Weigh In Wednesday: Week 2

Hi everyone, I hope you are having a great week.  I’m not going to write about my weigh in for this week as my husband is home and I don’t want to spend a bunch of time on here, but I’ll leave the video below in case anyone is interested in hearing how my week two diet went.

I’ll be back soon with some more updates.

Love to you all,

Amber

Weekly Weigh-In #1 (With Video)

Hi everyone, happy Wednesday.  I still don’t have a video editing program, however, I will be able to record and upload my weekly weight loss videos every week since I can get the video recorded in one shot without a need for editing.  From here on out I will be sharing weekly weigh-in videos every Wednesday.

I’ll share on the video how I did every week along with other topics and then just in case you don’t have time to watch a video, I will have my results available on the blog with a quick update on my weekly progress.

On Tuesday, July 8, I stepped on the scale and realized it was time to finally make a change and get serious about losing weight.  The next morning I got right to work and began day 1 of my adventure to lose weight and become a healthier and happier version of myself.  This first week of clean eating has went much better than I could have expected and I’m really proud of myself for making healthy decisions and staying in control.

My exercise, on the other hand was not what I wanted it to be.  I only worked out for 3 nights during the last week and was only able to do 30 minutes of cardio on the elliptical.  I really was hoping to get a one hour workout in, doing 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training, but after 30 minutes on the elliptical, I was done for.

With the clean eating I’ve noticed that I’m experiencing a lot of detox symptoms, of which I won’t go into great detail over.  I’ve felt exhausted and weak and I think that has made it more difficult to get exercise in.  However, with this next week my goal is to push through the exhaustion and make exercise a top priority.

My husband is going to be my work-out partner and will encourage me to push a little harder and go a little longer.  I am hopeful that by next week I’ll be feeling a lot better and more energized.

This week has also been difficult in terms of emotions.  I am feeling overwhelmed by how much weight I have gained in the last year and overwhelmed by how far I have to go and how long this journey is going to take.

I also had the unpleasant experience of receiving a hurtful comment on one of my blog posts regarding my weight.  It wasn’t a post where I was talking about weight loss, but at the end of my blog, I shared family pictures that we had just taken in June.  Some random person left a comment saying, “No wonder your struggling to get pregnant, your overweight.”

First of all, nice grammar.  Second of all, I cried big time.  Yes I know, I am overweight, and perhaps I am being too sensitive, but that comment linking my miscarriage struggles to my weight was incredibly hurtful.  In the video I go into more detail about the comment and how it made me feel and even shared some lessons I learned from that comment.  But I think I just want to forget about what the person said and move forward.

I shared with you all in the my last post that life happens and there are going to be struggles that you go through while trying to reach your goals.  You can either let it knock you down or inspire you to keep pushing forward.  This time, instead of looking to food to comfort me over the sadness of the comment, I decided to work even harder.  Honestly, it was probably the best thing I could have read because it only made me want this even more for myself.

I’m really proud of myself for my first week and I think that I’m making baby steps in the right direction.  I just have to stay committed and keep working hard and this journey will pay off.

For my first weekly weigh-in, I stepped on the scale this morning and lost, drum roll please: 3 pounds!!!! Yippee!

At first I was a little disappointed that I had not lost more, but now that I’ve had time to reflect on the loss I feel content with that as a good starting point and I’m hopeful to lose again next week.  And as my husband reminded me this morning, if I keep this up in just one month’s time I will be 10 pounds lighter.  He is such an encouragement in my life and I am so thankful to God for his love and kindness.  He has been very faithful to me through my grief and depression and weight gain.  I hope and pray that I will be able to be faithful back to him by losing this weight, becoming healthier, and looking good for my husband.  His kindness towards me inspires me to be a better wife.

Something that felt really good this week was hearing my husband tell me, “I’m proud of you for sticking to your diet and eating healthy.”  I think having him on my team is going to make this a successful journey.

Every week in the videos and on the blog I will share my progress and how I did.  Although I am nervous for the hurtful comments that I might get regarding my weight, I’m hopeful that there will be more good responses than bad.  I really believe that sharing these videos on YouTube will be a source of accountability for me as well as an encouragement to myself and hopefully to others.

Every week I will also share a weekly bible verse that inspires my weight loss.  This week’s bible verse is:

“Forgetting what is behind and straining towards what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

I think that is a great verse to start my journey.  It’s important to forget the past mistakes, the past failures, and for me personally, the sadness of loss and grief that have made this journey all the more difficult.  What’s important is focusing on the future and working towards the goal to win the prize and believing in myself and trusting that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Every four weeks I will share changes in my measurements in my arms, waist, hips, thighs, and bust.  I figured every four weeks we will hopefully have a change.  I’m also thinking about doing a once a month body shot to show the progress of my weight loss, but that really depends on if we can even see a difference in one month.

Well, I think I’ve about covered everything and if you are interested in watching my VLOG, check that out below from my YouTube channel.  (P.S. I started to upload this video on Wednesday night around 9 but it has taken a long time to upload on YouTube so it’s actually not posted until Thursday.  FAIL! I’ll work on it earlier next week).

 

Thanks for reading and God bless you,

Amber

Grayson’s Sunset

Jonathan and I started talking this afternoon about trying this month.  I will be ovulating this week and I asked if he wanted to try.  He started to get sad and said that he is worried and not sure he’s ready this month.

He asked why I wanted to try and I said, “So I can give you a baby for your birthday.”  The due date if we conceive this month would be April 9, which is just two days before Jon’s birthday.

He replied, “What if we end up losing another baby and then April is another sad month for us?”

I stopped talking for a moment to think and reflect on that fear, but said, “We just have to pray that God won’t give us a baby unless the baby is going to live.” And then I started to check my email and noticed one from Carly Marie, the artist from the Seashore of Remembrance.

My sunset picture for baby Grayson:

Grayson

Perfect timing, God.  Always, always perfect timing.

Jonathan and I stopped talking about our plans for this month, but for the moment, we are in awe of this beautiful sunset with our son’s name and beyond thankful for God’s beauty and the compassion and artwork of Carly Marie.

Blessings,

Amber

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

Wake Up Call

Last night, I stepped on the scale for the first time in months.  I think the last time I stepped on the scale was in November when I was doing the whole 30/Paleo challenge.  By the way, we loved the Paleo diet and thought it was easy and satisfying.  We ran into a bit of a financial issue though and realized the diet was just a bit too expensive for us to continue.

I’m not even going to tell you how sad that made me.  I just found it really easy to lose weight on the Paleo diet and I actually enjoyed the food.  And I was so hopeful that by doing the Paleo diet I would not only look better and feel better, but have a rainbow baby in my arms.  And I was hopeful that it would help my husband with his restless leg syndrome and knee pain.  He has a lot of trouble sleeping at night because of his leg problems and I just really wanted to see if the Paleo diet would help relieve some of his problems.

I totally could have lost weight and still had healthy food without doing the Paleo diet, but I struggle with self-control and the meals that I’ve been cooking over the last several months to save money have just been so incredibly boring and not exciting at all, which has led to snacking on junk.

All this to say, while I was unable to do the Paleo diet, it was no excuse to eat unhealthy foods and not take care of my body.

So last night, I bit the bullet and stepped on the scale to get a hard dose of reality.

It was brutal.

And at this rate, if I don’t make a change quickly, I feel like I’m going to end up getting sick or have a heart attack.  I’m not even kidding.

I can’t believe I’ve let it get this bad and go this far.  I don’t want to put all the blame on depression because I’ve had years of unhealthy habits to make me this way, but in the last year, I feel like my weight has just really skyrocketed and I believe that is partly because a huge part of me has just not had the energy to care.  It almost feels like every time I try to make a change and make my life better, something goes wrong again, and I fall all over again.

Last year, for instance, I started eating healthier and working out every day.  I was doing an hour on the elliptical every day and really enjoying myself.  And then in September, I got pregnant for a 4th time, and miscarried for a 4th time.

And I should have continued to work out anyways, but I didn’t.

I did the opposite of what this verse tells you to do, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

I gave up.  For months, I just gave up on life.  I’ve let all the hits that the Devil has thrown my way knock me down and I’ve given up and settled for the path of least resistance.

I’ve sat around feeling sad and defeated forgetting that my Savior Jesus, died on the cross, and overcame the grave for me.  “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

I’m a believer.  I have the power of the Holy Spirit living in me.  There is power in the name of Jesus and if I can take hold of that which has been given to me, than I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

When a diet is too expensive, should I give up?

No! I should get more creative and find ways to eat healthier on a budget.

When I get a negative pregnancy test, should I give up?

No! I should keep working hard and believe that God will not forget me.

When the job I was excited for doesn’t work out, should I give up?

No! I should take joy in a different path and trust that God will provide.

When we struggle with getting out of debt, should I give up?

No! I should remind myself that with prayer, discipline, and persistence, our efforts will pay off one day.

Now I will give myself some grace right now to say that I haven’t been a total failure.  There have been a lot of things that I have overcome in my life and most recently in my journey through recurrent miscarriage and infertility.  There have been amazing things that I’ve been able to accomplish and do that I would have never dreamed of doing.

But what I need to do now is remind myself of what I have been able to accomplish through faith and work hard to defeat these obstacles currently standing in my way.

Standing on the scale was a wake up call that I desperately needed.  A wake up call to remind me that I’m wasting my life and if I’m not careful, I might not have a life to keep living.

One of my life goals is to meet God in Heaven and hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”  Disclaimer: I believe that I am saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone and his death on the cross and resurrection from the dead.  But I believe that each believer will be rewarded in Heaven for the things done on earth.  Not that anything we could ever do could earn our salvation, but that we were created in Christ Jesus for good works.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:8-10

I don’t want to waste my life and let depression and all of the losses I’ve had win.  I want to be victorious.  I want to overcome by God’s grace.  I want to see redemption and miracles happen in my life.  I want to see that there is more to life than loss and heartache.

And I believe that God wants that for me too.

I woke up this morning with a plan in place and determination in my step.  I made some eggs with apple slices for breakfast and then headed to the store with my grocery list and meal plan in place.

To save money, I have a few creative things that I will be doing.

First, my husband will not be eating the same food as me.  He will still be eating healthy food, but it will be a lot cheaper than my food as I won’t have to cook gluten free for him.  Once we have some debt paid off, hopefully he can get on the same diet as me, but in the mean time, this will allow me some room in the budget for my diet.

Secondly, I’m doing a form of the Paleo diet, if you will in that most of the diet is Paleo, but I will be supplementing a few non-Paleo items.  For instance, most mornings I will be eating eggs, vegetables and a little fruit, but a few mornings a week, I will save money by eating homemade gluten free oatmeal with frozen blueberries.  For my dinners I will switch between a side of sweet potato bites (I’ll share recipes in the future) and brown rice.  When I am able to I will also have fresh steamed vegetables as a side, but to help budget wise, I’m also going to have frozen vegetables cooked on the stove top.  I don’t know about you all, but produce seems to add up pretty quickly for me and purchasing my produce from the freezer section every now and then is a big money saver.

Thirdly, don’t get mad at me now because I have no choice and I wish I did but I will not be eating organic food.  I know, you have a huge desire right now to tell me how awful that is.  Please refrain from doing so.  When we are able to eat organic food, we will gladly do so.  If you are able to do so, be thankful and appreciate that blessing, but don’t look down on others because they struggle to do so.

We will also add more to our grocery budget by saving in other areas.  Like today, I have the air conditioning up really high.  This one sucks during the summer time in Texas.  Really sucks.  But, you make do and chug ice water all day long and turn on some fans.

On top of eating healthier and cutting out all sugar and junk food, I’m also going to start working out for an hour every day and work on being more disciplined by having a daily schedule planned out so that I’m not sitting around like a slob doing nothing.

I started day 1 today and woke up determined to start off on the right foot.  I cooked breakfast for me and my husband: eggs and fruit.  Then I did my hair and put on make up, put my grocery list together and headed to the store.  When I got home, I put my whole chicken in the crock pot to cook for salads for the week and made my homemade salad dressing.  For lunch I had sandwich stuff leftover from the previous week, just because my salad ingredients weren’t ready yet.  When it cooled down in the evening we took our dogs to the dog park and then afterwards headed to the gym for a quick 30 minute work out.  I wanted to do a full hour, 30 minutes of cardio and 30 minutes of strength training, but after 30 minutes on the elliptical I was starving and felt like I was going to pass out.  I told myself not to overdo it and to remember to take baby steps, and we headed home to make dinner.  For dinner, I made baked chicken thighs in the oven, a side of brown rice for me (baked potato for my husband) and sugar snap peas.  It was delicious! The kitchen was a mess so I got that cleaned up and then de-boned my whole chicken.  After I cooked the chicken in the crock pot, I put it into storage containers for my salads for the week and then placed the bones and skin back into the crock pot and added water.  I’ll let this cook overnight and then strain it in the morning for homemade chicken broth.

I feel exhausted after all of the grocery shopping, kitchen prep, cooking and cleaning, but I feel accomplished and happy.

It’s time to kick depression and all of the sad things that have happened to me to the curb.  It’s about time I move on to bigger and better things!

Blessings to you all,

Amber

 

 

Videos?!?

Hi ladies! I hope you are all having a fantastic weekend.  Ever since I made the mistake of eating gluten on Monday, I have really been suffering with stomach pain.  Last night I went to bed feeling dizzy and sick to my stomach, and I woke up this morning feeling the same way.  Now I even have body aches all over, so that is a real bummer.

A good reminder to NEVER, EVER eat gluten again.  The consequences of that action gave me just the kick in the butt and the motivation I needed to get more creative in the kitchen and start trying new recipes.  I’ve increased our food budget a bit because of it, but hopefully I’ll be able to get creative not only in the kitchen but also with our budget to get our debt paid off.

Speaking of debt and all things frugal living, I owe you all some videos that I’ve been talking about for some time.

The only problem is, I have to purchase an editing program for the videos and we are busy working on our first goal in the Dave Ramsey plan: baby step #1, getting $1,000 in savings.  We are $100 away from reaching that goal, so God willing, I’ll be able to purchase the editing program shortly and then I can start uploading my video series.

In the mean time, I’ll let you in on how we are doing on the Dave Ramsey plan.  The first two weeks, went so well and the cash-envelope system worked out very well.  The next two weeks after that was just one mistake after another.  We had our $1,000 in savings, and then spent some of it! We are finally starting to get back on track, but it is frustrating making mistakes and then having to get back on the horse again.

I’m actually thinking about taking the money out of our savings account and giving it to Jonathan to hide in a safe place, away from me! I know that sounds really pathetic, but I have zero self control at times, and if it boils down to it that is just what I’m going to have to do to reach our goals.

In the mean time, I’ll work on my self control, but while I’m waiting to grow up a bit, I think I’ll have to resort to drastic measures like having my husband hide money from me.  SIGH! I’m so glad he is so understanding and supportive of me – he laughs at me when I admit to my mistakes and makes me feel less guilty about it all.

I also need to sit down and work on recording the rest of my miscarriage stories.  I have the story of my first miscarriage already up on YouTube from earlier in the year, but now it is time to film the others.

The second miscarriage story will be the most difficult to talk about.  I think I’m at a place now where I can talk about it without crying, but it will be difficult to remember all of the details and events of that time.  It was over 2 and 1/2 years ago, after all.

I’ll also record a video talking about my 3rd miscarriage that ended at 10 weeks pregnant, but I’m not sure I’ll make videos talking about the 4th and 5th miscarriage.  The first 3 miscarriages were very significant in my faith journey and important for me to tell, while the last two miscarriages were chemical pregnancies, and there just really isn’t all that much to talk about.  Perhaps I might make one video talking about the 4th and 5th miscarriage together.  That could work!

I remember when I first lost baby Matthew, my 2nd baby, I didn’t want my losses to have happened for no reason.  I wanted to be able to use my own suffering to help other women who have experienced miscarriage.  Although, I have blogged about my journey, I feel I’ve often remained more quiet than I would have liked to.

The blog has been very therapeutic for me, but I would like to extend to videos in the hopes that I’ll reach more people and be able to encourage others going through similar circumstances.  My ultimate goal in life is to lead people to Christ and I believe that through compassionate ministry, you can do just that.

I’m feeling pretty exhausted right now so I’m going to climb back in bed and get some more rest, but I’ll leave you all with some adorable family pictures that we had taken for our church directory.

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Aren’t my dogs just the cutest? LOL! It was totally my husband’s idea to get pictures taken with our dogs.  I’m glad we did :-)

P.S. I’ve updated my about me page and my timeline of events.  Be sure to go check out the timeline of events to find out if we are planning to TTC this month or continue on with our break.

Love and prayers to you all,

Amber

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The good:

Every year after teaching VBS, I always leave the week feeling refreshed and inspired to pump up my ministry and get myself fully committed and involved in the work that God is doing.  Does anyone else ever feel this way after you participate in an important ministry? It just always leaves me in awe of the things God is doing in our world and inspires me to get out there even more.

The Bad:

Even though I had an amazing week at VBS, I was still feeling pretty emotional Friday at home thinking of my babies and my current state of having empty arms.  But God comforted me throughout the day as I read through the bible and played some worship music.  I found this playlist on YouTube for the broken-hearted and I absolutely recommend listening to this anytime you are having a hard day:

They also have a playlist number 2 and 3 on there, just in case the tears keep flowing.

Some more good:

Friday night on my Facebook Sunday school class’ page I saw a service opportunity for the next morning to help clean one of the transitional homes for a homeless ministry in our area that our church has recently started to work with.  My back was aching from teaching VBS, but I just needed to have something meaningful to do to get my mind off of the sadness of infertility and miscarriage.

The cleaning was pretty easy because enough people showed up to get the job done quickly and it was fun getting to catch up with two of my friends.

I especially enjoyed praying as a group over the house for whoever would live there to feel God’s love and peace and be drawn to Him through this ministry and the work that the Pastor does in the homeless community.  Some of the small groups within my church have recently started to get involved with this homeless ministry (I’m hoping soon our entire church will really step up and help out).  The ministry is led by one of the Pastor’s in our area and his wife.  With the support of their church, they feed the homeless every weeknight and Saturday mornings.  On Tuesdays and Saturdays, they have a special devotional before the food so that they aren’t just meeting a physical need but a spiritual need.

One of my friends who is on the mission’s committee in our church and led our bible study group during the spring has really paved the way to start getting our church involved in helping this other church and sharing the work load.  It’s a small start, but we are hoping that it will continue to grow.  Two of the small groups within our church and the Act Teens mission girls are now serving lunch one Saturday a month and reading a devotional.

The pastor of that ministry has also purchased transitional housing for the homeless to help those who want to change their lives and get off the streets.  Several people from my Sunday school class worked last year on renovating the apartments and now we are just working on getting a few cleaned up after some people have moved out.

One of the girls even brought decorations that people had donated to spruce up the apartment.  It was really lovely!

The best:

For months I’ve been praying for my best friend.  I’ve prayed that God would open her heart and that she would find salvation through Jesus.  I prayed for strength and courage to share the gospel with her, but could never bring myself to do it every time we talked on the phone.  After lots and lots of prayer over the weekend, and googling how to share the gospel with friends (LOL!), I finally made the call.  The entire conversation went perfectly and God really opened the door for us to be able to talk about faith.  She is getting married next year and wants to be married in a church.  When she met with the minister who agreed to marry her and her fiancé, he invited her to attend a Sunday church service.  Even though her fiancé is out of state right now doing an internship, she went to church on her own and had a nice time.  When she shared that with me and talked about how the service went, I was able to share the gospel clearly, and then talk about my own experience of when I found Jesus and how nervous I was when I first started going to church.

Even though we’ve been best friends since I was a child, we’ve never talked about faith before.  I was pretty sure that she hadn’t made a decision to believe in Jesus, but I didn’t know for sure, and I didn’t want to make assumptions going into it.  God really worked things out into the conversation where she was able to share things about her and her beliefs and it gave me the opportunity to share the gospel and encourage her to pray and seek God.

Before I made the call, I was so nervous and I didn’t know what to expect.  I figured that my best friend would still love me no matter what crazy things I said, but I was worried that I would somehow offend her or hurt her feelings.  I prayed and was almost to the point of tears and decided to grab a bible verse from my box of blessings (coincidentally enough that my best friend sent me for my birthday last year) and read this verse right before calling her:

“Be strong and courageous.  Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will go with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

When I think about the people who I want to be with in Heaven, she is on my top 10 list.  The reason I was so afraid to share the gospel with her is because I didn’t want to mess it up.  I didn’t want to say the wrong thing or somehow turn her away from Jesus.  Reading this verse right before I called her gave me the courage I needed to know that God was with me, leading me, and helping me as I shared the most important thing I could ever possibly share with another person, especially someone who I deeply love.

When I got off the phone, I just jumped up and down and said, “Thank you Jesus! We did it!”  Now I can relax a little bit that I did my job, and focus on praying for my friend and trusting that God will be at work in her life.

The Ugly:

My period is due to start on Friday and my hormones are definitely getting the best of me, even my face.  My face is breaking out like a hormone crazed teen.  Sad, so sad! And no, I’m not pregnant.  We prevented pregnancy this month.  I’m not really sure when we’ll start trying again – we are just praying each cycle together and deciding one month at a time what we are comfortable with.

The really ugly side of things:

I’ve been struggling with some bitterness lately.  Anytime someone starts talking about pregnancy or babies, I just want nothing to do with it.  I don’t even want to hear success stories or miracle stories.

And I’m sorry to say, but I don’t even want to read blogs about pregnancy after infertility or miscarriage some days.  I’m really happy for all of you that have moved on, but some days, I just can’t bring myself to read about it because I’m just not there yet. (I still read the blogs and rejoice with all of you – but on my bad days, I just stick to those that are still dealing with the infertility side of things.)

If and when God gives me a child, I’ll rejoice and enjoy every moment of it.  But for right now, the thought of pregnancy and baby topics just makes me want to hide under a rock.  I just want nothing to do with any of it.

I’m so discouraged by it all that I actually went out and got kolaches yesterday.  NOT GLUTEN FREE! I ate two! And I have Celiac disease which could be the cause of my miscarriages.  Can you say stupid? Yeah well, I guess I was rebelling over the fact that I’ve been eating gluten free since December 2012 and I STILL don’t have a baby, and oh yeah, I had 2 more miscarriages to rub it in my face.

I won’t be doing it again.  My stomach is still in pain from that mistake which made me feel like I was poisoned.  Stupid, very stupid.  I told you this part was ugly lol.

It’s an ugly side of me right now that I don’t like and I’m praying and trying to get rid of this bitterness and hopeless feelings yet again.  Mostly I’m enjoying the good things that I do have going on in my life right now, but the infertility is always there lingering like a dark storm cloud ready to pour down on me at any moment.  GO AWAY STORM CLOUD!

Tomorrow is pay-day and grocery shopping day so I need to get going now and start working on my meal plan (no more kolaches for this gluten free lady!)

Love and prayers to you all,

Amber

 

 

 

VBS 2014

In my last post, I told you all that I was signed up to help with snacks at VBS but ended up showing up Monday morning only to be needed as a teacher in 2nd grade.  Our bible verse for the week was “But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts.  Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:15)  I’d say that verse was definitely appropriate for teaching 20 2nd graders about Jesus without a lesson prepared!

Thankfully they were able to bring me a lesson later that day and every day of the week, I worked on the lesson plans for the next day so that the kids would have fun activities to do.

On the first day, thankfully I had this gospel story in my memory to share with the class (though I definitely need to practice this a bit more so that I’m always prepared as the above verse talks about):

And I talked about Jesus and the things that he did, like the miracles, healing, and calming the storm.  And with the extra amount of down time, I let the kids have some fun and play Simon says and hang man.  Of course, after the first hour of bible study time the kids get to go to the different rotations: missions, music, recreation/snack.

When I read the VBS verse for the week from 1 Peter 3:15, I just laughed at God’s humor.  Ready or not, Amber: teach these kiddos!

Once I had the lesson plans it went much smoother and it definitely made me think about the importance of practicing and preparing to be able to do God’s work whenever you are called to do it, sometimes, without notice, or without materials.  It’s a good reminder of how important scripture memory is.  We might not always have our bibles available to us to look up scripture.

Although it was a lot of hard work and I had a lot of late nights and little sleep this week, I’m so thankful that God gave me the opportunity to be able to teach Vacation bible school this year.  Since 2011, I’ve been the children’s mission leader during their rotations, and while I’ve enjoyed that role, I far more enjoyed getting to know a smaller group of children one on one and being able to shepherd them throughout the week as we learned about Jesus.

If given the option next year, I would like to teach again.  Of course, if no one else steps up to be the mission’s leader and they need me in that role, I’ll go where I’m needed.

But being able to teach the kids every day and get to talk with them one on one and rejoice when several of them made a decision to accept Christ as their Savior was just such a gift to me.  By Tuesday, all of the emotions surrounding VBS with my miscarriages and infertility went out the window and I was just so thankful to be teaching these kids and seeing lives changed.

While I’m thankful for the ladies that worked behind the scenes preparing snacks for the kids, I’m glad that God put me in a role where I could see first hand just how important this ministry is and be able to feel the benefits of the labor of our church.

In 2012 and 2013, teaching Missions during VBS was emotionally taxing every single day.  When the kids were in the classroom, I loved seeing them get excited and give me hugs when they said goodbye, but other than that, I didn’t get much interaction with the children and wasn’t able to see first hand the fruit of my labor.  But teaching the kids this year was just the best gift ever.

It was so hard saying goodbye to all of the kids today.  I wanted to cry hoping I would see them again, in Sunday school or children’s church.  Several of them were from different churches, but I told them they are always welcome to come as a guest to our church anytime.  When one kid was leaving I told him to join us for children’s church on Sunday and his dad looked at him and said, “We are going to start coming to church, buddy!”  Cue the tears! That is just so awesome.  I mean, if anyone ever doubts the importance of children’s ministry – that right there is the proof in the pudding.  If you lead a child to Christ, they can lead their entire family to Christ.  There are so many stories of entire families being changed, all because a child decided to follow Christ as their Savior.

Afterwards I went to get lunch with Jonathan and started crying missing the kids and missing my own babies.  Although I am so incredibly thankful to be a part of this ministry every year and I know that God is moving all around us doing awesome work, it still breaks my heart to leave with empty arms.

The kids were crazy at times.  They were messy.  They were hard to take care of.  They were kids! I meaning, parenting isn’t some kind of easy job to do.  But that doesn’t mean I’d rather come home to an empty, quiet house.  Even though my back was aching and I was trying to stay patient, it was such a blessing see kids make the decision to accept Christ as their Savior and having them tell me they were having fun, give me hugs, high fives and big smiles when I picked them to go on stage to dance to our VBS theme songs.

One of the biggest blessings of the week was hearing that Collin, the son of the officer who was killed in the line of duty in May this year, made a decision on Wednesday to make Christ his Savior.  His mom’s face was just lit up with a huge smile watching him dance on stage at the end of the day, and when I found out why she was smiling so big, it made me smile too.  Even through death, God was working! I know that Officer Dinwiddie and all of the saints and angels in Heaven had to be rejoicing big time when Collin prayed for Jesus to be his Savior!

But even feeling happy for that family after the horrible tragedy they just experienced, my heart started to ache thinking that I’ll never get to experience that with my babies.  Of course I believe that Abiygale, Matthew, Faith, Hope, and Grayson are all in Heaven with Jesus and they will never have to suffer the pain of this world, my heart still aches thinking that I’m missing out on the joy of having them here with me and being able to rejoice at hearing them ask Jesus into their hearts.  Again, logically, I understand that they are in Heaven and that I will have a joy someday that doesn’t even compare to anything in this world, but my heart needs a bit of time to grieve what I don’t get to experience with them in this life.

And of course, there’s the other side of pain: the empty arms.  The question mark that remains, “When will our arms finally be filled with the blessing of children?”  Going home today with empty arms, after being with those precious kids all week, made my heart ache in a way that it hasn’t ached in a while.  It actually felt physically painful in my chest, like there is a hole in my heart.

I always call that hole, the Jesus hole.  Because although, at this moment in time, it feels like only children will be able to make it better, I know, I’ve seen before hand, and I believe with all of my heart again, that only Jesus can and will fill the void in my heart with a peace that goes beyond understanding.

Today there are a lot of tears and there is a broken place in my heart that has to be mended all over again.

Although it’s painful, this is a beautiful life.  Where the rest of the world would see me as nothing special, with Christ I am given the beautiful gift of serving and ministering within my church to the community around us.  I don’t think anything else in this world compares to being a Christian and the adventures you take when you follow Christ.  I can’t even imagine what life would be like if I hadn’t become a Christian nearly 10 years ago.  I don’t want to imagine.

Jesus promised that following Him would bring about suffering and persecution.  “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”  He didn’t promise a life without pain or suffering.  But what He gives in return far outweighs all of the struggles and pain we might experience here.  Of course, there’s the biggest blessing of all, our salvation and our future home in Heaven.  But there is also the blessing of having a relationship and being able to talk to God, the creator of the universe, and call Him our Abba.  Abba means daddy or father in an intimate sense.  Jesus was God’s one and only Son, but through His death on the cross, when we believe in Jesus, He adopts us into his family as his own children.  Therefore, all who believe in Jesus as their Savior have the rights to be treated as a son and go to the Father.  We also have the blessing of a grand adventure, with the Holy Spirit giving us strength and direction as we follow his lead and go where he calls us. 

Sometimes God calls you to do some crazy things.  Things that you never would have imagined yourself doing or even being able to do.  It’s scary at times, but it brings about so much joy when you just faithfully say, “Yes Lord! Send me, I’ll go!”

My heart is already starting to feel a little less sad and a little more thankful at this life I’m living.  Because while there might be a missing piece right now, I have the joy of knowing Christ as my Savior and the adventure of following Him.

Love and prayers to you all,

Amber

P.S. Enjoy this awesome song from VBS.  I’ll probably have our theme songs stuck in my head for the next 6 months.  SIGH!