Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Rest of Our Week....In Pictures

On Friday, our playgroup gathered to decorate Christmas cookies. It was very fun. Jonah has been offering his "artistic" work to everyone he sees. He was very proud of his creations. He was very focused and did really well with the icing and sprinkles. Or at least I thought he did. Until he stood up at the end, revealing extremely messy clothes. He had to go topless for the rest of the playdate. Also, I learned a lesson about chatting away with the other moms and not checking in on him enough when he's playing in another room with kids. I walked in to find that he had colored all over his face and partly over his chest with a purple marker. I did not get a picture of that since I was trying to act pretty stern about it, which was pointless because it was really funny. Probably funny because he just was serious and wasn't trying to draw attention to it. He was just playing like normal with all these marks all over himself. He's so into arts and crafts activities right now...the cookie decorating was so fun, he had to decorate himself too!

This morning, two of my college girlfriends, Angela and Lizzy, came to visit. We hadn't all hung out together in a long time. The last time the three of us did was right after Jonah was born and they came to visit me in Bartlesville. Lizzy brought her four-month old baby Autumn, and it was so fun meeting her little daughter for the first time. It really was such a fun time hanging out with them for a few hours. Thanks for driving to Tyler to see me, girls! These girls are fun, and we go a long time without seeing each other and don't always keep in touch as regularly as we used to, but we always pick right back up when we're together and always seem to laugh a whole lot. I almost peed in my pants a few times today with them and their silliness.

Here are Jonah and Autumn. Yes, she's wearing leg warmers! It was adorable.

This next part will be boring for those of you who actually come to my house regularly. But for those of you who might care to see my newest home update....(it's been a LONG time since I've done anything new to my house)'s a picture of my kitchen with my new island/pub table my husband gave me for Christmas. He also rewired some stuff (you can tell I'm good with electrical terminology) and elongated the chain to swag my chandelier over it. It looks great!

The only things left before that room is completely decorated are chandelier lampshades and new window treatments. I did pick out fabric this week to have my curtains made:

It's sooo not what I thought I would pick. I didn't think plaid was my style. But I thought the fabric was beautiful in person. The solid one is actually a green, but you can't tell in the picture. Hopefully, the window treatments will turn out how I envision. I'll post a finished product picture when it's done.

And here's my pregnant belly. (18 weeks!) This was taken on the second of three consecutive days of having a complete stranger ask me about my pregnancy. So it wasn't a one-time thing that one day. Ignore the crazy eyes - Joel was not taking the picture how I wanted him to, so I was giving him "the roll of the eyes."

After church tomorrow, we'll be celebrating Christmas with my mom's side of the family at my aunt Joy's house. I'm so excited! I'm sure you'll see pictures of our get-together. I'm a little picture-happy right now. Merry Christmas, everyone!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Oh My

I just had my first experience so far during this pregnancy of having some random stranger comment on my pregnancy. The clerk at Kohls asked me when I am due. So, if there was any question as to whether or not I'm showing yet, I'm pretty sure that's been settled. It's obvious to the world now that I'm expecting. I guess I "popped" a little more without realizing it, because I was really surprised when she asked me. I sounded like an idiot because I stumbled around my words before I could get out, "May." I just wasn't aware until today that people I don't know (or rather, people who don't "know") could tell I am pregnant. Hmm. Not sure how I feel about that right now. Just wanted to write it, for some reason. Speaking of expecting, I'm realizing this week that it's real and that I better start praying like crazy for this little one! I have been praying, in regards to its development now. But I'm starting to get a little weird about life with a newborn again. I feebly tried to communicate this feeling to some friends last week, but I know I wasn't communicating well because one of the girls said, "Yeah, but you'll probably be calmer with a second baby." See, that's just the thing. I don't think I naturally will be. I was pretty calm when I had Jonah. I know it can really rock a new mom's world, but I can't pretend that's how it was with me. I owe it all to a God who blessed me with relationships and experiences beforehand that really prepared me. Motherhood just wasn't a shocking thing. I didn't feel stressed. I felt prepared. And here's why I'm a little nervous about it now. I wonder if I will be as patient or stress-free. I think it will be harder for me now to slow down, because I've gotten pretty used to the life of a toddler-mom. In most ways, it's easier now. I have time to myself most days. I've gotten used to a routine that just plain works for us right now. So I am having a hard time remembering what infant life is even like, and I wonder if my expectations will be a little off. I had spent the last several years before having Jonah working as a nanny. I worked for several different families, but I always had one family that had a newborn. So I was so used to that kind of life. There weren't many surprises. But it's different this time....I haven't been around a newborn in two years now! I just feel rusty. All this to say, I KNOW the same God that prepared me then can prepare (refresh) me now. I just can tell already that I will have a much stronger need to depend on Him. I know I will be more desperate for His guidance this time around. So I will choose to celebrate this lack of confidence this time around and let it drive me to His feet. Starting now. I am on my knees, not just for this child inside of me, but for all aspects of what life will be like when this one joins our family - and that I will actually do what I know I need to do right now (constant prayer!) in order to experience the kind of peace this time around that I really was blessed to have when Jonah entered into our world. It's just interesting how much less prepared I feel this time, considering I've been through this all before. But that's just how it is. That's what I'm currently experiencing. Just writing about it now helps me refocus my thoughts on the Lord and remember how faithful He is to come through with meeting our needs. (I already am less concerned about all of it!) I know He has great lessons for me in this, so I'm ready to learn. But is it just me - am I the only one who was calm the first time and not naturally calm the second time? It's just not a feeling I was expecting. But let me just also say....this mama is EXCITED. Ready for the next five months to fly by so I can meet this little punkin.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Only 8 More Days....

...until Christmas!! I can't believe it! Last week was a busy week. My friend Ame and I hosted an Ornament Exchange Christmas party at my house last Thursday night. It was really fun. At least, I hope everyone had fun. We had fun throwing it! It's always good to get together for a girls night. I kept my camera out to take pictures of the girls who were there, but of course, I forgot all about it once the first guest came through the door! So there isn't any proof that we have friends! But we did get lots of pictures of the set-up. Ame is Martha Stewart-ish enough to pull off a tablescape like this:

me and Ame:

our "coffee bar":

The following day left me with a feeling I haven't had in a long time: I wanted to cook! Because my house had already been cleaned for the party, cooking a meal didn't seem like such a burden. I felt like, "I can do this!" So I did. Seriously, it's been three months. It wasn't much, but it's a start. Our friends, the Levys, came over that night, and we had a great visit. It had been a while since we'd been able to hang out, and we enjoyed time with Shelly and Michael a whole lot. Shelly found out last week that she's having a girl. She's due about two weeks before me. That means officially every friend I have here in Tyler that is pregnant and due in the spring is having a girl! Which actually makes me feel even more sure that I'm having a boy. You know...they always come in big groups with one exception. (When I had Jonah, a whole bunch of us had boys, and Angela had a girl.) This time, I think everyone will have girls, and I'll be the exception! Jonah has altered his prediction a little bit. He now says that it's a girl baby in my tummy but that when it comes out, it will be a boy baby. I can't convince him that babies don't change genders as they're being delivered. I hope it's not a sign that the ultrasound prediction will be wrong! But speaking of, I had a doctors appointment today. We heard the heartbeat - precious sound. 150 bpm. And I got a refill of my nausea medicine. Praise the Lord. The last three days have been horrible, as I had run out of my prescription meds and was going to try to make it without getting more. But that just wasn't meant to be. Zofran and I have been pretty BFF this pregnancy, and it looks like we aren't supposed to break up just yet. Ugh. Oh well. At least it helps. There weren't any prescription medicines that helped me when I was pregnant with Jonah, so I didn't take anything. I was still throwing up my guts at this point with him. So I really am thankful that first of all, they came out with a generic version of Zofran this past year (it wasn't an option with Jonah at $25 a pill) and that it really does help me to function better. Anyway, it's weird to think that "the big ultrasound" is only three weeks from today. By the way...those of you who are pregnant right now, where are you finding maternity clothes? It always seems like maternity clothes are really cute except when I'm pregnant! I'm having trouble finding stuff I like. Without paying a fortune.

I just got back from taking Jonah to the doctor. He has this terrible-sounding cough, so I took him in this afternoon. He has a little bit of an ear infection and lots of drainage from that. So I'm hoping that antibiotics will take care of it soon and he'll feel back to normal. He's not quite himself today. At least he doesn't have anything contagious. We'll still be in a lot this week though. I'm going to try to get some holiday baking well as make sure my cooking last Friday wasn't a one-meal-wonder. I'll try to feed my family a couple more meals this week!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bethlehem Star

Our church hosted a presentation last night on the Star of Bethlehem, and it was the most incredible "event" I've been to in a long time. I left thinking, "I can't wait to blog about this," yet my ability to communicate the majesty of it is so very insufficient. I can't even think of strong enough words to depict what I saw about God last night. A professor here in Texas has done extensive astronomical research on the star that led the wise men to Jesus, and the scientific realities of what he has found are astounding. I confess that I went to this event with merely a desire to learn, to gain more knowledge. The Star of Bethlehem is something that until last night I knew nothing about. So I wanted to know about it. But what resulted was something far more than knowledge....worship was the only response. I cannot believe how big God is. I've known that in my head, but to see just a tiny glimpse of His power in this way last night blows me away. You must check out this guy's website - - Don't be scared of it. I'm not a "science-y" type of thinker naturally, but it's very well-explained. There is a DVD that you can order from his website, and I urge everyone I know to buy it!!!! I'm not kidding. We ordered it as soon as we got home last night. My brother will eat it up. He doesn't know it yet, but he's the first one to borrow it from us. And my brother-in-law, Eric, who is always quite the thinker, will find it very interesting as well, I'm sure. We may have to purchase lots of copies. Your Christmas this year will be different if you get a copy of this presentation. The guy was very funny in person....I am not sure if the DVD will be as entertaining, but I'd guess so. It's produced by one of the producers of The Passion of the Christ. I hear Jim Caviezel loves it. =) Anyway, you have to see this!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Sweets With Santa

This morning we took Jonah to have his picture taken with Santa. A local church's MOPS group set up this event where you can take your own picture with Santa for only $5 (or have a photographer take a 5x7 for $10). I was very excited. What a great idea they had. Jonah was not overly affectionate with Santa or anything. He climbed up there and sat in his lap and definitely had his brave face on. We finally got him to smile once for a picture. When Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas, Jonah said, "a baseball." That's news to us today. Jonah just remained very serious the whole time. He was most excited about the cookie they gave him on the way out. Just wanted to share this (yet to be edited and cropped) picture because it makes me happy.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

5 Days In...

We've been having so much fun doing our Advent activities. Jonah asks every day to do it and is most excited about the activities that have to do with coloring and stickers. He sits on the couch and plays with his nativity scene while we read the Christmas story out of his little Bible storybook. He holds and rocks baby Jesus, and it's precious. Of course, we've had so many funny moments. One day he made Christmas cards for some of his friends, and he really got into it. He put stickers all over the cards, and it just always cracks us up that two-year olds will have an entire page to work with, and they'll put all five stickers or so in one little spot, pretty much on top of each other. His creativity at work was really making me and Joel laugh. Sunday night's activity had to do with making paper snowflakes, and Joel and I were ready to impress Jonah with our beautiful creations....only, um, we're not as smart as we thought we were, evidently. I used to make these all the time. I hadn't in two years. But I still expected to remember how. Well, I couldn't. Joel couldn't. We folded so many different papers and made cuts in what we thought were all the right places, only to open up our folded papers to reveal very retarded-looking snowflakes. Or they would just fall apart. It was hysterical. Jonah has absolutely no understanding of what a snowflake is supposed to look like and had no clue at all as to what we were doing. He just gave us the strangest looks as Joel and I laughed our heads off while continuing our vain attempts. We looked it up on the internet later and remembered right away how we were supposed to fold them. So we'll probably revisit that activity another day now that we know what we're doing. Anyway, it's been fun. Now I just have to find another place to have a picture taken with Santa....because the cheapest option at the mall is $25, and I just think that's ridiculous. If anyone from here knows a good, cheap Santa, then let me know!

It's also so fun to watch Jonah mesmerized by the tiniest things this season. I was telling my aunt Joy yesterday that I had really wanted to take him to Holiday in the Park at Six Flags, but now I want to hold off a lot longer because Jonah thinks my mom's house is a Wonderland at Christmas! I mean, he's so fascinated by watching this one little thing she has that sits on a table and has ice skaters going around it. It's really small. Yet it's a big thing to him. I want him to enjoy the simple things for as long as possible, and I don't really want to bombard him with the "bigger" Christmas decorations just yet. I like that his favorite thing in our house is a very small tree in his room that has one strand of about 15 lights and 4 ornaments! It's pretty pathetic-looking in many eyes, but to him, it's the first thing he wants to show you if you come to our house. There's such a lesson to be learned there, and I'm pondering it a while longer to hopefully gain insight into my own heart and discern whether I'm savoring the simple joys of my Savior this holiday season or if I'm always looking for more, bigger, better.

We tried to get a good Christmas card photo today, but I think it was to no avail. Yet I really don't want to wait much longer to get these done and mailed, so I might have to sacrifice finding "the one" this year. There are more urgent things right being out of milk. I have got to go to the store. Now! So I'll leave you with a picture from this week. Some of you may know that on Mondays this fall, I've picked up three girls from school in the afternoon, and we take them back to their house for a little while until their mom gets home. I forget that it's a job....I feel like I get paid for a playdate! Jonah gets bombarded by pink and girly things and Barbies and all that....he loves playing with their three-year old girl. Next week is our last week, and I'm getting a little sad about it. This is a family I baby-sat for in high school when they had one baby girl. Now that baby is in fourth grade, and there are two more. It's hard to believe how old she is! Or maybe how old I am. But anyway, last Monday we stopped by my mom's after school and took this picture. So here's Jonah, Meg, Makensie, and Macy:

Friday, November 30, 2007

Preparing for December With a Two Year Old

Well, here you have it....our plans to celebrate Christmas with Jonah this year. He's already so excited about all of the Christmas lights or decorations, but I don't think he really knows why yet. He just knows it's going to be a fun month. I'm really thrilled that he's at an age where we can be pretty intentional in teaching him what Christmas is all about. Even though I know he will not fully "get it," so far in parenting I've learned that you can never start teaching about the Lord too early. It's amazing what kids that age pick up and the information they retain if it's repeatedly and consistently told to them. So we'll be talking about a lot and praying that one day truth will sink in and one day Jesus will capture his little heart. I'm excited to know that the foundations laid now really will shape the understanding he will have of God when he's older, and I've been asking the Lord to really lead us during this time of intentionally reflecting with our son on the true reason for Christmas.

Before I get specific with some of our practical activities we have planned, I wanted to share what's been on my heart concerning how to weave together the aspects of the biblical story of Christmas with the fun, silly, whimsical parts of the season. We will include both in our celebrations. And the reason is that in our family, it all has to do with Jesus. Our worldview is one that does not separate the "sacred" and the "secular" into categories that are "holy" and "unholy." Any of it can point to Christ. We hope to grow in such a way that everything we do flows from a love for the Lord. That is a goal to strive for, and although I am far from reaching it, it's still the standard God has set (1 Corinthians 10:31) and refers to the heart-motivation for all kinds of activities, not just the "spiritually"-obvious, churchy parts of life. I'm probably not explaining this well. (Here's a little book that does, in case you're interested.) So we will go ahead and "do" Santa in our family for now and we'll have fun with those kinds of things. But we are making a deliberate choice to explain why we even do things like visiting Santa at the mall or reading books about Rudolph. It's all just a way of celebrating JESUS and His birth. I will take every chance I get this month to explain to Jonah that it all has to do with Him....We put up lights on our house and inside on our tree because Jesus is the light of the world and we want to celebrate it and want others to know about our joy; we bake cookies so we can deliver them to others to share God's love with them, because He is our life and we want others to know how good He is. Those are the kinds of explanations I'm talking about. I am praying for wisdom in these "conversations" because I want nothing less than to connect everything in Jonah's world to the truth of who God is - not just at Christmastime, but this season does offer some great opportunities to communicate that in some fun ways, and we want to jump at them. It's also a good time, for me personally, to focus on these things and be encouraged in a new way to intentionally engage my son in a quest to know more of the God we love.

Above is a picture of a cute little Advent calendar I found at Target. I've seen several cute ideas on the internet for making your own unique one, but this is what I chose to go with. I plan to go beyond its basic design and write 24 different activities on little pieces of paper and insert one into each day's pocket. Starting tomorrow, Jonah will move the candy cane into the Dec. 1st pocket and take out that day's activity and we will do it together. Each morning, before we move the candy cane and do the activity, we will read the story of Jesus' birth and talk about it and make a point to talk about why His birth is the reason for us doing whatever the fun activity is. It will just provide an opportunity for me to be really intentional in communicating the things I shared in the previous paragraph that are pressing on my heart for my son to hear this season. Some days' activities will be as simple as coloring a holiday-themed picture. Some days' activities will center around more involved activities, things we've already planned on doing like a family celebration on the 23rd, driving to look at Christmas lights, etc. So, below are the list of things I have considered for this year:

  • Watch a Christmas movie.
  • Make a red-and-green paper chain to decorate Jonah's room
  • Color nativity picture.
  • Make s'mores and drink hot chocolate, singing Christmas carols.
  • Buy a gift for an Angel Tree child.
  • Go to the drive-through Bethlehem scene at one of our local churches.
  • Make a photo ornament.
  • Bake Christmas cookies.
  • Visit Santa and have picture taken with him.
  • Make Christmas cards for friends.
  • Visit a hospital or nursing home to deliver small bags of goodies to patients.
  • Make a reindeer puppet.
  • Make a birthday cake for Jesus and have a party.
  • Make white chocolate-covered pretzels.
  • Pick out a present for Daddy all by himself.
  • Make a collage of Christmas pictures from magazine cutouts.
  • Make a paper plate snowman.
  • Drive through a Winter-Wonderland or drive around neighborhoods looking at lights.
  • Go to a cookie-decorating part with friends.
  • Make a handprint wreath.
  • Make a gingerbread house ( graham cracker one in a box that requires very little assembly because really now, who are we kidding)
  • Make scented pinecones.
  • Attend the Christmas in the Park celebration at the Children's Park.
  • Decorate plain white dishtowels with red and green paint.
  • Make gift tags to go on our presents.
  • Make paper snowflakes.
  • Celebrate Christmas in Athens with family (surprise horse-drawn carriage ride!)
Ok, so I am going to be realistic about which of these are actually doable for us, because I know I can't possibly pull off all of that. The crafts alone might do me in. But hopefully by writing it on here, I'm inviting some accountability with the crafts. I hope they're not the death of me. Anyway, these are obviously geared for a two-year-old, but many of them will work for older kids as well, and there is a plethora of resources on the internet. Now, I have to admit that my main reason for ever wanting to blog about this topic is so that I can hear YOUR ideas for doing fun things with kids at Christmastime. I am not at all an originally creative person, but I do have a knack for stealing other people's ideas. =) So please please please leave me a comment if you have another activity that I should add to my list of possible daily Advent activities. We'd all love to know it, I'm sure.

Here are a few websites I have found that may spur you towards some fun ideas:

Family Fun
Family Crafts
Christmas for Kids
Christmas Crafts
Pinecone Craft
Coloring Pictures

And some more random Christmas thoughts....

One idea a family I know has adopted was to repeatedly tell their kids every Christmas season that "Easter completes what Christmas begins." That was their line. They chose to divide their present-giving to the kids evenly between the two holidays. Anytime they had those conversations about why we do these things at Christmas, they always connected it to Easter and made the story of Jesus' birth much more complete. Now, the kids in that family are pretty much all grown now, and they tend to get one "big" present at Christmas and another "big" one at Easter. Such consistency. And it shows where those parents' hearts are. I'm afraid that my excitement at Christmas often overshadows my excitement for Easter, and really all that does is reveal motives of mine that are probably not right or a focus that is off-centered. I am convicted just by learning of that family's example.

Another practice we started at Jonah's first Christmas was to set a standard for how many gifts our kids would get. It is easy to say we don't want to go overboard and buy our kids too much stuff or have such a large focus on gift-receiving, but we think it's hard to actually enforce unless we have some kind of system that sets ground rules that will remain over time. There are plenty of ways to do this. Some families decide that every family member will receive three gifts only, as a representation of the three gifts that the wise men brought to baby Jesus. Others use a system of gift-receiving based on the child's age. There are lots of ways to practice discipline in the areas of spending too much or buying too many toys. Rather than tell you on here the exact details of what we have chosen to do, I will say that if that's something you feel you may need to consider, ask the Lord for direction in it. He is full of good ideas like that! We have complete peace knowing that some limits concerning buying things for our child have been set in our house, and we feel really good about them, believing that it will help us to stay true to our convictions about what is most important to teach our children about the holiday season.

Ok, well, I'm exhausted. I'd love to hear from you on some of your ideas. Really, I would. Maybe somebody has been just a little inspired from all this talk. I'm feeling excited....and tired already. =)

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Oh, Lots of Stuff...

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! We had a great visit in Oklahoma with Joel's side of the family. We've just been readjusting back to normal life all this week. This week has been officially dubbed the "Get My Life Back Together Week" and I've been at home every day except when absolutely necessary to get out for something. I couldn't even think about getting out Christmas decorations until my house was in better order. Time for confession. You see, I hadn't cleaned my house (or cooked a meal) in months. It's sad. It really is. I've spent the last two months feeling entirely overwhelmed by every task and in every area of my life. I was so far behind in everything. So I decided upon returning home after Thanksgiving that I couldn't live in this kind of environment any longer! Thankfully, how I felt physically had finally improved to the point where I could unload the dishwasher, enforce the picking-up-toys-rule with my child, and do some more of the very basic housekeeping chores. I'm nowhere close to normal yet. But at least two rooms in my house are clean right now. That's right. I spent the last four days at home cleaning, and I only have two rooms actually all clean. My productivity rate has gone way done. But I don't care. I just won't go in those other rooms. And I won't let you either. But finally, I'm starting to feel satisfaction from knowing that the dirty clothes are no longer winning. They defeated me for about nine weeks and more than one member of the family had to naked on occassion, but that is not the case anymore. I'm back. And no one is happier than my husband. Evidently, he missed me. =)

Jonah and I decorated our living room Christmas tree this morning, and I had such a sweet time with my son. He got so excited about the "ormanents" or "ornerments" and has picked out his favorite one already - a green one (his favorite color) that we got in Kentucky when visiting my brother's family last has a horse on it, of course, and that is just the most exciting thing in his world so far today. This Christmas decorating has been a slow process though. I didn't realize how much I'd be slowed down this year by a 2 year old. Jonah sustained two minor decorating injuries this morning. First, he cut his finger on a box that holds Christmas ornaments. It was bleeding a lot, but he was very insistent on NOT wearing a band-aid. I thought all kids liked band-aids. What little boy doesn't want a Spiderman one on his finger? I had to bribe him with chocolate. Strange. And then, he poked himself in the eye with the star that we were about to put on top of the tree. But eventually he realized that it probably wasn't in his best interests to get into all of the stuff Mommy had told him not to touch, what with the bleeding and sore eye and all, and we finally got it done.

So, for those of you wanting the pregnancy details...I am 14 and a half weeks pregnant right now and finally feeling like it's real. I spent four weeks in intense nausea. I felt a lot like I did with Jonah, just didn't throw up quite as much. (If you don't know, I spent the first 19 weeks of pregnancy with him throwing up pretty much everything that went into my mouth -even sips of water- and then was still fairly sick for a few more months....the last time I threw up was at 29 weeks. So much for the "you'll feel better in the second trimester" advice people give you. I wanted to slap those people. I still do.) So I thought things were going to be that way again, but then at 9 weeks pregnant, I started to notice a definite improvement in my nausea. I throw up when I first wake up in the morning, but that's pretty much it. And I get really nauseous if my stomach gets empty. But I was able to function a little better the last month than that first one. And then, this week, I've seen another significant improvement in how I've felt. Finally, most foods are tasting good again. So I'm really thankful that the sickness hasn't been so extreme this time. I think it's more normal pregnancy sickness, which is a huge blessing, because I don't know how I could survive the extreme kind again since I do have a child to take care of this time! And I've even been thankful to have been sick at all. It's been somewhat of a reassurance to me during the last couple of months that things are looking ok with this pregnancy. All of the emotional issues of this pregnancy will have to be saved for another post! Let's just say it was a really good thing that I was doing a Bible study called Calm My Anxious Heart! But I'm feeling really excited now. Jonah has already been very affectionate to this baby and wants to give it lots of hugs and kisses. My belly is often covered with slobber, and it's sweet but pretty gross. I have already started showing a little and have been wearing some maternity clothes. My, how things have progressed faster with this pregnancy than with my first! I guess keeping food down really makes a difference. Jonah says it's "a girl baby" and he assures us that it's a sister. We think he's crazy. I'd be very surprised if it was a girl. And I'd probably be in need of some therapy. But we'll find out who's right on January 7th, assuming baby cooperates.

Sorry for this long post, but Jonah is with my mom right now, and I finally have some uninterrupted time to catch up with some blogging. My parents are taking him to our town's Christmas parade tonight. I'm sure he will come home all wired and hyper before bedtime. Daddy will be the one to have to deal with that, as I'm having dinner with a few friends at one of my favorite restaurants. I'm really excited...mostly about the company but also a whole lot about the eating part. I need to cut this short now so that I can go wash and dry my hair. I figure since I am, after all, getting my life back together this week, I should probably start fixing my hair again. And I had planned on writing about the Christmas ideas on this post. Sorry for the delays on that one! It will come before December 1st. I would promise, but since there are people in my life who have a history of making life exciting for us...oh, by having heart attacks and things like that, I can't make promises about blogging. Whenever I do, something comes up. And I don't want anything else to come up!!!

You may have noticed that I finally added links to friends' blogs, but please know that my brain is not a normal brain right now, and if I've forgotten yours, I didn't mean to. Please let me know. I just added them really quickly, and I know I've forgotten some. My memory is my enemy right now. I have had a few friends start blogging recently, and I want you to be able to check theirs out. Like Christa, for example. She tends to have very insightful things to say. She'll hate that intro, but oh well, it's true. Now....if only Amy Luce and Ame Hanson will get their acts together and start blogging, I'll be a happy girl.


Wow, I just realized that I'm feeling pretty fiesty today. Pregnancy-brain has definitely begun its takeover.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words...

Oh, you'll still get the 1000 words anyway, I'm sure! Just not right now because I'm supposed to be out the door to meet someone. But I couldn't help but go ahead and post our news. We are thrilled to death that God is increasing our family. Baby is due in May, and we're crazy about it already.

Friday, November 16, 2007

A Long Day....With a Happy Ending

My dad's heart procedure was done this afternoon, and he just got out. Everything went well! His heart looked good, his previous stints were still open, with no clotting. He did have a very small heart attack, but it was minor enough (meaning a tiny artery was blocked) that there wasn't even any repair necessary. The attack was due to the stress of surgery and the effects of anesthesia. He is doing well in recovery and will be in the hospital for another night. (We are praying for quick healing for his knee so that he can quickly resume his walking exercise to help control his diabetes.) This was the best news we could have received from the doctor's report of the surgery, and we know God did a gracious thing today for our family. Thank you again for your love and prayers.


Well, some of you know this already, but yesterday when my dad was in recovery from his surgery, he began having bad chest pains similar to the kind he had in March with his two heart attacks. So yesterday afternoon was spent waiting in an ER, then getting admitted to the hospital yesterday evening, not really knowing much of anything. Late last night his cardiologist came by and they received blood tests back that showed an elevated enzyme level, indicating a problem with his heart. He will have a heart catheterization this morning to take a look at what is happening in his heart. Please pray that whatever injury to the heart that exists is a minor condition resulting from surgery "trauma" and can be easily fixed while they are already in there.

Thank you so much for your prayers. And to those of you who have been calling and sending text messages, please know that your thoughtfulness and care has meant so much. It is hard for me to respond to all of the text messages, especially since the information to give isn't usually all that concise. So I will mainly rely on this blog to communicate the details of his situation and health. Thank you for understanding that! Unfortunately the hospital doesn't have wireless access, so they may not be the most timely updates, but I will do it when I can. Again, a big thank you for your prayers and support to our family.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Real Quick

This morning my dad will have surgery on his knee. It is a fairly minor outpatient surgery that should require just a few days' recovery time. However, yesterday at his pre-op appointment, there was some discrepancy among different doctors as to whether or not he should be having surgery. There were questions as to how long he's supposed to be on Plavix before having surgery of any kind and it depended on what kinds of stints he had put in his heart last March. One of his stints is the kind that the one doctor says Dad is supposed to be on Plavix for a year before having surgery. So it almost got postponed until next year, but based on two other doctors' opinions, they then decided to go ahead with it. Needless to say, the disagreement or uncertainty makes us a little nervous. So even though this should be a very simple procedure today, I just feel it is really important to pray for no blood clots!! That's the possible danger for him during this surgery. So, today I just want to ask you to remember my sweet daddy and pray for him with a daughter's heart during the next few days. I'd appreciate it so much.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

As You Wish

Well, a big thank you to the four of you who responded to my survey! I don't feel quite as helpless now. I had hoped to hear from more of you, but I'll just go with it for now. You're still welcome to share your requests though. The first topic on the writing agenda is "Celebrating Jesus with your Children at Christmas." I'm working on it, and you'll have it soon. But for now, I just wanted to check in and say hello.

I'm quite giddy right now, as my hair just received a much-needed color job. And guess how much I paid for it. $6.99. Yes ma'am. I'm thrilled with the results, and now all I need is to make an appointment for a haircut, and my life will feel all together. A big thanks to my mom who did the color for me - she did a great job! I was nervous, because I am used to having it done by a professional. However, the last two times I got it done at a salon, the color did not hold up at all. It just faded immediately and looked horrible. So I decided there's no need to pay that kind of money when it hasn't been turning out well. And I am really glad I did! I do apologize for spending so many words on the issue of MY HAIR, but this is a big day for me!

Let me just tell you about my weekend last weekend. I was able to spend two days in Dallas, all by myself, shopping to my little heart's content! It was amazing. I was able to do a lot of Christmas shopping without the distraction of a two-year-old, and the best part was the quiet hotel room that I had all to myself. Yep, just me. Nobody else. I had wondered if I would get bored. HA! It may have been one of the best nights of my life. No one was there to mess up anything. I could put my things wherever I wanted and know that no one would move them or make additional clutter. The sheer joy and satisfaction that resulted was a clear reminder that I have some serious OCD issues. (Thanks, Dad.) It's just that it's so nice when things are in order and they stay that way. And those of us who have more than just ourselves in our family know how rare that is! Well, I don't know. Some of you may have figured out how to create order in your homes and maintain it despite children ,and you might actually "manage your household." For me, that term is such a joke. But anyway, it was a marvelous weekend. I felt so refreshed. The only downer was hitting my knee hard on the corner edge of the coffee table in the hotel room. No great story there. I just walked into it. That's how graceful I am. I was in great pain for one whole day, a day when no one was with me to listen to me whine about it. Such a shame. I was quite dramatic about it in my head though.

There's one other thing I wanted to say because I tend to forget the cute little things my child says, and I hate that. This morning he heard me wonder aloud if Gigi could color my hair today, and he looked at me with the strangest look. I didn't think much about my words, but then I saw the wheels turning in his brain as he looked towards his basket full of crayons. I assured him that she would not use crayons and reminded him that we don't color on anything other than our coloring books or paper Mommy gives him. (By the way, coloring has been his favorite activity the last two weeks. It's ALL he wants to do.) I explained what Gigi was going to do to my hair, and he just kept looking at me with the most bewildered look. I asked him what he thought about that, and he sighed and slowly said (as if giving up on understanding this strange thing), "I don't know anything." HEEHEE. He's funny.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Trick-or-Treating and Time for a Survey

Joel and I walked with Jonah to some neighbors' houses last night, and he really had a fun time. At one house, an elderly man answered the door and greeted us, and as he called for his wife to come get a look at Jonah, our little lion walked right in the door and stood in their front entry hall to wait for her. It was funny how comfortable he was! I guess he was just making himself right at home. When we turned to leave, we reminded him, "Say 'thank you,' Jonah" and he turned to look at them and enthusiastically said, "thank you Jonah!" It was a very hilarious moment for all of us.

Now, time for some business. I've had a lot of things on my mind lately that have made me think, "I need to blog about that." Some posts I've already started writing in my head. But this is what happens....everything comes at once and I get overwhelmed because I don't know where to start, and then somehow I end up not blogging for ridiculously long periods of time. I don't want to go a long time without writing something, so I'm asking for your help in knowing where to start. Below are some possible topics I'd like to write about:

  • Thoughts on a book I'm currently reading called Beyond the Masquerade, Unveiling the Authentic You

  • My excitement over something I found out about the next season of 24. (All you fans/fellow obsessed ones, I am DYING over the new trailer for the 7th season. Just dying. Care to know why??)

  • Why my 2007 could also be called "the year of surrender"

  • A "review" of the movie High School Musical

  • How I would encourage The World to help a friend through miscarriage, if The World wanted to know

  • In anticipation of Oprah's upcoming most-popular-show, I'd like to share my very own list of favorite things

  • Thoughts on politics and the upcoming election - Can a conservative Christian who loves Jesus vote for a moderate/more liberal candidate? (Sure to be full of surprises. IF I decide to write it. I could very well chicken out of this controversial topic.)

  • Ideas for celebrating Jesus with your little ones at Christmastime. Hopefully creative.

  • Basic grammar/spelling help geared towards assisting The World in more effective usage of the English language. =)

  • Possible new once-weekly scheduled post, with installments focusing on the topic of "What I Saw in the Bible Today"
So, tell me. What would you like to read about? Please leave comments, sharing your top-requested post-topic(s) or rank these in the order you'd find most interesting for me to write about. I'm aware that you're not exactly requesting anything from me. It's not like I'm promising them to be any more interesting or special than they've always been. In fact, I'm sure they won't be. Don't expect too much! But I'd still like help because I'm stuck in my decision-making process here!!!

Just know that I am on the verge of falling out of blogging if I don't get some direction here, so I will hold you personally responsible for my disappearance if I don't hear from you. =) Oh, and I'll only count the votes that appear via comments on my blog. Because I'm strict like that.

Happy November!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Thoughts on Mommyhood...

Melody had asked about my recommendations for parenting books, and I was going to send her a short little comment about it, but it ended up not being very short! The topic of parenting/discipline strategies has been on my mind a lot lately, so I decided to dedicate a whole post to the topic. Not that many will care. But it's my blog, and I'll write about it if I want to. =)

As for discipline and issues related to having a toddler, I really like Shepherding a Child's Heart. I've said that before. But the following is a list of books/systems that I am familiar with because of reading portions of them or by seeing how people close to me have implemented them in their own families, and I have learned enough from them to want to read them in entirety. I'm in new territory now with Jonah, so I'm sort of at the starting point of learning how to parent a toddler, and I have lots to learn. So, know up front that I have not yet read all of these completely, so it can't be an official recommendation at this point. But I know enough about them to know that they teach principles that we feel God desiring us to implement in our home. As with all parenting resources, everything should be measured by not only God's Word but also God's personal leading through our own relationship with Him. More on that later. Here's my list:

  • Don't Make Me Count to Three by Ginger Plowman
  • Growing Kids God's Way by Gary Ezzo
  • Parenting With Love and Logic by Jim Fay and Foster W. Cline
  • To Train up a Child by Michael and Debi Pearl

Now, as for when Jonah was a baby, we used a combination of the ideas in Secrets of the Baby Whisperer and the Babywise books. I'm a big fan of both books, but like I said, I combined their ideas, taking a little and leaving a little from both. What was important to me was that we created an atmosphere in which structure and order existed but where loving affection was not abandoned in the pursuit of a schedule. Flexibility is key. Both of these books promote a eat-wake-play routine based on about a 3-hour schedule for a newborn. It is a concept that I feel works very well for babies. Mine didn't sleep through the night any sooner for being on this schedule (due to some late-discovered eating issues), but most babies do! I saw it over and over again in the infants I nannied for before having Jonah, so I knew immediately that this was the system I wanted to follow for nursing, naptimes, and other aspects of infant life. Oh wait, what other aspects?! It seems like that's about all you do for a few months, right? =) But anyway, that's why I like those books. I just want to state those reasons clearly, because if you're looking to follow a more child-centered approach (like attachment-parenting), then you won't like my infant-book recommendations! Don't bother reading them. And there are other methods that I'm sure work too. This is just what we did.

But two things have been on my mind lately regarding this stuff. One is an ever-growing conviction that our parenting should reflect God's character. We know that. But we often forget that God's character is a blend of grace and justice, mercy and righteousness, compassion and truth. His character traits don't contradict each other, but they work together perfectly. He has a high standard - holiness - but He is full of grace as He mercifully leads us to Him. It just seems right that godly parenting would reflect this seemingly-paradoxical reality of God's character. Our parenting should be blended. There seem to be a lot of people who adhere to more extreme views on parenting. I could talk ALL DAY about the two polar-opposite views of baby-raising that I see all the time. Attachment parenting vs. Hyper-scheduling. I've noticed that a lot of people choose one of these views and have nothing to do with any aspect of the other. I'm not going into detail about what I feel is wrong about adhering to such an extreme view or what the effects I've seen from either end. I will just say that the reason I want to find a mix of the two philosophies is that I want to do my best to represent the whole of God's character and not just represent one part of it. As my child's parent, I am an authority in his life and have the responsibility to set boundaries and teach him to obey. I don't have to apologize for that. God put me in that role! I also have the responsibility to show love, grace, mercy, compassion, and tenderness to my child. BOTH are profoundly significant responsibilities in helping to shape my child's understanding of who God is. Which leads me to conviction #2....

The other thing that God has reminded me of lately is that the ONLY way to be a godly parent is to know Him more and nurture my own relationship with Him. Everything I do as a parent should flow from my relationship with my Savior. Anything else is futile. Really. I'm trying to reach my child's heart; good behavior is not the goal. So if I'm living a life based on "behavior" and not out of real love and heart-devotion to the Lord, then what am I doing? What kind of model am I for my child? If I parent out of anything other than heart-love for God, then I know I won't be the one who gives my child a picture of Christ. That thought makes me sad. Yet, this is hard for me. I confess that too many days I parent, teach, and discipline my child out of my own selfishness - wanting to make life easier for myself, wanting to "prove" myself or my skills, wanting others to be impressed/not wanting to be embarrassed by my child's behavior. That is YUCKY stuff. So I'm just realizing afresh this week how important it is for me to kill my selfishness and pride every day and rely on the Holy Spirit to transform my heart daily so that I desire more of God's glory than my own comfort. And it's a beautiful thing that it works this way. If I focus on my own heart and becoming who God wants me to be, then naturally, God gives wisdom in parenting. I won't say it's a breeze always! But I've yet to not get answers from Him on any parenting question or challenge when I'm really seeking Him from a right heart. Sometimes He'll even lead me to some other source. It's why book recommendations are great, but you really only want to read the ones or take advice from the people you know God is leading you to listen to. Now I'm trying to only seek out answers or help from a book or from a friend when I know God is giving me peace about turning in that direction. And I'm afraid I won't know if the nudge is from Him if I'm not in the Word. It all goes back to "Where is my own heart?" So I hope no one follows any of my reading or parenting recommendations unless they are walking with the Lord and sensing His leading to do so. He might want you to learn from someone other than me or the authors of the books I've mentioned.

Beyond the Scriptural instructions God gives us about parenting, there are so many different ways to parent our children, and I've really come to believe that God leads many people to do a lot of the specific, practical parts of parenting in different ways than He leads others. I know that sounds simple. And for all of you who score high on mercy when you take spiritual-gifts tests, you're probably thinking that's pretty obvious. But I've been slow to learn that one. I tend to think really black-and-white on a lot of issues. There are lots of black-and-white issues in the world. But I'm thinking that nap schedules, breastfeeding, creative correction techniques are not some of them! I shared my convictions earlier on the dangers of adhering to an extreme view of parenting that limits our portrayal of a large part of God's character. I believe that so strongly. But what we do as parents between the two extremes is something that looks different from family to family, even when God is the one the parents are following. I wish the world of mommies could all respect each other, despite these differences. I wish the differences didn't affect friendships as negatively as they do sometimes. I wish women weren't made to feel like big disappointments and failures by other mommies because of these differences and instead received encouragement and respect. I want to learn more from other mommies and our differences. I've met some great families here that I admire and respect what their children are becoming, and a lot of them I've found out have done a lot of things differently than our family has. It is important to have relationships with people who have the same biblical goals, but how we get there is going to look different a lot of times. And that's ok! I think the world of mommies just needs to show each other some more grace. I'm working on this one. After all, none of us is perfect. We will never cultivate our relationship with God into perfection while on this earth. We all go through times when we resist Him in our hearts, refusing to commune with Him, choosing not to spend time studying the Bible - and we all receive GRACE when we come to Him with broken, repentant hearts. We all need grace. And we should all be extending it to one another. Especially as fellow mommies!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall Fun

This is such a fun time of year to have a little one! There's been a lot of fun fall stuff happening lately. Here are some pics to show you what we've been up to. On Friday, our playgroup went to a farm/pumpkin's a new one in town and it's my favorite ever because it's first of all, FREE, and secondly, adorably cute. There was a fun playground, a maize of haystacks, a big hill of hay to play on (or "mountain" to the kids), a catfish pond where the kids could feed the fish, a hayride out to the pumpkin patch where the kids got to pick out a pumpkin, and tractor-pulled "train" rides. It was fun to be somewhere that finally Jonah was at the age where he could do all of the activities. He had a blast.

And, somehow, I'm ending up taking a lot of pictures on the "ch" in "cheese" instead of the "ee" and his face tends to look like this in a whole lot of our pictures:

Last night we went to our church's Halloween block party, and Jonah had fun as a lion. He finally figured out the point of the games (getting candy!) towards the very end of the night, so he didn't accomplish as much as I'd hoped, in terms of collecting candy for his Mommy! But he had so much fun seeing everyone in their costumes. I'll post more costume pictures when actual Halloween comes, but here is what he looked like after I got him dressed at my parents' house to go to church last night:

And I love the back view, with the padded behind and cute tail:

For those family members who want to see Mom's almost-complete redecoration of her hall bathroom, there's a little peak. It's looking really good!!! You can't see the texture on the walls, but it's beautiful. It's really quite a transformation in that room!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Catch-up Time

My, have we had a lot going on lately. Last week, Joel's mom came to visit us, and we had a great time with her. Jonah had a blast playing with Nanny every second of the day for five days! He's still talking about her lots and misses her. Last Saturday, Joel had a conference to attend, so Nanny and I took Jonah to the Rose Parade. It's his second year to go, and he's been spellbound by all of the parade participants both times. He especially loved the marching bands, horses, and the Shriners riding around in miniature cars...he called them the "funnymen." Here is what his face looked like the entire two hours:

He's been acting really sweet lately. I'm enjoying it! He seems to have more hugs to give and wants to cuddle more than usual. He's seemed so big lately! I was telling someone today how amazed I am by how much kids change from their second birthday to four months after it! There have been SO many changes in Jonah in the last four months, it seems like he's a different kid. Really, he's changing so fast, it's hard to know what to get him for Christmas because I have no idea what this kid will be like in two more months! There is no question that there have been more challenges in discipline and new things to teach him since turning two, and he's tested me quite a bit during these last months. But the truth is, I'm really having fun with him at this age! (Remind me of that if next week is rough.) Seems crazy. But even with the challenges, there are so many more developments that are really FUN. It's so great to watch his personality develop and especially his little social skills. And then there are moments that just melt your heart: One day a few weeks ago, I was complaining in front of him about something I didn't want to do. It was totally wrong of me to not be careful about what I was saying in front of him. I had to work on this project for a shower I was helping to host, and I had been sick and didn't feel good that night, so I was saying something like, "arrgghh....I don't feel like doing this." It didn't register at that moment that he was listening, but as I walked into the other room to begin working on it, he followed me and said, "Mommy, God will feel you better." Oh. My. Goodness. I couldn't believe my two year old was so sweetly encouraging me and reminding me of Truth! It was so cute how he said it but even more amazing that God would not only convict me through Jonah's words but show me the sweetest kind of mercy in allowing my son to see past my whinyness and be able to give me perspective on God's ability to help me do what I had to do. We prayed together right then asking God to help mommy feel well enough to do her work. It blew me away. We had talked before about God helping him do things and we pray for people to feel better when they're sick, but sadly, we don't talk about it enough. It was neat to see that any truth from God's Word that we talk about in front of our kids has power to actually reach them and get into their hearts enough that they can recall it at appropriate times. INCREDIBLE!

Speaking of him seeming so much older....yesterday my friend Holly came to Tyler with her two punkins, and we hung out at Kate's house for the day. It was so refreshing just to spend time with girlfriends, but it was so incredible to watch our kids all play together. 3-year old Brantley and 2-year olds Jonah and Tyce played so well together the whole day! We didn't have to stay in the same room as them for most of it....they didn't fight over toys or anything. Well, at least they worked it out themselves mostly. We would just listen to them talking to each other and every once in a while they'd crack each other up. Their laughs were precious. But it was such a weird moment to realize that my baby boy was big enough to play with other kids without needing his mommy to intervene every few minutes. I can't explain how strange it was....but I realized in a whole new way how much he has grown and how fast he's changing. I felt like it was a big accomplishment, in terms of his independence. Of course, Brantley and Tyce are two of the sweetest little guys. They all three were so good. And all of us mommies recognized it as the gift from God it was to US, to be able to talk and actually finish most of our sentences and feel like adults for a day! Just a day, but, aaahh, what a day it was! I'm sad I didn't get pictures of all of them, but here is Brantley driving Jonah around in his Jeep:

These boys made me laugh so hard. They got "stuck" at the fence at one point, and it was really funny to me, for some reason. So funny that I was no help to them getting it in forward gear because of laughing so much. Jonah loved it. By the way, Kate found that Jeep at a garage sale for $25!! Can you believe that?! Where are those kind of deals when I'm at garage sales? She should get an award for that kind of bargain.

Today was our last day of Bible study, and I'm a little sad. I really sensed that God did a lot of amazing things in the hearts of so many ladies in that room. It's been really rewarding to hear these ladies share some of the major fears they've been delivered from and the things that they've let go and surrendered to God's control during these seven weeks. All of them testify to experiencing God's peace now. Over half of the ladies told me that they've sent copies of this book to friends of theirs or bought extra copies to send to people...even one lady sent copies to her three sisters (two of which she doesn't know if they're believers) and has invited them to participate in an online version of this Bible study that she plans to lead. I think it's been most encouraging to hear that not only have people in the class been changed by what God has revealed to them and have started walking in victory in some areas that used to be strongholds, but they're reaching past themselves and investing in others' lives with these truths we've studied, as well. It's neat to see God's work continue and see them take an active role in encouraging and leading others. It blesses me so much to see that. I'm very humbled today by the outcome of this class, and not just for them but also the results in my own life. I was excited to lead these ladies through the Calm My Anxious Heart study but I'm struck by how this study was meant for me as well at this time. I didn't realized how much God would work in my own heart when I first decided to lead this one. I learned so much through this journey and have learned to trust God in areas that I honestly wasn't fully trusting God with before this class started. It's just such a neat thing when God does step out to teach others and He teaches you! Like I said, humbling. But incredibly beautiful.

The biggest thing I realized was that I have tricked myself into thinking that I was trusting God and refusing to worry, but really all I was doing was ignoring the problem or the troubling circumstances. That's not trust. I won't have VICTORY in these areas if I can't embrace them as opportunities to let God work in my heart and transform me to reflect more of Him. Pretending pain doesn't exist will get me nowhere. There are blessings to be found in trusting Him....ignoring reality prevents me from going through the process of learning to trust Him even in the most difficult of circumstances. And embracing reality can be really hard. But I've been able to experience God's peace as I've stepped out to embrace some of my own fears and worries over the last couple of months and deal with them according to His desires, so I know for myself that His peace is real and it's good! What an amazing Bible study journey this has been for me.

Hopefully things are a little more back to normal, so I should be posting semi-regularly again! My task for this afternoon is finding a baby-sitter for tomorrow night. We have a community-group event, and all the high schools have Homecoming tomorrow night, so it's been really hard to find a sitter. I better get back to work on that!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Ok, Ok....

I've been a very very bad blogger lately. I don't know what to say. It's not that I haven't had anything to say. When I take long breaks from blogging, it's never because there's nothing to write about. Life is way too full for that. It's just hard to know where to start sometimes.

My Bible study at church is going great - I have really been encouraged by the ladies' participation, and I can't believe we're past the halfway mark now. It has been such a good group. I'm looking forward to tomorrow's discussion. One of the chapters we've read this week is called "Worry is Like a Rocking Chair".....because it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere! This is a topic that's easy for me to talk about because I used to live in worry. A lot. Not that there's really any life there. But I used to invest way too many of my thoughts in worry, and it was so pointless. All it did was rob me of opportunities to actively experience God's presence in the present. I missed so much of Him and the peace He longs to give, and I lost chances to be prepared for whatever was to be faced next in life. That's the thing - we never know what lies ahead. Circumstances could change in an instant - to be better or worse. If I refuse to skip out on knowing Him right now in the midst of my circumstance (even if it is a very worrisome and troublesome situation), then I can count on always being in a place where I can handle what He has next - and handle it gracefully. Trust is huge. And while I'm grateful that God showed me very specifically how to move out from underneath worry's stronghold, I still have to be very intentional about not getting dragged back in. I still struggle with the propensity to worry about things, and I have to work to stay on top of my thoughts. But it has gotten easier! And for that, I'm thankful. And excited to share with others. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow's class!

It's that time again when Mom and I are working on coordinating all the Bible study classes our women's ministry will provide in the spring, contacting teachers, reviewing and purchasing materials, and a whole lot of little details that have to be worked out and finalized in the next few weeks. I'm praying that God stirs the hearts of the right people to teach this spring and He lets us know who we need to approach and ask. If anyone has any Bible studies they'd recommend, please leave me a comment! What are your favorites? I'd appreciate all the input I can get. So many of you have had access to some great studies and know which ones are relevant to women today and really good for small group settings.

Jonah has a few new conversational habits that are just too cute. Well, some of them. For instance, he has begun responding to everything I say or ask of him with a "why?" - which really is cute only some of the time. NOT when it's used to buy himself time from obeying me. But he really just likes to hear himself talk, and he wants so much to communicate back and forth with us, in real conversation. So "why" is the best he's got, in terms of having something to say to continue the conversation when we tell him something. He doesn't really care for an answer. He just says "why". ALL the time! And he has this new thing where he's constantly narrating his activities and adds a "didn't I?" at the end of each sentence. Only it comes out sounding like this: "I put it in the trash, did I?" It's very cute but also a sign that he cares a great deal about verbal affirmation and recognition of his actions. It's not like firstborn children need any extra help in being people-pleasers! So I want to be careful not to teach him to be driven by a need for approval. Living for approval isn't exactly the best life strategy, and I sure find myself struggling with it too. So Lord, help me shepherd this child's heart in that direction.

This is very old news for most of you, but some of you don't know yet....I'm going to be an aunt again!!! My brother and his wife are having their third baby at the end of February. I waited to announce it on the blog until Amy gave me the go-ahead, but I'm pretty sure she forgot. =) So the news is a little late getting blogged about, but still...the rest of the world needs to know! They had an ultrasound yesterday (and didn't find out what they are having, of course), and everything looked great. The baby looks healthy, praise God. I'm thinking it will be a boy. I'm a little sad that with this child, we live so far away from each other. The hospital/birth experiences of my nephew Nathan and niece Maggie are some of my favorite memories ever, and I'm sad to think that I probably won't get to see this new little one as soon as he or she is born. I think that everyone who reads this should just collectively join together in prayer that God will move them back to Texas real soon. =)

All right, there you have some updates on my life. I haven't had the time to spend catching up on everyone else's blogs, but I hope to do that real soon. I'm planning on having out-of-town company this weekend and again all next week, so if the blogging remains sparse a little bit longer, you'll know why. But really I will try to do better!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Meg is going to be a MRS.!!!!

Some of you know Megan Brewster, one of my very best friends (Megan from Maine). She just got engaged this morning, and I'm so giddy right now!!! She called this morning to tell me, and I couldn't scream because my boys were both asleep, so I chose instead to leap across the house in excitement. I mean "leap" in the most literal sense. It would have been quite a sight, if anyone had actually seen it. But I could still do cartwheels right now over it. I haven't been this excited about someone getting married in a long time! Meg has so fully entrusted this desire of her heart to the Lord, and it is just so fun to see Him bless her for that and "return" what she's given up to Him. She is such a godly, wise girl who knows that marriage won't fulfill her in the way that so many women think, and God is going to be so lifted up because of this marriage. Beautiful! Congratulations, Nick and Megan!!! I love you, Meg....soon-to-be Meg CORNWELL!!!

Well, this last weekend was one of hearing exciting news from several friends. One of those friends is a girl I went to college with. Give her blog a visit! Welcome to the blogging world, Melody! I'm so glad to see how God has answered prayers and blessed your trust in Him.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

ABCs and Ephesians 6:1

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moving On From the Chair....

Sorry I've been a sporadic blogger lately. I'm sure all two of you missed me. =) All of those September commitments I had talked about have been upon us the last couple of weeks. We made a super quick trip into Bartlesville last week and had a great time with family there, although it was really too short. But the next two times we'll be there - Thanksgiving and New Years - will give us longer than a day and a half, so that will be good. Other than that, our new community group started last night, and I am really excited to see what God is going to do in that group. It's a really fun group of couples!

And the Bible study class I've been leading (Calm My Anxious Heart) started last week. I've been wanting to blog about it. We've met two times, and I feel like the Lord is just doing His thing...showing up, giving wisdom, creating community. I've really felt His presence in my preparation time as well as during the class, and I'm excited to see all of the healing God will bring about in so many women's hearts who are willing to journey with Him all the way to contentment and trust. Today's class was our first day of real discussion since this past week was the first week to have done reading and homework, and already there was one lady who experienced a HUGE breakthrough with trusting the Lord this week. As it always does, it involved brokenness, but once she was in that place of really and fully giving up her plans or "control" and just obeying God despite how she felt about her circumstance, peace overwhelmed her. It took just a couple of days of surrendering, and she began to FEEL it. She is experiencing amazing calm and contentment over something she has struggled with for SO long. I had an experience like that this past week too....when intense anxiousness hit, the Lord brought me to a place of surrender....again (sometimes it's necessary for me to make it a repeat practice), and within a day, I felt completely at ease, resting in God's sovereignty and ok with it if He chose to do things differently than what I want. It's a good place to be. Restful. Peaceful. I'm so encouraged that God is doing something big in our class.

So we talked about how amazing it is how we can wrestle over something for so long, holding on to something we know God wants us to release to Him, and once we actually really are broken enough to surrender to Him and obey, His peace comes so quickly!!! He loves to give that peace! But even though that's true, we still tend to resist brokenness. So my favorite part of our class discussion today was about this. We talked about why it is that we resist getting to that place of brokenness/surrender. What are the real heart issues involved? Heart issues are the only thing really worth addressing, since the heart is what God looks at and is where true transformation takes place. Some of the possible heart issues shared were pride, humility, wanting to play "victim"/enjoying our "pity parties", selfishness, wrong focus - just thinking that this life is about me and my happiness, envy, wanting control. It was so neat because I know the Holy Spirit led us into that discussion. I hadn't planned it at all. I love it when He does that! He knew that I needed to dig deeper into the root causes of my refusal to trust Him completely, and I found some surprising things. But He's working on me in those areas, and I want to cooperate. I know that God is teaching me so much and challenging me during this Bible study, and I'm loving it. Even though it is hard. Really hard at times. The whole notion of surrender completely goes against our nature, but it is the crux of the call to follow Christ, and I know God cares so much about me getting to the place of surrender and living there. He cares enough to say a lot about it and gently guide me there. I'm just glad there are others journeying through it too! What a gift.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

My Chair Needs Help

That consignment sale has started selling furniture and home decor too. I went back for this parsons chair I saw:

However, neither the style nor color matches anything in my home, and I needed it for my yet-to-be-furnished "formal" living room, so I bought this brown slipcover to match the blue and brown color scheme:

BUT....I'm having issues because I don't know how in the heck I'm supposed to get the wrinkles out of it!! It says cool iron only, but it's been folded in a package for who knows how long, and those wrinkles are not giving up easily. I tried ironing the reverse side, but it was to no avail. Does anyone have any wisdom to share on how to get this velvet slipcover ironed and the pleats to actually look like nice, tailored pleats that resemble the picture on the package??? HELP please!!! I know some of you out there actually know something about this stuff. Please help out poor clueless me.

Elijah and the Apples

It's really fun now that Jonah gets to go to a real Sunday school class at the church since being potty-trained. They do crafts and Bible stories and verses and all that! I knew the lesson today was on Elijah, so I was asking him after I picked him up what he had learned about Elijah. He said, "Elijah and the apples." I asked him several more times, and all the details I could really get from him had to do with apples. I kept thinking, "Hmm....I don't think there's anything about apples in the story of Elijah, but it has been a while since I read about him...." I was trying to think of some detail about Elijah that would clue me in to the apples, but I was coming up with nothing. So I mentioned to his teacher later that when talking about the Bible story about Elijah, Jonah was saying a lot about apples. She informed me that they went into another room for story time, and that room had a bulletin board that had apples in it. She noticed that the whole time they were teaching the story, Jonah was staring at that board and really focusing on that instead of the story. son had just mixed up his daydreaming with the teaching and associated the apples on that board with what they were saying. Great. We're going to have some really mixed up ideas of what God's Word says!

Today was the first day of our Shepherding a Child's Heart class at church, and I'm going to LOVE it! Today was all about asking the "why" questions about our children's behavior to get at the heart issues involved. I really want to make it a practice to constantly be thinking about the heart issue involved in whatever Jonah does and make sure to address that. I pray that God gives me that perspective all throughout the day, every day. We also talked about how hard that is to do if we as parents don't do that for ourselves and get at the root heart problems in our lives. We have to make it a practice, as adults, to deal with the things in our hearts that stand in the way of our fellowship with God, or we'll never lead our children there. What a good reminder to live in grace, or else I won't be imparting it. There was more, but I'm needing to make this a short post and get Jonah down for a nap. But I'm sure I'll be sharing more about this as the class continues!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Missin' Cousins

We had such a great time with my brother and his family here, as always. Nathan seems so grown up to me, even since he was here in July, and Maggie and Jonah have really started to play well together. They're only five months apart, but it's only been since about four months ago that they really even paid much attention to the other one! Now they're buds. We celebrated Joel's 32nd birthday, went to a spray park with the kids, my parents took them to a circus, we went swimming at the pool, and just hung out tons over at Gigi's and Papa T's house. Blake captured Jonah's heart by reading him lots of books. Apparently, that's all it takes to be his favorite....nothing like feeding him, providing for him, etc. - Just read to him! Anyway, it was a big weekend, and we are going to miss those guys until we see them again at Christmas.

Last night was the big consignment sale, and it did not disappoint. At first, I was thinking it wasn't as great this time, as I couldn't find several items on my list of things I was hoping to find. But a big objective was 2T fall and winter clothes, and it didn't seem like much, but then I went through all my stuff and realized how much I got for Jonah - A LOT - and how little I paid. The average amount I paid for an item for him was 2 DOLLARS!!!! It was amazing. And it's really a fun night, for social reasons too. Ame and I went to Starbucks after our shopping, and we had a great time talking. I'm so blessed that God is really providing sweet girlfriends here....friendships that are really fun but also have lots of depth. Ame and I came up with a big plan to get together once a month to do meal-planning, grocery lists, share recipes, and find good deals on groceries....we are both needing some new energy in this area of domestication, and the accountability to be wise in these things will be a really great thing! We're also going to do some meal-swapping too. This should be good.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Just one quick thing...

Oh my goodness. Go here to read this article on John Piper's website. It's very timely for me, as my friend Laura and I were just tonight discussing the heart issues involved in anxiety/fear struggles. Then I happened upon this just now, and I think the point he makes is so true. Mainly because it's Scripture. =)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I LOVE when God asks me to share my air conditioning!

Ok, so it's only happened for the first time this week, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. My friend Christa's air conditioning went out at their house, and since the air conditioner fixer people seem to have been inept at getting it fixed, she's spent the last two afternoons at our house with her three kids while they escape the heat. She says she feels bad, which is just so silly, because it's been such a JOY for me to have someone to just hang out with, let the kids be crazy and wild while we do our best to ignore them, and talk to each other as much as the munchkins will let us. Anyone who knows me well at all knows that I would love more than anything to hang out and talk to friends all day. I'd do it every day, if I could! Relationships are important to me. I feel that they are especially important during this season of young motherhood. I'm sure it's true for every season, but since that's where I am now, I can really appreciate the gifts that God gives in friendships with other women. It seems that God is blessing me here by bringing some great girls into my life, and I want so much to cultivate those friendships to a deeper level.

I have really enjoyed getting to know Christa and her family, and I am thankful that God is bringing more opportunities to get to know her better. I first met them soon after we moved here, and I recognized that this couple had such depth to their walks with God, and I was so impressed by their passion for Him. Truly their lives showcase to me God's grace in a big way, and it has been a huge encouragement. I feel like there is a lot I can learn from her. And she is just going to have to be my friend now, whether she likes it or not! Yesterday afternoon, I was holding her three-month old baby boy, and Jonah walked up and put something in my hand and asked, "What's this?" It was a little dark ball of something, and I told him I thought it was an old fruit snack that he must have found on the floor. Upon closer examination, I recognized an odor that would quickly indicate that it was not a fruit snack. Oh yes, it was a little ball of poop. Christa immediately grabbed the baby and I jumped up to dispose of it in the toilet, check Jonah's pants to see what he had done in there, wash my hands a bazillion times, and pray repeatedly and fervently that my son had not put it up to his mouth. We soon found another small ball of poop on the living room floor. I realized quickly that it was not a product of any of Jonah's activity, since he is not yet skilled in pulling his underwear and shorts down and up and there was no way he could dispose of one small poop ball without leaving evidence in his Spiderman undies. It looked suspiciously similar to Christa's daughter Rebecca's earlier diaper inhabitants when she had her last diaper change, so we eventually surmised that the "mystery poop" as we referred to it, must have escaped when Rebecca's dirty diaper was taken out to the trash. Don't know how that happens. Don't really want to know. But Christa, if you are reading this, now you know: you're stuck with me. I'm making you be my friend. And you can't say anything about it, because I held your daughter's poop IN. MY. HAND. It's a done deal. You owe me. =)

I've got to record video of Jonah soon, so he can perform for you a little bit. I'll need the technical support of my very computer-savvy husband for that though, and he's very involved this evening in the first college football game of the season. So I'll try to get right on that as soon as possible. Jonah is just getting funnier by the day. I asked him at lunch today if he thought it was going to rain. He looked out the windows up at the sky for a long time and then replied, " I don't see the thunder......probably not." Just adorable. And you wouldn't believe this kid's imagination. Every mealtime, he tells us that there are elephants under the table. Every time. He is always pretending something. It's pretty funny. It might be the first trait of his that resembles any part of his mother!!! I had quite the imagination as a child and some might say I'm still a little dramatic. Whatever. It's great that Jonah is that way, because it really allows him to play with one or two toys (which usually involves his farm animals or his zoo animals) all week and not get bored because his toys are "doing" so many different things every time. I'm loving it. Oh yeah, and one other funny thing he said this week....He slipped and fell in the kitchen, and I asked him if he was going to be ok. He said, "yes, I'm ok......I'm very happy," and he got up and kept going wherever he was headed. Oh, Jonah, you make your mama very happy.