Bedtime Magic

Normally, Anthony is home at night to put the kids to bed, but last night his schedule changed and the bedtime routine was all mine. I posted on Facebook recently that my two favorite times of day are the morning walks to the girls’ school and bedtime. Both are times when Anthony and I are able to make a big impact on the girls in a small amount of time as both girls are eagerly receptive to what we have to say. (I’ll write a separate post about the morning walks soon!)

Anyway, back to bedtime. Last night as I was putting the kids to bed, I noticed a small toy train car under Theresa’s pillow. In the train car were two coins – a quarter and a penny. I asked her what that was all about and she told me that the coins were for the Tooth Fairy to give to other kids and the train car is a bed for the Tooth Fairy. She went on to tell me that her bedroom was open just a little bit so that the Tooth Fairy could get into her room. My Mama heart was swollen with love over this sweet gesture. I plan on writing this story down and putting the coins and the toy train car in a little box and putting it away until she’s older, then I’ll give it to her to open and rediscover the magic of her childhood and our special bedtime moments. This was just too cute and sweet not to share. I wonder what bedtime magic we’ll encounter tonight?

An Open Letter to My Unborn Son {Jackson Henry Aaron}

15 weeks

Jackson Henry Aaron due May 27, 2015

Dear Jackson,

For you son, we have prayed fervently. God has blessed us with your conception. I’m looking forward to the day when I can hold you in my arms and kiss your head as I praise God for bringing you into my life. Your father will do the same thing, as will your sisters, grandparents and all who meet you. You are a blessing son. I pray that you never forget how important, loved and blessed you are. May God bless you and keep you safe all the days of your life.

Your sisters, Theresa and Chelsea are so excited to meet you. They’ve been singing songs about you since the day we told them we’re expecting you (September 21st, 2014). They don’t really understand that May 27th is a ways off, but they’re eagerly awaiting your arrival. They’ve been praying for you, too.

There has never been a moment when we haven’t wanted you, or wondered if you should be a part of our family. You were always wanted. You have always been loved.

Before you were conceived, several of your brothers and sisters were born into Heaven. You and your sisters currently have more siblings born into Heaven than you do here on earth to embrace. I often wonder if you kids played with them before coming here to earth. That is one of life’s great mysteries. Someday, when I meet God in Heaven, I’d like to ask Him. I know your brothers and sisters were beautiful because they were a gift from God – a blessing. I know I will meet them someday and embrace them. I thank God for their lives, short as they were. I thank God for your life, and for your sister’s lives as well.

Little one, you are strong! I have felt your kicks and barrel rolls since week twelve of pregnancy. At first, they felt like tiny flutters and now, they tend to feel more like a mighty warrior, looking for the exit. Sometimes I wonder if you haven’t mistaken my bladder for a bouncy house. I have a feeling you’re really going to enjoy those someday. 😉

I wonder what you’re going to look like and what your interests will be. Your dad and I keep going back and forth about whether you’ll be a football player, a soccer player or a baseball player. I wonder if you’ll be a mighty preacher, a lawyer who stands up for civil rights, or something else. We have big dreams for you, but we also know you’re going to have to make up your own mind about a career, based on your relationship with Christ. We trust Him to direct your steps and ours as well as we raise you in the Church and in relation with Him.

Jackson, you’ll never be able to meet your aunt Melissa, great-grandpa Tom, or great grandmothers Verla and Mary Jane (among many, many other deceased family members) but I want you to know that they’ve already influenced your future in so many way, just as we will, who are still here among your earthly relatives. You see, you’re part of a beautiful legacy of God’s people. We’re a little broken, a little silly, and a lot hopeful for full restoration among God’s creation. We’re all part of the foundation for yours and your sister’s future. Our stories, woven together create a beautiful tapestry that can help lead back to God if you allow it. There are stories of triumph, wisdom, love, death, sadness, sin, and foolishness. There are stories of victory and joy. There are stories that will help you understand the importance of hard work, loyalty and friendship to your fellow-man. Some stories will inspire, some will make you cringe, but all are part of the beautiful tapestry. All are important for you know.

More than anything dear Jackson, I just want you to trust God and love Him with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul and love your neighbor as you love yourself. That is my greatest prayer for you, my son. I also want you to know that there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of God or from the love of your father and I. You are our son and you are first and foremost, God’s beautiful, beloved creation. We’ll see you soon, Son.

With love,

Mommy

The Root of Sin {My A-ha! Moment}

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about coming into a closer relationship with Christ. For years I’ve desired a closer relationship with Him, but haven’t really been willing to put in the work. You see, I really, really enjoy living in comfort. Pain isn’t all that enjoyable for me (who is it enjoyable for, really?) and I’ve worked hard to avoid it at all costs. This has included isolating myself from outsiders, hiding away in a closed room when I’ve sinned, refraining from prayer (what if God actually knew what I was thinking?) and running away from Christians whom I perceive as better than myself. (Afterall, I don’t need more reasons to feel bad about myself. I already know I’m a sinner!)

One of the biggest a-ha(!) moments I’ve had lately is that I sin because I don’t fully trust God. I want to do a lot of things on my own in order to earn my own salvation and please God. In his award-winning book Jesus Is, Judah Smith tackles this very subject. After relaying the story of the prodigal son, Smith reminds us that we’re often like children who want to earn our salvation, but we are never able to. Smith likens this attitude to a child who walks up to his father and says that he suddenly doesn’t deserve to be his son anymore. How asinine! The son has never been able to earn his place in the family. He did not choose his position in the family. The father did. Can you see the correlation between us trying to earn salvation and God having already chosen it for us? There is nothing we can do to earn it. God has already provided it for us. Why shouldn’t we trust Him and show our gratefulness to Him through obedience and trust? God has done nothing to harm us.

The Apostle Paul reminds us in the book of Romans, chapter 14, verse 23 that “Whatever is not from faith is sin.” (John Piper has an excellent sermon recorded on the website Desiring God on this very subject. I suggest you read it as soon as you’re able. It’s very compelling.) Paul is correct. When we’re not acting out of faith, we’re going to sin. When we trust ourselves to make “good” and “moral” decisions, we’re often caught in the throes of sin. Even the best of us make some pretty poor decisions sometimes. This grieves God, yet He’s not surprised by it.

Beth Moore has written a fabulous, life changing book entitled When Godly People Do Ungodly Things. In it, Moore discusses the spiritual battle behind our sin. I’ll admit I’m not yet finished with the book, as I’m reading it slowly and intentionally. I’m often so moved by her words that I find myself setting the book down and picking up my Bible to pair the passage with corresponding scripture. This has led to a deeper relationship with Christ and understanding of my own human nature. I’ve also come to understand the spiritual war behind sin and just how deceitful Satan is. God is so much more powerful, thankfully.

As I come to understand how Satan knocks us down and brings the seduction of sin to us, I find myself becoming more vigilant, more repentant, more eager to enter into deeper relationship with Christ. I want to trust Him more because I see, finally, how much more He has done for me than I could ever do for Him. I see the folly in trying to please a God that has given me everything I could ever and will ever need. He has already defeated Satan. He has already promised everlasting life. He has already promised victory over sin. I simply need to obey.

There is so little that I feel I can say on this subject because Christ has said and done it all. He came to earth as a little child to live among us and minister to us. He sacrificed His life for us. He conquered death for us. He rose to Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I did none of these things. What more could I possibly say to persuade you or even myself to repent from sin and trust Christ with your life and your witness? He has done it. He has spoken. He was walked the walk to match the talk. I’m just working on it. Still.

We’re Expecting A…

JHAT ultrasound

We are expecting a boy! Jackson Henry Aaron is due around May 27, 2015.

We are expecting our very first little boy! Jackson Henry Aaron is due around May 27, 2015. When we saw the little penis on the ultrasound screen, we all celebrated with a “whoop! whoop!” and Anthony had the largest smile on his face. He’s been telling everyone who will listen that we’re having a boy. How fun!

My mom, our girls and Anthony were all able to be in the room when we found out. It was such a holy, blessed moment to welcome some of the first images of our little Jackson together. For this child we have prayed, and this child we will all embrace and love, with God’s help.

I’m so blessed to share this with all of you. My heart is full. May God bless each of you as He has blessed me.

In Christ’s love,

Mandy ❤