Friday, March 27, 2009

My pregnancy so far

I have reached that point in pregnancy where it has begun to dawn on us that very soon we will need to care for a newborn! Nappy websites have suddenly taken on a fascination (which combination, exactly, should I purchase for night wear I wonder . . . ?).  I have even been known to dream about cloth nappies (or maybe those were nightmares).

At 34 weeks of pregnancy, the goals that seemed so achievable when I made them in January have a much closer deadline! The fact that Mum gave birth to her first child 3 weeks early is a reminder that it really could happen any time. The freezer is already full of food (more than 20 meals), and thankfully the quilt top is sewn together now . . . 

. . . and I remind myself that baby will just want to be fed and cuddled, and really won't care whether Mummy's scrapbooks are up-to-date or there is a framed ABC cross stitch on the wall!

Thankfully my goals have been fairly simple. I am aiming for three things in this season of life:
  • simplify 
  • prioritise
  • choose the best
I have set out basic things that I should aim for in late pregnancy and after birth:
  • simple meals
  • rest and self care
  • laundry, dishes, toilet cleaning
  • prayer
  • remembering God's word
  • time with Dave
I've also written down a whole lot of the things that can completely drop off my list if need be, including:
  • Dusting
  • Tidying
  • Blogging
  • Sweeping and mopping
  • Craft
  • Organising
  • Reading anything more than the Bible
Hopefully having these things written down will help me focus on what is most important on hard days. 

I feel exceptionally blessed in my pregnancy so far, despite the fact that the mishaps just keep happening! My chronic back pain has not grown worse, and overall I have felt healthy and happy. These are amazing blessings, considering my physical limitations.

Speaking of mishaps . . . 

Pregnancy brain is a real phenomenon. Honestly. Have you ever left your wallet at home and not realised until some of your groceries had been scanned? Remedies . . . 
  • Just accept it!
Lady, remember you have a TUMMY! It took me a long time to register that I could no longer fit through the same spaces as before. On one visit to the hospital I rammed someone with my tummy and said "I'm sorry, I keep forgetting I have a tummy!" Remedies . . . 
  • Try to move more slowly
Baby will play up at the worst times . . . I am not sure if I can really blame the baby, but when I was a bridesmaid recently I did suspect him/her of being very naughty. I got such a severe cramp at the hairdresser's that I ended up crawling around her bathroom floor rubbing my side, in an effort to ease the pain. I was in there quite a while, and then had to lie on the couch. Meanwhile, baby was kick, kick, kicking right where the worst pain was and had changed position a lot since that morning. Thankfully I recovered in time for the ceremony. Possible remedies . . . 
  • Laugh, laugh, and laugh some more. Really, what could be funnier than crawling around the floor in agony when you're meant to be painting the bride's nails?
  • Keep in mind that accepting any major responsibilities while pregnant could be hazardous!
Truly, I do find these things funny and it all adds to the adventure that is being pregnant for the first time. Next time my blogging month is here, I may no longer be pregnant! I am reminded to enjoy this unique stage of life that lasts such a short time. Baby is not due until May 6, but we are hoping to see him/her a little early. Please join with us in praying for a healthy and natural birth.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sure, you can be a Christian polygamous, petrol sniffing, right-wing racist if you like.

We’ve all heard the argument. “Well, the Bible doesn’t say anything about _____”. Or, with more sophistication “That is not a matter about which the Bible is clear, so we really shouldn’t make judgements”. The idea behind both statements is that if the Bible doesn’t speak to something specifically, we are left to our own opinions and conscience.

The key reason why such arguments do not satisfy me is that I have yet to see how they can be applied consistently. Why, exactly, don’t they lead to the conclusion put forward in the title of this blog post? When does the Bible become specific enough to listen to? There are many things that the Bible does not specifically mention which the Christian church has long held to be sinful or at least unwise (and being unwise is not, as I’ve attempted to demonstrate, much of a step up from outright sin).

I have shocked people when I pointed out that the Bible says “nothing” specific about the evils of paedophilia or polygamy . . . I didn’t mention de-facto marriage, slave owning, or membership of the Nazi party. Yet surely Christians must face and explain these things if they are to put forward the argument that if something is not mentioned specifically it is an area of Christian freedom. If an argument does not work when it comes to large matters, does it work for small ones? If so, how do we make the distinction?

I believe that the Bible does speak, directly or indirectly, to almost all areas of life. The Bible doesn’t use the word paedophilia, but it forbids sex outside of loving marriage. The Bible doesn’t condemn polygamy outright. It shows its destructive consequences and deviation from God’s plan. There are areas where the Bible specifically says we are entirely free: what we eat and drink and what days we keep (Romans 14). In these cases, the Bible does speak – and tells us to follow our own conscience.

As we seek to grapple with what the Bible says, there are many things to keep in mind:
  • We are to seek peace with one another, and it is wise to hold our tongues (read Proverbs!). I often fail on this one!
  • Many of us struggle to live out the Bible’s obvious teachings, and we need to focus on these. How many of us can say we’ve “arrived” when it comes to forgiving others or helping the poor?
  • Some areas of life are less important than others, and the very clear (love on another) must never be forgotten in our attempts to understand other matters.
Even when Christians are genuinely seeking to find out what the Bible’s implications are for a particular issue, they will not always come to agreement. It is still better, however, to attempt to make a Biblical case for one’s position. Otherwise, what will you have to say to the Christian polygamous, petrol-sniffing, right-wing racist when he tells you not to judge him? In my opinion . . . ?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Engagement Anniversary

Dave and I had a great time celebrating our engagement anniversary on March 9. It is now two years since that happy day when we decided to get married. We are happier than ever that God led us to make that choice! We went to the historic town of Richmond to eat lunch and search for a wedding present for friends. 

Dave took these pictures on self-timer . . . 

Educating for godly dominion

Last month, I posted an introductory comment on Christian education that I wrote as part of my Diploma of Education studies at Wesley Institute. Now I would like to share further from the belief statement I have drawn up, with this section on the Creation Mandate.

"As Christians we know that people are made in God’s image, to rule His world (Genesis 1:26). Part of this Creation Mandate is to form families through having children (Genesis 1:28). In order that humanity will rule the world well, parents are commanded to teach their children God’s ways. This teaching is not to be a haphazard and infrequent task. Rather, parents are to look for opportunities to share God’s word during every waking moment (Deuteronomy 6: 7). Truly Christian education, whether at home or at school, involves continual and deliberate sharing about God and what he has commanded. Parents can fulfil this responsibility through home schooling, which is the way that I was educated. If parents do not choose this option, Christian schools provide another way for children to be trained in God’s ways and from his perspective. Christian schooling enables parents to delegate their responsibility to teachers who love God. Teachers are there to help parents train their children to work in families and communities, and exercise responsible rulership over the earth. As families and communities take godly dominion, they glorify and enjoy their Creator."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Joyful Motherhood

Psalm 139:9 says "He grants the barren woman a home, like a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!". As I read this verse, it struck me that "joyful" and "mother" are not words I think of together often! I was further challenged on this point when I listened to a Nancy Campbell teaching CD. Nancy shared her belief that God wants us as women to not just be mothers but joyful mothers.

How different this image God provides is to what we often see around us. I don't know about you, but when I think of words to describe the Mums I have known "joyful" is not the first word that comes to mind. Here are some of the things I might think of:

*Long suffering

What about you?

After listening to the teaching CD, I chaged my prayer for children somewhat. I began to pray that I would become a joyful mother of children. I knew that becoming a joyful Mum, when so many Mums I had known were not characterised by joy, would be just as much an act of God as the conception and birth of a child for us. This prayer has become a continual one for me, as I am constantly reminded of the many ways that it is easy to radiate anything but joyful motherhood! Even pregnancy brings many challenges . . . and I can easily see myself becoming a complaining not a joyful mother!

Here are some of the things I think may steal mothers' joy:

Anxiety for our children and ourselves. God's word repeatedly reminds us not to be anxious. However, if you are anything like me you are not very good at obeying this command.

Self-imposed pressure or pressure from others to do, do, do - and do it just right! Unlike Jesus' yoke, the yokes we impose on ourselves are often heavy.

Comparison with others. God's word speaks to this and tells us that each one should "examine his own work, and then he will have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another" (Galatians 6:4).

I believe there may also be things that contribute to a joyful attitude:

Confidence in God's purpose for us as mothers - the deep assurance that God has created us for this role and he will provide all we need to do it.

Trust is a closely related concept. Trust that God will do what is best for us and our children.

Knowledge that in laying down our lives we find them. We do not need to chaff against the self-sacrifice and loss of space and time that are basic to motherhood. Instead, we can see this as one way of being like Christ in dying to our own desires. If we know that this self-sacrifice is the path to true joy, we are comforted in the changes and sufferings that motherhood brings.

Investing all our energy and passion into what God has called us to at this time. There are countless opportunities out there to better ourselves, to serve others, to "escape the kids", etc. Often, the opportunities are the worst temptations! "Good" things that actually take us from what we are primarily called to do as wives and mothers, and increase that self-imposed pressure. I have even experienced this in pregnancy.

I am just starting out on my journey of being a Mum . . . so I'd love to hear from more experienced readers about what you believe keeps us from being joyful Mums and what helps us to live out God's heart for us - joyful motherhood!