Tuesday, August 19, 2014

sometimes God answers no when i pray

"sometimes God answers 'yes' when I pray,
sometimes God answers 'wait' when I pray,
sometimes God answers 'no,' just because He loves me so,
but I know God always answers when I pray"

I remember signing this verse in children's church, and today, 25 years later, I still find myself humming the tune and singing the lyrics.

When I pray with faithfulness, with an expectant heart, with an eager spirit, I often misinterpret a "not right now" or "not at all" for God not hearing my prayers.

when a diagnosis is confirmed,
when a heart hurts,
when His timing is not my own,
when farewell is uttered,
when a door closes,
when a job fails,
when a storm devastates,

God is still God.
He is still reigning on His throne.
The Creator of the universe still knows my name.
The Almighty still holds my life in His hands.

If he had answered yes to one very strong, very purposeful prayer.
A prayer that was uttered just over two years ago.
A prayer where we begged and pleaded and petitioned for our son to come into this world without Down Syndrome.
We wouldn't be us.
And I just cannot fathom how that could be.

His ways are better.
His grasp is stronger.
His thoughts are higher.
His love is greater.
His plan is bigger.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

I cannot refuse peanut butter in any form -
spooned onto a banana, blended into a shake, whipped into a pie, spread onto a warm waffle, or baked into cookies -
I am powerless to its creamy, crunchy goodness.
These Three Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies have won our hearts and there's no turning back.

They are easy peasy and super delicious!
Shopping List
1 cup peanut butter (we use Jif Natural)
1 cup sugar
I egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine peanut butter, sugar, and egg.
Mix thoroughly.
Spoon by rounded teaspoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake for 9-11 minutes.
Let cool.
PS - Baker suggests dunking them in milk.
What can I say, the boy's a genius!

We also like these variations.

Nutella Delight
1/2 cup Peanut Butter + 1/2 cup Nutella + 1 cup of sugar + 1 egg

Candy Bar Cookies
Add in 1/2 Cup of favorite candy bar/candies (imagine the possibilities - chopped M&Ms, Heath bar bits, Reese cups, Reese Pieces, Skor bar)

I cannot wait to send these yummy treats with Baker as a back to school teacher treat with this cute printable!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Birthday Bucket List - A Check Up

I am almost nine months into this being twenty-nine thing.
It's neither here nor there that I am also closer to thirty years old than I have ever been in my whole entire life.

In true Type A, crazy planner, over the top, Jenn Bell form, I am revisiting my list to see where I stand.
I will cross out and add links and/or pictures to anything I have checked off, italicize anything in progress, and leave undone those not yet addressed.

This is the original post from November 29.
In honor of my twenty-ninth birthday, my very last year as a twenty-something, before hitting the big 3-0, I am making a birthday bucket list.
A list of things I want to accomplish in what God promises to be a year full of even more than I could ever ask or imagine.
So, why not?

One. Spend an entire weekend free of social media - no blogging, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no messaging, not even any Googling. Just me and my boys. We live in a world that says, "If you don't _______ (fill in the blank - tweet about it, take a picture of it, post about it), then it never happened." Well, shucks. I'm proving that way wrong.
Two. Take off a day of work to volunteer at Baker's school. Here's to shucking my teacher badge for a whole day and wearing my mommy hat. Yippee skippy.
I even convinced Brian to join the fun! We rendezvoused for a fun breakfast date and then spent a fabulous Friday being Baker's mommy and daddy. We even got to serve at the Gene Stalling's golf tournament, and took advantage of a priceless photo op. We had so much fun we're already planning this in the upcoming year....when we're thirty. Womp. Womp. Womp.
Three. Buy a stranger's lunch.
 It was actually dinner. See here. While this one is technically accomplished, I will strive to do this over and over. Because it is way fun!
Four. Watch a sunrise. Watch a sunset.
For once, I let the snooze button sleep in. Totally worth it. Totally.
Five. Read a just for fun book. Read a devotional. Read a how-to book.

Love Does by Bob Goff
A Simple Act of Gratitude by John Kralik
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver
The Pioneer Woman Cooks - Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond
For others, see my Summer Reading List
 Six. Share the gospel with twelve people. Ten seems too predictable, thirteen seems way scary.
Seven. Send an I'm thinking about you happy note to at least one person every week.

This is one of my favorite parts of each week - sitting down with my favorite pen and stationary, fancy address stamp, and sending happy thoughts to those I hold most dear.
Eight. Go on a fancy date with my husband once a month. Here's to high heels, and bright lipstick, and big hair, and dazzling, and wooing, and falling all over in love.

I love this one being ongoing. I think we'll promise to do this once a month for all the months of the rest of our forever.  
Nine. Do at least eight spontaneous somethings - plan a vacation and leave in the same hour, eat something new off the menu at my favorite restaurant, make an unplanned purchase.

This is hard for a planner. Super duper hard.
Trip to Chattanooga. We transferred Baker from his crib to the car and hit the road for a fun-filled day trip!

A date with my biggest love on a school night. Talk about living on the edge!
Does an unplanned hospital vacation count?
This. A daddy and his boy and a favorite fishing hole. I am realizing that some of life's most precious moments are the ones I can't perfectly orchestrate.
Four words. Impromptu. Ice. Cream. Date.


 Ten. Train for and run a race. It's neither here nor there that I failed to acknowledge the length of the race. We'll see.

I bought a new pair of tennis shoes and running socks. They look really cute with my leggings. That's all I know for now. Baby steps, y'all.
Eleven. Adopt a child from World Vision. I have wanted to do this since Baker was born. While I think it would be perfectly fine to choose any child, I want a boy or girl who shares Baker's birthday. Each year, as we plan his party, we will also help this new friend celebrate the day of his or her birth. Birthdays are special, and should be celebrated as such.
Twelve. Get something waxed. Never have I ever, ever had any part of my body waxed. And as an almost thirty year old, I think it's a rite of passage.
"L'7 Weenie!
Yeah, yeah, Oscar Meyer even, footlong, dodger dog, a weenie!"
Sandlot, anyone?
Thirteen. Learn how to change a flat tire. Learn something new. Or at least how to pop my hood. Being married to a Mr. Fix It, I need to know none of these things. I think, as a woman of age, I should be educated.
This summer, I assembled a new desk, with tools and without my husband. And it functions. Perfectly. Don't miss those key details. And, for the record, I now know how to pop my hood. Boom. Maybe that will make oil changes slightly less embarrassing.
Forget the rest. As an almost thirty year old, I will delegate the rest. Smart women "of age" know their limits, and know when to sit back and let someone else do the dirty work.
Fourteen. Go to an Alabama football game outside of Bryant Denny Stadium. I have been to my fair share of home games, but it's high time I visit some of these non-championship winning SEC stadiums. Roll Tide, y'all.
Fifteen. Plant a garden with Baker. Grow fruits and vegetables. Eat them, cook with them, share them. Enjoy this. The dirt digging, and fingernail cleaning, and seed planting, and soil watering, and plant sprouting amazing process of things growing from the ground.
Blueberry growing, Blueberry picking. Blueberry eating. That, my friends, is how it's done.
Sixteen. Go to a movie. Buy a huge drink and a big bucket of popcorn. With lots of butter and zero regrets.
Seventeen. Kiss my husband in four different states.

Tennessee. Boom.
Florida. Bow Chicka Wow Wow Chicka Wow Wow
Alabama. Duh.
Mississippi. Check.

I'm okay with being an overachiever here. You know, for the purposes of this bucket list.

Eighteen. Go to the beach. Build sandcastles, keep Baker up way past his bedtime to experience the thrill of hunting crabs by flashlight, go on a dolphin cruise, take cheesy beach pictures in coordinating outfits, get airbrushed t-shirts made to commemorate the event.

Nineteen. Go to a concert. Preferably one that involves the outdoors and cowboy boots.
Preferably Garth Brooks. Consider this my current mission.

Twenty. Sit down in chair at the salon, sans pictures, sans specific instructions with pointing and measuring, and all the details of how I want my hair cut and styled, and say only, "Go."

Eeeekkk. That one took a lot out of me.

Twenty-one. Buy a fancy bottle of wine. No fancy occasion required.

Twenty-two. Do a service project with Brian and Baker. I'm still praying about how this looks for us.

Twenty-three. Take a photography class.

Twenty-four. Join the Be the Match registry.

Twenty-five. Go on a girl's trip. Only friends. No children. No husbands. Tons of belly-aching laughter, inside joke sharing, memory making fun.

The best. No pictures allowed. What happens on a girl's trip stays on a girl's trip.

Twenty-six. Teach Baker the simple joy of cooking. Pancake batter head to toe, chocolate chips strewn haphazardly across the counter, syrup sticking to every surface. Yes, I think we will start with chocolate chip pancakes.

Twenty-seven. Test drive an impractical car. I envision something with only two doors, no top, great speakers, faster than law allows, music blaring.

Twenty-eight. Go to an amusement park. Ride roller coasters, eat funnel cakes, buy the expensive souvenir pictures.

Twenty-nine. Live intentionally. Love each day. Cherish those most dear. Be purposeful. Spread joy. Smell flowers. Read books. Hand write notes. Sing loudly. Skip in the street. Smile. Play board games. Walk barefooted in wet grass. Swing. Make homemade bread. Pick pecans.

I want this to be my purpose every single day. I am working on living a life with less clutter and more meaning.

Here's to a year of life loving, double dare taking, memory making, dreams coming true.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Down Syndrome, for what?

I've traded my summer reading of "Where'd You Go, Bernadette," and sunscreen labels, and "Must Make Recipes of Summer" and "How to Survive the Beach with a Toddler in Tow" in exchange for professional development materials. But I'm still clutching this Word like my entire life depends on it.
And it does.
Today my reading was not new. It was very familiar. But I read it with new eyes. I read it with a renewed spirit. I read it with hope.

"As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

"Neither this man nor his parents sinned, said Jesus, "but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him."

John 9:1-3

I sometimes change the words. I don't think He minds. I change a few names, conditions, and even the tenses. But the last part always remains. Baker was born with Down Syndrome "so that the works of God might be displayed in him."


and this

and this, too

"so that the works of God might be displayed in him.

And they are. Every single day.

Through his dancing, his winking, his finger pulling, his joy so infectious, his laugh so contagious. His whole body points to the greatness and faithfulness of my Jesus.

What did God make so uniquely you to display his greatness? What doors has He closed and which others has He propelled you through to evidence His goodness.

Is it your job? Your relationship status? Your different ability? Your career? Your gains? Your losses? Your talents? Your gifts? Your hurts? Your fears? Your parenting style? Your voice?

Whatever you are, wherever you are, be you "so the works of God might be displayed in you." 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Five on Friday

Happy Friday, friends!
We have had the best week!
We are still reeling from a fun day yesterday.
This week has been all about soaking up the last few minutes of summertime,
and squeezing in a few necessary appointments.
Baker and I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
I love to bake, and I love to bake with Baker!
Fitting, huh?
One of our favorites are Muddy Buddies (or any variation of Chex Mix),
and sampling as we go is an absolute must!
Research has proven, the more chocolate and peanut butter on your face, the better they are. True Story.

These two boys, y'all.
There's something about a boy in a backwards cap that makes me go weak in the knees.
And these two do it better than anyone else.

Baker visited our family dentist and a new specialist at Children's Hospital this week.
Both visits went really well!

Croutons and milk. The snack of champions.

My sleeping baby.
My most favorite part of summer has been rocking Baker for his afternoon naps and sneaking a peek at him while he sleeps. I am going to miss these long summer days when school starts back on Monday.
This summer has been the very best!
I love my job, and I love that my job allows me summers at home with my family.
Here's to great memories of a fabulous summer and the anticipation of an exciting school year!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nick's Kids (the day Baker met Coach Nick Saban)

A few weeks ago I wrote a post titled "I never knew I wanted a child with Down Syndrome until I had one."

Today, we had the amazing opportunity to attend Nick's Kids. Nick Saban and his wife, Mrs. Terry, hosted a fabulous event in The Zone (at Bryant Denny Stadium). It was truly first class. A huge, huge thank you to the director of Rise for inviting us. What an incredible honor to be there among such greatness.

You may also remember me posting about the day Baker got to meet former Alabama Head Coach, Gene Stallings. You can read it here (and see a pretty adorable picture of Baker and Coach Stallings).

Of the many reasons I have to be thankful for Baker's different ability, none are that our family has the opportunity to meet famous Alabama Head (and former Head) Coaches; but one is because I get to see a side of them many of their fans never do.

I get to see their hearts.

The world knows them for their wins, for their football expertise, for their recruiting classes, for their conference and National Championships, for their fame.

Me, I know them for their compassion.

"...you will know them by their love." John 13:34-5



He was enamored at the field.
It was beautiful, albeit slightly more peaceful than any given Saturday in the fall.
When we got home, Baker refused to part with his hat autographed by Coach Saban.
I love you big, my sweet little Bama boy.

Most Gracious Heavenly Father,

My heart overflows.

Brian and I have so many reasons to give thanks with grateful hearts. Thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for burdening the hearts of others, and giving us the opportunity to be recipients of their love. Thank you for the generosity of the Saban family. Thank you for letting me see others through your eyes. Thank you for the gift of Baker and the other children in the room with us today. What a blessing each of their lives represent. Thank you for making them fearfully and wonderfully. Every good and perfect gift is from you.

You tell us when the words won't come, that you will intercede for us through wordless groans. I beg you, do that for me now. Although rare, I have no words. They have escaped me. I can simply smile a grateful smile, as tears bound.

My heart truly overflows.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Happy Anniversary!

On this day, seven years ago,
on the twenty-eighth day of the seventh month of the year,
shortly after seven o'clock in the evening,
I said "I do, and I forever will"
to the man who makes me a better me.

He is my heart's desire,
the one my soul loves,
my through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, 'til death do us part.
He is my person.
Today and always.
As we were driving home from a day date to celebrate all things us,
the words to a favorite Steven Curtis Chapman song came to mind.
I Will be Here
"Tomorrow morning if you wake up
And the future is unclear
 I will be here
As sure as seasons are made for change
Our lifetimes are made for years
So I will be here

I will be here
And you can cry on my shoulder
When the mirror tells us we're older
I will hold you
And I will be here
To watch you grow in beauty
And tell you all the things you are to me
I will be here,

I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me."
When we were dating, Brian sang this to me.
It was Track 4 on a CD he made me and I'll carry it forever and always
(tucked right next to a pretty stellar compilation of jams deemed worthy of my
Bachelorette party).
College mixed tapes have since been replaced with
Praise and Worship for Toddlers and (the dreaded) Mother Goose Club.
Side note - I know Pandora and Spotify are like the coolest thing since sliced bread,
but mixed tapes, y'all.
Come on.
They were the best.
My favorite lines,
"I will be true to the promise I have made
To you and to the One who gave you to me."
And he has.
And my heart is forever grateful to be loved by his.
And my everyday is sweeter because he is in my everyday.