Thursday, December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas!

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas season is hearing the good news of Jesus being born proclaimed by Christians and non-Christians alike through Christmas carols. People of all ages know the story of Jesus coming to earth as a baby, even if only because they are singing about it 

Perhaps God knew that Jesus coming as a baby would make a longer lasting impression than a king coming to earth, like the Jews expected to see Him. If Jesus had come as a king, the people of that day would have treated him differently. The world's attention would be captivated by this "king" and every move He made, but would that wonder have remained through the decades and centuries to follow? If He had come as a king, my guess is that people would have looked back at Him as just another ruler who wanted to bring His way to the earth. Many men have made a resounding impact on history as a ruler. No one, except Jesus, has made a resounding impact because they were born.

Let me put it this way: If God has come in a big, grandiose way, perhaps the wonder of His coming that leaves people singing songs about it today wouldn't have mesmerized the world for years to come.

God knows how we as humans think. He knows that the unassuming birth of a baby in a stable - with miraculous happenings surrounding the birth - would captivate the attention of the world throughout all time.

Speaking of attention and fascination, last night Erik and I were reading Luke chapter 2, probably the most common telling of the Christmas story. After the shepherds were visited by the angels, this is what happens (verses 15-18):


And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.


I noticed that after the shepherds spread the news of baby Jesus, "all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds." 

They wondered and marveled at the news - but they didn't rush to see Jesus. I don't know if that happened or the Bible didn't include that part or it wasn't the culture of the day to visit new babies, but I got stuck on that last night. In my head, that "wonder" the Bible records could have been, "Wow, that's a great story!" or "Really? That's crazy!" and as soon as the shepherds left, "Wonder if that really happened!"

Did they chalk up the story to drunkeness or craziness on the shepherd's part? Shepherds were low on the totem pole of life in those days. Did they truly believe what had just happened? Maybe they did and they were truly fascinated, but I wonder if the news changed any of their lives. 

So I ask myself this: do the wonder and miracles of the Christmas story mesmerize me? If so, do I let that wonder transform my belief in God and remind me of His miracle-working power? Or do I just chalk it up to a crazy tale?

All that to say, may the glory of Christmas and the wonder of God's story truly fill your hearts and lives this Christmas season. 

Merry Christmas! 

Love, Erik, Laura, and Baby Brayden...


....and Tucker!



P.S. Last year, I wrote another post about Christmas that also explores the wonder of the Christmas story. If you're up for another read, you can read the full post here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

unanswered prayer

It's hard in our finite, limited knowledge to know what to do when we don't see our prayers answered the way we expect God to. Why doesn't God just give us what He says He will... healing, deliverance, financial freedom, etc.?

I don't know. I know enough Scripture to be dangerous and give you a bunch of rules and regulations - essentially a checklist for your prayers. Make sure you ask in faith, without doubt, with the right heart motive, etc. But God is not a checklist to be followed. You'll see variety throughout the Bible - even variety in the way He answers prayers. I think back to all the people Jesus healed and how every healing looked different. I think the same remains true today. Every healing and every answered prayer will look different. Sometimes it will look exactly as you had planned; other times it will be completely unexpected. I think it's important to seek God for yourself and find out what God wants you to do in each situation that arises.

I googled "unanswered prayer" and Garth Brooks' song came up (dear heaven, am I really using a country song again in my blog? What's happening!!). It's called Unanswered Prayers. The verse basically says that he and his wife were visiting his hometown and ran into his high school flame - the lady he had prayed God would let him marry. He quickly came to the conclusion he was glad he hadn't married her! The chorus goes:

Sometimes I thank God, for unanswered prayers 
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs 
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care 
Some of God’s greatest gifts, are unanswered prayers.

It reminds me that we have an idea in our heads of how our lives should turn out. In this case, that high school beauty queen was exactly who Garth wanted to marry - when he was 18. God knows, though, the whole story. He knows what we'll need at 18, 30, 50, and 76. He knows what other people will need from us. He also knows how the whole world works together and how our lives fit into the bigger picture.

And somehow if my little world crumbles because my prayers go unanswered once again, I should do my best to remember:

a) Isaiah 55:8-9 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." (a.k.a. God is smarter than me)

b) Galatians 6:9 "Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up." (a.k.a. Don't quit!)

When I don't give up - I keep living for God as best as I can while trusting Him to perform His Word - God will respond. It may not look exactly like I had planned (see point a) and I can almost guarantee it won't happen when I planned (see point a) but it doesn't give me a reason to quit (see point b).

It reminds me of one other song - a worship one by Rita Springer - that calms me when I hear it.


I don't understand Your ways
Oh but I will give You my song
Give You all of my praise
You hold on to all my pain
With it You are pulling me closer
And pulling me into Your ways

Now around every corner
And up every mountain
I'm not looking for crowns
Or the water from fountains
I'm desperate in seeking, frantic believing
That the sight of Your face
Is all that I need
I will say to You

It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it
It's gonna be worth it all
I believe this

You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it
You're gonna be worth it all
I believe this 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

my pregnancy story continues

I'm learning more and more that everyone has a story in life. Everyone has difficulties and things they will face that make up their story. Some stories are complicated and start early on. Some complications don't wrinkle stories until later on in life.

The crazy thing is that you will always (repeat: always!) be able to find a story that is "worse" than yours and one that is "better" than yours. The solution, I'm finding, is to take your story and make do with it the best you can. Don't compare your highs and lows to other people; just keep trucking along to live out the story that is your life. God knows your story; He knows other people's stories and He knows why you got the story you did and someone else got a different story.

I never realized how many different pregnancy stories there could be. Some people's story is infertility. Other people's story is miscarriages. Others yet, the baby doesn't make it inside the womb. Other yet, the mother's body doesn't carry to full-term all that well.

Each of these types of stories have victories and tragedies at the end. From adoption to full-term babies to miracle preterm births to who knows what else, happy endings are always a possibility. Unfortunately, the happy endings often start with heartbreak.

For me, the first pregnancy was great, and we didn't know there was a problem until too late. During this second pregnancy, we are aware my body is the one that has potential problems in going full-term. As a result, we've been able to take precautionary measures that have kept baby in until 34 weeks and 4 days--and counting!


It hasn't been easy. On Monday I went in with preterm labor, although I wasn't sure if it was a false alarm or what was going on. Thankfully, I did go in and they could stop the labor. They also gave baby a steroid that helps stabilize and build his lungs even quicker, in case he would come early. (Thank you, Lord, for all these technological advancements!)

Last night I ended up back in the hospital with questionable things going on. Turns out I got a huge infection common to pregnancy that somehow popped up between Monday and Thursday. I'm on an antibiotic now, and doing my best to rest well!

All that to say, baby and I are well. I'm tired. Baby's active, and we're both still truckin' to the finish line. Soon I'll be posting with pictures of our baby! I can't even fathom it. I'm sure I'll be crying many times in the future over my gratefulness.



Friday, December 9, 2011

today's top 5 (12/9/11)

1. 33 weeks 4 days, baby is still cooking! The countdown continues... three days until I'm 34 weeks along, two and a half weeks until the cerclage comes out, after which baby will be free to come when he wants. We're hoping for 38-40 weeks, which is four and a half to six and a half weeks away. Wow! I'm so grateful I'm this far along and baby is healthy. I'm glad I'm healthy and we only have a few more weeks of waiting. Thank you, Lord, for bringing me this far and that you'll continue to bring me and baby all the way to full-term!

2. Podcasts. Yesterday and today I listened to the same podcast message from Pastor John Hagee. It encourages me and reminds me that God is on my side. No matter what circumstances look like, God is stable and faithful and will bring about His deliverance and freedom in the end. A couple quotes I liked (I could literally copy down the first five minutes it was so encouraging!):
"Never rewrite your theology to accommodate a tragedy going on in your life."
"Fit your situation to the Bible and press forward to the destiny God has for you."

3. Friends. Okay this one often makes it on my top 5 list just because every time I see my friends, I'm grateful for them. :-) They make me smile and laugh; they give me a place to share my thoughts, and they take care of me. Thank you to my wonderful friends for being such a light and encouraging part of my life!

4. Laughter. So a week or so ago I was telling Erik something and starting laughing pretty hard at my story and Erik looked at me and said something like, "You've been cooped up way too long." Since then I realized that I've been laughing perhaps a little too hard at my own jokes! I think I've been holed up on the sofa so long just dealing with the regular ins and outs of our house life as well as a heightened sensitivity to this pregnancy... all that to say, I haven't been out much with people and I fully take advantage of any opportunity to laugh and sometimes it might be harder than the joke warrants, but laughter is wonderful and makes me feel good. :-)

5. Food! LOL... I just had an amazing piece of garlic bread (compliments of a wonderful friend who brought over dinner) and I love enjoying wonderful bits of goodness like that!

I guess I have a #6 today... it's Friday and that means we're heading into another weekend! Which means at the end of the weekend I'll be 34 weeks along... every single day and moment counts for my baby!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

God is always there

I'm a musician, so I connect with music pretty easily. Sometimes it speaks to me exactly what I need. Today, I've been thinking through this song. The video is below with the lyrics following. You may not have a chance to listen to the whole song, but I still think the lyrics will bless you. I highlighted my favorite parts. Have a great day!


 


I wonder how it must have felt
When David stood to face Goliath on a hill
I imagine that he shook with all his might
Until You took his hand, and held on tight

'Cause You were there
You were there
In the midst of danger's snare
You were there, You were there always
You were there when the hardest fight
Seemed so out of reach
Oh, You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So there he stood up upon that hill
Abraham with knife in hand was poised to kill
But God in all His sovereignty had bigger plans
And just in time, You brought a lamb

'Cause You were there
You were there
In the midst of the unclear
You were there, you were there always
You were there when obedience
Seemed to not make sense
You were there, You were always there
You were always there

So haven't I learned that my ways
Aren't as high as Yours are
And You alone keep the universe
From crumbling into dust
You are God and though we would
Not have understood you
There You were
Hanging blameless on a cross
You would rather die than leave us in the dark
Every moment, every planned coincidence
Just all makes sense
With your last breath

You were there, You were there
During history's darkest hour
You were there, You were there always
You were the Victor and the King
You were the power in David's swing
You were the calm in Abraham
You are the God who understands
You are the strength when we have none
You are the living, Holy one
You were, You are, and You will always be
the Risen Lamb of God

Friday, November 25, 2011

old writing + new revelation = good stuff!


I was looking through past writings of mine and found an old "tattle-on-myself story" that ending up working perfectly with what I was reading last night in the Bible. Fun how that works out! :-) 

---

The stove.

The dials for each burner are clearly labeled: front left, front right, back left, back right. Diagrams are next to each dial in case pictures work better for you than words. You’d imagine no one could get it wrong.

And then I walk up to it.

Before going further, let me make a disclaimer. While in school, a quarter without my name on the honor roll was like blue grass or purple skies. I graduated from college with honors and have held down a job within my field of interest since then.

To be more succinct: I’m smart.

But for some reason, when it comes to the daily tasks of life, my brain doesn’t always add 1 + 2 and get 3. Case in point: once I was making quesadillas for dinner and highly anticipating the smile on my husband’s face as he cleaned his dinner plate, grateful for an amazing wife who is thoughtful enough to prepare dinner each night for him.

The quesadillas were in the pan, heating up, as my husband played with our puppy. Five minutes pass, then ten. After twenty minutes, I was flustered and concerned. Every time I flipped the quesadillas, nothing changed. No golden brown touched the tortilla and the cheese wasn’t even melting - yet I could feel heat emanating from the stove. It was so strange!

I started to complain to my husband. “These quesadillas are taking forever! You’d think they’ve be done by now!” 

"Is the burner on?"

"Of course it is! I can feel the heat!"

Then it dawned on me. The heat was coming from the burner behind my pan, not the one underneath it.

After an “oops” slipped out of my mouth, I explained the situation to my husband with blushing cheeks. Dinner was ready 3 minutes later.

Sometimes the things we need most in life are right in front of us. For me, lately, it has been God’s faithfulness. I know God is faithful, and I have remembered it time and again over these past few years. But over the past few weeks, I’ve forgotten it. It's as though I moved my hopes and dreams from the burner of His faithfulness and grace to the burner of the circumstances I see. As a result, my hope and dreams were sitting there, inactive, not "cooking" as they should be.
  
according to google, this is a rampart! 
Thankfully, last night I read Psalm 91 and the last part of verse 4 stuck out to me: “…his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.” I then realized, when I find myself in God – think about Him, pray, am conscious of Him throughout the day – the reminder of His faithfulness actually can shield me from the situations I face.  I know He is faithful to His Word, truth, and love, and as a result, He will actually carry me through difficulty and bring me peace, no matter what situation I face. 

By the way, dictionary.com defines “rampart” as “a broad elevation or mound of earth raised as a fortification around a place and usually capped with a stone or earth parapet.”

Basically, the fact that God is faithful shields, surrounds, and protects me through every situation.

I love that.

So when your hopes and dreams aren't "cooking" on the stove as planned and you're ready to throw up your hands and give up, don’t get flustered and upset. Step back and remind yourself of what is right before you: God is faithful. When you place yourself in His care, He will bring you through the situation in a way that only He can.

today's top 5 (11/24) Thanksgiving edition!


Today's top 5... okay, top 6 

1. Thanksgiving meals. I love the blend of Thanksgiving dinner on my fork. If I can cram a little turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberries, stuffing, and maybe even green beans onto my fork all at once (or any combination of the above), I'm a happy girl. 
2. Thanksgiving while being pregnant. We celebrated Thanksgiving with my family on Sunday, so we've already enjoyed one Thanksgiving meal, and for the first time probably ever, I wasn't completely stuffed after eating a full plate of Thanksgiving food! I was shocked, but grateful for pregnancy. Especially when I asked for a small slice of all three of Grandma's homemade pies - pecan, pumpkin, and mincemeat. The blend of pies all together mixed with the fact that I wasn't overly stuffed from dinner made for an incredible cuisine moment. Ahhhhhh yum!
3. God. This is the ultimate top of my thankful list, but I am truly grateful for God. He oversees my life, directs it, loves me through it, and has an ultimate plan for me and my family that is good.
4. Family and friends. I am so grateful for every person and family who has reached out and helped us during this time of waiting for our baby. Thank you for helping us be cautious and keep baby safe during this pregnancy. I am grateful for the dinners, gifts, phone calls, cleaning help, dog help, errand help, and encouraging emails. We couldn't do this without your support; I wish I could do more than say thank you, but I don't know what it would be... so thank you!!
5. Blankets. I love a cozy blanket. I am surrounded by them on my sofa. Something about cuddling with a cozy blanket is amazing!
6. Family, part 2. Erik and I are blessed with wonderful immediate and extended families. From parents to grandparents to siblings and nieces to aunts, uncles, and cousins, we have an amazing family and I am blessed by each one of them.

Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Happy birthday, Brody!

Happy birthday, Brody! I hope Uncle Brian and Grandma Doris are throwing you a big party up in heaven! Okay, they might not be because you've probably just blinked and another year has passed on earth... oh the things about heaven and God's timing that we thoroughly don't understand here on earth!

What a year it's been, little boy of mine.

Since the time you met us and then met Jesus, I've been on bedrest for, well, pretty much half the year it seems! First, I rested because of you, but within about six months, I got to go on bedrest so your little brother, Brayden, wouldn't get to heaven as fast as you did. Hope you don't mind! ;-) (again, you'll probably blink in heaven's time and our whole family will be up there celebrating with you and Jesus!)

We miss you a lot. In fact, since Brayden is still in my tummy, we think about you and sometimes mix you and Brayden up. Yeah, we named Brayden after you and knew that we'd mix the names up, and we're doing a good job of it. But that's okay. Even though it is sad, I love remembering you. You're my precious firstborn.

We're about two months or less from meeting Brayden. I'm excited to see what he looks like. I do wonder if he looks anything like you! And I wonder how you look like us! If I get to heaven and you're a grown man like some people say happens in heaven, I want to see baby pictures. :-) Not sure if that's possible, but then again, with God, aren't all things possible?

Brody, you have a beautiful place down here where we can remember you. You actually share a grave and tombstone with your great great aunt - my Grandpa's mom miscarried a baby girl before he was born. You're right next to Uncle Brian and actually your tombstone looks a lot like Uncle Brian's. That's very special. You know all these people already because you're with them, but I just wanted to tell you that we visit you there when we can. (I really wish we could visit you today, but there's snow on the ground, and it will be slippery and a little hard to find you. I don't want to fall and hurt myself or Brayden at all!) As Brayden gets bigger, we'll bring him to visit you too, and maybe even release balloons to you - something special as our little way of connecting with you. I'm pretty sure that the balloons don't actually reach heaven, but you never know. :-) I can dream.

Brody, you've impacted your daddy's and my life in a really special way. You'll always have a treasured place in our hearts. Because of you, we now have influence in people's lives who we would never have met if we hadn't met you. Crazy. I'm so glad you're well taken care of in heaven, although I wish you could be down here instead hugging me, your daddy, Tucker, and little Brayden.

Oh and yesterday, Daddy and I were blessed with toys and blankets and clothes and all sorts of wonderful things for Brayden at our first baby shower. It made me think of you and miss you a lot.

I'll end with a quote from a friend whose baby went to heaven a few years before mine: "Most people only dream of angels. We've held one."

We love you, Brody. Happy 1st birthday. See you soon.

 

Friday, November 18, 2011

today's top 5 (11/18)

Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, it's a good day to do another top 5 things I'm thankful for today.

1. Chocolate sauce. I love me some ice cream, caramel, and chocolate sauce! YUM!
2. Hunting. My hubby gets to go outside and do what he loves, then he brings back meat that we eat right away or store in our freezer. I especially love when he gets a deer because he processes the meat himself so we get steaks, roasts, homemade bratwurst... all sorts of goodies that last throughout the year. I honestly can say after a few years of having my freezer well-stocked thanks to hunting I can't imagine living without venison in the freezer!
3. My leather sofa. It's been my pal for a good part of the last year! It's a recliner sofa and I've been grateful over and over that it's easy to clean and super comfortable. It has already been broken in plenty for Brayden!
4. Ice cream. Okay this goes along with #1, but there's something super wonderful about just a little bit of ice cream to brighten your day!
5. Optimism. Hopefulness and cheeriness and faith makes my world and hopefully the world a better place. :-)

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

today's top 5 (11/16)

Happy Wednesday! It's been a while since I've written what I'm thankful for today, so here we go. (By the way, I already have my main top five things I'm thankful for written here! These are just little or big things I'm thankful for today. Helps keep me grateful!)

1. Heat. Winter weather where I live is cold. Period. I'm very grateful for heat in my house!
2. Thanksgiving. I love the cozy feeling I get when eating a good Thanksgiving meal for lunch and leftovers for dinner while surrounded by my family. 
3. Maternity clothes. They make life a little easier when your belly keeps expanding. 
4. Family and friends. I know this is a main top five for me, but I do have to say, I am SO thankful for everything my family and friends have done to help me and Erik while I'm off my feet waiting for baby to come. Words really can't express my gratitude enough. Thank you. 
5. Pillows. Where would we be without comfortable pillows? We sleep on them, nap on them, I have my head on one or two pretty much all day long on the sofa... they're wonderful!

Oh and today I'm expanding it...
6. I'm 30 weeks and 2 days pregnant today. According to doctor's measurements, Brayden might even be a little ahead of that growth-wise, which is nice to know. I'm feeling much more confident that we'll have a healthy baby boy in January!
7. Brody. One year ago, we were in the hospital praying he would stick around in my tummy for just a little while longer. I'm sad he didn't, but he was a fighter to the end and impacted our lives forever. His birthday is Sunday, and I have a special birthday post I'm excited to share with you then. 

Hugs and love~

Monday, November 7, 2011

a lesson of beauty from my plant

So I recently came across a beautiful allegory thanks to one of the flower arrangements I received after Brody went to heaven. Here is the pic of the plant last fall.


This has quickly become a favorite of mine. I love the leaves and the occasional pink flowers - they are always a pleasant surprise to see when they come. 

I don't consider myself to have a green thumb. Erik handles the plant department way better than I do. We have watered this plant when we remembered (and probably forgot about it quite often, but thankfully it's a cactus) and it has kept on going. 

We don't have a lot of sunlight in our current home, so all of our plants are battling for whatever sun they can get. This plant stayed about this size for most of the past year until I moved it to a window sill with some other plants, and that's when the plant really started to flourish.

Here's a picture of it now: 

I love how the plant keeps growing and growing. The cactus leaves keep growing longer, and the flowers are back in bloom. Something that started so small and beautiful has grown into something bigger and even more beautiful. 

I think it was that extra dose of attention from the sun that really pushed this plant to blossom. It held on to life until then, but when we finally put it in better circumstances, it thrived. 

It makes me think that things that are beautiful now can become even more beautiful when placed under the direct care, supervision, and influence of our Lord. The more time we spend in God's presence, the more we give ourselves a chance to grow and become even more beautiful to others around us. 

if you only reach one

As a writer, I can quickly get caught up in how large my audience is... I mean, wouldn't it be great to be the next best-selling author who sells millions upon millions of books to people around the world? Or wouldn't it be great to become the next best-read blog, read by hundreds or thousands every day?

But then I remember something a writer told me a few years ago at my first writer's conference. If you only reach one, your message and your writing is worth it.

The writer went on to say that he heard back from one girl who read one of his blog postings and as a result decided not to commit suicide. He knew then his blog post was worth it - even if no one else read it except that girl.

That has stuck with me immensely. Right now, I have been published, but I'm not a best-selling author, and I blog, but my blog isn't read by hundreds every day. That doesn't matter though. If my writing impacts one life, it's worth it.

Everyone seems to have stars in their eyes about being a big author or movie star or singer or fashion designer or whatever. What they don't realize is that every person - the well-known to the not-well-known - has a purpose and a place on this earth.

For example, people are needed to write articles for USA Today, but they are also needed for the local city newspaper and the school's monthly newsletter. Every writer is necessary. In the same way, business people are needed at the top as CEOs and business people are needed in the middle of the company. The CEO influences a lot more people than the employee a few rungs down from him, but the direct impact that employee has on his or her coworkers is much more profound than the CEO's could ever be.

So as I'm continually remembering, be content with who you are and your current circle of influence. Your impact on the people around you is invaluable and can be replaced by no one.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

be bold to use your talents

I've often quoted 2 Timothy 1:7 when dealing with fear, but today I actually took time to consider the context of the verse.

Paul is writing to Timothy and telling him that he prays for him and is excited to see him again. Then Paul writes this:

"That precious memory triggers another: your honest faith—and what a rich faith it is, handed down from your grandmother Lois to your mother Eunice, and now to you! And the special gift of ministry you received when I laid hands on you and prayed—keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible. So don't be embarrassed to speak up for our Master or for me, his prisoner." (verses 5-8, Message)

I re-read the verse in a different version. 

"Therefore, I remind you to keep ablaze the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." (verses 6-7, Holman Christian Standard)

God has given us gifts to use on this earth - gifts of leadership, encouragement, natural abilities, etc. These gifts make us who we are and give each of us a unique impact in this world. From what Paul writes, it sounds like if we're not careful, these gifts will subside and we can walk through life without fully utilizing the gifts we've received - kinda like that Christmas gift you got last year, that you absolutely loved at the time, but you haven't touched since.

Paul encourages Timothy to remember all that God has given him and use it for God's kingdom. 

Now the reason I think it's cool that these two verses connect is because God's gifts to you are so extravagant that we can be afraid to use them. We need to remember the gift of God inside of us... but not be afraid to use it. Instead, we are to be "bold, loving, and sensible." 

Bold: the gifts God gave you may be intimidating for you to think about, but you have every right to trust God and utilize them to their full extent. 

Loving: don't be prideful about these gifts. The reason you have them is to impact the people around you for God's glory. 

Sensible: be wise in your use of them. As the phrase goes, "don't throw pearls before swine." Situations will arise where it will be appropriate or not appropriate to use your gifts. 

Say you have the gift of teaching or explaining things. You really understand the Bible, and God has plans for you to teach people about God's kingdom. You will need to be bold to accept that teaching position at your church's Bible study, but you'll also need to be wise on how to let your teaching gift be used when someone is telling you about a difficult time in their life, especially if that person is an unbeliever. They may only be able to handle a small portion of everything you could teach them.

So when God gives us the opportunity to use our gifts and talents, we don't have reason to be afraid. God has given us grace to be bold, loving, and sensible with the use of our gifts and talents. We simply need to seize the opportunities and allow God to work through us to reach others.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

me, my future, and God

Over the past week, I've been enthralled with Matthew 6:30-34 in the Message Bible.

"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you
to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God's giving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes."

My parents got me a Nook for my birthday (what a huge blessing that has been while on bedrest!) and my Message Bible has stayed on these verses every time I open it on my Nook. Different words and phrases keep sticking out to me, all having to do with how much God truly cares about me.

Today the phrase "God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the times comes." 

I'll always remember a message I heard Dennis Burke preach on Psalm 91. I walked away realizing there are a few different types of deliverance: 

1. God takes us completely up and over adversity where we don't experience it and sometimes don't even realize what we've missed. 

2. God delivers us miraculously out of the middle of adversity. 

3. God walks us through adversity. 

The last one makes me think of a phrase the Lord gave me a while ago: the miracle of perseverance. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we don't have to be afraid because God is with us (Psalm 23). The miracle is in us persevering and recognizing that God is by our side and taking care of every concern and worry.

Adversity in any form stinks, but we don't need to worry. God will help us deal with whatever we face when we face it. Don't create your own adversity by worrying about something that doesn't yet exist. Let God take care of you right now and prepare you--without you even knowing it--for your future. He'll take care of both you and your future if you just let Him.

Friday, October 28, 2011

what the devil really wants

One thing I've learned firsthand--and secondhand as I've watched other people--is that the devil is out to get our faith. If he can change our beliefs or get us to back off what we believe, he's won.

Adversity is how he does it. Difficult times. Unexplained things. Things that make you question the reality of who God is. When these things happen, we as humans seem to have the innate reaction to question or blame God because He's all-knowing, all-powerful, and ultimately, shouldn't He be able to stop those things?

Well, this is where it gets confusing for us as humans. Yes, I believe God can ultimately do what He wants, but for some reason, He has created the world a certain way. He created a beautiful world, gave it to Adam to manage, and Adam messed up. He ultimately handed over legal authority of this world to our enemy (and God's enemy) Satan. Satan has the legal right to do bad things on this earth, hence the corruption. God has access to the world through believers and through prayer, and through His Spirit, as He sees fit, but ultimately, we live in a corrupted world.

This is where the test of faith comes in.

When people decide to believe in God and become a Christian, Satan immediately wants to steal that Word from them. It's like the parable of the sower in Mark chapter 4. Seed was sown by the side of the road, but birds snatched it up. It's kinda like ideas about God are sown in someone's heart, but the enemy will snatch them up if at all possible. We are in a battle to keep our faith in an unseen God who is greater and mightier than anything else on earth--but works in mysterious ways and has ways that are much, much different than what we imagine them to be.

James chapter 1 tells us that our faith is what is being tried in all this adversity we face, and I think we see this same importance of faith over and over again throughout the Word.

Why does the enemy want our faith? I think the answer is in 1 John 5:4-5.

"For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth [or has faith] that Jesus is the Son of God?"

The ones who have faith ultimately win.

I believe our faith will pay off in multiple ways between now and the end of the world when God comes to make things right, but there will be times when faith is hard to hold because of what we see. That's when we need to remember to keep faith. The Bible is right, God is good, and He is faithful. No matter what we see, His promises are true, available to you today, and He ultimately wins in the end. I'm glad I'm on His side.

Monday, October 24, 2011

prayer

...And when you come before God, don't turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They're full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don't fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

   Our Father in heaven,
   Reveal who you are.
   Set the world right;
   Do what's best— as above, so below.
   Keep us alive with three square meals.
   Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
   Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
   You're in charge!
   You can do anything you want!
   You're ablaze in beauty!
      Yes. Yes. Yes.

(Matthew 6:5-13, Message Bible)

P.S. 27 weeks today!!! January 23rd is coming closer and closer!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

God shows up despite ourselves

You know what fascinates me is the fact that God can take our humanity and show His divinity right in the middle of it.

Sometimes I think He shows Himself when we are still hurting... His getting glory doesn't always happen when our lives look amazing to everyone else. Sometimes He gets glory when we fall down, but don't stay down. Of course, He doesn't get glory in the fact that you fell or in what caused you to fall, but He does get glory when you decide to get back up and keep moving with Him.

I don't think we always have to be "spiritual" when God can use us. We don't need to have just been in His glory for 3 hours before He can been seen in our lives--and that amazes me. When our desire is to follow Him in our lives, He takes our daily living and somehow makes it His own. For example, someone could post a Scripture on facebook or some quote they heard, just because they thought it was cool, and later find out it's exactly what someone else needed to make their day. That's just one example of God using us in the middle of our humanity.

Because we are such fragile vessels, God gets more glory when we surrender to Him because He then gets the glory when we are weak, but people somehow see us as strong. Even if no one else knows it, we know that we can't be who we are without Him.

Monday, October 10, 2011

how to help a grieving friend

A church acquaintance of mine just experienced a horrible tragedy this past weekend. I don't know the family well, but I know people who do who are aching for ways to help this family.

I haven't been through a sudden tragedy like this, but I have extended family who has been, and I've lost a brother and a newborn son to death way too early, so I thought I'd share some thoughts of how you can help a grieving friend.

1. Remember. Mark your calendar now and send the grieving family a card, note, email, facebook message on the anniversary of when their loved one passed away. Just last week was the 2-year anniversary of my brother's passing, and every thought, note, and bit of love that people sent my way and to my parents helped us walk through that day and be honored and blessed that people would remember him.

2. Remember, part 2. Immediately following any death, the family is thrown in a whirlwind of people sending condolences, asking if they can help, making funeral preparations (imagine wedding preparations thrown into five days or so!), talking to family members -- not to mention processing their grief. It's after the funeral where the fact that "life goes on" hits and you have to try to cope with the reality that your loved one isn't there -- this is when family and friends are needed, just as much, if not more than before. Send a bouquet of flowers a few weeks after the funeral just to say you care and are thinking of them. (I remember cherishing the flowers sent after I lost my baby boy. They made me smile because someone remembered.) Write them a note or facebook message any time you pray for them - even 3-6 months from now - and just let them know you care.

3. Pray. So many times when I was grieving, I relied on the fact that people were praying me through this. I couldn't always form prayers because my world had been rocked so hard, so knowing that people were praying for me was such a relief and an encouragement.

4. Bring meals. This is probably most important in the first few weeks and a few weeks after the funeral. If you're a good friend, perhaps you could make them a schedule using something like foodtidings.com. Or you could ask a friend if something has already been set up. It's such a relief not having to worry about dinner when you are trying to process your loss. Even a few weeks after the funeral, you could drop off a dinner or if the grieving family is interested, you could visit for a short while. Anything to help relieve the stress is helpful. Here is a good blog post on Tips for Bringing Meals to a Grieving Friend. 

5. Let them grieve. The sadness and tears will come in unexpected ways over the next few weeks, months, and years. Sudden tragedies can especially take a while to heal from because they are unexpected. If the grieving family isn't acting like themselves or is a little snappy or down about life, keep an eye on them so they don't get stuck in depression, but also, give them a lot of grace. They don't even know all that they are processing. Sometimes I have to remind myself that I still am processing the grief of losing the people I've lost in my life.

6. Don't try to have answers. This blog states it well. Please read it - because people, especially Christians, often try to make it better by saying "God's in control" or "it'll be all right" or some other cliche. Those answers do not help. Often they just drag up a ton more questions in the grieving person. It's okay to not know what to say and just be quiet or to be honest and say, "I wish I had the right words, but I don't." Give hugs. Write notes to say you are praying for them and thinking of them. It's okay to not have the answers - we're human, and the best we can do is be there, help where needed, and listen.

There are a lot of other things you can do help a grieving friend, but hopefully this gives you a good start. It's some of what really helped me in what I have been going through. Ask God for His help and wisdom in how you can bless, encourage, and most importantly, support your friend, and He will.


John 14:27, "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."



forgive and forget

I've been thinking a lot about forgiveness recently, partially because Pastor Mac Hammond has talked about it in his recent messages (great messages, too!) and partially because I've recognized some areas where I need to forgive.

One of the things forgiveness means that I think we often ignore or don't realize is that when you forgive, you should forget. Pastor Mac often follows that statement with statements like this: "When I say 'forget,' I don't mean that you get Holy Ghost amnesia. When you forget, it actually means that you 'put out of mind.'"

So I've contemplated that and realized that when I am offended or hurt by someone else, my tendency is to overthink why I've been hurt. I'll say, "I forgive them" and really do mean it. But then I think about it a lot. And I always have a good reason to try to decipher what I'm going through and why I feel the way I feel and it will always make sense why I need to replay in my head everything that I need to forgive that person for. The Lord doesn't want me to keep replaying their mistakes. He wants me to forgive them, and then move on.

This morning, I looked up the word "forgive" on blueletterbible.com and it gives the idea that when you forgive, you walk away from it and leave it behind you. That means not going back to it because you have to try to figure out exactly everything that offended you. Not overthinking it because it's part of your "personality" and you need to make sure that you don't miss anything. (guilty as charged!) None of that will help you forgive. It will just make you frustrated all over again.

What we really need to do when we forgive someone is forget it. Put it out of mind... over and over and over. Day in, day out.

To clarify, I'm not talking about an abusive situation where someone is taking advantage of you physically or emotionally. I'm talking about those instances that happen altogether too often among church members, family, and friends where you get offended because they don't celebrate Labor Day like you do or they looked at you the wrong way or they did something else that frustrated you. Those types of things are things that we should leave behind us.

Lord, I've messed up time and again by reasoning my way into not forgetting the things people have done for me. Please help me truly forgive and walk away from whatever frustrations come from other people in my life. In Jesus' name, Amen. Ebates Coupons and Cash Back

Thursday, October 6, 2011

quick update!

Hi everyone!

I've started blog drafts and thought about writing many times over the past weeks/days, but obviously, I've been quiet on here for a while.

Just thought I'd check in and let you know that everything is going aok. :-) Baby is healthy and I'm still on bedrest so baby can stay healthy in me and not come early. Erik, my family, and friends have all been amazing as they help take care of me when I'm off my feet.

Slowly but surely I'm pulling together baby registry stuff and realizing how much stuff you need to take care of a kiddo! Yikes!

Yesterday, we celebrated my brother Brian's two year anniversary in heaven. Amazing how time flies. Erik and I visited Brody and Brian at the cemetery, and it was peaceful and beautiful. A nice bittersweet moment... we actually both thought the same thing at the same time while there: "It's still kinda surreal." And that it is. Hard to imagine that Brian went through what he went through and he's not here anymore, and that we and Brody went through what we went through. Definitely wish it could be different, but since it isn't, we do our best to keep moving on.

I'm SO grateful that I know I'll see them again in heaven. I can't imagine dealing with grief without that hope of eternity and seeing them again. (If you don't have hope of eternity, visit www.needhim.com.)

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog. I'm amazed by all the page views and hope that somehow my ramblings and life stories encourage you in your own journey.

Hugs.

Laura

Monday, September 12, 2011

feathers from heaven

So I just finished reading a good Christian fiction book. In it, the heroine finds these white feathers that show up on her desk, the floor, and a few other places when she's had a moment with God. The author uses those feathers as a symbol for the heroine to know that heaven is with her.

Now, it's definitely a fiction ploy to use the feathers throughout the book. It ties the book together nicely, plus the picture of feathers ties in to another crucial part of the story. People certainly don't get feathers sent from heaven on a regularly basis, but I do think the feathers are a great representation of the fact that God gives us natural signs of His presence all the time in unique ways. We each have "feathers" sent from heaven. The question is, are you sensitive enough to see them?

A great example happened to me a few weeks ago. I woke up in the morning and thought to myself, "Goodness, I deserve a lunch out. I think I'll go to Panera and eat some of my favorite soup." So I did. I got to the register, ordered my soup, pulled out my Panera rewards card and my credit card to pay. The cashier swiped my rewards card and said, "Oh, you have a free soup on here." I said, "Really? That's great!" I stuck my credit card back in my wallet, and went to enjoy my free lunch.


I'm sure some will read that and think, "Oh, that was just a coincidence." Yeah, I guess you could think that, but for me, it was a feather from heaven--a blessing direct from the Lord just to say He loves me and is watching over me.

This morning I found a story about people who didn't recognize God's blessing from heaven. In Matthew 8:28-34, Jesus goes to this region and heals two men who were possessed by demons.


28 When he arrived at the other side in the region of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men coming from the tombs met him. They were so violent that no one could pass that way. 29 “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?”  30 Some distance from them a large herd of pigs was feeding. 31 The demons begged Jesus, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of pigs.”
 32 He said to them, “Go!” So they came out and went into the pigs, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and died in the water. 33 Those tending the pigs ran off, went into the town and reported all this, including what had happened to the demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town went out to meet Jesus. And when they saw him, they pleaded with him to leave their region.


What fascinates me about this story is that the people went to meet Jesus and instead of bringing the sick and lame and asking for healing just as He healed the two crazy men, they asked Jesus to leave the region. They didn't appreciate the way Jesus acted, so they despised and ignored the gift in their midst. A mini-revival could have taken place because of the healings that Jesus had just done, but because of their attitude, it couldn't happen.

The Pharisees are another example of people who shunned Jesus. They couldn't see the gift of God in their midst, and as a result, they were stuck with their lives as they were and couldn't experience the freedom and potential healing that Jesus could have brought into their lives.

All this to say, I think God is showing up in our lives time and again. He brings us people who encourage us, sales to help our finances, doctors who help us, smiles from friends, cookies when we need them (heh heh... I do think that's true!). He's constantly moving on our behalf. The question is, are we noticing His touch in our lives or just chalking it up to coincidence?

So yeah, that's my thought for today. :-)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My two sons... Brody and Brayden

Hi everyone!

This past Wednesday was the day I've been waiting for! My pregnancy has officially gone longer than when my water broke last time. Thank you, Lord! Secondly, we had our 20-week ultrasound and saw baby and everything is looking very healthy for him and for me! Yep, it's a boy! :-)

It's true, both Erik and I wanted another boy. Erik is a big brother with a younger sister and I have a big brother and am the younger sister. We both love our family situations, and really wanted to start out the same way. So Brody Mark Wegener, our firstborn, officially has a little brother named Brayden Allen Wegener. Yippee!

I'm a little behind on posting baby bump pics so here are a couple. This was the beginning of the bump, week 13. 

The second is me at 19 weeks. I'm almost 21 weeks, so I'll try to get another pic up soon. I'm starting to be amazed at what will happen to my tummy over the next four months... can it really get that big? Obviously, I've seen it happen over and over to others, but to have your tummy stretch this way is completely different!

Brayden is a mover and shaker - flipping and turning and being active in there. That makes it extra fun. Erik got to feel him move a few weeks ago, so that was a huge blessing for both of us!

I definitely still have some mental battles to deal with when these random pregnancy aches come and go... I'm learning to trust my God-given motherly intuition, which I'm sure includes His direct leading as well, about what I feel so I don't fear what I'm going through, but I also am not foolish if something should be a concern. I trust God that everything will go smoothly from now until weeks 36-40, which is when baby can officially come. Yay!

Oh and at my family birthday party (which included birthday celebrations for me, Erik, my cousin, and my aunt!) Erik and I really wanted my aunt to taste our white amaretto cake and frosting that we did for his grandma's birthday so we decided to make our own birthday cake! Since we had four birthday people, we went a different route for decorations, thanks to an idea from Food Network magazine.

Here's our "hamburger" cake!



The "tomatoes," "lettuce," and "onion rings" are spice drops that I rolled out and reformed. The cheese is fondant. The sesame seeds are rice puffy cereal. The bun and burger are cake and the burger has chopped up chocolate and small chocolate chips around it for color.

:-) It was a huge hit.

By the way, today I remember along with our country 9/11/01. God, please surround our country. Wrap your arms around every family directly affected by that horrific day and protect our country continually. In Jesus' name, Amen.






Saturday, September 3, 2011

right now... time=molasses

I can't tell you how crazy slow this time of waiting is going. Yes, parts of it are going quickly; I know I'll already be 20 weeks along on Monday, but especially over the past three weeks or so, the days seem to drip by like the molasses I pour into my dad's favorite gingerless ginger cookies. I'm counting the moments until Wednesday: our ultrasound and the day I'll officially be farther in my pregnancy than last time.

I'm not sure if you've ever experienced something like that, but I thought I'd write about it in case you did. The only other time I can think that time went this slow was in my sophomore year of high school. For some reason, that year poked along like none other--and I still remember how slow it went to this day!

The good news is that time does and will keep going. And in the future, I guarantee I'll be thinking, wow, can you believe time has flown this fast?

That's all. Just wanted to say that.

Oh and I'm super excited to write my post on Wednesday or Thursday and let you know!!


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I'm entering my thirties...

Yep. It's true. I've entered my thirties. I told my dad I feel like an official adult now. :-)

I think I have the whole birthday thing easy because my hubby and BFF and a lot of other friends of mine all turned 30 before me, so by the time my birthday comes, I'm already used to being thirty! (Although, yes, I do mention my young age to them throughout the month/year of them being officially older than me!)

I'm also 19 weeks along today. It was a little strange this morning to realize that my mom was pregnant 30 years ago today about to deliver me and now I'm 19 weeks along and will deliver a beautiful baby boy/girl in January! Crazy! :-) Seasons of life, huh?

Everything seems to be going well for my pregnancy. The doc said it would be very obvious if anything dangerous or bad happened post-surgery that would cause things to go awry. That's helped me mentally, because everything has seemed normal. I haven't been without my mental battles as I approach the time Brody was delivered last time, but I do remember that if I have a certain instinct of what I'm feeling, I'm probably right. God created ladies to have babies and He gives them that "motherly instinct" of what is going on in their bodies. I have to trust that instinct.

Next week we get a sneak peek at baby B (Brielle or Brayden) during our 20-week ultrasound. I am so looking forward to that day! We'll find out if we're having Brielle or Brayden and then I'll officially be past the timing of when my water broke with Brody. Yay! That will be a huge relief for me.

By the way, Erik and I didn't intentionally want to have a tongue twister family... Brody, Brielle, Brayden... those are the kids' names we like right now. As my family gets used to the names, they are already getting them a little jumbled, as I'm sure Erik and I will. But there was a reason for each of those names and we love them all!! When Erik and I first heard Brielle a few years ago, we loved it and immediately wanted to name our daughter that (even though we weren't close to being pregnant yet!). Then Brody was named in honor of Brian, and then Brayden is named in honor of Brody. We love all the names, plus it's a nice theme that I think reflects my brother and son nicely. Yay!

Anyhoo, off I go to see if I can get some work done outside. Thank you for all the birthday well-wishes and prayers for my family. I appreciate it! :-)


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

today's top 5 (8/17)

Morning! I haven't done a top five in a while. In case you don't know what that is... my cousin was telling me one day that every night she goes to bed and comes up with five things she's thankful for that day. Here's today's top 5.

1. Neighbors. I love my neighbors! I'm super blessed to have friends on both sides of our home to hang out with who will also help if we need anything (and we'll help if we can when they need something!). Love them!

2. Erik. I love how friendly Erik is with people. Very outgoing and used to talking to people he doesn't know and making friends with them. I like that I can follow his lead.

3. Toilet paper. Heh heh... last night I cut my finger by trying to catch a falling roll of saran wrap. The sharp edge cut pretty deep. No paper towels were handy to blot it up, but toilet paper did the trick. :-)

4. Friends. Good friends enrich the life so much. Each one of mine bring a different flavor to my life, and I'm grateful.

5. Family. My extended family and my family's friends have been amazing and supportive with the passing of my grandma. On behalf of my immediate family, we're grateful for your support. It's never easy losing a loved one; you help comfort us, so thank you. 

All for now! Have a happy Wednesday! :-)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

a good pick-me-up

So if you ever need a good pick-me-up, look at Psalm 121.

1I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help.
 2My help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth.

Heh heh... those are just the first two verses! It dawned on me how crazy the second verse is. My help comes from God, the creator of the universe. That's like saying, "I'm protected by the Secret Service" or "My help comes from the President, the leader of the nation that I live in." Those don't even give it justice, but do you realize how everyone would knew that I was well taken care of if I said, "Bill Gates is helping me get through college" or "The chief of police is specifically watching over my house to make sure nothing happens to my stuff while we are on vacation"???

That's what this verse says, but to the nth degree beyond that. My help comes from the Lord. Oh by the way, He made heaven and earth. It's important to remember that David was writing this potentially in the middle of the difficult times and what was he doing with this verse? He was reminding himself of exactly who was watching over him. As it says in one of his stories earlier in the Bible, David encouraged himself in the Lord.

What an encouragement to remember how big our God is in relation to the world we live in!

Again, in today's terms, it would be like: "My dad is the President of the United States." "Bill Gates is my best friend." "My best friend is Randy Jackson, and he's going to get me on American Idol." :-)

And, no, none of the things I mentioned are true, but what I know is true is that my help comes from the Lord, and oh yeah, He made the heavens and the earth.

It's all good. :-)


Friday, August 12, 2011

Sneakier than Santa Claus!

This morning I was thinking of John 16:33 which says, "These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

In this particular passage, Jesus is talking to his disciples. He doesn't say, "You will have troubles, and then they'll all go away because you're my kid." He said, "You'll have troubles... BUT know that in the grand scheme of things, I have overcome the world."

I've been pondering that in context with what I know throughout the rest of the Bible - that He will bring you through adversity - and I think He's again alluding to the fact we see in James 1 - that we really can be joyful during troubles because He is ultimately in control and will bring us through it, not only to victory, but also with a better outlook on life and Him.

The Message Bible reads those verses this way: "I've told you all this so that trusting me, you will be unshakable and assured, deeply at peace. In this godless world you will continue to experience difficulties. But take heart! I've conquered the world."

So yes, trouble will come, but we never have to be concerned that God has left us alone or has forgotten about us. He isn't even up in heaven saying, "Oh no, they're in a pretty rough situation! What should I do?" He knows exactly what is going on and what spiritual and natural laws are in place and He is working continually to align our lives with His perfect will and plan.

His behind-the-scenes working is even sneakier than Santa's because people don't realize it's happening. :-) Everyone knows that Santa comes on Christmas Eve with presents, although for children if it is done "right" they have no idea who/what/when/where/why it happened. God's ways are even more hidden because he's working in us continually to fulfill His plan, but it doesn't usually look like He is or by the time His help has been manifested, many people don't recognize it's Him!

Lord, help me to trust in You as you work behind the scenes to align my life with your plan. Remind me over and over that you have overcome the world - like people who pass levels on video games and then are able to share all their winning secrets with others. Help me to recognize your hand at work and be continually grateful for both what I see you doing and what I don't see.

Thanks for guiding my life. In Jesus' name, Amen.


Monday, August 8, 2011

16 weeks and counting

Hi there! I am 16 weeks today, praise God! :-)

I just went on a message board for preggo moms and it is amazing how many other moms and families have lost babies like Erik and I did, with potentially the same reason. Crazy! I guess until something affects you, you really don't hear about it happening to other people (unless it makes national news)!

Overall, my light activity mode is going pretty well. It's still difficult to have restrictions and not be able to just up and go anywhere without thinking of the repercussions or how much other activity I've had recently, but as my mom-in-law told me, I'm taking care of the most important job by laying on the couch - taking care of baby. Fun fun... !

The next few days will have a little more activity than normal because my wonderful Grandma Doris passed away. One of my most favorite people on earth! She was 89 and lived a good life; her health wasn't the best recently, so I'm glad that she's safe in heaven taking care of my family up there. It still stinks that I won't be able to see her beautiful face and smile until heaven. Tomorrow is the wake and Wednesday is the funeral. It stinks having so many family funerals within such a short period of time! But it makes me grateful that I don't have a story where I lose multiple family members at once!! I know things could be much worse!!!

Things are starting to pick up mentally for me because I'm finally looking a little preggo and I have 5 weeks left until I'm in the uncharted waters of pregnancy for me. So time has been ticking slowly but surely. Overall, I don't feel too nervous about the 20th/21st week (when Brody passed); my doc has been amazing in reassuring me that she's confident I'll have a healthy baby in January. I have a check-up later this week, which I'm looking forward to hearing that everything is good. Week 23 is when baby is officially "viable" (if anything happens, the baby could go to the neonatal care unit). Brody was 2 weeks short of being able to have that happen. :( So that will be another point that I'll be glad to check off the list. And, no, I'm not planning on anything bad happening or needing the baby to go in the neonatal unit! They are just timelines I can check off mentally -- as opposed to counting the hundreds of days until January!!!

So overall, I'm doing pretty well. I feel like my body is doing aok; no major concerns regarding the pregnancy. Again, it will be nice to go to the doc and get her official confirmation the past three weeks have gone the way I thought they have!

I've started to actually picture having a baby. Yay!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

my grandma

My wonderful Grandma Doris has met my little boy, Brody.

She passed away on August 3, 2011. She lived a long, wonderful life. Her loves were God, her husband, family, friends, and flowers. Her smile lit up the room and made her friends with everyone. She will be missed dearly by her beloved husband Carl; her children Craig and Martha (Mark); granddaughter Laura (Erik); and great-grandchildren Chloe, Angelica, and Julia (Cristina). She was preceded in death by her grandson Brian and great-grandson Brody.

Although she will be missed, I'm so glad that she's in a better place.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the danger of fame

So just the other day I was wondering about so-and-so who appeared on reality TV as such a legitimately nice person but after a few years of being in the spotlight turned out to be a snob.

I found the answer today in the Message version of Proverbs 27:21.

"The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame."

Ahhh, that dangerous little mongrel called fame.

Monday, August 1, 2011

winter's reason

Patience stinks.

:-) 

Why do we have to be patient? Couldn't we always get what we want when we want it? Like the weather. Does it have to rain when we want to be outside? Couldn't it always be 76.5 degrees with beautiful sun and a small breeze? Do we really need to have winter? The ice storms and blizzards could just go away.... 

Recently, Erik has been singing a line from a country song he likes: "...winter has a reason; otherwise, there'd be no spring." That has made me smile every time I hear it because it reminds me that the "winter" of life that Erik and I have been through has to come to an end (I believe in January or earlier!), and the winter really is what makes way for spring to happen! I love the beauty of spring and the renewal in the air. That wouldn't happen without winter. 

Speaking of seasons, it's August 1. Doesn't summer always go by so fast? I know that this year I'm okay with it going faster since I'm in a waiting period, but I know once August hits, the rest of the year flies by with back-to-school, football season, Halloween (I don't celebrate, but I see stores' decor), Thanksgiving, and Christmas. When I look at it that way, January will be here before I know it! 

Romans 5:3-5
"...and not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

bedrest boredom

A little over two weeks of bedrest/"limited activity" and the days have ticked by so slowly. Argh! I am trying to keep myself as busy as possible... from the sofa. I enjoyed a morning off thinking about not much this morning, but by midafternoon, my brain--which has to be accomplishing something as much of the time as possible--almost had a meltdown.

So I put in the movie Julie & Julia. For a writer like myself, I can relate to both Julia's adventure of writing a book (although hers was a cookbook) and Julie's adventure of blogging. Plus, I love their love of cooking and it made me just a little sad that I can't just bustle around the kitchen right now making these fabulous recipes.

It did inspire to make an omelet for dinner. My omelets, I must admit, have been less than stellar in the past. Slowly, but surely, Food Network and Erik and my interest in cooking has caused me to keep trying and improving omelets. Today's actually turned out decent, although I still haven't figured out how they keep the eggs looking so flat and nice in the pan while cooking it.

I've also improved at making eggs over easy... they used to become scrambled eggs, more or less, but my last three for Erik were practically perfect.

I know... way boring information, but hey! I gotta do something to amuse myself waiting for baby! :-) You just happen to be a recipient of my thoughts while I do so.

Oh and I guess the biggest "news" of all is I decided to give myself an extra reason to stay off my feet... I bruised my toe. Okay, the reasoning isn't true, but the bruised toe is. I'm what some may call clumsy when it comes to keeping my toes out of the ways of doors and bed frames, and yesterday, I got out of bed and slammed a toe into the bed. Whoops! No major harm done. Just a different colored toe.

Exciting life, huh? :-)


**I should clarify that although the title says "bedrest boredom," I am not officially on bedrest anymore, which I noted in a previous post. I'm on the "limited activity" schedule, but I'm still on the sofa resting quite a lot. Plus "bedrest boredom" is a much cooler sounding title than "limited activity boredom."  :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

handicapped

So I'm getting a new perspective on life with my assignment of limited activity. Last night I was at church and based on how I was feeling, I decided it would be better to sit down during praise and worship so I would be off my feet, just as a precaution. That decision was mentally humbling for me because everyone else was standing around me and I was supposed to be standing. I imagined people were looking at me thinking, Why is she sitting down? What's wrong with her? Doesn't she know she's disrespecting God?

Tonight I'm going to a musical with my mom at my alma mater and we're bringing a wheelchair so I don't have to walk the distance between the car and the theater, which is a decent length. Since you can't really see a preggo belly yet, it will be humbling to be in the wheelchair because my mind will tell me people will wonder what's wrong with me.

Even just in my day-to-day tasks, I feel lazy not doing certain things, and I assume because I've had the thought I'm lazy to avoid certain activities that are precautionary for my situation, I assume others are thinking the same thing. (funny how that works!)

In reality, I have to just be humbled to accept people's help, not care about what people think, and do what's best for the baby.

Yes, some people may think I'm lazy, but they don't know the story behind why I'm doing what I do. Plus, in reality, most people are probably too concerned with their own lives to even think much about the rather healthy-looking lady sitting during praise and worship or coming in on a wheelchair!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"patiently" waiting for baby

So I thoroughly have a new appreciation for military families who say goodbye to their spouse/parent/sibling, etc. for months to a full year or more so they can serve our country. I admit that I've been glib enough to tell some people I know coming up on a waiting period, "It'll be over before you know it." Yes, time flies in the grand scheme of things... but when it comes down to 24 hours passing over and over and over again to create a string of days and then weeks without someone in your life, it's extremely difficult.

Yes, the big picture is it will go fast, but I've learned now to think twice before telling someone in a waiting period (even people on bedrest like me) that it will go fast. The reality is that no matter how "long" or "short" their waiting period is, that person still has to walk through hour after hour after day after day of some integral person being out of their lives.

I remember after both Brian and Brody passed away that I wished time would just vanish in some way and that it would be magically six months after my brother/baby had passed and that time would magically healed my wounds. I could see and imagine the day that the grieving wouldn't hurt as intense, but that didn't change the fact that I was still living out the moments and days and weeks immediately following a tragic death. It wasn't easy.

The same goes for military wives, bedrest, and any other type of waiting period for someone you love (whether waiting for heaven or just a return home). Those days are long and can sometimes be slow.

I am trying to make the most of my time down. I want to enjoy my rest time - the times when I'm alone and the times when friends and family visit and help me through it. I want to enjoy my time with Erik and enjoy my time without a baby crying at night. :-) I've made up goals and activities to getting certain stuff done during this time--like cleaning out the junk in our house and keeping it clean (as best as I can on bedrest) one little bit of junk at a time and doing crossword puzzles and reading books or playing games.

In fact, Erik and I now play cribbage. It's a nice way to relax on the sofa and enjoy each other's company. It took four games of him having amazing cards and me learning how to play before I actually won a game!

So that's all for now. Slowly but surely I'm making it through each day. I know the day will soon be here when I will be posting baby pictures and updates, but until then, I'll simply process my waiting period as patiently as possible.

P.S. I know that the waiting process is the growing period as well. Just as baby is growing inside me now, I want to grow as a person and in my character during this time as well. Lord, please help me do that! Thank you! You are wonderful! :-)

P.S.S. Thank you to all the military families for what they've done for our country! Words can't properly express my gratefulness!