Thursday, December 27, 2012

Fatcation 2012.

Most people dream of going on big elaborate vacations. Maybe some place like Paris. Or Spain. Me? My only request was to go to Branson, MO during the holidays. I wanted to see the lights and the pretties. This year, I was pleasantly surprised when Lee suggested we go this year! Along with me, Lee, and Hadley came my grandparents, my aunt, uncle, and cousin, Lee's parents, and his brother.

We left on a Friday morning and headed that way. We stopped in Springfield, MO at Bass Pro. We were hoping to see the aquarium that has been under construction for years. Well, of course, it was still under construction. That was disappointing, but since it was Christmas time there was tons of Hadley to do. She rode the carousal 3 times. She wasn't too sure about it at first, but after the first go 'round - she loved it. 

When we left Bass Pro we went to lunch at Lambert's Cafe. This is where we met up with my family. Usually the wait to get into Lambert's is about 1 or even 2 hours. We were fully expecting a long wait. Somehow we got in in less than 10 minutes. Lucky! We all ate lots of rolls and lots of food. Hadley was so funny. Every time the man throwing the rolls would come out, she would throw her hands in the air. But he never saw her. We finally caught his attention and he came over and "tossed" her her own roll. She was so excited. Sweet baby!
My mother-in-law, Tracey, and her ridiculously large salad. I couldn't stop starring at it!

 Hadley "catching" her roll. 

Lambert's is only about 30 minutes outside of Branson, so we got there shortly after lunch. We checked into our hotel and got settled in our rooms. Then we decided to hit up the Tanger Outlit Mall. We weren't too impressed overall. I've been there before and have found much better deals. I'm not really sure if I wasn't looking in the right spots or if it was just bad timing. Oh, and for once, I didn't buy anything at the COACH outlit. I didn't see anything I just couldn't live without. 

That night we had reservations for the Dixie Stampede. I love love love the "regular" Dixie Stampede. I was very impressed with the Christmas show. It was the best live Nativity I've ever seen. The only bad thing about it was, we were stuffed. We were stuffed from lunch. It was a terrible decision to eat Lambert's and the Dixie Stampede in 1 day! Hence why the renamed this vacation to "fat"cation.

Saturday we spent the morning shopping at The Landing. Saturday afternoon we went to Silver Dollar City. I normally love SDC. I've dreamed of going during the holidays. BUT it will never happen again. It was so busy. So crazy. So packed! That it wasn't even really enjoyable. Plus, it was pretty cold. It took 1 hour just to get to the parking spot then another 30 minutes waiting to get into the park. Madness, I tell you! We stayed long enough to see all the lights "officially" light up for the night, but left shortly after. We didn't even stay for the parade. Oh well, Hadley loved it for the few hours we were there. Hopefully, we can take her back another time so she can enjoy the rides without it being so busy. 

Hadley and Daddy at SDC after going through the fun house. 

Hadley and Mommy in SDC.

Daddy and Hadley looking at the lights.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

An Ordinary Woman

I was recently contacted by The Aegis Element to write a little bit of my experience, thus far, with motherhood. The Aegis Element is a non-profit organization that provides care to women who have escaped and survived human trafficking. They aid in helping women recover, restore, and find their perfect skill set in order to reengage in society.

I'm particularly proud of and support The Aegis Element because it was co-founded by one of my nearest and dearest friends, Sarah.  Sarah is one of my very best friends from college. We had a rough start, but it developed into one of my most cherished friendships. I'm proud to call her my friend. But more importantly, I'm proud of her for following her passion and the plans God has laid on her life.

When Sarah contacted me, she asked me to talk about the relationship a mother has with their child. The feelings that come up when you know you are about to bring life into the world. This was the article: {You can also read it here on The Aegis Element's blog.}


Before having a child of my own, I'm going to be honest, I never thought that much about the relationship between Jesus and his mother, Mary. To be really honest, I never thought about it. At all. She was a virgin. Immaculate conception occurred. She birthed the Savior of the world. It sounds crazy! Not be "belittle" the power of God, but don't all Bible stories sound a little crazy? Jesus healed the blind man. Jesus walked on water. Jesus, even, raised a man from the dead. So, of course (!!!) He was born of a virgin. It only makes sense.

But the more I think about it the more obsessed (if you will..) with the story I become. I mean, my pregnancy was planned. Of course, it was also part of God's bigger plan, but it was also a conscious decision to bring a child into this world. We prepared for this baby (girl). We painted her room. We bought her things to ensure that she had the best life we could offer her. We were excited. I cannot imagine how Mary, a soon-to-be-wed-but-nonetheless-virgin, must have felt. This was not in her plans! She must have been terrified. Even with the words, "Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God" {Luke 1:30, NIV}I would have still freaked out.

I cannot imagine carrying a child that I didn't plan, that was the Son of God, AND knowing that one day I would have to give Him away. She knew that Jesus was sent with a greater purpose. We are all were born with a purpose, but no purpose held such a great weight as Jesus' did. Jesus felt the weight of his responsibility. As it was recorded {Matthew 26: 38 - 39, NIV}, 38]"Then he said to them, 'My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.' 39]Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, 'My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." He then asks again {Matthew 26: 42, NIV}, "He went away a second time and prayed, 'My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

As a parent, you never want your child to feel as if the "weight of the world is on their shoulders." Jesus did. He felt it. Mary felt it for Him. That's not recorded, but as a mother myself I feel that it's true. You stress when you your child stresses. You hurt when they hurt. You mourn when they mourn. And in that sense (also not recorded) I wonder if Mary and Jesus were ever mourning the loss of each other. They both knew what was to come. They both knew it had to be done. But with Jesus being just as human as you and me, I have to wonder if he mourned for his mother and having to leave her so soon. He obviously was concerned about her being alone when He said, {John 19:26-27, NIV} 26]"...'Woman, here is your son,' 27] and to the disciple (John) 'Here is your mother.' From that time on this disciple took her into his home."

As we go into the Christmas season, I find myself trying to put myself in Mary's shoes. As different as our situations were -- as mother's I know we have the same heart. She was just an ordinary woman who carried, birthed, and raised an extraordinary man.