"For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace"

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

first birthday in pictures

I still can't believe that my little baby girl is one. Everyone says that time flies but I never realized how quickly until I had a baby. 

We had fun celebrating Gracie and her life. We had a little celebration "just us" on her birthday and then last weekend we had our families over a birthday party. 

Her birthday day:
Gracie and I had a fun day hanging out together. When she woke up I made blueberry baked oatmeal for her birthday breakfast and then we watched a Baby Einstein movie together. We played together for a while and then after her nap we went out to the store because she loves to watch people. And where better to go on your birthday than target? :). I even let her pick out something from the dollar section (I know, amazing mom. :)). For dinner she had her favorite food- sweet potatoes and then Seth brought home some ice cream for her first taste- she loved it. Then we opened presents and to bed she went. 

Birthday party:
We sent out these invites (I changed out the address for this blog- so don't use it to mail anything to!)

and made this poster for decoration

and made this garland for her highchair

and used these fabulous decorations from our baby shower

A few other party details:

And the rest of it:

Gracie LOVES to watch her cousins

Sweet little Creed man!

Lots of great help opening presents :)

She LOVED her baby doll- she wouldn't let anyone take it away from her, even to eat cake...

love that little piggy sticking out

Happy birthday bug!!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

happy birthday gracie!!! (full of sentiment and sap from a mother's heart)

My sweet birthday girl,

Happy Birthday baby girl! I am so excited to celebrate your life and the gift that you are to me today! How does time go so fast? Oh my heart. It is bursting with emotions. Love, excitement, sadness that you are growing up so fast, thankfulness that I've been given this time with you, to be your mommy. I have been overwhelmed by a love so deep and so strong that I am continually awed. I feel like my heart literally has to grow because it can't contain the love I feel for you. 

I was looking back at the calender that I kept of your "firsts"....first smile, first laugh, first time you slept through the night, first time you wore a dress, first tummy time....my, how time has flown. Now you are a little person. You crawl, stand up, say things like "uh-oh", look back at me when you know you shouldn't climb those stairs. You clap and love when we celebrate the small victories- like you eating your vegetables or you finding daddy's buttons. We make a big deal, clapping and saying "good job gracie!!"....your face erupts into a big goofy smile and you clap for yourself, too!

Things you love lately: you love bathtime- when we go into the bathroom you crawl right up to the tub and just stand there, bouncing on the side wanting to get it. You LOVE people, especially children and other babies- you literally go nuts sometimes when you see kids- it feels like you're going to jump right out of my arms. You love having your hair brushed and your teeth brushed. You love your baby dolls- you cuddle with them and burp them. You are learning the art of finger foods and are beginning to really love them. You love music and when we sing to you. You love tearing paper and opening my cookbooks. There is something tasty about those books- you love to chew them. You love when mommy and daddy hug- you get a huge smile and sometimes you clap. You love life- you're an inspiration to me and you constantly remind me of how Jesus says to have faith like a child- it's so pure, so forgiving, so trusting, so think-the-best-of-everyone.

I love watching you learn. The other night we were sitting there, you and I. I was trying to get you to eat your dinner instead of throwing it. It was just one of those moments where I had to step back and watch you. Though I wouldn't choose for you to throw your food on the floor or rub it into your hair or your ear, I just watched you in what you were doing. You were having so much fun, playing and being a baby. I don't want to wish those times away. I love them (well mostly) because you are learning how things work.

One of my most favorite things you've learned lately is how to praise Jesus. Girl, this literally melts my heart. The other night you and I were eating dinner and I had music on in the background so I decided it was a good time to start teaching you this. I raised both hands in the air and said "Praise Jesus!"....and you copied me. You lifted those little arms so high that your chin got buried in your neck and it made your cheeks pop out which made it even cuter...a moment I'll never forget.

I have been reflecting a lot recently. You've made me a mom. I wouldn't be one without you. You've taught me how and you've been ever so patient and forgiving as I wade these unknown waters. Each day is a new adventure and there have been many challenges along the way- big and little. I continually ask God for wisdom and He gives it. I think that is the only way to navigate the waters of parenthood. To depend on God.

I could probably write a book to you today- about this past year, about reflecting on December 3rd one year ago, about who you are, about what's ahead.

You're my buddy, my little sidekick. My errand-runner-buddy, my rainy-day friend, my joy-giver when I'm sad. My cuddle-fest buddy, my dancing partner, my reason to not get ready for the day until noon, haha :). You make me a better person and you make me want to keep going when things are really hard. You motivate me to be who God wants me to be because I want to teach you by example and I want you to know the Love of Jesus because you see it, not just hear it. I know you're only one. I know you really have no idea about most of the things I've written here. But someday you will. Someday when you're old and grown and maybe even a mother yourself, you'll get it. My mom always told me that, too...and I really didn't get it until I had you.

My prayer for you is that you never know the word can't. That nothing stops you from what God is telling you to do. Life won't always been easy, but I pray that you choose to do the right thing. To be a light to others. I pray you have a faith that perseveres and presses into Jesus. Love others even when it seems like they don't deserve it. Give the benefit of the doubt. Serve from your heart. See Jesus in the hurting and the hopeless people. You have been created for a glorious purpose and you make a difference every single day! You are beautiful, valuable, smart and important!

I really really love you buggy. I'm so proud of you. I praise Jesus for you every single day. May you always remember that He is your Rock and that He will never fail you. His promises are true and He loves you unconditionally, radiantly, passionately, deeply and always. 

Happy Birthday!

My song for you on your birthday is more of a prayer, a hope for you.
Martina McBride, Anyway

Here's a few pictures from a year ago........

  This pictures still gets me every time. This was right before my emergency c-section. So many fears, so much anticipation, so much unknown. 

                          Right after they pulled her out...we just sobbed out of joy, exhaustion, thankfulness.

My first time to meet my baby. Really there aren't words for this moment!

All of a sudden he's a daddy

A moment of disbelief that she is ours and we are really her parents. "is this really real?"

First family photo

the sweetest face i've ever seen!

Showing her sass already! She gets the drama queen in her honest!

What a week....God is good.

One of my all time favorite pictures. He was hit with overwhelmed love for his daughter.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

cheesy church signs...

I realize that it's been a while since I've blogged on here. A lot has been going on and I haven't been able to put pencil to paper, figuratively.

Sometimes I catch myself processing life through a mental blog post that I never actually write. I've been doing that a lot recently. I'll call it mentally blogging. It's like a journal except I don't always have the time to sit down and physically write so I do it when I am driving, cooking, cleaning, etc.

I have been thinking about a lot of things lately. But a couple really stand out right now. It is a season of thanks. In two days we celebrate the holiday Thanksgiving. For a lot of us that means gathering with family or friends and eating an incredible meal where we stuff ourselves miserable and the add dessert on top of it. I'm not complaining- I confess, my gluttony comes out.

But we all know it's about more than that. We all know the reason we have off work and school and celebrate Thanksgiving stems from a rich history. We have so much to be thankful for.

Something that I've learned is that an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude is a choice. And when you're thankful, it changes you from the inside. It's not always easy to choose to be thankful or grateful. It's actually easier to complain and want.

I think of the tornado survivors here in our hometown area that have literally lost all of their material possessions. The impact and the toll that it has taken on them physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I don't think I can comprehend it- the extent of what they are facing, especially this time of year. It's truly devastating. And yet I hear story after story of them proclaiming their thankfulness for life. Their thankfulness doesn't diminish what they are enduring and the tremendous mountain they are climbing but it shows their heart. Their character. Their faith in Someone bigger.

I really wrestle with this one. On the day our sweet Gracie Mae turns one, our sweet and dear friends will be delivering their first baby. What a celebration of life that God has perfectly knit together in His understanding. But they also have to make burial plans at the same time. Because their sweet baby has anencephaly. Their baby can't live very long outside of the womb. It's horrible and really unimaginable. I don't have very good words of consolation. I don't know if there really are many. But I pray for them all the time. They are amazing, first- because they just are, but also with the way they've blogged throughout this pregnancy and pressed into Jesus through the deep, heart-wrenching pain and grief.

Y'all, I think we can all safely say- life is not a bed of roses. And even if it were- roses have thorns. So who would want a bed of roses anyways?

Anyways... my point. My point is thankfulness. I am watching friends, family, strangers, and our own family go through some reaaaaaally trying and difficult seasons and events. I have watched on facebook through the month of November where people post one thing a day they are thankful for. It is such a good perspective changer. I think we can all find something we are thankful for. And let that attitude change us, transform us. To endure, to praise, to cope, to live- thankfully.

Okay. I'm not typically a fan of those church signs with the cheesy sayings on them when you drive by- you know what I'm talking about. I mean sometimes they are reeeally cheesy...but even so they make you think. There was one that still sticks out to me from when we lived in Little Rock. It said (paraphrasing here) "What if you woke up today only with the things you thanked God for yesterday". I'm not trying to prove validity of it or say we need to get OCD and make lists of everything we are thankful for in fear of them being taken away from us. Y'all...it constantly comes back to me. This point- am I thankful? Am I expressing my thankfulness to God and my deep gratitude for Him and what He does and provides for me? I am simply thankful for Him because of who He is even if He doesn't do things in a way that makes sense or is painless for me?

So yes the cheesy church sign was effective.

I'm going to choose to be thankful even when my emotions don't line up and don't make sense. That's not a brag-on-me statement, it's a declaration- more for myself than anything- of even if He took it all away, I still have so much to praise Him for. It feels like a punch in the stomach to think about Him taking it all away and really praising, but it is true.

A few of the things I am thankful for right now: my husband, my daughter, my family, my friends, my home, food, health, warmth, clean water, the Bible, those who hold up your hands when you feel weak, books to read, cookie dough (seriously), freedom, hope, grace, mercy, God's steadfastness and His promises that don't change, creativity, invitations, Christmas cards, changing seasons, a van (yep, i said it), good conversations, soup weather (yeah!), music, and my Jesus. There's obviously tons more. But there's a few for ya.

A song I've had on repeat lately is Audrey Assad's "You Speak". Because when we get to the end of us and get silent in our hearts we, then, can really hear and see God. And we get new perspective. And it doesn't hurt that her voice is breathtaking in my opinion. (it makes me feel like a good singer when I sing along with her- as long as she is cranked louder haha :))

I like it so much i'm going to post the lyrics and the link to youtube because I think you should listen to it!

Happy Thanksgiving, y'all, I'm so grateful for YOU.

Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFr6dVTVN2w

You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free
You liberate me from my own noise and my own chaos
From the chains of a lesser law You set me free

In the silence of the heart You speak
In the silence of the heart You speak
And it is there that I will know You
And You will know me
In the silence of the heart
You speak, You speak.

You satisfy me till I am quiet and confident
In the work of the Spirit I cannot see,
You satisfy me till I am quiet and confident
In the work of the Spirit I cannot see.

In the silence of the heart You speak.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

a note to Gracie at 10 months old.

Buggy (your ever-changing nickname),

I cannot believe that in less than 2 months you will be one year old. I cannot believe how quickly time has flown. This time last year I was pregnant with you- anticipating so many things to come! Fast forward a year and I now have a hard time remembering what my days were like spent without you.

This age you are at has been so much fun. Your personality and spirit are really beginning to shine through. You've got a stubborn streak- but who can blame you. You're a tad bit dramatic at times- genetically passed down from your mama. You are a total sweetheart. It makes my heart swell with love to see how much you love people. Specifically kids. Like last night at Walmart you were sitting in the cart and spotted a kid (you've got a radar out for them or something) and you started going crazy...seriously. You started bouncing and trying to bend yourself sideways so you could see around me (thank goodness for seat straps in the cart) and exclaiming "oooo!" "ooOO!" "OOOOOO!". You make me laugh out loud in the store because of the overwhelming excitement you exude when you see a child. You also love adults- you were winning over that check-out lady and were eating up all the attention. I love your love for people. I am excited to watch God fashion this into something incredible for His glory.

A habit i'm not loving so much right now is your new-found love to grind your teeth. Oh my dear. My head hurts just thinking about it. That phase can pass quickly, please.

When we pull your sippy cup with water out of the fridge and do our sign language for "water", you laugh and get all excited. It's really the little things in life. And you're showing me that everyday.

The joy you find when you spot a tennis shoe across the room and, determined, crawl over to it with giggles and smiles or the way you think it's hilarious to knock over the garbage can e.v.e.r.y. night when i'm cooking supper or the fascination you have to open and shut doors- all these things are amazing & fun to you. I had to stop myself from getting frustrated the other night when you, yet again, tried to knock over the garbage can for the 4th time that night, and had to step back and praise God for your curiosity. Though it is not always very convenient for me and obviously needs protection from danger, it's really incredible to watch. You're showing me what it really means to have faith like a child. And I imagine that lesson will continue as you communicate and grow more.

I love when you lay your head on my shoulder and cuddle in. I feel this protective and amazing love for you wash over me. And I want to keep you here, this age & safe forever. But baby, I can't. And that scares me to the core sometimes. But we pray. And trust you to God- even if that is with shaky hands sometimes. Because He loves you more than we ever could come close to loving you. And His plans for you are beyond the good we could imagine of giving you.

God is using you to refine us. To show us our sin and areas of "improvement". We want to model Jesus to you. And we hope that in spite of our sometimes failed attempts at that- you can see Jesus and that you will love Him with everything you have.

Dolly,  as I end this note, I look in the monitor as you are sleeping, sweetly cuddling your giraffe and curled up in a very uncomfortable looking way and i'm thankful for today and God's goodness.

I love you buggy.

Since fall is my FAVORITE favorite time of year I am trying to soak up as much of it as possible. We did a quick photo shoot this weekend!