Don’t just stand there

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My son, Coltrane, is 9 months old and he still hasn’t mastered crawling yet. He manages to scoot back or “wounded soldier” crawl forward. As a new mom, I have to remind myself that every child has a different timeline for achieving  certain developmental milestones. In this case, I thought that maybe he would start walking before he crawls. We’ve been practicing how to stand with his walker. His legs have become really strong and he’s working on his balance. He’s gained quite a bit of confidence and all he wants to do now is stand. I can see the pride on his face. However, when I try to move his feet, he is less likely to budge. He doesn’t really understand that there’s more to standing. He’s perfectly content to just stand there.
How many times have I just stood without any intent to walk in my spiritual life? Sometimes, I block myself from progress by believing I do all that I do in my own strength, instead of giving God all the glory. It’s as if I’m saying, “Wow, I’m a great writer! Look at me!”, without demonstrating my talent and using it for Kingdom purposes. Isaiah 42:8 NLT states,  “I am the Lord ; that is my name! I will not give my glory to anyone else, nor share my praise with carved idols.”
There are other times when I stand without walking because fear paralyzes me. During these phases, I recognize that there is a purpose, but I don’t believe that I can accomplish what the Lord has called me to do. Jesus encouraged his disciples, “Jesus called the Twelve to him, and sent them out in pairs. He gave them authority and power to deal with the evil opposition. He sent them off with these instructions: “Don’t think you need a lot of extra equipment for this. You are the equipment. No special appeals for funds. Keep it simple”
Mark 6:7-9 MSG.
There are still other times, when I don’t move in my faith walk because I’m not diligently seeking Him or studying His Word. How are we to know when to move or how many steps to take without direction? The Word says,” My child, listen to what I say, and treasure my commands. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight, and ask for understanding. Search for them as you would for silver; seek them like hidden treasures. Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord , and you will gain knowledge of God. For the Lord grants wisdom! From his mouth come knowledge and understanding. He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest. He is a shield to those who walk with integrity. He guards the paths of the just and protects those who are faithful to him. Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go
(Proverbs 2:1-9 NLT)”. And also, “Your word is a lamp unto my feet and a light to my path (Psalms 119:105)”.
Coltrane will be ready to walk when he realizes that his legs are meant for more than standing, loses his fear of falling, and realizes that I’ll be there to guide him every step of the way. I have to remember that God is lovingly doing the same thing with me.

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2016:Enjoy

My word for 2016 is…ENJOY.

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Now if one is not familiar with God’s Word, then you might ask, “How can a Christian enjoy life?”
Life brings trials and sacrifices, but these are opportunities to realize that we are not in control of our lives. We have to align ourselves up with the Word and rest fully in Christ and His promises. After you realize that we can rest in God and have confidence in His path for us, we can breathe a little easier and enjoy life.
We can be free from the bondage of worrying and trying to control each next step for fear of something not going according to plan.
Worrying does the exact opposite of what we intend it to do. Instead of preparing us for whatever life may bring us, it cripples and blinds us.  I want to be able to trust God and all that He has planned for me. I don’t want to miss out on any opportunity that He may use me for His Glory or to bring others to Christ. When God works through the impossible, everything is possible. Worry is a result of our small human brain trying to calculate only what we think might happen in a trying situation. Why should we trust ourselves to come up with a solution to a problem when the solution is greater than our puny minds can comprehend? We shouldn’t ! God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. Only He knows what’s best for us. So sit back, read the Word, listen intently for direction and relax! The pressure is off of you to fix the problem. That’s God’s job.
Enjoy life by being content with what you have/where you are in life. Don’t fret about those next steps. Consider the lilies (see Luke 12:27)
A couple of weeks ago I had a dream where I was trying to go up a set of stairs. Everyone else climbed up with ease. I had difficulty because the steps were steep and narrow with wide gaps and there were 4 or 5 steps missing. I was frustrated that I couldn’t walk up the steps and afraid that I might fall through the gaps.
Currently, I think a lot about the future. I love being a stay-at-home mom, but I feel as though I’m sitting on a skill set that God wants me to use (see Parable of the Talents, Matt 25:14-30). In 2016, I will be applying to go back to school to get my MPH. I’ll be 27 next month, and even though I have a 7 month old, I’m already thinking about when I should have the next one (or more if the Lord sees fit). My mortal limitations make it hard for me to see how I’m going to do both of these things without going crazy. Thinking about the future too much takes my eyes away from all the blessings I already have. I have a wonderful, healthy son who brings me so much joy. He has an amazing father, my husband. A health scare early on in our marriage made me realize how impermanent life is. We should be present in every moment, taking in all the senses that cameras and video clips can’t capture (how do you feel?, what does it smell like?, what do you taste?, how does the sweater feel against your skin?). I also want people to know that I appreciate them while they are living. I don’t want to hesitate telling someone how proud of them I am, or that I love them. I have shelter, food, and am healthier than most. I should be content with what I have now, instead of worrying about what I will get next. Whenever “next” is isn’t promised to us.

Be a peacemaker.
The love and enjoyment of life should not be kept to ourselves. We have to share it. Peace is a key component of enjoyment. (see Proverbs 14:30 about peace)
I want to be able to bring peace to someone’s life, so that they can rest in the promises of God and enjoy life too.  If that means praying with them, sharing my testimony, or bringing them to church, I pray that God gives me the right words when talking with them. It may also mean random acts of kindness to a stranger or reconciling a damaged relationship. (see 1 Peter 3:10) Prayer will help reveal who needs peace, and God can equip you with all the tools necessary to make you a peacemaker.

Overall, I just want to look back at the end of 2016 and smile. I want to say, “Look at what God accomplished! Praise Jesus for the ability to enjoy life and rest in Him. Thank you Holy Spirit for growth, wisdom, and peace that surpasses all understanding! Thank you for blessing me and my family above and beyond what we need in order to help others enjoy life. Thank You for keeping us healthy and protecting us from dangers seen and unseen. Thank You for choosing us! Thank You for not allowing us to be the same. Glory be to God!”

Coltrane: 7 months

You did a lot this month lil fella!

You went to your first NBA game at the Barclays Center. We watched the 2015 NBA champs, the Golden State Warriors, play the Brooklyn Nets. Daddy and I were particularly excited 1). because we both went to school with MVP Steph Curry and 2). Daddy LOVES the NBA. It was a special moment for him. You seemed to enjoy it, too. Everyone kept saying how well behaved you were for your age. Later on we did a test to see if you wanted to be a Knicks or Warriors fan. You inch wormed your way to the Warriors shirt, of course.

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You had your first time with a babysitter. Grandma came from NJ to watch you while Daddy and I went to the church Christmas party. I was a bit nervous at first, but it got better.

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Last but not least you had your first Christmas! God blessed you immensely through the giving of loved ones. Now you have plenty toys and clothes to fill your play area and closet to the brim. You love your toy blocks, cars, stuffed animals, walkers, books and other interactive toys.

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As far a milestones go, you can now sit on your own. You can say “ba ba” and “da da”. You love to talk, squeal and make noises. You like to dance and poke your booty out while standing on your feet. We see a tooth coming, and expect it very soon. You are warming up to rolling over, though you don’t do it much. Your inch worm is good practice for crawling, which should happen within the next month or two.

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We love you so very much! Keep growing in Christ.

7 month photo shoot pics

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Coltrane: 6 Months Old

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You are getting so big! You are 6 months old and just celebrated your first holiday, Thanksgiving! You are pretty good at eating solid foods now, and ate a good amount of sweet potatoes in your new high chair. You even tried to spoon-feed yourself!

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You had tons of fun visiting Pop Pop and Gigi. Tía Tee Tee came from Charlotte and we surprised her for her 25th birthday. Even though it was her party, lots of people were anxious to meet you.

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We started preparing for the next big holiday, your first Christmas. We helped Gigi and Pop Pop decorate the tree. You like to look at the lights.

 

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Even though you are 6 months old, you are very long and wear 12-18 month clothes. We are not sure how much you weigh but we will find out when we go for your six month check-up.

We think you have acquired your Dad’s love of music. You’ve learned to make a beat boxing sound, and Bob Marley’s Is This Love helps to put you at ease. We think you might want to play soccer because you like to kick your left foot about.

No teeth yet. Still working on rolling over but you sit with support. You also inch worm to try and move yourself around. Crawling should be coming soon.

 

Once again, we love you so much. I can’t believe your first year is halfway over. Time is flying, but we wouldn’t want to spend it with anyone else.

Andy Mineo’s Great American Rap Album (A Review of Uncomfortable)

Lupus?! A wha dat?!

Uncomfortable is the best word to describe the Christian life. I often joke that when we, American Christians, get to Heaven, we may find ourselves at the back of the line. Possibly disturbing to some but when you consider the plight of brothers and sisters around the world, it feels appropriate. Persecution certainly happens within this culture as well but far more insidious is the damage done to us by excess. I often meditate on Proverbs 30:7-9 (NKJV):

Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die);
Remove falsehood and lies far from me;
Give me neither poverty nor riches–
Feed me with the food allotted to me;
Lest I be full and deny You,
And say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or lest I be poor and steal,
And profane the name of my God.

I wonder if this passage had an effect on Andy Mineo as…

View original post 995 more words

Coltrane: 5 months old

HOLY GROWTH SPURT, BATMAN!

You’ve grown so much in the past month, physically and developmentally. During the first two weeks of the month, you and I didnt get much sleep because you were so busy growing. But it was worth it. You are now 16lbs and over 26 inches long.

Getting so big and tall and strong!
Getting so big and tall and strong!

We love hearing you laugh and sing yourself to sleep. We’re finding out that you love nature, like Mommy. You like to look at the trees in the park or outside our apartment window.

Looking at the trees outside
Looking at the trees outside

We took a big trip to see Gigi and Pop Pop in Maryland. You met your Tío Paul Paul and his girlfriend, Angelica, for the first time. You had tons of fun laughing and playing with everyone.

With Uncle Paul
With Uncle Paul
Angelica and Tío Paul Paul
Angelica and Tío Paul Paul

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Even though you hadn’t seen your grandparents since you were 2 months old, you didn’t miss a beat. Pop Pop is really good at rocking you to sleep and loves to play with you in your new bouncer.

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Gigi is really good at making you smile and laugh.

On the porch with Gigi
On the porch with Gigi

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You had your first solid foods this month. So far you’ve had rice cereal, apples, pears and peas. You really like pears.

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Rice cereal for breakfast!
Rice cereal for breakfast!

You are also sitting in the tripod position, which is the precursor to sitting up straight all by yourself. You are very flexible and try to put your feet in your mouth. You can put a significant amount of weight on your legs. We are still working on rolling over.

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You still love to read and received your first Highlights magazine in the mail.

First Highlights magazine
First Highlights magazine
Great grandparents reading to you
Great grandparents reading to you
Pop Pop reading to you
Pop Pop reading to you
Daddy reading to you
Daddy reading to you

We couldn’t really take that many photo shoot pics because you are so squirmy, and I don’t think you like it very much.

You always end up this way...
You always end up this way…
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Teething, your fingers are ALWAYS in your mouth!

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Kid, you are so awesome! Your dad and I love you so much. You are such a gift, and we treasure every moment with you.

Our little family!
Our little family!
Cold weather Coltrane!
Cold weather Coltrane!

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Four generations
Four generations

Quiet Time

It is 4AM on a Monday.  It is a crisp, cool October morning and I am up. I could be snuggled up beside my son and husband in bed.  I could also take advantage of the silence and get some house cleaning done. Or, I could get a head start on my to-do list for the day ( pay bills, pump breast milk, do my hair, grocery shop, etc.).  But this morning, I’m choosing to spend it with God.

What I should say is that God chose me.  Ever since I was in college, I’ve been waking up some mornings between the hours of 3AM and 5AM. At first, I didn’t know why it was happening.  I was angry because either I had gone out the night before and had an early class, or I had just ended an all-nighter trying to finish a paper, or I was too exhausted from the day-to-day extracurriculars that I would appreciate a solid night of sleep.  Then, I don’t know how it happened, but I started to write. I may have been listening to some worship music to help get me through a paper, when the inspiration to write hit me. The only way I can describe it is that I felt as though if I didn’t get these words on the computer or piece of paper that I was going to explode.  The Lord gave me words of encouragement.  I was hesitant to share it with others, but I soon found out that these words are not just meant for myself.  Other people could be inspired by this as well.  God was using me to encourage others through a gift of writing that I didn’t even believe that I had.

On the mornings when I try to ignore this overwhelming feeling, I cannot go back to sleep and end up more tired than when I began. 

When we are too busy, but God wants to speak with us, God will interrupt our routine. Sometimes we are too enthralled in our own lives, that we forget to make time for Him.  But when He has a purpose for your life, there is no getting around it. Yesterday at church, we learned how God used dreams and visions throughout the Bible to speak to people. God desires intimacy with us. Nothing is more intimate than one-on-one, uninterrupted conversation with the Lord.  Sometimes this is done through dreams and visions, and other times it is done in the wee hours of the morning/during the night.

The Word says,

Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
    you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
    bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
    always in blossom.”

Psalm 1: 2-3 MSG

And also, “And don’t for a minute let this Book of The Revelation be out of mind. Ponder and meditate on it day and night, making sure you practice everything written in it. Then you’ll get where you’re going; then you’ll succeed. Haven’t I commanded you? Strength! Courage! Don’t be timid; don’t get discouraged. God, your God, is with you every step you take.” Joshua 1:8-9 MSG

When I am moved by the Holy Spirit and in the presence of God, it is undeniable.  The weight of His glory is so heavy and the urgency of this task is so great.  I have to write then and there.

Today, I desire a good night’s rest even more than I did in college, especially since becoming a mother to an almost 5 month old. But, I have learned to value this time with God.  I actually look forward to our time of intimacy, and I learn something about myself and about the Lord every time.  After it is all done, I have a sense of peace and I feel spiritually full.  Without this one-on-one time, I feel off, like something is missing. I only post these words as instruction from Him. I have always prayed to be privileged enough that the Lord use me.  I can’t be picky. So, when I’m awakened suddenly and the Lord speaks to me, I pop up and get right to work, no matter how tired I am.

How has the Lord been trying to create intimate time with you lately? How willing are you to be used by Him, whatever hour that He decides to call you?