Sunday, September 26, 2010

Addie's first youth trip!

Well, two months young or not, our gal went with me to Panama City for our fall retreat yesterday.  She was SUCH a good traveler!  I'm so relieved; Brad and I were a little hesitant about taking her, but I'm so glad we did!  Addison and I didn't do the whole thing: we decided that two nights in a random retreat center on the beach with a bunch of middle and high schoolers may be a bit much.  :)  So she and I were gone for about 24 hours.  I timed when we left so that she'd take her nap while I drove, and we made great time.  She was happy and sweet during the first worship service, and even fell asleep during the sermon.  The kids loved playing with her during breaks, and she napped during the small group sessions.  We even followed the kids to the beach and stayed up late for square dancing!  (By the way, props to John Wiggins for dressing up as "Brad" for the event...  Brad's not exactly a hillbilly, but I definitely got the joke!)
I'm always so thankful that Addison is such an easy baby, but I was especially this weekend.  Chris Brooks, the college minister at Calvary Baptist Church in Tuscaloosa and a friend of ours, was the speaker.  I'm thankful for his gift every time we hear him.  I was in need of a challenging, convicting sermon and worship service, and I got two!  (Well, I missed most of the second one because Addie wasn't feeling too hot, but I heard a good portion.)  Not only that, but at the end of last night's worship time, I saw some of the most beautiful things God designed: kids putting hands and feet and voice to their faith. 
Chris encouraged students (and adults) to vocalize to the whole group some things they needed prayer for, and then had those around them stand to pray aloud and place their hands on them.  There were 5 or 6 groups boldly standing and praying aloud for others... some of the kids were praying for and loving on others who weren't even their friends.  Perhaps as adults we look at that and think it's not much, but it takes guts and faith to do that, no matter how old you are.  The worship leader continued singing and playing, and kids continued praying.  I was moved to tears-not that it's unusual for me to cry, but it was beautiful.  I stood in the back, with my baby monitor to my ear, praying that God would be honored in the aftermath of this retreat.
I'm so proud of many of our youth for their insight in discussion and love for each other.  Over the course of the day I heard several ask questions about how to put their faith into action.  What if we know all about what the Bible says but have no idea what that looks like in real life?  Guess what guys: most adults don't know what that should look like.  We have this picture in our head, maybe, of what our parents' lives looked like, or our youth pastor or something, but that doesn't mean that's what it should look like for you or for me.  This is a process that we must work out individually, for our entire lives. I was honored to be a part of their discussion, and then later to see them act out Christ's love for their peers. 
Here are a few thoughts from the day, from either one of the discussion session leaders or Chris.  I hope they'll cause you to think twice about your own busy life and how you're living it.  I know I am.

What's God's will for my life?  His will is for us to become like Jesus.  We already have instructions for how to do this in daily things-it's called the Bible.  But if we're not obeying Him or seeking Him out in scripture or prayer, there's no reason for God to reveal His will to us any further. 

If you're asking God "What do you want me to do?" perhaps He's asking you what you want... We need to be willing to answer our own questions.

We will be disappointed with our lives if we go through it saying "I wish I had so-and-so's story."  We need to learn how to own our own stories, no matter what crosses we have to bear.

Mother Theresa once said, "I've never had clarity from God... I just trust Him daily."  God's goal is not to give us clarity and purpose, but to develop in us an unwavering faith, so we can become Christ-like.

Many of us would score a 100% on a Christianity test, but have no idea how to commune with God daily. 
*This one hit home with me.

Can I still worship and serve God if all I have is an empty plate?  Can I honestly go through life saying "The Lord gives and He takes away.  In all things, blessed be the name of the Lord."  Perhaps what the world needs to see is more Christians at their lowest point who still praise Him.  ~Amen

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Nine hours and loving it!

Our sweet gal slept nine hours last night!  I, of course, woke up a couple of her "regular" times to check on her.  She just surprised us with it!  Now I'm tired.  How is that possible?  Hopefully this will be a regular thing, and both our bodies will re-adapt, again.  But maybe she was just worn out after yesterday... who knows!

"Mom! These boys have cooties!  Get me outta here!"
We had a "nap date" with the White boys... all three went down after a while and Stephanie and I had some time to ourselves.  When they got up we snapped some cute pictures of them hanging out.  Forgive my active imagination in the captions; I've been around teenager drama for too long...

Addie's all better, but check out Clayton...
making a move already!
Uh-oh!  Now Clayton's upset!
Maybe Addison likes Henry instead?

And Henry, ever the cool, laid-back guy,
gets the girl in the end.  :)
She's bright-eyed and bushy tailed today, though.  I found it hard to get anything accomplished this morning... She wanted to play and I wanted to enjoy her sweet mood!  If I have a kid this happy, who cares if my bathrooms are clean and my plants have been watered, right???

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Words from a friend

This may be random, but below are some meaningful and insightful words that I stole from a perfect stranger...  Anne Morel is my brother-in-law's sister.  Malia told me that Bill's sister is spending the year in Haiti working for a mission organization.  I've been praying for Anne and keeping up with her on her blog.  This post (which I just read and copied immediately because I feel like it is so important for people to remember, especially if they know someone like my husband who works a lot for the sake of others) will hopefully encourage you if you're over-worked and exhaust you, prompt you to pray for someone you know who is, and maybe challenge you in some way. 

In talking about the passage in Mark 5:21-34 (the bleeding woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ clothing):
“Jesus was conscious of God’s power flowing out from Him to the body of the woman who touched His garment. Power that had been His passed from Him to her. It resulted in her healing, but power had to go out from Him first. There is a universal truth here. If you follow Jesus and get involved with the needy people of this world, you will be conscious of power flowing out from your life as well. By definition those in need lack the strength necessary to face the challenges of life. The only way they can get strength or power is from those who have more than they do. Ministering to such people means that power or strength or virtue will flow out from your life to theirs. It will cost you something that you will not easily replace – the very strength of your own life. This truth explains something that many people have puzzled over. When Jesus was finally crucified, why did He die so quickly? The Romans assumed that when they crucified someone it would take 24 to 48 hours for that person to die. But Jesus died after 6 hours on the cross. Why? Was it not because He had spent His life giving Himself for others, and when He finally came to the end, He had given and given and given, and from a human point of view, He had given all that He had? May that not be at least part of the explanation? Sometimes we say, in a sentimental way, that someone died from a broken heart. There is at least this much truth in that statement. When Christ died, he was exhausted from giving Himself to others.

If you follow Jesus, the same thing will happen to you. You will give and give and the power will go out from you. You can help people, but it will cost you something. Not just time, not just energy, not just money, but your very life. Strength will go out from you into the lives of the people you help. They will grow stronger; you will grow weaker. In the end, like Jesus, you too will be exhausted. But at the end of your life, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you lived your life for others and that the strength that has gone out from you has not been in vain.” (quoting Rev. Ray Pritchard)

Romans 15:1 says “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak…” We are to use our strength to shoulder the load of those with less strength, whether spiritual, emotional, or physical. In your service to Christ, in your work in ministry, have you ever felt tired? Not like, I could use a good nap today, but physically and emotionally spent? Physically and emotionally weakened by dealing with others? If you’ve answered yes, excellent. That is, of course, Christ-like. Yeah, I know all the talk about boundaries and the dangers of becoming a workaholic. That’s not the issue today. This is a reminder that it is Scriptural to empty yourself, on behalf of others, when it is done for Christ.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Cultural Christians

Yesterday I started reading Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert.  I've heard tons of great things about the book, and of course Julia Roberts is in the movie and I enjoy just about anything she's in.  So I borrowed the book a month ago and just now opened it up.  (You know... I've got so much free time.) 
Already I've read some interesting, thought-provoking, and heart breaking things.  I had to put the book down after a few pages and come back to it.  She opens to book describing her first experience in prayer being every month when she realized she wasn't pregnant: "thankyouthankyouthankyou."  Thinking back on the past few years, every month I spent praying "pleaseletmebepregnantpleaseletmebepregnantplease..."  Needless to say, I looked up at Brad and said "I have nothing in common with this woman."  The writing is flawless, however, and her sense of humor is witty and slightly sarcastic so I picked it back up and read on.  That's when I got to the sad part. 
(Before I continue, please be advised that I am in no way a book critic, and am only a few chapters into this book.  Take everything I say with the appropriate grain of salt.)
Gilbert describes herself as a "cultural Christian," which of course means that she is not one.  She is not like so many Americans who think that if they simply believe in a Higher Power and pray when they need something they must be Christians.  Instead Gilbert readily admits that her version of "faith" does not recognize that Christ is the only way to Heaven, and therefore she cannot be called a Christian.  I had to step back and appreciate her acknowledgement of that fact, even if I think a life lived so vaguely must be empty and sad.  She describes instances where she prayed, and specific things she believes about God and prayer, but all of it was so non-specific and absolutely devoid of any relationship.  That is the sad part to me.  I simply cannot picture a life where faith is not the background through which you view relationships and situations.  It's not just about fear of Hell.  Don't get me wrong: if that gets people in the door of a church where they can hear the Word and Truth preached, and thereby come to know Christ personally, then great.  But that idea makes being a Christian about death....  Following Christ is about living!  Not just in Heaven with Him for eternity, but from the very moment that we accept that our life is not our own, that we give up control for a life of the very best God has planned for us, a life far beyond what we can imagine on our own.  Is that simplistic of me?  Perhaps.  I never claimed to be overly intelligent.
I spent the evening (and Addison's 3 am wake-up) dwelling on this.  How many hundreds of thousands of people live on the outskirts of Christianity?  Who make the mistake of thinking that if they believe one tiny aspect of our Faith that they will make it to Heaven?  They are simply missing the boat, and don't even know it.  Or how many more are some form of Universalists, who make the mistake Gilbert claims to have made and choose a vague "belief system" that ultimately gets them nowhere?  I think about this sort of a lot, and pray for people like this, especially those in our church and our youth group.  In fact when I see people who I believe to be in this predicament, or read Gilbert's words last night, my heart actually aches for them.  Not as often as it should, mind you. 

I can't remember who sings the song "Hosanna;" I've heard it at youth camps and retreats... the chorus says "Break my heart for what breaks Yours.  Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause...." 
There's another song on the radio (I can't remember the name or who sings it) that talks about seeing and feeling and hearing the world's aches as God must see and feel and hear them.  Oh that this would be our prayer: to not just ache for the salvation of our children and friends, but also for all those around us to have a Relationship with the One who seeks them. 

I realize I set this blog up to update family and friends on Addison.  Oops.  Here's an update: she's as cute as ever, slept through the night 4 nights in a row this week, and has rolled over 3 times since yesterday!  Next thing we know she'll be in kindergarten.  :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Two nights down...

Two nights down.. who knows how many to go?  A couple of weeks ago Addison slept for 6 hours straight for the first time.  Brad and I both woke up to check to make sure she was breathing.  :)  Since then, she's gone 6 hours without eating every 4 or 5 days, but she usually wakes up at least once looking for her pacifier.  Several of those times I wake up around 3am listening for her.  The last two nights, though, we have ALL THREE slept for 6 hours straight!  I feel like a new person!  Addie seems to be more alert and playful, too.  Isn't it so early to be doing that?  I'm sure it won't last, but here's hoping.

Mommies need play-dates too!  Tuesday Addie and I joined some friends for a play-date, but I'm pretty sure the event was more fun for us Mamas than for the babies!  There were 5 mommies, one 16 month old, twin 3 month olds, Addison, and twin six week olds.  Phew!  We were even missing one baby!  Here's a pic from early in the chaos...  How cute?  It was so nice to share stories, hear what other babies are doing at this stage, and laugh with adults!

I never realized what I was missing as a teacher.  Yes, my official day was over at 3, but coaching often made it last till 5 or 6 or later.  The flip side of that early release for most teachers is that you start work early (I was usually there by 6:45), and 20 minutes, at most, for lunch.  This week I enjoyed my first mid-week lunch out with friends!  It was so fun!  I mean, I've obviously gone to lunch with friends before, but always during the summer, or recently with Addie.  We were all baby-less, and sat, talking and laughing until the girls who work had to get back.  I imagine it would really help break up the workday!  I wish there was an opportunity for teachers to do that every once in a while; I'm sure it would make for much more relaxed and rested educators.

I continue to be so thankful for my days!  I can be so much more relaxed and laid back with Addison because we don't have to be on a tight schedule.  On top of that, Brad and I enjoy our time together so much more because one or both of us isn't trying to play "catch up" with the housework, cooking, or shopping for the house after a long day of work.  I admire my friends who are working and being good parents so much... I know it's so difficult to balance all of those different hats!  So, until I have to rejoin the workforce, I'll continue to count my hours of sleep each night, make the most of my "mommy play-dates," and enjoy my evenings with Brad!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Happy Birthday Brad-a-muffin!

He will officially stop talking to me as soon as he reads this title!  That hilarious nickname evolved when we were engaged: Brad kept calling me "Babe-raham Lincoln," which I thought sounded stupid.  I got my then-roommate, Rachel Clay to help me come up with an even dumber nickname, and fortunately she's creative enough to deliver one that's stuck around for almost 6 years!  I think "Bradamuffin" had almost been fazed out, until 2 years ago when I accidentally said it in front of a kid from church.  Thanks to Griffin, everyone around here has heard it or used it in some context.  Haha!  :)
My sweet husband turned 30 today, can you believe it?  Last month, when there was a lot of "what do you want for your birthday" talk, he made it seem like 30 sounded and felt old... now that it's here he acts like it's not.  I don't think it is at all!  I will be 29 in October, and I still feel so young!  Don't get me wrong: we still act old... We are usually in bed between 9 and 10.  When people call one of us after 9 we say "who calls this late?!?!?"  If someone just shows up unannounced, we wonder what's going on like an old person would.  Yes, we're like a couple of 80 year olds... oh well.  We like it that way!
Brad is quickly getting the hang of this fatherhood thing.  He loves to get Addie up in the morning or from naps and play with her until he has to go to work.  It's so sweet to see them together.  She's starting to follow us with her eyes across the room, and it's so precious. 
Happy birthday, old man.  I love you.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our gal is 2 months old!

Two months, 10 pounds, 10 ounces, 22.5 inches long.  Addison had her two month checkup Thursday, which included our first experience with shots.  Dr. White said she's very healthy and growing right where we want her to be; I was very excited.  The shots, however, took their toll on both Mama and Baby!  I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was like she knew she would not like whatever the nurse had on her tray, because as soon as she walked in Addie started crying!  Needless to say, the rest of the day was pretty rough.  She's a trooper though; all three of us went to a football game that night...  The heat, shots, and everything considered, we all enjoyed it.

Speaking of football, it's football season!  This is my first fall in six years not coaching cheerleading or dance team, yet somehow I have still gone to three games in two weeks!  High school football is considerably more fun when you're not in charge of 14-20 teenagers (no offense to anyone reading this; it just adds pressure).  Addison seems to enjoy the games, too, or maybe just all the people to see.  Next weekend will be an entire football adventure: I think Brad and I are going to cart Addison to a University of West Alabama football game to watch a friend of ours play.  It's several hours away, so we may be crazy, but we'll see.

This blog thing is pretty interesting.  It's like writing in a journal, only I keep second-guessing everything I write because people will read it.  Then, of course, I remind myself that I'm not really writing anything of importance or true substance, so who will really read this thing?  I still feel like I need to find a happy medium between pouring my heart out, and writing something boring and empty.  For example, what should I say about myself in the "About Me" space?  Do I write that I am overwhelmed by how blessed my life is?  That I feel completely undeserving of the gift of Brad as my husband and friend?  That when I wake up in the morning I can't wait to play with my precious daughter and see what she will do next?  No... those things are too cheesy and intimate.

My friend Denise laughed at me for listing that Rosco is a "good dog."  Well, he is.  When Brad first got him, before we were in engaged, I was upset about it because I'm allergic to dogs.  In the years since, I've spent more time with him than Brad has.  He's such a good dog.  I read an article a long time ago about how dogs can tell when some thing's changing in their masters by the smell.  I didn't really think much about it at the time, but I believe it now.  Even before my enormous belly showed that I was pregnant, Rosco acted a little different around me.  He always took extra time sniffing pregnant me, and was less impatient with how slow I was as I got bigger!  :)  The first few times I took Addison on a walk with Rosco, he circled her stroller sniffing her like crazy!  Now he just assumes she'll be joining our walk, as if she's been there all the time.  It's so cool to watch!  This week I left Addie with Brad and just took Rosco out, and both times I let him out of the back yard and he roamed around the driveway for a few minutes looking for her and the stroller.  So, Denise, perhaps I should have listed Rosco as a smart, loyal, beautiful, well-behaved, good dog?  Too many adjectives, I think.

Addison is changing every day!  She loves to sit or lay on our bed and check out the ceiling fan or the window.  She loves to be naked!  Even if she's a bit fussy, the moment we put her on the changing table to change her she brightens up.  If I let her hang out in just her diaper for a little while, she is just as content as anything.  Addie is definitely a morning girl, just like her parents.  Sometimes she is awake for a while before it's time to get up, and she lays in the crib or bassinet and coos to herself and wriggles around pleasantly.  She's such a good baby.  I wish I had a video camera to tape these precious times, but I'm pretty sure it would bore anyone else to tears. 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Writer wanna be

I used to want to be a writer. I felt so insecure about this that I'm pretty sure it was one of the few secrets that I kept really well.  :)  As I child I read constantly; when I got in trouble my parents couldn't send me to my room because I loved to sit there and read!  One of my favorite memories of early childhood was in kindergarten when I "got" to stay after school and play in the library with the librarian all by my self until dark; I was such a nerd even then that I thought the entire day was fabulous!  (I found out recently that the reason I did that was because my mom was in the hospital having a miscarriage and my dad was at OCS; it's amazing what kids' minds remember and what they choose to forget.)

My mom might remember that I made a stab at writing once or twice.  When I was in 9th grade we moved from Ft. Bragg, NC, to Bartow, FL.  I wrote in my little notebook the entire drive down there, trying to write something that sounded even remotely interesting.  I think it was something like a memoir... imagine the memoir of a 15 year old!  I kept it for a while.

Lynn & I, 9 years after Baggett's class
Fast forward 4 years to Samford University... Lynn may remember that I wanted to try to writing again.  I'd known for a while that I wanted to teach high school history, but I was so into reading and writing that I decided to take an "Intro to English Major" class with Dr. Baggett.  I believe the only significant things I did that semester were a) go to class a couple of times without brushing my teeth (GROSS!);  b) drag Lynn to class with me-sometimes in her pjs- so she wouldn't fail (and could help me pass); c) took my one and only aderol(sp?) to try to stay up all night to study for the final.  The course (and the aderol) were a mistake, a fact I'm sure Lynn can attest to. 

My other stint at writing has been off and on for forever: my journal.  I don't pour out my heart onto its pages all the time, or even very often.  But when I'm into it, I do it almost daily.  A year ago, for example, I began writing out my prayers.  I had miscarried in March, and everywhere I looked was someone with a baby or someone who was pregnant.  When getting pregnant again became a struggle and my body seemed to not heal properly from the miscarriage, I started praying through the Psalms, calling on God to honor His promises to provide me with peace in the middle of my insanely busy and, what I felt was an insufficient life.  There are pages with entire chapters from Psalms written multiple times, as I claimed Him as my Sustainer and Healer and Provider, and did everything but call God out on giving me the dream of having a family while making me wait.  ("Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.")  Looking back on those months of writing, I see that the time was more about God teaching me to rely on Him completely and trusting Him with everything.  Now, as Brad and I step out in faith as parents, and as a single-income family, I see that, as usual, the Lord was working everything out, especially my heart, for His glory.  I'm like that Caedmon's Call song, where the singer says "those same old struggles are plaging me still."

So, decent writer or not, my prayer for the day and for my life is that I reflect the Lord's work in my life, however embarassing it may seem.  2 Corinthians 3:18 says "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness, with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit."  Addison's new "trick" is mimicking my facial expressions... sometimes when I smile at her she smiles, and when I frown she frowns, and when I open my mouth she opens hers.  We, as children of God, should be doing the same thing.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New at this...

Hello Blogging World, I'm new at this! 
I feel a bit narcissistic here... what do I have to say that could be of any importance to anyone?  In fact - please don't be offended friends - I've made fun of some people for having blogs!  (Not all, just some.)  So feel free to make fun of me for this, to my face or behind my back.  However ridiculous or random, I do enjoy reading what others have to say, so perhaps you will enjoy reading what I have to say every once in a while.  I think it's a little like the pleasure of facebook stalking, but with your permission!    At the very least I figure people can enjoy seeing pictures of the most adorable little girl ever!

Addison Grace was born July 9.  She wimpered when they pulled her out of my stomach, but she cheered up pretty quick.  She looked beautiful immediately!  Addie gets cuter and cuter, and I'm amazed every day by some new thing she sees or does.

I can't express how thankful I am for the opportunity to stay home with her for a while.  I NEVER imagined that I would want to stay at home!  In fact, it was an topic for arguments a couple of times when Brad and I were first married: he wanted me to consider it and I didn't want to even think about it!  I loved my career in education, even on the hard days when I came home crying.  It's amazing how the Lord works to change our hearts about things, isn't it?  I'm loving this while I can, and look forward to how He will direct our lives for the future!
Addison's latest trick: giggling out loud.  How gorgeous is this smile?