Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I love it when my child says...

Kate is talking up a storm and I love to hear her talk.  She will seriously talk your ear off.  She is still in the early stages of speaking, but she is putting together sentences very well and we are trying to teach her the proper way to say different words.

She has a terrible habit of interrupting.  I was trying to teach her to say, "excuse me", if she wants to get my attention or Justin's.  I realize how much I enjoy the way her little brain works.  Here are some things we frequently hear her say...

"Excuse me, my daddy (or my mommy)." I love how she uses possessive language when she is speaking to us.

"It not working" - She tells us this when she tries to go potty, but can't.

"I have a pwablem" (her language for problem).  

"I wanna do it by my ownself"

She also knows Psalm 23:1 - The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.  I"ll try to post a video of her saying that.

I love this stage so much!  It would be the perfect age if we didn't have to deal with all the discipline issues... she is lucky she is cute!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Beauty - Is it something worth attaining?

Every woman wants to be beautiful.  Let me be more specific, every woman wants to be thought of as beautiful or in today's terms, hot.  This topic of beauty has been on mind ever since my Bible Study teacher told us about a documentary she watched on beauty.  They polled 10 of the most beautiful women and 10 of the most powerful women in the world.  They found that almost all of the powerful women would have chosen to have beauty over their position and almost all of the beautiful women would keep their beauty rather than attaining a powerful position.  My reaction was, seriously?

This has captivated my thoughts, so I decided to do some studying.  I help teach a group of high school senior girls.  I seriously think they are some of the most beautiful girls I have ever been around, so this topic of beauty has been somewhat of a theme in my life.  I have been preparing to teach about beauty (this Sunday) and would love some input from you.

Inner beauty is imperative and well worth attaining as Scripture points out.  A verse commonly used to accentuate this point is 1 Samuel 16:7 -"The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart."  We see over and over the importance of having inner beauty and a pure heart before the Lord. 

Is outer beauty a bad thing?  Most would say, no. 

So, I will pose another few questions..

Is outer beauty something worth attaining? 

Should we strive for exterior beauty?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The result of bribing my child...

Have you ever been desperate when it comes to making your child do something you want them to do?  We are in the midst of potty training and I think this has to be one of the most frustrating times to a parent.  Kate's teacher informed us that according to the Farmer's Almanac... this was the week to potty train your child.  My response.. "I have no idea what that means, but I'll give it a try".  I don't know if you remember my post from February, but Justin and I were so traumatized by trying to potty train Kate.. we never wanted to try again.  A friend of mine who has a child in Kate's class called me today to ask me if their teacher told me about the Farmer's Almanac thing and if I was trying this week.  She was so stressed out because her son really wants nothing to do with the whole thing. 

Well, because I am a mom.  I do care what other people think of me and I don't want Kate to be in diapers forever (they cost a fortune); the potty training has commenced with alot of bribing.  Our bribes started out something like, "you'll get an M&M if you go potty in the potty."  It has turned into something like, "you will sit on the potty and try to go or you will get a spanking.  If you go, you will get the candy of your choice."  I'll be honest, the bribing has worked pretty well.. so why not try it in other areas?

This past weekend we had an appointment scheduled to take pictures for our Christmas cards.  I was thrilled to find a local photographer who would take your photos and put them on a CD (for me to print) at a somewhat reasonable price.

Please note that I have a two year old who does not always cooperate when I want her to.  I was so stressed leading up to the photo shoot.  I just knew she wasn't going to listen and we weren't going to get one good shot.  We got desperate, so we really talked up the photo shoot and told Kate that she could get a Calico Critter (her favorite toys at the moment) if she listened to the photographer.  Well, I'll have to say.. this bribe worked like none other.  Kate had her eye on the prize.. and acted wonderfully and did everything the photographer said.  Oh, she knew she did good too.. the entire way home she said that she was ready to go get her Calico Critter.  I'm not going to lie.. the bribing thing is still up for debate in mind, but in this instance it was worth it.  Here is the result.  (We have more coming, but this is only one Stephanie posted on her website.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A spiritual lesson we can learn from Keeping Up with the Kardashians?

I was flipping through the channels the other night and landed on Keeping Up with the Kardashians.  I'll admit that I watched the show when it first came out, but I have not kept up with it lately.  That evening I decided to watch it for a few minutes.  I'm not sure what episode it was and honestly it went bad fast, so I changed the channel... but for the few short minutes I watched it,  here is what I heard.  Rob (the youngest Kardashian and only boy in the family) was giving Bruce Jenner (their step-father and olympic champion) a hard time because Bruce is too boring and straight laced. Rob asked Bruce, "Didn't you go out and party when you were my age?".  Bruce's response.. "No, at your age I had already won my first gold medal as was training to win my second".  Bruce didn't have time to party, he was focused on the winning the PRIZE. 

Fast forward to today where I read (again) Philippians 3:12-14.  "Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

As I study Philippians I have Wiersbe's commentary close by.  He so easily describes these verses.  A couple things he points out:
1) "The mature Christian honestly evaluates himself".  That is where I have been lately - in an evaluation process.  This can be tough and liberating all at the same time.  Wiersbe goes on to warn, "Self-evaluation can be a dangerous thing, because we err in two directions: (1) making ourselves better than we are or (2) making ourselves worse than we really are."

Where do you fit in?  Me, I am one who probably makes myself worse than I really am.  One of my best friends used to say that we have an over-active Holy Spirit.  The two of us love the LORD and we feel so guilty over every little thing we do.  (I am kind of thankful for that though.. makes me realize HOW MUCH I NEED A SAVIOR.. JESUS). 

Wiersbe goes on to point out:
2) The "One thing" found in the second half of verse 13 is a phrase that is very important to Christians.  And yet another lesson we can learn from Keeping Up with the Kardashions.  Bruce was focused on "One Thing" winning a gold medal at the olympics.  Everyday and all day for how ever many years he trained was focued on that "One Thing".  This is where we need to be except.. not training for a Gold Medal, but focused on God and what He has for us to do with our life.

Wiersbe points out (and something I'm guilty of) "Too many Christians are too involved in "many things" when the secret to progress is to concentrate on "one thing".  The believer must devote himself to running the Christian race.  No athlete succeeds by doing everything; he succeeds by specializing."  Bruce Jenner did not try to win several different medals in various sports.  No, he trained specifically to win a gold medal in the decathalon.

The question I ask myself (and you) is... Are you too involved in "many things" or are you specializing in "one thing"?  If you are like me and are guilty of the "many things" ask the Lord to show you what skills and gifts he has given you.  So you may use that "one thing" to bring Glory to God and to point others to Jesus.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Just Say No - November - Want In? (my version of No Shave November)

Have you ever had a time in your life when there was an overall theme that kept coming up?  It may be in a conversation, it may be at church, it may be in what you are reading or listening to.. but it all is telling you the same thing and you really don't want to hear it.

Well, this is my theme lately (and honestly, I've been trying to ignore it) - JUST SAY NO.  You know the old campaign to stay away from drugs.. well, same wording.. different application.  It first came up in our small group several weeks ago and from my husband (which makes matters worse).  He wasn't talking to me specifically, but to our group. Our pastor asked us how we can be more like Jesus and live our lives to be more like him.  My husband's response.. JUST SAY NO... to ourselves, selfishness, what we want, etc. and focus everything on the LORD and what HE says and what HE wants.

Then I read this blog post.. Just Say No.. which is a great read and something I can't get out of my head. This verse.. Proverbs 26:11  --" As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly" and her saying... "A NO helps you grow" keeps resonating within me.

So here I am today.. I am setting aside this week as my JUST SAY NO week (Monday - Friday)  in November.  It is a take off on No Shave November.  I think I will find this to be just as freeing as not shaving (although I think that is gross).

Here are somethings I am just saying NO to:

1) Spending any money.. not a dime.  I realize that I spend my free time shopping.  Things are so tight with our money right now.. it is definitely something I need to say NO to.  So, no stopping at Sonic, no trips to Target, Hobby Lobby etc.  No eating out. (all my weaknesses when it comes to money).

2) Speaking unkind words.  I don't really yell, but I can snap harsh words with the best of them.  So, I will control my tongue.  You know the old saying.. if you don't have anything nice to say-- don't say anything at all.

3) Eating extra calories.  I realize that I love food.  I love how it tastes. I love to cook. I love how other people enjoy it, but I need to say no!  I have to eat to live.. I don't need to live to eat!

Let us follow Paul and his example: Philippians 3:17-21
17 Join together in following my (Paul's) example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18 For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

So here I start.. want to join in?  What do you need to say NO to this week?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

You are what you THINK

You are what you EAT THINK is a statement I can't get out of my mind.  I was preparing my Sunday School lesson (on beauty) and had this statement in my mind.  The old saying is- you are what you eat.  In reality- you are what you think.  I was afraid I was going down the path of some weird new age thinking so I asked my husband if I was off base with that statement.  His response.. it's Biblical.  Proverbs 23:7 (a) For as he thinks within himself, so he is.

I was reading this blog yesterday, and while it is very short, simple and not at all profound. I haven't gotten it out of my mind.  It may be because I remember sitting where she was about 6-7 years ago.  I remember what was going through my MIND at the time.  The struggle within in that was telling me there was something wrong with me.  No one would ever really love me or want to marry me.  I wasn't good enough.  I remember the tears I cried as I prayed that God would bring someone amazing into my life and that I wouldn't settle for anything less than what God had for me.  It was such a struggle (in my mind).  Now that I look back, I am blown away by the man God has brought into my life.. I really don't deserve him.. but I'm glad I have him!

To go along with everything I have been contemplating about the mind, I have been reading through and studying the book of Philippians.  This book is about JOY and having a single mindset.  Wiersbe describes a single mindset as the attitude that says, "It makes no difference what happens to me, just as long as Christ is glorified and the gospel is shared with others."  The apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians and this was his mindset, but it is SO NOT MY MINDSET.  I wish it was.  I would like to say it was- but when I read Proverbs 23:7 (a) to be completely honest with you.. it is not.  No-- I am more worried about what my house looks like, what people think about me (it is so bad that my husband, in jest, sings "Popular" to me from Wicked), what brand of clothes I wear, being the perfect wife, mom and just being "perfect" in general.  I get discontended ALOT.

So, I come to this quote.. "The unexamined life is not worth living." Socrates.  That is where I have been lately- examining my life.  Who am I really, what do I want?  Am I living for my own selfish gain, to make me known or in a way to make God and Jesus Christ known?  When people look at me, what do they think? Better yet, when I look within my own heart- where are my thoughts and who am I living for?

Then this morning, I woke up in tears... thinking about my own struggles.  Burdened for a family member who struggles with addictions and even after all the help his parents are trying to provide for him has relapsed again.  I think about some other people close to me who at one point in their life had a love for God and really don't care anymore.  I think about all my family members who believe in God, but don't really have a love for him. I think about a friend who lost her father a few weeks ago and doesn't know how to live without him.  I think about friends of ours who seem to have everything- stuff, a beautiful house, wonderful kids and anything money can buy.. but are so unhappy.

Then I realize... you are what you THINK. 

If myself and all these people I am burdend for changed their mindset...

This is what I read this morning (over and over... crying, broken):
Philippians 3:8-9 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. Paul goes on saying ...
13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

I have read these verses MANY times and never have they come alive to me like they have today.  Paul was the "Hebrews of Hebrews" in regards to the law.  Oh I can relate.. I am a seminary graduate, a pastor's wife.  I know how to ACT.  Oh, how I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  May I grow to KNOW him more.  May my MIND be that of Christ Jesus.  May my desire be to make HIM known. 

Thanks for letting me share this today!  May you come to really KNOW Jesus.. He is the only one who can carry us through our struggles and who gives us hope.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Our weekend & another mark of bad parenting... (theme?)

 We had such a great weekend!  It started out on Friday when some of Kate's friends came over to decorate Fall cookies.  They made a HUGE MESS, but had fun!  I am so glad Justin and Allie were there to help me!  Here are some pics..

Friday night Justin and I went to Memphis.  Justin planned this entire weekend on his own - I was so impressed!!  He took me to dinner and to see Wicked.  We spent all of Saturday in Memphis hanging out.  Our life has been so crazy lately.  It was so good, fun and refreshing to get away with just him. 

It also makes me happy that absence makes the heart grow fonder.  My mother-in-law kept Kate and Kate kept telling her that she misses her best girlfriend, her mama.  You have no idea how happy that made me feel!  We are in a stage where she gets A LOT of spankings.  I am always praying for the LORD to give me wisdom as I discipline her.  I am so afraid I am traumatizing her!  At least she missed me when I was gone.

So onto Sunday we go.  We went to church in the morning.  I want to stop and say how blessed Justin is to be working at Central.  The heart our pastor and staff have for people is unbelievable.  They truly love Jesus and people.  It is contagious! 

I'm not the biggest fan of Halloween, but we did dress our kids up, took them to a few houses and passed out candy to the HUNDREDS of kids that came to our house.  It was a little crazy.  Justin's sister and family came over, some of our friends and youth also stopped by.  We had a perfect set up on our front porch.  The weather was perfect!

It was all going great until Kate started throwing up all over our front porch right in front of our big candy bin.  I was holding and feeding John, so I couldn't help her.  Justin (bless his heart) freezes in these situations.  I kept telling him to take her to the side of the porch so she could get sick in the bushes.  He wasn't comprehending what I was saying... so all he knew to do was stick out his hands and try to catch the puke.  I finally told him to put his cup up to her and that worked a little better than his hands.  My friend asked me what I thought it was that made her sick.. my response... "bad parenting" i.e... a little too much candy.

I hope the kids that were coming up to get candy at the same time she was throwing up are not too traumatized.  Kate getting sick in front the candy did not deter them from coming up and getting themselves their candy.  I guess they were on a mission.  Here are some pictures from last night.  (although they are not very good - I didn't take very many pictures and wish I had taken more).

The cutest Mickey ever...

 The cutest Kitty Cat...

All the cousins...
 Kate with Grace...
 John and Kate...

I hope you had a great night last night.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Kate's Costume = sign of bad parenting?

I know that we are probably the worst parents ever because we almost always have the TV on.  I have been trying to be more conscious to turn it off, but we still watch ALOT of TV.  Kate changes what shows she likes, but our TV is almost always on Nick Jr.  (It is seriously the only safe channel to leave on.)  Her show of choice right now.. DORA.  I do think it teaches her some good things, but one concerning thing I have noticed is that she wants dress like the people she sees on TV.  Lately... Kate has to be a cat because Dora dresses up as a cat.  Another favorite show if her is Fresh Beat Band.  One of the girls in there wears a blue dress.  Kate got a blue dress out of her closet the other day and asked me if she could put it on to be like Mirena (girl on the show).  It blows my mind how young they start.  It also makes me realize how careful we (parents) have to be when we consider the things our children are being exposed to.

Kate kept saying that she wanted to be a cat like Dora.. so the other day I got my creative juices flowing and made her a little cat outfit.  It is amazing what Hobby Lobby has in their store.  {CONFESSION:  I AM ADDICTED TO HOBBY LOBBY and I have no hobby and I am not crafty.. yes, it is a problem} Anyway, I think the entire outfit was made in an hour.  (I totally copied an outfit I found online and wanted to buy her, but it was $50 +shipping).  Everything here cost me $15 and I have enough stuff left over to make another one.

Supplies:  Black Onesie, Black tights, Cat Ears, Cat Tail (cut mine out of the craft stuff at Hobby Lobby),  Elastic, Tulle, 1/4 yard animal print fabric.  To make a tutu all you have to do is tie strips of tulle around a piece of elastic.  They sell tulle strips (it looks like really big ribbon).  Cut strips the length you want and tie around elastic -- that is it.. so easy, fast & cheap!  If you want step by step instructions.. leave a comment and I'll try to post them. 

Some pics...

First attempt.. tutu was too long!

 Trimmed tutu and it looks so much better!
 Oooo.. scary cat!

By the way.. to redeem my parenting skills...Kate does LOVE TO READ.  She is always "reading" on her own and asking us to read to her.  Her favorite book is Giraffe and a Half and she practically has it memorized.  I'm just sayin.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Pumpkin Hollow with Kate's BFF

Moving and leaving is friends is so hard.  Finding new friends is even harder.  Our transition to AR has been alot easier than I anticipated.  Please don't get me wrong; it has been hard. I have struggled and cried myself to sleep some nights, but it has been easier than I expected.  The people at Central are so kind, encouraging and generous. 

One HUGE blessing to our family has been this little girl, Grace.  Oh, how that name fits her.  She and Kate share the exact same birthday.  She is so laid back and sweet and Kate LOVES her.  Her parents are so much fun and so easy to hang out with.  They invited us to go to Pumpkin Hollow with them.  We all had a great day! (And thank you to the woman who found my phone & returned it to the PH office.. don't know what I would do without my IPhone!)  Here are some pictures from our day.

Kate and Grace - walking into Pumpkin Hollow
 John is seriously the happiest child alive.. He also enjoyed PH.

 Kate and Grace looking at the flowers...
 Feeding the animals...

 Kate and Daddy
 Her first pony ride...

 Kate with Grace & her sweet family...
 John and Kate..
 Grace and Kate...

  Our family...

A little costume preview tomorrow...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pumpkin Patch & Pumpkin Cupcake Recipe

We went and picked out a pumpkin the other day with our two little pumpkins.  We had a cool spell, but it is hot again and doesn't feel like fall.  We are ready for the cooler weather.  We are somewhat settled now in Jonesboro, and I have been homesick.  I am hoping Justin will let me and the kids go to Florida sometime soon.  We have a trip planned in April, but I don't think I can wait that long.

For a little update.. we are still waiting for our house to sell in NC.  Please PRAY it sells soon!!  Justin is loving Central (the church he is at). 

Kate is as entertaining as ever and we are starting to see John's little personality (happy and laid back).  I can't believe he is 7 months old already.

In honor of the pumpkin patch and the pumpkin shortage of 2009 - I am posting Meghan's pumpkin cupcake recipe.  I have been wanting to make them all year.  I also bought about 30 cans of pumpkin the other day at Walmart.. and my husband thinks I am CRAZY.. and I was trying to explain to him that there was a shortage last year and I don't want to be short of any pumpkin this year.. and he still thinks I am CRAZY!!  Anyway, here is the recipe (and you better stock up on pumpkin).

Pumpkin Cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 package instant butterscotch pudding mix
2 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 T. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground allspice or nutmeg or cloves*
1 cup butter, room temp.
1 cup white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 t. vanilla extract
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin purée

*I am not a very scientific baker... I just dump in whatever fall spices I have on hand. Go ahead. Judge me. I dare you.

For cream cheese frosting (I add a little cinnamon - 2 teaspoons and make cinnamon cream cheese frosting)

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon

Preheat an oven to 350 degrees. Grease 24 muffin cups, or line with paper muffin liners. Whisk together the flour, pudding mix, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger and company (see note regarding spices) in a bowl; set aside.

Beat the butter, white sugar, and brown sugar with an electric mixer in a large bowl until light and fluffy. The mixture should be noticeably lighter in color. Add the room-temperature eggs one at a time, allowing each egg to blend into the butter mixture before adding the next. Beat in the vanilla extract and pumpkin purée with the last egg. Stir in the flour mixture, mixing until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin cups.

Bake in the preheated oven until golden and the tops and spring back when lightly pressed, about 20 minutes. Cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing to cool completely on a wire rack.

For icing, combine all ingredients and spread frosting on top of the cupcakes. Makes 24 cupcakes. (Makes more icing that needed. Darn, I just had to eat it by the spoonful.)

Monday, October 11, 2010

John -7 Months Old today

Please stop time.. it is going by so fast!!  John is 7 months old today.  He is sitting up on his own (for the most part).  He is starting to feed himself, started drinking out of sippy cup and straw.  He LOVES his big sister and smiles every time he sees her.  To Kate he is her "John-John" and doesn't want to go anywhere without him.  Oh, I love them so much!!

Here is his 7 month picture with Mickey...

I also never posted his 6 month stats or his 6 months pictures..  The amazing photographer also got some great shots with John and Kate.

Here they are:

Stats (6 months) (he is our little chunk):
Weight:  19.5 lbs (80%)
Length:  26.5 (55%)

Six Month Pictures:

I have pictures of us at the pumpkin patch.. I am going to post them tomorrow.