Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Croup and Storms

Reagan had croup last week. I haven't mentioned it on my blog because my girls have been sick so much that it is getting ridiculous. Actually, I was pretty sure that it was another allergic reaction. She used to have these pretty regularly, between the ages of one and three. It has probably been a year since she had a reaction, so the doctor called this barking and wheezing episode "croup". He said croup is treated just like an allergic reaction...steroid, breathing treatment, Tylenol for the low grade fever...so it didn't really matter what we called it. He did say that I would know if it was croup if Gracen developed the same symptoms within a few days.

Obviously, it was croup. Gracen started coughing and her nose was runny on Monday. By Monday night her cough was getting thicker and she woke up this morning with a full blown barky cough and a pretty strong wheeze. Her nose was also coated with green snot...lovely, right after my morning coffee. I immediately called the doctor.

I was not happy about this because Tuesday is my day to stay at home. I needed to stay at home today because I am behind on laundry and housework. Oh well...I know those things will be here tomorrow. Anyway, we left at 9:30 and didn't get back home until around 1:00. Gracen definitely has croup and received a steroid shot and an oral prescription. She is incredibly ill and my nerves are about shot, especially coming out of the long weekend we had. Apparently, Gracen wasn't sleeping because she was coming down with croup, or at least I hope that is the reason. I must say though, he did sleep wonderfully last night, despite being sick.

Reagan wet the bed again, but I think she knew I was at my limit. This morning I discovered that she had pulled her wet sheets off of her bed, changed her clothes, and climbed into her sleeping bag in the middle of the night. It kind of made me feel bad that she felt like she couldn't wake me up, but I am also very glad she let me sleep.

Changing subjects...

I wanted to share briefly about the sermon from Sunday morning. It was so applicable to life... not just a load of theology. It was based on Mark 4:35-41 where Jesus is in the small boat with the disciples when a huge storm comes along. Jesus is asleep and the disciples start to freak out. They woke him up and Jesus completely calms the storm by saying, "Peace! Be still!" He then questions the disciples about why they were afraid and why they had such little faith.

Bro. Tim did a great job developing this story and I just wanted to hit some of the highlights. He started out reminding us that we are either in a storm, coming out of a storm, or about to go into our next storm. Isn't that so true? We know that is part of this fallen world we live in and we need to be thankful for the calm times in our lives....those moments between the storms. I am not thankful enough for those calm times. Bro. Tim basically pointed out that there are two reactions to storms....
1. They make people flee from God as they become angry and bitter about the hand they have been dealt...or
2. They run to God trying to be as close to God as possible because they know that is their source of strength.

The best choice is obviously #2. To successfully weather the storms of life, first and foremost, we need to make sure that Jesus is in our boat. Are you a believer? Have you asked Jesus Christ to come into your heart, to forgive you of your sins, and to become your Savior and Lord? I hope so. If not, send me a message. I would love to meet with you.

As believers we can certainly trust the promises of Jesus. At the beginning of this story, Jesus said to his disciples in vs. 35, "Let us cross to the other side." Jesus knew the storm was coming and as Bro. Tim pointed at, he didn't say, "Let us TRY to get to the other side." I had never really thought about that. My mind immediately went to the promise of heaven. I may have many storms to endure in this life, but God will be faithful. He promises to never let me go and I will make it the other side.

I will hold on to Jesus. With Jesus in my boat I will not sink. Bro. Tim gave a lot of examples of people that God has faithfully stood with, despite their circumstances, people like Noah, Abraham, David, and Daniel. He also shared a powerful story about his mother who died of cancer. In the weeks leading up to her death, the nurses were struck by the complete peace that was felt in her hospital room. One nurse commented that the same peace was absent in other patient rooms...rooms that must have contained "lost" people. In their rooms, there were cries of pain, anger, bitterness, coldness, etc. Bro. Tim's mom had the complete peace that comes from knowing Jesus Christ as her personal Savior and Lord. Even though she lost her fight with cancer, God was faithful. He was in the boat and he safely brought her to the other side.

That makes me want to stand up and cheer!

Philippians 4:7 "And the PEACE OF GOD, which SURPASSES ALL UNDERSTANDING, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."

Monday, March 29, 2010


Before having children, I used to think how fun it would be to fill those Christmas stockings and Easter baskets for my little blessings from above. Fast forward 4 years into doing these little activities and I am just about over it. I will continue of course, but I just got back from the grocery store and Target and probably spent $50.00 on junk...just to put in Reagan and Gracen's Easter basket. I try to find a balance between a few useful things, "Christian" things, and girly things that Reagan will really enjoy. It is a struggle and it is expensive. I also just spent an hour filling about 60 eggs with candy for Reagan's party on Wednesday and other Easter egg hunts that we will attend. Crazy the things we do for our kiddos! I certainly did not want to spend my morning hunting for Easter basket stuff and filling eggs with candy...not after the weekend I had.

Life is perfectly orchestrated where there is some holiday or expensive event every month. Start with the big ones...October is Halloween, November is Thanksgiving, December is Christmas, January is Reagan's birthday and my nephew's birthday, February is Valentines, March/April is my Dad's birthday, my birthday, my niece's birthday, and Easter, May is my other niece's birthday, Gracen's birthday, Mother's Day and Graduations gifts, etc., etc., etc. Every single month has something pretty big....very clever Hallmark or whoever invented all this mess. Well done, in pulling me in to your master plan of taking all my money.

The bad thing is that I really cannot stop the madness. Reagan is already talking about what might be in her Easter basket. She would be so disappointed if the Easter bunny forgot her house.

Another rant, my children have lost their minds. Gracen hasn't been sleeping...at all...and now Reagan is wetting the bed again. She has wet the bed 3 times in the last week. It seems like just hours after getting Gracen settled, Reagan is standing by my side of the bed, soaking wet from the waist down. Oh, the inhumanity of having to change all the bed linens at 3:30 in the morning. I am so ready for a good night sleep. I mean like 12 hours. I want to lay down at 8:00 p.m. and not be bothered until 8:00 a.m. Seriously! Is that too much to ask?

Apparently so.

A third rant....the mess in my house. Children definitely live here. Why do they insist on dragging out every thing in every cabinet and off every bookshelf. I am tired of picking up and my back hurts.

Ok, I feel better.

Maybe my next post will be more positive.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

This is my 101st Blog post...Who knew I had so much to say?

Anyway, this past weekend has been good in some ways and bad in other ways. Gene left on Friday to go speak at a D-Now event in Georgia. He loves doing this. God has certainly given him a passion for preaching and he has a gift for getting the message across to young people...actually to young and old alike. Taking these speaking engagements is also a great way for him to make some extra money, but I am left by myself to handle the girls. (Insert frown here)

On Friday, I felt a little sad, knowing that I wouldn't see him for a couple of days. Thankfully, I have no time to sit around and moan and groan about his absence. The entire day is based on Reagan's and Gracen's schedules, and it went by in a blink. I took Reagan to preschool, came home and played with Gracen, and then finally got her down for a nap. Within an hour or so, I had to wake Gracen up (UGH!) and go pick up Reagan. We went to the Movie Gallery to pick out her choice for the weekly Family Movie Night (minus Daddy). We couldn't make up our minds, so we checked out several...Up, Toy Story, and Alvin & the Chipmunks. I figured we had nothing but time, so why not? We came home, ate lunch, and played outside for a little while. I included several pictures at the bottom of this post of our yard time. Gracen took an afternoon nap and then Jacob, my nephew came over to play. Around 4:30, Gran, my niece Abby, and her friend Riley came to join the yard fun. I was glad for the company and all the kids had a really good time.

We went in for supper, which meant messing up the kitchen and cleaning up the kitchen all while watching two kids. Next was bath time, which is a complete chore by myself. I can certainly bathe both girls by myself, but I prefer not too. The hardest part is not the actual bath, but drying them, and dressing them, and drying Reagan's hair, etc. after they get out of the bathtub. Gracen is usually crying because she didn't want to get out of the tub, and Reagan is hollering that she is cold the whole time I am taking care of Gracen. When I finish with Gracen and put her down, she starts crying, for who knows what reason. Give me a break, I mean I am only one person.

By this time, it was 7:00 and Reagan and I haven't even started the movie and quite frankly, at this point, I had lost my enthusiasm for it. But, a promise is a promise, so I started the process of getting Gracen to sleep, which is normally pretty easy, but oh my goodness, the girl completely lost her mind Friday night. As soon as I tried to lay her down, she starting screaming bloody murder. This is highly unusual. Gracen is the kind of baby that you rock for 5 minutes, kiss goodnight, and lay down awake and walk away. I was not prepared for this scene and was too tired to want to deal with it. I rocked her for about 15 minutes and she fell asleep in my arms, but as soon as I stood up, she started screaming again. I put her in her bed and let her cry for 20 minutes, which was excruciating. I went back in and as soon as I picked her up she stopped crying so I knew she wasn't really hurting. I did give her teething tablets and eventually Motrin, just to be sure. This horrible cycle continued until 10:00. Reagan basically watched the movie by herself, Gracen finally gave up the ghost, as did Reagan, and I finally fell asleep not wanting to see either of my girls for a really long time. I am very serious!

On Saturday, Reagan was invited to go to a softball game. She was leaving at 9:00 and would be back around 11:00. This was perfect because this is Gracen's normal nap time. My plan was to take a shower and pick up a little bit while Reagan was gone. Well....Gracen repeated Friday night's performance and would not sleep. UGH! My dream of a nice hot, peaceful shower went out the window. I basically got ready, while listening to screams, and stopping to rock Gracen periodically. I also clearly picked up nothing. Reagan came home and we all ate lunch. Reagan had a birthday party to go to at 2:00, and I decided to go to Belk before the party. I figured Gracen wasn't going to take a nap, and I needed to get out of the house, with or without the girls. We shopped for about an hour and both girls were wonderful....thank you Lord. (I think God knew I might have left one there in the store had they acted up.)

We were at the birthday party from 2:00 until 4:00 and had a great time hanging out with many friends. I love watching Reagan interact with her little buddies and Gracen was very good despite her lack of sleep. When we got home, I tried to coax Gracen into taking an afternoon nap and was met with the same resistance. I cooked spaghetti while listening to an incredibly cranky 4 year old, who was tired from a long day, and a whiny, sleep deprived 10 month old, who was beginning to sound like nails on a chalkboard. We ate, I cleaned the kitchen, bathed the girls, and was determined to get them both to sleep early. Gracen refused to go down and cried from 7:00 until 9:30, with me rocking her throughout. Gene called around 9:00 and I wanted to cuss him out...not that I would. I did sit next to Gracen's monitor though so he could enjoy the crying too.

On Sunday, I was thrilled to go to church and drop those kids off in nursery......Praise the Lord for the church nursery. I had already made up my mind that Gracen could just cry through it if she needed too, and I also decided that if they needed extra help in the nursery, I was "unavailable". Sorry to admit that, but I was done with children by this point.

Gene came home from Georgia just in time for worship and met me in the sanctuary. I got to hear some amazing worship music and an awesome message on trials and storms preached by Bro. Tim. I will have to share some commentary from that sermon tomorrow. My spirit definitely needed both the music and the Word. Gene and I (and the girls) went and ate lunch together and went to Wal-Mart. We told Gene goodbye again in the Wal-Mart parking lot and he headed to Auburn to take the youth to a concert. He will be home around 11:00....meaning none of us will see him before bedtime.

On Monday, he works from 8:00 a.m. until 8:30 p.m., so the girls won't see him tomorrow either. His schedule is unrelenting sometimes. Hopefully, he will be home for dinner on Tuesday night, but at this point, I am scared to hold my breath.

I started this post by saying that the weekend was good and bad. Good because I got to spend a lot of good quality time with my girls. Too much quality time with Gracen actually. Bad because I missed my husband and I am really starting to feel like a single mom, like I am in this daily parenting thing alone and that is certainly not what I signed up for.

On a positive note, check out these precious girls.

Here is Reagan climbing the tree in our front yard. She LOVES this! She is in this tree every single day.
Oh...what a cutie! (Not so cute when she is screaming at the top of her lungs.)

Reagan loves Gracen's toys just as much as Gracen does.
Here is Gracen with her little "Granny walker". She holds onto this thing and gets it! She will bend down to pick something up and holds onto the walker with one hand. She knows she will fall flat on her face if she lets go. Reminds me of an old lady with a walker....hope that is not offensive to anyone.
I love that little tushy!
Here is Reagan helping her walk. She is turning around and swatting her away. Miss independence already.
Here is Reagan on her playground.

We love being outside. You guys will probably be tired of all the outdoor pictures by the time fall comes back around.
*(No children were injured during the course of this weekend....Ha!)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hebrews 12:1-2

I have been reading through the New Testament in the mornings, and I am in the book of Hebrews. I am not really doing an in-depth study, just reading. Sometimes though, I will go and grab my commentary and try to dig a little deeper when a particular verse grabs my attention.

Today is one of those days.

I was struck by Hebrews 12:1-2 which says, "Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a cloud of witnesses, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith......"

The first verse, 12:1, comes right after the famous Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11, where the writer basically gives us a run down of many Old Testament characters who persevered under various trials due to their strong faith in their God. This verse is not saying that all of those who have gone before us are up in heaven looking down on our lives, cheering us on. It means that they continually witness to us by their lives of faith and endurance and have set a high standard for us to duplicate.

That is comforting to me. There are so many days when I question myself, when I don't feel holy, when I don't feel forgiven, when I don't feel loved, when I know in my heart that I could have done so much better or given so much more....

When I look at those Old Testament characters, I am encouraged because they didn't live perfect lives either, and they didn't always get it right. They continued on with the race though, the race that starts at salvation. From the point that I asked Jesus to come into my heart until the day that I meet Him face to face, I am in a "race" that requires discipline and endurance. I have to continually strip away every single thing that weighs me down, things like my own negative thoughts, material possessions, the love of comfort, relationships, etc. These are things that may not be necessarily bad, but they certainly can take my eyes off of Jesus.

The big one is sin. The verse says that it can trip me up or entangle me. I must continually confess the sin that I am convicted of and keep my eyes on Jesus. The commentary said that the word sin could certainly refer to any particular thing, but on the heels of Chapter 11 of Hebrews, the hall of faith, sin here is probably in reference to not living by faith or the sin of unbelief. As a believer, I must have complete trust in the promises of God and complete confidence that the life of faith is sure to win. That takes daily Bible reading and prayer. That is the only way that I am going to keep my eyes on Jesus because every single day there are so many things trying to entangle me and weigh me down.

So today, I persevere, I endure, and I hold on to the one who so lovingly holds on to me. Thank you Lord for loving me, for choosing me, for encouraging me, and for never letting go.

*So Long Insecurity update....I chose not to answer the questions this week because I had a hard time making personal application. The chapters this past week were something about my relationship with men and the tendency to make them gods in my life, viewing them with complete omniscience or complete omnipotence or both, or the tendency to make them the devil in my life. I just didn't connect here, so I am on to the next two chapters.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Spring Shopping

We have had a busy couple of days. Yesterday, I starting the hunt for spring clothes for the girls. All of a sudden the weather is warming up, which is wonderful, but that means that both girls need some clothes. I have been picking up things for Reagan over the last couple of weeks, so she wasn't in total need, but Gracen didn't even have one short sleeve shirt. On Monday, I dropped Reagan off at preschool at 8:20 and Gracen and I headed to Eastchase. I went to Target, Khol's, Old Navy, Vitamin Shoppe, and Lifeway. Gracen was picture perfect. She is an amazing car rider, usually not even making a peep. We were out and about until I had to pick Reagan up at 2:00 and she didn't even whine. She took a nap in Old Navy around 11:00 while riding in her stroller, so I had to kill some time in that store. I ended up staying in there for over an hour. That may explain why I spent the most money in that store. Ha! I bought both girls about 4 outfits, Reagan's Easter dress, and a few things for myself. I really wanted to buy Gracen and Reagan matching dresses for Easter, and I made the mistake of mentioning this to Reagan. She made it very clear that she was not matching Gracen. I asked her why and she said, "Because Gracen is a baby and I am not wearing baby clothes." Point well taken. My dreams of that Easter picture with my girls matching and me and Gene blending perfectly went out the window just like that. They are both wearing pink, so maybe I can find something pink. But, I can assure you that Gene DeVaughn will not wear pink. I will try, but I don't think it is going to happen.

(For those who have daughters, did you always match them for Easter? Just wondering.)

In Lifeway, I bought a movie for Reagan, a cartoon, detailing the Easter story. We are going to watch it tonight as a family and talk about it. I have several Easter books that we are also reading as we get closer and closer to Easter. I purchased the Resurrection Egg set, an interactive retelling of the Easter story. I thought Reagan would like opening all those eggs and guessing what each item represents. We will be doing this over the next two weeks as well.

I made a few more purchases for their Easter baskets too. I love filling up those baskets. Holidays are just fun with kids, aren't they? Expensive, but fun!

Today, I had to go buy groceries, which I usually do on Monday while Reagan is in school. I don't really enjoy taking both girls to the grocery store, but thankfully they were really good. I also still needed to get Reagan some Spring shoes, and she needed to be with me to try them on. You can't wear all those new spring clothes without spring sandals, now can you? I found her Easter shoes and another pair of sandals. I also wanted to get her some little white Keds, but could not find any in Prattville,or at least not in her size.

I don't know about you guys, but spring is my favorite season and it really makes me want to spend money. I mean who doesn't love getting all new spring clothes with matching shoes, jewelry, and purses. There are so many adorable sandals out there that I almost had a heart attack at the Shoe Station Superstore. My goodness. I fell in love with about 5 pairs. I also saw several purses that I liked too. Did I buy any of this? No! Gene would have killed me. Anyway, in the spring there are so many things that I want to get....house plants, new patio cushions, new doormats, new wreaths, new yard toys for the girls, mulch for the flower beds, etc. I will spare you my entire list. Let's just say that I am praying through my discontentment with all things old and dingy from the drab, cold winter.

I am loving this warm weather and it looks like it is going to be pretty and warm all week. I am looking forward to it!

Until next time...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

This past weekend was absolutely beautiful and on top of the wonderful weather, Gene was home Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. It was heavenly. I am already having "Gene withdrawals" just thinking about him going back to work this week. It is going to be a doozy of a week for him too. He has 12 hours days on Monday and Wednesday and heads to Georgia to speak at a D-Now event Friday-Sunday...home for a few hours and then has to go to Auburn Sunday night. That makes me tired just typing all of that. I am sure that I will be exhausted too, not having any help with the girls. Oh well, no need to think about all of that right now.

We took the girls to the zoo on Friday and had the absolutely best time. We stayed close to 4 hours and Gracen was happy and smiling the entire time. Reagan was very well behaved too. Here are a few of our pictures from the day.

This is when we first arrived. We were in the big walk through bird cage and Gracen was stunned at all the birds. She wouldn't look at the camera for anything.

Here is a shot of Gracen smiling. I think this is the only picture that I got a smile.

Here is Reagan playing on the playground. I know it is crooked, but I couldn't get it to turn for me...sorry about that! Another playground shot. Reagan was talking this little boy's head off. I know he was thinking, "Girl, take a breath." (Not that I ever think that)
Here are a few shots of us on the train. I didn't know how Gracen would do, but she loved it and I thought she was going to cry when the train stopped. Here is a shot with Gene and the girls on the train.

And here are their profiles as we chugged along. So pretty!

Resting at the picnic tables....of course, Gracen is trying to crawl off the table. She just will not be still these days.
We really had a wonderful time. On the way home, we decided to go to the Movie Gallery and let Reagan pick out some movies for another family movie night. She picked out one we had never heard of, but it turned out to be pretty decent. We also stopped and got greasy hamburgers and fries from Dusty's Diner, our local greasy spoon. We got the air mattress back out and sprawled out together for the rest of the night. You know the popcorn and drinks came back out too.
Both girls were asleep by 7:30, so Gene and I stayed on the air mattress and watched the movie 2012. That movie really makes you think about the end of the world as we know it. As a believer, I cannot say that I am really concerned about the end times. I know my salvation is secure, but it did make me want to go pray and confess every sin I could think of just to be sure...ya know what I mean.
On Saturday, we literally did nothing but hang out in our yard. We rode around on the golf-cart, played on the swing set, jumped on the trampoline, did a little yard work in between nap times, etc. You get the idea. Around 4:00, Gene and I decided to cook out so I went and bought some NY strips, baked potatoes, salad, and bread. It was so good.
On Sunday, we had a full day at church....morning and night.
Well, that is about it for the weekend wrap-up. I will be gone all day on Monday, so I will try to post again on Tuesday.
Until then...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quick Hello/Cleaning Schedule

I don't have much to really talk about today. Nothing with any spiritual depth for sure. I am loving this Spring Break schedule with no where to be first thing in the morning and lazy days. Gene was home all day yesterday and he gave me a lot of free time. Jacob and Abby were here again playing with Reagan, and they were all outside for a good portion of the day. If Gracen was awake, she was outside with Daddy as well. I cleaned and got caught up on the laundry. I painted my nails and toenails and read my Beth Moore book, with my Bible of course. I went and had my hair colored and cut so I was away from the house, by myself, from 3:00 to 5:00...Nice! When I got back home, I had dinner ready in the crock pot, so the evening went smoothly as well. Both girls were asleep by 7:45 and Gene and I enjoyed a quiet night together. We watched the American Idol episodes from this week because we were unable to watch them on Tuesday and Wednesday night.

If you watch American Idol, I am wondering what you think about it this season? To me, there is no one "stand out" who I am routing for. During all the auditions, I thought the talent was amazing, but so far I have been a little disappointed. I also do not like Ellen. She has no musical talent and has nothing really constructive to say. Other than making an occasional joke, I don't understand her purpose for being there. I really like the judge Kara and I miss Paula, but oh well!

I have been working on my cleaning schedule and have been following a very rough schedule for the past week and a half. I am tweaking it daily and adding things as I think about them, but so far, here is the simple version.

Monday- Make grocery list and menu for the week....gather coupons
Errand Day/Grocery shopping Day (Reagan is in preschool until 2:00)
*Clean something out....this past Monday, I cleaned out our junk drawer in the kitchen

Tuesday- Laundry Day
Clean the den, dining room, and foyer

Wednesday- Clean the kitchen and pantry -more than basic clean-up from the daily meals
*Water plants

Thursday- Clean up Gracen's room, Reagan's room, and their bathroom
*Laundry Day

Friday- Clean Master bedroom, bathroom, and closet

Saturday- Family Day/Catch Up Day
Pay Bills, Balance Checkbook

This schedule has already helped me. I don't feel overwhelmed each day, looking at the whole house and feeling like a failure because I cannot get it all done. So far I have been able to do each day's task, and I feel like I have accomplished something. I am going to try it for a few weeks and make changes as necessary. I am thinking I might need another laundry day, but we'll see.

Well, we are headed to the zoo in just a bit. Hopefully, I will get some cute pictures of Gracen's first zoo trip. I will try to post them tomorrow.

Until then....

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spring Break

Reagan has really been looking forward to Spring Break. It has been a little depressing that the weather has not been better because we are all ready to get out of the house. I love sprucing up the yard...replacing the mulch, hanging and planting new plants, updating the wreaths and rugs, etc. Reagan loves to be outside with us as we work in the yard and we haven't been able to do any of that yet. So, for this week of Spring Break we have had to find some fun things to do inside. On Monday night we had a family movie night. Reagan LOVES this. We got out our Queen sized air mattress, popped popcorn, opened cans of Sprite (a treat for Reagan because she doesn't drink carbonated soft-drinks), and settled in to watch a new movie that we bought her for the occasion. We had to wait until Gene got home because Monday is one of his late nights and this also gave me time to get Gracen to sleep, because who can enjoy a movie night with 10 month old crawling everywhere....not me! Reagan was in hog heaven. (weird saying really because nothing about hogs is heavenly) We were up until about 10:30, which is very late for a 4 year old, and I could have easily gone to sleep at 8:00 when I laid Gracen down, but I know that we are making memories.

Reagan has also been asking to have a slumber party with one of her little girlfriends. I don't think she is old enough for this yet, so my solution was to invite her cousin Abby to come and spend the night. Reagan thinks that her cousins Abby and Ariel hung the moon. They are both much older and Reagan looks up to them and wants to do everything they do. Here is Abby with us on Tuesday night.

Reagan and Abby had a wonderful time. They played dress-up and played all kind of games. They danced to music in Reagan's room with her CD player up as loud as it would go. They ate Pizza Hut pizza. They took a bath in my tub and had a tea party in there. Abby also taught her how to hold her breath under the bath water and how to make crazy hair do's with the lather from the shampoo. They had their own movie night, again on the air mattress, complete with popcorn and drinks. We were up again until about 10:30. UGH!

Here there are on the air mattress in their pajamas ready for the movie.

Gracen watched a little bit of the movie as well.
All was well until Abby woke up around 2:00 with a stomach ache. She said she felt like she was going to throw up. That is not good. I don't do well with throw up, but I tried to comfort her the best I could. I laid with her for over an hour in our den. She started asking to call Gran (Gene's mother, who lives right behind our house). I debated on this for about 30 minutes because I truly hated to wake her up. I started to think that maybe Abby was just a little scared and uncomfortable sleeping in a new place and she didn't seem even close to going back to sleep. So, I caved and called Gran and at 3:30 I was in the car driving Ab to her house. Turns out she did have an upset stomach and just needed to use the bathroom and wouldn't do it at our house. All was well after that. Everyone, in both houses, went back to sleep and thankfully all children slept until after 8:00. I did too.

On Wednesday, Gran and I took Reagan, Gracen, Abby and Jacob (Abby's brother) to Pump It Up in Montgomery. They had a blast. Here are a few pictures. It was very difficult to get good pictures of them together because they simply would not be still.
Here is Reagan coming down the big slide.
Here is the only shot of the 3 older kids together.
Here is one of Jacob and Reagan playing and of course, Reagan turned her head right when I snapped the picture.
Here is Jacob with Gracen. He is was so sweet with her. Every few minutes he would come up to her and rub her head or straighten her hair bow. Too cute!

Here is Gran (Gene's mom) with my girls. This is the best picture. Gracen would not look at the camera and Reagan wasn't exactly cooperating with the camera either.

And here is Abby and Gracen. Gracen just loves her. Again, Gracen would not smile at the camera.
We really had a fun day.
I was so tired when we got home at 3:30. I was just ready to lay down because two nights in a row of little sleep catches up with me quickly at 36 years old. No rest for the weary though. We had church and got back in the car at 4:40 for dinner, followed by worship.
Once we got back home, we all went to sleep by 9:00 and we slept until about 7:30. Now that is a good night's sleep.

*In my study of So Long Insecurity, this week's assignment was to read Chapter 9 out loud. It was a collection of prayers. There were no questions to answer and nothing to share publicly. I was suppose to just find time alone with God to cry out to Him about my issues, which I did. The time was sweet.
*I did go to the orthodontist on Tuesday. I have problems...no easy fix. My top and bottom teeth are misaligned so I will need braces on the top and the bottom for at least 2 years. I have a cross-bite and too many teeth, so 4 would need to be pulled before braces. All of this would cost around $6,000, with $2,000 down to get started.....clearly not in the budget of a one-income family. At least not today. I am going to check with cosmetic dentist and just see. Not anticipating an easy or cheap fix there either. The good news is that the orthodontist said that he didn't think my teeth would continue to get worse....just stay the same. I have to look for the positive somewhere.
Oh well. I guess my security is not suppose to come from beautiful teeth.
Gene is off today, tomorrow, and Saturday....Yeah. We are hanging out around the house today and we are going to the zoo tomorrow. Should be fun! Maybe Gene and I can even work in a date night. It has been 2 weeks, so it is time. We'll see.
Until tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Happy Birthday Dad!

Today, I wanted to wish a very Happy Birthday to my daddy! I had hoped to post this early this morning, but the girls had other plans for me. Anyway, Happy 65 Daddy. I sure do love you.

I am a Daddy's girl. I always have been and I guess I always will be. I look like him and I always took great pride in that. Through the years, random people would come up to me and say, "You must be Mickey Dean's daughter." I would always smile and say yes. This happened almost everywhere I went...Quail Walk Country Club, the Wetumpka Ball Park, at my dad's clothing store, at the grocery store, etc. I am 36 years old and it still happens. Not as often anymore, but it happens. I am also the only daughter with his crooked pinky fingers. I always liked that...and I passed that on to my daughter. I looked at her pinky fingers as soon as I held Gracen for the first time. One pinky finger is crooked, like mine, and one is straight like Gene's.

They say that a girl's relationship with her dad lays the groundwork for her future relationship with her husband and with God. That is so true! Today, I can definitely see that and I am thankful for the strong foundation that I was given.

I certainly had a blessed childhood. I had (and still have) a father who loved me unconditionally and made me feel special. My dad showed love through quality and quantity time. He was very present in my life, never putting work or anything else ahead of the family. He always played with me and my sisters, giving us time and attention. I can remember endless hours outside playing softball and being coached by my dad on multiply softball teams and later being cheered on as I played for my Jr. High and High school team. I can remember having a great time just playing in the yard, helping out in the huge garden, riding 4-wheelers, going with him to play golf and being ecstatic when he let me drive the golf cart, playing tennis at the country club, swimming in our pool, long walks up and down Nolen Lane, talks on the back porch swing, beach trips, Fourth of July cook-outs and fireworks, wonderful Christmas Eve's and Christmas mornings, etc. etc. etc. I could literally go on and on....and yes, my mom was just as instrumental in these important memories.

My dad showed me love by his humor, displaying a fun personality and silliness. All my friends loved him because he was just fun to be with. He made us all laugh with his quick wit and one liners. That sense of humor certainly embarrassed me too many times to count, but I wouldn't have had it any other way.

My dad was always full of encouragement. I was built up with many "That a girl" and "You can do it". He told me that I could do it and most of the time I believed him. He was always full of instruction as well. He listened and gave great advice. I still call him today when I have a question or I am just not sure what to do. He is the first one I call if we are trying to make a financial decision because he has a great head for business and I know he will not lead me astray. Today, I still listen to his advice on any subject and I honestly want to please him and my mom. It hurts me to know I have hurt them. How do you raise kids to think that way? I would like to know.

My dad was a great provider. I know my parents went through some real financial hardships because his clothing store basically went bankrupt when the big stores like TG&Y and then Wal-Mart came to Wetumpka. Despite the money troubles they must have had, I never knew it. I can remember always feeling blessed, always having my needs met. I remember wonderful Christmas mornings, getting things like a nice stereo system for my room, a 4-wheeler (a dream gift), and my own car. I had a gas card, even when I moved out during my college years...one of many ways Dad was always with me, providing for me. My parents provided everything I needed through the years, all the way through college and to my beautiful wedding day. Now I realize how they must have struggled, but that endless provision was one of the ways I was loved.

My dad showed loved by setting clear boundaries. I had a curfew and I knew not to break it. I knew the look that meant, "That is enough." I was taught to respect and obey...things very important in life, not only with other people but also in my relationship with my heavenly Father.

My dad showed love by the all important physical affirmation that comes through hugs and pats on the back. As I said before I felt loved and I felt respected. I knew how a man was suppose to treat a lady by how my dad treated my mom and how he treated us...his daughters. I expected to be treated the same way by the guys I dated and by the one I eventually married.

Trust is easy today. I trust Gene and I trust the love of my heavenly Father because I so easily trust my Daddy, the first man in my life. He modeled pure love for me and for that I am grateful.

Daddy, I am so thankful for you. I hope you had a wonderful birthday and have many, many more to come. I love you to the moon and back. (And Mom too)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

We had a busy weekend, which is pretty normal for us, but certainly a nice weekend overall.

On Friday night, Gene had a steak dinner/game night planned for our college students in the youth building of our church. He wanted me and the girls to come over. Because steak was involved he did not have to twist my arm or anything. The only negative was that it didn't start until 7:00 and Gracen and Reagan are usually asleep by 8:00. Reagan was excited about going to hang out with the college students. Gracen didn't share her enthusiasm, and wasn't happy about getting in the car that late at night. She was fine once she saw her Daddy though! We all had a great time and the food was yummy....steak right off the grill, baked potatoes, yeast rolls, and dessert. I brought Gracen home around 9:00 and Reagan came home with Gene around 10:00. I was hoping that both girls would sleep late the next morning. No such luck! They both have an internal clock that goes off by 7:00 a.m. Oh, the inhumanity!

On Saturday, we had a wedding to go to at 2:30. It was a sweet ceremony and the couple looked very much in love. Brings back sweet memories of our own wedding ceremony. I still love Gene like crazy and marrying him is the best thing I ever did. This couple shared an intimate moment of sharing in the Lord's supper together and the groom, a youth minister, said a prayer over his new bride. Deep symbolism there about the importance of the marriage covenant. It brought me to tears.

After the wedding we had to go to my parent's house for my Dad's birthday dinner. He will be 65 on March 16th. Goodness Dad! That number is so hard to believe. Of course, it is equally hard to believe that I will be 37 in just a few short weeks. Where does the time go? As I have said before, I love hanging out with my family. We had a great time talking and watching the babies play and watching Reagan interact with the babies. Hayden, my sister's baby, is 3 weeks younger than Gracen and she was hamming it up. She made us all laugh with this new face she was making. You can wrinkle your nose at her and she will do it right back. Too cute! Reagan got a real kick out of that. Hayden is also just about ready to walk, unusual for a 9 month old. She is already taking steps by herself and will walk all over the place holding onto to someone with one hand. Gracen is not doing that, of course Gracen has a little more body weight to carry around. She is not quite as light on her toes as Miss Hayden. I hate that I didn't bring my camera because all the kids were so cute together. My older sister was with her family in Disney World and we missed them. I know they were having a great time as well. They live out of town and cannot make it to many family events and we always feel their absence. I sure wish they lived closer. I know my parents do too.
*Check back tomorrow for a birthday shout-out to my Dad.)

On Sunday, we got up bright and early, having lost an hour of sleep due to the
time change. Losing an hour of sleep is never good with a baby in the house. I was tired when I got up and both girls were tired when I woke them up. It was really hard to get them moving and out the door. Thankfully, all four of us took a long nap on Sunday afternoon. I enjoyed both worship services, but the attendance was really low...depressingly low. Hopefully, things will pick back up after Spring Break.

Oh, I didn't even mention that this week is Spring Break. Yeah!!!! That means a low key week for us. I don't have to take Reagan to school, so we don't have to be dressed and ready to leave the house by 8:00 a.m. That is a really good thing. I am an early morning person, but I prefer to stay in my pajamas until about 9:00...maybe even 10:00. Reagan does too! I am looking forward to a great week with her. We are going to Pump It Up one morning and we are planning on going to the zoo towards the end of the week, if the weather cooperates. Gene will be off on Thursday and Friday this week, so I am looking forward to that as well.

Remember, I go to the orthodontist on Tuesday. I am anxious to hear what they say. My mom thinks that my top teeth are too crowded, which means I might have to have a tooth or two pulled. That doesn't sound fun. Hopefully, that will not be the case. I would like to keep all of my teeth, if you know what I mean! I don't want the solution to fix my crooked teeth to be painful.

I want to leave you with some beautiful verses from Isaiah 43. I was drawn to these verses on Friday, and I have read them over and over throughout the weekend, and again this morning. These words talk about God's tender love for His chosen people. Because I belong to God, I have nothing to fear. He created me, formed me, redeemed me, called me by name, and ransomed me. He will always be with me, in the good times and in troubling times. Nothing brings more peace to my soul.

Isaiah 43:1-4
1 But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you. O Israel, the one who formed you says, “Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
2 When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
3 For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom; I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
4 Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you."

I pray those precious words minister to your soul today, like they have for me over the last couple of days. I encourage you to get out your Bible and read the whole chapter. It is worth your time.

Until tomorrow.....

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weary....And An Interesting Conversation

It is about 6:15 in the morning as I begin this blog. I really wanted to sleep in today, but something in my spirit was telling me to get on up. I know that was God, inviting me to come and sit at His feet a little bit. I love the house in the early morning hours. It is so quiet and calm. Both girls are always awake by 7:00, so if I want to start my day with some Bible reading and prayer, then I have to get on up.

As I opened my Bible, Matthew 11:28 came to my mind..."Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." You know I am weary Lord. But, I am weary in a good way. My girls require my attention from the moment they get up to the moment they go to sleep at night. They are certainly not a burden, in the negative sense of the word, but definitely a huge responsibility. Being a parent to little ones is the hardest thing that I have done in my life so far. I cannot do it without God, and I won't attempt to do it without God. When I get frustrated, I pray. When I get lonely, due to Gene's schedule, I pray. When I get stressed and overwhelmed, I pray. When I think that I cannot do this another day, I pray. When I get sad, I pray. When my heart is so full with love that is could burst open, I pray. God is so faithful, isn't He? When I seek Him, regardless of how I am feeling, He gives me exactly what I need. I want to encourage you this morning to do the same thing. Where ever you are in life, whatever is on your plate, take it to God in prayer. Open your Bible and let him speak to your soul. His Words are always refreshing. Matthew 11:29 promises that when we go to Jesus, we will find rest for our souls. I am so thankful for that promise! Even this morning I feel rest in my weariness.

Changing subjects...
Yesterday, I received a package in the mail. I ordered the girls matching Easter baskets. I can hardly wait to see them swing these basket around as they hunt for Easter eggs. Yes, I know I'll have to wait a year or two before Gracen will join Reagan, but I am eagerly looking to the future. I just love celebrating the holidays with them and getting them matching things. Are these baskets cute or what? I bought them at personalcreations.com and even better, I had a 25% off coupon. I love coupons.

And speaking of weary, this is what my den looked like about 15 seconds after opening the box. As soon as I lifted the baskets out, Reagan starting throwing these lovely "peanuts" in the air, singing, "It's raining, it's pouring, the old man is snoring." I didn't want to stifle her joy so I just let her play with them for a little bit.
Here she is making a pile. As soon as she made a pile, she would throw it into the air. Gracen was giggling out loud. And yes, I stayed very close and no, Gracen didn't put any in her mouth.
And, here is Reagan vacuuming the floor. My philosophy is, you make the mess, you clean it up. I helped her with the big pieces, using a broom and a dust pan. But, there were still little pieces scattered about, so we had to pull out the vacuum. Reagan loves to vacuum, so she had a fun afternoon.
Interesting tidbit of information....on the way to church yesterday, Reagan said this...
"Mommy, I want a brother."
Me: "You do! Why do you want a brother?"
Reagan: "Because Daddy is outnumbered and I don't have a brother. I want one."
Me: "Daddy doesn't feel outnumbered. He loves his girls."
Reagan: "I want a brother."
Me: "Mommy and Daddy aren't planning on having any more babies."
Reagan: "Well, God just put Gracen in your tummy, didn't He?"
Me: "Yes, He did."
Reagan: "Well, maybe he will put a brother in there."
Me: "Reagan, I don't think we are going to have another baby."
Reagan: "If God puts it in there, will you keep it?"
Me: "Well, of course we will keep it."
Reagan: "Well, I am going to pray that he puts one in there." (GULP!)
Another verse came to my mind....something about having childlike faith.....oh, dear!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Doing Things Better

I have been thinking a lot about how to do things better around here. I want to be more productive with my time, grow in my relationship with my Savior, get things done around the house, spend time with those I love, and enjoy each and every day. No small order, I can tell you that.

I know that my relationship with God and my family has to come first....before any household task. Speaking of my family, I have been overwhelmed with the love I feel for my girls and my husband the last couple of days. I don't know why really. Maybe because we had such a good weekend together, maybe because the weather has been nice and I have been outdoors just enjoying my girls and not stressing out about the house and all the things that have to be done, or maybe God has pricked my heart to remember all the blessings in front of me. I don't know.

Yesterday we stayed home all day long and I was intentional about the time I spent with Reagan. We played games and read books and talked and talked and talked. Goodness, that girl can talk. My mind kept going to the near future where the last thing she will want to do is talk to me. I went through that stage with my own mother, as most girls do. Thankfully, that stage has long since passed and we talk almost every day. Maybe I'll skip that ugly stage with my girls. I can hope, right?

Gene came home early yesterday afternoon, which gave us another long night together. It was so nice. Gracen was in a cuddling mood and stayed in my lap last night. She would certainly play, but shortly come back and crawl in my lap, like she just needed a hug from momma. Oh, my heart could have just burst wide open. Even this morning, my eyes filled with tears as I was rocking her and singing her to sleep. Time goes by in a blink. I know the days that I have left to rock her and love on her are numbered. It seems like just yesterday that I was rocking Reagan to sleep, but yet it was years ago. Precious, precious times.

I wish I could just spend each day with them and not focus on anything else, but we all know that is not reality. Looking around my house, you can tell that I have spent a lot of time doing things with the family and not cleaning, etc. So back to my thought that I really want to be productive with my days. I want to get things done AND spend time with those I love. So, I am trying to come up with some kind of system or schedule to follow to keep up with everything that needs to be done around here. We have talked about this is our momMEtime meetings at church, but I still haven't started a "system" that really works for me yet. So, that is the goal for the week...to come up with my own personal cleaning schedule. One that is doable, but yet still gives me ample time with my family. I am thinking about dividing the rooms of my house into days of the week, so each room will get hit once a week. Or maybe I could divide certain tasks by days of the week....like floors on Monday, dusting on Tuesday, etc. I am not sure yet. I just know that I need a little system in place because it is overwhelming to think about doing the whole house in one day. Scratch that. There is no way I can do my whole house in one day. My girls won't allow it.

Are there any stay home moms out there who want to share your system of getting things done around the house and spending one on one time with your children? I am all ears. Leave a suggestion in the comment section...please.

The next area I am thinking about tackling is couponing....doing a better job at saving money at the grocery store. I don't mean just cutting out a few coupons out of the Sunday paper, but matching up the weekly grocery store sales with the online coupons and the Sunday paper coupons with my weekly menu. I have been looking at many coupon sites on the web and this is very time consuming. I honestly want to do better with the monthly budget, but this is another area that takes me away from my kids. I could easily spend hours on the computer looking for coupons. Of course, I am learning, so I know this would get much faster the more I did it. I guess this activity would have to be on the weekly rotation like any other chore.

If you have any links or suggestions on how to effectively use coupons, let me know.

Well, that is what is on my mind today. That's enough, isn't it?

Proverbs 31:27 "She carefully watches everything in her household, and suffers nothing from laziness." (New Living Translation)

Until next time...

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

So Long Insecurity- Chapter 7 & 8

I am plowing forward on this journey with Beth Moore to restore my God given security. Thankfully these two chapters are the end of focusing on the problem. Chapter 9 starts to look at the solution. I am glad because I am tired of poking around in my negative self consciousness.

Chapter 7 is a collection of responses from women across the country, sharing examples of specific things and experiences that have made them feel insecure. In my journaling, I am suppose to pick the one that hit home with me the most. I could certainly relate to a lot of the stories because so many were experiences common among women in general, but one stuck out more than the others. This one goes back to self image, which I have already discussed, so I am not going to beat a dead horse here.

Briefly, a lady wrote in about her teeth. She grew up with "buck teeth" because she had more teeth than she had room in her mouth. She couldn't even close her mouth. She was dramatized growing up by other children who made fun of her. Even as an adolescent, she had many people tell her she would be so pretty if she would only get her teeth fixed. No one wants to hear that... that you would be pretty if only.... That is just cruel. My situation is my no means as severe as hers, but I could relate in many ways. I didn't have crooked teeth growing up. This has happened in the last ten years, so I wasn't scarred as this sweet lady was. But she did make a comment that struck a cord with me. She said that she overcompensated in other areas, trying to take the focus off of her teeth. She wouldn't leave the house without perfect hair, perfect make-up, perfect clothes. Now, let me stress that "perfect" is a complete stretch for me, but my insecurity keeps me from leaving my house without make-up on and my hair washed, dried, and fixed. I won't even run up to our local gas station to buy milk without getting ready first. When I go to have my hair cut and colored, I shower and fix my hair. Crazy now that I think about it. That is like cleaning your own house before the maid comes. My mother-in-law says that I am vain. Not in a snobby way, but just that I care too much. Of course, she will leave her house looking any old way, so I consider the source with that comment. She is right to a degree, but I don't want to totally go her way either. We need to meet in the middle somewhere, if you know what I mean.

Maybe this behavior is related to my teeth. They make me feel insecure, so I have to fix the areas that I can control, like my hair and my make-up, before I leave my house. I am still chewing on this thought, which I guess is the purpose of this book.

On a side note, I finally made an appointment with an orthodontist. I am suppose to go Tuesday, March 16th and at least get a free consultation of what would be involved to straighten my two front teeth. Of course, I received a letter yesterday stating that the first step would cost $250.00. I just about choked on the grape I was eating. So we will see. I probably won't follow through with this at this time. I may need to wait until both of my girls are in school and I can do some part time work during the day to help cover the cost. Hopefully, I just need to wear a retainer, and it won't be that expensive. I know, I know....wishful thinking. I'll let you know next week.

The second question that I am suppose to respond to this week was this... What are my top 3 reasons as to why it is time to deal with my insecurity? That is easy to answer. My journaling for each was long, but I'll give you the short version of each answer.

1. My insecurity keeps me from fully enjoying life.

2. My insecurity holds me back and makes me self-conscious in ministry. (Standing in front of others highlights any insecurity.)

3. My insecurity needs to be dealt with because it could easily be passed on to my two girls. I want them to grow up secure in who they are. I want them to know that they were created for a purpose and that God loves them with an everlasting love. God created them just as He wanted and to me they are perfect. It is certainly hard growing up as a female. I want them to be more secure than I ever was.

Lord willing, they will be!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up

We had such a nice weekend together as a family. I wish all weekends could be so sweet. Gene was home on Friday night, all day Saturday, and Saturday night. This is a rare occurrence for us. Reagan kept asking me when he was leaving and going back to church. Isn't that sad? I guess when your Daddy is only home 3 nights out of 7 and most weekends are jam packed, that is what you get used to. On top of Gene being home with us, the weather was really nice. The sun was shining and the temperature was in the low 60's. I would have liked it to be about 10 degrees warmer, but it was still really nice outside. We were going to the zoo on Saturday, but we changed our minds because it was a little breezy. Since a good portion of the zoo is shaded and Gracen had a little runny nose, we decided to wait until the next warm day. Gene really wanted to cut the grass and clean up a bit outside anyway. So that worked out for the best. Gene and I both played with the girls off and on and then when it was time for Gracen's nap, Gene and Reagan cut the grass. Reagan loves to ride the lawn mower, and I loved sitting in the sun reading a book.

Here a few shots of the girls playing outside.

Here they are on the swing set. Gracen wasn't really swinging yet. I was trying to let her get used to the seat.

She got used to the movement pretty quickly and loved swinging. The girls stayed right here for 30 to 45 minutes. That is a long time for 2 little ones that have the attention span of an ant.

Couldn't you just pinch those cheeks?

We have two Bradford pear trees in our front yard and Reagan loves them. The low branches are just her height, and she really likes to climb them and pull the blooms off of them. When they are in full bloom, she likes to sit in their shade and read a book or something.
My little monkey.
Here is Gracen just chilling out in the yard. She loved all the leaves. And here she is getting a real close look at some flowers. She almost buried her face in them. Good thing there were no bees in there flying around.
And here are the three of us just taking it easy.

We cooked out hotdogs and just tried to soak up all the sunshine that we could. It was so nice. I know the cold weather is coming back, but the weekend just made me itch for spring.
We also had a really great day at church on Sunday. Thankfully both of my children were well enough to go to church and I was able to be in both the morning and the evening service. The worship was awesome and the preaching was great as well. Of course, I am a little biased because Gene preached Sunday morning. Bro. Glenn was out of town, so Gene preached the morning service and Bro. Bryan preached the evening service. The "B" team did a pretty good job.
Gene preached on the life of Moses from a new series he just completed called "Excuse Me God"
...will your life be an example or an excuse? Basically, Gene went through 5 excuses that we typically give God when He calls us to do something.
1. But God, my past makes me unworthy...
2. But God, my personality makes me incapable...
3. But God, I have too many potential questions about the outcome...
4. But God, I am not persuasive enough to be used for your glory...
5. But God, my problems will weigh me down....
All five of these excuses can be seen in the life of Moses. (Exodus 2-6) There is certainly too much for me to post on my blog, so maybe you can go and read it for yourself looking for examples of the 5 excuses listed above.
This was a timely message for me and a few points really stuck out.
  • Excuses are an insult to God's sovereignty.
  • Patience is just as important as passion for God. Wait on Him.
  • God will unfold His plan for my life one day at a time as I obey Him in all things.
  • God confirms that He is with me all along the way. I have to open my eyes and look for Him.
  • God is not limited by my limitations. (Thank the Lord!)

Bro. Bryan walked through Psalm 116 verse by verse and I was greatly reminded that God is a loving and attentive God. He hears every prayer that I lift up to Him and knows every hurt that I endure. He wants me to continually cry out to Him and continue to praise His name, regardless of what is going on in my life.

Good stuff. I have a lot to think on and pray on this week for sure.

Friday, March 5, 2010

So Long Insecurity- Chapter 6

I always hate when I cannot write a blog entry every day. Life gets busy sometimes and Gracen doesn't nap. Put those two things together and that spells no free time on the computer for me.

In Chapter 6 of my study, Beth gives the 7th root of insecurity...Culture. This is a big one for me. It goes back to my issues with weight and body image. Beth points out that all the other roots of insecurity mentioned in my previous post could have easily plagued our great, great, great grandmothers, but culture is new to our generation. Today, we get the "pleasure" of comparing ourselves to thousands of women...on the cover of magazines, on our huge HD television sets, on the Internet, in the workforce, at school functions, at our children's sporting events, in the pediatrician's office, in the car pick-up line at school, etc. To put it mildly, women are one another's worst enemy. We pick each other apart and for what reason?

I can give you an example of this from last week. Gracen had her well visit at the pediatrician's office. We had to leave the house at 8:00 to make the early morning appointment, not smart scheduling on my part. It was cold outside and I told Gene that I was just going to take Gracen to the doctor in her footy pajamas. He looked at me as if to say, "OK...what's the big deal?" The more I thought about it though, I just couldn't do it. As it got closer and closer to the time that I would need to leave the house, what she was wearing bothered me more and more. I started thinking about all the other moms in that large waiting room. Every time I go to the office, all the little girls are wearing adorable little outfits, with matching bows in their hair, and monogrammed diaper bags. I caved to the pressure and went to Gracen's room and dressed her in little brown corduroy pants with precious little ruffles on the bottom, a pink shirt, and a white sweater with pink and brown polka dots, with a matching bow of course. Gene just laughed when I came out of her room. He said, "You just couldn't do it, could you?" I certainly wasn't dressing her for the doctor because I have to strip Gracen down to her diaper as soon as we get there. Plain and simple, I dressed Gracen because of other women, women that I probably wouldn't see again in my lifetime.

If I lived a century ago, this pressure would be gone.

I was talking to Gene about this during the week, and I told him that I would have enjoyed living in Laura Ingalls's day. He was surprised by this, reminding me of all the modern conveniences that I enjoy today. I told him I wouldn't miss the washing machine because I wouldn't have known any better. Wouldn't it be nice to live in slower times, with just your family? I can imagine just the four of us enjoying the rolling countryside with my extended family a few miles to the east and Gene's extended family a few miles to the west and the local town 5 miles away. We might load up in the covered wagon every couple of weeks and make a trip to town or visit family. Gene would be captured by my beauty because I would be the only woman around for miles. Sounds nice to me. As I was talking about this, Gene quickly commented that I would be comparing my petticoats to those of Mrs. Olsen when we headed into town. I guess he is right. Security has to come within ourselves.

Speaking of insecurity, last Saturday afternoon I was tired because I was up until midnight with the college girls the night before. I tried to take a nap while Reagan and Gracen were asleep, but I was restless. I ended up mindlessly flipping the channels and I came across an episode of the Housewives of Orange County. This is not a show I watch anymore and I haven't seen an episode in a long time, but after reading Beth's chapter on insecurity and our culture, I was drawn to the episode.

This show is incredibly popular, either because of all the drama or because so many women covet what they have. Yes, they have an incredible amount of money but these ladies are prime examples that money and looks clearly do not add up to "Security". These housewives are together all the time, but I don't think they can stand each other. They are always talking about each other, trying to one up each other, comparing themselves to each other, and hurting one another. With friends like that who needs enemies, right? Each of these women are beautiful from head to toe, but they are not comfortable in their own skin. They aren't even in their own skin due to the numerous plastic surgies that they have endured, not to mention the constant "procedures" that they have done, like Botox, to keep themselves presentable. Don't you know that gets exhausting. Their marriages are falling apart or already have fallen apart. Tamra is miserable and is getting ready to divorce her husband. Lynn separated from her husband because he was lying to her about the money and their house went into forclosure. She confessed that they have always lived above their means....the American way, right? Vicky's marriage has been a mess. Jeana is already divorced. Gretchen bounces around from rich guy to rich guy. You get the idea. That doesn't sound like happiness to me.

Insecurity affects all of us, whether you are a plain ordinary mom like me, a corporate woman on Wall Street, or a millionaire in Orange County.

Beth gave a few tools to help me overcome my feelings of self-loathing.
1. Recognize when we're overloading ourselves on media hype and back off when we sense it tripping our insecurity switch. (ex. shows like Housewives of Orange County...If that show makes you desperately desire material things and looking at those women makes you feel ugly, then stop watching it.)
2. We need to expose ourselves to materials that edifies the human soul rather than erodes it. (ex. the Bible)
3. We need to start looking for ways that we set ourselves up for failure. (ex. If you despise your "chest" size, you may not want to have lunch at Hooters....not that I recommend that location anyway. And if their is a person in your life that constantly makes you feel bad about yourself, don't hang out with them.)
*bold print taken from Beth's book

I have got to understand that God loves me with a everlasting love. He created me just as He wanted me to be. I am His masterpiece...an original in His eyes. I am worthy just as I am.

I can type those words, but I need to say them until they become a very real part of who I am.

Psalm 139:13-17 "You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother's womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex. Your workmanship is marvelous-how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered."

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

So Long Insecurity-Chapter 5

In Chapter 5, Beth identifies 6 roots of insecurity. If you are insecure, then it has a root, a starting point, right? Sounds easy enough! If you have ever completed a Beth Moore study, can't you just hear her say, "Identify what that "thang" is and yank it up, beloved." She definitely has a southern twang to her voice, and in true Beth fashion, you have to add a "Beloved" in there somewhere.

The first 6 roots are instability in the home, significant loss, rejection, dramatic change, personal limitations, and personal disposition. As I was reading this chapter, I was starting to think that I was just a crazy person, because none of these roots really apply to me. I am insecure. I know that much. But, where did it come from? As a child there was no instability in my home. I have wonderful parents who loved me completely, as a child and today. I have two sisters I love very much and our relationships have always been positive...no big fights, etc. I have wonderful memories that include my immediate family and my extended family. So this one is not my issue.

I have never experienced a significant loss or at least one that rocked me to the core, like the death of one of my parents, or an immediate family member. I have certainly lost loved ones like my grandfathers and one grandmother, but maybe because they were older and to a degree, the deaths were expected due to illness, I was able to grieve and move on.

I have never experienced a rejection of epic proportions. Sure I had some rejections with boys in Jr. High and High school, and I shared how not making the cheer leading squad hurt, but, I feel like I recovered from those type of rejections. They were just a part of growing up. There was no favoritism in my home, so I wasn't rejected by a parent. I have never been fired from a job or dumped at the altar, or abandoned by a spouse.

I cannot say that I have ever suffered a dramatic change. Our family never made a major move when I was growing up, or anything similar that greatly changed life as I knew it.

I do not have a personal limitation such as a physical disability or abnormality that makes me feel particularly different from anyone else.

I will say that as I was reading about all of these, I could easily see how important a healthy childhood and adolescence is in laying the foundation of who we become. That is a huge pill to swallow as a mom. In all of my years of working with teenagers and now college students through Gene's ministry, I can clearly see the effects of things that happen in childhood. When we counsel young people, many times they mention things like being abused, watching their parents divorce and feeling responsible, losing a parent due to death, feeling inferior to a sibling who is smarter, prettier, or maybe the favorite, suffering a financial loss, dealing with a parent who has a chronic illness, addiction, or mental illness. Children don't come out of these situations unscathed, that's for sure. Beth says that the repercussions follow the children for generations. That is incredibly scary. Don't you think? Children take all these experiences into their teenage years, into their own marriages, into the work force, and ultimately into the way they parent their own children, and the cycle continues. Certainly though, those who are in Christ are NEVER without HOPE. We serve the great REDEEMER.

In momMEtime last month, one of the things that we talked about in relation to marriage, was that one of the best gifts that we give our children is a strong, healthy marriage. When I think about what Beth had to say, that the repercussions follow the children for generations, I want to make sure that I hold on to Gene even more tightly. Our marriage relationship is communicating more than I ever imagined.

Back to the roots of insecurity...At this point, I was getting a little despondent, thinking that Beth wasn't going to be able to help me. Then I read about the next one, personal disposition. This one boils down to temperament and personality. Beth said that people who are tenderhearted are more vulnerable to insecurity because we care deeply about things around us and how other people view us. I can see myself here. I can cry watching a sad commercial or movie and think about the content for days. I still refuse to watch the movie The Notebook just because I have heard how sad it is. I don't care to relive movies like Bambie or Old Yeller. It makes me sick to my stomach if I run over an animal on the highway. It breaks my heart to hear about orphans or see needs go unmet. I hate conflict and it upsets me to know that I have upset someone else. I am usually nice...(I said usually for the benefit of my sisters who may say something different), even when people are not necessarily nice to me. I am a people pleaser and I overload myself easily because of my inability to say No. I think you get the idea.

Yep, personal disposition has to be one of my issues.
I thought I was done until I read Chapter 6. Beth saved the best for last and even gave them their very own chapter: Culture and Pride. I really found myself in culture and probably pride too. I'll have to cover these in my next entry. This one is getting really long.

Until next time....

Monday, March 1, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up/Esther

The weekend was nice. Nothing out of the ordinary, but nice nonetheless. On Friday night, I had the college girls (from Gene's ministry) come over for dinner and a movie. We watched One Night With the King, the story of Esther. The movie is really good and we had a great time watching it and discussing it afterwards. We were all amazed at how different the culture was in Bible times. There was one point in the movie where Esther needed to approach the king with a request, but she was fearful to go into "his chambers" without being summoned because she could be killed. All the girls were like...."Whatever....I know I would wait to be summoned!" That made me laugh, even though I totally agree. Our culture has come a long way, hasn't it? The woman of today are much more bold, sometimes much too bold.

I thought I would share a little bit of what we talked about in our discussion time for those college girls who read my blog but couldn't attend. If you aren't familiar with the book of Esther, dig out your Bible and read it this week. It is a fascinating read and it's only 10 chapters. You will be finished before you know it.

5 Discussion Points from the story of Esther:
1. God has a purpose for each one of us.
When you read the book of Esther, you can clearly see Esther's purpose and her calling from God. Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are God's masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago." That verse thrills my soul to death. I love knowing that I am a masterpiece in God's eyes and that my life has a purpose. I was not an accident or an afterthought and neither are you. We are treasures that God desires to use for His glory. Each day is a brand new day to seek God and to be obedient to Him and to follow His leading.
2. God is sovereign...meaning that He is in complete control.
His plan and purposes will be carried out. In the story of Esther, she was clearly put into a position of leadership to rescue the Jews, God's chosen race, from mass extinction. And even though Esther was in a position to act, it was still her choice. She could have refused, allowing fear to keep her from being used mightily by God. If she had refused, would all of the Jews have been killed.....no way! The most famous verse from the story is Esther 4:14 and is says, "If you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?" That verse pretty much spells out the fact that you can either be obedient to God and walk in his plan for you or He will accomplish His purposes without you. Think about where God has strategically placed you. In what family? In what job? In what school? In what circle of friends? In what neighborhood? Those places are not accidents! God has strategically placed you where He wants you in order to use you, whether you are 18 or 85. Be like Esther and follow God, even when you have no idea what the outcome will be. Esther was obedient to God's call and responded in verse 4:16, "If I perish, I perish." Her faith in her God drove her to action and our faith in our God should do the same thing.
3. Esther gives us steps to follow when we find ourselves in difficult situations. Following her model, we should always go to God in prayer. She fasted and prayed for 3 days before she took any action, and she asked all the Jews to do the same thing, not only praying herself, but asking for prayer support. She also listened to wise Godly counsel. When trying to make a decision, we should seek out wise Godly counsel as well, like a Sunday School teacher or a minister, rather than our best friends, who will likely tell us exactly what we want to hear. Pray again after receiving any advice and make sure their counsel lines up with what God is telling you in your spirit. Choose a plan of action and then move. Relying on God's wisdom will always enable you to accomplish His will for your life, His way!
4. God always blesses obedience.
In the story of Esther, the evil plot was exposed, the wicked Haman was killed and justice had its way. Think about Haman for a minute. He wanted to trap Mordecai and have him killed. The Bible warns that when we try to trap another we often fall victim to that trap ourselves. Proverbs 26:27 says, "He who digs a pit will fall into it, and he who rolls a stone, it will come back on him." That is exactly what happened to Haman. He built gallows to hang Mordecai on, and he was killed on them instead. God blessed Mordecai's obedience by sparing his life and by allowing him to find favor in the king's eyes who made him the new prime minister, second in command over all of Persia. Earthly rewards are not always guaranteed to come if we are obedient, but so many times that is the case.
5. Our inner beauty is more important than our outer beauty.
Yes, Esther was physically beautiful, but scripture says that all the young, beautiful virgins from the entire empire were brought before the King with a chance to be chosen as his next queen, so I feel sure there were other pretty faces in the room. She had character qualities that allowed her to find favor with, not only the King, but with the other women, and the king's head eunuch as well. Scholars describe Esther with words such as faithful, courageous, religiously devout, wise, and resolute...each word a reference to inner beauty. Where does such inner beauty come from? 1 Peter 3:4-5 says that it comes from a heart that adorns itself with a deep trust in God. Psalm 55:22 says it comes when we look to God when times and conditions are tough. Phil. 4:13 says it comes from believing in your heart that God will empower you with His strength to do all things. Inner beauty only comes from spending daily time in God's Word and prayer, letting Him mold you from the inside, out. I challenged the college girls to start spending as much time with God as they do in the mirror each day. Inner beauty is so much more important and certainly deserves equal time. Proverbs 31:30 says, "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Friday night was fun. These girls make me laugh and make me feel somewhat young again. Of course, as I laid down at midnight, and then Gracen woke me up at 6:00 a.m., I quickly remembered my age. I miss those nights of staying up really late, eating junk food, and laughing my head off with a group of girlfriends. I really enjoyed their company and look forward to hanging out with them again.

On Saturday, Gran and Paw Paw kept my girls because I had to go and clean my sister's office in Montgomery. I do this once a month for a little "mad money". It wasn't exactly a fun outing, but I did enjoy getting out by myself and singing along with the radio, instead of answering Reagan's long list of questions. I was back home by lunch and spent the rest of the day and night just hanging out with my family. Gene and I had the girls in the bed by 7:30 and then had the house to ourselves. That is always nice.

On Sunday, we went to church. A normal day of busyness for us. The worship music was fantastic and so was the preaching and the fellowship. It was a good day.