Baby B is Changing My World Again

Yesterday we went in for our anatomy scan.  Pretty quickly, the ultrasound tech smiled and said, “See that…it’s a boy!” 

I had a feeling it was a boy, but there was something completely surprising and life changing about knowing for sure what this sweet little baby growing within me is.  As he kicked and flipped, scratched his head and flexed his muscles, I was in awe.  To know that this little life, this little boy, has been growing within me, perfectly formed by the Father, was incredible.   And to think, too, how miraculously this little one was created.  Half me, half Andy…already a little boy, full of spirit and energy. 

IMG_0856

We looked at the first ultrasound pictures, just 10 short weeks ago, and marveled at how he’s grown and changed. 

IMG_0863

From just a little tiny thing, with stubby little arms moving around, to what looked like a real, true baby. 

IMG_0859
No surprise to us, the ultrasound tech said he “looked long”.  Yep, he’ll be a tall one.  And to think he has about 20 more weeks of growing ahead!
IMG_0861

    

Suddenly, I started to think about how my life was going to change in 20 weeks.  A little boy.  The first boy for my mom’s side of the family in literally 50 years.  Both of my cousins on that side are girls, I have only sisters, and only nieces.  And now comes a little boy.  We don’t know the first thing about a little boy!
But, oh, how fun it will be.  There’s already been talk of little fighter pilot outfits (thanks to my dad), and the manliest toys and colors we can find.  Suddenly into the lives of all these girls there will be Tonka trucks and cowboy hats, dinosaurs and bb guns.  I know we will love every minute, and you better believe this little boy will be spoiled and doted on to no end.

But best of all to me was Andy.  He’s been quiet since the ultrasound, taking it all in.  He kind of wanted a girl, but I think he forgot all about that once he saw our sweet baby boy on the screen.  Last night we walked into what will be our little boy’s room, thinking about just a few months from now.  Out of the blue, he grinned really big and started talking about getting cowboy hats and John Deere signs.  All thoughts of “his little girl” and pink ribbons and curls had gone out the window.  And he was so happy when he thought about having a son.     

Andy’s never been one to be prideful, or want a “firstborn son” or even an heir to his name.  That’s the sweetest part about it.  Yes, he will have both those things, but that’s not why he’s excited.  He’s excited because God knew exactly what he was doing when he gave us a boy.  We’ve been blessed with an incredible blessing…a son to raise up for the Lord. 

Two little girls already changed my world.  And now one little boy’s doing it all over again.

It’s Not My Body

From the beginning of creation, women have been experiencing the wonderful gift of pregnancy and childbirth.  They’ve marveled as their belly grew, and at the love they felt for the child the first time they held them in their arms.  But somewhere along the way, they decided that their body, this miraculous creation of God perfectly made to form and nurture the tiniest life, was theirs to control.  They decided that, because the tiny life within them was still a part of them—still within them—that they had the say-so to keep or end it.  And so many women do.


I am a woman.  I know what it’s like to be a woman.  I know how we think and how we multi-task.  I know how we have dreams and aspirations.  I know that a baby can be unexpected and unplanned, ruining our plans and our dreams.  But I also know that life is an incredible gift, not to be taken lightly.

For years we women have been lied to.  We’ve been told it’s not a baby—that it’s just a tiny clump of cells.  We’ve been told that we shouldn’t bring an unwanted baby into this world.  We’ve been told that it’s better off for the baby.  We’ve been told that it’s our choice. 


I’ve never been in the situation of even considering an abortion.  I’ve never been pregnant and unmarried, been financially unable to support a child, or been raped.  But I know people who have.  I know the fear, the guilt, the shame, that comes with those babies.  I know the pressures that society, friends, and family puts on you.  I understand why the easy road would seem to be simply “taking care of it”.

But I’ve also seen the tiny life within me on a screen, only eight weeks after conception.  I’ve seen it’s little heartbeat, and it’s sweet little head.  I’ve seen it kick and move, full of life.  I’ve heard the sound of the tiniest heart pumping blood, pumping life, through its little body.  I’ve had a glimpse of what life truly means…to be knit together in your mother’s womb.  And I know that each tiny life is a miracle, crafted special and with its own plan for its life. 

I know too that it’s hard.  A baby could change your life forever.  But what about adoption?  What about all the wonderful families out there that are just aching to make the baby growing inside of you their own?  Yes, there will be shame and guilt.  No, you can’t hide a pregnancy from the world.  But isn’t it worth it if only to give that tiny life a chance to blossom and grow?

You may say it was all a mistake or, if you were raped, that this child growing inside of you could be nothing more than a monster.  You don’t deserve this.  But, then again, neither does your child.  It doesn’t deserve to have life snatched away from it without even being given a chance.

No matter the circumstances behind its conception, a baby is still a baby.  It’s a helpless, fragile life, depending on you to care and nurture it…depending on you to bring it safely into this world.  So I ask you, knowing the miraculous work inside of you, can you still say “it’s my body”.  Don’t you know that you were intricately woven and fashioned, just as this small child is?  Who are you to stop this process?  Who are you to end this small life?  No, it’s not, and should not be, our choice.  It’s not our life to choose.

Sweet child, growing within my womb, know that I will always nurture you, guard you, and protect you, because you cannot yourself.  And with tears in my eyes I pray for the millions of little ones who will never know this love…never know the sacrifice that not “taking care of it” is.  May they be safely welcomed into the Father’s arms, who cares for even the tiniest life. 

Passion 2012

I know, it’s been almost a month, but I’m finally getting around to writing about Passion 2012 in Atlanta.  Not that it wasn’t amazing or exciting…I’ve just been busy!

A little over a year ago, my husband and I felt led to start working with the college ministry at our church.  Most of the college students in the class were kids that had grown up here and either stayed here to go to college, or left but came back for breaks.  Since neither of us grew up around here, we didn’t know the majority of them.  The big trip to Passion 2011, an amazing college conference in Atlanta, was coming up and we thought that it would be a great opportunity to get on board.  One of my sisters from Arizona was also signed up to go with us (no one she knew was going).

A couple of days before we left, however, Andy decided that, with work and all, he really couldn’t go.  So, I went with out him and took my sister.  It was an amazing four days, and learned a ton, but something was missing…Andy.  Not only was I lonely without him, it was just plain hard to take back what I had learned and share it with him in a way that would have had the same meaning had he gone himself!

A wonderful year passed, in which the college ministry was growing and we were loving working with the kids.  Passion 2012 came up and, this time, Andy got to go!  So, at the beginning of January we loaded up three vans and headed east. 

There are so many things I could share with you about our trip.  If you’re not familiar with Passion, it doesn’t have an equal.  It’s chock full of inspiring speakers, music, and encouragement to step up and make a difference in this world…despite only being a college student.  Not that adults can’t get anything out of it too…it’s just geared for 18-25 year olds.

The overarching theme this year was “Do Something Now”…an aspect they’ve always had but that took center stage this year.  Did you know that there are over 27 million slaves in the world today?  Yes, 27 million!  And guess what, before you dog on college students, they were able to raise almost 3 million dollars at Passion this year to free these slaves.  3 million dollars!!!


What hit me the most about Passion was not that, yeah, it’s awesome that all these college students got together to give money and praise Jesus, but the thought of what am I supposed to do about what I’m learning

Most Christians in America live in a bubble.  Somehow we think that if we’re going to church twice a week, paying tithe, and leading a Sunday school class that we’re somehow serving the Lord…somehow living how Jesus wants us to live.  But is that what it’s all about?

Sure, it’s great to serve in the church and, yes, many of us work hard for our “easy” lives full of nice houses and clothes.  But people are dying each moment and going to hell, and there are 27 million slaves in this world needing the hope of Jesus.  So what are we going to do about it?

For Andy and I, we left Passion examining our lives and our goals.  We felt like much of our own lives and what they about is a waste.  We have so many opportunities around us to reach out and spread Christ’s name.  And yet, do we?  And, compared to so many in the world, we have been incredibly financially blessed.  But do we covet things and call them “needs”, or do we use the money God has blessed us with for His kingdom?

Before Passion, I had been really wanting some new brown riding boots.  I’d been looking everywhere for a good pair, and I’d been saving up my money.  At Passion, it seemed like every girl around me was wearing brown riding boots.  And yet, here I was, without them.  But as Passion progressed, I suddenly realized how foolish my coveting of those boots was.  I started thinking about how much the money I would spend on those boots could benefit someone in need…could help free someone from slavery…could help bring somebody to Christ.  All of a sudden, those boots seemed very insignificant

There’s nothing wrong with looking nice and getting new things.  I, myself, am a firm believer in representing Christ by dressing nicely and with thought.  But how many things do we really need?  How much could we actually go without?


One of the speakers, Francis Chan, spoke about taking the Bible literally.  One day he was reading the Word and stumbled upon the parable of the feast.  He realized that that’s what God wants us to do…and so he did.  He and his wife found poor, destitute people and invited them to an incredible feast.  His wife took them shopping and bought them new clothes, and they were thoroughly pampered for the occasion.  Everything was planned to a “t”…a dinner party nicer than many of us have come to.  And what an incredible witness?  Isn’t this how God wants us to live?


Dare we live boldly for Christ and reexamine our very lives and what they revolve around?  All the answers are not found in the traditions of the church.  They’re found solely in God’s Word. 

Just a little food for thought.   

Wet Toes

It’s 5:30 on Friday night.  Andy is later getting home than he usually is, trying to wrap up everything for the weekend. 

He ate a very late lunch at a work meeting, so I’m not starting dinner yet.  There’s no telling when he’ll be hungry.  Instead, I sit at my kitchen table, sipping a cup of hot chocolate and gazing out the window.  Gazing at the mist.

It’s been foggy all day.  When I woke up this morning, I looked out our bathroom window to the field beyond and watched a cloud of mystery descend from the mountain.  We never had days like this in Arizona.  No rain, no snow…just cold.  And everything is wet.  It’s the kind of day that could seep to your bones, making your eyes droop and body sag.  Winter in Arkansas.


Three times today I went out in our yard, training our dog with the new wireless fence.  Part of me wanted to just stay inside, but I knew the training was crucial.  So I pulled on my hat, my scarf, and my gloves, and trudged out to get Sam.  Since moving to Arkansas, I’ve acquired thick rain boots.  They would have been perfect for a day like this.  But, not wanting to take any extra time, I left on my brown cloth ones that I wore to work and ventured out.  I found myself involuntarily looking down, letting the grey day direct my emotions.  But something caused me to stop.  The toes of my boots were wet.


Instantly I was transported to a different time and place.  Can it really be four years ago now?  Can it be that long ago that my friend and I went to England in the dead of winter, traipsing all over the countryside in our cloth boots?  My toes had been wet then too.


But somehow, back then, it didn’t matter.  It was thrilling to experience the newness of grey days and mist, of walking in the rain.  The locals thought we were crazy roaming around in it…without any “wellies” even.  But we loved it.  It was so new, so different.

And with my wet toes came a turning point in my life.  A time when, sitting beneath a giant tree in sheep field, I decided to stop trying to live my life by my strength and instead let Christ live in me.  I decided to let me die and He live.  My life has never been the same.


In one instance, everything was brought into perspective.  The meaning of my day-to-day doings, even the trivial task of training little Sam in the fog, meant everything.  They meant letting Him live in me, giving up all that I am, was, and ever hope to be for the sake of His will, His path, and His leading.  Nothing He sets before us is trivial in His eyes.  It’s all a part of His plan to bring glory to His name.  Each little task, even cooking dinner or training a dog, when done at His leading, becomes a puzzle piece to His grand design.  Oh, how much I miss out on each day.  How I needed that reminder!

And to think, it was all because of some wet toes.

Bare Trees and Seasons

DSCF2096

Another typical day.  Another day of working hard, each moment consumed by some “important” task.  But on this day, I take a moment to look up around me.  I am startled to realize that some of the trees are already bare.

Suddenly I realize that Fall is slipping away all too quickly.  In the midst of my busyness, I’ve forgotten to savor each magical moment…each enchanting leaf.  I’ve yet to make a pumpkin pie.  I’ve yet to savor a hot cup of cider.  I missed the way the maple tree turned from green to yellow to red.  And I forgot to watch the leaves falling softly to the ground.

I feel in a panic.  “Wait!” I want to shout, “Come back!”

But they can’t come back, all those times I’ve missed…all the opportunities I wasted to delight in glorious Autumn.

Like a soldier marching on, time does not stop or waver.  It does not hear my mournful cries.  It just keeps pressing on.  On to another season, and another time.

And as I watch Fall march away, I realize something very sad: that in the midst of tackling my to-dos and tasks, I completely missed a season that I can never again get back. 

And so, with eyes wide open, I step into a new season, a new time—this time determined to not let those precious moments slip away…those simple, little gifts. 

Lord, may I never be so busy with life and living that I forget to stop and delight in the gifts of the season I am in.  May I not let these seasons of life slip away like Fall…never to get back again.   

The Big "C" Word

Compromise.  Usually it’s portrayed in a positive light, as far as it relates to relationships.  But compromise in the way we live?  I think we’ve taken it too far.

Nobody’s perfect, and Christians even more so.  But I’m sick of the compromise that’s going on.  I’m sick of us professing Christians living just like the world, instead of being the lights we should be.

Take purity, for example.  Often, we draw the line at the big “s” word.  Yet, in our dress and our actions, we are sending the message that we want to be as close to the world as possible.  Why do we compromise so much in this area?  No, you may not have had sex, but have you preserved your purity?  Purity is about so much more than just sex.  Purity is a mindset and a lifestyle. It’s a direction to go instead of a line to get close to. 

Now, I’m not saying that everyone has to wait for their wedding day to share their first kiss, like Andy and I did.  That was just something that Andy and I decided to save.  What I am saying is that, as Christians, when approaching the subject of purity and boundaries, as well as any other area of our lives, we need to think about our witness.

Last week, I saw some things posted online by a fellow believer in Christ.  They were very sensual and, to say the least.  There was nothing about them that was honoring of God.  Furthermore, this was public online for everyone to see.  Unfortunately, this is nothing new.  I am constantly let down and disappointed by the compromise I see in fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  I struggle with compromise myself. 

So, my question is, why compromise?  Why see how close we can get to being like the world while still proclaiming Christ?  God doesn’t want lukewarm, compromising followers.  He wants followers who are truly sold out to Him and willing to live a life that’s radical in the eyes of the world in order to follow Him. 

I have news for you: the world isn’t drawn to themselves.  They’re empty, so why would they look to other empty people to fill them?  What they are drawn to is Christ as He overflows out of His followers.  And they can’t see Him when we look like the world.

Are you ready to stand up and be different?  Lets start running the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus instead of on what others are thinking of us. 

Not compromising.  It’s about so much more than toeing the line.  It’s about being different for Christ…and being okay with that.  

Learning to Trust

This past week has been chock-full of craziness.  It began with a truck in the shop, meaning a bill of well over a grand, and ended with finding out that the back tires on my car are dangerously worn.  In between, we’ve had two friends in the hospital (one with a broken back, that I mentioned last week), one set of friends miscarried their little boy, I had a weird reaction to a bug bite and had to see the doctor, and things with the house haven’t worked out as planned.  Oh, and my sister came to visit.  I’m tempted to say that that’s the only positive part of last week, but that’s not true.  I got to go on a sweet and special date with my husband to the home improvement store and Olive Garden.
Most of all, this past week, my husband and I have been earnestly seeking God’s will for our life a certain decision.  Strangely enough, the craziness and stress of the past week have linked with this decision hand-and-hand.  Why?  Because God has been really working in our lives and on our hearts. 
I’m a planner.  I love to have organized lists and schedules, and having a large safety-net of money means the difference between peace and worry for me.  The last week obviously aligned with none of these desires and comfort zones for me.  But that’s the point.  God’s really been revealing to me that I’m not relying on Him and His strength…I’m relying on my own efforts and careful planning. 
Sometimes I wonder when I’ll quit stressing and worrying about my plans, and start letting go, knowing that God’s plan is so much better?!  This worry and control on my part is only a stumbling block between me and the Lord.  How sad is it that I let my worries and plans get in the way of my relationship and sheer and utter trust in the Savior of my soul?! 
Letting go is not an easy process.  But slowly, faithfully, He is chipping away at what I’ve made myself into, and forming me into what He wants me to be. 
Oh, the wondrous plans I know He has in store for meIf only I will let Him dream instead of me.