Sunday, December 23, 2007

Great New Products

Last year I joined this great company called BzzAgent ( They send me all sorts of free stuff, and my job is to tell others about it, write up a brief report, and earn points for cool stuff. I have already received a free Sonicare toothbrush, a free Jennie-O frozen turkey (through the mail!), and a few free books. Here is what they recently sent me that I want to tell you about!

1) A Sonicare Sanitizer - this is a machine that sanitizes your Sonicare toothbrush (or other toothbrush head) in 10 minutes using UV light. It is so great! The funny thing is, I was thinking, "yeah, but do people really need this?" The next day, Martin said, "I have something to tell you, but don't get mad." "I accidentally used your toothbrush!" Ewwww!!! See, after getting my free Sonicare from the company, we loved it so much that we bought Martin one. Well, we have the same color toothbrush and so they are easily confused. Needless to say, that Sonicare Sanitizer came in really handy that night. It is also useful for sanitizing your toothbrush if you are sick and don't want to throw your toothbrush out!

2) CVS Pharmacy PhotoBook - many people order photobooks online through Shutterfly or IPhoto, but now you can just take your memory card into your local CVS Pharmacy, and create a book right in the store. It is mailed to you after you create it. It is also a lot cheaper than some of the other websites - around $12.99 for a small book. These make awesome gifts! If you'd like to try it, I have a few 50% off coupons so that you can create a book for as low as $6!

3) Listerine Whitestrips - I have always been a Crest Whitestrips girl myself, but I received some samples of these in the mail, and they seem to work great. The best part is, they dissolve right onto your teeth. This means that you can wear them around the house or even outside and not have to worry about removing them. They leave your teeth feeling really fresh and clean, and help freshen your breath too! I have samples of these if you want to try them, too.

4) LypSyl Lip Balm - Anyone who knows me know that I LOVE lip balm- at my wedding shower, all the guests were instructed to bring a lip gloss for me, and I had a huge supply that lasted me over a year! Right now my favorite is Burt's Bees and Lip Smacker. BUT, I got a sample of this lip balm and it is great. It does not feel like Bees Wax, even though that is the main ingredient. It leaves my lips feeling silky soft, and it lasts a long time. Hours. I highly recommend it! I have samples of this too if you want to try it!

So, I know what you're thinking - how can I become a BzzAgent and get free stuff? Easy! Just go to and join! Tell them I "sent you" - Jaimie Bowman - and get ready to receive lots of free stuff - it is so fun!!!

"What's a Mother To Do?!"

I will never forget the wave of emotions that swept over me when I read the "positive" sign on my first pregnancy test. Within the first five minutes of my results, I was overcome by complete joy and excitement, thankfulness and peace. Before I even told my husband the happy news (he was at a meeting), I eagerly jumped online to read all about the first few weeks of pregnancy. I found websites galore, magazines to subscribe to, and books to purchase! I could hardly wait to start reading about my new journey as a pregnant woman.

My excitement was quickly overcome by nervousness, however, as one of the first things I read said that the risk of miscarriage is highest during the first three months. I read about what foods I should eat and be avoiding, and began to worry since I had eaten a "forbidden food" the night before. "Oh, no!" I thought after reading another article, "I haven't taken any prenatal vitamins yet and I'm five weeks along!"

Welcome to my life: I am an information addict. My husband, elated by the news that we were going to have a baby, soon became my sounding board for all of the new information that I read about daily. He also wanted to read all that he could, so he could be an educated and helpful partner. We attended classes together, stayed up late reading What to Expect When You're Expecting, and talked to our baby through the womb. In all of our efforts, however, I never realized that we were becoming slaves to our new knowledge. We began to put our trust in what the doctors and authors were saying about our child, and found ourselves questioning every decision we made, wondering if it was the right decision or not.

When we finally announced to the world that we were expecting, we might as well have hung a billboard from my belly that said, "Please Deposit All Unwanted Advice Here!" We got tips from other parents on everything from how my labor and delivery should go, to what the best stroller was to buy, to what pediatrician to choose. While some of the advice was very helpful, much of it was conflicting advice, which confused us even more. Suddenly we realized we had some important decisions to make: Epidural or All-natural? Breast milk or formula-feed? Circumcision or Not? Vaccinations or no vaccinations? Return to work or Stay at home? Put the baby on a schedule or feed on demand? And eventually, Put the kids in school or home-school? We both felt like the questions were endless.

One night after our baby was born, my husband saw me tearing up after I put down a book I was reading. "I just feel so inadequate," I explained. "Everything I read is telling me that I am not doing enough, and making me question every decision we make for our child." "Honey," he responded, "you need to stop reading so much!"

There are conflicting opinions on virtually every topic related child-rearing out there. Part of the confusion is that so many well-meaning Christians can have such opposite viewpoints on the same topics. It is amazing to me to hear the judgmental attitudes that so many Christian mothers have towards their sisters-in-Christ who choose to do things differently than themselves. Many of these woman try to use Scripture to back up their personal choices, making others feel almost as if they are "sinning" by making a different choice. One thing is true: we are all women just trying to do our best. We are trying to find out what works for us. And we may find that what works for us is not what works best for someone else.

I now have two young boys, and I continually find myself in conversations with other mothers about these decisions and choices that we all have to make. While the Bible does not clearly tell us the solution to many of these questions, the Bible does give us wisdom that can help us in making our decisions:

1) We are not to live in fear.
Much of the information we are given as parents is fear-based. "If you don't do this, then this bad thing will happen to your child." Whether you choose to feed your child organic food or not, or vaccinate your child or not, the ultimate reality is that each of our child's lives are in the hands of God. He determines the course of our lives. Psalm 27: 1 says, "The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid?" We can also apply this to our lives and say "of what shall I be afraid?" God does not want our relationship with our kids to be driven by fear. He loves us, and we do not need to constantly be afraid that something bad will happen to our kids, because their lives are in His hands.

2) Our trust cannot be in ourselves, but in God.
Our children are gifts from God. They are His children, even more than they are ours. He cares for our children even more than we do. If we are putting our trust in anything on this earth to protect our child, our trust is in the wrong object. That is not to say that we should not do everything we can to protect our children, but our trust needs to be in Him instead of in our own efforts. Is our trust in the choices we are making, or is our trust in God himself? Psalm 20:7 says, "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God." Today we could (jokingly) say, "Some trust in Babywise and some trust in breastmilk, but do we trust in the name of the Lord our God?"

3) We are not to have judgmental attitudes towards other parents.
It is tempting to look down on other parents who have different viewpoints than our own. After all, you think, "I have done my research and I know more about this." However, unless it is a life or death issue, Christians have room for disagreement in parenting, and we need to be okay with that. Matthew 7:1-2 states, "Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Each parent is responsible to God for how they raise their children, not to us. We are instructed not to judge, and leave that job up to God.

Each day I am humbled by the realization that God has given me two beautiful boys to raise, and I cannot claim to know more than my sister-in-Christ, despite how much I have read and researched. God has not called me to become an expert on parenting; he has called me to love my fellow believers. That calling is one I hope to be found worthy of.

*All Scripture references taken from the New International Version.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Giving Up on God

This is a post that I originally posted on MySpace, so some of you may have already read it. I had an opportunity to preach at my church a few weeks ago, and my message was on Mary and Joseph, and how they worshiped God through unexpected circumstances. I wrote this while I was preparing for the message and shared some of this in my message....

Giving Up on God

If you are anything like me, you have a plan for your life. Maybe you've had that plan for your life since you were 12 years old… Something like: you would go to college, meet the man of your dreams, get married, have 2.5 children, 2 girls and one boy (a boy first, of course), live in a nice 4 bedroom house with a pool in the backyard, have 2 cars (at least one SUV), your husband would make enough money for you to stay home with the kids for a few years (if not forever), and you would live happily ever after. Remember that game in junior high called M.A.S.H.? You would get so excited when it would land on all the choices you wanted, and you secretly hoped that the game would work and life would turn out that way.

Now that I am older (and hopefully wiser!), I have realized that I don't know one person whose life has turned out as they had planned. Most of my friends are believers in Jesus Christ, and have followed him most of their lives. We have dedicated ourselves to following God's will for us and obeying him no matter what. We go to church on Sunday, we worship him, we listen to Christian radio (at least occasionally), we try not to cuss, we talk about God on a regular basis and what he is doing in our lives. And yet, when things don't turn out as we planned, we all have something in common. Many of us start to wonder. We wonder, "where is God?" "why is this happening to me?" "has He forgotten me?" The thoughts start out to be rare. They pop in here and there, we rebuke the questions, we keep reading the Word, and we try to have faith. But as the days go on, and our situation doesn't change or gets worse, we struggle more. The thoughts start coming more frequently "doesn't He care?" "maybe He's not even real!" we dare to think. We repent for our unbelief, we confess our lack of faith. But the days continue to go one. Our situation doesn't seem to be changing. In fact, it seems to be staying this way. And we secretly begin giving up on God.

We may not even realize we are doing it. The acts begin almost unnoticeably, but we start trying to take matters into our own hands. "This wasn't the plan!" we think, and so we begin damage-control. We start trying to fix things, to clean things up, to make things look pretty from the outside so that nobody will notice. Instead of praying and reading the Word, we begin researching how to change our situation. We fill our days with searching, talking, phone calls, consultations. These things make us feel like we are moving forward somehow, making our situation better than it was.

I think of Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was between 13-15 years old, just living her life. She had a fiancee', she was loved, she was being taken care of by her parents… all was well. But in the blink of an eye, her situation changed. And it was not what she had planned. She didn't know that:

- She would be a pregnant teenager.
- She would almost loses her fiancee'
- She would be publicly disgraced & ridiculed
- She would leave her home and go to live with her cousin Elizabeth for 3 months.
- She would have to travel 70 miles when she was 10 months pregnant, on a DONKEY, no less!
- There would be nowhere to go when she started having contractions
- That she would have her baby in a barn – probably on hay- ouch!
- After a year or two, she and her family would have to run for their lives to Egypt because Herod was trying to find her baby and kill him.

Through it all, we don't read of Mary complaining or saying, "Why Me?" or "This wasn't my plan!" Instead, when she arrived at Elizabeth's house, knowing what was ahead, despite her fear, she broke out in praise and thanks to God.

What is my response when things don't go as planned?

-When I lose my job and can't find one for months
- When the doctor tells me I can't have children
- When one of my loved ones finds out she has cancer
- When we lose our house for financial reasons
- When my spouse leaves me for another person
- When I still don't have a boyfriend or husband after all of this time
- When I find out I need major surgery
- When one of my kids has a disease or disorder

Do I try to take things into my own hands? Do I try to "show God" how to handle matters and just do them myself? Do I give up on Him and His plan for my life, and just re-arrange things so they'll go my way from now on? Faith is not easy. It is a long road that often takes us down a path we did not intend to tread upon. Many times faith requires us to go the opposite way of what we presently want to do. Faith requires us to go against our need to control, and leave the control up to the Lord. Yet when we give him control, and rest in His care, knowing that he is responsible for the outcome (not us), our faith will be strengthened, and we will be blessed.

God's plan in ALWAYS better than ours.

The Wonder Years

Well, I did it. I decided to start my own blog. I know many people start these things and never keep up with them, but this will be my New Year's Resolution for 2008 - try to blog at least once a week! I have always enjoyed reading other people's blogs, so why not? It is kindof like journaling but you know it is for an audience. So, please feel free to leave me messages! I know not everyone is on myspace, so I am going to transfer some things I have written there to this blogspot, for those of you who enjoy reading.

So, why did I title my blog "The Wonder Years"? While I was a big fan of that show while it was on, that is not why I chose this theme. Since becoming a mother, I am constantly amazed at the wonder in Micah's eyes. Everything is new to him. Everything is exciting, big, fun, and the smallest things make him happy. Martin was just asking me, "Why do I keep hearing this phrase, 'The Wonder of Christmas'? What exactly does that mean?" I told him that I think it is talking about the wonder in a child's eyes.

Tonight we went to Martin's parents house to celebrate Christmas. They had the "Wizard of Oz" playing on the TV. Micah has never seen it, and he was enthralled by it. But I kept realizing that there are really scary parts in that movie, and my little boy has never been exposed to anything like that before! It made me sad, in a way, because I realize that his innocent little mind, so pure, so full of trust and wonder, is going to eventually be affected. By the media, by people around him, by other kids, etc. It is so scary if you really think about it. I want to protect him from feeling fear - from ever being scared. But I know this is why we entrust our children to God's care. We must trust that God will protect our children, even when we can't.

So begins our journey through "The Wonder Years" with our two precious boys.