Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


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Babywearing Love!

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Hmmm, it appears that I totally missed International Babywearing Week, which is probably way more crunchy and alternative and hippie and so forth than most of us–ahem–”normal” mamas. Not that I consider myself very normal. But anyway.

I’ve tried a lot of different baby carriers over the years, and I’ve finally landed a favorite: Ergo. I’m pretty frugal and very reluctant to let go of that much cash (around $100), so I researched for about 2 years, pros and cons, talking to people who loved their Ergos and those who didn’t. Finally I made the splurge and ordered one for myself, and Oh. My. Heavens. Am I glad I did! I wish I’d had this carrier for all my babies!

The main difference between the Ergo and other carriers I’ve used is that it’s designed to distribute weight across mama’s hips instead of hanging baby from her shoulders. This is a big deal for me since my little ones usually skyrocket to 20 pounds in a matter of weeks. That’s a lot of weight to hang from your shoulders for extended periods of time. So comfort is definitely the biggest pro. I’ve been carrying (grumpy teething) Grace around on my back for hours and hours over the past couple weeks, without getting tired. Sometimes I even forget she’s back there. I can do all my work hands-free, yet she’s close and happy.  Babies can be carried in front, back, or hip positions, so it’s very versatile.

Cons: There’s an infant insert which I haven’t used, but the straddle position would definitely not be good for very small babies. Instead of hanging legs, baby ends up in more of a sitting position, which a tiny one couldn’t do. Also, if you’re the kind of person who likes something uncomplicated, like a sling, it does have several straps. It’s a bit of a trick to navigate the first time or 2, and I still have to have Elizabeth help me get Grace in the back carry position.

Ummm…Other than that I can’t think of any negatives. I love it. Highly recommend it. If you’re thinking about giving babywearing a shot, this is definitely the carrier I’d start with.

(pic from the Ergo web site)


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Heavenly Marriage, Part 1: Sex

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This is primarily a mothering blog, right? So why in the world am I talking about marriage?


One of the most important things you can do for your children is to have a good marriage. I’ve considered writing about marriage before, because I’ve studied extensively what wise older women have to say about it (in addition to what God’s Word says), but I didn’t intend to start a marriage series now.


Until yesterday, when I ran across this: Call to Action: Pastor Issuing 7-day Sex Challenge. At first I laughed (haha, call to action), and then I paused, truly disheartened that this kind of challenge is even necessary. (By the way, Ed Young Jr., the pastor in the article, is a solid, balanced teacher of God’s Word—not a flaky publicity stunt kind of guy.) So without further ado, I’M WADING IN WHERE GOOD CHRISTIAN GIRLS ANGELS FEAR TO TREAD and talking about sex. I’ll admit, I err on the side of prudery. But in a sex-saturated culture, it’s essential that Christians counter the continuous assault of promiscuity and immorality with God’s wisdom.


I’ve been absolutely amazed over the years at how many women tell me that they aren’t having sex with their husbands. Years ago, a young lady told me how she and her husband didn’t have sex for a year after the birth of their baby “because I didn’t feel like it.” These kids separated and got back together during the course of that year, and they still didn’t have sex. Are you surprised to learn that they ended up divorced? I’m not!


We all know that women typically don’t have male sex drives. But ladies, this is such an important part of loving our husbands. Do you know that God has a lot to say about sex? (He invented it, you know.) The Song of Solomon is an entire Bible book that gives us an intimate snapshot of a couple’s love life. Here’s what Paul tells us in the I Corinthians 7:


But because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.



The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs, and the wife should fulfill her husband’s needs. The wife gives authority over her body to her husband, and the husband gives authority over his body to his wife.


Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control.


In other words, just do it. Don’t turn him down, except in the rare instance that you’re sick or otherwise absolutely unable to. We’re not going to talk about all the things he should be doing, because we’ve all learned by now that we can’t change the other person, right? I think it’s far more productive to focus on what we can do to make a better marriage, and pray that God will work on our husbands. I’ve often seen that girls like to wait till things are better in their marriages (particularly in struggling marriages) before they’ll agree to have sex with their husbands. Often, if they’d just have regular, healthy sex, things would get better. I’m not saying that we’ll all be perfect in this area, but I am saying that it should be our goal.


I’ll close with some wise words from a sermon by Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle:



“How many of you would think that a couple that doesn’t have enough sex is experiencing demonic spiritual warfare? It’s true. How many Christian marriages divorce? Well, statistically, more than those that are not Christian. When non-Christians can work it out at a rate that is more successful than Christians, that would indicate to me that Satan really has found a way to climb into bed between a husband and a wife and, in one way or another, cause devastation.


“When I’m meeting with a couple, and the husband says, “my wife’s not been very nice to me, so I’m gonna deny her sex. And until she’s nice to me, I’m gonna withhold it.”, that’s demonic. The wife who says, “ya know, I’m just never in the mood, and I know you love me and we have a decent marriage, and there’s no reason… , but I don’t feel like giving it to you”,… that’s demonic.


To be sure, there are sex addicts in marriage who are unreasonable in their expectations of their spouse. But what I’m talking about is the common situation where one person in the marriage wants to be intimate more often than the other, and they’re rejected. They become bitter. Satan comes in and feeds that bitterness, baits the hook of their flesh with the temptation of the world. And all of a sudden, Satan puts in front of them images, people, and opportunities to lead them astray. It doesn’t make anyone a victim, because we all of our own choosing sin. But it does mean that you’re giving Satan an opportunity to literally sleep between you and your spouse.


“…Are you having enough sex? I rarely have had a counseling appointment where they both say, “I’m satisfied with the frequency and freedom of our sexual relationship.” One says, “yeah, I think we’re fine”, and the other person says, “I’m totally frustrated. It’s not very often; it’s not very fun; it’s very predictable; it’s hard for me to rejoice in the wife of my youth.” Sometimes it’s the wife saying, “He doesn’t pursue me, he doesn’t touch me, he doesn’t desire me, he doesn’t compliment me. I’ve got other men who compliment me, pursue me emotionally, and are desirous of me.” And I say, ‘Wow, Satan is here. He is at work.’

“I want you to have that image– that a couple that’s not having free, frequent intimacy– when they go to bed, just think of Satan lying in the bed between the two of them. That’s what Paul’s talking about in 1 Corinthians 7:5. It really is a big issue. It’s not just, ‘I’m more amorous than you are’… this is demonic. It’s demonic. “


Extreme? Hmmm, I don’t think so.


In the same vein, here’s a link to an article my husband wrote, which also links to Driscoll’s sermon Good Sex, Bad Sex.


Other Resources:


Song of Solomon by Tommy Nelson


Intimate Issues: 21 Questions Christian Women Ask About Sex by Linda Dillow and Lorraine Pintus


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Blessings Banner

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I made this simple banner for autumn. I actually started a tutorial, and then forgot I started it and completed the banner without taking pictures of the process.

Long story short: Cut paper squares in graduating sizes and glue them together. (Click picture for a better look.) I’m OK with my handwriting, so I freehanded the letters, but you could print letters if you’d like it to be more polished. I used a utility knife to cut slits for the ribbon–one inch grosgrain. Easy peasy. However, since I don’t have much time for crafting lately, it still took me several weeks to complete! Oh well. I’m just glad I got to make something pretty.

Here’s another simple garland idea that I think looks so cute and easy.


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Modesty

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I’ve wanted to talk about a few issues pertaining to daughters, but for now the thoughts haven’t gelled in my head enough to commit them to the keyboard. In the meantime, my friend, fashion blogger Rebecca, linked to this excellent Washington Post article about girls and dress.

In the past I also enjoyed Wendy Shalit’s book A Return to Modesty. It’s not a Christian book–Shalit is Jewish. I found her thoughts extremely insightful.

On one hand, I think it’s amazing that these issues even have to be addressed. (I’ve been told I’m a little naive.) On the other, I think it’s important to recognize that the way we adorn ourselves outwardly is merely a reflection of what’s really important–the heart. There’s a fine line between giving our daughters guidance about their outward appearance, while maintaining a focus on inner purity. A wholesome heart will naturally be reflected in wholesome attire, I think.


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Challenges

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Do you have a child that’s extra-active, can’t focus, or who has behavior challenges that are unaffected by conventional wisdom? Maybe all three of those things describe your child.

I’ve cried out to God for answers to different things that crop up with exceptionally active or challenging children (and probably many, if not most, families have one or more who fits this category at one time or another). I don’t mean ordinary high energy or strong will. I mean the kinds of issues that literally bring parents to their knees. As I’ve prayed, God has led me to several things that have proven life-changing for our family. We’re still on the journey; we certainly don’t have it all figured out yet. But here’s a short list of things that have helped us dramatically. If you face unique challenges with one or several of your kids and you don’t know where to turn, perhaps these simple steps will help you too.

Examine yourself.

Are you interacting with your child like Jesus would? Have you reached a place where you actually feel bitter toward your child for being so unmanageable? Have you become emotionally cold toward him? Do you respond to his anger with anger? Do you discipline in anger? Do you take his misbehavior as a personal affront? Do you punish rather than discipline and train? Are you consistent? Are you provoking your children to become angry? (I’m having some personal “ouch” moments just typing this list.)

The Heart of Anger has good insights into the angry child. I’ve never dealt with a child who was angry at heart, but if your child is there, it’s worth a read. Actually, the most beneficial part is the chapter “25 Ways Parents Provoke Their Children to Anger.” Even if you don’t have an “angry” child (perhaps one just given to occasional outbursts), this would be helpful.

Consider environmental sensitivities, especially to food.

This was HUGE for us. In our case, dairy and corn products seem to be culprits. (High fructose corn syrup is a problem for a lot of kids.) We don’t eat many processed or additive-laden foods, but on the occasion that we do, I notice my one of my children doesn’t handle them well either—especially during seasons when they become a more regular part of our diet. When I make sure my little one eats the diet that’s best for her (especially on a regular basis—I’m more lenient for social occasions), she is literally like a different child, both physically and emotionally. I can’t even describe HOW MUCH BETTER things are at our house since we’ve started to figure this out.

This article by Dr. William Sears is a good primer on food allergies. Also, many parents with exceptionally active or ADHD-labeled children have had great success with the Feingold diet. I’ve even read stories of autistic symptoms being improved or reversed with dietary changes. What you put into your body has a profound effect on your brain. I hear that when a child is allergic or sensitive to certain foods or additives, his behavior can spin out of control. Our experience has made me a believer.

Learn to understand and appreciate your child for who he is.

Here I’m talking about two totally different things. Appreciate your child’s uniqueness, even if it’s uniqueness that goes against your grain. If you’re orderly and introspective, an easygoing artistic child might drive you crazy, for example. But recognize that God has given your child unique gifts different from yours. Should an easygoing child learn to be disciplined? Of course. But learn to appreciate the amazing gift of a child whose personality and “bent” is totally different from yours.

In addition, you must understand how your child sees the world. The book Homeschooling the Challenging Child has been a huge help to me in this area. I think it would be beneficial even if you don’t homeschool. (Homework battles, anyone?) When I realized how my child becomes over-stimulated and how she responds to that over-stimulation, I finally “got” why she acted the way she did, and why no amount of consistent discipline improved the behavior I was concerned about.

This book is a little label-heavy in places. I’m very cautious about labeling children—but whether you pursue diagnosis that results in a label, or just look for insights into certain characteristics of your challenging child, it’s worth a read. The book is not decidedly against ADHD medication in all circumstances, but it gives many strategies that might help you keep your child off medication. (A side note: the book Boys Adrift, which I mentioned once before, was enlightening in terms of concerns about ADHD drugs, especially for boys.)

Orient yourself, your home, and your life toward your child in the way that’s helpful to him, as much as possible.

Again, Homeschooling the Challenging Child was helpful to me in regards to practical tools for interacting with my children. For example, I’m beginning to eliminate the visual clutter that can send some kids in to sensory overload. (Who knew?) I’m taking a different approach to the simplest things, like math worksheets. This list of 10 Tips for Teaching the Highly Distractible Child is super, again, even if you don’t homeschool. Once you learn to understand your child, you’re empowered to give him what he needs.

I’m not talking about pandering to character flaws or ignoring misbehavior with a label or an excuse. And I don’t mean to suggest that this approach should be a substitute for normal discipline and training. (By the same token, I’m obviously not talking about the kinds of very serious issues that require professional help–although some of these ideas may help in concert with professional assistance for those who need it.) I’m talking about learning to parent a child or children who truly present unique challenges that defy conventional wisdom. God has great things for our kids. Let’s learn to work with the precious children He gave us to help them be all He wants them to be!


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Voting

Well, I typically try to keep this blog a “safe” place from potentially controversial subjects like politics. In fact, I left the days of political activism behind long ago, and I haven’t had much interest in politics for years…Until this election. It’s been a fascinating one. And since presidential elections don’t happen every day, I’m breaking my political silence just for a moment.

As long as I have the freedom and right to vote, I plan to exercise that freedom. My philosophy is pretty simple. I vote for the person whose values and beliefs most closely align with mine.

This year that person is John McCain. I’m not voting for him because I think he’ll necessarily be an exceptional president if elected. I put my hope in God, not in politicians. (By the same token I’ll be neither devastated nor terrified if Obama wins. Another simple viewpoint: God is bigger than people.) However, I do believe that a person of strong moral principles will be a better leader in all areas than one whose values stand in opposition to Christian moral beliefs. I have always respected McCain’s experience as a POW and his pro-life voting record…

and I’m a fan of Sarah Palin, because of her strong faith and conservative values.

I’ve heard smart and sophisticated conservatives say that they are bowing out of this election because they don’t see any great change that would come out of a McCain win and that Obama is exactly what we deserve. I guess I don’t understand that kind of pessimism. Perhaps it sounds as though I’m speaking in platitudes here, but like I said, I’m simple. There are two choices, and since we all have the opportunity to participate in the process, I vote for the one I believe is the better choice.

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