Tuesday, April 16, 2013

This world is not my home

I went to the gym early this morning after nursing the baby at 4ish.  Because I missed the beginning of  Spinning class, I used the elliptical machine. Unfortunately with no music or teaching, I was forced watch the numerous TV screens on the wall.  What a sad world we live in -- always striving to fix the outer man, make sense of the horrific violence, secure vengeance, and compete. What a whirlwind of unsoundness displayed on those screens, begging for attention.  My 30 minute aerobic workout made me so glad that this place is not my home.  So glad that I do not have to be out braving the madness today.  So glad that I am able to stay home and train my children, clean my house, and live my life unto my Father. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Caleb

Caleb and I went camping yesterday!  I was nervous about the evening because each child was to go a different direction.  Our kids have never been separated for any length of time.  Last night, Caleb went camping, Evelynn went to her grandparents' house, and Sophia stayed at home with Daddy.  Caleb repeatedly asked where Evie was and reminded me that he missed her. Our two eldest kids are like peanut butter and jelly; they just go together.  With that said, Caleb and I had a wonderful time!  12 hours of exclusive mommy-son time.  We played tug-o-war, searched for frogs, played in the sand, watched a movie on the huge inflatable movie screen, ate smores, danced and generally enjoyed each others company.

I've been asking God to work with my heart in regards to Caleb.  Being a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom means I am with these kids 24/7.  And an energetic, inquisitive 4-year old boy (14 waking hours a day!) can be a little...well difficult at times.  God's been working with me in a number of areas to really understand, appreciate and engage Caleb.  The camping trip was perfect!  I was able to see Caleb as God sees Him: unique, worthy, and designed to be in His image. In so many different ways, God showed me Caleb's value.  For example, instead of running ahead of me to be the first in line, he grabbed my hand and "chatted" (his phrase) all the way there. He found frogs in obvious peril and led them to safety.  He ate every meal with me, rather than running off like other boys his age.  He prayed for my cut knuckle and begged to read our school books first thing in the morning.  Caleb is amazing.  He knows Truth and reminds me daily to focus on God's perspective.  I am so blessed to be able to raise this boy in the nurture and admonition of Christ. 

This afternoon we all went to In-Shape for a bit of swimming.  So fun!  For some reason unknown to me, Caleb is fearful around water.  Every little accomplishment seems very important to him.  Today he yelled out several times, "Momma, look!  No fear in Christ!"  as he dunked his head under the water.  He's an interesting duck, that one.  :)

I love all these kids so much, in such different ways.  They are outside playing "pretend" together after dinner.  How unique God's love must also be for each of us, His children.  Makes me want to go and hug a toddler!  :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

God's Direction for Parents (via Larry!)

Recently, my husband wrote a brilliant response to an article posted on a popular parenting blog.  Apparently, the moderator of the conversation did not appreciate Larry's insights and refused to publish his response.  So, I decided to publish it here!  The original conversation centered around when to begin disciplining our children.  Below is Larry's response.  Enjoy!

There are so many great thoughts and ideas about parenting, and I am so appreciative to the many parents who have come before me taking the lumps, the bruises, the bumps, the agony and the tremendous time and energy to raise their children.

Like many of you, training (my alternative to discipline) I believe begins at birth.  And, in light of that one of the greatest pieces of counsel I received as a new dad was straight from the scripture: "bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord" (Ephesians 6:4).  Training and instruction, over and over and over!  Raising children is like sharpening a sword, you don’t just run the blade over the stone once, you go back and forth and back and forth until it is sharpened.  Then, at times the blade becomes dull so you repeat! 

With three children all about two years apart we have a spectrum of chances to train and instruct.  At times it goes wonderfully...give instruction once and they follow.  At other times it is like the two-year-old from the previous post, it takes multiple times to remind them of their instruction.  But, like the author stated, we as parents decide the direction the child should go and that is the way we go. 

Another verse in 2 Timothy comes in to play and that is "doctrine, reproof and instruction regarding salvation in Christ, which is training in righteousness". 
1) As parents we give the doctrine (instruction, the way we would like them to follow)
2) If necessary, if they do not follow we reprove them by giving them the doctrine again and asking for their submission
3) Ultimately, if they have been given instruction and they decide to continue going their own way we correct them. 

Training them up in regarding the salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ (his work saved us, not ours), is our instruction as parents.  As parents we were never given the direction to "make our children obey".  This was given to them.  We give them the opportunity to obey, stick with our instruction and they ultimately will obey. 

I don’t believe I have everything "figured out" but I do love the blue-print our Father God has given.  There is a reason we do not see a lot of specific instruction in the new testament regarding raising children because the general idea of raising our children up in Christ was enough.  God desires to work in each and every parent to help them understand their very unique and wonderful child.  God is the ultimate parent, the most wonderful, loving, forgiving, long-suffering and faithful parent of all.  He desires that all of us raise our children in the manner that blesses him because ultimately all of our children were designed to transition from our authority to His.  As we work with him to raise our children up to submit and obey us then this will surely go well with them and their relationship with their heavenly Father. 

Praise God for his perfect plan to save us through Christ's work!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Alone to think...

Our household is finally coming up for fresh air.  We have been under the weather for the past three days.   I've never seen such a display of bodily fluids, much less been responsible for cleaning and disinfecting such smelly monstrosities.  Today we were all so blessed to be feeling better.  Larry went back to work.  The kids and I enjoyed watching "Happy Feet" with plenty of stops, starts and fast forwards. We also used our Christmas sticker books and held a "book party" in the living room.

After a grueling three days and two nights, my beautiful husband came home today with flowers and Pho soup (Vietnamese take-out) for dinner.  He also took all three kids to run errands after dinner.  So, I am sipping my favorite tea and ignoring the kitchen for now.  It feels good just to breathe clean, puke-free air.  Alone.

Thinking over the last few days, I realize how difficult it is to hold onto Truth while battling physical illness.  Although, I did find myself appreciating the Hope a bit more than usual (i.e. "Lord, come back tonight, please!).  My perspective was blurred by what was going on in my household; it was difficult to focus on spiritual things when the physical demanded so much of my time, energy and strength.  I really empathize for those who have suffered with long-term illness, like Larry's first wife, Sandra.  How hopeless life seems when we are just too tired to force our minds' to think Truth.  However, satan did not prevail in the Newman household.

As a matter of fact, although I am tired and shaky, I am more convinced than ever that God is faithful to His word.  God will not leave His children - - even if that child is holding a traumatized two-year old covered in vomit (for the third time).  God did provide our complete wholeness through Christ's sacrifice.  Our sins are forgiven; therefore, we are not subjected to sickness or disease.  Satan attempted to shift our focus away from Christ's accomplished work, and his efforts backfired.  Tonight is proof.

Less than three days after this awful stomach bug hit, our family is healthy, happy and whole.  Three days (most children enduring such a extreme flu bug suffer much longer)!  Praise God!  We all suffered with this thing except the baby.  God's grace is so big:  Sophia literally slept through almost the whole thing.  She must have been going through a God-ordained growth spurt because she slept nearly all waking hours while the toddlers and I were sick.  Larry and I did miss our scheduled anniversary date, but on the day of our anniversary he came home early and took care of the kids while I collapsed into bed. Never has a man given his wife such a perfect anniversary gift. I am excited to reschedule our date night; I cannot wait to give him his gift!  I am so blessed to have a husband who loves me which such fierce patience and compassion.

So onward we go, like strong soldiers, fighting the good fight of faith.  The kids and I are headed to a birthday party tomorrow, and Larry is happily off to work again.  I will continue to boast in the Lord's provision - even in the midst of all the pressure, vomit and sleepless nights. He is a good and faithful Father, bringing His promises to pass in our lives.  We will continue to boast in Him and the power of His might. 

Monday, December 31, 2012

Lisa-Jo on writing again

I have a new favorite blog:  lisajobaker.com.  Lisa Jo writes about being a woman and a mother.  Her words are simple and heartfelt.  She doesn't exaggerate to prove that she is a good writer; she just is.  Nearly every post I have read produces deep emotion and recognition (and often tears).  What interests me the most is her suggestion that the small things count.  That being a "writer" doesn't have to be a grand production of perfected words.  She suggests that life and motherhood create the perfect backdrop for writing. 

I love writing, and reading, and nearly everything to do with words.  I have always wanted to write, but have never thought of myself as a "writer" in the formal sense.  "Being a writer" seems too persnickety, a title that belongs to the dark clad, chic woman, sitting in a cafe thinking deep thoughts.   Since I quit teaching, I have stopped considering much of anything other than babies, meals, and the gospel (not in order of importance, but rather in order of daily time consumption), and while I do think deep thoughts, I rarely, if ever write them down.  If I do happen to make the time to write a blog post, I tend to spend too much time unconsciously trying to imitate another writer and not enough time trying to achieve my goal: to honestly communicate and connect to the outside world.  Lisa-Jo proposes that writing may be one way to avoid isolation. She seems to believe that pouring your words out - even if no one reads them - is significant. 

Dealing with hard things is even more difficult in isolation because satan, the enemy of our souls, seems louder.  More convincing.  Motherhood seems harder alone, without an outlet.  Perhaps I have an outlet right here, on this blog.  Where I can write a sentence or two in between diaper changes, kitchen duty and sweet dreams.  God's Word tells us repeatedly that we are stronger together.

My dad called today; my mom is in the hospital.  I have nothing witty or charming to offer about the situation.  Fear sucks, but I refuse to open doors to satan by entertaining "what if" fears.  I am determined to speak God's words about the situation:  she is a child of God, cared for by His mighty hand.  She is light; there is no darkness in her.  God will never leave or forsake His children. So, I'm going to pour a glass of Hilary's wine, think truth, pray, speak in tounges and continue preparing my sweet potato casserole for our party tonight.  At least until the kids wake up from their naps.

Lisa-Jo has this chain of posts (find it here:  http://lisajobaker.com/2012/09/31-days-write-story/). Essentially, she challenges her reader to let go of their perfectionism and just write, for the pleasure and release of writing.  I think I'll give it a whirl.  So reader  (if you're reading) know that I will make typographical errors.  I am writing for content; for pleasure, for connection.  God knows I do not need another project to work on, to finish.  If you'd like, join me this year and begin writing...again. 

Monday, October 1, 2012


Meet our newest, Miss Sophia Grace Newman!
Born August 11, 2012 at 11:55pm
9 lbs 15 oz and 22 inches

Sophie is delightful, and her birth has certainly brought a new dimension to our family. At 7 weeks old, she is finally sleeping 3-4 hours at night.  Whew!  This mama is happy to get more than 2 hours of sleep at a time.  Caleb and Evelynn have really matured into great little helpers; they have adapted well to Sophie.

Caleb loves to help Sophie find her "binkie"; Evelynn kisses her toes.  Both kids are very sweet to their new little sister.  Seeing my three babies together, interacting and having fun reminds me of God's love for us.  I am still amazed at the faithfulness of God.  Left to my own strategies my life may be completely different right now.  Miraculously God changed me - a distraught professional, divorced, single mother into a blessed wife and stay-at-home mother of three children!  God truly works on our behalf.  

Here a few pics of the kids that make my heart glow!

 Evie reading books before nap time. 

  Papa found a frog!

Caleb is coming into his own!  
He is becoming more adventurous and learning how to climb, run, and jump with more accuracy.  Larry is coaching Caleb's T-ball team this season.  Their team, the Rockies, get better with every practice.

The kids are learning and so are we!  Larry and I continue to see how the gospel really produces fruit in our lives. The thing about staying home (we both work out of the house) is that everything is raw.  There is no buffer.  We are with each other day in and day out.  Our home life has been challenging, even more so since Sophie's birth.  God really walks with us through difficult situations (sleepless nights, financial challenges, arguments, etc.).  

The gospel continues to stand in direct contradiction to our circumstances, challenging us to hang on to truth or believe the lie. For example:  So we don't have money for rent or groceries right now...are we going to believe what God's word says in Phil 4: 19 (My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus) or our circumstances?  So I feel am feeling judged by Larry because the bathrooms are not clean and dinner sucks and all three kids are screaming at once...am I going to believe what God says in Romans 8:1 (There is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus) or accept the lie that says I am no good, worthless as a wife/mother? See what I mean?  Marriage and motherhood certainly makes the perfect backdrop for proving God's word!  I can see, in some areas, how believing and thinking God's thoughts has produced fruit!

I have more peace in my life than ever before.  I have comfort and freedom that I didn't know existed five years ago.  I am able to truly relax (at times) because I no longer feel I have to work for God - I no longer have to complete some self-help check list in order to be pleasing to my Maker.  I stand as completely acceptable as Christ himself before the Almighty God!  How wonderfully freeing.  

Watching Sophia grow and change (she is already 14 lbs!) shows me how God covers.  I was anxious over her birth.  She was nearly 3 weeks late.  I was huge; she was big, too.  The doctors wanted us to have a repeat C-section; they played the "dead baby card" (that's what our mid-wife and friend calls it when doctors try to scare a woman into having a medically unnecessary C-section).  In the end, she was delivered naturally.  She's healthy as an ox.  She's beautiful.  God's grace is so big!  He is so loving and kind.  Satan defames our father with threats of illness, disease, and the like.  God gently reminds us that He loves us, that He is a faithful father.  The more I stick to this gospel message, the more God has room to work in my life, and boy is He ever working! 

 Sophia Grace, 6 days old.

She is such a gift.  I cannot keep my eyes off her!

I want to stop trying to resolve my own life - it's exhausting.  Rather I chose to believe that "God is faithful, through whom [I] was called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ [my] Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9), and let the blessings flow! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Growing together

It has been so long since my last post that the entire look of Blogger has changed!  The weeks have gone by so quickly in our household.  Our in-home business has shut its doors for good.  We are no long "Abundant Living for Seniors" which means that we are looking for a new home.  This has been a challenge in trusting God and my husband. 

Caleb is now three and a half and acting every bit his age!  He is very challenging lately.  His newest development is a cast on his right wrist (it smells strangely like peanut butter - that's a story for another time).  He has taken to using his cast a hammer and seems to enjoy the additional attention he receives from the other mothers at my mom's groups.  We are really praying about how to discipline him as he is a very bright and emotional little boy. 

Evelynn is one and a half and really coming into her own around here.  She copies her brother incessantly and wants exactly what he has.  I think I finally have them on the same nap schedule (12:30 pm) which has been really great. If the girl is rested and fed, she's a dream child.  If not, take cover!  She managed to climb out of her crib yesterday; I found her sitting on top of the changing table squeezing the baby powder all over everything. 

The kids and I have finally found a couple play groups that we really enjoy.  We meet for play dates 3-4 times a week.  Although it sounds like a lot, it is wonderful to have a group that knows us and feels "safe."  Tonight is my first moms'-night-out with the group; I am excited but a little nervous.  Social events without my kids happen so infrequently, I have withdraws and end up rushing home.  Weird, I know.

The new baby, who will remain nameless and genderless until July, is bumping right along.  The demands of having two toddlers while being 7 months pregnant is not to be discounted, but our family is getting stronger everyday.  Larry and I went through scripture a few nights ago and came up with our "family's doctrine" - -  a five-point document that is obnoxiously posted in every room of the house:

- While we were disobedient, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:6,8,10)
- Honor your father and mother.  This brings blessings from God. (Eph. 6:2-3)
- God our Father will never leave us.  We have nothing to fear. (Heb. 13:5-6)
- Be kind to one another in brotherly love, in honor preferring others. (Rom. 12:10)
- Be kind and gentle; forgive others as God forgave you through Christ. (Eph. 4:29, 32)

The idea is that we cannot discipline the kids without first giving them a solid foundation of doctrine from God's word.  So, Caleb is learning words like "honor" and "prefer" right now.  Whew, talk about a challenge.  Really working with his heart instead of his behavior has been the most difficult for me.  If God works in you, please pray for me as I daily (hourly! moment-by-moment!) seek the Father for answers regarding raising Caleb (and Evie) in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

On another note, Larry has joined a volleyball league! Apparently, he is the only white guy, which I find amusing for some reason.  He's enjoying the exercise and having a good time.  Summer is definitely here!  We are all in shorts and the kids are finally playing outside nearly all day long (praise God!). 

Well, Caleb just walked in my bedroom.  He's awake from his nap.  He was all smiles as he told me "Mom, I'm refreshed now!"  This Mom is now back on duty.  :)

I hope your family is also growing the good news of Christ FINISHED work and enjoying all the benefits available to you. We love you! 

- The Newmans