Saturday, September 25, 2010

meme

My friend Jill over at Jill's Real Life tagged me in a meme. Now, I'm not really up on all this bloggy lingo stuff, but I'm guessing a meme is a post about me. I wish I was posting about ME having a baby, but since I'm just hanging out at home not having contractions instead, I guess I'll fascinate you with other information about me.

What would your dream job be?

I haven't figured this one out yet. I went to college but with the hope that I'd never actually have to do much work outside the home. My hope was always to get married and be a mommy, so maybe I'm living out my dream job now. If I had to make money outside the home now, though, I'd love to be a photographer.

Where would you like to live?

For anyone who knows me, you know I just want to live right here. (Sorry, Chris.) It's not so much about the place, although I think Alabama is a beautiful place, it's about the people. I love being near my friends and family.

In what century would you like to live?

This one! Though we hear so much about how terrible the world is right now, I'm really thinking it's not any worse than it's ever been. And we have air conditioning, running water, and Publix. I'm totally a modern girl, who's never even been camping!

What would be your last meal?

Tough one. I love food and so many kinds of food. Right now, I'm kind of in a food funk, though, where I'm a little bored with food. I'm sure that will pass as soon as Sam is born and I need to lose weight. Lately, I have been loving and craving a good panini, like one I had in Vermont, with chicken, tomatoes, pesto, cheese, and other yummy stuff I can't really remember. Trussville is way lacking in panini availability.

What made you start a blog?

That was actually the topic of my first post, over a year ago. I had started reading blogs, liked to write and get my thoughts out of my head, and was staring down a possible huge life decision/change that I wanted to document. I just kind of felt compelled to do it and have kept it up, even though the life change didn't really happen the way I thought it would and I seriously doubt too many people find my thoughts very interesting.

What is your favorite piece of clothing?

Anything that's not maternity clothing.

What's your favorite film?

I hate questions like this. I love to watch movies, but I can never pick just one. The things I like to watch over and over are mushy, yet clever romantic comedies like You've Got Mail or Two Weeks Notice. I'm such a girl.

What would you like to do before you turn 100?

I'd love to go to Europe, write a really good book, become a marathon runner with an awesome body...but mainly I'd like to become a lot more like Jesus Christ. I feel like in 22 years of following Him, I still have so far to go. I want to find all of my joy and satisfaction in Him and for that to be reflected in every part of my life, from my thoughts and actions to the very expression on my face. Totally not trying to go "Sunday School answer" on you. It's the truth!

This is the part where I'm supposed to tag other people. Most of the blogs I read are written by people I really don't know, so I can't use them. That would be a little weird. I'll go with...

Leslie

Jenny

Jana

I'm off to watch the Bama game. I really hope the Crimson Tide wins, but if they want to make it a little stressful and put me into labor, that would be okay, too. The full moon tried its best, keeping me up all night with contractions, but the minute the sun came up, everything came to a screeching halt.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Full Moon

It's a full moon tonight. I'm totally not a full moon kind of person...you know, the ones who always comment about the full moon and all the crazy things that happen when it's out. I usually just enjoy its beauty and move on with life. But, tonight, I'd love to be the kind of person who goes into labor when it's a full moon. I have no idea if that's something that really happens or just one of those old wives' tales, but I'm totally up for it.

I'm usually one to try and enjoy the last days of pregnancy...the special moments with your baby nestled inside of you, the last times as a family of five, the moments when Luke is still my baby boy. But I'm over it. Really. I'm being as impatient as Jack waiting for...well, anything. I've never been this physically uncomfortable or unable to focus on anything besides getting this baby out of me. I think part of it is the anticipation of the hard parts. You know, the sleepless nights, the jealous two-year-old, the clothes that won't fit, the hormones. I get to the point where I'm ready to just dive in and tackle the challenges rather than wait on them with dread. And then there are the good parts, too. The fuzzy head, the sweet smell, the snuggles, the precious baby noises. I just feel like it's time, but Sam doesn't seem to agree so far. So, I guess I'll just wait, knowing that soon he will be here, and it will be impossible to remember what our family was like without him.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Autumn, Autumn, Wherefore Art Thou, Autumn?

Autumn is by far my favorite season of the year. The long shadows, the boldly blue sky, the cool nights, the smell of fire, the changing leaves, the pumpkin recipes, the festivals, and the decor made up of rich colors just thrill my soul. I've loved it since childhood and, though the other three seasons have good points about them, I just have a special sense of happiness and anticipation when fall is in the air.

The bad thing about fall, in Alabama at least, is that it can be somewhat of a tease. The season officially begins this week, but above the bouncing, animated announcement of "fall" on the seven-day weather forecast was the number 95. Seriously? September is a cruel month. Football begins, warm, comfy clothes make their debut in stores, you begin to see advertisements for fall festivals, and plans are being made for costumes that short (and some tall) people love to wear on that certain holiday which is the one part of fall I don't care for. However, you continue to be covered in sweat when you attempt to enjoy the outdoors while the sun is up and the a/c is still running all day. This summer has been especially brutal and seems it will never end, especially coming from the perspective of being nine months pregnant. The one thing I have a truly hard time forgiving September for is that teaser weekend we had a few weeks ago. You know the one, when it dropped below 90 degrees for a couple of days and we woke up to crisp mornings in the 50's. It was just downright mean of September to do that to us, only to return to these hot summer-like days with no end in sight.

However, there is still the unmistakable promise of autumn in the mornings and evenings. The air is slightly less stifling and the sun is a little lower in the sky. It seems that these last few weeks have gone in slow motion in our house. The anticipation of autumn's arrival coupled with the anticipation of one new little family member's arrival have made me feel like a five-year-old waiting on my birthday party. But, I'm not five. Being just a little older than that, I have the perspective that only age can bring. Before we know it, we will be bundled up in the evenings, enjoying pumpkin pie, and holding a newborn in our arms. So, being the wise, mature person I am, I am making every attempt to enjoy these lingering days of summer and these last moments as a family of five.

We have been able to emerge from the air conditioning in the evenings and enjoy the warm, but not stuffy, evenings, playing with the "big kids" without having to stop and take care of a snuggly new one. Rather than wish these warm, fun days away, I decided to capture them and try my best to cherish them...









before they're gone.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Dedication

UPDATE: Here is a group shot. It's not great, but you get the idea...


UPDATE #2: Okay, peeps, here is another one. That's all I'm giving you. :) (Notice the sweet homemade fan that Maddie made me. I personally think it's the highlight of the costume. And, yes, I did try to fix my hair differently. This is proof that it only does one thing.)


Just in case any of you ever get the idea that Chris and I are not 100% committed to our sweet newlywed Sunday school class, I'd like to give you a brief summary of what I did for that group of people last night. (Okay, we all know it won't be brief.) I'm sorry to inform you that, in addition to about 12 other things, we honestly forgot the camera, so I do not currently have any pictures to share with you. However, I know for a fact that there are some extremely humbling photos and even video out there somewhere that will probably surface at some point. I live in fear of that, let me tell you.

So, our sweet co-teachers (they really are sweet, but I am using the word a little sarcastically at this point) planned a delightful murder mystery party for our wild group of nearly/newlyweds. It is at times like these that the fact that Chris and I are oldyweds with lots of kids who are just boring, tired, and content to stay home and watch a movie becomes really obvious. We are no longer trying to fool ourselves or anyone else and will readily admit that we are sticks in the mud...deep in the mud. Anyway, we reluctantly agreed to this, but we did so not knowing the full story. Just a couple of weeks ago, we were made aware of the fact that our sweet, non-sports-fan friends had planned the party on the very night and at the very time of the Alabama/Penn State game. If you don't understand the significance of this, I am not going to try to explain it. We should have just let you go in our place.

So, with a somewhat not-so-Christian attitude, we gathered our costumes (which I must thank the non-sports-fan friends for finding for me), loaded our children in the van (which is now very clean thanks to my husband), and dropped them off at my parent's house (the children, not the costumes). Let me point out that Nana and Papa were also sacrificing by letting three kids spend the evening with them while they attempted to watch the game. We tried to make it very clear to Jack that he wasn't to ask Papa to play games or change the channel, but his response was always (insert whiny voice): "But football is so boring." I thought we'd done an okay job parenting him, but we've obviously fallen short of the mark. Football...boring? He has so much to learn.

I refused to put my costume on my very pregnant body until we were in the driveway of the house where the party was being held. The only comforting thing about a costume party is that there is always someone there in a sillier costume than you're wearing, though a pregnant geisha is pretty comical. I'm pretty sure if a geisha were to be nine months pregnant, she'd need to find another occupation. There was a very impressive homemade mermaid costume, which only slightly outdid Chris' homemade pirate costume. We put all of about 12 minutes into creating it, so it was no wonder it was so amazing. (I did enjoy watching Chris wear his jagged pirate capris into Publix while about 153 other people were there getting their food for the big game. Yes. Everyone else in Alabama was watching football.)

I am not an actress, so I was very nervous about playing my part in this whole murder mystery dealy. But, once I arrived, I figured...I'm here, I might as well do this thing. So, I spent the evening pretending to be a snobbish, judgmental, germaphobe fashion model who was considering assassinating an extremely obnoxious professional wrestler, who just happened to be played by none other than Chris Bond. (I suppose it wasn't too hard for me since most of that describes me, other than the fashion model.) Yes, the star of Sam Houston University's 1987 production of The King and I finally made his big acting comeback. I really don't see how the theater community has done without his captivating presence for so long. You see, he had me convinced prior to last night at 6:30 that he didn't want to participate in this whole thing, but once the curtain went up, he embraced his character and really seemed to enjoy it. Of course, it might have helped that his character acted like Chris would secretly love to act everyday in real life. There was food being thrown, spaghetti being eaten without a fork, insults being yelled, and generally bad behavior. It quickly became apparent that the very unloved "Royal T" was to be the murder victim. I was actually relieved when he turned up stabbed because it meant he had to quit acting like some really obnoxious character that I'm sure Adam Sandler has played, but who I don't know because I really can't stand those silly and obnoxious kinds of movies.

At this point, I'd love to be able to explain the point of the whole evening, but I haven't really figured it out yet...except to have fun. I will say, it was more fun than I thought, but not the funnest thing ever, and not something I really want to do again anytime soon. I guess it does create another level of bonding for the group to see each other dressed so ridiculously and acting so silly. Like I said, it was humbling. Of course, I haven't told you the most humbling parts of the whole evening. At the time of the awe-inspiring performance, I thought dancing (nine months pregnant and dressed like a geisha, mind you) like an 80's dancer (which to me meant our pathetic imitation of "Walk Like an Egyptian" and doing the robot) in front of everyone was to be the most embarrassing moment of the night. However, I found out later that it was actually the rap I performed (still nine months pregnant and dressed like a geisha) about a pizza delivery man who died from eating a pig he ran over with his car. Please don't ask. I just want to be clear that I was not drunk. I don't know if that makes it better or worse.

I think last night was a great example of why God doesn't always show you the whole road before you when He asks you to step out in faith. I'm pretty sure if I'd gotten even a momentary glimpse of myself as I was last night a year ago when we signed up to lead this class, I would have had to decline the opportunity. Ahhh, the sovereignty of God...and His obvious sense of humor...amaze me.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

You Know Your Due Date is Getting Close When...

...your doctor asks, "Do you feel like you have a bowling ball between your legs?"

...the nurse comments, "Your belly looks great for having four pregnancies!"

...people with wide eyes say, "You look like you're about to pop!"

...your son asks at the dinner table, "Mommy, is it hard to get in your chair with that big belly?"

...your living room floor looks like this:


...you spend your afternoon taking silly pictures like this just to be sure you get one of your pregnant belly before you're not pregnant anymore:


...you look down to check to see if your feet are swollen and this is what you see:


...your husband walks in to find you taking pictures of yourself in a mirror and makes you go outside to take a real picture.




...you can't decide if you want to have the baby NOW and be done with this pregnancy thing or wait as long as possible to avoid the sleepless nights.

...despite all the aches, pains, and back fat, you know you're blessed beyond belief to be taking part in this miracle for the fourth time.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Fun Times

I realize that I have had a serious lack of pictures on here lately, but that actually leads into my topic of discussion perfectly. I'm drowning. Suffocating. Being crushed. Sounds horrible, I know. I'm buried under a giant mound of life and I can't seem to find a way out. Naturally, since I am completely overwhelmed by everything I need to be doing, I'm going to do what any responsible adult would do and just blog about it rather than actually doing something.

There is nothing truly tragic or hard or immensely important about all the things that are overwhelming me right now. It's mostly ordinary things like laundry, ironing, raising mattresses in baby cribs, getting carseats put back together, cleaning my horrendously dirty 10-year-old dented minivan, and cleaning my bathrooms. There is my list a mile long of all the little things we still need to do to get ready for Sam, like locate an evidently very hard to come by bassinet. Then there's this completely stressful thing called third grade. I had no idea that real school didn't start until third grade. I am now finding out that we've been in "Upward School," as my dear friend calls it, for the past three years, and now we are in real school with real tests (lots of them), real homework, real projects, and real grades. Sure, the whole "standards based grading" sounds wonderful until you rip that happy rug out from under a parent and replace it with good old A's, B's, C's, and other letters that we won't mention. I had to have the discussion with my 8-year-old of which letters - or letter - is acceptable and which ones aren't, but she didn't seem too concerned about it, which naturally left me quite concerned. Then there's the fact that I have two kids in school now, so there are two schedules to keep up with, two folders to peruse, and two sets of homework to get done. Okay, so Jack's homework is reading a short list of two and three-letter words each night, but did I mention his sister is in third grade now?

Then there's other things like Bible study starting up and our Sunday School class, which I stink at ministering to, and this party coming up which I have to dress up for. Can I tell you that putting on a costume and pretending to be someone else - all meant for fun - is stressing me? Then there's the fact that I tried the costume on in the privacy of my bedroom last night and was so embarrassed by how HUGE I looked that I immediately ripped it off? And I was the only one looking!

Lastly, there are all the totally unrequired things in life, which I still feel pressure to do, but that I know I'll never get done because there is no chance they'll make it higher than #32 on my to-do list. In a moment of insanity today, I bought Sam a baby book. I was having a moment of guilt and did not want him to be the typical fourth child who has no recorded memories or photos of his childhood. There's only one problem with that. He's the fourth child. I don't think I've opened Luke's baby book since he was six months old, so how in the world do I think I'm going to keep one updated for the next kid that comes our way?

So, you see, all this really means is that my life is so full of blessings that my bucket can't hold them all. I guess that leaves me with two options...refuse some of the blessings, or get a bigger bucket. I'm rather fond of my children, so I guess I'll keep them. That means keeping the laundry and ironing and dirty bathrooms. I also find their education rather important, so I guess we'll try our best to keep up with the demands of third grade. I'm kind of looking forward to Sam being around, so I guess we should do a few more things to get ready for his arrival. Can't say much about the costume party, but we've committed and I don't see anyway out other than going into labor, but it's a little early for that. I love CBS, and actually need it desperately (actually I need the time in God's Word and with His Body that it provides), and I've grown rather fond of our Sunday School class, so I guess I'll keep plugging away at those. I do admit that the baby book is a little bit of a stretch, but I might give it a shot at some point...maybe...when I have a free second...in 18 or so years.

And when I feel like I can't take one more blessing in my life, I'll do what I always do. I imagine myself at 85 years old after Chris has abandoned me for streets of gold and my kids are too busy with their grandchildren and my grandchildren are too old to find Grandma interesting anymore and I have nothing to do but sit around and watch tv, and I think of how much I'll miss these crazy days. I find it really hard to imagine at times, but I try nonetheless, and then I go back to my wild, busy, crazy life and jump in head first. Fun times. That's what these are. Fun times.

(And please excuse all the improper grammar and run-on sentences. I'm a busy girl these days with no time for proofreading.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

My 153rd Lesson on Being Grateful

Psalm 103

1 Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. 2 Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. 3 He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. 4 He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. 5 He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

The kids and I have been memorizing this psalm for the past few months. (There are many more verses. I just put the first few on here today.) It was supposed to be our summer memory work, but it has bled over into the beginning of the school year. It bothers this super-anal woman that we didn't reach our goal time-wise, but I keep reminding myself that that is not the point. We will continue to add to it bit by bit until we've hidden this portion of God's Word in our hearts.

Since we've been working on it for quite a while, I have said these first few verses countless times over and over as we've practiced aloud. The problem is, I haven't always put into practice these first couple of verses...the whole praising the Lord with all that I am and my whole heart kind of thing. I've shared before that I tend to have a very critical and negative spirit about life in general, and I'm just so convicted about how that does not bring glory to God in any way. I have spent so much of the past few weeks focused on what we don't have and complaining about all the little annoyances of life. And before anyone says how that's only human, I must say that, yes, that is human. It's part of our sinful nature, and that's no excuse before a holy God.

I often think and was reminded this past week in Sunday School (or Life Groups or whatever snazzy name we have for it this week), that even if my life on earth were filled with suffering every single day, I'd still have more to be thankful for than I ever deserve. The fact that I have a relationship with my loving, Heavenly Father and the hope of eternity with Him is much more than I deserve and should be more than enough to fill my heart with praise and gratitude each and every day of my life.

Through modern technology, specifically all these blogs I read, the Lord shows me everyday that I have an abundance of other things to be thankful for as well. How can I feel sorry for myself when I see and read about people like this? Yet, I still chose to swim in my pool of self-pity. How could I continue to be perturbed with my children when I read about those whose children are dying or extremely sick? How could I complain about not having enough money to go out to eat or buy clothes for my baby when I see these people who could not feed their starving children anything? I'll tell you why...selfishness and sin. The enemy trips us up so many times, especially those of us who live in the abundance of America, by getting us focused totally and completely on ourselves. I'm pretty sure I've blogged about this same thing at least 34 times, but it seems to be a recurring theme in my life. I whine and complain, and then God reminds me of how blessed I really am.

I do recount all my earthly blessings to God, myself and even all of you from time to time, but God has really impacted me this morning with the fact that, though those blessings are wonderful and I should be thankful, what I'm most blessed by is just Him. I have a King, a Father, a Creator who forgives me time and time and time again. He not only forgives me, but He allows me to come to Him at anytime and lay down all my burdens, both big and small. I get to lay my burdens down at the feet of a Savior who cares and understands. He never says He's too busy or that He doesn't really care today or that it's too small for Him to spend time on it or that it's too big for Him to handle. He always promises to not only care, but to take care of it. It goes without saying that He may not take care of it according to my wisdom or timing, but even that is a wonderful blessing, because, frankly, my wisdom and timing (and overuse of commas) stink. Plus, I have the peace and hope of knowing He really has already taken care of my one and only true problem - sin. It's done, defeated, and has no authority in my life anymore.

So, why do I fret? Why do the dental bills and car repairs and field trip costs and future college tuition get to me? Why do I get so bent out of shape over weeds in my yard or trying to plan a menu for my family or cramming clothes and the other stuff that comes with one more kid into an already full space? Why do my kids make me want to pull my hair out when they're just being kids? And then why do I cry when my hair comes out by the handful after I have a baby? Why do I yell at my husband, whose faults are very tiny compared to those of most people (myself included)? Why do I erupt when our savings account balance drops lower and lower?

I feel Paul's pain so well as I struggle with this sinful nature.

Romans 7: 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 24What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

But I must come to the same conclusion that Paul did. Praise be to Jesus for rescuing me from this sinful nature and for the hope that one day we will all be free from this earthly body, which is a slave to sin, and will live in glory with Him forever. Heaven is not about pearly gates and streets of gold and huge mansions. It is about living in perfect unity with our Lord without the struggle of sin, of beholding Him in all His glory and never again being distracted with selfish desires or thoughts. I know, as long as I'm on this earth, I will have days when I will fail and my focus will be on the wrong things. But it's not the end and God always, gently, in His gracious way, brings me back to that wonderful truth.

Now, I will be counting on all of you to remind me, in your sweet, gentle way, of this truth in a few weeks when, God willing, I will have a newborn, a jealous 2-year-old, two older kids who need help with homework, a husband who does like to eat from time to time, and I'm sleep-deprived with milk squirting out of crazy places and a sagging mid-section that won't even come close to squeezing into any pair of pants in my closet. In my nonexistent spare time, I will blog about how hard it all is and how I'm about to lose my mind, and that will be your cue to leave sweet, encouraging comments, send "just thinking about you" emails, and call me on the phone to be sure everyone in our house is still around. Look at me, already being selfish again. I actually prefer to call this just being realistic and prepared for my inevitable hormone-induced breakdown. And, if you're lucky, it will all go much more smoothly than I'm anticipating, and I won't have to ramble again about how God is teaching me to quit being Amy-focused and start being Christ-focused. But don't count on it. I will, however, try to intersperse any whining I might to do with photos of an adorable newborn baby.