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Five years ago today, Timothy and I started our little family.  We said “I do” to a seemingly simple question, yet a question that would transform our lives.  “I do” to joining yourselves as one for the rest of forever seems like the easiest “yes” of all when you’ve been in a long-distance relationship and the thought of never saying goodbye is bliss.  Then five years later, after experiencing some of the richer (still waiting on that one. ha!) and poorer, in sickness and health, in crazy emotions and socks on the floor, you realize that it is still the easiest “yes.”

Timothypal, I’ve loved you every single second of these five years.  Marrying you was one of the best things I’ve ever done.  (Aside from giving my life to Jesus and discovering chocolate, that is.  I kid on the second part.  Sorta.)  Through these last five years I’ve seen you in ups and downs, in sadness and joy.  I’ve seen the inner parts of your heart that most people can’t see.  Everything I see about you makes me love you more.

And recently, seeing you become a father?  Oh my heart.  You were made for this.  Your father’s heart is already working overtime as you make up songs to the beat of our baby’s heart.  As you scold me for not wearing a jacket because the baby could get cold.  As you pray for him/her nightly and never forget to mention the baby’s toes even though you have shunned that “horrifying” word and body part for your entire existence.   As you talk to the doctor with me and ask more questions than I do.  As you study up on all of the terms and processes of the whole thing.  And don’t get me started on how much tech you’ve already put on your list to buy the baby.

I thought these past years were the happiest of my life getting to know you as a husband.  But I have a sneaky suspicion that these next years getting to know you as a father to our baby will blow these past five years out of the water.

I love you, Timothypal.  Happy Anniversary!

On November 7, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In Lovely Life
 

pumpkin-baby-2

Less than a week after we found out we were expecting a pumpkin miracle, I had a scare.  It happened right before church one Tuesday evening, and I was devastated.  Timothy was preaching that night and had to take care of the service, so my mom rushed me to the ER.  On our way there we called the ER doctor who said that they wouldn’t be able to do anything, but I couldn’t accept that!  So we drove thirty minutes to the closest hospital and prayed.

Well, tried to pray.  I would alternate between praying that I would do whatever it took to make sure this tiny life inside of me would keep growing and be okay, and then praying that God’s will be done.  If His will was that this baby not be, then I didn’t know what I would do.  This baby had already changed the course of our lives.  In an instant we had planned the rest of our lives around this tiny miracle.

When we got there, sure enough, they said they could only do the standard tests to see what my levels were.  Which wouldn’t really tell us anything that night.  My mom started getting a few texts from people at church, letting her know that they were praying for me.  One of my sweet friends told her that during the service she “got this beautiful feeling that Jesus was singing a song over Whitney right now.”  No one knew the situation (or so we thought!), but I immediately felt God’s love.  And then, the nurse came in and said she had caught the ultrasound technician in time and convinced her to stay over a bit to give me an ultrasound.  That was when I felt hope.

They wheeled me to the ultrasound room, and my mom held my hand as the technician got everything situated on the screen.  In less than five seconds she zoomed in to a little blob that was flashing.  See that?  That’s your baby … and its heart.  It’s still alive.

pumpkin-baby

All the breath I had been holding for the past hour rushed out, and I just started crying and laughing.  My mom stood up and asked the technician to hold on, that Timothy should be here by now.  Timothy had just walked into the hospital, and my mom found him and motioned him to the room.  When he saw the heartbeat, he broke down crying and thanking God and rubbing my face like a mad man.  He said, “I was thinking the baby is a girl, but now I’m pretty sure it’s a boy.  Look at that heart!  He’s a fighter!” Ha!

It turns out that I have one of these, which still gives me scares every now and then.  Timothy and I were planning on waiting to tell everyone about the baby until closer to the end of the first trimester.  Until the time where the risk of miscarriage lowers a huge amount.  But after the scare, and after the love we felt from our church family when they didn’t even know the situation, we knew we wanted to share soon.  To God, there’s no statistics and chances.  Waiting to share the news wouldn’t change any outcome that God has planned.  For us, we knew we wanted to share.  And after the church service when we shared our news, I can’t tell you how many people either already knew (I have no idea how they knew!) and were praying or had an idea and were praying.  It was so comforting.

Even after we saw the heartbeat, Timothy and I lived the next several days in fear of something happening to our baby.  But our church family embraced us in love and excitement, and somehow without us even recognizing it, they took that burden from us.

If I hadn’t been a firm believer in the power of having a church community before this, then I surely would be a flag waving advocate now.  Ha!  While God is the ultimate source of peace, He loves to use His children to hold each other up in prayer and encouragement.

Our baby is still months away from being born, but already my heart has been stretched and grown and transformed.  Parents, how on earth do you do it?  How do you handle the crushing, fierce love that immediately breaks your heart and makes it whole at the same time?  Does it get any easier?  For some reason, I’m thinking not.  Ha!

On October 31, 2014 · 1 Comment · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING | Baby Reveal

It was a Saturday – a day I often get to sleep in.  But not this day.  It was the first cold day of fall and we had to be up before the sun to set up some instruments and a booth at a local community event.  My normal state on a morning like this would be grouchy.  Very grouchy.  But for some reason I decided to take a test.  I always thought I would “feel” pregnant and just know, but I didn’t feel any different.  Yet I had an extra test lying around and thought I might as well.

Timothy was still asleep, so I was being as quiet as possible.  I went in the restroom, took the test, kind of shrugged, and tried to get all the sleep out of my eyes.  I glanced down before the three minute mark was over and there were two lines.  Ummm …. I was so tired that I figured I just wasn’t seeing clearly.  So I washed my face, scrubbed my eyes, and peeked at the test again.  Positive.

And that began everything.

We had been praying and hoping and wishing for a while, so I already knew how I was going to tell Timothy.  We had ten minutes before we needed to be at the church (the sun was still hours away from showing up. ha!), so I wasn’t sure I wanted to rush telling him and then spend a whole day working a booth at a festival while he was at work.  So I tiptoed back in the room and put some music on to help wake us (or him!) up.  His first words?  “Can’t you just turn that down?” Yup.  There was no way I was telling my grouchy husband the best news of his life right then.  Ha!

So we rushed around and got ready for the day.  After our choir sang early in the festival, Timothy had to leave for work and I stayed to help with our booth selling baked goods.  I felt like everyone could tell I had a secret.  Including a lady that I didn’t recognize at first, but then who explained she was the mom to one of my friends from high school.  In my head I replied “I’m a mom to someone, too!  Isn’t it AMAZING?!”  After staring at her for a second I realized she didn’t hear my crazy thoughts, and I tried to sell her some cupcakes.

As soon as the festival was over my brother and I went to Starbucks, but not before I ditched him in Wal-Mart to buy two more brands of tests.  This time I splurged for one of the kinds that actually says words and not lines.  When the word “pregnant” popped up, I squealed in the Wal-Mart bathroom.

We stopped by to see my handsome husband at work and I was shooting him with crazy love eyes.  He just looked at me like I was weird.  Then my brother mentioned that my face was really red.  Which it was because I HAD THE BEST SECRET IN THE HISTORY OF SECRETS.

Fast forward to over 12 hours after that first beautiful positive sign, and Timothy was walking in from work.  I told him I had a little present for him.  The night before I had made a whole bunch of pumpkin rolls for our booth.  Tears were involved.  Baking from scratch is not my spiritual gift.  My husband loves him some pumpkin rolls, and he asked for one the night before, but I told him I was never making another one ever again.  So when I told him I had a present, his eyes lit up and he asked, “is it a pumpkin roll?!?!”

He opened the card, read the mushy words and hugged me.  Then he opened the gift bag to find a shirt.  At first he just saw the big Superman logo and he smiled, but then he noticed “Dad” written under the big “S.”  He quickly looked at me with wide eyes, “what?!”

Then we hugged and laughed and cried and danced and just kept putting our hands over our faces.  What was this miracle?!  Timothy immediately started rubbing my belly and talking to our little, tiny baby.  Life changed in an instant.  And we couldn’t be happier.

Our little Pumpkin Roll, also known as Pumpkin, is coming next June.  He or she is eight weeks old today, and is the size of a raspberry.  We were going to wait until near the end of the first trimester to share the news, but as I’ll explain in a later post, this baby wasn’t having it.  Ha!  And this is also why I bailed on the whole 31 Days series.  I’ve been dealing with some of the glamourous first trimester symptoms that have left me feeling less than eloquent.  I will continue writing the series eventually.  As soon as I don’t have to stop and munch on some Saltines every two hours.

But until then, we’re just wallowing in happiness.  And a little bit of disbelief.  And a little bit of “did we just get away with something?!”  Because I still feel like a kid who is no where near grown up enough to be responsible for a tiny human.  But, in the words of Timothy’s mom, she’s been waiting FIVE YEARS for this moment.  Baby Gothra, we love you, we love you, we love you.  Keep growing all your little organs and limbs and brain cells.  We can’t wait to meet you.

On October 29, 2014 · 10 Comments · In Lovely Life
 

Sensitivity, if you use and mold it the proper way, is an undeniably powerful tool in the kingdom of God.

BECOMING | A Sensitive Spirit

Yesterday, we ended our study about King David and sensitivity with a few questions. How can we as women use our God-given sensitivity for Him?  How can we use it to draw closer to God?  To become a woman after God’s heart? 

Webster defines “sensitive” as aware of and understanding the feelings of other people; and highly responsive or susceptible.

This is the type of sensitivity I’m talking about.  Not the kind where one is easily hurt and takes offense at the smallest things.  Nor someone who makes everyone else feel like they have to walk on eggshells around her.   No, this type is a powerful quality.  There are two main areas a woman after God’s heart can use her sensitivity to bring glory to Him.

 

A woman after God’s heart uses her sensitivity to reach after others.

I can only talk from the viewpoint of an emotional person, so if you don’t normally feel all the feelings, go watch the montage of the love story of Carl and Ellie in Up, and then come back to this post.  Ha!

Sometimes having a sensitive heart can be draining.  When someone comes to me with a problem or a burden, I can’t just shrug it off after they leave.  I strap their burdens on top of mine, and feel all their feelings.  Because that’s what I do.  I’ve always had a hard time distancing myself.  Even in marriage, there are times that Timothy is having a bad day about something that doesn’t even pertain to me.  It’s only been after nearly five years that I’m getting to the point where I can kinda sorta let him have his day while I carry on with mine.  Normally I would just jump right in there and feel his feelings.  But while men can usually shake frustrations of the day off quickly, I’m left feeling depressed for no reason whatsoever.

This is where I have to mold and shape and direct my heart.  And this is where it can be a powerful tool.

As a sensitive person, you can be aware of and understanding of the feelings of other people.  And yes, you can strap on their burdens and help carry the weight.  You can go after the hurting, find the needy and LISTEN.  As an emotional person, you can feel their feelings.  You can hold a hurting daughter and cry with her.  You can link arms with a rejoicing mother and dance with her.  You can be God’s hands and feet, and you can be God’s heart to them. 

Then you have to direct that sensitivity to the right place.  Learn how to give those burdens to God, and show others how to do so as well.  Use your God-given sensitivity to entreat Heaven with the needs of others.  Use your sensitivity to go after those that people normally reject.  Use your sensitivity to pray for those that put on a brave face, but you know are secretly struggling on the inside.

 

A woman after God’s heart uses her sensitivity to reach after God.

Being sensitive to God can lead you to some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows.  Just ask David.  In Psalms 13, he started out by saying How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord?  for ever?  How long wilt thou hide thy face from me?  He clearly was in a season where he wasn’t feeling God.  But he closed that song out six verses later by saying I will sing unto the Lord, because He hath dealt bountifully with me. Even though he felt forgotten by God, he knew He was still there, watching over him.

Think about it, God knows your heart.  He knows what you need to feel safe and secure.  In my relationship with God, I feel the safest and most loved when I’m hearing from Him.  When I feel Him strongly.  But God’s main priority isn’t making me feel safe.  Nope.  He wants to see if I trust Him.  If I’m in this no matter how difficult life can get.

Sometimes God steps away from us.  Sometimes He hides His face.  Has He forgotten us?  Never!  He simply wants us to search for Him.  Following after God is never about resting and staying secure in our comfort levels.  It’s about growing.  It’s about pursuing Him.

It’s about showing God how much you need Him.

David understood that.  He was open with God, vulnerable with his heart.  He allowed God to push and stretch and grow him, even if it was painful.  Even if it felt lonely.  Even if it made him feel all the feelings.

Yet, he always knew where his help came from.  Even if he started out the day by singing My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? (Psalm 22:1), he could end his day by singing I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears (Psalm 34:4).

 

Not only can you use your sensitivity to draw nearer to God, but you can be highly responsive or susceptible to His ways.  Have you ever been in a church service and felt the atmosphere shift?  Maybe it was a dancing, rejoicing service, but then something shifted and a spirit of prayer and intercession filled the place?  You have to cultivate a sensitivity to God and His ways to follow His movements.  Or have you ever been going about your day and then felt an impression to call someone or pray for them?  That was God using your sensitive heart to show you His will, to use you for His purposes.

A lot of the most powerful prayer warriors I know are women.  Women who are sensitive to the workings of God.  Women who allow God to lay burdens on their heart and carry them for others.

A sensitive spirit is a beautiful thing.  Lord, let me use my sensitive heart in ways that bring You glory.  Lord, let my heart look like Your heart.

On October 7, 2014 · 1 Comment · In Lovely Life
 

BECOMING | A Sensitive Spirit

I’m not gonna lie, this topic thrills me.  Chills me.  Makes me want to do the running man.  Or the sprinkler.  Or, my personal favorite, the dance that looks like you’re shopping and putting items in your cart.  But moving on.

When studying David’s life, there were four characteristics of his that really stood out to me.  1) A sensitive spirit, 2) a familiarity with brokenness, 3) an enduring faithfulness, and 4) a heart of a worshipper.  Today and tomorrow we’re talking about the first characteristic – a sensitive spirit.

David was a warrior king.  He first came on the scene by killing Goliath, and then the battles never stopped for him.  Before he became king, he had to run from King Saul who was trying to kill him.  David had a band of men that joined forces with him, and they were known as David’s mighty men.  He was a manly man.  All the rough and fearless men wanted to hang out with him. He fought hard.  He was probably smelly.

So to say that he was one of the most sensitive people in the Bible can seem kind of crazy.  Who, David?  The warrior?  The brave?  Yup.  Dude was sensitive.  He felt all the emotions.

Just read the Psalms.  They are full of emotions.  They are passionate.  In some songs, David declares his love and adoration for God.  Then in others, he cries out to God asking Him why He has forsaken him.  Reading the psalms is like a roller coaster ride – sometimes David is up and rejoicing, and others he is down and lamenting.

Whatever David is feeling, he tells it to God.  He writes songs about it.  He sings it to the people.  This manly warrior king sung I am weary with my groaning; all the night I make my bed to swim;  I water my couch with my tears. (Psalm 6:6)  If that’s not emotional, then I don’t know what is.  Please, no one show that guy a Hallmark commercial.

Whatever moment David was in, he was all in.  Whatever emotion he felt, he felt it all the way.

 

It’s a common plot line and punch line in the world today that women are sensitive.  Not every woman is a raging ball of emotion, but sometimes it feels like the world is telling us that.  And not only that women are sensitive, but that it is somehow a negative thing.

See, I’m emotional.  With a capital everything.  I am sensitive.  I feel all the feelings.  I cry when I’m sad.  I cry when Timothy surprises me with a drink from Starbucks after work.  I cry when I’m talking to God.  I cry when I have to rip ANOTHER seam out of a sewing project.  I cry when I’m scared, happy, mad, disappointed, feeling sappy, and frustrated.  I’ve cried about our grass being too high, I cried when Nemo’s mom died, and I cry at every single wedding I attend.  In case I haven’t been clear – I’m sensitive.

I would probably say I’m a bit (that’s putting it mildly) more emotional than the average woman.  The majority of my life I viewed my sensitivity as a hindrance.  As an obstacle that I had to work around.  But looking at the life of David, being sensitive wasn’t his downfall.  It was actually one of the characteristics that was dear to God’s heart.

Sensitivity, if you use and mold it the proper way, is an undeniably powerful tool in the kingdom of God.

So how can we as women use our God-given sensitivity for Him?  How can we use it to draw closer to God?  To become a woman after God’s heart?  Or how, if we aren’t very emotional, can we cultivate a sensitive spirit?  How can we turn what the world often says is bad into something that God admires?

That’s what we’re going to figure out tomorrow.  Won’t you join me?

 

On October 6, 2014 · Leave a Comment · In Lovely Life