Tuesday, October 29, 2013


The fall season here is gorgeous. This time of year always makes me think about how in scripture it says, 'Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!' (2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV).

Every spring the leaves bud on the trees, everything is new! Then summer is gorgeous & lavishly green. Fall comes around and the leaves turn amazing brilliant colors displaying His beauty in nature. Sadly, the leaves fall & the trees are bare. Winter is cold & desolate. But yet again, every spring He makes all things new!! 

That is the road I travel everyday to my house. I was stopped in my tracks today at the gorgeousness.

There are many seasons of life. I've been thinking of a few a lot the past two weeks. A couple of my friends have had babies in the past 14 days. I've held them & snuggled them & done lots of thinking how I'm really glad I don't have a newborn. Hahaaaa. So many things change in a year with small children. Last year I was in a newborn sleep deprived haze at Halloween. 

This year I am ON IT.

Obnoxious baking. 

But to me it isn't about this 'stuff'. It's about making memories & instilling tradition in my children. I have such wonderful memories of my childhood doing these types of things. 

The season of having babies and sleepless nights is really hard.

Foggy thoughts surround all of my memories after each of my children were born. 

This season is full of life changing and soul defining moments. Becoming a parent (for me) was a process that I had to gradually accept. I remember thinking when my first born was 6months old 'am I just going to sit in the floor and play with my kids the rest of my life?'




If only it were that simple & easy.

Having babies made me grow up. I became an adult because I had to put on my big girl britches & get out of bed every morning...because someone NEEDS me.

 They need a momma who gets up (not always cheerful) and tends to their needs because they matter. 

Putting my aches, exhaustion, laziness, MY wants aside & doing what The Lord has called me to do.

 And dang it, I don't like to rise early & I want to take naps too!!! (Insert a fabulous Kdog that has taken more than his fair share of middle of the night children shenanigans). I am mildly evil at 3am. Honest. My children tend to call for their Daddy in the night. Truth. 

Thinking of the infant season NOW, I realize it's quite easier on some level than a new season we are approaching...

This little (big) gem can read, comprehend, & emotionally connect with the fallen world. He can be influenced, enticed, & purseuded by the devil in many more ways than I'm ready for!!

"Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be many in the land the Lord swore to give your ancestors, as many as the days that the heavens are above the earth. "(Deuteronomy 11:18-21 NIV)

Don't you put it past me to tape a relevant bible verse on my forehead so every time they look at me they are reminded to stop being turds. Seriously.

It goes along with my 'if you don't clean your crack or scrub your pits I'll scrub them for you, even if you're 12' philosophy. 

They have all been warned. 

I dread the stinky tween phase. 

Seriously, I never dreamed I would be this passionate about how we raise our children. I've always loved The Lord & knew I wanted our children to know Him & have a relationship with God.

But over the last 8 years, as I've become an 'adult' there have been so many spiritual moments that have changed my life. 

I'm excited to share how I've gotten to where I am spiritually. Life's lessons are only useful if you learn and grow from them. Happy or sad. 

There are plenty of crappy things that have gone on in my life. But I made a permanent decision to choose joy.

I'm just as cranky & mouthy as the rest of you. But I am joyful in my soul & only through Him did I find peace.

Being obedient & faithful to raising children who don't just love The Lord but who want to further His kingdom is DIFFERENT. 

And no matter what season of life I am in I know one thing that never fails, never gives up or runs dry...

His love remains the same.


Tuesday, October 22, 2013


When you ask God to break your heart for what breaks His, He does not hesitate to answer. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for people (and for animals) but lately God is using this and doing something different in me. I was walking through Wal-Mart today and happened to pass by a muslim woman and her sweet little boy who was riding in a shopping cart. I smiled. She didn't, but that didn't matter to me. And then my heart broke. Right there in the middle of the paper products isle.

Usually I can't tell by just passing by whether or not someone knows Jesus. But because of her head covering, it was blatant that she was not a Christian and did not know Jesus. Not that I've never passed by a muslim person before, but today was the day that it hit me. If nobody intervenes, this woman is going to hell. And what's more, she'll never teach her precious son about Jesus either.

My eyes filled with tears. I'm not sure why God chose today to let me see this child of His through His eyes, but He did. And I think I may have failed. Was I supposed to stop her in the middle of Wal-Mart and ask her if she knew Jesus? I'm not sure. But what I do know is that it wrecked me and I was extra thankful that I was by myself.

My first thought, as I was standing there crying by the cat litter, was that I am not a good witness. And I don't know if I'll ever get much better. Then my thoughts turned quickly to my own children. First, I just stood there and thanked God for them. I thanked Him for their pure hearts and for their willingness to pray anytime, anywhere, for anyone. But mostly I thanked Him that my children already know Jesus. My heart has been at ease for some time knowing that if anything happens to them or to me...you know what I mean...I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that we will meet again in heaven one day. I take incredibly strong comfort in that. Tomorrow is not guaranteed, folks.

Still, my question is: How do I help my children do better than I do? How do I teach them to witness? And God said to me...

1. Take them to church. Every week. Or more. That's kind of obvious, I know, but that's one place that children can gain knowledge, language, and experiences that will help them to put the story of Jesus in their own words.

2. Model. Even when it feels awkward. Let them see you talking to others about Jesus - even if it's only with people you know and are comfortable with. Help them to know that it's perfectly natural and ok to talk to other people about Jesus. It's the best news in the world! It's exciting and it should be shared!

3. Talk about witnessing. Ask your children if they've ever talked to friends at school about Jesus. Tell them that it's ok to do that if they want to or if they feel like God is telling them to share. It feels good to obey what God is asking us to do. And it feels beyond good to know that our friends will be able to go to heaven if they know Jesus!!

4. Encourage them. When you hear your child talking to others about God, Jesus, church, or even things like fruits of the spirit, praise them for it! If the angels are rejoicing in heaven because your child is helping to expand the Kingdom, you should be rejoicing too!

5. Let it stand that they can invite any friend to church anytime. No matter if you really wanted to sleep late and slip into church right as the service starts the next day. No matter if you don't feel like having one more noisy kid in the car on Sunday morning. Guaranteed, you will end up being blessed in some way...and someone's little soul may be hanging in the balance.

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”

Matthew 21:15-16
When the religious leaders saw the outrageous things he was doing, and heard all the children running and shouting through the Temple, “Hosanna to David’s Son!” they were up in arms and took him to task. “Do you hear what these children are saying?”
Jesus said, “Yes, I hear them. And haven’t you read in God’s Word, ‘From the mouths of children and babies I’ll furnish a place of praise’?”

Friday, October 11, 2013

There's this kid...

There's this baby. And he's turning one.

He has a rather powerful testimony & he doesn't even know it yet.

You see, we never knew we would have four children. After divalicious was born we thought we were done having babies.

And then this 'voice' started talking to me. I attempted to ignore it.

Rationally I was done having children. I felt overwhelmed with three. How on earth could I possibly take care of four children...and do it the way The Lord intends me to?


We went on about our life & this little 'voice' kept nagging me. "You are going to have another baby." 

The Holy Spirit told me we were having another baby. 

Well, crap. Now what?

So, I told KDog.

And he laughed. 

Hysterically. For like an hour.

Kdog's comments:
You're not a pleasant pregnant woman, you know.
Uh, I don't think your body can handle that again.
We have a complete family.
You may be feeling this but there is no Holy Spirit whispering baby messages in my ears!!

I was TOTALLY ok with this answer because quite frankly I couldn't rationally think about it either. It just didn't logically make sense.

4 kids.

So, we agreed to pray. Kdog prayed for The Lord to show him His plan if He had another child planned for our family. 

I prayed for clarity & specific qualities in this child He kept whispering into my soul.

I prayed that IF this was His plan:
His timing. His miraculous planning.

Happy pregnancy where I was nice to people (that's embarrassing, but true!)

Natural labor/delivery with no medication

A sweet, laid back baby having a sweet soul & smiled more than I knew possible.

Pleasant nursing experience preventing manic crazy Renae lactating scenarios that ALWAYS occur when I have a baby.

That our other children never once felt less loved because of a new addition.

And so on and so forth. You get the picture.


Months went by.

Prayers went up.

And one day My oldest son told me I was pregnant. 


Yeah. He said, "I think you need to go to the doctor because you have a baby in your belly."

Hahahaaaa. Weirdo. 

Or WAIT...I started counting days & cycles & lunar eclipses (hahaaa, just kidding).

I took a test & BAM. I was. What?!? I was???? Immediately call best friend, send her to store & come to my house so I can pee on 68543 dollar store pregnancy tests!!! 

Insert Kdog on phone "well, you better take another test because that can't be right."

There was no trying to have a baby. At all. And our other children required some fertility medicine. 


As the shock wore off & morning sickness set in we went to our first appointment. And there it was. Another heart beating so miraculously in my womb. 

Kdog & I immediately got slapped up side the head with a BIG DOSE OF JESUS.

 He has a plan bigger than our tiny earthly brains can comprehend. 

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

When we told the kids about the new addition our oldest said 'well, I KNEW it. After you tuck me in at night & we say our prayers, I've been praying alone that we would have another baby.'

The Holy Spirit had been guiding our oldest too! Kdog & I about hit the floor. 

Why are we ever surprised by His work? By His plan? By His loving whispers or scolding prods? Why is it hard to discern between His guidance & our wants? 

Because we are human. And sinful. 

But, we are redeemed through His ultimate sacrifice. And because of that we can receive The Holy Spirit to help guide our choices & paths. 

“If you love me, keep my commands. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. (John 14:15-17 NIV)

So, along came Tater.

And he was everything I prayed for. 

This baby has filled our lives with indescribable joy. 

This little dude has completed my soul in many areas I felt empty or unfinished. 
There are many areas I am disobedient. I am not perfect at discerning the Holy Spirit. Never will be. 

But each and every day when i look in to this baby boys eyes I say a prayer of thanksgiving. 

I am so thankful I listened when The Lord was whispering Tater into my soul. 

The Lord flipped our plan upside down & smeared it all over our face. He took OUR PLAN & showed us it is HIS PLAN.

Our family is a better family because of our sweet Tater. We are so in love with this kid. 

Tonight I'll be saying sweet thankful prayers as I kiss my one year old goodnight. And not feeling sad because of all the 'lasts' of babyhood. But, feeling excited about the future & wondering what other areas in our lives The Lord is going to give us some surprises...

Happy First Birthday, Tater Tot! You have helped make our family happier than we ever dreamed possible. Our prayer for you, sweet son...
 ‘ “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ’ (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Boy Who Birthed a Blog

In December 2006 I told a little white lie. All I wanted for Christmas was to find out whether my firstborn was going to be a girl or a boy...and then to be able to tell my mother that she was finally going to have a granddaughter after her first three grandchildren were grandsons. You know, we love our boys but a Mimi needs a little girl to spoil. I scooched back my conception date by a good ten days or so when talking to the appointment scheduler so that I could take off the Friday before Christmas break, have lunch with my husband, and then head out of town for the holidays. My hCG induced plan was working well until...I saw that little you-know-what on the monitor.

I was having a BOY.

Not that I wasn't thankful for a healthy baby. But I'll be honest, for about an hour and a half I wasn't sure how I felt. I just knew within the fiber of my being that I was carrying a girl baby. Plus, I did not have a great track record with relationships with males in my life. How could I possibly be successful at being a mom to a boy?? Throughout the next few weeks I started to pray for this baby boy growing inside of me. I worried and I wondered, but five and a half months later this guy was born:

How could anyone not fall immediately in love with this chunky little face and bald head? Instantly, I loved all 10 pounds, 13 ounces of him! (Yes, I did it the natural way. Plus drugs. Thank you, Jesus, for epidurals!)
By now I have almost forgotten that he barely slept for the first year of his life. Because somehow, despite rocking my sleep-til-ten-every-Saturday world, he managed to be the happiest baby on the face of the planet. Oh, the trips I took trying to get this kid to sleep back then...I'm sure I at least tripled the size of the hole in the ozone layer for this child. (Are they still saying there's a hole? I forget. Didn't they say it mended its self somehow? I missed a couple of the years of the real world, you know. Raising babies and all.)
This boy is a light in a dark world. He wakes up at the crack of dawn happy to see me in my pajamas and messy hair. He will snuggle with me anytime, anyplace. He still holds my hand, too, even though he's so old now. He's six, you know. He loves his teachers at school and church, his friends, and his cousins. He idolizes those boys! Not a week goes by that he doesn't ask when we can move to "Benny and Grant's town."
"Mom, wouldn't it be neat if our house grew wings and could fly? We could move our house next door to Benny and Grant's!" (Yes, baby. If life were that simple, I would do that for you tomorrow. No, actually! I'd do it for you right now!!)
One of the many things I love about Evan Michael is that he doesn't know how beautiful he is. Like the song. :) Of course he's handsome, but that's not really what I mean. He is good *really good* at so many things with little effort. He's good at sports. He's an amazing singer. (He has better pitch than most adults without even trying.) He's also a fantastic reader. He is able to do pretty much anything he tries. He doesn't know that though. His little heart is just as anxious as any other child his age and he will never brag over his accomplishments.
Evan has the kindest heart of anyone that I know. He is the child that cries in empathy if he accidentally bumps into someone and knocks them down. He cannot stand to see his sister punished. And he is my personal defender. So don't even pretend like you're going to give me a wedgie. I promise your nether regions will regret it. Just ask The Dad. :D
He loves boy stuff...Star Wars and Xbox and baseball and Legos and running and sweating and making messes and loud noises.
Despite the fact that I was so frightened to have a son (I guess that's the best thing to name that emotion), there is one thing I love best about having a firstborn son. Firstborn sons usually become big brothers. It has been an honor watching this child respect his little sister in the way that he does. He takes care of her with a ferocious tenderness that is like nothing I've ever seen before.
 He will do anything to make this girl happy and to make the world right again. He is the peacemaker in our family. He is the rule follower. He even says he'd like to be a "cop" when he grows up. But above all, he wants to do what God has laid on his heart...to be more and more like Him each day.

Matthew 5:5-9

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
Fast forward to summer 2013.
Every summer I take the kids to Virginia for as close to a week as we can manage with everyone's schedules and finances. Each year is a little more fun because as the kids get bigger they just entertain each other so well and get along. Plus, the fact that we collectively have fewer kids in diapers and fewer kids who need naps just levels the playing field. In short, it was a good time.
Our last day there was a Thursday and I timed everything so that we could have lunch with the cousins and then head home in time for me to get to worship rehearsal at church that evening. We decided to finally take the kids for their first visit to the Roanoke Star. We drove up the mountain and enjoyed a little bit of much needed July breeze at the top. The kids were less than amazed. At least we came away with the award winning photo below. Pfffffttt!! Not!!
We always have a hard time saying goodbye. The only thing that ever makes it easier when we leave is counting on the calendar to see how soon we will get to see each other again. So this time Aunt Renae extended our fun by taking us out to lunch at Fork in the Alley with the promise of visiting Bubblecake afterwards. Lunchtime within walking distance to downtown means quaint little holes in the wall will be crowded. We were limited to outdoor seating even though it was nearly 90 degrees. It didn't seem all that hot to me but Evan kept complaining about the sun being in his eyes. And there were flies all around...not the norm for FITA. It's really a nice little spot. Nonetheless, we were miserable. Evan kept drinking glass after glass of sweet tea. We decided to go when nobody really even wanted to eat. We just packed up the food and walked next door for cupcakes. Who needs protein when you can have air conditioning?
As we walked in the door the conversation went something like this:
EVAN: Mom, my tummy hurts. The smell.
ME: The smell?
EVAN: It smells like cake in here.
ME: Do you need to go to the restroom?
EVAN: I feel like I might throw up.
ME: Now?
ME: Let's sit down at this table over here just in case.
*I Take Evan by the hand.* I'm leading, he's following because of the narrow space. We get two steps in..
RENAE: Ahhhh! here it comes!!
ME: Uhhhhhhh *blank stare*
RENAE: You take him out...I've got everybody else...
And there you have it. In our family, it's not a real vacation or family visit until somebody pukes. It's usually not in a cupcake shop, but you know, some occasions are just special like that.
A week or so later we were musing via facebook at how our lives...and our kids...provide for constant amusement. We do get into a duzy of a situation from time to time. Someone offered that perhaps we needed our own reality tv show. "Or," I said, "We could write a blog...."
And so, we did.
These were our cupcakes by the time we got back to NC. And yes, we still ate them. ;)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It's all fun & games until...

 Someone vomits.

If you have a weak stomach then grab a brown bag. You may need it as you read.

Yes. Someone in my house seemed to always be vomiting last year. It started the NIGHT our youngest was BORN. Our second child puked his guts out that night.

And it began...

The winter from Hades. With a newborn & snot flinging puke hurling children.

It was a rough winter. 

This is how my sister came up with this blog! Because of a spewing incident in a local cupcake store. Oy.

This is right before the 'incident'. Site seeing with the cousins. 'Hey kids! This is great, wonderful fun!!!'

Nobody cares.

It isn't a cousin visit until someone Ralphs!!!

We realized that our lives are so whack that people might enjoy making fun of us or taking comfort in knowing that they aren't alone. 

Honestly, I could write 17 blog posts on 'Disney Disaster 2013'. But instead I give you this...

Top 5 places my kids have blown chunks in the past year:
1. Mens Urinal at Hollywood studios
2. Coat closet in Coral Reef restaurant in Epcot
3. Trash bag in my NEW VAN
5. Trash can at our local country club pool right next to the buffet!

He's the only one who didn't give me any hurling trouble on vacation.

He's really thinking here 'hey, in about 37 minutes I'm going to puke my brains out in a urinal!'

This is what he thought of Disney Disaster 2013. Insert evil baby laughter.


These crazy moments that I like to just explain as 'life with children' have taught me A LOT about relinquishing control. 

The Lord has it under control much better than we do.

 If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31 NIV)

When your baby girl looks like this AFTER a Disney vacation it should be from exhilarating exhaustion instead of 5 hours of straight up spewing. And then I was like... 

WHO can be against us?!! Like, there is some puke raging curse against us!! I got really discouraged & anxious having a newborn in the house. But then God reminded me:

 Letting it roll. Letting it go... 

I mean, after your kid dry heaves in a restaurant & pukes in a cloth napkin as you shove yourselves into a coat closet in Disney World, you get over yourself REALLY fast. 

One of my friends from college told me once: 'if I'm ever to the point where I can't take myself to the bathroom I would want you to wipe my butt.' 


You know, we are shaping our children in how we handle these stressful situations. They learn from what they see. That's hard for me to swallow sometimes. And every self inflating comment we make about ourselves or someone else or even TO THEM (hey, I'm guilty! Right here. Up in this living room for yelling, 'what is WRONG with you? It's just not normal to tear your pancakes in tiny pieces and put them in your water & then drink it!!!') molds a little piece of who they will become.


Who cares how they eat their pancakes. 

 There are important battles to fight. And pancakes, for me, isn't one of them. 

Vomiting children are out of my control. But, I can control how I react to these moments. And this past year I've really learned to let go & let God take over. Not just with spewing kids. In lots of areas.

you know something...

'Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you DO but may be someone you raise.'
~Andy Stanley