Friday, February 26, 2010

A Long Week

To say that it has been a long week is an understatement. Reagan has been sick since Sunday, so I haven't left my house the entire week. She was acting puny Saturday night and didn't feel great when we headed to church Sunday morning. I kept her with me in our Sunday School class instead of sharing her germs with all her little friends in her class. She slept all day long Sunday, which is highly uncharacteristic of Reagan, and by Sunday night she had a fever of 103.1. Sigh!!!! There has been a fever virus going around so I wasn't all that worried about it. The doctor said it could take 4 or 5 days to run its course. By Tuesday around lunchtime, she was feeling a little better, only to have the fever go back up on Tuesday night. Last night, her temp. was 100.1, the lowest it has been all week, and this morning she is "cool as a cucumber". Maybe we are over this, of course, I am sure Gracen will have it next week. I am not really a pessimist, but definitely a realist, when it comes to raising children. Maybe they are one in the same.

Dealing with sick children is a special "test" I think. It tries my patience like nothing else. I am sure the lack of sleep has something do with my lack of patience. Reagan got up several times in the night on Sunday and Monday, so by Tuesday, I was a little irritable. The constant whining during the day reminds me of the sound of nails on a chalkboard. On top of Reagan's temperament, Gracen must be teething or something because she is drooling like crazy, not wanting to sleep, and a little fussy to boot. I thought I would never get her to sleep Monday night. I have prayed more this week off and on through the day than I normally do. I have prayed for patience, to be all my girls need, for healing for Reagan, for protection for Gracen, for strength and energy to make it through the day on little sleep, for a complete night of rest as my head hits the pillow, etc. Strangely, I have felt closer to God than I normally do. Could it be that I have actually talked to Him more? Imagine that! This reminds of that verse in 1 Thess. 5:17 that tells me to pray without ceasing. I have definitely done just that this week and He has faithfully meet my needs. In the verse preceding this, it says that I should rejoice always. That is a tougher command. It has been hard to rejoice in the yuckies of fussy children. On the flip side, there have certainly been some positive things. I have gotten to stay in my pajamas a lot, I haven't had to be any where, I haven't had to get everyone dressed and ready and out the door by 8:00 (which is stressful every morning) , and I have had a lot of snuggle time with both girls because they have both wanted their Momma. I can certainly rejoice in those things.

Yesterday, was Gracen's 9 month well visit with her pediatrician. You'll remember that she if off schedule. She is actually 9 months and 3 weeks old right now and this still drives me nuts. Anyway, as I said, I haven't been anywhere all week, so I was actually excited about going to the doctor. A first, I can assure you! There are no shots at the nine month visit, just a finger prick to look at cholesterol levels and test for anemia. Gracen cried during that part, but all of her results came back normal. Praise the Lord! She weighed 17lbs 12 oz (in the 30th percentile on the growth chart) and she is 26 & 3/4 inches tall (in the 25 percentile). Both of these numbers worried me of course. Average is 5o% and Reagan was always in the 90th percentile. The doctor said that this is her normal and she was completely fine. She is actually quite chunky despite the numbers, but it looks like she is going to be short, a trait she must have inherited from my mother's side of the family. We will see.

Gene was off yesterday, so I also got to go buy groceries by myself. It was heavenly! I felt like a bird out of a cage. I think I spent well over 2 hours walking up and down the aisles of Wal-Mart. When I got home, I discovered that both girls slept the entire time I was gone...almost 3 hours. Why do they do that for Gene and not for me? I missed the best nap of the week and I was buying groceries. I would have loved to be doing something fun, or watching a movie, or cleaning my house, or napping myself. And wouldn't you know it, as soon as I got the car unloaded, both girls were wide awake, and then I had to cook dinner, then clean the kitchen, then bathe the girls, etc. No rest for the weary, right!

I am working on my questions for the study So Long Insecurity. I am suppose to be identifying the roots of my insecurity and so far, I am having trouble with this. I'll be praying through the different roots over the next couple of days and we'll see what God shows me.

Gene and I are also still working through the Love Dare, even though I haven't been discussing it much. Gene would probably prefer that I didn't discuss it, if you get my drift. Some of it is personal but I'll do an update...maybe when we get to the middle of it.

Well, I need to go. Gene has a men's conference tonight and I have the college girls coming over ....yeah! I should probably be cleaning or something. We are having lasagna, salad, garlic bread, and a dessert. We are watching the movie One Night With the King, the story of Esther, and then I am leading a Bible study and discussion time after the movie. I love Esther's story. It is amazing to think that, as Christians, we have a special purpose in life, that we were created by God with a plan in mind. My older sister let me borrow her copy of the Beth Moore study on Esther called it's Tough Being a Woman, complete with all the DVD's. I am going to start it as soon as I finish the study So Long Insecurity. I can hardly wait!

Well, lots to do today.

Until next time....

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

My Girls

Over the weekend we had a nice little taste of spring. The weather was in the high 60's and we really enjoyed being outside. Gracen didn't quite know what to think about the grass. She would sit for a minute and then reach for me to pick her up and then reach back to the ground to be put down again. It was really cute. These pictures were taken right after church on Sunday.
Oh, that little smile just melts my heart. Isn't she just precious?

Reagan wasn't feeling very well on Sunday, but she wanted to come outside too. I think she saw my camera come out and she really loves to be in front of that camera. That little blue-eyed beauty melts my heart as well. I love watching these two girls interact. They both love each other so much. As I watched them play in the grass a little bit, I yearned for spring to get here. It felt so good to be out of the house and to just watch them play. I especially loved watching Gracen take everything in. The house is just not big enough and quite frankly, we are all getting bored doing the same thing everyday. There are just not that many exciting indoor options.

Here are a few examples of what I mean. I normally keep all the doors closed because Gracen is literally into everything. She is going to destroy my house if we don't get outside soon. On Monday, Reagan left the bathroom door open and this is what I found. As soon as I stepped into the bathroom, Gracen started crawling away from the mess she made. It is like she knew she was in trouble and she was getting out of dodge.

I left all the toilet paper on the floor because #1 I had no desire to clean it up at that moment and #2 how was I going to get it back neatly on the roll anyway. About 30 minutes after this event, Reagan called me from the bathroom and this is what I found.

As soon as I walked in the bathroom, she said, "I didn't do it!" O, Lord give me patience!
And then, today I walked into my foyer to find this...
Again, Gracen immediately start to crawl away.
Oh, Spring, please hurry! I need to get out of this house.

Monday, February 22, 2010

So Long Insecurity-Chapter 4

This post will be in place of my usual Monday weekend wrap-up.

For the book discussion on So Long Insecurity, I am suppose to respond to Chapters 3 and 4 this week. In Chapter 4, Beth gives many examples of biblical characters that suffered with insecurity, and I am suppose to pick the one that I relate to the most. This was a tough one for me because honestly, I could relate to all of them in one way or another. I've decided to talk about two characters. I relate to one on a personal level and one on a ministry level.

The first is Sarai, or Sarah, Abraham's wife. Most of you know her story, I am sure. She suffered with infertility for the majority of her married life. She felt incomplete because she couldn't produce a child for her man. Because of her inability, she eventually gave her husband to her maidservant, Hagar, who conceived for him. She thought this would solve all of her problems and insecurities....Yeah, right!

I struggled with infertility for 8 years, 8 long, hard years. I too felt like I couldn't produce for my man, and this kind of "disability" marks you. Even though I have two beautiful children today, I still feel like I carry those scars. I can remember how desperately we wanted a family and how I felt the brunt of the inability. I can remember thinking that if I couldn't give Gene children then I would have to "earn my keep" in other ways. Crazy right! Looking back, I see the craziness of that thought, but in the moment, those feelings were very real to me. I would try to to meet every need Gene had, keep a really clean house...because Gene is really clean, and cook every night, despite how busy I was, working outside the home. I can also remember serving diligently beside him in ministry, going to all his events, teaching the girls, writing cards...basically whatever he needed me to do, to make up for what I was lacking.

I can remember hearing about Gene's past girlfriends getting pregnant and telling him, "If you had married _________ you would be a daddy now" He would always shake his head and hug me and say, "I didn't love __________. I love you, children or no children." Gene never made me feel responsible or lacking in any way. It is amazing how women truly are our own worst enemy. We give Satan so much ammunition with our own thoughts....or maybe I should say, Satan's thoughts.

I still carry a lot of these thoughts with me today. Even with two girls at home, I feel like I have to keep a clean house, an almost impossible task with young ones, and cook every night, and be everything that Gene needs at home and in ministry. Still trying to produce in some way because this was ingrained into the fabric of who I am for over 8 years. Gene thinks thinks this is ridiculous and is always telling me to relax, let the house go, don't cook, etc. He truly loves me for me and that is an amazing gift.

My second person would be Moses.
Moses encountered a holy God and was commissioned by Him to deliver the Israelites to the Promised Land. Moses offered this excuse in response to God's call: "O, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." Beth's translation of what Moses said: "God, nothing has changed since you showed up. Same old, same old. I can't do it." The Lord said, "I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O, Lord, please send someone else to do it." Yep, that is insecurity at its best. Don't you think?

I cannot tell you how many times I have felt the exact same way and said the exact same thing. With Gene in full time ministry, there are many times that I need to speak publicly, either teaching an all out Bible study, leading a small group devotion, or making an announcement. I still get nervous, depending on who is in the audience. I still feel like I am not equipped to do it, not wise enough, not eloquent in speech. There is not a time that I stand up to speak that I don't pray, pray, pray that God will use my feeble attempts to bring Him glory. I pray through Joshua 1:5-6 which says, "...Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous..." And Joshua 1:9 which says, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." I know the verses, but I definitely have to remind my nerves.

As much as Gene loves to preach, I can't help but wonder if he will be a head pastor one day. That puts a lot of responsibilities on my shoulders....responsibilities that I don't feel qualified to handle. Daily I forget that God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the called. Satan would love for me to think otherwise!

Beth closes Chapter 4 with this: "Human flesh and blood have no weakness so strong that God's strength is made weak. He's got what we need. It's up to us whether or not we're going to let the worst of us get the best of us."

Whatever insecurity you are dealing with, take it to God in prayer. He has exactly what you need to defeat your faulty line of thinking. I know I am taking my faulty thinking to Him every single day until we defeat it together!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

So Long Insecurity-Chapter 3

I am about 6 chapters into my new book by Beth Moore called So Long Insecurity. It has already been such an interesting read. Of course, I know it needs to be more than interesting. It needs to be life changing. I honestly feel like I already need a new highlighter because I am underlining the entire book. It is that good! Of course, most of Beth Moore's stuff is that good.

I have joined an online discussion group at (Beth's website) and we are suppose to answer two questions about our assigned reading each Thursday so I guess I will post some of the answers here on Thursday or maybe Friday of each week as well,....if I can. I can already see how this little ride could get quite personal. But, oh well...for today I am forging ahead.

*Just for the record, when I use ....... that means that I am not quite sure what to do with the punctuation. Do I use a comma or a period or a semi-colon? I am not sure so.......
Yes, I realize I used to teach Language Arts and Writing to 4th graders, but it has been almost 6 years since I was a teacher, and apparently the saying "Use it or lose it" is completely true. I cannot remember most of my grammar rules.

Back to the book
In Chapter 3, I am suppose to talk about my prominent false positive. The one thing that I tend to associate most with security. Beth gave a lot of examples such as a large bank account, a large house, beauty/body image, popularity, prestige, job security, a spouse (if your single), a child ( if you are infertile), etc. What is the one thing that I obsess over, that I think would make me more complete?

Honestly, I could think of several things I would like to have or become, but the one thing that really stands out for me is beauty and body image. I think I have always struggled with keeping my weight down. I was chubby as a child and really through most of Jr. High and High school. Both of my sisters were always thin, as well as all my cousins, and I never felt like I measured up physically. I can remember being on diet after diet and setting weight loss goals and being weighed by my mom once a week. I wanted to measure up to those around me, to those who seemed to have it all together.

I can remember trying out for the cheer leading squad in Jr. High school and not making it. I was devastated and related that loss back to my body image. I can remember liking certain guys and those feelings not being reciprocated or wanting to be a part of the cool crowd and remaining on the outside. All of those things affected my self image.

I brought this into my marriage. I am always comparing myself to other women, sometimes changing clothes 10 times before I go somewhere, always asking Gene if I look alright. In our 14 years of marriage, I have been a size 14 and I have been a size 6. I honestly wasn't truly happy with myself at either size, or any size in between. I wrap up in a robe or a towel as soon as I step out of the shower, never walk around the house in something "skimpy" or heaven forbid, in the nude, and I don't even walk around a pool in my bathing suit. I will take off my cover-up at the side of the pool and get in and then put it back on as soon as I get out. All of this was true when I was a size 6 and relatively thin. I don't know how small I would have to be to actually feel comfortable in my skin.

I also have crooked front teeth and they make me very self-conscious. I hate meeting new people because I feel like they are staring at my teeth. I don't smile all that big or at least not for long. I think about getting braces every single day, but on one income such a cosmetic thing feels like such a luxury. The money for braces always needs to go somewhere else, or so it seems.

I also have terrible skin. I have age spots, dark spots, or sun spots...whatever you want to call them. I freckle easily. My face will break out, still, at 36 years old.

All of these things together add up to low self image, even though I don't really think I come across that way.

So, long story short, I guess if was runway beautiful, I would be more secure. According to Beth, the answer to that is No! She says that improving my appearance can make me feel better about myself and arguably improve some quality of life, but it still won't heal my insecurity. The more I think it will, the more I am setting myself up for more insecurity. It is a trap to place my security in any earthly thing. I can attain what I am after....a thin, well built body, straight, white teeth, clear skin....all for the right amount of exercise, healthy eating, and money...but then I would have to work like heck to keep it. It would be exhausting to keep up. Security in any earthly thing simply cannot be sustained. How true is that statement?

My challenge from the end of Chapter 3 is this: To let the healthy, utterly whole, and completely secure part of us increasingly overtake our earthen vessels until it drives our every emotion, reaction, and relationship. When we allow God's truth to eclipse every false positive and let our eyes spring open to the treasure we have, there in His glorious reflection we'll also see the treasure we are. And the beauty of the Lord our God will be upon us (Psalm 90:17)

Well, I still have another question to answer for Chapter 4, but that post took a lot out of me, so I will have to answer the next one tomorrow.

Until then...

Oh, if any one would like to share their prominent false positive, I would love to hear it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Valentine's Day Continued

I wanted to share one more activity that Reagan and I did together in honor of Valentine's Day. She really wanted to make cookies, so I bought all the stuff, and was looking forward to spending time with her one on one. We were going to make the cookies on Saturday afternoon, which was the day we celebrated Valentine's, but we decided to go see my parents instead. By the time we got back home it was just about dinnertime and and then bath time and then bedtime. If you are a mom, you know how quickly the night goes. Anyway, long story short, when she got home from school on Monday, she had not forgotten about this little project. As soon as I got Gracen down for her afternoon nap, we got started.

Here is Reagan rolling out the dough. Can I just say that while Reagan was at preschool that morning, I cleaned my house. My kitchen was clean top to bottom and it was very difficult for me to scatter this flour out on my counter tops. I told her to be careful with the flour and with the first roll, she knocked a big pile on the floor. I just smiled. I know kids make messes, and I know messes can be cleaned up. I am just confessing that it hurt to destroy my kitchen....again.

Here is Reagan cutting our her heart shaped cookies. Every time she did this, we had to take the left over dough, ball it up, put more flour on the counter (cringe), and roll it out all over again.

Here she is decorating her cookies. She LOVED the whole decorating part. She covered one pan of cookies with sprinkles. I didn't take a picture, but when I say covered, that is what I mean. You couldn't see the cookies anymore. When I told her to go easy with the sprinkles, she said, "Oh, Mom, you know sprinkles make everything better. Sprinkles are the spice to like." She meant to say " of life"....sprinkles are the spice of life....but, how cute was that? I got a good chuckle over that commentary. She must have picked up that phrase from TV because I am pretty sure that I don't use that saying around here much.

Here she is adding frosting to the cookies that weren't covered up with sprinkles. She is making "Daddy" on this cookie.And here is the finished "Daddy" cookie. She gave it to him when he walked in the door from work and asked him to be her Valentine. My heart just melted.

I am so glad that I messed up my kitchen. We spent an hour and a half just talking and laughing and enjoying each other's company. It was definitely worth it.

Changing subjects...
I am leading my monthly momMEtime group this coming Thursday morning and the topic is marriage. I have read many great resources preparing for this topic, and I have been convicted in many areas. It is so easy during the parenting years to let your marriage fall to the wayside. I know personally, having two young children at home is exhausting and many days there isn't much energy left for my husband. I know he gets the leftovers, and I am really trying to make the necessary changes to ensure that he doesn't feel that way.

Speaking of getting the leftovers, I think this is true in my relationship with God some days too. The needs of my children seem to take over every minute of the day, from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. Some times it is hard to make myself sit still before the Lord and focus myself on what He may want to say to me.
As a Christian, a wife, and a mother I need to make sure that I prioritize things in that order. My relationship with God is my top priority. I know that being a mom is difficult, and I do have to be creative about the time that I spend with God. My Bible study and prayer time is not as in depth right now as it used to be and that's OK. It is not OK if I just blow off my relationship with my heavenly Father for this "season" of raising babies. If that were true, I could easily go 5 years or more without growing in my faith. I don't think that is biblical. I need his guidance and his strength to do this great job that he has called me to. I still strive to get up a good hour or more before my girls do so I can spend some time in my Bible and prayer. Yes, I would rather sleep, but God always blesses my efforts.
My role as Gene's wife comes next. I was his wife before the children arrived, and I will be his wife after the children leave this house. I need to actively nourish this relationship, making time for daily communication, quality time, and romance. I am guilty of thinking that I have to pour every ounce of energy and attention into my children. I am also guilty of not wanting to go on date nights because Gracen is fussy at night and wants her Mommy. After Gracen's arrival, we went a good 4 or 5 months without going anywhere by ourselves. Quite frankly, I didn't want to leave her. I have asked Gene's forgiveness for this and now we are scheduling date nights every other week. These times have been really good for us, and I am already looking forward to next week's date. I know that the very best gift that I can give my children is an amazing the marriage goes, so goes the family.
For the Love Dare experiment, we are thinking about thoughtfulness. Love is thoughtful, isn't it? Not just doing thoughtful things for the other person, but actively thinking about your spouse throughout the day. Thoughtfulness meets the needs of the other person and keeps the mouth in check. Thoughtlessness, which leads to selfishness, is the silent enemy to a loving, thriving marriage.
Today, I am suppose to contact Gene and let him know that he is on my mind and ask him what I can do for him today.
If you are married, I want to encourage you to do this for your spouse today. This is an easy one....but so easy, it doesn't necessarily happen on a daily basis. This could be in the form of a phone call, a text, a Facebook status, or an email.
Until next time....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Snow, Valentine's Day, and a Chore Chart

We had a really fun weekend together as a family. On Friday, it snowed and snow never ceases to amaze me here in central Alabama. It was so beautiful outside and so warm inside. Gene and Reagan played outside for close to 2 hours...maybe more. I had to stay inside with Gracen because she still had the remnants of a cold. Her little nose was still running and she was coughing, a new symptom that started on Thursday. I couldn't risk bringing her out in the cold, even for the snow. I hope she will forgive me for missing it.

I did run out and take a picture or two.

This first picture is when the snow first started to fall. Reagan wanted to catch the snow flakes on her tongue so she and Gene sat in the yard with their tongues out for a good 10 minutes, off and on. She had a blast running around the yard with her tongue out....too funny.

Remember the sword she wanted for getting a shot at the doctor's office on Thursday. It is in the picture too.

Here is a picture of the two of them after the snow really started coming down. We were so amazed to see the snow fall from 10:00 a.m. to almost 5:00 p.m. After this picture, Reagan and Gene headed back to Gene's parent's house, which is behind the metal building to see in the background of the picture. Reagan's cousin's, Abby and Jacob, were there and they played in the snow together for the rest of the time. They did take breaks, coming in to drink some hot chocolate. Unfortunately, these are really the only pictures I took because I had to stay home with Gracen.

The next event of the weekend was Valentine's Day. We celebrated on Saturday because Sundays are so incredibly busy for us. Here is a picture of the breakfast I made for my little family. We had blueberry pancakes, cheese grits, and pigs in a blanket. Reagan helped me of course. She loves to mix and stir the pancake mix. She loved the heart-shaped pancake mold. I didn't love it quite as much because I could only make 2 pancakes at a time and it took forever. Using my griddle, I usually make about 4 or 5 pancakes at a time and with Gracen crawling around, I want to do everything quick. In the moment, this really tried my patience, but looking back, I am glad that we did it. I know I am making memories in her little mind.

Here is Reagan sitting in front of her breakfast....and yes, she is in the same Ariel nightgown that you have seen her wear in many pictures. She loves that thing. She has had it for well over a year and it hasn't gotten old to her yet.

Gracen didn't really get the Valentine breakfast, but we did bring her over to get in the picture with Reagan.

Here is Reagan opening her Valentine present from us. We do not do much for this holiday. I have always gotten Reagan a hardback book that tells her how much I love her and some candy. In the cover of the book I write the date and a Valentine's message telling her how much we love her. She has all 4 books from the past 4 Valentine Days on her bookshelf. Hopefully, these books will be something that she will always keep and treasure as she grows up.
This year, her book wasn't a sappy, I love you book, but one that was so Reagan, I knew she would like it. It is called Pinkalicious, and it is about a little girl who loves pink, loves to dress up, and loves cupcakes...all of Reagan's favorite things too. Inside, I started her little inscription, "To my little pink princess...." We have already read this book 10 times.

Here is Gracen with her Valentine book. It is a sappy love book called My Youngest, There's No One Like You. Reagan has one by the same author called My Adopted Child, There's No One Like You. This series of books talks about birth order and basically tells each child in the family that she is special and loved regardless of how and when she came into the family. They are very sweet. Doesn't Gracen look excited?
Gene and I went out to eat on Thursday night in honor of Valentine's Day and we never exchange presents.
Changing the subject, I ordered a chore chart for Reagan. Now that she is 4, I thought she needed to start contributing to the family and earning some money. So far she has loved it. When she completes her "task" she will holler "Chore chart, chore chart," and run to it to put her smiley faces up. So far, she is picking up her toys and even making her bed...even though that bed looks nothing like a "made bed" should look, if you know what I mean. She is also getting smiley faces for brushing her teeth, dressing herself, helping me with indoor chores, saying please and thank you, and no whining. She is getting a quarter for each completed basically a quarter a day. We are going to change the jobs every couple of weeks, based on what she needs to work on.
Here are a few shots of the chart. It is hanging in our laundry room.

Well, this is basically my weekend wrap-up. Tomorrow I hope to continue talking about the Love Dare a little bit, and I am also several chapters into my new book So Long Insecurity, so I need to share some from it as well.
Until then.....have a great day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Random thoughts

My mind is all over the place this week.

Both girls have had colds and even though they are much better, Gracen still has a runny nose and has not been sleeping very well. This means that I am not sleeping very well, which affects my ability to get everything done around the house and still think clearly enough to write an interesting blog entry.

I have been working on some projects around here, using all of my free time. I finally finished Reagan's annual "Birth Mother Book". Every year after her birthday, I write a letter all about Reagan and put together a photo album with captions highlighting our year, and mail it to the adoption agency, who in turn, mails it to the birth mother. I usually mail it the week of her birthday, which was a month ago. I apologized in my letter and blamed Gracen. LOL! I used to be pretty organized and stayed on top of things, but some days I am just doing good to get a shower. Now that Gracen is mobile, sitting at the computer is becoming a thing of the past for sure.

I am also cleaning out closets, preparing for my momMEtime meeting next week, and organizing paper work to have our taxes done in a few days.

Reagan had her 4 year old well visit with her pediatrician today. She is 42 inches tall and weighs 40 pounds. The doctor said that she has the height of an average 5 or 6 year old. Now that I think about it, she is the tallest one in her class. The growth charts predict her to be around 5'9" tall. This doesn't surprise me at all. Her birth parents were very tall. The birth mother was 5'9" and the birth father was 6'2". The birth mother's dad was 6'8". That scares me a little. She could be really, really tall. Maybe we will have a famous basketball player on our hands with some really mad Kristen Emerson.

Reagan got a shot today and she did really well. Children get 3 vaccines at age 5 and I asked if we could go ahead and get one so her 5 year old well visit wouldn't be so dramatic. I told her if she was a really brave girl that we would go to Toy R Us and get a treat. Yes, I bribed my child and I am not embarrassed by that in the least. It worked too. She held her breath and took her shot like a big girl. She didn't even cry. She got off the table and said, "Momma, that wasn't so bad." I asked her if she wanted another one and she said no. I guess it didn't feel all that good.

We headed over to Toys R Us and she wanted a sword. I girly, right? Well, there is a reason. She loves Barbie and the 3 Musketeers and all the girls have swords in that movie. She thinks that is so cool. We found the perfect sword for $5.00 and she asked if she could have two so we could sword fight. Of course, I said yes. I mean I have to be able to protect myself. We have been home a few hours and we have already battled it out. Gracen has been looking at us like we are crazy.

I am about to go get my haircut and then Gene and I have a date night tonight in honor of Valentine's Day. We are headed to Longhorn, our favorite restaurant. We are going to munch down on some steaks and make googly eyes at each other. I am sure we will end up at Starbucks too. We usually do!

I'll post more about the Love Dare soon.

Grab your sweetie and snuggle up. The snow is supposed to start rolling in around midnight. It's going to be a cold one.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

This entry should be relatively short, if that is possible for me, because there isn't a lot to wrap-up from the weekend. Both of my girls were sick so I was pretty much confined to my house. Reagan woke up Thursday morning coughing, sneezing, and complaining that her throat hurt. By Thursday night, her nose was running and I could tell by looking at her that she didn't feel good. I kept her home from school on Friday and tried my best to keep Gracen away from her. I also spent the day wiping off Gracen's hands and all her toys to keep her from catching whatever Reagan had. Well, as you can probably imagine, this was a complete waste of energy because Gracen woke up with it Saturday morning. Ugh!!!! Neither one of them had fever so maybe this was just a cold. They both seem better today, but Gracen's nose is still nasty.

I was so disappointed that they were sick. Gene was leading a D-NOW weekend at our previous church, Shoal Creek Baptist, and I was so looking forward to going and seeing old friends. Gene spoke Friday night, Saturday morning, Saturday night, and Sunday morning for the entire church. I was hoping to go to either the Friday or Saturday night service and the Sunday morning service, and was unable to go to anything. Sick babies want their mommies, right? I told Gene about 2 weeks ago, that I knew something would happen with one of the girls to prevent me from getting to go with him, and low and behold, I was right. It was a long, lonely weekend and by Saturday night....which was the 3rd time he left without me, I wanted to cry as he walked out the door. God specifically spoke to my heart that evening, reminding me how many years that I had prayed for these two children that I have. He reminded me that they are blessings to enjoy, not hardships to endure. Those thoughts certainly brought me a little comfort. Gene and I were married for 10 years before Reagan's arrival, and I was by Gene's side at most events. I got to come and go as I wanted, I went to bed when I wanted, I woke up when I wanted, and I spent my money on what I wanted. Motherhood has changed all that, and as much as I adore my girls, sometimes that is still a hard pill to swallow.

On the other hand, I really felt like I had been given the gift of time over the weekend. I didn't feel any pressure to do house work or run errands because I was suppose to have been gone anyway. Instead, I spent a lot of time with Reagan, especially when Gracen was sleeping. We made Valentine cards and colored together on Saturday. Saturday night we watched a new movie and popped popcorn and just layed on the floor together. On Sunday, we played every game she owns. I got out Memory for the first time and she really impressed me. She beat me the first round and I wasn't even trying to "let her win". We spent a lot of time playing Candyland and Chutes and Ladders. It was really nice. I enjoyed just talking to her and listening to her. She is really a smart little girl.

Gene and I continued on with Love Dare #2 over the weekend, even though I didn't see him that much. I did little things over several days that I don't normally do, like ironing his clothes. He called to check in with me more than normal and on Sunday afternoon he sent me to our bedroom for some free time while he watched the girls before heading back to church. That was a nice couple of hours. He also asked me several times if there was anything I needed help with. So, I guess all of those were random acts of kindness.

Gene won't be home until 9:00 tonight, so I guess we will move on to Love Dare #3 on Tuesday, when I actually get to see him before bedtime.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Love Dare #2

I am proud to say that Gene and I successfully completed Dare #1. We were completely positive with one another all day yesterday. I guess that is not such a huge accomplishment because most people can guard their mouths for 24 hours. We are on to Dare #2 and apparently these dares build on one another. Dare #2 is to show kindness to your spouse in the form of an unexpected gesture of kindness, in addition to not saying anything negative to him. I think that's tricky. Don't you? I thought after 24 hours I could go back to my little sarcastic self. I'm not terribly sarcastic, mind you, but sometimes a little sarcasm seems necessary. According to this book, that's not true.

I will not see Gene today. Isn't that sad? It is a typical Friday for us though. He left this morning around 7:15 a.m. and will get home sometime around 11:00 p.m., so it will be difficult to perform a random act of kindness today. This dare will take us through the weekend. I am already thinking about what my random act of kindness should be. Maybe I should iron his clothes Saturday and Sunday morning. He normally irons his own clothes each and every morning. If you are one of those wives who irons your man's clothes everyday, more power to you. I am not one of those wives. I have enough to do just trying to get myself and two girls ready to go. Maybe coffee or breakfast in bed tomorrow morning after such a late night on Friday night. Maybe I should let him sleep late while I get up and watch the kids....Oh, wait...I do that every morning. Was that negative?

I don't know what my random act will be. I'll have to keep thinking about this one today.

Obviously, the little chapter that accompanies this dare is about kindness and the author of the book did a great job of explaining the difference between patience (from Dare #1) and kindness.

*Sentences taken from the book are in bold print.*
Kindness is love in action. If patience is how love reacts in order to minimize a negative circumstance; kindness is how love acts to maximize a positive circumstance. Patience avoids a problem; kindness creates a blessing. One is preventive, the other proactive. These two sides of love are the cornerstones on which many of the other attributes of love are built.

When you are operating from kindness, you're careful how you treat your spouse, never being unnecessarily harsh.
Being kind means you meet the needs of the moment. If your husband need to talk you listen. If he needs help with something, you stop what you are doing and help him. It graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying about her rights. (that means strike the remark about Gene sleeping in and me getting up with the girls)
Kindness inspires you to be agreeable rather than obstinate, reluctant, or stubborn.
Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step... it greets first, smiles first, serves first, and forgives first.

Wow! That is no small order is it?

Your enjoyment in marriage is linked to the daily level of kindness expressed.
True, so true!

"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you." Ephesians 4:32

Changing the subject, I just got my book So Long Insecurity in the mail. This is the newest book by Beth Moore. I am very excited about this and hopefully through this Bible study I can lay some of my demons to rest.

Reagan is home sick today. She is coughing, sneezing, and her little nose is all stuffed up. She doesn't have any fever yet. Hopefully, she just has a little cold and nothing more. I feel sure Gracen will get this, so that means my next week will be fun. Oh well. Joys of motherhood, right?

Have a great day and show some kindness to your spouse today.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Nine Months of Blessings

My sweet Gracen Rae is 9 months old today. She is such a joy. She is happy most of the time and has the sweetest disposition. She is just so easy-going and I am thankful everyday for her personality. God must have known that a second cranky baby would have put me over the edge...joking! I actually haven't found many things that upset this precious angel. She enjoys car rides, bath time with Reagan, playing with each of us, visiting family members, eating, being rocked and cuddled, being sung too, being outside, looking at picture books, playing with toys, and exploring our house. She is crawling all over the house and getting into everything. You'll see this is some of the photos below. There are a few things that she clearly does not like. These include going to the doctor's office (who can blame her), getting out of the bath tub, having her face cleaned, and being left in the church nursery.Here is a picture of Gracen trying to stand up. She ought to have really fit thighs because she is always pushing up and squatting back down....over and over and over throughout the day. Amazingly, her little thighs are fat as ever.
Here is one of her new favorite little hang outs. She loves to stand up and recently she starting pulling on my blinds, just like Reagan did. Now, I have to keep them pulled up so she can stand here and look out the window. You can find her here throughout the day, just checking out the scenery. She is a short little thing, isn't she? That is really strange to me because Gene and I are relatively tall.

This is another favorite location. She is always crawling into Reagan's closet and pulling her shoes off the shelf. Oh the messes she is making for me. I find myself closing the door repeatedly through the day because Reagan cannot seem to remember to close it herself.
Here are a few shots of her exploring the house. I place her in the middle of our den and within a few seconds I find her heading to the bathroom. For whatever reason this is another room that she enjoys. We are having to keep this door closed as well. Just a few days ago she pulled up on the toilet and her face was level where bottoms sit and this grossed me out. Just saying! She will actually reach up and shut the in this if to say, "Just leave me alone. I'm exploring right now. I'll open the door when I'm done." Funny!
Here she is in Reagan's room. This is where she crawled too right after she finished exploring the bathroom. She made the mess that you see on the floor...not Reagan. She turned over the pink toy bucket that you see behind her and pulled everything out. Reagan doesn't particularly like this, and neither do I. But, this is where we are. If you drop by my house unexpectedly, this is what you will find. My floors always look like this.
Yes, I am constantly checking all of Reagan's things for small items that Gracen could choke on. It's exhausting. That little "Flounder" you see on the floor next to Gracen was picked up right after this picture.
I love these next two pictures. Gracen is always trying to get Reagan's attention, even when Reagan is watching cartoons and minding her own business, like in this shot. Gracen crawled all the way up onto the beanbag and Reagan cuddled her.

Isn't this too sweet!

Well that is all for the pictures.
Gracen is starting to eat more and more solid food. She eats an organic baby yogurt for breakfast, a fruit and a veggie for lunch, and a fruit and a veggie for supper. I am giving her more and more things from our meals, trying to let her try things. She really likes bread, green beans(from the table, not the pureed kind), butter beans, and cheese. I am still nursing her 4 times a day, which may be too much for her age. I am not really sure when I am suppose to drop down to 3 nursing sessions and then 2. But, I guess I will figure this out. She loves snacking on Cheerios and they get me through any errand I need to run. She also loves drinking from her sippy cup now. I would love to get her solely on her cup and off of me. She now has some teeth and she has nicked me about 4 times......No fun, I tell you, no fun!
She is also walking along our couch and love seat....holding on of course. I wonder how long it will be before she takes off walking on her own. She already tries to let go and continue "walking" but falls every time.
Gene and I will continue our Love Dare #1 today. Remember we are not suppose to say anything negative to each other. We couldn't really do this yesterday because I only saw him briefly before he headed to'll remember the toilet incident. He had to go to Auburn yesterday afternoon and didn't get home until 1:30 a.m. Today he is off all day, so we will see how we do. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Love Dare- Challenge #1

**Sentences in bold print were taken from the book The Love Dare.

If you remember, Gene brought home a book called the Love Dare one night last week. It is a challenge including 40 specific dares that you and your spouse are suppose to complete to bring you closer together. We thought that February was a fitting month to start walking through this book. It is designed to last 40 days, with a specific dare on each day, but it is going to take us more than 40 days because Gene is only home 3 nights a week, and I am pretty sure I need to "see" him to be able to complete some of these dares. Of course, it is not the amount of days that is important, but rather that we are more conscious of each other and growing as a couple.

Last night we read the introduction together and the first dare. One of the paragraphs really stuck with me. It said that to be successful with this challenge and in marriage that I have to make the choice not to FOLLOW my heart, but rather to LEAD it. The world tells us to follow our hearts, to do what feels good for the moment, to say what we what, and to go after what we want. That is not what the Bible says. The Bible tells me in Jeremiah 17:9 that my heart is deceitful above all things, meaning that it will always pursue what feels right in the moment, not necessarily what is best for the long run. As a christian, I have to take control of my heart through prayer and resist thoughts that are not beneficial to my marriage, making the choice to LEAD my heart.

Marriage is not the process of trying to change Gene into the person that I want him to be. It is the process of genuinely excepting who he is. Love is a decision and not just a feeling. It is selfless, sacrificial, and transformational. I cannot wait for Gene to display these characteristics, and then make the choice to follow suit. It is my responsibility on a daily basis to choose the see the best in him, to choose unconditional love, regardless of his actions or responses. If we both choose to focus on these things, then our marriage will be a beautiful thing.

The first dare had to do with patience. When you choose to be patient, you respond in a positive way to a negative situation. You are slow to anger. You choose to have a long fuse instead of a quick temper. A lack of patience will turn your home into a war zone, while the practice of patience will foster peace and quiet. Patience helps gives your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails.

Our dare has to do with our words. For one whole day, we are not to say anything negative to each other. If the temptation arises, we are to say nothing at all.

I thought this would be a piece of cake, even though my mouth gets the best of me some time.

Well, this morning before 6:30 a.m., I felt the need to break this challenge.....I didn't, but I really wanted to. I was in the shower and Gene came in and decided to use the bathroom and flushed the toilet in the middle of my hot shower, taking all my water pressure. I thought that was thoughtless. Seems like he could have waited to flush it until I turned off the water, and I was about to tell him so when I remembered the what did I do? I said absolutely nothing. Even when he came over and told me he wasn't thinking and was sorry, I said nothing. He thought I didn't hear him, so he said it again. At this point, I just said, "OK", and that was about it. Beautiful picture of love, right? At least I didn't say anything negative.

He got in the shower after me and you know exactly what I was thinking, don't you? I really wanted to go flush the toilet. After all, I wouldn't have been breaking the dare. I could have easily flushed the toilet without saying anything negative. I decided against because #1 ....It would have been really childish of me...and #2...He did apologize.

And to think, I have 39 more challenges to go. This might be harder than I thought.

Ephesians 4:2 "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."

*I won't be sharing all 40 of the dares because that might be breaking some copyright of the book....just saying.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Good Intentions

Can I just say that I have every intention of blogging every day. I think about it and I want to sit down and write out my thoughts, but my girls often have other plans for me. Yesterday was one of those days. Nothing bad happened. I just literally ping-ponged between them most of the day.

Mondays are normally a little crazy for me because it is Reagan's long day at school. I pick her up at 2:00 because she has Flip Factory (gymnastics) and Lunch Bunch. On Wednesdays and Fridays I pick her up at 11:30. Anyway, on Monday, I always buy groceries and run errands because I have time to get back home for Gracen to have a good nap before it is time to head back to get Reagan. So yesterday, I woke up at 5:30, had my quiet time, showered, packed Reagan stuff, woke up both girls, did breakfast with them, got them ready and we were out the door by 8:00. I dropped Reagan off and then went to do my weekly errands. Gracen and I made it back home by 10:30 and she slept until 12:30. I spent the first hour she was asleep unpacking my car and putting everything away. As I was unloading the car, I realized how ridiculously dirty it was, so I spent another 30 minutes cleaning out all the toys and debris, vacuuming the inside, and wiping everything down. As I was doing this, I remembered all the times I had judgemental thoughts about other mothers and their "laziness" because of their dirty cars. Please understand that these thoughts were before I had kids, when it is easy to judge from the outside looking in, and certainly before I had a 4 year old and who has infinite about of stuff that she feels the need to bring in the car with her on every trip. Anyway, I then washed 2 loads of clothes and picked up all around the house and then my stomach told me to sit down and eat lunch, which I obeyed. I was going to blog while Gracen was sleeping, but oh well....maybe next nap. After Gracen woke up, I had to nurse her and then had about 45 minutes left before it was time to get back in the car to go get Reagan. I decided to use that time playing with her on the floor because she had either been in the car, in a shopping cart, or asleep since she initially woke up at 7:00.

We returned home from picking up Reagan at 2:30. At this point, I needed to spend some time with her and tried two times to put Gracen down for a nap, which she refused. Both girls expected me to feed them. Then I thought I should probably bathe them because we got home too late Sunday evening to take baths. After these activities, I felt like I had run a marathon and had complete brain fog and couldn't have posted anything worth reading anyway.

Like this run down of my day is worth reading.....LOL!

After dinner and bath time, Reagan ended up going to spend the night with her grandparents, who live right behind us. This wasn't planned, but I am always up for a break, and it is important that she spend time with both sets of grandparents. Great memories for her! By this time, it was around 6:30 and Gracen was exhausted because she didn't take her afternoon nap. I managed to keep her awake until 7:15 and was eagerly looking forward to almost two hours of "me" time because I didn't expect Gene home until around 9:00. I was going to blog and paint my toe nails, exciting stuff, right? I was just settling in when I heard the door unlock at 7:40. Gene was home early and plopped down beside me on the couch and was in the mood to talk. I think he talked about an hour about different things that went on during his day at work. There went the "me" time.

Of course, this is the month of "love" so I stopped what I was doing and gave him my full attention.

So, long story short, the blog didn't happen yesterday.

I have been giving you a weekend wrap-up on Mondays, but honestly there wasn't much to wrap up. Saturday I went to clean my sister's office, which I do once a month for a little mad money. I went to church Sunday morning and Sunday night, but I really cannot even give a "commentary" on what I learned because during worship Sunday morning I was nursing Gracen and on Sunday evening, Gene and I had nursery. We were in Reagan's class and we both learned that we are NOT called to children's ministry. I wiped about 10 bottoms that night and that is about 10 too many, if you know what I mean. I also saw several boogers and I didn't enjoy that either. Thank God for preschool workers! Thank you Lord, that I am not one of them!

As I type all of this, I realize that I haven't shared one spiritual insight or nugget of encouragement, which is really what I want my blog to be about. Just know, I am trying to figure it all out....
how to grow daily in my relationship with my Savior
how to be a wife
how to be a mother
how to manage my home
how to stay connected to family and friends
how to serve in ministry
how to exercise
how to eat healthy and prepare healthy meals
how to shower each day and paint my toe nails

If you are a stay home mom, let me know how you balance this thing called "life". I am in this with you. I am trying and I won't give up!