Tuesday, August 2, 2016

thoughts on Left Behind and the passing of Tim LaHaye

Wow, I haven't been on this blog in forever!! I wouldn't even be on here unless I had started a Facebook post that went to memo on my phone, that then went to this blog post once I realized the length was better suited for this format. I kinda didn't want to post on here, because I'd love to revamp my blog and I hate for everyone to see it in its shabby state, but since that won't be happening until I get into a season where I can write more consistently, here I am.

I have listened to Christian contemporary music for pretty much my whole life, but if you read enough blog posts and listen to enough people, you begin to reject the entire genre as shallow, basic, and meaningless in the life of a "mature" believer. Well I recently went back and decided to listen to the music I grew up on and was pleasantly reminded  that the majority of the stuff I enjoyed was firmly rooted in Scripture, theologically sound, and very edifying. While there were definitely songs that had questionable meaning and pointless repetition (how many times do you need to say "yeah" in a Christian song??), for the most part the music consistently pointed me to Jesus, His attributes, and how to look and live like Him. I was convicted that I had allowed others' passionate stances (though sometimes correct when speaking of specific songs or artists) to shape my view of a genre that God was clearly using to bring glory to Himself. (Sidenote: I don't listen to much Christian contemporary music these days, so I can't speak for much of what is on the radio now, but I know that in my formative years, the stuff I was hearing on the radio was mostly solid.)
Tim LaHaye (left) and Jerry Jenkins,
coauthors of Left Behind series.
Photo courtesy of Google Images.

If you're following that train of thought, let's move on to what this post is about, which is Left Behind. Tim LaHaye, the coauthor of the Left Behind series recently passed away, and hearing about his death moved me. Shamefully, I second guessed posting anything about him on my Facebook page. Allowing the fear of man to take preeminence in my thoughts, I turned over and over in my mind what people in my current circles would think of me if I showed my support of one of the main men behind the best-selling and controversial Left Behind series. Various blogs and Facebook posts that I'd read over the past few years came to mind, all written by believers who scorned the book series and often the men behind it. Similarly to my example with the music, over time I allowed others' views to shape the way I recalled even my own personal experiences, and soon I pushed to the back my mind and then forgot altogether the impact the Left Behind books had on me.

So before The Babylon Bee decides to satirize Left Behind, and before I begin to see negative comments that will discourage me from saying anything at all, I would like to share some (mostly) positive thoughts of how the Lord used these books in my own life growing up. Now, I would like to be clear before I start: though I was once a dedicated reader of all things Left Behind, I no longer encourage the reading of these books. Though what you'll find here is a predominately positive perspective of my experience of how the books shaped my thinking growing up, as you read further on I will explain why I now have a differing view.

Photo courtesy of Google Images.
As a kid, I read nearly all the Left Behind Kids books. There are 40 of them, ya'll. FORTY. I was a young believer and hungry to get in as much of the Word in whatever form I could. From the time I became a Christian, I knew I believed every word of the Word, yet I struggled to understand so much of it. If I was skimming over the book of James because I couldn't understand how faith and works reconcile, you better believe I was nervous about trying to figure out Revelation.

Though I would tell myself to skip over it, I simply couldn't resist reading this final book of God's Word. I was overwhelmed and amazed by descriptions of heaven, the future home of all Christians, those who have repented of their sins and have in faith turned to and believed in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. I remember frequently bursting into tears just thinking and reading about people from every tribe, nation, and tongue worshiping before the throne of our Almighty God for eternity (I am tearing up now just thinking about it!). I remember lying on my back in bed, closing my eyes, and literally giving myself a HEADACHE trying to imagine all of the glory that my finite human mind could not and cannot grasp about God and heaven. I was (and am!) humbled and amazed that a holy, perfect God has made a way for broken and unworthy people like myself to be in relationship with Him.

Now, bring in the Age of Left Behind. I don't remember how old I was when I started reading the kids series of Left Behind (early middle school, most likely), but I know that once I started, I was hooked. I thought, Finally someone could tell me [a fictional representation] of what all this stuff in Revelation means! 

I remember getting home from school once and seeing that my parents had gotten me one of the latest books. (Shout out the parents for fostering and encouraging my love of reading! I am cheesing now just thinking about my reaction that day. I was such a book nerd, ya'll.) My face lit up; a smile spread across my face. I absentmindedly kicked off my shoes, and my book bag hit the floor with a thud. I rushed to the kitchen counter and grabbed the book, scanning the bright yellow sticky note that my mom had attached. (I was probably supposed to do chores or something before starting it, but who has time for chores when you have a new book to read??) Once in the living room I dragged the heavy ottoman over to my favorite reading spot, the light brown, leopard-spotted easy chair that my parents own to this day. It had just the right amount of give when you sat down in it--not too hard, not too cushy. I curled up in the seat, and with bated breath, opened the book to enter a world incredibly different than the one I knew. And for all I knew, this was the world to come.

Now like I said before, guys, I was already an avid reader. When I get into a story, it comes to life in my mind, to the extent that when trying to recall it later on, I'll question whether I am thinking of a movie scene or of a book. But reading Left Behind was unlike my experiences with other books. These stories appealed to what I deeply desired as a young Christian: to understand the Word fully, with all mysteries revealed and to know how every line directly applied to me.

Somewhere in the 30s of the series, I started skipping around in the order of the books and eventually went straight to the end. I just wanted to know how it all ENDS!! To be honest, I don't even remember how the series ended. But what I clearly remember to this day are things that I felt--the things the books made me FEEL--as I read them.

I felt amazement at God. This human mind will never be able to fully understand the fullness of who God is, or be able to fully grasp His knowledge or attain His wisdom and understanding. It amazed me that the God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New, that He has kept and continues to keep His Word. What He says will be done, will be done. He always keeps His promises; He always fulfills His Word. While I know now that we're not all be on the same page about how the future will come to pass, the details in the books made me marvel at God and His attention to detail in all things, end times-related and beyond. Whether I understand all the details matters less than finding peace and comfort in the fact that He does know all the details, and He will complete His plan.

I felt confused. I didn't get how people were still becoming Christians in the books if the "age of grace'" had ended, in which there was supposedly no longer a chance for people to hear and believe the gospel. If people are able to get saved after the rapture, then maybe it would be better for me to not be saved right now, so that I can maybe be around to share the gospel with people who don't know it if the rapture happens soon! (If you've read the books, then this line of thinking makes total sense.) These were the thoughts floating around in my middle school brain. In a weird way, the books made me feel guilty for being a Christian now, versus during the post-rapture times of the characters. Man, I am getting confused again just writing this. Moving along...

I felt fearful. When is Jesus coming back? Am I really ready? Am I really saved? What if I get left behind? What if friends or family members get left behind? The fear that I am talking about here was not a fear of God that led me to rightly revere and stand in awe of Him. It is one that left me scared and uncertain and questioning everything, including whether God had really even saved me. There were times that I felt more anxiety than anticipation about the return of Christ. But by God's grace, in the midst of all that....

I felt hopeful. For all its flaws, Left Behind made me long for heaven, ya'll. Though I don't believe the series translated into a proper exegesis of Revelation and end times theology, the characters in the kids Left Behind books truly reminded me that Jesus is WORTH living for. Jesus is WORTH dying for. Jesus is WORTH losing everyone and everything because HE. IS. EVERYTHING. My middle school heart knew it, believed it, and wanted it Him! And as a little sidenote/stream of consciousness/rabbit trail, ya know, as a young believer I never quite understood how there can be Christians who are not joyful at the thought of spending eternity with God. I have encountered so many people that seem to falter at the thought of longing for heaven, throwing around phrases like, "Well, when you're too heavenly minded, you're no earthly good!" Well, I don't know about you guys, but when I read verses and sing songs about standing before God's throne, worshiping with His saints in glorified bodies for all of eternity, beholding the face of my dear Savior whose blood ransomed me,  I am hopeful! I am joyful! And even more than that, being reminded of heaven makes me want to serve God all the more while I am here on earth! In God's kindness He used the books to grow in me a greater longing to count all as loss for the sake of knowing Him. They made me want to know Him, and the power of His resurrection and fellowship of His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death. They made me want to spend whatever time I had left on this earth fully to the glory of God and in His service.

My understanding of the end times no longer quite aligns with what I once thought (i.e., Left Behind story line in general, with people evaporating as part of the rapture, literal interpretations of much of the imagery in Revelation and other end times prophecy, etc.), and because of that, I no longer encourage the reading of Tim LaHaye's Left Behind books. While God has certainly gifted so many people to be able to write about and dramatize certain lessons and themes found in His Word which can allow us to better understand and apply the truths found in it, I believe there is great danger when we attempt to take away all the mystery of God and His Word by trying to put it into a form that the human mind can understand. It is a natural thing to try to grasp and understand everything around us. We like to categorize and fit things into a neat little box that can be explained, but something that I have learned and am continuing to learn is that I will never be able to fully grasp the vastness and glory and beauty and knowledge of God and His (perfect and inerrant) Word. Even as I write this, this verse from Psalm 139 popped into my head, and I echo David's sentiments: Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain.

Another danger, and the main one that leads me to discourage others from reading these books, is that people can begin to form their entire view of what the Word says based on a fictional book. I mean, that's pretty much what I did. I wouldn't have said so, but I realized that as I would read portions of Revelation after reading through the Left Behind series, I would constantly be trying to matching the Bible up to the book, instead of the book up to the Bible. Trying to force man's imperfect thoughts and interpretations onto the perfection of God's Word is not the way we are meant to study and know the Bible. It is both unhelpful and unhealthy. It is best to form our basis of understanding and interpretation of the Word based on the Word itself, not other forms of literature. (That applies to other things too, like going to John Piper first instead of the Word when I want to research something...but I'm just preaching to myself here...) It is true that God can and does use flawed means to draw people to Himself, and I hope that He does do that for the people that will continue to read his books. However, just because God can use it for good does not mean that these are resources we should be pointing people to. The Bible is always the final authority and should therefore be the basis of all things we seek understanding on, both for this life and the next.

Final thoughts: I know many of ya'll are passionate about end times theology (which made me hesitant to write this at all), but before you try to engage me in any sort of debate using words like post- and pre-millennialism, dispensationalism, and more, please, just don't (and I say that with all the kindness in my heart). Remember those headaches that I said I would get when I though about heaven? I still get them. And when you start throwing words like that in there, you can totally expect for my brain to turn to a fog, my eyes to glaze over, and for me to completely zone out from the conversation. This is not to say that I will not study the Word and seek out some general understanding of where I stand on biblical eschatology. Revelation and other prophecy about the end times are in the Word for a reason! I am simply still learning (and open to resources you may want to share!). And wouldn't ya know, there are many awesome, gospel-believing, gospel-preaching, and gospel-living people out there who have varying views on how it all goes down at the end, but the one thing we can all agree on though is that JESUS WINS. He WINS! And He reigns! He IS coming again (come soon, Lord!). I wholeheartedly agree with this quote by John Piper: "Let me stress that the disagreement over pre- and post-tribulationism is not one that I think should threaten our fellowship. It should not be divisive. The things on which we agree are so stupendous as to overwhelm our hearts in common love for the Lord and His appearing. Let us not make the second coming a center of controversy, but a cause for worship and earnest hope."

I don't know much else about the man aside from the fact that he co-authored the Left Behind books, but from what I do know, I believe that Tim LaHaye is in heaven with Jesus right now. And as a fellow believer, we should have some measure of grace for him, whether we agree with his end times views or not.  For whatever he may have wrong, he got the basics right. He believed in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus on behalf of sinners, and that all who repent of their sins and turn to Him in faith will be saved. His faith was evidenced by the life he lived, and what a glorious place he is in now. As for the rest of us? - Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful!

Surely, He is coming soon.

Come soon, Lord Jesus!


Helpful Resource:

Bible Bootcamp on Revelation - It's basically an accelerated study through the book of Revelation. The link is just the outline, but hopefully the audio will be added soon!

Song for Thought:

The Millennium by Shai Linne - Fun fact for ya: This song is the first time I EVER heard or realized that not everyone thinks the same way about the end times. Crazy, right? It is also what got me started on wanting to study and learn more about what the Bible says on the topic.

If you have helpful resources to suggest, feel free to share!


Thursday, September 3, 2015

one year, one month, and one day later...

It has been exactly one year, one month, and one day since I last published on this blog. I say published vs. wrote because I've started a few posts and never got around to finishing them to share with you guys. It is simply incredible how quickly time flies by and the amount of things that can happen in this span of time.

The hubs with brand spankin' new Benaiah.
The last time you heard from me I was 28 weeks pregnant with my little boy. Well, let me assure you, he has been out of the womb for quite a while now! ;-) My handsome little Chunkaman was born October of last year. His name is Benaiah Jude. Benaiah means, Yahweh builds up. He is now 10 months old and the amount of joy he has brought into our home cannot be summed up into a few sentences or even a few blog posts for that matter! Naomi and Benaiah get along really well the majority of the time. Chunka loves his big sister so much, and often tries to share his affection by tackling her and planting slobbery kisses all over her face and bites on her arms (thankfully he doesn't have teeth yet!). Since he's only 5 pounds lighter than her (he got his nickname for a reason), she doesn't always appreciate him tossing his weight around on her, but oftentimes she'll wrestle him right back. :)

2 year old Naomi and 9 month old Benaiah! I was caught red handed trying to climb on his sister. The way nearly every wrestling match begins. ;) Love watching the two of them grow up together!
Third -- due Christmas Eve!
I am chuckling to myself even as I type this next update because it's going to sound so crazy!! But trust me, it's real. So you know you a year ago I was 28 weeks pregnant? Well, right now, as of today, I am 24 weeks pregnant with baby #3!! Now I know most of you who get my posts have known this for a while now, but of course I had to share with the world wide web. ;) I am literally shaking my head and smiling because it's just crazy to think I'll have kids so close in age!! I am due Christmas Eve 2015, and when this little one arrives I will officially have three kids under the age of three. The hubs and I have clearly been keeping busy, in more ways than one haha. ;) We are looking forward to Third (as we affectionately call him/her--we're keeping the gender a surprise!) arriving in 4 short months. So far baby is super active. I have been feeling and seeing kicks much, much earlier than my first two pregnancies. I am tired pretty much all time, due in parts to the fact that I have a two year old and a ten month old, I regularly forget to take my vitamins, plus I'm pregnant! Ha. But I had barely any morning sickness which is definitely the Lord's kindness to me.

Our pregnancy announcement for Third.
Me and my 10 month old Chunka -- He was giving me love bites ;)
Our family!! The Lord is so kind.
There is so, so much more that I would like to share, and Lord willing I will be posting on here more frequently! Some things you can be looking forward to are Benaiah's birth story (I'll probably share that around his first birthday--ahh!!), what we have been up to as a family, how I've been growing spiritually, what I'm reading, and of COURSE what I'm eating (nope, haven't changed a bit!). :) Here's hoping for much more consistent blog posts in the future!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

week 28 of pregnancy:::::hello, third trimester!

So much for writing every two weeks or so! More like every two months... At this rate my next post will be after my little cub is born!! Oh well. This has been a pretty busy summer, and blogging just got put on the back burner. Plus, it was easy to take weekly pictures of my belly when I was pregnant with Naomi because I didn't have a little one (her!) to chase around yet. Now my phone is filled with pictures of her and hardly any of myself. Which is perfectly fine, except when I actually want pictures of myself to document for my sweet boy. Oh well.

So I'm currently 28 weeks, 3 days, and it has been an interesting start to the third trimester! (Yes, you read that correctly: THIRD TRIMESTER. Where in the world did the time go!?) This past Thursday, the hubs and I officially decided to switch healthcare providers. So if all goes according to plan (work with me, baby boy!!), we'll be having baby #2 in a birthing center instead of the hospital! I am really excited about this, as I have been struggling with anxiety over being the hospital again... (another post, another day...maybe). The anxiousness is still something the Lord is working on me about, and it's a constant surrender to Him. All things for the good though, right?

So I guess I'll get to the questions about the pregnancy progress. Since it's been so long since I last updated, I don't know that I'll actually catch up on the entire past 8 weeks. I'll see what I can do though. :-)
How Far Along: 28 weeks, 3 days. 12 weeks to go!!
Total Weight Gain: I think about 7 pounds...crazy, right!? I feel like it's got to be more than that. More than likely, the weight gain will end up being the same as last time and I'll just pack on the pounds at the very end. 
Maternity Clothes: So I've really got to invest in some maternity shorts, because the way I have to finagle myself into the current pairs of shorts I have is absolutely ridiculous. I remember one day when there was this outfit I was looking forward to wearing. I put it on and felt like someone had just zipped me into a wet suit that was three sizes too small. (At least, that's what I imagine a wet suit would feel like...) I didn't feel like changing after all the energy it took to put the outfit on, but from simply walking from my bedroom upstairs to the living room downstairs to trying to sit on the floor, I became short of breath. Too...*gasp*...tight!!!!! So I struggled back up the stairs into something less attractive but much, much more comfortable. The moral of the story is... I need to stop trying to fit my pregnant bod into my non-pregnancy clothes.
Stretch Marks: (So I'm just gonna copy and paste from last time, guys...) The ones from last time are just slightly more visible since my stomach is growing. I can't really tell if I have more or not. I'm just trying to keep the belly moisturized to hopefully prevent getting any more than I have to!
Sleep: My little cub does not want me to sleep. But I always feel so tired! So it's rather sad. Just last night I was laying in bed wondering why he was choosing that exact time to practice martial arts in my belly.
Best Moment of This Week: If I remember correctly, Thursday was probably the best day this week. I was able to have some super edifying fellowship with two other moms and all our kids were able to play together while we chatted. The Lord is so timely and true to His Word, and I'm so thankful for the reminder and encouragement I got from that time! Later in the day, the hubs and I went to the birthing center for the first time this pregnancy, and I was so excited about the experience there. We were there nearly 2 hours (mostly from time with the midwife), and it wasn't like your typical doctors office visit. The rest of the evening was pretty exhausting, but that's okay. Oh yes!! Another moment was when Jeremiah was changing Naomi's diaper. She all of a sudden developed a bad diaper rash that was really bothering her, so she was bawling her eyes out during the diaper change. I wasn't in the room, but I could hear the hubs comforting her while he changed her. Then when he was done, he began singing "I Feel Better" from Doc McStuffins to her! He loves his baby girl :-) 
What I Miss: Same as last time, guys....Fitting all my clothes! Except now there are even more things I can't fit. Alas. The sis in law actually gave me some stuff she was giving away, so there are a few things I've been able to add to my wardrobe (skirts...elastic waistbands ftw!) I just can't bring myself to spend a ton of money on maternity stuff though!! grrr... I'll stop now, since this isn't the maternity clothes section.... Oh, I also miss sleeping on my belly, and being able to turn over in bed without feeling like I have to pick up my stomach with my hands. lol. Oh and not having to pee every 10 minutes. Okay, that's all. 
Baby Movement: I've got an active one, ya'll!! Even though I've been feeling my little cub move for months now, I still am shocked by many of his movements. I can definitely see his movements, though I wish I could distinguish what body part of his that I'm seeing! I love the hubs being able to feel and see his son in my belly though. :-)
Craving: My cravings still fluctuate quite a bit. When I want something, I really want it, typically not for long though. For example, I really wanted to make these meatballs that my best friend, Nikki, had been raving about for the longest. So I got the recipe from her mom and all the ingredients, but due to being really busy I had to put off making it for days. By the time I made them, the craving had passed :-( I ended up giving the whole meal to my family since the hubs is picky and doesn't eat meatballs lol. They loved them, thankfully. Right now, I'm wanting some curry chicken and roti, and I'm hoping I can convince my older sis and her hubs to make some for me soon :-) I've been liking Burger King's fries lately, but only if I have ranch dressing to eat them with. Weird, I know.
Queasiness: I only seem to feel queasy when I don't eat when I should. And if I've waited that long to eat, I'm more than just queasy; I'm also moody/irritable and fairly antisocial. The cure? Feed me! And sleep seems to help. :-) 
Pregnancy Side Effects: I'm still having some strong Braxton Hicks contractions. When I have them, my chest tightens, head starts to hurt, and then when it passes, I'm pretty much back to normal. Labor prep, I suppose. Thankfully I'm not having as many as I was before because I've been doing much better with drinking fluids. I've been pretty tired lately, but it's hard to say if it's from the pregnancy only, or from having a busy summer and chasing around baby girl. :-) Probably a mix of both. 
Mood: Still soooo excited to meet my sweet boy! Whenever I look at how big Naomi is getting or some of her baby pictures, I just start looking forward to holding my little boy even more!! Love him to pieces already. I'm still praying through some anxiety I have about the postpartum period... I welcome prayers about that. I've definitely made progress though. 
Looking Forward To: "Mood" and "Looking Forward To" seem pretty much the same in my mind, but yes, I'm looking forward to my son's arrival, as well as starting to choose some things we need for him. We literally are starting all over again! We gave away the majority of Naomi's stuff as she grew out of it, so aside from a swing, changing table, dresser, and diaper pail, pretty much everything is needed. Even if hadn't given it all away, everything was pink anyway! We may be moving to another place, so we're looking forward to seeing if that works out for us. I mentioned last time that we'd like to travel to Texas as well as the beach, but this summer is flying by so quickly, it's hard to say for sure if that'll be happening! I'll keep ya'll posted though :-)

Hopefully I'll be able to post more frequently! I'm on my phone much more than I'm on my computer, but even though I have the blogger app, I can type soo much faster on the laptop, so I end up not posting much (clearly). But I have some recipes I can share, as well as my busy month of June, and some things the Lord has been doing in my life and in my family, so yeah, I hope I can make it happen soon. :-)

Here's the cherry on top to this post: an adorable picture of my snugglebug. :-) Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

it's a...... (week 21 of pregnancy)

I can't believe I've actually passed the halfway mark of this pregnancy!  Time is flying by much faster than when I was pregnant with Naomi. I think since I have her occupying the majority of my time, I'm not marking every single day and week that passes quite like last time.

Baby's due October 22, which was exciting to my brother because that's the day after his birthday. I was due in March last time, so now I'm enduring the summer heat in its entirety. So far it's not so bad, but it's also not officially summer yet. I love the heat typically, but while pregnant I feel like a little oven!

Okay I won't draw this out much longer.  I know all you really want to know is the gender of our newest little one. Let me clarify something for you guys though. We've known the gender for awhile now, probably about 10 weeks (yep, over two months!). At my first or second prenatal visit, we were filling out paperwork about which genetic tests we wanted to have done. I didn't have any last time, and we opted out this time as well. At least initially we did. We found out that one of the tests (can't remember what it tested for) could also find out the gender as long as I was at least 9 weeks along. As soon as Jeremiah heard that he didn't have to wait months to find out the gender, he was all over that idea. Me, not so much (lol), but I went along with it. At the time I was just dismayed that they'd need additional blood other than what they were already taking.  Plus I was dehydrated, so it took a reeeaalllly long time to get out what was needed. My arms were sore for weeks after that.  Other than that no-fun experience,  I truly am glad that we found out the gender early. Of course I'd be happy no matter what, but I had an extra squeal of excitement when I found out. :-)

Okay, okay, enough of the talk! Here's a pic from the latest anatomy scan, and it was re-confirmed....

IT'S A BOY!!!!

Can't wait to meet our precious little man. I know Naomi will be a great big sister to her little brother. :-)

I'm going to do posts either every week or every other week with pregnancy updates and belly pictures. It all depends on how much time I have and how I'm feeling! I'll use the same general format of questions as I did when I was pregnant with Naomi. Looking forward to sharing the last half of this pregnancy with you guys!

How Far Along: 21 weeks, 1 day.
Total Weight Gain: I have no idea... I definitely feel bigger at this time than I did when I was 21 weeks with Naomi, but since I don't own a scale it's hard to keep track.
Maternity Clothes: Since it's so warm, I can get away with wearing dresses most of the time. (Maxi dresses for the win!!) I've been wearing my maternity skirts and dresses from last pregnancy, but I haven't invested in any maternity pants. I'm just trying to stretch my shirts to be long enough to cover my unbuttoned (and sometimes unzipped...) jeans!
Stretch Marks: The ones from last time are just slightly more visible since my stomach is growing. I can't really tell if I have more or not. I'm just trying to keep the belly moisturized to hopefully prevent getting any more than I have to!
Sleep: I was having the WORST dreams during the first trimester, but thankfully I haven't been having as many bad dreams lately. I'll usually start out the night sleeping on my side, but I end up changing positions a lot. All in all though, I'm sleeping pretty well.
Best Moment of This Week: It's been a pretty ordinary week, but one thing that warmed my heart was in Bible study last night. We broke into small groups to pray, and when the woman I was with and I began to pray, 14 month old Naomi folded her hands and bowed her head! It's so exciting to see when things (especially spiritual things) are beginning to catch on. Now after a few minutes, she was trying to stick her binky in my mouth (I guess we were getting a bit long-winded for her haha). Such a sweet moment though.
What I Miss: Fitting all my clothes!
Baby Movement: My sweet boy moves around quite a bit, and I've been feeling him move for weeks now! I absolutely love it. I can even see his movements from the outside of my belly, which is awesome.
Craving: It changes all the time!! I'll be craving something and it'll be all I eat for two or three days. After those days are up, I'm absolutely sick of it and don't want to even see it haha. I can't say I'm craving anything in particular right now, though I have been eating quite a few chicken nuggets and taquitos lately...
Queasiness: Thank God, it seems like that has passed for good. Especially since I ran out of Zofran and I don't plan on refilling the prescription. (That stuff was AMAZING by the way.) Sometimes when I drink water on an empty stomach or while driving I'll get a little queasy though.
Pregnancy Side Effects: Braxton Hicks contractions started much sooner this time. I've been feeling them for weeks!! And they're more uncomfortable now too. I can definitely notice a difference in the amount of them that i have when I'm drinking enough liquids or not though. My skin hasn't been breaking out as badly as first trimester, but the damage is done :-( So long, clear skin.  
Mood: Anticipation! With a hint of anxiety, which I'm praying through lol. I am incredibly excited to meet my baby boy, but there are so many other changes that are (potentially) happening in our lives right now that will affect us so I'm just waiting to see what the Lord will do!
Looking Forward To: My son's arrival and some other decisions being finalized in our home/family! Also the BEACH, and hopefully going to visit my Grandma in Texas this summer so she can meet Naomi in person for the first time!

I'll be blogging again soon! Stay tuned!

Monday, May 19, 2014

redefining what a good day is

I would typically define a good day as a day that's gone my way. A day where things went according to plan or better than planned. A day without mood swings and when happiness abounds. Anything opposite that? A not-so-good, potentially bad day. My perspective has been challenged lately though.

When I say "lately", it's not like I haven't always known that what goes on in a day shouldn't necessarily define it as good or bad. When you grow up with verses like Romans 8:28 and Jeremiah 29:11 (respectively, the Husband and I's favorite verses), it's hard to forget that no matter what, God is in control and has a plan and even "bad" works for believers' good to the ultimate glory of God. With that being said though, I don't think I can honestly say that I have been living like I believe those Scriptures. So often I allow fear and worry to consume my thoughts, and then after the fact I remember, oh yeah, God's got this.

The Bestest (aka my best friend, aka Nikki, but we'll just stick with the Bestest) gave me a book a while back. It's called 1000 Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp. I simply cannot give a description of the book that would do it justice; it was just that challenging and amazing. But one thing I really pulled from the book is this: "All is grace." That phrase is repeated all throughout the book, and my summary of it is basically you count EVERYTHING (good and bad) as joy because God is ALL good; therefore, ALL is grace and worth giving thanks for.

I love this verse from Isaiah 14:

"The LORD Almighty has sworn, 'Surely as I have planned it,
so it will be, and as I have purposed so it will happen.'"

Reading this, it's clear that nothing happens outside of the sovereign knowledge and power of the Lord, and all that happens is for the ultimate best, which is His glory and magnification.

So where am I going with this, you ask? Well I was reading my Bible one morning in Psalm 16. Verse 2 really stood out to me:

I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord;
apart from you I have no good thing."

In the margins near the verse, at some point I had written these words: "My goodness is nothing apart from You!" and "God is more than good; He is the ULTIMATE good!!" When did I forget this? Somewhere along the line I once again began defining my days by what I thought was good, not on the God who defines good.

This is my challenge, to myself and you: when you come to the close of your day, or throughout your day as things arise, don't look at it and think, Because this happened/didn't happen, my day is good/bad. Instead, have the perspective that everything in my day happened in the knowledge of Almighty God and because it will work to my good and His glory, I count it as grace and thus praise Him for it! 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

mother's day 2014

Happy belated Mother's Day to all the moms and mom-figures out there! I had such a wonderful 2nd Mother's Day. I am sooo blessed with an amazing mom. God was gracious to give me a mom who is in love with Him, and she is a great example of loving her husband (my daddy!) and children. It is such a blessing to have her as Naomi's Nana also! Annnnd, this Mother's day I'm happy to say that not only am I the mom to Naomi, but also to and another little one on the way!! I'll be 17 weeks on Wednesday. I know I keep saying that everything is a blessing, but really, it is a HUGE. BLESSING. to have another little one joining our family in October!
My little cub at about 8-9 weeks old.
The hubs got everything ready for church the night before (we should really do that more regularly...), and I got to sleep in a bit longer than usual. I woke up to a squeaky clean kitchen and living room (yes!). He had me come downstairs while he made me breakfast. I had mentioned the day before that I'd like a breakfast sandwich, so that is what he made! I wish I would have taken a picture! It turned out super yummy from someone who rarely makes breakfast. Hehe. I sooo enjoyed watching him make it for me. Love that man so much! He had some cards laid out for me on the living room table so I opened my first one while I ate.

Naomi wore a pretty yellow dress that I fell in love with a month or two ago. I saved it just for Mother's day I was happy to wear a new dress that the hubs got me a few weeks ago. Love it! Yay for maxi dresses and warm weather. While pregnant, maxi dresses are also called miracle dresses. When I wore it, you could actually see a little belly! Sometimes I show a lot, and other times I just look like I ate a big meal, not like I'm pregnant. Anyways. I felt lovely either way! Hubs looked handsome as usual, and while we didn't match, we kinda coordinated! 
Fast forward to church. Service was good, and I especially loved the hubs teaching in the adult Sunday School class, which he's doing for the whole month. After church my "leetle seester" Erin took some pictures of us on the grassy area behind the school where we meet for services. They turned out soooo amazing!! They were better than I thought they would turn out given the fact that Naomi wasn't too into the photo session lol. Once we left, we ran off to a couple stores to get some picture printed to give to my mom with her cards. She loved them so yay!
Three generations!
We ate some Chinese food at my parents' house, which was awesome because I'd been craving it for a while. The only Chinese food place in VA that I really like is by my parents' house, and the hubs and I live well out of delivery range. Since we're both pretty picky about our Chinese cuisine, it's super rare for us to eat it. Oh, and I also could have settled for some chicken fried rice from this Chinese place in Miami, but that wasn't exactly an option, hehe. Anyways, it was fun hanging out and eating with the fam, as well as opening cards. I got some very nice ones from everyone! Naomi was fun to watch as she interacted with her uncles and Nana and Grandpapa. Great time! (Again: why. did. I. not. take. PICTURES!!?! alas.)
The hubs and I stopped at home for about 30 minutes to relax and pick up a few things before heading to King Street. (Yet another place no pictures were taken...) Aside from heavy smoke in some areas as well as some...questionable things we saw, it was a really great time. Being there brought back so many memories of when we would hang out there while dating, and it was nice to go there with our growing family.

I truly had a great, GREAT day! It was an amazing start to the week. So blessed!

Monday, May 12, 2014

no facebook: day 1

I've known for a long while that I needed a Facebook break. I love having one and keeping up with people's lives and allowing them to keep up with mine. After a while though it can easily get out of hand and out of moderation. There have been times that I would click on Facebook as soon as I was on my phone when I got up in the morning. When I would go to make a call or send an email or check my calendar, I'd find myself on Facebook instead, and whatever I'd actually gotten on my phone for would be forgotten. Plus, there really is a such thing as seeing too much of people's lives. When something like social media isn't kept in proper place and priority (low), especially in relation to spiritual life, it's easy to find certain un-Christlike attitudes and habits slipping in. Jealousy, comparison, procrastination, laziness, and concern for things of the world that don't even have current, earthy value let alone eternal value are just a few of the things I found popping up in my own life with greater and greater frequency. My walk with the Lord was greatly diminished, and with my priorities all out of whack I found that my real, in-person relationships were being negatively affected.

So. That's why I'm taking a Facebook break. Props to those who have their lives in balance and don't have to do this. For me though, it's essential.  Simply telling myself and others that I won't get on Facebook wasn't an option. I just don't have that sort of discipline yet. I literally had to deactivate my Facebook, delete the app, and cancel any emails from being sent to me. I plan on taking it a week at a time, but I'm really going to push myself to go longer. I am seriously impressed by those who don't allow social media to consume their lives in this technological age. This is what I'm striving for:  self discipline, proper priorities, genuine relationships in life outside of the internet.
Blogging is a perfect outlet to go to instead of Facebook. Part of the reason I stopped blogging and not following through with my goals for this blog is because I'd be writing, pause to think or something,  and find myself on Facebook. All that got me is quite a few unfinished posts. I know writing is something I want to be doing long term so once again, priorities.

I don't plan to write every day or even frequently about my Facebook break. This is just my jump start back into the blog world. And I'm not doing it for anyone else but me. My Lord, my husband, and my daughter are the reasons I make these changes, and I know that doing so has the effect of benefiting me!

This will definitely be hard because, no doubt about it, I'm an addict!!! Lol. The first day hasn't ended yet, and I can't begin to count the amount of times I've found myself subconsciously clicking where my Facebook app was. My Pandora app has replaced that spot though, so...yeah. We'll see how this goes! I am definitely renewing my mind with Scripture about self-discipline, and I'm encouraged by 1 Timothy 4:7b-8: "Train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come."

I'm excited to see how this goes! One thing I plan to start (once I get a new little notebook) is numbering daily blessings again. I used to carry a notebook around with with me everywhere, and I would count graces. It really made me more aware of the innumerable blessings God provides me with on a moment to moment basis. (Shout out to Ann Voskamp's book 1000 Gifts! :-)

Have you ever had to take a break from social media? For what reasons, and did you find it beneficial?