Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Princess {and Photographer} in Training

Miss Eveley loves to live life on opposite ends of the spectrum. She is a girly girl sometimes and has recently found a LOVE for her dress-up trunk. Thanks to our kind neighbor, a great aunt with a garage sale addiction, and some presents from grandmothers, Eveley has a pretty nice collection of dress up clothes. Notice her tattoos. =)

[Little Caleb did not want to be left out.]

But, truthfully, Ev lives most of her existence on the other side of the spectrum -- with dirt under her fingernails and a nice sweat mustache.

I have many interests. Too many sometimes. I love to create, craft, sew, cook, write, play the piano, think, organize, read... I am trying to add photography to my list but am having such a hard time. Others make it look so easy. And I'm smart enough to admit that my photos are nothing to brag about. I decided I would either have to enter a remedial class or put photography on my list of "things I am just not good at".

So I solicited the advice of one of my pro friends. She explained that I really need to get up in their face. Get in their business. My approach of sitting back and praying for the right shot was just not working. {Thanks, Anna!} Sunday afternoon, I decided to try this new approach. Here are a few cute ones of my dirt-faced princess. Getting in Caleb's face proved to be a little more difficult. That little booger is fast.

Now, I am still a green square kind of girl and have not even ventured into learning about all the technical aspects of manual photography. But I hope that may come in the future. As soon as my week consists of 8 days, I will sign up for a class.

A few pictures from this Sunday {taken by my equally amateurish photographer hubby}.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

The Rest of the Story . . . {Updated}

So it all began the summer of 2007.

Robbie went to heaven in January of that year. And Eveley was born that April. Our lives had been a roller coaster of emotions. We were still so horribly sad and missed our Robbie terribly.

At church, on an August Sunday morning, our pastor requested prayer for a family whose little 2-year-old boy, Jude, had fallen into the grandparents' pool. Jude was on life support and the entire community (and practically the rest of the world) was praying for a miracle. The family had started a "Caring Bridge" blog to keep others informed on his progress and to stay encouraged because of the immense prayer that was taking place for their little boy.

Because of the similarities, the story hit pretty close to home and I began following this family's story. As I read their posts, I found that we had even more in common than I first realized.

Robert, Chantal and their family were serving Jesus in Beirut, Lebanon. They had come back to the States for a few months that summer to visit Robert's parents -- who lived in our small town. Robert's brother and his family (serving in Ireland) were also here visiting.

The summer, expected to be full of family fun and relaxation, took a tragic turn when little Jude fell into the pool one afternoon. While on life support, we all prayed for God to do a miracle and heal sweet Jude. I found myself on the floor (literally) begging God to restore him and bless this family. The past 8 months had been excruciating for us, and I would never wish that on anyone else.

Writing from the hospital, Robert and Chantal continued to praise and trust God. They wrote that it was their wedding anniversary - August 23 - and that they shared this anniversary date with Robert's parents.

I found this interesting since Bob and I (along with Bob's parents) also share the wedding anniversary date of August 23.

Jude went to heaven the following day, August 24. When I got the news, I cannot tell you how sad I was. ("Sad" seems like such a short and insignificant word to describe those strong and profound emotions.) But I was so sad that this sweet family was just beginning the painful journey that Bob and I now found ourselves upon.

I really sensed a strong pull to meet Robert and Chantal and to share our story with them. After speaking with one of our women's ministry leaders at church, she agreed to go with Bob and me to the evening visitation at the church. I brought a copy of the eulogy from Robbie's service and sealed it in an envelope with our contact information on front. After waiting in the mile-long line, it was our turn to greet the family. We shook their hands and quietly mentioned that we recently had to say goodbye to our little boy under similar circumstances but were rejoicing that he and Jude were now in heaven with Jesus fulfilling a whole new purpose. There wasn't a lot of time to chat but I gave them the envelope and told them that we would continue to pray for their family.

The following evening, Robert called us at home and asked if we would come over to their house. That meeting was the beginning of a deep friendship that was truly orchestrated by God Himself. We shared stories of our Robert Emmet and their Jude McKay (my maiden name). We encouraged each other with the TRUTH of God's word and His promises, and we reminded one another that this world is not our home. In other words, this is a really bad chapter in a really awesome book.

Their family returned to Beirut a few weeks later, but we continued to pray for and encourage one another even though we were on opposite sides of the world.

This summer, Robert and Chantal and their children (now including baby Nour Hope) came back to the States to visit for several weeks. In what was a beautiful continuation of our story of friendship, we were able to celebrate our anniversaries together this year.

It has been 3 years since our little boys went to heaven. And we cannot even imagine what they have been up to. But one thing is for sure: our perspective of life will never be the same.

We were never intended to be, or feel, complete on this earth. The absence of Robbie probably enables us to remember that more so than normal.

Robert said that they are able to feel "homesick" much easier in Lebanon. There, they are surrounded by war-torn buildings, rubble, and threats of war. The world to them is not very appealing. They are simply storing up treasures in heaven.

But here, in our beautiful little town in the United States, it is much harder to long for an eternity elsewhere.

Robert and Chantal joked that they would probably get to see the boys sooner than we would since they lived in the volatile Middle East. Can you imagine having such a perspective??

A few days later, I was able to take Eveley and Caleb to hang out with Chantal and her children over breakfast. That was a sweet time! (Eveley thought Chantal's name was "show-n-tell"!)

Their family has now returned to Beirut. But our time together reminded me that God is the Author of our story. His perspective is the best because He sees the first and the last. Frankly, it is much easier to just surrender and TRUST Him with our future.

I thank the Lord for peeling back the curtains of heaven on occasion and giving us a small glimpse of His masterful plan. It is truly awesome.

[Side Note: my laptop has a virus so I cannot post any pictures right now. But you can see some pictures in the post below and here.]

{Update: So, my friend read about my laptop virus and contacted me this morning offering to help. And it has been healed! Thank you, David! I said a big prayer over this laptop this morning, and it has been answered. Another great reason to blog...}


Monday, August 23, 2010

{Seven} Years of Perfection

Believe it or not, I have been a Mrs. for 7 years today.

As most others do, you may expect me to say, "Seven years ago, I married my best friend." But that would not be totally true. It would be much more accurate to say, "Today, I am married to my best friend."

Don't worry. I am not breaking this news to Bob via the blog. We had this discussion the other night and both agreed that we barely knew each other when we got married, even though we thought we did!

But in fact, we didn't even know the other existed 3 years before our wedding. But we did know that we enjoyed being around each other. And we did believe that God had brought us together to become lifelong partners. So we took the next step and entered the marriage covenant, pledging to love each other for better, for worse, in good times, and in bad.

And so we have.

Today, I truly am married to my best friend. He gets me. He supports me. He loves me. I think he even likes me. He makes me laugh. All the time. Even when I don't want to.

He loves the Lord and is committed to leading our family in His will. He makes me feel secure and protected.

He loves our children with every fiber of his being. I cannot begin to tell you how much this makes me love him! Eveley gets so excited when the weekend rolls around because she knows daddy gets to "stay all day." Just as Robbie did, Eveley and Caleb adore their father.

We celebrated our anniversary in the most amazing way. It was so amazing that I know I will not be able to adequately convey the fabulousness of it all. I will share a few pictures from our celebration and try to pen the full story later this week.

Here's a little hint.

Sweet Nour Hope looks so much like her big brother.

Bigger hint here.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

My Boyfriend

It's true. I have a boyfriend. His name is Craig.

I am addicted to Craigslist. Not even the Craigslist murderer dissuaded me from perusing the ads every day in hopes of finding a treasure. I have already found a few treasures. But this past week was one of the best.

I have slowly been transforming Eveley's bedroom -- deciding on her bedding, color scheme, furniture. It has been a long process. If I had an unlimited budget, this task would have been finished in a weekend. But I have been trying to be thrifty.

The last piece of the puzzle was a dresser for Ev. She has a white vanity dresser that was my great grandmother's. It's very cute but does not have enough space for her crazy wardrobe. So I have been begging Mr. Craig to list the perfect piece for a steal.

And, once again, he did not disappoint.

I had to drive out to Timbuktu, but I found this!

I only had a few rules:

First, it couldn't be too big. My husband refuses to be an accessory to my affair with Craig, so I had to be able to move it myself.

Second, and most importantly, it had to be solid wood. If it's solid wood, I have learned, I can do a lot to improve it without spending a dime!

I brought home my treasure and my hubby was not impressed.

But I reassured him that it would cost us nothing. I already had a quart of white and pink paint left over from a stripe-treatment that I did on Eveley's walls. In fact, I got the pink paint for free from a Glidden intenet promotion.

In just one afternoon, I ended up with this.

Here it is in Eveley's room.

These were the original knobs, and, after I cleaned them up a little, I thought they were perfect.

She said it was gorgeous!!

It's the perfect size for her. Maybe she will even be able to put her own laundry away.

Craig and I are going out again tomorrow!


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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Winding Down

It looks like our summer travels are winding down, and boy did I end it with a bang!

Last week, 3 girlfriends and myself flew to Orlando for the annual MOPS convention. Now, we really love MOPS. But even more, we love girlfriend time at an awesome hotel. We had a fantastic and relaxing trip. While I do not have many photos to show for it (or at least photos that I can publish on my blog), I do have super special memories.

The long weekend included lunch at Wolfgang Puck's, coffee all day long, late night pillow talk, an absolutely fabulous dinner that cost more than Caleb's birth, and an evening swim in the resort's pool (in our clothes). Ha! I felt like I was 18 again.

(the scene of the crime)

The conference workshops were great. I met Bob the tomato (literally). The creator of Veggie Tales spoke on Kids and the Media. He was so informative, but I had a hard time not laughing since he is also the voice of Bob the tomato, Junior Asparagus, and the pirates.

Major love to my super sweet hubby for willingly keeping the kiddies. He was actually looking forward to the extra time with them, which made my heart happy. And the kids did a fabulous job of showing him just how hard my workdays actually are. Thanks guys!

We are getting together with some very special friends next weekend. More on that later.

But in the meantime, I thought I would leave you with some Eveley-isms. Don't want to ever forget these!

* While looking through the advertisements in the Sunday paper, Eveley said: "Please mom. Please. Can we please go to Chucky Jesus?" Umm...

* She also thinks that each morning, I watch "Jesus and Kelly." At least she has Jesus on the brain!

* Eveley believes the correct word is "lasterday" or "lastertime". She will say, "Remember last-er-night when I was a little boy?" Weird on so many levels.

Many more to come...


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Day Trip

I must admit that the busy wedding season took its toll on me. I was absolutely exhausted the day after the wedding and a little out of my mind. I drove away from TN with a sugar hangover and two overly tired munchkins. I left the kids' suitcase and one of their noise machines. But I remembered my box of leftover wedding cake.

Fortunately, Mathers, my cousin from south Alabama, decided she would really like to come and "nanny" for us this summer. I was afraid she may be crazy. But we took her up on this awesome offer, and it has been great. She came back with us after the wedding and has helped me in my attempt to get back to the "normal" routine.

She is from a little town. Tiny. So Bob decided he had to show her some sights while she was staying with us.

Saturday, we took a day trip to DC and had a wonderful time. Although we live pretty close to the capital, I was surprised to realize that we had not been since I was pregnant with Eveley.

I had high hopes of the kids having a marvelous day seeing these national landmarks.

We made one Smithsonian, a carousel, a few hotdog trucks, and about 5 dirt piles. Why do my kids migrate towards dirt??

One of my favorite exhibits is the First Lady hall in the American History museum. As we walked through, I saw our current First Lady's inaugural ballgown and heels on display in a large glass box. The crowd oohed and aahed, but all I could hear was their comments on how big her shoes were. I immediately told Bob he would not be able to become President because I was sure my shoes were bigger than Michelle's.

Each time I visit, I am overwhelmed by the carvings of quotes around the district. This one really took my breath away.

It says:

"Whoever increases knowledge multiplies the uses to which he is able to turn the gift of his Creator." John Q. Adams

Chew on that for a while.

My kids are so cute.

But they were terrible.

This is the new "stink face" of a 3 year old with a major attitude. More on that later...

Have you heard of this place??

It now has its own show on TLC, and I was determined to go and taste what all the fuss was about.

But everybody else and their brother had the same idea. So, I'll have to wait...