Tuesday, December 2, 2008

I temporarily lost my mind-- Part 2

A month and a half ago I wrote a post explaining a moment of insanity in my life where I scanned and bagged all of my items at Walmart only to discover I had no method of payment. I thought that was the dumbest thing I'd done in a long time, but yesterday I added to my repertoire of really dumb mistakes. Since I am beginning to see a trend in this behavior I thought I would just make this post "Part 2", an addendum to the original. I'm hoping not to have a part 3, 4, 5, and 10...but you never know!

Yesterday morning I had a meeting with a new friend at Starbucks at 9 AM. Yesterday was also my mom's birthday so I decided to call her on my way to Starbucks to wish her a happy birthday. We chatted briefly about what we were each doing that day and I told her about my appointment. I sat in my car outside of Starbucks for a few minutes as we finished up our conversation and then went inside to wait for my friend. Unfortunately my friend never showed up, so I waited for about 40 minutes and then decided to leave. Wanting to do something nice for Andy, I ordered him a latte and then started to search for my keys.

I fumbled around in my purse for a few minutes, certain I just wasn't feeling them and they had fallen to the bottom. I went to a table and unloaded all the junk from my purse only to confirm the sinking suspicion that they were not there and I must have locked them in my car as I was carelessly talking to my mom. I walked toward my car so that I could look through the windows to try to see the keys, but there was no need to even get that close. My keys were obviously in the car. Why was I so certain? Because the car was running!!! I sat in Starbucks for 45 minutes while my car ran idly outside...exhaust puffing out the muffler and all! I called Andy so he could bring me a set of keys and when he answered the phone I said, "I am so embarrassed to have to tell you what I am about to tell you..."

As I waited for someone to come get me, I walked over to Best Buy and Michael's to do a little Christmas shopping, all the while carrying Andy's latte that was growing colder by the minute. My friend, Mandy, brought me a set of keys, and an hour and a half after arriving at Starbucks, my car was still nice and warm when I got in. That's more than I can say for the latte! Sorry, Babe...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Wood, Jackson, and Santos familes celebrated this first Thanksgiving in California in style! We had such a great day being together. We have so much for which to be thankful. After feeding the kids a lunch and doing some crafts with them, the kiddos took a nap while we enjoyed an adult lunch. Here are some snapshots to recapture the day!
Andy & Mandy helping the kids make noodle necklaces.

Making Native American head dresses

Our two Indian Chiefs

A very aggressive hug that turned into a tackle

Big hugs! I love Lily's face in this pic!

This was the first time since we got married that Andy & I used our fine china and crystal!
It was a lot of fun and quite beautiful, if I may say so myself!

"The Spread" Mmmmmm!

"Uncle Awchie" carving the turkey


The guys showing off their very full bellies after eating that feast...
quite attractive, don't you think?

A pumpkin-chocolate cheesecake made by Mandy. It was better than The Cheesecake Factory!

My little Turkey!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Due to recent cut backs...

Today I saw a bumper sticker that said, "Due to recent cut backs, the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off."

After I laughed out loud, I thought that statement really captured what so many people are feeling right now. We are living in the greatest economic crisis of my lifetime, and some have even said since the Great Depression. There is so much uncertainty. Most of us personally know someone who has lost a job or had major life style changes as a result of the economy. People are really hurting and some feel that they are without hope.

When I saw that bumper sticker, I was so glad that the Light at the end of my tunnel never turns off. He is Hope for the hopeless. He offers peace that passes all understanding. He gives perspective when life is overwhelming. The Light of the World shines brightest in the darkness.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

In My Opinion

This post is an addendum to my last one regarding my lack of visual/spacial intelligence. After reading my post, my dad responded that it sounds like I needed my sister. Let me explain why he would say that and how true it is...

When I was growing up, my sister (3 years older) loved to play "mommy" to me and I loved to let her. She did my hair every day until I was in middle school. She and I shared clothes until she went away to college (and it was a MAJOR crisis when she moved out and we had to divide the clothes). And virtually all the clothes we owned had been picked out by her. This should have been a red flag that perhaps I have a slight disability when it comes to fashion, but I just explained it by saying that I like her taste.

It got worse, not better. When Andy and I were engaged, I took Stephanie (my sister) with me to help me register. (Can you even imagine someone like me trying to register by myself? Can you say nightmare?) At first I was excited and motivated, but by the end of the day I was in tears and she had the scanning gun.

When shopping for my wedding dress, my mom and I narrowed it down to 3 options but I could not make a final decision. I told the attendant helping me, "I'll bring my Opinion next time." I'm not sure she realized I was talking about a person! My sister, therefore, picked out my wedding dress, my bridesmaid dresses, my china, and virtually everything else that I registered for!

Andy and I have moved 5 times since we've been married and 4 of those times, either my mom, my sister, or both have been there to hang pictures and put up decorations. One time a college student said to me, "I really love design and interior decorating! I could help you if you want me to!" How gracious! This comment was after I thought my house was decorated!

This is a major issue for me. I guess we all have things we're good at...this just definitely is not one of mine!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Confession: I'm really bad at...

I am really bad at anything that has to do with home decor, design, or fashion. Apparently the visual/spacial part of my brain never developed. I don't know where to hang a picture. I don't know how to pick out paint colors to coordinate with throw pillows and curtains. Some days, I don't even know if a certain shirt matches a pair of pants. (Andy has had to tell me before "That doesn't go together." True story.)

The other day Andy and I went to the mall. This is always a miserable experience for me because I hate to shop and going to the mall just reminds me of how out-of-style my clothes really are. I don't even know where to start. Knowing that I have a limited clothing budget it's always a dilema: Should I invest my clothing money in shirts or pants or shoes or accessories? Should I buy brands that look nicer and last longer or should I buy less expensive clothing so my money will go further?

After walking aimlessly through the mall on two different occassions, I decided to just go to Target and buy some shirts, but have resolved to buy a nice pair of jeans. I wear jeans almost every day of my life and I want a pair I feel good in. I have some money from my birthday that I've been saving for such an occassion, but I have no idea where to start. Almost every store sells jeans and there are 10 different styles at each store. Any suggestions on the best places to buy jeans?

(PS- Please keep in mind when making suggestions on where to shop that a "nice" pair of jeans is still relative...I don't plan on spending $200 on one pair!)

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Missing Person Report

We have tragically lost an important family member. If you, or anyone you know, has any information concerning the whereabouts of this person, please contact me immediately!

Name: Fuzzy Wuzzy
Date of Adoption: December 9, 2006
Height: 13 inches
Weight: 2 pounds
Eye Color: Black marbles
Hair Color: Brown (covers entire body)
Last seen wearing: a green apron

Our precious Fuzzy Wuzzy was last seen going for a stroller ride with our family on Saturday in Rivermark Plaza. His older brother, Caedmon, misses him desperately, especially at naptime and bedtime. Please help us bring Fuzzy home!

Monday, November 17, 2008

One down...One million to go!

Yesterday was an amazing day! South Bay Church had our first ever public service and we were thrilled by all that God did. 175 people present. 5 decisions to follow Christ. And a ton of people interested in more information about the church!
I cannot even tell you how much prayer and anticipation led up to this day. On Sunday I had that really strange feeling of total exhaustion from working around the clock but being completely wired from adrenaline, caffeine, and nervous energy! When my alarm went off at 5:30 AM it felt like the gun at the starting gate of a race. A shot of adrenaline pumped through my body and I was ready to go!
Today I feel a mixture of emotions. Thankful, excited, and relieved would be at the top of the list. Thankful for all that God did. Excited to get to be apart of this movement of His Spirit that will have rippling effects throughout the Silicon Valley and ultimately the Bay Area. And relieved to have that first Preview Gathering behind us!
At the very beginning of the worship set with the band already at full volume Archie yelled out, "Good morning! And welcome to South Bay Church!" Hearing those words for the first time was an amazing feeling. I (along with several others) let out a loud cheer as I inwardly thanked God for bringing us this far. This is the vision that we've been dreaming for so long unfolding before our eyes. Not without work. Not without tears and hardship and barriers to overcome. But God is faithful and He is the One propelling this forward.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Discipline of Sabbath

Where have I been? It's been a while since my last post...or since the last time I watched TV, or replied to a friend's email, or read someone else's blog... So what has been keeping me so busy? South Bay Church's first Preview Service is in NINE (9) days!!! The count down is on and we are all working around the clock to pull everything together. It's a very busy, but very exciting time!

Even with all the insanity that is surrounding our lives right now, Andy and I are still trying to practice the discipline of "Sabbath". We work (hard) for six days, but on the seventh day (for us it's Friday) we try not to do anything related to work. I even had to work kinda late last night and I've got my whole day planned out tomorrow in order to be able to take the day off today. But it's worth the extra thought and planning in order to have 24 hours of rest.

Today we drove up to San Francisco, walked around on Pier 39, watched the sea lions, ate some lunch, and got some ice cream. It was a lot of fun, and so healthy just to let our system have time to shut down and reboot. It reminds us to laugh, to have fun, and to cherish the moment. It helps us not just see each other as ministry partners, but as a family with love and commitment far deeper than a call to start a church.

It's not easy to practice "Sabbath" and it's been something that we've had to grow into. We try very hard not to make "exceptions" for why we would need to work half a day, or reply to that email, or return that phone call. We're not legalistic about it. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that an exception needs to be made. But we try hard to limit it.

I can't even tell you how difficult it has been for me today not to get some work done. I've got a lot of deadlines and very little time to get it done. But, for me, practicing Sabbath is an act of trust. It reminds me that God is the one driving this church forward and the world will not stop turning if I take a day off. It reminds me that He is God and I am not. The work will still be there waiting for me tomorrow. But today, I choose to rest. I choose to trust.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I love our staff!

When Andy and I decided to move cross-country to California, the most painful aspect of that choice meant moving so far away from both of our families. It can be quite lonely and difficult to raise children without the support of family. That is why we felt so incredibly thankful that the Jackson and Santos families decided to move with us! Our staff team is becoming more and more like family every week. Caedmon calls both couples "Aunt" or "Uncle" and he loves them dearly.

This week Andy had to go out of town for a church planters gathering. And I just have to brag on how my friends have taken care of me. Yesterday afternoon I was trying to figure out what Caedmon and I would eat for dinner. I knew I wasn't going to cook a meal because Caedmon wouldn't eat it anyway. So I had resigned to pretty much do a repeat of lunch. A few minutes later, Mandy called to invite us over to their house for dinner!

Also, all the ladies from South Bay Church were getting together for coffee last night but I had not planned on going since Andy wasn't home to stay with Caedmon. But then Rebekah called and said, "Archie said he'd come over and put Caedmon to sleep so that you could come with us!" Wow! Those two gestures of kindness reminded me so much of what family would do for each other. I am so blessed!

So Caedmon had a great time with "Uncle Awchie" as they played with his firetruck, watched Boz, and ate Teddy Grahams. That won Caedmon over for life! When Caedmon woke up this morning I went in to get him and he immediately started asking for "Uncle Awchie". "Uncle Awchie in living room? Uncle Awchie in living room?" Watching my child fall in love with our staff makes me love our staff even more!

Monday, October 27, 2008

My Jog Stroller

I have a love/hate relationship with my jog stroller...Today the feeling is mostly hate. Typically I am not an outdoor runner. The jog stroller was more for Andy's benefit as I tend to prefer the climate controlled treadmill where I can program how long and how fast I want to run, and most importantly, it's always flat! Actually I'm pretty much a wimp if the conditions are not absolutely perfect. For me to run outside it has to be flat with the temperature somewhere between 50-80 degrees. (I do not like to break a sweat!) However, our apartment complex has a great running track on the perimeter which is a little over a mile long. It's flat, paved, and well lit. Combine that with the amazing California weather and it's pretty enticing to get outside and run, so our jog stroller has been getting a lot of use since we've been here.

The jog stroller has been getting worse and worse. It's one of those three-wheeled strollers with bicycle tires that are supposed to roll really easily. Well, our poor little guy has seen better days. The front wheel has completely fallen off three times now! The tires are out of alignment so you have to keep redirecting the stroller every few feet or you will be in the bushes. Today, it was so bad that I had to run the entire time with the front wheel in the air! (not exaggerating) I'm sure I looked insane trying to run while balancing my stroller on two wheels! But every time the front tire touched down the stroller made a hard left turn. Needless to say, I only made it one lap today and have resolved to just do workout DVDs (with the blinds closed) until I get it fixed. Argh!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

I temporarily lost my mind

I had been needing to make a Walmart run all week, but just couldn't find the time. So last night I decided to try to squeeze one in after Caedmon's nap before dinner. Wouldn't you know that there were a million people there. Caedmon and I braved the crowds and fought our way to the Halloween costume section (where everyone seemed to be swarming). We found a cute little knight in shining armor costume and then proceeded to shop for the rest of our needed items. I finally made it to the check out line, scanned and bagged all of our merchandise, and...oh my gosh, I have no method of payment! My debit card was in the back pocket of my pants from the night before and I didn't have my checkbook for some reason. I was mortified. Actually more frustrated and disappointed than embarrassed. So Caedmon and I came home empty-handed...(sigh). That is the first (and hopefully the only) time I have ever done that!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

It's Your Choice...

Yesterday, for Family Day, Caedmon was very whiny. Yes, it's true, not every Family Day ends up with us leaping through meadows while holding hands and singing "The hills are alive with the sound of music"! We are really working with Caedmon on using a "pleasant voice" when he speaks to us, but I'm gathering that it's a difficult concept for a two year old.

We were on our way home from the park and Caedmon was whining. None of the, "Gee, Mom and Dad, thank you so much for taking me to the park. I've noticed that every Family Day you do something that I would think is fun. You guys are the best parents!" Yeah, none of that. Whining. Finally I had had enough and I said to Caedmon (who was whining for raisins) "Caedmon if you will stop whining, Mommy will give you some grapes for your lunch when we get home. If you do not stop whining, Mommy will give you a spanking when we get home. Grapes or a spanking. The choice is yours."

Not realizing that this was a rhetorical proposition just meant for contemplation, Caedmon responds, "Hmmm...grapes."

Friday, October 17, 2008

Families Who Run Together...

We've all heard the popular phrase (or perhaps read it on the cross-stitched doily in your grandmother's bathroom) "Families who pray together stay together." Well, I've adapted it slightly into a different, but equally true statement. My motto of the day is: "Families who run together have fun together!"
Andy and I both enjoy (relative term) running and have since before we got married. It was something that we used to do together when we were dating and it has continued (sporatically) in marriage. We have some great conversations while we run and really enjoy that time just being together. It's something that we both naturally have an interest in, so why not do it together?
Now, I am well aware that not everyone would put running in the "Things I Really Enjoy" category, so I would never suggest that the inverse of the motto would be true: "Families who DON'T run together DON'T have fun together." The thought of running may be absolutely no fun at all. But I would encourage you to find some sort of hobby that is mutually enjoyable for you and your spouse to do together. Working on something/ accomplishing something TOGETHER builds a spirit of teamwork, friendship, and comradarie. One marriage book I recently read put it this way, "While women tend to need face to face time; husbands desire shoulder-to-shoulder time." Just do something fun with him! What a concept!
So, in my book, it's important not only for families to PRAY together, but also to PLAY together! Let's go have some fun!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Why I love my job...

Because I am a stay-at-home mom, some people may say that I don't work. I would have to disagree and would invite anyone who would make that assessment of my life to join me for a day of being a mom. I think after one day they would agree with me that stay-at-home moms definitely do work! (Can I get an "Amen" from all the stay-at-home moms out there?!)
But, I've gotta say, I love what I do! Caedmon is at a wonderfully fun stage and is on a great schedule, so this is probably the easiest season of "mommy-hood" that I have experienced. I think it is super-important for moms to be focused on their families, putting their most creative energy toward making their home a place that is honoring to God. At the same time, I think it is crucial for moms to model for their kids a life lived intentionally and on-purpose. Combining the two of those can be tricky and require a lot of creativity and teamwork from both parents, but it can be done (and should be a top priority).
Right now, I am having a blast combining those two elements. Because we are in the process of starting the church, one of the most important things for me to focus on is building a lot of relationships. Caedmon is helping me so much to accomplish that goal. Almost every day of the week you'll find us outside playing with other kids and their moms. Yesterday our team hosted a neighborhood cookout that over 50 people came to. The kids played while the parents talked. It was so natural, so easy, so fun! Earlier this week another young mom and I ate lunch together after the play group that we went to. It has been so fulfilling to me to get to focus so much energy on building friendships and getting involved in people's lives.
Balancing ministry and motherhood can be a struggle. I don't ever want to get so busy ministering to other people that I neglect the needs of my own family. The great joy about this season is that I am able to accomplish both goals without having to compromise one or the other!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Reading the Bible

Jeremy Kingsley is famous for always saying, "When you read the Bible you should read to change; don't just read to finish." I always make this my ambition when reading the Bible...trying to find at least one truth that I can immediately apply to my life that day. But lately, I'll have to be honest with you, it's been hard. Here's why...
This year I decided to read through the Bible, beginning to end, in one year. I've attempted to do this many times, and have come very close, but I always get bogged down in the books of prophecy at the end of the Old Testament. But this time I am determined to finish. The Bible that I'm using is a Chronological Bible that puts the Bible in the sequence in which the events actually took place (as opposed to dividing the books by genre which is how a regular Bible is organized). It segments the reading into daily assignments which works out to be about 3-4 chapters a day.
Well, I am still in the Old Testament! It is never ending! If you stick to reading plan, you should read Old Testament from January 1-October 14! Then from October 15-December 31 you finally get to read the New Testament. Ten months of Old Testement and 2 months of New Testament. That's crazy! I never realized what percentage of the Bible is Old Testament.
So, after 10 months of Old Testament, you could say that I'm ready to start reading about Jesus' life and ministry! That is why I find myself in the state that I am currently in...just reading to finish. I fell a little behind in my reading, but I REALLY want to get to the New Testament so I have been reading 3 days worth of reading every day! That's about 10-12 chapters a day which is a chunk for me. I'm almost caught up, so by the end of this week, I will be diving in to the Gospels and I am very excited about that!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Down With Adult Acne!!!

I don't know why, but my skin has been so broken out the past two weeks! And can I just say that that is rediculous! It's to be expected (although tragic and emotionally devestating) for a middle schooler to have a pimple. It's normal in high school, and maybe even college. But, come on, people! I am almost twenty-seven years old and I have had ENOUGH! I'm so close to calling one of those info-mercials with Jessica Simpson on them!
And don't try to comfort me by saying, "Oh, it's not that bad. I didn't even notice." Because I will know that you are lying. The reason I am so confident that you would be lying is because even my two year old has noticed. Over the past couple of weeks, as I lovingly give him a bath each night, he tenderly looks at me and says with deep concern in his voice, "Mama, boo boo, face. Mama, boo boo, face." Thank you, Caedmon, for pointing that out EVERY night! I guess my efforts with cover up and powder just aren't getting the job done! I think I'll go wash my face now...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Honoring your husband

Andy and I went to Crossroads Church on Sunday which is our local sponsoring church. The pastor, Paul McGovern, began a new series called Fireproof Your Marriage. One thing that he emphasized in the message was the importance of always portraying your spouse in a positive light to others. It's true that every marriage (and every spouse) has areas that "need improvement." But those should be discussed in private with the intent to build up. So many women speak negatively about their husbands to their friends or in public which shows a total lack of respect for their husbands. As wives, we should be the greatest protectors of the honor of our husband's name. This was a great reminder for me, so I thought I would share it with you!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Family Fun Fridays

Fridays are our favorite day of the week because it's Andy's day off! We always try to do something fun together as a family in the morning before Caedmon's afternoon nap. This week, Andy found a Pumpkin Patch in Half Moon Bay that we went to. It was about an hour drive, but once we got out of the city it was so beautiful. The farm was right off of Hwy.1 which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. It was such a fun day!

I'm a huge horse-lover (used to own a couple when I was younger)...and evidently that gene got passed on to Caedmon. Caedmon is not typically a dare-devil kid that will try anything, but he LOVES animals. He's gotten to ride a horse twice now and both times he has had a blast!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So cute, but you better not laugh!

Anyone who has ever worked with children understands that situation. The one where the kids do something so funny or so cute, but so naughty, and it’s all you can do to keep from laughing at them and thus encouraging undesirable behavior. Caedmon gave us two such examples within the past 24 hours.
Last night it was time for his bath, so I took his clothes off and told him to go get in the bath tub. I turned to walk to the bathroom and when I glanced back to make sure he was following me, this is what I saw:
Hmmm…He was just taking a slight detour, I guess!

Then today I put Caedmon down for his nap at 1:00 like usual. This past week he has been having a hard time falling asleep for his naps and at night time. He’ll stay in his bed like he’s supposed to, but you’ll hear him in there talking and singing for over an hour! Well, today around 2:20 (an hour and twenty minutes after I laid him down), he broke the Cardinal Rule and got out of his bed. Andy and I both thought he was sound asleep when suddenly he looks up and sees Caedmon sneaking around the corner with a huge grin on his face! Andy said it was all he could do not to laugh! I’ll end the story here so you won’t have to read about the unfortunate series of events that followed the breaking of the Cardinal Rule!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Caedmon!!

Yesterday was Caedmon's 2nd birthday, so now we are the proud owners of a 5-foot slide and a pop-up tent that are currently taking up all the space in our living room! Here's a glimpse of our day...

Lunch and games at Chuck-E-Cheese

A million dollar smile

Prizes! (actually junk that he'll never play with and I'll end up just throwing away)

Uncle Archie on the grill....Mmmmm

Don't those look fun?!

Presents! Presents!

Caedmon's first "bike"


Caedmon getting brave with the slide!

Night, night to my baby dinosaur

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Art & Wine Festival

Our first mission team from Lake Pointe Church is here right now to serve with us at Santa Clara's annual Art & Wine Festival. Over 50,000 attend this event every year, and South Bay Church set up a booth and is serving with set up, take down, and clean up. It's a great first connect point with the city.

As I came home from the Art & Wine Festival this afternoon to put Caedmon down for a nap, I was feeling overwhelmed and burdened. Overwhelmed because of the tens of thousands of people who were there that, at this point, we have no relationship with. And burdened because 95% of them probably don’t know Christ. I felt rather insignificant walking around this morning trying to meet people and tell them about South Bay Church.

So once I got Caedmon down, I spent some time in prayer, explaining how I was feeling to God, asking him to encourage and strengthen you guys, and praying that He would give us influence into the thousands of people’s lives represented at the Festival this morning. Then I read began reading my Bible where I had left off…Jeremiah 24. God encouraged me so much as I read about the Israelites who were living in captivity in Babylon. There hearts were hardened and far from God. But, as God spoke to Jeremiah he said, “I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God.”

Instant relief flooded my soul! All morning I had been carrying the burdened of these people’s salvation. I felt responsible to connect with all 50,000 people, win them over, and convince them of the gospel. Then God reminded me that HE is the One who gives them a heart to know Him. He is the “convincer” of hearts and the irresistible truth and love that woos people.

In knowing that God works in the heart, we can remember that we play a part, a vital role, in leading people towards Christ, but God is the one who is Sovereignly working to draw men to himself. I want to play my part well!

I will give them a heart to know me, that I am the Lord.
They will be my people, and I will be their God.
Jeremiah 24:7

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Pics of Our Apartment

Several people had asked to see some pics of our new apartment, so I thought I'd just upload a few. It's nothing fancy, but we were able to fit everything in and we love it! We really feel like God has placed us in an ideal location to launch this church.

If, by chance, you're thinking to yourself, "Wow, that looks really neat and orderly!"...you should come open my closets! These apartments have virtually no extra storage, so every closet is stacked floor to ceiling with Tupperware! But as long as we keep the closet doors closed, no one will ever know! Well, except for you, that is...

Caedmon's Bible

Caedmon is really loving his Bible right now...almost like an obsession. He wants to read it first thing in the morning, before he goes to sleep, and multiple times throughout the day. He's also getting all the Bible "lingo" down. For example:
"Climb tree" means "Let's read the story about Zaccheaus."
"Puffy clouds" means "Let's read the story about creation."
"Jesus hold you" is referring to when Jesus allows the little children to come to Him. (this is his favorite story which is probably read 6 times a day)

He also likes when Jesus calms the storm and says, "Funder, Funder!" meaning "Thunder, thunder."

This past Sunday Caedmon asked (for the first time) if he could take his Bible to church. Then, today I told him we needed to put our shoes on because we were going some where. "Church?" he asked.

"Not today. Today we're going to the grocery store."

But I guess it's all the same to him because as I pushed the cart up and down the aisles Caedmon kept raising his hands and shouting, "Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!" My child, the charismatic!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Why you should never attempt to smell BENGAY... September 5, 2008

Yesterday Andy strained a muscle in his back while helping Filipe unload their trailor. Being the ever-compassionate wife that I am, I volunteered to give him a back rub last night. After rubbing his back for a few minutes I remembered that I had some BENGAY muscle relaxer. As I went to get it Andy protested saying, "NO, that stuff stinks!" Trying to reassure him I replied, "It's not too bad. Kinda smells like wintergreen." To prove my point I opened the top of the tube and took a big whiff just in time for a huge blob to squirt up my nose and in my eye! Have you ever had BENGAY in your eye? You know that hot/cold sensation it's supposed to create? Doesn't feel so great in your eye. And, well, for that fresh wintergreen smell that I was talking about...I got to enjoy it all night!

How we turned a 12 hour trip into a 30 hour trip! September 4, 2008

Oh, the joys of traveling with a 2 year old! This is my first post since we've been here in CA. It's been all unpacking for us these days. But I couldn't NOT tell you about our trip out here...maybe the very worst traveling experience I've ever had. I would have never made it if it hadn't been for my mom. She's amazing.

The plan was to drive to Charlotte, fly to Atlanta, fly to San Jose, and drive to our apartment only 5 miles away. Simple enough, right? We all knew it was going to be a long day, but we never anticipated how long!

Everything was going just as planned as we arrived at our gate in Charlotte. Caedmon did great going through security and was playing so sweetly right up to the point it was time to board. That's when the delays started. Not sure if you saw this on the news, but last Tuesday (the day we were traveling) the FAA's computer system in Atlanta crashed so they had to manually enter about 3,000 flights! That meant Atlanta was completely gridlocked. Hardly anything was getting into or out of Atlanta. So we waited, and waited, and Caedmon started melting down, and we waited some more. We finally boarded the plane 2 hours after our scheduled time of departure, and then sat on the runway for 2 more hours! By the time we got to Atlanta, we had missed all outgoing flights to CA and needed to spend the night in Atlanta.

So you have to picture this in your head. I have a 30 pound duffel bag strapped to my back, I'm pulling the carseat on a roller thing, and I'm carrying 30 pound Caedmon because he's too tired to walk. My mom is also weighted down and we have no idea where we're supposed to go or what we need to do. An airline employee finally tells us to walk "this way" and we will see all the hotel shuttles and they told us which hotel to go to for a discounted rate. So we walk (I'm not exaggerated) somewhere between 1/2 mile and 1 mile winding around the Atlanta airport. My arms are shaking from being so fatigued by carrying Caedmon.

We get to the hotel shuttles and it is absolute chaos. There are people everywhere and there is no organized system for where the shuttles park. There are about 50 parking slots that are first come, first serve so you just have to walk up and down the sidewalk (with all your stuff) looking for the right hotel. I saw our hotel's shuttle driving by, so my mom turned to go chase it down! She tripped over someone's luggage and fell, tore her pants, and skint her knee! I was so relieved that she didn't also break her arm!!!

Here's how the rest of the night unfolded:

10:30p check into hotel, quick bath for Caedmon

11:00p lights out, Caedmon is in bed with me because there's no pack-n-play available

11:45p Caedmon finally stops talking and falls asleep

1:30a phone rings for our wake up call that we DID NOT ask for

3:00a Caedmon falls out of bed

5:00a Caedmon suddenly sits up and jumps on top of me like a WWE wrestler. He clings to my neck like a monkey until he falls back asleep.

7:00a Caedmon is up for good. Quick shower. No need to change clothes or do my hair and makeup because I DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO DO THAT WITH! So much for looking nice for Andy when he picks us up!

9:00a Back through security...this time with Caedmon laying on the ground kicking his feet.

We finally made it to San Francisco later that day. We were supposed to fly to San Jose, but, whatever, that's close enough. Caedmon slept a total of 8 hours in a time span when he normally would have slept 18 hours! Needless to say, he was on the verge of a meltdown at any moment for the next 3 days. But we made it and things are starting to settle down!

Our New Apartment; August 27, 2008

Here's the website for our new apartments. There's a photo gallery if you're interested in seeing pictures. We are so excited about this place! Here are my top ten reasons:

10- We were able to get a 3-bedroom (and a little extra space goes a long way in keeping my sanity in tact).

9- There are 3,000 units to this complex which means that there are over 7,000 people living here. It's like a small town. Great way to meet people.

8- There are multiple pools and, very important, they are all heated year-round! (The reason that is important is because I'm from South Carolina so I don't swim in water that cooler than 80 degrees. I know, I know, I'm a wimp.)

7- There are 3 work out facilities that residents can use for free and a 1/2 mile walking track outside.

6- There is a "Moms' Club" that I can join to meet other young moms.

5- There are multiple playgrounds in the complex for Caedmon to enjoy.

4- The apartments are less than a mile and a half away from Rivermark, which is the centerpoint that we're trying to target as we launch South Bay Church.

3- Andy has already seen people playing pick-up games of soccer, so I might get to bust out my old soccer cleats.

2- There is a Starbucks less than 100 yards from our apartment! (I mean, really, what more could you ask for?!)


1- Mandy, Filipe, Lily, and Cailyn live less than 100 yards away from us! Talk about doing ministry and living life as a team! Ah, I'm so excited!

Funny things that Caedmon says... August 26, 2008

Caedmon's language has developed exponentially over the course of the summer. Here are some things he's saying...

"May-men" (his attempt at saying Caedmon)

"I'll hold you." (when he wants to be picked up)

"Ouch, Charlie! Bite it." (have you seen this You-Tube video? Evidently Caedmon has!)

When he wants something, particularly when he wants something to eat, he holds up one finger and says, "Want one grape." "Want one yogurt."

"'sup G?" (taught to him courtesy of Andy's brothers)

"Ain-ain" (raisins...I have no idea)

"bears" (Teddy Grahams)

"choo-choo" (could be referring to a train or Cheerios...you have to listen for context)

"I" plus any verb. (i.e. "I helping" "I climbing" "I walking")

"Mudder Juice" (Mother Goose)

"eyes" (sunglasses)

Can't quite get the 'p' sound so "heaches" mean peaches and "Hops" means Pops (my dad's grandpa name)

My favorite is "I love you" which, for whatever reason, he always says in a falsetto voice. What a funny kid!

Tomorrow is the Big Day! August 25, 2008

Caedmon, my mom, and I will be traveling all day tomorrow and will arrive "home" in California late tomorrow night. Here's the plan...we will leave Columbia, SC about 1:30p to drive to Charlotte, NC to catch a 4:30p flight. We will fly to Atlanta, GA where we have a quick layover before the long leg of the trip to San Jose. We will arrive in San Jose at 12:30a South Carolina time (9:30p CA time), get our bags, and head to our apartment which is less than 5 miles from the airport.

Hmmm...I wonder how Caedmon will do. If you read this blog in time, please take a minute to pray for him...that he will be calm and have peace and be cooperative throughout the day. It's going to be a tough day for him as he will be missing his nap (1:00-3:30) and his bedtime (7:30). Which means it has the potential to be a tough day for ME (and all of the other very blessed passengers who get to sit near me)! Pray that God would allow us to have bulkhead seating (the row where no one sits in front of you). The last time we tried to put Caedmon's car seat on the airplane, he kicked the row in front of him the whole flight which meant I had to restrain his legs with my arms the whole flight. That could make for a very long 6 hour flight! If we don't get bulkhead (which we won't know until we get to the gate) we just won't take his car seat on board and then his feet won't reach the row in front of him. But, if we don't have the car seat, I doubt he'll fall asleep. So, just pray we get the bulkhead!

It is amazing to me how a child can be so adorable and sweet one minute and the next minute act like something you'd see in "The Exorcist". Caedmon is one of those kids. People remark all the time about what a mild-mannered, sweet-tempered, charming little boy he is. And, most of the time, he is just that. What those same people don't see is when he's screaming at the dinner table because he doesn't like what I offer him, or when he just sits down (in the middle of a parking lot) and simply refuses to stand up and walk another step, or when I tell him it's time to come inside and he tries to slap me! I could go on, but I don't want to make my child look like some out of control wild man that should be on "Super-Nanny."

I'm just trying to build my case that I really do need you to pray for us tomorrow as we travel. With Caedmon, it can be hit or miss. Tomorrow, I'm praying for a home-run hit!

Why I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth...and enjoy doing it! August 18, 2008

It's no secret that church planting can be grueling, at least among church planters and their wives. Take a starry eyed, visionary couple with great dreams of reaching their city and look at them again one year into the church plant...you'll often find two people exhausted, disillusioned, disconnected from each other, and frustrated with the progress that's (not) been made. I've been to many church planting events and I hear the same emotions over and over again from wives who have carried a burden far too heavy and made enormous sacrifices for the sake of the church. Their husbands may be feeling the same way, but more often I find that their husbands are excited, motivated, and have no idea that their wife is dying on the inside and beginning to wonder if she is on the verge of losing her mind!

I have such compassion for these wives. One, because I've been there. Andy and I went through some indescribably difficult times with Breakthrough. (Starting the church 6 months into marriage at the age of 22 with no money were contributing factors to those hard times!) The other reason I have such compassion for these brave church planters' wives is because much of what they are going through is the result of decisions that their husbands have made and they feel helpless in their ability to change anything about their circumstances. They are just holding on for dear life to a rope connected to a car going 100 miles an hour. The drivers of these cars (their husbands) seem to have no rear-view mirror in which to see their poor wives flopping along behind them as they drive valiantly onward to change the world. The emotional damage that this can cause a wife (and, no doubt, a marriage) takes a long time and a lot of intentionality to repair.

Andy and I often talk about the fact that, in years to come, we will likely have the opportunity to share our story of church planting with other church planting families that are getting started. Andy sometimes asks me what I would want to say to the wives and I always reply, "To the wives, I will just listen compassionately. But to the husbands, I've got an ear-full to say to them!"
That brings me to my explanation of the title for this post: why I would follow my husband to the ends of the earth...and enjoy doing it! The process for starting South Bay Church has felt enormously different than our first church and quite different than most of the stories I'm hearing from other church planting wives. I attribute much of this to the diligent and wise planning on behalf of my husband. Most church planters, my husband included, are activists...meaning that they feel most connected to God when traveling at mock 10. Planning is not on their lists of "Most Fun Things I Like to Do". But, Andy took note of how difficult the launch of Breakthrough was on both of us, applied wisdom to his heart, and did the hard work of advanced planning to make things run much smoother.

During this 18 month preparation phase:

1- We sold our house in Texas. No moving to CA with a double mortgage.

2- Andy raised our full salary AND the full operating budget for South Bay Church for the first three years. I could stopped the list right here and that would be amazing.

3- Andy & I made two trips to CA so I could be familiar with the area. (Andy made an additional two trips without me.)

4- We have a South Bay Church post office box, bank account, and giving website.

5- We have a logo already designed and a website in process.

6- We've been able to spend extended time with family and say healthy goodbyes. We feel emotionally refreshed and energized to hit the field.

7- Andy has been watching Craig's List like a hawk all summer to find us somewhere to live. I haven't had to worry about it at all.

8- AND, this is incredible, right now my husband is somewhere in Arizona driving the largest Penske truck you can drive without having your CDL. He drove back to Texas, loaded all of our stuff into a truck, and is single-handedly driving to CA to set up our house. All the while, Caedmon and I have been on "vacation" with my mom & dad...going to the zoo, the lake, the park. Caedmon and I will fly to CA, be picked up by my husband and driven to a house where the furniture is already set up! AMAZING!!

Andy has done everything he can think of to eliminate as much stress as possible. Don't get me wrong, this church plant will have stressful times and there will be sacrifice that is required, but so much of that stress can be relieved with wise planning. God has been so good to us and I don't want to give any glory to Andy that is only due to the Lord, but I just want the world to know how thankful I am to have a husband that values my sanity and emotional well-being enough to do the hard work of strategic planning!

It's Worth It; August 13, 2008

"For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and who says to you, 'Do not fear, I will help you.'" Isaiah 41:13

Today's entry is a little heavier than what I typically write, but this is what has been going on in my heart this week... Andy left Columbia yesterday and began the cross-country trek to California. Caedmon and I will fly to meet him out there in just under 2 weeks and the reality of the move felt so final as I watched him pull away from my parents' house. We will likely never drive our own car back into my parents' driveway because every trip we make from here on out will be on a plane. To me that makes the distance feel much further.

I don't think I have had to sacrifice much for the sake of Christ or the cause of the gospel. Maybe a few friendships along the way or certain activities, but certainly nothing compared to the sacrifices the Apostle Paul made or that persecuted Christians all over the world are making even as I write these words. By most accounts, the road I've walked has been easy, even convenient, as I have followed Christ.

But the greatest sacrifice I feel like the Lord has led me to make is giving up being geographically close to my family. It is that sacrifice that is heavy on my heart today. Most days I get along just fine. After the initial shock of moving away from home five years ago, I got adjusted to living far away and most days are not hard. But today I feel like I'm moving to another country and life will look very different now.

It has brought me such deep joy and pleasure this summer as I've watched Caedmon develop relationships and attachments to each of our family members. He knows each person by name and has special games that he plays with different people. I'm incredibly grateful for this season that we've had, but it has been a bitter-sweet experience knowing that our time together will soon end. For me the pain is knowing that Caedmon will not remember this summer and these precious people who love him so deeply will not be apart of his daily life.

It may not seem like some great sacrifice. There are millions of people who don't live close to family for various reasons and it may or may not be painful to them. But, for me, this is my sacrifice and my heart is aching today. Yet in the same breath I want to acknowledge that it is worth it. The cause is worth the sacrifice. Seeing hundreds and thousands of people who are currently far from God become fully devoted followers of Christ is worth everything I can give during my 80 years on earth. I should not be pitied. Someone should only be pitied if the dividends do not outweigh the investment. But I know that I live with the truth of the gospel and the reality that awaits us in heaven is more vivid and tangible than this very keyboard upon which I type. My life, my sacrifice, is not in vain.

So as Andy drives even now toward our new life, I am so thankful to have a Father in heaven who is holding my hand (see the verse above). And he tells me not to fear because he's going to help me. He's going to help me on the days that I am desperately missing my family. He's going to help me when I need my mom to watch my kids for the weekend, when Caedmon graduates from kindergarten and his grandparents aren't there to take him out for ice cream, when my whole family is together for a special event and I can't be there. He will help me. And he will hold my hand. And he will remind me that the sacrifice is worth it because the gospel is truth and the dividends will far outweigh every sacrificial investment I've made.

Found my phone; misplaced Caedmon! July 31, 08

The case of the missing cell phone has been solved! I found it in the cup holder pocket on my backpack which had been sitting right beside me for days, even as I wrote the post about how it was missing. I'm surprised I couldn't hear it laughing at me! Oh well, I'm just thankful the prodigal cell phone is home.

Today was a very busy day. I had several errands to run before we leave town tomorrow for 9 days. So Caedmon and I were on the go all morning. After getting him down for a nap, Andy and I had a meeting with the missions team from Northside Baptist regarding their partnership with South Bay. Afterwards, Andy dropped me off at the house and he went up to Atlanta Bread to get some work done.

I had been commissioned with the task of securing our hotel room for this weekend, but I also needed to wash clothes and cook dinner. All of those tasks are somewhat difficult to do with a two year old in tow so I was trying to get as much done as I could before he woke up. I'll spare you all the details, but let's just say that when Caedmon woke up I had not yet secured the hotel reservation, dinner was not finished, and the clothes were washed, but not folded. That made for a very chaotic afternoon.

Andy got home around 4:30 and took over the hotel fiasco and ended up spending over an hour trying to get something worked out! All the while my grandmother and I are in the kitchen trying to finish up dinner and wash up all the pots and pans. My parents were glued to their computers today trying to finalize everything for a training event their doing. And Caedmon, well, where is Caedmon?

I noticed that he had gone upstairs and had just assumed that he had gone in CC's (my mom) office. But then CC yelled something down to me and I said, "Is Caedmon up there with you?"



Two seconds later CC says, "I found him!"

Caedmon was sopping wet playing with all of his bath toys IN THE TOILET! Nice. Proverb of the day: He who leaves a two year old unattended will have very big messes to clean.

The Case of the Missing Cell Phone, July 28, 08

My cell phone is missing and, I'm sorry to say, this is notthe first time this has ever happened to me (this year!). This time the phone was lost in that period of time when we were relocating every 24 hours. Somewhere between Gainesville, FL and Columbia, SC my cell phone went to the place that all missing cell phones get together to mock their previous owners. Can't you just hear your cell phone taunting you as you bend upside down to search under the seats in the car, search through your suitcases ONE MORE time, clean out your purse again and again, and take the skin off our knuckles trying to see if it could have possibly fallen between the cracks of the furniture?!

You would think I'd learn! The last time I lost my cell phone (and all of my contact information) I told myself that I should back up my next cell phone somehow so I wouldn't be in this predicament again. Did I? Of course not! Three cell phones ago (less than 2 years ago) I had a flip phone and the top piece one day just flipped all the way off! Imagine that. I took my two-part cell phone to the ever-so-helpful guy at AT&T and he compassionately said, "Wow, I've never seen that before." Yeah right. That means you probably just got that job two days ago! Since I was in the middle of my contract I was not eligible for a free upgrade, so I just bought one of those pay-as-you-go phones for $30. I promise you, all those phones have the capability of doing are sending and receiving phone calls, and that only if you're in a area with really good reception! If you get more than 20 text messages, your phone runs out of memory! I'm not kidding.

Well, Andy, Caedmon & I went to a conference in NYC just two weeks after I got that phone and, wouldn't you know, I lost it somewhere in the Big Apple. So, we bought another $30 pay-as-you-go phone. This phone got progressively worse over time and I had to hold the receiver very tightly to my ear or I could not hear the other person talking. A year or so passed as I patiently endured the functionless cell phone and all the while Andy's over there dinking away on his PDA. Then, one night Andy and I went to see a movie and the next day I couldn't find my phone. That was convenient for me, minus the loss of contacts, because I was now eligible for an upgrade on my phone!

I was so happy with my new phone. It wasn't too special. No full size keyboard or the ability to check the status of my 401-K as I wait to board an airplane. But it worked for me. It had a camera, which is really all I care about so that I can take pictures of Caedmon when my real camera is not handy. Guess what, two days later, I found my $30 phone! It was in a jacket that I never wear but had worn that night Andy and I went to the movies! OH WELL! I'm keeping the phone!

Two weeks later, Andy accidentally left his PDA at the self-check out at Home Depot. He realized it when he got to the car and ran back inside to get it, but someone had already swiped it. So, guess who started using my old $30 phone! Quite the adjustment from a PDA, huh Babe? Finally Andy's birthday rolled around and so he was able to buy the newly release i-Phone with his birthday money. We were both quite happy with our technological situation. Until now... Ah man, I REALLY don't want to have to reconnect that stupid $30 phone that is currently sitting on top of the TV. But, if you've been trying to call me and I've not returned your calls, please don't get frustrated with me. Just feel sorry for me. I've got issues!

Poison Control & Miracles; July 26, 08

We called poison control for the first time today. I found Caedmon in the dining room kickin' back on a little furniture polish. When I walked up he grinned up at me at me and said, "Juice!" Thankfully, most forms of furniture polish are non-toxic so we were able to avoid a trip to the emergency room!

Andy left today for Atlanta where he's meeting with two different churches who are partnering with us to start South Bay Church. It has been miraculous to watch God provide for this dream in every way. This time last year Andy was just finishing up the launch strategy. We had no staff, no money, and no partnering churches. We just had a vision that God had put in our hearts. And now...well, all the pieces are just coming together. I feel like we are living a miracle and I am so thankful to get to be apart of it.

One month from today, Caedmon and I will be on a plane flying "home" to the Silicon Valley. Andy will greet us at the airport and hopefully take us to our newly found house/apartment/condo where we will start to build our lives. I am so excited I can hardly stand it!

On the Road Again...and again...and again! June 24, 08

Can I just say that I am SICK of traveling?! Andy, Caedmon, and I have put over SIX THOUSAND miles on our little green '98 Chevy Malibu in just over TWO MONTHS! That is a lot of miles and a lot of time spent in a car. And, just to make all of those miles and all of that time a little more enjoyable, the air conditioning in the car only works about 60% of the time! Pack and unpack and repack. Toys, booster seat, pack-n-play, a crate full of toiletries, clean clothes, dirty clothes, wet swimsuits, computers, books, sippy cups...we're like a small apartment on wheels. It's really insane. Earlier this week we spent one night in Clermont, FL the next night in Melbourne, FL, the next night in Gainesville, FL, and the next night in Columbia, SC! It's one thing to do that when you're newly weds and life is all just one big adventurous vacation (Andy & I traveled like this our first summer married), but it is quite a different story with a 22 month old child in tow. Caedmon has been forced to become the most flexible baby I know. He can take a two hour nap in his carseat almost as well as he can in his bed. It seems like we're constantly saying to him, "Caedmon, guess who you get to see today!" b/c it's always someone different!He has been such a trooper!

The end is now in sight as Andy is about three weeks away from getting to CA and Caedmon and I will meet him there soon after. Even though we're so excited to get there and ready to be settled, we cannot deny that this summer has been such a gift from God. We've been able to spend extended time with family and so much undistracted time raising support, which is really uncommon for church planters to have. We're thankful for that.

Caedmon and I have a few more trips before this Road to South Bay reaches its final destination. We will be making a trip to Hilton Head, then Myrtle Beach, back to Columbia, quick trip to Gainesville, back to Columbia, and then on to the Bay! By the time I get there, I will not be sad if I do not see a suitcase for a very long time!!!

Happy Birthday, Andy! June 15, 2008

Today is Andy's 27th birthday so I wanted to share a couple things that I love about him.

1- Andy has an amazing amount of faith. He takes God at his Word and truly believes that He is able to do immeasurably more than we could ever ask or imagine. Andy has full confidence in the call that God has put on his life. There's no doubt in Andy's mind that God will use his life to help start South Bay Church, and as a result of the ministry of South Bay Church countless lives in the San Francisco Bay area will be changed for all eternity. I learn what faith looks like by watching Andy's life. He is sure of what he hopes for and certain of what we do not see. His faith inspires me to have more faith and it is exciting to be on a journey with someone who sincerely believes God for great things.

2- Andy is the most eager (ravenous) learner I have ever known. He wholeheartedly desires growth in every area of his life. He reads about a book week and he will bombard a leader with questions. He seeks advice and counsel from such a broad range of people, from pastors of mega churches to college students. He has the humility to learn from anyone! Andy is always seeking out opportunities to be involved in coaching networks...one week when they all happened to coincide at the same time, he had 4 different coaching appointments with a few days! He is application driven so he's not just seeking knowledge, but rather wisdom in how to apply the knowledge to his life. His insatiable hunger for growth is contagious and I find myself evaluating the different areas of my life to pinpoint areas for growth in myself.

These two qualities have transformed my man over the past 9 years that I've known him. He is a completely different person than he was when we first met our freshmen year of college. Well, maybe not completely different. He still maintains the passion and faith that first drew me to him. When we were in college Andy was scatterbrained, disorganized, and an inefficient time manager. But somehow I could see the man that I knew he was becoming. I knew the calling God had put on his life and I knew Andy was willing to do whatever was necessary to fulfill that mission. Andy has even exceeded my expectations for growth and I am continually amazed at the leadership and balance that he has grown into. In many ways I guess he has surpassed the man of my dreams and become a man "beyond what I could ever have asked or imagined."
I love you, Baby! Happy Birthday!

Motorcycle Mama, June 14, 2008

My dad loves to ride motorcycles and he's owned one ever since I was in elementary school. We've been on lots of beautiful rides and made some wonderful memories together all over the southeast on his bikes. Creation is so much more breathtaking from the back of a motorcycle. We've driven the Blue Ridge Parkway, the Outer Banks of NC, down to Daytona, up to Gatlinburg, and countless trips to Charleston. My dad now has one of those really big interstate bikes that are pretty much similar in size to a convertible car. The seats are so comfortable, but it hasn't always been that way. He started off with a really small Suzuki 650 which would vibrate your butt to sleep in 30 minutes or less.

One day when I was young he said, "Hey Stacie, you wanna ride to Daytona?" (on the back of his Suzuki)

"Sure! Where's Daytona?"

No idea it was 6 hours away! I walked like a cowboy for two days after that ride. Another time we got stuck in Atlanta's rush hour traffic in triple digit heat. I thought my insides might bake as the heat radiated off of that asphalt making it 15 degrees hotter. More than once we got caught in rain storms so we'd typically just put on our bright yellow rain suits and keep truckin'. It's good to be completely covered when it's raining, not just so you stay dry, but because rain feels like little needles at 70 miles an hour! One time we almost ran out of gas somewhere on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We coasted down the mountain at least 20 miles on 'E' before we found a gas station. I would sometimes get so cold on the back of that bike that I would put on every layer of clothing that we had packed as well as the rain suit and I would still shiver uncontrollably on the way home.

Before I got married it was really important to my dad and me that we take one more ride together. We've ridden the motorcycle together since then, but that ride was really special for both of us. I'm thankful that I had a dad that found creative ways to invest meaningful time into his kids! That has shaped my life more than I even know. Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love you!

Family Time, June 13, 2008

Andy has been very intentional about investing in our relationship this summer. It's so easy to neglect prioritizing time with each other, especially when things get busy. Going a week or two without a lot of "face time" may not seem to effect the relationship a lot. But it slowly takes a toll on communication and enjoyment of the relationship all together. This summer we want to take full advantage of the extra time and free babysitting that is available to us! So we are trying to get in a date night each week and this week we actually had two dates!

Last night we went on a date to Outback, which is one of our all time favorites! (We're both big fans of red meat! Mmmmm!) My mom and dad took care of Caedmon and I always love to come home to hear my mom's report of the evening. It always starts off with something like this: (imagine a sweet Southern accent) "Well, I tell you what, you just must have the sweetest baby in the whole world. He was a precious angel..." and then she proceeds to tell me everything that they did! The comments always make me smile for two reasons. 1- I definitely know that I do NOT have the sweetest baby in the whole world. 2- I always like it when someone thinks that I do.

Today Andy offered to keep Caedmon so my mom and I could have a lunch date! (I know, I know, I'm really getting spoiled) It was such a special treat, especially since, in the words of my husband, my mom has to be one of the most consistently pleasant people to be around that you'll ever meet. Andy and Caedmon enjoyed a picnic at the park and my mom and I enjoyed a delicious lunch at Travinia's (a little Italian restaurant). It has been such a gift from God to have this time with my family this summer. Caedmon is really getting to know and love my family. That's important to me because I love my family so dearly and I really want my kids to know what a wonderful family I have. We may never have another season of life with this much extended time together, so I want to treasure every minute!

Kids Change Everything, June 8, 08

For some reason Caedmon has choked on food three times this past week. Choking has to be one of my greatest fears...I even had a nightmare once that my nephew was choking and I was the only one there to try to save him. Well, I'm not sure what happens to me in the moment of crisis, but I have surprised myself with my ability to act swiftly and calmly until the choking episode is over. I think it's part of the whole "mothers' intuition" package that gets mailed to you when you have a child.

For instance, last night as we were finishing up dinner, Andy and I looked over at Caedmon and realized that he was choking. We both immediately jumped up, but our responses were quite different. Andy is standing behind him trying to somehow do the Heimlich with Caedmon still strapped in his booster seat. At the same time, I was getting Caedmon out of his booster seat, turned him face down across my arm and hit his back a couple times until he was able to throw up. After the incident, Andy was literally shaking. This is my husband who can respond with swift decisiveness and remain uncannily composed in the midst of an organizational crisis. In stressful situations that would cause me to lose my sanity, Andy always seems to know the wisest and most logical next step. But in this split second crisis involving a 28 pound little boy, he was at a loss. I felt quite good about myself knowing that I was so needed and useful!

Then, tonight, Caedmon was chewing up a chip and started to choke. We never let Caedmon in the living room with food (especially since we're at my parents' house!), but he had just walked in the living room from the kitchen and was standing right by their very nice, very cream-colored ottoman. I could tell Caedmon was about to throw up (right on my parents' very nice, very cream-colored ottoman) so I dove across the room and put my hands under Caedmon's mouth just in time to get a handful of vomit! I'd like to point out that not a drop got on the ottoman! Andy, who had been sitting in the chair beside Caedmon the whole time, just looked at me as if to say, "What should I do? What should I do?" As I washed my hands Andy said to my, "You could be a Major League outfielder. That was a great catch!"

I'm not sure exactly when that transition takes place. How can a woman go from being freaked out and grossed out by puke all her life to voluntarily catching it in her hands? Well, I think it all goes back to a statement that is becoming more and more common around our house: Kids change everything!

Family Vacation, June 6, 2008

A couple weeks ago, we went on a family vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina. (Check out the photo album on the side bar.) It was so much fun. I never knew how far out there the Outer Banks are! It's like driving to the edge of the earth...any further and you'd probably fall right off. Even with the all day drive both ways, it was so worth it!

We read, slept, watched movies, and visited some neat places on the islands. After a long, grueling semester (okay, maybe a long, grueling 5 years) we really needed some downtime to completely "check-out" of this world. No cell phones, no emails, no chores...it was a beautiful thing. As we were preparing to go on our vacation I said to Caedmon, "Caedmon, we're going on vacation this week! Do you know what that means? That means we get Daddy all to ourselves!" And that was the highlight of my trip!

One ditch or the other, June 5, 08

When I was a little girl, my grandfather made my sister and me a balance beam out of a long wooden beam and covered it with carpet. I could walk across it pretty well, but my sister could do all kinds of crazy things on it. She could do somersaults, back walkovers, toe touches…she even attempted to jump on a po-go stick across it! I just stuck to walking, and if I felt exceptionally confident, I might try to walk backwards!

I feel like every part of life is one big balancing act. Lately I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how to balance my roles as a wife and mother with the other parts of my life. Learning how to honor God as a woman can be complicated. All my life I’ve been taught to dream big, to have goals, to reach for my potential. In addition to that I’ve been taught (and I firmly believe) that God has given women the unique role of nurturing the family. I’m at a point in my life where I am trying to discern how those two things work together.

It’s easy for women to fall into one ditch or the other. Some women attempt to throw off all hindrances in attempts to “be all that they can be”. They’ve got a goal, a career, a palm pilot, and they are not going to let anything slow them down. Even women in ministry can become like this…pursuing their dreams with such zeal that they neglect their family, the most important disciples that they are training. Their kids end up with a distracted and exhausted mom who spends a little bit of time with them in the morning trying to get out the door and a little bit of time with them in the evening as she puts them to bed. A woman in this situation finds that she gives the freshest ideas, most creative energy, and best performance to those who don't matter most to her while the ones who matter the most get the leftovers. I don't want to be this woman.

On the other hand, many women devote themselves wholehearted to their family, and their home, and their schedule to the neglect of the outside world. It’s easy to hide behind your family and to become some self sufficient that there is an unhealthy and inaccurate perspective on the world around you. These women can get so busy cutting the crust off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches that they forget that they ever had dreams, goals, or God-given gifts that He wants to use for His glory. Once we have kids we can easily put our lives on hold, striking a martyr's pose, and just allow the urgent daily demands to dictate how we spend our time. I don't want to be that woman either.

What I want is to be head over heals in love with my husband and my kids. I want them to know that, next to my personal relationship with Jesus Christ, they are my top priority. I want them to feel like I am supportive and available. At the same time, I would like to strive to reach my full potential and use the gifts and talents God has given me to bring Him glory. I want to be diligent with the time that I have, making the most of every minute. I want to invest in what is of eternal significance (the souls of my family and the souls of those in my sphere of influence).
Motherhood can be all-consuming. It would be easy to allow days and weeks to slip by without doing anything but meeting the full-time needs of my son and my husband. But, if I am intentional, I can find a little time block here and there to read a thought provoking book, develop a skill that I have, or serve the world around me. I really don't want to live my life in either ditch; after all, the view is much better from the middle of the road!

In Honor of Jonathan James, May 22, 2008

Jonathan James (aka JJ) is my 2 year old nephew. He has big blue eyes, curly blond hair, and a tummy so big he has to lift it up to find his belly button! He is also the most verbal 25 month old child you'll ever meet! He brings me such joy and I am so thankful for any time I get to spend with him since we live so far away from each other.

This past week he and his mom/my sister, Stephanie, were in Columbia, SC visiting our parents. Andy, Caedmon and I are also here in Columbia so we were able to spend a lot of "sister-time" together! Funny how different sister-time looks now than it did in our previous lives B.K. (before kids). Instead of jamming to our favorite music you'll find us singing along to Boz, the big green bear. Instead of lunch at a quaint delicatessen you'll find us serving up grilled cheese sandwiches cut into bite size pieces. Trips to the park have replaced trips to the mall. And laying out on a raft in our parents' pool has been replaced by refereeing two toddlers in a kiddie pool from Walmart! But we wouldn't trade it for the world! Our boys are our joy (ok, well at least most of the time!)

On Tuesday morning I dropped off Stephanie and JJ at the airport only to receive a phone call from her 30 minutes later. I immediately thought she missed her flight or something was wrong. But when I answered the phone she said, "Stacie, I have got to tell you what JJ just said!"
She proceeded to explain that as they were at the ticket counter checking in their baggage, JJ (the ever-talkative two year old) was making friends with the airline employees behind the desks. Always one to love an audience, JJ begins pointing out his body parts. He pulls up his shirt and says, "This is my belly button. Do you see my belly button?" All of the employees, as well as those standing in line, were acknowledging his belly button when, uh-oh, JJ looked a little further down. He announced in a loud clear voice, "My penis is in my pants. It's hiding!"
Stephanie was mortified but everyone else in ear shot thought it was hilarious. Energized by all of the laughter that he received, JJ continued to repeat himself over and over until Stephanie was able to let him know that it is not appropriate to talk about certain body parts in public. Oh, the joys of motherhood!

A Case of "First-Time-Mom's Disease", May 1, 2008

I have been amazingly blessed with a healthy baby! Caedmon is almost 20 months and he's never had an ear infection, only had a slight temperature twice, and a stomach bug once. He does have a runny nose about half the time, but what toddler doesn't have a constant stream of gunk for their moms to wipe 251 times a day? Still, with all of his good health, I have taken that child to the doctor so many times that his pediatrician and I are pretty much on a first name basis and I'm almost certain that the nurses have put my cell number on their speed dial! Why is that?

I've come to a couple conclusions...Although Caedmon is almost always healthy, he is NOT almost always happy! Some days his behavior is so terrible and he's just walking around the house crying and whining with nothing that will satisfy him. That make me think to myself, there is no possible way that he CANNOT be sick! No child who feels well would act this way! So I find myself taking his temperature to no avail just to try to find the source of this fussy attitude. Hmmm...98.6 again, huh?

Sometimes I'll call the doctor when I think he actually is sick. As I'm describing his symptoms, the nurses always ask if he's being overly fussy. I just want to laugh and say, "What kind of question is that?" Overly fussy? Yes! But if I only used that as my guide, we might as well just move into the hospital!

The crazy thing is I am not a medicine person. I would rather a sickness or headache just run it's course than to load myself up with all kinds of drugs. I really have to feel like I'm going to die to go the doctor. AND, I don't want someone loading my kid up with medicine either. I tell my doctor, "Now I don't want him to take any antibiotics unless it is absolutely necessary." I cannot tell you how many times I've taken him to the doctor only to hear, "Everything looks and sounds good!" So pretty much I just paid my $25 to get a pat on the back and the peace of mind that he's okay.

One time when Dr. Jones came in the room, I just had to admit, "Caedmon's not the one with the problem. I think I just have a bad case of 'first-time-mom's-disease'. He laughed and said, "I treat a lot of that disorder!" So after one more, "All clear," Caedmon and I were on our way! At least for a couple weeks...

Moving Day, April 29, 2008

Today is moving day and, surprisingly enough, I find myself cool, calm, and collected. Very different than the other four moves Andy and I have been through. It probably has something to do with the fact that we just moved in December (4 months ago) and I never unpacked about 50% of our stuff! Our friends are coming over this afternoon to help us load the truck and almost everything in our house is already in the garage. The thing I find myself most stressed out about is that I will be losing internet connection after today! Funny how dependent you can become on something that the generation before us never new they were missing! The new place that we'll be temporarily staying does not have internet, so I'm not too sure how I'll pay my bills, respond to emails, etc... So if I don't get a post up for a while, that's why. Okay, back to packing and cleaning my house!

"Pway" April 28, 08

This week I have been consumed with packing up our house as we prepare to move to California. We actually won't be getting to California until August, but we were supposed to close on our house on Wednesday so we scheduled to move out on Tuesday (tomorrow). I say that we 'were supposed' to close on Wednesday because the closing got postponed due to some problems the buyers were having with the loan. Anyway, we are up to our ears in boxes and living like we're on a camping trip, disposable plates and all!

The great thing about having a child, though, is that he forces me to take breaks. "Pway, mama, pway!" I am the type of person that could work from sun up to sun down on a project without taking any extended breaks. I tend to be extremely task oriented, especially when I'm on a time line. But, my little man needs a "pwaymate" and so even in the midst of chaos I find myself reading Dr. Seuss books, playing trucks, and going for walks. It's good for me!

I hear the word "pway" all day long as Caedmon goes from toy to toy inviting me to play with him. The other night as I was putting him to bed he began saying it again. "Pway, pway, pway." I almost said, "No, Caedmon, it's not time to play. It's time to go to sleep." But then I looked at him and he had his hands folded. He was reminding me to "Pray". Two great reminders from a one and a half year old...everyone needs to play, and everyone needs to pray!