it was a real rollercoaster. Real turns and loops. The feeling in my stomach was awful. 

Then there was something that looked like a ginormous carousel, but it was a little bit tilted and there were cars. And they were all connected to the top and they spun super fast. The cars didn’t touch the ground, the machine just pulled them. Enzo and I went on it, and it felt almost the same as the rollercoaster. It went so fast! It lasted a few minutes with the cars going forward. Then it slowed down and finally stopped. Then, just as I thought someone was going to get us off, it started going again. This time, backwards. I think going backwards was a little better, but not much. 

Then we went on something like a tilted ferris wheel, But it went faster. There were no seatbelts, so you had to hold on really tight. When you went up, your seat turned. It can turn all the way around and keep going, so when we went up, we flipped over. It was scary, but soon it was over. There was also a black-light mini golf. It was very fun. 

We went back to our hotel two or three hours later. We all went to sleep, ate breakfast the next morning, and we left to our new hotel. We got there in the evening, and unpacked quickly. We ate dinner, and went to sleep again. In the morning, we ate breakfast at our new hotel. It was really good. Then we went to G3 from 9:00 – 5:30. Then we did that again the next day. 

There was a huge aquarium right next to our hotel, and Daddy bought us tickets!  First we saw the sharks. There was a tiger shark. Then there were the hammerhead sharks. After the sharks, we saw big stingrays, fish, sea turtles, and two huge whale sharks! Then we saw a show with dolphins and after that, a show with sea lions. 

We also saw otters, penguins, puffins, sea dragons (which look like sea horses, but they actually have wings), crocodiles, jellyfish, a 4-D show about an octopus, and beluga whales. There were three beluga whales in one tank and two seals in the same tank. I don’t know what the seals were doing in the same tank as the beluga whales, because most animals had separate tanks.

There was also a petting zoo where we could pet stingrays. Their barbs had been taken off so that they could not sting us. They were very calm. They felt so soft and squishy! I think that was everything. The aquarium was awesome. 

Then we packed our things again on Saturday and drove home. We arrived late in the night. We went to church on Sunday and unpacked when we came home. 

I loved our vacation. We had so much fun and went so many places. 

God’s Discipline in Motherhood

I have been learning about trials, and how they relate to the Lord’s discipline. I know God is using trials in my life as of late. The following text comes from the book of Hebrews 12:3-12.

3 Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted

4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 

5 And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by Him.

6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves,
    and chastises every son whom He receives.”

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 

8 If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. 

9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 

10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 

11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 

13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed

Easter Sunday 2021

I hope that by the end of this post, you might see how God uses His hand of discipline in motherhood. Of course, as in all my writing, I am talking to myself here. I need to process my thoughts.

Personally, I always thought of this section in the book of Hebrews as talking about the trials and persecutions that come from living the Christian life, and that is certainly the context in this epistle. These believers are facing intense persecution, and some are not even willing to gather with the church anymore (Hebrews 10:25).

I guess I had always associated the word discipline as something negative, as something that yes, you have to endure, as verse 7 says.

7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?

The Lord loves you, and He is your Father, therefore He will discipline you – like a spiritual spanking of sorts – to grow you in holiness. That is also what verse 10 says.

10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 

God does this because we ARE legitimate children, and He is treating us as sons. So in my head, I think I thought, “You may not like the discipline,  but it is good for you, so… you are gonna have to suck it up, Buttercup.”

But I was wrong in considering discipline as only trials and persecutions, and bad providences. Particularly bad providences. I saw those as the Lord getting even with me. You know, I KNOW God’s wrath has been spent on Christ on my behalf, but I mean, what if the Lord considered it wise to bring some suffering my way in order to make me holy? Or what if I actually sinned in such way that the Lord chastised me with bad providences in order to get my attention? That is not at all unbiblical. It happened in the life of David as a result of his adultery with Bathsheba. Their first baby died as a direct consequence of their sin.

Maybe I did do something wrong or thought some things about the Lord that I shouldn’t have, and therefore I am experiencing what I am experiencing as a result. Honestly, though, if the Lord got even with me for every moment I don’t worship Him or think highly enough of Him as He truly deservers, I would be dead. Like DEAD.

The trials in my life lately have taught me to trust the Lord completely. I have put down the guard that unconsciously had developed in my heart. I know God does not afflict me from His heart (Lamentations 3: 33). He does bring suffering directly and indirectly – I can see that clearly in the Scriptures – but it is never as revenge or to get even. He brings suffering into my life because He loves me. He cares for me. And to the world of unbelievers, that makes no sense at ALL.

And I also think some believers recoil at the idea of a God who from all eternity decreed everything that occurs, without reference to anything outside himself; that He did this by the perfectly wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, and yet God did this in such a way that He is neither the author of sin nor has fellowship with any in their sin – THAT GOD is almost a monster in their minds. But I cannot see it any other way. It would be terrifying to have it any other way. I know that God declares the end from the beginning, and that He accomplishes His purpose – even in my pain (Isaiah 46:10).  

Job knew this. He knew the LORD gave, and the LORD took it away. He still blessed the LORD (Job 1:21). Job knew he was receiving evil – really bad life circumstances – from the LORD (Job 2:10, 42:11). I could say the same about Joseph, all his sufferings had a purpose. Some of the sweetest and most humble and gracious people that I know – that I aspire to be like – have suffered a great deal. Ever since I was pregnant with Danny, it’s like I was on alert. I was thinking, “When will it be my turn to experience some suffering?” I have never suffered for my faith, and God has been so good to me, that you know, I was like, “What are you going to do next, Lord? Are you going to take this baby away? Are you going to take my husband away? Are you going to allow cancer to invade my body? What are you going to do? I need suffering, and it’s like I know it might come sooner or later…”

Elizabeth Elliot is so gracious, I think, in her definition of suffering. She defines it as having what you don’t want or wanting what you don’t have. I call it gracious because in my opinion it allows for a lot of first world problems. She experienced my worst fear times three – she lost three husbands. So when I read her book, Suffering Is Never For Nothing, I think I have never really suffered. But Elizabeth herself says she had not suffered like others had. She once knew a mother whose four year-old had spina bifida, and some tests revealed that the child that she was pregnant with would also have spina bifida. Nancy Guthrie lost her six month-old daughter due to a metabolic disorder. Her husband got a vasectomy, but the procedure reversed itself, and their second son also died when he was six months old due to the same metabolic disorder.

I can’t imagine having to bury two children one after another. I can’t imagine burying my husband. But I also suffer. My suffering might look different than theirs, but it is the suffering that God ordained for my life. And I am not confused. God is good. It just hurts, and it is okay that it hurts. There are situations in my life that I would have never chosen to go through, but it is precisely those that God is using for my ultimate blessing.

Regardless of the many reasons for my suffering, I think this has helped me realize that God is close to the broken-hearted. Just as God ordained the death of Lazarus for the glory of God (John 11:4), Jesus also was deeply moved and greatly troubled. He suffered with them (John 11:33). God can bring suffering directly and suffer with you. It is not either/or, it is both/and.

In my sadness I have discovered a new face of God that I had never seen, and it is a sweet face. I have not blamed Him or get angry with Him, if anything I am angry at sin, and death. Death should not be part of this world, but somehow it is. Sin has destroyed everything, and I find myself longing for heaven in ways that I had never done before.

It isn’t explanations that we need. It’s a person. We need Jesus Chrsit, our refuge, our fortress, the stronghold of my life. It takes desolation to teach us our need of Him.

Elisabeth Elliot

I think that was a long background for what I was trying to say: suffering is not necessarily always a direct result of wrong-doing. And I think I always associated the word discipline with bad consequences. But my pastor taught me the other day that discipline, really, involves the whole act of training up a child in the ways of the Lord.

Discipline involves the rearing of a child, the training up, the instruction, the rebuke, and yes, the chastisement. In a word, discipline is the proper instruction that trains someone to reach full development – full maturity. It involves much of what we think for the purpose of education. 

That’s what we do with our little ones, right? We spank them, but not only that. We correct them, we encourage them, we love them, we educate them in the Lord-  because we want them to be spiritually mature. So with this in mind, I want to encourage you today, and again, I’m talking to myself here… Where is God putting His finger in your life today?

You may not have children yet, or maybe you are en empty-nester. You may have never had children, but if you are God’s child, He is disciplining you. He is always training you. 

Behind every tear we have shed for our little ones when we see them in pain,

Or behind every prayer that we have prayed so that the Lord will bring them to Himself,

Or behind the sleepless nights when they are sick at the hospital,

Or behind the infertility or the many miscarriages,

Behind the exhaustion of potty training, or changing the diaper for the 20th time a day, 

Or behind our children’s disrespect, or their sinful choices as adults…

Behind all that, God is training us to achieve full maturity as His children. He is training us through our present circumstances -whatever they might be – to fully become what He wants us to be. And what is that exactly? What does God want to achieve in us? 

Ephesians 1:4 says He chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him. That’s exactly what Hebrews 12:10 says, He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 

Romans 8: 28-29 says He works all things for the good of those who – what? Those who love Him – for those who have been called according to His purpose. And those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to – what? To the image of His Son. He is making us more and more like Christ. Becoming like Christ involves going through the Lord’s discipline.

Now, I don’t know all the details of your life, there are great joys in motherhood. Nursing, your baby giggling for the first time, your child walking, or your children actually playing with one another. Sometimes we take those for granted, don’t we? I know I do. So enjoy those great moments. Cherish them and praise the Lord every morning for them. Thank Him. Make a habit or remembering the goodness and mercy of God. 

Where is God putting His finger in your life today?

Elisabeth Elliot

But temptations to be forgetful will come specially when things are not going that well. So like I said at the very beginning of Hebrews 12:3, Consider Him, who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Whatever season it is that you are in, do not take His discipline lightly, or despise it, as Hebrews 12:5 says. You see, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Proverbs 3:11-12. I think the danger with discipline is that when we are going through it, we might either take it lightly (we might despise it/hate it), or we actually may become so discouraged that we will feel that we cannot go on. We might become weary. 

And I also think that’s why the author of Hebrews gives us in Hebrews 12:6 (that accords to Proverbs 3:12) the reason to persevere. The reason we are able to endure is not because we Suck it, up buttercup. The reason is that the Lord disciplines the one He loves, and chastises every son whom He receives. If you are in Christ, God loves you with an everlasting, electing love that He only gives to His children, and that’s why He is training you, because He wants you to become like His Son. So we endure it with joy.

Hebrews 12:2 says we endure in the race by looking at Jesus. We set aside the sin that entangles us, and we focus on Him. He endured because of the joy that was set before Him, He despised the shame of the cross. I think looking inward or looking at others will disappoint us dearly, so we ought to consider ONLY Him. He is a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3).

There are many more things that I wish I could say, but for now I guess I’ll just finish by saying this:

My God is always good. He makes no mistakes, and everything that has happened and will happen in my life happens because He considered it necessary for my training as His child. He loves me, and His discipline is one of fatherly love. I know that now. That actually makes me happy and able to find joy in the midst of the trials of this life. I don’t know the reasons of why things happen, and I don’t really think I need to know or that I could handle it. But I know the One who holds the universe by the word of His power, and I trust Him completely.

Trial, to speak plainly, is the instrument by which our Father in heaven makes Christians more holy. By trial He calls out their passive graces and proves whether they can suffer His will as well as do it. By trial He weans them from the world, draws them to Christ, drives them to the Bible and prayer, shows them their own hearts, and makes them humble. This is the process by which He “prunes” them and makes them more fruitful. The lives of the saints in every age are the best and truest comment on the text. Never, hardly, do we find and eminent saint, either in the Old Testament or the New, who was not purified by suffering and, like His Master, a “man of sorrows.”

Learn us learn to be patient in the days of darkness, if we know anything of vital union with Christ. Let us remember the doctrine of the passage before us [John 15:1-6] and not murmur and complain because of trials. Our trials are not meant to do us harm, but good. God chastens us “for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). Fruit is the thing that our Master desires to see in us, and He will not spare the pruning knife if He sees we need it. In the last day we shall see that all was well done.

J.C.Ryle, Expository Thoughts on The Gospel of John, p.268

Spring happenings

I have not kept my goal for blogging this year. Let’s see… what has happened in our lives lately?

  1. Danny is six months old, and almost 18 lb.

2. There was a winter storm in Houston like a month ago, and we lost power and water. The house got around 50F, so it was like camping, but nicer.

3. We also went camping. Emerson ran a 50K trail-race, and I am training for a 5K pushing Danny on the stroller.

COLORADO BEND STATE PARK

4. Homeschooling is going well. There are days that are complicated because Danny cries all the time, and I just can’t teach the children some subjects. Other days he sleeps well and we can have a lot of subjects done, but not as many as we were used to. I am looking forward to having a long break, but not too long, otherwise they will forget stuff. LOL!

Some people have told me I need to relax, that the children will do fine with school. I am trying to believe that. I am trying to remember that you don’t have a baby every homeschool year, right? Right? If we do have another baby (and it is my prayer that we do) then it will only get crazier, but sweeter 🙂

Astronomy and Colossians

I turned 38 years old last week. It was a sweet celebration. I had my favorite for dinner: steak, sweet potatoes, and asparagus. There was also a humongous chocolate cake that I made myself, although the recipe is not mine. A sweet friend from church shared it with me since I basically ate an entire 9 in. x 13 in. cake pan when they brought us dinner after Dany was born 😬

So I finally finished reading my commentary on the book of Ephesians, and I began reading the book of Colossians. I have always wanted to study Colossians deeper as I’ve heard it talks about the supremacy of Christ. My commentary is on the way, but this morning I read this from Colossians 1:9-14,

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

As I shared in my last post, I have been reading You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I cannot say I did not know what she has been talking about throughout the whole book. I did know. I am terrible at remembering my Savior, though. I sin when I forget whom do I belong to. I was thinking about this two days after my birthday:

“Will there be a day in which I won’t feel the temptation of wanting to be enough APART from Christ?”

I know I am nothing without Him. I know my identity is in Him. I know every breath is a mercy coming from Him. I know – in my head. And then I forget. I don’t forget to the point of going backwards five years in my life, say, like when I began Christian counseling; there are days, however, where the feelings don’t match what I read in the Scriptures. And that’s where the fight is, right? At least for me. It really takes the work of the Holy Spirit to bring life into my heart to help me see Christ every day in the text. It takes the Holy Spirit to make me die to self every single morning as I start my day.

The chapter Turn to Christ is by far my favorite because she talks about the sun and the moon. It rocked my world!

Rachel starts,

Being oriented to Christ and to the glory of God is in fact the answer to almost every human trouble. The fact that it is almost always the correct answer is NOT the same thing as being the answer we always want to hear. The phrase “Turn to Christ” is a well-trod path in Christian encouragement. You have probably heard it before, and here I am saying it all over again. If you are struggling in your life, this kind of advice might make you feel like you are being dismissed.

Do you feel lonely? Turn to Christ.

Do you feel like you are laboring under burdens that are destroying you? Turn to Christ.

Do you feel the deep need to know and be known? Turn to Christ.

Do you wonder where the time is going and why anything matters? Turn to Christ

Ain’t this the truth? Turning to Christ is the obvious answer, but she is right, sometimes I don’t want to hear that. Maybe in all my ramblings, I hope, you can see that I am a selfish individual in desperate need of God’s saving grace. It has never been my intention to present myself as anything else. This chapter was awesome to read. It exposed my sin clearly. I was like, “WOW… somebody finally put into words what I feel when everything in me wants to yell like Pam.”

Mostly, this is how the inside of me feels when I struggle. And I almost never have time to sit down right then, and think why I feel the way I feel, and deal with it quickly. If I let it go for a long time, it just starts piling up, piling up, piling up, and then BOOM!

I learned to do that in counseling. It wasn’t like the counselor would teach me how to think, she would just basically ask me questions, and I would ramble for an hour and cry. It takes time and prayer to deal with my feelings. By prayer, I don’t mean hearing the voice of God telling me what’s wrong. I mean I actually ask God to help me deal with my feelings as I read His Word. It has been His Word and seeing Him there, seeing Christ there, what has healed my once-broken heart. But it does take time for me to process why I feel the way I feel at times. There is always sin involved.

Like the other day, my husband and I argued for a whole day. I was so upset. It was so stupid in the end. He was so kind in listening to me trying to put two sentences together without me getting angry or overwhelmed. Then the children would come and interrupt, or it was time to cook, or the baby would cry… It all ended up being that I wanted romance in our marriage. And when he said it, it took him two seconds. He said, “Karla, I know what you want. You want romance.”

I was like, “Why didn’t you say that five hours ago!? It would have taken us five minutes to deal with this issue, and not the whole day.” But he was so sweet and said he wanted to hear me, to hear how I felt, and telling me what he already knew was not gonna help. He is really patient with me.

🙂

Rachel continues,

I know that for many of you this admonition would make you think something like this: “Yes, yes, I see Christ. But what about this mess here? I’m talking about this mess in my life, I am not talking about Him! I know He is perfect, I just can’t figure out how that is supposed to help me right now! I want to be known because I want a husband, not because I don’t know about Christ. I want to be free of the guilt and shame of my weight problem because I want to be attractive, and I don’t see how looking to Christ will magically make me more appealing! I want someone to tell me that I matter to them and that I am important, not read the words of Christ because He says those things to everyone. I want something more than that. Stop telling me to look to Christ because I already know about Him and I’m still here having this problem!”

Talk about some honesty here! I had not seen that level of honesty in a book – ever. I have felt like that. That’s the kind of thing that got me into counseling. I was manipulating my children, my husband, and all my relationships were very codependent (which is secular jargon for idolatrous). I wanted worship – that was it. Of course, I would have never said that, I don’t even think I knew what was happening to me at that moment. All I knew was that I was in a lot of pain.

The deeper I dived into my Bible, the deeper the conviction grew. It was almost as if God were performing heart surgery. The pain grew deeper in a way. I wanted my husband to love me, and give me all his attention. I wanted all his time. I wanted to feel – to be – beautiful, but then I didn’t. I would go around in circles, worrying about things, grumbling, not being happy. My family never talked about anything – everything was stuffed down. Am I making sense? If I ever felt angry or sad or whatever, I never learned to put a name to those emotions and deal with them accordingly, let alone doing so from a biblical perspective.

Like say, anger. Anger happens, but anger can be sinful. So there’s a way to express your anger, deal with your anger and actually, repent from your anger. The same with sadness. The more and the longer I read my Bible, I saw Him. I saw Christ as beautiful. Everything that I ever wanted, He was giving it to me, and I was rejecting Him because I wanted those things from Emerson, not from Christ. Like, Christ was good and all, but I wanted to feel loved, deeply loved by my husband. Appreciated. Seen. Heard. Valued. And those things are not wrong, but there’s a fine line in which those desires can turn into idolatry. I crossed that line and Emerson, my children and other people were sitting on the throne of my heart – not Christ.

It was sinful to demand this from my husband. It was evil of me to manipulate the relationship in order to get those things, you know, like when you play victim? Plus It was actually unfair. I was putting on my husband the burden of carrying my heart, my troubles, my pain, when the man was not even able. Emerson is a great man, but He is not Jesus. Emerson is not supposed to satisfy my every single need or fulfill me – God is.

Anyway, this is not a counseling session, and of course, I don’t expect you to relate to me. I am just here thinking no one gets to write a book and nail those feelings perfectly just randomly. This woman, Rachel, has to have experienced those herself. And I am thankful she is better at writing them down, and doesn’t ramble like me LOL! I am thankful she point us to Christ. This book has definitely done that for me. So…

This is when she talks about the moon,

This reveals something that is wrong in our thinking. Jesus Christ is not a glorious mountain that makes up part of the scenery of our life. Looking at Him in the distance as though He was an immobile and indifferent thing is part of the problem. We think we are looking to Christ when what we are doing is simply being aware of His existence.

Imagine that the moon was having a hard time. Imagine it crying to itself, saying, “I don’t know what to do anymore! I don’t feel useful. I don’t feel beautiful. I just sit here in the darkness all the time with no purpose, no goals, no identity. I feel useless, adrift. No one cares about me or wants me to be anything special.”

What if someone could say to the moon, “Look to the sun! Just do what you were made for! Reflect the glory! Look to the sun while you go on your journey and your face will be bright! You are beautiful when you are oriented to the sun. You are purposeful when you are oriented to the sun. You are needed when you are oriented to the sun. You were made to be oriented to the sun!”

Now imagine the moon saying something like, “Oh, that? That seems sort of unrelated. Why would that help me? What does that have to do with anything? I mean, I know it is there, but it has always been there. It doesn’t have anything to do with the way I am feeling right now. It just seems like pointless platitudes. It doesn’t really feel like you are listening to me.”

On a fundamental level, we were created in order to do this. This is our purpose. This is our calling. Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ. We don’t look to Him like we are looking at a poster of a faraway place. We do not look to Him like He is a piece of information in a textbook. We do not look at Him like we look at an old family snapshot, remembering a good time. We look to Him as we were created to look at Him—in an interactive, glorifying relationship. We reflect His glory. This metaphor of the moon and the sun is a biblically accurate metaphor for our relationship to Christ.

After reading that, I literally thought, “I’m an idiot.” 🤦‍♀️

I knew this. I knew this. And yet this was so clear. I seriously praised the Lord for His mercy in letting me see it yet again. All my issues always come when I start trying to reflect my own light. Can people reflect light? Of course they can. But when they try to reflect their own light, they end up being burned down. It is pretty exhausting.

Am I pretty enough?

Am I good enough?

Am I smart enough?

Am I thin enough?

Like, good enough for WHAT?!

I was talking to my son the other day. He was boasting about being better than his sister at playing this typing game they play. He didn’t come to me to share how much he liked the game, his intent was to tell me he was much better than her. I hate that. I don’t encourage that. I said, “Wait a minute. Can you actually type like she does? Because she is pretty good at it. I mean, she basically typed a whole chapter of my book faster than I could. Can you actually type?”

Of course he said no. I knew this. That was my way to poke at his heart.

So then we talked about his bragging, and how sinful the attitude in his heart was. He was boasting at being better at a game than his sister. I explained to him that I enjoy him playing that typing game, but that really, the whole point of those games is to improve his typing. If his typing is not really improving, then I don’t care how good he is at playing it. He has to actually finish his typing lessons, just like his sister did. I told him it was not my intention to hurt his feelings, but he needed to know that he was being proud, and being proud was an abomination to the Lord. We also looked at some Scriptures that literally said that. I was already feeling I was preaching to myself. God does that often when you are a parent.

Poor guy, he probably was just sharing with me, or maybe he wasn’t; it is those moments that I often use to disciple them. We talked about comparing oneself to others and how that is a terrible and dangerous game to play. If he is better than his sister at something, then he would be feeling better about himself, right? But when his sister is better than him at other things, then he gets depressed. I know my son. He is a mini me – physically and emotionally.

He actually said the other day that he felt like a lousy worm in the dirt (or something like that) when he does Math. Lots of drama, you see. This boy of mine needs to be confronted with the attitudes in his heart often.

And I do exactly the same thing!! Because deep down, hear me out… if I were actually better than other people, and I could be sure I am, or if at least I were satisfied where I am without comparing myself to others, then I would be content. We would be content in general. We would say that we are good at this or good at that. Nothing wrong with that, I talked about this in my last post. It is not sinful to recognize what God has done through you as long as you don’t glorify an earthly vessel.

Of course, I would never say I am much better than someone else at something. I know better, I know that sometimes that doesn’t look good on the outside, especially if I say it in order to feel better about myself. If I were actually better than others, and I knew it, I would be happy. We are always happy when we play the comparison game, and we end up being the better ones. Are we not?

But here’s the thing. Sometimes we don’t know if we are better, or we are not sure, and so, what do we do? We start asking questions, but we don’t ask direct questions like, “Am I more beautiful than my friend Sally?” or “Am I smart enough to finish a Science degree?” or “Am I fit enough to carry another pregnancy?” or “Am I a better mom than my neighbor?”

Danny is 16 weeks old 🙂

And what is the purpose of these questions anyway? Again, this is my way of processing things. Take no offense at this. I hope it does expose your idols if you have them.

My purpose when I begin the loophole of comparing myself to others and wondering whether I am good enough, or better than, is always that I, somehow, feel empty. Like Rachel said, “Whenever we are feeling lost and adrift and without purpose or goals or people who want us, we are in the middle of not doing our most fundamental job of looking to Christ.”

I look at other people to validate me. I look at other things to make me happy. I want to shine. I want to feel loved and appreciated and heard. And all those things are valid, but I will never shine the way I am supposed to shine as long as I keep trying to shine for my own sake, or for the sake of those things. I only shine my best when I shine for the sake of my Maker. When I am on the losing end in the comparison game, and I’m often there, life gets really blue. When I look at my husband and his reasoning skills, and his way of being organized, and his self-discipline, and his efficiency when he talks, and how focused he can be – basically he is everything that I am naturally not… Boy, when I look at him, I can get depressed so quickly. So quickly.

But I must not look up to other people to be my sun. I have a Sun, and it is Christ. When I try to shine and reflect the light of others, as if they were my sun; or when I try to be the sun of others, and make their lives revolve around me; or when I try to be my own sun, and get so focused on the self… Whenever I do any of that I am nothing but a thief. I am trying to steal the light from the One who owns the light. In reality I am nothing but a dark satellite with no light coming from me at all. When I bring myself up because I’m amazing at something, or when I bring myself down, and throw pity parties because my performance sucks; when I do all those things, I am opposing God by trying to steal the glory that rightfully belongs to only Him.

I mean, isn’t that what Satan did? He didn’t want to reflect the light. He wanted to BE the light. Satan was not perfectly content with being a beautiful satellite reflecting the light of the Sun. Satan wanted to be THE Sun, and that was precisely his downfall.

So I had this conversation with my son. I mean, not like that, but very similar. How gracious of God to give me, a sinner, the joy and the huge responsibility to raise little sinners. I had empathy. I actually talked to him about some of my struggles. The latest one being the use of make up because I woke up the other day and I saw in the mirror that I’m getting old. It was fun watching videos on how to apply it and what not, but at the end of the day, the dark circles and the wrinkles around my eyes are still there.

I shared with Enzo that deep in my heart sometimes I would like to be young again. I shared that the skin around my belly is not as firm as it once was, and everything is hanging low, and that very likely, it will continue to drop. And I have dark circles, and I want to look beautiful and vibrant, and he was laughing!

In the middle of my confessions, he actually said,

You see, my intention was to point him to Christ, not to his own abilities at the video game. I encouraged him to look to Christ if he doesn’t want to be carried away trying to be good at doing life on his own strength. He needs to practice typing, and also work hard at it; he can also be content if he is good at the game or at actual typing, but he should not boast about his abilities. He should rather praise God for them. How much of that talk actually made it into his heart? I don’t know. I pray a lot of it did.

It is always pride, isn’t it? Sometimes it masquerades as false humility when we try to put ourselves down or when we obsessively think about ourselves, and how we are not good enough this, or not good enough that. That’s the issue. Is culture trying to encourage our relationship with the One True God? No, culture always points us to ourselves. We are not the answer, though.

So here’s my mini-commentary of what I have thought about Colossians (finally!). It’s all stuff that has been on my mind since I read that chapter on the sun and the moon. I am probably preaching to myself here,

Look, you. Stop trying to pursue your own glory. It is not about you anyway. Whatever you do, do it for the glory of God, not for your own glory. Don’t be a glory thief. Be thankful your Maker has bestowed on you the great privilege of actually being able to reflect his glory, and that the more that He conforms you to the image of His Son, the more glorious you will become be, and the brighter you will actually shine. You will get the joy, and He will get the praise.

Forget about yourself. You want to please God? You really want to know if you are doing a good job? Then read. It is possible. God can actually be pleased with you. Stop trying to please others or make others please you until your face turns blue. Instead, get to work in pleasing Him because this is what life is all about. Here is how you do it.

Pray. Pray that He fills you up with with the knowledge of His will. When you know His will for your life, you will actually walk in a manner worthy of the Lord. When you know His will, you will actually be fully pleasing to Him. I am talking about the revealed will of God, not His will of decree. You can know His will in the things that you can actually do.

Your husband asked you to shred the pork? Do it, and do it gladly. Don’t give him the faces you give him, or rolls your eyes at him when he asks you to groom the gods. Submit to him, be a helper. Respect him. Honor him. Wanna please God? Endure with patience and joy. Take your children to the playground, and breath a prayer of thanksgiving. You actually have three children now. Didn’t you want that? Enjoy them, love them, cherish them. Yes, they can be particularly obnoxious at times, but so are you. Forgive them. Be compassionate with them.

Put to death what is earthly in you. Do not covet the life of others as if they have it better than you. You walked on these evil ways before, but now you must put them all away. Put away your wrath, kill your sin. Get up early to read your Bible. Go for a run. Be joyful. Pray often. Give thanks – in everything. This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Renew your mind. Don’t be a slave to sin.

Want to please God? Bear good fruit in every good work. Of course, go to church, read your Bible, and catechize your children, but don’t miss the forest for the trees. Bearing fruit is more than just doing good works or checking off a list. You can’t please God without faith first. When you begin checking off lists, you get overwhelmed and start thinking you will never please Him. The list will never end, and it is not about the list. It’s not about doing, it’s about being. You are His child. You have His love. You belong to Him. You are His, and He is yours.

God has prepared all these good works already for you to walk in them, so walk in them. You were saved not by works, but unto good works. You were saved for good works. Live accordingly. In your homeschool, teach them to love Christ. In your neighborhood, be kind. Speak truth. Do not shrink back. Make dinner joyfully. Get your hands dirty. Bake more bread. Make more pizza dough. Involve your family. It is a mercy, not a burden, that you get to cook often, and that there is always plenty. If you haven’t, give thanks.

Offer your whole live as sacrifice to the Lord. And do all this for His glory. Ask Him to give you His strength, for you will burn out if you are trying to do this on your own. The more you do this, the happier you will become, and the less self absorbed you will be. You will stop thinking about your skin not being firm, or your the wrinkles in your face.

More on how to please Him? Increase in your knowledge of your Creator. Repent. Embrace a high view of God and the Scriptures. Submit to a local church. When something rubs you wrong, you are the problem, not the Word. Be willing to be wronged, and be wiling to be taken advantage of at times – specially in your own household. Be patient. Endure. If pain and suffering visit your life for awhile, regard them as friends, not as foes. God is treating you like His child. He loves you, and He never gives to His children anything that they don’t need. If you find yourself without zeal for your Maker, then you are not living in His will.

In case I forget, give thanks! He has qualified you. He qualifies you. He literally made you able. He has made you competent, He has made you sufficient. Fit to work. You are not trying to live a worthy life. You are already worthy IN CHRIST – worthy of an inheritance of light. You are already qualified. Live up to it. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling then, because it is He who works in you to will and work for His good pleasure. He will complete His work in you.

He has transferred from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of His beloved Son – what a gift! What a glorious truth! Rejoice!! You have been redeemed, you have been forgiven. Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Get your second wind and keep running the race. Open your eyes, and fight the good fight of the faith. It is not easy. Be on your guard. Haven’t you noticed lately that the enemy of your soul never sleeps? He’s always prowling like a lion, ready to devour you. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

There’s no difference when done to the honor of the Lord between preaching and washing the dishes. As touching to please God, there is no difference at all. Do not look for loopholes. Women are not given the role of preaching with authority to men. Read your Bible. Trust and obey.

And STOP asking if you are enough. Ask yourself instead, ‘Am I fully pleasing to God?’ You will literally have your whole life with enough work in your hands to make sure you do.

Sister, as my Pastor told me, always keep your eyes on Christ and not men, and you will never be disappointed!

Wanna hear something super funny? I thought I had ordered a new commentary on Colossians. I was sure I had done that. But nope, I order a commentary on John 😂

BTW, thought this might prove helpful:

Colossians 1:12 – to the Father, who has qualified you, to share

Goals 2021 and my ramblings

Very few times I have received words of criticism well. Actually, I have never received them well. The one word I’ve lately been making a fuss about is the word aimless. We sat down recently as a family to discuss our goals for this new year. We have never done that together, I don’t think; if we have, I don’t remember. That’s not new. Also, I do not like setting goals.

After setting the goals a week ago, I think I know exactly why I have been sad/angry/depressed. Here it is: I am not a hard worker. I am a lazy individual. Of course I do stuff, it is not like I never lift a finger; I do work , but really, I think I like settling for the bare minimum.

You see… [let the reader understand]

I already have a very well-organized, corporate-oriented individual in my life. I don’t need to become one like him.

Obviously, nobody is telling me I need to become like my husband, but my heart freezes at the idea of actually writing stuff down, and working hard on making things happen. I like it messy in my life LOL! I actually kinda know what I am doing. Truly, though, I drift, and I drift often – like everyday. So when I heard the word aimless, I think I got really sad because I know it is true. Godly spouses tell you the truth.

I think it is here when well-intended individuals will say, “How dare he!? There, there, don’t beat yourself up; give yourself some grace. You have your plate full.”

Well, yeah, I get the sentiment. I am homeschooling my children. I also had a baby three months ago, and he’s not sleeping that much anymore during the day. I need to clean the house, cook meals, exercise, spend time with God, learn to play Pokemon, yada, yada. Anyway, first, only God can give me grace, and I need a lot of it; second, I am the one in the wrong here. It is true that I am aimless. I have been, in many areas of my life. By aimless I don’t mean that I haven’t accomplished anything in my life. I rock at teaching grammar, I am sustaining a life with my breast milk, and meals are put on the table; but it is also true that I need to manage my time better. I could be doing more things for God’s kingdom if only I would put the phone down.

I don’t start projects I know I am going to quit or that are going to be difficult to accomplish. I quit Organic Chemistry 101 for that reason in college. I think I have also realized that work is never done, and I want to have it all done. I was very overwhelmed last week over very silly stuff. So when I hear the word “goals” I think my mind goes to many places. And there’s no way to put it all into writing in this post, but I think the skinny would be that I tend to assume someone with very clear goals for their life is a very proud individual, and I don’t want to be proud. Therefore, I go to the other extreme, and I do nothing.

Huntsville State Park. Christmas 2020

I am wrong because setting goals has nothing to do with humility or pride. Having goals is not necessarily sinful, although your motives can be.

You see, dear ones, the opposite of pride is not putting yourself down, but to think of yourself with sober judgment. When Paul is saying that he is not inferior to the super apostles in the church in Corinth, does that sound like pride? Paul actually tells the church in Corinth that they should have commended him, but he knows he is nothing. Paul considers himself the least of the apostles, yet, he is what he is; yet not him, but the grace of God working in him. Do you hear that? That is sober, mature, self-assessment. Paul knows what God made him for, what God assigned to him; he can recognize what God has done through him, and yet in every one of those ways, Paul saw himself as nothing. It was all grace. Grace. Grace. You can recognize what God has given to you, assigned to you, and accomplished through you, and yet you can do it in a way that it never glorifies a clay jar.

Pastor Richard Caldwell
Founders Baptist Church
Spring, TX
Sober Judgement, Romans 12:3
Dec. 20, 2020

And that’s where the struggle was. I think I held to the wrong idea that writing things down and accomplishing them, or even trying to accomplish them, was a prideful endeavor. But like, great men of the faith have accomplished great things through the history of the church, right? I don’t think they winged it. They had to be hard workers, right? And men of the Word, and men of prayer… they had to have a plan.

Long story short, I began focusing on myself. When I do that, it only gets worse. My pity parties and spiritual tantrums always lead me to ugly places. My sinful heart leads me to want to be enough, but I am not enough, so I try harder. Then I get sad because I know that I am not enough, and I will never be.

What?! I mean, just writing it down, I’m like, “LOOK TO CHRIST, YOU SILLY WOMAN!!”

I listened to this video the other day, and it made me cry. It’s really good regarding goals for 2021. It was probably nor super profound, but God accomplished with it what He wanted to accomplish, mainly, to show me that I was not looking up to Him. Instead I was looking at myself as my own savior, and I am a terrible god.

I think you can’t pin your sanctification to the calendar. What is a good Christian practice is to reevaluate things that we have been doing because sometimes we drift, and we think that the next year somehow is going to fix itself. Or you think that you will stop worrying when life is not so worrisome. So the woman you want to be in fifteen years is really the woman that you should be trying to be now, which is basically, ‘Today if you hear His Word, do not harden your heart.’

Your obedience is important today. Your obedience yesterday, you either did or you didn’t; and your obedience tomorrow, well, it really takes no courage or faith to obey in your imaginary future. All you have in your hand are things that God put in them today. How can you be faithful today with what God has given you? And based on 2020, there is no reason to believe that 2021 is going to be a smooth sailing… you have to look to Christ, because things are just not going to happen

What Have You

It made me realize I have to set goals because the things I want to accomplish for God’s glory are not gonna happen just with wishful thinking, like, “Yeah, I need to write more blog posts.”

It’s so easy to drift into thinking, “What am I doing with all my time? Am I really working toward something? What are these great things that I am set to do for the glory of God? Does it even matter? Where is the ‘Wow, Mommy, you do really make the best pancakes!’ Where’s the glory in changing a diaper for the fifth time today, or wiping the urine off the toilets seats and floors?

I get it. I get why women need an attaboy. We are needy. Boy, was I so needy last week! I needed some validation. That was so sinful because in real, practical life, Christ was not enough for me. That’s also why I worked outside the house when I had the chance. And while I am not saying all women sin when they do this, I am saying I was sinning because I wanted to be praised, and nobody praised me at home. It felt good to receive a paycheck, no matter how small it was. I have realized since Daniel was born that I am weak; my body feels weak, my mind is weak, my heart is weak. My heart is so prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love, and yet, He is so merciful that He keeps on calling me back. YHWH is such a good, merciful God, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

I have been reading a book that is pointing me to Christ, and that basically called out all my sin in the last weeks. It’s You Who, by Rachel Jankovic. I also read an article by Founders Ministries leading me in the same passage that my pastor preached this last Sunday. Overall, the message was the same:

Look Up To Christ. Do not look at yourself. Look up to Him, and let His Word dwell richly in you.

Danny is a great camper!

So yes, Paul worked really hard, and yet it was God working in him. There’s nothing sinful about setting goals. I want to honor God, and to glorify Him in my daily life. Even the commentary on Revelation I am reading with the children talked about it today. It is like I obviously needed to hear this. God is so gracious. I do want to live for Him, and use every gift He has given me. I want to confess my sins and flee to Christ for forgiveness. I want to praise God, worship Him, delight in in Him – the triune God. I want to trust Him, and surrender all things into His hands. I want to walk humbly, thankfully, and cheerfully before Him as I become increasingly conformed to the image of his Son. In short, I want to glorify Him by trusting in Him and doing His will with a ready mind and heart (Revelation, Joel Beeke, pg. 394).

Below is a summary of the things I read this week that God used to call me to repentance. It is nice that Libby typed it for me. I will also link the article from Founders, and a song I heard at my church. I have to work diligently at believing that God is pleased with me, and that I don’t have to earn His love. I have noticed I go into “works” mode when I am not consistently reading my Bible.

Also, Daniel is three months old. Time goes by so quickly. The year 2020 was definitely crazy, and while I am not saying Jesus is coming back tomorrow, I do want to be ready, faithfully doing what He has called me to do.

We just need to look around and see that this world needs Christ. I am thankful He calls me His own, and that He is mine.

Emerson lost the beard and the hair – along with 30 lb.

You Who – some things…

If you are a Christian woman who has been in Christian circles at all, you have no doubt been told that you are a princess.We have misused this truth to the point that is seems common to attribute to God all of the characteristics of the world’s most indulgent father of a spoiled child at a mini-mall. We think a princess means having your nails done, tiaras, plastic high heels, and getting everything you ever wanted because your father doesn’t know how to say no to you. He is a king, after all! 

In reality, your Father is not a petty, child-indulging king— not at all what the princess encouragement makes him out to be. But more than that, it is a position of responsibility. You are a daughter of the King. That means you should be about His business. In a way that becomes the office you hold. While it is a great honor, being a daughter of the King is more like wearing a shirt that says STAFF boldly across the back.

What is the nation of this kingdom, and how is it built? Look at the example of your Father. He sent His Son to lay down His life for His people. You belong, body and soul, to the kind of King who is building His kingdom on the mercy of self-sacrifice. ‘For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect though sufferings’ (Heb. 2:10).

Here we have our first among many brethren, and what is the prefect example that He gives us? Laying down His life. Being perfected in suffering. Bringing us to glory. We are called to live in imitation of our high priest and the selfless work that He accomplished for us. So, yes, I believe that you are royalty. You are a daughter of the Most High King, and you are a princess. But what does that mean practically?

When this phrase is trotted out, it almost always comes off as addressed to someone looking hopelessly out of a window, wondering who they are while curled up in an afghan watching the rain drops on the window. It is a message for our feelings, intended to bolster us up in our needy moments. But, as we have established, we haven’t been called to “feel awesome about ourselves”; we have been called to faithfulness.

The reality of following Christ is not that kind of cheap affirmation. It is not an emotional Snuggie for our cold hearts. It is a different thing altogether. It is a cross being carried. It is a child of God looking at a trial and saying, ‘This is mine to handle. Let me mop the same floor I mopped yesterday and every day before that, or freely give away my time in a million ways with no expectation of getting it back. Let me change your diapers and hold your hand.‘ This is work for a daughter of the King.

A life of Christian royalty is not an easy one. It is full of trials and obstacles and suffering and troubles. Not only do we endure trials and suffering. We are called to turn those very things into blessings for others. A person telling you how their cancer pointed them to Christ, how their darkest moments showed the kindness of the Father. This is the duty of sons and daughters of the King. To lay down their lives for those around them. To point to Christ continually by imitating Him. To seek to live for His purposes and to trust Him that all things work together for good. Our identity in Christ is more about our responsibilities than our privileges, though there will be many of those. We do not fear because we know a time of perfect rest, a time of glory, a time of perfect happiness will come-but that time is not yet and our work is not done. Work hard in the hope of that glory, and “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ”

(2 Timothy 2:3)

Some more…

We would rather continue our quest for our identity, looking for clues all around us, for those little indicators of who we might be and what we might be here for; rather than placing all our hope in the ultimate identity that we have. Christ crucified is more than everything we ask for. He is beyond enough. He is the actual power of God and wisdom of God. He is all in all. And yet we so often say, ‘That isn’t quite what I am looking for. Give me something a little… less.

You may be thinking that you have never said that. Because, laid out there bare like that, very few Christians dare to say that Jesus is “not enough” for them. So let’s look at some of the very mundane, more familiar ways that we do this. What are some of the most common wants we have as we struggle though our lives? We might say we are just really, really needing a break. We need a chance to recuperate and relax. A little rest? We are stressed and want some time off. What is Jesus in this situation? He, the incarnate Son of God, is our everlasting rest. An everlasting rest and peace has already been given to us in Christ, and we are still looking for short-term, unsatisfying rest. Why? Because we are asking for less. We are turning aside from this monumental gift to say that it isn’t quite the thing we meant. Worse, we might be thinking of Jesus as another item on our to-do list.

What if we are looking for a little appreciation and recognition? We might be trying to find ways in which our work matters. We might be resenting the backstage role we have at the office, the less-than-famous artist the we have become. We might be at home with our children, wishing any grownups cared about what we are sacrificing. Or we might be unmarried and wishing we had anyone at all who wanted to know what we were doing all day. We look for something little to cheer us up. Maybe, if someone brought us a coffee and said they knew how hard we were working and that it mattered, we would feel better. We think we would be satisfied if there was just a sign that anyone cared, or if anyone was thoughtful enough to notice that we are tired because we have been working so hard. We want someone to tell us how this is such important and hard work we are doing. Maybe we would feel better if anyone knew and appreciated what a long day we had. We are looking to be known and to be loved.

But is this a need that Jesus does not fill? We want a little indicator that our lives matter to someone.

Is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the Son of God not enough for us?

Does that not show us that we are valued and loved in an authoritative way?

Has He not told us that He knows every hair on our heads? He knows us and understands us to such an extent that absolutely nothing in our lives is outside His knowledge. Once again, this is more than what we were looking for. We are urged to cast all our cares on Him, for He cares for us. And yet we look around and wonder why there is no one willing to help us bear our burdens. We wanted a thoughtfully timed coffee, not cleansing blood and the everlasting arms. We wanted someone to say, ‘I care about you’ on a post-it note, not someone to give their life for us.

Do you see how we are in possession of more than what we are looking for? We are wasting our time looking around for support and encouragement when we have Christ. We want to drink hesitantly from a sippy cup of comfort while god offers us the opportunity to stand under a Niagara Falls of glory. 

We have eternal forgiveness, and we seek cheap validation.

We have an omnipotent, omnipresent, and eternal God, and we just wish someone knew what we were going through. We want to matter, but we are part of the very body of Christ.

When we begin to worship our ideas of support and love and encouragement and start orienting ourselves around those, we become shallow and short-term people. But when we look to Christ, our shallow problems are completely overshadowed by the size of our answers. Christ is all in all. 

Founders Ministries – Fear and the Christian

Song – Came ye all unfaithful.

Welcome Home, Danny!

Dany,

I hope one day you will be able to read this, and praise the Lord with me.

True love’s kiss

Daniel “Aury” Nunez is home. He was born on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020. He weighed 8 lb., and measured 21 inches. Since he was born at 11:33 pm., and because the tests he needed to be discharged had to be run at the 24-hour mark, we made it home until Thursday.

I am officially in love. I don’t think, I mean… it’s still pretty surreal that I have three children. And that I have another son 🙂

I don’t think this post will be too long, I hope not, although I do have so many things I would like to write down for my own memory’s sake. That’s why I started blogging years ago – I am very forgetful. I also want to praise God and give Him all the glory for Danny’s life, and not only for his life, but also for being my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

I know labor has been painful since Adam and Eve disobeyed, but I have never experienced so much pain in labor like I did with Danny. We were praying faithfully during all my pregnancy that I would start labor on my own, so that I wouldn’t have to have Pitocin administered. When Libby and Enzo were born, I got to the hospital having contractions of my own, so I was not technically induced. Libby’s labor lasted for 17 hours, and I was on Pitocin for only nine; with Enzo, I labored for 8 hours also with Pitocin, and then he was born.

Danny’s story is different.

This time around, my file read something like, “Multigravida of advanced maternal age, with a history of macrosomia and shoulder dystocia.” Basically, I have had several big babies, I’m over 35, and my babies are so HUGE at birth than one actually got stuck. LOL!

9:30 am – tolerable contractions. I was still smiling 🙂

Danny’s ultrasound at 37 weeks showed he was around 7 lb. 10 oz. So I think it was pretty accurate for a test with a ±15% error. My doctor ended up suggesting to have an induction at 38 weeks due to his weight, and so when we got to the hospital that morning at 5 am., everything was running smoothly. I was a little bit nervous to have to go with the Pitocin from the very beginning of the process, but overall I was excited to meet my son that day.

I was 2 cm. dilated and 80% effaced, so the doctors (both my OBGYN and another one I saw the weekend before) were very confident that I would have a quick labor since my body had already done this before. My body would just remember, and it would be quick – or so they said. They started me on Pitocin at 6:30 am., and broke my water at 8 am. What was supposed to be a quick 6-8 hour process, ended up being 17 hours long.

I don’t think I was consciously thinking about all these things prior to the induction, but maybe they were somewhere in the back of my mind. I know that the main reason I grabbed Emerson by the arm when Enzo was born, and told him, “I am done having babies,” was because I did not want to experience that kind of pain again. As THE day approached I was very anxious for my body to do its own thing – without the Pitocin. I was scared of the pushing, and the children and all my friends were praying for peace and for a safe delivery.

There was also the anxiety of losing too much blood. I lost quite a bit with Enzo because of that drug, and the night Enzo was born I had horrible labor chills that had me shaking uncontrollably. At least now I know they are normal due to the rush of adrenaline going through your body after labor. I just didn’t want to go through all that again.

Texting with Libby @ 1:09 pm – It took 7 hours to dilate 1 cm.

I am sure all these things were playing a role on how I prayed – the things I was taking to God in prayer – and basically everything I was feeling and thinking as the induction day was approaching.

My pastor always says, “We will pray that if it is the Lord’s will, such and such will happen.”

Pastor Bray has taught me the importance of submitting to God’s will, and the fact that I cannot bend the arm of God in prayer. Ultimately, in prayer we bow down to God’s will for our lives. Prayer is not to be a way in which we try to manipulate God into giving us what we want. While we do ask things from our Father – things we need – we confidently rest upon the fact that He hears us and that He does answer with whatever is best for us.

I know this in my head, I can hear myself on repeat, “For His glory and my good, for His glory and my good.” It just never occurred to me to pray that God would give me the kind of labor that would bring Him the most glory. Honestly, I was just focused on having an easy labor, I mean, a not-so-painful-labor. I knew it was going to hurt, but again, I was sure that if my body started things on its own (like with my other two children), things would go well with me.

I’ve been thinking about the two wills of God since I came home from the hospital. This is why my brain has no rest LOL! I have a point to make here. Stay with me.

If I pray to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, of course God will grant that because that is part of His revealed will for my life. God grants my prayers to be answered when I pray according to His will. At the same time, I don’t have to go and pray whether or not God would want me to cheat on my husband, because the Lord has already revealed that I am not to do that. This is something called God’s revealed will – His commandments and precepts. On the other hand, though, there are things that come to pass that are part of God’s hidden will, or God’s will of decree. These are the things that will happen because the Lord has ordained that they will happen, like say, He predetermined that His One and Only Son would die on the cross. When Pilate, along with the Jews and the Gentiles killed Jesus, the apostles knew that God’s hand had predestined that to take place, and so they prayed accordingly (Acts 4:27-28). I hope this article from Ligonier helps explain what I am talking about.

Libby texting me @ 1:32 pm

Understanding these things has made me grasp the fact that OBVIOUSLY, it was not God’s will of decree for me to start labor on my own, otherwise I would have started labor on my own – without medicine. I prayed for it -fervently – and it didn’t happen. To say it was His will to happen, but that somehow it didn’t, would be to deny His sovereignty. He just had a different plan for my life than the one I wanted. That’s all. Again, I knew these things in my head going into the hospital, but it was really hard to deal with the realization that God did not answer my prayers the way I expected Him to answer them – specially when I was in so much pain after 12 hours of labor with Pitocin.

While I don’t know exactly why God answered my prayers in a way I did not see coming, I can look back and see that He is altogether good and wise. There was so much mercy on His part. I truly believe He prepared me before hand to go through all that. That was His grace to me.

This is what I mean.

The night before the induction, I read the Bible with the children. I usually don’t do that since I read the Bible in the mornings with them, but Emerson is following a Bible plan with them at nights. I can’t remember what Emerson was doing, but he asked me to read it with them. We read from the book of Isaiah. When we got to Isaiah 26:3-4, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just read.

You keep him in perfect peace

    whose mind is stayed on you,

    because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever,

    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Nothing really happened after that. But after everybody went to bed, I kept thinking about it. As usual I ended up going to the bathroom around 2 am, and I sat on the couch to read that verse again. Then it just dawn on me that I had not been at peace the whole week – or the weeks leading to the induction. I was praying, but I was anxious. I wanted labor to come.

That night the Lord showed me that I had been relying on labor starting on its own as the main reason why my mind would be at peace. It was sinful for me to rely on that, instead of relying on the Lord.

Emerson took this photo around 6 pm.

I thought peace would come if labor started on its own, but it was time to call the nurse letting her know we were on our way to the hospital and labor hadn’t come, and it was very likely it wouldn’t. I wanted to be at peace so I prayed. I know I should have known better, right? I wish I could say I was always focused on the Lord, but I wasn’t. I was focused on having a baby as quickly as possible, and with the least amount of pain possible.

On our way to the hospital, I was trying to memorize those verses from Isaiah, trying to think about what they meant – how to apply their principle in my present situation. Labor didn’t come naturally for me, and I had to confess that I wanted things to be peachy… Ultimately, I asked the Lord to help my mind and my heart to be focused on Him that day. I knew (better late than never) that the reason I could be at peace was nothing other than trusting in Him.

I would say I was in good spirits until about 4 pm. They had checked me several times, but I was only about 5 cm. dilated. I was beginning to feel tired. I think my contractions were still manageable, but every time the nurse would come she would increase my Pitocin dose because I was talking through them. By the time it was 6 pm., I finally broke down. LOL!

I was sad, I was tired, and I was crying. I thought my baby was supposed to come at 2 pm. The nurses thought he was going to come at 4 pm. Nobody knew why I was progressing so slowly. My doctor had left to have dinner with her family, and she said she would probably try to come back, but that she didn’t know, so she introduced me to the doctor on call, who by the way, increased my Pitocin once more.

It’s a bunch of lies that Pitocin helps making things move faster. LOL!

Besides all the pain, I had an over-obsessed daughter texting me and inquiring of my status constantly. Never mind her Mommy, she wanted a Baby. I wanted to be mad at her, but I just couldn’t. She did’t mean anything by it. If it had been my mom, then sure. Libby, however, was so anxious to know if I had had the baby that she was truly disappointed every time she texted me and I had no baby to show her yet!

So I began crying telling Emerson that I wanted labor to come on its own, but that obviously God had other plans, and that I was in pain. I was asking him to pray for me, that God would give me endurance and perseverance. By the time it was 8 pm., I was still just at 5-6 cm. I just kept looking at the clock, and every time a contraction would come, I seriously thought I couldn’t take another one. I think those were the most painful. Emerson says I looked pale, and I did not talk anymore. He relates at some points he was afraid I was gonna pass out.

Emerson was amazing that day. He helped me so much. He would take me to the bathroom all the time, bring me water, pray for me. He would hold me and hug me. He would rub my back if I asked him to. He even pulled up my undies when I had to go to the bathroom – he was so sweet. I felt he was really there willing to serve me and support me.

So my crying lasted for about two minutes, but then, really, an overwhelming peace was there in the room – all the time. I was at peace. I felt that peace of God that transcends all understanding. My mind was at peace. I was praying that with every contraction God would help me go through one more, and one more, and one more. I really felt everybody’s prayers that night. And now that I look back, I know that God had a plan for me reading Isaiah 26:3-4 the night before. It was those verses that really got me through the whole day, and really through the last three hours.

finally home – october 8th, 2020.

In the midst of the whole ordeal, I knew His grace was sufficient for me. I knew God was there. I knew He had not abandoned me. I did feel like quitting at some points, but I knew God was taking care of me even though I didn’t exactly know the reasons why things went they way they went. So after three more hours, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I screamed, “I NEED TO PUSH!!!!”

The nurse checked me once again, and I was totally ready to push. There were like eight people in the room; a whole team ready in case this baby got stuck, and another whole team ready for the extra bleeding. Thank goodness that at 11 pm. they took away the Pitocin, and my pain stopped. That actually gave me a much needed break. I was so relieved.

I had to push three times per contraction. I don’t know why they ask you to hold your breath while you push. Anyway… I pushed nine times over the span of maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. And once Daniel’s head was out, I couldn’t hold it, and kept on yelling that I needed to keep pushing.

And so he got out – FAST – in eleven pushes!!

The doctor on call, by the way, was amazing. I am so thankful she was the one delivering my baby. She was kind with me while she was checking on me, and she was funny. She was relatable, and I had never experienced that connection with any OBGYN since my doctor, who delivered Libby and Enzo, passed away.

HI, Danny!!

Once Danny was out, I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. He looked exactly like in the ultrasound. He was perfect. He also cried a lot.

I was praying every time I had to push, and I began thanking God in the middle of it. I was just so amazed at the goodness of God for caring for me, and keeping Daniel and I safe throughout the whole day on medicine. His heart rate was always great, my blood pressure was always good. Yes, I lost blood, and had to be given medicine for that. But he didn’t get stuck!

I was exhausted, and I was starving, but I had a baby in my arms. I was able to see God’s grace plainly.

Seeing grace is not necessarily about looking to the sunny circumstances of our lives. People think they will only find grace where there’s no personal struggles or battles with sin. Grace is everywhere, as much in the difficulties and struggles of our lives as in the good times and the victories, if not more so.

Ultimately, however, if we are going to see grace, we need to look at the cross of Christ. We will need to return to the cross again and again to recalibrate our vision and refocus on the grace of God so perfectly displayed there.

Todd Wilson – Commentary on Galatians.

Being home has been great. I have felt many fears again – the same fears that were there before the pregnancy, and through the pregnancy. The temptations to fear death are still there. Hormones have been crazy, I am operating on little sleep, plus I had been worried about Danny not eating enough since he was not peeing or pooping. My milk hadn’t come in yet, he had lost weight, he was jaundiced, and yada, yada, yada…

Having Emerson and the children support me through all this has been really humbling. I broke down crying telling the children I felt like I was abandoning them because all I was doing was taking care of the baby. Libby basically said it was all in my mind. She was so sweet. She said, “Mommy, we don’t feel the way you think we feel. You think that we feel that you don’t love us, but it is all in your head. We don’t feel the way you feel we feel. We love you, and we know you love us.”

They have been so kind to me. They clean the house, they do the laundry, they pick up the dishes. Even Enzo is making quesadillas! He refuses to change a diaper, but he loves his Baby Brother. Our friends have been bringing us meals. I am so blessed.

my boys ;)

I have felt overwhelmed at times, but it’s getting better. Every time I look at the clock, it is time to feed Daniel again, and it seems like I don’t do anything anymore. Even Twitter doesn’t seem interesting anymore. LOL!

The whole first week after coming back I was reading a book on Motherhood for my Book Club, and I was crying all the time with the things I was reading. It was almost as if God were intending to bring more trials into my life.

Why would He do such a thing? Are we not done yet? I thought waiting 21 months to have this baby in my arms was enough…

I listen to myself right now, and I’m like, “Oh, Karla, will you ever learn that trusting the Lord is something that you are never done with? You need to trust in Him. Every. Single. Moment. Of. Every. Single. Day.”

It was as if God was gently, but firmly saying, “Daniel is mine. Trust me.”

So even when Danny was not peeing or pooping or whatever… there was God’s grace being renewed every morning with one more diaper, or with a humongous poop. And the book I was reading, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, by Gloria Furman, was talking about Lamentations 3:22 – The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.

And I began crying even more!

I knew this! I know this! Didn’t I just write a post about the book of Lamentations some weeks ago? Okay, so, now the Baby is out of my womb… Would I trust the Lord? Is He my portion?

The book said, Nothingnothing happens without the sovereign Lord’s ordaining it. He is trustworthy and praiseworthy in every circumstance. God is the one who has created this child, and God has far more intentions to glorify Himself through this kid than I could ever dream up. God made this child for Himself – for His name’s sake. Every mitochondrion in his little body exists for God’s glory. The Lord knew my child’s destiny before the sperm ever met the egg. He commands his destiny from before the foundations of the world. He knows the number of his days, and no part of his story surprises Him. He is the God to whom we actively, daily entrust our children. The sovereign Lord of the universe deserves my faith-filled acknowledgement of His ownership of my kids. We all belong to our Creator.”

I think I could go on and on talking about how happy we are that we have Danny home. Everybody is thrilled that we have a baby in the house. He is such a blessing and we cannot praise the Lord enough for his life. I will finish this post, though, with Emerson’s side of Danny’s story. I want to preserve that for the future 🙂

Danny,

On February, 2019, I took a little trip to Singapore and India. While I was there, I took a stroll to the neighborhood where we used to live. We used to spend all our time together when we lived there, and many memories came back. We had a lot of fun, and it was a great place to live. We would see the sunrise and the sunset on most days because we had a terrace in our building. When I was there, I felt so guilty.

I saw Enzo’s videos from when he was two years old, and I remember we were so frustrated because he was disobedient and angry all the time, and tossing things. But now that I looked back, I felt so guilty… he was only two, he was a little boy. I called Mommy, and I told her about it. She said she knew I was feeling guilty, and she read to me Psalm 103.

I guess the Lord had been working in my heart already, but that Psalm and also looking back at Enzo and Libby when they were little, made me think it had been a mistake. It was not the right decision to make on 2012 when I had a vasectomy. We thought, “We are done, our family is complete, and we don’t want any more kids. When we are 47, our children will leave the house, and we will be free. We are still young and we will enjoy our lives.”

But the more and more I read the Scriptures, the more I saw that children are a blessing from the Lord. We were thinking more like the world than biblically.

On the way back from India, I took a 17-hour flight from Doha to Houston, and I sat down next to a mommy with a little girl. That baby was holding my finger, and she reminded me so much of your sister, her big brown eyes, very cute and tender. I felt even more conviction from the Lord. I thought, “What did I do? This was a mistake…”

So upon my return, and after praying more, I scheduled a vasectomy reversal. On May, I had surgery, and we prayed that if indeed it was the Lord’s will, that Mommy would get pregnant, but it was not happening. On January 2020, I traveled again, and we had missed the window, but we tried anyway. The Lord, in his grace and his mercy got Momma pregnant, and nine months later, here you are in my arms. You were supposed to be born today (October 20th), but you were born two weeks earlier because you are big.

You are gorgeous, you are a little angel, and your Daddy loves you very much. And I’m probably gonna make mistakes like I did with Enzo and with Libby, but it’s gonna be mostly your fault.

I love you. I love you, Son.

What else can I say?

From the beginning of Daniel’s life, God has glorified Himself. I never thought Emerson would come home after a trip telling me he wanted to have more babies. However I think about it, God knew this was His plan for our lives, for our family, even before we began praying for it. We actually prayed for it because God put that desire in my husband’s heart.

And so my book, where it says, “Nothingnothing happens without the sovereign Lord’s ordaining it. He is trustworthy and praiseworthy in every circumstance. God is the one who has created this child, and God has far more intentions to glorify Himself through this kid than I could ever dream up.” – this keeps reminding me of God’s goodness, and His purposes.

It all has been for His glory, and my good. For His glory and my good. The surgery, the waiting, the pain during labor – everything – was worth it.

I pray we will get to see Daniel grow into a young man who loves the Lord.

In the meantime, he’s hanging out with his siblings whenever he is awake 🙂

reviewing latin/spanish vocabulary. october 21, 2020.

The Bible, Billy Joel, and AC/DC

A recent conversation with my son helped me realize one more time the truth that children learn/absorb more than we think they do from the environment in which they are spending their time.

We were listening to For The Longest Time, by Billy Joel, on my iPhone. I love that song, I love the tune of it. There is something about it that makes me feel happy, and it’s not the lyrics. It’s literally the music. My husband says it’s harmony. I’m not a musician, but I trust him, so let’s just say it is the harmony in that song what makes me smile.

Believe it or not, after 13 years of living in America, listening to music in English has never been one of my favorite things to do. I still can’t understand what most people are saying if they’re singing, and I still use the subtitles when I watch a movie. That’s why I don’t like talking to people on the phone. Unless I can have a conversation face to face, or I can communicate with them via text, I get very anxious.

So Enzo and I were playing Catan while listening to the song, and I was reading the lyrics on my phone. Then I read this:

Maybe this won’t last very long,

But you feel so right, and I could be wrong…

Who knows how much further we’ll go on,

Maybe I’ll be sorry when you’re gone.

I’ll take my chances,

I forgot how nice romance is,

I haven’t been there for the longest time…

I literally stopped the song, and said, “Did you hear that? What is he talking about? What does that even mean? He is saying he doesn’t even know if this is the woman he wants to spend his life with. He knows this relationship might not last for long, but she feels right for him, at least right now. Even if they end up breaking up, maybe – just maybe – he’ll miss her. But for now, he just wants to be with her because romance is nice. You are not to be that kind of man, you hear me? I am not raising that kind of man.”

He said what he always says when I give him that tone of voice, and he knows that a talk is coming. He said, “Yes, Patootie.”

We talked about the reality that his dad grew up listening to that kind of music. Emerson has also always listened to Classic Rock ever since we were dating sixteen years ago. He has also listened to Pop Music (from the 80’s, I guess). I think there’s some kind of nostalgia there, and it is totally understandable. I think Emerson’s inheritance from his dad will include at least seven hundred – SEVEN HUNDRED – records. So Emerson was raised listening to lots of different music.

I told Enzo that I had never asked Daddy to stop listening to that kind of music because I know that he likes it, and honestly, I really like the tune of many of the songs, too. I like some songs by Queen, or Paul Simon. There’s something about Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – specially if you hear it in my husband’s music room.

Anyway, this was actually the first time that I had realized what Billy Joel was singing. So we talked about how music can really get you into certain kind of mood, and how you always have to be aware of what you’re singing because the reality is, most of the time, the more you sing something, the more your end up believing what you are singing.

And then Enzo said, “I know what you mean Mommy. Like, when it says, ‘So lock up your daughter, lock up your wife, lock up your back door, run for your life.'”

I asked him what in the world he was talking about.

He said it was from AC/DC’s T. N. T. I had never caught that’s where the lyrics said, since all I understand from that song is the “Oi, Oi, Oi” and “T.N.T, I’m dynamite.”

No, we don’t rejoice when we hear those songs, and as far as I know, Emerson has respected my wishes of not listening to specific songs that bothered me, like Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, or AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.

What I am saying is that children are aware of those things even when I am not, or even when I think they are not. I firmly believe I should not isolate my children into a Christian bubble, otherwise they will be shocked when they go into the world. It is my job to train them, and to expose them to the evils in this world. I want to be the one introducing them to those things.

You may not agree with me, so I am posting this podcast for your consideration. Tom Ascol, who is one of the pastors that I respect the most (after my own pastor), relates the story of his high school daughter. She was homeschooled, and at one time there was an incident (involving cursing words) at the community college she was attending that made her vulnerable. He realized that there had been a gap in her education by her not knowing those foul words.

I really encourage you to listen to it. The podcast The Sword & The Trowel, by Founders Ministries, is also available wherever you get your podcasts. The YouTube link is below.

Parenting And Government Schools: How Not To Raise Little Pagans

So with our children we watch all kinds of movies. We have watched Jaws, The Meg, all Jurassic Worlds, all the Marvel movies, all the Harry Potter movies, The Mandalorian (Season 2 is coming – YEAH!!), among others that might make many Christian parents cringe. I understand and respect that.

We talk about those movies. We talk about Moana’s false narrative that Unreached People Groups do not need the gospel. We talk about demi-gods like Maui, and the reincarnation of the grandma. Also, Moana seems to just be following her heart. We have talked about Frozen – particularly Frozen 2. Let’s just say it’s pretty dark if you think long and hard about the voices Elsa is listening to. We have watched Onward, and we have talked about the scenes in which there’s the push to normalize homosexuality.

They don’t watch nudity if there is any – including scenes where people are kissing in suggestive ways (like Anakin and Padme in Star Wars). We talk about cursing words. They are also watching The Simpsons with Emerson. I don’t like that show, but the children love it. They, along with Dad, think it is hilarious. Emerson also grew up watching them.

I actually interviewed Libby for this blog. I asked her to tell me about The Simpsons while I typed.

Homer is kind of an idiot, and because he is an idiot, he is kinda funny. He is a bad dad, and a bad son. He doesn’t even care for his father, and because of that, the children don’t care for their grandfather.

Marge is kind of nice to people, but her sisters are horrible. They hate Homer, and they smoke. Bart is a terrible kid, and when he does bad things, his parents don’t really discipline him. I don’t really think much about Lisa, other than she’s very smart. The Itchy and Scratchy Show… I don’t know why it is funny to them, it is not funny to me. Violence should not be funny.

Principal Skinner still lives with his mother, but he doesn’t really care for her. He acts like she is a burden. Maggie, you don’t see her very often.

Mr. Burns is very rich, and everybody works for him, and he is so selfish. Overall, I like The Simspons becasue they are funny.

Libby

And that’s that.

Emerson says that the fact that we know all that about the characters is precisely what makes them funny. I guess it’s like watching The Office. That show is so politically incorrect… and that’s exactly what makes it hilarious.

This is what takes me to my main point. The Simpsons was not the first thing I introduced my children to, nor has been it what I have filled their minds with. If Libby, an articulate almost 10 year-old, can have such an opinion of the show is because she has a biblical world-view.

My children have a standard for righteousness. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they know (for the most part, I mean, they are still children) how to evaluate the reality to which they are exposed to. Since they were super little we have worked very hardly to expose them to the Scriptures. They understand the gospel, and to the best of our ability, and by God’s grace, we are training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Tom Ascol mentions in the podcast (around minute 21) that the word INSTRUCTION (paideia in Greek) involves that you just don’t give your children facts, but you train them, you inculturate them. You actually instill a way of understanding the thing that you are teaching, and that goes along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No subjects are off limits, and of course, you don’t expose them to all the evils in the world, and they don’t have to experience it, but children do need to learn about evil from their parents.

By God’s grace, we have talked with our children about LBGTQ issues, sex, masturbation, pregnancy, rape, pornography, sexting, bestiality, sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc. It is all in the Bible if you are consistenly reading it with them. This has not been done in ONE sitting, and it’s really a long conversation that has happened over the span of many years. Maybe you might think they are too little for that. Libby is 9.5 y.o., and Enzo is almost 8 y.o. I respect your opinion, but I want to challenge you to think through it.

A long time ago, in an article from Focus on the Family, I read that what robs the innocence of a child is NOT the information you give them, but actually the self-discovery of such information, specially if they discover it or experience it in sinful ways.

I am not going to sit down with my child and show him what porn looks like, but I can describe it to him. I can give him wisdom on what to do if such images were ever to pop on a screen. I am not encouraging them to have sex before marriage, but I am going to explain to them the consequences of it. I have many consequences from it that I still carry to this day. And we always go back to the Bible, and what God has said about those issues, and the reasons God has for having set those boundaries for His people. It goes beyond just telling them that sex before marriage is sinful. We have to engage their hearts and explain why.

Government education is secular, it’s humanist. It is committed to train up your child in the way they should go without ever referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jared Longshore

You see, sex in itself is not wrong or evil. Sex is a beautiful thing that God gave married coupes to enjoy each other, and when practiced between a man and a woman who are committed in covenant for life, it speaks to the relationship Jesus has with His Bride – the Church. That’s the kind of intimacy God wants with His children. Marriage is supposed to testify of the loving, long-suffering, compassionate, forgiving God. Jesus would never give up on His Bride, and say, “I am done with you, I don’t love you anymore.”

No! He died for her, He drank the cup of the wrath of God for her. “What then shall we say to these things?” says Paul. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

And that’s why God hates divorce.

So I’m very welcoming of your criticism if you think I’m wrong in talking about these issues with my children. BUT – and this is a big one – IF you have your child enrolled in public school, and you think somehow they are not being exposed to all of the craziness going around in this culture already, then somebody is being naive. And I know it’s not me. Very respectfully I challenge you to think through it. I am not saying you have to homeschool. Maybe you do have to work, and private Christian school is not affordable (even a Christian school can only be Christian in name). I understand that. There are many situations that I don’t know about. I am talking about the parent whose child is in public school, and thinks his children are too young to know about these things. To assume your children are not being exposed to this already, in my opinion, is to be naive at best, and irresponsible at worst.

I think I’ve talked too much already, and haven’t said what I originally intended to say. Oh, well…

My point is this:

If we are to raise godly children whose minds are saturated in the Word of God, then we have to be mothers who first are saturated in the Word of God. We are to be filled in order that we can overflow and fill our children as a result. It is our responsibility. It is our calling.

You know I have been reading Philippians. This morning I was in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

I read my commentary, then I went for a walk and I listened to a sermon on it. I am linking the sermon here. It is a great sermon, and actually part of a whole series Pastor John McArthur taught on the book of Philippians. He says, “In order to be spiritual stable you must focus on godly virtues. Spiritual stability is a result of how you think.”

How true is that. As long as we don’t dwell and meditate on God’s Word, then we cannot train our children to do the same, and teach them how to think critically and biblically about the world around them.

I hope the photos of the commentary will help you see what we as mothers should be meditating on, dwelling on, and filling our minds with. You might as well buy it. It is awesome!

SPOILER ALERT: WE MUST DWELL ON GOD’S WORD.

Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 200

Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 201
Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 202

I woke up in the middle of the night to finish typing this. It was around 2:30 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. “One hour,” I said. “It will only take me one hour to finish.”

It is almost 5 a.m. LOL! Guess I am getting ready for those sleepless nights for when Danny is here 🙂

Daniel Aurelius is coming to town!

The last time I wrote something was about four months ago, but for some reason it seems an eternity has passed. Of course, in the middle of it,  we have had the Rona, the BLM situations all around our country, and churches arguing over whether or not to gather on Sundays – with or without masks. Much has happened in our family even though it doesn’t feel like much since we have been in the house most of the time.

To start with, we successfully completed our first year of homeschooling. For many weeks straight I felt that Enzo would never love writing, and still he doesn’t. But it has been wonderful to see that consistency in disciplining him have been key in dealing with his rebellious heart. Last year I was so worried about curriculums, but if my first homeschooling year taught me anything, it is that the curriculum is not the most important thing to focus on. I am NOT saying it is not important. What I AM saying is that shepherding the hearts of my children should be my first priority. 

I had to constantly look  at our “Mission Statement” when I felt overwhelmed by the question, “Why are we doing this?” 

My children are very smart, I have no worries about their academic future life. I sometimes worry about Enzo and his choices in life – what he will do for a living. But it is not because he is not smart, but because he struggles with laziness. Although, he wakes up at 4 am. sometimes to go running with his dad, so he is an early riser… My point is that even if their brains would allow them to become the next Nobel Prize or whatever, that in itself is a gift from God Almighty, and I am convinced that nothing they might accomplish in  this life is worthy of praise – at least not praise from God – if they do it apart from knowing Jesus Christ savingly.

That is a hill I’m willing to die on – daily.   

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Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

Among other happenings, we also had a fun summer despite the virus. We went to the beach when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. Oh, yes, I am pregnant. That’s a long story, so long story long, God changed Emerson’s heart regarding having more babies. So he had a VR, and after nine long months of trying, God answered our prayers, and I am pregnant with a boy. I think during this season of waiting, God taught me many things regarding His goodness. He is good no matter what. No matter how I feel, or what I think. Even if the answers to my prayers are a NO from Him, He is still good.

 

baby

IT’S A BOY!!

 

During the first nine months of not being pregnant, the anxieties in my heart were a bunch of WHAT IFs – What if I don’t get pregnant? What if the VR didn’t work? What if I’m too old, and the baby is not healthy? 

God really showed me things about my heart that were not right. Even after getting pregnant, the questions were different, but altogether the same, What if the baby dies? What if I have a miscarriage? What if I die during labor? What if Emerson dies?

Fear of death has always been a recurring sin for me. I know that for the Christian death has no victory – no sting. I know that. This is the worst fear I have: If Emerson dies, I don’t know how to handle the finances of the house – that’s it. I simply don’t know how. And that may be super silly for other women, but it paralyzes me.

The issue here is that in every fear that I’ve had, there’s always been unbelief on my part. So during this season God has shown me that I don’t take Him at His Word. Do I believe He will take care of me? Do I believe He will help me go through the death of a husband, and the raising of three children alone? Do I believe He will equip me with whatever He might deem necessary in order to administer the finances? And even if I go broke, do I truly believe in my heart that God will provide for me?

 

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South Padre Island, June 2020

 

God is so good regardless of my circumstances. DUH… yeah.  But when you are going through a season of anxiety, and fears, how do you deal with those?

When we were in the middle of the last school year, we were studying the history of Israel, and so we were pretty much reading the Bible chronologically. The lessons were kind of a helicopter view, but I wanted to study them deeper, so that I could explain it to the children better. So for the first time in my life, I read the book of Lamentations in context. I have read the Bible chronologically before, and it has been a tremendous blessing, but sometimes when you follow a Bible reading plan, you just want to finish. This time, however, I had to stay in Lamentations for a while, not only because I wanted to explain it to the children, but because it really opened my eyes to real suffering and real joy – both at the same time.

I was not pregnant yet, so I was really struggling. Why would God change Emerson’s mind regarding babies, only to NOT give us a baby? On top of that, Emerson told me he was not okay with me taking any medicine to increase my fertility as the doctor suggested. He said this was something about his obedience to the Lord, and that God would be the one to decide whether or not we were gonna have more family. And I was like, “So you spent thousand of dollars in a procedure just for the sake of obeying the Lord. That’s great. I understand that, but if I got cancer, wouldn’t you want me to have chemo? Why is this medicine different? We can have babies faster!

You don’t get it, Karla. Stop trying to control things. If God wills, we will have a baby; if He doesn’t, then we won’t. I had the VR not to give you a baby, but to obey the Lord and go back to my natural state. And if you get pregnant, He will get the glory – not a pill your doctor gave you.

Emerson

Of course, I argued back. If God was gonna get the glory anyway, then He might as well give us a baby without Emerson even getting the surgery – if it was all about not using medical procedures. Of course, I was selfish, and God was merciful to me in my irreverence. Also, Emerson ignored me LOL!

We tried super hard to get pregnant during eight months. But that last month I had been studying Lamentations for a while already. I was asking God to change my heart because the things I was reading were convicting me of my sin. Somehow I had made the desire to have another baby into an idol. I was crying every time I went for my morning walk, afraid that the answer to my prayer was going to be, “No, you’re not going to have another child.” I was doubting God’s love for me over this. I was questioning His goodness over this.

So the only day when we literally could have tried making a baby, I was so exhausted that I told Emerson maybe we could take a break and try next month. I didn’t even know if I was ovulating so there really was no rush. He refused, and then BAM – I got pregnant because of that one time LOL!

 

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Ballon Fight to start the 2020-2021 school year – I hit Enzo right on the face!

 

Of course I didn’t know that night was the night that eventually would lead me to buy a pregnancy test, but I do remember one night when I was crying – again – and I told God I was going to praise Him in the middle of my fear. I did want a child, but I refused to worship the desire of having a baby. I wanted to worship Him. I wanted Him to be my portion, like Jeremiah said in Lamentations. That I was okay if God chose not to give us more children. Of course, I was gonna be sad for a while, but I didn’t really need a baby. I wanted God to teach me how to wait for Him like Jeremiah also said.

I wanted to know whether the answer was going to be YES or NO, but I asked God to help me learn how to wait for His answer – even if the answer was delayed, and even if the answer was NO.

I dwelled on the verses below for months before getting pregnant. I was really expecting not to get pregnant, but the day after I prayed for God to help me wait, I realized my period hadn’t come. I was late. And I was late not for two weeks or four weeks. It was actually day 28, but my hormones had been so crazy, and my cycles had been so random that I never made it to day 28 – ever. So I bought a pregnancy test that day and it was positive. That was so weird. I mean, I had just prayed the night before for God to help me learn how to wait, and then He answered the next day. Then I realized I still had to wait nine more months battling the same fears and anxieties in my heart.

 

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Lamentations 3:21-26

 

Why has the book of Lamentations meant so much for me before the pregnancy and during the pregnancy? Well, this might get long, but I need to write about it.

Right in the middle of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is praising God and rejoicing. He is suffering when he sees what he sees, but he also rejoices IN God. He is not enjoying his circumstances, but Jeremiah KNOWS his God is sufficient.

I wanted that for my life. My fear of not having a husband to provide for me, or my fear of not getting pregnant, or even losing the pregnancy at any point are things that may happen at any point in my life. God never promised me a bed of roses. So if bad providences were to come my way, where does my hope really lie?

Does my hope lie on people, on my circumstances, or on the God who cares for me? Little by little during that time, I realized that I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be bothered with life-pain (that affects believers and unbelievers) or with Christian persecution.

And yet, God tells me suffering for the faith is something every true disciple has to go through. These are some verses, just to name a few.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:6-7

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:21-22

This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

Philippians 1:28-30

 

People suffer for a variety of circumstances. Christians suffer on top of that for the fact that they are Christians. The world hates us. So if suffering is a given, how would I deal with it when it comes? What is the framework that my mind and my heart have to be aligned with, so that I don’t fall for my feelings, my own ideas or any other false teachings?

The frame work is God’s Word. The Word is what I should believe regarding who God is, what He does, and why He does it.

I wrongly thought God was just enjoying my suffering, like He was enjoying being mean to me. And that is just so… stupid. Over and over as I read my Scriptures, it was super clear His discipline springs out of love (Hebrews 12:4-11). He wants to make me like His Son (Romans 8:28-30). And even when He does afflict – because it is also super clear in the Bible that He does afflict –  He doesn’t do it out of spite or just to get even with me. His wrath against me was put away at the cross. Any punishment was dealt with in Christ. There is no more condemnation for me from God (Romans 8:1). In His dealings with me, God deals as a Father, not as my adversary.

 

For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

Lamentations 3:31-33

 

Lamentations is a sad, sad book. Jerusalem is being sacked, the temple destroyed (Lamentations 1:10), and famine, pestilence and the sword are coming – just  as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had warned the people. And Jeremiah is watching all this happening. He recognizes it is the Lord inflicting all this on His people because they sinned grievously (Lamentations 1:8), and Jeremiah weeps (Lamentations 1:16). He recognizes the crown has fallen from Judah and Israel – no more Kings until Jesus is born (Lamentation 5:15-16).

But Jeremiah never makes excuses, he actually acknowledges the Lord is in the right for judging them (Lamentations 1:18), and also that the Lord warned them this would happen (Lamentations 1:21). Jeremiah’s eyes are spent with weeping, he sees babies dying, children who faint from hunger, women eating their own children (Lamentations 2:11,19, 20).

And yet all this is happening according to the plan and purpose of God (Lamentations 2:17). God spoke it and it came to pass, good and bad comes from the Most High. Why would men complain about the punishment of their sins? (Lamentations 3:37-39).

Jeremiah sees the affliction under the rod of God’s wrath. God has made him dwell in darkness, God has filled him with bitterness; Jeremiah has suffered so much that he has forgotten what happiness is. Jeremiah’s endurance has perished and so has his hope from the LORD (Lamentations 3:1-20). And then the most beautiful, contrasting verses come in the middle of all of this.

 

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:21-26

 

I think every woman loves that Bible verse – the one about God’s mercies being new every day. I just never had read the whole book of Lamentations in context, so I could not grasp how deep Jeremiah’s suffering was. This is not a “I am terrified of not knowing how to handle the finances of my household if my husband were to die”- kind of suffering that Jeremiah is going through.

And I am not belittling my suffering or my anxieties by any means, but in perspective, I really have never experienced this much suffering. I do not know what it is to eat your own child out of hunger, or seeing the tongue of your infant sticking to the root of his mouth because of thirst. I do not know what it is to beg for food, with no one giving it to me; or seeing people looking blacker than soot, with their skin dried as wood, and shriveled on their bones due to starvation (Lamentations 4:44). I do not know any of that.

In Lamentations 3:18, Jeremiah’s endurance and hope have perished, but two verses later Jeremiah remembers something, and it fills him with hope once again.

Jeremiah calls to mind that the the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, that His mercies never come to an end, that they are new every morning, and that His faithfulness is great. All this while people are dying around him (v. 22).

Jeremiah then says that YHWH – the LORD – is his portion. It is Jeremiah’s soul confession that makes Jeremiah hope in the LORD. The fact that YHWH Himself is Jeremiah’s portion is what makes Jeremiah regain his hope in Him (v. 24).

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I’ll have great helpers 🙂

It really took me months of pondering every day, I wish I were quick in dealing with my issues. In situations like this, I stop, and I go verse by verse on rabbit trails. I ask Google,  “Google, what does it mean that the Lord is your portion?”

So I end up with answers like the one below that I then double check against my trusted preachers – which involves listening to sermons, or reading articles. It takes FOREVER, but my soul needs it, and that’s how I deal with my sin.

When a biblical writer says, “God is my portion,” he means that God is the source of his happiness and blessing. He is content with all that the Lord is and provides. He has the best inheritance imaginable and does not seek any possession or comfort outside of God. Riches, honor, friends and fame—nothing is as valuable as the promises of God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, NASB). If God is our portion, we need nothing else.

GotQuestions.org

I realized God was not my portion. I could say He was all I wanted, but the fears and anxieties revealed He wasn’t. So it has taken a lot of time, praying and reading my Bible, asking God to help my soul say the same things Jeremiah’s soul said.

I’ve realized it is a command to rejoice in my suffering – not a suggestion. I am to rejoice regardless of my circumstances, knowing that the Lord is good. It is right there in the text. Jeremiah was able to do it when he took his eyes off the destruction and placed them on his portion, on his everything: the LORD. God is good to those who wait for Him, to those who wait for His salvation.

Jerusalem was not spared, and Jeremiah eventually died, but it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Jeremiah’s consolation was that God always sits on His throne enduring all generations (Lamentations 5:19)

This takes me to other rabbit trails, but I’ll stop right there. I cannot possibly write about what has been happening in my heart since Emerson had the surgery sixteen months ago. It’s definitely been a season of God confronting me with my lack of trust, and His abounding love for me, His patience and mercy towards me.

 

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Rooting for the Patriarchy – pregnant, barefoot and cooking in the rain LOL! 

 

Of course, I’m not excited at the prospect of suffering, but my God is good. I know He loves me, and that His love for me extends far beyond my existence – it reaches back into eternity past, where my God choose to enter into a covenant with His Son in order to rescue a people – a Bride for His Son. I am part of that people that Jesus Christ died for.

Nothing makes me feel safer than that – whatever suffering life brings. To know that I have been so profoundly loved by the Creator of the world, even before I was born… even before I came to Him. To think that He had already bought me with His blood even before I was conceived. Even if the loss of a child, or the loss of my husband were to be part of His plan to make me more and more like His Son (Romans 8:28), I rest knowing that I am totally and completely loved. I heard a teaching by Steve Lawson on The Unfailing Love of God. You should check it out.

Christ is sufficient.

 

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4 weeks/ 30 weeks

 

Fixing my eyes on Jesus

A lot of things have happened recently. We are in our fifteenth week of homeschooling, and the magic has disappeared. Maybe I mentioned that already in another post. I am not as excited as I was at the beginning, and homeschooling is not as “awesome” as I thought it would be.

Let me rephrase that. My definition of “awesome” was: effortless, leisurable, and comfortable. Homeschooling has been anything but that. Yes, it has been awesome, but my perspective on what “awesome” actually is has changed.

I heard this at a conference, you know – it’s not like I was clueless. They said this was going to be hard – that I should expect it to be hard.  What was I thinking? That somehow my children somehow managed to escape the Total Depravity of man? LOL! 

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,

THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
13 THEIR THROAT IS AN OPNE GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
14 WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
15 THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
18 THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

– Romans 3:9-18 NASB

The children and I spent a couple of weeks memorizing these verses as we have been studying the true condition of man’s nature after The Fall of Adam and Eve. I am a loyal ESV Bible reader, but lately I’ve been using the NASB. It capitalizes the text of the New Testament every time the Old Testament is quoted. How amazing is that?

In Romans 3:9-18, the apostle Paul is simply quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. He quotes Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Proverbs 1:16, Isaiah 59:7,8.

And it makes sense, right? That as Paul is making the case for the sinfulness of man, the Jews are affirming everything they hear. They probably are thinking those non-Jews are the worst, and then Paul goes on to say, that EVERY ONE is under sin, both Jews and Greeks [non-Jews] alike. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

During Bible time we have also talked about how the doctrine of Total Depravity does not mean you are as evil as you could be, but it does mean that the fall of Adam was so radical that the body, the mind, the will, the spirit—indeed, the whole person—have been infected by the power of sin. So our only hope then to overcome that condition is the mercy of God. We cannot just make some small adjustments or behavioral modifications, but we need a new heart. We need to be regenerated, we need to be born again from above. And as Jesus would explain to Nicodemus, being born into the kingdom is not a matter of man’s will, since flesh gives birth to flesh. But being born of the Holy Spirit is like the wind – it goes wherever it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.

So how can someone be born again?

Do you put your faith in Jesus [pray a prayer or do whatever you need to do] and as a result of that action you are born again into the kingdom of God?

OR

You are born again from above [without your input, God changes your heart without your permission] and as a result you willingly come to faith and repentance in Christ?

I am convinced from the Scriptures that the latter is the biblical explanation for why anybody is a Christian. Anyways… it’s not new (at least in my own circles) that Reformed Theology has changed the way I see everything in life, and homeschooling is no exception.

I think this is what I have been confronted over and over again these fifteen weeks. My children were very responsive and excited the first week. They listened for the most part, and were obedient. Now, however, most of our days we are angry at our neighbor who is annoying us for the 24th time in the day…

 

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Civil War Weekend 2019

 

Libby and Enzo sit together side by side, and Enzo gets on her face all the time. Change seats, right? That’s the answer!! Well, nobody wants to change seats. Most of the classes they have to take together, so it is only natural that the older will be faster at some things, like writing or taking notes. The other morning, Libby started a whole argument in the bathroom trying to control the amount of time Enzo brushed his teeth. She is prone to have cavities so the rule for her is that she has to brush her teeth for two minutes using a small sand clock that she has. Enzo had one, too, but he broke it one day when he was angry. So… Libby was brushing her teeth and Enzo did not brush his teeth for the whole two minutes since she had already started with the clock. Well, that made Libby upset and she began bossing him around. He snapped at her about how he doesn’t have to obey her, and in retribution, she stuck her tongue at him and walked away.

Pretty funny, right? Although, it is not.

He then tossed his toothbrush full of toothpaste at the mirror, and made a mess which he proceeded to clean, but was having a difficult time cleaning. Then I realized all this had happened in less than two minutes, and I was not even aware of it. I was making my coffee in the kitchen and the only reason I got involved is because Enzo asked for help  on how to clean the mirror. I just asked him what had happened, and he got all hot again, which is and has always been a struggle for him – his anger. Then he began raising his voice at me, and I was not even part of this argument, but he began disrespecting me.  It took us probably more than ten minutes to settle the whole argument, with both parties involved, and without yelling at each other.

Everybody had to be confronted about their own sin in the situation, because everybody did sin. Libby was controlling to say the least, and then she showed contempt for her brother in sticking her tongue at him. I had a hard time not laughing when he told me he was upset because of that. It is hilarious for me as an adult who sees this from the outside, and has perspective on it, but seriously, what was happening in her heart at that particular moment that made her do that? I have showed contempt for people and for God. In a way, I have stuck my tongue at God when I have disregarded His ways, and have gone my own way.

Enzo, well, he lost control. He let his emotions rule. Yes, she sinned against him, so now how is he supposed to respond? Should he offer forgiveness or should he pay back evil for evil, and made a whole mess out of nowhere? Of course he was angry, and he had a good reason to be angry. One of the things I have learned to do in marriage is to overlook minor offenses, otherwise Emerson and I would be arguing more often!

How do we learn to do that? God is giving us plenty of daily opportunities to practice forgiveness while at the same time learning to confront sinful behavior by talking instead of throwing stuff at each other! God willing, this will be very helpful for their future marriages.

So this was the start of our day… we were just getting ready to start with Bible. I think that’s basically how all our days go – on and on throughout the day. Forget Math and Grammar, what gets me tired is fighting for the spiritual state of my children.

 

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North Houston Baptist Church Camping Trip 2019

 

A while ago I shared with someone that I was gonna be homeschooling my children. They looked at me in horror, I am not kidding – HORROR – and exclaimed, “WHY?!”

LOL! I did not take offense, this was not a Christian woman, so of course we had zero agreement on what matters the most in this life. But Christian or not Christian, situations like the toothpaste are exactly why we chose to homeschool. I don’t think I have ever written it all down. I have the privilege to address my children’s hearts as only I can. I get to disciple them and spend my days teaching them what matters the most in this life.

Who is going to teach them those things if not my husband and I?

Am I really naive enough to think that their home room teacher will? Even assuming the teacher is Christian, that person has no time in the day to address my child’s heart or the other twenty children in her classroom. They do not know my children. We never intended to get the children out of the public school system to put them in a Christian bubble in order to isolate them from sin. I am stuck with these little sinners every single day, and they are stuck with me. Sin is alive and well in our household. I guess it was way easier to send them over to school where somewhere else was bothered by their misbehavior. And what would the teacher do? Have a ten minute talk about sin and how sin gets in the way of our relationships? Of course not. So basically, at the end of the day I am exhausted, but I am so thankful we are doing this.

We are studying about other cultures, and other religions, and the questions have been great so far. I was not expecting Libby to ask me how do we know that Christianity is true.

 

You tell us all the time the Bible is true, and that every other religion is false. But the Muslim mother is teaching her children that Islam is true, and that everything else -including Christianity – is false. How do we know who is right?

– Libby

I froze for about five seconds LOL!

I didn’t have to deal with that question until I was 31 years old. Nobody ever prepared me to answer those things. And it is awesome that I get to use my spiritual gifts in teaching and preaching the gospel to my children over and over again [to my children – you know, in case you are not familiar with the uproar after Go Home].

The LORD has been so good to me and He has equipped me with so much knowledge and understanding about other religions, particularly Islam after living in India. It is a great opportunity that I get to teach apologetics and theology to my children. God has wired me with a passion for this, and it is great to be used by Him in that way. It doesn’t happen often (we do not follow a curriculum), but I think it comes often enough because we are studying the Scriptures every day. And as I write this post, I realize that the things that we have talked about have happened over a period of weeks, not necessarily in one sitting.

We have talked about the nature of truth claims, and how the most zealous sincere believers can be sincerely wrong. We have talked about how all religions share some truths together, but in reality, it is also nonsense to say that all religions teach the same things, because when you really study them side by side, they contradict each other at critical points. Simply said, Islam, Christianity, Jehova Witnesses, and Mormonism all have a different Jesus. For the JW, Jesus is Michael the archangel; for the Mormon, Jesus is the actual literal son of God who had sex with one of his many wives, brother of Satan, among other things; for Muslims, Jesus is a great prophet, but ultimately a man who, by the way, did not die on the cross (despite all the historical evidence from Jewish historians); and for Christians, Jesus is the Son of God, not a physical son, but of the same nature of the Father.

It takes a lot of time to go through many of those things. And I think that’s what I LOVE about being with them all the time. If I were not with them, all these hours that I am investing in their spiritual present and future would be spent somewhere else, with someone else, and they would be learning something else. They would still be discipled, but by other people. I know the LORD saves no matter what. He saved me, and nobody ever homeschooled me. God is mighty to save, but if I can spend this time with them, why wouldn’t I?

 

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He decided to get a haircut 😦

 

Ultimately, what I am striving for is to help them see what the Bible says about the condition of fallen man and how Christ is our only hope.

I have tried to make clear to them that if at any point in their lives (including right now) there is any real desire to follow after Christ in their hearts, that desire did not originate in their sinful hearts, but that God gave them that desire. Even though I believe their confession of faith is true, ultimately only God knows whether or not their faith in Jesus is genuine. And so, if they came to Christ is because it was granted to them by God, the Father, since nobody comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. That is the plain reading of the text.

We have memorized Romans 3: 9-18.

Who seeks after God? No one. There are no true seekers apart from the Holy Spirit already working in the hearts of those people.

Who is righteous in their heart that they fear the Lord? No one. So if they really believe, it is because God changed their hearts. How or when, I do not know. But I believe what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit blowing wherever He pleases, and we only see the effects of it.

If they are Christian, it is not because they are smarter than their peers, or because they are more reasonable than the unbelievers down the street, or more humble than other children or adults who refuse to accept Jesus. No. They are Christian because God had mercy on them. They are Christian because He chose to open their eyes. They are Christian because God chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and blameless before Him. Another plain reading of the text.  They are Christian because God, in love, predestined them to adoption to Himself as children through Jesus Christ, not according to their free will, or according to how amazing they are, because the text does not say that anywhere. If they are Christian, it is according to the purpose of His will, for the praise of his glorious grace. Therefore, they cannot really boast in their ability to choose for Christ, because if there is repentance and faith in their lives, even that is a gift of God, so that no one can boast.

So I guess, we pretty much are hanging on the mercy of the Lord at all times,  and that is a sobering thought. I have been very anxious about several things lately, and the original intention of my post was to talk about it, but I got sidetracked… I have been realizing that, literally, my every heart beat is a gift from God – every single time my heart beats depends on the LORD keeping it beating.

So apart from the grace of God, no matter how much evidence I could provide them so that they would believe Christianity is a factual, historical, reliable faith, they would never believe it anyway.  They cannot. That is exactly what the Bible claims. They are blind. They cannot please God on their own. Apart from Christ, they are God’s enemies. Apart from Christ, they are all alone in the world, without hope, following Satan. Apart from Christ, they are dead in their sins and trespasses, and by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, John 6, Romans 5, Romans 8, John 3).

So they do not need evidence, the evidence is there, and will always be there. What they most desperately need is a miracle. They need the Holy Spirit to illuminate their hearts. They need to be born again. While I cannot birth them spiritually, I know that my prayers and my teaching of the Word of God to them are some of the means that God might use to bring them to faith. And even if He doesn’t, I am still commanded to do it. I need to trust God will glorify Himself through our lives.

This is basically why we homeschool. If we didn’t, we couldn’t compete with the 16,000+ hours that they would have spent in school. I want that time for Christ.

Oh, yes. Other than that, we are into crocheting, and rock climbing lately. My arms were sore for three days. I am also learning to play the piano 🙂

 

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Libby climbing.

Pinocchio

It is hard to believe that it has been four weeks of homeschooling the children. I am excited because Emerson and I get to be the ones who train them and influence them the most.

That was evident to me this week as we read Pinocchio. I had never read Pinocchio as a child. Actually, I never read as a child. So I am reading many books with them and for them. And that Pinocchio, I tell you, he is such a disrespectful, nasty, little brat. He deserves every single bad thing that ever happened to him and way worse**.

Then the fairy says Pinocchio has a good heart. ARE YOU KIDDING ME??!!

4

Going to church.

As we were reading, I was able to train them to see the worldview that Pinocchio presented them with. I began telling the children the truth about who we really are apart from Christ – we are not good, we are not righteous (Romans 3:23). We are blind and dead in our sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2). Also, when we read the Scriptures, we realize we are not really free; we are always slaves of the one we obey, either sin or righteousness (Romans 6:16).

And thanks be to God that it was Christ who actually set us free (Galatians 5), but not to live according to the flesh, but to live according to the Spirit (Romans 8). There is no way that out of our own self-determination we would be able to become “good” as poor little Pinocchio was trying to. So, yeah, we basically ripped down Pinocchio’s theology to shreds, LOL! Then we watched the movie just for fun!

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CyFair Fire Station

We have also read about Egypt, the Sumerians, and the Minoans. I almost feel bad because we can’t keep up with all the “suggested” reading. We built a ziggurat with sugar cubes and peanut butter. We also visited the Fire Station, and got to see a fireman put on all his gear. 

This month has been awesome. There are also days like today in which I  feel weird, and we ended doing school at the coffee shop. I was super sleepy, so I am glad I had a coffee. It was not a bad day, they had a lot of fun working their way to earn a cookie. I guess I am still getting used to doing this, it is a lot of work 🙂

5

Doing Math

**I am thankful that the LORD does not give me what I actually deserve. I have been much, much worse than Pinocchio. Even today my feelings tried to rule my heart. The thought of the Holy One giving me justice, and treating me according to my iniquities makes me shudder. It is something that I don’t think about often, not because it is not true and right, but because I know that the LORD himself has provided THE way to escape His wrath – His own Son, Jesus Christ. In Him, justice was served, the righteous for the unrighteous. And for the praise of His glorious grace (Ephesians 1:6) I was given mercy.

I am thankful that I have been called to tell my children all about this amazing grace. And while I cannot open their eyes or bring spiritual life into their hearts, it is a privilege to be used as a tool in the hands of my God to bring them the only message through which God might save them – the Gospel (1 Peter1:22-25).

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
    nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
    nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
    so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
    he remembers that we are dust.

Psalm 103: 8-14