Thursday, March 31, 2011

the 3 loves of Hannah

As a wife, mom and a woman of God, I am on a continual journey to "work out my salvation in fear and trembling" (Phil 2:12) within the ministry God has given me.

I desire to love extravagantly as I know this is what the Lord has called me to. My biggest mission is to love. Love the Lord my God with my entire heart, mind, soul and strength" (Deut 6:5); love my husbands and love my children (Titus 2:4), and my neighbor as myself (Lev 19:18b).

Hannah, was a woman with three great loves in her life. Heaven, her husband, and her home.

I want to be like Hannah.


"She [Hannah] was a devout woman whose affections were set on heavenly things, not on earthly things. Her desire for a child was no mere craving for self-gratification. It wasn't about getting what she wanted. It was about self-sacrifice, giving hersef to that little life in order to give him back to the Lord." (reference)

Hannah's prayer life wasn't self centered. She didn't ask for a son for her sake or for the sake of her husband even (though that would not have been a wrong motivation). She didn't wanna stick it to Peninnah and go "aha!"

She requested a son so that he may be given back to the Lord.

It wasn't a spiritual thing either... She wasn't just giving Samuel to the Lord "spiritually" while he remained with her. No, she gave him up to the Lord completely. She desired to bear a son for God's temple. It wasn't about her gain, but rather the gain in and for Heaven.

Hannah was comforted by the Lord in prayer, she literally unloaded her burden before the Lord and left knowing He was faithful. (more on this later, I'm just kinda laying a foundation on her love for Heaven)

Hannah loved the things of Heaven more than she loved herself and the temporal.

I wanna be like Hannah.


"Hannah's love for her husband is the first key to understanding her profound influence as a mother." (reference)

Hannah loved Elkanah deeply. And he loved her back.

"Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad? Am I not better to you than ten sons." (1Sam1:8)

Hannah showed great respect, submission and love to Elkanah throughout the story of 1 Samuel 1. She held him in great regard and was therefore able to be an amazing mother to Samuel and have a lasting impact on his life.

Too often, we forget that our relationships with our husband and the love we have for them is a deep and lasting lesson we teach our children on a day to day basis.

Hannah loved Elkanah, despite the disfunction in her family. Hannah loved him deeply, despite the fact he married another. Hannah loved him despite the fact that he gently corrects her in the midst of her pain. Hannah loved him despite every circumstance and struggle they encountered.

If anything, their love grew stronger.

I wanna be like Hannah.


When Hannah was granted Samuel, she devoted herself entirely to his care during the first few years of his life.

She gave up Church services and stayed home with him with a willing heart. (1Sam1:22-23). Her ministry was completely and entirely revolving around her home.

Hannah didn't have a blog where she can minister outside her home and reach other homes. She didn't have Titus 2 Moms groups to support her nor where she could minister. She didn't have the opportunity to pour into youth as a leader. She even forsook the house of prayer for three years to devote herself to her home and her child.

And the outstanding part. She did so willingly. She asked Elkanah to stay home. She had no desire to minister outside her home.

She was perfectly content and satisfied with the ministry of the home; both to her child and husband and to the Lord.

I wanna be like Hannah.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

the heart of Hannah series

I have recently (and I mean during my time with the Lord today) been enamored with Hannah from the Bible.

You know Hannah. She wept bitterly and cried before the Lord and begged Him for a son. And she promised if she got one, she'd give him back to the Lord.

She asked, only to give back.

Oh Hannah. She has truly captivated me, and I am now on a mission to find out everything I can about this outstanding, unremarkable woman.

I encourage you, wife and mama, to read 1 Samuel 1 and to walk through Hannah's journey right alongside her. Ask the tough questions, get into her heart and into her mind and be transformed by one of the most understated women in the Bible.

It has been a little while since I have encountered such rich text in Scripture. Not because of Scripture itself, of course... But rather because of my distraction and lack of study.

Nevertheless, Hannah is my rhema word.

It goes right along with my marriage journey and then a little further... So for the moment, let's park in 1 Samuel 1 and chat, shall we? I have decided to do a series-ish of blog posts on Hannah. On the amazing truths I have founds, the encouraging and thought-provoking quotes I have found in commentaries from greater minds and on the practicals of what it means to have the heart of Hannah.

Oh, this is my prayer. I want to have Hannah's heart. I want to be like Hannah.

"Jesus, grant me the heart of Hannah. Her dedication as a mother, her submission to her husband, her prayer-life, her understanding of who You are, her ability to justify herself with lack of bitterness and with love in her heart and lips. Oh Jesus, make me like Hannah!"

Monday, March 28, 2011

The heart of God

The more that I spend in prayer seeking the Lord on behalf of my family, the more I am convinced of one thing.

Marriage is at the very core of the heart of God. It is His very heartbeat.

It truly grieves my heart to see how neglected the covenant and institution of marriage is and has been in the Church.

We tend to place an unnecessary focus on public ministry and individual ministry rather than on the beautiful ministry of the family and home. Meeting requirements and "serving" becomes the focus of our messages when all along, God created marriage to be the greatest sermon ever preached.

So, I am on a journey. I am going to spend the next few weeks digging deep in the Word of God, praying and asking for revelation and His heart for marriage.

I'm gonna have some company along the way. Wanna join?

-- Bill Humphrey, IHOP-Atlanta's director did an 8 part series on marriage. Caleb and I listened to the first teaching and I can honestly say, it rocked our world! We will follow these series, "Glory of Marriage" and spend some time daily in praying in these truths. =)

-- I'll also be reading a few books on marriage. I am going to finish "The Excellent Wife" by Martha Peace and go through "Sacred Marriage" by Gary Thomas.

-- I am *hoping* to blog daily encouragements to the wives out there, and sharing what He is showing me.

In the meantime, I would love to hear your stories on love, marriage and holiness.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Encoragement for Mamas!

As mamas, it is so easy to become discouraged and forget how much our feeble hearts move the Lord. I had a very challenging week this past week. Aaliya was double sick plus teething; Caleb had strep and an upper respiratory infection. And, I was one very very exhausted tried and tested Mama. I can't say I passed with flying colors. I was on the verge of flunking. And then, Matt Gilman reminded me. He had to remind me several times before I got the hint, but I eventually got it. So, I wanted to share this video with the song "Do you know the way you move Me?" where Matt Gilman sings it and during the time of worship, he breaks forth in a spontaneous song which moved me. And as a mama, I believe it'll move and encourage you to know and remember that He is undone by a single glance of Your eyes. That if all you can get in during the day is the Psalm that you shared with the kiddos during devotional, that very glance in His direction ravishes Him! Every motion of our heart towards Him undoes Him... And He chooses to be undone by you! Watch and be encouraged Mamas!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

a day at the park...

This past weekend was a blast! Here are some pictures from our day at the park! :) I meant to post these Monday, but baby has been so sick with the flu and an icky ear infection. Please keep our family in prayers as we battle this thing out. :)

Aaliya goes down a slide for the very first time :)

Grandpa was there every step of the way, helping out his little princess

And of course, first time on a park swing!

But first, she rode with grandpa!

Her big sister did an awesome job pushing her!

Big sister did so great going down the big slide. ;)

Grace :)

Loving on daddy. UFC style... hehe

And of course, for Sunday morning, we had to dress baby up...
This was the first time we got a clip in her hair! :)

an excellent mother

Two years and seven months into this parenting business and I'm just now starting to understand something.

To be an excellent mother death to self is mandatory, not an option.

Our society is marked by a culture where television plays the babysitter and so long as the physical needs of a child are met, you're doing just fine.

But parenting is such a big calling. It's seriously, huge. It is an honor and a privilege to live out Deuteronomy 6 as a Christian parent and to understand these little lives are given to us to steward.

An amazing mommy friend of mine, Melany sent me a text message filled with encouragement during one of my many melt-down moments. (Don't you love having amazing fellowship that sharpens and strengthens you in weakness?!) And this is what she said...

"Don't you ever think you're a bad mom. Don't forget that Jesus hand-picked you to be Aaliya's mommy and Daniella's stepmommy. He doesn't make a mistake and he trusts you to raise them up to live for Him."

Truthfully dying to self to parent is a lost art within our culture. We live in a day where public school* provides a "break" for many mommies, despite the lies it teaches our children and we'd rather give our children what they want instead of joyfully disciplining them admist their tantrum.

Dying to self comes in so many little opportunities every day...

It's getting up thirteen times during the time you're "unwinding" because your little one is teething and she just want lots and lots of TLC.

It's playing with your five year old instead of sitting and reading because you know that's her love language.

It's answering the one-thousandth "...but why?" question because you know their curious little minds mean no harm and they're trying to make sense of their world.

It's waking up early to seek the Lord on their behalf so that He may speak to you about your children's personality and download what He wants you to teach to them today.

It's excusing yourself from the group of people you're hanging out with to put the baby sleep because you know she can't sleep in such noisy, alternative environments, even though you were having a blast.

It's giving up your job, your ministry or your "calling" to take the low road of joyfully changing diapers, reading stories and jumping up and down in a silly way so that your children may learn to praise the Lord, undignified.

It's little things we choose each day. Like when we choose Jesus over TV. I want to choose my children over self.

"Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves." -- Phil 2:3

*Please note: I do not feel as though mothers who send their children to public school are poor mothers. My only purpose in using this example is so that we may all examine the motive of our hearts as mommies.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

honoring their father

The word honor is by far one of my favorite words in the english language. Honor as in the verb, not the noun.

The verb is, after all, towards someone else the noun tends to be self-centered.

And as a wife, the Word calls us to honor our husbands and to raise our children to honor their fathers.

I got the rare opportunity, as a mommy of two, to sleep in yesterdat. Ahh, the joys. And of course, I've got my amazing husband to thank for that.

When I finally woke up (at a ridiculous hour which I will not share!), hubbers was ready to go to fix his car with one of the elders of our Church. He threw in the hint that the house was messy (of course it is, with two kids and little "Sammy" being with us).

I had a choice to make right at that moment in time. I could've blown it off and just focused on my morning and my day. Or I could use it as a teaching moment for Daniella.

So, with God's grace, I chose the latter and for the first time (at least knowingly) I got the opportunity to share with her how we can honor Daddy by doing as he's asked. Cleaning, a normally drudgeful job filled with "but why's" followed by the very minimal requirement, suddenly became a joy.

Daniella was looking for ways to work diligently and excellently!

She desired to honor her Daddy. And the joy she exuberated when Daddy came home and she got to show off the amazing work she'd done, lit up my entire weekend and fueled my heart to continue on in this journey called Motherhood in an excellent way.

I have learned that in teaching our children to honor their fathers, we are truly teaching them to honor their father in Heaven. If they learn to desire to honor their Daddy's (which we all inherently do), then honoring their Heavenly Fathers by living a holy, set apart and consecrated lifestyle will be a joy and not an impossible standard set.

What about you Mommy friends, how do you teach your children to honor their father?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

creative Christianity

I woke up this morning, fed Aaliya while super groggy and still half-asleep, I cuddled with her and then as she dozed off for her nap, I had a mini shut-eye for 15mins. Then, I woke up, got ready for my day and sat down to spend some time with the precious Holy Spirit.

And then, a knock at the door. Sammy's here. So much for time alone with the Lord. Sighh.

I am but a novice in the Mommy department and I know things are significantly easier since I really only have two of my own, one of which I share half the time. When I don't have Sammy, it is super easy to spend time with Jesus and get things done. But, Sammy is a sort of preparation for a larger family, so I find myself unable to do the same things I ws doing before to spend time with Him.

It is a new season...

Much like in Song of Solomon 2 when the Bridegroom declares, "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along." (v.10) Mommyhood is this entirely new season where the Lord is calling us to arise and mother. Yet, like the Shulamite we tell Him to turn away from us, intimidated by this great call. So much like the Shulamite again, we seek Him whom our soul loves the same way we sought him previously (in previous seasons of our lives), over and over again expecting the same thing, but getting zero results (Songs 3:1).

Mommyhood is altogether a new season in every facet of life, including our walk with Jesus. So, setting aside time to feed our spirits will look entirely different from that of a college student, a mother with older children and a retired individual. It just does... But, that doesn't mean that we get to just be Marthas without having the joy and intimacy of sitting at the feet of our Beloved Jesus.

So, again... I am no expert, but here are some practical ways I have learned to feed my flesh while doing the "mundane" so to speak.
  • Prayer Room Atmosphere: This is directly related to our last post on being the barometer of the home, but always have some sort of worship music playing in the background. The Holy Spirit delights in our worship to Him, even if it's right smack in the middle of changing a poopy diaper, preventing our own personal melt down or while dusting furniture. Truly, He delights in the very effort of our hearts, and the atmosphere of worship will tenderize our Spirits to listen to Him more keenly.
  • Be wise with your time: Attempt to place your children on a schedule where at least once a day, they take a nap at the same time. Then, use that time for one on one with Jesus. Don't worry about the laundry or the dishes or dusting or ironing. Spend that quiet time in your home as a sacred time with the Holy Spirit. Even while ministring as a mom and a wife, we must still keep Jesus first and prioritize Him above all else!
  • Faith comes by hearing: Listen to teachings from your favorite speakers while you are cooking or dusting or vacuuming. As the kids are entertained with another activity, pop in your ipod (with one headphone so that you can still listen and keep an eye out on the kids) and listen away. There are also numerous apps and resources where you can listen to the Word of God. I did this yesterday while cooking and loved it! We are also playing the Word every night as we sleep. :)
  • Sacrifice: Even though I am failing miserably at my maximize your morning challenge, I still stand with the conviction that waking up early is an absolute must for mamas, including myself. That time at dawn is so sacred and beautiful, that I can almost guarantee nothing we do throughout the day will match that.
These are just a few simple suggestions and again I am by no means a pro. But I really believe this is the time to be feeding our spirits consistently and the ministry of wife and mommyness should not stand in our way. :)

What creative ways do you incorporate in spending time with Jesus as a wife and mommy?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

a partner in parenting

As a Mommy, I aim to do my very best every day, all day. But I must say, I fall short. Pretty dagg-on often.

I remember not being a Mama and thinking I would have it all together when I had my children. Mua-ha-ha. Yeah, in those days I thought I had it all figured out. It was kinda like my thoughts on my Pottery Barn catalogue home.

So not what I had in mind.

I have learned that I don't have it all together. I try my very hardest to show the love of Christ, but my children, often reject me. Daniella shuts down and Aaliya has an oober melt down complete with a mini-tantrum (yes, this stage has started wayyy early. We will be building her character asap). All my efforts to show Christ, to raise them up in the ways of Jesus come tumbling down and my hopes for a melt-down free home come down with it.

And then I remember how unbelievably inadequate I am to be a mother. But in this moment of complete brokeness and frustration, the sweet, ever-present whisper of the Holy Spirit reminds me that "it is not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit..."

Ahh, yessssss. I remember that in parenting, I am not in it alone.

"But the helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you." (John 14:26)

He has given me quite an amazing parenting partner when you think about it. I am partnering with my husband and the best Father in all of human history. The Father who gave it all for love and who with a beautiful balance both disciplines and caresses His children unto maturity.

In moments when Caleb and I are not entirely sure what to do, I have to remind myself that He is perfect and He is the perfect Father, so He is my example and He teaches me all things. Including how to be the very best Mommy He has designed me to be. He has given unto me the Holy Spirit and regardless of how short I fall, because I have given my children to Him, He will perfect my children in His perfect ways.

I am just a vessel He is using to parent my children. So, weakness here I come. I will embrace you, trusting that my good Father in Heaven will more than make up for how short I fall and will use me as I pour my heart out over my children in praise and adoration to Him.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

the barometer of the home

Most of 2010 was a year of adjustment for Caleb and myself. There were a lot of transitions and a lot of changes going on (and may I say, a lot of hormones!).

We celebrated our first anniversary and found out we were expecting our precious baby girl. We jumped back into our home Church and the prayer room. We moved (twice), and we were both working full time jobs. On top of that, our characters were being sharpened and we were just unwilling to budge.

My home was a wreck! It was an unpleasant atmosphere both physically and spiritually and neither one of us enjoyed being home alone and/or for long periods of time.

Little did I know, that part, there was no one else to blame but myself.

Before we got married, my amazing brother-in-law Christopher (who also performed our wedding ceremony and did a fabulous job, if I do say so myself) sat down with us and had an "un-official counseling session." He gently yet firmly explained to us both the roles in which we were about to step into. Caleb is the head of the home, I am the barometer. It is up to me to set the atmosphere in our home.

I didn't fully get it that time. And then one day, in a moment of desperation, hopelessness and complete abandonment before the Lord, He spoke to me, in His faithfulness with a gentle rebuke and a sweet caress to my broken heart...

"Create a place where it will be easy to seek Me..."

And that was that... I began my journey to set the spiritual atmosphere of our home, understanding that when I obeyed that command He would fulfill the rest of His promises for me.

I believe it is so very important for wives to understand their God-given responsibility to create the atmosphere in their homes. With our homes as our domain it is up to us to "create such an atmosphere where our husband as well as other family members will look forward to coming home."* If we don't like being home, it is no one's fault but our own. We have been given the home as our domain, not our husbands and that is our prime responsibility.

So, how do I practically set the atmosphere in our home? I'm glad you asked. I've compiled a few of the things I do to create a pleasant and inviting atmosphere in our home both physically and spiritually.

  • I like to play worship music all day. Sets the tone spiritually to worship as a family later in the evening. And quite honestly, it frequently keeps me from "losing it" throughout the day.
  • I limit the amount of television and secular media that is played. Secular media is not a positive, godly nor holy resource and therefore allows for violence, anger or seduction to enter into our home. And Momma just won't have that!
  • I ensure that dinner is started by the time Caleb gets home and I tidy up the house so that he comes home to a relaxing place after having worked hard for us all day long.
  • Always always always speak exhortations and Scripture! "But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness." (2 Timothy 2:16)
  • Pray at home! Prayer is the greater work with which we conquer mountains and giants. When I spend time in prayer for my husband, my children, my family and guests, conversations and visits are always pleasant and glorifying to the Holy Spirit.
  • If nothing else gets done around the house, always prioritize your master bedroom. It is the place of intimacy and rest for your husband and you. Having a place in which to "getaway" will do wonders for communication, unity and intimacy (both spiritually and physically).

I'm not an expert or anything, but it's just a few things I've done that have helped, so I thought I'd share! :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

maximize mornings update and breakfast woes

So a few weeks ago, I wrote a post on how I was on a mission. I was on a mission to Maximize my Mornings. To be transparent and quite honest. This blog post will probably fall under the "blunder" and/or "epic fail" category.

For a few days I was quite amazing. I was up by 630a and I was fully able and capable to function the rest of the day. Naturally, I was under the covers earlier, but it was actually quite nice and I was loving it! Then, I hit some sort of funk and found myself super tired all of the time. It even got so that I woke up for Aaliya's 730a feeding, she would lay with me in bed and I would nap with her during her morning nap (which is normally around an hour after she wakes up to eat). I was sleeping in until 10-11am!

Talk about epic fail.

Recently, I've been getting back on track (slowly) to where I'm waking up between 7a and 730a, feeding Aaliya and then continuing on the rest of my day and skipping my morning nap. Even though this is improvement, I really desire to make the most out of my days and wake up before the sun rises as Proverbs 31 encourages us to do.

"She rises also while it is still night and gives food to her household and portions to her maidens."
--Prov 31:15

I desire to bring food to my household both physically and spiritually... So, let's take a look at what this looks like.

Physical Food

In speaking with Caleb a few weeks back and talking about the things which he desires of me, one very simple thing he requested. Breakfast in the mornings. See, I haven't been the Mommy nor Wife that serves breakfast to her household. I've been the "spend entirely too much money for pre-made breakfast sandwiches" and fend for yourselves Momma. Sooo not cool.

My biggest issues with breakfast?

Waking up early is definitely one of them. After all, Caleb leaves to work around 730a which would require me to wake up around 630a to make a decent and simple breakfast and give him enough time to eat it, versus always going on the run.

My second biggest issue? I'm so not a morning breakfast person. My breakfast consists of coffee and whatever else I can get together, if anything. (Yes I know this is a very bad habit, let's take baby steps here people!) My husband on the other hand requests a high protein, practically glutten free diet. So, his breakfast requests are eggs (yuck!) and such. I don't mind making breakfast, but can we meet halfway here?

Ehh. Anyway, I am very much requesting any breakfast recipes that you want to share. If they are high protein without including eggs, you get a gold star!

Spiritual Food

I firmly believe Proverbs 31 is both a practical and spiritual application to wives and mommas. Therefore in verse 15, as quoted previously, part of its meaning (as revealed to me by the Holy Spirit) is a wife who can share Rhema Words with her family throughout the day as the Holy Spirit revealed to her in her morning devotional time with Him.

I desire to be a wife and mom who feeds her household spiritually. As a homemaker, it is my responsibility to set the atmosphere in our home, and I desire to set an atmosphere where it is easy to seek the Lord and my words and encouragement can help do that.

So... where does that leave me?

Asking God for the grace to wake up early and take it one step at a time. My current goal is to wake up early enough to serve my husband breakfast. I want to tackle the physical first because I am able to spend devotional time with the Lord later on in my day. Though not ideal, I believe the Lord will honor me as I seek to honor Him by honoring my husband in this small, seemingly insignificant manner.

So, let's shoot for 645a tomorrow, shall we?

Friday, March 4, 2011

That icky, nasty four letter word


Now that's a pesky unloved four letter word for the women in our day.

In this feminist, socialist culture we live in, "I am EVERY woman, it's all in ME..."

Women are seeking to wear the pants in society yet complain they are not being romanced, pursued and loved. What man wants to pursue a man? (this is strictly rhetorical and the answer to which belongs on a completely different blog and post!)

As I pray and am truly seeking out how to become "The Excellent Wife" Proverbs 31 talks about, my eyes are being opened to the topsy-turvyness of our culture. Yes, even Churched-culture.

Ephesians 5:22 is a very controversial verse in our day and age. And yet, it is so simple...
"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord."

With all due respect, it's not exactly a deep theological truth here. It's cut and dry. We as women are called to submit. And truly, is there not honor in anything the Lord has called us to do?

Think of all the honors we experience as women... We carry life and bring it forth. We nourish life with our very bodies. We establish the atmosphere in our home with our responses and our actions. We were created from the very thing that holds man's heart. Do we really think the call to submision is less honorable?

I am learning the beauty and the grace found in submission. I am by no means an expert (hardly an intermediate, if I've even graduated), but my eyes are being opened to the truth found here.

Churches, ministries and the lost forsake the family for lesser ministries that the Lord has never called us to. Pastors miss out on showing their own children and wives the love of the Father and Bridegroom Christ for "the sake of souls."

Please do not misunderstand my heart here. With the calling to any form of ministry (which we all have), there must be sacrifices. I completetely understand and can honor this. However, our first ministry is always to be the family. My eyes are being opened to this truth, and I will not apologize for it.

I am comitting to seeking out this truth, this beauty of submission and I would like to exhort you to do the same. In evaluating my heart posture towards my husband, I desire to see him with the eyes of Christ and to love him with the heart of Christ. I desire to submit to my husband in a way that my Father in Heaven may be glorified so that with the word of our testimony, we will break the back of the feminist movement, the curse of divorce and the misunderstanding of the truth and beauty found in submission.