Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Breaking the Bad

This past week, as the kids and I have been taking walks through the neighborhood, we have stopped at a curb to sit and watch passing cars and trucks at a nearby intersection. Tyler especially loves watching all the loud dump trucks go by. In the afternoon, there are lots of school buses that pass through and come into the division. The kids get excited to see the big yellow bus drive so closely and honk. Then, Esther exclaimed, "I want to wide [ride] the chool [school] bus, Mommie." I told her when she was old enough to go to school, she could ride the bus. Of course, that started a conversation that she wanted to go to school now. When we got home from our walk, she went in, put on her backpack and informed me she was going to school. How in the world she knew she needed her backpack, I would certainly like to know.

Thinking about my girls starting school makes my heart ache a bit. It will be here in just a couple of years, which will fly by like months. Next year, they will start preschool a couple days a week and I will find my day not filled up with little toddlers anymore, but little girls.
As I think about these stages being so difficult on my heart strings, they still get bigger.

I have listened to other mothers recently who have been sharing their struggles with teenagers and young adults. I can't imagine being in that place. I can barely think of my little ones as kindergartners let alone young people with a free will and mind. It's kind of scary. There is a lot of weight in being a parent. We have such a small window to make a huge impact on the rest of their lives.

The challenge, for me, comes in not wanting my kids to walk in the footsteps of my past experiences and mistakes. 
How do I keep that from happening? 
Will my life exemplify something they long to have and cling to what is good despite what this world has to offer?
It's something that has been weighty on my heart and talk with my husband often.

This week, I found myself full of questions studying up the end of David's life in my chronological study. It was late. I was staying at my grandmother's house, longing to have a coffee date with a bff, who is a chronological buff, to pick her brain with all my inquiries, but since that wasn't an available option, neither was a wifi network, might I add, I decided to ask the Lord. James 1, says ask away, right?

Honestly, I was surprised how fast He seemed to answer me. So fast, I was kind of skeptical that maybe the answers were just deep inside myself. Fascinatingly, one of His answers I found in the next day's reading plan almost word for word. Ridiculousness!

I can't remember one of my exact questions, but I began questioning along the lines of what good came from David's sin (with Bathsheba)? It seemed like he messed up one big time and paid for it over and over again (lost the confidence of his kingdom, banished by his son, Absalom, the 3 day plague on Israel after the census, fill in a bunch more etcs here). It didn't seem fair (as if any of us are deserving) especially when he truly had a heart toward God. Why did he have to go through so much? Wasn't it enough that he was on the run most of his life after defeating Goliath and then to do it again? Why did he have to suffer so much distress over an entire lifetime before and after sinning?

 The Lord told David:
1 Chronicles 22:9 But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. 10 He is the one who will build a house for my Name. He will be my son, and I will be his father. And I will establish the throne of his kingdom over Israel forever.’
The answer goes far beyond just David, himself. It's as though Solomon received David's ultimate earthly inheritance. It was passed down to the next generation.

Solomon received abundant blessings when acquiring the crown. He was given all his heart desired and the ultimate honor and responsibility of building the Lord's temple, which David had always longed to do, but the Lord refused him on account he was a warrior with too much bloodshed on his hands. ::Insert more questions:: Ha!

It felt as if the Lord was assuring me that my many years in sinful struggles would not go in vain. I struggled years in the desert and in earthly warfare so that my children would not. They would be blessed with what I am now passing on with my life.

I have truth to share. Truth that scares me to share. Truth I don't want my kids to see in me, but wisdom that may keep them close to the Lord, and that is true treasure to pass down to the next generation.

As many times as I have wondered, 'why did it take so long for me to be rescued,' I would have not left a day sooner if that's what it meant for my kids to be cut free from any replicating attachments, any generational bondage. I will no longer look back at my past with the same perspective. I was fighting a battle my children won't have to, so they can live in peace.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
    for the Lord has anointed me
    to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted
    and to proclaim that captives will be released
    and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn
    that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
    and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
 
To all who mourn in Israel,
    he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
    festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
    that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins,
    repairing cities destroyed long ago.
They will revive them,
    though they have been deserted for many generations.
 
Foreigners will be your servants.
    They will feed your flocks
and plow your fields
    and tend your vineyards.

You will be called priests of the Lord,
    ministers of our God.
You will feed on the treasures of the nations
    and boast in their riches. 
Instead of shame and dishonor,
    you will enjoy a double share of honor.
You will possess a double portion of prosperity in your land,
    and everlasting joy will be yours.

“For I, the Lord, love justice.
    I hate robbery and wrongdoing.
I will faithfully reward my people for their suffering
    and make an everlasting covenant with them.
 
Their descendants will be recognized
    and honored among the nations.
Everyone will realize that they are a people
    the Lord has blessed.”

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God!
For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation
    and draped me in a robe of righteousness.
I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding
    or a bride with her jewels.
 
The Sovereign Lord will show his justice to the nations of the world.
    Everyone will praise him!
His righteousness will be like a garden in early spring,
    with plants springing up everywhere.
-Isaiah 61

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Keeping Up With the Adams

We just got back from our second beach trip of the summer and celebrating Anna & Esther's 3rd birthday. The day they turned 3 seemed to come with a new set of handbooks. 


When we visited Panama City in May, the girls still had a hatred and distaste for all things sand and waves since their first seaside experience. It wasn't until the day before we left that they figured out how to have their own fun. Three months later and a day after turning the big 3 in Orange Beach, the girls decided to be content and fearless of the sand. Or should I say, Esther took the sand in stride the first day, but proclaimed, "Mommy, I don't like the beach," for the rest of the week. She preferred to play in the baby pool at the condo.

From Beach Bums to Beach Babes
(Left) Panama City in May (Right) Orange Beach in September



Anna grew more and more courageous as the week went on. She would play in the sand, jump in and out of the waves, and scream with excitement. She also loved going down the big water slide with Daddy and Papa. She went over and over again. Esther, on the other hand, went once, but did not want to participate in such shenanigans again (I'm pretty sure that's exactly what she would say if it was in her vocabulary. She is so careful and cautious). Anna was so bold, unknowingly, she climbed up to the top of the slide behind Kyle and was about to go down all by herself until another parent at the top stopped her and started calling out for her parents, us. Hide under a rock, yes, that's ours!

Anna Slow Motion in a Wave



Also within a day of taking on the beach, the girls have enlisted the use of "Why?" into their language specialties. It still hits me with shock every time they say it.

"Esther is going to hold the stars [portable nightlight] tonight."
Anna's response: "Why, Monnie?"

Not only has fearlessness and knowledge inquirers been added to the new resume, but Esther has declared herself expert backseat driver. She tells me when I should "go" and where I should park. If this is just the first week, age 3 should prove to be very interesting.

The girls may have just turned 3, but our little Tyler is going on 2. Maybe it's because he is a sibling, but he seems advanced for his age. He is already a little parrot repeating words and phrases and is a little tattle tale when he can't withstand bullying on his own. Like always, he still wants to do everything his sissys are doing including painting his toe nails too. He even responded to a lady at the elevator the other day, "Thank you." Seriously?! That's my newly turned one year old speaking! 

Ty has taken on a love for this stuffed monkey that is probably half his size. He carries it around hugging it. It's even more adorable when he goes night night with it. It is always wrapped under his arm, even when he is on his belly. Monkey is next to him with an arm over it's neck, snuggling him close. After putting Ty to bed some nights, after about ten minutes of silence, I will hear a break out of "Eeeee Eeeeee Ooooo Ooooo Ahhhh Ahhh!" on the monitor. It's the stinkin' cutest thing EVER. I guess, he forgot to tell his buddy good night too. 

Speaking of bedtime and big boy moments, there are times when he is playing with the girls as I tell him 'It's bedtime,' he will automatically stand up, wave and in his little raspy boy voice say, "Buh-bye" to his sissys before turning to come up the stairs. ::Tug at my heartstrings:: 

There is such beauty and purity in children that it lavishes my heart to pieces. The things they do eat me up! 



We got to enjoy some one-on-one time with the twins this past week. They are just getting to the point where they are okay with being separated from each other and don't feel like they have to do exactly what the other is or have to go where the other is going. It is true treasured moments to spend time feeding into each one personally. My husband will sure have his hands full trying to balance taking all 3 of us ladies on our own separate dates. Ha!

The kiddos stories are sweetly endless. 



In grown up world, some things are getting easier, while we are still trying to master and balance others. Being tired is a constant state of being, of course. 

I am starting to take on a few outside activities, which I thought would never happen again or at least until all our kids hit school age. I just recently went on a weekend women's retreat and also started a chronological study with a few other Moms. It has been great accountability to stay in the Word and comes along with discussion and guidance in what I am reading. It's so easy for me to space out nowadays when I am trying to meditate.

In addition to being poured in, I am getting a chance to pour out. My friend and I are opening a marriage study this week. I haven't led a study since pre-Kyle and I am overly excited to be diving in with some other close ladies. It feels like I am back on the track to experiencing community again. I have been closed off for so long, reluctant to participate in anything, that this feels like fresh air! 

We are slowly but surely working on small renovations in our house before we tear out our entire kitchen and master bath in the spring. Small decorations have finally been placed on a few spaces on the wall. It's starting to look and feel a little like home around here. 

First Tweeks
(an interuption to all the beach vaca photo sharing)
For a few months now, we have been struggling day to day at a crossroads whether we are staying or moving. Kyle has been on the fast track of promotions in his work and it seems like every other week, a new opportunity is offered or rumored. We recently turned down a promotion that would move us to Philadelphia. It's an unsettling state especially when we are in the mist of trying to make our house a home with all the interior changes just the way we want them.

However, this week, my husband was presented with a new opportunity that would keep us here for the next 2 years before we will most likely have to move as he would be head of another branch within the company. We feel at peace about it, but there is also a lot of fear and uncertainty that pops up. We have no idea until the time comes what locations will be offered, how far it is from our families, is it a place we will love, because we do love where we are. God has led us every step and we have every bit of faith His hands are already paving the way for us, but the unknown is just scary. 




We haven't seen a date night in months, but marriage seems all together sweeter. Before tying the knot, I had two fears: 1.) Love doesn't grow deeper with time. 2.) When we have kids, they will replace my husband's love for me.

In the beginning, I thought that courtship and dating far outweighed newlywed life, but now it's totally opposite. Love and marriage can and does grow deeper. I love a day in marriage more than any one of our dating adventures, which is hard to measure up to, if you know my romancing husband. Ha! 

Marriage is so beautiful. It's lovely. And so very sanctifying. I think what we have is rare and will be an exciting journey to find new levels of love going deep. 

As for the second fear, it has proven to be completely irrelevant. God had a sense of humor wiping the apprehension out of our marriage from the very beginning with our honeymoon twins. Being parents and raising children is an experience we get to share and grow in together, not to overtake in our affections for each other. Kris Vallotton said it best:

"The very presence of our children is supposed to remind us of the covenant love that we share for each other. Their hearts become tablets on which husbands and wives write their love letters to each other."



Our life is far from perfect but it's amazingly sweet. God's goodness, grace, and mercy have a way of showing the beauty in the every day. Marriage, love, kids...God this is good! 

You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.
Psalms 23: 5-6





Thursday, September 11, 2014

Mommy Princess

Anna and Esther experienced a princess birthday party this past weekend. After encountering a taste of princess sophistication, dress up, tiaras, fancy necklaces and bracelets now make up a full day of playing. Luckily, we have a princess castle tent for all of these elegant activities. Ha!















We have already been shopping to the grocery store in princess gowns twice this week. One day, as their little sparkly duds were line drying, we still couldn't get in the car without all the princess accessories. Going to the store has never been so stinkin' cute!

On any normal shopping adventure, we get plenty of gawkers and people who stop us to ask probing 'twin' questions (and an 'oh, you have another little one, too'), but princess twins stirred it up more. The girls usually look at me with uncertainty when people repetitively ask them, 'are you twins?' or 'how old are you?' but when people stopped to comment, 'look at you little princesses,' Anna and Esther never once questioned their royal status and shyly smiled.

I began to think how easy it must be at 3 years old to walk so confidently in your identity. My girls didn't think it was anything but normal to be strolling through the aisles with tiaras and beads on and no one made them doubt they were anything but little majesties as they twirled around.



Lately, I have been struggling to dance around in my Mommy crown. As I have been weening off my postpartum medications and trying to feel like my normal self again, I don't have the overwhelming joy I once experienced in every aspect of kid living.

It wasn't until a discussion in my Bible study group when one Mom shared a passage from a book she was reading that it totally connected the dots.

"Motherhood will change you - if you let it.  And believe me, you do want to let it change you, because when you've refined the art of not thinking first of yourself, you will very much like the person you become.  Plus, you'll experience so much more joy and satisfaction from your life with your children."
-Barbara Curtis, The Mommy Survival Guide


I realized I wasn't completely embracing my Mommy identity. I have been fighting it. I keep looking back to the person I once was before becoming a Mom and trying to fit my life then into my life now. It just doesn't mix and turns into a frustrating cycle of unhappiness.

Lately, I have found myself sacrificing valuable time with my kids because of my deep need to have a super organized, tidy house like when I lived alone. I have been pining away for the days when everything was always organized, in it's proper place, and could even be found in it's proper space. I went to bed at night with a clean house without a sole dish in the sink before crawling into fresh, perfectly folded sheets.
          It's an impossible task to accomplish these days and turns into an exhausting circle of trying to find contentment in my house rather than in my sweet lovies. 

Before marriage and kids, time with the Lord came in abundance. I had a worship lifestyle all day long. I was His little songbird. In the evenings after work, if I wasn't being poured into by a mentor, I was studying His Word. I craved the Lord and had plenty of time to sit in quiet time and meditate. So many days now, I think that since I couldn't fit in those same kind of experiences, that the time I do spend isn't equivalent. I'm always trying to catch God in a spare moment, usually in the shower. Singing has been long replaced with tired cries and grunts and I find myself wanting to be selfish and have quiet time to myself to curl up to watch a movie, but instead feel guilty that it's not desired quiet time with the Lord.

The other night, my husband asked me if 'I'm happy,' and I replied with how happy I am.  He begins to tell me he notices every time I look at myself in the mirror, I look at my reflection with sadness. Remembering the days of my cute petite little figure is nothing but a sore reminder of my constant weight struggle. Shopping for clothes as I browse through sizes I never imagined seeing or trying to pick out an outfit for church automatically ruins my cheerful mood for the day. I will grieve the whole morning.
My body made me a Mommy! I can't seem to view my shape as a significance of all the life it created. Instead, it's a standard by which to perfect myself to and only causes anger and disappointment that I can't seem to bounce back like all the other pretty Mommies I see.

With the help of the Lord, I have to let Mommyhood change me and with joy, just like my girls did jumping into being little princesses. It means feeling accomplished and at peace with going to bed with the stickiest, dirtiest floors, being satisfied with that one word the Lord speaks to me as I wash up for a tiresome day ahead, and knowing my body is only a vessel which carried selflessly.

I  have to stop chasing after my old self. Just as with Christ within us, the old is gone, the new has come. I'm now a wife and now a mom. There is no comparison of the two.

My kids are an extension of me. Loving them is like loving myself and I never thought I could love pieces of myself as much as I love them. It's like while I was carrying them on the inside, they grabbed a big chuck of my heart and are now running around with it on the outside and carrying it around with them.

I am reflected in the little people I am growing up. It's true beauty in all it's making 
and the most extravagant princess gown of them all!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Ty Bash

12 Months has come and gone. 2 months ago, gone (!), and I'm just now posting our 1 year celebration.

The theme all started with a tie onesie I was gifted at Tyler's baby shower, long before we decided on a name. I photographed him in this sweet onesie for his 'One Month' photo and the theme just stuck.

So a TY Bash it was...
"Around your neck or in your hair,
ties will be everywhere!"

My very favorite party photos of our little Bud!
We used golf tees to pin down balloons all over the back yard for the kids to run through.

Invitation, tie shaped cake, and table setting.
Invitation: LiliesoftheField Etsy Shop

There is a lack of tie themed party favors in stores, so it was time to get creative making tie cups and serving plates. By Googling silhouettes of ties, I printed, cut scrapbook paper, and taped with clear packing tape. 

Adding more bow tie theme to clear plastic serving plates.

Our "Time Capsule" to be opened 17 years from now. Guests wrote Ty a message, prophetic word, or prediction of what he might be when he grows up.
The idea came from "Keeping Up With The Morgans" Blog. I love it!! Such a great keepsake!

Water Squirter Party Favors from the Dollar store with Bow Tie name tags.
Nice for cleaning off all the cake in the pool.

Our fun photo prop for all of the guests to take with the Birthday Boy!
Aunt Ciera & (One day Uncle) Sam here! 

Ty's favorite part was the Bubble Machine. Gosh, you should see all the faces he made! Hilarious!

The giant "Doritos" ball, courtesy of Frito Lay Pawpaw, was a big hit!

Very surprisingly, The Cake, however, was not! 

He needed a little help to get into it. 

Okay....maybe a lot of help!

Ty couldn't have been more proud of his Big Boy Chair he got from his Mimi & Papa.
It made a great photo prop to go along with his 1st year milestone sign.

I made the sign using black foam board and free handed using chalk. It took hours, in case you were wondering.
A great tutorial can be found again here at "Keeping Up With the Morgans."
The style idea came from PrincessSnap on Etsy.

The best family photo we could manage to get. Anna was obviously not amused.  lol.
Our handmade neck ties, I made using a tutorial from "VanillaJoy."

Happy 1st Birthday, Tyler!!
Thank you to all who spoiled our little guy and made his day a very special one!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Suburban Graffiti

We have been in the process of remodeling our backyard and pretty much every room on the inside of our home since we tied the knot. Somehow, our girls managed to get theirs remodeled first. Ha! 


We bought this little forecloser for $15 and gave it a makeover.
Gosh, I can't believe this is what the twins looked like just last summer!

Using some graffiti tools, we went to work!


We laid some foundation using large square stepping stones left over from a deck demolition.
(Tyler Deleted my photo here...but I'm sure you get it)


And added a kitchen to the inside($10 find; removing the top shelving for just a stove top fit) with Dollar Store cookware for some great Mud Pie and Mud Soup bakin'. 


The New Renovation...


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Accepting Full Price

I recently finished up a 10 week women's study on "Passion Pursuit" with some ladies in our church. It was primarily focused on intimacy in marriage, but turned out to be one of the richest studies I have ever done. So much that, I plan to go through the book again with some friends. Not only did it fine tune my relationship with my husband, but it flowed out into so many other areas of my life and exposing deep rooted struggles.

One of the chapters of homework really caught me off guard. It was on forgiveness and accepting the full cost of the cross.

Check the box, I got that covered. (Pride Alert)

As I delved into the chapter and answered the questions, I realized how much faith I lack in the sacrifice Christ made for me. I found that the, somewhat, easy part was accepting/expecting forgiveness from the Father when I earnestly ask and that He no longer holds my records of wrongs, but there is a huge lack of faith in forgiving myself. (Gulp)

Holding on to past sins by feeling guilty or punishing myself is not fully handing it over to the Lord and his ultimate sacrifice.
                         He paid for it allHe set me free
                         Free from sin. 
                         Free from punishment (not to be confused with consequences).
                         Free from condemnation. 
                         Free from the enemy's taunting.
It requires great faith to pour myself fully unto Him and allow His full grace and His full mercy to overflow and take over my life. Otherwise, I am just picking my sins back up from the cross and carrying them with me. This faith is harder than I ever imagined because I know I am so U.N.D.E.S.E.R.V.I.N.G.

If you read Luke 7:36-50, there is the beautiful story of the woman who fell at Christ's feet. She anointed him with perfume and her tears in sincere repentance. The Lord responded very clearly:

47 “I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” 48 Then Jesus said to the woman, “Your sins are forgiven.” ..... 50 “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

After meditating on Luke 7 for quite some time through the lesson, Linda Dillow and Juli Slattery (Authors of Passion Pursuit) proposed a thought provoking journal entry:

Passion Pursuit by Linda Dillow & Linda Slattery, Page 140, Authentic Intimacy























The journal challenge above painted such a beautiful picture and put His love in such sweet perspective.

I immediately envisioned the Lord sitting in the room, waiting with anticipation as He expected my entrance. He was delighted when He saw my face and quietly said my name as I came to His feet. He gently held out His hands to touch my face as I knelt before Him in brokenness.

Gosh, what security and faith He bestows!

His plans are not to harm me. After all, He died for me! Died so that I may be free. Free to let go of my own selfish control and live in peace. Forgive myself and lavish in the joy He has set before me.


"The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
    slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He will not constantly accuse us,
    nor remain angry forever.
10 
He does not punish us for all our sins;
    he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 
For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
    is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 
He has removed our sins as far from us
    as the east is from the west.
13 
The Lord is like a father to his children,
    tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 
For he knows how weak we are;
    he remembers we are only dust."
- Psalm 103:8-14


Friday, June 20, 2014

TWELVE

My heart sinks as this little guy has hit the big twelve!  My Ty has become a big guy. No longer my little baby. This little joy carrier is advancing forward like he is 18 months old.




twelve months: 21 pounds, 29 inches tall

  • blows the cutest kisses
  • talks on the phone
  • points at birds and airplanes in the sky
  • rides his firetruck forwards
  • starting to run
  • walks like a cowboy
  • eating solid foods
  • tattle tells on his sissys when they take his toys away
  • loves rough housing
  • follows his Daddy everywhere
  • swims like a fish
  • has 2 teeth
  • discovered the love of BUBBLES
  • likes taking things apart and putting them back together
  • learning to use his spoon
  • graduated out of the church nursery ::sniffles::
  • tasted his first donut
  • tucks his head under his legs like a somersault
  • bobs up and down when trying to dance
  • grabs his ears when he's frustrated
  • understands commands
  • gives high fives
  • can throw a ball
  • squeals when Daddy comes home
  • first to get up every morning
  • sticks out his tongue when he's excited
  • has already learned the word, "Mine."
  • carries food in his hands at almost all times
  • thinks he is as big as his sisters
  • celebrated his 1st Birthday with a "Ty Bash"