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What Not to Say to the Childless Wife

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what not to sayOn Sunday, I was speaking with a close friend who battled cancer last year. We talked about the things that people say, not meaning any harm, that can sometimes bring about tears instead of comfort. I shared with her things that people have said to me concerning having children. As I have gotten older, I have come to understand things that may prevent women from having children, as well as just just learning basic tact. I no longer ask women if they are pregnant even if they look every bit that way. We never know what is going on. We never know if that woman has been infertile and has tried with her husband for years & years to conceive, but her womb has not yielded the fruit. We don’t know if there is a condition that needs to be addressed before the woman conceives. What if they have been pregnant but have had miscarriage after miscarriage? We need to be sensitive to women when it comes to the issue of pregnancy. We don’t know what pain may reside in their hearts concerning having children. Let’s not be the possible salt to a possible wound. While I know the intention of many is pure curiosity and even concern, sometimes it is best for us to be silent. The Lord is in control of the womb and we must keep that at  the forefront of our hearts & minds.

These are all questions I have received at some point. As a bit of background, my husband and I have been married a year and a half and I am 33.

  1. Why aren’t you pregnant yet?
  2. Do you want children?
  3. How long have y’all been married again?
  4. How old are you? … Well you know that you’re not getting any younger! The clock is ticking!
  5. When I was your age, I already had __ children!
  6. When did you guys get married? Oh? Wow, well ____ got married a year after you, and they have one on the way already! Y’all need to catch up!
  7. If you need some encouragement in that department, let me know!
  8. I read that when you’re in your 30s, the risk for babies with health problems is higher.
  9. 33 is too old for me to have kids!

I often read lists like this and gasp that people would say the things they say, so let me state that I write this with no malice. My desire is to inform and encourage us to think hard before we speak. Again, we never know what that person is dealing with. I joked with my friend on Sunday and said that Job’s friends did so well with him. It was when they opened their mouths that it all went downhill. Let’s remember…

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. - Proverbs 25:11 ESV

The Valley of Vision

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vov Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory. Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision. Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

From The Valley of Vision, A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions

A Challenge from Paul

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romansDuring my evening reading in Romans, I landed on what is one of my favorite parts of the Book – Romans 12:9-21:

[Marks of the True Christian]
[9] Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. [10] Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. [11] Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. [12] Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. [13] Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

[14] Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. [15] Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. [16] Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. [17] Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. [18] If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. [19] Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” [20] To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” [21] Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:9-21 ESV

Safe to say, it is challenging. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, doesn’t pull any punches here. None of the Bible does! As I read this set of verses, I am challenged to ask myself questions like the following:

  • Do I abhor what is evil or do I only slightly dislike it? (v9)
  • Is my love genuine or is it a show? (v9)
  • Do I rejoice in hope or is it an afterthought? (v12)
  • Am I patient in tribulation or do I complain? (v12)
  • Do I rejoice with those who rejoice & weep with those who weep or am I selfishly concerned with my own life? (v15)
  • Do I trust the Lord to avenge me when wronged or do I attempt to take it into my own hands? (v19)
  • Do I pursue harmony in relationships with others or do I pursue my own kingdom? (v16)
  • Do I do what is honorable in the sight of all? (v17)
  • Do I bless those who persecute me or do I treat them the way I am treated? (v14)

Goodness! And those are based on just some of the verses in this one passage alone! Praise God for grace & mercy!

The questions that we can ask ourselves from this chapter, as well as the whole Bible, can be used by God to show us our weak areas – where we lack in our faithfulness and how we always need His sanctification, grace, and help. However, none of these actions commanded in Romans 12 are possible apart from the Gospel of God & the work of the Holy Spirit in a responsive & regenerate heart. It is, after all, a heart issue. We don’t want to be guilty of what Paul Tripp calls ‘fruit stapling’ where we focus on the behavior (fruit) and not the heart change (root). May we lean on God’s Holy Spirit to continue to stoke the flame of the heart that loves Him and desires to obey Him and bring glory to Him. May we rejoice in the conviction of the Holy Spirit. May we love His Word that He has given us. May He continue to sanctify us and may we be lights in the midst of a dark world. May we be made deeply aware of our weaknesses and our need and rejoice in the fact that our God knows them, promises to sanctify us, and loves us wholly.

The Blessing of My Beloved

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pic24Thursday morning started off as any other morning did. It was an off day so I woke up around 8 to the sound of my sweet husband getting ready for work. As he continued his morning routine, I got out of the bed, made us some smoothies, and cleaned up my mess. I have been dealing with horrible allergies for the past few weeks (hello, cedar fever!) so I ran and grabbed some tissue to blow my nose. As I bent down, I felt my back lock up and I could not stand up straight. This had happened back in August, but this was a bit different. After he left for work, I tried to make it through the day normally, but time would very quickly tell that that would not be possible. David came home from work early to help me get to a doctor. He patiently helped me dress, get in the car, and helped me walk. Never once did he complain or give off any indication of inconvenience. He sweetly comforted me during my appointment as I cried from sheer pain, and he took such great care of me over the next few days. He helped me with whatever I needed! I was so grateful for how he sweetly & selflessly served me. Although he had much on his plate, he never made me feel like a hindrance to those things. He gently took, and is taking, such good care of me with a smile on his face. What a blessing you are to me, Beloved. Thank you. :)

Grace & the Gospel

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the-gospel

At the beginning of this year, my husband David and I decided to pray for more diligently for opportunities to share the Gospel  as well as boldness in sharing it. Once a week, we have a day that we really focus on these prayers. Today, Wednesday, was that day.  Concerning other prayer requests, we have really been able to see God’s kindness, grace, and faithfulness, and today was no different.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are my off days so I usually use them to do chores around the home like doing laundry. This morning when I went to load the laundry card in our apartment complex’s office, the machine wasn’t working and there was a repairman fixing it. I decided to run an errand and come back to read and do some other chores in the meanwhile. After doing a few things around the home, I finally went down to the laundromat and got my clothes washing. As I was walking out, I noticed an older woman walking up, peering through the door. I walked out and she commented that she was trying to see how much it cost to wash and dry your clothes. I informed her, but let her know that she had to get a card issued through the complex. As she stood there, she began to tell me that she was visiting her grandson there. This led to my asking her where she lived. After about ten to fifteen minutes of conversation, I’d found out about her family and found out that we’d lived in some of the same places / areas. She currently lives in Pennsylvania; I lived there for 3 years. She has a daughter moving to Dallas; I was born and raised there. She has family in Houston; my husband is from there. During our conversation, she mentioned that she’d lived here in Austin previously and had actually lived on a street nearby. That street happens to be the street that my church is on. As I shared that with her, she immediately knew where it was. After some time, she mentioned that one of her family members was a teacher. Yet, another thing in common. I let her know that I was a teacher at a private Christian preschool. As the conversation went on, I asked her if she was a Christian. She’d mentioned a few things about church so I thought it was a good question.

Me – “Are you a Christian?”
Her – “I guess so; I was baptized when I was 14. I don’t drink, smoke, I try to do the right thing, I raised my kids to do the right thing…”
Me – “Those things are all good things, but those things don’t make us Christians.Have you heard of the Gospel?”
Her – “Yes, it’s the 10 commandments & all of the people who wrote & made up the Bible”
Me – “Well, the 10 commandments are a part of the Bible, and the Gospel is explained there as well”

I took that opportunity to share the Gospel with her. I told her that we are all sinners, we’re all born disobedient toward God, and that we deserved hell. I told her that Jesus lived the life we should have lived, yet died the death we should have died. I explained that when we trust in Jesus, we receive His righteousness and we receive eternal life. Earlier, during our conversation, she’d mentioned that she couldn’t wait to see all of her loved ones in Heaven, but she’d mentioned God as an afterthought. “Mary, the best thing that is in Heaven for the Christian is Jesus! We get Jesus! And unless they trust in Jesus too, though it would be nice to see them all there, some of our family members will not be there.” As our conversation wound down, I invited her to our church on Sunday.

Now, there are some important things I must mention. I am naturally shy and introverted. When I started dating my husband, a lot of that diminished & I have grown in these areas. He is naturally quite outgoing and gregarious. He seems, to me, to be gifted at talking to people, lacking fear. I tend to often feel awkward and intimidated. David & I had a conversation a couple of weeks ago about me having to work harder to overcome my natural tendencies by God’s grace and the power of His Spirit. Today was an answer to our prayers toward that end. Sharing the Gospel with her was not as hard as I’d made it to be. God granted me the boldness I’d prayed for. I saw her as someone who needs Jesus and my heart was saddened for her. I cared about her. I listened to her. I wanted to know who she was. She wasn’t someone to check off of my list. She was a sinner, like I am, in need of God’s great grace through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

David has often encouraged me to do life intentionally when it comes to having Gospel conversations. Any moment could be opportune. What I thought was going to be just doing laundry today was something much more.

When I’d told him about my conversation with her, he shared that he’d prayed this week about this very thing for me. How gracious is God to answer my love’s prayer in this way. I am thankful for the opportunity to be obedient to God’s command to share His Gospel, and I pray that I would have many more chances to tell people of God’s great love to us sinners that was shown by the sending of Jesus Christ. I pray that I would continue to grow in my fervor and boldness and urgency.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
(Romans 1:16 ESV)

The Homemade Hummus Adventure

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One of my continued goals with our home is learning how to make things from scratch. Sometimes, when I look at shelf stable items and all of their dyes and preservatives, it bothers me that those things go in our bodies. I’ve wanted to slowly eliminate processed foods and learn how to make the things my husband I both enjoy. Also, I have found that it is better economically, too. I will share more about that later on.

A snack my husband and I both enjoy is hummus! I knew that this was something that I wanted to learn to make. After seeing this pin on Pinterest a couple of months ago, my mind was set to conquer it! So, on my last grocery trip, I grabbed a bag of dried garbanzo beans (chickpeas) and almost grabbed some tahini paste until I saw the price of it! The least expensive jar I could find was $6. Not wanting to pay this much, I googled ‘tahini paste recipe’ and saw that quite a few of them were the same – sesame seeds & olive oil. What?! That’s it?! I settled on this recipe, put that jar down and went to the bulk section, snagging 1/2 a pound of sesame seeds for $2. I must say, I felt overly ambitious at one point. This was a new arena for me, but I was determined to at least try it! And so, I did! If you’re wondering why I didn’t use chickpeas in a can, the thought of eating uncooked peas/beans from a can was totally unappealing to me. Also, since my goal was to go ‘processed free’, cooking my own chickpeas was the way to go.

After I’d made my tahini paste, cooked my chickpeas, I was set to make my hummus. I pulled out my Ninja blender, laid out all of my ingredients, and started making my hummus according to this recipe.

garlic, lemon, tahini paste, kosher salt, chickpeas, olive oil, cumin... let's go!
garlic, lemon, tahini paste, kosher salt, chickpeas, olive oil, cumin… let’s go!
prepped & ready!
prepped & ready!

In the recipe, it says you can skin your chickpeas, but um – I was not going to do that! That would have been quite time consuming and it doesn’t seem to make too much difference in the texture. After about 10-15 minutes of adding, scraping down the sides of the pitcher, and blending, I had myself some homemade hummus.

fresh hummus in the blender
fresh hummus in the blender

I was so excited! I couldn’t believe that I had made my own hummus… and it actually looked like hummus too! The true test was to taste it, so I grabbed some pretzel crisps and did just that.

time to taste it
*drumroll* time to taste it!

It was so good! The homemade tahini paste made a huge difference and the taste really came through. It tasted fresh and yes, it tasted authentic. Will I make it again? Absolutely! Was it time consuming? Not really. The longest part was cooking the beans, 1 hour for a quick soak and 2.5 hours to cook, but that’s not a big deal since it does not require you to sit and watch them the entire time. I am looking forward to trying different flavor combinations in the future, and am glad I decided to try this!

Glorifying God with Heart & Mind

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what you think“… And if we are to glorify God fully, we must engage our mind in knowing Him truly and loving Him duly… The apex of glorifying God is enjoying Him with the heart. But this is an empty emotionalism where that joy is not awakened and sustained by true views of God for who He really is.”

- John Piper, “Think: The Life of the Mind and the Love of God”

* book offered as a free .pdf download at Desiring God; click above link to access