Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I would have lost heart...

A picture that I adore with a couple of verses that I hold tightly too...pretty much equals perfection in my book.  

If you are in a season of pain or trial or just having a hard week then I encourage you to also claim these verses for your life.  Don't stop believing friends!  God is so faithful.   
Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Choose Love

I made one quick outing to the store this morning. The clerk working there was beyond disrespectful and just down right horrible. The kind of person that makes you feel like an idiot simply for being in their store. Perhaps she was having a bad day. Perhaps her cat died or her Mom, Dad or Great Uncle Billy is sick with some incurable disease...or perhaps she was just being rude. 

Then as I drove back home contemplating the regularity of my encounters with rude and unhappy people I had the pleasure of witnessing two drivers in the throes of road rage. One was driving terribly and clearly did not know where they were going. As a result they caused another driver to swerve out of a lane more than once. I understand how incredibly frustrating it is to be the one nearly side swiped by a driver who is clearly not driving wisely but, I have also been the one making stupid mistakes on the road from time to time and generally on accident. I know that we are all guilty of that. Of course the driver who was being inconvenienced had to make sure his voice was heard. He sped up and began tail gating the terrible driver in front of him. He swerved wildly in and out of a lane to pace the bad driver, which caused others on the road to become very aware of the road rage behavior.  Finally he pulled up next to the still clueless driver, rolled down his window and exchanged some choice words. Testosterone at it's finest of course. The clueless driver who had evidently made a wrong turn and was back in a lane to get onto the freeway once again was not about to tolerate the attack. He chose to participate in the screaming match and he even added a few lovely hand and finger gestures to the event. Then the light turned green and they went their separate ways either feeling better or worse about what had transpired. I was a bit amused and definitely entertained by it all but, I was also grieved. 
Do we realize how little we accomplish by stooping to the same level as the bad driver, the rude clerk, the foolish person and the evil person?  Will we ever learn that this pattern only begets more evil, violence and unkindness?  Will we ever see that we are all a small part of a big problem and we can choose not to learning how to take a deep breath, swallow our pride and forgive instead of fighting back. 

I don't think that turning the other cheek comes naturally to us at all but, if we desire to be a blessing in this life then perhaps it would be wise if we trained ourselves daily in the practice of humility and grace.  Prepare yourself for the fact that people are in a hurry on the road and mistakes are constantly being made.  Leave room between you and other drivers for grace.  Prepare yourself for the fact that so many people are hurting and angry and they are taking those emotions out on the wrong people.  Leave room for love, forgiveness and mercy. 
 We aren't perfect of course and even when we try we will still make mistakes.  We might start our day with the best of intentions and yet by mid day find that we have lashed out at someone in anger or cut someone off on the road purely for the satisfaction of doing it.  

I had one particular night that my stress got the better of me.  I got lost driving somewhere far from home and anyone that knows me well knows that getting lost while driving stresses me out more than just about anything.  I have no sense of direction whatsoever.  It's really quite pathetic actually.  My phone battery died and I was relying on the GPS on my phone to find my destination.  I was so overwhelmed.  I was also driving my husband's enormous truck that I am not comfortable in.  I pulled into a ridiculously packed college parking lot with compact spaces and truly did my best park job with the beast of a truck, between two tiny cars who were not parked straight. I even backed the truck out and corrected as much as I felt I could in my crooked space.  I had waited a good while for that tiny parking spot to become available and as I parked and got out of my truck, the car next to me pulled out.  I began marching to the closest burger joint full of emotional turmoil.  A man in another large truck yelled at me from across the parking lot, "hey lady, can you fix that park job? There aren't any other spots in here and I need that one." I was boiling. I am laughing as I write this now but, in that moment I did not find any of it funny.  I was late to my appointment, it was dark and I didn't know where I was.  I was only parked crooked because the car next to me had been crooked...the car that was now gone and now someone was yelling at me half way across a parking lot to go back to my car and re-park it for the 3rd time to accommodate him. 

Honestly, the calm me would have done this with a smile on my face and a happy, "Sure, no problem sir." The stressed out, lost, overwhelmed, about to cry me, was not able to respond that way.  I looked at this man and a whole slew of things flashed across my mind that I'd like to say to him.  I am not great at being mean even when I am mad (honest!) but, I tried my best and managed a halfhearted and rude, "well, I guess I have to don't I."  I marched back to my truck, pulled it out and parked it again and then got out and nervously stormed pass the other driver without making any eye contact.  I really wanted to make a point and it felt good for like all of ten seconds.  I glanced back only before heading into the burger joint to see that he had parked completely crooked.  I shook my head in irritation but, hoped he wasn't eating at the burger place because, I was already starting to feel guilty about my rudeness.  I didn't want to see him again because, in the state that I was in, I would probably start bawling and through snot and tears I would tell him my story and beg for forgiveness.  Thank goodness he ate somewhere else which gave me time to calm down and reflect on my my poor choices.

 I don't want to be that person.  She comes out once in a blue moon and I never like the outcome.  The next time that I am feeling this pressed and squeezed I want to sit for a minute and breath before I speak to anyone or I might end up regretting what I say. lol    The truth is that nothing justifies bad behavior...nothing.  We all have a choice to turn the other cheek and to love like Christ loves us.  Christ, who forgives us over and over again for our sins without striking us down as we well deserve.  Choose love today even in the face of unkindness and you just might be a blessing to a broken person.  You just might prevent an accident or brighten the skies over a stormy city.  Choose love! 

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Ultimate Giver

Last year I themed our tree the Regal tree.  This year I decided that our tree felt elf-ish so I themed it just that, the elfish tree.  There was just something about the quirky lime green balls, the sparkly lime green joys splashed about, the sparkly silver balls, the bright red ribbon and the spunky bow on top (that I made myself thank you very much) that just screamed for Will Ferrel to come and have some maple syrup covered spaghetti with us.  He never showed.  I was disappointed.

I simplified my decor quite a bit this year and actually left several boxes in the attic.  It was nice to have less to put out and less to put away and nice to have less clutter around during the holiday season.  A house can look and feel so festive with just a few little touches. 
We stayed home this year so our families back in CA generously shipped us a few gifts, which was such a treat and they definitely helped fill up the space under our tree! Though I would have LOVED to have had more of our family with us in NC this past Christmas I don't regret staying home.   I really enjoy being in our own space and being able to celebrate and create our own traditions with our daughter now.
I have gone from a mom/photographer that was always determined to capture pictures perfectly to a mom who barely carries her camera and doesn't even bother to get the face in focus anymore. hehe. I think the first couple of years or so of Daisy's life I was so passionate about capturing her life through my lens but, as time passes, I am becoming more interested in capturing her life through my eyes and heart. So...this is the best I got of Daisy in her Christmas dress.  Hair all frazzled and a dazed look in her eye. lol I got her dress at a consignment shop this year.  I couldn't bring myself to spend a ton on a dress that she would only wear for a couple of hours at our church Christmas Eve service.  Target had some pretty adorable dresses this year though and it was tempting to say the least!
On Christmas Eve Eve, Daisy's buddy Ella came over to do a little gift exchange with her. It was pretty cute to see them exchange their presents and to be excited about sharing. They both had to dress up a little too! Perhaps another new tradtion?? :)
I do love the Christmas Eve Jammy tradition that my Gram started and I plan to contine it with our family. I was looking everywhere for jammies for Daisy but, wasn't having much luck and then happened to see one pair on clearance at Baby Gap like 3 days before Christmas! That made me happy and they looked pretty stinking cute on her if I do say so:).
We had planned to get a picture of Daisy with Santa and this was that particular night. When we got to the mall the line was easily an hour long and we decided that it would be a far more pleasant night if we walked around and window shopped instead. So we did just that. Maybe next year we'll have better luck!
She makes this face quite a bit now and it's a silly one isn't it!  It can actually mean a couple of things from what I've noticed.  She 'll make this face if she is uncomfortable or nervous and she'll also make this face when she isn't really liking what she is hearing.  See below:). Glad I was finally able to capture it.  I'm telling you, this kid has SO many facial expressions!
I didn't get any pictures during the Christmas festivities but, remembered to snap a couple before the day completely got away from me.  Daisy was hanging out in the box while Daddy assembled her new baby station. This toy was ridiculously tedious to put together. Thumbs down for that but, she seems to enjoy it otherwise.
It was so nice to have Grandma Beej (or Beach as Daisy calls her) and Granddad with us this Christmas.  Truly, they made the holiday season much more festive and special.  We always love their company and we are so happy that they live so close by now.  Such a treat!!  Daisy is quite fond of them and that is pretty special to me because she doesn't bond to people easily.  It has taken a lot of visits but now, she gets deliriously excited each time she sees them and she talks about it for the rest of the day after they leave.  Her favorite thing to do when we visit their home is play with their flash light and watch princess videos on youtube.  It's so cute! Definitely blesses this mommy's heart.
Daisy and Granddad have a special little bond. Daisy high fives Granddad over and over again and loves to be silly with him. So cute to see the two of them interacting:)
I managed to capture the, "mom, is he ever going to finish putting this thing together?" face. hehe
and was finished.  Her very own nursery! Daisy got a lot of fun goodies.  She got baby dolls, princess barbies from Disney, dishes for her kitchen, a princess bike and helmet, a drum music set, clothes, a leap pad (!), some books, a doctor set, and some other little things...I'm really only recording that for her memory.  Maybe someday she'll be curious about what she got for Christmas when she was 2.5? :)
And now, for my long over due story regarding the life sized nativity. About a week before Christmas as I was driving to Wal-Mart one evening with Daisy I noticed a nativity in front of a church along the side of the road. I rather randomly decided to pull into the parking lot and let Daisy out to see the nativity and took the opportunity to tell her once again, the story of baby Jesus. I wasn't sure if she would be interested or not but, I thought it was worth a try.  I was a little bummed that baby Jesus wasn't actually present in the nativity...(still not sure why He never was) but, nonetheless the nativity became the highlight of Christmas for both me and Daisy. Our little visit turned into a long visit.  I stood back and let Daisy do her thing and I ate it up.  Let me rephrase literally filled my cup to overflowing.  I was bursting at the seams with joy because, to me there is no greater thing in all the world that my daughter could take interest in than Jesus.   For it to all happen so naturally and to see her childlike curiosity and wonder reminded me so powerfully about the true meaning of Christmas and for us that is Christ.

Daisy chatted sweetly with each animal and she seemed to think that they were hungry because she offered each of them little handfuls of hay while gently patting their heads and backs and saying, "der you go all better." Then she walked up to Mary and Joseph and had a priceless little conversation with them about baby Jesus.  I could only hear bits and pieces of her chat from my place on the sidewalk but, the sweetest thing was when she bent down to kiss Mary's belly and told baby "dejus" that she loved him and she would see him soon.  Oh how this heart of my melted and yes, she was very sad to go when that time finally came.     
This past Christmas season was especially hard on me for various reasons that I won't get into.  I tried so hard to busy Daisy and myself with festive things like decorating, singing carols, cookie baking, holiday crafts, bible story reading, shopping, church services, etc. but, I still felt a strange sadness and loneliness and being so far away from all of my family back in CA didn't help.  I didn't want to feel lonely or sad and trust me I fought the feeling with all my might.  I had plenty to keep me busy but, the ache was deeper than all the stuff around me could fill.  I cried out to Jesus to take away the sadness and loneliness and I sought Him as best I could for the answer but, no answer seemed to least not immediately when I asked.  The night that we first visited the nativity the sadness began to fade although not entirely.  Still, it was more than enough for me to recognize that in the crazy, busy Christmas season of doing this and that and racing here and there; taking the time to pause at a quiet Nativity with my daughter on a chilly night was by far the most powerful experience we shared.  By the way I contacted the church to get permission for these visits since I knew Daisy would not be satisfied to look from the sidewalk...what child would really.  She wanted to be close and to experience Jesus first hand.  Just as we all should! "Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Matthew 19:14
 We decided to return again on Christmas day after mid day naps.  After all what better way to spend Christmas, a day that so many of us celebrate the birth of Christ, than to visit baby Jesus at the Nativity.  I thought it would be fun to have Daisy pick out a boy gift and help me wrap it for baby Jesus and she loved that.  On Christmas day she was SO excited about visiting baby Jesus and taking Him a birthday gift.  We drove to the Nativity with the grandparents and she chucked the present towards Mary in typical 2 year old fashion.  "Der you go baby Dejus! Happy Birfday. Wuv you!"  Then she began chatting with the animals again.  It was just as adorable as the first visit.
 Funny story...We attempted to sneak the present back into the car (I wanted to leave it but, thought the church might think that strange lol:) when Daisy was heading back to her car seat but, all of a sudden she made a bee-line back to the nativity and instantly wailed, "whe is dah pwesent???"  We momentarily panicked and then being the awesome parents that we are... got her distracted looking in another direction while Joey chucked the present all the way back to Mary.  Daisy turned back around and smiled happily, "oh deh it is!"  Oh my goodness it was a riot. We were all sad to leave the nativity knowing that it will be a year before we get to head out for this fun tradition again but, our fun continued at home with a birthday cake for Jesus.   

 Daisy got to help decorate the cake and I stuck a baby Jesus from one of our Nativity sets on top to help her better understand who the cake was for.  She totally got it and she had a blast singing happy birthday to Jesus.  And then it happened....after visiting the nativity and seeing the delight in my daughter's eyes as she sang happy birthday to was then unexpectedly that all the sadness and loneliness completely vanished and the love and peace of celebrating Jesus with my family warmed my heart through and through.  All felt right in the world and I felt no sadness at the closing of this Christmas.  I felt the most indescribable peace that we experienced it perfectly.  I didn't choose that moment or will it to happen because trust me if I could have I probably would have chosen a few weeks earlier but, then these memories might not have been as powerful!  The timing was perfect though.  God's timing always is.  I wish I could explain the situation better and do it more justice...but, let me just conclude by saying that it was definitely a holiday miracle.  Thank you Jesus for loving us so perfectly, for seeing our broken hearts and filling them with just what they need.  You are the ultimate gift giver!! 
Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Her Big Girl Bed

I took a kajillion pictures of Daisy the first night that we set up her big girl bed...which was ages ago now but, I've been wanting to share them because they are so cute.  She was so happy to have her own pillows, her own comforter and her own step stool to get in and out of bed as she pleased.  She was being so silly and chatting up a storm.  I'm happy to report that she transitioned into her big girl bed like a champ...which was such a relief considering how exhausting potty training has been going with her.  Though I do have to give her credit, because she is a champ about holding her potty all night long.   

She goes to bed around 8 and chats until close to 9:30 every night.  I have a monitor that allows me to chat with her so I will occasionally tell her to settle down but, otherwise I let her talk and play to her heart's content.  I figure it wears her out and helps her to sleep better.  She usually sleeps until about 7 and hasn't yet wanted to get out of bed on her own.  I know that won't last for much longer but, for now she likes me to go in to get her and snuggle with her in bed for a little while before she gets up.  It's so stinking cute.  Anyhoo, enjoy the pictures of Daisy enjoying her new bed and please forgive the white patches on the wall.  We were filling the holes from a shelf that we had to remove from her wall. Hope everyone had a great New Year's Celebration! 
and more silliness..hiding under her blankets, calling Daddy in to see her bed and pretending to sleep.
oh the faces that this kid can make...