Our Journey Home

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Squeeze!

"You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God."- 2 Corinthians 9:11

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

preparing for a new school year

It's that time of year again! It's time to start to preparing for our new school year. I am SO excited because both Wubs and Bella will be attending Academy of Grace! wink. (Academy of Grace is the official name of our homeschool. We had to decide on a name for our 'school' when we registered with the state of North Carolina.) I've been busy planning, preparing, ordering, and organizing! We are so thankful for God's provision for homeschool!

Bella will be starting in kindergarten and she can't wait to learn how to read. She has been peeking in our book baskets and asking me lots of questions about her new workbooks and math blocks. I am really looking forward to working with Bella and learning how she processes new information. While Bella is studying her letters and numbers, I will be studying Bella! wink.

Emma Grace will be in the 3rd grade this year. I can't believe it! When I was a public school teacher, I taught third grade, so I have a special place in my heart for this grade level. Using the results from our end of year testing, I am trying to prepare lessons to meet the specific needs of Emma Grace. (I learned a lot from those test results. It was helpful to see where Wubs struggles so I can provide extra instruction. And, it was also fun to see where Emma Grace needs to be challenged because she exceeds her grade level!)

I asked both girls the same question, "When you think about our new homeschool year, what do you think you'll enjoy the most?"
Wubs: "Let me think... snacktime! And, reading and learning cursive."
Bella: "Crafts! Crafts! And the calendar songs, too."

We are looking forward to beginning our new school year, the last week of August!
"I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free."- Psalm 119:32

Friday, July 26, 2013

10 beautiful years

Ten years ago today, on July 26 2003, we became husband and wife. Ten beautiful years, filled with God's grace, faithfulness, and blessings. I will be forever thankful that the Lord allowed me to be Mrs. David McNeill!
"The man said: This one, at last, is bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called woman, for she was taken from man. This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh."- Genesis 2:23-24

Thursday, July 25, 2013

in the storm

The other day, I took the children for a walk around our neighborhood. (Even JJ was walking... no more stroller! He is a big boy! wink.) We had gotten about a ten minutes into our stroll when the sky started to look really dark and the wind began to blow. In no time at all, we found ourselves in a downpour! I enjoyed watching how differently our children reacted to the sudden storm. Wubs was thrilled, happily jumping in the puddles and walking with her mouth gaping open in hopes of catching a raindrop. Bella was a little unsure until she saw her sister's excitement and then she joined in the puddle hopping. They were really cute, having fun together!

I would have expected our little boy to be in the puddles and squealing with delight, but instead, JJ wanted me to carry him. He nuzzled his head into my neck and wrapped his arms around me tightly. He wasn't upset, but he also did not want me to put him down. JJ's response was such a precious reminder of the comfort I can always find in Christ when I'm in the midst of life's storms. I don't have to be afraid, but I can trust He will always be with me, to carry me. I couldn't stop smiling.  It was such a special memory and I praised God for the sweet reminder of His faithfulness.

We are having lots and lots of fun with the sprinkler and the hose this summer! Yesterday, Wubs made a 'mouse' while we were outside... God has given her such creativity!

I love this sweet smile.

JJ and our neighbor, Charlee!


Charlee told me to take her picture when she counted to three, so I could get a picture of the water on her head. wink.
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and with all your strength."Deuteronomy 6:5

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Snuggle me

"This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit."- 1 John 4:13

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Science Camp 2013

Last week, Wubs went to science camp! Emma Grace was a participant in a free camp called Science in the Summer; it is provided by a local healthcare company, GlaxoSmithKline. She went to camp every morning from 9am-noon, and she learned so much! This summer, the camp theme was genetics. Emma Grace loved doing experiments, playing games, making crafts, spending time with friends, and bringing her own special snack every morning. On the last day of camp, families were invited to come see all their camper's completed work from the week. We were so excited to follow Wubs around the science lab and listen to all her new knowledge about genetics! It was a blessing to be part of this program and we were so thankful for the opportunity!
Wubs stopped to pose for me with a model of dna strand. wink.
Here, Wubs was teaching Bella about the blubber the polar bears need to keep warm in the icy cold water.
Wubs taught daddy about the blubber, too!

Wubs was showing JJ and Bella some of her goodies from her science bag.

Polar bear paws!

Sweet little science campers- Lily, Clara, and Wubs!
"Since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us hold on to grace. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe."- Hebrews 12:28

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cheer Camp 2013

Bella attended Upward Cheer Camp at our church last week! She loved learning cheers, making crafts, devotion time, eating yummy snacks, and practicing a dance routine. Bella had lots of fun making new friends, too! I had the opportunity to be the Kindergarten-1st grade cheer coach, so every night, Bella and I went to cheer camp together! We both had a wonderful time!
Bella and several of her new friends from cheerleading camp.

The girls were all lined up before the Friday night performance. Cheer camp parents were invited to come watch the little cheerleaders perform their cheers and dance.

Almost time to go into the gym to perform!
We love you, cheerleader Bella!

"Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart."- Proverbs 3:3

Friday, July 19, 2013

my prayer partner

In addition to praying with my husband, praying by myself, and praying with our children, God has  blessed me with a prayer partner.

On Tuesday mornings, when it's a little dark outside and my family is still fast asleep, my prayer partner calls our house. Anticipating her call, I always have the phone in my hand so I can answer right away. We spend a few minutes sharing praises, sharing our prayer requests, encouraging one another in Truth, and then we spend time praying together. I am so very thankful the Lord hears every prayer!

Have a wonderful weekend! And, in blog entries to come... I will be sharing pictures and stories from Science Camp and Cheerleading Camp! Wubs and Bella have been busy this past week!

"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves."- Romans 12:10

Thursday, July 18, 2013

a mommy skill

One mommy skill that I have learned over the years: the ability to think fast. wink.
Wubs- "I have so many pictures in my baby book! I like the pictures where I'm all snuggled up in a blanket. I was so little!"

Bella- "Wubs has more pictures than me, Mama. I even have empty pages. Does JJ have empty pages like me?" -Bella hesitates-  "Wait! Where is JJ's baby book?"

Mommy- (Hmmmmm-think fast. What is a good reason why poor JJ doesn't even have a baby book, and he is two years old?) "Who wants to go play in the sprinkler?"

Wubs, Bella, and JJ- "MEEEEEE!"

Sprinkler time with a picnic lunch... what a wonderful summer afternoon!


"Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."- 2 Corinthians 9:7

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Cow Appreciation Day 2013

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm."- Proverbs 13:20

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

my habit

I have a humming habit. wink. I almost always have a little song, floating around inside my head and I find myself humming it throughout the day. It's not always the same song, it changes as I discover new favorites, during praise and worship time at church or on the radio. Right now, the song in my heart is a song called Lord, I Need You. Click here if you'd like to listen to this song that is encouraging me right now. These are the beautiful lyrics:

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, you're my hope and stay

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord."- Ephesians 5 :8-10

Monday, July 15, 2013

July rewind... wink

Oh dear! I've been so inconsistent with blogging this summer, and I don't want to forgot the sweet memories the Lord has given to our family! So, I'm going to rewind just a little and write about our 4th of July weekend.
We surprised our children by taking a whirlwind trip to South Carolina! We left our house after dinner one night "to go get some ice cream" and instead, we drove five and a half hours to Papa and Nana's house! About 30 minutes into our drive, Wubs got suspicious. She stared out her car window for a long time and then she said, "Daddy, I don't think this is the way to get ice cream." David played a guessing game with the girls, where they were allowed to ask yes/no questions about our destination, and they guessed it in no time! We enjoyed staying with Papa and Nana, and spending time at the lake with Grandpa, Grandma, and all the uncles, aunts, and cousins. (Thank you so much, Papa and Nana, for helping us surprise our babies with a special trip! Thank you uncle Justin and aunt Paula for hosting a wonderful 4th of July cookout, and thank you uncle Joe and aunt Teresa for taking us for a ride on your boat!) We were only gone for three nights and two full days, but we packed in a lot of fun!
While in SC, we went to JJ's first baseball game! Just before the game, we stopped at the Shoeless Joe Jackson museum. Then, Papa and Nana joined us for the ballgame. After the game, there was a beautiful fireworks show.  It was such a treat and we were so thankful for the many ways the Lord blessed our trip!

Daddy and JJ, holding a baseball bat from the late 1800's. The Shoeless Joe Jackson museum was really educational and we all enjoyed it!

Wubs, Bella, and JJ, posing in front of the Joe Jackson mural.

We stopped for a few pics before the game.

We had to snap a picture with Papa and Nana, too!

It rained during the baseball game, but that only made it more memorable! JJ l.o.v.e.d the baseball game and he was really excited everytime the ball was hit!

Bella and mommy. I love this little girl so much.

We even got to meet the Greenville Drive mascot! This picture makes me smile. I love my family so very very much!

"Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures."- 1 Corinthians 15:3

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: JJ mails a letter

(JJ wrote a letter to Mickie, his Sunday school teacher, who is currently at airforce bootcamp!)

"My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when your lips speak what is right."- Proverbs 23:15-16

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the sound of your voice

The Lord is very, very merciful and gracious to me. I cannot even comprehend how very much He loves me.

And, in His faithfulness and kindness, He shows me the depths of my sinful heart while also showing me His deep compassion for me. For example ...

Last week, Bella started this new habit. She'd call out my name from the other room, "MAMA!!" and I'd respond, "Yes, baby?" or "What, Bella?" or "I'm in the kitchen!" etc.
And then she'd say, "Nevermind."
I confess, after about two days, this new habit started to really bother me. It was happening about every 20 or 30 minutes, all day long. I would be startled by the sound of my name, stop what I was doing to respond, and then, it would be for no reason at all. As silly as this sounds, I started to feel  frustrated. I didn't want to feel this way, so I asked Bella to come talk to me in my bedroom.

"I need to talk to you about something, baby. I have noticed that you have been saying my name a lot lately. And, I don't mind when you call my name because you need to ask me a question or you want to show me something or you need my help... but, you are just saying my name a lot and then, when I answer you, you don't really need me at all. I don't understand, and I need to tell you that I don't like it when you do that. When I hear my children calling out to me, I stop what I'm doing and I want to help them or listen to them. But, you are kind of tricking me because you are calling out my name, and then you say, "Nevermind." or "Nothing, mama."

Bella nodded. However, I was still confused. I was hoping for an explanation.

"Well, can you tell me why you are saying my name? Why do you say "Mommy!" and then, you don't really need me?"
Bella looked thoughtful. "I just really like to hear the sound of your voice."

Oh, my heart just broke. Her sweet words echoed in my ears. The Holy Spirit opened my eyes and I could see my own selfish sin in this situation. I reached out and hugged our youngest daughter for a long, long time. I couldn't even believe that I had been frustrated by my baby. I pray that Bella will always enjoy hearing her mommy's voice, but so so much more importantly, I pray that she'll have a relationship with Christ. I pray that Bella will call out to the Lord and take comfort in knowing He is always listening. I pray she will listen to His voice and obey His commands. 

The Lord reminded me that I need to desire to hear His voice throughout the day. (Bella's new habit needs to be my own habit with my Heavenly Father!) He showed me that I need be calling out to Him, even when I don't necessarily have a request or a reason, but just because I delight in His voice.

God is just so very good to me.

"God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us."- Romans 5:8

Monday, July 1, 2013

a birthday photojournal

 This year, Wubs asked for three things to celebrate her birthday:
1.She wanted to go to Build a Bear.
2. She wanted to invite her Sunday School teachers, Mr. Jerry and Ms. Vicky, to our house for dinner.
3. She wanted her mommy to make her a cookie cake. With a 'mermaid Hello Kitty' on it. wink. 

And that's exactly what we did to celebrate Emma Grace's 8th birthday! It was a very special day!

 I love this picture of Bella holding her gift for Wubs.  I had explained that our gift to Emma Grace would be our trip to Build a Bear,but Bella must have really wanted to give a present to her sister. All by herself, she picked out one of her own favorite stuffed animals and found a gift bag to wrap it up. When she showed me what she had down, my eyes filled with tears. We know that the Lord is at work in Bella's heart! I love that little girl so much!

I tried taking pictures while we were at Build a Bear, but they didn't turn out; all my pictures were really yellow and fuzzy. (The girls had so much fun, though! They each made a dog with a puppy.) After Build a Bear, we had Emma Grace's birthday lunch at Chic-fil-a. Wubs even got a free milkshake because it was her birthday!

mmmmm, cookies and cream!

Mr. Jerry and Ms. Vicky blessed our family by coming over for dinner!  It was such a treat to have them at our house for the evening!

Wub's cookie cake. I was nervous when I finished because I've never seen a 'mermaid Hello Kitty' but, Wubs was pleased. Whew!

Wubs blowing out her number 8 candle.

Mr. Jerry had all the children giggling and giggling! He is so much fun!

Birthday snuggles at the end of a wonderful day! We love you, Wubs! We hope you had a wonderful birthday!
"My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."- 2 Corinthians 12:9