Thursday, February 28, 2008

3 Years Ago




Three years ago today I was in labor with our little bundle, Areyna Joy Via. Everyone tells you how the time will just fly after you have kids, and you try to believe and comprehend it, but until you look over at your little 3-year old girl, jumping around you telling you that she loves you and that she is so proud of you, you just can't grasp it. This child of God is such a blessing to me. I am so thankful that the Lord chose to bless our family with her. I pray that God will give me andJosh wisdom to raise her to fear Him and love Him and desire a personal relationship with her heavenly Father. What a responsibility we have. Areyna, we love you and are so proud of who you have already become in these short 3 years. Happy Birthday Bug!=)

The Next Wave Is Coming

When I was in 8th grade my family moved to Charleston, SC. I was most definitely a beach girl. When I reached high school and could drive on my own my friends and I would pack up almost every day during the summers and head to the beach before we had to be at work or I'd meet some other friends and I'd attempt to go surfing. I wasn't really good unless my friend could hold my board and tell me when the next good wave was so I'd be prepared to hold on tight and get ready to stand firm on my board and ride the wave in. He kept trying to tell me that about every seventh wave is a good one, just count on it.
Someone once wisely told me and Josh that "When you are not in the midst of a storm, you are about to be." Isn't that so true. Just last week while Josh and I were enjoying our long-awaited valentine's date we were discussing how good life was going and we were just bracing for the next storm that was bound to come. It was inevitable. Well, we called it. You've probably been wondering where I've been in the blogosphere this week. I've been speechless, drained, overwhelmed by circumstances, and completely blown over by discouragement. This is the time I've got to hold on tight and stand firm and ride this storm in. God promises that this too shall pass. Obedience isn't always easy. God didn't promise that everyone would always agree with me or that I'd always be liked, but He does promise that He will not leave me or forsake me. He does promise that He will bless the obedient and He does promise that His love is ever-present and un-circumstancial.
After riding an incredible wave, I'd jump back in the water, swim back out in the ocean and lay on my board, relaxing and waiting for the next good wave to come my way. I know it's coming soon, it's inevitable.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Last One, I Promise!

Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

Last night I called my mom in Colorado Springs, CO. I had a pretty stressful day, or so it seemed. I miss her so bad sometimes. It's crazy how it all works; you live life with your parents for 18 years, not appreciating them, sometimes annoyed by them and sometimes not even wanting to be around them. THEN, you grow up!! You appreciate them, you understand why they did the things that annoyed you, and you wish so badly to be close to them. My mom has a way of helping me find God's perspective on life. She read to me Isaiah 45 and encouraged me to curl up with God and spend some un-distracted, quality time with Him. I have my regular devotions, but sometimes I have that "list" going around and around in my head of ALL the things I've got to get done. So this morning I prayed that God would take away those distractions. I am almost done with the book I've been reading by Lysa TerKeurst and I promised I wouldn't share anymore for fear that nobody would want to buy their own copy but I just have to share this. You can read here and/or here to read the other two posts on the book and what God has taught me through them. But today, I read about God's plans vs. my plans. Directly correlating to what my mom read me last night, Praise The Lord. I like to think of myself as pretty organized. I cannot stand clutter and chaos. I must have a plan and things must go according to plan=) Then, reality steps in and one thing goes wrong and the whole plan falls apart, including me. See, my problem is, I set my plan before consulting God and asking Him for flexibility. I should, instead, seek His counsel, plan my course and then allow the Lord to determine my steps, even if they aren't the ones I've planned out for myself. God knows best. We've heard it a hundred times, but his timing is perfect. He knows what I need when I need it. He will only allow me to take on what I can bear at the time. It all goes back to trusting in the Lord and what He's promised. God, help me to live out what I believe and teach!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Yesterday Was A Given, Fun At McDonalds OR You Are Just Plain Stupid

I've stressed this before and here I am repeating myself again, the first day back from being out of town is, to say the least, TERRIBLE. It was melt-down city around here yesterday, and I'm not just talking about the kids=) But for some reason, today has been hardly any different. We decided to go to the Sat. evening service at church this weekend so we could have a Sunday off (no silly, not from church, but from leading worship anywhere). Well, it is still really wet outside from the rain and it was pretty cold, no, not as cold as North Dakota (Emily J.) thankfully, but enough to make me not want to go out there. So, we decided to take the kids to a McDonalds in Monroe with a really cool play area. The kids had a blast! I have two things to talk about here.
First of all, a fire truck and an ambulance pulled up while we were eating. Apparently, something happened to someone near the bathroom. All I saw was someone on the ground and the stretcher. Seconds after the medics walk in with the stretcher a couple was about to sit down with their food, not knowing that anything was out of the ordinary. Until, they turned around and saw the commotion. Here's the catcher though, they picked up their trays and moved to the table right in front of the bathrooms. Not only that, the guy kept standing up, while he was eating, to get a better look. Now, I'm just as nosy as anyone else when tragedy happens. I mean, we all want to see what happened or know what's going on...but really!?!
Secondly,
and most important, I got the urge to play on the playground with Areyna. Don't worry, for those of you who know how much of a stickler for rules I am, I read the sign carefully and it said parents were allowed. So, as soon as Areyna took off inside a tunnel I went in after her and surprised her. It was just like in the movies. "Where Are We Going, To The Pink Slide". Tunnel, Watch Tower, Slide...Tunnel, Watch Tower, Slide. (sorry if you're lost. You should really go rent the new Dora movie=) So anyway, I really think it meant a lot to Areyna for me to enter her world and play with her in there. Afterward she said "Mommy, I'm so thankful to you" followed by a huge smile and several "I Love You"s.
Josh put a video together of our first trip down the big pink slide. She was pretty proud of me=)

video

Friday, February 22, 2008

OOOOH, AAAAHHHH


If you are looking for new home decor. for your house, look no further. My sister-in-law, Keesha Via works for At Home America. Let me just set the stage for you. She is around 15-17 weeks pregnant with her first baby and has been incredibly sick, therefore not able to work much. She is having a "Mystery Hostess Party" which will run until Feb. 27th. She has to get at least $200 and I'd love to help her out. So, if you feel so inclined check out athome.com and find something you'd love to make your house a little more cozier. Then, e-mail Keesha with me as your referral at VBLL8@AOL.COM. I know she'd appreciate your help, and so would I=)

Why Do I Even Bother?


Folding laundry with my little "helpers"=) Yes, those are my undies that Areyna is wearing, sideways, and yes, the clothes that Zeke is running around with were folded in neat piles. Ya just gotta love 'em.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lip Gloss and "Gee-tah"

We're out of town so of course Zeke is sick. Tonight has been especially bad. Zeke has been aimlessly wandering around not knowing what he wants and melting down about who knows what. Areyna keeps chasing him around the house asking if he wants some lip gloss, her new favorite toy at Meme's house, and Zeke is getting frustrated with his unvoluntary shiny lips. The only thing that Zeke has been remotely insistant on is listening to "daddy, gee-tah". Meme and Poppie have been listening to our Return Worship CD all evening, since it's the only thing that keeps Zeke from fussing, and Zeke ONLY wants daddy's songs and as soon as they are about to end he calls out "mo, mo,mo" until we turn another one of his songs. THEN Meme pulled out an old guitar and he's been in heaven ever since! He's such a music boy, even when he doesn't feel good.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Meels On Wheals...Any Ideas?

Sunday mornings are kind of crazy, as so many of you know. Not just for people in ministry, but for all of human kind who attend Sun. morning church and have kids. Most of the time when we are going to be leading locally at a church I have a lot of preparation that needs to be done on Sat. night, such as laying out the kids clothes, shoes, socks and jackets. I also pack the diaper bag so as not to leave anything at home that could be of necessity at church, like diapers, an extra pair of clothes in case Rainy has an accident and of course an extra "bubby", Zeke's blanket. I also have to plan accordingly for meals. I always have to pack a breakfast since we usually have sound check and sometimes even band practice BEFORE the services which means waking the kids up early and puting them directly in the car, and sometimes I pack a lunch if there are a million services that run into lunch, like at our home church. Anyway, I'm running out of ideas for breakfasts especially. The kids are getting pretty tired of granola/cereal bars and dried cereal. We eat on the way to the church most of the time so I have to have something that will not completely destroy the car and still keep the kids clothes clean for church. I tried poptarts and will never do that again. Let's just say that the gooey middle isn't always a GOOD thing. If you have any ideas please let me know, my kids would be super grateful!!

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Day Is It?

We are in Virginia...yes, again. We had some last minute ministry stuff to get done before taxes, but mostly, we just needed to come here at least one time without having a long list of stuff to get done. Since Josh and I started this ministry every time we come to Virginia it seems to be totally business related because it's the only time Janet, his mom, and I have to get together and go over the ministry things. A lot of times we have to be out the door by 2pm for a gig and we still have to stuff and label the newsletter, eat lunch, take showers and pack the kids up, who are most definately trying to find ANYTHING to frustrate their mother even more. This all said, I've been a basketcase the last few times we've been here, just trying to get it all done. My poor mother-in-law is probably wondering who her son has married=) Well, not this week! I only have one thing on my ministry to-do list and the rest of the time I'm gonna sit around in my jammies. Well, almost the whole time. Josh and I are going on our Valentine's Date on Wed. I know, a little overdue, but very worth the wait since his book is finally done!!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Spiritual Emphasis and Catching Up

Today we lead worship at Gaston Christian's spiritual emphasis day! It was the first time we brought a band with us to play at Gaston Christian and man were the kids singing out. I could hear them worshiping above the whole band. That's what it's all about, leading other's into worship. Wes McMurray is the Bible teacher/Counselor at the school and is a longtime friend of ours from seminary. His wife, Jenn and their 2-year-old, Owen, kept the kids while we played. We planned on making it a whole day in Gastonia to hang out with them, so when we got back to Wes and Jenn's house Josh offered to put the kids down for a nap so Jenn and I could go get some coffee. It was a nice break for the both of us! We had also called up some other good friends of ours from seminary who live in the area, Ross and Shannon. They have an 18-month old, Luke and are just weeks away from adding another little boy to the bunch. It was so good to see everybody.



Josh Ross Wes Luke Owen Rainy Zeke

Thursday, February 14, 2008

As I Promised

A few days ago I wrote about something the Lord has really been working with me on. If you can't remember you can just click HERE to refresh your memory. I also mentioned that I would tell you about the next chapter that I learned so much from, but instead I'll tell you about today's lesson, equally impactful (I don't even think that's a word!). Every day I read a new chapter and think to myself "oh, I've GOT to write about this one" but then I'd give the whole book away, so instead I'll just write about today's lesson and challenge you to buy your own copy of the book and read it yourself. Today I read about enjoying the simple pleasures that the Lord has blessed us with. Lysa mentioned this little habit called "hoarder disorder" and I've got it bad! I'll give you a couple of personal examples. Before getting involved in this whole money saving "Phenomenon" I used to only buy special things, like toaster strudels or bagels, once in a blue moon and then would feel bad if I ate them because I didn't know when the next time I'd be able to buy them would be. Silly, huh. Sometimes I would even wait so long to eat something that it would go bad before I could consume it. It's terrible I know! I've since changed my ways about the food stuff, but I'm still transforming my life to enjoy other simple pleasures. Another example is Bath and Body Works Candles. They are SO expensive that when I actually get the opportunity to buy them I hate to even light them except for special occasions, so they sit on my coffee table, unused for months until the dust collects on the top and actually sizzle when lit. One last confession, I mean, example...I will buy an article of clothing and hate to wear it in fear that it will wear out and I won't get that much wear out of it. This is sounding more and more like a kind of phobia. My point is, well actually I'm agreeing with Lysa- what are we waiting on? Enjoy the things that God has blessed us with. Am I so afraid that he is going to neglect to provide for me in the future? Am I so doubtful in the Savior that has promised "peace and joy" to those who trust in Him? I'm turning over a new leaf today. It is not a sin to enjoy the material things that we have been given. So, go buy the book while I go light my favorite candles, all at the same time, and eat a bowl of the ice cream that I've been so afraid to finish off, and stand on the promises of Christ Our Savior who gave His life for His children.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Maybe Not Such A Bad Move After All

Alright, I know not every action our kids make are a direct reflection of us, the parents, but after writing the post directly under this one this afternoon I couldn't help but feel like I had caused this reaction in Zeke. It is true that because my kids share a room together they will most likely be more comfortable in new environments with each other, BUT we had a breakthrough tonight when I went to pick the kids up from their class at church. A worker approached me and wondered why in the world Zeke was still in the baby/crawler's room. I mean, I am not one to question rules. Josh will be the first to tell you that, right babe? He's probably laughing right now as he remembers my reaction to the teenager jumping out of his "ride" parked in the handicapped parking space at Target or the way I get all huffy and puffy when people...oh, how do I always get off on these rabbit trails. All to say, I'm a stickler for rules. Rules are meant to be followed and I intend on keeping them, just like everyone else should=) If the staff puts my kids in a certain class I don't ever want to be that mom who thinks that mine should be an exception to that rule, unless of course the workers encourage it. So, when this worker made that statement I wasn't sure what to say. She said "no wonder he is so unhappy in his class, he's bored and doesn't have anyone to interact with". So, he will no longer be the discontent kid whose parents always have to be at all 4 services (sorry volunteers), but he will be the content little boy who is supposed to be in the same class as his sister because they are so close in age. Yeah!

Parenting Backfire

Josh (my husband) and I have been doing what we do since December of '06. You can check out our web page to find out exactly what that is. Basically, we are travel worship leaders that go to different churches and youth events and lead people into worship. Most of the time we can find a place for the kids to go so they don't have to come with us on week-long or weekend-long conferences or retreats, but occasionally we ALL pack up in our Trooper and head out. Our sleeping quarters can get pretty tight to say the least, meaning we all sleep in one room staring each other in the face while we try to fall asleep, and sometimes right next door to 3 rooms full of dozens of giggling, hyper and not-so-kid-aware teens. Not a huge deal, but it does makes for some funny stories. When we first started traveling I learned very quickly that I needed to make some changes in order for this ministry to work with a family. Both my kids had their own rooms at the time and were GREAT sleepers, but were taught (from birth basically) to fall asleep on their own. "On their own", meaning no one else in the room. Don't get me wrong, I def. recommend this parenting style and will start off any other kids that the Lord may bless us with on this same routine (I was getting a full nights sleep by 8 weeks with both of them, Praise The Lord!). BUT, the first night all 4 of us slept in a room the size of an X-SMALL dorm room and Zeke decided he'd rather cry uncontrollably, oh, about every hour or so throughout the night because he was sleeping right next to me in the pack-n-play and the only thing that would get this little 6-month old bundle of "joy" to relax was for Josh to take him on a little joy ride so as not to wake up the WHOLE house, I decided I needed a new strategy. The very day I got home I began rearranging the house (not that uncommon, but this time I had a PURPOSE, an AGENDA). Both of our kids were going to learn to sleep together in the same room! There was just no other way our ministry was going to work. It took some time and some trial and error periods on my part, learning the best way to get this accomplished, but it was well worth it when I could put both the kids down in the next hotel room at the same time and a good night's sleep was had by ALL! Now I have another dilemma, though. I mean, we are in dozens of NEW churches a year and both Areyna and Zeke are very used to new places and environments. One day, though, Zeke decides he cannot be without his Big Sister. I went to go pick him up after church one Sunday and he was NOWHERE TO BE FOUND!! I started going up and down the hallway searching in each classroom until I found him happily playing with Areyna in her classroom. He is known for crying sometimes when I drop him off but by the time I close the door he's stopped crying and is diving into a pile of legos. But, apparently he got so upset this one Sunday that they decided they'd try to put him in with Areyna. This is a very common occurrence now and so I warn the teachers ahead of time or even drop them off in the same class to start off with. Not only that, but he can no longer even sleep in a room without Areyna. What have I gotten myself into! I just can't win. I guess I'd rather have this problem, Zeke loving his sister so much he can't get enough of her, than the other. It does make traveling over night so much easier and at this stage in our lives we gotta do what we gotta do=)

*Holly S., I promise a post on "room time" soon!

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

A Frugal Valentine's Day

My mom started one of the coolest traditions on Valentine's Day that we enjoyed all growing up. I have started implementing it with my own family. We don't have a HUGE valentine's day celebration, we keep it simple and concentrate on the heart and our actions showing our love and appreciation for each other. Anyway, this is what my mom always did; she would cut out paper hearts and hide them all over the house and other places. Each one would have a little message on it. I'd always wonder where another one would pop up next. She put them on the bathroom mirrors, on the steering wheel for my dad, in our sock drawer, on the coffee pot, in our lunch box, inside our science book, in our PE bag, on our Bible, etc. Then at the end of the day she would send us (all the kids) on a scavenger hunt around the house to find our "special" gift, candy, t-shirt, CD or something of that sort. I loved it growing up and my husband has enjoyed it too. Now my 3-year-old has learned what "heart day" is all about and I'm excited to start the tradition with her and Zeke too. You can click here for other fun, frugal Valentine ideas!

It's That Time Again

Every morning the kids have what we call "room time". When they were younger it was "quiet time" in their pack-n-play with a basket of toys and/or books and they would play quietly for an extended amount of time. Now I put them in their playroom aound 10am for about an hour and shut the door. They know they can only call out to me if they see blood or if they have to go to the bathroom. (i.e. Yesterday Josh heard Areyna telling Zeke over and over, "You're leakin' out Bud, You're leakin' out Bud". Josh discovered that Zeke wanted to be "naked baby" so Areyna had helped him take his jammies off and he was playing in just his diaper, which wouldn't have been a problem except for the fact that he had a blowout and was "leakin' out" everywhere. That would have probably been a good time for Areyna to call out to me BEFORE he proceeded to spread his surprise around the room). Anyway, this is my time to work out, get a shower or finish my quiet time if I haven't already done so. They are both old enough to be in room time together now and for the most part they get along GREAT. The other day I walked into the room when room time was over and this is what I saw. They had emptied out all the toy baskets and climbed in so Areyna could read books to Zeke. It was so cute.


Oh yeah, it's that time again. CharlotteONE tonight @ 7pm. See you there!!!!!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Let's Play A Game

Some of you have asked what I do with the kids while we travel around and play everywhere, so I decided I'd fill you in on a little secret. Here's what we're going to do - I got the idea from Elmo...can you find what is "The Same" in all the pictures?


ANSWER: Portable High Chair, yeah you got it!
If any new mom ever asks me again "what I just can't live without", this is what I'll be telling her. We've never even owned a real high chair (or crib for that matter, only pack-n-plays). We've gotten our money's worth out of these bad boys. That's right. I have a good 30 min. (0n average) to get some practicing in with the band from the time I place the lunchables on the tray to the time when the leftovers go flying across the floor. Areyna is old enough to know that "No Stage" means no stage but we're still working on Zeke. He still thinks he can army crawl his way up the steps and turn the monitors ALL THE WAY UP!! (sorry JT and Mike)
So, if you are in a bind and just don't know what to do with the kids, bring that portable chair and a packed snack or meal to tide them over and keep them occupied while you get to work=)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

"Super Mom vs. Slacker Mom"

Josh got me a great book for Christmas by Lysa Terkeurst called "The Bathtub Is Overflowing but I Feel Drained". I definitely recommend this read. I started off reading it like any other book and have now started using in with my quiet time. It is so applicable to ALL mom's in any stage of motherhood. I've loved every chapter so far, but yesterday and today's chapters have left me feeling exceptional "filled up". Yesterday's chapter was diving into the issue of being the kind of mom God wants us to be in our given time and our given circumstances. Here is a quick excerpt:
"Just as I don't like hats, I don't like labels, either. I want to be a good mom for the kids God has entrusted to my care. I don't want to be a slacker mom or a supermom. I just want to be the kind of mom God intends for me to be. I want to be a unique mom with gifts, talents, attitudes, beliefs, and convictions all my own. Because I surrender my heart and my walk to God every day, I believe He gives me wisdom to handle just what I need to handle each and every day. I want to be me, and I'm okay with that. Some days I'll be a little more like a slacker. Other days I might feel a little supermomish. But most days I'm just going to do the best I can with the circumstances I'm handed."
So often I want to appear to be the mom who has it ALL TOGETHER ALL THE TIME. I believe that is a stronghold in this perfection-seeking life of mine. I want to learn to just be me and not "take too much credit for their (my children's) good or too much blame for their bad." I want to be a "REALISTIC MOM" by "Doing what you can with what you've been given based on what is realistic".
I'll post what I learned in today's chapter soon...

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Surprise!!

Periodically I go through mine and Josh's calendars to correlate our dates to make all our web updates. Last week when I was doing so, I saw that I was supposedly meeting my friend Melissa Rutty in Waxhaw somewhere, but I didn't remember making those plans. I went to ask Josh if he remembered this commitment of mine and he said, "Oh, you weren't supposed to see that yet". Needless to say, I've been waiting in anticipation for today since last week. I got the call around 9:30 this morning telling me to meet in the parking lot of a Harris Teeter at 10:45. I reluctantly kissed Josh and the kids goodbye and headed to my destination. I pulled up and met my sweet friend outside. She met me with a hug and a grin as she opened the door to Massage Envy and said "Happy Birthday". I was outwardly speechless but thinking to myself that I was so glad that I had shaved this morning=) They asked if I'd ever gotten a massage before and I said "when I was 9 months pregnant Josh got me a 'mother's massage' at a massage place, does that count?" Thank you Melissa!!! I am so blessed to have a friend like you. That blessed one hour massage gave me enough patience and endurance to handle anything that could have come my way today=)

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

I Only Paid TEN CENTS For Diapers Today

Yes, you read me correctly, ten cents. I stumbled across this website/blog last night and was blown away at all the secrets about shopping wisely. I've mentioned The Grocery Game before and I'll mention it again. In conjunction to getting the Harris Teeter list every week I signed up to get the CVS list as well (only an additional $.68/week). This Is Why!! I've been getting these coupons from CVS for almost 2 years called ECB's and I never really knew what they were so I've just been throwing them away. Well, I figured it out last night! I'm not even about to explain it all to you, just click HERE to get the low down. I put a small list together last night and my only IMMEDIATE NEED was diapers, since we were down to 1 diaper and that can only be stretched for so long=)
My list consisted of items that all had receipt rewards added with coupons from the paper - all of which I use, need or will need in the mere future. I didn't pay full price for a single item and the shampoo was absolutely FREE. Here's the list...
1 bottle of Excedrin Extra Strength
1 bottle of Excedrin Migrane
1 bottle of Garnier Fructis Shampoo
1 bottle of Flinstones multivitamins for Rainy
1 bottle of Purell Hand Sanitizer
1 bottle of 1 A Day -Women's Multivitamins
1 bottle of 1 A Day - All Day Energy Multivitamins
TOTAL after coupons and sales $27.38 (with a savings of $27.50) ----- PLUS I got a $10 ECB and $2 ECB to use on my diapers along with my coupon.

Diapers on sale with coupon and ECB TOTAL $.10!! (I saved almost $12 just buying diapers plus I still have my $2 ECB to use next week)

It pays to save. Josh and I will be able to have a GOOD Valentine's Day this year with ALL the extra money we've saved...just kidding, but it is pretty exciting!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

No More Mullet


Areyna Before

Areyna After

Zeke Before

Zeke After

Areyna and Zeke had their first hair cuts today. I think Areyna had fun and hers wasn't too hard. Zeke on the other hand was pretty difficult because he wouldn't hold still, but at least we don't have the mullet anymore!