To The Little Person Growing Inside Me

Dear Baby,

It’s your Mommy here.

I’m getting so excited to meet you! Still 20 weeks to go – give or take, so we’re only half way- so keep growing and enjoying your little space inside me. We don’t know if you’re a girl or a boy yet – we will find out next week (assuming you cooperate) – but either way I love you already. You’re precious. You’re a very active little one, wiggling around a lot and I love feeling all those little movements. You’re getting stronger by the day – and so are your kicks! But I don’t mind since that means you’re growing well.

You have a big brother! Ezra. He will be three years old by the time you arrive. He loves you too – he kisses my belly to kiss you every day and says “Hi Baby!” “Love you Baby!” Once you come and are a little bit bigger I know Ezra will love to play with you and teach you things, just like a good big brother does. And I know you two will fight at times too, but I’m excited to see you interact with each other.

You also have a Daddy who already loves you very much too! He felt you kick the other night for the first time, which just proves how big you’re getting. He was so happy to feel you move. You are blessed little Baby to have Daddy you do – he’s a wonderful Daddy. He’s loving and strong and fun! He does such an amazing job with Ezra so I know he will also be amazing with you. He also can’t wait to meet you in person.

Both your Daddy and I are very happy that our little family is expanding with the addition of YOU! We feel very blessed that God would give us another precious, amazing gift to take care of and nurture. We want the best for you Baby! Whether you’re a girl or a boy, whether you look like Mommy or Daddy, whether you are big or small – we want only good things for you. And we will always try to do our best to make that happen. We know realistically that everything you face in life won’t be good or nice or easy – but we will love you through it all. We will always support you, encourage you to reach for your dreams and help you in any and every way we can to see you reach your highest potential. We know God has already given you special abilities and talents, a unique personality that is not like anyone else and we want to help shape you into the person you have been created to be – whoever that ends up being. You already have a purpose and a calling and we will always be there along the journey as you figure it all out.

Know this Baby …

You may not be born yet, but…

You are already loved
You are already thought about
You are already cared for
You are already making people happy
You are already part of our lives and family

So rest well in your little home inside of me. Grow, stretch, sleep, hear our voices and feel our love for you.

We’ll see you on the other side soon.

Love, Mommy
infinite x’s and o’s

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The Next Generation: Hope for Tomorrow Today

I was part of something amazing this past weekend. 

*Warning* I am about to talk about some spiritual things (I won’t say “Religious” I don’t really like that word and because that word doesn’t describe it at all, but call it what you like) so if you believe – get excited with me and if you’re skeptical – read anyway, you might get excited too.

I was part of a small team that got together out of their love for young people to plan an event. A conference. But it was more than we could have planned. Of course it was – because God showed up in an incredible way – and when that happens it’s always more than you expect.

The conference was called “The Awakening” and boy did it live up to its name! I don’t know if we even really knew exactly what an “awakening” among a handful of youth in this city would look like but our desire was to see them experience something fresh from God – something that awakened their hearts, minds, souls – and I believe that’s what we witnessed. 

This wasn’t a huge conference with thousands of kids – it was a group of about a hundred or so kids – a mixed group from different churches, different denominations, different schools, different backgrounds. But what took place over these two days was HUGE. 

You see – all over the world young people are being told a lie. It is told in different ways, sometimes in words, sometimes by different cultural norms, sometimes by media and our societies, sometimes by our parents and families – but in each case they are basically saying the same thing: you can’t make a difference in the world…yet. It’s not necessarily that we are telling kids that they won’t ever make a difference – it’s that we’re telling them they have to wait. They’re time hasn’t come. They’re not ready yet. They’re not mature yet. They don’t have life experience and education yet. They don’t know enough yet. They don’t have influence yet. They don’t know who they are yet. No one will listen to them yet. I believe this is a lie. 

There were many amazing realizations over the weekend – that I know many young people took to heart – they had those light bulb moments in God’s presence and of course our prayer is that it doesn’t stop here. Our prayer is that they would step out into their world with new confidence because of who they are in Christ, knowing that not only can they make a difference but they can make a difference NOW

I personally believe that young people are this world’s hope. And God wants to use young people to change the world – to bring hope in hopelessness, to bring joy into a hurting world, to bring light into the darkness. And it’s not about tomorrow. 

We hear this a lot: “the next generation – the hope for tomorrow” or “the leaders of tomorrow” or (in the church) “the church of tomorrow.” But I disagree. I have and continue to witness young people – children, teenagers, young adults – being hope today, leading here and now, in the church and in their societies. It’s happening now. And it needs to keep happening. I don’t believe young people should buy into the lie that they have to have certain things checked off on their “life to do list”  – certain criteria met before they can make a positive change in the world. That’s ridiculous! In a lot of ways young people are the ones who can make those changes – the ones who do have that influence. More than adults (those people with all the life experience and education). Young people have certain traits that actually make “changing the world” easier for them as compared to grown ups…

Young people are willing. They’re up for anything! They will take a risk. They will try something new. They will try something that’s never been done before. Maybe they’re not so practical yet – but they are passionate. They’re full of energy and enthusiasm. They’re open to new things, new people, new places. They’re not “set in their ways” yet. They’re more flexible, easy going, free. 

Free. Available. Willing. 

I believe in young people. Can I say that again? – I BELIEVE IN YOUNG PEOPLE! I believe they already have what it takes – many times even more so than all the experienced, educated (boring) adults out there.(Don’t be offended – not EVERY adult is boring ;)).  I witnessed it again this past weekend. So much potential. So much passion. So much excitement. 

When we know who we are,  where our identity is found and we live in that confidence – we can’t remain the same and neither can the world around us. No matter what age we are. And why not start making a difference when we’re young? When we have the energy, the passion the resilience. 

Young people and the young at heart 😉 – the time is now. I don’t believe anything in your life is a mistake or a coincidence. You are where you are for a specific God-given purpose. It’s yours to discover and run with. Know who Christ has made you to be and live in that identity and freedom and you will most definitely be a world changer.

YOU are the HOPE for TODAY.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. 

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”  The Bible – 1 Timothy 4:12
 
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” The Bible – 1 Peter 2:9
 
“And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” The Bible – Esther 4:14b
 
“I am royalty, I have destiny, I have been set free, I’m gonna shape history.” Song – “The Anthem” by Jesus Culture

God is a Lover

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” – The Bible NIV [John 3:16]

On the way to daycare this morning with our little guy, my husband put on one of T.D. Jakes’ messages. He was talking about giving and John 3:16 was his main verse. He was looking at giving from another angle – not the typical stuff we hear when preachers talk about giving. It resonated with me. So here are a few thoughts (most of them T.D. Jakes’ and a few of my own).

God is a lover.

Not a “lover” like how you’re thinking right now. We’ve been conditioned to think of the word “lover” only in relation to sex, but love, of course is much bigger and broader than just sex. True love changes things. It changes our perspective. It changes our motives. It changes our actions and behavior.

God is a lover.

It’s his nature to love. God IS love. It motivates everything He does. It is behind every action, every move. “God SO LOVED the world…”

What makes God a lover? “THAT HE GAVE…” He’s a LOVER because He’s a GIVER. Loving and giving are inseparably tied together. True love desires to give. True love doesn’t take. It’s not self-seeking. It gives without expectations or conditions.

If you really love someone, you’ll give to them.

But of course there are lots of people who might be labeled “givers” but who are not in fact “lovers.” I liked T.D. Jakes’ term for these people – “lusters.” They are not lovers – they are lusters. What is lust? Again when we hear the word “lust” our minds jump straight to sex – but again the idea of lust is bigger than just sex. Other words associated with lust can be – passion, desire, covet, crave, want, wish for, long for, hunger for, etc. All of these words can apply to many things. Lust is the opposite of love. If love is about giving, lust is about taking. Lust is concerned with itself, it’s own desires and wants first and foremost. It always wants something in return – it is interested in how much it can get. “What’s in it for me?” “What can I get?” “What will make me feel good?”

So T.D. Jakes asked an interesting question – “Are you a lover or a luster?”

Hmm…

But be careful how you answer. Take a moment because it might be harder than you think. You see lovers and lusters initialy many times might appear quite similar. They might do similar things. They both give. They both say nice things. Some of their actions look the same. So where’s the difference? – It’s inside. It’s a matter of your heart – the motives of your heart. WHY are you doing what you’re doing?

I liked another thing T.D. Jakes said (I’m paraphrasing) … “When we get up to heaven and we face the judgement of God it will be less about WHAT we did and more about WHY we did it.” Just let that sink in. As humans we are mostly consumed with WHAT we do. The good deeds, the bad deeds, the number of deeds. God is much less concerned with what we do (of course because that can’t save us anyways) and much more concerned with why we do what we do. What the motive of our heart is. What is driving us to act the way we do – towards Him, towards ourselves and towards other people.

So now let me ask again. Are you a lover or a luster? You may consider yourself a generous person, a giver – but why do you give? Maybe the answer to this question will help you answer the first.

Food for thought this morning. Always welcome your thoughts!

Oh and go listen to some T.D. Jakes – he’s got some good stuff to say! (Even if he’s “not your style” listen for the content – learn and grow.) Happy Friday!

The Toddler Take-Over

Yesterday my toddler took over. It was a terrible toddler day.

I don’t generally have a terrible toddler. I wouldn’t label him that way. Generally speaking he’s quite a good little boy, especially for his age. He has normal moments of toddler break downs, or not listening or testing the limits but most of the time I have to say I’m quite pleased with the little boy he’s becoming. (Despite me).

Yesterday however was not a general-type day. It was a “who stole my precious little boy and replaced him with this crazy, screaming, temper tantrum-throwing child!?!” It is a day I would like to just forget about but I am reminded by just how exhausted I feel today.

But then this morning he woke up and was his cheerful smiley self again, just like nothing ever happened. (I was a little worse for the wear).

Toddlers are funny little creatures. I don’t fully understand them (if I did I think I’d have far fewer moments of wanting to rip the hair out of my own head). Their emotions change at the drop of a hat; they can literally be laughing one (forget minute) – SECOND – and screaming and crying the very next for no apparent or discernible reason. They are learning to speak and can actually communicate a lot of things, but still much of the time choose to cry or whine or scream to get your attention.They get tired but they fight it at all costs. They ask approximately one million questions per day. Instant gratification is all they know or understand and it’s very hard teaching them to wait and be patient for anything. If you ignore them they will keep getting louder and louder and louder – until you acknowledge them.

But for all the tiring and annoying and frustrating things about toddlers – there are some good things too…

Their laugh is infectious (sometimes even when you’re trying to discipline them)! They say wildly amusing things on a daily basis. They are entertaining – dancing, singing, playing. They are constantly discovering new things, constantly learning and growing. The “I love you Mommy’s” (especially the voluntary ones) make your heart melt every time. The hugs and kisses (even wet ones). And just the fact that you know ALL of this won’t last so you better enjoy it while they’re small.

And that is what is comes down to for me. Even when I have days like yesterday when everything feels like a lost cause with Ezra – I am always aware that it will end. Soon he will be big. He will be off to school all day, every day. Soon he won’t want to hand out hugs and kisses so quickly. So I need to embrace the moment we’re in – tantrums and all. The good with the bad, because I know all too soon it will be over and I’ll just be left with an (hopefully) amazing young man and the memories.

What are some of your Toddler stories – Funny and not so funny?

I’m Pregnant! (Isn’t that a good excuse for everything?!)

So if you know me or follow me on facebook, you’ll know that I’m pregnant again – expecting our second baby. Which is why I have been a MIA for the last few weeks. I really don’t like when women use being pregnant as an excuse for everything…however unfortunately this time I have had a better idea of why that’s easy to do!

This pregnancy has been different from my first, unfortunately not in a good way. The first trimester was AWFUL. Can I say that again? AWFUL!!! It’s not like my first pregnancy was symptom free – I did have some morning sickness and general nausea in the first three months and I was tired…but I don’t remember it affecting my day to day routine THAT much. THIS time has been a different story. I have totally turned into one of those women – who use pregnancy as an excuse for everything. But I can’t help it! I swear! You can ask my husband – I was not a bad pregnant wife last time! I was pretty good actually! Not too much complaining, no weird cravings, no excuses! I was busy! I was active! My life didn’t slow down when I got pregnant. However this second time *sigh* I feel like (at least for the first three, three and a half months) my life stopped. I spent many of the first days in bed, all day, no joke. I couldn’t eat anything. When I did it just made me nauseous or it didn’t stay down. I was beyond tired – I was like a zombie and feeling sick 24/7 I think made me even more tired. Literally some days it was a task just to shower and come out of the bedroom for a while! I am so thankful for my husband and the fact that we have help to watch Ezra! I just did not have the energy to deal with a toddler for long. I remember counting down…telling my hubby… “only 4 more weeks and I should be feeling better” … “I just have to get to 12 weeks! Only 2 more weeks – an end in sight!” … “ugh – I’m 13 weeks and no change!” … “Seriously, 16 weeks and STILL feeling like crap?! If this lasts the whole pregnancy this might be our last child.”

I am now 18 weeks. I am happy (relieved, really) to report there has been a noticeable improvement in the last 2 weeks. Though I still have random moments of nausea and I am still tired, I do make it out of bed every morning, I shower, I even go out and do things. I am back involved at church and in ministry – life is busy for me again.

Knowing how awful the first four months were this time I am just grateful it was only four. I do know women who feel horrible throughout the whole pregnancy and my appreciation for those women has increased significantly! It’s just not fun trying to do life when you constantly feel like you might up-chuck. So now with the worst behind me, I am finally starting to enjoy this pregnancy! Baby is moving more and more, getting stronger and stronger and this is the fun part for me. I still have the pregnancy woes – I’ve traded in nausea for indigestion and heartburn but I’ll take it! (Like I have a choice). There is a reason little newborn babies are SO cute. I can’t wait to hold this little one. But for now…I am trying to enjoy every moment – even the unpleasant ones -because I know it’s part of the package. Ultimately we need to vent sometimes because it can just be frustrating, but at the end of the day we know it’s worth it. Worth it to bring a little person into this world. It’s a miracle and I am no less amazed this second time around.

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