Thursday, October 6, 2011

Evel Knievel

Now that the shock and awe has worn off a little bit, I guess I'll go ahead and chronicle this one so I don't lose it.

On a beautiful fall morning a couple of weeks ago, I decided that it would be a fabulous idea to open a few of the windows in the house to let in some fresh air. Chandler was outside mowing the yard, I was inside cleaning, and the kids were running back and forth from window to window watching Chandler mow. I saw the kids push one of their little Pottery Barn chairs up against the window, and Barrett was standing in the chair and leaning on the back of it to see out of the window in the living room. The living room windows are pretty much second story windows because we have a basement, and are probably 13 or 14 feet off of the ground. You can probably see where this is going.....

At one point, I made the kids move the chair away from the window because I thought for a split second that the screen could pop out. This is the point that I should have closed the window. I didn't, though, because I thought, "That could NEVER happen." Chandler was outside, down below, and he yelled up for the kids to get back away from the window. The same thought crossed his mind, but he shrugged it off like I did. I was starting a load of laundry in the laundry room, which is right off of the kitchen, which opens up to the living room, when Charlee came running in the kitchen saying, "Bubba is not okay! He fell!" I immediately knew what had happened. A choice word came to my lips, but somehow it didn't come out. Good thing since Charlee was right beside me. I hurled myself down the steps of the deck to find my sweet little man lying on his back in the grass screaming. He's screaming ~ thank you Jesus. I began screaming Chandler's name. He wasn't responding, so I ran around the house with Barrett. For a split second, I thought I may should leave him on the ground and not move him for fear of a neck or back injury, but I could not leave him down there. As a mom, you simply have to hold your baby when he's hurting. It's instinctive. I found Chandler, told him what happened, got myself decent (ie ~ put my bra on. i know, i know.), and we were in the car and on our way to the hospital in our pajamas. Charlee was very calm the entire time. She started tearing up when we got back to the exam room, but I handed her my phone and she watched a movie on it and was fine.

There were probably 8 people ~ doctor, nurses, staff ~ in the exam room when we first got there, and they were all just looking at Barrett. Watching him. He was still hysterical, but the sweet thing never threw up, never showed any signs of concussion, and seemed to be okay. He didn't act like any part of his body was hurting, but we wanted a CT and chest xray to be sure there wasn't something we couldn't see. I wouldn't have felt right not doing it, but he was not really into having his arms bound and being passed through a big ring with a laser light. The scan wasn't the best because he didn't want to be still, but from what we could tell everything looked fine. Next came the chest xray. I won't even go into the details of the torture device that they put him in to get a good look at his chest, but let's just say he wasn't really a fan of that part either. Poor thing had already had a traumatic enough experience, and now he had to go through even more! Totally necessary, though. I wanted to know that he was okay. And, like the CT, the xray looked great. No broken ribs, collar bones, nothing. We went back to the exam room and it didn't take long for him to calm down. He was playing, smiling, talking, and ready to get on with his sweet little life. The doctor wanted to keep him for a couple of hours for observation, but after that time, he released us and told us to just watch for signs of a concussion.

We came home, had lunch, played outside. Barrett was a little tired and irritable, but nothing unusual for what he had gone through that morning. I put him down for a nap around his usual time. As soon as he laid down, he was out. I woke him up to be sure he would wake up. He went back down and slept for a few hours. That was a long few hours! He woke up just fine, though. That night, he started favoring his right arm a good bit. We didn't really know if it was his shoulder or arm, but we thought something must be bothering him. He never acted like it hurt, though. I took him to his regular doctor Monday where his arm was xrayed, and his wrist had a break. The next day, we got in to see an orthopedic who put that sweet arm in a blue cast. Barrett was mad about it for a few minutes because he couldn't straighten his arm, but then he moved on with life. The first couple of days, he fell a lot because he was off balance, but he adapted pretty quickly to wearing it. He wore the cast two weeks, and this Tuesday it came off and he's in a splint for two weeks now. I later learned from Charlee that Barrett had climbed onto the top of the back of the chair and leaned, head first, into the screen. The screen popped out of place only on the bottom, so he fell through and landed on his face. He still has a bit of a scratch on his chin, and he had a scratch under his nose. It looks like his top tooth may have chipped the tiniest bit, too. There was a small scratch on his left shoulder, too. Chandler and I both agreed that we are so glad we didn't see the fall. We would've thrown up.

Scary stuff. Let me just say, though, that I have never had a peace come over me like I did that day. I am normally one to be pretty unstable during situations like this. Several years ago, a drunk guy on a bicycle ran into my car and busted out my windshield in a mall parking lot while I was driving, and I was hysterical. That's a different story altogether, though. Ha! All that I know to tell you is that God placed a calm on me that I've not experienced, and I knew from the moment I picked Barrett up that he was going to be alright. No fear. Only faith. Angels carried that sweet thing. I can try as hard as I may to control every aspect of my children's lives, but I am not in control of any of it. Not one second. God has entrusted these sweet babies to Chandler and me to protect them, guide them, teach them, and nurture them, but I better not for one second think that I am the only one supplying them with what they need. I fail at being a mother every day. I could beat myself up about not closing the window when the thought crossed my mind, or I could rest in knowing that somebody greater than I could ever even imagine has "got my back". My life is in His hands. Chandler's life is in His hands. Charlee's life is in His hands. Barrett's life is in His hands. Thank you, Jesus! I give it all to You, lay it all at Your feet. You are the only one who can supply us with all we need.


Friday, September 16, 2011

Abundance

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20,21


For the last 8 or 9 months, this has been my favorite verse. Everytime I read it, it's like it sinks in further and further. God is SO GREAT and SO POWERFUL, that He can do way more than we can even think or imagine. You can't even imagine it! How AWESOME is that? I don't know about you, but I've got a pretty vivid imagination. There are a lot of things I can imagine. When I was young and bored, I would daydream and make up a life in my mind and live it. Weirdo, I know, but that's what I had to entertain myself. :) You could live your entire life on this earth and never come remotely close to even thinking or imagining how amazing and powerful God is. Wow. (It just sank in a little deeper here.) You can be in the bottom of the lowest pit, pray for the most far-fetched (by human terms) way for God to get you out of that pit, and He has the capability to save you in a far more grandious way than what you thought. Deep stuff there. Capability doesn't mean He will, but that's a different post altogether. Sometimes what is best for us isn't anything on our radar of thinking.

God is so good, He's so good to me. I read Radical by David Platt last year, and at the end of the book, there's a 5 step experiment, or challenge for the reader to complete within a year's time. My year window has come and gone, so here is the synopsis of my challenge accomplishments.

1. Read the entire Bible through chronologically: Finished it 2 1/2 weeks ago. Undoubtedly one of the biggest feelings of accomplishment in my life, and the power of The Word was (and continues to be) utterly life-changing like nothing else I've experienced. It is NOT just a story you read. It. Will. Change. Your. Life.

2. Pray for the entire world: I had several off days, I'll admit, but for the most part, I prayed for a specific country each day over the last year. Operation World is a fabulous reference for this. I signed up for daily emails so all I had to do was click on the link each day and it directed me to the country to pray for with topics for prayer and praise.

3. Multiplying community: This was a hard one. I feel like I reached out (and still reach out) to invite people to visit church, City Gate (our downtown ministry), MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), but I know there is so much more that I could, and should, do here.

4. Sacrifice my money for a specific purpose: Another hard one. I did try to cap our family spending (I mean, I did start couponing, right?), and we committed to give a small portion to missionaries, organizations, etc. on top of tithing, but I don't feel like I adequately fulfilled this one. Can we ever, though? There is always a little more that we can do.

5. Spend time in another context: Specifically, plan to spend 2% of the next year of your life (a week) in Gospel ministry outside of your community for the sake of God's glory in all the world. This was the one that stood out as the most important to accomplish in my experiment. My trip outside of my community (and country) might not be within the given year's time frame, but the planning for it started within the year, so I'll count that. :) I'm a part of a mission team from Meridian that is going to Costa Rica in January! I am so excited, nervous, scared, anxious, and insufficient to be a part of this team. The great thing is, though, that God can do immeasurably more than I can ask or imagine when He is at work within me, so don't you know I'll be spending lots of time in prayer that He'll do just that! This will be my first mission experience outside of the country, and I can not wait to see what God shows me through it. I want to experience His manifest presence and gain a more loving heart for His people. Please pray with me over the next few months. I'd really appreciate it. :) God is already answering prayers and blessing our trip. When I signed up to go a couple of months ago, the expected trip cost (which I am responsible for) was between $1100 and $1200. Well, within the last week, plane tickets have plummeted, saving me almost $300, and the state convention has agreed to partially fund our trip! My $1200 cost has been cut almost in half! God is so good, He's so good to me!

I am so abundantly blessed! God has done so much in my life in the last two years to bring me closer to Him. Abundantly more than I could have ever imagined my life would be as I daydreamed about it those many years ago. :) In the words I use to explain the reason my sweet husband hasn't had more car accidents in his life, "Somebody must be praying for you (me)!" Thank you to those on Earth who do, and to those in Heaven as well. I can tell you're looking down on me. :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Chex Mix.........Mmmmmmmmmmm!

Well, I'm glad I haven't posted in the last month, only because if I had, I may have posted my frustrations with a little 20-month-old biter who invaded our sweet boy's body. Good thing we've nipped THAT in the bud! (Fingers crossed.) Yes, our first 4 days of preschool were great. On the fifth day, I came in to talk to Barrett's teacher and make sure he'd been sweet and wasn't biting or hitting (he's been known to chew on Charlee some). She said he was doing fine and there had been no biting. Weeeeeeeehhhhhhlll, that day when I picked B and C up, Barrett's teacher came out and said he had bitten 3 kids that day. From then on, it was an every day thing. :( I was sure he would get kicked out, and I dodged any parents I passed in the hallway. Finally, though, my little pistol got a taste of his own medicine when his friend bit him. I know I should be upset about another child biting mine, but I was secretly happy. I know, I know, but how else was the kid gonna learn? I couldn't stake out the joint and run in and spank him when he did it (I would have if I could, but they wouldn't let me - ha!). I figured he needed to know what it feels like. I've heard from so many people to "bite him back". Well, I don't think I could bring myself to do it, but even if I could have, he wasn't doing it at home anymore. Anyways, ever since his friend bit him, he has only bitten once. We are going on a week and a half strong of no biting! He has been bitten a couple of times since, but that's slowing down too. I guess when you put 10 or 11 one-year-olds in a room together, they've got to communicate somehow. It is such new territory, though, because Charlee wasn't a biter. She bit another kid when she was about 9 or 10 months old, but that's it. Barrett's just showing me (yet again) that he's gonna be a whole lot different than his sister. Night and day, those two! He IS the sweetest little boy I could ever hope for, though. He is just precious, and he makes me laugh EVERY day! He has such a great personality. He smiles at nearly everyone he passes, whether he knows them or not. He spots people out at restaurants who pay attention to him, mainly older women (just like a man ~ ha!), and he flirts and flirts. It is too cute! He is definitely going to be an athlete. Even though his legs are short, he runs super fast already. He gets his legs AND his speed from his daddy. :) He is all over the place, all of the time. He can go up and down stairs on his own now, can drive Charlee's power wheels Jeep, can kick the soccer ball, and do ALL things boy. His masculinity isn't threatened AT ALL by his pink, hand-me-down toys. Ha! It is a little sad to see that all of the ride-on toys in the garage are pink, but I promise you he does not care! He loves them! Maybe Santa will bring some blue or red outside toys for Christmas. Surely that two weeks of biting won't put him on the naughty list.

Charlee is a sponge and soaking up SO MUCH at preschool! She is writing her letters, spelling her name, and has learned the Pledge of Allegiance. It is so sweet to watch her come home and "teach" her stuffed animals all that she's learned. :) She is also in AWANA again, is taking a dance class once a week, and just started preschool choir at church. She has been singing all week. I LOVE IT! Also, she did the sweetest thing several weeks ago. I had a pretty bad headache one day and was laying on the couch while Barrett was napping. She came up and asked me what was wrong, so I told her my head hurt. She clasped her hands together, closed her eyes, and said, "Dear God, thank you for this beautiful day and thank you for Mommy. Thank you for her headache and please help her to feel better. Amen." :) :) :) LOVE HER! She has the sweetest and most gentle spirit and heart I've ever met. She has started getting freckles on her face in recent months, and it is just the cutest thing. I told her she has freckles now, and she said, "No, Momma, those are sprinkles." Adorable! I think they SHOULD be called "sprinkles" ~ sprinkles of sunshine. She IS a few inches short on some hair, though. :/ She has been "cutting coupons" with me lately. I bought her a pair of kid scissors so she could take up my newest hobby with me. She clips up scrap paper. Yesterday, we were clipping along (or so I thought), I looked up and Charlee was no longer in the room with me. About the time I looked up, she walked around the corner from her room with scissors in hand, scared look on her face, and locks falling from her shoulders to the floor. Ohhhhhhhh, Charleeeeeee! What did you do???? Lip began to quiver, tears began to roll. Sure enough, CLUMPS of hair were gone. I told her we would have to cut off the remaining to match where she had cut, and she just bawled. "I don't want to have boy hair, Momma!" Well, why did you cut your hair off, then, sweet girl? Oh, it was depressing. For both of us. Her sides were pulled up, so the chunks she cut were under her top layer of hair. When I wet it to try and even it up, I decided that you couldn't see the short parts when her hair was down, so I couldn't bring myself to chop it. She didn't want to go to school this morning because she was afraid her friends would see, but she survived, and no one even noticed. No more updos for a while.

My newest obsession, and one of the reasons I haven't blogged in so long, is couponing. Might call it extreme, but I'm nowhere near where the people on the TLC show are. I am addicted. I usually buy 4 newspapers, sometimes more if there are good coupons, and I've got a pretty good stockpile going already. Chandler says that if anything happens, we'll have clean teeth, smell good, and be able to keep our dishes clean, but we won't live very long off of our food supply. It has been easy to stock up on cheap toiletries with Walgreens and CVS ads and promotions. I've got well over a year's worth of toothpaste, and I got most of them for free! I do need to focus on the grocery end of it, but it doesn't seem to be as easy around here. All we have is Winn-Dixie, Piggly Wiggly, and Wal-Mart. I've realized the art of price-matching at Wal-Mart, though, and that's been pretty profitable to my pantry stockpile. I got ten bags of Chex Mix today for 49 cents a piece! I'm pretty excited about that, cuz I LOVE me some Chex Mix! :) It's amazing how much money I'm realizing I've thrown away over the years by paying retail for things like toothpaste, deodorant, razors, milk. I just always assumed Wal-Mart had the lowest price and I couldn't get milk cheaper anywhere else. Well, Wal-Mart milk is consistently over $4, usually closer to $5. Since I started couponing and price-matching, I haven't paid over $3.19 for it. I know that may not sound like a lot, but it is to me. That's a savings that could buy 3 bags of Chex Mix! Yummmmmmmm. This week, I found a gallon of milk on sale at Piggly Wiggly for $1.99! That's awesome! Okay, enough of my elation on milk. Ha!

It feels so good to be back on the blog. My house may still be a wreck, and the laundry needs to be folded, but this is such a therapy for me, and I've been in definite need of therapy lately! Now, off for some Chex Mix.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Preschool, Here We Come!

Tomorrow, both kids will pack up their bookbags and head to preschool. Charlee's been there for two years, so it's nothing new to her (other than a new teacher and classroom), but this is Barrett's first rodeo! Momma and babies are SO EXCITED! I know what you're thinking.....Preschool? At 19 months old? Yes, preschool. I, too, always thought preschool began at age 4, but it apparently means any age before school-age (DUH! - Ha!). As I've told people about Barrett starting "school", I've gotten the same question multiple times.....What are you gonna do for 3 hours everyday while they are both in school? While I normally just say, "Whatever I want!", the real answer is this.....

Clean my house.
Clean my car.
Organize my kitchen.
Organize my kids' rooms.
Organize my closet.
Organize my life.
Tend to my garden.
Fold the laundry.
Restart my running regimen.
Spend more time in The Word.
Pray more.
Plan for Pampered Chef shows.
Mow the yard.
Clean out the flowerbeds.
Learn Spanish for my upcoming mission trip. (I'm going to Costa Rica in January!!!!)
Payroll and accounting for my FIL.
Dust off the sewing machine.
Coordinate my Mothers of Preschoolers group.
Minister to Moms.
Plan decorations for our Church's Women's Retreat.
Find Chandler's camera that's been missing for 2 mos. :(
Clip coupons.
Plan coupon shopping trips.
SHOP WITHOUT CHILDREN IN THE BUGGY! (I'm a little excited about this one.)
Plan and execute more random acts of God's love.
Clean out my inbox. 382 messages is TOO many.
Get my teeth cleaned.
Get my hair cut.
Breathe.
Spend a morning with my man (if his schedule will ever allow).

You know, all the things you can't do with a 3 and 1 year old around. ;) WHEW! I'm gonna be exhausted by noon! Maybe I'll add a day of doing absolutely nothing in there somewhere. :)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Vote for Yancey!!

Okay, so I really hope that doesn't offend anyone. I mean, I don't even know what the dude stands for, and politics are just a touchy subject for so many. However, as I've driven around my town the last few months, I've passed by a gazillion political signs. They're everywhere. It's almost like they think it's a competition where the one with the most signs standing will win the election. Good thing it doesn't work that way. I've only really noticed ONE sign, though. His name is Lee Yancey, and he is running for treasurer of Mississippi. I would totally vote for him even though I don't know his political affiliation, his platform, his experience, anything. (Okay, so I really wouldn't toss those things aside because they are of upmost importance, but just go with me here.) What made me notice this man's sign above all the rest is that it is just beautiful! In the eyes of a public relations major (aka me), that sign shows that he really cares about this election and that he wanted a sign that was professional and served its purpose. Instead of going with the mundane and routine red sign with blue block letters revealing only a name and position, or a blue sign with white block letters, or even the against-the-norm green sign with white letters, he has a picture of himself with an unfocused crowd and letters that tell his name and hopeful position. I love this sign! Maybe it's because I'm in Meridian, Mississippi, where candidates don't really look for a stand-out public relations campaign to get them elected, but Yancey's sign just jumps out at me and I appreciate the efforts he has gone to in coming up with an advertisement that looks of professional worth. Now, don't miss what I'm saying here. Ad campaigns can be tricky because they mask the person behind them and attempt to make others see them as flashy or glamorous. The issues matter above all else, bottom line. BUT, it is completely appropriate to say that Lee Yancey is the only name I know of that is running for state Treasurer. His sign served its purpose (a lot better than the sign of the guy with a picture of an Elvis impersonator ~ I'm just sayin'). NOW, in the words of a great Sunday School teacher I know, pack all of that up and take it with you to my major point:

What if, as Christians, we tried to present ourselves to the public as true Christians. Would others see me as having faith in Jesus Christ if I were to just throw my sign out there that looked just like everyone else's, except maybe mine was green and it said I was a member of such-and-such church. Would that make people truly remember me as a servant of God? If I acted just like everyone else in this world, I would ultimately fail at making others see the beauty that Christ shines through me. If my sign was truly representative of my life with Christ, would it shine? What does that look like? Could others see it? Would I be seen as another uppity, judging, Bible-toter who is in all actuality no better than the other common signs? Or a gentle, Spirit-controlled, lover of ALL people that stands out among all the other signs? Hmmm. Man, I sure hope and pray that it would be the latter. My sign would be different than an advertisement because it wouldn't be able to mask my true self.

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Matthew 5:14

So, if I throw my sign out there for all the world to see, the light will have to shine through. If there is only darkness, than no light will come from my sign and everyone will only see a sign like all the rest. Deep stuff. Also, if all I do is sit back and degrade and belittle every other sign out there, Christian or not, my sign will be the ugliest of all.

Lord, please strengthen my faith in You and help me to give You full control of my life so that Your light might shine through me. I can do nothing and am only darkness without Your supernatural power, so SHINE IN ME, JESUS! Extinguish the dark and bring to light my weaknesses and failures so that I may submit them to You and You might make them disappear. Help me to only focus on You and Your beautiful light. In your precious name, AMEN.

Now, I'm off to do some research on this Yancey guy to make sure I don't need to retract this post. :)

UPDATE: So far, I've found he's the son of a pastor, retired schoolteacher, 100% pro-life, served as assistant pastor, Mississippi born and bred, and he promises to fight tax increases. Deduce what you may...

Friday, July 8, 2011

See Rock City

Let me start this off by saying that I have always had a hard time leaving my kids with anyone for more than a couple of hours. Not that I don't trust anyone else, but I just don't like burdening others and I ultimately don't like leaving my kids for very long. I miss them too much, and I don't like not knowing what they're up to every minute! Sometimes, though, you just gotta get away. So, Chandler and I had a much needed weekend getaway to Chattanooga. Chandler's parents were so kind to stay at our house and watch the kids. We had a great time, the kids had a great time, and Nan Nan, Grandaddy, and Nanny (Chan's grandmother) had a great time (at least they said they did anyway ~ ha). This was our first getaway together without kids since April of 2009 when we went away for one night. Only other time was 16 months before that when Charlee was still in utero. Our weekend was long overdue and it was niiiiiiiiice. We had a great time and enjoyed not having to pack the 42 bags required when taking toddlers places. It was also nice to wait for a table at a restaurant and just be able to sit and wait, no chasing and consoling required. We were also able to do fun things that are not conducive to bringing kids with you.


Only a few work calls this trip :)


Rather than have a relaxed, laid-back vacation where we just laid around all day, we decided to jam-pack as much into each day as we could. I couldn't have been happier with it! We didn't get to Chattanooga until late Friday night, and decided to come home Sunday afternoon instead of stay through Monday, July 4th. We fit so much stuff in on Saturday, and the day seemed to go by so much slower than vacation days normally do. It was perfect! We saw Rock City. It was very cool ~ a lot better than I thought it would be. We didn't have plans to go when we did, but we happened upon it while driving up the mountain and looking at all of the cliff-edge houses (WHAT a view!). It was the perfect balance of heat and coolness. The caves are naturally air-conditioned. It felt awesome!



That's me out there. All the way to the left in the light shirt. Chandler didn't know how to zoom on my phone's camera. :)



Saturday night, we went to the largest drive-in theater and saw Transformers 3. There was a fireworks show right before the movie, and they had a double feature on each of the two screens that started at 10. Maybe in our younger days we would have made it to the second movie, but we could barely keep our eyes open at 12:45, so we headed on back to the hotel. Sunday, we did a zipline course. SO much fun! I thought I'd chicken out and get scared up there, but I surprised myself. The ziplines were the easiest part. We had to go through lots of obstacle courses high up in the trees, and some of them were pretty difficult. We went with a great group of people, and the guides were entertaining.







We ate at several yummy places, too. Taco Casa on the way in Tuscaloosa ~ Mmmmmmmmmm! We had breakfast at a downtown Chattanooga favorite, The Bluegrass Grill, and met a nice man and his college-age daughter while waiting for a table. They were Tennessee fans, but they had no problem associating with us Mississippi State folks. Either it's because we're so friendly, or it's because we're not viewed as a threat, I don't know, but our only real arch-enemies are Ole Miss fans. Ha! That afternoon, we had hamburgers at an Earth Fare store for $1 a piece. Can't beat that! That night, we had dinner at Big River Grille and Brewing Co. Our dinner was delicious! The manager came over and apologized to us for how long we were having to wait on our food. It was funny because neither of us had realized that it was taking a long time. We were just enjoying waiting in peace and not having to entertain little ones! We ate at Jimmy John's Sunday for lunch, then headed home. I was lucky enough to be able to stop by Fresh Market and get my all-time favorite watermelon salt water taffy, or as Charlee calls it, "laffy tandy". I could live on that stuff alone.

Best part of the trip: coming home to a clean house! Thanks Nan Nan and Nannie!! :)

Over the River and Through the Woods

We had a great trip to Grandma Jo Jo's a couple of weeks ago! I mean, if you would have asked me last Saturday, I would have told you I was exhausted and couldn't handle one more minute in the car alone with two toddlers. Looking back now, though, the fun times shine over the frustrating ones. :) Ha! The kids actually did good on the way back ~ probably because they were woe out! On the way there is a different story entirely. We were in the car for 5 1/2 hours, and Barrett slept all of 10 minutes. Charlee slept zilch. She did, however, continually ask me when we would be out of the trees. The road from Meridian to Memphis is surrounded by trees for the majority of the ride. After Memphis, there are fields and fields. Charlee apparantly wanted a little more scenery. Everytime we get in the car now, she still asks me if we have to ride through the trees again. "Mommy, I don't want to go in the trees!" "Don't worry, Sweetie. I don't want to go through the trees any more than you do." :) I won't even broach the subject of the dreaded restroom stops. Let's just say that 20 minutes in a stall with two toddlers, one of which refuses to even try to use the bathroom, is entirely too long, and Cracker Barrell bathrooms are NOT as nice as one might think. Travels aside, our trip was wonderful. We got to see my brother and his sweet family, my mom, my grandma, my aunt "Net", and the nice servers at the Dixie Pig. My favorite part of visiting family was always play time with my cousins. I'm so glad that Charlee and Barrett got to put in some hours with their sweet cousins who live entirely too far away.




I got to introduce Charlee and Barrett to my Grandaddy Freeman. I just wish it could have been in person instead of on a store-front window. :( They sure would love to have him around. So would I.

We got to lavish Grandma Jo with an early birthday celebration! We were there the week before her birthday, so we cooked her supper and made her a yummy cake.


This is my favorite part. This first picture is from two years ago when Charlee was 18 months and Reagan was 2 1/2. The second is from our trip this year. Charlee at 3 1/2 and Reagan at 4 1/2.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lately

So proud of my little fund-raiser! She came in third place this year at her school's St. Jude's week fundraiser. What an awesome cause that we could be a part of.


Just hanging out, enjoying our summer!


My pretty little baby is turning into a pretty, big girl.


Favorite hobby #1 ~ wearing Momma's shoes. Ha!


Favorite Hobby #2 ~ Standing on my head!



What a fun time we're having this summer! Later this week, we get to head out and see our cousins Reagan and Veronica at our Great-Grandma Jo Jo's house! And our momma is oh so excited to eat at her favorite restaurant in the universe ~ Dixie Pig! Mouth is watering already. :) Chop up the pig for us, and mix up the vinegar bbq sauce, cuz we are on our way! Yay!!!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Bi-Bi-Bi Bi-Bi-Bi Big Apple Adventure!

Life with a 3-year-old (who asks you everyday when she's going to be 4) and a 1-year-old (who has a serious shoe fetish ~ ha) can really make you get behind on blogging. I wouldn't have it any other way, though. I just wish I was more diligent about keeping up with everything they do and say so I won't forget. Sadly, though, diligent I am not. :)

Summer is here in Mississippi, a whole month early. 100 degree temps at the beginning of June is serious heat, so we have resigned ourselves to the cool, 72 degrees of indoors. I have tried taking the kids outside, and even tried getting them to want to go swim in their kiddie pool, but they aren't stupid (don't tell Charlee I typed that word or I'll get in all kinds of trouble). It is TOO HOT, Momma! Well, okay then, we'll go inside. I was really hoping to get away from that huge pile of laundry, but whatever (again, don't tell her. this is apparantly a "bad word" too). We have made it through two days of VBS this week (Big Apple Adventure), and it has been leaps and bounds better than last year! I am still utterly exhausted by noon when we're dismissed, but somehow the full night's sleep that I'm getting this year seems to change my whole outlook on the next day. Thank you, Barrett, for finally sleeping through the night! It seems like such a long time that he's been doing it, but I still thank my lucky stars every day for (more) restful nights. Ha! Last year, Charlee kicked and screamed when I dropped her off in the nursery where the workers' kids were kept on the first day. She ended up joining me in my class for the rest of the week ~ our "mascot". :) She loved it, though, and it was so fun seeing her learn the dances and the songs throughout the week. This year, she cried the first day, but I left her anyways. I'm trying hard to not be the parent whose child expects her to always be the teacher in the class she's in, you know? I taught her AWANA class because they needed more workers, so I really don't want to start the habit. They've made a class out of the 3-year-olds who are workers' kids, so they go to music, do crafts, go to the playground, and even get to come to the worship rally. She has had such a blast! It helps that she knows all the kids in there with her. Yesterday, I brought my class into the worship rally and sat down. Five minutes later, I noticed that she was in there. She smiled at me and went back to singing. Talk about tears welling up! (I know, I know. Be forewarned: Here comes a cliche that I've rolled my eyes at other people saying millions of times.) My baby girl is growing up TOO FAST! I just knew she'd see me and have to run and come sit by me, but she was just fine without me. WAAAAHHHHH!!!! (Sigh...) I've always been fine with the big milestones in her life ~ starting daycare, moving up to "big girl" classes, preschool. I have never really understood the big deal and often thought I must be callus to not cry at these things when I hear about all of the other mommies who do. I'm pretty sure I'll end up being the blubbering fool who can't speak when kindergarten day one rolls around. HA!!

On to my sweet little, fiery-tempered, momma's boy. Oh, he is going to be trouble. His sly little smile is a foreshadow of all the ways he will make this momma stress in years to come. That's okay, though. I'm ready! He is quite a little tester of his limits. Charlee was never like that, and I'm reminded every day that all kids are not created equally! Ha! They can be night and day no matter what you do. I don't want you to think this boy is all bad, because he isn't. He is such a big sweetie who will give you open-mouthed, slobbery kisses, and who smiles at every person he passes. He's got a thing for waitresses, too, and will throw his sippy cup down at just the time that one passes by so she'll pick it up for him. Hands full with this one, I tell ya.

Both Charlee and Barrett love singing and dancing, mainly in the car. It is so stinkin' cute! I wish I could turn around and video them while I'm driving. For the longest time, Charlee's favorite song was "Never Let Go" by Matt Redman. I'm talking, for at least two years. It was the first song she ever sang, and she asks everyone she knows if they know that song. It's contemporary christian, so a lot of people don't have a clue what she's talking about because they've never heard it. (It's the "Ohhhhhhh NO, You Never Let Go" song) How proud she was when Barrett started saying, "Oh No" with her. :) Her first song to sing was his, too! Since we moved to Meridian, I have only really listened to KLove in the car, unless I turn on Pandora and hook my phone up. There aren't really a lot of radio station choices here. KLove hasn't been coming in very well lately, though, so I've been playing my iPod music. Charlee's NEW favorite song is an "oldie", but a goodie. :) "He Gave Her Water" by Acapella. She doesn't stand a chance of finding anyone that knows THAT song!! She loves it though. Barrett just rocks his head side to side along with her. :)

In other news: Garden planted, running ceased. Procrastinator in me says to wait for cooler weather to lace the shoes back up. Tight pants tell me I better get my booty back in gear and start sweating. We'll see who wins. :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

Remarkable. Unbelievable. Unworthy am I.

What a week of history it's been.

The worst tornado outbreak of our lifetime ripped through the south two days ago. I had such a peace and a calm during the 2 1/2 hours we were in the basement. I knew the whole day was a recipe for disastrous weather. Our Tor:Con index rating was a 9 on an 8 point scale, and the sky and wind just felt ominous every time I stepped outside. Despite all of that, though, I felt calm the entire time. I knew the importance of watching the weather radars and gluing myself to the tv. I also had the basement unlocked and ready to go at a moment's notice if a warning was issued, so I know my calmness had nothing to do with naivety or false hope. My peace had everything to do with the overwhelming touch of a Great Comforter and Provider. Nothing more, nothing less. I know that He has promised to only work everything for my good (Romans 8:28), and nothing earthly can ever harm my eternity. I'm an eternal thinker, now, thanks to the change that God has made in my life, so the glass is always half-full. What an amazing feeling that is!!! Don't get me wrong, I have my fleshly freak-outs, believe me! But, I try my best to think of those things eternal and not earthly. God was covering my family with His powerful and loving hand this Wednesday afternoon. WAS HE EVER! As reports began to come in of the severe damage literally ALL around us, I couldn't help but praise Him at what He had brought us through unscathed. Remarkable. Unbelievable. Unworthy am I. So many others were less fortunate than we were. My heart breaks over and over again at every new story I hear and every new picture or video I see. So many people lost everything. Entire towns, like Smithville, MS, have been wiped. off. the map. Every business in that town was destroyed and bodies were strewn in the street. No doubt much worse than a war scene. The pictures of Tuscaloosa are unrecognizable. There are so many people suffering right now, and God spared me. Unworthy am I. Unworthy. am. I.

Now that I've depressed you all.....let's move on to the other historic event that took place this week. Crazy that these two events have been interchangeable for the last two days. "Look at the devestation in the South. So terrible. Now, let's get back to our Royal Wedding coverage. Be sure to set your alarm clocks for 3 am so you don't miss the festivities." Say what you will, think what you'll think, the Royal Wedding has been invading every portal of our country because people want to see it. No one publishes a cover story because they hope it will become important to the world. They publish it because they KNOW it will be important and people will buy it. Duh! If you want to complain about what magazines, newspapers, tv stations are selling, you should look at the root of the problem ~ the consumers. Just sayin'. But, that's a different topic altogether! Back to the issue at hand..... My dad was in the Air Force and was stationed in England in 1981, the year of my birth AND the year of the wedding of Charles and Diana. I have always felt a connection to the Royals for this reason. ;) Ok, not really, but they are interesting and pretty to look at! Ha! Anyways, I was interested in watching the wedding this morning, but there was no way I was going to trade in my sleep for it. I was perfectly fine with non-live coverage. I really just wanted to see the dress and the kiss. :) Saw them both, and now I've moved on. Hope the national media takes the same cue soon, but again, some people may want to see more so it falls on the consumer. (Come on people, get over it already!) As I watched the droves of people crowding the front of the palace, all I could think about was how MASSIVE the crowd was. Remarkable. Unbelievable. Unworthy am I. Exact sentiments that flashed through my mind in wake of the devastating storms. Different context, but same awe.

With both events, I immediately shifted my focus to God. I prayed for the storms to not have happened in vain, and asked God to lift up those who were ravaged and draw them close to Him. I prayed for specific people that I know were affected or had someone close to them affected. The majority of the people I have been praying for are ones that I don't know. Through all of this tragedy, I pray that people's hearts will be changed and that they will fully submit to the One who longs to know them. With the royal wedding, I caught the tiniest of glimpses of what that glorious day will be like when every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess to God. Today, some number over a million people were on site at the royal wedding. Pocket change compared to the number of people who will bow down to my King and worship Him! And, I'm a member of that Royal Family! The most awesome of awesome royal families EVER! FILLED my heart with PRAISE, JOY, HOPE, and DESIRE like I've never felt before! If I'm ever in doubt, I now have a mental image of the Grandest of Grand, the Eternity I get to experience someday. ONLY by the GRACE of God! I'm a bit of a visual learner, so I'm thankful that God threw that in my path today. REALLY remarkable to think of the minute comparison that today was to that most glorious of days! CAN. NOT. WAIT. :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

30 Random (or not so random) Acts

agape: selfless love of one person for another.


Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3,4

This verse was my motto for the day, and my "random acts of kindness" could be better described as "calculated acts of agape". While some were actually random, most were not. I planned out 30 acts, but hoped that some things would just pop up. A few did, but I stuck with the list for the most part. Here's the list and I'll wrap up with how it went. :)

1. Chandler has been obsessing about this camera he wants, even though we have at least 28 cameras. Okay, so maybe not THAT many, but still.....SEVERAL. I surprised him with the camera of his dreams. :)

2. Sent my mom flowers

3. Sent my dad and step-mom some goodies

4. Woke up early and took Lucy, my crazy, people-hating dog for a walk. I know ~ this should be something I do everyday, but sadly it's not. She doesn't like anyone but me, so taking her for a walk rarely happens now that I am busy with my other little Castles. I'll work on this, though.

5. Placed seed packets with a "Happy Spring" label in my neighbors' mailboxes

6. Left a treat for our mail carrier. She left me a thank you note with our mail. :)

7. Went to Love's Kitchen to serve breakfast to the hungry. I will be better prepared next time. I showed up in flip flops and they sent me home to get closed-toe shoes. I completely knew better, but just wasn't thinking. Anyway, I got back in time to serve a couple of people and then helped prepare hamburger patties. They were expecting 200 for lunch. I didn't realize how many people in Meridian need that place.

8. Left surprises for a few of my favorite people. I was going to be vague about this one, but I'm pretty sure they all figured out who the culprit was! I also left some of these in random yards. Bet those people are REALLY wondering who it's from. :)

9. Went to my MOPS (moms of pre schoolers) meeting and brought donuts for the nursery workers

10. Gave the guy at the donut shop a large tip

11. Brought a bag full of baby food we never used and put it on the MOPS swap table

12. Gave yummy whoopie pies to the ladies in my MOPS discussion group

13. Read a book to Charlee's class and gave them all jellybeans ~ Aren't they cute? :)

14. Left a Scholastic free book coupon for one of the teachers

15. Walked into Cater's Market and gave a giftcard to an old man who was ordering his lunch

16. Gave a replacement part for a Pampered Chef chopper to the lady at the bank who I had heard needed one

17. Dropped off diapers to the Center for Pregnancy Choices

18. Brought cupcakes to our church staff

19. Brought cupcakes to the local fire station

20. Brought cupcakes to the staff of the Anderson Cancer Center

21. Passed by the big fire station in town and gave lemonades to a few firemen who were walking around the block.

22. Left two bottles of laundry detergent at a washateria. One of the ladies inside looked very shocked that I was doing this!

23. Gave a lemonade and a whoopie pie to my sweet, sweet sister-in-law who joined me for half of the day. Somehow, she seemed to get away without me taking a picture of her!

24. Took coloring books, crayons, and puzzles to pediatrics at Anderson. My cute Charlee bug helped deliver these and was scared to death that she was going to the doctor! Ha!

25. Bought three gift cards at Books-A-Million and hid them amongst a few of my favorite books. I'm going to go sometime this week to see if they are gone yet. :)

26. Taped bags of change on vending machines at Wal-Mart.

27. Gave a bottle of water and a whoopie pie to a homeless man.

28. Gave a $5 off coupon to a lady shopping in Bed Bath & Beyond.

29. Took crossword puzzle books, word-search books, and activity books to a nursing home.

30. Mailed letters of appreciation to a few special people who have impacted my life.

31. (AND ONE TO GROW ON!) Let my sweet kids skip their bath! Haven't decided if this is an act of love toward them or my husband. You see, sweet Chandler gave ME 30 acts of kindness, too. His include 10 times of doing the dishes, 10 times of giving the kids a bath, and 10 times of getting Barrett to sleep. I only have 30 days to cash in, though (so the fine print says). I'm not wasting any time on cashing in!!


It truly was a fantastic day, and I was humbled by the joy that God filled my heart with. I prayed a lot about the day. I really didn't want it to be about me at all. Because of that, I tended to run into the places and drop stuff off quickly and without explanation. That's just me, I guess. I also had a lot of places to go and things to do so I didn't want to get bogged down anywhere. Trust me ~ my 3-year-old couldn't have made it to one more place! I was so happy she was able to go along with me. I was also blessed to have Kimbry with me. She was a tremendous help, and it was so great to have her company for most of the day! Thank you, Kimbry! :) Chandler took the day off to watch the kids in the morning and take Charlee to school. He also stayed home with Barrett during his naptime. I couldn't have done it without him ~ I can guarantee that Barrett would NOT have lasted the entire day!

I told all of my family and friends that I didn't want a gift and wanted them to just do a random act of kindness for my birthday. They don't really listen very well, but I guess I already knew that! Ha! Chandler got me a yummy cake, candy, a book, and two journals along with my get-out-of-chores cards. I never told him I wanted the journals, but I've been meaning to buy one for a while now. He's just good like that. :) He also took me to Zack Garvin's in Newton for some delicious blackened catfish. Mmmmmmmmmm.

My sweet friend Shar'Lee made my day when she sent me this text:
"Well, I took this verse Psalm 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. And put it on 5 sheets. I went to mcD's and bought 8 ice cream cones for all 8 people there. One elderly couple, one young couple, and 3 women and a boy. I had the cashier deliver it. It made me nervous but I knew that I wanted someone to be ministered by that verse today."

My prayer is that by sharing the events of my 30th birthday, you will be inspired to do something kind and selfless for someone else. It can be a bit intimidating, and it's definitely out of the norm for many of us, but God calls us to love Him with all of our heart, all of our soul, all of our mind, all of our strength. When we do this, loving others just comes naturally. This is the greatest commandment.

He answered: "'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'" Luke 10:27


Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 1 John 4:7



Enjoy this:
Hehe ~ :~)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

WHEW!!! What a perfectly wonderful day! Can't wait to share it with you all........ :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Thanksgiving

I'm sorry I don't remember who posted it, but one of my friends on facebook posted a status update a while back that read something like this ~ "What if you woke up tomorrow and the only things you had were the things you thanked God for today?" Such a profound and thought-provoking statement. It has really changed the way I've prayed lately. I thought about this again this morning and wanted to post a snippet of my blessings of the day.

* Okay, ALL of you reading this, please do something for me. Put your computer, phone, whatever you're reading this on down and go outside. Breathe in.......Breathe out....... Now, if you heard birds chirping, saw not a cloud in the sky and the beautiful hue of blue, felt the glorious sun warm your skin, and smelled the fresh fragrance of spring, then please do me a favor and thank God for this fantastic spring day. I don't know about you, but I don't want to even imagine waking up tomorrow and not having this beautiful weather anymore or ever again. I take it for granted far too much. If you are not being blessed with this awesomeness in your neck of the woods today, then thank God for whatever you're experiencing, because Romans 8:28 says, " And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. " So, God is working something out with your cold weather or your rain or whatever. Maybe it's simply to make you appreciate the beauty of Spring when it comes your way. :)

*Today, I am thankful that I have been blessed with a sweet, precious, lovable, inquisitive (times 10) little 3-year-old healthy girl. Her "why's" can get a bit annoying (just being honest), but she is so innocent and just wants to learn and have an understanding for everything. I'm also thankful that her fall yesterday only yielded a scraped up knee and that she was fine after a bit of cuddling and loving on. I'm so incredibly blessed to have her in my life!

*I am also thankful for my sweet little 14-month-old blessing only having RSV and an ear infection instead of something much worse. I am super-thankful that I live in a country and time where I can get the proper medication to treat him so that he can have relief and healing. Another often-over-looked thing. This little boy is such a delight ~ his smile lights up the room, and he smiles at EVERYbody he comes in contact with. He is a fiesty little thing with mounds of personality and believes he can do ANYthing and wants to do it ON HIS OWN with NO help, unless it's from his big sister. :) I'm so blessed to have him in my life!

*I'm also blessed with a wonderful husband who is my best friend and who is the best daddy these kids could ever ask for. (I don't want to get tooooooo mushy here, just want to tell you what I'm thankful for!) He has been very busy with work lately, and for that I am also thankful because it gives us a sense of job security.

*Today, I am thankful for a St. Paddy's Day born Mother-in-law. We celebrate her birthday today, and I am so blessed by her being in our lives.

Okay ~ just a snippet, I said. There are a million other things I am thankful for today, but let's face it ~ you don't want to read about how wonderful MY life is. Go make your own list so you can see the beauty of your own!! :)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dogs, Babies, Life and Such

I forgot my sweet dog Lucy's birthday. :( She may be ferocious to the rest of the world, but she is still a sweetheart to me. And I forgot her birthday.... It was March 3rd, and I finally realized it around the 7th or 8th. I know what you're thinking ~ who cares? It's just a dog. She doesn't know what a birthday is. Or some of you may be thinking ~ oh my! I can't believe you forgot that poor dog's birthday! Ha! The thing is, before I had kids, I treated my puppies as my own babies. Everyone always told me that would change drastically when I had actual babies. Nah. Not for me. I LOVED that dog. She was my "first born". Ha! Sounds pretty ridiculous now. Yes, I still love her, but it is quite different, as it should be. When I first got Lucy, I would bathe her once a week. No, I didn't take her to a groomer. I'm cheap. Make that 'frugal'. I hate spending money on things that just don't make sense to, and it just didn't make sense to pay for someone else to bathe her when I could. (I should mention here that I DID end up taking my dogs to the groomer once a week after Charlee had been here for several months, but only because I got a good deal!) So, I gave her a bath once a week. The same day of the week, every Tuesday. When we got our second puppy, Bailey, I continued the weekly ritual. Then......along came Charlee.......and......guess what flew out the window? Yep ~ you guessed it! Working full-time AND having a new baby in your life doesn't exactly warrant extra time to give your dogs a bath every week. It was more like every other week. Sometimes longer. My smart Lucy, though, likes to be clean. We had a doggy door at our house in Houston, and she would go outside and literally wallow in the mud or dirt (or sometimes poop ~ yes, I know I could have left that out. Sorry!) and come back in and just look at me as if saying, "Okay, now you HAVE to give me a bath!" Crazy, smart dog. I had flashbacks of those times last week. I was getting Barrett out of his highchair and turned him around where his back was against my chest. He blew chunks EVERYWHERE. Prayers immediately started because I did NOT want this to be the stomach virus again. We've been there and done that and don't want anything to do with it ever again. Luckily, it was a one-time puking. Anyway, the second thought that crossed my mind was that Barrett was trying to tell me, "Hey, Mom, you seriously need to clean this highchair. And the floor? We all know it could use a good mopping." :) This one instance is how I remembered I had missed Lucy's birthday. She has unconditional love, though. Well, most of the time. So she forgives me. :) I've been trying to make it up to her by giving her left overs from dinner the past few nights. I think that'll help.

I have a little over a week left in my twenties. That just seems crazy to me. I think this is the fastest decade of my life so far. And yet, when I look back at where I was in life at 20 compared to where I am in life now, things are drastically different. Mainly the responsibility factor. I mean, 10 years ago, I had zero responsibility. Okay, so in reality it was probably 0.05. I was in college, so there was some responsibility to go to class, I worked to pay my expenses, etc. But, in hindsight, that was the year that I didn't go to class and ended up withdrawing in the middle of the semester, sooooooo. Probably back to zero responsibility. :) Those were the days..... And now? Well, now, I am awakened earlier than I ever would've had to wake up for my first class. I rarely get 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Two little lives depend on me not just some of the time, but ALL of the time. I can't just get up and go whenever, wherever I want. Would I change any of it? Nope! Not in a million. Sometimes I think back to how much easier life was back then and I miss it, but then I look at all of the wonderful things and people I have in my life and am fully aware of the way that God has used the added responsibilities and changes in my life to draw me closer to Him. On the verge of turning 20, I thought I could do anything I wanted. I had the world ahead of me and had every belief in myself to accomplish whatever my little heart desired. Now, on the verge of 30, I have been humbled by marriage, kids, jobs, being a stay-at-home mom. You see, I could do none of these things, not even the least of them without God. It is not me who accomplishes ANYTHING, but He who does it ALL for me and through me. I can't even fathom what God will bring me to by the verge of 40..... If he chooses to bring me there. We will see!

So, birthday next week means my day of 30 random acts is quickly approaching! I've got a list made up of my acts, but I'm hoping that some authentic "random" moments will come up. I'm excited, nervous, and anxious about the day. I'm trying to be very careful about directing all of the glory to God. I want to record my day through pictures, but I don't want it to be a "look at me and what I did" montage. I definitely don't want to forget any of it, though. And, I want to share it with you guys ~ all 13 of you :) ~ but I don't want it to be about me. I'm praying about the best way to do that. Anyone that asks what I want for my birthday gets the same response ~ "What I really want is for you to do a random act of kindness in honor of my birthday. No gift. Just email, text, or post a comment telling me what you did." I would ask the same of all of you reading this. It would really make my day if you would think of something to do to brighten someone else's day. You can share it with me, or you don't have to. I can't remember if I ever posted my inspiration or not, but my idea is a total ripoff from this amazing lady over at MixMingleGlow. Her website seems to be down today for maintenance or something, but be sure to try it again later. I hope you'll join me by doing something kind for someone else on the 24th. Or the 23rd, 25th, 30th, whatever day you can. :) Have a fantastic week!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Don't blink...

So, Barrett finally decided he wanted to start using his feet for something other than grabbing toys. About a month ago, at 13 months, he finally started taking his first steps. Charlee started walking at 11 months, and Barrett has always been a little behind where she was developmentally. I wasn't worried about him at all ~ he is a boy afterall, and boys are just slower, right? I knew he'd get around to it in his own time. I also knew that as soon as he started walking, he'd take off and not look back. Any extra amount of time that I didn't have to worry about chasing him was fine by me. He's been almost sprinting all day today! More like my sprint, so, not very fast, but still running. Ha! He is so stinkin' cute! He idolizes his big sister, and it is so much fun to watch them play together. He does have quite the temper, though (I'm pretty sure that's a Castle trait he inherited), and he will SCREAM if he doesn't get his way. Take the remote away from him and it's over. Silly kid! He has been talking a lot ~ when the garage door goes up, he hurries over to the kitchen door and says, "Da-Da, Da-Da, Da-Da!" He says "Ma-Ma" when he's in his crib and ready for me to come get him. He also says, "Look" and "That" almost constantly with his little, fat index finger pointing up. Soooooo sweet! This week, he started saying, "Uh-oh". I'm pretty sure that's my favorite to hear him say. I love it! :) Barrett is still a mini-Chandler, but I am starting to finally see some glimpses of me in him. For a while there I wondered if I was really his mom. Ha! B's hair is still orangey red. I think it's a little brighter than Charlee's was at that age, but not much. I think I hear at least one person tell me everyday (at least when I leave the house ~ ha) that he/she loves his hair. I've almost memorized my response ~ "My 3-year-old's hair was the same color and is blonde now, so we don't know if his will change or stay the same." :) The hair that grew into his bald spot is a lighter, blonde color. We shall see! He definitely has the fiery temper of a red head ~ at least that of SOME, not all redheads ;)



Here is Charlee when she was 14 or 15 months with her bright red hair! She still loves nail polish, too. :)


Charlee bug is growing like a weed! Her 3T jeans are all getting too short, so I'm pretty sure she's grown taller since the beginning of the winter. Slow down, baby girl! Oh, I'm sorry ~ Slow down, BIG girl! She always corrects me when I call her "Baby". I have to remind her time and again that she'll ALWAYS be my "baby big girl". :) She is just growing up way too fast! Don't blink, right? She absolutely loves school and loves her friends. Her little brother will be joining her at school next year, too! It can't come soon enough ~ that boy gets MAD when I drop her off and don't let him stay and play! Ha!

Here are Charlee and her friends at her best friend Jillian's birthday party.




I'm getting very excited about my 30th this month! Crazy to be excited about entering an older decade, huh? I'm trying not to think about THAT part of it. You're only as young as you feel, right? Well, I still call my peers "girls" and still feel weird being called a "woman", so that translates to me being about 21, right? I'll go with it anyway! Ha! Oh how different life was in THOSE days! I was reminded of it a bit this past weekend at a sorority reunion. It was great to see some old friends, and it was also great to be of the YOUNGEST women in the room! Ha! A decade worth of pledge classes were invited, and mine was the youngest. So, who says I'm getting old? I'm not saying it. I've started making my list of the 30 things I'll do on my birthday. I'm still thinking of what to call my day, though. My acts won't really be "random", since I'll have them calculated and detailed for the most part. I guess the receipients will be random, though. Most of them anyway. I can't wait to tell you some of the things I'm going to do! I can't yet, though. It's a surprise to a few special people! SHHHHH ~ don't tell! ;)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Fluff and Stuff

So, I titled this blog earlier today and sat staring at a blank screen because the words just wouldn't flow. That hardly ever happens to me. I just finished my daily Bible study (I'm doing one with a group from church that is pretty AWESOME!) and I realized (through Divine intervention) that the words weren't coming because I wasn't writing on the topic I should be. I like the title "Fluff and Stuff", though, so I'm gonna stick with that. :) I will tell you that the fluff I'm referring to is all of the extra stuff, some of it junk, that has overwhelmed my life, your life, all of our lives, because of worldly influences. No, I'm not saying we should all go live in the woods in a tent and meditate in prayer all day long. I don't believe we are called to separate ourselves, as Christians. In the same respect, we are aliens, we are not of this world (THANK GOD!!), so we shouldn't completely immerse ourselves in it. Oh the fine line.....where does it lie? How much fluff and stuff is okay? How much is too much? What I've come to realize is that any amount that takes away our time and devotion to God and His purpose for us is too much. After my last post, I thought about some different pieces of technology that consumes my time daily. I have tried fasting from a few of these things, like facebook, and let me tell ya ~ I've seen a difference in my life in just a few short days. Facebook didn't consume my day, but it was conveniently on my phone so I could check it at any little break ~ at a red light, at the lunch table, in between laundry loads. :) When I started this Bible study, one of the first things said by Kay Arthur, one of the presenters, was basically that we were going to be held accountable to God for how we spent our time here on Earth. Just because I'm a mother of two small children who is constantly feeding, dressing, bathing, changing, playing, consoling, doesn't mean I will get a free pass for the years I spend "too busy" for daily in-depth Bible study. I need God's word now more than ever! As Kay Arthur says, God gave us 66 books to live by. How many do you think He wants us to know? I've cut my facebook time to once a day ~ usually at night after everything else is done, Bible study included. I'm so exhausted by then that I really don't care to catch myself up on every little post. It's quite a weight off my shoulders, not thinking that I have to read about EVERY little thing. Ha! I feel like I've missed so much, but OH WELL! Email or text me if there's anything too important for me to miss, please. ;) I've got way more important things to be doing with all of those formerly wasted moments!

So, my head is in THE book. That's not good enough, though. I've got to clear my mind and life of distractions to allow God to speak to me through what I read. I'm trying to do that. I have to keep reminding myself, though, that I can't do that alone. I've got to fully rely on my God to help clear my mind and clear my heart so that He can fill them up with His word. Only through Him and His word will my heart and my life be changed to fit His purpose. I have always thought, as a Christian, that I am to read the Bible, pray in the name of Jesus, and go do good deeds. As I've been stretched in my faith the last year, though, I have begun to see it more as living every breath by His word, speaking to Him through my brother, Jesus Christ, with words of praise, adoration, gratitude, and pleading, and becoming a conduit for God to work through me. Deep, huh? ;) That's our purpose in His sight ~ to not be surface Christians, but to really delve deep into what He has for us. His word is SO powerful, SO transforming, and SO ALIVE! EVERY time I read and focus on His word, He speaks to me in ways I never even imagined!
Now to him who is able to do IMMEASURABLY MORE than ALL we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

I'll leave you with my revelation for the day. As I was studying earlier, I wrote the word "good" and underlined it in response to a question from the author. Here's what I thought about: There is no 'I' in 'GOOD', there is only 'G-O-D'. Call me corny, I don't care. Haha! How true it is, though. There is nothing good about me. Nothing good about any earthly human because we are ALL sinners, even straying away from God and not obeying His word is a sin, so you don't have to be a murderer. We are all the opposite of 'good'. So, any 'good' thing we do is not us at all, but GOD. As the planning begins for my 30th birthday "30 Random Acts of God's Love", I pray that God will remind me of this often. Nothing I do on my own is good, but EVERYTHING He does through me is EXTRAORDINARY!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Status Updates in the Kingdom

Facebook is wonderful. You can find out anything you want to know about anybody ~ sometimes not in a good way! It amazes me what some people will post on there. I mean, do people not realize that what they type is forever sealed on their digital "record" somewhere out there in cyberspace? Even if they delete it? Also, I'm not one to air my dirty laundry, but some people seem to enjoy it. What's the saying about not being a fool until you open your mouth?? Impressions you get about a person's character, personality, the things he/she finds important, can be drastically changed when you start reading their status updates. I mean, if you come across as the sweetest, kindest, most courteous person ever in real life, but then only post negative, rude, tearing-down statuses on facebook, I'm gonna think you're fake, and I'm gonna think you're rude, negative, and like tearing people down. Sorry, but your words have a greater lasting impact (on me, anyways) than your actions, especially if I don't really know you that well. I am not naive, either, because I realize that my words on this blog help you to see who I really am. Hopefully, I'm keeping it as real as I can ~ trying to take my cues from you, Erin. ;) Anyways, Facebook is still a great tool to connect people and to keep us up to date on those we care about so we can a) talk about them b) be jealous of them c) feel sorry for them d) roll your eyes at their post or e) minister to them. Let's be honest ~ we've all done every one of those things, haven't we? Not in some of my finer moments, but I am human and I still fight human reactions while reading Facebook posts! I have some friends I have blocked because I couldn't take another of their negative, "woe is me" posts. There are some I would like to block because they seem to use facebook as an outlet to tell the world how awesome they are. These perceptions are obviously MY issue to deal with. ;) WOW ~ I'm seeing a definite fasting from facebook needed in my future! Thank you, Frances, for being my inspiration! ;)

Regardless of your motives or judgements about status updates, I think it's important to realize that there is a greater opportunity for us to minister to others ~ to show them we care about them and to show them that there is a greater Love, the Love of God, no matter who they are or what their lot in life. Ain't technology grand? :) The last week or so, I've been burdened by quite a bit of things I've seen or read on status updates. Someone's two-year-old losing the battle with cancer. A sweet friend losing her mother. Friends with sick loved ones. Miscarriages. Friends with job troubles. Friends with their own health issues. Overall crappy, frustrating days. An abortion practitioner charged with killing babies with scissors after inducing premature labor (...shudder...). We are all faced with daily trials and sufferings. Some of us handle it better than others, but it really doesn't matter. We are humans, and we inhabit an earth that is not yet perfect, far from it.

Along with these disheartening status updates, I've been overwhelmed by some pretty awesome ones as well. A sweet friend bringing her baby boy HOME after 6 long months in the NICU. Healthy babies born. Birthdays celebrated. Marriages and proposals. Awesome recoveries from accidents that should have logically been fatal. Encouraging and loving words between friends. Glorifying praises and thought-provoking Bible verses. Y'all, there are some joyous occasions that we should CELEBRATE and give GLORY to GOD for! We should give an equal amount of praises for the bad, too, though. How hard is that? Pretty durn. Ha! We are called to fully rely on God and have faith in Him through EVERY circumstance, difficult as it may be. When times get tough (which I've been pretty fortunate and blessed lately to not have so many of those times), it is HARD to remember to praise HIM through the storm.

All of this about status updates had been flooding my mind, when I heard "I Can Only Imagine" on the radio in the car the other day. That song brings tears to my eyes everytime. Tears of JOY for what lies ahead for me! I can ONLY imagine! Anyways, I started thinking about what Heaven would be like. Is there going to be a Facebook in the Kingdom? (Don't laugh ~ just think about it.) So, we "update our status" every day, and what would it say? NOTHING negative. NO sickness to report. NO death. NO worries. NO woes. ONLY PRAISES!!! How awesome it THAT going to be?? In case you didn't truly grasp it the first time, I'll add some exclamation points. NOTHING negative! NO sickness! NO death! NO worries! NO woes! ONLY PRAISES!!!! Praises to the GOD who loves us SO much that He took on all of the burdens, heartaches, sins, punishments with His Son's death on an old rugged cross so that we may live forever in a Kingdom filled with GLORIOUS status updates! I don't know about you, but I can't wait to sing praises to my KING in Heaven one day! Whether through a "status update" or not! We shall see. :) Please don't miss out ~ that's one "friend request" you surely don't want to "ignore" or postpone responding to!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Miss Charlee Marie is THREE!!!


It seems like just yesterday when I saw my sweet little girl's face for the first time. She was wide-eyed and so alert when I first saw her. January 7th of 2008 was the day my life changed forever. It was the day that I realized the feeling of loving someone so much that it almost takes away your breath. Sure, I love my husband. I love my family. But this love is completely different. It only grows stronger with time, too. How happy and fun this little girl has made my life!

As I'm typing this, it is Charlee's birthday exactly. 4:24 pm. :) How cool is that? I didn't even plan it. Ha! This morning, when she woke up (in our bed of course), I told her "Happy Birthday!" This sugar pie said, "Thank you to tell me 'Happy Birthday', Momma." Melts my heart.

We will be celebrating with a tea party birthday at the carousel here in Meridian tomorrow. She is beyond excited, as am I! This momma has to make her way back to the kitchen to get cupcakes iced and decorated. I'll leave you with a few of my favorite pics of my Charlee Bell from her sweet little life. Thank you, Lord, for the 3 wonderful years you've blessed me with my Charlee. I wouldn't trade them for the world.