Sunday, December 16, 2012


Gaudete means JOY.

"I needa help daddy mow the gass"
Sunday morning Mass with our sisters

loving Mack

cutest gamecock ever

refusing to nap with mama but happy to sit and smile at her.
baking cookies for Natalie's birthday. stolen from her blog

some of T's first smiles

MK and Joy at 9 months old. Made me sad to find this. They are both so big now, with much more hair :)

A year and a half later...

Plenty to pray for these days, so much to be grateful for. Looking at these pictures reminds me to quit complaining and start praising. Thanking God for the JOY in our lives.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Provision and Perspective

Today I ventured out with the gremlins to Costco. I am never opposed to this little activity because I totally justify all the hardship of schlepping two kids through the big box store by sharing a pizza with MK. We got through the shopping with minimal screaming (Thomas gets a C+ but we were nearing mid morning snack time.) As I was debating who should go into the car first from a safety perspective, I sat my purse down in the front seat and closed the door. Not even knowing this was possible, somehow the car locked. By the grace of God, only my purse and diet  coke were inside and all children and holiday festive drinks were outside. The provision began there. It is not cold today. I had both kids outside of the locked car. No less than 5 people stopped to ask us if they could help or to offer their phones. There was even beer should things start looking really bleak. I had earlier heeded MK's request for pizza (so selfless, I know) so she wasn't hangry. My only concern was Thomas who was due for lunch but I figured that worst case scenario, I could sit on the bumper and nurse him. It would be uncomfortable and embarrasing but I still smiled and thanked God for the ability to feed him should I have to. There were many a mama in the parking lot so I was quickly able to borrow a phone to call Ross. It seemed that being locked out of a car with a tiny infant and squaking toddler wasn't going to be that awful. In more provision, Ross works five minutes from costco and our house is just five minutes more away. He was not in a meeting yet and was able to answer my call on the first ring (maybe because he didn't recognize the number? :) With no lecture giving, he was home to get the spare key and at my car in 15 minutes. I could not manage to feel stressed out when I felt, at every turn, that God was with me in this little moment of inconvenience. He worked out all the details and took care of us in what could have been a rough morning.

And then. The stink eye. Totally calling myself out here, but there was a sex in the city episode where Carrie is given "the FACE" by a friend of her ex-boyfriend. While I was standing in the parking lot, trying to keep my kids from getting hit (we didn't have a phone so I couldn't go inside and Ross was in a massive hurry so he couldn't come fetch us from inside), a 20 something girl and her mom tried to pull in next to us. It took me a minute to move the carseat, the grocery cart MK was still sitting in and our bags. She was visibly peeved at this oh so massive inconvenience so when she got out of the car, I simply said, "I'm sorry. I got locked out of the car and am trying to stay out of the middle of the road."  No joke, meanie 20 something rolled her eyes and said "well, it's a good thing your baby is so cute" and huffed off. I don't know why bratty 20 something girl bothered me so much but she did. Why did she have to be so mean? She was driving a luxury car and seemed very healthy, capable of parking 2 spots farther so as to avoid woman holding 3 month old and shielding cart with toddler. And then after my explanation, to still be so blatantly rude. I got in the newly unlocked car and took a deep breath. I wrote her a note (a relatively kind, Christian-like note but still, a note), put in on her luxury dashboard and tried not to let her meanness negate all the goodness that had come our way just minutes prior.

Trying to ignore how this hurt my feelings, I thought about all the people who endure a much worse version of this unkindness everyday. People who are addicted, homeless, mentally ill, physically handicapped, socially awkward, they all suffer this kind of meanness all the time. My silly mean girl just pricked me with her rudeness unlike the full assault other people feel every day. It gave me something to pray about this week, including the hope that little mean girl might be compelled to show kindness the next time she is made aware of someone's rough day, even if it is insignificant, like mine was.

It also made me think of how hard it is to stay focused on the gifts, on gratitude. So many of us have read Ann Voskamp's, One Thousand Gifts. I was doing a great job seeing all the provision, all the graces until I was faced with some negative. Then it became difficult not to dwell on the one, tiny bit of negative, and let it overshadow all the good. Every single one of our days has bad parts and good. It's a discipline to choose to focus on the positive things. Even if the bad is really really bad and the good is just a little bit good (not true of today but sometimes, yes) , Ann Voskamp so eloquently reminds us that special graces come from recognizing, naming and pondering the good. All of a sudden the bad doesn't feel so bad. Nice reminder for me today!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Great take on Mary

Y'all, this isn't original material but my dear friend Natalie sent this blog to me. This past Saturday, we celebrated the Feast of the Immaculate Conception which celebrates that Mary, who bore Jesus, was born without sin. I love team whitaker's take on this and can hear her words (opinionated, headstrong, southern gal?? ya think??) coming from my mouth.  Even if you don't agree with the theology, you have to think the picture is stunning.


"I think, aside from artificial contraception, the most misunderstood teaching of the Catholic church is our take on Mary. Look, I’m an opinionated, headstrong, stubborn southern gal. I usually tell it like it is. The church’s reverence of Mary, the mother of God, has always intrigued me. As a woman, and now a mom, I always admired that the church gave Jesus’ mom – you know, the one who rode on a donkey while nine months pregnant, labored and gave birth to him in a stable and endured endless ridicule – her due credit. She was a total rockstar, y’all. Today, we celebrate that HER conception was immaculate. In order for Jesus to enter this world without stain, he had to grow in a holy womb. As Fr. Ron said yesterday, “Jesus and sin don’t mix.”
I love that, as a mom, I have a role model in which to hold myself accountable. No, I’ll never be as holy as her, but in my moments of weakness as a wife and mother, she really does get it. It’s true, I’ve asked for her intercession. I’ve asked her to take my prayers to God, much the same way that I ask a good friend to pray for me. Same-same. When I lament my lack of patience, my frustrations, my fears and my worries, I know she understands. Yesterday, it was an honor to celebrate her conception, her joy, her sacrifice and her role as the mother of Jesus.

New traditions

This is our first Advent/Christmas season with a child who is beginning to understand. She is excited and joyful and a sponge for learning all about this holy time. We are loving all things December this year and realizing how much joy young children bring to these special days. While our attempts at making it holy are hit or miss (as with anything you try to do with toddler monsters), I know things are starting to sink in.

First we took a quick trip into the big metropolis of Marietta for the Life University Lights of Life. It was the best $5.00 we have spent and we'll do so again. Listening to your child ooh and aah in pure joy is such a precious gift. They had a little market area complete with funnel cakes and caramel apples (resisting them was a Christmas miracle in and of itself!) and animatronics. I had never seen these little displays but Ross and MK loved them! Watching these people I love find joy in lights and petting zoos and electronic puppets was so wonderful!  We capped off the evening in my favorite way with a meal of terrible for you food. My husband knows my love language well!  My inaugural visit to fuddruckers was awesome and might be a new favorite "kill your pretend diet place."


The weekend ended with a wonderful first Sunday of Advent and lighting the first purple candle representing hope. We read a little reflection (thank you to Fr. Tim's sister for the great Advent devotions!) and talked about it. Since then, we've lit the candle each night and while MK sits sweetly some nights, other nights she screams while we try to read three whole lines of Scripture. Again, hit or miss. I'd say A for effort on all our parts though (including MK's efforts to potty train herself as evidenced in the no-pants photo below.) Also realize there's a beer right there next to our advent wreath. Real life folks, real life.
Then last week I decided the birth of Christ is as good a time as any to step out of my comfort zone and learn something new. Like how to bake cut-out cookies. I've only (unsuccessfully) tried my hand at slice and bake but really wanted MK to have the real experience (as long as real means dough from a box). So I ran to target and grabbed myself a rolling pin and flour and other items I've never had in my kitchen. A sweet angel lady gave me some tips and I exchanged about 20 emails/calls with my baker-extraordinaire sister. In another Christmas miracle, we ended up with delicious sugar cookies for our family and our neighbors. MK's favorite cookie cutters were the star and heart so we talked about the star leading the wise men to Jesus in the manger and our hearts loving our friends and family and baby Jesus. It was a precious, precious day of using a fun activity to teach our girl about what this all means. There is not a bit of OCD in me (Ross wishes for a smidge) so I happily delivered messy, oddly shaped cookies covered in sprinkles and happily cleaned the tornado this little craft created. MK has already asked to bake cookies again and me-maw sent us a care package of more pre-made dough so we'll be back at it soon! I can honestly say it was one of my favorite days with my girl and I understand now why this is a part of so many families' holiday traditions!

There are 15 more days in this special season of Advent and I am loving each day of looking at Christmas lights, talking about Baby Jesus and making memories with our little family!