Category Archives: Faith

Into the Unknown

This morning in Sunday School, we talked about the Prophet Jeremiah (chapters 42-43).  Israel asked him to seek God’s will for their lives as their enemies were coming.  What God told them was completely illogical, and went against what they thought they wanted to do.  We also talked about other examples in the Bible where God asked his people to do crazy things—Noah and the ark, Abraham leaving his country to follow God to an unknown place, Jesus asking us to love our enemies, and on and on.  As the students were reminded, there will be times that God asks us to step out in faith and do something that goes against what the world says is logical.  And when that time comes, if we choose to follow Him, he has something better planned for our futures than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

 

We are at that place in our lives.  We absolutely LOVE our students, youth parents/families, church staff, and Wesley.  However, we have felt God calling us to something new, and we know that when God leads us, we must follow.

 

Words cannot describe the heaviness in our hearts as we deliver this news.  We will miss so many people, and we thank God for the time that He has given us together.  If we only focused on the leaving part, we wouldn’t be able to make it.  But we know that God has a bigger plan and purpose than any of us could imagine.  He has a plan for our family, and He has a plan for the Wesley Youth and their families.  Since He is calling us to begin a new chapter, we also believe that He is already preparing someone to come and love the students and minister to all of the youth families.

 

We would also like to give some insight into this decision.  As most of you know, Staci’s family is in Oklahoma, and Michael’s family is in San Antonio.  This means we are almost 9 hours from Staci’s family, and 5 from Michael’s.  As Josiah has gotten older, it has been difficult being so far away.  It is our desire for him to grow up closer to his grandparents and other family.  As we began to feel God drawing us to a new stage, we felt Him leading us towards the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.  This will be a great central location between our families (3-4 hours for each).  Staci also has a lot of family in Dallas, including her grandpa who was recently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Many of you also know that we went to school in Dallas and met there.  All that to say, we feel the DFW area will be a great next step for our family.  We have also considered the Tyler area, because of our love for Pine Cove, the area, and Staci has family there as well.

 

In August, Michael began pursuing his Alternative Teaching Certification in Middle School Math.  One of his favorite parts of youth ministry is teaching the students, and we are looking forward to this new career choice.  We also feel that this will be a great springboard for ministry to students in a different setting, because we all know how much impact teachers can have on students.  While we have absolutely loved working with students for 5.5 years (over 3 of which have been at Wesley), we feel it is time for a different pace.  We will still be a part of ministry at whatever church God leads us to, but it will be on a volunteer basis.  This will also give Michael the opportunity to become more involved in the worship ministry of the church, which has always been one of his passions.

 

We have also applied for a ministry called Apartment Life.  If we are accepted into this program, we will be able to minister to people at our future apartment complex by planning a monthly event, welcoming new tenants, celebrating new babies, etc. in exchange for a portion of our rent.  We will also be encouraged and empowered to build relationships with our neighbors, possibly start an apartment Bible Study, and invite them to church.  Our prayer is that this will allow Staci to stay home with Josiah.

 

Please keep our family in your prayers during this time of transition.  We are trying to sell our house, and Michael is currently applying for teaching jobs.  We have no clue how God is going to work all of this out…all we know is that He is calling us to step out in faith.

 

We will continue to pray for the students, families, and Wesley as they are also in a time of transition.  As we mentioned earlier, we believe wholeheartedly that God has someone wonderful planned to come in and work with the students.

 

After visiting with our pastor and sharing all of this, we have collectively decided that our last Sunday will be January 5, unless Michael gets a job and needs to start before then.  It’s all coming so quickly…and it’s taking a lot of faith to resign without having something else lined up.  But we just keep on praying that God will provide and that He will help us rely on Him wholeheartedly in this time.  And while we are so sad to leave everyone here, we are excited to see what He has in store for our family.

 

Thank you to all of our friends and family, both here and away, for all of your encouragement and support.  We are so blessed to be a part of the ministry at Wesley.  While leaving our students and the youth families is the absolute hardest part of all of this, we know that God has a plan.  And just like we learned in Sunday School, His plan is always better than anything we could dream up for ourselves.

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–Michael and Staci

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P.S. If you’d like to read about our decision to move down here over three years ago, you can click HERE.  It’s a great reminder of how God orchestrates everything and how His plan is always the best.

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Friending

Michael and I have been watching a sermon series by Pastor Craig Groeschel entitled “Friending” (you can watch it at www.lifechurch.tv/watch).  The series is about friendship, as you could probably deduce from the title.  The second and third messages really hit me hard—in a good way.  Pastor Craig claims that we may be One Friend Away (message 2) or One Community Away (message 3) from changing the course of our destiny.

 

There are three types of poverty, Pastor Craig says: material poverty, spiritual poverty, and relational poverty.  Our nation is being overcome with relational poverty.  Someone might have 500 facebook friends and 200 followers on Instagram, but the chances are, they don’t even have five close friends that they could call in the middle of the night, or who have “refrigerator rights” at their house.  We can “connect” with hundreds of people around the world, but we might not have anyone we regularly sit down with and have a deep face-to-face conversation with.  In the same way, many people can not say with confidence that they have a community of other Christians that they “do life with”—rejoicing and crying together, bonding as true family, encouraging one another in Christ, ministering to others together, etc.

 

As we have watched these messages over the past three weeks, I have been convicted and challenged.  I realized that I am relationally impoverished.  Sure, I have a lot of people that I am “friends with”—I get along well with a lot of people, and I can have surface level, and sometimes even semi-deep, conversations with dozens of people.  But I have very few people who I would say know me and I know them.  And aside from my husband and family members who I am particularly close to, I haven’t done a good job of staying in touch with the close friends that God has blessed me with over the years.  In the same way, I have experienced true community, both in the Forge at Pine Cove, at college, and with different Bible study girls and couples.  But honestly, the last time I “did life” with someone other than my family was years ago.

 

So I invite you to join me in being challenged to get out of relational poverty, and begin forming (or rekindling) close, deep, face-to-face (or phone-to-phone if they live far away) friendships.  I am going to start by contacting friends that I am removed from physically, but I can still be close with relationally.  And then I am going to pray that God will show me other friendship possibilities.  But most of all, I am going to work on becoming the kind of friend that I would want to have—reaching out to others, being transparent, encouraging them, and just being present.  One year from now, I want to be able to say that I am relationally wealthy instead of in relational poverty.

 

As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:17 NLT

 

The Forge

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–Staci

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How are you doing relationally?  What is one thing you love about one of your closest friends?

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HOPE for MOORE T-Shirts

Hope for Moore

T-Shirts are $15, V-Neck T-Shirts are $20.  ALL PROCEEDS go to Disaster Relief in Moore, OK!

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For those of you who don’t know, my parents, sister, brother, and his family all live in Moore, OK.  I cannot even begin to describe how thankful I am that none of them were hurt in Monday’s disaster.  My parents’ house is literally one mile south of some of the worst damage.

The devastation is horrendous.  My heart feels like it’s been broken in pieces since Monday afternoon.

I wanted to do something to help with the relief, but I didn’t know what.  This morning, when Josiah woke up at 4:30 a.m., I had the idea to make a shirt.  After not being able to go back to sleep, I finally got up at 5:30 and got to work!

ALL PROCEEDS go to the Disaster Relief.  Orders and money are going through my church (thank you to my church for being so supportive and wanting to help Moore in this way!) so it is completely secure.  They will pass all funds on to UMCOR, the United Methodist Missions Organization that responds to disasters. All monies given to UMCOR go directly to the disaster area; none of it is used for administration, promotion or anything else.

I will be taking pre-orders for two weeks (until June 5).  The shirts will be in two weeks after that.  If I can get some corporations/individuals to underwrite the costs of the t-shirts, I will be able to order some extras to sell after the pre-order is over.  If you know of anyone, please email me at selizondo@wesleyumc.com!

You can find the order form below this.  Here’s the information on where to send your orders and money:

Staci Elizondo
Wesley United Methodist Church
3810 N. Major Dr.
Beaumont, TX 77713

Cash or checks only.  Make Checks Payable to Wesley UMC.  Write “Moore T-Shirt” in the Memo Line.

Please feel free to pass this information along.  Thank you!

–Staci

Hope for Moore Order


A Post Of Thankfulness Part 1- By M

I’m not on Facebook all the time, but I get on enough.  Anyway… I guess the popular thing to do for the month of November is to post something everyday that you are thankful for.  I think this is a great idea and awesome way to remember the true heart of the Thanksgiving holiday (Turkey and football are nice, but you get my point).

The only thing with posting something you are thankful for each day, most people start strong and by the second week of November most people stop.  So I decided to make sure I get all 30 days of thankfulness in, I’m going to post all thirty things right here, right now… but so I don’t bore everyone to death I’m actually going to break this into 2 posts –15 today and 15 later this week– and I’m going to try to keep each one relatively short so you can read through them all.  (Lastly, they are in no particular order)

Here we go!

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1.) My faith – It has made me who I am today

2.) My wife – The way I’ve described it before is that we are so much better together than apart.  Staci helps me be a better person in so many ways and challenges me to always grow and mature in my faith and in my daily life…. and we have so much fun together and so so so much more!

3.) My son – He is a sweet little guy and has already shown me so much about life, unconditional love, and so much more.

4.) My family – Since I already mention my personal family unit (Staci and Josiah), this one is for my immediate family.  Couldn’t be blessed with better mom, dad, brother/sister-in-law, and sister.  Also, all of Staci’s family is so special to me.  You hear all kinds of in-law horror stories… none here!  🙂

5.) My family – I know I already said family; this is for all the extended family!  I love my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. And once again, all the in-laws are awesome too!

6.) My job – Working with Staci is awesome. And getting to hang out with our students is awesome!

7.) Our students – We have an amazing group of kids at Wesley.  Love them to death!

8.) The Wesley Staff – While I’m still focused on the job front, we do have an incredible staff at Wesley

9.) Wesley Church Members – OK, one more for Wesley.  We do have some really awesome people in our congregation who care so much about their faith and each other.  What a great church family for Josiah to be raised in!

10.) Our house – Being able to build it from the ground up was a pretty cool experience. We love it and couldn’t be more happy to be here.

11.) My Heritage – Can’t lie… I love being a Mexican.

12.) The Spurs – Grew up loving them, going to games, watching them on TV.  I have lots of great (and not so great) memories with this team.  Love the way the Spurs really bring the city of San Antonio together… which brings me to…

13.) San Antonio – My home town.  It was an awesome city to grow up in.  I still love going to visit when I get the chance.  Mom, Dad, you better never move from there or I will be mad!

14.) The internet – Let’s face it… you wouldn’t be reading this if it weren’t for the inter webs!  But honestly, I love it for the quick and easy access to information and for how easy it makes keeping in touch with friends and family through email, facebook, blogs and…

15.) Facetime/Skype – I love that even though my immediate family are hundreds of miles apart we can still keep in touch through video chat!  And, it’s not like the really choppy stuff from back in the day; we’re talking quality audio and video here.  It’s especially nice with Josiah here so that he can see his family and they can see him even though we are so far apart.
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So those are a few… I’ll have more up soon so stay posted!

During this month of Thanksgiving, what are some things that you are thankful for?

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– M


Baby Update: The Plan

Well, a lot has been going on in the life of little Josiah. We wanted to give you a quick update since he’ll probably be here before too long!

  • He’s getting so big!  1.5 weeks ago, we had an ultrasound and he measured to weigh approximately 6 lbs, 11 oz.  So he’s probably in the middle 7 lbs by now.
  • I’ve officially been off all bedrest since June 7.  It’s been great to be able to move around and do whatever I feel like doing.  Needless to say, there’s been LOTS of nesting going on.
  • I’ve finally been able to start going on walks and doing my pregnancy workout video again.  It makes all the difference in the world to be able to be active.  (By the way, I highly recommend Lindsay Brin’s Pregnancy DVD Workout Videos; they’re separated into each trimester and a postnatal workout.)
  • Josiah is a little nut!  He makes my entire stomach move around constantly.  He gets hiccups multiple times a day, plays with Michael every time he touches my stomach or talks to him, and does some crazy moves.  He’s been too big to really kick for a while now, but it hasn’t kept him from moving around!

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Before I give an update on the Baby Plan (aka when we’re expecting him to come), here are the past few Pregnancy Bump Pictures.  I feel like I’ve stopped growing around…I guess he just looks different since he’s so much lower now.

Week 34

Week 35

Week 36

Week 37

Week 38

I haven’t taken a picture this week, but I’ll take one tonight because Michael and I are going on what will probably be our last date for a while.  We’re going to celebrate his 25th Birthday!  His actual birthday is the 2nd, but….

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JOSIAH WILL PROBABLY BE HERE THE 3RD!!!

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Yep, that’s right.  Our little guy will most likely be making his debut in 4 days!!!

How do we know?  Our little stinker is still breech.  He is already super strong willed, and he has refused to do anything the normal way this pregnancy.  First, it took a long time to actually get pregnant with him, then there was the marginal placenta previa, then he had echogenic bowels, then he tried to come super early…and now he wants to wait it out and stay in the position he wants to stay in…no matter what we try.

We’ve tried so many things to get him to turn, and he’s had fairly similar responses to each:

  • Michael has been talking to the lower part of my belly for months now.  Result: a kick in the mouth…or a punch in the cheek.
  • Shining a flashlight on my lower belly.  Result: he kicks the light.
  • Playing music on my lower belly.  Result: he LOVES the music.  He moves around…and he kicks the headphones, phone, etc.
  • I’ve even tried putting my shoulders on the ground and my rear in the air to make him confused so he’ll turn.  Result: lots of squirming and his head moving up to my ribs.  Oh, and dizziness and shortness of breath on my part.  Oh, and of course he kicks me with this too.

So, unless I have him this weekend (I’ve been having more contractions and other signs, but nothing to make me think he’ll be here in the next day), we’re scheduled to go back to the doctor on Monday and hopefully have him on Tuesday.  If I do go into labor before Tuesday, I’ll be having a c-section since he’s breech.

My doctor has scheduled to try to turn him (by pushing on him on the outside of my belly) on Tuesday.  Yes, I know this has the potential to be super painful.  But depending on his cooperation, it could make it where I can avoid a c-section.  And I’ve heard that sometimes it can even be a relatively quick and painless process.  It just depends.

Depending on my visit on Monday, we’ll know if she is going to induce me after the turning (if it’s successful).  If I’m progressed enough, (and I think I will be) I’ll be induced.  If not, we will wait until later in the week to try to induce me.  The reason for this is that she doesn’t want him to turn back around after he’s been turned.

There’s also a chance that the turning will distress him, in which case we’ll go straight to a c-section.  Also, if she can’t get him to turn or I’m in too much pain in the process, I think we go ahead and have a c-section.  I’m not sure if this will be on Tuesday or if we’ll just have one when I go into labor.  I’ll have to ask Monday.

So there’s the deal.  Josiah will more than likely be here in 4 days!! 

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I have to admit I’m a little nervous about the turning and about possibly having a c-section.  I texted with my cousin last night, and she reassured me about the c (she’s had two).  One of my friends here in town also had one recently and gave me a few pointers.  And I’ve talked to a few youth moms who have had kids turned.  But I’m still a little apprehensive about both.  So if you have any tips, I’m all ears!!

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We are getting SOOOOO excited for Josiah to finally be here!

I’ve done about 40 tubs of laundry (cloth diapers have to be “prepped”–more on this later; baby clothes; pillows; curtains; and more–pretty much anything I could wash in our house has been washed).

We’ve also gotten his room all ready (post on that SOON!).  I’m so thankful that Michael loves being involved in all of the baby stuff.

My mom cleaned like a pro when she was here a few weeks ago.  She did all of the baseboards, ceiling fans, dusting (including frames!), and more.

We’ve pretty much done everything we can to get ready for his arrival.  Now I just have to get a move-on with these thank you notes!  We’ve been SOOOO BLESSED.  And I want to make sure we say thank you before things get crazy with our little guy being here.

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I guess that’s pretty much it in the way of baby news.  We will let you all know when he’s finally here!  (In fact, I’ve already made a post draft with fill-in-the-blanks for his birth information!)

Thanks so much for reading along!  We’re excited to share all of this with you!

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–Staci and Michael

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PS. I’d love to hear any “turning”, c-section, or baby tips!  Click to leave a comment.

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SAMESTATE Concert – By M

Still trying hard to keep these posts coming regularly 🙂

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Recently, Staci and I, had the privilege to put on a free concert at Wesley Church where we work.  I have never felt so overwhelmed in my life, and yet never felt so rewarded afterward (… well, actually it at least ranks in my top 5 rewarding feelings for sure).

I never knew there was so much that went in to putting on this kind of event.  I wont go in to all the details or anything, but from booking the band, to providing for their stay, to getting the equipment rented, and trying our best to get this thing some publicity, it was quite a task.

I think one of my favorite parts of the whole thing was actually getting to meet the guys from SAMESTATE and Climbing Blind (we booked them to be the opening band).  They are all great people and it is so awesome to see honest, Christian young men trying to do spread the Word by using what God has gifted them.  It is also cool to be introduced to some new music that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about other wise.

Here are a couple of pics from the show:

Climbing Blind

SAMESTATE

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And Some of students:

You gotta go check out these guys!  They have great music and great hearts!  I wish the best for them and hope that God continues to use them in their ministry!  I leave you with this last thing:

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-M


It’s A……..

On Monday, we went to the doctor and had another ultrasound.  It turns out we are having a…

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BOY!

 

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We are SO excited!  We were going to be ecstatic either way, but it is so good to know!

Here are some things we’re really excited about with him being a little boy (Michael’s thoughts in italics):

  • Boys are so much fun to play with
  • Boys Don’t Break Daddy’s Heart
  • Boys are cheaper
  • Rough Housing/Wrestling/sports/etc.
  • Dad and Son bonding Time!
  • I can just picture the house being filled with little boy noises–trucks, guns, and everything else a little boy has to sound out as he plays
  • Boys have way less drama
  • He will have a boy cousin that’s only around 5 months older than him.  They’ll be best buddy-cousins!
  • Boys Are Cheaper!!!! (did we already say that?)
  • All of the monster and dinosaur baby boy clothes are adorable
  • All of the monster and dinosaur baby boy clothes are MANLY and AWESOME!!!!

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We’ve also decided the name already.  Actually, we’re over-achievers and had first child and second child boy and girl names picked out already.  But that’s besides the point.  🙂  His name will be:

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Josiah Michael Elizondo

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A little background information…  We love the story of Josiah in the Bible (2 Kings 21:24-23:30).  He became king of Judah at the age of 8.  2 Kings 22:2 says,

He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

While there were some other good kings in Israel and Judah, 2 Kings 23:25 says,

Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

He destroyed all of the false gods and places where false worship was practiced, and he turned the people of Judah back to God.  They began following the Law again and they celebrated Passover for the first time in many, many generations.

We just love his story–how such a young boy can live his life for God and impact an entire nation.

After we decided to name him Josiah, we looked up the meaning in one of my pregnancy apps.  It means “God heals” or “Jehovah has healed.”  This is absolutely perfect for us because God healed my body in order for us to even be able to have him.  We are so blessed.

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Thank you for letting us share our story with you!  We’re so excited about our little boy!

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–Michael and Staci

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Q for you:  Any tips on raising boys?  Any other reasons to add to our “excited it’s a boy” list?

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Worship Leadership – By M

Many of you who read our blog know that I play guitar and love music.  I began playing the summer before 9th grade mostly because I was bored and we had an unused guitar in the close and learning how to play gave me something to do.  Over the next few years I taught myself to play and sing, and eventually became a part of our youth worship band.  I had a great opportunity to continue to learn and practice and was mentored into leading worship.

Ever since the first time I lead worship (my Junior year of high school) I have loved letting that be a big part of my life and ministry.  Of course with the rewards of getting to lead worship, there are also many pressures.  We live in such a musically driven society, and, maybe it’s just me, but I feel like worship leaders are naturally judged based upon their skills, abilities, and styles.  Also, I think singing, much like public speaking, makes me people more subconscious than just about anything else.

So I have always found myself struggling with my vocal abilities while singing, as well as the fact that I’ve never really been a writer (sure, I write on our blog, but that’s not exactly poetic literature or anything).  And it has always made me feel a little “less than” as a musician and worship leader.

Then as I was reading one of the blogs I follow (Ragamuffin Soul) I was encouraged by what this graphic that the author, Carlos Whittaker (Who is a Worship Leader and church consultant of sorts) put up:

I found this really encouraging (Especially coming from a well-known worship leader and Christian icon).  It helps to remind me that even if I don’t have the best voice, or the best musical ability, or the ability to write the best song (or any song at all, for that matter) that God can and does use me as I lead in music worship.

I think this also applies in plenty of other ministries and areas of life.  So if you ever feel a little “less than” just because your not the child prodigy that can do everything without having to think about it, remember that God wants to and can use you no matter what you do!

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Have you ever felt a little “less than the rest” in life?  What’s something you’ve found to be encouraging in your life recently?

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– M


A Sunday Christmas – By M

This is year is kind of an unusual one.  For the first time since 2005, Christmas falls on a Sunday.  This makes for a pretty interesting December 25th for us Ministers and other church go-ers… To have a Christmas day service or not?  THIS POST by Jon Acuff made me think about this question again, and it made me want to post my own thoughts about it.

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Although our last Sunday Christmas day was only a few years back, I honestly don’t remember what our family did that day.  I had just completed my semester of college, and I do remember that I got pretty sick over the break, so the 2005 holiday is pretty much a blur to me.  Also, it was the first Christmas that my brother and sister didn’t spend the majority of Christmas break at home.  That shook things up around the house a bit.  And to top it off, it was the first of several years that my dad spent Christmas away from home on medical mission trip.  All this to say that it already wasn’t a typical Christmas at the Elizondo’s that year.

The only previous Sunday Christmas day previous to that (that I was old enough to remember) was in 1994.  I remember being bummed out that we had to get all dressed up and leave home for church when I wanted to stay at home and play with my new toys.  Granted, as a 7 year old, their really isn’t much else on the mind other than to play with your toys.

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This year, I have been struggling with the fact that Christmas lands on a Sunday meaning that Staci and I will be at our church’s 10am service rather than staying in enjoying the warmth and comfort of home.  That is, I struggled with this thought until this past Sunday.  During our church service, our senior pastor gave a pretty compelling message why it should be a no-brainer to have and attend church this Christmas day.

He pointed out how ironic it is that Christians are usually pretty good about getting upset that Christmas, the day we celebrate our Savior’s birth, is so horribly commercialized.   We fume about how the mainstream media is pushing the phrase “Happy Holidays” over “Merry Christmas.”  We demand that Culture not take the “Christ” out of Christmas!  Yet… we look at our calendars dreading the year that Christmas fall on Sunday.  Why?  Because it’s too inconvenient to go to our place of worship to celebrate Christ’s birth?  Because we’d rather stay in and play with all the new gifts and toys we got for Christmas?

I don’t post this to sound preachy.  I only post it because I was so convicted as the words came out of my pastor’s mouth.

Hopefully I can make Christmas more about this…

 

And less about this…

Presents, family, friends, memories… They’re all great!  And they are great by-products to the season.  But hopefully we can still put Christ at the front –above all else– this Christmas.

That’s my prayer for me this year.

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– M


Our Baby Story – Part 4

Click the following links for Part 1 HERE, Part 2 HERE, or Part 3 HERE.

Thank you so much for following along with our story.  It has been the hugest blessing for us to be able to share it with you.

(Michael’s thoughts will be in italics.)

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Our Baby Story – Part 4: From News to Now

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When we last left off, we’d just received the most wonderful news of our lives:  We were going to be parents!

My doctor ordered bloodwork for that day (Thursday) and for Monday, and the results came back great.  So we set up an appointment for an ultrasound and check-up with our fertility doctor for a few weeks later.

(By the way, I’m going to put the weekly belly pictures at the end, so you can see the comparison.)

While we didn’t talk about it much before the appointment, I was a little bit nervous that everything wouldn’t be ok.  We’d been praying SO much for the health and protection and growth of our baby, but I knew that there was a chance something could happen.  After we checked in, it was time for our very first ultrasound with a baby.  I’d had so many over the past 8 months that they were second nature to me, but this was the first time we were looking for our baby!

He called Michael over, and began the scan.  He told us that the black area showed a pregnancy, and that the little circle at the right of the shot was our baby.

You can see the little measuring dots on the top and bottom of our baby.  The thing to the left of the baby is the yolk sac, which he said would go away a few weeks from our ultrasound.

If you’re like me and you have a hard time seeing these things… more specifically, if you look at the small white ball all the way to the right of the big black blob, that’s our baby!  Still very tiny at this stage!

I can’t even describe the feeling of being able to see our baby!  Even though it didn’t look like a baby yet, we knew that it was growing, and that it would look like a baby before long.  He told us that the baby’s size was perfect (only 4mm long!), and that our due date of July 12 was correct.

The best thing, though, was getting to hear the heartbeat and see the baby’s little heart fluttering on the screen!  It looked like a little flicker in the circle, but it was very obviously a heartbeat.  It sounded like a fast little washing machine.  It was the most beautiful sound!  I started crying.  I was just so overwhelmed with thankfulness for this little child growing inside of me.

Thankfully, I didn’t start to cry.  I think it was because he was a male doctor.  But it was so so so SO exciting to see our little baby was inside of Staci.  And it was so incredible to see its little heart just fluttering away!  It was really reassuring to think that our baby was doing so well even at this very early stage.  I think God gave us the blessing of hearing/seeing the baby’s heart beat because we were both so so nervous that everything would be ok.

Here, you can see the heartbeat.  The doctor said it was very healthy!

(Sorry for the picture quality, by the way.  I snapped a picture of the pictures with my phone as we were in the car.  We haven’t had a chance to scan them yet.)

After our ultrasound, it was time to meet with the doctor in his office. We talked about pregnancy in general, my pregnancy, and any questions we had.  He said that since the baby’s heart was so healthy and he or she was the right size and everything, he’d release me to go to my OB-Gyn in Beaumont.

It’s so hard to put into words just how we felt.  It was a good type of overwhelming.  We were just blown away by God’s faithfulness and the fact that we were really and truly pregnant!  And hearing the baby’s heartbeat made it that much more real.  That is our child growing inside of me!

Also, one of the ironic things about our fertility doctor’s office is that it’s located right next to a very large OB-Gyn office.  So every time we came for an appointment we would always see tons and tons of very pregnant women, and to be honest it was hard to see them and just hope that we would be there someday.  So it was exciting to walk out of the office knowing that we had a baby on the way! 

Over the past month and a half, we’ve had so much fun telling our family, friends, and our youth.  It’s been wonderful to know that we’re so loved, and that our baby is already so loved.

Yeah our baby already has tons of love and attention!  Our baby better not be a shy one, because everyone is going to want to play with it.

Last Monday, we met with a lady in my doctor’s office for my prenatal interview.  She basically asked all of the preliminary questions (family health, lifestyle, etc.) and asked if I had any questions for her.  She also gave us an awesome goody bag with all sorts of freebies and mail-ins for more freebies (oh–and the important papers too).  We also met with the financial planner and she told us just how much our baby would cost us–well, the doctor’s portion at least.  It was actually less than we expected, and we found out that our insurance is fantastic, which is a huge blessing!

On Tuesday of this week, we had our first appointment with my actual OB-Gyn.  She is so hard to become established as a patient with.  She only accepts you if you’re already pregnant; and then she only takes a certain number per delivery month.  But since we found out I was pregnant so early, I was able to get a spot.  She is fantastic!  We both loved her.  We were a little bummed out that we weren’t going to get an ultrasound, but we’d already had the one to confirm the due date and see the heart beating (with my fertility doctor).  So we’ll just have to wait until next time.

After my exam, it was time to listen to the baby’s heartbeat.  She warned us that at this point in my pregnancy it might still be hard to hear the baby’s heartbeat with the doppler.  But if that was the case, we’d just get an ultrasound to hear it.  As soon as she touched the doppler to my stomach, we heard our little baby’s heart!  It was beating so clearly and strong.  Our doctor started smiling and said, “or it could be as easy as that!”  She told us that the heartbeat is perfect, and everything sounds great.  We’re so proud of our little baby!  At one point, she moved the doppler and we could hear my heartbeat and the baby’s heartbeat at the same time.  It was so crazy.  Our baby’s is so fast, and it sounds like a little washing machine; while mine is so slow and just sounds like thumps.  I’ll never cease to be amazed at this life growing inside of me.

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Week by week picture time!

Week 5 (the morning we found out)

Week 6

Week 7

We literally have no clue where that thing came from.  It was nothing one day, and a week later, I was pooching out big time.  And I shouldn’t have been showing at all yet.  I hadn’t gained even one pound…I think my body was just so excited that it had a baby inside.  But thankfully it hasn’t changed much since then.

Week 8

Week 9

Week 10

My belly looks bigger here than it actually is.  The whole holding under the belly thing is probably the best pregnancy trick.

Week 11

We haven’t taken a picture this week yet.

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Now, for pregnancy symptoms:

Fatigue: Since about the 6th week, I’ve felt like I’ve been hit by a train most days.  I’m so stinking tired!  I never knew that growing a baby would be so exhausting.  But I hear I should be getting some energy back in the next few weeks to a month.  There have been days where I’ve taken a 2.5 hour nap and still been tired.  A few weeks ago, Michael read that a brisk walk could help my fatigue, and it’s a lot shorter than a nap.  He convinced me to give it a try, and it worked!  So we’ve been taking 20-30 minute walks around our neighborhood quite a bit.

It’s good to get a little exercise too.  And it’s fun walking around the neighborhood right now and looking at everyone’s Christmas decorations.

Nausea: Even though I’d been a little queasy here and there, my nausea didn’t really hit me until the day before Thanksgiving.  I was literally sent running from my Meme’s house at the smell of the dressing cooking.  It was the worst Thanksgiving I’ve had as far as food goes.  All of my favorite foods were there, but I couldn’t eat much of anything.  But what was lost in food was made up for in family time!  The day after Thanksgiving was the first time I threw up.  Since then, I get sick about 1/3 to 1/2 of the time, and feel nauseous most of the time.  But I hear this should let up pretty soon as well.  I’m just glad that I haven’t been as sick as some of the people I know!

I guess this is to help me get used to the idea of throw up too… baby throw up… yay…

Food Aversions: The strangest things make me sick to even think about.  I’ve wanted practically nothing to do with bread.  For those of you who know me well, this is completely crazy.  Michael’s s’mores PopTarts also make me want to be sick.  The thought of most meats and veggies also turn my stomach.  But then there are times that I can eat tons of meat and not have a problem with it.  It’s just been so strange.

I don’t know why you hate my food 😦

Food Cravings: The first thing I craved was tomato basil soup from LeMadeline.  I have never, ever liked tomato basil soup, but I ate it like it was going out of style.  At first (before the nausea really kicked in) I was craving lots of veggies and eggs.  But now that’s sloped off some.  I go through milk, saltine crackers, cheddar cheese, apples (fruit of any kind, really), and pickles (only Claussen dill) like I never thought possible.  I also have been really into fresh strawberries with ice cream for a bedtime snack.  Now that my nausea is not so great and I’m losing a little weight, I know that it’s important to eat whatever I can handle.  But I’m sure there will be a time that I can no longer eat ice cream every day and get away with it!

Yikes!

Emotions: I’ve cried more over these last few weeks than I did all the rest of the year.  Michael has been so wonderful and understanding.  He just hugs me and lets me cry.  And when I started bawling while we watching Dumbo (where his mom is locked away and she holds him in her trunk, while “Baby Mine” plays) and every time it showed a part of the song in the extra features, he just held my hand and told me I was sweet.  But I’m sure he was thinking “this woman is crazy.”  I’ve also been working on our Disney World vacation for next December with Michael’s family, and I get choked up all the time while I’m making plans.  For the most part, I haven’t had mood swings, per se.  It’s just been that I’m a lot more emotional and teary than usual.

Yikes! Yikes!  🙂

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Thanks so much for reading along!  We absolutely LOVE being able to share our story with all of you.

And there will be more to come as the baby continues to grow inside of Staci.  Thank you for your love and support!!!

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–Michael and Staci

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