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  • Children's Book Recommendations

    A friend and I were texting the other day about children's books as she is expecting her first grandchild soon. I was excited to send her my recommended pregnancy books and told her when I had time I would send her our favorite children's books too. When I was taking pictures today, I thought I should write a blog about them and share them with all of you too! 

    I've made it a point to buy Aila and Avie books that are focused on character-building and learning about Jesus and His truths. I've even went as far as to pass along or donate most of our books that didn't really go along with that focus. So many kids books don't seem to have much point other than to tell a random story about princess or an animal on an adventure, for example. If it is extra educational (involving math, learning letters/grammar or facts about science, history, etc), promotes building character (kindness, patience, or emotional intelligence), or if it speaks truth about the Godhead, then it stays. Pretty much anything else gets passed along. 

    So here are thirteen of our favorite books in our house: 

    1. It Will Be Okay, by Lysa TerKeurst

    The first time I read this book to our girls I lost it--full blown crying and my girls were turning and looking at me like I was...well, their momma (because this happens quite frequently when you fill your house with books about Jesus). It's just really good-- it's about trusting God to take care of us, even when life gets scary.



    2. Does God Know How To Tie Shoes, by Nancy White Carlstrom

    This books is a little different in that I think of it as very abstract, or maybe imaginative? But I love that it incorporates scripture in conversational form as we do with our kids every day.

     Here's a sample:



    3. Next up, Just In Case You Ever Wonder, by Max Lucado

    This one I cried the first time reading too-- it is heart wrenching in a "I just want my girls to know about God more than anything else in the world and know I love them and am here for them no matter what" kind of way! We love this one. 

    See what I mean? 

    4. In My Heart, by Jo Witek

    This one is focused on teaching kids about their feelings. It doesn't mention God in it, but I think it's a great tool for increasing emotional intelligence. 



    5. I Talk To God About How I Feel, by Stormie Omartian

    This one takes emotional intelligence to the next level by inviting the Lord into those turbulent emotions. The pages of this book take kids through lonliness, fear, worry, anger and hurt. It teaches how to tell God about those emotions and tells of what God does and says in response. 



    6. Psalm 23, by Richard Jesse Watson

    This one is nothing but Psalm 23. I love that the girls can learn scripture and have a mental image to help with that memorization process. 



    7. Have You Filled A Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud

    This book shines in the concept and is a little lacking on the design and wording. I think it rambles a little and could be shortened by about half, but the idea that everyone carries an invisible bucket and it's up to us whether we fill each other up or tear them down is great. It dives into bullying and how people who "dip" into other people's buckets in an attempt to fill their own end up sad and empty. I would be so happy if Aila and Avie got this concept into their hearts forever and they strive to always be "bucket fillers".



    8. The Tale of Three Trees, retold by Angela Elwell Hunt

    Oh, this is a sweet story of dreams, patience, sacrifice and perspective. This one may make you tear up too, if you're anything like me. 


    9. Win Or Lose I Love You, by Lysa TerKeurst


    10. Thank You, God, For Everything, by August Gold

    This one truly is golden for walking alongside 'Daisy' through her journey of learning all she can be thankful for to God. Young and old will benefit from reading this book of gratitude.



    11. If Jesus Lived Inside My Heart, by Jill Roman Lord

    This sweet hardback book has been perfect for beginner babies learning about God. It's short, rhymes, and talks all about what it looks like if Jesus has set up residence in our hearts. 



    12. What Happens When I Talk To God? by Stormie Omartian

    This book is all about prayer! It is a little long (as I have found all my children's books are by Stormie Omartian), but it covers so many aspects of prayer--where and when you can pray, if you have to speak out loud, what to say and more. Let's teach our kids to pray when they're young so when they are older their prayers will be natural, confident and unashamed of talking to God in private or in public!



    13. His Little Princess, by Sheri Rose Shepherd

    Lastly, this book is one of favorties and we've started giving it as a gift along with one of these glittery, stretchy crowns at birthday parties. It is for little girls and speaks of their true value and identity as a daughter of the Most High King. I believe little girls would grow up to be less insecure, less shame-filled and more dependent upon the Lord if they confidently knew of their true identity. It is written for God's real princesses and is not a fiction, fairy tale book--genius. 

    Just look at this sample: 

    Well, those are some of our favorites! I didn't include any of our children's Bibles because there are so many out there. If you have any character-building and/or God-filled books you and your little ones love, please share them in the comments!

    Happy and healthy reading, 

    Kory 

  • Working With a Baby On Your Hip

    Our daughter, Aila, turned one year old in January! It has been so fun being her mom over the last year.

    But one thing that has been most challenging for me is still accomplishing all the tasks throughout the day that I still need to do. I am a task-oriented person, therefore not being able to do everything I want in a day really irritates me. I know my value does not come from accomplishing. Let me stress that again, just in case you missed it: as a task-oriented person, I do not get my value from accomplishing tasks! My value comes from the value God has placed on my being, which was determined before the beginning of time.

    "Your eyes saw me before I was put together. And all the days of my life were written in Your book before any of them came to be." Psalm 139:16 NLV

    "This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life." John 3:16 MSG

    “Before I shaped you in the womb, I knew all about you. Before you saw the light of day, I had holy plans for you..." Jeremiah 1:5 MSG

    Learning how He values instead of trying to prove myself constantly has been tough--especially since little Aila has been on the scene. There have been days that when I was laying down for bed at night, I felt like a failure, despite all the love that I gave that girl {diaper changes, nursing around the clock, outfit changes, cuddles and play time}. I enjoy doing laundry, washing dishes {aka, loading the dishwasher}, cleaning the house, paying bills, sending cards, hosting parties, organizing our schedule, meal planning, etc. That's why I stay so busy as a stay-at-home mom. When I did work as a nurse in the hospital, I thought multiple times while trying to pick up shifts from their schedule, "I am just too busy to work!" It was always so hard to fit in a shift when really I wanted to use that time to reserach a new meal or custom-fit our old pillowcases to our new pillows {tutorial coming!}. 

    So how do I still get work done after having a first baby? Here are some tips I've learned so far:

    1) Prioritize

    First of all, decide what is most important to you. There are basic needs for everyone in the family--decide what you must do everyday and then work your way from most important tasks to least important. Write them down!

    Photo Credit

    I've learned that I easily make time for food and drink--hands down, that's easy. But after providing basic meals for Ryan, Aila and I, it gets a little harder. After years of trying to justify not doing things "I know I should do", I have started to really prioritize the things most important to me--like actually put them into action. If I don't do my quiet time first thing in the morning, it likely will not get done. But something I am even less motivated to accomplish on a regular basis is exercising! I will get in the Word and study my Bible for hours to avoid a workout! Ugh... So just this week I have started making myself go to bed by 10:00pm. Wellness Mama, Katie, talks about the importance of enough sleep here and the Holy Spirit has just not let me get it out of my head. I need seven to eight hours of sleep and I am making it non-negotiable. Going to bed at 10:00pm has enabled me to wake up at 6:00am every day to exercise before Aila wakes up around 7:00am. 

    2) Utilize nap time

    Nap time, glorious nap time. Ryan and I implemented The Sleep Lady's Goodnight Sleep Tight Sleep Solution for Aila when she was about five weeks old and we do not regret it for a second! Since she was 9 months old, she has been sleeping 12 hours straight at night and napping for an hour and a half for both of her naps {in the beginning it was 2hrs for the first and 1.5hrs for the second--it will continue to change as she gets older}. In the beginning, I took naps when she did, but as my sleep deprivation lessened, I started utilizing nap time more and more. 

    Because I've started working out before Aila wakes up, I have two nap times to accomplish tasks that I just can't do while she is awake. It took time to figure out what those were: I can cook and clean while she is awake--she just plays next to me while I am cleaning or enjoys sitting on the countertop playing with ingredients as I prepare meals. She also enjoys playing in new places for short periods of time--for example, exploring the basement while I do laundry and pulling out bottles of hair product from their drawer while I do my hair and makeup. 


    If you try this at home, do NOT walk away while your child is three feet in the air and unrestrained! I thankfully know this from common sense, not experience! 

    Tasks I can not accomplish while she is awake: paperwork, computer work, reading, sewing--pretty much anything where I am sitting still. She will forget her toys exist and only want up on my lap to check out {destroy} whatever it is I am trying to accomplish. After I figured out, in general, what I need to do only when she naps, then each day I just decide what I need to accomplish.


    Closet-cleaning at my parent's home when Aila was around 3 months old.

    Just as I won't exercise if I don't do it before Aila wakes up, I also will not likely spend intimate time with the Lord if I don't do it during her first nap. It's as if once my task-mode turns on, it doesn't turn off until night time. My intimate time with the Lord can just NOT be 'done' in task-mode. Sometimes I journal: my thoughts, feelings, desires, frustrations, what I am learning, fears, details of special events or conversations, etc. Other times I do actual Bible study by finding scripture on my own and digging into it's original meaning using a Strong's Concordance or study tool. Or I study the Bible by using a guided study, such as the 'Daniel' study I am going through right now by Beth Moore. One other method my Aunt Linda enlightened me to recently is the Lectio Divina method. You can read more about this method here, but basically you follow a four-step process of meditating on scripture. 1} You read your scripture of choice all the way through at least once and then listen for the "still, small voice", or a word or phrase that sticks out to you. 2} You reflect on that portion and think about how it applies to you--WHY do you think it spoke to you more than the rest of the words in that portion of scripture? 3} Open your heart to God about your thoughts and feelings regarding what spoke to you--it may be praise, confusion, anger, frustration, joy, relief, etc. This step ushers you into conversation with God--the act of relationship with Him. And lastly, 4} listen to what God says to you in response to what you shared with Him.

    "This is a freeing of oneself from one's own thoughts, both mundane and holy, and hearing God talk to us. Opening the mind, heart, and soul to the influence of God." ~S. Michael Houdmann. 

    3) Accept help or "me time"

    My 'mother-in-love' has occassionally and graciously offered "Kory time" to me to do whatever I want to do! It's usually a few times a month for around four hours at a time. It. Is. Glorious! Though I have adjusted to life with a baby, there are some things I definitely miss from my former, 'married without a child' life. What I miss most is being able to leave my house to study, read a novel, or spend intimate time with the Lord--whether that is at a coffee shop, a park or at a restaurant over a long lunch. I used to spend hours with a book or computer and headphones studying. Now, I am lucky to get an hour and a half straight with no interruptions. I also miss going to the grocery or shopping without making sure the diaper bag is loaded, spending five minutes loading her and her belongings in the car, constantly using disctraction methods to keep her patient while actually doing the shopping, and then spending another five minutes packing her and my purchases back in the car. I will never take 'just jumping out of the car' and running into a store for one item for granted again. I miss running easy errands! So during "me time" I don't usually clean the house or do laundry--I do whatever I want to do. If someone offers to watch your baby for a few hours, take it! 


    Aila with her "Suzu", my "mother-in-love".


    Aila with her MeMe Reichert, who often comes from Indiana to babysit for us.

    4) Give yourself some slack

    In a post about 'getting things done' I must mention that you should give yourself a break until your baby is 6-12 months old. If you are exhausted--sleep! Take care of your self, your basic needs, and the needs of your family first. The house can collect some dirt for a month or two until you are back to your motivated self. And let's be honest, it's more fun to clean a really dirty house than a clean one--you can see the results more easily! 

    5) Teach your child patience

    I strive to provide Aila opportunities each day to learn patience. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our children that they are not the center of the universe. Cloud and Townsend explain 'delaying gratification' great in their book, "Boundaries":

    "[Delay of gratification is] the ability to say no to our impulses, wishes, and desires for some gain down the road. The Scriptures place great value on this abilitiy. God uses this skill to help us see the benefits of planning and preparing. Jesus is our prime example, "Who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God" (Heb. 12:2). Generally, this skill isn't relevant until after the first year of life, as bonding needs to take precedence during that time. However, teaching delay of gratification can begin quickly by the beginning of the second year. Dessert comes after carrots, not before."

    Though it breaks my heart to see Aila's big 'ole tears falling down her cheeks, I know as long as her basic needs are being met {her diaper isn't dirty, she's not starving, she's safe and she's not in severe pain}, then she is learning a very important lesson by not getting everything she wants immediately. I want to love her well--to give cuddles, play time and plenty of attention--but discipline is just as essential for her to grow up as a mature, self controlled, humble and healthy child and adult. 

    One of my favorite books, "Bébé Day by Day" by Pamela Druckerman perfectly words Ryan and I's parenting goal for Aila and the virtue of patience:


    Photo Credit

    "The secret to patience isn't expecting a child to be a stoic who freezes and silently waits. Scientists have found that kids become good at waiting once they learn how to distract themselves--by inventing a little song or burping at themselves in the mirror, for instance. This makes the waiting bearable.
    French parents have discovered this too. They know that they don't even have to teach a child how to distract himself. If they simply say "wait" a lot (attend in French) and make a child practice waiting on a daily basis, she'll figure out how to distract herself. But if they drop everything the instant she complains that she's bored, or if they get off the phone when she interrupts, the child isn't going to get good at waiting. She's going to get good at whining."

    So that's where I am right now!

    I am learning how to do this whole Motherhood thing as I go along. I am sure Ryan and I will modify and adapt our methods to Aila's developmental changes as they come. I can only imagine what moms of multiple children are thinking while reading this advice. I wonder if it gets harder and harder or if you become more and more efficient with each additional child!? Hopefully Ryan and I will find out one day!

    I'd love to hear your thoughts and answer any questions--leave me a comment below! 

  • Nobody Beside You.

    Have you all heard the new Elevation Worship album? It came out one week ago. 

    It. Is. Amazing.

    I have never been to this church, but their worship has been strength to my body and food for my faith the last few years. You can preview and buy it here, or you can listen for free here by signing up for a free account {which is what Ryan and I have}. 

    I went through one of the darkest times in my life about two years ago. I quit my job {that I loved} because I had slowly and unknowingly developed a relationship there in the hospital that was becoming a threat, a temptation with the potential to kill, my faith and marriage. I had to seperate myself from the situation that would have only led to sin. "It's what is best for Ryan and I at this time" is what I told my coworkers, my close friends whom I had come to love over the previous four years. It was heart breaking, but God met me there--in my repentance, in my obedience, in my heart break, in my sobbing, and in my worship.

    My coworkers had welcomed me with open arms in the beginning as a travel nurse, which doesn't always happen.

    They watched me marry the man of my dreams. 
    They asked me to stay when my travel nurse contract was about to expire. 
    They rejoiced with me when Ryan and I got pregnant.


    They mourned with me when I miscarried.
    They rejoiced with us again during the first 10 weeks of our second pregnancy.
    And then wept with us again when no heartbeat was found in that baby either.

    Me in the hospital when I found out I miscarried--trying to keep hope alive, that His love was stronger.

    It was right after I found out I was pregnant with our third baby--we had heard a heartbeat and I was even starting to show--that I had to resign. They didn't fully understand why; I wanted to protect the privacy of myself and the person involved, so I left as quietly as I could. I remember one of my girl friends saying, "But you can't leave now--we have been through so much together. You're finally pregnant again!"

    When you weather the storms together, you want enjoy the sunshine that follows together. 

    During my last two weeks after I turned in my resignation, I wept during every shift that I had to tell people I was leaving {as a nurse, you don't see all of your coworkers every shift}. I would listen to this song by Elevation on repeat for the entire thirty minutes it took to get to work. Here are the lyrics to Give Me Faith: 

    I need You to soften my heart
    To break me apart
    I need You to open my eyes
    To see that You're shaping my life

    All I am, I surrender

    Give me faith to trust what You say 
    That You're good and your love is great
    I'm broken inside, I give you my life

    I need you to soften my heart
    To break me apart
    I need you to pierce through the dark
    And cleanse every part of me

    Those lyrics held me up. God strengthened me to do what I had to do through them. I chose to trust Him though I had no idea how I would go on. I often sobbed while singing them.

    He softened my heart. He broke me apart. He opened my eyes and showed me His plan.

    He gave me faith to believe Him. He is so good and His love is so great.

    He pierced through my darkness and cleansed every part of me. I am new, I am whole, I am clean, I am free.  

    It's been almost two years since I fled that yucky situation to protect myself and Elevation's worship is rocking my world again. Only this time I am in a completely different life stage. 

    He has PROVEN Himself faithful. My marriage is stronger than it ever has been. He has BLESSED us tremendously. We have a healthy daughter who smiles, eats and sleeps like she may not get another opportunity.

    He has REVEALED Himself to me in His Word. For what more can I ask?

    All the worries of this world, I will lay them at Your feet 
    Surrender every anxious thought for perfect peace, your perfect peace

    All the loved ones I hold dear, All my hopes and dreams and all my fears
    I will choose to trust Your name in everything, with everything 

    I will look up for there is none above You
    I will bow down to tell you that I need You 
    Jesus Lord of all, Jesus Lord of all

    I will take You at your Word, For Jesus You have taken hold of me
    All of my life is in your hands
    You are my strength, You are my strength

    I will look back and see that You are faithful
    I look ahead believing You are able
    Jesus Lord of all, Jesus Lord of all 

    {I will Look Up, Elevation Worship}

    Two years ago, I wept and did not think I could go on.

    Today, I danced around my kitchen with Aila giggling in my arms, singing all the wrong words to Glory Is Yours because, though I have heard them and it SHOOK my foundation, I'm still learning the lyrics. 

    Oh God, the glory is Yours, the kingdom is come and the battle is over
    Jesus in Your name we rise, And the glory is Yours, the glory is Yours

    Nobody beside You
    There has never been anyone, anything like You 
    There has never been ANYONE, anything like You  
    There has never been anyone, ANYTHING like You 
    THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANYONE, ANYTHING like YOU!

    Nobody beside You
    There will never be anyone, anything like You 
    There will never be ANYONE, anything like You  
    There will never be anyone, ANYTHING like You 
    THERE WILL NEVER BE ANYONE, ANYTHING like YOU!

    Don't just read those words, you have to listen to them--make sure you do. What an anthem, a declaration, a celebration. He has proven Himself to be EVERYTHING to me, everything I could ever possible need. If I need guidance, He is that. If I need peace, He is that. If I need comfort, He is that too. He is all powerful, all-mighty, ever-loving and an ever-constant help. He has caused me to rise, as that last song stated; He has lifted me up out of my pit and caused me to rise and walk again.. and the glory is HIS!

    He will answer every question you have and meet your every need if you ask Him. And the Glory is His, for God, there is nobody beside You. 

     

  • Figuring out this ER nurse mindset {Part two}

    {Originally Written on Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 12:42am, edited 8/2013}

    I heard a portion of scripture yesterday, well, really just heard the words “the least of these” and my mind turned to the patients I care for in the emergency room. I couldn’t remember initially what the rest of the scripture was, but I knew “the least of these” was referring to the down-and-out, the homeless, the poor, the widows, the people who don’t have what many of us do. I felt convicted. Convicted by those four words because I know my heart is searching to be more like Christ, to love everyone with an unconditional love, but my career as an ER nurse is challenging my ability to fulfill that call to love. “The least of these” are seen every day in my profession.

    “The least of these” is from the passage of scripture in Matthew 20; it’s in the parable of the sheep and the goats. They are described as those who are hungry, those who are thirsty, those who are homeless, those who are cold, those who are sick, and those who are in prison. It’s confusing really. Because many who are ‘hungry’ in the ER have made the decision to not work and have insurance because they don’t have to; the system has enabled it. Many of those who are “thirsty” look at you like you’re crazy when you offer ice water; they ask for a Sprite or Coke. One of our nurses met a man the other day who was homeless, living under a bridge, and was having an affair with a woman who was married (still living with her husband in an actual house). And many who are sick in the ER, as I described in my previous blog, are faking illnesses to the extent of having multiple major surgeries in order to get more narcotics. It’s difficult to look at these people and decide if they are “the least of these”, those God wants me to give food, drink, clothes, and shelter to, or if they are “the least of those” and don’t deserve it (as I discussed in my last blog). It’s confusing.

    So my next thought was that it all boils down to if it’s a heart issue. I have to search my own heart when I am taking care of each person as well as take a look at the heart of each person I am caring for. Take a look at these:

    “You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.” Matthew 5:8

    Sounds a lot like Proverbs 3:21-29, doesn’t it?

    “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

    It's important for me to be discerning of the people I care for. Just because he/she may fit the profile of “the least of these” doesn’t mean they are, or are not, evil. Often the reason we find out a patient is manipulative is by the words that they say.

    “Don't lose your grip on Love and Loyalty. Tie them around your neck; carve their initials on your heart. Earn a reputation for living well in God's eyes and the eyes of the people.” Proverbs 3:3

    This is my heart’s desire. I want to be discerning, but I want to be focused on my goal of unconditional love in my personal life and in my career.

    “But they did not listen or pay attention; instead, they followed the stubborn inclinations of their evil hearts. They went backward and not forward.” Jeremiah 7:24

    To mentally tolerate the patients who are not truly “the least of these”, yet expect to be treated as one, I need to keep this verse in mind. Those patients who are purposefully avoiding earning their own food and drink, who are faking illness or using their real illness to get more attention or narcotics than suitable, who intentionally don’t bring supplies for the long stay they will experience in the ER because they know we can supply those needs—those people are going backward, not forward. They are not growing as they could be. My whole purpose in life is to grow closer to and more like Christ with the effect of other people seeing His great love in me and wanting it also!

    So what do I do as an ER nurse for my patients? I unconditionally love them. I love them like Christ died for them, whether they are manipulative or sincere. He did die for them. Sure he was thinking of me when he took the beating, the nails, the weight of the world’s sin, but he was thinking of them just as much.

    When I sat down to write this blog, I went to one of my favorite bible websites to pull up verses and I searched “the least of these”. When I saw it was in the parable of the sheep and the goats, I immediately thought of Keith Green’s piano version. If you have not seen it, or even if you have, go watch it now! I first saw it in college and today when I watched it again it shook my world. Go watch it.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix8ddosjg-k


    The Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31-46)

    31-33"When he finally arrives, blazing in beauty and all his angels with him, the Son of Man will take his place on his glorious throne. Then all the nations will be arranged before him and he will sort the people out, much as a shepherd sorts out sheep and goats, putting sheep to his right and goats to his left.

    34-36"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what's coming to you in this kingdom. It's been ready for you since the world's foundation. And here's why:

    I was hungry and you fed me,
    I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me a room,
    I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
    I was sick and you stopped to visit,
    I was in prison and you came to me.'

    37-40"Then those 'sheep' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?' Then the King will say, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.'

    41-43"Then he will turn to the 'goats,' the ones on his left, and say, 'Get out, worthless goats! You're good for nothing but the fires of hell. And why? Because—

    I was hungry and you gave me no meal,
    I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
    I was homeless and you gave me no bed,
    I was shivering and you gave me no clothes,
    Sick and in prison, and you never visited.'

    44"Then those 'goats' are going to say, 'Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or homeless or shivering or sick or in prison and didn't help?'

    45"He will answer them, 'I'm telling the solemn truth: Whenever you failed to do one of these things to someone who was being overlooked or ignored, that was me—you failed to do it to me.'

    46"Then those 'goats' will be herded to their eternal doom, but the 'sheep' to their eternal reward."


    As the video ended, I was suddenly sobbing and cried, "Oh God, please forgive me!" I needed forgiveness for forgetting that he loves each of my patients, regardless as to what they do or say, or how they act. He has forgiven me for being just as wretched and I am extremely thankful.