A Prayer Answered :: He Bears Our Burdens

“Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens.” Psalm 68:19

I was lying in bed last night when the Lord gave me a gentle, but vivid reminder of His care for me and His desire to carry my burdens. This may sound like a silly illustration – but hey, people in the Bible had some pretty weird dreams and visions too, right? In my mind, I saw a waiter with a serving tray with several dishes on it. I imagined Him handing me one thing at a time – at just the right time – when I needed to have it. A good waiter brings your drink, then your appetizer, then your main dish, then your dessert. He doesn’t just throw it all in your lap at one time.

I believe the Lord was telling me to give all my burdens (see this post from yesterday) to Him, and He would carry them for me. When the time comes for me to deal with a specific need (meal planning, child training, health issues, etc.), He will provide the way to do it and hand it back to me to implement. There is no need for me to carry everything at once. I was not made to bear that weight.

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.” Psalm 55:22

He wants me to give these burdens to Him. And how amazing that He will never let me fall. Instead of “fall,” other versions use terms like “be shaken,” “be moved,” or “give terror.” What a promise. I used to have a hard time with verses that referred to the ‘righteous’ because I didn’t know who could hold that title. Now I know that since Jesus holds the title, he bestows it upon me because I belong to Him. So there is no fear in failing, falling, being shaken, or given to terror.

As I am writing this all out, I’m remembering an email from my friend Rachel that I read just a few hours ago that speaks to this same idea. She shared some lovely words of encouragement with me. The author of the book she was reading suggested asking yourself two questions throughout the day.

  • What’s important right now?
  • What’s next?

I feel so encouraged when God teaches me and reassures me like this. He gave me a (sort of funny) visual picture of Him carrying my burdens until He gives them to me one at a time – with guidance and provision for handling them gracefully. Then He spoke again through words from a friend – giving me two concrete questions to keep me focused on this truth throughout the day.

So thank you, Jesus, for answered prayer. And thank you, Rachel, for being a messenger today. 🙂

-Brit

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This is So Much Harder Than College

…being a wife and mother, that is. Let me be clear that the depth of beauty of motherhood and marriage is unrivaled by any other experience I’ve had in life. But it is so much harder, too.

My mind has never been more stretched. My intellect is being constantly challenged in every facet of a wife and mother’s concerns: health and nutrition, finances, organization, home efficiency, cooking, cleaning, scheduling, planning…oh, yes, and the children! Three kids to feed, dress, bathe, play with, laugh with, discipline, train, teach. Nothing could be more rewarding and it is absolutely where I want to be in life, but it is plain exhausting.

When I first became a mother, I remember feeling like I was getting “dumber.” Playing with one little baby all day and having hours of free time (nap time) that were mostly spent alone made me feel like I wasn’t being challenged. Sure, the early months of sleepless nights and terrible pain of nursing my little girl were hard, but not mentally stimulating. Goo goo-gaa gaa and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star can numb the mind a bit.

It’s three years later and I’m changing my tune.  I have never been more intellectually challenged (not to mention physically, emotionally, or spiritually) in my life. The topics that are bouncing around in my brain on any (every) given day are endless. Homeschooling plans, GAPS diet research (recipes, fermenting, food prep techniques), finding new sources for all the new kinds of food we’re eating, figuring out how to budget for it all, weaning Reilly off her pacifier, potty training, cloth diapering (bought them and have used them but not as much as I’d like), nap/night potty training Halle, laundry!, implementing chore time with the girls, scheduling appointments, softball lessons, church involvement, garden planning, starting solids for Karis, reading too many books at once, pondering/praying about a million things related to mothering these three girls, staying *calm* when dealing disobedient or whiny children, showing grace to them, being intentional about loving my husband, how to get back in shape, my aching back, hips, and feet, beginning stages of researching/planning for possibly building a house in the future, visiting family, planning get togethers with friends…..

Bless you if you read all the way through that list. That list was mostly for me. I’m thinking if I write it down, it will settle my mind a bit. have no doubt that I can thrive in this season of life and that the Lord is always working in me and will be faithful to complete the work He has begun. But I can still say it’s hard, right?

A Time for Everything :: Part 2 :: A Homesteading Dream

This series, “A Time for Everything,” will focus on the changes happening in my life, how the Lord has prepared me, and is continuing to do so, and what I’m learning about Ecclesiastes 3. If you missed Part 1, read it here.

house

the log cabin I grew up in (recently painted white)

I grew up in the woods. My parents dreamed of a log cabin in the woods, and before they were 30 they made that dream a reality. They built our home on 9 acres of land with the help of family and friends, and a little bit of hired help to make sure it was strong and square and up to code. I turned four the summer they built it. That place – those woods – defined my childhood. My dad split all our firewood for the stove, and my brother (3 years older than me) and I would help load it into little wagon hooked up to back of the riding lawn mower and stack it in the garage. My brother and I played baseball in the yard (I may or may not have insisted on always being the batter and never the pitcher), we built ‘forts’ in the woods, enjoyed hotdogs over campfires, heard owls hooting, coyotes howling, and saw deer gracefully bound over the fence across the road.

I’d like to say I enjoyed all the work that comes with country living, but I suppose I should tell the truth. I often tried every possible tactic to get out of chores, to no avail usually. I enjoyed the quiet of our little refuge in the woods, but sometimes I resented being a 20 minute drive from my friends’ houses in town. I did love our home, but didn’t fully appreciate the gift that it was to live between the trees, where the sound of a truck kicking up gravel was a familiar but not frequent sound, where the songs of birds were carried into my bedroom on a breeze through the open window, where we looked forward to wading in creeks and hunting (morel) mushrooms, where our Beagle, “Opie,” could run free and howl at the moon without a complaint from a disgruntled neighbor, where I could know a little bit more about God because I could step out the back door and see the beauty of His Creation everywhere.

OUR DREAM

I left for college nearly 11 years ago, only living at home during the summer for the next four years. I moved away entirely the summer I turned 22 for a job in the big city. Josh and I were married the following summer, and we stayed in the city a year more. I have always known the city is not my home. Too much busy, too much noise, too much commercialism. Not enough peace, trees, clean air, or space. The next two years were spent living with my uncle, who graciously gave us a place to stay so we could move back home, in his beautiful house in the woods. But it wasn’t our home, so after Halle was born and Josh got a new job, we felt the Lord’s blessing to buy our own place. We looked at many houses, but we both knew when we found the one we were supposed to buy. We knew it was God’s hand leading us because how else could we look past the cigarette smoke stained walls and decades old carpet and wallpaper and did I mention the cigarette smoke smell that permeated everything? We got the house for way less than asking price, got a tax credit to help with the renovation, and had the wonderful help of family and friends to whip this place into shape. We have truly loved being here. It was perfect for this time in our lives.

house before

house before

house after

house after

Slowly but surely, though, that dream of a home in the woods has been slipping into our hearts and minds. With three growing girls – and possibly more children someday – we long for a place where they, too, can experience all the joys of a quiet place to rest, a vibrant place to explore, a space budding with possibilities of a garden, an orchard, and maybe some chickens even. I’m getting a head start on homesteading practices now through learning many new techniques of food preparation for Josh’s new diet, and we’ve had a garden for the last four years.

For us as a homeschooling family, country living is ideal for learning and growing together as a family and a wonderful place to prepare our girls to wives, mothers, homemakers, gardeners, caretakers of the land and home. The details of how this might happen aren’t all clear yet, but possibilities are coming into view. I feel like we are in a pretty balanced place right now – very grateful and content in our current home but feeling the pull in a new direction. This is very much a matter of prayer and thoughtful consideration for us. I am certain the Lord will guide us now as He always has.

Have you made a significant move or lifestyle change? Was it a welcome change or a time of uncertainty? Was it by choice or by necessity? Do you have a dream that the Lord is asking you to put on hold? Or a dream that He is leading you through now? I’d love to hear about it!

-Brit

A Time for Everything :: part 1 :: New Diet

This series, “A Time for Everything,” will focus on the changes happening in my life, how the Lord has prepared me, and is continuing to do so, and what I’m learning about Ecclesiastes 3.

IMG_4611

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Sometimes it feels as though you are just sailing along peacefully in life, feeling perfectly content with where you are and what is happening in your family, work, home, marriage, and health. Now, the likelihood of all those areas in your life moving along without interruption all at the same time is not great. But we have probably all experienced seasons of rest in our lives where not much change is taking place (nor required).

We have been in this stage for the last 2.5 years or so. Granted, I gave birth twice in that time and there has certainly been a great deal of change in the dynamic or our household because of that. But those were expected changes. Challenging, but wanted and cherished changes.

In January of 2010, we bought our first home – a real  fixer-upper. It took us (and by us, I mean my husband and lots of help from family and friends with a little help from me, being that I was pregnant during this whole renovation) five months to make it livable for us, and moved in the evening of July 4. We’ve enjoyed this season of making this house our home, learning how to parent these girls (this one is ongoing, of course), soaking up the fleeting moments of these days with little ones (also plenty of times of frustration, how-in-the-world-am-i-supposed-to-do-this moments, exhaustion, impatience, and the like). We have both been sensing that the winds of change are blowing our direction though. Part one of this “A Time for Everything” series will focus on the major diet change in our home starting TODAY!

NEW DIET = NEW GROCERY SHOPPING/FOOD PREP PLAN

I know that little by little, God has been working on me (and my husband) in preparation for what lies ahead. On Monday, Josh will be starting the GAPS diet in hopes to heal ulcerative colitis, which he was diagnosed with this past August. The most basic summary of the diet is that it’s grain-free, refined sugar-free, dairy-free (in the beginning), and soy-free. I won’t get into all the details and stages, but suffice it to say that it is a major change that will require a great deal of learning on my part as the primary cook of the house, and his part, as he will be taking on a bigger role in that regard since the food preparation that is required will likely be more than I can handle by myself while taking care of three little ones as well.

The GAPS diet requires eliminating all toxins that enter the body, so our grocery budget will need to expanded significantly to allow us to purchase all organic produce and meats without additives/hormones/antibiotics. I have always been frugal, but took it to another level when I started couponing a year and a half ago. I have spent a lot of time and energy into saving money on our grocery budget, so I felt a bit defeated when learning that all my efforts would seem to be for naught now that we aren’t able to eat anything that I can find coupons for! However, I soon realized that all of the other money-saving techniques I’ve learned (buying in bulk, advance food prep/freezing in bulk, learning to find and compare the best price/oz or lb) would indeed be very valuable to us now. God has been so graciously teaching us and making a way for us before we even knew that we would need it.

NEW JOB

Being the wonderful provider that He is, the Lord had already taken it upon Himself to make a way for us to afford this increase in food budget. After being at the same company for the last 3.5 years (seeing countless others laid off in the departments around him and seemingly no hope for a promotion), Josh learned of an unexpected opening in his department that would result in a fairly substantial pay raise. He applied for the position, and was encouraged by nearly all of his co-workers that he was the obvious choice for the job — and he got it! We have just been so thankful for the Lord’s *perfect* timing in this.

REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS

One thing that is really helping us face this adjustment is the fact that we have prepared ourselves for this learning curve. I have admitted that it’s likely we’ll have some less-than-delicious meals as I try out new recipes every single day, and Josh has graciously assured me that we’ll work together and do the best we can – and just learn as we go. Of course I want him to like every meal I make, but by pretty much starting from scratch building a repertoire of “GAPS legal” recipes, there are bound to be some flops…especially when sugar (other than natural fruit and raw honey) is not allowed! We are okay with that.

I am also anticipating multiple runs to the grocery store for a while until we get used to this diet. It’s hard to know exactly how much we’ll need of any certain food – even if I plan ahead – I know there will be missteps and forgotten ingredients or spoiled produce from time to time. For the past year and a half, I have typically gone to the store once a week or less. But I know I can’t realistically expect that in this season. Once we get a good system down for meal planning and know what recipes we like, we can probably get back to once-a-week shopping.

I’ve also prepared myself for the additional time I will need to spend preparing food each day. On an average day I probably spend an hour or less in the kitchen. It’s likely I’ll be in the kitchen closer to two hours per day for a while until I learn more efficient methods for everything. We’ll have to make practically ALL our food from scratch – no bottled condiments, canned foods, store bought yogurt, cereals, lunch meat, etc. This will take time. I really enjoy cooking, but the challenge for me will be managing the girls during the day and balancing my time with them when I also need to be in the kitchen frequently. I do look forward to the day when they are all old enough to cook with me!

All-in-all, I am ready for this challenge – thankful for God’s provision thus far, and hopeful that Josh will find healing as we enter this new season of life.

-Brit

Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore :: Book Review


I have Missy over at It’s Almost Naptime to thank for recommending this book and letting me know when the Kindle version went on sale for only $3.99. I snatched that deal right up. I have been drawn to the *idea* of adoption for as long as I can remember (at least since high school), but now that I am a mom it’s becoming more than just an idea. I’ve been following Missy’s adoption journey for a year and a half, and in just a couple short weeks she and her husband will be bringing home their new daughter from Ethiopia to join two brothers and two sisters already here. Her story has certainly inspired and enlightened me to the beauty, joy, heartache, fear, love, and blessing that is adoption.

Now, on to the book review.

Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families & Churches by Russell Moore
Kindle version here

In my preview last week, I gave this book 5 stars.  I wasn’t quite sure what to expect when I started it, but I quickly found that it was not a handbook on how to adopt a child. Rather, it is an illustration of how our adoption as sons and daughters into the family of God relates to the adoption of orphans into our families. Based on the title, you may think this book is only for families who are considering or pursuing adoption, but you would be wrong. Read on.

Russell Moore does a fantastic job of presenting God’s call to the believer to care for orphans in a very straightforward, yet graceful way. The tone of the book is not at all condemning toward those who do not have adoption on the top of their priority list, but he does implore you to reconsider becoming involved in some way. Moore himself was extremely reluctant to consider the possibility. Once you read his story and dig deeper into the relevance of adoption, you will likely find yourself grappling with how you can and should get involved.

We are invited to explore how “encouraging adoption – whether we adopt or whether we help others adopt – can help us peer into the ancient mystery of our faith in Christ and can help us restore the fracturing unity and the atrophied mission of our congregations.” Adoption is so much more than an *option* for infertile couples or couples who want more children, it should be a part of the culture within our churches that sees adoption as part of the Great Commission and an outward display of the Gospel itself. He urges churches to take the lead in promoting and supporting adoption.

“What if we as Christians were known, once again, as the people who take in orphans and make of them beloved sons and daughters? … Imagine if Christian churches were known as the places where unwanted babies become beloved children.”

A great deal of the book is focused on our understanding of our own identity as sons and daughters of God which came about through our own adoption in Christ. Both the doctrine of adoption and the mission of adoption are explored. I have read Bible verses about my adoption in Christ, but Russell Moore digs so much deeper into that reality than I ever realized was possible. Our adoption as God’s children is not a second-best solution which makes us sort-of sons and daughters. Through Christ, we belong completely to Him and are part of his real family and we have a real home with him. In the same way, when we adopt children and bring them into our family, they belong completely to us as real sons and daughters, not a fill-in or second-best to what we could have had. Adoption is absolutely a picture of the Gospel, in an authentic way – not just as a metaphor.

“The unbelievers in your community – or in the mission fields you serve around the world – are hungering for belonging. You know this. Show them, then, the beauty of what the Scripture says about adoption in Christ.”

This book has so much more great insight that I haven’t even touched on, so go ahead, read it yourself – and be blessed and challenged!

-Brit