Thursday, May 29, 2008

Fun Fact Friday: A Fresh New Wind

I love blogs. I really do. In fact, I'm addicted. But, they can pose a problem, and actually, I'm referring to more than the fact that my dishes and laundry piles seem to stay bigger, longer now that the blog has entered my life. No, it's more than that. It's the fact that sometimes you can start comparing yourself to others. If you live with my brain and heart, comparisons usually spells disaster. And, usually it's not a fair comparison. A lot of people only put their best face forward, and only write about the good stuff........when it looks like they could win "mom of the year" for the next 10 years straight.

Don't get me wrong, that stuff is fun to read. But, just recently I read a post that was so real it was breathtaking. And, it was NOT all roses and perfection. It was raw, but beautiful. Since reading it, I have been 'slapped in the face' with how God can use something simple like a blog, to minister and speak to many; if we can find it within ourselves to be real and transparent from time to time. Obviously, I'd want the fun stuff to stay and probably even dominate; but I think there is truth to the fact that God can get glory from our struggles and our honesty. Not to mention the fact that we just really never know who will read it, and who just might need to hear it.

With that being said, I'm going to go out on a limb here and share one of mine. Thankfully, it does have a happy ending, but that's just because I waited too long to post the initial concern. Here is fair warning: If you don't know me already, "short and to the point" is not in my vocabulary. But, here is where God has had me lately. It wasn't fun at first, but the Fun Fact is: A fresh new wind is a welcome change. Here goes:

Ok, I was in a rut, a rough spot, a desert, a dry spell. Call it what you will, but it was me. I had been struggling with discontent and an uneasiness for a while. I felt like my quiet times were flat and that my prayers were hitting the ceiling. I knew what I needed to do, but couldn't ever make it happen; or, I knew what I needed to 'not' do and I wasn't willing to make that happen either.

It wasn't just one thing, but an unhappiness with almost everything "me" not my family or my marriage or stuff like that, more my personal personality flaws and my mothering; and I couldn't shake it. And, not only was it unhappiness it was tons and tons of guilt (which just happens to be my middle name). I came "this close" [picture me with my thumb and pointer finger very close together] to doing a post about it to just kind of lay it out there as a prayer request. I even had the title and everything. You wanna hear it? Ok, it was going to be "Just like Paul, only worse" and I was going to include the well known scripture where Paul is wrestling with himself about what he does and does not do (Romans 7:15-16). But, for whatever reason, I didn't. I don't think I was too embarrassed or anything as I'm fairly transparent, but, I think I was too busy--which, when you think of it, isn't that one of Satan's greatest tools.

Anyway, I finally had had enough. I sat down to spend some time with my Saviour. I told him (in true Shana fashion: I wrote them down in a list) all the areas that I hated, the things that I knew I needed to change. I went down the list of and asked him to help me with. each. and. every. single. one. I kept going....I asked for God to help me to recognize when Satan was at work trying to get me to believe his lies about me; some of which, may have even been lies I was telling myself. I asked God to give me a deeper relationship with him. And, I asked that as a result of that deeper relationship, my kids would sense my passion for Christ and want it for themselves.

This was not even 2 weeks ago. Yet, I have felt like I was breathing in, deep in my lungs, a fresh new wind from him. It was noticeable. Palpable. And, there were (and are) areas where I have noticed legitimate improvement, like I was operating under someone Else's (HIS) ability.

And this is my favorite part: There have been a few times, when I've blown it in certain areas. Where I immediately recognized, "yep, that's exactly what you shouldn't do" yet, for the first time, the guilt wasn't there. I quickly said to myself, "No, that's not what you're shooting for, so just aim higher next time." It was like God was saying to me, "I know you're trying Shana, cut yourself some slack." Sometimes, even most of the time, I'm my own worst enemy. But, I think that is slowly starting to change.

It makes me cry just thinking about it. Breathing in the deep grace of Christ. I've known about it all my life, it's just clicking better these days; maybe that's what pit dwelling does for you. This is it, this is what he came for.......for my sin, for me, because he loves me. There truly is no condemnation. It's a fresh new wind to my soul and spirit. It's a fragrant, pleasant, strong wind that I can take in, deep. I'm so thankful for it. Hopefully, it will be a contagious joy. Hopefully, I'll be able to breath it out, and shine for HIM. Maybe, this was my first step.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

A Beautiful, Must Read

I saw this post mentioned on another blog I read a lot. It is a beautiful, beautiful must read. It is such a wonderful illustration, and has had me crying for the last half hour.

To give you a tiny bit of background, it was written by Angie Smith, wife of Todd Smith (of Selah). Very recently, they lost their newborn daughter within hours of her birth. They had been told of the diagnosis and chose to carry her until God took her home. This happened fairly recently, and this post, though it doesn't directly speak of the specifics or even much about it at all, stems from their loss.

Again, you really need to read it. Go here. You. Will. Be. Blessed.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Graduate

Well, it's official. I now have a true, bonafide kindergartner. Mr. B graduated from Pre-K tonight. Tomorrow is his last day of pre-school....and what a last day it will be; they get to bring their bikes tomorrow.

At the "ceremony" I learned a little bit about my little man, and I just have to relay the story. After a lovely performance that included 6 songs and the presentation of diplomas, refreshments were served. Bryce was sitting in the floor with his friends eating his snacks. I had noticed a cute little girl sitting beside him, but didn't think much of it. A few minutes later, her mom came up to us and asked if she could get a picture with her daughter and Bryce. She went on to say that her daughter talks about Bryce all the time, and that every one in their family knew all about him. Even tonight, just before the ceremony she pointed to Bryce and told her family that "this is my boyfriend". Now, I've figured out that Bryce must have split the inherited personality traits from his parents right down the middle. Obviously, he was out going enough (like me)to snag a girlfriend, but just enough like Brad to keep quiet about it. To me, this is absolutely hilarious. Not to mention, a dangerous combination. But, I'm on to him now. Although, he never did confirm that he was her boyfriend. He did relay, when asked about her, that (and I quote) "She said that because I'm handsome." He doesn't lack for confidence, my little guy. Obviously, I didn't miss out on the photo op either. Here they are....

Bryce with his "girlfriend"

We had a great time, and it was so fun to see him up there with his friends. I thought I would share a clip of one of the songs they sang. It was the "kids choice" selection, but the video must be too large to download, because I never could get it to work. The other songs included: God is good to me, Deep & Wide, 5 Little Ducks, The B-I-B-L-E, and Jesus loves me. I did include pictures of Bryce & his teacher, Mrs. Zoe. And, another one, with his buddy, "C".

Bryce with his buddy

Bryce with his teacher, Mrs. Zoe

Friday, May 16, 2008

A Birthday Tribute to Brad

Today is Brad's birthday (he turned 36), and I couldn't let the day go by without a post to honor him. I thought I would just list, in no specific order, the reasons I love him and the things that make him special.

I suppose the first thing that comes to mind is that Brad is one of the most likable persons I've ever met. It is a quality he shares with my daddy, which now that I think about it is probably, in part, what drew me to him. In fact, he share a lot of qualities with my daddy. Anyway, if you can't get along with or do not like Brad (or my daddy) then something is just plain wrong with you. He is the most patient, laid-back, easy going person I know....and he has a great sense of humor, but not in the draw-attention-to-yourself kind of way.

Another thing that comes to mind is that Brad is everything that I'm not. Seriously, we could not be more different. Some might think that could be a hindrance to a marriage, but we like it that way. At the risk of sounding "Jerry Maguire corny" we really do complete each other. He is what I'm not, and I am what he's not. I've already mentioned that Brad is laid back and easy going......well, if you know me at all, you know I'm not. In fact, I'm the most high strung, wound-tight person I know (okay maybe except for my dear friend Cyndi, but I'm a close second- aren't I Cyndi?). Also, if you know me at all (even if it's just from reading my posts or comments) you know I'm long winded. Brad......not so much. It is a conservative estimate to say that I out talk him 20 words to 1.

Brad is a family man. And as far as I'm concerned there is nothing more attractive or appealing than to see a man who loves his family (be it wife & kids, or parents & siblings, or both) and while I'm at it, there is nothing more unattractive and unappealing to see a man (no matter how gorgeous) that doesn't love his family....and they are out there. If you'll humor me with a small side note: [I am privileged to have a few (very few) middle school/high school readers (my nieces, girls from church) and to you girls I say, don't spend tons of time with a guy who doesn't love his family, no matter what the reason.] Brad is a great husband and a wonderful father who is wholly devoted to his family (all of, the kids, his parents and sister and my family as well) When the "going gets tough" Brad hangs right in there with you. The same thing could/would be said about him by his friends (although don't expect him to call you on the phone.....'cause it ain't gonna happen).

Another quality he shares with my daddy is that of being a protector. I've always felt safe with my daddy, and once I started getting old enough to think about marriage, I knew I wanted someone that would make me feel safe (I actually had a list).......y'all all know that I'm a worry-wort to the nth degree, so I knew that feeling safe was a 'must have'. I've always felt safe with Brad in every circumstance. He has directional sense like nobody else I know, and for someone who can get lost in a paper bag, that's a good thing. He can fix stuff, just like my daddy....and if something stumps him, he's not too proud to ask daddy for help. And, darn it, I love that too. He doesn't have an ounce of pride in his whole body. Along the sames lines, he doesn't feel the need to share his opinions with anyone else. Unlike me, who shares everything that I know and love with everybody; Brad won't give you an opinion unless you ask for it, and even then, you'll have to press him for the particulars. And, it's not that he doesn't have an opinion, because as I've found out many times, he really does, he's just too humble to feel the need to share it with anybody. This is especially true about his faith. His faith is very important to him, but is not something he 'flaunts', it is personal and sacred. Again, this is a quality my daddy has too.

I love that Brad loves the outdoors. I love that he's an Eagle Scout and can build a fire, and tie knots, and cook on open fires in dutch ovens, and hike, and camp. I love that he shares his love of the outdoors with his children, and encourages their love for the outdoors too.

I could go on and on (have I mentioned that I'm long winded) 'cause I still have several things in mind that I haven't written yet, but I won't. He already knows what they are and that's all that matters.

But, I do want to wish you a very wonderful and happy birthday! I love you....and thanks for being you, and for loving me!!

I thought it might be fitting to include some pictures of Brad, doing what he loves with the people that he loves.....enjoy!

Fun Fact Friday: Princesses & Power Rangers

Hey folks~

We are home and we are WORN OUT! Disney is a great and wonderful experience, and going with young kids does make for a very magical time; but just so you are fully informed, it is also exhausting. We walked our fool selves all over those parks, up and down, from one end to the other in search of pirates, princesses, power rangers, or whoever. We are weary, but you know what? I'd do it again. Luckily, I won't have to for another 7 years or so........but, I would do it again, and I will do it again, as soon as Malley gets old enough. By that time, Bryce and Sara Kate will have long since lost interest in pirates and princesses and they'll be off to do Splash Mountain and the RockinRollercoaster and the water parks with their daddy, and I'll get the pleasure of hunting down princesses one more time with my Malley-girl. I look forward to it already, but I'm also relieved that I have a few more years before it's time. So, the Fact Is: Disney is a blast. It is a truly magical place for the kids, and it's worth every exhausting minute. Enjoy our shots of the princesses & power rangers. Hopefully, more posts and pictures(without princesses & power rangers) will follow.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Flamingos and Tigers and Bats, oh my....

....not to mention lots of other animals too. They don't call it the Animal Kingdom for nothin'.

First thing this morning (and I do mean FIRST thing) at 6:3o, we headed over to eat at Chef Mickey's. We originally couldn't get reservations, but on a whim on the way down here, I called and they had an 7:10. Oh well, at least we got our day started bright & early. Bryce & KatieBelle met Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, and Goofy. And they got ice cream for dessert AT BREAKFAST.......whose ever heard of that?

Then, we got to the Animal Kingdom just before it opened, and we walked on to Kilmanjaro Safari, which was a fabulous little 'expedition' where we got to see lots of elephants. Then Bryce & Brad rode the Kali river rapids, and Bryce liked it so much he made me go through with him again. So, everyone but KatieBelle got soaked, and even she played in the fountains. We also watched some shows, and saw a lot of animals, and even a walking vine.

We are taking some MUCH NEEDED rest time right now. Sara Kate has been asleep (but she is awake now) and the 2 B's are conked out on the other bed. Tonight we are dining with the princesses at Epcot, and then we're off to the Magic Kingdom again to do some of the stuff that we missed the first night. It is open until midnight tonight, so we'll see how far we can make it. Tomorrow, we are heading over to Hollywood Studios. I'll try to post again, but as I said the first time, I'm not sure Brad will spring for it. Enjoy the day in pictures........

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Prayers are answered......and dreams do come true

Hello from Disney World everybody!!

First of all, let me thank all of my friends and family for praying for Mr. Bryce who had come down with an untimely fever the night before we were to leave. Our prayers were answered and God is so good and faithful. I had taken him to the doctor on Thursday (the day we left) and after a negative strep test, she said it was just a virus and it would probably pass soon. Thankfully, she was right. I did have to give him more medicine Thursday night, but we had just driven part of the way and stayed with my sister in Macon.

Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you to y'all and thank you to God for honoring our request. The kids were totally surprised (we had kept the whole thing a secret) and never having been here before, they didn't even know what to expect when they saw where we were. That was really fun! Seeing all the excitement unfold like that bit by bit was great. Not to mention, this was a 'first' for Brad & myself as well, so we were pleasantly surprised too.

Let's see. The first night, we went to the Magic Kingdom and had purchased tickets to the exclusive pirates & princess party. The park closes to the public, and the only people left are the party-goers, which means you don't have the heat AND the crowds to deal with. It was perfect and super, super worth it. The kids dressed up as a pirate and a princess, and they both got their picture made with either Jack Sparrow (Bryce) or the princesses (Sara Kate). It truly was magical....especially at the end, because there was a great fireworks show. Again, if you go, I highly, highly recommend it.

Today, we went swimming at the resort pool for a while. Bryce & Sara Kate both got to go on their first water slide. Bryce LOVED it, Sara Kate...not so much. But, I have cute pictures to show for it, and I'm sure Sara Kate will come around eventually. This afternoon, we went to Epcot. We had a great time checking everything out and taking it all in.

Tomorrow we are going to have two character meals (where you get to meet characters in person) and we are going to the Animal Kingdom. I'll try to post tomorrow too, but we're paying for WIFI here, and you know how Brad is. WIFI is free in the lobby, but the lobby is a small trek from our room, and I don't think Brad will spring for another 24 hours......maybe, we'll see.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Hey Goodlookin'..........

What'cha got cookin'? I really do want to know. What's for supper? I'll tell you, if you tell me.

I had another one of those moments the other day at lunch, when I thought to myself, this is just yummy-delicious, and if the great people of the bloggy world aren't eating this because they don't know about it, then, that my friend, would be a cryin' shame. So, I'm sharing the love.

Yet again, this is/was not my idea or original recipe. I got this recipe from Jeanne and Eva at Hairnight. "What's hairnight?" you say? Well, I'll have to save that for another post. But, the short version is that it's a night (once a month, or so) that lots of women from our church get together at Miss Jeanne's house,. We eat a lot and laugh even more, and a few of us (but not me) get our hair cut and/or colored by none other than the Pastor's wife herself and a few other brave recruits (Elaine). It's a ton of fun, all rolled into a lot of love and laughter. Anyway, this recipe is brought to you by Hairnight.

It is a scrumptious little salad, and it's SO easy. Plus, it's filling too. Here's what you do:

First, you get a packaged salad of 'spring mix' or 'baby lettuces' (I choose the organic salad that is packaged in a plastic box rather than the seems the box that has a lid keeps it fresher, longer.)

Next, you get the ready to eat grilled chicken strips. I've gotten to where I don't enjoy the Tyson very much (they get grainy or that a word?). But, Tammy told me she uses the Purdue short-cuts brand from Kroger. And, I agree, I like it better.

The rest of the ingredients are feta cheese, strawberries, and pecans. To me, the part that makes this salad so very yummy is the dressing. And, lo and behold, it is store bought too. BONUS! It is Ken's Lite Raspberry Walnut Vinaigrette.

Every time I eat this salad, I enjoy it. Especially in the spring and summer, I usually try to keep the ingredients on hand, because it makes a great lunch that is fairly healthy. And, here's a little secret. I don't enjoy nuts, so I don't add them to mine.

And because I think every post is better with a picture or 10, I'll include a couple of my salad. Which, by the way, I know is over the top ridiculous, but that's pretty much how I roll.

But, Ooooh, don't it look pretty? And pretty tasty too?

And now for the shameless request for more ideas. I was serious at the top of the post when I wanted to know what you were cooking. Very serious. Give me your ideas. What's your favorite, easy, go-to meal?? You can leave a comment OR (and oh, I love this idea....) you could do your own post about it. Have I mentioned, that I'm over the top ridiculous? I'll be checking all the comments and the blogs. If you end up doing a post about it on your own blog, be sure to leave a comment, so we can check them out. Don't let me down girls. Mom, that means you too!!! pressure!!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Fun Fact Friday: it's fun just to let them win

I've been told many times regarding parenting, that you should 'pick your battles'. And, over the years I'd say that I have to agree. Sometimes, it's just not worth it. Does it really matter that your daughter shows up to your son's T-Ball practice with her daddy and she's wearing a dress AND pants with some Minnie Mouse sandals that don't match and are too big...........apparently not, because that is a battle that Brad chose not to engage in. Obviously, sometimes you get some funny stuff when you 'let them win'; which, by the way, is what I call it when I choose not to engage in battle. I could pull the "because I'm the mommy" card, but sometimes, I choose not too - when that happens, I'm LETTING them win.

That was the case today. I'm totally letting them win. They have morphed into chefs at a fabulous restaurant, and they are cooking something GREAT. Never mind that they completely stole the strawberries that I was slicing off of the counter. And the grapes? Yep, they're gone too. But it has been hilarious to hear them. I'm over here at the computer pretending to be engrossed in something, and I'm laughing on the inside. Bryce just said, "Sara Kate, why did you pour water in've ruined the recipe." And, they just scolded Gigi (our dog) for swiping some of their masterpiece....... I guess they're learning that you shouldn't cook in the floor. They have several of my pots and pans out, and lots and lots of cooking utensils, and my kitchen now looks like a disaster area. But, they are having a blast. They are getting along and cooking all kinds of things (luckily, they haven't thought to ask me to taste it). Their little imaginations are running wild.

So, the fact is: sometimes it's fun just to let them win. Sometimes the mess is worth it. Enjoy a few shots from The Farmer Culinary Institute.

Here they are cleaning up their mess, like all good chefs do, right? Let's not tell..........

Have a good weekend everybody!!