This past weekend, I had the privilege of delivering a short message for a baby shower. I decided to share it here as well, in case somebody needs to read it:

 

 

Today I want to talk about the miracle of new life. About the wonder of God’s creation.

 

When I was 23 years old and living in a foreign country, I was nine months pregnant and had no idea what I had gotten myself into. My husband is a black South African, and I remember sitting on the edge of the bed about a week before my due date, sobbing.

 

My husband asked, “What’s wrong now?” (Because, pregnancy hormones.)

 

“What if it’s a girl?” I cried. “What will I do with her hair?!”

 

Well, it was a girl—and it took me nine years before I finally figured out what to do with her hair.

 

But let’s rewind to the day she was born. After an emergency C-section, they placed this unfamiliar bundle on my chest. She looked Chinese. Her face was pasty and wrinkly, her eyes were squinted closed, her lips were bright red. I didn’t know her. She didn’t know me.

 

Over the next few days in the hospital, we sat there staring at each other.

 

And I was utterly mesmerized by the creation I held in my lap. The straight, jet black hair. The black eyes. The tiniest fingernails and toes. And I thought to myself, “Who can look at a newborn baby and not be fully persuaded that the God of the universe must have created the world?” The intricacies and detail of a brand new human, fully formed, is remarkable.

 

In my mind at the time, she was perfect.

 

Fast forward just seven sleepless months, and my little bundle of perfection has learned how to army crawl. She’s squirming forward with determined intent, and her eyes are set on the outlet on the wall. She pauses and turns around to look at me. “No!” I say firmly, with my pointer finger extended like moms are supposed to do. I caught a hint of a smile in her eyes as she turned around and forged ahead, goal growing ever closer.

 

“No!” I said again, louder this time. She stopped crawling, turned around again, and smiled her charming smile. “I said, ‘No!’” I repeated. Fully aware of the meaning of the word, my precious angel resumed her mission, completely ignoring my command.

 

So I scooped her up, sat on the steps, laid her on her tummy across my lap, and was about to spank her for the first time. I pulled back her diaper—and got a hand full of poop.

 

Totally grossed out, all I could do was laugh, and my poor child was utterly confused.

 

Today she’s 11 years old and whenever she hears that story, she reminds me that she got the last laugh. She says, “Mom, you were trying to teach me a lesson, but I taught you a lesson instead!”

 

But the point of that whole story is to say that my innocent little newborn did not stay innocent for long—in fact, nobody had to teach her how to do wrong. Nobody had to teach her how to sin. She already had that capacity stored up within her.

 

Just like you and me.

 

In fact, in the book of Psalms in the Bible, David writes, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” David doesn’t say he became aware of his own sin when his mom told him a story about how he army crawled toward the outlet when he was seven months old. He doesn’t even say he became sinful after he was born—he says he was sinful from the time his mother conceived him.”

 

The Bible tells us that because Eve took the fruit in the Garden of Eden and gave some to her husband, who also ate it, sin entered the world, and as a result, every single one of us is a sinner. Without God’s intervention, we are all living in rebellion against Him and His Word. Without Jesus as Lord of our lives and without the Holy Spirit dwelling within us, we’re not just army crawling toward the outlet on the wall – we’re running toward it. We’re sprinting head-on toward destruction.

 

So what are we supposed to do?

 

During Jesus’ lifetime, a man named Nicodemus had a similar question. In the Gospel of John, chapter three, it says:

 

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.”

 

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.”

 

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!”

 

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’”

 

A few verses later in the same chapter, we read,

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.”

 

So how can we be born again?

 

By believing in God’s only Son, Jesus Christ, as the only way we can be saved from our sins, and by trusting in Him and His death and resurrection for our salvation.

 

I started by saying I wanted to talk about the miracle of new life. And while the birth of a baby is certainly a miraculous thing—it is not the most miraculous thing. The most miraculous thing is God coming in the form of a baby, being born of a human mother, so He could one day carry the sins of His people on the cross, take the punishment and die the death we deserve, defeat death and conquer sin by rising again on the third day so that those who put their faith in Him will have the gift of new life.

 

But here’s the catch—my daughter didn’t know how to be born. She had no part in the process, other than to gasp her first breath and let out a loud cry—and even that breath and that cry was placed in her by the God who created her.

 

In the same way, when we’re born again, it’s God’s doing. Before we accept Christ as our personal Lord and Savior, we are dead in our sins—and we all know that dead people can’t do anything, not even reach up a hand for help. There is nothing you or I can do to earn our way into heaven. No matter how good we think we are, it’s not good enough. God has to stir in our hearts by the power of His Holy Spirit, and He is the one who causes us to gasp that first breath of new life and cry out to Him, “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner!”

 

I encourage you today, as we celebrate a new baby about to be born for the first time, and the gift and miracle of new life, to ask yourself, “Have I been born again?”

 

If the answer is no, or even if you’re not sure, I’d love to talk with you.

 

Becoming a child of God is the best decision you could ever make, and the best way to celebrate and thank Him for the miraculous gift of this new baby.

 

Related post: Trusting God with Our Children

Trusting God with our children

 

It’s the beginning of February, and if you live in the northern hemisphere and you’re anything like me, you’ve just slipped into the doldrums of a dreary winter where patience runs thin and tempers run high.

You’ve been sanitizing kitchen counters and toilet seats after weeks of circulating germs, and right about now you’d give anything for a breath of fresh air. Or maybe a mocha Frappuccino.

 

breathe

 

Well, I’ve brought you a breath of fresh air for this week’s Five Minute Friday post.

It’s my great privilege to welcome Five Minute Friday founder, Lisa-Jo Baker, to the blog this week!

She has an exciting announcement to share with all of us, and I’m so glad she’s here!

In honor of our special guest, this week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is:

 

breathe

 

Here’s Lisa-Jo:

 

My stomach hurts. My rib cage feels like it’s crushing my lungs. I’m sitting here at the old farmhouse table with the crumbs trapped in the cracks reminding myself over and over and over again that life isn’t actually an emergency. It’s a gift.

 

So why are my hands clenched so tight?

 

I’m like a kid with a cracker, a treat, a delight that she’s about to crush to death because she won’t open her hands. I’m holding on way to tight to this dream of freedom. You can’t be free if you won’t let go.

 

And I want so many moms to be free from anger from temper from the guilt that they’re doing it all wrong. I want us to let go and exhale and take such big gulps of free air together.

 

I want to breathe deep these promises that God makes all things new. Including weary moms. Including moms who feel like they’re doing it all wrong. When really all that worry means they’re doing all right. It means they’re ready for change. For life, for fresh air and a chance to write new stories in their homes.

 

Altogether now, open your hands. Breathe in. Breathe out. Tomorrow is coming as only tomorrow can. On the promise of grace and a sunrise painted by a God who holds tomorrow in his hand. A God who will complete this good work in each of us and carry us if necessary across the finish line.

 

There are crumbs in the cracks and to many to-dos but right now, in this moment, I can unclench my hands.

 

and just take the next breath.

 

***

A Note from Lisa-Jo Baker

If you’ve been following my blog for any time at all then you know that I’ve spent the past DECADE trying to tame the temper I didn’t know I had before I became a mom.

 

breathe

 

Because it didn’t make sense that I could simultaneously love my tiny humans like nothing else on earth while also feeling like nothing else could make my head want to explode in quite the same way. It stunned me to one day find myself nose-to-nose with a six year old screaming my lungs out.

 

What kind of mother feels like that? A bad one, I told myself. I was sure I must be a bad mom because I was capable of a kind of rage that scared me.

What I’ve learned is that we are NOT bad moms!

 

breathe

 

We are good moms, we are normal human beings dealing with abnormal circumstances (sleep deprivation, zero privacy or personal space or alone time) and what we don’t need is more guilt! What we need are the tools to help get us through.

 

The blog posts I’ve written about my struggle with my temper have been my most highly read and shared posts. And the ones I get the most email about and the most speaking invitations to teach on. I hear you sisters — the struggle with mom temper is real!

So I’ve finally done something I’ve wanted to do for YEARS!

I’ve packaged up everything I’ve learned about my mom temper (the hard way) over the last decade of parenting and everything I teach at my workshops so that you can put it into practice in your own homes.

 

And I’m calling it The Temper Toolkit.

 

stop losing your temper

The Temper Toolkit is a labor of love from me to you — a collection of practical strategies, honest stories, and Biblical resources from one mom to another to help you take control of your temper BEFORE you lose it.

 

All for the cost of one exhausted drive-through dinner with the kids after a day of meltdowns.

 

Just click here to get access to The Temper Toolkit!

 

In this together!

Lisa-Jo

NOTE: The Temper Toolkit is only available through Monday, February 6th, so act fast!

 

 

Side note: I couldn’t let a prompt like “Breathe” pass by without a shameless plug for the Breathe Christian Writers Conference, happening October 6-7, 2017! Click here to learn more!

 

breathe

 

This year, Leslie Leyland Fields will be the keynote speaker!

 

Lord willing, it will be my third consecutive year attending the Breathe Conference. I’d *love* to see you there!

 

Disclosure: Affiliate links used in this post.

 

Now it’s your turn! Give us your best five minutes of free writing on the prompt, BREATHE!

 

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stop losing your temper

When my mom was alive, she used to say I was so patient with my kids.

If only she knew.

 

stop losing your temper

They sure know how to bring out the best in us, don’t they?

I used to be such a calm and collected individual — now I can blow fire through my nostrils over the tiniest of infractions.

I hate it.

I don’t want my kids to remember me for my outbursts. I don’t want anger to characterize my life.

I want to be “quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:19b-20).

But how?

Cue Lisa-Jo Baker’s brand new video resource, The Temper Toolkit.

The Temper Toolkit is a collection of practical strategies, honest stories, and biblical resources from one mom to another to help moms like you and me take control of our temper BEFORE we lose it.

CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

 

This fabulous and much-needed resource includes: 7 teaching videos, 5 bonus videos, downloadable audio (so you can listen on the go) and key takeaways from each lesson beautifully designed as phone lock screens, computer wallpapers or a print so you can choose which format is best to help you take the lessons with you wherever you go.

Be encouraged and have hope:

 

 

stop losing your temper

It’s easy to get down on ourselves and feel like a failure when we blow it yet again.

One thing I love about Lisa-Jo Baker is that she helps put things into perspective. She teaches from experience, and she knows exactly what it’s like to fight these losing battles day after day.

 

stop losing your temper

 

 

Are you ready to gain control of your temper? Are you aching to have peace in your home?

Act quickly — The Temper Toolkit is only available for five days: Today through Monday, February 6th!

Get access now!

We don’t show our kids their report cards.

(I’ll give you a moment to recover from that potentially shocking news.)

 

report cards

 

Our three children were homeschooled for five years before they transitioned into a small Christian school. During the first several weeks at their new school, they didn’t even know what report cards were. (Feel free to chuckle.)

However, they quickly learned the value of a 94% score versus a 76% on a spelling test, and the difference between A’s, B’s, and C’s appearing in red ink at the top of their math quizzes.

In no time, grades were affecting their emotions—both positively and negatively.

One of my kids earned consistently high test scores, and started lauding his success aloud. At the end of every school day, I was met with a verbal report about another 100% in this or that subject.

I watched another one of my children battle with significant discouragement after misspelling five words on his weekly test. Without anyone speaking negative words, he compared himself and his score to the other children in his class, and concluded that he was worthless and good for nothing.

At this stage, you may be starting to think that shielding our children from potential disappointments is the reason we don’t show them their report cards.

But that’s not the case.

Read the real reasons we don’t show our kids their report cards over at iBelieve.com.

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Many kids count down to the end of the school year, but once summer break begins, some parents begin counting the days until it’s over. Kids love having more free time, but often it helps to have some planned activities to add a bit of structure to their days.

Here are some fun suggestions to make this summer staycation the best one yet. When boredom threatens to settle in, be ready with this arsenal of ideas.

•    Create your own board game based on a favorite chapter book or movie — or maybe you could base your game on a book or section of the Bible, such as the ten plagues, the life of Joseph, or the book of Esther. Grab a posterboard and brainstorm some of the main action points in the story, then include them in your game.

•    Play your own version of The Amazing Race, or create a scavenger hunt around your town. At the end, talk about how your family overcame the challenges and twists in the road.

•   Pretend like you are researchers or historians. Research the history of the churches in your town. Try to find out which one is the oldest, and how it started. See if you can interview the pastor or some of the older congregation members. Write what you learn, and think about God’s faithfulness in preserving His church. Design a timeline or poster illustrating key events and interesting facts you discover.

•    Make handmade greeting cards with words of encouragement or Bible verses, then deliver them to a nursing home in your area. See what a joy it can be to be a blessing and bring a smile to an elderly person’s face.

•    Organize a neighborhood bake sale. Collect donated baked goods, sell them, and give the proceeds to a local charity or mission organization.

•    Write letters or send a care package to someone serving in the military or on the mission field. For other ideas on how to encourage missionaries, click here.

•    Hold your own Master Chef competition. Using only five or six ingredients, have a contest to see which family member can prepare the most appetizing dish.

•    Check out some audio books from your nearest library. Go home, make some lemonade and popcorn, and enjoy the story!

•    Make a list of five different countries around the world. Find a recipe for a traditional dish that represents a culture from each country. Block off a week on your calendar as Around the World Week, and plan to eat from a new region each evening.

•    Plan a talent show. Invite friends or neighbors, and perform your favorite skits, songs, or poems for each other.

•    Gather a few other families and meet at the park for a fun-filled track and field evening. Plan potato sack races, water balloon tosses, three-legged races, long jumps, and softball throws.

•    Map out a frisbee golf course, grab some discs, and start a new hobby!

•    Set up an obstacle course in your backyard, or in your driveway. Use sticks or sidewalk chalk to construct a course, find a stopwatch, and let the fun begin!

 

 

What are some unique activities your family enjoys doing together during summer break?