Sunday, August 28, 2016

Love Your Spouse Challenge: Days 1 - 7

It's been a looooong time since I've posted, but a wise friend suggested I place all of my Facebook "Love Your Spouse Challenge" days here on my blog, so that I could have them "out there" and save them.  So, here they are!

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #1

So, I’ve been asked by 2 different people to do the Love Your Spouse Challenge. I’ve seen mixed reviews about what people think about this, so I had tried to kind of stay away from it LOL. Some people think it’s totally awesome and want to do it, and some people are against and think it’s like showing that your life is perfect. So...when the second person tagged me to do it, I thought, Okay, well, I can do it my own way...right? And if you know me personally, you know I’m pretty authentic. I won’t vomit any business out here in Facebook land, but I will be real. Marriage is hard. We just celebrated 13 years, and I would say 9 of them have been happy LOL. The first ones were rough, and we had some big time stuff to deal with. We almost lost it in 2007, but by God’s grace and a lot of counseling, we pressed on. And let me tell you, if took both of us – both of us totally humbling ourselves to try to learn and seek God and stop addictions and bad habits and learn new beliefs that were actually TRUE about ourselves, individually. So, that’s my disclaimer. I want to participate in the challenge, but I want everyone to perfection here. Struggles sometimes. Rough nights sometimes. Sometimes crying. Sometimes total intimacy that God completely intended for marriage. I wouldn’t trade the bad stuff we’ve been through, but at the time, it really did feel like death to me. But, guess what? It brought life. More life than I could have imagined.’s Day #1 of the Love Your Spouse Challenge. We look so young cutting this cake. I remember I was afraid Landon would smash my bite in my face, but he didn’t. I was so naive about marriage, and bless it, who isn’t?? I thought it was going to be a fairy tale. Looking back at our wedding day brings so much joy to see what we’ve made it through. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow, but today, God has sustained us, and I want to keep walking! My dress was beautiful, ya’ll! And my wedding rings – I would pick the same of almost everything today (well, except about 9 million things that I would change LOL). I will never forget our looooong vows, and Billy Joy doing our wedding, and David Wise and Christy Wise Descoteaux singing, and Jennifer Ritter Moore singing. It was total perfection in my mind. Such a wonderful and sweet day. Even spending our first night in new our home together – even if the car did drop us off and we were locked out of our house. Landon Frymire, I would choose it all again...I would choose YOU again. Here’s to unperfect, blessed, God-graced marriage.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #2

I have a confession to make. I was a weeeeee bit controlling when we first got married. And by that I mean, I really, really thought I was Holy Spirit to Landon. I mean, don’t I look godly??! I wanted to tell him EVERYTHING to do; I wanted to change that man – shape him up to be who I married. Thumbs up. Great idea. I remember one night while I was showering (because I’m a night shower-er), I could hear something in the kitchen. Turned out, when I went in to investigate - Landon decided to get ice cream while I was getting a shower because he knew I wouldn’t approve of his ice cream eating. By the time I was finished in the shower, he had washed the bowl and put it back in the cabinet as if nothing had ever happened. Oh yes. This is a great marriage – you can’t even get a bowl of ice cream without your wife being on you about it. Holy Spirit is a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it...right?? Wrong. I created an environment in my home that made it unsafe for my husband to be himself. Unsafe for him to make mistakes. To try and fail. To confess wrongs. And trust me because now I know, that’s not a good environment. It’s a GREAT environment to foster wearing a constant mask and hiding big stuff that later WILL come out and be a complete disaster. Looking back, I wonder what would have happened if I had been a safe person from the beginning. But, we all have a journey to take, and this was part of mine. And, remember that being safe does NOT mean being a doormat – it doesn’t mean accepting abuse or not living with boundaries – it just means being a balance of truth and grace living and actually letting GOD do His own Holy Spirit job. Good idea, huh?

This picture is from July of 2008. We were celebrating our 5th anniversary at the Sundial in Atlanta. We had been living in Atlanta then (in Woodstock) for 2.5 years. We had been through a lot in that past year. In fact, we’d been through a lot since we were married. Soon after we were married, Landon felt a call to ministry, and I felt that too. With some great wisdom and incredible God stories, we moved to New Orleans for Landon to go seminary. 3 months later, we lost our home in Hurricane Katrina. Had no clue what to do. Moved back home for a semester. In the fall of 2005, we met Pastor Johnny Hunt and were introduced to Woodstock, and that forever changed us. Because of the mentoring opportunity Landon had with Pastor Johnny, he completed seminary remotely in Atlanta and in the middle of 2007, right in the middle of his mentoring year, we nearly lost our marbles (and by that I mean our marriage). God had sovereignly placed us where we were – a safe environment for help and counseling and groups when a big mess came out – and we fought for it and we learned and we made it. We began to learn what a marriage meant. So, by the time we took this picture in 2008, we were looking hopeful. Genuinely hopeful at our life. So, here we are at the Sundial. 5th anniversary. A broken man and a broken woman looking to Jesus for our identities and counting on Him for the Plan. And, that’s still what we’re doing. I learned that the real Landon is the one I really love. The real one – who leaves clothes on the floor sometimes, and forgets his stuff once in a while, and has some real struggles. Guess what...just like ME (gasp). The real Landon who I now intimately know and love – his deep thoughts and feelings, and his greatest loves and hopes and dreams, and fears. And you know, it was worth it. I don’t know what the future holds. Beats me. But I know I’ll make it because when I thought I would die almost 10 years ago, I didn’t. I made it. And Father became more real to me than I had ever known He could be. And that is what living is about.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #3

Man, I love a vacation. Mainly the mountains. I love sitting out on the back porch drinking coffee in calmness and looking out over mountains (this is not possible when children are with you on a vacation). Oh yes, and I LOVE taking tours like a senior citizen. I am going to be the BEST senior citizen (which is coming quickly) and join my church’s senior citizen group so that I can take trips where we take tours. One of my favorite things to do with Landon is take some trips. If we were independently wealthy, I would have us on a trip somewhere all the time. We’ve been on some great trips. One that comes to my mind is a trip we took for our 1 year anniversary to Washington D.C. Before we married, my parents asked where I would like to go on a trip. My sister (the Sparklebaby, fun one of the family) would have chosen somewhere exciting. Where did I choose? Washington D.C. I had never been, and I really wanted to go. We had the best trip (except for when my mom got sick and had to throw up in a trashcan walking back to our hotel one night). So, when our 1st anniversary rolled around and we wanted to do something special, I learned that Landon had never been to Washington, and I wanted him to have the same experience – Grayline Tours and all. We packed our bags, and off we went – two little lovebirds, headed on their first real vacation (not counting our Carnival Cruise honeymoon which I should post about since I tried not to touch the shower curtain the whole time. Gross. Shudder). It wasn’t that fun. I mean, the tours were good. Always reliable, that Grayline. It was a little fun, sometimes. But, I had a cold at first, and then Landon got a cold, and he mostly slept during the Grayline tours while they were talking on the bus, and I mean...that made me MAD. Real MAD. I wanted him to hear all the historical information I heard the year before. But no...he kept accidentally falling asleep because he felt sick. After we had been there for a couple of days, we had both had enough. We got in a BIG fight in the hotel one night. We were arguing about what? I don’t know. Probably me complaining about him falling asleep on the Grayline bus. He offered (or maybe I offered?) to either put me on a plane back home or put himself on a plane back home. I can’t remember. But it wasn’t fun. I had all these grand romantic dreams of sitting outside the Lincoln Memorial like two patriotic Americans in love. You know what that’s called? An unrealistic expectation. Unrealistic expectations are my jam (is that cool to say? Does that make sense? I’m kind of dorky, but I want to say cool things like, “that’s my jam”, but I’m not sure if it has to be about a song for it to be your “jam”). I build up things in my mind like you would not believe. One thing I’ve learned in these 13 years...well, sometimes I’ve learned...I have to have realistic expectations.

I still love to travel with Landon, and I’ve learned (um, some) to tone down expectations. One of the most memorable trips we’ve ever taken – and probably will ever take – was our trip with Pastor Johnny to Israel in 2007. It was absolutely incredible. That’s the picture I’ve attached today – us standing in front of the garden tomb. I’ll NEVER forget Billy Goodwin singing “Arise My Love” in front of that tomb. We love to go to Gatlinburg to cabins together, always love to visit the Mouse, we’ve been on three cruises (long ago...), out to L.A., oh, and lest I forget...NYC. That’s one of our very favorites. I think we could actually live in NYC. Traveling is awesomely fun with someone you love to hang out with (as long as they don’t have a cold).

One more story about our trip to D.C. We’ve had this bad argument. It’s the middle of the night. We are sleeping...soundly. All of a sudden, someone is knocking on the door. Out of a dead sleep, I start yelling, “SOMEBODY’S IN HERE!” In my mind, this is what you say when you are in a restroom, and someone knocks on the door. I guess, in my sleeping stupor, I was trying to tell the killer/stranger/housekeeping that someone was in the hotel room, so go away. Well, Landon thought I was yelling that someone was in our room, and it scared him to death. I laugh and laugh thinking about how funny that was.

Marriage as a team is great. Marriage feeling isolated and alone just plain sucks. Unrealistic expectations have caused me to feel alone many times, when if I’d just been willing to embrace reality, and lighten up a little bit, we could have laughed and moved on. Next trip for us...I don’t know, Landon Frymire, what’s your dream? I’d love to go out west somewhere. But we’ll see...hopefully, we have plenty of years together to travel to lots of new and exciting places...with realistic expectations, of course.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #4

Man, having kids changes EVERYTHING. Not in a bad way...but if you were a regimented type person get to learn some lessons on flexibility. I remember trying to decide together if we were “ready” to have children. I had people say that if you wait until you are “ready”, you’ll never have children. I think that is somewhat true. We had James after being married for 7 years. We didn’t plan to wait that long (I only had us on the 5 year plan), but life circumstances prevailed, and that’s just the way it went. I was fortunate to get pregnant easily, not having a clue that I actually had some issues that would require a couple of surgeries before being able to get pregnant again about 5 years later. I remember looking at the pregnancy test and thinking, “Oh my goodness! I am too crazy to be a mother!” LOL. It’s been the most wonderful journey. A journey of learning soooo much more about who I am. Motherhood is a new piece to discover about your personality, how much capacity your heart has to love, and how fiercely your desire is to protect someone. James was the sweetest baby. We were thrilled when he was born (born early...I went into labor on Father’s Day night, and our parents drove all night to get to the hospital just in time for the C section), and watching him change and grow has been an incredible privilege. In the midst of just regular daily life, it sure is hard to juggle – husband, children, job, going to the bathroom, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry...I could continue for pages and pages of all “mom” responsibilities. One thing that I really, really struggle with is putting Landon above our kids. I wish I was writing this to say, YES! I got it figured out, and here’s how to do it!! But, I’m not. I’m writing as one tired momma, saying I know this is where I really fail most of the time. I feel guilty about it, and I just keep getting up and trying again. What I fear is waking up one day when our children our gone, and saying, “um, who are you again?” I want to fight to know Landon deeply despite being in this season where our children pull every last ounce of energy from us every day.

Most nights, once I get Silas in bed, then I move to James (if Landon is not already working on getting him to bed). After reading to James and praying with him, I tell him goodnight and leave his room. Sometimes it takes me what feels like forever in my exhaustion from the day to kiss him goodnight – he wants me to throw him on the bed, to try to kiss him and he tries to get away, he wants to to roll over at the last second when I try to kiss him, and do all that stuff over and over and over. Sometimes he grabs my head to keep me from getting away, and ya’ll, the truth is that sometimes I just want to bite him. He won’t let go, and I am D.O.N.E, and I have this urge to just bite him. Now, don’t worry, I’ve never bitten him, so no need to call law enforcement – just trying to convey how over it I am some nights. Even in the privilege of motherhood, exhaustion prevails. And then, I’m supposed to leave his room and be ready for the “wife” role. Caring about someone else more than myself when that’s all I’ve done all day, too. And you know what I really feel like? I wish I had rules. Commands. Don’t touch me. Nobody touch me. Not for one single reason. I need space. NOW. And lots of it, or I might bite you. I need to sit down. Alone. I need someone to get me some water and put it on the table by my chair. Did I mention please don’t touch me? Because at that point, I have to get started on my part time job that I do from home – and I work 3 or 4 hours, normally, each night, at least. I don’t feel the need for space every single night, but I do lots of nights. I love to wave to Landon across the room....hey, how are you?, how was your day?, hope it was good, don’t ask for me anything, I don’t want to help you with anything, I need space. But hey, that never created oneness, now did it? That only created two-ness. So, it’s a battle I fight in my mind. How to serve my husband best. How to put my needs aside. And Landon is awesome. He totally gets the season of life we are in. Heck, he’s exhausted too! He’s on the couch trying to do his work, too, even though he’s already worked all day. We are a tired mom and a tired dad. Yet, we know in our heads that intimacy is important – all kinds of intimacy.

The other night, we were climbing into bed, and Landon goes, “What’s this???” There was something dark brown raked all down the side of the bed – on his side. It was Silas’ banana chocolate chip muffin – the chocolate part – from where Silas has to grab onto the bed as hard as he can with his little fingers to pull himself up onto our tall bed. It cracked me up. I thought, yep, this is life. Landon said he could have a snack later if he woke up and needed some chocolate chips. I guess I need to change those sheets, huh?

Marriage is such a privilege – as is motherhood. And it’s a lot of work. A lot of investment. And I know that God gives a lot of grace. Grace for seasons of life. Grace for wanting to bite your kid. Grace for leaving the sheets on two days after you realized there was chocolate chip smashed down the side of your bed. Being Landon’s wife is a privilege, and sometimes when we once in a while sit together on the couch and eat dessert and watch Law and Order SVU, I feel settled and stable and grounded and reminded that this is where I want to be, and I’m willing to do the work. In this chocolate chip streaking, too long goodnight kissing season and the next.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #5

The boys are in bed, Landon is working on lesson plans for this new school week, and I have work to do. Oh, and I have a cold. I need some rest. Shoot, I need a vacation. Landon asked me tonight, “Do you ever think at any point in life you won’t feel stressed?” I said, “Maybe in retirement?” We laughed and went on, but it made me think how life is so much of what you focus on – if you focus on stressful things most of the time, then you are stressed most of the time. This is always, always a struggle for me. Always has been. I mean, haven’t we all been in a church service where the pastor asked us to bring our worries to the altar and leave them? I’ve left mine a million times and picked them back up. Every. Single. Time. Without. Fail.

Back in the fall of 2013, I was struggling with some health stuff. I began having heart palpitations that I knew were probably stress related, but they started to scare me. I couldn’t get a handle on it. I wore one of those heart monitors for 48 hours or so, and the results came back that I had PVC’s. Premature Ventricular Contractions. No big deal (unless they become a big deal), but one of the causes was stress. Our family had been going hard. We’d been dealing with church stuff, infertility/surgery stuff for me, James being in preschool, juggling my part time work, etc. We had not planned to take much time off for Thanksgiving, but as Thanksgiving drew near, we decided we really needed some family time. Some time to just get away and relax and recharge. After visiting my Granny down in Winter Haven over Thanksgiving, we headed to see Mickey Mouse. James had never been, and having grown up in Florida, Landon and I had been a ton of times and loved going as much as possible. We got a GREAT Costco deal (have I mentioned I crazy love Costco?), and stayed at a beautiful hotel. I remember us checking in on Saturday night, around 8:30pm-ish, and hauling our stuff up to our room. We busted into the room, and threw our stuff down. You know how funny kids are. James was checking it out, running all over the room (probably licking all the furniture before I could Lysol it), and then we heard a noise. Our hotel was shooting off fireworks, and guess what, they were right outside our window. We all laid down on the bed – facing the window. James in between us and our heads propped up on our hands. And all of sudden...I rested. I took the fireworks in. I only thought about fireworks. I glanced over, and I could see Landon watching them, and I could see James completely enamored by the fireworks, and I thought, “This is a really special moment. Remember it.” I wasn’t thinking about the church or my job or whether or not I was a good mom or a good wife or what James was going to have for lunch the next day, or what I needed to do to serve someone better - I just enjoyed something. I was actually in the moment.

Being in the moment is a struggle for me. In fact, being in the moment is such a struggle for me that years ago, a counselor told me I needed to “plan to be spontaneous”. That means you struggle with anything that is not planned ahead of time (AMEN and Can I get a witness??). That trip to Disney World was fabulous. We had an awesome time. Landon and I enjoyed the time together, and we enjoyed watching James discover everything DISNEY! We weren’t stressed, and it’s a great memory in my mind of a time when we really, really needed a break – some rest – physically and emotionally – and we got it. We were physically tired by the end of the trip, but I was mentally completely rejuvenated. It is a time I look back on now and remember. I don’t always have to push so hard. I don’t always have to have things figured out. It’s okay if I am not perfect sometimes. It’s even okay if someone doesn’t like me (GASP – I still have to repeat this one to myself often). And, it’s okay to rest. My best is good enough.

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #6

Almost the end of the challenge. As I think about BIG moments for us in our marriage, I would say a big one was when James became a Christian last year. We have talked with James about Jesus since he was born – I remember singing “Jesus Loves Baby James (instead of the little children)” over and over to him, and “Jesus Loves James this I Know” while rocking and rocking in his room during those midnight feedings. The house was so quiet and still in the middle of the night, and he would drink his milk, and I would pray and pray. I saw Jen Hatmaker’s FB post yesterday from where they took their oldest son to college. I cried reading her post. She just left him there. Left him at school. And that was it. That season is over and done. I can hardly take it. I immediately thought I should have another baby right away so that I could have one more baby here that would be left and go to college last, at least. But then I came to my senses and knew I shouldn’t decide to have another baby just so I’d have a few more years with another child at home. Well, I think I came to my senses, at least.

My children knowing Jesus is life to me. I want to hold those two little buddies so tight in my hands. I want to squeeze them and never, ever let them out of my sight. We were discussing a situation with a wise friend about letting go of your children to do something I thought, specifically, was risky and could be unsafe, and I actually said a cuss word. And ya’ll, I don’t say many cuss words. The helicopter is sometimes so loud hovering above my children that I can’t hear myself think! But at night, when I’m rocking Silas (still, because he lets me), I pray and pray. I pray that I will hold both my boys with open hands. I visualize my hands literally open and both of them sitting in my hands and me lifting them up to the Lord. I ask Him to do anything in their lives for His glory. To bring Him glory. To show His power and might. And I ask Him to bring me to my knees before Him – not my will, but His. I pray for their future wives (hopefully), and I pray that I wouldn’t make any choices in my life that would count me out of my children’s lives later. You never know. We are all one decision away from stupid.

Silas can’t say Jesus yet. We are working on it. He says “pay” when we pray at meals, and he says “men” when we finish for Amen. But he runs his mouth and eats during the whole prayer. Hey, one step at a time, right? James asks lots of questions. And I mean a lot. He’s asked questions about Jesus for a long time. Just about since he could talk. We’ve answered them, and let him take the lead. I remember last September when he began really asking more and more questions. We could see he was close to understanding. We sought the Lord deeply to ensure that it wasn’t us leading him. That he really was coming as a child; understanding as a child understands. And he did. And now, discipleship. That seems more difficult to me than the initial leading to Jesus. Leading by example – are you kidding me? I want my children to grow up and remember that when they got out of bed in the mornings as kids, their mom was sitting at the table reading her Bible. If they were gone from the house now, they wouldn’t have that memory, because I don’t do that. But it’s a desire I have. And I pray that I will make it a reality. The night that James told me he was ready to become a Christian, but he wanted to talk to Daddy about heart soared. It literally grew wings and flew around rejoicing.

I included the picture of the day he was baptized. What a celebration. To know that he will be with us forever and forever in heaven. And I’m sure a day will come where he will understand more and more and will come to a deeper understanding of what sin is and what Christ did for us and what that means as a young adult/adult. I pray we will continue to disciple him well. That God will give us the grace to meet James exactly where he needs it.

James also asks questions like, “Mom, does Dad get to see your chest?” And, I am not even joking. This was a conversation we had last week – one evening I was putting him to bed. I gotta pray for LOTS of wisdom for those kinds of conversations, too.

Having children is a privilege. Watching them with their Daddy is an unbelievable privilege. Landon is a great dad. He invests time with them, and not just time talking – hands on time, playing, wrestling, doing “man” stuff outside together, and talking to them about Jesus – on their level. There is no man I could have chosen for a husband that would have been a better dad for these two boys. Watching him with them makes me love him even more. I’m grateful for a life partner who is in agreement that Jesus is the most important thing we need to teach them – and when they grow up, I pray that they will say: I watched my parents follow Jesus. They didn’t just raise me in church; they raised me in Christ.

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – 3 John 1:4

Love Your Spouse Challenge Day #7

There was a year when I didn’t think I’d make it. A moment for me when my world stopped turning. When the little Barbie doll dream house I invented in my mind was crushed. I was numb. I went to work like a zombie. I vividly remember pulling my keyboard tray out and typing like a shell of a person without any feelings. I rode home in carpool. And then when I got home, I would fall apart. Every day. For months. I would cry in almost every room of the house. One night I cried out on the deck and it started pouring rain, and I didn’t even care. I cried and I cried and I cried, and when I didn’t think there were any tears left, I cried again. But God. But God intervened. But God redeemed. But God whispered that He had a plan for me. It wasn’t what I thought. It wasn’t what I signed up for, Lord knows. I thought if you prayed hard enough and tried to make good choices that nothing bad would happen to you. But that’s not the way a sin fallen world works. A sin fallen world mows you down until you don’t think you can get up. Until you cry in every room until you are hopeless and spent and exhausted. But God. Months passed. I began to feel more. Deep pain came sometimes, but sometimes I almost felt like myself. Counseling continued. Changes happened. Boundaries were set. Healing began. Humility reigned after recognizing pride. I was prideful. I was black and white regarding life but expecting not to be judged in a black and white way. Friends stood by. They held on tight and didn’t let go as we walked a dream crushing journey. The journey that led to death. But the journey that then, after death, led to life. Sound familiar? Jesus’ death led to life. Jesus’ death led to healing.

And you know what? I sat today – almost 10 years after the year I didn’t think I’d make it – and I cried in a counselor’s office. Not for the same reasons I cried all those years ago. I cried trying to explain to the counselor how proud I am of my husband. How incredible I think he is. How much I respect him. How in the last couple of years, I’ve watched him walk through adversity and trials and betrayal and difficult people – and we’ve been a team through that hurt. If we hadn’t been through the death and rebirth of our marriage those years ago, I don’t think we could’ve remained such a team during the last few years. I’ve watched him seek God’s face. I’ve trusted beyond a shadow of a doubt his sincerity in hearing the Lord speak. I’ve trusted his honesty. I’ve watched him rise above situations that would have pulled me in and burned the fire out of some bridges. I watched our gracious, gracious Father open doors I couldn’t have imagined. Providential doors for the safety and emotional health of my family. Open doors to provide rest and healing. Genuine care. And even though I’ve seen Him work....through a calling to the ministry, losing our home in a hurricane, a loss of trust in marriage and then restoring that trust in an amazing way, our first pastorate...I am still moved with deep gratefulness for His love for me. His love for His children. He is not just good. He is amazing. In the midst of it seeming like He was not moving, He was saying, “Wait, Precious Daughter, I have a plan. Wait on Me. Keep walking. Just wait.”

And then. Boom. He moved.

Every season of our lives has highs and lows. Things we learn and take with us into the next season. More than ever as we begin a new season, I feel solid as a team with Landon, but not in an idolatrous way – not with Landon completing me. Walking beside Landon, as a team, trusting each other – faults and strengths – to work together with great, deep love for each other. I trust that God is completing me. God is enough to take care of me – no matter what in marriage. No matter what in life. And I’m sure He’ll allow me to be shaken again – because in this sin fallen world, that’s just how it works. And I’ll look back again when that time comes. I’ll remember that what I thought would bring death brought life. And I’ll pray for eternal perspective. Because my God is faithful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Starting Kindergarten - Sweet Baby James

Well, time moves quickly.  I know, tell me something I don't know.  Sometimes it seems like one day lasts 5 days.  And then, 5 years passed in the blink of an eye.  James started kindergarten yesterday.  Yesterday morning was awesome.  James wanted pancakes, so Landon got up early and made pancakes for us to eat.  We did our new devotion book together at the table.  It was an exciting morning.  James was a little nervous, but he made it great and didn't cry at all.  And, neither did I.  I had an opportunity for several meltdowns beforehand, so I was cried out by yesterday, I guess.  

Lots of school supplies

Open house

 James and his new teacher, Mrs. Tomlinson

 The first day!

 Leaving him at school - he's starting on his morning work

 All his uniforms lined up and ready the night before

 His lunch for day 1

When we picked him up yesterday - all of us :) - he told us about everything!  He talked about earning pennies to buy items from the Treasure Box on Fridays.  He talked about a time to rest your brain when the teacher played an audio book of Toad and Frog.  He said no one in class cried, except one little girl - and she just cried a little bit.  He said he raised his hand because he wanted to show Mrs. Tomlinson that his shoes light up, but she never called on him.  She must not have seen his hand, he said :)  He brought home a "Me" bag - a paper bag to put 3 or 4 things in that tell about thing himself - things he likes, etc.  We put in it:  Anekin Skywalker (no clue how to spell Anekin), Darth Vader, Harry Potter glasses, and a little figurine of Ron Weasley on a broom.  So...Harry Potter and Star Wars.  That's definitely what he loves right now.  

This morning was a little more of a different story.  Even though we put James to bed at 7:30 pm last night, he didn't go to sleep then.  He always has many questions and NEEDS to get up several times for very important reasons.  I think he probably fell asleep around 9.  I knew he was exhausted, but he just wouldn't give it up.  This morning, when I woke him, he was tired, sleeping hard, and I could tell.  He did get up, but he didn't want to sit at the table.  Didn't want to read his devotion with me.  Wanted to eat Publix french toast sticks, not the breakfast I'd made.  Wanted to watch tv.  Wanted to wear his light blue uniform shirt, and not his dark blue.  I sure didn't want him to get in trouble - second day of school and trying to be happiness and light so he would have a good, I hung with him and we were able to get off to a decent start.  He ate in the living room and watched a Star Wars Rebels, but I made him eat the sausage biscuit I'd made.  I let him wear the light blue uniform shirt he'd wanted to wear.  LOL.  By the time we got in the van, he was great.  Oh, and he said, he just didn't want to go today - he wanted to only eat lunch at home, not at school anymore.  He only wanted to stay there for half a day.  Oh well, Buddy, it's a whole new world.

Just like yesterday, I can't wait to pick him up and see how he's done today!  I know he's having a great day.  Excited for the changes in him and the awesome growing he's doing.  So proud of our big kindergartner!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Silas...Son of the Forest - Months 1-5

Well, everyone told me, Siley, that when I had a second child, I wouldn't do the same things as far as picture taking and letter writing as I did with the first child.  I didn't really believe this until it happened to me.  Now that I'm living it, I can see that it's true!!  With Brother and is BUSY around here!!!!  Brother started kindergarten today, and I thought that it would be a great day for me to write a letter to you and begin blogging about your sweet self.  Here you are still in the hospital...what a beautiful baby.  You weighed 8 lbs 3 oz when you were born and were 19.75 inches long.  

We had a pretty rough time when we first brought you home.  You cried and cried and cried.  We thought it was acid reflux, and it was, but we learned at a GI dr. that you had colic.  Oh my goodness!  Your crying was so rough that Daddy and I had to take shifts to take care of you at night.  We were both exhausted.  Thank goodness for help from Grammie (Grammie stayed 3 weeks!), and then Nana coming (for 1 week!).  Look at you at one month - you sure are precious - your 1 month stats were:

Weight: 9 lbs 14.5 oz (43%)
Height: 21.25" (30%)
Head Cir.: 15.5" (65%)

2 Month Stats:
Weight: 11 lbs 6 oz (40%)
Height: 21.5" (8%)
Head Cir.: 15.5" (33%)

4 Month Stats:
Weight: 14 lbs 11 oz (44%)
Height: 24.5" (33%)
Head Cir.: 16.75" (56%)

We haven't gone for your 6 month check up yet.  It is at the end of this month.  After about 2 months, you became a different baby as your colic subsided.  You are an absolute doll.  The main difference in you and your brother is that you are an EATER.  I mean, Buddy, you like to eat!  You are beginning to be able to sit up and balance on your own just for a few seconds.  You get mad on your back now and crane your neck so hard to be able to try to get up off the floor.  You do flip over lots and are on all fours oooooohhhhh...TRYING to crawl.  Trying so hard!  You try for a while and then get mad.  You are getting the backwards crawl down, but no front crawl yet.  You love James and watch him EVERYWHERE doing EVERYTHING.  He likes to play with you, but he hates spit up and stinky, so that kind of cramps your style of playing sometimes - hinders him being able to touch you that much since you are a big spitter upper.  

You have captured our hearts.  You complete our family.  You are loved more than you could ever imagine.  You are a joy, Sweet Siley, our lil' biscuit.  

Friday, September 27, 2013


Ah, the excitement never ends around here :)  (not complaining, just making a statement). James has been in rare form lately - just BUSY, BUSY, and I wanted to remember some of the funny things he's been doing.
Yesterday morning I was on the phone with my boss.  I knew I just needed like 5 min to ask her a quick question about something.  Just like ALWAYS (most of the time) happens, as soon as I got on the phone with her, James comes busting in there and wants me to hand him some money that he sees on top of our dresser.  Normally we never have ANY cash around the house.  I am in the debit card generation and my generation carries no cash - we use our debit cards for a 2.50 purchase at the gas station.  However, we came across $60 and it was sitting (3 $20's) on our dresser.  I let James take the money so that he would be quiet for a few minutes.  He trots off to the living room, which is fine with me, and all is quiet.  I finish with Tamara and get off the phone, and come into the living room.  I find James, seated in the middle of the rug with the big people scissors, and he is cutting apart the 3 $20 bills.  I am not even kidding.  I guess no one ever told him you don't cut money apart.  Right...I was able to tape it back together, but I have not actually tried to use the money anywhere yet, so we'll see. 
James has been big into Scooby Doo for a while.  First of all, why are there so many different Scooby's on now?  It is ridiculous...and on top of that, why in the world is there like an "adult" Scooby doo? I figured out quickly that we wouldn't be watching that one.  ANYWAY, James loves Fred.  And James loves that Fred is always setting a trap.  So, James has now made it his mission in our home to set traps all the time, everywhere. 
This cord below is a trap he had wrapped around the chairs outside until Landon took it down.  Landon has the other end plugged into an outlet (picture under this one), and had his laptop plugged in outside.  I come out on the porch yesterday to find James dipping the end of the plug into his bubble solution - can you say electrocution risk?  Another teaching moment...(and a teaching moment for mom and dad not to leave random things plugged in...)

Alright, here's another trap.
And another one.
Now, this one is pretty elaborate.  A trap and a charging station, says James.  This is two belts wrapped up in the dresser handles and then he brought his bike and put the belt through part of his bike.  He let me know the bike was "charging".  I think he likes electrical stuff...electrical engineer maybe?
The last thing is something dumb I did in Bible study the other night.  I wanted to play the ladies a song that had really been speaking to me.  I had the song on my phone, so I played it from there.  I did it at the end of Bible study and then was going to close us in prayer.  I don't know tons about the music stuff on my phone, but I was afraid another song was going to play.  I was trying to push the pause button and turn the iphone down and push another button just to make sure everything was stopping.  I then start praying, and the first I said was something like, "Father, thank you so much for loving and accepting me with all of my faults and in my sinfulness."  And then, I hear Siri say, "You're welcome" OUT LOUD.  I had accidentally pressed the button for Siri to come on, and when I started praying, she thought I was talking to her.  HA.  It was really funny - and bizarre.
Headed with Landon for him to do a wedding today!  It's a beautiful day here for an outside wedding!   

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

From 1 to 3 (for a few days)

Some of our favorite friends here entrusted their two children to us for a couple of days while they went to the hospital to have a 3rd baby!  We had a great time here...despite me sweating the entire time.  One child to three children means a lot more sweating for a momma!  Here are the boys during "mandatory rest time".  Ha.
And, here they all are loaded up in the van :)
So precious!
Silly boys...

I had forgotten what a good helper a sweet baby is at this age!  
Thankful for friendships God grows!

Donuts, Chuck E Cheese, & Homecoming

Loved being home for a short visit a couple of weeks ago.  Landon was invited to speak for his home church's 75th anniversary.  Enjoyed seeing our families!
Even got to be home for Madison's Chuck E Cheese b'day party!  James is big into putting on his "goggles" right now during all pictures.

Sunday after church we stayed to eat lunch and tried to take some family pictures...yeah right :)

James & Aunt Wendy...and back to the goggles...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Dot Mom

I just got back from a fantastic weekend.  Everything I’d hoped it would was.  I learned, worshipped, and hung out with one of my favorite people. 
Last year I decided I wanted to go to this dot mom conference put on by Lifeway.  When I asked what some of the other ladies thought, several of them felt that since we’d seen Beth Moore in the spring, it would be too much to ask the ladies to pay for this conference, as well.  I knew that it looked sooooo awesome though (especially for a young mom), and I desperately wanted to go.  Lacey expressed an interest in going with me, so we just did it.  We left for Chattanooga yesterday morning and made the EASY 2.5 hour drive.  Now, let me just tell this.  I have never been the “driver” on a real trip.  I was driving a pregnant woman – which makes me beyond nervous, AND, it was our first trip together so I was afraid Lacey wasn’t going to say what she really needed (i.e. bathroom, something to drink, snack) when she needed it.  We arrived in Chattanooga in plenty of time to get parked at the conference center downtown and eat some lunch before the thing started.  Lacey and I decided that we would drive through downtown and find some lunch after we located the convention center.  I was so nervous about all the parking and directions that before I realized what I was doing, I had already driven into the convention center parking garage.  I was so thankful it was easy to find that I just busted up in there.  Well, we all know that when you bust up in a parking garage, it’s not easy to bust stayed.  That was my first failure for the pregnant woman.  I promised lunch – which clearly growing babies need – and then instead I ducked into a garage to park our car.  Luckily (sarcasm), there were absolutely no restaurants around the convention center to eat at.  It’s the first downtown area I’ve EVER been to that didn’t have just random restaurants all around.  Weird.  So, we had a lovely brunch in the Marriott hotel restaurant.  Weird.  The conference began.  I will address some spiritual stuff that I learned later.  Lauren Chandler was leading worship and it was AWESOME.  Good night.  We did the Explicit Gospel series at church and loved hearing her husband, Matt, preach. What an incredibly gifted couple! 
So, yada yada, the evening ends and we are ready to head to our hotel.  Let me tell you what would have been ideal.  If we had been staying at the Marriott – which was attached to the convention center – that would have been ideal.  Then, my car could have STAYED and we could have just brought some luggage in and up to our room.  HOWEVER, that was not the reality.  The reality was that I waited too late to book a hotel room and all the Marriott rooms were booked.  Someone at the dot mom table at the Beth Moore conference told me there was a really nice Hampton Inn within walking distance and that I should check that out.  Perfect.  After checking it on Trip Advisor to make sure it was not disgusting (and it wasn’t), I booked a room.  The GPS told me that walking distance was half a mile from the convention center.  I asked Lacey (who brought her stuff in a backpack) if she thought she could walk to the hotel or if she wanted me to drive us.  She was game to walk.  Now, at this moment, I knew it was not a good idea.  I knew that asking a pregnant woman to strap on her backpack and walk half a mile in the dark in an uncharted territory of a downtown we’d never been to was not fantastic.  But, I thought....just half a mile...SURELY we can make it.  Well, wouldn’t you know it.  Here’s Lacey with her conference bag in one hand (with her purse stuck inside) and her backpack strapped on.  Here’s me with my purse, my conference bag (my purse was too big to stuff inside), and my big monogrammed carry around bag (um, why didn’t I choose something with WHEELS???) with my pillow stuffed down in it so it can’t even zip.  I have to keep switching arms because the bags keep making a red mark on my arm.  I have the phone out with the GPS (walking directions) and we ride the elevator down from N6 and head the right way.  Well, let me just tell you, Ms. little Siri, sometimes you are not helpful.  When you keep saying “Proceed to the route” that is NOT helpful.  When you keep calling out 20 different directions at once because you can’t figure out where I am...that’s unhelpful.  We get like 1 block from the hotel, and I just can’t tell if the arrow’s moving the right way toward the Hampton Inn or the wrong way...away from it.  Then, some guys get out of a car and start walking toward us.  At this point I am MAD that I did not bring my gun with me just in case, but hello, I would have had to say, “Oh, excuse me boys, before ALL three of you rob us, could you let me put my things down so I can get out a gun and be ready to defend us?”.  Nope.  They go ahead and pass us and we are safe.  Sigh of relief.  And then, my bag weighs like 100 lbs, and poor Lacey is out of breath (as is my ownself), and I can’t tell which way the arrow is moving...and I am starting to panic.  Where in the world is my ex-surveyor husband (um, I just mean ex-surveyor, not ex-husband...he is my current husband) when I need him???  Oh, right, not at a conference for moms.  At home keeping our sweet boy.  Right.  So, I say to Lacey, “Look, I think we should go back to N6 and get in the car and drive to the hotel.”  Lacey is awesome and says she’ll do whatever I want (and is thinking in her mind that she will never travel with me again since I am putting her life and her unborn child’s life at risk on the downtown streets of Chattanooga).  What’s so funny is that I had been so worried about getting to the hotel all day.  I wanted to go when it was light but there just wasn’t time.  I wanted to check in before the conference started but it wasn’t check in time yet.  So, we booked it with our marks on both arms and now arms shaking...back to the car.  Now we are safe.  I get the A/C on (clearly the most important thing) and lock the doors.  We finally get to the hotel – after having to get on the interstate again.  Which I find highly interesting since that was where the walking directions were taking us, as well.  So, yeah, I guess we would have been booking it with our stuff walking down the interstate in Chattanooga downtown.  Perfect.  We get to the hotel and it’s a parking garage situation like any downtown hotel.  I pull into a parking garage for the hotel and think it’s going to be a “take a ticket” deal.  Nope.  You have to have something special.  Then, I look and there are people pulling in behind me.  Of course there are.  I am able to finagle the car and get us parked in a handicap space.  I NEVER park in a handicap space because I am not handicapped.  But, let me confess, that I did park there last night.  I was stressed, there were no more spaces, and I needed 10 min to go check us in.  I made Lacey stay in the car, which was weird in itself, in case someone tried to tow us. 
I get into the Hampton Inn.  There’s a family in front of me.  They are paying in cash and they have refreshments from the little store.  The hotel clerk is calculating their charges on a little calculator – like the first kind of calculator you ever had to take to school.  He is taking forever, and then finally, their total is over $600.  Fine, whatever.  (Lacey’s still in the car).  Well, they are paying in cash.  The lady gives him 6 $100 bills, and he proceeds to lay them all out on the counter and mark all of them with a marker to make sure they are not counterfeit.  I’m losing it....I’m tired, stressed, worried about my friend I’ve left out to dry in the car in a handicap space, and I just need my room key.  But, I’m deep breathing and trying to just be calm.  Then, the man disappears – the hotel man disappears.  He finally arrives back about 100 hours later and keeps going in and out with these people’s bags.  They had dropped off their bags before check in and went sight seeing and then needed their bags back.  Oh my heavens.  None of this is a big deal except that I feel I am responsible for Lacey since I brought her and I am tired and I just want us to get up in our room and be safe and go to sleep.  Finally, I get checked in, go out to the car where, thank goodness, Lacey is still there, and we park in the underground dungeon-ish parking, which is fine.  Great.  Our room was fabulous (except that it was a king bed and I really thought I requested two doubles but when I looked at my receipt...WRONGO...apparently I wanted Lacey and me to sleep together), and when we woke up this morning it was raining.  Aside from the trekking down the interstate issues, thank goodness we did not walk because both of us had just fixed our hair the day before – duh.
I learned:
1. Don’t count on Siri for the GPS walking.  She can’t handle downtown areas very well. 
2.  Get with my ex-surveyor husband and have him help me look at a REAL MAP and map out my route from conference center to hotel before I go on a trip like this.
3.  Never, just don’t, ask your friend to walk when it’s dark in a downtown you don’t know anything about.
4.  And, if you’re going to have to drive anyway, stay somewhere that has a Starbucks close by.
Now, for the spiritual side of things.  This will be a jumbled mess, but I want to write what I learned while it’s fresh.
The first breakout session I went to was on Marriage & Sex.  It was just fantastic with a couple that had a story a lot like ours.  Not only did they talk about marriage and sex, but they also talked some about having sons and safeguarding your home.  In their home, they have a rule that they collect the boys’ electronics (like access to the internet stuff) at night before bedtime.  It’s just a routine they have, and I thought it was awesome.  They talked about creating a safe place so that your son would want to talk about sexual struggles – when a life leads with grace, not judgment, it makes the home a safe place.  And, that it’s our job, as his parents, to help him guard his heart and mind.  Goodness.  Fantastic.
The evening big session was taught by John Croyle.  He was awesome – soooooo from the South.  He wasn’t trying to politically correct and mousy about everything he said, and it was just great.  Really refreshing.  He talked about loving and believing in your children.  That we as moms are queens and we need to teach our daughters that they are princesses.  He said something like we need to teach our sons what to look for in a woman – in a wife – and that it’s not to have on short shorts with “pink” written on the butt.  I thought that was AWESOME.  He said God is faithful when you teach your child character.  He said you should know who your child’s five best friends are and if you don’t, that’s a problem.  He talked about daddy’s serving mommy’s and vice versa so that the children could see what a marriage looked like – because they most likely WILL model the marriage they’ve seen. 
Another impactful session to me was by Angela Thomas.  She said,
1.  I am called to keep Christ at the center of my home.
2.  A home where children are growing up where the spirit of God hovers – hovers while they brush their teeth, eat their cereal, etc., and that I should be asking God to fill my home with His presence.  I am responsible to build the boundaries that keep evil out of my home.  She only allowed games rated E – no teen or mature – in her house.  I will have to give an account to the Lord for how I took care of the children He entrusted me with.  And, try to be fun – if you are going to have tough boundaries, at least be pretty fun to hang out with. 
3.  My laughter and joy is a ministry to my children.  she talked about being on the phone with a friend and being invested in the conversation and excited about her chat and kept telling her children, be quiet, wait a minute.  She said she realized she had it backwards.  She should have been excited to be with her children.  WE should treat our family like friends and our friends like family – ha.  I think this is so true most days.  Minister to your children like you would your friend.  She said one night when she woke up because her child was crying, she felt so angry, and then she realized, why are you so mad about being a mom?  How convicting.  She wasn’t mad.  just needed an attitude change. 
4.  There’s no more life impacting picture than my kids watching me be changed by God.
I went to two awesome breakout sessions today, both by David Thomas (I think), a counselor with Daystar, located in Nashville.  The first one was Understanding the Emotional Development of our Kids. 
He went through numerous instructions and examples that were really insightful – too many for me type out.  About needing a safe place to channel anger and emotion – and if they don’t have it, that’s usually the kids who end up having a substance abuse prob or internet porn problem.  At the end he gave ideas for furthering emotional development:
1.  Games (the UnGame, Chit Chat)
2.  Imaginative play/Role play – let our child dress us up
3.  Books/Media – Kevin Henkes, Eric Carle, Cynthia Rylant, Max Lucado, movies like Toy Story 3 that show emotions we can discuss with our children
His second breakout was on Wild Things – about having a boy.  I had tears in my eyes through nearly the whole thing because I am just so privilege to be a mom.  I am so privileged to be raising a son, and I am so thankful to have tools to hopefully help him become a godly man.  And, just thinking about the daddy James has - I am so thankful!  Landon is a wonderful daddy for James - knowing his own brokenness and faults and willing to learn and LOVES James.  Anyway, he broke the stages of development down and then talked about how to handle them.  It was fantastic – talked about what James needs at his age – boundaries, open space, consistency – a multisensory approach when giving instructions.  And not too many words!  I loved when he got to the 9-12 year olds because he talked a lot about preparing for adolescence.   He talked about dad and son taking a trip to talk – and having an open dialogue – even reading Preparing for Every Man’s Battle together...and then, as things started to happen – celebrating those events.  Celebrating that he was becoming a man – nothing to be ashamed of, but exciting – exciting to see that God was developing him into a man just like it’s supposed to happen.  I loved some of the guidelines he gave about supervision and guidance at this age, about asking good questions to a friend’s mom before he’s allowed to go to their house, and about talking openly about certain issues.  And that most of the time, doing an activity while talking about serious stuff makes it way less awkward for a boy to talk. 
The last speaker was Jen Hattmaker.  Are you kidding me?  I had heard of her, but I had no idea how gifted she was.  She talked about how all we are doing in this society is being afraid.  Being so fearful that our children will be hurt or discouraged or rejected or will fail.  She said I want to raise kids who will GO FOR IT – not who are afraid of what’s under every rock.  The world is not safe.  Our kids have to be prepared for hardships and suffering.  Are we raising them to be safe or to be disciples – are you kidding me??????????????????????????  So convicting.  Parent diligently, not fearfully.  I don’t want to be the reason my children choose safety over courage – if my child says he’s called to Ethiopa then I want to be his biggest supporter.  I’m behind you and you can do it!  Scared moms raise scared kids.  Disciples raise disciples.  Someone’s gotta do the work to save this planet.  We weren’t saved to serve saved people.  Live it or you have no hope of leading it.  We are called to imitate Christ.  Say to our children, “Follow me as I follow Jesus.”
It was beyond fantastic.  It was refreshing – and such wonderful music – and such great teaching.  Whew! I am tired, but I am so glad we went.  Planning already for next year when they’ll be in Nashville.  Don’t worry dot mom, I’ll be there – with hopefully more than just one next year!! 
Thanks, Lacey, for hanging in with me.  I hope you had a good time.  I hope you weren’t too terrified of walking in the dead of night in an unfamiliar downtown, not being close to any restaurants at all, having to sleep with me in a king sized bed, and I could go on.  Thankful for times when God allows friendships to grow closer.  So thankful God brought Lacey into my life as a friend and allowed us to experience dot mom together!