Thursday 28 February 2013

The BEST Advice for Life with a Newborn

I was SO blessed to have many Titus 2 women in my life when we had our first child.  Those first few days and weeks are tough.  And there is a lot of advice that can be very helpful, so don't be afraid to ask wise women in your life for their tips!

But the BEST advice was given to me by a dear friend, and mother of eight, and it made a WORLD of difference.  It is this:

  • Don't dread the nighttime wake-ups.  Use that time to pray and be thankful!  These are weapons against the enemy.  Satan wants us to live in fear and grumbling.  Instead we can redeem that time by enjoying our little one, because that time will be over sooner than we expect! 

  • Use that time to pray:
    • for their salvation and their future spouse, 
    • for wisdom in parenting, 
    • for our husbands,
    • that God would help us be better wives, mothers, friends and daughters! 
  • Say prayers of thankfulness 
    • thanking God that you are awake at that moment, 
    • that you are tired because you have this child,
    • that you are in a warm home with breakfast awaiting you in the morning.  

When I went to bed at night with this frame of mind, instead of fearing the nighttime wake-ups, it made those middle-of-the-night times blessed, instead of miserable.  I was usually still tired, but I chose to be thankful.  And I have had to reset my thinking a number of times. Sometimes our little guy will sleep through the night for a while but then start waking up again and I'll have to remind myself all over again of my friend's wise advice. And it always makes the whole situation much better.

Do you have a best piece of advice for those with newborns? 

Monday 25 February 2013

3 Reasons Christans Should be Concerned by the 2013 Academy Awards

I want to highlight three areas in which Christians should be careful not to be desensitized, three areas that were strongly portrayed in last night's Academy Awards presentation.
Firstly, I believe that there can be worth in celebrating the best in an industry.  In celebrating that which is true and good and pure (Phil 4:8), and which is encouraging to others (1 Thes 5:11).  It didn't even seem that this was the goal of last night.  Sure they handed out awards - but the rest of the time they were mocking those who have worked to create the movies they are meant to be celebrating.  Have we as a society become so cynical to that we can't even sincerely celebrate an accomplishment without making underhanded jokes at it's expense?  I see this in my daily interactions;  people are so quick to make fun of something/someone, being hurtful in the name of "humour" (Prov 26:18-19), and anyone who speaks out against it is told to "lighten up" or "have a sense of humour" - as if those qualities are to be desired more than holiness, respect and love. 

Secondly, it is no secret that Hollywood is largely consists of social "progressives" - a group who allegedly stand up against traditional values for "women's rights" and "gender equality".  Yet in the introductory monologue we saw a whole song devoted to normalizing female nudity in the media, and perpetuating the sexualization of women.  Granted they would probably tell you that this IS standing up for women's rights!  A women's right to be objectified! 

Consider which view is more respectful of women:
  • The biblical view that men and women are equal in God's eyes. They are equally sinful, and equally able to be redeemed by Jesus' sacrifice on the cross. And then they are both given the same status as children of God and co-heirs with Christ.  God has given men and women DIFFERENT roles, which are complementary and allow men and women to work together to bring glory to God and do His will. Women are given the PRIVILEGE of being under the protection and leadership of either their husband or their father (Num 30:3-5, Eph 5:22-23).  They are given the OPPORTUNITY to care for their children, husband and be keepers at home (Titus 2:4-5, 1 Tim 5:8). They are to be loved sacrificially by their husband's and are to be treated with all purity (Eph 5:25, 1 Tim 5:1-2).
  • The worldly view is that men and women must be treated EXACTLY the same.  Women should not be given the privilege of being protected by men, and should be required to do the same tasks, for example to fight in wars, and provide for their families - even if that means leaving their children as early as six weeks to go back to work.  The feminists have tried to tell us this is "opportunity" but I haven't spoken to any women who was happy to HAVE to go back to work, as many feel they must.  As well, though the sex trade continues to be a problem, Hollywood continues to glorify the sexualization of women, at an increasingly young age.  There is no talk of respecting women because of their sex, and modesty and purity are made out to be oppression - whereas highly talented actresses having their worth measured by the nudity they show in films, is apparently not a form of oppression.
Thirdly, Christian's should be disturbed by the fact that the only mention of God was when His name was taken in vain.  There was a time five years ago when it was common for winners to thank God for their success.  Whether these people had a true relationship with Christ we can't know.  But in the past two years it has become as if even addressing God is taboo.  No one does it. And yet the show was peppered with phrases we should find EXTREMELY offensive.  Again - this is an area where it is easy for us to have become so desensitized, but we must not let it slip by as unimportant.

Did you watch the OSCARS last night?

What did you notice?

Thursday 21 February 2013

Why Read Christian Biographies?

More and more I enjoy reading about the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ throughout history and I wanted to highlight some of my favourite biographies and how they have benefited me.

  • To be encouraged in your own walk with the Lord.  One of my very favourite biographies is of Gladys Alward.  Throughout her life she demonstrated AMAZING trust in the Lord - in his power and his goodness.  I wanted to include an excerpt here, but I have lent out my copy!  At one point she is asked to go into a prison in the little Chinese village she is in because there is a riot and everyone else is afraid to go in!  However, she was always telling them that her God is all-powerful, and so they figured she shouldn't be afraid!  How could she say no?! I won't ruin the story here, but it is this and many other demonstrations of faith throughout Gladys Alward's life which inspire me to greater trust in the Lord.
  • To remember the importance and gravity of missions.  Many of you have probably heard about Jim Elliot, and there are MANY other missionaries who showed by sacrificing their very own lives how important it is to preach the good news to ALL nations.  Jim Elliot was martyred by a cannibalistic tribe in Ecuador, and years later that same people group was brought to faith.  After reading a story like this, it makes my own fears about sharing the gospel in my very safe life seem extremely trite.
  • To gain a greater understanding of right doctrine.  Andrew is currently reading Iain Murray's Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, and sometimes we read out loud together.  It is VERY interesting.  Along with learning about this great man (and his great wife), and about the time period (New England in the 1700s), what is REALLY neat is the way Murray uses the life of Jonathan Edwards to give the reader a greater understanding of the soveriegnty of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of people.  This is a post in itself, and you are sure to hear more about this book around here.
  • To see how the Gospel of Christ transcends cultural differences.  In the book Peace Child by Don Richardson, one of the major themes is how Richardson, a missionary in New Guinea, used a "redemptive analogy" to share the Gospel with the people.  What this really gives you a sense of is not that you need to change the gospel to fit the group, but that the gospel already is perfect for every people group.  Like Paul in Athens, Gladys in China, Elliot in Ecuador, and Edwards in New England we need to preach Christ and Him crucified, and know that the Word of God is able to transform hearts and minds for the glory of God. 
  • To see how the Gospel should shape the culture.  Here I think of both the biography of Fredrick Douglass and the story of William Wilberforce.  Both were men whose Chrstianity lead them to speak against the unjust laws of the land, through the political sphere and the media.  Each had an incredible impact on the abolition of slavery - Douglass in America and Wilberforce in England - because of their belief in Christ.  There are many issues in our current culture which Christians should be adamantly speaking out against and working to end (e.g. abortion, the sex trade), and reading these stories can help inspire us to action!
NOTE: The biographies on Alward, Elliot and Douglass are from the Heroes of the Faith series. I picked them up at a used book store, and I think they are no longer in print, but I HIGHLY recommend them.  I would love to own all of them, and would encourage you to pick up any titles from the series if you have the opportunity.  I believe they are written for young people and so are easy reads, but are quite thorough and very inspiring.

(We don't necessarily agree with all the choices these men and women made, but we still believe there is much we can learn from them and are so thankful for their wonderful testimonies.)

What are your favourite Christian biographies? 

Monday 18 February 2013

Titus 2 vs. Anti-Culture: Seven Battlefields for Young Women

Titus 2:4-5 says that the older women should teach the younger women to:
  1. love their husbands
  2. love their children
  3. be self-controlled
  4. be pure
  5. work at home
  6. be kind
  7. be submissive to their own husband.
In contrast, consider how the anti-culture* is telling young women to act:
  1. Television and media often portray husbands and men as foolish, useless and to be despised.
  2. Families who have eight children are looked at strangely, whereas it is perfectly acceptable to not want any children.
  3. We are told that we should have what we want, when we want, exactly the way we want.
  4. Younger and younger girls are being sexualized in the media, and it is not unusual for school-age children to have a "boyfriend" or "girlfriend".
  5. It is much more normal for a daughter, wife, and mother to work outside the home, than to contribute to the family economy in the context of the home.
  6. Young women are more often portrayed as catty gossips than kind mentors to their peers and those younger than them. 
  7. The feminists have made it so it isn't even politically correct to talk about being "submissive" to your own husband, let alone actually doing it. 
We need to be constantly on guard against the lies the anti-culture is perpetrating. They have become so normal in our culture that we often don't even recognize them as the anti-biblical beliefs that they are. 

What are other lies you see our anti-culture teaching young women?

*Geoffrey Botkin put forth the idea that true "culture" is biblically founded and God-honouring.  What we have nowadays would be more aptly called "counter-culture" or "false-culture".  (From his talk "How to Disciple a Nation")

Thursday 14 February 2013

10 Simple Ways to Show RESPECT to your Husband this Valentine's Day (or any day!)

  1. Kiss him before he leaves for work (and when he comes home!). This shows him that your physical relationship is important to you - even in the midst of all the craziness of the morning!
  2. Make his favourite food/snack/treat for lunch. This will send the message that you remember what he likes and want to make him happy.
  3. Call him sometime during the day just to say "I was just thinking of you and wanted to say thanks for all you do to provide for our family."  This really is an important way men show their love for their wives, and it is often overlooked.
  4. Tell him you respect him! Make sure you have some reasons when he asks "What makes you say that?"  (This may sound awkward, but it is sure to make him feel great!)
  5. Suggest you do something together that he likes to do over the weekend.  This is especially meaningful if it's something you don't particularly enjoy.  Be sure to join along with a enthusiastic spirit, not a "you owe me for this" attitude.
  6. Ask him for his thoughts on that theological question that has been brewing around in your mind for a little while, instead of doing a Google search, looking up the "answer" in your Bible study notes, or asking a friend.  Just say "I've been wondering about (such and such) for a while, I thought maybe you would have some insights. What do you think?"
  7. Ask him how his day went and honestly listen.  See if you can learn something new about what he does at his job
  8. Resist the urge to "backseat drive", even if it means you have to use the car ride to re-organize your purse.  By not getting nervous and telling him what to do you show that you know he is a capable driver and you trust him to keep you and your family safe.
  9. Compliment him.  Tell your family, friends and him specific wonderful things he has done for you, and specific things about him that you love.  Make this just a natural part of your conversation and you can be sure he will be beaming inwardly when he overhears you at a friends' house.
  10. Find a way to save money this week, whether by looking through the grocery flyers, using a coupon, or just making a delicious meal on the night you usually order take-out.  Being a wise steward of the family funds shows him that you respect the money he earns to provide for the family.
Also check out our post 10 Simple Ways to Honour Your Husband this Valentine's (or any) Day!

(For further reading we recommend Love and Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)

(Linked to:Mama's Moment Mondays)

Monday 11 February 2013

Puffy Apple Pancake

This is one of the easiest breakfasts I make, but it always feels like we've done something special!  What I love most about it (besides that it is so delicious) is that it takes about 5 minutes of work, but then 25 minutes in the oven - which is the perfect amount of time to have a shower, tidy a bit, play with the baby, or check my email!
And then voila - a hot, tasty breakfast on the table!

Puffy Apply Pancake (serves 2-4)

Preheat oven to 450F.

In a cast iron pan*, saute until a little soft:
2 apples cut into thin slices

(or bananas, creative! We have even made this fruit-less in a pinch.)

Then sprinkle overtop:
1 Tbsp sugar, or so
a pinch of cinnamon

Mix together:
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup flour

Pour the batter over the apples and pop the cast iron pan into the oven for 25 minutes (the top should be lightly browned when done). 

(Be sure to have your kids around when you pull it out of the oven, because it will be big and puffy when you first pull it out, but it will quickly deflate! )

You can enjoy it plain, or add toppings like yoghurt or maple syrup.

*NOTE: If you don't have a cast iron pan, you can saute the apples in a normal pan, and then transfer them to a pie dish, pour the batter in it and bake.

(Recipe originally from Starting Out: The Essential Guide to Cooking on Your Own by Julie Van Rosendaal)

Thursday 7 February 2013

So God Made a Husband

God said "I need somebody willing to get up before the kids, turn on the coffee pot, study my Word, work all day, eat supper, pray with the family and then stay up past midnight laughing and talking with his wife." So God made a husband.

Photo by Renata Pollock Birth Photography
"I need somebody with arms strong enough to carry her over the threshold and yet gentle enough to hold her hand.  Somebody to call "just to say I love you", tame cantankerous toddlers, and when he comes home hungry, have to wait for lunch until his wife is done feeding visiting ladies and tell the ladies to be sure and come back real soon -- and mean it." So God made a husband.
God said "I need somebody willing to sit up all night with a teething baby. And watch him sleep. And then rub his eyes and say 'Maybe I'll sleep tomorrow night.' I need somebody who can shape a childlock out of a rubber band, create gourmet breakfast from eggs and oatmeal, who can fix a picture frame with a paint stick and a two paper clips.  And who, winter, spring, summer, and fall will finish his fifty-hour week, then, pain'n from 'computer back,' put in another seventy-two hours investing in his family." So God made a husband.

God had to have somebody willing to speed to get to his in-laws on time and yet who will pull over twice an hour on a six-hour road trip so that his pregnant wife can use the ladies room. So God made a husband.

God said "I need somebody strong enough to carry groceries up two flights of stairs and open jars which just will not open, yet gentle enough to comfort a crying wife and rock a little baby to sleep, who will stop his mower for an hour to help finish icing the cupcakes for the birthday party." It had to be somebody who'd lead his family down the straight and narrow path, and not succomb to the temptations of the world. Somebody to love and listen and laugh, to sacrifice and encourage and watch and pray and talk and finish a hard week's work singing "Oh I was so incredibly happy, when someone said to me, 'Let us go to the house of the Lord!'" on the ten-mile drive to church.

 "Somebody who'd bale a family together with the soft strong bonds of sharing, who would laugh and then sigh, and then reply, with smiling eyes, when his son says he wants to spend his life 'doing what dad does.'" So God made a husband."