Monday, June 24, 2013

begotten, but not created

This is something I've written about before, but recently, after having a lengthy discussion with my neighbor, who is Jehovah Witness, about who Jesus really is, I wanted to re-visit the topic on the blog. This truth is vital to Christianity. If we do not grasp and believe fully in it, than our faith is not in the Jesus of the bible.

We read in John chapter 1 this statement about Jesus, the Word: "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14).

So I started to think about the difference between someone who is begotten and someone who is created. After all, that is the word John uses. He says Jesus was the only begotten. He doesn't say that Jesus was created by God. 

And I realized that there is a major difference

Consider this statement from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity, "A man begets a child, but he only makes a statue. God begets Christ but He only makes men" (p. 140). In other words, God creates man but He did not create Christ, for Christ Himself is God and it was through Him, and by Him and for Him that all things were created. After all, Colossians says, "by him [Christ] all things were created... all things were created by him and for him" (Col 1:16, emphasis mine). 

side note: when Paul uses the word "all" in Colossians, he means all. As in everything. As in every single thing that has been created. Some religions believe that Jesus was God's first creation and then He created everything. But this teaching does not line up with what the Bible says. We are told: through, for and by Jesus, all things were created. He could not have created Himself. A creation does not have that kind of power. 

But even though Christ wasn't made by God, He was begotten of God.


The Way of Cross
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Lewis goes on, "But by saying that, I have illustrated only one point about God, namely, that what God the Father begets is God, something of the same kind as Himself" (p. 140). And this makes absolute sense. A dog cannot beget a mouse. A man cannot beget a cat. God does not beget a man, but He does create men. God only begets God. Jesus is God. 

another side note: Jesus was also begotten by a woman, making Him both man and God. And as a man on earth, He remained fully God.

Now that we have established that Christ was not created, but was begotten by the Father, it is also important to note that He is the only begotten of the Father. I'm sure you are familiar with John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life" (emphasis mine). This description of Christ is also used in John 1:14 (as seen above).

This statement reveals one simple and incredibly important truth: Jesus Christ is the only son of the Father who was begotten of God. While we are all called the sons and daughters of God once we accept Christ, we are adopted into His family through the saving work of Christ on the cross (Romans 8:15). We were not born to God, but to man. Only one was begotten of God: Jesus, God in the flesh (John 1:1, Rev 4:11, John 8:58). 

Jesus Christ is the only Son of God by His very nature. He was not created that way or made that way. He simply is. In fact, in John 8, when the Jews pressured Jesus to tell them who He truly was, His answer was simple: "I AM" (which was a reference to Exodus 3:14 when God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that "I AM" sent him). It was then that the Jews took up stones to stone Him, because He had claimed to be God.

And I thank God that Jesus is the only begotten of the Father. Because of this, His sacrifice on the cross was the only sufficient and complete sacrifice for sins, once and for all. It is because of Him and only because of Him, that I can know personally my Lord, our heavenly Father. Him alone. Nothing I can do or have done. 

Without His perfect sacrifice, there would be no way for me or you to approach a holy God. But thanks be to Jesus, who was the only acceptable sacrifice, spotless, blameless and perfect, the Lamb of God, I am cleansed and free and made holy. Amen.

*Soli Deo Gloria*

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

how to add kale to your life

[fair warning: kale chips will not be mentioned. blech]

We are kale crazy in our house. And I know it's not the most appealing food item, but if you work it into your meals and you're a little bit creative, you might just learn to love it.

We like kale because it's really good for us. But for someone who isn't familiar with it, where do you start? I want to share with you 5 ways to add kale to your life. There are a million more, but these are my favorite.

Before you cook with kale, you must prep it. This is best done the day you bring it home so it doesn't begin to wilt or turn yellow in the refrigerator. Simply trim the leaves from the stems and give them a rough chop. Soak in a big bowl of water or your sink for 30 minutes or so. Put it all through the salad spinner so they are plenty dry. Seal in a gallon zip lock bag with some dry paper towels. Store in the veggie drawer of your fridge. That way, your kale is always ready whenever you need to grab it for a recipe!

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salad
The first time we had kale salad, we used fresh cut kale from a local orchard. Oh man, it was delicious. I used this simple Martha Stewart recipe which calls for a fresh lemon juice dressing. We used a mix of 3 different kinds of kale. If you're going to eat kale raw, like in a salad, the most important thing to do is use the freshest kale you can find. Farmer's Market, locally grown or from your own garden are the best options.

soup
We eat a lot of soup in our house. It's delicious and easy. One thing I try to do often is make sure there are good, nutritious foods in our soup and one way to ensure that is to use kale. The key to kale in soup is to be sure it gets good and wilty before you add your stock or water. If you don't, then it will be crunchy, which if you like it like that, go for it! When using kale in a soup, I add it after I've sauteed my onion, carrot, celery and garlic. If you need a good recipe to try out, I recommend this one. It's vegetarian but there's no reason you can't add shredded chicken or even pasta to it!

pesto
This is how I began adding kale into our diet because it's a great way to hide it in your food. I always make our pesto because homemade pesto is just so yummy! And I got the idea to add kale to it from a vegan cookbook I had been reading. My pesto recipe varies every time I make it but in general it includes spinach, kale, garlic, salt, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. Blend all the ingredients together in a food processor and slowly pour the olive oil in until it reaches the desired consistency. Serve over fresh, hot tortellini (or your pasta of choice) or spread over slices of tomatoes and roast in the oven. Voila!

nutriblasts/smoothies
I've mentioned a few times that I got a nutribullet for my birthday. Don't have one? Get one! We love ours. And one reason I love it so much is because I will drink a thousand different veggies that I would have a hard time choking down otherwise. While kale is not one of those things for me, it may be for you. So this is a great way to eat it. You can also put it into smoothies. The difference with the nutribullet is that it actually liquefies everything rather than just blending it together. The infomercials claims that in doing so it turns everything into a "super food" because your body doesn't have to break anything down. I don't know how much of that is true. But I do know, it's a really good way to get otherwise gross food into your system daily. And seriously, you can't even taste it, especially if you add banana.

sauteed in bacon fat
This last way is my ode to good old fashioned southern cooking. I am no southern cook, let that be known. But I appreciate their ways down there. This way is simple and super flavorful: Heat some bacon fat (for us there is always some left from breakfast because, well, we always have bacon with breakfast). Throw in your roughly chopped kale and some minced garlic. Stir often as it wilts so the garlic doesn't burn. You can also add some pepper or cayenne pepper if you like it hot! After a few minutes it will turn a dark green and be sort of wilty. Don't let it get too wilty. Then add some chicken stock. Not too much. Maybe 1/3 cup? (I'm terrible with measurements. I do everything to taste and what looks right). Bring to a boil. Put a lid on the pan and let it simmer on low for about 20 minutes. And that's it! Serve with black eyed peas and some pulled pork sandwiches and you're set!

Monday, June 17, 2013

at 20 weeks gestation, they feel pain

If you've had a baby, you've been there. 20 weeks. Half way through. Right about 6 months (how that makes sense still confuses me!)

But the fun thing about 20 weeks is that you get the big ultrasound that week, right? They do all the measurements, make sure baby is developing right on schedule. And if you've had the patience to wait, that's when you find out: boy or girl? It's definitely an exciting part of pregnancy.

But why is that? Because you get to see your baby! You're allowed a peak into your own womb to watch that little person growing inside of you. You are looking at a miniature human being.

And what do you see? Everything, right? Head, arms, legs, hands, feet, mouth, eyes, ears, genitals. And aren't they usually moving around? Maybe sucking a thumb, or even waving. It's so much fun.

But you know, other than all the things that have been developing up to this point: heart beating, mind dreaming, ability to swallow, digestive system working, kidneys making urine, uterus and fallopian tubes are formed (if she's a girl), sweat glands are developed, taste buds are present on the tongue, that baby can also feel pain. They are pain-capable.

In fact, at this point in pregnancy, if a doctor needed to do surgery on your baby in-utero, they would administer pain medication. Because they have found that when a baby is poked while in the womb, they recoil in pain and try to get away.

Now consider performing an abortion on that same baby at 20 weeks gestation (or later). That baby receives absolutely no pain medication. And yet he is torn, limb from limb, legs from torso and head from neck. Is that a little graphic? It's the truth. If you have a chance to read it, this is the testimony of a former late-term abortionist about how exactly the procedure is performed (no pictures or video, just his description).

And right now, in this country, a place where we pride ourselves on protecting and loving our children, this practice takes place every day. There are 300 abortion providers who will do abortions at or after 20 weeks and 140 abortion providers who will do them at 24 weeks (several of those are in my home town, Las Vegas) source.

But today, you have a chance to change things and to make a difference for these babies, for the weakest and most vulnerable among us. Tomorrow (June 17, 2013) the United States House of Representatives will be voting on HR36 - The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. In simplest terms, this bill would ban abortions after 20 weeks gestation based on the scientific fact that babies at this stage feel pain. They deserve our protection. 64% of Americans agree that late-term abortions should be done away with. I can't see how this isn't common sense.

Today, all you need to do is call your representative. Here is the directory. Politely ask their position on the bill and request that they vote YES on HR36. Your voice needs to be heard. I don't care if you live in a district represented by a Democrat or a Republican. The issue of life is a bi-partisan issue. It is a human issue. Tell them how they should vote. Tell them to protect these tiny, precious human beings.

These babies are depending on you.


Thursday, June 13, 2013

life with boys, 8

He runs out from his nap, jumps on the bench and yells "play tha panio!"UntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitled#likeabossUntitledUntitledIMG_4934UntitledIMG_4884UntitledUntitledIMG_4926Untitled

*no, my two year old almost never wears pants. he may or may not get that from his mother.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

summer plans

Las Vegas summers are rough. And, although I consider myself a California girl, I don't much like the summer. I think the reason I loved San Diego so much was because all of May, June and into July, the coast is covered with a marine layer. Hence the term "May Gray" and "June Gloom". The summer that I was pregnant with Isaac and Ben was deployed to Afghanistan was my favorite (aside from having my husband thousands of miles away, in a war zone). If I didn't leave our apartment, I didn't see the sun. It was like that for 3 months straight. It was perfect.

But alas, we aren't in cloudy sunny So Cal anymore. We live in the desert. And if there is one thing the desert is good at, it's getting real hot and hardly letting a cloud into the sky.

So in all honesty, I have a hard time getting through summer. I wake up every day wishing it was October. Maybe even November. I just want to walk outside and feel that crisp air and cool breeze. And in the mean time, when I walk outside, I'm struck in the face with hot wind. It's like a furnace blowing constantly.

This year, to help get me through the summer months, I finally decided to make a summer list. Not to mention, Isaac is now 2 1/2 and he can do so many more fun things than he could last year! It's up on the refrigerator where I will see it every day. We've already gotten started on it, considering it was 110 this past weekend. Boo. And I cannot wait to check more items off our list in the next few weeks.

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Some items on the list are strictly for me and/or Ben, like spiking a watermelon, hanging curtains and going to a gun show (although we will take the kids). I wanted to focus on things for the kids and the family but still include "to-do's" without making it a goal/to-do list per-se. I think I accomplished that pretty well.

A few nights ago I took Isaac to McDonald's after dinner for ice cream. Just the 2 of us. Cheap ice cream date with my favorite 2 year old? Check!

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What are your summer plans??

Sunday, June 9, 2013

post pregnancy birth control

please note: I am not a physician, lactation consultant or trained medical professional. I am simple sharing a method that has worked for us in the past. For more information, please consult a professional.

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If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably know how I feel about birth control. If not, take a second and read that post. And then, if you're wondering what the other options are, read this post.

Today I want to share another form of birth control. This one is a bit more specific to circumstance, but it is another method none the less. And especially since a lot of my readers are mommas or soon to be mommas. I thought sharing this would be beneficial for a lot of ladies.

Also, it helps to just know how the female body works. Don't know where to start? I recommend this book. Ladies, God made you and He made you well. Get to know how your body works and you'll be amazed at His work!

We stopped using hormonal birth control in 2008. And we'll never use it again. But, as with almost all obstetricians and midwives, soon after the birth of both of my sons, the inevitable question came up: "will you be needing birth control?" My answer is, of course, no.

And no, we're not looking to have Irish twins around here (although I'm not entirely opposed to that).

No, we used LAM: Lactation Amenorrhea Method.

In the simplest terms, LAM is when you do not ovulate for the first 6 months of your baby's life and therefore, cannot get pregnant. You have to ovulate in order to get pregnant.

Can I just stop and sing my praise for breastfeeding again? Because that's what we're getting ready to talk about here. It's an amazing thing and I pray that every single mother who is able, will work as hard as they possibly can to do it for their children. But mommas, it's also an amazing gift to you! Not only is it the most incredible bonding experience with your baby, that you will get no other way, and not only does it burn 500 calories a day, but it works as a natural birth control! It's as if God designed it that way! (really though, He did).

But back to what I was saying.

There are a few requirements in order for this method to work correctly:

1. You must be exclusively breastfeeding baby either fully or nearly fully. This method will only work so long as your baby is breastfeeding, with little to no use of a pacifier and solid foods have not been introduced. You will start ovulating as soon as your body recognizes that baby is not breastfeeding fully. And that happens almost immediately, as it did for me when Isaac began solids at 5 months.

2. Baby must be under 6 months of age. It's crazy how accurate this is, but your cycle kicks in and you begin to ovulate when baby hits 6 months. With Eli, for me, it was almost to the day.

3. This method won't work if for some reason you've already started your period. This method needs to be decided upon before birth. You cannot decide to use it later on down the line.

What has it looked like for us? With Isaac, we introduced solids at 5 months old. With Eli, I was in much less of a hurry and this was one major reason. That boy is healthy weight-wise and gets plenty of calories from just my milk, so I was not worried at all in waiting. We did give him avocado at 5 months, but he didn't take to it so we held off. And in doing so, also held off on ovulation.

Most literature on the topic will tell you that your baby needs to be breastfeeding every 4 or less hours during the day and 6 or less hours at night for this method to work. That is text book, but not entirely true for everyone. We use the Babywise sleep training method and so by 10 weeks old, Eli was sleeping 8-9 hours at night. His day feedings were (and still are) exactly 4 hours apart, same exact time every single day. And yet, LAM still worked for us. I did, however, pay attention to my body and noticed that each month I was not ovulating. And I think that is because the criteria is "fully or nearly fully breastfeeding." The most important thing is to be excusively breastfeeding, with almost no supplements or pacifier. We used neither.

What about pumping and bottle feeding? Eli takes a bottle (thank goodness, because Isaac did not!). But I rarely pump. However, when he does bottle feed, if at all possible, I pump during that feeding so my milk supply doesn't take that as a sign that he's dropped a feeding. I also did it during the first 6 months so I wouldn't start ovulating! The thing is, you should just always be aware of your milk supply and your body. And that is why I can't say enough about Babywise and feeding/sleep schedules. My body knows exactly when Eli will eat every single day and so I'm never low on milk. If I need more, in order to pump for later, then I just pump what is left after each feeding.

And I realize this is quickly turning into a post about breastfeeding. If you have any questions about it, about how we do things, please email me. I'm happy to answer questions about anything!

Back to LAM. It's simple. It's wonderful and it's built in. The only other thing I would say about it is, you still need to be aware of your body. Pay attention to the signals it gives off. If you meet the 3 criteria above, you don't need to chart anything because this method of birth control has a failure rate of less than 2% (and that's dang good people). If you just want to be sure or if you're partially breastfeeding, chart. But either way, always look for signs of impending ovulation.

And there you have it. A form of natural birth control, that simply requires you do what is natural: breastfeed your newborn!

All of the information I've shared with you is from Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Whether you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, not even interested in being pregnant, just had a baby, are in between kids or are reaching menopause, know your body! And like I said, this book is a great resource.