2017 will be our first Christmas in Cali. We've been adjusting to the West Coast life for about 4 months. It's been great and it's been tough at times. We love where we live in Pasadena, it's such a great city. Our church is amazing and it has some of the most wonderful people in it.
This year will also be our first Christmas with no family. Just the three of us. Of course that comes with the pressure of trying to make it a great one. I've been trying to think of activities and ideas of things to do and places to go so that we have the best memories of our first Christmas by ourselves. We'll make cookies and rice krispy treats with Jordan and go somewhere really fun the day after Christmas. Me and Jordan will paint pottery on Christmas Eve together. but I put pressure on myself to make Christmas magical for Jordan like it was for me as a kid. (Thanks Mom! You always made it so special.)
But as I thought about writing this blog, I started thinking about the first Christmas. I started thinking about Mary and her journey. She had to go all the way to Bethlehem, not by choice, and 10 months pregnant with Jesus. I probably would've have thought if I'm pregnant with Jesus, I could get a pass or something! And then getting to Bethlehem and going into labor, all to find out there aren't any rooms available. At that point, I would've felt like God had abandoned me. If I was in Mary's position, the only reason I was in labor at all, was because God "found favor" with me, and now I can't even find a hotel room to deliver this baby. Where was that favor now? I would've have felt like it was so wrong to give birth to a king in a stable. Why wouldn't God have a beautiful room for Jesus to be born in? Instead of one filled with the smell of donkey poop and hay.
To be honest, during these past 8 months of transition, there have been a handful of times I've felt this way. Wondering why things weren't going the way I felt they should be. Especially, because the only reason we were in these situations was because we were being obedient to what we heard God tell us. And sometimes I felt like God had abandoned us. That we followed Him all the way across the country, with no family, to start completely over and to feel alone. Alone for Christmas, and alone in other areas. Living in an empty apartment for two weeks because our stuff was delayed by Hurricane Irma, but wanting nothing more than to feel like we were "home". We hadn't had our own home in 6 months. When Jordan was having so much trouble adjusting and his separation anxiety had worn us all out, I wondered where God was. We were only going through all of this because we listened. Because we traveled our own journey to California or maybe it was our "Bethlehem". There were moments where I felt like I could smell the donkey poop and hay. Why wasn't God fixing the problems? Why wasn't there any room in the Inn? Why did we have to travel so far?
But then I thought back to Mary. If she hadn't faced the problems, she wouldn't have fulfilled the promise. If she hadn't traveled to Bethlehem 10 months pregnant, then the prophecy of where Jesus was born wouldn't have been fulfilled. If all the Inns didn't tell her they were full, the prophecy of "finding him lying in a manager, wrapped in swaddling clothes" would have never been complete. Sometimes our problems are the very way that God shows His promises. I can say this is so true through these few months. God has shown himself so faithful, even though there were problems. Problems that I didn't think He was fixing fast enough, but through all of it, His promises are still true. So if you're facing problems during this Christmas season, hold on to those promises you have. Scriptures that promise "He'll never leave you or forsake you." Promises He's spoken to you about doors He'll open, relationships He'll heal, needs that He'll meet.
Problems have to go through a process to make it to the place of a promise. Mary had to go through an uncomfortable process to get to where the promise was. It was her faith that kept her through it all. Clearly, I've confessed that my faith would've have probably questioned God, and I have questioned Him plenty of times lately. But I do know that He is faithful, He cannot fail, and He will always fulfill His promise.
Hope you all have a wonderful Christmas celebrating the birth of Jesus with family and friends! We'll be blowing out candle's for Jesus's birthday and making the best memories of our first Christmas in Cali.
On Thursday this week, I was itching to get me and Jordan out of the house! We have been staying home a lot so I can keep unpacking and getting us settled in our new house. I couldn't find anything to do except a story time in Palm Beach. I had never heard of this place before. It was called "The 4 Arts of Palm Beach". I kept going back and forth over whether to take him or not, but there was nothing else for us to do! So I finally said we'll go check it out, and I am SO glad we did!!!
Mom's of Palm Beach County, this was such a gem that I found!! It was in a beautiful garden with the most exotic flowers. They were absolutely gorgeous! Huge trees everywhere. Then, a beautiful open grass area for the kids to run around. They read 3 books with songs in between. They were garden themed books. One was super cute about a little plant that was too shy to come out of his pot. Once all the kids yelled "Please come out!" the little plant peeps out with her blooming flower petals. (Sorry I didn't catch the name or Author!)
They had a beautiful pavilion where the kids did a cute craft in the shade. Which was nice, because it was really hot! They gave free planting kits. One was a fruit kit with watermelon seeds and the other was cantaloupe. They also gave away a taco planting kit, where you had everything you needed for tacos. Green peppers, tomatoes and fun stuff like that!
At the end, they had a map of the garden and a little scavenger hunt for certain plants and trees in the garden. Once you found the plant or tree, the kids got stickers. For Jordan, it was more like finding the volunteer with the stickers, and then they would show you a cool plant! Haha
Either way, we had such a great time and I couldn't wait to go back! Until I found that they only do Story Time in the Garden every other year!! I was so sad! We will be making plans to go to regular story times at the Palm Beach library, which are Mondays and Thursdays at 10:30. But if I could make a suggestion to that board of volunteers at the garden, I would love to do it more often! It was so exciting! Hope you enjoy the pictures!
P.S. I'm not a photographer! Hehe
This is one of my favorites!
Jordan and "Ice, Ice, Iceburg" haha
Jordan and the carrot
Showing off his finished craft.
This plant was called a "Lobster Claw".
Getting his stickers. He started putting them on his face instead of his paper.
Me and my boy!
Craft Time! I wish I would've taken a picture of the pavilion we were on. It was so pretty.
72 degrees on a beautiful Wednesday morning. Sitting at a local breakfast place and overwhelmed at God's faithfulness. We have just went through one of the craziest transitions for our family. Literally, walking by faith and just listening to God's direction. Our pastors always say that God speaks to you similar to how your headlights work at night. You can't see the whole road in front of you. The light doesn't go all the way to the next block, but it does go a few feet in front of you, and as you move the light moves. You can see directly what's in front of you, but nothing further. That is definitely how God has been working in our lives! Some of you know our story of the last 6 months, some of you know the short version, some of you just know we're back in West Palm Beach, but I wanted to really speak to how faithful God has been to us. Although it has been so scary and uncomfortable at times to follow God's leading, it has been such an amazing thing to see God's hand on our lives through this time.
December 31st was the end of our lease in St. Louis, Missouri. We loved St. Louis! We lived in the county, a little outside the city for our first year there, but once our lease was up, we wanted to move closer to the city. We've also moved A LOT in the last 6 years and I was ready to feel a little more settled. I wanted to rent a house for a year or two until we were able to buy our own home in St. Louis. I started looking for houses in November, just before Thanksgiving. 6 weeks would be plenty of time to find a place, or at least that's what I thought! Every time I thought we found the place for us, the door would slam in our face. Time after time the door was shut in our face for one reason or another. At this point December 31st had already come and while everyone was ringing in the new year, we were moving out of our town home into a bachelor pad's basement.
I remember waking up that morning on December 31st. I didn't want to get out of bed. I had so much faith in God that He was going to get us a place before that day came. We had worked so hard trying to find a new place. I knew every post on Trulia, Zillow and Craigslist. I could show you the disgusting houses that we had already seen, I could show you the scam listings on Craigslist. It was my job to find us a home, and I couldn't. But it was more frustrating to understand why God didn't open the door. They say a gentleman always opens a door, but the side I was seeing was just a "slamming the door shut" kind of God. The Bible says in Matthew 9:29 "According to your faith, be it done to you." I just couldn't understand if my faith could believe that He could find a place for us, why didn't it happen?!?!
It was during the stay at the "bachelor pad" that we got a phone call from our pastors. Asking us if we had ever thought of moving back to West Palm and if we would pray about the decision. Pierre clearly heard God telling us to move back. I remember Pierre saying "Here's your open door!" and I had tears streaming down my face, because we had prayed for so many open doors, and now the one that was open wasn't the one I wanted.
We had jumped in head first in St. Louis. As a wife of someone on staff, I didn't sit at home for a year with our son to see if Pierre's job was going to "work out". We knew God had called us there and we knew we were exactly where we were supposed to be. We made amazing friends, loved the people of all 3 campuses in St. Louis and Jordan had friends and lots of babysitters that loved him. And now God was telling us to leave everything that had finally become comfortable, again, and move across the country, again.
I don't know why God didn't tell us earlier. It would've been so much easier to give us a heads up at least! We could've put more stuff in our suitcase than just the 2 weeks of clothes we had, that ended up lasting us 3 1/2 months. I would've loved to have pulled out some summer clothes, rather than move to Florida with all winter sweaters and coats. But I also know that experiencing Him closing all those doors, gave me more peace and understanding knowing that Florida was what He was calling us to. The desire I had to not move any more, to be more stable, was challenged with moving 4 times in 4 months. Even after all of that though, God has given us such grace and peace through it all. Jordan has been so well behaved through every move, an 18 hour drive that got ruined by me getting the stomach flu, and through sleeping in a play pen for 4 months. God has made every place we've stayed so wonderful. I even missed the "bachelor pad" a little after we left.
Last night we had our first dinner in our new home. A beautiful townhouse. I am so overwhelmed that God has carried us through this journey. It hasn't been easy, and there were times we really questioned what the heck we were doing, and I'm sure everyone has experienced that feeling at some point. Where you want to look up at God and say "Where in the world are we going?!" "Do you know what you're doing up there?!" "Is there a point to any of this?!" Yes. Yes. Yes. He does. To all of those questions I yelled at God, and had to ask for forgiveness because my attitude was out of control. But now feeling the peace I feel in West Palm Beach, I know it was all for a reason. I just had to trust that He knew what He was doing.
So I just want to encourage anyone who doesn't know what's going on with their life. Who's questioning why doors are closing in their face. Doors that they REALLY wanted to open and had prayed for and cried for, yet they still closed. God always has a bigger plan, but just like the headlights, He can't show us the whole thing. He shows us step by step. West Palm Beach is home again, and we're excited about it. Excited for the campus that Faith Church has down here. Excited for the friends that are here and family that we have close again. But a part of our hearts are always in St. Louis and we miss the people there so much! We're excited to see all what God has for us here in Florida. So here's to new beginnings, again.
I wanted to write something for Mothers Day. It's been a little bit since I've written something on here, mostly because I just don't want this to be an overload of mundane things that go on in our life. Even though, there's been a lot going on here! I want to post when I have something important to say. And to be honest, it wasn't what I said but more about what was said to me that made me change my view this year for Mothers Day.
Two weeks ago, me and Pierre were in the kitchen talking about schedules and work, and planning babysitters and date night and all that good stuff, when he said to me "Hey, you're living the life!" And I just chuckled, "ha! Yea right!" He said, "think about it, you are home with Jordan during the week, you do weddings, which is your passion, on the weekends and you're singing on the worship team once a week at a church you love. Sounds like the life to me!" Once he said it, I realized he was right. But, why doesn't it feel like it? Why dont these days of having a toddler and being able to stay home with him feel like the wonderful memory they'll turn into?
I know someday I'll look back at us at this point, and miss the days of baby Jordan. The days of us just starting our family. Our journey with Faith Church just beginning, while living in St. Louis, Missouri away from what we know most of as a couple, which was South Florida. I'll remember us sharing our car, being clever with food to get us through, or the season of never watching movies because we would both fall asleep from just being too tired.
I told Pierre that i guess I didn't realize I was "living the life" because I just barely got the baby sitter for Friday, because I have a wedding, and he'll be in Florida and on and on it goes. Just barely making the schedule work, the bills getting paid, doctors appointments, milk allergies, and antibiotics with Jordan. Sometimes just making the day to day stuff happen feels like I'm just staying above water.
Ever since becoming a mother, I have had this urge to just high-five random women I see in public with kids. Just to tell them "Good job!" "You're doing it!" And especially moms with multiple kids! Sometimes I think they have secrets about parenthood that I haven't learned yet. I look at them with their 2 or 3 kids and just shake my head in disbelief. How do they do it? I just said my one year old makes me feel like I'm just staying above water! I'm sure putting another newborn in my lap would sink me for sure!
The crazy thing is....there are plenty of moms who have a one year old and a newborn in their lap! And they're doing it! They're making it happen!
Pierre had to remind me to give myself a break. And he's right. Why is it so easy for me to cheer on other mothers that I see out in public? Women, who I have no idea how they parent, no idea how they keep their house or treat their husband, but I want to congratulate them on being a successful mother. Yet, I can barely give myself credit for "just staying above water". Why is it so hard for us to pat ourselves on the back, but so easy to cheer someone else on? I don't even know what meltdown she had earlier today or how she lost her cool with her kids the day before. And she won't know my failures. I'd be too embarrassed to tell her, just like she'd be too embarrassed to tell me.
At the end of the day, we're all "doing it". Doing our best to raise amazing human beings. Doing our best to love and nurture them, even discipline them so the rest of the world can enjoy them rather than run from terror toddlers on a rampage. And yes, those terror toddlers will have their full on meltdowns in Walmart or a Resteraunt and you'll be completely embarrassed and want to freak out or just frantically apologize to everyone around you as you run out the door. But every mother has had that feeling. They know the embarrassment, the frustration, the feelings of questioning if you're good enough. Wondering at night if you're doing the right thing, is this the right choice to do this, do I need to switch this or that?
Motherhood is tough and it's the hardest job. But when you see their little smiles at you, or when they tell you they love you in their own way, you know nothing is better. When you tuck them in at night and their sleeping peacefully and you know you've made it through another day, you know they're worth every moment of feeling like you're going to lose your mind!
So next time you see a mom, give her a high five! Tell her she's doing it and she's rocking those 4 kids in the grocery store! Women who's kids are grown, tell that mom who's exhausted with her newborn, that it gets better! Or that her hair and outfit look great, which is a huge accomplishment for a mom with a newborn!
And moms who are in the middle of it, cherish it! It's easier said than done, but soak in every sweet moment (not the tantrum moments). And know that you're doing your very best and that someone else is thinking that you're doing an amazing job!
And here's a high five!!!
You're doing it! Happy Mothers Day!!
Just wanted to post pictures from Jordan's birthday party last week.
We had the most wonderful time celebrating this little boys' first birthday!
I'm so incredibly thankful for all the family that came out of town to enjoy the weekend with us. It was literally a dream come true for me! I know it was a sacrifice for everyone and I will always be so grateful for these amazing people in Jordan's life.
Jordan had the time of his life with all the attention and the smash cake! (Who ever thought of that idea, never had to clean up all that mess! haha) Great memories were made and love was all around!
Enjoy the pics!
P.S. Sorry I didn't get pics with everyone and Jordan! I started the day with my phone in my hand and lost it probably 20 times in the chaos!
Today is the day!! My baby boy turns 1!!!!
It has been a year of emotions. Laughter, tears, uncertainty, frustration, questions of "Am I doing this right?". Yet, God has been so faithful through it all. Parenthood is a life of up and downs. Days where you feel like a champion because your kid finally took a nap by himself, then days of frustration that they'll never do anything but hang from your shirt and cry for the next 18 years. One of the most valuable lesson I've learned this year is that things change. Seasons change, tantrums change, people change, babies change. Things that used to make them so upset, eventually won't. (Even though we still HATE diaper changes over here.) Things that used to make them happy, won't always be your saving grace!
You just learn to roll with the punches. Change with them. As they grow up, so do you. You learn what things in life really matter. The things that mom's write blogs that sound like they'll make or break your child, end up not mattering as much. If the formula is over an hour old, he's not going to die. If I have to give him a bottle to calm him down in the car, he's not going to die. (Those are attributes I've learned thanks to my husband of course! haha)
You survive. We survived!! We made it through the first year of parenthood! Through it, I've learned so much about myself. Good things and bad things, but I've also learned so much about God's grace. What would we do if He didn't give us so much mercy? I know I would be doomed. Being a parent has been the best object lesson of that.
Happy Birthday Jordan Pierre Aristil!
You have rocked mommy and daddy's world and we wouldn't have it any other way!
From the scariest day of our lives when you came into this world (a post for another day), we watched God's hand on you through it all. You have an amazing testimony that the world will know. We are so proud to be your parents and we love you more than we could ever tell you! You have such a bright future and we'll be cheering you on the whole way!
Enjoy the pictures! Some you might've seen before, some I've never posted so they'll be new to you!
Since going through the first year of motherhood, to moving across the country for my husbands job, there has been a roller coaster of emotions. Excitement, nervousness, shock, even fear if I'm completely honest. In November we found out that God was moving us to St. Louis, Missouri. In 3 weeks we had accepted the position, packed our apartment up and we were in "The Lou". It was a whirlwind of craziness! But, through all of those emotions, I've always had a strong peace in knowing God sent us here.
Now that we're here, we've had second ride on that roller coaster. From "What the heck were we thinking?!" (only for 2 seconds) to "Why did we leave Florida again?! It's 1 degree outside!" The past few weeks have also been very tight financially for us. Certain things were out of our control that made our budget tighter than we'd like it to be. I got 2 jobs with wedding companies, but there's no weddings in the Midwest until April. So when things got really tight for us, we knew God would take care of us. We've been here before, where God miraculously pays bills, money shows up out of no where or $500 walks to your front door to pay your rent. (I'll never forget that one!) I was already on a fast but didn't feel peace to stop fasting. God has provided just enough for us. Although I'm so thankful for that, I know God is not a God of "enough" and knowing He's a God of "more than enough" I added two more weeks to my fast.
We were standing strong. Knowing that God sent us here, so He has to take care of us. I even had a quick conversation with someone about changing jobs and I told him "God knows every deadline you have coming up." Those words came back to bite me as my faith got a little weaker over the days. When things start piling up and you honestly get tired of working your faith. You get fatigued, just like when you're working out your physical body. Most of us have had that experience in working out, where you're pushed to your limit. You don't think you can go any further. Your body feels like it's going to give up on you and let's be real, if you're a girl, you just want to cry! Those bills are staring you in the face, and after a while you can't ignore them anymore. Your problems, your bills start talking louder to you and your faith is shriveled up in the corner crying, and silent.
My husband of course encouraged me and also knew it was just my emotions getting the best of me. Then today I read this in 2 Corinthians 4:8-9,16-18
"We have troubles all around us, but we are not defeated. We do not know what to do, but we do not give up the hope of living. We are persecuted, but God does not leave us. We are hurt sometimes, but we are not destroyed.
"So we do not give up. Our physical body is becoming older and weaker, but our spirit inside us is made new every day. We have small troubles for a while now, but they are helping us gain an eternal glory that is much greater than the troubles. We set our eyes not on what we see but on what we cannot see. What we see will last only a short time, but what we cannot see will last forever."
These past two months have been so much of an adjustment. We know God has something amazing here for us! Something that we could've only learned or obtained in good ole St. Louis, Missouri! We know this is just the beginning of our story and testimony that God is writing. If you've never known God as your provider, how can you tell someone else He'll provide? If you've never known Him as your healer, how can you encourage someone else facing a disease that "by His stripes we are healed"?
At the end of the day, emotions change! From day to day, you feel differently about something or someone. That's why we can't rely on our emotions to make life-changing decisions. If we would've taken this job on emotions, we would've thought we made a huge mistake. Instead, we listen to what God has to say. We allow Him to speak to us through His Word to give us direction. So, we ride this test-imony out. As He provides for us every single day. He is "our daily bread". Through random checks in the mail, to the lady in the line at the grocery story buying our groceries. We watch for God to work it all out, so He gets all the glory!
"If your children ask for bread, which of you would give them a stone? Or if your children ask for a fish, would you give them a snake? Even though you are bad, you know how to give good gifts to your children. How much more your heavenly Father will give good things to those who ask Him!"
Yes, it's true. I'm starting a blog! I've never really considered myself a writer. I actually wasn't very good at it in school! To be honest, I don't have a lot of knowledge of following other blogs either. But, in the last few months of my life a lot has changed! I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and moved across the country to St. Louis, Missouri. Through all of the changes and experiences that come with becoming a mother, I feel that other blogs have really helped me. Whether they made me feel less crazy (which you feel a lot in the first year of having your first baby!) or they made me laugh, or even put feelings into words that I couldn't figure out how to do. Me and Pierre (my amazing husband) have always felt like God uses our lives and experiences to build a testimony. Everything we go through is just a story to share with someone else. Maybe it will make them laugh, maybe it will make them feel normal or maybe it will just build their faith. But our experiences and our story, will hopefully, always bring glory to God! So, I'll be sharing a lot of different stuff through this. Who knows where it will end up! I'm sure it will include many "new mommy" experiences and trying to balance that with being a wife. I'll eventually share Jordan's (that beautiful baby boy I was speaking about earlier) story and how his life has already started as a testimony. I'm grateful to anyone who feels that my words or what I have to say is worth your time! I hope it either makes you laugh, makes you feel normal or builds your faith just as other bloggers have done for me! So....here's to starting something new!