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Monday, October 31, 2011

Labor Not in Vain

Every year around this time, my heart begins to long (even more so than it already does) for my East Texas trips with my mom, the smell of her creme brulee lit candles, my nana's Thanksgiving dinner and her good company...hearing the Sallee boys' hunting stories and seeing the excitement in their rides with no destination in mind, just the chance to catch up with the best of decorations from my childhood...and the leaves.  Oh, the leaves. A plethora of trees display a sea of autumn foliage. Oh, how I miss I want my boys to experience some of these same be able to see their grandparents whenever their little hearts' desire.

This is when ministry gets tough.  But not just ministry. I think of all the vocations that God calls people into and the answer of obedience that takes them far and wide and out of their comfort zone.  I am reminded of Luke 14:26 : "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple." Obviously Jesus isn't saying that we should hate our parents, children or siblings. He is making the point that His followers must be willing to place His will for their lives above even the people and things most precious to them. This is where "bloom where you are planted" takes on a whole new meaning. Let's just be honest: we don't always like the season, or the weather, or the dirt in which we are planted.  We especially do not enjoy some of the weeds growing around us that threaten to choke the life out of us. But let this verse serve as a reminder that we should persevere: "...but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles;they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint." (Isaiah 40:31) doesn't say "shall run and not be weary if circumstances are favorable". 

So how do we "run and not be weary" when all hope seems lost? I know for myself that it helps immensely to cling to this verse: "Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."( 1 Corinthians 15:58)...IN THE LORD YOUR LABOR IS NOT IN VAIN! This should be the cry of our hearts amidst dark hours and troubled times, when anxiety, loneliness, and fear cloud out all hope...that the Lord is sovereign in ALL things. And who knows how He is using our trials to display His glory and advance His kingdom? Often we can't see this until we are through the valley and on top of the hill.  But one thing I do know and can always see is that God is love and He is with me.  And I can always find joy in Him and His ever present blessings that surround me.  Blessings that come in the form of two precious grins and one handsome soul mate. And when I look into the eye's of my blessings, I am reminded of the importance to make sweet memories right where I am.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Elijah Neal {7 months}

Our Eli (knuckles) turned 7 months on Sunday.  Yes, I realize that I am a few days late on this post but I have a good excuse.  About two weeks ago, Eli's army crawl evolved into a full-fledge crawl.  He is everywhere! And not only is he crawling, he is also pulling up on everything. EVERYTHING! This was not suppose do happen this fast.  I am amazed at just how much having an older sibling has advanced him. It's monkey-see-monkey-do around here now.  Eli wants to be right where Josiah is and doing what Josiah is doing and playing with the toy that Josiah is playing with. Mommy is a little overwhelmed. But I must add that Josiah has started to embrace the big brother role a little more than he was.  I witnessed Josiah putting his pacifier in Eli's mouth just the other day...melted my heart! He has even started snuggling more...and it's not the rough snuggle or the "kiss Eli then hit him on the head to prove that he's still tough"'s actually a sweet snuggle. But don't get me wrong, he still has his "moments".

Here are some more milestones that Eli has reached this month:

1. His first two bottom teeth broke through
2. He started saying "mamamamamama'' and "bubbababubba"
3. He is doing much much better with baby food now
4. He weighs 21 pounds! yes, you read that right!
5. He is in a size 4 diaper
6. And now that he is very mobile, don't even think about putting him in the exersaucer!

Here's some pics:

Monday, October 17, 2011

October Randomness

This month is flying by! That probably has something to do with the fact that we have been keeping pretty busy. Needless to say, I'm behind on blogging.  So, I'm going to take the lazy way out and do a little updating by posting a bunch of random pictures from this month.

So, this is what we have been up to:

1) lots of playing on the floor with daddy...this floor playing inevitably turns into wrestling...and now that Eli is crawling (yes, crawling already!), daddy is a bit outnumbered! Oh, and don't let the cute little guy fool you...he goes for the face! And don't even get me started on Josiah...he is ALL boy and fights dirty!

2) We took the youth group to see Third Day in Wichita Falls.  It was an amazing night of worship. Plus, it was mine and Jordan's first outing without the boys in a VERY long time. 

...let me point out, that I have no idea what is going on with my hair in this pic...

3) The boys got to play with "the cousins" too.  That is always a treat!

4) Eli experienced his first hotel stay in Arlington. Josiah stayed the night with Uncle Bubba, Auntie Lou, Jeremiah, SaraBeth, EllaGrace and Micah.(I didn't get any pics of that...oh foot...)

5)We attended the Youth Conclave Conference in Arlington.

6) On our way back to Vernon, we broke our trip in Bowie, to stay with grandmommy and papa...Josiah likes grandmommy's house shoes. 

7) He also likes swinging with grandmommy.

8) Back at home, the boys are really starting to interact with each other.  It goes something like this...Eli grabs Josiah's toy. Josiah grabs it back. Eli takes it again. Josiah hits Eli on the head and runs off with his toy.  And so it begins....

9) We have discovered the joy of play dates.  Josiah's buddy, Connor, comes and plays with him while I work out with Stefanie. And Jordan works great! haha

10) Hunting season is in full swing. Jordan gets up super early.  He hasn't killed a deer yet, but he never comes home empty handed.  Let me just say that Josiah now thinks that every white box contains donuts and kolaches.

11) Did I mention that Eli is crawling now? Yes? Well, it bears repeating.  Eli is crawling! Everywhere!

His two bottom teeth finally broke through as well! Is it possible for a child to teeth for one whole month? Maybe it just feels like it took that long...

 12) There has been a lot of lego building going on around here.  Let me rephrase: Mommy has been doing a lot of lego building around here.  It's so much fun.  Until a little two year old comes along and wrecks my world! No seriously...he destroyed the following about 3 minutes after I finished. 

13) Josiah discovered the fun of coloring on Eli's head.

14) Josiah hasn't discovered the art of sharing. Right after I took this picture, Josiah whacked Eli on the head for taking his block. 

.......Eli took it very well. And he got to keep the block. 

15)...and more lego building.  I was proud of this one.  Josiah wasn't.  He destroyed this one right after I took the picture.  

16) And last night we had our annual youth pumpkin' carving.  It was a blast!

...and this sweet girl LOVES carrying my boys around! Eventhough Eli weighs almost half of what she does and Josiah only about 12 pounds less!  Seriously, Eli weighs 21 pounds...Josiah weighs 33 pounds...and this sweet dear weighs like 45 pounds! She is crazy strong!

Okay, I'm done.  Thanks for reading! : )

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Unconditional Love

Wikipedia defines unconditional love as loving someone regardless of the loved one's qualities or actions. I am finding in my own life that it is one thing to say that you love someone uncondionally and another to actually live it out.  Love is more than just saying that you love. 

This is what unconditional love looks like in my life...

...saying yes to my husband when he asks if he can go hunting on a Tuesday when he was gone all day that Monday for school.
...having patience with Josiah when he has trouble communicating what he wants and gets mad and starts throwing things when I don't understand.
...gently rocking Eli back to sleep when he wakes up at 2 am, 3 am, 4 am, and 5 am because he is teething and his gums hurt. 

I could go on and on and on. Unconditional love can manifest itself in so many different ways.  How do you respond when situations arise in which you are given the opportunity to show and give love to someone despite their qualities, actions, behavior and so forth? I'll even take it a step further...How do you respond to the call to love others uncondionally when you don't feel loved yourself or things just haven't been going your way?

I can only speak for myself and say that I often put my own wants and needs above the call to serve others and love them uncondionally. It is especially hard to show and give uncondional love when I myself feel run down and at my wits end.  The events and happening of this past week are all too fresh on my mind.  It seems like it has just been one thing after another.  I will not mention everything but here is a little glimpse at what has been rocking my world (in a not so great way)...

...I had Josiah evaluated and it turns out that he has a major speech delay. This left me worried and full of questions. How could I let this happen? What did I do wrong during the pregnancy? Did having him vaccinated cause this? I though I had given him the best start.  I breastfed...I made homemade baby food...I read to him...I talked to him contantly.

...Eli got ahold of my cell phone, slobbered all over it, and now it won't turn on. 

...and countless other little happenings that just kept building up and up.

I started being not so loving to my loved ones.  How could I show them uncondional love when the world was turning against me?

This morning the Lord answered that question for me.  I really needed to seek the Lord out in scripture but the boys just wouldn't allow it.  So I loaded them up in the stroller for a walk.  While walking, I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I gave it all over to the Lord and he lifted my burdens and renewed my spirit.  He whispered in my ear the greatest story ever known of uncondional he had made the ultimate sacrifice for a worthless He did so despite how the world treated that not the ultimate example of uncondional love?

All I can say is thank you Lord for loving me unconditionally and giving me the opportunity to show others a fraction of that love...Lord, seek me out when I don't run immediately into your arms for renewal. Remind me of Your uncondional love for me so that I can see them, the way that You see need of a need of love.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Embracing Sanctification {2}

Confession.  I am probably one of the most organized/tidy people I have ever known.  Not so bad to the point that I would consider it a sickness, but bad enough that I struggle to think straight when things are chaotic and unorganized. I didn't realize how much of a problem this was for me until I got married....and especially with each baby born.

You may be wondering why being neat and organized is a problem...It becomes a problem, like in my case, when so much of your energy and time goes into cleaning to the point that other things get neglected.  Whereas some people neglect housework/chores in order to do other things, I am the opposite.  I cannot tell you how many times I have found myself cleaning instead of taking care of something else that needed to be quiet time, a much needed nap, playtime with the boys, time in prayer, giving my husband my undivided attention, etc. 

This has been an area of constant prayer for me and I am finally starting to see some results.  It has been a slow process, but it takes time to purge oneself of old habits.  And it takes even longer when one tries to do it himself, without help from above.  It wasn't until I started seeking the Lord's help in this area that I started to see positive results.  Now I can walk into the living room with toys scattered from one wall to the next, and instead of trying to clean up, I find myself a seat on the floor and start playing with the boys...and I can do so without thinking about all the household chores that need to be done.  Do I still consider them important? absolutely.  But I'll always have a house to clean (Lord willing). I know that one day, I will no longer hear the pitter-patter of my boys' little feet against this old wooden see, these little "blessings" will only be under my wings for a season that is day I want to be able to sweep the floor while thinking of all the memories that I made with my children.  How depressing to be stuck holding a broom while thinking about all the times I put housework above spending time with them.

"I’m remembering with a strange sadness a woman standing amidst the floral memorials of her mother’s funeral, reflecting on her mother’s far-and-wide reputation for the important stuff of bleach and immaculate housekeeping." (Ann Voskamp)

I do not want to be that woman that Ann describes above, with her children at her funeral reflecting on her housekeeping skills.  I want them to be able to reflect on all the wonderful memories we made together....memories that required big messes to be made...and stains...and dirt...and mud...when it comes to boys, don't these things make the best memories? They do with mine anyway. 

Yes, having a clean and organized house is important. It makes the household run so much smoother.  But the exact opposite is true also.  If I spend all of my time trying to keep it that way, this household is not going to be very happy.  Why? Because I will be spending all my time cleaning instead of living....I will be nagging my husband or my boys about little messes that really aren't that big of a deal. And we all know what the bible says about a nagging wife, don't we?

Proverbs 21:9
Better to live on the corner of a roof than to share a house with a nagging wife.
Proverbs 21:19
Better to live in a wilderness than with a nagging and hot-tempered wife.
Proverbs 27:15
An endless dripping on a rainy day and a nagging wife are alike.

I don't know about you, but I do know that I don't want my husband or my children to think about me that way!

So I'm going to keep praying about this and remembering that loving well is so much more important than cleaning well.  I'm pretty sure that the Lord cares more about the relationships I nurture far more than he cares about how clean I keep my house.

If you are reading this and you are also trying to find this balance, drop me a line and we can begin praying for each other.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, October 1, 2011

Saturday Morning {Josiah}

When I found Josiah behind the couch this morning, playing with his "babies" in the windowsill, I had to grab the camera.  These moments are so precious and I know that one day I'm going to miss finding him and his little toys in random spots all over the house.  Here is his morning in pictures: