Monday, October 29, 2012
I was so glad that my family was visiting that following weekend so we could tell them right away. We wrapped up Mercer Mayer's "Grandpa and Me" and Bernstein Bears "Week at Grandmas" to provide them as clues. (Jamie- I cannot remember what book I gave you, but I think it was "Baby Bear, Baby Bear, What do you See?" Correct me if I'm wrong!) Unfortunately, I confused my dad by accidentally giving him the "Week at Grandmas" book. He found out on Thursday and then mom and Jamie found out on Sunday when they arrived for their visit. Everyone thought were joking at first, but were then ecstatic! We told Z's family the following weekend and they were all just as excited!
We waited until after our first ultrasound to make the announcement to the rest of our family. We wanted to tell them in person and to have a picture to show them. We showed them as part of a picture slideshow of Jamie's wedding pictures, but everyone was just quiet when we made the announcement. We found out after what seemed like 20 minutes of just silence that everyone was just in shock and thought maybe we were joking. They are clearly excited now!
Without going into all of the details, let me sum up my first trimester in saying that I was constantly tired, nauseous every evening, and had a cold/allergies that would not go away! Thankfully, my husband is understanding and even helped make dinners on evenings when I could barely move. Fortunately, I did not throw up much, with the exception of a few times while brushing my teeth. My gag reflexes are very sensitive. I did get to start my maternity wardrobe, which was surprisingly fun. At first, I was a little freaked out because I did not know how to choose the correct sizes. Mom and Jamie helped in this process and for that I was very thankful! I still need to find a few items, but thankfully we have some great consignment shops in our area that sell maternity clothing.
Thursday, February 10, 2011
Monday, December 20, 2010
I am constantly reminded of just how thankful I am for the friends that I have. Those that you surround yourself with in many ways shape and at times define you. Are you surrounding yourself with people who share only similar values or who share no similar values with you whatsoever? I would argue that both are wrong.
As Christians, it is really important that we surround ourselves with a core of people who share similar values. Just as Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (NIV). We can challenge and encourage one another (1 Thess. 5:11). We can share successes and failures. We can pray together (Acts 1:14). We can have accountability (Gal. 6:1-2) and fellowship (Acts 2:42). We can help one another up when we fall (Ecc. 4:9-12). We can work together to be even more effective in advancing the kingdom of God. You will spend a lot of time with these people, so choose wisely.
Of course, we also want to have friends that do not share the same values. These friends also help to challenge us in different ways. They help challenge Christians to be able to defend their faith and their stances on certain issues. They encourage believers in Christ to be able to support their beliefs (1 Peter 3:15). They also help to remind us that there are those who do not share the same faith. In our interactions, we can learn how to better share the gospel.
Looking back, I can see how both sets of friends have influenced me greatly. If it were not for strong Christian friends in middle and high school, however, I would no doubt have a completely different life now. Even to this day, there are times when I become discouraged or begin to take my relationship with Christ for granted. It is during these times that I often forget (or maybe I am just too prideful) to ask friends to help me carry this burden by praying that I can renew the joy of my salvation (Ps. 51:12). The JOY of my salvation. Take a minute to reflect on that statement. Joy is something that is provided to us by God. God’s salvation brings us an eternal joy that can never be taken away! When we are at our lowest, when everything else has seemingly been taken away, our joy can never be stripped from us unless we choose to give it up! Joy came in the form of a baby over 2000 years ago (Luke 2:10) and is made complete by our commitment to follow Christ (John 15:11).
We have such an exciting and relevant message to share! Why are we all too often comfortable sitting back in our chair at church once a week, listening and nodding along to a well-spoken sermon, and leaving feeling better about ourselves? When does the power of the gospel take hold of our lives and make radical changes that only leave others wondering how they can have a part of that? Do we take the time to encourage those around us to live in such a way? Do we, being our normal, prideful selves, simply refuse to admit that we have struggles and take the risk of asking for help from others when it comes to spiritual matters, excusing it by saying “Oh, I just don’t want to bother him or her with this. I can handle it on my own.”? We need each other. Most of all, we need God. But, we need each other as well.
Accountability is so crucial. I know that I have certain friends that I can go to who will without a doubt pray for any need that I share with them. I have friends that I know will give me wise advice when I am most in need of direction. I have friends that will encourage me in my walk with Christ when I feel the most down. I even have particular friends I go to when I want to rejoice over some way that the Lord has blessed me. I’m still searching for the one that will point out my faults in a gentle way and push me to grow in these areas (or perhaps I have found many and have just been too prideful to accept their admonishment). You will most likely fail to find every attribute in one person, but each person has a unique gift.
Encourage someone today. Take some time to reflect on the wonderful friends that God has blessed you with and the role(s) they play in your life. If you do not have someone to help hold you accountable in every area of your life, pray for and seek them out. They do not always just come to you. Remember, it’s ok if you cannot do everything on your own. God gives us every resource we need, including friends, to help us succeed in the things he has called us to do.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Last weekend I got to make homemade cookies to use as gifts for Christmas! I must say that they were the coolest cookies (or baked good for that matter) that I have ever made! The original idea was not mine, but after I baked them, Z and I had fun making the designs our own! We made “melted snowmen” cookies and snow globe cookies. Here are some examples of the ones we made:
Barely Hanging On
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Christmas really is the most wonderful time of the year! Of course, every day is God-given and should therefore not be taken for granted, but those few weeks before Christmas almost seem magical (and I’m not really one for fantasizing and daydreaming).
I do NOT enjoy the commercialization that comes along with Christmas, but that is not what this blog is about. This blog is about gifts.
I love walking through the stores and watching people as they search for that perfect gift. You have the man that walks in hurriedly from the cold and walks down an aisle on a mission. Once he gets to the section he is looking for, however, he stands and stares at the shelf, presumably at the many options available to him, and searches for that perfect option for his loved one. Unsatisfied with the twenty options available to him, he leaves. On to the next store. Then you have the woman who walks leisurely up and down each aisle. She may choose a couple options of one item and walk through the entire store trying to make up her mind. She may decide to purchase one over the other, or she may just purchase both with the intentions of returning the one she decides not to gift. Either way, they are looking for that perfect gift. And what makes that perfect gift? It’s not the item itself. It’s the thought behind it.
In my family, we make lists. Just prior to Thanksgiving, everyone sends each other a list of items they would like for Christmas. It is assumed that all other members of the family will collaborate in an effort to not buy the same gift. Many may think that this takes the fun out of receiving the gifts, but I am always surprised. I do not know whether it is because of my poor memory (concerning what I put on my list) or the fact that they still got to choose the specifics of the item.
I really get more excited over giving someone a gift that I have made or purchased for them than I do getting one in return. It takes all I have sometimes to not give someone a gift right after I purchase it. Just last night, I (along with several of her friends), gave my roommate Jess a musical keyboard. She had wanted one for so long! She was really suspicious when she arrived at the house and all of her friends were there. Holding on to that keyboard, however, was difficult to do! I had had it in hiding for several weeks and was growing very impatient. And still, there is one more that I am just overly anxious to hand out…
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I wonder how often we spend 15 minutes, or even hours, with a person and do not ever realize that they are really hurting. Have we become so self-consumed that we do not realize that they are hurting? Or is it that we honestly just don’t want to take the time to sit down with them and ask them the hard questions? What if that is what they want? What if they want a friend to sincerely ask, “Hey, I notice you have not really been yourself lately. Is everything ok?” What if they need you to sit there with them and allow them to cry or just spill their hearts, even if it takes a couple of hours and even if neither of them can really make sense of the situation. That seems to rarely happen. And oftentimes when the question is finally asked and you begin opening your heart, one of two things happen:
1. They receive a text message or phone call that suddenly becomes more important. They may not walk away to answer, but they are distracted for the moment and respond to something you just said with a half-hearted “uh-huh, continue.” You are left there feeling vulnerable and automatically shut down, not wanting to risk opening up anymore in case you feel that rejection again.
2. You no longer get into the first few sentences and they jump in with “oh, I know exactly what you mean. One time…” and continue to tell their own story. Sure, they may think they are helping you by showing you that you are not alone in your feelings, but you still not end up getting to share what’s on your heart.
Some of you may argue that the person should approach you if they want to talk, but let me challenge you to place yourself in their shoes for a few minutes. Think about one of those times in your life where you were hurting, because several things were starting to accumulate and they all contributed to the stress you were experiencing. Your situation, however, cannot be easily expressed in words. You have spent hours and hours trying to make sense of it all in your mind and you still cannot explain it with words. You feel as though you want to try to express it verbally to make some sense of the madness, yet you don’t want to bother anyone with “nonsense.” If you cannot make sense of it, you know there is no chance that someone else will. Sometimes, though, we just need someone to listen. We need to know that someone cares. People can do all types of things to try to make you feel better, like buying you little gifts or doing some act of kindness, but there are times when just sitting with them would be the best thing you could ever give them.
Perhaps one of my favorite passages in Scripture, Phillippians 2:1-11 states:
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
By this, we are reminded that the Savior of the world humbled himself to the point of death on a cross, the most humiliating way to die at the time. It was a form of punishment meant for only the worst of criminals. In the same way that Jesus considered our needs (our ultimate need for salvation in this instance), we should also consider the needs of those around us. Matthew 25 reminds us that helping others is the equivalent to serving God.
Perhaps you are the one hurting. As much as we may desire for someone to sincerely come and talk with you, you must keep in mind that it may not happen. What do you do then? Sink further into self-pity? Absolutely not! Why? Because we have one on our side who has much more to offer than anyone or anything else possibly can! Instead, take comfort in the following passage (and there are many other great ones):
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the LORD, "He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust."
Surely he will save you from the fowler's snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
and see the punishment of the wicked.
If you make the Most High your dwelling—
even the LORD, who is my refuge-
then no harm will befall you,
no disaster will come near your tent.
For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways;
they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
You will tread upon the lion and the cobra;
you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
"Because he loves me," says the LORD, "I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call upon me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life will I satisfy him
and show him my salvation." (Psalm 91)
How long can we allow this selfish way of living prevail? We must step out and help those that are crying out for help. This does not only apply to those we consider friends. When you think of your worst enemy, think of him or her as a child of God, a brother or sister in Christ even. Does this change your perspective? Can you go to them in their time of need? Or do you make excuses because it is just too hard?
What are you doing to help those who are hurting?