Monday, April 28, 2014

Peace after the storm...

I love this time of year, but I hate one of the things that Spring brings to Arkansas.


I'm deathly afraid of them and just want to be in my closet when the tornado warnings/sirens start.

The warnings began while we were at Amelia's Spring dance recital. They moved us to a room at the church, lights were flickering, and I just wanted to be home in my closet. I immediately think of my babies and how I would try to save them if we were actually hit by a tornado. I let my mind race with "what ifs" and play out every scenario in my head.

We decided to leave the recital early and start home.

(picture from KATV website)

By the time we arrived home, tornadoes had touched down in different areas of central Arkansas.  Bedtime arrived and stories started to flood newsrooms and social media. I finally stopped checking my phone around 2am. I would awake throughout the night to check on different families that I knew were in the path of the storms. Just praying for the best.

The photo below is the before/after picture of a home that belonged to a family of 11. They had 9 children. The father and two of their daughters didn't survive the storm. The Mom and her 7 children are in the hospital. Many with broken bones. All with broken hearts.

I know what it's like to lose everything you own. My family went through the loss of two homes. 

I learned at a very young age that things can be replaced. Things are just...things.

I remember the second time we experienced the loss of our home. I was in grade school. I remember my friends telling me how sorry they were and all I felt was relief. I was just so thankful that my family wasn't home when our house caught fire. Even as a child, I replayed the "what ifs" in my head. I remember rounding the corner where our two-story home used to peek above the trees and there was nothing there. It was all gone. 

But in that moment, it was okay.

Our family of eight walked away as a family of eight.  

My family was okay. 

It's okay that I don't have a baby book, or baby clothes, or many pictures of when I was a child. 

It's okay because I have my family.

Many in my home state lost everything last night.  They walked away from a pile of rubble they used to call home and they couldn't say, "it's okay because I have my family."  

Some lost a father/husband. Some lost a mother/wife. Some lost their children.

I know my God is good and He never changes. 
I know my God can sustain these families during their grief. 
I also know that with that truth comes pain.  

It's times like this that I find myself saying, "God, why did you allow that to happen to this family??"

I was going through my notes from Bible study last week and it was just what I needed to read.

"God often answers our questions by revealing WHO HE IS."

When the disciples were in the boat in the midst of that terrible storm, they cried out, "Teacher, don't you care if we drown!??"

Jesus answered, "Peace Be Still!" 

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:37

Jesus is our Peace.

When I have a question for God and I feel like He just hasn't answered me - that's simply not true. God answers many of my questions by revealing His character. (Galatians 5:22-23)

He is Peace.

Please pray for my home state. 

Pray for all of the families that are picking up the pieces as best they know how. 

Pray for those ministering to communities as they grieve and rebuild. 

Pray they find Peace in the aftermath of this storm. 

Pray for Peace that surpasses all understanding.

Love to all,

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Child of the One True King...

Yesterday was Amelia's closing program at Community Bible Study. We only have one more week of CBS and then it's time for summer break. We're going to miss it! We've already registered for Fall semester.  I'm going to miss the ladies in my class. We just love it so much.

Poor Sydney. I always have to wake her to get ready for CBS. She loves her sleep. She just wanted her sunglasses and paci this morning. She was too sleepy to even eat breakfast!

Amelia was so excited to see her Daddy on the front row for her closing program!

I actually took my good camera and then couldn't figure out why it wouldn't work. I forgot to put the memory card back in the last time I transferred pictures. 

I'm in need of a new memory card for my brain.

She was a little nervous until she spotted us. 

They all did a great job.

The older kiddos (ages 5-teen) did motions to the song "Child of the One True King." 

I start crying every time I think about it. 

They each wrote something on a sign - something people have said to them a lot. 

Which was so brave. They were being vulnerable in front of all of these people they don't even know. 

These were things they were choosing to let go and not believe anymore. 

I was shocked at what I was reading. 

Little boys and girls holding up signs that say:
"I'm fat" 
"I'm a weird shape"
"I'm not pretty" 
"I'm not smart" 


It broke my heart. 

And the Mama inside of me wanted to hunt down whoever said those things to these children and tear.into.them.

At the same time, it was wonderful to see what CBS is doing in the lives of these children. They're teaching them who their true self-worth and confidence should be in, despite what mean people say. They're teaching them scripture and songs to fight those lies from the enemy. And that is awesome!

We love the children's director, Mrs. Steffanie! She loves the kiddos so much - she knows every single child's name at CBS and greets them every single week with a smile. She also led the music in the children's department. 

Sadly, this will be her last semester. We will miss her!

Amelia with her teachers, Mrs. Charlotte and Mrs. Amber. She talks about these ladies like they're her best friends. She adores them. They are so loving and have taught Amelia so many things about the Bible. They make it a point to teach the importance of hiding God's Word in your heart. I just appreciate the time they give to teach my child.

Sydney with her teachers, Mrs. Paula and Mrs. Jeri. They are two of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet. They are SO PATIENT with the kiddos. They call Sydney their baby and have given her the nickname "BOSS LADY." HAHA!! They know her well!! I know they love her because Sydney can't wait to see them every week. It's always a clear sign of how your child is treated when they march right into a room and don't even look back to say bye. :)

Daddy took us to lunch after Amelia's program. 

She chose Cracker Barrel. She loves Cracker Barrel and I'm convinced it's because there's a store with toys connected to the restaurant. She knows we'll walk through the store after we eat. 

I put the girls down for a nap after lunch. I walked in to find Amelia asleep with baby Jesus on the pillow next to her. It made me giggle.

We played outside after nap time. The girls played with their "living sand" for a while. I love that it doesn't make a mess!

I also love these shorts that I found for Amelia at Target. I hate really short-shorts and these are the perfect length for my long-legged girl!

We rode bikes for a while too.

And then we moved to the backyard and jumped on the trampoline. After we were worn out from that, we had some iPad time while Daddy grilled dinner!

And we ended our night with making brownies. 

It really was the perfect day.

Love to all,

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014...

Easter weekend was fun!  Alex flew home on Friday and made hotel/dinner reservations for just the two of us.  An overnight date night!!  My favorite.

Alex is traveling a lot lately and even though it's not easy on any of us, I'm so very proud of him.  He works extremely hard to provide for our family. He works extremely hard pastoring our church. And above both of those things, he works extremely hard to make me and the girls a priority. What he does isn't easy. I admire and love him so much.

Our niece, Victoria stayed with the girls and did a great job caring for our babies.  She babysat a lot for us to pay for her spring break trip and the girls LOVED spending time with her. So we've asked her to be our summertime babysitter and the girls couldn't be more excited. Sydney is so much like makes me smile.

We were home around noon on Saturday.  I ran a few last minute errands and worked at the church for a bit. By the time I arrived home, it was time to take Amelia to play baseball.

She asked Alex if he would take her to the "baseball court" after his trip to Des Moines.

We obviously need to work on our baseball lingo.

So off to the baseball court we went.

She could actually hit the ball. I was surprised!

Sydney was over snacks and did a great job cheering for her sister!

They loved running the bases.

We came home and the girls dyed Easter eggs with their Daddy while I did some baking for Easter Sunday.  Dyeing eggs is always messy.  Amelia went to church with a green hand on Sunday.  And Sydney just wanted to crush the eggs with her bare hands. Daddy's nerves were shot trying to keep them clean. I was reminded why I do the crafts with the girls. HA!  It was funny to watch!

 They sure had fun though!

They colored this little Easter story kit and after that, it was time to call it a night! 

I didn't take one picture of the girls with my good camera.  They're all with my phone. Sundays are always crazy for us. 

This is Sydney "smiling pretty." HAHA!

This is Mama wrangling Sydney for a picture. 

Me and my girls.

Great message and time of worship with my church family!

Amelia and Sydney with their cousin, Kandace.

Kandace is one of her best friends. :)

Sydney with her friends, Nathaniel and Shelby. I love these babies!

Me and my love.

They had the Easter story in children's church and decorated Easter cookies!

We headed to Daddygrand's and Nana's after church.  

We had a yummy meal and the kids had their annual Egg hunt.  Nana always fills the eggs with money. 

I laugh looking at these pictures.  Alex dressed the girls after church and put Amelia's shirt on Sydney and Sydney's shirt on Amelia.  They stayed like that all afternoon.  

She was proud of herself. 

Thanks, Nana!!

We celebrated Anna's birthday too!

It was Sunday evening before the girls were able to go through their baskets.

Sydney's favorite was the bubble gum tape. I love her sleepy eyes in this picture.

New books!

I've had these little purses put away since last August! It's a miracle I remembered where they were hidden.

Bubble tape excitement!

And she really liked her giant Easter egg cookie.

Ya know, I was reading the Easter story to Amelia a few days ago and started crying. She's always very concerned when she sees tears.  She asks me "why do you have on your crying face, Mama?" It's hard to explain to a four year old why you're crying tears of joy or because you're just so thankful for something. She associates crying with sadness. But that's all I could tell her...because I'm so thankful for my salvation through Jesus. I'm so thankful for what He did for me.

There is absolutely nothing good about me or in me. I'm a rebellious sinner. I remember sharing my testimony one time and when I was finished, one of the ladies said, "I would have never guessed you had done all you've done or that you were even capable of that." I had to laugh because I know if anyone sees any good in me at all, it's only because of God's amazing grace. We all have a different story but we all need the same thing. We're all sinners in need of a Savior.

Honestly, I hope I'm never able to read the Easter story or sing about what He did for me without getting emotional. I'm thankful for the victory I have in Jesus because of His victory over death. My God is not dead. He is risen!! And because of Him, I have eternal life. 

"The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. “He is not here, for He has risen..." Matthew 28:5-6

Love to all,