Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Finally Posting as a Free Person

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Fear is a funny thing. It has kept me from writing so often.

I fear writing my thoughts. Though they are valid and mine, I fear sharing because I fear what others will think of them. Will you approve of me? Will you hate me if we disagree?

But the truth is, my thoughts are just that, my thoughts. Random thoughts, in fact, on life and God. God cannot be separated from from my thoughts. Nor do I think they should be torn apart--it's how I think. And that's okay. My thoughts and your thoughts do not have to be the same.

My journey is different from yours. So my ways of doing life does not have to be yours. Let's not read too deeply into them, okay?

Now with that said, I welcome you here. Jump in and let's journey together. I want to hear you. So feel free to interact. Just enter into the conversation. It will be fun. I miss the blogging days of old when we actually had a community through our comments. But then the world of Facebook kinda ruined it. And at first we thought it would be even better, more intimate. But it has proven false. I think it has been easier to scroll and like. Forgetting what rich community we had.  But we got sucked in anyway.

Ok, so with that said, I'll just share what is not on Facebook. On Facebook you see my family smiling and having a super good time because I post those pics. But those are not the true reality. We have a hard time getting along, actually. It takes a lot of death to self. In fact, I couldn't even convince one child to get a picture with me and Beauty and the Beast--my all time heroes. So I almost ended up doing it myself which is awkward. But getting along takes true work. We fight for it.

We have chronic pain, adhd, brain injury, autism, anxiety and random personality quirks working together. We really annoy one another. In fact, I don't think that there is a time where there isn't some sort of fight that breaks out. Facebook doesn't depict this. Instead it shows our perfect fake life.

I get weary of it more than not--doing family life. I want to throw in the towel. Yet, God is the one who set the example of dying to self, even to the point of death on a cross. So could it be that my family is the best possible family for me because it has that effect every day? Do the pictures depict that? Nope. Not one bit. But here is the truth. And if you are honest, your family is not perfect either. You probably struggle just as I do but guess what,  we have hope in Christ. That in doing life together, we will be forced to look to Him, even in desperation, and as we behold Him we are told we are transformed more into His image! How amazing is that?

So I'm really sorry if you have the perfect family, one that doesn't push you to the point of desperation and an outcry to Christ. If this is you, you are just on a completely different journey than mine and it doesn't make you better or worst. I just don't understand your life. So don't run, share. I can learn from you as well. And I'm guessing if you are here reading and thinking about how you cannot relate to me then you are a person with a glass half full kind of personality. And that's cool. Again, I just don't understand you. But I'm willing to learn. Either way I'm thankful for what I have. Are you? I hope so because God says living in thankfulness is part of the answer of living in good mental health. And boy do I need help there! :)

Maybe you do too. So stick around, comment, join in the journey. Let's do life together. And consider how we can encourage one another. Because that's as honest as it can get.

Yet, don't get me wrong, even though we really annoy one another as a family, we probably fiercely love one another even more deeply. Now isn't that crazy? I suppose it is because we are learning the art of repentance, forgiveness and humility. And these things are beautiful in a family. More beautiful than the "picture-perfect" life.

So stop buying into the lie of that picture perfect life. It really doesn't exist here and now. And that's okay. We are journeying home and the situations we are in are the best possible situations to teach us Christ-likeness and draw us to Christ and isn't that the most important God-given gift for this world? Isn't that great?! I think so.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Guest Post: Rebekah Hargraves and The Mommy Wars

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I am honored to feature a guest post by my friend, Rebekah Hargraves. She is a woman who exudes Jesus to the core of her being. She is someone who daily inspires me to follow Jesus harder because of her example. She was so kind to feature me on her podcast and blog before as well so it is about time I get my act together and introduce you to her! I know you will really enjoy getting to know her. Check her out more after this post. You will not be sorry you did! I have posted links below so you can find her. Listen to her podcast, super encouraging as well. She has an inspiring book for moms that I believe will be helpful for their walks with the Lord. I posted a review here.

This post is about something that we are both passionate about. Read it and let us know your thoughts on "The Mommy Wars". Have you struggled with this? How have you responded? What is your experience?

Here is Rebekah:

Seeing Other Moms as Image Bearers of God 

(And Thereby Ending the Mommy Wars!) 


As many of us have become all too familiar with, the mommy wars have infiltrated the church and begun to wreak havoc in countless ways, not the least of which being how we view our fellow mamas. Backbiting, name-calling, heated disagreements, unsolicited advice, know-it-all attitudes, and (at the very least!) a practice of inwardly looking down our noses at each other in judgmental ways have all become commonplace at times, even in the church. I've had friends leave churches because of these issues, mamas be told they aren't Christians as a result of their specific parenting choices, and seen friendships be stunted as a result. It's ridiculous, and it needs to stop. But what is the answer? How do we stop basing our opinion of what a "good" mom is on our own xyz expectations of what a mom should and should not do? The answer lies in the "Book of Beginnings" itself, Genesis.

 Made in the Image of God 


 Genesis 1:26, 27 makes it clear in no uncertain terms that God chose to, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; .... So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." This identity of being an image bearer of God extends to all people everywhere - regardless of background, age, ethnicity, belief system, lifestyle, personality, practice, or gender. All men and all women are image bearers of God. What this means then, is that they are worthy of respect and honor precisely because they have been made in His image. You don't have to agree with them, you don't have to approve of their lifestyle, you don't have to pattern your parenting choices after theirs, but you do have to honor and respect them. This is a non-negotiable practice for the child of God.

 What Should This Look Like? 


 In light of this true identity of everyone as being made in the image of God, how are we to treat one another then? How should we be treating our fellow mamas? Here are a few passages to get us started:

"Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another;" ~Romans 12:10

 "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others." ~Philippians 2:3-4

 "But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth." ~Colossians 3:8

 "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." ~Ephesians 4:1-3

 "But if you have bitter envy and self-seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there." ~James 3:14-16

 "Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another." ~Galatians 5:26

 This is what a Christian mama should look like; this is how she should act. And this is precisely why the blight that is the mommy wars has no place whatsoever in the church.


 Why is This Christ-Like Behavior So Important? 


 Why is it such a serious thing that the mommy wars have entered into even the church? Why is that something worth addressing in our day? Precisely because of how much this mommy-warring tarnishes our Christian witness, reflects poorly on the Lord and His work in our lives, and leads to others not seeing the point in following the Lord if professing Christians treat each other just as poorly as everyone else does. There is much at stake here, mamas - much that is of far more importance than whether or not other mamas breastfeed, sleep train, homeschool, or vaccinate.

 The Word says that what is at stake here is our ambassadorship of Christ and whether or not we are having and then reflecting the same mind that Christ had (see the rest of Philippians 2), whether or not we will reveal with our lives the way in which we are putting on the new man and living like Christ in us (see the rest of Colossians 3), whether or not we will preach the truth with our lives that "There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Ephesians 4:4-6). What is at stake is our ability to testify to the redeeming, sanctifying work of God in our hearts, for Christ said in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

 Look to Christ! 


 Sometimes it feels so hard to treat others the way we would want to be treated, especially when we really disagree with the choices they are making. But the truth of the matter is that our calling as children of God is to treat fellow image bearers (that's everyone!) with the kind of respect, honor, love, and kindness that being made in God's image deserves. If you feel like you couldn't possibly love the fellow mama at your co-op, church, MOPS group, etc., then it is of utmost importance that you don't fix your eyes on that mama, but rather on Christ Himself. Be ever mindful of what Christ did for you and how He treated you when you were far less than lovable. Remember how He poured out His life for you when you were still in your trespasses and sins. Ponder on all you have been forgiven of. That is the key. In order to esteem others more highly than you do yourself, in order to stop the mommy wars mentality that resides in your heart, you are going to have to keep your eyes on Christ and love others through the love, hope, and strength you have been given by Him. There is hope, mama! Look to Christ, and be encouraged by all He will do in and through you.



~~~ Bio: Rebekah Hargraves is a wife, mama of two littles, blogger, podcaster, and author whose passion is to edify, equip, and encourage women in their journey of Biblical womanhood, particularly with an emphasis on the gospel and its implications for everyday life. Rebekah's first book, "Lies Moms Believe (And How the Gospel Refutes Them)" released last fall, and the "Lies Moms Believe" Companion Bible Study comes out March 30, 2018. You can find Rebekah on her website, Hargraves Home and Hearth, on Instagram, or on iTunes via her podcast.

Instagram: @rebekahhargraves
Facebook: Hargraves Home and Hearth 
Website: Hargraves Home and Hearth
                                     Twitter: @hhomeandhearth 
 
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