Friday, January 14, 2011

Cabin Fever Crazies

This is what we have been up to in this snow-filled week:

1. Potty Training

Unfortunately, this picture turned out blurry. Thankfully I captured this potty dance with the video camera too. Friday afternoon when I went to get Miss Priss up from her nap, she had taken off her diaper because it was wet and then proceeded to wet the bed. That sent me into motion. I had been putting of potty training for awhile, trying to let things level out around our house with all of the changes. This incident was the push I'd been needing, and I went into fast motion. I ran out to Books-A-Million and bought Toilet Training in Less than a Day. Published in 1974, it is a tried and true method and was recommended by many friends. I sped-read that and put it with the info I had read from Potty Training in 3 Days or Less.

Saturday was the day! Both methods strongly suggest practice and rewards, so we woke up, put on her big girl panties and tshirt, made up a potty dance, pumped her full of juice and waited... for 3 and a half hours... It was a battle of the wills, but finally when she couldn't handle it any more, she ran to her potty, said, "I need some privacy," shut the door, and peed in her potty! Patrick and I looked at each other, dropped our jaws, and mouthed, "Seriously? Who knew?"

She has had a couple of accidents [a few at my parents... she'd be on her way and go before she got there... too much football excitement!], but we have been accident free since Tuesday afternoon. Church and school will be a test, but she is doing great and is so proud of herself! We are still using pullups at night, but she's woken up dry the last 3 mornings. Mommy is POOPED!

2. Finding her thumb.

Just like her daddy. :)

3. Starting Children's Worship at church.

She loved it and has been singing the songs all week.

4. Donning new bonnets at church

5. Cheering on Auburn in the National Championship [even Patrick] and loving every minute of it! All we do is win...

Loving my littlest champion!

6. Playing in the snow

It was beautiful, and we had fun, but I am ready to get out of the house for sure!

I like to play it safe.

My life isn't turning out like I thought it would.

And yet I have everything I ever thought I always wanted: a loving husband, two sweet daughters, a family pet, a nice house, a good job, wonderful friends, family nearby.

Something is missing.

I have recently been so convicted that I am not living out my faith like I had idealistically in college thought I would be doing. Going to Auburn was the first time I didn't play it safe. I didn't even consider it a choice until February of my Senior year of high school when all of my safe choices were annoying me to no end, and then I chose to go to a place where I knew no one. (What was I thinking?) Going there opened my eyes to taking risks and being radical. Of course I made my mistakes, but I also fell in love with the Lord. I learned about discipleship, and I felt the cost of it. My goal was to help people find the Lord and find Salvation. My college experience lead me into ministry. So idealistically bright-eyed and wonder-filled, I leapt against the grain and dove into making a difference in the lives of college students at my rival campus.

While I loved and cherished many of my ministry experiences, I also was met with the greatest disappointment I have ever experienced in my Christian life. I have never been more discouraged that when church elders, ministers, members turned blind eyes to the corruption of one of its beloved leaders, and in turn, their backs on me and another colleague.

Even though my family and friends enveloped me in love and support, I ran. Thankfully, I ran to Patrick. If anything good came from my heartbreak, it was that I ended up in the same town as my husband who had been waiting so patiently for me to choose him. We married shortly after, and I healed... sort of.

Patrick experienced his own disappointments in ministry, and two broken spirits prayed and asked God to take us out of it. We moved to Nashville, got great new jobs, and started our family. We tried out churches, briefly settled at one, and after other disappointments and discouragements, sought refuge at my home church. Along the way, the corruption that I thought had ruined me during my ministry stint was brought to light, but I found no satisfaction, no redemption, in that either. I just kept going through the motions of playing church and living *mostly* right.

I like to have a plan for my life. I like to keep a budget and really adhere to it. I like to have goals and meet them. I like to save money for something special. I like that my daughters are 2 years apart. I like that Patrick and I moved back to Nashville. I like that we go to the church I was raised in.

However, that all brings me to where I--discontentedly--sit now.

I am not discontent in my marriage, with my children, in the other wonderful things that fill my life, but I am discontent because I don't know that I am living sacrificially.

It's not about me.

It's not. I always get annoyed at people's facebook profiles where in the about me section, they write "it's not." But really... It's not. I pray about so many specific things in MY life, but the only significance about MY life is that it should glorify MY God. So, it's not about my wounds or my goals or my possessions. It is about living in such a way that reflects my overwhelming love for my Creator. For nothing being as important as my desire to serve Him.

I know that my human flaws are real, and they are there so that God's grace can cover me. I am not aiming for perfection, and I even acknowledge the things in my life that have spiritual value--teaching my daughters about God's love for them and how to love others, working on my marriage so that my daughters can see what imperfect but God-honoring marital love can look like, worshipping God in community. But I even want those things to be more glorifying to Him than satisfying to me.

Somewhere along the way, my disappointments with church, with people who I thought were good, with ministry made me put my guards back up. It made me want to play it safe again. I let my guard completely down and got burned, and I wasn't going to let that happen again. So I played it safe. I play at church. I play at being a Christian. I am not being a true disciple. I've made it about me.

I once wrote an article about the cost of discipleship; I really thought I "got" it, and right now, I am not sure what my discipleship is costing me. How is my life different because I am a Christian? Am I living an obedient life? Am I willing to not play it safe again... to go where God calls me, to minister as He urges me, to invest, to purge?

Where I am feels scary. It feels desperate. But for the first time in a LONG time, it feels freeing. For the first time in a long time, I am asking God, What do you want my life to be? And I'm ready to play it not-so-safe.

"I listen carefully to what God the Lord is saying, for he speaks peace to his people, his faithful ones." ~Psalm 85:8

Friday, January 07, 2011

New year... new you?

I think reflection is just part of me. As a touchy-feely English teacher (not-so-much), much of my grad school education classes required me to stop, reflect, and make necessary changes in hopes of rejuvenating my teacher spirit. Whether it worked or not, the habit has stuck with me all these years.

I love new beginnings. The start of a new school year, spring flowers and blooms, the beginning of summer, birthdays, and the new year. I make resolutions at each new year, as well as at the mark of each corner rounded, but I feel like it's the same song, different station... My new resolutions are never really new.

When I was filling out the pages of my new Mom Agenda planner (thanks, Linds), the quote of the week jumped out at me:

"Nobody can go back and start a new beginning,
but anyone can start
and make a new ending."
~Maria Robinson

So, I've been thinking, what does that mean for my life? Where do I want this to go? How do I want this to end?

I keep thinking about my "Streams in the Desert" days of college and ministry and the verse that inspired those thoughts, Isaiah 43:19 from the Message:

Be alert, be present.
I'm about to do something brand-new.
It's bursting out! Don't you see it?
There it is! I'm making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.

The verse before that one talks about forgetting the "former," the "old history." I do believe that there is value in taking inventory of where I am and where I've been, but I must stop dwelling in my "history" of shortcomings. Lord, please do a new thing in me this year.

"Happiness is not a station you arrive at,
but a manner of traveling."
~Margaret Lee Runbeck

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

My Beautiful Mess and her Big Bad Wolf

This beautiful girl...

is as much of a mess as the pictures below suggest.

And her current obsession is STILL with the Big Bad Wolf.

Typical conversations include him, and many times each day, she says, "Hey Mom. You know the Big Bad Wolf? Well, he's gonna get me. He's gonna blow me down."

Innocently, my dad read her the story of the 3 Little Pigs. Let's just say it stuck.

Even after a myriad of reassurances that the Big Bad Wolf doesn't live at our house or even know where we live, we still have to check under her bed, in her closet, and in our attic closets for the Big Bad Wolf; we pray for the Big Bad Wolf; she even sings about the BBW. The other night, she adlibbed the Elmo Loves You song, and sang, "Elmo loves the Big Bad Wolf; Elmo loves Big Bird too. But most of all, Elmo loves you!"

She even asked Jaydee and Bear to take that piggie book away...

Today tops it all.

Little Mess had to take off her Belle dress and go to Time Out for disobeying Mommy. She jumped from the couch to the ottoman one too many times. When I asked her if she knew why she was in Time Out, she responded by shrugging her shoulders, hanging her head, and saying, "Yeah, Mommy. I disobeyed God. I can't go to the garden. (We recently read her about Adam and Eve.) And he's the big boss. And then Mommy is the boss. And then I'm the little boss," smiling ever-so-sweetly. Then, she continued somberly, "But God, you see, he will protect me. He will still protect me from the Big Bad Wolf. The Big Bad Wolf wants to come in here and blow Time Out down... Yeah. So, sorry mom. Sorry I jumped on the couch. I'll obey you now."

Lesson Learned. Thanks to the Big Bad Wolf?

A Picture of Happiness

Even after long nights, growth spurt induced fussiness, and exhaustion, this beautiful face warms my heart. I am overwhelmed with thankfulness for the precious gift of this sweet soul. She is the fruition of the longings of my heart and gives my days...and nights... purpose.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Ansley at 2 months

Having tummy time in her cribSanta Baby on Christmas Eve
Worn out after her first Sunday at church on Dec 19.
Smiling on Christmas Day
At 2 months, sweet Ansley has really come alive! She is 23 3/4 inches and in the 80th %; she weighs 10lbs, 2oz and is in the 30th %; her head is 39 cm and is in the 70th%.

She now smiles all the time--late at night when we shine a flashlight to see if she is asleep, when I wake her in the mornings, and any time in between. She especially likes to smile at men...

She is starting to like tummy time and is lifting her head. She has even rolled over 3 times. She loves her mobile. She is happiest when being held. Being the little sister, she is NOT shy at letting us know when she needs or wants something.

Prior to 2 months, she was eating about 4-5 ounces every 3 hours during the daytime. Now, she must be going through a growth spurt because she is wanting to eat every 2-2.5 hours. Yikes! Her sleeping is starting to get more on a schedule too, now that she is awake more. She wears herself out during playtime.

Poor thing caught my cold, and so we have returned her to our room at night so she can sleep in her swing which elevates her head more.

I am still being sensitive to her tummy troubles, but we are hoping it is more of a sensitivity to milk rather than an allergy.

This little girl captures our hearts more each day, and we love the hard and the easy, the good and not so good, the rewarding and the trying moments with her and our little family of 4.

Christmas Highlights

Before Christmas, Linds and I let the big girls do another craft. They made gingerbread ladies with a kit from Trader Joe's. It was a bit simpler and definitely less involved than our ornaments. They loved it.

On Christmas Eve we celebrated with my mom's side of the family at her parents' home with our traditional dinner complete with peppermint parfaits.
Wish you could see sweet Ansley's face, but I like this family shot nonetheless.
Sweet sister shot.
That night Santa and his helper got to work!

looking through her loot.
Bathtime Belle was a major hit, and Addison hasn't quite figured out that she's just supposed to be a bath toy.
Another hit: Princess and the Frog big girl panties! Pants on the ground.

Santa loves babies too!

At Jaydee and Bear's after brunch, giving Sawyer his present.
Just what she wanted, a Belle dressup dress!
Jaydee and Bear with the kiddos
Ballerina princesses in their tutus.
The littlest cousins loved Christmas too!We traveled to Nana and Pop's for Christmas dinner. Ready to open presents!
Pop and Nana with their grandkiddos
The big girls
Daddy with his girls
We had a great whirlwind Christmas but are excited about 2011 and adjusting to our new normal.