Our Auburn Weekend

Lily’s first taste of the Auburn game day experience was this past Saturday for the Auburn vs Florida Atlantic game. She’s been to Auburn twice before, but it was just to stop for lunch on our way down to and back from Fort Myers Beach last summer. I consider this her first real trip to Auburn since we were able to do things that are unique to the town. We talked to Lily all week about what to expect, mainly that she would see lots of “aubie” things.

Aubie drove us to Auburn. We got there around lunch time, found a great parking spot since the game didn’t start until 6, and headed straight to Toomer’s to get lemonade.

After drinking the world’s best lemonade, we went to Samford lawn to let Lily run around.

Then, we met some friends (Britt and Katie White) to tailgate for lunch. Lily fell asleep while we were eating, so I don’t have any pictures of us at the tailgate. After we ate, Katie’s dad, who used to play for Auburn, took us up to the Lettermen’s Lounge. 

 Lily took a picture with Aubie on the women’s bathroom door, just in case we didn’t see the real Aubie. 
Katie, Caitlyn, me, Lily

After the lounge, it was time to go on a hunt for Aubie. We were told he would be at the alumni tent at 3. We were there a little before 3 and were able to see him drive up in his ATV. Lily got a good look at him, even touched his paw and made him blush 🙂 Brent was too far away and couldn’t get a picture before he headed into the tent. Lily cried for him like her BFF had just moved to a foreign country and she would never ever ever be able to see him again. It was pitiful. Brent paid $10 for us to be guests of some random person who is a member of the alumni association so that we could get into the tent. It was the best $10 we’ve ever spent. Of course, it would be that as soon as we got in line for a picture with Aubie he walked off to another crowd of people. He’s a very popular tiger! So I put on my Black Friday Attitude and marched right behind him. My baby was gonna get a picture with Aubie! I literally just had to stand beside him and ask him several times to take a picture. That poor tiger was being pulled in so many directions and had so many kids begging for his attention, I had to take advantage of the very small opportunity we had to get a picture. 

Lily was just absolutely smitten by him! I don’t think she could get over the fact that she was staring at the real deal. It was so precious! Great memory 🙂 

Our day could have ended there. Lily was speechless and we were so happy that she got to meet him! We shopped around in J&M and the Haley bookstore and none of us could decide on a souvenir, so we just bought some shakers. 
Then, we ran into Rebecca, Wesley, and Eli. Rebecca is one of my best friends that I met while at Auburn. We were both education majors. This was Lily and Eli’s first time to meet. 
We made our way to the stadium and got in our seats just in time for the pre-game show. 

Other than spitting her water on the lady sitting in front of us, Lily did great at the game. She even shared a pretzel with a complete stranger. We left after the half time show. Lily has watched one too many YouTube videos of the AU marching band, so we had to let her watch it live and just like with Aubie, she didn’t blink or make a noise, just watched in amazement. Thanks to my dad (who, by the way, is a HUGE bama fan!) who bought us our tickets and thanks to the Howard’s who gave him a great deal on those tickets! We had a wonderful time and made many family memories. 
Auburn won 30-14! War Eagle!!!

Lily Lately

We have a big weekend coming up that will probably result in a lot of pictures, so I’m doing this post now with the most recent pics to keep from having a REALLY long post later.

In nearly 3 months we will be celebrating Lily’s 2nd birthday. It blows my mind that we have a toddler running around our house.

With Lily’s increasing vocabulary, she can pretty much say anything and it’s HILARIOUS! I love that she is able to communicate so well. I’m sure it eliminates a lot of frustration that toddlers feel when they can’t communicate what they need/want.

One night last week I was cleaning up the kitchen and I noticed Lily was walking on the couch. I walked into the den to tell her to sit down and before I could get any words out she said, “Sit down, Lily. Be careful, Lily. Brush your teeth, Lily.” Not sure why she said brush your teeth…I guess she was just running through the commands we give her. She didn’t need me to tell her anything, she had it under control and was reminding herself to be cautious.

Lily’s favorite activity is driving the van. Whenever we are on our way home from somewhere, she asks the whole way home if she can drive. And boy does it get her excited!!! I love it because our garage is right off the kitchen so she can “drive” while I cook dinner/put groceries away. It keeps her occupied for a while. The best part is when I get back in the car, crank it, and find the windshield wipers on full blast, emergency blinkers on, windows locked, mirrors moved, etc. Whenever you ask her where she is going, it’s always to “Daddy’s office.”

She LOVES to say the blessing at dinner. She asks to hold Daddy’s hand and then bows her head, eyes open though 🙂 Her blessing (and any other time we pray) goes like this…”Dear God, Amen”. Usually we say things in between Dear God and Amen, but she knows how to start and end a prayer!

She also says “amen” at the end of reading a book!

One of our most memorable conversations:
Me: Lily who made you?
Lily: God
Me: Who made everything else?
Lily: God [and without skipping  beat] God made Mickey Mouse.

The biggest difference we’ve seen in Lily since she had tubes: her appetite. She was never one of those babies that didn’t sleep when her hears were bothering her and she’s always been a talker, but she ate nothing when she was sick. She’s always enjoyed healthy foods, now she consistently eats every meal. Before tubes, it was hit or miss when she would eat. Now she’ll eat anything at anytime. Some of her favorites: Veggie Tale snacks, carrots, cantaloupe, cereal bars, green beans, grapes, squash, squeeze applesauce.

Biggest News: Lily finally has a name for “Nana No Name”! The one who didn’t want to be called anything that started with an “g” “m” or “n” has been named “Nana” by Lily. Sorry mom, should have thought of something before now 🙂

 You and your beloved blue toboggan that you stole from Uncle Ben
  Your first ponytail!!! It didn’t stay in very long 😦
 Excited to go pick up Daddy at the airport after he spent a week in Michigan!
 Watching Daddy’s airplane pull up to the terminal with another little girl that was also waiting for her daddy. 
 He’s home!
 You are such a little mommy…giving Monkey a bath and changing his diaper. 
 Wearing Daddy’s shoes. Mommy thinks you look like Aunt Katie in this pic. 
 You’ll play dress up with anything…even a swim diaper. 
 Love this picture! These are all people who work with the youth at church. From left: Becca with Cooper, Christie with Logan, Lily and me, Katie with Widget (dog), and Kayla with Kayson up top. Britney and Davis didn’t make it in this pic. I have no idea what we are laughing at! 
 Britney and Davis made it in this pic. It’s nearly impossible to get a good pic with a bunch of children. I’d say this is as good as it will ever get. 
 Making coffee in the bathtub. Cup filled with water and the washcloth is the filter. I guess you’ve watched your parents make coffee a few times, ha! Smart girl!
 Mommy finally got you some chalk so you can write on your furniture. We had a brief but serious discussion that the chalk is ONLY for the black part of your furniture. So far, you’ve obeyed the rules. 
 “Driving” to Daddy’s office
 Cooking dinner 
 I hate that this pic is blurry but it’s too cute to not post. You had spaghetti all over you!
 Orange cheeks 🙂
Do I have something on my chin?

Because I told you so

Brent called me this afternoon and asked if Lily and I could come up to his office to see him. His day had been nothing but a big let down and he needed someone to cheer him up. Thankfully Lily is joyful 99.9% of the time because my encouragement juice ran out a long time ago. Not that I didn’t want to encourage him, there just wasn’t anything to be said that hadn’t already been said and I didn’t want to use empty words. 
So we shared our frustrations instead. And all of those frustrations began with why. Why this and why that. We talked about how we had been honest with God and told him how frustrated, confused, and overwhelmed we were and that when we pray about it, we just can’t find words anymore. 
Once Lily and I got home, I was reading my twitter feed and saw a post for an article. The tweet said this:
“He knows that his plan will confuse and confound you. And he knows that real rest can not be found in understanding.” 
The rest of the blog can be found here.  Oh how I love that when I think God is not saying a word, He humbles me and I finally hear what He’s been trying to tell me all along. 
I’m not always going to understand God’s ways, actually, I will never truly grasp all that God is doing. Instead of chasing God to get answers to why why why, I just need to trust. Just like a parent says “because I told you so” to a child who is too young to really understand why they must obey, God wants me to trust Him because He told me so. Such a simple thing to hear, but such a surprisingly difficult thing to do. 
No room for asking why anymore. No more seeking for understanding. If I’m supposed to understand, it will come as I trust. 
And deep deep (really deep) down, I’m super excited. This season in our lives is preparing us for something else. I’m excited to find out what’s next. I think that when we look back on this season, we will be in a place (physically and/or spiritually) that we never imagined. I’m such a dreamer and I tell Brent all the time that I think/hope God has plans for us that are not normal in American terms. Whatever our future plans, I’m sure I have no clue! Obviously, because we are clueless right now, haha! But I do know that we can only get to the next thing by going through this trial. And we can only get through this peacefully by trusting without seeking understanding.
I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself,
that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

Where was I?

Just so I won’t forget…I know that none of you really care to read about what I was doing on 9/11/01, but I want it in words. I’m sure there are parts I don’t remember correctly.

I was a junior in high school. School had just started and I was in Brown’s choir room. We were were doing our daily warm ups. My neighbor and someone I share millions of childhood memories with, Meagan, was an office aide. She came up to the choir room to give Brown a note and then proceeded to tell us that the Twin Towers had been hit. I’ve already forgotten details. I think school started at 7:50, so I assume that by the time she came up there, both towers had already been hit. And I think we turned the TV on to watch. Actually, I know we did because I remember seeing footage of the second plane crash over and over again and the news anchors just at a loss for words.

When it was time for second block, I went to Coach Little’s classroom for health. We had a test. He wouldn’t allow us to turn the TV on until the test was over. I remember it making me so mad. Sadly, this is the one thing I clearly remember from this day. Who cares about a health test when our country is being attacked? Little Don does.

And I don’t remember the rest of the school day. That bothers me.

Our church had a time of prayer that night for our country, the rescue workers, the victims, and their families. I remember not really knowing what was going on. I remember asking Brent, “What’s this all about? What does this mean for our country?”

And that’s the extent of what I remember. I wish I remembered more. What sticks out in my mind is that dumb health test that kept me from watching the TV.

In November 2002, I went to NYC on a school trip. I was able to go see Ground Zero and it was a very sobering moment. I have pictures, but that was before digital photography and I’m too tired to a) find the pictures and b) scan them to my computer.

I’ll never forget that day. My dad has always said that there is nothing that happens that God didn’t cause or allow. Did God cause this happen? No, the sinful nature of some evil men did. Did God allow it to happen? Yes. Can we fully comprehend why He, being sovereign and all-powerful, let it happen? No, but the short answer is this: sin. We live in a fallen world and evil things happen to everyone.

“For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” Matthew 5:45

Hindered Prayers or Answered Prayers?

I should be watching the Auburn game. It’s on the TV, but I just can’t get into it because I’m the only one watching it in this house. Lily decided an early nap was what she needed today, so she laid down at 11 instead of 2. That’s probably a good thing because we have a play date this afternoon during her normal nap time. Brent went into the office for a little while this morning and is going to watch the rest of the Auburn game and the Alabama game with “the guys”.

Anyway, before Lily fell asleep and Brent left for work, I faced one of my fears.

My question this week has been this:  are we facing this trial (Brent’s new, but slow going, career for those of you new to this) because of some area of sin/disobedience in our lives or because it’s simply what is good for us?

When you pray for something for so long and your circumstances are much less than what you hoped for or expected, you begin to wonder what you are doing wrong. Or at least I do. Maybe I’m the only one with this problem. But you begin to wonder what could be hindering your prayers, or are they really even hindered? Maybe they aren’t hindered and prayers are being answered in the way that God wants them to be answered.
Either way, it’s something that I’ve been thinking a lot about this week.

When we suffer/struggle it’s either because of 1) sin in our life, or 2) the simple fact that it’s somehow what’s best for us and will bring good to us and glory to God. I don’t mind suffering for #2 because there is a peace in that kind of suffering…knowing that for now it’s what is best, it’s good, and there ain’t a thing I can do about it. But suffering for #1…that’s a different story. I can do something about that. I certainly don’t want the progress of Brent’s career to depend on a sin in either one of our lives. So this week we’ve been praying for God to search our hearts and see if there be any wicked way in us.

The result: Brent felt like there was something he needed to do and had not done. I, on the other hand, couldn’t get the neighbors off my mind. And if you put those two things together it equals this = building a relationship with our neighbors is something we need to do and have not done.

Other than that, we could not think of any other areas of disobedience. So, the only way to answer my previous question is to do something about the neighbors.

I went to Publix yesterday. Lily LOVES to drive the shopping cart. I bought 6 bags of goldfish, a bundle of cilantro, and a box of brownie mix. Thankfully those 3 items were not used together! The goldfish were on sale for $1 each and I needed the cilantro for a recipe. The brownies were for the neighbors.

I hesitated to buy and even make the brownies because I knew that I would be committed to facing one of my fears if those brownies made it to my house and baked in my oven. But I’m SO tired of the lies that Satan puts in my head and I’m DONE with him tempting me to be timid about talking to my neighbors! It’s irritating how he can take an otherwise normal conversation with the neighbors and convince me that it will not go well because I will be mauled by their pit bulls or something else completely irrational.

Another reason I wanted to go is because I want Lily to grow up in a gospel-centered home that makes opportunities to share Christ’s love with others. Though she will most likely not remember this small event in her life, I have to start somewhere and I have to be intentional about raising her to love God and love people. It’s not just gonna happen. She has to SEE it in her own parents.

At 10 this morning, the 3 of us walked over there and rang the doorbell. What seemed like an eternity later the mom answered the door. I prayed that she would open the door. There was also a little girl around Lily’s age that was standing there with her…instant ice breaker because Lily immediately had someone to play with (too bad she isn’t always there). She of course got down on the floor and made herself at home. I asked the mom how her husband was doing (he’d been really sick back in May and had been out of work since January). He is doing better and has been back at work for 2 weeks now. I handed her the brownies complete with a Bible verse written on the foil they were wrapped in and invited her to come to church with us tomorrow. She said she would talk to her husband.

I don’t think they will come. They didn’t come at Easter when we asked. However, God is able to do abundantly more than we ask or imagine. I think I would fall on my knees and cry hysterically if I saw them walk into our sanctuary tomorrow. Then I would probably run over and give them the biggest hug ever. Wouldn’t that make a scene?

I’m glad the brownies made it in and out of my house. Praying that we find more ideas and opportunities to build a relationship with our neighbors.

Too Deep for Words

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those who he justified he also glorified. 
Romans 8:26-30

Our inarticulate longings to pray properly are an indication to us that the indwelling Spirit is already helping us by interceding for us in our hearts, making requests that the Father will certainly answer. 
The Reformation Study Bible ESV in reference to Romans 8:26

His Image

He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord. 
Malachi 3:3

But He knows the way that I take; when He has tried me, I shall come out as gold.
Job 23:10

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 1:6-7

He sits as a refiner and purifier of silver. A silversmith sits with a steady eye on the furnace, for if the metal suffers more heat than what is necessary the silver is damaged. The silversmith knows the end product, a metal broken down and in its purest form. The purifying process is complete when the silversmith can see his own reflection in the metal.

The furnace is the various trials that test the genuineness our faith while the silversmith is the Lord. He keeps a watchful eye on our suffering and He knows just how much we need to break us and make us pure. He won’t give us any more then we need, but He also won’t give us less than we need. Does He delight to watch His children suffer? I don’t think He delights in it just as I don’t delight in seeing Lily hurt when she trips and skins her knee. But He sees the end product and knows the suffering is necessary. He delights in what we will be, which is why we are called to rejoice in our trials. When the purifying process is complete and he can see His reflection in us, then the fire will die.

Thankful that trials of this life have a purpose to be more like Him. Thankful that He watches the fire with a careful eye. Thankful that I am able to praise and honor Him in the midst of the fire, not only in the end when the fire is out.

May He see His image in me.

So place me on the potter’s wheel
Spin me until
There’s nothing left but You in my life
Cause brokenness is what I want
So do a work in my heart
So when You look at me
You see Your reflection
Potter’s Wheel by Daniel Bashta