Our Journey Home

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday funny: apology?!?

Bella walked into the kitchen with her eyebrows furrowed. She was deep in thought and her arms were crossed, as though she was a little mad. "Baby, what are you thinking?" I asked.
"Wubs never apologized, mommy! She never even said sorry she gave me the stomach bug!!!"
Nearly two weeks since our terrible stomach bug virus, and Bella is still thinking about it! wink! I explained to Bella that a.n.y.o.n.e could have given her the stomach bug- someone in our family, someone at church, even someone at the grocery store! But, she was still pretty certain it was Wubs. ha ha!
ps- And, from our family to yours- Merry, Merry Christmas!!! I'll be taking a little blogging break until the new year.

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you."- James 4:7

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Photojournal: Cheerios!

 JJ has discovered a new food sensation...Cheerios in milk! (a.k.a chee ahs,wink!) Here is our little man in action, gobbling up his new favorite breakfast!

JJ's little friend, Seth, celebrated his 1st birthday this past weekend. I have the priveledge of making Seth's smash cake and cupcakes for his big party! He had a Winter One-derland theme, so everything was decorated with penguins!

"A man's wisdom give him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."- Proverbs 19:11

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Birthday, Nana!

Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday, dear Nana! Happy birthday to YOU!

"The Lord confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them."- Psalm 25:14

Monday, December 17, 2012

December 17, six years ago...

We serve an amazing, loving, merciful God. This side of heaven, I don't think I'll ever truly grasp His greatness. However, six years ago, the Lord did redeem our marriage in such a way that I got a glimpse of His immeasurable glory like I had never imagained. You see, on December 17, six years ago... I decided I was going to walk out on my marriage. Emma Grace was only a toddler when I scooped her up, grabbed the diaper bag, and ... I left.
Some of you know our marraige testimony, and some of you know pieces of it. But today, I want to share our testimony.  (And I have to admit, I'm a little nervous! But God has laid it on my heart for some time now to write this story as a record God's work in our lives.) It is a story of two imperfect people, sinful and selfish, who are deeply loved by a perfect Father. It is only by His grace that this story has a beautiful ending. wink.
When we got married, I was very early in my Christian walk. I accepted Christ only six months before I became Mrs. David McNeill. We had a small income (David was finishing college and I was a school teacher) so money was tight. I was not being mentored and we were not attending church regularly. Basically, our marriage was brewing the perfect storm.
I can't even tell you what we were fighting about on December 17, 2006. I don't have the slightest recollection. But what I do remember is that I felt like our marriage was hopeless and I wanted out. I wasn't walking closely with the Lord; I hadn't been studying His Word. I wasn't praying and I wasn't seeking Godly counsel. Instead, I was relying on the influences of the world and I was listening to Satan's lies. Because the Truth is this: God wants us to seek holiness, not happiness. God wants us to experience true joy, not temporary satisfaction in things that do not last. I wasn't being the wife that God had intended me to be; in fact, I don't know that I was being much of a friend to David, either. I wasn't honoring my husband, I wasn't encouraging him, and I certainly wasn't being a blessing to him. I think that deep down, I knew I was failing as a wife and I didn't know any other way out.
Our separation lasted only a few weeks, and in that time, my husband fought for our marriage. He went to talk to a marriage counselor (without me because, isn't this awful- I refused to go!) and he prayed and prayed for our marriage. Then, he truly dazzled me with the love of Christ. David blessed me so much during this time, even though I was being very unloving to him and even though I was seeking a divorce. The state of North Carolina requires a one year separation before a divorce is granted, so I was scouting out apartments that I could rent. When moving day arrived, I was completely set on my decision to have my own place with Wubs. I was staying in South Carolina with my parents but I decided my apartment should be in Raleigh so that David and I could share custody of Emma Grace. David had come to South Carolina that weekend and we were all caravaning back to Raleigh for the moving day. David was driving his Jeep, my dad was following in his truck, and then I was driving in our family car with my mom and Wubs.
We had been driving for nearly two hours when the Holy Spirit absolutely gripped my heart and God very clearly spoke to me. And, for the first time in a long long time... I listened. I heard His voice and I clung to every word. He told me to go home. I remember driving became so difficult because I began to sob. My heart broke and I was filled with an overwhelming desire to truly trust God, even when I didn't understand and even when it was hard. I knew that I needed to go home, to my husband. I called David's cell phone and I asked him to please take the next exit. That's all, no explaination, just a request to pull over our caravan. We pulled over and I was crying so hard that I don't remember if I even told my mom (who was sitting in the passenger seat of my vehicle) why I needed to pull over. I jumped out of the car and I ran to hug my husband. And he knew. I didn't even need to tell him, he just knew. My parents drove back to their house in my dad's truck, and David, me, and Wubs went home! We went home and together, we sought Christian marriage counseling. (And interestingly enough, our marriage counselor and his wife are some of our very dearest friends to this day! ) David and I committed to becoming part of a church body and we joined Faith. We were mentored by Godly men and women that the Lord put into our lives. And we began to pray!  God blessed our marriage immensely and He healed our hurts and His word gave us the tools we needed to have a Biblical marriage. We still make mistakes and we are always learning, but God is back where He should be- at the center of our marriage. And for that, I am eternally grateful.
 "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy; it does not boast, it is not proud."- 1 Corinthians 13:4

Friday, December 14, 2012

Joyful news!

I am SO so very excited to share that Wubs is my new sister in Christ!! Emma Grace asked Jesus into her heart last week, and we couldn't be more overjoyed! We have been praising God for Emma Grace's salvation and her new life in Christ!
While we do study the Bible in our homeschool curriculum, and Emma Grace has a quiet time as part of our daily routine, the Lord really burdened my heart with a desire to set aside a time each week to have a Mommy and Me Bible study. When I asked Wubs if she would like that idea, she was thrilled! We decided that Tuesday nights would work for our Bible study and it started this week!
We put all three children to bed and then I got everything ready for our Bible study. I set the table with a few things we would need...
I made a little journal for our Bible study time, so we could record what we learn together. I also wanted to make our time extra special so I decided we needed to drink out of goblets! wink.
 After Emma Grace had rested in her bed for about 15 minutes (just long enough to unwind from the day) I cracked her bedroom door and smiled at her. She jumped up and ran out of her bedroom to give me a big hug! She knew it was time for our very first Mommy and Me Bible study!

We started our time together with prayer. I prayed and then we took some time talking about how we would be using our new journal. We decided we would date our journal entry and then we would take turns, each writing one or two sentences. We left space a the bottom of the page so that Emma Grace could draw a picture about what we learned in our Bible lesson.
Next, I talked to Wubs about my Bible. Although she has seen my Bible hundreds of times, I really showed it to her. I showed her all my little notes I've written on the edge of the pages, and the many many places where I've underlined verses. I even showed her little marks where both Wubs and Bella have scribbled in my Bible over the years! wink. We talked about God's Word, and how we can read the same scripture many times and yet learn something new every time. We started our Bible study at the Christmas story in Luke 2. We read about Joseph and Mary's travels to Bethlehem and about the birth of Jesus. We read about the angels that appeared to the shepherds. We had a wonderful discussion about these verses and God really blessed our time together! Here is Wubs with our completed journal entry...

Wubs prayed to close our Bible study time and we sipped our water and chatted for a few more minutes. Wubs really, really liked the opportunity to stay up later than her sister and brother, and it was so precious to have that time to pour into our oldest child! Wubs told me that she can't wait until next Tuesday night, and you know what? I can't wait, either! wink.

"This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."- Luke 2:12

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Bella's custom order... wink!

This week, Bella had a Christmas party in her ballet class! She was supposed to bring a treat to share, and I was just sure she was going to ask me to buy fruit roll ups. But, our sweet youngest daughter looked up at me and said, "Mommy will you make me a cookie cake to bring to ballet? And it can say 'Thank you Miss Ana'?" (Such a precious little request. I knew I could whip that up for her!) "And mommy, will you make snow on my cookie?" (A few snowflakes, no problem! wink) Then Bella added, "Also, could you make four ballerinas, except one ballerina needs to be bigger because that will be Miss Ana and then three little ballerinas so they could be me, Gracie, and Miriam and also please make us dancing just like Miss Ana. Okay, mommy? Okay?" ha ha ha! I had to laugh at Bella's (many) requests! But, it did bless my heart that she wanted to take a homemade cookie instead of a perfectly wrapped store bought treat. I tried my very best to fulfill Bella's custom order...

And Bella loved it! She even helped me write on the box! Oh, I love our baby girl!!

ps- In other 'cake news', our friend Neely turned 8 and she celebrated with a party at the bowling alley! This was a super fun cake to make and I loved the sparkler candles that her mommy purchased for the final touch!
"Your statues are wonderful, therefore I obey them."- Psalm 119:129

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: homeschool activities

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose."- Romans 8:28

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

a lovable little brother

 I honestly can't even count how many times I have heard both Emma Grace and Bella say, "I love having a little brother!" Bella and JJ are true playmates, and Wubs enjoys being mothering toward her brother. Now that JJ is talking, the girls enjoy trying to have conversations with him! The girls are quick to share and be a helper to JJ. He is a lovable little boy! We thank God for our sweet children and for the friendship they share together!
 JJ thought he was pretty funny when he found Daddy's hat! This picture makes me smile!
 JJ decided to try on Bella's boots with his jammies the other night!

"Look at the nations and watch- and be utterly amazed. For I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe, even if you were told."- Habakkuk 1:5

Monday, December 10, 2012

Lesson learned

The stomach bug hit our house last week.
First JJ had it and he was so so sick. It started on Tuesday and bless his heart, he was sick for two days!
On Thursday (well, actually it was Friday morning at 2am) Wubs got it. We were up and down for hours, my poor little girl. Bella woke up that morning at about 6am, complaining of a tummy ache. Within the hour, our sweet girl was violently sick too.
David came home from class and, you guessed it... he had it too!  One by one, our whole family went down. Except for me! The Lord allowed me to stay well to take care of my precious family. I did get a bit prideful, though, telling my friends who called to check on us that "I never get the stomach bug".

Lesson learned- Never say never. I will never again say, "I never get the stomach bug." wink.
We are thankful to be on the mend, and we are grateful for all our friends who were praying for us and checking in on us!

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the prope time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."- Galatians 6:9

Friday, December 7, 2012

Bella's Christmas ballet recital

Last night, we got to watch our little ballerina perform in a Christmas recital! Bella was SO excited! Here are a few pictures from our special night:
Bella, Miriam, and Gracie, waited patiently for the show to begin!

We weren't supposed to use flash photography during the performance, so I don't have any pictures of the girls dancing. They were adorable!

After the show, the girls got all sorts of treats! Flowers from family and gifts from friends. It was very exciting for the ballerinas!

I love the picture above! Miss Bailey is a dear friend of our family. She is also Bella, Miriam, and Gracie's Sunday school teacher. I think the girls thought it was really, really neat to have Miss Bailey come to the recital!

 It was a wonderful night, filled with memories! Have a wonderful weekend!
"Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will recieve, and your joy will be complete."- John 16:24



Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: a little boy, a horse and a pickle

"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obery everything I have commanded you, and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."- Matthew 28:19-20

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

special birthdays

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to bake for three special birthdays!
This cookie was for one of Wubs' dearest friends, Virginia. She is a sweetheart! Emma Grace and Virginia share a love of animals.

This cookie was for my friend Katrina's nephew. Austin is a 12 year old boy who is a big Carolina Panthers fan!

This cake was for Jack- he is the brother of one of Bella's best friends, Gracie. Jack loves Mario, so it was fun to make my first Mario cake! (If you are wondering, the mushroom on top is a giant rice krispie treat, covered in candy clay.) The girls had so much fun at this party because Ms. Amanda had made a treasure hunt for all the children! It was a wonderful weekend with friends!
"Humble yourselves, therfore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time."-1 Peter 5:6

Monday, December 3, 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like...

...Christmas! We put up our Christmas decorations last night and it was SO fun! David and Emma Grace went to pick out our Christmas tree and wow- they picked out the biggest, most beautiful tree we have ever had! (David found a great discount voucher online for a local Christmas tree lot and for the same price we paid last year, we got a tree that is twice as big!) The girls have a little tree in their bedroom that they enjoy decorating all by themselves:
Hard at work! They were busy putting on some s'more shaped decorations in this picture.

Ta da!
One of my friends taught me this really fun game to play with our children called Spot the Lie. It's an especially useful game for this time of year, when it is easy to become distracted by all the glitter and gifts from the real meaning of Christmas. Here is how we play- I make statements, some true and some false, and then the girls have to spot the lie. For example, one time I said," If you  are at the store and you really really want a candy, you can put one in your pocket if no one is looking." The girls exclaimed, "NOT TRUE! That is stealing!!" And I've said, "We are all sinners." to which the girls said, "That's true!" Now that Christmas is near, we are playing this same game with more of a focus on the commercialism of Christmas vs the birth of our Savior. It's a fun way to teach our children and help them develop the skills they need to discern the Truth from the lies of this world. Sometimes the girls like to reverse the roles and play the game by asking me to spot the lies. They make up statements and it is SO cute! Happy Monday, friends!
"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."- Luke 2:14