Friday, November 13, 2015

I Heart NY

I'm in love.  I think about it all of the time.  I stare at pictures and escape into daydreams.

New York City, I love you!

Michael took me to NYC for our 10th wedding anniversary.  The city has been on my bucket list for, oh I don't know, ALL MY LIFE!  She did not disappoint.

Do you know what best prepped me best for NYC?  You'll never guess.  It was the cartoon, Curious George.  I think I looked at Michael each hour and said, "Just like on George!"

I think what made this trip so wonderful, besides how great the city is, was not having to stress about my kids.  Undoubtedly, I love my girls, but not having a mental checklist going through my mind all day and night was incredibly freeing!

Michael and I did Uber for the first time and loved it.  There is no way I could EVER drive in this city.  The only reason I wouldn't raise a family in NYC is because these drivers zoom by baby strollers with just inches to spare.  My goodness, it is crazy!

While we were there, we took in Times Square, Jersey Boys, a Yankee game, 9/11 Memorial, the Met, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, a Chris Tomlin concert at Madison Square Garden, and some the best food ever.

 Outside the Met

 Playing music in Central Park

 Loved watching families drive these little sailboats around in Central Park

Central Park

 Rockefeller Center

 Time Square

 Amazing Broadway Show

9/11 Memorial.

 9/11 Memorial.  A white rose is placed with the name of the lost on their birthday.

The 9/11 Memorial building.

More 9/11 Memorial

On the ferry to the Statue of Liberty

Statue of Liberty

Yankee Game!


Empire State Building

Madison Square Garden praising God at the National Night of Worship

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Recap of Summer!

Today is the first day of the beautiful month of October!  What if we could always live in October days?  For me, October is a small glimpse into heaven.  But before I fully embrace all things pumpkin and cool crisp air, I MUST recap our summer before I forget!

Well, I last told you about Nadia turning two and her starting to walk.  She is a brand new girl now!  She is little miss independent and a little miss sassy-pants too!  She has fully encompassed all that it means to be a two year old.  I am so thankful that she seems like a normal kid now and is not so far behind.  She is forever a reminder of how fortunate I am to have healthy children.

Audrey ended first grade with style!  She rocked the awards ceremony, even receiving the top award, the Ambassador award.  She truly is an ambassador for Christ.  She makes us so proud and I pray that she always shines His light.  She then proceeded to break her arm rollerblading at the very beginning of summer.  She was a champ and stayed positive through it all.

Julia began Kindergarten in August.  She is already a social bug and has kids calling out her name and waving to her wherever she goes.  That girl is so funny and I think others are seeing how entertaining she is.  Her teacher is the best (like, seriously!) and has done well with moving Julia past her fears.  I am so proud of her for being brave.

We went out to Glenrose to the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.  We got to see and feed some awesome animals.  We all loved this little excursion and I highly recommend going!

We also went to see our friends, the Potthoffs, in Houston, for the Fourth of July.  We went to Moody Gardens in Galveston one day while we were there.  It is always a good time with them.

Michael and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary and took a trip to New York City!  I'll dedicate that trip in its own post.  My most favorite trip ever!

Saturday, May 02, 2015

Making A Way

  During the past couple of years, my favorite Bible story has been God parting the Red Sea.  Here's why.  The Israelites were out of options.  Their situation was impossible.  There was nothing they could do.
  I don't know why people have such short memories.  It seems like it would be easy for the Israelites to remember God's faithfulness.  They had seen the plagues.  They had seen their sons spared and passed over.  They had been delivered from the Egyptians.  They were following a pillar of smoke during the day and a pillar of fire at night.
  It is easy for us to forget God's faithfulness to us in times of desperation.  Satan puts thoughts into our head that are lies and that are toxic.  We begin to believe that God isn't sovereign in all things.  We must take captive of our thoughts and rid ourselves of the lies.  We need to trust God to do miracles in our lives.  We may miss the miracle of our troubles being pushed to the sides so that we may enter freedom.
  My impossible situation was having a third child without having my autoimmune disease come back.  The percentage of reoccurrence I was given at the time was 96%.  It would also come on more quickly in the pregnancy.  I had blood work done by a doctor who considers himself a top expert of the disease.  He guaranteed I would get it back if I got pregnant anytime soon.  I was pregnant with Nadia a few months later and, praise God, I was free from my disease.  God had made a way for me.  I had to lean on His faithfulness when a way was created (low dose naltrexone) and trust that He is sovereign.  I believe that there is power in sharing your testimony and this is mine.
  What is your impossible situation?  Where are you out of options?  Is your hope beginning to slip away?  Please remember how God has been faithful to you in the past and hold on tight to that memory.  Remember that He is sovereign in ALL things.  Prepare yourself to take action when God makes a way.
  I love the song "Make a Way" by Desperation Band.  In it, they sing about God making a way for us to be saved by offering Jesus as the sacrifice.  But in every trial, our hope should be in Jesus.  My favorite lines are: Where there is no way You make a way.  Where no one can reach us, You find us.
God seeks us out, even when we have closed out the world around us.  My prayer is that in our most desperate times, we will step into the gracious way of freedom that is provided by God.  Allow the miraculous to happen.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Nadia is TWO!

My sweet girl turned TWO on Saturday.  She has had my heart since before she even existed.  She is fierce.  She knows what she wants.  She loves hard.  She smiles big.  She catches every detail of the activities of her sisters.  She is my precious baby.

We named her Nadia Faith.  Nadia means hope.  I wrote a little about what hope means to me in my last post. This girl really does define hope for me.  It was my hope to have another child.  It was my hope that she would be healthy.  It was my hope that she would show happiness.  It was my hope that she would walk soon.  She has done ALL of these things!  Yes, she has walked!

Isn't that just wonderful to see?!?!  We found out at the last therapy session what may be going on with her.  So your movement and anxiety pathways are right next to each other in your brain.  Sometimes, the signals going down the pathway overlap to the other.  The therapist believes that some movements cause great anxiety for Nadia.  I agree!  I was telling Michael about it and we think Julia deals with this a bit too.  We just need to keep her moving to get her used to it.  She suggested ballet or gymnastics as she gets older, even though she probably won't like it!  

I am just so thankful for this girl!  She is God's gift to us and I know He has grand plans for her future.  She has taught me so much already and I'm humbled to be her mother.  She gives me great hope!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jesus and Boats

The Anchored Cross, a symbol of hope.

It's the way of this world.  It happens to everyone.  No matter your age.  No matter your race.  No matter your gender.  No matter your location.  Storms will come.  When you are on the waves of the open seas, storms are all the more frightening.

I was reading the story of Jesus walking on the water to Audrey one night.  I saw something in the story I have never noticed before.  So the disciples are on the boat and they are fighting against a strong wind.  Jesus had sent them away while he climbed up a mountain for some quiet time. They had been in the boat most of the night, trying to get to the other side of the lake, but this wind is making it very difficult.  It must have seemed like all of the sudden, out of nowhere, Jesus is just strolling along the lake.  The disciples are terrified and cry out.  Jesus hears them and tells them to have courage.  You know the rest of the story.

To me, it seems like we are sometimes told by God to go do something really, really difficult.  And it may even seem like He isn't going to come with us on this mission.  So we go against the wind and we fight all night long.  We are tired and just want to give up.  But then, we look up.  We see a miracle happening before our eyes!  Jesus is with us, doing things we never thought possible!  Sometimes, our journey is hard so that we can see miracles unfold before us.  Sometimes, we feel alone, but God can show up in an instant.  Sometimes, we cry out in fear and God hears us and tells us to not be afraid.

And then, there is the story of Jesus calming the storm.  Again, Jesus leads us to a place of turmoil.  The disciples are afraid, and rightly so.  They have to WAKE JESUS UP!  He stands, "Quiet!  Be Still!"  And that was it.  This time, they know Jesus is right there.  This time, they go to him.  This time, they are wondering why he isn't acting.

This is my story most of the time.  I know God is there.  I go to Him in prayer.  I look around, wondering where the answers to my prayers could be.  Then God steps up, blows my mind, and asks if I have faith.  Um...sorry, Creator of the Universe.  I know it's all in your hands.  My bad.

And now, I see this little gem in Hebrews.  God is telling us that His word is solid.  He can not lie.  There is no one more powerful than He, so His oath is as good as it gets.  We can trust Him and the hope He has given us.
  Hebrew 6:19 "We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure."
It is a part of nature for our soul to get nervous, to question, to fear.  The winds and waves may be knocking us down.  We are beaten and bruised.  We may be desperately waiting for our miracle.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

He encourages us to keep the faith.  He knows that there will be storms in our lives that rock our boat.  He may have sent us out on that boat into that scary storm.  He created the wind and the waves that beat us down and He knows of their power.
God reminds us that He has given us great hope.

This hope is firm.  It isn't going anywhere.  It is secure.  It will not be broken.  The storm will pass and the boat will hold steady.

God reminds us that He has given us great hope.  Hallelujah!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Julia and Nadia's Birthday Party

 The past few years, we have celebrated Julia's (and now Nadia's) birthday on the Saturday before Easter Sunday.  It is great because there are a bunch of cousins in town for Leadership Training for Christ.  Sometimes, all of the cousins can make it.  Other times, the timing of their competitions doesn't make it possible.  The younger ones are able to come party instead of hanging out at the hotel all day.  It works out pretty well.
  This year, we celebrated Julia turning five and Nadia turning two.  My parents, aunt, Michael's parents and all but one of his nieces were able to come.

5 Years Later

  Saturday marked five years since I got Pemphigoid Gestationis.  You may remember that this is a pregnancy-related autoimmune disease I got just a few days after delivering Julia.  It is hormone-driven and your body attacks your skin, creating extremely itchy blisters and plaques all over your body.  It is insanely hard on you physically and emotionally.
  One thing that I remember about this time were the looks I received when I went out in public and I didn't cover up my arms and legs.  I longed for clear skin and swore I'd never be ungrateful for normal-looking skin ever again.  How quickly I forget!
  Body image is such a hard thing for us girls.  I have this gorgeous friend who is amazing.  After meeting her, my dad asked if she was as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.  My answer was, "Oh, yes!  If you can believe it!"  We were at dinner one day and we started discussing what we didn't like about ourselves.  I was floored!  She has insecurities just like me!  I truly believe Satan attacks women in this way.  We are beautiful creations of God.  It is time to stop believing the lies Satan spews at us. We are only going to grow older and gain more problem areas.  We must make a decision.  Will we be critical of each new wrinkle or added pound?  Or will we see ourselves as our Creator does?
  God loves us like crazy and wants us to love ourselves.  He also wants us to love others as ourselves.  That's hard to do when you are being critical of yourself.  May each of us cast our eyes off of ourselves, look on the One who loves us the most, and be on the lookout for ways to uplift the people around us.  Our insecurities may came off as silly, or even selfish, when we open our eyes to the world of abuse, trafficking, persecution, disease, or hunger.
  Today, my prayer is that I will embrace each new day and love myself fully, so that I can minister more effectively for the Kingdom.