Vet The Voices

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As a new mom, I constantly find myself bending the ear of more seasoned mothers than I. How did you handle sleep training? What brand of diapers worked for your little? Is this rash normal? Thank God for veteran moms that help newbies like me.

Not only is it instinctive and natural to ask others for advice, it is Biblical. (I knew I was on to something!) King Solomon wrote that in a multitude of counsellors there is safety. (Proverbs 11:14) There have definitely been seasons of life where I've needed a multitude of counsellors - my college days, my dating years and this time of early motherhood - to name a few. I am thankful for voices that have helped to guide me when my own lack of experience left me indecisive.

Where we can stumble is when we forget to put this passage of King Solomon's in context. King Solomon wrote the book of Proverbs attempting to lead a younger generation in the pursuit of wisdom. In reference to a "multitude of counsellors," he was therefore referring to wise counsel. It is not a case of quantity over quality.

We see Solomon's own son, Rehoboam, fall into the trap of taking in a multitude of counsel from the wrong advisors in the book of 1 Kings 12. Listening to the advice of his peers over the wisdom of his elders, caused Rehoboam to lose 10 of his nation's 12 tribes to a rival kingdom.

What can I, as a young wife and mother learn from Rehoboam's lack of judgement? In a world where everyone with a free blog site and knack for writing can be an expert, how can I filter through the noise and ensure I'm guarding my heart?

Do not ask people for directions to places they have never been.

There was a married couple that often gave me relationship advice. One day, I realized that I did not admire the manner in which they treated each other. I was not willing to one day have a marriage that reassembled their own, so why would I let them influence my decisions regarding relationships? I can not receive influential advice from people who have never been where I am going.

Ask for advice from people that have "skin in the game."

There are individuals that have given of their life to benefit my own. My parents, my pastor, and spiritual advisors that have loved me for decades. I want to give weight to the voices of my life's "investors" - those that will feel my successes and failures much more deeply. Those are the voices that will tell me the truth, even when it is not something I want to hear. My success is theirs as well. My failures hurt their hearts. They have a personal stake in my choices.

Listen to THE voice.

It is almost a reflex, isn't it? I'm having a bad day, so I pick up the phone and call my bestie. But how often do I instinctively drop to my knees and speak to the Lord? How often do I listen? John 10:27 says that we can hear the voice of our Shepherd and follow. And when His audible voice is silent, I can go to his voice on the page. Psalms 11:105 says His Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. When my path seems dark and my footing unsure, His Word will ALWAYS shed light on the situation.

When it is all said and done, I have a responsibility to "vet the voices," helping to guide my thinking and influencing my choices. Perhaps not every voice deserves clout in my life. Perhaps not every blogger is credible. Perhaps not every Instagram influencer is trustworthy. We need spiritual awareness to the noise we hear through social media, entertainment, our friends and work environments. Let us live alert and pray for discretion as to what opinions we allow to seep into our daily living. Most of all, let us live listening for the voice of our Shepherd.

The Paper Fireplace

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We are a mere few weeks away from bringing our first baby into the world. While she may miss Christmas day, I have a new found respect for what parents face each year to ensure their little families have a magical holiday. I see dads on ladders hanging Christmas lights and moms baking in the kitchen. I understand the pressure to buy just the right gifts and the chaos of parties, programs and hosting family. As a child you do not always see the bills, the exhaustion, and the pressure to produce a Hallmark experience for your loved ones. You just see the sparkle.

One Christmas that I look back on with such warmth, was when our family was very young. My parents could not afford gifts that holiday. As a matter-of-fact, the only present my two sisters and I received, was a new dress to wear to our church's Christmas service. There were no packages delivered or tinsel and garland to behold. All that mom was able to produce that year was a small, paper fireplace. I can see the image clearly in my mind's eye. She sat on the floor of our tiny living room and rolled out a large piece of white paper. Using colored pencils, she carefully shaded in orange and yellow flames atop brown logs. Each brick was hand-drawn and meticulously placed. Using tacks, she pinned the finished image to our wall and hung small stockings from the paper mantle. On Christmas day, instead of opening presents, we found candy inside the tiny stockings. I still remember their tangy, sweet flavor.

That year, while my parents may have witnessed lack, I only saw the magic. It was not until I was much older that I even realized there were no gifts that December. All I honestly remembered was the most beautiful picture of a fireplace and the excitement of getting candy on Christmas morning from our very own little stockings.

As I bring my own daughter into the world, I want to always remember the innocent spirit of a child. I want to remember to see the holidays though her eyes. If the tree is crooked and the presents are sparse, maybe it is only I who will notice. Truth be told, I do not remember many of the Christmas presents I have received through the years. What I remember are the dinners with family, walks through the snow, laughter, games played, and one paper fireplace crafted with the love of a mother.

Take a deep breath newlywed. Let your heart rest, tired mommy. Let your spirit be content my anxious friend. Use gift-bags this year. Buy your hot chocolate pre-made. Do not put so much pressure on your fragile soul. I promise, no one will notice. Your secret is safe with me. Give yourself a break and give yourself a chance to feel the joy. They may not remember what you bought them, but they will remember the experience you create. Do not let them see your furrowed brow over homemade cookies. Let them see a mess, but a twinkle in your eye. That is what Christmas is all about.

Luke 2: 11-14

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.