Friday, October 31, 2008

Our Story

This past Wednesday, Matt and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary. We were married October 29, 2005 at the beautiful Legacy Chapel in Xenia, Ohio. Many of you came to our wedding, but many of you we had yet to know. Some of you have been life-long friends, where as others we've met fairly recently. Whatever the case, I wanted to take you back to where it all began for us. Here's our fairytale story:

Once upon a time, a small-town girl named Traci had dreams of marrying her prince. She searched and searched for many years hoping to find him. Somehow, she never seemed to find him among all the toads. Surely she wouldn't have to kiss a toad would she? Well, it turns out that she was looking in all the wrong places. Toads and frogs lined her path in life. If she wanted to marry her prince, she better get her act together and seek out what is most important in a husband.

Traci grew and grew into a young woman heading off to college. Maybe this would be the place to find the young lad! Again, she roamed around hoping to bump into him somewhere on campus. At one point, she thought she found him. She wondered if this was it! He was a cute boy with big muscles, deserving of a second glance. He seemed nice enough and had the smarts, too. Still, an unsettling feeling overtook Traci's heart. Why wasn't she happy with him? Why did she want more? What did she really want? Who was she after all?

The answers to these questions unfolded before Traci when she was 20 years old. All the pieces to the puzzle of her life were in sync except for one. She felt empty. She felt alone. She felt ashamed. She felt like no man really loved her. Then, on a cool November evening she found herself weeping at a local church. What was going on with her? She was definitely not the church-going type. An occasional Christmas or Easter service was sufficient for her to show God she was all set in life. An evening of weeping over her sin and her need for more in life, led her to the One would fill every need she ever had. The One who loved her despite all of her shame and sorrow. The One who covered every part of her past. The One who cared enough for her to die on a cross. The One she had all along but never cared to meet. The One and only Jesus Christ. Sure, she had heard a few things about Him. She knew he had performed many miracles. She knew he walked on water. That must be some Man! This night was especially different from any other in her life. This night, Traci learned how Jesus wanted to heal her brokenness, restore her weary soul, and show her the unconditional love He has for her. November 28, 2000 marked a new start for young Traci. She was introduced to Jesus and began learning what He had in His plans for her.

Traci grew in her relationship with Jesus. She joined her first Bible study with some other college girls and learned much from them. Many of the girls had known Jesus for years. Others knew Jesus for about as long as she had. She read through the book of John in the Bible and understood that Jesus is the only way to the Father but much more than that as well. He is the reason she has breath every morning. He is the reason she has a beating heart. He is the reason she can live abundantly on this earth. Things were making sense to her. Life wasn't all about dating or having good friends. Life was about knowing her Maker and living out His purpose.

Traci finished college at Wright State University in March of 2003 and began graduate school the following fall. This wasn't her original plan after graduation. She thought she would stay in Dayton but begin teaching elementary age students. The timing for graduate school seemed to fall into place. After all, she did not have any other commitments. She settled into a new place with new roommates in similar life situations. Can you imagine a house full of four or five girls? A little drama here and there never hurt anyone! She was at peace with her life and what God was teaching her, especially in regards to dating. She hadn't dated anyone for a long time. In fact, she went on a male-diet for a short time expecting God to open her heart and eyes and reveal what she needed in a husband.

God did just that. He worked in her and let her witness the characteristics she desired in a man. She no longer looked at outward appearances like she previously did. Good looks surely are a bonus, but she was now after the heart - a heart beating for the Lord. For she knew that God looks at the heart and not the external. Around the time everything was falling into place, into her life walks a wonderful young lad named Matt. He was no ordinary man, and Traci knew this the first night she met him.

Traci met Matt at a college/career Bible study. She couldn't attend the study due to her new class schedule, but she joined after the study to play guitar and hang out with everyone. Her friends, Bryan and Allen, were teaching her. She had been over to their house the week prior to starting school. She called one evening to see if they wanted to play sometime later that week. Traci had much studying and homework to begin since it was the first week of school. She had no intentions of going... just making plans for a future lesson. As she sat at her desk reading, her mind aimlessly wandered. This was pointless. She might as well go over and hang out for a bit. Studying could wait.

As soon as she walked into the house, everyone was standing in the kitchen. Someone from the group was giving a knife demonstration for his new business adventure. Allen then introduced Matt and Traci. They were the only two people who didn't know each other. Did he notice her then? Maybe she noticed him first? At any rate, later in the evening she and Matt sat on the couch and played guitar. She quickly learned how talented he was. Something about him caught her attention. Traci noticed how patient and gentle he was, and she did not want the night to end. He was a knight in shining armor.

Matt and Traci saw each other every week at the Bible study. A few weeks went by since their first encounter, and it was safe to say that Traci had a special interest in her new friend. She saw something more in him than friendship. She knew in her heart he liked her also. He was kind and spoke sweetly to her. One night they sat on the couch and looked at pictures together and simply enjoyed the moment. No matter what they did, Matt and Traci looked forward to each other's company.

As time passed, Matt and Traci realized they were more than friends. They declared intentions for one another and began dating October 22, 2003. Their relationship had its ups and downs with tiffs and rough spots. Despite all their warts, Matt and Traci loved each other deeply. This love continued to blossom and grow over the next two years. Matt proposed to Traci in August 2005. Two and half months later, they married. The story goes on, but for now all you need to know is that they share a blessed life and now have a son in whom they delight. They love the Lord and hope to make a difference in this world for His glory. More chapters are sure to come. For now... Traci found her prince and they are living happily ever after!
Here are some photos of their wedding day...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pro-life clip

Check out this pro-life clip from I love the beginning part of this video as it depicts life as a precious gift and family as foundational to our morality. Our society is going more and more downhill by the minute. Please take a second of your time to watch the beginning portion of the video. (You don't have to be Catholic to watch!!) Please consider what you endorse as you vote this coming November. We need to stand up for what is right and true. We need to stand up for the unborn. (It is the first clip on the web page. I'm still not sure how to download it onto my blog. It's the one w/President Kennedy)

A lazy, relaxing and refreshing weekend!

Isaac and I spent a wonderful weekend with my mom in Waverly. I knew Matt had lots of work to finish for school as well as mid-terms, so what better way to spend the weekend than lounging around my mama's house?! For those of you who don't know, Waverly is south east of Dayton. It's a small, little place with plenty of fast food restaurants to feed an army. You'll miss the town if you even blink when driving through! It's my hometown, so I don't mind it!

We arrived Friday afternoon. I can't remember if I put Isaac down for his regular afternoon nap, but I do remember our yummy yummy dinner. We had gondola subs from Lloyd's, and let me tell you, you're missing something if you've never eaten one. It's sort of like an Italian sub w/some extra goodness melted into it. And... you just can't go to Waverly without visiting the super Walmart. This building went up around the time I graduated; it became the hangout on boring Friday nights... especially when my friends and I were home from college!

We also spent some time with one of my best friends in the entire world, Jamie. She and her little boy, Jude, had lunch with us at the Emmitt House. Another place you have to eat at when you're in town... still good but not like it used to be. Jude is 3 months and 4 days older than Isaac. They seem so similar and very boyish. Jude now says "peese" for his food and gets embarrassed when you smile at him. We sure did have our hands full with our boys! I didn't get to see little Miss Sophie; she was with her grandma taking her afternoon nap. A must-do for any soon-to-be 3 yr. old. It was great catching up with Jamie; I look forward to our next visit!

The rest of the weekend my mom and I relaxed and watched Hallmark movies. Of course they made me cry. It's not like the acting is all that great, but I'm more sensitive now that I'm a mom. I guess your hormones never really return to normal or something! My mom said I should go for a walk, and she would watch Isaac. I gladly took her up on that offer. You see, when I go to Waverly, I'm extra spoiled. Mom loves watching Isaac for me, and she always makes me some tasty food. I do help out with dishes and such, but I admit, I definitely take advantage of Mama's cooking! Anyways.... I went for a walk and then to Krogers to check out the manager specials. Matt tells my mom, "You better not buy anything unless it has an orange sticker!" My mom is QUEEN of manager special deals. I'm just trying to follow in her footsteps. I got a few deals but no orange stickers this trip!

It's always a welcomed break going to Waverly. Yeah, the town itself doesn't exactly attract many tourists or anything. I just love spending time with my mom. I miss my friends in Boston, but I'm incredibly thankful that we're back in Ohio. Isaac loves seeing his Gammy, and it's a blessing seeing how good my mom is with him. After all he is "Gammy's little man".

Just when I thought my weekend couldn't get much better, I walked into our house and saw that Matt surprised me by having the living room and foyer area completely painted. He, my brother, his brother, and Wayne (from house church) conjured up a plan to paint while Isaac and I were at Mom's. I love it all! It looks so great. We need to do a few touch-ups here and there, but overall, our house is now becoming our home. Thank you guys for serving me this weekend. I appreciate you taking the time to help us especially when Matt is so busy with school. It looks like I owe you a home-cooked meal!

I forgot my camera this weekend, but I do have some recent pics of Isaac, which are darling. I'll post them once I upload them. Tonight is recipe club. I better get crackin' on housework!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Remembering Alex Andrew Withrow

Today I remember my brother, Alex Andrew Withrow, whom I've never met. Alex was born October 18, 1977, three years before me. My mom had this feeling during her entire pregnancy that something just wasn't quite right. The doctors reassured her that all was well with her little baby, and they even did some testing to put her at ease. From what they could tell at the time, Alex was developing properly in the womb. His measurements were always right on track, and everything seemed to be going well from the doctor's perspective.

When Alex was born some problems occured. The doctors believe that his tiny lungs weren't fully developed or they weren't ready to support his life. We don't know exactly what happened; maybe with all the medical knowledge we now have, we would have more answers. This is what is so hard for me. Why couldn't they do something? What would he have been like? Who would he look like? What would be important to him? These are questions I've pondered so many times throughout my life. Perhaps the toughest thing of all is that I do not have any pictures of Alex. He was scheduled to have his hospital pictures taken when he was two days old. The Lord took him home before that happened. My mom doesn't need pictures. She'll never forget the beautiful face of precious Alex. She says he had the darkest, deepest brown eyes she's ever seen. I only wish I could see them now.

Today I'm sad and joyful all at the same time. I'm sad Alex isn't here with me, that I've never been able to give him a hug and kiss. Yet at the very same time, I'm delighted knowing that his little feet never touched this soiled, sinful world. I know he is with the Lord rejoicing and worshipping. I miss you, Alex. I long to see you. I will always remember what Mom tells me about you, and I want you to know you have a special place in my heart. Happy 31st birthday, big brother. I love you. I can't wait to meet you.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Too Important Not to Speak

This is going to be a heavy post. During this past week, I began reading a book titled Why Pro Life? Caring for the Unborn and Their Mothers by Randy Alcorn. As the title indicates, this book is about the precious life of an unborn child and his or her mother. I've only read a few chapters, and I'm completely overwhelmed with a sense of urgency to fight for the most innocent off all humans on the face of our planet. I'm outraged that we even have such an atrocity in our society. I know many of you might not agree with me on this issue, or you may even become offended by my position. However, this is not about you or me. It is about the life of an unborn CHILD/PERSON and his or her mother facing a critical and literally life-threatening choice. Yes, it is a life threatening choice because once someone is living and then he or she is surgically killed via abortion, that child is then dead. I am ready to stand up for these unborn children and their mothers. I'm also ready to help those who have had abortions and are now facing the trauma of that decision.

I really like the nature of this book in that everything the author writes is from a scientific viewpoint. He is a Christian, but he doesn't quote scripture in this book. I'm going be writing a lot about this issue; something is stirring inside me, and I can no longer hold back. Again, this might come across offensive, but that is certainly not my intent. My intent and purpose is to educate and bring light to the truth of the matter. For too long, our culture has believed the lies and deception about abortion. Lies such as: "it's only an 'embryo"', "the baby will feel no pain", "the mother won't be affected", "it's the only choice", "no one will want this baby", and on and on they go. Well, it's time to speak the truth and stand up for what we know is right. We know that abortion kills because an embryo, which is a verifiable baby, is already living. At the point of conception we have life, and that is scientifically provable.

In this post, I'd like to write some things from the book that describe the earliest stages of life. If you are "pro-choice", please consider what you actually support. A doctor of abortion will even admit he or she kills a baby during this procedure. A doctor who performs abortions kills a baby at his or her earliest stage of life when he or she has no voice at all. Please read the following information from this book:

"The stakes in this issue are extraordinarily high. If the pro-choice position is correct, the freedom to choose abortion is a basic civil right. If the pro-life position is correct, the 3,753 abortions occurring every day in America are human casualties, more than all lives lost in the September 11, 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center.

" Dr. Alfred M. Bongioanni, professor of obstetrics at the University of Pennsylvania, stated, 'I have learned from my earliest medical education that human life begins at the time of conception...human life is present throughout this entire sequence from conception to adulthood...any interruption at any point throughout this time constitutes a termination of human life.'"

"The newly fertilized egg contains a staggering amount of genetic information, sufficient to control the individual's growth and development for his entire lifetime. A single thread of DNA from a human cell contains information equivalent to a library of one thousand volumes."

"The cells of the new individual divide and multiply rapidly, resulting in phenomenal growth. There's growth because there's life. Long before a woman knows she's pregnant there is within her a living, growing human being."

"Between five and nine days after conception the new person burrows into the womb's wall for safety and nourishment. Already his or her gender can be determined by scientific means. By fourteen days the child produces a hormone that suppresses the mother's menstrual period. It will be two more weeks before clearly human features are discernible, and three more before they're obvious. Still, he is a full-fledged member of the human race."

"At conception the unborn doesn't appear human to us who are used to judging humanity by appearance. Nevertheless, in the objective scientific sense he is every bit as human as any older child or adult. He looks like a human being ought to at his stage of development."

"At eighteen days after conception the heart is forming and the eyes start to develop. By twenty-one days the heart is pumping blood throughout the body. By twenty-eight days the unborn has budding arms and legs. By thirty days she has a brain and has multiplied in size ten thousand times."

"By thirty-five days, her mouth, ears, and nose are taking shape. At forty days the preborn child's brain waves can be recorded and her heartbeat, which began three weeks earlier, can already be detected by an ultrasonic stethoscope. By forty-two days her skeleton is formed and her brain is controlling the movement of muscles and organs."

"No matter how he or she looks, a child is a child. And, always, abortion terminates that child's life. The earliest means to cause abortion, including Mifepristone (RU-486) and all abortion pills, are too late to avoid taking a life."

It doesn't matter if you're Republican or Democrat, Christian or non-Christian. The point is this: human life begins at conception, and a baby inside the womb is a precious, innocent person. Is a baby on the inside of the womb less of a person because he or she is in an earlier stage of development and resides in a belly for a short time while he or she properly develops? No. The answer is clearly and morally, no. Do you love your child now more than you did when he or she was one day old? Is a baby more of a person as he or she grows and develops on the outside of the womb? Not one bit. We all grow and develop, and we would never condone killing a one day old baby, but we say it's okay to kill a baby when he or she is snuggled into the uterus, awaiting a grand entrace into our world. This is disgusting, and it is murder. I will not stand for this treatment any longer. If we don't fight for the unborn, then who will? If we don't educate and protect mothers of the unborn, then who will? If we don't fight for babies who have survied abortions, then who will? If we don't come to our senses and realize what we're doing and allowing, then what will become of us? As we think about this upcoming election, why does the economy mean so much to us yet an unborn life is not a big deal? I urge you to think about your position.

I will be writing daily or weekly about this issue. I feel it so deeply in my heart to do something, but right now, I'm not sure what that looks like. I just want to get my thoughts out there and hopefully help you realize we need to do something. I have a challenge for each of you, and I do hope you'll join me:

A.) If you hold the pro-life position, will you join me in daily prayer for the unborn, mothers of the unborn, babies who have survied abortion, and for women around the world who have had abortions and need support dealing with their decision?

B.) If you hold the pro-choice position, will you read this book? It's a small book, and the author does a wonderful job of writing it from a scientific view.

Please leave me comments on how you feel about this issue. All comments are welcome. As you can see, I'm very honest about my feelings. We might not agree on everything, but thinking through this will help us all. (I'll write more about rape, incest, etc. and other controversial issues in future posts.) Thank you for taking the time to read through this meaningful issue.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

My first entry

Hey there family and friends!

Well, many of you aren't able to open our windows page, so I'm starting a blog of my own. I find myself pondering things throughout the day or just wanting to vent a little. Now, I have a place to write some of my thoughts and reflections. I also find much joy in watching Isaac learn new things daily. I want to be able to share them all with you, so please check my blog regularly for all the happenings in the Nelms' household. Feel free to leave me a comment or your own thoughts!