Friday, December 31, 2010

I don't even know how this happened....

I found her in the crib like this this morning. Haha.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Wrap-Up

It was truly a blessing to stay at home for Christmas this year. We are under no illusion that this will always be the case, but having our families visit, carving out traditions and relaxing (which was ABSOLUTELY necessary for our whole family) has been divine.
Christmas Day dinner with my family. It went very well, and everyone had enough to eat - that was my main goal. :) This is the first time that I've ever really set the table like this - look, I even used gold chargers under the plates (not china, though...oh well...)


And the picture the day my family left. Everyone but Charlotte looks great.

I know, I know, we didn't take any pictures of Christmas morning. I did take a video, but I don't have the patience for trying to load it right now. Maybe later.

I stayed up til 1:00 last night playing Dominion with Josh, my husband and his GameStop manager Branden. Therefore, no 5 o'clock club this morning. I am still on Winter Break though...definitely next week, though. Don't be discouraged...you can still do it.

More later, I just wanted to post these pictures.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Planning for the new year

By God's grace, I have come a LONG way in running my home in the past year. I say by God's grace, because it is definitely NOT my doing in any way. God has guided me to blogs, books, people, tips and scripture to show, convict and instruct me in the ways of mothering, wifing (wiving?) and homekeeping, even with a full-time job which 1) he has provided and 2) he has given grace to help me serve my family in spite of. And I am becoming so much better for it. The 5 o'clock Club has petered out a little due to Winter Break, but I am getting convicted to pick it back up again tomorrow (even though since we're both off, it might just be the 7 o'clock Club for the next three days). If you're considering this crazy idea of "rising early to sit at Jesus' feet," please, please, please go to the girltalk blog and check out their 5 o'clock club testimonials, etc. This has been such a blessing to me already, and I miss it since the schedule of the holiday season has gotten chaotic.

Life in our home this holiday season has been full of hospitality. This is where I say that I have seen definite growth in grace in my life; by nature, I am not a hospitable person. I don't want to wait on people, accomodate them, clean up after their messes (and meals that I've made), or do what they want to do. I am prideful and want to have my break selfishly. But God....(do you ever notice that those two words in scripture are the beginning of something amazing?) But God has changed my heart, slowly giving me a heart of service. Giving me a more and more unselfish heart. This cannot be of me because I never would have seen the value in being this way. It is only of God's grace and I praise His name for it (and I will when I rise early, purposefully, tomorrow morning.

Also, before I close, I wanted to guide you (pass on guidance, really) about quiet time. This is a dilemma I found when I started rising early....okay, so now what? And for the couple weeks before the holiday, I just re-read passages of scripture we'd been studying in church (so Ephesians, James, and a little Isaiah for Christmas) and of course, praying. But, reading the girltalk blog book Shopping for Time that I just bought with Christmas money, has convicted me that we need to follow a reading plan for reading scripture. How else will we learn what we do not know, grow in our faith and knowledge of God, or venture into the minor prophets? Check out this website for a great Bible reading plan, especially for the new year. Soli Deo Gloria.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Our Sovereign God....

This is Charlotte's blankie. It is her comfort, her strength, and her security. And today, we lost it.

I know...I felt like the worst mother ever. How could I possibly lose (or let her lose) the single most important item that she owns. We lost it at Target during one of the busiest shopping days of the year. We went back and looked everywhere, everywhere we had been which, today, wasn't very many places. Brit called Lost and Found, and they had it! But when I went to get it, it was a different white blanket with Winnie the Pooh on it. I looked again, and still no where to be found. My hope was all but lost.

And we were in line to check out, and I remembered Gretchen's rabid chipmunk story (which is long and random and really rather here nor there). So, Charlotte and I, in the checkout line at Target, prayed to God who knows all things and has power over all things that we would get the blankie back. Nothing is too small or big for Him. On our way out of the store, I stopped to check in Lost and Found again, just to see if someone had turned it in since we had been there. And there it was. So we praised God. Because He can do all things, knows all things and has power over all things. Praise God for giving us Charlotte's blankie back. A stupid thing, reminding me of God's awesome sovereignty over all things. Praise God from Whom all blessings (even security blankies) flow. :)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The In-Laws' Christmas visit

With Grandpa at breakfast.

A group picture.


Decorating sugar cookies with Grandma.






Goofing off.

Opening presents on Saturday morning.



We had a great time with Kim and Barney. We wish they could've stayed longer.
Today, Charlotte, Allison and I are off to UVA for Charlotte's new foot doctor appointment. More about that later. Hope you have a great day!
P.S. After schlepping off the 5:00 club yesterday morning, I was back at it again today. I read Isaiah 52:13-53:12 in honor of Christmas and so that I don't forget what I've been saved from. Soli Deo Gloria.




Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The 5 o'clock Club


I have been greatly encouraged by many comments about the 5 o'clock club (see this post). I just wanted to give you all an update, hopefully to encourage you in your attempts.

I have decided to take the weekends off. That was Shannon's question - "Are you going to do this every morning?" And the answer is, no, I'm going to take weekends off.

The other question of a couple people was, "So...what do you do?" And the answer is, "A lot." I have a lot to do. I was telling Brit last night that I have been so overwhelmed by trying to balance homemaking, school, wifehood and motherhood, that an extra couple hours in the morning is a big help. So what do I do? I drink tea, I shower, I make Adam's lunch. I eat breakfast with him (by candlelight, this morning...isn't that fun?). I pray and read the Bible. I clean up. It's such a different practice than anything I've ever done, that we're still figuring out our routine in it. For Adam, though it's a delight and blessing to have me awake, it is a little bit of an adjustment also.

Here is what I do not want. I do not want to fill these hours so chock full that there is no time for the purpose with which I rise: to seek the Lord's face. I must do this and nothing else if my purpose in this is to be blessed and pure of heart.

Some encouragement: We knew that it would happen, but I had a horrible, alien morning yesterday. I fought getting out of bed, did nothing once I was out of bed, and was sleepily resistant to being awake until I got to school. I even had coffee when I got to school. But you know what? That's all right. It is. And even though I had a bad morning, I got up this morning at 5:00, and you know what? It was better. If this happens to you, do not be discouraged. Just keep getting up, and know that your body will adjust to you getting up early.

I hope that helps. If you need more encouragement, check out this section of the Girl Talk blog. Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas card reject photos and Cookie Decorating

I thought you all would enjoy some of these: pictures from our attempt to take family pictures after church on Sunday. It's like those pictures of kids who are terrified of Santa. :) We're still working on the picture, so Christmas cards aren't out yet....obviously.





Oh, and this one would have been so cute if it weren't for Eeyore in the middle. Haha.

As a still newish mom, I have been giddy to start traditions this season as Charlotte begins to understand the holidays. Today, we decorated sugar cookies for the Christmas praise and worship night tomorrow night at church.



Wednesday, December 8, 2010

You're going to think I'm crazy,

but hear me out first. I have been very convicted, kind of all school year, to become a more early riser. There are so many benefits to waking up early, but I've just never had the stamina or willpower to do it (my husband will tell you all day long).

It is no secret that one of my favorite blogs is Girl Talk by the Mahaney women. Well, they all wrote a very short book called Shopping for Time that I was flipping through while I was shopping for an undisclosed person's Christmas present, and I saw the idea of the 5 o'clock club. Here's a link to give you some background, but the general gist of the "club" is women who rise early to serve their families better and sit at the feet of Jesus in the morning. I have been striving to serve my family better all school year, and this is the next step that I easily ignored when I read Carolyn Mahaney's book Feminine Appeal.

So last night, I set my cell phone alarm for 5:00 and excitedly picked out my alarm ringtone. When the alarm went off, my flesh fought and fought, for about an hour, that I should just go back to bed. What was I going to do with all that time? The first thing I did (and this is straight from the blog) is go the bathroom, then go to the kitchen and fix myself a cup of Tazo Calm tea (I've quit coffee now for about 3 weeeks). I sat on the living room couch and drank my tea, illuminated only by the Christmas lights surrounding our nativity. And I just sat. And there were moments where all I wanted was to go back to bed. Moments where I almost admitted defeat. But I told myself to stick it out and see what happened.

Adam's alarm rings at 5:20 every morning. He got up right away when his alarm went off, and the morning gets pretty mundane from there.

But....

I never in a million years would have guessed how blessed HE would be by my getting up so early. He was so appreciative of me being up with him in the dark morning, eating breakfast with him and helping him print off some worksheets for school this morning while he was in the shower. I never realized what a burden it was for him to have to find the time to wake me up as he was leaving for school. Today, he left early and will probably have a much better, more well prepared day because of it. What an amazing way to start off my husband's day, and I didn't even originally think about that as a caveat for waking up early. God is gracious where I am weak, and I am definitely weak in the area of sleeping.

The next step, of course, is to try to be productive during this morning time, instead of just sitting with my body in sleep shell shock. But one step at a time. I did have time to write this post, after all. I want to challenge you today to consider the Girl Talk 5 o'clock club. Try it once and see if God doesn't bless you for it. I used to think people were nuts who got up before the absolute last second they had to. Now, I'm starting to see that this time could be very valuable to my communion with God, my husband and myself. Soli Deo Gloria.
P.S. After Adam left this morning, he sent me a text: Best morning ever. Enough said.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Thinking....

I know that it's been a long time since a real post. Really, that is the forecast of my life in this season. I am just busy. I know that everyone is, but my family literally hits the ground running on Monday morning and doesn't begin to rest until Friday after school. Especially this week, with the Christmas program coming up this weekend, we literally just survive.

But I've been thinking a lot. Thinking about a lot of different things. Christmas and Advent. Biblical womanhood. Biblical wife and motherhood. All of Christ's godliness being in a tiny baby. Serving others. Making food. IBS-safe food. So many things. And here's some of what I came up with.

I didn't want Christmas to sneak up on me this year. And I'm not talking about gifts...the gifts are not a big deal in our house. No, I just wanted to really soak up the meaning of the season, meditating on the well-known story and learning from it. Having it affect me freshly. Having it affect and mean something to my family. Teaching Charlotte the Christmas story and some prophecy through our new Advent calendar tradition. Not letting my heart grow cold or numb to the miracle of the birth of our Savior and Lord. Much of my preparation this season has been to make memories for us and for Charlotte. Establishing traditions and caring for the needs of everyone. Making the house warm (which is so much easier with our new gas furnace :)), welcoming, peaceful and comfortable. Cooking....I cook so much more than I cooked two years ago. I'm also working on IBSifying my diet, which is happening bit-by-bit. All of these things tie together, and again, I am content to be in this season of my life.

Yes, I am content to be in this season of my life. It's not perfect, and it is difficult and tiring, but I wouldn't give up my life for anything. That's a pretty good place to be right now. And you know what? So is wherever you are today. Take a moment to thank God for His goodness and grace today. We need it every hour of every day. Soli Deo Gloria.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Charlotte's birthday, part two




I had to take and post some cake pictures. You'll notice C's hair is still crazy, even after I did it this morning. Also, mommy didn't have any candles, but with a two-year-old, maybe that's the wisest thing. :)

Happy Birthday, dear Charlotte. Happy Birthday to you!

Confession: I almost didn't post this picture because, let's be honest, this is not the most flattering picture in the world. But, really, it's hilarious...her hair was CRAZY this morning when she woke up.

And, as requested, the picture of Charlotte with her new, pink Texas Longhorns ballcap on. She decided to put it on herself, which is why she looks like the Fresh Prince. Maybe the Longhorns will be good again next year. :)
I am a little nostalgic about her turning two this year. I've been remembering the day that she was born, and, just as I was promised, I have forgotten most of the bad (which is most of it) and remembered the good with increasing fondness. No matter what the birthing situation, I've decided that there is something beautiful about the day for everyone. C-section or VBAC, natural birth or emergency, medicated or not, these are beautiful days when God blessed us with a child. Having Charlotte has taught me so much about myself, and I love her dearly. She is truly precious to us. Soli Deo Gloria.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

We did it!



Thanksgiving, I mean. We made a successful Thanksgiving meal, relaxed and let gratitude fill our home. Truly, it was wonderful. Last night, we put up the Christmas tree, and decided that two-year-old Charlotte (or anyone, I think) is not really helpful in decorating the tree.
I am excited about this season. I realize that many people say that every year, but I am not usually one of them. Some years, I'm just not into it. But this year, as traditions begin to form, I find my anticipation of the season growing. Adam and I are getting back to basics in our marriage, cutting away sin, pride and worldliness that has grown uninhibited for too long. We are looking very forward to our parents coming to visit in the month of December, excited to see them interact with walking, talking, laughing, singing, dancing Charlotte. God is so good and gracious, and we give thanks to Him for His many blessings. As I've read on the blogosphere this week, even when it seems that we have nothing to be thankful for, in those frustrations, we have blessings that we take for granted.
Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Birthday Party pictures, etc.

I know, I know...it's been a long time. I know it's been a while when my wonderful husband checks my blog and says, "That's the last time you wrote a post?!" So, since I had a handful of pictures to post, this post is dedicated to the grandparents, out-of-town aunts and uncles.
This is a picture of Adam and Charlotte a couple Fridays ago, eating pizza for dinner and watching Aladdin. I think this is a fun family tradition to consider....

Speaking of family traditions, we have begun a tradition (that is by no means original) of having cinammon rolls on Sunday morning before church. In his book, Family Driven Faith, Voddie Bauchum says that our homes should incorporate the gospel into the five senses. What does the Lord's day taste like in your house? What does it smell like? What does your home sound like? Just some things I've been thinking about.

Here's Brit's pre-birthday party picture. She'll probably be appalled that I posted this picture. :)

Here are my pig cupcakes...I was so excited about them.




Charlotte wasn't really her cheery self at the party. As a matter of fact, she was downright grumpy. But this is my favorite picture of us from her party - with the bear that Joe and Kathy gave her. :) Thanks, Lisa, for taking the pictures at the party.

On Sunday morning before church, Adam and Charlotte played with Charlotte's favorite toy of the day so far, the princess tea set. Love you all, and I will post a thoughtful post soon. :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday, October 28, 2010

10 Things Thursday

Thinking of Halloween, last night's Reformation Celebration, the upcoming Thanksgiving, birthdays and Christmas season, I wanted to make a list of 10 new tradition ideas for our family as Charlotte goes into childhood:
  1. Special Christmas Eve dinner - what? I don't know yet. Something special...like? Nope, no ideas yet.
  2. Using an Advent calendar. Adam got me a beautiful one last year for my birthday, and I would like to begin filling it this year, teaching Charlotte the story as we go.
  3. I anticipate that we will continue our tradition of going to Target during the appointed "trick or treating" time on Sunday, not because we are inhospitable, but because hoards of people commute to our neighborhood for the festivities. No, thanks. See you there, Rafe.
  4. Making Thanksgiving dinner. In our house. In our kitchen. In my new, sweet apron. Making the side dishes that we want...and probably birthday cake for Charlotte.
  5. Having a birthday party for Charlotte the weekend before Thanksgiving (or the week after, I guess it depends on when Thanksgiving is).
  6. Putting up the tree and decorating the whole house (since I've gotten the knack for it during this fall season) the day after Thanksgiving.
  7. Maybe Black Friday shopping...maybe. Without Kohl's and my mom, it just isn't the same. But maybe C and I will make the drive.
  8. Cycling through all of our Christmas choir CDs through the next two months (as long as they work...they've been at odds with our stereo lately).
  9. Finding some holiday recipes to make our own. Also recipes for leftovers. Again, we've never had to do these things before.
  10. And finally, making tender moments happen whenever possible. This was the last part of the Making Your Home a Haven challenge that I did this month (kind of...). Creating tender moments, like pausing dinner to read Goodnight Moon on the kitchen floor with Charlotte in my lap. This is what truly makes holidays and families special.
What are some of your traditions? As we begin to make our own, and I know many of you are too, what are some holiday traditions you have for your own families? Post a comment and let me know. :) Soli Deo Gloria.

P.S. Here are some pictures I took this week. Enjoy.



Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reformation Celebration

Most churches have a harvest festival or trunk or treat this week. Our church takes a little different approach to October 31, choosing instead to commemorate the day in terms of the Reformation, since it was the date that Luther tacked the 95 Theses to the church door. Every year, we hear stories of reformers who were martyred for sharing the gospel; Adam was John Knox one year :). This year, we heard the story of Hugh Latimer, executed by Bloody Mary, and probably best known for his famous quote: "Play the man, Master Ridley; we shall this day light such a candle, by God's grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out." He said this to fellow reformer, Nicholas Ridley, as both were about to be burned alive for heresy. This is even more exciting to me because this quote is in the novel Fahrenheit 451 which I'm teaching right now. I love that connection - such a great, prophetic book if you've never read it.

So aside from hearing stories of martyrs each year, there is also a costume contest and this year, there was a chili/salsa cookoff. Sadly, we did not win the costume contest; there were many superb entries, including most of our youth group dressing up as the Duggar family. The child's prize went to Seth, a boy in Charlotte's class for his stinkbug costume. Hilarious. Since we didn't participate in the cookoff, enjoy our costume pictures.

Here are Charlotte and me. Charlotte is, hopefully obviously, Princess Leia this year. Since she had that costume, I decided to be Leia's mom, Queen Amidala, from the prequel movies. Adam called us Princess Lottie and Queen Mommy-dala, which I thought was clever. Honestly, my church was not the best audience for this costume decision, since about half the people I saw thought that I was a geisha. I should have said that I would never dress up as a geisha to come to a church function, but most people don't really know what geishas are/were anyway.

Here we are - the whole strange family. Adam was in a kind of monk/choir robe regalia since he was a part of the storytelling earlier in the evening. If it were not for that, I think we could've talked him into being Annakin. He really wanted to be Darth Vader chasing Charlotte around saying, "Give me back those plans! I want those plans!" Haha. All in all, it was a fun, but long day and evening. I already have an idea for tomorrow's post, so tune in! Soli Deo Gloria.

Friday, October 22, 2010

10 Things Thursday on Friday

Ah...the end of the first nine weeks... After being very stressed and working very hard this week, I am rewarded today with a day off. Of course, it is a day of running errands and trying to put our house back together, but that is what I truly love. I have promised myself that I will not get overwhelmed or feel guilty about anything today. I will just do what I can do. What a refreshing attitude for most of us!

I tried to come up with an original, not predictable 1o things list this week, realizing that topping last week's 10 pumpkin patch pictures is almost impossible.

10 reasons that I love this season of my life:
  1. My child sleeps through the night, every night. She and mommy both need a lot of sleep, so this is truly a blessing.
  2. I also love toddler-Charlotte. She is wonderful, funny, expressive and playful. As she gains independence, I see glimmers of the woman she will become. It worries me because I don't want to mess her up! but I know that my Lord is sovereign over her and our imperfect parenting.
  3. I appreciate my home so much when I am here. I am learning more and more what it means to care for it, create a haven in it and cope with the imperfections of it. While it is true that this house is the biggest reason I cannot stay at home right now, I am truly appreciative of the fact that we have it and that it is more than adequate for us.
  4. I truly love my husband. We have been through it in the past two years, and even though our situation right now is not ideal, it is much better than it was five months ago. I praise God for the growth He has ordained in both of us in this time of struggle, and say with confidence that I truly love my husband, til death do us part. We are such a better couple now than when we got married - isn't that the way of it? :)
  5. I love our family coming to visit, inviting us to visit and sending us presents for Charlotte when they can't visit. Charlotte and I both get so excited when packages come for her.
  6. I love our church family as it is right now. Growing from without and within, it is a blessing many don't even know they are lacking to be in a body such as ours.
  7. I love the fact that I have a best friend in Brit. Without getting into overdramatic details, I have never really had a best friend like her, and she is so much more than a babysitter, an auntie to Charlotte or a co-housekeeper. She is a dear friend to our family, most of the time, part of the family, and I truly apprectiate the fact that God has matched up our lives at this point in them.
  8. I am also loving being a mentor to Allison. She is so passionate about growing in the Gospel and killing the sin in her life that she convicts me to do the same. Though we are close in age and friends, our mentor-mentee relationship is in its proper place and being her mentor focuses me on the battle at hand.
  9. Our jobs...I do not love them, but I am grateful for them. Again, we are not where we were five months ago (and all of our parents sigh with relief) and that is truly of grace.
  10. I am excited about the coming holiday season. November is just around the corner, which in our home doesn't just mean Thanksgiving, but it also means birthdays. Planting traditions for our young family is very exciting to me (and daunting, see #2), and though the next two months will be busy (since there are baby showers galore in November as well!), I am looking forward to the rejoicing with one another.

I hope this little list finds you well, maybe encouraging you where you are today. Soli Deo Gloria.

Monday, October 18, 2010

She looks for wool and flax and works with her hands in delight. Proverbs 31:13




No, I do not profess to be any kind of real example of a Proverbs 31 woman. Of course, there are so many things that I fall short at doing and so much sanctification that needs to take place in my life. But...during the fall and winter, I LOVE to knit - working with my hands is something that I can really identify with the Proverbs 31 woman about. I don't know what it is...I think that I love to do something with my hands as Adam and I watch football on TV. Now of course, with a toddler, I have significantly less time to knit than when I was, say, pregnant with said toddler. However, it still relaxes me, especially these scarves which I can knit with confidence in a relatively short period of time so that I don't get frustrated.
Look over my work; if you like it and would like me to make a scarf for you or a loved one, I would be honored. Adult scarves are $20; I can make hats and kids' scarves as well.
If not, just use this opportunity to embrace your creativity and work with your hands. Even young mothers can benefit from some theraputic work with our hands. Soli Deo Gloria.



Thursday, October 14, 2010

10 Things Thursday

As I discussed on the inagural post of 10 Things Thursday, I am indeed too burnt out to even think about posting a coherent, maybe inspiring, encouraging or theological blog today. But what I can do is offer to you 10 pictures of Charlotte from her two pumpkin patch trips this week - one Saturday with us and one Tuesday with the daycare center and Brit.


1. Cheeseball. That's all for that picture.

2. Mommy and Charlotte in front of a bulldozer full of pumpkins. Sweating our faces off in high-80 degree weather.


3. Walking through the pumpkin patch. This was difficult because of all the vines covering the ground. Charlotte's really only been walking for five months and is not the most steady walker yet, so this navigation was pretty difficult. And it was blazing hot. :)
4. Charlotte on the hayride to/from the pumpkin patch. I don't really think she was amused at all by the ride, only enjoying the breeze that we got because we were moving.
5. Charlotte's favorite part of the pumpkin patch when we were there was the "animal alley." She got so excited to see real animals that she knew all of the names of. This sheep was her favorite, for Uncle Nick. It's a shame (not the sheep, keep reading), because most of the other parts of the place were crowded with older kids that would knock her over, so she didn't really get to do very much until she went with the center on Tuesday. 6. Here begins the pictures with the center. One of the things Charlotte got to do with them that she couldn't do with us was ride the cow train. As you can see, she was riding Gertie.7-9. Brit said that Charlotte's favorite part of the pumpkin patch when they went on Tuesday was the corn crib. It's basically a covered sandbox full of corn kernels.
10. And here she is tonight after she finished eating dinner. After two pumpkin patch trips in one week, church until late last night and a day of playing at the center, she was one tired pup.