It’s FINALLY Here!

“Absolutely, under no circumstances, do we listen to Christmas music…or do anything Christmas related, until AFTER Thanksgiving.” my dad said.  This was the rule, no questions asked.  Christmas happens AFTER Thanksgiving.  I have been blessed to have married a man who shares the convictions of my dad, Christmas = After Thanksgiving.  For years I have accepted this belief.  I have practiced it holiday season after holiday season.  But, can I confess, waiting for the Christmas season has been incredibly challenging for me this year!

On more than one occasion I have wanted to light my Yankee Candle Christmas scent I bought while in the States in October.  I have scrolled through my i-tunes and found my favorite Christmas albums and thought, perhaps listening to just one little song would not be too bad…I have searched Pinterest and home decor ideas and longed to find some garland and throw it all over our mantle.  But, I have restrained.  I never thought Thanksgiving would happen!

We had a great day eating delicious homemade goodies with our friends here in Haiti.  After eating way too much we enjoyed playing cards and spending time together into the evening.  I’ve got leftovers that will make for a great dinner tonight.  However, the thing that excites me the most is that as I write at this very moment, Christmas music is playing and scent of our Christmas candles is filling our small home.  It’s here, the Christmas season!

Here are a few things I have been looking forward to about this season:

Candles

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I’m a candle snob, and I’m sorry.  I don’t like to  shop, I do not have specific “make up” or “hair products” that I must have,  I tell Trey he has got it quite easy by picking me (kidding!).  But, I do have a hang-up in the candle department.  I’ve tried my fair share of “off brand candles.”  You know those you think will be great and they only cost $10?  However, hours into burning, you still cannot smell the candle.  Or the “Christmas Cookie” aroma you were hoping to experience in your bargain candle becomes your grandfathers cologne.  Yup, Yankee Candle Co. is the one for me!

Movies

“Holiday Hoobie Whaty?!”  How the Grinch Stole Christmas (Jim Carrey edition) has to be one of my all time favorite movies!  It’s a Wonderful Life, Elf, The Santa Clause, Miracle on 34th Street, White Christmasthe list could go on and on.  Just typing these titles makes me want to put my p.j.’s on and declare today “National Christmas Movie Watching Day.”  Alas, we have all month, one movie at a time.

Books

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These are two I cannot wait to get my hands on!  My mom has given them to me on different occasions throughout the year, and it is finally time to crack ’em open.  First, The Women of Christmas, by Liz Curtis Higgs.  Second, The Greatest Gift, by Ann Voskamp.  I obviously cannot give my opinion of them yet, as I have not read them, but let’s just say I think they are both going to be great.  As much as I love all the “stuff” of Christmas, my heart longs to stay in the story of Christmas, and be blown away in the days leading to Christmas by the incredible gift of our Savior.  Check out a special book review from these two authors, click HERE.

Family Growth

In a little more than a week my mom and mother-in-love will arrive to do the Christmas season with us and prepare to welcome their first Grandson!  We are blessed to have family willing to switch things up a bit this Christmas season and join us in Haiti.  This is something we do not take for granted, and cannot wait for the gift of time we will have together.

Enjoy this Christmas season!  What a great gift it is to think about people all around the world celebrating the ultimate gift, Jesus Christ.  Large gaudy Christmas bows and all, it’s the most wonderful time of the year!

 

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No Pain, No Gain

Let me confess, last night was not my favorite night of pregnancy.  The night was filled with beautiful bodily discomforts  such as heartburn, achy bones, and an inability to find a comfortable position for more than five minutes.  Around 9 p.m. I decided in the quietness of my heart,  if Colby wanted to enter the world at that very moment I would have welcomed him with open arms!

After all, in the midst of feeling pretty miserable, how bad could it be to add the pain of child birth into the mix and get the show on the road?  Obviously, we did not have our little man last night, and I’m thinking this momma has to hold tight for a good week or two more.  In the midst of this waiting, the opportunity allows for yet another lesson from the growing gut!

As I was in the midst of the uncomfortable last night, the gut spoke again:  It is in the moments of pain and suffering we can rest assured change is happening!

My body is not achy and tired for no reason.  I am carrying our son!  And, according to our Dr., he is going to be a big one!  The back pain and swollen ligaments are not a source of punishment, but instead a very REAL reminder that the little life inside me is changing and closer and closer to his arrival.  Call me crazy, but as I moved from one uncomfortable position to the next last night, I thanked God for the pain I was experiencing.

No, it did not tickle, and I am glad to be feeling much better today, but in the midst of the tension, I was clearly aware that our baby is on his way, well sort of…

After a fairly restful night of sleep (Praise the Lord) I awoke and spent some time in my devotional this morning.  Todays topic was on the joys of being refined in the midst of our suffering.  Coincidence?  I think not.

While I drank my orange juice and prepared for the events of the day, I was challenged to think of a hardship or difficulty I had recently faced and answer the following questions (a pretty simple task after the night I had just experienced):

1.  How did you experience God’s comfort?

2.  What was God revealing that you needed to confront in your life?

3.  How did your response demonstrate your faith?

4.  What do you know about God now that you didn’t know before this hard time?

5.  What do you know about yourself now that you didn’t know before?

The above is an excerpt from, Fingerprints of God, by Jennifer Rothschild.

In the midst of answering these questions, openly and honestly, my heart delighted as I was reminded once again of the DAILY, moment by moment, faithfulness of our Lord.  While being stretched, and going through difficulties, if we open our eyes and look towards Him we WILL see Him working all things together for our good.

Hear me say this, I do not like pain.  Physical pain, emotional pain, spiritual pain, no thanks!  But, there comes a point where we must realize pain is a part of life.  Instead of praying to never experience pain, may our prayer be to respond well to our pain in order to be more like Christ.

Phillips Brooks (an American clergyman and author in the 1800’s) said, “O, do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men!  Do not pray for tasks to be equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks.  Then, the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle.”

A prayer to live uncomfortable lives?  Maybe this is the mom whose knees ache from the hours spent praying for their child who has gone astray.  Maybe this is the dad who holds tight to the Lord to provide for him and his family as he accepts the call to move them overseas.  Could it be the college student who releases one career choice for another as the Lord works in her heart to follow Him.  Or perhaps the young child who battles with cancer and wonders, why me?

My mind races when I think of the uncomfortable, and often painful living you may be experiencing today.  “Little things” or “Big things” our Father kneels down to His children and knows our hurts.  In the midst of your pain, shift your gaze to your Father, and thank Him for what he desires to accomplish in and through you.

Although our pain and difficulty does not seem pleasant, take heart that it is not without gain!

Hebrews 12:11-  “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.”

 

 

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Fly- Five Minute Friday

To move suddenly and quickly, start unexpectedly.

I took my first flight when I was 12 years old.

It was then, this small town girl from KY, a “romantic” as her mother calls her, had her eyes open for the first time to the world around her.  Images I had seen in pictures or watched in videos, were being experienced first hand.

Since my first flight experience, it is safe to say the Lord has continued to move me suddenly and quickly and expose me to the work He is doing around the world.

From a flying to different locations in the U.S.A. as well as Ecuador, Brazil, Vietnam, and Haiti…each flight has held excitement with an overwhelming reality that I can fly because the hands of the Lord have a hold on me.

Today, the flight continues, although not on a plane today, I am in a quick and sudden flight into motherhood.

It is in these moments, the quick starts, the feet off the ground, no controlling moments that my faith is put completely in the Lord.  He is the ONLY one who can lift us up and make the miracles happen around us on a daily basis.

I often hear people say they are afraid to fly.  Often, it is facing those fears and unknowns that the best and most wonderful opportunities unfold!

I will never forget Thanksgiving 2008, right before my first trip to Vietnam, as we sat around the table with my family sharing what we were thankful for…I said I was thankful for the gift of flight…because it allows us to see and be a part of God’s work among the nations.

Today, the gift of flight has lifted me from my ‘ol KY home and placed me in Haiti.  Praise the Lord he does not leave us where we started but is daily moving suddenly and quickly, as he delights to see his children fly.

I just discovered Lisa-Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday blog challenge.  Each Friday she gives 1 word, and the challenge is to write for 5 minutes about this one word.  No, pre-planning, and no editing allowed.  The purpose, not to allow our perfectionism to get in the way of our words.  The post I just wrote is not perfect or profound, but it’s real.  Confession, I had to set my microwave timer to keep me from cheating on the 5 minute rule.  If you blog or write, you can find out more about Five Minute Friday here!  The word today is FLY, get those keypads or pens to writing, you have 5 minutes.

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STOP

Several months ago I wrote a post entitled:  Lessons From a Growing Gut.  Can I just say, 37 weeks and counting, this gut is still growing and the lessons are still coming. I hope to share with you a few more of the lessons this big ‘ol belly of mine is teaching me in the days to come.  So, big bellied or not, here’s a lesson from my “gwo vant” (big belly).

*There is a STOPPING point for everyone and it is important to know where that point is.  I officially have about 2 hours in the morning with energy.  I can manage about 3 hours in the afternoon where I feel as if my brain is functioning properly and I am capable of getting out and about without searching for the nearest place to prop my feet.  This does not bode well when you consider we have 24 hours in a day!  The past several months have consisted of me having to listen to my body and willingly admit when I need to stop.  Can I just say, I did not realize what an issue this would be!

We are so defined by what we do, and how effectively we do it.  It can be a huge struggle to admit when things simply become too much and we need to stop.  During a night of blog cruising, I stumbled across a quote from Matt Walsh that has stuck with me as I struggle to admit my “stopping points.”  Walsh said,

We seem to value our time so little, that we find our worth based on how little of it we have. In other words, we’ve idolized “being busy,” and confused it with being “important.” You can be busy but unimportant, just as you can be important but not busy. I don’t know who is busiest, and I don’t care. It doesn’t matter. I think it’s safe to say that none of us are as busy as we think we are; and however busy we actually are, it’s more than we need to be.

My pride has been put to the test as my “busy” schedule has not held many details as of late, due to all my mandatory stopping points.  Of course we are to work hard and be good stewards of the time at hand; don’t hear me saying every time you want a break you should sit down on the couch and gorge yourself in chocolate.  BUT, it is critical for us to realize when enough is enough.  Did you know, your worth does not decrease at all when you take the time to stop?

Don’t simply take my word for it, Scripture has quite a few things to say on this topic as well:

Genesis 2:2-3 – Even the creator of the universe took the time to stop!  Now, he did not rest because he was tired, but because it was time to enjoy all that had been created.  The moments we take to stop are not only physically refreshing, but they are times of revival as our hearts and minds as we stop and look upon the goodness of the Lord.

Psalm 46:10- BE STILL, and know that He is God…Could the command to STOP be any clearer?  Don’t miss Him in your business dear one.

Luke 10:38-42 – What a busy day for Mary and Martha as they were hosting none other than Jesus Christ!  Yet, Mary knew the importance of STOPPING and chose to sit at the feet of her Savior.  There will always be tasks to complete, but may we fight to keep these tasks from causing us to miss the goodness of the moments.

Titus 3:4-6 “But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior.”

I am not defined by how long I can go without taking a break, my value is not in my work.  It is from the goodness and loving kindness of my Savior Jesus Christ.  If I do not accomplish a single “note worthy” task, I am covered by the blood of Christ and that is MORE THAN enough.

Are you seeing it?  It’s not only okay to stop, it is GOOD!!

Take some time to STOP today.  Thank the Lord for being your identity.  Ask Him to help you find your stopping point, and obey the sign!  Spend a few minutes searching through Scripture for more examples of those who took time to stop in the midst of their busy, I promise you will not be disappointed.

 

 

 

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Photo Shoot

I love photographs!  I can sit for hours scrolling through picture after picture, swapping stories of days past and looking forward to days to follow.  I can be pretty nosey and love hearing stories from others.  I think this is one reason I love photographs so much, there is ALWAYS a story behind every photo.

A new friend of mine, Lauren Young, also serving in Haiti, volunteered to snap a few shots of our “Family of 3.”  I am beyond excited to share these with you.  I’ll confess, these pictures were just taken yesterday and I’ve probably looked through them 20 times already.  Want to hear another confession?  Our daily life is no “photo shoot.” We have highs and lows, selfish responses, and flat out stinky attitudes at times.  Shocking, I know!

As I look through these pictures my mind escapes the little frustrations and set backs of each day and is able to focus on the “big picture.”  I have been blessed with a man who loves the Lord and desires to lead, provide, and protect me.  Together, we have been blessed with one another, and a son-t0-be, whom we will love and train and eagerly watch the plans of the Lord unfold for his life.  Here’s a few images from our photo shoot.

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boys

back to back

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gottcha

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All in all, I’m glad our life is not picture perfect.  But, I sure am thankful for the “photo shoot” moments along the way, which help me see how good it really is…

smiles.

 

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