Thursday, February 26, 2015

Motherhood and the 5 love languages

I am a mother of six, and I love each of my children very much.

I can prove it to you, too. I got up early for them this morning- very early. I used to be a night person, you know, in that other life. But this morning I was up before the birds. They woke to breakfast on the table. I wiped noses and bottoms, cleaned up spilled milk, cereal, and more milk. I remembered that one’s allergy medicine, and I found the other one’s missing shoe. I sat through another episode of Sheriff Callie’s Wild West. I started a load of laundry, answered a million questions from squeaky little voices, let the littlest one “help” me feed the dog, and made sure they were all wearing pants when we left the house.

I love my children. Are you convinced?
Perhaps you are convinced. But let’s ask another question, a more important one:
Are they convinced?
Do my children know that I love them?
Do yours?

Perhaps your morning was much like mine.  I am certain you could list a hundred little pieces of evidence that show you love your children. But mothers, hear this from my heart: it is possible to love our babies dearly, to serve them all day every day, and to not effectively communicate that love to their little hearts.

How can this be possible?
It is possible if we are not speaking the same language.

In the book The Five Love Languages of Children, Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell argue that love is our most basic need, and that we all carry around “love tanks,” so to speak. To be healthy and whole, we need our tanks filled: we need to be loved, and we need to KNOW we are loved.
Simple enough, perhaps. But here’s the challenge. Just as we each have different personalities, we also, the authors argue, give and receive love in different ways: we speak different love languages.
Imagine your child toddling around, carrying a huge question: Am I loved? Am I lovable? And especially in these early years, you, mom, are giving the loudest answer to this question.

(Now that's some serious pressure.)

There is an enormous difference in the way a life is experienced with a full or empty tank. Imagine an empty love tank like an empty stomach. When we are hungry, incredibly hungry, we can think of nothing else but satisfying that hunger. We won’t be learning, playing, socializing, not with our full attention. No, an empty stomach screams for attention; just like an empty love tank. Though they cannot articulate the problem, they are worried, insecure, sometimes frantically asking the question: Am I loved?

On the other hand, living with a full love tank is an enormous blessing for a child. When your child knows he is loved, he feels secure, confident: more likely to take the risk of learning something new, making a friend, exploring, discovering. He is satisfied- in body and heart- and so is able to grow and bloom.

So, how do we fill these love tanks? According to the authors, there are five overarching categories, and I plan to write about each one.

But first, a few preliminaries.
1. People generally have 1-2 primary love languages, though most people appreciate expressions of love in all five.
2. It’s nearly impossible to identify a child’s primary love language before age five.
3. Every child needs expressions in all five languages.
4. Knowing yourself is essential! Some of these languages will feel natural to you, and some, utterly foreign. Learn the difference so you know where you need to grow!

The five love languages are as follows:
Physical Touch
Words of Affirmation
Quality Time
Acts of Service

Imagine the busy-morning scene above. Now, imagine it through the eyes of a child whose primary love language is physical touch. And imagine his mama (me) most often uses touch only as a means to “get stuff done.” As in, “here, put this on.” “Give me your foot so I can tie your shoe.” “Stop it, I don’t want to wrestle right now! And “Don’t try to kiss me while I’m eating, ugh! Just eat your food!”  All the acts of service in the world would go unnoticed by the child who aches for snuggles.

On the one hand, I am who I am, and I love like I love. And yet, perhaps I could communicate better. Perhaps, in my vocation, I am called to love uncomfortably sometimes, love in a way that feels unnatural.  It is painful to notice those blind spots, and I seem to notice a new one each time I read this book! But it is a growing pain, a pain that shows me my need to stretch and what to pray for.
And friends, God does help with these things when we ask.

During this blog series, I intend to write on each of the love languages primarily from a mother's perspective, though I might address marriage and friendship situations as well.  I hope this series will be challenging and encourage to all of us as we seek to better love those around us with the help of God.

As we love the little ones you have placed in our lives, help us to communicate that love loudly and often, in ways they can understand. When the weight of this calling weights on us heavily, and we feel the inadequacy of our own love, fill us up with that which only You can give. Use our imperfect love to fill our children, and most importantly, point them always to You. 
In Jesus' name, Amen.

Do you already know which of the above is your primary love language?
Which area is your weakest?
How does an empty tank distract you?
How does it feel to have a full tank?

Share your thoughts with me below! I’d love to hear from you!

Be multi-lingual! Stretch and grow in the love languages, for the sake of those you love!

Visit for a quiz, resources, and book information.
The Five Love Languages books, in their many forms, are also available on Amazon.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Harry Potter Party - simple ideas!

Tired, but happy.

This is how I'm feeling after my daughter's 12th birthday party- Harry Potter theme.  I've never been inclined to do a "pinterest" type themed party for any of my children, but this year, I was inspired. We've been reading together, which led to watching the movies, which led to browsing pinterest, which led to ... the rest of it.  I do not consider myself crafty, and I spent next to nothing on it, but I think it turned out pretty awesome!

I thought it might be fun to show you what I did.  (Check out this board for more inspiration!)

First, hot glue is my new best friend! It lets you just glue stuff to stuff, just like that! Wow!

Like... green fluff on baby heads, to make baby mandrake cupcakes!

(The green stuff is cheap garland I had in my Christmas box, and I found the babies at Hobby Lobby for $2.)

Packaged cake mix.
Ground Oreos sprinkled on canned frosting.

A box, a Sharpie, and more hot glue:

Brown paper and a sharpie,
books from Hogwarts!

There are recipies out there, but my princess doesn't like carbonated beverages.
Plus, we went sledding that afternoon.
We opted for hot cocoa, with butter, and whipped cream on top.
Chocolate butterbeer!

An old sheet, a sponge, and red acrylic paint, and a sharpie:
Platform 9 3/4!
(Note: my helpers and I watered the paint down too much we we went along- it is hard to be consistent! It does look better with some texture though!)

Each child brought a book to exchange-
we did this by drawing names out of our "Goblet of Fire!"

(Someone else made this awesome candle for us for Christmas. It has an LED candle inside. I added the names, cardstock, with the edges burned for effect. The boys thought this was SO COOL.)

Washable red paint on the mirror.
(I looked for bright red lipstick first... whaddya know- I have NONE in this house!)

(Note Moaning Myrtle on the mirror- she spent some time on the toilet lid too!)

The Monster Book of Monsters!

And finally, the candles.

The Internet told me to use TP rolls, but they didn't fit my LED candles.  Instead, I rolled up cardstock (1/4page) around the candle and hot glued them in tubes. 
Then, thread, and masking tape for the ceiling.

Let me just say, I know they are off balance. And I am pretty sure this is driving my husband nuts. 
He will probably refuse to eat in this room until the candles are removed or straigtened.
But that's part of the fun, for me :)

I am just not that kind of person who is detail-oriented enough to make 20 floating candles balance perfectly. My fingers are a little sore from the glue burns, and there were cobwebs of clear glue all over the dining room, and one may have gotten briefly glued to a chair, but all is well now.
This room looked awesome with real lit candles.

Also, I printed out some of our favorite quotes and put them all over the living room!

Here's a quick walk-through so you can see it all put together!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Beautiful are the hands

“From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

He says this to each man, woman, and child in the congregation.
I bring him my children. Our children. He says it again.

“From dust you are and to dust you shall return.”

Does it prick his heart at all as he says these things to our baby?
Does any part of him object, rebel, when it looks on the dark mark on his own son or daughter?

My heart rebels, argues. Why death?
But I already know why, and the hard truth of it squeezes my heart.

How many of these, on whom he places ashes, will he bury?
How many will hear these words again at a graveside? How soon?
Our time is short.

The hand that holds mine as husband now touches my forehead as pastor. I receive what I’d rather ignore, and from such a hand.

Is there a part of him that trembles at the thought of my body’s death, even as I do at his?
Or has the faithful confidence of office soaked through his vestments and saturated his inner man?

Bodies file forward, receiving outwardly this mark of mortality. It fits, a little, with the aching joints, the graying hair, the weariness. It does not seem to fit on the children, and yet I remember. Tiny limbs can turn to dust, too.

I remember our hospital-fresh babies, resting in their father's gentle hands.
I see tiny limbs in pastor’s hands, 
dressed in white for Baptism. 
I see pastor’s hands touching the soft foreheads, 
saying with the authority of God Himself:

“ Receive the sign of the holy cross † 
on your forehead and † your heart 
to mark you as one redeemed 
by Christ the crucified”

I marvel at his steady hands, delivering Law and Gospel to weak-kneed saints.

His words, his hands tell us again that we are needy, crumbling.
His words, his hands make the sign of the cross in blessing, passing on solid peace to needy souls.

His hands.  His words, passing on His Words.

Reminding dust that-- in Jesus-- dust lives.

originally posted 4/12

Friday, February 13, 2015

Ha! Ha! (Book review)

Ha! Ha! Among the TrumpetsHa! Ha! Among the Trumpets by Martin H. Franzmann
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book has earned a home among my bedside pile of favorite books of all time.

It will be one I take down often to revisit the powerful, meaty, sasisfying Biblical theology within. I feel like I have found a new best friend!

Ha! Ha! Among the Trumpets
(Martin H. Franzmann, author of Thy Strong Word)

The trumpet of God has sounded--one long, sonorous arabesque of sound which broke upon the midnight air when the angels brought good tidings of great joy to shepherds, and all the hosts of heaven made melody when the glory of the Lord shone round about them, a trumpet call that rose with a swell and a surge as of the sound of many waters to rend the veil of the temple and to shake the earth to open all men’s graces, when our Lord was crucified and rose again. And that trumpet call is for us: “This is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This trumpet call bids you snuff that Easter air, that air from which our Lord, upon the cross, as swept away all the dank and poisonous vapors of sin, all the miasma of mortality; it beds you scent that eternal air, and stamp that Easter-cloven ground, and to stand in triumph on your graves, and to cry Ha! Ha! (5)

“There is no instant victory here. nothing quick and nothing easy; we cannot just add water and serve. This is blood and sweat and tears. And it goes on as long as this world stands. but we shall learn who our enemy is, and that one will word can stop him. We shall learn who our Lord is, we all learn what our armor is. Our “Get thee gone, Satan!” may be weak and squeaky at first, but we shall learn to speak it with increasing strength. We speak it and ---strange!---in the midst of tumult and shouting and conflict the peace of God which passeth all understanding is ours even there, just there. Amen. (19)

How much need does God have for roundness? Perhaps He can use a few monomaniacs, with jagged edges. how much time is there, let us ask ourselves, for gewgaws, for gimcracks, for all manner of tiddlywinks? We are in God’s last chapter. We are walking between contracting walls of time, and anybody who bears a pack of peripheries is walking down that corridor at his peril We are in God’s last chapter, and nobody knows how close the last sentence (and a sentence it will be) of that chapter is. how much room is there on that page for irrelevant footnotes? (28)

So we are funny-looking figures too, who who inherit John the Baptist's mouth, finger, and voice, as Luther put it. We are odd, misplaced-looking fellows, a curious sort of gentry, as we catch sight of our reflection in the shop windows of the world. Well, who cares? Who cares? So nobody who is anybody thinks we are somebody. Who cares? --- There was somebody who cared, and somebody who cares, if we will enter upon the heritage of John the Baptist, if we will take up John’s finger, John’s mouth, and John’s voice and cry, “Repent!” and point to Christ and call him Lord. (29)

“The cross marks the spot where the disciples failed, and it marks the spot where we all, we theologians, too, must fail. The cross marks the spot where the exegete ceases to be proud of his exegetical niceties, is shaken out of his scholarly serenity, and cries out for his life in terms of the first Beatitude. The cross marks the spot where the systematician sees his system as the instrument which focuses his failure; where the practical theologian realizes that there is only one practical thing to do, and that is to repent and abhor himself in dust and ashes; where the historian leaves his long and sanely balanced view of things and goes desperately mad. The cross marks the spot where we all become beggars--and God becomes King. Amen. (45)

View all my reviews

Monday, February 9, 2015

Resource for the Martha-Mary

Chad Bird is podcasting!
Listen now to Christ Hold Fast!
podcast on Itunes

How good is this podcast?
Let's just say I wasn't sure I was even going to finish folding the laundry, but what I listened to was so captivating, so encouraging, not only did I fold all six loads, but I even matched about 30 pairs of socks, just so I could keep listening!

God gives. We receive.
Praise be to God.

Listen and feast, even if you are matching socks.

40 Minutes In The Old Testament

Christ Hold Fast
podcast on Itunes

Friday, February 6, 2015

One Way Love: Book, recommended

One Way Love:  Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted WorldOne Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World by Tullian Tchividjian
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
A celebration of God's one-way love, of Jesus' death for sinners, of the good news of the gospel for all. This author understands Law and Gospel and writes to share his joy in the solid assurance we have as Christians in God's unconditional love.

Great read!

“Jesus came to release us from the slavish need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. Because Jesus came to set the captives free, life does not have to be a tireless effort to establish ourselves, justify ourselves, and validate ourselves.” (36)

“If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad, preach grace.” I didn’t know what he meant then, but I do now. The law offends us because it tells us what to do--and most of the time, we hate anyone telling us what to do. But ironically, grace offends us even more, because it tells us that there is nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there is something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything--that we are helpless, weak, and needy.” (72)

“Grace generates panic, because it wrestles both control and glory out of our hands. This means that the part of you that gets angry and upset and mean and defensive and slanderous and critical and skeptical and feisty when you hear about God’s one-way love is the very part of you that is still enslaved.” (73)

“I wish I could say I do everything for God’s glory. I can’t. Neither can you. What I can say is Jesus’ blood covers all my efforts to glorify myself. I wish I could say Jesus fully satisfies me. I can’t. Neither can you. What I can say is Jesus fully satisfied God for me.” (94)

“The refrain repeated through this books is that everything we need, we already possess in Christ. This means that the what-if has been taken out of the equation. We can take absurd risks, push harder, go further, and leave it all on the field without fear--and have fun doing so. We can give with reckless abandon, because we no longer need to ensure a return of success, love, meaning, validation, and approval. We can invest freely and forcefully, because we've been freely and forcefully invested in." (188)

“The gospel is not just the diving board off of which we jump into the pool of Christianity… it is the pool that we swim in each and every day.” (JD Greear, quoted on 213)

“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is an illusion.” Bennan Manning, (226).

View all my reviews

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

offended, weak, loved.

"The law offends us because it tells us what to do--and most of the time, we hate anyone telling us what to do. But ironically, grace offends us even more, because it tells us that there is nothing we can do, that everything has already been done. And if there is something we hate more than being told what to do, it’s being told that we can’t do anything, that we can’t earn anything--that we are helpless, weak, and needy.” 

One Way love, Tullian Tchividjian, p.72
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