The End of All Things Is At Hand

February 14, 2011 at 1:40 am (Announcements, Articles, Attitudes, Godly Living, Worship) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Abigail

At sweet sixteen, my Shadow and I decided to start a business, catering tea parties.  We’d grown up hosting them and it was high time to cash in our experience and make our etiquette pay for itself.  “Tea by Two” we called our party hosting, and drew out menus, business cards, flyers and wrote up advertisements.  We collected dishes and hats, tried out recipes and bought up ingredients.

You might think I’m going to say the venture flopped.

It didn’t.  It took off before we’d gotten in the cockpit!  Without even advertising, we landed several parties in less than a month, with requests to go out of town for more.  We turned over all our investments and pocketed a tidy little sum each.  It looked like we were gearing up for a roaring business.

Then something happened.

You might think I’m going to say that the venture crashed.

It didn’t.  But my Shadow came to me and said, “Um…I can’t keep up with this.  I hate to do this…but can I bail before this thing is flying too high?”

I was relieved.

We were sixteen.  Still trying to wrap up school and keep up with serving our families.  Neither of us had our own car.  Neither of us really wanted to dive into filing self-employment taxes.  We didn’t really want to travel very far for parties.  We were borrowing my family’s kitchen and freezer space.  We really only did it for the fun of having a little side deal.  And, we discovered, the pressure of performing made the tea parties not quite the same as the ones we’d hosted for friends.  After a few, it was okay to put that in our file of things that we could do in the future.

Folks seemed surprised when we relegated the project to “good memories”, deposited our earnings in the bank, gave away our dishes and hats and moved on.

But sometimes we have to lay aside even good things or things that are going well and refocus on priorities.

This blog has been a bit like my catering experience.

See, Lauren and I had become such good friends and, after she and Nathaniel got married, we talked so much about women’s issues and what we were learning—and how it was really the same, married or single—that we got excited.  First, we were going to write a book.  But book writing was a bit more intense than we were really shooting for.  That’s how we settled on a blog.

I don’t think either of us expected it to take off quite like it did.  We’re nobodies.  We don’t have famous dads or husbands.  We’re not really a part of many of the conservative movements.  We didn’t really even know there were other girls out there like us online.

Then came the dilemma.  Should we actually work this blog and try to go big?  After all, blogging is a platform to voice the things we think are true.  We were beginning to get advertisement requests, giveaway offers, reposting requests, awards, listings and even guest writing requests.  And of course, the inevitable mountains of spam as well as a few nay-sayers.  As we began to look around the web at other websites, we began to understand just how seriously blogging could be taken.

Slowly we began to be a little disturbed by how many girls there were online—and how much time was spent online—and how much girls were being influenced by online teachers whom they had never even met.  Including us.

We’d always agreed to keep the blog low priority.  I suppose some can call it ministry, but our primary ministry will always be to our families and to the folks God has placed in our sphere of natural contact.

As time has passed, Lauren now has, not only a big man to take care of, but also a little man to train and teach in the ways of the Lord.  She’s developing relationships with a great church body and trying to outreach to neighbors.  She’s been fine-tuning budgeting and homemaking skills and learning to balance time.  The internet can sure knock a hole in good time management!  And now she’s discovered a new blessing and responsibility, due in September.

So when she told me she needed to stop blogging, it was a relief.  For me, handling the webmastering had been complicated, since I’ve never actually had reliable internet.  Aside from difficult, it also made me feel guilty.  It seemed like, if we were going to blog, and people were going to read it, it needed to be done well.  Plus, we both appreciate presentation.  You know, new content, nice layout, domain name.  The works.  And I didn’t have time or accessibility for “the works.”  For both Lauren and I, we discovered that blogging began to suck the life out of our private relationship with the Lord.  If we discovered something in scripture or were convicted about an area we needed to grow in or if something rankled us or if we learned a powerful lesson or walked through a hard time, we felt compelled to share.  Like we were withholding something valuable from ladies who depended on us.  It became difficult just to worship humbly before the Lord, because others were watching.  And we became increasingly aware that, well, neither of us really need to be putting ourselves forth as teachers right now.

We’re both young women.  With lots of life to live and people to serve.  And things to learn.  And it’s lovely to share what God is doing and teaching us, but our priorities still have to be our families and those whom God has placed in our natural sphere of contact:  those who know us and see our lives, who can encourage us and grow with us and teach us and hold us accountable to practice what we preach.

And we encourage you to make those your priorities as well.

Yes, we’re bailing before this thing is flying too high.

From Lauren:

First I’d like to apologize that this post didn’t make it up a couple of months ago.  And I would cite this as just one of the many reasons I am glad to be saying good bye to blogging.  I have a lot to learn about time management (among other things)!  And, in truth, it was about six months ago that I first talked to my husband and then Abigail about quitting.  What prompted me?  Well, I read Jasmine’s good-bye post on her blog where she described the upcoming release of her new book and her excitement over all the things she would be free from and free to do once she stopped blogging.  Strangely, I found myself feeling jealous—no, not of her having a book published (that had me quite excited!), but of the freedom she expressed.  I took a walk and wrestled with what I was feeling and took it to the Lord in prayer.  It seemed quite clear that blogging was getting in the way of the things that I really needed to focus on.  And with Nathaniel and Abigail in support of the decision, I pulled away.  And what a time of refreshing it has been!  Since I am less focused on an audience, my God has made very, very clear what He wants to accomplish in my heart—and let me tell you, there’s a lot of work to be done!  His word is indeed a mirror that shows us what we really are, and His good Spirit highlights the messes He wants to deal with, accomplishing His good purpose!

And, of course, as Abigail mentioned, finding out Nathaniel and I are having another little blessing, and being currently swamped with morning sickness, taxes, and a host of other things…I have no regrets.  J  Well, except for all the unfinished series and anticipated articles that never were written…but I trust you all will forgive me and rejoice in what the Lord is doing with us now.  Maybe we will write a book one day.  😉  Blessings to you ladies who have joined us on this journey.  Your thoughts and encouragement have been much appreciated!

From Abigail:

Friends often accused me of being content.  But I declare myself innocent of the accusation!  The facts are, I rarely wept the deadly tears of the unmarried simply because I had other dreams that plagued me more than marriage.  Dreams that seemed undefined, but still powerful, hopelessly far from fulfillment and even, at times, irreconcilable with my convictions.  Sometimes I fought with myself over whether or not they were even godly.  I wrestled these dreams into a slumbering state of contentment over and over and over again.  This summer they came to life with more ferocity than ever.  In frustration, I cried out to the Lord, “You gave me these passions.  Now what am I supposed to do with them?”  Many of you have made the same demand.  Some of you face the paradox of the “godly desire” that is still unfulfilled.  For many, it is marriage.  For some it is missions.  For others it is motherhood.  For some it is just more.  Disatisfaction is a necessary part of growth.  But of this I am certain—that desires are not godly or ungodly in themselves.  Because we can worship “godly desires” by desiring them more than God.  And anything that takes precedence over God is certainly ungodly.  Godly desires are desires that are made to bow, yielded, to pay homage to God, to His Word and to His timing.  And when they are prostrate before the King, they may be pursued, time and truth permitting, as a pursuit of Yahweh Himself.  Since deciding to “exit” the blogging world, I’ve been trying to focus my pursuits.  The pathway has been very up and down!  And I begin to see how truly God is a God of creativity and ingenuity and that He abundantly bestows both as we make our way through a transient life.  I’m thankful for the ways that He’s been shaping my character, strengthening my backbone and stretching me—whether it’s finally studying medical stuff or navigating the real-estate market or negotiating services and compensation or—as of the past week—nannying a handful of children.

Once upon a time, before there was Pearls and Diamonds, I kept a personal blog.  Perhaps you will find me there.

We hope you will live your moments in light of God’s redemptive sacrifice of His Son, the Holy Spirit’s powerful filling and the eminent return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!  To Him be the glory both now and forever, amen!

Blessings,

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Things I’ve Learned in the First Year

August 19, 2010 at 10:34 am (Announcements, Attitudes, Mommy-isms) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

That’s right.  Elijah turned a year old at the beginning of this month.  It’s hard to believe.  Nathaniel and I have been so blessed by this little gift from the Lord.  I feel as though I have grown up faster in the past year than in any other year of my life so far!  And we have been delighted to watch Elijah grow up to become an energetic little boy who is about to take off running (once he figures out walking for more than 5 or 10 steps at a time).

I really have learned a TON in this past year.  Some lessons have been delightful and funny.  Others have been very difficult and perspective-changing.  All in all, I am beginning to see how God uses little people to make us adults more like Christ.  Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Parenting is a lot harder than I thought!
  • Babies need lots of attention.  And lots of love.
  • My mood affects my son.  If I have a bad attitude, his behavior will reflect it.
  • Likewise, if I am inconsistent in training him, his behavior will reflect it.
  • When friends (seasoned mothers) tell you to cherish every moment with a newborn, because the time will fly by, they’re absolutely right.
  • Resting is a major responsibility of a woman who has just had a baby.
  • Maternal illness does seem to affect the bonding experience with baby.  😦  Especially when the mother’s illness prevents her from holding her baby comfortably, or from even changing his diaper.
  • God doesn’t give us babies for us—as though they exist to fulfill us emotionally or to complete our checklist “What I need to do and/or have to be a godly woman”.  God gives us babies to love and train in His ways, and to show us that we need much more training in His ways as well.  He gives us children so that we will be made more like Jesus.  And so that we can train them to love and be like Jesus.
  • Most baby toys are overrated.  A nine month old will be very happy with paper, an empty raisin can, and a joyful mama.
  • Cloth diapering is so much fun!  Really!  It is!
  • Making sure your baby takes regular naps is very important.  When I wasn’t diligent to provide structure and consistent nap times, Elijah wasn’t getting the sleep he needed and it affected him.
  • Nursing a baby for the entire first year really is a hard milestone to reach.  I wanted to give up so many times!  A supportive husband makes a big difference!
  • Once you hit the one-year mark and are still nursing and your pre-toddler becomes less and less interested and you can see that your nursing relationship may not last much longer…you wonder why you ever thought of giving up early.
  • But once your one-year-old gets sick for the first time and you get to nurse him almost twice as much as usual that day, you think that maybe we can make it to two years… (OK, so I learned that this week, not technically within the first year…can we call that a bonus lesson?)
  • Making your own baby food is not that big of a deal.
  • Getting outside each day is so so important.  The sun, the rain, the heat, the cold…all gifts from God in His time.  All to be enjoyed and shared with a baby.  (Going out in severe weather not recommended.)
  • There is much more involved in training and caring for a young infant than getting them to sleep through the night.  Seriously.  Try to avoid having the tunnel vision that I did.
  • If you didn’t have any “motherly instincts” before having a baby, you may not have too many of them once baby arrives.  SPEND TIME WITH BABIES BEFORE YOURS COMES ALONG!!!  I had almost no baby experience at all.  Praise the Lord we’ve survived!
  • To Train Up a Child is a very good book.  One I think I will be reading often over the next 20 years or so.
  • Kisses from a baby are about the sweetest things ever.
  • Infant potty training works.  It goes really well until you have a pre-toddler.  Then it all goes down the drain.  (At least we’re at an impasse right now…)  Puns intended.
  • Laziness and motherhood do not go together.  Don’t even try it.
  • Exclusive breastfeeding as a form of birth control does not work for everyone.  Not even for a month.
  • My husband is an amazing man.  I knew this already, but I get to see it in so many more ways now that he is a papa—and husband to a scatter-brained mama.
  • Natural childbirth is hard but good.  Wouldn’t do it any other way, as the Lord allows.
  • Vaccinating in the first year wasn’t necessary for Elijah.  No vaccines yet.  No sickness yet (until a stomach bug this week…then again, it may have been that I mixed asparagus in with his re-fried beans…).  I’m going to guess that breastfeeding is better than any vaccine.  (We may consider some vaccines in the future.  But we are very happy to have held off for the first year.)
  • When the doctor expresses concern over something, don’t panic.  Especially if the area of concern is something you lived through (very small baby according to weight gain charts, heart murmur, etc).  Ask questions.  Ask lots of questions.  And don’t worry—trust the Lord.  Most tests come back negative.  And many doctors who know you have insurance don’t hesitate to recommend testing any little deviance from “normal” or “average”.  Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t a liability issue.  Just ask lots of questions.
  • It would be nice to have had a good understanding of health insurance and/or cost of procedures and services before having a baby.
  • Elijah is a little boy.  He is all-boy.  He loves things on wheels, throwing things, banging things, rough housing with his Papa, making noises, army crawling, climbing, chasing…but he is still a baby, still needs to be held and nursed and soothed when he’s hurt.  I love the mix of independence and dependence.  So sweet.
  • Elijah was fully capable of understanding and disregarding our basic instruction “No” by 8 months old.  And he has been testing us to see if we really mean it ever since.  😉  Babies are clever.
  • Having someone (a sister-in-law, perhaps) to stay with you and help you around the house during the first week or two after giving birth is absolutely invaluable!  And especially while you are waiting for the drugs to kick in to bring your auto-immune disease under control so that you can actually function.
  • Rice cereal may not be the best first food for baby.  Elijah apparently could have used something with a lot more calories!
  • Boppy pillows are great.
  • You don’t need a crib or a changing table.  A pack-n-play that you got for $40 at a garage sale (thank You, Lord!) will do just fine—and it can be moved easily.
  • Hand-me-downs and second-hand are the way to go for baby clothes.  Of course, when you’re given new clothes, that is perfectly acceptable, too.
  • Elijah was 7 lbs. 9 oz. when he was born.  He is 18 lbs. 9 oz. at one year.  Not all babies triple their birth weight by one year.  And just because they don’t doesn’t mean they are unhealthy.  Guidelines are only suggested norms.  They do not take into account that every baby is different.  My little guy is little, but he is very healthy.  Looking at his parents, we shouldn’t expect him to be big!
  • I am way more disciplined and diligent now that I have a baby.  I wish I had been this productive before he came along!  Imagine what I could have accomplished!
  • I have no idea how working moms manage.  No idea.
  • I’ve had many moments where I feel as though I really love my son for the first time.  It just grows…
  • It’s difficult to accept a debilitating illness as a blessing from the Lord.  Especially when it seems to taint what is supposed to be one of the most incredible moments of your life.  But God is calling me to trust Him.  I know I did not have the right attitude when we found out I had gestational pemphigoid.  And I honestly don’t know that I ever really had the right attitude.  I of course pray that it will not return in future pregnancies (though that is likely to happen), but I can see now that the Lord had a purpose in it, and He may still be seeking to accomplish that purpose with the same tool in the future.  And I will desperately need His grace, His word, His love, His Spirit to endure whatever trials may come and to entrust myself to the faithful Creator in doing what is right–indeed He does all things well!

Any other young moms out there?  What has the Lord been teaching you?

*Any opinions shared on medical issues (vaccines, testing, etc) are not intended to tell you what you ought to do.  They are simply my own musings over my own experience (as is most of this list).  Use your best judgment to care for your own baby.

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Redeeming Love: Megan’s Story

March 10, 2010 at 1:18 am (Purity, stories) (, , , , , , , , , , , , )

Megan’s Story

Megan Graham is a fellow sister and friend who I have enjoyed getting to know over the past two years. She is a hard-working wife and mother of four (with a fifth on the way!). Abigail and I think her story is absolutely beautiful—a wonderful tale of God’s redeeming love and His power over our sin—whether it is in the open for all to see or hidden in the deep recesses of our hearts. We hope you’ll rejoice in what the Lord has done in her life as you read her story! Here’s Megan:

To write of what God has done in my heart and life, to speak of Him who redeemed me, is truly a joy and an opportunity I’m so very thankful for. While writing out my testimony I’ve been able to review God’s faithfulness, love, and mercy towards me. And there is so very much to speak of! During my review of the abundant grace I’ve been mercifully shown, words penned by William Cowper have run over and over in my mind:

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.

I was born 30 years ago in Tulsa and was raised in the same house until I moved away to attend college. My brother is eight years older and my sister two years younger. Early memories consist of my mom taking my sister and me to the little Free Methodist church down the road each Sunday while my dad stayed home. I do not remember too much of the theology I was taught, but distinctly remember learning that Jesus Christ was God’s son and that He died on a cross for sin.

It was during this time period, I’ll say I was around seven years old, that I remember driving home with my mom one evening and asking her something along the lines of “how do I become a Christian or how do I go to heaven?” My mom told me that I needed to acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross for my sin, ask for forgiveness, and ask Jesus into my heart. So, I remember turning to look out the window and praying for Jesus to come into my heart and make me a Christian. I told my mom what I’d done and we soon went to our pastor, who talked with me and shortly thereafter baptized me. I knew the gospel message, but I knew nothing of a holy God, the sinfulness of my sin, nor was I convinced that I deserved punishment for my sin. My life reflected this as I grew.

Although my mother, sister and I attended church often, church was very separate from my home life. My father was, and still is, not a believer. There was no biblical training and little example of godliness. I saw much of the world and the sin of man, both of which were appealing to me. While I was not raised in a Christ-exalting home, I praise God for the parents He purposed to give me. I love them dearly.

As a child, pride was the prominent attitude of my heart. I was involved in many activities; I was a good athlete and made excellent grades. It was easy to think I was the golden child of my family. While I was doing so well in school and getting complimented on what a nice young lady I was, my older brother was an alcoholic and drug addict by the age of 15 and my younger sister struggled terribly in school and was labeled as ADD. I took great pride in being the good girl. I can remember a friend’s mom saying on several occasions, “why can’t you be more like Megan?” And I loved hearing this. Along with a heart full of sinful pride, I longed for the praise and approval of man. I would have said that I wanted to please God, but the attitude of my heart and my actions proved that Megan was the person I wanted to please most. As a teenager I may have performed well, but at home I was a hateful, rebellious girl with a serious attitude.

During this time I was attending an independent Baptist church where knowing the date and time of your salvation was given great importance. I didn’t know that date and time of my prayer as a young child and thus proceeded to walk the aisle and be baptized around the age of 13. J.C. Ryle writes that “men will never come to Jesus, and stay with Jesus, and live for Jesus, unless they really know why they are to come, and what is their need.” I had a date and time to write in my Bible, but I didn’t truly have a need for a savior.

Although I was active in church, the world was so very appealing. I knew full well what was wrong in the sight of God, but I did what was right in my own eyes.

One week after my 16th birthday I found myself sitting in a Planned Parenthood office with a positive pregnancy result and a counselor asking me if I’d like information on an abortion. God graciously pricked my conscious and gave me a heart that knew I would keep the baby. I praise Him for the blessing of a child, even in the midst of sin. My sin grieves my heart, yet I am so very thankful for the gift of my daughter Kaitlin. Children are a gift of the Lord, even to a rebellious, unwed 16 year old child.

Becoming a parent at the age of 16 caused me to grow up fast in some ways; but, more than growing up, it brought out more of my prideful, sin-stained heart. I graduated high school a year early and moved Kaitlin and myself to Norman to attend the University of Oklahoma. My family, friends and even strangers praised me for being such a success story. And remember, I loved to be praised. What people couldn’t see was a heart that was determined to prove to the world and to God that I could make up for my sin. I truly thought I could show a holy God that I was good enough. I put a burden on myself to excel that was very heavy, not to mention impossible.

My time in college was used by God to show me Himself and to open my eyes to the sinfulness of my sin. The Lord surrounded me with believing friends and involved me in a church that challenged me to study scripture. I can’t tell you a specific date or time in which I truly humbled myself before the God of the universe, but I can look back over my life and see this time as a turning point in the desires of my heart.

Shortly after graduating from college I moved back home to Tulsa and began working for a large accounting firm as an auditor. Through events that could only be the meticulous work of God’s providential hand, I became involved in a solid, Bible teaching church and was surrounded by Believers who sought to follow Christ with all of their lives. Many weekends were spent in the home of a Godly family where I saw what God’s design was for a husband, wife and children and how disciples who truly loved the Lord lived lives committed to Christ. Over the next year, God prepared me through His Word, other Believers and books for the next course of my life.

Fourteen months into my career as an auditor, I was married to Gabe, my Beloved, and was able to retire. For the first time in eight years as a single mom, I was able to stay home with my daughter. God is so very good! When married, I left my church and joined Gabe’s Southern Baptist Church. This first year of marriage was difficult, not in terms of my relationship with my Beloved, but because God used it as a time for me to wander in the wilderness, so to speak. I was no longer hearing meaty sermons or being fed spiritually. God showed me that much of my faith had been lived vicariously through the lives of those around me and He graciously and mercifully showed how lazy I was, both spiritually and practically. He caused me to learn to depend on Him and live out my own faith.

Over the past few years I’ve been learning more of the nature of sin, the attributes of God, the Bible, and my own heart. I’ve been challenged in ways that have made Christ increasingly beautiful to me. God has taken me to new depths by challenging me with the words of a dear saint who said, “The great thing about the kingdom is the King!” I remember hearing that and thinking “Is Christ what I’m most looking forward to?”

God has done a mighty work in the heart of this sinner. I can stand before the Lord clothed with the righteousness of Christ. My heart sings a new song:

E’er since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die.


Praise the Lord! Tomorrow we’ll hear from Megan again as she shares with us on the topic of purity.

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Announcing Elijah Chapman Scott!

August 2, 2009 at 7:39 am (Announcements) (, , , , , )

Here he is:  the newest member of the family!  He was born August 1st at 1:35 AM and weighed 7 lbs 9 oz.  He’s a sweetie.   The Lord was gracious to show himself strong through a few intimidating complications and baby and Momma are doing great!

IMG_0105small

Elijah Chapman Scott

August 1, 2009

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An update of Baby Scott

July 29, 2009 at 10:05 am (Announcements) (, , , , , )

We’d scheduled me (Abigail) for a visit to Nathaniel and Lauren this week, in hopes that the baby would come a little early so I could be here for the birth.  It looks like our hopes will be fulfilled, though not quite in the way we’d anticipated.  Below is an excerpt from an update e-mail Lauren sent out to family:

This week has been a bit crazy.  I developed a nasty rash on my belly button about two weeks ago.  Only about 4 or 5 days ago I noticed some red, itchy bumps developing on my inner thighs.  I thought it was related to shaving.  But they spread and are now red, itchy welts/blisters.  And the bumps have covered my legs, the tops of my hands, and my forearms.  They’re continuing to spread to my upper arms, belly, and feet.  We thought it was a pregnancy related thing called PUPP, but our doctor, who we saw both yesterday and today, was concerned and at our appointment today said she thinks it’s Gestational Pemphigoid which is a pregnancy-related autoimmune disease. I’ve  done some reading online and I think she’s right.   Basically the placenta causes the mother’s immune system to attack her own skin leaving itching, blistering burns.

Because there is potential risk to the baby, (and a lot of unknowns because this is such a rare condition), she suggested we induce as soon as possible.  The soonest she can get us into the hospital is Thursday at 7am.  So that’s the plan.  In the mean time I’m on some powerful medications to help with the itching (which is pure torture) and suppress my immune system.

This is a real bummer in that it doesn’t fit nicely into our plans for a completely natural birth (but who said life unfolds according to our plans anyway??).  We trust that the Lord will accomplish His good purpose in this, and that He’ll take care of me and the baby.  I’m just thankful that this thing didn’t flare up earlier.  We’re quite blessed to be so close to my due date.  Perhaps the worst news is that this disease will likely affect future pregnancies.

But the Lord is in control!  We know that He is good and does good.  And hopefully we will have a baby by this weekend!

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“Contractions Starting Now”

July 28, 2009 at 5:17 am (A Time to Laugh) (, , , , , , , , , )

a-time-to-laugh

With the birth of Nathaniel and Lauren’s baby almost upon them, they’ve been faithfully putting into practice all that they are learning at their Bradley Method Natural Childbirth class.  Part of Nathaniel’s job as “coach” is to help his wife relax, so he developed a new “game.”  Any time he says “contractions starting now”, Lauren is to lean back in her chair, close her eyes and relax.  They were out to supper one evening at a nice, little restaurant when Nathaniel suddenly said, “Contractions starting now.”  With a sigh, Lauren put down her fork, leaned back and closed her eyes, wondering why the game in the middle of a restaurant.  But Nathaniel’s “coaching” had an ulterior motive:  as Lauren opened her eyes she caught him snagging a juicy piece of chicken from her plate!  So much for helping her relax.

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Three Beautiful Blessings

July 17, 2009 at 5:01 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Godly Living, Homemaking) (, , , , , )

42-16297736I’m sitting here at my desk, eating some satisfying oatmeal and enjoying the fact that my house is clean. The bathrooms have been scrubbed, the spiderwebs swept away, the furniture dusted (except for a few missed spots where little hands couldn’t reach), the floors vacuumed and mopped where needed. Ah…it’s a good feeling.

And just what is my secret to being eight months pregnant and enjoying a nice, clean home? Three beautiful blessings. Three sweet sisters, ranging in age from 8 to 17.

Not long into my third trimester fatigue began to set in (actually, it just increased—I’ve been tired this whole pregnancy!). I don’t sleep through the night, and during the day I end up having to take a one to two hour nap. And if I ever try to plow through a day with no nap and little rest, moving from task to task, I end up wiped out the next day. My big belly and achy hips mean I move more slowly, wear out more quickly, and can’t fit into places that I used to (example: one side of our bed is only about 12 inches from the wall—this means making the bed is quite the challenge!).

Add to my regular responsibilities all the little things that must be done to prepare for our son’s arrival: wash baby clothes, research baby products, write thank you notes, read up on natural childbirth and godly parenting, get the baby/guest room ready, figure out how to organize baby items and where in the world to put them, find a pediatrician, pack for the hospital… Yes, I am preparing for motherhood!

Now don’t get me wrong, I love being pregnant, even with its added challenges and limitations! But about a month ago I began to realize I just couldn’t keep up. Groceries, meals, laundry, bills, and budgeting have taken priority over cleaning to be sure. So when I heard through the grapevine that one of the families we knew at church loved opportunities for their girls to serve, I gave it some thought. And when I hadn’t gotten around to housecleaning for several weeks I became desperate enough to ask!

Asking for help was quite humbling. It’s not like I can’t dust or scrub or vacuum or mop (though my back tends to dislike the latter). Each time before the girls have come over I’ve thought to myself, “Why am I doing this? Can’t I take care of these things? I’m not incapable.” And that’s true—many women in my position just clean where they can and keep moving. I could, too. But once the girls get here and we get to talk and laugh and listen to music while they clean and I tackle things like deep-cleaning the kitchen, doing laundry, and paying the bills, I begin to realize what a blessing I’ve been given. Not only do I get my house cleaned, but it affords me the time to do some things that I might not have otherwise been able to do that day. And aside from getting things done, we’re all encouraged by each other’s fellowship.

I share this to praise the Lord for the blessing of His people and to encourage you to think about what you could do to help someone in Jesus’ name. It’s summer time. And that means many of you younger ladies have some extra time on your hands. Are there people in your church or in your neighborhood who could use a hand? Are any sick, disabled, or just worn out from all of the responsibilities that they have to juggle? Are there any pregnant ladies, elderly folks, or single moms in your life? Or even mothers with a few young children? Can you clean, prepare a meal or treat to share, write an encouraging note, offer to watch the kids, or just be pleasant company to those who are lonely? I encourage you to make the most of your time this summer and make someone’s day a bit brighter. You may never know what a beautiful blessing you can be!

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Nearing the Finish Line

July 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm (Announcements) (, , , , , , )

If you’ve been reading Lauren’s posts and enjoying her perspective these days, perhaps you’d enjoy another perspective:  the view of her belly.   Lauren and Nathaniel were blessed with a free photo sitting in the mall the other day which resulted in some lovely images.

With July 4th past, the countdown shows Baby Scott due to make his appearance in less than a month!

Also upcoming in August: the long-awaited Purity articles you’ve asked for!  Actually, as we stewed over the topic, we found so much to cover that we plan to take the whole month of August just to focus on Purity–and it’s implications and rewards!  We hope to include a poll, some articles, our personal experiences and another “His Perspective” survey!  We hope to have lots of feedback because we’re still growing and learning, too!  We’re considering including a “carnival” (is that what it’s called when we link to other good purity articles?) and perhaps a question and answer post and we want your help and thoughts!  Please send us links to your favorite articles, suggest your favorite books (with your comments), flood us with scripture passages, thoughts, poems, convictions, testimonies, etc.  Purity seems to be forgotten in our world of lust and license and we want to hear as well as share encouraging stories!  Send your purity thoughts our way:  pearlsanddiamondsblog [at] gmail [dot] com

Blessings,

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New Life, New Experiences

January 26, 2009 at 11:27 am (A Slice of Life, Articles, Attitudes) (, , , , , , , , )

Posted by Lauren

42-16297736People like to say that having a baby will change your life.  I believe it-because I haven’t had the baby yet and it’s already changed my life!  To enlighten you, I’ll just list some of the things that I can’t do now that I’m pregnant (13 weeks pregnant, to be precise):

  • I can’t drink anything with caffeine in it (they say a little caffeine won’t hurt, but a little is all I could ever handle in the first place, so I cut it out).  No coffee drinks, no Dr. Pepper…
  • I can’t run-I’d gotten up to running 10 miles a week when I got pregnant, and I could have kept up with that if morning sickness didn’t hit so hard…
  • I can’t enjoy food like I used to-anything could make me hurl!
  • I can’t do sit ups-I still don’t completely understand this one.
  • I can’t quickly pick up a three year old and lift him up over my head-I tried this on Sunday…pulled some delicate muscles or ligaments in my tummy.
  • I can’t walk into my kitchen without bracing myself for the awful smell of last night’s dinner, which can make me gag.  I’ve been using Vitamin C drops or throat lozenges to taste and smell something other than the old food odors my overly-sensitive nose now picks up on.
  • I can’t make it through the day without getting about 12 hours of sleep at night and 1-2 hours of nap time.  I’m exhausted!
  • I can’t get nearly as much done as I used to-because of less waking hours, all-day “morning” sickness, and lack of energy.
  • I already can’t fit into half of my clothes!

Sounds like fun doesn’t it?  Actually, I’m having a blast.  What I’ve listed above is only half the story.  And it fades in comparison with the joy and excitement that God is knitting together a little baby inside me!  Those things I listed are all things I can’t do, but this article is really about my new experiences with a new life inside, remember?  Here are some of the beautiful things I’ve gotten to do and learn as a result of God’s gift:

  • I’ve gotten to watch from the outside as my body totally rearranges to accommodate my child-God is transforming me into a baby factory!  It really is amazing.  Some new hormones take over and prepare me for carrying and nurturing our baby, as well as for breast feeding when the baby arrives!  I’ve not gained any weight yet, but I sure have grown-my waist is disappearing and my belly has gotten 3 inches bigger already!  I marvel at the fact that for the first time in my life, I’m excited to see my waistline grow!
  • I’ve gotten to see what’s taking place on the inside, too.  Ultrasound technology is pretty cool-we got to see our baby at 8 weeks, and even see its little heart beating!  For my 12 week check up we got another ultrasound, and the baby has grown to be about four times bigger than it was a month ago!
  • I’ve started to swim with a neighbor friend at a local gym.  This has been a fun, new kind of exercise for me-and it’s supposed to be great for my body and the baby!  Plus, my neighbor is pregnant, too, so we’ve gotten to know each other a lot better because of our common situation.
  • I’m learning patience and trust in the Lord because of the “gift” of morning sickness.  Feeling run over and queasy all day every day isn’t my goal in life.  But God has been good to give me precious time in fellowship with Him.  I’m learning to accept the “inconveniences” of pregnancy as gifts from His hand to develop my character-my all-wise Father knows I need it!  And I can rejoice that the very fact that I’ve been sick is an indicator that I have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Getting away from poor eating habits has been a blessing.  Despite feeling sick, I know I’m healthier than before because I’ve made changes in my diet to make sure that my baby is getting good nutrition and not a bunch of junk.
  • I’ve been richly blessed by family members and other godly women who are pouring out on me a wealth of wisdom and love, sharing their stories and how their children were worth every bit of discomfort during pregnancy!  I’m starting to fully experience Titus 2, with older women encouraging me to love my husband and my baby.
  • Having less clothes to choose from in my closet has actually made it easier to pick out something to wear!
  • Our world considers me a Mommy-to-be, with some tissue growing inside that will eventually (if allowed to be born) become a baby.  But the truth is so much more beautiful than that.  Nathaniel has pointed out to me that I’m a Mommy already-I’m already working hard to care for our baby.  And we know from God’s word that our heavenly Father already knows the days that are ordained for our child, that He Himself is forming and nurturing our baby inside of me!  All of the little details of appearance and personality have already been decided and are fully known by our God.  Far from “tissue” or merely a “fetus”, this child inside of me is a new being-a person made in the image of God, whom He loves very much.  🙂

It’s sobering to think of the new responsibilities that come with parenting.  I know we’ll need God’s grace every step of the way!  But it’s a joy to know that we are parents now, taking care of this little one as best we can until we can finally hold our baby in our arms for the first time!  So I guess this season of life is training ground for the years of in-person (hmm…or more literally, out of person!) parenting to come!

We praise God for this gift of new life!

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Why we haven’t been posting…

January 8, 2009 at 2:10 pm (Announcements) (, , , , , , , )

Behold a recent scene in our lives:

Location: The Guest room of Abigail’s house.

Time: Shortly before a friend’s wedding, at the beginning of December.

Enter Lauren and Abigail in deep conversation.

Lauren: *insert deep, spiritual content*–

Abigail (glancing around): Uh. Lauren? Cheerios? Why do you have Cheerios on the night stand?

Lauren: Cheerios?  Oh, yeah, I love Cheerios!

Abigail: Cheerios are really good for staving off morning sickness. You’re not dealing with morning sickness, are you?

Lauren (pouts, still trying to keep a secret): You’re not supposed to ask questions like that!

That’s Lauren’s excuse for not posting much lately. She’s been sick. Super sick with morning sickness. Which means her sister-in-law’s long-time dream of becoming SPINSTER AUNT ABIGAIL is finally about to be realized! Nathaniel and Lauren are expecting in August! Hooray!

Abigail hasn’t been posting much lately, either. Here’s her excuse: Her family is currently in the process of switching internet providers. It went something like this: they were offered DSL (as opposed to our slow air-card) and told it would be installed yesterday. So they canceled the air-card. Yesterday, the DSL provider called to let them know the corporate office has had some sort of difficulty–and may not get them hooked up for a month–at least! Abigail’s currently watching the glorious sunrise and posting this from her laptop in the parking lot of the local college!

Hopefully, things will get ironed out and we will soon be back up and running.

In the meanwhile, we’d encourage you to check out the archives.

And especially some of our earlier articles (if you haven’t read them):

Situational Modesty

Making First Impressions a First Priority

Sunday Best

Liberty and the Christian

What are You Waiting For?

Perceiving a Knight in a Windmill

Beheading Ye Olde Beast

True Religion

Consulting with Father

Wasted Emotion

And scribble down your Jesus Story to share with the rest of our readers!

Most importantly, rejoice in the Lord! Pray without ceasing. In everything, give thanks!

Blessings,

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