February 24, 2013

Hospitality Is A Commanded Trend

Over the last year, our family has made a conscious effort to get together with other families between two and three times every week.  Hosting people in our home has become a great joy for us, as we share a meal and fellowship together.  When we first married, we might host a family once or twice a month, and over the years it has increased to 3 times a week, most weeks.  

We regularly fellowship with 8 to 10 families and we'll have other families over as our schedules allow.  And a wonderful thing has happened!  Those 8 or 10 families that we get together with, now more deliberately practice hospitality in their homes!  What a wonderful, behind the scenes, influence the Lord Jesus has made through us!  We are blessed to see the community of Christ enriched, commitments developed and deepened, as Christian families informally gather together.  When the Body of Christ gathers informally, it makes the formal (church worship) gatherings that much more meaningful.

It is difficult to have a deep, personal conversation one-on-one immediately before or after the Sunday morning worship service.  There are several reasons for this: other brothers and sisters also wish to talk with you; there are other ears that may hear your comments because it's a public setting; your watching your children expend their energy after sitting for so long; etc.  However, when you have another family in your home to share a meal together, you can expect at least 2 hours or more of time to mutually edify, encourage and pray with each other.  After two or three hours with one individual, you can really begin to know more about who they are.

It's always such a joy to have people in our home and to be invited to the homes of others to share a meal.  The fellowship is so sweet!  I'm always encouraged to press on toward the goal of the upward call in Christ - to endure another day or week of the trials of homeschooling my children, submitting to my husband and allowing God's sovereignty to determine our family size.

There are a lot of logistical reasons why some don't practice hospitality.  There are many things we do daily that make hospitality easier and joyfully anticipated, but that would be another blog post.  I commend it to you.

Let love be without hypocrisy.  Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. 
Romans 12:9-13

February 1, 2013

Kid or Kindle?

There's a daycare located very close to our home that has a sign posted advertising the current special, "Enroll Now.  Free Kindle."

Now for those parents who use daycare and read a lot, this deal might be very appealing.

But for parents like my husband and I, we have to say, "Really?!  Are you serious?"

Let's take a moment to compare: Our children are made in the image of God.  They were created with immortal souls and, Lord willing, will live for decades to come.  We hope our children will care for us as we age and deteriorate.

Not so with the Kindle.  It is an electronic device, a gadget, without an immortal soul and will likely not be functional in even 10 years. 

So, trading our child for a Kindle is a no-brainer for us.  Our child has an infinite, priceless value and a Kindle just cannot compare. 

If I give you my child in exchange for the Kindle, you will be the one caring for her and she will turn out to be more loyal to you than to me, her flesh and blood.  She will more likely reject the responsibility of caring for me in the years ahead to chase after selfish pursuits.  That daycare is not going to teach my child the values I deem are important, like the fear and admonition of the Lord Jesus Christ, familial loyalty, and the intended created purpose of women: to be bearers and nurtures of the next generation keeping the home.  That daycare may very well teach them to hate God and exalt man, like the public schools. 

You can keep the Kindle.  I'll keep my child.

December 30, 2012

Season's Greetings, 2012

As another year draws to a close, our hearts overflow with gratitude and joy as we recall what the Lord Jesus Christ has done for us.

While we were expecting our fourth baby, we needed to purchase a larger vehicle that could accommodate our growing family.  After months of searching, the Lord provided a Ford Traveler’s van that seats seven.  The second row inside this 12-passenger van has two bucket seats with a video deck between them on the floor and two video screens above.  The third row has a three-passenger bench and all the seats are leather.  The rear does not currently have a four-person bench, but one could be installed later.  It also has a tow package with low mileage and the price was within our budget.  Our big, green van has indeed been a huge blessing.

Likewise, we were having some leakage from the roof.  As you know, a new roof is expensive when paid out-of-pocket.  So we put off purchasing a new roof for as long as possible.  When late Spring came, we could not wait any longer.  After speaking with a building contractor and our insurance adjuster, we received a new roof for only the cost of our deductible!  We praise the Lord, yet again, for providing to meet our needs out of the abundance of His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

The birth of our fourth child was quickly approaching.  After an undesirable experience in the hospital at Shiphrah’s birth, I hired a professional midwife to deliver our baby at home.  Well, after 4 hours of mild labor, I was still not completely certain I was truly in labor.  I had been communicating with my midwife during this time but it wasn’t until my water broke 5 minutes before the birth that I was certain of my labor.  Needless to say, the midwife did not arrive in time to deliver the baby and (SURPRISE!) our first son was born in our master bathroom, caught by an unprepared Daddy!  It has been, and probably will remain, the most exciting birth story in our family!  Praise the Lord! What a marvelous blessing it was to give birth at home!

Joseph Wade is now 6 months old and growing quickly.  He is already wearing 12 month clothing, sleeping through the night and very happy.  He always has a smile and greeting for all.  The only time he is not content is when Momma doesn’t hold him while he’s awake.  He has brought a lot of joy to our home.

Moriah turned 5 years old last month and it’s hard to believe that so much time has already passed.  She loves to play with the baby and looks forward to having a family of her own when she grows up.  She is reading at a first grade level and loves to learn.  Lily is learning to read and loves to talk to Joseph, play with dolls, Legos and puzzles.  We will celebrate her 4th birthday in January.  Shiphrah celebrated her 2nd birthday this past August and is currently toilet training.  I think the “Terrible Twos” has hit her, but her smile and infectious laughter always light up our lives.  Our children keep our home busy and all three girls, even at their ages, love to help Momma.  They get excited when they assist me in various tasks.  They know that we love them and that they contribute something beyond value to our family.

We pray that this letter finds you well and that you similarly are filled with gratitude for all the wonderful ways God has blessed you this year and that, like our family, you seek to bless the Lord in your service to others in the year to come as we eagerly anticipate the return of our Lord.

Grace to you and yours!
The Andersons

P. S. Speaking of service to others, Jeramy and I will quickly finish a book we hope to self-publish by Spring 2013.  I am also preparing to record my first album entitled, Hymns on Violin.  Lord willing, it should be ready concurrently with the book.  We pray that these two contributions will bless and benefit many to the glory of God, our Father.

December 16, 2012

How I Wean

I always look forward to weaning with eager anticipation.  I know many other nursing mothers do not share in this excitement but the method in which I've weaned my babies has been effective and painless.

Step 1: Throughout the duration of breastfeeding, I usually have to pump because of painful engorgement.  I store this milk in the freezer for those "just in case" occasions and as I look forward to weaning.

Step 2: The baby is introduced to and becomes comfortable with drinking water and juice from a sippie cup.  This is usually when baby reaches around 8 or 9 months in age, at the mom's discretion.  Just as baby gets older and becomes more dependent on solid food and less on breast milk, mom nurses less often, maybe 2 or more times daily.  Continue to decrease the number of times you take baby to breast.

Step 3: The day arrives!  Baby does not return to the breast.  You give him or her breast milk in the cup at the same meal/snack time that he or she would be taken to the breast.  Use the milk that you have previously pumped.  Baby will taste the same milk in an easier to suck format and won't mind that it's not coming from your chest, especially if you hold baby while they eat.

Step 4: Cut your calories, increase the intensity of your exercise and pump any breast milk only to alleviate discomfort, giving baby this milk in the cup.  Eventually you will not have to pump any longer because you are not producing milk, maybe 2 or 3 days.

Step 5: When your breast milk stores run out, switch to cow's milk.  This is the most difficult step for baby because the taste and texture of the milk changes.  Warm it for a few seconds in the microwave until it reaches a comfortable temperature, like that of breast milk.  After baby becomes acclimated to the warm cow's milk, you can transition to giving baby/toddler cold milk.  Personally, I hate the taste of regular cow's milk and since childhood I only drink chocolate milk, if any at all.  This is what I give my girls to drink only at breakfast, and I only give them enough to wash down their meal.

December 11, 2012

The Fifth Time in Seven Years

I'm now counting my calories again, for the 5th time in 6 and 1/2 years.  This method of dieting has historically been successful to the degree that I remain committed to exercise self-control.  Losing weight while nursing is very rapid after the birth, but after the first month, weight loss (for me) goes very slowly, if at all.  So I resort to calorie counting.  It is difficult to find the balance between eating enough to support the nursing while not eating too much so that weight loss occurs.  It is possible, but I usually get tired of the math involved before I finally reach my goal.

After Jeramy and I were engaged, I lost 35 lbs. by counting my calories in addition to exercising 6 times every week.  I had always been overweight my entire life and that was the first time I achieved a pant size in the single digits.  It was very thrilling.  And then . . . I got pregnant our first month of marriage.

After Moriah was born, as soon as I left the hospital, I attempted to resume regular exercise and calorie counting.  I had committed to have however many children God would give us and I was determined not to be 500 pounds because of all the pregnancies.  I knew that I needed to lose the weight before getting pregnant again, and based on how quickly we got pregnant the first time, I knew I didn't have long to wait before pregnancy #2.  I lost the weight really quickly, by the time Moriah was 3 months I lost 23 pounds, only 5 lbs. more than I was at our wedding.  Then . . . I got pregnant again when she was 4 months old.

After Lily was born, I waited a while longer before counting my calories.  But, likewise, I lost 45 pounds and achieved my pre-pregnancy weight.  I maintained this weight for a few months, and then I got pregnant again when Lily was 11 months old.

After Shiphrah was born, I think I lost most all the weight again, some 40 pounds or so, by counting my calories.  And now, 5 months after Joseph's birth, I'm at it again.  Since his birth I've lost 25 pounds.  The frustrating part for me, especially after being overweight my whole life, is that my size has gone from big to small to big to small so many times in the past 6.5 years.  It has literally been like a yo-yo.  However, when I consider that my married, child-bearing years are few in comparison to the total number of years of life I may have and the "reward, gift, blessing," etc of the children that it has produced, I am content.  I know that I'll be 50 before I know it and maintaining a healthy figure will no longer be such a battle because of pregnancy.