Archive for October 2014 | Monthly archive page

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When I was pregnant with Reagan, I had no idea what to expect, and therefore had very few expectations. The ones I did have were quickly dashed to pieces when I had her. That’s the way it works with your first. Because you cannot possibly imagine what it’s like to have a baby of your own until you have one. No matter how much experience you have with others’ babies, nothing can prepare you for it.

With Charlotte, though, I’ll admit that I kind of felt I knew what to expect. And in many ways my expectations were correct. But one completely irrational assumption I had was that Charlotte would be a boy. I know that’s crazy. I know there was as much chance she’d be a girl as that she’d be a boy. But I have 2 younger brothers and so I just had it in my head that she’d be a boy. So when the ultrasound showed up “girl” (because I have no interest in waiting an extra 4 months to find out what I’m having) I was like, “wait, what?”

Sisters?? Two girls, 19 months apart? I have no categories for this. I immediately went to the teenage years in my head. What will THAT be like? How am I going to deal with the hormones and insecurities and drama of not just one girl, but two? Then, three years later, we added Eva into the mix and now I have three girls within two years of each other. Oh, Jesus help us.

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When I survey the cultural climate of our age, I can grow very anxious about raising girls into womanhood. I know they are still young and yet I also know that Reagan is six and that pregnancy feels like yesterday. Now I know that anxiety is never good, but I do think there is wisdom in preparing now for what’s ahead. In being aware of and prayerfully considering what my girls will be facing as they enter adolescence and adulthood.

One prevailing issue for young women (and older women, if we’re honest) is the issue of beauty. I won’t go into the whole “the media is ruining our image of beauty with photoshop” thing. Although I do think you should be aware that you are being offered a completely unattainable and impossible image to which to aspire. However, I think the more dangerous issue for Christian women is that we have allowed this to become part of our conversation in an unholy and unedifying way. And this can lead to a subtle hypocrisy.

Think about your conversations with your closest friends. How often do you discuss your external appearance? Exercise, weight loss, diet, hair style, makeup, the post-baby belly, that flab on your arms, needing new clothes, wishing you could get a tummy tuck, etc. Know that I point the finger at myself when I say this. I am part of the problem. And for the sake of my daughters, and for the sake of my own heart, I want this to change.

Here’s what Peter has to say, “Let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” (1 Peter 3:4)

It occurs to me that I can teach my daughters the importance of this scripture while simultaneously undoing that teaching if they don’t see it taking root in my own heart. Because one thing is for sure, they are always listening, and they will hear that talk about exercise, dieting, etc.

I recently had a conversation with a friend about insecurity and body image and I admitted to her that I actually have always had a fairly healthy view of my body. Now please know that I’m as tempted as anyone to obsess about getting to the perfect weight or having the right clothes. I’m not boasting here. But as I was talking to her I realized how much I have my own mother to thank for the fact that it’s not as consuming for me as it is for many women.

I believe my mom did two very important things for me when I was growing up. First, external appearance was just never a big conversation topic. She never once brought up to me the fact that I had gained a few pounds or was maybe a little behind in fashion.  Now, if I brought it up, she gladly talked about it. But it was usually to encourage me to be content and not worry too much about it. And when I lost a bunch of weight running on the cross country team she didn’t make a big deal about that either. It just wasn’t the most important thing. And the second thing she did is she modeled this for me. I cannot recall my mother every talking about her own weight, worrying about her own appearance, wishing she could look different, comparing herself to other women.

It’s funny, both my mom and I are healthier now than we’ve ever been. We send each other iPhone screen shots of our most recent runs. We probably have better fashion sense than we’ve ever had. We shop together and keep each other from buying hideous things. We discuss hair styles and make-up. But it’s just not, and has never been, the main thing. And she helps me to remember that. A few weeks ago I lamented to her, via text, that I’d spotted my first vein on my leg. And she laughingly replied, “Badge of honor!”

This past week Josh preached on hypocrisy in the early church, what a deadly, insidious thing it is. I don’t want my daughters to hear me preach the importance of inner beauty, and then see me obsessing about my external beauty. This is confusing and harmful. Instead I want them to see what I saw in my mom. Contentment. A willingness to laugh about it all. A lack of worry. Seeing this in her went a long way with me.

My prayer for myself is the same as my prayer for my daughters. That in the face of every sort of temptation to obsess about outer beauty they, and I, would see Jesus and find contentment, quiet. That their hearts would find satisfaction not in how they look but in who Jesus would create them to be. May His pleasure be our delight, friends.

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October Reading

Oct
2014
12

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The last time I posted about what I’m reading was April. April. You might think that’s just because I forgot to post but it’s more like because I forgot to read. Even the most avid reader has to go ahead and accept that sometimes daily life leaves you with just enough mental energy to watch a little Gilmore Girls at the end of the day before falling into a coma.

In all seriousness thought I did have a crazy summer and first month of school during which very little reading was happening. However, I did squeeze in one book in August that I truly LOVED. There is a handful of books that I go back to again and again and this book has definitely made that short list. At the Women’s Gospel Coalition conference this past June I picked up Idols of the HeartLearning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick. It was the title that attracted me. I don’t know about you but it seems that everywhere I look there is an idol of some sort enticing me to abandon love for my Savior in favor of its empty promise of fulfillment.

This book went beyond what I expected. For me, it just really got into the heart of the matter when it comes to idolatry and how it invades and infects our lives as believers. And then it provided all of the hope that comes with the Gospel promise that Jesus is indeed enough. It caused me to think deeply about where my idols lie and about how to effectively fight against them. This book is deep, encouraging, practical. And then on top of all that it has really helpful discussion questions/extra Scripture reading at the end of each chapter. The kind that really do deepen your understanding of what you’re reading.

Perhaps the biggest thing I took away from my reading of Idols is a new perspective on the freedom that is ours in Christ. In her chapter entitled Willing to Obey, Fitzpatrick says,

Once a person becomes a Christian, he has liberty. Unlike his old self, whose choice was always toward sin, he is now able to choose to sin or not sin. Both of these choices are a possibility. When his heart is so inclined, when he’s convinced of the goodness of it, and when he longs for the Lord and the joy of bringing Him pleasure, he chooses to obey Him. He’s no longer a slave to sin in the same way that he was before he was saved. Before he was saved there was only one possible outcome in every choice: he was going to sin. But now that he has a new heart, there are two possibilities. He can sin or he con not sin, freely choosing, according to his desires.

This is one of those things that I “knew” but had kind of lost sight of. I used to be a slave to sin, but have been set free to choose what I never would have before. The heart is deceptive and we become easily convinced that it is the other way around. That the sin we left behind is where freedom is found and the righteousness we’re called to is slavery. To be a Christian is to be a liberated slave who never has to go back to that life. What amazing news. What a wonderful reminder.

So, as you can see, I highly recommend this book.

And even though I’m sure I’ve mentioned Future Grace by John Piper before I’m just going to go ahead and tell you again that you want this book in your library. I went back through various chapters from it over the last 6 months. It had, and continues to have, a huge impact on my life. This is one of the books I mentioned above, that I just continue to go back to. You won’t regret owning this one.

As for what I’m reading now, there are a couple of books on my list to finish this month. The first is A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community & Mission around the Table by Tim Chester. Josh and I are in a little supper club and are reading this book with that group. Sharing a meal is such a foundational piece of the church community and of society as a whole.  I’m really looking forward to reading this and having a deeper understanding of why that is. And it doesn’t hurt that we’ll be discussing this book over a great meal with friends in a few weeks. Perfect.

And lastly, I’m in the middle of reading Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up, by Ian and Larissa Murphy. Ian and Larissa’s story became rather well-known through social media and their blog, Pray for Ian. You can read a synopsis of it here. I’ve followed their story over the last few years, and it is an inspiring one. But I am finding in reading Larissa’s very honest writing that it is also a very real story. She shares the ups and downs of loving and following Christ and her husband through tragedy and hardship. I am so glad I’m reading it and encourage you to pick it up as well.

Hope these suggestions encourage you to continue reading as well. Or to put it down for a few months because life is crazy. Because that’s okay too.