Thursday, June 30, 2011

Transforming, by grace

If you've been in my house once, you probably know I have a thing for butterflies.

Sure, they're pretty. And colorful. And make nice home decor.

But they remind me that we weren't made to stay the same. In all our imperfections, God wants us to draw near to him and let him make us new. Yes, there was a specific time I decided to live like this for the first time. But there have been thousands of times since I've had to let go of my pride and perfection and give the reins back to the Creator. But, thankfully, his grace is there to cover me. Time and time again.

Within the chrysalis, caterpillars are transformed into butterflies. They literally grow wings. They no longer look they did when they began.

Greg ordered for Cate a butterfly kit. Of course, we had to pay $5 more and send away for the caterpillars before we could really get started. But now we're started. And we're waiting on the caterpillars to eat all their supposed to eat so they can weave themselves into a chrysalis.

Cate's watching. And waiting. And soon she'll get to witness the transformation. In the caterpillars and, by the grace of God, in her momma.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Watching movement vs. wanting to move

We took Ben to his first theater movie on what was a rainy Saturday this past weekend. "Cars 2" will go down as his first theater movie, even though technically he sat with me through "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" last summer when it was re-airing as a cheap children's special. I'm pretty sure he slept through much of that one.

He watched the first part of "Cars" well. And ate lots of popcorn. Yes, that's a lingering piece of popcorn on his cheek in the picture. Then he got restless, so I gave him Skittles one at a time and took him out for a diaper change. His restlessness wasn't bad behavior, though. He just wanted to move around more than I wanted him to. He just wanted to be one of the big kids we were with. He was done with watching the cars on the big screen; he probably wanted to drive a car in a race instead.

Even though two hours {Technically, the movie was 1 hour 53 minutes long, plus previews and a random "Toy Story" short ...} in a theater isn't the optimal place for a 19-month-old boy who likes to be on the move, it was a fun afternoon with friends in the most crowded movie theater I've experienced in our small town. I consider it a success, and I'll do it again. Of course, I'll wait for another movie that makes me want to venture into the darkness with two small kids.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Welcome, Kieran!

Kieran Gary Thomas Taylor was born today at 10:07 a.m. He weighs 7 lbs. 14 oz. and is 19 3/4 inches long. Congratulations, Angela and Charles!

I'm so glad I was there when Elijah (7 1/2 years old) and Ethne (5 1/2) got to meet their new baby brother! Elijah couldn't stop grinning and Ethne said more than once, "He's so cute!" Evelyn (2) was busy taking a nap.

Cate was excited to have a turn holding her new cousin. This makes seven Taylor cousins!

"Ben, do you want to kiss the baby?" He snuggled him sweetly. Then he patted his head softly ...

You can see more pictures celebrating Kieran's arrival here.

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Saturday, June 25, 2011

"Actually ..." she says.

Cate's been talking for a long time. She's observant. She's funny. And she's very into details.

Yet my 4-year-old daughter seems even more grown up lately with her stories. She says "actually" and sounds more grown up each time. She remembers things I didn't even realize she heard or saw. Often the conversations are drawn out, thanks to the details, and really close to the other person's face.

She was telling cousin Ethne a story about wearing a purple tank top and purple "spinner" {aka "skirt"} earlier in the day but then spilling milk on it. So she picked out a second purple outfit. And don't forget the cowgirl hat.

This week featured some Cate comments I'm thinking could be classics. I was loading the kids into the van to go meet Gran-Gran for lunch when Cate asked where we were going to eat. I told her Quizno's and then she consulted her Dora map and told me how to get there. Instructions included "Go by the tree."

Another day we were getting ready to run some errands {something about the van must inspire my girl} when she was looking at a small book we'd gotten at Christmastime when we went to the Live Nativity. She pointed to a picture of a town and said, "Is this Jerusalem?"

See, a detail I had no idea she'd ever retained.

I looked at the words in the book and said, "That's actually Galilee."

Then she says, "Jesus was born in Bethlehem." Indeed he was.

And then she asked me to turn up the song on the radio. Just a momentary break in the ongoing conversations we have.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Craving information, the diabetic version

I wore this small piece of technology on my stomach for three days this week. And, yes, I took a picture to show you.

More than seven years ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, meaning I'm dependent on insulin to maintain "normal" blood sugar levels. I take one kind of insulin each night and I take another kind with each meal. I check my blood sugar with a little finger stick at least six times day.

And most days it doesn't bother me.

But, lately, this chronic condition of mine has been making me crazy. My blood sugar levels have been up and down, often without obvious explanation. Not only is this frustrating to my perfectionist tendencies, but it also makes me feel lethargic and irritable when it's high and shaky and absent-minded when it's low. And the fluctuation leaves me with a headache.

So I went to my new-to-me doctor for help. And help he was. We had an informative, encouraging conversation about how quick-acting insulin peaks, how fat slows the digestion of food, my dosage of long-acting insulin and about many other variables, including physical stress from the fluctuating numbers and how my body protects itself during the lows.

It was information overload, in a good way.

Part of his help was gathering information in that little plastic contraption. With just a tiny, tiny catheter in my stomach, it automatically monitored my blood sugar a few times each hour I was wearing it. This means while I was exercise, while I was parenting my small, busy children, while I was eating and while I was sleeping. All of that information will be downloaded to my nurse's computer and the information overload will continue. In a good way.

There will be a line graph of what my blood sugar did over those three days. We'll be able to see if there are trends at certain times of the day, even though I already know my blood sugar tends to run high in the afternoons. We'll be able to make adjustments in insulin doses, possibly the amount but more likely the timing of the injections. We'll be able to talk more.

And maybe, hopefully, I'll get back to having diabetes management be just part of my life and not overshadow everything I'm trying to do as a wife, momma, friend, daughter, aunt and sister. I'd prefer to be consumed by these other parts of who I am.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Today I will make a difference. I will begin by controlling my thoughts. A person is the product of his thoughts. I want to be happy and hopeful. Therefore, I will have thoughts that are happy and hopeful. I refuse to be victimized by my circumstances. I will not let petty inconveniences such as stoplights, long lines, and traffic jams be my masters. I will avoid negativism and gossip. Optimism will be my companion, and victory will be my hallmark. Today I will make a difference.

I will be grateful for the twenty-four hours that are before me. Time is a precious commodity. I refuse to allow what little time I have to be contaminated by self-pity, anxiety, or boredom. I will face this day with the joy of a child and the courage of a giant. I will drink each minute as though it is my last. When tomorrow comes, today will be gone forever. While it is here, I will use it for loving and giving. Today I will make a difference.

I will not let past failures haunt me. Even though my life is scarred with mistakes, I refuse to rummage through my trash heap of failures. I will admit them. I will correct them. I will press on. Victoriously. ... Today I will make a difference.

I will spend time with those I love. My spouse, my children, my family. A man can own the world but be poor for the lack of love. A man can own nothing and yet be wealthy in relationships. Today I will spend at least five minutes with the significant people in my world. Five quality minutes of talking or hugging or thanking or listening. Five undiluted minutes with my mate, children, and friends.

Today I will make a difference.

--Max Lucado

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

First Day of Summer

Ah, yes, welcome, Summer, officially. At least that's what my calendar says about today.

I had officially forgotten you weren't really here yet, at least according to the calendar. Many other things about you have already been evident. It's been hot and humid. We've been to a baseball game and a zoo. We've been swimming, more than once. We've stopped for ice cream while on family bike rides. And we've stayed at the lake. We've made fun plans. And some plans changed but we've still had fun.

Summer, please stay awhile. Don't let your days speed away. Let us soak you in and store up some of your goodness for the winter. And, yes, that means more time cooling off in the water, maybe even with bubbles.

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Take me out to the ballgame ...

Baseball is part of summer to me, thanks to my husband's influence.

I went to some Little League games when I was younger and my brother, who is three years younger than me, played catcher. My family went to a few Cincinnati Reds games because we lived just off I-71 north of Louisville and we went to a White Sox game when their stadium was new {I think it was 1993} and to the crosstown Cubs when their stadium was still old when we were vacationing in Chicago. And there were Louisville Redbirds/Riverbats games occasionally.

So baseball wasn't a stranger to me.

But Greg loves the St. Louis Cardinals. He can rattle off stats and historical moments. I have no idea how many shirts with those "birds on the bat" he has.

I got a little interested when Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa was vying for the homerun record in 1998, and I needed something to talk to Greg about when he studying abroad in Germany and I was still going to class in Murray, Ky. From there, I gradually learned about the game and players, especially those who play in St. Louis.

One of my favorite things about baseball, and, really, sports in general, is the emotions. Baseball is methodical. But then there are moments -- like when Skip Shumaker hit a homerun in the ninth inning yesterday to win the game and all his teammate rushed to the home plate to mob him -- that make great stories.

Our family's most recent baseball story is going to the Southern Illinois Miners game Saturday night. It's a minor league baseball team, and we got to spend the game in a suite, courtesy my brother-in-law John. That was a first for us, and, really, the only way it makes sense to take my 19-month-old {almost ...} son to a three-hour sporting event that is fairly slow moving. Ben likes to move. So baseball probably isn't his thing right now. I promise you his dad will help influence him otherwise.

Like he did me.

But Saturday night was fun.

Ben was happy until about 9 p.m., two hours after the game started. He prefers to go to bed around 7 p.m. You can do the math. He was a tired boy. But it was cute to watch him try to sit in this seat. Clearly he doesn't weigh enough to hold it down!

Cate liked cuddling with her 1-year-old cousin Mae Rose. Yes, this cuddling happened in the air-conditioned suite.

And Greg was sporting a Cardinals shirt. In fact, the first thing he did when we got there was found the Cardinals game on the TV in the suite. I teased him, but he was in baseball paradise -- watching one game live and his favorite team on TV. Nearly simultaneously. Meanwhile, I did well to keep up with the Miners versus the Rascals {great nickname!} while tending to children.

Dippin' Dots were a hit. And thanks to the suite accommodation, this $4 bowl of ice cream pellets was the only food I had to buy. Hamburgers, chips and dip, drinks and desserts were provided in the suite.

Did I mention it was a late night for Ben?

I knew it was going to be a late night, so I wanted to make sure we took his blanket -- which he's been calling "Nigh-Night." On our way there, I realized we didn't have it. This fact stressed me out a little because I knew Ben would want his bed and I'd have to convince him to snuggle with Nigh-Night. With Nigh-Night missing, I wasn't sure how this would work.

So we stopped in Paducah, on the way to Marion, Ill., and I found a similar blanket. Consider it Nigh-Night's cousin. And it only took stopping at two stores. Ben was satisfied and I was left thinking about the next road trip that would give me a chance to spend more time in Tuesday Morning.

Until then, Greg and I will probably sit on the couch some evenings and catch a few more Cardinals games. And hopefully they'll win more than they lose. Although, it is a long season, which can be both good and bad, depending on who you ask.

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Monday, June 20, 2011

The drama of fishing. Yes, really ...

We went to the FLW Outdoor Expo yesterday. And it was fun.

I know. And outdoor expo held inside doesn't really sound overly exciting. At least it didn't to me. But the free rod and reel to the first 300 kids was too much for my husband to resist. And it was Father's Day, so I realized I wasn't in charge of the plan. We even invited some friends, adding the disclaimers that we didn't know if food would be available or what really there would be. Other than a free rod and reel for their son.

We all had a good time. Sarah and I mentioned the randomness of free Pop-Tarts, cooked bacon slices, Prevacid pill-shaped digital clocks and balloons with the Goodwill logo more than once. But we added enjoyed the afternoon. And the free peanut butter Snickers bars, of course.

The kids liked the bouncy houses, food samples and balloons. Cate liked the fishing exhibit {READ: a plastic fishing pond with lots of fish clustered in a relatively small space}, although she wasn't so sure about touching the fish she caught ...

And, really, who knew fishing could be so dramatic? This next part was even recorded for TV.

We watched some of the weigh-in competition. Yesterday was the last day of a four-day fishing tournament, so they were weighing the leaders' catches. A guy from Minnesota won $125,000. I assume he likes to fish, so I'd say that's a fun way to earn some money.

After we left, Cate asked why his wife was so happy. I told her people got excited when people they love do well. Turns out it was his first tournament win in his 10 years as a professional fisherman.

Thanks to Google, here are the details: Chad Grigsby, a father of two who is sponsored by Goodwill, brought in the five-bass limit, weighing 22 pounds 13 ounces, yesterday to win the FLW Tour on Kentucky Lake. His four-day total was 20 bass weight 73 pounds 3 ounces.

Seems worth celebrating to me, someone who knows nothing about fishing, as a hobby or a competitive sport.

Hey, even the second place finisher won $33,287. Again, not a bad four days' work.

The expo didn't make me want to fish. I'm pretty sure I'll always be the girl who goes to the fishing hole with her family ... and a book. But it was still a fun way to spend the afternoon.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Balloon of joy

Most people get excited for the throwed rolls or large quantities of food at Lambert's. My kids ate rolls and other food I ordered, but they were most excited by the large balloons ...

And the balloons were still a hit this morning. Ah, the simple pleasures in life.

Speaking of life, I've been surprised with more down time than I anticipated this week. With storms in the forecast, we didn't end up going to Venture River on Wednesday. It's been nice to move at a slower-than-expected pace. It's given me time to work on some projects here at home and regroup, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

I haven't felt super because my blood sugar levels have been fluctuating more than normal, which has prompted headaches and some lethargic afternoons. Hopefully I can figure out a trend and make necessary adjustments. Having a chronic condition is frustrating at times. Many days I live a normal life, full of making plans, chasing kids, managing a household, enjoying my community of friends and family, dreaming and writing, all while managing my insulin injections and blood sugar readings. But lately there have been days when I feel like diabetes is stealing some of my joy.

That's not how I want to live. Yes, I want to take care of myself, but I want to live life fully. Like I'm holding onto a great big, pink balloon.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worth Repeating Wednesday

Ours is a God who delights in a perfect concoction of creativity and order. Though He could have though the entire cosmos into existence in a millisecond, instead He brought it about with great patience in six distinct increments.

Then rested on the seventh.

Then later insisted that His children do the same.

God likes order. He likes repetition. A God of fundamentals, He brings up the sun every morning and the moon every evening, but His creativity within that order is gorgeously displayed in the changing sunsets and sunrises surrounding them. The same is true for us. Faithfulness in our Christian walk requires order, some black-and-white fundamentals, but within that order is glorious room for color and creativity.

--Beth Moore in "Believing God."

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Where's Ben?

How does it look?

What hat?

Ah, yes, this hat ...

Where did Ben* go?

Oh, there he is!

* Speaking of looking for Ben, Cate and I were in the van heading toward a birthday party for a boy from church when she asked, "Where's my brother?" I'm fairly sure she even glanced at his empty car seat next to her.

"He's at home napping. Remember he and Daddy are there?"

She giggled and then said, "Oh, yeah." Clearly us girls don't get out on our own very often these days. Yet that was Saturday. And then Sunday we went to another party by ourselves. Consider it a special weekend because Ben really likes to be near his sister. Sometimes even nearer than she'd prefer.

{Thanks to Courtney for the impromptu photo shoot of Ben while we were hanging out Friday night and Andy for the hat, which proved far more entertaining than anyone could imagine.}

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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Fiction meets reality

Image from

In all the TV shows I've watched, I don't remember seeing being a character diagnosed with diabetes be a story line. Until Claudia Joy on "Army Wives." I'm in season 3, thanks to Netflix. {So no spoilers of upcoming seasons.}

As a diabetic, I was glad to see this plot, the emotions attached to it and the education sprinkled in the entertaining drama. Claudia Joy, a perfectionist control freak like me, didn't want her friends to know about her diagnosis. Her nurse friend discovered her news when Claudia Joy collapsed from having too much insulin in her body.

When I was diagnosed more than seven years ago, I clung to my community. I wanted people to know because I was scared. When texting my dear friend Jaclyn, who recently watched "Army Wives" about the diabetes plot, she text back, "Glad you didn't handle it like she does." And I'm glad I didn't have to handle it alone.

While watching fictional Claudia Joy struggle with accepting her new reality, I was taken back to those initial feelings. Then I thought about my current struggles. It's been a rocky few weeks with up and down blood sugar levels, meaning ups and downs with how I feel too. Perhaps I've grown to comfortable with managing this chronic condition that is certainly part of who I am. There's always room for improvement.

I hope Claudia Joy realizes how helpful her community can be. I don't know how I would have dealt with my diagnosis without my friends and family. And, really, I'm not sure where I'd be today without them. Speaking of today, I ate some chocolate cake, and it was delicious. But I know desserts are one thing I need less of, no matter how much insulin I inject to cover the sugar. Because ultimately the less insulin I take, the better.

So while I work on that, I'll stay tuned to see how Claudia Joy handles her story.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Balancing a quick pace with lounging

{That's Ben lounging last June at Venture River Water Park in Eddyville, Ky.}

It's mid-June, for anyone who hasn't looked at a calendar recently. In May, I talked about how June and July were wide open for our family. Last week was relatively free and this week is full.

Full of fun, really.

Today we're meeting my mom in Paducah to do some shopping with a Kohl's coupon she has. Tomorrow I'm celebrating my coming-soon nephew with some friends and my pregnant sister-in-law. A trip to the water park is on the agenda for Wednesday. A road trip to Sikeston, Mo., specifically for a meal at Lamberts, home of the throwed rolls, is Thursday's plan. Friday is relatively free. And then Saturday brings another road trip, this time to Marion, Ill., to watch a minor league baseball game.

We're going with friends to water park. We're meeting a friend and his family in Sikeston. And we'll watch baseball with family. We're living. And playing. And enjoying. And making memories. With people we care about.

I've come to love fall vacations, which surprises the summer girl in me. But I'm loving that we have a vacation planned in September. It frees up June and July to do things closer to home. It gives my husband a chance to be productive during his busiest season at work. It gives my kids a chance to learn about what's right here in our community and not too far down to the road.

Next week we'll schedule some time to regroup. And rest. And soak in a slower paced life, at least on some days.

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

Give her 10 minutes

I was saying the words to attempt to convince my 4-year-old daughter that Minnie Mouse isn't scary. But in my heart I knew. I knew the fear of being painfully shy. I knew the nervousness that only grew when somebody tried to force me to do something I wasn't ready for. I knew the stubbornness of digging in my heels, trying to regain control of an uncomfortable situation, especially when costumed characters are involved.

My daughter and I share many personalities traits. But she's not nearly as shy as I once was. And I'm glad about that.

She enters new situations shy {who doesn't, really?}, but when she warms up, she's ready. It usually takes her about 10 minutes. Then she's chatty and eager to soak it all in. It took me until I was at least 17 to get there.

Sure, she wasn't rushing over to sit with Minnie and Mickey for a picture at a fund-raiser for our local American Red Cross chapter, but she did pose a picture with them ... while in my lap. And she quickly befriended Ariel -- a red-headed woman wearing a sparkly, pink prom dress. She chatted with strangers, participated in games and told me that maybe when she was 5 she would take a picture with Minnie by herself.

She even sat in the front while listening to the lesson on helping people. To her defense, Minnie and Mickey are a little scary.

"How about I take a picture with Ariel and Minnie?" She proposed with a tone that spoke volumes about how she was formulating a more comfortable plan in her mind. She approached Ariel with her idea, but insisted on standing closely to her new friend and not next to Minnie. But she wanted Minnie near. We actually went through this scenario twice, and Minnie and Ariel were good sports both times.

My heart was full after spending a couple hours with just Cate. Our guys were at home doing their own thing while we were making memories. And conquering fears. Together.

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

Tis the season ...

... for fresh vegetables!

Don't they look delicious? This is our weekly produce from the CSA {Community-Support Agriculture} we're a part of here in Murray, Ky. There are mixed greens and cabbage in that basket too. All from Hillyard Field Organics.

Once a week, we go out to the farm with our empty basket and come home with a full basket of whatever is ready.

Cate was particularly excited about the small squash and little pepper. So excited she wanted to pose for a picture with them.

Ben likes to go to the farm and "moo" at the cows. He actually moos at most any animal, but hopefully we can expand his animal noises soon. Cate likes to carry the empty basket and look for my name on the new basket of fresh produce. She asked me this week why her name wasn't on it.

As a momma, I'm glad to be able to take them with me and talk about God rewarding the farmers' hard work with these delicious vegetables, which they share with us. Personally, I also love eating the fresh produce, especially the squash, zucchini, onions and potatoes.

For any Murray folks, you can have some too! Hillyard Field Organics -- owned and operated by Brad and Karly Lowe and their daughters -- also sell produce at the downtown Farmer's Market on Saturdays.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

It's hot outside ...

... so we went swimming earlier this week and we're going again today. It's really the only way to spend an extended period of time outside. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I guess you don't live near Kentucky.

And my boy doesn't even care that he was wearing pink floaties.

He doesn't even seem to mind that his friend Caroline weighs about the same as him ... and he's 9 months older.

Accessories are important, even while swimming. Just ask my daughter.

I have the sudden urge to pretend I'm signing a high school yearbook by telling you to stay cool.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011


Happy birthday, Mae Rose! We celebrated her first birthday with her this past weekend. I can't believe how time flies with all these little ones in our lives. It's always fun {and slightly chaotic} to see all the cousins together. Here are the six Taylor cousins, covering Uncle Charles, from left: Elijah (7 1/2), Evelyn (2), Mae (1), Ben (18 months), Ethne (5 1/2) and Cate (4).

There are more photos in my Facebook album, if you're interested.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

animal science

We went to the St. Louis Zoo on Saturday. Yes, it was hot. My van thermometer said 100 degrees when we got in it around 1 p.m. But we were in town for my niece's 1st birthday party later that afternoon and, hey, the zoo has free admission.

Cate brought her zoo book, which we bought at a yard sale for 25 cents. She consulted it multiple times, saying "I'm going to check my animal science book." No, I have no idea where she heard "animal science."

Ben mooed often ... especially at the elephants, who were especially playful.

"All aboard the animal train ..." is annoying song from a toy we don't even have. Greg sings it sometimes, although riding the train through the zoo seemed like the most appropriate opportunity he has had.

Ben was too busy drinking lemonade to pose for a picture.

The penguins exhibit at the St. Louis Zoo is excellent. I've thought this each time I've gone, but it was an especially refreshing break this time. Penguins live in cold climates, you know, so it's like an ice box inside the penguin habitat.

It was a good trip, even if the little ones were hot and distracted by the end.

There are more photos in my Facebook album, if you're interested.

on purpose

"You are my witnesses," declares the Lord, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me." --Isaiah 43:10

Cate pinched her brother because he was messing with the My Little Ponies and Little People who were all set up for a party in the playroom. I heard 18-month-old Ben screech, probably more from hurt feelings than an actual physical injury. I turned to his 4-year-old sister and asked, "What happened to him?"

"I pinched him because he was messing up my party. It was an accident."

"Pinching someone is never an accident. I'm sorry he messed up your party, but you need to tell me and not choose to pinch him." Accident versus on purpose. It's a conversation we've been having over and over again.

I try to explain that an "accident" is something unplanned that just happens without us trying. Yet so many reactions, actions, behaviors and words are our choices, happening on purpose.

While I'm trying to teach my preschooler about this truth, I'm convicted of my own shortcomings. I can choose to calm my tone of voice. I can choose not to yell. I can choose to love more. I can choose to make less demands. I can choose to trust the one who created me.

Afterall, He chose me.

It's not an accident that I'm able to know God, trust God and believe God. He chose me. And you. And her. And him.

And now I want to choose Him more today than I did yesterday. Then the peace that passes all understanding, lasting hope, and glory of God are certainly not accidents.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

growing with the familiar

Grocery shopping is a big part of our lives. I've written about it multiple times. And, here, again. When I snapped a photo the other day after a quick trip to Kroger, I realized I had a very similar one from 10 months earlier.

This was August 2010 ...

And this was Friday ...

Their love of the car cart and our regular outing to Kroger have stayed mostly the same, but my 18-month-old son looks so grown up!