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!”

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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…

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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

Coltrane: 4 months old

Dear Coltrane,

You are 4 months old! This month you gained more confidence in your ability to move. You are a Tummytime champion! In fact, you are so comfortable on your tummy that I have to watch you and make sure you don’t fall asleep that way.

Tummytime is exhausting...
Tummytime is exhausting…

We’ve given you the nickname “Scootah” because of your love to scoot down while sitting in people’s laps or in chairs. You really want to move, but the scooting doesn’t really get you anywhere and almost always ends in a faceplant.

He tried...
He tried…
At least you always try...
At least you always try…

We heard you laugh for the first time! You were taking a bath and really enjoyed splashing around. I think you surprised yourself more than you surprised us. It was too cute.

You went to the library for the first time and loved your books, “El Cocodrilo Al Que No Le Gustaba El Agua” and “Cuckoo”. You also made your radio debut on Daddy’s radio show, Songs that can do no wrong, on the “No Sleep” episode.

Library books after bathtime and before bedtime!
Library books after bathtime and before bedtime!
“DJ Trane on the ones and twos!”

Everything goes in your mouth.You love to play with your rattles and anyone that’s willing to play, like your cousin Morgan.

Playtime!
Playtime!
Tummytime!
Tummytime!
Playing cousins!
Playing cousins!

You still hate your carseat.

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We love you! And hope that you keep growing spiritually, physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

This is 4 months:

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ROAR!
ROAR!

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Creative Survival

“Now here’s a surprise: The master praised the crooked manager! And why? Because he knew how to look after himself. Streetwise people are smarter in this regard than law-abiding citizens. They are on constant alert, looking for angles, surviving by their wits. I want you to be smart in the same way—but for what is right—using every adversity to stimulate you to creative survival, to concentrate your attention on the bare essentials, so you’ll live, really live, and not complacently just get by on good behavior.” Luke 16:8-9

The show Survivor forces contestants out of their comfort zone.  It is interesting to witness people who were once plump and well groomed become rail thin after being subjected to the elements.  The lack of food and everyday conveniences push people to desperation. Those determined to survive get creative.

God wants us to do the same.  Life in America gives us plenty of comforts.  Most of us can drive to get food, we have shelter, and a support system.  We read the Bible and have difficulty relating to stories of persecution and martyrdom.  Therefore, it is tempting to water-down the Gospel to “do good things and you will be ok”.  How does God get any glory in that?

When we do face adversity, it is easier to curse God because we fail to recognize His hand in the little things. Our privilege sometime prevents opportunities for God to show Himself strong.

“And then he prayed, “God, I’m asking for two things before I die; don’t refuse me…Give me enough food to live on, neither too much nor too little.  If I’m too full, I might get independent, saying, ‘God? Who needs him?’ If I’m poor, I might steal and dishonor the name of my God’.” Proverbs 30:8-9

Jesus instructs us to get creative with our survival.  We should stop relying on worldly ideas of security (wealth, education, and employment) and creatively use our gifts to know Him more intimately and bring others to the kingdom.  John the Baptist only had camel skin for clothing and honey and locusts for food while preparing others for the coming of the Messiah (Matt 3:4).

I’m not telling you to quit your job and sell all your belongings (unless you hear God telling you to do so). But, we should anticipate trials (i.e job loss) as opportunities to creatively seek God and use our talents in a manner that doesn’t glorify ourselves.  Just like the corrupt manager in the parable found ways to support himself, we should use our God-given talents to reach others.  None of this life experience is about us.  Our lives, our gifts, and our trials and triumphs should all be used to glorify God.