Babies Babies Babies!!!!!

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Our littlest one is getting bigger (over 11 pounds now!!!) and more beautiful with each passing day!  Oh the joy of getting to cuddle her, hear her coo as she looks up at me, and watch the boys with her… just fills my heart with so much love.

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I could seriously have 100 babies with my husband and still want more with him.

It’s ridiculous 😀

I don’t know what it is, but having his children makes me love him even more deeply and fiercely.

When I was still in the hospital after the birth, one of our friends who came to visit us joked that if we had met in high school, we would have had 10 kids by now.  😛

My husband’s comrades got together and gave us the sweetest, most thoughtful gift for our new baby.  Their card, all signed with their different hilarious messages like, “Congrats on your 12th kid!” and “Get some cable!” among some really sweet messages ❤ will forever be in my heart.

In spite of their funny card, they picked out the most elegant baby gift I could imagine: a Vera Wang silver baby cup with our daughter’s name engraved on it on the front.  Just so special and beautiful.

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Here’s to baby cuddles and chubby giggles!

Stephanie

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Pregnancy Hair Fun!

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Even though I really dislike pregnancy, one of the best things besides getting to have a miracle from God at the end, is the effects of pregnancy on your hair and sometimes even your skin!

All the growth hormones and boost of estrogen make your hair typically really luscious and thick – as well as shiny and soft!

It. Is. Amazing.

And my husband LOVES it and comments on it all the time 😀  Which makes me really happy LOL

Apparently… and I kind of sort of knew this before, there are supplements and vitamins you can take specifically to mimic this effect for a woman’s hair when you’re *not* pregnant.  I know the main ones I try to take are just basic vitamins along with fish oil supplements.

Typically during this postpartum period though, a woman’s hair falls out in chunks if she’s extra stressed, not able to find a balance between the sleep deprivation, or forgetting to take vitamins or supplements to try to keep the sudden and dramatic loss of estrogen at bay.  Even if she IS doing all these things, she may still lose a ton of hair after the baby.

Apparently there are some things you can do, or least some knowledge to help you through this weirdness.  Here are some interesting videos about the topic:

 And from my favorite nurse, Dani ❤ :

And from a working model:

Tragedy & Joy

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I wanted to write some kind of update awhile ago, we’ve just been so busy or I’ve been distracted – or distracting myself.  I don’t even know what to write now really… so much has happened in just one month.

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I think I’ll try to put it into bullet points what we’ve done or has happened in these past 4 weeks.  Sorry it will probably read pretty strange…

  • We had our adorable daughter, everything went well as far as the surgery.
  • The recovery had a hiccup when I started swelling in my right leg, and then the left leg… I called my doctor, and it was thought to be maybe the anesthesia.  After my milk supply came in and was pretty established, I took a couple of diuretic pills (“water pills”) to flush out the swelling fluid – and it worked well.  Apparently the “postpartum swelling” can be a big issue, and after we got home I began to look like I was 6 months pregnant again the swelling had gotten so bad.  This had never happened with our other two, but the diuretics worked fast and I ended up looking normal again.
  • Our little one wanted to breastfeed so often – every hour for 5 nights straight – that I actually ended up getting Mastitis in that very first week!!!!!  LOL  I didn’t even know you could get mastitis that quickly!  It was very painful but a bit hilarious – thank God for antibiotics!
  • In only the 2nd week of her life, 2 of our officers were shot when contacting a felon.  They were shot right when they stepped out of their vehicle.  One was shot in the face and the other in the chin, the former ended up dying and the latter dragged his partner to safety even after having been shot.  It was so traumatic, and both were about my husband’s age.
  • I’m in a wive’s group that supports our husband’s in their career, one I’ve blogged about here.  I’ve become an officer that deals with events – the coordinating and planning, and since all of the other group officials were either on vacation or unable to come, I had the task of coordinating getting donations for desserts, wives to volunteer, and serving the people at the funeral.  A police funeral is typically a devastating ordeal, but with hundreds to sometimes 1,000’s of officers from around the country showing up to pay their respects to the fallen officer.  Coming together like a family is so appreciated.  Everything about the funerals, though, is physically and emotionally draining and tortuous.  From volunteering for hours, to listening to the family pour out their hearts to us, to serving the army of Police Officers who have come who need encouragement, too… it is painful.  The last funeral before this I cried so much I had to actually go and completely redo my makeup before we had to serve the 1,000’s of guests.  We are in a war.  We lose officers almost every week or other week now.
  • Since I had to bring our 2 week old to the funeral to lead the volunteers, I kept having to disappear to breastfeed.  One time when I was tucked away in a tiny section of the ladies’ room where they provided couches to sit while you nurse, one of the officers who came to the funeral sat down next to me – exhausted – and started to talk.  She was part of the Honor Guard – which is the official name for the group of officers who go to the memorial services and funerals around the U.S.  She was a Sergeant, and from our city.  She knew the officer who had died that day 😥 .  For some reason, relaxing in the hidden corner of the restroom on the couch with me, she felt comfortable enough to let me know how tired of all this she was – how she felt she needed a break, that many of them do, from all these relentless funerals.  All these senseless assassination-style deaths.  I tried to encourage her and let her know how much we appreciate the Honor Guard and her love for these officers’ families.  But I could see it, too, when I was serving many of the officers face to face – they are so tired of seeing these decent men and women killed.  The collective Honor Guard are some of the best people, the ones who travel to show support and give encouragement to the families in need, but I’m starting to see in their faces just how hard this is on them emotionally to be constantly going to another funeral every other week or so.
  • Police deaths have spiked to 39% in 2017.  Again, it feels like we are in a war.  Like our husbands are deployed everyday that they go into their shift.  At the same time, it feels like we’re not alone.  The police community as a whole, is a safe place to show our emotions to each other.  At the last funeral when I was crying almost uncontrollably, one of the older Honor Guard officers came up to me and hugged me – it meant so much, but I felt so sorry that I knew I was making him feel pain, too.  I could tell that my tears almost made him cry 😥  and I don’t want to add more pain to these officers.  It was so touching though, that a perfect stranger would come to not only support us, but even hug one of the emotional wives there behind the counter.
  • I haven’t written about this myself before… probably because I’d have to write it in bullet points like this.  The emotions are hard for even me to put into words.
  • We had a second funeral for one of our officers who passed away from cancer.  We were thankful that he didn’t lose his life in the line of duty, but it still felt like an added insult to an injury.  The funeral was only a couple of days after the first.
  • Even in all this tragedy, my husband and I were invited to one of his favorite Police Academy instructor’s retirement party.  It was actually a wonderful time celebrating this man my husband looks up to and learned from.  We were able to get my mom to watch our boys so it was almost like a date night together with our tag along baby girl.  At the end of the night, his wife let me know they had felt almost guilty holding a celebration like this after all the recent tragedies – her husband had wondered if he should have cancelled it.  I told the wife that of course they should have had it!  It was good to celebrate something positive even in the midst of this.  Everyone there was focusing on the hilarious stories he had, looking at his adorable pictures of when he was young and in charge of the streets, and enjoying celebrating with him the end of a great career.  We needed that.  He did, but we all did in a way.

We’ve also just been enjoying time together as a family.  I’ve had my own thoughts of feeling so much joy when looking at our daughter, and then guilt that I’m feeling that way when our city (and officers) are enduring another tragedy.  It was nice having my husband off for a month… he missed his work and the excitement, but he had fun taking the boys on adventures and us all going out as a family for hikes and walks in the parks close by.

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Our Newborn Baby Girl!

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Still in the hospital at 1 day old

Our newborn, heavenly, baby girl has arrived!!!!!!  She is 1 week old today and we are over the moon with how perfect and beautiful she is!  Having babies and growing a family with my husband is just beyond describable how wonderful it is.

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This past week has been hilariously hard though, she breastfeeds every hour during the evening and all through the night – literally!  And our other two have decided we should now have a 3 ring circus of screams and running through the house and general excitement over her arrival.

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So this post will be short and sweet 😀 otherwise it’d probably be unreadable due to typos!

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I did want to say though, since I wrote about it before how we were worried how my uterus was handling pregnancy and if we’d be able to have more children after this baby.  The Dr. said it was still strong – no windows or tearing – praise God!!!!  We were leaving it in God’s hands and preparing to accept (really grieve) that maybe it was His decision to “close the womb,” but we were so happy when the doctor told us this in the operating room!

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My amazing husband giving me “that look” LOL ❤ 

And of course… I cried tears of joy when seeing her – I always seem to cry with my husband (he’s the one holding her since it’s a c-section) right when one of babies come out.  It’s just such a miracle!

She came just before Father’s Day, too, which I thought was so sweet and perfect. ❤

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All throughout the surgery, too, I kept remembering the verses,

“You will keep in perfect peace the mind that is dependent on You, for it is trusting in You.”  Isaiah 26:3

and

“Will I bring a baby to the point of birth and not deliver it?” says the LORD;

“or will I who deliver, close the womb?” says your God.”  Isaiah 66:9

 

And again, just like with our last baby, growing our family just creates so much more love in our marriage, which didn’t seem possible – but I love my husband even more!  Even through the fog of exhaustion and sleeplessness, the love and affection is so strong and increasing.

And just a random video on my husband’s last days of work before the baby came – him singing to our son before he left.  He is such an exceptional father…

Spiritually Preparing for Childbirth

I finally found what I was looking for to help with understanding the spiritual side of pregnancy and giving birth.  I’d been feeling frustrated with the difficulty of this pregnancy, as my last was very easy and I didn’t have pelvic, cervical, or inner c-section scar pain.  It may just be that my uterus is not very good at carrying babies.  And then I felt frustrated that I even felt frustrated when it isn’t really that bad.  I knew deep down that feeling frustrated or dwelling on all these feelings wasn’t going to help anything – in fact, I think it only increased my stress and gave me fear about dying – something I thought wasn’t normal, but it seems like quite a few women feel this way when you talk to them.

So… I went searching online for other Christian moms’ opinions on these issues, even searching out the fear of dying during childbirth because it’s so interesting, and I had started to really feel it.

This is another great reason why women blogging can be such a wonderful blessing to all kinds of people they’d never normally have the chance to touch!

The best blog post I found about this topic was written back n 2009!  8 years later, her writing is STILL helping women lean more on God and grow in their faith!

We have instant access to some of the best wisdom and advice from people we’d never usually meet in a lifetime due to distance or the fact that they’ll most likely never find the time to write books with their thoughts in them.  And so we have blogs.  Some really great, edifying blogs.

I came across a woman’s blog Passionate Homemaking that was so inspiring and encouraging with the solid advice and Scriptures, that I couldn’t believe how completely God answered my prayers for me to find something to get me through this with more grace and mercy, keeping focused on Him!

Her posts are largely tailored for natural child birthing experiences, but they still applied in so many ways to getting through a c-section, your own fears of what could happen to you or the baby, or any painful contractions you may have beforehand like I’ve had.  I wish I had been more aware how much you can lean on God during my long and ultimately failed labor with my first, or when I was a tad scared with our second!

It sounds so obvious for a Christian mom to understand this is how we should be dealing with child birth, looking at it from a spiritual standpoint, but our human emotions and struggles take over and seem to aid us in missing these blessings!

Reading different testimonies around online as well of Christian mothers who prepared spiritually for their children’s births, it is more than obvious that the peace and trust in God’s sovereignty during some of the worst pain or even traumatic outcomes, helped them handle it all significantly better than if they hadn’t chosen to rely on God in those times.  It’s a conscious choice.

Women all over who experience pregnancy and search online to find something to help them manage their births can gain something from these verses!  So if you’ve found yourself here because of that, please follow the links below, and ask God to reveal to you what you need to know and meditate on.

***

Scriptures from Passionate Homemaking:

Philippians 4:6-7 – “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” (NLT)

2 Cor. 12:9 – “My grace is enough; it is all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become!” (NLT)

 

From Lindsay (author of blog)

“Reflect upon the blessings of children!

Psalms 127:3 – “Children are a blessing from the Lord; the fruit of the womb a reward.” Don’t fret over the changes, the upcoming sacrifices, but rather rejoice in the gift and the Giver!

Deut. 28:4 – “Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.”

Reflect upon His beautiful workmanship!

Psalms 139:13-14 “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.”

Giving Birth

Isaiah 26:3 – “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on you: because he trusts in you.” Keep your mind on Jesus and the peace that passes all understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus (Phil 4:7). Focus your mind during your labor…do not let it stray to focus on the pain and process, but rather on Jesus and His sustaining grace. This verse really spoke to me while preparing for my birth. I memorized it and quoted it to myself throughout the most challenging moments of my delivery. It was such a blessing.

1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.”

Faith and Perseverance

Hebrews 11:1 “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen, it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

Proverbs 3:34 “The Lord mocks the mockers but is gracious to the humble.” The Lord blesses those who put their trust in Him, not depending upon their own strength, but humbly acknowledging their Source!

Hebrews 10:35-36 – “So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you! [A baby!] Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised.” (NLT)

I am walking in God’s will when I demonstrate patience! It brings great reward! My little one is coming!

James 1:3-4 “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” (NLT)

This birth is one means of God working to grow me in maturity and endurance. I will be stronger in my faith if I rely completely upon Him to accomplish His good work.

Psalm 40:1 – “I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and He turned to me and heard my cry.”

Psalm 119:165 – “Those who love Your law have great peace and do not stumble.” Store up the truth!

 

This final poem was a blessing to read as I prepared and welcomed my new little one!

Gift from God

I give thanks to You alone
Who sits on the throne
To loan me this precious gift
And to call it my own.

May I always see, Lord
In every waking hour,
Your majesty and grace
In this delicate flower.

Help me, O God,
To guide and preserve,
This wonderful blessing
to love and to serve.

-Doran Richards”

 

Articles:

Mental Preparation for Embracing the Pain and Letting Go of the Fear of Death

Amazing Scriptural Preparation for Child Birth (for natural birth but I got tons out of it as well)

Fear of Labor for Natural Birthing Mothers 

 

Cleaning with Little Ones Around the House

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As a mom of two, it doesn’t surprise me that I often hear moms complain that it’s too difficult to keep a house clean with young children… I understand 😀  especially when you have little ones who delight in pulling all their clothes out of the drawers and playing with the clean laundry!

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But I discovered a post by a Grandmother, author and blogger, Mrs. Sharon White, titled Cleaning House with Baby, and fell in love with the wonderful way she embraces keeping her home, even with little ones to entertain!  I thought you might be encouraged in hearing her words as much as I was!

From Sharon:

It is certainly a challenge to keep house, when there are babies and small children around. But these are the loveliest times of all for the homemaker.

Babies often look on curiously at all the work we do in the home.  They are shocked by the noise from the blender, the vacuum, and the washing machine. 

One day last week, I was making a cake.  I had baby in the carriage.  He watched as I brought down the large mixing bowl (to his level), and used my electric hand-mixer to stir the cake batter. He loved it!

I have put him in the walker while vacuuming the carpet.  It is easy to play fun games with baby, when one is cleaning.  He enjoys seeing all the action going on at Grandmother’s house.

We garden together, hang clothes on the line, wash dishes, sing hymns, sweep floors, and wash the high-chair tray!  Well, I do all those things while baby watches.  (Much like when I am helping Mister with his stuff, He does all the work, while I stand nearby.)  It’s really the being together that is wonderful.

Part of playing with babies and children most certainly happens while we are living our normal, daily life.  We just bring the children along in our activities, making our work and our days delightful.

Blessings
Mrs. White

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Since we want to have more children, it’d be nuts for me to wait until they’re older to figure out how to keep the house cleaned and organized… here are some ideas that help us in our household to enjoy cleaning, but also enjoy playing together:

  • Use their messes they make in their playtime as an opportunity to teach them the proper way to clean up.  If they get all the clothes out, help them learn that it’s nice to put them back in the drawers.
  • Help them to remember to put away toys they have gotten out that they are no longer playing with.
  • One of the best things I’ve learned to do, is to spend about 15-30 minutes every evening just tidying up the entire living room area and game room.  Our oldest boy joins in with me and takes this time before dinner to put back all his toys he’s gotten out.  It’s great to get to relax in a calm, quiet living room after I’ve tucked them both in bed, instead of having to run around putting his toys back myself, or tripping over action figures and blocks.
  • One of my favorite things to do, and something my husband teases me about, is that I love to put on music when I clean, especially with the boys doing their own thing.  Our oldest smiles and dances with me, the baby smiles at us in the most delighted way, and claps his baby hands.  Music is the great mood-changer, and if you don’t necessarily like cleaning and organizing, at least you can do it with a great song in the background!

Blessings for Your New Year!

I can never believe how fast a year can fly by, it always gets to me and makes me appreciate the days even more.  Time goes by too fast!  I want to soak up the joy of being with my children and husband, I really do wish it would just go a little more slowly.

2016 is going to have some interesting adventures, I’m wondering what God will do in our life, what kind of trials we may face or joys that will come?

Sitting here, with our beautiful Christmas tree still up in the dark, peacefully quiet living room, I want to share with you some verses I was reading early this morning, some blessings for your new year 2016!

HE CROWNS THE YEAR WITH GOODNESS:

“How happy is the one You choose and bring near to live in Your courts!  We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, the holiness of Your temple. …

“You crown the year with Your goodness;

Your ways overflow with abundance!”

Psalm 65:4,11

STRENGTH & REFUGE WHEN FACING TRIALS IN 2016:

Lord, I seek refuge in You; never let me be disgraced.

In Your Justice, rescue and deliver me; listen closely to me and save me.

Be a rock of refuge for me, where I can always go.

Give the command to save me, for You are my rock and fortress.

Deliver me, my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and oppressive.

For You are my hope, Lord God, my confidence from my youth.

I have leaned on You from birth; You took me from my mother’s womb.

My praise is always about You.  I have become an ominous sign to many, but You are my strong refuge.

My mouth is full of praise and honor to You all day long. …

For my enemies talk about me, and those who spy on me plot together, “God has abandoned him; chase him and catch him, for there is no one to rescue him.”

God, do not be far from me; my God, hurry to help me.

May my adversaries be disgraced and confounded; may those who seek my harm be covered with disgrace and humiliation. …

My mouth will tell about Your righteousness and Your salvation all day long, though I cannot sum them up. …

God, You have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim Your wonderful works.

Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me.

Then I will proclaim Your power to another generation (hopefully to our grandchildren!), Your strength I will proclaim to all who are to come.

Your righteousness reaches heaven, God, You who have done great things; God, who is like You?

You caused me to experience many troubles and misfortunes, but You will revive me again and again.

You will bring me up again, even from the depths of the earth.

You will increase my honor and comfort me once again.

My lips will shout for Joy when I sing praise to You, because You have redeemed me.  Therefore, my tongue will proclaim Your righteousness all day long, for those who seek my harm will be disgraced and confounded.” Psalm 71

GOD AS YOUR STRONGHOLD FOR 2016:

“I will sing of Your strength and will joyfully proclaim Your faithful love in the morning.

For You have been a stronghold for me, a refuge in my day of trouble.

To You, my strength, I sing praises, because God is my stronghold – my faithful God.” Pslam 59

 

 

Stay Focus: An Unexpected Sermon Series on This Topic

I’ve talked with friends before about how they knew when God was communicating something specific to them, and many times, they would receive the same message in a multitude of little ways, and from different people who would unknowingly speak the very same thing aloud what they’d been feeling God tell them.

At the beginning of September, after finding myself completely derailed emotionally and mentally, and drawn off a path that was beneficial to my husband, family and general purpose in doing God’s will, I felt God plainly show me that He wanted me to “stay focus.”  Here is an excerpt from what I was learning at that time,

With every choice we make, we are saying “yes” to something, and then also “no” to something else.

When I choose to say “Yes” to reading something ugly or passive aggressive, I’m saying “No” to something that is positive or uplifting, something righteous and from God that could have helped me on my path.  When I travel down that road of entertaining things that stem from other people’s unrighteousness, I’m straying off the course that I’m supposed to be on, that God desires me to stay on.

When I was finally convicted of this constant temptation to stray off the path of being focused on the purpose of my life, God’s Will for my life, it came after a long, wonderful evening with my parents when I was driving home on a long stretch of open highway as the sun was setting and dusk was appearing.  The wonder of the peaceful silence, the lack of cars around me, and the speed of the highway suddenly propelled my thoughts as God pricked my conscience that this was what He wanted me to do at this time.  To stay focus.

There were many exits I was passing that could lead me to places other than my purposed destination, but they would only distract me from getting to my goal (home), and finding rest and sleep – renewal and rejuvenation.  These off-roads would delay me in my journey, and pro-long my eventual arrival.  And so it is with distractions and temptations to stray off onto tangents in our spiritual journey, or to go down roads we were never meant to travel.

When I got home, I drew out the picture I saw in my head of a road going straight that was my purpose and God’s Will for my life, and little roads that led off of it in different directions.  I named each of these little roads that led me down unrighteous paths, and each one, as I drew it out and named it, suddenly became so convicting to me how wrong it actually was, and how much of a sinful distraction it was to living a righteous, purposeful, and productive life!  The beauty of it’s clarity was breathtaking, and this picture has been burned into my mind ever since.

About a month after focusing on this idea, I felt God telling me and convicting me to “stay focus,” and to look up verses in His Word that talk about exactly that, meditate and really internalize all that it means, I suddenly heard a sermon series by an awesome black preacher my husband used to listen to in the early mornings when driving to work.  My husband just loved this man, and he looked forward to learning from him every morning, but since it was earlier than I was in the car (back when I was working) I never had the chance to be in the car to hear him when he was preaching.  Now that I hear him at a certain time in the afternoon, this message suddenly pricked my conscience and alligned with exactly what God was telling me called Unrecognizable (you can listen to it here, it’s divided into parts 1-4).  The message from the pastor was so shockingly similar to what God had already been telling me, and came on air the day after I wrote my first post sharing what God had already been showing me for the past month; it was either a strange (very strange) coincidence, or God trying to expand on this lesson in my life.

Either way, some of the notes I got from the sermons were just incredible in aligning with the verses I’d already looked up and started applying to my daily life.  Here are some take aways from the sermon series that I found helpful in staying focused:

-When in a changing Season of Metamorphosis – God is working on changing you from the inside out… the Pastor talks about Joseph, and how through the years he went through different trials, He became unrecognizable to his brothers who had been his enemies and had spent the first 17 years of his life with him.  When you just follow God, and do what He is leading you to do right now, where you are, no matter how dire your circumstances, He will still be with you.

-God is transforming me during this season, and God calls me to become focused during this time, focused on what really matters to Him, and in my life right now, where I am serving in my family and community

-God will bless and transform me so much that I will be unrecognizable to those who sought to destroy me, were against me, falsely testified against me to try to ruin my reputation, or tried to discount any wisdom I have from God.

-God called me before my condition was taken into account.  God doesn’t call us to disciple people who are “pretty good” in the first place, it is God’s calling that is going to bring about His purpose in our life.  God will take us from wherever we are, to where we need to be (we obviously help this process by obeying and staying focused).

-Joseph was called to be a Difference Maker.  The fact that he was spoiled or bratty didn’t matter, God made His mind up about Him long before he was even in existence.  Nothing in earth or hell can prevent God’s purpose in your life.

-The message is basically to not focus on people who are against you, lying about you, opposing you for whatever reason they come up with in their minds. We shouldn’t focus on what  they’re doing or what they did, backstabbing, betrayal, twisting your words, publicly trying to smear my reputation.  These things are painful, yes, but don’t spend so much time thinking on them.

-You don’t want to engage with “little people” – which are actually people who cannot rejoice with you when you’re succeeding beyond what they ever did.  You can’t tell big dreams to little people.  They don’t have the emotional, relational, or spiritual maturity to handle God blessing you more than what He’s blessing them, they can only mourn with you when you mourn, not rejoice with you when you succeed beyond what they’re comfortable with.

-Little people will act supportive of you when you fail, but will not rejoice with you when you are succeeding more than them.  They are people who are FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS.  They can only support you under certain conditions.  All of us must learn not to get close to these kinds of people… they will turn hurtful and will become treacherous for you.

-They cannot bring themselves to be in your life for your own good, they can only be in your life when it serves their own purpose.  We need to be able to let these kinds of people go, not have them in our inner circle of people we trust.  Little people will backstabb or even betray you when it benefits them… you don’t need this in your life, not only will it draw you off your focus, it is unnecessary and painful.

-You’ve never shocked God – the things that happen in your life don’t ever shock Him.  Just because something horrible happens to you, your reputation is tarnished by someone else’s lies about you, it doesn’t mean that God throws up His hands and says, “Well, that’s it!  Can’t use them anymore!”  He is never shocked by what happens to you, especially when it comes by the hand of treacherous fair-weather friends or even family members like what Joseph had.

-Shake off the shock of someone you liked or admired suddenly becoming treacherous to you (betraying you), trying to falsely testify against you or twist your words, being shown to be a deceitful person.  Some people are treacherous or crazy, and that’s normal, you can’t change them or hope that they’ll do the right thing by you.  They are dysfunctional.

-When you try to make sense of what they did – when they seemed like a good person or smart or a good friend, you are not “staying focused.”  When you do this, you take your eye off of what God wants you to be focusing on, so that He can develop you and transform you.

-The pastor relates it constantly to Joseph’s trials and how he never let his circumstances or the way evil people treated him distract him from doing the right thing and from staying focused on being godly.  God blessed his faithfulness and focus, with giving Him favor.

-Get your eyes and your mind off of people and the devil… off of your circumstances that are unjust and don’t belly-ache about what’s going on in your life.

-It’s a time to get focused.

-When you’re going through a season where everything is brand new, you’re realizing things you hadn’t before, part of the process of God taking you to an unfamiliar place is so that He can transform you.

-This pastor had the “urge” and the “nudgings” that this message was a prophetic utterance and will be meant for some specific people who are listening.

-It’s time to get serious about letting God bless you right where you are – even if you feel like what you’re doing has little importance or is little noticed.  Honor God right where you are.  Just be faithful where you are – doing what you are doing in your life – being a mom, a wife, a sister, a daughter, a friend, and a woman giving in the community.

-Focus on doing the best where you are placed.  Even when Joseph was a slave, he obeyed and God had favor on him that even Potiphar was able to spot.

-Serve where you are in a Spirit of Excellence.  Do everything that you are doing like you are doing it for God, because you are!

Avoid pitfalls at all costs.  For me this means to stay on the path God wants me to stay on – not traveling down into areas that distract me from goodness or what I should be doing.  Don’t engage with people who have proven themselves to be treacherous or deceitful.  Don’t even communicate with them.

Satan often uses Christians to speak his lies to or about other Christians (hence Peter when he tried to rebuke Christ, and Jesus called him “Satan”).  You’ve got to quit looking at a Christian giving them the benefit of the doubt, and trusting that they’re saying something right when it’s obvious that they’re wrong.  You have to realize that there is a demon force that uses even Christians.  If they aren’t walking in the spirit, aren’t discerning what they’re doing, can open their mouths and speak what the enemy wants to say to you – to destroy you.

You have to have enough discernment that when you are talking to a Christian, to know if the enemy is using them to accomplish his evil will in your life.  We have to learn to watch who we talk to.  Because these people wanted to kill Joseph, and then see what would come of his dreams… you have to be discerning.

-When you find someone who can only hang with you in private, but can’t go on the record to support you in public, who won’t let you be slandered in public, they have no business in your inner circle.  You have to discern who you have with you.  Do not associate with people who bait you in private only to use your own words against you (twisting it to mean what they want it to mean), in order to ruin your reputation.

You can’t use fair-weather friends, you need friends that will stand with you in public – that will speak out for you when you’re being slandered against.  You need people who will stand with you through thick or thin.

-God requires us to become more discerning about the people who we have in our life.  You have to decide that you are through with folk who say they are “behind” you, they are often so far back behind you that you can’t see them.  They’ll let and even watch the enemy beat you down, torture you, or have a parade before they ever jump in.

-You have to learn to be discerning because you’re in a spiritual battle.  God is making a trophy out of you, that he might declare through you His praises.  And the enemy is trying to mock that.  You are in a season of Metamorphosis.  He has cocooned you – not everyone can come into a cocoon.  A cocoon is where God is doing a work that is so intimate in your life, because He’s transforming things, and when you come out, the Enemy won’t even know who you are.

-Joseph had to become focused because he had to discern that God didn’t want him to focus on other people.  He could have spent years focused on what happened to him with his brothers.  But he wouldn’t have been successful that way – focusing on the wrong thing, would have led him off course of where God wanted him to be traveling.

-We need to quit romanticizing Christians.  Just because someone says they’re saved doesn’t mean that they’re safe, they’re non-toxic, that they don’t slander others.  You have to watch what they say to you, how they treat you as their brother or sister in Christ.  Are they trying to make you better or say horrible things to you that are words from Satan?  Are they acting godly toward you or allowing Satan to use them?  If you want to meet Satan, hang around Christians, he uses them sometimes more often than he uses regular people!

Staying Focused in the Valley

-God is with you, even when you don’t like where you are, and He will protect you while you’re here.  He will protect you and even help you get to where you’re going, even when it looks like you’re traveling backward.

-You can prosper even when people are trying to ruin your reputation.  You can prosper in a trial or personal trouble, God is with you right where you are.  Like Joseph, you can prosper in a place you don’t like to be in.  You can prosper being overlooked and disrespected.  You can prosper while folk are taking credit for things you did.  You can prosper raising your kids through their different seasons of life.  God will give you grace to accomplish these things and prosper.

-Joseph didn’t just prosper when you see him up in the palace, Joseph prospered as a slave.  Because he wanted to be an excellent servant, God had favor on him that was visible to everyone.  The Lord showed Himself through Joseph’s excellence.

-When you have God’s favor on your life, in your life, people won’t be able to stand it.  You will see haters rise up – that’s what they do – they don’t like seeing somebody prosper.  Don’t even try to explain it or explain yourself to them.  Joseph was focused enough where the favor of the Lord came over him.  We need to understand the importance of “focus” because I’m convinced some of us are focused on the wrong things and wrong people.

-We need to be focused on serving God and doing His will, on pleasing God right where we are, taking care of the matters that He wants us to take care of, and leave the results with Him.

-We need to have the single-minded pursuit of that goal, of wanting to please God.

Staying Focus: Guarding Against Despair

-Joseph had to be focused on becoming an excellent servant, because he couldn’t do anything about many of the circumstances he was in, he couldn’t change them – so he allowed God to develop in him a spirit of excellence.

-In order to stay focused, there are many things we have to avoid – there are some people that we just can’t spend any more time with because it takes us away from our focus.  They might be distracting us or tempting us to sin, or being used by Satan, so they become pitfalls for us.  Avoiding them is the right thing to do, but ignoring them or avoiding them actually makes those kinds of people angry, and even more likely to attack using false accusations like Potiphar’s wife did to Joseph.  They will be even more likely to try to ruin our reputation, because we won’t give them the time of day.

-It was harder for Potiphar to realize the evil influence of his wife, than to get rid of the good, godly influence of Joseph.  You have to realize that for some people who are close to evil Christians, it will be harder for them to acknowledge their evil than to shun your good influence in that place.  Where evil rules the day – where evil Christians are allowed to be leaders or in positions of authority, your good influence will not be tolerated, they will ban you because you’re speaking truth about the evil person that they don’t want to get rid of.  They’d rather keep the evil person, than keep you and your good words and good influence.

-Accept all of the above and be ok with it.  That’s also part of staying focused.  Joseph could have been upset for years after having been thrown out of Potiphar’s house even though he did nothing wrong, instead, he excelled as a prisoner.  God’s favor didn’t leave him, just because Potiphar (a good man) wanted to hold on to the evil person more than he wanted to hold on to a godly one.  How do you think Potiphar fared though, after letting go of Joseph?  All he had after that was his evil, adulterous wife.  Let Christians who want to hold on to evil influences, have their evil influences.  They are rejecting what is right, rejecting what is good and pure, and God sees it all, it doesn’t escape His notice that they are calling evil good, and what is good (your influence) evil.

-Joseph had to also guard against despair.  Sometimes we think the end-all – the most important thing in life – is justice.  Finding yourself punished or your reputation destroyed because of something you didn’t do,   Injustice is wrong… however, God can still take you, place you in an unjust situation, still get glory from it, and still get you to where you are going.

-When folks are wrong, you can tell them they’re wrong, this is not about being weak or wimpy Christians.  Where you have the ability, use your power and your ability to bring about justice for you and for others.  But in this world, you’re not always going to get justice – people will do wrong by you, and they will get away with it or at least appear to.  Justice will not always be your reality.

-Instead of Potiphar’s wife getting in trouble for lying about Joseph, Joseph got in trouble.  And he stayed in jail not for weeks, not for months, but for years – and God allowed that.  God can work through injustice, to bring His purpose to pass.

-Make sure you’re guarding against despair – don’t look at all the injustice in your life, the people who did wrong to you, etc.  I’d rather have favor from God than fairness from man.  Joseph stayed focused and didn’t give in to despair when he was wronged, he continued on and the Lord was with him.  He practiced the presence of God.

-You need to trust in God, and every morning wake up and trust that His Will will be done in our life.  No time for despair, there are people to serve and work to be done.  Even though things aren’t the way we wished it was in our life – we’re still alright.  We’re still alive and ok.  We may not have all the opportunities we want, all the money we want, but God hasn’t forsaken me.  I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken by God.

-We can spend all our time about how unfair things are, but that’s getting off focus.  Give it over to God, He knows what they did, He knows what they said, He knows who’s plotted against you – keep giving it over to God.  Despair is something that can keep coming back, you have to keep warding it off.  Despair can envelop you if you let it, but that is a major distraction from your purpose.  Depression, bitterness and anger, loneliness, and fear are all emotions of despair that are going down a horrible road leading you far off from your purpose.

-Joseph didn’t feel like being in jail… for years… but he had to learn to practice the presence of God even in jail.  The Spirit of the Lord will still be with you, and you can praise your way through unjust circumstances.

-How could Joseph get Potiphar’s wife punished for what she did to him?  He couldn’t.  There was no way for him to get justice, he wasn’t even Egyptian, he had no rights at all.  There are some circumstances where you have no control at all over the injustice that will happen to you, evil people will get away with looking like victims or like righteous Christians.  Evil Christians will get away with slandering you to others, lying about what really happened, and there will be no way for you to even remotely defend yourself or have a fair chance.

Joy of Summer – Our Sandy Playground

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We’ve been loving the hot Summer weather these past few weeks… because it means getting out to play in the sand and water!  Sandy feet, relaxing with the baby in a hammock under an umbrella… it really can’t get better than this!!

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I loved this pink bird… pink is my favorite color.

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Come back bird!  LOL He thought I was nuts….

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This bird was a cutie (below) he had an adorable MUSTACHE!  Soooo cute.

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Show that thing off!

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Mr. Peacock.

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You’re gorgeous and you know it….

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It felt like a rain forrest here… like we were exploring in a jungle of some kind!  Exciting adventures!

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This family was adorable, offered to take a picture of them altogether with their phone after I snapped this so the husband could get in.  So sweet.

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