Waiting For A

Cloth diapers are in the first drawer. Blankets are on her ladder. Richard Parker is patiently waiting in her crib. Almost every afternoon, I impatiently sit on her glider.

We just had one big ultrasound and that was going to give us some final answers, but that didn’t happen.  So, here we are waiting.

We’re waiting to know how we’ll welcome her into the world. We’re waiting for the best time to place our hospital bag in the car.  We’re waiting for the drive to the hospital.  We’re waiting for the monitors to get hooked up to my big belly. We’re waiting for the moment the nurse lets us know that it’s time to either push or prep for her arrival. We’re waiting. We’re exactly 7 weeks and 6 days away from her official due date. We know the wait may take a few days less or even a few more. But we’re waiting.

In the middle of this waiting room, I find myself growing agitated with the smallest thoughts.  And, nervous. And, I find myself pacing back and forth in my mind. Do we have everything? Are we ready? Is the checklist cleared off? And in the middle of it all, my yearning to finally hold her has driven me to tears. I’m ready for you, A.

Even though it’s been mostly a blink of an eye, it feels like we have been waiting for a lifetime for this precious one. We’ve waited through blood tests. We’ve waited through exams. We’ve waited through ultrasounds where we see her beautiful face. We’ve waited through His moments of silence.  We’ve waited through His perfect timing. All I feel like we’ve done is wait.

But through it all we wait to reach the perfect little one who is “more precious than rubies” (Proverbs 3:15). We wait for the moment that we can count her toes and fingers. We wait for the moment daddy can finally hold her. We wait for the moment where we hold our entire world in our hands. The moment that we can dedicate this new life to the Lord.

Oh, precious girl, we’re waiting for you.

Twenty-Five

Twenty-five. I’ve been Mrs. Matthew Ariñez for twenty-five days.

For twenty-five days, we have already had quite the adventure.

Day One.

We danced our night away with our best friends and dearest families.

Day Two.

We traveled to Latin America and sat by the sea.

Day Nine.

We survived cabin fever during the great Charleston flood.

Day Eleven.

We prayed that I wouldn’t be in so much pain.

Day Fourteen.

We relied on God and our family to get us through the pain.

Day Eighteen.

We bid adieu at the airport.

Day Twenty-One.

We held one another just a little tighter as we binge watched Netflix.

Day Twenty-Three.

We went to church as Mr. and Mrs. for the first time.

On this twenty-fifth day, Matthew left home around 5:45 a.m. and I won’t see him until I’m back home around 10:30 p.m.  I woke up just a little earlier so I could spend some waking moments with him.  It’s going to be a long day.  A little too long.

It’s been a marvelously challenging twenty-five days.  They’ve been plenty blissful though.  It’s fun having your best friend around all the time.  It’s a blessing to have someone who loves you keep you accountable whether it’s about a late night PB&J sandwich or saying prayer before a meal.  Marriage will be challenging, but I’m absolutely positive that it’ll be a blessing all the more.

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Gleefully Busy

God is good all the time.  All the time God is good.

Time.  I have a lot of that lately and then some days. . .I don’t.  I’m not drained though.  Nice, right?  God is the ultimate keeper of time and He has been quite generous with me.

The last few months, I have entered a new season of my life

Ecclesiastes 3 has become one of my favorite passages (Thank you, NBC Girlfriends!).

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens.

I’m not completely sure what time I’m in, but I will tell you that I’m enjoying it.

Let me catch you up on my oh-so-wonderful life, yes?

The routine parts are still the same: I wake up.  I box & kickbox (two mornings a week and an evening here and there). I talk to God. I listen to Spotify. I read some of a book. I watch some Netflix. I sit outside and just listen. I eat. I sleep. I live.

IMG_0587I’m seeing and speaking to a lot more of my family and friends lately.  It’s amazing what happens when you truly set aside time to text or make a phone call.  Even when you just randomly ask your childhood friend, “How long have we known one another?” and marveling at how long it truly has been since you were both playing on the monkey bars from a small small town in Florida. Or even when you have a weekly talk about “adulthood” and tough decisions that need to be made. . .soon.

Matthew and I are nearly done planning our fall wedding!  We have a few logistical wrinkles to iron out, but we are moving right along.  I think that by end of June we should have everything completed and then we will only have to finalize the RSVPs.  We are happy, too.  Genuinely happy.  Believe me, it’s not all ice cream and chocolate shakes, but we are happy.  I like knowing I have my best friend for the next 60+ years. Our time together?  We have plenty of it.  Whether moments of silence while we each work on our own hobbies or laughing away at one another’s lame jokes. . .we are protecting our time with one another.

Belle is doing well, too.  Our morning walks and her requests for evening trips to the beach with her allow us to enjoy majestic sunsets, acoustic serenades and sandy toes

Moving on. . .

I’m still a Big Sister through the Carolina Youth Development Center’s Big Brother Big Sister mentorship program. We haven’t seen one another much the last two weeks, but we text like no one’s business!  She’s amazing and beautiful. I’m privileged to be her Big.

And, finally, my newest adventure. . .

In late April, I attended a volunteer information meeting for Doors to Freedom, a faith-based organization serving sex trafficking survivors. Well, first let me back up a little.  Quite a few months ago I begin praying about finding a non-profit volunteer position in which I could volunteer my time and marketing skills.  I did several searches and even reached out to various organizations.  Nothing was sticking.  Nothing felt right.

Fast forward to early April.  I was invited to the initial volunteer meeting by a new friend. I wasn’t busy and I felt like I simply needed to go.  I did.  I wasn’t sure what positions they needed help filling and I certainly didn’t know what was in store.  As the Development Coordinator went through open slots it finally all made sense.  Nearly every marketing department position was available. It was clear that there was enough work, but just not enough workers. . .yet.  That evening I was beyond excited and told Matthew and my mom all about it.  This felt right.  God’s timing was perfect, of course.

After an interview with the Development Coordinator and Connections Coordinator, I was offered the Marketing Coordinator position. The last three weeks have left me quite gleefully busy.  Some evenings have been spent at Starbucks prioritizing our goals.  Some of my lunch breaks have been spent creating new calendars and policies/procedures.  Some mornings have been spent readjusting my calendar to make sure there’s enough time between meetings to make enough progress.  I am elated and humbled to be a part of this amazing organization.  Humbled.  Humbled. Humbled.

From our website:

OUR MISSION Doors to Freedom has been established to provide a safe place for survivors of sex trafficking to experience a transformed life.

OUR VISION Doors to Freedom’s desire is to lovingly support each individual as she overcomes her traumatic past and receives total restoration: body, soul, and spirit. We are committed to providing a place, free of charge, for these girls to call home. Through counseling, life skills training, vocational training and continuing education she will find new life, restored hope, and a beautiful future.

WE BELIEVE – Our organization believes truth is essential for freedom. Knowing truth and understanding truth gives meaning to the value of life. Understanding your value restores dignity and offers a new perspective on life. The right perspective restores hope and allows one to dream again for their future.

Doors to Freedom is recognized by the State of S.C. as a 501c3 non-profit.

Pretty amazing organization, right? I can’t wait to share what great events we have coming up soon.

I’ve been busy these last few months and I know I will be busy for months to come.  Some days I’m dead tired when I fall into bed, but the next morning I am always well rested.

I’ve finally found (or nearly found) the perfect balance of serving God, serving others and loving who He loves.  I’m not naive to think this will go so well forever, but I am willing to place my faith, health and ambitions in the God who created every second, minute and hour of my life.

Sunday Love

It would be quite easy for me to write about how beautiful Sunday was in downtown Charleston.

It would be easy to describe the quick kisses the wind left on our faces.

It would be easy to describe the gentle embrace the sun spoiled us with for hours.

It would be easy to describe the perfect balance of hushed voices and jubilant exchanges on King Street.

It would be easy to describe the romance of new memories having old buildings as backdrops.

It would be easy to describe the way time slowed down on a day that we welcomed just a few more moments of sunshine. . .

But, I won’t,  I’ll show you.

Lent & Water

logo_download2I’ll be honest, as a Southern Baptist, Lent was never really observed in my home.  I knew what it meant to Catholics as my grandmother practiced it religiously (pun intended!). I knew that it was the 40 day countdown  until Easter.  I knew what it was, but didn’t observe it.  Over the last few years though, I have taken a different approach to lent.  Rather than use these 40 days to partake in a penance of sorts, I’ve decided to approach these next 40 days different than I have in the past.

Before I continue on, let me share the following excerpt from a Baptist minister’s blog found here. I agree with wholeheartedly with these words:

For Baptists, Lent is a choice not an obligation. Freedom in Christ means we are free to choose to observe Lent or not. Observing Lent puts us in sync with the broader Christian community. Also, we cannot fully appreciate Jesus’ resurrection without spending time reflecting on his sufferings. We live in a privileged society where hardly anyone suffers for being a Christian. A little self-imposed hardship during Lent builds spiritual character and can deepen our understanding of our faith.  (Read more here.)

On my own accord, along with Matthew, this year for Lent we will be participating in Save A Drink.  Save A Life.  This campaign centered around Lent is a part of the Blood:Water organization.  Here is the Blood:Water mission statement:

We are a community, motivated by the love of Christ, to create lasting change in Africa. We give our lives to serve local leaders and join them in the fight to end the HIV/AIDS and water crises.

We will be giving up our favorite drinks over the next 40 days to donate that money to three villages in southern Rwanda in hopes of giving 2,000 individuals better access to fresh water. Take a minute to learn more by watching the following video.

With Lent just a couple of hours away, I’m getting in my final hot chocolate and sweet tea.  It will be a challenging 40 days, but with God we know we can not only grow closer to Him by realizing how abundantly He has blessed us with water – as well as so much more – but by also giving back to his children on another continent.

If you would like to donate to this cause, please visit our page.  If you would like to join our team, feel free to do so, as well!

“Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’” John 4:13-14