Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas from Jonah (and the rest of us)!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Moms are Amazing.

I know there are people who talk about Mommy Wars, competition among moms, etc., but that hasn't been my experience at all since becoming a mother. The women I've been blessed to be in company with (either physically or through the internet) are incredible women who love to help each other out on this beautiful, strange journey of motherhood. I see moms who jump to other moms' rescue when they see they are struggling, providing emotional support when needed, as well as providing perspective, empathy, escape, practical advice, prayer, or whatever is needed in that moment. Mom friends are so great. Everyone should have them.

So many of y'all have been so sweet to me this week with comments, email, and phone calls. I am appreciative. I have such a hard time admitting when things get so rough, but God knew I needed encouragement to press on (and to learn some new things) so I have no doubt that he sent you to be that for me. And it has helped! Tremendously! I feel reenergized! So thank you for your kindness.

One particular conversation I had this week was with my friend Kelli, and it was one of those where we were both talking to each other but really God was talking to both of us. It was an incredible moment. Those are the moments when I am overwhelmed with thanks for "heart friends" which I believe are one of the most precious gifts from God. During this phone conversation, I just came face to face with a couple things in my heart that need to be dealt with before I will ever see any kind of progress with how to handle this struggle of rage that Jonah has. I realized it is very hard for me to show mercy. I'm talking about letting a consequence go every once in a while. It's hard for me. See, consistency in disciplining my child hasn't been my problem. What has, however, been a problem is my tendency to overparent. And I think that's been fueling the battles of the will that I seem to be in with my son. Rather, I need to be showing him that we are on the same team! It's not about me versus him. It's all of us fighting a sin nature. And what I say to him and how much I say to him in response to his sin will contribute either to him feeling isolated from me in his sin or it will bring us into easier, more comfortable communication about it. I've been reading in Proverbs and taking note of truths that I believe can really help my response to this particular parenting struggle, and one recurring theme I've been seeing is how wise it is to use less words. I think I try too explain too much about it to Jonah. I overexplain it. I overemphasize it. He needs to be taught truth. Just maybe in smaller doses than what I've been doing. It's just been a little much for him. I can see that now. And as far as the whole mercy thing goes, I've watched some parents of older children put mercy into practice well. I know parents who will, from time to time, tell their children, "What you did was wrong, but you are getting mercy this time instead of a consequence from me." The truth is that God is intentional with his mercy. I believe He withholds what we deserve periodically so as to motivate us to do better. And probably for a whole lot of other reasons too. But mercy is there to correct us, for sure. I've seen this in play in my own life a bazillion times. And most times, I was incredibly slow to learn. I can't believe God kept showing me mercy. (One of those examples has been on my heart for a while to share through this blog, but it will have to be on a different post.) But the point is, God kept showing me mercy. The reason I think I've struggled in implementing the "mercy tactic" in my response to the times Jonah shows his difficult behavior is that I don't see him learning from it. It hasn't yet motivated him to do better. I haven't seen it work yet in his life. And if that doesn't sound like a control freak mommy, then I don't know what does!

Why can't I leave those results up to the Lord? I often tell Jonah that God's Word tells us that our sins will find us out, so that even if mommy or daddy doesn't see something you did wrong, God does and no sin will go without consequence. BUT... my actions give no room for that to happen. I don't leave any room for letting God deal with it. Even if it takes a long time for mercy to teach him and draw him towards the Lord, that's God's job to work out. I just need to be obedient to the times He puts it on my heart to just let it go and choose mercy instead of administering a consequence. And then I need to trust Him with the rest.

Those are a couple of my new revelations this week. Isn't it just like God to reveal stuff about the ugliness in our own hearts before revealing insight into the heart issues in our children?? It's never what I have planned. But it's so good. And needed. I want to open up my heart to His mercy and be enthralled by it more and more so that it's my heart's first inclination to show it to others, especially to my children. I want to grow to where administering the consequence gets to be the harder of the two, where I have to step way out of my nature of mercy to be obedient in disciplining my child. Wouldn't that be nice. These are the things I'm pondering and praying towards this week. Only God can undo some of this overparenting, and I expect Him to do it. I want Him to create in me an attitude and response to Jonah's sins that is not so overbearing that all it does is push Jonah towards the desire to get away with things and be sneaky. Instead, I want to create an environment in my home that facilitates open communication and easier confession.

I marvel at what God does through the friendships of moms. Celebrate it! Have you been blessed by those kinds of mutually-encouraging girlfriendships? Feel free to share what characteristic of those friendships (mom or not), has impacted and blessed you the most!

Oh, and speaking of friends, you can go to Ame's blog to see pictures from last week's cookie exchange.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One of Those Days...

I have to admit, I'm pretty down today. These are the days I don't like to blog about. I resist it as much as possible because I don't want to be all negative. And much of the time, blogging is a tool I use to intentionally turn my focus to the positive. But that's not where I am today. And I know realness is good. So....this afternoon, my son had one of his loss-of-self-control episodes that may have been the worst one yet. His main character issue has to do with anger and losing control. He has an extremely strong will. I think most people don't believe that because the truth is that he doesn't exert it most of the time. But when he does choose to let it out, it's horrendous. Tantrum isn't the right word. It's way too soft. I can't explain to you the intensity of his screaming fits. This one today has made my head pound. It's rare for me to get a headache, but I have a bad one right now. Parker had just awoken at my mom's house and we had to leave right then to pick her up, so when this episode of Jonah's began, there was no way around having to leave the house. But in order to get him calm enough to get in the car to leave, I had to physically restrain him. And it was difficult. When he loses control, it's amazing how strong he can get. He's calm now and he's spending a considerable amount of time alone in his room this afternoon, but not a sign yet of real repentance. Not the teeniest bit of even regret.

And here's the deal: I know parenting is a process. I realize that with some children, seeing prayers answered will take longer than others and actually getting to repentance can take time. I get that my identity isn't found in whether we see evidences of our prayers and discipline sooner or later. I understand that he's three and I can't expect him to be a spiritual giant. I realize I'm not a failure as a mommy because we've been dealing with this for a long time now and haven't really seen improvement. (We definitely go through a few months at a time when it just doesn't happen as often, but then we seem to cycle back through it, and the episodes are just as bad.) I don't feel that life is all messed up now that we are back in a season of this again. And I don't plan on changing my tactics, which happen to be: staying consistent and staying on my knees. I know this is all part of it. This is my job. It's a full-time one. This is what God created me to do right now. And I am so grateful that shepherding this little boy's heart - even though it is an angry one today - is how I get to spend my days. I really am.

But am I discouraged too sometimes? Yes. Do I struggle with comparing myself to others whose children don't appear to have this struggle and am I then tempted to harbor thoughts about my identity that are not based in truth? Yes. Am I tired of doing the same things over and over in trying to reach my child's heart, thinking they are right, but then not seeing any results in his behavior? Yes. Tired would be a good word for it. Parenting can just be burdensome sometimes. And I'm feeling burdened by it right now. It's making me sad today. But it's also stripping me of pride and self-reliance and throwing me right into the position of brokenness, realizing again my need for the Lord's help every second. One thing I know at this point in my walk is to welcome that brokenness. And I do. I'm praying my heart out for this little boy and how we are to lead him. And his sister. Yeah, I'm really scared of what she'll bring into the mix one day. =)

I'm still clinging to this beautiful piece of truth that God so encouraged me with during the time I was pregnant with Jonah:

Isaiah 40:11 -
"He tends his flock like a shepherd:
He gathers the lambs in his arms
and carries them close to his heart;
he gently leads those that have young."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life As We Know It....

is about to change!

Parker Jane is up on all fours, rocking. I am soooo not ready for this. I don't feel prepared to fight battles over Christmas decorations, so she better not start moving around before the season ends. And she's pretty fiesty, y'all. Oh, she's sweet. But I think she knows what she wants all the time, and once she can move to get it, well, she'll move to get it and little will stop her. Changing her diaper has become a struggle thanks to this new fiestiness. I think she'll be the kid that is into everything. Jonah wasn't that kid. So this will be...different. But oh goodness, she is pretty cute these days. She's been changing too much lately though. Her first year is flying by, and I don't think I'm ok with it. I will be leaving the baby stage kicking and screaming, just so you know.

Has this Christmas season felt a little weird and different to y'all? Fewer houses have outside lights here this year. I have received five Christmas cards total. Usually, at this point in December my fridge is covered with Christmas cards and faces of people I love. What is up this year? I think it's the economy. And I really hate hearing people say "It's the economy" about everything right now. But either people are saving money this year on cards and postage, or the number of people who like me enough to send me a card dropped this year by about 98%. I hope it's the economy.

Tomorrow night is the annual girly Christmas party that Ame and I host for our girlfriends and new friends we want to get to know better. It's a cookie exchange this year, and I have yet to decide on what cookie I will bake. But I am so excited for tomorrow to come! It's such a fun time! For us, the hostesses. And for the cool, hip people who are coming. Probably not so much for all of the people who have declined the invitation. They must not know that THIS is the party of the year! Not one to miss! Highly anticipated! Better than all the rest! Someone needs to tell them.

Jonah has been playing all morning with his zoo animals (his all-time favorite thing to do), but now the stable and manger and animals from his nativity scene are making it into his animal fun. Every once in a while, baby Jesus makes an appearance. To feed the animals or something. It's all very interesting to watch. He's drawn to the nativity story more this year than anything else, and I'm grateful for that. But I know it's all because of his interest in the animals that were present at Jesus' birth. But maybe that's how God starts drawing in a three year old. I'm ok with it. (Some people might have a problem with it though...I mean, right at this very second, there is an elephant, moose, kangaroo, and zebra inside the stable.) We're celebrating this interest of his though, and tonight we are going to a drive-through live reenactment of events in Bethlehem the night Jesus was born. A local church offers this to the public, it's open tonight through Saturday, and it's great! We've been the last two years, but this year will be so much more exciting for Jonah. They have live animals. Like camels and donkeys. And they're right by your car. HEAVEN for Jonah.

I love the holidays. Even if they are a little bit weirder this year.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Thoughts About Things

Remember last year when I told y'all about the Bethlehem Star presentation that you just have to see? I struggled to find the words then to describe how magnificent it was. Never found them. But I watched it tonight on dvd with my community group, and it blessed me so much all over again. I'm standing by my strong recommendation of this. You can find out more and order it here. It has great Christmas gift possibilities too.

Also, I got my bow tutorial today!! My sweet aunt Joy dropped by after work to show me the ropes. (I actually first wrote "teach me the ropes" and read and re-read it until I figured out why that sounded weird. I finally got it.) My packages have pretty bows on them this year! And I even made a few of them myself! Score.

Oh hey, there's a reason why my Folgers Gourmet Vanilla Biscotti coffee tasted like soap. Turns out it expired months ago. And I just bought it a few weeks ago. Oops. Still not going to try that brand ever again. I'm looking for just the right coffee. Any suggestions? Remember: I'm cheap.

Several weeks ago, I read the best thing I've ever read about worship. Some of you are what I call "worship experts", so this won't seem so insightful. But I struggle with worship sometimes; it doesn't come so naturally for me. Reading this quote has completely changed the way I am thinking when I enter into corporate worship on Sunday mornings. It's actually a quote and then a quote within a quote. Gary Thomas, in his book The Beautiful Fight, writes this:

"Thankfully, we are doubly blessed in that God empowers us to worship him. The risen Christ who lives in us glorifies and worships the Father through us. Here's the marvelous way that Gerrit Scott Dawson describes it:

This means that in the midst of every sanctuary, Jesus is leading our praise. In the tiniest church in the remotest region to the grandest cathedral in the heart of the city, Jesus is worshiping his Father, bringing his brothers and sisters with him into the presence of God. For the Son of God who became man is still fully human, still in the flesh, still incarnate. As a man he worships God. He has blazed the way before us. He has pioneered the path in his own flesh. And he collects us up, gathers us in his arms, and presents us in praise to God the Father as those whom he has cleansed and redeemed and sanctified. All of that is going on in the midst of our sanctuary when we are there, sitting some mornings like bumps on a log, sleepy, distracted, bored, confused, and waiting for lunch. We may call the people to worship with the astounding news that Jesus is here with outstretched arms declaring to us the name of God."

Wow. Try to go into worship with the mindset that Jesus is actually the One worshiping God in that moment, offering your life as testimony to God's goodness. Try to do it and NOT get your life changed in some way! I dare you.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Good-bye, Fall

I guess I better post some autumn pics since it's pretty much over now. I started decorating our house today for Christmas, and we start our Advent activities with Jonah tomorrow. Crazy how this fall has flown by! Get ready for a LOT of pictures...

Here were my little punkins at Halloween and also at a morning playdate spent at the local pumpkin patch:

Jonah with his buddy Brantley, riding in the barrel train:


This is about as creative as his mama gets. Glue. No carving for me, thank you very much:

Getting ready to go Trick-or-Treating at a few of our neighbors' houses: (Jonah was FUNNY that night. Every time someone would give him a piece of candy, he'd hand them a piece of his. It was so sweet. But really hard to explain to him the point of trick-or-treating.)

Parker Jane made it Trick or Treating about as far as the end of our driveway, then fell asleep. My mom carried her. I love that sleeping penguin:
At the beginning of November, we went to Lufkin for a day to celebrate my Aunt Jan's 60th birthday. It was such a great time for me with family, and Jonah always has a blast with his second cousins there:

Me and Lace:
a couple pics of me and my handsome man:

My precious party girl:
I almost forgot the pictures from the engagement party we hosted for my cousin Lacey and her fiance Ben. It was at the end of October:

I stole my mom's cute Anthropologie apron for the night. I don't think she appreciates its cuteness quite like I do. She should give it to me.

The couple of honor:


Joel is in the process of building an arbor (or pergola, if you prefer) over the patio in our backyard, and we decided to use what he's done so far to string up lights in the backyard to make this fiesta more festive. Wish I had a picture of what it looked like at night.

Here's my favorite cheap party decor tip in the next pic. I save the cans from Parker's formula to recover with scrapbook paper from Hobby Lobby. Not ingenious or anything. But works for me!This Thanksgiving week was spent with my brother's family coming in town for several days, which was SO FUN, and then my extended family on my mom's side spent Thanksgiving with us at my mom's house. Our family holiday gathering are never short on fun.

ALL of the grandkids in the family. First time all 9 have been together:
My parents, brother's family, and us at the end of a long (but fun!) day: (Kids were way past picture-taking at that point. The grown-ups were too actually.)
Jonah being an animal, of course:Then Friday, Joel and I and the kids traveled to his uncle's ranch in Lockhart, Texas. Oh. My. Goodness. This had to have been one of the most relaxing 24 hour-periods of my year. This is where we stayed:
And this is where I had my coffee Saturday morning. It was GORGEOUS:

Staying with Jim and Joan was so fun. They are King and Queen of Hospitality. I took notes. There's so much to learn from how comfortable they made their guests feel in their home. I loved it!

Enough of October and November. Bring on December!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wise-Girl Wannabe

I was reading something in Proverbs a couple of weeks ago that grabbed my attention. I was reading its instruction about wisdom in the first few chapters, and one particular verse intrigued me: the Lord "stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity," - Proverbs 2:7. The verses surrounding this one are filled with encouragements to gain wisdom so that basically you can know how to live uprightly. But this seemed to be saying God has in store a special portion of wisdom for those who are already living uprightly. See the circle? Get wisdom so you can be upright. Then...be upright, so you can get wisdom.

Hmm...

Wisdom is such an interesting thing. Kind of mysterious. We have to go searching for it in order to find it. We know it because God tells us it's out there waiting for all who really are hungry for it (all throughout these chapters), but all the while we're searching we don't really know what it is we're going to find exactly. But the more we listen to its voice, the more we'll hear it. (That will take training, for sure!) How great that it's an ongoing process like that though. I realize that I've misunderstood before what wisdom really looks like. Too often I start pursuing it when I find myself in a particularly confusing or difficult circumstance. I look for it as a support for a specific need when really, these Scriptures are saying, it's meant to be something we grow into. Through a process. And it should be an ongoing process. Something I'm adding to my character every day. Wisdom is not just about a one-time or periodic need based on me needing to know something I can't know on my own; rather, it's a lifestyle. Or at least it should be. This convicts me because I can't really say that wisdom is building upon itself in my heart on a regular basis. On the contrary, I tend to ignore it and fail to search for it unless I'm super hard pressed about something. And if Proverbs tells me anything, it's that God is offering me an open invitation to His beautiful wisdom. Every day. But the choice is mine to pursue it and accept it.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Oh, The Random Thoughts That Have Been in My Head Today

1. Folgers Gourmet Vanilla Biscotti coffee tastes a little bit like soap.

2. I've truly never cared to know how to cook a turkey for Thanksgiving. And after my husband cooked a turkey and ham yesterday for our community group's joint Thanksgiving feast with a couple other community groups and it turned out sooooo yummy, it's pretty much a done deal: I will never, ever learn how. Why would I need to? That man is good.

3. When my brother's family visited last June, I tried to convince them that my nephew Brady's special non-milk, non-soy formula had the scent of potatoes. I'd kiss his sweet little potato-smelling head as much as I could. Joel went earlier this week to get formula for Parker and they were out of the kind we normally buy. So he got the Parent's Choice Gentlease formula, and guess what! My baby also smells like potatoes this week!!! Must have a common ingredient that causes that smell. Smelling my potato-head girl just makes me want to see my potato-head nephew all the more. Only her potato smell is more like potato chips. Yes, this is my head. I actually smell potatoes on Brady and now Parker. And no. No one else does.

4. I'm ready for Blake, Amy, Nathan, Maggie and Brady to be here!!! Tuesday!

5. Hobby Lobby has quite a diverse clientele, I noticed today. That's all.

6. I can't believe I paid $1.07 for a box of my haircolor at CVS today. It was on sale and I used a -$2 Coupon from L'oreal, a -$2 coupon from CVS, and $2 in CVS Extracare Bucks. That place is so very special to me.

7. Jack is Back! And I'm really looking forward to my two hours with him this Sunday evening. It's been way too long.

8. I really want a tutorial on how to make pretty bows for packages. Help me please, someone!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busy! But GOOD Busy!

Yep, that describes life right now. Doesn't it for almost everybody? It's that time of year. But this kind of busy has been different for me. We've made a point over the last few months to stay home a whole lot more. During the day, I keep the kids in as much as possible. We do enough playdates to not lose our minds, but we're not overscheduling our days like we used to. And it's been really nice. Sometimes a little lonely for a sanguine like me, BUT the good has far outweighed what is sometimes difficult. I feel so good about where we are in life, and I'm so grateful that God has given me this opportunity to love, train, and invest in my children's hearts all day each day. So. I'm trying to make the most of it. I know I blogged a few months ago about how my heart had really been turned more towards my home, and now I can say it just keeps getting more and more that way. It's been a perfect example to me of how we can influence our emotions to follow the choices we make. I chose to make home life a priority, and now several months later, I can't imagine it any other way. I love it! I loved being a stay-at-home mom before, but I realized I was finding a lot of satisfaction from my connection with friends during the day and the Lord showed me that some of that had become plain ol idolatry. So I've had to reshift a lot of my thinking about how I plan our days. They must now revolve around what God says is good for the family that day, and I'm still tempted to make it about what's fun for me a lot of the time. But this is a good place to be. I'm really liking it a lot more, the more I make these my habits.

But what's been great about not overscheduling our days or overcommitting to regular activities is that it frees us up to be available for whatever opportunities God brings our way for ministry that we have never planned for. And He keeps bringing them for sure! I've been available for unplanned, divine conversations and opportunities to help out friends. And it's been such a good practical lesson for me to "say no" to a lot of good things because I've been freed up to do a whole lot more! Taking a "break" from some ministry things hasn't really been a break at all...and isn't that the way Jesus does things? In the gospels, we see His "breaks" of practicing solitude and stillness always interrupted by needs and needy people coming to Him. And I love that He does that. Because even though I want to spend much more time at home with my kids, more intentionally investing in their hearts, I want them to see their mom serving! I want to do it so much more than I do. And I really wish there wasn't this battle against selfishness that I have to go through each time one of those opportunities comes up. I have sooooo far to go on this. I really want my heart transformed in this area. I want to really see interruptions or unplanned opportunities to invest and serve as what they really are: divine intervention that serves a purpose so much bigger than myself but that I am blessed to be allowed in to participate. And God is definitely taking me seriously! He's bringing me opportunities to learn this and battle my selfishness. I have a feeling there will be a lot more of these opportunities, as I am a slow learner!

So that's the kind of busy I've been. And our evenings and weekends have been pretty full lately too. It started the first week of November and probably will continue that way until after the new year. Speaking of, I can't believe how close 2009 is! Crazy.

Life with the kiddos right now is fun. Parker turned 6 months old on Sunday, and this mama is so sad we are closer to her one year birthday than her actual birth day. She's a precious baby! Really, so happy. Last week was a little rough with teething. She was up a lot at night every night for almost a week. It sent my body into a little shock since she'd been sleeping through the night for quite a while. And she was fussier than usual. But we've been back to normal the last few nights, and that's been great. No teeth have come through yet, but two on the bottom look almost there. She is trying to sit up on her own, but she isn't quite there yet. That's actually my favorite first-year milestone. The time between being able to sit up and crawl is the easiest, I think! It was a really short time with Jonah, and some moms have babies crawling before they even sit up. But I look forward to her being able to sit up and play more with things. She is still laughing a lot at her brother. They have something sweet going on.

And Jonah has seemed like such a little man lately. A few weeks ago, we went through a bad period of resistance at bedtime. He started to protest it for a short time last night, but thankfully it resolved quickly. But that's his main issue right now. He's been pretty helpful and sweet most of the time. I love having conversations with him. I wish I could record them all. He is SO imaginative. But I love listening to his imaginative talk so much right now because it's still so innocent, little boy-ish. It's always about animals. I know the superhero life is just right around the corner, and that will be a fun stage too I'm sure, but for now I'm so glad he cares nothing about Batman or Spiderman. He just "plays" giraffe and zebra and lion and so on. He recently went camping with his dad (and Ame's husband and son) and it was his first time to sleep in a tent...he loved it! It was such a big deal to him.

We did some Christmas shopping yesterday...I'm getting a little bit closer. I really like to have most of that done before December gets here, so I can really have time to enjoy the holiday time with my family and not be running around like a crazy person trying to get things done. I've been that person a lot of Christmases! But I really hope I can get more of it out of the way by the end of the month because I want to be able to do all of those fun advent activities with Jonah that we did last year. Last year was kind of halfhearted because I was feeling so bad from being pregnant. So this year I want to do a lot more!

This once a week blogging is a little crazy because so much more has been happening than that frequency reflects. I really want to do better with keeping up with it. I have things to say, people! I need help to do a better job with this. Any of you have permission to make me blog more. And ridicule me until I do. Because I know I've been saying I need to do better with this for quite a while now.

Happy Pre-Christmas Season, everyone! It's almost here....

Monday, November 10, 2008

It Only Took One Person Asking...

Chandra asked me my thoughts on the election, so I thought I'd share just a few. I've kept most of them to myself this time around, which is quite an event in my life! I guess I haven't thought a whole ton about it since last Tuesday. The outcome I could see a long time coming, so there wasn't surprise. I did feel some immediate disappointment, the normal amount one would feel when their chosen candidate doesn't win. Losing isn't fun. But I guess it just hasn't been a huge deal to me. I'm not advocating an apathetic attitude when it comes to our nation's political system, government, and all current events/news items; I enjoy involvement! Debate. Passion. Action. Those are all good, and I like them very much. I guess I just didn't feel this dramatic let-down last week like I think a lot of people felt...the ones who voted the same way I did, of course. Partly because of the nonsurprise factor. But also because I've changed so much over the last few years in my thinking about how God works in and through His people. I believe life change happens in the heart. People coming to Christ happens through a personal experience. I still want for the laws of my land to reflect God's; His ways are good for everyone. But I know that His power to change lives, heal, and draw people to Himself does not hinge upon every Truth of His being acknowledged by our government. He is always in the business of doing those things. And because of the infrequency of teaching from Jesus about governmental authority coupled with the abundance of scriptural examples of Him empowering individual people to impact people, I come to no other conclusion than God really wants to use us to change the world. All of us individual Christ-followers. And He wants to do it as we walk through life, administering His grace to all those with whom He wishes to connect us. I'm hoping that maybe this election will ignite (or reignite) a spark among believers to get involved in changing the world themselves instead of waiting on laws to make it happen. Don't get me wrong. I'd like the laws too to reflect what my God says is right and wrong. I just don't think it's the main way hearts come to know Him. And sometimes we get all fired up about electing our candidate (and for good reasons!) and yet we forget this other part of God's way...the part that is all about personal investing in lives.

You see, Saturday night, I had the pleasure of attending the annual fundraising dinner of a ministry that is very important to me. This organization is all about helping unwed pregnant mothers, usually but not always teenagers, by providing a supportive living environment as well as personal counseling and medical help. They love Jesus at this place, and through their efforts, so many women unsure about their pregnancy are able to have ultrasounds to see their living baby inside of them and are shown who Christ is and wants to be in their lives. These women are choosing to give their baby life. And I love it. Their ministry is so much more multi-faceted than I have time to write about here, but I love every part of it. I am passionate about being involved in what organizations like that are doing to help bring life to those children who aren't allowed the choice to live. And I just wonder about the Christians/pro-lifers who get worked up (in protest) about the electing of a candidate who is pro-choice and has vowed to reinstate federal funding for abortions. Oh, I'm one of them! I want those unborn babies protected as well as the mothers who will suffer and find out later it's not an "easy" and "quick" solution. My heart breaks for them. But I still find myself wondering about all of those voters....Are they giving their money and resources to ministries such as the one I mentioned? Are they putting their personal investments where their mouth is? I wonder what might happen in our country if all of us who "rant and rave" about a pro-choice candidate actually supported these organizations that are the ones really out there ministering to the wounded mothers-to-be needing guidance...providing them hope and introducing them to their Savior? How might our world change? How might the kingdom of Christ be expanded on this earth? I just wonder...

Joel and I had a quick conversation last Wednesday about how so many fellow Christians that voted Republican were "playing their Jesus card" on the day after the election. I mean, how many times did you hear someone say last week post-election that God is in control, sovereign, still on His throne, etc.? That's all true. And I appreciate them saying it. How many times did you hear it said pre-election? I am concerned for those who just spent months and months in fear and anxiety about this outcome and then when this particular outcome happened, then they spoke of trusting Him. I think that probably says something about us as a people. Isn't it just so our nature to resist trust until we have to? I've seen that in my own life in a lot of different areas. I dreaded and dreaded an outcome, drowning in fear, not wanting to accept a certain possibility only to find that the possibility I dreaded came true. And then I dealt with it, according to God's truth and grace. And I was ok with it. Except that I had wasted a great amount of time and most of my thought life on this issue by being afraid and resistant to what God might want to do. Time I couldn't get back. God is merciful to us in that place, still allowing us to choose trust and be blessed by doing so, even if it is a little late. But I hope that we can all rest in God's sovereignty every day of the year. Not just the day after a presidential election. I need to be reminded of that.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Happy Election Day Eve

GO VOTE!!!!

Wondering where? Go here to find out your voting location!

***UPDATED TO ADD: You get a free cup of coffee at Starbucks if you vote today. =)

Friday, October 31, 2008

That Kid Cracks Me Up

One morning last week, I had a most unusual conversation with my son. It was early, and I hadn't been out of bed for long. My hair had not yet been brushed; it was still pulled back in a ponytail from the night before and had a few random fallen pieces hanging down. I was standing in the kitchen doing something at the counter, and Jonah was in the family room. I felt him looking at me, he called out, "Mom!"and I turned to him.

Me: "Yes, Jonah?"
J: "Look at your hair."
Me (thinking to myself): "Nice. This should be humbling."
J: You look kinda like a fish."
Me: (stare blankly at him)
J (studying me closely, appearing deep in thought): "No. No. You look like an anteater."

WOW. Never been told that before. He sure has a way....

I was feeling especially good about myself after that comment, as I'm sure any woman would.

But he made it up to me later that morning with another conversation while we were working on a puzzle. He suddenly stopped and asked me if he was going to grow up and be a daddy. I told him he probably would but that he'd need to have a wife first and that he would marry a woman, like daddy married mommy. He said, "I want to marry you too. Like daddy." (I'm thinking, "AAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW!!!!!!") I explained to him that daddy already picked mommy, and he immediately asked if he could marry Gigi (my mom). I told him Papa T already had her, and before I could explain that you can't marry a family member, he asked, "Aunt Joy?" Argh. "No, Jonah. You have to marry a friend from a different family so you can make a new family together." He asked if he would marry one of his little friends he has now. "It's possible." He then looked like he was thinking very hard, and I figured he was thinking of which friend he might marry...and then he said, "Can you hand me that puzzle piece?" He was done with that talk. He found out everything he needed to know about marriage in those 30 seconds. What is really funny to me, though, is that I was telling his Aunt Amy this later that day, and my niece Maggie had asked her the very same questions THAT MORNING! Isn't that ironic? She asked if she could marry Papa T (my dad). So funny how three-year old minds work! To them, what's so weird about marrying a parent or grandparent?

I'm just glad Jonah doesn't hold the anteater look against me.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

More of Parker

I finally got new batteries for my camera, so hopefully I'll be taking more pictures again! At the bottom of this post are a few pics of Parker from last week. I figured I should do a little update on the little lady.

She is SWEET SWEET SWEET! After a rough start to life (first 6 weeks), she really decided she enjoys life on earth. And we're enjoying her enjoying it. She has a very pleasant temperament almost all of the time, is very smiley, and LOVES interaction with people. She's all about attention! She lights up every time you look at her and say something. She just eats it up when people talk to her. Especially in that silly voice people tend to use when talking to babies. She is easy!

Because of loving people interaction and attention, Parker is loving her brother, and he is being so sweet to her! It's getting so fun watching their bond form. She laughs SO HARD at him, and it's this precious chuckle. She ONLY has laughed at him. We cannot make her laugh no matter what we try. But she'll so crack up at him. It's always when he's doing something completely silly or weird. He's a pretty funny kid when he's not trying to be, and she's picked up on that.

She is on formula completely, eats rice cereal, and has also added green beans, peas, carrots, and sweet potatoes to her list of foods tried. She definitely prefers the orange veggies to the greens. Next up: squash. I wanted to wait a lot longer to start solids, but her pediatrician suggested we do it earlier in order to help with her reflux. She's still on prevacid twice a day...I tried to decrease her dosage, and it didn't go very well. Now I know I should leave those kinds of decisions to people with medical degrees. But we know now to stay on the meds. And as long as she's on them, she's great!

She's changing so fast...it makes me really sad. But I love this age. It's such a fun time, and I'm eating it up while I can. I know she won't stay a baby for long.


I have more to blog about in the next few days...a visit to the pumpkin patch, an engagement party I threw for my cousin last night, our church's Halloween block party today, and some funny Jonah conversations. We've had a full week. It's been good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

5 Months Old

This is a little video Joel made real quickly a few nights ago. He and Parker Pie were enjoying some fun daddy-daughter time. She's missing her bow and her skirt, but whatever. She's usually pretty smiley, but she's Miss Serious in this one. And it sooo reminds me of her brother. I never think that! She looks nothing like him...She's ALL me! Our baby pictures look identical, just like Joel's and Jonah's do. But she is trying to be like Jonah here:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Continuing on a Worthy Soapbox...

(At least I think it's worthy)

I wanted to share this post from one of my FAVORITE blogs, 4 Reluctant Entertainers! In the next few months, there will be lots of parties and holiday get-togethers, so I feel like the general public could use some reminders on the importance of RSVPing. Too bad the general public doesn't read my blog.

Now. Sermon over. Promise.

However...speaking of 4 Reluctant Entertainers, you need to check out the author's 10 Commandments of Hospitality!!! Scroll down a ways, and you'll find them on the right sidebar. Such good stuff! Not just for "Marthas" - trust me! It's good teachin' for any of us who want to develop the virtue of hospitality in our lives and bear fruit in this way! As Christ followers, we don't get "out" of hospitality just because we may not be as gifted as some in this area, aren't "a natural," or don't have big, pretty houses and loads of extra cash. We may just have to learn to get more creative. And change our focus and our expectations of ourselves. I find her 10 Commandments very encouraging, and rather than add more, they seem to take the pressure off in a lot of ways. This is something I'm really interested in learning more about and growing in this area. Do you have any good resources for this kind of thing?? Oh, do please share.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Oh my Goodness! I Caved! Here are 200 things You Never Cared to Know About Me

You'll probably need coffee for this. And to read in installments. In honor of my 200th post, the following is a list of 200 things about me that I know you won't really care about. In no particular order:

1. I've embraced my originality. I don't really feel anymore like I have to be like everyone else.

2. Which is good. Because I'm not like anyone else.

3. My husband and I have been married for five years.

4. A couple years before we dated, I would run into him in random places a few times a year. One of those was at a fitness class I was taking at my university. Joel worked out there still, even though he had already graduated, and one time my professor called me out in front of my entire class for "flirting too much with the guy in the red shirt instead of working out faster." How embarrassing. None of us would have thought I'd end up marrying the guy in the red shirt.

5. And I was not flirting with him. Just talking. If anything, he was flirting with me.

6. I love to sing. Just not in front of anyone else.

7. I had my first child on my 24th birthday.

8. A lot of people felt like they needed to apologize to me for that.

9. I, on the other hand, was quite happy to have sweet Jonah for a birthday present. I have no problem sharing my birthday with him.

10. So far, it has worked out to my advantage, with the gift-receiving and all.

11. I started baby-sitting at a very young age - not even out of elementary school yet. I was sooo drawn to babies and children.

12. I still haven't figured out exactly what I want to be when I grow up. Thankfully, for now that's ok because my "career" (whatever that might be) is on hold for me to stay home with my children. And I love it so much.

13. My dream job is to be a published author.

14. My other dream job is to teach philosophy classes at a college level.

15. And another dream job is to run my own version of a "barn sale" where I thrift-shop for fun antiques and home decor and put some modern twists on it to sell.

16. And yet another dream job would be have something to do with the party-planning or wedding industry. I just don't know what.

17. I don't know that I have any of the skills necessary to do any of the above jobs. (Hence the confusion about what I want to be when I grow up.)

18. Several years ago, however, I did start writing a Bible study. Being pregnant and having babies has put that project on hold, but I'm just starting to write again since Parker Jane's birth.

19. Finding big chunks of concentrated time for writing is hard to come by with little ones, so it's a slow process. But when I finish the study, I might throw a party.

20. If my husband let me, I'd have more kids.

21. I really wish my husband would let me.

22. I'm starting to think it may always be an issue for me...to continually surrender those desires and accept that we may actually be intended to only be a four-person family. I am praying though that God will take away that desire for more and that if our family really is complete, I would feel "done" sometime soon.

23. I feel incredibly blessed to have the two children that I have.

24. Losing a child through miscarriage may be the hardest thing I've ever been through. It surprised me how deep the pain was.

25. I'm glad I can say "was" in that last sentence. Not that it's not there at all, but so much healing occurred last year and I'm so grateful to God for getting me there before I got pregnant again. I might have otherwise missed the completeness of that healing.

26. One large aspect of that healing was learning to forgive those who responded differently than I expected or would have liked.

27. I'm an evenly-divided sanguine/choleric.

28. I've learned to adapt some characteristics of the other temperaments, like planning and scheduling. I have to discipline myself in these areas or else I wouldn't survive. I can't keep track of details in my head.

29. Until recently I thought I knew my love language (see this website if you don't know what I'm talking about). Now I have no idea what mine is. I like them all.

30. Holidays with my family are one of my very favorite things.

31. In our house, Santa brings a certain number of presents for each child based on their age. This year, Jonah will get three presents from Santa. This will not continue forever. It will cap off at five years of age. Santa is good at making special deals with parents. Did you know he'll do whatever you ask him to do?

32. When my husband and I got married, we lived in Dallas. The two places we said we'd never live were either of our hometowns, and by shortly after our third anniversary, we had lived in both.

33. I really have a heart for young women who are new to town, may be struggling with that, and are hungry for some connection.

34. I talk about my brother's kids a lot.

35. I realize it could be annoying to some. But I really don't care. I love those kids!

36. Laundry is my favorite household chore.

37. I really hate all of the other ones.

38. I'd like to learn to sew, but my fear of not being good at it is definitely keeping me from trying.

39. That, and I don't see the purchase of a sewing machine in my near future.

40. I "nannied" for a few families before becoming a mom myself. I learned A LOT.

41. My first nonchildcare-related job was with the Dallas County Republican Party.

42. Which is funny because I'm not sure what my political views are anymore.

43. But it was a fun job! I somehow convinced important people to give me important work even though I really didn't know what I was doing. I thought I'd do something like it for a living, but I eventually nixed that particular career path because it wasn't going anywhere if I wasn't going to move to Austin or D.C. at the time. Joel E. was in the picture at the time, and I knew I didn't want to end our relationship!

44. I'm really glad I didn't end our relationship.

45. Marriage has been hard. People who tell you otherwise are lying. Or really blind.

46. Working through its toughness is/has been my biggest thrill.

47. I really want to own a cute apron.

48. I think I might like cooking more if I had one.

49. I like cooking sometimes. Especially at the start of a season. Currently, I'm all excited about "fall" food...soups, chili, crock pot recipes, etc.

50. I'm currently planning, hosting, or helping to host 5 parties between now and February. And I really enjoy it!

51. I hate running.

52. I happen to find great pleasure in March Madness.

53. I am a fan of the church. (As in...the local church)

54. I hate anti-intellectualism in the church. (As in...the universal church).

55. If I didn't completely believe that the Bible is true and that Jesus is who He says He is, then I'd totally think Christians were crazy. So I get why some people do.

56. But I believe that it's all true, so the only thing that makes sense to me is to try to live like I believe it's true. And like Jesus is worth it all.

57. I really like when people live according to their beliefs, so there's a huge respect I have for people who do that, even if they believe differently than me. I still want to be friends with those people.

58. In the school I attended, there was a spelling bee for grades 5 through 8. All four years, I was my class' representative in the school or district (when we got fancier) spelling bee.

59. I never won.

60. But I still care a great deal about spelling and grammar.

61. It took me a long time to let go of "the rules" and take up the "almost anything goes" blog style of writing. But I'm ok with it now.

62. I don't judge bad spellers out there. We all make mistakes. My spelling and grammar is far from perfect. But it does irk me when people act like it's not important to try to better learn their native language.

63. My biggest pet peeve is when people don't RSVP to a party. There is no excuse. It's rude and selfish. And I have a hard time staying off my soapbox about this one. You should always RSVP!!! What's with not doing it? Especially you Southern girls....didn't y'all's mamas teach you better?

64. I'm a little too preachy sometimes. (Can you tell?)

65. Somehow, I still have some friends. I like them. My relationships with them are one of the most important things to me. LOVE my girlfriend time.

66. I went on a summer long mission trip to England when I was 16, and it was one of the best experiences of my life.

67. I hope my kids go on a Teen Missions trip too.

68. One of my closest friendships today came from that trip...A girl from Maine and a girl from Texas just destined to be best friends. It's sooo the movie Beaches. Well, except of course, we're both still alive.

69. I'm a caffeine girl all the way. Love coffee. Love sweet tea. And my newest caffeinated love is diet coke, especially diet cherry coke.

70. Up until about three months ago, I hated diet drinks. With a passion. So weird how that has changed.

71. My Christmas ornaments are one of the material possessions I own that mean the most to me. I like to buy ornaments that represent various experiences and seasons in the life of our family. So there are a lot of sweet stories on my tree.

72. My family and friends make fun of my description of my main Christmas tree. What is its theme, you ask? Why, it's a combination of elegant and whimsical, with touches of sentimentality all throughout.

73. I have no idea why anyone would make fun of that!

74. I really would like for my kids to be funny. I think I find great satisfaction in others finding my son humorous. I sure get a kick out of him, but I love when others notice his quirky funniness too.

75. I feel the best about myself when I've made my husband laugh hard. Out loud. It's hard to do!

76. I'm already starting to think about how good the turkey and ham will taste on Thanksgiving.

77. As a little girl, I was obsessed with weddings. I collected brides magazines, for crying out loud. That's what I collected.

76. I was always obsessed with watching beauty pageants. Whenever Miss America or Miss Texas would be on, I'd have sleepovers with one of my little girl friends, Heather, and we would make our own judges' sheet and try to predict who would win.

77. Sometimes we would act out the pageant with our Barbie Cards. Yes, Barbie Cards. Kinda like Baseball Cards. But not. It seems like Heather, Lacey, Caroline, and I were the only people EVER in the world to collect Barbie cards...but we did. And we loved them dearly.

78. I still have my old Barbie cards.

79. Since I have a little girl now, I think I might use them for decoration in her room one day when she's a little older...maybe decoupage a trunk with them or something? I don't know.

80. I'm really tired of people commenting in stores and random places (either behind my back or to my face) about my baby's feet needing socks. I am her mother. I know when her feet are cold. I can handle it.

81. I might start responding by telling them that I don't appreciate their outfits or hairstyles or something else for which they didn't ask my opinion.

82. I think porch swings are so romantic.

83. Jack Bauer is my favorite TV character ever.

84. If I could pick anyone to be related to (that I am unrelated to), it would be Regis Philbin. Don't you wish he was your uncle or something?

85. I was obsessed with his show when I was yet a child.

86. Which means I was also obsessed with his co-host. I read Kathie Lee's autobiography when I was in the sixth grade!

87. I was weird.

88. I am quite accident-prone. I once sprained an ankle playing hacky-sac. And it was a BAD sprain.

89. I've had several concussions. One happened during a cheerleading stunt gone wrong.

90. Another concussion happened when I got hit in the head with a softball while warming up for an intramural softball game in college.

91. Others happened during childhood...playing wildly on my swingset, walking across my monkey bars and falling, stuff like that.

92. Actually, my family and I think it's possible that I have a dislocated shoulder right now.

93. And I have no idea how it happened. I think it was during my sleep. Who dislocates their shoulder while sleeping?!! Possibly me.

94. Hobby Lobby is my very favorite store.

95. I am very obsessed with coupons and bargain-hunting.

96. Since implementing some new bargain strategies five months ago, I have decreased my spending on groceries by about 35%. You'd be obsessed too.

97. I really want to cut my grocery spending in half, so I'm remaining focused on this saving money thing!

98. When I get the grocery ads in the mail every Tuesday afternoon, I feel a little high.

99. I love cheesecake.

100. And I really love wedding cake.

101. My favorite snow cone flavor is Wedding Cake.

102. I took some cake decorating classes a few years ago.

103. But I was never really good at it.

104. However, I do own lots of cake decorating supplies that sit at the top of one of my cabinets!

105. My roommate in college, Amber, and I actually went wedding-crashing before Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn made it sound cool.

106. We deeply regretted it!

107. But we have good stories.

108. I know firsthand the freedom that comes from forgiving someone who has hurt us badly. Just forgiving and releasing my right to inflict justice in any way took me to a place of peace that I never thought possible.

109. I also know what it feels like to not be forgiven by someone else. And it stinks. For them.

110. I never had a dog growing up.

111. I started this list so many days ago that I don't remember what I typed in the beginning. There could be repeats.

112. I really wish I like running.

113. One of my favorite conversation topics with my cousin when we were growing up was what we were going to name our babies one day.

114. For a large part of my childhood, I thought it would be really cool to name my son Samuel...get this, just because the Hannah in the Bible had a son named Samuel. A pretty cool chica I was.

115. I also liked the names Beverly, Babara, and Claudia for a long time.

116. I helped Lacey with her baby names list, and we came up with all rhyming names. I mean, shouldn't a Lacey have kids named Stacy, Traci, Casey, and Macy? My brilliance is to thank for that.

117. Needless to say, my tastes in baby names changed drastically when I became an adult.

118. I wasn't sure about the name Jonah, but when we found out we were having a boy, my husband called everyone to tell them and referred to the baby as Jonah. So did everyone else, and I felt stuck.

119. I ended up really liking the name Jonah and can't imagine my son being anybody else but Jonah.

120. Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is my favorite book.

121. Other countries I have visited are England, Switzerland, and South Korea.

122. The country I most want to visit is Italy.

123. I don't have a desire to learn another language.

124. It would be cool to know another language, just not learn it.

125. I think I might start out homeschooling Jonah.

126. I'll just take it year by year, and we'll decide each year if it's what's best for him that particular year only.

127. But I really don't know for sure that I will home-school at all.

128. My favorite color is purple.

129. My favorite color to wear is black.

130. My favorite color to use in decorating my home is brown.

131. But I like a lot of red in my house too.

132. I always hated Halloween until having kids and seeing them in their sweet costumes.

133. I have not worn a Halloween costume since my senior year of high school.

134. I went to our Halloween dance as an old lady.

135. I disguised myself so well, my friends didn't recognize me. It took a long time for people to figure out who I was.

136. I won a prize for best costume that year.

137. And then I retired from wearing Halloween costumes. I went out on top.

138. And I don't think I would ever attend a grown-up Halloween party that required wearing costumes. Ever.

139. The most special gift I ever received was the pearls that belonged to my grandmother, Nana.

140. I was given them at my high school graduation by my parents. She died the week before, and she had given them to my mom right before she died to give to me. I treasure them.

141. Losing Nana was very hard. She had been the center of our family, and her absence drastically changed our family dynamics, experiences, and relationships.

142. Watching my mom grieve the loss of her mom taught me invaluable lessons on grieving within God's grace.

143. I have the best big brother in the world.

144. For my high school graduation present from him, he took me to New York City for a fun weekend.

145. I've seen one Broadway show, Annie Get Your Gun.

146. But I'd like to see a whole lot more.

147. My husband and I have a goal to see a baseball game in every MLB ballpark.

147. But it's kinda one of those goals we have in theory, because we've never actually made choices to accomplish that goal.

148. We've only been to two.

149. I hope we actually go to more of them.

150. I have a sweet tooth.

151. But I've been cutting back on sweets the last few months. Nothing drastic. Just small changes.

152. It feels good to make these small changes.

153. I also am trying not to snack out of boredom, only for nourishment.

154. This has been hard to change. When the kids are napping, I love to sit down with something to put in my mouth.

155. I like vegetables when they're made sweet by cooking.

156. I'm not sending out Christmas cards this year.

157. I decided to send Easter cards instead.

158. I hope people don't take me off their list when they don't get a card in December because they think I took them off of my list.

159. I love going to the lake in the summertime.

160. I want someone in our family to buy a boat so we can go to the lake in the summertime.

161. I'd kinda like a very very very part-time side job right now.

162. I don't know what that would be.

163. I'm keeping my eyes open for just the right thing though.

164. I send a lot of text messages these days.

165. It kinda makes me feel like a teenager.

166. My hair is grey at the roots.

167. And this began in my early 20s! How ridiculous.

168. I color my hair dark brown, but I'm really bad about keeping it up.

169. I prefer it when it's highlighted blond, but I just can't afford the upkeep. Maybe one day I'll be blondish again.

170. I think the hairdresser relationship is the most precarious of all.

171. I just heard someone say "His arm is broke" and it took everything I had not to say "BROKEN!!His arm is brokEN!!!!"

172. I love breakfast food most of all. I could eat breakfast for every meal.

173. McDonalds food is really growing on me.

174. I'm a great starter...not so great a finisher.

175. This is evidenced by my unfinished scrapbook of Jonah's first year. I never added his birthday party pictures to it at the end.

176. But I like to scrapbook. Really, I do.

177. I also start a bunch of home improvement or decorative projects and then take forever to complete them.

178. I am going to vote for John McCain for president, and it's NOT because I feel like he's just the lesser of two evils.

179. I actually decided early on in the race to vote for him in the primary election.

180. I have my reasons, and I'd be happy to share them with you in person.

181. I do my Christmas shopping year round. I usually am done with it before Thanksgiving.
'
182. This year will be an exception. I think I've only bought one Christmas gift so far.

183. I like to throw a Christmas party of some kind every year.

184. The only year I didn't was the winter I was pregnant with Jonah.

185. That was due to all of the throwing up.

186. There was A LOT of it that fall and winter.

187. I am an old house kind of girl.

188. If I was to live in a new house, I hope it would be one that looks like an old house somehow.

189. I like to go to Dallas as often as I can to visit girlfriends.

190. And I do most of my shopping there because my town doesn't have a lot of good options.

191. There is never a time when I'm not up for playing a game of spades.

192. I only like about 3 card games.

193. But I really love those three!

194. I love board games a lot too.

195. I come from a game-playing family. My husband did not. This has caused some issues.

196. I also like doing large jigsaw puzzles. Most people are surprised by that.

197. If you're still reading, I know you must have a headache.

198. I'm so sorry. But you did it to yourself really.

199. My hand is hurting from typing.

200. I wonder if we have things in common, and I hope you'll leave me a comment telling me what those things are!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Working On Rearranging My Blogroll....

...so pay no attention to the messed up lists on the right. I'm going to put everyone's blog link in a different type of list, and I don't know how long it will take. If your name disappears for a while, it's not because I'm not your friend anymore. I still like you. Similarly, if your name appears twice in my lists, it's not because I love you twice as much as everyone else. I'll have it normal just as soon as I can.

UPDATED: Oh no! I have to add to this post now because my very next one will be my 200th post! And I can't let my 200th post be me asking what I am supposed to do for my 200th post! I know some of you people do special things on blog anniversaries, and I missed my 100th, so I thought I would do a special next post. But I have no idea what one does for a 200th post. Will someone who knows things about blogging please tell me what to do?! I'd much appreciate it.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Life Right Now

It's not that unusual for me to be an inconsistent blogger and I'm not apologizing for it, but I'll explain where I've been the last couple of weeks. Joel was in Africa all last week, and I'm too easily-frightened to announce to the (unknown) internet world when I'm home alone like that. But it was quite a week for me. I learned SO much, and I'm still processing it all this week. Joel went along with our missions pastor at our church to Mombasa, Kenya and taught at a pastors conference where over a hundred pastors from all over Kenya came to learn and get training. It was an incredible time for him...he's still processing through it all and sharing little bits of it here and there, but I think the highlights for him were gaining a first-hand perspective on what life and culture is like in another part of the world like that and seeing their needs, experiencing in a big way real dependence on the Holy Spirit to give him words to say as he taught, and having a significant conversation, in which he shared his faith, with another traveler in the airport who doesn't know Christ. This was his first mission trip to take, and he really loved the experience. It was all good. I knew it would be.

Then why did I dread it so much?!

I'll tell you why. I'm a selfish person who gets easily distracted from choosing to have God's perspective on things. I don't like feeling left out. And I don't like releasing "control" of the care of those I love. Like I have any control whatsoever. What a joke.

So while I said I was happy for him being able to go to Africa and experience this, I only half-meant it. I pretty much had been dreading the week he'd be gone ever since I knew about the trip last spring. I pushed it out of my mind because the truth is, I was really struggling with it all...him being able to go and me not being able to go. And I knew that at some point I'd have to face it and deal with this struggle head-on. And we all know how fun that can be. I needed to really express my emotions to the Lord, seek His perspective, and let go of this resentment inside of me. I just waited and waited to do it until I had to. Never a good plan, by the way. A lot of life gets wasted when you wait to do what God wants. A LOT.

So a few days before he left, I talked for the first time about how I was feeling to my friend Holly. She's one of those friends who speaks truth into your life, and in doing it, she's extremely bold and humble at the same time. I love it! As I was whining about the fact that I wasn't getting to join Joel on his first mission trip...an adventure that we began talking a few years ago about doing together...and how left out I felt, she directly said to me, "God has this week for Joel. But He has this week for you too. He has good things planned for you this week that you can only receive as you are at home by yourself and not in Africa. This week is for you too." Such simple truth. And I so needed to hear it. Badly. I realized in an instant that I had started to believe something about God's character that just isn't true. I didn't consciously think I was doing this, but I was living like God had overlooked me. Like He was making me suffer. Like He wasn't sovereign. Or like I just didn't appreciate His sovereign choices. Instead of living like He loved me and ordained specific plans just for me. Beautiful plans. And like He wanted to draw me to Him. And keep my attention for awhile. And teach me things. And I'm so glad I chose that day to seek His perspective on the week. I'm so thankful He redirected my thoughts. I made a decision that I was going to live the week abundantly and every day seek out what He had for me.

And it was an amazing week. A focused week. I need to have more of those. The reading for the week from that book I mentioned, Devotional Classics, was from John Baillie's Book of Prayers, and it was a segment called "Morning Prayers." He wrote different prayers to be prayed at the start of every day for a week, and it was such a good practice for me. Because I reserve my Bible study for later in the day when my kids are sleeping, it is easy to go through half the day or more before ever really focusing my mind on practicing the presence of God and inviting the Holy Spirit in. So having something to do each morning, even short and simple, to help my perspective get there, was very helpful and it's something I need to commit to every week even when John Baillie isn't leading me there! So that is probably one of the reasons why it was such a good week in spite of being so hard. And in having a week where I slowed down, spent more time alone, and made myself deal with my sad feelings, I spent more time at the feet of Jesus than I had in a while. And the Lord sure is sweet to us when we are in that place. He overwhelmed me with His love and totally convinced me that I was never supposed to go to Africa this time and there is a reason why Joel had to go himself. I don't understand all of it, but I'll share what I do know:

You see, I have long had a passion for missions, but it's been put on the shelf for a few years. I'm not talking about missions in general but specific foreign-related opportunities. I've traveled and then I decided I didn't need to do that for a while. I wanted to live that purposefully-missions-oriented right where I am before I go somewhere else to be that way. So I took a "break" for a few years, but in the last couple of years, my desire to go somewhere and make missions a bigger priority in my life has grown tremendously. And I just haven't quite known what to do with that. I mean, we're here. Our life is here. Our work and ministry is here. What God has for us is here. So how do I go there? I don't. So what do I do with that desire that is believed to be God-given? I wait.

It hasn't been a hard wait. I rather like life here, so I haven't felt like it's been empty or anything is missing or wrong. I've just had this underlying feeling that one day there would be a new dimension to our lives, one that includes more of an interest and investment in what's there instead of just here. Whatever that might look like. I have ideas as to what I want that to look like, but I have no reason to believe it's what God has in store for me or my family. So I try not to think about that much. I just definitely feel a big draw towards a lot of things God is doing in other places and I certainly am "itching" to go on some trips!

So, here I am...trying to conclude this post. Been trying for days. But I'm still thinking through a lot of this, so this is all I've got so far. I'm learning a lot about prayer through this experience, learning to trust God to accomplish the desires that He's placed in my heart. And there's been a huge element of learning the freedom that comes with recognizing that GOD is the one who ignites my husband's passion for this...NOT ME....that I don't have to be in Africa with him for him to hear from the Lord on this. Big lesson for me! And I've been reminded that the Lord is big enough to work out all of this without me even knowing a bit of it beforehand. So...my week not being in Africa turned out pretty beautifully. Even for me too.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

A Chair Makeover

Here's a chair I bought at a friend's moving sale, before I gave it some love:

To make it more "me', I just had to stain that light wood a darker color! And I recovered the seat:


And it was cheap! Chair was $7 and the fabric was left over from that yard I got for $2.99 for the window mistreatment project. So with very little money and time spent, there's room for one more rear end to sit in my family room!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Reading and Loving It

Well, I've finished some books recently and started a new one. Hopefully I'll get some reviews up here soon. But I'm kind of behind again in life, so we'll see. But let me tell you about the one I just started that I LOVE: Devotional Classics. I highly recommend it. Highly. Click on the link I have under my reading section to order it from Amazon. Lisa, a lady that is mentoring me, is going through this book with me, and I'm loving what I've read so far. It's a compilation of excerpts from different authors who have written various Christian devotional classics. SO AMAZING. Each excerpt is short, includes a brief passage of Scripture at the end of that excerpt for you to study more in depth on your own if you want, and it gives reflection and/or small group questions. Do you read "old" books? I say you should! Cultivating that as a practice has been a relatively new thing in my own life but one that is probably the most significant and rewarding for my spiritual life/practicing the disciplines of the faith, with the exception of learning how to actually study Scripture itself. Since I have this bad habit of starting about 50,000 books at a time and it taking 20 years to finish each one, I am usually in over my head with reading, trying to multi-task in my learning. I'm not a good multi-tasker by the way. But for the last couple of years, I've made it a priority to always be reading at least one old book. I've found this year that I usually have more old books going than new. It's so refreshing to realize that the things that seem to "work" today in the Christian life are not new. These authors can help us! They've been through a lot, and I'm always amazed when reading them to see how little culture really has changed. It seems to surprise me every time. But I realize that human nature hasn't changed over time. So how could culture, when it's comprised of individual human beings living together, making up societies? (Same for all classics, not just "Christian" ones, but for now I'm just addressing the Christian classics since that's what this book is about!) With our community group at church, I just re-read one of my favorite books, The Jesus of Suburbia, but as I continue to read more of the old books, I realize that while some of the ideas in the Jesus of Suburbia book seem at first to be radical and new, they're not. The Jesus portrayed in that book is the same Jesus so many brilliant authors knew and loved and wrote about. Why wait for some big-name Christian author to write a New York Times Bestseller before we learn how to grow? Help in spiritual growth is already there. And it's been there a long time. It's so easy to relate to what these authors of the great devotional classics are saying and teaching. It is SO relevant. I just really love old books, if you can't tell. I like a lot of new ones too. But I noticed the other day that even my favorite "new" author (meaning still alive and more recently published), Gary Thomas, is such a student of these old books and seems to quote the old guys so much that even his books don't really say anything new! I have a thing for the old. I'm a nerd, what can I say. But I really will try to influence my friends to join in this passion. So be ready! I wanted to share something I read from one of the excerpts, but that will come later, because now I don't have time and I really wanted to first share some things from the introduction that talks about what I've been trying to express; Richard Foster just does it better!

"We today suffer from the unexamined notion that the more recent something is, the better, the more true it must be. This book is our attempt to counter this present-day myopia. It brings together fifty-two carefully chosen selections from the great devotional classics....The word classic has gotten bad press in our day. If a book is a "classic" we immediately think it must be obscure, hard to read, and most certainly out of touch with modern concerns. As Mark Twain aptly notes, it is the kind of book that "everyone wants to have read but no one wants to read." In reality, however, for a writing to be a classic means simply that many people over a sustained period of time have drawn strength from its insights and witness to its value...It is a genuine asset to be soaked in the devotional classics. Pure modernity makes us parochial. But these writings have vintage. They are weaned from the fads of the marketplace. They give us perspective and balance. C.S. Lewis notes, 'A new book is still on trial, and the amateur is not in a position to judge it...The only safety is to have a standard of plain, central Christianity, which puts the controversies of the moment in their proper perspective. Such a standard can only be acquired from old books. It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between.' ...A word of instruction needs to be given about reading these devotional classics. These writers make no attempt to grab you quick and hold you tight. They have no intention of tickling your ears and titillating your fantasies. They promise no easy steps to instant holiness, no guaranteed plan for personal prosperity, no surefire technique for peace of mind. Since these men and women wrote before the modern notion of speed-reading, they did not know to fill each paragraph with trite cliches and meaningless jargon. As a result, each phrase is pregnant with meaning and it is best to read at a measured pace, pausing often to reread, rethink, reexperience the words until we not only understand their meaning but are shaped by the truth of them."

Yeah!!!

And when these kinds of books get hard to work through and reading them requires a little bit of support or verbal processing, that's what good friends at a coffee shop are for!

What about you? What are some of your favorite "oldies"?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Updates and Lots of Pictures

Well, it's been a busy week around here. We've graduated to only semi-hermit mode. I'm starting to feel like I can take my kid back in public. Just not for long at a time. =) No, Jonah has been doing great. I'm so thankful. But I want so much to remember the lessons learned the last couple of months about desperation for the Lord's guidance and constant dependence in prayer. I don't want to forget to pray urgently for my child even when the need doesn't feel quite as urgent.

Parker has been changing tons the last two weeks. She's eating cereal now and is rolling over and is so much more alert and trying to be active. I've had some sudden milk supply issues this week which will surely shorten how long I can nurse her. It makes me sad! She's the same age as Jonah was when I started having problems producing enough milk for him. I am ok with it, I just didn't want the end to come so suddenly. I finally realized yesterday morning that this process of stopping provides the explanation for my emotional weirdness this week. There have been times I've wanted to cry for NO reason at all. I haven't lost it yet, but I feel on the verge. I'm so hormonal! Ugh. Maybe my family should stop taking ME in public for a while!

Below are kid pics and some from a friend's wedding last weekend. The bride, Amber, was one of my best friends in high school (from 7th grade actually) and we were roommates in college. She was one gorgeous bride and her wedding was absolutely beautiful and FUN. I was able to see high school friends I hadn't seen in a really long time and also some of my best college girlfriends. There were five of us at DBU that were close, and we hadn't all been together in 4 years. Way too long! I love when friendships are strong enough to just pick back up and be very comfortable after a long period of distance. I enjoy these girls just as much as I did back in our college days even though we are all in different stages in life, locations, etc. But as of this summer, we're all back in Texas at least. So these reunions should happen more often! We laughed so much that night. Good times.

First time eating cereal, not so sure about it then:


Got him trained! It really helps that Jonah can give her a bottle when we're in the car too! But this was his first time to really feed her by himself, and he was happy:
Enjoying but not yet jumping in her johnny-jump up:
Yes, EVERY game day my kids look like this:
My daughter likes to read! What could be better to this mom?! =) This is how she looked when I came back into her room yesterday after putting Jonah down for a nap, like she was really into this little book:
And now for the wedding fun.


Left to right, Angela, me, Leighann, and Lizzy:
The sweet couple:

In college, everyone thought Leighann and I were sisters because supposedly there's some resemblance. We've never really seen it, but we heard that anytime we went anywhere together! Some crazy people even thought we were twins. So we took this picture to see if we "still look alike":


The five of us were the cheerleaders from our class for three consecutive weird years:

And we'd all be sad if this girl didn't catch the bouquet! Erin was one stunning bridesmaid:
And because I love you, I'll leave you with these:

Oh yeah. Betcha wish your husband had moves like these!