I recently finished reading through the eleventh chapter of the biblical book of Hebrews. I kept on reading through verse three of chapter twelve.  The eleventh chapter of Hebrews is known as the Hall of Faith because it honors the great men and women who clung to their faith in God through great persecution and trials, despite the fact that they did not yet know about Jesus as we have the privilege of knowing Him.  And then verses one through three of chapter twelve challenge the ones who do know Jesus to be encouraged by those heroes of the faith who have gone before: “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross…”  This was not my first time of reading these verses, but they did resonate with me in a fresh way.

These verses confronted me with the fact that a life of ease should not be my ultimate desire. In our present society “easy” is getting easier to obtain; a simple scroll through your social media news feed is evidence of that. What “crises” usually make the status headlines these days? Today I read posts from moms bemoaning the fact that they cannot program Netflix to play continuously all day for their kids; instead, they have to interrupt their sleep or personal time in order to make sure the shows haven’t stopped streaming. Our culture has a low tolerance for discomfort and a quick inclination to complain, withdraw, or roll over and give up trying when life is “hard.” I can honestly say that this tendency is strong in myself, and I want that fact to change.

Lack of sleep makes me irritable; aches and pains are excuses for not doing all that can be done; interrupted routines sends me into a stressed frenzy; extended durations of whining make me impatient and frustrated. These are the usual woes of my day and when listed they seem petty compared to those ordinary people who endured extraordinary hardship for the same faith that I claim  to hold: “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated…wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground.” 

Chapter eleven begins with the definition of faith: “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”  It may seem like a stretch to be comparing my stay-at-home mom’s life with the lives of those described in the great Hall of Faith, but I am doing so because our faith is the same. What good is my faith if I don’t live it out in the middle of my calling as a wife, mom, and individual? I may not be able to control the ins and outs of my day, but I can certainly control my attitude in the midst of them – and my attitude should be driven by my faith in Christ Jesus. The Hebrews challenge that spoke to my heart was not that I should minimizethe hardships in my life but that I should recognize the ability I have been given to do what is right in the midst of them.  Trust me, living for Jesus during an ordinary day is anything but easy, but it is worth every bit of the struggle.

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Faithful in Florida

Passing another birthday and eagerly anticipating the imminent birth of my second son are perfect reasons for reflecting on all that I have learned about Jesus through my recent history. My reflections gave me pause as I recognized that in less than five years I have experienced several of the most recognized life-altering changes a person can have in a lifetime: marriage, children (not once, but four times), and a move that took me out of my home state. And these were only the most notable, highlight-worthy transitions; there were a myriad of significant yet personal ones all along the way. On my birthday I asked myself this: “Is my life worth it? All the efforts to live well, to redeem the time, to reach others- are they all worth it?” And then I considered the Constant through all of my transitions, changes and experiences. Not only has He been there for me in the first 29 years of my life, He has come with me in the most recent four. I cannot refrain from exulting in His faithfulness when I recall how terrified I was to leave my island home and move to Florida. I simply could not begin to picture how I could establish a life as rich and secure in a new state as the one I was leaving behind. And yet I have- not because of my own creativity or social skills but because of Christ’s personal care, attentiveness and faithfulness in walking before us, walking beside us and walking behind us every step of the way. Florida living is a testament to me of what I always knew but had not quite internalized: that Jesus is just as faithful in shepherding me through the inner turmoils of my heart as He is in guiding me through those textbook transitions. Grasping this truth is probably the greatest life change I have made so far because it frees me to embrace all of the challenges yet to come. So the answer is “Yes!” Yes, it is worth it to keep living in a way that draws me closer to Jesus and allows me to testify for His glory.

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Some Thoughts on Marriage

It’s February; this means that we are all a little more focused on love and relationships, right? It was not too long ago that I realized I spend more time pondering and discussing parent-child relationships than I do my marriage relationship. It’s not that I don’t recognize the importance of marriage; it’s just that the demands of parenting seem louder and more persistent. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know?  Needless to say, having my eyes opened to this unbalanced ratio has been a good thing. In the process of reorienting my focus, I have come to a few conclusions which I hope will be of benefit to you as well.

The first is that the Golden Rule does not exclude spouses. There are days when I have been so busy caring for our children that I simply see my husband as someone who is there for my benefit: help me, pamper me, listen to me, serve me.  I have a set of expectations for him that aligns with my personality and I can get impatient or frustrated when he does not meet them.  This tendency of mine is not a righteous one. My husband lavishes me with such grace: rarely suggesting any improvements to my character and encouraging me to flourish in the way my personality is inclined. These are such gifts and are attributes that I would like to cultivate more in how I treat and respond to him. He is a master of the Golden Rule and is truly leading by example.

The second is that spouses are not children. With the bulk of my day being spent providing childcare, there are times when I probably forget to revert to adult mode when my husband gets home. In some ways, it could be easier to just group him in with the kids in how I talk to him, respond to him, and care for him. If and when I do this, it is by no means intentional; however, it is something to which I need to be alert. Not only would treating him like a child disrespect him it would also demean him in front of our children. They need to recognize the pivotal role he has in our home and family and respond to him with utmost respect and adoration.  Again, my husband already leads by example in how he treats me and encourages the children to respond to me. Husbands and wives set the tone of the home and are living models of what children can expect from marriage. Both marriage partners should be loved and respected by one another.

Finally, the marriage must be the center of the God-fearing home. After faith, the marriage must be both spouses’ number one priority. Everything about the family is linked to the health and vibrancy of marriage. Once the honeymoon stage has ended, it is all too simple to slip into a monotonous routine when it comes to one another. Work consumes, children arrive with overwhelming needs, life throws bills, break-downs, and social demands. Pretty soon marriage can be a mere box to check on an insurance form. But it doesn’t, and shouldn’t, have to be that way.  If we can manage to make everything else a priority, we can most certainly make time for the one we once knew we couldn’t live without.  We have become one flesh with this person and, just as our spirit craves that Creator-creation connection, our hearts long for a consistent connection with our soulmate. Time with our spouse is not a luxury; it is a necessity.

Marriage is a God-given gift worth cherishing. It should not be treated lightly. It is upon a healthy marriage that a healthy home is built; within that home new lives are created and nourished. When these lives are fully matured, they leave home of their birth to establish families of their own, and so the cycle of society continues. When marriages disintegrate, society crumbles.

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O! This Unhappy Generation

On our morning walk today we passed a group of teenagers waiting for the school bus. They were a diverse group clad in colors ranging from all black to bright. Their hairstyles varied from normal to audacious.  Almost all of them had earbuds in their ears and phones in their hands. But what most caught my attention were the somber, if not completely depressed, expressions on their faces. My little people found them intimidating and clung close to me as we walked by. I told them, “It’s ok. They are only teenagers and they are probably nervous about you too.”  But that gloomy group of young people left an impression on me today.  I pondered the difference between them and my toddlers: eyes on the ground versus eyes all around; expressionless versus animated and sparkling; silent versus giggling and wondering aloud. What happened to them?

Perhaps it is not so much what happened to them but what happened all around them. Children long for direction; they find security in guidance and boundaries; they yearn for stability and consistency. Is that what they are finding in our society? Think about it: the foundation of our American society is barely recognizable as something upon which a life can be built. It has eroded to the point where anyone attempting to live according to any standard must fight to stand upright. The courts have declared marriage a free for all; it’s open season on babies from 4 weeks gestation to 40; pornography is rampant; many drugs are legal; prostitution is even legal in some cities and is being considered for full legalization; medical kidnap is becoming more of a common occurrence; gender can be chosen and changed.  School shootings pierce our news headlines all too often, and thousands of children are lured into the sex trade beneath our noses every year. Is it any wonder that our teenagers are either staring at the ground or looking over their shoulder?

In the midst of this tragic chaos there are the constant calls for change: policy changes, government changes, security changes, attitude changes.  Yet I wonder who is willing to step up and make the sacrifice of changing themselves in a few basic ways rather than demanding others to change. If I could write an open letter to my fellow American citizens, I would ask them to consider making changes in these three areas:

  1. Home ~ How often are you at home with your children for the sake of being at home with your children? Today’s kids spend so much time away from home. They are at daycare, before care, after care and extracurricular activities all throughout the week. This leaves them little time to develop a secure home base where they can find security and rest while creating a space they can call their own.  This may then prompt them to escape into their own virtual world and render them nearly unreachable to human contact.
  2. Heart~Do you view your children’s hearts as a treasure worth guarding? It’s often easier to turn your children’s attention to a screen or another person when you want to do your own thing, but no moment spent with your kids is a wasted one. Consider investing more in your kids and less in yourself each day. Kids need to know that you value them and long to know them. Remember, if you’re not spending time with your kids someone else is.
  3. Hope~Don’t give up. Children can be exasperating and exhausting.  You may feel like everything and everyone are falling apart everywhere, but it’s worth the effort to keep going. Christ doesn’t give up on us when we mess up, even in the worst ways, so let’s not give up on our families. I have also found that the most desperate times are often the best times to prove unconditional love to our children.

I am of the opinion that in this upside-down and backwards world the best way to set things straight is to return to the basics. Family starts in the home. Change begins in the heart. Hope is found in Jesus.

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Hold still. Let me gaze at your face,

Those wondering eyes, your tousled hair.

In the busyness of being mom, I rarely stare

And absorb the magic of you in this place.


When did you change? Infant, toddler, boy.

Didn’t I just meet you this morning?

Now you are talking, jumping, running, counting

Forever a source of vibrant joy.


Pause. Let me soak you in, my Firstborn.

I have so much to learn as a mommy.

You patiently teach me to live freely,

Letting go of what I once thought important.


Settle down by me. Let me hold your little boy hand.

There’s time to play and grow and learn,

Just give me this moment for which I yearn

Before tomorrow comes and you are a man.

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When Life Really Happens

Today is Monday. Monday is often the most dreaded day of the week because it means we have to shift out of weekend mode and get back to the scheduled demands of every day living. This Monday has done its best to live up to its reputation starting with my husband waking up to a teeth-clenching gout attack; this is particularly challenging as I wrestle with the physical wear and tear of being in my 36th week of pregnancy while trying to maintain a consistent routine for our 3 little people.

As I hung up my third load of laundry I reflected with gratitude on God’s gracious mercies: I had energy this morning to handle these unexpected challenges and my emotions were leaning in the direction of blessing-counting rather than hormonal weeping. And then it clicked! This is life: the break from routine, the being there for the ones you love, the recognition that life isn’t always about what tasks you accomplish but instead about those in between moments that you weren’t expecting.

This Monday I’m grasping that my housekeeping, meal-making, laundry-hanging, preschool-teaching routine isn’t about accomplishing what’s next on the list but is about meeting the needs of the ones I love and interacting with them in a variety of ways. Life really happens when I can embrace the routine and the unexpected.

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Remembering what has been Forgotten

Since I have just completed the reading of Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth , I was prepared to compose a book review about it. I reconsidered this idea because I assume I have a broad readership and the topic would be of interest to only a select few – particularly those with childbirth on their minds. Instead, I would like to share my personal ponderings on a series of topical threads that have recently interwoven themselves together into a single theme: a return to what has been forgotten.

Not only have I been immersed in reading up on childbirth, I have also been reviewing the proper usage and properties of essential oils and learning about alternatives to vaccinations. All of these topics have elements of controversy in them because they go against modern norms, yet the more I dive into them the more I am struck by the historicity of these topics as well. It makes me wonder if we have truly gained more than we have lost by letting go of what helped our forefathers survive and flourish in exchange for faster, cheaper, and less involved methods of healthcare.

Childbirth was once the natural beginning of the life cycle; a process that centered around the mother and her body as it completed the final step on the journey to new life. Allowing the mother to fulfill the labor and delivery process in the ways she was most comfortable provided an opportunity for her to experience and reveal the greatness of her innate strength – something of which women are so often deprived as they are indoctrinated with the assumption that childbirth is a medical issue that must be treated in a formulaic way, not a gateway to new life that is gradual and transformational; that pain should be avoided at all costs rather than embraced in order to embolden us to accept discomfort with dignity and determination.

Essential oils have inspired me to explore natural remedies for household ailments and household care. The more I study, research and learn the more I discover that the use of essential oils is an ancient art and practice that met with great results. A blend of essential oils was even used to heal patients struck with the bubonic plague! Essential oils were used by soldiers in WWI to treat gangrene and other diseases common on the battlefield.  Recognizing the beauty of wholistic methods of healthcare leads one on a path to pursue even more possibilities for living a flourishing life.  Much of what is our norm today contains fillers, additives and preservatives, whether it is our medications, our vaccinations, or our food. As a society, we have been conditioned to accept these things because we are told that they are safe, necessary and cost-effective. To question is to go against the status quo  and who really wants to be different?

And yet the alternative to the status quo is a return to the foundational benefits of a simple life. Boosting the immune system with plenty of time outdoors, ample rest, avoiding sugar consumption (did you know that sugar inhibits cells from being able to repair themselves?) and eating natural food (not refined and processed); using nature’s remedies that strengthen the body from head to toe with lasting results rather than treating symptoms as fast possible; and taking time to continue researching ways to improve the way you care for your body.  The human body is the most remarkable and miraculous of all living organisms. The intricacies of its cellular structures! The length and breadth of the nervous system! The complexity of DNA! The capabilities of the human mind! Isn’t it worth the time and effort necessary to help it attain its full potential?

This may sound like an extremely simplistic outlook, but in comparison to human history we have only been outsourcing our physical maintenance for a short amount of time. Think about it: for millennia, humans have grown their own food, made their own clothes, built their own homes, and been their own physicians. And now, as a whole, we count on other countries to make our clothes, pay other people to build our homes, trust the government to feed us and believe that doctors are the only ones who can keep us healthy. I don’t know about you, but I kind of like the idea of discovering that I am able to take care of myself and my family.  It’s going to be a long process, but here’s to starting now!

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