12.31.2012

2012 Year in Review

I came across this questionnaire today on Twitter. I thought 2012 would be a good year to review since it was not the best year of our lives. I sound quite depressed, but let me assure you I'm not :). Just being honest with all of you. God's faithfulness overrides all that we faced this year.

1.  What was the single best thing that happened this past year?
Brent getting a job that he deserves and that provides for our needs.

2.  What was the single most challenging thing that happened this year?
It's hard to name a single because the entire year was nothing but a challenge. I will say losing our baby was quite the challenge.

3.  What was an unexpected joy this past year?
Finding out we were pregnant with a healthy baby.

4.  What was an unexpected obstacle?
Brent interviewed for a job in Birmingham but was offered the job in Huntsville. We certainly did not see that coming. It created a number of obstacles, all of which were overcome by God's grace and in His perfect timing.

5.  Pick 3 words to describe this year.
Lonely, challenging, emotional

6.  Pick 3 words your spouse would pick to describe your year (without asking). 
Emotional, unexpected, frustrating (my answer)
Frustrating, crazy but according to God's plan, "but it wound up good" (his answer)


7.  Pick 3 words your spouse would pick to describe his year (without asking). 
Hopeless (job-related), weird, frustrating (my answer)
Demanding, rewarding, "and that whole middle part that was really crappy" (his answer)

8.  What were the best books you read this year?
Ha! Well, there's only one book I read cover to cover, What Women Fear by Angie Smith
And there's the two that I started and never finished, Hunger Games and Made to Crave by Lysa Terkuerst
It goes without saying, I'm not much of a reader. 

9. With whom were your most valuable relationships?
Brent and Lily, my family since it was the first time since 2003 I have consistently lived in Bham, and my new-found friendship with Heather (someone I've known since we moved to North AL the first time, but it wasn't until I moved away that we became good friends. We are like-minded and I appreciate her honest friendship)

10.  What was your biggest personal challenge from January to December of this past year?
Finding motivation to be the wife/mom I want to be while living with little money in a basement apartment and working full-time at a job I disliked very much. Debbie Downer, I know.

11.  In what way(s) did you grow emotionally?
This is a weird question. I cried a lot. Does that answer suffice?

12.  In what way(s) did you grow spiritually?
I spent more time with Jesus than any other year before. Hence, why this year was actually a huge blessing in disguise.

13.  In what way(s) did you grow physically?
Well, my body prepared for a baby twice. And for me that means immediate weight gain.

14.  In what way(s) did you grow in your relationships with others?
Brent and I have always been good communicators with each other, but the trials we faced caused the communication to increase with each other and with our ever-curious daughter.

15.  What was the most enjoyable part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally: Uhh...getting to see Lily
At home: Dance parties with Lily and pushing her on the swing in the front yard.

16.  What was the most challenging part of your work (both professionally and at home)?
Professionally: It would take more than a sentence to explain.
At home: Like I said before, finding the motivation to be the wife/mom I want to be.

17. What was your single biggest time waster in your life this past year?
Social media...duh!

18. What was the best way you used your time this past year?
Social media...duh! Ok, ok...anytime spent with family was a good way to spend my time.

19.  What was the biggest thing you learned this past year?
God causes or allows all the circumstances in my life (something I already knew due to years of my father saying this). They are no secret to Him. He cares deeply for me and uses the trials to draw me closer to Him. Whether or not I like it, that's His goal: intimate fellowship even through suffering. His promises are true, even for me, and His faithfulness has no end. He will not leave me in my hopelessness. He will come to my rescue. He has the ability to and will provide for me, all I need to do is trust Him fully. He is good. He is for me. He is worthy of all my praise.

20.  Create a phrase or statement that describes this past year for you.
Glad it's over.

Welcome 2013!!!

12.18.2012

Baby Update #2

I had a visit today with my doc...the one that delivered Lily. Can I just say I love her and her staff of nurses? They all made me feel very welcome back into their office. I got to hear the heartbeat for the first time! It was just a beatin' at 173. Only 8 more weeks until we find out the gender!

How far along? 11 weeks

Baby bump? A little one :)

Maternity clothes? No

Total weight gain? LOST 4 pounds!!! And I only know this because I went to the doc today. Don't expect me to be standing on that awful scale every week.

Cravings: A perfectly steamed hot dog ballpark-style (ya know, all wrapped warmly in foil) with ketchup and mustard. Chocolate milk...but that's nothing new. Ice cold water.

Food that nearly makes me vomit when I think about it: Coffee or any other hot drink.

Symptoms: The nausea is going away as long as I eat something every 3-4 hours. Exhaustion. Last night was the first night for me to sleep through the night in 6ish weeks.

Sleep: See above :(

Movement: I know it's super early, but I want to say I felt a little movement 2 nights ago. Not sure.

Gender: Lily is consistently hoping for 2 brothers. If we have one boy, she will only be half way disappointed. If we have one girl, she will be really disappointed.

Belly button in or out: In

What I miss: Caffeine, not because I depend on it. I'm craving cold drinks all the time I would just really like an ice cold Diet Coke.

Best moment this week: Moving into the house that will be the home to our new baby. Hearing Lily randomly say, "Thank you God for our new house." Lily's bedtime prayers for the baby.Oh yeah, and when she lifted up my shirt to say hey to baby and wiped a booger on my belly. That was nice. 

Biggest Challenge: Finding energy to unpack this house.

12.13.2012

Blessings found in a Basement

You didn't think I would leave this basement apartment without blogging about it first did you?

Well, I did.

Until this very moment I have grown to strongly dislike this place.

We've had a problem with ants inside, outside, and in our cars.

Our landlady who is tall and thin, walks around at all hours of the night like she weighs 500 tons and seems to rearrange her furniture/hanging wall decor every 5 minutes.

Our landlady's 9 (I think) grandchildren all live out of town and come to visit a few times a year. So multiply 500 tons by 18 more feet. That's a lot of noise coming from upstairs.

We hardly had company over because there is just no where for everyone to be all at one time.

You practically have to straddle a wall to use the potty. And when we you have the stomach bug coming from both ends...well...need I say more?

And a lot of other silly little inconveniences that have gotten under my skin.

I was stacking up the 3 chairs around our 2-person restaurant table we've had in the kitchen. Many meals were shared as we squeezed into that corner of the kitchen.

And at that moment the place that I've grown to not like, I grew to love 100 times more.

It's the memories that make you love what you once hated and wish you had just learned to like it all along.

Like the memories made on a quilt in the backyard on a warm summer day

Or the ones where Lily grew to love cooking with Mommy

The simple joy of a tree swing

First haircut for our sweet girl on the patio

Breakfast every morning at her table (yes, those m&ms were a reward for her first night of no thumb sucking)

Miss Priss running up and down the hall in Mommy's heels

Learning to dress herself from head to toe 

Playing in the den while watching Dora

Dancing to the farm music magnets while cooking

And every single sound of our joyful little girl in the house

But the greatest memory is the how this entire year has been a picture of God's unending faithfulness and goodness to our family. It's been a hard year. I won't go into details, I've already been there done that on this blog. 

But there is nothing in our lives that is left untouched by our gracious, loving Father. Without going all Ann Voskamp on you, all's grace

It truly is. 

It's all the reality of His grace and relentless pursuit of us. 

And with my whole heart I leave this basement with humbleness and gratitude that He appointed this blessed opportunity for us as a family. 

The hardships are always a blessing in the end. A blessing that makes you look back without a clue why He did so much for you. Except you do know. His grace, which the fullness of is incomprehensible. 

And then you look ahead to where He's leading you and again, you are in complete awe of what He is doing. 

It's all Him. It's all His glory. It's all His grace. 

Goodbye basement. You've been yet another avenue that allowed us to see God's grace all around us. You will be missed and remembered fondly. 

12.10.2012

Baby Update #1

I attempted weekly posts when I was pregnant with Lily, but it didn't last very long. Let's see if I can make it last with this one.

How far along? 10 weeks tomorrow

Baby bump? In the words of my doctor at my last visit as he felt my stomach, "It's there {a bump}. You are going to get big and feel heavy a lot quicker than the last one." Thanks. If only he knew how big and heavy I QUICKLY got with Lily!

Maternity clothes? No

Total weight gain? None, but I know that won't last long

Cravings: I thought I craved food with Lily. Turns out I just really liked Spaghettios and enjoyed eating them  if and when it was in the house. I'm craving water like there won't be any left tomorrow. I stay thirsty, so I drink tons of water. I was the same way with Lily. But, this time around I truly know what a craving is! I crave different things and once I eat it, the craving is gone. Zaxby's chicken fingers was the last one. I ate at a Japanese steakhouse yesterday after church, so that craving has been satisfied. Wonder what will be next?

Food that nearly makes me vomit when I think about it: crumbled ground beef (like in spaghetti, but I can still eat a burger), corn, all hot drinks (which is so unlike me since I drink coffee everyday and drank it my entire pregnancy with Lily. I did drink two cups of decaf coffee last week, but I certainly did not enjoy it like I usually do)

Symptoms: nausea without vomiting, headaches, exhaustion, round ligament pain (if I move too suddenly my abs cramp up). RLP was actually my first symptom of being pregnant with Lily and this one. I totally forgot about the pain until one night in early November when I rolled over in the bed and felt intense pain in my sides. It was then that I first thought, hmm, I haven't felt that kind of pain since I was pregnant with Lily. 

Sleep: I'm not sure I know what that is. I'm a terrible sleeper anyway, but it's been really bad during this pregnancy. I go to sleep just fine, but after about 1 1/2 hours I'm awake for the next 4ish hours. Then I'm back asleep just in time to wake up again in 2 hours. I'm trying to avoid taking any meds for that since it normally has the opposite effect on me.

Movement: None yet

Gender: We don't know yet. Lily alternates days with wanting a baby brother/sister. The other day she told everyone she was having 2 brothers and that she wanted a baby sister named Linda.

Belly button in or out: In

What I miss: Not having to watch my caffeine intake.

Best Moment this week: Hearing my doctor say I was clear of a miscarriage (of course, he can't be sure of that but everything looks good).

Challenge: I'm in one of my best friends wedding in January. Of course, the dress was measured for a non-pregnant me and it's too late to make any changes. Getting through the holiday season without gaining weight is difficult enough, but doing it while pregnant and having all kinds of cravings is going to be difficult. Thankfully I get really sick if I eat too much, so hopefully that will keep me from overdoing it.

12.03.2012

I Never Dreamed He Would Say Yes, Again

There was this season of life in 2009 that Brent and I prayed for two very specific things.

I wanted a teaching position at my church's new Christian academy. We wanted our first baby.

On May 11, 2009, I was offered the job and found out I was pregnant. You can read about that here. 

I didn't think God would say yes to both.

8 months pregnant with Lily at a surprise baby shower with my first class at the academy. Precious precious memories. The weight gain? Not so precious. 

There was this season of life in 2012 where we were so desperate for things to change that we didn't pray for anything specific. We simply prayed for contentment with whatever the Lord gave or didn't give to us. It was all we knew to pray.

The miscarriage left me without hope. Brent's job made him miserable.

We didn't pray for another baby. We didn't pray for another job. We prayed for content hearts in Christ alone. Satisfaction in what He provides, trusting and forcing ourselves to believe it was for our good and that He was receiving glory.

...until Brent had a job prospect in September. Then we prayed like crazy, very specific, and without ceasing.

Meanwhile, Lily prayed for a baby. She told us on several occasions in October that she wanted a baby. Every time she mentioned a baby, I agreed with her and we talked to God about it.

On November 5, 2012, Brent started a new job.
On November 8, 2012 I found out I was pregnant.

Again, He said yes to both.
Picture by my friend Lauren

Picture by my friend Lauren


Picture by my friend Lauren

Picture by my friend Lauren

I never dreamed He would answer both requests the first time in 2009. I certainly didn't imagine more yes's in 2012 to the same requests. 

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us
Ephesians 3:20

God is good and faithful all the time and His timing IS perfect!

And for many of you wondering about our adoption. It's on hold. Well, it never actually started. The application was filled out, but never turned in because it costs money that we didn't have to spare. Thankfully, everything on the application is about to change anyway (address, job stuff, etc.). We will continue to pray about our future with adoption and revisit after Baby VK is born.

Pregnancy update post to come including a cute little video from the big sister...


11.23.2012

Black Friday the "Wright" Way

I hope all of you are sitting down for this..........I'm not Black Friday shopping this year.

Shocker!

There are a few reasons why I'm not. The main one is the fact that we are buying a house in 3 weeks. Merry Christmas to us and as a result, no gifts for anyone else.

Selfish, huh?

Anyway. I'm really missing being at the mall with my mom and cousins. Black Friday is a serious event in which we buy all gifts for my grandmother to give as well as all gifts we give to others.  I've been participating in extreme Black Friday shopping since 2001. I missed 2002 because I was in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and I missed 2011 because we were in Gatlinburg (we still shopped the outlets at midnight, but keep reading and you'll see why that doesn't count).

Since we consider ourselves experts, I thought I would share our incredible knowledge gleaned from years of doing Black Friday the "Wright" way. See what I did there?

What Official Black Friday is not:
1.  It is not showing up at JCPenney when it opens to buy a few pillows and go home to get back in bed.
2.  It is not a day for shopping for yourself and seeing to it that you get the best deals on things for yourself.
3.  Although many malls and stores open while it is still Thursday, Black Friday actually begins on Friday people. It begins at 4 AM at the earliest. Anytime before this is still considered Black Thursday shopping. Thursday is Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your family. Go home and sleep. Wake up early. Shop on Friday.
4.  It is not for those that consider shopping on Black Friday just a way to kill some time and browse the deals. Don't come if you treat this casually. You will only get in the way of those that have a game plan and shop strategically.
5. Contrary to popular belief, it is not camping outside of Best Buy or Walmart to be first in line for a great deal on a flat screen or some hot new toy for your kid.
6. It is not shopping anywhere but the Galleria (or another major indoor mall).

If you do any of these things, you are weak and untrained. And you'll be on my nerves if I run into you while shopping. And the look on my face and the things I say under my breath will make that obvious.

What Official Black Friday is: 
1.  It is an all day event. Beginning as early as 4 AM and ending at dinner time. The norm for us is 5 AM to 6 PM.
2. It is a day to shop for others. If you have a family like mine who still buys gifts for everyone (as opposed to drawing names and whatnot), Black Friday is an opportunity to tackle your entire gift list in one long day.
3.  It is for those that have previously considered the deals, consulted the sales papers, and have a game plan. There is no time for meaningless wandering or hanging out with your significant other. Or strolling your baby. Please do us all a favor and leave the kids at home.
4.  Because it is a day to tackle your gift buying for everyone on your Christmas list, there is no need to be part of the crazy crowd that waits outside for hours for the stores to open. That's just not worth the stress.
5. It is a day to eat coffee/breakfast at 5 AM at Starbucks, lunch at 9 or 10 AM at Chick fil A, and two snacks around 2 and 4 PM at Auntie Anne's and The Great American Cookie Company.
6. It is exclusive shopping at the Galleria (or another major indoor mall). If there is a gift that can only be bought at a store that is not inside the Galleria, you may still receive the gift but it will not be purchased on Black Friday. We don't leave the Galleria until it's time to go home. And at that point we don't want to go anywhere else but home.

If you are doing things this way, you will find great success in your shopping adventure and you won't find yourself in a fight with me at Auntie Anne's. I save my energy for arguments with those who aren't cut out for Black Friday.

How to Prepare for Black Friday: Once the kitchen is clean, then and only then may you pull out the sales papers. Everyone in the family that wants to receive gifts for Christmas must come to Thanksgiving prepared to provide a wish list. All wish lists are compiled and compared with the sales papers and a game plan is devised to ensure the most efficient and cost-effective way to purchase these gifts.

How to Debrief after Black Friday: Once the shopping is complete, head to your grandmother's house who has graciously pulled out all leftovers from Thanksgiving. Sit down. Eat. Breathe. Relax. Tell funny/frustrating stories from the day. Then unload the car. Sort gifts and explain to your grandmother what she bought for everyone. Go home and go to bed!

Of course, I say all of this with great sarcasm.

Or maybe I don't??? :)

Just consider yourself informed.






11.19.2012

My Immortal Camry

Christmas Day 2001, the day I got the Camry. This picture cracks me up. If only you could see what it looks like now...it's not recognizable compared to this picture. 

The ONLY good thing about selling the Camry is that I have something to blog about. That's it. Period.

My dream for the Camry would be to keep it until near death, then let Ben and TH take it to "Grindaddy's" to give it a redneck redo and treat it like they do their 4-wheelers and tractors. It's the only end that I think is fitting for my dear car that is practically a family member.

Really, I want to be by her side until her wheels can turn no more. I want to know how it ends.

Turns out, we need the money??? Whatever. I don't think you can put a price on such a devoted and loyal member of our family.

I thought I would recap the past 10 years, 10 months, and 20 days of my life with the most beloved car of all times. That's 3,977 days to be exact. I know you were wondering!

First, let me tell you the story of the day I got the car. 
I turned 16 in the spring and knew I wouldn't be getting a car immediately. I drove my mom's maroon Toyota Previa when I needed it. If you want a mental image, think of Juno Macguff driving in the movie Juno minus the baby. I drove it sparingly. In fact, the only time I remember driving my mom's van anywhere was for show choir practice. I showed up late and left when it was dark so no one saw what I was driving.

Brent and I started dating in August of 2001. My now FIL traveled a lot with his job and bought the Camry in '96 to drive for work. I distinctly remember my dad telling my FIL that he was interested in buying the Camry if he ever sold it.

Fast forward to sometime near Christmas in December 2001 and my dad went to meet my FIL one evening after dinner. That wasn't completely out of the ordinary since our families are friends, but for whatever reason that event stuck out to me. On Christmas Eve, I had a feeling I was getting the Camry for Christmas. Brent was driving me home that night and we passed a local business near my parent's house. And I STILL remember the incredible excitement when I saw a white Camry sitting alone in the parking lot. It was as if Santa and his reindeer had just left the ground. I swear it was covered in a dusting of gold sprinkles straight from the North Pole. Of course, I screamed loud enough to make Brent think he was about to drive off a cliff. Then, I started asking all kinds of questions...to which he knew no answers. All I knew was I was 99.9% sure that was MY Camry sitting in that parking lot.

Christmas day I was a nervous wreck. Our tradition is Santa stuff with my parents in the morning, then Christmas with my dad's side of the family that afternoon. So, really, the car could have been given to me at any moment.

Well, the morning came and went and Santa didn't bring me a car.

Then came gift time at my grandparent's house. Of course, I knew the car would be the last gift given to me. My dad walks off and comes back with this HUGE wrapped box. For half a second I was let down, but I was determined there was a key or some hint to the car wrapped inside. If I remember correctly, there was no key, but there was some sort of note about going to look outside. I began to walk outside, meanwhile in my head I was practicing my pretend surprise reaction, and what do you know? I was right! My Camry was sitting in the front yard.

I still remember the first CD I ever listened to--Jewel "This Way". My brother gave it to me that same Christmas. Now, there are 3 CDs stuck in the player because it quit working about 3 1/2 years ago.

The Camry took us many places, one of them being Captiva Island for our honeymoon. 


Timeline of Drivers of the Camry: 
Sometime before Nov '96: The brand new '97 Camry is parked on the corner of a dealership. A car on the street runs a red light, hits another car, which then hits the Camry and totals it. Poor thing was almost killed before anyone ever bought it. Camry is sold to a local business man that rebuilds and sells Toyotas.

Nov '96: My father in law buys the car from Billy Graham (the local business man, not the evangelist) with a rebuilt title and a mere 21 miles on it.

Feb 2000: Brent gets his license and drives the Camry until he gets his own car.

Dec. 25, 2001: The Camry is given to me with 128,000 miles on it.

May 26, 2007: Brent and I get married and not only does he get me as his wife, he gets my Camry. For the most part, I drive his Pathfinder. At this point, the Camry still looks decent, so I don't mind driving it every once in a while. We came SO close to buying a new Camry shortly after we got married, but obviously we decided not to.

September 2009: With Lily coming along and our lease almost up on Brent's car, we trade the Pathfinder in for a van. The Camry now only has 3 hubcaps and the paint job is getting worse by the second. The Camry is officially Brent's car.

March 2011: Brent starts a new job and desperately needs a nicer looking car because no one wants to buy insurance from a guy who drives a car with now only 2 hubcaps and a rusty paint job. My father in law becomes the driver of the Camry again so that Brent can drive his car.

March 2012: As much as we joked about it, the Camry really does live to see the day that Brent's brother Ryan turns 16. However, Ryan doesn't want the Camry (can't imagine why???), so Brent gets the Camry back.

November 5, 2012: Brent starts a new job and gets a company car. The poor Camry just sits in the driveway :(.

November 14, 2012: We put the Camry on Craigslist and within 2 hours it's sold with 260,500 (approx.) miles on it.

I got a hubcap for Christmas 2007. The first of three attempts to keep hubcaps on the wheels. 


Because the car was totaled and rebuilt, it has a few quirks:

One quirk is that the steering wheel sings to you. Seriously. Every turn of the steering wheel, even if it's oh so slight, the wheel sings.

Another quirk is the car alarm goes off at any moment for any length of time and there isn't a THING you can do about it. There have been times that either I or Brent (and probably others) have been locked in the car while the alarm was going off. All you can do is sit there and wait patiently and wish you had a sign for all the onlookers, "Sorry, but this car is special and I can't turn off the alarm."

Another is that you can take the key out without putting the car in park (thus, the reason I ALWAYS put the emergency break on in any car I park...habit, thanks to the Camry). One day while Brent was in middle school, his dad came to pick him up. The Camry was parked in the school's parking lot. It proceeded to roll down the hill and hit a tree. We are thankful the tree was there, otherwise it would have rolled onto a busy 4 lane street.

Speaking of the same quirk, one late night after we were married, the Camry rolled out of our flat driveway, turned a hard left in our flat cul de sac, and ran over the neighbor's mailbox. Completely knocked it out of the ground. The police and neighbors were baffled at how a car could do that by itself. They assumed Brent did it after he had been drinking.

The car kept me safe for nearly 11 years of my driving life. I never once had any type of accident in it. However, there was one summer I was keeping my cousins at their house. The Camry was parked in the street and the neighbor backed into the car. Which only means there is one part of the car that looks good and presentable--the back left panel. The paint job is so bad that there is a color difference between the old white and the new white.

Once while Brent's dad had the car for the second time, the car caught on fire on his way to work. We were all sure it was the end of the car's life. Nope. It was just the battery.

So, if you are keeping up (and if you are still reading this long post), the Camry has been in 4 wrecks. None of which were there any people in the car. How many cars can say that? That is an impressive statistic!

We sold the Camry to a man that runs a used car lot. He is going to paint it and give it a complete set of matching hubcaps! I told him to please send me pics when he is done! I'm so glad we sold it to someone that is going to improve it. The Camry is getting a new lease on life. It truly is immortal!

My last time to ever sit in the Camry

11.16.2012

Lily's Christmas List

Some things boys and girls don't have. Lily said in the bath tub tonight. I was folding clothes in the hallway.

I poked my head in the bathroom. What did you say?

Some things boys and girls don't have.

Like what?

Like couches and bathtubs. 

And what should we do about that? 

We should buy them because we have money. 

Would you like to do that for Christmas?

Yes. 

She's been looking at the Compassion Gift Catalog for a while. Well, until Brent squished a huge moth between the magazine and a wall. I had to throw away the moth juice splattered magazine. 

Compassion is a quality I faithfully pray she will have.  

I can't take credit for anything she said in the bathtub tonight. We serve a God that answers prayers. He's molding my child in to what He wants her to be: filled with compassion. 

Since Lily was born, Christmas traditions make me cringe. I enjoy them to the fullest, be sure of that! The tree, the pictures with Santa, the food, the crafts, Elvis (my fave Christmas album), the wonder and magic of this season. It's my favorite time of year because it really is wonderful.

I'm not against the traditions. 

I'm against letting my child believe Christmas is about those traditions. 

C.S. Lewis said, Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important. 

I don't want the true meaning for Christmas to be moderately important in our family. I want it to be infinitely important, far above all earthly traditions. And I want Jesus to have highest importance in our hearts year round. I'm serious about my Jesus and the great sacrifice He made for me. He's far too good and faithful to me for me to treat Him like he's just something worth considering alongside all the other earthly things. 

I think too many of us let Jesus become moderately important. 

I don't think it's a mistake to take Him too serious. To take God's wrath too serious. And to take His love too serious. 

With Black Friday just around the corner, I'm bound to be asked by several people what is on Lily's Christmas list this year. I have such a hard time with this. One, I'm an anti-clutter freak and don't want toys to take over my house. Two, I don't want her to receive a ton of meaningless gifts that she doesn't need and will only create a short-lived happiness. I like for her gifts to have purpose and/or meet a need, whether that be spiritual, intellectual, physical, etc. But I'm not going to walk the aisles of Target and take note of all the gifts I'm sure she would enjoy.

I'm home alone tonight while Brent is at football game and Lily is with her grandparents. I began writing down a list of gifts for family to get Lily so that I will be prepared Thanksgiving night when we sit down as a family to create our plan of attack for Black Friday. One thing led to another and I found myself looking at Compassion's website at children who have been waiting over a year to be sponsored.

Over a year.

For 473 (and less) days over a thousand children have been waiting for one of us to sacrifice a mere $38 a month so that they can receive basic needs and receive the good news of Jesus.

Remind me again why Lily needs a Christmas list?

We sponsor sweet Richard in Togo. If I could meet him I think my heart would melt and I would fill a river with my joyful tears.

If you sponsor a child either through Compassion or another similar organization, thank you for sacrificing a portion of your budget to completely change the life of not just a child, but an entire family. Isn't it a blessing and don't you LOVE getting letters and pictures from your child?

If you aren't involved in something like this, what are you waiting on? Because there are faces of precious children  right here that have been waiting for over a year for someone (you) to change their world for just $38. If you have children, picture your child in one of those pictures and see if you can say no to sponsoring a child. I hope you can't help but say yes.

No, Compassion did not ask me to write this post. This is what's on my merry little heart.

May we carefully regard Jesus in our lives. To see that He is esteemed and respected above all earthly things. 

11.02.2012

Halloween 2012

Our Halloween events on Wednesday started with a party and parade at Lily's school. These are the best pics my mom could get of The Princess. She was probably too busy playing teacher and keeping all of her friends in line. 



The Princess and Batman in Mommy's room after the parade was over. 


That night we went to a huge trunk or treat at a local church. Lily had a blast and even saw a few friends!


Had to get a pic with the lady with purple hair. A favored color in the eyes of The Princess. 

We saw one of Lily's friends from dance class. This was a moment where both mommies were forcing their little girls to at least look like they enjoy each other's company. This is the best they would give us. 

Then we ran into long time friends Iron Man and Spiderman. Their sister Tinkerbell missed the photo op. 

The Princess and Alvin

By this point in the night The Princess was done and Lily came back. She found a calf!


And today, my mom gave Lily an early birthday present and gave us front row seats to Disney on Ice! 






Because this cup of shaved ice was $12, this the only cup she is allowed to drink out of the rest of her life! All she wanted was some water, but there was conveniently only ONE concession stand open but several Disney merchandise tables open. I was not about to stand in line for water and miss the entire second half of the show. So we settled for $12 worth of ICE!


Horrible pic, but I loved Under the Sea!

Mickey and Minnie

What a fun week we have had!!!



10.30.2012

Boo at the Zoo

Sunday night we had a little family trip to the zoo for their annual Halloween event.

We had free tickets from the company Brent works for (which in 2 days will be his former company!) so we took advantage of that. We still spent $16 in rides...money well spent due to the joy on Lily's face. And the fact that the train ran out of gas so we got to ride backwards on the track back to the station. I'll be honest with you though, I wouldn't have paid money for the tickets AND the rides. I'm too cheap and the 3 laps around a small diameter to ride a pony was not worth $5.50.

And now I'm done with my review. On to the fun stuff. Pictures!

Waiting for Daddy to get a ticket to ride the pony!

LOVE the expression on her face! This was just before she realized what was going on and proceeded to get down. 

The best pic Brent could get of us. You know who wouldn't cooperate...and it wasn't me or the pony. There is a pic of me with my mom around Lily's age doing the same thing except I am red in the face and screaming. Dad, if you care to rummage through a bunch of old pics to find it, let me know. 

We danced to the Monster Mash

Yes, she has on bright blue socks. I refuse to battle this. Not important and not worth the fight.  

She asked all night if we would see a witch. We did while trick or treating. She's overcome with excitement...can't you tell? Ha!

Lily and Daddy waiting for the Scooby Zoo wildlife show to start. If by "wildlife" you mean a rat, opossum, snake, and crow, then you got it! If by "show" you mean zoo workers dressed in costume with mics that hardly work, you got it!

Family pic on the train: Take 1

Family pic on the train: Take 2

After we left, we went to dinner. Lily wanted CFA until she realized it was Sunday. Then, she wanted to eat at Winn Dixie until we reminded her that was a grocery store. So we settled for Italian!

Happy Halloween!



10.23.2012

Keep me desperate Lord

This January will mark 2 years since Brent and I did something crazy.

It was a HUGE step of faith and something that was done in complete obedience to the Lord.

Brent lost his job the same day I quit mine. It was a job that I loved and still miss to this day, but I knew the Lord wanted me at home with Lily. We had already made the decision to tell my principal that day, and even after a phone call from Brent that he lost his job and the GREAT temptation to change my mind, I still quit. (Thankfully, as a teacher, I was paid through August!)

That lasted for 7 months...the whole SAHM thing. Then we moved and I had to find a full time job.

Really, God, you only wanted me at home for 7 months? Gee, thanks. 

I was mad, confused, and full of what-ifs. I trusted that God had a plan, but I did not trust that His plan was actually for my good. Because our situation was anything but good.

For two years, we have quietly thought to ourselves, "Where is our blessing?" It's not something either of us mentioned to each other until about three months ago. It sounds so selfish to even think of that question. I'm embarrassed to admit that I thought I deserved His blessing for doing what He asked of me. As if I deserve added blessings to the good news of my salvation.

But God promises to bless the obedience of his children. And we are certain that two years ago when we completely altered the course of our financial life, it was an act of obedience...and we just had no clue why things continued to get harder and harder after that day.

The blessing was there all along. Just not in the form I preferred. For two years I could have run from God and doubted Him to point where I ignored His loving pursuit of me. Glory be to God that He made me run to Him instead to embrace His loving pursuit of me!

Being forced to trust Him was the blessing. He pulled me into intimate fellowship with Him that I certainly wouldn't have had otherwise. For two years I have experienced the comforting reality of a Father who provides for His children. I've had moment after moment where I soaked in the Word and made myself believe it to be truth, even though Satan wanted to use my circumstances to leave me with no hope.

I can truthfully say that for two years, Jesus has become my best friend. He's become my first love. I've been drawn to Him like never before. I've desired His presence like never before. I've learned that all my heart truly longs for is Him. Absolutely nothing else. Other things may cloud this longing, but it's always there. My satisfaction, terrific or horrible circumstances, is in Him alone.

Does it sound crazy to say that I was sad when Brent accepted a new job? Of course, I was thrilled for him. His new job involves everything he's ever wanted in a job. I was thrilled for us as a family because it is a good opportunity for all of us. I am even thrilled about moving again. This job will hopefully end these two years of hardship. At least for now...I'm certainly not going to assume this will never happen again.

But I'm sad to see the hardship go. It's what brought me to my knees so many times, what made me desperate for God, what taught me to pray specifically and without ceasing, what taught me to be content with God's plan, what taught me patience, what taught me to be Brent's helpmate and encourager, what taught me to believe that my Father is my provider, what taught me that He IS good! What didn't it teach me?

I felt like I was leaving my Jesus behind. That sounds weird and I'm not even sure I can explain what I mean by that.

Once Brent accepted the job, a huge fear sunk deep into my heart. What if I don't see my great need for Him anymore? What if I don't fall to my knees in desperation anymore? What if I don't seek Him with all my heart anymore? What if I allow the things of this world cloud my longing for Him? What if I stop modeling to Lily a genuine and deep fellowship with my Savior?

I know my relationship with Jesus doesn't have to all of the sudden become shallow because my circumstances are looking up. I'm just fearful that my flesh will want to let other things be my first love. I pray to still see my great need for Him and model for Lily what it means to truly be a follower of Christ.

Father, thank you for the ultimate blessing of your presence and thank you for the material blessing of a new job. May what you have done for us never become a fleeting thought, but always a deep conviction of your love for us. May your work in our lives always be a fresh memory. Keep me desperately waiting on You, Lord, regardless of any blessing you give me. 


10.18.2012

God's Crazy Plans (aka Big News)

So sorry for my lack of posts over the past week. We received some news that kind of threw us for a loop and will soon create a little chaos. What is it you ask?

We are moving again. 

Oh my good gracious. Did you read that?

We are moving AGAIN. 

{I had to re-type that so that I might actually believe it.}

That is a true statement. One that I've gotten used to saying. I really should have known when we moved 679 miles south right after our wedding, then abruptly moved 766 miles back north after being married for 6 weeks that the whole concept of moving would be our norm. This brings the total count of moves to 7 since May 2007. That number is actual moves from one apt/house to another, not actual cities. Thank God!

But there is a phrase I never ever imagined would be true.

Are you ready for this? 

We are moving again to the place we left just over 11 months ago. 

No you are not dyslexic. You read it right. 

No judging necessary. We already know that we are crazy. Absolutely positively crazy. Quite frankly, it's God who is the crazy one. It's all His doing anyway. 

To make a long story short, Brent has been completely unhappy with his current job the past few months. Like, it's been really bad, y'all. Another job that he applied for back in December finally contacted him...5 weeks ago. Guess they like to take their time??? I mean, I guess God likes to take His time?

But we were sure that God would say no again because He has said no quite a lot the past two years. We still fervently prayed every day, all day. We specifically prayed that Brent would get the job, and we also prayed for us to just be content with the Lord's plan. Trusting Him no matter what was the bottom line. 

The job was offered to him, after 15 lllooonnnggg days of waiting to hear back. And the offer was too good to resist. 

So, you know what that means. Packing up the boxes again. Why did I ever unpack in the first place? 
Oh wait, I know, because we had plans to stay in Birmingham for a lot longer than a year

I've always known deep down that Birmingham was just a middle ground. A place to live in between North AL and wherever the Lord prepared us for after Birmingham. I just assumed this in-between-season would last longer and that the place He was preparing us for was not the place we left!

I guess this would be the perfect time to quote some Scripture that is oh so true right now.

The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9

If that ain't the truth, then I don't know what is!

Of course, we have both wondered why in the world the Lord is bringing us back. Or why He moved us to Bham in the first place if He knew we would be right back in North AL a year later.

We've also wondered if, like the Israelites, God let us have our way for a little while.

However, we can look back on the past year and see a very specific, big way that God used me while we have been here. To think He orchestrated all this crazy job/moving stuff so that I can be used by Him for one specific purpose blows my mind. Why does He want to use me? I am so unworthy to be used by Him for His glory. But, that's why He made me. He takes great delight in me, a filthy flawed human that He made and sees as His righteous Son. I am humbly grateful. He had a purpose for us while we were here. The purpose has been fulfilled. It's time to go back.

We can look back on this year and see why many things didn't work out (things that irritated us at the time) so that this move would be possible. We can look ahead and see how God is preparing the way and working out the details so that this move will be possible.

This year in Birmingham has been rough. Other than being closer to our families, there hasn't been much about this year that I have enjoyed. It's been super crappy for several different reasons. I'm thankful that the Lord has carried us through the rough waters and is hopefully bringing us to a peaceful shore for a while.

Sorry Birmingham, family, and friends. I do love you. You will always be home. Maybe we can try again later, but my track record in moving says that I can't make any promises.

One thing I know is that everything that has happened has been proof that we are held in His loving hands and nothing has happened that He didn't cause or allow. We have plenty of evidence of God's faithfulness to share with Lily. His protection and provision in our lives has never been more evident than it is now.

The time frame of the actual move is uncertain. There is a house we found that fits the bill all the way around (with a few extras we like). We are meeting with a realtor this weekend to see it. We have a lot of details to sort through and decisions to make. And we are about to be in the middle of the holiday season, Lily's birthday, and one of my best friend's wedding in January (that Lily and I are both in!).

Time for things to get crazy...again!

As always, I'll keep you updated. 

10.11.2012

Beach Trip with my Cohort C Girls!



This past weekend Brent held the fort down so I could head to the beach for a girls trip. I got to spend four days with my best friends from my days at Auburn. We all live in different cities now, but we have kept in touch since college through the phone and social media. I am so thankful for social media. I know there are some negative things about being connected to the world 24/7. I'm not too fond of it myself. On the flip side, there are awesome things about being connected to your friends 24/7 when you see them maybe once a year. Thankfully, we've had wedding festivities and babies over the past 5 years that have brought us all together again several times.

This trip was a repeat of a trip 5 1/2 years ago, only this time we added a friend :). We call ourselves the "Cohort C" group because that was the name of our education cohort at Auburn. We went on a beach trip our senior year because two of us were about to get married and we were all headed to different cities after graduation.

This was us post-Chi Chi, but pre-marriage and pre-baby. Let me break that down for you...we were relieved to have hard-to-please Chi Chi and her nearly impossible Gee's Bend quilting/paper mache class behind us and our bodies had not yet been stretched for 9 months to accommodate a human. Hence the two piece bathing suit, full length shot. 

Rebecca, Ashley, me, Allison, Jessica
Gulf Shores 2007


We were there for three nights and managed to find a reason to go to Publix every night. We ate breakfast and lunch in the condo and ate out for dinners. The food trucks in Seaside are tasty and Red Bar is a DELICIOUS place to eat.

Yes, we took a 4 month old to a bar. Yes, we got lots of looks as we pushed our way through the crowd with her infant carrier. No, Jessica, you are not a bad mother. We all drank water for cryin' out loud! 

We rented movies, played Nerts (or Nurts? or BooCow?), ate way too much, stayed up too late, took naps on the beach, put Aubrey through sleep training, and discussed what DHR might do if they hear we eat Sour Patch Kids Cabbage Patch Kids.

Now we are all married and among us we have four children, one more on the way, and three worshiping Jesus in Heaven. Three of us are teaching full time (Terri Leigh, that includes you!). Three of us are SAHM's. Two of us are pastor's wives. Four of us are very crafty (Jessica, I excluded us from this bunch!). Three of us live in our hometown. Five of us have iPhones and one of us (ahem, me) has the world's dumbest smart phone. But, after this weekend we are all on Twitter and Instagram :). It's just that five of us will be able to use those apps more efficiently than that one other (again, that would be me).


Terri Leigh, Rebecca, Jessica with baby Aubrey, me, Ashley (with a baby on the way), and Allison
Seagrove Beach 2012

I had to crop the above picture because as soon as this pic was taken, Rebecca yells, "Nothing below the belly button is allowed to be on the internet!" Haha! Funny how things change as you get older :). 

All I have to say, girls, is at least we don't look like these ladies yet. 

We met these ladies on our first beach trip in 2007. They were oh so very classy with their cigs hanging out of their mouth. The cigs weren't the only thing hanging out. 

I'm so thankful for my years at Auburn, getting to know and spend time with these friends. I'm also thankful that we haven't skipped a beat in our friendships with each other, even though we hardly see each other! God is good :). Love y'all!

10.01.2012

Shots in the Butt and Trapped Gas

In light of yesterday's super serious post, I want to make you chuckle just a little if I can.

For the record, I got my first ever shot in the butt today. My entire lower back is in pain. Is this normal or am I a baby? And my heart has been racing ever since I left the doc office. On the upside, I am talking like a normal person now. Not like a whispering old man going through puberty. Which reminds me of this episode of Friends...



Now, on to the topic of discussion that causes multiple arguments in this merry little household.

Trapped Gas. Yes, I did just type that publicly. I can't believe it either.

Let's just get over our reserved selves and laugh together.

I'm not even going to attempt to describe to you what it is. So, I will resort to a reliable source: The Mayo Clinic.

Anything that causes intestinal gas or is associated with constipation or diarrhea can lead to gas pains. These pains generally occur when gas builds up in your intestines, and you're not able to expel it. On average, most people pass gas at least 10 times a day.

Built up gas that can't get out. Sounds like trapped gas, right?

Well, Brent does not believe in it. He thinks trapped gas is a big fat myth. Can we please get a Mythbusters episode to prove that it's true? If they can prove it, he'll believe it.

Because apparently me laying in bed burping incessantly and complaining of pain in my shoulder blades is not enough proof that I have gas that was trapped and is escaping with each belch.

Or maybe Brent should visit Las Higuerillas, Mexico for a week with the most awesomely unreserved people I know, eating unrefrigerated leftover spaghetti, authentic greasy Mexican food, and drinking water that may be contaminated with parasites, then gorging ourselves on the biggest burger Whataburger sells in celebration that we survived the heat, food, lack of electricity, lack of running water, and lack of plumbing for a week while living in tents on the sand.

{Aren't mission trips the BEST?!}

Then, maybe he'll know the enormous pain of trapped gas. If you are in denial too, it looks like the picture below. Can we please recreate this trip down to the very last detail?



Y'all, it's a real medical issue. It can cause pain up into your rib cage, back, and arms and make you feel like you're having a heart attack. 

It can happen when you are working out on the treadmill at the St. Vincent's fitness center and your left arm starts hurting. You get sent to the ER for a heart attack only to find out it's trapped gas. Yes, Brent, even the medical professionals claim trapped gas! 

And it can rush you to the ER in your turquoise t-shirt that hits just at your hips so that your hot pink panties can be seen and when the paramedic finally gives you medicine to relieve the REAL pain of trapped gas, you grab him by the collar and say "I love you" with every horrid particle of your 3am morning breath. 

Can I get a witness? Or is my mother the only other one that has experienced this? Because I really need your support to convince my in-denial husband that trapped gas is a reality. {Yes, I had her permission to tell her trapped gas stories. And I have another super embarrassing one to tell about that one time at the YMCA that has nothing to do with trapped gas...but I'll need extra permission for that one.} 

Trapped gas anyone?

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