Sunday, April 29, 2012


If you have kids, then you know that sometimes you go to bed and your child literally changes every night.  Or you leave the house, and when you come home you could swear that your child looks older.  It's like they grew up while you were away, and you get a glimpse of what your child will look like or be like in a few years.  And then you try not to cry... emphasis on "try."

Lil's seven-month birthday was like this.  On Thursday I literally had to wrap my mind around the fact that she has been here for seven months.  I feel like I was pregnant yesterday.  I feel like we just came home from the hospital.  But mostly, I just feel like she should still be a newborn... but she's changing and growing before my very eyes.  And on her seven month birthday we made two discoveres: #1 - her first little tooth is finally popping through.  In true Lilly-fashion, she hasn't even batted an eye on this.  There was no extra snot, drool, fever, or crankiness, so I was shocked when Josh thought he felt one.  But sure enough, there is was, a little tiny nub of a tooth on the bottom right.  She doesn't let anybody look at it since the little one loves to stick out her tongue, but we did get a quick glimpse before bed last night.  I love a baby's toothless grin, but I know she's going to be thrilled that this brings her one step closer to more solid foods... that girl loves to eat!

Discovery #2 - Baby Girl is on the move!  She's been low-man scooting for awhile, and rolling her way back and forth across the living room, but on that 7-month marker, it all came together.  And what is it with babies and iPhones by the way:

I did not know that having a little girl would be so special.  I love Jacob in such big ways, and I am amazed that I can love her equally, but different.  No mother can explain it I'm sure, but the love I feel for them is so special and unique to each of them, because they are both so special and unique.  But what I love best is how much the like each other!  Jake took awhile to come around, but now he cannot get enough of his little sister, even to the point that he basically screams in her face when she's sleeping, because he wants her to wake up and play!  He's been "teaching" her how to crawl, telling her "Okay, Lilly" when she cries, putting her pacy in her mouth, bouncing her when she's in her jump-a-roo, putting his forehead right up to hers when she's on all-fours (which makes her laugh), giving her kisses, and showing an overall, genuine concern for her when she's upset.  He loves his baby "E" and that makes a mama's heart overflow.  And Lilly?  Oh my gosh, she thinks he hung the moon!  He does things to her that give me a minor heart attack and she just laughs and laughs!  Nobody can get her going like he does!  And as soon as Jake realized that he has a constant, loving audience?  Yeah, he just eats it right up!  They are two peas in a pod these days and I hope that as parents we can always continue to cultivate and grow that relationship so that they'll always have a special bond.  Nothing would make me happier.

So what's Lilly like at 7 months?

  • Has one brand-new tooth
  • Sits up on her own, but still can't get into that position by herself
  • Can successfully do a low-man's Army-type crawl
  • Wears 9-12 month clothes, but we're almost out of anything left in the 9-month range, particularly pajamas.  Dresses still work
  • Wears size FOUR diapers.  Yes, you read that correctly.  To put it into perspective, Jake wears a size five.  But that round belly is the cutest thing you've ever seen!  Plus, we took the girth of her thighs and compared it to Jake's and cousin Adam's... she has them both beat!  Those rolls are delicious (and will soon melt off now that she's getting her workout on!)
  • Mostly nurses, but takes at least one bottle a day, mostly to give me a break.  She holds her own bottle, which is so helpful!
  • Has solid food only at dinnertime, mostly because she's so content on milk and growing like a weed.  So far we've had peas, green beans, avocado, sweet potatoes, and bananas, all of which we mix with oatmeal to thicken it up.  Plus, she loves to gnaw on saltine crackers.  We've tried yogurt drops, and while she can pick them up, she still can't really figure out how to get them into her mouth.
  • She finally loves bath time and splashes around, which in turn makes Jake soak the entire bathroom.  This could get interesting over the next few months!
  • Notices and watches the TV when it's on, particularly when it's one of Jake's favorite shows
  • LOVES the iPhone, my laptop, and anything electronic.  I think this is a universal baby-thing
  • Bounces like a crazy person in her jump-a-roo (and even when she's not in it!)
  • Is attempting to pull herself up onto things, but has had no success so far.  I'm okay with that.
There's more of course, but these are just a few of the things that I want to remember.  Her personality is still just about the sweetest thing you'd ever come across.  I've had many people tell me that they've never heard her cry, and that's probably because she rarely does!  Try to change her clothes though and that all changes... my baby would rather be naked!  But in those moments, she reaches for me, and she stops immediately.  Now THAT, my friends, is what makes motherhood so special.  God knows we need those moments, and I cherish it every time it happens.

Speaking of motherhood, May is Mom's Day month and in honor of that I am going to do a series of mom-related posts.  I have a few friends who are either expecting or just had a baby, but I have several more who have all been there already.  Together we are like an arsenal of advice!  I'll post the dates on what days I'll post what and I'd love to have you join me!  Topics include hospital must-haves, top 5 baby gear items, don't waste your money baby gear items, maternity leave survival and sanity (how not to just sit around in your pajamas all day!  Haha!),  all about your diaper bag (and why you love it or what you wish it had), and just a general post about how motherhood has changed you.  If you've already posted on any of these topics, you can just link up your old post to mine so you don't have to start all over.  But if you haven't, put your thinking caps on and join in the fun... the more the merrier!  Look for posting dates early this week!  

Friday, April 27, 2012

Losing It - Week 1

Well, I survived.  I didn't starve to death, nor did I really have to adjust too terribly much, and the scale moved in the right direction!  I told you in my last post that this contest was going to be hard for me, but let me elaborate.

I give you Exhibit A:

Yes, this arrived on my doorstep about three days before our church-wide biggest loser contest started.  Talk about bad luck!  My first thought?  Eat every last cookie before the contest began... it would be a win-win: I'd get to eat tons of deliciousness and my initial weigh-in would be higher, giving me more weight to lose!  But somehow, I have held out and only managed to clean off a cookie box (or two).  The rest are tucked safely in the back of the freezer, not to come out over these next eight weeks.  So how did my week go?  Here's a recap:

Saturday - Initially weighed in to find that I weigh less than I thought I did (yay!).  This is probably due to my family's biggest loser contest that we did through March.  This just goes to show that weight loss does not come easy and progress sometimes is not seen until weeks later.  This is the delayed result of my hard work at the beginning of the year, so I'm glad I'm doing this again before it all creeps back on.  Saturday was a major fail.  I went to a birthday party and since I made the cake, figured that I should get to eat it.  That's only fair, right?  Still don't think so?  Okay fine then, but don't pass judgement until you check out my handy-work via crappy cell-phone picture:

Cake decorating is just a hobby of mine, and it generally includes a lot of experimentation (and prayer that I don't ruin it in the process).  This was the product of hours of my life, so yes, I deserved a piece.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.  I did manage to only eat fruit and two mini-sandwiches at the party, so the cake was basically my lunch.  And then I was so close to being good at dinnertime until Josh ran some errands and I got a craving for a burrito.  I fought the craving and the burrito won.  Chipotle - 1, Kim - 0.  On the upside, I only ate half and wrapped up the other half for the next day.  On the downside, this means that I ate a super fattening (half) burrito two days in a row.

Sunday - Discovered my newest true love:

Frosted Mini Wheats are going to be my secret weapon through this.  They are surprisingly not too terrible for you, especially when paired with skim milk.  I am a full-fat milk kind of gal, but these goodies work in skim... score one for me!  Plus, it keeps you... uh... regular.  Yeah, TMI... moving on.  I did eat the other half of my burrito on Sunday, but had second bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats for dinner, so I feel like it kind of balanced out.  And my major mistake?  Running out the door without my morning cup of coffee.  I did not realize that I'm addicted to caffeine until I spent the day with a headache.  Sounds like it's time to cut back.

Monday - Realized that cutting back on coffee would be more difficult than I thought.  Let me introduce you to true love #2:

To the makers of International Delight coffee creamer, I would kiss the ground you walk on.  Coffee, chocolate, and coconut?  Ummm... yes, please!  That's like the trifecta of perfection.  I have decided that the 60 calories in 2 tablespoons of this goodness is worth it and I can cut out 60 calories elsewhere.  Monday was day one of meal planning, which I'm doing in an effort to eat healthier and save money on groceries, so we enjoyed a delicious and fairly healthy dinner of almond-crusted pork chops, rice, and black eyed peas.  A little starchy, but not bad.  But I do have to admit, four Thin Mints snuck their way into my diet that day, too.  Oops.

Tuesday - Coffee?  Check.  Two cups... 120 calories.  Frosted mini wheats?  Check.  I'm officially obsessed.  And then I kind of snacked all day.  I had purchased a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store though, and grazed on that and crackers.  Not terrible and I stayed under my daily allotment.  Plus, this gal got a very short workout in.  I have a half marathon coming up next weekend (the first since having kids- yikes!) and I have fallen off of the training wagon since our Keeneland race a few weeks ago.  I'm not thinking that this race will break any records.

Wednesday - Same ol' start to my day, but for lunch I made a salad.  Yay for me!  I love restaurant salads, but never feel like they are as good at home. This one was fairly decent, but I was hungry about an hour later.  Guess I need to work on that.  The major fail of the day?  Eating dinner at 9:30 PM... such is the life of a church planter and his wife... ministry calls sometimes!

Thursday (yesterday) - I did great all day and ate the usual for breakfast and a leftover taco for lunch.  A tortilla, sauteed taco chicken, salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese keep it pretty light.  In the past, I must admit, I would have eaten two of three, but one satisfied me just fine.  We met up with our connect group last night and the group ended up heading to Chick-Fil-A.  Uh-oh.  My mind was telling me to order a salad, but oh that #1 with buffalo sauce is so very hard to resist!  So yes, friends, I gave in to the EAT MOR CHIKIN craving.  And French fries.  And a Cherry Coke.  And, sadly, half of an ice cream cone.  I didn't feel all that bad about it until I entered all of the food into my phone to check the calories.  Yeah, I was under for the week until this.  *Sigh*

So with week one behind me here is what I've learned: losing weight does not have to take drastic changes in your current diet.  What it does take (for me) is some pretty serious changes in your portion sizes.  Our cereal bowls were created for giants, and so I've been pouring my cereal into a smaller-sized bowl, and sharing bites with Jake, which helps.  I had half of my burrito instead of gorging myself on the whole thing, and I probably felt better than I would have if I had stuffed myself.  Plus, the other half was just as tasty the next day.  And one taco instead of three (and four Thin Mints instead of the whole row) made some serious differences in my weekly calorie intake.  Easy peasy changes for week one that I'm going to stick with.  So what's the goal to add for week 2?  I'm going to drink only water.  Yep, no more soft drinks for this chick.  I actually gave them up a long time ago and then Lilly came along... and she made her mama crave some Coca-Cola like it was nobody's business!  The craving has since stuck around, so we'll see how this goes.  So water it is.  Oh, and coffee of course... let's not get TOO crazy here, I just said "cut back," not live in a non-caffeinated world... who do you think I am??

For those of you participating I hope your week one went well also.  So far I have collected about 8 or 9 weigh-in's and everyone's scale moved in the right direction... way to go!  Week 2 here we come!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Reflections - Friendship

"Because friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them..."

This song has been cycling through my head on repeat this week as I prepared for this post, and so I just had to annoy bless you with it, too.  I loved this song more than I can tell you back in middle school!

But anyhoo... this week's topic is- you guessed it- friends!  The topic comes from this blog post by Lisa TerKeurst, so you might want to check that out before you read on.  I easily get sucked into blogs and I have definitely added this one to my favorites list.  If you did not read it, the cliff's notes version of it is that during a conversation with her middle-school daughter, she was in awe of the child's wisdom when she said that all friends are a package deal and you just have to take the good with the bad.  So true, right?  So how does this apply to my life?

This topic is perfect this week, because we're going through a series called "Baggage" this week at TurningPoint Church.  This week's topic is emotional baggage, and quite frankly, most of the time it is people that become our emotional baggage.  Friends can either elevate us to become better people, but they can also drag us down with them.  And sometimes, when we get to a healthy place in our own lives, we end up dragging this friend behind us, like a heavy load of baggage, because we just can't sever ties.  And sometimes doing just that is necessary.

When I started this post, I really thought that I was going to end up focusing on the positive side of friendship, but as I reflected on my thoughts, it went the other way.  You see, I feel like there is a season for most friendships... not every friendship since several stand the test of time and will always be in your life (love those, don't you?), but others are there during a particular time in your life and come to an end.  They are there to teach you something (good or bad), celebrate something with you, or get you through something.  But then, as hard as it may be, that season ends and you move on.  Or they do.  Sometimes it's mutual and sometimes it's not, but it's a completely natural and healthy process.  In this day and age we generally do end up "keeping in touch" by peeking into one another's lives via Facebook or some other social media, but we don't have a relationship.  I can think back on my life and think of several of these instances, but one in particular reminds me of this:

When Josh and I first met we went through a bit of a rough patch within our circle of friends.  I'm not going to delve the details, but it was a time of transition for both of us and a lot of circumstances in our lives were changing, completely beyond our control.  And during this time, it caused a bit of a divide amongst our friends and people basically picked sides.  Some people really proved their love for us by being willing to hear both sides of the story and even though they did not fully agree with one or the other, they stuck by us.  They were willing to tell us that seeing us through the situation was more important than fully understanding the whole story.  Others, well, didn't even give us the time of day.  I am the type of person who truly values relationships, hanging onto them for far too long sometimes (even to an unhealthy level) and I really struggled with this.  I so desperately like to be liked, which is a dangerous character trait sometimes, and any time a friendship ends I mourn the loss, even if it's better that I let it go.  In this case, we did lose a friend over this because we felt like he or she turned their back on us, and some of the group that stayed in tact urged us to make up.  What many people did not understand is while we had forgiven this person, we were not in a place to be in relationship anymore.  There was too much hurt and we ended up realizing that some of our values did not line up.  I'm not saying that my values are the end-all-be-all of what is right, but at that time, we felt like this person would end up being our baggage, and we had enough to deal with in this mess on our own.  The Bible teaches a lot on forgiveness, but nowhere in there will you hear "Forgive and Forget."  Nope, that's made up.  And quite frankly, it's impossible.  Only God can "Forgive and Forget."  Ask Him for forgiveness and we're washed white as snow.  But with people?  Yeah, we always remember, and in this case we decided as a couple that it was best to forgive and move on.  It does not make the fun times we had together any less fun now.  It does not make us appreciate that season of our friendship any less.  But there were things we felt that needed to change in that individual's life, and we were not in the place to help make that happen.  I think in this case, there was too much baggage on both sides, and we would have dragged each other down... it would have been unhealthy for both of us and that season came to an end.

Like I said, through it all, some of our friends stuck with us and our friendships even grew stronger (and still continue to grow) through it all.  They were willing to take our package deal- our good with our bad. And as we grew in relationship, we refined one another, always trying to make each other better.   Now that's true friendship, and a friend that I hope you have.  I hope you have someone who can look you in the face and tell you when they think you're screwing up.  It's not going to be fun to hear, but they're saying it because they love you.  And I hope that you can be that friend to someone else.  God made us to be messy... he did not make any of us perfect... but my hope is that you can discern which ones are truly worth keeping and which ones might be in your life for a season.

The Bible is chalk-full on wisdom about friendship (the good and the bad), and here are a few of my favorites worth knowing:

"If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea." -Matthew 18:6 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Do not lead others astray or away from what is good and right in God's eyes.  On the flip side, do not allow others to lead you away from His teachings either.  

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart". -Proverbs 3:3 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Keep those you love and who love you close to you.  Surround yourself with a protective wall of people who will always support you.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." -Proverbs 27:17 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Be the iron for your friends.  Help one another "sharpen" each other, always making them better than how you found them.  True friends build each other up and grow together.

"Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces." -Matthew 7:6 (NIV)
Kim's Translation: Who we surround ourselves with is who we will slowly become.  Make sure your "tribe" is one worth being a part of.

I hope this all made sense today... my brain is elsewhere (as you can read about in yesterday's post) this week and my thoughts are all a jumbled mess.  Regardless, my challenge to you is to evaluate the friendships in your lives and really come to understand who those lifelong package-deal friends are and how you can continue to refine each other.  If a friendship is in a rocky place, evaluate whether or not it's worth continuing or if that particular season is over.  But most importantly, love everyone, no matter what their story.  This is the greatest commandment.

I love you all and I love YOUR stories.  Please share with us today... you can read Brittany's post here or link up below.  Next week's topic is below the link-up:

Risk... that's this week's topic (first Fearless and now Risk... what is God trying to tell me lately?  Sheesh!).  Let's read the story of Rahab together this week.  She might possibly be my favorite woman in the Bible and of all things, she was a prostitute!  Say what???  But her story is, well, amazing really.  God used her in BIG ways... a woman whom you'd least expect.  Her story is not elaborated as much as I would have liked, but can be found sprinkled throughout the first 6 chapters of Joshua in the Bible.  If you want to go one step further, I highly recommend downloading and reading Unashamed by Francine Rivers (although you don't have to... but it can be found here) or there is a pretty good free article that can be found here.  Her story is such a good one and shows that God can use anyone, regardless of their past or current situation, to do BIG things.  And then I want you to share what BIG things God is (or can) do through YOU!

And by the way, if you do have baggage you are dealing with, you should check out our current sermon series, which is posted online and can be found here.  It tackles addiction, depression, and all things that weigh us down.  My hubs has really been telling it like it is and blessing my socks off with this one, so I just wanted to share!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Please Hold...

Please bear with me on my lack of posts this week... work is keeping me quite busy these days.  I was "hired" by the Trump Management company to stay on board with the team at the Doral Golf Resort & Spa (after we were purchased... so really, I'm just keeping my job) and I'm spending plenty of time online... in training.  Yeah, I would much rather be spending time online blogging!  But alas, work does take precedence as my little blog doesn't pay (which would be awesome by the way, wouldn't it?  I'm sure fellow bloggers agree!) so once I get through this transition I plan to give a little more love to the blog.  I am still planning on posting my weekly Reflections tomorrow (join us!  The topic is friendship) and my Biggest Loser progress this weekend, so stay tuned for that.

Thanks for being patient with me... I think we all find ourselves in this predicament at times.  "When life came calling, she put it on hold."  Random side note: that picture and slogan is from a TV show.  Yeah, I have never heard of it either.  Nor have I heard of the network.  Nor do I know when it is on.  If you have seen it and/or heard of it, please comment and let me know because my curiosity about the obscurity of this show is getting the best of me.  I'd love to see if there is some underground following that I am unaware of! 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Losing It!

This week marks the start of TurningPoint Church's Biggest Loser Contest.  We have tons of people signed up to compete over the next 8 weeks... just in time to get in shape for the summertime.  Just like on the show, the Biggest Loser is the person who loses the largest percentage of their starting weight, so it is anyone's game to win.  I've decided not only to jump on the band wagon, but to blog about it over these next few weeks, too, for a little more accountability.  We did this same contest as a family from January through March, and I must admit that I started out pretty strong, but pretty much gave up halfway through.  While I did up my exercise over the course of the contest, my eating habits stayed about the same and that is what I want to focus on during round two.  My sister, on the other hand, publicly blogged about her journey through the contest and dropped lots of weight... she already looked great before and now she looks fantastic!  I'm so proud of her and really think there is something helpful about logging the progress somewhere, probably even more so when you are logging it where people can read it.  How embarrassing (or pathetic maybe?) would it be to go through eight weeks of this and continually tell you all that nothing has changed.  That would probably just mean that I wasn't trying, and I'm not the type of person who doesn't try.  Plus, I know a few of my readers are participating, too, so hopefully I can help motivate them to keep up their hard work, too.  So here it goes...

Let me just state for the record that this is going to be really hard for me.  I am very fortunate to have a "happy weight" (you know, the place your scale just kind of stays without much effort) that I am pretty satisfied with.  Satisfied- yes, but not really thrilled about.  I actually weigh the same now as I did before kids, but it is all distributed differently and I know it consist of a lot less muscle tone than it used to.  My family's competition was a great way to lose the baby weight, but now I want to tone up and really get in shape. This mama is going to the beach in July and she wants to look better than ever!

Friday I did my official first weigh-in.  I'm not going to report my numbers every week, but I will post my overall loss or gain, in pounds and percentage.  I feel like I'm in fairly decent shape since I started running again a few months ago, but I definitely need to kick it up a notch, particularly if I choose to run a marathon in the fall, which is something I've been considering.  I haven't run one since having kids, and it's a huge time commitment, so I would really have to get disciplined.  Losing weight (well, really just changing your diet and exercise habits) is all about discipline, and it's completely mind over matter.  When my mind faces Girl Scout Cookies, I have to admit that my mind usually loses.  And these love handles (or Lilly handles as I like to call them) are not going to go anywhere with just exercise alone.  Like I said, it will be hard for me... I seriously LOVE food.  I LOVE dining out.  And, more than anything, I LOVE dessert.  To an unhealthy level... as in, I will eat leftover birthday cake for breakfast.  And then possibly for lunch, too.  I had once given up sodas for a whole year, and for some reason, picked up that habit again and crave them constantly.  I know it won't happen overnight, but my goal over these next eight weeks is to ditch the soda habit, cut down (but not cut out... I'm all about moderation) on sweets, put myself on a more regular exercise schedule, and eat smaller portions.

Wish me luck, because I'm going to need it.  The battle against the bulge is officially underway!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Reflections - We are the church!!!

Did you get a chance to watch the message I blogged about last week?  You know, the one where Stovall Weems jumps up and down like a maniac shouting "We are the church!  We are the church!"  Well if you didn't, don't walk... RUN over to this website and check it out.  It's that good!

Once a year the organization that planted our church has an annual conference that attracts thousands of pastors from all over the world.  It is the organization's opportunity to speak into their lives, since these pastors are the ones speaking into ours on a weekly basis.  Because Lil was only five-months-old, I decided to stay at home with the kids this year and Josh went without me, which was the best decision for our family.  But at night I would put the kids to bed and turn on the online streaming of the sessions, so that I could "be there" with him.  For this particular message, I put the laptop on the kitchen counter and listened while I cleaned up before bed.  But within about ten minutes, I couldn't help but to just stop what I was doing, sit on the couch, and listen.

For those of you who did not listen to this message (again, you're missing out!) the message stems from a time when Mr. Weems was listening to a political speaker address a large crowd.  Do this for me for a moment: think about the atmosphere at a political rally.  Okay, you can feel the excitement, right?  Let's say it's a candidate you're excited about (wouldn't that be a nice change?) and you're there.  Now imagine how the crowd erupts into crazy cheers and applause at just about everything this political figure says.  He is firing up the crowd, making promises, and with each statement the excitement builds and builds.  By the end people can't help but to be jumping out of their seats, yelling and screaming for this person.

Or... when's the last time you went to a rock concert?  Did you leave the arena completely hoarse from singing at the top of your lungs and screaming your head off all night?  For a band?  Which, when you think about it, is just a group of people?

Ok, now this one should ring true with most of you... when's the last time you donned your alma mater's (or favorite NFL / NBA / etc.) colors and rooted on your favorite team?  And most of the time, you're not even at the game!  You're jumping up and down in your living room yelling at a group of people moving a ball down a field.

Now don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with the kinds of enthusiasm listed above.  I think it's great to be passionate about things and I think it's fun to get excited about the things you're passionate about.  I, for one, will proudly sport the most obnoxious color of orange and cheer on my beloved Tennessee Vols any day... whether they are good or bad (which is unfortunately the case lately).  But this message did so much to me because it was the first time I was challenged to think about who and what I openly and publicly worship.  Ouch.  Conviction can punch you in the gut sometimes, can't it?

I grew up in a traditional church environment where we sang hymns and solemnly recited prayers, quietly worshiping God.  Now again, don't get me wrong... there is NOTHING wrong with that.  It's worship, it's meditation, and it allows us to have some quiet moments to clear away distractions and really focus on the Lord.  But on the flip side, why is it that we scream wildly for a political figure, a rock band, a sports team... all PEOPLE of human flesh... and yet we rarely (if ever) display this behavior toward our God?  C'mon y'all... we would not even BE here if it weren't for Him.  He created you!  He gave you life!  The Bible teaches us that every blessing comes from above... and isn't your life full of blessings?  In fact, those things we love to cheer for are blessings, and those abilities we're cheering for... well, HE gave them to those athletes, musicians, and politicians!  So at what point do we jump out of our seats and give our mighty God and savior the credit and praise He deserves?  And why is it that when we do so outside of a contemporary church setting or a conference, retreat, etc., that we're looked upon as crazy zealots?  Nobody thinks that about you when your chest is painted bright blue and you're outside shirtless in the freezing cold!  Why is it okay to cheer like that for a sports team... or for a PERSON... but not for our God?

By the end of this message, Stovall is jumping up and down shouting "WE ARE THE CHURCH!  WE ARE THE CHURCH!"  He is so very unashamed, alive, and... well... FREE!  He's the perfect demonstration of the freedom that we're given by being followers of Christ!  It's not about rules and regulations to live by (although the Bible offers clear guidelines on how to live a better life) but about being FREE from our sinful pasts, guilt, fear, and shame.  A politician will make promises that he can't keep, but God has never broken a promise.  A band may fall victim to the temptations around them (drugs, alcohol, sex, etc.) and let us down, but God saves us from those pitfalls.  All sports teams (yes, ALL) have losing seasons, but God wins in the end!  The Bible tells us how it's all going to shake down and guess what?  He prevails!  Isn't that something worth celebrating?  I think so!  This country is going downhill fast because of what we choose to worship, but if could all get out of our comfort zones a little bit and truly cheer for the One who gave us life, created our world, makes the wrong things right, convicts us when we're going astray, gives us hope, life, and a future... well... maybe WE could turn it around.

So get out of your chair, jump up and down, and yell it with me... "WE ARE THE CHURCH!"  Let's celebrate God's glory loudly and proudly together this week, this month, this year.  Let's be His biggest fans.

As always, if you've written reflections about our weekly topic on your blog please link up below or leave  comment.  You can find Brittany's reflections over at her blog (found here) and next week's topic below.

It's Brittany's turn to choose the next topic and I have to say that I'm quite excited about it!  She writes...

"As for next week, I came across this blog by Lysa Terkeurst, and it really struck a chord with me.  I think so often in ministry and even in life as women, the word "friendship" becomes very hard to understand and hard to navigate.  This was a fresh reminder that we are all a "package deal."  I think it would be a great idea to share what we gathered from her blog post and if you are feeling extra transparent maybe a story about a time when you had a "friend situation" and how God used that to grow and challenge you!

Have a fantastic remainder of your week, friends.  And thanks for sharing and letting me share with you.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What are we feeding them ??!??!!

Sometimes I just gotta get back to the basics and post about the kids... they are my favorite topic you know!  I'm a little behind on this post, but better late than never, right?

At the end of last month we brought both kids (at the same time) for their check-ups- Jake for his two year appointment and Lilly for six months.  Josh arranged his schedule so that he could help me wrestle manage the kids and I'm so glad he was there!  They actually both behaved wonderfully, but with extra hands we were able to snap some photos for their baby books... oh wait, I still haven't done those!  That's why I blog this stuff, people!  Those baby books are on my "someday" to-do list along with about 4,000 other items.  But anyway...

Jake got checked out first and I have never seen our son sit so still!  We stripped him down and as the doctor took his temperature and listened to his chest and lungs, Jake was as calm as a cucumber, which is very unlike him.  He kept giving the doctor these suspicious sideways glances (which, if you've met Jake you've probably seen him do from time to time... I'm still trying to catch that on camera!) and so we were quite entertained.  The only time he had a minor freak-out was when he looked in his ears and mouth, but he got over it quickly.  Here's our heavyweight champion's stats at 2 years:

Height:  37 1/4 inches (98th percentile - is he seriously already over 3 feet tall?)
Weight: 33 pounds, 15.5 ounces (98th percentile)

This boy has permanent bed-head due to SO much hair!  I am somewhat jealous of that mane.

Lilly was up next and laid there like a perfectly content baby should.  The best part though?  This was the first day that Jake really showed a lot of concern for his baby sister.  He made sure to be right up next to her, just to make sure this suspicious looking doctor did her no harm.  Since that day he's really been great with her- puts her pacifier in when it falls out, gets up in her face when she's crying in the jump-a-roo, and sometimes even pats her and says "okay, E" (which is mimicking us when we say 'It's okay, Lilly').  The boy can't say L's yet so her name is tough on her.  I was curious to see how much our little chunky monkey was going to weigh and she did not fail to impress.  Here's Lilly at six months:

Height:  27 inches (90th percentile)
Weight:  19 pounds, 10 ounces (98th percentile - must be those delicious thigh rolls!)

The funniest thing that was said to us was not to worry as to whether our daughter was obese.  Seriously??  Did he really think that I would worry about that?  Maybe he's had some other moms ask as to whether their baby is fat, and that's a sad thing I tell you.  I say the rounder, the better!  Because of her size, the doctor left it up to us again as to whether or not we wanted to start solids with her.  Apparently her au natural diet from mama is quite substantial, as it was the first time around.  I tell you what, if I could jar this stuff that I make and send it to starving children in third-world countries I would!  We've since started giving her one vegetable each night when we all sit around the dinner table together, but not much more.  She grabs at our food sometimes but is still content with nursing for the most part.  Jake weaned himself right before he hit the seven-month mark (basically when he realized that he'd rather crawl around and not stop to eat) so we'll see if she decides to do the same.  For now it's working well for us.

There is no way I could list all of the milestones we're hitting on a daily basis around here.  Jake's vocabulary has pretty much tripled in just the past couple of weeks and he's saying (and repeating) new things everyday!  Plus, we had no idea he knew his numbers since he would never count with us, but suddenly we can't get him to stop.  He picks up phrases from his older cousins and cracks us up with expressions like "Sweet!", "Nice!" and "Score!".  Oh how I love that little man.  Lil is still just as sweet as can be, has mastered sitting up, but still can't get in the position on her own.  She says "Dada" and "Mama," which is music to my ears, and spends a lot of time on all fours trying to figure out how to move.  It will be any day now, and my world is about to be turned upside down I'm sure.  I'm going to just enjoy the days of non-mobililty while I still have that.

Oh, and as a random side-note... the picture above makes it appear that I'm still in maternity pants, which I am not thank-you-very-much.  I do still sport my belly-band from my pregger days since many of my shirts seem to be mysteriously shorter than they used to be.  Or perhaps it's because I have been pregnant and nursing for the past three years, so the last time I bought "normal" person clothes was back when shorter shirts were in style.  Yeah, this mama needs a new wardrobe!  If any of you have suggestions on revamping a wardrobe without breaking the bank, please feel free to share your wisdom!

Monday, April 16, 2012

My Favorite Room

When the first of May rolls around, we will have officially lived in our Kentucky home for nine months.  Nine already!  I can hardly believe it... where does the time go?  And as I scrolled through my blog posts over these past many months, I realized that while I said I would post pictures of the inside of our home here, I never did.  The truth is, I've been waiting for some finishing touches to be put up, the rooms to be clean, and the lighting to be perfect, which means only being able to photograph these rooms during the daylight hours.  So here I am, nine months later... and those "finishing touches," which really probably only include window treatments?  Non-existent.  And over these nine months, has any room really been clean for more than five minutesduring the day?  C'mon!  I have a two-year old... enough said.  And newsflash: he pulls out every single toy that he has whether he plans to play with it or not.  During daylight hours.  Which mean, the lighting is always bad when my house is "photo-worthy."  But hey... that's real life, right?

As much as I love reading blogs and keeping up with friends via Facebook, there is a dangerous side to it, too.  As we peek into other people's lives, we see their perfectly decorated and clean homes, their perfectly styled hair and outfit, and wonder to ourselves if we're somehow falling behind.  At least I do at times.  Often if the blogger does not have children I think to myself, "we'll see if she 'has it all together' after kids."  Isn't that terrible?  And I think that this is why for nine months I've been meaning to do a house post, and for nine months my house never looks "perfect enough" for the Internet.  Because although I am a very neat person (just ask my husband... it drives him nuts sometimes!) the reality of our busy lives is a house that looks like this:

The living room on a typical day... decor courtesy of Jake and Lilly:

The dining room... otherwise known as the catch-all for mail, the diaper bag, Josh's work stuff, etc.

 Just a small glimpse into our bedroom.  This is our bedside table and yes, you counted correctly: there are FIVE dirty diapers sitting there.  Don't judge me.  We're going on seven months of waking up in the middle of the night and this is the best I can do!

And Jake's bedroom floor- about ten minutes after I put everything away.

I love my home, I really do.  And if I had it my way, it would look like the page of a magazine everyday.  I have ideas upon ideas of what each room would ideally look like, and even see the final product in my head, which can torture me sometimes since I don't have the time or disposible income to make it happen.  But you know what?  Our house is a mess and I'm happy.  My kids are happy.  And sometimes just letting it go for a few days to have some extra time to sit on the floor and play with my two cuties is worth it.

With all that being said, however, last week the stars aligned, pigs flew, and the kids' room was clean and "perfect" enough for a photo opp.  Their room is always my favorite, no matter what house we live in, just because it's so happy and cute.  This home is a bit smaller, so Jake and Lil share one, but we have yet to see if that experiement scenario is going to work since she's never actually slept all night in there.  Only time will tell.  So since it was the miracle of all miracles, I had to document my (and Jake and Lilly's) happy place:

How much do Jake and Lilly's grandpa's rock?  My dad made the crib (years ago for my nephews actually and it's still solid as a rock) and Josh's dad made the toddler bed.  I hope that Jake gets those genes!  I could put him to work someday on all of these ideas in my head!

The names originally hung above the beds they slept in... and then we rearranged the room.  See?  Even when you get things just "perfect" something happens to change all that!  Someday I'll fix it... maybe.

I have to laugh because when I rushed to take these pictures, knowing my hard work could be destroyed at any moment, my SD card was missing from my nice camera, which is still a mystery to me.  So, I had to pull out the trusty iPhone.  Typical.

I posted this because on the days that you don't feel perfect enough and Pinterest ideas are depressing you (hence why I don't Pinterest!), I hope that you can come here and be reminded that we're really all in the same boat.  Everyone has their own mess, their own reality, their own junk they are dealing with, despite how perfect it looks from the outside.  I think a lot of people feel this way about their relationship with God.  They're waiting to get their problems all straightened out, their junk cleared up, and figure out how to be "good enough" to start living for Him.  They put on their fancy clothes and dress up the outside before going to church, but the inside is in complete disarray.  And I just want to tell you that it's never going to happen.  God doesn't need you to be "good enough."  God definitely doesn't need you to be perfect, and actually knows that it's impossible!  He created you... of course he knows that!  He just needs you to come to him and admit that you can't do it alone.  You can't strive to be better without His help, and that's what He's there for.  And when I remember that simple fact, the messes in my life don't seem to bother me so much.  He'll get me through it.  He hasn't let me down yet, and I know He never will.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Reflections - Testimony

Brittany chose a doozy of a topic this week... mainly because I could literally write for days about my testimony (so get comfortable... this could be loooooong!).  Testimony.  That word used to freak me out a bit.  I didn't get it.  I was a perfectly nice person who went to church every Sunday (well, most Sundays anyway), did my obligatory hour, recited the prayers, and then went about my business without any real change.  The people with a "testimony" to share were weird.  To say you were "saved" made you completely nuts.  And heaven forbid you'd ever walk into a church and raise your hands during worship.  That, my friends, would make you a total lunatic.  This was nothing that was ever taught or impressed upon me... these were all things that I came up with on my own because of my traditional religious background.  But that's all I knew... religion.  I knew how to be Methodist, Protestant, or Presbyterian, but I had no idea what it truly meant to be a Christian.

The word Christian, in essence, means "little Christ."  In order to truly put ourselves into that category, we actually need to know who Christ was, what He did, what that meant, and then live out His teachings.  And it doesn't stop there.  We have a responsibility beyond that to tell others about Him, His love, and His great commission: love God, love People, Repeat.  That's Josh's simplistic way to explain the great commission, but really that was all there was to it.  So yes, I grew up sitting in a pew, I knew right from wrong, I had a family with great morals and values, and yet, I had no clue what it meant to love God and love people.  My actions outside of that Sunday morning service were far from pleasing to God and if anything, I was always just trying to please my current group of friends or current cute boy... I loved to be popular.  Sure, people like people-pleasers because they cater to them, but they also compromise who they are for them.  It wasn't until my late twenties that I decided to live my life to please God rather than please whomever I was trying to impress at the moment.  And I have since learned that pleasing God is so freeing and sooo much more rewarding.

It is my theory that just about every Christian has an "Aha!" moment- that moment (or season of life) when we finally stop thinking about ourselves and truly surrender to what God has for us.  I say "surrender" instead of "understand" because I know that we will never fully understand Him.  But at some point, there is a stirring within- a time when you know that there is more to this life than just yourself and what you want, and finally a God-sized light bulb goes off inside.  For some, this happens at a very young age, and I hope and pray that my kids fall into this category.  The funny thing is, I grew up knowing that God existed.  I knew about Jesus.  I knew the stories... but that's all it was: knowledge.  Stories.  Nothing that applied to my life.  I can even distinctly remember moments throughout my adolescence when I felt God's presence... generally when I had hit some sort of "rock bottom" and cried out to Him.  He was only God when I needed Him, but not a God who helped guide me everyday.

I attribute my introduction to true Christianity to my husband.  I often joke that God knew the only way He'd get me in church every Sunday was to have me marry a pastor, so that's what He did.  And it's probably true.  Josh was a youth minister when I met him, and I actually tried not to like him for that reason.  There was no way I was "good" enough to date someone in ministry.  I had so many mistakes in my past, and since he was a pastor, I was fairly certain that he was squeaky clean and deserved a "perfect" woman, as if that's even possible.  But sin is all equal in God's eyes, and even though our sins were very different, they still kept us both out of that "perfect" category.  The difference, however, was that Josh did not let me just stay where I was at, but challenged me every day to be better.  I had spent years making some pretty terrible decisions, but would then put on my nice church clothes and pretend that I was "perfect" and had it all together.  I knew it was sin and I knew it was wrong, and I lived with constant guilt and shame.  I'm going to stop here a moment and let you know that if you feel this way in your life right now (or ever), please know that these emotions are not from God.  The Bible says that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17) so anything that makes us feel less of ourselves, of who He created us to be, is not from Him.  I could go into a whole bit about spiritual warfare, good vs. evil, etc., but I'll save that for another day.  The point is, I was repeating the same patterns over and over again, that vicious cycle of guilt, shame, and pretending I had it all together, until Josh called my bluff.  He saw right through me and cared about me too much to let me continue.  He gave me scripture verses that completely called me on the carpet and convicted me down to the core.  Let me just tell you that our courtship was rough at times because of these moments.  I did not like being told that I had been wrong all along.  I did not like having someone point out that I had no clue that I was truly lost.  But because I'm stubborn and love to be right, I investigated what he was saying.  I began reading the letters in the new testament on my own, finding verses that so blatantly called out my behavior that it shook me to my core.  Someday I may do a blog series on some of these verses, mainly because I know for a fact that they'll be used over and over and over again in my parenting.  My kids will learn them early and hopefully they'll stick.  I grew up with the ten commandments, which seem pretty easy to follow for the most part, but like it or not they'll be growing up with verses about guarding their tongues, telling the truth, staying pure, surrounding yourself with the right people, etc.  I literally had about a six-month-long rude awakening.  And then I read the Gospel accounts, maybe for the first time all the way through, and "AHA!"- I finally got it.  It wasn't until I truly understood how filthy and broken I was that I could appreciated that Christ died for me.  He died.  Brutally... for stupid me.  And for you... no matter how "perfect" or sin-filled you've been.  Can I just get a collectively huge WOW right now?  Even as I type this, I am baffled. 

It was after this moment that I truly fell in love with God.  My love affair with Jesus and His sacrifice began and has been burning strong ever since.  I used to think people who listened to Christian music in their cars were fanatics, but that's who I am now.  And to publicly blog about things like this?  Those people probably should've been committed.  And here I am.  I know what life is like without God because I've been there.  It ain't pretty, friends, and it sure doesn't feel good.  So now that He's my center, I don't mind being categorized as a "Jesus-freak" or a "fanatic."  In fact, I'll now take it as a compliment.  Because honestly, I like people too much to keep this news to myself.  I care about others too much to let them stay where they are.  I thank God multiple times a day for sending me a man who challenges me to do more for God everyday.  And I hope and pray that I can be that person for others.  I know that I have a long way to go and so much more to learn, but thank God that I'm not who I used to be.

As always, Brittany shared her account over at her blog (found here), and if you decide to share your story on your blog, please link it below.  I know it's hard to step out this way and it's out of the comfort zone for most people.  But know that your story can be a blessing to others if you do decide to share... and don't forget to check out next week's topic after the link-up.

So for next Thursday you have a little bit of homework.  A couple of weeks ago was the annual conference for the Association of Related Churches (ARC), which is the organization that we plant under.  Sadly, I did not get to go (and Brittany did- yes, I was totally jealous!), but watched most of the sessions live online, which was pretty cool.  One of the messages was probably the most favorite sermon I have ever heard in my life.  It fired me up and I was practically jumping up and down in my living room with nobody to process it with.  I encourage you to take 30 minutes out of your week this week and watch it, chew on it, and tell us how it speaks to you.  It's probably a message like nothing you've ever heard, so keep an open mind and really listen to what he has to say.  I hope it messes you up (in a good way) like it did for me.  You can find the message online here... all of them are great (and worth watching) but the one for next week is by Stovall Weems:

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!  And as always, thanks for letting us share our hearts.