Friday, July 29, 2011

Sophie Ann

Meet Sophie Ann....






I can't get enough of her...





And, her big brother, Tripp...






These BEAUTIFUL children belong to my irl friend, Emily.  And, I had the honor photographing them!


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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Well....

WARNING!
This post talks about tee-tee!

I had no idea y'all would love yesterday's post so much!  Maybe I should rephrase and say I didn't know y'all would get such a kick out of the fact that I found a naked iPhone picture!  JT's second response to me after finding it was - Delete it!  Only after his first response, which was - Send it to me!

Anyway, my children are saying the funniest things lately!  Taz is just like his Daddy, a little a lot OCD.  He does not like when he goes to use the bathroom, lifts up the toilet seat and finds dry pee on any part of the toilet, from him or John Taylor.  The first time he saw this, he started flipping out....."Oh no!  Mommy!  Mommy!  They missed.  He missed!  Get the wipes....GET THE WIPES!" (I'm not kidding)
So, I calmly explained that it was ok, it was an accident and I would clean it up.

Yesterday, he was in our bathroom and let's just say John Taylor had made a little mess of tee-tee the day before.  Taz lifted the seat and saw an even bigger dried tee-tee spot, and it was sort-of brown in color. (gross, I know, but it's crucial that I tell you that detail and you'll see why...)

He takes one look and says, "Oh no!  Mommy, it's Daddy's poo-poo!  Is that poo-poo?!"
I calmly tell him, with a chuckle, that it's not poo-poo and I will clean it up.  He calms down and says in the sweetest voice, "It's ok, Mama.  It's just an accidance (accident).....it's just chocolate."

Ha.

There you have it.  The greatest blog post you'll ready today.  Go ahead, share it with all your friends.  Everybody's doing it.  And, you don't have to comment telling me how wonderful and inspirational this read has been for you today.  Good day!

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Life.

I discovered a picture on my phone of a person from the waist down that was naked.  I realized that person was me standing in front of my shower door.  Considering the picture before it was of Lighting McQueen and the one after was of the ground, I concluded that my 3.5 year old son took the picture.

In other news, I learned how to delete pictures on my iPhone.
In other (more important) news, I started working out again.

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Can someone please tell me that when your 3 year old turns 4, everything just magically gets so much better?!?  Age 3 has been so much harder than age 2.  Yesterday was particularly hard and sometimes we just have days like that.  I'm sure all toddlers have bad days and I'm super hard on myself, too.

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Our church had the annual serve day a couple of weeks ago.  It's just proof that we can change the world.  Even small people coming together can change things in a big way.  Over 6,000 members of our church served on one day throughout Birmingham and Tuscaloosa and touched the lives of hundreds, even thousands.  My friend Amanda and I served at the Dream Center.  Here are a few pics I snapped with my phone:

worship on the grounds
 the prayer walk through underprivileged neighborhoods
 Amanda and I afterwards.....very sweaty

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My children have a new game.  They get in the kitchen cabinet under the kitchen sink and giggle.  Then, they jump out and see their reflection in the oven door.  They think it's so funny.  I love to hear them whispering and giggling when they are in there, so this is my new screen saver on my phone:

I smile every time I look at my phone.  :)

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We've have some really hard discussions lately.  You know, those that require you to really stop and talk about adult stuff.  Forces you to be the most responsible adult you can be.  Forces you to resist the urge to do what YOU want to do.  Forces you to really think about what you should do.  We've had a lot of those lately and it exhausts me.  Of course, we feel like we're just sitting still until JT gets a job, but when that happens there is lots to decide.  One of the things we're really struggling with is should we just stay in this house for a while.  This is the hardest.  Of course we don't want to stay here and our only wish, hope and prayer was to sell it for so long.  Long story that I won't go into, but we may have to stay here for a while.  And, we might just have to be ok with that.  Then, there are so many things that will in turn affect.  Where our oldest will go to school.  Will we send him there?  Will we homeschool?  If we do homeschool, where would our 'school room' be?  This house is so small!  How does this affect our plans to grow our family in the future?  This is all hard stuff for us.  It's like it's time to make those decisions and we're not ready.  But, I do have faith that if we continue to seek God first and wait for Him, that doors will be open in our favor.  I know now that God's plan was not for us to move away from here.  That was our plan.  We were led back here and it was then that I surrendered and stopped trying to control it.  Since I've put all my trust in Him, huge things have happened.  I will never question again.  So, our plans could very well be to stay in this house for a while, but He may have other plans.  I guess we'll just see and keep taking one day at a time.  Thanks for reading my rambles.....

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I've been spending a lot of time with Taz drawing and painting.  A friend and blog reader suggested I draw and paint pictures of everything going on in our life to help him understand.  It's been wonderful!  Plus, I just like spending the time with him one-on-one while Liz is napping.  :)  It's so much fun.
  I could totally see myself homeschooling and LOVING it!
 Right now, I'm teaching him to write his name and hold his pencil/paint brush right.  He can spell his name and even say he's writing it, but it doesn't look quite like it yet.
 I do wish we had a bigger space, a 'bonus' room that I could set up with all kinds of learning tools and games and books for the kids.  One day.....I guess I can dream in the mean time...and continue to paint at the kitchen table.  :)

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My heart and mind are so full of things I would love to share with y'all.  I wish I could just explain in words all the crazy, wonderful, life-changing things that have happened in our lives since moving back here.  I sit down and I want to share and then I don't know where to begin.  I know if I were to just sit down and start typing, it would do me some good.  And, I know you want to hear.  Someone wrote me and asked me if I could share my story.  Well, I would love to, but not now.  I don't know where to start and I'm overwhelmed thinking about it.  But, I would absolutely LOVE to write a book.  I met one of my favorite writers and he told me to start with my story.  Why?  Because it's one that no one else has and no one has ever heard.  So true.  There is something about sharing you story though.  What is it?  It's complicated.  And, I don't think I'm at that place of confidence yet.  Most importantly, I want my words to glorify Him.  Time.  Patience.  Trust.  Surrender.  That's what I keep repeating over and over.  But, I do have a story and it's so much more than what you've learned on this little bloggy blog.  I wish I could just start somewhere, but where?  I'm trying.  Until then, I hope this little blog blesses you in some way, even if it's small.  :)

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Before I go, I wanted to share that no matter what anyone tells you being a mom is so hard.  Being a parent is so hard.  It is seriously the hardest thing I've ever done.  And, being a stay-at-home-mom.....even harder.  I love every minute of it and I'm SO blessed that I get to continue to stay at home with my children.  Some days are hard and some days are harder than that.  But, all days are full of life....that's for sure. 

I'll leave on that note.
Let's not even talk about the fact that I started this post at 6:15 this morning and I'm just now getting done at 12:41 in the afternoon.  At 8:15 I remember a doctor appointment I had at 8:30.  We were still in our pj's, my car had no gas and I had told my brother I would watch his little girl at 9:30.  Yea.  Story of my life.  Chaos.

xoxo

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Monday, July 25, 2011

P.R.A.Y. continued

Last week, I post Part 2 of the Encouraging Husbands Series.  It was called P.R.A.Y. and you can read it HERE.  Thank you so much for all the encouraging comments and John Taylor and I both thank you for the prayers and well wishes on the day of his interview.  The interview went well and we're just in the waiting period now.  There were 7 others interviewed for this same position.  I know that if this is not the door for him, God will close it immediately and another one will open.  We can't understand or see the big picture now, but I'm gonna have to stick with my word of the year.....TRUST.  Our current sermon series at church is called.....what other than....DOORS.  Yes.  Can you believe it?  You should have seen us.  The past two weeks, John Taylor has teared up twice.  I flat out cried twice.  We've looked at each other in pure agreeing and belief in what Pastor Chris said.  I got chill bumps approximately 27 times (and it wasn't because I was cold).  And, I did the ole "nod my head as if to say AMEN" thing in my seat.  Yes, God's voice is THE way and the only way in life.  It's the truth, the light, the guide.  What do we have to do to hear His voice?  Show up.  Seek.  Listen.  Ask.  One thing Pastor Chris said that really stuck with me was that God doesn't show us the whole picture and every step now.  If he did that, we'd somehow mess it up and learn nothing from it.  So true.

I did not share any prayers with you on my last post in the series, so I wanted to share with you today.  I found this wonderful guide online and I've used it before.  Thought you may want to use it, too:


I love, love, love this and all the scripture it provides to help you with your prayers each day.  I would love to hear your thoughts and how prayer has moved your marriage!

Hope you have a wonderful week!

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Thursday, July 21, 2011

John Taylor

My husband.....
I just have to say how proud I am of him.  How he's handled things and how he continues to press on.
He has an interview this morning.  He's on his way to it now, as I type this.  I'm praying for him and for God's Will to be done in his life.
I would love for him to come to my blog today to read and find some words of encouragement!  Show some comment love to my love....my talented, humble, forgiving, funny, handsome husband.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Part 2 - P.R.A.Y.

Thank you all for the sweet, encouraging comments on Part 1.  And, sorry for my absence lately.  It seems we've all been sick over and over.

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"The strength of a man and wife joined together in God’s sight is far greater than the sum of the strengths of each of the two individuals."
~ Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Wife

I have found that one of the most encouraging things I can do for my husband and marriage is to PRAY.  I had no clue how to pray a while back.  I still feel like I could use some help.  But, the good news is that our prayers don't have to be fancy or done in a fancy fashion.  The main thing is that we are completely up front with the Lord.  Even though He knows our hearts and hears our prayers, I can promise you that it makes such a HUGE difference to say the prayers out loud and let it all out. 

One book that made a huge difference in my prayer walk for our marriage, and in turn made a huge difference in our marriage, was The Power of a Praying Wife, by Stomie Omartian
Here is the insert from Amazom.com about the book:
Bestselling author Stormie Omartian inspires women to develop a deeper relationship with their husbands by praying for them. This encouraging resource is packed with practical advice on praying for specific areas of a husband’s life including his
  • decision–making
  • fears
  • spiritual strength
  • role as father, leader
  • faith and future
Every woman who desires a closer relationship with her husband will appreciate the life illustrations, select Scripture verses, and the assurances of God’s promises and power for their marriage.

When we started down a hard road, someone asked me if I was praying for our situation and our marriage.  I said yes.  But, it wasn't until we moved back to Birmingham that I really learned about the power of prayer....and what I was to pray for and how. 

Think about this.

If we are Christians, then we believe in the Bible.  Right?
If we believe in the Bible, then we believe in Angels.  Right?
If we believe in Angels, then we believe in demons and evil spirits.  Right?
Are some of you putting on the breaks on that last one?  Look it up.  They are real.  And, they will attack our marriages.  The good news is we can pray them away.  Put on praise music, speak God's word and your prayers out loud.  Open the doors and windows if you want.  Think I'm sounding sort-of looney?  Well, try it for 30 days and see how your life changes!  Embrace the looney.

If your husband is struggling (or even if he's not) and he is running from God, pray over everything that represents him.  Write your prayers and Bible verses on index cards and put them in between the mattress and box spring.  After all, the marriage bed is one of the things that represents your marriage the most.  Pray over his clothes and ask God to protect him when he is at work.  Pray over his shoes so that he may walk toward God and not away.  Ask God to instruct his steps and guide him.  Pray over his meals when you cook for him --- that he'll develop a longing for God and a deep hunger for His Word.  Pray over his wallet, that he may be a good steward of the finances in your family.  Get what I'm saying?

What if my husband doesn't pray for me?
"And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right." 2 Thessalonians 3:13
God never leaves or forsakes us and our prayers are heard.  Even if only one person is praying in a marriage, it can be greatly touched by those prayers so, never give up and keep praying.  Pray like you've never prayed before!  Bump up your prayer time.  I can tell you from experience that once prayer starts to work miracles in your marriage, your husband will want to know what is happening.  What is different.  Tell him you've been praying for him.  Don't assume he doesn't pray for you, you may be surprised.  But, ask him to pray for you and tell him where you need prayer the most.  Me?  I feel very attacked by satan when I haven't gotten enough rest or taken good care of myself.  I ask JT to pray for my rest so that I'm the best mother I can be.  That's just one example.

Align your heart with God and trust the spirit that is living in you and lead not on your own understanding.  That way, when you pray for your husband, it won't be for your sake but so that your husband will feel the blessings God has for him.

What if I'm mad at my husband?  How can I pray for someone when they have hurt me and I'm angry?
"Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." Luke 6:28
Prayer releases anger.  I have found that it's as simple as asking God to help you with those feelings and He never fails.  Even in our deepest hurts and struggles, we are held by God.  Sometimes after an argument it's hard to restore our husband's to our personal favor.  And, it's hard to respond to them in a loving and Godly matter.  But, it's practicing those that will made me feel the best.  God is good like that --- taking our deepest struggles and showing us that through His way, we can grow and so much good can come.

"Something amazing happens to our hearts when we pray for another person. The hardness melts. We become able to get beyond the hurts, and forgive. We even end up loving the person we’re praying for. It’s miraculous! It happens because when we pray we enter into the presence of God and He fills us with His Spirit of love. I’ve seen women with no feelings of love for their husbands find that as they prayed, over time, those feelings came. Sometimes they felt differently even after the first heartfelt prayer."
~Stormie Omartian, The Power of a Praying Wife

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Here is a great acronym my sister introduced me to long ago to help with our prayers:

P.R.A.Y.

P - PRAISE
"He is your praise and He is your God, who has done these great and awesome things for you which your eyes have seen..." Deut. 10:21
"Therefore I will give thanks to You, O LORD, among the nations, and I will sing praises to Your name..." 2 Samuel 22:50
Spend a moment praising God for all His blessings.

R - REPENT
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” Acts 3:19
Take this time to repent and do just that.  Repent.

A - ASK
 "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7-8

Take this time to ask God for strength, wisdom, help with your struggles.

Y - YIELD
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God." Romans 12:1-2
Yield to God's Will for your life, your husband, and your marriage.

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I also wanted to share an insert from our church membership class book that I think is such a great guide to prayer.  It's also reveals the purpose of prayer so nicely.  The following content was taken from the Church of the Highlands Growth Track book:

The purpose of daily prayer time
To GIVE devotion to God.
"Hezekian was successful, because everything he did...he did in a spirit of complete devotion to his God" 2 Chronicles 31:21

To GET direction from God.
"Show me the path where I should go, O Lord; point out the right road for me to walk.  Lead me..." Psalm 25:4

To GAIN delight in God.
"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4

To GROW more like God.
"Jesus has the power of God, by which He has given us everything we need to live and to serve God.  We have these things because we know Him....With these gifts you can share in being like God" 2 Peter 1:4

The model Jesus gave us
PRAISE: I begin by expressing LOVE to God.
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name...."

PURPOSE: I commit myself to doing God's WILL.
"Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven...."

PROVISION: I ask God to PROVIDE my daily needs.
"Give us this day, our daily bread..."

PARDON: I ask God to FORGIVE my sins.
"Forgive us our debts..."

PEOPLE: I pray for OTHER people.
"...as we have also forgiven our debtors."

PROTECTION: I ask for SPIRITUAL protection.
"And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil."

"Praying consistently will change your life.  In fact, many of the blessings God wants you to enjoy will never be realized unless you pray."
~unknown
Since this post turned out to be longer than I expected, I plan to share some great prayers for your husband and your marriage that will encourage you and in turn encourage your spouse in my next post!

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Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Part 1 :: Surrender

To read Introduction, CLICK HERE

Definition of SURRENDER:
To yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand.
To give up in favor of another.
To give over or resign (oneself) to something, as to an emotion.

Wow.  Read that again.  To "in favor of another".  To "give over or resign to something [God], as to an emotion".  That's just what I've had to learn.....

At the start of 2011, I was drawn to the fact that bloggers everywhere were choosing one word for 2011 and blogging about their one word.  I had no idea at the time how much this word would evolve over the months, but for some reason I choose TRUST.  With trust, came SURRENDER.  I did a search in my email using the word "surrender" and over 25 emails popped up since January 1, 2011 with the word surrender in them.  Some were emails I wrote, but most were emails from friends, blog readers or devotions I get via email that happen to have that word in them.  Coincidence?  No.  God Speaking?  Yes.

"But I began to sense God speaking to me: The answer for the trees and for me was warmth. The sun's warmth eventually melted the ice and relieved the trees of their burden. Likewise, instead of continuing to wrestle with all my heavy questions, I began to surrender them to God and to dwell on the warmth of God's love for me." 
~Beverly Varnado

What about the opposite of surrender?  A few words that pop up in Google..... CONQUER, ATTACK....
I don't even want to go on.  So, if I'm not surrendering my husband, our relationship, our marriage to God, then what am I doing?  I'm trying to conquer it, and maybe even attack it!  But, the one word that comes to mind because it fits my personal case is CONTROL.  When I feel I'm "helping" [control], God can not work in my husband, our marriage.  It's not until I surrender everything to the Lord that I will see changes.  As long as I try to control every aspect of my marriage, I will never be free.  But, when I TRUST Him with my marriage....now that's encouraging. 

When I think of the word "control", I immediately think of the word "selfishness".  Do you?  Let's think about this.  It's actually pretty simple.....
One major way we can encourage our husbands is just to simply surrender our relationship.  It may not even be with words at all.  It may just be the fact that we are surrendering to Him.  No control.  no selfishness.  Love.  Love is what is left when you surrender.  Love is what is there when selfishness is removed.  We all want to love our husbands, right?  How can we love our spouse if we aren't surrendering?  How can we encourage our spouse when we are conquering them and attacking them and trying to control them by trying to change them?  AHHHHH!  Stop the madness!

I recently heard Pastor Randy Bezet speak and he said something that made perfect sense that I'm sure a lot of us can relate to.  We think success comes from strife...from trying harder.  Maybe my marriage will be better if I just try harder.....Maybe my husband will be just like I want him to be if I tell [control] him how I want him to be.....But, he also said that doesn't come from strife.  When we are part of the Kingdom of God, success comes from SURRENDERING.

TRUST GOD.  Period.

There is hope.  It doesn't take much to reverse the process.  Just surrender.  How?  Well, in my case I always try to conquer, control, attack when  I don't know who I am....when I'm insecure.  We must know ourselves and love ourselves first.  If our spouse is to love us, trust us and our motives, then we must first trust Him.  To trust Him, we must know Him.  Right? 

"I want to be an uncomplicated wife for my husband...I want to be the peaceful presence in his life..."
~ Holly Wagner, author of GodChicks and The Men They Love

I want to share with you a snippet of an email I got from a blog reader.  She has walked the same road we've walked and she is such a dear friend and inspiration to me.  She learned a lesson in surrendering her husband and relationship, too.....

"Up until that point, I had not cried,  but sometime during the night I cried deep, gut-wrenching cries in desperate prayer for redemption from the disappointment, shame, pain, and fear ...And, more importantly, I surrendered.  I surrendered any control - perceived or otherwise - that I had over [my husband] ... over our situation.  I had desperately tried to hold it all together for so long.  I let it all go.  I gave it back to God, and I apologized begging him to take it.  For the first time in my life, I held nothing. 
So, it's then that God can finally work.  When you have a stance of surrender with zero to offer.  It's where God simultaneously had [my husband] and I both ... me alone on our couch in our home and he in a hospital bed across town."


Wow.  What profound words.
Let's just try this.  Instead of living everyday of our life in battle trying to conquer, lets ask God to reveal what we need to change in ourselves.  I'm pretty sure we'll be in awe of what is revealed.  The redemption that God brings out of our surrendering will send us on an amazing path.


"I'm reminded that we shouldn't wait for God to break us, but rather, we must choose to be broken.
I wake every morning to face battles against the "beast" of self - I need a stack of white flags to wave at God!  I do think our biggest battle we wage is against our own flesh and it's desire to control and be god. The beast that is self wants to fight against God being God all the way, but when we surrender to Him - that is when the battle is won for our souls."
~Alyssa, Resolve2Worship


A prayer of surrender:
“Father,
In the name of Jesus, I am now willing to place my body, my soul, my spirit, my marriage and my entire life into Your hands. I now ask that You place me into Your perfect will and plan for my life.
Father, from this moment on, I will choose to stay fully surrendered to You all the days of my life, and will allow You to lead and direct my life in the direction that You will want it to go in.
Thank you Father.
Thank you Jesus.”

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