Thursday, December 27, 2012

Unexpected Christmas

God is so incredibly amazing!

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be a part of something so special, something beyond myself and even my family. At a local level, David and I were able to be part of the Unexpected Christmas Store by providing gifts for a family in need, but also by helping out at the store, wrapping gifts.

And collectively, as a church, we were able to give in an incredible way. Check out these videos.


Unexpected Christmas Store from Ridge Church on Vimeo.




This last video was shown at our Christmas Eve service. I didn't see a dry eye in the place.
What a beautiful thing.

Christmas: the short version; more to come at a later date

It's been a little crazy at my house this week. :)
We were gone from Friday until Monday, enjoying Christmas at Mimi and Papa's house on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and then at Grandpa and Grandma's house Sunday and Monday.
We went straight to church from Grandma's on Monday evening. Came home and went straight to bed so Santa could come.
Woke up on Tuesday morning (at 9:15! Thanks for the Christmas present, kids!) and enjoyed the bounty. :)
Grandma, Grandpa and Aunt B came over later that afternoon to see what Santa had brought.
I worked yesterday. I'm working today.
Xander has a stomach bug. :(
I haven't even had time to upload my pictures to my computer. And by my computer, I mean any computer, but especially my brand new MacBook Pro. Yippee!! What a surprise that was!
One day I'll have a chance to sit down and look at that thing...and upload pictures.
But until then, enjoy this one picture I happened to take with my phone.
My little boy was thrilled to have his very own rideable, Lightning McQueen.
Hope your Christmas was merry and bright!
 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Stop


A while back, Xander and I were making words with his letter cookies. I was so proud of him!
And then I started thinking about this particular word on a deeper level.
Stop.
Stop and think about your son sitting before you.
Stop and think about all the blessings God has given.
Stop and remember the greatest gift of all - Jesus.
Stop.
Just stop and listen.
Enjoy the moment.


Merry Christmas!



 
Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.


I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas this year!
We love y'all!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Teachable spirit

Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6

4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.[a] 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9

This has been on my heart over the past few days. This is what I strive for. I've heard this so many times, especially in certain sermons at Ridge church where we always talk about partnering with parents. And how important it is for us, as parents, to teach our children.

I know that I want my children to be teachable. I want them to love to learn. I want them to be humble and open and awestruck at the things they're learning.

And then it hits me. Something I've known and maybe...forgot?

They will only be teachable if I am teachable.

I'm their model right now. That scares me to death on most days, but there's no point in hiding from reality. The truth is that David and I have the most influence on our children right now. And since I'm home with them for basically all but 20ish hours per week -

I really am their biggest influence.

Wow. Soak that up for a minute.
This won't always be the case, so I want to make the most of the time I have to influence my kids.

Here are some things I've been doing with my kids - they're not a list of what you should or shouldn't be doing, they're just things I do. And I'm sure there are many other opportunities I'm missing to live out Christ with my kids. If you have any suggestions, please share!

*I pray with them whenever we get in the car. Just about the day or about something heavy on my heart or a prayer of thanksgiving for something really cool that happened. The fact is, I talk to God with my kids. And in the car, they're a captive audience. :)
*Xander, David and I pray together each night. We each take a turn. I can hear mine and David's words coming out in Xander's little boy speech. It's so sweet. And teaches me how small-minded and narrowly focused my views can be sometimes. :)
*I pray over Amelia Jayne, especially at nap and bedtimes.
*We pray together before meals. Just one more place to fit in prayers with my kiddos.
*I serve at church on Sundays and beyond. This is something I want my kids to learn. It's important that we serve others and live out our love for the Creator of the universe. I want to be a good example for them when it comes to my actions, as well as my words.
*I take my kids to church on a regular basis. Enough said.
*I send my kids to a Christ-centered preschool/daycare.
*I leave my kids with a babysitter every Wednesday night so that David and I can attend a small group. I know it sounds weird to say that I do this "with" my kids, when really I guess I do this for my kids. I think it shows them that time spent in fellowship with other Christians, studying God's word and learning more about Him is important. Xander uses "Bible study" and "small group" as part of his normal vocabulary now. :)

What things do you do with your kids to teach them to "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength?"



Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Littlest Angel



Xander and David went to see The Littlest Angel with Xander's preschool class last Thursday morning. They had a great time! I was working, but a nice thing about working at ImaginOn - I got to sneak in the theatre and watch my little man sit on the front row, enthralled with the happenings on the stage. My little angel is growing up so fast! I can't believe he's already going to plays and being such a big boy. One of the great things about his school being uptown is that they were able to walk from school to ImaginOn. It was great! I think my boys had a blast. :)

Heavy heart

My heart has been heavy regarding the recent shooting in Connecticut.
I don't really know what to say about it, but I can't get it off my mind and heart.
Those children were just babies.

I've been thinking about it ever since I found out.
On Saturday when I dropped my son off at a birthday party.
That morning while I was working at our "Unexpected Christmas" event at church.
While I was helping clean up after the event and on into the night so that we could have our first service in the new building.
On Sunday while I was sitting in the new building, listening to the worship band and praising Jesus.
While I was serving little children in our Waumba environment.
While I was driving my own children to our hometown church so they could watch Grandma and Ee-oo sing in the cantata.
Yesterday as I dropped my own sweet, innocent babies off at preschool.
Then when I picked them up.
As I got up and snuggled my baby girl this morning and then drove off to work.

Every activity I go through seems to remind me of how precious life is and the kind of world we live in.

You don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. James 4:14


Some of my friends said some things much better than I could articulate any of my own thoughts, so I'll let their words speak to you, as they did to me.

http://thejudyjourney.blogspot.com/2012/12/home.html

http://tashavia.blogspot.com/2012/12/dont-choose-fear.html

The Voice paid tribute to the victims with this beautiful rendition of "Hallelujah"

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Small Group

I just love our small group right now. We've been together for the past 15 months, and some of us even longer than that. We've had some rocky times and some ups and downs. Three of us in the group had babies within 6 weeks of each other last September-October. That led to us missing a lot of group times. Another girl had a baby last May. Another is pregnant now. That makes it nice to have folks in the same stage of life, and challenging because we're all trying to figure this whole parenting thing (read: babysitter thing) out.
We've been learning some great things, though. We've been sharing life together, which is what it's all about. I'm thankful to have these wonderful people in my life. These people I can open up to, love, pray for and with, and enjoy their company.
Right now we're reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan. I'll admit to not liking this book when we first started. I'm still not sure I'm sold on it. However, we just finished chapter 6 and I'm feeling somewhat more on board. The first few chapters are real and relevant and Francis Chan sure tells it like it is. Sometimes, though, I don't need for people to tell me like it is. I live in an all-too-real world at times and when someone consistently tells me I'm insignificant and may not be the "good soil" I think I am, causing me to doubt and question and feel significantly worse about my self, well, sometimes that's the last thing I need.
It's an interesting dilemma. I want to be real with myself and fix the things that need fixing and make changes in my life to be more like Jesus. And it's important to have people in your life who will tell you Truth in a kind and loving way (or basically in the way you most need it to be told) but there are times in my life that I already feel bombarded by my own insecurities and insignificance. Those are the times I need to be lifted up, encouraged, and loved on. And that's where I've been for the last couple of months - needing love and encouragement, not sermons on how awful I am.
I'm coming out of my funk, finally. :) I'm starting to feel more like myself - positive, upbeat, joyful. I have been sitting in God's presence in a new and different way than I ever have. In a way that I feel free.
That's something we talked about in group last night. The question was asked:
"Does the Christian life feel free to you? Or do you feel bound to obey a system of moral commands?"
And I told the group how I've been feeling lately. I don't feel tied or in bondage to a certain way to spend time with my Savior. Maybe I get 15 minutes driving around for work to listen to a sermon. Maybe I take 20 minutes at the beginning of the day to read some Scripture. Maybe I don't get an alotted time, but I just go throughout my day talking to God and asking for help, thanking Him for certain things or moments, praising Him for the beauty of this earth.
And because balance is such a difficult thing, I'm learning that I praise and worship God when I take a more "wholistic" view of worshiping Him. It blesses God when I take care of my body by exercising. It is praise to Him when I spend quality time with my kids. It is glorifying to Him when I take the time to help friends/strangers/co-workers in need. Of course it's important for me to spend time in prayer and to set aside time to read God's Word. But the cool thing is that it's all about a relationship. Sometimes I spend lots of time with God, just like I might sometimes spend lots of time with my husband or my kids. And other days I may not spend as much time with Him. But God knows me and He knows my heart. Our relationship doesn't disappear if I don't spend as much time as I "should" with Him. And lately, because I've been more free in my relationship and my approach to God, I don't feel guilty if I can't spend the time that my legalistic self wants to plan, organize and execute. I just go throughout my day, simply praising God and worshiping Him in everything I do.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
Psalm 103:2
(Emphasis mine)

Updates

For those of you on pins and needles - I did get Xander's birth certificate in time, and I was able to apply for the lottery. Now we wait until January when we're issued a pin number to actually submit his name into the lottery. Then we wait a couple more months to find out if he got in. I'll keep you posted.

Amelia Jayne got four new teeth over the Thanksgiving holiday. She was a bit fussier than usual while we were in Johnson City over the holiday, and she was running a fever. I actually had David's uncle (an ER doc) take a look in her ears, afraid she might have an ear infection. Luckily, she didn't. I later found out she must have had a virus because she got roseola. And her first four molars. All at once. No wonder she was cranky! I would have been, too.
This brings her tooth count up to 12. In case you were keeping track. I know Xander is. :)

We're still waiting on Ame's baby, Emory, to gain some weight before he can have his major surgery. Some good news is that Ame got to hold him for the first time a few days ago. Some bad news is that he got a staph infection last week. He seems to be getting better, from what I can tell on facebook. Continue to keep him in your prayers. He has good days and bad days.

David and I went to the Panthers game last Sunday. It was so much fun! The Panthers won against the Falcons (the best team in the League right now) and we had great seats. Thanks to David's mom who got him the tickets for his birthday back in June. It was a great time! A little warm (around 68F)for my taste, in December, but better warm than snowy. :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Pics

Shrek baby! :)
 

Yummy cookie + bedhead Shrek ears
 
 
Hanging in her brother's chair, even though she has one just like it (only with fairies on it) right beside it. Typical little sister. :)
 
 
They love each other so much. It's so sweet!
 In the bottom pic, Amelia Jayne seems to be pointing at Curious George with her hand and her foot. Ha!




Library awesomeness

A couple of weeks ago I took the kids to ImaginOn. I had every intention of going to story time, visiting with co-workers, playing with some of the toys there and heading home.
 
Amelia Jayne is playing on the wooden fire truck in the passenger seat while Xander drives.
I wish this photo was better. Her smile is so great! She was so happy. :)
 
Little did I know (even though I work there!) that the big man himself would be there. So, of course, Xander wanted to see him. I wasn't prepared with my fancy camera. My kids didn't have "Christmas-y" colors on, but it was fun. :)
There was no line when we went, so that was even better.
 

 
Xander did great this year. He went right up to Santa, talked to him, told him what he wanted, and hung out for a bit.
 
 
 
I wasn't even going to try with Amelia Jayne, but Santa was kind and offered. He said, "Maybe if you just set her down quickly while I'm not looking at her..."
It was kind of you, Santa, but Amelia Jayne did not go for it.
My favorite part is Xander's face, though. It's as if he's saying, "What's wrong with you, Amelia Jayne? It's just Santa!" Either that or, "This is totally embarrassing, Mom. Get me out of here!"
 
The Children's theatre does something every year that they call "Santa's Bag." You can take your children to buy gifts for other members of their family. I gave Xander $10 and he went with an elf to purchase gifts (so Mommy will be surprised on Christmas morning, too!). He bought gifts for Amelia Jayne, Mommy, Daddy, Papa, Mimi, Grandma and Grandpa - with $.75 left over. Pretty cool!
 
 

 
When we got home, this is what I found. All that nonsense just wore the girl out. :)
 
 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Struggles

I've been struggling lately. Internally. I've had no self-confidence, low self-image, and little self-worth.
I would cry because I just felt miserable about myself. I was just in a funk and couldn't bring myself out of it.

And then I had a fight with David. Because of my own insecurities, not because of him. We came home that evening and I was basically at my weakest point.

I found a package in the mailbox. I opened it and found this necklace inside.


These are the words that were in the package.

In God's heart, you are...
created

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14 NIV
chosen
The Lord has chosen you to be His treasured possession. Deuteronomy 14:2 NIV
celebrated
He will take great delight in you..He will rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17 NIV
cherished
I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. Jeremiah 31:3 NIV

Thank you, God, for knowing when I would need this at the exact right moment. Amazing.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Funnies from the little man - Part 4

X: I can't touch my spine right now since my body's in my booster seat.

X: Can you hop on one foot?
Mimi: No. Can you?
X: No, but when I learn to be a man I can.

X: On my next birthday I'm going to be 4 (holds up 4 fingers) and then I'll be 5 and then 6 (continues to add fingers while counting) and then 7 and then 8 and then 9 and then 10!
(Pauses)
I don't think I'm going to be 11.
Mimi: Why not?
X: I don't have any more fingers.

X: (Holds hand out) Here, Mimi.
Mimi: What is it?
X: A bogey.
Mimi: I don't want that! Let me get you a tissue.
(Brings Xander a tissue)
Here, Xander. Put the bogey in this.
X: Oh, that's okay. I just put it in my pocket.

One evening we were driving home from Mocksville when, out of the blue, Xander screamed out. We asked him what was wrong and he never told us. Then we started watching him. He was trying to watch Curious George, but he was so tired that his eyelids just couldn't stay up. At one point his eyes competely closed and he started crying and wailed, "I CAN'T SEE!!!!"
As we attempted to hold back the laughter, David told him, "Well, open your eyes!"

If you like these, check out some other funnies here, here, and here.

Ice Cream!

You love the hair, don't you. :)
Check out this video:
 
video
 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wisdom from Santa


Thankful - Days 29 & 30

November 29
I'm thankful that I live in a free country. I may not believe the same thing as you. I may not practice the same things as you. I may not speak the same as you. I may not look anything like you. I may not mother the same way you do. I may not be the same kind of wife you are. I may not have a job similar to your job. But none of that matters. In this country we're free to be who we want to be.

November 30
Today's the last day of November. I'm almost sad to stop writing what I'm thankful for. Some days it was challenging and other days it was hard to choose just one! So, there may be a few days that I just throw out some thankful thoughts...just because. :)

Today I'm thankful for scripture. God's Word is amazing. It teaches us, reminds us, encourages us, meets us, touches us, and allows us to glimpse a tiny part of who God is.

Below are some verses that I've been meditating on lately...all of them happen to revolve around being thankful. :)

Philippians 4:6
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

Psalm 95:2
Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.

Psalm 69:30
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving.

Isaiah 51:3
The LORD will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins; he will make her deserts like Eden, her wastelands like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing.

Philippians 1:3
I thank my God every time I remember you.

Ephesians 5:4
Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving.

2 Thessalonians 1:3
We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.


"Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, 
whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue 
and if anything is praiseworthy - meditate on these things."
Philippians 4:8

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Randoms

Whoever knew that Brown Bear could be so much fun! If you've got kids, be sure to check out this video and share it with them. They're sure to love it! Her website is fun. I've gotten lots of ideas from her lately!






Since I'm determined to start running again, I thought I'd post this to help inspire me. :) 
















Do I hear an "Amen!" out there?

Lottery frustrations

Wednesday morning I went to a local, public, montessori school to check it out for pre-K for Xander next year. Yup, you read that right. Pre-K. For my little boy. The one who's still little. Oh, who am I kidding? He's growing up so fast, y'all!

Anyway, I went to an Open House at Chantilly Montessori School. And I loved it! There are so many things about this school that I like. There are a few things that didn't impress me, but overall I was more impressed than I wasn't. So that feels like a win to me.

The problem is, here in Mecklenburg County, you have to place your child's name in a lottery to be able to get them into certain schools. This is one of them.

You have to submit an enrollment form, birth certificate and proof of residence. I don't have Xander's birth certificate. We never ordered one, and now I need it. I know, I know. Go ahead and slap my hand. I should've had it so that I would have it when I needed it. Like now. Oh well. I ordered it today and I'm hoping that I get it no later than next Thursday. I have to turn all of this information into the school by next Friday. Sheesh. I sure like to cut things close!

And so now it's a waiting game. I really hope I'm able to get Xander into the lottery. And I really hope he gets chosen once he's in the lottery. And I really hope he loves the school once he's entered in the lottery, chosen and then starts next fall.

Oh the joys of parenthood. Pray with me. We're gonna need it. :)

So, Montessori. It's interesting. You should read about it. I think Xander would be incredibly successful in a Montessori setting. And Chantilly Montessori - they even have a butterfly on their website! I mean, how much more perfect can you get for Xander? :)
(This is the little boy who asked Santa for monster trucks and butterflies last year.)

I'm planning to go to another Open House at Highland Mill Montessori next Monday and see how cool they are.

Does anyone care to comment about Montessori? I'd be interested to hear your views and opinions. Thanks!


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Meets Expectations

We have a new yearly review format at work called Performance Management Process. Basically there are certain goals you must complete and criteria you must meet to be rated...well, who could say it better than the people who created it? Here you go:



Charlotte Mecklenburg Library’s Performance Management Process (PMP)

is an annual process in which you and your manager work together to set

SMART goals, discuss competencies necessary for success in your position

and create an individual development plan. You should meet periodically,

once per quarter, to provide feedback, realign goals and recognize good

performance. It is a process that links individual goals and objectives to

organizational goals and objectives.

The Library’s Performance Management Process (PMP) ensures that all

library employee goals are aligned with library strategies and initiatives. In

this way, PMP enables every employee to understand his or her unique

contributions to help the Library remain customer focused, and fulfill its

mission, Expanding minds, Empowering individuals and Enriching our

community.
For the most part, this is an excellent model. I firmly believe that you should have constant communication with your supervisor and conversations should be had to make sure that what you're doing is on track with the goals and initatives of your company. In our PMP, this is how you can be rated:



Exceeds expectations

Meets expectations

Fails to meet expectations

Consistently fails to meet expectations


And this is where the flaws come into play. We were basically told it's nearly impossible to get "Exceeds expectations." Their goal is for everyone to "meet expectations" and if you go so far above and beyond the norm then you 'might' get "Exceeds expectations."

I don't know about y'all but I am NOT a meets expectations kind of gal. I exceed expectations. I always exceed expectations. That's what I'm known for. That's what I do. So to have my PMP this year and get "Meets Expectations" nearly killed me!

Until I realized something. I was actually in the review with my supervisor when it hit me:
This is my earthly job. Will it last forever? No. Am I to do the best I can possibly do in this job? Yes. Does it matter how humans rate my performance? Basically, no. I only care what God thinks of what I've done. If I strive to do my best and that best gets recognized as "meets expectations" here on earth, then I'll take it. My rewards are in heaven.

Plus, I'm not able to focus a lot of attention on my job at the library. I only work 20 hours. The majority of my time and my "full-time job" is at home with my kids and my husband. That's where I truly want to focus my time and energy and where it's even more important to receive an "Exceeds Expectations" rating. And the only rating that truly matters is the rating given to me by God.

The Invisible Mom- Building Cathedrals

A friend of mine posted this on facebook yesterday. Beautiful. May you continue to build your cathedrals.


It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and ask to be taken to the store.

Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on the phone?’ Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner, because no one can see me at all.

I’m invisible. The invisible Mom. Some days I am only a pair of hands, nothing more: Can you fix this? Can you tie t his? Can you open this? Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30, please.’

I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the eyes that studied history and the mind that graduated summa cum laude – but now they had disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going, she’s going, she’s gone!

One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a friend from England .. Janice had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty pathetic, when Janice turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of Europe .

I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her inscription: ‘To Charlotte , with admiration for the greatness of what you are building when no one sees.’

In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after which I could pattern my work: No one can say who built the great cathedrals we have no record of their names.

These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see finished. They made great sacrifices and expected no credit. The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes of God saw everything.

A legendary story in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be covered by the roof? No one will ever see it.’ And the workman replied, ‘Because God sees.’

I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was almost as if I heard God whispering to me, ‘I see you, Charlotte. I see the sacrifices you make everyday, even when no one around you does. No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake you’ve baked, is too small for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but you can’t see right now what it will become.’

At times, my invisibility feels like an affliction But it is not a disease that is erasing my life. It is the cure for the disease of my own self-centeredness. It is the antidote to my strong, stubborn pride. I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see finished, to work on something that their name will never be on.

The writer of the book went so far a s to say that no cathedrals could ever be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to sacrifice to that degree.

When I really think about it, I don’t want my child to tell the friend he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, ‘My Mom gets up at 4 in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand bastes a turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.’ That would mean I’d built a shrine or a monument to myself. I just want him to want to come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend, to add, ‘You’re gonna love it there.’

As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible women.

Thankful - Days 27 & 28

November 27
Mine and David's 8th anniversary is today. I feel it only fitting that I express my gratitude for him today. He is strong and steady. He is cautious and kind. He is funny and smart. He is patient and loving. He is silly and caring. He is better for me than I even knew possible when I walked down that aisle to join him 8 years ago. I don't know what I'd do without him and I'm thankful God gave him to me.
PLUS my 1pm meeting got canceled today, so we got to meet up for an unexpected anniversary lunch date. Then we get to have an at-home-date tonight. So thankful for my man. :)

November 28
I'm thankful for laundry. It reminds me that my family and I have clothes to put on our backs. I'm thankful for a dirty house. It reminds me that I have a home to shelter me. I'm thankful for dishes in the sink. They remind me that we had food to eat at our last meal. God is so good to remind us of these things. :)
And believe me, my house has lots of reminders. ;)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thankful - Days 25 & 26

November 25
This is the most important thing I have to be thankful for - Jesus. I'm thankful that in him I am a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). That because of him, I can live life more abundantly (John 10:10). That through him, I have peace that surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7).
We put up our Christmas tree today and I was reminded of how awesome God is! Without Jesus...where would I be??

November 26
Today I'm thankful that God has allowed David's cousin, Ame, to have a beautiful baby boy named Emory. It's not our timing. He's very early - 9 weeks and 2 days. He weighs 3lbs, 1oz. Ame had an emergency c-section.
But God is in control. Although he will probably need surgery in the next couple of days, he is here, and he is precious. Please keep Emory and Ame in your prayers.

Thankful - Days 23 & 24

November 23
Today I'm thankful for the "stuff" God has given me. I didn't do Black Friday shopping. I don't condemn anyone who did, but I'm pretty thankful for the "stuff" God has already given me. I don't need 90% of it probably.

November 24
Today I'm thankful for sleep. I haven't gotten enough of it lately, so I'm incredibly thankful when I do. I'm glad God made our bodies to rejuvenate every night. We wake up with energy and a renewed spirit to start a new day.

Thankful - Day 22

November 22
Today is Thanksgiving! I have so many things to be thankful for, that it's hard to narrow it down to just one thing. But the thing I'm most thankful for is my family. My David. My Xander. My Amelia Jayne. I love those three people more than I ever thought it possible to love. Thanks to them for making me a wife, a mother, and a better person. I wouldn't be who I am without them.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful - Day 21

November 21
Today I'm thankful for family. ALL of my family. My mom's family in Texas and Oklahoma that I don't get to see often, but love dearly; My aunts in Virginia that I was just blessed to see; my mother-in-law's family that adopted me into their hearts when I married David; my parents (all 6 of them); my siblings (spouses included!!); my nieces and nephews (all 8 of them); my own children; and most of all my husband. I love you all!

She's walking!

At least a few steps anyway. Here's a video of her standing from the middle of the floor (she started doing this on her own that day - which was last Thursday, November 15) and taking a couple of steps. She was so tired! But she was a trooper and kept trying over and over and over. :)

Daredevil

I might have my hands full with this one - Xander would never have attempted something like this. I'm not even sure that he would try it now!

I've got my eye on you, missy. :)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Same Page - Intro & Chapter 1

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Link up ^ and join the book club!


Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman has rocked my world and moved my spirit. Or should I say the Spirit is moving inside me?

I might as well have highlighted the whole thing. I practically did.

Chapter One: Are you a good girl in hiding?

Ummm...yes!

I never knew there was so much about me that I was hiding. I always thought of myself as an open book. And maybe at one time I was more open than I am now. Along the way, with marriage and children, my book has quietly closed and I even found a neat little book cover so no one could catch a glimpse at the title.

I've always been a good girl - rule-follower, responsible, dependable. But I always kind of resented it. Until I could pull it out and remind people of how good I was and how unworthy they were. I remember early in my marriage telling my husband that I never "got" to sow my wild oats. Really?? That's what I want

I came to Christ when I was 16 and confessed that I was a sinner. But I ashamedly admit now that I didn't always see sin in my life. I actually had a hard time finding it sometimes. Oh, to be 16 and so naive.

Then I found it. With a vengeance. And I was ashamed and embarrassed and just could not admit defeat. I wasn't like "those" people. I was a good girl! That's when I constructed masks. I wanted everyone to see me as I always thought they had before. With little to no sin and with everything perfectly in its place.

Fast forward a bit to marriage and I realized even more how ugly my sin was and how much I hated the fact that someone else could see it so blatantly now, too. I didn't like that someone could see through my mask, so I constructed thicker ones.

Fast forward a little more to child(ren). Children make it so hard to have masks. They rip them off you in public for all to see! I had this vision of what my life should look like, how my children should act, how my husband should love me, and what other people perceived our life to be like. None of my reality measured up.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"These masks became so natural to me that I didn't even know they were masks. I thought they were just part of my face. I moved through life hiding behind the good and lived out the mess in secret. I taught people around me that I had no needs and then was secretly angry with them for believing me."

"We have a God who sees and cares and notices. He will not come undone. He remains un-overwhelmable."

"Chances are, if you are a good girl like me, you can relate to the hiding. You may be hiding from something, hiding behind something, or simply hiding something. The concept of hiding isn't new. It started way back in the beginning, with an apple, a snake, a lie, and a fig leaf. The hiding has kept me silent in relationships when I could have spoken out. It has kept me paralyzed with fear and anxiety when I could have danced in freedom. And this prison of self-protection has kept me from receiving the boundless, unfathomable, gracious love of God."

"My idea of who I should be is at war with who I am. I want to be perfect in every situation. I just do. I want to know what to do. I want to know how to do it right. And I want to do it. All. By. My. Big. Self. Not only do I want to do everything perfectly, I want to look perfect while I do it. I want to act perfect and sing perfect and have perfect teeth. I want to parent perfectly, to wife perfectly, and to have a clean house. All the time."
"...my ideal image has everything to do with put together and nothing to do with falling apart."

"If my story were a planet, then your rejection of me would be my nuclear holocaust. This fear of rejection drives me hard, eating away at my courage. And so I am cautious in my love. I am timid in my faith. My life tells a small story. I long to be seen, but I feel safe when I'm invisible. So I stay a good girl. And I hide."

"I want to let go, rest, and believe, so that he can hold, refresh, and redeem. But what if I do and he doesn't?"

"As I gazed off into the foggy distance, hoping for a glimpse of the outline of his presence, I missed the One who stood beside me, casting his shadow over me as he showered me with his love."

My sometimes Truth
I look forward to work so I can get away from my house...that is, more often than not, dirty.
I let my son watch TV for hours some days.
My car has become a bottomless pit of school art projects, water bottles, and church bulletins.
The overhead lights in my bedroom have been out for a couple of months now and I haven't gotten around to changing them.
I have unexplained bouts of depression.
"Comparison is a constant companion."
"I don't quite measure up."
"I'm not the mom I thought I would be."

The hiding part? It goes along so well with the sermon my pastor, Chris, preached on 11.11.12. Check it out here. Tore me up...along with this book. Man, God is doing amazing things in me!

Philippians 1:6 (MSG)
There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.








Thankful - Days 19 & 20

November 19
Today I'm thankful for my small group. It is an awesome group of folks that I have the privilege to hang out with almost every week. I love spending time with them, hearing their thoughts and ideas, praying with and for them, and just chatting! This is definitely the best couples small group I've ever had the privilege of being a part of.

November 20
I am incredibly thankful to have the opportunity to share books with children who might not have them or know about them if it weren't for the library and the partnerships we have. What a privilege it is for me to share the gift of reading! And better yet, I get to talk to parents about the importance of reading to their child from an early age. I love "partnering with parents" (a phrase I stole from Ridge Church) to ensure that their children have a more successful and fulfilling future. Partnering with parents is one of my favorite things to do - whether it's at work, at church or with my friends. This is one of my great passions!

Disappointed

Okay, so I wrote about being honest, well here goes.
I've been finding myself very disappointed lately.
David has a deadline tomorrow. So that means he's been working a lot. A.whole.lot. Like, it's 12:45am and he's still at work - probably will be there for at least 2 more hours.
This weekend while we were in Hickory visiting my Dad and celebrating his 60th birthday, David setup shop in my dad's office and worked long hours. There were many days last week that I barely saw him. Basically, it sucks.
I don't know where to draw the line between being thankful that my husband has a job and being jealous of that job. Or being annoyed that it's constantly taking him away from me. And our kids. Then I realize that what I really want is for David to recognize my feelings.
I feel alone.
And unnoticed.
And unappreciated.
And insignificant.
He still helps me around the house and does things for me and the kids when he can, but he just doesn't have the time. I want him to come home and smother me with kisses and recognize that I did more than just keep the kids alive, I actually cleaned and cooked supper! (We all know that doesn't happen every day!) Even when I give little prompts, (i.e., "Did you notice how nice the bathroom looked when you got home? The ring around the toilet is gone!" - I mean, not even subtle!) I don't get any recognition.

And then it hits me. Who am I? Why do I feel that I deserve recognition or appreciation? Aren't I doing what God has asked me to do? Didn't I make the choice to stay home with my kids over working full-time? Realizing that this is sooo not about me, my attitude is changed. Instead of having the selfish attitude of me, me, me, and expecting David to fulfill my every need, I realize that I should turn to God and allow him to fulfill my needs. And I need to pray for David. What must he be feeling through all of this? (Not that he would express it, but that's a whole other story.)
So instead, Ephesians 3:14-21 is my response:


14-19 My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you’ll be able to take in with all followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
20-21 God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.
Glory to God in the church!
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!




Oh, yes.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Look Whoo's One!

Amelia Jayne's big party was the last Saturday of October. I'm finally getting around to uploading pictures! The battery in my camera was dead, so I had to get these pictures from my mom and it took awhile. :)

My mom and I had so much fun hosting this party together - coming up with a plan, sharing ideas, getting everything made and then pulling it all together. It was great! The weekend was jam-packed, but it was very fun.

Here are the pictures of Amelia Jayne's first birthday party. It was a hoot! :)

Smash cake





Monthly pictures




























Oh, and since I missed out on her monthly stats - here they are:
Height: 29.75 in (61%)
Weight: 21 lb (62%)
Head Circumference: 17.24 in (17%)

As compared to Xander's at the same age:
Height: 29.5 in (42%)
Weight: 25 lb, 10 oz (86%)
Head Circumference: 19 in (93%)