Thursday, March 24, 2011

Resting in the Lord

A while ago I was convicted about not resting in the Lord and once again, through reading Exodus and observing my son, I think the Lord wants me evaluate my rest. These pictures of Asher are not rare occasions. EVERY single day there will be at least a small segment of time where Asher will lay on the floor- WHEREVER we are (doctor's office, ceramic painting store, grandma's house)- and play with his cars. He is your average toddler that just goes and goes and goes but one thing he does so well is rest. He knows when he needs it too. He does not care where he is... when it is time for him to lay down and rest (and play quietly with his cars) he does it. I want to learn from my son. How many times are we rushing through our day knowing that we need to just get away for a few minutes and rest with the Lord? We just keep going though and often end up having melt-downs or even blowing up on other people. This past week I have tried to rest in the Lord at different times throughout the day. When Ash and Zoee are both content, I will just sit with them and read something in the Word (especially the Psalms). It has honestly helped me so much. Having this time with the Lord all throughout the day has made me a better mom and wife. I can see that I am not as easily frustrated- I am more patient and gentle and loving when I am making sure I am getting my rest with the Lord. Doing this is so hard for me though. When the kids are content I feel this huge pull to be "busy" and get things done... do more laundry... do more dishes...clean something... It is my hope that I will continue to be able to have these times of rest throughout the day so that I can continue to be refreshed and joyful in the work that the Lord has called me to do. I see now why even Jesus needed to get away with the Father in order to gain strength for the tasks that He was called to accomplish. If Jesus needed to get away and be refreshed, how much more do we need it?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More from Great-Grandma's House

Zoee is rolling over which has meant less spit up lately... yeah!!

Ash with Popo's truck...

playing outside...

Sonny and me =)...

Daddy and Ash looking at doves...

Here are some more pics of our trip. Ash is 100% boy... trucks... dirt... animals...

Day with Great-Grandma Howard

Ash cracking up at the chickens...

Me and Ash...

Daddy and Ash...

Great-Grandma Howard and Zoee...

Today we got to go visit Sonny's grandma in Wharton, Texas. With Asher, this trip is so much fun because Ash LOVES animals and outside and Grandma Howard has so much land and animals for us to explore. Asher was literally falling over because he was laughing so hard. Something about the chickens clucking and ruffling their feathers just made him crack up. We had a blast. The kids did great. Asher got to play in Sonny's grandpa's truck- which he also loved. It was a great day. =)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ash and Zo...

The sweet Howard kiddos- Asher Sullivan at 21 months and Zoee Scout at 4 months. It is a joy to be there mom- even though some days I do feel like I am going crazy, I still am so thankful to have them and their wonderful Daddy as my family.

Dear Asher...

Asher after I let him eat breakfast in the playroom.... messy!!

Asher playing in Zoee's baby exersaucer. He is so funny!

This is Ash in his room... he loves playing with blocks!

Dear Asher,
As I write this letter to you, you are at Mother's Day Out at Spring Creek Athletics and Zoee is sitting in my lap after her bottle (hopefully she won't spit up on the computer!). Your wonderful Mimi and Papa gave this to me as a gift. You go once a week and I get to spend some time to catch up on things at home with just one baby and you get to spend time with your friends. You love going now. At first, you used to cry some when we dropped you off but this morning when you left with Daddy, you just said, "Bye-bye Mommy!" Life with you as a toddler is always exciting. You are a blast! Daddy and I still laugh almost every night at the funny things you do throughout the day. Here are some updates on your 21 month old life...

~You still love dancing... your new favorite dance song, "Dynamite"
~You are a climber... the other day I found you ON TOP of the chest of drawers (which is at least 5 ft tall) trying to climb on to the top bunk of your bed!
~You still love to eat but I manage to try and make us healthy meals. You and I eat broccoli and avocados almost everyday.
~You love being outside. We got you a little bike trailer that attaches to our bikes and you love going on rides in that with daddy.
~You still love cars/trucks/blocks/dirt... all things BOY!
~You love Zoee and sometimes you help me rock her before putting her to bed.

Asher, you are such a blessing to us. Daddy and I love praying with you every night before bed and reading your bible with you (even if we do think that sometimes you like to read your bible to extend your bedtime!). We pray often for you that you would grow to be a man who loves Jesus and provides for his family. I pray that your wife will be a woman who walks humbly with God and loves being your bride. Ash, we love you so much and seem to love you more as we see your character grow. Alright, Zoee is getting mad at me so I must tend to her! Love you buddy!


Dear Zoee...

Dear Zoee,
Oh how I LOVE to have you wear flowers on your head! I have a feeling that these bulky flowers are going to be a trend that you look back on and get mad at me for having you wear them... but they are so cute... and you don't have much hair so these flowers make you look so much more girly! Zoee, you really are becoming more and more of a joy. Yes, you still spit up pretty often but that's okay. Last week, one day before your 4 month birthday, you rolled over for the 1st time. We are so proud of you. You are growing fast and your smile still lights up the room. You still love to eat and thus your little legs are pretty plump =). You love your brother and smile often when he kisses (actually head-butts) you and when he talks to you. You are a mommy's girl and like to make sure I am in the room or else you get upset. I don't mind that much at all because I have been told that it won't last long! Please know little girl that I pray often for your purity. Daddy and I are already praying for your spouse and that you would grow to be a woman who loves the Lord with all of your heart and soul and might. You keep me seeking God every day and I often look at you and remember God's faithfulness. Zoee, we love you sweet girl and are so thankful for you!


ps- I would write more but you just woke up from a 3 hour morning nap and you are HUNGRY!! Love you baby girl!

Modesty & Swimwear: How God convicted me...

Please read the post before this if you don't mind before reading this one. There was just something left unfinished in the prior post and the more I think about it, the more I just wish I could talk one on one with every girl to share what the Lord has taken me through in regards to this issue. I guess blogging will have to do for now. I want to start with how the Lord even brought this issue about in my life...

When I was a sophomore in highschool, I became a believer in Christ. I had always known the gospel- that Christ died on the cross in my place in order that I might have a relationship with the Father- but I did not come to believe this with my whole heart and life until I was a sophomore. Sonny and I are convinced after spending time in God's word that belief is not just a verbal acknowledgment of facts but if you really believe something- your life will be lived in a way that reflect that belief. So, when I became a Christian, my whole life's path was different. I was no longer trying to live for myself and what pleases me but my new goal was to honor Christ in all areas of my life.

Modesty was one issue I was VERY new to! I had always thought that when you get dressed you should wear the cutest thing you can. I had no idea that I could be causing guys to think about me in a sexual way. I am being honest about this. I was so naive in this area. I just thought bikinis and short shorts were cute... not a snare for men that are trying to pursue Christ. All of this changed when I started to try to please Christ. I started to look at other women in the church whose faith I admired and I saw that their clothes were not what brought attention to them- it was their character. They were known by others because of their faith- not their appearance. I wanted to be the same so I started to dress more modestly.

Then came my relationship with Sonny. We started dating at the beginning of my junior year. Now I had a whole new motivation to dress modestly... I wanted to help keep my boyfriend from being tempted visually in order that he and I might stay pure physically. I had SO far to go. I remember one time when Sonny and I were going to watch a movie (please do not watch movies with your boyfriend ALONE... it's just too hard and you really will be just setting yourselves up to fail) and I was wearing these "cute" red cheerleader shorts and a t-shirt. I thought I looked cute and sweet. I came downstairs to sit with Sonny and right away he said, "Can you please go back up to your room and change? If we are going to stay pure, you cannot wear those shorts." I was surprised! Cheerleading shorts? Really? YES!! Any clothes that reveal too much of a girls legs, chest, or stomach are just a call for guys to struggle. I went back upstairs and changed into something more modest and actually put those shorts away for hopefully a time when I could wear them as Sonny's wife. From then one Sonny was my biggest encourager when it came to modesty. He would help me to see from a guys perspective and he would ask me to change if my clothes would be a stumbling block to him or others. I am SO SO thankful for how Sonny helped me to watch what I wear. Purity was such a battle for us and I know that me trying to dress more modestly really did help him to lead our relationship away from temptation (we still struggled a lot and if you are in a dating relationship and need to talk with a couple who battled with purity, we would LOVE to hang out with you and share things that we did that were both good and bad in our battle to stay pure).

Then came our wedding...
and I was sure that the standards for modesty would change. I could wear a bikini in public now, right? Well, the standards did not change. For a little while I did start to wear bikinis in public- only when Sonny and I were on vacation but then the Lord spoke to me kindly but firmly, "Do you really think that there are no men on this cruise ship who might be struggling with lust? Just because you are married does not mean that you can dress in a revealing way. Others are still watching and you need to make sure that your clothing reflects your faith." So, I felt that God was calling me to save the bikinis just for my husband and I have held to this conviction ever since.

One thing that I want to hit on before ending this long post is the somewhat twisted notion that people have when thinking about modesty. I have heard often, "Oh, I have a modest swimsuit for church events but I have a bikini for when I am out with friends." Really? This is okay? Why do we think that we can dress one way when the event is considered a "church" event and another way when we are on our own? This always baffled me. It is my hope and desire that I am the same person no matter what "event" I am at. Sonny and I always strive for this because we think it is what the bible teaches. I want the way that I act at in public and at church events to be the same way that I am acting at home. I do not think it is right for us to have different masks that we wear depending on the type of people we are around. For us to act or dress a certain way just at "church" events seems a little hypocritical. I am not trying to be harsh here at all, just reasonable. I am open to being corrected in this area so please let me know if you have a different biblical conviction that you do not mind sharing.

I hope that I do not seem too harsh. I just wanted to share the areas in my life where the Lord has shown me personally what His call for modesty is for me. I have told my girl students many times that I want them to be convicted by the Lord Himself, not to just follow a set of standards because I think it is right. I encourage every women trying to live a godly life to pray diligently about this issue and really ask for God to show you what His version of modesty is. Even if His version is not the most appealing to you, I pray that you would be willing to lay down your desires to please Christ and encourage His people.

Please let me know if you have any questions about anything I have said. I really do not want to be one of those people who show no grace and are prideful and harsh. One of my closest friends and I had differed of the issue of bikinis for over a year and just in the past couple of months did she decide not to wear them. It was not because of me, either, that her view was changed, and even if she still wore bikinis- I would love her just the same =). I had shared with her my conviction and just encouraged her to seek the Lord on that issue. It took time and prayer for her to really find out what the Lord was asking her to do to make sure that she was dressing the best for God's glory and to honor her future husband. Even while she was undecided about swimwear we had a great friendship. I will not condemn people who's views are different than mine. This is an issue that has been debated for many hours in American churches and I just think we should be able to talk more about it. What really matters is that Christians are seeking to glorify Christ in all areas of their lives- whether it is the clothes they wear, the movies they watch, how they talk and act and live.

Christ has called us who want to follow Him to pick up our crosses and die to the desires of our flesh. We are called to love others more than ourselves and that involves us bringing every thought, word, action, and garment captive to the obedience of Christ. =)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Modesty & Swimwear

One topic that women can sometimes hate talking about is modesty. Most of the time women avoid the subject not because we do not want to talk about it but because it is SO confusing and difficult to find the balance between celebrating femininity and embracing modesty. I recently asked one of my dear mentors, Staci King, to come and speak with my Sunday night young ladies bible study about modesty.

I love Staci very much and look up to her as a wife, mother, and woman of God and I hope to represent Christ the way that she does. Staci was not able to make it to speak with our girls but she did send me a copy of a letter that she and some other women wrote to the ladies of their church (Comm Church in College Station) regarding the issue. I LOVED the letter because it broke down the different reasons that Christian women should seek to dress modestly. The letter was not harsh or condemning, but it was an encouragement to women to seek God in this issue after being presented with different biblical truths about modesty.

Many times women just do not understand the damage that they could be doing to fellow believers by the way they dress and that is why I wanted to post a small section from the letter written by these ladies that I trust. If you are battling with the issue of modesty, here are some reasons to consider dressing modestly...

~Loving and protecting the men around us by not being a source of temptation
~Body image struggles/comparing ourselves to others
~Love for your sister and her husband (who may struggle with lust)
~Modeling modesty for our young girls
~Protecting our young boys (the draw to lust begins much earlier than you may think)
~Helping the women who struggle with lust for other women

Modesty does not mean that we all have to wear snuggies and potato sacks all year round. Modesty means that before we get dressed, we need to check our motives and see if we are dressing to draw attention to the way we look. Is what we are wearing going to bring glory to Christ, or cause someone to struggle with lust or jealousy? Remember that we are called to love others more than ourselves (Phil 2) and dressing modestly is one HUGE way that we can do this. Staci sent me some websites that have modest swimwear and I have added links to them on the side of my blog. Some have really cute, modest swimsuits and I am going to ask my husband if I can order a couple myself! =)

Here is one verse that we should all try to think about when we are buying clothes or getting ready in the morning...

1 Timothy 2:9-10

And I want women to be modest in their appearance. They should wear decent and appropriate clothing and not draw attention to themselves by the way they fix their hair or by wearing gold or pearls or expensive clothes. For women who claim to be devoted to God should make themselves attractive by the good things they do.

I don't want anyone to think that I have it all together on this issue. There are times where I still struggle with this issue and I will ask my husband or sisters in Christ to make sure my appearance is honoring to the Lord. I think it is great for us to talk openly about what modesty looks like in our culture so that we can be an encouragement to one another and not a stumbling block.