Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Getting close!

We had our sonogram today! These are my favorite appointments because we get to see our sweet boy. Unfortunately, our doctor doesn't do the 4D sonograms so we have to deal with the 3D. We are just glad to have one at all! She got the sweetest picture of him. We could see his eyes, the bridge of his nose, and some very chubby cheeks!! I'm convinced that he already looks like his daddy.

The second she saw our sweet boy she commented on how big his head is....surprising right? (I mean it's not like his daddy has a big one hehe) His head measurements were showing to be 35 weeks...thats 2 weeks further than I actually am! HA. She took all his measurements and estimated that his weight was around 5 pounds 3 ounces!! WHOA... Shawn and I certainly weren't expecting that! I'm measuring to be 34 weeks. Needless to say he is growing like a weed. So am I...considering all the fluids I am retaining.

The last couple of days I have noticed some consistent contractions and some swelling in my hands and feet. Today on the other hand my contractions were very consistent. I had a couple during our sonogram which sparked the doctor to give me an exam just to make sure I wasn't dilating. I wasn't dilated but my cervix was very soft. After a few other questions and issues that sparked her interest she decided that she needed to put me on some medicine to stop my contractions.

She sent us home with a document on signs of preterm labor and what to do if I continue to have labor signs. She didn't seem too concerned but Shawn and I were kind of in shock! We have a strange feeling that this baby could be an April baby. We have 7 more weeks to go and baby is gaining half a pound a week...he's going to be big! She isn't a fan of bedrest so she just told me to cut down on physical activity and keep my feet propped up AND to take my meds every 4 hours...yay :(

Shawn and I had to do our grocery run after that and bought a large package of diapers. As Shawn was putting them in the basket he stopped and said "Holy moly...we are actually buying diapers!" I'm telling you...today actually set things in for us that we are having a baby! All-in-all we had a great appointment minus the contractions! We are praying that our sweet baby stays in there a few more weeks.

I know I say it all the time...but he is SO active!! My ribs are bound to break before this is all said and done. But...I wouldn't want it any other way :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Baby Update

Well, I think my sweet husband has been much better about blogging lately! I don't know about you but I love reading about how the Holy Spirit is making such wonderful adjustments in his life.

I haven't given our lovely readers (that would be you) an update on this sweet baby of ours in a while so I figured I should do so today. Where to begin?
1. He is growing like a weed!
2. There are times where I can't bend over or get up due to the sweet feet in my ribs.
3. Sleep is still very little at night...but not quite as bad as it was.
4. I CAN'T BELIEVE HE WILL BE HERE IN 8 WEEKS....8 WEEKS!
5. He gets the hiccups...a lot :)
6. He is so active. Some of his kicks take my breath away if they are just in the right spot.

As some of you know by now the doctor that we initially started out with when we moved here has decided to close her practice and move it else where. We were so bummed! She carried the same views about labor that we did and I was so excited to be able to go through this with her. Fortunately, there were two other doctors in Pampa that we could choose from.

We could choose the young doctor fresh out of school (this could be good right? She should be up to date on all the current research and studies about natural childbirth...right??) OR we could pick the lady who studied out of the country and is board certified in just about everything AND has been doing this for YEARS. We saw the pros and cons to both sides.

I was really excited to talk with the young doctor on her views because I just KNEW that she would be all about natural childbirth since she just got out of residency...WRONG!!!! I can't tell you how upset I was when I got off the phone with her. She believed the complete opposite!! So, I thanked her for her time and moved on to the next doctor...not expecting much. After I spoke with the other doctor's receptionist I knew right then and there that she would be the doctor for us!

I asked her about the doctor's philosophy on childbirth and she just went off!!! I didn't even have to ask questions..she told me everything I needed to know right then and there. I again thanked her for her time and before I could get off the phone I was BAWLING!! *This was my first "emotional" time throughout this pregnancy...and it felt good.* I tried sending Shawn a text to tell him about it and I couldn't even see the screen to type it. He called me almost immediately and was just as excited as I was. So, I called right back and scheduled our appointment with her. A week later I was in her office and may I say...I LOVE her! She is everything we were praying for in a doctor.

I know that I was so emotional about this because I knew that God heard our prayers and knew that we needed his guidance. I knew all along that God was going to lead us to the right doctor...but so quickly? After I was able to call and get everything squared away with the doctor's office I had to thank God for being so gracious. The tears just came flowing again...I think the last time I cried that hard was when Shawn moved to Arkansas. Oh geez...here come the tears again just thinking about it.

I am truly...TRULY amazed at our God. I have to admit that I was not so excited about moving to shamrock...especially since we were pregnant. But I have to tell you that this has been the greatest experience for Shawn and myself. Never have we been so involved in church and with each other. Shawn enjoys going to his United Methodist Men's Bible study on Thursday mornings at a local restaurant before going into work, we have joined the Wednesday night Bible study, I have been going to the United Methodist Women's Bible study on Tuesday morning, and we just started Sunday school this past Sunday.

As I have mentioned before, we are by far the youngest couple at the church but that is one of the reasons we love it so much. I can't tell you how much we have learned from everyone. I am in love with all of these women and their hugs...oh their hugs are so sweet. We are in complete awe of our Heavenly Father! He has taken this "not so wonderful" town and turned it into something that we have grown to appreciate and enjoy.He deserves all the praise for what He has done in our lives.

Here's such a wonderful verse to remember:
Matthew 7: 7-8
"Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."

I hope that at the end of your day you can sit back and realize all that God has done for you...small or big..and thank Him!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Me and God - Starting to Grow

How does a world class pianist get to where they are in their trade? Are they born that way? Do they just sit down at the piano and start playing complex symphonies? The answer is no. Anyone who is a professional or highly skilled at something all started at the same point...not knowing anything. This concept has held true for me in my life. I went to school for the first 21 years of my life. I know a lot more now than when I started. But in every subject, I had to undergo the same process to gain knowledge in a subject. That process basically consisted of studying, asking questions, and learning from experience.

For some reason, I looked at learning about God differently than learning about other things. Although I consider myself to be fairly simple, I am actually a pretty curious fellow who likes to learn new things. This could explain why I have books on everything from tying knots to carving twigs! Tragically, I can still only tie one kind of knot and cannot carve a twig any better than a beaver. What I began to realize was that the reason I never gained any knowledge in these subjects was because I didn't study the topics and gain experience by actually practicing what I was trying to accomplish. This was the same with my walk with God.

I think for the longest time, I was at a stand still in my relationship with Him. I knew who God was and was good about praying, but I never got much past that. I often got frustrated and discouraged because I didn't have the kind of faith that I often saw in other Godly people. I couldn't relate to what they were saying or understand some of the things they discussed. I guess the problem was that I felt I would learn everything I needed to know about God either from church or that "I would just feel it" in my soul or something to that effect. Fortunately for me, God finally got across to me that I needed to pursue Him and learn about Him just like I would any other topic....STUDY! As I mentioned in my last post, I began to study God's word with a renewed intensity and by using different methods. What I found was that the more I learned about God, the more I wanted to know. It was through the study of His word through the bible and the other resources I listed in my last post that I finally began to deepen my relationship with Him. I now truly have a passion for learning about God and what he expects of me. Another change I noticed as I sought God more often was a change in my sense of priority.

It's funny how the more you learn about God (which is the only thing that truly matters), the less important once so-called "important" things become. The prime example of this in my life involves Texas Tech football. Anybody who knows me knows I love the Red Raiders...(Git Your Guns Up!!). In fact, every 9 out of 10 clothing items I own has a double T on it. Tech used to be my passion. It was what I lived for. I would spend close to an hour a day (sometimes more...much more) learning about the team on the internet, listening to them on the radio, or going to practices and games. I could tell you every players life story and what size shoe they wore. I used to live and die by the outcomes of the games. Then things began to change. Don't get me wrong...I still love the Raiders, but God has helped me put them into perspective. Now, instead of spending and hour a day reading Texas Tech sports information, I spend it reading the bible, or talking with my wife about God-related thoughts I have been having. I still do read about TTU, but it most always is after I have spent time in the word and it's nowhere near the extent it used to be. I realize that Texas Tech football is still fun to watch and support, but it is just a game and an earthly University that will some day no longer exist.

What will exist is God, His Word, and the works of His people. I realize that I need to continue shifting my thoughts and efforts from pursuing my earthly passions all the time ( although I feel that hobbies are great...to an extent ) to pursuing Godly passions and causes. I trust that as my faith grows and I become closer to Him, my passions will begin to align with His. At least for now I know that I can look to bible to see what my passions "should be", and then work on pursuing them. In time, I will begin to see the world more as God sees it, and will want to honor Him by seeking and by serving Him on earth. Through God's blessing, I can already feel changes within me.

One are that has changed is how I view the world and other people. Along with the changes in my priorities listed above, I have noticed a difference in how I view others. It's amazing how someone who once seemed "annoying" when I wasn't connecting with God can now seem "unique and significant" simply because I now know that they are one of God's creations and that He loves them just as much as me. Now, instead of judging someone else for a problem that was "their own fault", I often feel sympathy for them because I know they are fallen humans just like me who are struggling in this world. More times than not, I see the pain of others that is simply caused by them trying to control their own lives instead of allowing God to be their lord. I find myself truly wishing they could know God and see what He has to offer them. I know as I Christian it is part of my job to introduce them to God and share with them what He can do, however, I am still human and struggle with doing this on a consistent basis ( I would value prayers of encouragement ). Anyways, I am rambling again, I hope that you might have taken something from all this. If nothing else, seek God daily as much as you can, try to do what He says in the bible, and your life will be changed for the better!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Me and God - Connecting with Him

As I begin to focus more on my relationship with God, a couple of concepts that were taught to me in the past have come to mind. The first was that God wants a personal relationship with all of His children.

The pastor at my old church in Lubbock used to say that we need to look at our relationship with God similarly to our relationships with others (spouse, family, friends) in our lives. We need to ask ourselves, what makes a good relationship? Well, for one you need to spend time together, you need to talk to the other person in the relationship AND you need to listen to them. I think sometimes we can think that having a relationship with God is a lot more complicated than it really is. Of course there are many things that lead up to accepting God in your life, but once you have truly done that...you simply need to spend time with Him, talk to Him, and listen to Him.

So, how do you talk to God? That's easy...prayer. I used to be the kind of guy who would always say my routine prayers right before I fell asleep. I once had my final "signing off" phrase for my prayers so memorized that I said it at the end of a voice mail I left one of my family members. The one problem that I found with saying prayers at bed time was that I often was too tired to focus and express myself to God. There were numerous times that I actually would fall asleep during prayer time. So, I decided to change things up a little. I now pray roughly 3 times a day. Once in the morning, once on my drive home from work, and once with my wife before bed. This has really worked for me because I am much more alert in the morning than at night. Also, praying several times a day allows me to feel connected to God throughout my day. The next question I asked myself was, "how do you listen to God?"

I hate to say it, but I have never have actually heard God speak to me through my ears. I think that in most cases, God doesn't communicate to us through our sense of sound. I can't just look up at the sky and let Him tell me about His day either. This could probably lead a lot of people to think that God doesn't talk to us very much, so we shouldn't be too concerned with listening. However, this just isn't the case. God has plenty to say to us, most of which was said a looooooooong time ago. Luckily, it was recorded in the bible and passed down through the generations. Unlike humans, God can say something once and it will be true for eternity. The bible tells us everything we need to know about God and what He expects of us. I honestly believe that reading the bible is the absolute key to growing your faith and relationship with God.

Sadly for me, just like I used to have trouble with my prayers, I used to have difficulties reading my bible consistently. I would either start off in Genesis and give up by Leviticus, or try some reading track in a study bible and not really remember what I was reading. Fortunately, just like with my prayer life, I made a decision to change things up in regards to reading God's word and it seems to be working for me. Nowadays, I try to read at least one chapter in the bible a day. Also, since I can remember things a lot better when I write them down, I take notes in a binder on each chapter that I read. I put the date and chapter that I am reading in the header, and then I just write whatever makes an impression on me. I have started reading the new testament, and now am in the book of Luke. While I may not be very far into my goal of completely reading the bible, I can honestly say that I now crave to read God's word, and rarely miss a day of reading. It has also amazed me just how much great information is in the bible. One of the first things I wanted to know when I re-focused my journey with God was, "what does He want of me?". Although I don't know everything He calls me to do, I have learned and retained a large amount of great insight and direction in only the first 3 chapters of the New Testament! I think that as Christians, we should always read the bible. When we get through reading the entire book, we should start right back over and become more familiar with it.

Well this is getting long again, so I will try to wrap things up. I hope that some of the different methods of connecting with God daily I used might help you in your walk. Please leave comments about different ways you take advantage of to connect with God so I can try them as well.

One more side note, I have also found a few websites that I visit during my lunch break at work and at home that help me connect with God throughout the day. they are as follows:
  • http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/Answers/11600606/ (short, simple, but very effective daily devotionals)
  • http://www.wayofthemaster.com/ (this is a great web-site with helpful resources, they also do a lot of witnessing to people that you can watch on line)
  • http://northway.thevillagechurch.net/ (this is the web site for a church in Dallas that my Brother and Sister-In-Law visit. They have great messages from various pastors)
  • http://www.lakeridgeumc.org/family/transcripts.asp (this is a list of sermon transcripts from my old church in Lubbock. The pastor keeps things very simple and does a great job of explaining things. You can also navigate this site and find video recording of some of his more recent sermons)

Roasted Chicken with Twice Baked Potatoes

Over the last year I have enjoyed making roasted chicken. Shawn and I love anything that we can eat a couple of times after we make it. There are so many things you can do with a whole roasted chicken! Here's how we made our roasted chicken this past Friday.

Start with your thawed chicken...clean the insides out. I like to put my seasonings on top and underneath the skin. So, see where the skin starts to come up by the opening of the bird? Take your fingers and gently pull the skin away from the breast. Be careful not to tear the skin.
Now, drizzle a good amount of olive oil over the entire bird. This will help the seasonings stick and help the bird from getting too dark.For our bird I used chicken seasoning, coarse Kosher salt (I'm in love with that stuff), pepper, and lemon. Shawn and I like ours to really have a good lemon flavor so I squeezed 3 whole lemons on and in the bird. Squeeze the lemon under the skin that you pulled up too. Now, since this is a big bird you need to go crazy on your seasonings so they will go throughout the chicken. I'm serious...don't worry if your entire box of salt ends up on the bird :)

After you squeeze all of your lemon, stuff them inside the bird and tie the legs shut.
Have your oven preheated at 425 degrees. Before you put your chicken in the oven I would suggest filling your roasting pan almost halfway with water...that way none of the stuff that dripped in the pan will cause a smokey mess. Stick a thermometer in between the thigh and the breast of the bird just to where it is in the center (make sense?) I didn't take a picture of that. Cook the bird until the temp reaches 165 degrees.
Shawn and I have the kind of thermometer that has a probe. You stick the probe in the bird and then the alarm sits outside of the oven and tells you when the bird is ready! See the hole by the thigh in the below picture? That's where the thermometer goes.
I'd say that looks pretty good!! I think it only took just over an hour to cook. So easy! Prep it, stick it in the oven and forget about it! I don't like to eat the skin so I scrape off all the seasonings that get black. Let your bird sit for about 10 minutes before you start cutting.
We loved how this one turned out!! The lemon flavor was fantastic.

Now to the potatoes!
Prick your potatoes with a fork all over before putting them in the oven. Bake them until they are tender...a little over an hour. We baked ours at the same time as the chicken.
Once they are tender cut them in half and scoop out the insides.

Put them in a mixing bowl with butter, milk, sour cream, cheese and chives (put in as much of these ingredients as you want). You can add whatever else you like to your potatoes. Mix them with a mixer as if you were making mashed potatoes...just make sure you don't add to much milk...just a dash will do. Salt and pepper to taste.
Now, start putting the mixture back in the potato skins. Sprinkle with more cheese and bake until the cheese is bubbly and the potatoes are warm in the center.
These can be reheated in the oven for about 30 minutes until the center is warm. They taste just as good!

Enjoy and of course let me know if you make either of these!! Be sure to allow yourself 1-2 hours for these two items...if you make them together like we did. Stay tuned for more yummy recipes!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Maternity Shirt

My dear friend Ashley shared this pattern on a maternity shirt that she found. *Just a little side note...she and her hubby are expecting baby number two...AND IT'S A GIRL!!* Anyways, she told me how easy it was and that she did it in just an afternoon..."yeah right!! There is no way I can make a shirt...I can hardly sew curtains..." Well, I decided to get over my fear and try it out. The pattern comes from Megan Nielsen. Click her name to go to her blog! She has a lot of fun sewing ideas!

My sister-in-law and I went to Joann's so we could pick out some fabric for our projects we were working on. I found some great fabric for the shirt and some handy
little tools to help me along the way. This was my first time to work with an actual pattern; all the other things I've made were copying something I already had around the house...or by just getting after it and seeing how it turned out. Without Halie's help...I probably would still be staring at the pattern wondering what to do next!

Well, I kept my phone close in case I needed to call Ashley...which I did. Much to my surprise I, too, was able to finish my very first shirt in just an afternoon! I was al
most in shock when I finished..."Did I really just make a shirt??? Me?? Project Runway...here I come!" :) Now, it is by no means perfect...I know where the flaws are but I don't think anyone else will.

JUST LOOK AT IT!!! MINE...ALL MINE. Fits like a glove too!

My sweet hubby was impressed and asked "How does it feel to wear something that
you made??"
"Well, it feels pretty fantastic...I must say"
I'm pretty sure this is a candidate for our maternity pictures that are coming up in just a few weeks!
**Thank you Halie and Ashley for your sewing tips!!**

Boots

Meet Boots.
Boots is our sweet Baby's first stuffed animal. Shawn and I were in Dallas a couple of weekends ago and made a trip to Build a Bear! I have to admit that when we walked in I wondered what on earth we were doing there. There was a little birthday party going on and about 10 little girls had their Hello Kitty/Jonas Brother bears ready to stuff/fluff/and dress.

Shawn and I loved the little dogs...since we are dog people...so that's what we chose. Once we got started we began to have some fun with it. We got to choose how fluffy we wanted him, put a heart in him, dress him, name him...the list just goes on! We felt like kids again. It's kind of crazy to think that there is a store dedicated to stuffing/dressing/naming animals.

Anyways, we immediately found some overalls, boots, and a cap...all to cute to pass up. After you pick out all of the goodies for your animal you get to name him! Shawn picked out the name Boots...fitting right? Just look at his cute little cowboy boots :) Once all is said and done, you get a "birth certificate" for your animal.

Boots is patiently waiting for his little buddies arrival...and so are we. We've had to be very careful with Boots and Wes...for those of you who know Wesley...he LOVES his stuffed animals!

Shawn and I had lots of fun at the store and can't wait to see how our little man plays with his Boots. I would highly suggest all of you parents/parents to be making a trip to the Build a Bear store!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Me and God

As you may have read in one of my previous posts, this entire process of pregnancy and preparing for fatherhood has really been an eye opener for me regarding my relationship with God. Please allow me to set the groundwork for this post...
All of this got started back around September, 2009. As soon as Jamie and I found out we were pregnant, I instantly had a deep desire to give my Son the best life had to offer. I also developed a growing sense of protectiveness in me towards my Son. I started to realize just how dangerous the world can be for adults, let alone children. I wanted to be sure that this little guy would be safe both in the womb and in life in the real world after he is born. As these two desires grew and I began thinking more and more about them, I realized that I truly was almost helpless to provide these things for my Son. How can I give my son the best the world has to offer? I am limited by my abilities, talents, income, location, many other things. How can I keep my Son safe in this world? Sure I can keep him safe while I am awake and with him, but what about while he's in the womb, sleeping, sick, at school? This brought me to the "ah-hah" moment that while I am limited in what I can do for my son, God isn't. Although I want what is best for Him, God is the only one who (1)knows what's best for him and (2) is the only one who can give it to him. God is the only one who can watch over my little guy right now while he's in Jamie's womb as well as every second over every day no matter where he is.

After realized how helpless I was an began to experience the fears of my inabilities, it got me thinking that I probably wasn't the only one to go through this. I suddenly realized that my parents and many other parents around the world have probably had very similar thoughts for their soon-to-be-children. That led me to the question, "If my parents were limited in what they could do for me, how did I manage to live a blessed life these past 24 years?" The answer to this question was the same answer that triggered my previous "ah-hah" moment...God. After thinking more and more about the answer to this question, I realized that the only reason that I am alive and thriving today is because God has been gracious and merciful to me from the moment I was conceived. He has blessed me immensely and continues to do so each and every day. I think that I have always known that God loves me and has blessed me, but I didn't realize just how much until I started wanting His love and blessings for my son.

Therefore, I went from wanting what is best for my Son and wanting to be his protector to wanting him to have access to the source of the answers of my two desires... which can only be provided through a relationship with God. This brought both Jamie and I to wanting nothing greater than for our Son to have a personal relationship with God. So, how do we do that? Well, when we first conceived, we went and spoke with our pastor at the church we went to in Lubbock. At that time, (which was before my "ah-hah" moments and later realizations) he told us that we cannot expect our children to apply something to their life (such as a relationship with God) unless we consistently make it a part of our lives.

O.K., I know this is getting long, but hang in there. I guess all of this could be summed up by the following:
1. God has blessed me and given me so much in this life that I am extremely un-deserving of. He has protected me in this sometimes hostile world and brought me up through my childhood to where I am today.
2. I want the same blessings I received from God for my Son, and I am not capable of providing for him everything that God has provided for me.
3. I know that I cannot expect my Son to have an active relationship with God unless I do in my life.
4. Therefore, I need to actively pursue my relationship with God and go from knowing Him casually to knowing him personally. (to put this on a timeline, I came to this realization around November of 2009(

This brings me to the whole point of this post. I need to know God on a personal level and experience Him daily so that my children may come to know God. After I came to this conclusion, I truly began to actively seek God consistently for the first time in my life. I have had a relationship with God for as long as I can remember, but it was not a "personal relationship" that I pursued every day. It was more of a casual relationship that grew little by little on Sundays and at night when I prayed. So, I can honestly say that I now know Him more today than I ever had and am looking forward to getting to know Him more and more each day.

As a new part of this blog, I am going to be sharing with you some of my experiences with God and things I learn about Him. I am doing this for 2 reasons....
1. Teaching others about something is the best way to actually learn it and retain it. In all honesty, this is just as much for me as it is for you. By posting God-related blogs, I will need to continue in my pursuit of God's word which will help me grow in my relationship.
2. Hopefully I can encourage you to seek God more in depth and become closer with Him. I will be letting you know about resources or strategies that have helped me grow in my faith. A lot of you will probably think that my postings about God are very "simple" and "basic", but that's where I need to start. Like I said earlier, I have a lot of work to do and need to set my foundation before I can start building.

Anyway. Sorry this was so long. I just wanted everyone to know where I was coming from before I started sharing my experiences with God on this blog. Please feel free to comment on anything I say. I want to grow with you. If I interpret something incorrectly, correct me and help me to better understand. Let me know of things that have helped you in your walk with Christ. I am sure I have more to learn from most of you than you do from me. In any way, God is great!

**I would also like to note that my beautiful wife has been right there beside me during this process. You could replace my name with hers in the post and it would still be true. She will be sharing as well and I am blessed that she desires to grow in her relationship with God.***