Sunday, December 27, 2009

Never a dull moment...

What started as a quick trip to Starbuck's on Christmas Eve Day turned into quite a teachable moment with Taylor. I was standing in line with Taylor, waiting to order a cup of coffee, when Taylor saw a little girl a few people ahead of us in line with her mom. Taylor did what she usually does when she sees another kid; she walked up to talk to her.
Once Taylor was up there with the girl, I saw Taylor's expression change a little bit and then she looked at the girl and said " Hey, you look weird" and walked back over to me.

Okay, I about melted into the floor and was completely shocked when she said that. I was mortified,to say the least. I saw the little girl whisper into her mom's ear (because her mom had not heard Taylor)and told her what Taylor had said. Taylor went and sat down to wait for me and soon that mom went over to Taylor and talked to her. I was finishing up in line when the little girl's mom approached me with her girl beside her and said "Your daughter told my daughter she looked weird." I looked at the little girl and said "I am so sorry she said that. You are absolutely beautiful." Then they gathered their stuff and began walking out the door.

Let me just pause here and say this...I was just going out on Christmas Eve Day to get a cup of coffee and take Taylor out on an errand with me. I was not expecting this. I mean, can you ever be prepared for what could possibly come out of your child's mouth? It takes a lot to shock me but I can honestly say I was shocked when Taylor said that. If I could have taken back her words, oh, I would have. I know how much words can hurt and the last thing in the world I want is for my daughter to hurt someone else with her words!!

So, after this lady and her daughter walked out of Starbucks, I still did not feel good about our interaction and I felt that this mom was still upset so I walked out after her, with Taylor, and apologized again. I had Taylor apologize once more and then Taylor began talking to the little girl, telling her she liked her hair,etc. The mom then opened up and said "Kids can just be so mean. My daughter often gets teased at school." Her daughter did look different and her eyelashes on one eye were completely white and she had a white eyelid. My guess is Taylor had never seen anything like that and she just said what came to her mind.

I told the lady that I have a son with Down Syndrome, and so he will probably look different too and so that will be something we will address in our family the rest of our lives. The mom then told me that her little girl has vitiligo , which is what has caused the white spots on her face/eyelids,etc. Well, how about that? I have vitiligo too!!!! I immediately told the little girl that I had vitiligo too and showed the little girl my hands and the lack of pigment there. I gave her a high five and said "We are special,aren't we? This is how God made us!!" and I think the mom was as shocked as I was that this had happened!

We talked for a bit longer, mainly about vitiligo, and then I told the little girl once again that I thought she was beautiful before they left.

As you can imagine, I talked to Taylor all the way home about how God has made us all to look different from one another and I talked about what you can and can not say to people. I tried as best I could to drive this home and then we had further discussion once we got home and I was able to tell Phillip what had happened. We then prayed for the little girl from Starbucks and we also prayed about how we use our words.

Aaaaahhh, never a dull moment, right? And all I wanted was a cup of coffee (-:

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas season

I am a Christmas junkie. I love everything about this season. I love the lights, the sounds, the smells, the mostly joyful spirited people you encounter while running errands, the music, the parties, and I could go on and on.

And to think it all started in a smelly manger...all this awesomeness!!! I love that we celebrate Jesus' Birthday in so many ways. I love that all of this joy can be traced back to a helpless baby, who was born to die.

A few weeks ago, I said that I wish the Christmas season was two months long...that is how much I love it. I have found myself more reflective about all that "surrounds" the Christmas season this year, especially since Taylor is now four and seems to be becoming a Christmas junkie too, which makes her mama proud! (-: I have thought more about Santa Claus and how much to talk about him. I have thought more about giving to others. I have enjoyed the joy on Taylor's face as it seems like she is experiencing all this for the first time!

I want to recount some of the highlights I have already experienced over this past month...

1) Our tree seems to be the prettiest one we have ever had...lots and lots of lights!!!Seriously, can you have too many lights? I think not!

2) I love receiving Christmas cards and being able to catch up with everyone through seeing pictures and hearing about what has been going on in people's lives. I know Christmas letters seem to get a bad rap these days as some people say it seems like families are bragging...personally I enjoy them and don't share in that sentiment!

3) Taylor had two of her buddies from her preschool class over for a playdate and we made a gingerbread house- one of the girls said in her sweet preschool voice "This is the best playdate ever!!" Now that is priceless!

4) We went out as a family the other night and rode around and looked at Christmas lights in Cedarfield neighborhood. I was giddy with joy as we sat out in front of one of the houses that had lights on their home that were synchronized with Christmas music on a radio station! So cool! I am thankful for folks who still put the time and energy into decorating their homes so people like me can enjoy it!!

5) Went to a Birthday party for Jesus last week with some friends and their children...fun to hear the kids sing to Jesus and remember why it is we celebrate!

6) Our Hunter Family Christmas was a lot of fun- children running around and having a blast! Some of the kids only see each other once a year but that doesn't seem to matter. As we were leaving, Taylor said "Mom, that was a great party!!" I definitely have an extroverted daughter.

7) We had a wonderful dinner party at Corinne and John Kologe's house with the women's ministry team and their spouses. It was so nice to sit down and share a meal together and also get to hear from one another about some special Christmas memories we all have. I love that God has placed so many wonderful, God loving people in my life.

8) Going to see "Behold the Lamb of God" last week with lots of friends from our church was delightful(I hardly ever use that word but it seems appropriate)! It has become a Christmas tradition to go to that every year and it was especially fun to have so many other friends share that experience this year.

And those are just some of the highlights...

I am looking forward to a Christmas party tonight and then Christmas Eve is tomorrow night! Woo hoo!

What an awesome time of year!!! Thank you,Jesus,that it starts and ends with YOU!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Breathe, just breathe!

BREATHE, just breathe! If I have heard the Lord tell me this once over the past week, I have heard it a million times!! 'Tis the season, right? Life has been crazy busy and I have found myself falling into the trap of "leaving Christ out of Christmas"...not intentionally, mind you, but in the spirit of "trying to get everything done" while keeping up with life, kids, the house, laundry, lists, and more lists!

I woke up the other morning in a panic because the cards are not in the mailbox yet, some gifts have been bought, but not wrapped, and last time I checked, no elf was stopping by to do all these things for me!

So, that morning, I had to just laugh at myself and at the same time, I heard the Lord say "Breathe Cammie, breathe!!" I am amazed how quickly my focus can shift to things that are good, but surely not the most important!! Of course, I want my family and friends to feel loved this Christmas which is what is behind the bustle, BUT it should not be at the expense of slowing down and meditating on WHY we even celebrate Christmas!

So today, I am purposefully slowing down, and focusing on JESUS, and the labor of love that was shown to each one of us through His birth and His life! And to top off the day, I am going to see "Behold the Lamb of God" which has become a yearly tradition and always helps me to focus and reflect on all God has done for me.



Enjoy!!!




Monday, December 7, 2009

PJ Day for Taylor and Zach in all his cuteness



Taylor's preschool class had PJ day today...how fun would that be? To just wake up, get your stuffed animal, and head off to school! Taylor loved it!



And here she is showing off her PJ's...



And here is Zach, rockin' a cute Christmas sweater...

Sunday, December 6, 2009

My daughter-an encourager!!!

It was Friday afternoon and I was getting Taylor and Zach ready to go to 252, our once a month family service at church. I mentioned to Taylor that some of her friends would be playing handbells that night during the service. This was the first Taylor had heard about the handbells because we were not able to make the practices that she would have had to attend to participate, so I had never brought it up.

So, once Taylor heard some of her friends would be playing the handbells, she suddenly was questioning why she wasn't doing it, and then got pretty upset (translate- screaming and crying because she wanted to be up on stage!!). I felt badly at this point, but tried to redirect her by telling her that her friends would really need her support and she could be a great encourager to them while they were on stage.

Little did I know, this was just what Taylor needed to hear to turn her around! She then began focusing on her friends and began saying things like "Do you think Joshua will be nervous?" and "I hope they aren't scared!!" When we saw her friend, Joshua, who is three, she ran up to him and told him "Congratulations!" since he was going to be playing the handbells. It was so cute!! Once we got to church, Taylor wanted to be up front close to the stage so she could see her friends. When all the preschoolers came out on stage, Taylor stood up and basically began "directing" them and was playing her own bells without having any in her hand. After they finished playing, Taylor ran up to some of her friends, specifically Joshua and Joyner, and told them she thought they did a GREAT job playing the handbells.

Here is Taylor with Joyner...



Later, Taylor and I were out in the lobby and she ran over and hugged a little girl I had seen up on the stage but did not know, and she exclaimed "You did such a great job up there playing the handbells!" It was so sweet, and what I loved the most about all these interactions, is that I think encouragement is so necessary today and I loved seeing Taylor encouraging all her little friends. It was also great to see her turn around from her disappointment over not being able to participate herself, to being able to encourage and support her friends who were able to participate. Who couldn't use a little encouragement these days, right?? (Even if you are a preschooler playing the handbells!!)

It gave me great hope as I watched my little girl Friday night, that maybe someday God will ignite that as a spiritual gift in Taylor and she will become even more of an encourager to those around her. I caught a glimpse of who she could become...

You go, Taylor!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Songs rich in meaning

I bought a CD recently that has impacted me greatly. The CD is "Beauty Will Rise" by Steven Curtis Chapman. I downloaded it before I went to the Well of Mercy and listened to it while I was there, in its entirety. I rarely sit down and LISTEN to music much these days-and I mean, really listen, but I did with these songs. SCC wrote this CD after losing a child last year. His daughter, Maria, then 5 years old, was run over by a car in their own driveway. I can not even imagine the pain he and his family have been going through.

He was not sure he would ever write music again. I have been a fan of his music for many, many years, and I was so deeply moved by the lyrics he wrote for this CD. The lyrics are raw and authentic. I think it is one thing to talk about our faith in Jesus and our love for Him when things are going well; it is another thing completely to live that out when you are dealt a tragedy like losing a child.

One of the songs really meant a lot to me and it is titled "Jesus Will Meet You There."

Here are some of the lyrics:

When you think you’ve hit the bottom
And the bottom gives way
And you fall into a darkness
No words can explain
You don’t know how you’ll make it out alive
Jesus will meet you there

And when the doctor says “ I’m sorry, we don’t know what else to do”
And you’re looking at your family
Wondering how they’ll make it through
Whatever road this life takes you down
Jesus will meet you there

He knows the way to wherever you are
He knows the way to the depths of your heart
He knows the way cause He’s already been where you’re going
Jesus will meet you there


As I listened to that song, I thought about a dear friend who lost her son a year ago Thanksgiving weekend. I also thought about another friend who lost her son five years ago...and then I thought about so many who are struggling to find hope right now. The reality is, even in the midst of painful circumstances that we may find ourselves in in this life, Jesus can and will meet us there. I know He has met me when things seemed really dark, and He continues to meet me every day.

Because of the trials SCC has been through, it makes the lyrics he wrote that much more powerful to me.If you need to be reminded of God's nearness when things are tough,or just be reminded that He is faithful, I hope you will get a copy!

For more on this CD...

http://stevencurtischapman.com/music.htm

Monday, November 23, 2009

Well of Mercy



Yesterday, I returned from a weekend away at the Well of Mercy. It was an awesome weekend and I came home very refreshed. I have done a little reflecting on why the Well of Mercy and my time there has been so significant over the years. I realized that I have been going there for times of solitude with the Lord for eight years now, on a regular basis. I will never forget the very first time going away and wondering, "What am I going to do for 24 hours of solitude??" What a contrast to when I go now and 24 hours never seems to be enough!

I started going while still single and have continued going through many transitions in my life-getting married, working on staff at a church, having a child, having a second child,etc. It has been the single most important discipline in my spiritual growth over the years.

I was reminded this past weekend that the Lord will speak to us and He desires to speak to us when we take the time to listen...but we have to slow down and create the space to hear Him. I am grateful for a place like the Well of Mercy - a little slice of heaven only an hour away!

"Draw near to God and HE WILL DRAW NEAR TO YOU." James 4:8

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Life lessons on the playground

O.K., if you are a parent, you have probably already dealt with the playground issues, but this week has been my real introduction!

A little background... Phillip and I have been working with Taylor on some behavioral stuff and we have a chart we use now which is a picture of a gumball machine with gumballs in it. For every hour Taylor displays certain behavior (which we have lined out for her), she gets a gumball colored in. If she gets 8 in a day , she gets a privilege that night. Of course we are ultimately wanting heart change, but we are taking it step by step. Well, yesterday, I sat and watched Taylor on the playground after school. Sometimes she was playing really well with others , running around, playing chase, sliding down the slides,etc. Then I saw a kid ask her if they could get on the tire swing with her and she said "No, you can't play with me" or something along those lines. I smiled proudly and said "That's my girl!" (Just kidding!!) I walked over there and talked with Taylor about that and helped the little boy up on the swing with her.

After this playground incident, I decided last night at dinner that we would have a talk about kindness and used the playground as our base for giving lots of examples on how to be kind. We role played and wrote on a piece of paper (with Ephesians 4:32 on top) what it would mean to be kind to others. Then last night before bed we prayed that God would help us and teach us how to be kind.

Fast forward to today on the playground after school. We got an opportunity to put this to the test. I watched Taylor again today playing and was pleased with what I saw. I then gave her a five minute warning before leaving, and then a two minute warning. I turned and was talking to some other moms and about a minute later (you know, it only takes a minute for something to happen!!!), Taylor came running over to me, with leaves and dirt all over her and she was crying really hard. She said a little girl had pushed her down. Closely behind her was that girl, crying as well, and she kept saying "I said I was sorry." Well, Taylor was visibly really upset and so I turned to that little girl and I pushed her down! I thought "That will teach her!" Just kidding-I wanted to see if you were still reading and still with me!! Anyway, the little girl's mom came over and since neither one of us actually saw what happened anyway, we just had the girls apologize and then Taylor said she was ready to go home.

We got in the car and Taylor calmed down. I then asked her what really happened and she told me that girl had pushed her down. I asked Taylor what she did next and she said she pushed her a little bit back. Then Taylor said she did not want to be that girl's friend anymore. Great opportunity here...so I talked again about being kind and what it would like to be kind to this little girl. Then I talked about forgiveness and said we needed to pray for her friend and for Taylor, that they would both learn how to be kind and that they would forgive one another.

I really do believe so much of living out what Christ asks us to do happens in the everyday moments of our lives-in the grocery store, in traffic, in our relationships and on the playground.

I hope these moments change me and change my children. Taylor said before getting out of the car.. "Hey mom, maybe my friend needs to try the gumball thing too." (-:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Identity...

I had a good reminder this week that our identity is in Christ and not in the circumtances of our lives that sometimes seem to define us.

Here is how this happened...yesterday morning at Oasis (our women's Bible study at Lake Forest), there were a couple guests who came. They had been at church the previous Sunday and someone invited them to come to Oasis. When we broke off into our smaller groups, they came to the prayer group, which I am a part of. I had actually met these two women before a couple of months ago when our church hosted a women's homeless shelter for a week. These two women were staying at the shelter that week. Apparently, you can only stay at shelters (which are held in different locations)for 90 day,so when their time was up, they left the shelter and have been living out of a car for two months. They sleep in the car and park in different places each night. These women shared quite a bit during our time together. They both love God and want to serve Him and they want to minister to others who are out on the street. As I listened to them share, I was struck with the fact that although we are having VERY different life experiences right now, we all love the same God. We all want to serve Him. I happen to live in a home that is very comfortable to me and I don't have to depend on God for the next meal at this point in my life. These women do.And I'll bet their prayer life is richer than mine. As I listened to them talk, I was touched by how they seem to have such a deep, intimate relationship with God...seeking Him for every decision they make each day.

Now, on to what this all has to do with finding our identity in Christ. It is so easy for me to refer to those women as "homeless women." When I was sharing with Phillip about the morning, I am pretty sure I said there were two homeless women in our group that morning. It hit me though later, and I almost felt like God stopped me in my tracks, to remind me that the fact that they are homeless is not where their identity lies. It is a circumstance they find themselves in that affects who they are but it is not the defining factor in their lives any more than the defining factor in Zach's life is that he has Down Syndrome. I remember hearing early on in reference to Zach that as his parents, we need to remember he is a baby first and we are to see him and enjoy him that way ... Down Syndrome is just a part of who he is. I would not want anyone to refer to Zach as a Down Syndrome child-he is a child who happens to have Down Syndrome, but most importantly, he is a child of God.

So, although I do realize that being homeless impacts the stories of these women in some big ways, I don't think it is right for me to refer to them as homeless women. They are women like me, who want to honor God with their lives, who want to impact those around them, and who want to grow daily in their relationship with Him. And again, most importantly, they are children of God.

So, I believe God reminded me that our identity is found in belonging to Him, not in our circumstances,and I think I will be more intentional in how I describe people in the future...the same way I hope people would do for me. Thank you God, for showing yourself to me though those precious women this week. The joy on their faces, in spite of their circumstances, has left a mark on my heart.

" How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God. And that is what we are!" 1 John 3:1

Monday, November 9, 2009

It's all about perspective

Sometimes I just get in a funk...know what I mean? I have found myself in a funk for a few days. Why? Oh, I don't know...I guess I get tired sometimes. The mundane, the routine, trying to keep a house clean, laundry, therapy for Zach, just the stuff of life!!!

So, I decided I needed a perspective check. I have a lot to be thankful for and I sometimes just need to slow down long enough to be reminded of all that God has given me.

I read one of my favorite verses this morning- "From the fullness of his grace, we have all received one blessing after another." (John 1:16) I have received one blessing after another...my family is healthy and I have been given a gift to have each one of them in my life. I have a wonderful husband. I have a great church and have been given lots of opportunities to serve. My husband has a good job. I have great friends. And on a more superficial note- Birkdale is already decorated for Christmas which excites me and Starbucks has it's Christmas cups out (-:!!!

So, it really is all about perspective, isn't it? I have so MUCH to be thankful for!!

Monday, November 2, 2009

First haircut and standing up!!

This is Zach's "before" picture...


and after...


And here he is standing up holding on to the coffee table (yes, I helped him a little but he stood for about 3 minutes!!) Way to go,little man!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Highlights and Lowlights

Here are some highlights and lowlights of the past week:

Hmmm...let's start with lowlights and then end on a good note (Can you tell I am a "bad news first" kind of gal???)

Lowlights:

1) Getting a call from Taylor's school last Thursday that she had a fever...I had to pick her up and have her miss her Fall festival at school )-:

2) Taking Zach to the ENT in South Charlotte in Friday, and waiting for one hour and forty minutes before even seeing the dr.-good times!!

4) Getting another call from Taylor's school on Monday that she threw up at lunch (after her feeling fine all weekend)

3) Sitting in the Dr.'s office waiting room Monday afternoon for 1.5 hours with a packed waiting room and many of them wearing masks!!

4) Phillip having to be out of town in Knoxville while I had sickies at home.

5) Taylor ridding her body of the hotdog she had eaten for dinner on Monday night-note to self: don't listen to your four year old when she says she wants a hot dog for dinner and she has already thrown up her lunch!!! Way to go mom!


Highlights:

1) Speaking at Oasis about the fruit of the Spirit KINDNESS...and encouraging us all to practice INTENTIONAL acts of kindness, in Jesus' name.

2) Being the recipient of an intentional act of kindness when Mary called me and asked me if I wanted to leave Zach with her when I took Taylor to the dr. on Monday. Those three hours (dr's office and Target-getting prescription filled) could have been much worse!!

3) Getting a free manicure at the Honda place when I went in to get some work done on the car last week.

4) Having coffee with Heather Dooley, who I love but don't get to see very often

5) Going to the Down Syndrome mom's night out with my friend and neighbor, Christi, and thankful for the people God has put in our path who are walking this same road!

6) Zach is officially "helmet free",as of yesterday! He was a trooper wearing that for 23 hours/day for 5 months!! And no, I won't miss the smell! (-:

7) Finished a great book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan-was very challenged by it! (possible blog on this some other day!)

8)Having Miss Peggy come to our house today so I could get out!! Worked on a talk this morning (Lies College Women Believe) and had a blast.

9) Sitting here right now, drinking a pumpkin spice latte, in Barnes and Noble , and writing this!

10) Oh, and how could I forget- I was crowned the Homecoming Queen at Trader Joe's last week!!! Put my name in a drawing and got THE phone call a few days later "Mrs. Howard-you have won the drawing to be the Trader Joe's homecoming Queen!!" I got a $25 gift card and my picture taken in a sash and a crown (brought back sweet memories of being the homecoming queen in high school!!! Ummm...no, not really!)




More highlights than lowlights- that makes for a good week!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

One year ago...


A little over a year ago, on October 14.2009, Zachary Cole Howard was born!! I will never forget that day, or the day after that, when we were told news that would change our lives forever.

I remember the night that Zach was born, all I could say was "he is just perfect!" The following morning, the neonatologist at the hospital came into our room. Phillip was in the bathroom at the time so the doctor began making small talk with me...I think he was talking to me about sports, if I remember correctly. Phillip came out of the bathroom and Dr.Payne then said he had something he needed to tell us. He said he thought that Zach had signs and physical traits that he believed to be Down Syndrome. At those words, Phillip began to sob and I just stood there, in complete shock. Phillip sobbed because at that moment, what he had thought to be true for the past ten or so hours since Zach was born, had just been confirmed. You see, Phillip knew right after Zach was born by looking at him that he might have Down Syndrome. I did not notice a thing (a blessing for sure). In fact, Phillip was in the bathroom researching Down Syndrome on our computer when Dr.Payne came into the room to give us the news.

Dr. Payne continued to talk and gave us reasons why he thought Zach might have DS, but his words sounded like Charlie Brown's teacher (wah wah wah wah wah) to me at the time. It felt like my body went completely numb at that moment and I could not process a thing. I felt no emotion...I really do think I was just in shock.

Wait...Zach is perfect,God? Now what does this mean? The room stood still. Dr. Payne began to say that he knew we would be great parents for Zach and he could tell we were great people. What? He didn't know us at all-what was he talking about? And what is Down Syndrome anyway? My mind raced to the people I had worked with in high school as I had volunteered for Special Olympics. My whole body felt heavy and I felt like I had just been hit head on by a Mack truck.

I didn't cry. Phillip and I hugged and Dr. Payne said he would come back later with some more information and some numbers of people to call. He also said the chaplain from the hospital would come in and see us. Huh? That doesn't sound good!

From that point until we left the hospital a day and a half later, there were many phone calls made and many people came to be with us. I cried as each person walked through the door. I began to feel such intense sadness and grief. I couldn't eat, I could barely talk, and I just felt so sad. But why?

As I look back now, 90% of the sadness seemed to originate from fear...fear of the future, fear of the unknown, fear of losing life as I knew it, fear that I would not be able to handle this. I grieved for what I thought life was going to be like with our new baby boy. I grieved for our future.

But an amazing thing happened before we left the hospital. Though the tears, through the prayers, through the body of Christ coming alongside us like never before...I received a peace from God. I began to feel in the depths of my heart the realization that this did not surprise God. He knew that Zach was going to have Down Syndrome. He chose us and our family for Zach. He wanted us to be his parents and him to be our child. This was not a mistake. Zach was perfect in God's eyes and he was God's perfect child for us and our family! My first reaction still held true-Zach was perfect!!

Now to fast forward one year...wow! Zach is now one and that day in the hospital, though it can still bring me to tears thinking about it, seems like a world away from where we are now. Zach is a bundle of love and he has a way about him that is infectious to all who meet him! He is laid back, giggles a lot, is making so much progress and is a joy to all who come in contact with him.

Down Syndrome does not define me, does not define Zach, and does not define our family. Our journey is one that is different than we had once expected, but it is a good journey and we are growing through each day. I have been so blessed by the community that has come around us and have seen love extended to us in ways I have never experienced before.

So, one year ago, our lives changed, but now I can honestly say that our lives have changed for the better! Thank you, God, for loving our family enough to entrust us with your precious angel, Zach. Happy Birthday (almost one week ago) little man!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Buddy Walk



On Sunday, October 4th, we did our first "Buddy Walk" at Freedom Park. A Buddy Walk is a walk to raise money and promote awareness about Down Syndrome. I remember very clearly last year coming home from the hospital after Zach was born, and receiving an email from a friend in Florida telling me she had just done a Buddy Walk there. I was like "a Buddy What?" I did not know all the lingo yet!! (and still don't)

So, as a newbie to the Buddy Walk this year, I did a few things...set up a website for donations, emailed some people about it (not a whole lot because I did not want to seem like a bother to people), and got a team together to do the actual walk. The walk is supposedly one mile around the lake at Freedom Park but it felt like a very short stroll at a snail's pace because of all the people who attended!

I arrived with my family and felt a bit like a stranger in completely new territory. Other people seemed to already know what to do-where to go to sign in, where to get t-shirts,where the bathrooms were!! I felt a bit overwhelmed. There were hundreds of people there...many with Down Syndrome and so many who were there to support them!

Our "team", which was affectionately called "Zach Attack", arrived and we participated in some of the park events before doing the actual walk, which began at 4pm. Our team picture is posted above (minus Ashley and Mike Thompson who were not there for the picture)...Then we began the walk, with hundreds of other people, all there for one cause! It was quite a sight to see the people stretched out all around the lake as the walk began.



Please note Ashley (far left and very pregnant in this pic!!). She gave birth to her baby girl, Maddie, the following day!! I think it was the Buddy Walk that did her in-ha ha!!

The afternoon as a whole was an encouragement. It was encouraging to see all the DS families out there and the friends who supported them. It was encouraging to have MY family and friends there, and it meant a lot that they would give up their afternoon to show us their love and support.

I have already decided that NEXT year, I want to double the size of our team!! I won't be the newbie next year and therefore it won't feel so overwhelming, and I want to continue to do whatever I can to support my little angel with DS.

Who knows...Zach might even be awake for the walk next year!!!!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Expect the unexpected

That was the theme for me this past weekend on the Lake Forest Youth retreat...expect the unexpected!! I am actually thinking this should be a theme for all youth retreats based on my most recent experiences on them!

I was going on the weekend because I was asked to be the speaker for the high school students. I had planned, prayed and prepared with them in mind. Holly Worsley, a good friend of mine, was slated to speak to the middle school students. Holly had told me on Wednesday night that her mom was having shoulder surgery Friday afternoon. She also told me to keep that in the back of my mind JUST IN CASE something went wrong. Well, she and I both thought there was very little chance of that, of course.

Friday afternoon around 3pm, I received a text from Holly that things weren't going so well and she would let me know more in an hour. A few hours passed and I called Holly. Things had been a bit crazy for her ,as to be imagined, and she was getting ready to call to let me know she did not feel comfortable leaving her mom so she was not going to be coming on the retreat.

SO, I got off the phone and prayed and the decision was made shortly thereafter that I would be speaking to both groups.

EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

I spoke Friday night to everyone all together...then we decided it would be best to split them up and have me speak to them separately, which meant speaking twice Saturday morning, Saturday evening,and Sunday morning.


EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

It rained almost ALL weekend long...from Friday afternoon through late Saturday evening so all the outdoor activities that were planned obviously weren't going to happen. However, there were some students who braved the cold rain and went swimming in the lake anyway. After my talk Saturday night, I had planned to send the students out for 15 minutes to be alone with God. In the pouring rain, it is hard to get too excited about that,even though there were a few covered places. But by this point in the weekend, I had learned to...


EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED!

So, I was reminded again this past weekend that GOD IS IN CONTROL. He will do what He is going to do, and He can work even when things don't go as planned.

"As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." Isaiah 55:9

"My word It will not return to me empty but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." Isaiah 55:11

I pray that in spite of me and in spite of the circumstances of the weekend, lives were changed and choices will be made to follow Christ in deeper ways.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Every once in a while, it happens...

I knew I would feel this way at times...and I felt it today. As you know , my son, Zach, has Down Syndrome. It has been almost one year since he has entered into our lives! (His birthday is October 14)

Today while I was sitting outside of Taylor's ballet class, another mom was also outside the class, and she had brought her baby with her. It turns out her baby was born 2 days earlier than Zach. But here's the thing...her little girl was crawling. She was holding a cup and drinking from it. Her mom mentioned to her baby girl that she might be having lasagna tonight. Well, Zach can't crawl yet, he doesn't hold a cup, and he still doesn't have too much interest in solid food (now that is a problem I wish I had!!). I know he will be behind in a lot of milestones, and that is okay, but I also remember early on in this journey, a parent of a DS child telling me the hardest thing was when their child was next to a child the same age, because they could then clearly see the differences.

So tonight as I explained this to Phillip, I cried...and I cried hard. Why? Oh, I am not really sure. Sometimes it just hits me I guess. Zach has Down Syndrome. I still hardly even know what that is going to mean for him or for us. So, my heart hurt a bit today, but tomorrow, I will see his precious face, kiss those adorable cheeks, look into those captivating blue eyes of his, and we will go on!! Zach doesn't know the difference, and he seems to be fine not playing the comparison game!!! He just sat and looked at that other very busy eleven month old baby today and cooed and then went on having fun banging his trucks together. (-:

So, like I said, every once in a while, it happens. I feel sad...but then I go on, embracing the sweet gift God has given us in Zach! In fact, I think I will post this blog entry and go kiss his sweet sleeping self right now!!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

BIRTHDAY week!!

Alrighty, I am not gonna lie....I LOVE BIRTHDAYS!! I love celebrating! Not just my own, mind you..I get excited for other people on their birthdays and I especially get excited if I get the honor of being able to celebrate with them!!

The reality is that life is hard. There is a lot of pain in life. So, if we get a chance to celebrate, we should celebrate,right? Well, that is what I think.

So, last week happened to be my birthday!! The celebrating began on Tuesday(on my actual bday) and went on through Saturday!! I know, I am VERY blessed.

Some highlights included:
1) Dinner with my dear friend, Kim Schultz, on my birthday!! It had been a "not so great" day of diaper changing, meltdowns,(by one of my children-not me this time!!), a trip to the doctor, and an hour waiting on a prescription to be filled..SO, it was such a nice treat to end my day with great time with Kim!!

2) Facebook Birthday wishes from people-I read every one of them and was so thankful that people would take the time to wish me a happy bday!

3) Dinner on Thursday night with about 25 friends at eeZ Fusion! It was a blast!! Phillip had planned the evening and it could not have been more special! I loved having my friends all in one place (except those who were unable to attend!) and hearing them laugh and have a good time. It was very cool to look around, to see the smiles, hear the laughter and the craziness, and know that women were hopefully getting their tanks filled by being out of the home and with other women for the evening.

4) One of the gifts I received that evening was a book that Mary put together of letters from some of my friends. It meant so much to me and I sat and read the letters when I got home that night. A treasure of a gift!!

5) Went out with my family, my parents and my brother on Friday night! We try to get together to celebrate birthdays so it was fun to be together.

6) My mother in law made me a mini scrapbook of me growing up! I know it took a lot of time and love, so that was a special gift.

7) And for my final bday celebration, Phillip took me out on a special date Saturday night. We went to dinner uptown and had good conversation and a yummy dinner!! Then , we went to Amelie's French bakery and hung out there for a while. He then gave me my bday present,which was a gift certificate to a spa in Blowing Rock! I know, I have THE best husband in the world. He did an amazing job making this birthday extra special.

So, it was a fantastic week. And here is a take-away...we need to celebrate more often. We need to celebrate people!! We need to let them know how much they mean to us. We need to highlight their wonderfulness (is that a word?) Maybe not just celebrate on people birthdays, but every once in a while, get groups together and go out and just enjoy being together!! Life has enough stress, so let's take some time to celebrate when we can. It sure made a difference in my life this week as people took the time to make me feel special. And I think God smiled on that!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Ballet/tap-here we come!!




Tay getting her tap on!!

We ventured into the world of extracurricular activities last week! Taylor is taking an intro to tap/ballet class once a week at Kingdom's Feet, a Christian ballet studio. It was fun to see how excited Taylor got. The day of the class, she couldn't fall asleep at nap time because she was so excited. She came downstairs after ten minutes or so wearing her leotard and her tights (tights on OVER the leotard, by the way!!).

They pray at the beginning of the class and end the class with a group hug!! They will learn about how to use dance as a form of worship to God-pretty cool!

Taylor has been "practicing" at home. Will keep you all updated as she continues to master the art of ballet and tap...like mother , like daughter-HA!!!!!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Refreshed by others

This has been a week that my heart has found great refreshment by being with others. I am a people person...a pretty high extrovert on the Myers Briggs, and I definitely get "energized" by being with people.
A few of these experiences stand out this week:
On Monday, I got to spend time with a very good friend, Liane Hamilton. We both had our first children in the same year (2005) and since then, Mason and Taylor have been good buddies too. Liane and I used to be youth leaders together, and now we share life together, have play dates with our kids, and talk about life, the Lord, raising children,etc. It is always good to be with her.
Tuesday night, I went to an Oasis leaders meeting with close to 20 other women who will be serving in our Oasis ministry. I looked around the room that night and was reminded of the fact that God has allowed me to serve alongside some incredible, godly, REAL, women at Lake Forest. That night, I came home energized.
Today, I got to sit in the waiting room at Levine Children's Hospital with Joe and Pam Sharp, and Pam's parents, as Sammi (Joe and Pam's daughter) had surgery. It was a joy to be with my friends and to share that time with them today. Again, I left that time energized.
And then tonight, I went to church to "serve" with other ladies from our Oasis prayer group. We were serving dinner for the women who are presently staying at our church as we are hosting a women's shelter for homeless women this week. I took Taylor and Zach with me. As seems to happen most times when serving, I got more from the women than I could ever give to them in one night! To sit and have dinner with them and to hear some of their stories, and to see the faith and courage these women have to keep moving forward despite hard circumstances...that encouraged and challenged me greatly. So many of the women loved on MY children and in turn, showed me more of Jesus tonight! Taylor almost had to be dragged away tonight to come home...she was having such a good time and was in heaven as one of the overnight guests painted Taylor's fingers and toes! Zach got held and loved on all night long. So, once again, I left tonight with my heart encouraged.
This week, I have been refreshed by the people God has placed in my path. It is so evident to me why God wants us to be in community with others. It is just better that way!!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Top 10 lists

Top 10 joy givers in my life right now (in no particular order)...

10)Snuggling with my children (even when Taylor asks for us to come "lay with her for just one second" as a major delay tactic to going to bed)
9) Opportunities to speak that God has given me (challenging, sharpening, and just plain fun!)
8) Coffee, and just being in coffee shops
7) Wednesday's (my day to meet with people, work on talks, run errands, and fill my tank!)
6) Lake Forest Church
5) Blogging (and reading other people's blogs)
4) Reading good books (Right now, I am reading "The Prodigal God" by Timothy Keller)
3) Spending time with the women in my Thursday morning prayer group
2) Spending time with friends
1) Date nights with Phillip

Top 10 things I am looking forward to...(Again, in no particular order)

10)Taylor starting ballet classes at Kingdom's Feet
9) Speaking on the Lake Forest youth retreat in September
8) The FALL and cooler weather
7) Celebrating my Birthday with many women who mean a lot to me
6) Pumpkin Spice Latte's
5) Oasis starting back and getting back into a regular routine
4) The Christmas cups at Starbuck's (I know it's weird but I get excited every year!)
3) Seeing where God leads me
2) Anniversary trip with Phillip
1) Did I already say cooler weather? (-:

Friday, August 28, 2009

A good word on mommyhood

"Being a mommy is both a gift and a burden. The responsibilities are never ending and sometimes feel all consuming. Yet the day will be won or lost, not based on my accomplishments, but based on my attitude. The grace of God can set my attitude free to be the mommy. By His grace, my frustrations can be replaced with peace. By His grace, I can speak calmly and listen patiently. By his grace, I can forsake my to-do list and play with my children. By His grace, I can celebrate this season called Mommy. Would you let the grace of God set you free to be the mommy?"
by Angela Thomas Guffey "Tender Mercies for a Mother's Soul"

Thank you, Angela, for the gift of these words today! I don't know you but it seems you have read into my heart, and maybe even the hearts of other mom's just like me!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I blew it!

 1-3Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
   Scrub away my guilt,
      soak out my sins in your laundry.
   I know how bad I've been;
      my sins are staring me down.

 4-6 You're the One I've violated, and you've seen
      it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
   You have all the facts before you;
      whatever you decide about me is fair.
   I've been out of step with you for a long time,
      in the wrong since before I was born.
   What you're after is truth from the inside out.
      Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.

 7-15 Soak me in your laundry and I'll come out clean,
      scrub me and I'll have a snow-white life.
   Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
      set these once-broken bones to dancing.
   Don't look too close for blemishes,
      give me a clean bill of health.
   God, make a fresh start in me,
      shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
   Don't throw me out with the trash,
      or fail to breathe holiness in me.
   Bring me back from gray exile,
      put a fresh wind in my sails!
   Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
      so the lost can find their way home.
   Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
      and I'll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
   Unbutton my lips, dear God;
      I'll let loose with your praise.

 16-17 Going through the motions doesn't please you,
      a flawless performance is nothing to you.
   I learned God-worship
      when my pride was shattered.
   Heart-shattered lives ready for love
      don't for a moment escape God's notice.

 18-19 Make Zion the place you delight in,
      repair Jerusalem's broken-down walls.
   Then you'll get real worship from us,
      acts of worship small and large,
   Including all the bulls
      they can heave onto your altar! (Psalm 51, The Message)

Well, I blew it tonight! I really messed up. The warning lights were flashing but I did not heed them. I am so thankful tonight for God's amazing grace...that He knows I am going to blow it and He still loves me. I am so glad that He takes my sin and removes it as far as the east is from the west. Sometimes I see things in me that make me so sad. BUT I know that God's mercies are new every morning. I can not go back and erase tonight, though I wish I could. My prayer is that when I see the warning lights going off, knowing my tank is empty, I pray I will make better choices. I pray I will take a "time out". I know I need God to change me every single day-it is just that tonight I am a little more aware of that than usual! Thank you God for your grace!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Serving others

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." Mark 10:45

I have been thinking some lately about serving others. I had an experience last week that brought this thinking more to the surface. I am in a very busy season of life...busy in the sense that with two small children in the house, it seems like the physical daily demands are high. I can find myself getting tired easily. I can also find that I get frustrated easily. The day in/day out challenges of two small children can empty my tank pretty quickly, so here is where serving comes in...

Even Jesus did not come to be served but to serve and He was God!! When I find myself getting stuck, I have realized that the best thing I can do is to serve others. There are SO many people around me who are in the same boat I am in, so it makes a difference to find ways to serve them. Also, it is amazing to me what a difference it makes in my heart when I do serve others...when I step outside of "myself" and think "What can I do for someone else today?"

So, even when I am serving others, there is a blessing to be found. I hope I can continue to keep this on the forefront of my mind. My circumstances may not change for a while, but my attitude and actions in the midst of it can definitely make a difference.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Celebrating two VERY special people in my life!!




Yesterday was Taylor's 4th Birthday!! She told people all day long that it was her Birthday and she has continued to tell everyone today that she is 4!! She truly is excited about being four...so excited that she came in and woke me up, dressed and ready for the day yesterday at 5:40a.m.! If you know anything about me, mornings are NOT my thing!! It is 11:05pm right now and this is the time of day I am still on! Mornings are a different story-and does 5:40am even count as morning-or is that the middle of the night??? Anyway, I digress...

So, to me, Birthday's are a time to slow down and celebrate someone's life and what they mean to me. Taylor, my wild child 4 year old!! Taylor is a wonderful ,spirited, strong willed, loving, funny, inquisitive, dynamic, outgoing, beautiful little girl. She has blessed my life in so many ways and has stretched me in so many ways as well. I want more than anything for God to take her energy, her spunk, and her influence and channel it to be used for the Kingdom of God! I pray for God to soften her heart and to turn her heart towards Him. It amazes me that God has entrusted this little life to our earthly care,and I pray I do the right thing with her. I want her to fall in love with Jesus and live her life for Him. I can think of no greater joy. Well, Happy Birthday sweet Taylor! Your mommy loves you,Teeter Bug!

And TODAY is my sweet husband's Birthday! Yep, the day after Taylor's!! There are so many things I love about Phillip. He truly has a heart of gold. He is far more grace giving than I am and he has overlooked so many of my faults over the years. He is kind, giving, generous, patient, loving, faithful, loyal...and not to mention handsome and very much a gentleman!! He is also an incredible father to my children. Thank you Phillip for loving God and for leading our family towards God. Thank you for praying with me every night , even when the words barely make sense because you are so tired! It matters.

Taylor and Phillip, I love you both and THANK GOD for you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Special place in my heart...Kenzi Harwell





Today, Kenzi Harwell babysat Zach and Taylor. Kenzi took a ton of pictures today with the kids,and these are just a few. Taylor had such a great time, and it made me so happy to hear Taylor talk about her day with Kenzi!

I have known Kenzi since she was in 7th grade and she is now heading off to her freshman year in college! I met her when I was the youth director at Mecklenburg Community Church. Tonight after I got home, Kenzi and I went to Chik-fil-a with the kids...we chose CFA so we could actually have a conversation while Taylor played in the "play area." I loved spending time with Kenzi, listening to her talk about her senior year in high school, hear how she has grown in so many ways, and hear about how she feels about going off to college!

It made me miss working with high school students. Kenzi is one of the students that made my time being involved in high school ministry so rich. She is authentic, teachable, loving, fun-spirited, and has a deep faith. Kenzi holds a special place in my heart. It is really cool to see someone whose life I have invested in, turn around and give so much love to my own children!

As Kenzi heads off to ASU in a couple of weeks...I pray that she will continue to hold tightly to her faith. I pray she will choose friends that help her grow, and I pray she will continue to be a light to those around her. Thank you God for Kenzi, her sweet spirit, and the love she shared with Taylor and Zach today!!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The little things

Tonight I am thankful for the little things...

There have been a handful of things that have made me happy this week, including:

1) A coupon that came in the mail for a free pint of Starbuck's ice cream.
2) Getting two free tickets to go see a sneak preview of a movie...and it turned out to be a really good movie!!
3) $10 off of groceries this week for being a Harris Teeter e-VIC customer
4) A note my husband left tonight thanking me for dinner
5) Getting the guitar chords for, and playing, "I Will Rise" by Chris Tomlin during Taylor and Zach's nap time today!

It doesn't take much, does it? (-:

Look for the little things.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

And let us consider...

" Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful. AND LET US CONSIDER how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. LET US NOT GIVE UP meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another, AND ALL THE MORE, as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:23-25

Sometimes I read familiar passages of Scripture and they hit me in a new and fresh way. This happened today. A recent conversation reminded me of this passage of Scripture. There have been times in my life where I have read this and glossed over it, because it was something that was just lived out naturally. Then there are times, like now, where I read that passage, and I wonder...Am I meeting together regularly with people who are encouraging me in my faith and vice versa? How many "small groups" have I been in that have just fizzled out for one reason or another, so that it becomes easy to do what others "are in the habit of doing"...which is not meeting together? Has life gotten so busy that it is okay to not do this in certain seasons? I don't think so.

I think it takes work to be in relationships with others. I think it takes work to carve out time in schedules to make this a priority. But is it important? Yes, it is. I need to be considering how I can spur on those around me. I also need to be an encourager to the people in my life. I firmly believe I can either build people up or tear them down with my words and actions- I know I have been on the receiving end of both, and yet encouragement is so vital in our walk with Christ.

So, my prayer today is that I will live this out in my life. Help me to be wise with my words, my actions and my thoughts. Help me to be a life-giver in my relationships.And help me to encourage those around me...all the more!!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Water slide

Gotta love a water slide! We are here at Holden Beach with our dear friends, the Andrews! It is a joy to see smiles on the faces of children!





video

Zach's first day at the water slide...taking it all in!

Monday, July 20, 2009

SO GLAD I am not in the dating scene anymore!!!

O.K., for those of you reading this, that title might seem a little strange-like, Cammie, haven't you been out of the dating scene for a while now? And the answer is "Yes, Phillip and I have been married almost 8 years!" The reason why I am talking about this is because I overheard some girls, probably in their 20's, sitting outside of Caribou yesterday, talking about guys they had gone out with recently. The conversation went like this...Friend #1" Should I text him and tell him I had a good time?" Friend #2 "I don't know..does he think you are interested?" Friend #3 "Well, this is just my opinion, you shouldn't seem too anxious and if you text him at 10am, you might seem overly anxious..." and on the conversation went. Oh, to text or not to text? That is the question!!!

Well, I was sitting at the table at this Caribou on East Blvd. after an awesome overnight date with my husband (somewhat of a staycation in South Charlotte), and I had this overwhelming sense of joy and relief that I was not having to worry about those such things anymore...to text or not to text.(-: There were a lot of those kinds of conversations in my 20's and so yesterday, it just reminded me of how blessed I am as I looked over at my husband (oblivious to the said conversation going on near us).I am thankful that God, in His timing, brought the perfect man into my life...perfect for me!!!

And if I do decide to text him, I don't have to worry about seeming overly anxious, or too forward! All I have to worry about is whether or not texting is part of our phone plan!!! Thank you Lord!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Definitely not there yet...

Do you ever read Scripture and realize just how far off your life seems to be from actually living it out? I have that happen more often than I care to admit.

Last week, I had a "bad attitude" day. Unfortunately I can't really blame it on anything...I just had a stinkin' bad attitude. Nothing seemed to go right circumstancially, and if you couple that with a bad attitude...well, you get the picture!! I was not fun to be around (ask my husband-or actually, please don't-it is quite embarrassing!)

I finally took a "time out" because I had even had enough of me. I journaled some and just took some time to breathe. Suddenly, things seemed a bit lighter. I read some Scriptures and tried to focus on all the blessings in my life.It was a turning point in my day.

Now, here are the verses I read today that I wish I had lived out last week: "BE JOYFUL ALWAYS,PRAY CONTINUALLY; GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES FOR THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS."(1 Thes.5:16-18) Last week,was I doing any of these things? Hmmm...NOPE!!! I was not giving thanks in all circumstances-rather, I was complaining about them. Well, bad attitude day is over, God's mercies are new every morning and the good news is today and every day,I can have a fresh start.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

P.F.Changs with old friends

...and I mean "old" as in friends I have had for a long time! Tonight I had dinner with three dear friends of mine, all mom's of former students who were in the youth group at Church at Charlotte while I was the youth director. These friends knew me and have loved me in my single days, walked with me through my dating and marriage with Phillip, and are now encouraging me with my two young children! They all have children that range from being newly married to rising seniors in high school. They have walked the path ahead of me and yet they also take the time to walk alongside me. I have seen them walk through some really hard times in each of their lives,and yet one thing remains...these three women continue to love the Lord and pursue Him with all their hearts. They continue to be real and authentic in their pursuit of Christ, embracing the "trouble" that life brings (John 16:33), and pressing on with beauty and grace.

I am challenged and encouraged by these three women. Hebrews 10:24 says "And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds." I believe that occurs in the sharing of our lives with other believers, and tonight,that took place in a booth at P.F. Changs when four old friends shared a meal and their lives.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

4th of July



This is a pic of Taylor and Zach in their 4th of July outfits-however you can't see much of their outfits -oh well!! Just imagine...cute, stars, red, white and blue!!!

video

Would you have guessed that only a week ago Taylor needed to jump into my mine or Phillip's arms at a pool? Now, check her out! She would rub her hands together (in a getting ready pose) and then run and jump off the diving board herself!!

What a difference a week can make!! Happy 4th everyone!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

He's cute, but he can make a mess!!!



Look at sweet little Zach...8 months old and his first day on the swing!!! Can you imagine my sweet little guy making a monstrous mess? Enter baby food CARROTS!! I think I have served him carrots for my last time, after doing so a few days ago.

I was in a bit of a hurry because I had 45 minutes to feed Zach and give him a bath before going on a date with Phillip. Typically, that would be enough time to get all that done, but NOT WHEN CARROTS ENTER THE PICTURE!!

I started feeding Zach and he proceeded to eat some and then spit some out. Carrots in the form of baby food are EXTREMELY orange and prone to stain. The phone rang and I answered it...Taylor then wanted to help out and take over the feeding...BIG MISTAKE!! I was on the phone for maybe one minute but that was one minute too long! Taylor missed his mouth a few times in that sixty seconds. After we finished the feeding, Zach was a mess but that was no big deal because it was bath time. I took his clothes off and gave him a bath. I get Zach out of the tub to find he had left me a present in the tub. Yep, you guessed it , a brown present. I get Zach cleaned up , dressed and lathered in sweet smelling baby lotion. I put him in his crib for a minute so I can clean up in the bathroom. I come back and he has spit up all over his clean outfit and the crib sheets(which happen to be a real pain to change!!!!) I changed his outfit,called Phillip upstairs to change the crib sheets, cleaned him up again, and then took him downstairs and put him in his exersaucer while I finished a few more things before going out...and as if he hadn't spit up enough to give me the message he does not like carrots, he gave me one more spit up for the road!!!

A few outfits later,and spot cleaner on all the clothes and crib sheets with orange stains, Phillip and I went on our date.

Moral of this story...no more carrots!!!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Where is my hope?

"Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God."
Psalms 42:5

There are many days when I find myself easily getting frustrated. There are many days that seem like I do a lot of hauling children around from one place to another to "entertain" them and keep them busy, especially during the summer. Sometimes I can get to the end of those days and not feel like I accomplished very much.I can even find myself looking ahead at some weeks and I can allow discouragement to creep in...I feel more like an event planner than I do a woman seeking after the Lord.

Put my hope in God. The Psalmist says that twice in Psalms 42. I don't often find myself putting my hope solely in God. Rather, I put my hope in circumstances, in things I am looking forward to, a fun trip, girls nights out, dates with my husband, and naptime! It is not that those are bad things in and of themselves(especially naptime (-:)...but even those things can become idols if I put my hope in them. Circumstances change, people change, relationships change, but GOD does not change!!! I can put my HOPE in Him. I can look to Him to give me eternal moments in the midst of the mundane. I can praise Him during the loads and loads of laundry. I do believe it is possible, and I also believe it takes action on my part- to turn my eyes upon the Lord and to see above the routines of the day to find God and to hear Him.

God, help me today to put my hope in YOU!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Seriously, is it just me????

Sometimes I just have to laugh, or else I will cry!!! Today, yep, it has been one of those days. I have realized something that has happened to me and I need to be willing to just accept it...I just don't have as much brain space as I used to! Since having two children, I have REALLY noticed a difference.Also, another thing I am much more aware of is this...things RARELY turn out as I plan.

Let me give an account of my day...

1) Woke up and planned to get out of the house to go to the gym with children fed and ready to go by 9am-easy enough right?(-:

2) 9:30 am- just getting off the phone from an unexpected call, have tried to pick up around the house (yeah, right!), will get the kids and head out the door, but...

3) 9:45am-decide I should take a shower at the gym while the kids are still being watched so then we can more quickly get to our next destination following the gym, which is a play place for kids
called Encouragym. So, I head upstairs to pack a bag for the shower.

4) 10am -pull out of the driveway to go to the gym..get two streets away and remember, I did not pack a towel for my shower at the gym!!So, I turn back around....

5) Get to the gym around 10:15 am for my workout that was supposed to begin at 9'ish.

6) Get on treadmill #1- begin to increase the speed and it sounds like a sick cow. So I get off that treadmill.

7) Get on treadmill #2 and begin to increase speed-but guess what? The speed does not increase! Treadmill #2 does not work...of course.

8) Get on treadmill #3 and have my work out...while taking my headphones off at least 5 times to tell other people who tried to get on treadmill #2 that it did not work.

9) Finish workout, shower, leave the gym and head to Encouragym with the kids...Taylor whining on the way there that she does not want to go..but I was going anyway because I had a coupon to go there free for two hours($10 value) that would expire at the end of this month and I can not let a coupon like that go unused!!

So, you get the picture? The only other thing that has happened today that has not gone as planned is my Target trip. I have a dear friend, Pam Sharp, who volunteered to come over to watch the kids for me while I get out for a couple of hours. Is that a good friend or what??? Anyway, I put the kids down for a nap and Pam arrived. I left the house and headed straight to Target because I needed to get some pictures printed as a bday gift. I go to the closest Target, which happens to be a nightmare to get in and out of due to a complete remodel, park at least a mile away (or so it seemed), and walk briskly through the parking lot because this time is like GOLD! I head to the photo lab, and I am greeted with signs on all the printers that say "DUE TO TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES, WE ARE UNABLE TO PROCESS ANY FILM AT THIS TIME. SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE." I said out loud "You have GOT to be kidding!"and then just laughed and walked my mile back to my car in the construction covered parking lot.

Now anyone who knows me knows that I am a planner!! Well, as you can see, this day has not gone completely as planned. There have been a few bumps in the road for sure.

I am reminded of the Scripture that says "THIS is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) So, that is where I will turn my focus. THIS is the day that God has made. He is teaching me flexibility today. He is teaching me that even in the midst of forgotten towels, broken treadmills, and non working photo machines, He has given me this day and this day is a gift!! There are many things I can give thanks for, in the midst of these small, but significant to me, frustrations. I am thankful today that I even have a gym membership,that I have two wonderful, healthy children,that I have a dear friend who would be so thoughtful as to VOLUNTEER her time so that I can get a couple of hours of filling my tanks today, and I have a God who loves me, as I am, and slows me down long enough to give me some much needed perspective!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I caved!!

How do I start my very first post???? I am officially entering new territory...blogging! This is something I did not think I would ever do, but I want to begin to empty my mind somehow and blogging seems like a good avenue to do so!

I know I will battle "blogging envy" and other sins that come with the territory, but I am willing to give this a shot! I have enjoyed reading other people's blogs and getting to know more about people through reading their thoughts and musings. Maybe I will be able to get to bed earlier if I spend some time emptying my mind of all the thoughts that seem to keep me up at night! Or will I just stay up later blogging???? TBD!

I am guessing this will be a way to process what the Lord is teaching me, rant and rave about different things that occur on any given day, and also give me a place to share all the funny things that Taylor is doing and saying these days.

So, here I go...and I am excited to see who will end up following me on this new blogging journey!