Saturday, November 20, 2010

My 2 Babies

Darby does it again...I am so in awe of her ability to capture my children's true personalities. She is so awesome.

Trust me this isn't even the best one! You can see the whole slide show here.

I am so thankful I found her. I have been searching for the perfect photographer since Maggie was born...11 years ago. Darby=that perfect photographer for me. She takes tons of pictures just waiting to capture that perfect expression. She's not all posey, posey, I hate that, this is real life folks, kids being kids. And I love that she is totally up for anything. If I have a vision, she goes with it, even it means she has to hang upside down from a tree...NoT ReAllY...but she has sprawled all out on the ground. Now, that is a photographer after the perfect shot! Love, Love, Love HER!!!


Saturday, September 25, 2010

How's Them Apples

A few days ago we made our annual trip to North Georgia for apples. We always go to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Our main objective was to get 4 bushels of Gala apples to make jars and jars of applesauce. It is so delish and the Gala apples are so sweet you don't have to use any extra sweetener at all. We've learned once you have homemade you can't go back to store bought!
Grant worked...

and worked to help load up our 2 carts with apples.

He finally opted to hop up on the tractor they had sitting in the store. One of his most favorite things in the world to do when he goes to visit Popaw and TaTa is ride with Popaw on his tractor. All he kept saying while sitting on the tractor was "ride with Popaw." He was really checking it out so I'm really glad they were smart enough to remove the keys. I'm sure he wasn't the first little boy itching to take it out for a spin.

We always love getting to taste the fresh apple cider. Betsie enjoyed her cider and Mommy's too.

We always buy the majority of our apples already picked and bagged in the store, but this year we decided to also try our hand at picking a few.  It was a real treat for all the children to go on a wagon ride up into the orchard.

There were apple trees as far as we could see hanging heavy with all types of beautiful apples.

When we reached our destination the apple experts gave us instructions on the proper way to pick an apple. First...twist...Second...pull, and it really worked.

This was very important information for us since this whole apple pickin' experience was a first for all of us, but definitely will not be our last.

We all had such fun.

Naturally, Maggie pondered and pondered picking the perfect apple.

We were completely amazed that all the apples in the entire orchard are picked by only 12 people. In this day in time we simply assumed there had to be and easier way, but we were told each apple is hand picked exactly the same way we picked them, twist then pull.  The twins were old pros after only a few apples. We actually had to encourage them from picking more than our little bag could hold.

The best part of the whole outing was the taste testing. In typical Betsie fashion, she nibbled on her apple, Grant dug into his and Gracie completely devoured hers, I hope she left the seeds. 

 Betsie was still nibbling as we loaded up.

After asking around, we decide to try a local favorite barbecue restaurant The Pink Pig for lunch.

They really got into the "pink pig" theme around there for sure. There where pink pig plates for the kiddos.

There were pigs hanging from the rafters,

and pigs of every shape, color and size in every little nook and cranny. I can't think of a more perfect way to decorate a yummy barbecue restaurant. I forgot to get a picture, but one of my favorites wasn't a pig at all but actually the window treatments, or shall I say mistreatments...they simply had hanging from cord, pieces of red and white checked gingham clipped on the cord with clothes pins. Too cute.

Our adventure ended with a torrential down pour completely soaking Monty and the big girls as they raced to the car where the twins and I were already safe and dry before it hit.

The rain quickly ended and we enjoyed a beautiful drive home. I told the children my Mamaw always said when the smoke was rising from the hills it was a opossum cooking dinner. Where she got that tale, who knows, but what fun to pass down to a third generation.

From the looks of it I think they were having a family reunion!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Fall Ya'll

Fall is in the air and I am sooo excited!!!

September 1st is the beginning of what to me is THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR and the best part is it lasts until December 31st! The house is decorated and plans are being made to pick apples, can tons of applesauce, go to the pumpkin patch, make a trip to the mountains, and ultimately prepare for our annual trip to visit "THE MOUSE!" It's just the most wonderful time of year and I am simply giddy!!!

Fall to me is the time tidy up and start decking the halls. It's time to get cozy and make every little nook and cranny warm and welcoming to all who enter.

It's the time I love to warm up our home with the delicious smells of a pumpkin spice candle, a big ole pot of soup simmering on the stove and the mouthwatering smell of a freshly baked apple pie.

It's time to pull out those cozy quilts that just scream "curl up with me and a good book."

It's time to add a little touch here...

and a little touch there,

all that say, "welcome home"

"welcome to a new season of life"

"you are loved"

and, "I'm really glad you're here."

Now, as it is quite obvious, I love details, and more is always better! So, in my book, there is no nook nor cranny too insignificant to be ignored. The one spot in my house that gives me the greatest joy is by far what most people would probably consider to be, well, completely ridiculous. But, it makes me smile. 

Yes, I really do love to decorate my toilet paper.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

So close but yet so far...

We recently had the wonderful privilege of having Monty's twin brother and his family here in the states with us for 8 months. Each and every day we spent together is now a precious memory we will treasure for always. They returned home, to another country, a couple of weeks ago. To say we miss them terribly is a horrible understatement. We are not just family but, the closest of friends.  

Darby, from Darby Rose Photography, did an amazing job capturing this precious relationship. You can click here to see our slide show. Thank you Darby. We will treasure these pictures forever. 


Saturday, July 31, 2010

What if...

A few months ago I began reading the book So Long, Insecurity by Beth Moore. It has now been added to Francine Rivers' Redeeming Love, as one of the two books in my humble but accurate opinion, that should be required reading for every breathing woman!!! 

Wow, it really was amazing. I can honestly say, God is truly using this book to really begin a great and deeply needed change in my life. I could go on and on about all the many things that spoke to me throughout this book, but I'm only going to highlight my greatest treasure from the whole book. You see, it spoke so clearly to me and ministered to me in such a way, I really want Sara, from Sara's Art* House to paint it for me, really huge, to hang above my fireplace. That way I can be reminded daily of His love for me and His desire for me to live the ABUNDANT life.

I'm just going to quote it exactly like Beth put it.... 
"Insecurity feeds like a starving wolf off fear of the future- and not just the distant future of aging, infirmity, or death. Insecurity fears what might happen later today. Tonight. Tomorrow. Next week. Next year. Next decade. Its constant mantra is, 'What will I do if...?' Fear of the future makes people settle for things in the present that completely defy abundant life. It also insults the grace of God that will be piled in heaps for us when hardship comes. We agonize over how we'll possibly make it, yet all the while we can glance over our shoulders and see where God has carried us. And often through worse that what we're afraid of now.
 When you feel that familiar panic begin to rise in your heart like a river coursing its banks and your soul begins to roll with another round of 'What will I do if...?' what would happen if you were willing to hear the voice of God whisper these inaudible words?
 Child, you are asking the wrong question. Here's the one that would assuage your fears:"
This is what I want Sara to paint
"What will God do if...?"
This is what Beth has to say about how God would answer that question...
 "Here's a smattering of answers to that mighty good question.
I, the Maker of heaven and earth, will:
 perfect everything that concerns you (Psalm 138:8, KJV).
work all things together for your good (Romans 8:28).
contend with those who contend with you (Isaiah 49:25).
fight this battle for you (2 Chronicles 20:15).
equip you with divine power (2 Corinthians 10:4).
delight to show you mercy (Micah 7:18).
meet all your needs according to My glorious riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
give you grace that is perfectly sufficient (2Corinthians 12:9).
do immeasurably more than all you could ask or imagine, according to the power that is at work within you (Ephesians 3:20)."
Wow, this totally leaves me breathless. Our God is SOOOO GOOD!!!

As I said earlier, I read Beth's book several months ago, but this morning I began to feel that sneaky very familiar feeling of panic begin to rise within me...What will I do if...? What if this happens again...? What if...?!!! I am so thankful God has given us His word to fight the advances of the one who comes to steal, kill and destroy our joy, our peace, our ABUNDANT LIFE. Jesus says, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the FULL" (John 10:10). I have to say it again, MY GOD IS SO GOOD!!! Praise the Lord, I can go on today, refreshed, assured, and confidently at peace, knowing, He loves me...He is in control...and everything will ultimately, according to His will, not just be okay, but will be perfect in His time.

I sure hope Sara is up to painting this, or I'll be forced to scribble it on the wall!!!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

A Father's Day Sermon for this Mother

Last Sunday's sermon totally rocked the foundation of my little world. Here it is Saturday and I am still pondering one little scripture and truly trying to grasp the depth of its meaning as it applies to my life and my family.

My precious husband, who is also my pastor was preaching here, from the 3rd John 4 and Hebrews 11. If you go back and read the entire faith chapter, Heb. 11, the author talks about all the people who walked in faith throughout their lives in spite of great trials and personal suffering. Then it says..."the world was not worthy of them." How many times have I read this chapter and skimmed right over the power in this verse? This is the moment the foundation of my world began to rumble! Monty said, "can you imagine their mother's praying that their children would be imprisoned, beaten, stoned, etc.? But, the world was not worthy of them."

What do we truly desire for our children and is it in complete alignment with what God desires? Do we desire for "the world to be unworthy of them?" I know God does not desire suffering and hardship for his children just as no parent in their right mind does. He simply created us all for the sole purpose of having a personal, intimate relationship with us. But....we know that because of sin in the world suffering and hardships are simply unavoidable. So, do we truly desire for our children to love God with such a passion even if it means they will experience all forms of persecution and suffering? Okay, can you see how this sermon could really shake up a mommy's precious little world?

The best description I've ever heard of being a mommy is "Being a mother is like having your heart walk around outside of your body." As soon as I found out I was carrying each precious little baby God has blessed us with, I was suddenly overcome with a mommies passion to fight to the death for each child if it was required. Immediately upon the doctor placing each child in my arms I was overwhelmed with an indescribable love that nothing in life can ever compare to. So yes, to say I want the absolute best for each of my children, to say, I desire to give them every good and perfect gift would be a drastic understatement! But what is the best? Is it riches and servants and for everything to go their way or is it to truly be completely sold out passionate followers of Christ?

Personally, I've learned in my own life that I wouldn't trade anything for the strength and wisdom I have gained from walking through the fires of life with Christ. Oh yeah, I hate those fires!!! I can pitch a fit and whine and complain with the best of them until I finally submit and let God do his work in my life. But, I know I would take no amount of  money or anything else for that matter, for the peace of Christ and knowing Him and His love that I have gained through these experiences. I don't want my children to attempt to live their lives with the God of their parents, but I want Him to be THEIR GOD! No, I do not want my children to suffer or face unimaginable trials but I also know that it is often what is required to truly know God. So...more than anything, I want for them to have the strength to stand strong when they do come. To passionately depend on Christ for the very air they breathe and for their passion to give them an unfaltering strength to endure. I want them to be willing to go anywhere and do anything God wants them to do. I want them to truly, entirely and completely live their lives for Christ. When the call of Christ comes on their life, I want their first thought to be "Oh, thank you Lord for calling me. I will gladly go wherever you lead." I want the world to not be worthy of them.

I really feel like I'm setting this mother's heart up for unimaginable suffering. These children are my heart. They are my life.

I have to ask myself though, when I stood before God and the church to dedicate each of them to the Lord did I truly give them up to Him as Hannah did Samuel? Did I give them completely to God?

My six year old continually talks about how she wants to grow up and be a doctor and in the next breath she's weeping and talking about how she wants to go to India and take care of all the unwanted baby girls. This actually began a couple of years ago. Monty and I were completely shocked by the depth and understanding of a 4 year old to feel the needs of children a world away. I don't know the plans God has for this precious, tenderhearted little girl, or for any of our precious children. His plans may not be anywhere near as glamorous (if you can even use this word to describe being a missionary???). But, I  can assure you, if we spend a fortune to educate her and witness her becoming a doctor and she immediately decides to get on a plane headed for India, not one penny will be wasted. We will honestly be able to say goodbye, as painful as it will be knowing we will be separated for years at a time and knowing she will face life threatening trials, that "I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." 3 John 4

I am exhausted! Pulling this post from the depths of my heart has worn me completely out. I probably should have warned you in the beginning to read with caution. This is just where I'm at right now. I'm honestly trying to search my heart for the answers to these very tough questions. Do I really want what God wants for my children? Do I want the world to be unworthy of them?


Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Pile of Sticks

A few days ago PopPaw and TaTa (my parents) came down to help out around the house with a few things Monty, physically can't do right now while he is recovering from back surgery. Top on PopPaw's to do list was trimming the tree in our front yard which was quickly taking over. As PopPaw was trimming the tree he was accumulating quite the pile of sticks, which was just as quickly inspiring this homeschooling mom and her kiddos with a project.

As I said once before, we are a history loving family. For years our girls have spent hours, day after day playing "Maggie and Gracie old times." They cross the open prairie in their covered wagon enduring all types of hardships in their mission to homestead in Kansas, all this in the confines of our simple back yard. It is hysterical to watch and amazing to see such creativity. So, you can obviously see we have a healthy fascination with all things Laura Ingalls Wilder. When they are not playing "Maggie and Gracie old times" you can find them creating all kinds of different adventures with their Darbies (Betsie's name for Barbies).

So what happens when you give some creative little homeschool girls with a good dose of pioneer spirit a pile of sticks?

Well, they build a Darbie house on the open prairie of course. We all had an absolute blast. PopPaw, TaTa, Mommy, Maggie, Gracie, and even Grant and Betsie spent the entire morning constructing and imagining life in a one room log cabin (aka...avoiding the to do list).
We still have more work to be done (on the house and around the house). In lew of a roof we've tied down the canvas from our covered wagon to protect the Darbies from the prairie elements (like Pa did in Little House on the Prairie). Therefore, we still need a roof and we need to fill in the cracks with chinking (paper machie) all before winter. (I hear they can be quite fierce on the open prairie, especially in our imaginations!!!) We also want to create some furniture and make some period outfits for our "Darbies." Can you tell we have a slight obsession with details? Trust me, I could go on and on and on. Fun, fun, fun!!!

Have I told you what an absolute blast it is to be a homeschooler!!! The spontaneous learning experiences are totally thrilling. And what a memory maker....all of us working together using our imaginations, talking, laughing and creating. Now that is priceless. This is a memory we will never forget and we will treasure this house for always.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

My Happy Place

Okay, now who am I kidding? Technically this is not my official "Happy Place" that would be Disney World, but for some reason they refuse to believe I really am Cinderella and that is my castle!!!

So, ya know, a girls gotta live. Definitely not a  close second, but nonetheless second would be my porch. It makes me happy.

I feel like such the "Southern Belle" (said with a deep southern accent) rocking on my Atlanta porch, sipping my ice cold glass of sweet tea,

listening to the melodic sounds of birds chirping and feeling the gentle touch of the early morning Georgia breeze across my skin. This is where I love to wake up in the morning. It is always neat... with the exception of an occasional spider web or the hairy debris on my chair left from the wandering neighborhood cat who has also claimed my porch as his happy  place. But really it isn't my comfy rockers with red and white checked pillows, the big pots of blooming red flowers or all the precious to me antiques or thrift store treasures that make me happy, it's all about who meets me there.

This is where Monty and I have our "porch time", aka....time to talk without the kiddos (even though we turn around to see their little noses pressed up against the glass). This is precious time Monty and I have shared either hashing out a heated issue, sharing our hearts, dreaming of our future or crying out to God for peace, wisdom, and direction. Not to mention the countless hours we spent rocking and feeding tiny little babies.

Most of all this is where I can think and pray and be silent before God. Oh, how I love this spot. This is my "good morning God spot" or shall I say my "God spot." Morning after morning, year after year God has welcomed me here. This is where he has spoken so clearly I've had to look twice at the rocker beside me. It is where he has simply refreshed my soul as I've felt His touch in the gentle breeze. It is where he has become so real to me through the reading of His word. This is where I have begun to understand "the abundant life." This is where He has rocked my world and convicted my heart. This porch has been my sanctuary my house of worship. Now really, who am I kidding, this porch isn't even my "happy place." He is my "happy place" and nothing can compare. This place is simply an old porch apart from Him.

Only with Him does it become my "Happy Place."