Monday, July 23, 2012

Church Shopping and House Hunting

Church Shopping: It sounds so.....irreverent, to say you're church shopping but in all honesty it describes the process of looking for a new church home quite accurately. When Tim and I made the decision to leave what had been our church home for years in Lexington in search of a smaller community we felt we could better connect with and be involved in - it was PAINFUL. Once you've been a part of a church body for any length of time you get used to the routine of things...where to park, how you're greeted, the order of service, the style of worship, the way communion is presented and taken, the way offering is talked about and taken up, where you take your kids and what their Sunday school routine is like, etc. We get comfortable and all of those things you get comfortable with become your church "normal" and dare I say even expectation. Because you've established that normal or expectation of "church" in your mind, going into a new church setting with all new ways of doing things can be hard...we as believers can be harshly judgemental of everything from the parking lot layout to interior decor to how the pastor dresses and what the praise and worship team look like, etc. etc. etc. Because I'm married to a pastors son and am blessed enough to have several friends who are heavily involved in ministry I'm thankful that I've heard the "other side" of such critiquing and painful it can be when it seems people have hastily jumped to conclusions before seeing the heartbeat of the church body and or mindset of the leadership at churches. When we looked in Lexington, unless something was just completely off putting or something occurred that we just didn't feel like we could endure - we committed to going back more than once to decide if that church would be a place we could call "home".

 It's only normal that each of us will have desires of a church and I don't think that's a bad thing. For example, we knew we wanted an active children's ministry for Kennedy to be a part of. Tim and I were both fortunate enough to grow up in church's where people knew us and could pour into, guidance, wisdom, etc. We want the same for our kids...we want people to know them and to say "hi" to them and call them by name in the hallways and at events. I want to know that my kids will have strong bonds with not only friends who are also believers but other adults too...people they can go to if they don't want to or are scared to come to us. So...if we visit a church that has a poor children's ministry (disorganized, not passionate, lacking in leadership, no Biblical lesson being taught) we are likely to "cross it off the list" so to speak. So...children's ministry is huge and  of course he and I have other things we desire too but ultimately we want to be a part of a body who is passionate about loving God and loving people. I want to feel...really feel the leaderships desire to be doing God's work in their church....letting God "steer the ship" and not the desires of what's "in" or what they feel will be best received by members, what will make them grow the fastest, etc.  

Well, we found our church home in Lexington and we LOVED it! Leaving Southern Acres Christian Church in Lexington was one of the hardest things about moving to Charlotte. There were tons of things we loved about Southern Acres...the worship, the staff, the eldership, the AMAZING kids ministry, the people, Activate groups, the list goes on and on but truthfully we wouldn't have loved it near as much or grown into it like we did had we not jumped in two feet first once we realized it was a place we could call home. "Plugging In"'s what ties you to a place and makes you feel a's what bonds you to the mission and to the's completely and totally necessary to feeling like you are truly a part of the body of Christ. It can be hard....volunteerism is usually an area totally lacking in churches sadly. When the church has sponsored events throughout a work week if both parents are can be tough to make it out to those events. Even early morning Men's Bible studies on Saturdays...though incredibly rewarding can be hard to commit to when that is your only day to sleep in. What I feel like we learned in Lexington is that making those things happen...making yourself available and committing to truly being a part of THE makes all the difference in your walk with the Lord. Bonds are formed, people get invested in you and in your family...i.e. they TRULY care and the body becomes the body like the Word talks about...your church family really feels like family and it's hard to walk through life and all it's struggles without a family of believers rallied around you...ready to be there and love you and go to God for you in prayer whenever you need it.

Moving to Charlotte has been such a God thing in so many ways...being with my sister (living in her basement) has been an indescribable blessing...helping each other, supporting each other, watching our kids grow and play and become best buddies: there are no words. Tim has made better relationships (it opinion here) in this office in the two months we've been here than he did the entire time he worked at the office in Lexington. Being at home with the girls has been amazing...I truly didn't realize how much stress the constant state of rush we were living in was causing our family. Now, it is no walk in the park being at home...whew: these girls can wear me out...especially pregnant/hurt back me. The rewards way outweigh the work though...I can see specific benefits to being with them more and for the opportunity we've had for me to do that in this season (because it may not last forever) I am so very thankful and feel so very fortunate.

Despite KNOWING with certainty that this is where God wants us to be...there are times when I'm fearful: did we do the right thing, are we ever going to find a house, is it really all going to work out (me raising our three children in a basement for who knows how long...meanwhile our 2 dogs are in WV and our kitty is in KY and I miss them terribly). There are times where I rest in knowing God will provide and there are times when I doubt and I start welling up with emotion and frustration. This past weekend we went out with our realtor to look at five properties and the end result = no offers were made and won't be. Each time we go out I am hopeful but each time we go out we are met with what seems to be our reality - what we need cannot be found in our price range. With that realization comes other irrational fears...I'm going to end up going back to work, we're going to end up in a tee tiny house and be on top of each other and at each others throats 24/7, we are going to have to get rid of half of our belongings, etc. etc. etc. I know in my rational mind those fears are not from God...they are from the devil, but when they start seeping in they can do crazy things to your heart and mind. In those moments I ask for help outside of myself...I ask family and friends to pray and this past weekend I was so humbly blessed by some of the responses:

"Keep your faith, God will provide in His own time. He has been good to your family with this move and he has a plan. I love you and I will continue to pray"

"We are praying. Your God WILL supply all your need. He never cometh late. Rest in His arms and trust His timing. Her knows what you need and He sees the =big picture and what you will need down the road. Be encouraged!"

"God has a plan. We will just keep praying He reveals it sooner than later."

"God is good and works for the good of those who love the Lord. He will provide. Stay hopeful".

"I'm standing in agreement with you in prayer. He will answer your needs"

Wow! Therein comes the body being the body, Amen? As if that wasn't enough of God's provision through encouragement, we went to the same church we've attended the past three Sundays and Tim and I heard what we needed. The sermon was about fear and the Pastor preached about Elijah and it just resonated. I wouldn't have necessarily classified all my house hunting woes as fear...but they were...the fear of the unknown, the what - if's. I'm sure for both Tim and I different parts of the sermon spoke to us in different ways, but regardless...we were both spoken to and for that I'm grateful. I'm so glad God meets us where we are....he ALWAYS does. We feel encouraged and strengthened thanks to our friends and to a church here in Charlotte that we are coming to really enjoy - (a recommendation from our pastor in Lexington): Elevation. I'm not sure if it's our new home, but I'm sure it's where we'll be going for a while until we know.

Here's the sermon link from this past weekend if anyone is interested:
I promise you won't regret the time spent listening =)

When I was reading last night before bed (in a book I've been trying to finish for months), would you believe she referenced the very same scripture that was preached about yesterday morning? There it was again....the illustration of God's provision...even in the face of our fears. Our job as believers isn't to be fearless, it's to weather those fears/struggles by relying heavily on our faith so that our faith pushes the fear down to a point where we are trusting God. So...I'm trusting and believing that we WILL find the house God has for his perfect timing.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Big Sister x 2

Kennedy has been MUCH more interested in my pregnancy this time around than she was when I was pregnant with Avery. I'm guessing her increase in intrigue is likely due to age, but it excites me nonetheless because transitioning from only child to two for her was hard and I'm  hopeful the upcoming transition to three will be a blip in the radar or dare I say even exciting for her. To aid in her excitement we enrolled her in the "Sibling Tour" class offered through the hospital where we will deliver Greyson.

Their website describes the class like so:

Sibling Tour

Big Brother/Big Sister Program

A tour of the maternity center helps alleviate the fears of "where mommy is," and makes children feel more like participants in the big event. This class includes the following events:

  • A tour of the maternity center.
  • Children are instructed on how to be "mommy's helper."
  • Each child receives a graduation certificate and coloring book. Bring a camera!
Due to my back issues, I asked Daddy to take her to the class and so they spent about an hour this past Saturday at the hospital getting Big Sister ready. They were instructed to bring a baby or stuffed animal. She didn't select one of her baby's as one of her "stay out of storage items" alas....she took sister's bear. Tim said she diapered better than any of the other kids there - that a girl! *The night before when I was telling Kennedy about the class, I told her she would be learning how to change a diaper and she looked at me with big eyes and a surprised expression and said "you mean, I'm going to be changing all of Greyson's diapers"? BAHAHAHAH! I told her she wouldn't have to change any if she didn't want to but that if she did she would need to know how, to which she replied: "Mom, I know how - I've been watching you".
Proud of her finished project:

Her "baby" getting weighed:
Bear is still rockin' his pampers - it's a nice and tight job, right?
Her certificate:
and coloring book:
Kennedy seemed to really enjoy the class and I'm glad - I know she's going to be an awesome helper because she already is a HUGE help with Avery and oh how Avery adores her. I am thankful that the hospital offered such a neat little class. In Lexington, St. Joseph offered a similar class but because Avery made her debut before any of us expected - she arrived before Kennedy got to participate in the class. Truthfully, Kennedy may know more about the hospital than I do at this point: ha! Tim and I took the hospital tour week before last and all I could think the whole time was "man, I really don't want to do this again (labor)" and I'm pretty sure I zoned out for 75% or more of the tour. Sad, but true!

In other news, I reached my 37th week of pregnancy on Tuesday and had an ultrasound and Dr.'s appointment yesterday. Baby Grey appears to be about 5lb 16oz and they are predicting his birth weight will be about 7.5lbs which sounds perfect to me! My fluid level (which got dangerously low with Avery and earned me an early induction) looks to be the low side of normal, but nothing concerning at this point. I'm scheduled for another ultrasound in two weeks but I'm hopeful that he will make an entrance early and I won't make it to that appointment. Wishful thinking maybe but I'm going to go with it. I am "progressing" naturally at this point so with any luck we'll be having a baby sooner than my due date of August 7th!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Lazy last week

It's been a pretty lazy last week for me. It became apparent to me on Monday that my back pain was severe enough that I was going to need some help with the kids. Luckily, my Mom had offered to come help and although it is SO HARD for me to accept help - I took  her up on it. Steve was out of town this week and my sister was single parenting so it was especially nice to have her here so she could help us both  (thanks Mom!) Thank heavens she came because I have been kind of immobilized for the most part. Unless I'm sitting - I'm hurting. I've now seen both my midwife, a chiropractor and a physical therapist and they are all saying the same thing: "once you have the baby this is going to go away". Truthfully, although they are experts - I'm really questioning that because it seems sooo very muscular and it is SO VERY painful! I hope they are right because I can imagine nothing worse than bringing home a newborn in this condition. The way I understand it, the pregnancy has caused an increase in the release of a hormone called relaxin and that increase has caused shifting of things that shouldn't be shifting yet..said shifting is causing pain in areas which is then leading to muscle guarding which is creating tightness and soreness in places that there shouldn't be. So...basically all I can do is rest and see PT for massage therapy and stretching to relieve some pain but up to this point NOTHING has taken it away so it's the understatement of the century when I say I'm ready to meet my son soon! Thankfully, having my Mom here enabled me to start the baby preparation process. I'm happy to report my bag is mostly packed and the clothes, blankets, burp rags are all washed and the moses basket is ready and the car seat is ready to be installed so we would survive if he came sooner rather than later and that's allowed me to feel much less stressed. Mom took Kennedy to her swim lessons this week and took them to the library for story time one day and I basically rested as best I could. I am really hoping that all the rest from this past week and this weekend will set me up for success this week but we'll see.

Each night Melissa skyped with Steve and the kids were really into are some cute pictures:

I kept trying to tell my girls to give Declan space so he and Melissa could spend that time with him, but my girls LOVE their Uncle Steve and Melissa didn't seem to mind so it was the scene from above repeated during most Skype chats.

Chelsea came through on Thursday and it was so nice to get some time with her on her birthday! My Mom made her a cake and some yummy sub sandwiches and she and her sister and cousin had supper with us before they got back on the road to complete their journey back to PA from a fun summer trip to FL. She brought the kiddos a sweet surprise:
I can't wait to take this picture again once Greyson has arrived - it will be SO very cute. Thanks for the sweet T's Chelsea!

Yesterday we spent our morning at the pool (one of Melissa's co-workers graciously invited us to join them). Tim kept Avery because I knew it would be too much for me with my back to take them both and since Kennedy's a big swimmer now I figured it would be pretty relaxing. It was really nice to get out and enjoy the outdoors but the pool had a diving board and my big girl was ALL OVER the place. At first she was afraid to try the diving board but once convinced she tried it and as soon as her head bobbed back above the water she said "Now that I've done it once, I feel comfortable". Ha!

When I called Tim from the pool to tell him she was jumping off the diving board he was all nuh-uh!?!?!? He told me to shoot some video, so for your viewing pleasure:

It's hard for me to believe she's big enough for all this, but clearly she is!

She finishes up her second week of swim classes this week and then we'll be done with class for the summer. I'd say those Y classes paid off big time!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Fun Times

Here lately, Tim and I have been noticing our girls playing more and more with each other and we ADORE it! I seriously don't know a sweeter sound than the two of them giggling together. Even Avery's reaction to Kennedy when Kennedy wakes up in the morning - it's just indescribable joy and I'm so thankful that currently they seem to genuinely love each other to pieces. Avery has been wanting to sit with Kennedy and it's kind of a new thing...she'll kind of back up on her or whomever she wants to sit with. Well, Kennedy doesn't particularly like Avery sitting ON her lap, so she's developed a more comfortable modification and I've walked around the corner many a times lately to this kind of sweet moment:
We were lucky enough to have Catherine and Maggie visit us in Charlotte on Friday because their Momma was working and their Daddy was here in Charlotte for the day so it worked out perfectly for me to have them. Those two girls are big swimmers so I figured where better to take them all than the pool. I had multiple people ask me if all four girls were mine...can you imagine what they thought since I look like I'm about to pop another kid out any moment? Ha! I'll claim them as mine for sure...Kennedy and Avery are blessed to have such sweet cousins - those girls just play and play with my girls and I'm so very thankful for that.

When we first got there, I checked Avery into child care at the Y (free for members: nice!) so I could spend some time in the "big pool" with the big girls and then right before lunch I went and picked her up and the five of us played in the baby pool and splash pad until "the wheels started falling off". On the way home it looked like I was going to have four sleeping beauties in my swagger by the time we got home but alas they all stayed awake for a post pool popsicle.

fun pool day!

On Saturday we celebrated Melissa's birthday with Team Vaughan before they departed for a trip to Europe. Here is a pic of the birthday girl and her biggest fan Declan. Declan was so happy all day long...just smiley and giggly and sweet...I told Melissa that was the best birthday gift ever (not that he isn't always a doll, but he was UBER content all was the perfecto present).
Tim's parents sent the girls some little stuffed babies from their trip to Alaska and I swear the girls have not PUT THEM DOWN since they arrived in the mail. They've been playing with them, sleeping with them and Kennedy has even been feeding hers and "putting it to bed" for naps and night time. She's named her seal Snowball and says Avery can name her bear whenever she grows up: too funny! Avery will squeeze hers all into her face and then pat it's little back like she's burping a's precious!
I took these pictures before church on Sunday and I kept saying "smile...tell Nana and Pawpaw Thank you" and Avery just kept repeating "Pawpaw, Pawpaw" over and over again! I thought to myself...isn't that fitting...Nana probably picked them out and mailed them without Pawpaw every knowing but all Avery can say is Pawpaw, Pawpaw, Pawpaw. Ha!
I'm officially in my 36th week of pregnancy and let me just tell you...I feel every bit of it! I hurt my back on Thursday of last week and I've taken the "pregnancy waddle" to a whole new level. I've been seeing a chiropractor but have gotten little relief so I received a Physical Therapy referral today and I'm hoping for some relief REALLY soon. On top of the back pain I've started swelling...not sure if it's the weather or Greyson's position or what but today I'm rockin' a bit of a cankle on the left side (nice!). So...I'll be happy when I can get back to normal so to speak.

Just like I did before Avery's arrival, I've been trying to be very intentional about my one on one time with Kennedy just because I know after Greyson arrives it will be hard to find that time. Tim took her on a movie date on Saturday night and on Sunday she and I experienced her first musical together (Rapunzel) is a picture Tim snapped before we left. Sweet big girl:

Friday, July 6, 2012

What's New

I really wanted to finish blogging about our trip to Tybee, but at this rate who knows if it will happen. You'd think I've tons of time to blog but alas I don't - I still spend my "free time" aka nap time cleaning or handling bills, checkbook, etc. Plus..I'm honestly trying to carve out about 20-30 minutes for a catnap too because I'm dragging by days end if not and it just doesn't leave much time to blog. Greyson's preferred wake up time of 5 AM is doing a number on my stamina!

Anywho - Kennedy just completed a two week swim class yesterday. We've been at the pool EVERY DAY of the week aside from Friday for two weeks for this class. This was the first day:
She was so excited!!!
 I am a major chicken about swimming (afterall I truly just learned about 3 years ago when I was training for a triathlon and before then I just doggie paddled). Luckily, her teacher is braver than I and thus forced Kennedy to be she is coaxing her in sans any type of flotation device:
 brave girl

lovin' it!

The first day of class, Avery and I stood under a giant umbrella and Avery yelled at her sister from the upper deck - too cute!
Whenever Kennedy would get anywhere near us Avery would start marching and clapping - I love how much they love each other!
On Day two we came prepared with goggles so that she could "stick her face in the water and not get chlorine in her eyes":

I also came prepared with snacks because it became increasingly clear on day one that Avery would not be contained for a 30 minute swim class. So....we brought food!

This is some kind of fireman's pole drill. It may or may not have made me have heart palpitations. She grabs the pole and then scales down it for a certain amount of time holding her breath under water.
Then she pops back up - GO KENNEDY!
This week I figured her swim class would be cancelled due to the 4th, but it wasn't and she was so very excited that her Daddy would be able to come to her lesson and see her new swimming skills. Here are Avery and Kennedy before we departed for swim class - they tolerated my desire to take 4th of July pictures all the while adorned in Targets dollar spot finest!

It was nice having Tim at her swim lesson because instead of tending to Avery every single second I actually got to watch and my big girl swam half the length of the pool completely unassisted y'all! I'm so proud of her.
I mean - face in it and all! 
So very excited to have her Daddy there:
After swim lessons we headed out to Steve's parents house on Lake Wylie. They were having some people over and were gracious enough to include Team Taylor in their plans to go to the pool followed by grilling out.
This is how Declan felt about a pool trip. He NEVER woke up or got in the water. He rocked his rash guard and suit anyway though - don't you think? Sweet boy!

Avery was cracking me up all chillin' in this chair for snack time.

This child has so many facial expressions it's ridiculous! She's a trip. Aunt Melissa kept snapping away during all her silliness. Product: cuteness!
Crackin' herself up:

First of all - these two little one's are just too sweet together and second of all my girl LOVES her some Uncle's precious.
 One more sweet picture of Avery yellin' for sissy at a swim lesson earlier in the week.
 I took this picture in the Harris Teeter parking lot yesterday. Kennedy is FOREVER askin' me to push those ridiculous kiddie carts at the grocery and I refuse because usually they are ginormous and I end up practically clearing every bottom shelf in the grocery. Well, the last time we were in HT she saw this cart and I told her next time we went we would look for it because it didn't look like it would be difficult to maneuver. Well - wouldn't you know she remembered that and asked as soon as we pulled in the parking lot yesterday. A promise is a promise so I loaded them up and not only was it not hard to push, it kept them completely entertained the entire time we were in there. I practically bathed them in hand sanitizer after we got back in the car but next time we're at HT, I'll be looking for this cart.
It has been so stinkin' hot here lately that all this pregnant Momma can do is go to the pool and then after we get home we pretty much stay inside because the heat is almost painful. Yesterday I grabbed some popsicles and here my girls are enjoying them outside after our grocery trip. This was Avery's first popsicle and she LOVED it! Who wouldn't?