I know you folks are out there even when you don't comment... so today I'm asking for some feedback! If you read this, I would love to hear your response.

Just a question that I have been pondering. How many of you out there have prayer lists? And what do those look like? In a recent series about prayer our senior pastor talked about his prayer list and encouraged us to do the same in our prayer life. He has specific things/people he prays for each day of the week.

Now while I would love to do this because I'm definitely a "list person" and structure helps me stay focused and disciplined, I've never liked it much for prayer. It just doesn't feel meaningful to me and I don't know how to keep things "fresh" ya know? For example, let's say one of my Monday list items is our country. I would quickly feel very repetitive each week praying the same "God bless America" prayer. But I guess when the alternative is constantly forgetting to EVER pray for our country, maybe the structure of a list is better?

So what do you do? What does your prayer life look like? Do you use a structure such as a list? Why or why not?
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I had an epiphany the other day when I went to Babies R Us. I realized that baby stuff is EXPENSIVE! Yes, it took me 8+ months for this to really sink in, but as I prepared myself to spend another $40 on 2 sleep sacks because my wiggly baby may never keep real blankets on, this epiphany finally hit me. I very quickly passed up the pink dots and cute girly prints for the gender neutral green fleece and teddy bear print sacks. I plan to have more of these little bundles in the future and I can't be certain they'll all appreciate pink!

So here's my advice to new/expectant moms out there: go gender neutral whenever you can. Now I understand there are some things you are just gonna want to go all out boy/girl with. Clothing is a big one for me. I hate dressing my girl up in yellows or greens (unless obviously girly styles). When we go out, I want people to know she is a GIRL! But I'm starting to let go on some of the other accessories. You can spend hundreds of dollars in blankets, toys, carseat accessories, and baby equipment. Imagine having to do it again if your next kid is a different gender! Trust me, your baby girl will not care if she doesn't have the fancy pink stroller with pink strap covers, pink toys, and pink diaper bag hanging off the back. If you go pink with the clothing and stick with gender neutral for everything else, people will have plenty of evidence that she's a girl.

Yes I know what it is like to find out the gender of your baby and be soooo excited with visions of filling that nursery to the brim with everything pink imaginable... but do yourself a favor and try your best to reign it in a little. Your wallet will thank you later!
Is it normal to feel like my heart is absolutely going to explode with an abundance of love when hanging out with my daughter? I'm not entirely sure I can take much more of this! Lydia is off the charts adorable and sometimes I literally feel like it is too much to bear!

Today my sweet girl is 8 months old. As my gift to her, we spent most of the day out and about. As her gift to me, she didn't fuss. :) The day started with huge doses of giggles as I nibbled her fingers in the morning... and ended with an equally large dose of giggles while she "wrestled" with Daddy and played peek-a-boo before bedtime.

Someday I'm going to have more kids (God willing)... and if the amount of love increases as the amount of kids increases, I'm going to explode. Seriously. I don't think that much cute can be contained without some casualties.
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Periodically I like to try to capture in text (as much as possible) what my life is like at the moment. Obviously life changes constantly around here with a growing girl, so jotting down some things along the way will help me to remember where we have been.

Currently our days start around 7am... sometimes this is closer to 8, but not usually. Lydia's demeanor upon waking ebbs and flows, but lately she's been very pleasant when she wakes up. She might stir and cry for just a second around 6 or 6:30, but then quiets down, goes back to sleep, and wakes up later cooing, squealing, laughing, and other happy noises until I go in to get her. I feed her, change her, and give her her vitamins then we proceed downstairs for a little playtime. Typically she is ready to go back to sleep by 8 (or roughly an hour after she wakes up). She'll nap for 30 minutes to an hour then our day "officially" begins.

Every day might be different from that point. Sometimes she is fussy and tired after being up for just 2 hours at a time, and other times she can go 3 or more hours. Besides the early morning one though, she typically gets 2 more naps. One is usually shortly after lunchtime and the other around 3:30. Each last for maybe an hour.

Food has kinda been an adventure. As she started eating more solids she started having issues with her poop. Without going into a bunch of details, her body just needed to adjust to the diet changes. She had been eating fruit at lunch and veggies at dinner, but now I've changed to wheat cereal mixed with apple juice for lunch and either a fruit or veggie at dinner. The apple juice seems to help her stay more regular, but now with only one additional solid meal I have a harder time giving her a lot of variety. She eats well, though, and hasn't rejected any foods I've offered her. Oddly enough she prefers baby foods to anything else I offer. The first time I let her have some smooshed up "real" banana she made the most disgusted face! I've gotten the same face letting her try apple butter and mashed potato. But packaged baby food peas? No faces there! Silly kid.

Lydia is now nursing just 5 times a day. Her pediatrician said she may drop down to 4 times when we increase to 3 solid meals each day, but at this point I'm not sure how I'd want to schedule those. Presently she nurses first thing in the morning, around 11:00 (shortly before lunch), around 2:00, around 5:00 (shortly before dinner), and then before bed. I'm contemplating dropping the 2:00 feeding and working towards a structured 3 meals a day (nursing + solids) but we'll see. She doesn't exactly "ask" to be nursed in the afternoon... I just offer and she eats. So maybe she'd be just fine if I stopped offering. We'll see. Her doctor expected we'd move up to 3 meals a day around 9 months of age, so we have another month yet to see how things go. I've only recently been able to regularly not nurse her in the late evening (before I go to bed), so I don't want to rush any more meal changes.

When she isn't sleeping or eating, Lydia is a very happy baby playing with her toys. She's content to sit on the floor with toys to shake & chew on. I try to read her books occasionally, but she will either wiggle and squirm so much that I can't hold her and read, or she will insist on eating the book instead of listening to it. Pretty much the only thing that captivates her enough for her to actually sit still is her Praise Baby DVD. She loves that thing! She also enjoys rolling around on the floor. No crawling yet, but she does a good job of rolling herself around to get to the things she wants.

She still really enjoys being out and about. Every time I take her anywhere people are always commenting about what a happy baby she is. Lately it doesn't even matter if she is tired. She'll stay up longer and still be pleasant as long as she's got lots of new and interesting things to look at. This has certainly helped our schedule be a lot more flexible!

I can't believe my baby is going to be 8 months old in a few days. I say it all the time, but this really is going sooo fast!
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This weekend while leaving church - Lydia strapped in the backseat of the car happily giggling at herself in the mirror - I found myself thinking about Abraham. I thought about the faith required to be willing to truly give it all to the Lord. My mind immediately recounted the story of Abraham's trek up the mountain to sacrifice his beloved son... tears streamed down my face before I had even pulled out of the church parking lot.

How could he do such a thing? I glanced at my precious daughter still laughing behind me and the tears came down faster. I'm sure that Abraham and Sarah loved Isaac just as much as I love Lydia... and I can't even begin to dream of giving her up for anything!

I think too often I take for granted the fact that I know the end of that story. I read about Abraham's calling to sacrifice Isaac, and the 3 day walk up the mountain, and I forget how Abraham's heart must have been absolutely crushed to bits when his son innocently asks, "Where is the lamb?" Abraham did not have the luxury of knowing the ending. He didn't know that God would ultimately spare Isaac's life. Every gut-wrenching step up that mountain required immense faith.

As I drove home from church remembering this story, I had to admit that I don't know that my faith is that strong. In fact, I had to admit that I've really been holding back... clinging to my family, utterly afraid that if I let go and give everything over to God He will ask me to do the unthinkable. Sometimes I feel as though it will take something huge in my life to really bring me back to the close relationship I desire with God, and because I'm so afraid that the huge thing would be harmful or painful to my family, I resist asking for it. Why do I struggle so much to just let go and trust that God will provide?

One of the verses in my Bible study for today stood out to me. Matthew 6:33-34: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else...

I'm still not where I want to be. I'm still scared to death to truly place my entire life - my home, myself, my family - upon the altar of the Lord, trusting His will. But I'm really praying for strength in this area. I love my family more than anything else in this world, but they are God's first. And He loves them too. Abraham knew that and was able to trust that God had a perfect plan for his family. I want to have a faith like that.
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So I haven't blogged in awhile. Part of that is because we were on vacation and another part is because I just haven't felt like I've had anything blog-worthy to post. I guess there are the run of the mill details on our vacation and the recent opening of the CedarCreek Whitehouse campus (yay!), but I don't have much profound to say about them.

Vacation was fun. Nice to get away with my family and I'm thrilled Brent was able to come as well. We had a good time.

Lydia learned to clap recently and very much enjoys clapping throughout the day.

After lots and lots of hard work, the CedarCreek Whitehouse campus opened this past weekend with around 1800 people in attendance! I am amazed by what God has done in my church. We stand in awe.

Beyond all of that, life is just normal. Busy but normal. So I really don't have a lot to say on here. Sorry about that. If you've read this far into this lame post, my apologies for boring you. There is indeed stuff on my mind but nothing I wish to post publicly.

So with that, I will end this sad excuse for a blog post and go watch Biggest Loser with my hubby. :-P