Friday, December 25, 2009

From our family to yours...

(our 2009 Christmas card & letter)

Dear Friends and Family,

When we think back over our lives, there are certain memories that stand as markers of time or seasons that your mind automatically scrolls through. For our family, 2009 was a year FULL of those mile-marking memories.

For the first time ever, our family took a Disney vacation! We spent a week in Orlando, staying at a Disney resort and enjoying a great time of rest and excitement all at once. We saw priceless looks on the faces of the children when we surprised them (in Jacksonville, FL) with the news that they would be standing in front of Cinderella’s castle in just a few short hours! The week was a wonderful time for us to be together as a family and create life-long memories for them AND for us. We spent at least one day at Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios and had a meal with a handful of Disney characters on each day. You will have to ask the children what each of their favorite moments were, but be prepared to sit a while. I don’t think any of us can claim just one.

After five years of balancing full-time work with writing research papers and being a great Daddy to five energetic children, 2009 marked the completion of Nathan’s undergraduate work! In May, Nathan graduated, earning his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Studies. It was a WONDERFUL day for the whole family, as we all felt a sense of accomplishment. We feel extremely blessed to have been placed on this journey together as a family. In August, Nathan began working on his Master of Divinity in Biblical Counseling. He is also finishing his second year as an intern at our family church, where we fellowship with a beautiful church family. In these last five years, we have all learned and grown in our walk with the Lord in ways we cannot measure by degree or merit. God has used this time in NC to teach us about who He desires us to be and how He desires us to minister to this world.

In addition, 2009 marked an end to homeschooling for our family, at least for now. MaryEvelyn and Cooper joined Graycen at a GREAT charter school. Graycen (age 8) entered 3rd grade and adjusted to the added responsibility and heavier workload. MaryEvelyn (age 7) had a seamless transition into 2nd grade and loves going to school. Cooper (age 6) began Kindergarten and is having a great time discovering the foundations of learning. Ella (age 5) and Annagail (age 2) have enjoyed having a smaller crowd at home during the day and have become “bestest friends”, as they say.

Finally, it would be difficult to mention all of these wonderful mile-markers in 2009 without also mentioning one of the biggest mile-markers of this year for us. This year Nathan was laid off from his employer and has spent the last ten months seeking employment. Although it is hard to be a part of the large number of Americans that are struggling to find work in this current economy, it has also been a mile-marker of TRUST and FAITH for us. When we look back on this year, we will remember how the Lord completely held us through all of this. Finances are obviously tight and it takes a lot of preparation and communication to keep things going, but we have been held in the Grace of the Lord this year. We have enjoyed time together. We have been able to minister to others that are going through struggles. I can honestly say that we have laughed together more this year and have enjoyed true PEACE that comes from knowing that God’s plan for our lives is better than anything we could have ever dreamed up. We find strength in verses like Isaiah 12:2,"Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation." We find comfort in verses like Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” During this time, we have also enjoyed getting back to doing portrait & event photography and are watching the Lord grow our business according to His perfect will. You can check us out at

Looking forward to 2010, we pray that, regardless of our circumstances, we will continue to seek His will for our lives and that we will continue to rest in the provision of Christ’s birth, His life, His death for our sins, and His resurrection. Our prayer for you in 2010 is that you, regardless of circumstance, will know this peace also. When we celebrate Christ’s birth at Christmas, we are praying that each of you will know the peace and love that can only come through a very personal relationship with God. He was more than just a baby born in a manger. He is THE way, THE truth, and THE life (John 14:6). Our prayer for YOU is that 2010 is a “mile-marker year” that reflects JOY and BLESSING that comes from living in Christ alone.

Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year to You!
Nathan, Angela, Graycen, MaryEvelyn, Cooper, Ella, & Annagail Murray

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Sounds heard from the sofa...

It appears that the swine flu that we had in OCTOBER has had some lingering effects. I have a full-blown bacterial respiratory infection! Nathan has been his usual sweet self and allowed me to rest for the greater part of the last 4 days.

Here are a few snipets of conversation that I have either HAD or HEARD from my spot on the sofa:

(a conversation between Ella-age 5 and Annagail-ag 2 1/2 as they were playing dolls on the kitchen floor)

Annagail: I hurt my b-u-t-t (Annagail has learned to spell it from her sibs tattling on her)

Ella: Sissy, you can't say b-u-t-t!!! You can saaaaaaaaaaaaay bottom. You can say fanny. You can even say tushy! You cannot say b-u-t-t!!

(playing make believe phone call with Annagail this morning)

Annagail: Mama, Aalice is on da phone fo you.

Me: Oh, okay
(taking the phone and trying to livin' up this imaginary convo)
Me: OH! Hahahahahaha! Alice, that is the funniest thing I have ever heard!

Annagail: (taking the phone back to hear the joke) *GASPING and giving me a disapproving look* : MAMA! That is SO not funny at all! Her baby is bleeding!!!!

Me: Oh, whoops.


I enjoy listening to my babies play. They come up with the silliest things to say.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I have a new five year old!

Last year Ella (age 4):

This year Ella (age 5):

This year, Ella will:

-start Kindergarten
-graduate from a Cubbie to a Spark
-Learn to tie her shoes
-learn to read!!!!
-be just one birthday away from being allowed on the top bunk of the bunkbeds (this would probably TOP her list!)

I cannot believe it has been a year since I posted her birthday message LAST year from this same hotel in Charleston. Because she was born so close to Thanksgiving, we are always travelling on her birthday. She LOVES it and I think she thinks the complimentary continental breakfast is set out in her honor. Ha!

Although I know she has loved ALL of her hotel birthdays (especially last year's Curious George Scavenger hunt around Charleston!), we wanted her to have an actual, not-just-family, birthday party. We planned a party for her in December this year. (Flexibility, remember?!?!?! Do you sense a theme on this blog?!?!?!)We are headed to my Mom's house for a little ice cream cake and some surprises to mark the day.

Ella has probably grown a foot since last year and her personality has grown as much or more! She is a sweet young lady that has a ton of energy and LOVES to entertain. Her best friend in the whole world is her little sister, Annagail , and they spend hours each day make-believing that one of them is the Mama and the other is either the daughter or the dog, depending on the mood Ella is in.

Last year, her birthday wish was that she was five instead of four, because five sounded like more fun. I hope it lives up to her expectation! It will if I have anything to do with it.

I love you Ella-Bella-Buttercream!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bungee Love

I love catchy titles. Anywho...

I was thinking about my love for my children and all that we have in store for us over the next several years. Being the visual person that I am, I began to think about how our bonds would grow and stretch over time and with weddings, births etc. Ya know what it made me think of?

A bungee chord.

Yup. Love is a bungee chord. Ha! Stick with me here.

Imagine a bungee chord in your mind (the kind you use to tie things down to your car or luggage or what not). There is usually a thick chord (usually several strands wound together) that connects to large hooks. Like bonds of love, a bungee chord should be flexible. Also, the chord gives slack or additional pressure when needed. Bungee chord has a unique quality that allows it to redistribute the pressure on itself to accommodate it's current task with no memory of the last task. It has a soft covering that serves as protection for the load. What good would the bungee BE to the load if it damaged it on the journey? Bungee chords are protected from weather and withstand most hard conditions.

The contrast to bungee love would be love that is all roped up. Think about the qualities of a rope- the kind that old cowboys use :o) The chord, although also usually many chords wound together, is very dry, very rigid. It CAN be moved around and FORCED into different shapes or patterns, but they are limited, it isn't easy, and it usually requires much more work than anyone wants to put in. The materials used to make the rope are usually scratchy and uncomfortable to the touch. It even leaves marks on the load and can cause damage just by it's touch. A rope's length is predetermined by it's maker. Rope cannot be stretched or expanded much longer than it's intended use and doing so would compromise the load itself entirely. Don't even THINK about introducing new elements to the load! It can't take it.

As a Mom to five children that I love both equally and uniquely, I have learned A LOT about bungee love. The chords of love between each one of my children and I are strong, flexible, and proven. The connections I have to my children are equally significant, but they can also be flexible to extend to whichever one or two need more pressure, more support, whatever is needed. If my bond with them is like a rope, it's amount is set and I cannot offer anything more. If that were the case, my love for them would be a set amount for each child also and would breed competition, favoritism, and spite.

I hope that Nathan and I are showing them now how to nurture those bonds themselves also, so that they can purpose a bungee-type love for each other AND whomever is added to our family as the years go by and they leave our home. Hopefully, as they do now, they will always know that attention to another does not equal less love for them. Instead, I pray that they will see times like that as times blessings, as opportunities to grow themselves and learn how to stretch themselves into people that think of the person on the "other end" of that connection BEFORE themselves, which is always a valuable lesson.

So, getting back to my thoughts, I have this vision of Nathan and I standing in the middle of this large group of people, all in their own circles around us. Our children make up the first circle and from that sprouts smaller circles, and from that, more...You get the idea. Connecting us all are these strong flexible chords that give and take, that are flexible enough to allow us to ALL circle around one person or even one of the smaller circles to make a completely new center if need be, in times of need or celebrations, but also have the lack of memory to be able to bounce right back and share the load equally. I have this vision of my children helping to connect new chords to siblings-in-laws as they come and being so HAPPY to do so, because it means that they are able to love MORE and deeper. Can you imagine how large this web-o-love of our's could get with possibly 5 sibling spouses and who knows how many grandchildren?!?!?!?!?!?! I get excited thinking about it!!!

So today, instead of an Irish blessing, I wish you a bungee love blessing!

May your family circles grow and may they be circles filled with joy that bounces back to you for years to come! (insert rim shot here.)

Monday, November 9, 2009


I have been busy in photoland. Because I want the Lord to grow this business according to HIS will and in HIS time, I am only spending money ON this business that was made BY this business. So far, it is growing and I am so excited about it!!!! I am still a wife and mommy, so I am grateful that this isn't intruding on that. So far, it blends beautifully and Nathan and I are enjoying seeing the Lord bless our family. Nathan is even photographing an event for a large radio station in NC (an surrounding areas!) tomorrow morning. BIG fun!

My computer, however, isn't getting with the program. I would LOVE to run out and purchase a new computer, but if the last year has taught me ANYTHING it has taught me that the Lord's timing is always right. Until then,

I may need some help resisting the urge to throw this machine off of my back porch.

If you don't hear from me in a while. It may be because my laptop didn't sprout wings when it really needed to.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Easy Math Lesson

Flu Bug x Seven Murrays = No dressing up and going to Party On The Block :o(

This is the first time, since we have been parents, that we haven't dressed the kids up in Mama-made costumes and headed out for the wholesome fun of a church carnival on reformation day. I don't know who was more bummed, the kids or Nathan and I.

Remember that post about flexibility from a few weeks ago?Yesterday was just that, a day to teach flexibility and dealing with a little dissappointment.

Instead of moping about not being able to go to the carnival, we turned the day into a GREAT day of fun and rest for our family. Since we decided on Thursday that we weren't going, we had the kids decorate a suggestion box and each put one or two ideas of what we could do instead here at home. Nathan and I went through the box on Friday night and picked at least one from everyone. Here is how we filled our grand day:

-Doughnuts for breakfast (Supposed to be Daylight, but they had a sign the said, "Closed due to illness". I guess this flu math is much more widespread than just seven. Dunkin' Donuts had to suffice)

-Movie Rental#1 (Inkheart- Really good movie by the way for family movie night!)

-Board Games (We had a photo-finish round of CandyLand. We have to use ChutesNLadders pieces, so that all seven of us can play. Haha!)

-Baking (We made some banana muffins for Sunday's breakfast.)

-Watched the GA/FL football game

-Hamburgers/Hotdogs for dinner at a laundry basket picnic.

-Movie Rental #2 (Hotel For Dogs- was alright. Wouldn't have spent more than $1)

-Candy Treasure Hunt (the kids favorite part!)


Don't you wish you were here with us, well, MINUS the flu?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

On the bright side

I have been in bed since about 30 seconds after I hit "publish" on that last post. I needed to get out and be upright for a little while or I will NEVER sleep tonight. SO, I thought I would catch you all up on what I have been doing in my blogging absence. I have been doing this:

and this:

and this:

OH! Remember all of the bellyachin' I did about not getting to buy the kids' school portraits, which my sweet Mom and Mom-in-law ended up buying. Well, I needed to get some sample shots for a few big projects I have coming up and I did this also:

I have had such a great time doing portrait sessions again. The best part has, by far, been getting to share it with Nathan again. It is where we met. It is a mutual passion that the Lord used to bring us together in the first place and it has been so much fun to have him with me at a session. He sees things the same way I do and we just have such a great time when we are working together.
Also, I have been working on our company site: Kariseen Images . I am not a graphic designer and I am trying to actually MAKE money in this business vs. spend it, so I utilize as much of my paid-for site features and combined them with some free Internet services. It isn't perfect, but I am proud of it.

I have also been studying the book of Acts with a GREAT group of ladies- going through it verse by verse (expository) and learning SO MUCH about those early church days. (People throw that word around so carelessly.) God is showing me so much through His Word and it has become a Tuesday night tradition for the kids to ask me what I learned in Bible Study and I spend a few minutes at dinner telling them where we are "in the story". It is great!

Nathan just fixed me a big bowl of my favorite soup, so I am going to gobble it up and then try to get some sleep- praying that this flu will go away. It is the PITS.

So now you know why I haven't bee blogging so much. On the bright side :o)

We're a Siiick........Howwwwwwwse.

(did you get that musical reference? HeeHee)

All of the kids stayed home from school on Monday. Even though only MaryEvelyn and Annagail were sick, I wanted to give it another 24 hours before I sent the school kids in to possibly spread the germ to the masses. 24 hours passed. Still, MaryEvelyn was the only school-aged child affected. On Tuesday, Coop and Graycie headed to school. Meanwhile, I started to feel crummy.

Yesterday, while I began my spiral into the flu, MaryEvelyn seemed to be embarqing on her last day of being stuck at home. This morning however, not only did I wake up feeling the full brunt of this flu, not only was MaryEvelyn still running a fever (!!!), but GRAYCEN was burning up the ear thermometer also!

So, I currently have all four of my girls piled up on various couches and recliners, with their bed pillows and rolls of toilet paper at their disposal (can you IMAGINE what boxes of Kleenex would run us?!?!?! I'm just sayin'...) They are watching a little Boomerang cartoons and I am drinking some chamomile with honey.

This too shall pass. I am calling the Doc just to check and make sure I'm not missing something, but I am sure it is just the flu- regular or swine, it is one of them and there isn't much we can do about it other than treat the symptoms.

Nathan is on his way home, so I will be piling up under my covers with my own roll of tp and riding this out myself. I have to finish the kids' Fall Festival costumes before Saturday, so I hope this passes quickly. The Pirates of M cannot be under dressed!

If this flu keeps taking out the Pirates one by one, I don't guess it will matter what the outfits look like, right?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

When MaryEvelyn starts running a fever, I know I am in for a long week.

MaryEvelyn NEVER gets sick. She is a very healthy and strong child and has only actually thrown up, MAYBE, twice in her life. SO, I was a bit concerned when she started getting the chills and running a high fever yesterday. Since then, Annagail has started running a fever.

Needless to say, the kids and I are on lock down. Nathan went to church solo this morning, because he was filling in for our ABF teacher (who was at home sick also!) and he needed to cover the 3 year old Sunday school class that we teach together. Again tonight he headed off to church alone. I feel awful, because it is AWANA store night. The children were so upset that they couldn't go spend their well-earned AWANA-bucks. Nathan and I usually serve in AWANA together- something that I did at first to fill a need but have grown to love doing, so I feel bad that he doesn't have my help tonight also.

Before the illnesses hit yesterday, I hosted a baby shower for a dear friend and then I packed up all the spring/summer clothes for storage- replacing them with the fall/winter clothes. It is a HUGE undertaking and I have many people that ask me "How do you do keep all of that organized with so many children?". SO, I am going to post my "how-to" tips and tricks later. I have been using this method for five years now and it is a proven method for me. Maybe it will work for you too!

Now, I am off to make some homemade macNcheese for the kids. I am hoping that making some good, old-fashioned, mama-love comfort food will lift their spirits!

Monday, October 19, 2009

12:19 am

It is already tomorrow, but I have a minute while the cupcakes are cooling, so I figured I had no excuse for NOT checking in-HA!

Is it really just Monday?!?!?!?

Nathan and I enjoyed a wonderfully long weekend away and alone. It was a great weekend and we spent almost nothing. We almost went to a movie until I realized that it has been FAR too long since we went to a movie and I couldn't bare to spend the money. Instead we found the nearest Red Box and rented FOUR movies. We slept until 10 or 11 everyday and we ate a late breakfast at the "Awful Waffle"-- a place that we spent many a sleepless study night while we were dating. We ordered soup, salad, and breadsticks TO GO from Olive Garden and just hung out together. It was SUCH a great time. We laughed for hours and slept for hours. Thank you to my in-laws for taking SUCH good care of our kids while we were gone. They got all of the big kids to school on Friday and even supervised Saturday morning chores. The kids were happy to see us, but also sad for their own weekend to end!

So today is Monday and after we got the 3 big kids to school we:
-worked out at the gym.
-did lunch parent duty.
-took a card around for MaryEvelyn's class to sign.
-took the two youngest Murrays to the Chik for lunch.
-picked up Cooper early due to a "headache" that vanished as soon as he got in the car.
-paid a few bills
-afternoon carpool.
-supervised homework.
-washed a load of laundry.
-baked home made lasagna.
-modified and prepared my parent order forms for a new preschool portrait date (to be delivered tomorrow)
-baked cupcakes for MaryEvelyn's class for tomorrow.

As soon as the cupcakes cool enough to be stored, I am headed to bed, so that I can:

-read over my Bible Study text again.
-ice the cupcakes
-rearrange the kids' planned uniforms for the week due to a weather change.
-make breakfast.
-and pack lunches (Xs 7)

before we head out to start our TUESDAY. It is a good thing we had this past weekend to rest up!

Have a Super day!

Monday, October 12, 2009


If you are like me and use the internet as your yellow pages, encyclopedia, research assistant, marketing consultant, etc. Then you will want to go here:

and sign up for swagbucks.

I am not a swagbucks hunter, although I hear that there are many extra swagbucks to be found. However, I figure that if I am going to use a search engine anyway I might as well use one that will award me with a gift card eventually. There are many other ways to earn swagbucks, including trading in old video games and cell phones to their go green program.

So, that is my plug for the month. Go check it out!

Search & Win

Thursday, October 8, 2009

I love my church.

I do. I love it.

I love that the most people there treat you like they have known you their whole lives.

I love that the sermons are REAL. I love that they are Scripture driven, not catchy-title supported. I love that I learn something about God and about His church every week. (hint: it isn't always an "atta boy!")

I love that there is accountability there. You come and call yourself a Christ Follower. We will expect you to behave like one, according to God's Word.

I love that with most of my friends, I can say "You offended me brother." and they can say it to me, because there is true love there. Then, we can mend broken fellowship and (catch this!) GROW CLOSER TO THE LORD together. (for the record: I don't say it all that often, but I feel like I could if I needed to.)

I love that people serve other people-not just brothers and sisters that are active in our church, but the people there reach out, way out into the community and world. They serve in love as Christ did.

I love that our church PURPOSES to raise Godly men. I am not talking about the little tykes, although they look out for them also. I am referring to the prayerful consideration and mentoring of men that are going out to plant churches. These men don't just get a high five and a pat on the back. They get time, learning alongside our elders and ministers. It is a beautiful practice and I know it makes the WORLD of difference in the lives of these men, their families, and to the churches they will serve.

I love my church. I do. I love it.

I get defensive when people talk so ugly about "the church", because in doing so they tear down all the good, all the love that MY church has built. I realize that some groups of people do a lot of harm in the name of religion, but nothing gets me angrier than when people use the term "the church" in a negative way, because they are assuming they can speak for ALL churches. They can't.

Do you love your church? Please don't tell me about your great music. We have that also and it is fantastic, but it doesn't a church define. Tell me about the people. Tell me about the faith that you see LIVED out. Tell me about the love that is there that loves at all times. Tell me about your church. Do you love your church?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cooper's Confession

Scroll down and check out Cooper's photo on the right.

Yep, he is the one showing horns. He can be a little devil, but he can also melt my heart at times. Like when, after months had past since his Great Gran's passing, he finally and completely out of the blue one evening confessed through sudden, painful tears that he didn't presently care that his Gran Gran was happy in Heaven and that he wanted her here on earth for his 5th birthday. His honesty was so hard to hear, but also so refreshing to know that he would trust me with what he was struggling with in his heart.

This morning, he hesitantly came to me with another confession that, once again, had me in tears, hugging him and reassuring him, while also secretly thanking the Lord for Cooper's heart and his honest.

Cooper: Mama, I have something to tell you, but I don't want anyone else to hear.

Me: Ok, Whisper it to me.

Cooper: *whispering* Last night before I fell asleep, I prayed that Daddy would find a job.

Me: (already feeling the ears welling up) You did? Well that is very sweet honey. You don't need to be embarrassed about that.

Cooper: *still whispering, but now starting to cry* but, even though I prayed for it, I really don't want him to find a job. I don't want him to be gone.

Me: (never one to make anyone cry alone...) Oh, Baby. I know. well. I know. It has been nice having so much time with Daddy. Oh...

I went on to tell Cooper that is was perfectly natural for him to want Daddy to always be here at home with us and that it was good that he asked the Lord to give Daddy what Daddy is seeking, even though it wasn't what Cooper himself wanted. It was a nice conversation with Cooper about thinking of others first and caring more about that than of what our own desires are.

Many times yesterday, I thought about God's message to me through Cooper's confession. This time of having Nathan home has been wonderful. It has provided a lot of time for us as a couple and for Nathan to spend some extra time with the children. As strange as it may sound to the world, it has been a blessing to our family. Lately, I am easily tempting to worry about our future. Cooper's words to me were a fresh and specific reminder from the Lord that He is working this time for His good and that all of it is inside His plan for us.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Refresher Course On Flexibility

Ohhhhh, today did not go as planned.

Sing it with me, "Mama said they'll be days like this. They'll be daaaays like this, my Mama said (Mama said-Mama said)!"

Nathan was working for a friend at the fair grounds today. We knew he would be gone for most of the day- from before the kids got up until after 5pm. SO, about a week ago I planned a day of Mama-only fun for today.

Then today actually happened.

The kids slept in a little later than normal, which was fine. I got up a little slower than normal, so it all evened out. The first plan was fresh made banana bread. However, any banana bread recipe worth it's pure vanilla extract takes 40 minutes to an hour just to bake. I needed to feed the kids before an hour from when we all got up. (This is where a former version of myself would have become unglued with the day and decided to say in my jammies until Nathan came home.)Instead, I tossed them all a granola bar to tie them over and set about to make the bread only to find that we were out of eggs. This is a major pet peeve of mine. Ignoring my flesh instinct to call Nathan and give him a snide remark about using the last eggs and not putting it on the grocery list, I took a deep breath and decided that banana bread wasn't meant to be breakfast here today and we moved on to looking for a plan B. I was pleased beyond anything I could tell you to look in the freezer and see a couple of freezer bags full of Nathan's famous homemade waffles that he made from scratch last night. So THAT'S where the eggs went!

Problem solved. Now for the REST of our day. I needed to get to the bank and decided to give the kids a trial with me at the grocery store. They knew that if they became disruptive, we would leave the cart and go home- with no banana bread in our future.

In I went, with my whole crew. (It always makes me giggle to see people's faces as I walk into places with all of my children. They don't knw what to make of me!) the children did fine and we headed home.

Oh yeah. I am potty training Annagail currently. She is doing great, but still in the stage where she really needs to be close to the potty, so I looked at my list and immediately scratched off the park and Target for jelly bellies. "Closing Out My Garden" was next on the list. SURE! We can do that. Let's have at it!

I threw some loose shorts on Annagail to cover her cute, little fanny from the neighbors and we headed outside. The kids were more than thrilled to carry my pots, now full of nothing more than end of the season soil and shriveled stems, and dump them into the woods. One measly pot was carried up to the woods and dumped before Annagail had to go potty. Before I could get to her, it was too late. Accidents are expected this early in potty training (day 4). I just knew right then that she wasn't at the point where anything touching her fanny was going to help her. So, what to do now? Four kids were outside, eager and excited to do a little playing in the dirt and cleaning and one who couldn't wear pants. Hmmmm. My choices: freak out completely and declare today a complete misfire, thus accomplishing nothing but a mountain of Mama guilt at day's end OR roll with and think of a , now, plan C.

I had the kids pull all of the bikes and scooters off of the porch and I blocked the exit. Now, Annagail could come out onto the porch without Oh-fending any passers by :o) The kids helped me finish cleaning out my pots from my container garden and stacking them in the closet. They played on their toys while I took advantage of the clear porch and gave it a good sweep and wash down to clean off the soil spots where the dirt had been.

The rest of the day has been filled with some book reading, LOTS of false alarm trips to the potty (Lots and Lots and LOTS!), and a few discipline issues. It hasn't been the day I thought or wanted it to be, but it has been what it was mean to be I am sure.

Learning to be flexible and teaching my children to be flexible with life has been one of the greatest by-products of having this great, big family of ours. It doesn't always go according to plan, but as long as we don't get rigid and refuse to adapt, we don't get too stressed about it. The kids are the same way. I appreciate that characteristic in them. I think having that flexibility makes it far easier for us to lean on the Lord. We submit to His will easier, because we know that He is in control and our plans are only OUR plans. They are feeble compared to the purpose that God has for us.

So I picked up eggs at the grocery store with the kids. I still haven't gotten to that banana bread yet, but I will later tonight...maybe.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Fall Makeover

On the kids' first day of school back in July, Casey called, was in town from Texas, and wanted to come over and photograph our family. It was a busy day and my house was a wreck, but I SO wanted to see Casey. She is very talented and the images that are now making this blog look so lovely are just a sampling of the beautiful images she captured. I am telling you, I saw bridesmaid gowns on my two oldest in some of these images. They have grown up so fast and the rest is going to go like lightening, isn't it?

Thank you so very much Casey!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Crazy Love

I am a part of an online book club and we are reading "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan.


I love the book AND the club. It is a big club (we are talkin' women that cross the globe, seriously), yet it still seems intimate somehow.

The book.

At first glance and after the first few minutes of listening to Chan's delivery style (he has videos that correlate with the chapters online), you might just toss him into the category of the droves of "pastors" out there these days that spend more time pressing their Ed Hardy t-shirts and picking out just the right belt to match than they do their message, but you would be wrong. You know who I am talking about-the ones that seem "too cool fro school" and try so hard to be trendy that they often don't get taken seriously when they claim to be pastors at the coffee shop and take pride in that, because it somehow fortifies the status of "rebel" that makes them feel better about the softballs they are throwing their audience in the way of spiritual truth. If you lump Chan into that category, it seems you would be dead wrong. He seems pretty "hip" and "with it", but He is also speaking truth without prejudice.

It is obvious that he desires change in the church (by that I mean the WHOLE of the church). However, Chan doesn't spend time dismantling the body of Christ with divisive, unproductive slurs that only seek to deflect true seekers and are counterproductive to the sharing of the gospel. Instead, He makes quick work of taking to task the attitudes and , what He calls "the amnesia" of the church.

I walked away from reading the intro and chapter one feeling renewed in my awe for my Heavenly Father-- reminded of how His greatness should overwhelm me on a daily basis and that even as big and as great as He is,

He.made. me.

He delivered His Son into the hands of death.

for. me.

Did you hear that? For ME.

I am going now to read some of the discussions from the book club and then to get a start on chapter two. Join me?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Eleven Years

In 5 minutes, Nathan and I will have been married for eleven years.

I think back to those two kids that sobbed their way through their vows and I hardly recognize them. We recently hung our large wedding portrait in the entrance way to our apartment. I can see it when I am in the kitchen and at the dining table. It is a wonderful thing to think back on that day often. We didn't have a clue what was ahead of us. We thought we were ready. In some ways, we were ready for ANYTHING that could come our way, because we loved each other so very much. In other ways, we were SO NOT READY. The really great news is that our life was in His hands, even when we didn't acknowledge it. His plan was perfect for us even when we had no idea of how much He would change us.

Have I shared with you that Nathan planned and kept our Honeymoon a complete secret from me until our wedding reception? How romantic is that?!?!?!?!? After our ceremony and after our first dance, the DJ announced that we would be leaving (in like 15 hours!!!) for an eight day cruise of the Western Caribbean. It was a magical moment for me. In hindsight, these eleven years have been full of surprises like that. There have been lots of surprise pink lines. There have been course changes that have led to new journeys. There have also been some not-so-fun surprises. However, the love that brought us to that wisteria covered gazebo, on that hot September evening in Georgia all those years ago, has grown through ALL of them.

I love you Nathan. I would choose you all over again. I would put on that dress and that Smashing Pumpkins song and walk right down that aisle again tomorrow-without hesitation.

Here's to another 80 years of loving, living,a nd serving side-by-side.

I. love. you. baby.


Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New BFFs

Yesterday, my best friend and I shared her new (one month old) baby with my babies. It was a beeee-autiful moment for them and for me. With each one, little Caroline would settle right in and snuggle to sleep. It was precious. I kept thinking of how much time we spent, as a family, praying for her while Erin was pregnant. For them, this little baby girl is flesh and blood evidence that God is real. These two hands will be friends for life. I just know it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

6 and 1/4 inches

Every year around my birthday, we celebrate by marking up our living room bookcase! Before you start imagining some chaotic painting fest, let me show you:

We started this tradition in 2005, our first year here in NC. Every year since, we line the kids up and mark their growth on this bookcase. The bookcase itself was a hand-me down bookcase that we received from Nathan's sweet Aunt many years ago. It was stained dark and had about 30 coats of high gloss on it. Nathan and I spent several nights (maybe WEEKS!) sanding it down, priming it, and painting it. Even still, it wasn't one of the items I would consider a "must-have" when we trimmed down our belongings to fit into a townhouse half the size of the home we left in the dust. NOW, however, it is one of my MOST prized possessions. I have often said, quite seriously, that should the Lord lead us to a space that does not have the dimensions, we would hae to dismantle the bookcase to remve the side panel before we disposed of it!

Tonight was the night. After dinner and baths, we lined them up and marked the bookcase. Graycen and MaryEvelyn had each grown over 2 inches. Cooper had grown over 2 inches also! Ella had grown a whopping 3 inches, but Annagail won the growth prize for the year! See the purple line at the top of this photo? Now look waaaaaaaaaaaaay down towards the bottom at the pink line.

That would be where Annagail's mark from last year!!! She grew 6 1/4 inches in the past year. It is amazing how much they have grown and how QUICKLY another year has gone by.

In the last 6 1/4 inches, Annagail has learned to run, learned to jump, learned to TALK up a blue streak. She has danced and can even climb into her crib all by herself (luckily for us, she has not yet climbed OUT!) Her hair has grown inot gorgeous bouncy (and brunette!) curls. She has taken to calling her Daddy "Crazy Tuna", which I think is just hysterical and cute. She has learned to say, "I'm sorry" and she has learned to say, "I forgive you". She has learned to say, "NO!" and she has gotten her first (but certainly not her last) spanking. She has learned to thank the Lord for her family and for her food and she has also learned how to ask Him to forgive her also.

Yes, these 6 1/4 inches have come with a lot of life lived for our littlest blessing. She has grown into a bubbly, giggly little girl. Annagail is cuddly and plump and I love feeling her little squishy arm wra around my neck early in the morning after she has called for her Daddy to get her out of bed and put her into ours.

More than any of these things she has grown into, she is my perfect, daily reminder that God's plan is always better than ours.

Monday, August 17, 2009

A Contest and a Great Blog to Check out!

I stumbled upon this blog a while ago. Matt's topics and writing style are always interesting and get you thinking. Check out this contest he is offering, but also check out his series on "10 people Who Will Kill You Church" . It is a 3 part series that I would love to see in a book. You will read it and think two things. You will first think, "Oh, that is _________ ." Then, you will think, "Is that ME?!?!?!?!?!" or at least you SHOULD think that at least once when reading it. If you don't, you probably ARE one of those people. LOL!

For the cut-n-pasters out there:


Thursday, August 13, 2009

feelin' low & transparent

I'm feeling low tonight. Tomorrow is school pictures for the kids. We just can't squeeze the cost out of our budget right now. As much as I know that it is not a big deal in the whole scheme of things, as much as I praise the Lord for the food that graces our table each and every morning, this little thing has me feeling so awful. Ugh. awful.

The kids don't care what brands they wear. They don't have a single "keepin' up" bone in their body yet. I am a photographer, for goodness sake! So why is it that I am so gut-wrenched about not being able to buy these few, not even wonderful quality, cookie cutter "style" pictures?

Part of it is that it is Cooper and MaryEvelyn's first year, but most of it is that I have this sense that we should be able to do this for them. I realize that it isn't food, shelter, or clothing. It isn't a basic need. It is clearly in the "want" category. My head can see that. My heart, however, aches to see them standing in carpool line in a few weeks with their little plasticky, windowed envelope picture packet- so proud to show me how sweet they looked on picture day.

Sometimes it is the littlest of things...

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Nothing to say.

So, I am in this wierd haze lately that has me not able to completely concentrate on any one thing for a long period of time and I find myself singing Edie Brickel songs all day. What is THAT about?!?!?!?!

AWANA is about to start, which means that it has started full swing for us in prep work. It has been H.O.T. and with no a/c in our Suburban, I have probably lost 20 pounds in sweat alone. I have had a few photo sessions and have been having fun learning even more about my camera when I am not in session. Nathan is continuing to look for work. His school is set to start in the next two weeks. I think I am just in a busy mama haze, but...Edie Brickel?

Saturday, August 8, 2009

cRaZy CoOpEr.

Cooper is one crazy kid. He is also very sweet and THRIVES on positive reinforcement. I am thankful to report that he has gone over a week in school with no disciplinary action needed. YAY!!!!!!

Nathan just came in and shared this story with me and I had to post it for memory sake. Maybe I will quote it at his graduate school graduation one day. ***Warning: Bodily Function mentioned. If you are too prim & proper for such talk, well, you may want to check back another day..or...not :o)

Nathan: (upon entering Cooper's room and seeing his lincoln log creations) "WOW Cooper. You are getting really good at building those houses!"

Cooper: "Thanks Daddy!"

Nathan: "You are so good at it that maybe you will be a famous architect one day."

Cooper: "Whats an architect?"

Nathan: "You know, someone who designs houses or skyscrapers?"

Cooper: "Whats a skyscraper?"

Nathan: "A big tall building that goes way up into the sky!"

Cooper: (looking up at Nathan smiling) "I just tooted."

LOL! He is only 6 remember. I guess there is plenty of time for him to daydream about what he will do one day. For now, maybe we will have a few lessons on manners.

Dilema Decided.

I convinced myself with my last post. I am done with facebook. Before Nathan changed my password to something I didn't know, I made sure that my email was correct and even posted my cellphone. Anyone who really needs or wants to get in touch with me can.

Thanks for your comments. A friend made a point that I thought was worth sharing.

" has not encouraged me to think graciously about people...about people in my own church. If I "think" I know what they are thinking b/c of what I see on their facebook page...then in real life when something comes up I automatically jump to conclusions and think the worst." ~Abby

This is very true. I am not sure it is completely healthy for any relationship to have that much access. Boundary lines begin to blur and unhealthy habits can breed like flesh-eating bacteria.

So, I am not a fan of facebook anymore. I realize that I could try and work it into my life in a healthy way, but I just don't want to manage this sin. I want it gone-eradicated.

I can tell you that not accessing it over the last few days has been really wonderful. If you are an avid facebooker, you should at least try a short break for a few days. It is amazing the things we find ourselves slaves to that we don't even realize.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Facebook Dilema

I find myself in a facebook dilema.

I have been on facebook for....oh....two years now. Since then, I have reconnected with hundreds (I am not kidding,hundreds!!) of people from my past, present, and future. It has been wonderful to see photos of people "all grow'd up" and catch up on the last twenty years (or more!) from some old friends. Facebook has been a catalyst for healing of some old hurts and a safe connecting place for some otherwise difficult relationships. It is sometimes far easier to keep up with a difficult relationship through short status updates and photo-documentaries.

So where is "the rub" you might ask?

It is two-fold.

First and foremost, it is addicting. People say that, probably a million times a day in cyber world and it is very, very, VERY true. I think it is absolutely, to some of us, what soap operas were to our Mothers and Grandmothers. It is escape. I love my family. I love my job as a home manager. I would be a big, fat LIAR if I told you that it wasn't a thrill to be able to sit here in my favorite chair and explore all of the ins and outs of other people's lives on facebook. I have enjoyed all of the mindless quizzes and "memes" to read. I have even had a cyber english bulldog named flash, who is surely dead by now! LOL! It is an escape-a ticket to journey through exciting events and other people's exciting lives. Plain and simple, it takes away from my first ministry-the one to my husband and my children. Even more sadly, it takes away from my relationship with the Lord.

1. an image or other material object representing a deity to
which religious worship is addressed.
a. an image of a deity other than God.
b. the deity itself.
2. any person or thing regarded with blind
admiration, adoration, or devotion
3. a mere image or semblance of something, visible but without substance, as
a phantom.
4. a figment of the mind; fantasy.
5. a false conception or notion; fallacy.

Almost all of these definitions apply to facebook for me. The bottom line:

My prayer life isn't what it should be, but my facebook status is always accurate.

So you might say, "get a grip and some self-control while you are at it!", right?


That brings me to the second issue I am having with facebook. It can be what I am calling False fellowship. When a woman has early labor pains it is often called "false labor" which equates to a lot of action that amounts to no real progress.

Facebook creates an artificial sense of "friendship" with people where there is no real relating to one another going on. There are at least a few people on my friends list that would comment away about status updates or posts I make on fb, but would never dare to come up and hug my neck after service on Sunday about the same thing. I know that I do the same thing!!! I think facebook creates a false sense of fellowship that, in reality, is building walls even higher in real life. We can seemingly communicate without judgement on facebook. The kind words, the sarcasm and even the unsolicited advice flow freely from the tips of fingers onto the keyboard, but are kept in tight at the lips when the chance to really fellowship with someone presents itself. Remember those difficult relationships I spoke of earlier? I wonder if it is indeed a blessing to have this "safe zone" to relate to each other or if it is actually just a place that we can be comfortable at, while avoiding the healing of those heart issues that make those relationships hard to begin with.

On the contrary, I have made friends through through groups on facebook that I think I could really get along with in real life. It can go both ways I guess.

I don't know what I will do. For now, I am taking a facebook break. I am leaning towards deleting my account, but I love getting to see some great old friends on there and hear about their lives. I have been encouraged greatly by more than one long phone conversation with friends from over the years that I have caught up with on facebook. I just wonder if the benefit is worth the risk.

So what do you think? Do you facebook? Do you find yourself sitting at the keyboard when you should be relating to someone face-to-face? I would love to hear your facebook thoughts :o)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Hello old friends!

That is how it feels getting back onto my blog. I don't have any time lately. I thought that getting two more kiddos in school would give me more time to get things done during the day so that I would have time at night for things like my blog. It isn't true though. I am grateful that isn't the only reason we decided to put them into school! I would be sorely disappointed right about now. Haha! I am sure these first two weeks of school won't be the norm, but they have been CRAZY. I am hoping that they settle down very, VERY soon :o) Nathan is concentrating his job search to areas that would allow us to continue living within drivable distance to the kids' school, so it looks like we will be staying put for at least another year (YEAH!!!!).

Nathan IS still job hunting. We are still faithfully seeking God's Will. While we pray, seek, pray, seek and pray some more, we have put some time and energy into restarting our photography business. That has been so much fun to work on as a team. (I am so very grateful to have so many things in common with my beloved!) We have created as site to promote our business and offer online proofing for our customers. . Our business is called Kariseen Images. Kariseen is a word we came up with because we have always said that portraits should capture the light the shines through each of us. (Our business in GA was called Heartlight Images). The word Karis means "grace" in Greek. Kariseen means simply, "grace seen". We like the reference to the oil kerosene also-the fuel, the fire that comes from it. We have so enjoyed being back on this side of the lens and working with clients again. I have several sessions already booked for August and am really praying that the Lord will grow or limit our business completely according to His perfect Will.

Aside to that, I have renewed my status as a Creative Memories Consultant. You can probably guess that I am not a high-pressure saleswoman, nor do I aspire to be. However I do enjoy scrapbooking and love the new choices that CM offers. There are a few albums that we plan to use as our package albums. If you are a scrapbooker (traditional or digital) and are looking for a contact in CM, please check out my site. One of the things I like best about the new format is that you can order from my site and have it shopped directly to your door. :o)

So that is what is new in the world of this busy mama! I am off to wash school uniforms and plan lunches for the next week. Have a great weekend!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Emptied Of Self, to be filled with Christ

I am working on a post about the kids' first day of school today and the surprising POWER it had over my entire day (!!!), but I don't have the photos uploaded, so I wanted to share with you something that has been on my chest lately.

Nathan and I FINALLY watched a movie a few weeks ago that my Mom gave us for Christmas. It is the movie that Ruth Bell Graham's children made about her after she passed away. It is a moving tribute to a woman who was devoted to her God, her husband and her family, in that order.

It really got my mind going and I have been thinking about it, in any available quiet moment, ever since. All of her children, all of her friends had SUCH great things to say about her. She was noble, educated woman. She was a wonderful wife who, honestly, took care of her entire family as a (physically) single mom most of the time because her husband, Billy Graham, was evangelizing all over the world. She supported her husband and his calling 100% and without waivering. It was a great testimony to her life, this movie.

So, I started thinking about what my kids would say about me. How would my friends speak about me if I passed from this earth to my home?

Although I am sure that nice things would be said, if any one's first thought of my character is anything BUT "She lived her LIFE as a Christ follower that loved her Lord with all of her heart.", I will have failed. I want to be remembered as a good wife. I want my kids, my girls, to see that in me. I want to be remembered as a good Mother. More than ANY of these things though, I want people to know that I am a child of God and that my life, my heart, my every breath is devoted to Him. For it is in THAT kind of character that all the other traits are hidden.

I want my first and last thoughts to be of Jesus each day. I want my first and last words to my children to be about Jesus. I want people to see me driving down the road or walking through the grocery store and to KNOW that I love my Lord and am His faithful servant. I want to be FILLED with Christ.

I want to be emptied of me and completed in Him alone.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Turn your volume up Tuesday.

OK, so I just made that up, but turn your music up and listen to/watch this. I LOVE it! It gives me goosebumps everytime I watch it.

The time has come to stop evaluating why you sin. We sin because we are flesh.

Make WAR!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Learning to Minister God's Way

Some of you have read about April on Casey's blog. She has been in Casey's life for over a year as Casey has been ministering to her, first on the streets where she found her pregnant and surviving anyway she could, and then through her delivery and subsequent rehab treatment/recovery. For the past month, I have been blessed to get to know April. For a little while, she was living relatively close by in a half-way house and I could pick her up and help her run errands with her son several days a week. I was keeping Tash on days that she worked and LOVED that she trusted me with her son. I enjoyed talking with her. She is very open and honest about her past. She often asked me questions about the Bible and about my faith in general. I was happy that I could meet those needs for her and that she felt like she had a friend in me.

A week ago she decided to leave the half-way house. Whether I agree with why she left or whether I would have made the same choice is irrelevant. I haven't come from where she has come from. My reality is different than her's. She made the decision to leave and, to her, that was what she had to do. So now, I am unable to help her as much physically. She is too far away for me to run and get her and drive her around. It is strange, but when she called to tell me that she was headed to a shelter with her son that first night, I was tempted to grab my keys and bring her to our apartment. It was the night of Graycen's tonsillectomy, so there was no way that I could bring her into our home and she wouldn't have had it anyway. Her mind was made up.

Since then, I have only been able to talk with her on the phone every other day. She seems to be doing okay. She celebrated 6 months of sobriety at a meeting. She is eating and she has gotten a bed in a shelter each night. There is long-term housing on the horizon if she can stay with this situation for a few more days, but tonight she sounded very tired. Every time I talk to her lately, I have to fight the urge to go and get her. I have to remind myself that my job is to pray for her and support her anyway I can 100% within the limits God has given me. We don't have endless funds available for gas to run downtown and back each day. I don't have a home where she and her son could sleep and feel safe and comfortable. For now, I can pray. I can pray that she gets food and shelter, but the best thing I can do is to pray that the Lord will call her and that when he does, she will hear Him and she will run to Him. She talks about "having faith" and about "knowing that God has a plan for her", but I am not sure those aren't just familiar phrases she has picked up over time. I am praying that she will come to KNOW exactly what those phrases really mean and that she will be able to stake her life on them

Will you pray with me?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

School Starts in ONE WEEK!

I am making my school shopping list. Instead of carrying around three different lists, I decided to combine them into one. I am not sure that I should done that. It is intimidating. I might should have started gathering these a month ago. Wish me luck!

Combined School Supply List:

Wide-Ruled spiral notebook (times 3)
3 Pencil pouch (cloth, zippered, med sized)
24 pack crayons (times 2)
Pencils (no mechanical pencils) (times 3)
3 Box of any size Zip-loc bags
6 pencil sharpeners
3 Primary Composition book
2 Red, 2 Yellow and 2 Green folder (fro C& M)
3 folders-any color (for G)
60 Red pens
40 Blue pens
4 Scissors
Play Dough (1)
12 Glue sticks (plus some to share with class)
Eraser (hand held)
3 pack washable markers (for G & M)
Colored pencils
6 plastic pocket folders
One 12 in. ruler with cm on the other side
*6 quarters
*10 dimes
*8 nickels
*30 pennies-Send in zip lock bag with child’s name.( for C & M)
Erasers (pencil top and regular) (for G & M)
Raincoat or poncho (left in book bag) (times 3)
2 Spiral bound notebook (single subject) (for G & M)
$5.00 for pocket portfolio (
Tissues (1 box)
Box of baby wipes

(To share with M's class)
Wide ruled paper
1 box of crayons
1pack of pencil top erasers
1pack of #2 pencils
1 box of Clorox wipes
1 pair of child scissors
Extra pencils
Large erasers
Disinfectant wipes**
Plastic utensils

(Items to be shared with G's Class)
Extra #2 pencils
Box of plastic spoons, forks
Tissues (2 boxes)
2 packs wide-rule notebook paper
Optional Donations:
Paper towels, napkins, plates,
cups, paper plates and bowls
Dry erase markers
Fat Cash store rewards:
stickers, fancy pencils &
erasers, bracelets, party favors,
small candy treats
Ream of white copy paper
Disinfectant wipes**
Board games in good shape

This list, on top of filling in gaps in uniform stock, will have me busy for the rest of the week!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Check This Out.

We have had an exciting day. Graycen gt her tonsils and adenoids out today. Big fun. She did great and continues to do really well. I, on the other hand, am exhausted. Too exhausted to write a thang! Thank you to those of you that knew about Graycen's surgery and prayed for her. It really went FAB-U-LOUSLY. We're talkin' surgery starting 30 minutes ahead of schedule, Graycen up and able to eat dinner tonight kind-a fabulous. The Lord had His hand on o ur day today FO-REAL.

I found this over at Emily's place. It is inspiring. It is far greater than anything I could have written today.



Friday, July 3, 2009

Look what I grew!!!

Can you believe it?!?!?! I had one cucumber ripen up a couple of days ago also, but the girls and I washed it and gobbled it up immediately. This is my first harvest of a few different things.

I love, love, LOVE my little patio garden.

The back story:
I once had a very nice house with a nice-sized backyard. Nathan and I searched and searched for THAT house for THAT reason. We wanted a big back yard for kids to play in and for me to have a garden. I had always wanted a garden. Starting 20 days after we moved in, we brought a new baby home every year that we lived in that house. That left little to no time for a garden.

When we moved fro GA to NC for Nathan to fulfill God's calling on him, I mourned having to prolong that dream...AGAIN. I pushed it forward and began to think about it in the far-off future...again. It was added to a growing list of things we would do "one day" when there was more space, more time.

This year,we decided to just plant a few things and see what happened. I started reading about container gardening in January and we were ready to plant at the beginning of April. I was excited that Nathan wanted to go ahead and try it out this year. We decided to plant a few things, with little-to-know expense, and just see what happened. We planted basil, stevia (a natural sweetener), mint, jalapenos, zucchini, yellow squash, sweet 100 tomatoes,cucumbers (free from someone who left the 1 inch seedlings at the church!), and rosemary.

I cannot tell you the JOY that I have had with my little garden. I love walking out there and checking the soil. I love filling my pitchers and watering the plants. Our entire household was buzzing was when we started to see buds of veggies coming onto the stems. I have learned a lot about patience that I didn't expect to learn. So today, it was quite the thrill to be able to pick a few veggies and know that WE helped these things grow with our own hands.

In our life, where we have committed to answer God's call on us regardless of sacrifice, we have many things that get put into the "maybe one day" category. It isn't because God desires for us to not have our dreams fulfilled, but more because God is teaching us to want what HE wants and to desire what HE desires. I believe that often, He wants us to discover that our dreams are indeed fulfilled in exactly what He has already given and planned for us. Thats what has happened with my little garden. I have learned that sometimes you just have to adjust your way of thinking about your desires and stop waiting for some BIG delivery. What you may see as a compromise on your dream, is really just God preparing your heart for Him to deliver BIG joy in a smaller package.

These pretty flowers attract the bees that are my hardest workers in the garden.

This is what we had with our dinner tonight. It was delicious. I am blessed with big veggie eaters. We are going enjoy eating our harvest this summer!

Wise Words To Live By

I have heard it said that imitation is the best form of flattery. However, it can also be evidence of psychological damage. Learning to know the difference is key. ~The Busy Mama

Sunday, June 28, 2009

God Of This City

This afternoon, I sat here on the couch playing FARKLE (it is addictive!!) and heard my kids singing "God Of This City". There is something very hopeful about hearing those sweet voices singing the words, "Greater things are yet to come and greater things are still to be done in this City!" and "There is no one like our God!" . Their world will, inevitably be harder than ours was. However, they have the same sovereign Lord on their side.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Saved at 9. Left alone, in my sinful flesh, to sort it all out by 12. Sought that same, special love in all the wrong places by 19. With a heart more than just broken, was set in the path of a kind, compassionate soul at 20 and began to remember what unconditional love looked and felt like. At 23, saw my Abba Father running down the road to meet me as I finally came home.

All the while, He was there. He was waiting for me to step out of the pig pen and step one foot on the road to home, so that He could meet me MORE than halfway and show me love and comfort that I never knew was possible.

At 34,"Grateful" does not do my heart justice.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New look, New Photos!

I try to take portraits of the kids every 6 months or so. The ones that were on my sidebar before today were taken back in December, so I have been itching to update them. The kids are still changing so much that 6 months seems like an eternity when you compare the photos.

We spent a few days at Nathan's Grandmother's house this week. It was a nice time to unwind. There is no central air, so it was HOT, but it was a nice visit anyway. The kids LOVE it there and always have. This was our first trip there since Gran's funeral, over a year ago. We have tried to get back a few times, but something always got in the way. At first, it was hard being there- hard for Nathan and I, but also for the kids. Graycen was especially sad. I cannot tell you how grateful I am that our children have cherished memories from that place with their Gran-Gran. It is funny the things they rembembered and wanted to do, because they had always done them WITH Gran. Cooper wanted to walk out and "check the well". The "well" is nothing more than one of those fake-rock well covers that you can see all over NC, but Gran always took Cooper out to see the well, so he was ready to go out there as soon as we arrived.

Graycen got really sad after about 30 minutes there. She was looking through pictures and became a bit overwhelmed missing her Gran-Gran. Although a lot looks exactly the same there, so much is gone and different and it hit her harder than the rest. We held her and comforted her while I know her little heart was hurting. That has to be THE HARDEST part of being a parent. Even still, I am beyond joyful knowing that she holds those memories, even if they make her sad at times. I am grateful that we didn't procrastinate our time with Gran while she was here and that the kids really KNEW her before she went to Heaven.

Here are some of the photos I took while we were there. Enjoy!

Obviously, I love the porch on this house. This rocker is where Gran sat and watched the kids play. The house is old and tattered, but it has a certain charm that can't be duplicated. Our family has always loved our visits there and we hope to get in a few more before the property is sold or whatever ends up happening to it now that Gran is gone.

I will leave you with this picture of Annagail winking. She usually closes both eyes, but she practices and practices. Whether she actually got it here, or whether the shutter was just quicker I don't know. Either way, I love the picture of her!

Have a great weekend!!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Ugh! Can I please pass the WHINE already?!?!?!

Most days, I am super-pumped about our future. Most days, I can take the uncertainty and the waiting. Today, on the other hand, isn't one of those days.

I will spare you the whine, but I have been on the verge of tears all day. Truthfully, I still feel great about where we are and about knowing that the Lord is in control. I am just feeling overwhlemed tonight by the sheer contrast of the two futures we are now planning for. Basically, it comes down to untrust. Most days, I am trusting and for that I am encouraged. Today though, I am not succeeding as well. Church tonight helped, because I was busy. I got in the car, however, and the tears started to well up again on the way home

I am grateful for Nathan, who is my best earthly counsel. If he doesn't have the answers, he at least knows how to distract me or get me laughing. I played a couple of rounds of MArioKart with Cooper tonight during his special time after bedtime. That is always nice.

SO, tomorrow is a new day and I am planning to put this one and the doubt that came with it behind me very soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Finding Treasures

Nathan and I are doing some cleaning/organizing/PURGING that will help a possible move go much smoother. In doing this, we have uncovered many little things that have made us smile like artwork from the kids, journals we kept over certain years ad old letters. I found one letter that made me cry. It made me cry, because it was written during a very special time in our lives, but also because it spoke to my heart and to the situation we are in now, waiting, praying and seeking God's will. Here it is:

***warning to male readers:there may be TMI in this letter for you. Consider yourself warned.*****

(dated July 13, 2006)

My dear Nathan,

I'm writing this letter to you, because I wanted to put into words exactly what I am feeling.You see, as I write this, I believe there is a pretty good chance that I am pregnant with our fifth baby. I won't know for certain and won't be able to find out for few weeks. I wanted to write it down ow, before all of the emotions set in and in case things get confusing.
If I find out that we have again been blessed with another blessing, I will be happy. My cycle wasn't "normal" this month and ovulation was VERY early. There was no way to predict this and only one way to explain it. It was God. He moved in our lives, so that His magnificence would be shown. Whether I am pregnant or not...

(I must have gotten called away, because the letter picks up here with a different date of July 18)

See?!?! Just like that it is now the 18th! That is how our life is right now! We may have the best of intent, but a lot of times life intercedes!! So, where was I???
OH! Whether I am pregnant or not, God will be glorified this month! This past month has been a hard transition for me. I am so happy about your new job and all of the benefits that come with it. The smile and confidence that I see returning to your face makes all of the hard work worth it.
More than ever before, I have found myself questioning how IN THE WORLD we could handle another baby?!?!?!?!? I mean, I am SO TIRED at the end of the day now that I could FALL OVER!!! I don't know how I could emotionally or mentally handle another baby. I even worry as to whether or not I can physically carry another baby!
However, there are a few other things that i can't imagine. I can't imagine exactly how much my heart will grow with love for another baby if God blesses again. I can't imagine how many tears of joy we will shed in those first few days of holding another teeny, tiny, bundled life in our arms.
Aaaaaaaaah, I hear my life beginning to wake up from naps, so I am going to say goodbye now. I love you! ~An

The great, great thing about finding this note today is that I found it while the baby I was speaking of in the letter climbed all over us. She is two now and I can't imagine our life without her. I was indeed just DAYS pregnant when I wrote this letter. Sitting here today, reading that letter, I was able to draw close comparisons from THOSE emotions to ones that I am feeling NOW. We aren't pregnant, but we are waiting to find out what direction the Lord intends our family to go. It is blessed assurance to look back on the near 3 years since I wrote this letter to my dear Nathan and see how faithful and glorious the Lord has been to us. I can look forward to our temporarily uncertain future with confidence that, just like He did then, He has a plan for us. Even if it isn't what WE had planned, it will be PERFECT, because it will be HIS plan.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

My Boy

In 9 minutes, my boy turns 6.

I can't believe it. It has been 6 whole years since that little, 5 lbs and change nugget made his way into this world nearly 4 weeks early. Wow.

Cooper was purposed to be the only son in this house full of daughters. He will irritate them and aggravate when the opportunity arises, but he will also stand in front of them on the playground when a bully threatens to harm them.

Cooper digs in his heels on the silliest of issues and refuses to budge, unless one of those girls scream, "SPIDER!!!!!!" and then he is off like a flash with a shoe in hand to save the day.

Cooper is the pickiest eater you have ever met and will sooner die some days than to eat a meal that he decided is "yucky" even if he devoured it the day before, but you should see him at bedtime. His baby Sister, Annagail, LOVES her "Bubba" and spends a few moments each night laying next to him on his pillow. He is so sweet with her and lets her lay on his arm and then crawl all over him to give him kisses and hugs before we lift her out and put her into her own bed.

Cooper loves all of his family very much. He didn't get to have his big birthday party last year, because he was having some behavior issues (Pipe down. We celebrated his birth, just not with 10 of his closest friends.) He has been waiting ALL YEAR for a party. So what did he do when he found out that his Papa (Nathan's Dad) was going to be in Paraguay on the day we originally planned to have his party? He cried and begged us to reschedule it for TWO WEEKS later when his Papa could be there.

He notices when my day is going gloomy and he becomes attached to may lap, giving me kisses and hugs and, "I love you Mom" 's. I love hearing him say "and guess what?" 45times to tell a story that would take about a minute otherwise.

I love you Super-Cooper. It makes me smile every morning when you are the last out of bed and your hair is sticking straight up from how hard you were sleeping. I love it when you pretend to be mad, but can't stifle your giggle or that great smile you have. I am very proud of you and I hope that you have a WONDERFUL year as a big SIX year old!!!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

I didn't see this one coming.

Nathan did something today that I NEVER thought we would do on this journey. He turned down a ministry position. It makes sense, I guess, that people who are striving to fulfill God's plan for them would maybe, at some point, be offered a job that they felt wasn't right for them. I guess I had just never put myself there or thought about it much. The church sounded fine. The money was going to be fine. The 5 bedroom, all-brick, nearly 3000 sq ft house (!!!!!!) that was completely fenced in, completely renovated inside and was about $50,000 BELOW our price range sounded FABULOUS. What wasn't fabulous was the peace that was missing in our hearts regarding this position. We sought much counsel and prayed a lot and ultimately decided to turn down this position, because we felt the Lord wasn't leading us there.
Whew. Even typing that causes me to have some butterflies. It was a paycheck after all. However, we knew that it wasn't the paycheck that the Lord intended for us.

So now the praying and seeking continues. We know that the Lord knows our needs and He knows the deadlines on us. We aren't trusting Him to meet our deadlines. We are trusting Him to use our lives for His glory and that He will work out all of the details according to His Will.

Still living in His peace that passes all understanding through this and grateful for each and every prayer you lift up on our behalf.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

"even 3-4!"

Annagail (age 2) was scribbling on white paper with some crayons while I was doing some admin things for AWANA a few minutes ago. She said, "Look Mama!", showing me her scribbles with that precious toddler pride.

"Oh my Annagail!" I said, as I held up her multi-colored swirls and scribbles, "That is Beeeeeautiful! Did you do that all by yourself?"

Her shoulders went up to her ears and her chest puffed out a little and she said, "uh-huh".

"Oh it is just so pretty! You are SUCH a great colorer (yes, that is what I said. Mommies get to make up words). Who made you to be such a wonderful colorer?" I asked.

"Ummmmmm. God." she answered.

Hugging her now I replied,"Yes He did baby. Do you know how MUCH God loves you?!?!?!?!"

She pulled away from me and whipped around to look me right in the eye. Her eyes got perfectly round and tipped over her nose as if she knew I would be SHOCKED at the number she was about to tell me. She held up five chubby little fingers and said, "Even 3,4 Mama!"

"3,4?!?!?!??!?!?!??!?!" I said and she shook her head yes and said, "uh-huh. I know" and went about starting anew masterpiece.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Last week's graduation festivities were a wonderful time for our family. This was taken at the reception on Thursday night.

Friday morning was graduation. Mere words cannot express the amount of pride that I have for my husband. Some of you are probably getting sick of hearing me say it, but it is true.

Having a moment with Cooper after the ceremony.

I can't stop thinking about the many life lessons that my children have learned over the last four years about stamina, strength, priorities, and God's provision.

I did pretty well when Nathan walked across the stage to accept his diploma- until I looked over at his Mom and she was in tears. I imagine that she has an entirely different, although equally as significant, type of pride about this accomplishment. I pray that Nathan's lessons to our kids about toughing it out when the task seems daunting will help insure that
I will feel that same pride one day.

Often, the Lord sends the Holy Spirit to us to provide us with comfort and peace. Sometimes, he sends friendships with common thread and common hearts that comfort you in much the same way. I am blessed to have been given friends like that on this journey
(even with my eyes closed, LOL!)

We had a great graduation party on Saturday and a busy Sunday of service and worship. Sunday night Graycen became ill and ended up staying home Tuesday also. Tuesday also brought an unexpected invitation to Nathan to go visit a church that has been speaking with him regarding an open position on their staff. We quickly got him packed and ready to head out early this a.m. for a six hour drive. In doing so, it was hard not to think about all the unknowns and possible BIG changes in our future. I got good advice to push those thoughts aside until more concrete information was decided. This morning, we kissed Nathan goodbye and have been lifting prayers for his safety, his clear vision, and that the Lord would guide him ever since.

Imagine how my heart jumped out of my chest a little while ago when I answered the knock at the door to find these...

Isn't he dreamy? ;o)