Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Squish is Eight Months Old!

Happy 8 months, Squishy!

Happy Valentine's Day, and Happy 8 Months (+1 day) to my sweet Squishy!!!

Can we take a moment to bask in the fact that I was only ONE DAY LATE in taking his 8 month photos? Thank you, St. Valentine, for just the push I needed!

He wasn't nearly as smiley as he was last month, but I don't mind! Sometimes you just have to focus on the little (okay, BIG FAT!) details of baby numero IV. #wristsandthighsyall

Seriously. Let's just take another quick look at them thighs! What!? #squishyfordayzzz

Not too much new to report this month. He does love to stand (as evidenced above). And he's still eating and growing and sleeping (though never quite long enough for mommy) and being super chill and fun and awesome. He sits up independently for periods of time and still loathes tummy time. See?

Pretty much the second I put him down on his belly he gets M•A•D and immediately insists on flipping over on his back. Whatevs. He'll figure it out eventually. No rush here! I'm just enjoying every sweet moment with this gorgeous baby of ours. He literally is the best.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

The One with the Big Move

Okay, y'all. I've been debating for literally months about whether or not to write this post. But this blog has been my place to express my thoughts, document moments of significance, and share openly since I began writing in June 2008. It wouldn't be fair to my future self (or my kids!) reading through this blog in 30 years not to share what I'm about to.

Let me add one caveat: it's not personal. There's nothing in here that you will read below that is intended to be hurtful to any one person nor group of people. I have nothing but love in my heart for the people whom God has placed into my life -- whether for a day or a season or more -- so please know I do not intend to hurt or offend anyone by the honesty I'm about to share below.

In October 2017, God led my family to make a big move. As in, like, a gargantuan move. After what I look back on now and see as months--even years--of leading, He called my family to find a new church home. If you know me IRL, this may be surprising to you, considering my family has called the same church our home for TWENTY-SIX YEARS! That's basically 2/3 of my life that I've attended and served in just one church. So as you can imagine, leaving was not an easy decision. But as I have learned over the past few months, it was definitely the right one.

Here's a little backstory:

I was raised as a Nazarene my entire life. My family moved to South Carolina the summer before my first year of high school. So, like, 1990-something. ;) Without question, they began attending the local Nazarene church, which at that time was a large, active, thriving fellowship of believers. I enjoyed the youth program there during my high school years, but found it difficult to connect after high school because there wasn't much of a "college/singles" group to speak of at that time. The senior pastor who was there when we first started attending had left to take on a new congregation, and we had a new senior pastor take his place.

Over the next several years, I saw such a decline in the overall attendance of our church. Even worse, though, was a decline in the health of our church. People left in droves. Some of those who stayed behind were often frustrated with the overall (lack of) direction of our church.

It was during that time that I made my first attempt--as a single, working gal in my 20s--to find a new church home. A bigger church. One with an active college/single ministry. One where I could plug in and "do life" with others. And most importantly, one where I could both give of my time and God-given talents through worship, and grow in community.

I was reminded around that time by a great friend and spiritual mentor that nothing will change or improve in a broken church if everyone just jumped ship and walked away in search of something better. The reality was that some people just needed to stay behind to do their part in helping revive the church. Heal what was broken. Serve where servants were needed.

Ultimately I heeded that advice and stuck around. And I served. And I prayed. And I lived out 1 Samuel 12:24. I did all.the.things. I felt the Lord calling me to do. I was only one person, but I believed God would use my efforts--along with others--to accomplish His work. And I feel He did! I felt peace about serving. I felt God was pleased with my sacrifices. But I never truly felt like our church had become all that it was capable of becoming. All that it had once been. I'm sure that's not fair thinking on my part, but this is my blog and I'm allowed to be honest with how I felt, rose-colored glasses and all!

So fast-forward to more recent time (i.e. the past 2 years). I began feeling as though all of the things I had been doing just weren't enough. I was pouring more and more of myself into serving in various ministry areas at the church, and spending less and less time focusing on my family. My husband. My children. They were always so gracious when I'd have to leave home or miss special activities for any number of reasons (practices, meetings, etc.) and I told myself it was fine because all of the things I was doing were for God. For His church. But it started to become too much. I started to see where my marriage and family were suffering due to my commitments to the church. I don't think that's what God had in mind for me or for my family. I became convicted by Paul's words in 1 Timothy: "Anyone who does not provide for...their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Whoa. That's heavy. And eerily specific to how I was feeling. So I started to pull back a bit. I let go of a few obligations here and there. I stepped down from this ministry or that council. With each step, I felt like the scales were tipping closer to where they should be for the proper balance my family deserved. But they weren't quite there yet. In all of this, I was praying for God's guidance to ensure I wasn't taking a misstep. To be sure my motives were right. To be sure the choices I was making, and the consequences of those choices, were in alignment with His will for my family and I. Through it all, He gave me His blessing. Even when it wasn't easy--for me, or sometimes for others--He gave me His peace. So I continued down that path.

A side effect I didn't expect was that, in my experience, it seemed as though if I wasn't actively involved in serving in one (or more) ministry area(s), the community aspect of the church quickly began to melt away. Now, I'm the FIRST PERSON who will tell you that actively serving in your church is not only a necessity, but is a Biblical command. Ephesians, 1 Peter, Psalms... it's in there, folks! Serve one another so that in everything God may be glorified. So of course it's important to serve in your church. But what happens if you're new? Or what if you hadn't yet found a place to serve? Or if you feel God is calling you to step back from serving for a while? Are you suddenly less than? Are you no longer eligible for community?

I can't say there was a single moment or event that ultimately led to the decision to officially leave our home church. Looking back, it seems it was a gradual thing. It's as if (spoiler alert!) God had a plan in mind all along, and that slowly removing myself from the roles I had served in just so happened to pave the way for my family and I to move on quietly. There were no major holes left behind. No catastrophes. No official goodbyes. Everything went on as scheduled, only we were no longer a part of it. And that's truly a wonderful blessing!

Eventually, however, it did surprise me that seemingly no one noticed. I had been a member of this church for 26 years, blessed to serve in various ministry areas, and suddenly, without warning, my family and I were no longer there. I only need one hand to count how many people reached out to me during the following months as we began searching for a new church home (and I'm so grateful for those faithful friends!).

In reality, what was most heartbreaking for me was that my children, who have never known any other church, never received so much as a one single note, or card, or text, or phone call--anything!--to let them know they were missed. Nothing. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, as even as of the time of this post, hubs and I never received a single message from any member of the staff to inquire about our extended absence, or to let us know we were missed, or to wish us the best, or tell us they were praying for us. And that's okay. Because that which could have easily been upsetting and hurtful, God used as a confirmation in my heart that we were doing the right thing by seeking a new community of believers. That we were following Him wherever He led us. That He had another plan for us. And boy does He ever!

I am SO grateful for His leading and for where we find ourselves now. And I'm beyond excited for the many things He is doing now and for the ways He is going to help us grow in our faith and use us in the days ahead! I give Him the glory and praise and could not be more thankful for everything He is doing in the lives and hearts of my family! It was a scary decision to make this move, but in the end, all it required of us was to listen and obey. And God is taking care of the rest. We praise Him!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Squish is Seven Months Old!

Happy 7 months, Squishy!

My littlest guy turned 7 months old (ahem--two weeks ago), y'all! Isn't he just the most precious thing ever?

He's doing a great job of sitting up independently these days. Have I mentioned how I'm in no rush whatsoever to hurry up and meet developmental milestones? I'm pretty sure that makes me win at parenting.

He's finally over a bout of yuck where he had a terrible cough and gross nose situation happening. He was super moody and difficult, which obviously is SO not like him. I'm happy to report he's back to his casual, laid-back, mischievous baby self!

He's been sleeping 12+ hours at night and taking a few measly 20- or 30-minute naps during the day. Every once in a while, he surprises us with an hour or more, but that is super not his norm.

While he is usually happy and content (assuming full belly, clean diaper, and well-rested), he does eventually tire of mommy taking his picture over and over and over and over...

Today he was lucky that Big Sis was there to save him from his torturously evil, camera-wielding mother. He sure loves his LO!

He's continuing to try lots of different baby foods... and like *none* of them. I don't know what's up with this kid! He's all about some banana-flavored Gerber Puffs, but actual bananas? Eeeew, apparently. We've got some work to do on the food front, but I'm handing it waaaay differently than I did with the older 3. We're working on some baby-led weaning and offering food from our plates rather than solely focusing on baby purees. It's been a slow process, but the kid still nurses like a champ so I'm not worried. I mean, have you seen the rolls on this kid?? #love

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Squish is Six Months Old!

Happy 6 Months, Squishy!

Y'all, please don't hate. I have FOUR kids. Count 'em! FOUR! This, apparently, lends itself to having Z-E-R-O free time nor any ability to manage time in general. Please note today is technically January 9th. Squish was officially 6 months old on December 13th. He will be 7 months in FOUR DAYS, PEOPLE. Four. Time is madness!

Speaking of time... please take note of the horrible photo quality! It's an iPhone pic, guys. I didn't even have the time to take a REAL LIFE OFFICIAL HALF-YEAR PHOTO OF MY BABE! Let's just say our trip to Great Wolf Lodge the second week of December, paired with hosting a Christmas party, the little guy's 6-month well visit, my nephew's wedding, meeting with caterers (plus several dozen other tasks for a little gathering I'm throwing this Sunday), photography sessions, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year's Eve, not to mention homeschool back in session from our holiday break... WHEW, Y'ALL! I mean, I know this is typically a busy time of the year, but WHOA! I'm surprised I've remembered to breathe this past month! So hopefully all of the aforementioned crazy will eventually excuse the "poor 4th child" syndrome my little Squish is apparently destined to develop, my extraordinary efforts notwithstanding.

Our sweet little continues to be a ridiculously awesome babe! And he's getting SO big! At his 6-month well visit, which technically was 12/18/2017, he was a big ol' 17 lbs. 7 oz. (though he has since topped the 18 lbs. mark). Just take a look at those legs above! And that belly hanging over the waistband of his pants! I cannot even!

This boy is still not a huge fan of tummy time, but he'll hang out for a few seconds before he rolls over onto his back. He has yet to roll from back to tummy (again, because of that love of tummy time LOL!), and he isn't sitting up independently yet, either. Ask me if I care! Hahaha! With this fella being our final, I can't help but NOT be in any hurry whatsoever with his developmental milestones. Just what you wanna hear from a parent/homeschool teacher! Hahaha!

He has started eating stage 1 baby foods, and is a big fan of pears, butternut squash, applesauce, and sweet potatoes. Basically anything that ISN'T green beans. Bless. He's also had some rice cereal, which he also enjoys. Boy likes to eat, y'all!

He's probably the most hilarious baby we've ever had. Seriously he keeps us laughing all.the.time! He's just so chill and thinks pretty much everything is funny. Balancing a paci on his forehead is one of his many impressive skills. See?

THIS FACE. This is the one that I cannot get enough of! When he gets really excited and can barely contain himself?! This is what you get! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

((My apologies for the iPhone pics today, guys!))

I seriously promise to do better for his 7 month pictures ((in 4 days)). <--- gah="" p="">

Monday, November 13, 2017

Squish is Five Months Old!

Happy 5 months, Squishy!

I love this boy SO MUCH!!!!! And let's just take a moment to let it all sink in... Why, yes! I DID manage to take his pictures ON his ACTUAL month-birthday. Why, yes! I DID manage to edit his pictures on his actual month-birthday! And, yes! I did manage to write and upload a blog post ON HIS ACTUAL MONTH-BIRTHDAY. Can I puh-leaze get some props and high-fives over here?!

Last month on his 4-month post I wrote, "Okay, so I officially promise that I'm going to try reeeeeaaaaally hard to take his 5 month pictures ON or very much NEAR his 5 month birthday. We shall see!" Yay! I did it! I did it!! :)

And really, just in case you were ever wondering who is UNIVERSALLY HANDSOME, it's this guy!

I just can't get enough of those smiles!

Loving the many, many faces of sweet Squishy!

Haha! Mr. Grump McGrumperson!

And of course I cannot forget today's photography helper... thanks, E!!

He loves his tummy time! I'm so glad he's not feeling inclined to do much rolling over yet, though. :)

Check out this sweet boy of mine!

And I absolutely cannot forget these sweet tootsies! Love love love these sweet feet!

Baby feet for the win!

Squish is just the best. He had a great weekend at home with Daddy and his siblings while Mommy was gone for a ladies retreat in Myrtle Beach. He was happy to see me when I got home last night, so that made my heart so happy! I missed him (and the others) so much!

He's still just such a happy and laid-back baby... it's wonderful! Unless he's hungry or super tired, he just relaxes and enjoys being his happy self. As I mentioned above, he's not rolling over yet, which is so totally fine by me! He's discovered his feet, though, and loves having them up in his face. I mean, they're so cute so why wouldn't you want a close-up of them? LOL!