Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Thanksgiving

First of all, let's just do a side by side comparison from last Thanksgiving to this year.

How is that possible?

Moving on.

We had such a wonderful Thanksgiving with both sides of my family.  Carter ran about from person to person, climbing steps and throwing pecans to his heart's delight.

He had much more fun than this picture would was just too beautiful not to post!

He spends half his time in this position...righting himself from a near fall from going too fast!

 This is Carter's new smile.  Eyes scrunched, smile big...directed at anyone who will smile back.

Notice Andi's smile here.  Guess who wasn't smiling anymore when Carter's entire Thanksgiving lunch came up?  Yeah.  That whole "gagging himself" thing is less funny when you're the person holding him! :)

New clothes...reaching up for Mama's hand.  We have much to be thankful for, indeed.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dear Baby: Love always

September 30, 2011

Dear Baby,
Anytime your Daddy writes a letter to me, he signs it "love always" or just "always" because I know just what he means.

Love...forever.  He is committed to a love that chooses, fights, and endures.  Love, always.  That's the way we already feel for you, sweet baby.

Tests confirmed today what I have known in my heart for a few days.  You are on your way.  As I write this, no one knows but me and you.  I won't be keeping it a secret for long, but for right now, I feel like Mary in Luke, treasuring these things and pondering them in my heart.  When your Daddy gets home, I'll have a cinnamon bun in the oven.  Yes, he loves cinnamon buns, but I wonder if he'll pick up that we have a new "bun in the oven".  I've been dropping the phrase lately to make sure he knows what that means!  He will be so excited, sweet one.  We will rejoice together that God has given us new life to love and nurture in Him.

Sweet baby.  You are a total mystery right now.  We don't know if you're a boy or a girl.  We don't know when you'll arrive (though it will probably be around the time your Daddy and I celebrate our fourth anniversary or maybe even around your Daddy's birthday) or what you'll be like.  We don't know your tendencies, strengths, weaknesses, or passions.  Not yet.  But baby?  I know one thing. 

You are loved.

Our love has nothing to do with what you are like or what you do in this life.  You can't earn it and it can't be taken away.  You are loved because you are our child.  We will love you fully and unconditionally our entire lives.  Baby, we are not perfect people, your Daddy and me.  But we do have the Spirit of the living God in us, and He has filled us with a love that will follow you all your life.  

As soon as I found out I was pregnant this morning, I thought of Hannah and Samuel.  Though we have been blessed to not struggle with becoming pregnant, my heart resonated with Hannah's as I read about her praying earnestly for Samuel to be conceived.  Sweet one, we have prayed for you already.  We have hoped for you and anticipated your arrival.  Hannah then committed her tiny baby to the Lord, acknowledging God's grace in her life by naming him "Samuel" (God heard/requested of God).   She prays: 
  And Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in the Lord;

my horn is exalted in the Lord.
My mouth derides my enemies,
There is none holy like the Lord: 
because I rejoice in your salvation.

for there is none besides you;
there is no rock like our God.

Sweet child, our hearts exult and we rejoice in this gift God has given us from His grace.  We pray we will love you with His perfect love.  Always.

We can't wait to meet you, know you, and to introduce you to the cutest, best big brother in the whole wide world.

Love always,

Monday, November 28, 2011

Memorization Monday: 11-28-11

Good morning!  I hope you are all recuperating from your turkey/casserole/pie/cake/football/family ecstasy and enjoying your Monday.  We really had the perfect Thanksgiving...but there is also something so nice about being home and back in routine.  I hope you are also enjoying it.

This week I am memorizing Micah 6:8.  It is a simple, straightforward verse with such clear reminders of the truth of God.

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Micah 6:8

I heard this verse in a song recently as I was popping out of the car...bringing it back to my mind.  I've hung this verse in variety of bedrooms, posted it on the front of a few notebooks, and doodled it on things throughout the years, but I've never really studied and committed it to memory.  I am praying the Lord uses it in my heart to change me.

Have a great post-Thanksgiving's Christmas season!!!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Castillo Party of...5!

That's right!  This Thanksgiving we are celebrating so many things for which we are grateful, not the least of which is a new member to our little family!  We are expecting a sweet baby on June 8th of next year.  Please keep us in your prayers as the baby grows and prepares for his/her big arrival.  Carter has been and is the most fun, precious, stretching, and joyful experience for Steven and me...we cannot wait to add to our joy.  The Lord has blessed us many times over what we deserve...we are so grateful He has entrusted us with another little life to nurture!

I am 12 weeks along and will be posting pictures of my "progress" soon as well as a few posts I wrote to publish once we made the big announcement.  I can't believe how much I'm already showing.  I haven't gained any weight yet, but I can definitely tell that there is a baby growing!  Hopefully, I'll also get back up to speed with Memorization Mondays and Letters to Carter...I've just been SO TIRED that I haven't been able to keep up with everything lately.  Something had to give!  I'm hoping that will continue to improve, and I will catch up!

Thank you, as always, for following us on our journey as we've grown from two kids madly in love, to caring for a pup, welcoming a sweet baby who's grown to a toddler...and now preparing to become a family of 5!  What are we most thankful for this year?

Family.  Especially our little family of 5!

PS: I am sure you are aware by now...Wordless Wednesday has much, much more to do with there being a picture than a word count.  It's who I am. :)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Memorization Monday: 11-14-11

Memorization Monday
Oh I'll just post it one day late.  
Two days.  
Three days
Memorization Thursday?  

Oh boy.  

When you name something by a day of the week, you really just set yourself up, don't you?


Memorization Friday...just doesn't have the same ring.

Oh well. It is what it is, right?

Rom 8:16-17
"The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

bears witness: G4828 συμμαρτυρέω summartureō soom-mar-too-reh'-o
From G4862 and G3140; to testify jointly, that is, corroborate by (concurrent) evidence: - testify unto, (also) bear witness (with).

I am so grateful Christ stands beside me to testify that I am indeed His and that my sins were legitimately covered by His blood.  I am so grateful that He will be there on the day judgement is pronounced on my soul...but also as I walk in life.  He "testifies jointly" and "corroborates" by redemption when I am tempted to walk in shame and condemnation.  And as I learned so long ago when I started this chapter, "there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  I am so grateful He stands beside me to bear witness of this forgiveness!

Gill: "...He makes them heirs; they are not so by nature, nor do they become such by the works of the law; but God his rich grace adopts them into his family, begets them again, and freely bestows the inheritance on them: or subjectively, they are heirs of himself; he not only makes them his heirs, but he himself is their inheritance and portion;"

Num 18:20  "And the LORD said to Aaron, "You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel."

Psalm 16:5 "The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot."

Revelation 21:7 "The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son."

What inheritance could be better?  In our adoption as children of God, we become heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.  This involves all sorts of glory when we are in heaven, but the greatest part of our heritage as children of God is our Father.  His fatherhood to us...His involvement in our hearts and every intimate detail of our life...His fulfillment of every desire of our hearts...this is the greatest inheritance we will ever know.  Praise God!  

And with that...Romans 8:1-17 is memorized!  I really can't believe it.  This verse is now hidden in my heart to remind me of truth when I have forgotten or others need it spoken.  It is an incredible testament to God's grace being enough when we aren't, considering memorizing anything is my utter downfall in life.  I am so, so grateful that I do not end in myself and my own abilities.  

With that, I am going to take the rest (all 2 days of it) of the week off and just plan to not do anything new next week with Thanksgiving and busy plans taking up our time.  I will be back in the last week of November though to start up again!

Romans 8:1-17

"Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that therequirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so, and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.  However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
  So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him."

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Wednesday's Woman...a guest post

A friend I knew growing up asked me recently to write a guest post for her blog about a woman who has helped me learn to walk with Christ.  A Titus 2 woman.  I am so blessed that there were many, many woman I could have written about, but I had to keep the post from hitting novel length!

You can read the blog here.  Thank you, Lauren, for asking me over to your blog!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Elliot

We went to Nashville last weekend to visit Greg, Morgan and Elliot.  We had so much fun playing with babies, eating at fun places, going to the zoo...all kinds of fun things.  And do you know what we did?  The king and queen of photographing every living moment took almost NO pictures.  Bummmmmer.

Of course, the picture below really explains it. Carter thought Elliot was great...and wanted to test his sturdiness...repeatedly.  Elliot, of course, was less impressed with this activity.

Can you blame Carter?  I wanted to get my hands on that cute baby at all times too!

We had such a good time...and we will be working on getting more pictures of those boys together next time!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

I wrote this last year, but it was worth reposting.  Happy Veterans' Day...I hope you can find an veteran today to whom you can show thanks and honor!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Veterans' Day

I know this is a day late, but Carter and I had a lunch date with Daddy (or Grandaddy :)) yesterday, and I just didn't have time for blogging.  Nevertheless, yesterday was Veterans' Day, and I wanted to honor my veteran here!

Marine Corps Ball 2006

Isn't he super handsome?

     Steven joined the Marine Corps on June 4, 2001, when our world was at relative peace.  He completed boot camp and had returned home to his family for ten days to prepare for School of Infantry.  On the eleventh of September, he went to the airport to fly to training.  Of course we all remember what happened that day.  As the towers fell, Steven was instructed to leave the airports that would be shut down and backlogged for days to drive to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.  Because of enhanced security, Steven's dad dropped him off miles from the entrance of camp.  Steven hugged him goodbye and walked toward training, unsure if he would see his family again before he was deployed in what was certain to be a new war.  Months later, Steven was assigned to Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri for Nuclear/Biological/Chemical Warfare training.  From there, he was sent back to Campe Lejeune to be assigned to a unit to train for war.  Steven did get to visit his family again before being deployed to Iraq from February-October 2003.  His unit was the first Marine Corps unit to hit Baghdad.  The Iraqis in the cities they drove through were still unsure of what was happening and who they were.  Bases were crude, often with no running water or electricity, offering little rest for these weary soldiers.  Supplies were low and unorganized.  Steven rode as a gunner atop the tank for months before he received Kevlar to go in his vest.  It is only the grace of God that allowed Steven to return home safely.  Steven completed more training both overseas and at home before being deployed again from January-September 2005.  Here, he was separated from his unit upon arriving in Iraq and placed with a unit that had lost too many men to continue without reinforcements.  His unit was given their assignment and Steven received orders to camp out in an abandoned Iraqi building on the far side of base to wait for his new unit to arrive.  He waited almost a week for them, alone in a building in the desert.  Finally they arrived.  They were from the North and were unsure about this "Mexican from South Carolina" who was "replacing" their fallen friends.  Though they eventually drew Steven into their circle, the first weeks were quite lonely.  Steven fought again for our country, this time with the prayers of a girl in India who felt unbelievable urges to pray for her future husband who she felt was near and in danger...but that's another story for another time :).  

Steven received many awards while in service, including  two awards for heroism: Navy Unit Citation and Presidential Unit Commendation.  He was part of two well-known operations, Operation Matador and Operation Sword. After finishing this deployment, Steven again returned home safely to finish his service with only training deployments.  He was officially inactive as of June 4, 2008, just four days before he made that girl that prayed in India his wife. 

     Though he is not currently in the Marine Corps database, Steven will always be a Marine- Semper Fidelis, always faithful.  He has a tattoo now that reads "warrior" in Hebrew.  It is taken from the book of Judges where the angel of the Lord speaks to Gideon as a warrior who derives his strength from somewhere deeper than himself.  The Marine Corps taught Steven that there is a difference between being a warrior and a soldier.  A soldier pursues excellence on the battlefield, but a warrior fights for excellence and honor on the battlefield, in his community, and in his home.  I have seen my husband look to the Lord to make him a warrior that is even deeper than a warrior of the Marine Corps.  He is a man who fights to honor and protect those who cannot fight for themselves, morals that the world fights to corrupt, and for his family.  I love the heart of a veteran...who continues to sacrifice every day to be a warrior in the matters of his daily life.  He joins the ranks of older men who remember D-Day...not as it is written in books, but from their own recollection.  Men who fought in the jungle and received scorn and disrespect at home.  Men who stood during peace time, ready to defend our country when and if the need arose.  I asked Steven what it was like to be considered a "veteran" with such men.  He said, "There is a quiet respect for each other, (veterans) a bond that can't be denied.  There is an acknowledgment that we went through something no one else understands, and proof of membership are the scars that we carry inside and out.  The things others read about in the news or history books are our memories."
     I am so grateful for my veteran.  I am grateful for his service to our country.  I am grateful that he is a warrior who fights everyday to protect our family, both literally and metaphorically.  I am grateful for men and women who sacrifice their time and even lives for something bigger than themselves.  They are heroes that demand my respect.  Thank you, Steven, for your service.  And thank you veterans who will read this.  Our country is forever in your debt.  You are the ones that make our country the Land of the Free.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Quilt of Hugs

I intended to make a quilt for Carter when he was born to welcome him home from the hospital.  

14 months later....

That's okay, right?  He wasn't supposed to be covered in blankets when he was an infant anyway, right?

And because it always takes a village to do anything with a baby...

I e-mailed all the men in Carter's life and asked if they would send something for the quilt.  Old pants, jackets, t-shirts, dress shirts...whatever they had in "boy colors".  We ended up with the neatest collection.  I made a little "legend" of the quilt at the bottom of this blog so Carter can look back and remember which parts are whose just in case I forget, but it is filled both cloth and memories.  

The quilt is so soft because all the fabric is well worn.  Each piece is from a man who has loved Carter and makes up part of who he is!  Carter loves all the textures and's honestly already his favorite blanket.

Sidenote:  I know sewing basics...but I am no Carter and I went to my Grandma Carter's for a week to sew the quilt and have a major Carter show-off festival :)

Finished!  He loves it!

One of Grandma's friends graciously offered to embroider Carter's name on the top left corner.

It was fun to sew with Grandma at her house...some things never change.

Grandma sewing decades later with Carter pulling out thread :)

The Quilt:

Thank you, Grandma, for helping me sew this quilt of memories and heritage for Carter...and thank you men...for being a part of Carter's life...and for donating your clothes!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Thanks Stevie Wonder

Carter just laughed until his face turned red and TEARS CAME FROM HIS EYES at me dancing to Stevie Wonder during lunch. Entertainment here is of low quality and high hilarity.

These are the little moments that make up our days that turn into years.

I am so grateful.

Wordless Wednesday: Roll Tide!

Win or lose...Roll Tide Roll!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Turning One: Favorites

**As mentioned before, all beautiful photos courtesy of Laurin McDowell.

Tired cuddles with Grandaddy.

Great Grandma, Andi and Carter

Henry is such a sweet, happy baby!

Love, love, love those kissable cheeks!

I love my big boy so much!

Tia G, Abuelo, Abuelita and Carter :)

Brothers are the best!

Great Grandma!

I love this one of Pa and Carter so much!

Henry eyeing the cake...and Carter eyeing Henry to make sure he didn't snag a bite!

So in love.  

There is nothing in the world like a good Carter cuddle.

Up, up and year has gone by.  What an extraordinary blessing it was.