Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sidelines vs The Game

Our journey with parenting is a bit different than most. Because of it's current part-time nature, it means our moments with Allie are that much more important than the average, every day parent. We only have so much time and so we've gotta make it really count. It's driven us to make the most of our family time and really be physically and emotionally present. In doing so, I've realized that this approach to parenting is rare and getting rarer as our technology addictions and habitual selfishness grow into dysfunctional behaviors that push us away from real relationships with depth and meaning. I've noticed that for a lot of families, as children grow old enough to be more independent, their parents choose to sit on the sidelines, watching their children's lives or even just co-existing, instead of really getting involved in their lives.

Why don't more parents play with their children?
Why don't more parents dream and create with their children?
Why don't more parents engage emotionally and spiritually with their children?
Why is that?!!
Is it laziness? Lack of interest? Not on the to-do list?

No matter what the reason, it is a shame. Your kids need to see you play and have fun, dream and be silly, imagine and create. And if you are the type of parent that wants your kid to involve you in the bigger questions and decisions in life when they are older, I think you've gotta be involved in the small things when they are younger. After all, does the baseball player who has sat on the sidelines in the dugout the whole season get called in for the final play of the big game? (No, they don't.)

And I'm not trying to imply that Zach and I are perfect parents and have it all figured out. Trust me, we feel the tension of our schedules and work and entertainment and social media and on and on. But that doesn't stop us from having costume dinner parties, and being silly, going to spontaneous late night movies, and having impromptu dance parties, and P Days, and swimming together at the Y, and family devos, and even dressing up in 80s clothes and going roller skating with the student ministry. We aren't just making memories with Allie for the sake of memories. We're doing it so that she can watch us live our life and face challenges and have adventures and rely on Christ through it all so that she can do the same when she's on her own one day. We're doing it so we have active stats and she's seen us play inning after inning after inning so that she wants us on her team when it's time for her big game.

So are you sitting on the sidelines or playing in the game? Forget the past. What you do today, tomorrow, and every day after can make all the difference in the life of your child and your relationship with them.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Snow and Skating

Last weekend was our first real snow in Charlotte this year. It was awesome! It came on so fast and snowflakes the size of cotton balls were falling from the sky in the most beautiful, silent way. We were in heaven!

The first few flakes caught by Allie
And within 15 minutes everything looked like this!
Front of our house
Backyard through the porch
Boots on our deck
On our fence!
This girl loves snow as much as me!
And she loves to eat fresh snow! (Is that ok? Ha!)
We also enjoyed 2 snowball fights in the yard. Allie was shocked that I would have one with her. When I asked her why she said, "Because you're an adult. Adults don't do things like that." Haha!! Well I am determined to prove her wrong. :)
On Sunday, I woke up and the lovely snow was still there! It didn't hang on all day, but it was a fabulous view from my bathroom window that morning.
At church, Allie got to hang out with her best pals, Emma and Annie.
As usual, they spent their time making forts out of props and furniture.
I love that although these girls are growing up, they still love to dream and play. Those were the days weren't they? :) And speaking of friends, Allie made a new one this week as well - Mr. Caleb Chadwick.
Caleb was born before Christmas, but due to his newness (and cold and flu season) he didn't have many visitors. That put his introduction to Allie back until February. Isn't he adorable? Our family loves this little guy so much!
And his mama and daddy! (Ryan not pictured. Ha!)
And his big sister AG!
And that brings me to Sunday night. Sunday night the student ministry was having a 80s themed skating party over at Kate's Skating Rink. Allie wanted to go and we were thrilled to take her since she doesn't have the opportunity to be a part of a youth group much. We got dressed up in our best 80s look and headed over to Indian Trail to join in the fun.

Allie and Ryan (Caleb's dad and student pastor of Advance, FHC's youth ministry)
  The three amigos!
The awesome potato skates! Love how Allie's laces don't match. Ha!

Daddy is ready!
 Allie is ready!
And here we go!

Allie is not the most confident skater. In fact, this was only her second time skating. The first time was 2 years ago, here at this same rink, for one of her friend's birthday parties. As she tenaciously got to the rink, she wanted to hold on to my hand for balance as we skated around. No big deal, I thought, so I helped her along and kept her balanced as we circled around. We had only gone around the rink a few times when Allie lost her balance and fell, accidentally pulling me down with her. I just thought it was a basic, skating fall, but as I felt my sore chin that had hit the floor, I found something much different.


Lots of blood. I quickly hopped up, found a volunteer to stay with Allie and skated off to the bathroom as fast as possible. Blast! My chin had been busted open and it did not look pretty. Allie was very upset since she felt like it was her fault, but I assured her it was just an accident. My mom radar was going strong and I kept my cool so Allie didn't worry. Zach was certain I needed stitches though so off to Urgent Care we went. This was definitely NOT how I expected the night to go. Ha!
The Urgent Care visit was short and sweet... and they better not bill me for the one bandaid they gave me. They did not feel comfortable stitching me up without xrays so they sent me on to the emergency room. Luckily, the nearest emergency room did not have a wait so it was a fairly short visit. (Side note: I have not been into the emergency room since I was 9 or 10 and split my forehead open. I got it butterflied, so this would be my first set of stitches.)

Waiting with my hospital bracelet. Weird.
I felt so bad for Allie though. You see while she was in Charlotte with us, her mom had been hospitalized for some complications with her pregnancy. As we pulled onto the hospital property Allie said, "Are you going to have to stay overnight? Because I don't think I can handle both my moms in the hospital." Ha! Poor sweet girl. Zach and I assured her I would be in and out as quickly as possible and just getting a few stitches. I didn't want Allie to witness any of my medical treatment, so I left her and Zach in the waiting room while the doctor stitched me up. And Dr. Beth did a pretty good job if I do say so myself.
The worst part about it was by far the headache I had before we starting skating escalating into a full on migraine. It erupted into agonizing waves of pain while I was being stitched up and after. I honestly thought I was going to have an aneurysm right there at the hospital. Luckily Zach and Allie got me some Excedrin that resolved my pain about 30 minutes after leaving the hospital. These two sweet people also got me a Big Kiss and a Little Kiss to cheer me up (which was a funny twist of an inside joke of ours from the movie Nacho Libre). It was hilarious and I loved their thoughtfulness and wit.

(photo taken the following day)

Even though the night did not go as expected, I was so thankful for MANY things.

  1. That I got hurt instead of Allie. Praise the Lord! 
  2. That all I did was bust open my chin and not damage my teeth or face in any other way. I have a major phobia about something happening to my teeth so  praise the Lord!
  3. That I did not have to wait long to receive medical care. The incident happened around 6:30 and we were home before 9 pm! Praise the Lord!
  4. That I have insurance. Praise the Lord!
  5. That Dr. Beth did a good job and I will have a very tiny scar.
  6. That Zach was able to care for Allie while I was being attended to. They even had the family worship night Zach and I had planned for later that evening at home, in the car while I was in the ER. Praise the Lord!
  7. That I have friends who are nurses that can take my stitches out today so I don't have to go back to Urgent Care of the ER. Praise the Lord!

Even though I had this unexpected trip to the ER, everything turned out fine and when we got home we all enjoyed gluten free pizza, some cookies, and a good movie! It ended up being a great night with my family and that's all I can ask for.

And even though we did lots of fun things over the past few days, I'd say that my favorite moments are the ones not captured by a camera. They are the conversations and the hugs and the family devos, and praying for each other, and just... continuing to build strong, healthy, meaningful relationships with our family. I really feel like God slows down time for us when Allie is here and multiples it! We are so blessed and I can't wait for Allie to be back for spring break. It's gonna be awesome!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Art and History

Last weekend our Allie drought finally ended. Praise God! If was so wonderful having Allie back with us and our family complete. As usual, we crammed a lot of quality time into a short amount of actual time. I'm gonna break this into two posts so it doesn't drone on forever!

Zach took Saturday off so he could spend more time with Allie. We decided to spend it checking out some of the sites downtown we had never visited before. One of them was the McColl Center for Visual Arts.
Located in Uptown Charlotte, the MCVA is located in a former Presbyterian church. This gothic-revival structure was designed by J.M. McMichael and built in 1926.
Unfortunately, due to a variety of factors, the church's membership dissolved in the 1950s.  The building was sold in 1981 and stood empty for many years. In 1984, a homeless woman sought refuge in the abandoned structure and accidentally burned it down. Nothing was left but an empty shell. For over 10 years it sat, black and crumbling, until Bank of America bought it with the intent of establishing an urban artist's community. Four years later, the 30,000 sq ft renovation was complete. The doors of the McColl Center have been opened since 1999 and it is now a nationally acclaimed contemporary art center dedicated to connecting art and artists with the community. The center houses 9 artist studios and more than 5,000 sq ft of gallery space that is free to the public. The artist studios are filled with artists participating in the residency program which is dedicated to supporting artists from every corner of the globe. Due to the cyclical nature of the residency program, new artists are constantly moving in to the center so there is always something new to see.
I love this brick
Walking through the galleries

Our favorite collection was by Mary Tsiongas
Favorite piece
Using green screen effects, a figure is superimposed on a landscape painting by Albert Bierstadt. The figure interacts with and appears to digitally manipulate the painting. This piece explores time, as well as a historical space between painting and digital media.

Exploring amazing studio space for residences
and their work
After a delicious gluten-free lunch at Toast
we headed over to explore the Billy Graham Library. Zach and I were stunned that Allie had never heard of him before! The Billy Graham Library is actually not a library at all. We were stunned by the 40,000 sq ft facility that shares the life and legacy of America's most famous evangelist. Designed to reflect Billy Graham's journey from "a humble farm boy to an international ambassador of God's love," the barn-shaped building is situated on 20 beautiful acres not far from the place Billy Graham grew up.

The tour starts with Bessie, a talking cow from Billy's childhood farm
and includes everything from video footage from the beginning of his ministry
to equipment from his radio show
to a plethora of memorabilia and photographs from his life. 
Billy Graham's preaching bible
Travel bag and passports
Guns turned in by converted gang members
Photographs of Billy with everyone from Walt Disney to Martin Luther King to Johnny Cash. He was also a spiritual consultant to 11 US presidents. 
Billy's motorcycle, given to him by some foreign dignitary
At the very end of the tour, after the final theatre, there is an array of illuminated, glass crosses that lead to a humongous Thomas Kincaid painting. 
Allie holding one of the crosses
About 1/4 of the Kincaid painting
In addition to touring through the library, Ruth Graham's grave site, and memorial prayer garden, you can also tour through Billy's childhood home that has been restored and relocated to the property. The house was originally built in 1927 on a dairy farm about 4 miles from where it stands today.

Zach and Allie walking inside
You can walk through the main floor of the house which includes the living room, dining room, office, sitting room, and kitchen. It's pretty cool to see all this old stuff in pristine condition. It's like going back in time. :)
The Billy Graham Library truly impressed us. Not only were we blown away by the story of Billy Graham and how it was presented, but by how intentionally they created the library to be a place that people can come to know and follow Christ. This truly carries on Billy Graham's legacy while bringing Jesus all the honor and glory. We totally recommend you visit this place (it's free) if you ever visit Charlotte. 

All in all we had an awesome art and history day exploring the treasures of Charlotte. I love our city and my family!