Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Out of the Blue...

Wednesday - June 5th. I was visiting my parents, it was late morning and my mother already had Paxton out on the swing. I had been staying with them to help my parents with paperwork for their business - while Ben was soon to be 30 minutes away at youth camp. Since mom had the babes - I thought I'd spend my time in the presence of Jesus. I was in prayer for Lesa and my book (about Paxton's adoption) when I was guided to a scripture. I can't recall it now but it was a Psalm. I felt urged to text Lesa it as encouragement for I strongly felt the Lord wanted us to remember He creates 'new songs' for us to sing daily. "New songs" that have never been heard.

As I was texting her - she texted me.

"Do you know anyone looking to adopt? The girl that told me she is pregnant is wanting to give her baby up...& I just thought you might know someone :)"

In reply I wrote.

"Um us. Duh ;)"

....then I called her. 

From the call I discovered (other than our giddy excitement and disbelief) that she just recently discovered she was pregnant. Her and Lesa went to the Pregnancy Care Center together - where she was told she was approximately 7 months. I was then told she was going to the doctor soon to discover sex and get a more accurate assessment and an actual physical check up of baby. 

Through the day she and I began to talk - it was immediate. I was a bit apprehensive how easy it was to talk to her and get to know her. 

Through all of this I contacted Ben - in which he replied he would be praying about it. Note: Since Pax - this was not our first call on another baby there have been 4. 2 new borns, a 7 month old and very recently a 4 month old. All of which we never had a peace about. That evening Ben texted and said "I wish I had an uneasiness - but I don't." 

My response was - "It feels like Pax."

Him - "I know. Just let me know what you hear. I'll be praying"

The next morning I recieved a text early. I was told it was a boy. And that baby was due the 17th -25th.

I waited...wondering, "okay what month." Probably due to being in the "boonies" I assumed it was delayed due to that..

The response in all caps - "OF THIS MONTH." 


Again I contacted Ben. I was going to be seeing him that night to pick up for foster classes in Springfield. We would have the 2 1/2 hour drive there and again back to talk about it all. 

At this point Lesa, Birth mom and I are on a group text - and doing the only thing we know how to do - CELEBRATE!

This was unreal. 

She was honest about her pregnancy, her drinking consumption, birth father, why she didn't think she was pregnant and etc. She reminded me so much of Lesa. And I was comforted that she was seeking advice and help from a woman who had already done it and knows us well. Lesa was like the advocate - the glue - the connection. 

Plans were arranged that we would officially meet face to face on Sunday. Until then we talked, texted and celebrated quietly. 

From my interaction with her the past few days I already knew it was settled in her mind. Ben, being at camp was behind as far as information or any intimacy with birth mom - because he was wrangling youth kids, eating gross things for points and shaving that thing off his face :)....

She came to church with Lesa Sunday and after we met in the connection foyer. It was love at first sight. We embraced - I rubbed her belly - that barely looked 5-6 months, and we made arrangements to meet for lunch. 

Lesa came along as well as my littlest sister, who was visiting and helping tremendously with Pax. It was instant. I just wanted to hold her hand the whole time she talked. She was kind and compassionate and it was much like Lesa & my encounter (which was also at McAlister's - weird - it gets weirder). It's like we wanted to embrace but the social norm would say too soon...and Jamie doesn't fit in it - yet I restrained and tried (for Ben's sake) to remain "normal."

She explained that her parents didn't know and she wanted to tell them and her aunt and brother. Her family is very close and explained they would be shocked but very supported. She is very grounded, working multiple jobs, only to start a great paying one on the 17th. She is turning 22 this month and has been supporting herself and living on her own since high school graduation. She said she would most likely be delivering at Mercy (which gave me peace of mind and a familiarity - knowing they would hopefully get us a room like we had with Pax). We kind of talked about if she wanted me in the room and such - in which she agreed and even offered it to Ben. I could go into the logistics of how she really didn't know she was pregnant - all legitimate - but it's really no ones business and not my place. 

We parted on beautiful terms and she told me she would update me on doctors appointments and her meeting with her parents. 

Tuesday she arranged to tell her parents and texted me late to say she had, it is all well and she would talk to me in the morning about the details. 

Wednesday - I was given permission to announce baby. Ben and I saw "Thatcher" a couple weeks prior (before there was even word of a baby) and said if we ever had a baby boy that we were given the opportunity to name - we would want it to be Thatcher. I have always like the name Blue. It's different, NOT THE NORM, and this situation (like Pax's) was definitely out of the BLUE. Paxton's name was going to be (or at least I was pulling for) Oliver Blue. In which Ben said "if' we had another boy I could give them the middle name Blue. I'm certain he never figured we'd have the opportunity - GOTCHA SUCKER!

I had been talking to birth mom and Lesa all day and at one point wanted Lesa to bring me a pie from VI. It was then decided by Lesa - after I had literally drug everything 'baby' out of the attic - that they BOTH were coming over...lovely. I'm a clean freak - she was gonna see all kinds of real! I went to do a friend's hair and when I came back that evening they were already in the house waiting for me...yes Lesa has free access to my house (if you don't already know - I'm not the norm - call me weird later). 

There she was....Pregnant with my baby in my livingroom floor playing with my first born with my first birth mom...I told you - not the norm. We hung out, she told me about her meeting with her parents and we set up a time to meet them collectively...which was suppose to be Sunday. We then casually talked about post delivery and didn't really make anything concrete because she was still unsure on some details. She did want me to be in the room, hold baby first and cut cord..but she didn't know if wanted to see him or not. In which, I suggested she talk with Lesa about all of that. 

They left late and we hugged and planned on seeing each other Sunday. 

Thursday and Friday I had the most uncanny surge of nesting. I was bummed because baby wasn't coming for another ten days or so (which I was grateful for - babies need to bake well)..but that the house was going to get gross again. None-the-less AND with the help of the most incredible support system in the world (my friends and DC family) I already had all the big stuff. Carseat was cleaned - I would get a diaper bag and things for it next monday, when I ordered my gift for birth mom - and we would be set temperarially with the essentials. 

Then I received a text from Lesa encouraging me to check in with birth mom. We had already been texting most of the day. She had even called that morning to tell me she was getting in unexpectedly to the doctor to check baby, vitals, measurements and the like - and that I was welcome to come (even though she just found out 15 minutes prior)..due to the time and commitments...and that her parents wanted to go with her...I told her next time - which she totally agreed.

So in response to Lesa. It was getting to be late in the day I went ahead and texted her and asked straight out - "So for real - how are you doing with all of this?"

She seemed apprehensive. She explained that she knows this is what God wants her to do but she doesn't think she can be obedient to it. 

I lost it. 

First I wasn't going to Africa this next trip and now God is teasing me with a baby....

I shifted my thinking and explained to her that I was glad she was dealing with all of this. We would not want a birth mom that considered this an easy decision. I told her our priority is her and we want she feels is best. 

She said she just felt rushed and explained it was her fault but that she didn't know if she could just give up her child...if she was strong enough emotionally. 

I affirmed what Ben and I felt: that we would love this baby but that our first concern is with her. Even if baby didn't come home with us that him and her would be prayed for on a daily basis (as if he was in this home) and that I would help her get what she needed. 




Please God. 

Saturday early morning, the door alarm chimes as Ben heads out for work so I decide I really should get up before the lively chicken, also known as Paximus, wakes up. I head to the kitchen to start coffee and decide my best interests lie in God's Word - and if I make coffee, I'm gonna look at my phone and I'm going to start this beautiful day off way wrong. So I divert to the living room and seek Him. 

- God - 

You are my God the one that has delivered me from myself. I have a son and a free home. Though we struggle I know you've asked me to step and prepare my home, set the atmosphere and be a bride to my husband. If not going to Africa this year, living on a prayer for every bill or holding a new baby in your arms is your will - THEN I NEED YOU AND YOUR BUTT IN THIS LIVING ROOM TO RESOLVE MY HEART. SETTLE IT IN MY MIND, HEART AND SOUL THAT YOU, ALONE ARE MY REWARD...and every thing else is just bonus.

His butt showed up :)...His graced washed me...His peace consumed me.

....Then my phone went off....

7:07 a.m.

It was birth mom. She was headed to the hospital - stating she was in SEVERE pain. She said she would call and let me know what was up. 

Assuming it was Braxton Hicks... I was a little rattled but began to plan my day accordingly. 

7:38 a.m.

She calls me - it's her mom. We made our introductions and she explains that she is being admitted and is a 7. She then asks, "Are you ready to have a baby today?"

"Yes - very much so." was my verbal reply.... Internally I was singing another tune..."Oh my God, Jesus you are not funny and I can't believe this is happening!"

So I try to call Ben and he ISN'T ANSWERING. Men. 

I then call my mom and tell her. She arranges to come as soon as she can to take Pax. Until then I called another friend, Tracy to see if her daughter Taylor could come watch Pax - while I went to the hospital. As I waited...I called Ben again..

He could not believe it.. 

Then I called my neighbor and my "arm raiser" - Alicia, who came over until Taylor could come...

I resolved in my mind that I was gonna just get dressed, spend some moments with Pax (who just woke up) and grab my camera and purse. The diaper bag, carseat and etc can wait - they will work themselves out. Completely NOT like Paxton's arrival. 

By the time I left birth mom's mother had texted and she was now at an 8 1/2. 

What!!! Isn't this her first baby?!?!

As I was driving I'm trying to call Ben's mom and sisters... and catch my mother up to speed.

This was happening...

Is this real life...

Yesterday I was probably not getting this baby...

"Seek the Kingdom of God[d] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today." Matthew 6:33-34

How true this was...

When I arrived at the hospital I already had so much favor. A lot of the nurses either knew me from doing their hair, being there for Paxton's birth, or reading Lesa and my blog...Such God's favor. 

I was then greeted by a nurse who I was told would be baby and my nurse...

This was different. 

I was then taken to a room in Labor and Delivery and told this is where adoption families wait "due to these circumstances."

"So she's decided she doesn't want me in delivery room."

Nurse, "NO, no she wants you there. She does not want to see baby."

From there she shows the back way from her room (I laughed because her delivery room was also Lesa's two years prior). Nurse explains logistic of birth plan: baby will remain low, she will have a curtain, she wants you to cut cord and take baby in the other room...then she directs me to the neighboring room where I will have baby...

Well. I guess she's decided. 

I then am instructed more and released to see her. 

As I enter the room - I'm greeted by birth mom's mother. She explains birth mom just received her epidural and has been a trooper. Her mother and I hit it off - which was totally God. They included me or asked my opinion on all of it. She was now a 9. 

Her water hadn't yet broke. A family member of hers had pull and she was able to get a very sought after OB/GYN (my favorite)..rather than a hospitalist. He came in on his day off. 

Before He arrived, we met with the social worker (unlike Lesa's which we met the day of discharge). She informed us I would not have access to baby until a Power of Attorney was signed and Noterized...

What. Birth mom wanted baby to be held and loved on the whole time in hospital. The option only allowed me to be called to feed baby in a supervised room. I didn't emotionally invest in it - God brought two people to mind and I called them about noterizing. Within 30 minutes, social worker had discovered a general hospital P.O.A. and God had provided a Notery. Totally God - I had never met her - she was a friend of my friend, Stacey and explained she never had saturdays free but she was free all day and could be there as soon as 15 minutes after birth. P.O.A and Notery couldn't happen till after birth. 

God was in all the details - it was undeniable to everyone. 

"The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in EVERY DETAIL of their lives." Psalm 37:23

Birth mom and I chatted, laughed and shared tender moments. We giggled that she just that she was just having braxton hicks contractions from midnight til 6 then it really started getting uncomfortable. She said it was every 10 minutes. She's a tough cookie. We texted Lesa details, as she was at work. We giggled about it being the same room my first son was born in. We then exchanged information (that I knew we would need for future paperwork - just to get it out of the way) and I sent her the way we wanted baby's name spelled, upon her request. It was all God, not awkward at all. There was so much peace and joy in the room - even birth mom and her mom commented about it. 

In all seriousness she also took all the rapidness as God answer to her request the night before - she had nothing to take in this child and she knew it was His way of saying - They are ready and are who I have for this boy. I thought that was so big of her. 

Then doctor came in in casual clothes to do introductions and break water before getting into what he joked as his 'real clothing.' As he went to break her water - it just broke on its own. The chick is superwoman. 

Nurse came in a little after 12 to start practicing pushing. Birth mom caught on and in a rush to catch up with her nurses and doctor assembled quickly.

The rest is a blur. In two pushes, at 12:28 pm. - Thatcher Blue joined the world. Baby stayed behind curtain that was drawn across birth mom - only I could see her face of heart break. She looked at me as they set up cord to be cut and said "I love you" to me...I lost it. I cut cord as fast as I could to get baby and his beautiful cry out from her presence. He was then fully wrapped and handed to me behind curtain as we transfered to neighboring room. I got all the birth on me and it was awesome. As I laid him down, I held his little hands and kissed his sweet nose. They weighed and measured him. 

Nurses followed to help take pictures of me with him and record his first few moments of life while I held his hand through them. The bond was instant. I was looking at my son. They helped remove my clothes so could lay down and immediately do skin to skin. 

Birth mom texted me at 1:30 to ask "How is momma and baby doing? You guys good and doing skin on skin?" -This woman's verbal generosity did not stop there. She had just delivered by son and was thanking me and telling me how grateful she was for Ben and I!!!! Unbelievable. 

From that point - a sweet friend and her family (Brandi, Kevin & Darin) came in delivering our overnight bags, lunch for us and birth mom and lots of love. Brandi was the first one to hold him after Ben and I and it was an honor. We had all we needed thanks to Alicia packing (even our scivvies)...thanks girl!

We went into her room again to deliver food and sign P.O.A. so we could continue to have baby Blue after 3. She was stunning and didn't even look was sickening. But in all seriousness we were all grateful for the incredible delivery and how fast she was already recovering. She kept repeating - "I'm really overjoyed Jamie and Ben, I'm totally at's uncanny...only God." It was great for her mom to hear and see it all. We hugged and I kissed her sweet forehead and committed to come see her after she rested. 

My mom had arrived at my house and was with Pax...people were there finishing last minutes and cleaning it even more. And our nurse came in with lovely news that we were actually getting a recovery room. 

As we were being wheeled the nurse talked to us about how awesome God was in all of we approached our recovery room - we both laughed - it was Lesa's old recovery room (ours with Pax was right next door)...God and his humor...

This was unreal - we had baby the whole time...We bonded - texted friends - shared pictures...

We didn't have this as much with Pax because the hospital was more for Lesa to spend time with him before she terminated her rights. That was hard but it was all God and so perfect for then. 

Birth mom texted and asked how we were and that she was up and awake. I went to her room once Lesa arrived that evening - due to us having guests. The visitor security guard knew us well ;). When I came in - it was birth mom and her mother and Lesa and her groom. We laughed and shared and compared deliveries. The Holy Spirit was in that room. His Presence was there and her mom was witnessing God's grace and holy love story. Birth mom had no complaints. She was happy and grateful - we shared some tender eye contact. I then hugged her and her mother and Lesa, Austin and I headed back to baby. 

Lesa was just taken away by all of it. She walked into the room she spent her tender moments in with her boy - before she loaded him in a carseat and sent him home with a couple that wasn't her...

And now she holds a baby she had a hand in connecting, the brother to the one she gave us...

It was tender, priceless, perfect and ALL TO HIM GOES ALL THE GLORY!!!!!!

It really should be a reality tv (trying to bring in some humor - can't stay sappy for too long). 

The next morning the birth mom texted us to wish Ben a Happy Father's Day - and in her humor she said "You are welcome :)" She then again expressed that she was still beyond good with everything and so grateful to have met us. 

I went to her room that a.m. to spend some time with her. It was lovely. Her mom followed me back to our room to see Thatcher and hold him. Our walk is one I won't forget - very much like my time with Lesa's mom as Lesa rested and we ate dinner. She was grateful, expressing her continued support and telling me her daughters love for us. It was exactly what I needed. As a woman, I could not do what she did - it's hard knowing we are connected to that pain and loss. So to hear that she knows its hard - she also truly believe it what God wants and she wants to be obedient to Him. 

Birth mom and I continued to talk through the day until she was released. 

I went to her room one last time to pray over her. She was stunning, thin and moving aroung. God is good - He was holding her up. I got choked up being able to see - what all of my friends were praying for...her speedy recovery. She even mentioned she could tell people were praying for her.

I prayed, we wept and we embraced. 

I lost it on my way back to my room. Nurses looked concerned but also aware I was the "mother" of the BUFA baby (Baby Up For Adoption). 

The next day birth mom started her new job and made time to come up to the hospital to complete the rest of the papers we needed to go home and start adoption process. She was going out of her way to make sure all was set right for us. It is God. She wanted to know how he was doing and how we were adjusting and even how Pax responded. Her compassion and tender care towards us is mind blowing. 

Even now we talk throughout the day and plan to meet up later this week. I just adore her and I'm so grateful she has Lesa to walk with her in the next phase. She is seeking professional counseling and journaling all of it...possibly (what Lesa's says) a "Love Connection Part 2"....oh dear. 

She still has not seen baby and doesn't want to see him till the adoption is final. Please pray for favor and abundant blessings over her. Pray God heals her emotionally and physically in Christ name. 

Today as I stare at my 4 day old - I laugh at the days to come. (Proverbs 31:25) - For we truly have no idea what a day holds and God knows all of it. So I choose to DAILY trust Him and FEED on His Word...

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

that paper - you hold it

This lesson was taught by my son this evening...I promise though the main actor is two years old - it is very much profound.

It starts and ends with a fire.

The last few weeks I've managed to live off of what I find and maximize what we already have in our possession. Whether it's to pay a bill, make meals for my family or build a fire pit in our new back yard. God has definitely been stretching us. I have found myself equally loving and hating the season God has us in. We literally ask God for everything we have and everything we need....daily. This coached dependence is stripping every fiber of pride (I did AND didn't know I had) from my spirit and refining me in a way I'd prefer to bypass.

I do wake up every morning in a bed I didn't buy and live in a home I didn't purchase and enjoy amenities I didn't work for. So to find myself seeming to be dissatisfied - does seem ungrateful and out of place. Just as God has provided in some areas - He has not (as I expected or made room for Him to).

God is good but I can't say He is all the time. Some times I'm unsure He's good - for the sake of seeing if after it's all said and done -- and when my expectations of Him aren't met -- that I still will choose Him and want just Him. (check out - "Even Now Somehow" message by Pastor Steven Furtick in his Expectation Gap series - spoke so specifically to our family). It's a message that God brought me to and one that I've been studying the last few days.

That's my back story for what proceeds.

Tonight, I finally enjoyed the firepit I had made from some bricks that came with the house, a few chairs my mom had lying around her wrap around porch and fire wood given to us by the most incredible neighbors.

The pit was lit. Then in the midst of my excitement - I heard it....the bells...of...the ice cream truck. I ran inside and grabbed the only sacred bill I keep in my purse (in case we ever have to have cash) - yelled for my son to "come on, let's catch the ice cream truck!" (I know I'm enabling - judge me later) and pushed open the back yard gate. We ran to end of the driveway and sat down to wait. It seemed close.

While we waited, my son sat on my lap instinctively and I decided to have him hold my ten dollar bill.

--then it happened.

I realized Pax had no idea what it was. He has not really had to connect the dots that one needs money to receive any thing.

He held it like any other piece of paper. Just like a boy of innocence and limited clarity - he crumbled it up and handed it back - saying "here ya go mommy, dat paper - you hold it. Ice tream truck where'd it go?" with his hands turned up to the sky. We heard the bells come and go down the streets but it didn't find its way at either of our own.

I resolved, "Well baby I don't think its coming."

"No toming ice tream truck?"

"No baby, let's go back to the fire and if we hear it we will come back."

"Oooohhh, bye bye ice tream truck."

As we walked back he says..."Mama I want you, hold me." (Melt me)

In all of my time with Pax - if you introduce something to him you need to also produce a result. But in this moment - God in all His grace showed me a physical representation of how He desires me to be with Him. 

He set the stage and played out exactly what He's been teaching me the last few days...I was honored He used my son (He gave me) and for me to be the audience. And like every good show - there's some take aways...lessons. 

God unveiled some truths to me...

To instinctively wait while sitting on His lap. Trusting Him to purchase all our needs (because He already paid for us) and not bothering ourselves with the details, all the finances, all the logistics, all the human whoas and worries. And when we don't experience what we expected to happen (when our "ice tream truck" doesn't show up) being just as satisfied walking back "empty handed" of some thing or things but holding the hand of someONE.

I just love how relatable and honest and NOT SO SUBTLE He is.

All this continued to process as we grabbed popsicles from the freezer (my idea) and enjoyed the rest of the fire and look at the first of the stars.

As much as I'm excited and certain - it convicts and I find my flesh scared - this teaching is so clear and repeated - that I know I'm going to have to walk through something deeper than what I've been walking through and that I think is hard enough. I'm sure it isn't ready to relent...yet.

My hope at the end of this season is that I find myself still holding His hand - beyond satisfied with just that. The truest Fire of my soul.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Removing the Comforts - To Prove He is OBVIOUS

...stay where you are. You are making decent money and having to work very little. You love your job and the people you work with. You are crazy to walk away from a position at a place most stylists would kill for. What are your guest going to do? They aren't going to understand. What about those that come to you to get spiritually refreshed. How will you be able to minister to them? This isn't ideal in an economy ever shifting. How will you pay all your bills? And have extra for fun shopping sprees? Your kid is going to miss out on so many luxuries. How are you suppose to pay off the rest of your debts when you have no job? What kind of mother quits work, risks her kid's financial welfare and plans to move to another country with no means to get there? Don't you have a mission trip to pay for? What if you can't pay it? You're gonna look like a big fat fool. Work isn't going to understand. What if you leave saying you're going to do all these big things - People won't make sense of it. Some in the church already think you're a bit too zealous - even those that were suppose to have your back. You're too much. Too zealous. Too random. Too adventurous. Too off the cuff. Overboard.

Little did I know a few months ago that these questions would be dominating my mind.

December, I felt the process was beginning. Ben and I were going to be ready for it. I felt this sense that the atmosphere was changing. My sign to go would be when things were changing. The irony was I love change - especially if it's beneficial. I would hear, "Be still." And in response, I would say,"Just let me know when and, Lord, I will go." Not knowing at all what that looked like or what I was really telling God. But we'd committed that we were taking God at His Word.

January, I asked again. Daily I would hear, "Be still."

February 5th - as we are picking up breakfast for the church staff - unexpectantly. I heard, "It's time." I honestly thought God meant this whole time that He was gonna sell our house that day and direct us to the airport and we'd be living on a prayer and go. I'm good with that. But as I ate my delicious donut and talking with my little family before heading to the church - I had this sense the whole time - I had stepped into something that's going to require more enduring faith.

A few days later - I discovered things most definitely changing but not at the place I expected. Change was happening at my job. Requestioning God - making sure my spiritual hearing was correct - Was this what God meant? I was afraid for a minute - texting some girlfriends for prayer - then sensing this peace - this change wasn't meant for me. Where others were obviously disenchanted and fearful - I didn't emotionally invest - I would be talking to the owner soon enough and get the facts - then maybe I would have more clarity. As the days approached to talk to her - there was confirmation EVERYWHERE. In the books I was reading, what I was hearing God say as I sat still - in all the messages I was hearing, what was coming out of my friends mouths...what Ben was saying. I was to quit my job. I knew it was God because of what came next.

Fire within the deepest parts of my soul. Justice for orphans, safety for those never offered protection, for God to be obvious, for a broken world to be exposed to a Holy-EVER-PRESENT-God-Who-SEE-US. He was undoubtly calling me out. I am not capable - I am not qualified. I have NO way of doing this on so many LOGICAL levels. This was NOT the time to be quitting a job I love, getting paid well in and feel fulfilled in doing. AIN'T NOBODY GOT TIME FOR THIS.

This all written to be a testament of God's faithfulness.

I'm not capable, but I am willing.

I step out of comfort and certainty - into the uncertain.

I step out of my light - into His.

Just give us Jesus.

The past few days of digging and seeking God's face - I've walked away with these truths.

Satan is a liar. And will give us the spirit of Discouragement. Keeping our eyes off a Father that is more than capable.

I have learned that: God is a God-Who-Sees-Me. (Genesis 16:13) While we may think we don't have enough time, money, resources, or know how for the task, God will use what we have. It's important to remember this, because otherwise we may be convinced that our contribution will be so small, insignificant, even inconsequential, that we decide to do nothing. (Undaunted by Christine Caine) Whoever saves one life saves the entire world. (Schindler's List) We are hear to be a light, set on a hill, exposed, bringing out the God colors in the world. By opening up to others - we compell others to open up to our Generous Father in heaven. (Matthew5:14-16 MSG) When Jesus died and rose again and gave us His Spirit - HE MADE US NECESSARY. (Isaiah 60:1-2 NKJV) All this Jesus loving with no ones life being changed by your faith - is as good as DEAD. (James 2:26) That Jesus is life-giving and the devil is life-sucking - So when I battle thoughts in my mind - say a loud 'no' to the devil and a silent 'yes' to Jesus and fill my mind with truth.

Logically my situation doesn't make sense. My family is called to live by faith. We are called to take God at His Word. That ALL will see that HE very possible and able. (Matthew 19:26).

"In the world you will have great tribulation." Jesus promised (John16:33 NKJV), and added, "but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

We're called to show the world HE IS ABLE. To the unbeliever and the believer. The odds are stacked against our God dreams. But like Joshua and Caleb & David - Ben & I see God's ability and not the giants. Let the stone slinging begin. Let God be OBVIOUS and us in a servant's position toward the ALMIGHTY.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Love "Advent" Tree - A Family Tradition Established

Put on your love goggles - drink the red kool-aid - smell the roses & feel the love.

Being an inspiration is what I'm fueled by. I want to be an inspiration under the covering of Jesus - giving Him all the glory. I want people to be inspired. First my family, then others. 

As a new family. Est. in 2006 - When Ben & I married & expanding in 2011, by the birth of our son, Pax -- I want to start some family traditions. Correction I want to intentionally start some valuable Kingdom minded traditions. That my son will carry on to his Bride & children.  

I wasn't raised to celebrate holidays - so I didn't know what an advent tree was until this year...10 days before Christmas. 

I've always loved Christmas - but if I may still be 'Christian' can I say - Valentine's Day is by far my favorite of all the over-commercialized holidays! The western celebrated and over-commercialized holiday has gotten a bit of a bad wrap - namely that people capitalize on a culture taking one day to celebrate the ones we love - when, in fact, we should honor them all year. I could argue that most of my Jesus denying family celebrates Christmas - doesn't mean they are focusing on the true meaning. Nor does it mean we shouldn't take the day to at least recognize the birth of our Saviour - even though technically he wasn't born in December. It does give the church an opportunity to reach the lost as they usually come to visit in December and April (which the church should mean serious business during this time - as we are in the soul saving business) and a chance to talk about Jesus without getting disowned...completely. 

Valentine's - poor day gets a bad rap. But I have always loved it (single or not) and even more so after I accepted Jesus as my Savior my senior year of high school. 

Advent - by definition, means the coming or arrival of someone important. 

Valentine's was historically known to be started by an early Christian, Saint Valentinus. He was imprisoned for performing weddings and ministering to Christians who were persecuted under the Roman Empire. During his imprisonment, he was said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Before he was executed he wrote a farewell to that girl, signed "from your Valentine." (resourced by Wikipedia)

Knowing the general basis of this - I've fallen in deep endearment to this upcoming holiday. 

As believers aren't we suppose to model the true love of Christ? Isn't He real LOVE? Though I buy into all the Valentine's propaganda - I even more buy into the belief that I've formed for myself - that the church should model the love this world is missing. This lost world is making for themselves idols that can't meet their needs and satisfy the hole that only the Lord can fill. The LOVE He bought for us by the blood sacrifice of His son. The truest gift.

And I love where Valentine's falls. Right in the MIDDLE of Christmas & Easter. He was born & celebrated (Christmas) - He lived & loved others with His life (Valentine's) - He died and rose again (Easter)... How are you liking my sales pitch?

And if the Lord told us it was good that he die and be with the Father. "For we will do even GREATER things than he did..." (John 14:12)

Shouldn't we use this opportunity to pray for others, love others in HUGE ways different from how the lost love them,  and believe God publically by laying our hands on our sick friends and family and unashamingly pray for the healing of their bodies - giving God the credit. And shouldn't we feel just as compelled to celebrate the TRUE LOVE of God - Our TRUE LOVE. 

So our Family Love Advent Tree was birthed. I'm still not a 100% done with it but it looks like this: 

I'm still developing some of the activities and have to buy the gift cards to two of the days. The 'tree' consists of 14 'activities'. From going to get 'fro-yo' - to writing and making things to mail our sponsored kids in Africa - to celebrating Pax birthday - to writing a love letter to an extended family member - to showing some love to our church staff/Pastors - to making cookies - to committing a big love act for a friend or family that we believe God will show us - to memorizing 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 as a family (obviously Pax is highly intelligent and we have no doubts he will nail this).. 

I want Pax to grow up learning to serve. To put God first and then others. Ben and I want our family values to reflect, in the best way we can, how good God has been to us. To represent Jesus' life & what he meant by GREATER. 

We want LOVE TO WIN.

So we celebrate 'the coming of God's love to His people' - with our Love Advent Tree. 

Maybe this will prompt you to do the same. I don't care if this idea is stolen - I think it's a beautiful idea that has the ability to catch fire. AND I know you and your family with have fun making and participating. 

I encourage you, with or without a 'tree', to celebrate LOVE. 

"And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength." Deuteronomy 6:5

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

'We are all meant to SHINE...'

I've always loved the movie Coach Carter. I'm attracted to the life this Coach led - dispite the disapproval of so many people in such an obviously hopeless part of California. He saw and believed truth. Yeah, Yeah. Blah Blah. 

However, I don't take the history of his choices lightly. I'm called to inspire others. 

Three years ago, at my second 'MOTION CONFERENCE' - a youth conference Ben and I took our youth group to - I asked God what His truest calling was for this life He gave me. In one word - He answered me & gave me a vision of what my life looked like if I let Him use me that way. He's still teaching, challenging and convicting me, but I'm certain He has called me and placed a unique anointing on me (as He has one for everyone) to....


You may already "know" this quote - but I encourage you to read it to it's entirety. 

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness
That most frightens us.
We ask ourselves
Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small
Does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking
So that other people won't feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine,
As children do.
We were born to make manifest
The glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us;
It's in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
We unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we're liberated from our own fear,
Our presence automatically liberates others."

Marianne Williamson was inspired by the Lord when she was quoted saying this. She gave the credit of these words to God. 

Not only is this quote spoken by an actor in "Coach Carter", one who played the most troubled kid on the coach's team. It was also a quote my high school english teacher/soccer coach & personal mentor - asked me personally to memorize. 

I believe God allows the things in your life to equip you for other seasons you soon enough will experience...bettering you to embrace all the Promises He gives along the journey. This quote is one of the many times the Lord was equipping me to understand I was called to challenge others to see things differently - try new things and BE AUTHENTIC.

I love when she says "Your playing small does not serve the world...." My biggest pet peeve - in the entire world (minus being chased & tickled) is when others don't even try. When they forfeit their identity to embrace the identity of our culture. I'm sick of photo copies. They aren't attractive and lack the creativity of the God of our Universe. It's insulting. God's better than that, and He's calling a generation to be better than that. For "we were born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us."


"it's not just in some of us; it's in everyone."

As we daily, obediently and authentically live out our jouney as He has designed us to be..."we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

God has sent us to be a light. Replacing the spirit of fear that every other person buying into the photo copy culture has - and giving us the spirit of POWER - LOVE AND A SOUND MIND. - 2 Timothy 1:7

"As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence....(that's my favorite - our presence that has the  Holy Spirit living inside us) automatically liberates others." Not our words - but through our puriest, Holy Spirit driven, faith-full actions we can LIBERATE others.

In Jesus' name. 

My sweet friends - Take it one faithful, obedient day at a time.