Friday, November 22, 2013

My Inspirational Hodge Podge: Part 2



On Bourbon Street. At 2:30 in the afternoon. Wow. 

This post is overdue. 

And for all two of you who were actually interested in seeing my inspirational quotes, I apologize.

But, I have an excuse.  

We left town to visit family in New Orleans. (Now the picture above is making sense, yeah?)


At Cafe Du Monde: Swimming in Powdered Sugar

What a quick, but amazing trip. We ate waaaay too much Cajun food (still working that off in the gym). We got to pet alligators and snakes. We rode four-wheelers. We walked around the French Quarter (which I haven't been to since I was twelve). We went to Cabela's (best store ever). Heck, we did the whole Southern Louisiana thang.


Jackson Square: The French Quarter

It was awesome.

We soaked in family moments. 

Aaaaand...

We left our computer charger behind. 

So, we had a dead computer for *gasp* over a week. 

So, without further ado (Did I even say that right?), here are some of the quotes posted throughout my house any place I needed "taped-up motivation." 

Some of them were actually words of encouragement for myself, from myself. 

Here ya' go!


When I'm Struggling with Contentment:

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." -Martin Luther King

"Just remember that someone out there is more than happy with less than what you have." -Unknown

"If you are waiting for the day you finally "arrive", you will never get there. Be content or it will never be enough." -Yours Truly

"Happiness is not a destination. It is a moment by moment decision to find the blessings in whatever circumstance I am in." - Yours Truly


When I Am Snappy with My Husband and Kids:

"It is more important to show grace than to be right." -Yours Truly

"My kids will learn how to live life by my example. Don't complain. Allow mistakes. Accidents are just that. Be content. Give to others. Smile. Relax. Tickle. Laugh. And love the Lord with all you have." -Yours Truly

"My true self is shown in how I treat those closest to me. Lord, flavor my words, my actions, and my reactions with grace understanding, and love." - Yours Truly

"Three things you cannot recover in life: the WORD after it's said, the MOMENT after it's missed and the TIME after it's gone. Be careful!" - Unknown

The Most Important Quote I Say Daily (slowly and aloud)

"The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. 
He makes me to lie down in green pastures. 
He leads me beside the still waters. 
He restores my soul; He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. 
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever." -Psalm 23


That last one reminds me that I have a God who is there and in control. Even when I don't see it. 

Memorize it. 

And when you are stressed, close your eyes and say it aloud. I'm thankful I started saying this every day. It has helped me more than any quote I or anyone else could come up with. :) 

Blessings to you this Thanksgiving! Soak in the moments. (Like we did in The Big Easy!)  
Peanut with my awesome niece, Heather, at Cabela's. (A.K.A.- "Heaven")

Me and my precious cousin, Ashley, eating Cajun food for lunch. Cajun is one of my faves.


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Inspirational Hodge-Podge: Part 1



The days are so full right now. 

Not as in busy.

Full.

And, sister-friends (my new favorite phrase), I am soaking in the fullness.

Each day is new

The Lord graciously pulled me through the storms of this past year. And, I am grateful for every day during this season of un-eventfulness. Because, I know all too well that at any moment, things could change. 

Not that I live in fear or expectation of disaster...but I have come to realize and expect that life is crazy. Messy. And at times, can seem too much to bear. 

But, I can honestly say that I know the Lord has my back even when all else falls apart. He has proven Himself faithful, even when I doubted that very fact. 




It has been a time of reflection

I have been searching out scripture and quotes that inspire me to become more than what I already am. 

We are surrounded by negativity all day long. Our inner dialogue sometimes can be our own worst enemy. (Mine can be brutal and has in the past led me down the path of depression numerous times!)

I've learned to combat it...

...by talking to the One who made me and loves me in a mighty way. He longs for me (and You!) to give Him our hearts: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Trust me. He can handle it. (Cuz, I have got some ugly in me, I guar-awn-tee!!)

...by getting back into the Bible daily. It is full of hope and truth to put my feet on solid ground. 

...by posting positive quotes, sayings, and scriptures wherever my eyes might land. (I like to post them where I find myself most often in times of annoyance, stress, or anger. For me, the kitchen is where I tend to find myself getting bitter or stressed. So, I place my "words" above the kitchen sink on my window. For some, it might be the car or in your reading nook... (Wait. Does anyone actually have a reading nook?) 

You see? We are all in a battle within our mind. It is actually where the greatest battle is fought. (And it is the toughest to find victory!)

But, by replacing those negative thoughts with Truth and positivity, your internal dialogue can be dramatically different. And I don't know anyone who doesn't want positive change!

Because the Truth is?

You are worth more than what you think.

You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a Creator who does care, regardless of how you feel towards Him.

You can overcome. 

Things can get better.

There is hope.

God is hope and Hope does not disappoint. (And in those moments when it seems God is disappointing you? Been there. Mucho numero times. Take hope! He has promised to never leave you. He is working. It might be painful. It's just that sometimes we can't see how He is working it all out during the daily grind.)


Now, GO! Print out some words of life. And make your house look like a note-pad of inspiration!

PS. Truth is hard at times. It forces us to see ourselves for who we really are. Don't fight that, though. Allow it to make you all your were created to be. :) 

PSS. I will be posting some of my favorite quotes and things that are woven in and around my house later this week. I pray they will inspire you and convict you as much as they have me. Much love ladies! 

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Thursday, September 5, 2013

Peanut Smells Weakness

Peanut holding a sand flea in Nags Head. Outer Banks, August 2013.

I've become that parent.  

With my first child I was the "on-top-of-it-all disciplinarian." No bad deed went unpunished. With every negative behavior, I was right there to guide and correct. But, most of all? I followed through. If I said, "no" I meant "no." I was stern and firm. (and probably patted myself on the back for doing such a fine job at this parenting thing...)

Then Peanut came along. 


He bats his eyes, folks. LITERALLY. Bats his eyes to get his way! He is one little package of bluff-calling cuteness and He. has. my. number.

Lately, he has been testing his limits like a pro. In fact, he has mastered the art of wearing me down with incredible laser-like precision.

Case in point:


I have been pushing for him to drink more water. Less milk and juice. More of the clear stuff.  


But, Boy looooooves some chocolate milk. With an unbridled passion.


Drinking his beloved "choc-ut milk" with Opie. 

I'll bet he asks me ten times a day for chocolate milk. Ten times, I tell ya! At least. 

And if begging for chocolate milk doesn't seem to be getting him anywhere, he moves on to the lesser of two evils... 

Juice

"Mommy, can I have choc-ut milk?"

"NO."

"But, I want cho-cut milk."

"NO."

"Can I have choc-ut milk?"

"Are you kidding me? NO!" 

"But, I WANT CHOC-UT MILK!"

"I. said. 'NOOOO'!"

"Can I have gw-ape juice?"

"NoooooOOOO. You can have water."

"But I want gw-ape juice?"

"WATER!"

"Can I have ow-ange juice?"

(At this point, I begin to question my sanity.)

"You may have water. That is it. Now, hush!"

"But, I don't want water! I. WANT. CHOC-UT. MILK!"

Aaaaaand he full-circled his way baaack to chocolate milk. 

Like a champ.

And I cave. 

'Cuz I'm WEAK!

Turtleback Zoo, NJ. August 2013. "Mommy, can I put my head in dat water?"

Who knew I'd be going toe-to-toe with this teeny-tiny munchkin???? Persistent little booger! And as frustrated as I get, I wanna squeeze the livin' daylights out of him 'cuz he's even adorable peck-peck-pecking away at my resolve!

But, it's time to add a little something to my lipstick and mascara repertoire.

War paint.

Oh, Peanut...it. is. ON!  

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Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The Calm After The Storm


I've been wanting to blog.

Honest.

Oh, I sat down numerous times and began to write. But, it would open up a floodgate of emotions and I would end up deleting it all.

The past few months were the hardest I have ever lived, watching my son battle health issues and anxiety.

I cried out to God harder and louder than ever before.

I prayed for healing. I prayed to hear His Voice. I prayed for clarity, sanity, wisdom, patience, grace....But, most of all, I just prayed that I could keep it together for my children one. day. at a time.

I would love to say I handled it all with grace, dignity and faith. But, I didn't.

I was angry, anxious and bitter.

The bottom line?

I questioned God's goodness. His faithfulness. His trustworthiness.

And honestly? I wasn't too sure He had me like I thought He had.

But, in the midst of the storm, God, in His great mercy and love, kept whispering to this Momma that this battle was about more than Opie's health. To open my heart to Him and let Him guide my steps.

As we are now coming out of the ashes, I am truly humbled at the lessons that God allowed me to
learn.

And, though I have so far to go, I am grateful that He heard my prayers and led me step by step.

Minute by minute.

I may never know the reasons why He allowed all of this to take place. I will, however, never cease to be amazed at how He used it for good...

It is through the storm that we truly are forced to rely on His strength.




Lord, you know me inside and out. You have seen my highs and lows. You have carried me through these past few months. I am thankful for your healing in Opie's life. To see my son laughing and eating without pain is something I can't take for granted. But, while I waited for your answer, you used that time to change me. You healed parts of me where I had built walls. You revealed hard truths that I was avoiding. You taught me how to trust you more. You heard this Momma's prayers and held me in the palm of Your Hand when I was too angry and weak to go on. Your faithfulness is too great for me to understand. May I forever be changed. Thank you. For loving me too much to give me what I want. For knowing me so deeply. For taking this heart and mind and continually peeling back the layers of it to reveal Your heart in me. I pray that this change will be evident to those around me and that You will penetrate their deepest hurts to bring about healing in those dark places. You are good. You are faithful. You are my Rock. And I will spend my days serving You and thanking You for all you have done.

He is able.



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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Summer: To Schedule or Not to Schedule?

Now, let me first prep this blog by saying...

I do NOT have my stuff together.

And, after reading this, if you seem to think otherwise, let me again reassure you...

I do NOT have my stuff together.

I do, however, try to get-it-together as much as possible for my fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants personality.

If it were up to me, I would just take each summer day as it comes. However, my two boys tend to gravitate towards electronics waaaaay to easily, so I have had to get creative in order to keep them from doing so. 

On top of that, I always have grandiose plans of teaching my kids fun facts about animals, the earth, and other kid-friendly topics. However, if I don't schedule it, I will get sidetracked with Facebook laundry, dishes and other household chores. 

So I decided to bite the bullet and try what all the organized moms were doing. Hey, you can't knock it 'til you try it, right?

I found an awesome Summer schedule printable at iheartorganizing.blogspot.com. Just click on her link to check it out. I played around with it, placed text boxes in it and tailored it to meet our needs. It turned out super-cute-o (and for this un-techy girl, that's impressive). Here is the original from her blog: 


iheartorganizing.blogspot.com


We have been following our little schedule this week, and though every day isn't perfect, it has definitely helped keep me and my boys on track. It forces me to keep track of time and see what's coming next. 

I even went through my calendar and placed one subject each week-day to spend a little time learning about. 

Nothing fancy, people

Yesterday, we learned about clouds. I found a YouTube kid's video for them to watch and then we glued cotton balls and raindrops on light blue paper. (And note they are cotton-rounds, seeing as I didn't have any balls...hey, work with whatcha got.)




Bam. Done.

And, might I add, that I had totally been getting my cirrus, stratus and cumulus clouds mixed-up over the years.

Oh, the HORROR!


Today's subject was "The Moon." We Googled to find a kid's video to watch. And then I proceeded to make a "moon" out of cornstarch, baking soda and water. Here's the recipe and directions to make the "dough." 


I took the top from a water bottle and let them "stamp" the dough to make "moon craters." Once it dries and hardens, they will paint their "moons."

It was messy. And I might have lost my Mommy-cool once or twice, (just keepin' it real, ya'll) but in the end we made the flippin' moon and even had some dough left over. 

I made some beads from the left-over dough for a jewelry craft to do another day. I figure they can paint the beads and string them on some yarn as gifts for Bible class teachers or something. 



We will see how long I can maintain this Summer schedule thang. Some days will just be play-on-the-porch-and-blow-bubbles kind o' days...and I am sooooo okay with that. 

Happy Summer Ya'll!

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Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Man

He is laid back.

He is wise.

He is faithful.

He is forgiving.

He is a rock.

He is my biggest fan.

He speaks less and listens more.

He has walked through the fire with me... and and held my hand the whole way.

He is an amazing Daddy.

He is my boys' hero.

He builds forts, shoots guns, and lets Opie have a knife collection. 

He loves my boys with a firm, relentless love. 

He makes the future seem full of hope and possibilities.

He's more than I deserve. 

He ain't perfect. 

But, He's great in the ways that count.

Thank you, Lord, for this man. 

He is Your Man. 



Happy Father's Day 
to an amazing Daddy to my boys!

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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Parenting Beyond the Playground

The hard part of parenting is beginning.

I've enjoyed parenting small children. 

I've been able to guide, distract, direct, and spanky-spoon my kids into proper behavior. They aren't perfect kids by any means, but parenting seems more black and white when children are younger.

"Don't hit the kid with the stick."

"Pick up your toys or you'll go to time-out."

"If you do that again, you will not get ice cream."

I consider that "playground parenting", which is highly important and necessary. Don't underestimate laying the foundation for good behavior when your kids are little.

But now, parenting has taken on a whole new meaning. 

Opie has dealt with a lot the past few years: moving multiple times far away from friends and family, dealing with a traveling Father, and lately, his unidentified sickness.

I knew it had taken a toll on him. Tonight he shared his thoughts.

And I was humbled.

I have never felt so unable

I felt so inadequate listening to him. Trying to comfort him. Trying to make sense of his heart's precious words. 

How could I expect to impart wisdom to a nine year old things that I am still struggling with myself?!?!

But, I was reminded in my heart that I can't focus on myself. In fact, I told him, "I will let you down. Because I am human. I will not handle this all perfectly. God is the only one who will never do you wrong, even when you think otherwise."


Opie and I. High Point State Park, NJ. June 2013

Can I just say, booooy, do I want to "fix" Opie. I want to take it all away. His fears and anxiety. His worry. His troubles. 

But, I can't.

I can continue to seek God, though. And to ask Him to lead me. To change me. To teach me to lean on Him for my strength.

And encourage Opie to do the same.




I will continue to be there for my son. 

I will listen.

And love.

And cuddle with him as he drifts off to sleep. 

Yes, this is the tough side of parenting that I wasn't prepared for. 

But, then again, none of us are. We are each flawed people, full of backgrounds and plenty of our own internal "junk." 

The good news is: God can take my weak, fragile heart and through the Spirit of Jesus, grant me the grace, humility and power to lead my precious Opie through this storm of life.

And by golly, I am his Mom. So I WILL accept that challenge. 


Opie and I. High Point State Park, NJ. June 2013.
Lord, lead me. Minute by minute. Take Opie's mind and fill it with your peace. Your strength. Your hope. Help me to be radically changed by your Spirit so that I may have the ability to be the Mom I need to be for Him. I can not do it without you, Lord. I will fail miserably if it is by my strength. You are in control. May I be the hands and feet and words of Jesus to my children. Teach me Lord. I am willing to learn. May Opie come to know your tenderness and love in the depths of his heart. May he lay his worries at your feet and live a life full of your Presence. Please help me model what that looks like right in front of him. 


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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Big Bottoms and Pirates

Every mother has horror stories.

You know. 

The ones where your kids observe something or someone in public.

Then they say their observation out loud

Where others can hear

Including the person they are "observing."

Both of my boys have done it. 


Opie. Christmas 2008.
When Opie was two, we were at the grocery store waiting behind a lady in the checkout line. Let's just say this lady had a little "junk in her trunk." 

And Opie noticed. 

Standing two feet behind her behind, he shouted, "Mom! That lady's got a BIG BOTTOM!"

Mor. Ti. Fied.


Peanut. June 2013.

Today, while checking out at the grocery store (What is it with my boys and grocery store check out lines?), Peanut started going nuts and saying loudly, "Mom, look! It's a pirate! A pirate, Mommy! Look!

Opie and I turned around to see what he was going on about. I figured he had spotted a large poster or a T-shirt with a skull and crossbones on it. 

Nope. 

There was an old man behind us checking out. 

Wearing an eye-patch. 

I whipped my head back around at whiplash speed while the checkout clerk let out a muffled, "Ohhhhhh no."

Oh yeah. We got outta there. 

Real quick-like.


What are your horror stories? Leave them in a comment! Anyone else have bad luck in check-out lines besides me? :)


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Monday, June 3, 2013

Random. Totally.



I'd like to meet the people who go around placing red stickers on deer-crossing signs.  I've seen hundreds of those deer transformed into Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer all the way from Alabama to Jersey. 

I wonder if they have a stash of red circular stickers in their car at all times. 

How do they find the time to pull over on highways and back roads, stand tippy-toed and put that sticker on the deer's nose?

It would seem they share my love for all things Christmas. 

But, that's a whole 'nother level of Yuletide commitment.

I wonder if it's considered vandalism. 

I'd totally plead their case in court. 

I wonder if these polka-dotted deer signs are actually manufactured, which makes me look like a total doofus thinking they are stickers.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Little Light

At Chuck E. Cheese for Opie's birthday get-away day

I wouldn't blame you if you thought my blog had turned into gloom and doom. 

It's a heavy season of life.

But, seasons pass. 

And just to show you that God throws a little light into the darkness, I thought I'd share a few of my favorite light moments lately:

Opie, being silly.

Austin loves playing the game "Wipe Out" on the Wii. He and Jayden were playing it the other day while I was in another room reading my Bible. I overheard them talking so sweetly to each other. (which is reason to celebrate in our home...) 

Jayden said, " You're the best brother ever." Austin replied, "You a good buddy. Oh my gosh! It went towards me. Your turn!" When they won the game, Austin shouted, "We just won a hunj-chousan-dah'yers!" 

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Jayden gave me advice when he saw I was a little overwhelmed. It was advice I'd previously given him. He said, "Mom, don't worry about tomorrow because today has enough trouble of it's own." (Matthew 6:34) 

Glad something good I said is sticking with him, though, right?!?! 

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I found out my Mom is wanted for pillow thievery. Hilarious long story that made me laugh 'til I cried.

I love when hilarious stories are God's way of bringing a little light into our dark moments. :)

Peanut, at a Scranton, PA Trailblazers game. Who can be down when you are at a ballgame with Spiderman and Cracker Jacks? 

Lord, in the dark, allow me to see the light moments. Thank you for laughter. For sunshine. For my family. And for being a God who loves to make me smile even in the midst of trials. I love you. 


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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Dark Moments

It's been the hardest two months of my life, watching my child go through physical illness with no answers from doctors.

Seeing his fear and worry. Hearing his prayers for healing. Answering his questions, "Why won't God heal me, Mama?"

NOT easy.

There have been low moments. Dark moments.

I wish I could say I've passed this test so far with flying colors, but that wouldn't be truthful.

When catastrophe hits, the real me comes out.

My distrust with God shows. My anger and resentment take over. My worry, fear, anxiety and selfishness become second nature.

But, something has changed in me this time. 

God has plunged into the depths of my heart. To bring to light areas that I have avoided. Areas I've neglected to hand over. Areas too painful to deal with.

He has used these dark moments to show me how only He can bring hope into a hopeless situation. (I have read scripture on God's hope over and over and over the past couple of weeks.) I have cried many tears and begged and pleaded with Him. I have had to be painfully honest with myself. 

You see, He has shown me that I've been too busy... with life. I've been a distracted parent and wife.

I've neglected important things because I've been distracted by unimportant things.


But, funny how when your child is sick, nothing else matters except getting them well. "Things" no longer matter at ALL.


What matters is, God has brought hope to my heart. He has filled me with peace that passes understanding. He has used this trial to transform me, my family and best of all, my relationship with Opie.

I've loved Opie, but I have not loved him well

I won't say I'm thankful my child is sick. No WAY

But, what I will say, is I am thankful for a God who radically pursues my heart and will use even the worst situations to turn my heart towards Him. Because he wants me to live this life in the full knowledge of how much he loves me. He wants me to intimately know Him. 

We will continue to pray for healing and also follow the doctor's recommendations. But, at the end of the day, I will rest in the arms of the One who spoke into existence all things. That brings my heart peace, knowing Opie is in the palm of His hands. 



Lord, grant me the strength to keep going. The faith to stay hopeful. The wisdom to make the right decisions for my precious son. And the ability to look for ways to bless others even in my dark times. Thank you for changing me. For opening my eyes to see that I had become a negative, overworked, stressed out, selfish Momma. Force me to soak in these fleeting moments with my two boys. Help me stop rushing. To play more. Wander more. To let the dust bunnies roam freely. I want to be changed, so that my boys can see You in me. Lord, you are faithful. I will praise You in all things. Thank you for healing my heart and giving me hope.


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I WILL be different. I will NOT live with regrets. 
Here's to soaking it in....






Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Birthday Boy


May 16, 2004. 10:17 am. An angel arrived. 
8 lb. 10 oz. 21"
Goodness personified. 

Today my first born turned nine.

Opie is a gift from God.

He is my obedient, tender-hearted child.

He wishes so badly to please others and to excel at all he does.

He is thoughtful, considerate and kind.

He is a dreamer and I love that about him.

More than anything, he is full of life. His laughter and ability to make others laugh is one of his many gifts.

He is special. I mean, special.

I think I take him for granted sometimes, since he is such an easy-going kid.

He has a bright future ahead of him.

Bright like his hair.

The hair that I still hold the first cut locks of.

This boy has been a joy to raise.

A sheer joy.


Age 3: Greenville, SC. At the park by the zoo. He loved that playground.
Age 3: Visiting cousins in Atlanta, GA.
I wish I could have made time stand still in this moment. He was giggling on the trampoline.
I remember not being able to take my eyes off of him. 
Age 3: The house he was first raised in. He used to climb up inside this chest of drawers/armoire on top of my clothes. I remember thinking at the time, "One day, I'll look back at this when he's too big to fit inside and realize what a precious moment this was." I was right.
Time, why must you hurry so?
Age 3: Greenville, SC. Near Reedy River Falls. A day of perfection. Look at that innocence and joy on his face. Oh, to be a child again. 
Age 4: Birmingham, AL. Our apartment at the Summit. I heard, "Mom! Come look!" And this is what I rounded the corner to. I grabbed my camera and laughed hysterically. What a silly boy!
Age 4. Birmingham Botanical Gardens. He was a ham for the camera. I remember feeling such a sense of fulfillment to see my first born growing into such a good, funny boy.
I was enthralled by this guy. Still am. 
Age 4. Visiting friends at Margeo land. He got to shoot his Daddy's B.B. gun and go four-wheeling and camping in a cabin. He still loves this kind of stuff. ALL boy.
Fifth Birthday at Crossbridge Church. He had a dinosaur decorated party in the gym with a bouncy house. It was the easiest and best party he'd had so far. 
Age 5. Gardendale, AL. Our little Alabama home. And our first snow there. It was fantastic. 
Age 6. Finally got the little brother he'd prayed for.
And what an amazing big brother he has been ever since.
Age 6. New Jersey. Celebrating his favorite holiday at the time: St. Patrick''s Day. However, after finding out that leprechauns weren't real, he was devastated and the holiday has never been the same. 
Turning 8 last year in Jersey. His Miami Heat basketball party. His favorite party of all time. 
Age 8. Christmas 2012. Made this gingerbread house with Mommy. Love those moments with him.
Age 8. NYC March 2013. Visited the Intrepid while Maw-Maw was in town. He loved the planes, but he does NOT love NYC. :)
Age 8. November 2012. Still a ham for the camera. And what a future this kid has....

Celebrating turning nine at Chuck E. Cheese. What a blessed day.

You make my heart full, Opie.

My tears over your growing up are comforted by the fact 
that I know you will grow into a man of God and do great things. 
I love you, son.
Remember to be patient with yourself, as you have your whole life ahead of you to become the man I know you will become. Laugh more. Worry less. And never forget that God created you for a specific purpose. A purpose that you are fulfilling every day. 
I love you more than life. 

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