A Life More Beautiful

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord." Jeremiah 29:11

Day #2…..We may be hoarders…

Ok, so confessional time. I think there may be a gene that causes hoarding. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it! I have to have some reason for the fact that I can’t part with a magazine until I’ve read every page (I have a LARGE stack just waiting for me to have two hours of free time to read a single issue…sigh), or the fact that I still have every movie ticket stub from the four years that Jason and I dated.

And it appears that I have passed this genetic deficiency along to our girls! Now, don’t assume that we could star on our own TLC show that features our (Jason excluded) sentimental scraps of paper that we can’t bear to part with. You can easily walk through our every room in our house (with the playroom as an exception), but Brynlee and Camryn hold onto their “artwork” with an iron fist…and the term “artwork” is used very loosely for some of the construction paper that they hold dear….or the purple construction paper airplane that causes Brynlee’s eyes to water if we mention throwing it away.

However, one of my easier goals for the 31 days of less is less clutter!! So, we are attempting to narrow down the creations of our little Michelangelo (Brynlee) and Picasso (Camryn) to their favorites. I have bought them each a folder to hold their favorite pieces….We’ll see how far that goes! At this very second, the precious paper airplane is resting in a place of honor on the hearth.

As for my hoarding tendencies, I have given away clothes that the girls have outgrown, so we’ll call that progress for today!! As for my goal of less social media??? Well, let’s just say that being really bored at work on a Friday isn’t very conducive to staying off of Facebook on my phone. But let’s not forget that I have purged old clothes this week, and we are definitely calling that progress 🙂

“He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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31 Days of Less….Here goes nothing!

I’ve been thinking about what to write about for this challenge for several weeks now. I’ve thrown around a ton of ideas, and none of them have excited me…..until this one! Then again, excited may not be the right word. Challenged is a more fitting way to describe how I’m feeling.

I’m an a typical Type A, people pleaser! I want you to like me, and I feel like everything I do should be perfect….or as close as humanly possible. I’ll blame it on being an only child. I also have an incredibly hard time at saying no. As evidenced by my day today, I have a gift for overcrowding my To Do list and trying to shove as much as I can into every second possible….all while being chronically late.

The entire premise of my “31 Days of Less” is to focus more on what actually matters (God and His people) and less on what isn’t as important (me and my to do list)…ouch, it hurts just to type that! Well, as I started the day planning this blog, I get a text asking me to help plan our elementary school’s fall festival…and I quickly say yes! How can I turn down an opportunity to reach out to our community??

And there’s the rub. Throughout this month, I’m going to be praying and working towards determining what needs to stay in our lives and what needs to go. I know going into this that each day will be different.

Less clutter – Amen!! Seriously, needed this about seven years ago before our little people were born….we now live in a combination of Barnes and Noble, a Barbie wonderland and an excessive amount of clothes of all sizes!

Less wasted time – Who doesn’t kill time that could be better spent as quality time with family?

Less bad attitudes – I’m preaching to myself, as well as the rest of my family.

Less social media – Again, this is directed at me, and if I’m honest, this will be really difficult! However, I know as soon as my husband reads this, he will be the one to hold me accountable, haha!!

In general, less of ME!!

And in the place of this clutter, I’m hoping we find more generosity, more kindness, more quality time and memory making, more love and patience with each other and more love for all of those that God has placed in our lives!

Thanks for joining me on my 31 days of less!! Here goes nothing….or better yet, here goes a lot junk out of our lives 🙂

 “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.” – John 3:30 (New Living Translation)

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10 weeks and 3 days….

10 weeks and 3 days

5 weeks and 2 days

Ya know, in the grand scheme of things, that’s a really short amount of time. In five weeks, we will be planning Halloween costumes. In ten weeks, we will be anxiously watching the college football polls to see what teams will be competing in the playoffs. However, in those ten weeks, or even those five short weeks, AMAZING things are happening. In just five weeks, a little bitty heart is forming and is able to pump blood. In ten short weeks, all vital organs have formed and small fingernails are ready to be painted or caked with dirt.

And then the ultrasound……silence where there should have been a pounding heart beat. A perfectly still silhouette where we should have seen a wiggling, dancing little person. An umbilical cord that did not attach as it should have without any indication as to why.

In those short weeks, dreams were being formed, names tossed around and daydreams of little ones with brown hair and blue eyes dancing through our heads.

And then the ultrasound…..our sweet doctor explaining that miscarriages happen all the time. After the first such ultrasound, we were told that most women go on to have healthy babies…..and we had our beautiful Brynlee a short time later. After the second such ultrasound and a litany of additional tests, we were told to be thankful for Brynlee because I wouldn’t be able to carry another little one to full term. Thankfully, God is bigger than a doctor’s outlook!! And we were blessed with our second sweet girl a few months later.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago and the Planned Parenthood videos that began to surface. Initially, I thought the videos had to be fabricated. Surely, a person could not justify SELLING the body parts of innocent babies and referring to them as “line items.” Really?! “Line items!!!” I immediately flashed back to receiving insurance documents after our first miscarriage and the following surgery. I vividly remember reading that there were not any deformities with the little one. In my mind, I could see that tiny little person in my sweet doctor’s hands. The same hands that so carefully delivered Brynlee less than a year later.

I won’t pretend to have faced what a single mother or a rape victim has had to deal with. I’ve never had to explain to my family that I am 14 years old and pregnant. I’ve never been down those roads, but I have had the excitement, nervousness and fear that comes with seeing that positive pregnancy test result. I’ve seen that positive result four times…..two times that ended in beautiful baby girls, and two times that ended with blood tests, lost little ones and rivers of tears.

The thought of Planned Parenthood dissecting and selling little ones like mine makes me sick and furious beyond words! And what’s worse, where is the outcry?! Where are the voices that are speaking up for these little ones that have no voices?! Where are the ones that know that life begins at conception and that know that EVERY.SINGLE.LIFE.MATTERS?! Even more, where are the ones that are reaching out to the hurting, confused and desperate women that think abortion is their only option?! I want to be that one! The one that reaches out to show them that they do have options, and abortion is NOT the answer! I don’t know where to begin, but I do know that my prayers are going up for the girls and women that are even considering walking into an abortion clinic..that someone will cross their path and point them to the One that has the answers!

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Jason and I wouldn’t choose to walk down this road of miscarriages again, but if God can use these struggles to bring someone to Him, so be it. I pray that God will put people in our paths that we can daily point to God. And that “these light and momentary afflictions” can be used to bring glory to His name!

us

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“In the middle of the storm…”

A true Alabamian knows all the signs…..the sky turns an eerily pretty greenish, pink color……you step outside and can only describe the atmosphere as “soupy”……..your normally straight hair takes on a weird kinky, frizzy texture….and worst of all, James Spann sheds his jacket and displays suspenders and rolled up sleeves. Any true Alabamian will tell you that these are sure signs that a storm is imminent!

 

Two really strong storm systems have come through since we have had little ones. Both nights found us huddled in my mom’s basement, while Jason watched James Spann, and I tried not to become a total basket case! (I should insert here that I completely, utterly, totally HATE storms!!) Each time, I was elected to hold Camryn, while my mom held and played with Brynlee.,,,,,since Jason was our resident James Spann correspondent. It’s hard, really hard, to keep a calm face and voice, when you hear a meteorologist say TWO tornadoes are heading toward your “safe place.” I just held on to Camryn for dear life and prayed for the storm to pass quickly. I had visions of walking through Pleasant Grove two years earlier, and I was terrified that we were about to live through that again. Thankfully, we were spared any damage from the two tornadoes, and we finished out the night on a futon and air mattress in my mom’s basement.

 

Flash forward a couple weeks, and I’m driving the girls to daycare. Our morning soundtrack usually consists of an alternating playlist of Frozen or Darius Rucker…..You can easily recognize us as the girls in the bright blue SUV belting out “Let it go, let it gooooooo!” quickly followed by a rousing round of “Wagonwheel”….Well, that morning, I left the radio on and heard “I Am,” by Crowder. As soon as the chorus started, I thought about holding Camryn during the storm.

 

“I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am”

 

During the tornadoes, I was determined to hold onto Camryn as tightly as I could….as if in my arms she was completely safe. I curled her little, wiggly self into my lap and forced her to be still. I covered her completely with my arms and body. It’s just a mom’s instincts…..especially a mom that is terrified of storms. I knew, without asking, that Jason was ready to step in and do the same thing with Brynlee as soon as the storm got close enough. Thank God that didn’t happen.

 

But the chorus got me thinking…..In the middle of all of our storms, we aren’t alone. Even when we feel completely alone, isolated and insecure, God is still holding us. I just pictured myself curled up and being held through the craziness of the storms that we have all weathered. Through changing jobs, lost babies and family members, normal ups and downs of everyday life…….

 

“I am
Holding on to You
I am
Holding on to You
In the middle of the storm
I am holding on
I am”

 

There aren’t many thoughts that are more comforting. If the two tornadoes had hit our “safe place,” I would have used every ounce of my energy to keep my girls safe!! So, how much more does God look out for and hold onto US?!

 

“Love like this
Oh my God to find
I am overwhelmed
With a joy divine
Love like this sets our hearts on fire!!”

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What does happily ever after really look like??

It’s a rare day in the White house (our White house, that is) that someone isn’t dressed up as a princess, ballerina or Tinkerbell. Our girls are fascinated with all things girly….makeup, glitter, princesses and now, princes. Camryn loves to ask her daddy, “Will you be my ‘pwince?”  Even as I’m typing this, the girls are bouncing in their bouncy house (a pretend castle) and calling each other Anna and Elsa.

girls1

I love princesses just as much as anybody and can sing most of the Disney princess songs by heart….don’t judge, what girl that grew up in the 90s didn’t dream of being Belle or Jasmine? But do I really want my girls to grow up expecting Prince Charming to sweep them off their feet? Or Aladdin to save them from a crowded marketplace? Or, most bizarre, an enchanted beast to turn into their perfect prince? I think I’ll pass! I’d rather they grow up expecting a more realistic Prince Charming like the one I found….who may not always be exceedingly charming, but I’d take him any day over Prince Eric 😉

So, what does happily ever after really look like to me? Celebrating our ten year wedding anniversary rafting down the Ocoee, laughing over the disastrous six mile bike ride on our honeymoon, and watching our mini-me’s grow up way too fast. Our happily ever after has had days lots of days when we are crazy in love, and other days when we just drive each other crazy. We’ve cried together over lost babies, friends and family, but even through those tears, my Prince Charming has found a way to make me laugh. Happily ever after is having little inside jokes and memories that can make us laugh until we cry. That’s what I want my girls to dream of! Holding hands in the car, venting at the end of a long day and arguing over who gets to pick a movie or how I can never pick a place to eat 🙂

Yeah, that’s the happily ever after that I want my girls to look forward to. Knowing that I’m always coming to someone who loves me, prays for me and laughs with me everyday. I’m not saying we have a picture perfect marriage, but I wouldn’t trade my Prince Charming for the world. He knows my crazy quirks and loves me anyways. And I love him even though he refuses to let me put my cold feet on his side of the bed. Forget Aladdin or Flinn, I’ll take my “pwince” any day!!

just us

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A beautiful blessing…

Six years ago (December 1, 2007 to be exact), Jason and I went through one of the hardest times in our lives. At a routine ten week appointment, my doctor tearfully told us that she couldn’t find our little one’s heartbeat. I remember holding my breath and desperately praying that God would breathe life into the little body that we could see on the ultrasound screen. Later in her office, my sweet doctor fought tears along with us, as she explained that lots of women have miscarriages , and we hadn’t done anything to cause this. Dr. Kennedy assured us that most women go on to have successful pregnancies and that eventually we would have our own sweet little one. I could take you to the exact parking spot at Brookwood where Jason sat holding me as I cried. I kept thinking about all of the hopes and dreams I already had for that little bitty life!

When we went back to church a couple weeks later, I really felt completely lost and hopeless. If you’ve never experienced a miscarriage, I understand that comment sounds completely dramatic. If you have lost a little one, I’m sure you remember being in that place. It’s like everywhere you look, you see pregnant women or sweet little babies or cute baby outfits or the bibs that you had already bought for your little one…….

And then came a sermon that was specifically for Jason and me. Growing up in church, I have heard, literally, thousands of sermons, but this was one that I KNEW was God sending a message to us exactly where we were. The sermon that morning was on Hope……I have to say that I really didn’t want to hear about hope that day, as I fought tears to even stay in the sanctuary…but then I started to listen. Pastor Loper talked about how God gives us what we need, when we need it, and where we need it. (See, I really did listen!) The verse he kept referring to was Romans 15:13, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.” Throughout his sermon, he kept talking about how God is our Hope despite our circumstances. Towards the end of the sermon, Jason leaned over and said, “When we have a little girl, her name will be Hope!” Notice, he said when, not if!! He was completely confident that our dream of a family would be realized.

Fast forward 11 months…….After countless doctor appointments and ultrasounds, we welcomed Brynlee Hope into the world on November 4th, 2008. She wasn’t in a hurry to get here, and like her daddy, she hasn’t been in a hurry since! I remember staring at her when she was born and being amazed that we had been entrusted with her…..I have to say, I felt completely unprepared.

1st family pic

And five years later, I still feel unprepared a lot of days. She is so much like me that it kinda scares me! Her little attitude and smart remarks make me alternate between rolling my eyes and covering my mouth so she doesn’t see me laugh. She’s content to sit and look at books all day and wants to learn everything that she can. She wears her emotions on her sleeve and loves with her whole heart. She hides behind me when she doesn’t know people in a crowd, but loves to be on center stage when she’s around her favorite friends and family. What can I say, she may look like Jason, but she’s my mini-me! A beautiful, hilarious, intelligent blessing that I am incredibly thankful for!

Brynlee, I can’t promise you that your life will be easy, but I can promise you that you will have a family standing behind you and holding you up in prayer. I can’t promise that girls will always be sweet and friendly to you…..actually, it’s more likely that I can promise you that they won’t…but I will always encourage you to “kill them with kindness” and hold on to true friends. I can’t promise that you won’t have your heart broken, but I will be here to provide the ice cream, chick flicks, tissue and a ride to your best friend’s that every girl needs after her first break up.

Sweet girl, you are an amazing blessing! Your Daddy and I love you more than you will ever know…and even better, Jesus loves you even more! Happy 5th birthday, my beautiful Brynlee Hope!!

 

Miss priss

 

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“No One Ever Told Me”

There are so many things that no one ever told me before I became a wife and mom. So, I thought I would share them to see if I am the only one that was caught off guard….

Before I got married, no one ever told me…..

that the guy that I thought helped with hanging the moon, was tragically incapable of doing laundry by himself. I’ll never forget the first time he called and asked how to turn on the washer!

that the 21 year old that I married would become the most amazing friend that I could imagine. He would be the one person who puts up with my grumpiness, moodiness, goofiness, impatience, stubbornness, ditziness and clumsiness….and still finds me cute and funny….even after seeing me puke up my big toe while carrying Camryn!

Anniversary

No one ever told me that staying in love is a choice that you make even on the hard days when you want to run and hide from the world.

Or that planning a weekly menu that doesn’t include macaroni or spaghetti takes a lot of creativity…..although you can never go wrong with macaroni if you ask me.

Before we had the girls, no one ever warned me that my feet would completely disappear two months after finding out I was pregnant!! Or that they would magically reappear the morning after the girls made their grand appearance!

No one warned me that the smell of peanut butter would have me running wildly from the room….or that I would live on Icees, banana Moon Pies and Sour Patch Kids….and of course, Zofran! 🙂

Then the girls made their appearance, and life as we know it changed forever!!

Our quiet Saturday night poker nights became nights at home coloring and watching the Fresh Beat Band. We traded Wings or Olive Garden for McAllister’s and Chick-fil-A. We traded chick flicks and action movies for Finding Nemo, Rio and “Punzel” (Tangled, for those of you that don’t speak Camryn-ese).

No one ever told me (well, they did, but I didn’t really buy it) that these two little people would forever alter our entire lives and perspective. That I would no longer be able to watch Criminal Minds or Law & Order without worrying about my own girls.

No one ever told me that I would trade Zumba or boot camp classes for a two year old drill sergeant that is WAY tougher and insistent than any trainer I’ve ever been around.

Cs style

No one ever told me that I would completely memorize “Dimity Duck” or “Mommy Calls Me Monkey Pants,” and prefer those books to any of the 50,000 other choices laying around their rooms. And that I would read them much more frequently than any of my own reading choices!

No one ever told me that I would completely identify with the National Geographic pictures of the crazy momma bear anytime a bully came within 15 feet of one of my sweet (most of the time) baby girls!!

Miss priss

Or that the smell of a clean baby was one of the sweetest smells in the world…or that the smell of the same kid after an hour outside is one of the worst 🙂

There are so many things that no one ever told me that I have learned to love about my life…despite the fact that Jason still doesn’t do laundry, and Brynlee and Camryn still smell like outside when I pick them up from daycare everyday…..I have to say I’m pretty thankful for the things that no one ever told me 🙂

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“I Press Toward the Mark”

For once, I’m at a loss of words…..or maybe a loss of where to begin or which direction to take with this blog. I’ve always loved to write…It’s free therapy, what’s not to love?! But as I type today, I’m not exactly sure which way this blog will go.

I have always been blessed with amazing examples in my life. My dad was the epitome of strength and perseverance!! My mom is one of the strongest women that I have ever met in my life! Jason and my dad have both been examples of the way that God loves us in the way that they absolutely adore their girls like they are the most amazing kids ever made! However, one of my greatest heroes has always been my grandfather!

Grampa was the most amazing, adorable, stubborn and hilarious people that I have ever met! Since he passed away Sunday night, I have thought of so many memories that I have of him. I could literally sit here all day and list memory after memory. But one of the things that stand out most is the strength of his faith.

My mom gave me journals at important times in my life (13th birthday, 16th birthday, etc.), and Grampa wrote Phil. 3:12-14 in almost every one. These encouraging verses remind me that even Paul felt he still had a long way to go to be who God wanted him to be. In the days before Grampa died (and the days since), I read these verses every morning as I was getting ready for work. “I press toward the mark.” Grampa exemplified those words. He was always going, working, helping someone, giving someone free veggie from his garden. Always making a difference wherever he went!

This teeny tiny man would never have believed how many people he influenced. I will never forget how EVERYBODY seemed to know Grampa! I couldn’t count how many times I have been asked, “Aren’t you Audie Wilson’s granddaughter?” Yep, that’s me! And then most people would go on to rave about how much they adored him.

I’ll always remember his huge smile, loud laugh, insanely hard pats on every sunburn in my life, and the way he always joked with everybody. I can only hope that I will have even half of the influence that he had only everyone he met!

Grampa, we miss you more than you know!! I know that you are no longer in pain and are probably talking everybody’s ear off……and you won’t be misspelling your words anymore 😉 I love you so much and promise to make you proud!!! “I press toward the mark!”

 

 

 

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

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“But I might color outside the lines….”

photo

 

Brynlee has a life-sized outline of herself hanging on her bedroom wall. Her K3 teacher made the outline a couple months ago, and it immediately became a new decoration in her room. Today we were coloring on the picture, and I asked her if she wanted to add some flowers to the bottom of the page. (Now keep in mind, I am a horrible artist!! I have a rough draft for a children’s book called Stick People and Crooked Hearts based loosely on a younger artistically challenged version of me.) When I asked Brynlee about drawing flowers, she shut me down and said she didn’t know how. So, to save the day as moms always do, I offered to draw the flowers and let her color them. She quickly replied, “But I might color outside the lines!”

How can she be so much like me?!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am a play by the rules, by the book, typical overachiever. If I’m not good at something, I pout. If I have no chance of winning, I’m probably not going to play. In my entire high school career, I skipped school twice. I cheated on one test in fourth grade and was convinced that my mom knew and would be flying into my classroom in 3.4 seconds to drag me up to the teacher. Granted, I am FAR from perfect, which Jason can and will attest to, but I cannot stand to bad at anything! And now, I hear that same voice coming out of my four year old’s mouth……

“But I might color outside the lines.” What did I tell her, you might ask? “Who cares?! We’re just having fun!!” But could I really take that advise?

What really might happen if I color outside the lines in my life? What if I try something and fall flat on my face? Will the world fall off its axis? Not likely. Will God fall off the throne? No way! Will my family laugh at me? Most definitely, but only because they have seen me trip over my own two feet 579 times this year. And once they contain their laughter, they will hug me and assure me everything will be okay!

A simple conversation with an adorable four year old really has me thinking, “what would happen if I color outside the lines?”  What plan does God have for me (and Jason) that might take coloring outside the lines to see HIS plan completed? So, my prayer tonight is this: “God, show us what You have for us, and the way You’ve chosen for us to take! Even if it takes a little coloring outside the lines and risk taking.”

I just might have to take a deep breath, count to ten and scribble right over the lines.

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9 years ago…..

 

 

Nine years ago tonight, I was Tabitha Hobson. I could not believe that I was about to marry my very best friend…..might I add, FINALLY marry my very best friend!! (I would post a picture of the two of us when we first started dating, but I’m not sure which of us would be most embarrassed :))

Nine years ago tonight, I was full of nerves and could barely sleep at all!!

Nine years ago tonight, I never would have dreamed that we would have shared all the laughs, tears, joys, sadness, victories, and momentary losses that we have shared in these years.

I was so excited to wear my princess dress, finally be Mrs. Jason White, and head out for our cruise. I still remember Andy having to tell me to slow down as he walked me down the aisle. He was literally holding me back from jogging down the aisle. I couldn’t stop my tears, and Jason couldn’t stop grinning. Other than Brynlee and Camryn’s birthdays, I’ve never seen Jason grin that big before.  Our wedding day was such an amazing day, and it was only the beginning of our “Life More Beautiful” than we ever would have imagined.

Nine years ago, I probably would not have thought that I would still laugh at Jason’s goofy jokes or that he would still relentlessly pick on me like I’m his little brother….both still happen on a daily basis. I probably didn’t expect that we would have two beautiful little girls that look just like Jason! And I definitely wouldn’t have imagined that one (Brynlee) would have my same attitude and personality, while the other (Camryn) is Jason in a girl’s body (the world may not be ready for her!). Or that I would still make him kill bugs for me…..he’s my knight in shining armor!

Looking back, I really didn’t know what to expect, other than spending the rest of my life with my best friend and the love of my life…..and ten years from now, I know I’ll be looking back saying the same thing again. At the time, I really thought I knew what it meant to love Jason, and in many ways I did. However, our love is SO much stronger and deeper! I cannot thank God enough for blessing me with such a hardworking, hilarious, dedicated, and mischievous husband! I may not know what the next 50 years may bring, but I can guarantee that they will be filled with laughter, love, and plenty of memories.

I love you, buddy!!!  Happy anniversary!!!!!!

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