Wednesday, April 27, 2011

over it

There are few things as disheartening as scrolling through your facebook news feed and seeing 15,000 negative status updates... so rather than complain there, I'm complaining here! HA! 

This, my friends, is the first McDonald's Diet Coke I have consumed in 26 long weeks. I'm hoping that since we're in the home stretch (third trimester begins Monday!!!) and the little man is mostly developed and just packing on the pounds, a one-day overload of aspartame and caffeine won't cause him to be born with six toes. 
I am married to the most amazing man in the world. He left his office this morning to make my I-must-have-it-now-diet-coke run. He's so wonderful to me. He's going to be a great daddy.
Note the indention on my ankle from the straps of my sandals :(

I've been contemplating the last few days why it is we do this to ourselves...Why can't our sweet children arrive by stork or in a basket with a pretty balloon like in the How the Grinch Stole Christmas movie.
To those of you sweet, innocent girls who have yet to conceive your first child, please be advised that pregnancy is nothing like the books say. Sure they warn you that you'll be hormonal and moody. Do not assume this is like PMS moodiness... it is far, far worse. You will find yourself crying for no reason and completely unable to stop the tears. 
They will warn you that you may develop acne. What they don't say it that it's not just a pimple here and there, it's a full-on 16 year-old boy breakout weekly. And leave your Proactiv under the counter, sister, because it won't even touch it. 
They don't tell you your usually soft, blond hair will turn course and start growing in so dark and fast that you will single-handedly be able to pay your hair girl's mortgage for the next 40 weeks. They tell you you'll swell towards the end... apparently for me "towards the end" is week 26.

I remember reading that you should try to wear your own clothes as long as possible because you will miss them later on. In my eagerness to look as pregnant as possible, and not like I'd just eaten a large lunch, I embraced my maternity jeans and tops and pushed my little belly out as much as I could... my sweet childless friends, you will miss your own clothes. On a warm spring morning you will wistfully brush your hand across those cute seersucker slackers and tailored tops and long to be in something without an elastic waistband... which is even uncomfortable nowadays because you're gaining weight at a rate of 2lbs a week and you can't stop it!

This is the hardest part for me. For years I have been fixated on my weight and image. I meticulously watch what I eat and fret over every calorie. While rationally I know  I am supposed to be gaining weight, watching those pounds add on seemingly daily is very hard on my self-esteem. Each day that elastic waistband feels a little tighter. 

Thankfully, I serve a God who knew this was going to be an issue for me. This morning after being frustrated over my limited wardrobe and swollen hands and feet, I sat down to weep. My sweet little boy began rolling around and kicking me in the ribs. I needed that reminder that that's why I'm doing this. That's why they can't arrive by stork. I'd miss out on those kicks and punches and I wouldn't appreciate the masterpiece that is a woman's body. How amazing that God created something so intricate and beautiful. Now, I didn't jump up ready to take on the world... in fact I continued to cry while I got dressed, but I do have a renewed peace of mind as to why this is going to be worth it. 

I know what a huge blessing this is, I do. I prayed for eight months to be in this position and I truly wouldn't trade carrying this sweet child for anything... but, shew, is it ever hard some days!! Nothing worth having is easy though. So, while I miss sleeping on my tummy, wearing pointy toed pumps, pants without elastic, thin arms, my waist, being cold-natured, heartburn-free days (praise Jesus for Zantac!), a scale that reads a number in the 150's, my hair and skin and wardrobe, I think I can tough this out for 96 more days. :)

 This is a baby born at 26 weeks. As much as I feel ready for him to be here, I needed this to show me that HE is NOT ready to be here yet. What perspective. What's a little inconvenience like 30lbs and swollen feet when you're creating perfection? Right? :)

Fellow moms, how did you cope with swollen feet, heartburn and sleepless nights? And how on earth were you conned into doing this more than once?! :)

Sunday, April 24, 2011


Happy Easter!
I hope you spend this day remembering the resurrection of our Savior. The amazing thing about the Gospel is NOT that Jesus came and died for us, what makes it so incredible is that He ROSE! 
Here are some things I'm meditation on today.

"I am the man that called out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled on this earth shaking
Yes then, I turned away with this smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night, I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life, my life, my life
But You love me anyway"
Sidewalk Prophets

"The idea that a virgin would be selected by God to bear himself...The notion that God would don a scalp and toes and two eyes...The thought that the King of the universe would sneeze and burp and get bit by mosquitoes...It’s too incredible. Too revolutionary. We would never create such a Savior. We aren’t that daring...In our wildest imaginings we wouldn’t conjure a king who becomes one of us.

But God did. God did what we wouldn’t dare dream. He did what we couldn’t imagine. He became a man so we could trust him. He became a sacrifice so we could know him. And he defeated death so we could follow him."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

forget the frock

My amazing, Jesus lovin' friend Emily from The Fox Family  wrote an amazing guest blog for another amazing friend, Natalie at 5 Million Minus 1

I will be the first to admit that I love all things fashionable, shiny and trendy. Easter in the South is ridiculous. Much like Christmas, we have forgotten why we originally started this holiday. It's become baskets, bunnies, bonnets and little white shoes. I love a new dress as much as the next girl - and don't even get me started on a new pair of shoes- but my heart has been burdened lately as commercials bombard you with sales on dresses, baskets and candy. I read facebook status after facebook status of parents who complain about money in one and then complain about frantically going shopping for matching Easter apparel in another. Doesn't that sound like craziness? 

If that doesn't, this will. This year, the Gooden family is skipping the Easter get-up. Sunday morning you'll find us happily sporting our Feeding the Orphans shirts.

Of all that Sundays in the year, Allysa, why Easter Sunday? Well, isn't rescue, feeding the needy and adoption what the Gospel Story is all about?

Romans 5: 6-8 (NIV) says we were rescued:
 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 He didn't wait for us to get our act together, He knew we needed a savior so He came to us while we were still weak with sin.

John 6 (NIV) shows us that He feeds us when we're hungry:
 5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do...12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. 

Convicting. God knows exactly where the food to feed these children is going to come from... from what we consider nothing, God creates a feast. The cost of the t-shirts we'll wear on Sunday feed an orphan 3 meals a day for a month. Like a that boy's sack lunch, God will take my $25, bless it and it will multiply into plenty

Galations 3:23-28 (NIV) says we have been adopted as children of God through our faith:
 23 Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed. 24 So the law was our guardian until Christ came that we might be justified by faith. 25 Now that this faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.
 26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 

I love that last verse. Our great God is the biggest supporter of international adoption ever! What better day to support international adoption and the millions of orphaned children around the world than on the day we've chosen to celebrate the resurrection of our Savior. The Son of God who came to this earth and died so that we could be called children of God. Black or white, African or Asian, Jew or Gentile, slave or free- there's no distinction. We're all children of the living God who gave His life to set us free. 

It is with great joy that we support this ministry, prayerfully consider adopting and brag on sweet little Tedi Henderson like he's our own kid even though we've never met. :)(... yet!)

In the words of the exuberant, loveable, Jesus lovin' fashionista Emily Fox, 
"Happy Easter Ya'll... now go love some Orphans!"
Happy Easter!

Matthew 25: 31-40
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
   34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
   37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
   40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

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cutting the cord

Ummm, well, I guess you can't really cut the cord since it's satellite, but at any rate the Gooden family has officially ended our love affair with Dish Network.

This has been a long, prayerful decision in our home. Back in January, we participated in the Daniel Fast, a 21-day time of prayer and fasting based on Daniel's fast in the Old Testament. Since I was still in my first trimester and queasy 25 hours a day, rather than follow the diet like Tevie did, I (we, really) gave up TV. It was a really outstanding time in our home. We read a couple books, played games together and stayed up later than we usually do just to talk and spend time together. Since then, "cutting the cord" has been on our hearts. 

Before January I would have told you we don't watch much TV... but turn it off for 21 days and you realize just how often you're drawn to pick up that remote. We decided after the fast that rather than sit and watch mindless TV for hours we would just watch our favorite shows and keep it off the rest of time... guess how long that lasted? 

I have battled a spirit of fear my entire life. As a tiny girl, my dad would take me to bed, sing me a song, and hand me my red Wilderness Explorer flashlight equipped with a compass and whistle that I could blow if I got scared and needed him or mom (NOTE: It was not really a Wilderness Explorer flashlight, but if you haven't seen UP, you should rent it today.). I never needed the compass... this little chicken wasn't leaving the safety of her home compound. :) 

For a few years I have blamed this spirit of fear on what we watch. I have been an avid CSI: watcher since it's very first season and if you watch that one you have to watch the fifteen spinoffs it's had. Add to that my love of reading a good murder mystery and you have one wild imagination. I started reading Sue Grafton novels at about 10 years old and am currently up-to-date on every Janet Evanovich novel... and I am ashamed to admit that those spook me sometimes! 

We've stopped watching the scary shows and I have cut-out mystery books from my reading repertoire. So, you can imagine my frustration when I was still scared all the time. My imagination created people in the house, the cat scratching would become someone picking the deadbolt, and I couldn't walk into a dark room without feeling my chest tighten... oh, how I wish I was exaggerating. After I learned I was pregnant my fears became even greater. What if someone were to break our front door- made of plated glass- and come in and kidnap the baby? We couldn't put his crib near a window because a tornado may come through our neighborhood and he could be sucked out a window. I know you're laughing as you read this because it's absolutely ridiculous, but I kid you not, this was how my mind worked on a daily basis. Satan had me in the grips of a very tight stronghold. 

And it was when I realized that, that this was not a natural fear, this was a stronghold that satan was using to keep me from placing my faith in God. As long as I was fearful, I doubted God's ability and strength. I began praying and praying and praying for freedom from this.

Last week my sweet husband spent an amazing 72-hours with the Lord on a Walk to Emmaus. I am ashamed to admit that I hoped all week something would happen and wouldn't be able to go because I could not bear the thought of being home alone for 3 nights. I do not sleep when he isn't home. Thursday night after dropping him off I came home and tried to settle in for the night. My best friend called me and talked to me until 11pm, I hoped at that time I was tired enough that I would sleep. I tossed and turned all night with every light in the house on and both dogs in the bed. 

Friday evening I attended a meeting for the women's Emmaus I'm working in May. At the end of the evening we gathered at the alter to pray and I immediately began to worry about going home... in the dark... by myself. At that moment, THE moment satan began to make me fearful, our spiritual director, Brian, an authentic, loving, passionate man of God looked at me, called me by name and said that God has shown him I battle a spirit of fear... Are you speechless? Because I sure was! Actually, I started sobbing. Brian spoke 1 Timothy 1:7 to me, "For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity but one of power, love and self discipline." I can't tell you the relief I felt because 1) a roomful of godly, loving women and men were praying for me but 2) because Brian spoke such truth into my life. I was so comforted to know that God knew the fears of my heart, He knew how strong satan's grip was. Now I laugh because God had shown me that scripture a thousand times but I am stubborn and chose to ignore because it didn't apply to my fears. Just like He did a thousand times with the Israelites, who wouldn't listen to him, he sent a man of God in one prophetic moment to share a word from His heart that would reach the hearts of His people. I am so thankful for Godly, obedient people in my life. Thank you, Brian, for speaking what God has laid on your heart even though it didn't make sense to you. Needless to say, I slept beautifully that night and every night since. I know that satan will always tempt me with fear but I have been freed from the stronghold he chained me with for so long. 

So what does all of that have to do with turning off the TV? It's one of many ways we are striving to be serve God on a deeper level. Without the temptation of TV we will spend more time reading and studying and more time together. Based a numerous things I have read lately and studied about child development in college, we had decided we didn't want the Little Man watching TV before age 2. That meant we'd have it off while he was awake, and if we have it off while he's awake, why pay all that money for a few hours of entertainment? We can watch all of our favorite shows, should we still want to, on the internet, Tevie can check scores and watch games online and anything worth watching will eventually come to Netflix so we'll catch it there. This also helps us protect our hearts and minds from the awful stuff that's considered acceptable programming. 

Aside from that, and our biggest reason for making this decision, we now have $50 extra each month to donate to Kingdom Work. Did you know that according to Feeding the Orphans, $25 feeds one orphan three meals a day for one month? Just by shutting off our satellite, we're able to feed TWO children in Ghana, Africa for a MONTH! 

Of course the worldly party of me thinks, "What are people going to say about me? We're shutting of our TV, turning off data plans on our phones and cutting back wherever possible... this makes me look so weird!" This quote from Radical reminds why this is the way to live.

As the American dream goes, we can do anything we set our minds to accomplish.  There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we combine ingenuity, imagination, and innovation with skill and hard work….  But…the dangerous assumption we unknowingly accept in the American dream is that our greatest asset is our own ability….  Even more important is the subtly fatal goal we will achieve when we pursue the American dream.  As long as we achieve our desires in our own power, we will always attribute it to our own glory…  This, after all, is the goal of the American dream; to make much of ourselves.  But here the gospel and the American dream are clearly and ultimately antithetical to each other.  While the goal of the American dream is to make much of us, the goal of the gospel is to make much of God.

God is able to do much with what we consider little. It's hard for me to sit a plush pew, in a newly renovated sanctuary knowing there are millions of orphaned children around the world... knowing that nearly 30,000 died yesterday from curable illnesses and starvation. And I let it happen because I don't have the money to give... because I'd rather watch Food Network than give food and Living Water to children who lay down each night thirsty, starving and ill. That excuse is unacceptable to me now. We are continually purging the excess from our lives in a radical way... I hope you don't look at our radical way of living as crazy... I hope you join on this path. It's straight and narrow, often rocky, but the destination is better than we could ever dream. 

Finally, because I can't say it as well as David Platt, here some quotes from chapter 6 of Radical (can you tell God is using this book to convict me?! It's good stuff!).

"We don’t sell [our possessions] or give them away because they are sinful….  We sell them and give them away because Christ in us compels us to care for the needy around us."

"Why not begin operating under the idea that God has given us excess, not so we could have more, but so we could give more.

The truth is, there will continue to be millions and millions of people who do not hear as long as we continue to use spare time and spare money to each them.  Those are two radically different questions.  “What can we spare?” and “What will it take?"

The logic that says, “I can’t do everything, so I won’t do anything,” is straight from hell.

The lesson I learned is that the war against materialism in our hearts is exactly that:  a war.  It is a constant battle to resist the temptation to have more luxuries, to acquire more stuff, and to live more comfortably.

Ultimately, I don’t want to miss eternal treasure because I settle for earthly trinkets. “Where your treasure is,” Jesus says, “there your heart will be also."

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Monday, April 18, 2011

week 25

Today was our week 25 OB appointment and the anniversary of my mother-in-law's 29th birthday :) (Happy Birthday, Dana!!!). Little Man's heartbeat was 145- the lowest it's been so far. The nurse says that as long as it stays between 120 and 180 they are happy... something about reactivity and it being a good sign that it varies at each appointment. I got a yummy bottle of this weird sugary drink I get to enjoy before my 29 week appointment. Not looking forward to the 1 hour glucose test but it's par for the course. Only one more monthly appointment and then we're in the THIRD trimester and seeing the doctor every other week. How did this go by so quickly? August will be here before we know it. Tevie and I were talking about when we think he'll make his arrival. I think he'll come August 5. First, because that's three days after his due date and I figure he'll be his father's child and never in a hurry to do anything. Second, that's my sweet little brother's 15th birthday and I would love for them to share that special day. Tevie thinks he'll come right on time. Honestly, that is more like Tevie, he doesn't rush but he's never late either.

Heartburn/reflux have hit me full force in the last ten days. Nothing makes me feel better. So not an enjoyable experience. Hopefully that means this handsome little guy will be born with a head full of beautiful hair and not with a big ugly bald head like his momma and daddy were. :)

Here's the belly at week 25 before heading to church on Sunday. If I position my phone just right when I take the picture it hides the double chin I'm working on. :)

I was a bachelorette this weekend while my sweet hubby was away on a Walk to Emmaus. An amazing spiritual experience- you should check it out if you've never been. I hate being home alone, but God surrounded me with amazing encouragement and truth this weekend. Plus, I had a fluffy little companion keeping Tevie's side of the bed warm and occupied. She may not have missed daddy... she much prefers a pillow to her crate at night. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011


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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

gain his soul

What is the single most important thing you'd like your child to gain from religion?
  • A firm belief in God or a higher power
  • Knowing right from wrong and other moral values
  • To be saved/go to heaven
  • A sense of identity
  • A sense of community

This is a question in a poll I took on an online mom community. The single most important thing I want my son to gain from religion? First, I don’t want him to have a religion. I want him to have Jesus. Second, what if none of those things are the single most important thing I hope he gets from that relationship with Jesus?  Let me finish my thought before, as we say in the South, “you get your panties in a wad”.  

To be saved/go to heaven

Of course I want my son to go to heaven. I think that all Christians, in fact I'd go as far as to say everyone wants to go to heaven. And of course we should live our lives with a heaven-ward focus. But if you read the words of Jesus in the New Testament, it’s not about YOU going to heaven, it’s about doing all you can to make sure EVERYONE in the world goes with you! The GREAT commission (Matt28:19) commands us to GO and make disciples of ALL nations. This is a veeeeery hot topic for me right now. My heart is pierced and convicted by the fact that I simply do not do enough to spread the Kingdom to the ends of the globe… ahhh, but that’s another post entirely.

A firm belief in God or a higher power

In my experience in walking with the Lord, it takes more than believing He exists- you have to TRUST Him. Many, many people believe in God- in fact, James 2 says that’s great, “you do well to believe God is one” but  “the demons also believe, and shudder.” I want more for him than belief in the one, true God I want him to trust the one, true God and follow him wholeheartedly all the days of his life.

Knowing right from wrong and other moral values

I think the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word "Christian" is the idea that they have good moral values. I wouldn’t associate knowing right from wrong with this, I would hope that everyone over the age of 5 knows right from wrong- whether or not they choose to do it is another thing, I guess. There are numerous, Christian moral values that I want my son to have- generosity, integrity, loyalty, etc. More than just these though, I want his life to exhibit the Fruits of the Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (and yes, I just sang the song as I typed those out).  When you are trusting in God (not just believing) and following (better, pursuing) Him passionately, the fruits of the spirit inevitably show up and we are then convicted to put them to work because faith without works is dead (James 2). 

A sense of identity/A sense of community

Having a sense of who I am in Christ and knowing that I belong to a community of believers are two of the greatest things about being a Christian. They are. The single most important? Nah. But they are good. We live in a world that does not understand, or often approve, of the things we do in the name of Jesus. Here lately as my husband and I try to describe to people that we are trying to live radically for Jesus by spending less on us so we can spend more for the Kingdom’s works, people look at us like we’ve lost our minds. (Sidenote: DO NOT READ RADICAL by David Platt, CRAZY LOVE by Francis Chan, THE HOLE IN OUR GOSPEL by Rich Stearns AND THE NEW TESTAMENT IN SUCCESSION. YOU WILL BE CONVICTED AND IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE. At least I hope so, because if not you have heart made of stone.)

 “What do you mean you’re getting rid of TV?” “How do you downsize from a 1700 square foot home?” “You didn’t have a yard sale, you just gave that stuff away?” And just when I get to the point that I think they are right, I am crazy, I need all this stuff… God sends me some other radical goofball to encourage me and I am again motivated to work toward living the life Jesus called us to (Thank you, Prathers and Mark Weaver!). As if scripture isn’t enough to convict you that this life is NOT ABOUT YOU, there is line from Radical that breaks my heart every time I think on it. "There is never going to come a day when I stand before God and he looks at me and says, ‘I wish you would have kept more for yourself.’"

Never. There is never going to come a day when my Savior looks at me and says those words. There will however be a day when He says, "Why didn't you help the hurting, clothe the naked, mother the motherless, feed the hungry? You didn't have enough time and money? What about all that I gave you? It was more than enough to grow my Kingdom and serve my people." I do not want Him to be looking at me when he says those words. In fact, my laptop may short out because giant tears are streaming into my keyboard as I type those words. I do not want to hear those words and I do not want those I love to hear those words from His lips either.  

So, what is the single most important thing I want my son to gain from religion a relationship with God? How about his soul. Abundant Life. Not a belief in a God but a trust in God, not the knowledge of right and wrong and other moral values but the fruits of the spirit and a faith in action. Not just to go to heaven but take all of the 3 billion non-believers in this world with him. Not just to have a sense of identity and community but to encourage community and identity in Christ among his family, friends and social circles. 

The single most important thing he can gain from a relationship with God is not to live the American Dream and make much of self, but to live the Gospel Dream and make much of God. 

Lord, I want to make much of you so my son desires to make much of you, too. 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

a day of rest

After an emotional and Spirit-filled worship service, the Fox Family invited us and the Kelley Family to spend a day on the houseboat. A perfect way to spend this 87-degree spring day. 

Last year Emily introduced me to Frances Kelley. We share a love of Broadway, Beth Moore and Jesus and both have an innate sense of worry and bossiness. :) Tevie and I are so sad to see her, Phillip and their sweet girls, Caroline and Madelyn move to Kansas City next month but feel so blessed to have had them in our lives if even for short time. God knew exactly what I needed when he brought me Frannie. I'll forever cherish our late night chats on Emily's couch and her encouragement during my Walk to Emmaus.  

We enjoyed every last drop of sunshine on beautiful Lake Cumberland.  Though the weather was in the upper 80's, the water was ffffffreeezing! That did not deter three of the tiny divas from getting their feet wet. 

Caroline leaving her mark on a rock
Jason helps the girls ashore. If you magnified this picture you'd see Vivi's cute little bottom covered in sand and rocks. So sweet! :)

Tevie watching the girls from the top deck of the Restoration

our blissful view for the afternoon

Saturday, April 9, 2011

no place like home

You may remember that back in September my parents lost their home to a fire. You can read about it here. Well, it's been a long, cold winter but progress is being made! The contractor says they could be in by June/July. I've never known anyone to move in when the contractor says, but that's encouraging none the less. They could be settled in by the time our Little Man arrives and before Brynnie walks down the aisle in October.

It has been a very difficult year for my family. Though they moved into a rental home soon after the fire, you never really feel settled. satan has tried to destroy relationships, tried to make us focus on what we don't have instead of what we do and tried to plant the seed of doubt about whether or not our God is control. But he has FAILED. Miserably. God continues to show his faithfulness to my family and we continue to grow closer together. 2010 ended with news of a marriage and a baby. We have total confidence that God works all things for good for those who love him and are called according to His purpose.

To my Buttercup

Six years ago, we waited patiently for her daddy to come through those doors and announce boy or girl. I ate an entire bag of mini Reese's peanut butter cups during the six hours her mommy was in labor. 
I love you more than words can say, my little Buttercup. You have a heart of gold, an innate sense of style and a keen sense of pitch and musical ability that I envy. You're a pretty awesome kid and it has been a privilege to watch you grow. Happy 6th Birthday, Lain Briann! Wish I was there to spend it with you!

Friday, April 8, 2011


Who doesn't love a good puppy picture? While I was traveling for work and their daddy slaved away around the house vacuuming and doing the dishes (I mean, really, how awesome is he?!), this is what the mutts were up to. They are very good foreman. "You got this, dad? Then we'll relax." Binx looks like he's saying, "What? You mean these plush leather arms weren't meant for me to sleep on?"

We HAVE to move Little Man's rocker out of the living room! First Tevie claimed it, now the pups. At least we know it will be plenty comfy for those late night feedings. :)

weekend to remember

Tevie and I enjoyed the most awesome weekend in Franklin, TN at the Weekend to Remember conference last weekend. Can't you always tell when you're doing God's work? Isn't that when satan hits you the hardest? We had quite a trip down there... 

Nashville/Franklin is roughly a two hour trip from our house. Since we were meeting our friends for dinner at 5:30, we decided to head out a little before 3pm, leaving time to drop our bags in the room before meeting up with the group. For the first time in my pregnancy, I had the most awful heartburn. I climbed into the truck in a terribly grumpy mood. By 3:30 I had already reached my daily allowance of Tums and was looking for some other source of relief. An hour into the trip we stop for gas, and thinking we're at the other state line exit, I tell Tev to turn left. We end up a gas station that not only costs more per gallon, but it isn't a truck stop so the pump shuts off at $75. Not a good thing when you drive a mega-tank like ours. :) I run into to go the bathroom and grab a little thing of milk (brings mucho relief for me, weird I think) and find my husband has thrown my wallet in the floor in search of my Kroger card, which you can use at Shell gas stations and get the $.10/gallon discount. Apparently he couldn't get it to work so he'd chucked them both into the floor. :)

Hungry and ready to be in Nashville we hit the road again... and sit in traffic on I-65 Apparently every family in a 600-mile radius was headed south for spring break. After almost 90 minutes in traffic we miss our dinner reservations and end up eating Chik-fil-a. Not a terribly bad thing because we love it and don't have it in our happening metropolis of 1800 people. Finally, we arrive at the hotel. I check us in using my Marriott Rewards number... apparently, that doesn't mean a hill of beans to the girl behind the counter. All of the king beds are gone... "how about a room with two doubles?", she asks. I thought my poor husband would flip his lid. Long before I started looking like this (here's your week 24 belly update):

My sweet hubby and I take up every inch of our glorious king-sized bed and never.ever touch each other. I know he's there on the other side of the mound of pillows and dogs, and that's enough for me. :) But, hey, it's a marriage conference, so we can tough it out. 

We board the elevator to our room and that's where our story gets comical. For my birthday, my mommy bought me a beautiful Louis bag similar to this one
Now, while you always hope that you've hit the jackpot and scored a REAL Louis in a consignment shop, you have to assume that it's a fake and that's why you got such a great deal on it. It didn't matter to me, I was happy to be carrying my Louis (well, watching my hubby carry it) onto the elevator. Mind you, my birthday was Thursday, this is Friday. This is the FIRST time I have ever used this suitcase. 

Just like in all of your favorite romantic comedies, the elevator doors close and at that moment one of the handles falls completely off the bag. Tevie sighs very loudly and I try to brush it off. I'm sure I can fix it, right? He put the shoulder strap on his shoulder and... yep, that's right, it breaks too. So, our assumptions are correct- not real, because surely a real Louis could hold a weekend's worth of clothes and keep his handles on! It's hysterically funny now- funny after the afternoon we've had!  Tevie practically kicks my bag down the hallway to our room and we both fall onto our tiny little bed breathing a sigh of relief that we've made it! :)

And that was the last moment we let satan any where near us during the weekend. Whether you are newly married, remarried or have been married for 50 years, this conference will definitely change the way you look at each other and how you look at your marriage relationship. 

It is no secret that I am painfully bossy. It sounds like a cop-out, but I just can't help it! Blame it on me being a first born child, spoiled, whatever. It is what it is. My bossy, control- freak attitude has caused more than one problem in our nearly 5-year marriage. Because when TWO firstborns get married, someone who has always done the bossin' is going to have to step out of the way and let someone else take the lead! Ugh. And it was NOT going to be me. 

Through the coursework for the conference and months and months of scripture study and prayer, God has revealed a lot to me about my attitude. My sweet husband is a gift and God wants me to respect and submit to this man He has given me to share my life with. I have prayed and prayed and prayed that God would make my husband the spiritual leader of our household. And do you know what I was doing the WHOLE time? Running the show! How on earth can I expect him to do it when my control freak mentality takes over and I think I can do it better? 

If I learned nothing else from the weekend, this one thing has stuck with me and been on my mind every single day since we got home. The Greek word for submission in Ephesians 5:22 is actually a military term. This particular form of the word was used when describing a situation with two officers of equal rank. In order to fulfill the mission at hand and for the betterment of the army as a whole, one officer submits to the other to see the entire army achieve victory. Not at all what our connotation of submission is, is it? When I take that view of submission, the idea that we are equal partners working toward a common goal and it is my duty to sometimes defer to Tevie to see that our family is successful, it's a WHOLE lot easier for me to do it!
And in case, there are any old schoolers out there who don't think we're of equal rank to our husbands- crack open your bible, my sweet friend. God created Eve to be Adam's helper (Gen 2:18). Not secretary, ironer, chef, dry-cleaner-picker-upper but his helper. This same word- in the Hebrew text- is used multiple times to describe the Lord and his relationship to us. 
Deuteronomy 33:29- "He is your shield and helper..."
Psalm 118:7- "The LORD is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies."
 Ladies, what a huge role we play in lives of our husbands and families! As you begin to look at your husband as a gift from God, it is so much easier to show him the respect a godly husband deserves. 

I am painfully, borderline obsessively clean person. Our kitchen counters are often sanitized, the toilets scrubbed weekly, tubs bleached every Saturday, I wash my toothbrush in scalding hot water before using it and wash my hands until they chap. However, I am not very neat always. When I finished getting ready in the morning my bathroom often looks like a war zone with make-brushes and flat irons and shoes every where. I kick my shoes off by the door when I come in, I leave my bobby pins in piles everywhere, and I mean to go back and put the half and half away after my coffee, but sometimes I just forget! These things drive my husband CRAZY! He is a man, and therefore, germs mean nothing to him. He would probably cut raw chicken on the cutting board and then use that knife to make a peanut butter sandwich... I'm exaggerating... I hope. When I started looking at cleaning up after myself as a way of showing my husband respect and letting him know how much I love him, it became so much easier to do. 

This week I have tried to be really intentional about picking up after myself. And do you know what? Yesterday, without ANY prodding from me, my husband came home on his lunch hour and vacuumed AND did the dishes! Now, I can't promise this great success for all of you, but we're sure celebrating in the Gooden house! He didn't do it because he had to, he did it as a way of showing his love for me. 

I am continually amazed at how God's word and His principles begin to seep deep into your heart when you spend time in the Word every day. You learn lots of helpful tips at a marriage conference but the one thing they try to hit home is that you must spend time in the Word and in prayer together. I love that this is a practice we've started and one our sweet baby boy will see lived out each day. Before facebook, before Sportscenter, before the weather outlook for the day, we make a point to spend even a few minutes in God's word. And, from my experience, it's what makes all the difference. Without God's word, we don't know His desire for our life, we don't know the fruits of the spirit, and without the fruits of the spirit, there is no desire to place others, particularly the one "other" you know more intimately than anyone else, before self. 

But, oh kids, do we have a long way to go! Thankfully the Lord is never finished with us. Tomorrow morning I'll awake with a clean slate and the chance to do it better than I did today. Praise the Lord for grace! :)


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

choosing life

I came across an article in which in a women details the abortion of her first child, a little boy who was diagnosed with Downs Syndrome at 22 weeks gestation. I was soooooo mad after reading it I almost couldn't think straight. As I write this, my son is doing somersaults (or hiccuping or something wild) in my belly. I say without a shadow of doubt in my mind that if Dr. Crosslin were to look at me tomorrow and tell me he was going to be born with an illness I would not even contemplate not bringing him into this world. 

I can't say that there aren't extreme circumstances in which that may be a reasonable option, I pray I never have to make that choice. I write not in judgment of this woman and her choice, but from the aching heart of a mother who can't imagine feeling my little boy kick and roll and punch one day and then willingly ending his life the next.


This is what my sweet baby boy looks like today. I can't imagine waking up tomorrow and deciding that whatever difficulties he would be born with would be too much to cope with. Perhaps what frustrates- and pains me- most is that this woman did not give God a chance to work in her child's life. I worship the one true God, the Great Physician and Healer. I watched two people I love very dearly receive a terrifying diagnosis when they were 30 weeks pregnant with their little boy. That sweet boy was born with a condition worse than the doctors had originally thought. I spent hours on my knees weeping and crying out loud to God to heal that precious boy's heart and make him whole. And He did. Luke is whole in Heaven today. Luke's mom and dad had the faith to believe that their God heals. They knew that if Luke lived his earthly life would be hard but that he was created by God on purpose and for a purpose and would fulfill an amazing calling. In fact, I think he managed to do more for the Kingdom in his 12 days than most of us do in 90 years. God reached the hearts of the more than 200,000 people who followed his story and countless others who rededicated themselves or came to Christ for the time. What if the Sextons chose not to birth Luke?

I sit here now wondering what kind of testimony the precious little boy from the article would have had. How would he have changed the world? Would he have won the 100 yard dash in the Special Olympics? Would he have been a tutor to other Downs Syndrome children? My heart aches over this but I find great comfort in knowing that the precious baby boy is being held in the arms of a loving Savior as we speak. He'll never stress over paying a mortgage, being teased at school, having his heart broken by love or losing someone he loves to death. If he had lived though, God would have used all of those trials to create a beautiful testimony.

It's no secret that I believe strongly on this matter. Serving on the board of a pregnancy center gives that away before I even mention my commitment to serve God more fully. There are no words to express the joy that fills my heart when I think about holding my sweet boy in less than 17 weeks. Even when I wish I was asleep at 4:30am, I can't help but smile as he kicks and stretches. I love the look in my husband's eyes when he feels our boy kick and watches my whole tummy bounce as our boy practices what must be baby tai-bo (he's got a mean kick!). There's truly nothing cooler in the world, except actually holding your baby, I guess. :)

Life just isn't easy. We were never promised that it would be. What God did promise was that we wouldn't have to do it alone. I pray you don't quit when circumstances are overwhelming. Sometimes the easy way out has the hardest consequences to deal with. When we lean on God for strength and keep trudging through as the waters rise, the reward is so great- often on earth, but definitely in Heaven. I have seen God heal in ways that are so supernatural He's the only one who could receive the glory for it. Pray those "sun stand still" prayers like Joshua did as he led the Israelites to battle. When we pour out all of our self, God is quick and willing to fill us with is power. 

Pray for healing for women who did not choose life. And while you're at it, pray for your local pregnancy center as they work to share God's love to their communities and encourage women to choose life. Be careful what you pray for though- you just mind end up knee-deep in that amazing ministry serving as a board chair, washing tubs and tubs of baby clothes and wishing you could give more each month. :)


Joshua 10:12-14 (NIV)

 12 On the day the LORD gave the Amorites over to Israel, Joshua said to the LORD in the presence of Israel:
   “Sun, stand still over Gibeon,
   and you, moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
13 So the sun stood still,
   and the moon stopped,
   till the nation avenged itself on[a] its enemies,
   as it is written in the Book of Jashar.
   The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. 14 There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the LORD listened to a human being. Surely the LORD was fighting for Israel!

Monday, April 4, 2011

172,800 minutes

Or 120 days
Or 3 months, 29 days
Or 10,368,000 seconds
Or 172,800 minutes
Or 2880 hours
Or 17 weeks until we have a baby!

Are worried about there being enough time left to get everything done?! Because I kinda am!!! 

Okay, deep breath. I am honestly not that worried, but seeing it written out does make my chest tighten a little. This perfectionist mama wants to have everything just so before our sweet boy gets here. A friend told me yesterday that I need to let go of some of that... she was talking about my weird paranoia over germs, but it applies to other stuff too, I think. :) PS: Just appease me and wash your hands before you ask to hold the baby. That way we avoid the awkward moment and I don't have to get one of those little signs to hang on his car seat that says, "Please wash your hands before touching mine". Some of you are laughing because you think I'm kidding... my family knows better.