Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Warning: This post may bore you if you aren't an Aggie

This past weekend, we went to visit College Station. We hadn't been back since Elliot was three months old, & I was in dire need of a java shake. We also hadn't seen our friends Jason & Paige in a year, so we decided to meet up with them there & spend Saturday together. Josh & I took the boys down Friday afternoon, had dinner at Blue Baker with a girl from our church who is a sophomore at A&M, then went to campus & walked around a bit. Josh did lots of reminiscing in the civil engineering building, Elliot did lots of running around, & I realized I don't handle change very well (just kidding, I knew that already, but boy did it flare up several times this weekend. That liberal arts building just should not have been built on the grassy knoll!).

This was our first experience in a hotel as a family of four. It went better than I expected. Elliot was super excited to sleep in a big bed by himself, & to get to watch TV in bed, so he did great. He also is a pretty hard sleeper so Jack never woke him up. Jack fell asleep fine in the pack n play but didn't sleep great for some reason. Oh well, we survived.

Anyways, Saturday morning we met up with J&P at a new (to us) coffee place called Mugwalls. It was delicious & I'm afraid if it had been there when we were there, it might have caused me to cheat on Sweet Eugene's a few times. Then we headed over to campus to check out the new MSC. I had heard about how much it had changed, & it definitely has, but overall I liked it. There is lots of seating now & the flag room was largely untouched, which is good. We had Layne's for lunch (which is to be expected) then spent some time driving around town, checking out our old respective residences & all the new growth in town, then met back up at Sweet Eugene's for the all-important java shake. I got Oreo & it was all I remembered it to be. We headed back to campus to walk around the Commons, where we all spent our freshman year, & did some more exploring. We hit up Northgate Vintage, a super cute store that is owned by another girl from our church here who is a student at A&M, then headed to dinner at Koppe Bridge. I haven't had a burger in forever; Koppe is worth the gluten & grease. Then we headed home. We so loved spending time with our friends who we miss having around, & loved spending time in a town that holds so many memories for us. The boys did really well too, despite the lack of sleep & being toted around here & there. We'll definitely be back before two more years pass.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Living in Biblical Community

I feel like this is something we "church people" hear all the time, but how many of us really know how to do it? How many of us are actually doing it? I would say that until recently, we weren't. But now that we are, I love it & pray that every member of the Body of Christ would experience it too!

Our church is big on life groups. As in, if you attend our church regularly, you will feel like that's almost all we talk about & you'll receive phone calls from people inviting you to them. Our life groups are based on the Acts church - a small group of people who love Jesus & who spend time together singing, reading scripture, praying together, eating together, encouraging one another & holding each other accountable. We know what is going on in each other's lives & we help each other out. (Is every group functioning like this? Probably not. We are human after all - every participant needs to be willing, group leaders need to set the stage, etc. But this is the goal of our church leadership.)

We have been in the same life group for 3.5 years. People have come & gone, but there is a core group of us who have been there the whole time, & a lot of new fairly new people from the past year or so. Some older, some younger; lots of kids, mostly little ones. We don't all look the same or act the same & we wouldn't necessarily hang out together socially if we happened to randomly meet. We're not a group of friends who decided to make a life group. We are a diverse group of people who have one main thing in common: we are a part of the Body of Christ.

When you are with a group of committed people for that long, you will encounter obstacles to your relationship. You will see that every person is flawed. They might even get on your nerves. (They probably will.) But we are committed to love one another. So we've had tough conversations, we've had tears, we've had hours upon hours of prayer together & apart, we've had times where we fought spiritual battles for each other. But we've stuck it out & now I feel we are benefiting from that. We are truly a family. We love each other.

I am blessed to have been able to be a part of this group & to know what it is really like to be part of the Body of Christ. So many people just fight through life on their own. Even some Christians. We're not meant to! We are meant to live in community. That's how we were designed. We miss out big time if we aren't doing it. It's hard work & it's not always pretty. But it's so good. No matter where we are in life, for the rest of our time on earth, Josh & I will always pray to be a part of Biblical community & we will always seek it out. It's a vital part of the life of a believer & we praise God for His perfect plan for us. It's a good one!

Friday, April 19, 2013


The Breaking Free Bible study is over. These were some challenging, exhausting, purposeful weeks. If you'll remember, I realized in early January that God wanted to do some work in me. He set the stage in part with being physically drained from lack of sleep, then throw in a toddler & a baby, which really leave a person feeling like they have no control over their life. I needed this. I threw up the white flag & told God He could do whatever He wanted. & He did. In the first three weeks, He revealed so many things in my life that were ugly. They were things of the flesh, that is dead in me, that I (mostly unknowingly) was dragging along with me in an attempt to walk with Jesus. That's a gross mental picture & in reality, it wasn't working out so well.

Until today, I was overwhelmed. The study moved quickly & we kind of left all of those Ugly Things behind, not completely dealt with, & I kept thinking about them. God, when are you going to want to go back so we can hash through it all? This study is NOT long enough!

On the last day, Beth Moore challenged us to write out a covenant in conclusion to the study. I was thinking I should spend a lot of time going back & perhaps going over each Ugly Thing until I felt like I had some kind of grasp on it - some scripture about it memorized, ways to handle it in the future, etc. As I sat down to spend time with Jesus this morning & write out that covenant, God spoke out the conclusion - it all came together in an instant. Words that He spoke to me over the course of those weeks all of a sudden fell in place like a perfect puzzle & it was done. No need to continue going over the Ugly Things. He didn't want me to do that. Because that would end in me trying to work out holiness in myself, which is something I struggle with already & we aren't meant to do that.

It might all seem so basic, but it was a complete revelation to me in that moment. All He wants me to do is so simple. Difficult to live out, especially on particular days, yes. But so simple.

Cease striving in my efforts.
Walk in the Spirit.
Ask for wisdom in each specific moment.
Do what He leads me to do.
Memorize scripture. Put it on the walls of my heart, in place of lies.

HE will do the transforming work in me. I don't need to do it. Thank the Lord! HE is faithful to produce the likeness of His son in me. Even though the study is over, His work in me is not - He will work it out into completion (Philippians 1:6).

PRAISE HIM! He is so good!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Jack @ 6 months

Jack is officially no longer a baby. Over the past month, we have seen so much change in him! He sits up now which makes him very happy; he's wanted to be able to sit up for a long time & just loves to sit on the floor & watch everyone around him. He grabs for everything so watch out for your hair and jewelry! If you set two items in front of him, one by his feet & one several inches away from his feet, he will reach for the furthest item. He loves the challenge. It's so fun to watch him wrap his little baby fingers around something & inspect it (then perhaps stick it in his mouth).

He is loud! He giggles & squeals & talks a lot. He has recently mastered the "da" sound, so he repeats "a-da, a-da, a-da" & it is the cutest thing. He has been known to start laughing for no reason. His favorite thing to do is watch Elliot. Elliot will run around the room & Jack thinks it is hilarious (which of course, Elliot loves). Jack prefers Elliot's cars & train tracks over bright baby toys (sometimes Elliot likes this, sometimes he doesn't).

He is a social little man. He wants to be with people & doesn't want to miss a thing (so forget getting a decent nap unless he's in his crib without anyone else nearby!). He never cries unless he's hungry or tired & is okay being passed off to people he doesn't know. He'll just grin & grab at their face. He seems to know when I am messing with him, teasing him somehow, & he'll just look up at me & smile. He already seems to have a sense of humor!

It's so fun to see his little personality coming out. I love this stage as they are developing so quickly. God designed this little person to have characteristics & quirks & we get to find out what they are. I pray that we are able to foster his personality & allow him to be exactly who God made him to be, & that he will be used for God's glory!

Mothering Matters

This is copied from my MOPS email - very encouraging.

Mothering Matters
By Mandy Arioto, mom of three

To the mom I saw at Costco yesterday. I see you. I see you friend, with a baby on your hip and a toddler strapped into the cart. Tired eyes and rushing to get your shopping done so that you can get home for nap time. Weary from surviving on four hours of sleep.

I wish I had stopped to look you in the eye in the middle of the cereal aisle to let you know that your efforts matter.

Kissing that boo and putting Band-Aids on, just because. That matters.

Watching your kids do the same tricks over and over again on the trampoline and each time acting as if it was the most impressive trick you have ever seen. That matters.

Snuggling on the couch and telling stories in a silly voice. That matters.

Waking at dawn and kissing goodnight. That matters.

What you are doing is so important. From one generation to the next, echoes of your voice will be heard.

I know what you think sometimes, because I have the same struggles. Too often we are cruel to ourselves. We tell ourselves things that aren’t true. We lay awake at night, shaming ourselves for all the things we haven’t done. Or we go through the day thinking that if somehow we just fed our kids a little bit healthier or read one more story or were a little more patient, that then we would be enough.

So, just in case today is one of those days when you are wondering if what you are doing really matters — wondering if anyone notices — if anything you are doing is world changing — feeling like your shoulders are heavy with worry —if you woke up today and already were looking forward to bedtime, then here is the truth for the day: You are the mom your kids need. I see you and your efforts are beautiful. You are enough.