Monday, March 31, 2008

Pretty Pretty Princess!

We enjoyed every minute of celebrating our sweet girl this past Saturday! She had a princess dress-up dance party and everyone came in full costume and danced the afternoon away at the studio where Bella Grace takes classes each week. It was frilly, fluffy, puffy, pink girly fun. Her birthday was actually in December but with all of the colds, flu and holidays, etc. we decided to host a spring party for her for the first time ever. It was just delightful! More pictures coming!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Breath of Fresh Air

Run as fast as you can and pick up a copy of the best thing to hit newsstands since Lily.  Life: Beautiful  . The new beauty-filled and inspirational magazine that is sure to be a hit and a blessing to your soul. I called and ordered all three issues given that I can't find a bookstore that carries it around here. What a gorgeous, God-inspired gift to the tired media world. You can look and drool on line at their gorgeous web-site. 
I had a small party planning business for years called Life is Beautiful. So they are singing my song. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy every beautiful page. You won't be disappointed.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

Little one so tiny and small. Little one who has such a huge place in my heart already. I felt you kick your tiny feet! I can hardly believe it! What a gift to know you are there! The very first kick was this past Sat. on March 22.  Almost 16 weeks to the day. Today you gave us a good scare. I went in to the Doctor for my 16 week check-up and she could not find a heartbeat. She tried and tried for quite some time- over and over again. I knew you were there, because I had just felt your first kicks a couple of days before. But fear struck my heart as we have been through this before. We have three babies in Heaven. I prayed and waited and waited and prayed until the ultrasound tech could see me. Finally it was my turn and almost immediately you appeared on the screen, curled up and kicking away. Your heart was beating, although probably not as fast as mine. The tears were streaming my face in Thanksgiving to God. She asked me if I wanted to know what we were having and I said yes, of course! I already know that it is a boy- but please tell me if you can. She said ..."You are having a baby boy!" I felt like my heart was about to burst! Another son. I am humbled and honored and cannot wait to hold you in my arms.... my sweet, precious Prince.  I came home and waited for Daddy and we told all the children together and video-taped their reactions! It was quite a party and there was a lot of excitement in the air. So much so, that our baby Pearl- stood up and took two steps by herself!!! She is 9 months old and we were in luck that the camera was already running. My heart was overflowing with joy and anticipation and thanksgiving and in that moment I was reminded of a very beautiful scripture. " My cup runneth over, surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of  the Lord forever." - Psalm23:6

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Life is not a dress rehearsal

This Easter I had big plans. Big dreams. Big ideas of how our day as a family would unfold. I had deep desires in my heart of just being able to bask in Him and all that this day represents- while embracing my precious gifts in their beautiful Easter wear and enjoying Sunday brunch with my family! (Think Martha) Needless to say, our day unfolded a little differently and I thank God for my sense of humor and ability to uh-umm...look past some things. We started out the morning early and the children woke up to an Easter egg trail from their room leading to their baskets. All the way down the stairs they blazed a trail and literally "tore" into their baskets before I could capture a decent picture! You can see for yourself in the picture of ......Easter grass. Then our family of six needed to shower, powder and puff and attempt to make it to the 9:30 a.m. children's service. Which we had to make it to since we then had 11:30  brunch reservations afterwards! (Need I say more?)This is where the fun began! BG's dress was at the cleaners, which I failed to pick up in time the day before, which meant baby sister and she couldn't match, which is no big deal- except that I love for them to match. Then baby brother couldn't get any part of his foot into his "good shoes", which we just purchased a few months ago for the baby's christening! Which is no big deal as well, except that meant that he could not wear his beautiful taupe monogrammed outfit and little knee socks. Which is fine, except that I just love for him to wear this type of thing and the opportunity rarely comes around, seeing that we just don't have a lot" good shoes" occasions. Anyway, then my husband and I were both sweating profusely (after we had already showered) just trying to get our 25 pound Pearl into her Sunday tights. I then couldn't find her "Praise the Lord" bloomers to cover up the fact that her tights were quite possibly cutting off her circulation, just in case anyone noticed.   I will spare everyone the details of what I had to go through and end up wearing but it wasn't pretty! 
No time for pictures- we are late. Rush, rush, rush all the way there. Get there. Standing room only and our family of six is sitting in the floor. It's elbow to eyeball and one of the little ones
is fussy- "she was hungry"- I realized at that point that nobody had eaten a bit of breakfast (except for maybe some jellybeans, does that count?) and was feeling pretty bad about myself. The tears were flowing and I was wishing for a better orchestrated, much more
peaceful morning - when the most beautiful voice began to sing the most glorious song and I was able to enjoy the most important part of Easter morning -part of what I had dreamed about- basking in Him- in His presenceRight there on the floor. Right there without everything just so. Right there in the midst of the crowded sanctuary. Right there- even though we were a mess and even though we were late- He still met me in spite of myself. He still showed up and poured out His grace one more time. He still allowed me the gift of experiencing my own Easter miracle. That I am nothing without Him-except someone who struggles. That I can do nothing without Him- except continue to mess up and make mistakes. That He still meets us- whether powdered or puffed- or just in a fluff.  Whether pulled together or pulled apart. Whether our exterior looks great and our interior is rotting. Or whether our interior looks great and our exterior is rotting. He is no respecter of persons. His only requirement is that we have a heart turned toward Him and there He is. What a gift. What a blessing. Thank you Father  for a beautiful Easter with my family and another opportunity to experience you and your unconditional love.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Hunt

Today every one was beyond excited to hunt for their eggs at our annual Easter Egg Hunt. I have to say that to get any decent pictures of the children hunting would have to have been a small miracle in itself. The two of them were like lightening. Blink and it's over. I felt so frustrated trying to watch them- and enjoy every second of it and take pictures of them all at the same time. They were literally out of breath trying to get to the "golden eggs" along with all of the other eggs. I did manage the above picture which was a post hunt kiss for baby brother!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Happy Birthday Daddy!

  You beautiful one are loved, adored and cherished. Thank you for being you with your great big heart and your love of family and faith. Thank you for how you love Him -even through tremendous trials. Thank you for how you walk in the anointing of Fatherhood . It is your greatest calling and you rejoice in it. I love how you love our children. Embracing each one in every possible way. I love watching you with them. It is one of my greatest pleasures. To watch you demonstrate your love for them. You are a man of great honor and great integrity. You are a man with a tremendous destiny - called, chosen, anointed and appointed for the ministry of family. You will be a Father to the fatherless my dear, sweet husband. You are a great teacher- one who leads by word and by deed. One who will teach others how to love and how to be an earthly example of His love. You are a man of great intellect and a man whose heart is so grand that it cannot be compared to anyone - except His. I am humbled to be your wife and to be the Mother of your children. I celebrate you and honor you and I am so thankful for the day you were born. What a gift to this world. We love you so.  Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy and it shall be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the very heart of your house, your children like olive plants all around your table. Behold, thus shall the man be blessed who fears the Lord.- Psalm 128:1-4

Thanks be to God

Thank you Father for the work of the cross and for all of the love that it represents. Thank you that your precious son set us free each and every one. Thank you Father that to understand the complete work of the cross is a deep matter of the heart and once we enter into that understanding we will live our lives with a new expectancy, a new joy and a new attitude. No guilt, no shame, no condemnation, no feelings of unworthiness. For to feel these things in any way in our life is to make a mockery of His sacrifice. He went to the cross to set us free in every area of our life. He paid the price and Thanks be to God......He is risen. May the blessings of this glorious weekend overtake you and your loved ones in a new and very special way.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Blessings

We are so looking forward to this weekend and all that there is to celebrate! It is Big Daddy's birthday on Friday and he has the day off for the first time in a long time. We are planning an Easter Egg hunt for the children and then we will spend the rest of the day celebrating Daddy! I can't wait for Sunday morning and all the glorious moments that take place. It is a photographer's dream come true. All my favorite beautiful things in one morning. The church bells ringing. Easter Lilys. Pastel colors. Beautiful fragrant flowers. Easter Brunch. Baskets overflowing with Easter delights. Little white gloves and Easter bonnets. Pearls and patent leather shoes. Goodies and Giggles to share with my children. Sunrise Sermons. Celebrating my Savior. A heart filled with gratitude for all that He has done.....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Life Is Short- Make It Beautiful

How many of us have spoken the following words before? "Don't use those, those are the good napkins !" "Who wiped their mouth on the good towels?" "These plates are for special occasions! " Oh my goodness! I could go on for days about all the silly things I have said and done. Lately we have been using the good stuff. What is all of that "stuff" really for anyway if we never use it. Why do we, by nature only use it for company or special occasions? A while back it really hit me , all the fuss I would go through for dinner guests or company, but when it came time to eat with my family, I didn't apply the same effort. I did on occasion. But not every night. I decided to change that. I am always telling my children- "You need to treat your family the best" (meanwhile back at the ranch, they are eating off of little plastic plates!! ) I decided to try and do a better job of making a fuss over my own family. After all I simply love to roll out my gift of hospitality. I have drawers full of linens , chargers , napkins, napkin ring holders, place card holders and oh my, let's not forget my affection for spreaders. Oh yes, I have a collection of seasonal spreaders. It is quite a sight to watch my 6'5 , 275 lbs. ex-linebacker husband use a porcelin bunny spreader while buttering his pancakes! I'm sure this wasn't part of what he signed up for, but I love that he will play along and participate while I am pretending to be Martha Stewart~and pretend I do. We celebrate everything. I go out of my way to let my family know that they are loved and adored and celebrated. Maybe it's the Mom in me. Maybe it's the party planner in me. Maybe it's filling some void that was never met in my own childhood. Maybe it's the years of poverty and lack and the length of time we went without basic needs- including food. Or maybe it's just the unconditional love that flows out of me for every single member of this growing family. Either way, it is my privilege and pleasure to teach them how to demonstrate love, thoughtfulness and kindness and to do it all with a servant's heart. Life is short- make it beautiful.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Beautiful Grace

I want to remember everything. I am a hopeless romantic. A super sentimental.  A Mom who dreamed and wished about being a Mom from as far back as I can remember. And so, I try to make the every day special. I try my best to capture the innocence of my children through my lens. And I try really, really hard to "help" my husband see what I see and capture it on film when I look through the camera. This is one of my favorites that He captured. I see the photograph in my minds' eye way before anyone is even close to being ready. I don't like posed pictures. They don't seem realistic to me. I would much prefer to capture my children just being and doing what they do naturally.  This is my little love Bella Grace, kissing the foot of her brand new baby brother. She stopped picking flowers to run over and give him a little kiss. She exudes love. She is exactly what her name says she is. She is Gods' Beautiful Grace. 

Friday, March 14, 2008

Give Him the Highest Praise

This photograph of my daughter perfectly describes my heart this week. It has not been easy but I have had to trust Him more than ever. Trust that He will not let me fall, that He is there to catch me and not just catch me, but embrace me in His loving arms. That He is watching me, guarding me, protecting me and showing me just what I can do when I allow Him to be Father. My heart is full of gratitude as I sit and reflect on all that He has orchestrated in my life this week. His mercy and His grace are never ending and my heart is filled with thanksgiving as I  have experienced His love in new ways. I give you the highest praise Lord- even in the midst of things we don't understand and a season of great adversity. You are highly lifted up Father when things work out and when they don't. 
This house trusts you and we give you the highest praise.

Dreaming about this

We have gone to Seaside almost every year since 1998 and I am dreaming about going again this April. It is near impossible this year given my husband started a new job. So I am dreaming and reminiscing today.  I love the sound and smell of the ocean, the sunshine on my face and being barefoot in the sand. ....there is nothing like it. 

Friday, March 7, 2008

His Greenhouse

What causes things to grow exactly? There seem to be many elements involved, but one that is key for anything to grow is that it must be in "the right environment."  This holds true for flowers, plants, trees, animals- everything in nature must have the right environment in order to thrive or flourish. There are thousands of different types of flowers and plants and each one has it's own "recommended environment". One may be a shade plant. Another must have full and direct sunlight and so on. Anyone who has any experience with gardening in the slightest knows that this much is true. It has been a long winter here in the Northeast and I am in a real hurry for spring to make her appearance and anyone visiting my home would comment that I am "rushing spring" a bit. Today I was in desperate need to be around something new, fresh and beautiful and was led to a special greenhouse here in town.  With Emma Pearl on my hip and a fresh cup of coffee in my hand we strolled together up and down every isle and overstayed this magnificent place to say the least. To say that I felt renewed would be an understatement. I soaked and soaked in God's glorious creativity and magnificent artistry and in that moment I had a revelation. I saw how every flower, plant and tree was blossoming and flourishing and thriving and how there wasn't a brown, crumpled leaf among us.  I saw how each and every living thing was doing exactly what it was created to do and how each and every living thing was full of His beauty and His glory.  I saw how we as God's children are so very similar in so many ways. Think about how we feel when we are "out of our element" or "out of sorts" or in  "unfamiliar territory". What about those who suffer from seasonal disorder? Think about how we feel when it rains and pours for a week straight, or how we feel when it snows and snows and it is very, very cold for months at a time. What about those who must endure the warmest of climates? I am speaking strictly from a temperature perspective- literally. But ,what about those who must attempt to "thrive" in an environment filled with the heat of hostility- with the sweat of anger, rage and wrath? What about those who must suffer against their will in the winters of abuse- How can they grow? How can they simply have half a chance to flouish without the "right environment"? What about those for whom spring never comes? Their environment never changes. Physically they grow older, taller. Emotionally they stay a "seedling"....waiting for the right environment. 
These are whom my heart is turned toward. I want to encourage those who have experienced more winters than springs and those who have suffered the torrential downpours that life often brings- that there is a place where you can grow- and where you can not only grow, but you can blossom and flourish and that is in His greenhouse. The temperature is always right. There is healing for your roots and just the right amount of rain from the Holy Spirit. The Father will warm you with His embrace and His love will envelop you as you sit before Him- just as you are, in your pot that doesn't fit anymore. Just as you are, with your brown, brittle leaves. Just as you are , in desperate need of pruning and re- potting. Sit before Him and feel the breath of spring- and watch winter melt away. Seek Him and you will find Him-always there- always waiting...the greatest gardener we could ever know. The one who created us. The one who fashioned us. The one who wants more than anything for each and every one of us to come into His greenhouse and allow Him to prune back the that we may grow and flourish into the beautiful, fragrant blossoms who represent His Glory all over the earth.