Friday, April 29, 2011

Getting Out as a Family - Festival Style

Sometimes...ok, most of the is hard to get out as a family. One of the kids will start to scream...usually it's Bella because she isn't getting her way...or Brennan is starving to death...and those times are no fun at all. They make me want to stay home until Brennan is 18 years old - and then I'll think about going out.

Since we were at home a lot when the kids were sick, it's been nice getting out again. And the kids have been cooperating well. We've been able to go out to eat. We were able to walk around the mall until Bella found the Build-A-Bear store...then that is where the fit came in. She didn't want an animal, she just wanted to walk around the store over and over and over.

Last night we went to the Festival International de Louisiane. It's the largest festival in Lafayette...and it's free. There are musicians from around the world who come here...and to listen to the music is completely free!! It's an awesome weekend of entertainment. We met at the cafe to walk over with our international students, American students, staff, interns, and even a few Chi Alpha staff and students from LSU. Once we were there, we all went different ways to enjoy the variety of music performances.

First we watched a Native American/Indian group perform Peruvian music. It was so peaceful. Lee was really enjoying that...but Bella heard a Brass Band and almost climbed up Lee's shoulders to try to see it. So, we walked over to hear them performing right in the middle of the street. She loved it. I think she could have stayed there all night. She's fascinating with marching bands. There was another little 2 year old boy who was just as fascinated and did not want to leave. It was a captivating performance.

We walked to the Scene Popeye stage, and we heard this Latin band performing. Bella danced with her daddy and her Chi Alpha friends...and she was worn out! She leaned back in the stroller on our walk back to the cafe...I thought she'd fall asleep even with all the noise! But she perked up again as we passed the last stage and a West African band was performing. We were ready to leave, but I think she would have been able to stay all night listening to the performers. That's just awesome.

I'm so happy that she loves music. She's fascinated with it. I'm thrilled that she's being exposed to so many different styles...and the cultural experience is amazing too!!! It's going to be a part of her life. And it's not just once a year at Festival...she gets to experience this during the school year with us at Chi Alpha.

*Also, I got stopped by several people for my ring sling. I carried Brennan in it the whole time, and he never complained, and I was handsfree. I'll have to get a picture of him in it...but until then, this is what it looked like and the website from where I got it is Totally worth the investment! I use it to go shopping, to go walking...and it worked for Festival this year! Someone asked if I had even gotten it there because she was going to go by it then. Mine is sky blue, and I used it for Bella and Brennan...but I may be ready to invest in a prettier one! Sometimes they go on sale...which mine did...and it is worth the investment to be handsfree and keep you and your baby happy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Lately it's been hard being at home. The kids were sick. Lee's had a lot going on at work - getting things ready to finish up the semester and lining things up for the fall. So, last week was just hard.

I saw this on a facebook post, and I've been thinking about it for a little bit now. It's so true.
"During weeks like this one I have to remind myself that the reason I can't go out when I want to, hang with the people I want to, sleep when I want to or even clean when I need to isn't because I don't have a life... It's because I DO. So exhausted. So fulfilled." - Sue Brooks
I have been exhausted. I don't always get to do the things that I want to do when I want to do them. I feel like I don't have a life at times...but that is not true. I do have a life...a wonderful, glorious, beautiful life that I get to spend watching my children grow.

I was just holding Brennan today...he's already 8 months old. He's such a sweet boy. He was just babbling away, trying to keep himself awake. It was the sweetest sound coming from him. So peaceful, so calm, not a worry in the world. He feels safe and secure. That's what I'm getting to do. Provide a safe, secure, comforting, nurturing environment for my kids.

During my internship at Chi Alpha, we did affirmations through collages. We would go through magazines and pick out pictures for the other girls in our resource group of what made us think about them. Two of the girls had pictures of things that were comforting/nurturing for my collage. It was something that they noticed in me. It is a gift from God that I am now getting to share with my children.

It doesn't feel glamorous on a daily basis though. And I don't always feel successful in that gifting. But I keep pressing on. I want my children to grow up knowing that their home is a safe place for them where their parents love each other and them.
That's what my full-time job is right now...and let me tell you, it's a challenging job! And right now, our life looks so different than it will in 10 years. But this time is the foundation for what those years will look like.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Not Like I Expected

Well, our spring break week hasn't gone like I thought it would. Bella has a virus that is quite contagious. She started running fever last weekend, and it got really, really high Sunday night/Monday morning.

So, we're not going to the beach. We are sending the girls without us. I know that they will have a ton of fun! Just a little sad that we won't be there to experience it with them. Bummer...

Bella is starting to feel better. No more fever at the moment, but she still has a sore throat. She's not really eating a lot, but she's drinking juice like crazy...which is a good thing.

When Bella got sick, and I knew that all of my plans were out of the window, I thought of this

Proverbs 19:21 "Many are the plans in a person's heart, but it is the Lord's purpose that prevails."

I am not at all saying that it was the Lord's purpose for Bella to get sick. I am saying that I can make plans in my heart, but I need to be willing to follow the Lord's lead and not my own. I believe He allowed Bella to get sick...and that it is ok for my girls to go on this trip without me. It's good to make plans, but I don't have to stick to them to know that God's purpose will still happen.

I recently saw a quote on twitter, "It all works out in the end. If it hasn't worked out yet, then it's not the end." Max Lucado.

I don't understand why things happen the way that they do, but I do believe with all of my heart that God is in control. Everything is going to go according to His plan not mine. And that is a good thing, because His thoughts are higher than my thoughts and His ways are higher than my ways.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Answers to My Prayers

As I write this, I'm using my new-to-me MacBook Pro that was given to me!!

It's a little older, and has a few scratches...but it works! I'm so stinkin' excited about it. There are a few things that need to be taken care of...and it will cost us a little money, but I will have a very nice computer in a few days.

It needs to be upgraded. Newer programs won't work with the old whatchamacallit. So, we're going to upgrade the operating system. Currently, the battery is non-existent...Literally it doesn't even recognize that there is a battery on this thing. If it gets unplugged, that's it. It's off and no longer working. So, for a small investment, we're going to get a new battery for it.

I really can't explain how excited I am to have this computer. To know that God cares about the details of my life enough to listen to my prayers for things I want...and to use a generous friend to give it to me.

I almost feel convicted (guilty) after getting it because I don't think I took my own prayers serious enough - like when Lee had the first truck given to him (yes, he's had 2 trucks given to us!!). I knew knew knew that we couldn't afford a new truck. I would be driving to the cafe and say, "Lord, if Lee's going to get a truck, You're going to have to give him one because You know we can't afford to pay for one." Lee had been driving around a tiny car - he called it the "Mancart," and I knew how badly he wanted a truck, but there was no way that we could get one. So, I called this my flippant prayer because I don't know if I really believed what I was saying. It was like it was half-hearted. But He was listening to me. He answered that prayer. He answered my prayer for a Mac. And He's answered countless other prayers, too.

We have already started teaching Bella about praying for others as well as herself. We began praying for our friends the Buckels to get a house. Every night as we would tuck Bella into bed, we would pray for their family to get a house. If you ask Bella today, "What do we pray for the Buckels?" she would say, "a house." God answered that prayer - not at all in the way that we expected Him to, but He did. They have a house in Mississippi where they will be pioneering a Chi Alpha there.

One night, as we were praying, I didn't pray for everything/everyone we normally pray for. We had just started praying for my mom's health, and Bella said, "Pray for Meme to feel better." It was so sweet. The next morning I called my mom to tell her that Bella prayed for her, and my mom said that her back was already starting to feel better! That's awesome! Now anytime Bella gets hurt, she'll come to me and say, "Mommy, pray for my leg(or whatever it is that hurts) to get better....and kiss it." She does the same for Brennan! If he falls over in his attempt to stand up, she will go over to him, put her hand on his head, say "I pray for Brennan's head to feel better," and then kiss it and say "It's all better!"

I want Bella to grow up with faith and expectation that God is going to answer her prayers. And I want her to learn that if He doesn't answer them the way that we think He should, He's still doing something - like with the Buckel's house.

God amazes me because He's so relational. He wants us to have a relationship with Him, and He wants us to have relationships with others too. We never have to feel alone in our journey of life because He is with us, and He allows us to walk along with other people too! As we take our requests for ourselves and each other to Him, He hears us and is working on our behalf. It may not be what we expected or how...but Romans 8:28 says, "All things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose."

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Generous Givers & Gracious Receivers

Growing up in a Christian home, I was always taught the Scripture "It is better to give than receive." Giving is so fun! Usually, the person on the giving side feels great about giving something to someone else.

Receiving isn't always perceived that way. It can be humiliating at times, especially if you feel like you don't deserve it...or you don't want someone to know that you absolutely needed it...or you are receiving it from someone who you think needs it more than you do!

It's important to be a generous giver, but it is just as important to be a gracious receiver.

My friend Jess McLain and I were driving back to SAGU together after a Labor Day weekend in Louisiana. My parents gave me a little money to give Jess for driving. I offered it to him, honestly thinking that he wouldn't take it. He took the money and told me it was because he didn't want to rob me of a blessing. That statement changed my way of thinking.

I had often been the one who refused something when it was offered to me. I didn't want to be on the receiving end because it was better to give than to receive.

I've learned to be thankful, though, when receiving something. It's usually humbling, but I don't want to let my pride get in the way of God blessing me as well as someone else. Who knows how much that person may have been struggling with obeying God to give, and I would be the one to squelch that? Oh no, I refuse to let that happen!! I will not be a stumbling block in someone else's journey. There are too many benefits from giving and receiving, and I want others to experience that.

Dr. Remedios, our pastor at Trinity Christian Center in Forest Hill, would often say, "God will get it to you if He knows He can get it through you." We've seen that principle work in our lives.

I recently had a friend tell me, "Ya'll are always having stuff given to you." It's true. We do. Lee had a bike given to him, a drum set, a sound system, a computer, a truck. He's also given away a bike, guitar equipment, and countless other things as well as money. He usually asks me before he gives something to someone, and we are almost always on the same page. I usually ask him as well before I give something away, too. It has been a strength in our marriage.

Today, I received a new-to-me MacBook Pro. Completely free. Given to me by a friend who told me it was given to her, and she doesn't really use it much and thinks I would get more use out of it. She said she was more excited about giving it to me than I probably was to get it. I don't know about that...I'm pretty stinkin' excited to get it!!! And we already have plans on who we're giving my PC to.

It's true that you cannot out-give God. Don't hold on to money and things so tightly that He can't bless you with other things. And then be gracious when He starts blessing you in return. You may not know that He's trying to bless you when someone is trying to give you something that you feel you don't deserve. That's how good God is to us. Take on the challenge to be a generous giver but also a gracious receiver!

I wrote another blog post today about giving at the Joli blog. You can read it by clicking here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Being a Mom that Matters

*I was inspired by the article "Being a Mom that Matters..."
Mary Southerland writes, "Being a mom is the hardest job on earth. It brings out the best and the worst in you. I know that it requires great sacrifice and limitless energy. But to invest your time and best efforts into a child, to watch that child grow and develop, is to be part of the creative majesty of life itself."

Lee & I have talked about how we realized how selfish we were once we had kids. For this season that we are in with little babies, we can't just pick up and do what we want when we want. I can't sleep as late as I want to on a Saturday morning. I can't try things on at the store when there's a kid in the stroller and another in the sling attached to me.

I was cooking dinner the other night, and Brennan, who is now a fast-moving crawler, was crying and climbing up my leg as I stood at the stove. It was a day where he really didn't want to be put down much at all, and this time was no exception. I had to smile as I looked down at his little tear-streaked face. It's not going to be like this forever. He's going to become more and more independent. Life will not look the way that it does right now. I need to enjoy this time...this season.

There are days when I am at my worst. I have to apologize to Bella for losing my patience. I don't always handle situations the way that I should. I do know that my children are making me a better person, though. They make me want to strive to become more like Christ.

Bella learns things very, very quickly. She amazes me. She can also drive me crazy. :) In one of my I'm about to pull out my hair because I'm losing it moments, I started singing the chorus, "I need You, Jesus, to come to my rescue...where else can I go. There's no other Name by which I am saved. Capture me with grace. I will follow You." Two things happened: I immediately felt peace; later, Bella started singing that song on her own. The bridge to that songs says, "This world has nothing for me, I will follow You." If I can get that into her little spirit now, she can grow up knowing that there is nothing or no one better than Jesus. It really does start now.

That's my job. That's my responsibility. That's the majesty of life that I get to experience with them. That's why I want to be a Mom that Matters to my kids.

(You can click here to read the full article "Being a Mom that Matters")

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Break

Spring break is this week. It's still a working week at UL Chi Alpha, but Lee will leave work for home at 4 every day this week, which is nice. And at the end of the week, we'll be taking a roadtrip to Corpus Christi, Texas. It's for a Chi Alpha International retreat/conference/time of awesomeness. I know that the students who are going with us will have a great, memorable time being with the Blakney family. :)

I've been a little nervous about the trip with the kids. Our last trip to Houston, everyone got a stomach bug. It just wasn't fun at all. At All. I'm hoping that this time will be better. I'm really looking forward to spending some time on the beach. Just to put my toes in the sand, to hear the waves crash. I know we'll be spending a lot of time in the car getting there and coming back, but I'm hoping that while we're there, it's a relaxing, refreshing time for our family and our students. (And I know we'll have fun in the car rides over there and back too.)

This week, I'm looking forward to printing out some of our new pictures and putting them in the frames that have been waiting for them. It's hard picking out which ones I want, but I'm finalizing it today. I'm not really a creative decorator. Our first apartment in Buras was by far the most personalized place we've lived. Then after moving to Pineville and losing everything in our Uhaul fire, I wasn't really at a place to want to decorate. I probably should have, but I was too depressed to even think about that.

Then we moved to Lafayette. When we first got here, we were doing the Chi Alpha internship, so we weren't sure if we were going to be living here long-term or where we would be going. I was ready to move out of the apartment before we ever moved into the 2 bedroom one, so I justified not decorating it because it was also "temporary." Now that we live in a house, it just feels different. And I spend a lot of my time at this house, so I want to make it look like the home that it is to helps having some great new pictures to print, too!

So, spring break is going to be a great week for us. We'll be playing in the yard that God gave us almost a year ago. We'll be enjoying the precious time that we have together. It's going to be a fabulous week.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thankful Thursday - Family Photoshoot!

I'm so thankful for the photoshoot we had with Ana Treuil. She's absolutely amazing! I love her as a photographer, but even more I love her as a person. She's a beautiful woman who has made a courageous decision of love by giving LIFE!! Her story is amazing...painful, but let me tell you, Jesus has given her beauty for her ashes. She is finding her place as a woman in this world. She'll continue to live out God's plan for her life. I'm so thankful that she's a part of our lives. She's so much more than our photographer; she's our friend. :)

Here's some of the pictures that she took of our family. I love all of them, and trust me it was hard to choose just a few to put on here! There are so many more!!! I'll post more soon!!!!!

If you want to get in touch with Ana, you can check out her website at

Monday, April 11, 2011

Me Again

I've gotten out of my house a lot this past week. It feels nice returning the humanity. I definitely feel more like a human being.

It is usually just easier to stay at home. Bella does ok staying in a shopping cart when I go to Walmart, but we are often just a few seconds away from a meltdown. On one shopping trip, we saw a little bird flying around the inside of the store. Since then, we "look for the birds" while we're shopping. Most of the time it works. Thankfully, my sweet husband went to the store for me this past weekend so I wouldn't have to take the kids. Definitely easier.

I also went on campus a few times this past week. It's been so beautiful outside. Bella likes riding in the stroller now that she could potentially take turns with Brennan. So, I get a little bit more of a workout and carry him in my sling. That's an extra 20 pounds that I'm wearing, so I'm burning more calories. I need to work the rest of this baby weight off! So, we've gone to the swamp on UL's campus. I've learned to bring a few quarters for the fish food dispensers, which provides us time to stay in the same spot.

I also was able to attend the annual women's conference Joie de Vivre at our church in Lafayette, Crossroads. I even won a gift basket in a random drawing!! How cool is that? It is full of the products from the conference - Wonder. It's a great reminder for me - being a part of our church, which I haven't been able to do as much as I'd like. At least I'm getting to now. And that is what is important. The conference was great....the worship by Meredith Andrews was phenomenal. The afterparty was beautiful. It was a great time, and I'm thankful that I got to be a part.

The kids and I also got out of the house on Saturday. We spent hours at the UL intramural field participating in the first annual Life Group Olympics. I came home with a little sun and a swollen ankle, but it was definitely worth it. I'll be writing about it on our Adventures with the Blakneys blog soon.

So, it's been nice being a part of civilization. Brennan is definitely easier to get out of the house with, and it helps when there are some great students who are willing to help me when I'm out and Lee can't be with us.

It feels good to be me again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Where Do You Fit?

I've been thinking about the role of a woman lately, if you can't tell.This has been huge to me in the past 2 years since having children. I think I expected to fit into a mold that I had created in my mind, and when Bella came along and was a high-maintenance baby, my mold was shattered.

So my question is, do you have a mold that you feel like you are supposed to fit in as a woman? For you guys reading this, do you have a mold that you expect the women in your life to fit?

It's something to ponder.

I'm not going to lie...I used to judge. When I was single...before I had kids...after I had kids. Then I came to the realization that what's right for me is not the same for every woman. There's no one way for a woman to live in today's society. Staying at home vs. working outside of the home. I can't say which one is right for you. But I can say this, I don't think there is a woman who can be wrong because she has to do what is right for her.

This has been extremely freeing for me. I no longer want to compare myself to how other women are living their lives because I'm doing what is right for me. There is freedom there! This is between me and God...and Lee, too. He supports me in this, which is huge.
Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God - what is good and well-pleasing and perfect."

This is what God has been doing to me...transforming my mind. Changing the way that I'm thinking. And He's letting me know that this is His will for me...for me...that's just absolutely beautiful. And freeing. I don't feel like I have to compare myself to the other women in Chi Alpha, in ministry, in the world. I'm doing what is right for me. And I'm happy with that.

What a wonderful place to be...

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Compared to my Mom

I am not my mother...yet. In more ways than one.

I cannot cook like my mom. Then again, I do not put in the practice that my mom had. We didn't live around fast food restaurants. We had some local restaurants, but we just didn't eat out much at all...ever. My mom is a wonderful cook. I love eating at my moms. When Lee & I first got married, we ate at my mom and dad's about 6 nights a week. And I'm not really exaggerating there. Then I started to cook. Lee teases me because he got burnt out on pasta...because I cooked it a lot. Really it was almost the only thing I would cook. After talking about it, I had grown up eating rice a few times a week. So pasta was something new for me. We had spaghetti every Sunday, but to have pasta with a different sauce was something I would do.
I still don't cook every night of the week, but I am getting better about it.

My mom was and still is a wonderful homemaker. She's also become my dad's full-time secretary/office manager/makes sure the paperwork gets done person. But while I was growing up, my mom stayed at home with us without those responsibilities. I was fortunate to have her. I remember one time making sure she knew she was babysitting my cabbage patch doll, Seth, while I went to school. She went so far as to change his outfit before I got home. She loves me so much. She never made me feel silly for playing with my dolls.

My mom and dad have a fabulous relationship. They are great examples of friends who laugh and cry together. Who are there for each other in the good times and bad. I am very, very fortunate to have this. I believe that this has helped me in my own marriage.

My mom also did ministry. She was the children's church director at our church for years. She did this because she loved kids and there was a need, so she filled it. She was wonderful at it. I still remember Scripture verses that were taught there. She got to meet Gospel Bill at a conference, which was super cool to me when I was a kid.
She loves God and loves people, and it shows by her being obedient to Him.

I think my struggle has been that I am not the same homemaker as my mom was. I don't know why I felt like I need to be the same as her, but I have had that feeling how can I want to work when I should be staying at home with my kids??

I can say that I am learning to embrace my role as a mom and a wife. I have a beautiful example to follow in my mom, but I my world won't look like hers. And I'm ok with that. She's a great coach to help me in this adventure of life as I become the woman God created me to be.

I love you, Mom!!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Woman's Role

Every woman's role in the world is different. I don't know if there are 2 who feel the same.

I have chosen to stay at home with my babies. This was something that I always wanted, but I didn't realize how difficult it would be until I did it. It was a tough transition for me. I didn't realize how career oriented I had become. I liked being in the classroom. I liked working at Chi Alpha. I worked until the day before I had Bella. And then I went from being super busy outside of my house to being at home with a crying baby who wouldn't really let anyone else hold her - not even her daddy at times!!

It was a tough time. Colic. Crying baby...crying mommy...crying daddy...It was tough. And then a break through happened, and I really began to enjoy being at home with my little girl. And when I found out I was pregnant again, after a little season of shock, I really began to embrace being a wife, a mom, a homemaker.

I'm not perfect at it yet. There are a lot of things that I wish I had a magic wand to change about myself instantly. But then I wouldn't be able to really appreciate the change that is taking place.

It's the struggle, the work, the effort that makes me want to continue to be better.

I am changing. I am growing. I am making it through this season of life. Everything will look different 2 years from now. I'll be getting ready to put my little girl in school. I'll have a little boy who will be into everything. I'll be a different person...a better person. I'm not saying that I want that now...I just know that life changes, and I want to look back and see how much I've grown instead of seeing myself the same way that I am today.