Monday, July 30, 2007

Cousins, Cousins, and More Cousins - And other random stuff

We had a wonderful time with Nathan last week, and we already miss him tons. Last Wednesday, I took both boys to the Discovery Science Place, our local kids (hands-on) museum and we had a blast. I had never taken Jonah there before, and now I can't wait to do it again! They had all sorts of fun. I had all these funny stories to tell you, but they've all seemed to slip my mind at the moment. So here are some fun pics:

My heroes:

I so thoroughly enjoyed spending time with these two. They were fun, funny, and all over the place. Seriously, it was crazy trying to keep up with them, but thankfully, Nathan was really helpful, never running off without asking permission to go to a new station. Amy and Blake, you're great parents! He was so well-behaved that I eventually realized that I could stop panicking the whole time we were there, trying to keep both of them in my eyesight at all times! I still had to be on my toes, but the whole outing was so nice and pleasant with no disasters whatsoever. My only experience with more than one child at a museum was during my nannying days when I took four of the wildest children on the planet to a museum, and I still to this day don't know how I made it back to their house with all four of them. Alive. It was INSANE. So, this one was a piece of cake. =) I had a blast with those two precious boys. Jonah looks up to his big cousin Nathan so much and thinks he's just as big. The next day, we were able to play with some friends at Jumpin Jacks, one of those places that has big inflatable bounce house/slide things. Mom was there and would sometimes watch Jonah so that I could race Nathan through the obstacle course ones. It made me excited for the day when Jonah is big enough I can actually play hard like that with him and compete with one another. Not that I'm wishing the time away! But man, Nathan is a very fast runner! It turned into one really fun workout. And I never think workouts are fun!

By the way, as Jonah talks more and more and sounds like an actual person using normal sentences, I've started to think that he's going to be one of those kids who can be really obnoxious but charming enough to get away with it! We'll have to be on guard about that. He will refuse to obey something I ask him to do, but he does it in the SWEETEST voice with the cutest expression ever. Don't get me wrong....his rebellion isn't always sweet. There are definitely some tantrums around here. But some of them are just too funny. And he's getting better at knowing how to do that. For instance, I was giving him dinner the other night and saying he could have what he was being served if he wanted anything to eat, and he very sweetly said..."Hmm...probably not." Probably not?!! It was so funny, I could have fallen to the floor. Didn't know he knew what "probably" meant. So he likes to use that phrase to tell me "no" now, and it sounds less ugly than an outright "No!" But it is still disobedience. So I'm going to have to work on getting my act together when he says stuff like that, not crack a smile or let him see me laugh, and react the same way I would when he disobeys more openly.

Speaking of consistency....which happens to be the theme of this season in parenting we're in.....there is one discipline strategy that we've used that has finally seemed to pay off the last couple of days. When we're at home and Jonah gets really whiny or is fighting me over something, I tell him very plainly that if he's going to act like that and whine and cry, he may do so in his room, but he's not allowed to do that in my face. He has to stay there and take a moment to get his attitude right and then he may come back and play or be in my presence or whatever. (Note: this may not be the best for every kid, but it's good for Jonah because he HATES having to be separated from us. He would much rather play, by himself even, if he knows I'm nearby and he can show me stuff or tell me things from time to time. So having him stay in his room for a few minutes really bothers him.) Well, we've been doing this for several weeks, and the first 8 to 10 times, you would have thought a war broke out in our home! He would scream and cry so hard and then set his foot right over the line at the doorway as if to say, "I'm in here, but my toes are not. You don't win, Mommy." And he'd stay right there in his room, so I wouldn't usually have to close the door. But it was not pretty. Having to stay in his room would make him more mad than anything else ever has. But, the point of this paragraph is...that consistency does pay off!!! Yesterday, he was being exceptionally whiny and I told him that he could whine in his room by himself until he was ready to be sweet, and he walked right in there. I didn't even have to take him. I heard him yell out, "I'm in my room" to let me know when he got there. And then he walked back into the room where I was and said, "I good boy now." WOW. He did the same today. Success! This may sound small to some, but it was a very big victory in our house! I think the key is staying calm, not getting angry, and consistently responding in the same way every time. At some point, it clicks with them. He actually understood the concept of having to keep his bad attitude away from the rest of the family. He's not forbidden to cry or be sad about something, but when he's doing it in defiance, he must do it elsewhere. YAY! I'm sure he'll test me on this more, but at least we have a few victories under our belt.

As for our weekend....Shelly and I hit some garage sales early Friday morning, but we had zero luck on finding any treasures. But it was fun to have someone to hang out with and make fun of people's ugly junk with! =) My sweet husband gave me the day off (from home) on Saturday so that I could spend most of the day working on a writing project. It was very productive time, and I'm so thankful that he offered. Yesterday, we made a day trip to Lufkin for my cousin Andy's son's birthday. Hunter, who has the sweetest heart of any seven year-old boy I know, had a swimming/Transformers party, and it was very exciting for Jonah. They have a barn with four horses, and they also have tractors out on their if you know Jonah, you know he was in heaven! Construction things and farm animals are at the top of his list of things he loves. Joel played hard in the pool - the only adult who actually got in - so all he did was throw kids in the air the whole time. He was tired last night! As I'm sure he would tell you, "It's hard being the cool one that all the kids want to play with." My husband was definitely the most popular/coolest kid there yesterday. It was obvious to everyone. Should I be proud of that? =)

Here is Jonah with his Lufkin cousins. Bless their hearts, about 20 people were taking their picture all at once, so none of them knew where to look!

Had to post a picture of sweet Reese in her crocs:

(Her mom said she wakes up in the morning and right away insists on having shoes on! That a girl!)

It's always fun hanging out with our family in Lufkin. This week, we are resting up and enjoying a slower pace. Mom and I will be working on plans for a coffee we're hosting in August for our Bible study teachers. I'll be making invitations the next couple of days and getting those details together. It has been fun organizing the women's Bible studies at church - I'm so glad the Lord brought this opportunity my way. Just in case you're a local gal reading this, check out the website for our fall offerings. There are lots of classes, but they do fill up remarkably quickly at this church. Registration is on!

As if this post isn't long enough, I'll leave you with one more Jonah story: The other day we were leaving the grocery store, and there were two elderly ladies waiting at the front of the store, sitting in their motorized carts, side by side. Jonah saw them and decided that they must have been about to race so he immediately proceeded to shout (loudly), "Ready, set, GO!" I nearly died.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

5 Things I Dig About Jesus!

Ok, I've been tagged. My very first tag. Oh wow. I feel like a real live blogger now. Thanks, Lori!

Ok, here are the rules:

1. those tagged will share 5 things they dig about Jesus…

2. those tagged will tag 5 other bloggers…

3. those tagged will post a comment here with their name and a link to their “dig” Jesus list…

5 Things I Dig About Jesus:

1.) He is full of grace and mercy. His heart is to redeem what would otherwise be screw-up hearts and lives. He always offers us less punishment than what we deserve. And He'll always be sweet to a broken, repentant heart. His grace steps in and allows us to have fellowship with Him. What a sweet gift. Not just for eternity, but for the right-now experience of Him. Because of this part of His character, we get to change and grow. We can move on from mistakes and failures and lukewarm-living because He pours the grace on us. I never really fell in love with Him until I understood and embraced my own personal "grace-story." One of the things that I love about Him the very most is that His heart is to give us all individual grace-stories.

2.) He heals. Needy people always were flocking to Him, everywhere He went. They recognized His power to heal, and many of them could not stand to be away from Him. He always responded to their faith, and He still loves to bring healing to our souls.

3.) His kindness. Jesus is so sweet, isn't He? Even when He allows brokenness and pain in our lives for some purpose of teaching, growing us, or helping us to let go of something, tenderness always accompanies it. I believe it's His kindness that really sets Him above all other (little-g) gods and what leads us into repentance. I'm glad I finally know this part of His character. Sadly, for a long time, I lived without fully understanding His love for me on a personal level. But He loves to give sweet, personalized messages of love to us!

4.) He knows what it's like to hurt. He experienced great pain on the earth, and the way that blesses me is that it allows for some intimacy with Him that is possible only because of the suffering. Scripture speaks of us being able to share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). I know personally that it is a good fellowship with the Lord. A deep fellowship. One that marks you for life. When I experienced a miscarriage earlier this year, there was a moment when nothing else could comfort me in my aloneness than knowing that Christ Himself knew what it was like to suffer....not only to have sorrow over pain but also to have sorrow over having to endure it alone. See His Garden of Gethsemane experience: Mark 14:32-42. That comforted me like crazy.

5.) He is not safe. I've already written on this one enough (See posts from July 20th and March 4th.) Though dangerous, this thrills me to no end because it means that we were created for something big. Something beyond ourselves and our own happiness. Something that means something and will help draw the world to Him. No need for living a boring, mundane life....that's not what Christ's life is about!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Family Lunch

Today, my aunt and uncle Joy and Joe, their daughter Lacey, and her boyfriend Ben came to Tyler and went to church with us. It was fun having them there. Then they all came back to our house for lunch, along with my parents and Nathan. We had a rather fabulous time, I must say. A serious game of whiffle ball (sp?) ensued following lunch, and let's just say I feel sorry for the people who weren't on mine, Dad's, and Joe's team. It was a blowout. Heehee. Jonah just ran around the backyard trying to get the ball and hit things with a bat. I don't know how we made it through a game without him having a major injury because he sure wasn't paying any attention to what was actually happening in the game. The game began, at Nathan's insistence, before I had time to change out of my church/lunch clothes, so yes....this mama played baseball in a skirt! I didn't do any sliding though. =) Wish I had a picture of that.

Me and my sweet aunt and cousin (had to take a picture since we were all color-coordinated) -

The one below is of 2 very sweaty boys having some good ol' cousin fun. I couldn't get them to stand still for one picture. I'd ask them to hug, and instead they'd just tackle each other every time. So I snapped this one while they were on their way to the floor on a tackle/fall.
BOYS. sigh.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Garage Sale Treasure

Just so you know....I've turned into one of those people. For the last several weeks, I've not been able to stop myself from going to garage sales on Friday and Saturday mornings. I LOVE it. Here's a picture of last week's fun find/re-do. At first the tray looked like this:

And I'm sorry if you own a poinsettia tray. I, however, did not want a poinsettia tray. So here is what I did with it:

I think it may end up on my coffee table, I'm not sure yet. But, I love it. And go ahead and ask me how much it cost. 50 cents! Yeah, that's right.

My nephew Nathan is in Tyler for a week, and he's staying over at my parents'. It's been really fun seeing him. I am going to be one sad aunt in September when Nathan turns FIVE years old. Five is old. I'm sad. Anyway, Jonah ADORES his big cousin, and they have played so hard. We will be having Nathan over and going over to my parents' a lot in the next week, spending as much time with him as possible. Last night, my parents kept both boys, and I got in a crazy productive mood. I decided to repaint my kitchen. I've been planning to do it ever since I first painted it and it came out a horribly wrong yellow color. I didn't actually get home with the paint until almost 10:00 and spent the next several hours working on this transformation. Ok, I really doubt you'll be able to tell any difference in this picture. You may not even be able to tell a difference in person! But trust me, there is a difference! Subtle. But it's there. Here's the before, if you recall:

And FINALLY.....not so bright. It's a darker gold color:

So that's what I've been up to so far this weekend. Hope everyone is enjoying theirs!

Friday, July 20, 2007


Doesn't it seem that when God is trying to get a point across to you, he will use various kinds of sources to deliver that message, often at the same time? That has been my experience this week. What He's trying to teach me is coming to me from everywhere! Literally, every time I open the Word, it has to do with this topic. This week, my pastor's sermon, the books I've been reading, blogs I come across, others' stories and just experiences of life have all challenged me with the same exact message. And it is this: Am I just living the "safe" Christian life, or am I willing to live and give ALL for Jesus? He's kind of an all-or-nothing God. Don't mistake what I mean....He is patient with us as we find our way. But we must admit that He does ask a lot from us. And I'm realizing that more this week. I'm reminded of Scripture in Revelation 3:15-16 that says how much God is disgusted by lukewarmness, or middle-of-the-road "Christian" living. Ouch. That one convicts me big-time. I have to admit that I like it safe and comfortable. I think most of us do. We want to protect ourselves from pain, danger, and embarrassment. I am always on the lookout for making my life easier. But easier does not equal better. I just feel challenged with this like I never have been before. I mean, I knew God said to live this passionate, dangerous life that He has for us and to participate in how He's called me to in whatever huge thing He wants to do in my generation/lifetime. But how easy is it to think that this experience on earth is about me and my happiness rather than what God wants to accomplish? I will be the first to admit that it is really hard for me not to get off-focus in that regard. My last post told you about a girl whose three-month old baby girl died last weekend. It really affected me not only on an emotional level but on a deeply spiritual one too. I felt completely broken the day I heard that news, crying out to God about how hard it is that He asks us to be willing to give up our most valuable "possessions"....our precious children being the hardest thing I can imagine having to give up. God does not always take away the things that bring us so much enjoyment in life, but He does ask us to be willing. Don't think I type those words very easily or happily. I realize how hard that is. I told God I thought it was pretty crazy. Don't worry, it was actually from a more humble position than it sounds. =) He knows. I did wrestle a little bit that day, trying to understand why God would ask us to make hard choices like that, but I did so with a heart that said, "Lord, you are God and you are good, these things I know. Even if you do not make it easy or give me any answers, I still trust you." And joy did come in the morning. Peace came too. I was still sad for that particular woman's suffering, as well as suffering on earth in general. But you just get to a point where it hits you....either He's worthy of that kind of living, or He's not. I MUST MAKE A CHOICE. If I believe He is exactly who He says He is in His Word, then He's perfectly right in asking me to give up the things in life that are hard (or nearly impossible) to give up, as He does in Matthew 10:37-39. If I truly BELIEVE Him, then I'll know that the life He has to offer is better than the life I've been asked to let go of (verse 39). I've just been freshly challenged, "Do you believe that, Hannah?" God is saying, "Do you believe ME?" I have to trust that He is good, regardless of how hard life can be or the sacrifices He asks us to make. He's also pressing on my heart that trust is His favorite kind of worship. It's a worship that is real, not just made of empty words. And it's a matter of the heart, which is where He happens to be looking (1 Samuel 16:7).

In the book I'm reading that I mentioned in my previous post, the author, Mike Erre, talks about how far we've gone from living as God intended the church to. He says we've watered down what Jesus is really about....and have missed who He is. In the first chapter, he talks about the political climate in Jerusalem/Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth and how if we really understood those things, we would better understand what a revolution Jesus' birth really was. He detailed the lives of Caesar and Herod, rulers at the time of Jesus' birth, and how they impacted their world. He writes, "The Christmas story forces us to choose between these two kingdoms. Do we bow before the Caesars of our time, or dare we embrace the kingdom of Jesus?" There's more:

"The white-washed, watered-down version of the Christmas story many of us celebrate leads us inevitably to the tame and safe gift shop Jesus. But if we understand his birth as revolution, then we may glimpse the revolution that his life will bring. Jesus has been, and always will be, a threat to the establish order of things. This should no longer surprise us today. Two thousand years of church history should suggest that the movement of Jesus is most dangerous when it is opposed...Our world doesn't want to be reminded of Christ - because he forces us to choose. In our just-do-it, have-it-all kind of world, the revolution of Jesus forces us to choose: Who is King? Who is Lord? What empire do you serve? What god do you bow down to?...Two kingdoms war on this earth. One is led by Herods and Caesars; the others by Jesus Christ." And finally:

"For Paul, being at the center of the will of God was dangerous. And so it is for hundreds of millions of followers of Jesus today. Only in the West has the heretical notion that God will protect us from all harm really taken root...His revolution demands our complete surrender to him, and our obedience doesn't guarantee a problem-free life. In fact, it may lead to just the opposite. We must be very clear about this, for Jesus asked his followers again and again to count the cost of following him. If we did the same thing, invited people to consider what it really means to follow Jesus, then perhaps our churches would have fewer consumers and more disciples."

Wow. Maybe it's time for the church to seek out the REAL Jesus, not just rely on what we've been sold told through the years....and maybe make some apologies for it to the unbelievers in the world.

I promise the next post won't be so heavy. Or preachy. Well, maybe I shouldn't make promises like that, since I have no idea what tomorrow will bring! But there ARE more light-hearted posts to come! I do promise that.

Monday, July 16, 2007

So Sad

Kelli just called, and her cousin's three-month old baby didn't wake up Friday morning. I am so filled with sadness for her and feel such an urgency to pray for this couple who is experiencing such heartbreak. Please pray for this family during this time of shocking grief. I cannot imagine what they are going through. But as a mother, you cannot be unaffected by hearing this kind of news. Such a painful reminder of our lack of control. Please join me in praying peace, comfort, grace, and love on this family this week and in the difficult days to come. May it come in abundance. They live in the Tulsa area, and they are believers and have a great church family that will be able to love on them. But still, I'm sure it's incredibly lonely. I don't usually post prayer requests like this on my blog, but thank you for letting me share what's heavy on my heart right now, and I know my sweet friend would be extremely grateful for your prayers on her cousin's behalf.

One Window Down, Five More to Go!

See the beautiful window shade my mother-in-law made for the window in our bathroom. I think she did a great job! It's one of those roll-up shades that you tie, but it's just left down in this picture. These kinds of shades are good options if you need window coverings but are working on a small budget, because it doesn't take much material at all. If Candy's up for it, I'll have her do more!! =) I still have five more windows I need to do window treatments for. I got new curtains for the formal living/dining room too. Next up: the kitchen windows. As soon as I pick out material and save up the money to buy it!

We've been busy having friends dear friend Meg came to stay a couple of days with us last week, which was soooo fun. I love her and am so thrilled for the lovely things God is doing in and through her life right now! She's Jonah's "Auntie Meg" - but Jonah calls her, "T Meg." It is cute, and it has stuck with all of us! Also on Saturday, a friend since junior high that was my college roommate, Amber, was in town, and we were able to meet up and hang out for a little bit. That was fun catching up, and it's just going to have to be something we make time for ever so often, because I've missed that girl a lot! My parents are back from their ten day vacation - we've really missed them around here - so we're looking forward to some good Gigi and Papa T time this week, and my good friend Kelli is coming to visit for a day later in the week, and I'm SO thrilled about it! I need to hug on her baby some more....I haven't had near enough chances to squeeze his sweet chubby thighs!! Spending time with Kelli is always a huge blessing and will be so fun, and it's what I'm most giddy about this week.

I'm reading a good book right now called The Jesus of Suburbia by Mike Erre. Its subtitle is "Have we tamed the Son of God to fit our lifestyle?" I cautiously read certain authors associated with the "emergent church," but I must say I LOVE this book and have found it so far to be soundly biblical and strongly convicting. I've only read a few chapters so far, but it's challenging, and I'm sure I'll be posting some quotes soon and telling you more about it. I think its teachings/principles have the potential - if I let it - to be completely life-changing...and if a bunch of us all cooperated with God on this stuff, have a profound impact on our generation. More to come on that.

Friday, July 13, 2007

I'm Back!

Oh, It's good to be back in Blogland. I've missed it. Really, I have. I have always found journaling to be very enjoyable and cathartic, but I would never have guessed what a blessing an online journal would be, in terms of deepening friendships, reconnecting with old friends, and engaging with and learning from people I don't even know, as they vulnerably share their lives. I'm a little addicted to reading blogs, but so many of them have been incredibly encouraging, touching, and edifying to me personally. It has been so fun! I think everyone needs to join the fun! While some may be bored with the happenings of my daily life (I understand!), I make a choice to look at ALL of life as an adventure. God can redeem anything - even the most mundane experiences of life - to transform our hearts and bring Him glory. Though I let myself get distracted from those purposes waaaaaay too often, it is my heart's desire to let Him have His way in all areas of my life. It's definitely a journey. I have far to go. But hopefully this newly energized blog will serve not only to update loved ones of Jonah's growth and other happenings in our life, but also to chronicle to others the abundant life that God breathes into ordinary things. My time away from this blog has only increased my excitement to connect with you all....I've been dying to! I also want to devote more time to commenting on others' blogs and engaging in more conversation through this blog world, because I think it's important. You are important to me. I welcome all of your thoughts as well!