Sunday, August 24, 2014

Moving Toward Acceptance

The Lord has been working an overhaul on my heart the past couple of weeks. As many of you saw, my last post was very raw. I shared with you the questions that had been tearing at my heart, the lies that had been clawing at my mind and the emotions that followed. A raging mess is what I called it. I then proceeded to share with you how I felt like the Lord was beginning to bring me to a place of desiring rest and quiet in His presence.

I'm still moving in this process, but the Lord is slowly bringing me to a place of acceptance. I am finally realizing that the fighting and the flailing and the asking questions and the demanding answers and the anger and the frustration are all so exhausting. Wouldn't it be much better to simply surrender? I think I finally want to throw my hands up and just say, "I'm done." I'm done fighting and flailing. I'm done demanding answers. I'm done clawing at the dirt. I want to wash my hands, remove all the dirt from under my fingernails, and just lay down at His feet. I just want to rest.

I can't say it any better than Phillip Keller in his book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23:

   Again and again I remind myself, "O God, this seems terribly tough, but I know for a fact that in the end it will prove to be the easiest and gentlest way to get me onto higher ground." Then when I thank him for the difficult things, the dark days, I discover that He is there with me in my distress. At that point my panic, my fear, my misgivings give way to calm and quiet confidence in His care. Somehow, in a serene quiet way I am assured all will turn out for my best because He is with me in the valley and things are under His control.
   To come to this conviction in the Christian life is to have entered into an attitude of quiet acceptance of every adversity. It is to have moved onto higher ground with God. Knowing Him in this new and intimate manner makes life much more bearable than before.

A quiet acceptance of every adversity. This is one of the biggest things I have had to learn the past couple of weeks. I've found that I have had pretty high (aka normal) expectations of what I thought life should look like.

I thought my mom and Tony would grow old together.
I thought my mom would be with me when I give birth to our first baby.
I thought my mom would be around to help me raise our baby.
I thought my mom and I would always be able to get pedicures together.
I thought my mom and I would always be able to share lunch together.
I thought my mom would be here. Period.
I guess I thought.... things would be easy.

Yes, those are only expectations that included my mom. My mom was a BIG part of my world. Without my mom here, life looks NOTHING like I ever imagined it to be. So with that being said, I've decided it really isn't worth it to get my panties in a wad when other things don't turn out the way I want.

I want to simply accept my lot in life and trust that God has it under His control.

My brain is so tired from writing this post. I have written and erased so many sentences and paragraphs trying to voice where exactly the Lord is leading me and what He is teaching me. I can't think anymore at the moment, so I'm going to wrap it up with a happy picture of my growing bump...

We find out in 6 days if Baby Street is a boy or girl! Be on the lookout for that exciting announcement!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Raging Mess to Quieted Rest

I have been such a mess the past few weeks.

Life just looks so different from what I ever imagined it to be, and I've had a very hard time coping with what life is going to look like from now on.

I've heard that pregnant women are very emotional... Well, I'm pregnant and still dealing with losing my mom to cancer 7 months ago among many other up-in-the-air major life changes that are currently happening. Needless to say, I've been one emotional, irritable, angry, ugly mess lately.

I started a 40-day challenge to read through the New Testament, but as I was reading through Matthew and Mark, I found myself getting more angry with God and demanding more answers from Him. I was angry every time I read of Jesus healing someone and saying things like, "Let it be done for you as you have believed." Why didn't He heal my mom? Why didn't He do for us as we had believed? As thousands had believed and cried out on her behalf. Why have I seen cancer run rampant in so many lives over the past year and a half? Why hasn't He been healing these people? Do our prayers mean anything?

During this time, Satan began to speak so many lies into my mind. Two of which consisted of wondering how God could still love me and how my husband could love me through a time like this. As I looked at myself and examined my heart, all I could see was ugliness. I recognize that even on a "good day" there is no good in me. Any good that is in me is simply Jesus. But over the past few weeks I haven't been able to see any Jesus in me, and Satan took that opportunity to run wild in my mind.

I wanted answers. I still want answers. But answers won't bring my mom back.

After a few very honest conversations with my husband, my dad, and a couple at our church, I feel like the Lord slowly began to soften my heart. I was reminded to allow myself FREEDOM. I had been beating myself up for not fitting a certain mold and for not living with joy and peace. There's a part of me that feels like 7 months has been such a long time and that I should be "okay" by now. That I should have come to terms with my mom being gone by now. That I should be overflowing with joy by now. That I should be ready to teach and pour myself out in ministry by now.

But I'm not.

A big part of my problem has been that because of my anger, I have forsaken the One who alone can give me joy and peace. The One who can bring me to a place of contentment and acceptance. The One who can fill me up to overflowing to be able to invest in and minister to others.

So I have began opening my Bible again, finally allowing Truth the opportunity to seep into my mind. I have also started reading a book that Tim and Jenny gave me a while back. Let me pause here and say that Tim and Jenny have been a gift from God in my life. Jenny has been through a very similar situation, losing both of her parents at a young age, and she has been such an encouragement and Truth-speaker in my life. They are both such a blessing to me and my husband. Tim and Jenny, we love you!

So this book they gave to me is called "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23"

 I'm only three chapters in and am completely hooked. I have been reminded of God's deep love for me and to what extensive measures He goes to take the utmost care of me. As I look back over the past few weeks, I feel as though my soul has been screaming and flailing, demanding answers and asking why?! But now I feel as though the questions that have been raging in my mind are being quieted, not answered, but quieted. I have a desire for my soul to simply rest in His presence and trust that He knows best.

The description on the back of the book says, "As a shepherd, Phillip Keller shares his insights into the life and character of sheep - and of the Good Shepherd who loves and cares for them. This beloved classic will give new meaning to the ageless Shepherd Psalm, enriching your trust in and love for the Lord who watches closely over you."

So over the past few weeks, I feel like the Lord has slowly been taking me from a raging mess to a quieted rest. I'm not completely to the other side yet, but He is teaching me and speaking to my soul and reminding me how much He really does love me and care for me.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Friday, August 1, 2014

Where in the World I've Been!

It's crazy how time flies when you are so busy. I can't believe my last post was almost a month ago.

After camp we had about a week to recover before we flew out with 35 students to Ecuador for our first international mission trip with the youth group. It was a really great trip for our students! We worked with an orphanage called the Happiness Foundation and led a soccer camp and two Vacation Bible Schools at some nearby church plants. Everything went very smoothly, and the Lord blessed us with health and safety the entire week.

However, it was a really hard week for me physically. I was 13 weeks pregnant while we were there, and my body was exhausted. The week started with being awake at 3:00am to make it to the airport, waiting in the Atlanta airport for hours and hours, sitting on 2 planes for about 7 hours total, and finally getting to bed at about 2:00am. Almost a 24-hour day, and I had a nasty sinus infection brewing. By the end of day 1 (which was just getting to Ecuador), my body was totally zapped, and then it was near impossible to fully recover at an altitude of 14,000 feet. Despite all of that, it really was a great week, but I was very happy to finally be back home 8 days later.

Here are a few pictures from the trip:

So happy to be off airplanes and out of the airport!
Finally in Ecuador!

The kids at the orphanage really LOVED David!
A couple little girls painted his face. I love this
husband of mine.

Our VBS team and our translators with a few of the kiddos.

Some of our students hard at work on one of the houses
at the orphanage.

Stephanie, me, Hutch, Dawn and Chelsea at the top
of a really really tall mountain overlooking Quito.

The Basilica and my husband's goofy arm :)

Zip lining with this fun group!

I was 1 out of 4 in our group to balance an egg on the
equator. I was pretty pumped!

Two days after we got back from Ecuador, I celebrated my 26th birthday! It was a very relaxed day, and it started with a doctor's appointment where we got to hear our sweet baby's heartbeat for the second time! The heartbeat was at 160, which is on the high end. Some think this is a sign that Baby Street is going to be a girl! We'll see!

Waiting for the doctor to come in!

After our appointment we went downtown to a really yummy crepe stand, hit a couple flea markets, and headed home for a much-needed nap. Then we met up with my family for dinner at Olive Garden and headed to Bryan and Jenna's house for cake and presents.

Jenna bought Baby Street her/his first clothes, and I
was so so excited about it!

Can't wait to put our little one in these cute outfits!
Thanks Aunt Jenna and Uncle Bryan!

Hudson helping me blow out the candles

This past Sunday night we had an event with our 9th-12th grade called Senior High YOUNITE. We all went to the youth pastor's house for a good 'ole country evening. The girls brought picnic dinners that the guys bid on, and they ate dinner with the girl who brought that basket. We had a sno cone truck, line dancing, all sorts of games and competitions and finished off by watching a movie on the lawn.

Line dancing, bobbing for apples, egg toss, and
pie eating contest. Such a fun night!

My sister-in-law has been telling me about a "cabbage test" you can do to try and figure out the gender of your baby. Her mom knows 5 people who have done it, and it has been accurate for all 5 of them. So David and I decided to give it go. The test I looked up online said that you boil cabbage for 10 minutes, and then mix one part cabbage water to one part urine. If the water turns red or pink, that means it is a boy. If it turns purple, it's a girl...

Well, David and I thought the water looked purple. I sent this picture to Bryan and Jenna, and they said it looks pink. Which the picture does look different than it looked in real life. But honestly, it's just really hard to tell what color translucent water is, especially when pink and purple are pretty darn close. So after the test, we were just as in the dark as before we took it. So I guess we will wait and find out when we have our next ultrasound on August 28th! Just 4 weeks away!

I'll end with a picture I took last week to show my little baby bump that is finally growing!

It's little, but it's there!

I'm 16 weeks today, but David isn't here to take a picture of me, so I'll post that one later.

So THAT is what I've been up to this past month! Hopefully now that our summer schedule is over I can have some more time to sit down and blog. I've missed it!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Short Update

I know I said I was going to try and do better about updating, but this summer has been SO crazy! Really I'm just posting to say that I will be giving a full update hopefully this weekend!

All is well with the pregnancy. I'm 15 weeks along and have a tiny bump showing! I'll post a pic soon.

Summer is about to wind down, and I'll be shooting for at least one post a week. Hang in with me during this crazy busy time!

Friday, July 4, 2014

12 Weeks and a Blessing

Can I just say I am so glad that my pregnancy is no longer a secret?! It is so nice to be able to openly talk about it with whomever I please!

I will share soon about how we revealed our secret to the students at camp. It was so fun!

So today I am officially 12 weeks, and baby is the size of a plum! Woohoo!

We had our first appointment about a week ago, and got to hear our sweet baby's heartbeat, and we even got a free ultrasound! It was such a blessing!

Baby Street at 10 1/2 weeks
Sucking his/her thumb!

We took our students to camp this past week, and I am so thankful I felt great all week! The food was, um, edible... And it was a little humorous to see how many different meats they could put on a bun and make a meal out of it. But other than the food, I feel like the Lord gave me lots of grace and energy to do what I needed to do.

This was our first camp without my mom. Her absence was so evident to me, and the hole in my heart was massive. I missed being able to hold her hand and hug her while singing praises to our Savior - that is one of my favorite pastimes with my momma.

The Lord also blessed me in a mighty way this week through her absence. First you need to understand that when my Mom was around, I clung to her side and followed her around like a little baby duckling. I let her take the lead in everything. I literally hid in her shadow, and I loved it. But now I can't do that anymore. And as much as I miss being able to that, and as much as I obviously miss her with every ounce of my being, I am also so thankful for this new blessing I have discovered...

It is the blessing of being so deeply and tangibly loved by my Father in heaven through His people here on earth. There was one day in particular while at camp when I saw this most evidently. Some of the adult leaders had gathered in the worship center during free time to pray over the room and the chairs that would soon be filled by students. As I began to try and pray, my heart was overwhelmed with brokenness. You see, I still struggle with so many different emotions - ranging from anger and frustration about my mom being gone, all the way to joy, thankfulness and excitement about this new life growing inside of me - too many emotions for this hormonal pregnant girl to handle. I talked to husband for a little bit and he prayed over me. And then I approached Jenny, a long-time family friend and a woman I look up to and admire. She also lost her mom around the same age as me. As I walked toward her, I couldn't hold back my tears. I just walked up and asked her to please pray for me. She wrapped her arms around me and prayed and we hugged and cried together. As the other adults finished praying around the room, they came over to us and I cried some more and hugged them.

It was such a sweet moment of release for me. To allow these women to see my brokenness and to experience their love toward me. It's a fellowship and a bond that wouldn't be formed under any other circumstance. I love these ladies so much - Jenny, Kristy, Dawn and Robyn - thank you for loving Jesus the way that you do, and thank you for loving me and supporting me and walking with me through such a difficult time. I am thankful for your friendship and for the bond that grew deeper at camp this week.

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

9-Week Update

Sunday, June 15th

As of this past Friday, I am nine weeks pregnant! Baby is the size of a green olive right now. Woohoo!

In my "broken cisterns" post, I spoke of a wide range of emotions that I have been sorting through and trying to figure out how to handle. I wish I could have told you specifically just exactly what all I was talking about, but the secret wasn't out yet! So jump back to that post if you need a refresh. Then you will understand even more so all my crazy emotions ranging from anger and frustration to pure joy and excitement. It's a lot for this pregnant girl to handle!

Up to this point, I guess my symptoms have been pretty manageable. I feel very tired and exhausted all the time. I mean hello! My body is in the process of creating another human right now. Holy cow. I also fight nausea pretty much all the time. Thankfully no yacking so far (sorry, I don't really know a polite word for "throwing up"....yacking may not have been the best choice). To stay on top of my nausea I basically just have to be eating all the time. Which isn't a bad thing... unless nothing sounds good!

So this is kind of funny. Apparently I'm not very good at keeping my pregnancy a secret. Somehow I've been giving myself away to some of our very curious, very observant teenage girls in our youth ministry (yes, girls, you know exactly who you are if you are reading this)! A week ago, 2 of them approached me separately and told me, "You just look like you're glowing!" And then one proceeded to rub my belly and just blatantly ask me, "Is there a baby in there?" I don't even remember how I responded to her, but in my mind I was wondering how in the world they knew and/or who told them?! I tried to play it off by asking them if I was starting to look a little chubby.... I'm not really sure if it worked.

We will be revealing our big secret to all the students at camp, which means I only have to hold off for about 2 more weeks! I'm ready to get our secret out in the open!

That's pretty much all for now! We love this little growing life so much already!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."

Monday, June 30, 2014

Telling My Family the News

Here is a video from when we told my family our exciting news!


We drove to Bryan and Jenna's house immediately after finding out, and thankfully Tony just happened to be there too!

That's all for today!

"This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it."