She is Yours

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I have a stack of books in my room waiting to be read. My priorities this year were mainly to focus on God, Tim, and Clarissa. She is Yours: Trusting God as You Raise the Girl He Gave You by Jonathan and Wynter Pitts fit well into two of those categories.

The whole premise of the book is that our daughters really belong to God more than they belong to us. We get to raise them and participate in their lives. But ultimately, we have to trust that God will do His best for each of their lives.

The book has three parts: Her relationship with God, Her relationship with you, and Her relationship with the world around her. Each part is broken up into several chapters with things to focus on, scripture verses, and a prayer for reflection. It was easy to finish this book in about a month by reading a short chapter each day.

In her relationship with God, Jonathan and Wynter Pitts mention “Knowledge of God and knowing God can lead to very different life experiences” (35). That was very sobering for me. It is one thing for me to teach Clarissa about God. She has some head knowledge at this point. But it is entirely another for her to have a vibrant, growing relationship with Jesus. Ultimately, that is what will matter in her life. It doesn’t matter how many boundaries and rules I set up for her. She will miss out completely on God’s best if she doesn’t know God herself. At the same time, it was comforting to read, “drawing hearts to His presence is the Lord’s job, and that His call is just that–His call” (38). They discussed ways that they did family devotions in their home, family service projects, and sending their daughters to Christian summer camps.

I read the section on her relationship with me twice. The first time, I was really convicted that Clarissa needed more attention from me. Yes, we are home together most days, but how are we spending our time together? I decided to reread this section before moving on. “If you don’t take a step back to enjoy life with her, you can quickly get lost in a world of expectations and obligations–losing the happiness that rests in the joy of raising her” (101). They also talk about how if you have a relationship with your daughter, she is more likely to listen to your counsel as she grows. I like that idea that God gave Clarissa to me on purpose, that Tim and I are the ones who are most equipped to raise her. This section of the book also reminded me that Clarissa wants to spend time with me, not just because she needs my help. They also give several suggestions on how to be intentional about spending time with your daughter.

The third and final section was about how Clarissa will interact with people and places outside of our home. This part challenged me to really ask Clarissa about what she is thinking and feeling or why she did something instead of just responding to what I think is happening. I am reminded that in the times I have done that in the past, I usually understand why she did something that may not have been my favorite way for her to respond. Chapter 16 talks about dealing with fear in parents. It was really good. There is even a chapter about praying for your daughter’s husband.

The authors quote Tim Kimmel and say, “God has not called us to raise safe kids; He’s called us to raise strong ones. He hasn’t called us to raise popular kids; He’s called us to raise spiritually potent ones.” We don’t have to raise Clarissa the way that everyone around us is raising their kids. Actually, we’re not supposed to. God has a plan for each individual child, so raising her to be who God created her to be, will certainly look different for each girl. As Clarissa grows, I want to find ways for us to serve together as a family. She loves babies so I would not be surprised if we end up volunteering in the church nursery at some point. I also want my home to be a place that she can bring her friends to.

It was such a great book. I predict that I will reread it periodically, if not yearly. The prayers were great and specific for each chapter so I can go back if there is something in particular that I need to focus on.

Binge reading

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In November, author Robin Jones Gunn was on a podcast I listen to called Cultivating the Lovely. She and the host discussed life as an author as well as some of the books she had written. The host talked about how she grew up reading the Christy Miller series and it taught her about how to be a Christian teenager. I was intrigued.

The library on post had the entire Christy Miller series, twelve books about Christy’s life in high school. The library also had Christy and Todd: The College Years available in ebook format. Fifteen books in, I needed to see how their lives continued. So I started a quest to find the last ten books. Four books in the Katie Weldon series, plus Christy and Todd: The Married Years and Christy and Todd: The Baby Years. It took me a few days, but finally I found them on BookMate. I started a free monthly trial which meant I had 30 days to read these books…It took me two weeks.

Clearly, I enjoyed the series or I would not have read 25 books in two and a half months. It’s a series that I look forward to introducing Clarissa to when she is a teenager. She can see read about what it might look like to have a group of Christian friends, go to college, get married, and have kids. And I won’t be worried about the content being raunchy.

Halfway through The College Years, I realized why I enjoyed the books so much.

Christy, the main character, reminds me of myself. She has blue-green eyes and brown hair. She is the oldest daughter of two children. She marries a blonde haired blue eyed boy who cherishes her and has great faith, like my husband Tim. She is also quite a planner compared to Todd’s very laid back nature that seems quite random, which is much like us. Christy has great friends to do life with (who also remind me of my friends that I miss back home). Her best friend Katie, even gets married and moves to Africa. I can so relate to living on a different continent than your best friend. Plus, all of the time she spends praying about what she is called to really was very fitting for me in this season of my life. travels and does mission work. Christy just seemed so real to me. I loved how she learned to trust God in the ups and downs of life. She also learned to be comfortable in her own skin about the time she turned 30.

I love watching a person’s story from beginning to end. I hope there are more books in the series eventually.

Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break

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My last Bible Study in Daegu was Nehemiah: A Heart that Can Break. I only finished half of the study with my class. But I really liked it so I decided to finish it on my own once we moved.

I had never done a study by Kelly Minter before. I like the format of weekly homework with a short video to tie things together. The five days of reading each week wasn’t as long as some other studies I have done so it didn’t seem overwhelming. Two of the big themes in the study were service and obedience.

Some of my favorite takeaways from the study:

  • Nehemiah always prayed before he did anything. “When Nehemiah heard about Jerusalem’s tragic state he didn’t call a meeting, gather his smartest friends together for a quick think tank, or take a poll about what should be done…the first thing he did was pray” (16). He did things like pray for four months before we went to talk to the king.
  • Knowing the Word of God/scripture is important.
  • It is important to serve as a family and for Clarissa to participate in that.
  • Nehemiah chapter 3 lists a bunch of people and their jobs. My big takeaway from that was that God uses ALL gifts and there doesn’t seem to be a hierarchy. My calling is just as important as anyone else’s.
  • If I regularly record answered prayers, then I can remember the things that God has done in my life. It is faith building.
  • “Essentially we are just living as slaves when we’re not enjoying what God has promised to us” (130).
  • When God puts something on my heart, there is NO WAY that I will see the end game before I start walking in obedience. (Hebrews 11:8)

Life giving Home: May

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This chapter of the Life Giving Home focused on celebrations, namely graduations. Since Clarissa is only three, I have yet to really think about how I would want her high school graduation to look. I do like how she said that each of her four children had a very different graduation experience based on personality/skills/talents. I also like the idea of some kind of trip or ceremony to celebrate coming of age. I don’t know if I would want to do that for the transition to 13 or 18. Or both…

She also talked about Mother’s Day. I really appreciated this thought, “I understood that no matter what other work I would accomplish, part of my service of worship to God was to serve the child He had given me.” She also included this thought from the Lord:

This child, whom I created, has special significance to Me. Will you take this child for My sake and show her the touch of the love of God, whisper the messages and truth of Scripture, teacher her to have the character of Christ in living and serving with integrity, and show her how to give her life to a world that is longing for redemption? Will you raise this precious gift I ave given you for Me, as an act of worship?

I know I’ve said this before, but Clarissa is only little once. I really want to enjoy her. Even in all of her “threenager” glory. Our happiest days are spent getting dirty and reading books. Mostly just playtime.

Lifegiving Home: April

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The move definitely put me behind on my reading. The chapters on March touched on rest. As we are settling in to our new routine in Pyeongtaek, I am making an effort to plan for rest. Clarissa is going back to some rest time in the afternoons and I have not committed us to many things in our schedule. It has been nice to spend more time at home, just playing and enjoying my time with my family.

April is titled “a heritage of faith.” In this chapter, Sarah talks about how she saw her parents’ faith while growing up. It reminded me that I enjoy listening to music while I wash dishes and clean the house. Playing music would promote a certain atmosphere in my home.

She also talks about how when she would wake up in the morning, she would always find her mother with her Bible and often she would just join her. She continues the tradition of morning devotions as an adult. So often, I have tried to wake up early to be finished with my devotions before Clarissa wakes up. Now that she is waking up earlier, maybe I should just let her join me or have special books in my room for her.

Sarah discussed many of her family’s Easter traditions. I realized that I never got around to blogging about Easter.

Clarissa and I did Sense of the Resurrection again this year. We didn’t get through all 12 lessons, just the first 10. Clarissa’s favorite lessons were probably washing each other’s feet and when we put a red dot on our hand to show where the nail pierced Jesus’s hand. She often would color the picture on the flag and then cut it out so the flags looked a little different this year.

This year, we added Resurrection Eggs to our tradition. I hid the eggs inside the house while she was playing with Daddy in the kitchen. After she found the eggs, we sat on the couch as we read the story Lily’s Easter Party. In the book, Lily invites her friends to a special egg hunt and as they open each egg, they learn about the toys inside. As they learn about the donkey, crown of thorns, and a rooster, they learn the true resurrection story.

I love that now any time she sees an empty egg, she says it’s empty like the tomb Jesus was in. She enjoys playing with the toys inside as well. I’m not sure that all of the eggs and toys are currently accounted for… Clarissa has requested egg hunts since then. She doesn’t quite understand. When it is her turn to hide the eggs, she will tell me to stay in the kitchen while she hides the eggs. Then, she brings me to each egg and tells me to pick it up and put it in the basket. No finding for me.

 

 

 

 

Lifegiving Home: March 

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Three months into The Lifegiving Home and I really enjoy thinking about small changes that I can make to our home or schedule to make life easier or more enjoyable.

Last month, I committed to letting Clarissa interrupt my housework to enjoy what she is doing. I have not done this very well. But I am at least making an effort to play more and let the dishes wait a little while. There is a quote I really like that I need to hang on my wall as a reminder. Dr John Trainer said, “Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.”

March is written by the daughter and focuses on finding the beauty in everyday life.

One thing it mentions is introducing children to beauty through art and books. “With each new name children learn, with each description they hear of the world, language is teaching them what to pay attention to, how to perceive it, and what value to place upon it… As you fill your bookshelves and pick the images that fill your walls, consider the habits of thought and desire they will kindle in those who behold them.”

Clarissa loves to read. I can really see her imagination and creativity growing each day. She is one of the most imaginative three year olds that I have ever met.

Another focus of this chapter was a family ritual. We do eat a family dinner at the kitchen table every night. We have a pancake breakfast most weekends. We enjoy spending time together. I imagine that these rituals will change as Clarissa grows.

“The journey of ministry and Homemaking to which I have been called is a long one, and if I am to make it to the end with resilience, I need to plan for adequate rest along the way.” We need to be intentional about a family rest day. Clarissa and I need more time at home during the week as well. I like to be busy, but I find that our family does function better if we have some quiet time at home to rest.

The book talks about family walking rituals. Now that the weather is nice, we can get outside more. We have done long walks both days on the weekend the past two weeks. Clarissa usually sits in her stroller for most of it, until we get to our designated playground for the day. Tim and I enjoy walking and talking.

We especially like exploring new places. Clarissa likes our adventures. As she gets older, I imagine she will ditch the stroller and join more of the conversations. I would also like to attend a few festivals while we are here to learn more Korean culture.

A regular date night with Tim should also be sacred. Clarissa can have her own fun with a babysitter now that she is older.

A Life Giving Home Discussion and Link-up

Lifegiving Home: February 

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Last month, I decided to try something new and blog through The Lifegiving Home each month for a year.

In January’s post, I shared that I wanted to start an afternoon reading hour and make sure to read a Bible story with Clarissa every night. We have been reading, but still have not established a consistent reading hour.  We have been better about reading Bible stories. Clarissa looks forward to Bible stories now. She told my parents this week, “I like Jesus. He heals people.”

Month two of The Lifegiving Home focused on how you treat people, or how to show love. Clarkson says, “All our life accomplishments, from God’s point of view, will be summed up by how much we loved God and how much we loved other people.”

She talks about how we often get caught up in the practical things like cleaning a house instead of focusing on the relationships in our home. I am definitely guilty of telling Clarissa I can’t play with her because I need to do the dishes or some other chore that can wait. Clarissa will only be small for a short time and I don’t want to miss out on playing and witnessing her creativity because I was so busy with housework.

I think my main goal this month is to make time for interruptions. I want to be able to really play and enjoy my three year old. The dishes can wait. Clarissa never wants me the entire day anyway.

Clarkson says, “the narrative we tell ourselves as adults often grows out of the messages we received as children.” I want the message that Clarissa hears to be that she is loved and valued. That her parents cared enough about her to stop what they were doing to spend quality time with her.

In this chapter, another focus is on traditions. Tim and I need to think about what birthday traditions we want to establish.

A Life Giving Home Discussion and Link-up