Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Back on 2012

Our 2012 Newsletter, plus more!

This year was a busy and eventful year for us, with many challenges and opportunities. Grant and I have learned so much about relying on the Lord’s strength this year, and He has done some incredible things in our personal lives, as well as in our family as a whole. We began 2012 keeping very busy with revivals, concerts, and retreats at Psalms Camp. We made many new friends, saw the Lord work in people's hearts, and enjoyed sweet fellowship with likeminded saints. In March, I was able to meet one of my role models, Joyce Rogers, who came to Psalms Camp for a Ministry Wives retreat. I was (and still am!) powerfully impacted by that weekend. In April, we celebrated our Nathan's 1st birthday, then our second anniversary a few days later. Shortly after that, we said "goodbye" to Grant's grandmother as she ended her long battle with cancer. Then at the end of April, we welcomed a sweet little niece into the world and became an aunt and an uncle for the first time!

Along with concerts and revivals, we were able to make many memories with Nathan, including taking him to the Zoo for the first time and introducing him to the swimming pool! 

In the summer, I was privileged to sing at one of our dear friends' wedding and watched the Lord prove Himself faithful once again. On June 12, after several months of watching and praying, I discovered I was pregnant with our second child! We rejoiced then, as we do now, for the little life that will soon arrive this upcoming February! The summer was very busy, with Camps, a business trip for Grant, and a family vacation to the beach in Alabama. As the summer wore on, we felt the Lord leading us to stop our traveling and devote more time to growing our Church and Grant's prison ministry. It was a difficult decision to make - one that only God could orchestrate - but we praise God for His peace and His leadership in our lives, and for what He has been doing since. Grant regularly goes into a nearby prison to mentor some of the inmates there, and both of us go in to sing and preach often. Grant has begun training for his CRA (Certified Religious Associate) license which will enable him to go freely into the prison units and barracks to minister more. He is also filling in pulpits when needed, is actively involved in ministries at our Church, and is also the director of the Celebrate Recovery program that will lead many brothers and sisters into freedom from addictions, and into closer fellowship with Christ.

As for me, I am currently the Children’s Church director at our Church and have been as involved as my pregnancy has allowed me to be in working with the children there. It has been a huge blessing to help mold a future generation and I am enjoying it immensely! I am also involved in our Church's Women on Mission ministry. Missions has always been one of my passions and I am enjoying being able to serve and help others. Along with that, I am hard at work trying to complete my book on purity. I ask for your prayer as I try to finish it soon. With my home, my husband, a toddler, a soon-to-be-born baby, and our Church, it leaves me precious little time to myself, but I am trusting that it will all come together "in His time."

Our Nathan is currently 20 months old and growing like a weed. He is an adventurous ball of energy and enjoys running around and talking. He loves music, story time, Veggie Tales, animals, and playing outdoors. We are praying that he will come to know Jesus at an early age and Grant and I both covet your prayers as we endeavor to train him up and point him to the Lord. 

What’s next for us?

Obviously, our biggest piece of news is our upcoming addition to our family! Sometime around February 14, 2013, we will be welcoming a sweet little girl, whom we have named, Selah Elizabeth Lee, into our arms. It is hard to believe that we will soon have another little one to cuddle and love on, but we cannot wait! Be lifting me up as I prepare to deliver in a few short weeks. Along with a new baby, 2013 will mark Grant's and my third anniversary and Nathan’s 2nd birthday, for which we are so very thankful! Also, Lord willing and Lord providing, we will begin the process of building a home in 2013. Above all, we just want "more" - to be more for Jesus, do more for Jesus, and have more of Jesus.

Praying all of you have a blessed 2013!

Habakkuk 3:19
 God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Santa Claus and Jesus Christ

For some Christian parents, there is difficulty in trying to juggle Santa Claus and the story of Jesus at Christmastime. Do we leave out Santa? Do we add more Jesus? Do we ditch Santa Claus?? *collective gasp!*

photo credit
Simply put: Can Santa Claus and Jesus co-exist?

Growing up, my parents didn't teach me and my sisters about Santa Claus. Sure, we were allowed to watch the classic "Rudolph" each year and sing "Here Comes Santa Claus" but we were taught at an early age that a big jolly man in a red suit does not enter our house each Christmas and leave gifts for us. We didn't put out milk and cookies or carrots for the reindeer. There wasn't the belief that we were seen while we were sleeping and watched while we were awake by a man in the North Pole who has the power to leave us presents or coal, depending on how good we were. Please do not misunderstand me. I'm not throwing stones; only sharing with you how I was raised. And in my raising, I learned some wonderful lessons. Christmas was more about family and celebrating Jesus' birth. There was no "here's the story of let's get ready for Santa!" It was just...all about Jesus. Now, I am not saying that if you raise your children to believe in Santa Claus, that you are doing a wrong thing. I am only sharing with you a conviction of ours and reasons behind this conviction. We are all accountable to God by how we raise our children. This is how we are raising ours.

My little boy is an avid lover of Veggie Tales and in purchasing their video "Saint Nicolas: A Story of Giving" I was very skeptical and curious. To my delight, the Veggies did a pretty decent job of telling the true story of Nicholas, yet making it all about Jesus. So can they co-exist? I suppose they can. But I also think it is very, very, very important to tell our children the truth and to, above all, keep their focus on Christ and the beautiful gospel story. God's Word says that Jesus is the truth (John 14:6) and His truth will make us free (John 8:32). For us, we will tell our children the truth and also use that opportunity to share the gospel with them. For instance...

  • There is no Santa Claus watching our every move. There is, however, a holy God who holds the universe together (Colossians 1:17) and who sees even the smallest sparrow fall (Matthew 10:29).
  • Being "good" all year does not mean we deserve gifts at Christmastime. According to Romans 3:10, there is "none good; no not one." We should teach our children that our good works are not deserving of presents and blessings. Only through His blood and His salvation are we given "every good and perfect gift" (James 1:17), and "all spiritual blessings" (Ephesians 1:3).
  • We do not celebrate Christmas with a bearded man, flying reindeer, and lots of elves. We celebrate Christmas as the moment in time when God looked down and saw us destitute and in need, and became one of us so that we might be saved! And because of that great miracle, we, like the shepherds, should glorify and praise God for His unspeakable gift! That is far more exciting and joyous than North Pole fun.
  • Christmas is not about getting. It is about the joy of giving. We give because God "so loved" that "He gave." Being His children and His people, we should follow the example of our God by loving and giving just as He did. It's important to teach children to give.... and WHY we give. Instead of spending half the year making a list of all the things they want, we should teach them to make a list of ways they can give and be a blessing to others.
My parents received lots of flack for not "doing" Santa for me and my sisters and already my husband and I are beginning to hear little negative comments on our decision to raise our children with the truth. That's not to say we don't enjoy watching "Polar Express" and other Christmas movies that are about jolly old St. Nick. But it's all fun and it is - and always will be - made known that it is only fun and make believe. There is no "magic"...but there IS power and glory which comes straight from heaven through Jesus Christ and the truth of the blessed and wonderful Christmas story.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Making Christmas Memories with your Toddler

With little Nathan at 20 months, it is much more fun this year as we celebrate Christmas. He is curious, anxious and, if I'm reading "toddler" correctly, he senses all the excitement in the air.

If you are a new parent or in need of a few ideas for Christmas traditions, below are 5 ideas to add a little more fun to this wonderful season!

  1. Decorating the Tree. Maybe it came from my mother, but setting up and decorating the Christmas tree is a big deal to me. I always have Christmas music playing and each of us - as a family - put our ornaments on the tree. This year, little Nathan hung his own "Baby's 1st Christmas" ornament from last year. My husband hung ornaments from his childhood and so did I. It's a special tradition we share.
  2. Christmas movie night. I love Christmas movies. Each year, I buy one new holiday film to add to our collection. This year, Nathan and I had a special night where we watched Polar Express with milk and cookies! Each year we, as a family, sit down with The Nativity Story. Maybe you will want to make Grinch punch and watch How the Grinch Stole Christmas or possible make snowflake cookies while viewing White Christmas. Movie nights are always fun and special.
  3. View Christmas lights. This Christmas, we plan to take an evening and go for a drive to view the Christmas lights. Do some research and find a place to go! Some towns have their own little village/community where they host a Christmas light display! Children always love it.
  4. A Christmas Eve breakfast. On my Dad's side of the family, we always celebrate Christmas Eve with a big breakfast. All the aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents come together and we cook a festive and hearty breakfast each and every Christmas Eve. Among all the food, one significant tradition of ours is always fried cheese and salmon. But make it your own! Maybe your breakfast is chocolate chip pancakes in the shapes of Christmas trees. Or apple spice oatmeal. Use your imagination!
  5. Explaining Christmas gifts. Children are very interested in the wrapped packages under the tree. Nathan has thoroughly examined the bows and the ribbons. It's important - even at his young age - to explain WHY we give gifts. Christmas is not about receiving toys and clothes and goodies. It's about GIVING...because God so loved, He gave. Begin a tradition where you sit down with your children and explain gift giving to them. Then help them come up with a special gift to give to others.

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Pregnancy Files | Week 30 | baby #2

Here I am at 30 weeks! My Nathan was born at 39 weeks, so the knowledge of how close I am to little miss Selah's arrival is unreal! Here's what's happening with us!

  • She is about the size of a cucumber, roughly weighing around 3 lbs.
  • Her brain is growing daily AND she can regulate her own body's temperature.
  • She is strong enough to grasp a finger.
As for me...
  • After enduring the grueling three-hour glucose test, the results came back negative. No Gestational Diabetes for this momma!
  • I'm uncomfortable and easily tired. But honestly, that is completely understandable seeing how I have a little person growing in my abdomen and I'm chasing after a toddler every day.
  • Itching. With Nathan, I had SEVERE itching moments. I even remember breaking my skin at one point. Thankfully, I learned a little from then and have been loading up on the lotion!
  • I haven't had heartburn, which I contribute to not eating late at night and drinking Ionized water.
  • Unlike my first pregnancy, I haven't had one single leg cramp. This is awesome news. :)

This weekend, I am working in her room and planning for things to be done after Christmas is over. Please continue praying for me and for little Selah; that we will be healthy, strong, and that the Lord will be glorified every day.


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