Happy Nine Months, John Samuel

IMG_9639I was sitting on a comfy chair outside Starbucks on Monday evening for a meeting Jeremiah and I had. John was with me sitting on my lap. And there was a young man in his 30s sitting across from us plugged in to his ipod. He kept staring down. I kept looking at him wondering how he could keep from looking at the adorable baby looking at him. I kept waiting for him to look up.

“Oh no!” I yelled. John had spit up. And it went on him and then all over my jeans (this is a regular occurance). The guy was still looking down but he was chuckling under his breath. He had to have seen it.

A few minutes passed and then all the sudden, the guy decides to look up. He smiles. And starts waving hello to John. John is smiling and cooing at him. Then the man says goodbye and walks away.

Well I can’t believe the baby we brought home from Baylor Hospital 9 months ago is now interacting with people at Starbucks, crawling at full speed, making “ma-ma” and “da-da” sounds, opening up drawers, and cutting two bottom teeth.

It’s so hard to believe how fast time goes by when you have a baby. As a mom now, I can’t imagine life without John. I love holding him, playing with him, laughing with him, singing to him, reading to him, and kissing his cheeks all over. Every day I just want to eat him up.

Even in the hard times of motherhood like tantrums, fussiness, sleepless nights, difficulties eating out, not getting my to-do list done… It’s all worth it. Because nothing compares to giving of yourself to your child.

And I am so thankful God has given John to us as his gift to steward well and to love well.

Happy Nine Months John. Your Mommy and Daddy love you and you are loved by God, with an Everlasting Love.

Give me Prudence

1199870_old_style_doryJeremiah and I are facing some pretty important decisions that could impact us financially, relationally, spiritually, and our overall sanity. We were encouraged this morning to hear a leadership podcast from Andy Stanley on decisions and being men and women who are prudent.

We were reflecting on the last three years of marriage and the choices we’ve made that have gotten us where we are today. Some good and some bad. Now, we’ve reached a point where we see potential dangers.  These “dangers” might not necessarily be what you’d think as serious but in the long run, they could very well be. They have to do with allowing margin into our life, making wise financial decisions, putting family time as priority, and choosing to deal with some of our hurts, habits, and hangups that could eventually snowball in the future.

Andy makes the point that many people say, “Oh yeah I need to do that or I should do that.” But when it comes to action, stepping out of the boat never happens. So 10 years later, they can’t believe how they got to where they are. This could involve not getting into God’s word, an unhealthy relationship, a negative habit/pattern, an affair, addiction, our health and well being, entertaining sinful thoughts. The list goes on.

Well, back to this word PRUDENCE. Proverbs, the book in the Bible drenched with wisdom and brutal honesty, says: A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge, but the simple keep going and suffer for it (Prov. 22:3). Prudence is exercising sound judgment in practical affairs. It’s the ability to have wisdom looking into the future so you can make a good choice for today. It can also involve caution and not taking too huge of a risk. I love the word refuge– it’s an umbrella of protection. Someone, however, who is “simple” and makes rash decisions without counting the cost, could end up in a bed of suffering without even realizing it. And the consequences could be overwhelming. That’s why God has given us prudence to protect us and because he loves us.

I really want to become a woman who’s prudent. Sometimes it’s so difficult when I’m in the midst of a situation to see the future implications.  I often wait for a sign or prodding from God, which could definitely happen, but more often that not God gives me principles to help me make a wise decision. And it’s often that I forget that wisdom is in my pocket, waiting for me to dig her out.

Well, hopefully by the end of this week we’ll be able to say that we counted the cost and will have made a choice we won’t regret!

Marriage Interview w/ Dave Ramsey

Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

Brian & Phil with Dave Ramsey

This morning, I walked into my office and to my surprise the book The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey was on my desk. I giggled under my breath because my boss Brian and our VP of Video Production Phil were just in Nashville last week to interview Dave Ramsey himself.

I opened the flap and there it was. Dave’s signature in black ink that said To: Samantha. Romans 12:2: “Transforms!”

For a Monday morning just barely awake, this was the best gift ever. Dave had given Brian and Phil some books to bring back. Brian knew how much I loved Dave and the impact he’s had on me and Jeremiah with finances. Through Financial Peace University, Dave’s helped bring us into the light in understanding money and making wise decisions. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ve seen parts of our journey in beating debt. (also more posts under the Finance category).

Dave’s interview will be featured in a DVD series we’re creating at Bluefish called Marriage: Built to Last. Dave’s story along with Kurt Warner and Josh Hamilton are the high profile interviews a part of the series. Chip Ingram is going to do the biblical teaching in the series and we’ve shot around 20 real-life marriage stories. Maybe I’m biased, but I think this series is going to be one of the best marriage resources out there and I think you should get it whether you’re married or not!

I can’t wait to see the rough cut of Dave’s interview and to dive into this book.

Finances, Debt, & Freedom

piggy20bank1It’s been far too long since I’ve posted on finances. Can you tell the very word makes me nervous? Maybe it does for you too especially in our economy’s present condition. Well the good thing is that for us, right now, things are going really well.

Jeremiah and I are down to $1,000 left on his school loan and around $10,000 towards our car. A year and a half ago, we were about 30-40K in debt. Now, we’re $11,000! Jeremiah has mentioned how simple it would be to pay the whole car off in a matter of months but with the season of life we’re in (with him in school, internship, ministry, etc.), it’s best to wait and chisel away at the debt as we can.

We would not be where we are without the help of Dave Ramsey and my Mom spurring us to take his 12 week class- Financial Peace University. Finances is just one of those things, like sex, that not too many people discuss and many families don’t talk about growing up. So the result: ignorance. And it’s bliss. I’ve been there.

I’ll never forget a few months ago when our community group at church sat down and we went through each couple’s budget- every detail from car maintenance to cosmetic allowances. I hadn’t done that with anyone, ever in my life. But something about it was so freeing. There was accountability there and we knew we had each other’s best interest in mind. Our goal was to steward whatever resources God had given us the best we knew how.

Even now, I admit the struggle to constantly be aware of what I’m spending. What I’m saving, etc. It’s not easy or always black and white to know what God would do in this or that situation. But I do know for sure, that plummeting away at this debt is bringing him glory. It’s getting us farther away from bondage and closer to freedom.

We can’t wait for the day to call Dave Ramsey’s radio show to say, “WE’RE DEBT FREE!”

A Father- the Family Shepherd

1123144_walk_on_pierI’ve heard it said that a father is the family shepherd of the home. I just love that title. By God’s divine order, the father is head of the house. His role is to tenderly lead and guide his family like a shepherd would for his sheep.

The great truth however, is that a family shepherd isn’t perfect. He’s an imperfect man who follows a perfect God. He isn’t afraid to confess his sins or when he’s screwed up because his ultimate goal and desire is to love and fear God. His ambition is to genuinely live out his faith in front of his wife and children.

When I first got married, my husband asked me one day, “How’s your heart?” Those words really caught me off guard—I’d never been asked that before or at least asked in that way. But knowing that my husband cared about my heart meant the world to me. Three years later, he’s mentioned his desire to make sure our newborn son John, will know in the future that he can bring his whole heart before his father. And that John will have that security knowing it will be protected.

Proverbs 20:5 says, The purpose of a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out (ESV).

It’s the business of a father to draw out from his wife and children the deeper matters of the heart. While this takes time and some humility, his role is to draw this out so there will be healing, love, respect and harmony among his family.

If you’re a Daddy on this Father’s Day, remember that you are the family shepherd and what an awesome role that is!

Thanks for all you do and Happy Father’s Day!

My “Straight A” Husband

dts-754138So today calls for me to brag on my husband a bit.

A little over two years ago, we moved to Dallas for Jeremiah to attend Dallas Theological Seminary to further his study in God’s word and to better prepare him for full-time ministry. This past semester, I worked part-time at Bluefish (still do) and put him through school so he could focus on his studies, internship at our church Watermark, and our apartment ministry without wanting to pull his teeth out.

I’m really proud to say that Jeremiah just got his grades back and he got 2 A+ and 2 A’s! So, straight A’s! All semester, he worked so hard in his reading, studying for tests, and writing papers while simultaneously propping up a bottle for John or studying with him on his lap.  DTS isn’t an easy school and it’s one of the best seminaries in the world. Some of our favorites have come out of there like Andy Stanley, Tommy Nelson, David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, and Dennis Rainey.

Jeremiah wasn’t concerned on getting the best grades necessarily but on learning the content. We’re still unsure of what God has for us ministry-wise in the future, but for now we’re trying to live in the present. We don’t really know what the upcoming semesters will look like work-wise and time wise, but we’re thankful for God getting us through this far.

[Photo: Campus of DTS]

Finding Love in my Son

IMG_9289Last night, for the first time, John Samuel fell asleep on my chest. Typically, I nurse him before his bedtime and he falls asleep that way. But last night was so special. I rocked him while he was still awake, sucking on his green soothie. His big brown eyes just stared into mine. It was a moment for just the two of us- Mommy and son. He was calm and so content. Then eventually, his eyes just closed.

My eyes welled up with tears because of the joy that lie in my arms. And to think that God loves us the way a mother and father loves their own child. The love is so deep and profound that it’s difficult to handle.

God is our Abba father who tenderly guides and protects us in his arms. His love is so wide and so rich. I am just now starting to get a glimpse of that love through my son. I truly can’t imagine life without him and I’m so thankful for the gift of motherhood and how it reminds me so much of Christ’s love.

Musings on Being a New Mama

3113_618605228558_55713931_36595474_2109231_nMy first Mother’s Day was really special. My pastor Todd spoke on the role of women in the church (God’s created order for man to be above women- not in equality but in our roles) and how that applies to being a Mama on Mother’s Day. This couldn’t have been a more timely message as God has been teaching me a ton on this very topic and I wrote an article about it a few weeks ago for Ungrind.

The message focused around 1 Timothy 2: 11-15: A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

I had never heard these verses explained the way Todd did. He said how this verse isn’t saying we shouldn’t “speak”- rather we should let men lead. This is the created order. It doesn’t mean we can’t lead other women or teach other women, but when it comes to teaching or being over men, the way God designed it is for men to have the authority- the assignment. To have it any other way is to jack with God’s word.

I am definitely okay with this. I would much rather let all the responsibilities be on a man’s shoulders and not my own. I’m much more comfortable following the way God has set it up. When it comes to marriage… God’s created order is for wives to submit to their husbands (Eph 5). This isn’t an oppressive, duty-filled submission but rather a natural response from the love our husbands display. But, it’s difficult to do and it has been since the fall. Because our husbands fail at times and we do too.

BUT, when we follow God’s created order, it’s beautiful. There is peace. We allow men to be men and the ship is sailing in the right direction.

This speaks volumes to me in being a new Mother. I never understood the verse that says, “But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” In the role that God has given me to help shape and invest in the lives of my children, if I continue living as a godly wife and mother in faith, love, holiness, and propriety, there is an opportunity for me to be preserved today. So basically I have the opportunity to make or break my role as a woman, wife, and mother by choosing to walk in the Spirit or not.

I’ve been encouraged to allow God to use me to help shape and mold my son John into the man God wants him to be and to most of all, allow my husband to lead and thrive in the role God has established for him. This encourages me as a new Mama in that the investment I’m making in my son and Lord willing, future children is a great and significant one because of the God-given role I’ve been given.

A Passion for Marriage

sex-was-gods-idea-01Recently, my friend Cheli challenged me with something simple and profound. She said what if I lived my whole life with a passion for my marriage? Just how different would my marriage look?

I haven’t run into too many people who say they want to have a lifelong passion for their marriage. I often hear of a passion for a career, a life-long goal, sport, hobby, or whatever but not necessarily for their marriage. If we were passionate about working hard at our marriage, I bet people would stay together. Any time we have a passion for something, we tend to invest tons of time into that one thing. We can’t go a day with out it. And our life just isn’t complete without.

I’m determined to begin viewing my marriage with more passion. It’s not that I haven’t before but I want to have the mindset that my marriage is the most important thing than anything else right after my relationship with Christ. In the end, I think my son’s life will be most impacted by the kind of relationship I have with my husband, even more than the relationship I have with him. Did I love and respect my husband well? Did I show my son truly how to love another person with passion?

I sure hope so.

What does it look like for you to have a passion for your marriage? If you’re single, what does it look like to start becoming passionate about having the kind of marriage you dream of and working hard towards that?

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