When you get married, people always say “two are better than one” and they are SO correct!! Besides having Jesus as my Lord and Savior, getting married is the next best thing that has happened to me!! Life is so much sweeter with my husband as my partner going through this life together.

The next best thing is having 2 sweet daughters!! After having Grace, I couldn’t imagine loving another child as much as I love her. (I know everyone says this, but it’s true). I wasn’t sure how people could love their children equally especially because the first child is so special. By the time we had Alyssa, we knew Grace’s quirks, habits, likes/dislikes, manurisms, personality, etc.

But, God has expanded our hearts. We LOVE Alyssa and that love grows more and more as we get glimpses into who God has made her to be. I can’t imagine our lives without her. I can only imagine what a zoo this place will be once she’s moving around! She and Grace LOVE each other. As you can see from this video, Alyssa smiles and laughs at Grace and this only encourages Grace to be sillier.

One of Grace’s favorite things to do is bounce on the bed (our guest bed doesn’t have a frame, so it is on the floor – this is her “bouncy bed”). Alyssa absolutely loves to watch Grace bounce on the bed and deep belly laughs at her. This makes Grace start laughing and encourages her to bounce higher! (I’ll try to video tape this and post it!)

So, back to “two are definitely better than one” – they are. Our lives are overflowing with love, laughter, joy, fulfillment, excitement, patience, grace, and hope all because we have 2 girls. Even as a mom, I feel more fulfilled with two kids. I love my life.


Matt’s Murrow Compilation

August 29, 2008

This is my Edward R. Murrow compilation from last year. I got the award for writing. I’m posting this because some of the family hasn’t gotten a chance to see it.

The Chase is on…

August 29, 2008

Check out the fun we had tonight. You’ve got to love a two year old’s energy. Much more than a 26 year old’s energy. And then listen to the end of the video. The 26 year old talks like a two year old…

I am beautiful

August 28, 2008

Pretty girl
Originally uploaded by The Flener Family

Grace is our girly-girl – and that is an understatement!! She loves jewelry, boas, silky nightgowns – any nightgown, hats, tiaras, purses, lip gloss, shoes, swimsuits, blow-drying her hair, tea parties, baby dolls, looking at herself in the mirror, and looking at pictures of herself.

As any parent would do, Matt and I have told her, “Grace! You look so cute (beautiful, sweet, adorable, etc)!”

In the past couple weeks I’ve seen her look in the mirror at herself and say, “I am beautiful” or “I look so cute.”

As her Mom I have several reactions to these statements from my 2 1/2 year old daughter. My first reaction (of course) was to think, “I don’t want her to be conceited! I need to tell her that she shouldn’t say that about herself. It’s rude to say that you’re beautiful!” My second thought was, “I’m so thankful that she thinks she’s beautiful. She loves the way God made her. I love the way God made her. I hope as she gets older she continues to look in the mirror and say ‘I look beautiful!'”

After having these two conflicting thoughts, I’m left with inner turmoil. How do I help my daughter continue to see herself as beautiful while not coming across as conceited to the outside world? I so desperately desire to help her do this!! Too many girls in this generation look in the mirror and see themselves as “ugly” because of what we see in the media and Hollywood.

In the meantime, I would rather error on the “beautiful” side than the “ugly” side. I’m going to continue to tell both of my beautiful girls exactly what I think of their outer and inner appearance – they are beautifully and wonderfully made in God’s image by their Creator.

I will just have to pray that God will bless my motives and give us humility and balance.

Fun with my 2 girls

August 27, 2008

Grace’s new favorite activity is to play Hide & Seek. It’s really funny to play with her – she watches you while she counts and usually hides in the same place we do. That being said, you can imagine how surprised I was when I didn’t find her in the bathtub (my previous hiding place). When I rounded the corner, I had to keep myself from bursting out with laughter. I couldn’t believe she thought of hiding on the shoe rack!! She moved all the shoes off the rack and crawled on to the bottom shelf. Hilarious!

Grace can now count from 1 to 10 in Spanish. So, before coming to find her I said, “Uno, dos, tres.” She got really frustrated with me and said, “No, Mommy! Count! One, two, three!” I don’t think she’s made the connection that “Uno, dos, tres” is “One, two, three.”

Alyssa is by far the happiest baby I’ve ever met in my life. If you wake her up, she’ll look up at you and smile. She laughs out loud – the biggest belly laugh you can imagine! In this picture, she’s really happy because I fed her a bowl of rice cereal. Anything involved with food keeps a fat baby happy!!

The only time she’s sad is when she’s hungry, tired or scared. Yes, that’s right, scared. She can be easily scared by loud noises, sudden movements, and Daddy making strange faces with weird noises. Her eyes get really wide, her bottom lip comes out and she screams. It’s quite funny, actually.

Alyssa’s first kiss

August 26, 2008

Going in for a kiss
Originally uploaded by The Flener Family

Last Thursday night we had a cookout with our Community Group at church. We set Alyssa’s car seat down in the middle of the room and immediately Jack came over to greet his new little friend. He practically crawled into Alyssa’s car seat with her to plant a kiss on her. They are 7 months apart and are already great buddies.

This interaction reminded me of my daily prayer for my girls – that people would be attracted to them not because of who they are or how they look, but because of Who lives in them.

At our church they have a parent/child dedication. Parents are to give their children life verses at the dedication.

When we dedicated Grace, the verse we gave her is 1 Peter 3:3-4 “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” This verse is so appropriate for her because she is so girly – loves jewelry, silky dresses, anything frilly.

We are going to dedicate Alyssa in the fall and have already picked out her life verse. It is Philippians 2:14-15 “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”

This verse takes me back to the picture – I pray that Alyssa will shine like a star in this messed up world, which is only going to get worse. I pray that she will radiate God’s love through her life and that people are drawn to her because of that Light.

Oh, and watch out Jack Powell – Alyssa’s daddy & I are watching your every move! 🙂

Banana Lover
Originally uploaded by The Flener Family

This is Matt. It’s really Matt. The posts before said I posted, but it was really Carrie.

So I wanted to write about a cool thing that’s happened with our budget over the past month or so. God has provided for our family in abundance…not in a televangelist kind of way. But he’s given us our daily bread in a way that we did not expect.

Carrie and I have tried to remain extremely disciplined with our finances in order to honor God by paying down some debt, and focus on simpler things rather than extravagance. For instance, I’m taking the bus three to five days a week to cut down on gas expenses. That discipline also forced us to cut our food budget to the bare necessities to make dinner and lunch and breakfast. We were not cooking gourmet meals.

That led us into discouragement for a while. We got stuck in a rut of mac and cheese and hamburger helper because it was cheap.

Feeling like we needed something different, Carrie and I independently felt a call from God about two months ago to shop more naturally and organically.

So…that brings us to this picture of Grace with the banana. We have more produce, more food, more provision, than we’ve had in a long time. Here’s the ironic part (especially when you think about organic food prices). Our pantry and refrigerator are more full than when we shopped at Wal-Mart or H.E.B. We’ve only increased our grocery budget by a few dollars a month with some savings in other areas. No longer are we eating hamburger helper or mac and cheese trying to stretch our food budget for the week. We have eaten wonderful shrimp stir-fry meals, granola cereal, and we have run out of room for fruit and vegetables in our refrigerator. I don’t believe we are buying more, but our switch to healthier things has trained our mind to think about what we’re eating, and allowing us to enjoy our food more…thus stretching our food budget in ways we didn’t expect.

This provision has forced us into a thankful attitude and posture with God. We have truly found the meaning of praying for daily bread, and God has provided in abundance. I wonder and daydream about the parallel to Jesus providing bread and fish to the masses to blow everyone’s mind (Mark 6:32-44). Mark 6:42 says, “So they all ate and were filled.”

Even more, this wonderful abundance in our lives has driven me to God’s word.

Deuteronomy 8:3-4 puts this idea perfectly. Moses is talking to the Israelites about the wonderful abundance of manna. Moses said that the Lord provided manna (which neither the Israelites nor their fathers knew about before the desert) “…that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Your garments did not wear out on you or your foot swell these forty years,” the verse says.

Manna did not last for more than a day because it became rotten and smelled (Exodus 16). The Israelites had to trust that God would provide food every day.

Thus the Israelites had to trust the Word of God that He would provide food every day.

My daily bread, truly, must come from the Word first. I have been convicted to spend more time in the Word than ever before. This experience of God providing more food in our lives has only driven me back to the word to become even more full.

I pray that God would continue to provide both Carrie and me an abundance of time in His word.

We’re still at the rookie stage of this whole organic and natural thing. We don’t want to do it to be cool or because it’s the “in” way to live here in Austin. We wanted to do it because we felt the call of God in our lives to eat healthier. In turn, we’ve been blessed by God with an abundance of time in the Word and with food.

We are truly full of our daily bread.

Two New Accomplishments!

August 22, 2008

Sitting in her bumbo
Originally uploaded by The Flener Family

Alyssa is growing up so quickly – I can’t even believe it!! She’s now almost 5 months old…my oh my how time flies by!

Accomplishment #1: Over the past few months, we’ve been trying to get Alyssa to take a bottle. She refused it every time. Unfortunately for Mommy, that meant I couldn’t go far. We have two different kinds of bottles and I had tried both kinds. A friend at church told me to try dipping the nipple of the bottle in maple syrup. 3 days ago I tried doing this with the Dr. Brown’s bottle – no luck. The next day I tried it with the Avent bottles and she took to it like a pro! Oh sweet Mommy freedom

Accomplishment #2: This morning Matt was getting ready for work, I was getting the 3 girls ready to go to a friend’s house, and Grace was sitting on the couch reading a book. I put Alyssa in the middle of the living room floor and left the room. When I came back, I turned around and noticed Alyssa was on her TUMMY!! She finally rolled over and we all missed it!!!

Side note: Alyssa is no longer allowed to sit in her Bumbo. Yesterday she arched her back and almost pushed herself out of it. She’s so strong!!

August 22, 2008

This video was filmed during the fall of 2007. The “main voice” in the video is Tanya Kerr, former morning anchor at KXAN here in Austin. She knew that we taught Grace baby sign language and asked us to be a part of this educational video. We just found this video on-line.

August 22, 2008

This video was filmed during the fall of 2007. The “main voice” in the video is Tanya Kerr, former morning anchor at KXAN here in Austin. She knew that we taught Grace baby sign language and asked us to be a part of this educational video. We just found this video on-line.