Friday, December 13, 2013

First Day of Christmas

For my first Twelve Days of Christmas post I am going to back up to November. Each year we always talk about having photos done for our Christmas cards, but typically it never happens. We've always taken family pictures around Jake's birthday in the spring, but since that didn't happen this year, I had no idea what we would do. Realizing that my sisters had not had "official" family pictures for years and that my parents (mom in particular) has been wanting a picture with all of her grandchildren for quite some time, we made plans to give them a photo shoot for their 42nd (!!!) anniversary. All together this meant 8 adults, 2 teenagers, and 4 kids under 4. We booked a session with my incredibly talented friend, Cory, and used my parents' gorgeous home here in the Bluegrass as the setting. Here are a few peeks.

The real fun, though, was all because of Cory's creativity. She thought it would be fun to take some candids of all of us just hanging out, making s'mores to be exact. I have to say, it was a super-wonderful time with my favorite people, and she captured everyone's personalities so well through it. We will treasure these always… and one or two will end up on our Christmas card! I see many more family s'mores roasts in our future!

Happy Anniversary to these two wonderful people. 
I am blessed to have you as parents!

Monday, December 9, 2013


You've probably noticed that for about the past six months I've had every intention of keeping the blog updated, but absolutely no follow-through. It honestly probably frustrates me more than anyone, and so I wanted to find a way to kick my blogging booty back into gear (yeah, yeah, I do realize that I've said something similar before- haha!).  But I mean it this time, guys… I really, really do! (again, I do realize that I've said that before, too, so… um… we shall see I guess!). So, seeing that there are only 17 days until Christmas (yeah, I can't believe it either), I am going to use 12 of them to post our family's twelve days of Christmas. We don't officially do anything related to the twelve days of Christmas, but as a busy family with little ones, it is so important to me that we use this time to do festive things together to celebrate the coming holiday. It also ensures that I take pictures and upload them after each of these activities, so that I have something to post about! I already know we've done several, so thankfully I have a few things stock-piled to use for the first few posts, but I know we have more outings and fun things to do at home if we're going to make it to twelve. In the words of one of my favorite sitcom characters…

Challenge Accepted.


Before I get too far ahead of myself, I do realize that I've left out a solid six months of life here on the blog, so let's play a quick game of catch-up, shall we? Here's what we've been up to…

We spent just about every Saturday with a group of friends watching good ol' SEC football. 
I think we're all still surprised as to how it turned out this year!

Hosted two fall-festival type events at the church.
Yes, there were people there. This was taken during clean-up.

Spent a very rainy day at one of my most nostalgic childhood places, Cedar Point, in Sandusky, OH. I was soooo excited to take Jake! Funny enough, his rides were the only ones open due to the weather, and it would have been a total bust without him. We'll hopefully pick a sunnier day next time!

Checked out the Midway Fall Festival. Cute little town with real train cars to climb on. 
Jake loved it of course!

Thought the kids would have a blast carving pumpkins.  
Thought wrong.
Josh and I spent an afternoon carving pumpkins! 

Went trick-or-treating with friends at the businesses on Main Street… 
something we will definitely do again next year!

Went trick-or-treating again in the neighborhood with family…
where everyone ended up being some form of a minion!

Made our Christmas wish-lists. 
Sorry, kids… you might want to keep wishing! Haha!

Hosted a "Kids Night In" for the families in our connect group. 
We had pizza and s'mores while all the parents got a date night out. It was a total blast.

Spent a day being a "teaching aide" at my sister's school. This family has a long-running history of PE teachers in it. These two thought it was pretty awesome, probably due to the whistle.

Watched in amazement while over 50 people shaved their heads and/or donated hair to support a little guy in our church who just started chemo. I love these people and their hearts…. so so SO much.

Spent all of Thanksgiving week at Gramma's, where friends from Florida were up to visit. 
I should really post more pictures from that visit. 
Hmmm… maybe I can somehow work it into the Twelve Days of Christmas. 

Finally got out to see my beloved Volunteers play live… and got Lil into the spirit of things.
She looks great in orange!

And a surprise visitor (my little sister from our Delta Gamma days) 
could not have picked a better weekend to come hang out!

I guarantee there is more… Lilly's birthday came and went, a Fall Harvest party complete with a hay ride, beautiful fall days at the park or riding bikes in the cul-de-sac… so much that probably won't make it onto this page. There are some days that I realize that the reason I'm not blogging is because I'm so much more engaged, definitely participating, in all of these fun things. But I love to have these accounts, this record of it all to look back on, and so I'm desperately going to try to be better. If all goes as planned, expect TWELVE more posts this month… anyone else want to join me in that challenge???

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Divine Root Canal - Part I

Yes, you read that right… I just used the words "divine" and "root canal" in the same sentence. This morning, I spent two and a half hours laying on my back and getting my tooth drilled to bits, and it was, in a word, divine. Well, mostly. It took a few painful pricks to get the novocaine level correct, but once that was under control it actually turned out to be a rather good experience. Aside from my jaw being cranked open (from which I am still sore) and some sounds that made the hair on my arms stand on end, I actually rather enjoyed the experience.

Oh yeah, did I mention that I had a fair amount of nitrous oxide running through my nose? Yeah, that helped. In fact, I don't think I have been that relaxed since becoming a mom… massages are great but certainly do not relax a person to that level! I had my earphones in, and worship music playing at full blast. Sure, I felt the pressure and rooting around going on in my mouth, but I closed by eyes and let my body sink into that chair… and then I just… prayed.

I think I have always been a bit of an unconventional pray-er. Like most people, I pray before meals and I pray before bed (often falling asleep in the middle), but my really good prayers are usually when I'm driving down the road, talking out loud to God as if He was in the car, or running down the road, praising Him for giving me a body that can move that way. I love to swim laps, simply because the stillness under the water takes the distractions of the world away and I feel like I can hear myself think and form my thoughts into prayer. And when my babies were newborns, it was during those wee hours of the morning when I was doing night-feeds, sleep-deprived and weary. It's these moments when I can find a little bit of isolation, quiet, peace, and stillness, that don't come around often now that I have two rambunctious children under three… and today, with the help of something very unconventional, I found my quiet, prayed a lot, and felt His presence and goodness wash over me… all during a root canal!

I think there are certain moments of clarity in a person's life, when the things that they have been internally debating get definitive answers. I can't really explain it, but today I felt it, and it's been awhile. And oddly enough, it was very much all related to this blog. Maybe you've noticed and maybe you don't care, but since last spring I haven't really posted all that much. In fact, I haven't even wanted to, and I think it's because I lost my way as to what I wanted to blog about. What started out as a blog that was primarily about the everyday going-on's of our family was slowly morphing into one that was more ministry-related. And without letting anyone know, I spent a lot of my time worrying about whether that was okay, whether people who read it would stop reading it, whether anything I wrote was any good, but mainly, whether or not I was qualified to put anything related to the Bible out on the Internet. My husband is a preacher, and a darn good one at that, and so I felt that maybe I should leave it to him. I mean, he spends far more time in the Word (as well as countless other books and references) than I do, and if I can't keep up with that pace, then quite frankly I probably shouldn't attempt to minister to anyone at all. Besides, there are thousands of wonderful blogs out there spreading God's word, so why should I bother? These bloggers are all far smarter than me, far more educated in theology, and far more consistent… I am just not cut out to be heading in that direction.

But today as I embedded myself within my cranked-up worship tunes, I was reminded of that old phrase that God does not call the equipped, but He equips the called. I distinctly realized that when my husband was called into ministry, so was I, whether I thought I was ready for it or not! Because of his position, people would be looking to me for spiritual guidance, even though I am not a Bible scholar! In fact, once I made that jump and called myself a Christian, it actually became my responsibility to spread the news of His great love, not keep it to myself! And if you're in that boat, it's actually your calling, too- "equipped" or not! 

And so it was decided… this blog will probably continue to move in that direction, having a heavier ministry focus than I ever intended, but that's just what feels right. And I'm going to stop putting so much unnecessary pressure on myself… if I post once a month or once a day, what does it matter? I just think it's important to write when something is on my heart and I feel I have something worthwhile to share (which has happened a lot lately, but yet I continued to avoid sitting down to write). I do intend to post about the kids and some fun things we do here and there, but I don't think I can avoid this responsibility any longer, and I cannot be afraid of what others think. If people stop reading, so be it. If people think I've become a "religious nut," oh well. Right now in my life I am surrounded by so many people who are hurting, so many who need prayer, so many who have struggles that are too enormous for me to even wrap my brain around, and I realize that worrying about what others think in order to keep this all to myself seems trivial and petty. I love Jesus. I love people. I love seeing the life change and blessings that I have witnessed when a person gets into a right relationship with the Creator. So if that makes me some sort of nut, I'm just going to have to be okay with it.

I guess I just wanted to give my usual (seven or so) readers some sort of fair warning that this chick is going down this road. I've decided that I'm ready to put myself out there, risking any negative feedback that may come with it. Because in the end, I think it's worth it.

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest… call it free therapy if you will. And please know that I do not condone the use of laughing gas to enhance one's prayer life (or any other part of life for that matter)… it just happened to help me today under the circumstances. And seriously, I definitely do not want to try to have a root canal without it! Based on how sore my jaw is, I can only imagine what went on in there! I have a few more thoughts to share later from this dental experience, hence why this is titled "Part I," but I think this is enough crazy insight for one day. Who would have ever thought that all this (and more) could come from a root canal!?!? God really can use anything for His glory!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Never Forget

This day makes my heart hurt every year. Everyone who witnessed 9/11 unfold remembers exactly where they were; everyone has their story. No matter who you are or where you were, shock, sadness, frustration, horror, and questions of "why?" filled your heavy heart. Even today, I cannot understand the actions of men, the lack of value for human life, and the level of hatred that brought these attacks on our great nation.

Today, our country faces another scary time, and I don't think the timing is just a mere coincidence. With big decisions being made as we all look back, it's important to remember the effects of war, the sacrifices of men, and the strength of this country and it's people. What I remember the most was the patriotism that immediately followed in the weeks to come- flags flying on cars, from bridges, on top of construction cranes, and a sense that we cannot be broken. As we face uncertain times, this is the reminder we need... the reminder that there is more good in this world than bad, that we will carry on and move forward, and that we love our country, no matter what it is we're going through. 

You may disagree with the government, and maybe you didn't vote for the current president, but one thing is certain: ALL of us can pray. Looking back on my own life, when everything seems ever-changing and chaotic, God has been my constant, and prayer has been powerful. Ranting on Facebook does nothing but divide and cause debate, but prayer can unite and move mountains. As we reflect on the events of this day twelve years ago, join me in praying for a brighter future, for peace in the Middle East, for the decisions that our government is facing (because seriously... would you want to be in their shoes?), and that our children never have to experience or witness such horrific events. As One Nation Under God, it's something everyone can do to help!

And a special thanks to all who have served or our serving to protect our American freedoms everyday. The fact that I can even post this and publish it onto the Internet without fear for my life is because of what you do everyday. We are tremendously blessed by all of you.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Friday Night Lights

I'm starting to wonder if there is anything my husband can't do...

On top of husband, father, church planter, pastor, and Ironman, he just added Offensive Coordinator for one of our local high school football teams to the list! What began as an opportunity to speak some truth into the lives of these young men has turned into a full-on coaching position! Even though church planting and pastoring is definitely his passion and calling, I don't think I've ever seen him this excited about anything else! He's definitely enjoying playing ball with his kids and being on the sidelines, and I love that he is more concerned with shaping these boys into good men more than he is with turning them into good ball players (as is the head coach). I love sitting proudly in the bleachers and seeing him encourage and advise the players, and I love seeing how much they look up to him after it's over and they're walking off the field.  Plus, nobody looks better in a headset in my opinion!

As for me and the kiddos, this means that we have the perfect excuse to spend our Friday nights under the lights, watching a bunch of high schoolers cheer dance go head to head. Thankfully, I happen to love watching football and nothing beats a good concession stand! The kids are entertained for the most part, but I can promise you that few things are scarier for a mom than watching her kids play on bleachers! My nephew is now the team's ball boy and is loving every second and my father-in-law runs the camera to capture the game film... it's turning into quite the family affair! I'm not sure what we ever did with our Friday nights before this new gig, but it sure wasn't this much fun!

Our team is currently 1-1 with a lot of season left... and this is the only time you'll ever hear me say "Go Bulldogs!"

Oh wow they all look so alike here!
And just to make it back right again... let me say even louder:

Saturday, August 31, 2013

It Never Gets Old

About three to four times a year, our church does baptisms as a part of our Sunday morning service. We never usually let people know that they're coming, so many people do know in advance, but more often then not, it comes as a surprise to many. We do not do sign-ups, so we never know who will make that decision come Sunday morning, or how many (if any) we'll have. We've always left that up to be decided by that person and God, and without fail, God always delivers. Last weekend was no exception as we saw TWENTY-NINE people step into the waters of baptism! All I can say is WOW... there are no other words to describe an experience like that. I was happy to have my sister visiting for the weekend, and she had been looking forward to seeing this for weeks, and it did not disappoint. I looked over and she laughing, crying, and smiling all the way through... so much emotion felt for people she didn't even know... but they are all family as brothers and sisters in Christ. I was going to write up a synopsis on "Why Water Baptisms" to go along with this, but when I read back on my own experience, I realized that I couldn't really give a better explanation than I did in that post, so if you want more background as to why we do water baptisms, you can read that by clicking HERE.

But enough about that... as I said, words don't do it justice, so in case you missed it on Facebook, here is the video of another amazing day in the life of TurningPoint Church:

Friday, August 23, 2013


Hello... is anyone still there?

I recently saw a friend post a picture with the hashtag (#) "PlayAtHomeMom" and was intrigued. It was the cutest picture of her kiddos out on the back porch covered in paint, doing an art project on a large piece of butcher paper, and it looked FUN! When I explored further, all of the pictures with that hashtag were of someone's kids basically doing something fun, whether it be out at the park, something at home, a creative project like my friend's, or snuggles on the couch. When you get down to it, it's really just all about taking that "stay-at-home-mom" title to a whole new level, because believe me, it's REALLY easy to be a disengaged stay-at-home-mom. That might surprise some, as it is the ONLY job that a stay-at-home-mom has, but in today's world, it is honestly very easy and convenient to stick our kids in front of a TV show, a video game, the computer, or a phone, and go about our own business. Likewise, it's quite simple for a mama to check her phone every five minutes and spend more time interacting online with her "friends" than doing any face-to-face interaction with her kids that are in the same room, probably acting out to get her attention. I'm certainly not trying to come down on anyone or say that we're all like this, but I've had my days and moments of this, and can honestly see  how it can easily become a habit. It takes a conscious effort to be a hands-on, engaged mom to my kids everyday, and some days I get it wrong. But when it comes down to it, I certainly try.

So it's been about four months since I was let go from work and adopted the "stay-at-home-mom" title as my own, and forgive me if I haven't blogged during these months, but I took a break to really try to be the "play-at-home-mom" my kids need me to be by...

Volunteering at Jake's field day

Letting them splash in the puddles, even though I knew they'd get their clothes (& my car) dirty

Having pool parties in our backyard 
(Yes, Jake is holding Lilly's doll... he was "teaching her how to swim")

And even braved the real pool a few times... by myself... with two kids! Yikes!

Spending a little longer at the grocery store than normal so he could push his own cart

Going to the park...

A LOT...

And sometimes with friends

Making new friends... and role models

Returning to Small Town, Illinois to visit old friends
(Yes, they remembered each other and it was soooo cute!)

And meeting new ones
(Their brothers have been friends since birth, but these two had never met!) 

That trip also included the world's greatest backyard slip-n-slide, which Jake enjoyed immensely
(even though his mama had several minor heart attacks)

Taking the kids to the fair, where Lilly finally braved a few rides!

(Granted, we carried her onto them before she even realized what was happening!)

Expressing ourselves through fashion

And wearing costumes (or nothing) just because

Snuggling... I'll take it when I can get it!

And taking bubble baths... with extra bubbles... 
even when it wasn't bath time

Riding bikes in the cul-de-sac

Although some prefer pushing instead
(but with her helmet on of course... safety first!)

Visiting local places that we've always wanted to go, but never had time for...
(such as the Explorium)

Where we tried to figure out what we wanted to be when we grow up
(Don't worry, Jake... I still don't know the answer!)

And story time at Joseph-Beth Bookstore...

Where we saw the Ringling Bros. Clowns...

And clowned around ourselves 

Taking road trips...

 To the Zoo!...

Where we pointed out all of the "puppies"...

And ate junk food rather than healthy snacks

We partied 'til we just couldn't party no more

And am pretty sure we took advantage of everything summer has to offer

So in the aftermath of some of the most surprising and potentially devastating news for our family, I have to say, I've never had this much joy or had this much fun. God always knows what He is doing, and knew that I'd never take my focus off of that job long enough to focus ALL of my attention on these sweet, awesome, funny, cute kiddos that He's blessed us with. I can already see what a blessing that lay-off has been, and thankfully I'm experiencing what blessings these two are before I blink and they're all grown up. So forgive me if I blog less in this new chapter of life, but sometimes being a "Play-At-Home-Mom" takes a lot of (really worthwhile) work! There is certainly nothing else I'd rather be doing!