Friday, December 10, 2010

cute kid pictures!

so i don't put a bunch of my baby's pictures up on this blog for many reasons, but i thought i'd share a few. kennedy's growing like a weed! she is wearing 9-12 mo clothes but can get into some 6 month pants because she has a super-skinny waist. the only drawback, they are kind of like high-waters on her :) she has plenty of clothes; i just need to rotate all the 6 month stuff out!

wednesday, dec. 8  marked the last day i breastfed her. i'm a little sad about it but kennedy is happy as a lamb to take a bottle. we went just over 8 months and my goal was 6 so that was pretty good. i was having supply issues and she was ready to wean so there you have it. she takes 4 bottles a day. she has been eating solids for 2 months now, 3 times a day.  her favorite foods are squash, sweet potatoes, pears and advocado. she saw the doctor at 7 months to follow up on her new reflux medicine and she was 16 lbs (still 50%). i'm guessing she's over 17 now. her height was in the 90%.

she goes down at night around 6:30pm and sleeps until 7:30-8am. yes, it's glorious! her naps however, are very, very short (sometimes only 3 naps for 20 minutes each). we're working on them and lately i've had the willpower to let her cry. for example, today she slept 35 minutes, cried for 15 and back to sleep for another 30.

enough "reading" about her...here's the real thing! (the first 5 are part of my portrait project i had to do for my photography class. i got a 95 because i had a cute subject ;-)








i seriously can't believe only 8 months ago she was this tiny...





Thursday, November 25, 2010

thankfulness

wow, how did more than a month go by and not a single blog entry?

hmmm...it's probably because i always have photography class homework and a 7 3/4 month-old who doesn't like to nap very long! but i have my final next monday night and i'm working on the nap training. pray for us!

today is one of my favorite days of the year--thanksgiving. a day to relfect on our many blessings and be thankful. and all week, as i geared up to thanksgiving day, i was in a bit of a funk. i really couldn't pinpoint what was wrong and then it just hit me...

the holidays are tough.

when you have lost a child, they just are. in several more years, it won't be as hard as it is right now. i can only say this because i don't feel as sad this year as i did last year. i remember last year, our first without our precious matthew, was tough. really, really tough. i think the holidays are especially hard because just after christmas, we have matthew's birthday on jan. 6 and his angel day just 5 days later.

i decided to start making a list of what i was thankful for and suddenly my mood of being sad without my son here with me, changed to being thankful for all that God has given me. i decided to take my focus off of what he has allowed to be taken, and cherish all that he has given. a beautiful, adorable daughter. a kind, loving husband. a loyal, sweet family. genuine, precious friends. i would say this is a blessed life indeed.

then i couldn't help but think about a question i was asked when i was 7 months pregnant with kennedy...

do you ever think you'll be thankful you lost your sweet matthew?

at first i wanted to launch a rock in the general direction of the person asking it. she probably could tell by the horrible look i gave her i was about to start screaming. she quickly added:

what i meant is, "do you think you'll ever be able to be thankful you only had him for 5 days on this earth?"

my mother's gut reaction was a quick, emfantic, "no!"

but what this person was trying to ask me, as we both looked down at my rounded 7-month pregnant belly, was if i would ever be able to get past the grief of losing matthew, be thankful for his short life, and thankful for all the blessings thereafter.

she wanted to know when i was further down the grief road and hopefully a more thankful person, would i be able to be thankful i lost him?

i don't know if i will ever be "thankful" i had to give back my sweet boy. that's a really tough place to be. but i am thankful because of him, i am more thankful of the blessings i do have in my life. and certainly, my son has made me a better mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend.

i have much to be thankful for. i am so incredibly blessed and i am continually amazed God still chooses me. i have been given much. maybe some would say it's been costly for me.

but i say the loving creator of the universe paid a high price for me. for ME! with all of my flaws and inadequacies...he chose me.

may you find your list of blessings, even when it's hard to see them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

road rage

i think i've mentioned before my husband is a terrible driver. yeah, i'm pretty sure that's how i put it. :)

and if HE were writing this blog he would MOST DEFINITELY say he is a WAY BETTER MUCH WORSE driver than me!

he might be right! he's never been in a car accident. i know because i just now asked him, casually of course!, if he had ever been in a wreck.

"i've only slid off the snowy road and made a few dents in my car. NO DAMAGE TO ANOTHER VEHICLE." (but he made no mention of the tree, hmmm....i have to wonder?)
and by the grace of God, i have never crashed while driving more than 5mph. however, i have backed into two cars and one pole and left two notes. oh wait, there was that time when i had a cigarette in one hand, cell phone in the other and i used my mom's car to keep smooching the on-ramp's concrete wall for 20 feet while going 50mph. it wasn't pretty, but it was still drivable, sort of. ooops...i forgot about that!

ken's an aggressive driver; definitely more aggressive than me. i think he would admit that. aggressive, but safe. confident about his turns, speed and direction.

i've mentioned on here before i would like HIM to drive in the right-hand lane going 40mph while i'm a passenger, but when i've got the driving reigns, i have no problem cutting in and out of traffic, suddenly realizing i must turn right even if i have to cross 8 lanes of traffic to do so, and going 75-80 in a 70. and forget about the lady going 40mph...i have total road rage against her, of course in a nice texas-girl way!

but i've recently started to understand road rage...in a different way.

huh???

at times in my walk with the Lord, i've definitely been an offender of ROAD RAGE. i promise to post my version of a psalms i wrote and you might be horrified...

or you might actually relate?

our walk with the Lord, or lack thereof, may, certainly, include road rage for part of the drive.

you're driving along and you get caught off. expletive. or tears. or both.

but as you're driving along what cuts you off is the VERY thing that the God OF THE UNIVERSE who wants to be the God OF YOUR HEART, wants you to see.
The "cut-you-off" road rage event(s) which He allows, may be the loss of a child, spouse, parent, sibling, friend, or stranger; the ugly process of a divorce; the horrible past (or present) of physical, sexual or emotional abuse; or a simple, yet complicated belief that "this" life you lead is not quite fulfilling enough. a belief there is more out there than "this."

He doesn't cut you off to hurt you.

He doesn't cut you off to ruin you.

He just knows that the cut-you-off things and subsequent road rage are gonna happen...because we live on this earth. see, there was a woman named eve and man named adam awhile back...

oh, and what about the rage you express in the heat of these cut-you-off events?

well, i'm living proof, you can have it. rest assured, if i can do it and still walk with the Lord, i'm a million% sure you can.

rage it out. cuss it out. stomp it out. yell it out. better yet, scream it out at the top of your freakin' lungs. and drop the f-bombs if you must. i guarantee you...HE CAN HANDLE IT!

have you ever read David's psalms' where he lets God have it? i mean, he really, really lets God have it. after reading most of these, i found myself experiencing a new freedom in my relationship with Christ. freedom to say what i thought, unmasked, to the God of the universe.

wow, really? yes, really!

and He didn't even send a lightening bolt to strike me down, dead, because i said what i said!

i fully believe God allows road rage events to eventually open our eyes to His ways, His Truth, His better-option way of life.

do you??

can you get back on the road after the rage?


Jesus said, "I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. no one gets to the Father apart from Me. if you really knew Me, you would know my Father as well. from now on, you do know Him. you've even seen Him!"
the message, john 14:6-7

Friday, October 15, 2010

infant and pregnancy loss remembrance day ~ oct. 15

and yet another year comes around that i know about this day.

in some ways i wish i didn't know about it...but in other ways i am glad i do.

it helps me to remember all of the other families out there who grieve publicly or silently at the loss(es) of their infant child(ren) or their early/late pregnancy loss(es).

i wrote one of my new friends yesterday and asked her to not feel as though she had to disqualify her loss as less than mine. she had a pregnancy loss before the doctors could tell if it was a boy or a girl and she was grateful to know that oct. 15 exists.

i have many friends and know many people who have had a miscarriage(s), and i see their loss the same and yet different. that child was a child they don't get to raise here on earth. when asked, how many children do you have? the obvious answer is three but that mother knows there are actually five.

in different ways, i think it must be harder to not know if the child was a boy or girl. some early pregnancy losses do not grant the parents the pleasure of actually seeing what the baby looked like. this must be tough; i can only imagine. the dreams and hopes you had for their life...just vanished at the words "i'm sorry, there is no heartbeat." and yes, not even a name for this life that mattered.

yes i buried a child, but i had the privilege to birth him, see him briefly when they woke me from general anesthesia, and eventually i got to hold him after he had gone to be with Jesus.

i want to encourage those who have silently grieved their losses to spend some time thinking about those children today. maybe in your grief, they need a name. they need to know you recognize their life as equally as your other children.

can you see their faces in heaven?

your jewel-adorned house waiting for you in heaven will not have three rooms for your children...but five.

and my heart aches particularly for those who have endured pregnancy loss after pregnancy loss and do not have the "validity" of mommy status yet, because there is no child to hold in your aching arms. you are a mommy. please know that. i hurt for you...and i pray for you. only Jesus can heal your wounds. and it will happen in time, if you let Him.

i love this paragraph from george w. bush's letter to officially recognize this infant and pregnancy loss remembrance day, october 15:

"the pain of losing a child is unimaginable and something no parent should have to endure. we believe that EVERY HUMAN LIFE has inherent dignity and matchless value in the eyes of God. on this solemn day, we remember those who have died, and we honor the parents for their strength and courage in the face of such terrible heartache."

some of us baby-loss parents have a grave to visit today, some of us are too far away to do so, and some of us simply do not.

please join me in praying for those parents who have lost children in silence, who may or may not be able to recognize that precious and valued life. please know your baby's life mattered to me...but more importantly he or she mattered to God. that precious child is sitting at His feet as you read this.

dear matthew phillip,

we miss you so much. there is not a day that goes by where daddy and i do not think about you. tonight we will light a candle at 7pm to remember you and all the other babies in heaven with you. because your life mattered. their lives mattered. i just got a new pumpkin spice yankee candle, and it is my favorite scent because fall is my favorite time of the year. i think i'll light that one.


baby boy, i could have lived in a black hole of despair and depression for many more months and years, and probably for the rest of my life. but only 2 short months ago, Jesus gently asked me to let you go be with Him. i decided to not let the grief of losing you get in the way of...you. it wasn't easy. some days, it's still not.

i sit here and look at kennedy playing on her play mat and sometimes wonder what it would be like if my 21-month-old son was running around the house too. would mommy be losing her mind? probably! but it would be the good kind of losing her mind. when you finally stood still for a second, i'd swoop you up in my arms, give you lots of kisses on your cheeks, lips, and face while you would be squirming. eventually i'd lay you on the ground next to kennedy and tickle you until you couldn't laugh anymore. i'd be laughing too and since kennedy starting laughing really loud a week or so ago, she would be laughing at us! it would be a moment i would take a snapshot of in my memory to treasure for a lifetime. better yet, if my camera was nearby, i'd be sure to grab it! i sort of have an obsession with capturing these precious moments you see! :)

on a brisk morning like today, we'd bundle up and go for a walk. i wonder if you would ride in the tandem stroller or if you would just want to walk with me holding mommy's hand. after our walk, we'd come back and make pumpkin bread and butternut squash soup to have on hand for lunch tomorrow. juju and aunt granny deb are coming tomorrow and we'd be ready, even though the house is still a mess! later we'd go to the commissary and with two children under the age of two, it might be a lot to handle. you might throw a tantrum right in the middle of the aisle while older men glare at me...but it would be perfectly fine with me because you would be here screaming in the grocery aisle instead of being away from me in Glory.

matthew phillip, it's a conflict. after i decided to start living my life again, i still wish you were here with me, yet i know you are at such peace walking daily with your Heavenly Father. most days i can focus on the latter and that gives me comfort, joy, grace, and understanding. but there will be days for the rest of my life i will just have to be sad you are not here with me on this earth. and that's ok.

but the sad day will come to an end, and if i'm granted the next day, i will get up, do the best i can as a wife to your wonderful daddy and mommy to your amazing little sister, and i will go out into the world and ask Jesus how he would want me to introduce Him to someone that day.

i love you precious son. you give me strength to live each day.
~ mommy

Thursday, October 14, 2010

living someone else's life...

have you every felt like you are just not yourself lately?

of course you have.

but how about.... have you ever felt like you are just not yourself in say, like the last 34 years???

on my birthday weekend this year, my friend joni paid me the greatest, but yet most confusing and intriguing compliment.

"i feel like you are getting back to who you were in college."

hmmm...hmmm...hmmm...

i thought for a little while and realized i was many different girls in college:

- an ok student......a crappy student.
- an enthusiastic-living-for-jesus christian.......a party-girl who wouldn't know christian if it hit her in the head.
- a girl who clung to a "private" struggle with bulimia and anorexia.......a girl who publicly collapsed on the steps of the business school.
- a girl who cared about others deeply....a girl who could care less about herself or others.
- a girl full of insecurity....a girl full of confidence.
- a girl who cared what everyone thought......a girl who didn't give a damn.

well....i wonder which girl she meant???

the ironic part of this is, the girl full of insecurity who cared about what everyone thought was the girl who was walking closely with the Lord. i was pursuing Christ. i was engaging Him. i was learning about my Father.

certainly i was "doing" all of the things that christians are supposed to do. especially when leading others, which i was doing as a young life leader.

however, the key thing here...

i TOTALLY, COMPLETELY, MISSED what God's grace actually meant in my life.

did you get that? i had no idea what the actual definition of grace was!!

yet don't even think i didn't get up in front of my young life girls in cabin time and rattle off a passage like ephesians 2:8..."by grace alone..."

i got caught up in legalism to the one-millionth degree. i made check boxed lists and that was enough. went to church, check. had a quiet time, check. didn't drink (for 4.5 yrs of my 5.5 yrs), check. had conversations about God and what He was doing in my life, check. taught others about Christ, check.

had i put these two on my list and really thought about it...i couldn't have "checked."

know how deeply my Savior is IN LOVE WITH ME? ughhhhh  ______ blank.

know how deeply i am covered in grace? ughhhhh ______ another blank.

the journey i have been on since 2002 has been painful and glorious. hard and easy. heartbreaking and joyful.

and i wouldn't trade one moment of it.

at 34 years of young, i am finally understanding how to live my life. not someone else's. i'm finally grasping that the Jesus who i've followed and abandoned, is not phased one bit by my actions. he expects me to fall flat on my face over and over and over, because adam and eve did what they did.

and every single time, he's still standing there, arms wide open, loving me for who i am, covering me in grace.

i don't know how you ever find that kind of love in someone or something else...do you?

**********
i don't know anything about the author of this quote but it was on my "whispered words of encouragement" flip calendar from sept. 28:

"embrace your uniqueness. time is much too short to be living someone else's life." --kobi yamada

i just really love this quote! have a fantastic day!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

when did it happen...?


when did it happen that i walked into a cell phone store, picked out a new one, didn’t know how to operate it, and had to have the sweet 20-something associate give me a 45-minute tutorial while my daughter slept?

when did it happen that while i was walking through the naval academy yard yesterday wearing the ugly barf orange texas jersey, a plebe walked by me and said “hook ‘em horns, MA’AM!” (i corrected him right away notifying him i was on the losing side of a bet, and said, “did you even watch the game?” he said, “no, MA’AM (again!!?!) i’m a plebe, i have no life.” ok, true and true. and for the record, anybody over 22 gets called MA’AM at the academy. it’s just a requirement there. ok, i feel much better.)

when did it happen that as i was trying to upload my photo to the new google blogger and it notified me that the file was too big, i didn’t know how to downsize it? i used to kind of be, well, technologically saavy.

when did it happen that since i started blogging like 3.5 years ago, i still have no idea how to be linky? that’s linking up a word to its website so you can just click and see what i’m writing about. i know how to be stinky, winky, and my daughter loves her binky, but I got nothin’ on linky. (please leave me a comment or send an email if you are genius enough to know how to do this!)

when did it happen that i thought “tweeting” meant running down the street with your arms perched out like wings while you chirped?

when did it happen that i realized that the 18-year-old midshipman talking his “MA’AM” nonsense to me, could technically be my son (albeit I would have birthed him as a high school sophomore, but technically it could have happened)?

when did it happen that while in photography class i have to ask the young 20-year-old friend next to me, “now tell me again, hmmm…, sorry, how do you export the pictures from my cortney folder to photoshop brick?” i think she’s getting tired of it; we’ve done it 3x now. maybe, just maybe, 4th time’s a charm come monday! i’m crossing my fingers!

when did it happen that the car’s boom-boom music next to me at the stop light is just too loud for my ears and the baby who sits in my back seat?

when did it happen that…time just got away from me and i could no longer keep up?

crete, greece was really like living in a time warp where life is slow-moving. there is a real beauty to this place and it took me awhile to adjust when i first arrived. there is no tweeting, facebook updating, and checking the score of the game while out at dinner. life is simple and rich. but not in an economical sense. people there are incredibly generous and kind. they are very relational-driven and could easily spend 6-8 hours at dinner. kids are out until midnight, sometimes slug over a chair sleeping, because the parents are catching up with family and friends.

last friday our friend john, who was stationed with us in greece, came to annapolis on a last-minute visit. kennedy and i went to happy hour with him at the restaurant/brewery/bar that my bible study leader, paula and her husband own, while we waited for ken to get home from work. we passed on a nice table in the restaurant part and sat up at the bar. (yes, kennedy sat in her carrier in the stroller, right next to momma at the bar! can you imagine the horrified looks i was getting? it was definitely the scene from sweet home alabama where reece says, “look at you, you have a baby... in a bar!!”)

while we were sitting there talking, i was suddenly distracted by the fact that we were both checking our phones for messages, texting, and facebooking while we were talking! WOW!! when did this happen? this was our good friend john and we’re being given time to catch up with him.

right then and there, i decided, unless i’m needing to text you to tell you where the table is, i won’t be using my phone out while meeting people for lunch, coffee or whatever. i’ve decided if there is an emergency, i’ll need to have you call twice, please. i’ve decided this because i really want to be present in the conversation that i’m being given the opportunity to have. last friday, i wanted to hear about our friend john’s recent breakup with his girlfriend, how life has been since leaving greece, and how the old ram’s head brings back memories of academy days.

and i almost missed it!

i was texting (and facebooking & tweeting) while talking…and, truly, i shouldn’t be doing these technologically advanced things that i can barely pull off, at least not at the table! maryland’s no-talking-while-driving law goes into effect oct. 1. my no-doing-anything-technologically-saavy-while-talking policy, goes into effect right now!

maybe, just maybe, it’s time to reclaim some of the goodness of greece! the heartbreak of that place will remain, maybe forever, but there was A LOT of good there. A LOT!

and since i can’t figure out my new samsung moment google phone, this will work out perfectly!

btw, john, if you're reading this, the coffee i made in the morning, was actually decaf. could you tell? i think most people just think the taste of coffee gives them a caffeine-energy high. of course i get to think this right now because i'm breastfeeding. when i stop, i will need the leaded kind, i'm sure of it! :) sorry, but i learned this trick from my friend joni.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

messy and unfinished

i usually come up with my blog title after i write. when i sit down and write, i usually have somewhat of a subject that i feel God is laying on my heart (or one that has no spiritual meaning at all), but i don't usually know how it's going to come out and what the best 2-5 word description of the post will be.

but i'm pretty sure this will cover it...

messy and unfinished!

for two reasons, i am and this post will be. (brace yourselves, spelling and grammatical errors abound!)

christians too often think that their lives need to be polished, free from a past life's sin, etc. must be "put together" to follow Christ. i have just recently realized how absurd this is because i could never get to "that" level. because really, that level is not found here on this earth! there was a time, ok, like 200+ where i almost gave up on this "christian" walk, because i kept trying to "arrive." somehow i never got the grace lesson in my christian "school" of life.

what's the point because i'll never get to the level of so-and-so??

that person for me 6 years ago was my friend laura.

she met me in a pretty messy time. i gave up nyc, smoked a pack of cigarettes the night before i left, and moved out to california to see if ken and i could make a go of it. he was only going to be home 4 more months before deployment but after 10 months of nyc-la, i had to know. and if it had failed, i was sure i could fit my messy life into the la scene.

i showed up skinny and pixie-cut blonde as the girlfriend of this single guy. they probably some of them thought, who does she think she is? i can't remember exactly laura and i's first encounter, but i do remember warm smiles and acceptance. like right off the bat. and luckily for me, and for ken, pretty much all the ladies of his batallion accepted me bleached hair, potty-mouthed, margarita-drinkin' mess.

but laura, being the cool gal she is, started taking me to church while the guys were deployed. sometimes it was a 50/50 of whether i had had too many margaritas to join her but usually i tried to go, even if it was showing up with wet hair 15 minutes late.

and going back to church with laura changed the course of our lives.

ken came back, i told him we were going to church, and the powerpoint screen and band could have seriously done some damage to a boy who grew up singing hymns in lutheran church and reciting homilys (is that what they're even called) in catholic church. nothin' wrong with those churches. but i just felt pretty connected with the contemporary worship of this presbyterian church we were attending.

it took ken awhile to get over the powerpoint but he did and when we moved to austin, we went to a bigger church with powerpoint to the nth degree and a rock band. the austin music scene was right smack in the middle of austin christian fellowship church and i loved it.

still i only allowed a gentle, cautious stirring from God when we first arrived in austin in november 2006. after all, i had been seriously hurt by ministry because i had seriously screwed it up in 1999. and as a result i went on a drug, sex, drinking, rock-n-roll scene roller coaster for 3.5 years that would scare my mother if she knew all the details. but a redemption plan was in place and God intro'ed me to ken in 2002 through our friend matty shubzda.

while we didn't have it together, then, or even now, there was a change. i knew i wanted to marry this man pretty much from the beginning and i knew i wanted us to fall back in love with Jesus.

ken had been hurt by the death of his brother when phillip died of testicular cancer at 24, so he had some serious reservations about God's divine plan and purpose for our lives.

when we showed up to austin christian fellowship they were going to do dave ramsey's financial peace university and ken was sold. he was thinking, she bought a bmw (but actually he did because i wanted it) and we could be in trouble here. we need to get our finances straight.

on our first day, sometime in december 2006, just 2.3 years after we got married, the pastor, will davis, who obviously loves people where they are, came up to us. i thought, oh great. the pastor has singled us out as the 'new people' (which is pretty remarkable since we sat in the back and there were at least 400+ people there (i'm bad at number guestimates but there were a lot.) and in a pretty large church on our first day, i thought this was pretty impressive. we chatted, he immediately liked ken because he was military, and not because he was a longhorn. his baylor bears, green-and-gold-blood couldn't take all the barf orange. since my red and black red raider heart couldn't either, i knew i was going to like him.

we joined a small group of about 6-8 couples, who became a SOLID rock of FANTASTIC people for us to go through life with. eventually they would be the ones carrying us through matthew's funeral, along with gary sinclair, director of pastoral care, who is also amazing! and i'm pretty sure he's from the midwest, which means he probably doesn't care about the longhorns and this is like a default vote for the baylor bears and texas tech red raiders. :)

ken was sitting at church one day in february 2007, just 2 short months after we started attending acf, and decided that all the running and anger was over (about his brother phillip) and that he wanted to be in an intimate relationship with Jesus. we were where we needed to be. God was present with us at acf and we had "arrived." and because he had only been baptized as an infant, he asked will davis to do the honors. it was a big moment for me. like HUGE!

my prayers, through margarita hangover eyes in LA with laura, had somehow been answered. i know she prayed for me. for him. for us. i can't recall if we prayed together for ken or not.

the point is that i just KNEW this was it.

i had FINALLY reached "IT!" i had finally "arrived!"

i would be spiritual and righteous, and finally be a "good christian." after 17 years of up and down and i'm followin' ya, or i'm not....IT'S ABOUT DANG TIME!

2007, living in austin, was a fantastic year for us. fantastic. our walks with Jesus, our marriage, our church, our small group friends, my college friends who ended up there, and fantastic neighbors...it was amazing. ken was in graduate school (albeit the barf orange one), for a year-long "break" from traditional navy duty stations to get his required masters degree, and i was working as a recruiter from home for a large financial institution now owned by the government. i played hookie more times than i can remember and we'd just take the boat out in the middle of the week and wakeboard, just the two of us and the glassy water. it was purely magical.

i even remember when i turned 30 in austin that summer. several friends and my brother came down and we had a crazy celebration. and by crazy i mean, overserved. on sunday, the day after the party downtown, we were hosting a party at our neighborhood's lake dock and taking people out on the boat. because drinking and ministry had gotten me in trouble before in 1999, i was sure the acf small group friends would ban me. they didn't. in fact a couple of them had a beer or two on the water that day (i didn't because the smell of alcohol was too intense for me from my shaninigans the night prior), and i thought, hmmm...can you have a drink or two and still be a "good christian." wow. we might be onto something.

so i thought, we have ARRIVED! we're finally there. ken and i are now living a life where God is actually proud of us. after the 30th b-day bash, i decided moderation was the key to life, and away we went, into the light, not a trouble to be known.

i'll never forget our pastor's wife, susie, invited us newlywed ladies for a small summer weekly get-together to discuss life, marriage, eventual motherhood, and all that jazz. we came in the late afternoon and she also showed us a few simple recipes. one in particular was homemade bread, like not in the maker. it was pure genius, really. she made her family's dinner while she casually chatted with us. she was so great at just being present and having a friendship/relationship with us. i'll never forget one time, when she said these words...

"sometimes i just have a bottle of wine open and after a long day, will comes home and we share a glass of wine together and talk about the day."

SCREEEEECCCCCCCCCCHHHHHHHHH! WHAT??? you are a pastor's wife and he is a pastor...and..........UGHHHH....you drink?

certainly i hope you're not seeing a picture of will and susie dancing on 6th street chuggin' beers and margaritas (that was me at MY birthday!)

the drinking thing was like no big deal. like alcohol was NOT a sin, in of itself.

i also remember will saying in a sermon that he liked a, not 5, margarita and if you saw him out having mexican to not be surprised to see a margarita in front of his plate.

wow, if he can do it, i can. but in moderation of course. something started happening here. my legalistic mindframe of sin, was beginning to lift. i think here is where i started to discover, just a tiny bit, what grace actually was.

at the end of summer 2007 (after my b-day bash, of course), i felt God calling me to go upstairs and see if the youth group needed help.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

i told God...ummm...yeah...do you remember the train wreck in Lubbock 8 years ago, where i was asked to step down from TEAM LEADER because i was boozing it up, sleeping with my boyfriend, and in the utter fight of my life with bulumia and anorexia?? yeah, i'm pretty sure they'll call the lubbock young life office and find out.

the call for me to do this would not stop. literally, in my head all the time. ughhh.

so i thought, ok...joke's on you Jesus. i'll go up there and meet this steve guy, eventually they'll find out my secret, and then i'll laugh when they ask me to step away from the kids.

but i'll do it, God. you're crazy. i can't be used in ministry like this again...or can i?

when i approached steve shaver, the youth director at the time, we were only going to be around another 6 months and so i assumed he probably couldn't use me. not. at. all. plus i figured if they make a call or two, after i'm pretty sure i wrote down 'young life' as my ministry experience on the paperwork, then i'm donezzzzooo. finished. of course i filled out a background criminal check thingy, but i guess the fallacies of my time as a young life leader in lubbock didn't show up.

what i viewed as "criminal" or like the ultimate God-can't-use-me-again dealbreaker EXCUSE, really wasn't... i guess.

they never found out my past, to my knowledge, and i even went on a weekend youth retreat with them. i had the pastor's daughter in my cabin, yep, will and susie's, so i made sure i didn't say anything too incriminating. i served with the youth only 6 months but came to love high school kids again.

could my debacle in lubbock have been mistakes, sin, and irresponsibility that, to this day i have not apologized to the area director for? yes. (don't worry, i audibly hear the Jesus i serve saying, write the letter, now!)

but could God use me again in ministry? apparently...

in aug 2007 of that year, we got a call asking us to go to greece in 3 months on short-notice orders. i turned down what would have been my dream job and off and away we went.

the adventure was awesome. we still followed jesus, but we still hosted parties. for the most part, we stayed true to moderation, except for a few nights, one in particular that i remember when ken was promoted to lieutenant commander. and that party was a circus.

shortly after, and knowing we were "just too damn old" for that, i got pregnant with matthew. the life we had "arrived" at was taking on a new form, and we couldn't have been more excited.

there were literally days after days, that i patted myself on the back for FINALLY getting my messy and unfinished life in order.

i had ARRIVED, even more this time...yeah, me, finally, a put-together christian with a husband who loves Jesus, a dog who does too, and a chance to raise God-fearing put-together Jesus-lovin' kids.

and 28 weeks into the pregnancy, january 6, 2009, came and our lives were forever changed...

the messy got messier and the journey of chaos came back into my life.

after our beautiful matthew died 5 days after entering this world, the drama was back, but this time, i'm pretty sure it was going to finally do me in.

i said that OUTLOUD to God more times than i can remember...

have you ever audibly heard from God? i think i have, but i wouldn't have the journal entries to prove it. most people think because i'm a writer i journal all the time. not so much. most of the time, i'm too scared to see what my fingers might type or what my hand will write. but He's asking me to write now...i know this without a shadow of a doubt. like i knew he asked me to help with the youth again.

it's like He's sayin', I HAVEN'T GIVEN UP ON YOU...will you please do this for me?

i've spent 20 months since our matthew's death saying, WHY GOD??? Why to many, many things spanning my entire life.

now i'm just doing it, and living. finally, again. waiting for heaven to "arrive."

3 weeks ago, i had decided that with a 5, almost 6-month-old, women's bible study was going to be too much for me this semester. i would just stick to our small group. and the church bulletin said the ladies weren't going to do a beth moore, so i thought, what is the point? i sat in the service and could not tell you for the life of me what it was about. and i have a pretty good memory.

all i kept hearing was, sign up for the bible study. but i'm still breastfeeding a reflux-baby who screams during feeding and that would be a distraction, etc. etc. etc. the way the study is set up is there are several small groups of like 10-15 women each and we meet first for like an hour and a half and we discuss our homework and share prayer requests. then we all go into a room and watch a video or have the teacher lecture. probably like 200+ (again, bad with the guestimates) women do this study from churches all over.

i got tired of hearing the loud, obnoxious, audible God and went to the table to sign up. well only if i can be with the ladies from last semester. they were all young moms and on some levels i connected with them. well, as much, (or actually as little), as my broken heart wanted to connect. i put down the woman's name who led last semester under "preferences." then i asked the lady in charge.

"oh she's not teaching this semester." she told me that they like to break up the groups each semester, but she assured me i'd be with women going through the same stage of life as me.

i panicked. i don't want to know anymore new people. i was just getting to a point where i realized i might not be the "sad" friend and i want to go deeper with these ladies.

ken and i have been attending this church for 14 months, albeit kind of irregularly, especially since k was born, which is no longer an excuse, (another day, another post), and in an effort to NOT meet the pastor we high-tail it outta there as soon as it ends. we were perfectly content with not being involved.

until we went to austin this past january for matthew's first birthday remembrance celebration, and will asked how our church in annapolis was going.

"fine," i said.

"have you joined a small group?"

i can't remember if i lied or not, but i do know that he was right so immediately after we got back from austin, i asked a girl in my bible study that semester about hers. we showed up the last week in january, i think, and they were finishing up a study on ruth. i cried my eyes out at the realization i was naomi in the book of ruth. i was as depressed and hopeless as she was. we've been going ever since and absolutely love our small group friends.

after will "harassed" (haha!) us about our church and joining a small group in annapolis, he said, while looking at my obviously pregnant-with-kennedy belly, "a year ago we were here and life has changed quite a bit, huh?"

i thought for a second. it sure has. only a year ago we were standing on this porch talking to you just 2 days after burying our son. and now i'm 27 weeks pregnant with a child i might get to keep on earth this time...

back to our church here in annapolis...

wouldn't you know...the pastor's wife is in my group. great! and better yet, my first bible study leader, paula, is my leader again. paula is a baby-loss momma (her chad went to heaven when he was 7), and i deeply love her. we have a mix of young moms and 1 grandmother. it's gonna be awesome. oh, oh, and the BEST part. candice is from lubbock. they just moved here 6 weeks ago and she thought we weren't going to be friends because of my horns-jersey-wearing self, but when i intro'ed myself i clarified that i was a bet-loser, and she knew and i knew, we were just going to be BEST friends! this study is EXACTLY what i'm supposed to be doing right NOW.

why do i know this? well the above mentioned is pretty good reason right? but...

shelly chapin drake, who is on staff at our church, wrote the study - a heart-wide open. while sharing her testimony at the intro yesterday, she shared that she married the camp director, got a divorce and basically quit ministry. she was approached with ministry opportunity like 9 years later i think, and she said, "but you know i've been divorced, right?"

yeah, i kind of thought that part was cool too.

what wasn't cool was that i walked into the group, just as it was about to start (of course late b/c of kennedy's blowout in her 'horns jersey) and whispered, paula's group? oh, it's in the front there. looks like there is an empty seat.

front and center. front and center. God, you've got to be kidding me? i have to walk through the masses of tight tables and squeeze through the aisles wearing this burnt orange jersey? utter and pure humilation. until shelly shared her testimony and tears filled my eyes like 10x.

i was literally 2 feet from her while she spoke.

yes, God, you have my attention!

afterwards i told Shelly i was very excited about the study and i'm sorry that i was wearing the jersey. she said "i'm not" and i knew this texan would be a catalyst for how God is going to change me, again, this time...

but it would have been cooler if she were a red raider. i guess she can't be perfect, either!


postscript:

i think it would have been nice if i had actually read this book several years ago. after returning from bible study yesterday, i had it in my mind (thanks Jesus!), that i needed to read 'messy spirituality' by mike yaconelli. i mean, i didn't even know if i had it and certainly didn't know who wrote it, but something told me i did.

one of my best friend's angie gave it to me several years ago. to be exact, she wrote in it, "cortney, i do love you so! thanks for being my friend! enjoy! love, angie." the date? nov '02. 2002. 1 month after we lost big matty. and right about the time that ken and i were striking up a friendship to help each other through the grief of losing our best friend. (ken and i were introduced at matt's wedding, 4 months prior to his death.)

i have read 18 pages (my baby has reflux and wakes 3-4x/night) of this wonderful book, but i'll finish. i promise! like i'll actually read the WHOLE thing - no more of this start-a-book-and-not-finish-it thing.

to be accountable, i'll even share my journey through this book on my blog. if you're looking for a good read, pick it up. i can already tell it's going to SERIOUSLY CHANGE MY LIFE.

it might change yours too!

well in true cortney fashion, i am already 24 mins late to breastfeeding support group (it's kind of a drop in during the 2-hours; definitely my kind of group!), and haven't showered. (and the 'horns jersey is in the wash b/c my daughter puked on it, so score, i don't have to wear it!). i have no time to make edits to this post, re-read it or make certain words nice different colors. ha. letting go of my ability to be perfect is swell.

because...newsflash...i ain't!

have a messy and unfinished day! :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

sugar from the lips

the tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. proverbs 18:21 (niv)

he who guards his lips guards his life but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin. proverbs 12:3 (niv)

when words are many sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise. proverbs 10:19 (niv)


wowsers. these verses have always scared me, just a little. ok, A LOT! i am not a theology student or expert but i'm pretty sure it says that we can speak life or death in just a matter of a word. all of the sermons i have heard about this subject matter, speak of the great, and sometimes detrimental power of the tongue.


my hubby is a man of few words. as my friend laura once said about hers truly..."he doesn't think you should get paid by the number of words you speak!"

i used to think this was absurd! and probably, if i'm being honest, it's been one of the biggest struggles in our marriage. i have lots to say and wouldn't you know, God gave me a man who is practically mute. (j/k honey!)


"honey, but i just need to know, how do you FEEL about this?? please express it in words!"


i'm backtracking a little in my viewpoint that what you feel is what you always need to speak. ok, i'm backtracking from this philosophy a lot.

the more i read and study about the power of the tongue, the more i know, without a shadow of a doubt, that my tongue has and will continue to get me in trouble. a lot of trouble.

this week i tried a different approach...


the westin heavenly bed people finally called me after 2 weeks, to follow up on our drama of our bed delivery. the nice, and they really were, men (who delivered the bed that ultimately will be replaced with a new one because this one's boxspring was ripped), inadvertently drug the box springs from my front door to the master bedroom leaving a LONG, somewhat deep scratch in our hardwood floors.)

i was certainly upset that i hadn't heard from anyone in 2 weeks. but i decided to try a different approach. sugar was practically pouring from my lips, when i let her know that i was disappointed in what happened and the lack of follow up. as i was speaking, i couldn't believe my ears.


saying it nicely, got me amazing results.


i used to think i needed to light a fire under people's you-know-what to get them going, motivated, and passionate towards my irrational causes.

not so much. later that day i had 3 missed calls and 1 voicemail from a manager. sugar poured from her lips too and she was super-apologetic.


WIN-WIN!


the point i'm trying to make here is not that i want to write about how great i am or give myself kiddos on my sugar-speak...

the point is that i tried a different approach.

i realized that my rash speak can bring my ruin (prov 12:3).

as my photography professor would say, "look at the shot from a different angle and see what you get."

of course i wasn't batting .400+ the rest of the day. i left the house and a lady completely cut me off. i refrained from the sign language i once gave in this situation, but a 4-letter word somehow slipped out.


thankfully sin is sin, forgiveness is forgiveness, and grace is grace.

what do you need to look at from a different angle in your life today?

postscript:
and for my friends following my barf-orange-jersey-wearing drama this week, i'm 100 PERCENT SURE that taming the tongue DOES NOT apply when speaking of the TEXAS LONGHORNS. (however there may be unfair consequences to suffer.)

"i will cut off all the horns of the wicked but the horns of the righteous shall be lifted up!" psalm 75:10.

translation: the wicked texas longhorns are going down to the righteous red raiders in austin september 2011. (because there's always, 'next year'!) i'm sure 9 out of 10 theologians would agree with my interpretation of this wonderful passage. that 1 probably got a few F's in seminary.

still hookin' 'em until saturday. this tongue of mine definitely got me in trouble last saturday, and yes, i lost a bet. in this barf orange jersey all week. yuck!

even more poor kid suffers. i know, baby, there is just no good way to dress up barf orange! i'm sorry you have to suffer because of mommy's loose tongue!

now i can't help it if she is going to do a "horns down." i 100% believe in raising a child according to their own personality and to love her for who she is. apparently that's a red raider lover and a longhorn hater. i can't teach this at her age...it's just who she is. :) (clearly it's a horns down, even though a little blurry!)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

randomness

i have stuff to share and none of it actually connects so bear with me...

thought you would like to know that photography class went WAY better, but i realize i'm sort of in-over-my-head with the amount of time it's going to take and the little time i have. hmmm.......

i knew it would be a way better experience tonight when i managed to buy a spiral notebook on the way to class and pulled out suction cups from my backpack during my "pumping break." woot woot!

and just for the record, i think there are more professional photographers in my class who are moonlighting as students to get an easy A, than those of us who had no idea what apperture and shutter speed meant when we walked in the door.


while we were critiquing our photos that were displayed on the big screen for all to see, i was very glad not to be one of the students who actually shot in auto mode pretending to be in manual mode. unfortunately for them, our prof did some crazy tricks and pulled up a side bar that showed the settings for each photo. busted! my photos might have lacked the 'wow' factor, but they were at least shot in manual. A for effort, no?


did you notice the networkedblogs on my facebook site and button in the sidebar to the right??? yeah, i'm doing it. and if you'd become a follower, by clicking on the button on the right, i would be super grateful!! there is a point to this...hopefully revealed in the future...

i wanted to share with you that i'm in the process of figuring out how/when i can blog regularly. like 4-5x/wk. i hope it's not this late at night all the time, due to the fact that my now previously-slept-through-the-night 5-month-old is now waking 4-6x/night and i need to hit the hay early to get some sleep! but i promise it will be MORE than what it has been. one way or the other.

finally, look for more "meaty" posts this week on the following subjects (and by no means do i claim to be an expert):

- transparency
- power of the tongue
- seeking counsel

and i promise i won't forget to throw in a few pictures from my assignment this week in photography class. i am supposed to show up next week with 200 pictures capturing motion. like figuring out how to set shutter speed and apperture to capture motion while having a clear focal point and blurry background.

confused? yep, so am i. pray for me!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

happy 6th!


happy 6th honey!! i love you today so much more than i did 6 years ago. we've been though the good, the bad, and the ugly, but we're still standing strong. you inspire me to grow deeper with Christ and be a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, niece, and friend. most of all you are a shining example of how to love others well. i love you sweetheart!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

photography class and breastfeeding don't always mix

on monday i went to my first digital photography class. it was kind of a hairy day with kennedy feeding almost every hour and a half and sleeping 15 mins at a time, but i thought i got everything packed up that i needed.

just getting there on time was a minor miracle but i pulled it off, barely.

i entered the class and there was a good mix of young 19-something's and a few people who were older than me. the instructor introduced herself as sarah and then separated us into groups of canon, nikon, and other. i moved over to the other 5 nikon users and was quite intimidated when they pulled out lenses longer than my arm.

i thought to myself, isn't this beginner digital photography?


she began the class and encouraged us to take notes. i frantically looked through my backpack and realized i forgot a spiral notebook. i had the syllabus which was given to me when i arrived and if need be, my registration form. wheeww. i wrote small so to conserve the 2 backs of paper that i had and quickly tried to write everything down before she moved to the next slide, which was not easy!


alas she announced we were going to take a 10 minute break. i walked up and asked if i could take more like 15 minutes. i leaned in closer so other students wouldn't hear,"because i'm breastfeeding and need to pump."


based on the look she gave me i'm going to guess she a) doesn't have any children and b) has never been asked this question before. she was very accommodating and said she would wait to start the class until i got back.

i walked out of the class and quickly realized i was going to have to go to my car which was going to take a lot longer than 15 minutes. since they were going to wait, i decided to ask her if there was an office or something i could use.

she walked me down the hall to a spare office. perfect.

i reached into my backpack and realized something was terribly wrong.

i forgot the suction cups.

(no, i never thought those words would come out of my mouth, for the record.)

i called ken and told him i couldn't pump and he knew exactly why because he was looking at them in the dish rack. i decided to stay on the phone with him for 10 mins. i mean, what's my alternative? go back into class after only being gone for like 2 minutes, tops, and admit i forgot the goods to pump?

i don't think so.... :)

i hung up with ken, packed up the parts i had and headed back down the hall to my class.

but not before the pump fell out of my partially-zipped backpack onto the hallway floor right in front of a room full of students.

those who know me well know i didn't make up that last part. i only wish i did.

the pump made a loud noise when it hit the floor and i looked up to a few sets of eyes staring at me wondering what it was i dropped.

don't worry, i'll just pick up my breast pump and be on my way!

i returned to class to find they had recovened. i only had a quarter page left of open space so i wrote down just the highlights. 15 minutes later she wrapped up the class early. :)

good thing, because i'm not sure what else could have gone wrong!


hoping my next class goes better!

Monday, August 30, 2010

18 months - let go. let it go. let him go.

i debated on whether to backdate this post to the exact 18-month mark - july 11 - but decided to keep the actual writing date of aug 30. truth is, i'm afraid of what i'm about to write. i will try and be as concise as i can but the journey over the last 7+ weeks has been long...

the 18-month anniversary of giving matthew to Jesus came...and went on july 11. we were here in annapolis. it was a sunday and we didn't make it to church, but we did finally make it to small group late, around noon'ish. while it's rare for me to not talk about matthew during our discussion or prayer requests, i didn't. no one there even knew.


i mentioned it to ken later that day because i was pretty sure he didn't remember. 18 months is not really an anniversary most people would recognize, but i did. last year after we returned from living in greece, we were at matthew's grave on this day. we put in a bench in the sweltering heat, prayed, cried, took photos, screamed, read scripture, cried harder, and grieved at our son's grave for the first time since the burial.

but this year, july 11 came and went. no visit to the grave. (of course because we live in annapolis, md right now.) however, i spent some time reflecting and praying and this is what i heard from Jesus:

let go.

let it go.

let him go.

let go. ok, you want me to trust You, again. let "it" go. ok, You want me to ditch the anger. i think i can finally, really, do that.

but the last one i couldn't shake. are You kidding me?? let him go. i can't and won't ever be able to do that!


a gentle stirring began and grew to a roar that lasted for days and days. i heard many things from Jesus and mostly tried to ignore them because they were breaking my heart.

he is safe here in heaven.
he loves you and wants you to live and experience life again.
he adores his baby sister and wants you to enjoy every minute with her.
he wants you and daddy to get along better.
he desires you to have joy.
he doesn't want you to be angry anymore.
he prays you will have peace.
he WILL see you again in heaven. you WILL have all the embraces, kisses, smiles and laughter you didn't get on earth...and you WILL have them for an eternity.

i tried to fill my days that week with activity so i didn't have to think about what i heard. in other words, i was running! but that only goes on for so long. i was weary and afraid.

the night of my birthday july 16, actually in the wee hours the next day, i had a significant and life-changing conversation with one of my best friends, angie, while we were visiting bill and joni in raleigh. i won't go into all the details but what i needed to hear her say was that God has been the same God my whole life.


Exactly the same. Unwavering, steadfast, heartbreaking love for me. for ME! matthew's death passed through his hands but it wasn't because i wasn't doing something right. it wasn't because God wanted to wreck my life. He loves me still. i could be as angry as i wanted to be, but he loves me still.

after that conversation i realized i had to make a choice: the bitter, angry road that pretends to accept what happened and carries on the facade of christian living while trying, unsuccesfully, to cover up a resentful heart................or the grace road.

i choose the grace road. today, again tomorrow, and again the day after tomorrow...

what does that look like?

it means i have to spend EVERY day, asking God to give me the strength, will, power, and grace to live. not in the 'lord, help me today because i don't wanna live' kind of way. been there, done that.

exactly the opposite. i want to truly live life! in other words, a total dependence on Him. a complete surrender. a passionate love towards Him and others. a fervent ear to His calling. all the while knowing, there will be more tragedy and more heartache in this broken world. realizing my total brokenness, unworthiness, and imperfection continues in this human body apart from God, but He gives me grace anew each day. until the race is over and we go Home to Glory where we will finally be restored, reunited and redeemed.

while i know i have experienced this surrender in my life when i came to know Christ as a teenager, and at different stages of my life thereafter following down wrong paths, it has taken on a whole new meaning after the loss of a child.

i can better understand God's sacrifice of His Son, given for us. i didn't want to understand it better....

...but i do.

the following week on july 22, after that conversation with angie, i showed up mid-study to sarah cochran's healing hearts bible study who was going through "grieving the child i never knew" by kathe wunnenberg. sarah leads this study knowing personally how important, but difficult it is. she lost her sweet mikayla, one who resembles God, 8 years ago.

i did this study with sarah from nov 30 last year through sometime at the end of february, after we dug ourselves out of the four feet of snow! she was instrumental in helping me grieve my sweet boy and i adore her, for who she is and what she does for others, especially those who are in the "baby loss" club. i knew i needed to do the study before kennedy arrived and she accomodated that. it was very hard, but such a blessing. and now 6 months later, i needed to revisit it.

sarah said i was changed. that i was much better. night and day difference from six months ago. i didn't really admit much better was only in the last week.

i reread my journal entries from 6 months prior and thought, i have changed. i am better. and in some ways, worse. lots of work to do, indeed. the most important kind of work - relationship work. starting first with a loving God, then with my sweet, patient husband. then with my precious daughter and my unwavering family. then my amazing friends and some nice strangers. lots of i'm truly sorry's, asking forgiveness, and giving it.

i realized i needed to say it out loud. i needed accountability. so on aug 1 at our small group. i told the group with tears streaming down my face:

i think i am ready to let matthew go. not let go and forget him. just let go and give him to God. and to move forward with our life without him on this earth. i know we'll be reunited with him one day.

i barely got the words out. and out of the corner of my eye i saw ken tear up. it was the first time he was hearing it too.

one of our members spoke such amazing and encouraging words to me. i would love to share those but i need to ask permission first because it would be telling a part of his story.

there was work to be done. i couldn't let the grief of losing matthew overtake him.

we left and the sun was brighter that day. but i was scared of what i had just professed.

what does this mean?

what will it look like?

and almost a month later it's lollipops and roses. but of course not! we face an enemy that wants to kill and destroy. every test will be presented. every test will be battled. but every test will be WON. i've got a BIG God on my side and his armor is pretty darn good.

ken's driving still drives me crazy. it's pretty safe and sound, even though i like to call it aggressive. i drive the speed limit or maybe a little over, sometimes. ironically, when i'm a passenger while he's driving, i would just assume we drive in the right hand lane going 40 mph with all of the sweet little old ladies. i know...clearly i've got issues! but i love that man with all of my heart. God gave me a precious jewel when he allowed me to be his wife and i look forward to spending the next 50+ years with him.

and as for kennedy, she has stolen my heart. i have been, and continue to be, so in love with both of my children. matthew made me a momma for the first time and it was such a privilege to give birth to him and be apart of the journey of his short life and his long legacy. kennedy has made me a parent. her sweet kisses and smiles melt my heart. i look forward to parenting her all the days of my life.

my family is my heartbeat and i know i need to do a better job of showing them how much i love them. because they do a fantastic job of loving me.

my friends are such a blessing and without many of them i would not be making it through this. your prayers have sustained me, beloved friends.

i am so glad you are apart of this journey. your prayers for me and my family are so appreciated. i am thankful God has put you in my life and wish many blessings for you today and all the days to come.


blessings come in different forms. some are immediately recognized, some take a little time, and some take a lifetime.

many, many, blessings...

there will be more to say...there always is...

Friday, August 27, 2010

back to school

so yes, this may be my only post for august. slogger, indeed. i have to admit, posting pictures is much easier on FB. i try to leave this blog for stories, thoughts, ramblings, reflections, etc. i just can't seem to find the time to do it. i'll get better, i promise!

but i had to jump on and tell you that i'm excited to announce...i'm a student again!!

after much debate about just taking a continuing ed course on the weekends for no credit that starts at the end of september, the photography coordinator talked me into enrolling into digital photography, art 120, a 3-hour credit course, complete with grades and homework and everything. yep, i'm nervous!

the only bummer was the first class meeting was this past monday, aug. 23 and i didn't find out about the class until tuesday. funny how in college i never went to the first week of classes because i could get away with it, as nothing important ever happened (oh, wait; i did miss a biology quiz once and got a BIG FAT ZERO!)


i felt bad to miss the first class and sent an overly kiss-up email to the instructor who must have thought it was just that. she wrote back something short and direct, told me to get the book, and thanks for getting in touch. wowsers, i do hope i can turn this around. i mean i need her to like me! not to mention that i'd really like to get an A.

yes, all for a photography class. one that some people just choose to take at a camera store for a month-full of saturdays. nothing wrong with that. but i tend to do things, sometimes, to the extreme. ok, let's be real, almost always. :)

so i'll keep you abreast of how the class is going. ken promises he'll be home early on mondays so i can leave by 5:30. class is from 6-9:45pm until december something, and i just don't think the instructor would be happy to have an almost 5-month-old breastfeeding infant joining us. i don't want to press my luck on getting that A!

i do have to tell you one story about picking up my student i.d. and required book for the class. kennedy and i went to campus yesterday and she was sacked out in the ergo carrier. in addition to her on my chest, i had my purse and diaper bag. i entered the bookstore, which is attached to the cafeteria where student i.d.'s were being made. so here is how the exchange went with the friendly man at the door:



man: "hello!"
me: "well hello, how are you?"


man: "i'm great. and you?"

me: "fantastic! have a great day!" i kept walking towards the books.
man: "ma'am, ma'am, i need your bag."

me: "oh...this one? it's ok, it's my diaper bag."


man: "i have to check it. you can get it when you leave."


me: "oh, but see i am getting my book and then heading out the other exit to the cafeteria to get my student i.d."


man: "i still have to check it."


me: "but what if my baby has a poopy diaper? the line is long and well, i may need things in here."


he just gave me a look of 'no.' clearly he wasn't budging.


me: "o-kay" said not in the best of tones, and i handed him the bag.

man: "you can come back and pick it up before you head to the cafeteria." and he handed me a numbered clothespin.

i made my way to get the book and through the line in 20 minutes. then i walked over to the man to retrieve my bag.
man: "did you find everything ok?"
me: still annoyed by the fact i had to give up my diaper bag, i had to find the words to be nice because clearly he was being very nice. he was also probably retired and had worked his whole life, and i want to be nice to my elders. "i did, thank you. and thanks for letting me get my diaper bag. my daughter usually has blowouts this time of day."
the 19-year-old boy standing next to me who was picking up his back pack made a disgusted face and walked away. then the nice man and i had an exchange of "ha ha" smiles.
i walked straight back through the bookstore, out the other exit, towards the cafeteria, to obtain my student i.d.
believe me, i was tempted to grab a book, put it in my diaper bag and run. i just didn't think it would be too funny to call ken from jail. :)


i feel like i will now really LOVE the show 'community.' i'm going to be more intentional about watching it this fall.


don't judge the quality of these photos too much; i'm going to improve! but to my credit a) they were taken with a camera phone and b) the second one was taken by a boy who i finally got up the nerve to ask! i was too afraid of being a geek. but clearly i was. :)
it was nice that they didn't make me take kennedy off because she was sleeping in the ergo carrier. her head is in the bottom right hand corner of the student i.d. photo.


Saturday, July 31, 2010

slogger

oops! where did july go?? i became a slogger and didn't post! it was a crazy month but i thought i would fill you in...




- kennedy turned 3 months old on july 4th! we went to the neighborhood bike parade but skipped fireworks. next year.



july 4, 2010




- kennedy's first laugh was on my (30th - haha!) birthday, july 16th! we didn't get a video of it though. ken, kennedy and i drove down to raleigh, n.c. to stay with the danjczek's and angie and her sweet kids, andy and m.e. came up from s.c. to meet k. it was a fantastic weekend! we even got to see elisha on friday night. needed that girls' time BADLY! and again, we didn't get any pictures!

- kennedy went into the pool for the first time, but no photos! we were in raleigh at joni's gym's pool and as i was waiting for kennedy to wake up, i was snapping pictures of joni, angie and the kids. a worker came over to me and said photography was not allowed due to their policy on protecting children from internet predators, etc. yikes! i asked if i could just snap one of my daughter's first time in the water and he said no. i thought he might confiscate my $1000+ camera so i didn't push it. but it's sad, i think, that there are rules like this in place. on one hand i'm glad there are, on the other, i'm like, what????? we'll recreate the first time in the water experience soon and post pics.


- ken sold our nice boat so we could pay off some debt. but of course we can't go without one, so while kennedy and i stayed in raleigh, he drove down to florida and bought a 1988 martinique correct craft, complete with a cuddy cabin for k. an 87-year-old man owned it and wasn't using it anymore. ken didn't understand why. :) this one will be a lot better for the chesapeake bay water. it needs some tlc but i think it will be a good boat for us and at the price of $3500, you can't beat it! (pics on previous post.)


- kennedy had her first babysitter on july 3 so we could take our old boat out one last time with cory and liz who came in town to visit. i only texted twice; once to give her my cell # (forgot to write it on the list of instructions but she had it saved from when i first called her - smart girl!), and the second time to ask if we could stay out 2 hours longer because we were having so much fun wakeboarding again! kennedy also had a babysitter on july 24 for 9 hours while mom and dad were partying it up at liesel's wedding! she did great; and so did we. it helped that we came home for about an hour in between wedding/reception while i pumped and ken changed, so we got to see our sweet baby before she went to bed. we are going to add having a babysitter 2x/mo to our budget so we can have date nights. much needed!
- kennedy's first time in the bumbo seat...she loves it!
- our good friends the wainwrights moved to the area (in va about 45 mins away) this month. kennedy is already in love with noah who is 4 days older than her and she's pretty fascinated with jack his 21-month-old brother. we are so excited that they're going to live here for awhile!

- kennedy hosted her first play date and the other big kids played while she hung out on her mat and they pushed her in the swing. she slept for most of it!

where's kennedy??

- i'm dairy-free now going on 3 weeks. trying to see if this helps with her reflux. the verdict's still out. it's HARD going without cheese but i love kennedy more and if this helps her tummy not hurt as much, i'm in.


- 30-hour power outage and we all bunked down in the unfinished basement. interesting. after 5 hours i realized it wasn't going to come on for the night, so i took the only thing i cared about - about 60 oz of frozen breast milk to our friend's freezer. using an inverter, ken hooked up the car battery, then boat battery to power 2 fans and a light. a modern day macgyver - i love that he is so handy! seriously though, i'm glad we didn't blow up like macgruber! :) we lost everything in the fridge/freezer. it was kind of a cleansing process though; out with the not-so-healthy foods and on to better and healthier. after i got home from the grocery stores, there was no time/energy to cook so i went to pick up takeout. ken ordered a 3-piece fried chicken dinner from popeye's and i picked up sushi for myself. yin and yang. guess old habits die hard. :) i do have to say ken's doing great with all the new recipes. we use the "points system" from e-mealz.com (like weightwatchers). $5 month buys you recipes for 5 meals per week complete with the shopping list...so easy to not think about what i'm cooking for dinner. we love it!



kennedy slept on the left (you can see top of her swing just above couch) and we set up our spare bed on the right.


- kennedy's first visit to the disney store...and maybe last! how can they charge $50 for a cinderella dress?? tell you what kennedy, if mommy finds it at the second-hand store, i'll buy one for you! we played with the minnie ears and got a picture.

when i texted this pic to my family, ken wrote back, "disney??!! why? she can't turn out like lindsey lohan." such dramatics!



- kennedy's first baseball game nats vs. braves. arrived at the bottom of the 5th inning (last minute tkts) just in time for a HUGE thunderstorm. we took cover under a 4 foot wide overhang for 30 minutes of blowing rain, gave up and decided to leave. didn't get to see one play! of course when daddy went to get the car the skies cleared. we snapped a few photos before leaving. we'll have to redo the baseball experience too!


- kennedy is grabbing at everything! it's awesome to see her developing!



- finally, july 11th came....and then went. 18 months without our matthew....sometimes it feels like yesterday. separate post later.


hope you've enjoyed catching up with us in july. i hope to be much better in aug but i know with our trip to dallas/arkansas, it's going to be busy!



love to you all!

Friday, July 30, 2010

boats and babies

we traded the 2002 version...
for the 2010 model...(kgs at 8 weeks)



...and got the 1988 classic! baby trumps a nice boat!
(but ken will get this lookin' nice soon enough!)