Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Unwrap-able Christmas Gifts

Un wrap able gift #1: time with my family at my parents. Also ( #2) My mom and dad kept the boys while Ben and I took our first date since Knox was born. We went to Amsterdams in Auburn & then to see Blind Side! What an AWESOME present!!!
#3: A visit from some of my favorite people in the world- The Brown family. They are some of the most influential people in my life and i will always consider them family. Here is Jacy and Janie. I remember when both of them were born...i feel like I'm getting older.However the check out guy @ Walmart today (who was like 65) said that i didn' t look a day over 18. Thank you Mr. Walmart scanner man!!!
Here is Julie holding my baby Knox! Wow we dreamed of these days together!
And the famous Roger Brown!  A VERY special man in my life. Helped me learn to eat peanut butter, pop tarts, watch the Braves and drive a truck! (not all at the same time!)

MORE ON UNWRAP ABLE presents to come....

Sunday, December 27, 2009

link to family photos

Photos of the holidays
Ben did such a great job capturing our Christmas on camera. Please visit his site (above link) to see how we enjoyed the holidays. My camera battery was left on teh charger in Alabama so i wasn't able to update my blog with pictures yet. My parents are visiting tomorrow so i will try to get some up this week!
Hope all of you enjoyed your Christmas. I was wondering..what is your favorite family holiday food? I mean in addition to the traditional ham or turkey with all the trimmings?? Ben's fam always has quiche, 'nuts and bolts' and cheese straws. My family always has my moms famous garlic cheese ball, graham cracker roll, chocolate peanut butter balls and almond bark cookies. My best friend's mom always has gingerbread men and hot spice cider. I can still taste the combo!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Illness and medicine

DIDN'T BEN DO A GREAT GREAT JOB ON OUR NEW HEADER??!! Those are all pictures he took in our most recent shoot..
Poor Brennan's "I don't feel good face"

All our medicine!!!!!
Lots of tv time till daddy gets home this is how i have survived my sinus infection while Brennan has endured his double ear infection.

This is not how i would choose to spend the days between Thanksgiving & Christmas. I would much rather be baking and listening to Christmas carols and settling down with hot cocoa and the reruns of timeless Christmas shows at night. 
BUT...instead i have been wiping noses and giving medicines.  I have truly been in survival mode day in and day out. I have a severe sinus infection, Brennan has a double ear infection & Knox has the croop. We have enough medicine here to start an apothecary! When Ben asked if i had a good day yesterday i simply responded "no one went hungry"...
So for Christmas all I want it for us to be healthy again and out of survival mode!!
May you and yours enjoy the holidays!!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Have you ever wanted to be happy? Done things to make yourself happy? Been motivated by happiness? Have you tried endlessly to make yourself happy? Do people describe you as 'happy'? Do you describe yourself as 'happy'? How about God-do you think of Him as 'happy'?

Of course we ALL want to be happy, we all try to be happy, we make choices based on what will make us happy, we want to be described as happy, we wish we were always happy and, God- well, we wish He was always happy too.  But we are told by some that His happiness is based on our obedience and if we don't obey, in essence He is not happy.. 

The questions above are all that I have had in the past.  And i have marveled and rejoiced that 'yes' is my answer! But then i asked myself why could i answer yes? Have i just had that good of a life? Some may argue that is why, but i want to propose otherwise:
1. Happiness is circumstantial. (I was taught this, by my parents-as proof for the difference between joy & happiness. B/c of my name being Joy, I often felt like being called something else and told my parents so- to which they replied with this lesson).
If everything is going my way- i am happy. If not- i am sad. But joy exists even when things aren't going my way.  It is the gift of God to see things as He sees them. 
2.  God is good.  I am not saying that just knowing God is what is good, or that when God does what I like that He is good, or when I am healthy, clean, safe and content-He is good. NO. Always. No matter how I or anyone else feels, no matter the condition of the economy, no matter the condition of any circumstance- He IS good. He does what is best. I don't have to agree with Him or think that what He chose is best. But I must believe it for me to be truly happy. 
3. God gave us the desire to be happy. Every person who has ever lived or will ever live desires to be happy. Consider these quotes:
"We hold these truths to be self–evident,That all men are created equal,That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,That among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"-These words were written by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence.
"Indeed, man wishes to be happy even when he so lives as to make happiness impossible."  ~St. Augustine
He gave us this desire so that we would eternally be on a quest for Himself. For the only true way we can be happy is in HIM. The old hymn says "trust and obey for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey". I have found that if i truly believe God is good and that He genuinely wants me to be happy and i do obey Him that i have a deeper more meaningful happiness than anything i could muster up alone. [i.e. It may not seem like it would make you happy to discipline your child when they disobey-for it doesn't make then happy when you discipline them and if they are unhappy then to a degree aren't you unhappy? However, God says "Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him. And "The Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights."( Prov  3:12 and 13:24. )And when i see the fruit of disciplining my child i am happy.] God knows what makes up truly happy. More than we do and through circumstances we may not enjoy at all times, but that its end is happiness. For life will be FULL of times of 'unhappiness' but we await an eternal happiness in Him in heaven forever and ever. What greater happiness is there than Him? "whom have I in heaven but you And earth has nothing I desire besides you." Psalm 73:25.
4.  God is happy. He does what pleases Himself.(Psalm 135:6/115:3)  There is nothing that 
happens that he does not allow, foresee and plan for the good of Himself and His people 
(Romans 8:28). So why couldn't i trust and rest fully knowing this? What could be told to me 
to make me any happier? He is in charge. Not some unhappy, bent on destruction-God. He 
works for my good. He is good. He is happy. So should i be.
I think most of my life i unknowingly thought of God as happy. Now, i consciously tell myself 
that. God is happy. He is good. So this (whatever it may be) is for my good and so i should be 
So friends, how is your level of happiness and what is it based on?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Brother Of Mine

©  samira
Brother of mine
I know sometimes I whine
But deep down I really find you somewhat divine
You are smarter than you think.
Smarter than me – in some ways
Like you know how to walk and wink.

Brother of mine
I could not love you more
I could be no prouder
No matter what occurs.
No matter what is said or done
I loved you from the start.
No matter the age 
You’ll always be in my heart.


This past week we took a mini vacation to Gatlinburg. Ben's mom sells time shares and the unit she works in currently is the new Wilderness Resort in Gatlinburg. It is located right on the Little Pigeon River and has an indoor water park. It is top notch and was quite an experience. It did snow on Saturday and we got a shot of the boys before my arms gave out and the cold set in..

There were two enormous water slides, a surf machine, two kiddie pool/activity areas, an oversized hot tub, a lazy river, and a wave pool..here is the big kiddie play area..
All that fun and where is my son???... He discovered his shadow! He would walk backwards and forwards and bend down and try to touch it.He finally waved at it and then patted his chest and said mine! Ha..that is my child! Its the small things..
And here is my talented, athletic, oh so hot hubby surfing the waves!
Woo Hoo!! 
Check out the resort by clicking here. It was PERFECT for a young family week of fun-summer in the winter! It was very warm and the water was heated. Families with kids 4 & up would probably enjoy it most though..

Friday, December 4, 2009

Big Brother Little Brother

I am so thrilled that Brennan has begun to enjoy Knox. The last couple of days have been precious to watch. I managed to get a few moments on camera and thought i would share:
Here is Brennan crawling to read to Knoxie.
He would open a book, close it and then say "the end"..it was PRECIOUS!! However in one book he did say hop hop when there was a bunny, so maybe he knows more than i think..And yes..he has on a necklace, his "melmo" underwear, socks-no pants and a shirt that he was wearing for the 2nd day in a row!

So here is the story. I got out the Bumbo the other day to see if Knox was ready for it and Brennan found the new special seat quiet exciting. Today i put Knox in it while i was doing some stuff and Brennan came to me with his sad face and said "knox". Like he was tattling on him for being in the chair. I went to him and said 'you don't want Knox to sit in the Bumbo?' he looked confused..'you don' t want Knox to sit in the special chair?' 'huh,' he says, (his version of uh huh) 'you want a special chair?" i say. Yes he says!! So i take him to his room to his little chair that he rarely sits in and explain: 'This chair is too big for Knox, its too small for mommy and daddy, but its JUST right for you! (feeling a little like Goldie Locks and the 3 Bears..) I tell him its the chair mommy and daddy bought for him when Knox was born so that he would know he was special. That he is the ONLY one in our family who can sit in this chair right now and that makes it special. 'Its Brennan's special chair' i say. Then i asked him if he wanted to sit in it and BOY was he excited! Then, sweet thing...he pushed it over to the office where Knox was, right beside him and sat down. Like "hmph, my special chair, Knox special chair.." Don't you LOVE IT!?!

Friday, November 27, 2009


Some people don't get into the whole turkey for 4 days straight. Some people would rather be at home for the holidays than to travel to what used to be home. Some prefer to avoid traditions, but not me. I've always been a sentimentalist.. I LOVE the smell of food cooking; of waking up knowing that today we get to eat on fancier dishes, have more than our normal square meal, enjoy more than one dessert, laugh louder and listen longer than usual. I love fireplaces (though they irritate the heck out of my sinuses), i love scarfs and football and leaves and casseroles. I love seeing people that you only see once a year and tasting foods that have yummy ingredients like cranberries or marshmallows. 
THIS YEAR, our poor Brennan.. He cried through his Thanksgiving feast at Mother's Day Out, left without eating a bite, and fell asleep on the 3 minute drive home. When he awoke from a 3 hour nap his temp was 103.1. I called his pediatrician and he said there was nothing to do-just rotate the Tylenol/Motrin but that's it. I wanted a second opinion so i called our GP. He looked at him and though he couldn't find anything (ear/throat etc) he called in a prescription of azithromiacin. We went ahead and put him to bed and Ben went to get the medicine for morning. The next morning we gave him the med, packed and left for Alabama (Ben's family in Muscle Shoals-we celebrated early with my family). By Chattanooga we realized it was a bad idea and decided to turn around. That night we had our normal bedtime routine and Brennan started acting funny-jerky movements, fighting the routine, crying..it got worse and worse. Soon he was acting like he was out of his mind, thrusting himself at you or other objects then screaming, squirming..he seemed to be gripped with fear. We had never seen him act like this! It was quiet scary & frustrating. We called his pediatricians office and spoke with a triage nurse. She said to head to the ER. So we did. After about 2-3 hours of Brennan not going to anyone but me, having these fierce fits, not using any words or sign language, acting insane. (no really)We got in the car and he started speaking words..asking for "E I O" So...long story short-[ i could keep you up til 2am with the us, but i will spare you] I got online after no one could figure out what it was and it had all the symptoms of  anaphylaxis. (click to learn more)
Its a severe reaction to histamines (antibiotics, bee stings etc..) BOO!! So no more of that medicine for Big Guy and now he is just fine..But needless to say, i did not get my fill of turkey and dressing. However, the Simmons (thank you once again Dear Jesus) invited us to share in their thanksgiving leftovers. So we headed to Teliquah Falls to a beautiful cabin and after a fun photo shoot (click to see pics)  we enjoyed some of my favorite foods before little Brennan had had enough and we returned home (a 45 min drive). 
As i reflected on this season of my life and felt a teeny bit sorry for myself i read the following passage and it SO encouraged me:
1 peter 2:21-25This is the kind of life you've been invited into, the kind of life Christ lived. He suffered everything that came his way so you would know that it could be done, and also know how to do it, step-by-step. 
He never did one thing wrong,  Not once said anything amiss.
They called him every name in the book and he said nothing back. He suffered in silence, content to let God set things right. He used his servant body to carry our sins to the Cross so we could be rid of sin, free to live the right way. His wounds became your healing...
Through thick and thin, keep your hearts at attention, in adoration before Christ, your Master... It's better to suffer for doing good, if that's what God wants, than to be punished for doing bad. That's what Christ did definitively: suffered because of others' sins, the Righteous One for the unrighteous ones. He went through it all—was put to death and then made alive—to bring us to God.
hmmm..i don't know suffering do i?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Friends, I don't know how you feel about our President, but this is convicting:

1 Peter 2: 11-12 Friends, this world is not your home, so don't make yourselves cozy in it. Don't indulge your ego at the expense of your soul. Live an exemplary life among the natives so that your actions will refute their prejudices. Then they'll be won over to God's side and be there to join in the celebration when he arrives.

 13-17Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; they are God's emissaries for keeping order. It is God's will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you're a danger to society. Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government.


Ever contemplated the fact that there is nothing good in us?? Here are 16 different references in the bible to this fact. I'm sure there are more but this is what i have found so far: 
Beginning in Psalms
14:1-2 There is no one who does good. The LORD looks down from heaven on the sons of men to see if there are any who understand any who seek God..all have turned aside, they have altogether become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.
This same scripture is in Psalm 55:1-2
Surely i was sinful at birth from the time my mother conceived me..
Even from birth the wicked go astray, from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.
..for NO ONE living is righteous before you..
1 Kings 8:46
For there is no one who does not sin
JOb 15:14
What is man that he could be pure, or one born of woman that he could be righteous?
Proverbs 20:9
For who can say i have kept my heart pure, i am clean and without sin?
Ecc 7:20
There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.
Isaiah 64:6
All of us have become like one who is unclean, all our righteous acts are like filthy rags
Galatians 3:22
But Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin
Ephesians 2:3
All of us lived among them at one time gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts..like the rest we were objects of wrath
Deut 9:7/Is 52:6/1 John 1:8/1 john 1 :10

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

2 Peter 1

Okay guys, I know that this is long,but i am doing a study on 1 Peter 1, while i try to memorize it. Yes. The whole chapter. By telling you i am automatically accountable. So ask me how i'm doing every once in a while.. I wanted to share what i read this morning by W A Criswell: [click here to read the entire sermon]

"The faith is outside of us.  It is objective.  It is not in us.  It is something we procure.  It is something we secure.  It is something we receive.  It is something on the outside of us: This faith upon which we build our hope and our worship, our life in God.

Is that true?  Is that in keeping with the revelation of the Lord in the Holy Scriptures: That the faith that saves us, is something from the outside--it is something we receive--it is something God must do for us? 

Is that true?  Am I born with that faith?  By nature, am I given to it?  Do I just slide into holiness?  Do I just drift in the godliness?  Am I somehow saved already, and all I need is just for the inward salvation that I am born with by nature to be cultivated?  Is that true? 

The Apostle writes here that the faith of Jesus Christ that saves us is not in us.  It is something outside of us.  We're not born with it.  It's something we get, we secure.  We obtain it, and that is the universal presentation and revelation of the Word of God.   

Paul wrote it like this in Ephesians 2: 8, and 9: “For by grace are ye saved through faith and that not of yourself."  It's not in you: “… And that not of yourselves.”  It comes from God.  It comes from outside of us.  It is something we obtain, we secure, not of work, not of my cultivation, lest I should boast that I did it. 

Or, take, again, in Titus 3:5:

For not by works of righteousness which we have done, but by His grace and His mercy are we saved by the labor--the washing--of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit. 

My salvation is something God gives me.  And, my disposition to holiness and godliness is something that God does for me because, by nature, I am not that way. "

Thursday, November 12, 2009

For my mom

HOW do you rotate these pictures?? an updated picture of Knox..
Brennan got to go pick up hay with PAPA!!

Brennan had to wear his boots like PAPA!

My mom wanted a picture of me and the boys with my long hair before it cut..sorry that Bailey got in the picture too.

Tardy Family Pics

For October 31 we were LIONS AND TIGERS AND BEARS OH MY!  Ben and I were the Tigers with our Auburn sweatshirts and Knox was a bear and Brennan the Lion. It was so cute you would ask Brennan what the Lion said and he would roar!

Here is Knoxie the fierce bear..maybe its hibernation season!
And the lion that likes to work..
and yes i am the only one looking at the camera!

on our way to the Mayfield farm..
If you were not aware (for those of my out of town friends) Athens TN is home to Mayfield Milk Dairy Farm. Ben grew up with the Mayfield boys and i am sure i put this in last years' post, anyway..each year they have activities at the farm the entire month of October. We decided to make it a tradition instead of trickor treating. They have a hayride, fresh kettle corn, a bonfire, hotdogs and other concessions, a corn maze, a corn cob shoooting, a corn box (like a sand box) for kids to play in, a cow train, a petting zoo and milking station and more! Its super fun..here are a few snaps.
our hayride..
petting the llamas and donkey..

our personal tour of Mayfield's original dairy by Mr. Scotty Mayfield himself..
Him showing Brennan and Chase how to honk the horn on the old car..
Ben and the boys milking the pretend cow..
My tiger!
Wook at wittle Knox!

Monday, November 9, 2009


My day began with my son marking with permanent marker on our WHITE duvet cover on our master bed. Continued on to that same son finding my oversized Sharpie and marking on the computer, taking a nap three hours late (probably because he had a banana popsicle for breakfast!) thus pushing bedtime to an hour later. When i tried to read books for bedtime routine he simply went and got his shoes and mine and went to the door to our garage and said "go!" showing me that it was NOT time to sleep yet..And it ended with my newborn running a temp of 100.5.
BUT John 1:16 from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
So today i celebrate that:
i had a car to put the boys in and drive til Brennan fell asleep
that i had a tredmill to get on and run the heck out of once he was asleep (to get out my frustrations)
that i did get to the grocery store
that i only had to spend 54 dollars on groceries
that Knox went to bed easy although not feeling well
that i have medicine for both boys
that my hubby cleaned up the kitchen
..and bathed both boys
that while they were napping i got to catch up on Bible study AND shower
that supper was a bake-for- an-hour hassle free
that i got to have some computer time cacthing up with friends

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


I Love the FALL! i think its because i grew up with a yard full of vibrant maple trees that came ablaze each autumn. Our family had friends drive from all over to visit each October...its a bittersweet season though, because although beautiful its short lived and is a sign of death.. (oops that sounded morbid)..But it makes me think about all the seasons of life. Seasons of places and freindships and family.

I am at my parents visiting this week as Ben in in New Orleans at a Photography conference. It was better than some very long without-Daddy-days at home by myself! As i drove past my old high school its seems another life ago. I think about just the changes in friendships in this past year of my life and how the dynamics of a family change with each additional birth.

Right now its seems impossible for my sister and i to have a conversation with 4 little ones under 4 between us. But i can remember times where the last things i wanted to do was have a conversation with my sister..I laid in bed the other night walking through my elementary school years..each teacher & a memory from each year-friends and how our family looked back then. I am SO thankful for my family and the way i was raised. I see God's grace & favor throughout those years. His mercy for not giving me what i deserved in my self centered state and His grace giving me good thing after good thing..What a Father!!

I am working on concentrating on that-truly meditating on ways God has shown Grace to me on a daily basis. Recognizing that ANYTHING and ALL things GOOD come from Him. So here goes for yesterday and today:

1. Brennan took TWO naps yesterday.

2. Last night while my parents were at revival both boys got baths and went to bed with no problem.

3. I got to encourage my sister on a bad mommyhood day for her.
4. Knox slept til 5am this morning

5. Brennan woke up joyful

6. My mom cooked breakfst for us all

7. Our family friend Paul Harbison took Brennan for a walk to see the animals in Papa's absence this morning (he is doing the music for the revival) so i could nurse Knox

8. Knox was happy while i bathed Brennan & got him down for the night

9. I had a few minutes to restfully type with all of my brain engaged in what i was doing (SUPER RARE!) while everyone is at revival.

10. God has brought songs and scripture to mind to bless me the last few days

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Day in the Life

HOORAY!!!! Brennan and I have been working on potty training. By saying both of us i mean BOTH. At first i had to set a timer to remind myself to ask him if he needs to go then i had the brainy idea that i should just put him on the potty while i go...hmm the stuff i can come up with to methodiize motherhood...a timer??really?? yes. welcome to my OCD-ness and years of training as a teacher whose job was to plan plan plan for success. Yes i used the timer A LOT in the classroom too!
Tonight at dinner Brennan looked at me and said "poo poo" then Ben (having learned from previous experience just how quick this took place) RAN him to the toilet. Brennan then commenced to poop an enormous poop all by himself! (not that anyone can help, but you get what i mean!)
Last Thursday Ben and i had our pastoral interview and on the way home he mentioned his cough was lingering and he wasn't feeling too good (for those of you that didn't know or read the blog-Ben had the flu about a month ago). That night he felt that it was returning and with more fierceness than before..he had a fever and all the symptoms. I tried not to panic and kept myself and the kids away. PRAISE GOD and what an expression of His Grace -we have not gotten it!!!!!!!!!!! I have felt kind of yuck. I ran a fever a little, and have had a teeny sore throat, but not too bad. We have been little cabin feverish though trying not to get sicker by playing in the cold and going out where we are exposed to more or expose others..
My mom headed up this way when she thought i might be getting sick and though i felt fine she came and stayed the day. Knox had his 2 month shots today so she stayed with Brennan for me.
I have been thinking for liek a week now that i couldn't wait to blog and there were 500 things i wanted to say, but now i am so tired that i can't think of them..so til i can..
oh..one of the things i wanted to say was that i had to cancel the hair cut last Friday so thats why there is no picture..BUT it IS rescheduled for THIS Friday! HOORAY!

Monday, October 19, 2009

So here it is..

The promised update look to the blog..Yes that is our precious son in the heading!  Ben has been designing some of the cover pics for the sermon series our church has been doing. Go here to learn more about the series on BLISS..
Meanwhile here are a few pictures showing my mommy hood bliss:

War Eagle
Brennan LOVES pimento cheese!
Knox was awoken by his boisterous big brother.
Knox was not enjoying our dinner music.
Story time!
Burr its cold outside! Welcome to winter...lets just skip autumn!
Gotta love that face!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

New haircuts

So my sweet little Knoxy (as i have begun to call him to make it sound non-punk-like, haha) LOVES to grab my hair with his milky sticky fingers. He holds on to all things really tight-your shirt, Ben's chest hair, his grandaddy's Auburn Sweatshirt...and BOY does he have a grip!
These facts have confirmed my readiness for a haircut. For over a year now, i have been growing out my hair for Locks of Love (click for more info). I planned on donating my hair when i got it cut when we first married, but didn't. Since i didn't get to run the half marathon for St. Jude the past two years (bc i was pregnant) i was determined to do at least this. You can donate a 6 inch or 10 inch ponytail(..all you have to do is mail it in..) it goes to provide hair replacements for cancer patients. I have had many people in my life that meant a lot to me die of cancer and i saw them go through the painful expereince, all losing their dignity in the sense of hairloss. They hated it and wore their do-rags when they were alone in their homes wondering if it would ever grow back or if they would die first. I also weep everytime i here thesong sara beth by Rascal Flats and think of young girls losing their hair. 
I PRAY THAT HOPELESSNESS DOES NOT HAUNT YOU OR THOSE YOU LOVE, BUT THAT INSTEAD TO DIE IS GAIN! That the release into the eternal presence of a loving GOD is something that you long for. As i was challenged today in a sermon to practice daily a desire & intimacy with God that makes death a consumation of a long awaited union and ultimate satisfaction.
All that said i have researched a few cuts and would love your input on which one best suits me and my face shape..my appt is in two weeks so i have time to read through all your thoughts!

Yes, i know they are all very similar...