10.31.2013

Happy Halloween 2013

Well I'm glad the kids had their parties at school already since it looks like there won't be a lot of trick-or-treating tonight with the weather that is headed our way.

I guess I should clarify that only one kid had an actual party. I'm sure you can guess which one. Scott's diet didn't deviate from his standard 6 oz of Enfamil every 3-4 hours and he won't have reason to worry about the Sugarbugs since he doesn't have any teeth nor will he be eating gobs and gobs of candy. Lily won't be either, for that matter.

I don't know what our plans are for tonight. I planned to eat dinner at our church's Trunk-or-Treat. They were cooking hot dogs...at least I think they were. I'm probably wrong and we would have been eating gobs and gobs of candy for dinner. The event is cancelled but we still have to figure out what to eat for dinner. If you read my last post, you know I plan my meals for every night of the week. So, this would be the downside to being so organized and only buying what we need for each meal. There's nothing to eat for dinner tonight. I'm sure I could scrounge up something and we could have grilled cheese or quesadillas. But it's Halloween, so that means we need to do something special...especially if we won't be spending the evening collecting candy. I'm thinking Papa Murphy's.

I don't know why I went into so much detail about tonight's dinner situation. But I did. So there.

I got pictures from Lily's party at school and I also put the kids in different costumes this morning to take a few pics. Putting Scott in an outfit that is slightly too short, after he spit up all over it, after he woke up too early from a cat nap, then making him pose as Superman was as FUN as you can imagine.

Some of these pics are fuzzy. Just pretend they aren't.

Aubie the Tiger

Lily playing pin the spider on the web

Lily and one of her best friends...who just happens to be dressed as Lily's favorite, Princess Sofia. And she is even wearing the Amulet of Avalor. Oh my, so much to be excited about!!! 

Lily's class with her teacher, the Tooth Fairy



Lily and the Tooth Fairy...who also happens to be a fabulous teacher! 

War Eagle Argh! 

"Lily, do your Superman pose"

And the red-faced Superman with his Supergirl sister, lipstick and all

He's not really smiling, I just happened to get a pic in between some really mad facial expressions/screams and it looks like a smile. It'll do. 

I made them lay on their bellies so I could get their capes "flying" through the air. Looks real, doesn't it? Humor me. 

Hoping the rain will hold off for a little trick-or-treating tonight. Happy Halloween everyone!!!

10.25.2013

7: Food

{If you don't know about Jen Hatmaker's book 7, read here first. }

Well, I just loved this chapter

And all the ones after it...so let's see if I can stay focused long enough to summarize this one chapter. The really good stuff is at the end of this post, so get comfortable. This is long.

Chicken. Eggs. Whole-wheat bread. Sweet potatoes. Spinach. Avocados. Apples.

For a whole month, Jen only ate those 7 foods.

She didn't do it to lose weight, but that was an unintended result.
She didn't do it to become more healthy, but that was also an unintended result.

Just like all the other areas in which she fasts throughout the book, she gave up all but 7 foods so that she could completely get her mind off herself and on Jesus instead. Her intended result was to have more of Jesus and that's just what happened because a fast always drives us to prayer if we are truly motivated to stick to the fast. Because what else could help anyone endure 31 days of eating only 7 foods? Only the power of Jesus!

I don't have plans to only eat 7 foods for 31 days. However, I'm going on more than a month of eating toast with coconut oil and peanut butter every morning for breakfast. And sometimes I eat it again for lunch. SO WEIRD, I know. This is not a discipline thing, it's not a diet thing. I truly want this for breakfast every morning. I go to bed thinking about my toast and coffee the next morning. I'm sure this cycle will break soon and I will never ever want bread or peanut butter again. I can't imagine not liking peanut butter. But, I'm going to enjoy it as long as my taste buds agree with me.

I do have plans to continue to strive to eat real food. For the first time in my life though, I see this as something that honors God. Not merely a healthy option.

For the longest time, I've been making an effort to "eat clean". I believe that eating real, whole foods is the best way to live a healthy lifestyle. Cutting out additives, preservatives, and artificial ingredients is key to losing weight and avoiding many health issues. However, eating clean is a frustrating endeavor when you are feeding 3 people on a very limited grocery budget. Eating clean is expensive when compared to eating garbage foods. The food industry has found a way to trick us into eating "healthy" FAKE foods that can be produced at a very cheap price...and actually don't make us healthier. Trying to balance buying real food and staying within my grocery budget is challenging. The balance (at least for me) is cutting out the junk as much as possible but being realistic about what I can afford to buy. I'm not going to beat myself up if I can't buy grass fed beef or organic grapes. I'm also not going to feel guilty if for dinner I make my MIL's delicious beef tips or my kindergarten teacher's chicken and rice...both include unclean ingredients but are two meals I have been making since college. Love the recipes just as they are.

I don't want to become a food snob. I don't want to go all organic and buy unheard of brands from Earth Fare and join a CSA because I pride myself on my choice of food. I want to do those things if and only if I believe they honor God. I only want to do things out of conviction from the Holy Spirit.

This chapter simply confirmed my efforts for a real food lifestyle with the realization that it is the way of eating that God intended. God made the earth to bring forth food...that's the food I should be eating. Fruit, veggies, grains, dairy, and meat. All those ingredients we can't pronounce on a nutrition label? Just man-made garbage. And if we truly believe that our bodies are temples where JESUS LIVES then shouldn't we be intentional about what we put in His house? Our bodies are not our own. They belong to Him.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

This chapter also confirmed my meal planning efforts. I love to plan meals...when I have ample time to really think about my next week and grocery shop. It's a little bit of a challenge right now. I haven't figured out how to take both kids to the store. I know some of you more seasoned Mommas are rolling your eyes right now. But, where in the world do you put the groceries??? Lily can walk with me, but Scott's car seat isn't designed to sit in the front part of the grocery cart so he has to sit in the large part...and at that point why did I even go to the store to buy groceries? So for now, grocery shopping has to be done when Brent can keep the kids at home...or at least Scott. Lily likes going with me to get her free cookie. THANK YOU PUBLIX! And why did I not know about this until she was almost 3?

Anyway, back to meal planning. I've always done this because I'm a Type A organize everything kind of gal. I enjoy making lists. I enjoy crossing things off my list. I enjoy grocery shopping. I enjoy organizing my fridge and pantry with the groceries I purchase. But, just like eating real foods, I now see meal planning as something that honors the Lord. It's all about being intentional with what I buy. When I meal plan I am doing two things: only buying what I will need for the upcoming week (and maybe some Talenti gelato...just in case I need it, can I get an Amen?) and reducing the amount of food that gets wasted.  

Growing up I was always in my mom's kitchen saying, "There's nothing to eat in this house!" or "Mom, you NEVER buy what I like." Just what any mom loves to hear after spending $200 at the grocery store, right? I have many memories of my mom sitting on the couch every week to make a meal plan for the upcoming week. She would plan the meals, make a list, and the meal plan with her oh so neat half print/half cursive writing would hang on the fridge all week. She went to the store and bought exactly what a family of 4 needed to eat 3 meals a day for 7 days. Sometimes that list included powdered milk...to which she denies doing at all except once. But, let's face it, we all know my childhood memories are completely accurate. Not a lot of miscellaneous or random items were purchased without reason. I guess by default I am the same way. I buy exactly what we need for the meals I plan. And now I see that this is a way to honor the Lord with my finances and resources. I stay within my budget and we throw away very little uneaten food. 

{Even our uneaten food could be composted and we wouldn't waste any food. But I just learned the word "compost" while reading this book. And I just made the newly-learned word a past-tense verb and I do not even fully know if I conjugated the word correctly. So...maybe I should save that fun activity for later in life.} 

So far the book convinced me even more that eating real foods and meal planning is what I should continue to strive to do and I now have a greater purpose for doing those things. 

Let me just stop right now and say that these are convictions about food that I have. They may not be your convictions. You may have never even thought about food in this way. I don't know what's going on in your food world. Seek the Lord. He'll grab your heart where it needs to be grabbed. 

Here's where the chapter really grabbed my heart and melted it. 

Jen tells a story of how she prepared a meal for her kids. Breaded and baked fish fillets. A meal her kids have consumed countless times. She did some housework while the kids ate. A while later she came into the kitchen to find five of the six fillets thrown in the trash completely untouched. Their reason for not eating them was that they didn't have any ketchup. 

{Side note: Jen has two kids from Ethiopia that she was in the process of adopting when she wrote this book.}

 "Maybe it was the headache I couldn't shake this week. Maybe it was the pizza commercial I saw that caused me actual pain. But probably it was my afternoon in an Ethiopian restaurant where I prayed for my African children and worried they were hungry and wished desperately they knew I was coming. It was probably the haunting knowledge that East Africa is suffering drought for the sixth year in a row...And tonight my kids here with me in the land of plenty threw away a pound of food because they didn't have any ketchup." (p. 22)

She goes on to say...

"How can we extract our children from this filthy engine where indulgence and ignorance and ungratefulness and waste are standard protocol? Where they know they can throw perfectly good food away because there is always more in the pantry?" (p.22)

One one side of the world she has kids who live with plenty and will always have access to more, and on the other side of the world she has kids who are wondering what day they will eat their next bowl of rice. 

I'm not in the adoption process, although I pray to be one day. 
But if I had kids in another country (or in my own country) that were on the brink of death due to starvation, I would sure be grateful for what I had here...ketchup or no ketchup.  

Regardless of God's adoption plans for us, we are commanded to care for the orphans and widows. Even if those orphans never become my children, I am to care for them like they are Lily and Scott. That includes thinking of them when I want to throw away a plate of food because I didn't have ketchup. And being satisfied with God supplying my needs rather than my wants.

I hope you have caught on to the ketchup metaphor by now.  

I'm sick of the overindulgence of food, of clothes, of money, of anything. Overindulging in the unnecessary when others don't have access to the necessary. 

Deciding to not throw away a plate of food isn't going to physically feed a child in Africa. But it's the thought process that comes with carelessly wasting and overindulging that makes our hearts grow cold and indifferent to the hungry and the poor. Being mindful of what I consume creates room to be more aware of the needs of others. And sacrificing my wants by eating that plate of fish with no ketchup is the pain necessary to be moved to care for those in need. 

"Find out how much God has given you and from it take what you need. The remainder is needed by others."
St. Augustine nailed it. Take what you need, give the rest to others (time, money, talents, materials). It's really that simple. End of story. 

Thanks for reading. Next chapter: clothes. 

10.18.2013

Scratching the surface of my thoughts on 7

I'm confident the most challenging task in my life would be to convey to you in words the heartache I have for American Christians. It's not just American Christians. It's any affluent culture that claims Christ as their Savior. It's me. I'm not pointing fingers. Except that I am. At all of us, me included.

Are you sitting down? Are you ready for what I'm about to tell you?

I read a book.

That's right. In my 20-somethings, I applied the skills I learned in Mrs. Tindal's kindergarten class and read an entire book. I couldn't put it down. For a little over a week I neglected all household duties so I could soak up the goodness of this book. I'm TOTALLY kidding. Except that I'm not kidding at all.

photo credit: www.dayspring.com 
7. an experimental mutiny against excess
clothes, shopping, waste, food, possessions, media, stress


Thankfully I don't have the challenging task of conveying my heart because Jen Hatmaker already did that. This book contains all the reasons why I am sick sick sick of myself. This book is the cry of my heart. This book contains the convicting realities of all that I have been wrestling with in my mind and my heart for a few years now. There is not a thing in this book I disagree with. And while I may not be able to practically apply all that is in this book while in this season of life with little ones, I have most certainly taken the meat of it and I am searching/praying for ways to apply it now. I want this change to stick. I don't want a high from this book that quickly fades as I settle back into normal. I don't want to settle back into normal. I want the abnormal and uncomfortable and strange and different to become the new normal. That's why, if you've noticed, I've been a little absent from all social media outlets lately. Except for the occasional need for communicating on Facebook (like giving sub plans for a day that Lily was sick and I had to stay home with her) and logging on to Twitter to tweet the link for this post, I've stayed away but not in a legalistic way. I knew after reading this book that if I let too much time pass between reading and doing, I would eventually allow the book to collect dust and my mind would become too lazy to care. This book is hard core. A social media fast is what I need so that I can reduce things in my life in order for God to increase and for His reasons for me reading this book to settle permanently in my head and heart.

More on that later.


I got to meet Jen in September at dotMOM

I need to write a book to compile all my thoughts on this book. I underlined practically every word. I was convicted in every way, so much that at the end of the book I prayed the Lord would show me where to begin to process the conviction. The conviction is GOOD.

Don't misunderstand the conviction. Jen's purpose for her readers is to be intentional and simplistic thinkers and doers; not to just be so full of conviction that we feel worthless. What she writes is that we as Christ-followers, genuine worshipers of the Most High God, are completely missing the point of our walk with Christ. We are so consumed with being consumers that we are very poor stewards of all that we have excessively consumed. We live unintentionally. We are careless. We are foolish. We don't think twice about anything because our future seems materialistically secure. We live in excess in ways we don't realize, while most of the world lives without enough to survive.

And I know what you are probably thinking. The same thoughts I had. Your individual choice to change your spending habits, your eating habits, your consumer habits are not going to even scratch the surface to solve the issue of poverty in this world.

Never mind that Jesus fed 5,000+ people with one little boy's lunch. 

But as Christ-followers, we don't do the right thing based on our justification of whether or not it will do any good. Our view is flawed and finite. We do the right thing because God has told us to do the right thing. Jen quotes in her book, "Our vocation is not contingent on results or the state of the planet. Our calling simply depends on our identity as God's response-able human image-bearers." (Ibid., 182).

I can't possibly sum up the entire book in one post. I plan to take all seven chapters and do a post on each chapter.  This is the only way I know how to process what I've read. I write to process my thoughts. And, lucky you, I'm writing my thoughts publicly.

But my mere thoughts won't do any good unless you READ THIS BOOK. I would love to discuss this with you. Trust me, you'll need someone to talk to when it's all said and done.

I'll leave you with two of my favorite questions from the book. It was hard to choose just two. The whole book is remarkable.

Would Jesus overindulge on garbage food while climbing out of a debt hole from buying things He couldn't afford to keep up with neighbors He couldn't impress? In so many ways I am the opposite of Jesus' lifestyle. This keeps me up at night. I can't have authentic communion with Him while mired in the trappings he begged me to avoid. (p. 29)

How will I answer for my choices when God confronts them one day? With this much expendable income funding restaurants, shoe stores, and movie theaters, I doubt Jesus will accept my excuses for neglecting the poor on account of cash flow. (p. 152)

Be warned. My little Merry Heart blog is about to BLOW UP with 7 stuff. I hope you'll stick around for all of it. And I pray you'll be challenged like me. Challenged enough to make room for real, permanent change in the way you do life. It's worth it.

And one of these days my online presence will be revived. I don't miss it enough to return...yet :).

10.03.2013

Scott's 3rd Month





Firsts: High school football game, wedding (Hannah and Aaron), sitting in the exersaucer, runny/stuffy nose, night without Daddy, then Mommy (separate trips).

News Headlines: Government shutdown

Favorite Toy/Activity:  Your floor gym and Winnie the Pooh on your bouncy seat

Mommy's Favorite: Your crazy big smiles that light up your whole face

Daddy's Favorite: The way you respond to us with smiles and laughs

Lily's Favorite: Reading to you

Milestones: YOU SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT, as in, you don't wake up at all between the hours of 9ish to 6ish (therefore, no other milestone matters), you don't refuse naps in your bed anymore, you can hold your head up well enough to spend about 15 minutes in your exersaucer, you are responding to us with laugh/smiles, 3-6 month clothes, size 2 diapers (although you can still wear size 1, some brands in size 2 are too big), you are growing out of your clothes in length (despite what people say about your chunkiness, you are growing taller faster than you are gaining weight)

Weight/Length: No clue where to even begin guessing. You see Dr. B in November.

Like Mommy: You love to sing (well, I don't know if you like to sing, but you always smile when I sing)

Like Daddy: Due to your stuffy nose this month, I think you may have your daddy's allergies.

Like Big Sister: You talk to Winnie the Pooh on your bouncy seat

Best Memory: Laying on the porch with you and your sister, doing nothing but enjoying the fall weather

Biggest Challenge: None this month; you are an easy going baby and you rarely fuss for reasons other than being hungry/tired/need a diaper change

How We Spend the Day: Each day is different. You go to school two days a week, stay home/run errands two days a week, and hang out with just me while Lily is at school one day a week. You usually eat between 6:00-7:00 in the morning. You stay awake for about 1 1/2 hours before your first morning nap. You eat every 3-4 hours and in between feedings you play and sleep. You take your last bottle sometime between 8:00-10:00 then we put you to bed. 

Nicknames: Little Man, Buddy, 75

Funniest Moment: You talk A LOT and it's always funny to hear you having a conversation with the most random things...like the ceiling fan or the wall.

How We Celebrated: Daddy was out of town and Lily wasn't feeling well, so we didn't even leave the house today. Sorry, Buddy! (Like you knew any different)

Dr. Scott

You and your best buddy Parker, Auburn University class of 2031!

She loves to read to you and you adore the attention!

Laying on the porch enjoying the weather

You are SO handsome

Squishy grin

First high school football game

First wedding...sound asleep. It was outdoors and HHHOTTT!!!

Big Sis feeding you a bottle. She has a servant's heart and is delighted to care for you. 

Out to dinner with Parker

First time in exersaucer

Mommy's two beautiful sweethearts 

Laughing and talking to Daddy

Talking to Granny Rosie

TBone came to visit (and brought us dinner!)

I'll say this the rest of your life, but you are growing too fast. Getting to 3 months with your sister felt like it took about 10 years. She had some challenges that you thankfully have not had. Your 3 months of life have flown by and I'm already feeling the pressure to start planning your 1st birthday. Not really. Ok, maybe a teeny tiny bit. 

We love you forever and always and pray daily that you know and grow in a relationship with your Savior!!! 






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