Friday, December 28, 2007

Christmas Pics

Here is the link to the Christmas Pictures I promised:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23448&l=a317f&id=607147099

Also, here is a link to some other miscellaneous pics:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=23447&id=607147099

Enjoy and thanks for the prayers!
Take care,
Terra

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Pray for Our Health

I posted this on our family blog but wanted to copy it here to let you all know what is going on. I will try my best to post as I can, though it will be a bit harder for the next week or so. In addition to the following post issues, my in-laws are in town until Saturday so there's not a lot of extra time available to me.

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First I want to thank everyone that reads this blog for their time. You may have noticed several of the last few posts have been regarding medical issues and this one is no different. In the past, our family has had very few medical concerns so all this is out of the ordinary. I'm asking for prayers for the following individual concerns.

James:
Pray for his arthritis. Fortunately, he's only had a couple of flare ups so far this winter and even those have been short lived. Pray specifically that his wrists, elbows, and knees continue to be okay.

Hannah Mai:
Pray for her allergies. I'm not even sure where all of her food allergies are going to take us in the future but I know it will not be easy. Children can grow out of many of them and I pray she does. If not, I pray the Lord continues to give grace.
Please also pray for her health and/or teeth cutting. For the last three days she has been an extreme handful. She is crying for no apparent reason and only satisfied when I pick her up. She's not even being happy with James and that is unusual. On the surface she appears to be okay. The only "sick" symptom she has is a stuffy nose. Everything else is good. She's been very, very needy and the stranger anxiety is only escalating. Please pray that I have great patience with her as sleep and free time have become rare commodities.

Terra:
Pray for my reproductive system. I got a call from the O.B. today saying that my pap came back "slightly" irregular. Again, they said it was likely not serious but would like to see me again in 6 months instead of the usual year. They said it did not show cancer or anything like that but is still a small concern. This is in addition to the ovary cyst that I have an ultrasound on Jan. 10. I've been extremely tired lately and having stomach cramps but who's to say it's not lack of sleep from dealing with an unhappy baby or maybe even a nice winter virus?
Pray also that I continue to get over this little bug I have. Each day I think it's over and my nose gets more stuffy or my throat starts to hurt again. All of you moms out there know how much harder dealing with a baby can be when you don't feel well yourself.

So I know that's a lot but I covet your prayers. These last few days have been extremely stressful and tiring for me. Pray that I have an overabundance of grace and patience with Hannah Mai. Pray that I seek the Lord during my times of discomfort. Pray that I grow in my steadfastness towards Christ.

Thank you all in advance. I pray your added Christmas memories were a blessing!

Take care,
Terra

Please Pray for Our Health.

First I want to thank everyone that reads this blog for their time. You may have noticed several of the last few posts have been regarding medical issues and this one is no different. In the past, our family has had very few medical concerns so all this is out of the ordinary. I'm asking for prayers for the following individual concerns.

James:
Pray for his arthritis. Fortunately, he's only had a couple of flare ups so far this winter and even those have been short lived. Pray specifically that his wrists, elbows, and knees continue to be okay.

Hannah Mai:
Pray for her allergies. I'm not even sure where all of her food allergies are going to take us in the future but I know it will not be easy. Children can grow out of many of them and I pray she does. If not, I pray the Lord continues to give grace.
Please also pray for her health and/or teeth cutting. For the last three days she has been an extreme handful. She is crying for no apparent reason and only satisfied when I pick her up. She's not even being happy with James and that is unusual. On the surface she appears to be okay. The only "sick" symptom she has is a stuffy nose. Everything else is good. She's been very, very needy and the stranger anxiety is only escalating. Please pray that I have great patience with her as sleep and free time have become rare commodities.

Terra:
Pray for my reproductive system. I got a call from the O.B. today saying that my pap came back "slightly" irregular. Again, they said it was likely not serious but would like to see me again in 6 months instead of the usual year. They said it did not show cancer or anything like that but is still a small concern. This is in addition to the ovary cyst that I have an ultrasound on Jan. 10. I've been extremely tired lately and having stomach cramps but who's to say it's not lack of sleep from dealing with an unhappy baby or maybe even a nice winter virus?
Pray also that I continue to get over this little bug I have. Each day I think it's over and my nose gets more stuffy or my throat starts to hurt again. All of you moms out there know how much harder dealing with a baby can be when you don't feel well yourself.

So I know that's a lot but I covet your prayers. These last few days have been extremely stressful and tiring for me. Pray that I have an overabundance of grace and patience with Hannah Mai. Pray that I seek the Lord during my times of discomfort. Pray that I grow in my steadfastness towards Christ.

Thank you all in advance. I pray your added Christmas memories were a blessing!

Take care,
Terra

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Tis the Season for Sickness!

Oh the joys of Christmas! Celebrating the birth of Christ, enjoying family, eating good food, and let's not forget.....the opportunity for illness!

Friday night, I fed Hannah a little cereal before putting her to bed. Eventually, I crawled into bed as well. I awoke around 5 to a crying baby AND a sore throat and congested nose. Where did that come from? After getting Hannah back to sleep and taking some sinus medicine, I also fell back asleep. Later that morning, I fed Hannah some more cereal and her bottle. I was not feeling well at all by this point. Within hours, my mom pointed out that Hannah's neck looked red. I assumed she had been laying on it for a while...no big deal. About an hour later, I noticed her neck was still really red. I decided to take off her clothes to reveal her entire back was covered in a large rash. I freaked out trying to figure out what could have caused it. We were all thinking of everything we could. Finally, we discovered the culprit - her breakfast.


For those of you that keep up with us, you know Hannah is allergic to dairy and soy. Well, time to add one more to the mix: oat/wheat. This was the first time I had introduced oatmeal cereal to Hannah (she usually has rice cereal). And I know for sure it had no soy in it as I'd already checked the packaging before I bought it. It was organic (considering that's the only stuff I can find without soy). The packaging's only listed ingredient: oat flour (and in bold, capitalized letters - Contains: Wheat). After going to the pharmacy and talking to Hannah's pediatrician, she was "prescribed" Benadryl every 6 hrs. The first dose did nothing. Her rash continued to spread until she looked like a little lobster. It covered her back, bottom, neck, arms, head, part of her chest and started to spread up her cheeks. The picture on this blog was taken at the very beginning of the rash, it got much worse. However, as pitiful as she looked, you would have never known anything was wrong by the way she was acting. Hannah was just as cheerful and happy as can be. Fortunately the reaction was not bad enough to cause breathing problems or an E.R. visit. I praise God for that.

I'm still trying to get over the little cold that I got, though I'm feeling much better than before. Hannah is a bit congested now too but not overwhelmingly so. If you're curious about my P.Rosea rash (see previous posts), it's still spreading but not covering my torso yet. Regardless of all the sick happenings...we praise God for safe travels and an enjoyable time back home. It was a sweet time of reflection and joy in Christ. I'll post a link to a ton of Christmas pictures once I have them available online.

Take care!

Terra

Friday, December 21, 2007

Away Until After Christmas!

Just wanted to leave a quick note to let you all know that I will not be posting again until after Christmas. It's time for me to spend time with some family and celebrate the birth of Christ! May God bless you all and I look forward to writing again after Christmas!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thanking Our Soldiers

I thought this was cool. I'm assuming it's all valid.

If you go to this web site, www.letssaythanks.com, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print and send it to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.

Take care!
Terra

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Plans

After James gets off of work Friday afternoon, we'll be making the trek to Murray, Kentucky to spend some time with my side of the family. We spent Thanksgiving here in Louisville with James' family (and my sis'). I'm looking forward to relaxing a bit and enjoying those I don't see often. It's weird, though my family lives closer, we've seen the Santos' more often in the last few months. ;) On the 25th, we'll be headed back to Louisville to welcome James' mom and dad for a few days. It should be a great time for us all.

We will likely not use the internet when we're back home because of both time and effort. My mom has dial-up and it drives me nuts after being used to cable internet. ;) Call me impatient, you would be accurate. If you need to reach us, please contact us on our cells.

We wish everyone a blessed Christmas and safe travels!

In Christ,
Terra

I Chose to Sin

For whatever reason, before bed last night, Hannah Mai decided she was not going to take her full bottle. I cringed as this more than likely meant she would wake up earlier than usual because she was hungry. I told myself, I'll just let her cry herself back to sleep. That always works in theory but then after hearing her cry for a while, it breaks your heart AND you just want to go back to sleep. I was blessed this morning when James volunteered to feed her since he was already up getting ready for work. So where am I going with all of this?

When I woke up and realized she was crying, more than 2 hours before she should be waking for the morning, I got irritated. Or maybe I should even go so far as to say I got angry. It wasn't simply that she was up early, though that was a big factor. Yet it was also because she did not eat as she should have last night. If she was sick or something, I wouldn't have minded so much. Anyway, back to the point, my heart was fuming.

"For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." - Matt 12:34 (ESV)

I don't know that I actually said anything sinful (maybe my husband would remember otherwise). However, I do know that I was thinking many sinful thoughts.

"Why didn't she eat like she should have last night?"
"Can't I just lay here and let her fall back to sleep?"
"All I want to do is get some sleep! Is that so much to ask?"

Anger. Idolatry. What is an idol? Anything that I'm willing to substitute and worship instead of God.

"And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it." - Isaiah 44:17

What was my idol? Sleep. Oh how I struggle in this area! Sleep is a gift from God. It reminds us that we are human and need rest to rejuvinate us. However, like any good gift, we can obsess over it and substitute it for God.

"Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty" - Prov 20:13 (ESV)

"How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man." - Prov 6:9-11 (ESV)

I chose to sin. Even as I got angry over my disrupted sleep, I knew it was wrong. Yet, I chose to sin. How evil our hearts can truly be! I need to remember that nobody else causes me to sin. The circumstances only bring out what is already in my heart. I praise God for His great forgiveness and new mercies each day! May I draw nearer to Him in my struggles.

In Christ,

Terra

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thyroid Test Was Normal

Just thought I'd update you all, the thyroid test was normal. I don't know if my doc will want anything else done regarding that issue or not. I'll keep you posted if so. Praise God for good results! ;)

Terra

Monday, December 17, 2007

My Saturday Morning Retreat

This Saturday, I had a wonderful opportunity to retreat with the Lord. My husband blessed me greatly by caring for Hannah Mai the entire morning while I retreated to my beloved Starbucks for four and a half hours. I was encouraged to retreat after listening to a message by: you guessed it, Mrs. Caryolyn Mahaney. And what a great time it was!

I began the morning by reading my daily scripture line-up and journaling my morning prayers. Afterwards, I pulled out a book I was given a while back entitled "Feminine Appeal" by Mrs. Mahaney. This book deals primarily with the calling of Titus 2 and each chapter is devoted to specific aspects of the passage. Considering I had a limited amount of time, I chose to read the first four chapters. After reading each one individually, I took the time to reflect and work through the study questions in the back. Then I listed specific areas I needed to grow in and specific ways I could do just that. I particularly prayed over my relationship with God first, my husband second, and my child third. I also dealt with the issue of self-control.

It was such a blessing to be able to steal away for a few hours and reflect on my calling as a Christian wife and mother. To have uninterrupted time of prayer, encouragement and reflection was a great renewal. I pray God reminds me of the points I listed and grows me with the wisdom and knowledge from above. I would highly recommend other ladies retreating (if only for a few hours like I did) so they can seek the Lord and His calling in their lives. If it is not reasonable for your husband to watch the kiddos, ask a friend. Maybe they'll be encouraged to do the same. ;) What a joy it is to meet with the Lord!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Also, if you're interested, I updated some info on some current health struggles on our family blog.

So NOT a Dream - And Other Concerns

So I'm pretty much sad to say it but I'm 99.8% sure the P.Rosea is preparing to reclaim my body (read my last blog for details). I'm leaving .2% for error: .1% for the fact it's a self-diagnosis and .1% for the fact it's not yet dominating by body. It can take up to 20 days to begin multiplying rapidly and it's only been about 10. I'm mostly concerned with the physical appearance and potential for scarring (again, read my last post). Two of the spots are already very dominant. Considering the rash lasts for about two months, it takes a great toll on your skin. But that is nothing...

...Today I had my yearly "ladies exam." I'll refrain from further explanation of that one. ;) Two potential problems: swollen thyroid glands and a cyst on my right ovary. I say potential because they could be relatively insignificant or they could be really big problems. I did not know until speaking with my mom tonight that ovary cysts are very common in my family. My mom, grandmother and great-grandmother have all had frequent issues with them. My mom was told at the age of 19 that she needed to have children as soon as possible because the scar tissue from her bursting cysts was already on it's way to destruction. By the time she had her last child, she had only one working ovary and problems with it.

Most of you all know that James and I desire to have a large family. We've discussed having 5 or 6 kids. *feel free to catch your breath after that one* However, we also have a love and excitement for adoption. If something was to prohibit our natural ability to have children, we would definitely go that direction. Yet I'm not hoping for that right now of course - as I would love to re-experience pregnancy and childbirth. *catch your breath again if necessary*

I sometimes have the ability to freak out over things that turn out to be petty. This may or may not be one of those times. Please pray for me and my physical issues. I had a blood test today for the thyroid issue and I have an ultrasound scheduled Jan. 10 for the cyst. I'll keep you posted. Thank you in advance for your prayers!

In Christ,
Terra

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Tell Me It's a Dream!

Aghhhhhh! Sorry, had to get that out. This is Terra and for those of you that may remember, last winter I had a 2 1/2 month long, obnoxious rash known as P(ityriasis) Rosea. It didn't hurt or itch (much). More than anything, it was an annoyance. At last count, I had over 180 red spots on my body, primarily on my torso.

About a week ago, I noticed a small, scaly looking spot on my right leg. But before I could dwell, I told myself I must have just scratched my leg. Then tonight, I noticed another two spots on my chest. I REALLY hope that it's just a coincidence and my body is playing tricks on me. According to one source, only 3% of people who have had P. Rosea will get it again. You've GOT to be joking me!

Please pray for me over the next week or so as I'll likely be able to tell more within that time frame. Again, it's more of a nuisance than a medical concern. I just don't like looking like a cheetah and the potential for scarring (I have a nickel sized scar on my leg from the last go around). May I keep my eyes on Christ and thank God that even if I do have it again, it's so much better than it could be.

If you're curious and would like to read a short snippet about P. Rosea, check out the following link by Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pityriasis_rosea.

Take care,
Terra

Such a Short Season

Do you ever have days in which you just wished everything you were currently dealing with was over and done with? If you tell me you never have, I’ll ask you if you’re lying. ;)

Seriously though. Maybe you’re a teenage girl and you just don’t understand why your parents won’t let you date yet. “Oh, I can’t wait until I’m older,” you dream. Maybe you’re single and you just can’t wait until you’re married. “Then everything will be perfect,” you assume. Maybe you’re a mother and you can’t wait until your child is walking. “Then things will be easier,” you think. Are you kidding yourself?

During church this week (and by no means for the first time), Hannah Mai and I got to spend our quality time out in the lobby. Yep – during the sermon. This week it was because she had a cold and I did not want to spread it to all the other babies in the nursery. Most other weeks it is simply because she has some serious separation anxiety and I get paged e-v-e-r-y , single week because she won’t stop crying. As I sit in the lobby, nursery or listening room, I struggle with self pity. “All I want to do is listen to an entire sermon”, I tell myself. “Why does she have to be so difficult? Why do I have to deal with this?” Don’t get me wrong, James helps and tries to alternate who sits out with her. But naturally, she is usually more comfortable with mommy.

This past Sunday I think I struggled more than most. Even when I got home, I was angry that I didn’t get to hear any of the message (unless you count the intro!). First off, I know it is ridiculous to be angry that I didn’t get to hear a message at church…contradictory to say the least. Nevertheless, that is how I felt. So I decided to do a quick search on Sovereign Grace’s website and I stumbled across an audio message by Carolyn Mahaney titled In Every Season of Life . It sounded intriguing so I listened to the entire message while straightening up around the house.

Carolyn drove home the point that there is a season for everything. Every season will pass in one form or another. But I’ve heard all that before, why did this particular message touch me? Well, I believe the Holy Spirit wanted to convict me for starters. Then Carolyn used an example – the perfect example for me to hear. She mentioned how she used to get frustrated and irritated when her daughters (she has 3) were babies and she’d have to miss church events. Then, when her youngest daughter was 12, she gave birth to a son. After witnessing how fast her season with her daughters had happened, she grew to cherish every little “inconvenience” and need her son had. God knew this example was so perfect for me at such a perfect time. I was brought to tears as I considered my heart issues. Do I really want my little one to grow up fast so I can hear all the sermons? No way! I need to cherish these moments knowing that this season will one day pass and I don’t want to regret things like this.

I won’t say that I’ll never struggle again with this particular issue or even others that may be similar. However, I do have a bit different perspective now and trust the Lord will continue to grow me in that area.

Praise God for grace and patience!

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” – Ecc. 3:1


My little Santa - doesn't she look like trouble? :)


In Christ,
Terra Santos

Saturday, December 8, 2007

26 Reasons Why I love My Wife, Terra Mai


In celebration of 26 years of God’s grace, I write 26 Reasons why I love my wife, Terra Mai

1. Terra Mai is God’s precious gift to me this side of eternity (Prov. 18:22).
2. Terra Mai loves her Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. She is reminded very regularly of God’s love for her in Christ Jesus (Lk. 7:47; Rom. 5:8).
3. Terra Mai strives to grow in her knowledge of Christ in the Scriptures and seeks to apply it in her marriage and parenting (2 Peter 3:18)
4. Terra Mai loves the body of Christ. She has given her time, gifts, and resources (Eph. 4:16)
5. Terra Mai loves her mom and siblings. She constantly thinks about them and prays for them.
6. Terra Mai esteems my interest as her husband much higher than hers (Phil. 2:4-5).
7. Terra Mai loves her daughter Hannah Mai very much. She feeds her, bathes her, changes her diapers, reads to her, talks to her constantly, hugs her, and many other things.
8. Terra Mai loves to pray for people (Eph. 6:18).
9. Terra Mai is compelled every evening to transfer glory to God for every faith-prompted purpose and gospel obedience that day (1 Cor. 10:31).
10. Terra Mai loves to encourage people through her writing (Heb. 10:24).
11. Terra Mai is always quick to admit her sin struggles and ask for forgiveness (Eph. 4:29).
12. Terra Mai loves to sing (Ps. 149:1).
13. Terra Mai loves to cook.
14. Terra Mai is one of the most creative people I know. She loves sewing and decorating.
15. Terra Mai has such a hospitable heart (Rom. 12:13).
16. Terra Mai is serious about putting to death sin in her life and looking to Christ for hope (Col. 3:5, 12.
17. Terra Mai pursues a heart of patience (2 Tim. 2:24).
18. Terra Mai has a heart for the nations (Ps. 67).
19. Terra Mai loves taking a lot of pictures. She loves to capture memorable moments in life (Ps 145:5).
20. Terra Mai loves to be organized.
21. Terra Mai values the time of others.
22. Terra Mai loves children. I have seen this when she has volunteered in the nursery and those she babysits (Ps. 145:4).
23. Terra Mai loves my Filipino culture. When we got married, she recited our vows in Tagalog (National language in the Philippines)!!!
24. Terra Mai has a teachable heart (Prov. 9:9).
25. Terra Mai strives to adorn more the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of and gentle and quiet spirit (1 Pet. 3:4).
26. Terra Mai loves life!!!

Happy 26th Birthday!!!
I Love You,
Your Husband

26 Years of Grace

In honor of my birthday today, I wanted to share 26 things I’m thankful for in my 26 years of God’s grace. If you’re curious about any of these, feel free to message and ask me.

1. My salvation in Jesus Christ. I was bought at a great price and one in which I can never repay. I praise God for this greatest gift of all.

2. My husband, James. Never in a million years would I have dreamed God would give me such a wonderful husband. Need I say more?

3. My daughter, Hannah Mai. To be a mother is a blessing. To be a mother so soon after marriage, an even greater blessing (honeymoon baby). To be a mother of Hannah Mai, my perfect blessing.

A. My other family.

      4. My mother, Darlene (& hubby Kenny). She is one of the a greatest examples of sacrifice to her children I have ever known. To this day, she continues to do so. I praise God for her life and love.

      5. My sister, Sheena (& hubby John). What a joy it was to live with her again (even if for only two weeks)! She’s a beautiful women who wants to grow in her love for the Lord and her family. I pray God leads her well.

      6. My brother, Jimmy (& wife Jamie). Though we rarely talk anymore, I still love him and pray for him regularly. He and I have always had similar personalities and with that, I pray harder for him! ;)

B. My in-laws.

      7. My Mama Tess. After passing initial differences, I’ve grown to know her as a woman of love. She’s a great example of Christ-like hospitality and is growing beautifully in forgiveness.

      8. My Papa Ben. If I could use one word to describe him, it’d be the word I’d want people to describe me: Joy. He’s always so vibrant and full of joy – especially when seeing his pride, Hannah Mai.

      9. My sis, Natalie (& hubby Todd). With a sweet spirit and insightful heart, I always enjoy my conversations with her. I love the way we’ve grown with one another.

10. My reconciliation with my father. Six years ago I was reconciled to my father after years of issues. Nine months later, he passed away from brain cancer. Yet God blessed me with reconciliation before he took him home.

11. My church. James and I have recently become members of Sojourn Community Church. It has been great getting to know our new family and seeking ways we can serve those around us.

12. My friends. I’ve made many wonderful new friendships this year and I’m so excited about growing in those relationships. A special mention is my neighbor Amy…she is such a blessing to me! I’m also thankful for old friends that continue to be there year after year.

13. My chiropractor. May sound odd but he and his office (Brownsboro Rd. Chiropractic) have been such a great blessing to me and my family this year! I have many neck problems (and some low back) and my visits are looked forward to each week!

14. My daughter’s pediatrician (Dr. Amy Bindner). She, as well as the rest of the office staff, are so incredibly helpful. They never treat me as an idiot (even when I feel like one) and help in any way they can. She is a sweet as can be and has really encouraged me as a first time mom.

15. My provisions. Though James and I are still struggling in finding him a new job (and me some part time at home work), God continues to provide. We have a home, 2 cars, electricity, heat, running water and then some. We cannot complain even in hardship.

16. My blog. Sounds silly but I’ve been blessed by taking the time to write blogs. Not only do people frequently express their encouragement towards my blogs, I get encouraged by meditating on the topics beforehand.

17. My health. As far as I know, I’m in good health. I know this is not the case for many people and I pray I use my good health to help those less fortunate.

18. My senses. Along with health, something I don’t think of often is my sense. Praise God for my vision, hearing, tasting, touching and smelling abilities! How much more enjoyable life is as a result.

19. My schooling. Even though I’m now a stay-at-home mom, I do have both a B.S. in Business Administration and a M.A. in Theological Studies. I’m so grateful for the “real” world degree of business but even more so for everything I learned at Seminary. My faith was pushed and grew so much during my time there.

20. My quiet times. I’ve been blessed so much in my times with the Lord. Though 6 or 6:30 am rolls around way too quickly, I always end feeling blessed.

21. My Facebook. Ha. Seriously though…it’s allows me to reconnect with friends that I haven’t spoken to in years. What a great tool!

22. My computer. I absolutely love the internet – sometimes too much. ;) I also love being able to communicate easily online as well as sending tons of baby pics to friends and family.

23. My cooking skills. Hehe, so now I’m getting goofy. Well, seriously though… I’ve never cooked so much in my life until these last few months. Thank God for the motivation and my husband for patience.

24. My camera. I love, love, love taking pictures. It will be a sad, sad, sad day when my camera dies.

25. My job opportunities. At this point in my life I’m convinced that I need to be at home with my daughter. However, I’ve had many at home opportunities thanks to people around me. A special thanks to my friend Debbie for the babysitting opportunities and others around us who continue to make opportunities available.

26. My life! I can only be thankful for the things I have as long as I’m living. After that, my thankfulness will solely be towards the first thing on my list – my salvation in Christ!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Christmas is Not About Family


Whoa. Before anyone accuses me of heresy, remember that I often use bold titles to accent a point. :) Please read the entire blog before you start thinking too hard of how you will confront me of my great error.

Some of my favorite Christmas memories involve spending Christmas Eve with my Mom’s family, surrounded by loved ones and food galore. Christmas Day would be spent waking up early with my sister and brother, tearing into gifts and then having a huge Christmas breakfast with my cousins. As a matter of fact, my most miserable Christmas was in 2005 when Kentucky got enough snow and ice to keep me from seeing my extended family at all. All that being said, Christmas is not about family.

I stumbled upon the following couple of statements regarding what Christmas is supposed to be about:

  • Christmas is about giving.
  • Christmas is about family.
  • Christmas is about kids.
  • Christmas is about the poor.


If taken conser-vatively, none of these statements are inherently bad. There are aspects about Christmas in which we should remember to give, love our family, share the wonder with our kids and assist the poor. However, as Christians, we must remember that Christmas is first and foremost about Christ.

Though we cannot be sure as to the exact date that Christ was born, we do know that this day has been set aside every year for us to more specifically remember that birth.

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!"

When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us." And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

- Luke 2:8-20 (ESV)

As Christmas continues to become more and more commercialized and the debate between “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas” rages, let us slow down and think about the true meaning of Christmas. Jesus Christ, the son of God, born of a virgin, came to seek and save the lost. By His incarnation and later crucifixion and resurrection, we actually have something to celebrate about. Share that with those who don’t know Christ!

Christmas is a great time to celebrate family, friends and even food, especially chocolate. :) just wanted to encourage us all to not forget the real reason we celebrate. Praise be to God and glory in the highest!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Bride of Christ


In honor of my friend Jennifer Hsin preparing for her December 15th wedding, I post the following. These were my thoughts a few months before my own wedding. This, aside from the day of my salvation, was the happiest day of my life. I hope you are blessed.

The Bride of Christ

“and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you” - Isaiah 62:5 (ESV)

For weeks I’ve been putting off altering my wedding dress. It seemed like a daunting task and one I was not yet ready to take. Why didn’t I get it done professionally? Because I have better things to do with my money and I was pretty sure I could do it myself anyway. Little did I know what a joyous time I would have…

As I placed each stitch in its necessary place, I began to pray. I prayed that I would put one-thousand times the effort and more into the marriage itself than the wedding. I prayed that my family would seek and serve God in every way possible. I prayed for the kids I hope to have. Then my mind started leaning towards even greater thoughts…

Revelation 19:6-8 says: “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure.” (my italics)

I started thinking about the bright white color of my dress. How pure…how unstained…how perfect. Then I thought of how undeserving I am to wear such a dress. Apart from God, I can do no good. I’m undeserving of every good thing I’ve ever been given. I’ve trampled over top of the beauty of such purity with muddy feet.

“…though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;” - Isaiah
1:18 (ESV)

How very blessed I am! God is good and He chose to make me white as snow. While I was stitching my dress, I managed to prick my finger a few times. Twice it drew blood. I suddenly remembered that it was because of the blood of Christ that I was white in the first place!!! Jesus Christ died on the cross, rising again on the third day to save someone like me! How do I thank him?

“Can a virgin forget her ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without number” - Jer 2:32 (ESV, my italics)

All to often, it’s as if I’ve forgotten Him. Sometimes I may look like I have everything together and people will call me a “really religious person.” Yet in my heart, I struggle to love like I should. I’m ungrateful. I’m disobedient to the Lord. I shy away from proclaiming Christ as I should. It’s as if I’ve forgotten Him.

The New Testament refers to Christians as the bride of Christ. In John 3:29, John the Baptist calls Jesus the Bridegroom: “The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom's voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete.”

As I prepare for my wedding in September, I think about how I’ll prepare myself the day of. I’m sure it’ll be something like this. I’ll begin with a shower, then makeup and hair. We’ll go to the church and get dressed. I’ll put on that beautiful, white gown and veil. People will help me look as beautiful as is possible - after all, it’s a special day! After all the preliminaries, the wedding will begin. James will be waiting for me at the end of the aisle. I am convinced he’ll be smiling and joyful when he sees me walking toward him. Have I prepared myself in such a way for my ultimate Groom, Jesus Christ? Oh how I pray I’ll learn how!

“…and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.” - Isaiah 62:5 (ESV)

As blessed as I’ll be to have James as my husband, in the end, only one marriage will matter. Help me to be the best bride I can be…

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” - Rev 21:1-4 (ESV, my italics)

I’m not completely finished with my dress alterations but the most troublesome parts are complete. I hope to finish the other small adjustments tomorrow. Isn’t that how our lives with Christ is? He’s not finished with me yet, but the most troublesome part is complete - my salvation. I praise God for His great love!

By Terra (Rogers) Santos
July 24, 2006

The Golden Compass

For any of you who have children or just want to be prepared for the discussion opportunities that may follow, please read the following blog about the upcoming movie "The Golden Compass."

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Dress Your Age?

The other day I stumbled upon a link on MSN’s website entitled, “Dress Your Age.” Intrigued by what it may have to say, I clicked on the link. It began by saying that the “sexiest thing you can do for yourself” is to dress your age. So how does one dress her age according to MSN? Here is my summary of the main points (and most of these comments are exact quotes from the video):

If you are in your:
20s: Be trendy and have fun; virtually anything goes (i.e. short skirts, daring necklines); take fashion to it's edge.
30s: Try a sophisticated look; you want to look more adult, tailored and sophisticated; pay more for higher end clothing.
40s: Look smart and refined; never a need to dress like a granny; wear uncluttered, clean lines and classic cuts


Let me give you a quick test (from a radio broadcast by Nancy Leigh DeMoss beginning June 16, 2003).

*There’s a women coming down this church aisle in a long, white, formal dress. What would you say was the occasion? Probably a wedding, right? Clothing communicates.
*There’s a teenager bundled up in a snowsuit, mittens, a wool hat and a scarf. Probably not going to a picnic! Clothing communicates.
Alternatively, the MSN video suggested that a lady will only look “sl*tty” if she is too old to be wearing what she has on. So a woman can’t look this way if she is young?! I disagree vehemently here. I regretfully say that early in college, I thought dressing this way made me more attractive. According to MSN, I would have been “age appropriate” in my clothing choices.

Kim Alexis (who was a very popular super-model in the 80’s) speaks about what she learned from her past. “Many women are playing with fire in the way they dress. Dressing like a floozy tells the world, ‘Look at me, want me, lust after me. I’m easy and you can have me.’ Displaying intimate parts of the body is a form of advertising for sex” (excerpt from A Model for a Better Future, by Alexis).

Many of us think as long as we are dressing more appropriately than those in Cosmo, we’re being modest. I want to challenge us all to look at what we are wearing. What are we communicating about ourselves? What are we communicating about God? After all, if we claim to be Christians, people are watching us. They see a direct influence between the way we live and who we say God is. Again, I’ve been on the flip side of this coin and I’m grateful for the forgiveness of Christ. Though I’m not perfect, I do try to watch what I’m wearing. Please, if you ever see me in something that does not express the glory of God, let me know (lovingly of course). Let’s encourage one another in this area.

I’m not saying be frumpy and unattractive in what you wear. I am however calling us to consider what our clothing communicates, whatever our age.

Grace to you,
Terra Santos

Here is the link to the MSN video I was speaking of: http://lifestyle.msn.com/stylestudio/default.aspx?page=home&tab=episodes§ion=weekend&contentid=200

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Excuses, Excuses

Many of you have probably been wondering where I’ve been lately. It’s been almost a full week since I’ve written and I’ve actually been pretty good about writing when I should. So when I was deciding on a topic to blog about, I debated whether or not to include an excuse for why it’s taken me so long.

“I’ve been too busy.” (Really? Any busier than usual?)
“I haven’t thought of any topics. (Yeah right, I’m never at a loss for topics.)
“I’ve been tired.” (Yes but could lazy be a better word?)

All that thought and I decided to blog about my excuses themselves! Hmmm… So what could I actually have to say about excuses that would be the least bit interesting?

After the Lord called Moses to lead the exodus from Egypt, we read the following. In Exodus 4:1, Moses says, “But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, ‘The LORD did not appear to you.’” And then in 4:10, “But Moses said to the LORD, ‘Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.’” (ESV) Looks like I’m not the only one good at coming up with excuses!

When I began this blog, I said my goal would be to write at least twice a week. I did give my self the lenience of writing less on some weeks. I’m not going to say I will certainly write “X” amount of times per week. “But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or by any other oath, but let your "yes" be yes and your "no" be no, so that you may not fall under condemnation.” - James 5:12 (ESV) I will try my best and during the days I have not written, pray for me. Occasionally during these times I do have a valid reason to be refraining.

I will try my best not to come up with any more excuses in the future. An excuse is only a good way to make myself look better (or make you feel sorry for me). Where is the godliness in that?

Until next time…

In Christ Alone,
Terra Santos

P.S. I forgot to mention – for those of you that have wanted to comment on my blogs in the past but didn’t have an account, I’ve changed the setting. I didn’t realize it was set up the way it was. It no longer needs any sort of account or password. So please, comment away! I’d love to know your thoughts and ways I can improve this blog! Thanks!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

One-half of a year already!

Today was Hannah Mai's 6 month check up. To think, 6 months have already flown by. Wow! Well, for all of you who are dying to know the latest, here's the scoop on her visit.

Hannah is now weighing in at a whopping 15lbs and 5 oz. She feels 20 to me! She's 26 inches long. Let me reword that. My daughter is 2 feet and 2 inches tall. Whoa. Her height and weight are very average for her age: both around the 50th percentile. Her precious little big noggin is 95% bigger than all other kids her age. My sweet girl must have a big ol' brain.

She's responding beautifully to her physical therapy. She still has a ways to go but she really is doing better. This week she FINALLY started rolling from back to front regularly. That was a problem because of her lack of neck strength. She's sitting very well (even by herself). Her head is not as flat as it was now that she's moving around and the doc said she will not need a helmet! ;) Yay!

Some other random notes are as follows. Hannah has sensitive skin. You may have noticed her rosy red cheeks or occasional rashes. However, nothing is required to treat it. She still hates her formula but it makes her feel much better. She has started eating solids. So far, she enjoys bananas but does not like her (soy-free) rice cereal. As far as we know, her allergies (dairy and soy) remain but will likely dissipate in the future. We're still working on getting her to sleep through the night but I trust the Lord will help her there. :)

Overall, I think that's a good summary of where she is. My beautiful baby girl is growing up fast. It's hard to believe how big she is. I pray God leads us as Christian parents and role models in her life.

Until next time...
Terra Santos

Bring the Rain

It never ceases to amaze me that when things go wrong (or at least not our way), it seems it happens all at once. It’s like rain in that sense. There are never just one or two drops, they come in great number. Today and yesterday have been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride in my life. It’s not that there are great life-altering things happening. Instead, it’s a lot of little things (and a few big ones) that are just not going as I had hoped. One right after the other, they crash into me like waves. I keep trying to stand on my own and I keep falling. Sometimes it’s even overwhelming. Why do I keep it up?

It is during these times that I cling to the only support I can trust: Jesus Christ. Regardless of what may be happening in my life, the rock of Christ will never fail me. It seems that God works best in my life when He brings me to my knees begging for His help. It’s only when I realize I am not in control of my life that I can trust in Him to lead me. Mercy Me (a contemporary Christian band for those of you who are unfamiliar with the group), has an amazing song that deals with this phenomena. Please read the lyrics below (italics were added by me for emphasis) to better understand where I’m at.

Bring the Rain
By Mercy Me

I can count a million times
People asking me how I
Can praise You with all that
I've gone through
The question just amazes me
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord
My only shelter from the storm
But instead I draw closer through these times
So I pray

Bring me joy, bring me peace
Bring the chance to be free
Bring me anything that brings
You glory And I know there'll
be days When this life brings me pain
But if that's what it takes to
praise You Jesus, bring the rain


I am yours regardless of the clouds that may
loom above because you are much greater than
my pain you who made a way for me suffering
your destiny so tell me what’s a little rain

Holy, holy, holy
Holy, holy, holy
is the lord God almighty
is the lord God almighty
I'm forever singing

everybody singing
Holy holy holy
you are holy
you are holy

I do not write this blog asking for pity. I write this blog as a reminder to myself and to others of the benefits of “rain.” I write this blog as a reminder that we must cling to Christ during trials. I write this blog as a reminder that God may have a great purpose in “bringing the rain” in my life right now. And I do write this blog asking for your prayers. I do not necessarily pray for God to take away the rain, instead that He’ll grow me in the process.

Grace to you,
Terra Santos

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Rock-a-Bye Baby?

Whenever I put Hannah Mai to bed, I sing her a song. After the fourth stanza, whether or not she is sleeping, I lay her down and let her go to sleep on her own. I sing her the same song every single time. Do I sing “Rock-a-Bye Baby,” “Hush, Little Baby,” or any other common lullabies? Not exactly. Actually I sing “In Christ Alone,” by Getty & Townend. Sound odd? Let me explain.

When Hannah was first born, I tried to sing “Rock-a-Bye Baby” to her. However, when I got to the end and sang, “When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall, And down will come baby, cradle and all,” I cringed. Why in the world am I singing my child a song that insinuates her death?! Okay…so that’s just one song. What’s wrong with “Hush Little Baby?” My problem with that one is that you’re pretty much singing a bribe to your child. In essence, you’re saying “Pleeeeease go to sleep and I’ll get you whatever you want.” I’m sure that song was written by a desperate mother and I’ve felt her pain. :) Yet it still does not sit well with me.

So what about “In Christ Alone” is so attractive to me? I will say it’s definitely the lyrics, though I also enjoy the tune. The lyrics lay out the gospel so clearly and beautifully. What a great way to share the gospel with my child, even long before she’ll understand. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 says, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (ESV) This passage more or less encourages us to talk about the Lord and His laws in every thing that we do. Singing her the gospel as a lullaby is just one small way I can do this with Hannah Mai.

In case you’re not familiar with the song here are the full lyrics. I pray they bless you as they have me for such a long time.

"In Christ Alone"
Words and Music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend
Copyright © 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music

In Christ alone my hope is
found;
He is my light, my strength, my song;
This cornerstone, this
solid ground,
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights
of love, what depths of peace,
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My comforter, my all in all—
Here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone, Who took on flesh,
Fullness of God in helpless
babe!
This gift of love and righteousness,
Scorned by the ones He came
to save.
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was
satisfied;
For ev'ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I
live.

There in the ground His body lay,
Light of the world by
darkness slain;
Then bursting forth in glorious day,
Up from the grave
He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin's curse has lost its
grip on me;
For I am His and He is mine—
Bought with the precious blood
of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow'r of
Christ in me;
From life's first cry to final breath,
Jesus commands my
destiny.
No pow'r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His
hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow'r of Christ I'll
stand.

Grace to you,
Terra Santos

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Mother’s Pride

If you are a mother, this blog will likely touch base with you in one way or another. Many moms have developed a really bad habit – of which I’m one of the worst. It begins even before the birth of their child. From the moment we learn we are pregnant, we start comparing our babies to others.

It begins simple.
“I’m feeling my baby kick at only fifteen weeks pregnant.”
“I haven’t had any morning sickness.”
“My labor was only 5 hours long.” *Note: I definitely did not fall into this category with my 18hr labor.

At birth we compare even more.
“My baby weighed 5lbs, 9oz and was 18inches long, how about yours?”
“I breastfeed my baby, you?”
“I think my baby is cuter than hers.”
“My baby started sleeping through the night after only two weeks.”

For those of you that fall into that last category, get on your knees and praise God! My six month old still wakes once or twice a night for a feeding. As a matter of fact, comparing her to my sister’s five month old in this area is what sparked the writing of this blog.

So what is it that causes us to compare like this? Why are we so concerned about what other’s babies are doing? So my daughter isn’t rolling over regularly yet and she should be, why does that bother me?

During these comparisons, I’m sure there are many different issues going on inside the heart. However, I think one of the biggest is pride. I compare my daughter to other babies because I want her to be at the same place or better yet, further. than they are. Hannah Mai started sitting unassisted at five and a half months. I was really excited because most babies don’t sit unassisted until six and a half or seven months. “Wow,” I think. “Hannah Mai is pretty smart.” Then I remember that she’s still barely rolling from back to front and hates being on her stomach. At this rate, she’ll start crawling later than other babies. I could blame it on her torticollis (which the Physical Therapist told me was likely the cause), but there’s something deeper. Why am I coming up with excuses? It’s because I want Hannah to look good compared to other babies. I truly desire other moms to be envious of me and my daughter. How sinful and evil my heart is!

Proverbs 13:18 says “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” When I examine my heart during these times, I need to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. Pride will only lead me to destruction. I cannot grow in my Christian walk if I’m choosing pride over humility. I cannot show the light of Christ if I’m wanting to show the light of “Terra” first. The next time you ask a mother about her child’s milestones or share your own too quickly, examine your motives. Christ calls us to change and repentance. Only by His grace can this be accomplished.

Grace to you,
Terra

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Here I Stand - In Christ Alone

The following is a poem that I wrote about two years ago. The indented lines are from the 3rd stanza of Townend's "In Christ Alone," one of my all time favorite hymns. The other lines were added by me. I hope you enjoy.

Here I stand, as love abounds
         In Christ alone, my hope is found.

         There in the ground, His body lay
I drove the nails, I paved the way.
         Light of the world by darkness slain
I followed the darkness, I caused His pain.
         Then bursting forth in glorious day
The Holy One, the Truth, the Way.
         Up from the grave, He rose again
And washed from me, my grievous sin,
         And as He stands in victory
His light so clear that I now see
         Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me
I worship him on bended knee.
         For I am His and He is mine
My Lord, His glory, so divine.
         Bought with the precious blood of Christ
Darkness replaced by magnificent light.

Here I stand, as love abounds
         In Christ alone, my hope is found.

By Terra (Rogers) Santos
8/6/05

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stranger Anxiety

Over the last week, Hannah Mai has developed a new fear: “strangers.” I put it in quotations because it doesn’t have to be a true stranger. It can be a family member or friend, just someone other than mom or dad. She is very vocal about this fear as well – screaming for upwards of an hour, non-stop, with the power of her trumpet-like vocal chords. According to several resources I’ve researched, it’s common for babies to develop this fear anywhere between 5-8 months of age. Hannah fell right into the statistic.

I remember in the past when I’d see a kid freaking out about his/her parents leaving, I didn’t quite understand. What was this kid’s problem? Why was he/she so dramatic? Do the parents never let him/her stay with someone else so they don’t develop such an issue? There I go again. Judging everyone but my own heart. Part of me thinks it is because I’m a stay at home mom that makes it harder for Hannah to go to strangers. But then, she’ll easily go to James and he works very hard and very often – away from home. So then I say, maybe the “experts” are right on this one.

If nothing else, this episode has caused me to look inward. It has reminded me that I’m not as smart as I sometimes think I am and I don’t know it all either. It reminded me to offer grace to those around me when I don’t understand their way of dealing with problems. It points me to Christ as I know no where else to look for wisdom.

Please pray for my patience over the next few months. Supposedly this anxiety lasts until about nine months of age. It’s very easy for me to get frustrated when Hannah Mai won’t cooperate with others. I know I will struggle as she continues to freak out and not stay in the nursery at church or with the babysitter on our date night. On the positive side, it shows me that she loves me and I can meet her needs. That is a nice feeling.

Until next time…
Terra

Thursday, November 15, 2007

From Three to Seven (and Updates)

This blog is for those of you that may be checking in on this blog and wondering why there have been no recent updates. :)
Well, this weekend, my (Terra) sister and her family moved in with us. We've been very busy preparing and now adjusting to their arrival. In addition, I've also begun a new blog specifically directed towards women. It is called Titus 2 in Training and is located at titus2intraining.blogspot.com. Please check it out! ;)

We do hope to continue to use this blog to post family updates and encouragements in Christ. The following is from the latest blog I posted on the new Titus 2 site:


From Three to Seven

What used to be our somewhat quiet household of three, instantly grew to a rambunctious seven on Sunday. My sister, her husband and their two children (ages 2 and 4 ½ months) are now a part of our home.

Over the last month or so, James (my husband) and I have been praying diligently for my sister and her family. They’ve been married just about one month longer than James and I. Recently they’ve been struggling with various issues, but most importantly their spiritual growth. The most encouraging thing to me is that they are fully aware of their need to grow but just don’t know where to begin. By God’s grace, this is where our family will come into play. James and I do not believe we are the perfect example of Christian parents. We understand that we are not the perfect husband and wife. We also understand that we do not always live as we have been called as Christians. However, our prayer is that God will use our lives in a way that reflects the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t just want to offer “good” advice or teaching points. We truly want our lives to show we are practicing what we teach. We wish to follow James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (ESV) Please pray for us as we seek to imitate Christ. Pray that we are intentional. Pray that we are patient and persevering.

It has been a joy spending time with my sis’ family for the last five days. God has already granted many good conversations and opportunities for growth. In the future, I’m sure I’ll have many blogs to write from our many experiences. Even just the fact that there are now 3 children, ages 2 and under living together should give me writing opportunities! ;)

I apologize for not having written more so far this week. It has been quite an adjustment figuring out my schedule these days! Lord-willing, I’ll get in the new groove and be back to writing regularly soon!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

From Three to Seven

What used to be our somewhat quiet household of three, instantly grew to a rambunctious seven on Sunday. My sister, her husband and their two children (ages 2 and 4 ½ months) are now a part of our home.

Over the last month or so, James (my husband) and I have been praying diligently for my sister and her family. They’ve been married just about one month longer than James and I. Recently they’ve been struggling with various issues, but most importantly their spiritual growth. The most encouraging thing to me is that they are fully aware of their need to grow but just don’t know where to begin. By God’s grace, this is where our family will come into play. James and I do not believe we are the perfect example of Christian parents. We understand that we are not the perfect husband and wife. We also understand that we do not always live as we have been called as Christians. However, our prayer is that God will use our lives in a way that reflects the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t just want to offer “good” advice or teaching points. We truly want our lives to show we are practicing what we teach. We wish to follow James 1:22, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” (ESV) Please pray for us as we seek to imitate Christ. Pray that we are intentional. Pray that we are patient and persevering.

It has been a joy spending time with my sis’ family for the last five days. God has already granted many good conversations and opportunities for growth. In the future, I’m sure I’ll have many blogs to write from our many experiences. Even just the fact that there are now 3 children, ages 2 and under living together should give me writing opportunities! ;)

I apologize for not having written more so far this week. It has been quite an adjustment figuring out my schedule these days! Lord-willing, I’ll get in the new groove and be back to writing regularly soon!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Friday, November 9, 2007

My Little Sinner

Over the course of about a week or so, my daughter Hannah has made some great progress in “baby world.” She finally learned how to roll from her back to her belly because she was tempted with a bottle. She is also sitting up on her own. Those are two huge accomplishments for a baby. In addition to those two, she’s become aware of my desire to get her out of scary or harmful situations. Last night she managed to roll onto her side and get her leg caught in the crib slats. This morning she rolled onto her belly and got her arm caught. Needless to say, the ear piercing screams from the nursery alerted yours truly that Hannah was in trouble. I went and “saved” her from these situations. (note: this crib problem has since been remedied)

With all of these exciting accomplishments, she’s learned another new trick – how to throw a tantrum. When most people think of tantrums, they probably picture 2 or 3 year olds kicking and screaming when they don’t get something they want. Well, Hannah is only 5 ½ months old, and she fulfilled half of that today. She was trying to play with a plastic bag. Because of obvious suffocation hazards, I would let her play with it until it went anywhere near her mouth. (note: before you flip out, know that I was sitting right beside her, supervising the whole shindig) As a 5 ½ month old child will inevitably do, she continually tried to put the bag in her mouth. After about three attempts, I took the bag away from her. What immediately followed from my supposed sweet little daughter was a shrill that could probably be heard down the street! She was furious with me and she was going to let me know it. I sat her in my lap and more or less had the following conversation with her:

“Hannah, I understand you want to play with the plastic bag. However, I cannot let you have the plastic bag because you could harm yourself. I know you don’t understand that but I love you and I want to protect you from harm.”

Why would I have such a conversation with a 5 ½ month old child? I’m not crazy, I know she doesn’t understand what I’m saying yet. But you have to start somewhere, right? It’s not like you wake up one day and say, “Okay, today my child will understand anything I say about everything.” No. I believe it is good for me to start now.

Often in my previous blogs, when Hannah has done something out of the ordinary, I blame it on an alien abduction. For example, when she was switched from breast milk to formula and she went from crying all the time to being happy. :) No, I don’t believe in aliens. It is just a way I have of joking about the situations. But there is a real reason for Hannah’s tantrum today. It’s called sin. Romans 3:22-23 says, “…for there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…” Furthermore, 1 John 1:8 says, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” In today’s society, many people do not like to talk about sin. Yet as a person who attempts to submit to the Bible and not to society, I acknowledge this as truth. My precious, sweet, cute, little baby girl is a s-i-n-n-e-r, sinner. It is my God-given responsibility as a parent to lead her to her only Savior, Jesus Christ. Wow. What a task! By the grace of God alone will I succeed in that endeavor.

What an insightful moment Hannah created for me today to reflect on the human nature to sin and on God’s saving grace to forgive! I pray over the next 18+ years that I will (Lord-willingly) have, of direct influence in Hannah’s life. There will be many more moments for the two of us to grow in sanctification.

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The 6:30 AM Club

I'm sure that some of you are debating whether or not to even read this blog based on the title. The 6:30 AM club? Definitely not something you are interested in, right? After all, you're a night person - not a morning person. You already have too many things to do in the morning as it is. The world will be a much happier place today if you get just fifteen more minutes of sleep. Can I challenge those thoughts?

For about a month and a half now, I've been a member of the 6:30 AM club. The club is an interesting one. I first heard about it in a book called Shopping for Time by the bloggers of "GirlTalk" (see link in my list). It requires me to get out of bed every morning at 6:30 AM, even if I have nowhere to be until 6:30 PM. I would definitely consider myself an "anti-morning person." So why in the world would I join such a club?

After my daughter was born in May, I found it more and more difficult to spend time with the Lord. Sure I went to church on Sundays and usually Wednesdays as well. But my heart was empty on a regular basis. I couldn't understand why I felt cold towards God and why He wasn't listening to my prayers. Of course, my prayers were simply any short "pop" prayers that came to mind during the day. In my single-hood, I was pretty good at setting aside thirty minutes to an hour of time each day, even with a very busy schedule. What happened? Motherhood. ;)

In the beginning, Hannah slept seemingly all the time. But during that time, I was so exhausted from delivery, I was playing catchup myself. After the first couple of weeks ended, there was rarely even a thirty minute spell in which Hannah was not crying. Only later did we find out she has allergies to both dairy and soy (hence her crying spells). Day after day would go by in which I used all of my energies to try and deal with my daughter. I was sleep deprived like any new mother but more importantly, I was Christ deprived. I was not getting the spiritual food that I needed to make it through each day. I became desperate. Even desperate enough to join the 6:30 AM Club.

What exactly does this club do? Well, as I said earlier, it requires me to get up at 6:30 AM every morning. Let me humbly say that there are still some days in which I miss the meeting. After getting up and painstakingly trying to adjust my swollen eyes, I start my coffee pot. Then I sit down, in the wonderful silence of my home with my Bible and journal. I sit at the kitchen table so I'm not tempted to doze back off by sitting in a comfortable living room chair. After reading two chapters of Scripture (one Old Testament, one New), I meditate and journal my prayers to the Lord. Journaling helps my mind to not go off on tangents as easily. Some mornings I also work on my Scripture memory. Afterwards, I'm so refreshed and renewed by God's grace. By being a part of this "club," I am setting aside a consistent and quiet time to be with the Lord each day. I've learned that if I try to do it later in the day, I am too easily distracted by other things - not to mention tending to my precious daughter's daily needs.

Does one have to have their "quiet" time in the morning? Not necessarily. However, as much of an "anti-morning person" as I am, I'm becoming more and more convinced that it is the best time to set aside. By setting your eyes on Christ first thing in the morning, the tone of your entire day has been set. You will not be as easily distracted by the busyness of the day and it's activities. And you will not be so tired at the end of the day to be able to focus. There are verses in the Bible that remind us to pray at all times of the day (such as Ps. 55:17, 92:2; 1 Chron 23:30 and others). Yet there are probably many more verses that remind us of the importance of seeking the Lord in the morning. Just to name a few, 1 Sam 1:19, 2 Chr. 20:20, Job 1:5, and Ps 5:3, 88:13. Most importantly Jesus Christ modeled this discipline (Mk 1:35).

Are you ready to join the 6:30 AM Club? Or maybe for you, it will need to be 5 or 5:30 AM? Depending on your needs and schedule, your club may be a little different. Do you need extra motivation to get out of bed? Ask someone to call you. If you're wanting to join the 6:30 AM Club, I can call you myself.

Here is the "super-secret-six point strategy" the book, Shopping for Time gives the hopeful club member:
  1. Place your alarm clock in a strategic location, preferably on the other side of the room from your bed (so you have to get up!).
  2. Set your alarm for the same time every day.
  3. Never, never, never hit the snooze button or lie back down to catch a few more winks. The second your alarm goes off is the most critical moment in getting up early.
  4. Proceed directly to the coffee pot or caffeinated drink of choice. ;)
  5. Be prepared to feel absolutely miserable for about ten to fifteen minutes. But the misery soon turns into pure gladness as you experience the delight of meeting with God and reap the benefits the rest of the day. Fifteen minutes of misery is certainly work fifteen-plus hours of peace and productivity.
  6. Remember that our bodies eventually respond to a standard wake-up time. In other words, it gets easier.

I'd love to hear your comments or other helpful tips!

In Christ,

Terra

Monday, November 5, 2007

Why Titus 2?

Over the last few months, I've become more and more astounded, encouraged and challenged by the words of Titus 2:4-5 than ever before. During this time, the words of Carolyn Mahaney have been used by God to further push me in my Christian walk. Listening to her messages online have been a great blessing and many have centered around the verses listed in Titus 2. So why have I decided to call this new blog "Titus 2 In Training?"

Titus 2:4-5 instructs women to "to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God." This is probably one of the clearest passages of Scripture regarding the roles and expectations of a woman. Though other key passages would include 1 Tim. 2:9-15, 1Pet. 3:1-6, Prov. 31, Eph. 5:22-24. It has become a consuming desire for me to live as Titus 2 commands.

Do I want to do these things legalistically? It would be easy to say, "Scripture says do 'this', 'this', and 'this' without any heart motives. However, I want to follow these verses for the purpose mentioned within them: "so that no one will malign the word of God." If I am living as Scripture has called me, there is a much lesser chance that I will "malign the word of God." If my ultimate purpose in life is to glorify God in all that I do, it is extremely important that I am not maligning His word.

I hope this blog will be one of encouragement, accountability, and an outflow of God's love towards the women around me. If you have any recommendations or specific topics you would like for me to cover on here, please let me know. I do want to keep this blog separate from our family blog to keep it purposeful. If you're looking for updates on our family happenings, please check that address instead. I hope to write at least twice a week though I'm sure some weeks will be more and some weeks will be less often. Please pray for me as I undertake this new ministry!

In Christ,
Terra Santos

Monday, October 22, 2007

Square Dance Fun


Tell me you didn't laugh! ;) Oh...and the little boy you don't know is our neighbor (Hannah's age), Maddox Morton.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Who Wants to be First? I do! I do!

Last Friday I made a trip to Wal-Mart to return some curtains that were not the right size. I was pointed to the Customer Service desk and I was on my way to what I thought would be a five minute transaction. When I reached the desk, I realized it was going to take a bit longer than I had anticipated. I was about 5th or 6th in line. Okay. No big deal. I’m not in a hurry today anyway.

A few moments later, a guy walked up and got in line behind me. He joined the line with a “humph” and a big sigh. The line did not move. A moment later, another guy got in line behind the other. Immediately conversation picked up. It was hard not to “eavesdrop” when they were purposely being loud enough to be heard.

“This line is always like this.”
“They always put the slowest people behind the counter.”
“You’d think they’d hire some more people.”
“Why are they taking so long?”

These comments are not verbatim but you get the point. Now here’s a question. What if one of these two guys was at the front of the line? What if he was the one taking so long to be assisted? Would he be upset about the long line? Not at all. Would it bother him that other people were having to wait on him? I don’t think so, at least not judging by his comments.

The Bible frequently mentions comments about those who want to be first. It also says that these will be last and the last will be first (see Matt. 19:30, 20:16, Mk 10:31, Lk 13:30). Why is it that we always want to be first? I think it is a matter of pride. Deep down (if not out rightly), we honestly think the world revolves around us. Though I was patient in this particular instance, it was easy for me to be. As I said earlier, I was not in a hurry. Hannah was content in her stroller. Not to mention, God graced me with patience that day. My biggest struggle with patience is when I’m driving. I get furious when people cut me off, fly past me like I’m going 50 (when I’m not), ride my bumper, fail to use their turn signals, speed through red lights, etc. I could excuse my behavior by saying, “I just want to be safe and these people are endangering that safety.” While that may be partially true, the bigger problem is my heart. I want people to drive my way and not put me at a risk or think they are better than I am. Wow.

What about you? Where do you struggle with impatience and pride? Is it in lines where you want to be in front? Is it with your children who wanted to draw you a masterpiece on your living room wall? Is it with your spouse who does not understand that you been dealing with a screaming child all day? Is it with the slow waitress who may be having to deal with a difficult table and thereby not focusing on yours?

The next time you catch yourself being impatient, I challenge you to stop and evaluate the cause. Don’t evaluate the who or what is “making” you that way but the why are you reacting in such a way. I think you may be surprised at how often we get in the way of ourselves.

Grace to you,
Terra

Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Encouragement to Wives (especially those who are mothers)

Have you ever woken up to the sound of a crying baby? You get out of bed for the 2nd or 3rd time in the last 8 hours. You feed your infant and if you are lucky, you go back to bed. When the baby decides it’s time to wake up for the day, you crawl to your feet and get out of bed. Maybe the sound of an infant is in the past and you are dealing with toddlers or teens.

Or maybe you don’t have children. Maybe your husband works during the day and you at night. Or maybe you are blessed enough to not have to work a job outside of the home in the first place.

With all of these things going on around you, are you ever tempted to delay your shower? Maybe you shower but you don’t have any errands to run today (lucky you!), so you don’t bother with getting dressed or putting on makeup. Maybe you’ve given up on looking nice at all. I mean, why bother if there’s no one you are trying to impress, right?

I disagree. Let me begin with a disclaimer to what I am getting ready to say. I truly believe the beauty of a woman comes from within. 1 Peter 3:3-4 says, “Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious.” Some of you may read this and say that it means we are not supposed to braid our hair or wear jewelry. However, if that is true, it would also be saying that we were not supposed to wear clothes! Personally, I don’t believe that is what is being said at all. I was listening to a message by Carolyn Mahaney the other day and she made this point regarding this passage. The Bible says God has created us in His image. By nature, God creates things beautiful. It is not wrong for us to try to make ourselves beautiful (and in doing so, we’re reflecting the image of God) – as long as our beauty does not become an idol in our lives.

Now that being said, I’ll get back to the point of this blog. Do you think it blesses your husband to come home to a wife that has spent little or no time getting ready for him? Think about it. When you first dated, into engagement and maybe even when you first got married, I would be willing to bet you spent significantly more time trying to look nice for him. Now you may take less time to look (or even smell!) nice for him. There are days that I am tempted to do this, trust me.

Maybe you say, “I've never worn makeup anyway” or “I have always dressed down around him.” If that is so, I am not telling you to start wearing makeup or dressing for a night on the town. Every woman has their own beauty regimen. Some are much more elaborate than others. Maybe yours is just showering and brushing your hair. That is great – I wish I were you! The point is you still have a regimen.

Regardless of how we spend our day, whether it is with a handful of children or cleaning the house, I believe it is a service to our husbands to care for ourselves. So that is my encouragement. If you have slacked in caring for yourself, freshen up a bit today and enjoy the smile on your husband’s face when he comes home.

Grace to you,
Terra

Monday, October 1, 2007

Hannah Mai – What’s the Latest?

Last night was the last night Hannah Mai had the opportunity to breastfeed. Considering her allergies (both cow’s milk and soy), I finally decided it would be nice to see how she did on the hypoallergenic formula recommended by the pediatrician. Needless to say, after only a few substitutions, she did beautifully. The can top (of Similac Alimentum) promises “Fast Colic Relief in just 24 hours…reducing colic symptoms in most babies.” I’m telling you, though it’s twice as expensive (literally) as regular formula, it is GOLD! Hannah Mai has completely changed in demeanor. She went from crying half of the day to happy most of the day quicker than I could have prayed for! Praise God for the technology we have to make milk substitutes like this.

I have to admit though, it was a bit sad for me to give up breastfeeding. Many people claim that there is a stronger bond between mothers that breastfeed their children and those that do not. Honestly, I thought it was overstated. It wasn’t until I started switching her that I felt bad about it. They say “breast is best” and to an extent, that is true. However, as one friend pointed out to me, if the breast milk is making her sick, clearly it’s not best in this situation. Hannah is definitely a much more content baby now and it’s become much more pleasant to spend the day with her. ;)

Another issue we’ve been dealing with is the neck problem. Upon a physical therapist’s evaluation, Hannah has been diagnosed with a mild form of Torticollis, likely caused even before birth. One definition of this condition is: “an unnatural condition in which the head leans to one side because the neck muscles on that side are contracted.”1 Fortunately, she qualifies (though barely) for a Kentucky State Early Intervention program. She will be able to receive physical therapy treatments for less than $20 a month! I praise God for programs like this that our taxes help pay for. The therapist said that she expects Hannah’s problem to correct quickly.

Overall, though there have been a few struggles here and there with Hannah and her health, we are ever so blessed. She could have much weightier problems (such as cancer, spina bifida, etc.) God has carried us through and grown us in the process.

I hope this catches everyone up on Hannah’s conditions! She is enjoying her life more and more every day! Oh…and I forgot to mention… My Breyer’s Rocky Road (dairy AND soy) ice cream tasted REALLY good today. :)

Until next time…
Terra

1 - torticollis. (n.d.). WordNet® 3.0. Retrieved October 01, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/torticollis

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Our 1st Family Picnic


The weather here in Louisville, Kentucky has been gorgeous, 80, sunny, and not a single cloud in the sky. Every week, I am always challenged to come up with ideas to do with my family. Given that fall is here and winter is just around the corner, I thought the Santos Family would have its first family picnic. The place of choice was Louisville's downtown, out on the river front. I must confess, I really love this spot. One, it was the place I proposed to Terra. Two, it was always the go to spot during Seminary where I could retreat and seek God. The river front overlooks the Ohio river bridges that connects Ketucky and Indiana, and captures the high rise buildings of downtown Louisville. For dinner, we had left over pulled pork, Doritos chips, two sprites, and rasberries. Now, a family picnic is not complete without a digital camera. After dinner, the family took random shots of each other, but the bulk of the pictures was zoomed in on our beautiful baby girl Hannah Mai.

I am praying weekly to give my wife and baby girl memories that they can look back and praise God for. Every day, I realize that I am a blessed Christian husband and father. My wife Terra and my baby girl Hannah are truly gifts of grace. My boasting is the result of what Christ accomplished for me on the cross. "But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Galatians 6:14).

James

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Desiring to Be a Gospel Centered Family

For the past weeks or so, I've been challenged and motivated to see our family gospel centered. What do I mean by gospel centered? The Bible says, "Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you. Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God" (Ephesians 4:32-5:2).

As Christians we have been shown kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness when Christ died for us on the cross. Our sins deserved God's righteous judgment, but instead we received infinite grace. Therefore, any sinner who has been shown much kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness through Christ should overflow in kindness, tenderness, forgiveness to others. This is result of the transforming work of the gospel. So, if a bitter word comes out from my wife, the gospel calls me to show kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. As a husband and a father, I am compelled by the power of the gospel to display Christ, not parade my self righteousness. To return evil for evil is failure to grasp the heart changing work of the gospel.

Three weeks ago, Terra and I celebrated our one year anniversary, and it is my prayer and pursuit to grow in kindness, tenderness, and forgiveness. O may our marriage and family be gospel centered!!!

-James

Time to Brag for a Moment

Today I want to brag. Yet it’s not about myself and believe it or not, it’s not about my baby Hannah either. Today, I want to brag about my husband.

It seems to be common-place these days for wives to talk bad about or down on their husbands when they are not around. Things like: “He doesn’t do such and such,” “He never helps me,” “He always puts himself first,” etc. Though James is not perfect, he does not even give me the opportunity to say things like this about him. James is on a mission in our marriage. He seeks to serve me in his greatest capacity. He truly believes that God has called him to serve our family in as many ways as possible.

For beginners, he works hard to bring us financial stability. God has blessed me with a husband who appreciates my desire to stay at home with my child (and any future children). I feel the leading of Titus 2:4-5 “to love [my] husband and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to [my] husband, that the word of God may not be reviled,” (ESV, my italics).

But he goes much further than that. He brings me flowers. He washes dishes after a meal. He takes the baby out of the house when I just need to breathe. He gives me massages. He encourages me to seek out the Lord in prayer and meditation of the Bible. He writes me encouraging notes. And I could really go on and on. Why does he do these things? Well, in addition to feeling led by the Lord, he says that he loves serving me because he can see that it blesses me. My joy of being served makes him want to serve me more. And what is really neat about this…his constant desire to serve me, makes me seek to do the same for him. Now I’m always on the look out for something I can do to serve him. It really makes for a sweeter marriage when you are not looking for what you can get out of the relationship but instead what you can give. Being a servant can be contagious…I never knew that!

Anyway….I just had to take a moment to praise my husband, aka God’s greatest gift to me (outside of my salvation in Christ).

Loving Him,
Terra Santos

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You learn something new every day

Whoever coined the phrase "You learn something new every day" was so right. And I never realized it as much until I had a child! Not only does Hannah seem to learn something new everyday, I do as well. Lately, it seems that we've been learning something new about Hannah every day regarding her health. (To say every day is probably a bit of a stretch here but it has been often.)

Last week, after two continuous weeks of fussiness and diarrhea, I took Hannah back to the pediatrician. On top of the cow’s milk allergy, they think she also has a soy allergy. Apparently 50% of the kids allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy. And of course, my daughter has to be one of them. Today I will try rice milk for the first time. You cannot possibly imagine how much food has milk or soy in it until you are not aloud to have it. You start believing you will starve before you can find something you are actually allowed to eat. Some of you may be saying, why don’t you just switch to formula already?! Well, don’t think the thought hasn’t crossed my mind. I guess the main reasons are: 1) I still believe breast milk is better for her, as long as I have no physical problems that prohibit me from producing; 2) It’s easier than dealing with formula, bottles and dishes (especially in the middle of the night); and 3) the type of formula she has to use now with the allergies, is THE most expensive formula they make. But God is good to us and he continues to give me the patience I need.

In addition to the fun we’ve had with feedings, we’ve also been told that Hannah may need to see a children’s physical therapist for her neck. Some of you may have noticed that Hannah has a huge preference to looking towards her left side and bending to the right. She’s done this since she was born but it’s not gotten any better. Now, she’s developing a flat spot on the back of her head from it. My doc is afraid she could develop something called “torticollis” (a painful neck problem) if Hannah does not start correcting the issue now. Needless to say, the physical therapist is supposed to be calling me back to set up a time to evaluate her. Then they will tell us whether or not it is something to be concerned about.

Please pray for us as we deal with these different things. I really must say that God continues to mold me on a daily basis as I deal with a child that fusses more than not. And the scariest thing is that I’m already looking at pregnant women and thinking “I think I’m ready for that again.” Am I? Wow.

Until next time…
Terra