Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Voice of God

This past weekend George and I got the itch to get a new car. Not so much a car, but an SUV - anything with more space. Now for those of you reading this and shaking your head saying ' I tried to tell you that when you bought a Jetta!', all I say to you is that you make your decisions based on 1 - prayer and 2 - the information you have at the time. At the time we purchased our small Jetta, we needed a commuter car for George and gas prices were at $4 a gallon. The Jetta was the ONLY vehicle we had a peace about and that is why we got it. So put that wagging finger back in your pocket.

ANYWAY... we decided to look at the Chevy Traverse since we really like it, it's roomy and it is American made. When we got to the dealership, it was closed. We looked at the prices and doubted we could have afforded it anyway. Perhaps we can, but it wasn't in the cards for us on Saturday. Bummed, we left to go finish our Christmas shopping. We had a wonderful day laughing and strolling through the mall together. We didn't even complain about having to change Andrew's very poopy diaper (and pants) in the car twice. My child actually had to ride home in a shirt and his diaper. Redneck?!?!

On the way home George starting talking about the Traverse and how we got 'shut down'. He laughed that God shut the door to that deal really quick. Wagging his finger in the air he said (with a very thick Spanish accent) 'No, No Jorge! Not today Jorge!!". I of course I laughed and asked him if that is how God sounds, to which he responded 'To me he does!' We both laughed as we quickly unloaded the car of child and gifts. His comment, however stayed on my mind.

I thought about what George had said and thought about what God's voice sounds like to me. Perhaps I should say what the Holy Spirits 'voice' sounds like to me. When I am 'chatting' with the Lord about light hearted things and I need a friend, I get a very witty response from him which includes words like 'dude', 'little fella', 'girl' and phrases such as 'Oh my', 'Now you know good and well...', and 'Puh-lease'. You see, when I chat with the Lord - sometimes I laugh. He makes me laugh because he has a sense of humor - he has to, why else would he have given me a sense of humor?

There are times, however, when I do not feel like laughing. Times when I am sad and I guidance and not a friend. These are the times when the Lord's voice is very soothing. Very calm and to the point. He very quickly, in a very loving tone reminds me who he is. He feels me with a sense of security because of what he says and how he says it. I truly find rest in the voice of the Lord.

So, does he speak to everyone the way he speaks to me? Maybe, but I don't think so. I am sure he says the same things, but the way he says them is probably different. As I thought about this, I realized that the voice of the Lord is very similar to the voice of the women in my family, mainly mama - but also all the other women including Grandma. You see, they are the one's who I have always laughed and cried with. They are the ones who get late night phone calls of panic and distress and talk me off the ledge. They are the earthly people who I have always ran to 'to make it all better'. It only makes sense that the voices that love the me the most would be the voice that accompanies God's words to me. Does that make any sense at all?

I know plenty of God fearing people who I am sure talk to the Lord daily. I feel certain God does not say to them 'Whatever giruhl, you are too crazy!!'. I just find it hard to believe - I could be wrong. I find it hard to believe that when the Lord speaks to my non-English speaking Mother-in-Law that he says 'Dude, those quesadilla's look awesome!'. I think he probably speaks very revrent with a soft tone and in Spanish. He speaks all the languages - not just Southern.

Now, please do not think that I am trying to paint God as a sufer dude. I am just saying that when he speaks to me he is funny at times. He is my very best friend which means - I think- he takes on the personality of someone I would actually be friends with on Earth. I think he does that for all of us. When I call my closest friends we can tell with in the first 30 seconds if it is going to a funny call or an 'I need advice' call. God takes way less than 30 seconds!

So, I don't doubt that God sometimes calls George 'Jorge' and speaks in a thick accent. Why not - George does that and so does his family when they are being funny. I am sure when God is teaching and comforting George he drops the accent and speaks in a loving, reassuring tone - whatever that is to George. God is ever amazing to me - continually shows me how Great he is. One day 'Dude' will drop from my vocabulary and I am sure it will then drop from the Lords and will be replaced with something else. How does the Lord speak to you? Do you even know?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. Psalm 28:7
I am not entirely sure how to start this entry off since there are so many things on my mind that I want to get written down. You see, I have been a 'Christian' since my conception and have been saved for many years now, yet I still have that moment of panic that hits just before I see God move in my life (and the life of others). When God get ready to show you just who is in control of the show, he leaves no stone unturned!
A couple of weeks ago I noticed that my paycheck had me listed as single rather than married, so I called HR and got that switched. That little change resulted in almost $270 additional each month. I was very grateful for that as was George. Finally things were starting to look a little better - we had a few credit cards paid off, baby expenses were leveling off, the house in Orlando was in good shape and now we had a little bit of extra income. I felt great - I was already decorating the front rooms of the house in my mind.
I sat at my desk as my coworker shared that he and his family were in some pretty tough financial times. He is the only one that works plus they have 4 children. Now, he is an associate pastor at his church so he was already trusting in the Lord, but you could see that he was in distress. I told him 'John, you continue to give God what is his and he will meet your every need.' I meant that and he knew it to be the truth also. We talked on and then I got an email from Ty. Funny, in the middle of my conversation with John (while I was over joyed with my current financial situation) God chooses to 'work'.
Now, as you know Ty rents my house in Orlando which helps us out a great deal. He pays 3/4 of the mortgage plus I know the house is being taken care of in my absence. Well, Ty has taken a good job opportunity back in Tallahassee and he will be moving out in 2 weeks. I was not taken by surprise with this email since mama had already given me a heads up. However, there is a big difference in preparing for reality and living reality. While I was very happy for Ty, we now have 2 mortgages.
I realized immediately that God was using this as an opportunity to grow George and I in our faith. I knew that things would probably be tough for a few months, but we needed to trust that the Lord would take care of us. I was ready for the task. I called George and we discussed and he went from panic to calm to panic to calm. I have been through a few more (and much longer) financial droughts than George has so I knew I had to live my faith in front of him as to keep him more in the 'calm' than in the 'panic'.
So here is where we are... we have to rent out the house. This means going through a management company. We will have to pay the management company for their services, we won't be able to rent the house for the amount of the mortgage which means if something happens - we have no back up money. My payment goes up in March because I lost homestead when I moved the Texas. Until it rents we have 2 payments, water and utilities. It's Christmas too... while we don't HAVE to buy for each other, we do have others we must buy for (6 year olds don't understand financial woes!). We have vacation coming up at the end of the month also. To top things off, we are on the last box of diapers that were given to us via the diaper derby at George's office. This means that for the first time since Andrew was born, we have to buy diapers. You know, they ain't cheap!!! So now, that 'raise' I got has been snatched away and then some.
Regardless of the circumstances at hand, I know God is in control. I know this because he has worked such miracles in my life in the past. It is good to look back sometimes because it gives you strength to move forward. George and I sat at the table and discussed what we were going to do and I told him 'It is easy to trust God when you can handle it without him, it is a totally different thing when you realize you can't handle it without him.' I watched George put our tithe check in the offering plate on Sunday and I knew what an act of faith that was. I am excited to see how God moves in our lives over the next few months, but I don't want to wait until he does to praise him for it. This time I am praising him in advance for the blessings that will come.
I know that God may choose not allow my house to rent for 6 months or ever. I also know that if he doesn't then he will provide what we need to make the payments. If a prolonged period of financial struggling is what is needed to grow our faith then I am prepared for that. Don't misunderstand me... I DO NOT want a prolonged period of financial struggling, but if that is part of the plan, then I am willing. Having to fully lean on the Lord and watching him bring us through can only make us better parents, better spouses and better servants. That's the whole point, right?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations. Psalms 100:4-5

* March 30, 1978
* November 3,2007
* May 13,2008
* 80’s music
* 10 little fingers & 10 little toes
* A husband that doesn’t think I am fat and tells me I look great
* Nonfat Latte’s with extra whipped cream. =)
* A mother who raised me to make my bed every morning.
* The freedom to leave the house without making my bed in the morning.
* Water Parks with lazy rivers.
* Little Brown weenie dogs.
* A family that loves me and in laws that do as well.
* Knowing His voice.
* Bath time in with a cherub and a duck tub.
* Christian bosses and coworkers.
* Rainy Days.
* Sunshine Rays (sorry about the rhyming).
* A job I love!
* Baby Orajel
* Clothes that fit.
* 5:00 am spin classes.
* Costume Jewelry.
* Daycare workers who love my child.
* Having 5 Super Wal-Mart’s within 15 miles of the house.
* Pastries and Coffee on a Friday night.
* Bobby Bowden.
* Highways that stretch from Florida to Texas.
* MUCH cheaper gas.
* Dark Chocolate.
* A daddy that wants to build a bookshelf for his grandson.
* Mushroom & Garlic – no fat, tons of flavor.
* BOGO at Payless – year round now!
* $5 off coupons for Enfamil.
* Friends who are persevering through the hurt!
* Nail scared hands and an empty tomb.
* Cameras that capture moments I don’t want to miss.
* Collard Greens.
* The storage compartment under Andrew’s stroller.
* Hair Spray
* A past that was tough enough that I am looking forward to the future, but no so tough that I can’t look back and smile.
* Birds that chirp in the spring
* The sunrise that I get to see on my way home from the gym in the mornings.
* Baby Monitors
* Sugar Cereals
* Face Moisturizer
* Drinking Water (as opposed to Spring Water)
* Rocking Chairs on my parents porch.
* My diploma from FSU.
* Conference calls that end early.
* The opportunity to rock my baby to sleep each night.

What are you thankful for?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Making a vow, she pleaded, "LORD of Hosts, if You will take notice of Your servant's affliction, remember and not forget me, and give Your servant a son, I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life. 1 Samuel 1:11

It wasn't very long into my pregnancy that I began to realize how truly paranoid I am. I had read all the stories and talked to many other women who had walked this road before me and so I knew that the paranoia was just part of territory. I, however, felt that I should be above that. I knew God had created this child for a purpose and that he would take care of him according to his will. It was the 'according to his will' part that created a sense of panic in me.

I cannot count the sleepless nights I would lay awake counting kicks. If they were less in number than the night before, I would convince myself that something was wrong. I grew so concerned about the lack of kicks one night that I called mama and cried hysterically. Her response came in a tone that indicated I was in fact insane - she says 'Goodness Libby, the little fella needs to sleep to. You won't even let him take a nap!' It was true - I was constantly thumping my belly to wake him up so I could feel him move. Amazing that he doesn't hate me.

I was on my way home from work one night and cried all the way home. I was in my 25th week, approximatly, and Andrew just wasn't very active. I didn't feel him move all day. I just knew something had happened. I was still feeling so much guilt over the pregnancy, that my fears were being driven by this idea that something would happen as God's way of punishing me(I have since resolved that). Here I was though, weeping in my car because I thought God had allowed something to happen to Andrew.

I was stopped at the red light going into our neighborhood and I dropped my head and prayed for peace that Andrew was ok. I got peace - but it came from an unexpected answer. Many of you have never heard the Lord speak to you. Until you do, this may seem strange to you. The Lord spoke to me immediatly as I prayed. He simply said ' I will never leave you.'. I know this was the Lord for 2 reasons - first, I know his voice and second, if it had been my inner conscience, it would have said 'Andrew is fine, he will live a long and happy life!'. This isn't what was said or promised.

'I will never leave you'. Much more desireable and peaceful to a child of God. It was at that very moment I gave Andrew back to the Lord. Andrew is God's to with what he pleases. I know he pleases great things for Andrew's life - just as he does for yours and mine. I cannot wait to see what he does in Andrew's life - according to his will. It is a joy and a priveledge to watch it unfold.
A couple of weeks ago George and I had the opportunity to publicly give Andrew back to Lord. We participated in the Parent/Child Dedication ceremony at our church. There were probably about 50 couples presenting their children and I took a quick look just to confirm that we had the cutest and best dressed baby. CONFIRMED! We were surrounded by family and friends and for as simple as it was, it was oh so meaningful. Andrew is only on loan to me from the Lord and I pray that I am the mama He is trusting me to be with His child. For as much as I love him, God loves him so much more. It is true, I would die for him if I had to - but Jesus already died for him and he didn't have to.

I still have that fear that one day something may happen to Andrew and God will call him home before I feel the time is right. When this fear starts to creep up on me I am reminded of those words, 'I will never leave you', and my fear fades. Steven Curtis Chapman wrote a song about a year ago, 'Yours', which he has recently released. Many of you know that in May, he lost his 5 year old daughter after she was hit by a car his son was driving. It was after this accident that he added the last verse to the song which goes like this:

I’ve walked the valley of death’s shadow
So deep and dark that I could barely breath
I’ve had to let go of more than I could bear
And questioned everything that I believe
But still even here in this great darkness
A comfort and hope come breaking through
As I can say in life or death
God we belong to you

This is truly the peace that passes all understanding. I think Steven Curtis Chapman has it and I am so glad that I do too.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me... To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified Isaiah 61:1-3

Do you know what this weekend is? This is the first weekend of
November and George and I will celebrate our 1 year wedding
anniversary this weekend. We won't be doing anything major to
celebrate, probably just a nice dinner somewhere... just the
two of us. Of course, that is a rare occasion these days. Not
often do parents with a 5 month old get much time alone.
I have been thinking a lot in the past few weeks about Nov. 3,
2007. What a day that was! Most of you were there. I couldn't
have been happier with my wedding, unless you count the fact
that more reception time would have been nice. I loved the
flowers, the music, the dress, the groom and the cake...boy,
did I love the cake! It was exactly what I wanted, even though
it will probably never be featured in Bride's magazine.
Here we are a year later and we are still pluggin' along. A
lot has changed. The honeymoon ended a lot sooner for us than
for most couples. We were faced with some pretty heavy issues
right off the bat and we found out that there is a reason why
God has an order for things. I would not recommend starting
out your marriage with a precious bundle blooming in your once
trim belly.

In the weeks that followed our wedding we busied ourselves
with getting all my stuff moved in, buying nursery furniture,
buying larger clothes and then even larger clothes. We learned
that while leaving my jewelry on the table is not a big deal
to me, it is maddening to George. Likewise, George can't see
the point in rinsing out his cereal bowl while all I can see
is extra minutes scrubbing that bowl before it can go in the
dish washer. I still haven't figured out why he thinks I
should do laundry on the night he wants it done rather than
the night I have time to do it. I mean, if you still have
clean underwear then what's the rush? By the time May rolled
around, when I did laundry was no longer an issue since I
couldn't get into the laundry basket unless I wanted to risk
not getting out of it.

Seven months into marriage and we were quite proud, we had
done pretty good. Then this... THING... came rising up out of
my belly (literally). This thing which I just knew would come out wearing
a sombrero instead came out with overalls and piece of hay
hanging out of his mouth. This thing changed our comfy little
marriage and left me with what my sister in laws lovingly
referred to as 'pizza dough' where a once cute belly button used to
be. I'd like to say I was as lovely as Jessica Alba post birth
- but, not so much. And George... good Lord, get that boy a nap!

OK, things did level off...well, they ARE leveling off. We are
adjusting. We haven't killed each other...yet (though some days we want to and other days we wish we had). We don't regret
getting married and we certainly don't regret that 'thing' which
has now become our very heartbeat. We have become a family -
warts and all complete with a 'sweet' little brown puppy.

Andrew is, at the moment, perfect. George however, is not
perfect. I'd like to think that I am close, but I think George
would tell you real quick that I am not. I have always heard
that the first year of marriage is the hardest. This made me
very glad to see 11/03/08 coming, then, out of the blue, mama
informs me that it is the first 5 years that are the hardest.

In all seriousness though, I say it is true - The Spirit of
the Lord is upon me and he has given me beauty for ashes. God
took the ashes of my panic attacks and gave me the beauty of a
happy and evolving marriage. God took the ashes of my shame and gave me the
beauty of Andrew. God took the ashes of my sin and gave me the
beauty of Jesus. Take a minute and look at your beauty. Turn
around for a moment, a past full of ashes in exchange for a
future full of beauty.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I know everyone is different, but to me, that first smell of fall in the air sparks an energy that no other season can. I walked out of work a couple of weeks ago and it was cloudy, windy and somewhat chilly. Ahh, I took one deep breath and all I wanted to do was carve a pumpkin! Have you any idea the feeling I am talking about? Well, I still have not carved a pumpkin, but we did take the time this past weekend to go to Dewberry Farm and have pictures taken in the pumpkin patch!

OK, so I feel a little like a fool because I was so determined to take my 5 month old to the Pumpkin Patch for pictures, that I didn't really think it through. The place was really meant for kids that can walk. We paid $22 to get into the place to take these pictures when we could have taken them for free at any of the local Methodist churches. Which leads me to ask, why is it always the Methodist churches that have pumpkin patches? Why don't other denominations have them? Weird. I digress. As you can tell from the above picture, at first Andrew was a little skeptical of the object that was in front of him. I can't blame him - after all, this pumpkin has a lot of warts.
OK, now we are a little happier. While this little pumpkin looks more like an enormous acorn, at least it doesn't have warts. The picture, in my humble opinion, only reiterates the shirt, he is in fact too cute to scare. Since Andrew still cannot really sit up unassisted, I was very grateful for the obese pumpkins that helped me get the pictures. We looked liked the fools that I believe God intended us to look like when he decided we should be parents. I had the camera and George had the video camera. We were both down on the ground just trying to get the best picture and making all kinds of baby noises hoping to get a smile. We didn't...
So, we then decided we should throw Andrew's little head in the farm animal cutout. I can just hear him saying 'How humiliating!'. I think the picture is adorable, but I think one day he will beg to differ. I wonder what he will think of the pictures we will take of him as a giraffe on Halloween. How cute will that be? You may notice niece Kennedy's face in the picture as well. No clue who the horse is.
I thought all the folks back home would appreciate a picture of us on a John Deer. I would also like to point out that the shirt I am wearing is a pre-pregnancy shirt. It's the little things that make my day. If you look real close, you can see the grass still stuck to my leg after I rolled all over the ground to get my pumpkin picture.
So, Monica had picked this pretty little pink flower. She gave it to me and somehow not only convinced me to put it in my hair, but then to have my picture taken with it. Listen, to all my 'big' friends out there... when you reach a certain size, there are things you should not do. Putting a flower in your hair attempting to be 'cute' is one of them. In my defense, as well as Andrew's - the camera does add 30 pounds. Sure, I know they say it is 10 pounds, but after looking at these pictures, we both agree that 30 pounds have been added.

After a long day of corn mazes, duck ponds and warted pumpkins, baby Andrew was very tired. We got home, got him bathed and fed and he was out like a light. I in no way regret paying $22 to have a 5 month olds picture taken in the pumpkin patch. How great is this kid? It occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that Andrew's job was to turn on the sun each morning and put it to bed each night. Of course, we know whose job that really is and I cannot thank Him enough for this blessing named Andrew.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

What's up with that name?

Ok, so I decided to create a blog rather than sending out emails every month or so. This way, if you want to read what I am saying then you can, and if you don't then I am not taking up space in your 'inbox'. This blog will be dedicated to my life as a wife, mother, daughter and employee and how the Lord is using these roles to 'refine' me into his image. You may ask 'Why do you want to do that?". The answer is simple - I feel led to do that. If no one reads it (and I know mama will), then at least I have my own personal online journal.

So, what's up with the name - 'Another Nut that Needs to Dust!'? Well, this is a story that is hystercal to me and mama - but you may have needed to be there for it to be funny to you. I am sorry to 'go there' again, but I have take you back to the beginning of the panic attacks - before we even knew I was having panic attacks.

As you may know, one morning - very early morning - I woke up with what felt like an elephant on my chest. It was so painful. I had no idea why, but I was overwhelmingly sad and could not stop crying. CRY, CRY, CRY! Not fun for me or for anyone in close proximity. As the sun rose and I made myself to work, the feeling kept getting progressivly worse - the crying would not stop and my thoughts were very irrational.

So, what did I do. Those of you who know me very well at all know I called mama. I explained everything to her in very short, raspy breaths. She told me to go into the stairwell at the office and pray. I did... nothing, kept getting worse. Mama, in her infinite wisdom realized this could be BIG. As soon as daddy got home from work, they headed to Orlando.

When they got there, they found George in the kitchen with a blank look on his face and me in the bed - fetal position. Let me assure you, NO ONE was laughing at this point. There are probably no words to explain the pain any of us felt. If you have any history with panic attacks or any kind of mental illness, then no words are needed. Never fear though, Wonder Mom was here. I feel certain she had on her cape.

We gathered around the table that night for dinner - ignoring the elephant in the room. Daddy went and got KFC for us all. Mind you, I had not eaten in 2 days at that point and this would continue for another 2 weeks and 14 pounds. So I watched in disgust as daddy, Ty and George gladly ate that chicken - bones and all, I swear. Ugh... It was then that mama concluded that tomorrow morning we would get up early and she I would clean the house - top to bottom. The men could do the yard. And that is what we did.

You see, cleaning is therapy for mama. When she is 'sad' she cleans and she feels better. So, logically, I was sad and I needed to clean to feel better. She was all over that house like a wild woman. Curtains came down, soap scum was banished, dust bunnies begone. And I cleaned the refridgerator. It was about all I did, but don't down play it. When the men came in, the fridge was the only thing they commented on. =)

Mama was so proud, she looked at me and smiled, I looked at her and cried. Wonder mom wasn't defeated though (even though the evening concluded with a trip to the ER)... nope she just looked at me and said 'Tomorrow we are going to get up early and just you and I are going shopping in Mt. Dora and have a nice breakfast!'. That would make me feel better...right?

So, we got up and headed out the door. We drove to Mt Dora and stopped at a little place for breakfast - which I didn't want any part of. I ordered the pancakes and a tall glass of milk. Mama got her a nice platter as well. I ate 1 bite and was very full... I just cried and cried. I litterally cried so much that the poor waitress came to refill mama's tea and asked 'Is everything ok here...' We left her a good tip. I cried all day and all the way home. I cried for the next year.

That night, mama kicked back in the recliner, defeated and stunned. Wonder Mom was now worried mom. She looked at me and said,
'Well, I've learned something new about people with anxiety.'
'What's that, mom?'.
She says 'Until yesterday I always looked at someone who claimed they were having
anxiety attacks and said 'Ah, just another nut that needs to dust', guess that's doesn't
always work.'

We laughed...

It wasn't the last laugh, it wasn't the last tear either. But we made it. Me, wonder mom and George too. Amazingly, by God's grace we made it. Those were not good times, but they were such sweet, special times that really bring to the surface what true love really is. I have concluded that I am just another nut that needs to dust, but aren't we all?