Our Journey Home

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fire Station Anticipation

Tomorrow we are going on a field trip! We have the opportunity to join several other homeschooling families of kindergarten/ 1st graders for a trip to the Wake Forest fire station! The girls are really excited. Today, Emma Grace brainstormed some questions she wanted to inquire about on our field trip. She made a book that we are going to take with us so we can ask the firemen her questions! We'll be posting the answers to the questions you see below, along with some pictures from our field trip very soon!

"But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been through God."- John 3:21

'the dollars'

(I love this picture of the girls playing a reading game on the computer together! The picture has nothing to do with my post but I wanted to include it anyway. wink!) One of the sweet gifts we recieved over the weekend at our baby showers was a gift card to Target. I knew right away what we could use it for... a diaper bag! When Wubs and Bella were babies, their diaper bag doubled as my pocketbook, too. It was always easier to keep everything in one bag, and when you are a nursing mommy, you rarely leave home without the baby anyway... so a separate pocketbook is not even necessary! Today, we went shopping and it was so fun to look at all the baby items with Emma Grace and Bella. They are really getting excited about their baby brother! When we got to the diaper bag section, there were only about 8 styles to choose from. A few of the bags were immediately disqualified by the girls because they were pink and J.J. needed a 'boy bag'. We narrowed our favorites down to two bags, both very similar in size and features... but one bag cost about $15 more than the other. My gift card was enough to cover the cost of the less expensive bag, but I really liked the design on the other bag. We took a vote. Bella liked the expensive bag, and Wubs preferred the other. Wubs said, "Mommy, you get to break the tie! You will be the tie breaker!" I did some thinking outloud. "Hmmmmm. Well, I really like both of them." Wubs said, "But which one do you like MOST?" "I think I like this one a little more, but it costs more money. And they are both really cute..." Wubs put her hand on my arm and said, "Mommy, I think you need to remember that the dollars is the most important thing. If you don't have enough dollars, we shouldn't get that one." I laughed outloud and gave Wubs a big hug! She was baffled by my giggles because she wasn't trying to be funny! It was just such a sweet thing to say and she was so serious in her delivery of her advice. Plus, she was absolutely right... it would have been silly to overspend when they were both equally cute and the exact same size. So, we went home with the one that didn't require us to spend beyond our gift card, and I left feeling so happy that our daughter has such a sensible little head on her shoulders! ha ha! (Here it is below!)
"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails."- 1 Corinthians 13:7-8

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

My Favorite Things

I haven't watched the movie The Sound of Music for years, but this morning, I found myself humming a tune from that soundtrack. Remember the song 'My Favorite Things'? Here are just a few of the lyrics:

'Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens;

Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens:

Brown paper packages tied up with strings;

These are a few of my favorite things.'

I started humming about a half hour ago because even though it's only 6:27am, I've already been enjoying some of my favorite things this morning! (We wake up eArLy at our house on Wednesdays, because David has one shift at the YMCA, even though he now works full time at our church. He opens the YMCA at 5am and works a three hour duty officer shift. ) Just like the song, my favorite things are simple but they make me smile! Here is what got me humming this morning:

Waking up, snuggled next to the man that I love

A great night's rest (which is a real treat when you are eight months pregnant, wink)

The smell of coffee brewing

Warming my hands above the toaster while I wait for the...POP!

Praying with my husband before he leaves

A good-bye kiss

Climbing back into bed to read my Bible and spend time with the Lord

Hearing spring rain on our bedroom window

Sleeping children, all cozy under their blankets (one little girl who is softly snoring- so sweet!)

I can't help but have a song in my heart! Today is a day that the Lord has made and I want to choose to rejoice in Him! I have been wrestling lately with an overwhelmed feeling due to my multiple checklists. This morning, God has given me an amazing peace through His Word. My prayer is that I will keep my gaze upon Him. I pray that I will seek and find the Lord everywhere because I will be looking for His hand in every situation and conversation!

"You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart."- Jeremiah 29:13

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On the inside

In homeschool, we have been working on a book about feelings. It has been so much fun! Emma Grace and I have had great discussions about what makes us feel happy, excited, sad, etc. She has been enjoying this little creative writing unit very much! Each day, we have written a sentence and illustrated a picture about one of our feelings. Yesterday, the feeling was 'silly'. As I was watching Emma Grace draw a picture of herself being silly, I had to smile. She told me, "Mommy, I am drawing my eyes closed in this picture because I am laughing SO hard!". I love her attention to detail! What really struck me, though, was the way she even drew her tummy and arms- only to later color over her careful artwork by drawing the clothes. (If you look closely at her drawing, you'll see what I'm talking about. She could have easily only drawn a head, dress and legs... but she drew her whole body and then colored on top of it.) Wubs' drawing convicted me as I thought about an honest picture of myself. If I were to add up the time I take selecting and ironing my outfit, putting on makeup, and styling my hair... would it be as much time as I spend in my daily quiet time with the Lord? Some days, I could say yes. Other days, I know I take much more time working on my outside appearance rather than the condition of my heart. How appropriate that Wubs picture of 'silly' made me realize how silly I can be! It's VERY silly that I wouldn't walk out our front door without mascara but I would face the day without spending time in God's word. So, next time you see me, if my hair is a little messy or my shirt has a few wrinkles, I hope you'll rejoice with me! It will mean I spent some extra time working on the inside! wink! "We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts."- 1 Thessalonions 2:4b

Monday, March 28, 2011

Baby Shower(s)!

What a very special baby shower weekend! (Never ever did I think we would have a baby shower since this is our third baby. And we were blessed with TWO showers - on the same weekend! WOW! I'm telling you... God spoils our family!) On Friday night, our dear friends, the Thorntons, hosted a homegroup diaper shower for Baby J.J. We had so much fun enjoying a time of prayer, snacking, and chatting with people we love. (And Emma Grace and Bella enjoyed a great time over at the Cottrell's house during this baby shower, so daddy and mommy got a date night/ baby shower combo!) I brought our camera but I left my pocketbook out in our car. I remember at one point thinking, "I should really go grab our camera..." but the night disappeared very quickly and no photos! Ooops! We made some precious memories, even if they didn't get documented by our camera. wink. On Saturday morning, my precious friends, Becky and Stacee, hosted another shower! This time, the shower was 'mommies only' and we had a wonderful time together. The decorations were super cute- I had to snap some photos of all the blue details! wink. We played games, ate delicious snacks, and laughed a lot. It was such a treat! (David took Emma Grace and Bella on a lunch date, so they had a special Saturday morning, too.) When I got home from the baby shower, the girls helped me put away all J.J's new toys, baby accessories, and sweet gifts. I feel SO blessed to have such precious sisters in Christ! Below are just a few pictures from the big day: "Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord."- Psalm 31:24

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Attitude... whew!

One of our children has been struggling with her attitude. She's displaying this attitude by rolling her eyes, letting out a frustrated sigh (which we call a 'huffy'), and sassy verbal responses. I have to admit- I was shocked when these attitude issues began a few weeks ago! I mean, our girls are little! Isn't this an issue for their teenage years? We have spanked our child for her attitude, I have walked her to a mirror to show her the expression on her face during these 'episodes', I have explained to her that her behavior is disrespectful, etc, etc... but we are continuing to struggle in this area. I'm praying for our precious child and I was hungry for some wisdom in this new, uncharted water of parenting! wink!

This morning, a dear, wise friend counseled me that all these behaviors are explained quite simply: we are daughters of Eve. Our daughter is wrestling with the temptation to give in to her emotions and her desire to be in control. She advised me to continue to pray for our daughter and also be consistent. No more talking about this issue, but discipline (in love) each and every time. And I appreciated this additional nugget of wisdom she shared with me- although I might not outwardly display my own bad attitude, everytime I don't trust the Lord completely with His plans for me, I am actually demonstrating the 'grown up version' of a huffy or eye rolling! Wow. I might have enough self control that I don't stomp my feet when I don't get my way with God, but He knows my heart. Motherhood certainly teaches me a lot about my own sin!

Yesterday the girls went outside to look for ladybugs and play on our deck for a little while. Here are some pictures of Bella, picking flowers and resting on a blanket!

"Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and chidlren, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbnads, so that no one will malign the word of God."- Titus 2:3-5

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Matthew 23:12

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Will you forget about me?"

Early every morning, David and I hear little feet scamper into our bedroom. Bella is always awake before anyone else, and she likes to come into our bed to snuggle. Sometimes she'll even fall back to sleep for a little while. She always comes to my side of the bed, crawls up, and nestles in. It's my good morning treat each day!
And some mornings, Emma Grace wakes up early and crawls into our bed, too! (Not often, though. She usually sleeps an hour later than her sister.) This morning, David got up to take a shower and I was about to get up with Bella when Wubs popped into our room. She wanted to snuggle for a little bit too, so the three of us girls stayed in bed for an extra few minutes. J.J. was awake and kicking, entertaining his sisters! Then Wubs asked me,
"Mommy, you know how babies are really cute? Well, when J.J. pops out... will you forget about me? Will you and daddy just love J.J. so much that you will forget to love me and Bella?"

Oh, that sweet girl! I assurred her that when Jesus puts babies inside of mommy tummies, He always puts extra love inside their hearts as well! So I'll have extra love, enough for ALL my children. When David came back into the bedroom, I told him about Wubs' question. He reassurred her as well, and gave her plenty of kisses and tickles. Bless her heart!

Yesterday Nana sent us a package with some treats! We did a little science experiment with our Peeps candy! Emma Grace LOVED watching the Peeps expand in the microwave.
Hmmm... what will happen when you put a cute, innocent little Peep in the microwave? Wubs thought the Peep would get hot and melt into a puddle.
Let's open the microwave and allow our first victim, er, Peep, to go for a 30 second ride.
Wait for it....
Ta Da! The Peep grew really big inside the microwave, but as soon as we opened the door, it deflated. We ate the melted marshmellow and enjoyed our experiment three more times!
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."- Mark 16:15-16

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bedtime Stories

A few weeks ago,we got a new Bible to read with our girls at bedtime. We had heard about The Jesus Storybook Bible and we wanted to add it to our little library. Daddy surprised us and picked it up at the bookstore one day while he was out! It has been a family favorite ever since!

This Bible is wonderful! Emma Grace and Bella love the illustrations, the wonderful descriptions of the people, and the best part- every story points to Jesus. For example, last night our story was about Jacob, and the two sisters, Leah and Rachel, from Genesis 29-30. Rachel was very pretty and Leah was beautiful, too... but on the inside. Jacob loved Rachel, so he worked for her father for seven years to earn her hand in marriage. However, Rachel's father played a trick on Jacob and on his wedding night, it was Leah who became his bride. ( Emma Grace giggled at this part because in our storybook Bible, Jacob says, "Laban! You scoundrel!" I think scoundrel is going to become a new word in her every day vocabulary now! ha ha.) So Jacob worked for Laban for another seven years, so that he could have Rachel as his bride as well. Jacob loved Rachel the most, and at first, Leah was very sad. But the Lord showed Leah his great love and gave her a joy like she'd never known before! God had very, very special plans for Leah! Here is the ending, as it is written in The Jesus Storybook Bible:
"And you'll never guess what job God gave Leah. You see, when God looked at Leah, he saw a princess. And sure enough, that's exactly what she became. One of Leah's children's children's children would be a prince- the Prince of Heaven- God's Son. This Prince would love God's people. They wouldn't need to be beautiful for him to love them. He would love them with all of his heart. And they would be beautiful because he loved them. Like Leah."

Last night, as we were cleaning up toys and getting ready to start the bedtime routine, Emma Grace said, "Mommy! What Bible story do we get to read tonight?" She enjoys our Bible lessons during homeschool, but she especially loves this Bible storybook! And Bella has been choosing this new Bible as the book she 'reads' while she is falling asleep in her bed. (We allow our children to look at a book every night with their Buzz Lightyear flashlights after we tuck them in. Since they share a room, looking at one more book before bed helps them allow eachother to fall asleep without too much talking and giggling! wink!)

Have a wonderful weekend!
"Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others."-1 Corinthians 10:24

Thursday, March 17, 2011


Emma Grace and Bella love to compete.They love the challenge found in simple, everyday activities. Who will be the fastest to finish brushing their teeth? Who will pick up all their crayons first? The list goes on and on. Until today, there haven't been any hurt feelings during these competitions because they both blurt out, "I won!" no matter if they are really first to finish the event or not.

Today we spent some time outside, enjoying another beautiful day, and the girls had a running race. Emma Grace was the 'winner' because she reached the end first but she is five, and well, Bella is only 3. I watched to see what would happen next. Bella dropped her head, because she realized that although she had been running with all her might, she just couldn't keep up. Wubs said, "Bella, it's okay! My legs go faster because they are bigger. But you are going to grow up like me soon!" Bella perked right up and the two continued to play together happily. It blessed my heart.

Emma Grace's kind encouragement also really convicted me. She didn't try to take any glory when she won the race- instead, she recognized that it wasn't a fair competition. I know that I shouldn't, but my flesh often times tempts me to compare myself with others. (Which isn't fair because there isn't anything 'good' that I can do, and I have no right to take credit for what Christ has done.) I might compare myself to the woman at Wal-Mart who speaks to her children in anger, pridefully thinking to myself that I have more self control than that. Or I might compare myself to a married woman I think is flirting with another man, deciding that I wouldn't ever intentionally dishonor my husband in such a way. In fact, I could spend some serious time here, writing all the ways I compare myself to others. I really stink!

But, luckily for me, the Holy Spirit has opened my eyes to this 'pet sin' that I have, and I repent of it daily. I am so thankful for a Savior who knows all my yuck, and loves me anyway. A pastor once said, " I am the most sinful person I know. I know my every thought, ill intention, and sin nature. I can honestly say that I am the most sinful person I know." Wow. That is so true! I shouldn't compare myself to anyone else but instead, I need to work every day to be more like Jesus. It is only because of Christ's blood shed on the cross that my sins have been washed away. I am a sinner but I have been forgiven. Praise the Lord for His mercies new everyday!

Here are some pictures I took today. From Polly Pockets swimming on our deck to mudpies in the yard, our girls have had a wonderful day!

"Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine."- Isaiah 43: 1b

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Treasures in the backseat

Today we spent some time outside playing and we also cleaned out our car to surprise daddy! I found many 'treasures' in the backseat. An empty Dora sippy cup, a princess bowl, pieces of a candy necklace, one purple crayon, a plastic spoon, a ziploc baggie, and a long lost pink jacket.... just to name a few of the items recovered! How does that happen? wink.

Here are some snapshots!
Wubs, working hard on her scooter!
Bella, playing with the key in the ignition of her big wheel.
Mommy, ready to vacuum up every last Goldfish crumb! (J.J. kicked quite a bit while I ran the vacumm. I guess it must have been super loud to him!)
Bella, still working on that key. I promised her that it is impossible to remove the toy key but she insisted on trying for several minutes. wink.
My favorite picture of the day! Wubs took this self-portrait after she took my picture with the vacuum. What a cutie!
"He who conceals his sins does not prosper, but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy."- Proverbs 28:13

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Every two weeks

We are now headed to the doctor's office every two weeks for tummy checks! We went to the doctor the first week in March, and we were back again today! J.J. will be here soon and we are very excited at our house!
Wubs and Bella have been coming with me to all my appointments. The nurses are super sweet and our girls love listening to their brother's heartbeat. (Today was especially exciting for mommy because for my last two appointments, I haven't gained any weight! Finally, my expansion is slowing down! wink! I'm sure I'll gain a few more pounds over the last weeks but atleast I'm not growing so quickly anymore!)
I happened to have our camera in my pocketbook, so while we were waiting in the exam room, I snapped a few pictures of our sweethearts! Bella has been bringing her diaper bag to all our appointments... if you look closely you'll see it on the floor under the chair. She is ready to be a big sister for sure!

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord."- Hebrews 12:14

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The 'Big Girls'

This weekend we had some 'big girls' stay at our house! Our family participated in Disciple Now, an event for the youth at our church. We had a sweet group of 11th grade girls stay with us. We attended three worship services together, ate meals together, enjoyed studying God's word, went on a food scavenger hunt (to help gather food for our church food pantry), and had lots of great conversations!

Our guest speaker/ pastor for D-Now was a man from Ireland named Peter Lawther. He had a fun accent and a powerful message from Hebrews 11 and 12. I have to admit, I was more than a little blown away by the entire weekend! When I was seventeen, I did not have a personal relationship with the Lord. It was aMaZiNg to me to watch so many young people come together to celebrate Jesus and worship and pray together! It was really exciting.
Emma Grace and Bella LOVED the big girls. (They were so sad on Sunday afternoon when the realization set in that the big girls were not coming home from church with us. Wubs even cried again at bedtime!) One of our favorite activities was the food scavenger hunt on Saturday afternoon. The 'big girls' and our family went walking through our neighborhood, going door to door to ask for donations for our food pantry and invite folks to visit our church. David and I were convicted that we know so few of our neighbors! We earned points for various non-perishable items (peanut butter was 10 points, canned goods were 1 point, and boxed goods were 5 points) and our team was able to earn 533 points! Woo hoo! Overall, the youth collected 3,000 pounds of food for our food pantry! God really blessed all our effots!
Below are a few pictures of Bella, our play-doh girl! She was busy entertaining herself last Friday at the kitchen table, while I was pre-prepping some food for our Disciple Now weekend. Wubs spent the morning running errands with daddy, and Bella stayed home with me. She was really having fun!
(p.s. Just in case you may have noticed, yes, she is wearing the same Curious George shirt featured in other recent blog posts. She would wear it every day if I washed it every night! wink! It's her absolute favorite!)

"Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God."- Hebrews 12:2

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A belly shot

Whew! Just look at that belly! Okay, okay, so maybe I shouldn't be too offended when people make comments about the size of my tummy, huh?

Emma Grace took this picture of me last week. We have had some unseasonably warm days and on this particular day, it was 80 degrees outside! I was wearing this dress while I was cooking dinner and Wubs asked if she could take my picture for daddy! wink. So, we snapped a picture and since a few of my dear friends have requested a belly shot... this is for you!

Our little baby boy, J.J. (Joel Joaquin) is due on May 19. But let me just say, I will be very surprised if I make it that long! I think he wants out now! He is always on the move. And this pregnancy is so different than my pregnancies with Wubs and Bella. They would give me a little kick, kick or a little roll to one side but J.J. enjoys flipping, KICKING, sommersaulting, and stretching! I just can't wait to hold him in my arms and kiss his sweet little face. The big belly, the occasional discomfort that accompanies a kick, the somewhat offensive comments (wink), the inability to find a good comfy spot when I'm trying to fall asleep- it's ALL so incredibly worth it!! I'm loving every minute of it!

"And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him."- Hebrews 11:6

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Sweetest Surprise

Yesterday morning, I came into our office to check my email, when I realized that our house was really quiet. The girls had been playing Polly Pockets together and giggles were filling the living room but now, all of a sudden, it was quiet. Hmmmmm... I had better go investigate. wink.
I walked through the living room, retrieving Polly Pocket's earmuffs that had been left behind during clean up, and continued into the girls' bedroom. I found Bella happily playing with a few stuffed animals and a shopping cart. I peeked into their closet (it's a big walk in closet where we keep all the bins of toys, so we refer to it as the 'play room') and it was empty. "Bella, where's Wubs?"
"I don't know."
Our house isn't big, but even though I was going room to room, I couldn't find Emma Grace. "Wubs? Wubs?"
Finally, a litte voice emerged from our pantry/ laundry room. "Don't come in here mommy! I have a surprise for you!"
A minute later, Emma Grace ran out from the laundry room with the biggest smile across her face. "Come with me, mommy! I made you a surprise!"
I followed Emma Grace through our kitchen and into our pantry, where the floor was covered with piles of folded laundry! My eyes filled up with tears! I gave Emma Grace the biggest hug and told her it was the sweetest surprise she's ever given me. It blessed my heart that she took the initiative to fold that laundry all by herself. I should have taken a picture of Emma Grace with her laundry piles, but I was too busy kissing that precious little face! wink! Instead, I did find this picture I took the other week when the girls were learning how to help me with dusting.
"For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them."- Matthew 18:19