Who am I? – Of Relationship and Responsibility

Image result for overcomer movie who am i

Sunday morning, my pastor preached a fantastic sermon titled, “Relationship Comes with Responsibility.” You can listen to it online here:

Then, Tuesday night, I saw the new movie, “Overcomer.” The main character in the movie is a basketball coach and history teacher at his local Christian high school. Without giving too much away, he realizes that he is finding his identity in his job, rather than in his relationship with Christ.  The other main character, a teenage girl named Hannah, is amazed when she learns who she is in Christ while reading Ephesians 1-2 in the Bible. Hannah realizes that as a child of God, she is loved, redeemed and forgiven.

So … What about ME? Who am I … and how, then, should I live?

  • I am a created being, created in the image of God, on purpose, for a purpose … so I should live daily with purpose and hope.
  • I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples of Jesus … so I should intentionally study God’s Word and share the gospel with others.
  • I am a forgiven and redeemed child of God … so I should forgive others and help them to be reconciled with God, too.

But, my relationship with God is not my only role in life. God has given other relationships, roles and responsibilities as well.

  • I am a wife … so my husband should be a priority in my life.
  • I am a homemaker … so I should clean my house and cook dinner for my family.
  • I am a mother … so I should love and disciple my children with diligence.
  • I am a homeschooler … so I should faithfully teach and train my children in the way they should go.

Like many Christians, I can tend to overemphasize one area of my life and overlook another one.

Yes, indeed, my identity is found in Christ.

  • Who am I? I am a forgiven child of God.
  • Who am I? I am His workmanship, created on purpose for a purpose.
  • Who am I? I am a disciple of Jesus, called to make more disciples.

But, I am also a wife, homemaker, mother and homeschooler to the glory of God. These titles, too, have value and worth.

May everything I do be done to the praise of God who created me, saved me, and redeemed me … and gave me a home and a husband and children.

Having a Gluten-Free Child as a Homeschooling Mom

Do any of you love food? When you’re having a bad day, do you want to head for the pantry? When you want to celebrate, do you head for your local ice cream shop? My answers are: yes, yes, yes – How about you?

In the fall of 2015, when my middle daughter was 12, she was diagnosed with an autoimmune thyroid condition called, “Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis” and began a gluten-free, dairy-limited lifestyle. This year she was diagnosed with autoimmune urticaria (chronic hives). My husband, too, has an autoimmune condition called, “Eosinophilic Esophagitis,” which he chooses to manage with acid reducers and allergy medicine. In May of 2016, I tried a modified diet called “Whole 30,” but have largely returned to regular eating except with less sugar and grains. You can read more about it here: Matthew 4:4 – Not Bread Alone and here: My Whole30 Tips

I hope I can help others with some of the lessons I’ve learned over the past four years of trial and error.

1. Don’t overlook the emotional impact that dietary restrictions have on your child. Food is a big part of our culture, and eating gluten free has consequences deeper than just bringing our own desserts when we go to potlucks. Noelle misses the food that she’s no longer able to eat, but she also hates being “the one” who needs gluten free pizza or who can’t eat Taco Bell tacos.

2. Plan for breakfast, lunch and snacks. Fresh fruit and fruit cups are great. So are guacamole with tortilla chips. Make extra dinner for leftovers that you can package in individual tupperwares for breakfast or lunch meals. Keep yogurt and deli meat on hand for a quick pick-me-up.

3. Encourage your child to get creative in the kitchen. Noelle has learned to make all kinds of creative dishes for herself. We have a weekly “cooking competition” for lunch. Some of her experiments have turned out GREAT and become regular favorites (crustless peach pie with a chocolate chip granola topping and chocolate dipped bananas to name a few).

4. Let your child make some of their own choices. Honestly, it would probably be better for Noelle if she didn’t eat any dairy or eggs or nuts, but until she’s ready to make that jump for herself, that is one battle that I’m not going to fight. It’s too hard for her, and, frankly, it’s too hard for me. Noelle knows how to add things to my “Walmart Grocery app” and she’ll add a gluten-free cookie that she’s craving or a salad bowl that she’d like to have for lunch. This allows her to have some control over her diet that she can’t have in other ways.

5. Be careful with your substitutions. In my attempts to avoid dairy, I substituted almond or cashew milk. In my attempts to avoid peanut butter, I substituted almond or cashew butter. In my attempts to avoid wheat flour, I substituted almond flour. In my attempts to avoid sugary snacks, I substituted roasted almonds or cashews. Bad idea. 😦 Noelle developed a sensitivity to almonds and cashews from eating them everyday, several times a day. Rotate your food choices.

6. Pray for understanding friends for your child. Incredibly, God has blessed Noelle with her own little group of “gluten-free friends.” For as much as she hates being different, I’m so thankful that she’s not alone in this. She isn’t the only one at youth group who can’t eat the regular retreat food.

Would you like to see my list of regular dinner meals?

How about my recipes for the BEST chocolate chip cookies (made with almond flour), or DELICIOUS banana chocolate chip muffins (made with Pamela’s baking mix)?

Of Big and Little Acts of Service

As I shared in yesterday’s post, love compels service … which leads me to a new trail of thoughts.

I wonder, is my dad only interested in the big things that I can do for him? Are the doctors with a dozen years of education who correctly prescribe just the right medication more valuable than the nurse who correctly draws his blood?

Incredibly, just now, while I’m writing this and waiting to board a plane back home, with my dad still in his hospital bed, the flight attendant announced that our plane is having some mechanical issues.

I realize how critically important a good pilot is, but realistically is a good plane mechanic any less essential?

I know that answering my dad’s questions about faith and asking God to hear my cries for mercy truly are valuable acts of service, but do I believe that sitting in silence, holding his hand while he sleeps, is valuable in God’s eyes?

Surely reading Psalm 23 aloud and talking about the hope of Heaven with Jesus is of immense value, but how about cutting up my dad’s food into manageable bites?
Sometimes as a stay-at-home, homeschooling mama, it can feel like the daily chores, loading the dishwasher and washing the laundry and cooking the dinner is worthless … and yet I hope that I can do my work as unto the Lord, pointing my children’s eyes to the blessings of dishes and laundry and food … and of work.
Sometimes as a Christian speaker and writer, it can feel like reaching one hurting soul isn’t as important as speaking to the multitudes.
So today, let’s remind ourselves that God values our little acts of love and service, as well as our big ones. He sees us. He cares. And He is able to multiply our fish and loaves and mites and talents as we offer them up to Him.

TWIG

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:10-11)
“For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.” (Romans 12:3-8)
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Is your Life Self-centered, Child-centered, Husband-centered, or God-centered???

This past week, I have been studying Matthew 23 along with the other ladies in my Community Bible Study group. In this passage, Jesus pronounces upon the religious leaders of His day (the scribes and Pharisees) a series of seven woes. Six times Jesus calls these self-righteous men, “hypocrites.” Rather than leading the Israelites to pursue God with pure hearts, these religious leaders had hearts full of greed and self-indulgence, performing law-keeping deeds in order to be seen by others. Ultimately, their lives were SELF-centered, despite any external appearance of GOD-centeredness.

This Tuesday, I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Family Life Today.” In this episode, Dennis Rainey was sharing some words of wisdom with the new “Family Life Today” hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson. Mr. Rainey was explaining how easily most moms can be drawn into a CHILD-centered life, where their “family solar system revolve[s] around the kids.” Such truth in just 7 words.

My mind immediately began drawing a picture of a solar system with my children taking the place of the sun, and my husband and me revolving around them like Earth and Mars.

Mr. Rainey and his wife, Barbara, then shared about the importance of keeping the marriage relationship strong, so that the marriage is prepared to outlast the children. If our world is revolving around our kids, what’s going to happen when they grow up and move out?!

I’m afraid that in an effort to not be child-centered, some marriages, then become husband-centered, where the whole family revolves around making dad happy. Rather than the wife pleasing her husband as an outflow of her allegiance to God, pleasing her husband becomes the very center and focus of her life. This, too, is a messed-up solar system.

In my mind I had a new vision of a solar system. This solar system had my husband and I spinning together, arm-in-arm, while God remained the ever-present enormous shining sun whose gravity held us both. In this solar system, both of our lives revolved around Him, not our kids, and not each other.

Like the first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, “What is the chief end of man?” I began asking myself, “Kim, what is the chief end of your life? What does your life revolve around? What is that gravitational force that holds your life in order? Who is in the center of your life’s solar system?”

Is my primary goal to “glorify God, and to enjoy him forever”?

Yes. Yes, it is.

TWIG

Love more than sacrifice

There are too numerous things to count that I’ve learned about God specifically through being a mom. One of the most breathtaking is the idea that God desires love more than sacrifice, and the knowledge of Him more than burnt offerings (Hosea 6:6).

 

I have trained my children to obey me. Ever since they could speak (or in my youngest son Daniel’s case, before they could speak), I have taught obedience as rule #1 in the Endraske house. The first Bible verse my kids learned was “Obey your parents in the Lord for this is right, Ephesians 6:1.” I taught them to obey promptly and fully, without complaining, arguing or questioning. (I’m not saying they did this … I’m merely saying this is what I taught them.)

Now that  my two oldest are young adults, I’m finding myself in a trap here. If I ask them to run an errand for me, or do a chore around  the house, or even say have lunch with me …. I don’t want them to do this out of a sense of obedience and/or sacrifice. I want them to WANT to. I want my kids to WANT to help, to serve, to give, and I especially want them to want to be with me, to love spending time with me, to value my relationship. And I fear that in all my drilling and discipline on obedience, they missed having the opportunity to choose to demonstrate their “just because” love for me, because it was all about doing as they were told. 

So, when I was recently asked by an unbeliever why God would create mankind when He knew that some would reject Him and suffer the eternal consequences of that choice, it reminded me of my life as a mom, and how I want my kids to want me.

When my kids were younger and they’d pester me to buy them something, or take them somewhere, I’d try to explain to them how they were stealing my joy of giving them a gift, that I wanted to give to them freely, and not under compulsion, being nagged and cajoled into giving them something.

I wonder if God ever feels like that. He loves us, with His incredible love. He demonstrates His love for us in that while we were still sinners, He sent Christ to die for us.  (Romans 5:8)  He does this as a free gift by His Grace through faith and even gifts us that faith in the first place, that none of us can boast or tell Him that He’s “got to give it to us” because it’s our wages due. (Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:4-5)  Because, in fact, our due wages is death (Romans 6:23).

God Himself is a cheerful giver, a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11). If He forced us to love Him, if there were no alternative BUT to love Him, I wonder if that would limit the joy that He receives from our grateful hearts full of thanksgiving to Him for the blessed gift of faith and love.

To the only Worthy One, my Savior and Redeemer and Friend.

TWIG

Boredom Busters – part 2

Lest you think that I only assign my children chores when things are a little slow over the summer, let me share a few of my other ideas.

I am incredibly thankful for the blessing it is to home school, but I do look forward to a summer break!  Our goal is to work on schoolwork from August 1 – May 1, but this doesn’t always work exactly.

When the majority of our schoolwork finishes up, I sit down with the kids to help each of them write up a list of about 10 summer goals.  (I admit this is the first summer in many years that my adult children have not done this with me!)

These goals include family activities (like going swimming or to a movie), as well as getting together with friends and projects (like cleaning out a closet or painting a picture).   Each week I try to make time to accomplish at least one of each of the kids’ goals for the summer.

During the school year, I keep my own list of goals for the summer dated in May on my Google calendar.  Then, when summer comes I can start working on them.  These goals range from house upkeep and cleaning projects to writing projects to field trips to homeschooling prep to lots of catching up with friends that I’m unable to do during the school year.

In the summer, we continue our daily Bible study as well as math and book reading, plus plenty of outdoor play.  But the kids are still frequently at a loss for what to do when I’m busy on one of my many projects.

So, this year, I’m trying a terrific idea a friend posted on Facebook.  The kids and I each wrote several activities on popsicle sticks and marked them with a time (like 30 minutes or 60 minutes or 2 hours) .  That way when we had a little time or a lot of time, we could pick one out.  This has worked well so far!  Thank you, Suzanne!

What do you do in the summer???

TWIG

 

 

These are a Few of my Favorite Things – Part 5 – Games and Websites

GAMES

  • If we’ve kept pretty close to our schedule, we’ll play a game after lunch.
  • Each of our four children and I have our own “day” where get to pick things like the board game or what we eat for lunch or who opens with prayer, etc.

Cards

  • Uno
  • Sleeping Queens
  • Ruckus
  • Sushi Go
  • Five Crowns

Word Games

  • Apples to Apples Junior
  • Blurt
  • Balderdash

Strategy Games

  • Risk
  • Catan
  • Ticket to Ride

Other

  • Hedbanz
  • Whoonu
  • Clue
  • Dominos
  • “Farkle”

WEBSITES

http://www.RainbowResource.com

  • Best prices on homeschooling supplies. Free shipping at $50.  They have everything.  Great place to look for educational gifts.

http://www.GraceandTruthBooks.com

  • Good prices on books.
  • More selective than Rainbow Res./Amazon – they only carry what they like.

http://www.BlueLetterBible.com

  • My favorite Bible website AND “app”
  • Great for looking up cross-references and original language def’ns
  • Great for printing off verses or chapters for inductive study or memorizing
  • Consider printing off a chapter or book of the Bible and have your young reader read along with an audio Bible of the same translation.

And my personal website: TeachWhatIsGood.com