Sunday, August 30, 2015

Kade is 10 Weeks!!

Hi Kade! You turned 10 weeks old on Sunday, 8/23 …I can hardly believe it! This is all about your sweet tenth week.

Weight: You’re over 13 lbs now and we moved you to a size 2 diaper. That didn’t take long! I have a feeling you’re going to catch up to your brother quickly.

Health: We are running a few weeks late on your 2 month appointment, but everything seems to be going well. You are a very content little guy!

You do still have cradle cap. I’ve tried scrubbing it with a toothbrush and coconut oil, but it keeps coming back. I know you’ll outgrow it so it doesn’t really bother me. Especially when you’re constantly making these sweet faces that totally distract us from any cradle cap…

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You have started sucking on your hands more & they get kind of stinky because you keep them in fists. Shew!!

I think it bothers your tummy when I eat dairy so I’ve been avoiding it.

Your skin on your arms and legs stays pretty dry. I’m not sure what the culprit is- my diet? your baby wash?. I just ordered some new non-toxic baby lotion, so hopefully applying that will help.

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Other than that, you are a healthy growing boy & we are so thankful for that!!

Sleep: You slept in your crib for the first time this week. (I didn’t camp out on your floor like I did with Jase.)  I put you up there for a couple of naps during the day, and eventually at night too.

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You are still waking once during the night to eat & I have to go in your room periodically to give you your paci and do a little “shhh” & pat during naps sometimes. You wake lots of times about 45 minutes into the nap. Good ole 45 minute intruder!

We are still using the swaddle the hospital gave us (you are way too long for any swaddles we have) and the Levana movement monitor. We have an Angel Care monitor too, but it’s still set up in the pack n play. We need to move it to your room. We have a fan going for white noise and a sound machine like we used for Jase.

You definitely prefer being swaddled and snuggled up, but there have been a few times you’ve fallen asleep somewhere else. I could seriously stare at you sleeping all day.

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Nursing: Nursing is going SO much smoother this time around!! You eat every 3.5 hours or so and eat for about 10-15  minutes. I pump after your morning feeding because I am normally pretty full, and I pump again around midnight. We are going on a  trip in December so I am working to pump plenty of milk for you.

What Kade is up to: I finally got around to taking your 2 month pictures.

Your resting face looks a little grumpy (ha!), but you are seriously an angel baby. I keep telling everyone our next one will probably be wild as a buck because you and Jase both have been the easiest babies.

You are so sweet and content, and I love seeing your little personality start to shine. You have such an easy going demeanor and everyone comments on what a good baby you are. You cry if I wait too long to change or feed you (although you’re pretty patient) and if you’re overly tired. You smile pretty much every time someone talks to you. We pray you always bring this much joy to others. And those dimples- I could EAT them up!

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You are very strong and still lifting your head up very well.

PostPartum: This is so random, but when I sweat now, I stink. I have always been a sweater, but it has never really smelled. I know that’s kind of weird and gross, but I’m thinking it must be related to hormones?

I still have some loose skin around my belly and a little tummy pooch, but considering the torpedo, nothing too bad.

I feel pretty good. A little tired from chasing around a 2 year old and a 2 month old, but nothing a little Spark can’t handle.

Big Brother Jase: You two brothers…goodness gracious! Y’all MELT my heart! I have a feeling our future with you two will be pretty much summed up by these two pictures…

The torture…

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And the best of buds. (I didn’t tell Jase to hold your hand- he did that on his own. He sure does love you, ya know.)

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Thoughts: Oh my sweetness!! You are spoiling us, sweet Kade. You are PRECIOUS. I know I keep saying over and over what a sweet baby you are, but it’s just the truth. You are EXACTLY what our family needed and have been such a blessing. You bring us so much joy. It has been a little bit of a rough year, and you, my sweet boy, have been such a light to all of us. God knew that. I am so proud to be your mom.

And I love watching how much your daddy loves you. You look a lot like him too!

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James 1:17 pops in my head every time I think of you…

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fear of the Lord

 

If there is one thing I pray for more than anything, it is WISDOM. I pray for wisdom for myself as a wife, a mother, and in every {big} decision I make. (I’m working on that being more prayerful in EVERY decision- even the small ones.)  I pray for wisdom for Jonathan and for my boys. I pray we all grow in wisdom.  If someone asks me for advice, I try to remember to pray for wisdom before responding. One question we have learned to ask in as many situations/decisions as we can remember to is  “What is the wise thing to do?” or “Is this wise?” For that reason, Proverbs 9:10 is such a powerful verse to me! The FEAR of the Lord is the beginning of WISDOM. If I want to be wise (which I do), I must fear the Lord.

We hear verses like Proverbs 31:10  and assume we get it. But when you really stop to consider, do your thoughts and actions  demonstrate that you truly fear the Lord??

 

I have to be honest. I was never really taught much about what it means or looks like to fear the Lord.  It’s not a popular message for preachers to preach about, and I feel like many Christians have a watered down view of what it means to “fear the Lord.” I know that before my mentor helped me really understand it, I just thought it meant having a ‘reverence’ for Christ. (And it does mean that too, of course.)

I do remember asking specifically about this when I was a little younger because there are so many verses that mention it.

In fact, the Bible mentions the phrase “fear of the Lord” or “the fear of God” well over 100 times in the Bible.

I remember someone telling me that it doesn’t actually mean “fear” the Lord…it just means “respect” Him. (And we should. We should absolutely reverance, respect, love, and have an awe of God.)

But after studying it a bit more and really looking at some of the Scriptures, I have a slightly different opinion. It goes way beyond just “respecting God.”

Christians: Our God is FULL of grace, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness. He is a LOVING God.

However, that same God that is so merciful, compassionate, graceful, and forgiving struck people dead for disobedience. He sent plagues and a flood. and completely destroyed some cities, like Sodom and Gomorrah. The Word tells us there are ALWAYS consequences for our sin, and that he disciplines us because he loves us. The Bible is very clear that we WILL reap what we sow. Maybe in a different season, or in a different way than expected, or through our children or grandchildren, but good or bad, we will reap what we sow. Personally, it is challenging for me to truly grasp that when it comes to sin. Now when it comes to good things, I am quick to expect blessings. But when I sin, I tend to think “Oh, surely God will let that go. I didn’t mean to do anything bad, and it’s definitely not as bad as ________.” Or maybe “Well I was justified in that because __________.” There are a million other excuses and reasons I try to rationalize why my sin is okay and I shouldn’t be punished for it. I believe that mindset goes back to childhood and how our parents handled discipline. I know that I OWE it to my children to discipline them when they are disobedient, no matter how difficult it is for me, so they understand that there are always consequences to disobedience. Tying consequences to choices (again, good or bad) and helping them see that correlation is the only way to teach them reaping and sowing. Allowing them to get away with some things is the easier route for sure, and it’s definitely in my nature to “let it slide” because I don’t like disciplining (seriously, I totally get the whole “this hurts me worse than it hurts you” thing now that I am a parent). But inconsistency and “letting disobedience slide” it is not in the best interest of my children. And ultimately, I will have to stand before the Lord and take responsibility for teaching them that.

So, back to a fear of the Lord. I am so thankful our churches teach about the character of God. People need to know that His ways are higher than our ways and that he loves us with a love beyond human understanding & comprehension. We can always run back to God, no matter what we have done, and he will forgive a repentant heart with open arms. He is full of abounding grace and mercy and he will accept us just as we are. But we cannot take advantage of that. God cannot be mocked. We cannot continue on in our sin. We cannot choose to live a life apart from God and only seek him when it’s convenient for us or when we need something.  We cannot pick and choose what to follow. We cannot ignore what Scripture says and live how we want. We cannot treat God like some genie in a bottle. We cannot expect to sin and get away with it. We cannot blame God for consequences of our own disobedience. God gives us all free will, and we all CHOOSE whether to walk in darkness or light; in faithfulness or fear; in obedience or disobedience.

We should obey his commands out of LOVE for him, just as we want our children to obey us out of love. However, I think understanding why obedience is so important helps as well. God gives us boundaries for one reason: our protection. He loves us so much, that he has great plans to prosper and not harm us, to give us hope and a future. When we choose to step outside of those bounds, we lose the protection of the Lord and the JOY that comes from that. A great example that our SS teachers have used is in teaching your children to listen, respond, and obey IMMEDIATELY when you speak because it could potentially save their life. They shared the example of a missionary couple whose child darted out in a parking lot and was hit by a car and killed. He didn’t listen when his parents yelled for him to stop. And how many times do we do that? We don’t obey the Lord immediately, and put ourselves in harms way as a result.

I’m not saying we have to be perfect. Of COURSE we are going to sin and mess up- we all fall short of the glory of God. But I feel as if our society as a whole completely lacks a true “fear of the Lord.” (Obviously non-believers aren’t going to have and understanding of that, but I believe many Christians struggle with this too.) I just feel like so many of our struggles would become non-issues and would become so much smaller in our lives if we let God become BIGGER. And that type of wisdom begins with a true fear of the Lord, just as Proverbs 9:10 states.

I am not saying we should be afraid of God like he is some figure in the sky waiting to strike us dead when we mess up, and if that’s what you’re gathering, I encourage you especially to study some of the verses I am going to post below. I am just suggesting that maybe you’re like me and have never really considered what it means to fear the Lord. Do you have that in your walk? Does your life- your choices, actions, thoughts, and reactions -reflect that?? A healthy fear of the Lord would make our decisions more Christ-centered than self-centered. A healthy fear of the Lord would motivate us so continuously renew our mind. To seek the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. To pray without ceasing. To acknowledge our constant need for dependence on him alone. To desire to have an intimate personal relationship. To study His Word and hide it in our hearts. And to foster a genuine repentance from sin.

I want to encourage you to look up and study these Scriptures when you get a chance. I would write them out here, but there is power in looking them up yourself, in your own Bible, and reading them in context. There are so many others, but these are a few that stuck out to me.

  • Exodus 20:20
  • Deuteronomy 5:29. 6:1-2, 6:24
  • Joshua 4:24
  • Job 28:28
  • Psalm 125:12-14
  • Psalm 37:4
  • Proverbs 31:30
  • Psalm 52:5-7
  • Psalm 86:11
  • Psalm 128:1-4
  • Psalm 145:19-20
  • Psalm 147:11

{How the Lord provides for those who fear him: Psalm 111:10, 112:1-2, 115:11, 115:13}

Here is a great question to consider:

How would you react differently to daily challenges if you truly feared the Lord or feared his law of reaping and sowing?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Why I Blog

I really love blogging.

I have been blogging since early 2010 when Jonathan proposed. Here is my very first blog post.

The blog has evolved a good bit since then…as have my reasons behind blogging.

It has been so much fun to document our lives here & look back through the pictures & memories. Plus, I love to write. I’m not the best by any means, but this is my “place.”

I started out as “Goin to the Chapel” to document our engagement & to keep friends and family who didn’t live close in the loop. After we got married it turned into “Happily Ever After” and I shared about some of our adventures as newlyweds. It was really more of a journal at that point. When I transitioned the blog to “Butler Party of 2” I started really developing a love and passion for fitness and nutrition, so I began sharing what I was learning in all my research. I also grew tremendously in my walk with Christ during that time frame and started sharing more faith- based posts. In some ways it became almost like a ministry for me. I really enjoyed connecting with other bloggers and blog readers. But if I’m honest, I also wanted my blog to grow at that point. It felt good to see the number of followers increase, and I even monetized the blog and put ads on it (for about a week before realizing that just wasn’t my thing). When Jase was born, I shifted big time from posts about running marathons to posts about my sweet baby. (Hey marathonners- did you know that less than 1% of the entire population will ever run a marathon in their life? You are a rare breed and you are AWESOME!) I posted pregnancy updates and baby updates (which have seriously been SO helpful to look back on), and still included some goodies about faith, fitness, & nutrition. More than anything though, it became a way to document our little family’s life and I started printing all of the posts into blog books.(I use Cutest Blog on the Block when they send out coupon codes- they are so user friendly!)

Now, as we are making a transition to Butler Party of 4 soon, I blog for a totally different reason. I have almost made the blog completely private multiple times, and for multiple reasons, but then I get an e-mail from someone who is encouraged by something or found something helpful, so I decide to leave it. Plus, this blog has seriously brought so many INCREDIBLE people into my life- many who have become some really great friends. I am forever thankful for that! And I can’t tell you how uplifting and encouraging everyone was during some tough times.

However, as I’m sure you can probably tell, I’m not in it for the followers anymore. I’m not in it to please anyone. In fact, I’m quite sure lots of people have stopped reading all together (maybe because I’ve offended them, or maybe because they find it boring to read about how many times a day Kade is eating…haha!). Maybe just because I’ve grown up, but in the past I looked at blog stats. I would get upset over losing a follower. (That is embarrassing to even admit now.) I still love to journal what’s going on in our lives, and I love to share when I come across something cool. I love to share fun things my babies are up to, new recipes, and whatever else the Lord lays on my heart- usually what he is teaching ME at that time.  But here is why I blog.

Jonathan and I have experienced some tragic, unexpected losses over the last couple of years. It has been heartbreaking. We are so thankful for the Lord’s comfort and peace, but if there is anything I have learned from those losses (besides to make every day count, as cheesy as that sounds), it is to really think about my LEGACY. What will be left behind when I’m gone?? That is a huge part of what this blog is for me. That is why I blog.

If something were to happen to me, I want my boys to have this. I want them to hear their mama’s voice…to know my heart…to have access to some of my thoughts and views on different things. (Even if they aren’t popular.) Lord willing I’ll be around for many, many years to teach them and share all of this with them myself, but what if I’m not? No one is promised tomorrow, and I want them to have this piece of me.

I still have voicemails on my phone from my brother and a book Jonathan’s mom recorded for Jase so we can hear their voice. I wish we had more of them. More pictures, more things with their handwriting, just MORE of them. I would LOVE to have a journal with their thoughts & favorite memories. Wouldn’t that be a special thing to have to remember them by?

Honestly, I feel like I’m giving my boys and future children a gift with this blog and the blog books.

I know I have some people who still consistently read this little ole blog, and I felt like I owe y’all an explanation. I wanted to let y’all know the WHY behind my blogging nowadays. I wish I had more time to blog because I have more on my heart than I have time to get into posts. Life is busy with an awesome hubby and two precious boys! (Mostly the daily grind of, well, you know…dishes, laundry, changing diapers, running through the sprinkler, blowing bubbles, catching lightning bugs, building forts… that type of thing.)  So if you’ve been following along with us for awhile, thank you. If you’re new here, welcome. If you don’t like what you read, see ya later. And if you’re thinking about starting a blog, DO IT. Who cares if anyone else reads it? If you ever have a post go viral? If your blog is cute with all these fancy headers and sidebars. Just blog! (or journal, scrapbook, whatever.) There is someone who will be thankful to have that piece of you…

And now to get myself together enough to get this bad boy transitioned into Butler, Party of 4…

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Are We Accepting Society’s Norms?

A sweet friend from our Sunday School class came over a few weeks ago and she and I were talking about Christians blindly accepting so many of the world’s views and following suit. We have accepted societal norms even when they don’t line up with the Word of God. I’ve done it. (More than once, unfortunately.) And I’m ashamed to admit I still do it sometimes. I see it  often, even in well- meaning believers. We see our other Christian friends making choices and we follow in their footsteps, or base our decisions off of what we want or think is right without truly seeking the Lord. I’m trying to be more prayerful and study what the Word says rather than making decisions based on “self” or what is normal and expected. I have to KNOW the Bible in order to live by it.

So yes, this might be the most “blunt” I have ever been in a blog post, which naturally means someone will be offended. That is not my intention, but I think as women we need to get REAL about what the Bible says and stop watering it down for all this “feel good” mess. Most of these are personal convictions from what I have learned in studying the Bible. And please know that if you’re not a believer, I don’t expect you to agree with (any of all of) these. However, if you’re a Christian, I encourage you to read this and then go DIG IN THE WORD. Study it for yourself. Examine what Scripture says and pray through it. I know there will be some comments from Christians who don’t agree, and that’s totally fine. However, I do hope it challenges you to know WHY you don’t agree. It is coming from self? The church? It’s just the way you “feel”? (Hate to tell ya ladies, but our feelings can lie to us. Check out Jeremiah 17:9.) I know there are many more, but here are a few things I think have become commonplace thoughts and choices in today’s society. Some of these are the reason non-believers think many Christians are hypocrites and why the church isn’t being the light we are called to be. And the worst part? The enemy has blinded us to all of it and we are believing his lies that these things are “okay” or “not that bad.” Again, some of these are things I have done or struggled with, so I’m not over here pointing fingers. I am just trying to give some food for thought and asking you, as a woman of God, to truly consider what the Word tells us about these things.

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” Ephesians 5:15-17 (When you get a chance, read the whole book of Ephesians. It is powerful.)

*Sex before marriage. In today’s world where sexual immorality is flooding our minds from every outlet, it has become completely acceptable and even encouraged (despite what the Bible says about sex being a gift reserved only for the marriage bed). I can assure you, this sin will lead to destruction. If you get married, this is basically adultery. God designed sex to be pleasurable. Think of it as a fireplace. Don’t you enjoy a fire in a fireplace? It provides warmth…it’s nice to look at…it smells good…and you can make s’mores. (Ha!) But consider a fire outside of that fireplace. It will burn us, our possessions, and can cause turmoil. Sex is the same way. It is awesome within the bounds of marriage, but outside of it will lead to turmoil.

*Putting off having children. I know so many couples (us included, and one of my biggest regrets) who have a plan to enjoy being married and wait for a few years to have kids.”  I’m not saying it is a sin to wait, but what if that isn’t God’s plan? I just know that for many people, this choice is more about their plan than seeking the Lord for his timing. The Bible tells us that “Children are a heritage from the Lord” and “blessed is the man whose quiver is full.” I wish we hadn’t put it off and waited till “we were financially stable.” Our best years have DEFINITELY been since we have experienced the joy of having sweet babies.

*Birth control. I won’t get into all my thoughts on this either, but as a believer, I highly encourage you to look into when and how birth control entered into the U.S. and what birth control, IUDs, etc. are actually doing. The early churches and great preachers preached strongly against it because they knew the value godly offspring have in this world. Here is my encouragement to you. Research how birth control works, and pray about if you feel comfortable with that. Do not just accept that “other Christians take birth control so it must be fine.” I’ve heard all kinds of things- some women taking it for bad periods, some women like me taking it for acne, etc. t’s between you and the Lord, and no judgment, but it’s a personal conviction for me. After praying about it more, I will not take it ever again. Some research suggests that women taking birth control for an extended period of time can lead to a difficult time conceiving. And did you know that hormonal contraception is categorized on the WHO and American Cancer Society's lists as a Group 1 carcinogen? That is as high as it goes. That is the same category as cigarettes and asbestos! I took birth control for a while (I started taking it for my acne because it was my hormones causing it) and took it up until we started trying for Jase, but like I said, that is the last time. Now, for health reasons (because I had a c-section with my first baby), I needed to wait at least 18 months to get pregnant to give my body the best shot at VBAC. I did not take birth control for 18 months, and we managed to not get pregnant. There are other ways, friends. Maybe check out NFP. And on another note with that, I truly believe one of the BEST ways Christians can help bring some light into the world & positively impact others for Christ (aside from growing in our own walk to be more like Christ) is to HAVE MORE BABIES. (Or consider adoption and help other children who might not ordinarily be brought up in a God-fearing home.) We need more men and of faith who love the Lord and want to serve him. We need more strong men who are willing to lead, and more kind/loving women willing to serve. I know the words “birth control” are not found in the Bible, so study what the Word says about children.

*Going to college. Obviously college was not even an issue when the Bible was written, but God covered everything for us. This is NOT the only option, but for some reason (I have my thoughts but I won’t even get into my conspiracy theories about our government’s agenda) we are pushing everyone to pursue secondary education. Have y’all read what this is doing to our nation? The debt? The “extended adolescence”? The inability to find jobs? The entitlement mentality? This is the first generation who will not be more financially well off than their parents’ generation. (And while it’s not all about money, it is scary to consider the DEBT our nation is taking on as a whole.) Although there are several factors playing into this, it’s a scary place to be. We are destroying entrepreneurship across America. Don’t get me wrong- I enjoyed college, and I’m not anti-education by any means. I just don’t think it is for everyone. Have you considered, for example, the gap in construction? In a few years when this baby boomer generation is (hopefully) able to retire, there will be a huge gap because my generation has all gone off to school and won’t have any of those skills. Construction projects will either become CRAZY expensive, or they will all be subbed out to illegal immigrants who are willing to work for cheap labor (and won’t be paying taxes on that income). I am SUPER thankful Jonathan is highly skilled in several construction fields. Not only has it saved us a LOT of money around our own home, but he can also pass those trades on to our boys and give them a highly valued skill set that is becoming a dying trade. One last thing about pushing advanced education on everyone. We are teaching our girls that it is not okay to “just be a wife and mom” and thus diminishing the importance of that role. No wonder our society is a wreck! Plus, girls are getting married later in life so they can “experience life” or  “sow their wild oats” first. Newsflash: that immorality being promoted in the college years has consequences. The Bible is clear that you reap what you sow. Again, I’m not saying college is the devil. I have  a bachelor’s, Master’s, and Specialist’s degree, so I did all that. I just wish someone would have told me I had other options- especially with grad school and advanced education

*Debt. How have we come to accept debt as such a normal part of life? Debt is not okay. Our AdvoCare team is currently on a mission to help our teammates collectively pay off a million dollars worth of debt over the next year. In coaching people through this process, you would be AMAZED at the number of people who tell me “We don’t have any debt. Just our car and house payment.” Or “Our only debt is our mortgage.” Since when does a mortgage not count? Why do we think it is good debt? Consider this - 55% of Americans break even or spend more than they make each month. 57% are not prepared for a financial setback and the average American has $150K in mortgage debt and $45K in credit card and school loans! The Bible is clear that “the borrower is a slave to the lender.” We need to learn to pay off debt so we can give more, and the only way to do that is to live beneath our means.

*Women working outside the home. I am not saying it is a sin to work outside the home. I did for 5 years and I LOVED teaching. There have been lots of women who have and continue to positively impact society with their work. Working isn’t the issue for me. However,I feel like we need to address the opposite side of that coin. Women do not have to work outside the home to be “productive members of society.” The issue for me lies when career is placed ahead of the home and our husbands, children, and homes are getting our leftovers. When this happens, the “work” needs to be reevaluated. Women are created to be a help meet to their husband. (If you are a Christian, there is just no arguing that. Any comments against this, which is CLEARLY spelled out in the Word, further validates & confirms for me that Christians are being deceived into accepting societal norms.) I know that is not a popular concept, but that is what the Word tells us. Eve was created out of Adam’s rib to be a helper to him. Not to be independent (you see where that got us), but to be a helper and companion for Adam. Society (the enemy, especially through the Industrial Revolution and the feminist movement) has perverted the concept of submission. That’s why so many marriages are struggling and ending in divorce rather than thriving. I think you can at least agree with me that our world has NOT become a better place in the last 60 –70 years since moms have left the homes in masses to enter the work force, right? Crime rates, STDs, drug abuse, etc. have all risen at astounding rates, and I think it’s in large part because kids have too much freedom and don’t understand consequences for their actions. It surprises me when husbands would prefer their wives work. Jonathan Butler would dig ditches 24 hours a day if he had to so I could stay home. (Of course I don’t want that- it is really important to me for our boys to have as much TIME with him as possible so he can model for them how to be a godly man.)

For me, I was not able to be the help meet I needed to be when I was working outside the home. I was a busy body and always on the go. I actually prided myself on that until I realized that my home was being neglected. Yea, maybe I cooked dinner and kept it pretty clean, but I wasn’t being  a true help meet. Now let me say this. The Proverbs 31 woman is not lazy, and in fact, she does work to bring in an income. However, she makes sure she takes care of the affairs of her home first and foremost. That is our primary calling- to  be ministers IN the home. (Again, Christian ladies.. please feel free to share Scriptures that don’t back this up if you find them. But everything I have EVER read in the Bible addressing God’s design and role for women supports this.)  How can we minister to others when we aren’t even taking care of our own four walls?? That being said, I also know some women whose desire is to be home but their husbands prefer them to work. In this case, I believe she should be submissive to her husband and the  Lord will honor and bless her while she prays the Lord changes her husband’s heart. I’m still working on this one myself BIG TIME, but we are a lot more likely to win our husbands by being ‘quiet and meek’ and prayer warriors rather than whiney & demanding. There are several Scriptures to back this one up too.

*Needing 2 incomes. This goes along with the whole debt issue (which is also a Biblical issue). The reality is, most of us don’t need two incomes, but we choose to live beyond our means. We are a society with more valuables than values and more stuff than memories. It is sad. Most people believe the lie that they truly cannot survive off one income, but that’s usually because they are unwilling to recognize the sacrifices that can be made. I recently heard someone say “If you have sable or a smart phone, you don’t have  a money problem- you have a choice problem.” And that is so true! I just wanted to share this because I think so many young couples assume that you HAVE to have two incomes to survive. That is not necessarily the truth, and it’s important to seek the Lord to determine what He wants for your family (and your finances).

*Gluttony. We have a tendency to categorize sin, but I feel like as Christians we often think gluttony is (more) acceptable than some others in the “list.” I can think of some times I have majorly struggled with this one. It is not okay when health -related issues are the result of gluttony, and thus keep us from serving others the way we are called to serve. We are called to be disciplined and demonstrate self-control.We are a society that completely lacks the concept of “moderation,” and that allows other things to become idols in our life. Gluttony can lead to idolatry, although we rarely see the correlation. The reality is, the Bible describes gluttony as a sin, and there are consequences for our sins because God loves us. The Bible is not a rule book with a bunch of rules and regulations meant to keep us from enjoying life. It is meant to allow us to live a life of JOY and freedom rather than bondage.

FYI: Quick story. Someone commented and suggested that me living in a nice home is “gluttony.”  I wanted to share a quick story with you (paraphrased from The Legacy Journey) that will hopefully give some insight in to judging others’ finances in that aspect. There was a time when I looked at wealthy folks and judged them for not “giving everything to the poor.” In reality, there is a likely chance they give more (proportionally to their income, of course) than I do. For example, the story in the book was about an extremely wealthy man who drove a $150,000 car. People judged him for driving that nice of a car and said he should have been giving more money to those in need. However, that car, in proportion to his income is what most people spend on a latte. So…are you drinking lattes?? That’s some perspective, huh?  That same man was also giving MILLIONS to those in need each year, so that $150,000 was a drop in a bucket compared to what he made and gave. SO, because you have no idea how much money we make, tithe, give, etc., it is silly to make an assumption that the home God gave us (and yes, we do believe that because we fervently prayed we would end up exactly where HE wants us to live) is gluttony.  (Now, the 7-8 protein bites I ate today…ya might have me there. Ha!)

*Drinking. I am not anti-drinking and I don’t judge others for having a drink. Jonathan and I personally do not drink anymore at all, and again, that is a personal conviction for both of us. We have alcoholism in our family and we are worried that it could be a gateway for our children to struggle if they see us drinking and think it’s okay. The issue for me is that there is such a fine line with having a drink or two and becoming drunk, and the Word tells us in multiple places to not give in to drunkenness and to be sober. I have never heard anyone say “I started drinking and my life became so much better.” Have you?  I think Lori covered this topic really well in this post, and if you disagree with me on this one, I highly encourage you to check out her viewpoint: How Much Alcohol Should a Christian Drink

*Divorce. The Bible tells us that God hates divorce, but we all know the statistics. Unfortunately the church’s divorce rates are pretty close to non-believers.Satan is destroying the family unit and perverting marriage by having us believe divorce is an acceptable answer. Usually, divorce roots back to the fact that one or both spouses are unwilling to change. “You love your kids enough that you would die for them without hesitation; but do you love them enough that you’re wiling to change for them?”

*Judgment. Sometimes we are quick to judge, and I know there is nothing that turns non-believers off faster than a judgmental Christian. We don’t have to and shouldn’t accept the world’s views (hello, that’s what the whole post is about). And we have to be really careful finding the balance between loving the person but hating the sin. The only way to draw others to Christ is to LOVE them. The two greatest commandments are to Love God and Love others. In Sunday school this week we were talking about who constitutes as our neighbor, and y’all, it’s everyone. Now, that being said, I want to cover the other side of that coin. Sometimes as Christians we are so worried about being called judgmental that we become tolerant of sin. I do want to suggest that there IS a difference between judgment and discernment. As believers, we should be able to discern good vs. evil and Biblical truth vs. worldly views. The Holy Spirit gives us that discernment, and that is a good thing. Check your heart to decide if it’s your discerning spirit telling you something is going against God’s Word or if you’re being judgmental.

*Laziness. The Bible is clear about the consequences of laziness. We are called to work hard as if working for the Lord. What are we modeling for our children in this area? Would you be satisfied if your child’s work ethic mimics that of your own? I feel like the obesity epidemic goes back to laziness. Moms aren’t putting the work in to learning how to prepare healthy meals, and convenience foods aren’t cutting it nutritionally. It’s easier to put our kids in front of a video rather than chase them around the house playing with them and watch them as they play. (We watch videos too. I’m not saying they are bad, but kids are spending more time in front of electronics than they do running around.) Often times we dismiss not having a tidy home, but the reality is it leads back to us spending more time on social media than being busy inside our homes. I personally enjoy working out, but there are other types of work that keep you in shape besides going to the gym. Yard work, house work, chasing around kiddos. Not only am I referring to laziness inside the home, but even when people do go to work, many times they are just waiting for time to pass and aren’t giving their best. I am SO thankful for those that do give their best and the positive impact that has on society.

*Selfishness. We are called to honor others above ourselves. Selfishness is the root of half of society’s problems in my opinion. I know that most of the disagreements in any relationship are rooted back to selfishness. The entitlement mentality that is wreaking havoc on our economy is tied back to selfishness. We are a society taught to look out for #1 and put our own needs above anyone else’s, even though that is the exact opposite of what Jesus epitomized during his time on earth. As Christ followers, isn’t our goal to be more like Jesus? Marriage is the worst place for selfishness. I love this quote: “Being a little boy's mama means loving your husband the same way that you'd want your son to be loved." Isn’t that a great filter & perspective? Be the kind of wife you want your sons to marry. Love your husband the way you want your sons to be loved by their future wives.

*Pride. The is one that I personally struggle with, and as I see it in others, it REALLY makes me want to get a grip on it. It is AWFUL, and it is the worst being around someone who is arrogant and always thinks they are right.It’s hard for Christ to shine through with the glorification of self, and the worst part about pride is that many times the most prideful people are too proud to recognize it’s even a struggle. Pride is destructive and has ruined more marriages, churches, and relationships than we can imagine.

 

Whew. I know. I know that is intense. I know that is some “old school” views and not very popular. I know lots of people, even believers, will think this is ridiculous. But take one look at the world we live in. Do you feel like things are going well around us?? What has changed? I am all about grace and mercy, but I am not all about accepting society’s norms that blatantly go against the Word of God. And when I study the Word, these are some things that stick out to me. No, you’re not going to see “college” or “birth control” in the Bible, but God is omniscient and omnipotent, and they are covered in the Bible. You may just have to do some digging & studying & praying! I have personally  had to repent for several of these, and I realize my ignorance doesn’t make them any more okay. We have to study the Bible to know what it says, and then choose to follow it despite what the world and the modern church say. I hope you heard my heart and that I didn’t offend you, but if you were offended, maybe consider WHY. I wish someone had shared some of these truths with me (in love) when I was younger. This post was not meant to be condemning, but rather thought provoking and challenging. I hope it helped you consider a different view on something that maybe you blindly accepted as truth (the way I have so many times).I hope this challenges you to dig in to Scripture for yourself and prayerfully seek the Lord on choices and sins you may have tolerated. And before you comment, I would love for you to include the Scripture to back up your thoughts. I am not offended by commenters who disagree by any means (and I will post them as long as they are not inappropriate), but please understand you are just further proving my point that we are blindly accepting society’s ways if you post an opinion not backed by Scripture.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Kade is 9 Weeks!!

Hi Kade! You turned 9 weeks old on Sunday, 8/17. …I can hardly believe it! This is all about your sweet ninth week.

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Weight: We weighed you this week and you weighed over 12 lbs! Whoa!! Big boy, you are growing fast. You’re about a pound under where Jase was at this same time.

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Health: Your skin is really dry, so I need to start using some lotion. Your nails are also crazy long, so I cut them this week and now they are super sharp. You have scratched your face a few times…poor baby. I guess we need to file them? You are smiling and cooing like crazy. SUCH a sweet and happy baby!! I do think you have a dairy sensitivity because you always blow your diapers up after I eat dairy. You also had gas pretty bad one day after I ate a lot of veggies. You were uncomfortable and kicking your legs a whole lot. You weren’t really fussy, but you were having a tough time sleeping until your daddy finally suggested it was gas and we gave you some gas drops. Still have lots of boogies in your nose too. I scrubbed your head twice this week with coconut oil and a toothbrush to help with the cradle cap.

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Sleep: Oh sweet boy! You’ve had a few really long stretches at night and are definitely getting better about taking long naps on your own. You are still in your pack n play in our room. I say every day I’m going to move you (gotta move a few things around before we take you upstairs), but for some reason I haven’t quite done it yet. You are the sweetest little snoozer and look so much like Jase when you’re asleep.

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Nursing: Nursing is going great! Thank you so much to everyone who prayed for me. I wasn’t posting that to ask for prayers, but I am certainly beyond grateful for the prayers and encouragement. I can honestly say I have “enjoyed” it more over this past week. I am pumping a good bit and feeding him bottles too because that is easier when we are out and about and on the go. Pumping is WAY better/easier the second time and I definitely don’t hate it as much as I did the first time. I think he eats around 7-8 oz.

What Kade is up to:

I keep forgetting to give you your vitamin supplement (for iron, which doesn’t come through breastmilk) and I really need to get on it.

You are chewing on your hands a lot now.

You LOVE your Papa and smiled really big at him today.

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You also love your Grammy & Granddaddy.

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Hey blue eyes- what ya thinkin about?? Your eyebrows are really getting dark, and I think your hair is going to be even blonder than Jase’s.

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Right before I took this picture, you rolled from your tummy to your back!! (8/14) You are one strong little dude.

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PostPartum: I worked out a few times this week and that helped me feel better. I always feel great when I get to work out.

Big Brother Jase: Jase is the sweetest big brother. I pray you two have a strong bond and are best buds as you get older. He is so helpful with you.

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Thoughts: Sweet Kade, we are beyond blessed to be your parents. You are growing so fast and seem so much older than you are. We are lovinh watching your little personality develop.

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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Ava Anderson Non-Toxic Products

My friends Adrienne and Amanda (who just lost 10 lbs on her 24 Day Challenge- whoop whoop!) recently introduced me to Ava Anderson products. Amanda has a daughter with asthma (her story is below) and she is really passionate about non-toxic products in the home. She encouraged me to watch a documentary on Netflix called The Human Experiment…and it was very enlightening. I highly encourage you to check it out- it was super interesting and thought provoking. There are so many chemicals that are coming in to our country on a daily basis completely unregulated. Chemicals that are BANNED in other countries. SOMETHING has to be contributing to the growing cases of cancer, ADD/ADHD, mental illness, infertility, autism…and after looking into it a little more, I truly think our high exposure to so many chemicals may be the culprit.

I learned some similar things at a seminar I went to a while back (I wrote about it here) and switched to some “green” products, but I became especially conscious of the products I was using when I was pregnant.  I recently started using some Ava products in our home and am really happy with them. My favorites are the sunscreen and bug spray (both of which are REALLY tough to find non-toxic & I feel much better using these on my babies), the baby wash, and the cleaning products.

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Here is a little more from my friend Amanda, and you’re more than welcome to reach out to her if you have questions. She has been a great resource for me.

Hi everyone! My name is Amanda and I am an Independent Consultant for Ava Anderson NonToxic.

At Ava Anderson, our mission is to educate others on harmful chemicals in personal care and home care products; while also providing a safer alternative. I started my Ava business in February of this year for two reasons.

1. I didn’t know much about this toxic issue until someone shared it with me. I knew there must be many out there (just like me) who didn’t or don’t know either. For me, it is about helping others with current health issues, but also about teaching others about prevention. Not just changing what we eat, but also changing what we apply to our skin - what we apply to our skin goes straight into our blood stream and our body has no way to detoxify.

2. I absolutely love Ava Anderson products. My daughter who is 3 years old has been battling with asthma since she was 3 months old. Her Pulmonologist recommended that I start researching about nontoxic options for her. Long storing short, I found Ava Anderson NonToxic through a friend and my daughter has went from four different asthma medications to one. I changed her laundry detergent, shampoo, body wash, lotion, toothpaste, and all our home cleaning products to Ava Anderson and the changes in her have been amazing.

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“The association between persistent wheezing and prenatal exposure to household cleaning chemicals was still evident among these children when they reached 7 years of age. The respiratory effects seem to have persisted throughout childhood, which raises the possibility that they could be lifelong.”

Below is a link to one of my favorite articles about “greenwashing”. Please take a moment to read it – its super eye opening.

Also, here is a list of Ava’s top ingredients to avoid.

To learn more about Ava Anderson NonToxic and to browse our products, you can check out www.avaandersonnontoxic.com/AmandaHead. For questions or to place an order, please feel free to contact me at avabyamanda@gmail.com.

Being a Godly Husband

A few years back I wrote a post called Being a Godly Wife that pretty much went (unexpectedly) viral. I have received a TON of feedback over the years- some negative, but mostly encouraging. I’ve also had several folks ask if Jonathan would be willing to share some thoughts  on being a godly husband. Although I knew he would have some great insight, he does NOT like to write, so I knew that was a long shot.  BUT, I did find some notes he typed up about this topic from when he spoke on a men’s leadership call last Fall and I wanted to share it with you guys. I wish you could have heard him speak about these things. My heart fluttered with pride listening to him & knowing he IS who he says he is when it comes to the things he shared.

Y’all, I have seriously hit the husband jackpot.

He’s not perfect, I’m not perfect, and our marriage is not perfect. Not even close. We fuss over stupid stuff (daily) and are both working and growing. (I have a lot more growing to do than him.) But I am so thankful every day the Lord chose Jonathan for me. I am thankful he encompasses so many of the attributes I prayed for in a husband before I even married him.

So, this was the best I can do…Just a rough outline of his notes from when he spoke on this call, but still a strong message.

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Here are a few other things that I observe as his wife:

  • He prays with Jase before bed every night. Long, thorough prayers.
  • He prays out loud before every meal to give thanks.
  • He COVERS us in prayer. Basically, he is a prayer warrior & that is one of my favorite things about him.
  • He humbly and willingly serves in our home. He helps out a TON & I never have to ask.
  • He makes us feel safe.
  • He invests in himself physically and mentally. (He works out and reads a lot to take care of his temple and grow his mind.)
  • He surrounds himself with other men of quality.
  • He protects our home and doesn’t allow garbage in.
  • He keeps me in check, even when I don’t like it.
  • He always considers the best interest of our family & puts us in front of himself.
  • He is quick to serve and help others.
  • He is a crazy hard worker & is such an awesome example for others in this area.
  • He would dig ditches all day long if that’s what it took to provide for us.
  • He is a leader in our home, business, and church.
  • He is humble.

Jase & Kade- I know your Daddy is teaching you these things every day, and I know he’s leading by example in our home, but I wanted you to have this too so you know your daddy’s heart. He is a really great man and husband, and we are so BLESSED to have him. I pray you guys grow up to be just like him.

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