Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Way too Fast

Not too long ago, I wrote about not wishing away my life, and how I seem to have a bad habit of constantly looking forward to what's ahead, anticipating the next phase in my life rather than fully enjoying the one I'm in.

All of a sudden, however, I find myself aching with the realization of how fast Jayci is growing up. I swear I blinked and she went from a newborn to a baby. She's holding up her head (with only minimal wobbling), smiling, babbling, cooing, imitating noises and expressions . . . Just this past week or so, she shot from barely filling out her newborn clothes to bursting at the seams in her 0-3 month old outfits. Out of nowhere, she stiffens her legs in an effort to stand ALL the time. Once up, she wobbles madly and grins widely at her accomplishment.

As we were visiting our family in Michigan, Adam and I were enjoying changing Jayci into her jammies, getting her ready for bed, and basically acting like idiots in an attempt to get her to smile and babble. Because my aunt, who is an extremely knowledgeable and intelligent physical therapist, informed us that she should be getting 45 minutes of tummy-time every day (45 minutes! Every day! She's lucky to make it five minutes on her tummy before panicking and grunting/farting from the strain of lifting her head, and then wailing loudly) Despite the lack of love for tummy time, we dutifully flipped her cute little self onto her tummy, only to watch her flip herself right back over and then grin up at us with satisfaction and pride.

I mean seriously, it's too much, too soon! How did she grow up so fast? And how in the world do I find that all-important balance between looking ahead and longing for the past? I don't want to miss one minute of the journey of motherhood, and I don't want to fly through any stage without stopping to savor the truths that God wants to teach me through them.

Watching Jayci learn new things and delight in people, in discovery, and in life is teaching me to do the same. To grin at those who catch my eye. To stand on my own, no matter how much I might wobble. To work and work at those tasks I long to accomplish - knowing that despite the pain and anguish, and all the straining, it's totally worth it in that moment - the one when I flip the corner and grin at the world, knowing that I've overcome even the most insurmountable of tasks.

So my prayer (and my resolution) for the new year is that I would find that balance, that I would live fully in the present. That I will enjoy being a mother and a wife, and serving the kids downtown, not looking too anxiously ahead or dwelling too deeply on the past. That I will control my thoughts and focus them above, being sure not to miss one minute of what God has planned for me in 2009.

Monday, December 29, 2008


We just got home from Michigan (where it is Cold! So very Cold!) I have grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins who live in Grand Rapids, and several other relatives who were visiting Michigan at the same time as us. Although the circumstances were sad (we were there to visit my oma and say good bye), it was nevertheless a fun trip overall. I was surprised by how big and grownup my cousins are, and how much fun my family is! (who knew?!) haha
Jayci was (of course) the star of the show, and she traveled like a champ. She slept both ways on the planes, and probably only cried once or twice the ENTIRE trip -- not bad for a three month old right? Of course, all the traveling, holding, feeding at any time, sleeping not at all, and more has wreaked havoc on her schedule and I will need to now be diligent in working on getting her to sleep through the night again (she was doing so well!) and feeding at more normal intervals throughout the day (no more snacking!)

I hope you all also had a very merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

The Eve of Christmas

I sat in church today and watched my sweet baby girl sleep peacefully in my husband's arms as we sang Silent Night. Slowly my heart squeezed with the realization that our Savior and Creator came to earth as a baby. Sweet, beautiful and precious - but also helpless. Mary rocked Him to sleep, changed Him when He was wet or dirty, fed Him and washed Him. What a gift it is to hold my own baby and be offered a small glimpse into the sacrifice and love God showed us on a silent night so long ago.

Having Jayci here this year completely changed Christmas. Not the meaning behind it of course, but my understanding of that meaning. A sweetness and tenderness has sneaked in, even in the midst of the holiday busyness and bustle. This year, I cannot help but delight in the way which our heavenly Father looks on each of us with the same tenderness I bestow on Jayci. He calls me 'daughter' because His true Son came to earth as a tiny, perfect baby who lived a sinless life and died a horrible death - all so that we can experience the forgiveness and love of a perfect heavenly Father.

I am blown away by His goodness and the miracle of that Silent Night. So I pray that THIS silent night over 2000 years later, you might also be touched deeply by the gift our Father sent us in a beautiful, tiny little baby who saves all those who believe in Him.

Merry Christmas from the Stanleys -- we love you all very much!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Why Inner-City Ministry with Kids Isn't for the Faint of Heart

Actual comments made to me this week by kids I work with:

"Are you pregnant again?"

"That shirt makes you look fat"

"You got a big old nose"

"Why do you walk so funny like that?"

"Look at you, trying to wear that skinny belt around your waist" (followed by hysterical laughter)

"You don't look like you sister. She's way prettier than you."

I'm not sure whether these comments are a result of cultural differences, a lack of filter, defense mechanisms, or truth (I mean, I don't have the smallest nose in the world . . .) But they point clearly to the fact that I don't do what I do on my own strength.

I am one of the most insecure people I know - always worried about how I look, what people think etc. The insecurity is probably a result of all the teasing I endured growing up (and still do apparently). But that's another post (or novel) for another day. I am the last person who anyone (including me) would ever expect to work with kids who belittle and blurt out insensitive comments on a daily basis. But the truth? It's not ME who is working with my kiddos -- It's Christ in me. And nowhere is that more apparent than in the fact that I am able to face these comments head on, take them with a grain of salt, and continue to love the kids despite their (and my) shortcomings.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Jayci's First Laugh

Today is my 24th birthday. As it turns out, birthdays really aren't as exciting when you're all grown up. However, I did get the best birthday present ever from my sweet baby girl -- she laughed for the first time (a real, giggly, laugh - not just a grin with a little cooing mixed in!) Even better? I was trying to get her to smile for the camera when she started laughing -- so I was able to capture it!

One of the Many Reasons We Love Mentoring

In the course of spending a lot (LOTS!) of time with all the kids downtown, Adam and I have come to realize that mentoring is really the best way to make a difference in their lives. In fact, together with Metro Kidz, Adam has launched a mentoring program for Vision Atlanta. So far, there are 4 kids being mentored by former counselors.

After church on Sunday, we went out for lunch with one of these mentors (Arielle), the girl she is mentoring (Arnesha), and the girl's two brothers. Arnesha is twelve, but looks at least sixteen. She spends most of her time taking care of her two youngest brothers who are two and three years old. Sitting there watching Arnesha talk to Arielle, grinning and giggling shyly, I was struck by the thought that this mentoring thing really works!

Of course, we DID already know that. Why else would we be leaving a full-time, steady job to cultivate the mentoring program? (oh yeah, have I mentioned that yet?) Adam and I are so passionate about mentoring for so many reasons. We love (LOVE!) camp, but also know that one week every summer is not necessarily enough to create lasting change that can be sustained in an environment that is difficult to say the least. That's why Adam is starting/developing the mentoring program as a follow-up to camp.

For many of these kids, one of the biggest obstacles they face is a decided lack of positive role models. The females they see are usually young, single, unemployed mothers living off welfare. The males they encounter are mostly drug dealers and absent fathers. As a result, these kids don't know any other way to grow up. They can't see the possibilities, they don't recognize their potential. Many times all they need is someone to point out another way of living, and someone who will support them and guide them towards a new destination: one that doesn't involve drugs, violence or welfare.

Adam has been mentoring Saviour (aka Sabo - I've told you about him before). Just a few weeks ago, I was struck by how far he has come since we first met him. You want to know why? Don't worry, I'll tell you . . . but this post is already entirely too long and I'm all 'written out' for today. Hopefully tomorrow fresh eyes and words will make it easier for me to tell the story in a way that doesn't involve entirely too many details and rambling side notes and boring, unnecessary information like this post is starting to have . . .

Monday, December 15, 2008

Come on in and Merry Christmas!

Hello! And welcome to our humble home! I decided to take part in BooMama's Holiday Tour of Homes this year - I hope you enjoy your visit!
Here's our front door -- I just now noticed from the picture that our lights are falling around the window . . . . nice. Just keeping it real here.
When you walk in the door, here's what you see - our little entry table all decked out for the season. And here's our 8.5 foot tree, and our mantel all decorated and festive. Luckily, it only fell once, and that was when there were no ornaments on it - so far so good!
In case you couldn't tell, I like to keep the JOY in our holidays around here :-)This is from forever ago, I got it somewhere at an after-Christmas sale (the best way to shop!)
Adam's grandmother made us these stockings -- they're not my usual style, but I love them for the time she put into them and for their sentimental value :-)

Now, I'd offer you some refreshments - but Adam and I just polished off our huge can of hot chocolate mix, and I'm not much of a cook (ok not at all actually)

However, I do have a FANCY recipe for you (I bring it to every party where I have to bring a dish and everyone loves it) I like to call it "heaven on a chip" (or cheesy corn dip)

Now pay close attention because it's a little tricky:
2 cups shredded Monterrey Jack cheese
2 cups shredded parmesan cheese
2 cans mexicorn
Mix the ingredients with just enough mayonnaise to hold it all together, put it in a casserole dish and pop it in the oven on 350 for 30 minutes -- and voila -- cheesy, corn-y goodness!

And finally, my favorite little addition to our home this year - Jayci, all decked out in her party dress and fancy french hat.

Thanks for coming by! If you haven't yet, head over to BooMama's place and enjoy the holiday decor/fun.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our Halls are Decked

Thanks to my parents, Adam and I were able to get a nice, big REAL tree this year. They gave us their free tree from Berry Patch Farms. So we bundled Jayci up (in a blue fuzzy snowsuit-thing, which caused everyone to exclaim: "He is so cute, what an adorable little boy!" Whatever.)

In an effort to be good stewards, we picked the biggest, most expensive tree they had, which was a whopping 8.5 ft tall and would have cost us $100.

We (and by "we" I mean Adam) dragged the giant tree inside, chopped off the top to make it fit in our house, and stood it up. We left it there so the branches would settle before decorating it (also, because at this point we were too tired from all the dragging to actually put lights on or other such nonsense.)

We managed to put off the decorating all night, and left the tree while we went to church the next morning. When we got back from church, Adam brought Jayci inside while I gathered various and sundry items from the car. When I got inside, I gasped and Adam asked "what?" Apparently, he had somehow failed to notice that our 8.5 foot tree was now laying across our living room floor, broken branches, dropped pine needles, and our entire mantel display, strewn in its wake.

Finally, we were able to get the tree back up, more securely anchored, and decorated - just in time for Christmas. Oh I kid, but seriously - it was a task. But it was so worth it! I just love Christmas and seeing the tree lit up every night, not to mention inhaling its amazing scent, is such a treat.

Friday, December 5, 2008

7 Quick Takes Friday

I decided to join in on Conversion Diary's fun and create my own 7 Quick Takes Friday (because 7 random thoughts are obviously easier to come by than one full one these days . . . )

1. Clearly, jalapenos are from the devil (why else would they make little Jayci scream bloody murder??!) . . . next time someone needs to seriously shoot me before letting me eat one bite containing anything even resembling one of those little monsters! Which is unfortunate, because I do love the spicy Mexican fare.

2. About 3 weeks ago, Adam and I bought a very large can of powdered hot chocolate mix from BJ's. So large, in fact, that big red letters on the label declare it "perfect for offices and day care." It may or may not be 2/3 gone already . . .

3. I'm really looking forward to tomorrow - I love visiting our kids downtown, and then we get to go cut our own Christmas tree (for free! thanks mom and dad!), and then I get to watch the Florida/Alabama game - and I do love me some college football.

4. I seriously LOVE Christmas time: The smells (pumpkin pie, apple cider, Christmas trees - what could be better?!), the music, the movies, the decorations . . . Honestly, I can't think of many things I love more than this time of the year. We've started decorating our house a little already and hopefully we will get the rest of it finished this weekend. I'm much further behind on my Christmas shopping than usual - but I'm chalking that up to being a new mom and how much harder the shopping is with a little one who tends to scream loudly every time I put her in her car seat.

5. Since Jayci's swing is making sounds resembling a dying cat, and it doesn't exactly swing anymore, I'm guessing it needs new batteries. Now this seems entirely impossible considering how recently we put in brand new D batteries (4 of them!) For those of you who don't know, batteries are a little expensive. However, the expense is well worth a few minutes of peace while Jayci enjoys the soothing nature sounds and spinning creatures. But considering the number of batteries her swing eats up, Adam and I have decided that the baby swing makers are clearly in cahoots with the battery companies. Why else would a large, stationary object be battery operated rather than plugged in?! (I mean, other than safety issues or other such nonsense)

6. Adam and I have some pretty exciting, rather large changes coming soon in our life (and no we're not pregnant again -- that wouldn't be exciting at this moment)I don't really want to say a lot about it yet, but I'd love your prayers and support as we step out in faith and follow the Lord's leading in our lives.

7. This is seriously the creepiest toy ever made. . . Why would anyone ever think this was a good idea? (I mean, I know I have a bird phobia - but does anyone NOT think this is creepy?) It actually kind of makes me shudder just looking at it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

So much to be thankful for

This year, even more than ever before, I am overwhelmed by the realization of just how much I have to be thankful for. Adam, Jayci and I enjoyed Thanksgiving with my parents (and my oma was visiting too) this year. They were kind enough to invite three of the kids that they sponsor from downtown to join us for our meal. Adam and I drove down to the projects to pick them up that morning - it was sad to realize how few of these kids had a thanksgiving meal (something I've always just taken for granted). Anyways, having some of our kiddos from downtown join us for our meal only amplified my realization of how much I have to be thankful for.

So here, in no particular order, are just a few of the things I'm thankful for today:

I'm thankful for my husband, who is an amazing dad (even better than I thought he'd be!) and an even better friend.

I'm thankful for my family, for how they support what we're doing downtown and are behind us 100% as the Lord leads us, even when it's to some uncertain and scary places.

I'm thankful for parents (on both sides) who love watching Jayci, even when she screams, poops and spits up all over them

I'm thankful for friends who have babies and can answer all my stupid questions like "how do you get it to stop crying?"

I'm thankful for DVR - a lifesaver when I'm stuck feeding Jayci at all hours of the day and night

I'm thankful that Jayci is healthy and growing so well (10 lbs!)

I'm thankful for online shopping, because Jayci will not let me put her in the car seat to drive to the mall or any other shopping center . . .

I'm thankful for the kids downtown and how much they teach me - about myself, about Jesus and about justice

I'm thankful for the home I grew up in, and that I wasn't born into the poverty, violence and lack of opportunity that the kids downtown have to face.

I'm thankful for my small group - such amazing friends!

I'm thankful for Mexican food (yum!) and El Jinete in particular, especially on Thursday nights with Sarah!

I'm thankful for breakfast with Danielle

I'm thankful for Christmas (for obvious reasons such as Jesus' birth, as well as other reasons like decorations, hot chocolate, the smell of Christmas tree, Christmas music and movies etc etc)

I'm thankful for friends like Gini and Jennifer who will scrapbook with me even when I look like a dork because of my big suitcase

I'm thankful for Vision Atlanta and Metro Kidz and the way these ministries not only transform the lives of kids in the inner city, but also have transformed our lives

I'm thankful that we have a beautiful house and two cars and two crazy dogs (although usually I'm more thankful for Maverick than Charli)

I'm thankful for my sisters who are two of my very best friends, even though I wasn't always very nice to them

But most of all, I'm thankful for a Savior who loves me regardless of how much of a mess I am, who teaches me new things about love and forgiveness daily and who has blessed me with a life that is abundantly more than anything I could have asked for or imagined!

Friday, November 21, 2008

5 Things I Want Jayci to Know

1-Who she is in Christ: Being that my insecurities and awareness of all my shortcomings are some of the biggest struggles I face on a daily basis, I want Jayci to always remember the truth about who she is in Christ. That the cliche is true: inner beauty really is far more important than outer beauty. "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment. . . Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight" (1 Peter 3:3-4).
2-There are way more important things than being "cool": I spent far too much of my life chasing after popularity, or what I thought was cool. But the truth is that there are lots of "cool" kids who are real jerks. It's so much more important to stand up for what is right and make the right decisions, regardless of what the cool/popular kids think about you.
3-People who make fun of you are just jealous or insecure: Having had my fair share of mean words/cruel jokes directed towards me, I've finally realized this truth. Everyone has their own insecurities, which some people try to cover up by putting down others. So love those who persecute or tease you, and remember that what other people say doesn't change who you are.
4-You are responsible for your own choices - I know it's tempting to blame your teacher when you fail, or a friend when things go wrong, or me (and I'm sure I'll make my share of mistakes). But the truth is that you alone are finally responsible for who you are and what you do.
5-Jesus loves you! I know it sounds obvious and childish, but the truth is that if you know this deep down inside, you will never lack for anything. The knowledge of how loved you are by your Creator will make you a secure person, will ground your life in a relationship with Him and will free you up to be who He created you to be.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Writer's Block

Ok so I have absolutely nothing to write about. Apparently, my life is pretty boring right now . . . In fact, I've spent the last 45 minutes or so, staring at Jayci and making big smiles to try and get her to smile - my cheeks hurt, but I'm not very exciting!

Now that Jayci has been here for 2 months (whoa! can you believe she's already 2 months old?!) I feel like she's been a part of our lives forever; yet, strangely, I also feel like it was seriously yesterday that we were watching House in the hospital lobby waiting for a room to deliver her in.
Speaking of her being 2 months old, the two month old check-up is brutal by the way. They made me hold down my sweet little girl so they could stick her with needles -- I'll tell you what, she was looking at me and grinning and cooing when all of a sudden she got this shocked and betrayed look on her face and started wailing. As tears welled in my own eyes, I wanted to point at the nurse and shout "it was her! she did it! not me!" but since the nurse might have considered that response a little, well, juvenile - I opted to hold Jayci close and try and calm her down instead (a task which, by the way, took almost 2 full days to accomplish completely).

More updates from the doctor (thrilling I know, but like I said - I'm a little boring right now) Jayci weighs 9 lbs 14oz and is 22 inches long -- she's in the 30th percentile for all her measurements("perfectly proportioned" the doctor said - which I already knew of course).

In other (really exciting) news, I added some more decor to my house (courtesy of Altmix Photography)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Jayci's Guide to Style

There are so many reasons I love Fridays, not the least being that I can watch my recorded "Tim Gunn's Guide to Style" (although I shudder to think what he would say if he saw my closet). This week, he says you should throw away any clothing with a stain on it . . . if I did that, I would have exactly one shirt left - and that's only cause I haven't worn it yet!

Tim has a list of 10 Essential items which should be in every woman's closet - so I thought I'd comprise a little list of my own:

Jayci's 10 essential items (which no self-respecting baby girl should be without)

1-Fabulous footwear (notice the boots with the fur)
2-Pajamas with footies
3-Hair accessories (bows, bows and more bows)
4-Baggy tights (because 0-9 months is an appropriate age range for ONE size)
5-Onesies in girly colors with cute sayings on them (like "Daddy's girl" or "I like kisses")
6-Polka dots, polka dots, polka dots
7-Anything pink and brown
8-Pants with ruffles on the butt (it just adds a little somethin' somethin')
9-Bloomers to match my dresses (because showing your diaper? that's just tacky)
10-Anything velour (Jenny from the Block anyone?)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

In the wee hours of the morning

A few days ago a dear friend and mentor reminded me to treasure the time late at night (or early in the morning) putting Jayci back to sleep. I, naturally, dismissed her as crazy. At about 4am this morning, however, it suddenly hit me: an overwhelming sense of gratitude and joy in being awake with my daughter. Soft, warm light poured gently through the doorway and from her nightlight. Her humidifier blew soothing white noise, but other than that, we were engulfed in delicious silence. Sitting and rocking gently in her cozy rocking chair, with her little warmth snuggled next to me, I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the gift of my daughter. Not only her, but this special time we get together, just me and her, where no words are necessary, no wisdom is needed - I just get to be a mom. And the truth is, in the grand scheme of things, the times I will have like this with her won't last long. So from this moment on, I intend to treasure them!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Science Fair Fun

I feel like I need to preface this post by telling you that I have been trying to write it for days and my thoughts just keep going around and around . . . My heart has been burdened and I can't seem to get my feelings down in words. So my apologies beforehand if things wander or don't make much sense!

Anyways, because nothing is better than doing school work when its completely unnecessary, Adam and I agreed to help two of our boys from downtown (Zack and Sabo) with their science fair projects. We didn't quite know what we were getting ourselves into - in other words, we had no idea how unprepared and ill-equipped these poor boys actually were to create a science fair project. Both boys failed science last year (but it 'don't matter' because they just keep moving up in grades anyways . . . science doesn't count). Without our help, I'm almost positive they just wouldn't have done it.

Our time spent helping them was interesting and eye-opening. Although we visit them at home every Saturday and see them a few more times throughout the week, this was the first time we had spent any amount of time in their homes. When we got downtown with supplies and ready to work on a very large project due in two days, Zack's mom wasn't sure where Zack was -- outside somewhere? Once we finally got him inside and started to work on the project, Zack's mom joined us and actually seemed quite into the experiment (which paper towel was most absorbent), despite the fact that she had no idea what the scientific method was, or what hypothesis meant, or even what his problem was, or his conclusion should be . . . The good news is that we were able to empower her to help Zack finish his project, and I left feeling completely certain that she would make sure he turned it in (because now SHE was invested in the project herself).

At Sabo's house, we went upstairs to help him put together his poster board (since he had already done the experiment) Sabo's grandmother cannot leave her spot on the couch, so she cant help him. Sabo and his brother Sincere share a room which consists of bare, dingy off-white walls, two twin beds with bare matresses (no sheets) which were stained, lumpy and all-together unappetizing as a place to sleep (which is probably why 8 year old Sincere usually sleeps on the couch in front of the tv). Seeing how this eleven year old boy lives helped me understand why he seems completely depressed every time we are at his house or in his neighborhood, but is a laughing, funny, normal boy when we're at our house or church or anywhere else.

This understanding helped me come to an important realization about why these boys fail. (Well that's not super-accurate, because there are LOTS of reasons they fail) but one important reason is that it is so much safer to NOT TRY than to try and fail anyways. Because how are these boys supposed to do a science project that has to be typed when they have no computers? or parents who know what "hypothesis" means? or parents who can get out of bed for that matter . . . (As a side note - why would they give inner-city kids a project that requires typing and "dressing up" for the presentation??)

I dont even know what my point is, except that these boys are precious children of God. They deserve to be loved and cared for as much as we do, as much as Jayci does. But just because of where Jayci was born, she is going to be given so many more opportunities and chances for success. Because of where these boys are born, they face obstacles that often seem too big to surmount -- but I guess that's why the Lord tells us to take care of "the least of these." By loving them and helping them, I see Jesus and feel Jesus and am filled with a joy that comes from knowing that He loves his children all deeply regardless of their circumstances.

Monday, November 3, 2008

A Gift of Epic Proportions

So little Jayci has a cold. And let me just tell you, it's about as miserable for me as it is for her. Every sniffle and cough, my heart just breaks for that tiny little body to be experiencing such misery. I was also completely unable to resist her charms, and continued to cuddle and kiss her throughout her bout with the cold. The result? I too have a nice runny nose, itchy throat and lovely cough(not to mention a killer sinus headache because I tend to forget to blow my nose, and instead I sniff it all farther up into my nose and sinus cavities - yum).

Honestly, there are lots of things about being a mom that were a lot, well, harder, than I thought they would be. Her being sick and miserable (aka - fussy, very fussy and crying and constantly wanting to eat but being unable to breath, freaking out in frustration and thus growing desperately hungry again in an hour or so), combined with me being sick and miserable has made for a difficult week.

But the truth is that a difficult week is nothing compared to the amazing gift that Jayci is in my life. Through her, I've been given a small look at how BIG God's love is for His children. Before having kids of your own, it's nearly impossible to understand the depth and type of love that a parent has for their children. Through her, I've been offered a glimpse at a whole new aspect of my husband, and I've fallen in love with him all over again (nothing melts my heart like seeing him be a daddy to our sweet little girl). Through her, I've already learned so much about myself as a woman, as a mother and as a person. Through her, I've had to grow in my faith and trust in and dependence on the Lord - I absolutely cannot do this without His guidance and leading. There are so many ways that Jayci is an amazing gift in my life and I cannot wait to see what else the Lord has in store for us through her!

Friday, October 31, 2008

The Cutest Little Giraffe

Jayci was a giraffe this year for her very first Halloween. Although she wasnt too impressed with all the festivities - she sure was cute!

Monday, October 27, 2008

Living in the Now

"Even seemingly meaningless activities are used by God as tool to guide us toward His plans. Never think your circumstances are disconnected from God's leading and His will. Don't spend your time wishing you could get out of the season of life you are in; rather, spend your time looking fervently at God's hand in your situation."

Isn't it so easy to just wish your life away? I mean, while I was pregnant I couldn't wait for Jayci to get here; when she was born, I couldn't wait to take her home from the hospital; then I couldn't wait for her to start smiling, cooing, babbling etc . . . but I could keep going on and on wishing for the next milestone until before you know it, she's leaving for college! I don't want to wake up one day and realize how much I've missed.

I know that God has me right where He has me for a purpose. He is teaching me something while I stay at home with my little Jayci, getting her to smile and listening to her babble. So today I pray that I will notice His hand in it, see the miracle He has performed in giving us Jayci and be thankful for every moment!

Little Miss Personality (aka Like Father Like Daughter)

Little Miss Jayci is starting to show her personality :-) I love it! It's been so fun to watch her grow so fast already. I can hardly believe she's already almost 6 weeks old - it seriously seems like yesterday that we were waiting for our hospital room. I'm going to get a little teary actually remembering that day. It was the best moment of my life (so far) when they handed me my beautiful little bundle, and my husband squeezed my hand and tears ran down both of our cheeks (dont tell Adam I told you that though . . .)

After 9 months of nourishing her inside of me, its a string of miracles and milestones now that she's outside of me! I love watching her grow and discover the world around her. Just a few days ago she looked into my eyes and grinned for the first time - and I'll tell you what, I absolutely melted!

My kids downtown tell me that I am going to let Jayci do whatever she wants. They say that I'm a softie . . . and I think they're right - One look at this little face and I'm a goner!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Stanleys by Altmix Photography . . .

So a few weeks ago, when little Jayci was just 12 days old, our sweet friend Kate (of Altmix photography)came and took family pictures for us. Even though she is not a "newborn" photographer, you would never guess that by looking at the amazing pictures she took of our little one! I love every single picture and dont even know how to pick just a few to share with you! That said, here's a couple - I'm sure I'll share more later (and if you have facebook, you can see most of them here)

Monday, October 20, 2008

Camp Grace Fall Festival

This weekend we braved driving two hours to the new land for Camp Grace's Fall Festival - Jayci did great on the way down and while we were there, but literally cried (screamed really) the entire ride home - it was very stressful!

Overall, however, it was a great day with church and then the festival - It was really good to see the land God has provided for camp, and where we will be spending our summer. I'm so excited about the vision for the land (check out that vision here) (By the way, anyone who wants to help make that vision a reality can donate to Vision Atlanta on their website).

It was also really wonderful to see some of the kiddos from camp this past summer (and have them hold our little kiddo!) What a blessing it is to watch these kids live in transformed ways (despite their environment) as a result of decisions they make at camp. I am blown away at how powerfully God continues to move through the work we do at camp - there's nothing I love more than seeing Him in His children!

One of the things I'm trying to commit to is being better about sharing our life and needs with those around us. God designed us for community for a reason! That said, there are several ways you can be lifting us up in prayer right now:
-That we will be wise and effective parents to Jayci - full of patience and love.
-For Vision Atlanta's fundraising efforts - it would be really great to have a building this summer so we dont have to live with a 7 month old in a tiny room!
-For guidance for us career-wise and ministry-wise . . . there may be some changes in our future - pray for guidance and wisdom in making decisions.

We really appreciate all your prayers and love our friends and family so much!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Infatuated :-)

Adam says I'm infatuated and I think he's right!

But it's a good thing I am or it would be a lot harder to deal with all the crying and fussing and eating and pooping . . .

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Rosa Lee

I just finished reading a fascinating (and heartbreaking) book called 'Rosa Lee.' The book is about the life of Rosa, a mother of 8 (she had her first at 14 years old) and grandmother to more than 30. Rosa lives in the housing projects of Washington, DC. She has always lived in poverty and is a heroin addict, prostitute, chronic shoplifter and drug dealer. Of her 8 kids, 6 of them followed her into a lifestyle of drugs, violence, and poverty.

I was heartbroken to read about how she helped her kids shoot heroin, turned tricks while her daughter slept in the bed next to her, and used her children and grandchildren to help her both shoplift and run drugs. Even her adult children live with her, bum money off her to buy drugs and refuse to take responsibility for their actions. Reading about the conditions they live in (plagued by fear, filled with mistakes and violence) I am both angry and broken. Yes, Rosa's children are living lifestyles that are just wrong and yes, I am angry at the fact that they are doing the same things to their children that their mom did to them (in fact, many of Rosa's grandchildren are also addicts, in prison or dealing drugs etc). My anger, however, is tempered by the realization that neither Rosa nor her children know anything different. No one has shown them another way to live, and how can they be expected to make choices differently than their mother, and everyone else they see and experience in their environment?

That said, 2 of Rosa's children DID make it out of the projects, and live within the bounds of "normal" society, with good jobs and without dependence on drugs, welfare or their mother. So what happened - how did these two make it out unscathed? The book's author asked the two children the same question - and it turns out that both of them had one person outside of their family who took a vested interest in their lives and success. For one of them, that person was a teacher who taught him how to read, and for the other it was a social worker who drove him to tutoring and just was there for him when he needed someone. Both of these people were able to demonstrate to Rosa's children that there was another way to live, that drugs and violence were not the only option.

My heart literally broke as I was reading this book, both for these kids and for the possibility that MY kids (ok i use "my" loosely here) might be living in these same circumstances. This possibility makes me want to rescue them, to take them into my home where I can love them and feed and clothe them properly, teaching them responsibility so they dont fall into the many traps that surround them in their environment. All I can do though, is pray for them, and hope that maybe Adam and I can be those people who offer these kids a new perspective, new options and a way out.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Two Hours at a Time Just Isn't Enough

Coherent thoughts apparently dont come easily when I'm sleeping a maximum of two hour stretches. . . Last night I was just plain confused all night long. I never was quite sure if I was awake or asleep, feeding Jayci or dreaming about feeding Jayci, hearing Jayci cry or dreaming about her crying . . . I dragged Adam into my confusion as well when I asked him "when did you go get Jayci?" As he responded with a sleepy and also confused "I dont think I did" . . . i looked down to realize I was, in fact, not holding Jayci. Strange the tricks your mind can play when you're constantly in the state between sleep and wake.

Anyways, all that to warn you that you shouldn't expect too much from this post. But I've been thinking a lot about motherhood, and the fact that little Jayci is actually my daughter - it almost doesnt seem real! The thing is, I have this personality that tends to worry . . . a lot. I stress over the fact that maybe if I pick her up too soon when she cries, she might never be able to put herself to sleep, or she might ALWAYS need me to pick her up when she cries. Or what if I feed her every time she acts hungry rather than on a schedule - Won't she turn into a horribly spoiled brat? What if I hold her too much, or too little? Yikes!

But then we were reading the story of Noah from Jayci's fantastic children's Bible (yes we already read her bedtime stories - what? I like reading) I was struck by the faith of Noah and his trust in the Lord even when he had no idea what he was doing or what God was doing really . . . I realized that I need to relax and have a little faith in the Lord - both in how He is looking after Jayci, and how he is equipping Adam and I as parents. Of course, there's no guarantee that I won't forget this important truth tomorrow when she wont stop crying, or when she gets sick; but for right now, I am resting in the truth of His goodness and care!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Jayci Madison Stanley

Jayci made her arrival today! She was born at 2:32 pm, 6 lbs 12ozs and 19.5 inches (For all our Canadian friends and family, that is 3.03kg and 49.5cm long),

Labor and delivery went smoothly and both mama and baby are doing well :-) We think she's just absolutely beautiful, but then we might be a little biased!
We've uploaded lots of pictures for you to enjoy right here and dont worry, I'm a picture fiend so I'm sure there will be more on the way!


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