Thursday, December 23, 2010

Spending time together!!

I honestly do not have a lot of time to "blog" but I want to remember this lesson that we have learned recently so I will try to hurry and hope this all makes sense...

Sonny and I have gotten to spend some great time together lately- thanks to our wonderful family and the amazing Kaitlyn Burke offering to babysit and the Lord really has used that time to teach us so much. Here recently Sonny and I have had about 7 different times where he will say something and I will have JUST had that same thought. It has been so weird. The last time that it happened, Sonny said that it had to be some kind of illustration that the Lord was trying to teach us. It sure was. Sonny has been teaching our students through the book of Deuteronomy and telling them again and again that if they want to really KNOW the Lord they must spend time with Him (Deuteronomy 6) and learn His word. It all makes so much sense. In a marriage, the more time you spend with one another- the more you love one another (if you are both pursuing Christ together) and the more you know each other. You can get to the point where you almost finish each others' sentences. You also need to make sure that you get time with just the two of you- away from kids, jobs, and anything stressful! This is so important to have a healthy marriage- time alone with each other to continue to grow together as one and share struggles, joys, burdens, hopes, etc. This is so similar to our relationship with Christ. We should be delighting ourselves so much in Him that we know right away what He thinks about things. We need to make sure that we get alone time with Him where we really are able to love Him with an undivided heart. This is what Christ died for. He died so that we could be near to the Lord (1 Peter 3).

This has honestly been such a challenge for me lately. Our family has been fighting (and losing to) a cold/virus since Zoee was born. This has made it very hard for me to have great times with the Lord. When the kids are finally asleep and I get some time to myself- there are LOADS of laundry to do and a house that needs to be sterilized to kill all the germs!! I am trying to delight myself in Christ throughout the day- even when I am doing the small things like reading a book about trucks to my little man. Even if we feel swamped- we can still try to delight in Him and be in His presence throughout the day. I have to tell myself this often so that I do not try to do life without being near to the Lord (I have tried some days to do this mom thing on my own recently and I end up being such a mess!)

I hope this encourages you to be in the presence of Christ today!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Asher colors

This is our sweet little boy saying his colors! Notice that when Sonny asks his about the green cup, he ends up making up his own color- "ya-ba"- a great alternative to "green." =)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Never Sleeping...

From the title of the post, you might think that I was going to start talking about how little sleep we are getting with a newborn but thankfully that is not the case (so far =) ). I was getting to spend a little time with the Lord this morning reading Psalm 121 and something in it really stuck out to me and encouraged me so I thought I would share. As you may know, having a newborn means that you do not get as much sleep as before. Granted- you might get a baby that sleeps well, but you will still have to wake up to feed them during the night or just to check on them to make sure they are breathing (trust me- if you do not have kids yet, you WILL do this). Well, in Psalm 121, the psalmist writes about how the Lord, who is our Protector, never sleeps. This was so comforting to me. I think that we often forget that the Lord is not like us- He does not need to sleep at night to refuel for the next day. He is always watching, protecting, providing for, and loving us. I sure hope that the Lord will remind me of this when I am up at 4:30 feeding my sweet little girl. Even when we think that we are the only ones awake or when we feel all alone, the Lord is near. He wants us to spend time with Him and enjoy our relationship with Him. I know this isn't that earth shattering of a revelation but it sure helped me this morning. I love that we have a God that is near to us who loves to spend time with us and interact with us. I hope to remember this more.

"My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will never slumber."
Psalm 121:2-3

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Needing help...

Alright, this picture is not exactly the picture that best represents what the Lord has been teaching me lately but it is so cute so I will try to make it work...

Since having Zoee, I have been trying so hard to still spend a good amount of time loving the Lord through reading His word and prayer. Sometimes He will just give me great times of prayer when I am rocking her and listening to music... it has been such a blessing because I know that I need time with Him if I am going to be a good wife and mom and daughter to the Lord.

I have been reading through the book of Acts lately and there is something that has really been popping out to me as I have read it. Just seeing how much the disciples strengthened and encouraged one another is amazing to me. Acts often says that the body of Christ met constantly together to hear the word taught, to sing praises, to help one another out, and even just to eat and have fellowship together. I really think this is something that the American church is lacking but one area where I feel so blessed by God in our community up here. I LOVE the fellowship that I have with the girls in our student ministry and the love that our congregation has for one another.

When a woman at our church has a new baby (or if anyone in the church has a major surgery) they are put on the meal list for about 2 weeks where their family receives home-cooked meals almost every day. This was such a blessing to our family. I just felt so shower with love from the body of Christ in this way. It was so neat to have my family provided for in a time where I really did not have the energy to make them a nice meal. I really feel like this is what the Lord meant by the body of Christ loving and serving one another. I am excited to be a part of the meals ministry when other ladies in our church start having their babies!!

Another way I feel so blessed is by the girls in our student ministry. I LOVE having them over every Sunday night. I had to miss a few weeks after Zoee was born and it was just so sad not to get to see them. We have been back on for the past two Sunday evenings and though it has been a little hectic with me having 2 kids in the house- it has been so wonderful to fellowship with these sisters of mine. I LOVE hearing how the girls are growing in the Lord. I am always encouraged and convicted by the things that the Lord is doing in their lives. I love that the girls get to come to our home and help me with the kids. They all love on Asher so much and are starting to do the same with Zoee. This is how the church should be- at least that's what I get from Acts. The people in Acts did not just go to church once a week and see each other for an hour- they did life together. That's what I feel like I have with the girls up here and I love it. I am so thankful to the Lord for our student ministry.

I am constantly amazed by the Lord as He continues to show our family and our church that the body of Christ is more than just a Sunday worship service.

So, how does this line up with this funny picture of Asher? As cute as he looks here, he eventually needed help getting out of the dryer- he could not do it alone!! I had to call Sonny to help him because when he was ready to get out (after lots of time playing in there), I was feeding little Zoee. The body of Christ needs to help one another- to strengthen each other when we are weak and be there for each other just as Sonny was there to help his little guy get out of the dryer!! I know that was a stretch but it was worth a shot... =)

Lessons from Zoee...

Wow!! Having 2 kids under the age of 2yrs old is CRAZY!! Life has been one big blur in the month of November. Sonny and I really wanted to make sure that we are documenting the lessons that we learn from our kids because they are just so precious to us and they teach us so much about our walk with the Lord

Last night before the cold medicine kicked in and knocked us out, Sonny felt like the Lord wanted to teach us something through our little, always-hungry newborn. Sonny told me that he saw a connection between Zoee and the newborn Christian. Just as Zoee has to constantly be eating to grow and become mature, so too should the new Christian (and all Christians for that matter) be feasting on God's word. It is also an interesting time of self sacrifice when you have a newborn. They really do not offer much- they just pretty much take. They require so much giving from their parents and they will really not start to "return" the love until a little later when they can start laughing and eventually saying those awesome words "i love you." This is how it seems to be with us and the Lord. When we first come to Him, all we really do is take. We are (or should be) soaking up His word and gaining nutrition from Him but we really do not start to give back to Him until we have become more mature (at least that is the goal). I can see this so much in my walk. Though in the beginning, though I was trying to give back to the Lord, there are so many things that I did as a new Christian that probably required so much of His patience and grace (just as Zoee at this season requires SO much patience and grace).

1 Peter 2:1-2 says, "Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord."

This is the goal- that we should be longing for the word like little Zoee longs for her milk so that we can grow and become mature in the Lord- able to love Him and please Him as children do their parents. She literally feasts about every two hours- what would our lives look like if we feasted on God's word (even for just 15 minutes) every 2 hours or so?

Alright- the babies should be waking up soon. I am SO surprised that I was able to sit down and write this without either of them waking up!!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Zoee's arrival

I was so hoping and praying that our little girl would be here before her due date. I was honestly feeling pretty yucky as my stomach was HUGE and it was hard to do most normal things.

Well, here is how her arrival story went. I woke up on Wednesday, November 3rd and thought that my water might have broken. I had been feeling contractions for a few weeks but they were getting much stronger but still not consistent. We spent the day just trying to get things done and get ready in case we were going to be heading to the hospital. I had heard from the midwives that I needed to just do as many normal things as possible and not focus on trying to hurry her up- so that's what we did. By late afternoon we were pretty sure things were moving along well so we decided to go ahead and take Asher to my parent's house.

We went to the hospital about 7pm on Wednesday and I was only about 3 cm dilated. So.... we started walking.... and walking... all around St. Luke's hospital- hoping to get things moving. We had heard that the second labor would be easier than the first but unfortunately that did not happen in our case. Asher's labor and Zoee's were both very long and hard for me. I went into "active labor" at about 9pm and at 6:30 the next morning, I was at 9cm and out of energy. We decided to go ahead and get the epidural. Just like with Asher's birth, once the epidural set in, Sonny and I took a nap (yes- that's how powerful the epidural is) and at 7:30 we were woken up by the midwife that delivered Asher, Titi. It was so refreshing to see her (the other midwife that had been with us for most of the labor had to go with another girl to get a c-section). Titi gently said, "okay, nap time is over- let's have a baby!" I only had to push for a few minutes and Zoee was here- at 7:53 am, weighing 9 lbs 15 oz!

Life with 2 kids has been quite an adjustment. Thankfully, we have had TONS of help. Our wonderful friends, Bertha and Kaitlyn Burke, came and spent the night with us to help us with the kids one night and both Sonny's mom and my mom have spent days helping us to adjust to life with the two of them. So far, Zoee has been pretty easy. Asher was a very tough baby- he had reflux really bad and spit up a ton! I prayed often for 4 things regarding Zoee- that she would be peaceful, joyful, a good sleeper, and healthy. So far, the Lord has been kind enough to answer all of those requests. She is a great sleeper but does not like it quiet. For her to sleep we have to have on the TV or music- it's funny!

Asher is doing well adjusting to life with her. He has gotten so much time with Sonny that I do not think he has really noticed Zoee much. He is LOVING his time with Daddy. It has been precious to see how much their relationship has grown since Zoee came.

Sonny and I are doing our best to get rest and still spend time with one another and time with the Lord. It takes a lot more effort to make sure that our down time is well spent but we certainly are learning a lot through all of this.

So far, the main thing that the Lord has been teaching me is to cling fast to Him. I have been reading the Psalms a lot, especially Psalm 119 and I see how much the Lord needs to be my shield, my protector, my everything. When I am weak (and strong) I must still love and seek Him with all of my heart. Saying that I am too busy or tired to seek Him is not okay. Even though life is somewhat chaotic, my pursuit of Christ is worth more than anything. I am so thankful that the Lord is near when we call on Him. =)

We are so thankful for all of the prayers from friends and family. Zoee truly is a joy and blessing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Moving past the sand...

Asher getting to build sandcastles with daddy and grandma...

Asher enjoying the beach to the fullest!!

Asher loving the waves and the water....

Sonny taking Asher from the trash-can sand to the beach...

Asher's first sand experience at the beach...

A few weekends ago our family got to go on a mini-vacation to Surfside beach with Sonny's parents for their 10th wedding anniversary. It was so beautiful (which is surprising for any beach in Texas) and we even learned another lesson about our relationship with the Lord and what He wants for us.

The beach house that we stayed at was right on the beach but you still had to walk a little to get to the water. We were so excited for Asher to see the beach for the first time and could not wait for his reaction. The funny thing was that right when we got to the start of the sand, which was a good distance away from the water, he did not want to leave. He was so enthralled with the sand that was right in front of him that it took him a little bit to trust Sonny as he wanted to take him to something better. We wanted to show him the whole ocean- with the waves and cool sand and seashells... we did not want him to just stay by the sand that was by the trash cans!! This was such a learning experience. How often are we like that with the Lord. He, as the perfect Father, wants to show us SO much- about Him, about what is really Good, and about what is really worth living for but often we are so stuck in the "sand by the trashcan" that we are not willing to follow Him to something better.

This experience really encouraged us to be more diligent to follow and trust the Lord and not be content with things that we think will satisfy. We need to really be seeking God and what He has for us and be willing to obey Him if He asks us to do something that is out of our comfort zone. It might be a little nerve racking or even frustrating to leave what we are currently being satisfied with to follow the Lord into unknown territory- but we have to know that it is worth it. Just like Israel when they left Egypt for the promised land. They had no actual idea of what the new land would be like.... they just knew that God was calling them to leave Egypt and trust Him for something better.

Asher ended up LOVING the waves and the sand that falls apart in your hand. He had a blast "building" sandcastles with his daddy and grandma. I was so glad that he got to experience that and I cannot even imagine how the Lord feels when we trust Him and He is able to let us experience wonderful things that only He can give.

The Lord told Moses as he was leading the new generation to the promised land:
Deuteronomy 2:2 "And the Lord spoke to me, saying: you have skirted this mountain long enough; turn northward (to take the people to the promised land)..."

The pictures above the post show our beach experience except they are in reverse order and I could not figure out how to change them...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

In the image of the Father...

I know that I have posted something similar to this earlier but Sonny and I feel like this was a huge lesson/encouragement to us and I wanted to share. A few weeks ago I took Asher to the doctor for a yucky cold. The nurse manager, who has been a wonderful friend of our family since I was in 3rd grade, said to me, "I am sorry Casi, but he looks just like his dad."

Of course she knew this would not make me the least bit sad since I think Sonny is super handsome, but when I told Sonny this story later in the day, He felt like the Lord really spoke to him. Sonny told me that it made him proud that Asher looked like him. You see, Sonny delights in his son and loves when people notice that Asher is his boy. Sonny realized that the Lord seems (in His word) to feel the same way about us. There are countless times in scripture, starting in Genesis, where God says that we are made in His image and also that He wants us to be conformed to the image of His Son. As a Father, it seems that the Lord takes joy in people noticing that we are like Him. He loves us and is proud of us- especially when people look at us and see Him.

This was such an encouragement to Sonny and I. I hope to make the Father smile by constantly growing in His image.

Genesis 1:27
"So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them."

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Moving dirt.... (and eating it)

Like I have said before, the Lord is continually teaching Sonny and I about Himself and us through our little boy. Today was not a life altering illustration but it sure was a nice reminder of why God calls us not to worry or be anxious....

Lately Asher has LOVED going for walks. There was one day last week where I think we went on 3 walks in one day. I am not complaining at all- I love them too! I love being outside, I love this nicer weather, and I LOVE that walking is supposed to bring on labor (though I still have a few more weeks of walking ahead of me before she comes).

We usually walk to a small park very close to our house then play for a few minutes before walking home. It is so fun to watch a 15 month old "play"- the things that intrigue him are so interesting to me. Well today Asher decided that he wanted to move dirt and wood chips from the playground area to the sidewalk that surround the playground. Not exaggerating- he spent about 15 minutes DILIGENTLY moving the dirt from one place to another. At first, this was not something that made me stop and think but then I felt like the Lord was trying to teach me something. Not that I want to ruin Asher's fun but from my perspective what he was doing would only last a short while before it would not matter how much diligence he had put into his task. I felt like God was trying to teach me His perspective on our lives. There really is no reason to get stressed or worried about things in this life. Like Ecclesiastes says, life is a vapor and it is all going to go away soon. I am not trying to be "Debbie Downer," I do believe that we are supposed to enjoy life- that is also what Solomon says in Ecclesiastes 5:18,

"Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one's labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward."

How crazy would it have been from my point of view for Asher to get upset and angry that the dirt was not staying in place or that it was not exactly how he wanted it. I know that by the end of the day all of the dirt he moved will most likely be gone anyways. But Asher enjoyed what he was doing- even though it was only temporary. I really want to learn from this. I do not want to waste time getting upset when things do not go my way- I want to enjoy the life that the Lord has given me knowing that it is only for a short time.

On the flip side, we also need to remember that what really matters is not if things in this life go well. What matters is that we have a growing relationship with Christ and that we live for His kingdom and not this world. All else is just "dirt" and will soon be gone. I think we need to have a healthy balance between enjoying the things here but remembering that eternity is what we are really living for.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Enduring hardship for the glory of God...

I am reading through the book of John right now, and I feel like the Lord is reminding me of a season that He took us through. When reading about the blind man (John 9) and Lazarus (John 11), I am reminded of the difficult season that Sonny and I went through before Asher was born.

Anyone who knew me growing up knows that I love kids and always have. Even when I went to my brother's baseball games from about ages 8-15, I would always find the person with the baby and try to offer help with the little one. All through highschool when people would ask me what I wanted to be when I "grew up" I would simply say, "a wife and a mom."

When Sonny and I got married, we were 19 years old and he said that we were going to wait to have kids. I knew that I was called to honor him and I also knew that I did not want to pressure him into having kids- so I was going to wait until the Lord told Sonny it was time to have kids. I was sure that it would only take a year or two for Sonny to hear from the Lord about this but such was not the case! We were married almost 5 years before Sonny felt like it was time. That was such a hard waiting period for me but such a great season of growth in Sonny and I's marriage and in my relationship with the Lord. I learned to continually be submitting my life to Christ and to wait for His timing.

When we finally did start trying to have a baby, we got pregnant right away. I had just assumed that it would not take us a long time and I was right. Then something happened. When I was about 5 weeks pregnant, I lost the baby. It was horrible. Even though I was "barely pregnant," I had already given so much of my heart to this little baby growing inside me. I was devastated and so was Sonny. I had just assumed that my 5 years of waiting on the Lord would be rewarded by an instant pregnancy that would be easy and perfect. I really did not understand what the Lord was doing. Then, less than 2 months later, I got pregnant again. Surely this would be the one. The first pregnancy was just a test, right?- to see if I was still trusting the Lord. Then, 5 weeks into that pregnancy, I lost our second baby. This again was so tough for Sonny and I. From January until July of 2008, I had 5 miscarriages- losing all of the babies at around 5 weeks. I was heartbroken....

This brings me to John 9 and 11. When the disciples ask Jesus in John 9:2 , "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?" Jesus answers something remarkable "It was neither that this man sinner, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him." The same kind of statement is made of Lazarus in chapter 11:4 "But when Jesus heard this (Lazarus' death), He said 'This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of Man might be glorified by it.'"

Looking back, I can say with confidence that this was what the Lord was doing with us. That season of loss and heartache was not without a purpose. The Lord used that time for His glory in so many ways. That season drew Sonny and I so much closer together and drew us closer to the Lord. There were times when I was so spiritually and emotionally weak and Sonny was such a representation of Christ to me. He spoke truth to me and comforted me with the love of Christ. He represented Ephesians 5:25-26 to me in such a tangible and wonderful way. I also learned that I had some idolatry in my life. I had idolized the thought of being a mom and the Lord had to show me that I could not love anything, even my children, more than Him.

Finally, in September of 2008, we got pregnant again, but this time the doctors had found out that I had low progesterone that was causing me to miscarry. I got on progesterone and we had Asher 9 months later.

Even now I can still see how the Lord used our hard time for His glory. I have had a few friends that have been through miscarriages and it has been such a blessing to be able to comfort them as I was comforted during my time of hurting. I have been so grateful to be able to use our hard time to try and strengthen the body of Christ.

Sonny reminds me often of the full implications of Romans 8:28
"And we know that God causes ALL things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purposes."

Even our seasons of sorrow can be used for God's glory.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Like Father, like Son

Asher LOVES to be outside- even when it is 107 outside, he LOVES it!! Almost every day we will spend at least 30 minutes or so playing in our driveway or garage and try to keep cool with ice and popsicles. When Sonny is available, he will come and hang out with Ash and I in the garage and I get to see over and over again how Asher is JUST like his daddy! I was sitting down in a nice comfy chair enjoying Crystal Light one evening when I just started to laugh to myself. While I was relaxing and being still (which neither my husband or son can do very well =) ), Sonny and Asher were both pacing around the yard finding different things to do. It was so precious! Sonny would walk around the yard checking on the trees and bushes and grass and Ash would follow him around, then go play in the dirt, then go back to following his dad and try to "help" Sonny trim the bushes. It was just such a sweet reminder of how we are created in the image of God. Everything that is good and lovely about us is a reflection of the Lord and His goodness. Just thought that might be an encouragement =)

Waiting on the Lord

I have been thinking about this for a while and feeling like I needed to write it but things have been so hectic with me being almost 30 wks pregnant and having a toddler that I am lucky if I can get in a shower and brush my teeth!! =)

I was reading through Exodus and chapter 32 really encouraged me about waiting for the Lord. When Moses went up to meet with God the people got impatient and would not wait for Moses to get back. They wanted answers NOW and something tangible to worship NOW (which is why they made the golden calf). I see that I am very often just like the Israelites- pregnancy is one of the biggest examples. I am just having the hardest time waiting to have Zoee here but I know that there are so many reasons that she is not here just yet. I am learning to just wait and try to soak in this time that I have left with just Sonny and Asher. I know that Zoee will bring so much joy to our family but the fact is that she will change the dynamic. Ash will not be an only child and Sonny and I will have to work even harder to make sure that we get to spend quality time together. I am just really trying to slow down and not be in a rush- to wait for the Lord's timing for Zoee's arrival and to wait for His timing in all other things.

I just want to say that my wonderful friend Lindsay (and her husband Landon) has encouraged me so much in her waiting on the Lord. I have learned from both of them about just taking time to listen for the Lord to lead and to even ask friends to be "waiting and listening" on your behalf. I really feel like they represent the opposite of Israel's response in Exodus 32. Instead of feeling mad or anxious that the Lord was/is not doing things exactly how they had planned and trying to figure out a way to get what they want anyways- they are being spending time in prayer as a couple and with friends about what the Lord might have for them. What a wonderful example for me and so many others.

Just wanting to encourage anyone who feels like God is taking a while to hang in there. He loves His children and really is doing what is best for us. Sometimes it might take a while for us to see why He does things the way He does but let's not get anxious and try to conjure something up on our own. Wait. Spend time in prayer and ask friends to be in prayer for you. Rest with the Lord and continue to seek Him.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

"And his mother's name was..."

A couple of months ago when Sonny and I decided that I would be a stay at home mom next year, I started questioning what my purpose for this next season was. In every season before this, I do not feel that I really questioned my purpose... when I became Sonny's wife, I knew that my purpose was to love and honor him.... when I managed the Richmond Coffee Station, I knew my purpose was to serve the customers with joy, honor my boss, and be a godly example to my employees. When I became a teacher at Rosehill, I knew my purpose was to exemplify Christ to my students and be a diligent, fair, trustworthy teacher and employee. I do not really know why I now have been questioning my purpose. Maybe it is because the person that takes up the bulk of my time during the day is a 14 month old who cannot really communicate. I do not really have a gauge to see how I am doing at discipling my son. I often wonder if I am doing all that the Lord is calling me to do to raise Asher to know and love Jesus.

As I was reading through 1 and 2 Kings, something really stuck out to me. Often, when giving the legacy of a King of Israel or Judah, the word would follow or preface his legacy with these words, "and his mother's name was..." When I first noticed this I did not think much of it but the more I read through these two books, the more the Lord started to stir that phrase within me. I always recognized that a son's father was listed when genealogies were being told, but I had never really noticed the moms being thrown in with them. Right after or right before telling if a king was godly or corrupt, the Lord makes mention of his mother's name.

"...Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign... his mother's name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done." (2 Kings 18:1-3)

I still do not know all of the details of what motherhood entails in the Lord's eyes but I think there is more to it than we think. I have felt the Lord telling me that during this season I am supposed to offer structure, love, and discipline to my son. I am learning that my job now is more of walking in the Spirit than anything (it has always been that, but now it seems much more pressing). I cannot really "teach" Asher the word like I teach the girls in the student ministry. I do read the word often to him but I feel that more than anything, I am called now to be living out the word of God. Ash needs to see that I am slow to anger and quick to listen. He needs to see that I try to rejoice always and pray without ceasing. In some ways, this season is much harder than any others I have been in before. It is much easier to put together a bible study lesson on purity than it is to walk daily in the joy of Christ, serving others first. I know that this season has been one of refinement and revelation of how selfish I can be, but it is refreshing to know that the Lord does take notice of our diligence in serving him. These mothers were listed in their sons legacies- I sure hope and pray that my son will see Christ daily in me and will have a legacy like king Hezekiah's.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Father and son...

I always knew that having children would refine us and teach us more about the Lord, but I am often amazed at the small lessons that the Lord teaches us through Asher...

Asher is a normal 14 month old and is constantly on the go. He rarely sits still. When he is awake, he is constantly running around the house or moving from toy to toy. Sonny was telling me today about how God was using this in his life. There are times when all that Sonny and I want to do is hold our little boy and tell him that we love him and are proud of him. How do you do that when your son is never sitting still? Asher is getting better at sitting every once in a while but whenever his daddy comes around- he gets into "play mode" and wants to play chase or cars or hide-and-seek. While those are great games, the heart of Sonny as his father is to sometimes just sit and hold Asher and let him know that he is loved by his dad.

How often are we like this with our Father? We get so busy with life that we never really just sit in the presence of the Lord and let Him love on us. Even if we are diligent in reading the Word, how often do we just read and run... never letting the Lord speak to us as we sit and meditate on His word? I know that I am super guilty of this. I often think to myself, "okay, I have 15 minutes until Asher should be waking up... I need to read the word and pray... and I need to hurry." Is that really what the Lord wants from us? I do not think that this is what He is wanting. He wants a relationship with us where we delight in Him and enjoy being His children just as Sonny is longing for the day when Ash will sit still and just be loved on by his father. I know that this day will come as Asher matures but for now we must try and get our little moments with him when we can.

I hope this encourages you today to sit in the presence of Jesus and just delight in him. Let's not hurry through the day but make sure that we are really enjoying our Lord.

"Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth! The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah."
~Psalm 46:10-11

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Clinging to the Lord

I have been reading through 1 and 2 Kings and it has been very encouraging and often convicting. It is also really neat for me when the Lord shows me a real life example of what He is talking about in His word...

I was reading about Hezekiah in 2 Kings 18 and it says about him "He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses (18:5-6)."

Sometimes I can wonder what it really looks like to "hold fast to the Lord" or "cling to Him" as some translations read. This week- God showed me through Asher what this kind of looks like. About a month ago, Sonny and I left Asher with my parents for a week to take our students to camp. While he did great with them, I do think that it made him a little more nervous about us leaving again- it was a little difficult to get everything back to the way things were before we left.

Last Thursday Sonny went to visit his dad in New Jersey and I went with Asher to stay with my parents for a few days in Richmond. During this visit I saw a very, very clinging baby. Some might say he is going through "separation anxiety" but I also think the Lord wanted to show me about Hezekiah. Asher never wanted to leave my side. He would be content playing in a room- as long as I was there where he could see me. Is this how we are supposed to be with the Lord? Shouldn't we always be in His presence, doing even mundane tasks while recognizing that He is with us? I think we should. I think the Lord was trying to show me that this is what He wants from me and this is what Hezekiah had. Hezekiah did everything while always making sure that the Lord was with Him. He "held fast" to the Lord, as a baby going through "separation anxiety" clings to their parent.

I love how the Lord gives us those pictures of what our faith should look like. I pray that I would learn from little Asher what it means to "hold fast" to Jesus and do everything in His presence.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Asher laughing in bathtub

So, I know I have recently been writing more about what the Lord has been teaching me but something very funny happened tonight and I had to share. After dinner, Sonny usually gives Asher a bath while I clean the kitchen. I usually hear a lot of splashing and giggling but tonight there was such sweet laughter coming from the bathroom that I had to get the flip (video camera). Here is what I saw.... Enjoy!

ps.... sorry the video is sideways part of the time.... I am still getting used to the flip....

Friday, July 16, 2010

The gift and responsibility of being a wife...

I have felt for a few days like I was supposed to write about what the Lord has been reminding me regarding wifehood, but I just kept putting it off. I think it is time for me to write about it before I forget! I really love when the Lord speaks loud and clear through His Word- even if it is just to remind me of something He has taught me often in the past.

I was reading through 1 Kings and came to the story about Jezebel in chapter 21. I had read this before but one verse really stuck out to me this time and caused me to really think about my job as a wife.

1 Kings 21:25, "But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up."

In that one little phrase there is so much depth. Wives have such a wonderful yet enormous responsibility. To think that Ahab's wife was partly responsible for the wickedness that he partook in is humbling. I see this in so many wives in our country. Wives are often prone to nag their husbands and often we can be a hindrance to them when we are discouraging to an idea that they propose. How many times have we wives given in to fear when our husband tells us about a big idea that he has (whether it is a business endeavor or ministry idea). Not that we should never voice our concerns but how many times have we WAITED to hear from God and in the meantime encouraged our husbands to do the same? For the most part it seems that we are quick to voice our fears and tell our husbands EVERY possible thing that can go wrong instead of really submitting the idea to the Lord in prayer. I feel like I can often be quick to worry or squash an idea of Sonny's when I know that it will not be comfortable or easy. I am learning that this is not God's call for me as a wife. I want to be Sonny's number one fan- his biggest supporter and that means that I am willing to take risks in life with him, trusting that he loves the Lord and is listening to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Even if he does want to do something and it "fails," those times can be from the Lord too! "Failures" are always opportunities for growth. I have always felt from the Lord that my call as Sonny's wife is to constantly be encouraging him in life but I guess this passage made me think of how much we wives really do influence our husbands- either for good or bad. I want to be a wife that constantly encourages my husband to follow hard after God and seek His gory above all else, regardless of the difficulties that might come from being a family that is willing to take risks for the Kingdom. It is my hope that when God looks at Sonny and I after this life is through, that He can say that Sonny was like David who had a heart after the Lord and that his wife was a continual encouragement to Sonny's obedience to the Lord.

There is one huge example that I think the Lord wants me to share and be so thankful for. The woman that has represented this godly, encouraging wife to me had a huge opportunity to discourage her husband and oh- how things would have been different for me and so many others. Let me explain... Krystal and Paul met and started walking with God in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Their courtship included daily walks on the beach and continual fellowship with a tight knit body of believers. Then, after they were married, Paul mentioned that he wanted to come to Houston to go to bible college at CBS (College of Biblical Studies). I am not sure exactly how this conversation went but can you imagine how hard it would have been to leave the beaches of Florida when you have s great Christian support system? And then to come to hot, humid Houston? If Krystal had been a hindrance to her husband as Jezebel was to hers, maybe Paul would not have come here with her and been our pastor in the small town of Richmond (I do realize in stating this that God is sovereign and was in control the whole time, but I do think this is a valid thing to think about)? Those of you that know Paul and Krystal know that they have given their lives to so many people in Houston- speaking truth and strengthening the body of Christ here. I know that Krystal trusts fully in the Lord and supports Paul in what God was leads them to, even though in the beginning that meant them leaving everything that was beautiful and familiar to them as a young married couple. I cannot say enough how thankful I am for them both being obedient to God's call and especially for Krystal- in being such a great example for me and so many other wives.

Proverbs 18:22 "He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the LORD."

It is sure an incredible blessing and responsibility to be given the call of being a wife! =)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Camp 2010

"Camp" can sometimes be a very dangerous word in the Christian environment. For some, "camp" represents a "spiritual high" where people professed their undying love to Jesus and come back to the real world with little changed about their lives. I hope that it is not this way with our students. We have always prayed and hoped that for any students that come with us, camp would be a time where they grow in honesty with God and fellow believers and where they learn that walking with God at camp is something that can be done on a daily basis at home.

For Sonny and I, "camp" is often a time of mixed worry and excitement; worry because of all the things that can potentially go wrong and excitement at the thought that the Lord could do something wonderful in the lives of students. This year the Lord again showed us how faithful He is to our prayers.

Usually we start praying diligently for camp a couple months before it happens (it is something that we pray for all year but we start praying daily for it the last few months). For the most part it seems like the Lord has me pray a specific scripture or theme from a book over the camp. This year there were two things that came to my mind almost every time I prayed for camp. I had been reading through Acts and was seeing how clearly the Spirit was leading the disciples. So many times, Peter and Paul would say that they were "led by the Spirit" or "prevented by the Spirit" from going to such-and-such a place. (Acts 11:12, 13:2, 13:4, 16:6-7, 16:10) , I started to pray for that with our camp. I prayed that every detail of camp would be led by the Spirit and that if we were doing something that the Lord did not want, that He would prevent us from moving forward. I prayed so much about how the small groups should be split up. Who should be in who's group? What counselor would really be best for each student? What should we talk about in the small groups. I cannot even begin to share all of the stories that encouraged me with God's faithfulness. I would hear story after story about how girls/guys felt so connected with their counselor. I would hear about connections between the students and their counselors that I was totally unaware of before camp- like how a certain counselor confessed struggling with something and found out that almost all of their students struggled with the same thing! The groups could not have been more perfect. Every night when we would have our counselor meeting, I would leave so refreshed in the Lord and thankful for His answer to our prayers. I truly feel that He led EVERY aspect of camp. Even the things that seemed to go wrong were just opportunities for Him to show His faithfulness.

Another thing that I had been praying was from 1 Kings 8:11. In this chapter, Solomon was praying that the Lord would fill the temple with His glory. Solomon recorded that at one point the temple was so full of God's glory that the priests could not even enter! This was my prayer for camp. I prayed that God's glory would be so overwhelming that no student could leave without having recognized His presence. I really do feel that this prayer was answered. The teaching that the Lord gave to Sonny and all of the counselors was such a demonstration of His glory. I was so encouraged by the worship, fellowship, and teaching of God's Word. I know that the Lord was with us, speaking to us in different ways through His Spirit and Word. It was not a "camp high" but a time where I felt that we all met with the Lord and were given the strength and wisdom to continue walking in His presence once we left and were back in the "real world."

I want to thank everyone for all of the prayers for us. We truly felt covered in prayer. Yes, it was hard for me to leave Asher for a week but we all survived and I am pretty confident that he does remember who we are =). Thank you again. I hope my recount of this trip blesses you and encourages you that the Lord desires so much to be near to His children. He wants us to constantly be praying to Him and watch as He answers those prayers! What a great God we serve!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

More about being a child of God...

Earlier today I wrote about how the Lord had been showing Sonny how intimate He is as a Father. I wanted to write how the Lord has shown me this lately before we leave for camp (we leave on Sat and will be gone until next Thursday) so here we go...

We have to head back in time a few months to get the whole story... in early March of this year I went to the doctor because I was having some weird pains in my arms and back. I am not normally one to go to the doctor often but I had been having these random pains for a while and they were not getting better. Well, there was really nothing that they could find regarding the pain (which has sense gone away) BUT they did tell me something very surprising- I was pregnant!! So much for "planning" our lives. I was excited and nervous all in the same minute...

Well, we are more than 1/2 way to the birth of our second child and it has been a long journey. I feel like I have been pregnant for 2 years not just 5 months!! The pregnancy is getting easier now but in the beginning it was pretty rough.

As some of you may know, when I was pregnant with Asher we had a couple of scares when we had the ultrasound done where we looked at all of his organs. It was VERY scary for me. They told me that he had 2 "soft markers" which meant that he had a higher risk than normal for being a baby with down syndrome. After all of the miscarriages that we had been through, it seemed like we were just prone to having things not go our way. We had decided not to do any further testing while I was pregnant and I really struggled with worrying A LOT as his birth came closer. When he did come out (48 hours into labor) he was a perfectly fine, BIG boy (9lbs 13oz). I was so relieved. This was one HUGE tangible way that God was showing me that He hears my prayers and that He loves me.

This past Tuesday we had the big ultrasound scheduled for this little baby. I was a tad worried that we would again see "soft markers" and that I would have to battle fear for the rest of this pregnancy. That morning in the car, Sonny and I prayed to the Lord about this (as we have many times). We prayed that the baby would be healthy and would have no "soft markers" and I silently prayed that it would be a girl (as I have been doing since I found out we were pregnant). The ultrasound went absolutely PERFECT. Our technician was SO sweet and encouraging. We were in the room for almost 40 minutes because our little baby was being "modest," according to the technician, and we could not see if it was a boy or girl. Finally, the tech told us that we were having a girl!! I was so thrilled!! Though another boy would have been wonderful, I was really hoping for a girl this time. The technician kept telling us that she is beautiful (which is hard for me to understand how a baby in the womb can be beautiful) and that she is perfect. She had no soft markers and all of her organs look great. This was such a blessing- I actually cried a little. The technician told us that she has long legs and big lips (I think she gets both of those from me). I cannot tell you how much I felt the Lord's love in that room. The whole day was one where we tried to commit every detail to the Lord and He was so faithful.

So, if there is anything that Sonny and I have learned lately- it is that the Lord does really love His children. He does want us to pray without ceasing- to pray to Him about EVERYTHING and trust Him with the results. Know that God desires intimacy with His children. He wants you to come to Him with your joys, sorrows, worries and insecurities. We have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I hope you will continue to do the same. =)

Children of God

So many things have happened since I last wrote. I was not sure a while back if the Lord was wanting me to spend time "blogging" but lately I have felt the urge to share with others the joys and struggles that we have gone through. I also wanted another way to connect with the girls in our student ministry as I know that this next season of life with two babies will pretty much require me to be at home more. Thinking way ahead, I also hope to one day print this into a book for my children in hopes that it will serve as an encouragement to them...

I will write Sonny's version of how the Lord has been speaking to him in and in little while I will write mine. It might seem really weird but every time we are about to go on a retreat or have a big event with our students in student ministry- Sonny and I usually struggle with feelings of inadequacy. We will feel like we are not good enough for this responsibility or that we do not have what it takes to minister effectively to these students. It's weird but it always happens right before something huge.

Well, in addition to feeling inadequate, Sonny has often struggled this year with not feeling God's love for him as a son. We both acknowledge that God loves all of His children in a broad sense, but Sonny was just really wanting to know that God specifically loves him and is proud of him as a son. He has often referred back to the gospels when the Father tells the whole crowd that Jesus is His Son and He is pleased with Him. Sonny and I have been praying often this year that God would show Sonny in a tangible way that God is proud of him as a son. I knew that God would eventually answer this prayer but I was not sure how. The "how" is actually amazing...

On Asher's birthday (June 14th) God told Sonny in two very special ways that He loved him and was proud of him. First, Sonny was meeting with some men that he meets with on a weekly basis and he was able to talk to his mentor/spiritual father about a wedding that Sonny had officiated the day before. I do not know all of the details but Sonny came away so encouraged as he felt God had told him through Paul that Sonny was loved and that God was proud of him. It was so special to see how encouraged he was.

Later that night, Sonny got a call from his dad in New Jersey. His dad was calling to wish Asher a happy birthday but he and Sonny ended up talking for almost two hours. When Sonny got off, he was just glowing. Again, I do not know the exact details of the conversation but Sonny again came away feeling that he was loved as a son and that he had a father that was proud of him. We were both so encouraged that evening and to know that God had it all happen on birthday of Sonny's son- I still cannot get over how special God made that day!

So, if you are ever struggling with feeling like you, specifically, are not loved by the Father- keep praying. I know that God does want to show each of His children in a special, tangible way that He loves us- just like He did to Jesus at His baptism. Know that if you have trusted in Christ as your Lord and Savior- He does love you so much, even if you do not feel it right now. For Sonny, it has taken almost a year for God to answer this prayer request so it might not be tomorrow that God answers that prayer for you. One more bit of encouragement: even though it has taken a while for Sonny to see his prayer answered, I feel that the answer was so much sweeter after waiting and praying for it for so long. Hang in there!