Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Some Last Thoughts of 2013

Whew.  I sort of can't believe that we've found ourselves at the end of 2013.  I guess I've felt like this year might not ever end- but here we are on the brink of a new year.  

It might be easy to describe this year as the 'worst' one we've ever experienced, but I'm not sure that adjective is the right one to use.  Yes- our circumstances have been horrific.  Our house might drown under the tears that have been shed under this roof.  But while this year has certainly been difficult, at some moments even unbearable, it has not been without fruit, and His glory.  

What would be horrible, and what would make this the 'worst' year of our lives is if the Lord had been absent from us.  But what has made this the most 'meaningful' year for the three little Cochran's in Cahaba Heights, is Emmanuel- God with us.  My heart stops everytime I hear that Christmas song, because, certainly, the Lord Himself has wrapped us in His arms.  Clay and I haven't survived this by our own will, because, frankly, we couldn't do it.  The Lord has protected us, and has held us so near, and we know Him better because He has shown us His glory on this earth.

So, as we look forward to the start of a new year, we are excited to see what 2014 might hold for us.  I have learned that the Lord doesn't 'owe' us a 'good' year just because we've had a hard one.  But whatever He calls us to face, I do know that He will be ever-faithful to us.  He will sustain us, and lead us through every valley we find.  His Word promises us this, and I have experienced the fruition of this promise.  

As hard of a year as this has been, we have had some of the sweetest moments I can remember, too.

George started talking!  (...and singing, and playing instruments, and coloring, and asking questions, and studying mine and Clay's every word, and repeating what we say, and so on and so forth...)

We set up bunk beds for George...and he LOVES them!

George turned two years old.  And we had the most fun birthday party!

We ate some a lot of ice cream this summer.

We got a jump jump. It's like a built-in babysitter!

Clay and George had their first camping trip in September.

Clay and I went to the beach by ourselves in October.

George has started saying the blessing at each and every meal.  I'm not sure I've heard a sweeter sound than a two year old singing a blessing.  He's also become a musical prodigy per Nana and Adam Wright.  Two trusty sources.
 (He hasn't quite mastered the use of the guitar.  But Woody, Luigi, Sarge, and Red seem to enjoy it)

 I'm pretty sure we can single-handedly keep the book business afloat in the years to come.  No Kindles or Nooks for this kid!

Oh...2013.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.  But I sure do hope to cling to the goodness of the Lord as I look back over this season of life in the years to come.

"We trust upon the Sacred Word,
the oath and promise of the Lord;
And safely through each tempest sail;
O, the Christian's hope can never fail."

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Why is Christmas?

George asked me this question on the way to school last week.  I have to say, lately, George's questions have been pretty loaded.  I also have to admit that I haven't really prepared myself to give him the answers I think he needs.

December is always a fun month.  We celebrate Christmas with my cousins, we celebrate my dad's birthday, and Mama Zo's birthday, Zoolight Safari, Christmas at the Alabama Theatre, and Clay and I make a point to do a whole lot just the three of us.  I started to wonder if this is what Christmas is to us- really sweet time with just our family.  

Ever since Nan was born, Jesus is a very real person to George.  So when I answered him that Christmas is because it's Jesus' birthday, I could see the wheels turning in his little brain that we would be going to Jesus' birthday party.  And that has made him so excited for Christmas to get here.  

To be honest, George's anticipation of Jesus' birthday has totally changed my preparation for Christmas, too.  I've really attached myself to traditions, and my favorite Christmas movies, and the parties and build-up to Christmas Day.  I'm not sure I've really celebrated it as Jesus' birth, and the promise of His return.  Thankfully, George is here to keep me in line.

 As much as George loves 'Frosty the Snowman' (which...trust me, is A LOT), he loves talking about the Nativity, and reading our Christmas books about Jesus' birth.  Just about everytime I put him to sleep he requests the same story from his storybook Bible (I tell you...that kiddo is a creature of habit).  He wants to hear the story of Jesus' birth, and frankly (and ashamedly) I sort of got tired of reading it.  But I obliged this "one last time" and started the story for the 40th time.  I got to the part where Gabriel appears to Mary, and the angel is described as a "messenger from Heaven", and George turned to me and said, "Just like Sissy, Mommy!"

Even as I type this, I get a little lump in my throat that my two-year-old son gets it better than I do.  Nan is our 'messenger of Heaven', because certainly no one has taught us more about God's Kingdom than our sweet daughter.  As hard as this season is for Clay and me, thinking of Nan being with our Savior, celebrating His birth, truly does give me joy.  I see the light in George's eye when he talks about Jesus, and it reminds me that there is so much joy in the sacrifice.

'the tide of time shall never His covenant remove,
His Name shall stand forever, that Name to us is Love.'
- Hail to the Lord's Anointed

Sunday, November 24, 2013

What Song is that Mama?

This is a question I get at least fifty times a day.  

As soon as I've buckled George into his car seat, and I've cranked the car, George starts his 'jukebox requests'.  Minus the quarters.  

In an effort to maintain my daily sanity, I've tried to introduce George to music that Clay and I really love.  This mainly consists of hymns, old country songs, Nickel Creek, and, most recently, Christmas songs.  I do think there is a time and place for silly kid songs, and I love singing those songs with him at home.  But, for the most part, we listen to hymns in the car.  And I love that, now, George has memorized some of these songs.  

His favorite hymn is a song that our church sings, called 'Pearly Gates'.  This is usually the song he asks for as soon as I turn on the car, and the other day I heard him singing the chorus to himself in his room. I almost died when I heard him singing *word-for-word*:
'He the pearly gates will open, so that I may enter in.
For He purchased my redemption, and forgave me all my sin.'

I am fully aware that he has no idea what these words mean, but one day, he will.  And I love the way music has hidden God's truth in his heart.  

Not only does he love learning songs, but he is obsessed with musical instruments.  He loves to pick out the instruments he hears in music, "is that the banjo?  is that the piano?  the drums?  the guitar?" etc.  It really makes being in the car so fun- those wheels are always turning in that brain of his.

Clay has been wanting me to blog about George's love for music, because he wants us to have predicted that George would turn out to be our little musical prodigy.  Regardless of what his future is in music, it is really incredible to see George's interests and passions coming out on a daily basis.  I know that God's Word does not return void, and I love that so much of His word is in these old hymns.

In other news, we had some family pictures taken by a dear friend, Jessica Wright She gave us a disc with over 150 photos on it, and these are a few of my favorites (emphasis on 'few'- if I could upload 75 pictures to a single blogpost and it be socially acceptable, I would.  I decided to limit it to ten).   We wanted her to take some pictures of us all over our house, because we have so loved our little home on Woodhaven Drive.  We also wanted some pictures to take with us of our sweet nursery before we move.   Then, just for fun, we went to Jemison Park just before sunset to take some fun outdoorsy pictures.  So here's a taste of her incredible pictures!

My heart is so full looking at these pictures.  I could never deserve Clay and George, but I am so thankful that the Lord has given them to me.  As I think about celebrating Thanksgiving this week, it might seem that we have more to grieve than to be thankful for this year.  And maybe that's true.  Not having Nan with us will cause us some sort of grief for the rest of our life.  But where there is grief, the Lord's joy is able to abound, because human joy and happiness runs out so quickly.

As we consider what we are thankful for, it is almost too numerable to count.  We are thankful for our families.  Our dearest, and most steadfast friends.  Our unwavering body of Christ at Cahaba Park Church.  We are thankful for movie nights, George's silliness, Curious George, and lazy Saturday afternoons as a family.  We are thankful for the great things the Lord is doing in our little family, and for the small things day-to-day that make us laugh.  

"For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." Romans 8:18

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Halloween and My 31st Birthday

The house hunt has officially taken over our life.  In a good way, I think, but it has definitely become all-consuming as we get closer to our closing date, and fewer and fewer houses are coming on the market.  But, one thing I do know, is that the Lord is leading us somewhere.  I just can't wait to see where! (!!!)

Anyways...Halloween was just over a week ago.  I have to admit, Halloween might be my least favorite holiday.  The only thing that has made up for it in recent years has been George's costumes. 

Halloween 2011: a sweet pea.

 Halloween 2012: the cutest darn lumberjack you've ever seen.
Halloween 2013: WOODY! 
It was just the obvious choice.  
Like my friend, Kelly, said, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it.'

 Y'all, I could just put him in this costume every single day and be so happy.  I sort of think George feels the same way.  He actually asked me this morning if he could go trick-or-treating again.

My birthday is the week after Halloween, and I have to say that the days leading up to my birthday were just so heavy.  I've mentioned countless times on here how much I love birthdays.  This year, I really just wanted to skip my birthday altogether.  Birthdays have to be the hardest thing for us these days, with holidays a close second.  My actual birthday was not so bad- it was filled with calls, texts, cards, gifts left at our door, and sweet messages from friends and family.  So much so, that I actually called Clay to see if he sent out a 'reminder' to people to make sure to remember my birthday.  I know it was the Lord's way of reminding me- as He does every single day- that we are one loved little family.  

That night, Clay took me to an incredible dinner at Highland's Bar and Grill downtown.  We had agreed that we wouldn't give each other gifts- since we're buying a house and all.  Naturally, I stuck to the rule when Clay's birthday rolled around in October.  Naturally, Clay did not stick to this rule.  I am a really hard person to surprise, I'd say.  I ask poking/prodding questions ALL the time, trying to figure out any possible way that Clay could surprise me.  So when we sat down at our table, and Clay pulled a little white box out of his coat pocket, I can truly say that I was totally shocked by what my sweet husband did for me. 

He found this little necklace with Nan's birthstone in it.  I was so overwhelmed by the sweetness and thoughtfulness of his gift.  I will treasure this necklace forever as a little subtle reminder of our sweet daughter.  It was the best birthday present I've ever received.  

I am excited to see what 31 holds for me this year.  I know the Lord is near to us, and that even when things are so, so hard, He is good.  I am thankful that I've learned that His goodness is not contingent upon my circumstances.  These are some sweet fruits that I am thankful to carry with me throughout the years to come.  

"The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy."
Psalm 126:3          

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

It's Fall!

Oh goodness.  The change of weather has done something really great for my soul.  I love the crisp mornings, and building fires every single night on our porch.  Clay might have different sentiments on the fire-building, but I'm going to get some fire-starters soon to make his life a little easier.

So, George is growing up.  I thought I'd chronicle a few of his quirks and personality-traits while I have a minute and they're fresh on my mind.
 George is obsessed with building towers and stacking things on top of other things.
Here, he's stacked up his paint cups, and added a few of his Nemo friends on top just for fun. MaeMae, he absolutely LOVES his easel!  He colors on it every single day- and we've even started a little days-of-the-week calendar on it.  
Thanks for such an awesome gift!

George gets (unusually) excited about boxes.  He calls them his 'boats' and loves to pretend that he's out at sea with his 'friends' (toys).

Clay taught him how to get on top of the coffee table.  On a pretty regular basis, I'll find him on top of it playing with toys (here), reading a book to himself, or just waiting for me to turn on Curious George for him.  I don't know why, but it just cracks me up.

This past weekend we went out to Springville to celebrate Clay and Pops' birthdays.  We were able to go to the Pumpkin Patch for a little bit, and it was so much fun!  It was later in the day, so it wasn't too crowded, and it was such a gorgeous fall day.

All the Cochran Boys except Pops

 On the hayride

 Pumpkin Patch

 The Cochran Family

My two favorites!

So, in other news from our little family.  We are moving.  We are staying in Birmingham, but we had someone offer to buy our house off the market, and we took the offer.  This, like everything else in our life, is so bittersweet.  This, like everything else in our life, is covered in God's mercy and providence.  We have absolutely loved our house, but there are some incredibly hard memories attached to it for us, and we are excited to start afresh somewhere new.  

Not only have we loved our house, but we have dearly loved our neighbors.  It is so rare to live right across the street from some of your very best friends.  We became parents together, and have walked through so many days with each other.  One afternoon a few weeks ago, Claire and I went on a walk and realized the boys had on matching shirts.  Obviously, a photo shoot took place immediately.  The boys were being so silly, and dogs were running all over the neighborhood, but somehow we managed to take these little treasures.  

Oh I will miss George having his best friend across the street so, so much.  But we know our friendship runs deeper than the hundred feet between our houses.  Both of our families are about to start new adventures, and I can't wait to see where the Lord is going to lead both of us.

So, here's to house-hunting from now until December 31st when we close!  

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Happy 30th Birthday, Clay!

On October 8, Clay turned thirty years old.  As I've stated over and over, I love to throw a party.  I asked Clay what he wanted to do for his thirtieth birthday, and he chose a getaway for just the two of us!  It just about made my heart explode to be able to get out of town by ourselves, and on top of all that excitement, we had the most generous offer to stay in a house in Seaside, Florida for free.  

Y'all, words could not express the joy this weekend brought the two of us.

Going into the weekend, there were forecasts for a tropical storm/depression/hurricane to come straight for the Santa Rosa Beach area (exactly where we were).  We kept going back and forth as to whether or not we should make the drive in case it came.  We were so excited for a rainy, lazy Saturday.  Then we woke up Saturday morning for weather just as beautiful as the day before.  It was such a perfect weekend at the beach.

Here's the house we stayed in- we could have lived just on the screened porch.

 But the inside was pretty beautiful too!

 Take me away.

 We even got to steal some time with one of our favorite people!  Brynn happened to be down in the area for a family vacation, and it was so great to get to see her.

 Saturday we went to the outlets.  Clay loves a good shopping experience.

 We made it back to the beach with over half the day left to spend on the beach.
This is Clay in the ocean.

 It's amazing what you can do when you aren't working around nap schedules.
We ate lunch at the food trucks at 2:30pm.  
I know that might not sound strange to the average person, but this was so bizarre to us to be out and about in the peak of nap time.  

 Our view walking up to the beach.

We celebrated Clay's birthday with dinner at La Cocina and dessert at George's!

Oh, Clay.  I wish I could articulate what you mean to me.  Being married to you is just so fun.  Even when our life is hard, the Lord gives me joy through you.  I love seeing your tenderness and kindest heart in our son.  I want to have your open heart towards others, because you love people- even the most difficult people (me)- as Christ loves us.  Never in a million years would I have thought our life would have taken the turns of recent days, but the Lord is using you to lead us through the valley.  I am so thankful that I've been able to be a part of the past fifteen years of your life (!!), and am even more thankful to walk through the rest of this life by your side.  

I could go through all of your incredibly deep qualities- your patience, humility, reverence and respect, for years and not scratch the surface of how those qualities serve our little family.  But I hope George and I made you feel as special and celebrated on your birthday, as you make us feel every single day of the year.

We love you!
Happiest 30th birthday, Clay!