“Best Advice” we’ve ever received

The past year has been different in so many ways for all of us. Most of us have spent a lot more time at home and a lot less time with people; perhaps we’ve also had to do without or get creative with essentials. And undoubtedly, we have all had to redefine “normal.” Yet even with all the changes, a lot of things have stayed the same–we are still wives, mothers, homemakers, friends–and so some advice we have been given by other women over the years rings just as strong and true today as it ever has. We hope these little nuggets of advice that have been helpful to us will be a blessing to you and encourage your heart as you go about the roles and responsibilities that God has placed before you!

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“There are times when my husband doesn’t deserve my service and that’s when I just say ‘Lord, this service is for you!’”  

A dear friend of mine shared these thoughts at a time when I was really struggling with submission. Her timely comment helped me to remove my husband from the situation in my mind and realize anew that my service is ultimately an act of worship to my God. – Chrystal

 “Make your plans in pencil.” 

A missionary lady shared this with a group of us when I was in Bible College.  The point is that we can make plans but as we make our plans we must remember that God is ultimately  in control and we should hold those plans in an open hand. There have been countless times over the years where I have gone to write something in my planner, set down my pen and gone to find a pencil. There have been many times that I have gone back with the eraser and been thankful for that perspective when I made those plans in pencil.  – Rachel

“When I was having a rough day with my kids, I’d put them in the bathtub and let them play for a while. Some days they took three baths!” 

My older friend shared this with me and we both laughed over it. Her frankness about parenting not always being easy was such an encouragement to me! And it also gave me the freedom to use her idea on my own rough parenting days. – Chrystal

Just do something!” 

When asking an older, wiser woman for advice on how to know God’s will for my life, she gave the illustration of a parked car: it isn’t going to go anywhere as long as it is parked, but once the car is moving, the driver is able to steer it in one direction or another. Similarly, when wondering whether something is God’s will for my life, many times I just need to do something instead of waiting around for the answer to fall in my lap. God will then open or close doors, as He sees fit!   – Angie

“Live your life in such a way that for those coming behind you, it will have mattered that you were here.”

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth shared something along these lines at one of her conferences and I have thought about it many times since then. I may never meet my grandchildren or great-grandchildren but the choices I am making today can make an eternal difference in their lives. – Chrystal

Ask yourself “What can I do now to help make life easier later?” 

This is the question that I learned to start asking when I read The Lazy Genius by Kendra Adachi. As simple as it seems, this question has been so helpful during my current season of life with young children. It has made me learn the importance of redeeming the time and realize how helpful it is to pick up a few toys quickly or do some simple prep for supper during naptime.  – Angie

Empty Cisterns

Have you ever watched the “Mom Song” on Youtube? (If not, you can check it out here. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CXgoJ0f5EsQ

I think we can all relate to the busyness this mom is describing. Some days it feels like we are living a never ending cycle of meals, laundry, bills, groceries and kids who need our physical and emotional energy. At the end of the day, we collapse on the couch, feeling desperate to be refueled because we know that tomorrow will require more of the same energy we used up today.

When those days, weeks or months of busyness hit, where do we find our source of strength to carry on? Often, I find myself wanting to turn to my phone, Facebook, a movie, etc. I want somewhere to go where I can just veg out and have nobody needing or requiring anything of me. After all, I’ve earned a break, right? 

While there is nothing inherently wrong with enjoying any one thing, I have discovered that when I turn to “things” for my refueling they are always sadly lacking in the “life-giving” arena. In fact, I often end up more tired because I’ve stayed up too late phone-scrolling or binge-watching, desperate for some down time to myself. 

Jeremiah 2:13 says “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water.”

Everything we have ever really wanted or needed is found in God, yet, we are so determined to look in every other place imaginable. 

We waste our time digging wells that will never yield anything with which to quench our thirst. We want a refreshing drink but instead of water, we keep on turning up dust.

Jeremiah says that God is “the fountain of living waters.” I love that analogy. A fountain keeps on giving, keeps on pouring. It never stops running. So, when we’re feeling empty, He is the One we need to constantly be turning to for “filling.” 

When we open our eyes in the morning and the kids are already clamoring for our attention, will we stop with the kids and pray that God would give us patience? 

When the kids are down for naps and we’re feeling stretched thin, will we grab a quick drink from the Word before closing our eyes for that much needed nap? 

When we’re feeling short of temper, will we text others and ask them to pray for us? 

When we fail to show kindness to those God has entrusted to our care, will we confess that sin to God and accept the forgiveness He offers? You see, when we choose to run to God, instead of all the empty cisterns that so easily draw our attention, we will find the true rest, true strength and true life we are seeking. It can only be found in Him.

These are a few of our favorite things (Baby Edition)

Because Chrystal and Angie both had babies recently, we thought it would be fun to compile a list of some of our favorite baby items! Some of these items are essentials, but other items are ones that we have found to make life with a baby a little bit easier! (Please note that while some of the links are for the specific brand that we like, other links just go to the broad category of the item because we are just recommending the item in general, not a specific make or model.)

Johnny-Jumper — Get one of these! Not only have all my girls loved bouncing in these but I have loved all the work I’ve been able to accomplish while they are happily entertaining themselves!
Boppy Pillow — This is really helpful during those early newborn days. It can be used for mama to sit on while healing or it can help in supporting and keeping the baby in place while nursing. This is also really nice to use during tummy time, as well as when the baby is learning to sit.
Bandana Bibs — These bibs are super handy (and cute!) during those weeks of endless drool. However, I have found that not all bandana bibs are made equal. I like these particular bibs because of the special fabric on the back that helps protects the baby’s shirt from getting totally soaked. I also like that they have a snap instead of velcro, as velcro often either doesn’t stay on well or can easily irritate the baby’s skin because of the rough texture.
Bumbo Seat & Tray — We used the Bumbo seat and tray as a highchair for our daughter from the time she was about 6 months old until she was about 2 years old and we loved it! Initially the table seemed a little on the small side, but we never had issues with it. Unlike traditional highchairs/seats that have a cover or insert, this model of the Bumbo seat is all one piece (excluding the tray attachment), which makes it super easy to clean out the crumbs that land in it during meals!
Reusable Food Pouches — I initially expected to use these pouches when we were out and about doing errands and such, but because they are not sealed, the food would need to be kept cold. For this reason, they haven’t been as handy to “throw in the bag and go” as I originally thought they would be. However, they have still been super nice for using at home because they help eliminate spills and extra messes. Our daughter uses one everyday when she eats applesauce for her afternoon or bedtime snack! These Baby Brezza pouches are nice because they open on the side of the pouch instead of the top, which makes them very easy to fill and wash.
Baby Monitor– Unless you want to go the video-monitor route, we found that the cheapest monitor at Target worked just fine for audio. Quality and distance were rarely an issue.
Mini Crib– We were pressed for space when we were expecting our first child so we chose to buy a mini crib instead of a full size crib. Now, four kids later, we live in a different house with more space but we’re still using the mini crib. We like that it doesn’t fill up more of the room than necessary and that our kids have had no trouble sleeping in pack n’ plays when out and about because they are used to the same dimensions in their crib. ***(Our kids did outgrow it around age 2, at which point we just moved them into a toddler bed. However, if you want your child in a crib for longer, then this might not be as good of an option for you.)
Pack ‘n play With both of our babies, we have just used a pack ‘n play for their bed and it has worked just fine! Similar to the mini crib, the pack ‘n play has been nice because it is so small; it has also helped cut down on expenses because we didn’t have to get both a crib (for at home) and a pack ‘n play (for travelling.)
Manual breast pump This isn’t exactly a baby item, I found a simple hand pump to be a lifesaver during those first weeks of breastfeeding when I and the baby were still figuring out how to do it! It has also come in handy for the occasional nursing strike!

This list is short and sweet, but we hope you have found it helpful! We know that there are a lot of other really good baby products out there, so if you have an item that you just can’t live without, we would love to hear about it!

Truths that carried us through 2020

2020, a year marked by quarantines, changes, masks and unrest. Yes, my life has looked a lot different this year than I could have ever anticipated, but this one truth in particular has kept coming back to me; the resurrection of Jesus Christ changes everything. This truth has flooded my soul with peace and brought my heart to worship over and over. With so much fear and talk of death this year, I can’t help but be reminded that we live in a fallen world. Covid-19 is just one by-product from the curse of sin. And yet, Jesus Christ came to conquer sin and death! He willingly died on the cross and rose again so that I could experience life, both now and forever.

As a follower of Jesus I do not need to fear death like I once did because “He is the way, the truth and the life” and for the believer who has trusted in Him, “to die is gain.” The Bible tells us that one day God will make all the crooked paths straight, wipe every tear away and that “in His presence” we will find “fulness of joy.” After a year filled with many sorrows, this truth is comforting to me. However, the true life He offers isn’t reserved only for eternity. As a follower of Jesus I also get to experience life from Him, every single day. Jesus Christ has given me access to the Father through His own death and resurrection so that when I am afraid, when my soul feels empty, when my heart finds it hard to love, I am able to go to my God and He calms, fills and energizes like no other.

Over the past 9 months I have listened to the following song many times and it has been just one of many reminders to not forget what Christ’s work has accomplished for me. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow and all of eternity without fear. 

Chrystal


When I think of 2020, I think of COVID: the two are pretty much synonymous. So when I think about what was one truth that carried me through 2020, I cannot help but tie that to the one truth that carried me, and continues to carry me, through COVID. 

When COVID first hit the headlines and our country went into lockdown back in March, it struck fear to the very core of my being. There were so many uncertainties and unknowns about it (and do I need to add that there still are many unknowns?) that my mind was racing with all the potential outcomes of how it could affect my family. Add into the equation that I was expecting our second child, and the question marks about bringing a new life into this world in the middle of a pandemic loomed at the forefront of my mind. 

But God in His mercy, chose to use those days to remind me of His tender care towards His children. Through trivial events like a broken-down vehicle, browned hamburger that spilled all over the floor, and an IGTV devotional clip that I happened to watch, God reminded my anxious heart that He cares about these things that weigh on our hearts because He cares about us, His children. Matthew 6:25-34 points out the futile nature of worrying. Why is worry and fear so futile? Because “if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” 

Will he not much more

God cares for the most everyday and mundane things in the world–the birds and the grass–but we so quickly forget that it is us, humans, who are made in His image. We are His prize creation, not the birds and the grass. 

We are the ones for whom He sent His Son to die for on the cross, not the birds and the grass. 

We are the ones who will one day live in eternity in His presence, not the birds and the grass.

Why then, are we so foolish to think that God would care for the birds and the grass, but not us?  

Will he not much more?

God is our Father and He promises to care for us.  When we are tempted to doubt His compassion and care for us, James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” In 1 Peter 5:7 then, we find instruction on what to do when our hearts are troubled and anxious: we are told to cast “all [our] anxieties on him, because he cares for [us].” [emphasis added]

Is there any doubt that God will always take care of us? 

Grabbing hold of these truths of God’s sure and steadfast care for me, His child, during those beginning weeks of COVID was such a balm to my anxious heart. Yes, there might be still be great pain and sorrow in store for me and my family. Yes, life might become less comfortable than what I’m used to it being. But I can still rest in the truth that God is my Father and He will care for me. 

Angie


God’s got this.

I’ve said these words many times over the past year. I say it as much to myself as to my listeners. 

My heart has needed the truth of God’s sovereign control more than ever during 2020. 

I love planning, making lists and crossing things off my calendar as complete. 

It has been so good for me to take an eraser to my plans and say “if the Lord wills, I will do this or that”. 

This past year has exposed my heart’s desire to be in control. In the midst of our world feeling strange and swirling with unknowns, it has shown me that I never was in control in the first place. Rather, it was a feeling of control. Yes, 2020 has been hard but it has been good for my heart to recognize that no matter my feelings, no matter the circumstances God is, has been, and always will be in total control. His plans will always be fulfilled. God’s sovereignty is a truth I have always known but 2020 has made this truth come alive; a truth which I cling to and find rest for my soul in.

Rachel

Why I Write

Why do I write?

I’ve been thinking about this lately because I’m about to enter a season of transition as we
welcome baby #4 to our family and have been wondering if I truly have time for writing.


In short, the answer is yes.


Why? Because writing is a tool God is using to help shape and fashion me into His likeness.

  1. Writing helps me to process swirling thoughts. Thoughts that I often don’t take time to
    sort out otherwise. Sometimes, God has been nudging me in multiple different ways with
    one truth that I need to take the time to process and until I actually write it down, it’s just
    up in my thoughts where I’m saying “Yeah, yeah. That’s a good truth. I’ll get around to
    addressing that at some point in my life.”
  2. Writing stretches me. Sometimes when I think about writing a post on a certain topic it’s
    an area I’m really struggling in. I think of how unqualified I am to write about that topic
    when I’ve been failing to apply the truths I am also presenting. However, oftentimes God
    has reminded me that He doesn’t need me to be perfect in order to use me and that the
    very act of writing out truth can be a tool He uses to refresh and cement my own straying
    heart.
  3. Writing is a hobby for me. I find it relaxing and inspiring to gather words into sentences
    and paragraphs in order to express thoughts or passions.
  4. Writing can encourage others. In small ways and big ways, the writing of others has
    helped to shape and fashion who I am today. Whether it’s a deep, theological book or a
    quick blog post on a day when I need some encouragement, both can have a profound
    impact on the next choice(s) I make. And while most people will never know the impact
    their writing has had on me, it’s reach is often further than they realize.

So, while it may be foggy, imperfect and sparser than I’d like in the days ahead, I plan to keep on writing. And I hope God continues to shape both me and others through the gift of words.