Time is Marching On

Last night as I tucked the kids into their beds, the fast march of time was evident before my eyes. “Baby” Meg just turned two and moved out of her crib and into the toddler bed. Her earnest nighttime plea of “[w]rock me” won’t last much longer.

Will looked so grown-up tucked into his new big-boy bed that I nearly wanted to cry and my little Rosebud isn’t so little anymore.

Looking out the window into the garden, the tomatoes that seemed they would never grow are now taller than me (and way too tall for their trellis).

Time won’t just won’t pause.

The little calves are growing too fast! (Anyone else’s kids think Cow Appreciation Day is the best?) 

Next week Rose starts first grade— eek! She’ll be going to a classical school two days. I’ll help teach her class and homeschool her and Will the rest of the week.

Hopefully school gets in a good rhythm before we welcome our new little one into the family.

With the added responsibilities school and a baby will bring, I have been contemplating what to do with this little blog. I thought about taking a really extended break or abandoning the blog all together, but during the past few weeks of not writing, the restless urge to write has convinced me that the Feminine Adventures blog is not ready to be abandoned.

I’m hoping to at least have time to write twice a week, but if not, I haven’t forgotten you faithful readers. I’m just busy teaching Rose about a plant’s life cycle or training a precious, but mischievous, little two-year-old.

The Surprises of Marriage

“What’s for dinner, darling?” Joshua asked a few months after we got married.

“Well,” I answered, “I was going to make lasagna but we don’t have any lettuce.”

He looked at me puzzled. “What do you need lettuce for?”

“For salad,” I answered, surprised at his puzzled expression. “We can’t have lasagna without salad!”

In the twenty-one years leading up to that day, I don’t recall ever having lasagna without salad. They go together so well and the thought of eating one without the other was like trying to imagine a PB&J without the jelly. Apparently, lasagna and salad are not generally considered as inseparable as peanut butter and jelly and we had a good laugh about it.

Marriage is full of surprises ranging from comical to devastating. Each surprise has lessons to teach.

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“How did you transition between singleness and marriage? Was it difficult? Were there some things about marriage that surprised you?” These were the questions that prompted this post.

Joshua and I had a wonderful courtship (read our story here) that helped make the transition from single life to married surprisingly easy.

Still marriage, like life, is full of surprises. Surprises about your husband, about yourself, and about the road you are now traveling together.

Many of the surprises were humorous ones that arise whenever two backgrounds or cultures meld into one: like learning that you can eat lasagna without salad.

Some of the surprises weren’t so funny.

We got pregnant less than a month after our wedding, and though thrilled about the pregnancy, my hormones had never been on a more exhausting roller-coaster. I probably cried more those first three months of pregnancy than I had in my entire life up to that point… and generally didn’t have the faintest rational reason for the tears.

Joshua was so patient and loving, but I’m sure he occasionally wondered what on earth he’d gotten himself into. I was alarmed at myself and worried that I might never again make it through an entire day without randomly bursting into tears. (Don’t worry, I have.)

Marriage is a new adventure in the journey of life. Surprises are part of any good adventure and help us learn and grow to become more Christ-like, if we let them.

In another twenty or thirty years I might be ready to start giving solid marriage advice, but looking back on the almost seven years of marriage we’ve enjoyed so far, there are a few lessons I’ve learned (or am learning) from the surprises of marriage.

Marriage brings many surprises. Many of them funny, some not so funny. But each surprise has a lesson to teach us.

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Lessons learned from the surprises of marriage

  • If you wait for your very first kiss until your wedding day, with an audience of over five hundred, and it isn’t all you’d dreamed, don’t despair. Your second kiss will be much better and your second thousandth kiss even better.
  • Be honest. Honesty requires vulnerability. Sometimes it’s much easier to say “Oh, nothing’s the matter” than to choose honesty. Choose honesty anyway. (Something I’m still working on!)
  • Honesty is great, but it’s possible to be honest and rude or whiny at the same time. That isn’t so great. Temper honesty with respectfulness and humility.
  • Rejoice in your differences. God uses our differences to help us grow.

But if there were only one thing I could encourage young brides, it would be this: make sure your expectations and trust are grounded first in Christ, not your husband.

Joshua is faithful, thoughtful, smart, and one who beautifully lives out Christ’s love toward me. I am incredibly grateful that I get to be his wife. But Joshua, like all men, is still human. So is your husband.

Our ultimate hope and trust and fulfillment don’t belong on the shoulders of a man. They belong at the foot of the cross.

Are you married? What are some lessons you’ve learned from the surprises along the way? 

The Worst Thing That Could Happen

Deciding to paint your kiddos’ small bedroom with three little helpers hovering around you may not be the most brilliant of ideas.

But, I had to do something to keep my mind off of the fact that Joshua was out of town. Painting seemed like the perfect thing. (Plus, it was at the top of my “nesting” list.) My wonderful mom and sisters came over and helped paint our bedroom and after they left I started the kids’ room.

“Helping” is SO much fun! 

Rose and Will begged to be able to “help” so I told them once I’d finished edging, they could have a turn rolling. After waiting eagerly for me to finish, they squeezed past the beds and dresser we’d crammed into the middle of the room, with Meg toddling in right behind them.

Will took a turn rolling on paint, and while I turned my back for a few moments, he refilled the roller all by himself. Paint oozed from the wall and, of course, Meg managed to get her fingers painted. I handed the roller to Rose and ran Meg to the bathroom sink.

I was in the middle of hurriedly washing turquoise paint off her fingers when I heard a plaintive call for help.

Immediately, worst case scenarios flooded my mind.

Paint running down the dresser and into all their clothes? Ruined carpet? A paint-covered child?

But the next instant another thought came to me. What really is the worst thing that could happen? 

The worst thing that could happen would be me losing my tempter.

Rose’s “oh no!” face. [The sky blue in the background was one of many failed tries to get the color right.]

Sure, any of those paint scenarios would be a mini-catastrophe in my eyes, but God cares a whole lot more about my attitude than whether the paint job is perfect or my six-year-old spilled paint on the floor. My heart is even more important to Him than whether I chose the right shade of turquoise (a matter of such importance that it required four trips to Lowe’s.)

The last couple weeks have been trying. Joshua’s been working really long hours, had a horrible root canal, and then had to leave town for a week. I’ve been dealing with way more emotional meltdowns than normal and by 7:00 p.m. (when we were in the midst of painting) my patience was about as thin as parchment paper.

Thankfully, the paint catastrophe amounted to little more than a bit of paint dripped on the plastic drop cloth. The reminder was such a good one though.

So often (especially at the end of a busy day) I fail to look at life from an eternal perspective and sin in anger over things that seem terrible in the moment, but in the grand scheme of things aren’t that big a deal at all. 

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking RedeemedGrace Simplicity, & Proverbs 31

My Life Is Not About My Happiness

Life is not fair.

The Bible is full of hard commands. Things like “submit” and “rejoice always” (like, even when your baby refuses to go to sleep at 3:00 a.m.)

Sometimes Often I’d much rather sulk and hold a pity party than rejoice.

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A dear friend, who was going through marital difficulties, once told me, “marriage is not for happiness, it’s for holiness.

Ideally, marriage should be bursting with happiness since it is a glorious picture of Christ and His church. (I am very blessed to be in a marriage that is wonderfully happy!)

However, her words have stuck with me because they carry a truth that is so foreign in modern America: happiness is not a right.

God did not put us on this earth so that we could do whatever we wanted to please ourselves. No matter how loudly my selfish nature screams the contrary, my life is ultimately not about my happiness.

There is an even greater good than happiness, holiness.

Often times, God says “no” to our earnest prayers because He is more concerned about our holiness than we are and because He wants us to find our happiness in Him, not all the things we think we need to be happy.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking Redeemed, Our Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31

Motherhood When You Don’t Have the Answers

Motherhood is one of the most wonderful, but challenging, journeys it’s possible for a woman to undertake.

Stacks of parenting books and years of babysitting experience cannot adequately prepare you for every challenge that will arise as you seek to raise your children in the “fear and nurture of the LORD.”

Raising our children in God’s fear requires God’s wisdom. Thankfully, He gives His wisdom liberally to those ask.

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My lack of answers was driven home to me early in my journey of motherhood. Most vivid in my mind is our “Yes ma’am” battle.

Joshua and I decided we really liked how respectful [many of the] children in the South are and their quick and cheerful “Yes ma’am” or “No sir”. We wanted Rose, then three, to start saying it too.

For some reason I can’t figure out, it became a battle. A huge battle. We’d be enjoying a lovely morning together when I’d ask her to say “Yes ma’am” and suddenly her whole mood changed. I tried everything I could think of. I read parenting books and asked our moms for advice. Nothing worked. After weeks (maybe it was just days, but it sure felt like weeks) of this losing battle, I was desperate

I asked God for wisdom.

Before even getting up from my knees, the solution was clear.

Rose and I sat down and talked about authority. We talked about how she and Will are under our authority, I am under Joshua’s, we’re all under civil and ecclesiastical authority and most especially under God’s authority. I explained that even though Joshua and I are grown and no longer have to obey our parents we still seek to respect them and ask them for advice.

It’s still amazing to me, but from that moment, her attitude completely changed. She said “Yes ma’am!” with a smile and a kiss. I no longer dreaded asking her to do something.

Many times since then a motherhood challenge has left me stumped and desperate (and my oldest is only pushing six!) Many times I’ve been forced to my knees. God has never failed yet.

James 1:5 promises, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”

It’s a promise I’ve claimed many times since entering this wonderful journey of motherhood and one I’m sure I’ll need to rely on many times more.

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking RedeemedOur Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31

Personality Tests and Growing in Christ

Last summer, as I pulled into the driveway of yet another potential house (with the burden of finding a home resting on my not-so-broad shoulders) I had this stream-of-consciousness “discussion” with God.

“God, I really just don’t know if I like this or not. I mean, this house hunting is kind of a fun adventure, but I really think I prefer the quiet pace of normal life a lot better. And really, I’d much prefer to have Joshua here and, You know, just be his chief advisor. This just seems a bit too adventurous for me, don’t You think? I just can’t figure out if I’m the kind of person that likes this kind of thing or not.”

[Feel free to laugh]

In the middle of this stream-of-consciousness rambleGod quieted my silly heart with the truth that it doesn’t really matter if I’m “the kind of person” that likes this kind of adventure.

If this is the adventure that lies in my path, then I need to ask God’s grace to face it wisely, with joy, whether or not it jives with my personality.

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Personality tests are incredibly popular these days and come in every shape and color.

Personality tests are used in hiring and recruiting. They are used for academic research. On an individual level, some people use them for determining careers, shaping identity, and even choosing a spouse.

Learning about different personalities is a fascinating way to understand your husband, children, friends and yourself better. Personality tests are a wonderful tool, as long as we’re careful not to let them control us.

If you get too caught up in defining personalities, it’s easy to try to cram yourself (or someone else) into a box. It is easy to shrug off sin because “well, that’s just the way I am.” It is easy to put a stamp of approval on certain personalities and look down on others. It is easy to whine and complain because “I’m not like ____.”

And that’s just plain wrong.

Personality is a good thing. The good and lovely parts of the many varying personalities are reflections of the ultimate Person: Christ.

But our goal shouldn’t be to become more Type A or Type B, more sanguine or more choleric, or more like the “hand” or the “mouth.” Our goal should be to become more like Jesus and to “attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” (Eph. 4:13)

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking Redeemed, Our Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31

Seasons of Survival

Sometimes daily life has such a beautiful steady rhythm to it. Getting up early is almost easy. There is time to read the Bible, exercise, and get dressed before the kids wake up.

There is energy to cover the basics of child-training and homeschooling and then explore the world together. After all the normal housework is done, there is time to pursue goals and cross things of the to-do list.

It’s a season of bounty and blessing.

Sometimes life sails along smoothly. Other times it seems that survival is barely possible. If you're struggling through seasons of survival, take courage. God has grace for these seasons too.

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Then something happens.

Maybe it’s a protracted sickness, or job loss, or tragedy, or maybe even the blessing of welcoming a new child into your home.

Suddenly, you enter a season of survival. Just getting the basics done becomes a struggle and the to-do list sits untouched for weeks.

Follow me over to Little Natural Cottage to read the rest. 

Finding Time for the Bible as a Busy Mama

Imagine you crept silently down the stairs to enjoy a few minutes of quiet time alone before the hubbub of the day starts. But instead, you just managed to wake up the baby an hour too early, and within moments everyone is awake, hungry, and a bit grouchy.

Most of us don’t have to imagine too hard. If you’re a mom, this scenario has likely happened to you multiple times.

And that’s just one of the obstacles to finding time for the Bible as a busy young mom. Add to that exhaustion from baby waking up multiple times in the night and the delightful chaos of life with multiple little ones, and finding time for the Bible is so much harder than it used to be.

As I’ve struggled with how to find time for the Bible as a busy mom, here are four things that have helped me.

Ever feel like now that you're a Mom, you just don't have time to read the Bible (but probably need it more than ever?) Here are four simple ways to find time for the Bible, even as a busy mom.

God gave His Word to us as a gift, but nowhere does He tell us we have to read three chapters (before breakfast) in order to be good Christians! Reading the Bible should be a source of joy, not just a way to avoid misplaced guilt. 

How to find time for the Bible as a busy mom

Read the Bible with your children

Recently we did a ladies’ book study at church. I loved the book, but at one point the author said it doesn’t take that long to read ten chapters of the Bible each morning, so we should just get up a little earlier and give it a try. She was just trying to encourage us to become women of the Word, but I think all the young moms in the room instantly felt more tired than they already were.

The next week a dear mother of three young children confessed, “I tried. I got up extra early for two days. I was exhausted. I struggled being patient all day and could hardly remember what I’d read. Then I decided to just read the Bible to the children while we ate breakfast. They loved it and I got so much more from what I’d read.”

Her idea was simply brilliant. We have began following her suggestion the next morning, and it’s been such a joy to all of us!

The children just love having me read the Bible to them and regularly beg me to read more (a hard request to deny!) I have been so blessed to see the Scriptures afresh through their childlike questions and wonder. (Thanks Cybelle!) 

Memorize passages of the Bible

Once you’ve memorized a verse or chapter, you can recall it when you’re washing dishes, taking a shower, or falling asleep.

My mother gave me a wonderful gift: dozens and dozens of verses and whole psalms instilled in my memory. It’s a gift I hope to pass on to my own children.

Even busy Mamas can find time to learn new Scriptures. An easy way is to write out the verse or passage and paste it somewhere you are often. Mine is above the kitchen sink. Read through the passage regularly (preferably out loud) and go over a single phrase or verse until you have it down. Keep reviewing it until you can remember it easily.

Scripture memorization is also a wonderful thing to do with your children. Their young minds soak up things like a sponge! (Scripture memorization is part of our homeschool days.)

Listen to the Bible

Have you ever thought about the fact that most Christians in history didn’t read the Bible, they listened to it? I am ever so grateful for the Reformation and the push it brought to teach children to read. I am very grateful that today most Christian families in America own multiple copies of the Bible.

The fact still remains, that for most Christians in the first millennia and a half of the Church, listening was the way they heard the Scriptures.

Listening to the Bible forces you to concentrate in different ways and, quite honestly, so much of the Bible is simply beautiful when read aloud. Plus, you can listen to a few chapters while folding laundry, exercising, ironing, or gardening.

I love Alexander Scourby’s reading (buy the MP3 version for only $11.55!), but there are dozens of free audio recordings available too.

Sing the Scriptures

“Sing to the Lord” is one of the most common commands in the whole Bible! The psalms were originally sung and songs of the saints are scattered throughout the rest of the Bible.

Singing the words of Scripture is one of the most lovely ways to make it part of our lives. Two of my favorite kid-approved sources are Jamie Soles (especially the Giants and Wanderers collection) and Steve Green’s Hide ‘Em in Your Heart albums. (Both of these are available for free on Spotify!)

Our family also loves to sing whole psalms that have been put to music. Usually the these “psalms” aren’t word for word, but the paraphrase is incredibly good and captures the heart of the original psalm amazingly well. It’s almost like singing a beautiful and concise commentary on the psalm.

We use the Cantus Christi, a combination of Psalms and hymns (you can also order an audio version that teaches twelve of the Psalms.) Other recommendations include The Book of Psalms for Singing (the most popular psalter) and  The Psalter (recommended by my friend Jacinda from Growing Home).

Do you want to take time to read your Bible, but never feel like you have time? Here are four simple ways to find time for the Bible during this busy season.

Make time for the Bible as a busy mom

Finding time for the Bible is much harder once you become a mom. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. Reading the Bible aloud to your children, memorizing it, listening to it, and singing it are simple ways to make God’s word part of our lives as busy moms.

Do you have a quiet time every morning? What other ways do you meditate on the Bible throughout the day? 

 [Full disclosure: some links to products in this post are my referral links.]

Like a Cup of Cold Water

We’ve had a rough winter sickness-wise. One sickness seemed to follow on the heels of another.

A while back, Rose came down with the flu. After the nausea passed, a fever lingered and completely wiped her out.

As I held her and snuggled with her, I began to worry. I had serious complications after Rose was born. One of the risk factors for a repeated complication is a high fever during early pregnancy.

So, I did the worst possible thing for worried pregnant emotions: I looked up the risks of getting a fever and flu in early pregnancy on the internet.

Now that I’m in a bit more reasonable state of mind, the risks don’t seem that horrible. But that morning, the horror stories and potential problems seemed to jump from the page and glare at me. 

An hour later, the flu hit me.

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As I lay on the couch barely able to summon the strength to get Meg down from her highchair, I thought I NEED help! 

My family had already been exposed to the flu so I called my mom, confident she’d be happy to come to my aid if I asked. But she was sick and my siblings were sick.

It’s not her fault for being sick, of course, but I was devastated.

In tears, I took Meg upstairs to change. The house was a mess. I had no idea what to feed the kids for lunch. They needed attention I just wasn’t strong enough to give.

“Why don’t you ask Me for help?” the thought came to me.

“Okay,” I assented. Before I even had time to whisper a prayer, the doorbell rang.

I burst into tears.

It was my “little” brother Kristian. He works just down the street and had a quick break. He had heard Rose was sick so he stopped to see if  we needed anything.

I definitely needed a hug just then. And then he went to the store and picked up a few groceries.

It didn’t really matter that he wasn’t able to stay for more than a minute since he had to get back to work. It didn’t even matter that I immediately threw up the chicken soup he bought.

The fact that he stopped by at the very moment, was like a cup of cold water to a weary traveller that’s about to faint on the way. It was just the reminder I needed that God is in control and we can commit ourselves to Him in safety.

So many times during these past weeks of sickness, the care of family and friends have shown me glimpses of the love of God in the form of a homemade dinner, a hug, a day (or two) of watching the children, an email saying “we’re praying for you”, or a ring on the doorbell just when I needed it.

God cares about the little things as well as the big. Sometimes it’s the little acts of kindness that are just the encouragement a friend needs.

“Then the King will say to those on his right,…. ‘I was thirsty and you gave me drink.’… And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” -Matthew 25:34,40

Linked up at Mama MomentsGrowing HomeEncourage One AnotherWalking Redeemed, Our Simple Country Life, & Proverbs 31