Sunday, August 30, 2015

Obligation vs. Opportunity

Today in our small groups at church we talked about obligations.  How do we define an obligation? What are our obligations? How do we feel about our obligations and what keeps us from fulfilling all of our obligations?  Yes, there was lots of talk about obligations and as a whole we all agreed that the word "obligation" has a negative connotation.  It's something we have to do or we feel like we have to do whether we like it or not.  Of course we had some fun with it and laughed a good bit at the things the guy groups and the girl groups came up with, but in the end it came down to our attitude and the way in which we choose to view things.  

When we only give God bits and pieces of our life and still try and cling to/control the other areas then those things begin to weigh us down.  Those things start to feel like tasks or jobs or...wait for it...obligations.  However, when we give it all to God...our family, our work, our finances, our extracurricular activities, etc then we can begin to see our obligations differently.

I have a real life example, I am living it actually.  Now please don't hear what I'm not saying, I don't live it perfectly.  I am no more here to judge you than I want to be judged myself.  I wake up every morning to a day that can be viewed as an obligation or as an opportunity just like you do.

Eight almost nine years ago when our little girl was born the world told us it was a tragedy and that taking care of her would be a burden to our family.  We had a choice then just as we do now, are we going to walk through this thing with God or without God.  Everything you go about doing throughout your day we have to do for Sophie Kate. We have to care for her in every way you can think of and in lots of ways you can't.  Yes, there have been many many days that I approached her and all the things I had to do for her as an obligation.  However, over the years God has been more patient with me than I deserve and He has shown me through her sweet spirit that she is not a burden as the father of lies would have me believe.

She gives me far more than I could ever give or do for her. She gives me the opportunity to be a better person by loving her.  She gives me the opportunity to be selfless by putting someone else's needs above my own.  When I look at her and love her as God looks at her and loves her, not that I can be equal with God or do exactly as God does but I can follow the example Christ has set, then she is not a burden or an obligation.  In fact, it becomes my pleasure and my privilege to care for her.  It is in these moments when my obligations, my gifts, and all the demands of life are given over to God that I can see the things that really matter and it isn't the things we are bombarded with every day.  It is in these moments that God reveals His priorities and contrary to what I may think or want it has nothing to do with outward appearances or what my house looks like or what kind of car I drive.

I can see what I once viewed as my obligations as opportunities when I see them as God sees them. 

Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable-if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things."

Monday, July 6, 2015

But God...

I had to let go of the dream of seeing Sophie Kate come down the aisle a long time ago.  I had to mourn the loss of her in a beautiful dress and all things wedding. And while it is not something I think about every day, it is something that creeps back into my mind, my thoughts and my dreams from time to time...and each time I have to let go of it again.  As far as I was concerned, I had to come to terms with the fact that it would never happen. That's how I dealt with it...just let it go, it will never happen.

But God...

I love when stories begin that way because something really special is about happen, something that is unexpected, unforeseen and truly lovely.  

God brought families together and formed relationships that have grown over many years.  Through that friendship and through that connection God brought about the unexpected.


Our sweet girl as the flower girl in Callie and Conley's wedding...
We did it all from the Bridal Tea, to the Bridesmaids Brunch...
 to the Rehearsal, to the Rehearsal dinner...
to the Wedding itself.  For all things wedding our girl was front and center, ahem, I mean after the Bride and Groom, of course.


Hanging out in the Bride's room...
 Getting her hair done...
Ready for the big day with her best guy by her side...
Yes, Grey was in the wedding too.  He pushed her down the aisle and yes it was almost more than my heart could hold.

I got to see my girl come down the aisle...a dream that I believed died the day she was born.  God is in the details of our lives!! Someone needs to hear that today.  He cares about our hurts and our hearts.  

It was a perfectly lovely day.  

Psalm 27:13-14 "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

What we have been up to

I have been so neglectful of the of the blog lately.  I guess I just needed some time away from it.  I mainly keep it for a scrapbook for our family and now that I am off facebook I do not dare assume there are any readers left other than the occaisonial grandparent.  I am defintely going to finish our Give Kids the World trip, but I wanted to catch y'all up on what we have been up to.  

When we found ourselves at the being of February, I knew we would be so busy and the time would just fly between those days and the end of school...and it did.  We had our Give Kids the World trip in February, we went "camping" with friends for Spring Break at the end of March and then we had our annual family trip to Smith Lake a bit early this year the week of Memorial Day.

I knew that three trips in four months would not be easy with our girl, but Chad and I want her to have every experience she possibly can and we all want to do those things with her and with each other. With February and the coming months laying out before me, some of my thoughts tried to convince me that it would just be easier to stay home...those thoughts are right, you know.  It would be easier to stay home, in our environment, in her enviornment.  It would be easier to stay home where all of her equipment is easy to get to and we have her chair and her bed and all her stuff.  

Traveling with Sophie Kate is hard work, but the experiences with the people we love are so worth it.
Smith Lake 2015

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Hollywood Studios

Day 5 we found ourselves back on Disney property at Hollywood Studios.  First up on the agenda was going to see the Frozen show.  I had been looking forward to this all week and it did not disappoint.
Front row seats again, Disney takes care of their special needs families.

Sweet Minnie, she is always so darling with our girl.

It was very cold at Hollywood Studios that day, can you tell?  We were well prepared and happy to be there, because as cold as it was there in Florida that day, we knew it was much colder back home.


Our Disney girl, loving being at the happiest place on earth.
Our Sophia meeting Sophia the First.



Looking back at these pictures brings tears to my eyes. We waited for this trip for so long.  These are some of the sweetest memories now of a trip that was more than we could have ever dreamed or imagined.  
Our last day is coming up next and you won't believe what all we squeezed into one day...or you just might if you know how crazy we are about Disney.   

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Seaworld Orlando

On day four of our Give Kids the World/Magic Moments trip we went to Seaworld.  
This was the first trip to Seaworld for all of the kids.  It was one of our most fun days and as you can see even though we had on long sleeves, it was a beautiful day.
I could spend hours at the dolphin nursery.  This guy popped up to say "Hi."  Doesn't it look like he is smiling for the camera?


The Shamu Show was amazing and the GKTW families had priority seating.  We were one row up from the splash zone, front and center.  

 Shamu Stadium
 Sophie Kate feeding the Sea Lions... 
Her face is fantastic!
Please note the second to the last row...that's all of our guys riding the Manta...SK and I opted out of that one.

 The Dolphin show was very cool.
 The Empire of the Penguin
I really enjoyed watching the penguins but it was really cold in their home.
Grey was being silly in every one of these pictures so I had to just choose one.
Seaworld was a huge hit with our group.  I think they liked the combination of shows and thrill rides.  We had a wonderful day there.

Next up we are back on Disney property at Hollywood Studios.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Back at Universal

Day three we were back at Universal Studios.  While the boys rode their coasters, Sophie Kate and I made our way through some shows and characters.




I'm just going to tell y'all that there wasn't much SK could ride at Universal, but she did get to go on the Minion Mayhem ride and it was super cute.  We also put her on a "baby" roller coaster that they almost made us get off of, but they didn't but those were the only two she was able to ride besides the carousel.  At the age of 7, SK has been on more than her fair share of carousels...she's kind of over it. She wants to ride rides and unfortunately Universal is not the place for her to do that.  The boys had a ball and y'all know that our girl had a smile on her face the whole time.





Of course we had to make another trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter while we were there again, but I will spare y'all any more pictures from there.  Rest assured we went on all the rides again and took in every corner of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley...that was good times!

Next up is Seaworld Orlando...if you ask the boys what their favorite park was they will all three answer Seaworld. How could it not the be perfect day every day with mornings like this...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Magic Kingdom

Day two, we woke up and headed to mine and Sophie Kate's favorite place...Disney's Magic Kingdom.  Our first order of buisness was going to see Anna and Elsa.



While the boys were riding roller coasters, Sophie Kate and I went to see Rapunzel and Cinderella...
 I love all the conversations they have together.



 Sophie Kate's face in these pictures with Cinderella is priceless.



This wasn't even close to what all we did in the Magic Kingdom that day.  With the special pass (the Genie pass) they gave us (you can see it on Jacob in the picture below), we went around the Magic Kingdom seeing all of our favorites...





 Princess Belle with our Princess Belle...







 Sweet Minnie, SK smiled so big for her...



And along the way we rode all the rides too, many of them multiple times.  Sophie Kate rode the Teacups, Buzz Lightyear, Pirates of the Carribbean, Dumbo and the Haunted Mansion.  Part of the reason I love Disney so much is that they let our girl ride anything she wants to ride.  
There was plenty of time along the way for ice cream and funnel cakes too.  We had to pace ourselves because the Magic Kingdom was open from 8am-1am that day.


One of the neatest things that happened that day was that we were pulled out of a 45 minute wait at Be Our Guest Restuarant.  We had just walked up to the back of the line and had asked how long the wait was, when one of the Disney cast members saw our pass and told us to follow them.  She took us straight to the counter to order and then took us to a seat.  That, I have to say, was quite lovely because we really wanted to eat there but didn't want to wait that long...that to me was Disney at it's best.
Sophie Kate was in her Princess Belle dress that day too, so it could not have worked out any more perfectly...of course it did, we were at Disney.


We saw many of these characters after the sun went down. We love late night at Disney.  One of my favorite things at Magic Kingdom at night is the Electrical Parade.  We caught the later of the two parade times that night, so we found ourselves sitting and watching the Electrical Parade at 11:00pm.  The perfect ending to a magical day.