Thursday, January 30, 2014

Snow day #1 pics

We've had some great snow in NC! The first snow day was only a 2 hour delay. So I bundled up the kids and out we went at 8am to make sure we made it to school by 10am. It was cold but fun! There wasn't enough snow on the ground to really make a snowman or snowballs. But, the kids had fun making snowballs out of pinecones/pine needles/teeny-tiny bits of snow.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Surely, I have a beautiful inheritance" - Part 2

A few days ago I wrote Part 1 on this topic. You can catch up here if you want. And without further adieu, here's Part 2.

"Did God really say?" - said the sneaky snake. Bella calls the snake in the Garden of Eden the sneaky snake so I will too because, well, it's adorable y'all. Not the snake, the kid.

The first question from a big ole' liar is "Did God indeed say...". You probably all know the ending to the story. To summarize - it doesn't turn out well until a few years later when a little somethin' somethin' called Redemption and Savior popped in the world.

I think that question posed by the sneaky snake still gets us though. Did God indeed say to do this or that or go here or there or whatever? Did God really say He was trustworthy? Did God indeed say He was compassionate and gracious, abounding in steadfast love, slow to anger, and always forgiving? Did God really say He was enough, good to all, always there, and had a future?

That sneaky snake sneaks in, doesn't it? We hear those "indeeds" and "reallys" probably more than we realize and recognize. We also agree with those "indeeds" and "reallys" with, "Well, uhm, I thought He did but...". If you're like me you can probably fill in the sentence pretty easily.

And the sneaky snake begins to make us doubt little by little which turns into more doubt and frustration and more doubt and more frustration.

And then the critical-ness and cynicism and anger sets in. Especially for us momma's that can easily give way to frustration simply out of exhaustion or comparison to others or one-too-many-tantrums.

Y'all, go to Psalm 16:6 and see if a word flies off the page. Do you see it? It flew off the page when I was thinking about the sneaky snake one day.

"INDEED, I have a beautiful inheritance".

Wait, there's the word again.


But, such a different context, right? It's been a battleground word for me since I started recognizing the sneaky snake. So now when I heard, "Did God really (or indeed) say...", I can say "The lines are secure for me. He is my chosen portion and cup. Indeed I have a beautiful inheritance."

Perhaps we need to exchange the first indeed with the indeed we know to be true and trustworthy and faithful.

Yes, really, surely, indeed I have a beautiful inheritance!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Surely, I have a beautiful inheritance"

"Yes, you can have it all" was the title of a talk given by a female speaker at UNC last year. Apparently it was very well attended. But, alas, I did not get to go. Why, you ask? Because I had to pick up my daughter from school and I had a 9 month old. So, uhm, excuse me you cannot have it all. I wanted to walk in that meeting, two kids in tow, hair messed up (probably not even a shower that day), with crusted oatmeal on my shirt and ask her if that's what she meant by having it all? And tell everyone else in the room she was lying. And then ask her to change my son's dirty diaper while I attend to my daughter asking for Elmo. But, I didn't. And, I've gotten over my bitterness at the title. I actually find it comical now but ever since then I've been on a hunt for the question, "Can you really have it all?" I read Sheryl Sandberg's book and then read Debora Spar's book - both were excellent and had many great points to glean from. But, something was still missing, particularly as a Christian. So, as a woman, wife, mother, employee, student and Christian I have a few things to say about this.

I didn't choose to go back to school or to work in the midst of motherhood because we needed the money. We would be just fine with Mike's salary. I didn't choose to go back to school or work in the midst of motherhood because I didn't want to stay at home, although there was a little of that at the beginning of motherhood (because what new mother isn't sleep deprived and moody and hasty in decision making?).

I chose to work and go back to school, knowing fully well my future includes working and not staying at home with my kids, because I felt like it was a calling.

And, I tried to get out of it a few times too. Mike and I prayed and prayed and prayed and sought counsel and prayed and sought more counsel about this before moving to North Carolina. Some very trusted friends of ours prayed with us, as did our parents. We waited on the Lord and felt Him affirm what we were supposed to do without a shadow of a doubt. Our house sold in 3 days - at full price - with no haggling or bargaining. I got into the top school for my degree with a not-incredible GRE score...I could go on and on where we felt the Lord was saying "go" and reaffirming my calling and our calling as a family. (Our calling as a family encompasses both mine and Mike's calling and some strange way it all works out - but that's another blog post). Anywho, back to the point - we moved knowing fully well that was what God wanted.

But, wait? We had a 2 year old and 3 month old. So school meant I'm out of the house when they were growing up. Wouldn't I miss some milestones? Wouldn't this cause them to go to counseling when they were 28? (See all that mommy-guilt come in?) He still said go.

So, what is a woman, a mother to do when God calls her to something outside of the home? Isn't all women's callings within their house? I would say yes. But, sometimes, like in my case, it didn't stop there. The calling was to be a mother and a wife - to love my kids and my husband like Jesus would - to embody Psalm 145:8-9 and pray my kids get that in their heart as their own - but it was also a calling to academics and international health. Wait, what? That's outside the home, Lord?

This is when Psalm 16:5-6 ran straight into me, knocked me over, and kept going. Then came back around and around and around like a boomerang, gently reminded me the beauty of the scripture.

"The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance."

So, perhaps a woman's calling is not merely based on where she physically is - inside or outside the home. Working inside or outside the home. Because that's what we do, right? We ask "Do you work outside of the home? Do you stay at home?..." Perhaps a calling is different than that though. Maybe we're asking the wrong question. Perhaps, we should say "Are you living within your own boundary lines?"

Perhaps, my calling is to agree with the Lord about my own boundary lines. And my boundary lines exist within school and work and life and motherhood and marriage. Nowhere else.

I was gently but firmly reminded that my boundary lines are in beautiful places - He holds MY lot secure - He is MY chosen portion. My boundary lines of trying to juggle school, work, and home are secure by HIM. I run into problems when I try to push those lines out or pull them in. I run into problems when I want to change my lot or wiggle out of them a little. I run into problems when I get mad that my boundary lines do not include staying at home full time or I start coveting another woman's boundary lines.

"Emily, these are YOUR boundary lines, secured by ME".

I've always read the last part of the verse that I have a beautiful inheritance, that it is a personal inheritance. I definitely believe that is true and believe fully well that God has a beautiful inheritance for us as we pray to bring the Kingdom of God to earth. But this week at 5:30am when I was running in 28 degree weather and coming on mile 4 (because that's usually the hardest and when I want to quit), I felt the Lord say, "say that passage again".

So I did.

The lines are in beautiful places...indeed I have a beautiful inhereitence.

Wait a minute. Since I say that to the Lord I can say it as I, myself, Emily, have a beautiful inheritance to give to my children. I read it completely different and it changed everything for me.

-That means that in the midst of them having to go to daycare - I have a beautiful inheritance to give them.
-That means that in the midst of late night studying and mommy guilt - I have a beautiful inheritance to give them.
-That means that even though they are not with me 24/7 - I have a beautiful inheritance to give them.

I have what they need, I have what I need, I have what the family needs - simply because the boundary lines have been drawn in beautiful places. YES, I have an inheritance.

It was like He was reminded me that I am enough because of Him. I am enough right now in the midst of my calling because of Him. Remember, He holds my lot secure!

I am enough as a mother.
He is enough to provide.

So, maybe us mommas need to encourage one another in our boundary lines and quit asking the question about our physical location throughout the day. I do not think this post is about staying at home versus not staying at home. I think it's a post about being secure in the Securer of boundary lines, giving thanks within those boundary lines, and realizing He has given us all we need for our children.

Yes, indeed, we have a beautiful inheritance.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Bella update

Sweet Bella, you are a treasure to us! You keep us laughing and make us dance. You give funny faces in the morning. You are soaking up what you're learning at school work. We love you and are certainly proud of you!

Our spunky 5 year old is just growing up, y'all! She's learning to read like a champ and wants to read everything. It's incredible how quickly they learn, isn't it? Last month she was doing sight words and now she's doing full sentences. She brought home her first homework project where she had to read just one page in a book - and she read it all! Ata' girl.

She wants to come and study with me at "her" desk in the study room at home. My desk is right behind her. She knows it's time to be quiet and work. But, she kept coming over to whisper something to me. It was pretty cute. I kept telling her, "remember to be quiet" and she'll say "Oh, I forgot". Then 2 minutes later we would do that again. So cute!
She is thriving at school and is a social butterfly (the teacher's words, not mine). She got invited to her first sleepover (which sent into a panic attack), got asked for her phone number from a gal-friend, and has brought home some presents from her friends. It's adorable, y'all! I think I should exchange presents with my friends.
I had to teach a class on misclassification and this picture made it into my slideshow. The students may not have heard what I said but I got some great smiles when this popped up on the screen.

Can you tell she likes to read? Poor thing couldn't even make it in her bed. Face plant! That's the way to go to bed.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

JT update - brought to you by the iphone

Our little man is just growing up! Here's a little catchup about the cutie!

1. His hair is still really red and curly! We trim it a little but I just can't cut the curls off. So, we are sportin' the crazy look up in here!

2. This is what he does when he gets up from his naps. He curls up, puts his hands together, and puts his head back on me. Love it!
3. He carried his daddy's bible around for a few weeks and would "read" it all the time. He wanted to take it in the car, to the bathtub, to bed. We definitely pray he'll love this when he can read!
4. This is how we roll eatin' oatmeal. Little hipster! I need to buy some skinny jeans.
5. He loves to jump. He wants to jump to the car (the entire way!), jump to the bathtub, jump off the stairs at home, jump while going to the table - you get the idea. It's adorable because he barely leaves the ground. But, he sure does try really hard.

6. I let him pick a book to go on a run. And he picked the dictionary. yes! The neighbors were laughing watching him try to hold it. He did it though!

7. He is officially in 4T. Most of his shirts are 3T and have turned into belly shirts. He is also 36 pounds. what?!
8. He loves dinosaurs and trains and trucks and dinosaurs and jumping and trains and trucks and laughing. He's also tenacious and wants what he wants! That's ok though - he's 2 right!
9. JT, we sure do  love you! Thanks for being such a joy!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Reading list June-December 2013

Y'all, I read a lot last year! Well, not all of last year. But after I finished the crazy-busy-and-ultra-stressful semester (remember that?), I went to town with books that I could read simply for pleasure - not to pass my classes or qualifying exam. And I read some great books. And a couple of doozies. So I thought I'd share my reading list since I'm sure you've all been wondering "hmm, what has Emily been reading?". Y'all know I'm a nerd. So is my hubs. We went to a bookstore on our first date...and I was smitten. Enjoy this list everyone and get reading!

1, 2, and 3: The Hunger Games trilogy

I saw the first movie and had a serious aversion to the storyline. It was appalling to me thinking about the killing children simply for pleasure for the rich of the capital. I was reading another book about child soilders in Africa so the story was a little too real for me. Part of the premise of the book involves people in the Capitol city watching the killings (they call them games) similar to watching a reality show. The audience oohed and awwed at the suspense and saw it as pleasure. I just felt like I was being a part of the "audience" when I wasn't doing enough to end child slavery or do my part to improving the world. Does it matter what kind of clothes we buy? Does it matter what I do with my time? Needless to say, it was more than book to me. I LOVED these books and have since read them all again.

4: Shepherding a Child's Heart by Tedd Tripp

I need to read this over and over. This is such a great, grace-filled book on parenting. It certainly reminds me to see my children differently and see their heart's through the lens of heaven.

5: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

I am a huge fan of this author. However, this book did not hold up to his other books.

6: Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandburg

There are so many things I love about this book! However, I felt she didn't talk enough about the emotional aspect of being a working mother. One day I hope to write a book about the aspect of 'leaning in'. I highly recommend for all women, regardless if you work outside of the home or not.

7: Grace Based Parenting by Tim Kimmel

 My all time favorite parenting book. So good y'all! I don't have words to describe this book - it's just good!

8: The Bean Trees by Barbara Kingsolver

 I don't remember anything about this book. So I guess it wasn't too good. I remember liking it at the time...

9: Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress Free Productivity by David Allen

This is such a great read for us organizational types. Although I didn't implement all of his suggestions, I definitely use some of his tips in my school/work/home life.

10: The Origin of AIDS by Jacques Pepin

The author was coming to UNC for a lecture on the book so I figured I needed to read it. It was dense but such a great read, particularly if you have interests in global health, inequities, colonization (and the ramifications of said colonization), and/or AIDS. It's also hard to read at times but is compelling to continue in my studies.

11: Raising Your Spirited Child: A Guide for Parents whose Child is More Intense, Sensitive, Perceptive, Persistent, and Energetic by Mary Sheedy Kurcinka

 THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this book! This book is like grace smashed into The Strong Willed Child by Dobson. Such a great book on understanding your spirited child, giving grace to that child, and helping nurture that child. It's not a christian book but still great nonetheless, especially when you couple it with Grace Based Parenting. Highly recommended for parents of hyper or strong willed (I mean SPIRITED) children.

12: Called Again: Love and Triumph on the Appalachian Trail by Jennifer Pharr Davis

 Oh my word - such a great book! This chick hikes the Appalachian Trail and documents her journey. It's such a great book for all of us on this spiritual journey with Jesus. She doesn't really talk about her spirituality but there are so many correlations with her own hike. Highly recommend it!

13: A Sudden Glory: God's Lavish Response to Your Ache for Something More by Sharon Jaynes

I read this book with a dear friend and loved it too! It's full of grace and transparency and tears at Starbucks.

14: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand

 ANOTHER GREAT BOOK! I have added this to my Top 10 Favorite Book List Of All Times. It's full of redemption and grace and mercy. There are definitely parts that are so hard to read and I nearly stopped half-way through. But I'm so glad I kept going. I think every Christian should read this book.

15: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

 Mike and I both read this book and enjoyed it. It's pretty intriguing, scientifically and physiologically, looking at what we do and why we do it. This is a great book for everyone doing New Year's resolutions.

16: Global Soccer Mom: Changing the World is Easier Than You Think by Shayne Moore

 This wasn't my favorite book but I finished it in a few days. It's inspirational and a very easy read.

17: A Thousand Sisters: My Journey into the Worst Place on Earth to Be a Woman by Lisa Shannon

 Ugh, ugh, ugh. Such a great book but so raw! This one ripped me up and down. But I think it's important to not become insulated to being comfortable in America and remember what others are going through. Then ask myself what is my role?

18: The Duggars: 20 and Counting, Raising One of America's Largest Families - How They Do It by Michelle Duggar

 Y'all, I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book. I know they are not liked by everyone. But this is my #2 favorite parenting book at all time. I cried through most of it and felt like I became a better mother by it. She hammers into you how incredibly special children are and it's a great reminder when your days are spent scrubbing jelly off of the fireplace or picking cheerios out of the toaster.

19: A Love that Multiplies: An Up-Close View of How They Make it Work by Michelle Duggar

 I loved this one too!

20: One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are by Ann Voskamp

 I read this at the very beginning of the summer and it rocked me! I think it changed me so much to be thankful. Every. Single. Day.

21: What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith

 This is a good, easy read. I love Angie Smith's work and this was refreshing as a woman and a mother.

22: Wonder Women: Sex, Power and the Quest for Perfections by Debora L Spar

And I just finished this one. This was such a GREAT book. It runs in the same category as the 'Lean In' book mentioned above. But she takes a wider view of working women. She talks a little more of the emotional aspect, which was refreshing, but still not enough.

Welp, there's my 6 month reading list. What have y'all been reading? Any good books for my 2014 list? 

Have a great day cozying up with a great book. Now, I'm off to write my own...or scrub jelly off my chairs.