Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Advice From A Six Year Old

Okay, so I am on a blog roll, but I just had to share this because I am still laughing about it. Tonight, I was putting my 6 year old, Emma to bed and I ask her if she wants to hear the story of the day she was born. She says, "yes" so I proceed to recall everything I can and tell her all about that amazing day.

After I tell her the whole story, she says "Mommy, do you want to have another baby?"

I say, "maybe someday."

Then she says, "You can get something that prevents pregnancy for 5 years and then if you want to have another baby, it is easily removed."

I recognize this little spiel from a commercial that comes on T.V. a lot and I immediately bust out laughing at her. She has no idea why but she starts to laugh too.

Then she says "Mirena, isn't it?"

"Yes," I said.

She didn't ask me any more about it...phew! I think my eyes are still watering from laughing at her. Oh my goodness, I never thought I would get birth control advice from my 6 year old.

Halloween Costume Preview

I think that our church is having a "Trunk-or-Treat" for Halloween. It is my understanding that this is a tradition and that the youth always dress up as Bible characters, but since this is our first Halloween at this church, I am learning as we go.

Emma has informed me that she wants to be Ashoka (I think that's how you spell it) for Halloween. Ashoka is a character in the new children's Star Wars movie called Clone Wars. I think she kind of looks like an Egyptian lady with the headpiece that she wears. Unfortunately, I have only seen this costume online and it's has a kind of high price.

Leah is not really sure what she wants to be since she's a little too young to remmeber how this thing goes. I am sure she will be more than happy wearing one of her big sisters princess dress-up gowns since she's kind of getting into that stuff now too. She loves to put her sisters dreses on and twirl and say, "Look, I'm a princess!"

Jackson had told me that he wanted to be a pirate but I think he has changed his mind. I just couldn't resist sharing these cute pictures. Jana (Josh's mom) is keeping Jackson this week for a couple of days. They took a trip to Toys-R-Us where Jackson fell in love with this Sheriff Woody (from Toy Story) costume. I havn't seen him in it in person yet but Jana just emailed these pictures and I love them! She says that he has been wearing the costume around everywhere, even out to the grocery store. He's been saying "Howdy Ma'am" to everyone while lifting his hat off his head. Too cute!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Music Lessons

I caught these cute pictures Friday evening. Josh was playing around on his guitar. He started to play some kid songs for Jackson and Leah. I think they were singing, "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star." Jackson ran to the other room and grabbed a tennis racket so he could play along. Maybe they should start a band. :)

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Getting Better

So, I just completed cake number two. It turned out MUCH better than the first. Maybe I'll get the hang of this after all. I was tempted to write "Happy Fall Y'all" on the cake. I thought better of it when I envisioned my cake on the Cake Wrecks blog. I am also super excited that I got my first cake order...okay, so it's from my mother-in-law and she probably just feels sorry for me but I am still excited (Thanks Jana!) So here it is...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Not Me Monday

This is my first pariticipation in a blog carnival. It's called "Not Me Monday." If you would like, you can go over to MckMama's Blog to see what it's all about.

Okay, here goes. Last Wednesday I did not wake up so tired that I poured sweet tea into Leah's cheerios instead of milk. And When I discovered that there was only enough milk left in the refrigerator to make Macaroni and Cheese at lunch time, I did not tell her that she was just going to have to eat her cheerios with sweet tea anyway. And I was not at all glad that she is only two and didn't think that eating cheerios with sweet tea was absurd. I would never do that. Huh-uh...Not Me.

And...I absolutely was not sitting at the computer blogging when my 3 year old, Jackson slipped out the front door the other day. I did not ignore the sound of the front door opening because I thought it was Emma going outside and that Jackson was still down for his nap. And the neighbor did not tell us that he had to get Jackson down from a very tall pine tree that he had climbed 3/4 of the way up while I was unaware that he had been outside at all. That certainly did not happen. What kind of mother would I be? That would just be pathetic.

And...I so did not nominate my own blog in the Divine Caroline blog contest just to see what would happen. I would never do that. I do have a life, ya know.

Oh that felt great! Nothing like a little honesty to get things off your chest.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Welcome Home Holdyn

This evening we drove to the Tri-Cities Airport to welcome home a new addition to our church family. Friends of ours, Chuck and Sunshine, just spent the last couple weeks in China going through the adoption process before bringing home their little boy, Holdyn. He is adorable with such a lovable little personality. He was not at all overwhelmed by the paparazzi that greeted him at the airport. We are so happy for Chuck and Sunshine. Congratulations and welcome home Holdyn!

Friends and Family greet them at the terminal.

Holdyn with Mommy

Holdyn with Daddy

Meeting Grandma

Greeted with a HUGE Lollipop

Walking with Grandma...look at that smile....and all the red lollipop stickiness on his face and shirt :)

We can't wait to get to know this little guy. What an awesome experience!

Girls Night Out

Yesterday, after the kids were down for a nap, I sat down to receive a reflexology massage from our beloved Amanda (friend from church). What a great thing to have a friend who is schooled in massage therapy! Actually, this massage has been coming to me since Mother's Day of this year when Josh told me that he would pay for me to get a massage from Amanda. Four months later, I was finally able to set aside some time to make it happen. It you know anything about reflexology, it is based on the idea that reflex points in your feet and hands have an affect on other parts of the body. I told her to spend a lot of time on the reflex point that connects to my brain (which is much needed). That reflex point just so happens to be the big toe. It was a very relaxing massage. I was so relaxed that I had a great night's sleep last night. I should have people rub my feet more often!

Also, last night, a friend of mine, Shannon, and I got a sweet reprieve from the daily grind of life with 3 kids. We went to, what I hear, is the best mexican restaurant in Greeneville, Chihuahuas. Then we were off to Cafe Mojos only to discover that it closed at 3pm....really?...3pm? Plan B was to go to some chocolate shop but it too would be closing before we could arrive. We called a friend of ours, Julie, to see if she could meet up with us now that she was done running kids to Soccer practice. She suggested dessert at Italian Market so that is what we did. We ran into some other moms from MOPS, who were doing the same thing, before being seated. We each ordered a different decadent dessert so we could have a sampler. It's amazing how chocolate and an adult conversation can do a world of good for a mom.

Thanks be to Josh and Ken, our wonderful husbands, who watched a total of 6 kids ranging in ages from 11 months to 6 years within the walls of one household. If by chance Kevin (Julie's Husband) reads this, Josh told me to tell you that you got off the hook too easy.

Even though there was an incident with a Black Widow spider and some other things that the dads still won't share about their evening, there were no trips to the ER and all kids are alive and well. Maybe we will be able to do this again!

Here's a picture of Shannon and I. If I had been thinking I would have gotten a picture of Julie with us too but I left my camera at the house. Next time.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A Quick Funny Story

A quick funny story for you...

Jackson had a bit of an upset tummy today so he had a couple of accidents. Late in the day we decided to keep pull-ups on him to avoid any more messes. Just before bed, he had another accident. I was giving the same talk that I do every time that he has an accident. I said to him, "if you come and tell me when you feel like you have to go number 2, then we can hurry to the potty so there won't be such a mess"...."that way your bottom won't be so yucky"....He looked at me unbeleiving and said, "Seriously?"

It was all I could do to keep from busting out laughing at him. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Purple & Polka Dots for Emma

I finally finished Emma's room. I have been working on it for a week now here and there. Our Sunday School class gave us a Lowe's gift card last week (thanks so much guys!) so, I went there to get the paint and other things I needed to get it done. Emma is thrilled! She can't wait to have some of her friends come to sleepover in her pretty room!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Introducing "Cakes by Courtney"

Update: I just found this blog called Cake Wrecks. It is hilarious. It showcases some disasters in the cake business. Maybe my first cake would be one for her blog...lol.

Haha, Well don't expect much yet. I had this wonderful idea that I was going to learn how to make cakes. I have been trying to think of something that I can do from home to bring in some extra income. I'm not that great of a cook but I do like to decorate things. So I attempted my first cake with fondant icing.

The cake itself was actually courtesy of Betty Crocker. I think maybe I will try that from scratch next time. I did make the icing from scratch though. It turned out well. I had heard that fondant is pretty but doesn't taste very good. I found this recipe online and it is delicious.

The icing was a little harder to work with than I thought. I couldn't find any cornstarch in my cabinets so it kept sticking to my rolling pin. It tore pretty easy when I layed it over my cake. There is another fondant recipe I found that claims to be better about not tearing so I think I'll try that next time. I knew that if there were any blemishes in my cake that I could just cover it with decorations. Let's just say there were a lot of decorations.

It won't win any baking or cake decorating contests but it is a start, especially since I didn't have any of the necessary tools like icing smoothers and such. I have a mental wishlist right now. I have a lot to learn so I'm thinking about taking a few classes. I definitely don't think anyone would pay for this cake but I am determined to get better at this. If you have any pointers for me, let me know. Otherwise, look for me at a wedding cake table near you soon....or maybe not so soon. :)

For now, I have to find someone to give this cake to so I don't gain 400 pounds. :)

If your wondering why I did the big round circles, I kinda needed those to cover up some of the big oopsies. My original plan was just to do the green hearts (green was the only color food coloring I had in my cabinets). I think it would have been much prettier if it were just the hearts and not the circles. Oh, well, next time.

Some people use fondant to create little sculptures to top their cakes. I used my leftovers to try to make a puppy. It could use some tweaking and definitely needs some paint but would be cute on a little boy's birthday cake.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning?

UPDATE: It seems that I had a few minor errors in my recollection of my dad and his day. If you would like to read his account of that day go to Father and Son Workshop.

I've heard people that lived through Kennedy's Assasination and Pearl Harbor say that they will always remember where they were and what they were doing that day. While I wasn't born yet when these things happened, I will always remember September 11, 2001.

I remember that I woke up that morning feeling like nothing in the world could harm me or the ones that I loved. That idealistic view would take a drastic turn shortly after I arrived to work that day. I was working at Knoxville Pediatric Associates. We had started a busy day since the children had gone back to school and sickness was on the rise again. Around 9am Dr. Roberts, who was off that day, called the office to tell us to turn on the radios and T.V. because a plane had just crashed into one of the World Trade Center Towers. As more attacks happened, I remember the building fear within me. We just didn't know what was going to happen next. How much more was to come? Would there be an attack in our city? As I checked patients in and we spoke of what was happening with sadness on our hearts, I also remember the rumors that were going around. There was talk of other attacks that I would later find out did not happen. Someone said that people thought that the nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, not far from where we lived might also be a target. At the time, the rumors and speculation added to the fear.

When I found out that most of the planes used in the attacks had flown out of Boston, I was panicked because my father had been working out of Boston a lot during that time. I knew that he was traveling that day. After I called my mother, I found out that he was actually flying out of Chicago. This made me feel a little better but I knew that he was still in the air and was still very concerned. A little while later, my mom heard from my dad whose plane had been grounded. He was going to rent a car and drive home to Nashville.

I went home that evening and watched the families of those who had been lost being interviewed on T.V. I cried right along with them. My heart broke for those who were still looking for their loved ones, desperately showing pictures of those they could not find to anyone who would listen.

Although, it was probably one of the saddest days I have ever known, incredible good came out of it. I have never seen such unity in our country as I saw post 9-11. I remember the courage of the people who attempted to change the fate of the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania. I remember the pride I felt for the Firemen who risked so much to save the people, some at the ultimate price. There were so many that went out of their way to help neighbors who were hurting. We also had a special candlelight prayer service. It was solemn but special...special because even though the world seemed to be crashing down around us with the towers, we could still hold onto Jesus.

Our own good came out of 9-11 nine months later. After trying for over a year, we became pregnant with our first child. Emma made her arrival into our lives on June 6, 2002. (Go ahead, do the math) Hey, What can I say?! When you're not really sure if you're gonna live to see tomarrow there are just some things you want to do before you die. :) I was married....marital privelages. :) Although, the experts say there was no 9-11 baby boom, we had a baby boom of our own.

September 11th caused us to look at our lives and see what was really important. It made us want to be nearer to those we love. It gave us "joys in proportion to our sorrows," to steal a quote from another blog I read recently...

"The Man of Sorrows is the fountain of all joy to others, and is the possessor of all the joys of heaven and earth, by virtue of his triumphs. He has experienced joys in proportion to his sorrows; as He once waded through deep waters of grief He has now climbed to the highest mountains of happiness. For the joy that was set before him he endured the cross despising the shame, and now having sat down at his Father's right hand he enjoys pleasures for evermore." -- Charles Spurgeon, in his message "The Gladness of the Man of Sorrows", delivered on Sunday morning March 8, 1863, at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London

So, that's my September 11th story. What's yours? In the words of Alan Jackson, "Where were you when the world stopped turning?" Leave me a comment and let me know.

I hope that you can all find a moment to remember what happened seven years ago today. Remember all the people who lost their lives. Say a prayer for the families. This is no doubt an especially hard day for them.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Will You Still Love Me?

It was December of 1998. Josh had just proposed. We were planning on getting married the following October. Sean Currier, the Youth Pastor at Knoxville First Church of God asked us if we would be interested in working with youth. And so it began.

A Couple of months later we packed up to go to the State Youth Convention in Gatlinburg, TN as youth counselors. Of course Josh had been on many youth convention trips as a youth himself, but this was my first experience. I was still pretty new to the Christian world at the time, so I felt a little out of place being "in charge" of these Christian teenagers.

I remember coming back one night after the evening service. When I got to my hotel room, I reached into my pocket for my room key but soon discovered it wasn't there. I suddenly remembered that I had left it in the room on the dresser. Before I could even think about it, a four letter word came out of my mouth that started with S and ended with T. The second I realized what I said, one of the youth girls who was standing next to me started giggling. She then went running off to the room next door where some of our youth had gathered along with the Youth Pastor. She announced to all that Courtney had just cussed. What a great counselor I had turned out to be. I was totally mortified. Sean just said "Oh, is Courtney speaking in tongues again?"

Fast forward about six years. Sean had left Knoxville First Church and Josh had become the Youth director there. I was pregnant with Jackson and the church decided to pay my way to go to a "Pastors' Wives Retreat" in Pigeon Forge. It was to be led by Debbie Dreger, the wife of the State Coordinator for the Church of God. There were seven of us staying in a cozy little cabin having a wonderful girly time of fellowship. I learned a great deal from each of the wonderful women that were there.

One evening we curled up with our warm coffee and sat around the fire just sharing with each other. I felt pretty comfortable with these women, so I thought that maybe I should share the story (the one I just told you above) about my horrible start in the ministry. However, when I told the story, I didn't sensor it at all. There I was in a room with six other pastors' wives and I had done it again. Three of those ladies were wives of men who would be on the board that interviewed my husband for his ministerial license just this year (Great!) Why couldn't I have just spelled out the word or something?!!

I have thought about the evening at the cabin since then (and I usually get a sick feeling in my stomach). I often wonder, did it just slip? Or was there something more to what happened that night? Was there something within me that just wanted to know, will these ladies still love me if I screw up....if I'm not the perfect pastor's wife? I think I was testing them. (They passed, in case you were wondering).

I think that all too often we do the same thing with God. We wonder if he will still love us if we do this thing...this thing we know we shouldn't do? Foolishly, we test him like a two year old tests the limits of his or her parents. And just like a two year old is sure to anger their parents during this process, I am sure that there are many times that we anger God.

Leah is two right now and so, of course, I can relate to the "testing your limits" thing. I can get pretty frustrated with her these days, but, even so, at the end of the day, I still love her more than life itself.

The hope is this: If you're wondering if God still loves you anyway, the answer is a resounding, YES! Sure there is no doubt we frustrate him with our self destructive tendencies, but the fact of the matter is that when we humble ourselves and return to him, sorry for what we have done, he opens his arms wide and he still loves us.

In the story of the prodigal son, a young son takes his inheritance and "squanders his wealth in wild living." His foolishness lands him in a field, dirty and feeding with the pigs. When he decides it best to return home and ask his father for a job, this is what happened...

He got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. But the father said to his servants, Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Lets have a feast and celebrate. -Luke 15:20-24

The son's older brother grew angry because he had been faithful to the father, and yet, it was his foolish brother who was being honored. The father said to the older brother...

We had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found. -Luke 15:31-32

Thank God, He loves us still.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Ministries for Mommies

Last Friday, I attended my first ever MOPS meeting. MOPS stands for Mothers of Pre-Schoolers. It's a wonderful thing where you can take your kids to play with other pre-schoolers while you get some mommy time with other moms. You get to listen to a speaker, eat yummy food and do some sort of craft. It may sound a little boring to some but to a mom of pre-schoolers this is great because you can have some adult conversation for a couple hours free from little ones tugging on you. Some other mommies from my church were there and we had a wonderful time. I can't wait to go back.

Speaking of ministries for moms, today is the first day of CPO which stands for Christian Parents Outreach. It is a ministry at our church that serves Parents of Pre-Schoolers. Once a month, several amazing grandmothers in our church get together and keep all of the pre-schoolers from 9am - 1pm. They do all sorts of fun things with them like crafts, water games, baking and singing. The kids just love it!

And mom....she's in heaven. Four whole hours of peace and quiet. I just don't know what to do with myself (except blog). Actually, I think that I will enjoy most of the time just doing the things that I can't do when the kids are here, like reading. I am going to venture out here in a little while and eat lunch with Emma at school since I can't really do that when I have Jackson and Leah here.

I'll leave you with some pictures of Jackson. He got a new Spiderman backpack to take when we go to MOPS and CPO. I don't think that he has taken it off since he got it except when I make him. He is so proud of it.

Notice he's wearing it upside-down. :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Baby Blues and Curly Cues

First, I would like to thank my amazing parents who thought that me without a camera was contrary to the laws of nature. I think they also didn't like the idea of not getting photo updates of the grandkids. They very graciously gave us an awesome (VERY AWESOME) camera that they were no longer using very much. Did I mention that this camera is awesome? So we can again have pictures on my blog (sigh of releif). Thanks mom and dad!

Last night I decided that our family needed a round of hair cuts. Josh got the usual buzz. I trimmed around Jackson's ears and cut the dead ends from Emma's hair. I decided that Leah too needed some evening out. She has this one spot in the back of her hair that seems to grow faster than the rest so if I don't snip it now and then it looks like she is sporting a Billy Ray Cyrus redneck rat tail.

I started to trim the back and then tried to round the edges to give it a soft look. After it dried, those little curls really bounced up. I couldn't beleive how short it looked. I almost cried because I am really a long hair kinda gal. After I had a moment to adjust, I decided that she looked pretty darn cute. That's not too hard for her. Those precious baby blues make any hair style look good!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

If My People Pray...

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. - 2 Chronicles 7:14-16

I'm really bad at praying. There's something about talking to someone who you can't see that makes you feel a little insane. I try to pray and my mind wanders to a million other things that I think I should be doing. I have to really make an effort to stay the course.

I was struck this week by some things that I read. Something that all of the sudden seemed so profound to me. I don't know why this week....why now. I have read these words before. They are the words that the apostle Paul wrote when he was telling people at the early churches how he had prayed for them. These were the people in his circle of influence. Those he had chosen to pour into, to teach, to mentor, to lead, to point toward Christ.

I don't know about you, but I feel like I am doing good if I get prayers up for my immediate family and I. How in the world am I supposed to pray for all of these other people in my life? Maybe if life weren't so busy....but no that's not it. I just struggle to have the heart for it (as awful as that sounds). It's a symptom of a lack of faith, I know.

Paul tells the people at every church he wrote to that he thanks God for them. Not only that, but he thanks God for the grace that has been given to them. He hurt when they were stumbling and suffering. He rejoiced when they were growing, strong, healthy people of God that were filled with the Holy Spirit.

When I have a email prayer request come to me for someone who is sick or struggling, I have a tendency to shoot up little one line prayers. "God I lift
so and so to you" or "God please be with so and so." They are half-hearted and hardly worth the 2 seconds of time that they took up. If I look at Paul as an example I can see much room for improvement. You can tell when Paul prayed that he was earnest and sincere. He prayed very specific prayers for the people. Prayer was a priority for him. He made the time not only to pray, but to pray from his whole heart prayers that were worth praying.

Here are some of the specific things that he prayed for the people...

-That God would clear the way for him to come to them and that he would be able to supply what was lacking in their faith

-That their love would increase and overflow for eachother

-That their hearts would be strengthened so they would be blameless and holy

-That God would fill them with the knowledge of his will through spiritual understanding

-That they may please God by bearing fruit and growing in the knowledge of God

-That they would be rooted in love and have power from the Holy Spirit to grasp how wide, long, high and deep is God's love

-That Christ would dwell in their hearts

-That they would know His love that surpasses all knowledge

-That they may be filled to the measure with the fullness of God

-That their love would abound more and more in knowledge and depth and of insight

-That they may be able to discern what is best

-That they may be pure and blameless

-That they may be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus

God give me the faith and a heart to pray for the people in my circle of influence like Paul did. I pray that when they are hurting you would break my heart too. I pray that when they are rejoicing you would fill my heart with joy and gladness as well. God give me the strength to make prayer a top priority in my life. Through the power of the holy spirit, I pray for the desire to pray for each person in my life with a real sincerity. Help me to pray specifically for them in areas where they may stuggle. Thank you for Paul's example. I pray that we can all learn from him. Make us more like Jesus, God. In His name I pray, Amen.