Manic Mondays

This fall semester ushered in a crazy season of life for us.

We’ve prepared for our little one, who will make her appearance any day now.

Spencer started year #2 of teaching, as well as driving the bus at times, working a part-time job at a photography studio, and to top it off started his master’s program.

Life is a bit crazy right now (but really, when is it not in one way or another?)!  For the next couple years it will be like this.  We know this is just a season.  Spencer won’t have to work these crazy hours forever.  We definitely have to view it as an investment in the future of our family.  And we are learning how to treasure the time we have together.  Most days that time together is just not very much.  It is so important for us to appreciate the time we do get and make the most of it.

Mondays definitely top  the list.  Spencer teaches all day and then has his master’s class until 9:00.  Sometimes I get to bring him dinner on his quick 15 minute break in the middle of class.  We take time together whenever we can get it!

I am incredibly grateful for how hard Spencer is working to provide for our family.  My love and respect for him continually grows.  All the long hours will pay off.  And I will get to tell our children how their daddy thought of them and provided for them before they were even part of our family.

In the midst of all that is going on, we constantly see the Lord’s provision and faithfulness.  He is growing us and maturing us and teaching us in all of this.  What more could we ask for?

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Baby C Update: Week 38!

We really are in the final countdown!

We are halfway through the 38th week of this pregnancy and simply cannot wait to meet our little girl!

I figured I’d better write at least one last update since our Katherine Elizabeth can come anytime.  So here are some end of pregnancy thoughts.

It’s funny how people talk about “nesting.”  Supposedly it’s this instinct that kicks in near the end where you clean and get organized and prepare for the baby.  It is supposed to be an indicator that labor is coming soon.  Ha!  For some people nesting might actually be a thing, but for someone who has always functioned so much better with things clean and organized, it’s not a real thing.  I did have a time in middle school where I never put my clothes away and they constantly laid scattered over my room.  But that was my one time of not being clean and organized.  In high school, I bought a filing cabinet and was quite excited about it.  Seriously.  It’s ridiculous.  I admit it.  But as far as nesting goes, it just didn’t exist for me because that’s just my mindset constantly.

I can’t even tell you when the last time was that I slept through the night.  People like to tell us that this is nothing compared to the lack of sleep we will get whenever Katherine is here.  But I’m certain it will be different.  No matter what stage of life you are in, there is a difference between quality of sleep and quantity of sleep.  For many months now, I’ve woken up way more than every three hours and am constantly uncomfortable, whether because of awful heartburn or because there is a human inside me very ready to come out.  And let me just say, if the old wives’ tale is true and heartburn is an indication of the baby’s hair…she is going to have a full head of hair!  So we’ll just wait and see.

Everyone has their “just wait” comments.  For some reason people think it is necessary to dump all sorts of advice on us and tell us to “just wait” (in a negative way).  It seems as though people who have “been there and done that” like to tell you how hard life is about to be and how unfit you are for what you are about to face.  And most people expect you to progress in pregnancy and go through things just like they did.  But the honest fact is that every pregnancy is different and every birth story is different.  We try our best to handle all the comments with grace and courtesy, but sometimes it gets hard to keep smiling through them all.  If anything, it has taught us how not to be towards others who are expecting children.

I am so blessed to go through this journey with Spencer.  And as we near the end of this pregnancy and the beginning of parenthood, we just couldn’t be more excited to see how the Lord grows us closer together and closer to Him.  There is no doubt this pregnancy has been hard, especially in our first year of marriage.  But the hard things we face together only make us stronger.  We had a plan, just like most newlyweds.  We wanted to wait a few years before having kids.  But God had a different plan and we trust Him.  We trust Him with our marriage; we trust Him with Katherine.

And speaking of trust, pregnancy has taught me so much about trusting the Lord in the things you can’t see.  In His amazing creativity, God grows children in a woman’s womb.  And although it happens in your body, there is so much unknown to it.  You can read all the books, but you really don’t know what is specifically going on with your baby.  It requires so much trust and faith that God will do what He sees fit for His glory.  Especially as we near the end of this pregnancy, so many thoughts race through my mind, and I really have to make sure I spend time in the Word to rid my mind of any worry.

We trust the Lord with Katherine now.  And we are thankful for how He has used her already to draw us nearer to Him.  We will continue to trust the Lord with Katherine as she enters the world.

Being in this phase where Katherine can come any day or three weeks from now is such a strange place to be.  But everyday we wake up and face the unknown.

I’ve written before about how engagement and waiting on a child (whether in pregnancy or adoption) are two of the biggest echoes of the Church awaiting the return of Christ.  And it is all the more evident as we near the end of this pregnancy.  We wait in anticipation of Katherine’s arrival, knowing she is coming soon, but with no idea of what day it will be.  We don’t just sit by the door with a hospital bag next to us, keys in hand, ready to go.  We go on with everyday life.  We continue working and living and doing what we do.

Praise the Lord Christ is coming soon!  But as we wait, knowing He could return tomorrow or several years from now, we must continue living.  We can look forward to the other side of glory while continuing to make a difference for the Kingdom in the here and now.

Thank the Lord for the lessons He teaches us through the craziness of this life!

Some people have requested baby bump pictures.  It’s always awkward to take a picture by yourself, but here you go.  🙂  We will share some pictures of the nursery soon.

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Our God is able….But if not…

My mind has reverted to a couple verses in Daniel recently as I’ve thought about the Lord’s activity in my life and around me.

I went through Beth Moore’s Daniel study several years ago when I still lived in Orlando, and it caused my spiritual eyes to be awakened to that magnificent book (as well as Revelation since the two are so connected).  That Bible study packs a mighty theological punch that will make you long for the return of our Savior and fall more in love with Him while we wait.

I just love these verses:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.  If this be so our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.  But if not, but it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

Daniel 3:16-18

Shadrach, Meschach, and Abednego stood faithful to God and literally faced the fire.  They knew that God was able to save them from the flames.  They knew He could.  But they also knew He might not.  And that didn’t make their faith waver.  God was able to save them, but if He didn’t He was still God.

What a faith!  What a testimony to hearts in tune with their Maker’s!  They would not compromise.  They would proclaim the greatness of God no matter what the outcome of their situation.

I’ve been thinking a lot about praying for things, good things (like healing for the sick, rest for the weary, families being together, financial provisions).  I know wholeheartedly that my God is able to heal, restore, provide, help.  But sometimes those things don’t happen, at least in the way our earthly minds see.  He is perfectly able.  But there are times His way of healing and restoring, providing and helping looks a lot different than we anticipated or desired.  Even when the answers to our prayers are different than we hoped, He is still God; He is always good; He is forever faithful.

Three examples grip my heart at the moment:

We prayed for my dad to get a job in Nashville so they wouldn’t have to add another move to the Mitchel moving repertoire, but he got one based in Dallas.  There is no doubt that God provided, but there are uncertainties and heartache involved .

So many prayed for healing from cancer for a couple different men who were very close family friends and spiritual influences over the years.  We fervently prayed that they would be healed and continue to be the amazing disciples, husbands, fathers, and friends that they were.  But they were welcomed home into heaven instead.  God surely healed them of all worldly pain and sorrow and sin, but they left behind mourning wives, devastated children, and heartbroken friends.

The summer before my senior year of high school a friend died in a car accident.  We gathered together in prayer while she was in the hospital and hoped for a miracle.  But that miracle didn’t come.  I know God heard our prayers, but His will wasn’t to restore her body and let her continue growing up.

These are just a few of the many situations my heart has been flooded with as I’ve pondered these verses from Daniel recently.  All I know is, my God is able.  And He is always good and faithful.  Always.  He is God.  And He knows best.  He can heal.  But even if He doesn’t, He is still God.  He is able to provide.  But even if it looks completely different from what we thought was best, He is still God.  He uses all for His glory, our sanctification, and His Kingdom.

May we face the day resting assured of who the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is.  May we continue to pour our hearts to our Father and know He hears our passionate pleas.  May we delight in the goodness, faithfulness, and immutability of our God.

He is God.  He is faithful.  He is good.

Always.

Along this same thought is the song “Burn Us Up” from Shane and Shane.  They always have a way of ministering to my heart.

Hear the story behind the song here:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqGsZKD2jLY

And here is the actual song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70PDuymQ_h0

Dive Into the Old Testament

When people read Scripture, I think they tend to read more in the New Testament.  Believers love pouring over the gospels and the letters, which is without a doubt wonderful.  But the New Testament doesn’t make sense without the Old Testament.  The Old is the context for the New.  You can’t have the New without the Old.  And the Bible those first believers had was the Old Testament.

I’ve always been intrigued with the Old Testament.  Some of my favorite classes in college were the Old Testament ones.  And anytime I get to read something that sparks a greater love for those unique books I jump at it.

Recently I read two books that further instilled in me a desire to know my spiritual history more.  Francine Rivers’ book The Warrior and Priscilla Shirer’s book One in a Million are two fantastic books that bring you back to the roots of the Christian faith and the work the Lord did establishing His people.  The Warrior is a fiction book based on Caleb that truly grabs your attention and makes you turn to the pages of the Word and study him, his character, and his relationship with Joshua.  One in a Million deals with these same people and why they were allowed to go into the Promised Land.  Out of the two million Israelites that were redeemed from slavery in Egypt, only two were allowed into the promised land.  Shirer does a great job of giving the context of the Israelites’ years in the wilderness and why only two were allowed in, and she then applies it to modern day believers so that we can claim our inheritance without wandering.

These books were wonderful because of their ability to make you want to dive into the Word and study it for yourself.  I definitely recommend them.  They are easy to read and capture your attention.  And the best part is that the authors grab your attention and then turn it to Scripture.  Cheers to authors that can do that!

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Social Media and Comparisons

I really am thankful for social media.  It has allowed me to stay in touch with family and friends even with several hundred or thousand miles between us.  There are some redeeming qualities to all of it.

But sometimes I just would rather it not be such a big part of life nowadays.  People pour hours into peering into others’ lives and using posts to evaluate and critique their own lives and others’ lives.  It has taken comparisons to a whole new level.  The media has always fostered comparisons in our culture.  Whether it be with athletes, actors, singers, or the insanely rich, American media and way of life encourage some pretty crazy standards.  Standards that usually make a mockery of Biblical wisdom and true Christian discipleship.

Social media falls right into that.  People can edit their lives to display only the glamorous and good.  The edited lives displayed depict the healthiest of foods, the most creative projects, the happiest of times, the best outfits.  And it’s not just that it is all displayed, but that these usually fake depictions of real life have the ability to be “liked.”  So when you don’t post every meal or date night, outing with a friend or adventurous undertaking, or you don’t get a high number of “likes” or “favorites”  or “repins” for what you do post, it is very easy to think your life is not as good as someone else’s.

I really am all for staying in touch with family and friends, sharing ideas and articles, marketing businesses, and loving life.  But there needs to be authenticity.  There needs to be balance.  We need to teach our children that their worth is not measured by how much they post online or how many “likes” they receive.  Knowing how people are doing based on what you read on social media does not equate to intentional relationships.

I might sound harsh in this, but that’s not my intention.  I am just burdened for my generation and the ones following regarding all of this.   It is more than okay to do something fun and happy without posting a picture of it.  Learning contentment in this day is hard.  But it is a battle worth fighting.

Our hearts need to be sustained by the Word and not by others’ posts.

Our identities need to be found in Christ and not what is “liked” by our “followers.”

Our relationships need to be authentic and not artificial.

It is our choice whether we fall into the trap of becoming obsessed with this social media, comparison-driven culture or rise above and use it for good.