Our Journey Home

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Photojournal: Chobani yogurt's littlest fan

"I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."- 1 Corinthians 1:4

Monday, July 30, 2012

Mommy, Me, and Miss Leigh tea party!

Bella loves her Sunday school teacher, Miss Leigh! Miss Leigh has taught Bella's class for the last two years, and she is a sweetheart. Miss Leigh loves the Lord and she faithfully serves with the four year olds at our church every week. Two months ago, Bella told me that she wanted to have a tea party for Miss Leigh. I listened as Bella told me all about her elaborate plans (which she had been developing with her friend Gracie) to host a tea party at our house. She said all the little girls would do crafts, eat snacks, and wear fancy dresses. Bella wanted to have a tea party for Miss Leigh with all her heart! I knew I needed to help Bella follow through with her plans. We picked a date, talked to Miss Leigh, and invited three friends to attend. This past Saturday morning, we hosted our Mommy, Me, and Miss Leigh tea party!
Bella was so excited when she woke up on Saturday morning!
Daddy took Wubs and JJ with him for a few hours during the tea party. Wubs was welcome to stay for the party but she wanted to spend time with her two favorite guys! The three of them ran a few errands and ate lunch at a restaraunt together!
Gracie came early to play before the tea party started. The girls couldn't wait for the fun to begin!
Bella and Gracie decided to try out the new tea cup sippy cups while they waited for the other friends to arrive!
Next to arrive was Ella. Ella and Bella enjoyed looking at the Priness I Spy book together.
After all the girls arrived, it was time for a snack. We prayed and thanked God for Miss Leigh and for our time together! 
After snack, each little girl made a tea cup necklace with lovely beads.
Then they made tea pot picture frames.
It was a wonderful Saturday morning with friends! Thank you Ella, Miss Leigh, Miriam, and Gracie, for sharing your Saturday morning with us! We love you all!
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."- Romans 12:10

Friday, July 27, 2012


This week, we have been studying a scripture found in 1 Peter. We have been learning about true beauty; we have been studying God's definition of beautiful. To introduce our new scripture to the girls, we made a craft. I drew a simple hand-held mirror shape on a piece of construction paper, and the girls cut them out and colored them. Then we added a circle of aluminum foil to the center. I asked the girls to look into their homemade mirrors. "It doesn't work, mommy!" said Bella. "You can't really see yourself." said Wubs. "You're right... these mirrors don't really work, do they? But you know, some people think that they can look in a mirror and see how beautiful they are. And just like our pretend mirrors,well, that doesn't work. A mirror shows you a reflection, but it can't show you how beautiful you are. Let me read you what God says about beauty:
'Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.'- 1 Peter 3:3-4
God says that we aren't beautiful because we wear a fancy dress, or glitter shoes, or we have lipstick on our lips. God says our beauty comes from our gentleness, our kind words, and from loving others. Our beauty comes from the inside. Can you help me think of some ways that we can be beautiful in God's eyes?"
The girls helped me brainstorm a 'beautiful list' and I was so encouraged by their ideas! Here is what they decided is truly beautiful:
put others before yourself
using your manners
believing in Jesus
making wise choices
help clean up
giving to others
helping people
not tattling
speak kind words
not believing Satan but believing God
learn about Jesus
telling other people about Jesus
The girls loved this activity and we have reflected on it every day! (That's the great part about posting our scriptures on the refridgerator! We see it all the time!) We know that the world wants to teach our girls that beautiful is all about their body, their hair, fashion, and other things that will all fade away, but we want to teach them the Truth, starting at an early age. We want them to know the Truth so well that they will be able to recognize and turn away from the lies they see in television commercials, on magazine covers, etc. We are praying that the small seeds we are planting will produce great fruit!

"If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all."- Isaiah 7:9b

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Today is our happy anniversary!

In honor of our nine year wedding anniversary, I wanted to share nine reasons why I'm certain that I'm married to the most wonderful man in the whole wide world:
9. My husband can fix anything. Our car, our lawn mower, our dryer- he is amazing! If it is broken, he does a little research, orders a part or two, and then he fixes it, good as new!
8. My husband is hilarious! Whether he's singing a funny song (he has a real knack for changing the lyrics to our favorite songs and making them silly) or he is telling me a funny story, David makes me laugh every day!
7. My husband is a leader. He is a team player, too, but the Lord has really given David a gift to lead others. David leads through serving others; his leadership style inspires me.
6. My husband has a deep voice, bright blue eyes, broad shoulders, and dark hair. (So, basically- he is a total babe! giggle)
5. My husband is manly. Enjoys mowing the grass-goes fishing-drives a truck-skilled grillmaster- kind of manly man!
4. My husband is smart. Book smart, people skills smart, resourceful smart... David is wise.
3. My husband loves our children deeply. He disciples our children, encourages our children, and plays with our children.
2. My husband loves me faithfully. He puts my needs before his own. He knows all my imperfections and he loves me anyway. wink.
1. My husband loves and fears the Lord. David is seeking the Lord and growing in Him daily.

I love you Sweetheart! Thank you for choosing me to be your wife!
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud."- 1 Corinthians 13:4

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: the littlest bookworm

"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."- Romans 8:18

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Slow to speak

It was so sweet to see all our children climb up on David's lap the other evening. He wrapped his arms around all of them and listened as the girls told him stories from the day. It was precious and I had to catch this moment with our camera! Nothing beats the embrace of a daddy! wink.
I once heard a radio d.j. say that she prays for God to keep His arm wrapped around her shoulder and keep His hand covering her mouth. I laughed when I heard her say that, because it is so true. I know that there have been many, many times when God has covered my mouth! And while the radio d.j. was teasing, there was a lot of truth in what she was saying.Scripture reminds us to "be slow to speak" and "when words are many, sin is not absent".  The closer I am to God, the easier it is to choose my words carefully and only speak Truth. I guess it's because Jesus really is covering my mouth!
"When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."- Proverbs 10:19
"Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,"- James 1:19

Friday, July 20, 2012

a broken promise

We have been to the dentist many, many times this year because Bella is prone to getting cavities and absess'. She has been a brave little girl, but ever since an emergency tooth extraction back in January, going to the dentist has been, well...unappealing to Bella. wink. This past Wednesday, Bella had yet another dentist appointment. But this was supposed to be our last appointment; it was just a simple cavity filling. I knew Bella would be leery of her appointment so I asked David if he could slip away from the office and join us. I was so excited that God worked everything out for our whole family to go support sweet Bella!
As we were heading out the door to go to the appointment, Bella pleaded, "I'm scared when they pull out my teeth! I don't want to go! I want to call and say no, we aren't coming today." I assured her that we would be home soon and then... I made a promise: "Baby, it won't take long at all! The dentist just wants to peek at all your teeth and make sure they're all healthy. I promise, they aren't pulling out any teeth today. It will be okay, I promise." *sigh* I made a promise that I could not keep.
We arrived at the dentist, and Bella clung to my leg when her name was called. The nurse allowed me to walk with Bella all the way to her chair and give her a kiss. I quickly exited the room and joined David, Wubs, and JJ in the waiting area. About twenty minutes later, the nurse came to talk to us. Bella had another absessed tooth. It had to be removed immediately. I felt my heart drop. We agreed to the additional charges for the unexpected extraction, and the nurse went back to give the dentist our consent. David, Wubs, and I held hands and prayed for Bella.
Soon, a groggy little Bella was guided back into the waiting room by the nurse. Her little mouth was already swollen, stuffed with gauze, and bloody drool was rolling down her chin. My eyes filled with tears and I scooped her up. She laid her head on my shoulder and I began apologizing profusely for breaking my promise. "I am SO so so sorry Baby. I didn't know that the dentist would find a boo boo tooth. I am so so sorry, mommy didn't know."
We dropped David off at the church and I came home with the children. JJ took his nap and the girls watched a movie. Bella even licked a popsicle. I was really wrestling with the fact that I made a promise and then I broke it. Even though it was unintentional, I felt a.w.f.u.l. The Holy Spirit encouraged my heart and reminded me that God can use all things for His glory, including my broken promise. I went to the couch with my Bible and I talked to the girls about mommy's broken promise. I told them that even though I love them with all my heart, and even though I would never ever mean to break a promise to them, the Truth is that God loves them sooooo much more than I do. And God's promises are the only promises that never ever get broken. I opened my Bible to Psalm 145 and I read, "The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made." I wrote out this scripture on a piece of paper and I pointed out the word 'all'. God is faithful to all his promises. God is loving toward all he has made. I asked Bella to forgive me and we snuggled together for a long time. We are praying for healing for Bella's mouth and we are praising God for his faithfulness.

Have a wonderful weekend!

"The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. "- Psalm 145:13b

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's official!

 We just got our documentation from the state of North Carolina... and our homeschool is official! Since Emma Grace is going to be starting second grade this year, we needed to register our school with the state. Academy of  Grace will begin in August at the McNeill house!  While we are truly enjoying our summer break, I think we'll all be excited when it's time to begin our school year!

Below are a few pictures of Bella and JJ from yesterday afternoon. They had gotten their sunglasses out of the diaper bag and they were having so much fun together. I love it when I am able to catch moments like this with our camera!

"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful."- Colossians 4:2

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: New goggles

(New goggles in the bathtub, to be exact. wink!)
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us."- Romans 8:18

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


During a recent grocery shopping trip to Sam's Club, we decided to order some pizza for lunch at the small restaurant within the store. I took our three children to the table to wait while David ordered our lunch. Wubs, Bella and JJ are very familiar with Sam's Club because they come shopping with me once a month so I can purchase snacks for our church.  But this particular shopping trip was a treat, because we were out with daddy, just spending the day together and running errands. It felt like the perfect family day. Until...
David sat down at our table and said, "I ordered our pizza and I ended up getting a whole one. We can take home our leftovers. They said it will be ready in a few minutes." We passed out napkins and drinks. We laughed at JJ, who was playing peekaboo with a napkin. We were waiting patiently. Well, all of us, except for Bella. She was choosing to pout, sigh loudly, and scowl. Bella, our little girl who loves routine, was thrown off by the idea of waiting for her pizza. We typically order pizza by the slice when it's just mommy and the children on our monthly shopping trips, so when David returned to our table empty-handed, she was m.a.d.
I didn't want to allow Bella's behavior to dampen our happy day, so I decided to ignore her obvious attempts to show us her discontentment. I continued to include her in our conversation and I even tried to snuggle her closer to my seat. It wasn't working. She was angry and she wouldn't budge. David and I exchanged 'the look' and I said, "I'm going to take Bella to the bathroom."
As I walked to the bathroom with our youngest daughter, the Holy Spirit was telling me not to spank her. Instead, lavish her with grace and change her heart, not just her outward behavior. I had no idea what I was going to say to Bella, but once I locked the stall door and knelt down beside her, the Lord filled my mouth:
"Bella, why did we come to the bathroom?"
(chin to her chest) "Because I was bad and I was poutin'. "
"And why were you pouting?"
"Because I'm hungry."
"Baby, look at mommy. Remember how you wanted a piece of cheese pizza? (I used my hands to make a V-shape, like a slice of pizza.) Well, our daddy ordered us a whole pizza. (I made a big circle using my arms.) Even though you only asked for one piece of pizza, daddy wanted to bless us and buy us a whoooole pizza. And it is going to be so so yummy! But instead of saying, 'Thank you daddy,' you were mad. Do you understand that daddy was trying to bless you? "
Bella nodded and her eyes filled with tears.
"We couldn't see the pizza that daddy bought us because it was cooking in the oven. But we need to trust that daddy loves us and he is always going to do what is best for our family. Wouldn't you rather have a whooole pizza, instead of just one slice?"
"I'm sorry, mommy!" Bella hugged me tight and began to cry. I rocked her in my arms and kissed her sweet face. Oh, how I love the fruit of a repentant heart!
"I forgive you, honey. And guess what? I love you! And daddy loves you! And Jesus loves you most of all! Even when you choose to sin, we always, always love you. Are you ready to go back to our table with a happy heart?"
"Yes, mama."
And with that, I carried my precious baby girl in my arms back to the table. Just in time for pizza! We prayed and enjoyed our lunch together. (And it was a good thing that David ordered an entire pizza, too! It was nearly gone in no time! wink.)

You know, the Lord taught me so much from that interaction with Bella. How many times have I pouted when I haven't gotten what I wanted? How many times have I been mad at God when I asked for one thing and He gave me something different? And yet, the Lord  always knows what is best and He has given me (abundantly) more that I could ever request. When Bella couldn't see the pizza, she was mad. But lunch was coming, and it was more than she could imagine! I was reminded of 2 Corinthians 4:18, "So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." I am praying that I will trust God more, especially during those times when I cannot understand or see His plans.

"Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love."- Ephesians 4:2

Monday, July 16, 2012

Our silly night at Chic-fil-A!

We had so much fun, dressing up like cows last Friday night! (We participated in Chic-fil-A's annual cow appreciation day.) We have enjoyed cow apprecation day for the last few years. And every year, David and I have the same conversation; we are blown away by the generousity of this restaurant. I wonder how much free food they give away every year for this event? Wow!  Here are a few pictures from our evening...
Wubs and Bella, just before we left home.

Say, "Moooo!"

Just the girl cows. (I almost wrote 'just the heifers' but technically, I don't think I'm a heifer since I'm a mommy? Hmmm. )wink!

The leader of our herd and his oldest cow!
Even JJ wore a little costume. He gave me a funny look while I painted his nose, but he never once attempted to wipe it off!

Our blessed little herd!

"God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."- Hebrews 6:10

Friday, July 13, 2012

Today is Cow Appreciation Day!

Have you ever gone to celebrate Cow Appreciation Day at Chic-fil-A? It is so fun and today is the big day! If you dress like a cow, you'll get a free meal- plus, you'll get to see lots of funny costumes! Click here for more details. Maybe we will see you there! Have a great weekend!

"For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."- Romans 6:23

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dogsitting Pippen

Last weekend, we had the opportunity to take care of the sweetest little fella, Pippen! Our friends, Mike and Emily, were going out of town, and since they know our girls love dogs, they asked if we would like to dogsit for them. It was such a treat! (And I admit it, even I started to love Pippen!) One day, we would like to get our children a dog of their very own, but until then, dogsitting is the next best thing! wink. Pippen celebrated his birthday while he was in our care, so we did our best to make him feel special! We sang happy birthday and fed him a small piece of steak. The girls also decorated his cage with lots of little pictures. We are looking forward to keeping Pippen again in August for a few days!

"A fool finds no pleasure in understanding but delights in airing his own opinions."- Proverbs 18:2

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

DIY: Make a Superhero (in just 3 easy steps!)

Step 1: Go through your closet to find your old t-shirts. (Sweet hubby's old t-shirts work great, too!)
Step 2: A little snip here, a little snip there, and a few stitches... it's a cape!

Step 3: Add some super children.

Ta da! Superheroes!
"My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,"- Luke 1:47

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


The other day, I overhead Emma Grace and Bella talking in the backseat of the car. Bella was holding a toy and she must have noticed some words on the bottom of it. She asked her sister to read the words on her toy.
"Wubs, what does it say?"
"It says...Made In China."
"WHAT?!?? It was made in China?? WOW!! MOMMY! My toy was made it China!!!"
Bella was absolutely thrilled to find out that her toy had been made all the way in China! wink. It was really cute.
The toy was just a simple Dollar Store nicknack, nothing special. Until now! Bella thinks that her 'China toy' is so amazing! I got to thinking about that. The value of the toy has certainly changed for Bella. What will happen when Bella really understands about the One who made her? I can't wait for the day when Bella experiences true joy as she comes to the saving knowledge of her Maker. After all, Bella has been made by the creator of the universe, in His image;she has been made fearfully and wonderfully!

Emma Grace started swimming lessons last week! We love Miss Bailey and Wubs is having lots of fun! Here are a few pictures from her first lesson.

"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may recieve mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."- Hebrews 4:16

Monday, July 9, 2012

The 4th of July

The day before the fireworks, we had a lesson about why we celebrate Independence Day. The girls learned about our country's freedom from Great Britain, the Declaration of Independence, the Liberty Bell, and the meaning of the stars and stripes on the America flag. We colored pictures for a 4th of July storytime, and we also made a 'freedom necklace' using red and blue Fruit Loops. (I realize that the necklace craft was a bit of a stretch but we are pretty low on our homeschool supplies right now due to our summer break. But Wubs and Bella loved it!)
(Look Aunt Paula! Emma Grace loves her new dress! Thank you again!)

This year, we took the children to their very first 4th of July fireworks display! The girls have seen fireworks in our neighborhood and also at a baseball game, but this was their first time sitting on lawn chairs in a grassy field, gazing up at the sky. As you'll see below, Emma Grace enjoyed the display more than her sister. wink! Bella liked the idea of the fireworks, but when it came right down to it, they were loud and they made her nervous. Oh, how I love all the differences between our girls. They are both so precious!

A family photo before the fireworks began. Here comes the show! Watch Bella's face...

"Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble."- 1 Peter 3:8