When we first began our marriage, at ages 18 and 19, we were like many
newly married couples and quickly discovered the exciting world of
credit cards. It was amazing...you could buy anything you wanted and
only pay $10 a month until it was paid for. We could afford everything,
or so we thought! Whole Christmases, complete with new clothes and
jewelry, were ours for only one low monthly payment. We quickly fell
into the all-American, traditional slough of consumer debt.
In 1989, we were offered the opportunity to purchase a maternity shop in the Greenbrier area of Chesapeake, VA which would allow my (Joy's) home-based business of maternity formal and professional rentals to expand to a shop location and include a retail division. We decided to take out a second mortgage on our home, confident the shop would be successful. However, by the spring of 1993 it became evident that my much loved shop, Expecting Style, was going under.
It was during this intensely stressful time that I signed up for the fabulous Bible study, "Experiencing God", by Henry Blackaby. The study promised to help the participants better discern the will of God. After struggling for so long with the bleak financial condition of the shop, I desperately needed to know God's will. The only thing Timmy continued to tell me was that the shop had to succeed or we'd lose our home. He also said that bankruptcy was not an option for us as he felt that as Christians it was unfair to pass our mistakes, due to bad money management, onto the rest of society.
As I faithfully attended the Bible study and completed the lessons each day, God began to speak to me, but not about the most pressing issue: the huge debt and the shop's lack of profitability. He talked to me about things that seemed irrelevant and insignificant - obedience to Him in little, often over-looked areas. As I began to obey in the little things, though, God started speaking to the big issue. One of the points in the Bible study was that sometimes God will speak to us through fellow Christians so I was very attentive one evening when a friend and I met for coffee after we both put our little ones down for the night and she offered a solution to my business problems. She simply said I should just close the shop. I explained to her that I couldn't do that because we would have no possible way to make the payments on the debt secured by our house in the amount of over $2000 a month.
Her plan was ridiculous- or so it seemed, but God really was revealing His will through her casual comments. I began to pray and tell God that His plan wouldn't work. There had to be another way. We would lose our home to foreclosure. I argued with the Lord for several days before I finally told Him that I'd be willing to close the shop but I knew He wanted me first and foremost to submit to my husband's leadership and I just knew that Timmy would never agree to the hopeless suggestion.
I remember well the evening that Timmy and I rode out and I told him what I felt God was revealing as His will. Timmy was absolutely overwhelmed, speechless, and very upset, but somehow he knew that was what we were supposed to do. I don't think we talked to each other for several days because of the regret and fear we both were experiencing.
The shop closed on April 1, 1993. As I locked the doors for the last time, I mourned the loss of what had been a wonderful and challenging experience in operating a business. I also was filled with fear as I wondered what would happen to our family as a result of my failure. God must have looked on with anticipation though, because He was about to perform the first of many miracles for the Alexander family.
During the last few months of the shop's existence, my father, whom I hadn't had the privilege of cultivating a close relationship with throughout childhood due to my parents' divorce when I was young, suddenly stepped into my life. He was a very successful businessman for whom I had the highest respect. He would come by my shop during the day, always bringing a little treat for Meredith and green seedless grapes for Elliott. He would stand over the counter and ask me, "Who's putting the most pressure on you?" As a businessman he would give me wise advise and precise guidance in negotiating unpaid taxes, angry vendors, and an increasingly agitated commercial landlord. Along with the much-needed direction, he would often offer to loan me money to get out of the bind, but I always declined knowing that my situation was hopeless. As the shop was dying, a new relationship was being birthed between my father and myself.
After the shop closed, he continued to stop by the house and check on us. I'll never forget one visit in particular. Timmy and I had been researching every possible way to keep from selling our house since even in selling it, we couldn't afford to make the other debt payments and would have to rent a small apartment in a very rough neighborhood filled with violence and drugs. Even so, we knew our time was running out with the bank and we would face foreclosure if we didn't sell the house soon. The very week the house was scheduled to go on the market to sell, my dad visited. This time he shared that he and my step-mother had been discussing our situation and they decided they wanted to give us our inheritance early. The amount was exactly what we owed on the second mortgage!! We couldn't believe how God intervened.
Of course, we still had the remaining debts, but at least we could keep our home. This is when God took us through a tough, but essential, school on proper money management.
We decided the best way to pay off the remaining debts from the shop was to run a morning paper route. Whew, was that ever hard! We'd get up each morning at 2am, load Meredith (6), Elliott (3), and Oliver (8 weeks) sleepily into the back seat of our old Ford Tempo, drive to the paper-folding plant and bag our papers, then drive our route, taking turns sitting in the trunk throwing papers while the other drove. There were some parts of the route that could only be accessed by foot, so for those stretches, we'd load up with papers and take off like a bullet, always trying to beat our previous speed record. This was a great way to take off those post-partum pounds! We'd arrive home around 6am and Tim would head to work and I would begin my day with homeschooling and other homemaking responsibilities.
God blessed our every step and our every missed hour of sleep and we eventually paid off the debts, while also learning to live strictly on the budget suggested by Larry Burkett from Crown Financial Ministries. We never again used credit cards for more than what was budgeted each month, never again got car loans, and never fell back into the pit of consumer debt.
In May of 2006, as our family was going through a Bible-based seminar for the second time, God revealed to us a principle from scripture that we had not yet detected. "The borrower is slave to the lender." Proverbs 22:7 and "Owe no man nothing." Romans 13:8 The speaker expounded on these verses and explained the trap of debt, including MORTGAGE debt! Surely the Bible couldn't mean we shouldn't have a mortgage! We nervously prayed and researched further. Although mortgage debt isn't a concern on the very small investment property we currently live in, we have mortgages, big mortgages, on the other investment properties we own. After much prayer, we decided to give this area of finances over to the Lord's control as well which has meant opening our hands of the dreams we had for the properties and instead moving in the direction of obedience to God. This biblical principle has changed our own plans significantly and we're currently in a holding pattern as we wait to see what the Lord will do as we follow His leading in this area of finances.
During the fall of 2006, we enjoyed going through the DVD series called "Financial Freedom" by Jim Sammons. It has helped us tremendously to assimilate godly principles into our finances. We have been convicted, challenged, and encouraged and highly recommend the series to everyone we know! Surely God has been good to our family as we continue to learn so many financial lessons. We are confident that if we follow Him obediently, He will guide us and lead us down the perfect path He has for our family.
Written in February 2007
In May 2000, we attended a Bible-based seminar. The biblical principles presented were transforming in many areas of our Christian walks. As a result, we concluded that we had sectioned off parts of our lives that we thought God could handle efficiently but we retained control over the parts where we thought we knew better. Our family size was one of those areas where we believed we knew best. We believed common sense should dictate how many children a couple should allow God to give them. We reasoned that finances and time restraints, to say nothing of our quickly depleting energy stores, should all be considered when allowing a child to join our family. As we debated this against what the Bible reveals as God's opinion on children - that they are a blessing purposely given, directly from God, and of immeasurable worth - we realized that we needed to give this area to God as well. We were convicted that God should be Lord of all the areas of our lives. After much prayer, we surrendered our family size to God's control. We immediately and fearfully envisioned the Lord sending ten yelling, running, wild children to our marriage.
|Within weeks of our commitment, we found out we were expecting. We excitedly embraced what seemed to be the beginning of a new and great adventure with the Lord. However, God chose to allow that baby to miscarry and with great sadness we accepted God's will for our family. We were in between houses at the time and had been staying in an extended stay hotel. The last of the most painful tears over the loss of the baby were shed on the way home from the midwife's office when we realized that we didn't even have a yard in which to bury the tiny baby. God held our hurting hearts in His loving hands and we resolved to continue to trust Him even when we couldn't understand His ways.|
|Within a couple of months, God caused us to conceive again. This time, He chose to send the baby to live with us here on earth and Harrison Spencer was born on June 23, 2001. What a blessing! Little did we know that Harrison's presence in our family and the middle name we purposefully chose for him would become a constant reminder of the commitment we had made to God as the dark clouds were about to surround us. (Harrison's name is explained on his page at this site.)|
|When Harrison was 7 months old, we conceived again. Sadly, God chose to take this baby to heaven in April of 2002. With this loss I struggled greatly with God, feeling He had really let me down by allowing the death of yet another baby. A particularly difficult part of this miscarriage was a noticeable emptiness in my heart, an aching to have something visible to touch and hold that would serve as a reminder of the baby's life. With the first baby I had an ultrasound picture and several items that made a beautiful page in our family scrapbook. This baby had nothing and the sense of loss in my heart seemed unbearable. I was enrolled in a Beth Moore Bible study at the time though, and God spoke mightily to me. I came to a place of complete acceptance of the baby's death and once again resolved to walk with God even through this valley.|
|We conceived again within months and once again bowed our heads sorrowfully at God's revealed will for this little life. Our third miscarried baby was added to our heavenly home in August of 2002.|
|We discovered we had been blessed once again in the spring of 2003, but within weeks learned that the baby was positioned as a tubal pregnancy and would surely die but possibly not before threatening my life. This was a fiery, hot trial for us as we grappled with God's sovereignty over my life as well as our insistence not to prematurely end the baby's life regardless of the possible outcome for me. God mercifully spared my life, in spite of the medical communities' grim predictions, and allowed the baby to miscarry without intervention in May of 2003. I later wrote in my journal, "I had prayed that God would bless us with another baby for His kingdom purposes. God answered my prayer, but not like I had hoped. My dream was that God's kingdom purpose would someday be accomplished through this baby's life. Instead, His purpose has been accomplished in the baby's death. I am forever changed in my view of life as a result of being on the threshold of having to choose to end one life prematurely in order to save another. "|
|In the fall of that same year we discovered we were expecting once again. This time everything seemed to be progressing so well. Our emotions were guarded, but very hopeful. Around the sixth week we saw what is the most hoped for picture on the ultrasound screen, that of a healthy baby with a strong, beating heart. We were thrilled! However, just as I began the second trimester, I began spotting and suspected something was wrong. A visit to the midwife confirmed that this little tiny baby had also died. My heart was so heavy as we entered the Christmas season and my mind was filled with thoughts of the much-dreaded physical part of the miscarriage yet to come. As with each miscarriage, at the point that it was determined that the baby was no longer living, my care was turned over from the midwife to a medical doctor. Having been a childbirth educator, I had always encouraged the students to have confidence in the design and capability of their bodies to manage the functions related to reproduction and birth. Because of this, it was especially difficult for me to succumb to invasive medical procedures intended to quickly remove the miscarried babies. This time, the doctor was agreeable to let nature take its course. But by the end of February 2004, what would have been the 20th week of the pregnancy, when my body still had not completely miscarried, it was decided that I would have a D&C. I asked that I not be put under with general anesthesia and instead try to manage with a local anesthetic. How thankful I was later to have made that request. As the doctor began, aided by a camera-equipped tool whose images were visible on an overhead TV monitor, we saw the reason for the persistent, incomplete miscarriage. The baby, though dead, was still securely attached to the uterine wall and too large to pass without the aid of forceps. Because I was awake and fully alert, I was able to ask that the baby not be cold-heartedly discarded as is the usual practice. Instead, I requested to take the baby home, as with our first miscarried baby, and bury his tiny body. I remember so well my mostly numb emotional state on the way home from the hospital as Timmy and I stopped by the fabric store to buy a warm, yellow, silky piece of fabric- the kind I liked to use to make little blankets for my babies - along with a small box, in which to bury the baby. As with the other losses, God's word became so real, so incredibly comforting as I recovered from the loss.|
|Somewhere through the repeated miscarriages, God so graciously took away my longing and desire for more babies. Although I would have loved to join God in a kingdom-sized assignment of training another soul, the need to hold, rock, and nurse a precious newborn simply disappeared. I was grateful because the season of wanting to mother more children for my own enjoyment had been replaced with a desire to simply offer my body as a living sacrifice - willing to let God do whatever He chose, knowing that anything He allowed was for our good and His glory. I peacefully died to the dream of mothering another newborn. I found comfort in a statement made by Beth Moore, "God will always have us as women to be fruitful. If not physically fruitful, then spiritually fruitful." I looked forward to the next chapter in my life where God might allow me to be spiritually fruitful.|
|In just a few short months, though, we conceived again. This time everything was different. It was recommended that I be under the immediate care of a high risk doctor and take progesterone daily, as well as heparin (blood-thinning) shots. I reluctantly began giving myself the injections in my stomach twice daily, although I was fearful about the side-affects. I met with a regular obstetrician and the high risk doctor often with many tests and ultrasounds ordered in their protocol of management. I was encouraged because the tests constantly confirmed the baby's good health and growth. We excitedly rejoiced to see and hear a healthy, beating heart at each ultrasound. Sadly, though, this would become our sixth treasure laid up in Heaven. Tests later revealed that this had been a baby boy. This miscarriage was especially difficult because it was later determined that is was a molar pregnancy and carried with it the risk of developing cancer - something I had never heard of before. In the aftermath of the loss, another surgery, the doctor told me that the only way to effectively monitor the growth of the possible cancer was for my HCG (pregnancy hormone) level to be checked every month for the following year. She, along with the high risk doctor, explained that I needed to be certain that no conceptions took place during this period. I was advised to get a baseline chest x-ray immediately so my lungs, the usual originating place for this type of cancer, could be checked throughout the year. After the alarming information, I thought to myself, "How do I avoid conceiving for one year when we, as a couple, have chosen to trust God to know when to create life?" This would become our most difficult test of faith. I drafted a letter to both the doctors explaining our trust in God in the area of reproduction and respectfully asked that they continue to treat me in light of the fact that God may choose to cause us to conceive before the one year time period concludes. I had hoped that since the letters were faxed just before the Thanksgiving holidays, they wouldn't respond for a while. Within five minutes the phone rang. It was the high risk doctor. She first asked me why I couldn't consider her and the obstetrician as being "sent from God" to care for me during this dangerous time. When I reiterated our commitment to trusting God with reproduction - believing that He loves us and does not accidentally allow us to conceive but rather creates each and every life- she began to plead with me to consider the children I already have, that need their mother, before making such a decision. She asked that I meet with an oncologist before finalizing my decision and let him explain the exact type of cancer, how it manifests itself, and the swift, catastrophic demise of its victims. I hung up the phone and quietly wept. Would I choose to leave my children without a mother because of this commitment to God? What had I learned of my God throughout all the other miscarriages? He is faithful and He is loving and nothing passes through His hand to my family without it being for our good and His glory. My soul testified to my continued resolve to trust the Lord- even in this. I waited and prayed for days before telling Timmy about the call. His first reaction was one of fear and frustration, but after several days he responded to my question of what he had decided to do by simply saying, "What other choice do we have? We're going to keep trusting God." Oh, how my heart rejoiced in his great faith. I recorded in my journal, "Truly we have been tested greatly in our faith because of this situation. But today, this morning, I feel like we passed! Oh, what joy! 'In the same way, any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. Luke 14:33'"|
|The next pregnancy occurred five months later. After so many losses, I had grown accustomed to not allowing a moment of hope to settle over me when a pregnancy test proved positive. But I decided to do things differently this time. I hoped. I dreamed. I loved. All to the fullest. I calculated a due date. I looked at cribs on line. I began my morning with my hand on my stomach thanking God for new life and telling the baby how much I loved him. At the initial visit with the doctor, her first words to me were, "You know I need to advise you to terminate this pregnancy because of the increased risk presented by a rising HCG level - giving the potential cancer the proper breeding grounds for growth." Of course, she understood we would never consider such a thing. The pregnancy progressed but I could tell by the lack of nausea and fatigue that it wasn't going well. During this time I read an excellent book by Jerry Bridges called "Trusting God" and it helped me tremendously. He said that when tragedy strikes it's okay to wonder why (while not insisting God tell you "why") and to grieve immensely, but our first reaction should be a resounding "I trust You, God. I trust You." The doctor suggested repeated blood tests to help determine the status of the pregnancy and it was confirmed that a miscarriage was imminent. She firmly recommended a D&C because she wanted to send everything to pathology to test for cancerous cells. She also didn't want my HCG level elevated any longer than necessary. After one more ultrasound confirming the original conclusion, the surgery was scheduled. On May 20, 2005, I wrote in my journal, "Good bye, sweet baby. We'll see you on the other side."|
As I conclude this section of our site entitled "Family Size", I am so
excited to share with you that we are one week away from the due date of
a baby girl. Sheridan Anna Claire is expected to join our family soon-
our first daughter in nineteen years. "At last your troubles will be
over and you will fear disaster no more." Zephaniah 3:15 May the work of
God in this family be a great encouragement to you. Nothing is
impossible with God.
Written in February 2007
These tidbits of information have been added to this site by Joy and are
really geared more to women since it seems we're the ones forever
struggling with weight issues.
In 2001, I finally got the victory over the continual battle to maintain an appropriate weight. Although I've never struggled with more than 20 excess pounds, the cycle of overeating, followed by dieting, then the battle to keep the pounds off has been a repeated one for me since I was in my late teens.
After following so many paths promising freedom, I was amazed to find my cure in the most over-looked resource ever written regarding the mastery of weight control: the Bible. As I began to simply apply God's word to my struggle, the chains fell off and I found my freedom! I continue to be so grateful to be released from the bondage of calorie counting, fat gram watching, and exercising strictly for weight loss.
These letters written to friends detail the transformation:
Correspondence dated February 2003-
In the same way I came upon the principles of allowing God to be in control of our family size and submitted to the design of the Creator, I recently came to realize God also has an opinion on my weight. After 20 years of constant battle to lose weight and after trying every diet known to man, I was introduced to God's plan regarding His creation and their eating. His way was the path to victory but as was the case with becoming "quiver full-minded", I needed to be taught.
I can gladly report that after learning and applying God's principles, I have had the victory over dieting and being consumed with my weight for 19 months. I no longer count calories, study fat grams, or use exercise for weight loss purposes. God's way was so much easier than that.
First and foremost, I purposed to love the Lord my God with all my heart, soul, and strength. I recognized that being consumed with my weight and appearance, as well as eating more than my body was asking for, were ways in which I was focusing on me instead of God. I also recognized that this terrible struggle with weight was keeping me from feeling victorious in my walk with God.
The practical steps to my victory were:
1) Realizing the fact that my stomach is about the size of my fist. That should be a guideline to what my body is asking for at each meal.
2) God made us in such a way that our stomach will growl when we need food, so I shouldn't eat just because it's noon if I'm still full from breakfast.
3) Eating more food than necessary is like filling our auto gas tank past full and letting the gas run out on the ground. Why would we do that?!
4) It's not WHAT I'm eating that's causing me to gain weight, it's putting in more than the gas tank needs.
5) Eating past full is my way of saying to God, "I'll do what I want!"
After learning these simple truths and asking God to help me obey His gentle leading in even this area, I began to have a victory.
Since these are not "dieting" principles, but rather common sense basics about eating, I began them during my last pregnancy and grew a very healthy 10lb 3oz baby. The much dreaded year following a birth, when I usually try so very hard to lose the baby fat, was an incredible blessing as I ate when hungry and stopped when full and after 6 months was the weight I always considered my "ideal" weight that I never maintained more than 6 weeks when dieting frantically.
Now that the Lord has given me this victory, I feel energized to move forward in my walk with Him. He can work on other things now that we've gotten this one under control. After 20 years of intense battle, I'm so thankful to have found the tools to fight successfully. I will be praying for you, my friend, that you might find them too!
Your sister in the Lord,
Correspondence to a friend dated July 2006-
Here are the five things I mentioned in the previous letter, explained in greater detail.
1. Since my stomach is about the size of my fist, my meal should look a lot more like a Chick-fil-A kid’s meal than a combo! After learning this, I began preparing a plate for myself that looks like Harrison’s (5) instead of Timmy’s. When Timmy and I eat out, I usually share his meal or order from the kid’s menu.
2. When I first began implementing these principles, it was recommended that I go through a season of developing my ability to truly sense the feeling of hunger. This is best accomplished through the tested and tried method of listening to hear my stomach growl. I was amazed by this neat aspect of God’s creative design that I had never even paid attention to in the past. As a baby cries when hungry to alert his caregivers of his need for food, so God created us in such a way that we also have an audible cue when we need to feed His temple.
Equally amazing to me was the fact that the stomachs of individuals who are significantly overweight may not growl for 3 days when implementing this technique. This is completely contrary to what we’ve always heard. “People whose stomachs are stretched by their overeating need to slowly begin to reduce their meal portions or they’ll be fiercely hungry due to the over-sized stomach.” In actuality, God designed His creation in such a way that an overweight temple will actually say, through its silence/absence of growling, “Please, don’t feed me! I have enough fat stores here to supply all my needs for days!”
Listening for a growling stomach helped me to distinguish true hunger from a “desire to eat” because something looked yummy or everyone else was eating. I have returned to the waiting and listening method from time to time throughout the last 5 years as I’ve felt myself being lured away from obedience to the Lord in this area of overeating through the pull of the flesh.
Part of my breaking free from overeating has to be attributed to filling my head with pictures of what my overeating clearly is. In these days of rapidly rising gas prices, I see my overeating as standing at my van filling the gas tank but ignoring the automatic shut-off signal given by the gas pump. I see myself as insisting to continue to fill the tank while gas spews out on the ground and the gallon and dollar meters continue to click on at their usual fast rate. Why would I do something so foolish? Why do I do that with food?
Another picture that I view in my mind’s eye is one of me having been unshackled from ankle chains that once bound me to dieting, defeat, and discouragement. When I choose to overeat, I see myself as walking back to the place where the chains are still attached to the confining post and stooping down to reattach them to my ankles.
A practical tip that helped me tremendously was to begin saving whatever was left of my meal for a later time when I would be hungry again. It had seemed that part of the reason it was so difficult to leave behind my food was because I didn’t want it to be thrown out. I also feared that if I saved it, someone else would gobble it up before I got hungry for it again! So I explained to the family that my treasured left-overs would be labeled as “Mama’s” and I asked them to not eat them. This works so well when I order an entire meal for myself at a restaurant because it’s exactly what I’m hungry for, but definitely more than a fistful portion. Knowing that I can enjoy the meal again later has helped me to pull myself away from the temptation of overfilling my gas tank.
A wonderfully refreshing aspect of submitting to God in this area of overeating was the realization that my weight gain was not because of what I ate but because of how much I ate. After so many years of watching calories, fat grams, carbohydrates, and the like, it was so nice to throw it all aside and simply focus on stopping eating when I’m full. At first, I have to admit, I went through a REAL testing of this that I would not recommend although it truly proved the point. I would eat a piece of cheesecake for lunch, stopping when full; a couple of green beans for supper topped off with a big, fistful sized, fresh, chocolate chip cookie – again stopping when full; and I watched the extra pounds melt away. Of course this is NOT honoring to God and He let me know in short order!!
Another neat discovery was made during my “testing” in this area. If I had eaten a nutritious meal and was still hungry, I could have anything I wanted for dessert! I didn’t have to worry if it was fat-free or low in calories. This realization brought an unexpected huge blessing to me in that I found my desire for the items previously labeled “untouchable” began to wane. Now, my greater challenge in obeying the Lord in my overeating is in stopping when full as I enjoy a fresh spinach salad loaded with cheeses, eggs, bacon and fresh veggies. Sweets don’t have the same draw they once did because they're no longer forbidden.
Lastly, the most powerful and vivid truth that I discovered regarding overeating was that when I ate past full, it was my way of saying to God, “I’ll do as I please. I’ll do what I want. I have no regard for Your design in this temple.” How grieving to face the truth of my heart. God has been so good to me. He has given me life. He has given me salvation. He has given me good health. Why do I love those extra bites of food more than Him? How very grieving. How very serious.
As my desire to love God with all my heart, soul, and strength has increased, I have purposed to love Him more than my favorite last bite of food. This has been evidenced most frequently during Timmy and my nightly ritual of having a bowl of ice cream. For more years than I can remember, we have looked forward to our “mini-date” of preparing and enjoying bowls of ice cream together after all the kids are in bed and the house is still and quiet. Not just any plain brand or variety --the very best-- with big chunks of peanut butter cups or chocolate covered pretzels or swirls of marshmallow cream.
Without really thinking about it, I noticed that as I’m eating my ice cream I often carefully collect all the yummy chunks of peanut butter cups, toffee slivers, or fat pecans and save them for the most anticipated last bite in the bowl. Just prior to enjoying this savory bite I sometimes will hear the quiet whisper of the Holy Spirit asking me if I love Him more than that last bite. “Oh my! Well, of course I love You more than that bite,” my heart responds, “but I still have room left in my stomach and I’ve been saving those yummy morsels for now.” Still the Spirit politely and tenderly watches on as the war wages in my heart. I wish I could tell you that I offer my most treasured last bite to Him each and every time He asks. I can say this, the times I do, my spirit smiles with delight. I sincerely believe that it is in these quiet moments of communication between our Father and ourselves that the strength is gained for battles yet unforeseen on the horizon. Offering to God these tiny sacrifices prepares us for ultimately “offering our bodies as living sacrifices” to God in huge, difficult, heartbreaking circumstances.
All of this info is just that...information. It holds no power. It can deliver no strength. The true source of my strength in obeying the Lord in the area of over eating has come from His Word. It has the power to transform my thinking, to help me overcome the pull of my flesh, and give me the desire to love the Lord more fully. Here are a few verses that are especially meaningful to me as I travel this path with the Lord.
Jesus replied, "You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind." Matthew 22:37
For it was I, the Lord your God,
who rescued you from the land of Egypt.
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it with good things. Psalm 81:10 You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:14 People do not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Matthew 4:4
What sorrow awaits rebellious, polluted Jerusalem,
the city of violence and crime!
2 No one can tell it anything;
it refuses all correction.
It does not trust in the Lord
or draw near to its God. Zephaniah 3:1,2
Be careful to obey all the commands I am giving you today. Then you will live and multiply, and you will enter and occupy the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. For all these forty years your clothes didn’t wear out, and your feet didn’t blister or swell. Think about it: Just as a parent disciplines a child, the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.
So obey the commands of the Lord your God by walking in his ways and fearing him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land of flowing streams and pools of water, with fountains and springs that gush out in the valleys and hills. It is a land of wheat and barley; of grapevines, fig trees, and pomegranates; of olive oil and honey. It is a land where food is plentiful and nothing is lacking. It is a land where iron is as common as stone, and copper is abundant in the hills. When you have eaten your fill, be sure to praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.
But that is the time to be careful! Beware that in your plenty you do not forget the Lord your God and disobey his commands, regulations, and decrees that I am giving you today. For when you have become full and prosperous and have built fine homes to live in, and when your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in the land of Egypt. Do not forget that he led you through the great and terrifying wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, where it was so hot and dry. He gave you water from the rock! He fed you with manna in the wilderness, a food unknown to your ancestors. He did this to humble you and test you for your own good. He did all this so you would never say to yourself, ‘I have achieved this wealth with my own strength and energy.’ Remember the Lord your God. He is the one who gives you power to be successful, in order to fulfill the covenant he confirmed to your ancestors with an oath.But I assure you of this: If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods, worshiping and bowing down to them, you will certainly be destroyed. Just as the Lord has destroyed other nations in your path, you also will be destroyed if you refuse to obey the Lord your God. Deuteronomy 8:1-20
My friend, I pray that you might find guidance and power in this area of Christian living and that you might find life-long victory. It would be a true privilege and blessing in my own walk with the Lord to be able to join you in prayer as you travel this path should you desire the prayer companionship of a fellow sojourner.
Although we've attended many parenting courses throughout the years,
none have compared to the excellent information found in the "Growing
Kids God's Way" series by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo. It is our goal to
instill in our children's hearts the love of virtue and a clear
understanding of the moral code we're writing on the tablets of their
hearts. Growing Kid's God's Way has helped us to teach our children the
biblical reason for the training we're giving them. The materials have
greatly strengthened our marriage and have united us in our parenting
purposes and goals. The authors have a companion series especially
geared to caring for babies that is amazing. It is called "Baby Wise"
and is excellent also. We highly recommend both of these series. This
letter written to a friend by Joy further explains: |
My heart was touched when you mentioned feeling tired from nursing so frequently. I remember that anxious feeling when my older three children were little. I wanted to share with you something that we stumbled upon that changed everything in our daily schedule for the better.
When the older 3 were around ages 8, 5, and 2 we were introduced to the parenting series "Growing Kids God's Way." We had been through many different parenting courses but none compared to the strong emphasis of GKGW to change our children's hearts for the kingdom - not just restrain them from bad behavior (as many of the other courses ultimately were teaching). Timmy and I had both obeyed our parents as children strictly out of respect - not because we were necessarily being taught the moral reason for the various restrictions. GKGW taught us for the first time the BIBLICAL reason behind the rules.
The point is, of course, that if we plant the biblical reason "why" in our children's hearts, they will take it as their own. It will not be something they abandon once they're away from our authority. This is not a promo for GKGW - it's just the background on how we came to appreciate the teachings.
When we found out we were expecting Sullivan, someone told us we would enjoy the baby series by the same author of GKGW, Gary Ezzo. We quickly signed up for the classes expecting them to be every bit as helpful as the parenting course. Boy, was I in for a shock!! Everything they said was COMPLETELY opposite from the way I had parented our older three children as babies. I could hardly sit quietly and listen. I hated what they were saying. If there was any truth in it, then I had done it wrong with three children! Plus, I just didn't agree with it at all.
On the way home from each class, I didn't even want to speak to Timmy. He would want to talk about the intriguing new information we were learning and I just sat fuming. You see, when our first three children were younger, I believed that a good mother is one whose primary goal is to elevate the baby and his needs above all others in the family, even if that excludes Dad and gives him a secondary position in the family for the first couple of years. I also thought that any type of parent-led training should not begin until the child was near toddler age. As a result, my babies were nursed 24/7 (because I thought it was in their best interest emotionally) and they slept with us until they were toddlers. They were primarily held by me in a sling/carrier and every attempt was made to keep them happy. It was a tough assignment as a mother, keeping my baby happy, but I loved it and never considered for a minute that this type of parenting might not be in my baby's best interest.
Surely, the Lord must have opened my heart to the new material being presented each week in the baby classes we were attending because I had no inclination toward its premises. I couldn't discount though how much our older children were benefiting from the Bible-based wisdom presented by the author, so somehow, I agreed to give the new approach a try when Sullivan was born.
I can't begin to tell you the difference it immediately made in our family. Things were peaceful, predictable, calm, and relaxed. There was time to homeschool the older three children, time to make supper, and time to have my morning devotions. And that says nothing of the difference it made in the baby. I had, for the first time ever, a well-rested, contented, well-fed newborn. His crying was completely predictable as was his wake time, nap time, and feeding time. As I began to reluctantly implement the recommendation to allow the baby time to himself to explore and study only one toy at a time, I found the claims of the author to be true once again. Sullivan became a baby easily contented, able to play alone, and able to enjoy all of his family members - not just me.
We continued the plan when Harrison was born and much to my amazement, the successes were duplicated in like manner.
I haven't re-read the book in some time, but if I remember correctly, one claim of the authors is presented in a study where over four hundred children were followed from birth to school age and their ability to learn, be content, and adjust well was documented. Whereas in the general population the incidence of ADD/ADHD is around 5%, the researchers found that children who had been reared with a schedule and subsequently learned to sleep well, as promoted by the author, only diagnosed 6 of several hundred children with the concentration disorder. This continues to prove true to Timmy and me even as we attended a conference in Texas last summer and the younger boys sat contentedly for days in session after session with only a notebook and crayons for their entertainment.
Although I can hardly believe it myself, I've left the "baby calls the shots" arena and have joined the "scheduling" camp. I am SO thankful that Timmy took us to the classes. It changed our family and it changed the little boys who had the benefit of the predictable schedule. I can't imagine trying to bring this new little one, Lord willing, into our family without it.
Well, that's my Baby Wise speech! As you can see, I'm sold on it! You might want to pick up a copy from the library and read the claims for yourself. In these last seven years since first hearing about it, we've met many Baby Wise babies and continue to be amazed at the outstanding results evidenced in the happy, contented, well-rested smiles of the little ones privileged to benefit from the program.
May God be glorified as you lovingly train the precious children to which you have been entrusted.
Written in February 2007