Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Busy Baby!

Piper has been a busy little baby this week. She's beginning to crawl better and this week was the first time she'd ever set off on her own to explore. We had to put a rubber band around our TV stand doors since she discovered that they open and loves pulling out the DVDs. Keeleigh has learned to keep her bedroom door closed as well because Piper has learned to pull the CDs off her media tower. I've picked up our magazines several times and had to put our Christmas cactus up high so that she doesn't dig in the soil!

Today I started supper and grabbed a skillet from our cabinet. When Piper saw the door open her little eyes lit up. I just couldn't bear to close the door and deny her a little fun. Everyone knows that boxes are a kid's favorite toy and that pots and pans are number two! Piper quickly pulled out as many pots and pans and bowls as she could then much to my surprise she climbed right in the cabinet! It was so cute that I just had to grab the camera and share.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Photo Friday x2

I'm playing catch up this week for not posting any photos last Friday. I have a good excuse, though. I've been busy! Last Friday my friend, Jennifer, came from Alabama to visit with us over Mardi Gras. Unfortunately that day Jathan came down with strep throat so I was at the doctor's office with him Saturday morning. By Saturday afternoon we were off to Mississippi to visit with the Lawrence's and for Jackie to preach at their church Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon we headed back to NOLA. Monday we went to the Sculpture Gardens with Jennifer and later that day my parents arrived along with Keeleigh. Tuesday we got up bright and early to head to the Mardi Gras parades. During the parades Piper and Ryland didn't feel well and ran fevers the rest of the night into Wednesday. I feared they might have caught Jathan's strep so the doctor called them in an antibiotic and we stayed inside the rest of the day and Thursday. Today they seem better and haven't run a fever since Wednesday so we ventured out to PE. Whew! So here's two weeks worth of pictures for your viewing pleasure! = )

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I spy...a closet full of toys and one little boy!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Little Miss LeeAnna helping Piper get a drink. If LeeAnna catches sight of Piper she makes sure you know that's a "baby!" I think it's so cute because LeeAnna is barely bigger than the baby herself!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Jathan and Ryland turned this box into a spaceship and were flying to Alabama. Ryland decided to pack light!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Wednesday, February 17, 2012

I wonder if this huge box of Moon Pie's will help me fit back into those pants I was complaining were too big? Ha ha!

Thursday, February 18, 2012

Piper sporting her Christmas present from Uncle Jeremy. It reads, "If you think I'm cute, you should see my Uncle Jeremy!"

Friday, February 19, 2012

We visited the aquarium with Jennifer. All the kids enjoyed the fish but Jathan was mainly ready to get to the gift shop!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

After a quick visit to the doctor for Jathan, we headed to Mississippi to visit with our first NOLA neighbors who are now ministering at a church there. It was a tad bit wet out!


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Jackie got the opportunity to share a devotional with the Lawrence's church and also show them a slideshow of some pictures from Israel.

Monday, February 20, 2012

We visited the sculpture garden on this day. Jathan thought the sculptures were great to climb on. He even helped this one pick her nose. Somehow I don't think that's what the artist originally envisioned.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mardi Gras!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One of my favorite breakfasts: a plain blueberry poptart with butter!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Nana and Pappy brought Piper a very cool new rug for her room!

Friday, February 24, 2012

A family toured our apartment this morning so we made sure everything was neat and tidy! I knew it wouldn't last long so I made sure to snap a pic of it.

Mardi Gras

AKA the biggest party on Earth!

Fat Tuesday was this week and we got to celebrate with one of my friends from way back when and my mom and dad. It was Jennifer and Mom and Dad's first Mardi Gras so that made it extra fun! Here are a few pictures from our day.

Keeleigh scored big time with throws. Doesn't she look festive?

Mom and Dad gearing up for the parade!

Me and Jennifer sporting our sugar skull shirts. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Dad and Argus

I love this picture of Keeleigh because now that she's older I don't get many shots of her when she's not posing. She loves Mardi Gras parades and I caught her in a moment with a REAL smile on her face!

Me and my sweet, sickly Piper girl.

Jackie and Jathan who had a lot of fun even though he doesn't look like it in this picture.

And Ryland conked out from all the fun he had. I can't believe he could actually sleep amidst all the noise but he took a good long nap on the side of the street. Ha ha!

Actually I think we all could have stood a nap after we left the parade. It wore us out but we walked away with a huge box full of beads, three grocery sacks full of stuffed animals and toys, three or four boas, a fleur de lis umbrella, and tons of other stuff not to mention wonderful memories of good times with family and friends. I can't wait until next year!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Happy Birthday to the King of our Krewe!

On this day 38 years ago, my world changed. I, in fact, was not yet even a twinkle in my parents eye but God was already working having planned out our days since before the dawn of time. He knew that the events of that day in a small Alabama town would someday mean everything to someone. It was on that day that Jackie was born. His mother had passed away before we met so I didn't get to hear her tell the tale. I didn't get to hear any stories about his childhood mischief (oh, I know there must have been some good ones!). I didn't even know him until he was a man.

But I thank God that I have gotten to know that man. I do too often find fault in him but the truth is that he is a very good man. One of the first things I fell in love with him for was his Christianity. I had never known someone so dedicated to praying before. It actually used to irritate me because he prayed and waited on direction from God before jumping in to something (like I was prone to do)! No, he's not perfect but he is in love with a perfect Savior who is transforming him before my very eyes. I've seen him mature so much over the last 8 years; it's incredible.

I know seminary has been a special challenge for Jackie. Like all students he has had to try to juggle family responsibilities, a 30+ hour a week job, and full time studies. I'm sad to say that I have not always supported him like I should. There have been times when I've made him feel inadequate when he has always done nothing but sacrifice for the ones he loves.

And what a joy it is to see him with those he loves! The first night they met, Keeleigh became his buddy. She used to block the door trying to keep him home. Through wrestling on the bed and tickle fights and jumping on the trampoline, he brought out a different side of her. He loved her when he really didn't have to--enough to make her his own. I'll never forget those early years when we first became a family and I got to see him settle into his role as Daddy.

Our Family


Since then we've added a few to our fold. Though Jathan is a certified Mama's boy, nothing could replace Jackie's presence in his life. We're at the stage now that as soon as Jackie hits the door in the evening Jathan's first words to him are "Daddy, let's FIGHT!"

Ryland is TOTALLY Daddy's boy. When he was a baby, Daddy rocked him to sleep at night. When he became a toddler, he needed Daddy to kiss his boo boos. Not much has changed. His eyes light up at the sight of his dad.

I think Piper thinks her dads okay, too, as long as her mama isn't anywhere nearby! I know that as she grows she will come to know of the love he has for her. I see it in his eyes; she's Daddy's little girl!

And of course I can't mentioned the people he loves without talking about myself. I knew that I loved Jackie very soon after we met but it has taken me longer to see how much he loves me. He loves me by not always loving me in the way I think I should be loved. When I want to sull up and not talk, he draws the words out of me. He puts up with me when I'm moody and emotional. He has taken me places I never thought I'd go and introduced me to foods I never thought I'd eat. He's rubbed my tired shoulders at the end of long days and stayed up with me long nights through births and sicknesses. He's driven across town just to get me a burger at 9 o'clock at night and just last night he volunteered to fix me some cheese sticks at midnight! He indulges me. He's been someone I could trust to the utmost all along. Because that's just who he is.

I can't wait to see what the rest of his life brings. I can't wait to see him pastor a church and get to love on those people. I can't wait to see him bounce grandchildren on his knee. There's no one else I'd rather grow old with! Thank You, God, for this special day in history. Thank You for Jackie and all that he is!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Story of Us

Do you like love stories? Who doesn't! Well, as Jackie and I prepare to celebrate our 7th anniversary tomorrow I'm ruminating on ours. It had an unexpected beginning and several surprising twists some of which threw me off so badly that I'm only now beginning to see how beautifully the Master Author has written it. I know it has had to have been in His hands because I seriously couldn't make some of this stuff up.

Though Jackie and I didn't meet until 2004, but I will begin our story in 1998. That year I was 15 and pregnant. I suppose everyone thinks a baby will change your life to some degree but few people understand just to what degree that is. Because of Keeleigh a lot of things were different in my life. I traded in some of my freedom as a teenager for bottles and diapers. I remember I used to leave school and tell my friends, "Well, I'm off to play house."

"Don't you wish you were just playing?" a friend asked. Really? I didn't. I was proud to have Keeleigh as my daughter from the moment those two pink lines popped up on the stick.

Fast forward a couple of years. I was a junior in high school and in love, certain that this guy was THE ONE. He was a musician and Nashville bound so I researched high paying positions in Nashville that required as little college as possible. At the the top of my findings was the paralegal profession. So I enrolled in our local community college thinking I'd be on my way in two years. Guess what? That didn't happen! My high school sweetheart and I barely made it a few months after graduation before our relationship dissolved. By that time I was immersed in my studies however and the next summer I worked as an intern at the District Attorney's office. I felt very fortunate to be gain that experience and loved the ladies that I worked with. One of those ladies invited me to bring Keeleigh to VBS at her church. While I'd visited churches throughout my life and considered myself a Christian, I definitely didn't have a church to call my own and was floundering spiritually. Taking Keeleigh to VBS was a turning point in my life. That church became home--a place of warmth and love emanating from the kind people who made it up.

Something was missing, however. I had dated a couple of guys and looking back, I just needed them to be there to keep my company. I was bored and lonely and they filled that space in my heart or so I thought. Eventually I found myself alone. Then one day at church I had a change of heart. We had a guest speaker (Paul Long, do you remember that day?) and while I don't remember the entire message I do remember him calling his wife up to the front and washing her feet, praising her for her faithful love to him. I remember him calling the husbands up to the front to pray with their families, urging them to be the men that God intended them to be. And there I sat--the loser single mother with my innocent child on the empty church pew. With tear-filled eyes I picked Keeleigh up and carried her to the front to pray. Within seconds a friendly arm wrapped itself around my heavy shoulders. "I know what you're going through," the owner of those arms told me. Then she prayed with me lifting me up before my loving Father, the same Father who'd seen her through single motherhood and had blessed her with a caring husband. My prayer that day went something like this, "God, you know the desire of my heart. I'm lonely and I want to be married. But if that's not what You want for me, God, then I'll give up that desire. I'm going to wait on You."

Months passed and within those months I confess that I did keep my eyes open for potential mates. I tried to make it clear to guys who asked me out that I wasn't in it just to kill time but that I was looking for something serious. I only went on two lunch dates (because lunch seemed so much less official to me?). Pretty soon those kind women I'd gotten to know at church started helping God along, ha ha! They suggested several different eligible bachelors in the church and each time I said, "No." Then one day they simply gave one guy my number and he called me at work asking to meet over lunch. I agreed.

That was the first day I set eyes on my husband.

Traci and Jackie

I like to remind him that I knew pretty early in the game that he and I were meant to be. Part of my confidence in that fact was the relationship that developed between he and Keeleigh. Back then Keeleigh was very shy. The first night they met he ended up wrestling on the floor with her, reading her a bedtime story, and tucking her into bed. I'm pretty sure I was standing back the whole time with my mouth hanging open because she had never taken to anyone like that before. She used to stand at the door when it was time for Jackie to go home and try to block his way!

Keeleigh and Jackie asleep

Jackie's First Day of School

Ten months after we met, we went on a date to Chattanooga. I should have known something was up because Auburn was playing ball that night and Jackie wasn't watching it! We did a little shopping then went to dinner at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. After dinner we took a horse-drawn carriage ride and it was in that carriage that he pulled a ring out of his pocket and asked me to marry him. Again, I was left with my mouth hanging open! The driver of the carriage even said she was afraid I was going to say no because of the pause. I was simply, delightfully surprised. Of course I said, "Yes," and pushed for a short engagement. On February 5, 2005, I became Mrs. Jackie Combs.

The Kiss

It's hard to believe that seven years have passed since that day.

Card from Keeleigh (back)
Second Anniversary Card from Keeleigh <3
Card from Keeleigh (front)

I'd like to say it's been all sunshine and rainbows but that would be a lie. Of course we've had truly wonderful times and have joyfully added three children to our family. 



We've moved 450 miles from that place where God first drew us together--another leg of our amazing journey--but there have been times when the emotional distance between us seemed even further than that. The ties that bind have been strained and we've struggled tremendously within and without. But I can truly say that I know I have a husband who loves me as Christ loves the church. Through him and the children he's given me, God has taught me so much about love and what it truly means. I don't feel as if I could even put into adequate words what I've learned. I've learned when to hold on and when to let go. I've learned when to bend so that we won't break. I've learned that there's a greater part of me that can only live outside of me--it's called love.

I pray that in our seventh year our love will deepen and that we will grow as partners, as parents, and as people. I pray that I will be the wife that he needs me to be, that God needs me to be for His glory to shine through. Reflecting on the marvelous way that God has tied up all my loose ends and woven them together into a fine tapestry helps lead me toward that conclusion. I pray that tapestry, the one bearing the story of us, will be held up for all the world to see and that what the world sees is the miracle of love--sacrificial, patient, kind, and enduring throughout the ages. 

I love you, Jackie. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Photo Friday

Friday, January 27, 2012 This photo was from last week but I wanted to share it anyway because it was such a cute moment. Jathan had invited one of his favorite girls (after Mama and his sisters, of course) up to play and they were watching a movie on the couch eating popcorn. Eden was so flirty and giggly and you could just in his eyes that Jathan was eating it up, ha ha!

Saturday, January 28, 2012 Piper in her sleepy wrap. I can't tell you how much I love that thing and I'm sure Piper feels the same way!

Saturday, January 28, 2012 Piper has learned to crawl and is exploring her new world!

Sunday, January 29, 2012 The babies love riding in the wagon.

Jathan has a new friend, "the new Rhett," because there's another friend also named Rhett. I wonder if we'll always call him that?

Piper and I kept Ryland company during bath time. And his water is yellow because he had a yellow bath fizzy. ; )

Monday, January 30, 2012 I am Mommy, holder of things and snuggler of babies.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012 Speed Demon!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012 Apparently I didn't take a picture this day?!

Thursday, February 2, 2012 The boys helped decorate the balcony for Mardi Gras. Ryland like to party hardy--he'd already lost half his clothes!

Friday, February 3, 2012 Jathan has quite the green thumb. Before Christmas he saved something from the kitchen--dried beans? can't remember--and poked them down in the soil of this pot. The plants are now thriving, whatever they are!