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.

On Memorizing Scripture – Part 2

I have been trying to write this post for at least two weeks, but other things got in the way. This may be considered Part 2 of the post I titled On Memorizing Scripture.

In that post I said I have been memorizing the Book of Philippians. I also mentioned that when I read the Bible I go very slowly, and sometimes it takes me days to move forward because I keep thinking and thinking about one particular word, or verse, and then I go on rabbit trails.

So I was in the book of Philippians for probably two solid months – reading it every day, and reading my commentary along with it. It is not a particularly long book. You can read it in one sitting, and be done with it in less than an hour. My commentary, however, has at least five to ten pages to read for every three or four verses. So it took me a long time, but I just finished two days ago 🙂

I truly loved Philippians 3:1-16.

I was fascinated by diving deeper into this section. I was convicted by the words of Paul, and I was also deeply encouraged in my walk and my pursuit of Christ. I felt a lot of love for my Savior. And that might sound cliché, because every Christian should love Jesus, correct? But I personally never had emotions and/or affections that arose deep from within my heart when I was exposed to the Word of God.

I had never experienced that until I began studying Biblical Doctrine.

Paul has so much passion when he talks about Christ – it is contagious. He wants to know Christ. He wants to gain Christ. He wants to be found in Christ. And as I have said, I usually go on rabbit trails trying to find out what all that means. There are things that I cannot relate to when I look at Paul’s life. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to teach me, of course. But there are other things that I can practically apply to my own life.

Daniel Aurelius on September 30th, 2020.
He was upset the ultrasound tech woke him up.

So that whole section in Phil. 3:1-16, really gave me hope. It also made me ponder on questions like: How do I gain Christ? What does it mean to be found in Christ? How do I keep pressing on to make Christ my own? How do I forget what lies behind, and keep pressing on what lies ahead?

I want an answer to all these questions because I want to follow Christ as Paul followed Christ. The fact that I am not Paul does not grant me an excuse to not pursue Christ in the same way Paul pursued Christ. Actually, Paul is instructing the Philippians to imitate him, and to keep their eyes on those who walk according to the example they had in Paul (Phil. 3: 17). So Paul is assuming we will be doing this – imitating him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). As we do so, we in turn can encourage others to do the same.

I want to do that. I want to look for people who will encourage me and keep me accountable to live a life worthy of the calling to which I have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).

I want my love to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that I may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10). I want to orient my heart towards God in such a way that I can confidently say, without the shadow of a doubt, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).

The whole Book of Philippians was amazing.

October 1st, 2020. Evening walk after eating Enzo’s cake.

Something that truly struck me was the fact that the apostle Paul was actually hard pressed between two choices – to remain in the flesh or to be with Christ. He was just not using figure of speech. And it convicted me deeply because I am not struggling with that choice. I know that were God to give me an option today, I would choose to remain. There is so much work left for me to do – or at least I think so. My children need me.

I am pregnant. The child in my womb needs to hear the gospel. I know Christ is more valuable than life itself, but I want to remain in the flesh for their progress and joy in the faith (Phil 1:25). I don’t feel like Paul yet, but it was good for me to understand that I should be fighting my self-desires that go against the self-dying that is necessary for my family, and that as time passes, God willing, my desire to be in heaven should be ever growing.

It was good to know, that Paul’s conviction was rooted in his knowledge of God’s sovereignty. Paul was trusting in God’s will – regardless of the outcome. So his joy was the result of growing closer to the Lord Jesus.

Paul really wants to depart and be with Christ. Am I in sin if I do not feel that way?

The whole book of Philippians sings with joy, and Paul’s desire for his entire life to revolve around Christ – his Savior. It made me want to sing, too.

When studying theology does not prompt us to adoration, we must question whether we are more concerned to puff ourselves up with knowledge than to glorify God. I have sinned greatly in this area. I have confessed that, and I have repented of studying theology for the sake of  head knowledge in the past. The Lord has been very gracious to me in that arena. I know He has forgiven me.

But now more than ever, when I think about the ways my life has been transformed within the last four years, I have come to the realization that it wasn’t counseling what transformed my world. It wasn’t a book on how to deal with abuse that produced perseverance, forgiveness, and compassion. It wasn’t a magic formula on how to raise godly children what has helped me remain faithful in my parenting when I don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in my children’s lives. Nothing special about me has made me mature spiritually.

My life has changed as a result of being taught the Word. This has happened through many means: podcasts, Bible Study, and particularly, my local church. And this is something that didn’t happen in one day, it was a long process. That process is still happening and will continue to happen until the day I see Christ. As I read my Bible, listened to sermons or podcasts, God worked in me.

Enzo’s early birthday celebration in case Daniel is born on Enzo’s birthday.

By God’s grace I am living like Paul lived. I am not talking about sinless perfection for I sin every day. But it is a mercy and a grace from God to be able to see that I am growing in holiness – even my husband has noticed some of that change. So I know it’s actually happening, and that I am not making that up.

And you know what? That process has actually involved suffering. Granted, maybe not like Paul’s, but suffering nonetheless. I have struggled with seeing my idols being stepped on, and fighting for the Lord to be my portion. I have had to confess my unbelief to God in times of anxiety. I have had to recognize that my desires and my wandering often pull my away from Christ. Sometimes I really think I can do all things through ME.

But with Paul I can say, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Phil. 3:12).

Paul did not consider that he had made it his own (Phil. 3:13). Me neither. But with Paul, I do one thing: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)

This section comes after Paul lists his pedigree as a Pharisee, and lists all the things that could have made him rely on his own righteousness, rather than the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ – the righteousness of God that depends on faith (Phil. 3:9).

The most astounding fact is that in this spiritual growth in my life, God has been the driving force – not me. That is not to say that I am NOT pursuing Christ because I am. But the fact that I am pursuing Christ springs from God himself, who is working and orchestrating that desire in me.

Who, then, does the actual work? Is it God, or is it I?

The answer is: YES!

Philippians 2:12-13, says:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

This comes as Paul’s instruction to the Philippians after he has explained the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, and the reason why we, as Christians, should be the most humble of peoples – willing to sacrifice for others and serve them.

Therefore – because of all that Paul just said in Philippians 2:1-11 – they should be working out their salvation with fear and trembling. This has nothing to do with earning one’s salvation. Paul is very clear in his other epistles, that justification (being declared righteous, having peace with God and not condemnation from Him) is by grace alone, through faith alone. And we contribute nothing to that process.

But in the process of sanctification (which is becoming more and more like Christ) we do play an active role. We have the responsibility to actively pursue obedience. And as we do pursue Christ, the Lord by His indwelling Holy Spirit is who actually produces the good works and spiritual fruit in our lives.

Now everything that I just said is doctrinal in nature. The whole Bible is a doctrinal book. I have personally grown in these areas because I have been exposed to great sound teachers online, but more importantly because my pastor feeds me the Word of God. He cares for my soul as he preaches on Sundays.

I am always beating the horse on social media that we, women, are biblically illiterate. Men are biblically illiterate, too, but I am not talking to men here.

Now, I am not saying women do not know how to read. But I am saying that we are not provided, for the most part, with the tools we need in order to read the text, contextualize the text, apply a good hermeneutic to the text, and exegete the text in such a way that we can actually detect false teaching. So I am not surprised when many women think I am a hater when I tell them their favorite Women Bible teacher is a false teacher, or when many Christians are falling for false gospels like the ones espoused in the Woke Church Movement.

That’s what gaining 17 lbs. looks like LOL!

This has been obvious to me for a while, the fact that we need to learn biblical doctrine. But it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day that I realized I was wrong in assuming people knew what I meant. I wish I had all the time in the world to write every single thought that comes to my mind regarding this, but I will try to provide some examples of what I mean when I say we should go deeper, and pursue Christ harder.

I was listening the other day to a sermon I heard by John Piper. He preached it in 1984, when I was a one year-old. I’m not entirely sure if Piper has gone fully Woke – that would be a disgrace. I can tell you I trust the John Piper of 1984, and that’s why I am willing to write about this sermon.

Piper quotes from the book The Pursuit of God, written in 1948, in which Tozer writes:

How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.

According to Piper, the Spirit is not deadening; he is addicting. I agree with that. The evidence that you have HIM – the Spirit, indwelling you – is that you want more of HIM. Continued indifference to growth in grace is a sign of NO grace.

Matthew Henry is right: “Wherever there is true grace there is a desire for more grace.”

Paul went hard after Christ, forsaking all the things people normally boast about; and he did it in order to know Him. Why did Paul do this? Because knowing Christ is a value that surpasses everything else. The evidence of conversion is whether or not you continue to pursue Christ, obeying Chrsit, and walking in holiness (Heb. 12:14).

Again, that doesn’t mean you never sin again, or that Christians cannot fall into grievous patterns of sinning. But if you have been really given a new heart (Eze. 36:26), if you have been made alive after being dead in sin and trespasses (Eph. 2:1-10), if you have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into Jesus’ Kingdom (Col 1:13), then now you are not who you were before Christ. So it is literally IMPOSSIBLE that if you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will remain loving your sin.

A born-again person has a new heart with new desires. He wants to please the Lord in everything he does. A genuine convert enjoys fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:6), she is sensitive to the sin in her life (1 John 2:3), she is obedient to God, she rejects the world (1 John 2:15-17). She loves other Christians, she experiences answered prayer, she sees a decreased pattern of sin in her life (1 John 3:5-10), she is rejected by her faith in many cases (Phil. 1:28). She is able to discern between spiritual truth and error.

Tozer rejected the false logic which says, “If you have found God in Christ, you need no more seek him.”

All this is doctrinal in nature. It involves an understanding of the Doctrine of Regeneration, and what it means to be truly converted. Is it a simple prayer you pray, or is it God who causes you to be alive, and therefore, you put your faith in Christ as a result? What happens at conversion? More importantly, who makes it happen? God in His Sovereignty or you in your Free Will? And while I respect what you think, it is not about what you or I think, but about what the Bile actually says.

These are things that may not matter to you right now, but I can guarantee you, they will matter when your daughter is crying because she doesn’t know if she is truly saved. She sees her sin, she sees that God is holy, and she has this sinful pattern of behavior that she can’t seem to break away from. God forbid I give her a false assurance based on that one time where she said she repented, and that prayer that she said she spoke. That is NOT what the Bible tells me to tell her. The Bible never calls her to accept Jesus into her heart, but to repent and believe. And to keep repenting and to keep believing is the Christian life.

Paul commands my daughter to examine herself to see if she is really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). You may say, “Well, Paul is not Jesus. And Jesus loves her.”

Sure… I guess?

To accept that answer would only reveal a lack of understanding of the Doctrine of Inspiration, and who exactly wrote the Bible. Are Paul’s words to be taken as commands, or just as good advice for wholly living? Paul indicates what he writes are God’s commands (1 Cor. 13:37). This actually is one of the many loopholes female Bible teachers use in order to say they can actually be pastors. They are following Jesus’ calling for their lives, you see. They have this deep desire in their hearts, and if the desire is there, then it must have come from God, right?

Uh… no. They are being disobedient, because the same apostle who commands us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), also says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12). Very unpopular now a days, but that’s what the Scripture says. Are we going to submit ourselves to it or not? You can watch this debate if you’re interested to know more about those passages.

Should Women Preach in Our Lord’s Day Worship Services?

The same with homosexuality. Was that only forbidden back in the Old Testament days, but really, Jesus is pleased with those relationships as long as they are monogamous and committed as Jen Hatmaker says? Is homosexual so-called marriage even a marriage? What is marriage? Why was it created by God? Who says it has to be between a man or a woman? By what standard are we supposed to evaluate the culture? Another great debate on that here.

Is Homosexuality Consistent with New Testament Obedience?

So we need to go deeper in pursuing Christ and His Word so that we can be rooted and grounded firmly in our faith. We need this not only to be able to defend it, but so that we ourselves are kept from following false teachings, and are not tossed back and from by the winds of this godless culture.

What has changed my perspective in the areas of womanhood, marriage, parenting, and Christian love has been going hard after the living Christ. And that has been accomplished through the study of theology.

You see, it is not that I was not a Christian before becoming intensely persuaded that women need theology. It is not that I was not secure in Christ. But there was really a way in which I did not really know the God I worshipped. I was very content knowing Jesus. However, I was not really pursuing Him. I think I romanticized Him, and I thought everything was about me, when in reality it is all about Him. And in our minds, we have no trouble saying God is in control, but when things really get rocky, we cry, “Why is this happening to me?”

The fact that I was struggling in my marriage, and my child was out of control, really made me bow down to the God of the Scriptures, and for the first time I saw Him in ways I had never done before. I understood what grace really is. Again, while not vocally confessing it, I was living for my glory – not God’s.

Going deeper in my knowledge of who Christ is has also helped me to become a better mom, and a better friend. I also hope I have become a better wife. I will ask Emerson. LOL!

Enzo loves Daniel already 🙂

Biblical doctrine has helped me to fight the daily battles in my mind. Sometimes I get sad out of the blue. I recognize lies that are whispered by the enemy of my soul. And that’s why I have loved memorizing big chunks of Scripture with the children. When Libby was sad about her sin, I was able to pray for her, and all that was coming out of my mouth was the Scriptures. I was able to confront her in her sin, encourage her to pursue Christ, and assure her that she will never be sinless. I also told her that if indeed the Holy Spirit lives in her, then He will keep on testifying to her that she is a child of God (Rom. 8:16). And that if so, then no one will ever be able to separate her from His love, and we began quoting together the new chunk that we are memorizing beginning in Rom 8:28.

When life brings suffering, I want to rely on the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. I want to trust that my God ordains all the things that come to pass for my good (Rom 8:28-32). I want to trust that even on the days when I’m feeling like trash (because I have days like that), my God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

It is the Doctrine of Election that takes a hold of my heart, and helps me focus my attention and redirect my heart to the God who chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). And his choosing had NOTHING to do with my performance, or how I would be feeling on that particular day, but He chose me so that I would be holy and blameless before Him, and to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:5). He chose me according to the purpose of His will (Eph. 1:5) in order to demonstrate that it does not depend on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy (Rom 9:14-18).

He gave me mercy. He gave me compassion. What else do I need?

Maybe I have been saying these things regarding theology, and people think my life is boring and consumed by books. Well, of course I read books. But I am talking about devouring the Bible. Doctrine comes FROM the Bible.

In days when I feel worthless or super unproductive (that has happened lately as I have grown super tired because of my pregnancy ), I remember the Doctrine of the Atonement. And no, I don’t say, “Atonement is the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. DONE. I feel much better.”

No, I tell myself that no matter how I am feeling, I am not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. I tell myself that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And that the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I tell my heart not to put its trust on how much I can do with the children for school lately because if righteousness were through the law, or through all these things that are good in themselves – if Christ really died for those, if I begin to rely on all I can do to make myself feel better – the Christ died for no purpose (Gal. 2:15-21).

I can go on and on giving more and more examples on how this has helped me personally in my faith. But I guess I just want to encourage the women who might be reading this that they can do this. It is not rocket science. People go hard after the things they really care about. We do make time for the things that we love, don’t we?

Start reading. Start listening to podcasts and/or sermons of pastors who preach in an expository fashion. Technology is – LITERALLY – at your fingertips.

You don’t know who preaches that way?

Here are some names: Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, Tom Ascol, John McArthur, Josh Buice, Richard Caldwell, John Bray (YAY for my Pastor), Jeff Durbin, James White – that should get you started. Many of those pastors also have either a blog, or a podcast.

Find a healthy church that preaches the Bible in this way. You want to learn more? That’s fine, but it begins with your local church. It is actually your Pastor’s job to watch over your soul. He will give an account one day (Heb. 13:17). You may want to read this article.

So really, the question is:

Do you love Christ?

Do you want to know Him, and the power of his resurrection, so you may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death? (Phil. 3:10-11)

Do you desire to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God? (Eph 3:14-19).

Do you want to advance the gospel regardless of the consequences it may bring in to your life? (Phil. 1:12-14). Do you want to learn contentment? It will involve suffering (Phil. 4:10-13).

If you really desire that (and there are many more promises in the Scriptures), things are not just going to happen. You need to actively pursue Christ knowing that you won’t be perfect in your pursuit, but that the God who bought you with his blood is the same God who will hold you fast as you run hard after Him. What He starts, He finishes (Phil. 1:6).

HE WILL HOLD ME FAST

YOUTUBE VIDEO

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

RESOURCES/PODCASTS/MINISTRIES
  • Philippians For You. Commentary by Steve Lawson.
  • Founders Ministries. Tom Ascol.
  • Alpha and Omega Ministries. James White.
  • Ligonier Ministries.
  • The Sword and The Trowel Podcast. Tom Ascol, Jared Longshore.
  • Just Thinking Podcast. Virgil Walker, Darrell Harrison.
  • CrossPolitic Podcast. David Shannon, aka The Chocolate Knox.
  • The Women’s Hope Podcast from the Master’s Seminary.
  • Delivered by Grace. Blog by Josh Buice.
  • Grace To You. John McArthur.
  • Sheologians Podcast. Summer White.
  • Christ Church. Doug Wilson, Rachel Jankovic.
  • Founders Baptist Church. Walking In Grace Ministries. Richard Caldwell.
  • North Houston Baptist Church Podcast. John Bray.
  • Apologia Radio Podcast. Jeff Durbin.
  • Sovereign Nations Podcast. Michael O’Fallon.
  • Relatable. Allie Beth Stuckey.
  • The G3 Conference Podcast. Josh Buice.
  • HeartCry Missionary. Paul Washer.

Enjoy!

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.   

1.jpg

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?

 

IMG_6259

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!

 

IMG_6256

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

 

In Memory of Dori (2004-2020)

Dori was a sweet dog. She was the best dog a family could ever wish for.

Dori came into our lives when Emerson and I were dating. I had recently lost my husky and Emerson saw how sad I was. Emerson was not really fond of dogs at the time, however, one day he called me and said he was on his way to my house with a present. That present was Dori. She was so young. The vet said she was probably a year old, and so May 16th became her birthday.

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Dori on the day she arrived at my home 🙂

 

Since then, she became Emerson’s dog, really. When we were considering moving to Ohio, he was very sad about having to leave her, but she ended up coming to the U.S. with us. She always kept me company when I was sad, and she also loved the snow. She would run in the snow, play in the snow, swim in the ponds and chase the geese in Ohio.

 

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She was with us during my pregnancies, and she even waited for us when we moved to India. She actually escaped the house we left her trying to look for us at our old apartment – twice!

While in Houston, she loved swimming at the dog park, she swam at the beach, she hiked on trails, she camped with the family. She was a very active, happy, sweet, meek dog.

Enzo describes Dori as a loving, never-barking, sweet dog.

 

 

I cannot describe in a post everything that Dori represented for us as a family during the almost sixteen years of her life, but she was truly loved, and truly well taken care of. There are no regrets in our hearts or in our minds about the life that we gave that sweet puppy.

She will be profoundly missed. Emerson reminded our family that death is a consequence of sin. This is not how life is supposed to be. Death and its pain should make us hate our sin all the more, and we rejoice in the fact that we know the One who conquered death, and that one day there will be no more tears, and no more pain, and no more suffering.

Although we do not really know if we will ever see Dori again, we know that the One who created her will embrace us, and will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more.

 

 

 

Cleopatra, Caesar and Jesus

This is probably a very silly post, so you have the right to stop reading now.

I was having a conversation with my husband during lunch today and I was so excited talking to him about the History lessons I am having with the children. My husband was not amused. Long story short… Rome was a Republic governed by two consuls at the same time. In our time line – 60 B.C. – those two men were Crassus and Pompey.

These two men had a lot of disputes. Then, cunningly, another man joined a coalition with them (known as the First Triumvirate). This man was Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar – who was actually Pompey’s father-in-law – becomes a great military leader, and eventually, scares Pompey to fled to Egypt. Crassus is dead by then, and so Julius Caesar becomes the dictator Rome never wanted.  This happened in 49 B.C.

Only some years earlier, Ptolemy Auletes, was one of last rulers of the line of Ptolemy. The Ptolemites were one of the four families who took over Alexander the Great’s Empire. Ptolemy Auletes was actually Cleopatra’s father. So Cleopatra was not even Egyptian. I did not know that!!

So Cleopatra is a cunning, manipulative 18 year-old who is only looking for a way to gain power. She was beautiful, she spoke many languages – whatever, she used men to her advantage. She marries her brother to become queen. Brother dies? No problem! She marries the next brother. So when her dad sees they are in trouble in Macedonia, he decides to ask for help from Rome. And who is the power of Rome of that time? Julius Caesar.

So when Caesar is chasing Pompey, he ends up in Alexandria, and that’s how he meets Cleopatra, who is 21, and he is in his fifties, and they become crazily in love and what not. Stupid idiot. I’m still very upset about this. Don’t care about her delivering herself  to him in a carpet showing determination.

Fine. Julius Caesar spends all his time in Egypt with his new lover, but then gets killed by a mob of senators who stabbed him up to 35 times, many of them his closest “friends”. Then Rome forms the Second Triumvirate with Lepidus, Octavian and Mark Antony. Lepidus is kicked out of power, and the other two do not have a great relationship with each other. To add more drama to the tale, Octavian’s sister was Mark Antony’s wife.

 And I’m super pumped telling my husband the story, right?

Why are you so excited about this? You are supposed to know this. I learned this in middle school, Karla.

Well, I didn’t. And if I did, I forgot. LOL!

Okay, so. Caesar is dead, Cleopatra is all alone, and her dreams of becoming a great ruler come to a halt. Mark Antony and Octavian after their many disagreements decide to divide the land, and Mark Antony gets to rule over the East – which includes Egypt.  So he decides to visit Cleopatra, and in an elaborate display of wealth, she travels on a golden ship, with purple sails and silver oars. By using her perfumes and with music filling the air and young boys fanning her, she catches the eye of Mark Antony, and he falls in love with her. He marries her in 37 B.C., abandoning his wife. Another stupid idiot. SMH.

We have had History five times a week this week just so that I can read the end of the story. I seriously told my husband I wanted to read her end, that I was hoping she would die a terrible death. I think I was still very upset at all the pain she definitely caused. I am thinking of the wives. Even if there were political marriages, and there were no feelings involved in these marriages… I mean, the humiliation. So I went ahead and finished the lessons by myself.

If I were Octavian, I would be livid. Mark Antony left my sister for another woman, and on top of that he seems to be more loyal to her and to Egypt that to Rome and his people. The guy even walks behind her chariot like her servant. Heck, no! Mark Antony and her Cleopatra have got to go.  So yes, Octavian accused Mark Antony of treason – which was technically true. So Octavian declares war against Cleopatra.

So Mark Antony has the support of Cleopatra and her navy against Octavian, and history records that as Octavian’s ships appeared to overtake Antony’s, Cleopatra panicked. With her gold and purple ship, and with her fleet of 60 warships, she started to sail away. And when Mark Antony sees this, he abandons his own men to run after her. He leaves behind 19 legions of foot soldiers (that is 19 x 6,000 men), and 12,000 men on horse only to sail after her!

I was livid reading this. Poor Mark Antony sat down alone, below deck, buried with his face in his hands. What a coward!

 

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So Octavian, obviously hunted them both down. At some point Mark Antony thought she was dead, so he tried to kill himself, but was taken to her side before he died in her arms. Ugh. Spare me.

Octavian, of course, conquered Alexandria, and this woman, tries to win his heart, just like she did with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. I told the children before I knew all this, that she didn’t love anyone, but herself, and that her actions reminded me of the prostitute in Proverbs. But, man, I cannot wait to see the children’s faces when I tell them all these details.

So pretending to cooperate with Octavian, Cleopatra asks him to allow her to visit Mark Antony’s tomb, and after perfuming herself and what not, she kills herself, and gets buried next to Mark Antony. Ugh. Spare me, again.

So that’s just the background for my post. LOL! No, seriously.

As I was reading the fate of this woman, and the whole drama of all these lives, I was pretty impressed with Octavian. He literally became the hero in my eyes because he didn’t fall for her. Call me silly. So I kept on reading about him. He was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar who had written in his will that Octavian would be his adopted heir. So Octavian becomes a dictator, but a good one, in a sense. He actually worked with the senators, who ended up giving him the name of “emperor”, and called him Augustus. He also adopted the name of Caesar, in honor of Julius Caesar. So he was known as Caesar Augustus.

And for the first time in all this saga, I was like, “Oh, I’ve head that name before”. And then it hit me.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

– Luke 2:1-7

This is the Caesar Augustus who ordered the census that brought Mary and Joseph all the way from Galilee to Bethlehem.

I mean, “Who writes this stuff?,” I asked myself. And automatically, my answer was, “God does. He writes history.”

The birth of Jesus was not an afterthought in the mind of the Creator. It happened that way not because Caesar knew he was an instrument of God in bringing a prophecy to come about, but he actually did. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). God has always used rulers to accomplish His purposes. We see it with Moses and Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus and all those prophecies being fulfilled over and over. By the way, you should check out the Mystery of History I, if you are interested in learning the Bible chronologically, and understand all the prophets and how they all come together. It’s a wonderful resource. I loved it this year. It puts together everything happening around the world at the same time that say, Ezra is coming back from Babylon.

So, if you are a Christian, I hope you already know this, but our faith even though experiential in nature, is not based on feelings or experiences, but in truth. The Bible is authoritative in itself, and claims to be the only truth. I believe that. The Bible is sufficient. At the same time, we also have all these incredible amount of historical data that anchors our faith within a very clear historical background that only gives us more confidence.

Just studying Homer and Plato this year in History, we found out there is no other document in history that compares to the New Testament when it comes to manuscript reliability – meaning no one has altered the text. And I think I have posted somewhere else about Textual Criticism. It is just a myth that the Bible has been corrupted over the years. A myth that Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, and Muslims all love alike. They love it because without it, their religions crumble to the ground.

So this lesson on Cleopatra ended up really opening my eyes to this truth again, and it is beautiful: I can trust the God who governs the universe. 

Who writes this stuff? God does. I forget. I forget that God is in control of History. I forget He has already written my history, too, and although it is unfolding I can trust that He wants His glory and my good because I am His child and He loves me.

In this COVID-19 season, I am just thankful that God is not a God of chance. God is not trying to hold it all together, making His best attempt to juggle His wishes and balancing it all out with the choices He foresees humans taking in the future.

Who ordained Caesar Augustus to command a census? God did.

God is in control of History. I have loved studying with the children about Assyria, and Babylon, and Alexander the Great, and now Cleopatra and Caesar Augustus. I am thankful I don’t have to trust my gut or my feelings, but that I can trust His word, and I that I know the One who rules the universe, and the best thing is that He knows me. He loves me. He  has loved me before He created the world.

These are some Scriptures that have encouraged me over the years, but the one from Isaiah is my favorite. There is a wonderful article about it here. 

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Isaiah 46:8-11

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
    take it to heart, you rebels.
 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
    from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do.