Monday, March 30, 2009

34 Weeks

34 Weeks, with 6ish to go, give or take a few. Baby is good and getting big, mommy is tired but hanging in there. Here are the photos for this week. Enjoy!

Grace and peace to all!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

The words that flow

So, it seems that there are some who are actually reading this blog, much to my surprise, and it turns out, much to my dismay, as I seem to have fueled on the rumor mill with some bold (stupid) honesty of real life. While I have used this blog as a release of words on life and all that goes with it, it seems that real life honesty is very taboo. Strange, I have actually experienced that before by sharing with a gathering of women exactly what God had laid on my heart to speak, when it turned out that the message wasn't "warm-fuzzy" enough for that audience. Ahh, the body of Christ. See, the thing is, it's easy to paint on a face and pretend that life is just peachy. It's easy to smile and nod and tell everyone that everything is fine. It's easy to pretend for the sake of saving face and seeming good. But it's not honest and it's not real. But then when honesty happens, oh how quickly the mouths of the "saints" move amongst each other!

Alas, though, that is not my concern. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. And indeed, we are being resurrected. He is faithful and He is good, and so I will praise the Name of the Lord!

Daniel 11:35 says, "Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified, and made spotless until the time of the end." Not that I would for a moment claim to be wise (I think one could clearly see that through my discourse here), but I do know that God desires to refine, purify and make spotless, and I can see God's gentle hand of love and correction all over my life. And just as Job cried out to God, so now do I cry out, "My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."

One of my favorite verses of Scripture comes out of Job 40:6, "Then the Lord spoke to Job out of the storm." That's the voice that I so desire to hear. That is the voice that will speak truth and honesty, love and grace. That is the voice that speaks rebuke and discipline, compassion and mercy. Oh, I have so much to learn about following Him, but may my voice fall in line with His, sound like His and speak His words. 

My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. 
Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:21

Grace and peace, y'all.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Watch out devil! The shackles are off!!

Oh mercy, how distracted and discouraged I had become through this season. And though the season has not ended completely, God has spoken, and the circumstances will not deter me. The storm was meant to grow me, if only I would allow it. There is no weapon formed against me that can prosper, and so I am lifting my hands and if only you could hear my praise! And of course these darn hormones bring the tears! Watch out devil. It's time to revisit some old conversations and stir things up again. We're moving forward!

Monday, March 23, 2009

33 Weeks...Getting closer, and bigger

Ok, here we are. 33 weeks and counting. Yes, there is only one baby in there, but it seems that she is a bit large. Last week I had a growth scan and ultrasound done and she was weighing in a 5lb 6oz. At 32 weeks!! I know newborns born at that weight!! And this one still has 7 weeks to grow, or so.  

She is getting heavy, my hips are taking a beating these days, but if you will notice, I still have ankles and toes, mostly. Work is getting harder, but I seem to make it around. My prego waddle is a lot more noticeable by the end of a shift! But my sugar levels are good, baby Hannah is super active (she loves to bounce her fat head on my bladder!), and we're moving along.

I've been doing a bit of nesting lately, trying desperately to feel more prepared. So I got her a little gown to go home from the hospital, complete with socks and a blanket.

And this super cool diaper caddy that I just love!! Now, the diapers currently in there are a bit large, and they are for Princess Juju. I haven't had the strength or energy to attempt to potty train Juju yet, so the diapers remain. But there will be smaller diapers in fun caddy once Hannah comes to join us on the outside.

Ok, that's where we are now. Grace and peace y'all!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Continuing the Journey

So, as I continue to journey of remembering, I stumbled upon this. I wrote it after spending a few months in South Africa and experiencing God's healing hand in a mighty way. All I can say is what a long, strange trip it's been. 

I remember Your goodness, Father. Please restore to me the joy of Your salvation.

 A Long Night’s Journey Into Day

It’s been a long night’s journey into day and my feet are growing weary from the travel. Just on the horizon a fire grows brighter, but I’ve traveled so long in darkness that my body recoils from the light. As much as the flesh draws back, though, the heart pushes on closer to the rays of sunshine coming up over the land. This journey began long ago, long before my feet ever touched the ground, but this very day was known in all its splendor and detail to the One who pieced me together. The sun is now coming up.

The night was so long as I ran from sun’s outstretched rays. Around the world I went just to outrun that fire in the sky that consumes all darkness, revealing what is hidden and dragging out into the open that which is well concealed. Through turning my back on God, through the rape, through the drugs and alcohol, through the hatred and rage, through the violence and lawlessness that became normal life, watch me run. “This is the verdict: light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”

But running without rest leaves the soul tired and dry, cracked on the heels, blistered on the toes, and parched at the lips. The heart resents the consistently fast pace and the body wearies of the pounding. It all begins to fall apart.

There is no depth too deep that God’s arms cannot reach you.

There is just no depth too deep.

“In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness but the darkness has not understood it.” What I could not understand was the mercy that was being offered to me. What I could not understand was the forgiveness being given to me. What I could not understand was how a King could take my punishment upon himself. What I could not understand was a love so unconditional that even the darkness within me was covered by the blood He shed. What I could not understand was that no matter how far or how fast I ran, the Light was still waiting to shine on the horizon of my heart.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like day, for darkness is as light to you.”

So the running stops, and in the wee hours of the morning, the light of the Almighty begins to pierce the bitter obscurity that had become my existence. One by one, my sin, my hurt, my brokenness, my rage, my violence, my irreverence, and my hatred began to take shape, their forms revealed slowly by the long-awaited day. Just as sunshine pours through the tiny window of an unlit prison cell, revealing the cobwebs and dust of a stagnant, stale life, so the Light began to illuminate my life, causing my eyes to squint and turn away, and my heart to break for all the atrocities it harbored for so long.

Africa surrounds me now, where the rays of the mighty fire dance on the mountains just over the waters of the deep blue.

I am the acacia tree that sways as the Spirit blows.

I am the lion who stretches out in the warm air.

I am the hospitality that was so generously given to God’s servants.

I am the colors woven into the old woman’s dress.

I am the church bell chiming to the people.

I am the drum beating to the sound of a new life.

I am the rock crying out in the silence.

I am the child lifting her hands up to her daddy to be held.

I am the broken man sitting in the cold prison cell.

I am the babe living with the fatal disease.

I am the prostitute weeping at the feet of the great Teacher.

I am the dirty kid begging in the streets for a piece of bread.

I am the guitar that belts out melodies of thanksgiving and

I am the voice that cannot sing loud enough.

I am the mountain that can be moved by His mere voice.

I am the imperfect broken vessel that is being used by the Perfect Creator,

and I am the immovable cold prison walls that do not give way.

I am a small reflection of the immeasurable grace

that was so easily poured out to me.

I am the tear that rolls down the cheek of the hardened criminal.

I am the hardened criminal.

I am the forgiveness offered to the rapist behind bars,

and I am the victim turned survivor of that very rape.

I am a picture of all that is wrong, and I am picture of all that is right.

Africa surrounds me and has enveloped my heart.

The incredible sun now hangs just above the mountains that dump into the oceans where my sin is buried. The Light now touches all that was once hidden, the cobwebs are torn down, the dust is brushed off, and what was once stagnant and stale is being moved out, stirred up, and stretched beyond all comfort for the glory of God. “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made His light to shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” So it has been a long night’s journey into day, and it will now be a long day’s journey Home.

Grace and peace, y'all. Grace and peace.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Isn't Life Interesting?

As I have rambled on through life's journey, I have experienced some incredible highs that can only be attributed to the goodness of an amazing God. 

The day that I got married to the man of my dreams was one of those incredible highs, as I knew my Prince Charming, my tall, dark and handsome, had finally come. 

The birth of my daughters were also incredible highs, though I admittedly don't do well with sleep deprivation. 

That is Toria, my big fat baby.
 That is Princess Juju.

Serving God in various regions of Africa have been life-altering highs. Through all these highs, it was with great joy to share the reality of it all with friends and family. But I have also learned in life's journey, that there are incredible lows as well, seasons that seem to go on for far too long and with great pain and heartache. Those realities I have also tried to share for several reasons.

1. May it never seem  like I have it all together, as has been painfully apparent over the last several months. That would be the most incorrect assumption possible. 
2. Maybe someone has been through this ahead of me and can offer some insight or reminders of God's greatness even in these tough times. 
3. Maybe someone is in it now and might not feel so alone in the battle, as the isolation is almost as painful as the battle itself. 

Please don't judge me or my family for this, my brokenness. The night may be dark now, but I know that a morning is coming in some form or another, at some point in time. And I know that with that morning dawn, His mercies are new. So in the meantime, I am craving mercy and craving peace, and longing for the morning dawn.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

32 Weeks...And definitely counting!

Ok y'all. So this is purely for posterity's sake, so that there is record of how incredibly large the belly can get. I am 32 weeks today. I confess that I am a little concerned that I have 8 more weeks to grow. More or less. So for those who were asking for belly shots...enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2009


I am remembering that before the chaos of life became the heartache of life, I was not so distracted as I am now. Before the crying of babies, and pain of a broken relationship, God would put words in my heart to write and speak, to give testimony of who He is and what He does. I am remembering that He created me, even me, with gifts to share of His goodness. I am remembering that He did not create me to hide in shame for great failures, but to write of His redemptive power. Somehow, I lost myself in all of this, in the hardships of life and what I thought I was supposed to be. Letting go and moving on is hard, painful, but not impossible. And so I am taking a step, reclaiming who You made me to be.

Here is my first step.

Song of Surrender

     I remember the music clearly, though I cannot recall the melody. At one point, I knew the words to the song, though they escape me now. I remembered hearing how we are to make a new song unto the Lord, and I always thought that was just for those who were gifted in the arts. I remember thinking, “that’s not for me. I don’t have the gift of creativity or music.” But as the music played, with a melody that I knew, though I cannot remember it now, my heart began to make new song unto the Lord. And the melody that I once knew was transformed into the cry of my heart, as the Holy Spirit danced out the melody of me. 

I felt it, the Spirit, tangible, thick in my hands, but somehow not heavy or oppressive. Like a web that will not come off the fingers or out of the hair, without the impending fear of getting bit by that which spun the web. Like a thickness that enveloped my body, like a wax that poured over me, to remain warm and moldable, with room to move and fresh air to breathe. Covering, but not smothering. Encasing, but not smoldering. It filled me up, then invited me to dance. It wrapped me up, then unraveled me. And the song that I once knew was not the song that I sang, but became the backdrop of a new song altogether. I sang a song of surrender.

     My mouth, it mumbled at first, full of fear to form the words that danced all over my tongue. What if it came out wrong? What if my song made no sense or didn’t rhyme? What if it just didn’t sound right? But the words continued to dance, and my mouth began to form them for want of any other option. And it sang a song of surrender.

     The surrender flowed, deeper and deeper, and the melody intermingled with the Spirit, and the very air that I breathe, and my voice became clear and loud. And I sang a song of surrender.

     I surrender my fears, as I have so many. I surrender my need for control. I surrender my comfort, as it is a constant reminder of how little my faith truly is. I surrender my relationships, and those whom I love, as I know that You loved them first. I surrender my life to the plans of the Creator, to be used to carry out the Great Commission as He desires. I surrender my crowns, my desires, and my heart. I surrender the throne to the One who truly belongs on it. I sang a song of surrender.

     As I sang and my voice rang clearer, the weaknesses that were handed over became glory to the Christ. The Spirit draped itself over areas that were once my burdens to carry and my back became straighter and taller. I felt the Christ come under my arm, His strength holding me up higher than I’ve ever stood. The tears came pouring down, as I saw all that was ugly lifted from my back and placed on His, His smile unwavering and His strength unfailing. I turned my head in shame, paralyzed by my pride, and His hand gently touched my cheek, turning me to face Him fully.

Don’t be afraid, child. I’m with you now, as I always was.

Let’s finish this together.

And I sang a song of surrender.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Journey to Remember

I am on a journey to remember how good You are, as lately the view has been a bit clouded. But I know that there was a time that I fell head over heels in love with You and was sold out enough to follow You to the ends of the earth. But life got busy and life got messy, and I forgot who You were in the midst of it all. So now as I cry out for You to restore to me the joy of Your salvation, I ask You to help me remember who You were, who You are, and who You remain to be.

Help me to remember that You are not tied to my circumstances, as that is not true faith. Then, when the wolf huffs and puffs and blows my house down, I will raise my hands to praise You for at least sparing my life.

Help me to remember that You are not like man, so that when the disappointing reality of brokenness sets in, my relationship with You is not broken as well.

Help me to remember that You are not the struggles I go through but the strength that sustains me so that when I feel hopeless and helpless, I will go to the right source for renewal.

Help me to remember that once I was dead and it was You who brought me to life, so that I can know that even now a resurrection is possible.

Help to remember that you saved me for a purpose, and that even still have You know the plans You have for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me. Help me to remember.

Help me to remember that all grace and peace comes from You.