Monday, December 31, 2012

Lydia is 5!

Our sweet Lydia turns 5 today!!  


She was born weighing 7lbs and appeared healthy.  

After a couple of hours, we learned that one lung had collapsed & was filling up with liquid.  The other lung had pneumonia.  I have never felt such sorrow as I did during this time.  

She fought hard and was able to come home much sooner than the NICU doctor originally thought.  This is her holding her daddy's hand.

Best cheeks ever!

Taken by Journeys with Barefeet Photography








Taken by Fran's Photography









Taken by Moments Captured by Emily









She is absolutely amazing!

Happy "5th" birthday to our sweet Lydia!!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

K-Mart, a transgender, & prayer



It’s Christmas Eve.

I’m frantically walking the aisles of K-Mart.

I turn down the baking aisle and I see him standing at the end of the aisle.

Call it curiosity, or what have you, but  I was drawn to him.

His dark, long hair, deep eyes, & pale skin.   Who was he?  What is his story?

He must have felt my stare and simply gave me a smile.  With sincerity in my eyes, I smiled back.

We passed by each other and I went back to looking for sugar.

He must have been as curious as I was for he came back around to make conversation with me.

“The choices are slim tonight aren’t they?”  he jokingly asked.

“Yes, they are.  It seems as though I’m out of luck when it comes to finding what I need.”  I replied.

With a 6-pack of Blue Moon and a few cans of soup, he said, “It looks like my items will have to hold me over until after Christmas.”

“Do you not have plans for Christmas Day?”  I genuinely questioned.

“No, I don’t.  I’m new in town and am not partial to celebrating holidays.  They’re not really special anyways.”  He said.

By the tone in his voice, I didn’t buy it.  He stood in front of me in despair.  His life seemed to take some dark turns.

“Why don’t you come over to our house?”

As the words slipped from my mouth, my heartbeat soared.  I began to question myself.  I don’t even know this guy.  Some may call me foolish.

But, I don’t really care what the world will call me.

“Oh, no.  I couldn’t do that.  I’m so shy that I would just sit there.  I wouldn’t want to intrude.”  He gratefully explained.

“Oh, but you won’t intrude.  Trust me, all of us need someone to spend Christmas with.  If you change your mind, let me know.  I‘ll be in here for awhile.”

With that, we said our goodbyes.

I walked a few more aisles.  My thoughts were consumed with him.

As I turned down one end of the chips aisle, he turned down the other end.  We faced each other again.

My palms became sweaty & I looked into his sad eyes and smiled again.

“Hey, what’s your name?”  He asked me.

“I’m Jackie.  What is your name?”

“I’m Jayme*.”

We shook hands.

“It’s very nice to meet you, Jayme.  I’d like to give you my phone number.  If you change your mind, our dinner starts at 4pm tomorrow.  Give my husband and I a call.  We’d love to have you over.”

He handed me his Iphone & I plugged my number into his cell.  It wasn’t until I left the store that I realized  I had made a mistake.

I didn’t get his number.

In our brief interactions, I realized that most of us celebrate Christmas as the day of our Savior’s birth.  The day that brought us hope, love, peace, joy….

Joy.

It is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, coming just second on the list behind love.
It captivated the focus of Jesus Christ. For the joy that was set before Him, He endured the cross, scorned the shame and sat down on the right hand of the throne of God.

Joy.

Joy stakes everything on the truth that death could not hold Jesus Christ in the grave. Any circumstance, past present or future, cannot alter that.

For we will one day be reunited with Him.

But to some, like Jayme, it’s just another holiday without any real significance.

I desire for his phone call.

I desire for Jayme, born a man, but now a ‘woman’, to come into our family.

The radical love inside of me wants to share with him the hope that Christ brings.

We don’t just get together on Christmas to celebrate his birth.

No, we celebrate His life, love, & resurrection on a daily basis.  For He is that GOOD!

For Christ can redeem even the worst of sinners, trust me on this.  I once was one of the worst.

I believe without a doubt that Christ can do this for Jayme.

So until I receive his call, I will pray.

Not like a “I’ll pray for you” type of statement, but a bold, begging woman prayer.

A prayer that sends a nagging tug on his heart for something greater.

A prayer that ignites a bush to catch aflame and make his knees tremble.

A prayer that strips away despair  and replaces it with joy.

For it is our Mighty God that can move mountains.

And without a shadow of doubt, I know that He can tap the shoulder of one man.  A tap that turns him
around and into the arms of His grace.

Of His mercy.

Of His forgiveness.

As Jayme left the store, he shouted out to me, “If I see you again, don’t be a stranger, Jackie.”

I smiled and secretly promised, “I’m going to carry you to the feet of Jesus.  You deserve just that.”





*Name changed.






Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas, a devil tattoo, & the ICU

This year, our Christmas started off like any other Christmas morning.  Our kids woke up at 4:40am anxious to dive into their Christmas presents.  Sergio and I frantically opened up boxes, put in batteries, and played with each child.  At around 10am, we kicked cleaning & cooking into high gear to prepare for our dinner guests.

Oh, our sweet dinner guests.  Let me introduce them to you...

Our friends, "K" and "J", joined us tonight.  We have a deep respect for this couple and our kids absolutely adore them.

We also welcomed two homeless men, "J" & "D", into our home.  We've developed a strong relationship with both men over the past year.

Our final guests were the "L" family.  While eating at Moe's Restaurant one day, Sergio became acquainted with the manager, "E".  After talking for a little bit, Sergio invited his family over to our home for Christmas dinner.  My husband is amazing like that.  He can talk to a stranger and in a matter of minutes, they are friends.  I admire this about him.

When "E" and his family arrived at our home, I was curious about their story.  I immediately noticed on his neck a tattoo that stretched from his shoulder up to his ear.  His neck displayed a picture of a devil with the words "El Diablo" (devil in English) inked into his skin.

Our dinner began shortly after our guests arrived.  I sat at the table in silence.

I admired each guest sitting in my dining room.  For we are the "once was".

Let me explain that a little better.

Each one of us could say one of the following...


"I once was a drunk."

"I once was in prison."

"I once was addicted to porn."

"I once was an adulterer."

"I once was a harlot."

"I once was controlled by my anger."

"I once was a liar."

"I once was ruled by pleasing others."

The list can go on.  For we are a table of sinners; recovering addicts of deception. 

Shortly after our dinner ended, "D", experienced a series of seizures.  I watched my husband care for the 53 yr old, homeless man as if he were his own brother.  I watched "E" step up and genuinely help a man that he did not know.  And as I called 911, I watched "J" take all the kids upstairs to play until the paramedics carried "D" away.  

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. 
Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,
not looking to your own interests 
but each of you to the interests of the others. 
-Philippians 2:3-4

The evening is coming to a close and I sit here alone.  All our guests have left, the children are asleep, and Sergio is by "D's" side as he lies in the hands of the ICU doctors & nurses.  

And my mind drifts to Jesus. 

Oh, sweet Jesus, you know us all far too well.  
We most certainly resemble those that are listed in your own genealogy.  
For we are sinners in need of you, Emmanuel.  
Come, Lord Jesus, Come.






















Sunday, December 23, 2012

Oh, how I want to be a better wife....



Sergio & I were married young.  He was only 20 & I was 22.  We dated off & on for less than a year and engaged for only 5 months.  It was a whirlwind of an adventure.  We grew up fast that first year of marriage.  


We had no clue what we were doing.  

Sergio and I were are highly, overly-passionate adults.  


We fought passionately.

We made up passionately.  

We didn't really know how to respect each other.     

The word "submission" was not in my vocabulary.  I was a strong, independent lady who thrived off of freedom.  I learned quickly that this doesn't work well in a marriage.  

From the day we said, "I Do", we promised that the word "divorce" would not be in our marriage vocabulary.  And for the most part, we've stuck to that promise. 


But, it's been difficult.  In our almost 12 years of marriage, we've had our share of difficulty and have matured greatly.  Thankfully, we rarely fall back into our "younger" habits of communicating.  

Except for today.

I became quick to anger, spoke harshly, and went back into my old habits that disrespect my husband.  

My attitude lit a candle of filth that filled up our lovely home.  

It wasn't pretty.  

I was, by far, the ugliest girl in Nashville by my words & actions.  



He deserves so much more.

But, how do I become a better wife?!  

So, like any other question I have, I opened up my Bible, I asked Google.  (It's okay to laugh!) 

I read a million articles on 'How to be the Perfect Wife' (Pah-leaze!), 'How to be a Good Wife', & 'What a Good Wife Does for Her Husband'.  The lists were exhausting, but a few had some good 'food for thought'. 

Here's what I've either learned or been reminded of this afternoon:

  • Fight Right!  Don't let anger take over because it may cause you to speak words that you'll later regret. Even when you don't agree with your husband, you need to respect his opinion/viewpoint.
  • Humility!  When you're wrong, ADMIT it.  You need to learn to respond to arguments and remain rational so you can recognize & apologize when you've made a mistake.
  • Be Understanding!  You may never agree on certain issues.  That's okay.  It's not the end of the world when you can't agree on an issue.  What makes a huge difference is how you resolve and come to a conclusion.  
  • Talk to your husband, not about him!  When in a discussion, speak your frustrations to him respectfully.  Do not mock him or make fun of him.  Do not talk at him, but to him.  Express your needs in a gentle way.  
  • Send "I messages"!  Instead of accusing him of not meeting your needs, focus the conversation on yourself.  For example, "I feel less important when you don't arrive home on time as promised."
  • Listen to him speak before responding!  Listen to what he says and graciously repeat back what he has just said to you so that he knows you are hearing him correctly.  We all have our filters that can alter our view on a situation.  Our counselor from a few years ago called this the "Drive-Thru Method".  You pull up, tell me what you need/want, & I then repeat it back to you EXACTLY as you've said.
  • Avoid passing judgment!  After he is done speaking, offer any solutions that may help in meeting your need.  Be realistic and kind when speaking.
  • Give each other the benefit of the doubt!  For the majority, your husband loves you and wants you to succeed.  Don't be quick to think the worst.  He isn't out to get you, but to help you.  Honor him in that. 
This is not an exhaustive list, but rather a good place to start (after reading your Bible, of course!).  


Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go light candles to fill our home up with the mixed scents of love, humility, and apology.