Answers to Your Burning Questions...

***UPDATED***  I missed a question that someone left me, so I added it below :)

Ok, here goes...

1. What do you think of the new panel of American Idol judges? And does Steven Tyler make you think of anyone at Grace? 

We LOVE the new judges!  They have made us laugh like crazy and I think they have great chemistry.  Even though it's different without Simon, we really haven't missed him like I thought we would.  Steven Tyler is totally my favorite.  He's hilarious and a little bit of a softy.  Didn't expect that at all.  To answer my friend Darla, who does he remind me of at Grace??  I don't kow, maybe BV??? 

2.  Write an honest message of what you want to say to someone but never could or would. Do this for 5 or more people. These can be as long or short as you like and can be positive or negative or emotional.

Hmm, I'm going to take my own spin on this and answer it this way...

Beth Moore-You are coming to our Church soon and I can't wait!  Also, I want to meet you and I know I can't.  That really bums me out because I just know we'd be best friends :) And I could bring you a Starbucks.  Just saying...
Steve Carell- Please re-consider leaving The Office.  I can't imagine liking it without you.  Although the Will Ferrell guest spot should soften the blow.  But still, can't you just stay till the end??
Praise Baby DVD Creators-Thank you.  Seriously, thanks.  You make a great product and one that I can enjoy listening to.  You have given me hours of time to get things done.  I heart you.
Honda- Would it be possible for you to just give me a new mini-van?  I'd really like to drive one and I'd be happy to thank you publicly.  Do you have any extras you'd like to send my way??
Baby Gap- Do you need any cute models in exchange for free clothes??  I know two of them who would make your stuff look even cuter than it does now.  They aren't too demanding, but a lump sum for their college tuition would be great.  You know, if you're feeling generous :)

3.  How did you lose the baby weight?

So glad I've fooled you!!  Ha Ha :) Thank you for the boost of confidence, but believe me, I've got some ground to cover in that department.  From my pre-baby weight 2.5 yrs ago to my 39 wk appt with Carter, I gained about 40 pounds.  Yep, I just admitted that.  I've lost 20 lbs, but would still love to lose about 15 more.  The very best way to lose it initially is definitely nursing.  Thankfully Carter has helped me melt those pounds away and keeping up with 2 kids under 2 has helped too.  I rarely sit down during the day!  I've had to accept the fact that there is a difference between size and weight when you have a baby.  I will probably never hit my old weight and that's ok.  My body has definitely changed and widened in some places, like my ribcage, that I can't do much about.  But I hope to lose a few sizes.  I've got the worst part of losing weight ahead of me and that's the kind that can only happen via working out and toning up.  So thank you for noticing, but I have no secrets aside from feeding my hungry child and occasionally sweating :)

4.   How many kids do you want? The ideal number for you...?

I'm not really sure how to answer that.  I've always imagined us having 3 or 4 and I think I can safely say that we do hope to have more kids.  We're also not totally convinced that we would never adopt someday, so even if we have 3 or 4 biologically, I think we would be open to adding to our family in other ways if the Lord opened those doors and prompted us.  4 seems nice :)

5.  What is your favorite recipe to make for your family? 
 If you could take a trip/vacation with just Travis, where would you go and why?

I think my favorite recipe to make for us is for fajitas.  I love them and so does Trav.  I've said before that I'm pretty certain the Lord is going to have a fajita bar in my Heavenly mansion for me :) 
Here's my version of what we love...

2-3 chicken breasts, baked and then sliced into strips
Strip steak, broiled or grilled, then sliced into strips.
1 large yellow onion
2-3 red, yellow or green peppers (honestly, I love one of each for the splash of color!)
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
Lime juice
Soft taco shells
Shredded cheese
Salsa, Sour Cream, Guacamole

I saute the onions and garlic first, in lots of butter, then add the pepper strips to saute as well. Lately, I've been throwing the chicken strips into another hot pan, with a little bit of olive oil and a splash of lime juice.  Just enough to brown them a little bit and give them a char-grilled taste.  Just make sure you add enough oil or butter to keep the chicken from drying out.  After a few minutes of browning, I throw all of the chicken in with the peppers and stir it all together for a few more minutes. 

I serve them with soft taco shells, topped with shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa and fresh guacamole.  If we're really feeling sassy, I cut up a fresh lime and we throw it in a glass with some coke :) And because I know someone will ask, I make guacamole a variety of ways, depending on what's in my house.  Usually I
mash up an avacado with a splash of lemon juice, salt, and lemon pepper.  If we have cream cheese, I add some of that too and occasionally a little salsa.  I also love diced tomatoes and cilantro if I happen to have either on hand.

If I could go anywhere with Travis, I think I'd pick Hawaii :) That's a given when you ask me that question, in the dead of winter, while living in Minnesota!  We would love to go there, or just about anywhere tropical, and spend time together.  Just thinking about that makes me smile in fact...

6.  What is your favorite 'Go To' meal at the end of a long day??

I think I could answer that 2 ways.  I usually always have ingredients on hand for spaghetti.  Travis loves it and now so does Ava!  I usually have several kinds of pasta to choose from, some Bertolli sauce, a pound of hamburger and a can of diced tomatoes.  I like it because it's fast, it's easy and you really can't screw it up. 

Now I could also answer that with my favorite "TO GO" meal, since let's be honest, sometimes that is my favorite option after a long day :) We both really like Papa Murphy's Pizza (it's a fresh take and bake place) but we also love a chopped salad to go from Wildfire Steakhouse.  It's amazing and a huge amount of food.  We love that when we think of it! 

7.  How involved are you in your husbands ministry and are you involved in any other ministry roles at your church?

Good question.  My involvement in junior high ministry has definitely slowed way down in comparison to my life before kids :) Since I've had Ava, I no longer lead a small group or go to every Sunday or Wednesday group time.  I do try to go most Wednesday nights, even with both kids, and at least make an appearance.  For one thing, it's a chance for the kids to hang with Travis a little bit and to see him before they go to bed, but it's also a time for us to interact with the students and for them to "watch us."  That sounds odd, but truly, so many of our kids come from broken homes now and there just aren't that many examples in their lives of healthy, Christ-centered homes.  I see that, and being an active prayer partner, as my main role in his ministry now.  Supporting him however I can, while just being a wife and mom, sometimes in the spotlight for teenagers to see.  I try to make most of his events, sometimes with or without the kids and I always check with him about what he'd like for me to do.  Thankfully, he has a youth staff that is both paid and full of volunteers, so I'm free to just be his wife. 

As for other roles at our Church, I'm very grateful that I feel no pressure to be in anything that I don't feel called to.  I am privileged to love my fellow Pastor's wives and to have close relationships with all of them.  We meet once a month and I cherish that time together.  I participate in Tuesday morning women's Bible study and I'm also in a Sunday morning teaching time with other women.  My number one ministry is my own time with the Lord, then with Travis and my kids.  I view these years as my chance to disciple my kids in the Word and train them to love the Lord for themselves.  As much as I miss being involved in certain ministries, or would long to say "yes" to more, I know this is a fleeting season and I have no intensions of missing it.

One of my favorite ministry things that I enjoy so much and I've worked hard to carve out some time for, is meeting with 2 young married women once a week and once every other week.  They come to my house and we study the Word or read through different books together.  It's a time for me to listen and encourage, as well as share some of the things the Lord is teaching me or has taught me over the years or just going to the Bible to see what God says about something.  Discipling another believer is such an intimidating thought and yet, it's so simple and so rewarding.  It's just about doing life together and seeking the Lord for his wisdom in all things.  I love both gals I meet with and we talk about all kinds of things regarding a woman's life, role, call, etc.  It's not an "extra" thing in my life, because they come during the day, in the thick of whatever I'm doing with the kids, or while I'm cooking dinner or if I'm lucky, when the kids are napping :) It keeps me accountable to stay in the Word and gives me some "girl time" too in my week.  It's also a blessing because if I ever need to cancel or re-schedule or take a break for a season, I can do that too.  If you haven't had a chance to do something like that or would love to be discipled, I would encourage you to take the initiative and do it.  That's the hardest part, just taking the first step and doing it :) There are so many older women I look to for wisdom and encouragement as a young Mom and there are also so many younger girls who need a Godly, older voice in their lives...No matter how old you are, there is someone younger than you!  I am thankful for the Church we're in and for the opportunites to get involved, but I'm also loving this season to step back and do things at my own pace, without extra pressure.  I certainly don't always schedule everything perfectly or juggle all the balls without dropping one, but as long as my hubby and kids are getting all of me, than the rest of it is just gravy.  

8.  Do you have any budgeting tips for being a single family income? Ive recently become a SAHM and need all the help I can get :)

Without writing a novel, here are a few things that have helped us.  In no way am I an expert on this, but I've noticed that these things make a difference...

-So much of our "wasted" money was going toward convenience food when we were both working, which worked then but not so much now.  I've been able to spend more time making menus, shopping with coupons, hitting double-coupon days, and just making more things myself.  I cook almost every night, eat leftovers for lunch, bake and plan more than I ever have.  I buy store brands, I make a lot of my menus based on what's on sale and I try to stick to it.  Sometimes the plan goes out the window and that's ok or sometimes  I just get tired and we order pizza!  But being organized and sticking to a simple menu has been a money saver.

-Now that I'm not working and not out as much, we are saving a lot more on gas :) I try to get out with the kids a few times a week, but for the most part, I'm trying to enjoy being home too.  It's easier, it's cheaper and we have plenty of things to keep us entertained. 

-I don't set myself up to spend that extra money we once had by going shopping.  Rarely do I go to the mall or to my favorite stores where I'm known to drop cash!  When I have some fun money here or there or we need something, then I do get out and I truly enjoy myself :) But, gone are the days when I stop by the mall to just "look" or waste some time.  And that does make a difference! 

-I am the one who pays our bills and that also helps me keep a constant reality check.  That has always worked for us since we got married, so now that we're down to one income, it's been good for me to know where we stand.  It's easier to say no to a new purse when I know we have to pay the mortgage this week.

-In a word, the biggest lesson I've learned is CONTENTMENT.  To focus on our needs, instead of a list of wants, has been freeing.  To be grateful for a roof over our heads, cars to drive, food on our table, clothes in our closets and diapers for our kids, makes everything else an extra blessing, but nothing we can't live without.  It's helped me tremendously to also remember that this is a season in our lives. 

9.  What is your favorite time of day?
Naptime!  Ha Ha :)  Actually, I really do love nighttime when Trav gets home and it's just the 4 of us, playing and hanging out.  Fun to be a family of 4, fun to have help with the kids, and more fun when they're in bed and it's just the two of us again...We love to de-brief from our days, catch up on our DVR or more often than not, just get in bed and read a little bit.  Nothing wild and crazy, just normal, ordinary nights are my favorite.

As usual, this is crazy long, but hopefully I've answered your questions as honestly and thoroughly as I can :)
Hope you enjoy the rest of your weekend!  


Q & A Time

Well, the real truth is I'm too lazy to craft a real post today, so I'm taking a little break and hosting another "You ask, I'll answer" post.  You know the drill, leave me a question and I promise to answer it :) Funny, serious, trivial or deep, it's totally up to you!  Somebody get us started and ask me a question...It's no fun unless you play along too! 


Embracing the Messy...

...for the sake of imagination. 
In one of the( many) ways having children has changed me for the better, I am learning if not embracing  the worth of a good, old-fashioned mess. 
Because the sparkle in these eyes makes me want to move Heaven and Earth, I am willing to let things happen under my control that stretch me. 
 Wild crafting.  Marker stained fingers.  Torn stickers.  Broken and un-organized crayon boxes.
 And I love it. 
Mostly because she loves it and I love her.
This girl is learning how to make a mess with the best of her mess-making abilities and I, her Mother, am learning how to enjoy said mess. 
To the best of my control-freak, neat-nick abilities :)
Because the days are fleeting when she'll no longer be able to sit in a basket with her babies.
And who am I to stand in the way of that?
One day my window-sills will be sparkly clean again and not littered with "sleeping" babies.
Two un-interrupted hours to play will be filled with questions like, "Can you take me to the mall?"  "Why is our house the most boring house of all my friends?" and "Can you tell Carter to get out of my room??" 
But not today.
Today, 2 hours were spent in wild imagination.
Making dinner...
Dragging everything out.
Sitting in tents.
Reading books and playing with puzzles.
Today her little light bulb of imagination shone bright. 
 And I drank it in. 
I enjoyed the constant chatter, the role-playing, the dancing, the giggling, the independence.
Today I embraced the mess for the sake of her budding imagination.
And this little smile made it all worth it, don't you think? 

In fact, I kind of can't wait for her to do it all over again tomorrow! 
Even if I'm the one who gets to clean it all up. 
This is personal growth in action friends.
Mine, not her's. 

Praising the Lord this afternoon for a house that is messy, and real, and lived in. and full of LIFE!! 
It's funny how life changes with the seasons. 
I used to love my house when it was pristine and spotless.
Now, not so much...


Preaching the Gospel to Myself, Throughout My Day.

Thanks for all of your sweet comments over the last 24 hours about raising a son!  I am soaking it up and enjoying all of the things you had to say.  I promise I don't sit around and dream of things to worry about, but one thing motherhood has taught me is to draw upon the experience of those who have gone before me or are in the trenches with me!  So thanks and please chime in if you haven't already :) There are a few of us looking for the same advice! 
Ok, as mentioned yesterday, here is my little girly girl in her polka dot bow and red tu-tu!
She is just starting to love the dress up thing and espeically finding ways to imitate me :)
 Or in this case, her Texie!  She loves to walk around in her glasses :) I'm thinking it will be fun to buy her some real dress up stuff for her birthday in April.  She already tries to wear my shoes and loves it when I give her a necklace to play with, so I know she'll just love those plastic heals and feather boa that all little girls like to play with!  She is so fun right now.  Her language skills have practically exploded over night and she is just talking or singing a mile a minute.  Also REPEATING what she hears...Yikes!  Trav and I have caught ourselves several times saying things that we throw around so casually and quickly realizing, there is probably not a lot of value in her learning that :) Anyway, welcome to the new phase of in our life! 
Ok, so I picked up this cute sign for Carter's room the other day and in light of my post yesterday, I thought you might enjoy it!  True, right??  I'm embracing the mud already :)
 Even if it's written in glitter, ha ha!! 
Now check out that cute, little snuggly bear!  Can you stand those big lips and that little mouth??  He looks like Travis in lots of ways, but he is also a lot like Ava at this age. He has more hair and it's darker, but his eyebrows are looking like her's and that chin, those cheeks, that nose....oh I can't get enough of him!  His head is for sure the same size as Ava's right now :) No wonder I had to have a c-section!!  That big melon was stuck like glue trying to come out! 

We have enjoyed having Trav's Mom with us for a few days.  She braved the cold and has given me a second set of arms to help with all kinds of things around here.  Yesterday I got the gift of several hours out by myself, which I thoroughly enjoyed.  I am working on getting Carter to take a little formula here and there, so that I can be a little bit more free.  He's getting there, but he's made it clear that he enjoys me most of all :)  It was at this point that I started to struggle a little bit with Ava and the fact that I could never get away without bringing her with me or only being gone for an hour or two.  It's still kind of a mental hurdle, breastfeeding does have a little bit of a suffocating aspect to it, but I think I'm doing a little bit better with Carter this time.  I have the benefit of knowing that it's only a season and really, it's a very short season.  As much as I was ready to leave breastfeeding behind with her, there were also times that I longed to go back to those early days.  I'm taking deep breaths with Carter and trying to just enjoy the ride :) But believe me, I do love a break when I can get one! 

I will say that the Lord has really been gracious to me this winter.  I am home so much, sometimes for days on end, and He has really helped me be thankful for that and even enjoy it.  Other than Tuesday mornings when I get dressed for Bible Study, I basically wear a different turtleneck and a different pair of pajama pants everyday!  And I love it :) The walls have not felt like they are caving in and we have been able to find plenty of new things to do everyday.  I know when Spring comes I'll probably be ready to get OUT a lot more, but for now, I really love being home with my babies.  The second verse that I chose for my SSMT this month is from Hebrews 10:35-36 and it is the truth I have set my heart on.  In this season of intense parenting and little time to myself, it says...

"So do not throw your confidence away, it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised."  Hebrews 10:35-36

Here's how those verses are rocking my world.  As a Mom, it's easy to lose your confidence.  So many times during my day I wonder, "Am I doing the right thing here?  Should I have just answered Ava that way, or let Carter cry, or insisted she eat her whole lunch, or made him endure tummy time??"  Ha Ha :) Some of those little things can feel so HUGE in the moment.  But these verses (and the previous few) remind me that my confidence is in Christ and His work on the cross, and that confidence and faith will be richly rewarded.  Do you need a confidence boost??  Here's a great promise from the Lord that tells us we can bank on it :)  My confidence is not wrapped up in me or my parenting skills.  It has to be wrapped up in Christ and Christ alone because on my own, I will fail every single time. 

I am learning some great truths in several of the Bible studies I'm in right now and it always amazes me how the Lord will repeat different themes in your life to really drive home something He wants you to know.  A book I am reading right now, "The Discipline of Grace" by Jerry Bridges, says to constantly preach the Gospel to yourself and I love that.  Sometimes we get so hung up on doing this, that and the other in the Christian life, that we forget the simple and POWERFUL truth of the Gospel.  When we feel condemned and feel like a failure, we can preach the Gospel to ourselves and remember that Christ came to pay the penalty for our sin.  It's done.  Covered.  He does not see us through a lens of failure, He sees us through the covering of Christ's blood and therefore, we are justified before him.  There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ!  Or when I feel overwhelmed and like there is no answer or deliverence in sight, I preach the Gospel to myself and remember that I have put my trust in a God who has been resurrected!  He's not dead, He is alive!  He took on sin, conquered it and overcame death!  There is nothing that is impossible with Him and nothing His death didn't cover.  That's the Gospel.  And I'm working on preaching it to my own heart every single day.  Because faith doesn't come easy and Satan loves to derail any progress we think we've made.  So I love these 2 verses in Hebrews because God tells me to not throw my confidence away, and I'm trying not to.  The Gospel is rich in love, mercy and grace and it's also bankable.  And in this economy, who doesn't need bankable?? 

But I also love the second part of these verses because they tell me to persevere...And Lord have mercy, what Mom doesn't need that word of truth spoken into her day??  When you have no patience and it's 9 AM, persevere. When the laundry is spilling over, persevere.  When the fridge is empty and the grocery store seems exhausting, persevere.  When the kids are fighting and your husband is away, persevere.  Or when the baby is crying and you don't know what else to try, persevere.  And why??  Because when we have done the will of God, we will receive what He has promised.  The will of God for me in my own life, is to love the Lord my God with all my mind, soul and strength.  To obey His Word.  To respect my husband.  To love my children.  To serve my family.  To and share Christ and when necessary, to use words.  When I have persevered in these things, I will receive what He has promised me!  And He has promised much.  A place to take my burdens and lay them down.  Peace that passes all understanding.  Rest for the weary.  A hope that is an anchor for my soul.  Blessing that comes from obedience.  A God who never leaves me or forsakes me.  An inheritance that will never fade and a place that is being prepared for ME. 

Oh there is so much that is hard about this life, about being a Mother.  But there is so much more that is do-able because of Christ and because of His Gospel power in my life.  I'm hoping that if you are like me and you need a healthy dose of perspective, you'll remember to stop those thoughts that often spin out of control in our minds and instead, counter them with the TRUTH and simplicity of the Gospel.  It is everything we need for life and Godliness and that my friends, is enough for me. 

Happy Tuesday and Happy Mothering :)


Mommy's Little Boy

***Edited to add:  These are GREAT!!  Thanks for sharing with me, please keep it up :) I love reading all of your thoughts and your wisdom.  It's fun to see so many of these things repeated and I now know some toys that I need to stock up on!***

So on this Monday afternoon, I've been thinking.
About lots of things, but mostly my kids. 
Specifically, Carter.
There is something sweet and unknown and challenging and wonderful about having a son.
I thought the same thing about having a daughter but it wasn't quite so daunting to me, because I am also a girl.  I was raised with girls.  I "know"the world of girls :)
 But, to be the Mom of a darling daughter and now a precious son...Sometimes the wonder of it all stops me in my tracks. 
For the last few days, I've just been contemplating the grace shown to me in the gift of Carter.   Not that I don't feel that same grace in the gift of my daughter, but because I am not a man and now I've been chosen to raise one, I suppose it is a little different.  I suppose I feel a little like Travis must have felt when Ava was born.  An overwhelming sense of, "now what?" 
 In many ways, my kids are alike.  Babies are babies, no matter what their gender and yet, there are already differences that are beginning to surface.  Thankfully I have a husband, a Dad, brother-in-laws and of course, The Lord, to draw upon.  But none of them are ever going to be what I am. 
Carter's Mom.
Yep, there are differences.
Differences that I am embracing and lessons that I am learning. 
This morning, I watched Ava skip around the house in her red tutu, singing and dancing and picking up her babies every so often to hug and kiss and feed.  As I smiled watching her, I thought to myself, "I get her."  I did the same thing as a little girl and honestly, if I had a red tutu myself, I just might consider giggling and dancing around the house today too :)
But then I looked at Carter, dressed in his blue and brown, and wondered....
"What are you going to be into little guy?" 
I know you'll sing and you'll dance and you'll run around the house, but I doubt you'll be in a red tutu!
I know you'll like some of your sister's toys and inevitably will be subjected to more pink than you might like, but what will you spend your free time doing?  Will you crash trucks into each other, take things apart, make lots of noises and climb like a monkey with no regard for safety?
Or will you love to draw or read or build things?  
Maybe? Or maybe not. 
I do know that God designed you and created you and crafted you to be someone special.  Someone unique.  Someone with purpose. 

As I've thought about being Carter's Mom and what that's going to look like, I think God has really impressed upon my heart a desire to know each of my children and a longing for the wisdom to help them become who God created them to be.  Not who I think they should be or what the world prefers, but who they are.  Who Carter wants to be.  I will admit, there is immense pressure when I think about the ramifications of my mothering.  Someday, Carter will hopefully be someone's husband, father, co-worker, friend, etc.  How I've modeled motherhood and feminitity will play a big role in how he responds and reacts to the women in his life.  That's daunting. 
But it's also a long way from today.  And today, I'm learing to take all of this one stage at a time.  To trust God in the details and to rely upon Him for the big stuff.  For the unknowns. 

I love having a son!
I love the invasion of blue in my world and the loud grunting noises that are often coming from my son's mouth.  I love the way his face resembles his Daddy's and the way he bats those big blue eyes at me.  I love that he lights up when I smile at him and that it only takes seconds for him to relax in my arms.
I love being Carter's Mom. 
(And so that there is no confusion, I also love being Ava's Mom!)  

Now, I'd love to hear from you today about raising a son! I had a zillion baby showers for Ava and got lots of those notecards with "advice" about having a baby or raising a daughter.  I love those things!  But Carter came quickly thereafter and I didn't need any more showers, so I missed out on those for him. So today I'm wondering, would you help me?  Will you give me  your best advice, some observations you've made, things you wish you'd done differently or tips you've picked up along the way?  Funny, serious, long or short, I'd love to hear it.  If you're a lurker, will you de-lurk just for today?  :) I'm enabling anonymous comments on this post to make it easy for you...

Thanks for chiming in, I know I'm going to love reading these! 


Texie's Here!

 In addition to the below freezing temps that flew in this weekend, so did Texie!  She got here today and will be able to spend the next few days with us :) Ava was very excited, as we've been telling her for a few days that Texie was coming.  When I woke her up from her nap this afternoon, I asked her, "Do you know who is here Ava??"  She thought for a second and then said, "Tessie??"  And when I brought her out to the living room she happily exclaimed, "Hi Tessie!" 
Carter also woke up to Texie, and although he doesn't know her face yet, he was still all smiles!
We're going to do our best to keep Texie warm while she's here...The Texas heat she left behind is not exactly like the Minnesota cold that we are sharing with her!  However, I have a feeling one of these two little people will be in her arms at all times, if not both of them.  And that is really the best way to stay warm, don't you think? 

Hope you are having a great weekend! 



Carter, didn't you get my memo???
How are you possibly old enough to be in the johnny jump-up already??? 
I know, I know...Daddy was right. 
It was time to try it out and much to my surprise, you LOVE it!!
It makes us laugh to see you in there, you're still so tiny to be in such a big doorway!
Clearly, you have such a good time hanging out, so I guess you must think this is going to be part of your new daily routine??  Alright, fine....

But for the record, it doesn't mean I'm happy about it.
Ok, I'm happy about you being happy, but not about you growing up. 

I think you need to just cool your jets and stay little for a few more months, Ok??

What??  What's that you said??
Hmmm, I'm pretty sure you just giggled. 
That is NOT what I meant when I said STOP GROWING UP!!!  :)


With a Pit in My Stomach...

It's with a great pit in my stomach that I'm writing this.  We recently signed up for netflix, which we love, and my favorite thing so far are the endless documentaries that we have at our fingertips.  I'm always fascinated watching anything about the government or about biographies.  I've watched several on the FBI, the Secret Service, Special Forces, Air Force One, The White House Photographer (so great!!), Lebron James' story (also fascinating), The NFL Draft, and there are many more waiting in my instant list. 

Today, I sat down with Carter and scrolled through the list, stopping on one title that I knew would be insteresting, if not gut wrenching.  It's called "Jesus Camp" and here is the Wikipedia description of it:

Jesus Camp is a 2006 American documentary film directed by Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing about a charismatic summer camp, where children spend their summers learning and practising their "prophetic gifts" and being taught that they can "take back America for Christ."[1] According to the distributor, it "doesn't come with any prepackaged point of view" and tries to be "an honest and impartial depiction of one faction of the evangelical Christian community".[2]
Jesus Camp debuted at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival, and was sold by A&E Indie Films to Magnolia Pictures. Several television news programs and print media articles discussed the controversy surrounding the film in 2006.
On January 23, 2007, Jesus Camp was nominated for the 2006 seventy-ninth Annual Academy Award (Oscar) for Best Documentary Feature.[3] It lost to Davis Guggenheim and Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.

I don't know what to even say after watching it.  Have you seen it??  I have so many things running through my mind and I could probably write a book on each point, but for the sake of both of us, here are some bullet points...

  • My take so far, is that it's a horrifying thing to watch adults, specifically Church leaders, pervert and abuse the Gospel with children.  And all in the name of Jesus of course.  And it's no small sin in his eyes.  Here is what He has to say about that:  Mark 9:42, "And if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would better for him to thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around his neck."  To add to the Gospel, indicating that there are works that have to be done in order for salvation to be granted, is wrong.  It's a perversion of truth and there is a great penalty in the eyes of God.  To manipulate a child, to prey on their emotions and to brandish them with GUILT that is never from the Lord is reprehensible. 
  • It is our responsibilty as parents, to know WHO is teaching the Word to our children and WHAT they are teaching.  And I say that as a Pastor's wife.  Do not trust the words of men as TRUTH, check it and weigh it against the Bible.  That is our standard of truth.  Don't let anyone and everyone tell your child what to do and how to do it.  Check in regularly with your kids' leaders and teachers.  Ask questions, participate, talk to your kids about what they are hearing and learning.  Don't assume that someone else will raise your child for you and don't leave their spiritual training up to the Church alone.  God gave them to YOU to raise.  Be the parent.  Point them to CHRIST in all things and be wise about where you worship.  If it's not in the Gospel, don't fall for it. 
  • As the wife of someone who has given his life to love, teach, and share Christ with teenagers, and with great humility and obedience to the Word, it bums me out when all Pastor's get swept under the rug with the few who are outspoken and flat out wrong.  The crazy few do not represent the faithful many. 
  • Heaven help us if this is what the world thinks of the Church and more importantly, what they think of Jesus.  While there are some people featured in this film who said things I agreed with and whose hearts I have no right to judge, there are of course extreme examples of people who are sold out to a theology that is not rooted in scripture.  It has nothing to do with Jesus and His Word, and yet, they go around using His name to advance their agenda.  How often has history misrepresented Him and worse yet, has his own Church credited things to Him that have nothing to do with Who HE says He is.  I would imagine those are the things that must grieve His heart because they grieve mine. And yet,  Lord don't let me think I'm above doing the same thing...Keep your Word before me and help me to weigh all things in light of YOUR truth, not mine. 
Having said all of that, I am still struck by the irony of this movie and the truth of 1 Corinthians 1:18..."For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God."  Not everyone will choose to believe the Gospel and to those who don't, it's foolishness.  Much like this movie portrays Christians.  The Gospel is radically simple and it is offensive at it's core.  To believe that we were born with a sin nature, that we cannot approach a holy God because of the sin we have and that without Him, it's a problem we can't resolve is offensive.

HOWEVER, to know and believe that God did not leave us without a rescue plan, that He chose to humble himself and come to earth as both God and Man, so that he could die in our place is radical. Furthermore, to also believe that he died to take the penalty of our sin upon Him, only to raise to life after three days, conquering death and sin forever, is far too simple.  Isn't it??  No wonder our human nature always wants to add to it.  To assign some kind of "works plan" that would make it seem like we might deserve even some of it.  And yet, the radically simple part about it, is that it's available to ANYONE who is willing to believe it and take it.  No matter who you are, no matter what you've done, and with no works required to earn it, He died for YOU.  Without Jesus, we have no way to the Father.  He is the way, the truth and they life. (John 14:6).  He is the great rescuer, sent from our loving Father. 

But in order to be rescued, it does require a belief that you need rescuing.  And simply put, many people can't get past that.  So, to those who don't believe, this whole "christian" life and this entire way of thinking is foolishness.  But to those who do believe in Christ and in the truth of His word, and to those who have staked their eternity on the life, death and resurrection of Christ, it is LIFE. 

It was an eye-opening film and one you might consider watching...I will say, some of it is nauseating because it's such a distortion of truth and to see kids being manipulated to believe, is sobering. But it's a reminder that we don't have to "manipulate" people into becoming Christ followers.  He is the draw alone and He does the work of salvation anyway, not us.  So, that's my initial take on this movie, but don't just take my word for it, watch it yourself and come to your own conclusion.  I know this is a diversion from my usual recipe posts or updates on how much my kids weigh :) But it's on my mind today...

So, have you seen it??  What did you think??


Winter Survival

Last week, I watched the movie "New in Town" for the first time.  Not sure why I didn't see it sooner, but I didn't.  If you've seen it, it's set in northern MN in a tiny little town called New Ulm.  It's full of Minnesota "culture" and probably makes living her look like a death sentence.  Much of it takes place in the bitter part of winter, which is exactly what we are in right now. It's officially "bitterly cold" out today.  Anyway, I laughed at how extreme the sarcasm was about Minnesotans who scrapbook, bake, and go ice fishing.  "We aren't that crazy" is what I thought in my head!  And then, I got an email regarding some details about my annual scrapbook weekend, I pulled some cookies out of the oven, and Travis walked in the door to inform me he was going ice-fishing with a friend that night...

Apparently we are a little more "stereotypical" than I realized! 

Winter will test even the most seasoned Minnesotans' inner strength and resolve.  When it is downright frigid outside, it takes great creativity to pass the days without losing your mind or sinking into a seasonal depression.  "Inside activities" become the name of the game and for me, I enter into a phase of de-cluttering, cleaning, re-organizing, re-decorating, cooking, baking, etc.  I could give you a lengthy list right now of every home project I'd love to do this year, simply because I've been staring at the walls, dreaming about it while the cold winds howl outside.  Every time Travis walks in the door from work, I'm trying some new recipe or have something "fun" for us to make together that night!  Ha Ha, maybe the "fun" is only in my head, but it's my way of coping people and I'm getting really good at it! 

This weekend, I thought our holiday weekend should include some family time making snowflake sugar cookies.  Because I have a sweet and very patient husband, who enjoys the fruit of my labor,  he went with it.  Obviously our kids are not nearly old enough to care or appreciate what I had planned, but we did it anyway!  Ava sat at the table while I iced these cookies and watched me with great curiosity...and the occasional nibble of a cookie :) Travis entertained the troops through my "crucial stages" and I exhasuted myself trying to create snowflakes and perfect my art of cookie decorating!  Nothing says "Happy Birthday MLK" like "I have a dream of making really cute cookies", right??  I kid, I kid...

Anyway, here is the finished product that took me all weekend to complete :)
Cute, huh??
As I told Travis upon closer inspection, I learned several things.  They include:
-I'm in no danger of stealing any business from local bakeries.
-I need a smaller tip for my pastry bag.
-My white icing needs to be thicker next time.
-It's best to just follow the directions on the back of the food coloring box. 
(hence the "plum" cookies, rather than the bright purple I had planned)
Some were cute...and some were, well, not

But, they taste good and we've all enjoyed eating too many in one sitting!  I'm dreaming up ways to make some cute valentines versions that we can take to the neighbors.  I might gain all the weight I'm trying to lose, but at least my sanity will be in tact! 

 Now if you'll excuse me, I have some serious work to do for my scrapbook retreat coming up!  I've got pictures to organize, order, print, and gather as well as accessories to dig through. My babies are growing too fast and I'm so far behind it stresses me out!  Maybe if I spent less time in the kitchen...???

 It's lots of fun, this life I lead! 

O, ya, you betcha! 


Sunday After Church

When I was growing up, we spent almost every single Sunday afternoon at my Grandma Ferguson's house.  We all went to church and then over to her house for a big Sunday lunch.  My Grandpa died before my parents got married and my Grandma was a widow for more than 25 years, so to have her little house full of family every Sunday was precious to her.  Some weeks we went straight to her house but most of the time we stopped at home first to change our clothes.  The weeks that we went straight to her house, she always made a big deal about how dressed up my sisters and I were and how much she loved our little dresses.  We took pictures, because it was usually a holiday, and she always laughed about how she had food on her blouse from cooking, or didn't have lipstick on or her hair was a mess :) I can close my eyes and hear her go on about it.  Although she had lots of grandchildren, my sisters and I were the only ones who lived close so we saw her all the time and knew her very well.  And we loved her.  Dearly.  She lived to be 92 and died just a few months before Travis and I got married.  She never got to meet him, but I did show her a picture of Travis when we were just starting to date and she smiled and said, "Oh Stephy, he's very handsome.  I think he sounds just wonderful."  I'm sad that she didn't get to know him, she would have loved him and I'm also sad that she didn't get to see my kids, she would love them too!  In fact, Ava is named after her.  Her middle name Page, was my Grandma's maiden name.  That would have thrilled her to know that we choes that!

Anyway, I've been thinking about her a lot today because it was her birthday and she would have been 100 years old!  Thankfully, I know she is with Jesus and I know I'll get to see her again someday.  In honor of my Grandma, I thought I'd post some pictures of my kiddos after Church on Sunday.  Although we don't have a standing Sunday lunch anymore, there are many weeks I miss that.  It was a sweet memory.  But, I'm thankful for the memories we are making now with my own little family and as I pulled out my camera to take these, I thought of her.
My Grandma would have loved these little cuties  :)
I'm a sucker for a jumper, just love them on Ava!
Even Carter had on a big boy outfit, you just can't tell yet :)
Ava, do you want to hold your brother?
(I think our hearts were melting as this unfolded!)
Can you give him a kiss??
How about a hug?
Gotta love a big sister and her method of showing love!
The boys
The girls
Craning his neck to watch the football game with Daddy :)
Must have been a good game, he obviously couldn't keep his eyes off it!
Does this look comfortable to you??  Nope, I didn't think so either.
It is a nice view of all that hair however!
Ava, clearly over the photo shoot and doing what she does best, scrolling through videos of herself on Trav's phone!
Grandma wouldn't know what to do about that!  Ha Ha :)


3 Months Old

Although I'm a few days late in posting this, Carter you are already 3 months old!!
Your growth spurt has evened out a little bit, but you are still one solid little boy!  Most people guess that you are much older because of your hair and your size, but we just like to think that you are bulking up for all those sports you're going to play someday :)
At 3 months old...
-You wear a size 2 diaper
-You wear size 3-6 month in clothes
-If I had to guess, you probably weigh about 15 lbs and I know you've gotten longer because lots of your pants are suddenly too short :)
-You eat every 3-4 hours during the day
Carter at 3 months old you have definitely transitioned from a newborn to a baby.  You are doing so many things now that we remember doing with your sister!  You are awake a little bit more now during the day, so we've started to introduce you to some new toys.  You are not a big fan of "tummy time" but Mommy tries to make you do it anyway :) I usually end up laying on the floor making goofy faces at you instead!
This month you seem to have found your voice Carter!  You love to coo back at us when we talk to you and Daddy has even made you giggle a few times too, but you've also developed an ability to yell.  And you're very good at it :) You yell when you're mad, when your diaper is dirty, when you want some attention and when Mommy is switching sides to feed you.  We can't believe how LOUD you can yell, but I guess you must want to make sure that we don't forget about you :) No worries buddy, we won't.
Your hair is still your most talked about feature!  Although you have maintained a definite faux hawk, it's gotten extrememly long and much lighter.  We try and try and try to comb it all kinds of different ways, but that faux hawk is oh so natural :) It just falls right back into place.  And let's be honest buddy, we love that about your look!  You're very easy to spot in the Church nursery!
You have begun to notice things that are in front of you, like the toys that hang from your playmat or the stuffed animals hanging from your swing.  You lock eyes on whatever it is and within seconds we find you grinning and smiling at your new toy and then reaching out to grab it.  I'm sure you'll get better and better at it this month and I'm also wondering if you'll even roll over too??  You are getting very close and when you're flat on your back, you love to arch your back and turn your head and shoulders as far as you can in one direction.  We've seen you come so close many times, I'm thinking it's just a matter of time before you've got it!
Because your neck muscles have gotten so much stronger, we've even tried you in the excersaucer a few times!  You like it for about 5 minutes and then you begin yelling until I take you out :) Ava does not know what to think about your yelling, but she loves to show you all of the toys that she once loved too!
Mostly though, you are very, very chill Carter.  You love to sit and watch the chaos of your sister and the dog, while sucking on your paci and taking it all in!  You're officially too long for your bouncy seat now and it won't be long before you're too long for the swing too! 
You've got several of these soft, little animal blankies and you LOVE to have them near your face when you are trying to go to sleep.  You hold them close to you and rub them over your eyes, it's so cute and it works like a charm for you :)  As you've gotten older, you've really fallen into a nice routine.  You are sleeping through the night and have been for awhile.  We put you to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 and you sleep until 6:15, just like clock work :) After you eat at 6, you go right back to sleep for a few more hours, and so does Mommy-thank you very much!!  During the day you nap about 3 times for an hour or two every time.  You are pretty predictable and Mommy appreciates that about you!
You are looking more and more like Daddy and I love it! 
You guys are my two blue-eyed boys :)  
Carter, you are just as sweet as can be and we love you so much buddy!  These last 3 months have been full of such JOY for us because you have added that JOY to our lives.  Your big sister is crazy about you and so are your Mom and Dad.  I love spending my days with you and I love the times we get to cuddle and snuggle together.  I'm treasuring this time with you Carter. 

We love you with all of our hearts!
Happy 3 Months :)