Monday, March 3, 2014

The Observation of Lent . . . even for a Baptist

It is almost that time of year.  Signs of spring are starting to show (even though it is below freezing tonight!).  With the coming of Spring also comes one of the most significant times of year for followers of Christ.  In the coming weeks, we will observe and celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of our Lord and Savior, symbolizing the believers' triumph over death as Jesus paid our sin debt on the cross.

In preparation for this most Holy and sacred of observances, I have chosen to observe the 40 days prior to Easter known as Lent.  Here is a link to some information about Lent.

While Lent is a Christian observance, it is most closely associated with Catholicism.  It is typically a 40 day period whereby we fast, pray, repent, and observe deeper spiritual discipline.  Over the past few years, I have adopted the practice of observing Lent for the purpose of "giving up" things that are  either distracting, time consuming and not beneficial, or would be some sort of "sacrifice" on my part.

This year, in preparation for the start of Lent on Wednesday, I thought I would share with you the things I will be giving up this year and why.  Here we go:

1)  Facebook:  I know.  This is going to be extremely difficult.  But I spend probably an average of two or more hours a day on Facebook or playing those cute little games associated with Facebook.  This takes time away from my husband.  It takes time away from some things that I need to do at work, and it is time that I could use to journal, pray, read the Bible, meditate and further seek the face of God.  I love keeping up with everyone and seeing what is going on, but from Wednesday until the Monday following Easter, I will take a Facebook and Facebook app hiatus, spending that time with my family, praying and in the word of God.

2)  Soda/Soft Drinks:  I don't have a problem with caffeine.  I can go days without caffeine and be just fine.  I drink plenty of water and don't drink more than one or two caffeinated beverages a day, including coffee.  But I love Diet Sunkist, Diet Coke, Diet Dr. Pepper, Coke Zero, Cherry Coke Zero, you get the picture.  So during this season of depriving myself of something that is not a necessity, I'm going 40 days with no soda.

3)  Sweets/Candy/Cookies/Junk Food/Chocolate:  If you know me well at all, you know I love all forms of dessert and treats.  Even though I try to limit my intake to only a few times a week, I am a sucker for most anything sweet.  You have my permission to check my temperature or ask if I'm feeling ok if I ever turn down birthday cake.  But during this 40 day period, I am challenging myself to partake of NONE.  Not one bite.  Only meals, fruit, yogurt and healthy snacks.  You might want to pray for and with me on this one.  I'm sure Jason would appreciate it! ;-)

4)  No computers/electronic devices after 8 pm:  Jason and I are slightly addicted to our electronic gadgets.  We both have iPhones, I have an iPad, Jason has a Nook, we both have laptops, and we are constantly on one or more of these devices.  I am challenging my household to shut these connections to the outside world and focus on spending our evenings together with each other and spending time in prayer and Bible study.  This will be tough, as we often need to address something for work, but I am challenging us to give it our all and see how we do.

5)  Look for ways to serve:  During this 40 day period, I am going to pray for and look for ways to serve God by serving others.  Most of the time, with my work schedule and other commitments, I fall extremely short in giving my time to others.  Be in prayer for me as I seek ways each week to be a blessing to others through an act of service.

These things are probably fairly typical for this day and age and not something that would shock anyone.  But I don't think that the act is as important as the sacrifice that it represents.  My intention is to pray through my cravings, utilize my time spent on social media and the like in prayer and meditation, and spend a little more time than normal in Bible study and meditation.  I also hope that this plan will allow Jason and me to spend a little more time each day in prayer together and reflecting on the directions that God is leading our marriage, as well as individuals.  I plan to blog again after Easter to let you all know how I did.

What are your plans for Lent?  Do you observe some form of Lent?  Why or why not?

I'd love to hear what this season means to each of you and how you observe it.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Good Week

Last week, I posted about changes.  Usually with changes, there comes a bit of disruption in routine.  Or at least an adjustment period.   Praise the Lord, the Baxley's are adjusting to our changes swimmingly!

We are getting up a little earlier to get ready each morning, tend to our animals, and make sure we are packed and loaded for each day.  We've done pretty well with this, neither of us being late for our respective engagements.  I love how we work so well together, each picking up the slack for the other to make life easier and flow smoothly.

Jason has had a good week, filled with meetings, setting up his office, inspections and so on.  He is off today and will help me run errands.  He has adjusted to leaving earlier and getting to Montgomery on time beautifully.  He is really enjoying having an office.  This is his first office ever that is just his and not one that he shares with other shift supervisors.  He has been working for the State for around 15 years, so this a HUGE milestone for him.  Hopefully, I get him to take some pictures to show everyone.

My week has been really fantastic.  I have had two busy days in court.  On Monday after court, I came home and got a quick run in on the treadmill.  I loathe running on the treadmill, but it was the best option to quickly get that run in.  Tuesday, I enjoyed a morning Yoga class at Cornerstone.  It was amazing!!  I felt great afterword.  I have a lot of work to do to increase my flexibility, but for this week, I did it!  I got my hair done Tuesday afternoon and worked all in between.  Wednesday was again a day filled with court and back to Cornerstone for a quick run on the treadmill and an Intervals class.  I am sore this morning, but I need that.  Today calls for a run.  No pain, no gain . . . right?

With a little planning, we have been able to have dinner at home together each night this week.  Good, home cooked meals where we can sit together and talk about our day and make preparations for the next.

Now, this may not sound like major milestones to you, but this week means a lot to me.  I have been slacking on my exercise since after Thanksgiving.  I disappointed myself because I failed to train and missed running the Mercedes Half this year.  I paid for it and registered, but let the holidays, weather and laziness prevail.  Trying to get back on track this year has left me feeling frazzled and in a constant state of chaos.  It's taken me some time, but I finally feel like everything is coming together.  I still have some new year's resolutions that I am working to incorporate and accomplish, but with more weeks like this one, I am on my way.

I know it is just Thursday, but I wanted to share with you that, at our house, we have had a great week so far.  I'm praying that the rest of the week and our weekend is just as fantastic for all of us.

Stay tuned.  In the coming days/weeks, I plan to blog about the following topics:

Friends and Friendship
The Observation of Lent, even for a Baptist
Biscuits!  If I can make fantastic homemade biscuits, you can too!!
More changes . . . contemplating adoption.

Thursday, February 20, 2014


Ok, confession time.  It has been a while since I updated the blog.  Shame on me!  I should have done better.  A lot has happened over the past several months to keep us busy, but I should have blogged about it.  I'm sorry.  I'll do better.  I promise.

As most of you know, 2013 was a bit of a roller coaster for Jason and me.  He spent the better part of the year in training for a new job assignment, on top of being sidelined for a while with his dog bite injury.  Combine training, injury, rehab, special assignments, and our whirlwind DC trip and you pretty much have 2013 in a nutshell.  There were other peaks and valleys, but no need to rehash it all here.

Fast forward to today.  I was sitting in my living room, watching Jason.   He was boxing up equipment, getting uniforms together to turn in, and cleaning weapons to give back that he will not need anymore in his new line of duty.  I almost lost it.  I may loose it now as I try to write about it.

As I watched my hero, standing there in his new "uniform" of 5.11 pants, tac boots and a monogram polo shirt, I had the most bittersweet nostalgia you can imagine.  Gone are the days of a traditional uniform every day.  Gone are the days of his office being a car.  Gone are the days of regular nights shifts.  He will still have call outs, special details, late nights, and on call; but it will be different from his on the road days.  Very different.  He will still have special occasions where he needs to wear his dress uniform, but those will be far more of a rarity than ever before.

His regular routine will now be going to an office in Montgomery.  He won't have to wear a vest everyday.  He won't have to do many of the things he has been accustomed to doing over the past 8 years.  It is the ending of a era, the beginning of something new and wonderful, the culmination of a year's worth of training, being away from home, working two jobs for one salary and having more on our plate than we really knew what to do with.  This is what 2013 was for.  Now that it is here, I'm proud, relieved, excited for him and at the same time, I am sad.

Jason was a uniformed officer when we met.  I know that is not who he is, it is just what he does.  But you must know that he has wanted to be a Trooper since he was a little boy.  He waited patiently during hiring freezes and age restrictions to finally get to the point to go to the Academy for his dream job.  And he had it.  He loved it.  He was good at it.

My husband will tell you that he is beyond blessed to have the job that he has always wanted and then to have to opportunity to move on to another job that he thought he could only dream about.  We prayed over the job change and I'll be the first to tell you that I wasn't 100% sure about it.  For starters, that whole having to work every Auburn home game was enough for me to say no!  But this is what Jason wanted to do, felt called to do, and believed in his core that he needed to do.  I'm so proud of him and following his heart, his dreams, and the direction he felt the Lord was leading him.

As he turns in his car and other equipment to solidify his ending of his Highway Patrol days, I know he will be filled with the same bittersweet nostalgia that I have written about today.  This is without a doubt one of the biggest changes we have made in our lives and the hardest part is that we don't know yet the full impact it will have on our life. (No pun intended for those who know Jason's new line of work!)  There are numerous changes that will be coming in State government and law enforcement over the next couple of years.  I don't know that much about it and I think even the powers that be are a bit confused with how it will all shake out.  While I have been a bit disappointed to see Jason loose his "Trooper" title, I know that he is exactly where he needs to be and where the Lord intends for him to be.  All of the rest will fall into place.

(For those of you who may not know us personally, Jason is now full time ABI, Alabama Bureau of Investigation.)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Healing our hurts . . .

Today, I was dealt a very personal blow in a very professional setting.  As I have said before, I will not go into details about cases and work, so I will attempt to get this out the best I can without revealing too much.

Trial was set for today in a very hotly contested custody matter.  As with any case involving children, emotions have been high, as well as tension.  While on the way to court I am sent a notice that the other side of the case posted something very personal about me on Facebook.  The post stated something to the effect that since I was trying to help take the children away from this parent, God was punishing me by not allowing me to have my own children, causing the miscarriages I have had.  This person called out to their Facebook audience to pray for me and that I needed forgiveness.

While I did my best to maintain my composure, on the inside, my heart broke.  As an attorney and a person who deals with the public, I have a thick skin.  I expect opposing sides of a case not to like me, to call me names, and even be angry and hold some sort of grudge.  Such is the adversarial nature of my profession.  As a municipal judge, I issue rulings that people are most often not happy with.  I could not do these things if I was not confident in my decisions and prepared to stand behind them.  In short, I am prepared for a certain amount of resistance, negativity, and scrutiny.  But in seven years of practicing law, I have never had someone hit this low.

The thing that should be noted about this specific matter is that my client was not trying to prevent the other parent from seeing, having access to, or being involved with the children.  I don't feel comfortable saying too much more, but I can assure you this was not your typical custody battle.

As I thought about the hurtful words, meant to burn and sting, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit wash over me.  My God was saying to me "Child, you are loved.  You have  done nothing wrong in this situation or to cause a miscarriage of previous pregnancies.  I have wonderful and amazing plans for you.  Trust in My timing. You know Me and the love and protection I surround you with.  Don't let the hurt of others destroy the amazing faith you have in Me.  I am here for you, just as I have been all along.  My child, you are loved!"

While what was written hurts, I am not mad.  I am sad for the person.  I am sad that this misguided attempt to hurt me and make themselves feel better took such a negative route.  I have prayed for this person throughout the day and I now ask that you do too.  I pray that this person learn that God doesn't punish us in the way they referenced.  I pray that they learn of the love, grace, and forgiveness that my Saviour has shown me.  I pray that the Lord will heal their hurt, just as He has healed mine after each pregnancy loss, after each heartbreak.  I pray that God will bless this person in the days, weeks, months and years to come.  I pray that their story can be one of faith, commitment to God and surrender to His will for their life, just as I strive for my life to be.

I beat myself up for a while about being too open with what is going on in my life.  Any of you who know me know that for the most part, I am an open book.  Good, bad or indifferent, my life is an open book for those who care enough to get to know me.  My life is my testimony.  If I don't share what is going in my life and how God is working in me, through me and on me, how will others know what and amazing God we serve?  I'm going to have to spend some time in careful prayer and consideration about having personal information out their.  So if I seem a bit more reserved, you will know why.

Lastly, I am very thankful for fellow attorneys who worked with me on the case.  The situation was handled with the utmost grace and dignity.  The comment was removed and we proceeded with the task at hand, ultimately concluding the case today.  No mud was slung and no further damage done to this family in desperate need of healing.  My colleagues are to be commended and a heart felt "Thank You" from me for the professional and kind manner that all was handled in today.

While my heart may hurt a little today, I KNOW WHO HEALS THESE HURTS AND I HAVE FULL FAITH IN HIM!!  Do you?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Rest . . .

"By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.  And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done."  Genesis 2:2-3

I can totally relate.  Rest.  I am longing for it.  I am craving it.  Rest for my tired mind.  Rest for a tense body.  Rest for a wounded soul that has spent countless hours listing, counseling, advising and grieving for other wounded souls.  After weeks like this, all I want to do on this Friday is rest.

"Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates."  Exodus 20:8-10

I am longing to be in the House of our Lord!  With all that Jason and I have had going on of late, we have missed worship with our church family.  This Sunday, we will be able to worship together, as a family and with our church family, before Jason is off for his next round of training.  We are so looking forward to Sunday.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

On this weekend, I am looking forward to clearing my mind and laying my burdens at my Savior's feet.  I a looking forward to resting, physically and mentally, enjoying the company and companionship of my wonderful husband before he has to be away from home.  This weekend and every weekend, I pray for peace, solitude, comfort, happiness and rest, for myself, my family and all of you.  If there are things that weigh heavy on you as they do on me after tough weeks, I pray that you know who to take your burdens to and that you too will find the peace and comfort that I have found.

Enjoy your weekend everyone, and REST!!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Fridays. . .

As someone who deeply desires to be a mom, Fridays can be tough on me.  I guess that is because Fridays always seemed so magical to me as a child.  Fridays meant sleepovers with friends, junk food, pizza, popcorn, the TGIF line up on ABC, movies, staying up late, giggling, football, fun and so much more.  You can often find me at some point on a Friday wandering the isles of Wal Mart or the grocery store with a cart full of chips, cookies, brownie mix, soda and goodies, all the while reminiscing about all of my fun childhood Friday nights.  When you see children with their parents, it is almost electric; that renewed energy you find now that the work and school week are over and you have two and a half days of rest and relaxation.  Responsibilities are gone and you can just let loose, be silly and have fun.

Fall Fridays are especially tough.  Now you add in the Pumpkin Patch, hayrides, bonfires, fairs, fall festivals, hot chocolate, pumpkin carvings and on and on.  Jason and I do our best to participate in all that we can, make our own traditions and memories, and enjoy the season.  But let's be honest, there is only so much we can do.  We love the Pumpkin Patch, but it is a little odd for us to be there not having a child.  This is just once example of many.  Most times we don't mind being the creepy old couple doing things that we enjoy, but sometimes it just gets to us.

I long to have brownies made on Friday afternoons as my child/children come home from school.  I long for pizza parties and sleepovers.  I can't wait to have a car load of kids loaded up and headed skating, to the movies, bowling, anywhere!  My childhood was magical in my mind.  My mom was good at the fun Friday stuff.  I had friends that we were always together on the weekends.  As I got older, that turned into high school football and cheerleading.  I long to help my son or daughter get ready for their games, whatever they may be doing.  I just know that I will be good at the fun Friday stuff too and seeing it going on all around me is such a bittersweet thing.  I am happy to see the wonder and excitement on the faces of children and know that Fridays are special in their hearts and minds too.  But my heart breaks and aches a little too.  It longs for those Fridays that I haven't had yet.  Those Fridays where I chase my toddler through piles of leaves, those Fridays where we stay up late to watch silly movies, those Fridays where we eat pizza, popcorn and junk food until we can't anymore.  I know parenthood is so much more than just Friday nights.  It's 24/7 hard work, the best full time job we can ever have.  I just sometimes cannot wait to be hired!!

Happy Fall Friday Y'all!!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What's going on lately . . .

Well, as most of you may have seen on Facebook, we have some exciting things on the horizon!

First,  Jason is set the end of October to go for his final training for his new position at work.  This is huge, because once he completes this, he will be a full certified bomb technician.  We also thought that he would have to wait until after the first of the year for this training, but it will really be a HUGE blessing that he gets to go now and get this behind him.  He will graduate December 6 and we are really looking forward to having some major down time during the holidays!!

All of this is contingent upon the government shutdown being resolved by October 21.  So if you were not already in prayer for our county and government, please start praying now!!

Next,  I will be going with a group from my law school December 2 to Washington, DC to be sworn in before the United States Supreme Court.  This is a huge honor and something I never would have imagined would that I would get to do or participate in.  Jason will be going with me and we will get to spend a few days in Washington together.  This is a first trip for both of us, so we are super excited!!  Of course, this also hinges partly on what is going on with the government shut down.

I have made the decision and commitment to participate in the Mercedes Half Marathon in February 2014.  This is a huge decision for me, as I am not professing to be a serious runner at all.  Thanks to a sweet friend, I have a training plan and I am going to do my best to fit it in our busy schedule to train for this.  Regardless, I am going to keep running and at this point, my goal is to finish.  I haven't really set a time goal for this yet, but I will as it gets closer to time.

Between work, home, running, and other obligations, Jason and I have literally been passing each other as we run here and there.  We both have more going on with work than we know what to do.  This week, I got the opportunity to meet with a sweet family going through a very trying time.  I share this with all of you to lift this family up in prayer, as I am doing.  The parents met with me to talk about their teenage daughter who is pregnant.  Their daughter is not in a serious relationship with the father of the baby and he is considerably older than their daughter.  Pray for me as I advise the family on legal issues and attempt to get them the spiritual guidance they all need.  They are good Christian people and have a good outlook, but this is extremely difficult for everyone involved.

As you all know, this is a heart wrenching topic for me.  I shared with the family my own personal struggles with fertility and my personal walk with God.  It is difficult to work through my own issues as I try to help this precious family work through theirs.  Please be in prayer for me, that God will use me to work in the lives of this family and that God will comfort me as I do so.  I know that this is not just about this family, it is somewhat about me too.  Pray for me that I will see what God is trying to show me, learn what God is trying to teach me and be molded into the person God wants me to be through this experience.