Thursday, December 30, 2010

Recap of 2010

Phillip proposing to Jillian over Thanksgiving
My boys getting ready for an Auburn game.

4/5 Fab in Auburn + Mason

Boof and me at Matt and Amanda's wedding in, I do love me with darker skin and blonder hair!
June, Justin was finally home from his 2nd field season!
Mason loves warm spring weather and thick grass to roll around in!
Mother's Day 2010 at Mamaw's
Valentine's Day at the Biltmore Estate
Girls' Weekend in Auburn in January

I honestly can not believe that 2010 has come and gone. As a child, I remember my grandfather saying, "It feels like we have 5 Christmases a year because the time goes so quickly." and now I understand what he meant. As a teacher, I definitely believe in reflection; not harping on the past, but learning from it and looking forward to the future. I also believe that memories are so important and since this blog is one way I keep up with things going on in our lives, I love blogging about the high lights of our year. So, with that said, enjoy as I reflect and recap of all the things God has done in our lives in 2010.

January: 1.) Mom and Jill came back to Auburn with me after Christmas for a girl's trip since Justin was in Mexico for 3 weeks doing research. We had a wonderful visit together! 2.) Because I was having so much fun over the holidays and with family visiting, the morning after they left, I realized I was a week late and took a pregnancy test...indeed, I was pregnant!!! I was shocked. We had been using protection and by no means did this make sense to me. Justin was away and I couldn't call him. "Holy Cow" is all I could say. 3.)Justin got home and we began to celebrate in the surprise of this child. However, on January 21st, God had different plans and at 8 weeks pregnant, our baby went on to be with Jesus. I really don't like the term "miscarriage" because it sounds like a mistake and God's hand was in this the entire time. The next few weeks and even months were defined by this event in our lives as God really began to work on my heart about surrendering my hearts' deepest desire to him and Justin and I both grew significantly as a couple. We also were able to see how wonderful our families and friends were during this time.
February: Valentine's Day trip to Asheville, NC! Justin's grandparents always give us money for Christmas and we had decided that we wanted to use this money to go on a trip. We had no idea how much we NEEDED this time. It honestly was one of my most precious times with Justin. We enjoyed the cute shops and amazing places to eat. We visited the Biltmore Estate and museums. It was a very romantic and intimate weekend for us as a couple. While there, we also realized that God was placing on our hearts a peace about beginning a family. We both realized that we had "our plan" but that it was different than God's plan for us. Though we always thought we would wait to have children after Justin's Master's program, we both knew at this time that God was really asking us to trust Him, so we decided that we would begin "trying" to have a baby and see what God had in mind.

March: Love, love, love the spring time! I had my annual "girls weekend" at OIB in NC with my college best friends and enjoyed the warmer weather and began to really get back into shape. Justin started P 90 X and though I have excercised religiously through out college and since then, I got really focused on wanting to be in the best health possible before I got pregnant. God was continuing to do A LOT in both Justin's and my heart and we were learning a lot about trusting Him.

April: Justin's family visited for their annual Easter trip and we continued to enjoy the spring. Justin's grandparents also visited at the end of the month. We always enjoy family coming into town. We enjoyed taking Mason to the dog park, going to baseball games, working in the yard, and reading under our magnolia tree in the afternoons after work.
May: Justin left for his 2nd field season, leaving Mason and I to have some bonding time. We spent Mother's Day weekend at Mamaw's house (which was very difficult for me this year, after having lost our first baby and not being pregnant yet) so it was really great to be with Momma and Mamaw that weekend. Mason and I watched the month fly by as the school year came to a close and spending all our afternoons going on long walks and keeping the house tidy without Justin there to make things dirty. :) Mason celebrated his first birthday and got to each a whole pork chop! On Memorial Day weekend, Zach, Jillian, and Phillip came to visit. We had a great time and Jillian got to stay with me for the week afterward, moving into June.

June: Jillian started the month off with me laying by the pool, eating lots of Tutti Frutti, and going shopping. We headed north back home and I started my 3 week visit to NC. I was able to attend 2 college girl friends' weddings as well as Mason and I spending some much needed time with Justin in the Outer Banks. I was also able to visit with my family and friends from home and it was wonderful.

July: Justin and I spent the 4th of July in Auburn with friends. Beth, Natalie, and Candice visited Auburn and it was so nice to have a piece of "home" in Auburn! While they were here, we found out after 5 months of lots of prayers and waiting, we were indeed pregnant!!! It was so great to have close friends from home to share the news with us. Justin's birthday came and we almost lost Mason to poison. We also had our 2 year anniversary, which was bittersweet as well as we awaited news if Mason would make it or not. Praise the Lord, he did and our "first son" was back home with us. It took him several weeks to get back to his old self, but we were so glad to have him back home with us. Justin and I enjoyed the rest of the month relaxing and enjoying the summer with wonderful Auburn friends.

August: School and volleyball season came too quick for me, but it was a good transition, even though I was in my first trimester. Fortunately, I did not have to worry too much about morning sickness, I got more sick at night, but my exhaustion was like nothing I had experienced. Before getting pregnant, I honestly thought many women were kind of wussy when they talked about being tired and sick all the time and I ate my words. Though I vowed I would never complain about a single symptom in pregnancy since it's something I so deeply wanted, I really was the most tired I have ever been. Justin was a champ and helped me so much during this time.

September: Justin's parents visited for a football game and we enjoyed our last official days of summer. However, I was pumped because fall is my favorite time of year! We did lots of yard work and enjoyed the cooling nights, football games, and fall foods. We also enjoyed a visit home to celebrate in the wedding of some good friends in Shelby, as well as celebrating the wedding of good friends over Labor Day weekend with friends in Auburn.
October: I celebrated my 25th birthday, as well as finding out we were going to have our little boy, Jude. What a blessing and the best birthday present ever, to know our son was healthy! We carved our 4th annual jack-o-lantern and enjoyed home made pumpkin bread for Halloween. (One of Justin's favorite traditions.) Justin's grandparents were also able to visit! Unfortunately, volleyball season came to an end, but not without us going all the way to sub-state, winning the Area Tournament, coming in 2nd in the Regionals, and ending up in the top 16 6-A teams in the state. I was very proud of our girls!

November: My parents came for a visit and we had a great time. We enjoyed going to the Calvary Museum in Columbus and prepared for cooler weather. We officially put the flannel sheets on and put Mason's "warm" blanket in his pin. We enjoyed long walks together at night and snuggling on the couch. My exhaustion was much better so I finally saw after 9 pm again. :) We enjoyed Thanksgiving with Justin's family, as well as a quick visit from Jillian and Phillip. The very end of November brought great news to our family, we were gaining a brother in law...Phillip had proposed to my baby sister!

December: After decorating the house and listening to my first Christmas song of the season, I was in official Christmas mode. December was really great for us! We picked out lots of gifts and spent a lot of great quality time with our friends in Auburn before leaving for the holidays. We also had the nursery painted and the crib set up, so when we get home after New Year's with the rest of Jude's furniture, his nursery will be almost finished. It's really beginning to set in that 2011 will be totally different once our little man arrives!

Each day is so quick to pass and I am reminded of the importance of making each moment count. Sorry for the long post, but after looking back, we have so many great memories to be thankful for so many people have touched our lives in 2010. Thank you Lord for your many blessings.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas from North Carolina

Christmas 2010 has come and gone, but it's been a wonderful one! We started our Christmas break with 2 baby showers for Jude, 1 in Shelby and 1 in Asheboro with family and friends. We feel extrememly blessed to see people's love poured out over us as we welcome our first son!

Before Christmas, Justin had to go to Virginia Tech for a few days to finish up some collaboration with researchers there, but it gave some time for me and Jillian to catch up on some girl time during the day and have family time at night with my family. On Christmas Eve, we enjoyed a day full of games and hanging out with family and lots of baking and then we had a great dinner. On Christmas morning, we shared in the family tradition of Daddy reading the Christmas story from Luke 2 and having prayer, then we all opened gifts. Again, we are so blessed. To think of all the many families, especially children who don't have anything to open on Christmas breaks my heart. However, the saddest part is that so many people have no idea of WHY we celebrate Christmas, the birth of our Savior. I think that's one reason why I love giving gifts, because it's a symbol of God's great love for us, His greatest gift.

Justin's parents got us a new camera, which I really love and have been taking lots of pictures with (and I also got a LOFT gift card to use in the spring after Jude is born! Already looking forward to shopping, post baby!) My parents were great "Santa and Mrs. Clause" this year, getting exactly what I asked for with a few surprises. I wanted new black boots and perfume, and they're great. My siblings also showered us with gifts and they all also bought Jude some of his first Christmas presents. At first I thought it was strange, but my Mom made an excellent point; Jude is just as much alive right now growing inside of me as if he were here, and I totally agree with her! Of course...God has given him life since the minute he was conceived, one of our greatest blessings, our son!

I officially cooked brunch for the whole family with sausage, biscuits, eggs, and hashbrowns and Mom topped it off with her amazing home cooked chipped beef gravy!!! YUM! The rest of the day we hung around the house and had a dinner with my extended family. Around 7:30 pm, the snow began to fall and we officially had a white Christmas.

This morning we got to enjoy our 7 inches of snow and we have lots of fun pictures to share when we get home. Tomorrow, after wedding dress shopping with Jillian and Mom, Justin and I will go to Shelby to bring in the new year and spend time with his family. What an amazing Christmas, one of the best!

Merry (late) Christmas from North Carolina!--Pictures to come!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Mary's Attitude

The following excerpt is from a women's devotional blog I use often (see it on my "Friends" section"). This is the devotion for today (written by: Marybeth Whalen) and it really struck my heart and brought about deep conviction. I wanted to share it, especially to my women friends:

“Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart.”Luke 2:51

Not much is known about Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is obvious from the Scriptures that she was a young girl who loved God and was willing to obey Him at all costs. We don’t know how God chose her to be the mother of His Son — we just know He did. Her response to the angel when she finds out about God’s plan for her is our first clue as to why God knew she would be a great mother for Jesus: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said” (Luke 1:38).

Recently, my children and I were reading in Luke where Jesus goes missing as a young teen, and His parents find Him in the temple. After searching for three days! As parents, we panic if we lose track of our child for a few minutes in a store. Can you imagine searching a city for three days for your 13 year-old son?

When they finally found Jesus, He was in the temple and wondered what all the fuss was about. The Scripture says that He told them He was where He should be, in His Father’s house. “But they did not understand what He was saying to them” (Luke 2:50).

As my children and I read this passage, I tried to put myself in Mary’s shoes. Her son had been missing. I am sure she vacillated between trusting God and panicking. And this was how I know that I would not have been a candidate for the Mother of Jesus award: as I tried to picture my reaction to finding Jesus in the temple after searching for three days, I pictured myself joyous and relieved. Then I pictured those feelings giving way to anger and questions.

Okay, so that was before the days of cell phones. He truly had no way to let His parents know where He was. But why didn’t He stay with them in the first place? I got angry for Mary! And then I read the next verse: “But His mother treasured all these things in her heart” (Luke 2:51b).

The last time we saw Mary treasuring an event in her heart was right after her son was born. Once again, things were not going the way I would have wanted. She had given birth in a cold stable in dingy surroundings. Again, I was reminded of how accepting of her circumstances she was, and how her attitude reflected that.

Our verse for today reminds us of a young woman at peace with her circumstances, trusting God no matter how things would work out. Fast forward 13 years later and she is still that kind, gentle woman — no yelling at Jesus, no threats, no yanking Him by the ear when they finally find Him. Instead, the Scriptures tell us that she treasured “all these things.” Would I have been able to treasure that dirty stable? Would I have been able to treasure that seemingly errant teen?

As I pondered these two times where Mary is seen treasuring her circumstances, I began to wonder how often things go wrong in my life and I react instead of reflect. So I’m allowing these two Scriptures to seep into my heart. Is my attitude, “May it be to me as You have said,” or is it, “Okay, God, this is not the way it’s supposed to be and I want You to fix it right away.”
As we go through this season of celebrating Jesus’ coming, I plan to work on my attitude when things don’t go right. I plan to practice accepting God’s plan when it doesn’t match mine. I plan to learn to treasure and ponder instead of whine and complain. I plan to grow in my love and appreciation of Jesus, just as Mary did. I plan to marvel at His coming and revel in His glory. And most of all, this Christmas, I plan to search for Him everywhere, just as she did — and never lose sight of Him again.

Dear Lord, thank You for sending Your Son into this world. As we celebrate His birth, help me to focus on who He is and why He came here. Help me to be the kind of servant to You that Mary was and for my attitude to reflect that each day. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Friday, December 17, 2010

Early Christmas in TN Pictures

Jeff, me, Justin, and Zach after church
Jamen and Cousin Zach

Me and sweet, little Jamen

Daddy and Jamen with Cousin Justin

Jamen with Great Aunt Dee Dee

Because of our crazy holiday schedule visiting family and friends, Justin and I travelled up to Athens, TN the first weekend of December to visit my Mamaw and Mom's side of the family. :) Momma and Zach were able to meet us there as well even though they get to go back after Christmas. :) Though we'll greatly miss our Christmas Even traditions with everyone we still had a great time and we got to meet the newest addition to the Cantrell family, Jamen!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Stormy Weather

We have been doing a study of Jesus in Sunday School and last week, we focused on Jesus being God. We read Mark 4:35-41, the story of how Jesus calms the storm while sailing on the Sea of Galilee. Please take the time to read this short passage. If you've grown up in church at all, you're familiar with the story, but the details we can pull out as adults are so awesome.

First of all, in verse 35, Jesus tells his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side." (meaning the sea) and they all went. They didn't call home to tell everyone where they were going. They didn't need to cancel their own plans or pack a suit case, they just went. They trusted Him and went. Then, as, they're sailing along, a violent storm comes up and Jesus stays asleep. Of course his disciples are flipping out, but he's tired. After they ask him to "Don't you care if we die?" he gets up and with 1 statement "Quiet! Be still" the storm stops. The author of the commentary compares this to a parent with a child, except, Christ has this power over a force of nature.

I wanted to write about this story and what I've learned from it because of the simplicity of holding onto Jesus. Well, I say simplicity, but it really can be a struggle. In "stormy" times of our lives, weather it be loss, heartache, health issues, or immense stress, we so often want to fix things ourselves and not allow God to take control. I am trying to get in the mindset of the disciples in Mark 4:41, "Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey Him!"

When we question the world around us and the issues that are tearing us apart, the same man that commanded the waves to be quiet has that authority in our lives...that is something to be excited about!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Pic Out Takes and a Few Others

If only he would behave...oh how much more difficult it will be with Jude in the mix. :)

Some potential
My Sweet sister who is almost a nurse!!!

Since my current camera is broken and Santa is bringing me another one, I am at the mercy of others to take pictures of me and my family and send them to me. Sweet Jillian took some cute ones while in Shelby but in the midst of finals, finally got them to me. Thanks Jillian! Love you!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Tis So Sweet

There are so many things on my mind right now. I fear that this blog will be a vent/rambling session. Oh well, here it goes:

As Christmas quickly approaches, God has really placed on my heart how richly blessed we are. I hear of people have death and sickness in their families, as well as so many homes that will have little food and gifts this season. As I sit here and type, I sense God asking me to really love on people right now. We should always do this, it's kind of a big deal, but especially right now. Justin has been absolutley amazing the last few weeks as he's been placed under such stress at school/work, but he's really stepped it up at home, in spite of what's going on inside. I can feel Jude moving around like crazy right this second and I am reminded of the precious gift God has given us...our first son.

On days when I feel like complaining or being rude or just frustrated, I have to remember how richly blessed I am. Justin and I both have good jobs, we have a safe home, reliable vehicles, a healthy baby growing inside, a loving and supportive family, I mean, seriously, the list could go on and on, yet I often question Him!?!? "What if this happens?" or "I don't want that." are so quick to come to my mind, but God is asking me to trust Him with the details. To really surrender.

As I was doing a quiet time yesterday, for some reason, the old song "Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus" came to my mind and I've been singing it every since. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in the "little" things of life that I forget that my purpose here is to bring Him glory. I am learning, it really is so sweet to just trust Him.