Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Whirlwind Magical Holiday Tour has come to an end

We spent this Christmas trying to see everyone we are related to. We had a blast but next year we plan to do much less traveling. :) Anyone who wants to come visit us instead is welcome!

First, a day with my dad's family.

We play this little game every year. It is called "how many people does it take to program the camera on the tripod?"
camera edit

My grandparents and their grandkids, + one great-grandbaby on the way.

Next, a stop at my parents' house. We spent Christmas Eve here - went to a lovely service, enjoyed a scrumptious supper (yummmmm baked brie!), and opened gifts.

The Gent liked combining the two.

On Christmas morning we got up early and drove to my mom's parents. Where we found - wonder of wonders in the South - a WHITE CHRISTMAS.

As we came up their drive, this is what we saw.
Cherokee house

My Nana and Papaw host all of us - somewhere around 25 people camp out in their house during the holidays!
Nana and Papaw

Snow, snow, snow, snow, snow

There was just enough time left for a quick trip to see the Gent's family (the past few years we have been alternating which family we spend Christmas with, this year we spent most of the holiday with my family).

More gifts to open, Happy Christmas!

And now we are home. And exhausted. And the house is still somewhat of a mess but by tomorrow it should all be set to rights again. I hope.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christ is Here

by Todd Fields, Eddie Kirkland, and Seth Condrey

To our darkened world a light has come
To our broken hearts a day of hope has dawned
The mountains bow and valleys lift their song
Preparing the arrival of the Holy One

On the earth His love has shown
We are not alone

God is with us
He has come to save us
Mercy lights the darkness
Christ is here
God is with us
Healer of the broken
Word of heaven spoken
Christ is here

From His throne above in majesty
From the realm of glory Jesus heard our plea
Love has come our captive hearts to free
Life eternal springs from our exalted King

On the earth His love has shown
We are not alone

God is with us
He has come to save us
Mercy lights the darkness
Christ is here
God is with us
Healer of the broken
Word of heaven spoken
Christ is here

All rise, all rise in the presence of the King
In His presence we are free
All rise, all rise in the presence of the King
In His presence we are free

God is with us
He has come to save us
Mercy lights the darkness
Christ is here
God is with us
Healer of the broken
Word of heaven spoken
Christ is here

Monday, December 20, 2010


I've been spending a great deal of my time since I "retired" from my 9-5 job at the local pregnancy resource clinic. I love being surrounded by lots of other pregnant women! Our local clinic offers hope and support to women making decisions about unplanned pregnancies. The counselors remind them that God loves them and that He has a plan for their lives. They remind clients that God loves their unborn babies, too, and that He has plans for their little lives. They assure them that they are strong and that they can handle the decisions they are making. They help women build a support network, offer a way out of abusive relationships, and continually remind the women that their lives and their babies' lives have value.

For the women who decide to parent, the clinic offers parenting classes and resources. I am one of the teachers. :) I work one on one with a client as we go through a lesson on prenatal care, infant care, raising toddlers, financial literacy, etc. Most of the women are very interested in learning the material, a few are just there to earn their mommy dollars that they can spend in the store.

But what I find over and over is that our clients come from broken homes. I haven't had a client yet whose parents are still married. Many were born to single mothers, raised by their grandmother, have no father in the picture. By going through the classes, many of our clients are trying to break that cycle. They want to finish school and get a job and be a good mommy, they just don't know how. No one ever showed them.

I'm honored to be playing a small role in this bigger picture of offering genuine hope to the women who come through our clinic's doors.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Entertaining Angels Unaware

"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares." Hebrews 13:2

The Gent and I were recently in Atlanta and we opted to skip the traffic in favor of public transportation. That is something we do often when visiting other big cities, like DC, but MARTA we usually avoid. Let's just say that many of those rumors about the kind of people who ride MARTA appeared to be true based on this singular experience.

There were several homeless people, some teenagers who appeared up to no good, you get the picture.

While waiting by the platform for our train, we were approached by a woman who obviously wanted to talk to us. She was dressed in layers, missing most of her teeth, and could have been anywhere from 25-40 years old. She looked like she had lived a hard life, but she seemed to be quite content with her present circumstances.

She asked me when our baby was due, and said she was expecting a girl, too. We chatted (a bit uncomfortably on my end, not going to lie) for a few minutes about babies and pregnancy. She was tickled with the Gent and told us of course our baby would be beautiful because she had such beautiful parents. She told us we were blessed. She asked if we knew the Lord and we said yes. She said she had been following Him hard for about five years, and asked if I'd ever back-slidden. I answered of course, I think everyone slips up now and then. She said she had messed up, but she was back to following Jesus now. I'm sure she sensed we were a bit uncertain about this conversation, and she told us again we were going to have a beautiful baby and moved on down the platform. I told her to have a lovely afternoon and to stay warm. Then the train came.

I found myself returning to our chance encounter over and over again. I thought about this verse in Hebrews, about entertaining angels unaware. I knew God used my meeting with this woman to lift me out of my comfortable life for just a few moments. I hoped I had been a reflection of God's love and grace despite my uncertainty about our conversation. I'm still not quite sure what to think of it all.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Shower Time

The wonderful ladies who I volunteer with in dog rescue work threw a baby shower for us this weekend! I had a great time catching up with them in person (we usually "meet" over email), eating girly food (like hummus and pink cupcakes), and getting ready for baby. This little girl may be a wee bit spoiled by so many goodies. ;) A big thanks to my fellow volunteers and friends!

shower table



Aaron and puppy

ladies edit

Friday, December 10, 2010

December Date Night

With so many parties and dinners and concerts during the holiday season, we opted for a low-key evening. (And I didn't have my camera, so these are all random images I found on Google.)

First, we drove around and looked at tacky Christmas lights. Let it be said that I love tasteful Christmas decorations. But some folks just go a little over the top. We found this incredibly awful house just a few blocks from us. Someday I will go back with my camera and take pictures. In the meantime, imagine this x 10.

Then we went to Papa John's and picked up pizza for dinner. Yum.

And then we came home, snuggled on the couch, and watched A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Not a bad way to cap off our year of date nights.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Spreading Cheer

One of my favorite things about the holidays is sending and receiving Christmas cards. In our technology-driven culture, I love getting real mail and catching up with friends and family.

Not everyone has the opportunity to celebrate the holidays with their loved ones, and some may feel forgotten in this season of merry-making. That's why I love Holiday Mail for Heroes. The Red Cross organizes this card drive for the men and women of our armed forces, veterans, and their families. And it is so easy to participate. Why don't you take a few minutes and send well-wishes and thanks to our troops?

Click here to find out more:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


These verses from Isaiah are some of my favorites to meditate over during this time of preparation before Christmas. We aren't merely preparing for Santa and special time with those we love, we are preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior. For grace. For redemption. For mercy. For atonement. We celebrate the beauty of the story - a tiny, helpless Baby come to seek and save those who are lost and offer a way out of our sin and hopelessness and back into the Father's arms. But as we rejoice over the Baby, let's not forget the sacrifice of the Man.

Isaiah 9:1-7

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past He humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future He will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before You
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
You have shattered
the yoke that burdens them
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a Child is born,
to us a Son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of His government and peace
there will be no end.

He will reign on David’s throne
and over His kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Isaiah 53
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.

Surely He took up our pain
and bore our suffering,

yet we considered Him punished by God,
stricken by Him, and afflicted.
But He was pierced for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on Him,
and by His wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth;
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
so He did not open His mouth.
By oppression and judgment He was taken away.
Yet who of His generation protested?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
for the transgression of my people He was punished.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
and with the rich in His death,
though He had done no violence,
nor was any deceit in His mouth.

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush Him and cause Him to suffer,
and though the LORD makes His life an offering for sin,
He will see His offspring and prolong His days,
and the will of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
After He has suffered,
He will see the light of life and be satisfied;
by His knowledge my righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will bear their iniquities
Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great,
and He will divide the spoils with the strong,
because He poured out His life unto death,
and was numbered with the transgressors.
For He bore the sin of many,
and made intercession for the transgressors.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas-time Is Here

And our little home is cozy and bright! Here are a few of the highlights:



And my favorite, the fireplace

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Baby Pictures!

We had a doctor appointment today, and our big 4D ultrasound! Baby is healthy and growing - she's a little over two pounds now. We have tons of pictures of baby in utero. Here are a few of my faves.

Whose face does she have, mine or the Gent's? (the bubbles you see are the umbilical cord)

Sticking her tongue out at the "camera"

She had her hand up by her face most of the time. I already knew it was there. I keep feeling it poking me!

Her hand holding onto her foot. She's does prenatal yoga in the womb.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Nick is Four!

Happy birthday to the Nick-ster, the lovable, loyal goofball. For his birthday, Nick got a new dog bowl that is supposed to make him slow down while he eats. He usually inhales his food in thirty seconds, I am not kidding. And then he got new fetch balls for fun, YAY.

Photos by me, captions by Nick:

Presents! Look, see me sit! I'm a good boy, Daddy!
Nick 1

Tasty tissue paper. You know, putting some food in this bowl would make it even better.
Nick 2

He's my boy.
Nick 3

Nick 4

I live a good life. And I don't have to share with my brothers, cause it is my day.
Nick 5