Friday, October 29, 2010

Growing Up

Gracen started "using her spoon" this week. I use that phrase lightly because more food is landing in her lap than in her mouth. This is slowing down mealtime because I can feed her faster than she can feed herself, but I know it is an important skill for her to learn, so I am trying to let her do it as much as time will allow.

The pictures below are the fist time she insisted on holding the spoon herself. Of course, we were eating spaghetti....messy in and of itself. She basically refused to take a bite from me and kept reaching for her spoon. I gave it to her and she scooped up her first bite and tried to get it in her mouth. No such luck on the first 3 tries, but the fourth try was a winner. And she got better and better as the meal progressed. We clapped for her each time she got some spaghetti in her mouth and she really liked that.

In this picture she is using her spoon and her fingers. I guess she wanted to get a little more spaghetti in her mouth than by using the spoon alone.

And here she is the next morning. Again, she insisted on using her spoon. On her first successful bite she just looked at me and waited on the clapping. I didn't realize what she wanted until she dropped her spoon and clapped for herself. That would have been a great video moment.

It is hard to believe that she is growing up so fast. Some days I am so eager to get both of my little ones grown and off to school. I want to be able to clean my house, do my errands, and be actively involved in ministry again. (I sure do miss teaching a weekly Bible study.) Then there are days where I want to scream against the clock because I catch glimpses of how fast this season is passing me by. I know when they are both in school I will miss all the precious moments and constant messes. It is hard to see past the chaos and the exhaustion to truly appreciate each and every moment.
Sitting at the kitchen table watching Gracen feeding herself reminded me that the time is coming quickly where she won't need me. She will be Miss Independent, just like Reagan, and will want to do everything by herself. It is hard to even imagine that season, but I know it will be here before I realize it and before I am ready.
Until next time...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Carving Pumpkins

This will be a quick entry. I am currently working on the "student books" that go with my lessons for the women's retreat I will be leading in 9 days.....oh, goodness! That is taking all my free time this week. I apologize that my blog has not had much spiritual depth lately. I have been pouring myself into the retreat instead and apparently I cannot multi-task.

On Saturday afternoon, Gene and Reagan carved their first pumpkin. He decided to do something very simple because he wasn't too sure how the experience would turn out. It wasn't near as messy as we thought it would be and it was easier to cut the face than Gene thought it would be. Reagan had a blast and it is something that we will be doing each year. Maybe Gracen will get to do her own little pumpkin next year.

Here is Reagan getting all the gunk out of the inside of the pumpkin. She loves getting dirty so this was right up her alley. She planted many of the pumpkin seeds in our backyard. I wonder how many days in row she will check for pumpkins. I hate seeing her disappointed every day.
Reagan is still working on the gunk while Gene draws his face.

Let the cutting begin.

Here is the completed face and Reagan STILL getting mess out of that pumpkin.

And here is the finished product. Reagan insisted that our jack o'lantern be inside where she could enjoy it. I agreed, until Tuesday, when I noticed several gnats flying around said pumpkin, and out the door it went.

I just love fall and all the activities that go with it. I would enjoy fall more if it wasn't 90 degrees outside. Hopefully, it will start to cool down soon.
Until next time...

Monday, October 25, 2010

Weekend Wrap-up

We had a great weekend! After a very busy week and before a busy week to come, it was needed.

On Friday night, we started to go to the EMCA Homecoming game but changed our minds at the last minute. Gene was so tired after several days of working morning to bedtime and losing his off day. He was ready for some time at home. I went out and bought some steaks, baked potatoes, salad, and rolls and prepared his favorite dinner. He was a happy man. My girls were pretty happy too. Reagan and Gracen love steak! Who can blame them? I don't know how healthy it is for a 17 month old to eat steak, but I think she consumed half a New York Strip.

On Saturday we got up early and headed to the Pumpkin Patch in Clanton. We had a great time, but I seriously think we are boycotting that place because the prices are really ridiculous. There is no charge to get in, but each individual thing has a price per person and the adults have to pay too. For example, the petting zoo was $3.00 a person and I had to pay to go in with my toddler. The inflatables were $5.00 a person. The hayride was $4.00 per person, plus the cost of your pumpkin. Our hayride was $15.00 and we didn't even ride a half a mile. The family in front of me had to pay $24.00. I think that is a little pricey. But hey, we have already established that I am cheap. There were several other activities and of course food. We probably spent $40.00 or $50.00 and came home with a pumpkin.

We did get some great pictures though. I wanted to share some with you. This new computer will not let me move pictures around so they are not in order....which really drives me nuts.

Saturday afternoon, Reagan was invited to a "tea party" birthday party, and she had a blast. The decorations were so pretty. All the little four and five year olds got to drink from real glass tea cups, sitting on glass saucers, with tea or lemonade being poured from tea pots and pitchers. The little sandwiches, etc. were sitting on glass cake stands, and there was candy in glass bowls. The table was set with pretty table clothes and several vases with flowers. Reagan loved it. And no one broke anything.
At the party, all the little girls got to dress up and put on make-up and play jewelry. They also played in the backyard and had a little fashion show. Of course, I didn't have my camera with me, but I wanted to share her experience with you.
On Saturday evening, we carved our pumpkin and I'll share some pictures from that experience in my next entry.
For dinner, we ate taco soup by the glow of our newly lit jack o' lantern and all settled in for the Alabama game.
On Sunday, we had another great day in the house of the Lord.
I love my family and my church family. I am truly blessed.
Until next time...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Mean Girls

When Gene and I first found out that we were going to have a daughter, he immediately said, "Oh, the drama!" He said this because he had worked in youth ministry for years and in his experience with teenage girls, they can just be mean. If you are a female you know what I am talking about. And now we have been blessed with two daughters, so drama will follow us for the next 2o years, at least.

Reagan is almost 5 years old and who knew the drama would start so early. A few nights ago she was a little upset about something. When I asked her about it she immediately said that two little girls had been mean to her, making funny faces at her, calling her names, and saying that she had funny hair. Her little eyes filled up with tears and my "Momma Bear" instincts were coming alive....more about that in a minute.

I immediately prayed for the words to say, something that would heal her little heart. I told her that some girls are just mean, that she needed to do her best to stay away from those little girls, and to try and ignore those words. I told her what the Bible says about loving our enemies and being kind to those who are mean to us. I told her that she was beautiful inside and out, and that she was wonderfully and fearfully made by God. Those words seemed to help a little.

Then Reagan said, "Momma, do you know what else she said?" Of course I said I did not. Reagan continued, "The little girl said that you were stinky and had stinky hair." OH, NO SHE DID NOT TALK ABOUT ME! This little girl doesn't even know me. I am not stinky and I do not have stinky hair. Momma Bear started getting really hot.

Reagan looked up and with all of her 4 year old wisdom she said, "Momma, you are not stinky. She was just trying to hurt me." Wow, pretty deep for a little girl. We hugged and prayed and she seemed totally fine. I think she just wanted to get all of that off of her chest.

I, on the other hand, was upset that some little girl would intentionally hurt my Reagan and would talk about me in the process. I told Gene about it and shared that I would love to tell that little girl a thing or two. I could easily envision my 37 year old self putting that 5 year old girl in her place. He said, "Lesley, please don't be that Momma that goes and fights your children's battles." (We have moms like that in our youth ministry and they are not very popular.) I said that I wouldn't, but that I wanted to at least talk to this little girl's mother. Gene said that was the same thing and no, I couldn't do that either.

We saw the little girl at church last night and Reagan called out her name and said hey to her. Apparently, she had already forgiven her. The little girl turned, looked at Reagan up and down, ignored her "Hello" and walked away....with me standing there. I wanted to grab her and say, "Did you hear my daughter say hey to you?" (Parenting girls is going to be hard.) Reagan looked down at the ground and then looked at me and shrugged her shoulders. At bedtime, we prayed about the situation again.

I think I am having a harder time with this than Reagan is. It hurts to know that your children are hurting, but I know that is just part of growing up. All the experiences that she endures will shape her to be a stronger person. Apparently, they will also continue to shape me.

I can only imagine what the Junior High and High School years will look like. Oh Lord, give me strength and restraint.

Until next time...

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Fair

Whew!!!! I have been so busy! I clearly took on more than I can handle over the last two weeks. I have had something to do and somewhere to go every single day. I'll spare you the details, but I am definitely ready for things to slow down a little bit.

I did finish the Bible study material for the women's retreat that I will be leading in a few weeks. That is fabulous news. The bad news is that now I have to go back and make sheets for the ladies to have to follow along with me with fill in the blanks, etc. I don't think that will take too long and that is my next order of business.

Today I wanted to at least pop on my computer while the girls were resting to say "Hi" and to share a few pictures from our trip to the fair last Friday night. We had a great time. It was Reagan's first trip to the BIG Montgomery fair, and she was amazed at all the rides and lights. We have taken her to the little Autauga County fair every year because it is cheaper and smaller ....sufficient for a toddler/young preschooler. But, this year she graduated to the big fair.

We arrived at the fair around 5:00 and stayed until 9:00. Gene and I were exhausted, and Reagan must have been pretty tired too because she fell asleep on the way home. Little Miss Gracen was fantastic the entire 4 hours. She rode in her stroller almost the whole time and just laughed and "oohed and awed" at every thing she saw.

Here are a few pictures from the night.
Here is Gracen with a purple dolphin, a souvenir from the night.

Here's the crew eating an "oh so healthy" supper.
And here are a few shots of Reagan riding some of the rides. She had absolutely no fear and would have gotten on the adult rides if we would have let her. We are going to have our hands full with her when she gets older.

Me and Gracen...waiting for Reagan to get off a ride.

Here is Reagan coming down the giant slide right by herself. I must confess, this ride made me a little nervous and I had to pray as she was climbing up all the stairs and as she was sliding down.

With the busyness, we almost didn't go to the fair this year, and now I am so thankful that we took those precius hours to spend time together as a family. We had a great time and Reagan is still talking about some of the rides.
This Saturday we are going to the Pumpkin Patch, another fun filled family day. I am really looking forward to that.
Until next time...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Quick Hello

You will probably remember that I will be leading a women's retreat the first weekend in November. My goal was to be completely through with the Bible study material by the first of October. Well, that didn't happen. I then set a new deadline which was this past Friday. Guess what... that didn't happen either. So this week all of free time has got to go to that Bible study. With that being said, I am taking a little fast from my blog and from Facebook this week. Both of those areas take up a lot of time, and between those and typing the retreat material, I am sitting at my computer too much. My girls are getting the leftovers and they deserve better than that.

I will be checking my email though and all Facebook messages show up in my email, so hopefully I won't miss anything important.

I will leave you with a video clip of one of my favorite songs...."Hope Now" by Addison Road. It has really encouraged me today. My spirit has been a little anxious and honestly, I have not had the best day. I guess some days are just like that, aren't they? I am trying to choose joy and one way I do that is to focus on God and His goodness by reading my Bible, praying, and worshipping Him through music.

I have this song downloaded on my ipod, and I listened to it over and over again for about an hour this morning. It helped me to remember that everything in this life comes down to faith, hope, and love. God has known me since before I was born and will continue to walk with me throughout eternity. Even if this isn't your kind of music, listen to the words and read the lyrics on the screen. They are truly inspirational.

Hopefully I will be back on track at the first of next week....with the retreat material complete.

Have a blessed day and a blessed week.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Created for a Purpose

Do you ever forget that as a believer you were created for a purpose? Do you forget that you belong to God and that He has been walking beside you since the day you were created in your mother's womb? Do you forget that He has good works just for you that you are suppose to walk in? I sure do!

I have an enemy of my soul who whispers doubt into my heart. His name is Satan. He tells me that I am not important. He tells me that I cannot do great things for God. He tells me that I am failing at my job of being a godly wife or a godly mother, or a godly woman. He creates in me feelings of discontentment and thoughts of worry and fear that could easily overtake me if I give in to them. He constantly tells me that I am not worthy and that I cannot do great things for God.

But there is another voice that is louder than Satan's voice and that one belongs to God! He is constantly reminding me how much He loves me....that He has not given me a spirit of fear... that I can do all things through the Christ... that I am fearfully and wonderfully made... that I can do great things for Him... that He is with me and will enable me to be the godly wife, mother, and woman that I need to be.

Ephesians 2:10 says, "For we are his WORKMANSHIP, CREATED in Christ Jesus for good WORKS, which God PREPARED BEFOREHAND that we should walk in them."

Jeremiah 1:5 says, "Before I FORMED you in the womb I KNEW you. And before you were born I CONSECRATED you."

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "For I know the PLANS that I have for you," declares the Lord, "PLANS to prosper you and not to harm you, PLANS to give you hope and a future."

Psalm 139:13, 16 says, "For you FORMED my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the DAYS THAT WERE FORMED FOR ME when as yet there was none of them."

God's Word is so powerful and always gives me a new perspective about myself.

I have been purposely written into God's story. He created me and put me in a certain place, in a certain time, among certain people, all for the amazing purpose of salvation. That because of the great LOVE that has been lavished on me, I will exhibit Him to the world around me. I often forget that truth...that it is an amazing thing to be included in His plan.

Every single person that God calls into His plan through salvation has been purposely written into His story. God did not just save me from my sins, but He saved me for something and to something greater than myself.

What a huge concept! I don't know what the rest of my life will look like, but for now this truth tells me that I am important and that I am greatly loved. No one else can be the wife that Gene needs. No one else can be the mother that Reagan and Gracen need. No one else can fulfill the role within my social group and my church that God has given to me.

When Satan whispers doubt into my heart, I will say these verses back to him and rise above the self-doubt that he is trying to create.

Thank you God for creating me and for writing me into Your plan!

Until next time...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up Part 2

Saturday was such a beautiful day. I just had to take the girls somewhere to enjoy the nice weather. Gene was planning on painting our dining room, so they needed to be out of the house for sure. Open paint cans and a 17 month old are NOT a good combination.

I decided to take them to the zoo, and I invited my mother-in-law to come along. Again, I just wanted to share a few pictures from our morning.

Here are the girls waiting for their turn to get on the train.

Here is my MIL with Gracen.

The zoo has a new feature where you can pay a dollar to feed the giraffes. I thought that was really cool. They are such beautiful animals. Both girls actually enjoyed it too. I thought Gracen would be scared, but she seemed quite interested in all of the giraffes that came up to the fence to eat. She even giggled when they stuck their extremely long tongues through the fence to grab the greenery to munch. Like I said, it was pretty neat.
Reagan peeking at the giraffes

My MIL swinging Gracen. You just got to love that "Slapout" t-shirt that she is wearing.
Reagan playing on the playground.

My MIL with both girls.

Gracen checking things out.

Reagan sitting in front of the leopard cage.

And Reagan noticing that the leopard is coming her way....funny!

I am so glad that we made the trip. The weather was perfect and both girls loved it. They were so good from start to finish. I also really enjoyed spending the morning with my mother-in-law. We talked about all kind of things and laughed a lot at the girls.
On Saturday afternoon, we were able to spend a lazy afternoon at home with Gene. The weather was perfect, I had taco soup in the crock pot for dinner, and we played in the yard until AL game time.
On Sunday, we enjoyed another wonderful day of worship. EMBC is incredibly blessed to have Bro. Michael Evans as our worship leader, along with the choir and orchestra that we get to enjoy each week. To say that they are talented would be an understatement.
Bro. Glenn continued his series on stewardship and again, I was challenged to think about different areas of my life and to ask myself if I am TRULY glorifying God in ALL things.
I desperately want to!
God has been so faithful to me, even in my unfaithfulness. The least that I can do is give Him the very best of myself from this day forward.
Until next time...

Monday, October 4, 2010

Weekend Wrap-Up Part 1

We had a busy weekend, and I took lots of pictures so I thought I would share this weekend wrap-up in two parts.

On Friday night, I went to my sister's house for my mother's birthday dinner. Lindsay and I went in together providing dinner and dessert.

We always have a great time when we get together. I had actually been looking forward to it all week. The older I get, the more that I realize that family you love and "like" being with is a blessing not to be taken for granted. Thankfully we all get along, and we all really enjoy watching the kids play and interact with one another, especially Gracen and Hayden who are 3 weeks apart in age.

As always, we missed my older sister, Lori, and her family. They live out of town and cannot get away every time we decide to have a gathering....unfortunately.

I just wanted to share some pictures from our no particular order. And let me camera took some blurry shots on Friday night and I have no idea why!

My mom and dad...aren't they cute?

My younger sister, Lindsay, with her family.

My dad, Reagan, my mom, and me

Gracen, entertaining herself

Reagan giving Hayden lots of attention

My mom with Reagan and Hayden

Mom blowing out the candles on her cake, with Reagan looking on

My dad and Reagan

Me and Gene

Brian with Gracen and Hayden

Like I said, we really had a great time just hanging out, talking, eating, and watching the kids play. Thanks Lindsay for opening your home and, one more time, Happy Birthday Mom. I hope you had a great one!

Until next time...