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. upright, so you can get wisdom.


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


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. =)