Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Why I Can't Get Over Christmas

OK.  Let's just take a minute to wash away all of the crapola that's infiltrated our lives this week.  Real, heartbreaking life moments like a hospital telling you your grandma was going to die (true story) all the way down to all the Duck Dynasty junk, let it wash away. Because today is Christmas. And I just can't get over it. I cry at almost every hymn, every carol, every song declaring that baby Jesus is here.

I just can't get over it. Over the love story between Mary and Joseph.  How their love grew out of God's plan for a Savior.  Mary, just a teenager, finds herself pregnant and chooses to simply worship God in that moment.  Have you read that lately? Go back it the Bible and find it. Her wisdom was beyond her years.   And Joseph.  I'm sure he was not prepared for what was going to happen when he became betrothed to little ol' Mary next door.  He had every reason to not believe her, but chose to shield and protect her from accusations and fierce words and led her through the harsh conditions all the way to a stable in Bethlehem.

When I think of the magi I immediately think of the hymn "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus."  And I imagine their discussions while traveling.  Their giddiness must have been infectious. Or people thought they were crazy. Probably both. All the prophecy they had poured their lives into rode on this one star.  How full of faith they must have been.  I can imagine God's heart being so happy watching their journey to worship Jesus.

The shepherds.  Let's just skip the CHOIR OF ANGELS in the field, which awesomeness has no bounds, for a second.  (And yes, I do imagine a huge choir singing praise music with hands raises and lots of clapping and dancing and jumping.) The shepherds were the first visitors to see Jesus.  And I know that this isn't in the Bible, but I imagine them worshipping Jesus and Mary asking, "Would you like to hold him?"  I imagine burly men with beards and young soft-skinned shepherds weeping while holding Jesus, shushing him when he starts to whimper; his little hands wrapping around their rough fingers.

I can't even begin to think about Mary looking into His eyes after He was born.  Singing him the lullabies she'd heard her mama sing hundreds of times. Calming a baby that would calm her heart many times over.  I'm sure the mundane things of motherhood took on new meaning when you're mothering the Messiah.  Get his bottom extra clean? Check.  Lotion him until he smells heavenly, but not until he's slippery? Check.  And let's not forget that she was doing this as a teenager without her family around to give her advice or hold the baby while she took a shower.

Joseph holds a special place in my heart.  A daddy's job is vast.  First he must learn to become a super swaddler.  Obviously he had that down because it was mentioned in Scripture.  Teaching Jesus how to fix things around the house and how to be a gentlemen must have been such a privilege and an honor to Joseph. And I've seen the look in a daddy's eyes when their baby gazes up at them.  I can just see Joseph's eyes welling up with tears as Jesus settled in his arms for a bit. I can see Joseph silently smile at his wife when Jesus made those little baby noises while he slept. How he jumped at every little move Jesus made during those first few nights.

Do you think they knew all the prophecies when the angels came to them?  Or do you think they immediately went and read them all?  I can see their heartbroken faces when they realized the baby they just felt kick in the womb would be brutally murdered before them, but that he was also the Redeemer of a broken people. Young parents that had equal parts joy and horror before them.

I wonder how God felt that night?  It's hard for me to put myself in God's shoes, but as a parent, I think it had to be bittersweet.  I think back to Abraham and Isaac and I know God was just wishing someone would come out of the bushes and say, "WAIT! There's another way!"  But He knew this was it.  At the same moment Mary was filled with the most joy she'd ever experienced, God must have been looking down, with tears streaming down his face- his beloved Son was the Hope of his people.

So I'll always cry when I hear "O Holy Night." My voice will shake while reading the story to my children as tears stream down my face. Because God's mercy was shown to me that night in Bethlehem. And it is something I will never get over. I don't want to.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Resolution Check-December

Here's the LAST RESOLUTION CHECK of 2013.  Overall, I'm happy with what I did this year.  I think I worked hard to be a better version of myself.  

1- More thankful- I am so happy that I made this a focus. I'm incredibly thankful for how its changed my life for the better.  Still work to do, but progress makes the hard work easier.

2- Healthier- Since this time last year (or should I say October of 2012), I've lost 50 pounds, at least. I've started jogging.  When I started I couldn't jog for more than 3 minutes at a time.  Now, I can jog 3 miles at a time.  I'm sure more, but that's as far as I've gone so far.  This is HUGE for me.  I told my best friend, I would never do a 5K race and now I'm eating those words. (Like I've signed up for a real one. Save me, Jesus.  Save me, Tom Cruise!)

3- More Organized- Classroom- yes.  Brain- yes. House- I'm not sure that's a success.  I think 2014 will see alot of things leave our house that don't matter.  I'm sick of having stuff that doesn't mean a thing for the sake of having stuff.

4- More Adventurous- NOPE.  OK, y'all.  I'm gonna be honest about this with all 3 of you that read this.  I tried.  Lord knows, I tried.  And the fact of the matter is this- even when I was REALLY TRYING, I still got called boring, old fashioned, and a goody-goody.  So I'm learning to be cool with being me.  (Yes, I'm almost 33 and I still want to fit in. Kill me, please, and put me out of this stupidity.)

5- Spending Less- YES.

6- Study Bible- I feel like I have pressed into my relationship with Jesus more this year.  I feel like He and I are walking closer.  I have plans for 2014. 

7- Knitting- NOPE. Who has time for this horse crap?!?! Not me! 

8- Improving at guitar- not really. 

9- Driving a Standard- YES!!!

Somewhere in there I lost going to Beaver's Bend. We did that too.  

Other things that happened in 2013 that I'm overwhelmed with joy over:
- Bub turned one!  He is everything our family was missing.  He started walking, eating more than Faith, and occasionally saying mama instead of grunting like a caveman.
- Sis started Pre-K.  God bless her teachers.  Those ladies have seen the amazingness of Faith when I was so worried all they would see was the sass and attitude and have had nothing but encouraging things to say about her.  I will forever be grateful to them for giving my baby such a wonderful first public school experience.
- We started going to a new church.  God called us to put our roots back in Noble and find a church that was serving that community.  He moved us from Normcom to a fantastic church in Noble.  I see our pastors hearts for our community and the people of our church.  I love that they love on our kids and that TJ feels comfortable there.  God's good.
- I got a completely different haircut and I love it.  I have to fix it everyday which is totally weird for me, but I love it!
- We celebrated 11 years of marriage. I love my husband.  I love how we protect our marriage at all costs.  Plus, he's hot, a wonderful daddy, and splits house chores 50/50. I'm a lucky lady, what can I say?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Old Habits Die Hard

The four of us at the Aragonlife are known for many things:

1. Being hard workers.  We require it from everyone.  And get REALLY frustrated when people around us don't share that belief  We have a saying- "Work isn't called fun for a reason.  It's called work.  If you have fun the process, you're lucky.  But it's not a requirement."  We love our jobs, don't get me wrong, but they're hard work.

2.  Being on time/annoyingly early.  TJ's saying- "I will not go if I'm going to be late."  And he's not joking.  We've been known to get places 30 minutes early just to drive around for 25 minutes.  It's frustrating, but not as frustrating as leaving late and hearing TJ be upset the whole way there.

3.  Being nerdy.  We are nerds.  We are rule followers.  We don't care anymore what people think about it.

4.  Having incredibly disorganized cabinets.  Seriously, y'all.  If you ever come over, take a peak inside ANY of my kitchen cabinets.  If you're still my friend after that, it was meant to be.  If you're OCD and still want to be my friend, don't look. JUST DON'T.

5. Being short with each other.  It is one of the worst traits we have.  We are almost always snappy, short, or snarky with each other.  It would be fine if it was still just me and TJ, but we have two kids that are learning some unkind behaviors from us.  Last week, my mom told me, "Now, I love Faith, but if she calls me a nitwit one more time, we're going to have a problem."  We tend not think before we speak and it's rearing it's ugly head in the form of our beautiful daughter.  So we talked and decided we were going to really work hard together to be better examples of kind words for Faith and Silas.  We talked with Faith about it last night at bedtime.  I told her we were all going to be so nice to each other, it was going to be like a game of outdoing each other with kindness.  Today she kept trying to tell me something unkind and so I told her she could either be kind or go to her room.  She walked out of our room to her room and I thought, "Wow.  That was easy."  Hahahahahaha. It's. NEVER. THAT. easy. She came back with this:

She knew she couldn't SAY anything unkind so she just wrote it.  And when I asked her what she was talking about she said, "No.  I don't want to play that kindness game you're doing."  
So old habits are dying hard around here.  For her and for me.  I've had to either stop myself or ask for forgiveness several times today. I've found some Pinterest printable Bible verses I'm hanging on my quote board.  I read them everyday while I'm doing my hair for work.  Now if only Faith could read...

no longer available at CElizabethStudio on etsy

couldn't find a working link

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Journey to Thanksgiving- 3

I get the honor of reading the Bible story every night at bedtime.  A few nights ago we were reading with Faith out of Jesus Calling and we read the story of the Ten Lepers.   I try to take time to explain and really help her see these were real people that lived, not folk tales.  As we talked about the one leper that came back to thank Jesus, something new about that story hit me.

I don't fault the nine that didn't return, although Jesus was very concerned with their choice.  I cannot imagine the elation of knowing they were going to get to hold their babies again. Grab their wives by the face and feel their soft skin against their lips. Kiss their mother's cheeks and hug their fathers.  Maybe they were just as thankful as the one who paused, looked back, and just couldn't go on another step.  Turning back, he went and found Jesus and wept tears of thankfulnesses.  The first human contact he had in years were the feet of his Savior. And I think that's the real break though in offering daily thanks to Jesus.

We must pause, look back, and fully feel the heaviness what we've been given.  Weep tears of thankfulness.  Take time to put what we think is best aside and go to Jesus with a heartfelt thank you for- simply put- all of it.

The thing about the man that went back- he had an additional encounter with Jesus.  A man to man, man to God encounter.  And when we go back- voice thanks to Jesus- we are given encounters with Jesus that will come about in no other way.

Take time to thank Jesus today.  It might lead you on breathtaking journey.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Journey to Thanksgiving- 2

I like to replace.  If something has to leave, I want something new to come in.  If I banish one thing from the fridge, I welcome another.  If I can't chew on something sweet, I want to munch on potato chips.

So when I was first working on this cutting out negativity business, I had to find something replace it with.  I started reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.  It was recommended to me by someone who could see I was falling into a trap of negativity that I couldn't get out of.  Please read this book.  Please read the chapters over and over and let them linger in your thoughts throughout the day and in your dreams at night and while you're driving and eating dinner and singing your babies to sleep at night.  Ann Voskamp captures the heart of being a human- how we want to be better, but it's hard to break through the everyday.  Every word resonated with me.  (Well, I take that back.  The last chapter wasn't my cup of tea, but I don't have to agree with every word she says.  She's not the Bible.) 

Within her book, she talks about documenting thankfulness everyday.  Starting that journal helped me see things in a completely new light.  It gave me something to replace my negative thoughts with.  When I would start to get bogged down, feeling justified in my sadness; I would stop and find something good in the situation.  As I started searching for God's goodness in my everyday life, I began to thank and praise Him more for who He is, what He does, and how He loves so incredibly well.  

It was a much needed paradigm shift for me.  For my family. For the innocent bystanders at Wal-Mart that got knocked upside the head with my annoyed looks, rants, and frustrations with people who park their cart in the middle of the aisle just to hack me off. 

Perfect at it everyday? Nope.  Not a chance.  Trying to change my mindset to Kingdom things and off myself? Totally trying.  

So read the book.  Let God show you some things. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Res Check- November

OK, y'all.  Do you do resolutions?  If not, you should.  It gives you good goals.  And if you make a bunch like me, it's okay to not do them all.

1- More thankful- YES.
2- Healthier- YES.
3- More Organized- Working on it.
4- More Adventurous- See #9.
5- Spending Less- YES.
6- Study Bible- KINDA.
7- Knitting- NOPE.
8- Guitaring - Playing more, not improving.
9- Driving a Standard. So here's where it gets a little hairy.  And scary.  I conned TJ into a date in his hotrod.  Then told him he was going to teach me to drive it.  His version (otherwise known as "the big fat lie") is that he SWEARS he could hear his precious Mustang crying and could smell the clutch burning up. Whatever, man. Whatever.  The truth is that it was super hard to take off and that I could drive it if I needed to now.  I'm confident that I could drive a new standard well, too.  The end result is that we were both so stressed out and sweaty (because of stress and no AC) by the end of the 20 MINUTE LESSON we had to go to a different restaurant because there was no way I was  going to a nice restaurant with pit stains! I wish I would've gotten a picture of me cruising in the car, though.  It would've totally added cool points to this post!  Plus, I got a nice date with TJ out of the deal so I'd call that a win.

I've already started mulling ideas over for 2014.  I know what I want to focus on.  I want to dream big for me and my family!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Journey to Thanksgiving- 1

click to link to video and song

It's no secret here that I've been a smidgen hugely negatively-focused in the past.  I've worked really  hard to change that negative mindset and I feel that I've improved in a lot of areas of my life. 
*I've worked hard to see the beauty in everyday.  
*To mentally list how blessed I am and to give God the glory for that as opposed to directing our blessings back to us and our hard work.  
*To Decrease the negative things I put into my life and increasing the good.  
* To use the gifts God's given me instead of continuing to let them shrivel.  
*To change my negative body image and seeing myself as successful and healthy.  
Those things have not been easy and they've taken a lot of uncomfortable introspection. There's nothing quite like looking at yourself and seeing a LONG unchecked to-do list. But over time, I've been able to check some off and move some to the "work in progress" list. 

But the one area where I cannot seem to shake the negativities is in my workplace.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my job and I am thankful that working means making a difference in children's future.  But I get bogged down in the "have tos" and the mandates and the non-negotiables.  And I work with 50 women so there's always some sort of gossip I pull myself in to.  Honestly, when I reflect on the days sometimes I'm positively disgusted with myself.  I can see clearly when I chose darkness over light and it makes me frustrated with myself for not choosing the right over the wrong.  I am overtly christian and overtly negative. Which equals overtly hypocritical and annoying, if you're not familiar with that equation. 
But this week I saw a small light at the end of the tunnel.  I was on recess duty with a co-worker and she told me she looked forward to our duty days together.  Then she said--wait for it-- that it was because I always look at the positive and have good things to say. I started laughing (not even making that up) because I thought she was being sarcastic. But. she. wasn't.
Please know this is in NO WAY horn-tooting.  I'm just saying that God can make flowers grow out of cow patties.  I'm living proof.  And I think God is the best at taking our small sacrifices and work and turning it into greater good.  And I'm eternally thankful for his goodness and his willingness to change me.  He's never once looked at me in disgust and told me he's over trying with me.  And He knows I've needed it.  But He just continues to mold me into small likenesses of Him.  He makes beautiful things out of us. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

My Pastor Appreciation Month

This week I've been able to think about how I'm pouring into people's lives and how, quite frankly, that can be hurtful sometimes.  You're giving all you have to people who are inherently just, people.  People who forget to say thankful, people who don't care if you're sacrificing for them.  People who do what people do, not because they're bad or out to get you, but because that's who we are.  We can tend to point the finger at others and lament about how they've hurt us.  But this week as I was thinking all of this, God starting pointing the finger at me.  He started reminding me of the people who poured into my life, despite my humanness.  People who really shaped me, helped me discover my talents and gifts, who encouraged and scolded, even when I was a rotten brat.  Even when I was a hormonal teen. Even when I was just downright rude.  And they never stopped loving me.  Even now.  

David Henson- I could write for months about how he poured his life into mine.  It's such a daunting task I can't even get started.  But I can tell you that for over 20 years he brought God's word to a group of people in such a way that God's presence was tangible in those sanctuaries.  That he gave his Christmas bonus to my family once for Christmas.  He encouraged me at everything I did at that church.  That he was so instrumental in my life that I cannot think of a word that adequately describes the depth of it.  That I still cry every time I see him.  Like once in a thrift store I was sobbing. It was overboard, but my gratefulness for his is overwhelming.   I miss his loafers, jeans, and white-collared shirts on Sunday nights.  I miss his sermons when he would grab someone's face and kiss all over it like the prodigal son's daddy did when he came home. Pastor's Pals on Sunday morning before we had children's church.  I've never met another person that brings the Word like Pastor David.  But the most important thing he taught me was that God wasn't just going to speak through him to me.  That I needed to listen, hear, and understand God for myself.  Knowing that has been one of the greatest pieces of wisdom I was ever taught.  

Kathi Henson- oh my.  I tear up at her name.  She gave so much time and care to a group of girls that was bratty and rude and she never once raised her voice at us.  And we needed it. Many, many times.  She spent hours on Wednesday nights teaching us harmonies and preparing us to teach bible clubs and taking us to Pizza Hut and selling toilet paper as fundraisers. I've never heard one unkind word out of her mouth about another human being.  Her impact on my life has no bounds.  I think about her often as I sing Silas to sleep with the harmonies and songs she taught our girl's group.  How she took us all the way to Kansas to sing for a church and sometimes I think it was just to make us feel special.  That our group- just a bunch of poor country girls- was something special.  

Jeff and Joyce Dover- I bawled ridiculously the night they told us they were leaving.  Like, too much.  
I was the kid that refused to play his dumb games before church. I was THAT kid.  But what God did through Jeff was like catching lightning in a bottle.  Those worship sessions in the (trailer house turned) youth room were open invitations to the Holy Ghost to set up residence in our hearts.  And the Holy Spirit brought hoards of youth to the country and I vividly remember looking around and just being in awe of what was taking place in that room.  
I remember the first time Jeff taught us to sing a new song to the Lord.  I thought he was off his rocker.  Now, it's who I am.  Jeff taught me how to fully worship Jesus.  I will never, ever forget that.  I am FOREVER INDEBTED to the Dovers.  Joyce walked me through hard times as a youth pastor's wife when our church was in turmoil.  They are two of the most influential people in my life. Ever.

Troy and Renee Wright- Troy and Renee came into my life when I was starting to think about the future instead of the here and now.  They immediately made me feel like I was someone of value to them.  For whatever reason, they would ask my advice, give me responsibility, and made me feel like an adult. Even when I showed my immaturity with flying colors.  Troy and Renee are my mentors. I look at their marriage as a Godly example of what marriage should be.  Where Joyce showed me how to have fun, Renee shows me how to be meek and humble.  Renee shows me how to work hard without grumbling or complaining, without anyone needing to see that I'm doing a thing.  They are always there at the exact right time.  Troy is my go-to firefighter when TJ makes a bad call and I don't know how to help.  I know I can expect the truth from them, Godly counsel and not their opinions.  I value them so much that I get giddy when we pass each other on the highway.  When I see them, I see Jesus. 

So thank you for pouring into me when I was a brat.  God is using you mightily to shape me. 


Monday, September 30, 2013

October- Resolution Check

So, it is October.  That's month #10, if you're still keeping track.  And here's the skinny on my resolutions:

O.K. They're not resolutions.  They're just cute and I have to show them off. 

1. Be thankful.  Yes.  I'm trying.  And I would say I've improved this by 75% or more over the past year.  The hardest part for me is making sure I stay away from the comparison game.  I don't compare myself to other people on Pinterest or get bummed when I see ideas on Instagram I wish I'd thought of.  But I can get really down on myself when I see people who have 10 times more on their plates that me and handle it with grace and peace.  I feel like I really have just a few major priorities and I'm always running around like a chicken with my head cut off.  It's annoying and something I'd like to work on more.
2. Be as healthy as I used to and love it as much as I used to.  YES. YES. YES.  I honestly feel like a lifestyle change has taken place.  I don't view food and exercise in the same way.  This is a biggie for me.  As of today, I am 2.8 lb away from my first big goal.  That means since the day Silas was born I've lost 47.2 lb. That's 21.2 lb less than I weighed when I found out I was expecting Silas.  Since I'll meet my goal weight within the next two weeks, I'm creating a new goal.  This goal has a weight loss piece to it, but I'm also going to create a goal that will target a few body areas I'd like to slim down and as well as a exercise goal.  The exercise goal might be a 5K, but I'm mulling over a few other ideas.
3. Be organized in most facets of my life. Hmmm. I'm not so sure about this one.  Again, my job is quite organized and I love feeling like I have it under control and calm.   When I really dissect this goal, I know why it's important to me.  I just don't know how to transfer it into real life right now.
4. Be more adventurous. Be more fun.  Well, guys.  This is the first big fail this month.  No excuses.  I didn't even try.  I did a little bow shooting at my nephew's camo cookout, but that's about it.
5. Stop spending unwisely.  At church we talked about finances and how they can just really bog us down.  And they totally do when TJ and I don't work as a team.  And when we get busy that's what happens.  So we've recommitted to sitting down and really hashing things out together again instead of whoever is at home doing them alone.
6. Learn how to really study the Bible.  Yes.  This is one for the success column.  And on a sidenote, can I just say this: God has been really speaking truths in to my life where I was letting lies live.  Simple truths that I'd somehow decided just weren't as important.
7. Learn to knit or crochet. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!  What the ^*&%@ was I thinking?
8. Learn to drive a standard.  Shhhhh. Can you keep a secret?  TJ is going to teach me this month.  I've already arranged for a babysitter so that we can "go on a date" that night.  I'm going to make him take me in his hotrod and HE WILL TEACH ME, DANGIT! (I'm also going to count this as much attempt at #4.)
9. Learn to play the guitar better. Play it more? Yes.  Better? No.

So that's it.  I'm feeling good y'all.  I'm finishing strong.  Rounding out the year is going to feel great!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Story with a Moral

Disclaimer: I'm REALLY putting myself out here for this post. Please don't laugh at me or shoot milk out your nose upon reading. Seriously. No laughing or milk shooting, por favor.

Okay, so there's this thing I do.  Or should I say I USED to do.

I used to self-sabotage.  I used to not finish strong.  I used to stall out before I reach any given goal.  

But that's not me anymore.  That's not what I do. That's not who I am.

The backstory goes like this:  I'm super pumped about some new thing I've started.  I swear to myself that I'm going to keep in on the down low.  But seriously, we all know me and we know that as soon as I see someone I have to tell them exactly what I'm doing, how I'm doing it, and why.  It's like information diarrhea.  There should be some over-the-counter meds for it because it's a sickness I can't cure. 
Then for some unknown reason, I start getting wiggy and stop progress.  Then I go into guilt mode about my incurable sickness, information diarrhea, and give myself the what for because it's all my fault I told someone my goal and now I can't finish it.  SERIOUSLY Y'ALL.  I DO THIS.  AND SOMEHOW YOU'RE STILL FRIENDS WITH ME.  That's the real miracle here, people.  

So, this time around, I didn't tell anyone except TJ and my best friend Corrie.  I didn't tell her for a LONG time either and the reason I finally did was because I needed her guidance.  TJ and Corrie became my coaches that helped me reach my goal- TJ was the information-driven daily guidance and Corrie was the encourager who has been in my shoes and loves me even though she doesn't have to.  Without her straight-up wisdom I would be wallowing in self-pity right now.  Without their coaching I would've never been able to reach my goal.  

So what was the goal, you ask?  It might not be much to you, but it's HUGE to me. 

I ran a 5k.  

What?  You didn't hear me?


Before you get all crazy and ask for my race pic, there is none.  I ran a 5K through my neighborhood at 9pm in the dark so no one would see my jog in my spandex.  But...


So hahahaha- in yo face- self sabotaging, not finishing, stall out at the last minute Amanda!  You've been kicked to the curb! 

Hello- I can do anything through Christ with the guidance of TJ and Corrie- Amanda!

Moral of the story:  You are not the stupid things you do.  You are who God says you are.  The end.  

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Resolution Check

If y'all haven't noticed, the month is #9!  And that means there aren't that many more months left in 2013.  What can I say about these resolutions?  I can say that I realized I was trying to put my time into things that weren't the most important and I just had to let them go.  I also realized that there are some small changes I can make that God honors and allows to flourish.  God is so good. 

2- 2 GOALS FOR THE YEAR (but I made it 4)
1. Be thankful.  Yes. And happier.  And more focused on the blessings around me as opposed to the negative things. 
2. Be as healthy as I used to be and love it as much as I used to.  I've lost over 20 since March.  There's still a long ways to go, but I'm healthier and feeling better.  I will say this- I have accomplished more than I thought I could.  And I am thankful and proud of that.   

3. Be organized in most facets of my life. My classroom is stellar.  Amazing. Fantastic. So that's one facet.  
4. Be more adventurous.  OR survive the beginning of school without having a heart attack and call that a win.  I did get a new haircut that's shorter than I've ever had.  That's about the extent of it.

1. Stop spending unwisely.  Delayed gratification is not fun. 


1. Beaver's Bend- Check. 


1. Learn how to REALLY study the Bible.  Ruth- check.  Now onto Peter.
2. Learn to knit or crochet.  Not now. Or ever.
3. Learn to drive a standard. Not yet. This makes me mad.  It's so simple and yet, it still hasn't happened.  We're just on different schedules so when we're all together, we feel guilty about getting a babysitter. 
4. Learn to play the guitar better. Working on some things.  

Friday, August 30, 2013

On Being a Teacher

August hits teachers like a ton of bricks.  Meetings upon meetings with phrases such as "technology integration," "common core," "implementing with fidelity," "Marzano design question," and "learning goals." You start feeling professionally overdeveloped.  Then there is the implementation of all the aforementioned developing. And all the annual upkeep of a classroom.  You are sure to feel tired before a kindergarten-aged foot steps through the door.  But that's not what makes me exhausted and keeps me going at the same time.

Being a teacher is about remembering 20 small faces,  40 parent faces, and some grandparent faces.  It's knowing that so-and-so is your present student's cousin and remembering to put out dinosaurs because a student told you he loved them on Back To School night.  It's tracking down the OT because you need a wiggle seat YESTERDAY and finding the ELL teacher because you have a student that doesn't even realize how special she is because she's bilingual and is embarrassed to say she speaks Spanish.

Being a teacher is your husband already knowing half your student's names because you can't quit talking about them, even after being with them all day.  Being a teacher is finding bits of lamination film all over your living room because it's NEVER all cut out at school and you need it first thing in the morning. It's opening milk and peeling bananas and tying wet shoes laces (gag!).  It's hearing a little boy say, "When I go home today I'm gonna love you" and knowing that you had the privilege of rocking him and wiping his tears when his mommy left him the first day of school.  

It's convincing third graders that they are going to teach my kindergarteners to read and seeing them light up over it.  It's sending home a stuffed animal with a child so that he can hug something on the bus because it's loud and scary.  And then emailing his mom because you have another student that needs its the next morning.

Being a teacher is convincing your students that they are the best kindergarten class in the world before they believe it.  And then it's getting to watch them be the best kindergarten class in the world because they do believe it.   It's bringing your guitar to school to have Silly Song Fridays, which mostly just means I mess up the chords a lot.  It's being the Queen of the Mixed-Up Marble Club that gets paid in hugs and crayon and marker art.

And I adore it.  

Friday, August 9, 2013

Temps, Teachers, and Trust

Oh, man.  This week has been a doozie in the Aragon Life. I'm learning that there's so much I'm not in control of and that God is trustworthy. 

Si Guy has been sick.  Like sick SICK sick. I took him to the doctor and our doctor said "It's going to get worse before it gets better.  At least two more days of getting worse before you see improvement."  About 24 hours into the 48 hours, I wasn't trusting his judgement anymore. Silas was choking,  coughing, and drooling.  He wouldn't eat a thing.  I was furious with our doctor for not giving us SOMETHING to make him feel better and frankly, sleep through the night.  I called the on-call nurse and got the same schpill.  Elevate the head of the bed.  Humidifier in the room.  AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT JUST WANTS TO SCREAM WHEN THEY START THAT CRAP?!?!?!?  Give me the dang cough medicine and no one gets hurts, am I right?!?!  So we persevered and we trusted.  It was HARD seeing him so sick.  TJ had to talk me down from the "I'm just gonna give me a 1/4 teaspoon of Triaminic" ledge a time or two.  But he woke up 48 hours later wanting to eat.  And with a small little smile on his face.  And improving.  

And God said, Amanda, you've got to trust me.  

Faith met her Pre-K teacher this week.  To say I was a nervous wreck would be an understatement.  Teacher-parents have this highly-sensitive, almost defensive side when it comes to their kids attending school, or at least I do.  I'd been hearing a lot about Pre-K teachers retiring, moving around between grades, etc, and I was just sick thinking about who her teacher would be.  Would they would love Pre-K, her class, her quirks, her personality.  Couple that with Faith's uncanny ability to be excited about something then freeze at the last minute and throw a fit out of frightened embarrassment, and I felt like we were walking into a hornet's nest.  I was also giving myself a nice dose of mom guilt because I was the driving force that chose for her to go to our home school instead of transferring her to my school.  At our school, the parents go one night then the kids come back a few nights later.  We found out the first night we got the teacher we wanted.  When I texted it out, I got a bunch of "Praise God"s so I was super thankful immediately.  Then Faith got to go meet her.  We walked in and Faith was excited. Nervous, but excited.  She looked around and started doing all the things a normal kid would do when they're looking around their room for the first time.  I felt like I could breathe for the first time in a week.  And just to put the icing on the cake, Faith is in class with some of our greatest friends from 12 Corners.  The girls barely know each other because we left when they were just babies, but it was so nice to see them playing together and swinging each other.  

And God said, Amanda, you've got to trust me. 

So this week has been an experience in trust.  And I'm learning that God doesn't do good things to us as a reward for us trusting.  If that was the case Si would still be sick and Faith wouldn't have the teacher she has.  

He does good things because He IS good in his very nature.   


And just in case this has gotten all too serious for you, here are a few outtakes from the week.  Just keepin' it real...

"Mommy, God doesn't care what our outside looks like.  He cares about our insides.  Just like your face." Please excuse me while I go exfoliate. 

"I'm sorry mommy, but you're a mommy so you're gonna have to do a whole bunch of things at once," as I'm consoling a sick baby, talking to my mom on the phone about possible meds for said sick baby, and taking Faith's unfinished fries and she shoves them at me. 

This morning Silas was playing nicely while I got his breakfast ready.  I kept checking on him and there he was, watching Sesame and playing with a toy in his lap.  Sweet, perfect baby, I thought.  BUT when I got everything ready and went in I was HORRIFIED.  He had found a bowl from last night with popcorn in it and was eating it!!!  Isn't popcorn one of the cardinal sins of parenting a baby?!?!  

So folks, get in your forms for Parent of the Year quickly.  You're gonna have to work hard to beat this week's blooper reel!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

Resolution Check

2- 2 GOALS FOR THE YEAR (but I made it 4)

1. Be thankful.  Yes. 
2. Be as healthy as I used to be and love it as much as I used to.  Since I started back in March, I'd say I've lost between 15-20 pounds, but you can't really tell yet.  That's okay with me.  I'm getting healthier and working on increasing my workout stamina.  

3. Be organized in most facets of my life. My classroom is looking great, my kitchen not so much.  Why is it that I wish after dinner I could just push a denotation button every.single.night????  I hate cleaning the kitchen.  It's a huge mess all the time, but then I get all wiggy about TJ leaving things in the window sill.  I'm a nutcase. That's all there is to it. 

4. Be more adventurous.  Be more fun.  

Um, so he did.  And then I chickened out of getting a tattoo this month so I'm pretty much a failure OR the smartest person ever.  

1. Stop spending unwisely.  Saving for Disney.  Paying off debt.  No fun, but so necessary when I look at Faith.  Her legs are a mile long which ensures expensive jeans her whole life, she's already planning her wedding, and her college education is going to be here before you know it. 


1. Beaver's Bend- Check. 


1. Learn how to REALLY study the Bible.  Ruth- check.  Now onto Peter.
2. Learn to knit or crochet.  Not now. Or ever. A more attainable goal would be go to the restroom without visitors. 
3. Learn to drive a standard. Not yet. 
4. Learn to play the guitar better. Had to go.  So weird.  I had marked this one off the list, but now I find myself playing guitar more than usual. Weird. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Morning Joy

Mornings are some the most joyous times in the Aragon Life.  Daddy's coming home from work, bearing stories, minty breath, and kisses for all.  And, occasionally, donuts.  Faith is ready for her breakfast and PBS and Silas is waiting at the rail of his crib for his morning love from his big sister.  I just love it. Sunbeams through the window, new fresh air waiting to be breathed in, dew on the grass, and smiles.

To me, each morning is like a mini New Year's Day.  You can wake up with new intentions, new ideas, and new goals to accomplish. Whatever ill was said yesterday is forgotten, all bad behavior has been washed away.

Breakfast. Shows. Walk. Playtime. Beautiful. Peaceful. Aaahhh.


This morning Faith told me she woke up early, but went back to sleep because she "found a good dream to dream and just dreamed it."

When she said it, it almost took my breath away with it's beauty.  She found a good dream to dream and just dreamed it. It made me want to run back to the bed and close my eyes and find one for myself.

Then I realized that standing in the kitchen with her this morning pouring her cereal, I was doing just that.  I am living some kind of wonderful dream.    And each morning I am reminded of that.  


Yes, it is life and it is messy and loud and unkind at times. Sometimes it feels like someone pressed the mute button only to find the sound had been turned up to 50 before they pressed it before. Silas poops every. friggin. morning within 30 minutes of waking up and Faith wants a gourmet breakfast she'll eat half of and the dishes didn't magically wash themselves like I had hoped.  And sometimes even by 9 I'm PRAYING for someone to just tell Sesame Street how to get there already because I need them HERE quieting my babies.  But that's just life and I'm convinced even Beth Moore's kids poop and Billy Graham's kids just had to have turned their nose up to his breakfast at least once.  So we're all in good company, right friends?

I'm learning to find the beauty in everyday, the quiet in the chaos. And sometimes the beauty in the chaos. 

We're starting school soon- Faith in PreK and me in my class and our mornings will be a new kind of joy.  Breakfast and getting dressed in "school clothes" and forgetting our backpacks, I'm sure. And this season will be over until May rolls around.  So I think I'll just go find a good dream to dream and just live it. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

My Other Guy

So, if you know any firefighter's wives, you know that at night it can get lonely.  You get the little ones in bed and you're just there. No one to talk to.  To hash out the day. So you decide to just go to bed. Then it gets REALLY lonely.  Sometimes downright scary.  You hear every noise in the house, outside the house, and three doors down from the house.  It's a double-edged sword too, because the more scared you are, the longer you're awake.  The longer you're awake, the more you think you hear.  And I can tell you if you're thinking of coming for me, DON'T.  I can get my gun cocked and ready in 10 seconds flat and I will take you down to China town. There's no shame in this game.

But lately, I've been filling my lonely time with another man. Chris Stapleton.  Chris- glory to God, holy sweet Jesus- Stapleton.  In the words of one of my friends, "He might not sing songs about Jesus, but I sure know He loves me today!"  And I'm telling you, I'm NOT in love with the man.  I just LOOOOOOVE his voice with a million Os.

Here's a little glimpse into my brain- if you sing and just putter along through the songs- you're dead to me. With one exception- George Strait.  It works for him.  (And just so you know, Kacey Musgraves, I'm letting you slide because it's your first big CD, but don't let me down.  I like you, but I need to hear some hurt in that voice, girl.) By golly, if you're going to sing, lay it out there.  All out there.  I want to see you tear up, sweat, and leave your heart out there.  And boy, does Chris Stapleton lay it all out there. His voice just has a certain umph, argh, and rumble to it.  And I want to see him live desperately. (PLEASE COME TO OK!!!!!  My back yard is big! Ha!) And can I just say this too- I LOVE when writer's start singing their stuff and just KILL it. Plus, his wife sings backup for him.  I'm in triple love with this musician.

He just released one song this month and the first time I heard it, I put it on Facebook,  Youtubed almost every video of him (also Jompson Brothers and the Steeldrivers), and downloaded the song immediately.  I might be obsessed.

Please, PLEASE, love him too.

Chris Stapleton- What Are You Listening To?

Chris Stapleton- The Right Ones

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Resolution Check- "Beaver's Ben"

Man, I wish my parents wouldn't make me hike with a fever.

Well, we finally can put a check on one of the ole resolutions- we went to Beaver's Bend last month, affectionately known as "Beaver's Ben" to Faith.  And no, she cannot be convinced it is Bend.  She just can't.  And after this trip I am fully convinced that you can have fun anywhere under any circumstances.

Let's go back a week before the trip. We went to Great Wolf Lodge with some friends of ours. That place is crazy amazing.  Faith could have seriously played there for days and days.  Next time, we will stay longer.  It is incredibly safe and clean.  You couldn't convince me of that when we came home with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, though.  And yes, we are the like 1% of people that get it from public pools. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway.  (Just google how you get it and you'll see why.)
Great Wolf Lodge
she seriously had me take her picture on this guy at least 10 times
BUT, we decided that since we had gotten a cabin (which was amazing) and Silas was on the mend (we thought),  and TJ couldn't really take off any other days this summer, we would go ahead and go and see how it went. We also thought that Faith had gotten through unscathed, but she was not so lucky.  And she had it much more severely than Silas.  After a nice morning family hike she didn't really want to do anything except lay in bed and watch movies.  That is NOT Faith-like behavior.  We had no idea until then she'd had a fever all morning.  (And the Parents of the Year Award goes to  TJ and Amanda.)  Her fever got really high, but we were determined to make the best of a rough situation.  We drained the hot tub and filled it with cold water and let her swim in the shade since swimming in the heat in a lake was out of the question.  She had no idea we were really trying to lower her temp and played for quite a while.  We would do what we could when she felt up to it and ended up having quite a good time.  

At night, Silas acted as if his pack and play had been filled with hot lava and we wanted to keep an eye on Faith, so we all ended up sleeping in one huge bed.  That proved to be difficult to break when we got home, but it was so nice while we were there to all be together, snuggled up. (I can say that now.  At the time I was tired and somewhat zombie-like in the morning.)
See, she doesn't look sick, does she?
Less than an hour later she was in bed with a fever. 
One of the funnest things for me was our friend Jerry coming down the last day.  He is just fun to hang out with and I really miss seeing him more often.  He brought his son and nephew and it was cracking me up watching Faith interact with them.  They would do normal boy things like burp or fart and Faith would just look at me and roll her eyes.

Beaver's Bend is a great place to stay for anyone.  We got a cabin this time, but TJ and I want to go back, just us, and hike the 12 mile trail.  You can tent camp along the trail at night.  We also just HAVE to take our friends there with their family.  There were some restaurants I'd like to try out too.  I'd also love to go down in the fall and take the drive to see the foliage change in the mountains.  (I know, I'm like 80 or something.) And I just REALLY want to stay in the cabin with the teepee (tipi?) outside that you can sleep in. 

There were many things that we didn't get to do and I really thought about being frustrated and mad since it was our vacation this summer.  Of course, that would be no fun and all and ruin the fun we DID have, so instead I'm just looking forward to going again.  That's another great thing about Beaver's Bend- it's close, beautiful, and reasonably priced.  

I'm so thankful we decided to just do it.  It was a blast and something we will do over and over again.  Until next time, Beaver's Ben...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Mermaid In Training

"It was a rough first day, but they'll be swimming like mermaids by the end of the week," said Ms. M with a smile as we pulled our drenched and sobbing little girls into our arms after the first day of swim lessons.  

I wasn't so sure.  I wasn't even sure I'd take her back after Faith telling me, "The first time she tried to put me under water I fighted her."  Say whaaa?  When she was trying to put you under water?!?!?!  I had to remind myself I had sought out this "swim whisperer" and that she was recommended to me by people I trust, people who love Faith.  

Faith woke up the second day and happily announced "Today I have swim lessons again!"  But as we got closer to her house, Faith started making excuses why she didn't need to go today.  I was just as anxious as she was.  My stomach was churning and I thought I was going to puke.  I pulled into a parking lot and we prayed for Faith, the other little girl, and the teacher, too. When I dropped her off she held onto me so tightly I couldn't pull her off.  Ms. M had to pry her off of me as I was NO LIE whispering in her ear "God hasn't given us a spirit of fear." (I swear, I'm not a weirdo holy roller.)  I'm typically on the other side of that maneuver.  I'm usually the one that gets to hold the child, make them feel comfortable and loved and safe. Boy, did I get a lesson in perspective that I need to remember come August. 

The other mom and I stood outside the gate crying together.  Two moms from completely different walks of life, one in business attire and the other in jeans and flops (guess which one I am, guys?), bonded together in the moment of motherhood.  Knowing it's not going to be easy for them, but that what our children were learning was going make them better people. That it's best for them.  (And to be completely truthful, there WAS a part of me that wanted to go back and get her and tell Ms. M that she just wasn't ready.  That we'd try again next year.  To keep the small fortune we're paying you and get yourself something nice.  But I didn't.  I took a breathe, got in my car, and stayed in their driveway like some kind of psycho.)

When I picked her up 40 excruciatingly long minutes later, she was swimming.  Let me say that again, folks.  SHE. WAS. SWIMMING.  By herself.  Head under water.  And proud.  Beaming with pride.  Shocked would be a gross understatement of what I was feeling. Awestruck might be a tad closer.  And that was just day 2, people.  

And just like that, it was over.  All her fear had melted away and she was confident in what she had learned.  I was so thankful that she had stuck it out.  And that I had stuck it out, to be quite honest.  I had wanted to rescue her out of that situation, but that wasn't what was best.  Parenting is not for the faint of heart.  I wonder how many times God "stands outside the gate crying?"  His heart must feel the love pangs of parenthood when he sees us going through growing pains.  Surely, his heart breaks for us as he hears us cry, our heads going under water, feeling like we're drowning.  But at the end of this passing hour, we will come out victorious.   That we will be doing what we thought was impossible and proud.  Beaming with pride.

2nd Corinthians 4:17 Amplified Bible
For our light momentary affliction (this slight distress of this passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!]

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Let's Backtrack, Shall We?

Quiet Reflection
taken at our grandparents' pond, TX

A few nights ago I sat down and read my entire blog.  From the first post until now.  It was unsettling, to say the least.  And I came to a few conclusions:
1.  I started this blog at a very hard time in my life and I tend to write more when things are tough.  I guess it is kind of like a journal to me.
2.  Because of #1, I tend to look like an emotional psycho who only has fantastic or terrible times in life.
3.  Because of #2, gross.

Yes, I've had some incredibly hard times throughout the past 4 years or so.  But gosh, if you just read this blog, it would look like I've been suicidal and/or so happy I could flit every other week those for years.  That, thank God, is not the case. I want this to be a reflection of my life, not a book of lamentations.


I am going to "restart" this little blog of mine.  I am still going to journal.  A journal of that shares both struggles AND thankfulness for what I've been given.  Because I have a pretty great life and why shouldn't I share that?  Why shouldn't I share the beauty in my day to day instead of just the pain?

I'll start with a look at today.  We didn't get to go to church today because Sis had a fever so we just laid low at home all day.  It was nice to just stay in my pajamas and get to relax with them.  

I make our baby food and we have ventured into meats.  Guys, I don't mind making applesauce or even peas, but I was a little (read: A LOT) leery of what it would look like and smell like, but lo and behold, it smelled like chicken and looked like, well, chicken paste.  Mix it in with some carrot puree and pastina and HE LOVED IT!  I don't think I had the confidence as a new mother to try this with Sis, but Si Guy loves his homemade baby food and it saves us a bundle since he already eats like a linebacker!

Tomorrow we start swim lessons.  Just Sis. She tends to be anxious about new things, even when she is excited so today I was walking her through some of the scenarios that might happen and having her answer back, "I'll try" instead of one of her go-to responses like "I can't" or "I'm embarrassed."  We  were in the playroom and she got her hula hoop and said, "Pretend this hula hoop is the pool and pretend that, um, (sees stuffed cat and throws it into the hoop) this cat is my teacher." It made me laugh that she was making her cat be her teacher when there are umpteen dolls/Barbies/actions figures in that room, but hey- whatever works, right?

Lastly, this is my focus verse.  I made this and printed it off with our family's name at the top.  My goal is to eventually memorize it.  Because yes, I'd like my life to reflect all the great things that happen, but ultimately I want to be a reflection of God.

So, some news things are coming around the bend.  Please stayed tuned if you haven't given up on me yet and you never know, maybe some new people might stop by.