Hanging On By a Thread

Oh, friends...don't exactly know where to start...

Today is one of those blogs that is partly an excercise in working out my faith, and partly just a way to fill in lots of friends and family who are wondering what on earth is happening in our world. 

Because let me tell you, without saying this flippantly or casually, these last few weeks have felt like our world has been shaken upside down.  I write that and feel like I have to issue a disclaimer that acknowledges no, thankfully we aren't dealing with cancer or unemployment or death as I know there are many people who are.  I don't want to compare our situation to theirs, because it's apples to oranges, BUT I do think it's ok to just call something what it is without always apologizing because it's not as bad as it possibly could be.  Does that make sense?  We don't have to have the most extreme of circumstances to warrant it "officially hard."  Sometimes daily life and the millions of little things that stretch us or fail us, is just flat out hard. 

In a short synopsis, here are some things on my plate that are making life hard to swallow...

-I've blogged about this before and haven't mentioned it for awhile, but an on going struggle for us is finding contentment in this condo (that we own) as our family grows and our square footage shrinks.  Without delving into the depths of what that looks like, I'll save a further explantation for a future post.  However, in general I could sum it up by saying that we are outgrowing this place and have been unable to do anything about it, due to the market that everyone else is suffering from as well.  I'm sharing this, not asking for opinions or advice, believe me we've been down lots of roads and have sought lots of advice.  For now I'll just tell you in short, we need to stay put.  After recently consulting with our realtor again, it's just not a likely scenario that we can do anything about, other than lay it at the Lord's feet and trust Him to move us when it's best for us, in the way that's best for us, in the timing that He chooses.  It's not the end of the world, but believe me when I tell you that there are many days I have to FIGHT for some form of contentment and joy, when I just want to throw up my hands and cry.  It's a season that we find ourselves in and although it's not always easy or what we imagined, we are grateful for a roof over our heads and for ALL of our needs that are met here.  Because they are met in this condo.  Most of what I'm talking about has to do with preferences and dreams and probably til our dying breath, those will always be struggles to keep in perspective...But in a world of buying "bigger, better, newer, etc." it's a challenge to not let the enemy take over our thoughts and deceive us about all that we are "missing" or all that we "deserve."  Or harder still, all that our" kids deserve." 

-In the last 3 weeks, we've moved steadily from teething, to double ear infections, to staples in Carter's head, to...I can't believe I'm going to say it...lice.  Yep.  L.I.C.E.  Hence the silence from me.  Hence the "hard 3 weeks" twitter.  Hence the migraine.  Every Monday for the last 3 weeks has been a disaster of some sort.  The normal busyness, stress of everyday life with a 2 year old and 1 year old is enough.  But add ear infections, staples and now lice to the mix and I'm sure you can understand why I feel like I've been hit by a truck.  These recent weeks keep bringing wave after wave of unexpected stress and I'm having a hard time recovering from this last week.   I know you're all still hung up on the fact that I just typed the "L" word, admitted we had it and now you're all itching your heads after reading that (you're welcome)...You can probably imagine the HORROR we felt when we discovered it early Monday morning on our sweet Ava's head.  Ava who bathes everyday, who wears clean clothes, who doesn't swap hats or hang with sketchy friends :) Ava who crawled in my bed to lay down with me on Sunday afternoon and passed the lice onto ME as well.  Uh, huh.  The plot thickens.  I do plan on posting a PSA about lice soon because I have just received an incredible education about ALL THINGS LICE related.  I'll tell you the nitty (ha ha) gritty details soon, but I'm happy to say that we are SURVIVORS of this and we spent a good chunk of money and time at a lice salon, I know...who knew they existed??  We got every last nit and have seen no evidence of anything left, but unless you've gone through this, I don't know that I can accurately describe the stress and work involved in tearing apart your house (and lives) to take care of this.  It's unreal...I promise, I share the details and answer your questions about it, but don't have time in this post.  We don't know where she got it or anyone who has it, but all likely signs point to Church.  Either a child or worker in the nursery or a student who held her.  We've had to come to terms with it, like or or not, and remember that this stuff just happens and we can't control everything that comes our way.  Again, future post coming...

-Perhaps the straw that broke the camels back has to do with the fact that through all of this, I've had no washer or dryer for a solid two weeks now.  It started smoking while it was running one morning, which led to a service call and then the diagnosis that it was not worth repairing.  Unfortunately for us, we had a one piece laundry center (stackable washer/dryer) that we inherited when we bought this condo, and so when one part goes the whole thing has to go.  So, we went shopping last week and bought a brand new set of front-loaders that we could stack.  We were excited to upgrade and have been anxiously awaiting their delivery, which happened yesterday.  The day after the lice discovery, when suddenly my 4 or 5 loads became about 10.  So when the truck pulled up in the morning, I was thrilled!  Until...Two problems arose.  The first is that they FORGOT the stacking kit (it was an excercise in keeping my testimony upon hearing that news) and therefore couldn't stack them or hook them up for another day, today.  Secondly, and more importantly, after pulling the old center out they realized we were missing an outlet.  Not a fancy, dryer specific outlet, we have that one.  Just a normal, regular outlet that we would now need for our new washer.  Seriously, I thought I was going to burst into tears.  Not what you want to hear when you are already weeks behind in laundry AND you have a lice issue hanging over your head.  Literally.  So anyway, we called an electrician yesterday (our neighbor) who wired the building when it was built.  He's done work for us before and we assumed it would be no big deal.  Bad assumption.  He's coming tonight to check it out, but essentially he warned us that it could actually be a pretty big deal and he's not even sure it's possible.  Let me sum this up for you.  We have a brand new washer and dryer sitting here, that we can't hook up, isn't stacked, and we may not be able to use.  I have to make a million phone calls today about what to do if we have to return them, which makes me cry at the mere thought.  We have no idea what we'll find out from our electrician friend or more urgently, what it will cost.  I have never in my life wanted to do a load of laundry, in my own home, more.  It's unbelievable how frustrating this has become and how disappointed we are at every turn. 
And the timing is oh so...rotten. 

In our minds. 

And that's key. In. OUR. Minds

These last few weeks and last few days are stretching me in ways I didn't know were possible and I am so weary of it all.  So exhausted.  All day yesterday I felt like I needed to cry or throw up, but couldn't do either.  I went to bed and tossed and turned all night, waking up with a monster headache and an incredible weight on my shoulders, a heaviness that was killing me.  I got up in the darkness, in the quiet of the early morning and finally had a good cry.  The kind of cry that releases stress with every tear and that lets go of all that anxiety built up inside.  But better than crying, I leaned over James chapter 1 and through tears soaked up every word on that page, giving this entire thing to the Lord.  I reached my breaking point and finally realized that I was never meant to carry all this on my own back anyway.  He's been waiting for me to lay it down and now, at the end of my rope with the control completely out of my hands, I did.  Why does it take me so long to remember that??  

A year or so ago (maybe two), we went through the book of James, verse by verse in Church and I memorized most of chapter one.  I knew that was where I needed to be yesterday when this was unfolding with the washer and dryer and as I poured over it, the notes I took, the perspective I gained from that study and from memorizing a couple of years ago, spoke straight to the heart of where I'm at. 

Our Pastor called James, "A book about our walk, not just our talk.  What to do with what you know-obedience."  Hmm, if this faith of mine can't speak to the struggles I'm facing right now, and if I only have head knowledge but don't ever act on what I believe, what good is it?  It was written to the twelwe tribes scattered among the nations, which is an important detail.  They were believers, who after the resurrection of Christ faced persecution and trouble from the government.  In fear for their lives, they found themselves scattered all over the nations, with no real home to call their own.  They were a group of people barely hanging on by a thread.  Sounds familiar.  James writes this book to encourage them, to bolster their faith, to remind them of what their faith was all about and who it was based on.  He was cheering them on because they were out of steam and full of doubt.  Exactly where I found myself this morning.  Here's what he says...

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverence.  Perseverence must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.  If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double minded man, unstable in all he does."  James 1:2-8

So, trials of many kinds?  Yep, I think that's a good description of where we're at.  Consider it pure joy???  That seems so stupid and yet, so far I've considered these trials pure inconvenience, pure hassle, pure headache, pure hatred even...and it's gotten me no where.  It's just made me more upset, caused more resentment, cost me sleep and robbed me of joy.  So, it's safe to assume that my way isn't working.  We consider it pure joy, not because it just sounds nice, but because there is a reason for it!  There is a "because" in that sentence that tells us, the testing of our faith develops perseverence.  I don't know about you, but going through something hard is a lot easier to swallow when you KNOW there is a PURPOSE for it.   I told the Lord this morning, if I'm not too late, please use this season FOR something.  I'd rather go through it and know it wasn't wasted, then to limp through it only to feel empty and disgruntled at the end of it.  Perseverence wouldn't be perseverence if it came easy and it came quickly.  According to this, it has to finish its' other words, be patient and see it through.  The end will come, this season will pass but until then, stay faithful and work it out, SO THAT in your faith you will be mature and complete.  That hit me like a ton of bricks this morning.  If one thing has been clear through this, it's that I am lacking in my maturity.  After the phone call from our electrician friend late last night, I basically threw a fit.  When I saw the lice in Ava's hair, I had a meltdown.  When Carter was bleeding profusely from the head, I realized I am not complete in my ability to handle blood.  Let's just say these three weeks have revealed that I have PLENTY of room to grow in my faith.  James also tells us that if we lack wisdom (hello) we should ask God.  What a novel thought.  I'm notorious for asking for wisdom from lots of sources before it dawns on me to actually just ask the One who gave us our minds in the first place.  Not only does He hear us but this tells us that He gives generously, without finding fault in us or in the mess we've made.  We have plently of decisions to make about this laundry saga and believe me, I finally asked God for some wisdom about it and He's already flooded my heart with more peace than I've had in weeks. The final key to this passage that went straight to my heart was to not only ask God, but to believe Him.  I ultimately have 3 choices when I ask for wisdom in something.  I can believe that He is the source of wisdom.  I can doubt that He has any wisdom.  Or I can try to do both, which negates both.  I can believe that He knows all things but so do lots of other people too.  I can waver in my trust and just sort of go through the motions of asking, then figure it out on my own.  Which never really works out for us, does it? 

So this morning as I laid this mess at his feet, the stress of all that's happened and my extreme weariness, I begged Him to help me believe HIM!!  That familiar refrain from Mark 9:24 rings true today, "I do believe, help me overcome my unbelief!"  I think the Lord loved the honesty of that father who uttered those words.  He knows it's hard for us to trust sometimes and that we aren't perfect.  He doesn't ask us to be.  So even when we know the right thing to do and we admit that it's hard to do, I think He's pleased with that.  The condition of our heart always matters more than the action of our lives.  When we're desperate for Him and we ask Him to help, He does. 

So if I haven't returned your call or email or facebook message yet, that is why and this is where I'm at.  I'm treading water over here with lots on my plate, but I'm also trusting my Savior to see me through this season He's allowing us to walk, or limp through.  I'm hoping that the testing of my faith will develop perseverence as a result of this and that one day, I'll have a washer and dryer to use and no memory of the day lice visited our family :)

And P.S., Carter got his staples out and his head looks great!

I may be hanging by a thread, but I'm learning to let go of the thread and hang on tightly to that hand of my Savior instead...The odds of not falling are much, much greater.  Even guaranteed.


Pumpkins For Sale

We took the kids to a local pumpkin patch last weekend and it was such a fun time for all of us.  It's gotten much colder here, which seems like a better time to buy pumpkins.  I hate getting them when it's like 70 degrees out because they go bad so much faster.  So, we bundled ourselves up and went to my favorite little garden center.  I told Travis, I literally go to my happy place the minute I pull in the parking lot.  It's the CUTEST place and I love to go there.  It's right across the street from our Church, so I stop there often.  I buy my bedding plants there and usually some produce here and there.  It's downright magical this time of year and the kids were all about it this year.  I think I thanked Travis for taking us there about ten times :) The kids were thrilled to pick pumpkins, I was thrilled to take pictures and Travis was thrilled for us to roast the seeds from the pumpkins. 
 It's a win-win for everyone!

We haven't carved them yet or roasted the seeds from them, but we will! 
I've got some crafty plans up my sleeve...
I love the pumpkin patch.  One more activity to cross off our Fall Bucket List!



Well, what a day we had yesterday with this little guy.
Not even 3 minutes after I sent a tweet about what a productive and great Monday we were having, I heard a crash from the kids' room and heard a scream.  I knew immediately it wasn't good and I ran to their room to discover Carter in tears and Ava with her hands over her ears :) After checking his face, assuming he would have hurt his mouth or the front of his head, I didn't see anything so I just held him.  As I walked out of the room with him, I noticed some blood on my arm and had no idea where that came from.  I didn't even suspect Carter because he looked fine, but it was bright red, so I knew it just happened.  Then I noticed some on my shirt and then finally saw the pool on his head that was now dripping down his face.  It was one of those surreal moments when you realize you're alone and the adult, therefore you've got to pull yourself together and handle it.  I was simultaneously trying to hold Carter, keep his arms down, try not to drip blood on the carpet and get to the source of the blood.  It's amazing what you can do when you need to, even when you wonder what you're going to find and what you're supposed to do about it!  

After I saw the cut, I pieced together the story from Ava that he fell off a chair in her room (which is an overstuffed chair that's about a foot off the ground) and hit his head.  I don't know if he hit it on the bottom corner of a bookshelf or on the corner of the windowsill, but either way whatever it was took a chunk out of his scalp and caused the blood to flow...and flow...and flow.  Wow the head bleeds a lot!  I called the pediatrician and she said if it was under an inch, they could take care of it in the office and we had an 8 hour window to decide if it needed a staple.  So after getting him to sleep and waiting for Trav to look at it when he got home, we decided to take him in and just get their opinion.  I honestly thought we were probably over-reacting, but better for them to tell me that than to just assume. 

So for the second time in 5 days, we brought the kids to their pediatrician's office and after she saw it, she told us we did the right thing to bring him in.  The decided to put 2 staples in his head, poor baby. 
Of course we are thankful that it wasn't worse, it could have definitely been.  And to have it be on the top of his head, instead of his face, is a blessing.  But it was not a lot of fun to have to hold him, face down, on the table so they could clean it, prep it and then put two staples in.  He was mad as a hornet and went from crying, to screaming, to some kind of instinctual noise that probably has to do with that "fight or flight" response.  It was awful.  Ava was watching the whole thing, but we weren't paying a bit of attention to her so I have no idea what she thought :) I do remember telling her to be quiet at one point because she was singing in the background rather loudly, ha ha!  Trav and I were both choking back some tears and trying to hold it together, but after it was all over and I finally got him calmed down, we put the kids in the car and then took a deep breath.  I told him I felt like I had been hit by a truck!  You just don't realize all the emotion and stress you hold back when your child is in pain and you can't stop them from hurting. 

I'm sure it was just the first of many injuries to come :) I decided yesterday that one big difference I'm seeing between Ava and Carter, and possibly girls and boys, is that Carter is reckless.  I would describe both of them as daredevils, but I'm realizing that Ava does have some degree of caution.  She does pause to think through something, even if just for a second, but Carter does not.  He sees a toy and just dives head first for it.  This has been a good lesson in learning to just trust the Lord with my kids.  I can't keep them protected all of the time or be with them every time they make a decision.  I'm glad I was at home to be the one who came to his rescue, but beyond that, I'm grateful that the Lord is always with them!
Yesterday was a long day and not just because of the stapes incident.  It was sort of the straw that broke the camel's back, actually.  Last week was a tough week.  Between the ear infections and teething, my kids were out of sorts and so was I.  The days were so long and my patience was so short.  Honestly, it was one of the hardest weeks we've had in a while.  My house was a HUGE struggle for me, it was a disaster that I couldn't get on top of and the walls felt like they were closing in.  In the middle of the week my washing machine started smoking and set the smoke alarms off, which led me to a search for a repair man and the realization that 4 out of 5 places I called WOULD NOT work on a stackable unit.  Which is always helpful when you are totally dependant on someone to fix something you know nothing about.  There were several other things that happened, but I know I'm not the only who had a tough week. 

The point is, after yesterday I really thought, "what else Lord??"  The enemy loves to find us in those moments and pepper our minds with lies.  It was tempting for me to feel like the Lord didn't care and that in the face of some real needs, He wasn't stepping in to save me.  That's how I felt, but by now I've learned not to trust my feelings because often they aren't based on truth and they have a tendency to lead me down a path I don't need to go.  The truth is, sometimes life is hard and overwhelming.  Sometimes you reach your breaking point and sometimes you feel frustrated.  But that doesn't mean the Lord has forgotten you or doesn't understand exactly how you are feeling.  It also doesn't mean that He isn't working on your behalf, even if you can't see it.  Because often He is.  He's doing things for you and showering you with his Love and often, we miss it because we're so caught up in the ONE thing that we think He's not doing. 

On my way to Bible study this morning, I caught a little bit of teaching from Chip Ingram on the radio that spoke directly to my heart.  He was teaching from Romans 5:5, about the love of Christ and the nature of God's love being a proactive pursuit of us.  That verse tell us:

"...and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us."

Because He is love and He wants us to experience His love, one of the ways He shows us is by literally pouring out HIS love IN US by the Holy Spirit.  He works in our hearts by an agreement between the Holy Spirit and our spirit that makes us say, "Abba Father."  Because it's an intimate love, we are able to recognize that it's from Him, for us.  Our spirit recognizes His and agrees with it, just so that we can know what it's like to KNOW the Father's love FOR us.  Sometimes He does it through His Word.  He takes us to a scripture or has a re-read something and we realize it's exactly what we needed to hear at that very moment, and that's because it is!  It was given to us by Him, to show us His love for us in every detail of our life.  Sometimes it's in prayer, when we are in relationship with Him, talking and listening just like we would with a friend, and we get a Word from Him.  He impresses a thought or a command on our hearts and we know He gave us that because He loves us.  He spoke to us because He out of His great love for us, He knew we needed to hear it. 

As I was listening to this Chip Ingram teaching (which was WONDERFUL and worth the listen- click the link above if you want to hear it) I began to realize in the midst of this hard week, the Lord has really shown up and lavished His love on me and I almost missed it.  The phrase from Romans 5:5 "poured out" means to literally be full and overflowing.  After we got home from the doctor yesterday, Travis tells me that he got a letter yesterday, sent to his office, for me.  That doesn't happen a lot, but sometimes someone just doesn't know our address.  As I read it, I honestly felt like the Lord just gave me a hug from one of you.  It was an anonymous sister in Christ who wrote me a sweet note about this blog and gave me a very generous and helpful gift.  Thinking about it again makes me cry.  Whoever you are, please know that God used that in a very timely way, on a day when I was feeling overwhelmed and forgotten.  Thank you.  You were a demonstration of His love to me...

As I updated facebook/twitter with Carter's staples saga yesterday,  I can tell you how precious it was to hear from so many people who loved us and told me they were praying for Carter or for Travis and I.  I know people have opinions about facebook/twitter and it's not a face to face thing, but I can tell you how often the Lord has used it to bless me or encourage me through a friend or family member.  I believe people when they say they care and between that and some sweet sisters on twitter, I knew that was God loving me through them.  This morning I woke up to several text messages from dear friends and family, asking how I was and how Carter slept.  They didn't have to ask, but they did.  I heard that teaching from Chip and then got to Bible study, got a hug from a dear friend and sat through worship fighting back tears because EVERY song was about how God loves us.  And then in our discussion about the lesson we did this past week on Abraham and Sarah and the covenant God made with us (Gen. 12-17) we talked at length about the ways that He loves us and pursues us.  As we talked about the mess between Sarah and Abraham and Hagar, we see the Lord pursing Hagar who was mistreated and forgotten and in sin, only to love her, to care for her and to provide for her.  And in response she called Him the "One who sees me."  I can identify with that today.

I drove home this morning but stopped by a friend's house first, who had a load of my laundry done for me.  In the last few days, she has come to my rescue and done like 5 loads of our laundry...Insisted on it actually.  Called me, texted me and asked me repeatedly when I was bringing another load over...

Do you think He's trying to get my attention??
Do you think He wants me to know and be reminded again that He loves me

If I wouldn't have been still for a few minutes this morning, to listen in the car, I might have missed the countless ways the Lord has poured out His love for me, even in a week that felt hopeless and lonely.  It took staples in my little boy's head for me to see the Love of Jesus, all over my life today.  I share this because I'm sure I'm not the only one who has doubted the Lord's love today.  I know I'm not the only Mom dealing with sick kids or feeling overwhelmed.  I know I'm not the only one who is sure they can't handle one more disappointment.  It could be that the Lord is also pouring out His love for you, but like me, you haven't stopped to notice or called it what it really is.  If that's you, I hope this blesses you and I hope the Lord opens your eyes to see or reminds you that He is" the One Who Sees."   And if none of this makes sense to you or you are sure that He couldn't possibly love you, I'm here to tell you that He does.  He loved you all the way to the cross and back and nothing can seperate you from His love when you put your trust in Him and believe that He came to save YOU. 

It's a common theme for me these days, but never a message that I want to get over. 

"How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him."
1 John 3:1

Carter is doing well.  He's napping this afternoon and is back to his happy self.  Someday I'll tell him about this story and I'll remind him about the countless ways God loves him too...


12 Months!

Well, it's official!  12 months of these monthly updates and this is the last one.  Wow, that went fast!  I remember writing your first one like it was just yesterday, but now here we are buddy.  You have officially been 1 for a week and what a week it's been!  I was hoping for a calm, fun week to celebrate your big birthday but instead you got 2 more teeth, an ear infection and this afternoon you fell and took a chunk out of your scalp!  Yikes!  Your pediatrician has been on speed dial this week :) But I guess it's a fitting description of what life with a little BOY is like now!  You have definitely left many of your baby ways behind and are intent on growing up, whether we like it or not! 
 So that we don't forget what life was like this month, here is a little bit about you at 12 months...
-You are still a big guy, weighing 22 lbs and 14 oz.  That puts you at 3 lbs behind your sister, who is 18 months older than you :) I don't know how tall you are yet, but I know you are going to stay on the top of the charts.  You tower over lots of kids your age and I'm definitely putting you in bigger clothes because all of your pants are suddenly too short!
-You are wearing mostly 12-18 mo clothes, but even a few 18-24 mo things too! 
-You are still in a size 4 diaper, just like Ava, which is handy :)
-You have 5 teeth that are very visible and one more coming in. 
Generally, when you aren't sick or teething, you are such a happy guy.  You are very laid back like your Daddy and happy to be out and about.  You LOVE your big sister and are always trying to follow her around and do what she's doing. 
Thankfully, you are still sleeping twice a day for a couple of hours and from 7:30 at night til about 6:30 or 7:00 in the morning.  Which is a good thing because when you are awake, you are in TROUBLE constantly!!  You're into EVERYTHING and I'm realizing it's just a matter of time before you figure out how to do many of the things you see your sister doing.  Just like most men, you LOVE the tv remote :)
Keeping you contained is the best way to keep you safe, but that rarely happens :) You are just a busy guy and you love to explore everything.  I've pulled you out of so many places where you managed to get stuck or frustrated.  I've realized our house is baby-proofed but not Carter-proofed!
You are still in love with that paci, which honestly is helpful.  Our favorite use of it is just to keep you quiet when you are mad or crying because we can't believe how LOUD you are!!  You have got some serious lungs Carter and you make sure the whole world knows it when you aren't happy :) Ava is always covering her ears and telling you, "Dat's too loud Carty!"  Usually it's a scramble to find a paci and muffle you, ha hah!
Ever since your big boy haircut this month, you have looked SO much older.  I just love this picture of you.  From that sweater vest to those shoes, you are just pure sugar.
It's VERY easy to love you Carter!
Those big blue eyes tell us all kinds of stories.  You are such an expressive boy and very observant.  It's hard to get you to be still for any reason these days!  You move from one thing to the next and you're always keeping an eye on what's happening around you.
This has been the month of injuries for you!  You are basically one big bruise.  You've already pulled this table over on you, twice and about every 10 minutes I hear you cry because you hit your head or got your fingers stuck somewhere.  You are very, very different than your sister was at this age!
You love to be outside on our porch, the minute you hear me open the door you go crawling out there like a lightening bolt!
These golf clubs are some of your most prized toys :)
I'm sure it's a matter of time before you are hitting someone with them, namely your sister!
We took you to the apple orchard this month and you looked like such a big boy, taking it all in and wanting to touch everything.
This picture of you just melts my heart. 
Our little blonde hair, blue eyed boy...Oh how we love you!
As you turned one, your appetite suddenly tripled!  I am constantly cutting up food for you and offering you new things.  This was your first time to have spaghetti and just like your sister, you went crazy over it!
You were shoveling that pasta in so fast, we were dying laughing.  I'm not sure if you thought it was your last meal or what, but you didn't take a breath between bites.  You were such a mess by the time we were done!
One of your favorite things is this kitchen.  We find you playing here all the time, way more than Ava.
You like to take this burner out and to play with all the plastic food.  We hear you banging dishes on that thing all the time and then hear you giggle to yourself.  So funny!
Although we did celebrate your big day, you cried for most of it.  I assumed I would be the one in tears, but due to your teeth and ears, it was a hard couple of days.
We just adore you Carter and we are so thankful for this year of life with you.
Finding out we were having a boy was so great, but having YOU as our son has been more than we ever imagined. 
We just wouldn't be complete without you buddy and we are so grateful to God that he made us your parents and that he gave you Ava as a big sister. 
Happy 1st year Carter!
You are a delight and like your sister, the apple of our eyes.  We look forward to this next year and all the changes it will bring as you continue to grow up.  Our prayers have continued from the first day we held you...That you would grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ all your days and that you would trust Him for salvation from an early age.  That is our greatest dream for you and always will be.  Everything else you do or become is just icing on the cake. 
We love you so much, son.  It's been an incredible 12 months!


Perspective Matters

One of my favorite seasons every year is Fall.  Not just because of the weather, the brilliant colors, the return of football, but also because of the return of a weekly Bible study in my life.  While I've struggled in some seasons to maintain consistency in the Word over the summer, this particular summer I commited to reading the whole Bible on a reading plan.  It was a HUGE commitment, one I made very quickly without fully comprehending the time requirement I was signing up for, but also the best decision I made all summer.  Just so no one misinterprets this as an opportunity to toot my own horn, let me humbly tell you, I'm still not done with it.  I'm about half way through but I didn't finish "on time" and for one of the first times in my life, I didn't beat myself up about it.

A funny thing happened as I started out on this journey through the Word, cover to cover...It took about 3 days for me to realize how much I craved God's Word and how satisfying it was to soak it up in huge chunks at a time.  To read it like a story, instead of just chapter by chapter or book by book, was an incredible blessing.  Often we (I) get caught up in topical studies that single out a story or a character or even a subject.  While that's not always a bad thing, if we aren't careful to take into consideration the context and historical details of that passage, it can be a dangerous thing.  It's entirely too easy to misinterpret scripture when we pull verses we "like" out and disregard the place God gave it in the story as a whole.  How many "famous" teachers and preachers do we have to endure who do this on a weekly basis and misrepresent the Lord and His Word?  I'm so thankful for a Church/staff committed to Biblical literacy and leadership who humbly submit themselves to the authority of the scripture and who esteem God's Word to the highest degree.  But even in an environment like that, we have to be so careful and so diligent to know the Word ourselves, so that we aren't the ones who are easily deceived or who are doing the deceiving.

This summer as I started in Genesis and read my way through most of the Old Testament, it was such a refreshing experience to see the Lord in a new way.  For a rule follower and note taker like me, it was freeing to put the pens down and just read.  To begin in the Garden and trace the entrance of sin into a perfect world...To see God's provision for the world, even after He wiped it clean with a watch His chosen people follow Him, reject Him, follow Him, and reject Him again like a broken record, all while He faithfully loved them despite their sin was beautiful.  So many of the stories and characters I first learned about as a kid in Sunday School came flooding back...As a kid it was simple to hear a story and believe with an innocent faith.  Teachers summarized a passage with a one-liner lesson to take home and as a rule-follower, I remembered it.  But as life marches on and people grow up, sometimes our circumstances begin to jade and jab at your faith, and it's easy to get caught up in the "controversies" of the Bible or the things that seem to contradict one another.  Lots of people get hung up there and never do much more than shrug their shoulders and criticize.  They zero in on one thing and forget to take the whole context of the Bible and the character of God into consideration.  Whole religions and cults hinge on this very practice.  But God never meant for us to pick and choose His Words.  It's an all or nothing deal.

One thing I love about the Lord is that He is always working things out in our lives before we ever have any idea.  He often prompts us or directs us to obey during a particular season, even if we don't understand why.  When Fall Bible Study rolled around this year and I sat in the first week of teaching to hear the overview of what we would be studying this year, He reminded me of a big reason He took me through that summer reading plan.  We are doing a study this year that overviews some of the big stories throught the Old Testament and through the life of Christ.  Looking at the Bible from a big picture perspective and tracing the thread of redemption through the love story God has written.  Everything I read this summer impacted me the first time through, but now I'm getting the privilege of going through it a second time and really focusing on the truths of each major event.  However, my biggest take away so far has nothing to do with reading about some familiar "heroes" of the faith but instead focusing on one thing that one of our teaching leaders pointed out. 

The goal of studying the Bible isn't so we can learn more about what some of the great men and women of faith did or didn't do.  Too many people get hung up on things like the technicalities of why Adam sinned or how David was a man after God's own heart even though he had several wives.  While those details do matter and often give us a clue about something the Lord wants us to know, the point of each story, of each person is ultimately to point us to Christ.  To teach us more about who He is and what He has done.  As I listened to her remind us about the importance of perspective, I thought about how often I've viewed the Bible from a skewed perspective.  I've read the story of Noah and the flood and spent too much time thinking about how scary it was for the animals or how righteous Noah must have been to have been chosen by the Lord to survive.  While those are both interesting parts of the story, they don't tell the whole thing.  God's mercy and provision and judgement are huge takeaways from the flood, not the logistics of how the animals fit into the ark.  We always want to pull back from the individual details to see how they connect to the bigger picture of redemption.  What does this story/person show us about the Lord?  What does it have to do with the coming of Christ?  It's so key to focus on that because when we focus on the Lord and the bigger picture, then the correct applications and interpretations come to the surface.  And if we're wise, we need to always be concerned with keeping our interpretions correct and right.  Because while there are many applications from a particular passage, there is ALWAYS only ONE right interpretation. 

God has impressed that so strongly on my heart in this season of life.  As a Mom who stays home with small children everyday, it's easy to get lost in the nitty, gritty details of the day.  Wiping noses, doing dishes and picking up toys (for the tenth time that day) can consume us and fill us with resentment and bitterness if we aren't careful.  But when we're careful to pull back and think about the big picture, the calling of motherhood and the way these critical years fly by, it's easier to swallow one more load of laundry and another deep breath when a child is hurting and they need you to comfort them.  When we keep our perspective in check, obedience naturally follows.  It's the same with God's word.  I'm learning to ask more and more, "What are you trying to show me about who YOU are Lord?"  and not just "What does this have to do with ME Lord?"  It's not an easy mental shift, but it's key in becoming more Christ like and growing in my faith. 

His story is all over every page of His Word and to quote my favorite Children's Bible, every story whispers His name...So what is He teaching you today about who HE is?  What truth has He reminded you about or what part of His character has He impressed on you?  It's good to have things we need to work on and to learn lessons from those who have gone before us, but ultimately it all points to Him. 
If you haven't heard His voice for awhile, I'm praying you'll be faithful to open His Word and look for Him there...You'll find Him.  He promises that... 

I'm praying you have a blessed week, friends...
If you need a fresh start or you're like me and just need to pull back from being so consumed with self... Remember that His mercies are new every morning and His faithfulness is great...

He created a rescue plan with you and I in mind and He wrote the world's greatest love story to convince us...If you're looking for a great read, I can recommend the greatest book of all time.

And if you seriously don't have one of your own, let me know and I will get one to you.  Nothing would make this little blog of mine more worth it, than to serve you in that way.  It's the best read you'll ever find and He's the greatest Savior of all time.  The ONLY Savior actually...


Thoughts From a Tired Mom

I'm not sure how wise it is to try and write at 11pm, but while Travis watches a movie I care nothing about (grin) I figured this was the best way for me sit next to him, instead of crawling into our bed.  Which truth be told, is where I'd rather be. 

In so many ways I feel like this week has been a battle that we've limped through.  I had high hopes that we'd have a fun week, celebrating Carter and just enjoying each other, but if I'm going to be honest that's not exactly how it's gone down. 

We've been pretty busy around here and I think our schedule has finally caught up to my kids.  Between the two of them, I started noticing some runny noses last weekend and a cough that started to develop.  Ava started it, but she really didn't show many signs of feeling bad.  She was her normal self this week, except for some longer naps and a drippy nose.  Carter on the other hand was a mess all week.  His cold was the milder of the two and honestly, I chalked most of it up to the 2 teeth that are currently breaking through his gums.  However, to say he's been whiny this week is to call our winters here, mild.  He's been a challenge for days, spending most of his time crying or acting like he's going to.  Let's just say that my patience, or lack thereof, has been greatly tested.  And some days have gone better than others.

But, as the days have progressed I could tell that he was not feeling well and that his cough was turning into Ava's.  So I got them in to the pediatrician tonight, really thinking Carter was the one who needed meds...

*sidenote*-This is really riveting stuff, isn't it???  Aren't you glad you've invested the last 5 minutes in reading about the ins and outs of my kids' colds?? 

Anyway, as it turns out Ava was the one who has really been suffering this week.  Yes, Carter has several teeth coming in AND an ear infection, but poor Ava has a double ear infection.  Her left ear was so blistery and infected that our pediatrician said it was almost bleeding!!  SO sad!!  But seriously, you never would have known she was hurting so much, she must have a high tolerance for pain or just a strong will that doesn't want to miss a thing :)  I'm so thankful we took them in and so glad to have them both on antibiotics.  Hoping for a much better weekend now...

Because I'm so tired and it's getting so late (why am I up??) I've got nothing left for a coherent post, so what's a girl to do???  Share some more fun finds on pinterest, food edition.  Enjoy, friends...

Don't those look good?  They are apple pie roll-ups or something.  I am not a big pie fan, don't love pie crust, but I think this looks yummy.
I just see these and immediately my mind goes to...
Must. Decorate. Cookies.
So cute!!
I seriously need to like print this off and tack it on my fridge.  It's 20 ideas for healthy snacks.  I'm not sure what it is, but in the afternoon when my kids say they are hungry, I seem to get a complete mental block about what to give them.  I stare into the cupboards like an idiot and pull out the same thing everytime.  This looks helpful and delicious.
Neighbor/Teacher/Nursery worker gift??  Looks really cute and is super easy.
These intrigue me because it says they are cakes baked in tin cans.  Isn't that crazy??  And totally fun and unexpected.  I assumed they were big, but really they aren't.
Grilled cheese with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  On the menu this weekend!
And finally, why have I never done this???  Slice a potato, drizzle it with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake.  YUM!  I'm into roasting everything these days and this looks like a new way to enjoy an old standby.  I bet they're even better when the edges are crispy!

Ok, I lied. 
One more and it's not food related.  But I saw this and thought it was perfect for our facebook/twitter generation...

Word, people.  Word. 
Sometimes we work hard for those one liners.  Show a little facebook/twitter love!!  ha ha!!
Happy Friday!