Thursday, May 31, 2007

Heart Work

Ok, so the Lord has really been showing me a lot of stuff this week about myself. Hard stuff. Yucky stuff. But I am glad He's opening my eyes to some things. One of them is the area of needing to tame my tongue. There's someone in my life that I've always known and have always recognized that person's tendency to be very critical of others, and I didn't want to be that way. Although this isn't the first time God has brought up this issue with me, I am realizing anew my own tendencies to have a critical nature, and I hate it. He's brought conviction to my heart concerning this issue, but He's also given Truth to help combat sin. These are a few that I am clinging to this week, praying for God to make a reality in my life:

Proverbs 13:3 - He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

I want to be more conscious and careful of the words that come out of my mouth, being intentional in refusing words that are of a negative, critical, or condescending tone. Or just idle. My words should always have a purpose whose source is God, or they shouldn't come out of my mouth.

Colossians 4:6 - Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

Key word: always. Not just when people aren't bugging me. =) I've realized that when encountering negative, complaining people, I tend to respond by complaining about their complaining! Crazy. Sometimes it's just in my head. Other times, it is in words. Either way, it's not from the Lord. It makes no sense why I do that! I need desperately to learn to respond to complainers with positivity and grace. (Side note: a book that I plan to read soon is Living With Eeyore, How to Positively Love the Negative People In Your Life. I'll let you know how that one is.)

Ephesians 4:29 - Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

How often I neglect the latter part of that verse, which commands us to only say what will edify others and help meet their needs. What need do we all have? We all need Christ. Thus, my words should only point others to Him. What would happen if every word out of my mouth was focused on building others up in Christ? Can you imagine the kind of ministry we'd each have if we really lived with an intentional purpose of using our words to help others know more of intimacy with God and more of His personal, healing touch? Wow. I am disgusted by living purposelessly in so many areas of life, but it's so easy to think that my tongue belongs to me and I can use my words however I'd like. Not the case. God has a purpose for them. He has given them amazing power to play a role in others' spiritual progress. What a gift and privilege to get to participate with Him in something like that. I just need to train myself to stay focused on the purpose of my speech.

Philippians 2:14-15 - Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.

Again, another way our speech plays a role in something big that God wants to do. He wants to use us in a compelling way with unbelievers and make us stand out to them, shining like stars in the universe. This verse has everything to do with God's desire to make us look different, for a reason. Not because of what rules we follow but absolutely because of our attitudes. If anything will capture their notice or help them to know more of Him because of how we live, it's our joy. Words are one of the biggest tools we have at our disposal to communicate our joy. Complaining, arguing, and as one translation puts it - "grumbling" will rob us of the ability to demonstrate that joy, rendering us ineffective in God's plan to make us "shine" in such a way that He gets more glory and more people's love. I must keep careful watch over my words to guard against a complaining spirit. For me, it's so addictive. Once I let myself complain about one thing, it's so hard not to complain about a whole lot! I must stop it at the very first sign of complaining. Lord, help me.

Proverbs 31:26 - She speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue.

This description of the famously virtuous "Proverbs 31 woman" has really caught my attention this week in a different way than it ever has before. I am reminded that the way "she speaks" does not have an on/off switch. It is a characteristic of her that remains constant throughout daily life and is not just reserved for certain people whose spiritual gift is teaching or women who are teaching a Bible study or speaking up in one. It is for all of us, all of the time. As one who happens to have been given opportunities and passion for teaching God's Word to other women, this personally speaks to me concerning my consistency with wisdom-speech. I really believe that I will only be as effective in leading or teaching a Bible study as I am with my everyday speech with friends, family, or anyone that God brings my way anytime. I pray to stay motivated by that truth.

Proverbs 16:23-24 - A wise man's heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction. Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.

I love the thought of words being sweet to the soul and to the bones, though I'm not sure if that means to the soul and bones of the word-giver or the word-receiver! I'll have to look that one up later. Perhaps it's both. But anyway, the first part of the verse has been a perfect reminder of the source of wise speech. It has everything to do with the heart. I know that's where words originate. So if I want to have a radical change in my word-habits, then I must embrace the very necessary heart activity that must be done first. And what does that look like? It means sitting at the feet of Jesus more often. It includes reflecting on the grace He's given me and cultivating a heart of gratitude for what He has done on my undeserving soul's behalf. If I stay in that place long enough, my words will be words of life. I so want them to be. If I am swimming in His grace for me, then it will be so natural to think about others through the lens of grace as well. I will not be critical or judgmental or merciless towards others, because I will be thinking about how amazing His grace is for both me and them. I want to be in that place.

I spent some time recently being very unfocused in time with the Lord. Studying His Word was not a priority, I lived in a cloud of emptiness and just plain blahness for a few weeks. Halfheartedness never works. And I stayed there too long. I am so thankful for His grace that begs me back and once again makes intimacy with Him such a fabulous thing. It's been so good to be back in the game this week, and I am overwhelmed by all of the things He's pouring into me, even the lessons that are hard to learn like this one. So, this is the journey I'm on right now, aiming to stay walking in grace with Him so that it will be reflected in guarded, purposeful, edifying, life-giving speech. I welcome accountability.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Back in Tejas

We just returned tonight from our visit in Bartlesville, and it was so wonderful! It was really nice getting to stay an extra day, because we usually have to leave on Sunday. We really had a good time. Jonah loves "Homa" and is already ready to go back! Thankfully, we will see Candy, Jeanifer, Eric, and Ciera in 11 days, when they come for Jonah's birthday weekend. Jonah has such a sweet little bond with them and plays non-stop with everyone from the second we get there until we have to practically drag him out the door to go home. Speaking of hard good-byes, I got tears in my eyes watching Jonah say good-bye to Uncle Eric when he had to leave. Jonah kept hugging Eric, and when Eric picked him up one last time to say the official good-bye, Jonah just laid his head on Eric's shoulder for a few seconds because he was sad. It broke my heart. Eric and Jen and Nanny are three of his favorite playmates! Below is a picture of Jonah and Eric making "tall wagons." Heehee. This is what they did for the majority of their playtime the last four days:

On Friday night we went to Kiddie Park, which for those who don't know, is this amazing old-school kids amusement park that opens on the weekends in the summer in Bville and costs 25 cents a ride. Seriously, they don't make them like this anymore. Concessions are like 50 cents. Incredible. Just simple fun rides that are still the same as when Joel would go as a little boy. Jonah was pretty proud of himself for riding all of the stuff he did, although he wasn't crazy about the roller coaster. And the train ride had been built up way too much I suppose, he was bored on that one. But he loved everything else! He had no time for socializing though. He would get off one ride and march over to the next one. There was no time to mess around or talk to his family. He was serious about his rides!

Yesterday afternoon was great....Amber, the oldest niece on Joel's side, graduated from high school this week, so the entire family got together for a cookout at Candy's to celebrate. Well, cookout isn't exactly right. The plans for outdoor activities got canceled due to rain. But we had so much fun anyway. All of Joel's siblings and nieces were there. Everyone hadn't all been together in a long time. For the past year at least, we've been missing one person every time one of these events comes around. So that was fun. It's amazing how fast all of the girls are growing up! See Jonah with his beautiful older girl cousins:

And, congratulations, Amber:

Thursday night, when we got to Oklahoma, everyone went to the graduation except for me and Jonah, since it would be way too late for him to stay up. So my friend Courtney came over for a little while with her two punkins. Her son Jackson was Jonah's first little friend....they were born two weeks apart, and they played together lots during their first 14 months of life (and in the womb, they just don't know it). They just seemed to pick up right where they left off, like they remembered each other as long lost friends! They were being really silly together. Jonah mentioned Jackson at dinner tonight. It was cute seeing them together again. And Courtney's baby Creighton is an angel. Jonah called her "crake-un" and wanted to shower her with kisses. I'm thankful that Courtney stopped by for a visit even though we didn't have much time this weekend to hang out. Watching her carry her almost-two year old on one hip while carrying the baby in the car seat carrier on the other side convinced me that she gets the Rock Star Mom Award! The real Tony Almeda and Jack Bauer:

Other than all of that, we went to church at Grace, and it was good seeing friends there. This morning I met Cindy MacIlvaine, my friend/pastor's wife from there, for coffee and had the best time chatting with her. She is such an amazing woman, and just spending an hour with her today reminded me of one of the sweetest blessings God has given me: the time I spent with the ladies on the Women's Ministry Leadership team at Grace in Bartlesville....those women are jewels. I consider that year with them such a precious experience.

One funny story....the other night, we were eating dinner and about halfway through, Joel reached over to cut up some more of the ribs on Jonah's plate. Jonah said, "More pray" and bowed his head. We all laughed. And then we realized he meant it, so we all stopped eating, bowed our heads and thanked God for the remaining pieces of meat that Jonah was eating. This boy is big on mealtime prayers, I guess! So sweet.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

Last night, my aunt Joy and uncle Joe took me and Jonah to the Rangers game, and it was a blast. Jonah LOVED it! He did so well. Which is more than I can say for the Rangers so far this season. =( But we had such a good time. When we told Jonah to yell, "Go Rangers!", he said it and it came out, "Go raisins!" We laughed at him so much. He also tasted his first cotton candy, which he refers to as "hot pink" for some reason. He's so silly. We left during the bottom of the 7th, but not because of Jonah. He would have stayed there all night. I was so glad he liked it....I thought we'd be taking turns walking him around the stadium, but it never got to that. He understood that he needed to stay in his seat....well, actually in our row of seats. He was much more into the game than I expected, watching to see if the "mans" would hit the ball with their bat. Daddy would be proud. He made some really fun memories, and I loved sharing them with him and, as always, spending time with my wonderful aunt and uncle. We went back to Athens after the game and spent the night at their house. This outing only got planned yesterday morning, so it was a fun, spontaneous trip to make. Jonah was really wired when we left the ballpark. It was 9:30 when we left, and I thought he'd go right to sleep as soon as we got driving. Oh no, he was so wound up and excited, he didn't go to sleep until 10:30. Maybe it had something to do with the cotton candy! He would be really quiet for a long time and then start talking about stuff from the game. You'd hear him sleepily ramble on about the "ballgame." He especially liked the Dot Race, and he understood that he had the blue ticket, so when the blue dot won, he kept saying, "I won! I won!" Guess we've got a little competitive one on our hands!

Doing the wave:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Reupholstering Chairs

Well, I'm halfway finished with the chairs project. Joel helped me last night and we recovered three chairs. I'm so happy with them! You don't understand, the home improvement projects that I'm told are really simple to do are always disasters when I attempt them. (i.e. wall-texturing). But anyway, these are not perfect, but they are definitely not disastrous. I'm pretty excited. I totally forgot to take a picture of the chairs before we touched them, so I'm posting a picture of the ugly, old, dirty material that was on them previously, so you have an idea:

And here is the finished product:

I'm hoping it's ALL done soon! Jonah has been so sweet, he's gotten his play hammer and "worked" on the chairs with us the whole time.
In other news....I'm a brunette once more.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Doing Laundry With My Boy

Ok, I just can't resist telling you about Jonah helping me with the laundry this morning. It was so funny, I don't want to forget it. He said some hilarious things. I had a massive pile of clean clothes that I needed to fold. I tried to get him interested in something else. It didn't work. He kept telling me, "I clean up, Mommy," as he pulled clothes out of the basket and handed them to me on the couch. He's started saying "Mommy" in or at the end of all of his sentences as if to say, "I'm talking to you. Don't ignore me. You need to respond, Mommy. I will keep saying the same thing until you acknowledge what I have said." Seriously. He follows through with that too. So, Jonah was very determined to help. And he did help, he put things where I told him to and followed directions really well. I cannot believe how long he stayed focused on the task. He did this with me until the very last item of clothing, and I'm telling you, there was a LOT of clothes to fold. He has been initiating the use of "thank you" more, just not really in context usually. For instance, he handed me an article of clothing and sweetly said, "Thank you, Mommy." He kept saying things like, "I like this," and "I like green shirt," as he pulled out one of his green shirts out of the basket. (You can tell he's spent a lot of time shopping with his mommy in his two years of life! He's picked up on a few of my "shopping" comments!) Then, he pulled out a pair of my underwear and said "panties!" which I'd never heard him say before. It sounded so funny, I started laughing. But then he said, "Mommy, I like panties." No kidding! "I like red panties, Mommy." I was rolling. It only got better when he referred to a pair of Joel's boxers as "Daddy's panties"! HEEEHEEEEHEEEHEEEHEEE! I love this kid. How did he end up so funny?!
More Jonah talking stories to come, I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Random Happenings From the Last Week and a Half

Well, I haven't written in a while, and a bunch of things kept happening that made me think I needed to blog, but I kept letting it build up. And now that I'm finally sitting down to do it, I can't remember most of them! So here are a few things that have been keeping us busy lately (from what I can recall)....

The rest of the visit we had with my brother and his family was so good. We had lots of fun with them and they are now safely back home. Jonah still is asking if Nathan and Maggie are there every time we go to Gigi's house! He really doesn't understand why they were here all the time for four days and now they're gone. We all really miss you guys! One of the photos I'm going to post is from when we all gathered around to watch the Kentucky Derby. Jonah is sitting with Blake, holding a stuffed horse and watching the "horsies" race. He loved it. Can't wait for their next visit!

Last Wednesday, my friend Kate and I went to Dallas, Arlington to be exact, during the day to hang out with our friends Holly and Kelli at Holly's house. Kelli's little girl was at mother's day out, so we didn't see her, so that left us all hanging out with five little boys, including Kelli's five week old Campbell. That was a lot of little boys! It was so much fun. Kate's oldest child, Brantley, and Jonah are really good buds now, so they played together so well. All of them did. It was so fun seeing my friend Holly's little Tyce. No, make that big Tyce. He's adorable. We all talked and laughed at all sorts of things. Kate and I decided it was one of the most fun days ever, and since the kids were so amazingly good traveling, we need to do it more often! I just love those good friend-days. Here is a picture of me and Holly. Next time I see her....little Haven should be here! Also, a picture of the boys, minus Campbell. Such sweeties.

In other news....I bought a dining room table! I got a great deal on an antique table and chairs that my mom's neighbor was selling in a garage sale. It needs some work.....repainting the top of the table and distressing it to match the rest of the table and chairs and reupholstering the seat cushions of the chairs. I wasn't expecting to buy furniture for my dining room (which is a formal dining/living combo that has just been used as a playroom since we moved in) for a looooong time, but since I made such a spontaneous purchase that I'm very happy about, I now have to remove all the toys from the playroom and disperse them to other well-hidden places. I wasn't ready for that. So I've been working on a lot of reorganizing lately....moving toys into cabinets in the family room, into the sunroom, into Jonah's closet, into the attic, and into the trash. LOVE getting rid of stuff. I used to be a hoarder, if you don't know. I've recovered. I may be leaning towards the opposite extreme. I really don't like having extra stuff around the house. Especially when my child really truly only plays with about three things. Who needs toys? There will be times I will really miss having a playroom. But not today. I'm pretty excited about my dining room furniture. When I get around to actually doing the work on it, which should be in the next week, I'll be sure to post some before and after pics.

Yesterday, my friend Ame and I took our boys (hers is a 10-month old angel) to Dallas and shopped our little hearts out. And our boys' hearts too. Man, they were troopers. We made a lot of progress in just a part of a day. We went to a couple of really great fabric stores that had TONS of choices and amazing prices. So, if anyone is ever needing a new fabric place to look, let me know, and I'll tell you how to get to these. My major shopping goal was to find fabric for my new dining chairs, and I found it right away! I was so excited. And very thankful that God does fabric-shopping too. (There's a lot of fun stuff on His resume, by the way.) I will definitely be going back there. We lunched at Le Madeleine, went to Shops at Willow Bend, the mega Marshalls, and Northpark. I hadn't been to northpark since all of the renovations had been complete. It was amazing. Although Jonah was great being carried all over the Metroplex and not getting a nap, I still will not do this to him very often! It was a little tiring. But we had so much fun. I really enjoyed getting to spend time with this new friend. We talked and talked and talked, and it was very enjoyable. And Jonah loves her baby. I really am glad to have been able to make two Dallas trips in the last week....breaths of fresh air! =)

We had several families over for a ice cream party on Saturday night. Other than rain forcing us indoors for what was supposed to be an outside party and that meaning that I had to actually clean ALL of my house before they came, it was a blast. Jonah LOVES parties. He gets really excited. He kept calling the ice cream "party cake"....he doesn't really understand that there's a difference between different types of sweets. He lumps all desserts into one cateogory: party cake. He thinks birthday parties are the best thing ever invented. He's only really been to one, and he wasn't there long enough to really know what it was about. But still, he's decided that we need to have "bertday" parties every day. Anytime we're with friends or going to see friends, he gets excited that we're going to a "bertday! yay!"It's rather amusing. As for his own upcoming birthday, I don't think he has a clue what to really expect. Except that he knows there will be cake. He's not going to know what hit him. I'm going to do a whole different post soon about what Jonah's been up to lately. You wouldn't believe how fast he's changing. He's a little MAN now. The last two months have brought huge changes. We're getting ready for a trip to Bartlesville next week. We'll be there Thursday the 24th through Memorial Day, so it will be a nice, long visit with family. Joel's oldest niece Amber is graduating high school, so we're coming in for that. Hope to see some of you friends in Bville too!

Jonah climbing (with help, of course) in our backyard Magnolia tree:

Friday, May 4, 2007

Love Those Luces!

We're having so much fun having Blake, Amy, Nathan, and Maggie visiting. They got here yesterday, and Jonah has enjoyed all of them immensely. Much to our surprise, he and Maggie have really taken a liking to each other this time! They are playing together so well. They're definitely buds now. Jonah still adores "Na-Na" too. Thought I'd go ahead and post some pics of our time with them yesterday, cause who knows, there may be lots more photos coming by the end of their trip! I love the pic of Jonah and Maggie digging around in the pantry. That's what they like to do. They love to go get a snack and then when Mom and Dad tell them they can't have it, they go straight to Gigi or Papa T to get what they want. They're smart though, it hasn't taken them long to learn to just skip over mom and dad and take their requests straight to the grandparents! And they've learned there's power in numbers. They work together on these little projects.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

By the way...

I do realize how nerdy I am for my last post, and I DON"T CARE. =)

My Mavericks

My husband knows that there are two other men in the world that I love. One is the anesthesiologist that gave me my epidural when I had Jonah. The second is Dirk Nowitzki, who gave a spectacular display of athletic genius to bring the Mavericks back in the last three minutes of the game against the Warriors last night. Love him.
Anyway, Mavericks won. I'm elated. Ready for game 6.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My Little Cowboy

This picture was taken yesterday when Jonah insisted on wearing his cowboy boots with his play clothes outfit. He did go out in public like this, by the way. I'm not sure I could have done it. But my mom took him to the store like that. Precious!

Jonah has been getting more helpful around the house. I'm noticing some task-oriented traits about him, like his dad. He loves to accomplish what you ask him to. His new "job" around the house is putting away the tupperware and the kids plates and cups, when I'm unloading the dishwasher. I copied my sister-in-law Amy with that one. But he's also starting to help me sort laundry and does a really good job at it! He remembers which bins I've told him that different things go in. Amazing. I know his enthusiasm for chores will not last long, so I'm enjoying it this week while he still thinks it's fun to do stuff like that. Wish I could keep him from finding out that we're not actually playing when we do those things.

Last night was so fun. I had a girls night out with a few girls from church. My friend Jenny finished writing a book for Pine Cove that she's been working on all year, so I'd told her we had to celebrate when she finished. So, she, Stephanie, and I (we're all in the same community group) met up with Meghan (a staff wife in Athens that we hung out with at our women's retreat a couple months ago and haven't seen since) and had dinner. It was amazing to just sit around the table for 3 hours talking, then we spent an hour and a half at Marble Slab. So yummy. The restaurant we went to is definitely one of my new favorites. It's called Julian's, and it's really really really good Asian food. Think Pei-Wei type food but a real sit-down place. If you're ever in Tyler, that's a great eating-out option that I highly recommend. Anyway, we laughed so much, and it was very refreshing. I'm really thankful for the new friends God is providing here. Speaking of new friends, another girl Ame and I are going to Dallas one day next week to go shopping.....YEA YEA YEA. I'm so excited.

Only two more days until my other two favorite little kids arrive. Blake and his family will be traveling tomorrow and will get to Tyler on Thursday morning. We are about to go crazy we are so looking forward to their visit!! Tomorrow Jonah and I are going back to Pump It Up (which we went to last week), a place that has big, inflatable jump houses and slides. We're meeting some friends there tomorrow. Jonah LOVES this place. We've been staying pretty busy lately. I realized we've had some kind of fun outing, playdate, or lunch with friends almost every day the last couple of weeks. I'm the kind of girl who likes to get out and do stuff like that, and it's good for us because Jonah loves it. Although maybe you're doing a little much when your child wakes up saying, "bye bye?" every morning. He's always ready to GO! I've also been trying to work on his birthday party invitations this week, and I just get so sad doing it because I realize how big Jonah really is and how fast the last two years have gone. Every mommy says that, I know. But I can't overemphasize its emotional impact. Did I mention that Jonah drank juice out of a regular (non-sippy) cup all by himself this week? He didn't spill. I had tears down my face. He's getting more and more grown-up and independent all of the time. But also, he's getting more and more affectionate, so I'm loving that!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AUNT AMY!!!!!! Hope it's a great one!