Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Life with Baby Bump

I know I'm not great at posting updates on Facebook about my pregnancy, but I want to avoid being one of those people who post updates on ever detail of their lives.  Besides, I'm more or less going on the assumption that if someone really wants to know about our baby, they'll ask.  I'm not one to post weekly pictures of my ever-increasing gigantitude, and I think posting pictures of the inside of your uterus for the entire world to see is just, well, weird.  But trust me, there will be plenty of baby pictures abounding once our little guy arrives.  In the meantime, I thought a blog update would suffice.

Overall this has been an easy pregnancy.  (Friends who've had it rough please don't hate me!)  Prior to getting pregnant I was convinced that I would spend nine months in misery basically wanting to die, but it's actually been quite pleasant.  I'm currently 23 weeks along and everything is progressing normally.  We've gotten to see the baby at every appointment, usually with a handheld ultrasound, so no printouts, but it's been fun to see him grow each month!  It's hard to believe how quickly the time is going, and he'll be here before we know it!

Last week we received a package from John and Sarah, our dear friends in Okinawa (and future missions partners).  In it were tons of adorable baby clothes, books, and even and Engrish shirt to remind us of our incredible years in Japan.  (If you are unfamiliar with Engrish you should check it out.)  As I held up each little onesie I tried to imagine the child that will be wearing it in a few short months.  Honestly it still seems a bit too good to be true that we're actually having a baby!

Recently I've started to feel him move a lot more, and in fact there are some nights it feels like he's practicing parkour in there.  He seems to be most active when I'm trying to fall asleep, which I suppose is his sweet little way of preparing me for what's to come.  (How thoughtful of him!)

I've had lots of friends ask if I've started getting the nursery ready, and I feel a little guilty every time.  I can barely bring myself to go into the office (aka: the pit of despair) that will eventually be the nursery.  It's become our catch-all room, and I don't even know where to begin.  As something of an organizational freak, this is quite embarrassing to admit.  I keep telling myself there's plenty of time...  

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Summer Recap

I must say, the summer of 2013 has been a blast!  We've had loads of time to spend with lots of good friends, some near and some far.  And besides a weekend trip to Virginia we've pretty much stayed put, so it's been a restful time as well.  Here are a few of the highlights...

First of all, Holly was home for three months, and it was fabulous getting to spend so much time with her!  There was plenty of reminiscing about our time in Zambia, and of course we loved hearing updates on how everyone there is doing.  We're hoping we'll get to see Holly again in December when our baby boy makes his appearance!
Our friend Chris' band Harpeth Rising was in town, and, since Patrick and I are pretty much band groupies we had to be there.  And added bonus was getting to see Chris' daughter Nancy!!
I'm so excited that not only did ToniMarie get to come visit for a weekend but she's now moved to Lexington!  After 13 years of a long-distance friendship we finally live in the same state!  I'm so excited to get to see her way more often than every 3-5 years!
Our community group, which meets every Tuesday, night has continued to be one of the highlights of each week.  We are so blessed to have such wonderful friends to fellowship and study God's word with!  Not to mention, sometimes we get a little crazy...
On a recent girls' night we discovered that if we dressed up like cows we could get free food at Chick-fil-A.  Who could pass that up?  It was the one time you wouldn't be offended if someone said you looked like a cow.  Haha!
Patrick and I had another reunion with Shane and Melia, two of our closest friends from South Carolina.  It seems to be becoming something of a tradition to meet a Chipotle in Lexington while they are driving through on their way to visit family.  Hanging out with them is always a time of encouragement and excessive laughter.
In July we said goodbye to two dear friends, Stacy and Andrew, who faithfully led our community group since last spring.  To send them off well we had a huge pool party and BBQ.  Rarely do you meet people who make such a lasting impression on your life, and I'm so thankful we had the opportunity to get to know them this last year!  They are such a blessing to us!
On our way to Virginia a few weeks ago Patrick and I stopped in Asheville to visit the legendary Biltmore Estate.  It's the largest home in the United States, owned by the Vanderbilt family.  My favorite room, naturally, was the library with over 10,000 books!
Our trip to Virginia was actually for the second reunion of our Okinawa Bible study group this year!  We all came together again to celebrate Penny's baby shower, and what a fun time it was.  Emily did an excellent job of hosting, and it was wonderful to get to spend time with all of the girls.  Despite being scattered all over the country we do a decent job of staying in touch, and whenever we get together it's as if no time at all has passed since our last get together.  I thank God daily for these women!
Pete and Emily were gracious hosts and opened up their home to us while we were in Virginia.  We absolutely adore their two boys, and I can't wait to meet boy #3 soon!
My summer wouldn't be complete without getting to spend an afternoon with one of my best friends Melissa!  Our tradition is to have lunch at Olive Garden and coffee at Starbucks.  It was exciting to get to see her 1-year old daughter MaKenzie who is now walking!  Kids seriously grow up way too fast.

As I look back at so many pictures with so many dear friends I'm reminded again of how good God is! I'm so thankful to constantly be surrounded by such amazing and loving people!

Friday, August 23, 2013

A Word of Encouragement

My dad once asked me how it is God speaks to me.  He was actually asking it sarcastically since, in his mind, it's ridiculous to think that God is truly concerned with us personally.  But the longer I walk with Christ the more ways I discover that God reveals himself to me whether it's through reading scripture, speaking with friends, or during times of worship.

As I wrote in my last post I've been experiencing some discouragement about our future plans for missions.  I think a lot of it stems from feeling so settled here in Louisville, and really loving where God has placed us currently.  The thought of giving it all up is, well, unsettling.  It's easy for me to forget the grander plan God has for us when I allow myself to dwell on all the people and things we'll be leaving behind.  So last week I was being completely honest with myself and with Patrick when I said that there is (at present) only a small part of me that even wants to go back overseas.  As hard as it is to write it and admit it, I think it's important for you to know that the decision to obey God is usually not an easy one, and is one that I still struggle with.  (So if you're in that same boat, you're not alone!)

At Sojourn last Sunday we sang a new song during worship simply titled "Psalm 126."  This was one of those moments when I felt like God was speaking directly to me through the words of the Psalm.

When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who  dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations
"The Lord has done great things for you."
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.

Restore our fortunes, O Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

When I went back to my Bible to re-read this Psalm after church I realized I'd had most of it highlighted, but I had never thought of it in such personal terms.  I always wondered why the people were going out with tears and weeping.  Isn't it always pure joy to serve God?  How can they be crying when doing God's will?  I think now I have a better appreciation for what the Psalm writer meant.  Yes, there is joy in obeying God, but that road isn't always easy.  Thankfully I am reminded that those who sow weeping will go out with songs of joy.  As we go out as missionaries we will experience trials and hardships, but sowing the Word of God will bring a great harvest for the Kingdom.  It is not for our own glory that we sow but so that the nations might say, "The Lord had done great things for us."  There is an eternal significance in following God's calling!

My prayer right now is that I would set my eyes so firmly on Jesus that all worldly things would become dim; that I would be so focused on sharing the love of God that material comforts would be of little value.  And I pray that God would continually speak to me and remind me of the wonderful plan of redemption he has for his people and the great joy and reward we will experience for walking in that plan.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Called to Something Crazy

At this point most people know about our vision to serve in South East Asia on the mission field.  Over the last 3 years God has given us a heart for the nations and a passion for seeing the gospel go to the ends of the Earth.  Patrick and I are excited about an upcoming trip we're taking October where we will visit the capital city of the country where we will live.  We'll meet up with the rest of our team there as we meet and partner with some of the local missionaries who are already busy in ministry.  Our goal is to find out how we can support them long term as we move and minister alongside them.  In a way the purpose of our trip is twofold: one, to learn more about the culture and how we can fit into ministry there, and two, to feel more confident that I will literally survive there.  (Thus far my track record of being healthy in developing world cities isn't stellar.)  So this trip should give us a better idea of what life will be like for us in a couple of years.

Usually the reaction I get when I tell people about this trip is, "You'll be HOW many months pregnant?!"  That's right, we're traveling to one of the largest, most polluted developing word cities on the planet and I'll be seven months pregnant.  Most people balk at this and call me crazy (or worse).  And maybe I am crazy, but honestly this is the life that God has called us to, and being obedient to that calling is a way of putting our complete faith and trust in Him.  God is good, and we believe that he will provide for us and put a hedge of protection around us and our baby.  And if He doesn't?  God is still good.  But we aren't the types to obey God only when it's convenient or safe.  Where in the Bible do you see Jesus promising safety?  Oh wait, nowhere.  So why should we assume that in everything we do we have the right to be safe and healthy 100% of the time?  A huge part of obeying God is about forfeiting our rights to things that we never had a right to in the first place.

When Jesus calls people to follow Him, He calls them to a life of submission.  He also calls them to follow Him even when they're not entirely sure it's safe or that they're going to come out unscathed on the other side.  God doesn't promise us health and prosperity, but he does promise that those who trust and obey Him will be blessed.  And He very well might call us to do some things that seem crazy to people who don't know Jesus, but our goal isn't to look like the rest of the world, it's to be transformed into the image of Christ.  As a mother-to-be I want more than anything for my son to grow up seeing  his mommy and daddy following hard after Jesus and submitting our lives to Him daily.  I want our baby boy to grow up knowing the blessings that come from obedience to God rather than the fear of what other people might say about it.

In Matthew 21 Jesus tells the parable of the two sons.  A father, who owned a vineyard, went to each of his sons asking them to go work the fields.  The first said he'd go but never did, and the second said he wouldn't go but eventually changed his mind and got busy working.  Jesus then asked his hearers which son did the will of his father.  The answer is obvious: the son who went to work in the vineyard.  It's easy to give lip service to the will of God.  It's easy to sit in church or in Bible study or in our quiet time and tell God we want to serve him and follow him.  It's an entirely different thing to get out of your seat, or off your couch and go.  If we merely say things that we think God wants to hear, but we never actually obey his commands, what kind of followers are we?  Are we truly loving and serving God if we only obey so far as it is convenient for us?

Patrick and I want to obey God even when from all angles it looks impossible.  We are fully aware that the road ahead of us is a long and hard one, yet we believe that God is equipping us for the tasks He's called us to.  So rather seeing yet another incredulous look from someone we've shared our vision with, we need friends and family to be supportive and encouraging of the mission God has called us to.  Rather than hearing people say, "Wow, you're crazy" we need them to say, "Wow, that's going to be tough, so I'm going to commit to pray for you everyday."  We need people on our side who will support us and encourage us and help remind us of the Truth of God when we forget it.  Without the support of our friends and family, this road would be much harder, so I hope those of you reading this will choose to be one of our encouragers!!