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