Tuesday, April 30, 2013

hitting a stride, and a month of firsts {april in our home}

this month has been a breath of fresh air in many ways.  the biggest reason is that i have finally hit a stride in our daily routine for the first time since baby girl came to us over 7 months ago.  i thrive on routine (and so do kiddos!) so things have felt so much more peaceful and manageable... not like running around like a chicken with my head cut off as many days in the previous few months have been :)

the biggest thing that has helped me to hit a stride is waking up early to pray and read my bible.  this is normally a pretty consistent routine in my life, but when when we have babies who are waking up at night, its a different story.  but baby girl is sleeping better, and though some mornings its hard, i try to be up before 7: first i let the chickens out, then i grab a mug of coffee or tea and sit down to read.  i am studying the book of esther with women from our church, and the sermon on the mount with our community group.

after getting the girlies ready for the day, we usually try to do something outside of the house like walk to the park or store or hang out with friends.  after lunch, the girlies usually go down at the same time for naps.  recently i have been doing lots of sewing while they are asleep if there aren't other pressing household things i need to do.  after nap is usually outside time: the girlies play while i hang up laundry or do some gardening. soon after i start dinner and then our evening routine sets in.  some may get bored of such a routine, but for this exhausted mama it has been a real refreshment to be able to predict when i will be able to recharge during the day, and when i have to be on my toes.

this has been a month of firsts for the girlies.  baby girl's first time crawling was just over a week ago (uh oh, we now have double trouble on our hands!!).  the next day esther also had a first: her first major injury! :( she fell down while drinking from her water bottle and displaced two teeth.  fortunately, it looks like she wont need any dental work (thank you Lord!  definitely an answer to prayer!).  and then this past sunday another first:  while we were praying before breakfast, i was holding baby girl's hand and she started gnawing on my fingers and i felt something... her first teeth!  both of her lower ones are coming in at the same time.  esther is always saying new words, my favorites right now are "mine" (i know... this will not be so cute in a couple months, but right now the way she says it is super cute) and "amen" after we pray.

the daily routine we have gotten into has helped me to be able to focus a lot on my monthly life goals.  so much so that i have not only accomplished my april goal (planting a new crop) but i have already accomplished my may goal (making clothes).  i have already made several toddler dresses and a few baby headbands both accented with these flowers (i will try to post pics soon!  the are pretty cute if i do say so myself :) ), and i hope to make a skirt for myself in the near future.  the internet has been so great for finding really easy to follow tutorials for all of these things.  what did people do before the internet?!  anyways, i have been loving spending the girlie's nap times doing crafty things :)  i have started following a few sewing/crafting blogs for inspiration (let me know if you have any suggestions!)

::sermons i enjoyed this month::

for your exhortation and enjoyment, i am going to start posting sermons that i have enjoyed listening to each month (as often as i remember to :) )

parenting young people I and II (by doug wilson)

worldliness (by alex costa)

other sheep that are not of this fold (by john piper)

Friday, April 19, 2013

how far should obedience to parents go?

hudson taylor (famous innovative missionary to china in the 1800's) penned these words as he was waiting months (because of slow mail) to get permission to marry the woman he loved, even while he knew that untrue, derogatory things were being said about him back in england.

they may be pretty surprising for our american eyes to read:
"i have never known disobedience to the definite command of a parent, even if that parent were mistaken, that was not followed by retribution... the responsibility is with a parent, in such a case, and it is a serious one.  when the son or daughter can say in all sincerity, 'i am waiting for thee, Lord, to open the way,' the matter is in his hands to take it up"
wow.  i think this would also apply to obedience to the godly authority that God has placed over us (such as the elders and pastors of our church).

this could only be written by someone who also wrote:
"how important to learn... to move man, though God, by prayer alone"

what faith!

what do you think?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

3 myths about introverts

as i mentioned in my march recap, i recently read and really enjoyed "the introvert advantage".

among other things, it was helpful to understand better how extroverts often misunderstand introverts.  since about 75% of people in america are extroverts, these misunderstanding are widespread.  in fact, in our culture extroversion is seen as better than introversion, while introversion is almost seen as a mental illness that needs treatment.

'we are not snobs' photo (c) 2012, merri - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ before we go further, let me clarify the definition of introversion (and conversely extroversion) in order to clear up some of the misunderstandings.  the main characteristic that defines an introvert is someone who recharges their energy through alone time.  conversely, extroverts are people who are energized by being around other people.  to be clear, there is no "true" introvert or extrovert, there are times when we could be energized by either activity, but most people tend more to one direction or the other.

1. introverts don't like people
introverts are often seen as shy, socially awkward or withdrawn from society.  in reality, extroverts can also be shy, socially awkward or withdrawn (and it is much more painful to them when they do struggle with these things because they need people in order to feel energized).  these things often stem from negative life experiences, and not from temperament (for example, someone might be shy because they were teased a lot as a child).

introverts need a lot of alone time to recharge their batteries. but when they are feeling recharged, they enjoy spending time with people, particularly a few close friends or family members.  in fact, introverts are better at having deep relationships with the people in their lives than extroverts are.

2. introverts can change and become extroverts if they try hard enough
one time, probably in middle school, i though it would be really cool if i switched from being a righty to a lefty.  so i tried writing with my left hand.  alllll day long. every day.  for weeks (maybe even months?).

eventually i gave up.  it was exhausting.  and though my handwriting slightly improved, it was still deplorable, and it was not worth the immense effort.

like handedness, temperament is evident early in life (in fact, i have been able to pin all of our kid's temperaments before they turned one) and has certain genetic components.  we cannot change what energizes us (although studies do show that as people age, they tend to go more towards the middle of the introvert/extrovert continuum). with great effort, one can strengthen their less dominant side, but it will never become the dominant side.

i have seen this in my life.  doing ministry in college has really strengthened my extrovert side.  its much easier for me than for other introverts to engage in small talk, meet new people at parties, talk in front of groups and lead people through a teaching.  i've had numerous people be shocked when they find out that i am an introvert because they have only seen me with my extrovert mask put on.  but at the end of the day, i need a lot of down time to work up the energy for these things (and a lot of time afterwards to decompress/recharge).

3. introversion is a pathology that need to be cured.
in a culture that believes to be successful in life you need to be bold, outgoing, a "people person", friendly, approachable, the life of the party and a strong leader, introversion is not seen as a desirable trait.  i have experienced this tension, because most of the ministry roles that i value (discipler, evangelist, sunday school teacher, bible study leader) are made for extroverts, and i can feel that introversion is a problem in me that needs to be fixed.  it is hard for me that i want to do these things, but they take so much energy that i often feel depleted afterwards, and often need long times to recharge in between doing ministry (i am now understanding why i constantly felt SO drained when i was doing vocational ministry!).  i remember times in college that i felt so guilty for going to a coffee shop to read my bible and pray, when i "should" be doing productive ministry tasks like meeting with women and sharing my faith.

but there are in fact many advantages to introversion for every day life (including ministry).  introverts have deeper relationships than extroverts.  its easier for extroverts to have many shallow relationships (which has certain advantages) but easier for introverts to have a few deep relationships (which has other advantages).  introverts are passionate about deep conversation on topics they care about (but feel super drained when engaging in small talk), while extroverts do well with small talk.  i could talk all afternoon about theology and ministry philosophy, but i hate it when people talk about the weather (really?? in southern california the weather is always the same and people still talk about it as if its unusual that its sunny and in the 70's.  but i digress...).  introverts are much better at listening than extroverts (i can't tell you how many conversations i have had with people where i have asked a few questions here and there and then mostly listened to the other person talk for 30-60 minutes or more!  not that i mind, since this is a strength of my personality).  after all, someone needs to listen to all those extroverts talk :)

what about you?  are you an introvert or an extrovert?  have you experienced these things?

Friday, April 12, 2013

march in our home

march went by quickly.

this past month has been a time of tearing down and building up, spiritually speaking.  i have been getting bogged down by my sin, discouragement about my personality and disappointments with ministry (not seeing a lot of life change in people).  reading a book about being introverted was helpful in some ways, but also a difficult internal struggle to grapple with the limitations of my personality (especially since all the ministry roles i value are designed for extroverts) and understanding better the misconceptions and stereotypes our extroverted society has for introverts.  i want to be thankful for the way that God designed me, but its a struggle at times.  at the same time, i have been praying a lot about the lack of growth (spiritually) in my ministry to others.  am i doing something sinful that i need to repent of?  do i need to learn better methodology?  do i just keep slugging away because ministry is slow?  these are the things i have been asking God.  i don't know the answers yet.  but reading a book about the innovative missionary to china hudson taylor has been an encouragement spiritually speaking, to see his faith in God for everything and his relationship with God that allowed him to say "i sacrificed nothing" after years of what most people would consider immense sacrifice.  i need to trust God with people's souls more.  i need to pray for them more.  Lord, give me the grace.

speaking of reading, i have finally gotten back into reading, and its been such a breath of fresh air.  i love reading, but for some reason since baby girl came to us, i have started 5-10 books and couldn't finish them (or even get more than a couple chapters in).  this is rare for me.  but recently i picked up several books at the library that were enjoyable easy reads, and it helped get me back into things.  now my relaxation time is spent reading, and not on the computer (hence the lack of any blog posts for many weeks!), which i find to ultimately be much more refreshing.  in the past few weeks i have read extremely loud and incredibly close, the introvert advantage, shopping for timegrowing a farmer and right now i am in the middle of hudson taylor's spiritual secret and knowing God.  each one has been a blessing, encouragement and informative in different ways.

'Caio.' photo (c) 2006, Gustavo Spud - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
if you squint, this kinda looks like baby girl.  kinda.

baby girl continues to capture our hearts.  she has totally surpassed her fussy stage and has moved right on to the sweetheart stage.  she loves to laugh and she can't move yet so she doesn't cause any trouble.  so, at this point, she's basically perfect. :)  the lil' chunker has gained five pounds in the past two months, and has almost blown through one whole clothing size in a few weeks.  her visits with her mom are progressing and going well.  she and esther grow closer day by day, which is bittersweet.  i love their relationship, their friendship.  but my heart also breaks to know that there is no way to tell esther that her sister is not a forever-sister.  at the same time, it is such confirmation that we were *not* crazy to get another baby so soon, and we look forward to the day that God blesses esther with a forever-sibling (we hope many forever-siblings).  

esther continues to capture our hearts, but in a different way.  every day she tries out new words, figures out new furniture that she can climb onto, or does a new motion to one of the songs we sing together.  she continues to think that "pwee" (please) is a command for us to give her whatever she wants, rather than a request for us to grant her what she wants.  and the louder she says it, the faster we will give it (or so she thinks).  she loves to do what i have termed "nurse-nastics", standing up and doing a dance while on my lap nursing.  she has an uncanny habit of mimicking our most mundane actions, like clearing her throat, blowing on her food to cool it down (even when its cold yogurt), wiping baby girl with the baby wipes and offering her hand to hold when praying before a meal.  seeing her copy these seemingly insignificant actions is a sober reminder that she will also be copying our most important actions.  Lord, give me more grace.

march's life goal was to take a self-defense class.  it didn't happen.  i did email the guy i want to take the class from, but never heard back (i think its an old email address).  i also have a phone number and another email, but i haven't tried those yet... my fault.  so it didn't happen, though i kinda tried.  i still want to do it, hopefully soon.

on the upside, i have already accomplished april's goal, and started on may's goal.  my april goal is to plant a new crop and i have already planted beets, peas and cabbage (in addition to tomatoes, spinach, basil and lettuce).  my may goal is to sew some simple clothes, and i went to the store to buy the material today, and hope to start cutting the fabric as soon as it comes out of the dryer (i hate the pre-shrinking stage!  i always want to start things right away and i always have to wash it first :P )

so that was march in our home.  what did you do last month?