Sunday, December 14, 2008

Busy, Busy!

Wow! What a week! We've been on the run since Tuesday, and I feel like we haven't stopped. Sadly, I chose Sunday to put my feet down... and I'm with the kids at home. Feeding Noah has become more and more difficult since we've begun moving around, and every night, he is becoming more frustrated about it, which leads to later nights and more exhaustion and even more difficult feedings. I need to slow down so that I can take care of him and get some rest for myself. Otherwise, everything is is going well and is in full swing.

Benjamin turned two on Friday, and we celebrated Saturday with a big trip to Chuck E Cheese. He was beside himself and running in every direction all day long. He did a great job opening his presents, and his sister did a wonderful job blowing out his candles! Ben is still learning new words every day, and he is communicating much better. He softens so much when he realizes that you understand him. It makes such a difference!

We're revving up for the holidays. I did most of my shopping for the kids online since I knew I wasn't getting out in the chill too much with a newborn. I'm still working on taking care of family members' gifts. That's another 30 people (and that's not all of them!), and I must admit that I'm overwhelmed. . . but I'm working on some homemade things for them right now. I have such a difficult time during the holidays because I get completely overwhelmed at the thought of spending so much money on so many people who do not really need a thing... but you also just want to celebrate those special people too. And right now, with the kids taking so much time and energy, making things is also quite a sacrifice. BUT, I'd rather give them my time and energy than the money that I need to keep my children fed and clothed. So that's that. It's just difficult for me, though.

An update with pictures is due. We'll see what we can do about that!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Noah is Here!

Noah is here!
Born 11.03.08
9lbs. 1.5oz

Noah has been home for 3 weeks now. We are all loving on him, watching him grow (already, I know!), and learning how to be a family of 5. We are BUSY! Noah is doing well, but I haven't had much time to update the blog. More updates to come!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Favorite Commercial

Shaking things up a bit by sharing my all time favorite commercial and my all time favorite beverage. Grace now knows that when we pull into the drive through of any restaurant, "and a Large Dr. Pepper" will be heard somewhere in the conversation. And then at that point, she reminds me to use both hands. Anyway, here is my absolute favorite commercial (as of yet!)

I'd love to see some other people's favorites (that is, if I have any readers!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

October 18th! 5 years!

Saturday, October 18, 2003 a tall, dark haired young man stood at the front of a church and waited for me to walk down the aisle to be his bride. He was full of vision, structured, thought-provoking, and trying with all his might to grow to understand and walk in his calling with his Savior. He wrote me a note on our wedding day that I will hold on to forever. He spoke of our life together, our future children and ministries, our love for one another and for Christ. It has been 5 years since that day, and every day - even the rough ones - I am so glad that he waited for me at the front of that church. I am often amazed at how God allowed us to grow little by little more unified before we were able to see the depths of each other's depravity. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Our marriage speaks loudly of the truth of this scripture. Nathan has sharpened me, encouraged me, prayed for me, walked patiently beside me, endured my hormonal, chaotic seasons with grace, and has held me and loved me more than I deserved or could imagine. When my anger or selfish desires cause me to sin against my husband, he repeatedly does just as Christ did for the church, presenting me, as utterly undeserving as I am, as a pure and spotless bride. Even in my depravity, I am proud to be fully known by him because he continues to seek to love me like Christ loved his church.

I saw him cry tears of joy when we brought children into the world. I saw him weep over the destruction of his parents' marriage and the loss of several loved ones in the last few years. I saw him dance and giggle with his little girl and jostle and wrestle with his little boy. He loves to read the scriptures and teach them to those he loves. He sacrifices much so that his family can flourish.

Today, I look at a man that is living out his calling as a husband and father through his relationship with his heavenly father, a man who savors the Scriptures and longs for His Savior, Jesus Christ, a man who prays for and encourages his neighbors.

I'm thankful today that God gave Nathan to me. I'm also thankful that He didn't just leave us in the depth of our depravity, but God gave us reconciliation through His Son, and what a joy it is to be able to daily live and practice the ministry of reconciliation in my marriage! Thank you Father for such a sweet, sweet gift!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

36 weeks

Today we celebrated only 4 weeks left of holding little Noah in my womb by taking a trip to the doctor (and splurging on a Big Mac at McDonalds!). I won't go into all the details, but let's just say that I'm not going into labor this week for certain. But Noah is strong and healthy and growing so well. We'll have an ultrasound in 2 weeks to make sure that I won't be delivering a giant child. We'd like to keep from having a c-section, if at all possible, so if we need to deliver early because Noah wants to be 10 and a half pounds, we may consider that. At this point, I'd like to steer clear of an induction as well though, if we can!

As for how things are going:
Although I have my bad days where I can pull a muscle in my back by trying to put my shoes on while standing up (silly idea, now I know!), for the most part, this pregnancy has been easier (and more fun!) than I ever expected! I keep thinking how ludicrous it is that this far along in pregnancy, I still even have days where I feel fantastic. Did days like that exist with my other pregnancies? By the 36 week mark, I believe they were a distant memory! The fact that I am still eating potato chips with little concern for my legs swelling up (because they haven't yet!), I think, says it all. With all my previous babies, I wanted an epidural at 28 weeks; I was in terrible pain all of the time, concerned about blood pressure and swelling, emotionally weak and distraught, and just DONE! I don't know why, but God really gave me a sweet gift this season to enjoy, and I hope that I will continue to savor it! Granted, I have my moments of hormonal driven outbursts accompanied by the "I don't know why I'm crying" syndrome that many women may be familiar with, but these are exceptions and not the rule. And I must admit that every time my husband had been out of town, it has been exponentially more difficult to manage two busy toddlers and maintain my sanity, but God invented tylenol for a reason. Let's just hope that we can ride this train as long as possible!

One thing that I'm realizing is that I do not need to have the perfect home during this season. I do not need to stand at the stove for hours making masterpieces for my three year old. I do not need to make sure that every piece of clean laundry is folded daily. My job is to give myself to my children, play with them, teach them, pray with them, rest my own body for the growing child inside of me, and provide for the physical needs of the family. The details can wait until pregnancy subsides and we find our new normal. I will try to remember this for our next difficult season. It is giving me so much freedom to be thankful to God for what He has blessed us with, and I am not so distracted by every task that needs completing. And believe me, there are plenty of tasks worth completing, but my energy in this season really must be saved for the things that are most important: my husband and my children.

Thanks to friends and family for their prayers and encouragement. I will keep you posted on how things continue! Please keep praying!

Monday, October 6, 2008

Shower Power

This past weekend was wonderful! I get giddy just thinking about it! Nathan watched the kiddos (that's enough to send me into giddiness!) while I attended a double shower for our Noah and another sweet lady from our church. It was SO good to get out of the house and spend (kidfree!!) time with these women who I hardly get to connect with outside of church. We laughed a lot, ate fantastic food, and celebrated life together! What a joy. I would do it again every weekend if I could!
Here's thanks to Becky and her beautiful family for hosting a beautiful shower! And thanks to all the ladies that helped and participated. What fun!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

35 weeks and slowing down

Yesterday we welcomed 35 weeks of pregnancy. 5 more weeks to go and so much to do. It is amazing now that I am home, I am seeing so many more needs popping up in the community around me. The sad part is that with each passing week, my body moves slower and slower... Each time we go out, our poor Benjamin is now strapped to a stroller, indefinitely, likely until I can again run as quickly as he can! This may be a while.

I spend most days trying to keep up with the children and the home and resting in order to do this. The last three weeks, Nathan has been in and out of town and still doing school full time, so I've been a little over my head without rescue, but he only has one more out of town trip this week, and then my backup will be home for good. This will be a huge help to me. The laundry has not recovered from our recent craziness. It's all clean and lives inside a pack n play that we have set up for the new baby. Ideally, this problem will be addressed before he arrives!

We were having people at our home regularly for about 6 weeks or so, and now it's been about a week since we've had anyone over. I'd like to continue to have families and friends over until the baby is born, but I must be realistic with this. Nathan is still out of town for a bit, and then, after that, it is definitely crunch time. Time is flying by with this pregnancy. I can't get it to slow down! The baby is doing exceptionally well. We are all thrilled to meet him and bring him into our family! Grace is constantly talking about baby "Noah" now. And Benjamin loves looking at pictures of babies and hugging real ones (a little breathing room, please!). We'll have some teachable moments soon... but as far as neighbors go and having people to our home, we are still building relationships, trying to be "available" and open. I'm praying for opportunities to share the gospel, natural flows in the conversation, ways that we can see a need and see God fill it. It is good to see how He is growing our relationships with a few of our neighbors. We used to pass by them in such a hurry before while I was working, and now it is just sweet conversation and lots of giving. I look forward to learning and sharing more.

There is most definitely more that I'd like to add, but for now this is all I can fit in on a busy Sunday afternoon. Blessings to all of you. We are truly blessed by God when we find Him drawing His people to Himself. How sweet it is to be in His presence!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lazarus and the Rich Man

This Sunday our pastor discussed the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. He explained how Lazarus had God's favor because in his state of constant need, he was always seeking God, as opposed to how the rich man hardly noticed his need for God because he was satiated by his own physical wealth. How often do we run desperately to God when our stomachs are full, when our bodies are well clothed. Maybe that's why Jesus said that the poor were blessed because they knew more about the Kingdom of Heaven than the wealthy. Maybe that's why Jesus prayed for a daily portion of bread instead of a month's supply, so that He would be drawn daily to seek and savor His King. I think we're finally coming to a place in our home of thankfulness for an income that requires us to depend on His daily provision to make things work. We have testimony after testimony to remind us of His lovingkindness, and, although we don't want to always be in physical need - who does! -, we ALWAYS want to yearn for Him more and more daily.

Taking another twist on this parable, I wonder if I truly have considered the plight of the poor man. No, not the physically impoverished man, but the poor man who does not know my Savior. I have done the same as the rich man, watching my unbelieving neighbors lie at the gates, allowing dogs to lick their sores, and doing nothing. I am that rich man who was satisfied in his ignorance. I watch my neighbors walk by every day and do not concern myself with the state of their souls, leaving them to starve right outside of my table of feasts that I share with the Savior. What a disgrace! What a shame!

Today, I will commit to seeking out my neighbor's heart, to training up my children in doing the same, and to pray daily for God's saving grace to come to the hearts of those in our community. Today we baked cookies and took them to a new neighbor who moved in to our community in an attempt to build a relationship, to inquire of their heart, to give them the greatest gift there is. The neighbors weren't there, but we left cookies and a note. I don't want to be confused about my role here. I can't force them the choose Christ, but if I love God's people, then I must sow the seeds of the gospel for them.

Josh said this well in a previous sermon, and I think it's relevant here: that we should
"never measure success by the number of people in seats [at church]. You will measure success by the number of times you scatter the gospel."

A great word yesterday. Thank you Lord for the Word of Truth.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Update

We are blessed beyond measure! Currently I am in my 31st week of pregnancy. This technically means that I have 9 weeks left until we find ourselves deep in the trenches of hard labor and - following that - sweet, sweet moments of learning all that we can about this new gift that is joining our family. We are ELATED! We are looking forward to the wiggly, wrinkled feet and the newborn cries, the adrenaline induced rush the first two days after delivery that holds you through until you finally get an ounce of sleep, the precious moments of watching him breathe and knowing that every single breath of his belongs to God. What amazing times that God gives us, showing us new life and how He - only He - has ordained every aspect of it! Like I said, we are blessed beyond measure, undoubtedly!

My health has maintained so much better than it ever has in previous pregnancies. Blood pressure, swelling, weight gain, preterm contractions, back pain, heartburn - every aspect has been right on target and exponentially easier this time around. Just within the last few days, I have been overcome by a voracious appetite! It's been kinda fun and something strange to laugh at!!! A family at church is hosting a baby shower for us, and we could not be more thankful. This is yet another example of God providing for the needs of his children. He has been so faithful. We should be getting an ultrasound at 37 weeks to see how big the baby is. The doctor is concerned that the baby might be bigger than Ben (9 1/2 lbs at 39 weeks) was and wants to avoid any dangers that may come with birthing a bigger baby. I feel like this child is not as large as Benjamin was, but we will find out in about 6 weeks after an ultrasound.

I want to express sincere thanks for those who have lifted our family up in prayer these last few months. I would love to get into details about all the sweet ways God has answered our prayers, but for now, know that I am home, caring for my children and home and learning how to give my life and heart and energy to knowing God and making Him known in our home. This is humbling and simply wonderful.

I think that is it for now. Thanks for reading!

Withholding wealth from my neighbor?

America is a frontier for the true Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Would you believe this if it were whispered into your ear? Neither would I. Living in the "Bible Belt" and seeing large churches crowd the corners at each intersection, I seriously doubted that the name of Jesus hadn't reached at least the farthest corners of the US of A. Maybe Jesus' name has been spread across the country, but some still live in ignorance. But when I look into my own heart, I can see the reason for the reality that America is a frontier for the Gospel. Even believers that have claimed faith for decades have refused to share the wealth of the gospel with the impoverished hearts within our communities. I am one of them. Why do I neglect to feed my starving neighbor the bread of Christ? Why do I slothfully disdain the idea of walking 10 steps to their door and seeking to welcome them into my home, my heart, introduce them to the richest joys I have ever known. These people are created in His image, and God loves His people. Why do I not love His people enough to give them pause as they walk in a path towards death! It just takes a moment to commit, but then again, I must be willing to commit more than just a moment. I need to be willing to be vulnerable and real. It takes a lot of energy to be vulnerable to someone, because then you begin to really love them... like we should love them, like Christ loves them, and he gave up so much more than his "image" to love His people. He gave His life, his privacy, his energy. I am certain he felt embarrassed as his disrobed body was struck time and again in front of the people He loved. And he continued to be vulnerable to them. "This is my body, given for you." He longs for us to know Him. He longs for it so much that He gave up everything for it. What am I withholding from my neighbor. How am I refusing to give the truth to my friends? How can I truly love them this week, withholding nothing from them? I will be praying about that this week.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Repair and Rebuild

Ezra and Nehemiah set things right. Ezra, upon learning that Israelite men were marrying foreign women, responded with haste before many children became involved. Israel repented and again remembered that the God of Abraham is like no other. Nehemiah responded with deep emotion and haste to the condition of Judah, the wall that was demolished and burned. He was broken by its condition and immediately sought aid to bring it into full repair.

What walls are in disrepair in my household? What have I married myself to in my life that has encouraged me to create false idols? Do I heed to the conviction of the Holy Spirit despite the consequences? Nehemiah faced death for rebuilding the wall. He and his builders were attacked regularly and carried a weapon in one hand and a trowel in the other as they worked. What am I doing to protect my relationship with God? What weapons am I armed with?

Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Ephesians 6:11-18

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Calm before the Storm and Benjamin

Well, let's just start out by saying that my last post was definitely not a reflection of what followed in the week! It was clearly the calm before the storm in many, many ways. Following the sweet, slow, quiet moments were storms of really hard physical and emotional work! The heat has taken its toll on me in so many ways this summer, and it is taking far more than a day to recover from one day of work. This is causing my children and husband and home to suffer because, like I said, I am still working on bringing that last priority into its place. So, although my children, husband and home deserve the energy, it doesn't seem logical to me to call someone on their day off to fill my shift because "I don't feel good." I'm praying about this. I don't know what else to do. I DO know that I will not be hasty to pick up extra shifts when I do get time off. It will be something I begin to protect.

Today Benjamin taught me about how we deal with God when we're in need. This morning, after bath time - yes, baths in the morning. When I work so late at night, they get straight into bed! - Benjamin began whining, and I got him a glass of milk, but not just regular milk, chocolate milk, because I wanted him to really enjoy it today. Benjamin -clearly thirsty- lifted this milk to his mouth and drank it, every last drop. When he finished, he threw the cup to the floor and out of his mouth came a loud, "Ehhhhhhhhhh". Music to a mother's ears. He is still learning to talk, so I've been working with him. "More milk please?" I say to him. "EHHHHHHHH!" He says louder and acts annoyed that I'm not running to his request for "ehh". At this point, I see that my son has had all that he needs. He is still unsatisfied and needs to rest. I put my whiny boy in his crib, and he still whines, a bit, but within mere minutes he lulls off into sleep, satisfied and sweet.

When Ben threw his cup to the floor and whined after finishing his milk, I thought "How often do I forget God's provision when I am in need again?" "How often do I whine when trouble comes my way without looking back to His sweet kindness to me?" I also think about times when He graciously gives us things that we don't really want, like naps, but that we clearly are in need of. Lord help us to remember you in times of plenty and in times of few. Help us to lift you up in praise when we are tired and weary, and when we are strong and energized. Give us a great memory of your lovingkindness. And teach us not to throw our cups to the floor and whine when things get rough!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Priorities and Provision

I am certain that time will just escape me now that I am sitting down to write, but I am just shocked at how God has structured this day today. I have had many things to do, and, once I completed those tasks, I actually have time to sit and write! It is amazing to me! The children are napping! The floors are mopped and vacuumed! The carpet floor has been scrubbed for spots. The dishes are done and laundry is in the drier. The walls are wiped down and ready for painters to come in an paint an accent wall (courtesy of the apartment complex for renewing our lease. It also helps that there are crayon markings ALL OVER that particular wall from sweet children who took advantage of an ill parent one day last week!) Let me just run down a list of what God has blessed us with:

Time. I am finding more time in my days to do a daily quiet time and to spend time each evening in meditation, prayer, and reading. Nothing has changed as far as our work load. Nathan still is working two jobs and I have recently been promoted as a supervisor at my work. Nathan is also still taking classes, so this fresh sweet time we've been given to know Him better is a gift, and I do not know where it came from. Although I will add that the television has been disconnected from the antenna for over a month now, and we could not be happier about it!

The van is still a blessing to us. Because of the size of the vehicle, we have been able to fill it with other things that we'll need for the new baby. Just last week we were able to take home the following things that God provided:
A toddler bed for Benjamin so that the crib will be available for the new baby
A high chair for the new baby

It has been truly amazing how our needs have been met during this season. I could be searching for hours and hours on craigslist, and instead I have the honor and privilege of blogging about how God is faithful!

He is also showing me different ways that I need to rearrange my priorities at work and at home. On my refrigerator is a list (because I need constant reminders) of the things that are the most important responsibilities I have here on earth:

1. Daily Quiet Times (morning and evening). I can't be legalistic about having a quiet time two times a day, but there is nothing better than delighting in God's word and knowing Him and trusting Him. The most important thing we can do here on earth is to Know God, to accept His righteousness that has been given to us through Christ, to honor and enjoy Him all of our days in all of our circumstances. This has incredibly impacted my thought life, my awareness of spiritual warfare, my faith, and more. This scripture speaks plainly on the man who meditates on God's word day and night and cherishes His laws.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:1-3

2. Development of my Family.
Being intentional as a wife and a mother to encourage and support my husband and to train my children in faith and in life. In going through the Old Testament, you can find time and time again references of bad kings whose mothers did not love God wholeheartedly. Mothers have an incredible responsibility and influence on the direction of the lives of their children. We must be intentional to teach them about God while they are young. I am trying to understand what this looks like fleshed out and to determine what steps to take and how to organize our days so that this is number 2 in our lives. My husband also needs me to be a diligent helper, to be quick to encourage and slow to complain. He needs me to pray for him and with him and to submit to his requests without complaint.

3. Care of my Home. I have a responsibility to be a caretaker of the home I've been given. This will allow for ministry to continue to flow within our family without distractions from as much illness or clutter. This will give us the freedom to open our home to the community and give of ourselves in other ways. This is a work in progress right now, but Carolyn Mahaney is helping me to understand how to take great joy in working in the home, how to seek opportunities for teaching at every moment, and the freedom that exists when a home is well maintained.

4. Responsibilities at Work. Right now its my role to be an encourager to moms who work with me and to keep them organized and on task. This is something that I could spend all day every day working on. There is a black hole of progress that could be made in this area to lead these women and this child care center toward excellence, but because this is not my number one priority, I have been trying to put first things first. I still find myself doing more than I should and thanking God for showing me where I err (usually through the words of my mother!). I trust that He will grow the center and instill excellence in it as I devote myself to Him and His excellence.

Nathan begins his new job next week, and he is VERY excited about it. The kids are going to enjoy Him so much once he's home! I believe that is it for today! Off to work for the night!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

We stand in awe of Him!

What an adventure it's been lately! This family is just bustling, moving everywhere and in every way. So much has happened in the last few months, and my priorities for blogging have been low on the totem pole. Still even today, I want to limit my time here. There is always so much to do and so little time in the day. Not only that, but it's so important to be intentional in our relationships as well and to nurture into our children instead of just coexisting (or surviving!) with them. This is a daily struggle, as our life is paced at such a quick speed. I have stories to share about how God is bringing us a greater understanding, how He is slowing us down, how He is showing us more of Himself and making His name bigger. Let me start by explaining why I have been so absent.

1. My mother and father have both been in town for the birth of my little nephew (Cameron King). My sister was ill for several weeks, in and out of the hospital due to infections and high blood pressure, all of which created an unsafe environment for little Cameron.

Praise be to God that a healthy infant was born and is growing in our family now. Grace loves to visit with her Cameron and kiss him. It is quite sweet!

2. I have been working quite a bit and have had little reserve for anything but the home and the children. Within the last month, I have come to a fork in the road and have had several conversations with God about what He wants for us, why He is doing life the way He is and how we can be His through this experience and still maintain some balance, some sanity. I gave up control of my involvement in getting us a van. I told God that we needed a van because our family is growing, but that I physically could not do it anymore and still be devoted to the other responsibilities He's given me: a husband, a home, two children to grow and teach, a pregnancy, a job nurturing others' children. It was more than I could handle. It would have to be His miracle if He wanted us to have a larger car for this family that's starting to get a little on the big side (and hey, I'm not getting any smaller these days either!). God answered our prayer in a big way and brought us a van. We paid nothing for it. He did it. It was a gift. It was all His to do. He will help us with the repairs it needs to have done. I am in total awe at how He works, but more shocked in my lack of faith that He would do it. He knows the needs of His children. He hears their prayers, and He works in His timing. I pray that our family will not be forgetful like the Israelites in Egypt of the many miracles and blessings of provision that God continues to bring to us. He daily gives us food to eat and water to drink, clothing to protect from the elements, and so much more that we fail to recognize as His gifts to His people. Please take this as encouragement that ALL things are possible through Christ. This verse, I read just this morning, is encouragement that God hears His people:
if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14

In addition to the van, God has brought another career opportunity for Nathan. This is something that, we pray, will enable me to be able to invest more in the development of our children and family. This was another gift from God that we did not expect. Nathan had personally begun praying for God to allow Him to provide for us in a way that would bring me home and relieve some of my burden. This came through a phone call (Can you believe the van did too!), and it was an invitation to a field that Nathan has, in the past, performed very well in. I pray that we take each step, staying focused on who God is, what His desire is for His people, and who He wants for us to be. I pray that we do not become distracted by any ease on finances that may or may not come, but that we are solely focused on Kingdom building, in our family, in our church, and in our community and that we live our lives by faith.

3. Nathan continues his work at the church. We are so blessed to have joined this group of gracious people. They love and nurture us and our children in ways that we have never deserved. It is truly humbling. My busy work schedule and much exhaustion has taken me away from attending every Sunday, but God is faithful, and His people are, to bring sweet reunion every Sunday I return. Nathan adores investing in the youth there and teaching them how to dig into Scripture to know who God is and to be convicted by His Spirit into a full, sweet relationship with Him. He's seeing youth come to know Christ and is thrilled by the ways God is working in them and growing them.

4. My pregnancy is going well. I am now 24 weeks pregnant and have only one more once-a-month appointment left. From there, it's every two weeks or less until our little man comes home to us. The baby is growing so well and moving so wildly. He is having a blast in my womb. I believe he has created some sort of trampoline or something in there. I have been blessed to be free of many of the normal aches and pains of pregnancy that occurred early on with my previous two babies. Only recently have joints begun misplacing themselves. Only recently have I needed to take a break or slow down and rest from a task. I'm sad to say that this is now reflecting in our home! Grace is growing more and more excited about her growing little brother. We are all eager to meet this little squeaker!

I have so much more to update on, and I am so eager to continue to share what God is doing with our home and family, but this will have to wait for another time, as the children are napping, and I definitely need to rest before going into work tonight. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement to our family. We are in awe!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A Father's Day Update

Let me begin with an apology for not keeping this blog updated. As you can imagine, along with Summer began a whirlwind of life for our family. Nathan is still hard at school and his two jobs. He sacrifices so much and literally burns the midnight oil to care for his family. We are hit and miss on the home front right now. We are hoping within a few months to begin living a new normal. Nathan should be finished with school in August, and we will begin settling in and preparing for the reality of our growing family. (Forgive me if the update is brief, as today is father's day, and I'd like to get back to the festivities!) I'm still working also. I'm working a lot. We're praying that at the close of my pregnancy, God will allow me to focus on just being a mommy. And we're working very hard to try to make this happen. We're also planning a very monumental move to another part of the country to share the gospel with a group of people who are missing out on it. More on that later...

The pregnancy is going VERY well, unbelievably well. I don't remember it being this easy to carry a child. The last two, I worried with every twinge, but early on with this one, I told God that I needed Him to carry the burden of this pregnancy, and He really has. The baby is growing and has weight that I can feel. The baby is moving and rolling. It is becoming more and more exciting as each day closes. We'll learn more about our baby on June 24th at an ultrasound.

As all of the events and craziness of our home has continued to escalate, God has been teaching me about compassion. Since April, several people that have been close to my heart have lost loved ones (I can think of four families the very moment) and I have been beside myself with grief for them. I feel deeply convicted to "carry one another's burdens" and to make sacrifices in order to do this. This is where I fight the sin of selfishness and sloth, because, with so many other things occurring in the household, I could easily make an excuse for my unavailability. I do believe that God is showing me an area that he desires for me to grow and deny myself. And I hope that he continues to give me creative opportunities to deny myself for the gospel. I can tell you that it is so sweet when He teaches us about Himself.

That is all for now. Father's Day must resume. Let's remember to celebrate all of our hard working Dad's and take note of the many ways they sacrifice to give to the families God is giving them. Tell them "Thank you!" and mean it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Prayers for Stephen Curtis Chapman

Tonight, Stephen Curtis Chapman lost his youngest daughter in a tragic accident. His teenage son accidentally ran over his 5 year old sister tonight. She didn't make it. Please keep this family in your prayers.
Stephen Curtis Chapman is an incredible man who has adopted many children. This was one of their adopted children. I can't imagine the pain he and his family are experiencing tonight. I know even I am grieving heavily for them.

Breaking News

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

No Plan B's

I want to share a family that has been dear to my heart. The Smith family was in our community group at our church before we moved to minister somewhere else. They have left lasting memories of laughter, joy, and faithfulness. They are good people, good friends, they love God and His church. Recently, they have responded to great pain and trials with grace and faith, and their story can be found here.

Smith Family Story from Matthew Singleton on Vimeo.

This is a long video, but it is worth watching. Please hear their story. Angie's blog is here: Bring the Rain

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Because we all need a little fun in our lives.

Melissa tagged me, and I thought this would be fun. Even though I probably should be spending my time cleaning my home, I thought it would be a good idea to share things about our family

10 years ago: I was 15 and started my career as a car-hop at the Sonic Drive In. Sonic was the "best kept secret" in our town as far as employment for high schoolers went (at least I thought so!) I was a sophomore in high school and dated boys to bring the gospel to them. Each time, I realized this might not be the most effective way for this boy to find Jesus. I began getting involved in school politics and joined the student council and became a class officer and kinda stayed in both of those realms though high school. At 16 I was the president of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (even though I was NO sort of athlete. Can we say MARCHING BAND?!?!) and went to like 5 different summer camps, one for FCA leadership camp, World Changers, A Volunteer Girls State leadership camp, Centrifuge, and Band Camp. Being in a family of 4 children (three teenagers at the time), it was a busy time for our parents, I'm sure.

Things on my to do list today: prepare a somewhat healthy meal for my family, straighten the living room and start a load of laundry, discuss the April schedule with Nathan, Deep clean the bathroom in our room.

What would I do if I was suddenly became a Billionaire? Cry. Tithe. Cry again. Thank God and then pray a lot. Then pay off all debt. Get better cars (not new!), purchase a home in a location that God chooses, and pay for the kids' college funds, retirement, and then give to those God places in our path.

Three of my bad habits: I am a loud cleaner, apparently. I watch too much television. I don't trust God enough.

Five jobs I have had:
Car-Hop at the Sonic Drive In
Resident Advisor at Union University
Secretary at church
Managing Family Teacher at a Children's Home
Families First Case Worker in Nashville

Five things people don't know about me:
I am pregnant. Most people don't know this yet.
I make stupid jokes when I'm exhausted.
I am VERY competitive and not a good sport when it comes to most card games. Sorry.
I sing a lullaby from the movie "Dumbo" to my children.
I don't know what normal is anymore.

I'm tagging Melody Kopps.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Sometimes when life hits you like a ton of bricks, it helps to sit quietly and take it all in. That is what we have been doing for the past four weeks. God has carried us through a number of difficulties over the past 3 years or so. Lately, I was looking forward to breathing for a moment, recovering and trying to look forward to enjoying a season of sweet rest. Our youngest child has been sick most of his life, and it seemed like things were coming to a close. The doctors' bills might finally have a chance of being caught up on. We've been working like mad dogs, with Nathan working 2 jobs (one third shift) and going to school full time, and me working a part time job with the kids, it's been too crazy. He would graduate this Summer though, and it would slow down for a bit. We could finally stop running, stop working so hard, stop pushing until we had nothing in us. God had something else in mind. We have been blessed with another life to care for. We will be bringing another sweet child into this world sometime around October. I truly cannot describe what tremendous fear and trembling took place in the Wandell home as we saw the providence of God one up any plans I had in mind. His plans are way better, and clearly much more exciting!

Nathan and I have decided that it's "Game On" as far as Ben and Grace are concerned. There can be no more practice parenting in our home! Nathan and I will now be outnumbered, and that basically means that your children could possibly eat you alive. So we have our work cut out for us. I am halfway joking in this, of course. They won't literally eat us!

I will not post too much more tonight as I have another early morning tomorrow at work. I believe that God is sovereign, that He knows all things, that He knows what is best for His children, and the He is the creator and provider of all things. Therefore whatever need I present to Him, he cares about it and can fulfill it.

I have a doctor's appointment Monday, which I plan to be sharing on soon.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Union University

You can give to their disaster relief fund here:

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Two second t shirt

Have you EVER tried the two second t shirt fold?

It is totally rocking my laundry day! LOL! It REALLY WORKS! The video makes it seem more difficult than it really is.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Though the Earth Give Way

God is good, all of the time. He firmly displays the power of His strong hand. He covers our bodies with protection through the storm. He moves the winds and the rain to save his people. He builds a fortress around his children.
Tonight is the eve following a catastrophic storm at Union University in Jackson, TN. This was my alma mater. I met my husband at this school and we courted, fell in love, and planned our lives together all while at Union. I was a resident advisor at Union and remember enduring 3 tornados in Jackson, TN in one year. Two of the tornadoes were powerful enough to cause extensive damage and terrorize frightened young girls who were just learning how to live without the protection of their parents. The great damage caused during those storms (millions of dollars worth) is easily shadowed by last night's devastating storm. Many students were trapped by the buildings caving in all around them. Cars were strewn on top of cars (many, not just here and there). 20% of the dorms are liveable now. Buildings were destroyed. The power of the storm is unimaginable. But all students survived. God had His strong hand on His people. God kept the bathroom walls surrounding his frightened children intact while everything around them crumbled. It is illogical when you look at the pictures and see walls stripped completely from buildings, roofs gone, and the bathroom walls are still strong and stable.

Yes, we know that God could surely have taken people home last night. He could've done whatever He wanted to do. All He does is to draw His people to Himself. Last night He protected the people of Union University. They faced a storm and ran to God, their "refuge and strength"
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.

Psalm 46: 1, 2

Their Bibles were opened as the fierce winds attacked and their voices raised in prayer and petition for their lives, for protection, for God's glory in the midst of suffering. Their prayers were answered.

And today, my earth gave way in a manner of speaking. God brought to my attention that it is not my job to fix everything and that God is perfectly capable (that doesn't do Him justice!) to take care of things on His own time and in His own way. He showed me this by allowing a circumstance that I can do nothing about. Benjamin is sick and will need outpatient surgery. It breaks my heart that he is so sick. It also hurts to know that I cannot fix it for him or take it from him. God has given him such stamina. I want my son to be well, but I also want to know God, to know what he is doing with these circumstances to show Himself to us. I know that God wants me to see Him, to grow with Him, to trust myself less and Him more. I weep as my empty hands have nothing to offer my suffering son. But God's hands are strong and His supply is endless. He is the protector and provider, creator of all things, and He will provide in this circumstance as well. He promises to never leave or forsake His children. He has plans for Benjamin's life that will bring glory to His name. If that includes deafness, then God will do it. If that includes a full recovery and miraculous healing, then God WILL do it. And I will pray that God's name be honored in the midst of this, that God increase our faith in HIS all sufficient power.

These everyday, physical needs, pains, desires encompass so much of our life, but Christ has SO much more to offer. He offers water that, once we drink of it, we will never thirst again. He has salve for our spiritual eyes and spiritual food that is fulfilling and rich. He offers life, eternal with His Holy father. True rest and a heart that is at peace. Lord, I want all you have to offer and more! Saturate our family with spiritual blessings. Continue to give us opportunities to run to you, whatever it takes.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Forgive us our sins

Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.

All thanks to God our Father who has forgiven every debt I owed and placed His sweet hand of peace over my heart. Help me show the same mercy, to reflect Christ in offering both cheeks, giving my cloak and tunic, going the extra mile or more and being willing to lay down my life for another man, regardless of what I (a mere human) believes they might deserve. Father, You are giver of ALL things, and things are not YOU. YOU are the real deal, and You are all that we want, all that we need!

Here is scripture for today that is quite significant.

Matthew 18: 15-35
A Brother Who Sins Against You
15"If your brother sins against you,[b] go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. 16But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that 'every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'[c] 17If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

18"I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be[d]bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e] loosed in heaven.

19"Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. 20For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."

The Parable of the Unmerciful Servant
21Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?"

22Jesus answered, "I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.[f]

23"Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. 24As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents[g] was brought to him. 25Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

26"The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' 27The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

28"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii.[h] He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded.

29"His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.'

30"But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. 31When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

32"Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.

35"This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

Monday, January 21, 2008

To Young Believers

In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, "Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market! John 2:14-16
Righteous anger. I saw it this week in a young man. Banging his fist, pleading with his brother to flee from the snare of Sin. I remember when I was young, it was so easy to question whether I made the right choice or not, wondering whether I should have clung so strongly to those convictions. I am so pleased to see how God is working and the Holy Spirit is convicting even the youngest of His children. The strength in conviction, the sorrow in seeing sin cover another's heart, and the passion and resolution to take ownership, to care enough for a spiritual sibling to do something about it.

My encouragement to young believers: Do not lose heart! Your words and your enthusiasm for the Gospel is an encouragement to your young friends but also to older believers. We relish moments to catch young brothers and sisters fighting the fight with us. We are thrilled to work alongside you, young sister, young brother.

A word from 1 Timothy for young believers.
Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives' tales; rather, 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...Command and teach these things. Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching. Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders laid their hands on you. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress. Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. Excepts from 1 Timothy 4
To my younger siblings, I am thankful for you and what God is doing in you, drawing you and the people in your circle closer to Him! God's grace be with you.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

As Rich as Dirt

Today, stewardship is on the mind. John Piper was a catalyst for this in a sermon on marriage. These two topics of marriage and money in relation to stewardship may not make much sense as I pound it out here. I am still chewing on this.
God's ultimate provision.

Today John Piper preached profoundly on the purpose of marriage. He stated that the purpose of marriage was Children. Some may agree or disagree, but scripture is clear on this. Piper stated that marriage's goal is not just the procreation of children in general, but the procreation of believers, whether it be biological children or not. The purpose of marriage is a united people using their gifts and abilities to grow followers of Jesus Christ. This is profound in that we rarely consider the neighbor kids across the street to be called our "children" or even in my Sunday School class, I rarely consider the children that I teach the gospel to weekly, to be children of my lineage. But they are, when I covenant with God to grow and bring them to the truth of the Gospel, they grow under my spiritual lineage, which is Christ's, David's, Abraham's.

Another fantastic point that Piper made was that if we are single or not, we should still show hospitality to fellow believers. Regardless of our resources (an apartment that is "too small" or a "limited personality") we should steward the gifts and resources that God has given us to practice hospitality with fellow believers. I wonder what other resources we are not using or stewarding to God and his people. Our money is so often a point of contention for so many believers. We work hard so that we can earn money and provide for our family to be "obedient" believers. Scripture has never encouraged believers to obtain money. Scripture has only encouraged us to work because we are required to labor, to steward God's resources.

Being a mother of two very young children, it is very difficult to get to the movie theatres. There is one movie, however, that I was able to see about 15 minutes of which speaks to the issue of money and stewardship. Water World. I believe that all I know about the film is that the currency in this world of water is dirt or land because there is just so little of it. The characters fought over land and just a small amount of dirt was a great amount of wealth for a man. I just wonder, "Who decided Gold was the standard currency today?" Who determined that gold would be what people desired and traded and stole and killed for? If we used dust as currency, our family would be doing quite well. It just points out to me how easy and foolish idolatry is. Nothing is greater than God.

"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money."

Try to imagine what God thinks when he watches us toil and worry over money, over being able to make ends meet and thrive. I imagine he feels like he is watching Water World. It's such a twisted thing for God's people to still worry about providing money "a mortal concept" to care for their family, while these same people believe and worship The God who is creator of all things, giver of all things, provider of all things. God provided bread falling from the sky to care for his children. Before this, manna had never been seen or heard of. God, in his ultimate creativity, will find ways to provide for His children who love Him. Money is something this world has created to worship and we should avoid the worship of, the worry over, money. I am deeply convicted by this and pray that God will provide more depth of insight and practice on how to love God more than worldly things.

Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him—for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work—this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20