Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 30

Well, here it is, the end of November. 

Today, I'm grateful for memories.

"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him. 
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth.  
Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." 

As I think back to exactly a year ago this day, I am overwhelmed with a flood of emotions.  We started the day anxious and eager - Would we meet our baby boy today?  We finished the day...at 11:45 p.m...at ease and blessed - We did meet our baby boy. 

After a weekend full of turkey and family, we welcomed our own little "turkey" Brigdon David to our family on November 30, 2009.  His first year has absolutely flown by and I wouldn't take back a second of it.  That boy brings so much joy and laughter and love to our home. 
We have never been the same. 

I can remember during my pregnancy, elated that God was blessing us with another boy, as I am partial.  :)  But in the back of my mind, I just wondered how I could love another child as much as I already loved Harrison, my first-born. 
I just couldn't wrap my mind around the thought of it. 

Little did I know, that the second I saw my baby's first breath, my heart would double in size.  I would hesitate to say that Brig makes our family complete because I don't know that God's finished with us yet -- and that's quite alright by me.  But without a doubt, we are unbelievably grateful for this sweet-spirited, happy baby boy and for God entrusting him in our care.  He's got big plans for him (Jeremiah 29:11). 

I look forward to day after day after year after year of making more memories with my precious family and beyond blessed to be a Mama.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 29

Today, I'm grateful for the pitter-patter of little feet.

I gripe a lot (and I mean a lot) about cleaning up mess after mess, the racket of children running and yelling in the house, having to discipline day after day over the same instances, and even the seemingly endless mountains of laundry that greet me every Monday morning. 
But, at my core, I am grateful.

I'm grateful for happy healthy babies who can run and laugh and ask questions (and questions and questions) and push trucks and roll in the dirt and crash toy cars and tear my flowers up.  I'm grateful for the sound of little feet on the floor that greet me with big hugs first thing in the morning and randomly throughout the day.  I'm grateful for kids (and a husband) who can play outside and work and dirty up clothes that I can later wash.  And for those same fellas who can scarf down a pot of chicken & dumplins and praise me for a good meal...and also the dishes that I will then clean.

Life is short and stressing about the little things will shorten it further. 
Some things will never change, but we can change our outlook. 

Bountiful Blessings Day 28

Today, I'm grateful for Christmas trees.  Love the holiday altogether, but I'm pretty fond of just the tree.  It's the little things right? 

It seems that nearly every year when Christmas season rolls around, I whine and complain about taking care of a live tree; the sap, the needles, the re-watering every day.  But, my darling husband refuses to invest in a fake tree despite my pleading.  So yesterday we spent the afternoon putting up our (live) tree and after scraping the sap off my hands and arms and vacumming needles off the floor and dealing with the fact that it's a bit lop-sided, I silently regretting that I wished for a fake tree.  That pine-y woods-y scent of a live tree screams "Christmas" every time.  I don't care who ya are, that's something you just can't get from a candle!

Bountiful Blessings - Day 27

Today, I'm grateful for modern medicine.

Though it seems small in comparison to health struggles other Mama's face, our little Brig has put us through the ringer this year with his ears.  Just a few weeks ago, he peaked at ear infection number 8 -- most of them bilateral -- in his 11 months of life.  Months went by where it seemed like he'd get an infection, complete a round of antibiotics, followup in 2 weeks for a recheck and be clear, and then in another 3 or 4 weeks, he'd get another. 

Just beyond aggravating. 

Finally, when number 8 struck a few weeks ago, we were referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist.  We got in to see him quickly and after just one look in Brig's ears, he recommended we proceed with surgery to have ET tubes placed.  I had talked with other Mama's who had gone through similar struggles and they only gave praise for tubes. 

Justin and I had prayed about this situation and though surgery wasn't our first option, we had decided to proceed with whatever the doctor thought best.  That day at the specialist, I asked Dr. Loper if he thought the tubes would help and he told me honestly, "At this point, I don't really think you have a choice."  Ouch. 
We could go on with surgery or keep doing what we were doing -- infections every 4 or 5 weeks.  Surgery it is. 

The procedure was nothing and Brig was a champ.  Craziest of all, is that within a day or two, we could tell a difference.  He was babbling more and getting around faster and his overall demeaner was much different. 

His first birthday is tomorrow and I can't think of a better birthday present for my sweet baby than the ability to hear. 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 26

Today, I'm grateful for traditions; both old and new.

For my family, Black Friday doesn't mean shopping all hours of the night, though I have respect for those crazies who do! Black Friday for us means...shopping for a tree -and quite possibly my favorite part of the season.

Other traditions like the annual pre-Thanksgiving and pre-Christmas pie bake-a-thon with my ma & sis-in-law. (My crust will never top hers...*sigh*)

Yet another - Christmas morning French toast soufflé.

And new traditions...

Like the advent calendar, finally. I've been wanting to put together an advent calendar for the last few years, and every time December 1 rolls around I think, "well, maybe next year." This is the year!

Another new tradition is our "Four Gift Rule" for our children. Even at their young age, they get bombarded by SO many gifts and easily see through the true meaning of the season. So, starting this year, they will get:

1). Something you want.
2). Something you need.
3). Something you wear.
4). Something you read.

There's something sacred about old traditions that in our busied lives are difficult to keep alive. So, I'm trying my best to keep those traditions going in my little family as best I can.

Happy Holidays!

Sent from my iPhone

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 25

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Today, I'm grateful for Thanksgiving; the holiday itself and the exact meaning of the word.

Merriam-Webster defines "thanksgiving" as this: 
"A public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness." 
Love that!

Though today is Thanksgiving Day -- a day set aside specifically to reflect on our blessings -- as Christians we're called to give thanks for God's goodness every day

I can't help but think back to Thanksgiving 2009 and how different my little family was.  We were anxiously preparing the arrival of our sweet Brigdon.  I was 38 weeks pregnant and had a little turkey of my very own getting ready to greet the world.  I can remember spending that Thanksgiving weekend putting up Christmas decorations -- just my family of 3 -- and cleaning house like a mad-woman. 

And in perfect timing, our bundle of sweetness made his entrance into the world the following Monday at 11:45 p.m.  We'll be celebrating his first birthday next week and I am shocked at the pace this year has flown by!

Life is short - Take a few minutes today and tell God how grateful you are for His goodness.  Having a hard time finding an "attitude of gratitude"?  How bout the breaths you take?  Or the sun that greeted the day to warm the earth?  Or the clothes on your back? 

Take a moment to absorb the great gift that the forgiveness of sin through Jesus Christ is. 
AND the fact that a day is coming when there will be no more sickness and no more tears.  That's cause for deep gratitude.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 24

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! 
In our neck of the woods, Thanksgiving Eve generally involves grocery shopping (on the worst possible day of the year, I know!) and prepping food. 
Though I love all holidays, Thanksgiving definitely ranks in the top. 

And speaking of grocery shopping...

Today, I'm grateful for the grocery baggers at Publix.  I've never met one that didn't have a smile on their face and attempt to make my kids smile too. 

Besides the fact that they're most knowledgable about bagging techniques (squaring off boxes, not too many canned goods in one bag, "crushables" seperate, etc.), they take the time to seperate my cold stuff from non-cold stuff and THEN bag that cold stuff in paper bags versus plastic.  And just when I'm about to wrangle up my wild banchees and heave that buggy to my truck, they ask, "Would you like some help out with that?" 
Oh.  Absolutely.  Yes. 

So here's to making what could be a hair-pulling, Mama-yelling-at-the-kids complete and totally embarrassing experience into a rather peaceful experience. 

I'm thankful for you Mr. (or Ms.) Grocery Bagger - You totally make my day!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 23

Today, I'm grateful for this little blog.

Does anyone really care about the sillyness that goes on in my family?  Quite frankly, no. 

My good friend (and amazingly talented photographer) Jennifer, inspired me about a year ago to start a blog.  She is "Blog Queen" and I love reading about The Days I'll Remember
**Hop over there a check her out!**

So, after going back and forth for some time, I decided to just go with it.  Not for anyone else, but for me.

I struggle a lot with living and enjoying the here and now and if there's anything that forces me to stop and catch my breath, it's this blog.  And for that, I am unbelievably grateful. 

I look just over the past 10 months or so and the memories captured and things Harrison has said and it blesses me that I took a few minutes to write that into memory.  There is no way my little pea-brain would have been able to retain those moments otherwise. 

My hope is that when my boys are grown and have this little blog in print, they will see the story of their lives.  And more importantly, they will see that God is woven into every moment of every day.  HE is the one writing their story and childhood is but one chapter in that book.

Bountiful Blessings Day 22

Today, I'm grateful for a clean house. 
Probably sounds petty to other folks, but how wonderful a feeling to:

a.)  Wake up to a sparkling clean house.  Or,
b.)  Come home to a sparkling clean house.

With little rugrats and their seemingly constant messes, that "sparkling clean house" doesn't stay "sparkling and clean" for very long...unfortunately.  Over my years as keeper of my house, I've learned to let the little stuff go.  Way back before children, I used to make myself silly keeping up house.  (No doubt I probably also made my husband silly in the meantime.)  I can remember something as little as a pair of boots by the door (and not in the closet where they belonged) or dirty socks on the bathroom floor (and not in the hamper where they belonged) would set me off.  I would feel like all my hard work was useless because no one (ahem...my better half) would keep it clean.

For goodness sake, I've learned to let go of a lot of that.  Not to say that I never clean anymore.  Part of my evening routine is to do a quick sweep of the house and put away toys, dirty clothes, etc.  Harrison has his own "chores," including picking up his room at the end of the day and making his bed in the morning.  On average, I probably squeeze in a good deep clean every 10 days or so....and, oh how I wish it was more often than that.  I've got better things to do -- being a Mama as number 1 -- than make myself crazy keeping a perfect house. 

I have often warned friends and family that if they ever drop by unannounced (don't get me wrong -- I love unannounced company!), don't expect a perfect house.  Expect a lived-in house, because that's what goes on here!

Bountiful Blessings - Day 21

(Super duper busy these past few days...so I'll be catching up Days 21 through 23 this morning!)

On this day, I'm grateful for my little sewing machine.  And I guess not so much just for the machine itself, but for the ability to use it.  Though not a pro by any means, I find that the more projects I complete, the more confidence I gain in my abilities.  Plus, it's my "release."  Generally when I find time to sew, it's when my kids are asleep or I have a few hours to myself and can crank something out.  That quiet time is precious and much-needed.

It is amazing to me how plain ole fabric right off the bolt can be transformed into something practical and useful...and sometimes even cute!  No matter how much stitching I do, this plain and simple fact gets me every time.

Can't help but think how God works the same way.  He takes plain old me -- right off the bolt -- and cuts and trims and stitches to refine me into something practical and useful for His kingdom.  Except that the process takes a bit longer with me as compared to a few hours with a bit of fabric and a sewing machine.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 20

Day 20 already??  So it is.

Today, I'm grateful for night shift.  And please know, it has taken me a long while to come to terms with night shift and -- therefore -- be grateful for it.

As many of you know, my husband works a night shift and has been doing so for nearly 2 years.  This was something he (or should I say, "we") wanted to do.  He knew in order to be promoted out of his prior position, it would require him putting in some time on the night shift.  The first 4 months or so weren't bad.  Brig wasn't born yet, so it was just me and Harrison and we quickly got into our own little groove during the week.  Then more months came and Brig was born and I was slammed with the sheer exhaustion that is taking care of two kids (one of which was only days old) by myself.  Justin would come home in the morning and go right to bed.  It seemed like he'd wake up in enough time to eat supper and then be gone again.  Never have I felt so alone and in desperate need of a break than during those early months.  But eventually, the three of us got into a new groove and each day was easier.  Now, we're to the point that it's nothing.  Though, I will say that by the time Friday rolls around, I am SO happy to greet it because it means the end of Justin's work week and three precious days that he's all ours. 

Fast-forward to today... 

It's obvious to see that my love/hate attitude towards this night shift thing has come a long way.  I can see through the "what were we thinking?" part and realize we did what was right for our family (and it won't be forever...hopefully).  In comparison to the majority of fathers who work standard 9-to-5 hours, Justin's night shift enables him to spend more quality time during the day with our boys than those with "banker's hours."  No, he's not there for hectic cranky bath/bedtime routine, but he spends hours with them in the afternoon that's true quality time...whether it be playing outside, walking in the woods, or messing around in the garage.  AND the best part is that he has 3 whole days off every weekend. 

In the beginning, I dealt with night shift by tellling myself it was better than him having no shift, but now I'm actually to the point where I'm grateful for it.  It may sound odd to others, but it works for us.  Not to say, I won't be grateful with night shift isn't a part of our lives any longer...

In due time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 19

Today, I'm grateful for thrift stores.  Yes, I said thrift stores. 

Blame it on the cheap-o that I truly am at my core...blame it on my love for all things old...blame it on the sheer joy of finding something perfect with tiny little price tag...blame it on whatever -- they make me happy. 

I must say that strange looks come my way when people find out how much I love to thrift shop.  I can read them like a book. 
They're thinking, "Really?  Do people even go to thrift stores any more??" 
Oh, yes.  This girl does.

BUT, let me say that I'm a bit of a thrift store/yard sale/estate sale snob.  I will not buy a ratty old T-shirt just for the plain and simple fact that it's $0.50.  That's not savvy shopping...that's stupid.  AND, I have to be in the "thrifting mood."  If there's one huge downfall to thrifting, it's that it's totally hit or miss.  One really great trip makes up for 2 or 3 not-so-great trips. 

I would say my love (and hence, my gratitude) for thrift stores stems from a love to shop in general.  I even love to grocery shop.  Seriously.  Justin swears I just get this high from handing people money.  (For the record, he's completely exaggerating.)

Over the years -- lots and lots of years -- I've come across some really great deals.  The best part is that 99% of folks would have never guessed it was something snagged from a thrift store.  I would encourage you if you have a few hours to spare (really, nearly no one has a "spare" few hours), venture into a thrift store and dig around.  
I can bet you'll be pleasantly surprised.   

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bountiful Blessing - Day 18

Today, I'm grateful for blogs.  Not just my blog (though I am grateful for it), but I'm grateful for the host of blogs that I follow.  Some are crafting and sewing, some are fashion, some are spiritual, and some are about just about life.  They inspire me and encourage me every day when I log on for some reading.

I would encourage you to search out a blog or two and follow them.  It's so easy through Google/Blogger.  Just sign up with a Google account (or create one) and you can add blogs to follow simply by clicking the "Add" button and copying the URL.  Super duper easy. 

Below is a short list of a few of the blogs that I follow regularly, a list that I literally add to each day.  They are in no particular order but alphabetical, thanks to my OCD tendencies.  Enjoy!

A Sacred Journey - A reflective blog; one that I would categorize as spiritual.  Features reminders that life is short and to live, laugh and love every day.

Deb's Everyday - A mix of sorts; one that I would categorize just about life.  Deb is hilarious and some posts are reflective and spiritual and other posts are just for fun. 

Fab Finds Under $50 - This blog is about fashion...cheap fashion - Hence the name.  Being the thrifty gal I am, this is one of my favorites.

Make It and Love It - By far another favorite blog!  Mostly crafty/sewing things, but she also features recipes, tips on home decor, and such.

Pioneer Woman - Holy smokes, this gal is Super-Woman!  She's a fabulous writer, cook, photographer, homeschool mom, homemaker, gardener, and woman of God.  She's my idol!

Presser Foot - Yet another sewing/crafting blog.  Great ideas on high-fashion looks and sewing resources for apparel.

Slippery Tiger Tales - A blog about life with twin preschoolers.  Enough said.  :)

The Days I'll Remember - I have a special place in my heart for this little (well, not little anymore) blog.  Jennifer of TDIL actually inspired me to start blogging.  She's the Mama of two boys (much like myself), lives in the middle of cows (much like myself) with her country-fried husband (much like myself), and loves the Lord (much like myself). 

Bountiful Blessings Day 17

(I know, I know...a day behind.  Yesterday was exhausting, so I'm catching up yet again.)

Two days ago, I wrote that I am grateful for answered prayer.  Today, I'm grateful for unanswered prayer. 

It comes as no surprise to many that my Type A, OCD-ish personality likes to be in control.  Well, truthfully, loves to be in control.  And when I'm not in control, it's not pretty.  So, in my futile attempts to control everything -- my job, husband, children, family members, friends, and sadly even my God -- I've prayed over it all.  BUT, not in the humble and reverent spirit God calls me to have, but more of that ugly "do it my way God" spirit.  I'll say it again - It's not pretty. 

Looking back at particular situations, it makes me laugh that at the time I actually thought I was doing God a favor.  Like just maybe He didn't see all aspects of the situation like I did.  Seriously?  We're talking the same God who "has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand...and with the breadth of His hand marked off the heavens...who has held the dust of the earth in a basket...and weighed the mountains on the scales and the hills in a balance."  (Isaiah 40:12)

Though those situations cause me to spontaneously chuckle as I look back, it's also another lesson in humbless.  The plain and simple fact that as best as I try...
I.  Am.  Not.  In.  Control.  Period. 

That being said, I am grateful for those unanswered prayer.  Times when God saw through my foolishness (yet again) and took the higher road...literally. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 16

"Hear my prayer, LORD; listen to my cry for mercy.  
When I am in distress, I call to you because you answer me." 

Today, I'm grateful for answered prayer. 
(And unanswered ones too, but that's for another day...) 

Just within the last two months or so, before I sit down with my Bible in the mornings, I started to take a minute and write down 3 or 4 praises to God.  Either ways He had sorted out a particular situation or grace He had granted in dealing with a difficult person or just simply answered prayer...on the large scale and the small scale.  After writing down a few praises, I began taking another minute or so and writing down a few prayer requests...needs that I had, worries about my children, lifting friends and family members up. 

Why I hadn't thought to do this until recently I don't know??

But, most amazing through something so simple as taking a note, is that after the first week of doing this, I could go back in my notebook (kudos to all you fancy schmancy journal keepers.  Mine's just a plain-Jane spiral notebook) and see rock-hard evidence of answered prayer - Every.  Single.  Day. 

It seems for me that it only takes one little thing in my life to go awry and not according to my plan, and everything else quickly gets off-kilter.  Just by glancing back a few pages in my notebook, I can see God's hand working in my life and my faith is quickly restored. 

The Bible says, "Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see." (Hebrews 11:1).  Just a quick reminder of answered prayer gets my faith (confidence) back in check. 

I would encourage you that if you're feeling like God's forgotten you to take a minute and write down a few things you're grateful for and then write down a few needs.  Deliver these in prayer to the Lord and in no time at all, you're faith will be restored. 

"...a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation; the one who trusts will never be dismayed."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 15

Today, I'm grateful for technology.  I know, I know, it sounds silly.  But I'm happy that technology makes my life easier. 

The ease of internet (especially wireless internet) and a portable laptop gives me the ability not only to work from home, but to work on my back porch on a sunny afternoon or to work in my big warm bed on cold nights. 

That same internet and laptop enable me to keep us this little blog, which is something I love to do and something my children will be grateful I took the time to do.

Email and Facebook (yes, even Facebook) gives me the ability reconnect and stay in touch with friends from childhood and from high school that I've lost contact with.  It also helps me stay connected with family who don't live close by. 

Not to say that all technology is helpful, but you have to take the bad with the good.  Knowing the bad and keeping yourself in check is what's important -- it's too easy to fall into a pit where our "computer time" becomes an idol.  An idol?  Anything that comes before the Lord is an idol.  So, yes, an idol.

I have struggled with this just from something simple as my cell phone.  Not to say I'm not grateful for my little iPhone and all the ways it makes my life easier, but there was a point where I was finding myself constantly checking my phone.  I had to make it a point to either turn my phone off or just put it in my bag and leave it there.  After a few days of that, I didn't struggle so much. 

So, put down your phone, close up your computer and go love on your babies!

Bountiful Blessings - Days 14

**Yet again, Day 14 was Sunday and didn't catch the Bountiful Blessings, so it's combined with today.

Bountiful Blessings - Day 14

"And God spoke all these words:...Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy."

I'm grateful for Sunday.  That single day of the week especially made for rest, refreshment and reflection.  God's Word specifically says to set aside this day for worship and for rest.  Even God rested on the seventh day after six days of creation. 

The excerpt above is taken from the Ten Commandments, commandment number 4 actually.  I cannot say that I've always remembered the Sabbath day and kept it holy.  Too often in my hurried life, I find myself spending my Sunday "catching up" rather than devoting it to the Lord.  If it's not real work, it's a long list of housework, outside chores, and projects needing to be finished that take over my precious time. 

I really struggle with laying those things aside - Sadly, I have to force myself to rest. 

What have we become when our very Creator commands us to do something seemingly so easy, but we bluntly do the opposite? 

That being said, every Sunday is a fresh start to make it right.  I know from experience that my week goes so much smoother when I truly take a day and devote it to worship and rest.  It makes my heart happy to roll out of bed and start my day at church.  It makes me feel even better to end my day at church.  A long nap in between is just icing on the cake! 

So, take a minute today and thank God for giving us Sunday.  Then make it a point to give yourself a "time out" next Sunday and devote it to rest. 

I sure am.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 13

"And I will put My Spirit in you and move you to follow
My decrees and be careful to keep My laws." 

Today, I'm grateful for the conviction of the Holy Spirit in my life.  Our church has just completed week 1 of a 2-week revival summit with Life Action Ministries.  To be quite honest, when we were prepared months back about this revival, I had the wrong attitude from the beginning.  I thought, "2 weeks!  What kinda revival goes on for 2 weeks??!"  And things like, "They (the pastorial staff) expect us to 'keep our schedules open' for an entire 2 week period??  I can't do that - I've got too many things going on!  Do they not realize we have children and babies who need their sleep?"  And even, "Those people (the revival team) are just gonna pull in here and take over everything?  I mean - Are they even background checked??" 
It was ugly...really, really ugly.
Enter the Holy Spirit. 
After our first session Sunday morning, Christ was convicting me big-time to get over myself - seriously.  I was even sitting there that morning during the service thinking to myself, "Hmmm...So-and-So needs to hear this."  "I wish So-and-So were here - they need this."  It didn't take long for God to say, "Ummm...No, actually YOU need this.  Let Me worry about everyone else." 
Many of the truths this week have been hard to swallow because they've hit me hard.  I see many, many holes in my life where I'm not glorifying God to the best of my abilities. 
But oh, thank you Jesus, for grace.  Grace that sees beyond my (many) faults and grants me another chance...and another and another. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 12

Yes, I know I'm posting this a bit early, but tomorrow (actually day 12) is jam-packed so I'm seizing the opportunity today...  And I'm keeping this short & sweet since it's quite late!

Today, I am grateful for church. 

When I think of the thousands and men and women throughout history who have died just because of their desire for church, I am convicted about the many, many times I have taken church for granted.  You know that "Casual Christianity"....yeah, that's been me. 

The Bible clearly calls us as Christians to corporate worship; time to fellowship and edify each other by assembly ourselves together, all while glorifying the name of God - our ultimate purpose. 

My family has been so very blessed by the outpouring of kindness and genuine love over the past 6+ years that we have attended Raiford Road Church.  And even greater than a body of amazing folks is the team of pastors who lead that body without fear.

God is doing great things in the midst of our congregation as of late.  I'm proud to raise my children in a church where they are loved and adored and accepted.   

Bountiful Blessings - Day 11

"A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies...  She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands...  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.  She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks." 

Today, I'm grateful for my job.  And more than that, I'm grateful that my careeer allows me to work from home.  The Lord has always blessed me with flexible work situations and His ultimate blessing is the opportunity to work from home.

In an ideal world, all Mama's would freely be able to stay at home and not have to work, but in today's world that's just not a reality for many . 

After Harrison was born, I had to opportunity to return to work (in an office setting) on a part-time basis.  Though leaving him to return to work was the most difficult thing I've had to do (and something I regret almost daily), I considered myself lucky to only be part-time.  At the time, I would tell myself, "Staying at home would be perfect, but working part-time is the next best thing." 

Over the past 2+ years that I've been working from home, I've had to rephrase that statement.  I'd say working from home is the next best thing. 

Though working from home is much, much more challenging than any 9-to-5 in an office, the benefits of working from home totally outweigh those challenges. 

Justin and I have been blessed financially over the past year or so to the point that it's not as much of a necessity for me to work anymore.  And to be honest, there are many days that I just want to quit.  BUT, I have to keep my mind in the future.  I know once my children are older and in school, I will need to work to keep me sane.  So - I keep doin' what I'm doin'....which though I complain a little too much about it, really isn't all that bad!

I feel like I share a different relationship with Brig because I didn't have to rush back to work when he was a newborn like I did with Harrison.  I've been able to watch him grow and change and learn on a day-to-day full-time basis, not just on days off and weekends.  And for that, I am beyond grateful.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 10

Day 10...double digits already people!  This month is flying by.

"Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."  -- John 15:13

Today, I am grateful for my girlfriends.  What would I do without these girls?  These Godly women who inspire me, lift me up when I'm dragging, let me be "real" (even though it's pretty ugly), be my Advisory Board, cry with me and laugh with me.  Wait...more often than not, they laugh at me! 

No need to name names, these girls know who they are.  More often than not, without even without saying a word, their witnesses shine and they make my day without even knowing it.  Many of us face different challenges in our day to day lives and even our personalities vary widely; but our friendship remains.  I need these girls to be different from me to show me things from an alternate angle.  How boring would my life be if every one of my friends acted, talked and walked just like me?  I need their variety as much as I need their loyalty.

It had already been on my mind that I was going to write about my friendships today and whatd'ya know??  The devotional I studied this morning was about friendship; specifically compared David and Jonathan's friendship with how we should interact in our intimate friendships. 

I love these girls and only hope I can be the friend in return to them that they are to me. 
You know who you are and I am beyond blessed to be your friend!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 9

" 'Honor your father and mother'--which is the first commandment with a promise--that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth." 

On day 7 (actually posted yesterday with day 8), I wrote that I am grateful for being raised in a Godly home with Godly parents.  Today, I'm grateful for my in-laws.  Who out there can actually say they're grateful for their in-laws??  Me! 

Back on day 4, I wrote how blessed I am for a Godly husband.  That Godly husband is a product of his Godly parents and I am truly blessed to know them.  Having had them in my life for 10+ years, they have seen me grow and mature into wifehood and motherhood (not that I'm fully blossoming there yet...work in progress) in all it's stages...the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I'm not proud of the way I've always acted towards them over the years, but now that I have children of my own, I'm seeing little by little that living in peace is crucial and--more importantly--is what God has commanded.  (See Ephesians 6:2-3 above).

Though I haven't always agreed with everything my in-laws do, I am positive they haven't always agreed with things I've done.  And that's okay because but beyond that, I am still grateful for them.  They are so very good to me and really don't even have to be.  I can honestly say I love and cherish them the same way I do my very own flesh and blood and consider them my "family." 

Everyone knows that their parents turn to mush when those grandbabies come along.  I can honestly say my in-laws were good to me before I ever gave them grandsons (two of the cutest, sweet-souled boys I know!).  Beyond their goodness to me, they are good to my children.  What's better than Godly parents pouring themselves into their children?  Godly grandparents pouring themselves into their grandchildren!  AND my boys are blessed boys to have two sets of those!

Thank you, Mr. Randy & Ms. Joy, for your advice (whether we wanted it or not), goodness, and support over the years.  My hope is to honor you with the same love and respect. 

Photos courtesy of J. Higginbotham Photography

Monday, November 8, 2010

Bountiful Blessings Day 7 and 8

Playing catch-up today.  Yesterday was Sunday and I rarely even open my computer on a Sunday, so I'm catching yesterday's bountiful blessing today. 

Bountiful Blessings - Day 7

I'm grateful for the opportunity to grow up in a Godly home with two Godly parents.  Though our family structure has changed over time and all my growing years weren't blissful, the values and love I experienced as a child was invaluable and I attribute most of that to who I am today.  (Not that I'm perfect...work in progress.) 

I'm happy to provide a similar atmosphere with my family.  I just recently finished reading "Bringing Up Boys" by Dr. James Dobson and I would highly recommend it for any Mama of a boy or boys.  In the beginning of the book, Dr. Dobson lays out the alarming statistics in relationship to boys in today's world.  Most alarming to me were the statistics of boys that did not grow up in a stable home with two parents and the percentage of those boys who commit crime, fill our state prisons, and bring more children into this world under their same value system.  It is sad.  Though Christ layed the foundations for family long ago, these statistics show how greatly in need of a "rebirth" in American families. 

And day 8 works into this....

Bountiful Blessings - Day 8

I am grateful for a home.  Not a house, (though I am grateful for that) which is something you buy.  I'm grateful for a home.  "Home" is a feeling of love and joy and rest.  A place where you're wanted.  Though the structure that compiles our house has changed over recent years, I am happy that our home has remained the same.  Here is a sweet anecdote from my Harrison of just how much he loves home.  There truly is "no place like home." 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 6

Yesterday, I wrote that I am grateful for my children and devoted that day to my oldest.  BUT, today is all about Brig!  We refer to him as "the baby," but he probably won't always be the youngest.  For now, he's "the baby."

Whereas Harrison is my inquisitive and rambunctious child, Brigdon is my observer.  He's quiet and soft-spoken.  I tend to think as he gets older, he'll be my "Mama's boy" -- and that's quite all right by me!  Though he's just shy of 1-year-old and still has plenty of growing to do, I cherish his sweet spirit for the time being.  He's been lovingly nicknamed "Smiley" by so many people, because he is nearly always smiling.  No need to goof off making silly faces or funny noises for him to crack a smile; all you have to do is look at him and that gummy grin spreads ear-to-ear.  Speaking of ears, I adore those too.  They're not overly large, but they do protrude a bit and I think it bothers his Daddy more than anyone else.  Recently I was browsing through a box of old baby pictures of myself and came across a few in my bald-headed baby days and ya know what?  I had those same slightly protruding floppy ears... Even more reason to love Brig's!

His first name, Brigdon, is a name that Justin and I sort of came up with on our own.  Funny thing is, we don't even think he knows that's what his name is because of the dozen or so nicknames we call him instead.  Brig, Briggy, Brigster, Booney, Booney-Bear, Brig-A-Boo, Stinky and/or Stink (courtesy of big brother), Boon-Dawg, B-Rig, Brig-Doe.  And even funnier is that he responds to every single nickname, but call him by his true name -- Brigdon -- no response.  He seriously doesn't even realize that's his name. 

On a more serious note, his middle name, David, is in memory of my dad -- a Papa my little Brig will never meet this side of heaven.  I see many, many traits of my dad in both my children and am proud that Brig carries Daddy's name.  David was also God's most beloved; "a man after God's own heart."  My prayer is that as my sweet boy grows into a (hopefully still sweet) man, he'll still be seeking God's heart. 

Brigdon, meet your Mama

So tiny

First Easter

Briggy & Bubs

First beach day

Sweet sugar

This boy l.o.v.e.s. the water!

Neither of them look too happy here...salt water + sun in the eyes = no smiles

Mama loves you Sweet Briggy Boo!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 5

Day 5:  I am beyond blessed by my children, both of them. 
But, for the sake of 30 days, I'm devoting this day to Harrison Reid, my firstborn.

I distinctly remember that muggy morning, June 21, 2010 just before 10:00 a.m., when God made me a Mama.  My, oh my, how my life changed the very second I layed eyes on him.  (Just so you know, I'm already blinking back tears...)

He is a true "boy's boy" if there ever was one -- adoring all things trucks, dirt, tractors, and especially mud.  This little blog is filled (and will continue to be filled) with silly anecdotes he says and the crazy things he does.  He brings so much laughter and joy to our home; we couldn't imagine our lives without him in it.  The day he was born, he made us "family." 

His name -- Harrison Reid -- explains him so well.  "Harrison" is a spinoff of my surname, Harris, and "Reid" is Justin's middle name as well as many generations before him.  This totally sums him up because he is such a mix of both Justin and I. 

His looks and personality and livelihood are completely Justin (and anyone who has ever saw the 2 of them would agree 100%), while his go-getter attitude and his mannerisms and his OCD compulsiveness are completely me.  I could devote an entire post to our OCD-ness and probably should one day just for fun... We thrive off of the same routine day after day; we eat our food one thing at a time; if our clothes/items for the next day aren't arranged beforehand, the whole day is off-kilter; we cannot function without breakfast and that breakfast is the first thing on our minds when our feet hit the floor; on and on it goes.

Above all, My Harrison loves the Lord - even at his young age.  I pray he never loses sight of Him in his life and am excited for what God has in store for him. 

Mama loves you Boog-A-Loo!

The first time he held his baby brother Brig...so proud he is!

Our heart

He is an amazing Big Brother - and Brig adores him!

Chewing on his tongue, another trait from his Daddy.  They say it helps them concentrate...hmmm.

First United Methodist Preschool school picture - September 2010

Adores dirt in all it's forms, but most especially MUD!

Jolly, spunky boy with the cutest cowlick, creamy skin, bright blue eyes, and a splattering of freckles.  (Minus the burn on his chin in this pic...someone got a little too close to the stove which shows all that sweetness comes with a good dose of mischief as well)

That smile totally makes my day...every day!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The cast comes off!

Finally after what seems like an insane amount of time in our broken arm adventure (in all actuality it was only 2+ months), Harrison got his cast off today! I don't know who was more excited, him or me. Mama was ready to see that smelly thing go! Harrison knew we'd be picking him up early from school today for his appointment at the "bone doctor." When I got there to pick him up, he had already informed the entire class where he was going and he'd have his arm "good as new" tomorrow. He did super at the orthopedist and the bone looked great. We even had lunch at "Walkin' Moe's" to celebrate. It really is "good as new!"

Sent from my iPhone

Bountiful Blessings Day 4

"Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies.  He who loves his wife loves himself.  After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of His body."

Day 4 of Bountiful Blessings...

I am indescribably grateful for my husband, Justin.  Grateful that God set him out for me before I was ever even conceived.  He saw my future and he was me building a life with this man.  He is a man who loves to hunt and to fish and to mudbog, but rarely gets time to because he's busy being a Dad.  He is a man who put himself on a ridiculous night shift and works so very hard to better provide for his family.  He is a man who wakes up most weekday afternoons exhausted from that night shift to care for his boys so that I can work.  He is a man who has put up with his difficult wife much more than he should have to.  He is man who gives and gives to his friends, whether or not those friends only call him when they need something.  Above all, he is a Godly man and I can think of no one better to head our household and partner with me in raising our children. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - Day 3

"They came to Him and said, “Teacher, we know that You are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because You pay no attention to who they are; but You teach the way of God in accordance with the truth.  Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?  Should we pay or shouldn’t we?”   Then Jesus said to them, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.  And they were amazed at Him."

Today's day number 3 of November's Bountiful Blessings. 

I'm thankful for the right to freely cast my vote to elect the leader's of this country -- on the small scale and on the large scale.  Freedom and the rights that come with it is something neverheard of in many other countries and something that I take for granted at times. 

With yesterday being Election Day, this right has been on my mind.  The freedom we experience every day in this country is because of nothing a single politician has done...or ever will do - but solely because God has blessed the U.S.A.  Sadly, those politicians (and voters as well) have let those Christian values that were the soul of this country fall to the wayside. 

In my opinion, I'm happy to see Republican leadership at the wheel to steer this country back in the right direction...as best as possible. 

I read this status of a Facebook friend today and thought it summed Election Day up perfectly.  It read:  "I am thankful the 'conservative, tea partiers' showed up to vote!!! You can keep the change ;)"

Good stuff. 

[Thanks KW!]

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Bountiful Blessings - What are You "Grape-ful" For?

There's a little fun thing traveling the Facebook world for the month of November that focuses on "Bountiful Blessings."  The goal is to post one thing for each day of the month that you're grateful for. 

Who needs a reminder about how blessed they are??  Sadly, it's me.  I get so caught up in the day-to-day rat race of life that I so very often miss those blessings in disguise.  Honestly, if I made it a mission to sit down and write a list of the things I'm grateful for, it would probably be a book but I still struggle a lot with living in the here-and-now, or being enternally-minded.  The things of this world -- AKA 98% of that day-to-day rat race of life -- is only temporary.  I'm blessed beyond measure, but still constantly have to dig myself out of the mindset where I forget.

That being said, I'm quite excited to kick off Bountiful Blessings here on my little blog!  So, today is November 2 and I'm now a day behind on Bountiful Blessings.  Is this not so typical of me?  "A day late and a dollar short," I can remember my Daddy saying and it's something I repeat a lot. 

Day 1 - Bountiful Blessings:

I am grateful for My Jesus.  Talk about writing a book?  There's a whole study worth of goodness from just that one name - Jesus.  Jesus is the greatest gift I've ever received and one that I could never reciprocate.  (AND today is my birthday -- quite fitting, huh?)

Day 2 - Bountiful Blessings

This ties in with day 1...I'm grateful for God's grace.  Grace that forgives me time and time again over the same things that constantly trip me up.  And, oh, it's a laundry list:  Pride, jealousy, covetness...and goes on.  I sometimes catch myself disciplining Harrison and saying, "Why do I have to keep getting onto you for doing the same thing over and over??"  All the while, the Holy Spirit's dealing with me and saying the exact same thing.  Except that grace doesn't demand discipline - it forgives regardless of the crime. 

Partly related to this Bountiful Blessings stuff:  Harrison was supposed to choose 3 things that he's grateful for and take pictures of those things to school with him today for a special project.  After explaining to him what it meant to be grateful and what blessings were, he told me, "So I need a picture of us (meaning me & Justin) and a picture of Briggy and a picture of Tiny ("Tiny" is Tyler, his cousin and BFF).  Those are vangs I'm grape-ful for." 

What are you "grape-ful" for?