Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girls & Family & Fun

(Had to post this picture because I don't think April would give up a chance to post one of me like this.  Love her=)

So April 1st began with a plane ride to New Smyrna beach Florida with one of my favorite group of ladies to hang out with--Mama, sister LA, sister Em, Aunt Debbie, cousin April, and cousin Amy.  This is an every-other-year tradition in our family, and I think it's a good one.  The last trip we took was an adventure to New York, and I was 5 months pregnant with Weston, running around the Big Apple in pink heels and no top.  (Now, you want to click the link and read more don't you? =)

This year, I got to sit back and smile and grin and think skinny happy thoughts as my family all shared their pregnancy highs and lows because if you can't tell by this picture we had every trimester represented at the beach this year=)  LaurieAnn is due October 8th, Amy August 20th, and Emily will welcome baby girl Hartley somewhere around May 26th.

This trip was a boy's nightmare because we literally sat around and did nothing.  We laid in the sun and did nothing on the beach for hours all day.  We took turns making meals, only eating out once as a group.  We took long, slow strolls up and down the beach, then ate or laid around some more.  Really, it was three full days of doing nothing, and I wish I could do some more=)

Of course it was all speckled with easy, fun, and some serious conversation.  Everyone is at such a different point in life.  We all have such different paths to follow and lives to lead.  Our children will all be raised differently, and yet I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that God's blessings on our family will continue into this next generation.  If we all continue to follow Him first, His Word promises us as much.
“As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.  Isaiah 59:21 (NIV)

He is the only One True Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper, and on that I rely daily not only for my own future, but more importantly for the future of my children.

Thank you Lord,
#116 for four generations (that I know of) of family who have sought You
#117 that each person in my family continues to seek You and live a life that wants to glorify You
#118 for a heritage that's priceless,
#119 and a standard of life here on earth that my children will do well to emulate and improve upon
#120 that ultimately is all about You.  Less of me (us), more of You, Lord.
#121 for Girl's weekends
#122 new babies, new lives, new parents, new beginnings
#123 summer sun with spring winds blowing across Your beautiful beaches
#124 laughter, smiles, giggles, and hugs
#125 staying up until 3 in the morning because the fellowship doesn't get much better
#126 sleeping late because you stayed up until 3am
#127 a husband who keeps the kids so I can get a break--God bless him.
#128 that You keep Your promises, Oh Lord

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Sunday, April 10, 2011

March Madness--Literally

So, we are well into April, and I am still trying to get my act together for recording March.  This happens EVERY year.  January and February pass by smoothly, them March comes in roaring like a lion and doesn't quit roaring until sometime in July.  I'm not sure why, but that's just how it always happens.  This fact has become so true in my life that over the years, I now find myself mentally preparing for this season of life the whole last week of February.  I have to take deep breaths and remind myself that nothing is more important than God, Joey, and my kids, and whatever else I manage to cram into the spaces is an added blessing. 
So, February 28th or 29th, every year, I take a deep breath and dive in.....

March 2011=
1) George's birthday (who I forgot to call...again, but I'm praying he forgives me again because that's just the kind of man my Meema married=)

2) Destin's 30th birthday party--much fun had by the boys playing paintball, and apparently testing how close they could shoot at their lower regions--BOYS.

3) A night out with some dear girl friend's to celebrate all our March birthdays.  I believe we actually shut down Maggiano's that night, we stayed out so late.
4) Granddaddy Frank's 88th birthday celebrated on the same day as his brother Uncle Howard, and their sister, Annie Laura came into town to visit.  They are the last three siblings alive of the original 13.  Wow.  I can't even imagine what that must feel like.  I hope my siblings are around to celebrate my 88th with me someday, and that they still care enough to want to come and be together.

5) Mama's Birthday which included a small family get together then some shared birthday shopping the following Wednesday.  Best shopping I've done in a while.  Best part was enjoying the day with my mom=)

6) Quick trip to Birmingham to visit my amazing cousin April and Destin.  Even a quick trip is always a lot of fun.  We all being first borns like to get together and solve the world's problems with each other, especially family stuff ;) Never a dull moment.  Thank you to my parents who let us go kid-free!

7) A couple's shower for Tyson Hill and Megan.  Savannah will be in their wedding as the flower girl, and I can't wait to show you pictures of her in her dress!  She is so excited!

8) My husband did an amazing job of celebrating my birthday all week as usual.  My freezer stayed stocked with hollow chocolate bunnies--which are an OBSESSION of mine if you didn't know--and Baskin Robbins chocolate ice cream.  I got a new road bike--woo hoo!  Bring on the sprint tris!  Flowers, a cookie cake, and a fun evening with family one night and new friends the next.  Couldn't ask for more.

9) Attended my sister-in-love's first baby shower for little Hartley Elizabeth soon to make her appearance in May...can't wait!
10) And the last week was spent packing and preparing to head out of town for Girls Weekend 2011, but that started April 1st, so that's another post for another day.
11) Oh, and somewhere in there I managed to add a new Bible study on Thursday nights to get to know some of the sweet girls in our new Sunday School class--and yes, I still call it that--Sunday School.

And if you managed to hang with that long list of craziness, keep in mind that that was really just the weekends.  Weeks full of gift shopping and buying, outfit planning and purchasing, kid toting and entertaining, laundry, feeding, eating, running, and sleeping aren't even recorded in that list.  March madness indeed.

In all of the craziness, there were so many sweet moments with the kids though.  From visits with their great-grandparents, playing on an ancient rocking horse--I promise shouldn't still be able to hold their weight--to mowing grass with daddy and thinking we are big stuff--Weston really was very serious about his lawn mowing.  I had to work very hard to get him distracted enough to try to get a smile.   
Awe...lawn mowing wouldn't be complete without some blower action.  Weston hangs in for the ride, but it doesn't take much for him to be over that quick. Savannah just twirls and dances in the wind--my little free spirit child.  Sweetness.
April is well underway, but my gratefulness for March abounds. I pray you all are able to find God in the midst of your madness as well.
#102 that April is a perfectly good time to update on March--grace to us all:)
#103 the bouquets picked by a child's pure heart
#104 the smile on a child's face when they have a gift for Mama
#105 a family large and diverse that still finds time to celebrate life together
#106 for elders to honor and respect--great grandparents' lives worth emulating
#107 for sweet friends that take the time to have a good time and just belly laugh together
#108 a husband who stocks my freezer with hollow chocolate bunnies
#109 for warm sunshine and the faithfulness of the green of Spring
#110 that the flowers always bloom, even after the longest or hardest winter
#111 for siblings who cackle and howl and chase each other around the house
#112 for those sounds that fill our home that one day I will miss
#113 the God is faithful to fill in all the emptinesses of life
#114 for a place to belong in a church we can call home
#115 air conditioners, swimming pools, and cool whip
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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Weeds, Flowers, Children--All Gifts

So with the temperatures starting to rise as Spring begins to show it's signs of life around here, I can't help but smile every time my two little children pick me flowers.  My thrift and daffodils have been in full bloom all month, along with several varieties of flowering weeds=)  Weston and Savannah both find the greatest joy in running around and gathering handfuls of flowers and presenting them to me with contagious smiles and tangible excitement.  There is nothing more precious than watching these two carefully choose the flowers they pick for mommy.  My mommy heart melts with every gift.  I can't help but reflect though on these gifts and be grateful for a God who smiles too.

How many times do I come to God with a bouquet full of weeds?  Half-completed attempts at service.  Failed attempts at showing His love.  Barely missed opportunities to share His word, on the tip of my tongue as a moment passes.  Every now and then, a real flower makes it into the bunch.  An honest conversation with a friend that brings encouragement.  An opportunity to share how God has been working in your life.  But let's be honest, in the yard of life, most of what we bring to the Lord are weeds and not flowers.  Yet, I believe he still melts and smiles anyways.

Why?  For the same reason He accepted Able's offering and not Cain's.  It has nothing to do with the actual offering you bring, so much as it has to do with the state of your heart when you bring the offering.  Despite what we'd like to believe, the motive of your heart matters to God.  If my children were drudging around the yard and brought me a bouquet of flowers with sulking attitudes and a I-don't-even-know-why-I'm-doing-this look on their face, I not only wouldn't go through any lengths to keep the flowers, I would be saddened that they even wasted their time if it brought them no joy.

I've discovered in my life that this is often how I weigh what I do and where I serve.  There are a million good things to do for the Lord, to serve Him in many ways.  But what brings me joy?  What lights me up on the inside when I am serving in this or that capacity?  That's the thing that will honor my God, and most likely it is the thing that will require the most sacrifice out of me, but my heart will be right, and my motives pure, so any weeds I may bring Him along the journey will be offered with all the contagious smiles and tangible joy a child of God can offer.

And I believe, He will put them in a glass of water right alongside the real flowers to show them off to a world who's looking for authenticity and not just a pretty arrangement.  I trust that my God knows how to arrange all my weeds--shortcomings, sins, mistakes, failures, missed opportunities, words not spoken--into an arrangement with all my flowers that is good, and pleasing, and perfect according to His will.  After all, He loves me unconditionally even more so than I love my little munchkins:)

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