Each member of our family is so different, like individual components of a symphony. But, like a symphony, each part is important to the overall structure and sound of the piece. We all work together to make a beautiful sound...our family. Just as the Lord knit us together in the womb, He is now knitting us together as a family, for His glory, outside the womb.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

April Showers

I had the honor of giving a bridal and baby shower devotional, last month.  One of the college ladies is getting married in a couple of weeks, and then another young lady at church is having her first baby!  I think the devotional is my favorite part of a shower, so I was very happy to give them.  I used to enjoy the games the most, but now I realize the importance of Godly words from Godly women who have gone through what I'm going through before me.  So it's exciting to be in a position where I can share some of what the Lord has taught me with these young ladies.

D's bridal shower was first and I choose to title my devotion "First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage."  I didn't focus too much on that last area since you get a whole other shower once your at that point.  
First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriage, Then Comes the Baby in the Baby Carriage
      I.     “First Comes Love” – Love with God’s Love
What is God’s Love?
*  Unconditional, unchanging
*  Not motivated by emotions or senses
How do you get God’s Love?
*  Through the Holy Spirit
*  Titus 2:4 = lean from other Godly women
*  Choose to be in Christ and love with His love.
- 1 John 4:8 = because your feelings have been corrupted by your old life, before Christ, not letting your emotions lead you takes practice and training.  God is love, so consistent time with the Lord (i.e. prayer, bible study, Christian fellowship) is how you will learn to love with God’s love and not your carnal love.
How do you maintain God’s Love?
*  Romans 5:8 =If you are in Christ then you will love Davis based on the choice you made (to be in Christ and let His love flow from you) rather than how Davis is acting.  Letting the latter drive your love for your spouse is what leads to disharmony, because there will be many times their actions disappoint us.  God’s love wasn’t based upon what we had done for Him or what we deserved, but upon His choice to love us.  We can choose to receive God’s kind of love and then give it to our spouse.  It’s a choice!  Unconditional.  Not base upon anything they do or don’t do.
    II.     “Then Comes Marriage”
- ChineseIllustration-Why do we wear our wedding ring on our 4th finger?
Where did marriage come from?
*  Very few things in our world today were ever part of God’s perfect plan for man.
*  Genesis 2:24 = Marriage, however, was one thing that God established while man was still in a sinless condition.
*  Genesis 2:18 = Adam didn’t have the pressures and problems of our world today and he didn’t ask God for Eve.  God initiated the whole thing because it was part of His perfect plan.  Marriage is a high priority to God and should be in your life too!
*  2 Corinthians 10:12 = God instituted marriage, so He knows how it should work.  Don’t look to the world or other couples as your model or measure for a successful marriage, look to Christ.
What is marriage?
*  Malachi 2:14; Proverbs 2:16-17 = It’s a covenant, not a contract.
*  A covenant is based on trust between parties.  A contract is based on distrust.
*  A covenant is based on unlimited responsibility.  A contract is based on limited liability.
*  A covenant cannot be broken if new circumstances occur.  A contract can be voided by mutual consent.  Therefore, the marriage covenant is a permanent commitment.
Why is marriage important?
*  Ephesians 5:22-33; Revelation 21:2,9 = To provide the world with a picture of God’s love for His bride (believers/the church).
*  Marriage is a means of serving and glorifying God.
Secondary Blessings
*  Once you embrace God’s primary purpose for marriage, to glorify Him and demonstrated His love, you will encounter numerous secondary blessings.
~  Companionship (Amos 3:3)
 Enjoyment (Heb. 13:4)
 Fruitfulness (Gen. 1:28; 1 Pet. 3:7)
Protection (Eph. 5:25; Titus 2:4-5; Malachi 2:15; Psalm 112:1-2)
* Placing secondary purposes for marriage above the primary purpose leads to discontentment, fearfulness and disillusionment.  You are setting yourself up to be disappointed.  For example, making fruitfulness your primary purpose will lead to devastation if you can’t bear children of your own.  Making companionship or enjoyment your primary purpose of marriage will lead to desiring fulfillment through other relationships or outlets not met by your husband.  If you desire security and protection above all you may feel fearful or insecure when finances are constrained and resources limited.
*  Maintaining a Godly perspective of the purpose of marriage provides the foundation for a successful marriage.  Marriage becomes a spiritual endeavor rather than being dependent on our circumstances.
  III.     “Then comes the baby in the baby carriage”
*  your love gets divided
*  those beautiful little beings demand your focus and attention.
*  Remember to always come back to your foundation (Christ), which will help refocus you and your husband and better demonstrate Christ’s love to your children.
*  Even before having kids, your schedules might be busy with work and social events.  Always make time for each other; weekly date nights (in or out), do nice things for each other without expecting something in return, etc.
   IV.     Give Denice notebook and pray. (I made a cute "Newlywed survival notebook" for her.  I put some cute pictures of her and Davis, date night ideas, this devotion, and other fun newlywed resources.)

The next shower was a couple weeks later and it was a baby shower for Bethany.  She and her husband are having a baby boy!  

I knit her this baby blanket and attached minky fabric to the backside for extra texture and softness.

Then, I made her some homemade diaper rash cream and homemade baby wipes.

I had been turning old dvd cases into this, and I love finding new uses for old things, so I took that same concept and used the case to hold "Letters to Bethany".  She's an artist, so I thought she would enjoy the cute case and I printed the letters on cute cardstock.  "Letters to Bethany" was my theme for her devotion.  I thought that she could read these once Everhett is here when she needs some encouragement or a reminder that she's not all alone in all this.  When I gave the devotion at the shower I added some examples of times when I experienced these emotions.  It's pretty awesome to reflect on how the Lord has grown me in Godly maturity from baby number one to baby number four (and I look forward to more growth as the days come and go).
Dear I’m overwhelmed and need help…
       Psalm 61:2 “From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
       Good cry vs. bad cry.  The Lord wants you to be open and vulnerable with Him.  He tells you to cry out to Him for help.  Turn your focus towards the Lord and get it out, away from your self.  He doesn’t want you to mask your emotions and let your circumstances overcome you.  Your refuge won’t be found internally, but externally.  Let the Lord lead you to the Rock (Jesus) where you will find your help and safety.  Notice that He will lead you higher, away from the floodwaters that overwhelm you.  When you try to do everything yourself you stay in the floodwaters, working hard to paddle through the storm.  He can lead you to a place of rest and safety.  Cry out to the Lord for help and let Him lead you out of the storm.  Allow the Lord and other people to help you.
 Dear I need a break…
       Psalm 32:7 “You are my hiding place. You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyous songs of salvation.
       3 mom breaks:
1.     A break with yourself.  Sometimes you need to set the baby down and go somewhere away from the crying or fussing just to take a breath and refocus on the Lord.  A quick prayer, a quick cry to Him, and a few deep breaths can really help you regroup.
2.   A break with the Lord.  This is a good habit to get into now.  Spending regular time with the Lord in word and prayer will fill your tank with His strength for those moments when you need a break.  When Everhett older, it will be good for him to see you spending time with the Lord.
3.    A break with a friend.  Grab a cuppa, have a friend over, email a friend, talk on the phone or whatever works for you. 
 Dear I’m in love…
       Psalm 127: 3-5 “Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.”
       Enjoy your little man.  Snuggle him and love on him as much as you can.  Don’t listen to people who say you are going to spoil him if you hold him too much.  Many other cultures hold their babies close to their bodies throughout the day and I would encourage you to take a look at them.  That closeness, as in your own relationship with the Lord, will produce a sense of safety and confidence as he grows and develops.  Everhett won’t be strapped to you forever, so enjoy each phase as much as you can and follow your natural instinct.
 Dear I’m tired…
       Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
       Everyone says, “Sleep when the baby sleeps.”  Personally, I never wanted to do that, even though I was exhausted, because there were always chores to do and I didn’t want to use all my free time to sleep.  Hopefully, you will be smarter than me and take that advice.  These moments would be a good time to utilize your friends and family who want to help you.  Allow them to bring you a meal, do your laundry, or hold the baby while you take a rest.  Don’t clean before they come over to help, that is why they are coming over, to do that cleaning or cooking for you.
 Dear I feel inadequate…
       2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.”
       You are already a success in Christ.  In your weakness, He is made strong.  Let His power work through you when you feel like a failure.  What you view as a failure, He might see as an opportunity to shine His love down on Everhett and those around you.
 Dear I want my mom…
       Proverbs 23:22 “Listen to your father, who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old.”
The parent child relationship is an example of the one between Christ and the church.  Even though your role changes with your mother as you grown, marry, become a mom, etc., she doesn’t stop being your mom.  It is okay and good to still want your mom’s support and encouragement.  She has been through what you are about to enter, so it is wise to seek her wisdom and experience.  Don’t be afraid to reach out to your mom as you learn how to be a mom yourself.
 Dear Everhett’s mom…
       Psalm 139:13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.”
       You have the honor of being the vessel God chose to create Everhett in, and soon, you get to take care of him outside the womb.  I encourage you to start praying for him spiritually, physically and emotionally, if you haven’t already.  The most valuable thing you can do for him is to grow in your own walk with the Lord and pint him towards Christ.  You have the most amazing and important role in his life.  You are going to know this little man and spend the most time with him.  Don’t leave the most important aspect of his life, his relationship with Christ, to the hands of someone else. “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6.  Nothing matters more on this earth or can show him how much you love him more than caring for his spiritual life.
 Words of advice:
“Babies are not polite, they will let you know when they need something.”  (My mom’s advice in response to “should I wake the baby?  She’s been sleeping a long time.”)  Babies need a lot of sleep, they just went through a lot and their little bodies are rapidly developing and changing. 
“Have a cup of tea, talk to a friend, and then get back to work.”  (My Grandma’s advice for getting through the tasks of the day)  Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

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