Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Summer's first tooth.

Well over a month ago, Summer's bottom tooth became wiggly.  Then, not long after we noticed that her big teeth were growing in behind her baby teeth.  This was new to us, as it did not happen with her big brother.  All four of our children got their baby teeth in the same manner, so we assumed it would be the very same for how their permanent teeth came in.  Not so!  David and I went away for 3 days back in February, and I was so afraid her tooth would come out while we were gone.  I did not want to miss the first one.  It's kind of a big deal, you know! Thankfully, it didn't, and as you can see, weeks have gone by since then.  Well, last night, just as she was about to shower, she let her daddy pull it!  So fun!  This was his first time to pull a tooth, and I think it's most appropriate it was for the one who looks so much like him.  
Summer was SO proud.  She was posing all over the kitchen while I snapped her picture.  
And she couldn't wait to call some important people to tell them.  We called Papa and Gigi, T and Hart, Cari and Cory, Haleigh and Zoie, and Mama, but her phone was busy forever so we gave up, ha!  I have to share a cute story from when Summer was on the phone with her aunt.  Cari asked Summer what the tooth fairy was going to bring her, and Summer laughingly told her that she was going to get $100,000! Ha!  Not even, but Summer sure was happy with her $2!
And the tooth fairy did not forget.  But, she did have to stay up late because three different times when she went in the room, Summer popped up in her bed to see what was going on, ha!  So worth it.  She was so excited this morning to show off her loot!  She even tried to give each of her siblings something, so sweet!  
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Monday, March 18, 2013

Spring Break, 2013.

Spring break has come and gone.  Super fast!  The children were actually out of school on the Friday before, so it felt like we had an extra long break, which was so nice.  I was so thankful not to have school on Friday, since David and I were just coming in from a trip.  We spent the day with the children and had so much fun.  We joined at least 5 other PCS families at Gatti-Town!  After a weekend at home and church festivities on Sunday, we hit the road Monday and drove all day in the rain!  David had a conference at a church in Atlanta, so the children and I tagged along for the ride.  We also brought another special guest, Miss Katie!  She and David attended the conference while the children and I played and saw lots of friends.  
Having lived in Atlanta for 6 years, we knew all of our favorite places we wanted to hit up.  After supper at one of our very favorites, Fresh to Order, we headed over to this place for dessert.  So yum!  
This pina colada cheesecake did not disappoint!  I could eat coconut all day long!
Tuesday, we slept in until almost 9:00, yikes!  I think the time change has us all messed up, especially combined with changing time zones.  We headed Downtown to the World of Coke.  This was our first time in the new building, and it was so much fun!
Pretty Summer!  I loved hearing more of the history of  Coca-Cola.  It was especially cool because I know the Candler family.  Asa Candler, one of the founders of Coke, has twin great-grands, who were in my third grade class my first year of teaching at the Heiskell School.  Such a sweet, sweet family!
Our favorite part of going to World of Coke was sampling all of the different types.  We had done this previously at Epcot, but this time there were so many more options!  My favorite flavors came from Africa.  
After leaving World of Coke, we walked over to the Georgia Aquarium.  Carter and David had been here previously with some friends, but the girls and I had never been.  We had a great time!  So much so that we lost a lens to Tilly's glasses, ha! 
The children had so much fun looking at all the fish.  There's a large section that has floor to ceiling glass where you can look at all the animals.  We stayed there for the longest time just enjoying all of the sights.  The children took turns taking pictures with our phones! They have a pretty good eye!
Love this one.  This was the part of the aquarium where the fish swim over your head.  So neat! I think that was my favorite part.  
Carter thought the whale shark was, "So awesome!"
The children loved getting to pet the sting rays, too.  After the Aquarium, we hit up another favorite restaurant, Willy's!  So yum!
First Baptist Woodstock, where the conference was being held has the best playground.  We spent some time there almost every day.  
Wednesday, we headed over to this delicious place to eat lunch with a very special couple.  Mr. Frank and Mrs. Shirley were members of our church in Austell, and they are so very dear to us.  It was a treat to spend a couple of hours with them during our visit.  They are always such an encouragement and just love our family to pieces.  
It was so nice to have Miss Katie along for so many reasons.  She was an excellent photographer!  Oh, how we love this special couple!
You cannot go to Atlanta and pass by this place.  Don't worry, we stopped, and I had a list, too, ha!  The children got to play for a little bit while the adults shopped and looked.   
This was Miss Katie's first time to go to IKEA.  I think she liked it as much as we do!
After IKEA, we headed over to see this special family.  Mr. Duane and Miss Jeanne are so special to us.  They, too, were members of our church in Austell.  In fact, David had the privilege of baptizing the two of them along with their two daughters.  So special.  Miss Jeanne also kept our three girls during the day when they were too small to attend The Heiskell School.  It was so great to spend some time with them! 
Thursday morning the children and I set off on our own.  We headed over to Northpoint Mall to meet T.  We got there early, so we hit up the playground.  Much to my dismay, Carter and Summer have outgrown the mall playground by 4 inches!  How did they get so big so fast!  We stayed anyway, which goes against ever fiber of my rule follower being, ha! 
After breaking the rules, we headed upstairs to see the bird houses in Von Maur.  Then, we had lunch with T and hit the road once more to see what we could see.  
I drove our children over to where our home was in Marietta, Ga, where we celebrated Carter's first birthday party and brought Summer home from the hospital.  The new homeowners were there, so I just snapped a picture of the street sign.  Then, we hit up Happy Hour at Sonic because that seemed like a great idea, and it was.  
And then we went back to the awesome playground!  The children had so much fun and entertained themselves so well.  After playing for a while, I did something that I have never done before.  I took all four children by myself inside a restaurant (Chick Fil A) to eat.  My friend, Teresa, also a mother of four, would have been so proud!  She's much braver than me and does this sort of thing all the time.  It was a little crazy, but we did it.  We ordered.  We sat and ate our food.  We cleaned up and left, all without too much of a scene!  Whew!  I felt like I had achieved a major accomplishment, ha!
 Friday was our last day.  Here are the big 3 outside our hotel.  So cute.  Friday, the children and I met up with one of my dear friends, Dr. Boardman and rode together to the Heiskell School, where I used to teach and the big 3 went to school.  Dr. Boardman also teaches there, and she was so dear to travel with me to help me out with the children so I could visit with some dear friends.  
Dr. B teaches music, so she let the children have free reign of the instruments in her classroom.  They had a blast!  Meanwhile, I was able to poke my head in and see some precious teacher friends and dear students.  It was so refreshing to visit and see so many people whom I love dearly.  Not long after our visit at Heiskell, it was time to head home to Mississippi.  375 miles and one stop later, we were home sweet home!  
 We ended our spring break by having lunch with some of our widows from church.  It's always a treat to spend time with them.  
And that's it!  Another great spring break in the books!  Next up we have lots to look forward to at school, musicals, spring programs, and Easter break will be here before we know it!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Timothy Barnabas

Last week, David and I had the privilege of attending the Timothy Barnabas conference in Atlanta, Georgia.  This was our very first time to attend a Pastor's conference together, and this one in particular is one we've always wanted to attend.  Frankly, I have not been ready to leave the children, and I would be lying if I told you I wasn't a hot mess during the days leading up to our trip.  And we were only going to be gone three days, ha! We are so very grateful to David's parents for coming to watch the children, so we could attend.  I trust them completely with our little loves, but it was quite hard to leave.  This was the first time we have ever flown without the children, and the first time I had been this far away from them, yikes!  We were all fine, and I am so thankful.  Baby steps, right! 
We flew from Hattiesburg to Atlanta on this baby.  I know!  I was a little unnerved at first. It had one seat, an aisle, and then two seats.  Tiny!  Thankfully, we made it safe and sound.  Whew!  During the dissent, David and I were super thankful we had not made time for breakfast, ha!  It was windy and cloudy and made for a shady landing.  You'd think all those rides from Disney would've prepared me!
Needless to say, we were starving when we landed, so we had lunch at one of our old faithfuls.  When David and I were interviewing to come to First Atlanta just after seminary, this is one of the restaurants we were taken to, and it's been a favorite every since.  
David just happened to have to go to the bathroom, and it just so happened around to be around this exit, ha!  When we were pregnant with Carter, especially, and sometimes with the girls, we would walk laps around this place.  Lots of good memories.  After our not so quick pit stop, we headed up the interstate to Lake Lanier, where the conference was being held.  After a quick check-in, we headed down to the banquet hall for supper, entertainment, and the first session.  Sadly, I did not take any pictures during the sessions, but I thoroughly enjoyed them.  The first night, an adorable girl, Kelly Ingram, shared.  She was a hoot, and David and I were both very moved by her story.  She has a child with autism and spoke very freely about having a child with special needs.  The entire time, I was thinking about my dear, dear friend and college roommate, who has a precious little girl with William's Syndrome.  I've blogged some about their story here.  We also heard from Michael O'Brien, former singer for the Christian band Newsong.  He was amazing and hilarious!  Most of the sessions for the men and women were separate, with the intention of just encouraging us and giving us a platform to share with like-minded people.  I later told David's mom that it was really neat to be in a room full of girls just like me, pastor's wives.  So there wasn't anyone in the room thinking, ohhhh you're a pastor's wife because every one of us were!  Some of the other ladies that shared with us were: Sheryl DeTellis (she shared about the 5 women you need in your life, very interesting), Rebecca Alonzo Nichols (she shared her story that goes along with the book she wrote, The Devil in Pew Number 7), and Kathy Ferguson Litton (founder of for women, and she shared about Sacred Influence).  I enjoyed each of these women so much and was encouraged, challenged, and convicted by the things they shared.  I'm so very thankful for our church for so many reasons, but namely for sending us away on this trip.  What a great time of refreshment it was!
I would be so teasing if I told you that the talks and the treats were my favorite part of the conference.  I truly enjoyed being alone with my love.  Wednesday, we had a long afternoon of free time, and do you know what that man did for me?  He drove me to the glory land!  Athens!  We were only there for a skinny minute, but we were there long enough to see some glorious sights.  
We found my name on the alumni wall by the Tate Student Center.  
We walked across the bridge to check out all the glory between the hedges, and some adorable student offered to take our picture!  I love it!  
And we could not visit without a trip to the campus bookstore to buy some treats for the children.  Such a fun day!  Wednesday night, we enjoyed another meal and more entertainment before heading to bed.  Thursday was our last day, and the conference ended at noon.  We high-tailed it to the Atlanta airport because I did not want to miss our flight and be a second late to see my little ones.  Funny story (sort of), somehow when David booked our flights, he booked us on the morning flight back to Hattiesburg, which is crazy because he knew we would still be in a session.  We are not sure how that happened.  Nor are we sure how we missed seeing that in all the emails.  I later confessed that I did not even read the email with our flight information.  Oh the trust I must have, ha!  So, we called the airline, and I am pretty sure we were the last two on the 4:30 flight back to Hattiesburg, whew!  Can you imagine what a  wreck I would have been if we had missed the flight?  
Bye bye Atlanta.  This city holds such a special place in my heart, since all four of our little loves were born there.  We did so much life here, and it makes me quite nostalgic to visit.  However, we love our new home in Hattiesburg, and we are loving the new memories we are making here.  
Thankfully, the weather was much prettier on our trip home, and therefore, the ride was much much smoother, whew!  We landed safely and reunited with four little people who were ecstatic to see us.  I imagine Papa and Gigi were glad we returned, too, ha!  It's like my wise grandmother always says, "It's so nice to go away, but it's even better to go back home!"  I could not agree with her more.  

Sunday, March 10, 2013

To help him remember.

I think one of the greatest gifts you can give your children is to tell your story and their story.  And don't just tell it once, tell it over and over again, so they remember it and remember it so well they can soon tell it themselves. I love to share with them stories from the past.  How their daddy and I met.  What we did before we had children.  How the Lord has provided for us in great ways.  Our journey as a family.  Our story.  Today, I want to share part of Carter's story, not to boast about anything that David and I have done as his parents because it's not about us anyway.  We just happen to be tools that He chooses to use.  The Lord has lovingly reminded me of this over the past few months.  I'm so thankful that He chose us to parent these four little loves.  There are many days, many that I know I haven't done a good job, and there are many days that are hard and tiresome.  But they are a gift, and it's so worth the mess and the lack of sleep and the tears and the fights because after all that, there is so much love.  So much. And it's quite humbling when I think about the great responsibility of parenting them.  I remember when they were little and, and David and I worked and planned in order to help them sleep all night.  And then we taught them to nap, and eat, and walk and talk.  Now, we are responsible for molding their little hearts.  Wow.  No pressure, right?  Well, today the Lord showed me through my precious little boy, our first born, that He can use us and He can still work in spite of our failings.  Thank goodness!  Today, our little boy ran (he didn't walk) down the aisle to pray with his daddy to ask Jesus to be his Savior.  In fact, I want to remember this part.  I had to make him wait until Miss Leshia started the music before I let him go! I never want to forget this day.  I never want him to forget this day.  So I write.  To tell and to remember.  
Last October, David preached a revival in Georgia, and Carter had the opportunity to sit and hear his daddy share the gospel for several nights in a row.  The last night we were there Carter leaned over to me and told me that he had to go down and pray and ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins.  Before I could question him or yes, even talk him out of it, he ran down the aisle and prayed (out loud!) to Jesus.  Since that time, he has been talking to us a lot about what it means for Jesus to be his Savior.  David and I would drill him and ask him all the questions, and he clearly knew all of the answers.  In his head.  What we didn't know was whether or not he also had a heart knowledge.  We talked to his Sunday School teacher and his children's pastor and both agreed that he knew all of the answers.  And yet we continued to put him off.  He would beg and plead with us, but we just weren't convinced that he was really ready.  And then, the Lord in His loving way, took us both behind the woodshed.  Who are David and I to decide if Carter is ready or not to invite Jesus to be his Savior?  Who are David and I to decide if his faith is real and authentic?  Who are we to decide if he's ready to make the best decision of his little life?  So a few weeks ago, we told Carter that if he was truly ready that he could come forward to pray with daddy and profess to our church that he wanted Jesus to be his Savior.  Two weeks ago, he was ready, but his Sunday School teacher,  Miss Martha, was not there, so he wanted to wait.  Then, last week he just chickened out, and we didn't push.  He was nervous about all the people.  I took the picture above to help us remember that today we had one of the largest crowds we have had in our church up to date.  A group from Brandon, MS, came to help with tornado relief and lead us in worship, and Carter was not at all deterred by the large number of people present.  He ran down the aisle grinning from ear to ear!
I'm so thankful some sweet friends thought to take pictures of this precious moment.  David Ware, one of the candidates for Mayor of Hattiesburg was visiting and took this picture.  There are so many people who have impacted Carter's little life up this point with the story of the gospel, and we are so thankful to them.  We are grateful for those who have taught him during the day in school, in Sunday School, TeamKid, Awana, our family members, and sweet friends along the way who have invested in his life and ours.  Thank you for being faithful to share, so that one more might come to know Jesus! 
And then Miss Melodie, another sweet friend at church sent this one to me.  I'm so thankful to have this moment forever captured to help us remember this day and to help Carter remember his decision to follow after the Lord.    
Carter, Mommy and Daddy are so very proud of this important decision you have made today. We believe this is the most important decision you will ever make in your life.  Thank you for being persistent in wanting to profess your faith to others.  We pray that you will follow hard after the Lord all the days of your life.  We pray that not for a moment will you stray from this faith you have declared in Jesus at such a young age.  We pray that God will use you to touch the lives of others for His glory.  We pray you will impact His Kingdom in a big way!  We love you to the moon and back a whole bunch of times, Carter Stokes O'Dell!   

Friday, March 08, 2013

Basketball, beignets, and the Big Easy

The end of February and the start of March have been a blur!  
Carter and Summer played in their last basketball games of the season.  They both played hard, and we are so very proud of them.  At the last game, the mascot showed up, and I am so thankful I was able to snap a picture of Summer with her favorite friend from this season.  Summer and C were the only two girls on their team, so they really hit it off!  
The same day that we ended our Upward season, our party of six found ourselves with no plans for the day, so we hit the road to one of our favorite places in all the land.  The Big Easy.  
We ate lunch at this yummy place.  David and I have tried to eat there many times in the past, and the line has always been much too long.  It did not disappoint.  I wish I had taken a picture of my plate.  My egg white and spinach omelette was almost too pretty to eat!  
We walked through Jackson Square to burn off some lunch, so we would have room for the main thing.  
My children are too precious and funny.  They totally give into my love of taking pictures and ask me to take their picture in lots of places.  Love this one of sweet Tilly.  
Ha!  Carter caught the attention of many onlookers while posing with the nutcracker!  So cute!
My sweet Summer girl.  
Tilly and Daddy.  Can you guess where we are?  
Just the boys!  
The main thing!  We enjoyed our beignets from Cafe Du Monde, as always.  The quarter was pretty crowded with spring breakers, and it was super chilly and windy, so after checking out the Mighty Mississippi, we hit the road back to Hattiesburg.  
Love this picture of the girls in their dresses Gigi got them for Disney.  
Monday night was the Upwards awards ceremony, and this guy was the entertainment.  He was also our entertainment over Thanksgiving just before the Dixie Stampede!  How neat!  
And speaking of the Big Easy, David got to hear this man preach at William Carey just last week.  Dr. Fred Luter, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, was in town from New Orleans. His was the very first sermon David and I heard when we moved to New Orleans in the Fall of 2003 at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church with our friend James Tealy.  It's neat how life comes full circle.  
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