Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Way too Fast


Not too long ago, I wrote about not wishing away my life, and how I seem to have a bad habit of constantly looking forward to what's ahead, anticipating the next phase in my life rather than fully enjoying the one I'm in.

All of a sudden, however, I find myself aching with the realization of how fast Jayci is growing up. I swear I blinked and she went from a newborn to a baby. She's holding up her head (with only minimal wobbling), smiling, babbling, cooing, imitating noises and expressions . . . Just this past week or so, she shot from barely filling out her newborn clothes to bursting at the seams in her 0-3 month old outfits. Out of nowhere, she stiffens her legs in an effort to stand ALL the time. Once up, she wobbles madly and grins widely at her accomplishment.

As we were visiting our family in Michigan, Adam and I were enjoying changing Jayci into her jammies, getting her ready for bed, and basically acting like idiots in an attempt to get her to smile and babble. Because my aunt, who is an extremely knowledgeable and intelligent physical therapist, informed us that she should be getting 45 minutes of tummy-time every day (45 minutes! Every day! She's lucky to make it five minutes on her tummy before panicking and grunting/farting from the strain of lifting her head, and then wailing loudly) Despite the lack of love for tummy time, we dutifully flipped her cute little self onto her tummy, only to watch her flip herself right back over and then grin up at us with satisfaction and pride.

I mean seriously, it's too much, too soon! How did she grow up so fast? And how in the world do I find that all-important balance between looking ahead and longing for the past? I don't want to miss one minute of the journey of motherhood, and I don't want to fly through any stage without stopping to savor the truths that God wants to teach me through them.

Watching Jayci learn new things and delight in people, in discovery, and in life is teaching me to do the same. To grin at those who catch my eye. To stand on my own, no matter how much I might wobble. To work and work at those tasks I long to accomplish - knowing that despite the pain and anguish, and all the straining, it's totally worth it in that moment - the one when I flip the corner and grin at the world, knowing that I've overcome even the most insurmountable of tasks.

So my prayer (and my resolution) for the new year is that I would find that balance, that I would live fully in the present. That I will enjoy being a mother and a wife, and serving the kids downtown, not looking too anxiously ahead or dwelling too deeply on the past. That I will control my thoughts and focus them above, being sure not to miss one minute of what God has planned for me in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Festivities

We just got home from Michigan (where it is Cold! So very Cold!) I have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live in Grand Rapids, and several other relatives who were visiting Michigan at the same time as us. Although the circumstances were sad (we were there to visit my oma and say good bye), it was nevertheless a fun trip overall. I was surprised by how big and grownup my cousins are, and how much fun my family is! (who knew?!) haha
Jayci was (of course) the star of the show, and she traveled like a champ. She slept both ways on the planes, and probably only cried once or twice the ENTIRE trip -- not bad for a three month old right? Of course, all the traveling, holding, feeding at any time, sleeping not at all, and more has wreaked havoc on her schedule and I will need to now be diligent in working on getting her to sleep through the night again (she was doing so well!) and feeding at more normal intervals throughout the day (no more snacking!)

I hope you all also had a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Eve of Christmas

I sat in church today and watched my sweet baby girl sleep peacefully in my husband's arms as we sang Silent Night. Slowly my heart squeezed with the realization that our Savior and Creator came to earth as a baby. Sweet, beautiful and precious - but also helpless. Mary rocked Him to sleep, changed Him when He was wet or dirty, fed Him and washed Him. What a gift it is to hold my own baby and be offered a small glimpse into the sacrifice and love God showed us on a silent night so long ago.

Having Jayci here this year completely changed Christmas. Not the meaning behind it of course, but my understanding of that meaning. A sweetness and tenderness has sneaked in, even in the midst of the holiday busyness and bustle. This year, I cannot help but delight in the way which our heavenly Father looks on each of us with the same tenderness I bestow on Jayci. He calls me 'daughter' because His true Son came to earth as a tiny, perfect baby who lived a sinless life and died a horrible death - all so that we can experience the forgiveness and love of a perfect heavenly Father.

I am blown away by His goodness and the miracle of that Silent Night. So I pray that THIS silent night over 2000 years later, you might also be touched deeply by the gift our Father sent us in a beautiful, tiny little baby who saves all those who believe in Him.

Merry Christmas from the Stanleys -- we love you all very much!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Inner-City Ministry with Kids Isn't for the Faint of Heart

Actual comments made to me this week by kids I work with:

"Are you pregnant again?"

"That shirt makes you look fat"

"You got a big old nose"

"Why do you walk so funny like that?"

"Look at you, trying to wear that skinny belt around your waist" (followed by hysterical laughter)

"You don't look like you sister. She's way prettier than you."

I'm not sure whether these comments are a result of cultural differences, a lack of filter, defense mechanisms, or truth (I mean, I don't have the smallest nose in the world . . .) But they point clearly to the fact that I don't do what I do on my own strength.

I am one of the most insecure people I know - always worried about how I look, what people think etc. The insecurity is probably a result of all the teasing I endured growing up (and still do apparently). But that's another post (or novel) for another day. I am the last person who anyone (including me) would ever expect to work with kids who belittle and blurt out insensitive comments on a daily basis. But the truth? It's not ME who is working with my kiddos -- It's Christ in me. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the fact that I am able to face these comments head on, take them with a grain of salt, and continue to love the kids despite their (and my) shortcomings.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jayci's First Laugh


Today is my 24th birthday. As it turns out, birthdays really aren't as exciting when you're all grown up. However, I did get the best birthday present ever from my sweet baby girl -- she laughed for the first time (a real, giggly, laugh - not just a grin with a little cooing mixed in!) Even better? I was trying to get her to smile for the camera when she started laughing -- so I was able to capture it!

One of the Many Reasons We Love Mentoring

In the course of spending a lot (LOTS!) of time with all the kids downtown, Adam and I have come to realize that mentoring is really the best way to make a difference in their lives. In fact, together with Metro Kidz, Adam has launched a mentoring program for Vision Atlanta. So far, there are 4 kids being mentored by former counselors.

After church on Sunday, we went out for lunch with one of these mentors (Arielle), the girl she is mentoring (Arnesha), and the girl's two brothers. Arnesha is twelve, but looks at least sixteen. She spends most of her time taking care of her two youngest brothers who are two and three years old. Sitting there watching Arnesha talk to Arielle, grinning and giggling shyly, I was struck by the thought that this mentoring thing really works!

Of course, we DID already know that. Why else would we be leaving a full-time, steady job to cultivate the mentoring program? (oh yeah, have I mentioned that yet?) Adam and I are so passionate about mentoring for so many reasons. We love (LOVE!) camp, but also know that one week every summer is not necessarily enough to create lasting change that can be sustained in an environment that is difficult to say the least. That's why Adam is starting/developing the mentoring program as a follow-up to camp.

For many of these kids, one of the biggest obstacles they face is a decided lack of positive role models. The females they see are usually young, single, unemployed mothers living off welfare. The males they encounter are mostly drug dealers and absent fathers. As a result, these kids don't know any other way to grow up. They can't see the possibilities, they don't recognize their potential. Many times all they need is someone to point out another way of living, and someone who will support them and guide them towards a new destination: one that doesn't involve drugs, violence or welfare.

Adam has been mentoring Saviour (aka Sabo - I've told you about him before). Just a few weeks ago, I was struck by how far he has come since we first met him. You want to know why? Don't worry, I'll tell you . . . but this post is already entirely too long and I'm all 'written out' for today. Hopefully tomorrow fresh eyes and words will make it easier for me to tell the story in a way that doesn't involve entirely too many details and rambling side notes and boring, unnecessary information like this post is starting to have . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Come on in and Merry Christmas!

Hello! And welcome to our humble home! I decided to take part in BooMama's Holiday Tour of Homes this year - I hope you enjoy your visit!
BooMamaChristmasTour
Here's our front door -- I just now noticed from the picture that our lights are falling around the window . . . . nice. Just keeping it real here.
When you walk in the door, here's what you see - our little entry table all decked out for the season. And here's our 8.5 foot tree, and our mantel all decorated and festive. Luckily, it only fell once, and that was when there were no ornaments on it - so far so good!
In case you couldn't tell, I like to keep the JOY in our holidays around here :-)This is from forever ago, I got it somewhere at an after-Christmas sale (the best way to shop!)
Adam's grandmother made us these stockings -- they're not my usual style, but I love them for the time she put into them and for their sentimental value :-)

Now, I'd offer you some refreshments - but Adam and I just polished off our huge can of hot chocolate mix, and I'm not much of a cook (ok not at all actually)

However, I do have a FANCY recipe for you (I bring it to every party where I have to bring a dish and everyone loves it) I like to call it "heaven on a chip" (or cheesy corn dip)

Now pay close attention because it's a little tricky:
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
2 cans mexicorn
Mix the ingredients with just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together, put it in a casserole dish and pop it in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes -- and voila -- cheesy, corn-y goodness!

And finally, my favorite little addition to our home this year - Jayci, all decked out in her party dress and fancy french hat.

Thanks for coming by! If you haven't yet, head over to BooMama's place and enjoy the holiday decor/fun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Halls are Decked

Thanks to my parents, Adam and I were able to get a nice, big REAL tree this year. They gave us their free tree from Berry Patch Farms. So we bundled Jayci up (in a blue fuzzy snowsuit-thing, which caused everyone to exclaim: "He is so cute, what an adorable little boy!" Whatever.)

In an effort to be good stewards, we picked the biggest, most expensive tree they had, which was a whopping 8.5 ft tall and would have cost us $100.

We (and by "we" I mean Adam) dragged the giant tree inside, chopped off the top to make it fit in our house, and stood it up. We left it there so the branches would settle before decorating it (also, because at this point we were too tired from all the dragging to actually put lights on or other such nonsense.)

We managed to put off the decorating all night, and left the tree while we went to church the next morning. When we got back from church, Adam brought Jayci inside while I gathered various and sundry items from the car. When I got inside, I gasped and Adam asked "what?" Apparently, he had somehow failed to notice that our 8.5 foot tree was now laying across our living room floor, broken branches, dropped pine needles, and our entire mantel display, strewn in its wake.

Finally, we were able to get the tree back up, more securely anchored, and decorated - just in time for Christmas. Oh I kid, but seriously - it was a task. But it was so worth it! I just love Christmas and seeing the tree lit up every night, not to mention inhaling its amazing scent, is such a treat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

I decided to join in on Conversion Diary's fun and create my own 7 Quick Takes Friday (because 7 random thoughts are obviously easier to come by than one full one these days . . . )

1. Clearly, jalapenos are from the devil (why else would they make little Jayci scream bloody murder??!) . . . next time someone needs to seriously shoot me before letting me eat one bite containing anything even resembling one of those little monsters! Which is unfortunate, because I do love the spicy Mexican fare.

2. About 3 weeks ago, Adam and I bought a very large can of powdered hot chocolate mix from BJ's. So large, in fact, that big red letters on the label declare it "perfect for offices and day care." It may or may not be 2/3 gone already . . .

3. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow - I love visiting our kids downtown, and then we get to go cut our own Christmas tree (for free! thanks mom and dad!), and then I get to watch the Florida/Alabama game - and I do love me some college football.

4. I seriously LOVE Christmas time: The smells (pumpkin pie, apple cider, Christmas trees - what could be better?!), the music, the movies, the decorations . . . Honestly, I can't think of many things I love more than this time of the year. We've started decorating our house a little already and hopefully we will get the rest of it finished this weekend. I'm much further behind on my Christmas shopping than usual - but I'm chalking that up to being a new mom and how much harder the shopping is with a little one who tends to scream loudly every time I put her in her car seat.


5. Since Jayci's swing is making sounds resembling a dying cat, and it doesn't exactly swing anymore, I'm guessing it needs new batteries. Now this seems entirely impossible considering how recently we put in brand new D batteries (4 of them!) For those of you who don't know, batteries are a little expensive. However, the expense is well worth a few minutes of peace while Jayci enjoys the soothing nature sounds and spinning creatures. But considering the number of batteries her swing eats up, Adam and I have decided that the baby swing makers are clearly in cahoots with the battery companies. Why else would a large, stationary object be battery operated rather than plugged in?! (I mean, other than safety issues or other such nonsense)

6. Adam and I have some pretty exciting, rather large changes coming soon in our life (and no we're not pregnant again -- that wouldn't be exciting at this moment)I don't really want to say a lot about it yet, but I'd love your prayers and support as we step out in faith and follow the Lord's leading in our lives.

7. This is seriously the creepiest toy ever made. . . Why would anyone ever think this was a good idea? (I mean, I know I have a bird phobia - but does anyone NOT think this is creepy?) It actually kind of makes me shudder just looking at it.

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