Our Journey Home

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Striped Shirt

Bella is unpredictable. Unlike Emma Grace, who is our little creature of habit, Bella really keeps us on our toes! I suppose part of it might be her age, but I also think it's just how God made her. She's daring, energetic, curious, a tad bit strong-willed, and very ticklish. Bella wakes up ready for breakfast and then she's off and running! She usually hasn't been awake for more than 20 minutes before she's requesting her art supplies or help getting a basket of toys or asking when we're going to go outside. (Emma Grace, on the other hand, wakes up slowly, isn't hungry for atleast an hour and would prefer to snuggle on the couch to watch Curious George or Clifford for as long as I'll allow. wink.)

Bella has also surprised us by her strong affections for a little boy in her Sunday school class. She loves this sweet boy named Emmett. The feeling is mutual, and the two of them are just the best of friends.

On Sunday mornings, I work at our church. I'm out in the hallway greeting families, making sure that we have enough teachers in every classroom, helping replenish classroom supplies, etc. Anyway, yesterday morning, I didn't see Emmett's family arrive. They have been sick with strep throat so I wondered if they had to stay home. When we got home from church, I was talking to Bella about her morning. I was asking her the 'usual' questions- such as "Did you sing your songs at theater today?" and "What activity did you like best?" and of course, "Did you play with Emmett?" Bella told me that yes, she played with Emmett and I was surprised, since I didn't think his family was able to attend.

"Really? Emmett was at church? I didn't see his mommy or daddy. Maybe I just missed them."

"Yes, I played with Emmett. He had on his striped shirt. That's the shirt I like."

I had to try hard not to laugh! We saw Emmett and his mom at church last night, and sure enough... Emmett was wearing a (very cute) striped shirt!

"Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."- Matthew 19:14

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Abundant Provision

When we found out we were going to have a little boy, David and I were both filled with joy! (Okay, initially, I was a little shocked but very excited all at the same time! wink.) Daydreams about a little boy running around our house began to fill my thoughts and warm my heart. Two girls and a little boy. Wow. What a blessing!
I love 'nesting' during pregnancy, so I eagerly started my mission to make the McNeill home ready for Baby J.J! I began to sort our baby girl clothes by size and give them away to our friends. I didn't realize how many itty bitty dresses, tights, sun bonnets, mary jane shoes, and lacey diaper covers we owned! And then, sometime in the midst of purging bins of baby girl stuff, it hit me. We have nOtHiNg for a boy. Not even one yellow onesie. Everything we had for a baby- from socks to jackets to blankets- was pink. Or had a ruffle. Or had a matching handband.
And then I began to also consider the fact that I have nO iDeA how to be a mommy of a little boy. I know how to braid hair, prepare a tea party, paint little fingernails... but I don't know how to do 'boy stuff'. I don't even have a brother! wink.
Then a really cool thing happened! The Holy Spirit reminded me of three truths in this situation:
1) It's not about me. I wrestle with my pride every day, and this was no different. Of course I can't be a good mommy to a little boy, if I'm attempting to do it by my own strength!
2) The Lord has created our little boy. He loves J.J. so so much more than we do! God also knows exactly who J.J. needs to be his parents, and He is trusting us with this precious gift of training and discipling His child.
3) God is the Great Provider! He not only knows exactly what we need and when we'll need it, but He has it totally under control! (I was reading in Luke 8 today, enjoying the story of Jesus calming the storm. He was sleeping in a boat, while He and his disciples were sailing to the other side of a lake. A terrible storm started to crash down on the men and the boat, and the disciples were afraid. They woke Jesus, telling him they were going to drown. Jesus rebuked the water and wind and the storm stopped. Jesus asked the disciples, "Where is your faith?" Jesus had that storm under control and He most certainly has all the 'storms' in my life under total control as well! I need to be constantly asking myself, "Where is my faith?" when I'm having trouble taking my thoughts captive! wink!)
I am now resting in the assurance that the Lord will guide me during this new chapter in motherhood. And guess what else? Remember my concerns about items for J.J? God has provided aBuNdAnTlY for our little boy. Every single item in the pictures below has been given to us! And we even have been blessed with a baby shower scheduled in March. He is AMAZING!

(Even the dresser/ changing table was given to us. Thank you, Lord!)

"Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."- Psalm 27:14

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Chore charts and gumballs!

In our continued efforts to train our children to help with household chores and practice some skills they will need one day in their own homes, we have started a new chore chart system! Emma Grace and Bella each have their own chart, with a list of chores that need to be completed every day. A year or so ago, I read the book Creative Correction by Lisa Whelchel. She has lots of fun ideas and tips for training (and disciplining) your children. We took one of her suggestions and adapted it to make it our own! Here is what we've been doing for the last two weeks:

First, I typed up and laminated two chore charts, each chart with six daily tasks to be completed. To the right of each chore, there are two little faces- one is a happy face and one is a sad face. I attached a piece of velcro to the bottom of each chart and I wrapped a little piece of velcro to two dry erase markers. That way, the girls can mark on their own charts each day and then we can wipe them off to reuse them! Most of the time, the smiley faces are circled... but when a dirty dish is left on the table or a bed isn't made after a reminder from mommy, the little sad face is marked. Because after all, it is sad to neglect our responsibilities. wink.

As an extra incentive during this season of 'chore training', the girls have each been given two little cups. Emma Grace has a happy face cup and a sad face cup, as does Bella. When the girls circle the happy faces on their charts, they also get to drop a gumball into their happy face cup! (And of course, when a sad face is circled, one gumball is removed from the happy face cup and placed in the sad face cup. It serves as a visual reminder that when we neglect our responsibilities, we also lose priveledges, such as enjoying a delicious gumball.) At the end of each week, the girls are given a baggie filled with ALL the gumballs in their happy face jar! What a sweet treat!

I took these pictures of the girls with their charts and gumball cups. We had fun taking 'happy' pictures for the gumballs earned, and 'sad' pictures for the gumballs that had been lost. wink!

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."- Psalm 46:1

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

'Thank You' song

This morning Emma Grace and Bella helped me bake some chocolate chip cookies. Yum! While the cookies were baking, the girls stayed busy at the kitchen table, with their crayon boxes and some scratch paper. As I was cleaning up the ingredients we had used and wiping down the counter, I was humming my favorite song that we sing at church, the 'Thank You' song. (I'm not sure if this is the real name of it or not?) Emma Grace popped her head up from her artwork and said, "Mommy! I know that song!"
"Really? What song do you think it is?"
"You know, that song we sing at big church."
"Wow! I can't believe you recognized it from my humming! Do you know the words?"
"Yeah! It goes like this: Your blood has washed away my sins, Jesus thank you!"

It just amazes me sometimes what Emma Grace 'takes in' from our every day experiences. I would have never guessed she knew the words to this song, because during 'big church', Emma Grace stays occupied with a coloring page or a sticker book. It blessed my heart so much that she not only recognized this song, but we had the opportunity to talk about the words, too! David and I continue to pray and pray for the salvation of our children and I love watching what the Lord is doing in their little hearts!

"Jesus said to the woman, "Your faith has saved you; go in peace."- Luke 7:50

Friday, February 18, 2011

Top Ten Things You Shouldn't Say...

... to a pregnant woman. (My list is in no particular order. All phrases below need to be removed from conversations with pregnant women. They are all equally offensive.) wink.

10. Are you sure there's only one in there?

9. Everytime I see you, you're looking a little bigger!

8. Did you have to wrestle that shirt to get into it?

7. You're due WhEn?!?

6. Wow- that is going to be one BIG baby!

5. You have gotten so big since the last time I saw you!

4. You're just one of those women that carries really big.

3. I bet you feel like you are about to pop!

2. It's not long until you start walking like a penguin. Or do you already waddle a little?

1. You're only ____ weeks? You are really big for _____ weeks!

Luckily for me, this is not my first rodeo! Sometimes I feel like I have heard it all, but I'm guessing that some of you reading have phrases to add to my list. I would love for you to leave a message on our blog and share them with me. I have to laugh at these silly comments otherwise I'll melt into a puddle of hormonal tears! ha ha!

"The Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."- Deuteronomy 31:6

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Any suggestions?

Here is a picture of Bella, two days ago. Her sweet little girl locks just a bit longer than shoulder-length. Here is a picture of Bella today... after I tried to 'fix' her self-inflicted mullet from yesterday's adventure! wink! The ponytail has been strategically placed to cover up the biggest missing 'chunk'. When I asked Bella, "Honey, why did you cut your hair?" She answered, "Well, I wanted baby hair." We put the baby crib up this past weekend... I guess Bella is concerned that in a few short months, she'll no longer be the baby. Bless her little heart. I was trying to remember how we handled this type of a situation with Emma Grace, but I guess Wubs was too little when I was pregnant with Bella to really understand what was about to happen. It was never an issue. Bella is fully aware that she is going to be a big sister, and a little baby boy is going to be part of our family. Does anyone have any suggestions for creative ways for us to reassure Bella during these months prior to J.J.'s big arrival? Thank you bunches!
"For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."- Colossians 1:13-14

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Business in the front, party in the back-
Who almost gave mommy a heart attack?

A trail of hair, safety scissors on the floor-
Life with this three year old is never a bore!

Can you guess what happened at our house today? wink.

"God our Savior...wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth."- 1 Timothy 2:4

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are a few pictures I took this morning of our two sweethearts! (Thank you to Nana for the cute outfits. ) Our girls are eagerly anticipating our date night tonight with daddy. It has become our family tradition to eat at Chic-Fil-A every Valentine's Day. (This tradition started a few years ago when Chic-Fil-A was running a bottomless nuggets promotion on February 14. I don't think they run this particular deal anymore, but we still enjoy our date with daddy! )

On this Valentine's day, I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to the gift of Christ's love! I love my husband, I love my children, I love our extended family, I love our friends... but the love I have for others is barely a drop in a bucket in comparison to God's love for us! One of my favorite new songs is by a Christian woman named JJ Heller, called "Love Me". A few lyrics include:

'I will love you for you
Not for what you have done or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew'

My prayer for you today is that you will experience true love that can only come from our Lord, Jesus Christ! No one could ever love you the way He loves you!

"For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God."- Psalm 86:10

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A heart to serve

It is such a precious treat when we see the Lord's word making a difference inside the hearts of our children. Even though Bella is only three years old, she understands that Jesus tells us to put others before ourselves. We have been practicing serving eachother, sharing toys and treats, and waiting until others are finished speaking before we talk. Bella really blessed my heart last night, during our very first sleepover. Emma Grace invited one friend (a sweet seven year old little girl) to spend the night at our house. I was in the kitchen preparing their snack for movie time, and Bella came to help me. She reached up and pulled a filled plate down from the counter and said, "I'll serve Skylar!". A second later, she reappeared in the kitchen to reach for a second filled plate. "I'll serve Wubs!". Oh, how I love that sweet girl! It is so exciting to watch God's work!

-ps- On a side note, I am writing this post at 5:30am because I've been awake for over an hour. I couldn't sleep because Baby J.J. is currently having a party inside my belly! I don't remember either of our girls kicking, turning, and moving quite this much. It's actually pretty entertaining to watch my stomach move. wink!

"For I know the plans I have for you, " declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."- Jeremiah 29:11

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Working in children's ministry is never dull! David and Pastor Ryan got slimed during all three services last Sunday as a fun reward for the children in Kidztown. The children worked hard in their efforts to raise money for our Lottie Moon Christmas offering! Our theme was 'Sock it to Lottie' and each child was given a sock to fill with money for our goal. The money the children raised (over $2400) will be used to assist international missionaries as they spread the Good News of the gospel .
We all enjoyed watching daddy and Ryan get all gooey! As you can imagine, there was LOTS of laundry to be washed after three sliming sessions! wink!

"For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of life." -Psalm 56: 13

Build-a-Bear Workshop

A few weeks ago, Emma Grace and Bella were invited to a birthday party at Build-a-Bear! We have never been to Build-a-Bear, so I think we were all in awe. I have never seen so many toy accessories and the staff were so sweet. It really felt like we were there to get a real pet! The children were allowed to choose an animal, which was very exciting. Wubs chose a brown dog and Bella chose a gray cat. After stuffing the animals and 'washing' them, the girls got to print out a birth certificate for their new pets. Bella named her cat Grace, and Wubs named her dog Fudge. (But you have to hear her pronounce Fudge! She sounds like she has a French accent. It sounds like Fush- which rhymes with rush. wink!) We were very thankful for this fun day, and we even journaled about it during homeschool. Below are some pictures I took during the party!

"Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."- 1 Corinthians 13:6-7

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our latest trick

Bella loves her 'new' jammies from Emma Grace's old wardrobe! Our latest family trick is called Sack of Potatoes. Daddy picks up his little sack of potatoes while she giggles and begs him to do it again and again!

"Be joyful in hope, patient in afflication, faithful in prayer."- Romans 12:12