Welcoming New Life

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Isn’t he such a handsome fellow? (photos provided by his mommy)

I have a friend who I admire deeply. She is choosing a path of faith and hope in the midst of what most would call utter darkness. She has recently brought into this world the precious life of a little boy; her son. Every mother knows the joys and challenges that a new baby brings, but her circumstances are rare. She has chosen life in a situation when many would have chosen death. I am proud of her and the choices that she has made.

Today, with her permission, I am sharing with you the letter I wrote to her for her baby shower. While this letter is written specifically to her, no matter who we are and no matter what our circumstances, we could all use a little reminder of some Truth:

Dear Friend,

Welcome to motherhood! This has been one of my favorite phases of life. There is something so special about seeing my babies grow and learn under my influence. There are times that I am stretched beyond my wildest dreams, and times that I sit back and think about how blessed I am to be entrusted with these precious lives.

God has designed for you to be this little boy’s mommy. Along the way you will face challenges and triumphs. Here are a few truths and promises that you can cling to as you navigate these new waters:

  • You are courageous. In a world that would lead you to choose a different path, you have chosen the hard thing. God will honor this. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6; NIV)
  • You have chosen to follow God’s commands whole-heartedly, even in overwhelming circumstances. There is no question that the Lord blesses those who seek His face and His counsel. “Praise the LORD. Blessed are those who fear the LORD, who find great delight in his commands.” (Psalm 112:1; NIV)
  • The LORD will be your strength. When the enemy comes to deceive you with lies, when it seems all of your circumstances are against you, know that God is good and He will be your rock.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:28-31; NIV)

  • By the very definition of his name, your son will be resolved to protect the innocent as he carries the name of Christ to the lost. He will not follow in the footsteps of his earthly father, but those of his heavenly Father. “God decided in advance to adopt us in his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.” (Ephesians 1:5; NLT)
  • Our God is the giver of life. He has a specific purpose in mind for your son, and you are called to be his mother. He is calling your family to great things. “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10; NASB)
  • God promises us so much joy. There are over 300 references in the Bible on this topic alone. Trust in Him and you will have joy. Cherish the moment you see your son for the first time, because His Word teaches that the joy in that moment is like the joy we will have when He returns for His people. “It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.” (John 16:21-22; NLT)

If you need anything, have any questions, or just need someone else to talk to, I am here for you.

Love,

Amanda

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Sleep well little one!

Thirty

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Photo credit: Alexa’s Photography

I’ll be thirty this month.

At sixteen I got to drive a car.

At eighteen I got to go off to college and vote.

At twenty-one I was old enough to buy alcohol. What I actually did was tell my waiter that it was my twenty-first birthday and then ordered a virgin strawberry daiquiri. Just because I could. I like to think of myself as a rebel in the oddest sense of the word.

At twenty-five I was a quarter of a century old, and for a math nerd, that was pretty fun.

Then it all blurred together and one day I realized, “I’m turning thirty this year.” Yikes.

My dad is the one who initially reminded me of my milestone birthday. So, when I do get a little depressed at the idea, I simply remind myself, “At least I’m not the parent of a thirty-year-old!” I’m kidding, but not really. Love ya, Daddy ;).

Truth is, I’m not really sure how I feel about thirty. I still think of myself as young, but the twenties are disappearing fast! Everyone says that metabolism slows dramatically the second you hit thirty, and since I’ve still got some baby tummy, that’s not exactly a pleasant thought. And then I think, “I’m almost a decade older than when I graduated college.” Wow.

On the other hand, thirty sounds rather intriguing. Have you ever seen the movie, “13 Going on 30?” It makes thirty sound exciting, fun, and even dream-worthy. I’ve also entered in to a whole new phase of life as a mom and I look forward to seeing how this new decade shapes my girls and my marriage.

Mostly, when I think about turning thirty, I’m evaluating how I’ve lived my life thus far, and how I can grow moving forward. How is my relationship with God? How am I doing when it comes to loving others? Is my life making an impact for the kingdom? Where should I focus my time and energy, and what things should I let go?

I am extremely grateful for so many things in my life. I truly feel blessed beyond imagination when I consider all that I get to call mine. For things like my husband, family, friends, church, home, and the opportunity to stay home. I pray that in everything, my response is always to cling to God and that He will use my life to produce more life.

So, here’s to thirty. May you bring more sleep, or at the very least, may I stop caring about sleep so much.

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the LORD’S own house.They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green.” (Psalm 92:12-14; NLT)

Sweet Tooth

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Helping with cookies

I’ve got a new hobby. I’ve been at it for about a year and a half and it’s probably the worst hobby you can have as a mom wanting to lose the baby weight.

I like to decorate cakes and cookies.

The interest began around the time I made my oldest daughter’s first birthday “cake”. My mom always made fun cakes for our birthdays, and I wanted to continue the tradition!

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Cupcakes in baby food jars!

I actually began said hobby when I signed up for a cake decorating class at my local Michaels. My daughter’s second birthday was nearing and I thought I could use my new tools to make her a pretty cake. Well, we celebrated her birthday before I learned the pretty things, so this is what she got:

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ABC Cake

When I first got my handy little box of decorating tools, I was itching to try them out. I don’t advise this, but it was Valentine’s Day and I wanted to do something fun. I didn’t even know how to put the tips on my icing bags, so the result was messy gobs of icing everywhere!

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Disastrous heart cookies. At least they tasted good!

Those cookies were terribly ugly. I was pretty discouraged, but decided not to give up until I actually took the class.

And, I must mention, this class was a ridiculous thing for me to attempt. I was 9 months pregnant, and it was 4 weeks worth of classes. That’s right. The final class was to take place a week before my due date.

This was so dumb. Please heed my words. Do NOT sign up for a cake decorating class the month before your baby is to be born. It was so much more work than I imagined! In addition to a 2 hour class each week, I spent several hours on my feet preparing icing and goodies for the next class.

Silly as the whole idea was, I managed to make a pretty cake and graduate from my class:

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A cake in honor of the new baby-to-be!
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I was just happy to finish before baby came!

Those results were a bit better than the crazy heart cookies, so after baby was born I was ready to try out my new skills. Our small group was the perfect place to have an excuse to bake.

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Heart cookies take 2.
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Tree of Life cake for our Life small group.

Since then, I’ve made treats for a few other occasions:

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Thanksgiving cookies.
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Snowflakes for Christmas.
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Rosette cake for my girls’ birthdays.
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Sprinkle cake for a friend.

I’m pretty pleased with the progress I’ve made! Hubby and I are getting ready to celebrate our birthdays, so I’d like to make something that could work for both of us. What should I make?? Cookies or cake? What should be the theme?? I would love your input!

The Story of Us

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I love this picture from Alexa’s Photography! This was taken about 2 1/2 years after Eric and I were married.

Approximately eight years ago, I walked down the aisle to marry my husband. Apart from my relationship with Christ, this has been the best decision I have ever made. Here is a little trip down memory lane…

I came to Greensboro as a college freshman, eager to dive into a local church and college ministry. Eventually, I landed at Daystar Church. At the time, it was a very small church with under 100 people, but I was drawn to the warmth and passion for God that I found from the leadership.

One such leader was a young man by the name of Eric. He was the worship leader and it was obvious that he had a close, personal relationship with God. He exuded humility and strength. Plus, he was pretty cute. But he was a Pastor. It seemed weird to have a crush on a Pastor, so I attempted to put it out of my head.

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My Dad predicted the relationship early on. He took this picture during a visit and then sent it to me with the label “someweirdguy.”

Turns out this Pastor thought I was kinda cute too, so his first move to get to know me was to invite me to join the choir that was getting started. Now, for those of you who know me, this is kind of a ridiculous request as I do not sing. I insisted as such, but somehow he managed to convince me to at least attend the interest meeting.

Well, I joined the choir. I later started up a dance team with a friend of mine. I also volunteered to help out when the church was doing renovations. Eric and I worked alongside each other as we both pursued God and fought for His kingdom.

The day he had me hooked was the day he “fixed” my flat tire. Turns out the hole was too big, so he bought me a new tire while trying to pass it off as a repair. I may still have the nail that created the leak.

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The earliest picture I could find of the two of us together. This was taken at a Christmas party a couple months after our initial “talk”.

I kept trying to talk myself out of having a crush on Eric, but it wasn’t going so well. My dad picked up on what was going on in my heart, and even seemed to encourage the idea of a relationship between us. My dad’s opinion has always meant the world to me.

Just when I thought I had overcome my feelings, Eric acknowledged his feelings toward me. At the start of my Junior year, he asked me out.

Or maybe that’s a lie.

What really happened is that he asked me to start talking with him to see if our relationship could potentially lead toward marriage. My heart soared. You guys, everything that he spoke about that day was everything that my heart had desired. I had never dated anyone and had no intentions of doing so unless I knew that person as a friend first. I wasn’t interested in getting into a relationship just to get my heart broken.

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For one of our first official “dates” we went on a double date to a NASCAR race!

I knew God was fulfilling the desires of my heart. On that day, the day our relationship officially “began,” Eric shared his heart:

  • He read 1 Peter 3:4 to me, “You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.” He said he saw this in me.
  • He asked me to read Passion and Purity by Elisabeth Elliot because he admired the way the Elliots had walked out their courtship.
  • He said he wanted to protect our hearts, and as such, wanted to establish guidelines within our relationship. We would hang out in groups and talk on the phone, but we would refrain from being alone or even holding hands for a year.

I think I managed to say something like, “me too.”

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At a wedding just two months before our own engagement.

With encouragement and full support from our family, mentors, and friends, we continued to pursue the relationship. The year mark was shortened to 9 months and about 9 months after that we became engaged. 3 months later we were married. (On Father’s day nonetheless! “Daddy, on Father’s Day, I want you to give me away to a boy.” What a thoughtful daughter I am!)

Eric and I have now been married for 8 years. We have had the great pleasure of being part of a growing church and a healthy community. We have experienced challenging days and rewarding days. We are not the same people we were the day we said, “I do,” but we are better and stronger.

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Wedding Day! Too happy to notice the power lines and rusted metal in the background of most of our pictures.

I am so thankful for this man and the way he has lead our relationship. It gives me great delight to say that I have never once doubted that God designed for us to be together. We make a great team and it is such an honor and joy to be his wife.

I love you, hubby!

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8 years and two little girls later. I love this family of mine! (Have you noticed that I also love Alexa’s Photography?)

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” (Psalm 37:4; NIV)

The Happy Everything Day

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One of the best things ever: The fact that my daughters’ birthdays are only 6 days apart. I am totally taking advantage of a single birthday party until they protest otherwise. And, I won’t exactly be probing them for an opinion.

What’s even better than one of the best things ever? When your youngest daughter is being dedicated a week before her birthday. So, let’s call this, “The Happy Everything Day”.

We started the day by cramming family and a few friends into our house to eat Salsaritas and a little bit of birthday cake. I’m a simpleton, so I didn’t really plan anything, but just wanted everyone to enjoy some time together and have an opportunity to talk about how much we love our girls.

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By the way, Salsaritas was my husband’s idea, and boy do I love him for that. Having someone else be in charge of the party food really freed me up to focus on cleaning, cake, and decorations!

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That evening, we had a special ceremony at Daystar Church just for immediate family. This was our opportunity to focus on dedication details for our youngest.

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I love the dedication process at Daystar. When we dedicate our children, it is simply a way to say that we are choosing to raise them in a way that brings them up in the church and in the teachings of the Bible. We want to give them every opportunity to know God personally and be able to make an informed decision when they are old enough to choose to surrender their life to Him.

Parents are asked to:

-Listen to a series of parenting messages
-Choose a life verse for their child
-Write a letter to their child
-Identify their core family values

We shared all of this with our immediate family at the dedication ceremony. Then, Sunday morning, our church family acknowledged and prayed over all the babies being dedicated.

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I really can’t think of a better way to spend a weekend.

“Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom.” (James 3:13; NIV) – The life verse we chose for our daughter, whose name means, “one who is wise.”