Travel Blog: Costa Rica

Day 1:

We were up at 3 am to catch our 6 am flight, but when you’re headed on a big trip it’s not like you sleep much the night before anyways! We had a quick layover in Fort Lauderdale, I finished an entire book on the plane (haven’t done that since before kids!), and were on the road in our rental 4×4 in Costa Rica by 1 pm.

It was a 3 hour ride to Osa where we were staying and a super easy drive. I found the hotel on Groupon but ironically enough it proved to be the best hotel I’ve ever stayed at! As soon as we pulled into the jaw dropping Mediterranean boutique hotel, Kailor (we got to know all the amazing staff at the hotel) came to greet us and take us to the pool to relax with a complimentary cocktail while he parked our car and took our bags to our room.

The Garden Room that we had booked also had an ocean view and an insanely comfy king bed.

After freshening up we headed to hotel bar to enjoy the live music they had that night and that’s when we met Matt and Jill- another young couple staying at the hotel who just happened to be the hotel owners daughter and son in law. They gave us the down low on the hotel and then we were taken to our table where we had one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever tasted- duck with cheese and mushroom risotto. I can’t even describe the explosion of flavor. Juan Pablo the hotel’s chef is super passionate about what he does and makes up all his own recipes using only local, fresh, organic ingredients. My only regret is that we didn’t eat here more during our visit.

Day 2:

Besides the amazing pictures and rave reviews, one of the main reasons I booked this hotel was because it offered a private excursion to Garza Island. Michael came to pick us up at 10 after eating a delicious Guatemalan breakfast. He drove us down to the boat that took us across the river to the island and then we began the short walk though the palm trees. He chopped down a few coconuts for us to drink and set us up with some hammocks before going off to start cooking lunch.

We explored the beach and found a ton of sand dollars and beautiful shells, swam in the insanely warm ocean water, and read in the hammocks while drinking cocktails and snacking on veggies. Later we ate the lunch that Michael made us and then watched him do his art in the sand before taking us back across the river. It’s hard to explain how neat of an experience this was. I’ve always had this dream of being on a private island relaxing with my man and I can now mark it off my bucket list! We felt like the Swiss Family Robinson’s- Clark edition haha.

When we got back to the hotel we found Matt and Jill at the pool and they invited us to dinner with them at the Bamboo Room. We enjoyed the live music and the food but more than that we enjoyed the company and conversation. They were an answer to prayer as we had asked that we make some friends on this trip. We just wish our travel dates had been more aligned!

Day 3:

We didn’t have any concrete plans for the day so we asked Gerard where he recommended and he sent us to a beach with a sea cave. It was a cool place but when we got there it was high tide and because of the strong waves crashing through the cave we couldn’t go in. Our next stop was to this little water fall on the river he had told us about, but it was a bit of a let down. We ended up just wading through the river trying to make the most of our morning.

For lunch we went to this little French bakery and enjoyed a few eclairs. We then headed to Elan which was a private beach we had access to through El Castillo (our hotel). We had the beach all to ourselves and spent the afternoon boogie boarding. It was so much fun! We caught quite a few waves and I was actually not terrible at it! Haha

At Matt and Jill’s recommendation we headed to a nearby hotel called 360 for dinner that they said had the most amazing view they’d ever seen. Did it ever! I wish the pictures could do it justice.

Day 4:

We sadly said goodbye to El Castillo and all the wonderful staff and headed into Uvita to check out the local market. We even ran into our friend Michael who does the sand art and bought a few of his photographs.

Next we headed to the Whale Tale which is this big sand bar that extends out into the shape of a whale tale but sadly after a really long walk to get there we found it covered in water from the high tide.

Since we were starting to get hungry we stopped at a cute restaurant along the main road and grabbed some lunch to go- a quesadilla for Adam and a gluten free margarita pizza for me. Oh and a watermelon and pineapple smoothie, yum! We chowed down on our way up to Nauyaca falls.

Since we didn’t plan ahead we arrived after the final truck ride to the falls and our only option was to make the 4 mile uphill hike on foot. Let me just say I’ve never sweated so much in my life!! It was an insanely long hard hike but look at this waterfall that greeted us at the end…

The water was gloriously cool and we spent about an hour swimming around and just soaking in the majesty of God’s creation. Thankfully the walk back was mostly down hill and seemed to go by much quicker and we even got to see some spider monkeys which were absolutely adorable.

Next on the docket was heading to Quepos to check into our new hotel, Villas Nicolas. It was a little less than an hour drive to our bungalow in the jungle with a fabulous view.

After taking much needed showers we went to dinner at the marina at Z Bar Gastropub. It was a really neat modern place and I had the most delicious ceviche.

Day 5:

After eating a quick breakfast at the hotel we were picked up by ADR adventures. It was time to go zip lining! Turned out we were the only ones that had booked the tour so it was just us and the guides- The Indian, Water Buffalo, and Papparzo (as they affectionately called each other).

This pretty sweet SUV took us way up a mountain to their base camp which was an old school bus (how on earth did they get that up there?) and a bamboo hut. No sooner had we gotten decked out in our harnesses and helmets did it start pouring rain. But did that change things? Of course not, it’s Costa Rica, pura vida! So on we went to the first zip line… which was the tallest and longest one right off the bat, go figure. (I am super afraid of heights but I had decided I would suck it up because of the rave reviews I had read about this tour.) Once the guides literally pushed me off the mountain I was able to enjoy the amazing view as I soared over the canyon. This tour was called the 10 in 1 because there were lots of different activities in one tour. There were quite a few zip lines, a couple rappels, a zip rappel, and a Tarzan swing. Most of them were terrifying but the waterfalls that we were swinging back and forth over were pretty amazing, and being in the middle of the Costa Rican jungle while it rains and you watch the fog move in over the mountains was magical.

magical.

After we finished and made the long trek back up the mountain we were rewarded with amazing burritos and sweet tea (these guys know how Texans like their tea).

Back at our hotel it was still raining so we decided to have a chill evening with a couple glasses of wine, some chocolate, and a few good books out on our porch overlooking Manuel Antonio National Park. Later we went to dinner at a cool place called the Falafel Bar… and per usual, passed out early haha.

Day 6:

Usually I am a “travel itinerary” kind of girl but Adam asked to not have every day booked with activities so we didn’t have anything specific planned for our last day. We attempted to do a little shopping (mostly to get a present for Landon because it was all he asked about when we called to talk to him lol) but there really wasn’t much to choose from. Then we attempted to go to the National Park but it was closed on Mondays. We ended up having a guy talk us into doing a mangrove boat tour because he promised we would be able to play with wild monkeys. Before heading out we grabbed lunch at a French cafe called Emilio’s. This was our view.

Once we got on the little boat and had motored around for a while I was about to accept that we had gotten gypped when the guide pulled the boat over next to some mangroves and started making all these crazy sounds. Before we knew it there were monkeys coming out to greet us! He gave us some banana to give them and one in particular was especially brave and even jumped on our heads. The highlight of the tour though was when the monkey climbed on to one of the other passengers shoulders and then peed down his back. The guide tried to play it off like he had just dropped water on the guy so he didn’t freak out… but when he gets home and smells that shirt, he’ll know the truth haha.

Other than the monkeys the day had been kind of a bust so what better way to salvage it than with a couple massages to end the trip off right? (Plus we had some seriously sore muscles after all the hiking) We went to a place called the Raindrop Spa and got a couples massage with a chocolate scrub while listening to the sounds of nature. It was heavenly! (I finally found a masseuse who was on par with my mom’s awesome skills)

Nice and relaxed we made the two and a half hour drive back toward San Jose for our last nights stay near the airport. I had booked us in at a boutique hotel at the last minute and we weren’t sure what to expect, but it was lovely! We spent the evening eating take out, enjoying the hot tub, and playing boggle.

Day 6:

We enjoyed some yummy breakfast tacos on the porch and then headed for the airport.

Traveling home took all day but it was so worth it! We absolutely loved Costa Rica and can’t wait to go back and explore even more. Friendly people, delicious food, amazing views, fun activities, great culture… what more can you ask for?

In our case, two adorable boys to come home to ❤️

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The Idols on my Mantle: A Christian’s Confession

The center of a home is usually the living room, and the center of the living room is usually a fireplace. Over this fireplace there is often a mantle…. Where a person or family will display things most important to them. You might find family portraits, a priceless piece of art, trophies and awards, or any number of other things. The point is that whatever you have on display is there because you want it to be the focal point of the room.

What if I asked you what the focal point of your life is? As a Christian, you’d probably answer “God”. But if I walked into the house of your soul, and stepped into the “spiritual” living room…. what would I actually find displayed there on the mantle? What are the things that honestly take up the majority of your focus?

An easy way to gauge this is by looking at what we spend most of our time doing and talking about. You may tell me that God is your focus, but when I look on your mantle it’s not a Bible I see sitting there. What is it is I see? Well, for every person it’s different… but what I can tell you is that if it’s not God, it’s an idol.

You see, an idol is anything that we put before God. It can be our family, our job, our hobbies… literally anything. If you spend more time focusing on anything more than you spend on living God’s way of life, then you are in essence worshipping an idol. There are many different spiritual idols I could talk about but I really want to focus on the 3 mentioned in this verse:

“For everything in the world- the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life- are not from the Father, but from the world.” (1 John 2:16)

As Christians, we’d like to think that the idols listed here as being “from the world” are things that will stay there. But let’s be honest, they’ve crept into the spiritual Church and have taken hold…. especially in the lives of the younger generations. And no, I’m not just sitting here pointing fingers. I’ve been guilty of every single one of these things, and I’m talking to myself just as much to anyone else. So let’s just be real with ourselves and each other and talk about the elephants in the room.

Idol 1: The Lusts of the Flesh

We’re human and we have basic needs. Things like sleep, food, shelter, and community. But we also have desires, some of them sinful, and some of them neutral. Either way, those desires when continually practiced turn to vices. Let’s just name a few: sexual promiscuity, TV and video game addiction, overeating, greed, materialism, alcoholism, and partying. If you know it’s sinful, or maybe it’s not sinful it just takes time away from God and serving others, and yet you continually do it…. You have created an idol.

I hate to say it but I see all of these things in the lives of many a young Christian. Almost every social event is focused around alcohol, our conversation at church services revolves around work, our money is spent on cars we can’t afford and gadgets we don’t need, we spend more time staring at a screen than we do our Bibles, excuses are being made for messing around before marriage, and many have even made the Feast of Tabernacles a focus on materialism!

We’ve been taught well, we know what is right and what is wrong… so why do we keep letting our fleshly lusts dictate the actions we take in our daily lives? If we keep going along, convincing ourselves that one day we’ll give up our bad habits and turn our focus back to God, it’s going to be too late.

“Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11)

We mustn’t give up our souls for the sake of our flesh!

Idol 2: The Lust of the Eyes

Beauty is everything these days. Not only are we obsessed with how we look, but with how the world around us looks. With things. We want a bigger house, a newer car, better looking clothes. The greed and materialism of this world has taken over and many of us have forgotten the Biblical examples to “store up our treasures in heaven and not in the things of this world”. We keep convincing ourselves that we deserve nice things because we work hard. And then we look at the starving children in other nations and think, “I wish someone would do something about that.”

Then we’ve got the physical side to it… who’s sexy, who can take the prettiest picture, who’s been to the most exotic places, who wears the cutest clothes. “Selfies” are the most popular kind of picture to post on facebook. When we choose who to date we’re often more focused on how they look than who they are. Men have been sucked into pornography and women into vanity. The human body is for nothing more than pleasure and objectification.

How many mornings do we spend more time picking out an outfit and getting ready physically for the day than we do spiritually? Yes, even on the Sabbath. Are we really more worried about what others see on the outside than what God sees on the inside? Which of these things has an eternal impact?

“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Prov. 31:30)

Let’s invest time into the beauty that matters.

Idol 3: The Pride of Life

This can come in many different forms…. But a common theme is a pride in our own wisdom and knowledge. We can be so prideful that we think we have all the answers and refuse to let anyone teach us anything. Even God. Sometimes we convince ourselves that we’ve learned all the truth the Bible has to teach us, and are so sure that we’ve got it all figured out we limit God’s ability to reveal even deeper truth. It’s easy to compare ourselves to others and think we’re doing “pretty well”. But when we instead measure ourselves by Christ, we get a very different picture. Being spiritually humble is not always our strong suit, and it’s something we need to work on.

Another way we can be prideful is in human accomplishment and all the “great things we’ve done. “Take science for example. The whole world is in awe of the scientific accomplishments we’ve been able to make as humans…. And yet when it comes to most scientists, the Creator of all is conveniently forgotten. A Christian with God’s Holy Spirit will admit that they themselves can’t begin to comprehend the ways and things of God… and yet we’ve duped ourselves into believing that an atheist with a science degree is smart enough to figure out how His creation works. Many of them have deceived themselves into thinking that they’re so smart that not only can they understand the ways of God, but that they can play God (take for example genetically modifying our foods to make what God originally created even “better”). Obviously most of the Christians I’m writing to aren’t scientists, but the problem begins when we start to put the wisdom and knowledge of such men ahead of the wisdom from the Bible, or try and make the Bible fit with the world’s interpretation. There’s a reason evolution and the Big Bang have led away so many Christians… because any science or wisdom of men not based on a foundation of the Word of God can lead to nothing but lies.

It’s so easy to become prideful in what we’ve done. We like to take the praise when it’s really owed to God. How easy it is for us to convince ourselves that we’ve got everything under control…. Just look at how little we depend on God in this day and age. He’s merely a blip on our radar every day…. A 10 minute prayer thrown up to Him before we go to bed and we’re good. Food and shelter? Got it. Money in the bank? Check. Roof over our heads? No problem. Now of course when things start to get bad we invest a bit more time into prayer and asking Him for help… but the second things are good again, we’re back to relying on ourselves.

“This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

Let’s start giving God the glory in everything we do and allow Him to reveal deeper spiritual truths!

Brothers and sisters, I write this because I’m concerned for the next generations. Dark times are upon us and I need your encouragement to leave these idols behind just as you need mine. Satan is the father of lies and he’s so skilled at deceiving that he has even infiltrated the Christian church… and then deceived us from seeing that he’s there. We have to admit that he’s there and then FIGHT BACK.

God wants his church pure and without blemish. We need to take a long hard look at our lives, repent with all our might, and pray for God’s spirit to change our hearts and purge out the sin and idols from our lives. We don’t have the time to be lukewarm. We have a calling to live up to. A light to shine. People to serve. And a loving Father who’s waiting with open arms to welcome back His prodigal children. Run to Him, and don’t look back.

The context of 1 John 2:16 puts it all into perspective:

15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father[a] is not in them. 16 For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.

Those “Irritating” Differences in the Body of Christ

Anyone who knows my husband and I knows how different we are. He’s outgoing, he’s a server and a doer, he connects to things/people on more of a logical level, and is into all things camo. I, however, am more of an ambivert (kind of go back and forth between being extroverted and introverted), I’m a thinker and a planner, I connect to things/people on an emotional level, and am into all things NOT camo. Often times our differences cause conflicts and frustrations. I get frustrated with him when he doesn’t take time to think things through before he does them, he gets frustrated with me when I spend too much time thinking and not enough time doing… He doesn’t understand why I have to sneak off into corners by myself when I’ve been in a big group of people for too long, I can’t understand why he’s always running off to talk to or take care of other people when I want him to spend more time with me… and the list goes on and on. Sometimes we comment to each other how much easier our marriage would be if we were more alike… and you know what, it’s probably true.

But, there’s a reason opposites attract… and there’s also a reason divorce rates are so high. In the beginning this person who is so different from you is exciting and mysterious, but after time goes on and the newness loses its sparkle, you suddenly find yourself only noticing the differences…. And how stinkin’ annoying they are! Let’s face it, we get stuck in OUR ways… And we don’t like people to come along with different ways of thinking and doing things. After all, our ways are tried and true… they’ve been working for us so far, we’re happy with them, so they’re obviously the best, right? Oh how I wish I could say yes…. but I think we all know how incorrect that would be.

God’s ways are best, end of the story. But do you know what’s so interesting? He only gave PARTS of His perfect ways to each of us. This may seem a little confusing… Why would God do that? Why would He only give small portions of His likeness to each of us, therefore making us all so different? Doesn’t He know how difficult this makes life when it comes to dealing with other people?! Well of course He does… but we don’t come to salvation by taking the easy way, do we?

Let’s take a look at 1 Cor. 12 starting in vs. 12, “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body–whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free–and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? “

What is God telling us here? He’s saying that we… you… me… every single baptized individual makes up a part of the Body. That the Body is not a physical church, or a single person, but rather a group of people… and that He created each and every person in that group to fill a unique purpose. Each one of us were made differently in order to work in complete harmony with one another. An eye cannot be a foot, and neither can a shoulder be a stomach. We all have different functions… But why? Why only give us “parts”? Why not a full and functioning “body” to every person? Because of this one word right here:

Humility.

Not only can we never form a perfect body without God’s spirit, likewise we can never form a perfect body without EACH OTHER! We are nothing on our own. God wanted us to learn to lean on one another, to appreciate what the other has to offer, to LOVE one another not despite their differences, but because of their differences! He wants us to see each and every human life as unique and precious… just like He does. He wants us to realize that our ways are not the only ways, nor are they the best.

Because it’s so easy to get to this point isn’t it? To start thinking that everyone around us has it wrong, and if they would JUST LISTEN to how we think it should be done, things would be a whole lot better. But where’s the humility in this thought? Where’s the wisdom? Where’s the understanding that we don’t always have the right answer? And maybe things would be a whole lot better for us if we would JUST LISTEN…. And let our pride just slip away.

Continuing on with verse 20 – “As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment.”

How many offenses have been caused in Christ’s body because an eye has said to a hand “I don’t need you! The way you do things is not the way I do things, so either start working like an eye or get lost!” What is the result of a scenario like this? Well, either the hand listens to the eye and does all it can to fit into a position it was never meant to fill, or it realizes if it wants to keep being the hand it was designed to be, it has to go find another part of the body that is more accepting of it. Either way, what is the result? We are left with a broken, dis functional, and divided Body of Christ. Over here is part of His body but it’s full of ears to hear, and no hands to do, and over there is a part of His body but it’s full of hands to do, and no ears to hear. We cannot let this happen!

We have to remember that every part has a strength, purpose, and gift… and we should be seeking to get to know one another on more than a surface level so we can truly appreciate and understand each other. It’s not about every part functioning on its own, but rather each part doing its job, and then releasing control to the next part so that it can do the same. Think about what happens when we eat – our mouth chews, our throat swallows, the stomach digests, and on it goes. Each fills a very important role, but the only way our body will ever be nourished is if every part works together. And in order for us to trust each other enough to work together, we must first get to know one another.

Finishing up in verse 24 – “But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.”

Isn’t this beautiful? God wants us to be so close that we, every part of the body, are one. He wants us to be so connected that we feel everything each other feels. For us to constantly be looking out for one another and encouraging each other. For us to never feel alone in our joys or struggles. When we take the time to serve, talk to, and spend time with our brothers and sisters, we begin to cultivate the kind of bond and trust it takes to function in the beautifully harmonious way that is described above.

If we ever find ourselves feeling lost in the Body, not sure exactly what our role is, or what gifts we might have, we should start following the advice of Matt. 7:7, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you shall find. Knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks the door shall be open.” When our hearts are in the right place, when we are truly seeking to edify God and those around us, God isn’t going to withhold showing us how to do so! He WANTS us to get to this place. He wants us to come to the point of humility where we look at ourselves and say, “I have nothing good enough to offer. Lord, only by the gifts of your Spirit, and the guiding of Your hands will I ever be able to truly edify the Body. Please, show me what you want me to be doing, and give me the gifts with which to do it.”

Even through the working of the Holy Spirit in both of our lives, my husband and I will always be different. He will always be the kind of guy who can make a friend out of any stranger in five minutes flat and who loves to serve with his hands. I, however, have just not been gifted in this way. (at least not now)  But you know what? I’m ok with that…. because God’s plan is perfect. He didn’t give me the tools for the same purpose as my husband, but He has given me tools for another (one that I am still working on figuring out). Realizing this makes me so grateful for people like my husband who can fill that role like I never could. It reminds me that not only does the Body need him and his gifts to be whole, but that our marriage needs his gifts and differences to make to make us (as one) more well rounded and Christ-like. It reminds me that I would only be half the person I am if I hadn’t married the sometimes irritating but oh so amazingly different man that I did.

The Love of a Child

There are some feelings when it comes to being a parent that nobody can prepare you for. One of the biggest is how much you  will love your child. Everyone tells you, “It’s a love like nothing you’ve ever felt,” and you picture yourself holding your first born and know in your heart that you will love them so insanely much that you think you can imagine the love, that you can understand it.

But you can’t.

Just like you can’t imagine how much more you’re going to love that child with every passing day. The day they are born you are so filled with love for them, you think that you couldn’t possibly love them any more than you do in that moment.

But you do.

Every day you grow to know that precious little being more and more as you watch them take their first step, say their first word, and show their first interests. There’s a big part of you that can’t wait for them to grow up, because you are so excited to learn even more about them; to see them grow and develop their personality and interests.

But as excited as you are, you’re equally as terrified.

Because every “first” leads you closer and closer to a “last.” The last time you’ll nurse, the last time they’ll crawl, the last bed time story, their last night at home. Those first few months may seem like a lifetime, but before you know it, their lifetime will have gone by. And though you’d love to stop the clock, or change time…

You wouldn’t change a thing about them.

You love everything about your child, even their more difficult traits. When they look at you with that ornery little face, or insist, “I do it myself!” you can’t help but love them for it, because you know exactly where that orneriness came from. You understand they come by it honestly. It’s just another part of the puzzle that makes them all the more yours. You watch them bloom into their own independent person, with thoughts and needs totally different from your own, and as frustrated as it makes you at times…

You love them all the more for it.

Being a parent means truly knowing what it is to feel an all-consuming love. The other night as I held my son in my arms, his head snuggled under my chin, both arms wrapped around my neck, I can’t describe the feeling of complete peace that came over me. I didn’t want to put him down. I didn’t want those chubby little hands to stop sweetly caressing my arm.

There is something so pure and so powerful about a child’s love.

The fact that there is nothing forcing them to love you. There’s no requirement, no responsibility, no duty…. They just do. Fully, unequivocally, they give their hearts to you. They trust you. They love you not because of anything you did or didn’t do, not because of who you are, what you have, or what you can give to them. There’s no logic behind it, no selfish motives, no evil intentions. They love you purely because you love them. Because you are their world.

And there’s nothing like it.

9 Postpartum Horrors No One Tells You About

You did it! After 9 months of waddling around pregnant, and hours stuck in a torturous labor you thought would never end, you finally hold your sweet baby in your arms. You look down at this beautiful little bundle and feel your whole body relax. Finally… you are at peace. The weird pregnancy symptoms, the aches and pains of labor, all finally over…. Right?

Wrong.

But you carry on in your blissfully unaware state, thinking it’ll be all roses and unicorns from here on out, because nobody told you about postpartum. (You’ll later angrily ask your mother, “Why didn’t you warn me about this!? And she’ll sheepishly say, “Well, I didn’t want to scare you… and I really wanted a grandchild…” Oh wow, thanks mom!)

 

  1. The After Birth

Oh yeah, guess what ladies?! You know that awful labor you just went through? Well… after a couple minutes of peacefully getting to bond with your little one, you’ll suddenly feel those sharp pains again, and think, “Oh no! Am I having twins!?” Well not exactly, it’s time to birth your placenta! Let’s just say it is not pleasant, and I’ve heard it only gets worse with subsequent pregnancies. Then, once you finally give birth to your child’s ugly step sister, your personal torturer (aka your nurse) will descend on you. Punching and prodding your stomach like it’s her own sick version of whack a mole…. trying to make sure they get any and all “leftovers” out. (mmmm…leftovers… what!? It’s been a long labor and you’re hungry…)

 

  1. Sweet Relief

If you’re like me, you might be so weak from loss of blood, that merely trying to stand makes you so incredibly dizzy, that you can’t even get up to go to the bathroom. In which case, your torturer will hand you a bed pan and sweetly say, “Well, if you can’t go in here, we’re gunna have to catheterize you!” (Oh wow, really!? Sign me up!) You begrudgingly take the bed pan and think to yourself “I was so sure I had another 60 years before I would see this low point of my life…”. Now, you awkwardly get yourself situated… and wait… and wait…. And wait. You try harder to pee than you ever have in your entire life, but it’s as if that part of your body isn’t even attached to you anymore! Then, out of nowhere, you hear that oh so sweet sound that’s going to save you from the dreaded catheter.  But alas, as it continues… and continues… you start to get a bit concerned, because as you previously realized, you have absolutely no muscle control from the waist down. That’s right, there’s no stopping this train! So when you feel your butt cheeks slowly starting to become immersed in something warm, you just have to sit there and take it…. whilst trying (and failing) to convince yourself that you’re actually sitting in an extremely small hot tub.

 

  1. Bye Bye Baby Belly

Well, you made it through the hospital horrors and now it’s finally time to go home! You’ve looked forward to this moment for 9 months – the day you finally get to put on your pre pregnancy jeans! But wait…. They won’t fit! What is this!? Why do you still look like you’re 6 months pregnant! There’s no baby in there! This is so unfair! Oh! And why does it feel like that!? Like a bowl of jello… or like your guts are just swimming around in there (oh wait, they are!) You make a silent promise to not touch your stomach again until it stops looking and feeling like something belonging to Jabba the Hut.

 

  1. Breastfeeding Support

You were told that you would need a lot of support at the beginning of nursing… that you might even consider joining a nursing support group. To be honest, you laughed at this. How much support could you possibly need? You just stick your baby to your boob and it eats, right? Ha… if only. Your boobs, the ones you used to love so much (especially in push up bras), quickly become the bane of your existence. First, they start to crack, bleed, and scab. (A friend of mine had such a big scab on one of hers that when it came off she was totally convinced that it was her nipple that fell off). But then, your milk comes in…. and you’re suddenly endowed better than Dolly Parton. Which would be great fun, except for the fact that it can lead to milk fever (where you feel like you have the flu, just because your boobs joined the Dairy Farmers of America), clogs, and mastitis. And don’t even get me started on what those things will look after your year of breastfeeding is over…. (think very sad deflated balloons with large unusually shaped… other parts)

 

  1. Modesty…. What?

What other women did warn you about was how your modesty would go right out the window as soon as those hard contractions hit, but what they didn’t tell you was that it would stay gone for quite some time. Your husband stares in horror as you strut shamelessly around the house in nothing but an adult diaper, jelly belly flapping in the wind, because the mere thought of trying to squeeze your swollen chapped baby makers into a bra makes you want to cry. Let’s be honest, even the idea of putting a loose fitting tank top on makes you want to cry. And pants? What are pants? (On the plus side, this new sexy look of yours will probably make your hubby’s six week wait quite a bit easier)

 

  1. The TMI Part

Before birth, you were quite confident with your knowledge about how babies entered this world. But after birth…. you were convinced you had been sorely misinformed. Like seriously… your baby must have gotten confused on his journey and come out the wrong door. When you say “everything hurts” after birth, you literally mean EVERYTHING.

And then there’s the fact that you literally have a fear of going “numero dos”. You’re already so sore, the idea of anything else coming out down there has you in sheer panic mode. So, during the first two weeks postpartum, Smooth Move to you is like crack to an addict. Oh, and hemorrhoids? Yeah… they’re not just for old people…

 

  1. The Smell

It’s really ironic how giving birth to new life smells like death. At first you run around your house sniffing everything, trying to figure out where that awful smell is permeating from, telling your husband to stop lighting them off all the time. He just gives you a pitying look, forcing you to accept what you’ve been hopelessly denying… that the terrible smell’s originator is you.  After 8 showers, 4 loofahs, and an automotive air freshener in the shape of a tree thrown into your adult diaper for good measure, you finally give up. (Seriously kid, the least you could have done was spray some febreeze on your way out)

 

  1. You Become A Human Fountain

Baby cries? You leak. Baby smiles? You leak. Drink a glass of water? You leak. You go through an entire jumbo box of nipple pads before the end of the first week. But that’s not the only place you’re suddenly leaking fluids… night after night you wake up in a pool of your own sweat (with a hint of breast milk). As if the 3 hours of sleep you’re getting a night (what with having a newborn and all) weren’t bad enough, now you’re sweating like a pig every time you close your eyes. Oh… and then there’s the crying. Lots and lots of crying. And no, I’m not talking about your baby.

 

  1. Your Luscious Locks

Just when you’re feeling at your physical lowest, wanting nothing more than to shed that extra baby weight, your hair starts shedding instead. But this is no normal shedding…. think golden retriever right before a Texas summer. All that gorgeous thick healthy hair you accumulated while pregnant starts to exit as quickly as it came. While showering you have more hair going down your drain than water. Suddenly, you start finding little bald spots around your hairline, and melt into a pot of tears…. Completely convinced you’re going to go totally bald. But not to worry! You still hold on to a couple tufts. J

~~~

But you see the thing is, no matter how terrible your pregnancy, labor, or postpartum times are, you would do it all again in a heartbeat, because that’s how much you love your child. They are worth every sacrifice because they truly are your greatest blessing.

A Hairstylist’s 10 Most Dreaded Clients

Being a hairdresser means coming in contact with all kinds of people. It’s a bit like playing roulette when it comes to new clients… you never know who’s going to walk through that door. While of course we love our clients (I mean, they do pay our bills!), there are a couple types of people that leave us, well… wanting to pull our hair out. To all my fellow hairdressers out there, this blog’s for you. 

 

The Wanna-be Hairdresser Clients

Oh boy… here we go. So these are the clients who come in, sit down, and then spend their entire appointment time telling us how to do our job. They tell you they want to go lighter, but when you say “in order to go lighter we will have to bleach your hair,” they tell you you’re wrong, and that color will lift color just fine. (I’m sorry, did you spend a year of your life studying color theory?)

They bring their $4 bottle of Pantene shampoo in and tell you to use it when washing their hair because it’s way better than the professional $40 bottle you use.

But your all-time favorite is when they literally take the brush out of your hand to show you how to properly blow dry their hair.

All you can do is silently seethe and wonder why they even came to a salon in the first place since they clearly could do everything you do at home.

 

The Contradicting Clients

This is the type of client that sits in your chair and says, “I’m looking for a change!”

You smile and say, “Great! What kind of change are you looking for?”

The client replies, “Well, I’m tired of my long hair, but I don’t want to cut it shorter.”

A little confused but still trying to remain positive you say, “So you must be looking for a change in color then! How about we do a nice chocolate brown?”

“Oh no! I don’t want to color it,” they say, “I mean, I definitely want a big change, but I want my color to stay the same, I don’t want to take any length off… Oh! And I definitely don’t want to have to style it! But other than that, I’m open to anything!”

You stare blankly at this client while wondering if they got dropped on their head as a baby.

 

The Magic Wand Clients

This is the client that comes in with 5 years’ worth of jet black box color on their hair and wants to go platinum blonde…. The same day.

This is the client that comes in for a haircut and brings a picture of someone with super long, thick, curly, hair and says, “I want my hair to look just like theirs!” while they themselves sport a short, thin, straight mop of hair.

This is the client who says, “I want to wake up every day with my hair looking great without me having to do anything to it.”

This is the client that comes in with hair so fried that you’re afraid simply brushing it will result in bald spots. They, however, want a full highlight and nothing less.

Come on people, we’re hairdressers, not fairy godmothers!

 

The Time-less Clients

Ok, so technically there are two types of Time-less Clients:

The perpetually late client- This type of client arrives a minimum of 20 minutes late to every appointment. In the beginning they apologize profusely and offer up a rare assortment of excuses. However, with time, they’ll eventually come in 20 minutes late while drinking their non-fat chai latte and chatting on the phone to their sister… then proceed to sit in your chair and give you an ‘I have no shame’ look. You spend the rest of their appointment time flying around in Tasmanian Devil mode, trying to keep their lateness from derailing the rest of your appointments for the day.

The perpetually canceling client- This type of client is arguably much worse than the perpetually late client…. Because well, they never even show up. When you see them on your books you inwardly cringe…. For though you’ve never actually met Sally Ann, you know her. You know her all too well. Just like clockwork, she’ll call 5 minutes after her appointment time, and say she’ll have to reschedule… leaving a gaping hole in your books, and in your wallet. 

 

The Fun-house Mirror Clients

These clients do have one great attribute – they know exactly what they want. But these clients also have one terrible attribute – they know exactly what they want, no matter what you think. These are the people that have been sporting the same hairstyle since the 1980’s, that love a good mullet, and that insist on straight across bangs when they have an extremely round face. You look at them and wonder what it is they’re seeing when they look in the mirror. Though admittedly they are always happy when they leave, you still want to go crawl in a hole for fear of someone seeing that you were responsible for that.

 

The High Maintenance Client

These are the clients that live by an unspoken rule that says they can never be happy with a service until it has been performed a minimum of 3 times.

These are the clients that allow you to completely blow dry their hair before saying, “You know, I think I want it shorter.” (and…. Que fake smile as you grit your teeth and say, “Oh sure, no problem!”)

These are the clients that ask for cotton balls because they can’t take the slightest chance of getting water in their ears while you rinse their color out (how do these people take showers? Or swim?)

 

The Crazy Client

Now these clients really do come in all shapes and sizes… and let me tell you, I’ve had my fair share of them. I’m pretty sure the phrase “It’s the crazy one’s you’ve gotta watch out for” was coined in a beauty salon. Most of the time you’ll know right off the bat you’re dealing with someone who’s a bit…. well, batty…. but other times the crazy pops out, yells “surprise!”, and punches you in the nose. Sometimes you’ll have enjoyed a delightful two hour appointment talking to a sugary sweet client … when during the finishing touches they notice that you didn’t cut their bangs short enough, and when you ask them how much shorter they’d like them, they suddenly jump out of their chair screaming, “Forget it! You’ll never get it right!” … all before storming out of the salon and taking your tip with them.

Other times the craziness is apparent the moment their butt hits your chair. Like the client who brings pictures of plants to the salon to look at in order to keep themselves calm whilst getting their hair cut. Or the client who is so paranoid of being pampered that she refuses to sit down in the waiting area. Or the one who rips her smock off, exposing her bra to a room full of people, in order to make a quick exit because she “just knows you were talking bad about her in the back room!”

Oh yes, these people exist… and they’re the ones that make me question my chosen profession.

 

The Mind Reading Clients

They’re the ones that come in with multiple pictures of hairstyles that look nothing alike and say, “I want to look like this!” You shuffle through the stack of photos that include a girl with a blonde pixie cut, one with shoulder length brown bob, and another with long red curls, then think, “Ok so, judging by these pictures you want to look like …. a girl.”

 These are the clients that tell you they want their hair cut… but when you ask them if they want layers or face framing or texturizing, they get frustrated and say, “I don’t know! Just shorter!” You do your best to cut their hair exactly around the parameters of ‘just shorter’, but when you turn them to face the mirror for a look at the final product their face automatically clouds over with an, ”Oh….that’s not exactly what I was wanting…”

I’m sorry, did you confuse this salon with ‘Madame Ruby’s Psychic Readings’ down the street?

 

The Cheapskate Clients

These are the clients who wipe your salon out of free samples because they ask for 10 every time they come in because they don’t want to pay for a $10 bottle.

These are the clients that will find any possible thing they can complain about, and call your manager saying, “Yeah, um I was happy with my haircut and everything, but she kind of pulled my hair when she combed it…” all in the hopes of getting compensated with a free blow-dry or deep conditioner.

And my personal favorite… these are the clients that call six weeks after their first appointment and tell you they’re no longer happy with their hair color and want a redo…. you refrain from telling them that the reason they’re no longer happy with their color is because they now have six weeks’ worth of grow out and are due to come back again, because you know they’re well aware of this and just want their hair done for free.

 

All in all, I love my job. Clients like these are (thankfully) few and far between, and though they can be a bit frustrating in the moment, they do make for fabulous dinner table stories and entertaining blog posts! 

Travel Blog: Playa Del Carmen, MX

Early this morning my hubby and I got back from a four day/five night trip to Mexico. We had such a wonderful time! For those of you interested in knowing all the juicy details of our adventure, here you go!

Feb. 11, 2016: Honey, we have arrived!

When we first checked in at the airport, I almost had a heart attack. The security guard looked at my passport and said, “Sorry, this name doesn’t match your ticket. It says West.” Ahhhhh! How could I have forgotten to change the name on my passport!? I was sure our whole trip was going to have to get canceled. Thankfully though, I gave him my ID and he said that would suffice. Whew!

We landed in Cancun around 10:30 pm after a quick 2 hour flight. Since we got in so late and didn’t know our way around public transportation yet, we decided to bite the bullet and pay for a private shuttle to take us down to Playa Del Carmen (via USA Transfers). It was quick, simple, and they dropped us off directly at our little bed and breakfast, Buen Dia Playa. Located in the quiet, beautiful community of Playacar, we felt safe and at home the moment we stepped out of the shuttle. I found the house on airbnb.com and it was owned by two Italian guys who had relocated to Mexico.

The keys were left in the lock with a sign on the door that read “If you need anything call… the internet password is…” so we wandered in and found the house empty… except for some dude passed out on the couch. Since it was after midnight, we assumed the owners had just gone to bed (maybe that was how Italians did things?), and decided to make ourselves at home. We headed up the stairs where we easily found our room and promptly passed out. (careful not to drink the water while brushing our teeth! neither of us wanted to meet Montezuma)

Feb. 12: Cenotes Galore!

Our alarm went off at 7:00 am (way too early for vacation!), but it was for a good reason…. we were headed on an adventure tour! We quickly got ready and headed downstairs, where we were met with a look of shock by a shirtless Italian man (really, we should have been the shocked ones…). He said a bunch of stuff in Italian while gesturing to the door, the key rack, and the upstairs. While we had no idea what he was saying, we knew he wasn’t angry with us as he kept smiling and laughing. Finally we were able to figure out that the Italian owner who spoke English was out of town, usually they don’t leave the keys in the doors, and that he was the guy passed out on the couch. He gave us our keys and we headed off to the pickup spot for Aventuras Mayas.

Once the shuttle dropped us at the site (way back in the boonies) we were greeted by our tour guide who explained what we would be doing for the day. First up, an ATV ride to a cenote lagoon! The ATVs were the big fancy ones, and I rode behind Adam. It was a fun ride with some good bumps and mud holes. When we arrived at the lagoon, we were ecstatic to find a huge zip line going into it. It was a dreamy location, the water was so clear and warm, and the zip line was a blast. (probably one of our favorite things we did the whole trip)

cenote

After drying off we took the ATV’s back to camp and then geared up for more zip lining. It consisted of three tall towers in the middle of the jungle that just about gave me a heart attack. I got stuck in the middle of two out of three of them and had to get rescued. Definitely my least favorite part of the “adventure” haha.

aventuras-mayas

Afterward we grabbed our snorkel gear and headed into a cenote cave. There were bats flying all around (really cool!) and the cenote was just beautiful. The water was about 20 degrees colder than I like but the experience was so worth it. We snorkeled through the cavern, keeping an eye our for stalactites above our heads, and stalagmites below us in the water. This was another highlight of the trip. Definitely not something you can do in Texas!

cave

After we finished snorkeling they provided a buffet lunch and then took us back to our hotel. We needed to grab a few things and hit up an ATM so we walked down to the local shopping area where we ran into this adorable little creature. You have no idea how excited I was!

monkey

We spent the next two hours back at the B&B having one of the strangest/most fun conversations with our host, Nicola, out by the pool. Between the little bit of Spanish we each knew, gestures, and our phone translators, we were able to understand most (I think?) of what the other was saying. And if we didn’t… well we had fun trying! We shared our rum, he shared his wine, what more could you need to start a new friendship? ha!

After getting ready for dinner we took a taxi to a restaurant called Alux Caverna. Literally… it was a restaurant in a cenote (that’s right, cenote numero tres for the day!). The ambiance in this place was seriously the coolest I have ever experienced…. but to say the food was a disappointment would be an understatement. We both ordered the T-bone and it was literally so fatty and unlike any texture we had ever had that we actually asked the waitress, “This is beef…right?” (it was). Not only that, but it lacked any sides! They literally sprinkled three baby corns on top and called it a meal (an expensive one). Even the cheesecake was a huge letdown (and I very rarely get letdown by cheesecake). It came out the size of a sand dollar and well… maybe it was for the best, since there was less we had to force ourselves to eat.

This was the view from our table (that’s water at the bottom). Like I said, ambiance was amazing… but I’d recommend just going for drinks.

cenote cave

Feb. 13: A Day of Rest

On our second day we got up and enjoyed the yummy breakfast made for us at the B&B. We enjoyed all the cool outdoor space and listened to a sermon up on the roof before checking out. (aren’t these bar swings the coolest!?)

roof

We then took a taxi to the Grand Hyatt (where we would be spending the next two nights) and left our bags at the concierge while we went to grab some lunch at Yo Amo Tacos. The tacos were yummy, but the sea bass ceviche was DELICIOUS. I couldn’t get enough of it.

ceviche

Back at the Hyatt we got settled into our room. The contrast between these two places were night and day. The B&B was quaint, homey, and made getting to know others much easier. However, the Hyatt was luxurious, right on the beach, and had a much better bed and pillows. We spent the next couple of hours laying out and taking a nap. It was glorious.

beach

After the sun went down we decided to wander around town. There was a group of four guys playing music up on the second floor of the outdoor mall, and they were absolutely amazing (check out my facebook to see a video)! We stood and listened to them for a good bit before wandering back toward the beach. We stumbled across a restaurant settled right on the sand and had a couple drinks and some wings while they played live music. They even had salsa classes! We danced a bit but mostly just relaxed since Adam had a bad headache. (we both know he just wanted to get out of dance class… lol jk babe)

beach sit

Feb. 14: The Day We Didn’t Really Do Anything 

Our attempt at sleeping in didn’t work (once again), because we are perpetually on baby-time, even when said baby is all the way back in the Sates lol. However, the wonderful breakfast we had at Impreste was totally worth it. For 190 pesos each you got tea or coffee, fresh made juice, yogurt and fruit, a basket of freshly baked muffins and pastries, and your choice of a main entree. I picked the eggs benedict with smoked salmon (sooooo yummy), but I can’t remember what Adam picked. The restaurant was beautifully decorated, and we both loved it.

12729145_10204295811070050_1696122945390859773_n

After breakfast we did some shopping on 5th avenue. There were lots of high end shops, but I wasn’t very impressed with the souvenir type stuff. Every shop seemed to have the same cheap stuff, and we were hard pressed to find any quality handmade items. We did end up finding some beautiful hand painted wine glasses and a mini bongo set for Landon.

We laid out on the beach for an hour or so but I wasn’t feeling very well so we went back to the hotel room and I took a long nap. After I woke up we ventured out into the local part of town to track down the restaurant my Dad raved about, El Fogon. We ordered the arracherra especial, and boy was it good! And cheap!

I still wasn’t feeling great so after dinner we went back to our room and paid way too much for an on demand movie before going to sleep.

Feb. 15: Walking, Collectivos, Buses, Oh My!

We checked out of our room and left our bags with the concierge before walking to catch a collectivo to Akumal Bay. The collectivos are big white vans that go up and down the main free way and are used by the locals (and smart tourists, because they’re really cheap!). They dropped us off on the side of the freeway and we walked down to Akumal and were told that we couldn’t swim with the sea turtles (the whole reason we had come!) because there was a strike on the beach and it was closed.

Frustrated, we decided to walk down to another restaurant my parents had recommended, La Buena Vida, and try to make the most of our time there. The restaurant was right on the beach and was such a relaxing location. We both had chicken quesadillas and then climbed to the top of the watch tower and enjoyed the view from up high.

tower

We still wanted to snorkel with the sea turtles so we headed back to the bay, and sure enough the strike had ended! We rented some gear and dove into the cold ocean. We saw (and touched) two turtles, but other than that there was nothing to see. It was Adam’s first time snorkeling in the ocean though, and seeing a sea turtle, so that was cool.

turtle

Kind of at the last minute we decided to catch another collectivo and head down to Tulum. We weren’t expecting much, but it was really incredible! It was really neat walking around and picturing what it was like in it’s prime. This picture just doesn’t do the striking landscape justice.

tulum

After making our way back to Playa Del Carmen (we ended up walking over 7 miles that day), we picked our luggage up at the Hyatt and then ate dinner at a restaurant off 5th street that was tucked back into a really pretty garden. I had what was called “chicken cake” which they said was like a Mexican lasagna, and it was really yummy!

We then made our way to the ADO bus station and took the bus up to the Cancun airport. (the public buses in Mexico are so much nicer than ours!) We then hopped on a shuttle to our hotel for the night. After getting settled into our room I called down to book a shuttle back to the airport in the morning, but they told me they only shuttle from the airport to the hotel (what!? who does that??), but assured me they would have an affordable taxi waiting for us.

Feb. 16: Home To See Our Boy!

So the next morning we walk down and they tell us that the 2 minute taxi ride is going to cost us $17 US! That was more than we spent on all the taxis combined over the course of the weekend. But it was 5:00 am, we were in a rush, and they knew they had us. (sneaky Mexicans! lol) We figure if that was the most trouble we had, we did pretty good.

I slept most of the way home and Adam watched The Martian. It was so good to see our little boy again once we got off the plane! Over all we had a wonderful time, and I would definitely go back to Playa Del Carmen. It had everything – great beaches, restaurants, nightlife, adventure, public transportation, etc. If you ever get the chance, go! Viva La Mexico!

Part Two of: Struggles of the 3rd/4th Generations… Discussing the Different Personalities and Bridging the Gaps

In a mere 48 hours, the first part to this blog received over 9,000 views and had over 2,000 shares. Guys, this is incredible! I am so excited that we are all talking about this. After much prayer, and reading and responding to many, many comments and messages (I was basically glued to my phone all weekend, driving my poor husband crazy), I have been able to better evaluate the things that I wrote and see some things from a different perspective. One of the biggest revelations was that the issues that I previously believed to be mostly based on generation, seems to be more based on personality. I had a first generation 70 year old tell me that he felt many of the ways that I do, and a fourth generation 20 year old say that she disagreed on many points.

There have been so many who have identified with these struggles, and as I expected, there have been many who have not. Regardless of how I personally feel about the points I brought up, everyone else’s feelings matter too, and in this second post, I would like to discuss all differing viewpoints, expound upon and clarify the points I was trying to make, and see if we can find a middle ground that will bring about more unity within the Body of Christ.

A big point I would like to touch on first is that I was in no way meaning this article to come off as a list of excuses or justifications for leaving the Church. Reading back over it I can see how what I wrote may have come across that way, and for that I am sorry. The point I was trying to make was that if those particular struggles are left to fester (either by the person them self or by the church), they can eventually lead to people leaving… whether that be their faith entirely, or just to find another church that better fits them. Some also saw my blog as an attack on the ministry and the churches, but my intention was only to let others who might share my struggles know that they aren’t alone, and to open the lines of communication in order to encourage one another.  (Oh, and by “glory years” I meant the fact that everyone was all together in one big church and there were so many awesome opportunities for young people to be together such as Ambassador College. Hope that clears those things up!)
So with that, let’s discuss.

1. When you’re given something, it’s not so easy to appreciate it
The other viewpoint: That our fire has to be inwardly fanned as much as outwardly. We cannot expect others to give us the passion we need, we must find this passion through studying and prayer, and continually work to keep it going ourselves.

We are absolutely responsible for our own faith and zeal, and cannot only lean on the church to provide it. All I was trying to do was give an insight to first/second generation Christians by letting them know what their kids or grandkids may be struggling with today. Yes, the first and second generations had many unique struggles of their own, and had to make extremely difficult choices (I would not have wanted to have had to make some of those difficult decisions), but just because we were born into the Faith doesn’t necessarily mean everything is easy for us, or that we are not grateful. We are extremely grateful for the faithful people who came before us and have preserved God’s truth in a very sinful and morally lax world. As third and fourth generation Christians, I believe the whole reason we struggle with feelings of guilt is because we are so grateful, and get frustrated with ourselves when we are not exuding the kind of passion that we see in others and know we should have as well.

Job 12:12, “Is not wisdom found among the aged? Does not long life bring about understanding?”
1 Tim. 4:12, “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example to those who believe.” Let’s appreciate those in the 1st/2nd generations and all the wisdom they have to offer, and let’s make them proud of us by the ways in which we live for God.

Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Let’s constantly pray, asking God to give us the passion and zeal for His truth and way of life that we so deeply desire.
• Let’s get our noses in the Bible and keep up regular study. It is perhaps the best way we can come to know who God is and what He expects of us.
• Let’s talk more with those of the older generations and allow their zeal to aid in lighting our own fire! We tend to mostly converse with those of our own age group, and this needs to change. There is so much we can learn from one another (young and old alike) if we will give each other the chance and open the lines of communication.
• Could we set up some sort of mentoring program? Like a big brother/big sister type scenario? That way we could better bridge the generational gaps and help us learn from one another and create an even closer family type relationship between one another.
• Let’s make sure we are giving our messages with feeling and zeal! Fire is catching.

2. We speak a different language… one of vulnerability, openness, and creativity
The other viewpoint: Those in authority have made great strides to reach the young people. They have set up camps, leadership weekends, Friday Night Lives, Bible Studies, etc… and we are not appreciating it as much as we should.

I personally have multiple family members in pastoral and deacon/elder positions and I know firsthand how hard they work and how hard it is to please everyone. I love them deeply and greatly respect the blood, sweat, and tears they have poured into serving the church. I also recognize that there have been some big changes in the activities and opportunities being offered to young people, for which I am so appreciative. The fact that these activities and opportunities are being offered is very positive and encouraging.
Through my original post I hoped to give insight into how better to reach the young people, to create content that speaks to a broader audience and to talk about the issues that some of us are experiencing, that maybe they may not have been aware of.

Rom. 14:13- “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead make up your mind to not put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of your brother or sister.” Let’s make sure we aren’t causing our spiritual siblings to stumble by not teaching or encouraging them in ways they need.

Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Give messages that are more expressive and give us personal lessons and examples of things you’ve been through so we can learn from your experiences. Stories and personal experiences of the struggles of your Christian walk and how God has helped you overcome them speaks directly to our generation and allows us to better relate to both the messenger and the message. Being vulnerable at times shows us that you are human and have the same struggles that we do.
• Be bright and exuberant while giving messages and making videos drawing us in with your passion for what you’re saying.
• As young people, we need to be sure to show appreciation for all the wonderful opportunities the ministry has worked hard to provide for us by doing everything we can to attend and help serve in these events.
• Let’s talk to the ministry and proactively share ideas for topics that we feel would be helpful for younger generations to hear about. Let’s give them suggestions on how to potentially reach more young people, whether it be through short youtube videos on making unleavened bread or to starting a database for song writers in the church to upload and share their music with others.

3. We ache for more meaningful ways to serve
The other viewpoint: The church provides multiples areas to serve and we should be taking advantage of those opportunities instead of complaining that there aren’t enough ways that we personally “want” to serve. It’s not always about getting something out of the service ourselves, but what we are doing to help others.

Great point! I touched on this briefly at the end of the article where I encouraged 3rd/4th generations to be proactive, but I should have talked about it more. “Be the change you wish to see” has never been truer. We absolutely have to start taking responsibility for our personal service and stop sitting around waiting for others to “fix” everything for us. While some may see what I wrote as just that, I was honestly trying to be proactive and positive by encouraging discussion which would hopefully lead to everyone becoming more proactive. The ministry is strapped with many responsibilities and often times need more helpers to get everything done. It is up to us to fill in the gaps! If we truly want to have more areas in which to serve, then we should be willing to put in the effort to make it happen and not just expect it to be handed to us.

While I hold fast to my belief that some of the tradition and culture in the church could do with some updating, I realize that it will never perfectly fit all of my needs, nor anyone else’s. But, we should all be making an effort to make sure that everyone is at least getting some of their needs met. There should be a constant ebb and flow. Maybe you don’t learn well with a sermon filled with lots of history and small details, but realize that this may be the exact kind of message that other people need to hear. Let’s be gracious and serve one another by allowing them to learn and serve in the way that they need. When we all do this, when we “esteem others better than ourselves”, it creates a perfect harmonious environment where everyone is serving and being served.

1 Peter 4:10, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as God’s stewards of the manifold grace of God.” All different gifts should be allowed to be used within the Church, as they were given by God for that very purpose.

Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:

•Maybe we could ask ourselves how many of our traditions are taken directly from the Bible and how many were put into place by HWA or other men. If the answer is the latter, then perhaps we could discuss possible appropriate ways of updating them.

While I realize that some of us are totally content with the hymns and type of music we typically have at our church, could we not begin to introduce some more modern, upbeat music at times? It would be great to see a wider range of music offered during church services, rather than just mostly one type.
• Work with your pastor or special music coordinator to find ways to contribute in the music program. Offer to help organize a musical group or ensemble that meets regularly in your local area and use it to fill in empty special music slots. Write some of your own music if you have that talent.
• Ministry, please be open to considering new ideas and suggestions from our younger generations, even if they may not be something that appeals to you personally. Items of personal preference that are brought up as a suggestion should obviously be things that are done “decently and in order” as well as be doctrinally sound.
• Find ways to serve those around your community as well if the needs of your congregation are being met. Volunteer at the Ronald McDonald house or Habitat for Humanity.

4. We don’t care about the politics, we just want to be together
The other viewpoint: The fact that we aren’t together is because of many more reasons than just politics.

I should have better clarified my statement on this point. I am well aware that there are many deeper issues that have caused us to be scattered into different fellowships at this time. The point I was trying to get across was that while the COG fellowships have differences of administration and customs, we still have a desire to spend time together with our spiritual brothers and sisters. Many of us would love for all the different Churches of God to be places where having visitors from other fellowships is welcomed. I realize that some fellowships have already done this, which is fabulous! In the end we are all brothers and sisters, and while it may not be possible at this time for us to merge the churches into one larger group, it would be wonderful to have open avenues to more easily love, appreciate, and embrace one another as part of a larger spiritual family.

Col. 3:13-14, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And of all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Let’s forgive any past histories we may have with one another and seek to love and unify the greater Body in any way that we can.

Proactive ideas for change and bridging the gaps:
• Let’s look for ways to open the lines of communication between the different COG groups to see where we might be able to encourage combined social/fellowship opportunities

• Could we find a way to share our Winter Family Weekends? Could we all agree on one city to meet in, and at least have our sports and social activities together?
• Could we open the doors to different fellowships in our areas by extending invitations to our church picnics, fun shows, and other activities?
• Could we find opportunities to work together on community service projects that would benefit others in need and let our Christian light shine?

5. We are inundated with distractions more than the generations before us
The other viewpoint: I have yet to find one (other than the fact that people of all ages say they struggle with distractions). Phew! At least there’s one we all agree on. 🙂

~~THE MOST IMPORTANT PART IS TO FOLLOW… KEEP READING… YOU CAN DO IT~

To those of you who do not share in the struggles that I listed in part one, I am genuinely happy for you! My husband is one of those people. He and I have very different personalities and learn in different ways, and while he doesn’t necessarily feel the way I do about everything, I appreciate the fact that he understands and accepts my differences. While our differences sometimes end up causing conflict, they also make us a more well-rounded couple. When we start to use our differences to help one another in a positive way and, realize that God created our different personality types in order to complement each other, we too can become an even more well-rounded church.

Generally, it seems that people fall into one of two personality types, though some find themselves somewhere in the middle.

1. The traditionalists – they tend to be doers, they learn best with facts and solid data, focus on what is immediate and practical and are content with living life the way it is now because it makes sense to them (perhaps many people who didn’t relate to my previous blog fall into this category). One of their key strengths is that they make sure we don’t compromise core beliefs when times of change do come about.

2. The innovators – they tend to be deep, outside-the-box thinkers, they learn best in creative and inspiring environments, and are constantly looking for ways to do things better by looking at the big picture (perhaps many people who did relate to my previous blog fall into this category). One of their key strengths is that they look for areas of potential change where additional growth can be brought about.

I posted my original blog hoping to give a perspective of those that are maybe more the “innovator” type. I did not post it expecting traditionalists to adopt a completely different way of thinking (nor do I want to), but rather to encourage discussions that will help us find a happy middle ground. It is important to remember that just because we may not personally identify with the concerns or struggles of our brother/sister, does not mean his or her concerns are not of value. As human beings, we each will experience times of difficulty and struggle. Having the help and loving support of others in our church provides us with the encouragement that we all need as Christians. As God works in us to become a more perfect body, we should continually look for ways to grow in grace and knowledge and lift one another up in love and with patience.

“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” – Heb 10:24-25.

So in conclusion, in order to be a stronger church we need both the traditionalists and the innovators! Let’s remember we were not created differently to conflict with each other, but to complement one another. God didn’t create us with all the same personalities and gifts for a reason… and it’s the same reason that Jesus had 12 different disciples… because He wanted us to all bring something unique to the table, and for us to learn that we can’t do it all ourselves. We need to trust and lean on one another as we journey toward God’s kingdom. We all make up a part of the body of Christ, and unless those parts can come together and work in unity, we will never reach our fullest potential.

Respectfully share your ideas for bridging the gaps in the comments section, with your friends and family, your congregation, and your ministers. Let’s keep praying, talking, and stoking that spiritual fire! Love to you all, my brothers and sisters.

Struggles of a 3rd/4th Generation Christian… and Why They Keep Leaving

Honest Always

One of the biggest concerns for our Church today is an aging ministry. The older generations are asking themselves, “Who’s going to take over the work of the church when we’re gone?” Not only does there seem to be a lack of interest in this type of “career” by our young people, but there is a constant stream of them leaving the church all together. 1st and 2nd generation Christians are befuddled by this, wondering what it is that the younger generations aren’t getting.

Drawing from my feelings and experiences as a 4th generation kid/teenager/young adult that grew up in the church, I hope to better explain some of the struggles our young people are facing. I realize that these are not the feelings of every 3rd/4th generation Christian. This is merely a broad generalization. Also, I am in no way trying to put the church down…

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