Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dear Trevor,

You are four years old today.  And just as I always do on you and your sister's birthdays I smiled, and laughed, and cried.  I always cry with each passing year simply because I love you so much, and know how quickly the sand is falling.

When we sat in the hallway and prayed as a family before bedtime tonight, you thanked God for your new Cars computer.  And new Batman toy.  And for the cinnamon rolls we had a breakfast.  Then when we said our last amens, you jumped up and exclaimed, "I have an idea!!  Group hug!!!," and pulled the four of us in for one.

That is so like you.

At four you are full of love and hugs and kisses.  You smother me with dozens of them a day.  I know this will someday change and those hugs and kisses will be a higher commodity, so I am cherishing the surplus now and trying to memorize every one.

You are still small enough to cuddle into this little ball on my lap.  But you are growing taller, and soon that will change too.  I love when you sit on my lap while I'm doing my Bible study or checking the computer,  or when we read a story or just talk.

Just a few minutes ago you cuddled up to me on the green chair.  You made me crack up doing an impression from the movie Monster's Inc.  You made me smile when you gave me a "smooch" as you call those big old kisses of yours.  And you made my heart swell when out of the blue you asked, for probably the hundredth time, "Why did Jesus die on the cross?," and then answered your own question.

Lately when we sit and talk about all of our favorites, when I get to the question about what is your favorite Bible story, that's what you say - Jesus dying on the cross.

I pray you will always love Jesus.  Genuinely.  Authentically.  With every bit of passion in your soul.  Because if you do, and you place Him first in your life, you will be amazed at what a work He will do in and through you.

I pray you will grow up to be a "Mighty Man of God" like we've been talking about at bedtime these days.  I pray you will be a husband and father like your daddy, and meet and marry a kind, wonderful girl who loves Jesus and will love you and your family the absolute best she can.

I hope you never lose that twinkle in your eye, or that mischievous grin that will probably get you both in and out of trouble, but that brings joy to so many around you.  I hope you will always laugh from your gut and find optimism and laughter in the world, no matter how gray the skies are around you.  I pray that you will grow up to be a man who is generously loving and kind and jolly and fun and full of energy and passion, just like you are now at age four.

You are such a gift, Trevor.  I have prayed for you fervently since the moment I knew you were growing inside of me, and promise to pray for you as long as I live.  And I also promise that life will not be perfect and neither will we, but that Daddy and I will do our absolute best to love you lavishly while raising you with the boundaries that will help protect you and shape you into a man of integrity.

It's a tough job sometimes.  There are days we fall short, and there will be more days when we miss the mark.  But my son, my handsome son with the smile that lights up the room, we promise to do our best.  Because you and Madi are the greatest gifts God has ever given us, and we want to be good stewards of every gift He entrusts to us.

I love you Trevor.  I love you and your sister so much that some days it hurts.  And sometimes, like now as I type the last words of this letter, it makes me cry.  But my love for you also makes me smile, and laugh, and experience joy after joy after joy after joy.

Happy birthday, dear son. May God's fingerprints be all over your life.



Thursday, October 28, 2010


Not long ago my husband turned 35.  The next day we went out on a date and I snapped this picture of him...

And I decided that at 35 he is even more handsome, more wise, more protective, more loving, more patient, more tempered, more thoughtful, more talented, and more of a man of integrity than when I first fell in love with him.

And he was pretty incredible then.

Happy birthday, Love.  35 looks good on you.


Delivered On A Tray

My kindergartner eats lunch at 10:30.  In the morning.

I know, right?!

So by the time that bell rings at 3:00, she is starving!  Her favorite thing about after school snack is when she sits on my bed and I deliver her snack on a tray.  Her Grammie watches her on Tuesday afternoons while I teach piano, and I'm pretty sure she started this indulgence!

But it's something small that's special and fun, and that she will probably look back and remember fondly one day.  And I want to remember it too...

Because sometimes love comes delivered on a tray.

Chewing Coffee

So earlier today I was on a power errands run for an upcoming event at our church.  My "wittle" buddy was with me and we were blazing through stores like maniacs.  Around 1:15 I realized that the banana and yogurt I had for breakfast hours before had definitely worn off, and I was starving.  I was in Target, the extra awesome kind of Target that has a Starbucks in the front, and I decided to treat myself to my favorite fall drink, a pumpkin spice latte.

But not just any pumpkin spice latte.

I had heard people mention this thing about adding protein powder to their coffee drinks to power them up a bit.  So I had the bright idea to ask for mine with protein powder, so that it would be more filling and get me through my last stop and the 20 minute drive home.  Seemed like a great solution to my hunger pains and also seemed, I don't know, so modern.  "Tall, nonfat, pumpkin spice latte with protein powder and light whip.  Why yes, I'm a cool, sophisticated mom on the go.  Yes, that will be just perfect."

Trouble is, I found out that adding protein powder makes it feel like you are chewing coffee, and basically ruins a perfectly good pumpkin spice latte.  After giving it my best efforts I gave up and decided that any future splurges on a psl will not involve powder of any kind.  Glad that life lesson only cost $4 to learn.

I made my light-headed way through my last stop then thankfully passed some Golden Arches where I got myself a cheeseburger which, though definitely not modern, cool, or sophisticated, sure hit the spot!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Wincoln Wogs

We had an early birthday celebration for Trev while my husband's mom was in town.  When we were at our prayer and play group this morning, he recognized that his buddy had one of the toys he had received as a birthday gift from his grandma.

"Wook, Mommy, " he announced.  "Wincoln Wogs!!"

Wincoln Wogs.  I wuv that kid.  :)

He. Cares. For. You.

The chapter I dove into a few mornings ago during my Bible study was titled "Putting It In God's Hands."

Wow.  That title alone speaks volumes, doesn't it?!  The first verse, which was actually printed underneath the title, was I Peter 5:7.  I was so excited to tell Trevor, who was sitting on the floor next to me, because that was his memory verse in Sunday School a few weeks ago and when he learned it he was so excited to share it with me, his teacher, and anyone else who would listen to him!  His was a simplified version of the verse, stating the last four words..."He cares for you."

When he in his three year old voice recites this verse he pauses after each word, almost as if there is a period after each one...he says, emphatically, "He. Cares. For. You.  I Peter 5:7!!!"  Then he usually breaks out in a huge grin!

I wonder what it would do for our sometimes troubled and worried hearts if we would look in the mirror each morning and say, in Trevor style, four scriptural words to ourselves....

"He. Cares. For. You."

Because gratefully, He does.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wordless Wednesday Post (Because Sometimes No Words are Necessary)


I love the handmade autumn projects my daughter is bringing home from school these days!  They add life to our home, and to my favorite season!  Kindergarten is so cool.

Books, Books, Books!

...Oh, how I love them!!

And I came home from Women of Faith with a stack of new ones just waiting to be read and written in and enjoyed and pondered and applied to my life.  I can't describe the excitement I get from seeing a fresh pile of books and an empty mug waiting to be filled with coffee or tea!

I have always enjoyed the Women of Faith novels of the year...this year they sold the three fiction pieces in a bundle that I bought and can't wait to get into!

As you know, I love using the Women of Faith Bible studies - I am in the middle of one right now, but they were also selling three new ones in a bundle for a great price this year, so I purchased that and can't wait to dive into those as well.  The titles were captivating...

I also got Lisa Whelchel's book Friendship for Grown-Ups, and finished it today.  It was packed with very good information, but there was a portion I wanted to share with you tonight.  It is a conversation she once had with her daughter...

"One morning, my younger daughter, Clancy, came downstairs and sat on the couch beside me.  I could tell she was upset even before she said, "Mama, you taught me that if we bring sin into the light, that it takes away its power.  I can't keep this inside of me anymore. I need to get it out." Clancy proceeded to confess her struggle and failure in an area.

Although she was sixteen years old at the time, I scooped her up, put her in my lap, and held on tightly.  I kissed the top of her head and thanked her for trusting me enough to invite me into her hidden places.  I assured her that her imperfection only made me love her more.

She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said, "I think some mothers think they give birth to angels, and when they mess up they think they are more like fallen angels.  I'm glad that you know you gave birth to a human."

That touched my heart deeply.  Isn't that what we all want?  To be seen in all our glory, for better or worse; for the good, the bad, and the ugly - and to still be embraced and kissed and held?"

Oh, how I long to offer that kind of unconditional love and acceptance to my children.  They are flawed in their humanity yet so loved by the deepest parts of my heart, even though I have the closest view of the broken places. Oh, how thankful I am that God offers unconditional love and acceptance to us, to me, His daughter. And how grateful I am for the few people in my life who love me unconditionally in my own broken humanity.  I was inspired as I read this book to be a person who is safe with the hidden places in others, to pray that God will always provide someone safe for mine, and to thank Him that no matter what, He is that safe place.  My heart is safe in His love.

So much wisdom can be found in a book.  What are you reading that is impacting your life for good?!  Turn some pages that will help turn your heart further to the Father!!  

Good night and good reading to you, sweet friends!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Journey of Struggle and Hope

Last Friday afternoon I had about 30 spare minutes and I used those minutes to start a new book.  I read the first few chapters then had to put the book down for the rest of the afternoon and evening.  By 6:45 the next morning I was in my green chair with a cup of coffee and this book while the rest of my family slept.  I don't think I moved until about 9:45, then I made myself put it down.  Later that night when the kids were in bed, I finished it.

The book was Choosing to See by Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Christian singer and songwriter Steven Curtis Chapman.  The subtitle was A Journey of Struggle and Hope, and that was indeed a good synopsis of what Mary Beth shares about her adult life thus far.  It was one of the most honest books I've read, and I loved it for that.

It was one of those books that takes you all sorts of places emotionally.  Some parts were simply interesting details about their journey from young college newlyweds to a very famous couple in the Christian music world.  A few parts were extremely funny, one part so funny I laughed out loud until I cried!  Other parts were so painful I found myself feeling it physically.  I literally ached through a few chapters.

I don't want to share the details of why she chose the specific wording for the title, but it gives me goosebumps when I think about it.  What she and their family have endured, particularly through the loss of their daughter Maria in an unthinkably tragic accident, is beyond my understanding.  But I was so inspired that even in raw pain and questions, the Chapman family is choosing to see God and choosing to see hope, even in the struggle.

An overall theme of this book is that we can make all the plans we want, but God's plan prevails.  The more I journey into my adult life, the more I see this play out.  Proverbs 19:21 reads "There are many plans in a man's heart, nevertheless the Lord's counsel, that will stand."  Proverbs 16:9 says "A man's heart plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps."

I am thankful for the gift of this book as Mary Beth shares her story with both honesty about the struggles and hope for the journey.

Lord willing I will have the privilege of hearing her and Steven speak at Women of Faith this weekend, and I can't wait!!

Be blessed, friends.  And choose to see.

Love, Jennifer

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

One of the Best Deals of My Life!

So, you all know my affection for good deals, and how my whole life has involved creativity and living on a budget.  It's been necessary, but it's also been a fun challenge.  I like clothes (a lot) and have a pretty packed closet thanks to four things:

1) I choose a lot of classics that I wear foreverrrr.  I still have several things from college that I wear, and lots from the early 2000's.

2) I'm not wrapped up in name brands.  I will shop anywhere.

3) I get a few nicer, higher priced items a year as gifts for Christmas or my birthday that hold up well and last a long time.

4) The majority of what I buy is off of clearance racks and prices range from $3 to $15.

When it comes to clothes (and many things actually) I am a "variety is the spice of life" kind of girl. Because of these four factors and creative mixing and matching of clothing pieces and accessories, I get to enjoy my little clothes hobby.  I could take you through my closet and show you item after item that I got for under $10.00.  But the other day I got one of the best deals of my life, and I have got to share it with you!

I was celebrating my friend Liz's birthday - she wanted to go to her favorite wing place, and then to some outlets.  Sounded perfect to me! We had a ball!  While in the Coldwater Creek outlet, I saw a rack of belted of shirtdresses with a sign for $5.99, then another sign for an additional 40% off.  Sure enough, when my dress and belt rang up, the grand total for both was (are you ready for this)...


Liz and I were cracking up at the register, and I had that happy rush that I get from deal finding!  Liz  actually found two dresses for $2.99 apiece, and we both found gorgeous leather belts that were originally around $40 for $1.99.  Then at a shoe outlet, we both found adorable plaid fall flats for $7.00. They are actually perfect for this little dress!

A dress, belt, and shoes for around $10.00, topped off with the best buffalo wings I've ever had and fun with friends. Such a great day! 

Happy Birthday to Liz and Happy Deal Finding to you!

Monday, October 11, 2010


Here are a few more shapshots I took last Monday morning that help convey the calm and the energy, the coolness and the warmth of those hours.  From Bible study to baking to the way the sunlight was streaming through my kitchen windows, I felt compelled to capture the morning and I'm thankful now that I did.  

Last Monday Morning...

Well, friends, another week has gone by without much time at all to sit down at a computer.

I have been wanting to share with you about last Monday morning, but here I sit a week later realizing that I never did get around to doing that!  But it was one of those wonderful starts to a week that I think I'll just go ahead and share with you now...

First of all, it was refreshingly chilly outside - probably the first truly cool day we've had, and the morning air was delightfully crisp and fresh.  The house was cool when I woke Madi up for school, so I made her the first cup of hot cocoa of the season!  She just loves hot cocoa.  Then, it was even cool enough outside to wear knee socks (a new favorite thing) and an actual sweater to school!  Listen, we celebrate the little things about fall in the Sunshine State.  :)

After she left for school I lit some candles so the scent of autumn would flood my house, and settled into my green chair with the new Women of Faith Bible study I've been going through and a hot cup of coffee in my favorite oversized teacup.  I have a set of pictures that hang on my wall through the autumn and winter seasons.  They are of teacups, and the one simply says, "In the mid autumn, the oranges on her teacup were particularly vibrant."  I've always been taken by that phrase and that picture, and thought of it as I sipped the flavors of coffee beans and pumpkin spice.

If you ask Trevor what my favorite part of the day is, he would probably tell you that it is in the morning when he sits with me on my green chair while I sip my coffee and do my Bible study.  The older I get, the more I long for those quiet dates with my Heavenly Father and my little son. More and more I find myself craving time in the Word, and cherish when Trev sits with me for a few moments as I read and study the Bible.  Last Monday morning my pajama clad sweetheart climbed on my lap as I pulled out my Bible, devotional book, pen, and journal.  I asked if he wanted to sit with me while I did my Bible study and he said yes, then all of a sudden his chocolate eyes lit up and he exclaimed, "I want to do my Bible study too!!" He then reached down and pulled up a little Gopher Buddies Quiet Time book that Jimmy had brought home for him - it has a verse and thought and activity for each day of the week.  He very intently went through page after page, asking me to read him the verses and doing the little activities.  It was as sweet as life could get for me.  Honestly, sending my schoolgirl off with hot cocoa and marshmallow kisses on a glorious fall day, the scent of apple cider and cinnamon and tastes of pumpkin and spices filling my senses as I sat down to spend time with God and His Word, and a boy who didn't just want to sit with me while I did my Bible study, but wanted to do his Bible study too...for me, I could not think of a better start to a Monday morning!

As I look at these pictures (which I am now so thankful I snapped using one arm to hold the camera above us as we sat together) I see those little hands and I pray that they will not just throw balls and catch fish and do all the other wonderful things that little boys hands do, but that they will also be used to spread the kindness and love of Christ.  I pray that even though he is rough and tumble and busy and curious, that he will always maintain the sweet sensitivity that makes him love learning Bible verses and stories and asking questions and talking to Jesus.  I pray he will live out what he is learning, and that somehow in the absolute busyness of life God will grant Jimmy and I the grace and strength we need to shepherd both his and Madi's heart.

The other night as I was tucking Trev in, he kept asking me where God is.  Several times he pointed to the top bunk of his bunk beds and asked if he was up there.  After explaining that God is Heaven, but is also always with us (a hard concept to explain to a three year old) I asked him why he kept asking.  He said, "Because I want to give Him a kiss because I wuv Him."

Oh, how I pray that my son will always want to kiss the face of God.  How I pray that his love will always be that sincere and innocent, his fervor always that passionate.

I pray all these things with a grateful heart this Monday evening.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


These pictures from 2007 and a 2008 reveal why October is the month I miss Maryland the most...the glory of autumn splendor!

I am also struck by how much my children have grown in just a couple of years!  Seasons come and seasons go....

Random Ramblings From My Scattered Existence

For the last, oh, six weeks or so I have felt like a top.  Not as in a piece of clothing to cover the upper half of the body, but as in the toy that spins around and around very quickly until its momentum wears out and it is spun again.  This past week I barely got to a computer.  Since I have no internet on my phone this means very little time to keep up with friends on facebook or blog.  I've missed my blog.  So the following is a random sampling of what's been going on in my head and in my life the past week...

- I have been on a graham cracker kick lately.  This afternoon I crushed one and sprinkled it in my key lime pie yogurt.  That was a good idea.

- I made a Christian bookstore run earlier in the week and got a new Women of Faith devotional that I already started, and Mary Beth Chapman's book Choosing to See that I can't wait to start.  I could spend a fortune at bookstores if that was an option, couldn't you?

- Madi bought her first school lunch this week.  This was huge news.  Evidently she had to choose something green, so she told me she chose green beans but didn't eat them.  Nice.  I let her get another lunch on Friday (pizza day, whoop!) where she had to choose something yellow.  It was corn.  I think she ate it.

- Not only was Friday pizza day, but it was also school picture day!  Our first one!!  Madi looked like an American Girl doll before I sent her off.  Hopefully she still looked that way by the time they took the pictures, which in my opinion should have been about 2 minute after the bell rang with kindergartners!

- Luke 6:38 has been running through my mind all week for some reason.  "Give and it shall be given unto you." I want to be a giver. I want to live a life where I give before I receive.

- I am in the middle of a Karen Kingsbury novel, Shades of Blue, and it is a great read so far.

- My kids learned the "Cupid Shuffle" at Downtown Disney last week. Tonight Trev was singing it and it made me smile to hear him sing, "To the right, to the right, to the right, to the right, to the weft, to the weft, to the weft, to the weft..."  I will be sad when he masters his l's.

- I got to eat at our local tea room on Friday for my mom's birthday.  I had a chicken and pear wrap with greens, pecans, and apple cider vinaigrette.  No need for me to explain why I loved it so much! Oh, goodness, was it ever good.  So was spending time with my son, grandma, and parents.

- My husband and I can't get enough of old West Wing episodes on DVD lately.  Okay, so we're a decade behind, that's nothing new!  But it's politics, intelligent writing, and takes place in D.C.  We do miss living around the corner from the nation's capital sometimes...

-Today we had an event called "Just Us Cowgirls" at our church and wow, was it a wonderful morning!  My mom shared the devotion on how as Christians we are "branded" with the love of Christ, and how that love should be how we are known.  We ate barbeque.  We drank coffee punch.  We laughed at skits and cried at songs.  It made me very thankful for the women at our church, and for my mom and all she does as a pastor's wife to give women a place to connect.

- It seems with each day the more I realize that I am blessed beyond measure.  The more grateful I am for my Savior and my family.  The more compelled I am to do my best for both.

That's all for now.  I may elaborate on some of these ramblings at a later time.  But for now, these are a few pieces of life from my scattered existence to yours! 

Much Love.