Writing in the Margins

I’ve been re-reading a book lately called, “Writing in the Margins” by Lisa Nichols Hickman (which I cannot recommend highly enough!).  It is a book about learning to write in the margins of our Bibles to study, to connect with God and to also connect our story to God’s story.  All throughout the book are stories about people who wrote in the margins of their Bibles.  One of them is the great musician, Johann Sebastian Bach.  Here is a bit of what I read:

In the Bible, next to 1 Chronicles 25, Bach penned, “This chapter is the true foundation of all God-pleasing church music.” 
Beside 2 Chronicles 5:12-13 he wrote, “In devotional music, God is always present with his Grace.”
 
Exodus 15:20 is marked, “First prelude for two choirs to be sung to the glory of God.” 
Next to Psalm 119:158, he wrote a “nota bene” or a “good word” to himself to take note so that he would truly hear and absorb the truth of the text, “I see the despiser and it grieves me that they do not keep your word.”  
And he noted 1 Timothy 6:12 (NIV), “Fight the good fight of the faith.  Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
 
Bach also wrote in his Bible: “My hymn sounds like this: Give to God the glory which is due to the one true living God, the only glory, praise and honor in heaven and on earth.”  In these annotations we see Bach looked to the sacred word of the text, in his scriptural disciplines, to find both inspiration and a sold foundation for all his life’s work.
In Bach’s annotations we see the markings of a great mind and musician at work.  For this, Bach looked to the sacred word of text in his scriptural practice to find direction for his anger, momentum for his music, absolution for his sin and dictums to guide his life.
 
What we see in Bach’s Bible is that back-and-forth between insight and life work, the verse of the Bible, and the vocation of our lives.
 
What beautiful words. I pray that today we will all be able to look to Scripture the way that Bach did – to find: perspective in our emotions, encouragement for our life’s work, forgiveness for our sins and direction for our every day life.

Here’s a bit of my own margin writing/doodling:
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Love you guys,
Kim
 
 

10 Ways to Screw Up Your Marriage

My sweet husband and I have been married for almost 17 years, which means that I have now been married for over half of my life!  Seriously.  SRSLY!

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Since we didn’t come into this marriage thing as experts, we have had to learn the hard way that there are some things that you just cannot do in marriage.  There are some actions and attitudes that are to be avoided at all costs if you want to continue in wedded bliss.  We didn’t enjoy learning these things, so I thought it might be good for me to give some kindly advice to those who might not have quite as much experience with the rotten stuff as we have.  Here are 10 things that we’ve figured out will screw up your marriage super fast.

1. YELL AT EACH OTHER.  We desperately avoid yelling in this household.  It makes us feel junky – both in the giving and the receiving.  I used to be a pretty good yeller.  Whenever I would get mad, my voice just got louder.  I would say (usually in a raised voice) that I couldn’t help it.  It was just how I was.  One evening my husband (my boyfriend at the time, actually) witnessed me yelling at my parents over something and was appalled.  He told me later that he didn’t believe anyone ever deserved to be yelled at.  He was right.  I’ve worked hard to avoid yelling at anyone ever since.  Turns out it is something I can change after all – who knew?!  I still screw up from time to time and yell over something, but knowing it’s not okay is the first step in reducing those times that I do yell.

2. ASSUME WORST INTENTIONS.  One of the best ways to misunderstand your spouse is to assume the worst intentions.  You’ll start hearing things that they didn’t actually say.  This will make you crazy.  This will make THEM crazy too.  Assume that they want the best for you, your marriage, your kids, your life.  Assume that they care about your feelings.  Don’t assume that their biggest desire in life is to make you mad or hurt your feelings.  That’s dumb.  And probably not true.

3. BRING UP PAST JUNK.  If you’re bringing up past junk every single time you’re arguing, you’re asking for disaster.  That nasty little cycle will never end.  Oh my goodness I struggle with this one.  I cannot tell you how many times I almost fail at this.  Sometimes I feel like I’m catching words right before they tumble out.  It feels so good to win arguments, but there has to be a statute of limitations on past junk.  You don’t want everything you’ve ever done brought up every single time you argue, right?  Neither do they.  Let the current argument be about current stuff.  Let everything else stay in the past where it belongs.

4. CRITICIZE EACH OTHER (ESPECIALLY IN PUBLIC).  Every time I hear someone criticize their spouse in front of me, I cringe.  Every time.  Can you imagine what it would feel like to find out that your spouse has been talking poorly of you in front of his friends, family or even, heaven forbid, complete strangers?!!  Ephesians 4:29 is a very important scripture for husbands and wives to memorize: “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  This includes talking in front of your kids.  Don’t ever let your kids hear you talk badly of their mom or dad.  This includes social media.  Although you can’t see the faces of the people who read your posts on Facebook, twitter, instagram and such – they are very, very real.  Be careful what you say about your spouse – and who may hear (or read) it.  So many things tear our spouses down in everyday life – so many things.  We cannot let our words be one of them.

5. NAG EACH OTHER.  I have to admit that I’m still working on this one.  Man it’s hard when your spouse won’t just obey everything you say all the time without questions.  Kidding.  Mostly.  Because my husband and I have different family responsibilities and priorities, it is often a source of conflict where those responsibilities overlap a bit.  He is not much of a multi-tasker and I try to multi-task WAY too much. Something that I think to be super time-sensitive might not even be in his top ten and vice versa.  So then we kindly remind the other person to not forget to do something.  Then we remind again – less kindly.  Then again – with a bit of sarcasm and snarkiness.  Then we just end up in a big, dumb, ugly fight over me forgetting to put the new insurance cards in the car or him forgetting to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer. These things are NOT worth fighting over.  Grace goes a long way here.  Talk about ways to share the responsibilities and encourage each other to succeed in those responsibilities WITHOUT nagging.  And if you absolutely have to remind each other of something, choose loving words and speak kindly.

6. PUT YOUR CHILDREN FIRST.  Your children are important and their needs are important, and of course they make sure to let you know just how important they think that their needs are.  You absolutely have a responsibility to take care of everything your kids need.  But you also need to remember that you and your spouse are in this parenting thing together and you need to make sure that you both make it to the end of it together.  Never leave a partner behind, right?.  Your spouse’s needs are important too.  Your kids have both of you and you can share those responsibilities.  Your spouse has you alone and they need your support, encouragement, love and respect to be the best person they can be.  You cannot ignore your spouse’s needs and then be surprised when they begin to ignore yours.  Marriages crumble when kids become priority over your marriage relationship.

7. REFUSE TO FIGHT.  Ignoring feelings or problems will not make them go away.  You have to passionately pursue reconciliation at all times with your spouse.  Don’t let things fester or grow.  Even though my husband and I don’t fight the same way, we still are committed to working out every single issue or disagreement.  Ricky needs time to process.  I don’t.  He would prefer to leave the room for a while.  I would prefer to sit right next to each other with major eye contact as we work out all the issues of the world.  So we compromise.  I give him some time (not as much as he would want, but more than I would want) to gather his thoughts and feelings before we talk it through.  But we DO talk it through.  Every single time.  Because reconciliation and understanding is the goal, we each give a little.  We value the relationship over our need to be right or make a point.  Sometimes it takes a simple apology from both of us (we always BOTH apologize even if we don’t necessarily think it was our fault – and ooh boy sometimes it’s really hard to do).  Sometimes it takes all day and night to figure out how to get back to the safe, middle ground.  It is always worth it to talk it all the way through.  Always.

8. DON’T LEARN TO COMMUNICATE.  Everyone communicates differently.  You need to figure out your spouse’s language and teach them yours.  Make up some rules for engagement in communication that will help you both feel safe to share your real feelings.  Make sure that both of you feel safe sharing every bit of your feelings – even the hard ones.  Listen for understanding, ask clarifying questions and assume the best intentions.  Communication is hard for everyone, all the time, with everyone – it just is.  In marriage the stakes are even higher.  The sooner you learn how to talk to and listen to your spouse, the stronger your marriage will be.  I wrote a whole post on this topic here.

9. DON’T SET ASIDE TIME FOR EACH OTHER.  This one’s hard.  We have insanely busy schedules and we’re both workaholics.  We also have five children with fourteen years between the youngest and oldest child.  We’ve got a lot going on always.  However, every time we forget to set aside time for each other for a while we notice the effect of it.  Every time.  We have friends who set aside a regular monthly date night with each other but with five kids we’ve never been able to manage that.  So we try to have time every evening after the kids go to bed to just be together.  We watch an hour of TV or talk about our kids or our jobs or just whatever.  It doesn’t matter what we do.  I look forward to our time together all day long.  It’s that time together that we intentionally carve out of the end of our days that helps me continue to feel connected to him.  It’s when I feel the most treasured by him.  It really is that important.

10. FORGET TO GIVE ENCOURAGEMENT.  Several years ago after at least ten years of marriage I discovered something about my husband that I didn’t know.  We took a love languages quiz based on Gary Chapman’s Book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts and I discovered that his primary love language is “words of affirmation”.  I had no idea.  I also had not ever been intentional about giving him those encouraging words.  Whoops.  He, however, is the king of sweet texts or notes to tell me how much he loves me or how proud he is of me or how he hopes I have a good day.  I just always thought, gosh he’s sweet – aren’t I a lucky girl.  Words of affirmation is not my love language so it’s just not a natural thing for me.  So when I realized that he needed those encouraging words to feel loved and I began to give them more regularly it made such an enormous difference in the way he felt about our relationship.  I never realized how much those encouraging words made a difference until one week when my sweet husband forgot to give them.  Encouraging words from my husband are what help me to feel safe, secure and loved within the relationship.  Same goes for him.  These words may not seem like much when they’re given but they fill up our relationship bank accounts.  Without encouragement, we can begin to feel undervalued or ignored.  Never underestimate the power of encouraging words in your marriage.

 

I Can Learn to Pray – A Book Review

 

I Can Learn to Pray by Holly Hawkins Shivers is a phenomenal resource for families, churches and especially homeschools.  Besides the fact that it’s a beautiful hardcover book, it is filled with 52 weeks of devotions on the subject of prayer.

There are seven sections in the book covering topics such as how to pray, thankful prayers, sorry prayers, help prayers, and the prayers that Jesus prayed.  I absolutely love how even the language of the sections is geared towards kids (such as “I’m Sorry” prayers).  This sweet little devotional is filled with tons of ideas for kids to put what they’re learning throughout the book into practice (such as thanking God each day for a different person and sending them a note telling them they’re being prayed for – a wonderful idea for adults as well as kids!)

This book could easily be added into homeschooling curriculum by covering one devotional each week.  There are even little assignments within each devotional that are meaningful and easy to understand.  Although the suggested ages for this book is 4-8, the younger kids might need a little help.  I also think that my almost 10 year old would be thrilled with this book!

Holly Hawkins Shivers has also written another 52 week devotional for kids, I Can Learn the Bible, which looks just as wonderful as this one.

I highly recommend I Can Learn to Pray!  What a wonderful resource for families to learn about prayer together!
I review for BookLook Bloggers

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

 

 

Dearly Loved

I wrote this over a year ago when my littlest baby was still so very little.  He is two now, and the other four babies in this house are even bigger than that, but I have to say that I still feel exactly this way about all of them:

From 2014:

As I write this I sit here on my big red couch holding a little baby boy.  The sweetest and most adorable baby that ever was – except, of course, for the other four babies living in this house that came directly from God’s heart (and my belly).  I am so enthralled with this child that I can hardly get another thing done in all my day.  I’m not kidding.  If I could get away with it I would snuggle this little thing every moment of every day.  I love his tiny little smiley eyes.  His big belly laughs.  His sweet little hands.  His crooked little ear.  His sweet smelling baby breath.  Everything about him.  Every.  Little.  Thing.  I want to squeeze him so very tightly that he becomes a physical part of me.  For real.

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That’s how much YOU are loved.  That’s how much you are loved by GOD!  Breathe that in for a minute.  Just stop right now – whatever you are doing – and breathe that in.

You are loved and cherished just as deeply – by the God of all that is or ever was.  He loves your sweet face.  Your eyes.  Your mouth.  Your hands.  Your heart.  Everything about you.  Every.  Single.  Thing.  No matter what anyone else thinks of you – or even what you may think about yourself – you are a loved, cherished, coveted, precious child of God.  He loves you so much that He doesn’t ever want to be parted with you.  He wants to hold you so tightly that you become a part of Him – that HE becomes a part of YOU.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38-39

I pray that you realize today how deeply and wholly you are loved.  I pray that God’s love for you increases your love for Him.  I pray also that it increases our love for each other.

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.” – Augustine

“God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures.  It is true whether we believe it or not.  Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it.  It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.” – Jerry Bridges

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. “ – 1 John 3:1-2

Love you guys,

Kim

25 Truths for New Moms

After 5 kids and over 15 years of mothering, I’ve learned a few things. And what kind of friend would I be if I didn’t pass along my wisdom to those coming along after me. So here you go. Consider it a public service announcement for new or newer mommas. You’re welcome.

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1. Everyone will give you advice – especially people who don’t have kids and very little of it will actually be helpful.

2. People will compare your kids with their dogs. 

3. Potty training is gonna be WAY harder than you can imagine.

4. You will be peed on, pooped on, snotted on and barfed on – and after the first few times it’s no big deal.

5. You will almost always feel like a failure in parenting.

6. You will very rarely have a clue what you are doing

7. You will end up sounding exactly like your mother.

8. Your body is no longer your own.

9. If you have more than 3 kids, complete strangers will comment on your sex life.

10. Sleep (or at least good, solid sleep) is a thing of the past.

11. You will hear the same exact question no less than 453,000 times a day until you lose it and scream your ever-loving head off. This will repeat every day for the next 18 years

12. Bath time will be both a method of torture and the best playtime ever depending on your moody child and there’s no way to predict which way it will go.

13. You will find peace and quiet in the bathroom. You will spend as much time there as you possibly can. The people in your house will think you have a medical problem. You will not care.

14. Most of your dishes will get broken. Then you will buy plastic dishes. They will get lost. Then you will give up and buy paper plates and bowls. Forget the environment, you just need dishes. 

15. You will make lots of lists. You will make lists of your lists. You will lose every single one of them. But that’s okay because you can make new lists of the lists that you lost.

16. You will violently hate the impulse shelves at the checkout of the grocery store. “No you cannot have that candy. Or that toy. Or THAT candy. Or that Chapstick. Or that beef jerky.”

17. People will continuously tell you how full your hands are as if you won’t already know.

18. Your house will never, ever be clean again – in fact, you’ll dream of burning it all down and starting over fresh just so you don’t have to do one more load of dirty laundry

19. Speaking of laundry, you will wash the same clean clothes over and over again without ever seeing anyone actually wear them.

20. If you have 1 or 2 kids, you will probably still manage to wear matching socks. But If you have 3 or 4 kids, you’ll consider it a win if you at least find two socks that both belong to you. If you have 5+ kids, you’ll just be glad to find socks.

21. You’ll have to get used to your drinks having crumbs and spit in them.

22. You will protect nap time like a ninja warrior princess.  If anyone messes with nap time, you will want to mess.  them.  up.

23. Rocks, sticks, leaves and weeds will be your gifts for the next several years.  You will treasure them.

24. You will need to increase your icloud storage because of the 6200 photos you’ll be taking every single day of every single thing that your kid does.  You will show these pictures to everyone.  They will roll their eyes.  This will not stop you.

25. You will never regret a single day of this mom life.  Every day is better than the day before.  You will do the very best you can and it will all be okay.  You’ll be amazing and you’ll look back 15 years from now and be so very thankful for these kiddos, and this life and all of the memories.  Take a deep breath.  You got this.

Fear and Loathing in My Driveway

A few nights ago I wasn’t feeling well, so my sweet husband took all five of our kids out to dinner and to the grocery store so I could rest in peace and quiet. (Have I ever mentioned that I am married to the most wonderful man in the entire world?) Since I very rarely get the opportunity to be alone, I thought I would take advantage of it and watch something on TV.  So I turned on a new show that I heard would be really great to see if I would like it.  Trying out new shows is very stressful for me.  To me, it’s kind of like watching a movie that I’ve never seen before.  I know that seems weird, but remember how I struggle with guilt?  Well, watching movies feels like a long time to be away from my never-ending to-do list and so I very rarely watch movies.  I feel the same way about new TV shows.  I mean, what if it’s terrible and I just wasted thirty minutes or even an hour of my precious time (that could have been spent on any one of a thousand other important things) on a show that I am now dumber for having watched.

However, despite my very logical (certifiable) issues with new TV shows, I turned one on.  It was not at all what I expected.  I was expecting funny but instead it was intense, weird, uncomfortable and a bit creepy.  I don’t do well with creepy – especially when I’m by myself.  So I’m all alone in an empty house that is eerily quiet, it’s getting dark outside and I’m not more than 15 minutes into this creepy weird show when I hear a big thud coming from one of the back rooms.  I immediately jumped up, grabbed my phone and keys and ran out of the house in 5 seconds flat.  I jumped in the car, turned it on and sat there.  FOR FORTY-FIVE MINUTES!  Not kidding.  This is what I actually did.  I didn’t even lock the door behind me.  Just ran and sat for almost an hour until my husband could get home and clear the house of whatever made the scary noise in the first place.  He’s so used to my weird fear-based shenanigans that he didn’t even laugh, or say anything other than “it’s all clear” after walking through our entire house (including closets) to make sure that there was nothing that could “get” me.  My prince.  My hero.  I don’t have any idea why he puts up with me.  Fear makes me do nutty things.

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The next day, when I finally had my wits about me again, I was reflecting on my ridiculous evening of fear and loathing in my driveway and I was reminded of the story of Gideon.  Remember the story?  It’s found in Judges 6-8.  In Israel at that time, the Midianites would come through the area where Gideon lived every year for seven years and steal their crops and livestock so that the Israelites had no food for themselves.  The Israelites were terrified of the Midianites. When we first meet Gideon he is hiding in a winepress, threshing wheat so he could keep it from the Midianites.  The angel of God comes to him and says, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior!”

In the middle of his fear and hiding, God reminds Gideon that He is on his side – that He is with him.  Sometimes I forget that God is on my side.  Life is so very much harder than I thought it would be and I often feel all alone in my struggles. I feel all alone in my soul.  In his little book “How to Be Filled with the Holy Spirit”, A.W. Tozer writes, “There is a spiritual loneliness, an inner aloneness, an inner place where God brings the seeker, where he is as lonely as if there were not another member of the Church anywhere in the world.  Ah, when you come there, there is a darkness of mind, an emptiness of heart, a loneliness of soul, but it is preliminary to the daybreak.  O God, bring us, somehow, to the daybreak!”  If A.W. Tozer felt this loneliness of soul, if the mighty warrior Gideon felt it, I think it’s safe to say that we have probably all felt this all alone feeling at one point or another.

I don’t particularly like my alone time.  That’s when my thoughts and fears get the best of me.  I wouldn’t have ended up in my car for an hour hiding from the big noise of the falling shampoo bottle if someone had been with me.  I might have been able to gather the strength to go and find out what made the scary noise in the first place if I had had back up.  What if I were able to be close enough to God, sure enough of Him, that I considered Him to be fully present in my every situation?  What If I remembered that God is with me and acted accordingly?  I don’t think there is any other way that I will be able to face the ridiculous fears that plague by head and my heart.  I think I understand the lyrics to one of my favorite hymns a little better after this experience:

The author of this song is a woman named Annie Hawks.  She was a housewife and mother and was two years older than I am now when she wrote this song.  I feel a kinship to her when I read her words and imagine that she felt then similarly to how I feel now over a hundred years later – that without the nearness and very presence of God I cannot make it.  Here are her beautiful words.  They will be my prayer today.

I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.

I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;

Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

 

 

A.W. Tozer – How to be Filled with the Holy Spirit – A Book Review

There are very few books that I have read that I would recommend as highly as this one.  It is a short little book (65 pages) and can be read in less than an hour (maybe an hour and a half if you read slowly), but the content of the book is just so good and right.  The content comes from a series of sermons given by Tozer many years ago about the question of how to be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The book begins by addressing who the Holy Spirit actually is.  He writes, “..the Holy Spirit has will and intelligence and feeling and knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think and hear and speak and desire the same as any person has.” (p11)

I have never used so much hilighter ink on 65 pages in my life – this book is truly an important one to read.  When Tozer poses the question, What is He Like?, he answers with, “…exactly like Jesus.  You have read your New Testament, and you know what Jesus is like, and the Holy Spirit is exactly like Jesus..” (p20)

This little book is about so much more than just the Holy Spirit – although that topic alone is so valuable and worthy of an entire book.  Tozer talks about what the church should look like, what our lives as Christians should look like, the love of the Father, the glory of the Son and even so much more than that!

Before talking through some very practical ways to pursue, to be filled with, to walk with the Holy Spirit, Tozer first spends quite a few pages asking if we really want to be filled with the Spirit.  In the same way that Jesus asked “do you really want to follow me?”, Tozer asks, “are you sure you want to be possessed by a spirit other than your own?”  He says, “before you can be filled with the Spirit, you must desire to be filled.” (p45)

I found myself reflecting on

my actions – Am I living in a way that reflects the heart of Jesus?

my thoughts – Are my thoughts pure?  Is my heart clean?

my desire for God – Do I crave more of Him so deeply that I would allow Him to have actual control over my entire life?

This book is more than a few sermons about the Holy Spirit.  It is a call to action.  To prayer.  To pursuit of God.  To a desire for nothing less than more of Jesus.  Tozer’s words leave me with a deeper understanding of who the Holy Spirit is and a greater desire to know Him more fully.  This book was the best way I’ve ever spent an hour of my time.  I pray that you’ll go buy it, read it and be changed by it’s truth.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.