Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Beginnings of Parker's Nursery

Ok, this week I got the crib sheet we ordered, so I threw it and the crib skirt on the baby bed. Obviously, it needs some ironing work, but I had to just go ahead and see what the pieces looked like together, since I didn't know if they'd match. They do! I think I'm going to use a light pink solid-colored bumper with it. I have to admit....I'm really giddy over this!

Here's the sheet up close:

I've been blessed with some great deals on Parker's nursery bedding. So good that you wouldn't believe me if I told you. So I'm hoping that with what I save, I can splurge on something like this. Joel isn't exactly all the way on board with that idea yet, but I'm pretty sure he will be. =) So, for those of you who have been asking me about nursery decorating plans, there's you a little update.

One little thing about Jonah before I end this know that old Sunday-school song that goes, "I've got joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart. Where? Down in my heart..."? Well, he's been singing that lately. But I've realized that the meaning of this particular fruit of the Spirit is going to be a little complicated for us to teach Jonah due to the fact that he has a great-aunt named Joy. The first time he sang that song on his own, he finished and then excitedly said, "Let's do Joe now," referring to my aunt Joy's husband, of course. He sang the entire song again but inserting Joe's name every time the word "joy" came up. Yesterday, I overheard him singing, "I've got daddy, daddy, daddy, daddy down in my heart..."
I do not doubt that this will make for some very interesting theological discussions at some point whenever we decide to address it. For now, it's ok with me. It makes me smile!

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Weakness is a word that has been going through my mind the last few weeks. More specifically, the notion of embracing personal weakness has been something God has been impressing upon my heart. Through recent insightful comments by friends and various things I've read, I've been reminded of the necessity of weakness in allowing God to display His power in our lives. It's not like I haven't known that in my head. One of my favorite Scriptures says it clearly. But it seems like lately God is really wanting me to experience it. And He's certainly not withholding opportunities to teach me how to make that a reality in my life! Part of me is ready to scream, "I get it, God! You can stop now!" but I know that He's right. Embracing my weakness really is the only way to be strong. I'm starting to taste it a little. And it is good. But taking a position of lowness and being ok in it is still an act that is contrary to the desires of the human nature. So, it's a struggle. To say the least. But earlier this month, I experienced something that amazed me. I was suddenly in an unexpected battle, fearing that overcoming its hurt and disappointment would be a process that might never end. I was shocked by the immediacy of the healing God graciously poured out to me, and He made me realize that it resulted from a lack of effort on my own part to make the situation right. See, I didn't have a clue how to do that. I was in a place where I had no answer. No great idea for how to overcome this one. No insight into how healing might come. No direction. No understanding of what the next moment would bring or how to endure it. There was nothing in me that could fix this. And I knew it right away. Confessing my inability to deal with it was really the only thing God needed. I don't know why I was surprised by it, but He actually healed my heart before I ever had a clue as to how He was going to do it. I realized something about myself: that I tend to look for how He's going to do something before just surrendering to however He wants to do something. I usually rely on my own understanding of what I think He can do (maybe based on what I've seen Him do before), and while I'm tricking myself into thinking I'm looking to Him for help, I'm actually just looking no further than myself. It limits me in receiving His power, I know. I get just a little more what the apostle Paul is saying. God waits for us to come to a place where all we can say is, "I've got nothing, Lord. Nothing. I have no solution. No way to endure this. Nothing. All I have is you." Certainly, there are times He mercifully steps in to save us from our destructive self-centered striving before we actually ever get to the place of brokenness on our own. So sweet of Him. But I'm convinced that when we refuse to go there on our own, we tend to just delay the beautiful things He wants to do in our lives, especially His provision of grace and strength and peace and healing. The kind that just blows us away. The miraculous kind.

I've mulled over this some over the last month, and I'm writing about it this afternoon as an exercise in reminding myself of these truths. I hit a wall of frustration today and I started to have a big temper tantrum over it as I sat in my living room, just me and God. I was disappointed in not seeing results in ministry efforts. It doesn't usually bother me to not see positive fruits from ministry (I guess because that's more common - sometimes you just aren't in a place where you get to see them every time), but seeing negative results can be very hard for me. It breaks me. It just makes me angry at satan for how he works and deceives and distracts. I hate the feeling of pouring yourself into something that you know is what God wants and being certain of His good plans only to find that nothing changes and people aren't helped. I've just had one of those afternoons where I've been discouraged in the ministry that I so love. That's just the reality of how I've felt. And the reality of what God has shown me is this: I must remember that weakness is OK! Being in a place where I am confused about my role or frustrated by lack of results is the very place He wants me to be, as long as I turn to Him in dependence. Laying down my desires, hopes, visions, and specific expectations is crucial. Not knowing what to do next really is ok. Not knowing when to push or when to hold back is ok. Not having anything in me that is up to the task of persevering is ok. So, here I am again, admitting that I have nothing. Nothing to give people. No back-up plan for the plans satan has thwarted. NOTHING.

And strangely, that gives me hope. Because I know God will show His power. My sad emotions are still lingering a little, and my heart will need some work to untangle myself from what God wants to do....but I know He's going to do something. So my heart is encouraged, and I wait for God to do the thing He has planned. The thing that I have no idea how to do myself or even how He'll do it.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sugar and Spice shower

Today I helped host a baby shower for a friend Stephanie, who is expecting a baby girl in about 5 weeks, and it was lots of fun. I had a great time "decorating" for it....although it was a collaborative effort and I stole lots of people's ideas! I owe thanks to the other hostesses who helped pull it all together, my friend Shelly for the brainstorming help when my creative juices were just not flowing, and my mom, my aunt Joy, and Shelly again for lending me different dishes and serving pieces. Also, my mom and her friend Karen came over for some last-minute help making pretty bows for the diaper cake - what a lifesaver! With all the ladies in my family who can make beautiful bows, how that gene skipped over me, I don't know....but I'm bitter about it. Things didn't exactly go as planned today...the building we were using to host the shower was locked and no one was there to let us in, so it cut our set-up time in half. It should have been more stressful than it was, I guess. I realized something...I really enjoy throwing parties! Not even the set-backs were enough to get me in a bad mood today. There's just something so fun about putting together the decorative details and special touches to a celebration like this. It was done on a budget, that's for sure, and the decorations were nowhere close to professional-looking, but I think the more "homemade", personal touches show lots of love, and I'm really glad for how things went today. It was so fun doing this for our sweet friend Stephanie. I thought I'd post some pictures for anyone who might like ideas for hosting baby showers. I always get inspiration from what others do! No, I pretty much copy the ideas I like. That's the real truth. But anyway, these pictures are not very good, as I just took a few quick snaps and rushed on to other tasks. I'm sad I didn't get very good ones...or even one with the momma-to-be-of-honor! We went with a "sweets" theme, complete with little desserts as the menu and a color scheme of pink and brown.

Here are the adorable invitations my friend Jenny made (if you can see them ok):

Here's the center table that held the food:

Here it is from another side, not that you probably care:

I forgot to get one of the whole room, but we had 4 other tables surrounding the one with the food. Each outer table had a centerpiece that looked something like this:

Whew. With all the details I've been working on this week for the Bible study coordination and for this shower, I've pushed aside so many other important things. Namely, all tasks related to household management. Taking a week "off" is brutal to this house. Nothing is in order, and tons of laundry needs to be done. My family is ready for me to be back. And it's past time. But before I sign off to sign over my life for the evening to the dishes in my sink, I just want to praise the Lord for the healthy arrival of Jennifer's sweet baby Cole. When I heard about her water breaking last night and that she would be having this baby boy today, I couldn't get them off my mind today. She wasn't due until March 5th, I believe, or close to that. But God answered prayers and watched over his development, as he was born weighing 5 lbs. 8 oz., an excellent weight for a 5-week early baby! I had a little anxiousness for them today, and I'm so relieved to know that everything is ok and that baby is doing so well! Can't wait to meet him...hopefully on our next trip to Oklahoma. Congratulations, Chris and Jennifer!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Yesterday was an interesting day. I decided not to think about it until today. I just didn't want to. One year ago yesterday was the day I found out that my pregnancy with our second child had ended in miscarriage. It has really been a year. I cannot wrap my head around how much time has gone by since then. As I drove downtown yesterday morning, I passed by The Children's Park, which is a beautiful courtyard created to celebrate the lives of children who are in heaven or still on earth. It's a wonderful place that many in this town go to remember the child they have lost, and it is a place that I have retreated to several times over the past year as I have poured out my heart to the Lord, in grieving and in hoping. I haven't been in quite a while, but passing by in my car yesterday brought back a flood of memories in just a few seconds. Memories that I like and memories that I don't like. I started to let myself linger a little longer in remembering that day a year ago, but I decided to push it aside for a time. Today, I'm embracing it a little more, but I'm questioning how it is that I'm supposed to think about it. I mean, what do you even do with an anniversary-date like that?

It's not even the day my child went to Heaven. Only God knows when that was. So the date itself has little to do with the child. But it does have everything to do with my life being changed. In an instant. My dreams for my family were gone, and what I desired was being denied. Not only were my hopes shattered, but my entire belief system was shaken to the core. I was forced to decide if I believe God to be worthy of asking me to give up the things dearest to me. If He was who He said He was (and who I had always affirmed He was), then He was completely in the right for asking me to set aside my deepest desires. What he began to teach me included but had much more to do with surrender of all kinds of things other than that one child I never knew. Embracing that loss and allowing Him to show me His glory through it meant that I had to be ok with giving up anything for His sake. That was the hardest part. Letting go of what He hadn't actually asked me to let go of yet; He only wanted my willingness to let go.

The seven months following my miscarriage were intensely difficult because of this very struggle going on. The struggle to be willing to lay everything down for His sake. Even the most precious people in my life. So one year ago yesterday was the beginning of a new journey. A journey through something much more than grief. It was learning a whole new way to live. A surrendered life. A life that plans and dreams only as Christ leads and a life that hopes and expects only as He assures. The journey remains. I fully expect it to until the day I die.

Yes, the battle between living for Him or for myself will continue for a lifetime. But I'm so thankful that there is power for it now and that there exists the guarantee of some glorious relief after that. I didn't think about those things very much prior to one year ago. Heaven wasn't on my mind a lot. I didn't really believe God would mess with my dreams and plans, so I thought little about the kinds of suffering that would be hardest for me to go through. The wives of the couples in our community group have been all studying 1 Peter on our own, and we meet twice a month to discuss it. It has been a special time in the Word for me personally. The entire book has to do with suffering really, and the point of what I have studied so far is that we can't endure suffering without maintaining a perspective of hope. And not hope like we think of hope. The hope Peter talks about is different. Hope that is sure belief, full assurance, a guarantee of what is to come. Hope is really us counting on what is our future, namely the completion of our salvation in heaven and the inheritance reserved for us. So, learning to cultivate a perspective on time and eternity that brings into focus the glory of what Christ holds for us in Heaven is absolutely essential to life on this earth and survival of pain. And I hadn't thought much about those things prior to January 22nd, 2007.

So this journey has been sweet. The perspective change - refreshing. But the surrender - excruciating. The actual process is quite painful, and thankfully God knows that and is always willing to pour out loads of grace to help us through it. But the surrender He calls us to is good. It's for His glory, but I'm convinced it's used for our good as well. Its very invitation forces us out of lukewarmness, one way or the other. And because we habitually creep back towards the middle, new opportunties for surrender keep raising their ugly heads. Sometimes, surrender is the only way I even know how to worship God. Some times, it's the only thing my heart knows to do.

So I guess if there's another way I'm supposed to look at the meaning of yesterday's date, I don't want to know it. It is a date on a calendar that represents something huge in my life story, but I choose to look at it as the measure that it is. A measure of time God used in my life to bring me into just a little clearer understanding of the difficulty of the call given to His followers and the absolute worthiness of the One who calls.

Note: In changing my template, I lost my links. Sorry about that. I'll get them back up there soon.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

A Gift

I got a gift today from my husband. I'm typing from it right now. Yep, my very own laptop! It's cute and brown with its very own fun case/bag. I'm ecstatic! I've wanted one for so long, and this gift is the biggest surprise I've had in a long time! But my sweet husband wanted to communicate his love for me, and boy did he! It's more than just giving me a nice thing. There are things I've wanted to accomplish in my life that would be easier to do with a new computer, so he's communicating more than just thoughtfulness and love. It's about supporting my goals and encouraging me in my dreams. It's about joining me in them. It's more of a gift of love than I know how to describe. But I have to write about it because I'm going crazy about it right now and because my hubby needs to know: I LOVE HIM. Thank you, Joel. I'm not sure I will ever be able to convey my gratitude. But I'll be trying though!

Does this mean I'll post more on the blog? We shall see. =)

In other news, Jonah has spent three nights in his big boy bed, and it's gone really well so far! I think he's pretty unsure about his new surroundings, so he's not daring to get out of bed at night. He's just a little cautious like that. He's so proud of himself though. He really gets that he's big now and is reminding me of it all the time. I am just a little sad now. I forgot to think about life after the crib. There's nothing left that's baby about him! I can't believe it. He really is not a baby anymore. I don't think I was ready for that realization! So I'm a tad emotional about this life change. I just expected more of a process, and it's seemed like he's just all of a sudden changed so much. I wasn't planning to have him nap in the bed yet, but he was so proud of his nighttime accomplishment that he was going to have no more of the crib. He tested the first day at naptime and got up out of bed before we came to get him, and he realized that he really would have the consequence that was told him. He hasn't tried again! Yesterday and today, he's taken a good nap. It's good. Doing both naptimes and bedtime in the new bed seems more consistent with our whole approach/plan, so I'm good with that. Plus, I'm thinking that he won't be taking naps much longer anyway. For over a month now, he's skipped nap more than he's taken it. At first, I was sad about it, thinking about how I was definitely not ready for my two year old to outgrow naps yet. But I'm starting to see the benefit of it for us. When Parker comes, I won't have to wait so many months before she's on a consistent napping schedule that coincides with his naptime. I've seen some of my friends have a long time before they get both kids napping at the same time. So, if he's having quiet time with toys in his bed instead of napping, I can put him down whenever I want. It could make life easier. I don't know. But some days, he still really needs a nap, so we'll wait to start the training process for quiet time in the bed. I expect it to be a training process because I don't think my son knows the meaning of the word quiet. If at all possible, I'd really like for him to learn it before the baby gets here! But all in all, he's sleeping better and longer since being in his big boy bed, and that restfulness has made for some much more pleasant days around here this week. He's been a blast.

Now. If THAT didn't bore you to death....

I can't escape this feeling of new energy this week. A feeling of freshness that comes at those times when different new things are starting. Our women's Bible studies start next week, and I've worked so much today on updating our inventory of resources and designing a new process to be implemented concerning materials. It's been a tedious that usually stresses me out, to be honest. I do love me a label maker. And I have been known to get excited by the process of alphabetizing. But I'm not much of an administratively-gifted person. Details can kill me at times. And this has been an extremely detailed process. But this time it's a little different. I think because I know the end result of all of this work will be that we'll be ready to help more women get into the Word. And that's just one of the things I'm most passionate about. So I love the feeling that 12 classes will start next week. 12 classes of women studying the Bible together. Some women have been in love with the Lord for more years than I've been alive, and they just keep studying the Bible because they know what it takes to nurture a relationship like that. Some women will have no idea where the book of Genesis is, and next week will be the very beginning of a sweet journey for them. I'm expecting it because I've seen God do it before. I love knowing that He will have so much opportunity to work in lives and do His thing. Revealing Himself in a personal way. I'm personally excited for what He has for me. I'm taking a study that's based on truths I really don't know much about at all, and I'm thrilled to learn. I know I'll be sharing some of that adventure with you once the class starts.

Gotta go. Must get Tums. At the moment, my heart is a-burnin'......

Friday, January 18, 2008


Really??? I can't even believe it snowed today. Where did that come from?! Of course, it didn't last long and it didn't come close to "sticking," but there were a couple of times today where actual snowflakes fell. I liked it. It was a sweet little encouragement to me that there are beautiful things that come even when it's miserably cold and blah out. My definition of miserably cold is pretty wimpy. But still, I don't much enjoy it. It makes me want to do nothing but curl up in a ball. Then I don't want to exist in any way apart from my little cozy ball. Seriously, I'm typically a go-er. (Great word.) It's pretty rare for me to just want to be still. But on cold winter days, I'm so content to stay inside. Too bad staying inside makes everyone that has to be around me want to go crazy. But today I'm sort of embracing life in my little ball. I don't plan to leave the house at all. For as long as I can hole up in here, I'm gonna. We'll eat frito pie for dinner, because that's just what you do on a day that has snow. At least, that's what we do. And after Jonah goes to bed, I'm going to sit on the couch in comfy lounge pants with lots of blankets, eating too much chips and guacamole, and watch a yet-to-be-determined movie with my husband. Surprisingly, it all sounds so very dreamy!

Here's a question for you mommies...I was looking online at nursing covers, and I'm curious as to what kind/brand is best. With Jonah, I just went with the whole use-a-blanket-to-cover plan when I was somewhere I needed to nurse more discreetly. But after an embarrassing flashing incident on an airplane, I'm pretty much ok with abandoning that method now. I'm wanting a nursing cover to use with Parker. And a really cute one at that! If you have one or know anything about which brands are best, I'd love to know! I would appreciate all the help I can get. I know nothing about them. Target has the following brands: Cover in Style Nursing Cover by Hooter Hiders, Peanut Shell, and Lait de Taule Nursing Cover. And then there's the official Hooter Hiders/Bebe au Lait brand that I think Elisabeth Hasselbeck recommended. And since I do think of her in a BFF-sort of way, I'd like to listen to her on this. But I'm really clueless as to what's the best here and figured I ought to do some research. So, help please!

Monday, January 14, 2008

What a Week

First of all, thanks for all of your congratulations!!! It's finally starting to sink in that we're having a girl. What's embarrassing is that she already has her wardrobe started. Cute little girly things. That's the life now, I guess. As was mentioned a few times in comments, the name we have chosen for our little girl is Parker Jane. I am soooo wanting May to be here.

Last week Joel had back-to-back retreats to attend, so Jonah and I made a roadtrip to keep from being alone while Joel was busy with work stuff. So, we went to Houston, and our first stop was to stay with Angela and her little girl Payten in Katy for a night. We did lots of shopping, talking, and laughing. Angela is the kind of friend that it doesn't really matter how long it's been since we've seen each other, we know we'll have fun and have LOTS to talk about when we do get together! And that's how it was. She was one of two girlfriends in Bartlesville who had babies within a month of when Jonah was born, so we have shared many pregnancy and new mom memories....seeing her and Paytie just brought back so many sweet memories of that precious time in life when we were just starting out on the whole motherhood road and those babies of ours were teeny tiny. Oh, back when they didn't embarrass us by dumping huge containers of sprinkles all over the floor at Chick-fil-A or take off running away from us in the mall while we chased after them. Or, say, throw cat food all over the floor or, you know, fill a bathtub with water, splashing in it with their clothes on. Twice. Ah, yes....times have changed. We had such a great the end, Angela and I were two tired mommies though! Those two played and played and were so hyper and active together that they pretty much exhausted us. And Jonah's behavior warranted so many disapproving looks from strangers while we were out and about that I'm not sure I can face the people of Katy, TX for a while! They all think I'm a bad mom. I just know it. But they did provide so many laughs as well! Another friend who used to live in Bartlesville with us and has also moved to Katy recently, Amanda, met up with us at the mall with her sweet punkin, and it was fun catching up with her...although it really wasn't long enough. I'm kicking myself for not having taken pictures of all the kids together. I'm hoping I can get them to come for a visit soon and us all go to Canton one weekend! I mean it, girls!! Thanks, Angela, for hosting us - and for the bag of adorable baby clothes you sent us home with!

Following our time with Angela (and after several wrong turns leaving her house), we went to stay with my cousin Lacey at her cute apartment in Houston. We picked up food from La Madeleine and hung out at her place, talking and catching up. The next day was her birthday, and we went out for breakfast. Before we left, her parents arrived with birthday cake, so we all celebrated before Jonah and I headed back home.

And Jonah with a bow on his head: ( this what Miss Parker might look like?)

It's so sad, but all my son ate that day prior to a 2:30pm drive-through run was a pop-tart, a cinnamon roll, and chocolate cake. I really do get the Bad Mommy award for last week. =) It was so worth it though...I had such a blast spending time with my son. He's used to long car rides (visiting Nanny and family in OK), but this was the longest trip that it's just been me and him. And he did really well! That was even minus the DVD player on the way home because I couldn't get it working. It's funny....the most content he was the entire trip was the 30 minutes we got stuck in traffic not moving at all when we first got into Houston on Thursday....he was fascinated by all of the big trucks and overpasses. City traffic was just a tad stressful for me, but it was so fun for him! Go figure.

Today was the first day of some pretty uneventful few weeks, or at least I'm expecting it to be. Last week before we left town, I rearranged a bunch of stuff and reorganized his toys. It's amazing how just moving around toys to new locations suddenly makes the old ones all interesting again! He played with his hot-wheels all morning long and didn't leave them until close to noon when he came to tell me he was hungry. This morning was a big first for our family. Joel got up with Jonah when Jonah awoke very early, but Jonah started playing with his cars and let me and Joel go back to sleep until 8:30!! It was amazing! It would be great if this were a new habit of his. I could get used to it. Of course, I'd only have a few months to enjoy, but I'll take it! Most of Jonah's things have been moved into his new room, and we will be starting the transition into the big-boy bed very soon. I had wanted to have it all decorated and ready before he moved into it, but I think I'm now ok with it just being a work in progress for a while (like all the rooms in my house!) because we're ready to make the move soon while our schedule is really slowing down for a few weeks. I'm sure you'll hear more about it soon! I'm more nervous about it than I was potty-training! Pray for us, if you think about it!! =)

Well, I'll just close with telling you how sweet the Lord has been to my heart over the last week or so. The several weeks prior to that contained several really intense battles for me. I was struggling to trust in the face of huge anxiety and was dealing with some very personal pain in regards to a hurtful relational situation. Contributing to those battles (or maybe partly due to those battles) was me grinding my teeth at night which resulted in a broken tooth. And I'm not normally scared of the dentist, but this time, I was terrified due to being pregnant. It sounds little, but it was a huge and very intense opportunity for me to put into practice what all the Lord taught me and reminded me through my Bible study last fall. I was broken, completely having to trust Him for whatever He had planned for the life of my baby....dealing with the very real fears I had that whatever dental work was necessary could harm my child and jeopardize my pregnancy. It was a tremendously hard place for me to be. So, for a few days I was definitely pretty emotional! But it was good. It forced me to fall at the feet of the only one who can really heal. And the only Scripture that kept running through my head when I was in a pit of anxiety was the sweet verse in Zephaniah that says,

"The LORD your God is with you,
he is mighty to save.
He will take great delight in you,
he will quiet you with his love,
he will rejoice over you with singing."

So I decided to cling to it. And rest in it. Even while my emotions were a little crazy. And the amount of calming that the Lord did for me so soon after placing that Scripture on my heart just amazed me. I kept thinking how He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to take my healing by Truth so far into my emotional life...and so quickly. What I mean is that the healing wasn't the change in my emotions; it was the change in my perspective as my mind was renewed with truth (and my thoughts replaced by His.) It was a real blessing. And I felt it. And for that, I am thankful. The morning that I went to my ultrasound was the first morning in a couple of weeks prior that I awoke from having slept well and not feeling beaten down emotionally. I felt fresh. I didn't know what to expect at the doctors appointment - I think I probably mostly expected to hear some bad news. But what I did hear and see was far more exciting than receiving the news of this baby's gender. Finding out what it was wasn't what I was waiting for that day. I'm so thankful that beyond the blessing of seeing a healthy baby at this point, God also blessed me with sweet heart-encouragement throughout the experience....the kind that only makes me want more. So I'm just a little hungrier this week for the Word and for His presence. It's great how His grace works that way. What a motivator grace is.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Oh My...It's a Girl!!!

That's right. We're going to have a daughter! Everyone who gave a prediction said girl, so I know most of you aren't too surprised. We're so thrilled, of course, to know that God decided it would be best for us to have a girl. I'm still in shock. Joel says I'm in denial. I'm really not. I just had a hard time believing it at first. I kept asking the technician how she could be sure and how she knows the two "girl parts" she's looking for aren't those other two "guy parts" we saw on Jonah. I was a little neurotic at the doctor's office I think, but Dr Fanning said the sonogram technician had never been wrong, and she'd been there for several years. "Well, great...I'll be the first one she gets wrong," I thought. But seriously, I'm starting to believe it. Just not enough to get rid of Jonah's clothes and bedding until after she's here! But it's sinking in more and more. She. SHE. She's a She! Wow. Well, I told many of you that if God gave me a daughter, it would be because He knows what will keep me on my knees! And I definitely feel that is true today. I'm already lifting up her little heart to the Lord, asking Him to protect it and grow her to be a strong woman of influence with a sweet heart for Him. Even though I'm a little scared of a "little Hannah," I'm filled with excitement and joy and I'm ready to meet our little girl!!! It's such an amazing rush when you see all of your baby's organs and watch them move inside of you - there's a sense in which I feel like I know her already. Wow, this girl thing will really be different. What a great journey it will be! We are blessed.

I get to buy hair bows now. YAY!

Sunday, January 6, 2008

The Longest Christmas Celebration Ever!

We had such a great experience this holiday! It JUST ended though! I have so many pictures to post that I don't know that I can write very much about all we did. Bur of course, I'll try. =) But it was very special, and Jonah was such a sweetheart through it all. Our first family Christmas celebration was with my mom's side of the family. My aunts, uncle, cousins and their kids all met in Athens for our usual wacky get-together. Really, it gets a little loud and crazy, and I wouldn't want it any other way. It's one of my favorite days of the year! We play crazy games and just laugh a whole lot. Jonah just loves my cousin's kids from Lufkin and is so excited to play with them. We played this game where there were four teams, and one person from each team was the reindeer. The reindeer wore on their head a pair of pantyhose with a hole cut in between the legs, and his team members raced to blow up balloons and stuff it into the pantyhose legs to make antlers. As you can tell below, Jonah was the reindeer for his team.

Sweet Reese and her cutie-pie belly:

Following games, a delicious meal, and a gift exchange, my aunt Joy and Joe presented all the kids with their Christmas gift, which was a horse-drawn trailer ride around the neighborhood to look at the Christmas lights. It was such a special treat! We bundled up and went for a ride:

My cousin Lacey and her boyfriend Ben:

The next day, Jonah and I rode with my parents to Lufkin to spend Christmas Eve afternoon with my dad's side of the family. It had been a number of years since I'd been to a family gathering there, so it was a good time. But it was quite a scary night. My cousin Melody had a seizure and fell out of a barstool and hit the hard floor with her face. Thankfully, she is ok. At the time, we had no idea what had happened, figured it was a seizure, but since she hadn't had one before, you wondered if it could be a stroke. But all tests and brain scans came back clear. It was just one of those reminders of how quickly things can change. One second, everything is ok, and the next, everything has changed. I couldn't stop thinking about how blessed I am every second that things are ok! I certainly was reminded to take time to appreciate every dear person I was with this Christmas and to value those relationships above any activity of the holidays. Joel was busy at church with Christmas Eve services, and next year, we will be joining him there. But this year, I decided it would be a good opportunity to see the Luces, since childcare wasn't available for the church services and I was a little scared of how Jonah would act in a quiet, worshipful setting at this age!

Then, we had our first Christmas morning to not travel anywhere after doing our own little family celebration. Jonah had fun with what Santa brought him. It was a sweet experience with the two boys I love...I treasure the memories of what Jonah's little attitude was like that day. He was precious, not even knowing how to really be greedy or selfish at this point. I'm sure it will never be quite like that again! But it ministered to me, and it's always humbling when God uses your two-year old to model for you what you should be living but aren't! It was a perfect day together.

Following our own time opening gifts at home, we went over to my parent's house and celebrated with them. We ate waffles for dinner that my mom made with her new Belgian waffle maker, and Jonah graced us with the original performance of "the waffle dance" which he will happily do any time he thinks he might get to eat waffles in return. My parents' main gift to Jonah was a couple sets of these cardboard "brick" boxes. These were one of my favorite toys I never had from childhood! My friend Drew Pierce had them, and we used to always build cool forts and play all kinds of "war" games with them, so I was really excited about Jonah getting these. Later that night, my aunt and uncle Joy and Joe and my cousin Lacey came over. Joe and Joy competed against each other in making the tallest block towers ever - thanks for setting the bar so high for us in playing with these, guys!

A couple days later, we took off to Oklahoma and spent several days at Joel's mom's. That Saturday, all of Joel's family gathered together to celebrate, where we found ourselves blessed like crazy. My sweet sister-in-law Jen treated me to a manicure and pedicure at this great new place in Bartlesville (wish it had been there when I lived there!) and there's no better time that's appreciated than when you're pregnant! Too bad the girl doing my pedicure had to deal with my unshaven legs. I did feel bad about that. But it was incredibly relaxing and such a sweet gift. I think the place is called Stranded - for any of you Bville girls who may care to know. It's really cute. If I'm wrong, maybe Jen will feel compelled to comment on here and let you know what it is really called. =) We also had a celebratory dinner at our favorite Chinese restaurant there in honor of Joel completing the last of his hours towards his seminary degree. I'm so proud of my husband for this accomplishment. Also while in Bartlesville, we went over to Courtney's house and let Jonah and Jackson play together. They played so well together and are really quite funny! At one point it was quiet in the bedroom, so we went back to check and found them in the bathroom with the door closed, playing quietly in the bathtub. When they realized we had found them, they laughed so big like they had been playing a trick on us and considered themselves pretty funny. Too short of a visit, but it was good to see that sweet family.

Jonah and his cousin McKenna:

We came back in town on Tuesday night about five minutes after my brother and his family arrived at my parents' house. It was such a fun time with those kiddos. They are really changing and growing so much. Joel and I were talking tonight about how encouraging it is to see how they have grown up in so many ways....we've always respected Blake and Amy's parenting and discipline strategies, but it's great to see their work really pay off as their kids get older. It's just very encouraging to those of us who are still in the season of toddler tantrums! We celebrated Christmas with them on Wednesday, and Jonah had so much fun with his cousins. He cried this morning when they left. He was trying to hold in the emotion and be brave, but it was obvious that he was just heartbroken. Good-byes are getting much harder for him now that he actually understands that they live far away and realizes he won't see them for a long time. We're hoping he and I can go to Kentucky in March and meet the new little baby that's due next month - praying that that works out. But if it doesn't, it may be June before we see them again, and that's the longest we've ever gone between seeing them. I'd be one sad aunt if that happened. Good thing they have me praying for them to move back to Texas. =) Oh yes, speaking of their baby, Amy looks adorable. And tiny. It makes me just a little sick. Good thing she's sweet and I love her because now would be the perfect time to not like her! She makes one gorgeous pregnant woman. It's really fun when one of your family members points out that you look almost just as pregnant as your sister-in-law who's due three months before you. Yep. Fun times.

Sweet Maggie turned three on Friday, and it was fun to be able to be with her on her birthday. It involved going out for donuts, going to the Discovery Science Place where I had to put some mean little unsupervised kids in their place and make them wait their turn for things instead of stealing toys from my son, and eating cake and watching her open presents. Three year old girl toys really are cool. I'm a little jealous of her baby doll that turns her head to Maggie's voice when she holds her, makes sleeping sounds, and cries real tears. It was incredible! Anyway, that Mag Pie is really funny. Her personality has blossomed so much, and she just kept me laughing the whole week. She and Jonah really got along well this time. Nathan is changing really fast. He is still so intentional with Jonah though, loving him and playing sweetly with him as the big cousin. They left this morning, and we already are missing them a bunch.

We are looking forward to having a few days of nothingness going on. My house is a wreck from all of our travels and spending most of our waking hours at my parent's house the last week. So we need to get reorganized at this house and rest up. Tomorrow is our doctor's appointment and sonogram (20 weeks!), and later in the week, Jonah and I are making a trip to Houston to see my friend Angela and my cousin Lacey. So we just have a few days to re-energize, but starting next week, it will really slow back down for quite a while, which is what we need right now. I have had lots I've wanted to write about during the last few weeks, so hopefully soon there will be time for more blogging. For now, loads and loads of laundry are calling.