Thursday, May 31, 2012

a great prayer to pray when you are corrected by another believer (especially if you think you don't deserve it!)

O merciful God,
...teach me how to take reproofs from friends
     even though i think i do not deserve them;
use them to make me tenderly afraid of sin
     more jealous over myself
     more concerned to keep my heart and life unblamable;
cause them to help me reflect on my want of spirituality,
     to abhor myself,
     to look upon myself as unworthy,
     and to make them beneficial to my soul.
may all thy people know how little, mean, and vile i am,
     that they may see i am nothing,
                                 less than nothing,
                                 to be accounted nothing,
     so that they may pray for me aright,
     and have not the least dependence upon me.

...give me such vivacity in religion,
     that i may be able to take all reproofs from other men
                                             as from thy hands
                                             and glorify thee for them
                                             from a sense of thy beneficent love
                                             and of my need to have my pride destroyed.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


this saturday, i am running the AIDS 5K with friends from church.  this is my second year running it. looking back on last year's 5K i have 3 distinct memories to share:

not a great pic, but the only pic i have of the race last year!

1. i was 25 weeks pregnant when i ran last year.  i went to the bathroom right before we started, but inevitably i had to go to the bathroom 15 minutes into the race.  i really, really wanted to stop and go (it was all i could think about the last half of the race), there were even bathrooms along the side of the race course!  but i didn't stop, i just pushed forward to the end.  which is good, because...

2. i wasn't really keeping track of my time or placement, all i knew is that lots of people had passed me at the beginning of the race.  but when i could see the finish line, i noticed that there was a girl in reachable distance ahead of me.  so i did what tons of other people have done to me (which is where i learned this strategy!), i sprinted to pass her, just before the finish line.  and just as i was crossing, i heard "and here comes our first female finisher!", which was surprising because...

3. my time was something like 28 minutes.  by far the slowest 5K i have ever run.  my times usually are between 22-25 minutes, but i hadn't trained for the 5K (i gave up running in favor of resistance training about 2 years ago), AND i was 25 weeks pregnant.  to be fair, i must mention that it was a pretty small race.  but still surprising (and encouraging) that i did so well!

anyways, i am looking forward to the race this saturday if for nothing more than it being a challenge.  originally my goal was going to be to beat my time from last year, but i haven't been able to train because of some knee pain (God's way of humbling me because i was idolizing beating my time).  i'm sure i'll be able to finish, just probably not very fast.

last year, my goal was to raise $100, and i beat my goal by $20.  this year, my goal is to raise $500 to help end the spread of AIDS in long beach.  so far, i have raised $150, so i have $350 to go.  would you consider being a part of making that happen?  if you would like to sponsor me, go here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

"how do i change my husband?!"

you may not realize this, but on your wedding day, you actually married three men: the man you thought you were marrying, the man he actually is and the man that he is becoming, by God's grace.

every wife has a list of things she would change about her husband if she could (and same for husbands!).  often times they are just personality differences, but sometimes they are actual sin patterns or weaknesses.  when dealing with these things, we have two options: we can nag our husbands to death, or we can trust God.

the bible is pretty clear about the result of nagging:

"a wife's quarreling is a continual dripping" -proverbs 19:13

"it is better to live on the corner of the housetop that in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife" -proverbs 21:9

life experience too will tell you that nagging will only drive a wedge into your marriage and it will never fix your husband.

so if nagging isn't the answer, what does it look like to trust the Lord in this?  there are two powerful weapons we have:

pray for your husband.  when your heart is tempted to complain to or about your husband, turn your words of complaint into words of prayer for him.  in a way, its kind of fun because it is subversive.  you are going behind the enemy's back (who is tempting you to be annoyed!) and your husband's back (but in a good, loving way) tapping into the power of the most high God.  you are effecting change without anybody (but God) knowing that you are doing so.  if you are lucky you might be able to temporarily change your husbands behavior by nagging, but in prayer you can ask the Holy Spirit can change his heart, and therefore permanently change his behavior.

secondly, submit to your husband.  peter says, "likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." (1 peter 3:1-2)  the context here is believing women married to non-believing men, but i think the same thing applies to believing husbands.   submission is an active thing, we must choose on a moment by moment basis to submit (by the power that God provides through the Holy Spirit), and God can use this submission to change our husbands.

submitting will be uncomfortable at times.  you may think "this doesn't feel right.  why won't God just change my husband already?!"  He has a plan.  and the plan is good.  and keep in mind that we can submit because it is ultimately an act of faith and trust in God, and not our husbands.  "wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord." ephesians 5:22  (and make sure to read this so that you understand what a wife's submission does NOT mean)

you will be tempted to take leadership when you think you can do better.  but wait on the Lord. if it helps, remember sarah, abraham's wife.  at first, she believed the Lord's promise to bring her and abraham a son.  after years and years of waiting, she couldn't do it anymore.  she had to take things into her own hands.  what was the result?  not God's promise.  it was ishmael, who ended up fathering a nation of people (the arabs) that continues to haunt the jewish people to this day.

are you tempted to step in where you feel like your husband or God isn't leading or providing?  maybe you want him to lead you in time in the bible each day, but he isn't so you try to force such a time each evening after dinner as he rolls his eyes.  maybe he isn't bringing in enough money through his job, so you have decided to take matters into your own hands and look for work.  maybe you want him to be more involved at church, so you sign the two of you up for volunteering.

no matter the issue, remember that God can bring something from nothing, but even our best efforts will result in nothing (or will have lasting negative effects as we cause our husbands to be bitter) when we act outside of God's revealed desire for our lives.

need some encouragement?  read this beautiful story of how God changed one woman's heart from being annoyed to serving her husband, and all the joy and blessings it has brought!

[some of these thoughts were taken from this panel discussion of pastor's wives from the recent T4G conference.  a great listen, i highly recommend it!]

Friday, May 25, 2012

did God actually say...

the first temptation to sin started with four simple words:  "did God actually say..."

'IMG_3452' photo (c) 2010, James Bradley - license:

God created adam and eve and gave them just one rule.  only one; not that hard to remember!  and it just took four words from satan to begin unraveling their faith in God.  not only did he question God's word, he also twisted it.  whereas God said not to eat of the fruit of that one tree, Satan changed God's words: "did God actually say 'you shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'".

it is easy for me to read this story and laugh or be saddened by adam and eve's folly.  we might even be temped to think "if i only had one rule to follow for my whole life, i could easily do it!"

but sisters, we fall into the same lie all of the time.  we might not question God's word about eating the fruit, but we'll question it in just about every other area.  we are temped to think that we are so modern, smart and advanced that God's word doesn't apply to us anymore (chronological snobbery).  or we wonder if the scriptural writer actually meant to say it that way (some scholars will obscure God's word by saying, "well in the original greek it really means this".  funny how the original greek happens to change so easily to fit what is upheld and popular in our current culture, even if Christians have been doing it differently for thousands of years.)

often, satan adds to God's perfect and freeing law (james 1:25) so that it becomes imperfect and stifling.

here are scriptures that i am tempted to question (or are commonly questioned in our culture)

"do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal" (matthew 6:19)

satan says:  "did God actually say that you aren't even allowed to have a savings account? what if something bad happens?  maybe that worked back then, but these days you can't possibly live a secure life without health insurance, a 401K, a big savings account, life insurance, property insurance, owning your own home, a diversified portfolio, banking your baby's umbilical cord, a college savings account for your kids, a trust fund..."

"wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord" (ephesians 5:22)

satan says: "did God actually say that women are to submit to all men?  that wives should accept physical and verbal abuse from their husbands?  that women shouldn't have any ideas or thoughts of their own?  so sad that paul was such a misogynist, so unenlightened back then.  anyways, this was written so long ago, we can't know what paul actually meant by this, so don't even bother trying to follow it."

"whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery" (matthew 19:9)

satan says: "did God really say that no one should get divorced.  how quaint!  but this is the 21st century.  try hard at your marriage, but if it doesn't work out, don't feel bad, lots of people get divorced!"

"do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?  therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God."  (james 4:4)

satan says "did God really say that living in the world will make you an enemy of God?  surely not.  a little internet time, a little bit of "the today show", a little bit more food than you need at dinner, a little time flipping through that magazine, a little bit of staring at that hot guy without a shirt, a little bit of time gossiping with your neighbor (after all, you are trying to reach out to her)... they are all so little.  they won't take your eyes off of God and cause you to befriend the world."

"young women [are] to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind and submissive to their husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled" (titus 2:4-5)

satan says: "did God actually say that women are never to leave their house?  surely God wants women to do something more significant than to just love their husbands and children.  i mean, you have so many talents.  you went to college!  you are so enlighted and smart, don't waste your talents on your children.  the world needs you more than they do."

i will say it again.  God's law is perfect and freeing (james 1:25).  but satan wants to enslave and kill us (2 peter 2:19).  dig down deep, seek to know, understand, love and follow scripture and you will feel that freedom.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

two thought-provoking hunger games reviews

"why hunger games is flawed to its core" by ND Wilson:
"One final thought: never read or watch a story like a passive recipient, enjoying something in a visceral way and then retroactively trying to project deeper value or meaning onto the story you’ve already ingested. Such projections have been making authors and directors seem more intelligent than they are for decades. As you watch, as you read, shoulder your way into the creator’s chair. Don’t take the final product for granted, analyze the creator’s choices and cheerfully push them in new and different directions. As we do this, the clarity of our criticism will grow immensely. Which is to say, we’ll be suckered far less often than we currently are. Lastly, Suzanne Collins can really write. It’s just that we can’t really read."
i don't agree with everything wilson says, but i really like his assessment of peeta's character.  peeta really isn't all that i cracked him up to be in my post about the books.

"amusing ourselves at their deaths" by mark meynell:
What got me really fired up about the books was the surprise of how political they are. There are cultural and mythological references aplenty, and Suzanne Collins clearly draws on a wealth of dystopia writing. But it was thinking about that fact that reminded me of Neil Postman’s great opening discussion in his seminal book Amusing Ourselves To Death, weighing up the cultural merits of Aldous Huxley’s dystopian vision over against George Orwell’s. And then it struck me. Suzanne Collins’ books depict a grim future world where BOTH got it right. Fascinating.

meynell gets it right: both of these dystopian novels are true in this fictional futuristic world.  it is interesting to see how this plays out.

also, make sure to read the comments on each article (especially wilson's), there is some interesting discussion in there.

you can also read my thoughts (not so much of a review, just random thoughts)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

competitive mothering

from challies:

One of the greatest, most common, and most bloodthirsty contemporary competitions is motherhood. Yes, motherhood. It may be that motherhood has always been competitive, but the Internet in general, and social media in particular, have widened the field. You are no longer competing against only neighbors and sisters-in-law and fellow church members, but the professional moms, the ones who are reinventing motherhood. It’s always a losing battle.

read on here.  make sure to read the comments too.

[tim challies expresses EXACTLY some thoughts i have been having recently.  i really, highly recommend this article and plan to write more on this topic soon.]

Monday, May 21, 2012

are you living like an orphan?

"i will not leave you as orphans.  i will come to you."

-Jesus, in john 14:18

can you imagine something in the world more lonely than being an orphan?  i think it must be just about the scariest and most lonesome thing.

no one to care if you don't get breakfast (or lunch...  or dinner).  no one to protect you from sexual predators.  no one who will snuggle with you when you need to cry.  no one to pull a blanket over you when you shiver at night.

jesus promises that he will not leave his followers as orphans.  moreover, he will come to us (not vice versa).

that means we DO have someone who desires to provide for us and protect us.  and that is a promise more sure than anything you will ever hear.

the world does not have this promise.  but as believers, we do.  are you living like it?

Friday, May 18, 2012

motherhood as vocation

here is the last of my posts this week in honor of mothers.

this time, some thoughts of motherhood as hard work, and how seeing our work influences our children:

Thursday, May 17, 2012

motherhood as reality

in the midst of my posts about the ideals of motherhood, lets keep in mind that there is reality too:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

motherhood as raising up leaders

"I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother; neither can I conceive that, to any child, there can be one who will have such influence over the young heart as the mother who has so tenderly cared for her offspring. A man with a soul so dead as not to be moved by the sacred name of "mother" is creation's blot. Never could it be possible for any man to estimate what he owes to a godly mother. Certainly I have not the powers of speech with which to set forth my valuation of the choice blessing which the Lord bestowed on me in making me the son of one who prayed for me, and prayed with me. How can I ever forget her tearful eye when she warned me to escape from the wrath to come? I thought her lips right eloquent; others might not think so, but they certainly were eloquent to me. How can I ever forget when she bowed her knee, and with her arms about my neck, prayed, "Oh, that my son might live before Thee!" Nor can her frown be effaced from my memory—that solemn, loving frown, when she rebuked my budding iniquities; and her smiles have never faded from my recollections— the beaming of her countenance when she rejoiced to see some good thing in me towards the Lord God of Israel."
~Charles Spurgeon, as quoted in Charles Haddon Spurgeon Autobiography: The Early Years 1834-1860 Volume 1

(HT: girltalk)

as a mother, you may be investing your time into a future C.H. Spurgeon, John the Baptizer, John Piper, Charles Wesley, or Timothy, all Christian leaders who had godly, influential mothers. these women may not be remembered as much as their children, but their influence has impacted history.

that's a heavy responsibility!  which is why motherhood is worth your full time and energy.

Monday, May 14, 2012

motherhood as shaping culture

"Who can measure the long-term effects of nurturing helpless infants, supervising wandering toddlers, discipling self-willed children, and counseling self-absorbed adolescents? Of family outings planned, traditions built, memories made, books read, songs sung, Scripture taught? That’s why motherhood belongs under the heading, 'Engage the World'; no one shapes generations or fashions cultures more than mothers."
~ Jeff Purswell, Worldliness, (edited by C.J. Mahaney, p. 159).

(HT: girltalk)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

motherhood as gigantic

"How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the rule of three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No. A woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

- G.K Chesterton

this is one of my all time favorite quotes about motherhood.  in the midst of runny noses, dirty diapers and endless bickering between siblings, it is easy to lose sight of the magnitude and potential for impact of this job.  mothers, keep your eyes on eternity, and know that the day to day is not in vain!

thanks to passionate homemaking for reminding me about this quote.

Friday, May 11, 2012

time's obnoxious cover

oh, time magazine.

by now you have probably seen time's cover for next week's magazine.  clearly, meant to sell magazines more than inform (but, this is time magazine we are talking about.  not quite the epitome of intellectually stimulating writing). i have yet to read the article (its not out yet) but i am sad that the cover emphasizes the polarizing "extremes" of attachment parenting, a parenting style which has many good tenants.

five random thoughts:

1. the cover photographer chose to have the boy stand up to visually emphasize that extended breast feeding is unusual (source).  i liked the photo a little more after i read that, because she is trying to communicate something through the medium of the picture (not a commentary that it SHOULD be unusual, more that it IS unusual here in the US).

2.  people are going to be upset about this picture (once again, time's strategy, i'm sure).  however, lots of magazines have pictures of women that are way more revealing than this picture, but they aren't controversial.  why?  because the women are in sexually provocative poses, which is more acceptable in our culture than a loving exchange because a mother and a child (although this particular photo is kinda stiff and awkward, not very tender and loving).  people will rant for days about how this picture is scarring their children for life, but wont hesitate to walk by victoria's secret in the mall.

3.  the boy in the photo is 3 years old, which is younger than the world wide average age for a child to be weaned, which is four years old.  except that ISN'T the actual worldwide average (even though that is the statistic i constantly hear repeated). looking at this chart from UNICEF, it looks like the average age is closer to two.  whoops.  i guess that is one of those things everyone just keeps repeating until they think its a fact, but it really isn't a fact.  i'm not saying everyone should stop right at two years old since that is the world average, i'm just saying four isn't the world average, so lets stop repeating something that isn't true, since it will only make us breast feeding proponents look ignorant.

4. "are you mom enough?" once again, an obnoxious title, meant to sell lots of magazines more than anything.  the title condemns women who don't subscribe to attachment parenting, as if they are too weak to be a good mother.  they are creating a false dichotomy of good and bad mothers based on parenting styles.  their intention is to sell magazines, but will doubtless cause many to feel unnecessarily condemned.

5. many women choose not to breast feed, despite its many benefits, because they are embarrassed to do it in public.  this cover only makes that kind of stigma worse.

i went to barnes & noble last night with the hope of reading the article, but its not out yet.  i will write more thoughts when i read the article, which i hope is more fact-based and less emotion-driven than the cover.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

a month of gluten-free, diary free eating

a couple months ago, esther developed some dry skin on her back.  at first i figured it was just normal dry skin, which is a symptom of hypothyroidism, but at her 6 month appointment, her pediatrician told me it is actually eczema.  since i have read up on eczema in the past and i know that it is often caused by allergies, i asked if i should try an elimination diet (as some of these allergens may be passing through to my breastmilk).  her ped said that i should, and recommended starting with cutting gluten and dairy.

'bread n cheese' photo (c) 2006, Erich Ferdinand - license:
now, if you know anything about gluten (which is in wheat and some other grains) and dairy, you know that almost every food in the typical american diet contains one or both of these ingredients.  fortunately, i follow the blogs of several mothers of children with these allergies, so i knew that i would be able to find recipes pretty easily.  over all, i dont really feel like i am missing out on anything, the only thing i really miss is butter (i love healthy, delicious butter!).  and sometimes i miss cheese.

fortunately, it hasn't been hard making lunches and dinners.  most of my meals have consisted of rice, beans, meat and veggies.  this means lots of mexican and asian dishes, which i really enjoy.  and sometimes i just throw random things in a pan, heat it up and eat it- anything tastes fine if you put hot sauce on it :)

but where i have struggled is finding good breakfast and snack foods.  if our chickens were producing yet, i'd probably be having lots of eggs for breakfast.  but they aren't, so i have been eating lots of oatmeal.  but oatmeal gets a little boring after days and days in a row, so i sought out some other options.  my other limitation is that i'm not too eager to jump in and buy a bunch of strange gluten free flours and stuff, so i've been looking for recipes that call for things that i already have on hand.

in the past couple weeks, i have managed to put together a small list of recipes that fill my snacky/desserty/breakfasty cravings, without too many weird ingredients (well, at least no weird ingredients that i dont already have on hand :P ).  here is a list of some of these recipes, in case you too are having to be GFDF for a time:

grain-free coffee cake- i made this with coconut oil instead of butter (so that it was dairy free), and arrowroot starch instead of almond flour.  also, i didn't have pecans or any kind of nuts on hand, so i used flaxseed meal, which turned out better than i expected, though i bet pecans would have been much tastier.  oh yeah, and coconut milk instead of almond milk.  and i doubled the cinnamon, because cinnamon is just awesome like that.  so i guess i changed it pretty significantly, but it still turned out great. :)

grain-free banana muffins - i subbed arrowroot starch for the almond flour (but i used the full amount of almond butter).

black bean brownies - sounds weird but they are delish!  i have always made these many times with black beans, but next time i want to try pinto beans, as i think it would improve the texture a lot.

silky smooth bean fudge - this is sooooo delish.  i definitely recommend using pinto beans over black beans... no annoying little pieces of skin in it, and over all a much softer texture.  i recommend serving it with strawberries and dairy-free whipped cream on top.

1 minute whole food chocolate pudding - no instant pudding mix or even heating needed, just make this pudding in your blender in about a minute!  i used coconut milk instead of dairy milk.

another quick and easy whole food chocolate pudding -  this time with avocados as the base- they make it super creamy!  this one also requires no heating, and can also be whipped up in less than a minute.

i have also been enjoying bananas with peanut butter, smoothies (using coconut milk instead of kefir), and chocolate-banana shakes (1 1/2 frozen bananas, 1 T cocoa powder, 3/4 c coconut milk, blended for 1 minute).

as a side note, several people have remarked to me "oh you aren't eating gluten and diary, it must be nice to be eating so healthy!".  this is certainly not (necessarily) true.  in fact, i think that many people jump too quickly to a diet like this assuming that it will be healthy, and continue on it even if they dont see any positive changes.  sometimes we just like to make up a lot of health rules and restrictions and follow them, just so that we feel good about ourselves.

gluten and diary aren't inherently evil foods, they are just bad if you are reacting to them (as esther is).  there are many healthy ways to consume bread and baked goods, especially if they are homemade. dairy, too is a healthy food in my book, especially if the cows are grass-fed, and especially if the milk is raw.  also, if you cut something out of your diet, there are plenty of unhealthy things you can fill it back up with.  stores these days have shelves full of processed foods labeled "gluten free" or "dairy free" but are still full of GMO's, artificial food colorings, preservatives, etc.

anyways, i'll get off my soap box.

and, if you are wondering, esther's eczema has greatly improved, though it is still faintly there.  i will continue to be GFDF for a while, but i will eventually start eating some of those things again (and we'll monitor for reactions, in hopes of narrowing down what her specific sensitivity is).  once she starts solids, we'll hold off on giving her any gluten or dairy for a while.

are you or have you ever been gluten free and dairy free?  how have you coped with this?  what are some of your favorite recipes?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

passionate, joyful homemaking: the myth of the stressed out, busy mom

[if you haven't read other posts in this series, start here]

of the following words, which do you most typically associate with moms?

stressed out
sleep deprived

my guess is that you would choose more of the words like "stressed" and "sleep-deprived" (especially moms of little ones!).  movies and TV shows also back up this stereotype, and research also shows that moms are often over-worked and lacking in adequate sleep.

to be sure, being a mom is not easy, no matter how many children you have, what their ages are, or what your family situation is like.  in fact, God created motherhood for sanctification, for the purpose of growing us and making us more like Himself, which he does though this challenging role.

but the busier we are, the harder it is to keep jesus the main thing. i can tell you without a doubt that the more stretched and stressed that i am, the harder it is to pray, meditate on God's word, and live with the Holy Spirit empowering me (rather than depending on my flesh).

the sad thing is that God's enemy loves to keep us nice and busy, so that our eyes stay off of jesus and are fixed on the present moment, the present crisis.  and that isn't hard these days in our busy culture, where busy and stressed out is the norm and expected.  often times, when i'm in an un-busy stage of life, i feel like i'm doing something wrong, rather than rejoicing in the peace.

one of the reasons that i am cautionary about vocation outside of the home for mothers is because it adds another burden to an already full plate, not only taking a mother's time away from her children, but also sapping her energy during the best hours of her day.  when she gets home, she often has too little time and energy to love her husband and children as the bible commands, let alone having a mind peaceful enough to focus on God.

as we looked at previously, there are several other things besides a career that can keep a mother too busy to focus on jesus and her family: ministry, the internet, hobbies and children's activities can all take away from the main thing.

the less busyness there is in your life, the more you can focus on quantity (not quality) time with your family:

i find that this concept is also true of my relationship with jesus:  i can't plan the moments when i really feel close and connected with him... i just keep reading the bible and praying, and unexpectedly he will bless me with a big truth or a loving reassurance from his word.

do you notice a difference in your relationship with jesus when you are busy versus when you are not busy?  do you notice a difference in your ability to serve your family when you are busy versus not busy?

Sunday, May 6, 2012

idols of motherhood

"a good thing, when it becomes a god-thing is a bad thing."  -mark driscoll

"man's heart is a perpetual factory of idols" -john calvin

"[the idol maker] cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. he plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. then it becomes fuel for a man. he takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. half of it he burns in the fire. over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. also he warms himself and says, “aha, i am warm, i have seen the fire!” and the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. he prays to it and says, “deliver me, for you are my god!” isaiah 44:14-17

"dear children, keep away from anything that might take God’s place in your hearts." 1 john 5:21

ancient people weren't the only ones who created and worshiped idols.  and these days, idol worship is not limited to southeast asia.

'Fiery Idol' photo (c) 2008, Sudhamshu Hebbar - license:

every person on earth worships idols.  some are tangible and physical, like in the passage above from isaiah, and some are ideological.  every idol is a false savior with a false definition of righteousness, promising a false heaven.  for example, if you worship natural living, your false savior may be exercise and healthy food, and the more you exercise and eat healthfully, the more righteous you are, leading to a false heaven of a long life.

the problem is, these idols aren't real, and wont really save us.  the problem is, though we may love these idols, they wont love us back.

by contrast, jesus is a true savior who knows and loves us fully, and generously gives a true heaven and true eternal life.  as a christian, my ultimate hope and joy does not lie in anything from this earth, but it hinges on God and his generous gifts, given through his son Jesus.

i say "amen!" to the words of john calvin, because i continually see how my heart makes idols of all the things in this world.  the hard thing is that many of my idols are "good" things, so they may not initially seem all that bad.  but before long, i notice that my heart is becoming more and more attached to these things of the earth, and i realize that i have begun to worship these idols, and that they have power over me.  thankfully, when God points out these idols, i can come to him and confess them.  not only is he willing to forgive me for worshipping things besides him, but he also gives me the power to turn from these idols.

the truth is, you worship things besides jesus.  but what are those things?  here are some good questions that will help you get to the root of your idols:

what do you fear? what do you stay up at night worrying about?
what consumes your thought life during the day?
what could you not live without?
what saps your joy?
what do you get anxious about losing?
what do you work hardest at keeping control over in your life?
what is the most important thing about you that you want others to know?
what do you spend the majority of your time/money/energy on?
what makes you feel valued?  what makes you feel successful?

if you are a mom, and you are courageous enough for some heart-tuning, i would challenge you to read these articles, which may strike a chord with you, as they have me:

you do not belong to your children, you belong to christ - "We’re so wrapped up with encouraging mothers to love their children and delight in them (which we should do appropriately) that we neglect THE WOMAN’S SOUL. Ladies you have eternal souls, you belong to Jesus, not to your children. Make your lives revolve around Christ, not your children. I believe you will find that when we focus on Christ, our parenting will harmonize around him. You will be able to love and serve your children better... To the young mom, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of pursuing your relationship with Christ Jesus with passion and rigor." 

100% certified organic idolatry - "For me, there are two signs that natural living has become an idol in my life. (We can also apply these to other things that we may be idolizing.) They are: 1. When I am unable to make natural choices for my family for whatever reason, be it finances or availability or lack of skill or anything else, I am robbed of some of my joy... 2. When I see or hear of other moms choosing unnatural parenting methods, I feel like I'm slightly superior to them"

can natural living become an idol? - "Natural living can become an idol when we willingly give our emotional and financial resources to achieve it.  Natural living can become an idol when we think that it can give us significance, security, safety and fulfillment.  Natural living can become an idol when we hoard the benefits and not freely offer it to others"

Friday, May 4, 2012

new look and a facebook page

spring is in the air! and on the blog!

after 2 (3 maybe?) years of the same look, i decided it was time for an update.  i felt like dandelions were appropriate because of my eternal battles with our yard full of dandelions... its been a recent theme of my homekeeping.  a couple weeks ago, we started eating them, so they aren't all that bad.  i also read that you can make dandelion wine out of them, but that seems a bit beyond my skill level for the moment (although i dont know why i am intimidated, as i pretty regularly ferment other things, such as milk, flour, rice, fruits and vegetables.)
'Dandelion' photo (c) 2011, Madeleine Ball - license:

i am also working on the labels for all of my posts.  hopefully soon i will have all my posts organized under 5-10 broad themes, to make for easy topical searches of the site.

could you do me a favor, dear reader?  could you give me some feedback so that i can serve you best?  i would love to hear your answers to these...

what do you think about the new look?  [if you normally read this via an rss feed, please click through to see the new look and let me know what you think.]

what kind of content would you like to see here?  are there topics you would like me to expound on, or new ground to cover?

what is your favorite part about this blog and what would you change if you could?

you can respond in a comment, or on the new facebook page, or via email if you would prefer it to be private: sarah(dot)hope(dot)costa(at)gmail(dot)com.

what's this about a new facebook page, you ask? yes, my friend, theologista blog is the real deal... there is now a facebook fan page.  my hope is that it will be a community where we can discuss topics from the blog more in depth, and i can get to know all of you better.  you will also be able to ask others about the topics from the blog, so that you aren't always just hearing my point of view!  please check it out, i would love for you to be more involved here. :)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

the lost sin of envy

you know how sometimes you feel like things just aren't right, and you know its probably sin, but you just can't put a finger on it?  and then suddenly God points it out to you?  yeah, that is what this article was to me...

"It is one of those sins we talk about very little and one of those sins that has wormed its way into our culture and into the church. It may just be a lost sin, a sin we’ve forgotten about. Many of us don’t even have a clear category for it anymore. Ancient writers and theologians talked about it a lot, even suggesting that it was the second most serious and second most prevalent of all the sins, and yet today it has almost disappeared from our vocabulary or it has been confused with related sins like jealousy or covetousness. That sin is Envy.
...For the next couple of days I want to write about Envy, sharing some of what I’ve learned about it, about him. I want you to be able to know Envy when you see him because maybe, just maybe, you’ve become friends with him as well."

read on here

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

passionate, joyful homemaking: biblical motherhood

a couple posts ago, my friend melissa asked me a crucial question: how should a christian mom be spending her time?  what are the most important priorities?

i felt a little silly when she asked this because i realized my posts have been a little scattered and not organized, linear thinking like i usually try to aim for.  one of my main purposes for this series is to stand counter to our culture that upholds paid vocation higher than motherhood.  but just as the biblical commandments of what we should do are bigger and harder than what we shouldn't do, so the purposes and focuses of motherhood are bigger and more important to study than those things that can distract from these purposes (though both are necessary and good to examine).

the bible describes a mother's role in several passages.  as we have already seen, God is the one who created men and women, and their unique roles and responsibilities, as described in genesis 1-3.  when we live out the way that God created us, we become most alive and free (though we will still face difficulties and trials), which is why it is important to gain our understanding of motherhood from the bible.  there are two other passages i will highlight in hopes of clarifying this.

"young women [are] to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled." titus 2:4-5

two observations:

1. four virtues are mentioned: self-controlled, pure, submissive and kind.  two roles are mentioned (a "to do" list of sorts, if you will): loving their husbands and children and working at home.  in paul's perspective, these two things are the two roles most worth mentioning that young women should focus on.

2.  why should young women focus on these things? "that the word of God may not be reviled".  that is quite weighty.

a second passage is even more practical, for those of you who like tangible examples like i do.  it was written hundreds of years before paul's words and before jesus came, but it parallels the two roles paul mentions: loving our husbands and children, and working at home.

 "An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
and works with willing hands.
She is like the ships of the merchant;
she brings her food from afar.
She rises while it is yet night
and provides food for her household
and portions for her maidens.
She considers a field and buys it;
with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
She dresses herself with strength
and makes her arms strong.
She perceives that her merchandise is profitable.
Her lamp does not go out at night.
She puts her hands to the distaff,
and her hands hold the spindle.
She opens her hand to the poor
and reaches out her hands to the needy.
She is not afraid of snow for her household,
for all her household are clothed in scarlet.
She makes bed coverings for herself;
her clothing is fine linen and purple.
Her husband is known in the gates
when he sits among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them;
she delivers sashes to the merchant.
Strength and dignity are her clothing,
and she laughs at the time to come.
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
She looks well to the ways of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain,
but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Proverbs 31:10-30

this passage doesn't mean that a good mother must do each one of these things in exactly the way listed, but more that this is an example of one great way to live out the role God desires for mothers.

here are some examples [although not an exhaustive list!] of how she fulfills the roles of loving her family and working at home:

loving her husband and children:
she makes them warm, fashionable clothes (v. 24)
all the days of her life she does good to her husband (v. 12) [worth praying about: do you do good, not harm, to your husband every single day?]
what she does for her children cause them to rise up and call her blessed (v. 28)
she supports her husband so that he can hold a high position in the city (v. 23)

working at home:
"she looks well to the ways of her household" (v. 27)
she provides food for her household (v. 15)
she makes bed coverings (v. 22)
she gardens (v. 16)
she makes extra clothing, and sells some to local merchants (v. 24)

i will add another category of what she focuses on: she does ministry:
she provides for the poor and needy (v. 20)
she teaches others to be virtuous (v. 26) maybe other women?  maybe her children?

this biblical mama spends much of her day loving and serving her family (and secondarily, her community).  she does what needs to be done, even when its hard (like waking up super early!), willing to lay down her life for their sake.  clearly, her husband and children feel loved and served, and they even exclaim "many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all." they cant hold in their praise and appreciation.  and verse 30 sums it up well:  each aspect of her motherhood is fueled by her fear of the Lord.

we see from the dawn of creation that God made women to be puzzle pieces that complete our husbands.  he created us to come along side of them, to love and help them, using the same word "helper" that he uses to describe himself as a helper of Israel.  scripture goes on to describe this role as extending to loving our children.  the way this plays out is by being a household manager, "looking well to the ways of [our] household[s]".  and why do we do this?  that the word of God may not be reviled.

that the word of God may not be reviled.

God's word is reviled in our culture, and more heartbreaking, it is reviled by many children of christian parents.  could this be in part because mothers are rejecting their God-given role, thinking they have a better plan for their lives?

we may never know the answer to this question (until we can ask jesus, face to face), but until then it is certainly worth meditating on and prayerfully seeking God for answers so that we can be a part of pointing our husbands, children and neighbors to jesus, even "adorning the gospel of God" (c.f. titus 2:10) with our good works and godly living.