Saturday, October 29, 2011

Romantic Getaway

Oh how I love time away with my main man. We try to do regular date nights, but we also try to get away for a few nights each year. We so value our time alone as husband and wife. We love our kids but we know that there will come a day when they will leave our home and we want to make sure we still know each other intimately and have passion for our marriage. So we get away.

We had purchased a Groupon for a rustic B&B about an hour from our house. Wednesday late afternoon, we left the kiddos with Mimi K and headed for Circle S Ranch. Our "Romantic Package" included 2 nights, breakfast each morning, a 1 hour massage for each of us, and a picnic lunch. We loved the ranch, it was so private and peaceful. It was a great time of year. (FYI - We did get a heads up that they might be doing another Groupon for the summer, it is a great deal worth watching for).

The Ranch

Our picnic

View from our room, the color was amazing

Sunset view from our window

I loved the rolling hills

7 years down, I look forward to many more

To top it off, we loved coming home yesterday evening to watch the Cardinals take it all! Go Cards!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mimi K and fall

Mimi K has been here since Friday and we have been enjoying our time together. It is fun for her to see Fall as Florida doesn't show off too many colors this time of year. The weather has been amazing, we took full advantage of the warmer weather knowing that today, the cold weather is approaching. 

Mimi starts full-time duty with the kids today as Steve and I are heading out for 2 nights to a B&B in the middle of nowhere to celebrate our anniversary. We got a Groupon for the couples romantic package and are looking forward to taking full advantage of it. Thanks Mimi!

A place my heart can rest

Oh friends, don't we all long for a place our hearts can rest. Not just our body and mind, but our hearts.

The current women's bible study I am doing is Beth Moore's Beloved Disciple. This mornings homework so touched my heart. 

1 John 3:19-20
19 This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence:20 If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything.

Our hearts trick us, deceive us, are oversensitive and fall apart, but if we are in Christ (if we have given control of our lives to Christ and actively pursue a relationship with him) he has declared active love to be a part of salvation. He knows all, he knows our hearts (even when our actions say differently) and in spite of our shortcomings, he is God and he is Love.

1 John 4:18
18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

He knows our hearts, he see's how our hearts trick us, but wants us to experience His perfect love that drives out fear, we are His, we will spend eternity with Him, let your heart rest in that.

Ephesians 3:18-19
And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 Christ's love for us is an absolute reality,  but we can be so emotionally unhealthy that we refuse to experience and absorb it into our hearts and minds. Many people resist God because they imagine him to be very condemning. In reality, we are more condemning and emotionally dangerous. It is as if Christ could say "I am perplexed with all your talk about whether or not you can trust me. Actually your heart can be at complete rest in My presence. My love is perfectly healthy. The greater risk is in My entrusting Myself to you." Our unhealthy hearts not only condemns us, but they also condemn others. We don't have to be raised in severely dysfunctional homes to develop unhealthy hearts. All we have to do is expose ourselves to life. Life can be heartless and mean. Purely and simply, life hurts. God hopes that we'll turn to Him to heal us from the ravages of natural life and make us healthy ambassadors of abundant life in an unhealthy world. Even the thing we secretly believe makes us unlovable and unloving. Knowing all things, God loves us lavishly. God's method of healing a condemning heart is to love it to death, then create in us a new heart. A healthier heart. A heart filled with faith instead of fear. His perfect love is the only thing that will drive out our fear. (This paragraph was my highlights from the whole homework, those are all Beth's words, not mine, but what my hearts cries out).

Hurt people hurt people. I had recently written (yes I have had some heavy posts recently) about God working on me. One area is my attitude, more specifically a judgmental spirit. I hadn't considered myself to be judgmental, I feel like I accept people and love them. As we walk with the Lord and open ourselves up, He oh so kindly points out deeper areas that might not be evident on the surface. I was quick to judge actions, not the heart of people. God has been showing me to search the heart, He searches mine and accepts mine no matter the lies it tells me, who am I to make a judgment call on anyone else's heart. I know I want to let my heart rest in the one who accepts me even in my humanness, and lavishes His love all over me, the one who is so pleased with me. Friends I hope we can all learn to let our hearts rest in the safest place there is and in turn love and accept others hearts as well. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

How about them boots!

I promise I will not blog every time I get an amazing deal on something. I had a POST last month about some CHEAP clothes that I got, we are talking good clothes for $1, $2, $3.

I am not sure if I am more excited about the last deal or this one. I have been saving money for about 2 months (watching a few extra kiddos) so I could buy some nice, real leather riding boots. I had planned on spending about $250 for them. I had found some decently cute ones (and really cheap $) from Target that had been returned from an online purchase, but Steve helped encourage me to get ones that will last for years that I really like.

Saturday Mom and I stopped by Nordstrom Rack (which just opened less than a month ago here in KC) to check out their boot selection before heading to the full price stores. I found these boots, the style was exactly what I wanted, but I wasn't sure about the color. They were a little more worn than I had originally thought I wanted. When I saw the price tag, I decided that they were definitely worth getting because I might find that I like the color when I see my other choices. Retail $220 for $99, that sounds great to me. Here is where the story get's exciting (at least for those of us who enjoy a great deal). As I was checking out, I pull the the big $ bill to pay for these, I look at the register to see the exact final price and I see $32.85. The cashier couldn't believe it and said she had to give me that price, but wanted to check it again just for her curiosity. Long story short, mom went back and got the pair in her size that she had seen and we were talking with the manager as we stood in line and she said that they must have missed a markdown. So mom and I both walked out with a pair of 100% leather, adorable riding boots for under $35!

(Sister wanted to show off her boots that are 1 size too big that she insists on wearing since mommy is wearing boots).

Friday, October 21, 2011

Got my hair did

The "right after in the car" shot
Ooooo, I am super excited. I found someone in KS who did an excellent job with my hair! For some of you, you understand the excitement, others are thinking "really Erin, get a life!"

Here is the back story. We have lived in KS almost 4 years (that in itself is crazy to me). When we first moved here I got a few really bad haircuts back-to-back. 3 years ago I had to cut all my hair off to my chin (I was not very excited about that). Every since then, I went to my main man Fernando in Orlando. He is amazing, but he is in Florida and I am KS. It has been almost a year since I got my haircut, because of the distance. Hair cuts get expensive when you have to factor in a plane flight.

I think my hair shouldn't be too hard, as it is straight and long. But somehow I have often received what I like to call "redneck layers." No offense to any redneck friends but those are the layers that are so choppy and don't blend well. Not sure how I came up with that expression, but it has stuck.

Home, still so happy, let's hope I can curl it the same way
I have been hesitant about finding someone here because of my past experiences. I understand that Kansas City is a large city and there are probably a lot of people who do hair really well.  All that to say, that today I went to have my friend Stephanie's sister Emily, and she cut my hair. I am so pleased! She also spent time curling it and showing me how to do it myself. So for all those friends who have asked me in the past about someone local for a good haircut, I have your girl!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Just hanging out

Not too much going on around here this week. The weather has been much cooler this week, we are still trying to get outside while we can, but I am such a wimp. The kids don't seem as bothered as I am.

Sister has been wanting to ride her bike a lot. We ride to her friend Elizabeth's house who lives in a cul-de-sac so we don't have to worry so much about cars flying by our house. 

Most of the time, Buster is happy as can be. He has 2 more teeth that have popped through, for a total of 6 teeth. He is cruising around furniture and stands up leaning against something but not using his hands. Sister didn't walk until 15 months, I have a feeling he will be much sooner.

Sister loves going into Buster's room in the morning to get him up. 

This evening was a hard evening, 2 very fussy kids and a husband that is out of town, but as I post these pictures and look at my children, I am reminded how blessed I am.

My mom comes in town tomorrow for a week, we are so excited to have her in Kansas!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

7 Years as a Southards

7 years ago today, we committed our lives to each other - Happy Anniversary Mr. Southards
(our vows we wrote)
Erin, I love you and I desire to spend the rest of my life with you. Today I commit to you my life. You are the one that through out life’s journey, I desire to humbly succeed with and gracefully fail with.

Erin, I bring a heart full of promised to you. I promise a richness of love that you have only dreamed about. A love that is so strong that is can only come from the one who is connected to the Creator of love Himself. I promise a love that sacrifices, submitting myself for the sake of oneness with you. Erin, no matter what life brings our way, I promise that it will be your name I gently whisper, your eyes I long to look into and your lips I desire to kiss.

My pledge to you is a commitment that is unshakable, a hope that is unbreakable, and a love that is eternal.

Erin, God created you and your parents have raised you for a time such as this. I promise to your parents, everyone here, to God and you that I will cherish you, protect you, lead you and love you I promise to.

Steve, today I commit my life, my heart, my mind, my soul and my body to you. You alone will I adore.

Steve, I commit to be your wife and lover forever, your best friend to hang out with, your biggest fan to cheer you on, your caretaker when you are sick, your safe-haven when the world has you down and your partner in ministry.

I confidently submit myself to your leadership. Through pressures and uncertainties of the future, I will faithfully stand beside you and support you.

I love you Stephen Edward Southards, on this day I pledge myself to you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Pruning and Bearing Fruit

***** I wrote this post over 2 weeks ago, read this then see my follow-up thoughts *****

Wednesday evening during Bible Study we were discussing how God's written word (the Bible) is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training. My mind went back to November 2009...

(my journal entry)

Nov 16th, 2009
        I felt like the Spirit got me out of bed this morning (it was very early) and invited me to have time with the Lord. I turned to John 15, this is what I feel like the Lord spoke to me after reading that scripture

"I (God) want to help you bear much fruit. I have big plans for your life, but I need you to stay grounded in me so I can prune you in the ways that will help you bear much fruit in the long run. You will be going through a pruning season. I have not left you, this is for your ultimate benefit and my glory. Please stay with me in this time. Please run to me in this time. Quiet yourself, turn to me, learn to need only me. Quietness is the key. Be slow to speak, quick to listen. Listen to my spirit, listen to my word, listen to others. I have entrusted you with much, I want you in great spiritual shape to be fit to fight the long battle. Steve will need you, I want you to be prepared and grounded in me so deeply.

I want to give you eyes more like mine, I want to break your heart with what breaks mine. I want to take you out of your box. This is to my glory, that you will bear much fruit, showing yourself to be my disciple.

Obey my commands, understand my commands more deeply. Erin, what does it really mean to you to love me and love others? I want to give you my joy, complete, not lacking"

Let me start by saying there have only been a few times in my life, where I have quieted my spirit and mind long enough to really hear something like that from the Lord. I did not hear an audible voice, I just wrote down what was coming to my mind.

I have to smile about the last 2 years, now that I am on this side of it. I am so thankful the Lord prepared me. I have gone through so many "internal" things the last few years. My world was not shaken by terrible events happening around me (I was a little worried what "pruning" looked like, was I going to loose things close to me). But my mind and attitude were pruned big time! Without sharing too much, because even though I believe in being so authentic there are still some things that aren't the world's business, I would definitely share details and my heart with someone if I thought it would help them on their journey, but to throw it all out there on a blog, where you really might not get it all, I would rather not. 

God has delivered me from lies that I had believed for almost 15 years. I knew I had some "pain" from experiences from the days of high school, but the Lord showed me how the enemy so carefully strung lies into my story for the last 15 years, eventually affecting my marriage. Through Beth Moore's study Breakthrough, and with the favor of the Lord, I have been released from those lies and live in truth. 

God has so helped my attitude towards certain people and situations. No those people and situations haven't changed, but my attitude has, what a difference that makes.

God has stripped away my dependence on others. Some of those relationships being my own family who are amazing people. God ultimately is the only one who will not let you down, being able to find purpose through him, has allowed me to free others from my expectations and personal need for fulfillment. 

God's word and Spirit are alive and active. He wants to speak to you, slow down long enough to allow him to pour words of love, acceptance, beauty, challenge, encouragement, praise, accountability, whatever you need in your moment, His word will minister to your soul. I have so much contentment in life right now, I am so thankful that God's word is alive and available, if we choose to listen.

***** Follow-up 2 weeks later*****

I had shared some of that with my Monday morning Bible study that I am a part of. I was at such a great point of gratitude and contentment. I was living with the filter that my grass is just as green as the other side, it isn't about comparison or what we don't have, but being thankful for the many blessings. 

Then I felt like I heard the Lord again. I have been experiencing intense pregnancy-like symptoms (nausea, fatigue, food adversity, lack of period, etc) and I really thought I was pregnant. Tests kept coming back negative, but I had no idea what was causing these symptoms. One morning in my quiet time I felt like I heard the Lord tell me that I had Cancer and I needed to go to the doctor right away. You can imagine that my heart sunk, I put down my pen, got down on my knees and cried out to God. Was this from him? Was this a physical thing, or spiritually did I have a foreign object that needed to be removed from my soul? Was this a word from Him, or something from the Prince of Darkness, the enemy that seeks to kill, steal and destroy?

One of the things on my 30 before Thirty list is to follow the promptings of God, even if they don't make sense. Something I learned along this journey is that if you think that you hear something from God, put it to the test. Ask him, seek verification in His Word. If it is physical, seek medical attention to test it. That is what I did.

Long story short, I went to my family Doctor (who is amazing Christian man) and I told him exactly what was going on. He was sensitive to it, I was a little nervous that he was going to think I was some crazy making up physical problems, but I was being obedient, and couldn't care. After 2 weeks of testing, poking and proding, there does not seem to be any physical reason for my symptoms and Cancer does not seem to be an issue. I did verify over and over that I wasn't pregnant. 

(Just a heads up, this is a random side note) - I have not dealt with fertility issues or miscarriage. So many of my close friends have. Seems like more than not, have had to wrestle through pregnancy issues. For 1.5 weeks I really believed in my heart I was pregnant. All the signs pointed that way (even in the grocery the very sight of food made me want to vomit, and the man who walked by me in the produce section, his cologne made me want to hurry outside to hurl). So in my heart I really believed it, I was already planning things, the kiddos would be 18 months apart, I hope it is a boy so him and Buster can share a room since I have a great decorating idea (yes my mind goes there), I am so excited for another blessing, on and on and on. So when the initial blood work came back negative for pregnancy, I really experienced loss and disappointment. I understand that physically there really wasn't a baby inside of me, but my head and heart had felt otherwise.  The disappointment stayed for awhile like a black cloud lingering over me, then another part of me had thought that if I am not pregnant, is it something serious like Cancer? Fear wanted to creep up inside, I had to pray hard for that to stay away. I do appreciate that going through this has made me more sensitive to women who have dealt with loss, I know I don't fully understand everyone's situation (really none of us know what it is like to walk in another's shoes, let's not forget that and start judging)

I do believe my hormones are just still way out of whack. Last Sunday was my worst day, I could barely peel myself off the couch, but each day this week has gotten better.  I really never got any specific reason for the feelings, as far as the Cancer word, I have such peace that I tested it and it isn't true, so I believe it wasn't a word from God. Sometimes that is hard to decipher, so the best thing to do is put it to the test, and praise him the whole way through.

I don't believe that it is a coincidence that right when I am so grateful and content, trials come my way. Sure they weren't anything large, but little nuisances, testing to see how solid my foundation is. I pray that I learn through these smaller trials, so Lord help me, if something large comes my way, my roots are deep into my faith of my God.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Extra kiddos to love and a new roof

Yes, this is a post of random events, all the pictures thrown together in one post, call my lazy :)

Well Sister had her boyfriend stay the night. Don't worry, they were in separate beds. The Zimmers went to Colorado and we kept Ethan from Saturday until today. I got a glimpse of what it is like being a mother of 3, and when you add a 2.5 year-old instead of a baby, it really wasn't much different. The mornings were a little more hectic trying to get out the door for school, but all in all we had a great time, Ethan was so well behaved and I think I am ready to add another Steve/Erin offspring to the mix (yet that probably won't happen until my son detaches himself from the boobies).

Monday afternoon we had 2 of sister's other friends (Adi and Eastin) over as well. I have been watching the girls the last 2 months, 2 afternoons a week while their mom coached volleyball. Monday was my last day watching them and I know sister is going to be very upset. She loves having the girls over. So yes, if you are doing your math, Monday I had 5 kids under 4 years old. They actually did really well until about 5 o'clock when they started getting irritated at each other and I deemed it movie time. 

Ethan, Payton, Adi, Eastin

Buster tends to be distracting

* Side note, our formal sitting/dining room conversion to play room is nearing completion (you can see the progress behind the kiddos), I will post on that soon.

The other fun we had this week was we got a new roof. Exciting yes, but also limiting. That meant for 3 days we had men pounding and walking all over our roof. I tried Buster's morning nap in the basement and he wasn't having it. So Tuesday we spent the whole day in the van. Buster took his morning nap, then we picked up sister from school. 
While she did this,

Buster and I did this!

Thankfully it was a beautiful day (like every other day the last 6 weeks) so after sister woke up we got Sonic happy hour and went to another park. 

Once we got E-man from school we went to our friends the Branton's house for dinner. When we got home at 7:30, the roofers were still there, in the dark, pounding on the roof! Thankfully, they cleaned up not long after we got home, because E-man was not digging them pounding on the roof above his bed.  Wednesday and Thursday Buster was able to nap at home, since the roofers were more on the edges and I used a white noise app (one of the best apps I have on my iphone) to drown out the noise. Sister on the other-hand was too enamored with men being on our roof and all over the outside of the house, naps didn't happen for her. Whenever we would walk out of the house, she would say "ooooo, thank you for our fixing our roof." She was disappointed because they never replied, nevermind the fact they didn't speak English and they most likely couldn't hear her. 
Steve and sister went to the lake, Buster and I am holding down the fort, looking forward to a quiet weekend! Think we are going to head to the Plaza and stay as long as we want, Steve doesn't enjoy going there as much, so I take advantage of his absence and do the things I want in KC :)

Saturday, October 8, 2011

DIY Gator Yarn Wreath

In honor of football season, I made this wreath

Since we live in the middle of the US, far from Gator Country, I can't go to the store to buy my Gator gear, so I make it. I had been wanting to do a yarn wreath and thought this would be a good excuse. 

I referred to this tutorial to make mine wreath.

We have a big game today, even with our #1 QB out, I still  have faith in the boys.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pumpkin Patch

After my humbling run Saturday morning we headed to the pumpkin patch with the Zimmers. This is our 3rd year in a row going to the same patch. It was a beautiful day.

Loading up for pumpkin hunt

Finding the perfect pumpkin

Little man waiting patiently in the wagon

Sister showing Buster her find

Mike surveying the Zimmer's finds



Happy Fall!