Monday, October 29, 2012

Teaching our Children to Give

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My 18 month old little boy has a lot of toys. He really does. He is our firstborn AND he is the first grandchild (and great-grandchild!) on both my side and my husband's side so, suffice it to say, he has many goodies to play with.

I made a decision before Nathan was born that I would teach him, and our future children, not to hoard up toys and clothes, but have a heart to give and bless others. I decided that each year before Christmas and every birthday, I would go through their things with them and we would choose items to give and donate away to other children. This has a two-fold purpose. Not only does it free up space in our home and keep our house from becoming overly cluttered and hoard-ish, but more importantly it instills in them a habit and a love for giving. A statistic from 2011 reads that 42 million people in the US live in poverty; 16.1 million of them are children. Did you know that at least 80% of humanity live on $10 a day? According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. I don't know about you, but that breaks my heart. And when I look around at the mass of "stuff" that is easily accumulated in our home, I am even more disturbed. I want my children to see that they do not "need" 20 coats, 50 pairs of shoes, and 100 toys. A simple baby doll is extravagant to one little girl out there. A warm coat means the world to a shivering little boy somewhere. It is my goal to direct my children's attention to the needs around them, and then have a desire to try and meet those needs. And like most things, a giving heart needs to be taught at a young age.

The other day I sat down with Nathan in his room and we began going through his toys. I chose toys that he does not play with and that have no sentimental value, and explained that we were going to share those things with a little boy who has nothing to play with. I said, "We have friends who don't have lots of toys! Let's give them a few of ours!" He, of course, doesn't fully understand, but one day he will.... And I hope when that time comes, that he will have learned to have a cheerful, giver's heart. It's also important to remember that we cannot expect to teach our children to give when we, adults, hoard up our stuff. I can't be hypocritical. I, too, go through my clothes and things and pack a box to donate or give away. As a parent, I have to set the example.

What are ways that you have found to help instill a giving heart to young ones?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fifteen Reasons to Flee Fifty Shades

I feel the need to post a warning at the beginning of this post. This blog post is about the popular series, "Fifty Shades of Grey" and contains sexual references. Please be advised before you continue and I would ask that those ages 15 (at least) and younger do not read.

A few years ago, before I married, I worked at our county Library. It was there that I came face-to-face with the ever-popular romance novels. Growing up in Church and with godly parents, I had heard on numerous occasions to flee the books and not be drawn into their lust. I never quite understood just how harmful a little book could be. Little did I know....

I remember one morning at work, watching as an older lady came in with (literally) a bag full of romance novels to turn in and exchange for a new bag. As she exited the library and I looked at the stack before me to put away, my curiosity got the better of me and I wondered, "What on earth is in these things?!?" I picked one up, I opened it, and after less than two minutes of skimming, I was slammed with foul, obscene, sexual talk that I had never been exposed to before. Quite honestly, I was shaken. I was disgusted. I was embarrassed. I was affected. And then I was horrified and angry as I watched countless Church women grab armloads of the books to cart home.

Now I have sat quietly and observed scores of women - young and old, Christian and non - who are raving about the series, Fifty Shades of Grey, and are about as obsessed with its content and characters as most tweens are with the Twilight phenomenon. I can't sit quietly anymore because I have a passion for purity and for marriage. So I have listed below 15 reasons to avoid Fifty Shades. I don't want to offend and make anyone upset, and I am in no way going to be drawn into a debate. I'm just speaking what I believe the Lord wants someone to say. And I pray we will all have ears to hear and hearts to obey.

15 Reasons to Flee Fifty Shades

  1. It glorifies sex outside of marriage. Of course, it's common these days to have sex outside of marriage, but that makes no difference to my God who said in Malachi 3:6, "I change not." The relationship between Ana and Grey in Fifty Shades is an immoral relationship, simple as that. They are not married, yet they are engaging in premarital sex over and over again. God's Word says to "flee fornication." (1 Corinthians 6:18) If He says it, we should obey it and run from it. Not place a glorifying picture of it on our coffee table or download it onto our Kindle.
  2. It's all about lust. Let's just be honest. People aren't reading Fifty Shades because it is a  literary masterpiece. I'm no fool. It's ALL about lust and the Bible has some strong words against lust. I'd go as far as to say that the root problem for nearly every sin is lust. The Bible says in 1 John 2:16 that the lust of the flesh and the eyes is not of God, but of the world. In James 1:15, it says "Then when lust hath conceived  it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." That's a serious verse, people.
  3. BDSM is praised. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that the marriage bed is undefiled. That means, as long as you stay within God's guidelines, you are free to enjoy the pleasures of marital intimacy. First of all, the couple in Fifty Shades is not at all married, so it's still sin. But even if they were married, it is wrong to beat, harm, be demanding and hateful, controlling, and enjoying inflicting pain upon another.
  4. The book(s) are explicit. You can go ahead and argue that Song of Solomon is explicit. But before you tune me out (if you haven't already) I would like you to sit down and read the whole book of Song of Solomon and then compare the most detailed and "explicit" verse with a basic sexual paragraph from Fifty Shades. Song of Solomon is a beautiful, poetic picture of marital love and intimacy. It is written in allegory and because it is in God's Word and goes according to His principles, it is good. Fifty Shades is nothing more than a trashy counterfeit that's more about "hot-sex-in-the-backseat" than pure and holy marital love. Sorry, but it's true.
  5. It takes the glory away from marriage. Been there, done that. I have had to sit still, biting my tongue, as I've listened to hurtful and degrading remarks from wives about their husbands as they tote a bag full of romance novels to the front desk of the library. I've seen women belittle their hardworking husbands on Facebook and then gush about the hot and steamy "love" in Fifty Shades. NEWSFLASH: Marriage is not like movies and books. Marriage is hard. It is not for the weak, the lazy, or the "pamper-me-princess" type. It takes 110% on both parts and, honey, if you're soaking up the made-up "ideals" in books like Fifty Shades, you're slowly breaking down your marriage, piece by piece.
  6. It's pornography for women. If your husband (I'm including your FUTURE husband, if you're single) excitedly sat down with a Playboy magazine and spent an hour turning the pages, would you be offended? Here he is, gazing at naked women and maybe even excitedly telling you about how great the magazine (or website, etc) is. Let's get real. It is no different. You can try to justify it, but YOU sitting there reading about a man ripping clothes off of his conquest and letting your mind take flight in your own private movie is the same thing... it's porn.
  7. It stirs up discontentment in marriage. I've heard it. "Why doesn't my husband do that?" or "Why can't my husband treat me that way?" Romance novels - and I'm not just talking about Fifty Shades - are written to appeal to women's sexual appetites. They gaze at the "hunk" on the cover or read his detailed description in a book and wonder why their husband can't look like that. They read about a passionate moment and become discontent because they haven't had one "just like that." Ladies, IT'S MADE UP. It's fiction. Expecting our husbands to live up to this make-believe man in a book (or movie, for that matter) is stripping him of HIS glory. God made him the way he is. And you married him. Toss the garbage and focus on your husband. He may not be as romantic as the made-up guy in the book. He may not say the same things in the same way. He may be 50 lbs heavier than he should be. But hey, if you're like me, you probably don't look like a supermodel yourself. My husband loves me. He works hard for me. He is the father of my children. And I adore him. Not for one minute would I think of belittling his good qualities and try to change him into a mold of man some woman made up. No, thank you.
  8. It mistakes lust for love. Reviews say that Fifty Shades is "bringing marriages closer." Come again? All this book does is point our affections to a fake man. Yeah, it may possibly make you run and jump into your husband's arms. But what's the reason? Because you're desperately in love with him? Or because you're in a lustful frenzy brought on by a fake experience? Is it because you find this man God gave you absolutely desirable? Or because you have a mini-movie playing out in your head and you want to act it out for real? Don't mistake cheap lust for love.
  9. It gives unrealistic expectations to the single. If you read Fifty Shades as a single person, you are setting yourself up for disappointment in marriage. All you are doing is focusing on made-up, sinful fantasies from a woman who does not know Jesus Christ. If you want to prepare for marriage, go to the best marriage manual ever written - God's Word. I'm serious. There are plenty of Godly resources and Godly people who can help you become ready and worthy for a great marriage. But mark my words, if you absorb the mentality of romance novels like Fifty Shades, you will not only be ill-prepared, taint your mental and emotional purity, but have a distorted view of how a marriage relationship (or any relationship) should be.
  10. It has the potential to lead to adulteryFifty Shades is full of immoral sexuality. As I mentioned above, it can EASILY lead to discontentment in marriage or unrealistic expectations prior-to marriage. Discontentment often breeds a need to find....well...contentment! And I've heard people say, "Well if I can't find "it" here, I'll go elseware!" Don't say you are above it. Many greats in the Bible failed because they did not guard themselves properly against Satan. Do not be surprised if you find yourself unsatisfied with your husband and begin to wonder how green the grass is across the fence.
  11. It's sex with "No-strings-attached." There is no romantic relationship in Fifty Shades. Only a sexual one. There is no commitment of marriage. Just raw, sexual vomit. As a happily married woman who waited for her wedding day, I can testify that they (and the millions in the world following the same destructive path), have no clue what they are missing.
  12. It's captivated the world. If you take a step back and even open up your Bible and read the history of God's people, you can find that usually whatever is wildly acceptable in the world is anti Christ. Fifty Shades of Grey topped best-seller lists around the world. The series has sold 40 million copies already, worldwide. Book rights have been sold in 37 countries. It has set the record as the fastest-selling paperback of all time, beating the Harry Potter series. Usually, that's a red flag to stay away. Whatever is loved and admired by the world, is usually hated by a holy God. 1 John 2:15 says, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world...
  13. It makes us vulnerable to Satan. Lust begins with the eyes and mind. It's been said that the mind is the devil's playground. By opening our mind up to books like this, we are hanging a big "Welcome" sign to the devil. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Satan would like nothing more than to destroy our marriage, our purity, and our walk with God. And he will use tools exactly like Fifty Shades to fill us with vile, sinful thoughts.
  14. It will mare your purity. Proverbs 4:23 says, "Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life." In other words, if I may paraphrase...."Guard your heart, your mind, and your life in its entirety no matter what it takes, because what's in the well comes up in the bucket." When we fill ourselves with impurity, (and, be honest, Fifty Shades cannot in any way constitute as pure) make no mistake, it WILL overflow. Purity is important, and it isn't solely for the single. Purity is a LIFESTYLE. It physical, but it's also spiritual and emotional too. The Lord says be holy (1 Peter 1:16). 1 Timothy 5:22 says to "....keep thyself pure." It's important while single. And it's important while married.
  15. It will draw you away from God. You may be a Christian and secured in your salvation, but if you soak up perversion and filth, you will not be close to Jesus. Sin drives a wedge between us a God. That's why Christ came and died for us - to bridge that gap and give us a way to Him. When we willfully indulge in sin or toy with evil, we are spitting in the blood that saved us from hell. We are all human. We all make mistakes. We all fail. But that doesn't mean we should frustrate His marvelous grace and embrace sin, while waving the "I'm saved forever" card in His face. Pursue righteousness. Run after Jesus and all that He is. If we try to ride the fence and have our cake and eat it too, we will drift farther away from His blessings and have little to no impact for our Savior.

** Please note that this blog post was written to fellow Christians. If you are not a believer in Jesus Christ, I was not directing this post to you. However, I would love if you would click here to learn more about the Jesus who loves and saves!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

It's a....GIRL!!

Yesterday my husband and I went to have our gender-reveal ultrasound and were shocked to find that our little one is....a....


For some reason, we were both thinking "boy" so when my doctor said, "I do believe you have a little girl in there, Mrs. Lee," my heart momentarily stopped.

"A girl?? A baby girl? A little darling to love on, squeeze, and dress up?"

Oh yes. :)

Since that moment, I have thought about so much, but my thoughts go beyond ribbons, ruffled dresses, baby dolls, and the color pink. I've taken a good look around and I am well aware of the little girls around me. Sadly, most little girls these days are not....little. They are just mini-Marilyn Monroe's. Growing up, I played with dolls until I was twelve or thirteen. I didn't give much thought to boys at all until then. I wasn't preoccupied with my looks. I was a child, not a wanna-be-pin-up-girl. These days, little girls are carrying around iPhones, iPads, texting all the time, wearing loads of makeup, and dancing seductively to Britney Spears. I want the extreme opposite for my baby girl. My prayer for her - right now - is that she will not resemble Paris Hilton, Honey Booboo, Betty White, Hilary Clinton, or any other well-known "example" of girlhood and womanhood. I would rather her emulate Queen Easter, Ruth, Amy Carmichael, Sabina Wurmbrand, and Leslie Ludy. I would rather she have character and inner strength. I pray she will fall in love with Jesus at an early age and make Him the lover of her heart. I pray she will be servant-hearted and kind. I pray she will be pure, set-apart, and passionate for the truth. I want so much for her and, yes, I am aware that I have an enormous responsibility to TEACH her - by word and example - what a lady of the Lord should be. So please pray for me. And pray for her.

It's important for us to pray for our children - even before they are born. Especially given the horrifying statistics around us. We ought to pray for our sons to rise up and champion the cause of Christ, be protectors of purity and righteousness, and seek to be...well, MEN. Strong. Mighty. Noble. And likewise we ought to pray for our daughters to embrace their calling as women; to love the Lord; to be gentle, wise, kind, and beautiful on the inside more than on the outside. I encourage you to begin praying for your children today if you haven't already. They need it. The world needs it too.

So what did we decided to name our little sweetheart girl? I am thrilled to announce that her name will be:

Selah Elizabeth

The name Selah (pronounced "SAY-lah") means: Pause; Rest; Reflect on the goodness of the LORD.

Elizabeth, which is my middle name, means: Consecrated and vowed to God.

Please join us in prayer that she will rise up and fulfill her beautiful name.

Psalm 45:13
"The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Pregnancy Files | Week 20 | baby #2

Currently I am 20 weeks pregnant with baby #2! Halfway there! Tomorrow is our big gender reveal ultrasound! I haven't seen our baby since I was 8 weeks pregnant, which is quite different from my last pregnancy, so I am very excited and anxious to see how much he/she has grown. For now, here is the latest with baby and me.

  • Baby is about the size of a banana.
  • Baby weighs around 10.2 ounces and measures about 6.5 inches.
  • The taste buds are working.
  • He/She is able to gulp down several ounces of amniotic fluid each day!

I am more in awe all the time. As for me....

  • My nausea is gone.
  • I had an extreme bout with dizziness for several weeks, which was difficult, but now it's completely gone. Yay.
  • I am feeling lots of movement and tiny kicks and thumps. It's precious.
  • I have a you can see from the above picture. :)
  • My appetite has been interesting. I haven't had much of one, but I have been craving fruit like mad. I've stocked the house with strawberries, grapes, oranges, apples, bananas, kiwi, and grapefruit. Fruit popsicles ...fruit smoothies...fruit juices....fruit with my meals. But unlike my last pregnancy, I have eaten tiny amounts...hence the small appetite. I'm not concerned, tho. I'll gain it eventually.
  • My energy levels have gone up, but I can crash quick when I've done too much. But I'm thankful I have lots more energy than a few weeks ago. 

Funny how each pregnancy is so different. Can't wait for tomorrow! What are your predictions? Will baby #2 be pink or blue?


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