Monday, January 26, 2015

encouragement for the week….

i love worship music and i love finding music that encourages me and speaks to me. i thought i'd start sharing some songs that have been filling me up lately. enjoy and be encouraged! :)  

oh, i've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But i've heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased and that i'm never alone. 

You're a good, good Father
it's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are
and i'm loved by You.
it's who i am, it's who i am, it's who i am

i've seen many searching for answers far and wide
but i know we're all searching for answers only You provide
because you know just what we need, before we say a word

You're a good, good Father.
it's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are.
and i'm loved by You.
it's who i am, it's who i am, it's who i am. 

You are perfect in all of your ways.
You are perfect in all of your ways. 
You are perfect in all of your ways, to us. 

love so undeniable i can hardly speak.
peace so unexplainable i can hardly think
as you call me deeper still
as you call me deeper still 
as you call me deeper still 
into love love love.

You're a good, good Father.
it's who You are, it's who You are, it's who You are.
and i'm loved by You.
it's who i am, it's who i am, it's who i am. 

lyrics from:
"Good, Good Father"
Housefires II
listen here: http://youtu.be/x0gwz_IDY7w
or watch:




Thursday, January 22, 2015

confessions from the mom of a new reader...

libbi has been recognizing letters and blending together sounds for a while now, but within the last several months, everything has "clicked" for her and her reading skills have really taken off. she's done amazingly well and has become quite the fluent reader. while i couldn't be prouder of her, there are a few *minor* drawbacks to being the parent of an independent reader. i've come to realize that before she was reading on her own, there were a few things i took for granted. 
things like:

private text messages….
i used to be able to text anything and everything to whomever i pleased. and before you think any differently, let me assure you that my texting repertoire consists mostly of texts to jeffrey about things the girls have said/done throughout the day, texts to my mom about a whole lot of nothing, a plethora of emojis, and texts to random friends about random things (i.e justin timberlake and jessica biel's baby, eyebrow raising fb statuses we all wished we'd never read, real housewives gossip, and the list goes on and on.) now that libbi can read, she thinks it is her personal mission to read my text messages. she loves to stand over my shoulder and read (aloud!) as i'm typing out a text. or if i'm out of the room and someone texts me, she'll gladly (voluntarily) read it for me. and then proceed to holler out the message to me…because actually bringing me my phone or letting me know i have text would be too easy. ;-)

secret messages….
at one point, jeffrey and i could have a conversation while sprinkling in the spellings of a few words that we didn't want little ears to hear. like, "i think it's going to be an early B-E-D-T-I-M-E tonight" " but those days are long gone. now that libbi can read, she can also spell. and even (especially) when we think she's not listening, she definitely is. i can see her little mind working as she repeats the letters to herself and sounds out the word. a few seconds later will come the response, "I don't want to go to bed early tonight!!" 
(obviously laney's book was a real "page turner" and liza is just trying to figure out if this is, in fact, her nose) haha!

gameshows….
we thought a friendly game of family feud might be a good idea one night, but even game shows aren't safe. libbi was kind of halfway paying attention as we called out answers and played along. jeffrey would pause the tv at times and reword the question for her and let her guess before they put the answers on the board. she left the room to go play with laney and we all kind of forgot about the game show.  when she came back in a few minutes later, she innocently asked, "what's booze?" and i shockingly said, "what??? booze?! where did you hear that?" as she pointed at the tv to the number two most popular answer which was, yep - you guessed it,  "booze."  oops. 

personal belongings….
i usually do my quiet time and bible study either in the morning or during nap time. often times i would leave my bible study book and prayer journal out near the couch, especially if i know i'm going to be coming back to it shortly. that is, until i saw libbi perusing my journal one day. and not that i mind her knowing my prayers or what i'm studying, but there's just something a little too revealing about having your personal prayer life and heartfelt revelations read aloud by a five year old. ha! especially when said five year old wants to ask you about each and every little thing she reads. and why her name is mentioned so many times… ;-)

billboards….
there's a certain "adult" store that we pass on the highway pretty much every day. for the longest time, libbi was convinced that it was a "jumpy place" (aka a place full of bounce houses where she'd like to have her birthday party… um, no) we kind of just let her run with that idea, because i certainly wasn't going to define the word "novelty" and explain that the kinds of toys they had were not party favors for a five year olds birthday. anyway, now that libbi can read, well…. let's just say she no longer thinks it's a "jumpy place." there's really no way to describe what it's like hearing your child sound out the words, "adult ent*ertainm*ent" from the backseat of the car. that's a conversation i wasn't prepared for - ha! 

so while i am unbelievably proud of my little reader, there are also many moments that leave me speechless. ha! i'm pretty sure this picture describes my feelings to a tee:


now let's all go out and read a good book - or a scandalous billboard ;-)


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

sustained...

as the new year begins, i can't help but look back on the past 12 months and all that they held for me and my little family. i find myself creating mental lists of my "highs and lows" from 2014. little snapshots that stand out - good and bad, joyful or sad - 2014 was full of moments in time that marked my life and the lives of my family. when i look at the big picture, i'm so thankful that my highlights definitely outweigh any low points from 2014. that's not to say that the past year wasn't a difficult one. for various reasons, 2014 was a hard year. emotionally, physically, mentally - there were struggles and heartaches. lessons learned and memories made. it was a good year, but it was a hard year.

there are times when i want to look back over 2014 and say, "thank God, i survived!" and Lord knows that some days, it was just about survival. if we could make it to bedtime and everyone was fed, bathed, and most importantly, breathing- then it was a successful day. there were times when simply having all three kids accounted for was my shining accomplishment of the day - ha! ;)

but if i take an honest look at those moments, every moment, really -  i know that i didn't just survive, i was sustained. by the grace of God, He sustained me through every high and every low.

i was sustained.


He carried me through each high point and He lifted me through every low one. if i had to choose one word to describe the past year, i would choose "sustained".

by definition, to sustain is "to strengthen or support physically or mentally." and to that i can say, "amen, amen, and amen!" and the truth of that definition is also why i can think of no better way to describe my 2014 than "sustained by the Lord." i've never been more aware of the fact that when i am weak, He is strong. throughout the darkest times of the past year i literally felt strengthened and supported by The Lord. in the past, i've always been a bit confused by the verse that says, "His strength is made perfect in my weakness." (2 corinthians 12:9) because i would get that He's strong. I would get that He can do all things. but it was the "my weakness" that gave me pause. because who likes to admit their weaknesses? not me. definitely not me. 

so i would find myself covering up those weaknesses and trying to appear strong even when i wasn't. and looking back, i can see that when i refused to admit my weaknesses, i failed to let Him display His strength. 

it's like when laney fights with her legos (ha! Stick with me here, there is a point) and she gets so bent out of shape. she's screaming and crying and falling out on the floor because those little pieces of plastic just won't cooperate. after carrying on in this manner for a while, she finally stops operation freakout long enough to take a breath and she realizes that it doesn't matter how badly she wants to make her "castle" on her own, or how hard she tries to make those pieces stick, it's just not happening. so she finally gives in and does what we have constantly been telling her, "ask for help." 

it's not easy to ask for help, and it's often not our first choice (at least it's not for me) but it's not so much the "asking" as it is the "admitting." when laney finally admits to herself and to us that she needs help to complete her task, then and only then is she able to build the castle that she's imagined. sometimes it's because we're physically helping her put the pieces together and other times, we're just offering encouragement and advice from the sidelines. 

much like my own life- when i finally admit that i need help, and not just any help, HIS help, it's then that i can let go of the pressures of doing it all on my own, and allow Him to work through me. and every single time, He is able to do so much more than i could have ever imagined. every. single. time. 
if i'm trying to build little lego houses on my own, He can take those and turn them into ice castles. :)

libbi has an easy reader bible and i love to compare my bible's translation to hers, because sometimes the easy reader version is just so simple and to the point. they don't call it the "easy reader" for nothing! i love how the easy reader translation translates isaiah 40:29, "He helps tired people be strong. He gives power to those without it." 

because, oh my word…. "tired people"… those are my people. i AM "tired people!"…. physically tired from lack of sleep, mentally tired from going around and around around with a three year old, emotionally tired from caring for the every need of three other human beings, and the list goes on and on. 
mind, body and soul - i've felt tired. but praise The Lord, He can take my tired self and give me strength. strength to function on just a few hours of rest. strength to keep my patience when i'm negotiating with a three-nager, strength to love, cherish, protect, and care for those around me. and all i have to do is ask. and just like when we help laney with her lego towers, He steps in to help me. sometimes it's by physically forging a path for me, and other times it's by encouraging me and speaking to my heart in ways that only He can. 

when i admit that i am tired, weak, and unable to do "life" on my own, then He can display His power. if i could do everything on my own, what would i need Christ for? but i do need Him. just like the old hymn says, "i need thee, oh, i need thee. every hour i need thee…." 

this past year has shown me with absolute certainty that He is all i need. His grace is more than enough for me. when i am weak, He is strong. it's okay for me to ask for help, to admit i can't do things on my own, to struggle, to cry (thank goodness, because i do cry a lot - ha!), to feel overwhelmed, or to just feel flat out tired. it's not by chance that i make it through each day or that i can feel joy in the midst of sorrow. it's no accident that my needs are provided for and my soul can find rest. it's by the grace of God that i am sustained. 

 "Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me."
Psalm 54:4

"But the Lord said, “My grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by my power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s power can stay in me." 2 Corinthians 12:9

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 year in review...

i can't believe this is the last day of 2014! what a year it's been!! you know i can't do a year in review post without getting all weepy and emotional, but i'll save that for tomorrow - ha! :) for now i thought i'd do a recap of some of our monthly highlights…..

in january, we saw frozen for the first time. little did we know it wouldn't be the last…. 
we spent lots of lazy days at home, had the snowpocalypse that shut down the city, and papa joe came to visit from texas! 



in february the big girls went on a date with daddy. we celebrated valentine's day, had another snow day and had fun building snowmen and sledding with the neighbors.



in march, we visited lego land and went to athens to see a gym dogs meet. 
on the downside, the stomach bug hit the tippins house, but the girls recovered just in time  to participate in their school's fun run. libbi and i went with my mom to the ballet to see cinderella. we capped off the month by celebrating jeffrey's birthday.





in april, we celebrated easter early at mawmaw's house with a big egg hunt and then we spent the actual easter holiday at one of our favorite places: fripp island (or frog beach as the girls like to call it). we enjoyed spring break, the masters, and time at home together. unfortunately during that time, liza spent two days in the hospital with a horrible stomach virus but she handled it like a champ! 





in may, laney celebrated her "pretend" birthday at school, and as a parting gift, decided to share fifths disease with her classmates. oops. thankfully when her actual birthday rolled around, she was no longer contagious and was able to celebrate with a gymnastics party. libbi caught fifths disease shortly after, but recovered in time for her first ballet recital! libbi and laney had their spring art show, we celebrated the end of the school year with libbi's graduation and laney's class party. we began the unofficial start of summer with a trip to the lake. 








in june we celebrated buddy's birthday and blakeley's birthday! libbi went to VBS (or ABCD as laney called it). laney officially potty trained (woohoo!) and we celebrated father's day, my birthday, and libbi's fifth birthday all within days of each other. libbi got her ears pierced (!) and she had her fifth birthday party at "sweet and sassy" - we all had the best time. 








in july, the big girls spent the first few days at "campalicious" at buddy and mimzy's house. and they have the tshirts to prove it. ;-)  i was the matron of honor in one of my oldest and dearest friend's wedding.  libbi and i went with buddy and mimzy to see "the little mermaid" at the fox.  liza turned ONE (sob!) and we celebrated with a "one-derful" parade of a party.  



in august, libbi and i attended a blessings lunch as we prepared for her first day of school. libbi had her first day of kindergarten and her second day of kindergarten….then missed the next six days because she was so sick with strep throat and a stomach virus. football season started and to commemorate georgia's first game, libbi fell and busted her head open and jeffrey had to take her to the ER. libbi had a community helper parade at school (she dressed up as a teacher), laney had "meet the teacher" day at school and libbi shared her nasty case of strep with laney. libbi also had her first soccer practice! 








in september, libbi had school pictures, her first soccer game, and her first pep rally. we went to the homecoming parade and tailgate for her school. liza visited the eye doctor to schedule her surgery. laney had her first day of school. and then missed her next few days when she had her ear tubes removed. we spent many a saturday wishing our dogs would pull out a win.







in october, liza officially started walking… which meant she also had bruises, scratches, and scrapes a plenty. ;) liza had her tear duct surgery, and the three girls passed around many colds and viruses, including hand foot and mouth. the big girls had dentist appointments over "fall break" and libbi and laney went to see frozen on ice. we participated in the "alzheimer's walk to remember" in memory of grandad for the third year in a row.  jeffrey and i celebrated seven years of marriage. laney had her costume parade at school and a few days later the girls enjoyed dressing up again for halloween and trick or treating around our neighborhood. we were thrilled to have liza cleared from the cardiologist! she had her follow-up appointment and the hole in her heart had closed and the murmur was completely gone. praise! 



in november, we all got flu shots and lived to tell about it. ;) jeffrey travelled a lot this month, so we had many "girl parties" as libbi calls them- ha! we celebrated thanksgiving and libbi and laney both had the entire week off from school. the girls passed around another virus (oh joy)… and we enjoyed going to stone mountain with buddy and mimzy, and uncle jj, aunt mandie, blakeley, and mattie. 






in december, we were busier than ever! the girls spent the night at mimzy and buddy's (including liza for the first time….ever!). while they were gone, jeffrey and i decorated for christmas. i got talked into an inflatable santa in our front yard. needless to say, it was a hit - ha! we made our annual trip to ride the pink pig and visit santa. i went to class parties for libbi and laney. we all went to laney's christmas program. we enjoyed many christmas celebrations with family, the christmas eve service at church, and christmas morning at home with our family. 





2014 was full of many new experiences for our family and many "firsts" for our girls. it's been fun to look back and see how much we've grown throughout the year. thank you for sticking with us and for loving our little family. i'm looking forward to seeing how God moves in our family and in each of our lives this coming year. Here's to 2015….
Happy New Year, friends!