Sunday, December 21, 2014

Arms Up!

See this?

This is what it looks like when my one year old reaches for me. As if by instinct or a deep-seeded inner need for me to hold him, his arms shoot up instantly when he walks near me. If I don't immediately pick him up, a meltdown ensues, and he weeps from the bottom of his soul in devastation until I snatch him up in my arms and hug him. It always amazes me how much this little guy needs me. ME. He loves his daddy, and they have a great relationship, but at the end of the day, he doesn't want anyone but ME! His eyes are singularly focused. He knows what he needs, and he runs to it. Kicking and screaming until he gets it. How simple. How basic. How sweet. 

See this? 

This is what it looks like when I'm doing anything but running to the one thing I need. I get so distracted and so unfocused. I run to anything and everything in this life that I think might satisfy me... or, more shamefully, distract me... instead of running towards the ONE thing I NEED! 

Oh, that I would run to the ONE who loves me unconditionally and is waiting for me to run to him. I long for the weights to be dropped from my arms so they might fly up in the air, reaching for HIM who has given everything so I can live free, full of joy, free of stress. 

I need to write on my mirror, so that I see it every day: "RELAX! REST! REACH!" 

Relax in the Truth, Rest in Christ, Reach for HIM! 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Staying at home with Purpose... and a 6 month old

Here are some updates on the cutest baby in the world... Yes, only shameless pride in my little guy is below.  First, I want to give a big update in my life.

I want to give a big ol' PRAISE GOD for the exciting news that I will be able to stay home full-time as a mom starting May 17th! I have loved my job, and I love my co-workers even more, but I am beyond grateful that I will be able to spend more time with this baby. I want to salute all working mothers - you are AMAZING!!! I watch my friends who work and have kids, and they are the most incredible, hard-working people I have ever known. not that I don't think it will be hard work to stay home. I know it will be.  I admire you for busting tail at work, busting tail at home, and still carving out time for friendships. I could go on and on about working mothers, but I just want you to know that you are amazing. I am of the opinion that there is not one right answer as to what a mother should do: work or stay home. I think it depends on each individual family, its needs, and what The Lord calls each person to do. I really struggled and wrestled with the decision to stay home. Like I said, I love my job. I feel like I have been given specific gifts to do my job well. I have felt like I've made a difference in the lives of my students and ultimately in the nursing community in our city. However, I have felt and unmistakable call from The Lord to use my gifts at home.

I do have some fears about entering this new season of life. I have never been a good "home-maker". ALL of my past roommates (all 7 of them) can attest to this fact. I hate to clean. I LOATHE laundry. I am not much of a cook...mainly because I don't like to take the time to do it. which is why is cracks me up that so many people copy my recipes... bulk cooking is the only way I can get home-cooked meals on the table. I am not very self-motivated... I tend to need deadlines and guidelines. All of these things really give me some anxiety to stay at home WELL. I don't want to just stay home without purpose. I want to serve my family and be faithful to the call that God has placed on my life. I am a little embarrassed to say that I have googled "staying at home with purpose" so many times, only to come up feeling even more inadequate to do it well. I see blogs by women with customized activity rooms for their children. yeah, right. that's not going to happen. Women who have daily agendas, chore schedules, home-made cleaning products, and organic meals that they make from their weekly trips to farmer's markets. this overwhelms me, scares me, and is unrealistic for me... especially considering all our farmer's market had was tomatoes the last time i went.

I worry that I will fail. I worry that I will waste my time, my husband's time, my child's time. I worry that I will not fulfill the calling God has placed on my because of my own limitations. I tell you these things because I am sure someone else can relate to these things, and because in the midst of my worry, God is already calming my heart and giving me the only answer I need.

He equips you for what He calls you to do. 

In the Old Testament, God called Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. In order to do this, Moses had to stand before the Pharaoh, the leader of Egypt, and ask for the Israelites to be released from captivity. Moses argued with God about this. He had anxiety, fear, worry because he was not a clear speaker. He stuttered. He was not prepared. I bet if Moses had googled "standing up to Pharaoh with a stutter" he would have felt discouraged too. God did not leave Moses there. He equipped him! He gave him the ability to not only stand up to Pharaoh, but to ultimately lead the Israelites into freedom! There is so much encouragement in remembering what God has done for His people all throughout history. If He did it for them, He will surely also do it for us!

Thus commences the shameless pride:

Waving for the first time
This boy LOVES his dogs... And they seem to tolerate him
He is FAST!! He may only crawl using one leg, but that one leg moves like lightening. I turned around for a minute and he was in the other room. It has started. 
I read a few articles about "Baby Led Feeding", and it seems to be PERFECT for this little guy! He was starting to fight me every time we tried to feed him purees, so we knew something had to change. He has been feeding himself for over a week now, and he LOVES it!! He eats chicken, steamed veggies, soft fruits, lunch meat, and other things that are easy to gum up. It has been so fun to watch him enjoy food.Yes, he is feeding himself a chicken leg in this picture. hilarious.
This little Superman pulled himself up all by himself yesterday! He proceeded to stand alone, without holding onto anything, for about 5 seconds. SCARY!!!

 It was SO hard to leave this little guy to go celebrate my sis-in-law's bachelorette party in Denver last weekend. I am so blessed that I didn't even worry that his dad would do an amazing job alone with him. They had a blast doing boy things, and I got some sweet time with my sister-in-laws.
 I love that I have so much fun with my in-law family! These girls are some of my favorite friends, and they are so fun! We can't wait for McKay's wedding in June!

 I felt like there were so many milestones this month that I had to share... I hope you are all having a wonderful Monday! Be sure to check out my other post from today to see what has been going on in my world this week/month.

Seven foods

There is a lot I want to write about... I think this "crazy food thing" I'm doing is probably the most all-consuming at the moment.

It all started with Jen Hatmaker. She and I have a love-hate relationship that she knows nothing about, wherein, she makes me feel guilty, makes me know grace, inspires me, challenges me, insults me, and makes me laugh all within a few sentences in her books and blog. I say all of this with the highest regard for her and her ministry, and I am BEYOND grateful for her passion in waging the war on our current culture. I appreciate her realness and humility through it all, and this is why I keep reading her work.

So, my buddy Jen, I promise I'm not a stalker, wrote this book called 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. It is essentially a book of seven challenges to hopefully draw attention to the most common areas of excess in our lives and help us rid ourselves of all that distracts us from Christ. In the first chapter, she talks about our love for food - quantity and variety. This has always been an area of struggle for me. I have often referred to myself as a "food addict", and I have actually compared myself to drug addicts when talking about my love for scratch that obsession with no, still worse than that- fatal attraction to French Fries - like, I literally did this when talking to a drug addict... not my finest hour. All of this to say, when I read this chapter, my throat started closing, my breathing became shallow, and my heart had palpitations. I knew I had to do something about this.

The challenge to wage the war against food excess is to choose seven foods and eat only those foods for a month. WHAT?! Seriously, I am not happy with Jen about this right now. So, I looked at nutritional value and versatility, and I chose the following foods: 1. Chicken 2. Avocados 3. Black Beans 4. Whole Wheat bread (this includes tortillas) 5. Carrots 6. Apples 7. Salsa (I know there is more than one ingredient in salsa, but I'm counting it as one food. deal with it) I have also decided not to go to restaurants unless it is for a special occasion - mainly because it is hard to stick to "7" at a restaurant, but also because it is a privilege of excess to have someone else prepare my food for me. I'm also only drinking water with this challenge. (this is probably the easiest part... I like water)

I began the challenge on May 1st, and I plan to go throughout the month of May. I have already scheduled in "Grace Days" on which I can eat whatever I want and get a free pass for that day. I decided to do this because there are always special occasions that come up. I have decided to only allow myself 3 days of excess. 1. My first Mother's Day 2. The day after I am done working (I haven't told y'all yet, but I am going to be a STAY AT HOME MOM ON MAY 17TH!!! WAHOO!!!) 3. I haven't decided what my third day will be, but I'm planning on eating fried seafood.

I'm on my 5th day, and I am already seeing some ugly things come out. I think this is a good thing. The other night, I prepared food for Superman (6 months old and eating real food... it's incredible.), and he ate chicken, like mom, but he got broccoli instead of carrots as his side. I was actually JEALOUS of my 6 month old's steamed broccoli. how demented is that?! My co-workers went to lunch this afternoon, and I actually felt left out that I had to tell them "no" because of my decision to do this challenge. It is also a little exhausting every time I explain why I am eating another black bean, chicken, and avocado burrito for lunch (5 days in a row). It's good for me.

Anyway. I recommend this book for all Americans. I think it is exactly the kind of challenge we all need. It's uncomfortable, and it's hard. But - it's worth it.

This is what my g-chat conversation with Austin at work looks like when we are both doing the 7 challenge
The foods:

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Parenting 101: Wisdom from experienced parents

We had a wonderful couple come and share with our small group last night about parenting as Christians. They had so many INCREDIBLE words of wisdom for all of us who are in the beginning stages of raising tiny humans. Their three children are all grown, and they have beautiful relationships with each of them. They shared so much, and I want to hold on to all of it!! Here are some of the key things that really stuck out to me:

- It is never to early to discuss the tough topics. It may go over their heads, but that's ok! It's better to go over their heads than for them to not be prepared for tough situations. (i.e. sex, lying, stealing, bad movies, etc.)

- It is ok to be different than your friends in your parenting style. Even some of your best friends may have differing opinions on things as children grow older, and it is important to stand firm in your own convictions on how to parent your children. (i.e. what age to give a cell phone, facebook accounts, buying cars, how to celebrate holidays, punishment, scheduling time on weekends, choosing friends, etc.)

- Parent your child's heart, not their behaviors. So many times, parents tend to focus on the child's behavior instead of looking deeper to the state of their heart that caused the behavior. Instead of just doling out punishment, sit and talk with your child (even at a young age) about why they did what they did, then explain the punishment to the child before it is given. This will allow the child to be able to recognize the need for change instead of leading them to rebel against authority.

- Get to know their friends. Pour into their lives and offer support where support is needed. 

- Always make it clear how much you love them. period. no matter what.

- Give them grace; give yourself grace. You will make mistakes. Your child will make mistakes. There is enough grace for all of you! It's amazing how willing your child's heart is to forgive your mistakes if you humble yourself and ask for their forgiveness. This also teaches them that it is ok to admit mistakes of their own.

- Develop a family "mission statement". What does it mean to be a SHARP?! Remind your children to remember their last name: what they stand for and who they represent. This will teach them to take pride in their family and it's values, and it will give them a clear compass by which to make decisions in the tough moments of life.

There was SOOO much more that they shared, but these are the big ones!! Austin and I discussed last night, once we got home, what we want for it to mean to be a Sharp. We are currently working on our mission statement. I encourage you all to develop your own. I think it might change the way we function as families!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Superman was Adopted!

Done. The theme of the past few days is "We are DONE!" I can not even begin to explain how ready we were to FINALLY have Bug be officially OURS. Praise the Lord that everything went so smoothly, and it was such a sweet time for all of us.

We finalized the adoption in Fort Worth, so we decided to make a special weekend out of the experience. Our families came from out of town - Georgia, Austin, Amarillo - and we all celebrated all weekend! It was a blast!

We chose a theme for the adoption: "Superman was Adopted". We chose this because we love the redemptive themes of the Superman story: His parents wanted to give him a better life, sent him to earth, his adoptive parents loved and supported him, he realized he had powers and used them to save lives, he knew his weakness and fought against it throughout his life to triumph over it. We see so many Spiritual parallels with the Superman story: Bug came to live in our home to have a better life/more opportunities, we will love and support him throughout his life, he has a power within that is greater than any power on this earth (The Lord), our biggest prayer is for him to claim the Power of Christ and use it to lead others to saving grace, we pray that he will know his weaknesses and triumph over them using Scripture. He is our little Superbaby!! I don't care that I am cheesy... it's fun!

The ceremony was short, but it was powerful! We stood before the judge with all of our family and friends. They asked us all to raise our hands and swear to care for this child and do everything in our power to give him the best life possible. Then they asked Austin and I specific questions. Some were just asking about the facts: his name, birth date, has he lived in our home for 6 months, etc... Then came the tear-jerkers... "Do you, Austin, promise to love, cherish, and care for this child, fulfilling all of his needs, physical and otherwise, and love him as if he was your natural born child? YES!!! And do you, Elizabeth, promise to love, cherish, and care for this child, fulfilling all of his needs, physical and otherwise, and love him as if he was your natural born child? *tears* YES!!! Then, because of your testimony here today, I grant this adoption and therefore change this child's name to..." *gavel bump* PICTURE TIME!!! 

We took pictures with the judge, caught the whole thing on video, and then had a celebration in the lobby of the courthouse with some special cookies made by my talented friend with Sweet Emotion cookies. (you MUST check her out... they are THE BEST cookies EVER!!!)

The sweetest thing, to me, was when we were all done with the ceremony, Bug latched on to my neck and dramatically laid his head on my shoulder. He is usually not still long enough to snuggle like this. Within a couple of minutes, he was sound asleep! It almost felt like he KNEW that something BIG happened, and he was simply so content and relaxed that he just fell asleep! This might not seem like a big deal for most babies... but this baby is NOT one to just fall asleep. He is BUSY!!! He is so interested in everything going on around him that he doesn't have time to sleep unless we remove the distractions and lay him down. It really warmed my heart. It felt like the perfect ending to this whole journey.

 My mom gave Bug a Bible with his full name engraved on the front and his adoption date inscribed on the inside. It will be such a special treasure to commemorate this day for him for years to come. We all went to a big breakfast afterwards and enjoyed each others company. It was such a sweet time!! We will never forget it!!

I can not express how much I appreciate all of the love and support we have received from people far and wide... even those of you we don't even know! We have gotten so many emails, calls, texts, comments on the blog, comments on facebook and instagram, and private messages offering so much love and encouragement. My heart is so full. I wish I could express how much this means to all of us! We are so blessed.

Romans 8:14-16
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God"

Monday, April 14, 2014

Picture time!!

I will do a whole post about this weekend and the adoption ceremony - so sweet - but for now, here are just a couple of shots of the cutest baby in the world!! Btw, we chose a theme for his adoption weekend: "Superman was adopted". I'll write about that too, but I just wanted the picture to make sense! Didn't want you to think we randomly took the baby to comicon or something... Not that there's anything wrong with that... Just not our style...Enjoy!!

 I am SOOO excited for you all to get to FINALLY see this sweet little guy!! He's the best!! :) I can't wait to tell you all more about this weekend! It was beautiful and so special. Much love!

- The Sharps!

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