Gender Reveal!

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1/23/20-21 weeks!

I was so excited the night before the big reveal that I could hardly sleep! Tomorrow I’d finally know a bit more about our baby.

It was a long wait in the waiting room with my parents, husband, and grandma…I was more than happy for them to share this moment since ultrasounds have changed so much over the years. My mom and grandma never had the opportunity to see their little baby in the womb or to know the gender.

We all crowded into the little dark room and I craned my neck to see what I’d been growing so impatient to see over the month.

My baby, no longer a still little peanut, but a moving and almost fully developed person! We “oohed” and “awed” until finally, the lady pointed and my mom was the first to say, “it’s a boy!”

I’m pleased to announce that I’m having a boy, June 2nd ❤😊

I couldn’t be happier, especially with so many baby girls being born right now in my circle of family and friends. I’m going to have a son!!

Right after my appointment, my mom and I went to our local pregnancy center where Aaron and I have been regularly taking classes and we picked out our son’s first outfits! (our town is blessed to have this center and others like it which are stock full of baby clothes and supplies for expectant mothers!)

We then prepared for our big gender reveal! Getting balloons and wrapping them in a box to take to our church that evening.

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Finally, as evening came and Aaron was with our pastor and his family at the church (for band practice), mom and I lugged the very light airy box, thanks to the balloons, into the sanctuary and prepared to record the big moment.

Though I obviously shoved way too many balloons into the box, it was a joyous occasion! And when asked, “what’s his name going to be?” Aaron immediately said, “James” to anyone who asked.

I’m still open to ideas as far as names go but at the end of the day, no matter what we name him, he has a name already in heaven that we know nothing about and that will fit him more perfectly than our earthly names. A good pick-me-up to those who don’t like their parent given name I’m sure!

Thank you all for reading/watching our big moment! And welcoming young James into our family ❤ your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated and felt! He is a healthy baby and though I’m battling a rather nasty sinus infection right now, he is safe and sound and kicking me in the bladder as I type this actually…

Love and God bless you all!!!

 

 

Hide-and-Seek

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“Then the man and his wife heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the breeze of the day, and they hid from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” 

-Genesis 3:8

Though it was fun to play Hide-and-Seek as a child, there was always a certain level of anxiety at being found. The whole point of the game is to avoid detection and there was nothing greater than finding that special hideout that no one could find. A few times I found such a place and waited till the voices calling for me died away and a somber, “we give up!” reached my ears.

Amidst all my hiding though, God never lost sight of me. Be it game or reality we cannot hide from God. Not just bodily, but our innermost thoughts as well.

The scene above with Adam and Eve hiding in guilt and God searching for them reminds me of a parent gently calling out to a child who had lied or done something wrong and hid in fear of punishment.

Oddly enough even animals seem to display a certain level of guilt at times (whether they learned it from us or have fallen natures of their own). My dog Kota knows when she’s done something wrong and will attempt to quietly conceal herself somewhere until I coax her out. It’s quite hard to be mad at either animal or child that reacts in such a way because it demonstrates a consciousness of their actions even if the underlying emotion at play is selfish.

I would be more concerned if a child flaunted their bad behavior and laughed at punishment than one who genuinely desired to take back what they did. Perhaps there’s still hope for such a child, and for all mankind so long as we feel a conviction to do what is right even amidst our own selfishness.

God’s call to Adam, “where are you?” may seem rather pointless, since He knew exactly where they were and what they had done. And yet, there is always more than just the physical going on when it comes to God. He felt them pull away from Him spiritually, felt them fall from His presence the moment they ate of the tree. And so, “where are you?” becomes all the more painful to hear.

Adam and Eve do not attempt to keep hidden but reveal themselves and already their guilt shows in how they respond to their Father. “I heard Your voice in the garden…and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself” (3:10). When before, man walked with God at ease, now he is ashamed of his nakedness, truly afraid or “aware” of the great divide between them…aware of the flesh and its wants and wills, as C.S. Lewis explains in Mere Christianity:

“(The Natural Life) wants to be left to itself: to keep well away from anything better or stronger or higher than it, anything that might make it feel small. It is afraid of the light and air of the spiritual world, just as people who have been brought up to be dirty are afraid of a bath. And in a sense, it is quite right. It knows that if the spiritual life gets hold of it, all its self-centeredness and self-will are going to be killed and it is ready to fight tooth and nail to avoid that” (pgs. 178-179).

The knowledge of the flesh and its sinful desires came alive that day and selfishly cowered and hid before God and His perfect light, where no darkness can remain hidden. Man recognized his own dirtiness and felt stripped bare before God’s perfection.

And Adam continues to act selfishly amidst God, longing to protect himself, he blames the woman and my guess is in that moment, as Eve looked in shock at what Adam, her husband, had said, a thorn was driven into their marriage and all marriages to come…a very real threat of betrayal and division between man and women who were made to be one and united. A reflection of Christ and His bride (the church).

Eve then places the blame on the serpent, who although is guilty of deception, never once forced her hand to take the fruit or to place it to her lips.

And thus begins the war, when before Adam and Eve were going to reign in power against the evil of the world, now they face the devil and his demons on a more even footing. Having handed over their authority to him, they are cast out of the protection of the garden (God’s presence) and thrown into the merciless world to toil, grovel, fight, or freely succumb to the darkness they chose to embrace.

It is a sad situation but thankfully, it is not the end of the story. The old Testament is what it was like to live in a world where satan had the authority, man was separated and afraid of God, and men ruled unjustly over women. Without the Holy Spirit, man faced his sins alone and very wholly succumbed to them, once to such an extent that God flooded the world in order to purge it and give Noah and his family a clean slate.

We landed ourselves in a filthy mess, and then Jesus came.

Authority is ours again, the curse is no longer applicable to us, and man can walk with God again, in fact, God resides in man’s very heart.

Do we still play this Hide-and-Seek game?

I believe the world does, they even lie to themselves in order to cover up the feeling of guilt that is so painful. If only they would realize that it is much easier to step out into the light and be washed clean, to surrender. Guilt is a tool that should lead us to repentance and freedom. And just as we cannot hide from God, we cannot hide from guilt. Eventually, it will find us and consume us, and the demons will whisper their lies into our weakened hearts, making us feel condemnation in the place of healthy conviction.

Nothing good can come from hiding. Particularly hiding from the light. Satan resides where people hide and just when they think they are safe and alone he pounces.

That is why it tears me up to see people caught up in the religious spirit of the Old Testament and those who up and leave their church body and think that alone they will do better to follow God.

These are traps of the enemy to cut you off from the source of life. The religious spirit chokes a man until he feels so tired and dirty he can’t step foot in a church. And to those who leave the church, whether it is due to the religious spirit or some other issue, their resentment and belief that they don’t need a spiritual family will give way to pride and leave them open to deception and attack. Very soon, such people come to spiritual ruin and doubt in all they once believed.

We were made to do this together, to work as a team in conquering this dark world for Christ. He is coming back someday and is awaiting a united church, one bride. A body only thrives when every part is working together in harmony. A body that is riddled with disease won’t take much of a stand against the world and its disease. (In other words, it takes a healthy doctor to heal a sick patient).

It’s time we stop hiding and start doing. We need to know what it’s like to be uncomfortable again, to do things we’ve never done before because we know God will catch us when we fall. Lives are at stake and time is running out. If the church has hurt you, I get it. Honestly, someday I will share my spiritual story and you will see that there were many times I could’ve rightfully (in the world’s eyes), left or abandoned church. But praise be to God that I follow Jesus, not man or “a” man. That I’m not looking for a perfect church that follows Christ, but that I’m looking to a perfect Christ who is bringing us all on a journey toward becoming more like Him.

I will say this, the body of Christ is under constant attack, not just as a whole but personally as well. Therefore, though it saddens me to see Christians hurting other Christians, I’m not surprised by it. Satan is out to get us, and he knows that division is the way to do it. One couple at a time, one pastor at a time, one person at a time. Therefore it is all the more important that we remain united, that we learn how to communicate and repent to one another without condemnation or anger, but in love. If we remain a united front, the enemy will be hard-pressed to find an opening for attack.

Be an example at your church, give younger Christians someone to look up to and mirror in action/deed. Just chase after God with all you have and pray that others join in. Pray over your church and it’s elders who are attacked most of all. Serve in areas that will benefit the body, Don’t hold out on serving till you know where you are specifically called, serve while you’re discovering that call. Even pastors have to pick up a mop, and worship leaders have to preach/minister. Just be willing to do whatever God calls you to in the moment. Promotion happens to those who “do”, not to those who sit and wait.

I pray that God will continue to do a work within all of us. No one has reached the peak, we are all still climbing and It’s our duty to lend a helping hand to our fellow climbers. Thank you for reading this rather long-winded post, and God bless you all!

 

 

 

20 weeks!

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As of yesterday, I am now 20 weeks into my pregnancy (this picture is not exactly recent). I took this right before I even knew I was pregnant, a strange thing to look back on now, since it really wasn’t that long ago that my body was slim and entirely “my own.”

Another interesting thing to note was that I decided I wanted a shorter haircut around the time I became pregnant and I remember clearly that I wanted a more “motherly,” and older look. Why? People never believe that I’m 25 or that I’ve been married for over 5 years now, and in my heart, I knew that motherhood was the next big adventure awaiting me.

So at 20 weeks, I must say that I have changed as much as my body has. Perhaps it’s because, with each passing day, it all becomes more “real.” Only 20 weeks left and I will officially be holding a child in my arms, and not just in my heart.

Pregnancy so far has been interesting, and not overly challenging. I’ve had morning sickness pretty frequently during the first trimester, but only vomited a few times in all. My symptoms and doctor visits have all gone according to the book. No problems, healthy baby, normal bodily changes, and nothing to hint at an abnormal delivery.

I am thankful to God for this. And amazed at my own body’s abilities to cope with such changes, child-bearing is a natural bodily process after all. I find comfort in this when I encounter new symptoms or when my body continues to stretch and morph into someone I don’t quite recognize. It’s all worth it. And I knew what I signed up for when I wanted to be a mother even though personally I never experienced this. That is the joy of being surrounded by mothers is that they will gladly tell you all the things that pregnancy and labor entails…though I’ve discovered that those who had hard pregnancies and labors are the most vocal of the bunch.

The way I see it…God is with me and has the baby and my best interests at heart. All sin, including the fall of man, is covered in Christ’s sacrifice. To me that means the curse of painful child-bearing doesn’t have to be accepted today, it was a punishment for a sin that Christ died for.

I know, it may sound like a laughable dream of mine, but don’t all miracles sound laughable at first? I just see no reason in not trying to walk in the gifts Christ paid for today, we’ve got nothing to lose in trying and believing. It may, in fact, be necessary if we are to eventually activate these gifts…might as well test our faith now right?

Whether God gives me painless quick labor or not, I am still thankful to Him for this new life within me and I still choose to view that day as a celebration and a gift from a Good Father. Children are blessings. Amen?

Next Thursday is the big day that I find out the gender. I can’t wait to finally know! Perhaps once I know, a name will also present itself…hopefully I can discover the name that best fits our child and their amazing destiny in Christ.

Thank you all who have prayed and followed my pregnancy so far! And may God bless all you parents out there who have labored in love, I look up to you and honor you.

 

 

Questions

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“If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”

-Thomas Pynchon

Professors hardly like being asked that which does not pertain to the subject matter. Never had I the opportunity to ask questions of deep meaning, something to stir the heart and not only the mind.

In Greek Mythology, thankfully, no one questioned whether any of the phantasmal stories were true, and equally unbelieving was the professor who taught it. And so our questions where aimed at merely getting the fantasy details straight, not intending to really understand them or to discuss their believability.

Unfortunately, not every class or professor is so relaxed about their subject matter. In geography, my professor, a scientist who actively studied glaciers and their movements, was unquestionably biased in his views of global warming. His world revolved around the large bodies of ice which melted at alarming rates in some areas and grew in others. To him, this was where the discussion both began and ended. Global warming was real and there was nothing else to it.

He was equally immovable in his stance on evolution, a field he had no authority to teach, it wasn’t his area of study. Presented first as a theory I wrote down the details as such, but once the test came around, the word “theory” had been removed. And the question before read clearly, “how was the world created?”

I don’t believe I received full marks on that particular test.

The point I’m making here is that the pupil was always either constrained or released to ask questions based on the open-mindedness of the teacher. And those questions reflected their level of freedom. In a class like the one above, one could hardly discuss the scientific proof against global warming, and so no such questions were raised. The teacher had the upper hand, and he decided what questions would be asked and answered.

Hence the quote above by American Novelist, Thomas Pynchon, ” if they (professors, teachers, politicians, scientists, and religious hierarchs) can get you asking the wrong questions, they don’t have to worry about answers.”  

Are we asking the wrong questions? Are we looking deep enough for the truth? When our hand shoots up in the air, does our heart go with it?

God pointed something out to me Sunday during the sermon. The word “question” was blown up big on the screen and I suddenly realized that the word “quest” is inside it. Ridiculous I know, that I should see such an obvious thing now of all times and yet it spoke to me. When we ask a question we are on a quest for truth.

A quest is defined as a “long or arduous search for something.” Or to put it more simply, “to seek out.” 

I fear that many of us are hardly willing to embark on a journey and would rather settle for some nice sounding answer. Whether it be a half-truth or a downright lie. Still others, I fear, ask questions only to promote their own conclusions. Instead of merely seeking, they seek validation for their own supposed “truth.”

And still, there are others who refuse to ask or be asked. They are the ones who long to zip up the truth, to hide it away and lead those who come asking on a wild goose chase. Why? If the real questions were ever asked, they wouldn’t have the answer to refute them. And so, in order to have control over the situation, they constrain you until only the wrong questions can be asked and answered without causing damage to their own agenda or egos.

What a malicious thought, but oh so common in our American society. We have simply removed the “quest” from question.  And soon, the entire word may just up and leave our dictionaries along with “freedom”,…unless we do something about it.

Christians seem to be given the label of “close-mindedness” by men of thought. But from one Christian to another we know the truth. We always ask questions! Only a fool would settle and (something the world fails to understand), only a greater fool would keep asking once the truth was found.

I’ve explained it before as a person digging a hole. They are on a “quest” to find the treasure (truth). After a time, their shovel finally hits something solid and they pull out the treasure box. The digger opens it to find that the treasure (truth) was not what he envisioned it would be. And so he tosses it aside and resumes digging, hoping that his ideal treasure is just underneath it…..he digs and he digs….forever.

Meanwhile, his friend who also found treasure has accepted it and has moved on to another hole to search for another treasure. This is a man who has found the answer to one question and is on a quest to answer the next.

We weren’t born Christians, merely, Christianity was the answer to one question, in this case, the greatest question of existence. It didn’t happen overnight, no we dug for years and we dirtied ourselves in this great quest. And we are quite certain of the treasure we have found, which actually far exceeds what we imagined!

Now with one question answered we go onward toward the lesser questions, but praise be to God that the lesser questions are that much easier to dig up now because we have Him as our guide and strength. Perhaps, the first quest built up our endurance as well.

I hope this example paints clearly the concept of both searching and finding. And I hope above all else that if you are reading this and aren’t a Christain, you will climb back into that hole you started digging, or perhaps pick up the treasure you found but discarded and give it a second look. You deserve to know the truth and to seek it for yourself, not to have others chain you down, removing your freedom to ask. Never take another man’s word, another man’s answer (which as you’ve read may or may not be honest), to such a question as this, your purpose for living.

Even as a Christian, I do not know the destiny God has for you, and no one can tell me my own destiny but God, and I must begin that quest alone. Another can’t do it for me, and nor would I want them to.

Put the “quest”, back in your questions and always have the courage to ask the right ones. Perhaps your venture into these new territories will lead others to such freedom in a society where the “Freedom of speech” is under great attack and scrutiny.

Ask. Seek. Find. and Repeat!

 

Pregnancy: 2nd Trimester

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Planet Fitness

Forgive the bathroom picture, It’s quite difficult finding a large mirror with good lighting anywhere for pregnancy photos. I am officially 18 weeks which translates to the beginning of month 5.

If there are any expectant mothers reading, I highly recommend the website, What to Expectwhich is great for tracking baby growth and developmental milestones as well as giving mothers helpful information regarding weekly symptoms and open forums to calm any anxiety you may face. I’ve found the site strangely accurate, as each new week warrants new symptoms that line up with my own bodily changes.

The first trimester was difficult. Nausea was a daily and “nightly” occurrence as well as random cramping, back pain, and fatigue. Now I am happy to say that the nausea has subsided, only rearing it’s ugly head once in a blue moon. Like when I accidentally took my prenatal vitamins on an empty stomach, yuck!

My weight has been increasing steadily as well as my appetite at times. My doctor told me that I should gain half a pound a week now roughly, based on my starting weight of 127-130. In the last few weeks, I’ve jumped between 138-141. This is just my body, everyone else is sure to gain and carry their baby differently. As this is my first child, I’m sure my second will be different and so on…let your doctor tell you what is healthy and right for you, not others!

He did say that it is important to start cutting back on carbs. The baby and I are storing fat, in fact, we are storing everything we eat (it’s a survival instinct). I find it difficult to curb my desire to munch by eating carrots and bland foods over the more satisfyingly filling potatoes, fried foods, and pasta! Nevertheless, I also don’t want stretch marks or an 11-pound baby, so It is probably best to cut back on carbs/sugars whenever possible. A healthy grazing diet of veggies, proteins(meats), and some fruits will be just dandy. Try not to eat big meals (like I have lately with the holidays), it gives your body sugar spikes and it overall is very uncomfortable. Just eat 5 or more small meals or snacks a day, try protein-heavy meals in the evening so that you can sleep a full night before having to eat again.

So far, I haven’t felt the baby move, and my home stethoscope has yet to pick up a heartbeat amidst the other gurgling belly sounds. But those days are coming soon! And not only that, but the gender-revealing ultrasound which I’ve got scheduled for the 23rd this month. (Gender reveal pictures/blog will follow 😊).

Names have been tossed around and so far we like the name Evelyn for a girl and James for a boy, what do you think?

I could go into further details regarding symptoms but that would take some time, so I will just leave this post open to any questions you may have. I’m no expert but I’m happy to help in any way I can. Motherhood is rough, our bodies are no longer “ours”, and these rapid changes can be a bit unsettling at times (I find myself doing double-takes every time I pass a mirror). If my experience can help other expectant mothers out there than great! I admit that I could use the assurance and support as well, this is all new territory for me, I’ve charted the first few months, but there are more to come.

Thank you for reading! Until next time, my last advice is to do some light exercise (walking on a treadmill), and pregnancy stretches that will ultimately prepare you for childbirth. You will be grateful you took the time now to prepare for that day, I honestly believe that it doesn’t have to be a “horrible” experience. In fact, it may well just be the greatest day of your life, the day you meet your baby!

God bless you all!

Defenseless

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The dreams would turn to nightmares and I’d carry that feeling of powerlessness into reality. I believed in my fear more than I believed in my God and the demons were well aware of this. My prayers were pleas to a distant savior, one whom I feared would come too late.

This was part of my childhood, but thankfully, it’s not my future. I am NOT defenseless! And neither are you.

I’ve come full circle, I’ve discovered that the great enemy really has a greater enemy in us. Their only power is in what they can get you to believe, and generally, they want you to feel powerless because if you truly discovered your power, they would stand defeated in your life and quite possibly in the lives of those around you.

Knowing God is important, knowing yourself is equally so. You may disagree but I feel they both go hand-in-hand. Our identity is rooted in Christ, and Christ is rooted in God. Do we really believe we are heirs to the Kingdom? Sons and Daughters of the Most High? The demons know this, and they thrive in our “not” knowing.

Anything left in shadow is open to deception. That is why it is vital we discuss our doubts, fears, and sins with others. If satan can keep you silent he can keep you bound.

I see many people with their hands tied behind them, with veils over their eyes and mud in their ears. They believe in God, but don’t really know Him, and in not knowing Him they cannot know themselves. They make pleas just as I did when I was young, and they look up to the sky as if God were there and not in their very hearts.

In my early posts, I’ve talked about the authority given to us, the same that raised the dead, healed the sick, and cast out demons is very much in us today. Cessationism is unfounded biblically and if one would truly search for miracles he/she would find them. I know this because I’ve lived it. I went years without searching and never saw miracles, and then I went years searching and found many miracles that proved God’s power remains in us today.

Jesus told us we would do greater things (John 14:12). What could be greater than the miracles of Christ??? He emphasized that these “greater things” would occur because he is going to the father. We live in these greater times!! Jesus has already died, been raised, and returned to the Father, and He then sent us the Holy Spirit, the one who gives us the power and authority to do what Christ did and more.

This world does have it’s “defenseless ones,” but they should not consist of those who are born again Christians, at least not in the spiritual sense. How else can we fulfill Psalm 82:3-4 which says; “defend the weak and fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.” 

We stand for righteousness amidst the darkness, we must be the light. The hope of Christ must shine through us and pour out upon others in not just good deeds. Humanitarianism is only one part, it recognizes and seeks to meet the physical needs of a person but not the spiritual ones. No, we must do more than that, we must demonstrate God’s Heart through the miraculous, make the Word of God come alive in their hearts till it transforms them!

The darkness will remain in a region so long as the people are kept chained in spiritual darkness. Christ is the only way to freedom and prosperity, redemption and peace. You want to make a difference in the world? First, make a difference in a person…one at a time…and watch the world transform.

Christians fall on hard times, I don’t deny it. We often need a helping hand from our brothers and sisters, but we always stand back up again and we must never forget who we are when we fall. A soldier on his knees is still a soldier nonetheless.

It’s time for every Christian to stop wallowing in self-pity. To stop speaking lies over themselves and declaring their fears and worries. Brothers and sisters, it’s time to wake up and remember who you are and pick up your sword!!

What does that look like?

If demons are invading your home, your family, and your very dreams…take action!! exercise your authority paid for in full by Christ. You don’t need a priest to cleanse your house, you just need to believe in who you are and whose you are. Send those pesky bugs fleeing in terror, laugh at them as they depart, worship God and fill your home with His light so that they can’t return.

If you are being buried with debt and believe that things will only get worse it’s time to make a stand! Declare it, worship it, pray out loud that you are victorious and that you are healed! God is provider and you place your faith and trust in Him when you tithe! Read His Word, seek spiritual financial counseling, there are many tools at your disposal but you must be willing to make sacrifices and often changes in your spending/budgeting habits.

Is your marriage struggling? Intimacy? make declarations over your marriage, pray for it and if your spouse isn’t on board, don’t try and “change” them, transform yourself—do the Love Dare seek ways to serve and honor your spouse amidst this time, and watch them transform. Never place divorce on the table, and it will never become an option, an out. Fight for your marriage and remember who the real enemy is, who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy not just you personally but your God sealed union. Take Christain marital counseling, learn to communicate properly which basically involves learning to listen, truly.

The list goes on and guess what, YOU have the authority to overcome any obstacle, giant, or impossibility in your path, because of Christ and the Holy Spirit within you.

YOU ARE NOT DEFENSELESS

Declare that, believe that, and you will begin to sharpen your sword. Fail to do so, and that sword will remain sheathed. The choice really is yours, and I pray you chose to fight dear brother/sister. God has much in store for you, and His Will was never that you would be left defenseless.