Sunday, December 20, 2009

For Love of Each Other

(Here's my little chunk of a man=)

So, my kids have been sick. Savannah did her time for five days about a week ago, and Weston has been diagnosed with RSV, which lasts for 5-6 weeks. So this means a lot of indoor quality time with each other...hahahaha! I love them both to death, but Savannah really needs her own jungle gym of a playground in the backyard. That girl is always in some serious need of burning off energy! I finally get to the point where I look for long drawn out car rides to make when she's sick, just so I can get her to sit still long enough to rest a little. She has discovered the miracle of the stool and now totes our bar stools around with her all over the kitchen, climbing up to observe and ask questions about everything, wanting to help cook, and playing in the sink like she's washing dishes. It's a little annoying only because I turned around the other day to see three stools in my tiny cooking area, but mostly I enjoy having her captivated by what I'm doing and learning all the while.
Visiting the ATL Aquarium...Joey's fabulous picture taking skills!

(Weston had his first ride in the stroller facing forward! He was enthralled.)

Weston...well, we have come to discover he is one chill, happy little man. Or I should say, one chill, chunk of a little man...he's huge! He weighed 18 pounds at his 4-month appointment on Thursday! Geez! Meema bought him some 12-month sleepers the other day, and they fit! Goodness gracious. But he's perfectly happy to self-entertain himself for hours. Can't tell you how many times I've stopped Savannah from making her eighteenth-thousand mess, only to remember I do have another child sitting around somewhere (usually in his jumpy seat). I go to check on him, and he's literally bouncing around happy as a clam or staring at the television. Yes, the boy already knows how to watch television with that "I'm thinking about nothing" look on his face. Sigh...THAT is one manly attribute I do envy--the ability to think about nothing=)
( This pic is kinda old--he no longer needs the pillow under his feet, and he is a jumping fool!)

Savannahisms: She poured a whole bottle of hand sanitizer out the other day and proceeded to give herself a bath in it. I didn't realize she had done this until I went to change her diaper, and her clothes and belly were all slimy. Irritated and concerned, I start to say something to her, but she catches the look on my face, and before I can say anything, she responds, "No worry mommy. Is jus sope. I ok. Not in trubble." Well, she's right to some exactly do you respond to that?
Baking Christmas goodies for the neighbors...she had so much fun rolling out gingerbread cookies=)

By the way, her Sunday school teachers informed us last Sunday that she is the only one in her class speaking in full sentences, telling everyone what to do of course. She is such a rascal!

Tonight in the bathtub, I was giving them a bath together since Joey was in class. Giving them a bath together is not the easiest thing to accomplish since Weston can't sit up yet, but it's easier than trying to keep Savannah out of trouble while giving Weston a bath by himself. Anyway, near the end of the bath, I sat Weston up to wash his back before getting him out. His eyes focused on Savannah sitting right in front of him, and his face lit up like a cherub. He was so excited to see her and be sitting face to face with her! I told Savannah, "Look, Weston is smiling at you!" She got this sweet, excited look on her face and said, "Hey brudder! Hey Wesson! Talka to me!" Wherein, Weston responded with laughter, which I LOVE! Baby laughter is so precious, but I must say, my heart warmed all over watching the two of them interact like this. They interacted, laughing and smiling, for a good five minutes before the spell was broken, and I needed to get him dressed. I will forever treasure that first real brother and sister moment in my memory. Christmas in Macon...all her cousins finally together for a picture=) So sweet=) Savannah LOVES playing with her cousins. Funny moments from the weekend: Apparently, Savannah was about to play with something of Drew's. From across the room, Drew yells, "No Banna, mine!" In total abandonment, Savannah throws herself on top of said item, belly down, arms and legs out in a complete sprawl over the item and yells, "No Drew! Mine, mine, mine!" Sigh...sharing is such a hard life lesson.

Not so funny later on, Drew almost bites her thumb off. After accepting the consequences duly handed out by his parents, he tries to come back in and make friends with Savannah again. She completely ignores him for a while. At one point he tries to sit by her in a chair, but she spreads both legs and arms out completely denying him any space to sit near her in the chair, pouting her bottom lip and staring him down the entire time. He gives up. She immediately, graciously scoots over to allow her cousin Ansleigh to sit beside her in the chair. I guess forgiveness is the next character aspect we'll have to work on.

Monday, December 14, 2009

I Run: Lesson Two

So, tonight I went running in the mist. Mist is deceiving. It didn't look like it would be hard, but after the first lap around the neighborhood, my lungs and my clothing were beginning to feel the weight of the water that was accumulating. Hmmm...I could do a whole blog on just these spiritual implications, but this was not what God spoke this evening. You see, this was a hard run. Not only was I really feeling the precipitation, but it seemed like my stomach, body, clothing--everything in general--was just heavier tonight. Ever have those days, when life is just heavier--for no particular reason--just heavier? Anyway, I knew I was capable of doing two laps around my neighborhood--2.8 miles, about 8 iPod songs, approximately 30-35 minutes. But tonight, I just wasn't feeling it. I was feeling heavy, and I REALLY wanted to give up.

Lesson Two: Listen to and obey the still small voice of the Lord. Don't second guess, don't make excuses, don't give up, like Nike says--Just do it.

Somewhere in the middle of song eight, as my breathing became labored, my vision a little blurry, I was thinking, 'This is it. My body is telling me to stop. I need to be wise and not push myself so hard.' That's when I heard the voice, "Keep going through song 9. I will get you through song 9." What! I wasn't even to the end of song 8 yet! I mean, I was hurting, out of breath, making the turn to go up a long, gradual slope. No way! I was delusional, I needed to stop before Joey had to get in the car and come find me passed out on the side of the road in the dark in the mist. But no, the voice was firm, "You can make it through song 9. Don't stop."

So I didn't stop. I fought the cramp creeping into my side. I slowed my pace, controlled my breathing, and gritted my teeth. I wasn't finished with song 8 yet, and the uphill slope still lay ahead. Song 9 came on--"Romans" by Jennifer Knapp. I couldn't believe it. Not only was this song only about 3 minutes long instead of the average 4 minutes, but it has a slower, slightly perky beat with an upbeat, understated message about God being in control. First lines of the song: "Just when I think I got it / It's gone. When I think I know the answer / And I dare to raise my hand / it's gone." How fitting.

I mean after almost eight weeks of running, I guess I was starting to feel like I had this whole running thing down pat. I little pride probably did begin to sink in. All it took was a little mist to bring me to my breaking point. The good news--all it took was a little obedience to get me right back into the game. Humbled back right where I need to be, and in awe of a God that once again cares about the songs on my iPod.

I'm telling you, the moment that song 9 began to play, my whole body responded differently. I felt myself catch my breath, no longer winded. I felt a spring in my step, no longer heavy and labored. I almost felt like I could run forever as I rounded the crest of my uphill slope and kept going...because even though the top of that hill was my goal, God had said He would get me through song 9. I would be a fool not to follow through at this point.

The moral of this story? When God speaks, you must obey. It wasn't easy, and it really wasn't what I wanted to do at all in the moment He spoke. I mean, I still had to run two more minutes of song 8 before song 9 even began to play. Sometimes God gives us a word from Him right in the middle of something really hard in our lives. It seems like the most inopportune time for Him to be giving you instructions. Maybe you're thinking, 'There's no way I can handle one more responsibility, one more thing on my to-do list.' I'm just hear to say, at that point, you have two choices. Obey or disobey. Keep going, buckle down, and grit out your current circumstances until song 9 begins to play, then when it does, keep going still. Or...disobey. Stop running, don't meet your potential, don't give God a chance to come through for you, and most likely you'll be right back where you started when you first started running--sore, aching, out of breath. Only now, you feel like a failure, AND you missed out on seeing God work in your life. When put like that, the hardship of obeying sounds a lot easier, actually, at least in the long run.

Plus, just look what I got to experience once song 9 started! A fresh wind, renewed strength, joy in my step, and the experience of running farther than I had run before. I ended up having nothing to lose--like consciousness, like I originally thought---and gained so much more, like energy and a humbleness in the provision of my God. I gained trust in my Lord, a childlike faith that He will provide for my needs, but I must obey. The other choice just really isn't much of one at all.

The challenge: Identify the small voice in your life. What is God telling you to do? In what area(s) is He requiring obedience? Choose to obey, then let me know what good God brings about in your life, even if it's only something small. Any good is better than the consequences of disobedience. "Trust and obey / there is no other way / to be happy in Jesus / but to trust and obey."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Run: Lesson One

So, I'm running twenty-eight minutes now in my training schedule. Kinda hard to believe, I know. It's been what? Six weeks since I started? I'm not even sure where to begin trying to explain or put into words all that God is teaching me. Every time I come home from a run, I have to take another quick jog to my computer just to jot down more lessons and thoughts that He's given me on what seems like a never-ending list.

Lesson one, though, is the thought I consistently have most often. You've heard it before, but let me see if I can expound. Lesson number one: God always provides exactly what you need--always--especially, in the greatest moment of your need.

For example, when I run, I time myself by songs on my iPod. Keeping a running addition of the song times in my head is just one more thing I can focus my attention on other than the pain=) Now, the playlist I listen to is titled "WorkOut Music" and is a compilation of any and all music I've purchased that is upbeat, inspiring, or dance-able. I am a fan of all music genres, so this playlist includes upbeat music from Christian, rock, alternative, techno, country, and pop music, and since the music plays in random order, I never really know what I'm going to be listening to next.

It never ceases to amaze me, the music that God chooses for my runs. Once, I went running in the rain, and right at the hardest point of my run, the song "Praise You In The Storm" by Casting Crowns plays over my earphones. Talk about encouragement to keep going! God always seems to provide slower pace or fun songs when I need to settle into my run and persevere, then He never ceases to provide high-energy, pavement pounders for those last five minutes when you just think your lungs are going to explode and your legs fall off.

Then there was Thanksgiving. You see I had to take a break from my running schedule for three whole days because I was sick the Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of Thanksgiving--convenient right? No exercise and LOTS of food, so I was really worried I wouldn't be able to pick up with my 22 minute run after three days off. I wish I could name all the songs that played in a row that Saturday! It was one inspirational Christian song after another. Right when I felt I couldn't make it another step, a Toby Mac jam would begin to play, and I would feel my body keep pace. Not only did I run the whole 22 minutes that Saturday, but I crushed a huge hill right at the end of my workout as well, and I don't remember the song, but I do remember feeling this rush of praise, as I opened my arms wide at the end of that run, and sang aloud to the music for the whole world to hear. I didn't care...God had given me a music line-up that called for nothing less than pure praise and exhilaration.

Such a little thing--songs on an iPod--why would God care? Because He cares about me, and He teaches me in this that He will provide exactly what I need in my greatest moment of need.

Now this is Christian teaching 101. This is the lesson that every pastor, preacher, teacher, and evangelist tries to get across to the saved and the lost alike. That God never fails you. He is always there, and He's on your side, cheering for you. All you have to do is take that first step of faith, right?

Well, as simple as this sounds, the problem comes in that it is so hard to believe, much less actually live like you believe it. Honestly, I'm not sure there are many areas in my life where I personally challenge myself enough to see if this is true. Because, you see, in order for God to provide for you, you have to be willing to put yourself in the position to actually need something. Now, let's be honest, in this everything's-at-your-fingertips society we live in called the Great USA, how many of us actually really need anything? And if you get away from the physical, and start talking spiritual, how many of us actually challenge ourselves outside of the comfort of Sunday morning, Christian music, and Bible studies to really put feet and hands to God's Word? How many of us tell ourselves that inviting our next door neighbor to church would be awkward or weird or an intrusion into their lives? I do. Something so simple, and yet I'm afraid that God can't meet my need to not be rejected. That even if I am rejected or condemned, do I really believe God can't meet me in that moment and fill the void with His peace and comfort? Something so simple people! I ask you again, do you ever really put yourself in a position to need?

On top of that, how many of us are in a position of greatest need? I define this as the point you reach where you have lost or are enable or believe you have lost or believe you are enable to have or take control of the situation. Complete loss of control means there's no one else available to step in except for God. I could go on, but I'm feeling this is a good stopping point. Maybe God will give me more examples to expound upon "greatest need" in another run.

So I leave you with this...what can you do today to put yourself in God's hands and let Him provide for your needs? Now I'm not talking about something you feel you need. For most of us, our view of our needs is very basic, carnal, and fleshly compared to God's view of our needs. You see, His goal is to get us into an intimate relationship with Him, so He is more concerned with our character, you know the inner you...the person on the inside that most of us are too afraid to show to the outside world? That is the person in us that needs God the most. The you on the inside is the you God wants to show to the outside--that's the you that will impact this world for Christ. The problem is, at least for me, that my inner me is WAY needier than my outer me. Just the idea of making the inner me vulnerable to the opinions of those around me scares me to death. So ultimately what do I do? Truthfully? What do you do? We hide the real us, which basically means we don't trust God to meet our needs of acceptance, strength, encouragement, whatever. We are still making the outside us fit what we think the world wants to see instead of being the inside us who God called us to be. Sad really--how many of us live in a cage most of us don't even realize we've created. Heck...99% of the time, I don't realize I keep myself locked in this cage...and I'm the one God has called to write this blog!

So the challenge: 1) I run. You need to find something in your life to do that will make you think, make you work, and put you in a place of true inner need. That's where you will find the inner child that is so mailable and teachable--the place where you and God can be so tender together.

What can you start doing today? Anything at all! Even if it's setting your mind to waking up at a certain time EVERY day or completing a specific task EVERY day. Pick something that maybe you've really wanted to do for yourself for a long time...something that will have long term benefits. For some it might be brushing your teeth...hahaha...I jest, but some of you out there are terrified of the dentist for this very reason:) Take the first step, then watch because God will show ways you were least expecting. So tell me, what have you decided to do every day, trusting God that He will meet you in this activity?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Odds and Ends

Let's see...November has flown by! Between Joey's school and my training, all the hours in a day seemed to be filled, and one day just runs right into the a good way though=)

We did make time to getaway, just the two of us, for a weekend to Banning Mills in Whitesburg, GA. I LOVE this place! It's like being in the North GA mountains when you're really just in the middle of nowhere somewhere between Newnan and Carrollton. It was wonderful to sleep as long as we wanted to in the morning, have all our meals prepared for us, and to complete the short zip-line course. I haven't been on a zip-line since middle school at Berry College, and these lines made those look like child's play. Banning Mills boasts the highest, longest, fastest zip-line course in the southeast. We didn't do the long course, but the few lines we completed were enough to take your breath away. I look forward to another getaway when we can complete the long course. Thank you to my mom and dad and Joey's parents for stepping in to help us with the kids. It was a much needed refreshment, and perfect timing before we got into the busy holiday season. (This is a view of one of the catwalks you had to do to get in between zip lines.)
(This is a shot of a zipliner=) It's hard to capture in a picture just how high and just how amazing this is! Oldest person to do this course: 86! That's my goal someday=) )

Savannahism: She took a hat I had been wearing, put it on backwards and covering her face, then proceeded to say, "Look, mommy. Sa-annah silly!" Love this girl=)
(Oh, how we love mommy's iPod!)

The next weekend after our getaway, Joey took off for a three day trip, two of which were spent hiking part of the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina up Mount Lacont. He went with his dad, and I was relieved they both made it up and down safely. As you can see, they hiked with full packs and spent the night in the lodge at the top that was really only one step above a tent. They made some good memories, and I was glad to have them back home safe.

But while they were gone, Patti was gracious enough to come join me in the ATL to help watch my kiddos while I had a girl's sEE NEW MOON!!! Whoo-hoo! Loved every minute of this movie. I am definitely a Twilight junky=) I'm still Team Edward, but Jacob (Taylor Lautner) was definitely bringing the hotness factor. I will definitely look forward to seeing this one again and again with whoever wants to go. And no, it's NOT about the hot guys (although that's a plus), REAL Twilight fans are addicted to the story behind the the books before you see the movies to truly appreciate. Favorite Moment: Watching Jacob morph into a werewolf off the back porch to defend Bella. Cheesiest Moment: Definitely Alice's flash forward to when (SPOILER ALERT!!! to those that want to read the books!!!!) Bella becomes a vampire. #1 Chris Pattinson (Edward) does not need to be seen running through the forest like a goof, and #2 Bella does NOT wear a dress that looks like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in the book--she definitely needs to be in some form of slinky lingerie or slutty prom dress when that vision comes true in the Breaking Dawn movie.

Thanksgiving was a long weekend for us, spending three and a half days in Macon with Joey's parents. We loved every moment of amazing food, good fellowship, then so much fun with the kids as Savannah's cousins joined us to make a housefull on Saturday. Despite the craziness of five kids, I love every moment of watching them all interact. I don't have any pictures to share 'cause I'm still waiting on Patti to Snapfish them to me...we forgot our camera, but she has some great ones of all the cousins=) I'll post those seperately some other time.

Savannahism: We took the Sunday afternoon after Thanksgiving to head out and pick out our Christmas tree from a local lot. After we got home, and set the tree up and began pulling out Christmas decorations, Savannah, enamored by all the joy of the preparations, declares at one point, "Cahrismas! OH, Happy Day!" Then again, after waking up from her nap the other day and finding I had put up more decorations, she declared when coming around the corner, "Oh, more Cahrismas mommy! Yay!" I love that she is already experiencing the joy and wonder of Christmas like all children should. This is going to be a really fun Christmas with her=)

Weston is well...I feel like I don't talk about him much, but at this stage there's not much to tell. I think I will start him on cereal next week because his spitting up is making him miserable and makes for too much laundry on my end. Pray that he takes to this well, and that this will help solve some of his difficulties with taking a nap and just getting to sleep in general. On a positive note, we now do bath at 6:15pm, he's in bed at or shortly before 7pm, and doesn't wake up until 7am the next morning! Yay! Lovin' that good night's sleep. Thank you Lord! (I love this little half just speaks volumes of his personality.)