Dear Brothers, Please Keep Singing

It’s Friday. The start of the weekend and the end of an incredibly encouraging week at Together for the Gospel. “T4G” is a conference geared for pastors that began in 2006 in Louisville, KY and is held biannually. Grant attended 2 years ago, right before our big move to Louisville for him to attend Southern Seminary. The first thing Grant said to me when he got back from T4G last time was, “I want you to come with me next time.”

When the conference was approaching this year, Grant did all the planning to make sure I would be there, “Call your mom, see if she can come in April to watch the girls. If she can’t, I’m calling my mom.”

If it weren’t for his persistence in inviting me and telling me how much he wanted to make this past week a priority, I can honestly tell you I would have said, “Just go, Grant. I will watch online.”

As I reflect over the past week, I feel a deep weight of gratitude for not just my husband, but the godly men I heard teach and lead us this week.

CBMW held a pre-conference the morning before T4G started. Grant is the Conference Director for CBMW and we originally planned for around 200-300 attendees. We were shocked when we sold out at 1300 seats. We then sold another 100 standing room only tickets.

I was blessed by Ligon Duncan, Danny Akin, John Piper, Russ Moore and others who faithfully taught about God’s design for men and women. I also had the privilege of moderating a women’s panel of wives, moms, and a grandmother. After the conference, the women on the panel, myself included, received such positive encouragement from the men who were present in the room, “Thank you so much.”

It meant a lot to me and I’m sure to the other women as well. I couldn’t help but think what a beautiful picture it was of men building their sisters up for the glory of God’s Kingdom.

Processed with VSCOcam with x1 presetAround 8,000 people attended T4G, the majority of them male since it was a pastor’s conference (there were almost 900 wives in attendance). One of the things I loved most about the conference was hearing thousands of men lift their voices in worship to the Lord. There were many songs I didn’t sing because I just wanted to listen to the deep reverberating voices all around me. How grateful I was to hear them.

I pray we will always hear them.

I know that many of these pastors are laboring for the Gospel week in and week out.  Some in large churches, some in small. Some young, some in training, some who have faithfully served for years on end.

Hearing the pastors who preached the Word during the main sessions was equally encouraging. A couple of the pastors who preached I have been listening to since I was a teenager.

Faithful men. Unashamed.

It seems that lately (though I know it has always been this way), godly men have been viscously criticized and torn down for standing by the truth of God’s Word. Sometimes by men. And oftentimes by women.

But how grateful I was to hear them praying. To learn from their preaching. To benefit from their faithfulness.

Dear men of God, please keep speaking up. Please keep preaching.

Your sisters in Christ need you.

We may not always be the loudest voices out there. But we are here. We want to listen. And we are right here praying you’ll keep singing.

 

The messages preached at T4G are now available here.

The videos from CBMW’s pre-conference will be available on their website within a week or two.

You may also purchase T4G worship from previous conferences here.

College Girl

Painted in WaterlogueThere has been a bit of a hiatus with my College Girl series, I know. I’ve decided to write ahead as much as I can so I know where I’m going as I post. Grant is the one who encouraged me to do this and I’m really glad. So, there will be a bit of a delay as I continue writing, but I am still writing. And Lord willing, will post more frequently once I get more of it finished!

As I am writing this series, I’m rereading some of the books I read during my college years. I spent Sunday afternoon rereading Elisabeth Elliot’s, Passion & Purity. I was reminded again what a wonderful book it is! If you haven’t read it, you really should! I’m also planning on pulling out some of my journals (currently in my parents’ attic) I filled during my college years to help me remember the things the Lord was teaching me.

As I write this series, Grant has been faithful to encourage me with Paul’s words to Timothy, “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” 1 Timothy 4:12

I hope this verse encourages your heart as well, young reader. Be bold. Stand for truth. With all your being, live for the One who “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all.”  

 

 

On a different note, if you are going to be anywhere near the Louisville, KY area next Tuesday, join us for CBMW’s National Conference! You can find out more here.

 

 

A Few Book “Reviews”

I had lofty goals of writing lengthy book reviews on this site – both to help my own retention and encourage others as well.

I’ve realized, however, that in my particular season of life, if I spend time writing lengthy reviews I won’t have time to finish the books I am currently reading!

Instead, I’m going to try to share the titles of books I’ve recently read, gleaned much from, and think others may enjoy as well!

ImageThis book. If you are a female, get your hands on a copy of this book! It was just released and I read it in one sitting. Yes, it was a very long sitting, but that’s how wonderful this book is. Your soul will be nourished. Your heart encouraged and yes, convicted. This will definitely be one of those books I will recommend over and over again and reread in the future.

Be Still My Soul. If you are going through a trial, this book will encourage your soul greatly. Elisabeth Elliot’s wisdom is timeless – and that’s because it is rooted in God’s Word. The biggest takeaway I  had from this book is how the shortcut to peace is acceptance of God’s will. Even if you aren’t going through a hard time, I think this book will encourage you, but especially if you are, it will be like water in a dry place.

Instructing a Child’s Heart. This is one of those books I’ve had laying around our place forever but never actually cracked it open to read it. I finally read it last month in conjunction with a parenting class I was taking at Southern Seminary. I really enjoy a book that is packed with Scripture, and this one is.

I’m in the middle of a couple other books and once I finish them I will probably post those as well.

IMG_5175But these last two books are just for fun! I just discovered the wonderful rhyming goodness of Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads the Way. Even though I have girls, these are already favorites (for them and me!). And we are just ever so slightly entering the world of Bill Peet. AudreyKate is still a little young for these books, but I read as long as she will last! I know I’m overly entertained by the personification of inanimate objects and animals.

Hope these titles encourage you.

What are some of your favorite children’s books?

College Girl: Part 2

collegegirl2I can’t believe I’m in college! was all I could think as I walked around campus shortly after my parents and brothers left to drive back to the Lowcountry of South Carolina.

Saying good-bye to them was hard, but I also felt ready to leave home.  I was confident God had brought me to Clemson, so as I stood in front of Littlejohn Coliseum and watched them drive away, I knew I was exactly where God had placed me.

I was thankful my parents felt confident about leaving me too. And really, that’s the way it should be as a teenager matures into adulthood. As a child, my dad and mom clearly established their authority and exercised lots of rules for my good. There were times when I wondered about the restrictions in my life and would sometimes ask, “Why?” They were gracious in explaining the “why” many times especially when there were things they felt I should understand.  But other times they simply said, “We are your parents. This is what we feel is best for you. And that is why.  You will have to trust us.”

As I matured and demonstrated obedience, my parents allowed more freedom in my life.  Instead of clamping down on me as I was approaching adulthood (which can often lead to rebellion), they were able to “let go.”

But even with all the preparation, and even though I was ready, the tears still streamed down my face as I waved good-bye to them. I thought about my mom as their car rounded the bend and I could feel the empty space widening between us. Growing up in a household of all guys, we had a close relationship.  I knew tears were freely flowing from her eyes.  It was hard to believe this day had come. Home was only four hours away. And yet, four hours seemed like so much more. Everything was changing.

I walked back to my dorm later that afternoon. I had requested a high-rise on the opposite side of campus but had been assigned to Young which was a shoebox dorm. It was a girls’ dorm surrounded by boys’ dorms and  a couple of co-ed dorms. I loved that my room was on the top floor. I had a view of the courtyard and could see parts of the sidewalk that ran in front of the building from my desk. In front of Young Hall was a small grassy knoll with a quaint historic white house and study in the backyard. “Fort Hill” was originally the estate of John C. Calhoun, who was both a Legislator and Congressman, and then the house was passed on to Calhoun’s daughter and son-in-law, Thomas Green Clemson.  Upon his death, the estate was left for “the betterment of South Carolina education.”

My room was plain to say the least. The dorm was built in the sixties or seventies and lacked any modern interior design. The floors were some sort of concrete. The walls were white painted cinderblocks. Yes, cinderblocks. The back wall of the room was solid windows from waist level up.

The right side of the room was mine. A desk by the window, bed, closet with shelves, and a small sink and mirror. The communal bathroom was across the hall.

I had met my roommate once before my arrival. I was going to put my name in for a random  drawing because I didn’t know anyone going to Clemson. Since I was educated at home, the pool of students I knew who were going to the same college was significantly reduced. My best friend at the time, who had attended a private high school, was headed off  to another university. Right before I put my name in to be signed up with someone of the university’s choosing, a friend of ours from church told us she had a relative who was going to Clemson and that she was a Christian.

I really wanted a Christian roommate. I didn’t know what the secular environment of college would be like, but I hoped my roommate would be a person I could trust and feel relaxed around.

Lauren was her name. She had arrived on campus a few days before me. Her side of the room was already set up when we got there, which made my side look all the more bare upon my arrival. She was out and about the day my family helped me get my room set up. When she came in the door later on, I knew immediately she would be a whole lot of fun. She had lots of long red hair poking out from a straw cowboy hat, and as she walked in the room her cellphone started going off to “Eye of the Tiger.”

“Phew,” she said as she jumbled to get her phone, “That’s a lot of stairs!” For some reason our dorm didn’t have an elevator that went all the way to the fourth floor.

“Your side of the room looks good, GA!” I’d never had anyone ever call me “GA” before but it soon became a pretty common nickname for me and I’m pretty sure it started with Lauren.

I set up my laptop on my desk and lined up some of my books on the little brown shelf above my desk. Included was a short series of devotional Bible study books that my dad had given me years before. They were about as simple as devotional books come. They contained short questions about the basics of the Christian faith with lots of empty spaces to answer questions and reflect on passages of Scripture. My dad had led our family in devotions with them one year, and I had always really liked them but never finished the whole series.

YoungHallI really wanted to commit my time in college to the Lord. I really wanted to walk with Him and live for Him. By God’s grace, I had always desired that. But my senior year in high school brought a great trial in my young life which solidified those desires in a very real way.

While I was busy preparing for the SATs, I noticed a strange and small bump on my arm. When it didn’t go away, my mom took me to the doctor. “It’s nothing!” he said, without a doubt in his voice. “But we always send these things off to the lab for testing as a precaution, so we will get back with you.”

Some days later, we were at home when I heard my mom talking to my doctor over the phone. “Cancer?” I heard her say. My heart started pounding. What? Cancer?

Then I heard her say Melanoma. Melanoma? 

“GraceAnna,” my mom said very calmly when she got off the phone. “The doctor says the spot on your arm was melanoma. We are going to go in tomorrow and they are going to take a large section of skin out of your arm to make sure it hasn’t spread anywhere in your body. They are pretty confident that your spot was so small that it hasn’t. But they want to be safe.”

I burst into tears. It sounded simple but at the same time, very scary. And why did they have to use the word, cancer?

Isn’t skin cancer for older people or girls who go to tanning beds? I’d never been to a tanning bed in my life.

The days that followed were very hard and yet very faith-forming.

Even as a 17 year old girl, I began to realize that life is very fragile. I imagined the worst case scenario. What if the melanoma had spread and I had to undergo chemotherapy? What if I kept getting melanoma over and over again for the rest of my life?

When I went in for my minor surgery the next day, I quoted Psalm 34 over and over again.

I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the LORD encamps 
around those who fear him, and delivers them.

After the doctor took a larger portion out of my arm, we had to wait a week to hear any news. My doctor was fairly confident that the melanoma hadn’t spread. But he didn’t want to take any chances and he was very serious when he discussed possible implications.

I could hardly eat that week. I stared into the crackling fire in our fireplace and wondered what my future would hold.

What was God’s will for my life? What if He wanted me to die young?

I told the Lord that no matter what happened, I would live fully for Him. It wasn’t an “If you do this, I will…” sort of thing. It was just a moment of reaffirming in my heart what I’d already told the Lord the night I sat on the front porch with my parents as a young child when I first believed.

For every Christian, there are times when God works in our lives – usually through a trial – and we are never quite the same afterward. Our love and knowledge of Him is deeper. It’s 1 Peter 1:7 at work, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

I didn’t know what was ahead. But I trusted Him.

The results came back negative. I was so relieved, yet I was not unchanged. I was conscious even as a teen, that life is short. I wanted to live for the things that were lasting.  Those days had shaped me in a way that I can’t even explain.

I finished lining up my books and unpacking my desk. My room looked neat and tidy but still rather plain. I climbed under my covers the very first night in my new room. I sighed and I wondered if I would be homesick.

I prayed for a few moments, and then before I could think anymore, exhaustion took over and my first day as a college student officially ended.

to be continued…

Reflection Questions:

CGQuestionsPt2

How Complementarian Teaching Shaped My Life

This article is by my dear husband, Grant, and can be found in it’s entirety at The Gospel Coalition. I hope you read the editor’s note at the beginning and consider joining us at CBMW’s National Conference.

Editors’ note: We hope you’ll join our friends at the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at their inaugural national conference on Tuesday, April 8, from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST. Addressing “A Brave New Movement: CBMW and the Gospel,” speakers include The Gospel Coalition Council members John Piper, Ligon Duncan, Kevin DeYoung, and Albert Mohler, along with many others, such as Melissa Kruger and Trillia Newbell. Learn more about the purpose and need for such an event in the following article, written by CBMW conference coordinator Grant Castleberry.

* * * * *

22462_704471157118_3019133_nWhen I was in the Marine Corps, I remember once hanging out with some other officers during the day as we escaped the heat. We were all telling funny stories about that day and taking a few minutes to cool off in the air conditioning. Then one of them tossed a Playboymagazine to me and told me to check out a certain girl. I refused to look. When they all asked why I wouldn’t look, I quoted Job 31:1: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin.” One of them, quick-witted, replied, “I don’t think she’s a virgin.” I couldn’t help but chuckle at his joke. “But all the same,” I said, “I will not look at any woman’s body besides my wife’s.” They all nodded in an understanding way, but in the moment that followed, we all realized something: we did not share the same standard of morality. Awkward silence followed.

I think many Christians have similar experiences as they strive to live out the ethics of the kingdom of Christ in today’s culture, especially in regards to sexual purity and gender roles. They run head on into opposition to the gospel and to Scripture from people they love and care about. In reality, things have not changed all that much over the centuries. In the Graeco-Roman world, when the New Testament was written, the ethics of Christ’s kingdom regarding sexuality and gender were also seen as counter-cultural. That’s what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:3-5 regarding purity:

For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in lustful passion, like the Gentiles who do not know God.

Peter goes on to say that Christian women are co-heirs with their husbands in Christ in 1 Peter 3:7, a thought that would have been seen as revolutionary in that culture:

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

Read the rest of the article here

College Girl: Part 1

Painted in WaterlogueI was filled with excitement the day my parents brought me to Clemson University as an incoming freshman. My parents’ Ford Expedition and my blue, and practically vintage, Mercedes Benz were packed full with all the stuff I thought I would need for the next four years. Four years. It seemed like an eternity!  I would miss them and my two younger brothers who came with us.  How much I wished that my older brothers could have been there too!

As we drove around Clemson’s hilly campus in search of my dorm, I felt like I was officially entering a new chapter in my life. And I was. What I didn’t realize how so very fast those four years would fly by. And while it was a new chapter, it was in many ways  an “Introduction” into my adult life. I would still be under my parent’s authority as a college student, but I would also have a new level of independence. There were daily decisions I would be making that my parents would never even know about. This was the time in my life when the secrets of my heart would be revealed. No one was monitoring my schedule or asking me where I was headed each time I left my dorm. I had more freedom than I had ever had before. What would I do with it? Would I assimilate into the culture around me or would I make faith-based choices that would inevitably set me apart?

I had put my faith in Jesus Christ as a young child. It wasn’t just a “decision” I made because I was raised in a Christian family. It wasn’t just because I was raised in the “Bible-belt,” although I am thankful to have grown up in an environment where many loved the Lord or at least had a respect for Christian values. Even as a child, I was gripped by the reality of my sin and need for forgiveness. This was God’s grace in my life. Even though I would grow in my understanding of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, my love for Christ was genuine. He had loved me first and given His life for me and I wanted to live for Him, no matter the cost.

Because of my faith in the Lord and my desire to possibly serve in ministry one day, I initially hoped to attend a Christian university for my undergraduate studies. But as my senior year of high school arrived, the Lord began to guide me in a different direction through the leadership of my parents.

During high school, I spent my summers doing mission work in Ukraine. Our church held Vacation Bible School camps in villages. Even though I couldn’t speak Russian or Ukrainian, the Lord used those summers to show me how much I loved teaching children. I wanted to do it not just abroad, but in America too.

Before high school, I babysat and nannied from the time I was twelve when my mom signed me up for the American Red Cross Babysitting Course at our local YMCA. I learned how to properly change diapers, attend to skinned knees and tummy aches, and perform CPR. When I “graduated,” I was overly proud of my official babysitter’s certificate. But the more time I spent with children, the more God placed in my heart the desire to be more than a child caretaker. I wanted to build into children’s lives.

When it came time to decide which college I should attend, my parents helped me think through the desires and gifts God had given me.

Where did I see myself in 5 years? 10 years? With my gifting and talents, what major would I personally benefit most from if God blessed me with a husband and children one day? What kind of degree would benefit me if God wanted me to be single for a time or forever? If God blessed me with a family, what if I needed to work outside the home for a season?

I’m thankful my parents helped me think through those kinds of questions because I know I wouldn’t have asked all of them on my own. How could I? I was only 18.

As I look back on this decision-making time in my life, I am more convinced than ever how incredibly important it is for a high school girl to look to her parents for advice – especially if and where she should attend college. It’s immature for a high school student to think that he or she should make big life decisions without the guidance of parents or teachers or pastors. Scripture advises everyone, no matter how old, to seek advice from wise counselors (Proverbs 15:22). As a person listens to wisdom, he or she will gain more of it (Proverbs 9:9).

As a high school student under my parent’s authority, I  knew God’s will for my life would not run contrary to my parents’ authority over me. Authority structures are God’s design, and it’s impossible for a society to function without them.

God had given parents to me, and while under their authority, God would use them to help direct my path, even if at times I didn’t always agree with them. This doesn’t mean that parents are always right. Sometimes they can be terribly wrong. But no matter what the circumstances, as long as parents are not requiring a sinful choice, children are called to honor them and while under their roof, obey them. (Ephesians 6:2-3).

Tedd and Margy Tripp explain submission to parental authority in this way, “Obedience is an opportunity to be part of the order and beauty of creation and is an act of trust in God.” [1]

Obeying my parents was really about trusting God. Did I trust God to lead through them?

As we prayed and decided about where I should attend college, it became clear that Early Childhood Education or Elementary Education would be a good choice of study for me. I started filling out applications for the two universities in my state that had excellent teaching programs: University of South Carolina and Clemson University.

My brothers are USC fans. They didn’t understand why I’d even consider becoming a Clemson Tiger. My brother, Jordan, who was a student at USC at the time made sure I got a phone call from the then President, Dr. Sorensen.

Dr. Sorensen called my cellphone! My cellphone! “I heard you’re thinking about becoming a Clemson Tiger. You don’t need to make that mistake.” 

Thanks, Jordan. Now I feel really bad about applying to Clemson. Well, not really.

After visiting Clemson’s campus in the spring, my heart was set on it. I felt at home there. The people were incredibly kind, the campus was beautiful, and the education program was excellent.

I loved the orange everywhere. The hills. The many southern accents. The sunsets.

When I received my acceptance letter in the mail, I ate a whole king size Butterfinger bar to celebrate.

I was a Clemson Tiger.

to be continued…

Reflection Questions

1. Instructing a Child’s Heart by Tedd & Margy Tripp

A New Series: College Girl

Painted in WaterlogueIt’s hard for me to believe it’s already been three years since I wrote Texas Heart. I wrote Texas Heart mainly for my own benefit but also because I hoped God would use it encourage other young women to trust Him with their future. It wasn’t until I started  receiving emails from young women that I realized how hungry many  are for truth about God’s design for marriage and relationships. They want something more than a fairytale story. They want something real and lasting. But more than that, they want to know and trust the God who loves them more than anyone else ever could.

As a college woman, I was profoundly shaped (and still am), by the writings of Elisabeth Elliott. I’ve never been someone who has been enthralled with fictional romantic novels. For the most part, as a middle school girl, my mom encouraged me to read books that focused on real people, events, and Christian heroes. There were times when I read stories that mirrored real life events with fictional characters.  However, as I entered high school and college, I wanted to read real life stuff.  I wanted to hear about real love stories. I didn’t want to spend my time pining away after some fairytale story of a life (even though I do love a good fairytale! And who doesn’t love Pride & Prejudice?!). But my life wasn’t made up of castles and princes and white horses, but textbooks and normal guys and pick-up trucks and Hondas. As a young woman, I wanted to truly know how to live a life where passion was guided by purity in the real world.

After I completed Texas Heart, I received requests from college girls if I would share personal stories of how the Lord helped me stay pure and grow in Him while in the secular college environment. I’ve been hesitant to start a series like this because I never want anyone to think that I have it “all together” or am writing from a standpoint of thinking I did everything “right.” Far from it! Instead, I want to share about a faithful God who helps the weak and gives strength for godly living through His power. I want to write about a God who is so good and gracious that living for Him is not a duty, but a delight!

Even though as Christians we will fail and our motives are often not what they should be, the power of the cross is for every day. Jesus not only died the death we could not die but lived the life we could not live. This truth sets us free from sin’s power and enables us to live for Him in His strength.

I’m praying this series would accomplish several things:

  • Encourage young women to evaluate and grow in their faith in the college environment.
  • Since I attended a secular university, this will be specifically geared for Christian women in that category. However, I hope this will encourage young women who attend Christian universities as well (especially because the Christian environment is often very secular and at times worse because of hypocrisy among those claiming to be Christians).
  • I also hope this will encourage high school young women who are prayerfully considering college or preparing to head off to college.

I’m planning to write this series the way I wrote Texas Heart, from a narrative standpoint. There were details I left out of Texas Heart that I hope to weave into this story in terms of how the Lord helped shape me for marriage (and singleness) while in college. I want to share some of the hard times, the lessons learned along the way, and the people God used to point me to Him.

I value your feedback along the way!

May Christ be glorified and may we live for the One who unites our heart to fear His name!

“Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.” – Psalm 86:11

Love Him: He Is Your Man

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I can still hear my dad’s voice resonating through the sanctuary the day he married my husband and me, “Dear friends, we are gathered here together in the presence of Almighty God and His holy angels, to unite Grant Robert Castleberry and GraceAnna Maude Broggi in holy matrimony.” It was a sacred moment as we stood before family and friends, but most importantly, God, to enter into a marriage covenant. I had fallen in love with my soon-to-be husband in the year preceding this day, but now my love for him was about to change and grow dramatically. I was about to commit to love him for the rest of my life, not only in word, but also in deed. As Grant’s strong hands held mine, I thought about all the reasons I loved him. Our hearts were so alike in our love for God and our call to ministry, but as I admired how handsome he looked in his Marine Corps uniform, my heart swelled with love for the man that I recognized was oh so very different than me. I thanked God for the man He had so graciously brought into my life to lead me. And that sunny afternoon I made a solemn vow before God Almighty to love, respect, submit to, and help him until death separated us.

Read the rest here at CBMW Family.

Some Trust in Minivans

IMG_2703I love the newest baby and kid gadgets.

The BOB double jogger is literally like an extra limb for me. I have no idea what I’d do without it.

The Joovy stroller is great for in and out of small stores and restaurants.

The Moby wrap was a part of every single outfit I wore for the first four months of each of my daughters’ lives.

The Ergo was a lifesaver when my babies outgrew the Moby.

The bassinet was a blessing.

The baby swing was a “sleep giver” for my first child and for me during her first few months of life.

We just got a trundle bed and I’m amazed at what an ingenious invention it is for small rooms.

We are planning on buying  a minivan for our next vehicle purchase. Have you driven one? They are the most amazing things. Ever. Double sliding doors. A Mary Poppins style trunk. Cup-holders in all the right places.

Amazing.

However, as much as I love the latest and greatest mothering inventions, I never want to overly rely on them or ever fall into the dangerous trap of believing that having them makes me a better mother.

I can be tempted to sometimes think, Wow if I just had ….. (fill in the blank), my life would be so much easier! If I had that, I would be a better mother! 

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My mom as a child in an early exersaucer/chair.  My Grandma has the laundry hanging on the line in the background.

It is true, I am so thankful for many things I have that make my life much easier. My great grandmother and grandmother would have loved many of the gadgets I’m blessed to have.

My great grandmother had to tie her toddlers to the leg of a four poster bed to keep them from wandering off and getting hurt when she needed to complete a task. She didn’t have Bumbos or exersaucers or vibrating bouncy seats.

My grandmother had to set her babies in laundry baskets in the back seat of their car until the carseat was invented.

And for most of my grandmothers, cloth diapers weren’t merely an “eco friendly” or economical option. They had no choice. Cloth diapers it was.

If you’ve talked to your grandma or great grandma about what it was like raising little ones in her day, you’ve maybe been surprised like I was at just how very different things were “back then” than they are today.

Even my mom will sometimes say, “Wow, sure wish they had that around when I was raising y’all.”

I come from a line of strong women. And it had nothing to do with what they had or didn’t have (though they surely knew how to work hard).

There was so much they went without and they were no less wonderful mothers because of it.

And I often remind myself that I am no better a mother for it.

Yes, it does make life easier. And for the most part, safer too. We should be very thankful we don’t have to use a washboard to wash our clothes and hang them to dry every day like our great grandmothers did.

But I am not defined by how much (or for some, how little) things I have or don’t have.

The minivan (which I actually do embrace with all it’s mothering glory) won’t ever define me.

These things help me as a mother. They do not make me as a mother.

God has given me everything I need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).

He’s even provided exactly what I need materially to function well. He knows what I need and what I don’t need, and He has graciously provided.

There’s a verse I love that my sister-in-law, Chesed, reminded me of a couple years back and I loved how she related it to mothering:

“Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” -Psalm 20:7

When David wrote this Psalm, he was referring to the military equipment needed to fight in battle. Chariots and horses were essential to fight and defeat armies.

But King David made very clear that while he used horses and chariots to fight, he didn’t put his trust in them. There’s a big difference. He utilized them. But He trusted in his Savior, the One who is “love” and “justice” and “righteousness” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).

Jeremiah 9 also says:

Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understand and knows Me (vs 23).

All the things God has blessed me with as a mother, whether they be material things like trundle beds or bassinets or an awesome jogging stroller. These are tools. But they are not where my trust lies. My trust doesn’t lie in my mothering intuition, my stylish SUV (if I had one), or how put together (or not put together) I am.

My trust lies in Him.

He is the One who made the women I admire strong.ScannedImage020_020_020

I want to always, always remind myself when I am tempted to rely on my own strength, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but I trust in the name of the Lord my God!”

Nations rise and fall. Gadgets are made and recalled. My wisdom wins and sometimes it miserably fails.

But there is One who is always there. And when I trust in Him, I rise and stand upright (Psalm 20:8).

And that’s something no minivan could ever do.

The Gospel Fuzzies


ImageI am hosting a toddler busy bag exchange at my home tonight and for my activity to share I made a Gospel Fuzzy glove and song sheet. Some of you may be familiar with the Gospel Fuzzies, they are an old Sunday School favorite. Interestingly enough, I couldn’t find anything officially published about the Gospel Fuzzies…just blogposts of people who heard it from “their childhood Sunday School teacher.” However, I did discover that Charles Spurgeon was believed to have first used colors to explain the Gospel in 1866 when he preached at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London. D.L. Moody, Fanny Crosby, and Amy Carmichael all used colors to explain the Gospel as well.

I teach the 2 year old class at our church and the Gospel Fuzzies have become a much anticipated song in class. My sister-in-law, Maureen also uses the Gospel Fuzzies in the 3 year old class she and my brother teach at their church.

I recently posted a picture of the Gospel Fuzzy gloves I was making for my toddler busy bag exchange and I had requests from moms who wanted the song sheet so they could make their own glove.

I thought it might be easier to post the song sheet I created here, especially since this is such a fun way to teach the truths of the Gospel to young children! Other moms might be interested too if they knew about it! Since there isn’t anywhere you can purchase the song to listen to the tune (that I was able to find) , I included a link at the bottom of my sheet of a sweet little girl I found singing it on YouTube. She does sing the tune differently than I learned it from my mom growing up, so I ended up making my own video of the song. If you would like it, just leave your email in the comments section of this post.

Have fun with the Gospel Fuzzies!

The Gospel FuzziesPDF

History of the Wordless BookPDF

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