Wow. I knew it had been a long time since my last post, but this is ridiculous! I've heard I can change the dates on a post and catch up that way, but it's not my style. I have to ramble on and on in one post at a time and when Caroline and Thomas read their blog books (because I know they will be fascinated by them one day! I'm saying that a little sarcastically, but I hope they will!) they will realize by the gap in the dates that this was a very busy time for their momma!We went to Cancun the week after Christmas and had a wonderful time with the entire Culp clan! Well, it was wonderful once I realized we had survived the plane rides, customs/immigration, eating in airports, changing diapers in a two square foot sized bathroom all by ourselves! I enjoyed meeting some very nice people on the planes and waiting areas to board. Several even helped me carry the stroller and bags. (So my faith in humankind is still a positive one.) We only had one "shhh" from a sleeping actor (I was told he is on some tv show I don't watch) on the flight to Mexico. So I think one shush out of all four plane rides there and back is called "SUCCESS."
|Thomas in Mexico! December 29 2010|
It was super emotional for me to see my sweet kiddos put their feet in the sand and see the ocean without their dad there. I let myself be sad for a few minutes, then gave it to God to deal with (Thank you, God for your undending care for us!) and then we enjoyed ourselves playing in the surf with the cousins, eating bowl fulls of guacamole, and making memories.
I was very excited to get to see the Mayan ruins, because I LOVE history, but Thomas wanted to just run 100mph all over the site, not taking time to reflect and learn...I guess I'll have to go back when they are older, sigh. :-)
January: I had a birthday, but who is counting anymore? Not me. And we had snow. Lots of it.
February: Caroline turned 4!!! Yes, FOUR on February 2nd. We enjoyed a ton of friends and family at Boingo Bounce, although the weather tried to impede us. Nothing could stop families from letting their little ones burn energy at her birthday party after being cooped up for days after two huge snow storms. We had a routine down from all of the snow days. Waking up to chocolate chip pancakes, taking thirty minutes to bundle up, spending an hour sledding down our steep driveway, warming up inside with hot chocolate, lunch, resting, eating "snow ice cream," and repeat. For four straight days. Good times.
Also in February, we had our exciting engagement!
Since then I have been cherishing my sweet children. Thomas is talking so much! He is 20 months old. He says: Bye-bye, I did it!, book, milk ("muk"), Jett, choo-choo (for anything that moves or rolls), and a bunch of jibber jabber like he is really telling me a whole story. He brings me Chicka Chicka Boom Boom at least twice a day for me to read to him and everytime I stand him up from changing his diaper on the changer he points to the letters on the "THOMAS" painting sweet Lindsey made for us and he points to the letters saying "O, O, S, O" He has the "O" letter down! He gives real kisses to us and folds his hands to pray. He is a charmer and a very strong little boy. He's 95% in height and weight for his age and lately he has been resting his head on my shoulder when I hold him. (That's the sound of my heart melting into a puddle.)
Caroline continues to amaze me with her intelligence and heart for God. We have deep conversations every day about where God is in our hearts and how the earth rotates to make day and night...She is a very curious and thoughtful little girl. She will apologize to me when she realizes she sounded exasperated or sarcastic when she talks. She will say, "Sorry, mommy, I shouldn't have said it like that."She is becoming very independent and it is sad and wonderful to watch. She will say to her brother, "I just love your cute little toes!" and if I say something she is thinking she will say, "You have the same brain as me!" Just like when she was 2, she still recognizes our USA flag and start singing "You're a Grand Ol' Flag" and make me sing along. She is on the verge of reading independently and recognizes all sounds and letters. She can rhyme words and we are enjoying our Raffi CD Mollie and Julie gave us..."Willoughby Wallaby Whomas and Elephant sat on Thomas!" and we've just discovered Trout Fishing in America thanks to Uncle Skip. Now whenever one of the three of us wake up with crazy hair she starts singing, "My hair had a party last night, it must have been in a terrible fight! When my head hit the pillow it was lookin' allright!..." and Thomas will dance while she sings.
Tyler and I continue to build a strong foundation for our upcoming marriage as I continue wedding planning, continuing three bible studies (more on that in just a bit,) enjoying teaching my seniors in their literacy class (but, whew, are they a lot of work and how I will miss them when they graduate!), and not praying.
Yes, you read right. Not praying.
God sure has been working on me these last few months and He has opened my eyes in a BIG way. I've really reflected on how I got to this point of not praying and I sort of figured it out. (Although it doesn't really matter how I got here, but just what I plan on doing about it!)
|Peekaboo! Sweet cousins. March 2011|
|Fayetteville Farmers' Market April 2011! Thomas pushed her everywhere!|
Then I think God decided I was ready to REALLY pray again, but I didn't. We began Beth Moore's Breaking Free with my single moms' group last fall and it was AMAZING. Beth's best study ever. So we decided to do it beginning last month in our Thursday night ladies group. I couldn't wait for EVERYONE ELSE to find out what THEIR strongholds/obstacles were on THEIR path to freedom.
How silly of me to think since I just finished the study that I had my work on myself finished (as far as this study goes; I obviously know I will be continually refined until the day I enter heaven.)
Hmmm...then we get to the five benefits of being in a true relationship with God. Week 2 of the homework. I realize: I am missing out on the benefit of peace! I am not peaceful. I run from one event/agenda item/playdate/appointment to the next so much and so fast that my head spins and I was hardly able to enjoy any of it, because I was "BUSY."
You know what God says about that? So what. So what you were "busy." (He also said to me, hmmm you were so busy that you still managed to watch American Idol!?)
I say all that not to say the things I do aren't important and I'm not saying we shouldn't stop and take breaks to watch TV, but after the last two weeks of Breaking Free homework I realized I am missing out on God's peace in my life. I realized more than once in a given week when someone asked me how I am and I answered them "I feel as if I run around like a chicken with my head cut off" I knew something needed to change. Also, I knew other people juggle far more than I do and they do not act like headless chickens-that was when God decided I was ready to hear this message about prayerlessness.
Don't get me wrong, I "talk" with God all day, kind of like a running conversation, and I pray for requests from my friends, at meals and with the kids at bedtime, but I do not spend focused time in prayer. Beth Moore said on page 69 of the workbook "Without a doubt, avoiding prayer is a sure prescription for anxiety, a way to avoid peace. To experience the kind of peace that covers all circumstances, the Bible challenges us to develop active, authentic prayer lives...the enemy would rather see us study the Bible into the wee hours of the morning, because he knows we'll never have deep understanding and power to live what we've learned without prayer. Satan knows prayerless lives are powerless lives, while prayerful lives are powerful lives!"
WOW. I was actually making Satan happy and God sad that I was too busy with church instead of praying!
I have not rolled this boulder out of the way on my path to freedom yet, but I see that it is there and I'm trying to push it away.
In Sunday morning ladies class we discussed chapter 4 of Francis Chan's "Crazy Love" and how we tend to give to God our sloppy leftovers as an offering instead of our very best. For example, a "mumbled three minute prayer when I'm half asleep" (this author sure knows me!) I know I can do better.
|Trout Fishing in America concert spring break at the Jones Center !!|
I feel like a broken record, but I want to say it again. I do not have it all figured out. I am having to answer new questions from Caroline "Did Thomas get to see Daddy?" "Will Daddy be sad when he sees me in heaven all grown up?" (I tell her USUALLY people go to heaven when they are old.) "Daddy didn't get to see me when I'm four." Whew. Tough stuff for a child to be thinking about. We talk it out and I share what I learn from the bible and just when I think I can't take the direction of our conversation anymore, she will look at me and say "Can I paint my fingernails?"
Instead of dwelling on how sad it is that she (and soon baby Thomas) has to deal with so much at a young age, I think about how much more of a grasp they will have than most people their age on life... and it's briefness and it's ups and downs that are inevitable and how God took care of us in our time of need. They will be able to remember how He took care of us and draw on that strength when they go through valleys as adults.
We are still learning each day how to live with our grief and joys in life. One of my favorite quotes from GriefShare helps me: “We may be thinking that the absence of pain is a sign of healing. Real healing is characterized by the presence of both joy and pain."