Fall family photos 2017

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I’m the one in my family that is always worried about capturing memories through a lens. I constantly make my family stop to take a photo when we are all together. It can definitely get on their nerves, but hey…we have a lot of great photos, thanks to me. I’d like to fancy myself a photographer, but sadly that is not the case. My dear husband is the one lugging around the camera and taking photos of everything I point out. I guess you could call me the photo director? I just like to pose people and I think I know what looks good. Someday I would like to discipline myself in the art of photography, but in the meantime, I’ll just keep annoying my family, making my husband point the camera, scouting out pretty locations and playing around in Light Room.

Here are our Fall family photos that you will most likely see on all of our Christmas cards. Enjoy!

What we’ve been up to

The past few months have been a whirlwind, to say the least. We moved from SoCal to NorCal and have been trying to get settled in whilst jumping into a new ministry head first. I finally feel like this is place becoming home, even though I still miss Long Beach, my friends, The Way and Disneyland like crazy! So I thought I’d give a little overview of what we’ve been up to.

Josh has been super busy and productive with heading up the Jr. High, High School and college ministries at our new church. He’s done everything from tearing down and building up the HS room with a modern and more efficient design, to completely reformating the way these ministries are formatted. I’m super proud of him for excelling so well in his new position and I’m honestly really impressed. He comes home every day exhausted but excited.

We’ve had fun on the weekends exploring our new surroundings and have been to San Fran, Watsonville, malls, parks, downtown, a Niner’s game, we even went to the Winchester Mystery House…well the courtyard at least. The house tour is outrageously priced!

I’ve had a lot of time with just me and my girl and have really been able to kind of try and figure out where I fit in here and what my new routine is going to be. I feel like ever since we got here it’s been one thing after the other with Selah, between getting Roseola, her molars, a cold and new nap times, it’s been a little tricky adjusting to a new rhythm with her, but we are trying to find a new normal. I’ve been working a lot (Stitch Fix) and going through a new devotional (She Reads Truth) so that usually takes up my free time while Selah naps. When she’s awake, I find myself not really knowing what to do with her, so I’ve been trying a plethora of different things! I’ve noticed that she’s taken up an interest in books, so I’ve taken her to Barnes & Noble and the book section of Target multiple times. I’ve discovered a new passion for hiking with Selah on my back while simultaneously developing a heightened fear of rattlesnakes and mountain lions! I almost stepped on one while on a beautiful rural trail and freaked the heck out! I’ve been jogging to and around the new park that they are building in our neighborhood and now that it’s semi-open, I let Selah play in it with the neighbor kids. I’ve joined a MOPS (mothers of pre-schoolers) group at a different church than where Josh is working and am trying to make friends there as well as at our church. I’m still trying to discover a core group of friends and who I fit in with here, but I’ve been super open and putting myself out there meeting tons of new people. I like to attend a Saturday night service at the church I go to MOPS for, where I get to go by myself, worship without abandon and glean from a pastor who doesn’t know me. It’s nice to go to a service where I’m not necessarily connected and know all the politics and idiosyncrasies of.  I feel like it fills me up and gets my heart right to serve at my church and love the people God has put in my life.

We’ve also had multiple people come visit and stay with us in our guest room! That has been one of the biggest blessings of our move…we get to have people stay with us! Coming from a one bedroom apartment with one parking space, we were never able to have people stay with us. Now that we have an actual house that we are renting, it is SUCH a joy to host our loved ones! If any one out there is thinking they’d like to come to the Bay area for a weekend, come stay with us! We’d LOVE to have you!

Anyways…I just thought I’d give a little life update for all our people out there. 

Gizdich Ranch

One of the cool things about moving to a new city is that you get to explore! Since I’m desperate for it to feel like fall, we took a trip to an apple farm called Gizdich ranch! It was so cute and gave me all the fall feels, complete with its orchards of apples to pick and quaint little pie shop. I will say, that piece of pie was the best I’ve ever had! Look how cute my apple baby is : )

Bloom where you’re planted

Bloom where you are planted. My old small group girls are all too familiar with this phrase. It was the advice I always gave them, my nugget of wisdom, my mantra. One of them (I love you H) even used this as her senior quote in her yearbook and quoted me…bless her soul. I by no means came up with this quote, although it made me feel way too cool seeing my name at the end of a quote in a hard covered book. Rather, I heard it in a sermon given at the Joshua Wilderness Institute, a discipleship college I attended at 19. The speaker was instructing us that wherever God has us is where He wants us. He went on to explain that often times, we as Christ followers are just waiting for God to call us somewhere else or we are looking on to the next thing or the next stage of our lives to finally start doing what God has called us to do, when the truth is…we are right where we are supposed to be. For my high schoolers, that often meant that they were to finish school well, obey their parents and share God’s love to their classmates and friends. When I was in college, that meant that I didn’t have to wait until my degree was earned to start ministry but rather learn how to use my gifts in the local church. For singles, that can mean not waiting until you find “the one” to fall in love but choosing to embark on the adventure of seeking Jesus and falling in love with Him first. I could go on and on. It’s an easy concept to grasp in a flowery phrase that makes it easy to remember. The hard thing is actually doing it.

I think God burned this saying into my brain because He knew that I was going to need to cling to it. As I sit here, typing my thoughts away, I am in a new city, in a new home, at a new church and surrounded by new people. It makes so much sense to “bloom where you’re planted” when you are encircled by friends, family and loved ones. You know who to love, how to love them and there is already a relationship in place. It’s natural. Back in Long Beach I could call up one of my mom friends for a play date and not feel awkward about it. I could confidently point my small group girls in the right direction because I knew their story. I could invite over our friends to eat cheap pizza and just chill because I knew they wouldn’t judge me for my house being in shambles. It felt like I was blooming up a whole freakin’ garden in Long Beach! I was in a great place. I truly felt at peace and at home with all the deep friendships I was beginning to make. When we moved here, to San Jose, my world felt like it had come crashing down, like my garden was being ravaged. I rebelled against it at first, not allowing myself to take root, but God keeps bringing my heart back to this silly but true little saying…bloom where you are planted.

I’m trying.

I kind of feel like Joshua and the Israelites as they made their way to the land flowing with milk and honey. God told them that He had a new home for them and it was far better than anything they could hope for. The Israelites just had to trust Him. At times it was very hard for them to believe this, like when they wandered through the desert for 40 years or when they had to go up against armies double and triple the size of their own. It was no easy feat getting to the promised land and they could not do it in their own power. God was the one leading them. God was the one fighting for them. God was the one who brought them home.

I resonate with this because if blooming where I’m planted was based on my own power, I would have given up before I ever started. God brought Josh and I here for a reason and I know He has plans to prosper us and not to hurt us…but guys, it’s hard. It’s hard putting yourself out there and trying to be a part of a whole new community when you are the outsider. That’s why I HAVE to choose to rely on Jesus’ strength, wisdom and peace to guide me. And just how God conquered all the different kings and vicious armies to get the Israelites to their home, I know He will conquer awkwardness,  disingenuity and self-doubt to help me truly bloom where I am planted.

 

Here’s to you, Selah True

To my darling daughter,

Happy birthday! I cannot believe my baby is now a whole year old! This feels like such a momentous occasion and I want to honor it with gusto! I want to shower you with gifts and love and make you feel exquisite today. I want to throw you a magnificent party filled with everyone who’s life you’ve graced with your intoxicating smile. I want to write you an eloquent poem filled with flowery language and charming truths. I want to bake you the most decadent cake with vibrant colors and new tastes for you to discover. I want to shout from the rooftops how much I love you. I want to throw a lasso around the moon and pull it down for you, I want to give you the moon, Selah! But the reality is, you won’t remember any of that.  So, I figured I’d write down a little bit about what your first year of life has been like to encapsulate it for you through my eyes.

Did you know that you’ve never gone a day without your mother dearest? I’ve been here for you every morning to start your day off with cuddles and milk and I’ve been here every night as you’ve slept just a few feet away from me. You’ve been my biggest and best responsibility each day since you’ve arrived and my sweetest and most complete joy.

Do you remember the first time we met? Me neither. I was too doped up and tied down to function and you were whisked away to the NICU. All I remember thinking when I saw you for that split second was, ‘she looks like my uncle ron’. Your first day was a sad one. I didn’t know where you were, what was wrong with you or why they wouldn’t let us be together. It was a day of tears and mourning. But thank God that His mercies are new every morning because the next day I finally got to hold you in my arms, even though you were mangled with all kinds of different wires and tubes. You were crying when I rolled up to your incubator and I said, “Selah, it’s ok, mama’s here”, and you heard my voice and instantly stopped crying. I’ll never get over the shock I felt when I realized that you knew who I was. It was truly an enchanting moment.

The first 12 weeks you had a bad case of the witching hour. Every single night, without fail, from the hours of 6pm-10pm, you would cry. There was nothing we could do to soothe you at home. We tried EVERYTHING! We rocked you, held you, bounced you, sang to you, we even ran the vacuum right next to you in hopes to get you to calm down. We quickly learned that when we took you out in public places during this time, we were able to distract you or lull you to sleep for a bit. That’s when I started feeling like you would be an extrovert. You’ve always loved being out and about around other people, even as a wee lass. You are so much like your dad in that way.

During the first 6 months of your life you could only fall asleep in my arms. This is something I’ll always remember. You were so precious and I will never get over the blissful feeling and surge of emotion I got every time you would close your sleepy eyes and cuddle into my embrace. It felt like I was your safe haven. I would work around you on my laptop with my free hand or read a book and there were even a few times I was on a video conference call with you tucked away on my lap.  I read a bunch of blogs and baby books that suggested I shouldn’t let you do this…but I couldn’t help it and I will never regret those countless hours with you fast asleep in my arms.

The whole first year of your life, you probably only slept through the night for a total of 6 weeks. There were nights that you slept from 7pm-7am like an angel, but those didn’t last long. I like to think it’s because you just love me so much that you want to wake me up every 3 hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love cuddling and nursing you…but it’s not super thrilling at 12, 3 and 6am. I hope one day you sleep through the night, but until then, I’ll try and savor our late night girl time while it lasts.

That brings me to my next topic…nursing! I always thought nursing was weird when I was growing up, but when I had you, that was my biggest desire! Because you spent the first week of your life in the NICU, you were so used to bottle feeding, by the time you were entrusted to me you refused to nurse. I was more than ready to start nursing with all the milk I had received, but you wouldn’t have it! I was distraught and spent the first night with you (in the hospital) trying to get you to nurse but failing. I beseeched my friends and family to pray that God would help you to nurse and the next day…you did! Praise God! You’ve loved nursing your whole life and I wonder when you will want to stop. I’ve been so blessed to be able to nourish you with my body and I never thought I would feel this way. Breastfeeding has created such a bond between us and I am so glad we’ve made it a whole year! In fact, when it came time to introduce solids into your diet at 6 months, I cried because I was enjoying exclusively breastfeeding so much!

Bath time. You have ALWAYS loved bath time! Did you know that you have had a bath every day of your life ever since your umbilical cord stub fell off? It’s part of your nightly routine. We go to the bath every night, whether it be 7pm or midnight, then I nurse you, place you in your bed, sing your own special version of “You are my Sunshine” and pray with you. At bath time you like to splash and scream and your latest thing is that you like to have me kiss all of your rubber duckies repeatedly. I think this is just the cutest thing, so a kiss is never denied to your dear friends.

You are fearless. I’m constantly in awe of your courage and tenacity. Whether it be going off to the nursery to play with other kiddos, meeting new people or trying new things, you have a daring determination that is uniquely you. You’ve never cried because you were handed off to someone new or being introduced to something unfamiliar. I can only remember one time that you truly cried out of terror, and that was when you were 12 weeks old and your dad sneezed really loud while you were sleeping, but I don’t blame you…his sneezes are thunderous.

You’ve always been a silly girl. One of my favorite things you do is when you come into a room and people aren’t paying attention to you, you fake cough to get their attention. Ever since you were a small thing, you’ve smiled and have tried making us laugh by trying to mimic us. The weird thing is though, you didn’t REALLY start laughing until a few months ago when you were around 8 months. You would smile goofily all the time, but you wouldn’t laugh! Now you do this super cute scream laugh that your dad and I will do ANYTHING to hear!

My sweet girl, this year has been filled with so much joy and delight because of you. You are one of a kind and your dad and I thank God every day for gracing us with you. You are our sunshine and we look forward to all the memories to ensue this next year of your life as a toddler, though I will forever hold a special place in my heart for baby Selah. So here’s to you, Selah True! Happy birthday, love.

Your Ma

 

 

When God says no

You know the expression, “want to know how to make God laugh… make a plan”, well that’s what I did. I planned on God answering my prayer favorably and didn’t even consider the alternative. So when His answer to my prayer was a no, I freaked out. After a lot of tears, confusion, and processing, I’m seeing things a little clearer. (Just enough to write down a few things that I am learning). So here it is.

This past season has been hard. Hard on my marriage, my relationships and most of all…my faith. During the last 7 months, my heart has been in a tug-of-war between doubt and trust, truth and lies and between wanting to do what I want to do and submitting to the Lord. It’s been a struggle trying to seek the Lord when His plan is not aligning with mine. Realizing you are not in control is jolting. The fact of the matter is, I’ve been praying for my heart’s desire for years and God said no. It’s been really hard to come to terms with and I’m honestly still processing it.

I’ve always believed with my whole heart that God says no sometimes, but that it’s because He has something better in mind. I’ve discovered that that is a whole lot easier to say when life is peachy. God has said no to my prayers before, but only in little things, like when I was dating someone I shouldn’t be or when I didn’t get a job I applied for, but I never thought God could say no to something so near and dear to my heart. I’ve always given everything to God because I trust Him, but this one thing…this was mine. I thought that I deserved it and that it was okay if God had everything else in my life, except this

As I continued to pray that God would answer my prayer, He began to point out verses about what it means to follow Him:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Philippians 2:5-8

“Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Luke 17:33

“As they were going along the road, someone said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’  To another, he said, ‘Follow me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Leave the dead to bury their own dead. But as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’ Yet another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but let me first say farewell to those at my home.’  Jesus said to him, ‘No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.'” Luke 9:57-62

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26

 God never promised an easy life. He never promised we would get everything we wanted, in fact, He asks us to give up everything. He says,”Whoever loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.  And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:37-38). This hit me hard. It’s not an easy thing to give up everything…everything…. to follow Jesus, but He is worth it, and He did it for me. So if I have to give up my hopes and dreams because they are not in alignment with what God has for me…so be it. 
I also know that sometimes, God answers prayers in His own timing. Just because we pray and pray and pray and then God says no, doesn’t mean it’s a no forever. Sometimes, God needs other things to happen before He says yes. Sometimes that can take a few days, sometimes that can take decades and sometimes, that answer comes when we enter Heaven.

I’m learning that God takes His sweet time to develop us. He is more interested in heart change than anything else.  This often times takes experience, trial, and pain, which doesn’t come or go quickly. Look at Moses; God had him and his people wandering around the desert for 40 years! When God parted the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through, He didn’t lead them straight into the land flowing with milk and honey, even though they were promised that this is where they would be going.  It took time. It took trust. It took faith. And that was by no means easy. They were so fed up with it at times, they were asking God to go back to Egypt to be slaves again! But what did God do, He provided what they needed, brought them through the desert and delivered them unto the promised land…in His timing.

Although this has been really hard for me, I can’t deny that the Lord is working through this. I believe with all my heart that He is working this all out for good and that He can see something that I am not capable of. I am indeed scared to follow His plan for me instead of my own, but I’m trying to let my faith be bigger than my fear. Because when God says no to us, we have the opportunity to say yes to Him.