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It’s Party Time!

This time of year marks the beginning of our traditional holidays, but it also is the time of year when all four of the Keels celebrate our birthdays. John David started us off this year with his first birthday–giraffe themed! He dug in to his cake, opened gifts for the first time, and enjoyed playing ball with all of his friends.

The next week (this past week) was Thanksgiving, when we traveled to Winston-Salem to eat turkey with all of the trimmings and way too many desserts. My sister, Bethany, and our cousin Marisa went with me to WalMart at midnight to get some of their Black Friday deals. This was only the second time I had played the crazy shopper game, and it was so much fun. I purchased number seven of only seven Barbie jeeps for a great price, and I got my new favorite appliance–a steam mop–originally $56, purchased for $36! We were back at Bethany’s by 1:00 a.m., so for the short amount of time we spent shopping, we did pretty well. (By the way, after getting home and looking at the Jeep, we realized that it would be a little small for our girl, so we took it back and improvised…details coming at Christmas!)

This coming Wednesday is Calli’s fourth birthday, and we have been planning a Fancy Nancy “soiree” for months now! She fell in love (as did I) with the lovable storybook character when we read her first book, and we have not been able to leave the library once since then without at least one Fancy Nancy book in our bag. So, fancy Calli will be having her very own get-together with her dearest girl friends this Saturday. No boys were invited, not because we didn’t want boys there, but because we thought they would probably rather be anywhere else than at a pink and purple (fuchsia) party with boas, wings, tutus, pinkies up, and all the rest!

She’s actually having her party on my birthday, and Michael’s is the following day. I suppose we will combine our celebrations and eat leftover Nancy cake rather than have three separate cakes! After that, we have our anniversary, all of the other festivities that December brings, and Christmas itself! At this rate, we’ll be flat broke and overweight by January!

There is something so special to me about summertime that I’m sure stems from the excitement that I used to feel when school was out and I knew I would be “free” for an entire two months! Staying up late, eating ice-cold watermelon, having sleepovers, visiting extended family, sleeping in late, and finding the nearest pool are still on my agenda even at my age of <uh-hum> twenty-nine…

Here’s some recent pics of my kiddies during this year’s summertime activities, some of which have turned into annual traditions for our little family of four!

Calli with her bestie, Brockman, at the Landrum Library Parade

My Yankee Doodle Sweethearts

We have lived here in the church’s parsonage for over two years now with no real housing issues. We love it here–the house, the location, the church. However, during our very rainy winter, our basement began to flood occasionally during a hard rain, so we knew that something had to be done or Michael and I would be spending many evenings in the basement with the shop-vac, plus many of our belongings would be ruined. Some men from our church came and did some temporary repairs, but realized that we had a real problem that stemmed all the way down to the foundation of our house.

So, at the beginning of this week, a local contractor and his son began digging away until they reached the foundation of the house to begin repairing and resealing the footings to keep the rain from coming into our basement. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect this.

It’s such a huge undertaking! Calli has enjoyed watching the backhoe and seeing the large mounds of dirt, roots, and concrete in our front yard. Even John David seems to be enjoying the dirt!

I am reminded that this is what God has to do with me sometimes. Over time my heart needs repair so that the enemy cannot come in and bombard me with his darts. God has to strip away all of the old seals that I have used to cover up the weak areas and the sin in my life, and then seals it with His gracefulness, His righteousness, His forgiveness. He then restores me and makes me whole, but the process is often messy. I am so glad He is patient and long-suffering with me. Lord, make me usable for Your purposes all the way down to the footings!

sibling love

Tonight as we were wishing each other goodnight, I told Calli that John David loves her so much. She added that he was going to love only her forever and ever.

As I walked away to rock him to sleep, I wondered to myself about their future together as siblings. I wonder if they will be friends always. I know they will love each other. I have prayed that they will always be close and kind to one another. I want them to take up for the other and to protect the other from harm. Then, when they become teenagers and begin taking an interest in the opposite sex, I wonder how they will deal with the each other? Will they be heartbroken because this means that they no longer hold the position in each other’s hearts as most loved? For now, she loves him immensely and, though he is young, he already admires her.

Lord, may it always be so. Help them to protect one another and genuinely love each other always.

Recently I have really felt impressed to become a more godly woman. I have Proverbs 31 from The Message posted on my refrigerator, and, as is always the case when the Lord is trying to tell me something, I have been hearing a common theme in messages on the radio or television or when I am talking to one of my friends on the phone. I have been feeling like God is calling me to get up a little earlier and spend time with Michael before he goes to work and to have my quiet time then. I have had a dozen reason why this is not feasible:  I’m up late doing schoolwork, I’m up all night with one child or the other, I need my rest to be a good mother…the list goes on and on. And they all sounded like good arguments until this morning. This morning something happened to me that I can’t say has ever happened quite like this. When Michael left for work this morning I was awake (for the fourth morning in a row…should’ve known something was coming), John David was in the bed with me due to my unwillingness to lay him back down after his 5:30 feeding, and I was lying there trying to go back to sleep when I heard the Lord distinctly say, “Spend time with Me.” I’m embarrassed to say that I tried, at first, to shake off this feeling as I started rehearsing all of my excuses for sleeping-in a few more minutes. I dozed and woke up again to the same words, “Spend time with Me.” This time I had a conversation with God in which I asked Him if He would give me supernatural rest, help me to be a good mother today even with my lack of sleep. He, just kept saying, “Come, spend time with Me.”

Now I know that a pastor’s wife is supposed to have jumped right up the first time, even without being beckoned, but I’m not a picture of perfection…yet. I did get up and read my Bible. I asked Him to show me what He had for me today, and here are the highlights from my reading in John 2-3:

Believe God’s Word or trust in what the Lord has said even without a sign or a miracle. People came to Jesus asking Him what kind of sign He could give them or what kind of miracle He could perform to prove who He was. The Bible tells us that we are blessed when we believe without seeing. I need to take God at His word.

Lift up Jesus in all that I do and say. John the Baptist, when he was repeatedly questioned by people, always responded by telling them that he was only the forerunner of the Son of God, sent to point others toward Him. Jesus said that He must be lifted up so that people can see Him and come to know him. John the Baptist also said that we must become less so that He becomes greater still.

Think heavenly-minded, not earthly-minded. The disciples didn’t understand what Jesus meant when he told them to tear down the temple and that he would rebuild it in three days until after he rose from the grave. They were thinking in earthly terms. Also, when Nicodemus (a highly educated man–educated in the Scriptures) came to Jesus, and He told him that he must be born again, Nicodemus took him literally, asking how that was possible to be born a second time from his mother’s womb. He was thinking in earthly terms.

And then I read a Proverb for the day. There are 31 chapters in Proverbs, so I try to read one-a-day. It’s funny how you can read the same thing more than once and get a totally different emphasis out of what you read. This is what stood out to me today:

Be a wise person—a person who fears the Lord. Proverbs 23 says that we as parents can delight in a wise child. The whole book of Proverbs talks about people in categories (wise, foolish, mocking, and simple), and a wise person is one who fears the Lord. So, I need to pray for my children to be wise children as I, with God’s strength, am an example of fearing the Lord. [Sidebar:  All my life I have wanted to be wise, even when I was a very young child, so when I first read that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10), I had to find out what that meant. I have found (especially in Proverbs) that it means to hate evil, to shun evil, to resist evil, and to do good, to be drawn to godly things rather than things of this world or the devil, to pursue peace (Psalm34:14; Proverbs 8:13). So, in my mind when I hear the words, “fear the Lord,” I picture myself running away from evilness and toward peacefulness.]

Do not be allured by extravagance and by those who are materialistic. Need I say more? I think that it is always a struggle for me not to compare myself and the things I have to others’. I just need to be content with what I have and with who I am in Christ.

I don’t write these things as if I am an expert on the Bible, but I thought that maybe I’m not the only one who God wanted to share this with today. He is precious, and His ways are not our ways, so if this helps one person today, then all the praise goes back to Him. Thank you Lord for loving me enough to spend time with me today and to reveal a little more of Yourself! You are an awesome, loving Father!

Our Baby Boy!

Wowza! I’m a little late posting our wonderful news! John David Stuart Keel came to be with us on November 19th, 2009. He weighed 7 lbs. 13 oz. and was 19 3/4 in. He is just the sweetest baby and the best little sleeper. Calli is absolutely in love with him, and he adores her. I cannot imagine what they will be like in years to come, but my prayer is that they always remain close to one another and love each other even more than they do now. What a joy it is for a mother to know that her children are friends. We thank the Lord for giving us such a lovely Thanksgiving gift!

Calli These Days

I haven’t journaled about Calli in a while, and she has been doing and saying some of the funniest things lately!

A couple of weeks ago, we realized that she has some imaginary friends. She has two boys and two girls that are her “children.” According to her they are very good listeners and they are sweet. She says there are five of them, but she says there are two Brockmans and two Isabellas (named for two of her friends from church)…so we only count four. Many times she says that a group of things or people is five when it’s just a small group, so that may be what’s going on with her friends. She takes them places with her, and they eat with us some nights at the table.

This week Calli said some very cute things that are noteworthy. One is this: “I love the breeze in my hair…and in my mouth.” We felt the first signs of fall this week, and as we were walking to the car one day, she shook out her hair as she made this statement…then she licked the air.

A few nights ago she was sitting in my lap talking (stalling before she reluctantly went off to bed). She said, “One day when I get a little bit bigger, I maybe can marry you…or maybe my Dad.” I asked her what she thought her Dad would say about that, and she said that he would smile. “He would think that is pretty funny.”

I don’t know if it’s because of the soon-to-be new baby or what, but she has been extra clingy. I haven’t pushed her to do anything that she doesn’t want to do, mainly because I am realizing that I only have a few days with her alone. From November on it’ll be the two of us plus a baby boy. I’m excited about John David, and I know he’ll add so much to our family, but I am going to miss having my one-on-one time with my Calli girl.

July 2009 045

IT’S A BOY!

From the first day that I had a positive pregnancy test, Calli was sure that our next baby was going to be a boy. We had been calling this baby “he” and “him” for months, but we went for our ultrasound last week, and Calli was right! We have a boy, who will be called John David Stuart, due on Thanksgiving Day. So far, everything seems very normal and we both seem healthy. Please keep praying with us about this. I don’t know why I worry about anything at all…never helps, but I do think a lot about his health and the delivery. I will have a scheduled c-section about a week before my due date. This is good for me because I will get to eat my turkey and dressing at home with our new addition!

I had everything lined up when we were expecting Calli, but with this pregnancy, I’ve been so different. I am changing my craft room into John David’s nursery, and I am going about it so slowly. Michael has a week off in a couple of weeks, and I think he’s going to do all of the heavy lifting then. I would LOVE to have the bedding picked out and the paint purchased by then, but I’m having a hard time deciding on his bedding. It’s so much fun to have these decisions, but I’m hesitant about this…I know nothing about boys!! Plus, I want to pick out something that I’m not going to be tired of when he’s 18 months old.

Calli is looking forward to having a new baby so much! We are putting a positive spin on everything that happens and trying to involve her in the decisions we make. Lots of people have told us that she’ll be jealous, and she has been a little more clingy (wants her pacifiers, wants to be rocked, etc.) lately, but I don’t ever remember being jealous of any of my four siblings when they were born…I was just happy to have a baby in the house. That’s how I intend to approach things with Calli. We’ll have our special time together, and Michael will be home from school a lot during the holidays, so it should be a fun transition with her. I’m praying that God will form a strong bond between the two of them, and that He will give her a supernatural love for her brother. I’m looking forward to seeing Him answer this prayer.

Anyway, I hope to add updates on our room changes. Calli’s gonna get a new bed–a real big girl bed–and our office is changing. All-in-all we’re converting three rooms! It should be tons of work and lots of fun!! HAHA! So glad we have room for our growing family. God is good!

Baby #2

So… we decided that it was about time Calli had a sibling…

Michael and I went in for our first ultrasound of baby number two Thursday morning.  He (we’re calling him “he” because Calli says that it’s going to be a boy) is less than 1 cm and already has a strong heartbeat! Isn’t that miraculous?!? We saw his sweet little heart beating and even got to hear it for a short while on the ultrasound! Calli is super excited to have a live doll! She rehearses what we’re going to do with her baby every night before she goes to sleep. So sweet! Pray with us that this baby will be strong and healthy… and that I will not continue to have morning sickness after my first trimester!! :) He’ll be 8 weeks in utero this coming Wednesday, and he’s due on Thanksgiving Day!

Happy Easter everyone!

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