Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Word of Testimony

Okay, I have been feeling like I should share my testimony on this blog. I don't know why or for whom. Maybe just for my own benefit. I do know that there is one who is accusing the faithful of God day and night, trying every trick he can to wear us out and that we are told in Revelation 12:11 "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." And if the word of my testimony will hurl that accuser down, who am I to shrink from speaking it? So, in it's rawest form, here it goes.

I always thought my testimony was boring. I grew up in a city that routinely makes the top three list of churches per capita, a place where it was not only cool to be a Christian, but uncool not to be. I went to a mid-sized Baptist church every Sunday and every Wednesday from birth, Vacation Bible School every summer, and GAs (Girls in Action--to train girls in missions). I know you're already bored and I haven't even told you that I accepted the Lord at the age of nine at VBS and was baptized at the age of 13, about the same time my family started attending a larger baptist church and I got involved in the youth group. I wore a "promise ring," which is a silver James Avery ring with a cross cutout worn on the wedding finger as a reminder to save yourself for marriage. I went to "See You At The Pole" and decided it wasn't enough to pray once a year at school. I got a group of friends together and we prayed every day in a chemistry teacher's classroom before school. In high school I attended a weekly college/high school worship service/teaching called Grace Bible Study on Thursday nights. It was easy to be a good girl. It was easy to do the right thing. Today I am grateful for this boring growing up.

Last night, after writing the above and saving it as a draft, I just couldn't stop feeling that this is not the testimony I am meant to share. It is true, it is the traditional way to start one, and it is boring. But it is not what sends the enemy packing. As I was falling asleep, I felt like God brought to my mind the image of our family's Christmas stockings. (Bear with me.) Our stockings are my favorite part of the Christmas decorations at my parents' home. They are all lovingly hand-crocheted in various reds, greens and whites. My great-grandmother crocheted the first several and my mom took over additional family members' stockings over the years. On Christmas morning, they are to be found bulging with gifts--a wonderful mixture of the sweet but useless, treasured heirlooms passed down, things that someone found "just for so-and-so," and the very practical. If you were to open my stocking, for example, on Christmas morning you would probably find lots of candy, a few pens and sticky-note pads, a book or two from my Amazon wishlist, something that used to belong to my grandmother that my mom or Aunt Connie is now handing down to me, good-smelling hand lotions, chapstick, razors and toothpaste, a scratch-off lottery ticket, and a pocketknife or small kitchen utensil. Obviously, all of this does not fit into the stocking neatly. The stockings are all bulging with little treats, sitting atop stacks of bigger treats, leaned against chairs or couches or the fireplace.

Like I said, I could not get the image of our Christmas stocking out of my mind last night. I believe that God means it for a picture of the things my family gave me. For the most part, it's been good stuff. I was handed down a Christian heritage and many wonderful traits from the godly family members that came before me. People who had/have hearts for worship and prayer and teaching and service. Some of these things have been gifted to me like priceless heirlooms lovingly wrapped and opened with tears of gratitude. Some things my family has given me have been as useful as razors and kitchen utensils and pocket knives--qualities and words of advice that have made life easier when I've remembered to use them. Other things had the potential, like pens and sticky notes and cash, to be used for either good or not-so-good ends. I could choose what I did with these gifts, making them a blessing or a curse by my own decisions. And others have been temptations, like so many Hershey Kisses, that I've had to walk away from with will power and resolve lest I become rotten-toothed and fattened by indulging in the sins of my forebears.

Isn't this true of everyone? We all receive both good and bad gifts from our families. I'm so thankful that mine was more good than bad. But the bad does have to be done away with in its time, and unfortunately, in a sea of so much good it can hide longer than it ought to. As I share my testimony in these posts, you'll see how I have had to deal with the fears and worries, the gluttony and the control, the gossip and the judgement that have been given (so unknowingly) to me by the family members who came before me. And I hope you'll see how "worth it" I am beginning to feel that it is to not pass these down to Benjamin. I want his testimony to be so much more boring than mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I just thought I'd use this Benjamin nap time (yes, we finally got the hang of a regular, in his crib, nap time!) to update anyone who may still be reading this blog. I find it harder and harder to find time to write now that Benjamin want to "help" me anytime he sees me typing. By the way, if you ever receive any nonsensical text messages, facebook messages, or emails from me you should know that it's Benjamin saying hi.
We have had a wonderful July. We made the long drive to Illinois early in the month to visit Jon's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins there. While there we also got to see his sister Beth and her family (their son Jackson is one week younger than Benjamin!). We rarely get to see them since they live super busy lives in North Carolina. Our Abilene family members also made the trip. It was great to have the whole clan together for a couple of days. It was a fast but wonderful trip. We didn't even mind the long drive that much. In fact, Benjamin took that opportunity to graduate from his rearfacing carseat to frontfacing. He loves facing forward so much! Every few minutes he would wave to us in the front seat, just so happy to be able to see us.
When we were driving through Tulsa on our way home from Illinois, my sister called in the midst of her first labor contraction! The next afternoon, my nephew, Ryder, made his debut into the world! He is a big boy (8lb, 10oz) and Whitney had a rough time delivering him, but everybody is healthy and happy now! He is really a handsome little thing and just as sweet as a chocolate covered strawberry. I am his favorite aunt. In a few weeks, when Whitney goes back to work, Ryder will be spending his days over hear with Benjamin and me. It will be nice to have a little baby around, but pray for Benjamin and I to adjust well to the new schedule and routine.
I have also been getting more involved in my local MOPS group and will be serving on the steering team for this next year. I am already looking forward to it so much. MOPS really saved my life in my first year of motherhood. I was so lonely and scared before I found other Christian moms to encourage me and to encourage in turn. I'm so happy to be able to give back this year.
Jon, Benjamin, and I have made a few other short road trips this month to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I spent a wonderful girls' night in Corinth with Shanna, Shasta, Shanara, Micah, and Jamie then met Jon and Benjamin in Ft. Worth to surprise our good friend Brent on his last day as a first year medical student. We had a great lunch with Brent and his wife Jordan, and Shanna at a mediterranean grill. It was a great time of encouragement. Then, just this past weekend, we made the daytrip to Mesquite for Jon's cousin Lauren's wedding.
He's waking up. I'll have to update more later.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heartbeat Day

Two years ago today we heard Benjamin's heartbeat for the first time! It was our second ultrasound in one week and I was just desperate to hear that quick little pulse. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. I had prayed that he would have a strong early heartbeat, and that God would give him a heart to know Jesus. I'm not going to write a lot about this because I don't have a lot of time to get emotional today.

Tonight, to celebrate, we will have something heart-shaped for dessert. Probably brownies. I think this will be even more fun in years to come when Benjamin can understand why we eat heart-shaped food every year on July 7. I want him to be confident that we loved him from the very first moment and that his life is something to celebrate.