Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me!

Why is it that after you hit 21, birthdays don't really seem to be a big deal anymore? I used to think 30 was old... and the closer I creep to that number, the younger it feels! For the first time in my LIFE, I am wearing my winter coat on my birthday because the high on the spring day is something like 39. Yuck! Apparently the weatherman didn't get the memo about it being my birthday- let along SPRING.

Much too early, I know- but my diaper bag arrived in the mail last week! An early birthday gift from my sweet husband. This morning I woke up to a brand new pair of slippers. I must confess that my old pair have really seen better days. The fluff falls out when I walk from the holes in the toes. :) My sweet hubby knows the way to my heart.

I've been eyeballing this little beauty for a while but didn't want to shell out the $113 Babies R Us had it listed for. My patience paid off and I got an Eversave (similar to Groupon) email that allowed me to grab this little beauty for nearly 50% off! Tevie thinks it looks entirely too much like a purse for him to carry it. Mom says that when a man has a baby on his hip, nobody cares what the diaper bag looks like. :) Still, we've registered for a more man-friendly bag for my handsome hubby to cart around when he and the boy are out sans momma. 

I may have also changed my mind on the bedding after seeing this too cute set in Target last week. 
The blue camels will work really well with the wall color... and since we want him to grow up with a heart for international missions, the safari theme will help put him in an African state of mind. :)

This weekend Tevie and I are getting away to Nashville. Our first date in too long. We're attending the Weekend to Remember marriage conference. I'm sure there will be a future post about all of the good stuff we'll learn while we're there. 

Finally, this is what mommy's looking like this week.
 And with that big ol' bump comes a lack of balance. Yesterday I fell out of the Expedition. In an effort not to fall on my belly, my knees took the worst of it. And no, I wasn't even wearing heels! Tevie said it's time to pack them up though. If I can't maintain my balance in flat riding boots, my sweet summery peep toe pumps are not an option. :( Maybe this means a trip to the store for some cute flats? Hey, can't fault me for trying. :)


Friday, March 25, 2011

feeding the orphans

I have been on a blogging rampage here lately, huh? I guess God is at work in this big ball of sin He named Allysa Gooden. 

This morning my heart was completely melted after reading Emily Fox's (of Notes from the Fox Family fame) guest blog at 5 Million Minus 1. It doesn't take long to read, but prepare to be convicted. Emily openly shares how the Holy Spirit is at work in her life. 

After you read that, click around and read more about the Henderson's journey to bringing sweet little Tedros home last year. After you look into the eyes of that espresso-skinned, wide-eyed, toothless grinned child, I hope you begin to understand why I say this Little Man is the only child I'll birth. My heart aches for Tedi's friends who remain in his orphanages... and the thousands of children like them all across the world.

Skip the Easter get-up this year and, in the words of my Jesus- worshipin', Dolly Parton-lovin', Casey County, Kentucky- raised, pageant- queen friend, Emily, "feed the orphans, ya'll!"
This picture is taken from the Henderson's blog ( Hopefully Natalie doesn't mind me showing off her precious baby boy, Tedi.
“We learned that orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It is easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes…” – David Platt, Radical

Thursday, March 24, 2011

a husband like mine

The Lord is doing an awesome work in my husband. I hope and pray and wish that each of my female friends has a husband who loves Jesus as much as mine does. There is no greater gift in the world. Words cannot express the joy that fills my heart when I look across the bed in the morning and see my sleepy-eyed husband with his bible in his hands and a dog on his lap; the peace I have when we gather at the table each night for supper and he puts out his hand, his non-verbal request that I bow with him in prayer before we eat; the excitement (and, okay, if I'm being honest, the fear) that I feel when he gets passionate about sacrificing what we think we need so that we can do more for those with much, much less.

Since you always hear my rambling opinions and spiritual rantings, I thought you might enjoy a word from from the precious heart of my sweet husband. Here's what's on his mind today:
These quotes/scripture/thought have been on my heart today and I wanted to share them with you:

"I believe that this could very well be looked back on as the sin of our generation. I look at my parents and ask, where were they during the civil rights movement? I look at my grandparents and ask, what were they doing when the holocaust in Europe was occurring with regard to the Jews, and why didn't they speak up? And when we think of our great, great, great-grandparents, we think how could they have sat by and allowed slavery to exist? And I believe that our children and their children, 40 or 50 years from now, are going to ask me, what did you do while 40 million children became orphans in Africa?"
--Rich Stearns, President of World Vision

I read 6 chapters of Stearns' book The Hole In Our Gospel last night. I highly recommend it to all of you.

"I have three things I'd like to say today. First, while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night."
-- Tony Campolo, speaker, author, sociologist, pastor, social activist, and passionate follower of Jesus!

I heard this guy speak last year. I love what he stands for -- righting the wrongs of injustice and aiding the poor. I recommend that you read some of his stuff or listen to some of his sermons.

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.' Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' Then they also will answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?' Then he will answer them, saying, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.' And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."
-- Jesus, the gospel of Matthew (25:31-46)
Stearns puts this scripture in a modern tone:

"For I was hungry, while you had all you needed. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you needed more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved."

This isn't meant to guilt -- though that's how I took it at first -- but to inspire to do that which we are all called to do:
Matthew 28:19-20 (ESV) 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

spring awakening

Lots going on in the Gooden Home this week. I think I may be in nesting mode already. Over the weekend I shampooed the carpets, painted Little Man's room and painted our front door. We've also purchased some new light fixtures for outside. That's Tevie's job this weekend. :) 

The paint in the nursery came out a little bluer than I hoped, but I think it will still work. 

I've wanted to paint our front door, but for some reason have just gotten around to it. Don't mind the empty flower pots and sad looking landscaping, as soon as we finish all of Kentucky's winters (according to the Farmer's Almanac there are 15) those pots will be filled with happy flowers.

Finally, in other big news. We bought a new car! Well, new to us anyway. I'm in love already and can't wait to be the coolest mom at the daycare pick-up line. :)

One last picture to make you smile. Three of our goofballs chasing leaves through the front yard on a beautiful spring day.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I am an Israelite. As I sit here this morning reading through the book of 1 Samuel, I am nearly astounded at the similarities between myself- my generation- and God's chosen people in the Old Testament.

In Judges 2, the Bible says that after one generation of Israelites died, another generation grew up "who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel". It goes on to say that they chased after the gods of other nations. Chased them. Not slowly slipped away. They didn't lose touch over time. It sounds as though they saw that the people around them were better off so they abandoned worshiping the one true God to follow idols and false gods. As you read through the Old Testament, you'll see this scenario played out again and again and again. I found myself thinking, "I don't get it! God was WITH you in your camp! He led you by a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day! You watched him destroy the Egyptians as they chased you, you watched HIM defeat armies and you didn't even have to pick up your swords! What's the deal, people?!"

And that's about the time God whispers... "How are you any different, my daughter?" Ouch. "But, Lord. I don't worship idols, I try to obey your commands, I read my bible, I pray to you." How am I still missing the mark? 

This morning I started the book of 1 Samuel. Few people outside of our families know how desperately I wanted to have a baby. Our pregnancy wasn't an "accident", we had tried for months and months and months to get pregnant. I remember praying and crying out to God and reciting Hannah's prayer in 1 Sam 1:11. "Oh Lord Almighty, if you will look down upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you." I fervently pray this prayer every day. I pray that we will raise our precious boy in the ways of the Lord. That he will know the word and love God's laws and hold his promises in his heart. I pray that my son finds success as a man of God- even if that means he doesn't find success according to the world's standards, I pray he's bilingual- or trilingual!- because he spends so much time serving God in foreign countries, I pray his wife loves the Lord as much as he will. 

Needless to say, I was excited about reading this book of the bible because it's been so near to my heart for the last few months. In chapter 7, Samuel is frustrated with his people. I love what he says, "If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods..." So the Israelites turn in all their junk and worship ONLY the Lord. I love that he says "really serious". Like, "yeah yeah, I've heard this before. If you're really serious this time, walk the walk, people." This sounded eerily familiar to something Jesus said in Matthew 19. A young rich man comes to him asking what good things he must do to earn eternal life. Jesus looks at the disciples and says "intently", "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible." Before this he looks at the young man and tells him, in my own words, if he's "really serious", "...sell all you have and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." The young rich man responds with joy and immediately sells everything... oh wait. No he doesn't. "But that's what I would do, Lord! If I had the honor of standing beside you and you gave me a tip on how to inherit eternal life, I would do it immediately!" "Then, my child, why haven't you?" 

You see, the young rich man didn't sell his belongings and enter the mission field. The bible says he went away sadly because had many possessions. He wasn't ready to give up his idols and be really serious about serving and worshiping the one true God. 

And that, my friends, is why I am such an Israelite. Each day the Lord convicts me to serve the least of these. I want be his hands and feet. But satan tells me I'm just one person and one person can't change the world, my community or my church. "One person can't make a difference, Allysa, so you just stay right where you are. Go wash that shiny new SUV in your garage, mop the floors in your beautiful home, go buy yourself some new shoes." And I listen to the voice of the deceiver instead of the voice of truth. I'm too small to make a big difference, so I just won't do anything at all. And satan wins as I crucify the Savior yet again. 

I am not saying all those things in and of themselves are bad. If all of us were to sell our possessions and move to third world countries, there wouldn't be anyone here to seek and save the lost in our country. However, when I continually put my comfort and well-being above the health, comfort, and well-being of the 30,000 children around the world who died of starvation last night, I have my priorities WAY out of line.

My favorite quote right now is from noted speaker and author Tony Campolo.
"...while you were sleeping last night, 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. Second, most of you don't give a shit. What's worse is that you're more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.”
Not what you'd expect to hear from a preacher, but man, is he right. I heard the crunch of my toes being stepped on the first time I heard that quote. My prayer each day is that I will throw away my idols and intently focus and serving God in exactly the manner he has called me to. When you read the bible, you cannot deny that we are called to be in this world, not of it. I've been transformed, sanctified, redeemed. I need to act like it.

Today, my prayer to is to commit to be really serious about worshiping God. I pray you'll commit the same. 

with broken toes,

Friday, March 18, 2011

halfway there!

This week marked the 20-week point in my pregnancy. It seems like it was just yesterday I was reading my pregnancy books thinking I'd never reach the halfway point, now I'm afraid August is going to be here before I know it! Here's what Little Man and I are looking like nowadays:
 In a week I went from hearing, "So, when you are supposed to start showing?" to "Whoa! Look at you!" Again, I try to remind myself that they are complimenting me... even if that "Whoa!" sounds all too much like what we yell at the pregnant horses on the farm. :) I've had trouble getting comfortable because my back aches. (PS: To my friends who will be pregnant in the future, when you read about the pain your sciatic nerve can cause, don't think it won't happen to you. If this little guy lays just right I can barely walk! As soon as he moves though, I'm good to go again.) Last night was the first night I couldn't get to sleep because he was kicking and rolling. Coolest feeling! However, when it's bedtime, Little Man, we have to settle down and sleep! :)

Momma D and Poppa T Gooden made the first purchase for Little Man's room this week! My mother-in-law is a bargain shopper extraordinaire! If you tell her what you want she can usually find it in better style than you imagine for a lot less than you imagined. Tevie and I are so blessed to have such loving parents.

This weekend the big plan is to move the guest bed and other furniture into the spare bedroom and begin painting the nursery. After that's done, this big leather beauty will be moved into the nursery and out of the living room, but in the mean time, Tevie (ok, and me) is enjoying it in the living room. :)

Wishing you a blessed weekend!

Monday, March 14, 2011

handsome baby boy

We had our 20week ultrasound today. Those 3D images are so amazing! Our Little Man is weighing in at a whole 13 ounces! Seeing his little face and hands makes it really sink in that we're having a baby! A BABY! Judging by the pictures he has his mama's thick calves and his daddy's skinny feet. Oh, and according to his Uncle Jess, his uncle's biceps. :) 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

nursery ideas

Who knew boy stuff was so cute! I'm overwhelmed with all of the choices of stuff! So, dear friends and family, please know that I know that our registries (yes, more than one) are full of anything we could ever possibly want. And here's why- after your due date, each store will send me a coupon for a minimum of 10% off everything remaining on my registry. So, I'm working the system and adding everything I could ever think we'd need so I can buy it with a coupon after Little Man's arrival. :) We're registered at Babies R Us, Target, and I have a registry at Wal-mart, only because it's the only store in our town of 3,500 and some people won't order online. 

Here's our ideas for Little Man's room so far:
I have a fetish for antique glass containers and purchase at least one every time I'm in an antique store. I love this idea.

Our Awesome friends, the Fox Family, are creating this little number for us. Not that Pottery Barn doesn't do a great job, but who doesn't love a handmade, heirloom piece?
The crib. I love these convertible ones that will last for years... makes you feel better about spending that kind of money. :)
More bookcases. I love to read, and because he'll have countless books read to him, I assume my little man will like to read too. 

And, if there are books, you need bookends! Aren't these cute?! I don't usually like stuff like this but I HAVE to have these cute little guys. Plus, they coordinate really well with the bedding.

Here's an example of the wall color and the curtains we'll have in there. 

Perhaps Tevie's favorite addition to the room: a la-z-boy recliner. For those early morning feedings and late night snuggles. Plus, it's so much more functional and attractive than those gliders every one puts in their nurseries. After a few years, this piece can easily be moved into the living room. 
Here's the color scheme of his bedding. We didn't do the whole set because I don't like things being overly matchy-matchy. 
And, saving the best for last (Jess, I knew you'd approve). Tevie's brother, Jess, is creating two paintings based on this one I found online. He's going to use our puppies and incorporate the colors of the room. I think this will tie everything together and add just a touch of whimsy and be such a special piece to have as our little guy grows. 

These two pictures have kind of been my inspiration. One is very modern and the other very traditional. I'm hoping we get a balance of both. Both are classic rooms that a little boy can grow up in, you won't be replacing bedding and accessories every few years. 
As long as we don't end up with a room that looks like a Disney World parade threw up in there, I'll be ok. ;)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

not my son

My title is stolen from a blog post I read over at Silver Spoon, Paper Plates the other day. Rachel and I have never (and probably will never) met, but I truly value her parenting philosophies... and see a lot of my self in her brainy-reading-researcher-type-A personality. 
She raises some good points about the early sexualization of children. Honestly, it's disgusting. I read an article on MSNBC that stated some other good points. I find it absolutely heartbreaking that young girls (and boys) are being bombarded by images of "perfection" at an earlier and earlier age. 

When we found out we were pregnant, I began wrestling with God and begging for a boy. I was a messed-up heap of self-image issues as a teenager... and honestly, looking back, as a very young girl. I remember as a first grader realizing my legs were thicker than cute little Laramie Moore's. The kids on the bus teased me because my nostrils flared when I laughed. Throw in a relationship with a jerk who said the most defeating things to me day in and day out, and you have a 17-year-old whose warped thinking never sees a skinny girl in the mirror, even at 5'10" and 150 lbs. 

I told God that I couldn't raise a girl. I mean look at me, Lord?! I'm such a mess of self-consciousness and worry, I was afraid my precious little girl would grow up just like me... and that scared me to death. In my current Beth Moore study on the book of Esther, the tagline is "It's tough being a woman" and each week Beth reads real women's statements on what's tough about being a woman. One lady said that it's tough hoping that your daughter will want to grow up to be just like you and wondering if you're worthy of such an honor. After the study that night, I cried my eyes out to God on the way home. I knew that if our sweet baby was a girl, God was going to equip me with the skills I needed to be the best example of confidence, strength and faith she'd ever see. 

Praise the Lord we're having a boy! :) I'm kidding. Honestly though, at first I breathed a sigh of relief because I thought I was off the hook. A boy wouldn't pick up on me complaining daily about my weight, he wouldn't notice me changing clothes 6 times in the morning before work, he wouldn't get his cues about self-esteem and self-image/value from me... but, oh, he will! When that little boy looks at me, he'll see a beautiful mom who works her hardest to love him and provide for him. When he says I'm beautiful and I shoot down his compliment, I make him second-guess what he sees. Perhaps most importantly, what he sees in me may very well be what he deems "normal"... oh my, is that not scary

My sweet hubby came into marriage thinking every women shaved her legs everyday, made amazing pork shoulder on the grill, could mow the lawn, feed the cows and still dress to the nines on a date with her husband. And then he married me- a woman who has no desire to learn how to run a zero-turn mower (or perform any kind of manual labor, for that matter) and thinks I'm doing pretty good when I shave twice a week. :)

God is showing me very quickly that being a parent is tough, no matter the sex of the child. I have been given the responsibility of training him in the ways of the Lord, instilling in him a love of scripture, serving others and loving his family. When he watches Tevie and I he will learn how a man should treat his wife and how to be a leader in his household. And, I pray, when he looks at me he sees what a godly, loving momma looks like... I'm terrified and excited at the same time.

Watching Tinker Bell's hemline get shorter and Bell's waist get curvier infuriates me not only because my son, if I don't teach him otherwise, will grow up thinking that's normal, but because there are six precious little girls whose purity and self-image I value and I hate that the enemy is already trying to take that away from them. It's also infuriating because the images the media put out are unattainable. No one looks like that in real life. Cindy Crawford is quoted as saying she wished she looked like Cindy Crawford.

I'll leave you with this quote from Rachel at Silver Spoon, Paper Plates:
"Ultimately those unnaturally airbrushed ads are not so innocent attempts to steal our girls.  To steal their confidence and to steal their potential.  Let me be clear to the advertisers who create it, to the designers who put tragically thin models on the runway, to the society who finds beauty in this madness:  when it comes to my daughter [my son or the little girls I love], you can't have her."


Why, yes, that is my spoiled rotten diva snuggled under a blanket on this cold, rainy day. Can't say I blame her. :)

Friday, March 4, 2011

the name game

The other day I came across this article on Now that we know Baby G is a baby boy, the naming game is in full force. We’re pretty sure we’ve narrowed it down but can’t bring ourselves to announce it publicly… or really even call him by name. Tevie says he’d like to wait until he’s born to make it “official”. Hopefully when we see his precious face we’ll know for certain that we’ve chosen the right name. Here are the highlights from the article and things we’ve been talking over the last couple days.

1. No strange nickname/last name combos. When you shortened his name and combine it with our last name, we don't want something awful like "Hava Gooden". I can't tell you how many times a week I hear, "Have a Gooden. Get it? Have a good one. Ha ha ha!" Really, people, not funny anymore. Another old one? "If your name's Tevie is your brother VCR? Ha ha ha!" Again, really not funny anymore.

2. No weird initials. We don't want his name to spell out anything that could bring ridicule in elementary school. 

3. No lifetime of corrections! Numero UNO on the list of parents named Tevie and Allysa. When you say his name I want people to #1) understand it and #2) be able to spell it. As it is, in this region you have to clarify that you're Gooden with an E not with an I. And apparently I don't enunciate well because on the phone people always think I'm saying "Goodman". Since he'll be spelling his last name his entire life, I at least want his first name to be manageable.

4. Not terribly popular. We want unique without being weird, while fulfilling the criteria above. The names we've chosen haven't been in the top 300 (or even 900) in nearly a decade.  

5. No weird sibling pairings. One mom in the article said she liked the name Ella for her yet-to-be-born daughter... until she realized that when paired with her big brother, Sam, she'd be screaming, "Salmonella, come here!" Obviously, not a problem for us yet... unless we holler for Baby G and the dogs at the same time. :)

6. No humiliating email address. My most beloved professor at LWC is named Gerald Chafin. Because of the way we do email addresses  at good ol' LW, his email is "chafing". Just another thing to think about when choosing names. :)

7. When you google it, what pops up? For a while we threw around Taylor Dane, until someone told us he was an 80's pop star. So, now we google name options to see what comes up. Obviously, if the first thing is a porn website or news articles about a convicted felon, we cross that name off the list. So far, when you search the varying combos of the name we like you get a bunch of articles and information about a professor from Rutgers, a bunch of ancestry/family tree sites for men with a similar name, and a ministry in Morganton, NC. Nothing that brings cause for concern.

Naming your child carries so much more anxiety than I could have ever imagined! It's his name FOREVER! Thankfully, the Lord already knows his name, the number of hairs on his precious little head, who he'll marry, what he'll major in in college, how tall he'll be and a host of other things I'd give anything to know! When I get overwhelmed by bedding, car seat, stroller, cloth diaper and other choices, I think back to the whole naming thing... and suddenly those don't seem like such a big deal. All of those things can be replaced... the Social Security Administration will start to think I am off my rocker (rightly so) if I'm sending in name change forms every six months.

Have my other mommy friends had this much trouble... or anxiety? :)

Thursday, March 3, 2011

this is the stuff You use

Have you ever had one of those days when you just want to stop and say, "Are you serious?!" Totally my day today. 

I so enjoy enjoy waking up on crisp spring mornings. When my alarm goes off at 5:45am, Binx and I get up and head to the kitchen. He goes outside and I get my cup of coffee. Pregnancy Police, don't judge me. One cup of morning coffee is okay by my doctor! We then snuggle back in bed and read the Bible. Well, I read. Binx is a dog and dogs can't read, duh. :)

Today we're enjoying beautiful, cloud-free spring weather in the 60's. Tevie went to lunch with a couple of his buddies so I decided to spend my lunch break running a few errands. First stop was for some lunch. I pull up to the drive-thru window at Burger King and order my hamburger with NO mayonnaise and NO cheese. You have to say "mayonnaise" around here because apparently "mayo" sounds too much like "mater" (tomato) and you end up with gobs of the yucky white stuff and no tomatoes on your sandwich. I pick up my order at the window and not only is the UNsweet tea I ordered sweet, my burger has mayo on it. So, I pass it back through the window. The sweet little girl hands me back an unsweet tea (thank you!)... and a burger with no mayo, now it has cheese. Rather than holding up the line, I go inside and, as Jesus-like as possible (I think), ask for a what I ordered in the first place. Finally correct! 

I eat my little lunch in the solitude of my car with Chris Tomlin playing and enjoying the warm breeze. I make a mental list of what I need from the big blue monster and head inside. Now, I know, I KNOW, that people mean to compliment me when they say, "You're not even showing yet!"... however, this pregnant lady does not take it as such. What I hear is that I have always looked 18lbs overweight with a little something hanging over the top of jeans. "Kind of!" I say for the 15th million time and roll my cart passed this well-meaning friend because it's not worth going through the details of how he's big enough that I feel him moving all day and I'm in nothing but maternity clothes.

At home, I unload my groceries and let the puppies outside. They bark to come in not thirty seconds after I turn my back. Elphie is standing with two feet on the threshold when I unsnap her collar so she can come in... and she bolts 90mph through the backyard chasing after Lord knows what. The fastest way to catch her is to get in the car and make her think she's going somewhere with you. So, I get in the truck and roll through the neighborhood. I spot her about three houses down. When she sees me and the truck, she bolts again. I am chasing my dog in my SUV, door wide open, yelling for her to come when I think to myself, "Are you serious?!" What a lunch break!

I don't think I've ever been more ready to get back to my office. I'm laughing as I drive back to work... really, just to keep from crying. I started thinking through my day and talking to God. I didn't pray for patience this morning, Lord. So why have you given me so many tests today!... and then, a gentle voice whispers to my heart, "here's the bigger question, Allysa... did you pass them?" Did the little girl at Burger King see a Christian kindly asking for another sandwich? Or did she see a snotty lady throwing a fit? Did my well-intentioned friend at the store see a gracious pregnant lady or a short, ill-tempered brat? Did my retired neighbors (no doubt peering out their windows) see the sweet neighbor girl chasing her monster dog or did they see a beastly owner and understand why the dog ran away in the first place. Ha. That last one made me laugh... I was so mad at her, and she knew what was coming, I can't say I blame Elphie for running! 

I think that satan tries desperately to put our little candles out. Today I feel like he's walking beside me handing me a bushel and saying, "You don't have to hide it forever, just let me hold it for you. I'll hide it right under here while you deal with these people who don't understand you, and you can come pick it back up when you're through with them." And instead of saying, "NO! I'm gonna let it shine!" we I say, "Hey, thanks buddy. I'll be right back for that." 

Francesca Battistelli has a song out right now called "This is the stuff you use". It came to mind when I was driving back to work. 
"This is the stuff that drives me crazy
This is the stuff that's getting to me lately
In the middle of my little mess
I forget how big I'm blessed
This is the stuff that gets under my skin
But I gotta trust You know exactly what You're doing
It might not be what I would choose
But this is the stuff You use"
 Boy oh boy, did I ever need that reminder today! Here's the scripture I think I am going to work on memorizing for the next two weeks. It comes from James 5:7-
"Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains."
 Tevie and I are praying for a bunch of things right now... and if we aren't patient and wait for the Lord to answer, open doors, shut doors and shower His provision we will miss out some huge blessings. This section of scripture goes on to say in 5:11b, 
"You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about." 
Did you catch that. We see what the Lord FINALLY brought about. Not quickly, not hurriedly, not immediately... finally. I wish I could put God to the clock and make him work in my time. I have a nursery to decorate, a child to name, plans to be made, a new car that I would love to have that won't sit on that lot forever! But if I am the one making the decisions, I will never feel fulfilled. I'm staying all this because I need to hear it, but I hope it blesses you today too. After all, we could all use a little more patience, right?

Lord, today I pray for clarity and, because I have a feeble human mind, a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night would be really helpful! I pray for forgiveness when I don't shine the light of your love as bright as I know I am called to and I pray for the opportunity to serve your people better tomorrow than I did today. 

Much love