Thursday, October 30, 2008


I love fall. The not too hot, not too cold weather. The sunshine that warms you but doesn't make you sweat. It just compels you to be outside running and laughing.

Don't you think?

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Thanks Robie's for Avery's new paints!
We love them!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Lights clicking on

Avery had a realization this morning. In keeping with the mediation theme, we are trying to integrate the practice of meditation into the girls' lives as well. We read a story out of the Bible in the morning and give Avery one message from the story to think about all day. I ask her questions about it all day as we play and we try to put into practice whatever the story talks about. This week's story is the Prodigal Son. Yesterday we talked all about forgiveness and asking God to forgive us and she nodded but every time I asked her about the story yesterday, she couldn't remember anything. I had to keep prompting her.

This morning, after reading the story again and discussing the theme of forgiveness, she asked us to read Jonah instead (if you've been around her in the past 5 months, you know that she is obsessed with Jonah!). Not exactly the response Brent and I were looking for but Avery went on to tell us about Jonah and when she got to the point where Jonah was in the whale's belly, Brent and I pointed out that Jonah asked God to forgive him.

She looked up with bright eyes of understanding and said "the stories are the same!! We ask God to forgive us and He does!"

Don't you love when they get it =)

My Spiritual Journey...

Mediation: The past few weeks I have been working on implementing the discipline of mediation into my life. Not just at times when I feel certain passages jump out at me, but as a daily, all day long occurrence in my life. Why mediation you may ask? Great question!

First: I live a deeply busy life. I watch 5 kids 2 and under 2 days a week, I teach high school English one day a week, I run every errand imaginable on my only free day, plus manage our house hold which is always a mess b/c again, I watch 5 kids 2 and under during the week. I also run a woman's mentoring ministry at the church, coordinate the nursery hallway on Sunday mornings, and desperately try to teach and invest in my children in the in between times. Oh, and I'm pregnant. As I examined my life, I realized that busyness was my hugest adversary to a deeper relationship with God. How was I to mediate and allow the Lord to penetrate my soul and change me if I never sat down or was still during the week? Yet, at the same time, society often judges us by what we contribute and how much we accomplish, not necessarily by how much you invest in your relationship with the Lord. How was I to justify giving up some stuff in my life in order to quiet my life and heart before the Lord when so many around me are way busier than I am.

Enter mediation. As I was reading Celebration of Discipline by Richard Foster, I got stuck on the chapter about mediation. As he listed off person after person throughout the Bible who God spoke to, it wasn't because of what they were accomplishing, it was because they were willing to listen and be still with God. Foster stated mediation is to “live in His presence in uninterrupted fellowship”. Wow. Pretty convicting because right now my whole life feels like one interruption after another. And so the journey begins...

I sat before the Lord and simply asked Him to teach me what it meant to mediate on Him. Brent and I get up every morning between 5:30 and 5:45am to spend time with the Lord, but I knew that what God was calling me to do was more than just that time in the morning. So here's my progress. I'm definitely still learning =)

My first realization was that I needed to simplify my life. I know God called me to stay home with my children and invest in my family, so I next needed to ask myself if I believed that if He called me to stay home, He would provide for our needs. This was definitely a practice in meditation for me as I sought what the Lord was trying to tell me. It soon became apparent that I needed to give up watching the extra kids in order to have more time to manage our household. I have to admit, my pride did not want to allow me to quit! But obedience was more important and as soon as I decided to obey, my world seemed so much lighter!

The next day as I sat before the Lord, I was quieting my heart by reading Psalm 36. For some reason vs 9 stuck out to me and I couldn't get it out of my head all day. “In your light, we see light.” For some reason, the whole next week revolved around this verse as well. I began to realize God was teaching me how to meditate on Him through this verse. The learning process has been interesting and challenging as I reteach my mind how to walk through my day, but the end result is better than what I could imagine.

Meditation is a discipline I am learning and will continue to practice and become better at because I desire to constantly be in the presence of God because in God's presence I will change. I will end today's post with a quote from Frederick W. Faber

“Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.”

Sunday, October 26, 2008


Nana, Pappa, Great Grandma, and Aunt Deanna came to visit on Saturday. They came with gifts and cupcakes to celebrate Avery's birthday a week early.
Great Grandma, her kids, grandkid, and great grandkids at the pumpkin patch
Avery even got to open some presents a week early. Notice her new tutu and pink puppy.What birthday celebration is complete without blowing out some candles!It was a fun day. Thanks for coming to visit!

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I love the library. So do the girls!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Family Fun Day

Today was Friday which meant it was Family Fun Day. We had a great lazy morning together and then took off to go take Avery's 3rd birthday pictures! We had them done at Portrait Innovations and if you've never been, its a great place to go. Their pictures are very professional, and they always have various package deals going that cost only $9.95. Of course they try to convince you to buy the $300 package, but when you're on a tight budget like us, there's no problem saying no =) But for $9.95 you get one 10x13, two 8x10s, four 5x7's, four 3x5's, and 32 wallets...more than enough for any relative that may want one!

Then, after naps, we bakedLicking the chocolate off the spoon is always the best part!walked to the video store
Look at Aves go. She rides everywhere now! But her poor little legs are getting too long for her tricycle, so I think a big girl bike might be her Christmas gift this year!Family video always has free kids movies. You don't have to rent anything else in order to get a free kids movie so its one of our favorite places! Talk about cheap entertainment =)

had dinner together as a family
and just relaxed and enjoyed each others company until bedtime. It was a relaxing and fun day together.

Many Faces

These are the many faces of Elliana...

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Lost My Mind

Who forgets to close the car doors when its pouring outside? That would be me.
Didn't even realize I had done it until Brent got home from work and found the car with puddles of water in it! This baby better be a genius because my brain cells have all been stolen!

Free Meat...almost

I just did this deal and got 20 steak hamburgers from Omaha Steaks for $1.98.

Click here if you want to check out the deal and get some meat for almost free!!

Or click here if you don't need the meat but would like some almost free other items from Omaha steaks.

The directions may sound confusing, but its really not bad. The hardest part is waiting for Geico to send you the confirmation email. It says they will send it in a couple hours, but it took almost 4 hours before it arrived in my inbox. Enjoy your cheap, but really good hamburgers!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Perfect Compromise

The girls enjoyed their first caramel apple today.Luckily, they soon discovered Elliana only liked the apple part and Avery preferred the caramel part. It made for a great friendship =)

My Spiritual Journey...Part 3

Read Part 2 by clicking here

During my second year in San Antonio, as I dated and was pursued by Brent, my spiritual pendulum began to go back to the center. Throughout some good talks with Brent and Christ maturing and refining me, I was able to again discover that joy and love of our Savior that didn't depend on outward performances but instead depended on a wholehearted pursuit of my Savior. However, the hurt from my college years still remained because I still could not put definite structure around my Christian walk. I still felt suffocated if I had to commit to memorizing a certain amount of scripture. If I had to commit to spending so much time alone with God. If I had to commit to anything that anyone else told me I had to do in order to grow closer to God. Maybe its the rebellious nature in me or something. But I fought this battle until a few years ago. The past couple of years, the Lord has been changing my heart and giving me a longing for the spiritual disciplines. I was wary because I had been hurt, but the more God placed in my heart to study the disciplines, the more I realized that what I had experienced in the past was not spiritual discipline. It was legalism using the disciplines to achieve its purpose.

Which brings me to today. A few weekends ago, I spent an entire weekend with people who practice the spiritual disciplines in their daily life. They practice solitude, and meditation, and quietness, and prayer, and worship, and personal examination and reading the word, and thanksgiving, and simplicity, and missional life, and so much more. The difference I experienced that weekend was the peace that those who chose to live this type of life experienced. As God had been drawing my heart towards pursing the spiritual disciplines, my biggest fear was to fall into the legalistic lifestyle and never even know I was there. That weekend showed me how impossible that was if I was pursuing Christ and living in His Kingdom and the disciplines were a result of that. They showed me and reminded me of how to live “with God” and not just “for God”.

My spiritual journey is my life journey. God continually pushing me a little farther in my knowledge of Him so that one day I may be able to say with confidence that I am “rooted and established in love and may have the power to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ...that I may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” As I continue on my journey to grow more and more intimate with our Father, I will start blogging about how the spiritual disciplines are being implemented in my life. Maybe that's my way of holding myself accountable during this part of my spiritual journey =)

I'll continue posting every Tuesday about the process, successes, and learning experiences. Hope you enjoy reading!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Date Night

Brent and Avery had another date night last week. Here is a picture of them getting ready to leave.

Brent asked her out on a date that morning before he left for work. She immediately started jumping up and down and then wanted to plan the whole thing herself (She is a planner. Definitely a first born!) So Brent told her that he was going to plan the whole date, and it was going to be a surprise. You should have seen her eyes light up. She told everyone who would listen that day that her daddy was going to surprise her with a date that night.

Click here to read more about it.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pumpkin Patch

We braved the crowds to go to the pumpkin patch with our team.
We enjoyed a hayride...
Picking out the perfect pumpkins...
Jumping in the bounce houses...
Climbing the haystacks...
Attempting to take a picture with most of the kids in the team...
Finding an even better pumpkin...

It was a great night! To check out all the pictures, go to the web album on the right of the screen.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Family Fun Day

We had a theme for our family fun day this week: Helping others

Earlier this week, our dishwasher broke again. We had just paid for a serviceman to come repair it a month ago so the thought of spending money on repairs again was a little discouraging! Luckily, a sweet friend of ours offered to come help fix our dishwasher. He showed up bright and early Friday morning, he and Brent worked on the dishwasher, went to Home Depot to buy the right parts, and fixed the entire thing! Thanks so much John!!! While at Home Depot, they also bought a new soap dispenser for our sink and installed it! I've hated having soap all over the counter as the girls learn to wash their hands by themselves. This is so nice because all the excess soap falls right into the sink. Pretty great start to the morning, don't you think =)They finished the dishwasher just in time for us to throw the kids in the car and head to the doctor. Avery has been so fascinated with the baby that we thought it might be fun for her to hear the heartbeat. She was a little confused but very fascinated by what she heard. I think her amazement at this whole thing has brought a little more excitement to the whole pregnancy thing. Every time she asks more questions, I'm reminded of the miracle God is creating inside me. Its so fun.(in case you're wondering, she's showing the camera her gum...her new favorite thing!)

After spending most of the morning at the doctor, we decided to try to bless someone the same way John had blessed us earlier that morning. One of our good friends lives a couple blocks away from the doctor's office and has a 4 yr. old, a 2 yr. old and a 5 week old. We thought we would go visit, break up her day, and take her to lunch. I know how long those days get sometimes, and it helps just to have another adult stop in and say hi! Our kids had a blast playing together, we ate a great lunch, and then went our separate ways to get all the kiddos down for a nap.After naps, we colored, did stickers, and made dinner for some other friends who had had a baby a week ago. Elliana has discovered all these new faces that are hilarious. I tried to capture one of them above but she's pretty quick! Brent and I think she's going to be the one to keep us laughing for most of our life!

After we cleaned up our mess and got everyone ready again, we took the dinner to our friends and met their new baby. No pictures of baby Luke though! The girls had too much fun playing with all the toys in the house =) Luke is adorable though, and Brent and I are very excited for the day when we get to hold our own little baby! But we missed a couple turns getting to the house and then enjoyed talking to our friends so much, we stayed longer than I had planned, so by the time we got home, we were all hungry, and it was too late to cook. Brent and I brainstormed and threw together a hodge podge of items to create a fast family dinner.
It was 7:00pm by the time dinner was over, so the kids went straight to bed, and Brent and I collapsed on the couch for the evening and enjoyed our chocolate pudding and a good romantic comedy movie. After such a crazy day, we needed a good lazy night!
And we have officially declared Saturday a stay in your PJs as long as possible day!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Discovering life

Avery has been trying to figure out this whole baby in mommy's tummy thing. Here have been the progression of her thoughts over the last few weeks.

  • "so does the baby eat through your be bo (belly button) or how does it get food?" This was followed by every time I sat down, Avery would come running with her water cup and try to pour water or milk into my belly button because she thought the baby was thirsty.

  • "so how does the baby get out of your tummy? Do you think it can come out for my birthday party and then go back in?"

  • "Was I in your tummy when I was a baby? Was Elliana?

  • Avery: "So when I get to be a baby again will I go back in your tummy?
Me: "You don't become a baby again. You just keep getting bigger and bigger until one day you're as big as mommy."
(she now sat really still and just thought for about 2 minutes before asking...)
Avery: "so when you were a baby, were you in your own tummy?"
  • Tonight's question was: "Was daddy in your tummy when he was a baby?"

I won't even tell you the conversations we've had about nursing! She still remembers me nursing Elliana so there have been many interesting conversations! Her little brain is working overtime trying to figure this whole baby thing out =)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Home Makeover Weekend

Last weekend, our church redid 4 houses in a lower income neighborhood near our church. When I say redid, I mean completely changed and upgraded. Everything from a new air conditioner, new plumbling, new appliances, new paint, new furniture, you name it and we replaced it. Our church has "adopted" an elementary school in this area of town, and we provide school supplies, food, tutoring, community events, and more to this area. The 4 houses that were chosen to be redone this year belonged to families who attend this elementary school.

It is an incredible experience to watch the transformation that occurs at these houses. Hundreds of Northwood members and homebuilders and construction workers around town donate their time, money, and supplies to accomplish this task. Its an incredible vision of God's hands and feet making a difference in people's lives.

Check out the video. The video shows the work done at all 4 houses. We participated at the yellow house.

Northwood Home Makeover '08 from Chris Johns on Vimeo.

My Spiritual Journey...Part 2

(to read Part 1, click here)

It was freeing to be around people who didn't care if you went to church, much less if you went to Sunday school. It was freeing to be around people who thought it wasn't really necessary to be in a Bible study. I had the freedom to search out where God wanted me and pursue it wholeheartedly without any influence from others. Throughout my sophomore and junior year, I fell in love with following Christ in the “real world”. I figured out how to stand on my own and how to live in the Kingdom of God while living a busy life. I met Christian friends who encouraged me and loved me unconditionally. By the time my Junior year was complete, I was asked to step into more of a leadership role in the campus Christian organization I was a member of. I was ecstatic to be able to help others find the fulfilling life I had found in Christ. Only it wasn't that easy.

During my senior year, one of the staff woman began to disciple me. During one of the first meetings, she said to me, “we observed you last year with your discipler to see your character to determine if I would take you and disciple you this year or not.” On one hand, flattering that I past the test. On the other hand, my mind quickly went into the gear that the staff was watching and judging to see if I was good enough. By then, I should have been mature enough to blow this comment off and continue in my pursuit of Christ. But I wasn't. Instead I wholeheartedly jumped into every thing they asked me to do. Looking back, I see that the motivation may have been half to grow closer to Christ and half to be seen as an outstanding Christian. It was pursuing that “outstanding Christian” title that eventually burned me out.

After a full year of being in a Bible study, leading a Bible study, going to the campus Bible study, discipling all the girls in my Bible study, memorizing scripture and getting tested over it and judged if I wasn't up to pare, and being discipled, oh and taking 21 hours of classes, I was done with this particular Christian organization. I was ready to run far far away from anyone who was associated with this organization. I was just ready to be and not ready to perform and be judged anymore.

So came my move to San Antonio to student teach. Once there, I threw off every form of structure in my spiritual life. I didn't plan when or where I had a quiet time. I had them whenever and wherever I chose. As for scripture memory, I threw that out the window b/c no matter how much I wanted to, I refused to make a plan and be held accountable for it and so it never happened. In my quest for spiritual freedom, I came across this book called Grace Walk. While I have since grown to disagree with some things in this book, it was what I needed at the be reminded of God's grace. Soon, my whole relationship became about grace. I lived in and under grace in every aspect of life. My pendulum had been so far to the right and stuck in legalism during my senior year of college, that now it swung way to the left where there was no structure, no expectations, and no accountability because I lived under grace. While not healthy to live in that world forever, I think God allowed me to stay there as my heart and mind recovered from the severe legalism that I had found myself in the years before. be continued next Tuesday

Monday, October 13, 2008

Quote of the Day

Avery: "moooooomy!!! stop running. You're bouncing the baby up and down in your tummy. Maybe when that baby comes out, you can start running again. You're making me nervous."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Exciting Saturday

Saturday was an eventful day. We started the day with Brent running into the kitchen counter and breaking his toe! He pushed forward though because it was OU/TX football day!

Elliana was ready to cheer on her team! We had some friends over for the game, grilled hotdogs and hamburgers, put all the kids down for naps, and just had a great time.

After the game, Brent and Josh went back to the Home Makeover house to help finish up the house. While they were gone, this is what happened to Avery.

Avery and Kate were pretending to ride a school bus. As the "school bus" rounded the back of the couch, Avery tripped and fell into the fireplace and cut her head open. I cleaned the blood, saw the cut, and knew we were going to have to make our first trip to the ER. So I emailed Brent some pictures on his phone to get his opinion, and he came home so he could drive us all to the ER.

Avery did amazingly well. She was pretty calm, but pretty nervous about her boo boo. So to distract her while we waited for the guys to get home, we made some cinnamon rolls. (I had been craving them since Friday morning!)
She's naked because she got blood all over her Goldilocks shirt and so was very nervous about putting on any other shirt. A huge mess, but a big success as far as distracting a little one from her bleeding scalp! By the time Brent made it home, Avery actually said she wanted to go to the doctor so he could fix her boo boo. She did clarify her statement in the car by saying she only wanted to go to the doctor to get a sucker and that from now on, she only wanted boo boos that didn't bleed.
Avery was really brave through the whole experience. She definitely didn't enjoy it, but she did great!

I don't know if you can see it in the picture, but she ended up getting 1 staple in her head. Luckily, suckers make everything better!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Family Fun Day

Friday was Family Fun Day. I really wanted to make cinnamon rolls, but we were out of everything! By the time I realized we desperately needed to go to the store in order to make breakfast, the troops were extremely hungry, so instead of cooking a fun breakfast, we headed to Brent's favorite restaurant, Cracker Barrel. You can't beat a lazy morning at Cracker Barrel!

Then we stopped at a little park and had fun with the girls.

Brent and the girls puts together this cardboard airplane and they had a blast flying it around the park. We had never been to this park before, and it was a great little place that made you feel like you were out in the woods. It may be our new favorite place to go. There were trails that led down to some creeks, and we all had fun making big splashes with our rocks. Elliana was pretty excited about the water! Who knew you could spend an hour just throwing rocks into a creek =) They were pretty disappointed we couldn't stay the whole day and play. For some reason a family trip to the grocery store just didn't sound all that exciting to them!

It was our big home makeover weekend with our church so Brent spent the afternoon working at the house our team had been assigned, and the girls and I had fun riding bikes and cleaning house. After they went to bed, Brent and I went back to the yellow team's house and worked until about midnight. But more about that later =)

Avery is starting to get old enough to understand that Friday's are our family fun days. This Friday when I told her that daddy wasn't going to go to work, her response was, "yeah!!!! What are we all going to do together today?" I pray that idea of family togetherness penetrates both girls hearts as they grow up.