My little angel is the typical todder. Our days are filled with tantrums, hissy fits, stubbornness, outrage, whining, and lots and lots of crying. I find it VERY frustrating.
As I observe his behavior, I notice so much of me in him. He reacts and responds to me so much like I treat Jesus. I get mad when things don’t go my way and in MY time. I stubbornly refuse to do simple tasks that He asks of me. I whine about my circumstances or whatever meaningless thing I can find to whine about and I cry. I can’t help but imagine how frustrated He is with me knowing how deeply He desires to see me happy, safe, and blossoming in my current ground.
It saddens my heart to think I am driving my Savior as crazy as my toddler is me!
But Jonah shows me in so many moments throughout the day that I am his best friend. When he falls down or gets hurt, he immediately runs to his mommy’s arms. When he learns something new or accomplishes some silly tasks, I am the one he wants to tell all about it. He longs to spend time with me and is most happy when we play together.
And when he has a bad dream, he calls my name out while still asleep. Even in his dreams, I am his hero.
As frustrated as we get with each other, we are beyond deeply in love with each other. Our bond is precious. I know that his temper and his frustrating characteristics of this age are genuine… and that’s what God really wants of us. Sure, He longs for us to grow out of the tantrums and trust what He has planned for us. But He already knows our hearts and loves for us to be real with Him. He waits for those moments when we fall and get hurt and cry out “Daddy!” He is waiting with open arms for us to run to. He wants us to trust beyond everything else that He is our problem-solver, like a mommy to her little boy. God wants us to get excited about telling Him things He already knows… just because we love Him and need to talk. God longs for the genuine intimacy reflected in parenthood. And as I travel this journey of parenting day by day, I am falling even more in love with my sweet, sweet Jesus.
Today, I am thankful that my Father in Heaven is patient with me as I slip into acting like a toddler Christian every now and again. And I pray for patience to see my Jonah through this phase… just in time for Eve to enter it! OH DEAR.. I pray for triple patience! :)
Jonah brag of the day:
My son loves to sing. He has quite a catalog of songs memorized. My favorite so far, is “At Your Feet” by Casting Crowns. Go take a listen to that one and imagine my 2 year old little boy hollering “Jesus, Jesus” at the top of his lungs. I cry every. single. time.
WHAT? This blog is still active?
Why, yes. Yes it is!
I’ve been gone from blogspace for about a year… shortly following the news that we were pregnant with our 2nd child. And life has happened in a blink of an eye since then. There’s been a whole lot of great (like the birth of babygirl Eve Rebekah), followed by a whole lot of recent awful. But God is good and we are doing awesome. And I had this lovely thought I needed to share with you about one of my favorite, and most-blogged-about topics– Marriage!
For my non-Heights readers: Our church has been in an impromptu revival for a little over a week. The Holy Spirit prompted our Pastor to call a revival and we’re going until God says “Stop!” So far it has been unbelievable. I’ve heard there are these revivals popping up all over the country right now and am prayerful for a HUGE nationwide awakening! The transformation of lives we have seen has been unfathomable, not to mention the 40+ baptisms since Sunday. The theme of our little revival is “Get Real.” We’re being asked to quit faking it and be honest with God and with others about where we’re at. This has led to an enormous confessions of sins– to every type of sin you can imagine.
Dustin and I have both confessed sins to each other this week that neither of us could have ever imagined hearing the other say. Our hearts have been broken. Trust has been shaken. And our faith is pretty much all that we had left.
Dustin confessed first. The next 24 hours was intense. I was so angry and so hurt. I wanted to make him hurt, too. I kicked him to the couch. I refused to wear my wedding ring. I wouldn’t look him in the eye. Somehow in that 24 hours, God answered my prayer from Sunday night’s revival. All I prayed was, “God- Fix me. Whatever that means and whatever that takes. Just fix me!”
I woke up the next day feeling released of the sin I was hiding. And smiling. A welcome change! God had been orchestrating the past few days and what other people were doing to prime me for my next step- putting on my big girl panties and confessing to Dustin. I prepared all day and by the time he got home and we were sitting down to talk, I was overflowing with joy to the point where I had to make myself stop smiling, because this was definitely not fun or funny!
I confessed. It went about how you would think. Lots of tears, questions, more tears. And he did the unexpected. He wrapped his giant arms around my whole body and embraced me with tenderness. ME? The one that had just wronged him greatly. I couldn’t stop crying and telling him how much I did not deserve his kindness.
I could go on with all the details but I don’t want this to be too long. Just know that my husband set some world records that night for forgiveness and compassion. After a whole lot of sweet moments, we picked up the pieces and he took me to my favorite restaurant for dinner.
Dustin Thomas makes me feel worse about myself than any other person. (I know what you’re thinking, but hang on here… this is good!) When I compare myself to him as far as “being good,” I always feel inferior. And you know we all do that. We always compare our sins to people we know. In comparison to my husband, he is such a better person than me. And anyone who knows me would totally agree.
BUT. Dustin Thomas ALSO makes me feel more loved than any other person. In the midst of the worst mistake of my life, he showed nothing but love. He is still hurt and upset, but he treats me no differently than he did the day before. In fact, he is treating me better. I may complain about his lack of thoughtfulness and not ever taking the initiative to express his love for me- but NOTHING can beat the way he ultimately treats me.
If a marriage is supposed to be a portrait of Christ and the Church- we are spot on! He plays the “Christ” role wonderfully- showing unconditional love and forgiveness. I play the “Church” role perfectly, too- always screwing up! Haha. I’m kidding.
We’re not perfect, neither one of us. Our marriage isn’t perfect. But I am secure and covered in a love that has no boundaries. He makes me feel just like Christ does.
In comparison to Jesus, I lose every time. In comparison to Dustin, I lose every time. But both of those men extend me mercy and grace without measure (although Dustin told me he has to forgive me 7×70 times and he is keeping count!).
My husband is the absolute best! I am so glad we both got real and got revived this week! If you live in the area PLEASE come to revival. These stories are happening in homes all throughout our church. God is doing some serious business in Clearwater and you don’t want to miss Him… His help is free!
Today is mine and Dustin’s 4 year wedding anniversary!
It’s hard to believe I adore him more now than I did four years ago, but he has grown to be so much more handsome, loving, and above reproach. Watching him be a Daddy to our little boy melts my heart day after day. It takes a lot to get that “sensitive” side out of Dustin, but Jonah’s smile gets it every time. I’m so looking forward to seeing him lock eyes with our baby girl for the first time in a few short months!
In four years, we’ve lived in 4 (and 5) different zip codes. (I have to say “and 5″ because of the couple of months that I worked in DC while Dus was still in WA.) Which means that many different houses. We’ve had 7 different vehicles (that’s crazy). We’ve been as far south as Mexico, as far west as Seattle, and as far north as White Plains. Sad to say that in four years of marriage, Dustin has not made one trip out to see my family in Houston. He needs a talking to about that!
We lost our puppy Sebastian to a tragic car accident on our 1 year anniversary. We’ve seen our two favorite comedians live– Conan O’Brien and Jerry Seinfeld. Created life twice! Tried to create life… just kidding. I won’t tell you how often! hahahaha. We’ve had a lot to celebrate– new jobs, becoming parents, Dustin’s ordination, my college graduation (not in that order!). And we’ve had some sadness– the loss of jobs and the loss of family and friends.
If feels like we’ve been married forever. I can’t even remember what it was like before. We are absolute best friends and have been for going on 9 years! I am so lucky to have such a considerate husband, even if I have had to learn that he shows his thoughtfulness in very different ways than those romantic comedies. My husband puts me before himself… almost 100% of the time. ;) He is a doll and I am looking forward to each year ahead.
I love to just touch him. Just to sit beside him and feel him there. His warmth is my comfort and when I feel him near, my heart is at rest. He knows how to calm me down with just a look. He pushes me to continuously improve my character. I know God made him just for me. And I’m so thankful Dustin obediently loves me solely and faithfully.
I pray that with each moment, we grow exponentially toward God and toward each other. I pray that we never cease to encourage each other and to avidly support each other’s passions. And I pray that we always enjoy each other’s company as much as we do now– because we really can’t get enough!
After Jonah was born, I thought a lot about his future wife and things I’d like to pass along to her. I initially planned to give her my Bible on their wedding day with all my notes and thoughts inside from the heart of a wife and mother. But now that we are expecting our own little girl in August, I intend to pass that along to my Eve.
My Bible is, and always has been!, in the New International Version. I am VERY attached to the NIV. I’m pretty sure every Bible I’ve ever had since late elementary school was an NIV, 1984 edition. But as some of you know, the NIV got updated to a new edition in 2011. This edition is bad news for conservative Christians. The most appalling change to the new version is how it addresses gender. The 2011 NIV calls us to “fish for people” instead of to “be fishers of men.” This same practice of removing the male pronoun or article occurs hundreds of times in this new translation.
These may seem like small, insignificant changes to you, but this is huge. Each little change is just one step closer to where Satan ultimately wants us. Just look in your own congregation. Think about how much of a struggle it has been to get young women to understand the concept of submission after the world has taught them for decades that they are their own boss. Think about the marriages of today that are suffering because of the feminist movement. This new version is just going to encourage that.
When I first read pieces of the 2011 NIV, I was very upset about it. But I didn’t think it would affect me because I’m smart enough to keep my 1984 edition. As Mother’s Day drew near this year and I started thinking about the legacy I was leaving behind for my children, God convicted me of my continued support of the NIV. If I seek to open my Bible with my children (which I do), and as I’m sharing with them God’s word they are learning to understand and enjoy the NIV, what’s going to happen when I go out and purchase one for them? What if in 10 years I can’t find any new 1984 editions? I can’t take the risk of raising my babies on this version.
With that said, I’ve had to make the very hard choice to switch translations. This decision HURTS. All of the verses I have memorized in the NIV. I grew up with my NIV. I really really like the wording. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about which translation I’m going to switch to. I’d like to stick with a similar translation, another one that uses “thought by thought” translation instead of “word by word.” I narrowed it down to a couple of versions and then looked up a handful of my favorite verses in each translation to see the difference. I’ve decided to go with the New American Standard Bible.
Dustin and I sat down and discussed this and I’ve asked him to give me my new Bible as a gift the day Eve is born. We’re looking at just about 12 more weeks until she arrives! I still have 14 books of the Bible I’ve not read yet so I’m hoping to finish reading those 14 books in the next 12 weeks so that I can have read the entire Bible in the NIV translation. And then I’ll start again with my NASB.
As I sat down to write, I starting googling the 2011 NIV and read many articles from other Southern Baptists and/or conservatives who feel the same way. These groups are boycotting the NIV. I think it’s really something to think about. How far is too far and where do we draw the line? As much as I support the NIV of the past, I cannot and will not support it’s present. For the sake of my children, and their futures.
I just got home from a 2 day conference with the South Carolina Association of Pregnancy Care Centers. What an exhausting couple of days, physically and mentally… but worth every ounce of energy poured into it! I’ve got tons of things I want to blog about. I’ve had some serious writer’s block lately… having sat down several times the past few weeks to write. I just keep deleting it all because it’s pointless garbage. But alas! I’ve got stuff to tell you!
Real quick I want to tell you what a blessing it was to meet all the other Directors from around the state. There are 24 (I believe) Pregnancy Care Centers in the state of South Carolina. The women that run these facilities across our state are phenomenal women with huge hearts and an unwavering passion for the unborn. I am so excited to join this group of women and to grow in my faith and in my position as Center Director as these women have set the example.
Our 2 day conference started out with a trip to the South Carolina State House where we sat in on the Senate session. The SC Senate issued a Resolution honoring and thanking the Pregnancy Care Centers of South Carolina. We were all amazed at how God orchestrated that session. When the session began, the men were talking amongst themselves and not paying attention to anything. It was so loud that we could barely hear anything the Clerk was reading. They started off recognizing another organization from the state with a similar Resolution. Then they read through all the Bills that were on the desk and made their decision of what to do with them. And then, somehow… they got into a 10-15 minute discussion about the House v. Senate annual softball game that had taken place the night before. It was one of the strangest things I’d ever seen. Men standing and waiting to be recognized by the President. They went through all the correct procedure before speaking, just to say silly little comments about their own plays in the game or something they observed during the game. And still, all the other men were just carrying on their own private conversations.
And then Senator Larry Grooms had his turn to speak. He approached the podium with his Bible in hand and began by reading Psalm 139.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand —
when I awake, I am still with you.
As soon as God’s word was spoken, the Senate silenced. Senator Grooms began to read the Resolution about Pregnancy Care Centers and we were asked to stand. As our group of 25ish women stood up banded together in the balcony, the Senators stopped and looked at us. They took notice of our presence and of our passion. It was amazing to get recognized by the State. That would not happen in a lot of states!
We gave each Senator and Representative a long-stemmed red rose symbolizing life, and a Precious Feet pin. These pins are of two little baby feet and are actual size and shape of a baby’s in utero at 10 weeks after conception. It was a great time.
South Carolina aborts 7,000 babies per year. While the Resolution is appreciated and enjoyed, we know that these congressmen have more work to do! And certainly, so do we!
Dustin read this great piece in a book last night and shared it with me. This one was so good, it has to be shared. And expanded upon!
This thought comes from the book “Forgotten God.”
Did you ever wonder what caterpillars think about themselves? They are born… they spend a week eating lots of food… they lay down for a nap…. and then they wake up one day with the ability to fly! No longer are they slithering around. They’re soaring!
Have you ever had a hard time distinguishing between a caterpillar and a butterfly? Probably not, I’m thinking. Because we can completely tell the difference between someone who is dragging along and someone who is flying.
So how is it then, that we walk through life slithering by and one day receive the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit and we still look like a caterpillar! The transformation should be just as significant and life-changing as the caterpillar’s. When we receive the Holy Spirit, we are different. We have abilities that never crossed our minds before. We are made completely new.
I want the world to know I am a butterfly! I want to fly on the wings of the Holy Spirit and show the caterpillars their potential beauty in Christ. I want to see a generation of Christians who commit to CHANGING their old way of life for a greater life in Christ. Caterpillars and butterflies don’t get around the same way. Caterpillars hang out with caterpillars, and butterflies hang out with butterflies. They eat different things. They see different things (the view from the air is so much better!).
Romans 12:2 – Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing, and perfect will.
I hope that I live my life intentionally. That is my goal, daily. I want to make choices and decisions that seem odd or out-of-place for the sole purpose of pointing out who God is and who I am because of Him. I want everything I do to stink of Jesus (For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15). I want to fly like a butterfly. I want to stand on a flower (going to try this later).
The main difference between Christians walking filled with the Holy Spirit and butterflies is this — Someone can rub our wings all they want, but our wings will not be destroyed!
So how about it, Christian caterpillars. Are y’all ready to accept the wings you’ve been given and learn to be a butterfly?
Isaiah 40:31 - But those who hope in the Lord will renew heir strength. They will soar on wings like [butterflies]; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.
As the saying goes, hindsight is 20/20. I’ve found this especially true in my walk with Christ. I remember going through periods of life confused and so desperate to get to the next phase. Now, looking back– I see God was at work in my life to prepare me to be in His exact place, in His exact time.
Do you ever have those moments where something happens to you that you never saw coming and you say, “God, why?” I’m here to tell you to embrace those times. Sure, it’s ok to ask God and hope He’ll loudly proclaim His purpose to you from above… but don’t get your hopes up! His plan might not be ready to be revealed. But you can be certain that if He has a specific goal for you, He will do everything possible (which to Him, is everything!) to shape you in to being the perfect version of you for when He reveals His plan.
Case in point. (And I’m going to try to run through this first part quickly and as un-boastful as possible!)
I’m somewhat brainy. Maybe slightly obsessive about being the smartest at everything I do. That attribute has always been highly prevalent in my life and readily appraised by my peers and teachers. Going through high school, I was sure to be the one who got all the scholarships and did exactly what she had always planned. College didn’t slow me down. I picked up the pace in college taking extra courses, finishing a year early and still maintaining an almost 4.0 GPA. Everyone always knew I was going to be successful, and probably pretty well-off financially. Based on the statistics of my academic career, I was pretty certain that would happen, too.
College graduation came and I had 5 interviews in Manhattan, NY. Dustin and I had always dreamed of living there. So off we flew to Manhattan for my interviews. Dustin’s company had already said they would be willing to transfer him to the NY office. But then at the last-minute, they changed their minds. All of a sudden, Dustin had to move to WA or he didn’t have a job. New York no longer had a future with us. I was so disappointed that our dream of living the big city life wasn’t going to happen and I wondered why God sent us out into the desert of Washington.
After 10 months of desert life, I was beyond over it. Dustin’s job was so wishy-washy about our length of stay and we just wanted to get out of there. We desperately longed for a place we could put roots down, and that job in WA offered no promise of permanency. So I sent my brainy-kid resume all over the US and landed myself a job in Washington, DC. Yes!! The city life was coming to us! Dustin didn’t have a job yet, but we agreed I would move there and begin work while he looked for work. Five days before my plane took off to move me 3000 miles away, we found out we were pregnant. A beautiful surprise, but one that didn’t quite fit our plans to live 3000 miles apart until Dustin found a job… especially not in this economy!
So we resolved to make that job temporary and move back home to Aiken where our family was. Moving back home had been our dream for almost a year at that point. And God was finally bringing us back to SC. By the time my job in DC ended, Dustin’s job in WA was over and we moved home together. And the following Monday, Dustin was laid off.
This period of our lives was filled with a lot of “why’s?” but we were so thrilled to be home and so excited about becoming parents, we got over it quickly. Dustin hooked him a part-time job at Wal-Mart which he holds to this day (except he got a promotion and went full-time a couple of months ago). I refrained from working until after Jonah was born.
Jonah was born about 5 weeks early. But perfectly healthy (praise God!). Had he not been born when he was, I wouldn’t have got the job I did. Five and a half weeks after Jonah made his appearance, I went to work at my alma mater. As I look over that period of my life and reflect on the purpose, I am confident that my son was born 5 weeks early so I could get that job and be an integral part in leading my friend to Christ. His life is greatly changed since then and I know God put us in each other’s path for that reason.
I got to a point of complacency in my job there, even after ignoring the call to ministry. It was then that my job was terminated. Randomly and without reason. I was so disappointed. So hurt. But God sent me on a whirlwind of emotions that led me to accept His call to ministry.
God blessed me with a job to pay the bills while I waited for His ministry plans to be revealed to me. But I woke up every day knowing it wasn’t my purpose (and how unsatisfying is that!). But I am utterly happy to report that in 2 weeks, I will be starting as the Director of a local ministry– Life Choices Pregnancy Center in Clearwater.
It’s crazy how random life has happened to me in the past 3 years. But I know now it wasn’t random at all. All this time, God was trying to show me that until I surrender and obey Him, I’m not going to “succeed.” I never got to a place in the secular world where I felt successful, or at least not as successful as I thought I would be. And any time I came close (NY, DC), God added an ingredient to my life to make me choose success over family. Luckily, He knew my free will would pick family over success… but a few years ago, I don’t think there was much more I would’ve put before being successful. It was realllllllly important to me.
I know that God gifted me with many talents, but those talents won’t get me anywhere until I plant them in His purpose for my life. I’m glad to have identified my purpose as ministry to young women and to now have the opportunity to do that as my job!
This job is a huge leap of faith. Even thinking about taking it went against everything my flesh desires. It is a gigantic cut in pay and benefits and all that jazz. Paying our bills is going to take creativity and some side jobs. The accountant inside me should be shaking in her boots. But God gave me peace to not worry and to take this job on faith. I have confidence that God called me to this position and to this ministry, and am confident He will see me through.
And my favorite verse to top it all off…
That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him for that day. 2 Timothy 1:12