8.30.2011

The Gap

Count it all joy my brothers when you face trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 
James 1:2-4


Cancer. Car Wreck. Infertility. Heart Attack. Death. Divorce.

Things that bring about suffering. I just assume all the verses in the Bible that mention suffering refer to those things. Yes, those things have happened in my extended family. But not to my immediate family. And since we are guaranteed suffering in this world, I feel like I'm just waiting for my time to come.

Financial suffering? Compared to others, it's just not one you hear about often. Maybe because it's super personal and to inform people of the details of your finances can make you vulnerable to judgment and criticism or pity. My point is, I haven't considered our financial struggles a time of suffering. It's not cancer, it's not infertility. Surely God wants us to struggle with something worse than money. With that attitude comes impatience. I have not viewed this season of life as a time of suffering that produces steadfastness. Therefore, I have seen it as a period of time to hurry things along and move on. As if it's apart from God and He's waiting for us to get out of the pit so we can move on with His plans.

But I know the He is not only in the middle of the suffering, He's causing it to happen for our good.

God has been silent. We pray all the day long for Brent's career to be prosperous according to God's plan. We pray for wisdom and guidance. We commit everyday to the Lord, asking Him to do things only He can do. And God knows our motive. We have no desire for the worldly things that money can buy. Do we want a bigger house? Eventually. Does Brent need a new car? Yes. Do we want opportunities to go on family vacations? Yes. But more importantly, our desire is to give generously and hopefully adopt in the future.

35. The number of work days it has been since Brent had a good day and didn't leave his office discouraged. Seems like a while, then I think about Noah, Abraham, and the many others that had to wait years. I don't really have much room to talk or complain.

Do you ever feel like there is a gap between what you believe God is able to do and what you believe God will do? I believe the promises in the Bible and know personally that they are true. In the long run, I know God will do what He says. I know I will look back on this situation and see nothing but His faithfulness and goodness. But in the day to day discouraging details, it can sometimes be really hard to believe, especially when you devote to prayer without ceasing and God doesn't act when you think He should.

But what James says is true...this trial is producing steadfastness. No matter what I feel like believing based on the day's results, I know that I am being made immovable. It's certainly not enjoyable and easy to go through each month wondering how needs will be met. But, there hasn't been a need that hasn't been met and that's not going to change because God doesn't change.

I don't enjoy the suffering. Who does? What I do enjoy is the deeper relationship with God, seeing more of my need for Him, learning more about the character of God, and becoming a person of continuous prayer and, hopefully, a faith that is firmly fixed in place.

Tonight, after Brent returned from work, he and Lily went on a walk down our street...something Lily LOVES to do. While they walked, I watched out the kitchen window and prayed aloud to the God who hears my plea. I was acknowledging that His plans are bigger than I can see. All I have is today. I can't see tomorrow. And as the word "bigger" came out of my mouth, Lily, who was many houses down, was holding her arms stretched out wide. I'm sure she was simply wondering where something was, but for me, it was a symbol of how big God is and how big His plans are for us. I love the small reminders God gives us.

So, I consider it pure joy while facing this trial, for I know that it is testing my faith and producing steadfastness so that I will lack nothing. And I know that God will not fail me, so what do I have to fear?

I would but cannot rest
In God's most holy will
I know what He appoints is best
And murmur at it still
I murmur at it still
"Help My Unbelief" 
Gadsby Hymnal #278
Red Mountain Music



8.25.2011

Lily Lately


It's been a while and we've done a lot, so just be warned that this post will be full of pictures!

I'm going to start this post by answering a few questions I've been asked numerous times regarding being a SAHM: 

Are you enjoying staying at home? 
Absolutely.

Do you ever get bored?
No. I'm not just hanging around the house in my PJ's eating Cheetos while Lily watches Dora and Elmo all day. I didn't quit my job so that I could babysit my child. I quit my job so that I could be an active part of her life, which means we DO and LEARN things together. Does that mean we leave the house everyday? No, and I really like what that does for my gas tank.

Am I going back to work next year?
Lily will be almost 3, which means she is still young and not in school. So, no I don't plan on going back to work next year. And by the time she is in school, I will hopefully have other children that are young and I will stay at home with them as well. I don't know when, or even if, I will go back to work. If I do, it will most likely be part-time, but that's so far into the future right now that I'm not even entertaining the idea.

Do I miss teaching?
Absolutely. More than I thought I would. But I plan to visit and volunteer at my school frequently. I actually went to visit last Friday and enjoyed it very much!

Here are my favorites about Lily lately: the way she eats an apple, the way she feels her eyelashes when she is sleepy, the fact that she can now repeat simple prayers and bless our meals, she knows who made her (God) and she knows who made everything else (God), she doesn't forget anything you tell her, she is a high-energy girl all the day long, she can walk on her tippy toes, she recognizes places when we are driving (Chick-fil-a, Brent's office, "shopping" which is Kroger or Publix) and is a little navigator, the songs she asks us to play in the car are the Veggie Tales version of  "Our God" and "Mighty to Save" and she sings random words/phrases, occasionally she will sit long enough for us to read to her--her current favorites are the Bible and Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems, she has an immediate attachment to any and every character (Elmo, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Dora, Bob and Larry, Thomas the Tank Engine, Mickey and Minnie, Curious George, etc.---this is why we DON'T watch Barney!), she loves to play in her crib with all her stuffed animals, she loves to wear hats, she goes "night night" when she doesn't want to do something, she is a picky little girl and has to have things a certain way (no clue where that came from), she is just absolutely hilarious!

I'm sure every parent feels this way, but I'm convinced she is precious in His sight and He is going to use her in a mighty way. I pray that she will one day reflect on her life and not be able to recall a time that she didn't know her Creator. May He always be a welcome, invited, spoken of, feared, adored guest in our home.

 How to eat an apple according to Lily: ask Mommy or Daddy to start it (take a bite out of it); slowly, and I mean s l o w l y, bite all the skin off the apple and hand it to Mommy, feed it to Sanibel, or just leave it right where you are; by this time it will be good and brown and you can eat it. 

After nap time at the beach, rubbing her eyelashes. She has been doing this since she was about 3 months old when she first discovered her lashes. To this day does it every time she goes to sleep. 

Having a GRAND time in the pool at the beach in her Dora float and Elmo hat. 

 Playing with Will's toys in the baby pool. Will is a precious 3 year old who stayed in the other side of our duplex. He is from Kansas City, MO. Will had a TON of pool toys and generously shared them all with Lily. 

 Eating an apple at the beach, complete with Granny Rosie's Mickey hat. 

Sorry attempt at a family pic...camera fogged up. 

First ride on the ferris wheel...despite the look on her face she really enjoyed it!  



 Snack time on the ferris wheel! 

 At the hospital bright and early for her tubes. Holding her eyelashes, of course, because we had to be there at 6am! 

 Cutie pie in her hospital gown, playing with all the toys. 

 Lily and Aubie (who HAD to get tubes as well) with Nurse Ebony, headed back to the OR.

 Lily and Mommy in the post-op room. Just before they called me back, Brent and I could hear her screaming through 2 sets of double doors. Lily Boo did NOT feel well and was very disoriented. 

 The ride home...Lily and Aubie recovered quickly and were back to normal after a 3 hour nap! 

 This is a huge no-no and the reason why the Dora chair had to hide in the guest room for a week, but I had to get a pic first :) She did this on her own in record time. 

 Eating chocolate chip pancakes (for dinner...shh...don't tell). She has been eating with utensils for about 2ish months now and actually prefers to use them instead of her fingers. Except the few times she has lathered yogurt on like lotion...

 Fort turned into a parachute...here she is bouncing puppy up and down with Daddy... 

 ...and it's pretty hilarious! Love the expression on her face...she was CRACKING up! 

 Taking a break from playing in her fort

 Reading her ABC Bible verse book 

 This is a face we see A LOT! 

 Lily wanted to share her granola (lalala) with Sanibel, so she dumped the bag on the floor. 

 Then, she wanted Sanibel to share her food, so Lily dumped the bowl of dog food on the floor. 

 Then, mean ole Mommy made Lily help her sweep it up. Good thing she likes to sweep!

 Lily and Daddy working on their laptops. 

Mismatched outfit with beads and a toboggan she found in Uncle Ben's room while he was packing to go back to college

Intently looking at the Babies R Us ad we got in the mail, with milk and an apple on the floor for when she needs a break from all that reading she is doing. 

Hard to believe, but I've already started getting ideas together for her 2nd birthday! Time flies when you are having fun :) 

8.21.2011

Break my heart for what breaks Yours

"If we threw all our problems into a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back."

I don't know who said this, but I saw it on Pinterest (imagine that!). I think it's very true. The grass isn't always greener on the other side, actually I don't think it ever is. Anytime we pursue a life other than the one laid out for us by God, we will surely be disappointed. I know I would choose my problems over someone else's if I were to trade places for any amount of time.

I was reminded of this quote today as I witnessed an interesting situation in my neighbor's front yard. As I was waiting for our Apple TV to update so that anxious Lily could watch Elmo for the 482 time today, I heard a ruckus going on outside. Of course, like any nosy neighbor, I just barely opened the blinds enough to see what it was all about. The oldest daughter was having a screaming fight with her mother, calling each other names and using profane language. The younger brother was outside, trying to get his sister to get in her boyfriends car and leave so the fight would temporarily end. The dad was a silent witness to the mess.

Two weeks ago, something similar happened to my in-law's neighbors...the cops were called, and people were arrested. It's a pretty funny story and I was secretly hoping for the same.

The youngest brother finally gave his sister a push and she got in her boyfriend's car and they stormed off.

What I saw next broke my heart and I didn't care anymore for a funny story, facebook status, or tweet. What I cared about was the heart of God. "Break my heart for what breaks yours"...lyrics from my all-time favorite worship song by Hillsong.

The dad sat down, buried his head in his hands, and wept. He stood up, but apparently the emotional toll on his body was too much and he bent over and wept some more. It was all I could do to not run outside and do something. Maybe I should have, but I didn't feel comfortable since I hardly know him and I don't know the situation. If it had been the mom, maybe I would have been more inclined to do it. Instead, I just prayed for him as I watched out the window.

God softened my heart and the Holy Spirit convicted me. How selfish it was of me to watch someone else's heartbreaking problems and hope for a funny story. Instead, I need to hope for God's love to transform this family. I need to be on my knees praying for them and asking God to show me how to extend His love to them.

"But rise and stand upon your feet, for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to appoint you as a servant and witness to the things in which you have seen  me and to those in which I will appear to you, delivering you from your people and from the Gentiles--to whom I am sending you to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me." Acts 26: 16-18






8.16.2011

Cheating

I have a love/hate relationship with Lily's bedtime. I know that she needs to go to bed and I need some quiet down time (so I love it), but Brent and I always miss her when she is in bed (so we hate it). Once she is  in bed, Brent and I always enjoy a cup of coffee while we watch TV and both of us catch up on emails, blogs, facebook, twitter, etc. I am usually devoted to my blog, being sure to blog frequently and checking my blog roll daily. That is until pinterest came along. If you don't have a clue what I am talking about and can't even figure out how to say the word, click the link and you'll quickly be addicted (that's if you are female, I don't know many males that will care for it). 

OH.MY.GOODNESS. 

I'm in love and I confess I've been cheating on my blog with pinterest. While I used to spend time catching up on my blogs, I'm now just pinning the heck out of good ideas. I have completely abandoned blogging and I'm SO sorry! I will just have to find more time in my day (yeah right) to balance both, which I will because I love blogging and reading blogs. 

I have found wonderful ideas for birthday parties, DIY, gifts, home decor, dream home, homeschooling/family activities, teaching, etc. I wouldn't trade being at home for the anything else, but pinterest has made me realize just how much I miss teaching. There are hundreds of fantastic ideas for teachers! I can't wait to volunteer at my former school so I can use these ideas :) 

When I'm not pinning, I'm busy with 3 kids under 3 during the day! No, I didn't magically have 2 more kids. I'm keeping 2 boys for a friend while their regular caregiver is recovering from surgery. Lily is having too much fun playing with a bunch of boy toys! She plays with lightsabers, cars, 4-wheelers, guitars, drums, army men, etc. Today, she and the oldest boy were pretending to pack for the beach, so they had a bunch of clothes out in the living room. She was playing dress up in boy clothes...thankful that she still enjoys being girly, even if the dress up clothes aren't! Haha :) It's been so much fun to watch her play and interact with others around her age. I rarely get to see her do that. She's growing up WAY too fast! 

Be on the lookout next week for a Lily Lately! Happy Tuesday! 

8.03.2011

What happened 10 years ago today?

Brent and I had our first date :) I was 16, he was 17.

Our first picture together. A mini mission trip with Philly youth to Trinity Land Daycare in Pritchard, AL in December 2001.

In my opinion, it was long overdue, haha! We all know I had been crushin' on him since 5th grade. He was always a contender for the husband category in the game of Mash and once while playing Life I secretly pretended he was the driver of my mini-van full of kids. Little did I know...

Bringing Lily home from the hospital...in the mini van I said I would never have!

He "asked me out" as we called it then (and maybe still do? I'm a little out of the loop) after an impromptu youth outing after church to Arby's. He offered to take me home, which was slightly out of his way, but he had a question to ask me :) I don't remember what his exact words were, but it was a really simple question like, "Would you like to go on a date?", and I'm sure it took everything in him to ask. He told me in the car that night that it was his first time to ask a girl out without having prior knowledge from other sources if the girl liked him. That's a big deal in high school! So OF COURSE I said yes, I kind of new it was coming anyway. Our original plan for our first date was thwarted because he went out of town with his family to visit his grandparents in Florida. So we rescheduled for the following Friday, the Friday that ended a week of being counselors at Kids Kamp with Philly (the church we grew up in). 

All week at camp I was a nervous wreck. I just knew he would forget the date, even forget that he even asked me, and nothing would ever come of it. However, our last night at Camp Alamisco in Dadeville, AL my little fears subsided. There is a gazebo on a hill between the girls and boys cabins. I guess it's like a common area. We spent hours (literally) talking about anything and everything in that gazebo. I don't remember a thing about that conversation, but I do remember it being strange/really awesome that I was able to carry on a conversation with him like he was a really good friend. There was never an awkward silence and we never struggled to find something to talk about. And at the end of the conversation...3am actually...he asked me where I wanted to go on our date the next night :) Then he kissed me on my forehead and we both went our separate ways to sneak back into our cabins without waking anyone.

Fast forward less than 24 hours and he shows up at my house for our first date. Our plans were to go see "Rush Hour 2" at the Summit. I don't think dinner was in our plans at all. We got to the Summit and the movie was sold out, so we went to Blockbuster and rented "Gone in 60 Seconds". Brent obviously picked the movie...I would never in a million years pick that movie. We headed back to my house to watch the movie. I was slightly tired (umm, maybe due to lack of sleep the night before?) and decided that the entire couch was mine. Brent sat in the recliner. And just like the title of the movie, I was gone in 60 seconds. Sound asleep. Slept through the whole movie while Brent watched it alone! When the movie was over, he woke me up and I walked him outside. We shared our first kiss (it's embarrassing, read about it here) and he went home. And I went to bed knowing who I was going to marry. Seriously. I knew he was the one God created for me. 

We went to see Rush Hour 2 on our second date and I didn't fall asleep :) 

In honor of 10 years, here's 10 random facts about us:
1.  The ONLY reason I went to Auburn was because he was already there. Yes, I'm that girl, but it turned out really well! Auburn was the only school I applied to and I was accepted before my senior year of high school. If it weren't for him, I probably would have ended up at Alabama or Montevallo. 
2.  Before we were married, we determined that our first boy would be named Michael Cooper. That has changed. The new name will be revealed when and if we have a boy.
3. Brent is loyal to Crest toothpaste and will not under any circumstances tolerate the purchase of any other brand. It doesn't matter how many coupons and deals I can find. 
4.  The first time I went to visit Brent in Auburn (he was there a year before me) he made the most delicious teriyaki chicken on his George Foreman grill. 
5. He picked out my engagement ring alone at Southwest Florida Diamond District in Estero, FL (he was living in Fort Myers at the time). The only information I gave him was that I wanted a pear shaped diamond. I figured he knew my taste well enough to know what I wanted. I was right :)
6. He calls me "Big Cheeks" and not for the cheeks I sit on! I had my wisdom teeth out the summer after high school. My cheeks swelled for 7 days. Every day that he came to see me, he said my cheeks just got bigger and bigger. The nickname stuck. 
7. Brent wants 5 kids, I want 2.5 (not possible I know, but 2 isn't enough and 3 is an odd number). We'll see...
8. We want to adopt sometime in our future. 
9.  Our first concert together was Creed. He bought me tickets for our first Christmas.
10.  Our first argument as a married couple was on our honeymoon. We ordered pizza one night for dinner. I wanted it delivered to our room because the pizza place was about a 20 minute drive off the island. He called to place the order and said it was for carry-out. We had a nice long 20 minute drive off the island to discuss why my idea was better...and a 20 minute drive back to the resort for me to apologize for being a brat and for him to apologize for not reading my mind. Haha :)

Here are some pics from our dating years, in no particular order:


 The day Brent moved into his apartment in Auburn 

 My junior prom

 After the Scream Machine at Six Flags

 At a Shane and Shane concert in high school

 In New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl in 2005 ('04 season)

 Brent's senior prom

Brent's last day in Auburn...eating at our favorite breakfast spot, the BBQ House

 My senior prom

 Leaving Brent in Fort Myers for his first grown up job. I thought being 12 hours away from him would last an eternity, but we were engaged 6 months later and married 11 months later. 

 My 21st birthday...our last date before he moved to Fort Myers. 

At my Auburn graduation

At Toomer's Corner after a win!

Brent's Auburn graduation

What can I say? I love this boy :) I'm so grateful to God for a husband that loves the Lord more than he loves me. 

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