Thursday, September 27, 2012

Reflections - Proverbs 31

Well, I survived Lilly's first birthday without tears... amazing, isn't it? My guess is that it's probably due to the fact that I'm still in denial about the whole thing and instead of telling people she's one, I'm just going to respond with "twelve months."
"How old is he?"
"Forty-eight months."
Who can name the movie???
Sorry... couldn't resist. But anyway, let's get to it, shall we? Today is all about the Proverbs 31 Woman. For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, you can read all about her here, starting at verse 10. And just as a little tip when reading your Bible (since I know it can be intimidating), sites like YouVersion, which is where I directed you, are great because you can read the same passage in different translations. I personally cannot understand what I'm reading in the King James version... all of the thy's and thus's cloud the meaning for me, but it works for some people. And sometimes when I read something even in the New International Version, which is my preference, I still don't quite get the gist of it and switch over to something like The Message, which is a paraphrase of Scripture and reads more like a book. If you want to memorize scripture, this would not be the the version to use for that, but it's a great reference for helping you dig deeper and understanding something that is unclear. Just a sidenote... let's get back to the point, okay?
Growing up, I was unfamiliar with the Proverbs 31 woman- or the "wife of noble character" as it reads in the NIV translation. It wasn't even until I got married and actually started studying my Bible that I learned of her, and of course I wanted to know what she was all about since I was a new wife myself. And the farther I got down the page, the more and more inadequate I felt! Sure, some of these things don't seem too difficult... she brings him good, not harm all the days of her life. Okay, check... well, most days anyway. Well wait, if I don't do that all the time, does it count? And as I keep reading, I see that I don't do any of these things all the time! I feel like I provide for my family, but I certainly don't cook every night! And when have I ever bought a field and planted a vineyard? In fact, when have I ever planted anything that actually survived?  I don't sew, I say some pretty dumb stuff from time to time so I certainly do not show wisdom all the time, and as much as I try to work hard, sometimes I do get lazy and let things go. So my question is, have I failed? And that's when I close my Bible and start to really dislike this woman... who does she think she is anyway?
I think so many of us feel this way because we misuse this Scripture. Think about the Bible as a whole and what it provides. The Word is a guide-book providing us with so many great instructions on how to live life to it's fullest, serve others, and above all love. I never read my Bible and feel like a total failure- in fact it's quite the opposite. More often than not I read through it and am encouraged, uplifted, and my perspective changes for the better. I want to live a better, fuller, richer life, but I am also aware that I am a work in progress. In fact, the Bible tells me that, too.
So why then is Proverbs 31 so different? Well, I think it's because at some point women became so competitive. I'm sure the world of Facebook and blogs doesn't help because we're constantly comparing ourselves to someone else, who we think does it better and "has it all." Let me just tell you that nobody has it all... it's impossible. And not only that, but everyone is made differently, with different talents, gifts, and abilities. I desperately wish that I was a woman who got up before sunrise, had my quiet time, and then spent an hour on some sort of beauty routine and looked presentable and put together all day. I'm currently working on that first and second step, but let me just tell you that I find it exhausting to have perfect hair and make-up all day... I really do! Not to mention that I feel like once it's done, my hair will frizz and my mascara will run in a matter of minutes. There are some girls who are blessed and gifted in this department, and well, I'm trying, okay? Isn't that enough? And why, as women do we do this? Why do we compare ourselves... not only to each other, but to this 31 woman? Comparing will always lead us to failure, but striving toward will always result in positive results. Let's instead see her as a model for us as wives rather than a woman who "has it all." And seeing that we live in modern times that would not necessarily mean spinning wool but rather clothing our families with the resources we were provided, whether that means shopping at Baby Gap or Goodwill, depending on your situation. Some of us have jobs outside the home and bring in an income where others earn our place in the family through serving the family all day long, which is no easy task. As long as we're doing these things diligently and joyfully, I think we strive to be more like this model. Some of us cook elaborate dinners and others, like me, struggle to put something together, but yet still manage to feed our families and keep food in the pantry, and I think that's okay, too. Rather than being so hard on ourselves, let's start encouraging one another, complimenting each other, and how about this... asking each other how we can help? If we all worked together to be the women God wants us to be, what a beautiful thing that would be, right?
I was going to end this there today, but my friend Jessica taught me something that I didn't know before yesterday and I love it so much that I just have to share. She learned that in Jewish tradition, Proverbs 31 is treated as a blessing, and husbands recite it to their wives at certain sabbath dinners... how beautiful is that? The Bible says that the devil cannot curse that which is blessed, so imagine if we blessed the wives in this world with these words and treated this as more of a prayer and less of an impossible standard. Wherever you are and however you feel about this, know today that God has placed you where you are for a reason, whether that's in the home or outside of the home, making money or feeling like you're only spending it, and all He expects is for us to strive to always be better, but knows that we're always far from perfect. I pray this blessing on all of you wonderful wives, mothers, and women who read this today.
If you have a great post about Proverbs 31, whether it's your own or someone else's that's worth reading, please leave the link in the comments as I'd love to check it out!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lil is One!

The phrase "kids grow up so fast" becomes so true once you have your own, and particularly with your second. If I thought Jake's first year of life flew by, it was nothing compared to Lilly's... I do not know where the time went and am a wee bit sad that my baby girl is one today. And at one, she might be the sweetest little thing on the planet, and I don't just say that because I'm her mom. In fact, there are a number of people who have offered to take her off of our hands and raise her as their own (they're kidding of course... at least I think they're kidding!). So in an effort to freeze this moment in time forever, here is what our sweet Lilly-Bug is up to at one year.  Lilly you are...
All smiles all the time! You only fuss when you don't want to go to bed, which is rare, but happens on occassion. And when you don't want to go to bed it's because you just don't want to let your family out of your sight. You'd sleep between your mama and daddy every night if we let you, but we've learned that you'll kick us both in the face multiple times if we let that happen!
You love to play peek-a-boo. In your variation, you hide your face behind something and pop up or out from wherever you were. You squeal in delight every time.

Speaking of squealing, you are just so darn ticklish, but you squeal before we even get our hands to you in anticipation! You also love to smack it away, which makes you laugh the hardest.
You say several words including Dada, Mama, Jace (Jake), What?, What's this?, Baby, and your favorite, which is Uh-Oh. You love to drop things on purpose just to use that one.
You love to clap and cheer, especially when you see others doing it and you love to blow kisses (mmmm-mah!). You also shake your little booty when you hear music. It's my favorite.
You can stand on your own without support, and we can see you contemplate whether to take a step, but then you drop down and crawl. You are a fast crawler and an expert at the stairs! You've also started climbing lately and even got yourself onto the coffee table! We think you could probably walk if you tried, but you are just so cautious! Then again, brother knocks you down all the time, so we can't blame you there!
Your favorite foods are ice cream, yogurt, and macaroni and cheese. You love vegetables but have a massive sweet tooth, too!
You can still fit into your 9-month dresses and a couple of shirts, but you're already growing out of 12-month pajamas and pants. You're still very round around the middle, so we've upped you to 18-month-wear in that department.
You love to put shoes on. Too bad we have none that fit your wide, pudgy, and oh-so-delicious footsies.
If we ask you "How big is Lilly?" you throw your hands in the air as to say "So big!" You love it!
If I am in the room or within eye-sight, you want to be right next to me. I literally have to hide if someone else is holding you and then you warm up to the idea. But you don't love anyone as much as you love your brother... he is your whole world, even when he's tackling you and knocking you down!
Lil-Bug, your daddy and I cannot get over how much you have stolen our hearts. Love seems like too small of a word to describe what we feel for you and I literally want to squeeze you until your eyes pop out and kiss your cheeks until they're raw... I just cannot ever get enough. God knew we had our hands full with your firecracker brother, so He sent us a calm, easy-going little girl to balance the family and man is our little foursome perfect... I have never been happier in my life. Thank you for being our daughter. I know you're going to continue to steal the hearts of everyone around you and use that gift for great things someday. You can do anything you want to do, be anything you want to be, and accomplish anything you set your mind to. I'm more proud of you already than you'll ever know. Have a very happy first birthday my love... thanks for making this family so happy!
All my love,
PS - As I mentioned, peek-a-boo is her favorite... see for yourself!  You'll also see the "How big is Lilly?" game if you watch 'til the end.

PSS - My niece or nephew needs to hurry up and get here before baby fever sets in again! This family is not ready for a third!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Time to Reflect!

Happy Thursday, everyone! I have to be honest and say that today has been a tough one for me, mainly because I got up at 4:45 this morning to go for a run. I know, I know... I am SO not a morning person, but in this crazy life of ours, I have no other available time to get my run on unless I'm up before the roosters. Actually, a friend of mine suggested running together and I agreed because there is no way I'd be accountable to do this if someone wasn't waiting on me! But, just like anything else, it's going to take a couple of weeks to adjust to this new schedule so forgive me if my brain is mush on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
But anyhoo...
I wasn't really sure how long my hiatus from my "Reflections" series was going to be, but as it turns out, I just can't stay away! More than a hiatus, I think I really just need to make it an every-other-week thing rather than a weekly thing because that's a more manageable commitment right now. I want to have posts up when I say that I will, but I also want to have the flexibility to read or study whatever it is that I am being led to read or study, rather than just focusing on the weekly chosen topic. Make sense? I hope so. So in the upcoming weeks you can expect a Reflections post bi-weekly... I will probably post a topic one Thursday and my post on it the following Thursday then the next topic on the Thursday after that, etc., etc., etc. Cool? You're probably reading this thinking that you don't actually really care that much, but it makes me feel better to clarify so that's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Which brings me to this week's topic! I think the reason I felt compelled to bring Reflections back starting this week is because God has been smacking me upside the head with a topic, and it's a pretty common one that I'd love to hear other people's opinions about. I'm sure most of you are familiar with the "Proverbs 31 woman" and let me just tell you that she is everywhere I look lately! I have read Proverbs 31 many times and am super familiar with it and with the qualities of that perfect Godly woman, but it seems like it's being pressed on me from every angle here lately in big and small ways. I'm not one to audibly hear the voice of God, but when I see something over and over and over again, I can always attribute it to His still, small voice... that's how God speaks to me. So over the past two weeks it's been everything from a great friend of mine posting a snippet of Proverbs 31 on her Facebook status everyday, to hearing it on K-Love (radio) every time I'm in the car, to even finally finding a date that worked to host a thirty-one party. It may not sound like much to you, but again, it's the tiny, little things over and over again that speak to me. I think God communicates in so many different ways and I know that we probably miss it sometimes, so I guess He knows that I need repitition so it really sticks... but of course it's not my job to figure Him out because I'd never be able to anyway. But back to my point...
Over this next week I want you to meditate on Proverbs 31 with me. It is basically a guideline of how to be a Godly woman and whether you're married or not, have kids or don't, it's something we should all strive for. How do you feel like you're measuring up? How do you feel about these expectations? Is this something you strive for daily or is this the first time you're reading it? I'd love to read your thoughts and you can check back next week to hear mine... ahh, it's good to be back!
And just because sometimes it's good to see what else other people are reading, I thought I'd include the book I'm about to start as well as one I just finished, just in case you're looking for something to pick up.
The one I just finished (well, I say "just" but it was months ago) might be hands-down my all-time favorite book. Granted, I'm not a big reader and it takes me forever to get through a whole book (if I finish it at all), but I devoured this one in a matter of days. It's historical fiction, so that helps, and it's a parody of the story of Hosea in the Bible. If you are looking for an incredibly good story that will leave you changed, I urge you to pick up (or download) Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. I promise you won't be disappointed.

The second is a book that our small group is about to start and is called Fresh Air by Chris Hodges. Chris is one of the founders of the ARC and leads a church that is somewhere in the ballpark of 18,000 people... yes, you read that correctly. I think his success is directly linked to the incredible amount of humility he has as well as this "fresh" relationship he keeps with Christ. I don't know about you, but I could certainly learn from someone like that!

What are some of your favorite books? What are you reading right now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Summertime Blues

Since I have now spent two weekends watching football, pulled out our fall decor, and am planning to make chili this weekend, it seems that fall is upon us. I have to say that this year it's harder than ever to say goodbye to summer. Maybe it's because we have little ones now or maybe it's because we live near family, it just seemed like a good ol' fashioned American summer here in the bluegrass- lots of time spent with friends, a trip to the beach, many barbecues, and a few races thrown in here and there... it was perfect. So before I can say goodbye and welcome in a new season, let's take a look back at some of the fun things we did in summer 2012.

We caught a couple of games at the ballpark to see the Lexington Legends

Complete with fireworks... Jake's favorite part!

 We spent A LOT of time in the backyard (and in Pawpaw's!)

Photo look familiar?

 We checked out some local festivals and events and had fun 
even when they didn't go over with Jake how we thought they would! 

We spent many evenings at the brand new park by our neighborhood...
fun for the kids and for the adults!

We definitely put a lot of miles on this thing... the kids love their wagon!

We managed to squeeze in a few races: the Nashville full marathon (Josh), the Flying Pig Half Marathon (me), the Bluegrass 10K (me), and topped it off at IronMan (Josh... I'm not that brave!).

Kicked back and enjoyed some live music on a Friday night at the winery.
Ok, this only happened once and it was me and a group of girls, but it was such a 
nice night that I wish we had done it more so I thought it was worth mentioning!

Mmmm... fresh fruit!  A favorite summer staple.

We proved that any backyard can be made into a water park in the eyes of children...
and boy do our children just love the water!

Took our little daredevil to the fair and he rode everything he was allowed to and loved every minute!

Nothing says summer like ice cream!


And lots...

And LOTS of ice dream

Went road trippin'

And got to see almost all of the family!

As well as take some R&R time with just our little foursome

Looking back at it now, I can totally see why I'm not sure if I want this summer to end.  But as they say, all good things must come to one, right? Besides, if we keep up that pace, we're going to just end up like this all the time:

Thanks for enduring my "What I did on my summer vacation" presentation! Now bring on fall!