There is only one word that can possibly describe the last two days of weather. TEXAS! Only in Texas would you have a news station with live coverage all day long regarding the winter blast! News reporters all over the metroplex reporting on traffic, school closings, snow falling, ice falling, temperatures falling. It is the story of the day, no doubt about it. Yesterday, it was 80 degrees. Yes, 80! I wore flip-flops to my doctor's appointment! Today, if I were ABLE to leave the house, I would be wearing my very warm Ugg boots, gloves, a hat, etc. It is freezing cold!
You see in Texas, our weather does not gradually change. It does not slowly warm up or slowly cool down. While it may seem a little fickle, it's really not. When it decides to change, it changes!Currently it is 28 degrees, with wind chill of 16 degrees. And while we may sound like a bunch of Texas, winter weather, wimps, we are not! It's a different kind of cold here. It will cut 'cha! That cold wind will tear into you like nothing you have ever felt before. Often I hear Texans being made fun of because people say we don't know how to drive in this weather. Well, if we only got snow here, that would be different. But we get ICE and lots of it. AND living in the Metroplex means you are surrounded by nothing but bridges and overpasses. This is why schools close and people stay home from work to sip on hot chocolate all day long. Ahhhh, I love it!
My almost four year old has stood at the window all day waiting for the snow to come. Finally it is snowing but the flakes are not very big. I can count on my two hands the number of times there has been enough snow in Texas to actually build a snowman. It happens, but not very often!
For now, I will fold laundry, maybe make some Christmas cookies, make some decaf coffee or hot chocolate for the kids and place my pizza order online with Papa John's EARLY. The pizza man will be the busiest man alive come 6pm! I don't want to wait two hours for pizza!
Watch out Texans! The ice of Texas is upon you!
I would love to wait it out, go into labor on my own or start having contractions at 37 weeks like I did with Ava Beth and THEN be induced to speed up the labor a little. That's what I am hoping for! But, my Mom will be on a cruise during my 38th week of pregnancy for the whole SEVEN days! I want my Mom to be there. I want her in the room again when this baby is born! So, I have to wait. I have to! If I am able to keep this little boy in, he will not be born until week 39. My history shows, the sonogram shows, the measurements show that me having a 39 week baby means he will be BIG! My dates are right but this mama just has big babies!
Mom, Dr. Neal said I need to prepare you now. That both of us need to prepare for this baby to be born while you are in JAMAICA! Or wouldn't it be cool if he came before you left. Well, no because then I would not have you around to help or give the first bath like you always do. As soon as he was born, you would be on your way to climbing the Dunns River Falls or swimming with stingrays! Wait, don't swim with the stingrays!
I've never made it to 39 weeks but if I do, Lord please let this baby's head be small! :)
Do you see these flip flops? And these pants? Yep, my Forever 21 gauchos that I wear almost EVERY single day because they are so comfortable!! Well, tomorrow it will be almost 60 degrees cooler in Dallas so the flip flops will have to go and I will have to wear my chocolate brown Uggs that my husband HATES and I think I will have to wear some warmer pants! This outfit I wear almost DAILY! Now if only I could go braless, THEN I would be comfortable but THAT would not be good! It's official! I am at the Oh my back stage! Oh my feet stage! Oh my ribs stage! Oh the baby just kicked my bladder and I have to pee like a race horse stage! My husband is hating sharing a bed right now, I sound like I have asthma when I walk around the mall and I need help getting up off the floor! Polishing my toe nails and shaving this morning was not fun and wrapping Christmas Presents should be LOTS OF FUN! I have always LOVED my baths in my big bath tub. Now I struggle just to get out!
But, I love it! I really do. Promise I do. Doctor said urine is good, blood pressure perfect and weight gain right on track AND baby looks wonderful. My doctor called me Ms. Perfect today! Now THAT's what I like to hear! But can I be honest? REALLY HONEST? I feel like total CRAP! :)Off to take a nap while the kids nap!
P.S. Before you yell at my Mom for taking a vacation during her only daughter's 38th week of pregnancy. The cruise was planned AND paid for before I got pregnant. Ezekiel was a surprise!
Gracie was originally from Fort Worth, Texas. She was a beauty with her gorgeous white, curly hair. Her smile was soft and gentle but unforgettable. I wasn't sure how to act, what questions to ask or how to make her feel special so I decided to look around the room at her pictures. There were no pictures of family. Instead the room was filled with pictures of her and her late husband. The pictures were black and white and obviously taken many years ago. Gracie was close to eighty years old and the pictures seem to be of her when she was in her twenties. As I sat in her room and commented on her pictures, she told me that she loved to dance. She explained that her and her husband used to go dancing almost every night when they were young. For a while we talked about dancing and then she asked if I had children. "No mam. I have only been married about six months. But we do plan to start trying as soon as our house is finished being built." Her face seemed fascinated by my response. I don't remember exactly what she said but it was something about marriage and how exciting it was to be a new bride. I then asked her about her husband and she was full of stories. She did tell me that they never had children but she wanted them badly. I am sure there was a story behind that but I had never spent time with an Alzheimer patient before. I wasn't sure what I could ask, whether or not I should have asked or anything else. It was a great visit, an unforgettable day so I decided that I needed to go back and see her again.
The next time I went, I took a girlfriend from work with me. We took a long lunch and headed over to the home. On this day, Gracie was different. She seemed to be having a rough day. Her words, her countenance, her stories were completely different. The hardest thing was her not remembering me. It was hard for me to sit and talk with her without having tears come to my eyes. Sadly, I did not go back.
This morning I was on my way with the kids to meet friends at the mall. I had not thought about Gracie in a long time but this morning the memory of her came flooding back when I passed the Alzheimer Home she stayed at. My life has changed so much since the time I met Gracie. I am no longer a newlywed, we no longer live in the house we were building when I met her, we have two kids and one due in January. And in four months I will have a 31st birthday. Wow! Passing the home, I could not help but wonder if Gracie was still alive. I thought about all the women inside the home that used to be just like me. They all ran around town, shuffled the kids to and from, grocery shopped, made countless dinners for their husbands and struggled with feelings of inadequacy. Some days they woke up feeling pretty, some days they felt the extreme opposite. They had spats with their husbands, problems with their kids and daydreamed of a long, hot, bath without someone standing at the door yelling, "Mommy!" They struggled with their pasts, they struggled to forgive and they constantly had to remind themselves that their value came from God and God alone.
Now these women no longer battle with their toddlers over what they will eat. They no longer worry about keeping the house clean, getting supper fixed or finding the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Instead she walks into a room forgetting what she was there for. She struggles to remember familiar words. She even has trouble remembering where she once lived or where she lives now. She can no longer balance a checkbook, she struggles to be social, she forgets where she left her watch and she may have even forgotten about her very own children. She had no idea that one day her memories would be taken and the incredible life she once lived would only be a dream.
Today Gracie is tugging at my heart. She is reminding me of how special my family is, how important it is to make today count and how beautiful I am as a woman. I'm quite sure Gracie had days where she felt like she couldn't get it all done. Whether or not she had children, she for sure felt the pressure every woman feels to be somebody in this world. And she was somebody! She had a story to tell. She was a friend, a daughter, a wife and maybe a mother too. She had something to offer, something to give, something to gain and I pray that she found it before that horrible disease took over her life.
We never know what the future brings. There is no way to know what will happen to us, to our Mothers, to our girlfriends. But for me personally, I do know this. I want to be a woman that not only shares my story, but I pray that I will give others a story to tell. May my smile bring warmth to those feeling discouraged, my eyes bring hope to those feeling hopeless, my hands bring help to those in need, my heart bring love to those needing to feel loved. And most of all I pray that my words will bring life to those feeling desperate. May I truly show them the love of Jesus in every way possible.
I am just like Gracie. I have a purpose, I always will. A day may come when I am not sure who I am. I pray it doesn't but I pray that I will make every second of every day COUNT.
As wives, daughters, mothers and friends, we stay busy. We are women, that's what we do. The world doesn't run very well without us, does it? We run all over town, we start new traditions, we make memories. Even when it seems routine and even when we feel like the ugliest gal in Wal Mart, we are women to be praised. We owe it to ourselves to live it the fullest! Serve our husbands and children with all we got and spread the message of Christ in every single thing we do.
This is my purpose. This is what I will set out to do! My memories of Gracie reminded me of this today so, I pray that my renewed spirit can bring renewal to you. We really are daughters of a king, so let's live it!
Won't you join me?!
My almost four year old is really excited about books right now. He can't get enough of books! Although he can't quite read yet (we are working on it), he memorizes each page I read and then reads the book to me or his sister. It's amazing to hear him read it exactly like me. His voice inflections, his facial expressions, he mimics it all. Listening to my son as he reads (he thinks he is reading), reminds me of how he is learning now to share his story with the rest of the world, just like I did.
I will never forget the first time I heard my pre-school teacher read the Monster at the end of this Book. With each line she read, the anticipation grew. I, like Grover, truly believed that there WAS a Monster at the end of the book. The four year old imagination is priceless! As four year olds, we don't always analyze things, we just believe it. And I believed that at the end of the book, there would be a Monster. Never in a million years did I think it was Grover! But the reader had me convinced! She convinced me and every other four year old in the class room that there was something big coming at the end. The drama she added by prying the pages apart, pretending like she couldn't turn the pages anymore, made my heart beat a little faster. It made me giggle. It made us all giggle! No one could tell a story like this lady, no one! After the book was read to us the first time, we all knew. We all knew how the story would end. We all knew that there wasn't any monster. It was only Grover. But we still wanted more! We wanted to hear the book again. Many times we would ask the teacher to read it again as soon as she finished the first time. A few times she did and we would scream out loud, "DO NOT TURN THE PAGE, DON'T DO IT!" The book was an easy read, a short one too. The content wasn't that incredible and the story forgettable but the reader was the greatest story teller ever. That's what made it my favorite book. That's what made me want to read out loud for the rest of my life. And guess what? I do. I still read out loud.
"Amanda, you are a Kinesthetic-tactile learner. You want to touch it, see it, feel it, smell it, taste it. You want every part of it! ", Ms. Lively once said. My junior year in High School, I had a teacher that always, always called on me to read aloud. Ms. Lively told me that she knew I was someone that soaked up every word I read aloud. I loved her! She made me feel good about myself. She believed in me and she used to tell me that I was born to tell stories. I will never forget standing in front of my class to read a paper I had written. Everyone had to read that day and if you didn't read it to the class, you instantly failed the assignment. After I finished reading my paper,Ms. Lively looked at me, smiled and said "Amanda, I love to hear you read. You always make me interested. Always." I can see Ms. Lively's face and hear her voice like it was yesterday. While she may not be too impressed with the many writing errors I often display on this blog, I think she would be proud. She encouraged me to keep writing, to keep sharing my story and to be sure and share it with the world. So that's what I am doing Ms. Lively.
Over the past few days I have been Christmas Shopping quite a bit. While out and about, I went into a popular book store looking for books to buy Josiah. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw the Monster at the end of this Book. Since becoming a mother almost four years ago, I have looked for this book often. I have day dreamed about reading this book to my own children, hoping they would love the story just as much as me. Or maybe not so much the story but the story telling! Of course, I decided to buy the book and put it in Josiah's stocking. I can't wait! I can't wait to read this to him and Ava Beth and Ezekiel. May my children feel comfortable telling their story out loud. That is what we were all created to do, I believe.
This book reminds me of something very important. Ms. Lively reminds me of something very important. My story counts! People want to hear it, people need to hear it and I just may be able to change a little part of this world by letting the whole world hear me tell it OUT LOUD!
My husband gave me strict orders to NOT clean the house or anything else today. He said, "Babe, don't do anything but rest. I will take care of the house. You and that baby need to do nothing but lay on the couch." Seriously ladies, I am one blessed Mama to have a husband like that! I've been calling him McHottie all week and he LOVES it. I could not have done this order without him. He is already thinking of ways to make it easier on me for the Christmas order AND he told me I could get a massage today at Mom's salon but the massage lady was booked. I really need to dote on my man and brag to all of you. Our men need that!
So now that I am done and have all of my profit in hand. I will for sure be heading to Target on Friday! I can't wait! Christmas shopping will be something these 30 week pregnant feet have to deal with because I am not missing out on the sale. No way
Oh and I feel the need to say this so I am going to. I have received email after email today about boycotting Wal-Mart this Friday. I am not sure how I feel about this and many of you probably would not care to hear my opinion but I do know that Wal-Mart's employees have been given permission to say Merry Christmas this year. Will I be going to Wal-Mart this Friday? Yes. Do I believe that Homosexuality is a sin? Yes. However, my thoughts on boycotts will not be popular among Christians AT ALL. But here's the deal, I don't really care.I do know this. If we ever want homosexuals to be saved or walk through the doors of our churches, we need to change our attitude BAD! Boycotts have a lot of anger behind them. Boycotts do not show the love of Jesus. As for Target, well a lot of people don't shop there either because of the Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas greeting. I've done my research and last year during all of the commotion I was told by a Target cashier to have a Merry Christmas. Another time I was told nothing and I chose to say Merry Christmas.
I have a lot of friends boycotting Wal-Mart. I don't think badly of them, I don't question them. If that is what they choose to do, then so be it. I don't agree and that's okay too.
Okay so back to my happy blog. I never intended on talking about this but it just came out!
The kids are at my mom's until tomorrow. They left yesterday so me and my sous-chef could get crazy in the kitchen making cheeseballs! However, things are not going as quickly today. My sous-chef (aka-husband) had to go back to HIS job today so I am left alone. It's just me, my oven, my KitchenAid mixer and my Christmas music. Between the four of us, it will all get done!
Tomorrow at this time, I will be DONE until the next big order comes for Christmas! Until then, it's CRAZY over here!
But I would like to thank my wonderful and talented husband, who has become the greatest sous-chef of all time in Kitchen Stadium. Shhh...Don't tell! I am quite sure Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, Masaharu Morimoto or that cute Cat Cora would try and steal him away from me. He helped make some dang good cheeseballs yesterday! Forty to be exact! You aint' never seen someone chop onions like my man!
Back to baking!
I'm really, really struggling right now. Last week was a very tough week and some of the stuff that went on is spilling over into this week. It's not so much the conflict that was going on, it's the aftermath. I can't shake the anger, I can't shake the hurt, I just can't shake this off. This morning my almost four year old came into my bedroom where I was cleaning and asked me to do something for him. His request irritated me, BIG TIME. It wasn't that I did not want to help him, it was how he asked for help. There is something that really sends me over the edge and sends me there pretty quickly. Whining! I cannot stand it! What mother can? Quickly I reminded him that I could not hear him. "Josiah, I cannot hear your voice when you whine. So change your tone, then ask." For some reason, he could not do it. He was stuck in that mode and could not find his way out. I got down on my knees and looked him straight in the eye. "Josiah, you can do this. Shake it off. Shake that body. Shake that whining off!" It was really kind of cute because when he started to shake all around, he started to laugh. Then I said, "Okay take a big, deep breath. Now let it out." We did this together. "Okay Josiah, ask me now. But remember I need you to ask like a big boy, a four year old, not a baby." And he asked without the whining! He got what he wanted, I felt better and I believe he learned a lesson and I think I did too. Soon after, the Holy Spirit reminded me of some things I need to shake off. There are some things that have really been sticking to me. No doubt, I have been stuck! Like Josiah sometimes falls into that whining mode, I often do the same. For some reason it is easier to be mad, it's easier to want justice to be served, it is easier to burn a bridge than to build one. In fact, I have some friends that have a saying they use often. "Build a bridge and get over it." Well sometimes I don't want to get over it. Sometimes I just want to be mad, complain and cast blame. And that my friends is something I must to shake off!
Anger will keep me out of God's Word. It will keep me from communing with Him and spending time with him. I know that anger does not match up with God's will for my life so while I am in the midst of it, I miss out on many blessings. I know as soon as I drop to my knees or as soon as I open my Bible, the anger will have to be checked at the door. But as I said before, sometimes I just want to be mad and take the anger with me wherever I go. I'd rather fulfill my flesh! This is especially easy to do when I know I haven't done anything wrong. When I know that I am being accused or treated unfairly, I want to lash out. The Lord has given me many tests over the past year. He has allowed me to be in situations where I was falsely accused. Situations where my reputation was on the line and situations where I have been done dirty, really dirty. From false accusations to all of my maternity clothes and crib bedding being thrown in the trash or not returned. And every single time I think I have forgiven, every single time I think I no longer hurt, it comes back. The pain resurfaces, it regenerates, it screams at me to be angry again. Too often I choose to be angry instead of choosing to let it go.
The past month has been a huge struggle for me spiritually. A lot of things have distracted me and I have allowed them to do so. I have not been in the Word like I need to be. I have not been in that attitude of worship and I have no one to blame but myself. Today I got in my Bible and read. The very first thing I read was in Proverbs 14. "A wise woman builds her house; a foolish woman tears hers down with her own hands. " Then in verse eleven it says, "The house of the wicked will perish, but the tent of the godly will flourish." So what am I doing to build my house? Anger and unforgiveness in my heart will eventually cause me to tear my own house down. Not only my physical house that I live in but my temple, my body. Instead of anger, I need peace, a calmness, forbearance. Otherwise, anger will infiltrate through every part of my life. I desire this tent to flourish! It can't when there is anger, it's impossible. I have to shake it off or, my family, myself, my tent will suffer. Anger and unforgiveness can even cause my health to even decline, I loose sleep, I loose everything. All the ground I have gained in this life by overcoming challenges will mean nothing if I let anger poison me. I have to make the choice to not CHOOSE anger.
So there it is, there's my confession. I need your prayers right now. I have been angry and much of the time I have chosen to be angry. The things that happened last week within my family have really hurt me and I am having a very difficult time letting go. Also I am still dealing with some unforgiveness from the church situation we came from. Even though it has now been a year and a half, some things were said and done that still really hurts. I have had a bad attitude about it. I have wanted others to pay for what they have done and I know that type of attitude is not GODLY. While I have grown leaps and bounds and have been able to find a lot of resolve, I am still not where I need to be.
Thank you for your prayers.
Lord, the unforgiveness in my life towards those that have hurt me has hit me like a ton of bricks this week. I often think that I have dealt with things when I really haven't. It would be so much easier to be hurt by stangers instead of family members and friends that you love so much. I pray that you will use this pain to remind me of how to treat others. I never want to be someone that someone else is having a hard time forgiving because of pain I have caused. Father, help me to love and to love those that have hurt me. Right now I am having a hard time forgiving and I can't love until I forgive. Thank you for always forgiving me. Thank you for speaking through my Josiah this morning. Help me Lord, help me to truly SHAKE it off! I am tired of the whining my flesh is doing! And Lord please forgive me for the anger I have been choosing to hold onto this week.
When I was pregnant with Josiah, I worked with another woman who was pregnant and due just a few weeks after me. We talked non-stop about our pregnancies and it was a first for both of us. One day I showed her the stuff I had picked out for the nursery. I was about twenty weeks pregnant at the time. After showing her all the stuff I had picked out, I asked her if she knew what she was doing in her nursery. She explained that her and her husband were not going to buy or plan anything until the baby was here, in her hands and healthy. I was shocked! She went on to tell me that she has heard too many stories of bad things happening and in her culture, it was bad luck to buy things before the baby came. It was obvious to me that her pregnancy was driven by fear. I resigned my position at twenty-five weeks so I could enjoy being home before the baby came. We lost contact and I am not sure how the rest of her pregnancy went but I do know she delivered a healthy baby girl. But the entire time we worked together while pregnant, she was fearful. If the baby did not move, she freaked. If she didn't throw up one day, she panicked. She called the doctor for everything. Instead of being happy that the morning sickness had ceased, she feared that the baby had died and that's why she was no longer having symptoms. While I drank my daily Dr. Pepper, she told me I was putting my baby in danger for having any caffeine. And then there was the fetal monitor that went with her every where she went. At times I would worry about myself just because of the fear she had. During that time I could not help but think, "Why would God want me to worry for nine months when I should be happy about the prayer he has answered?"
When Josiah was fifteen months old, I had a miscarriage. It was one of the most difficult times in my life. But, I didn't stay down in that depressed pit for long. I was determined to find joy and I did. During that time of grief, I learned how sweet the comfort of the Holy Spirit is. I am grateful for that time. Three months later, I was pregnant with Ava Beth. When I was pregnant those first few months with her, I was tempted to be afraid many times. I took a pregnancy test, saw that I was pregnant and was so excited then a few days later, I was fearful. I lived from sonogram to sonogram, heartbeat to heartbeat, doctor's appointment to doctor's appointment. Then I realized how much I was sinning by being so worried about the pregnancy. I spent a lot of time in prayer, a lot of time. While doing so I realized that God wants to bless me. He longs to make my dreams come true. He wants to give me the desires of my heart. It is in HIS will for me to be a Mommy. But worrying so much was taking the gift away that He was giving me. One afternoon when I was about fifteen weeks with Ava Beth, I wrote a letter to myself that I believe was from the Lord. I could sense the Holy Spirit speaking to me, calling my name so I began to write. I still have that letter. I still have all that He whispered into my ear that day (Jeremiah 33:3). Every now and then I read it to remind myself that God wants to bring blessings to my life. It doesn't mean that bad things won't happen, they will. But I don't have to live in fear of them. My childhood taught me to fear when things were going well. I learned to question things when I was feeling happy or fulfilled. I had the mindset that if things were going smooth, I better look out for trouble to come. I learned to function in fear and chaos, that's what I did best. It was very difficult for me to learn to be content, happy and free from fear. However, my pregnancy with AB changed me in many ways. It was during those nine months that I finally felt like I had permission to be happy.
This pregnancy has been totally different from the others. From the moment I took the pregnancy test, I have felt at peace. Of course I was nervous the first few Doctor's visits, that's to be expected. But something has been absent from this pregnancy, fear. Not a day goes by that I don't think about how special this baby is. The other two, including the miscarriage was a planned pregnancy. We have been so blessed to be able to get pregnant just by thinking about it, we have never had to try and I don't take that for granted. I know what a blessing that is for women. This baby was not planned. We knew we wanted another one, we knew we wanted to try in August or September. We already have a December baby and a January baby so we wanted to wait and make sure this baby was after the holidays and after the other two kid's birthdays. But, the Lord decided something different. Obviously I knew there was a chance I could get pregnant on that night of conception and I told my husband it would probably happen and it did. So much for planning! We will have a December baby and two January babies! With the absence of fear, this pregnancy has been so much fun. It hasn't been as hard as the other two, it's been easier. My body hurts and yes I am uncomfortable but I am not anxious, I am not counting down the days. I am truly enjoying every single moment and it makes me sad to think about it being over. Of course I am thrilled about meeting Ezekiel, my baby boy, but I am loving every kick, roll and hiccup that I am feeling right this very moment. My hormones aren't going crazy and I feel good. My mom says sometimes she forgets I am pregnant because I am so different than I used to be. I can think of many reasons why this pregnancy has been so awesome (not that the other two haven't). Our geographic location ( we moved closer to family and Jeremy's job), the people in our lives, the place we are at spiritually and so much more. But I think the biggest thing is how much I have changed. I don't want to live in fear, I refuse to.
That's the key! We have to refuse fear when it comes our way! Watching the news, reading the paper, hearing stories, even reading blogs about tragedies or reading blogs about children born with medical issues, too much of it can bring fear. There is nothing wrong with being aware or helping carry the burdens of others but we have to be careful to not take it on as our own. Yesterday, after hearing about the precious woman who lost her baby, I allowed myself to get carried away. So I had to think through it and realize that yes, this could happen to me. I could also get cancer, die in a car accident or even loose my husband, a child or my mom or dad. It's hard to say those things, it's hard to even think about them. These are the things that no one understands and things that we wish God would not allow. But it happens. And when and if it does, what are we going to believe? I know by now that God will always sit on the throne. I know by now that no matter what happens, He will hold me in the palm of his hands. I know by now that no matter what, I will serve Him. How about you?
This is what I have to do. This is the place I have to go to remind myself that I can't be ruled by fear. Instead I have to enjoy every second and sometimes sit back and soak up all that God has done and is doing in my life and the life of my family. I choose to live my life without fear. It's hard sometimes but I have to refuse it when it comes my way. That's the only way to live, the only way. Otherwise, we are wasting our time and I believe we are wasting God's time. We can't be used if we are trapped in fear. So for all of you pregnant ladies and all my pregnant friends, ENJOY THIS TIME. Sit back, relax and take it all in because God has answered your prayers.
Please be in prayer for D'Ann and Troy, the parents who just lost their unborn baby. They need all of us to hold them up in prayer.
"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27
"No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." Psalm 91:10-11
"For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
My husband also knows by now to follow my Christmas insanity so he has whole heartedly agreed to get everything down from the attic. (Mom, has Poppy/James agreed to do this for you?) I am so excited! I can't wait to look at all the stuff I have that I did not remember buying last year(the Hobby Lobby sales are too hard to pass up). In every room, a touch of Christmas will be found. Even in the bathrooms! It's time to change out dish towels, hand towels, picture frames, candles and so much more! And yes, we are now listening to Christmas music, watching Polar Express, A Charlie Brown Christmas (my favorite) and more.
This is the time of year that truly brings so much joy to my heart. The traditions I have started with my children are something I cherish so much. This year I will bake cookies with Ava Beth, put out the nativity scene with Josiah (this year he will be excited), shop and wrap presents with Jeremy and so much more. The trips to look at Christmas lights, the train rides, and the annual trip to see Santa. Ava Beth and I will look for a special Christmas dress for Christmas Eve, Josiah and I will look for Daddy a new Christmas ornament and of course there are the Christmas pajamas that I will buy this week for the kid's Christmas picture! But most importantly, celebrating the birth of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and teaching my children what Christmas truly means, that is what the season is all about.
I love Christmas. It is truly, my favorite thing in the whole world!
Those that do not blog and those that have not read my blog from the beginning have no way of knowing my heart or my purpose. For those of you that blog, you must realize by now that many people think bloggers are weird and insane for using something like the internet for an online journal. But oh well! There are things that I have not shared on this blog, things I will never share. I do feel that I have protected my Dad in many ways AND I am very prayerful about what I divulge. Also, my faithful readers know that I have honored my Dad many times, many times. It's funny because as I have written about my Dad, I have always been able to do it with forgiveness in my heart. However, I will say that we still have many issues in our relationship and sometimes, most of the time, I feel like walking away for good because I no longer want to hurt how I used to hurt. I have been told many times, "Get over it Mandi. It was a long time ago." That statement kills me. If I was letting it rule my life, if I was letting it ruin my marriage, if I was letting it take control of who I am, then I think that statement would be warranted. I am confident and 100% sure when I say, I am not being ruled by my past. You know why? Because I talk about it and I will continue to talk about it until Jesus comes back! Otherwise, that pain was wasted and all those years I learned to fall at the feet of Jesus will mean nothing if I don't share my message of hope. I have had victory in my life and I want to teach other women how they can have the same!
I believe that this has happened for a reason. In many ways I am relieved. I am pretty sure that authors who write books about their life have to deal with the aftermath (family). If you are a preacher or a minister in any way, exposing the past will always expose others. I will not wait for my Dad to be gone from this earth before I feel safe in sharing my story. Can you imagine the people that go on Oprah to come clean or reveal pain from their past? I am sure they are crucified when they return home. Men, Women and children are abused daily. It may be sexual, verbal or emotional. Whatever it is, it's abuse. Then the abuser expects them to keep silent, protect them and not share their story because they don't want to look bad. Well, you don't know my Dad's name and many of you don't even know who I am. You know I live in Texas and my name is Amanda, that's it. But someday you will know me. I will write a book, I will speak to women all over this world and I will tell my story all day.
A very good friend of mine, Cheri, gave me some medicine last night through an email. It was good for my soul, no doubt. I needed it! Something she said really helped me and gave me something to grab a hold of. Here it is.
"Do not compromise your heart, your ministry or what God has called you to do because they can't handle the truth. It's not about THEM, it's about you, who you are and why you are.....Esther spoke out knowing that it could be the death of her, but she was obedient anyway, and God blessed her with Favor in High Places....I believe the same is in store for you. Continue to speak the truth in love and with Godly beauty."
Wow. That's what I am going to do. That's what I have to do because that's what I am called to do. Thank you Cheri! And thank you to my friends who come along and hold me up in prayer. I am so thankful to know that there are people out there that truly KNOW my heart. You are Godly people who know that God has called me to share my story and you embrace it with me. You give me strength and I love each and every one of you. Thank you. This isn't a post for my Dad or my brother or any other family member that may be lurking. This is for my readers and it's for me. I'm sad tonight and I am hurting because I know my Dad is hurting. I just had to get on here and write. That's all I know to do. I haven't seen my niece since she was born and the expectations I had of a relationship with my brother and his fiancee are in question. I don't know if that will continue or happen for quite sometime. I have to stay true to what God is doing in my life and I have to stay true to the teaching and counseling I have received over the years. The thought of family relationships being severed is a painful thing to think about but it's crucial for me to keep my boundaries in place and even make new ones if needed. Boundaries are tough and not fun for anyone to keep in place and especially not fun for others to respect. Our Thanksgiving will be different, our Christmas will be different. It hurts, it sucks, it's just plain awful for everyone but as long as my husband and my babies and my Lord are pleased with me, that's all that matters. This is something I have to remind myself over and over again. Family is the place where you can find the greatest love on earth and unfortunately, the most pain too. Right now, I would like to have the first but the pain runs deep. We need your prayers, we really do.
Thank you for listening my friends. Thank you so, so much.
Lord, you know that if it wasn't for my Dad, I would not know you. Thank you for my Dad kneeling down by the bed with me that day when I was five years old as I prayed a prayer with Pat Robertson on TV to accept Jesus as my Savior. It was Pat's prayer but it was my Dad that got me there. Thank you Lord, thank you.
Everyone loved my samples, the feedback was great and I think my Cheeseball and Rum Cake may have been drooled over. I truly sold cheeseballs like hotcakes! The Lord really blessed me and I am so grateful. After Thanksgiving, I will go back and get my orders for Christmas. This really could turn into something big but I can't let it right now, not with my third child coming in January. People are asking if I cater and that would be my dream come true but right now I have to say NO. People are also asking me if I would be willing to go to some more businesses and take orders but there is no possible way I can do that right now. I have enough just by going to my Mom's salon. God is good, He really has blessed me.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you so much. Pray that the days leading up to my delivery date (baking not baby), will be smooth! No sick kids, no sick Mommy or Daddy or MiMi. MiMi (My Mom) is helping me with the kids so I can bake! Last year we all got the Stomach virus three days before. I am praying NOW! But my sweet husband knows how to make everything on the list, just incase. Last year he was up through the night helping me bake, seal and wrap and he even tied bows around all of my packaging!
So there's my update and thank you all for asking how things went! My success comes straight from HIM! He really has given me the desires of my heart, exactly what I prayed for.
Psalm 37:4 Take delight in the Lord,and he will give you your heart’s desires.
I am sure Oprah is happy to see a woman gain such huge power. I am sure the Dixie Chicks are gloating in hopes of Pelosi trying to impeach our president and I am pretty sure David Letterman has called Bill O'Reilly to brag. (heavy sigh)
So if you are a teenager living in California and you are wanting to have an abortion without your parents ever knowing, guess what? You can do it! Proposition 85 was rejected. AND if you are wanting to clone a human being, move to Missouri! They will let you, no problem.
Get your heads out of the dumb magazines! Who cares about Britney being fed up with K-Fed! Yes, Reese Witherspoon is getting a divorce too and I don't really give a hoot about Kirstie Alley showing herself in a bikini on Oprah. Our world is completely sucked in by Hollywood instead of knowing what is truly important in this world. Call me crazy, call me radical, I don't care. We've got problems people! Big problems! So get educated and pray for your President. He needs it!
This woman was abused by her father over and over again. It was verbal, physical, emotional and sexual abuse. Her father is now a man that is very close to his dying day. She has spoken with him countless times about what happened to her and he has never taken any responsibility. In fact she shared that it is often very difficult to find healing when the other party is denial or unwilling to own up to what they have done. I am not sure how but she explained that she was finally able to be in the same room with him. It took many years, many years but it happened. During the years of her ministry she has suffered a lot of verbal attacks from her family members. They didn't understand the purpose in her sharing her own personal timeline. They have even said things to her like,"It's not fair for you to share with the world what happened to you. Not everyone needs to know." Some have even questioned her and said that she was lying about her childhood because their memory isn't quite up to par with the TRUTH. Regardless, she has written books, spoken to millions of people and her story has been told. All of the pain and torture she went through was meant for evil but God has allowed her timeline to bring people to Jesus and it has given a hurting world so much hope because she decided to share the ugly part of her life. She has ministered to me, she has given me hope and I pray that she continues to share her story, her pain, with the rest of us. We need to hear it! Her pain became her greatest treasure in life.
George W. Bush is my president and I support him 100%. I pray for him, I honor him. Since 911, he has come under massive attacks from the media to the White House and even the Dixie Chicks. I am not saying that every single decision he has made is right. I am not saying that I agree with everything he says but I respect him, I voted for him and I am thankful that he is in office. One thing about him that makes me very sad is what will be said about him in the future. Every thing he has done will either be praised or shunned. I hope it's the first but I know we live in a very unforgiving world and I am afraid he will be slaughtered. I know what is said about George Washington, I have read it in the History books. I know what is said about Abraham Lincoln and so does my three year old. Just ask him about the honest president, he will tell you all about Honest Abe! I also know what will be said about Bill Clinton, I lived through his presidency! Every choice, every decision, every move our president makes will eventually be written about. Every man leaves a legacy and though not all men are written about in books for our children to read about later, every man leaves a legacy, an impression and it's not always good. Parents know this first hand. We all know that every single decision or choice we make will affect our children. It may not show up right away but eventually our good choices or bad choices will make a mark on their lives. Will my children say, "My Mom was a praying woman. She was such a godly woman." Or will they say, "My Mom had a lot of anger. I saw her slam doors a lot. I heard her yell at my Dad." What will they say? I can choose NOW to leave a good legacy or a bad one. Whatever I leave, it will be talked about, it will affect others. So I choose now to work hard on becoming the most healthy and stable adult I can be. My children will have a story to tell about the woman I am today and the woman I will be and that's enough to inspire me to live a life worth following.
My blog has been discovered by a family member that does not agree with my method of healing. My space has been invaded to say the least. Blogs are constantly criticized for people being too honest or revealing too much. I can say this and mean it with every single fiber of my being. I DO NOT CARE. I am not slandering, I am not bashing, I am not lying or even stretching the truth (which means the same thing). Instead I embrace my timeline. I embrace the pain that I endured as a child. If I ever write a book, if I ever stand before women someday as a minister, I plan on being boldly honest about my past. An impression has been made, a legacy has been left and through it all, I have been deeply wounded. In order for me to find healing from my past, I have to share. The truth is, somedays I wake up and I don't feel so good about myself. I feel insecure, ugly, messed up and so much more. The only way I can deal with it is by being honest with myself and honest with the world around me. Obviously if things were great in my family, if things were healed, if things have truly changed, I would not be writing about it. One thing that has changed through all of this is ME. I am proud of who I am becoming, I am proud to be someone that has gone through the pain I have. I have said it before, I will say it again. THIS IS WHO I AM and I will embrace it. I am not going to wait for someone to die and be off of this earth before I feel safe in writing or telling my story. Family members have told me recently that I need to "get over it" and move on. Those of you that know me, know that I am not walking around on the verge of slitting my wrists. I am not depressed and I am not being ruled by my past. Instead, I am living a wonderful, God filled, spirit filled, joy filled, fearless life. I am a good wife, a good mom and a good friend. Daily I am experiencing healing from my past so I will continue to share my timeline. It may be hard for some to handle but they don't have to read it. Anyone's reaction to this blog isn't my problem so I won't carry that burden.
My childhood is my testimony. My childhood is a huge part of who I am today and huge part of who I am trying to change. My childhood was painful, horrible and even gruesome at times. The Lord has placed a calling on my life to help others find freedom in Christ. We live in a world where we are all taught to put a smile on, sweep things under the rug and talk about the weather. Well, I am going against the grain because God has called me to be ME and ME has been called to be bold, honest and self aware. I have lots of crap I have to work on, lots of stuff I need to get over, that's exactly what I am doing. Daily I am trying to figure out how to honor those in my life that have hurt me so badly while sharing my story at the same time. I don't know if it's possible. I won't apologize for the things I have written about my childhood because it is TRUTH. It may not be someone else's truth or someone else's story but it's mine and I am going to share it! I will not be a woman that does nothing but try to paint a pretty little picture of her life. I will not be fake, I will not pretend. While I wrote a wonderful little post yesterday about my husband, I can tell you that our relationship needs work constantly. I don't spend time with people pretending, I spend time with people that are real so that's who I am choosing to be too. I have shared my guts on this blog, I will continue.
Today I have learned that God has set me apart in many ways. Being set apart is not always easy and it will often make others very uncomfortable. This also shows me how much I need covering from Him and how badly I need to run to Him to find shelter. What God meant for good, the enemy has tried to destroy. This is my blog and I won't let that happen.
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
This past weekend was long. We had lots going on. Actually we had so much going on that I maybe got seven hours sleep total for the weekend. Friday my brother's fiancee was in labor and I walked all over the place with her during her labor. Being seven months pregnant myself made that a little difficult on me. My niece was born at 5:03am Saturday morning. I did not leave the hospital until Saturday at 8pm. I stayed with Desiree during that time so she wouldn't be alone. I was exhausted! Also I was gone all day this past Thursday for my baking business that I do during the Holidays. Then Friday began the long, long, long weekend. Jeremy was a trooper. He did not complain once for being tired and having to take care of our two kids and Desiree's son who is seven. Jeremy had been up pretty much all night and day too but he did not complain. Yesterday when we got home, my strength was gone. When I am tired, I get grumpy, emotional and so much more. Plus being pregnant did not make my exhaustion any better, it only magnified everything. When we got home, Jeremy told me to lay down and rest. So I did. He did laundry, cleaned, and took care of the kids. Since last week was so busy, I was behind on a lot. I felt like a failure in many ways because my house was totally out of sorts. There was probably six or seven loads of laundry to do. Jeremy did it all.
When I was a kid, my Dad did not do anything. He hardly worked, he sure as heck didn't do house work or laundry. He didn't do anything. I never witnessed him working on cars, doing yard work, building shelves or building anything for that matter. I never heard him pray over me or my brother, I never witnessed him being happy. My husband, my Dad, they are nothing alike. There is not one thing that even remotely resembles the other. Nothing! I have to say that this weekend I realized what a victory I have experienced in my life! I beat the odds! I broke a curse, I broke free! I married someone that was perfect for me and someone that takes care of me in the most incredible ways. All of those years I spent praying that I would meet and marry the RIGHT man, it worked! God truly answered my prayers and when I was twenty-five years old, I married him!
As a single adult you hear lots of people say things in order to give you hope that you will eventually marry. I hated those comments because they always came from married people. But one comment stuck with me. "The Man God has for you is more than you can imagine. He will have qualities about him that you did not even realize you needed. He will be MORE than you prayed for." I never believed it, I really thought I would have to settle. I did not think it was possible to be married to someone like Jeremy. But, I am! Praise the Lord!
I am independent in many ways but very dependent on Jeremy. He takes care of me. He organizes me. He keeps me on track because he is a planner, I am not. He is a thinker, I am more of a spontaneous gal. He helps me with the kids constantly and helps me with the house. I have known women that do everything in their home. When they are not there, the home totally breaks down. I have seen husband's that do NOTHING. I know someone right now that is so worried about a cruise she is going on because she knows her house will not survive without her there. When I am gone for a night out or a retreat or something that requires Jeremy to take control, I am never disappointed. He even puts bows in Ava Beth's hair. He does it all! Guess who gives them a bath every single night? Jeremy! And when I was in the hospital giving birth to both of the kids, he never left my side. I had food brought to me, flowers, cards, etc. And I have never changed one of my kid's diapers while in the hospital. Never! Jeremy had to teach me how to swaddle because he is the one that did it while we were in the hospital. I don't give him orders, I don't make him do these things for me, this is who he is. He is the most in touch Daddy I have ever seen. He is a diaper changer, a bath giver, and he is the one that prays over the kids every single night when we put them to bed! He is also the hardest working man I have ever seen. He has been at the same job for thirteen years! Now that was the stability my life has always needed, always craved, always desired. Some days I can't believe that I have Him. WOW!
I beat the odds! I found the most amazing, Godly, giving man you have ever seen! I have him and I am so thankful. I feel like I am the most blessed woman in the world. I am, I know I am!
Lord, thank you so much for my husband. Thank you for fulfilling my needs in so many ways. He is more than I ever imagined. That's just how you work Lord, you give us more than we could ever dream of! That's what you do! Jeremy is a man of integrity. He is fun, he is funny, everyone loves Jeremy. He has a reputation that is gold. I love that everyone I know adores my husband. Soon our family will be a family of five. The newborn days will be hard, we will miss our sleep often but there is no other man more perfect for that season! Thank you for Jeremy. Oh I love him so much. Help me to show him my love, help me to show him how special he is. Help me to show him that he is an incredible, Godly man.
God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! Ephesians 3:20 (The Message)
(To read about my beautiful little niece, go to my Mom's blog. You will even see a picture!)
My baby girl!
My little Thomas The Tank Engine and Minnie Mouse!
Jackson & Josiah (inseparable friends)
She's a mamma's girl unless Daddy is around!
Our friends Lester, Kelly, Cassidy, Roxanne, Jackson and Ashlyn (how cool are they? all six of them are pirates! And I thought we were the coolest family around!)
I have been trying pretty much all day long to post some pictures of last night. The kids in their costumes was a very cute sight and I am anxious to show them off to the world! BUT, no can do! Today and yesterday, Blogger has seemed possessed and has been doing some very strange things! Maybe I need to upgrade to the beta blogger, but I am too afraid. I have heard some nightmares in regards to doing that!
The kids got to wear their costumes today for the last time. We went to the library for story time and more candy. Also we met some new friends there too. Would you believe that I met a blogger months and months ago that lives in my same city? Yep, we just now officially met for the first time. It's nice to meet someone new that happens to have a son the exact same age as mine (even the same month, same doc's office, same hospital). Her kids were adorable. In fact I wanted to take her youngest home with me. He has a smile that will melt your soul. And I really liked visiting with the Mommy too. She has a warm spirit, I love that about a person. So today was for sure a blessing. I am glad I finally got out and met someone new. Well, she's not new. We have talked for the last year on blogs and emails but finally we met in person. Isn't it cool what this blog can do for your social life? :)
My sister-in-law is dilated to a FOUR! I received and epidural at a four with Ava Beth! What does that say about my pain tolerance? HA! No, I had pitocin so I think my pain was valid! But Desiree continues to be superwoman and walk around with a baby that is so low, she should not be ABLE to walk! She was born to do this without drugs, no question. Me on the other hand, NO! My family is praying and I know Desi is praying that this baby girl will be BORN TONIGHT!!!!! I am ready to be an aunt!
**update-she just called and having contractions! But, we all know how crazy those things can be!
Pray for Blogger, it needs a healing touch! And pray for Desiree! She's at a four almost totally effaced and is 38.4 weeks!