Laresa Watkins

Earl and #EasterPictureFiasco2017-A Spring Update

Apr 17, 2017
mommyinbonlee

Ugh! I have been so lazy at this blogging thing! We’ve been so busy with homeschooling and sports and church, this has just been put on the back-burner.  Thought I would just take a minute to tell you all about some fun things that have been happening lately.

As you all know, yesterday was Easter.  We take a family picture every year, and every year it is a bit of a fiasco.  It’s hard to keep everyone clean in their Easter outfits, and then to get everyone to look at the camera and smile at the same time is  absolutely impossible! Some years we have someone to take our picture and others we don’t (those are the years that we prop the camera on the hood of the car and end up with a lopsided, blurry picture).

This year, the problem was all me.  I just couldn’t get it together!

Nope….

Pretty sure Jason was telling me to do something about my hair in this one…

 

I’m trying!

 

….and got it! This is as good as it’s getting.  😉

I love looking back at out pictures every year and seeing how the kids have grown and how our family is changing.  I remember the years that I had just had a baby and couldn’t find any clothes to fit.  In some pictures the kids have already taken off their shoes or we’re struggling to hold one of them still, or there’s a random animal passing by.  One thing, though, remains the same: Jason Watkins.  How does that man manage to look perfect in every picture? I just don’t understand!

In all seriousness, I love seeing the evidence of Jesus’ love in our life.  This year, Easter took on a new meaning as I witnessed Charlie begin to grasp what Easter really means: that Jesus is real and he died and rose from the grave for him personally.  I am praying fervently for his salvation, and would appreciate if you would join me in this.

 

Another fun thing is our squirrel, Earl.  We weren’t able to save his two siblings, but we did raise him successfully after a fall from a tree in our yard.  We released him about a week ago and we enjoy visits from him almost every day. 

I hope you’re enjoying this spring as much as we are!

 

 

 

 

 

Christmas

Dec 31, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Isn’t Christmas such a dichotomy?  It’s a time of joy and giving and getting and celebration, but also a time that I am reminded of the brokenness of this world.  As a child I was split between parents, and even as a married adult this brokenness continued as Jason (who is also split between parents) and I traveled from Christmas to Christmas to Christmas to Christmas.  Even though we were having a great time and spending time with people that we love and who love us back very much, it was also stressful and just…hard. We spent a lot of time away from our home and on the road for our first Christmases as a married couple.

Since having children, I have discovered an entirely new side of Christmas.  We have toned things down a lot.  We still see everyone, but our parents have their get-togethers on different days so we can be at home on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  We’re still busy, but not so busy that we can’t enjoy ourselves.  We have time for a nap, to sit down and put together Legos, to play with new dolls.  Jason and I even get to spend time with our new “toys.”

 

There has been so much joy found in Christmas since C and M were born.  We have new traditions like cutting down our tree at the Doby Christmas Tree Farm every year, and watching “The Polar Express” with hot chocolate and cookies.  We start listening to Christmas music in November and wear tacky Christmas shirts every day.  The kids wake up every morning to find our elf, Martin (On a side note, I’ll be honest and say that I’m not too sorry that he’s gone back to the North Pole for the year!).  Their innocence and excitement is contagious.

This Christmas also brought with it a new aspect for me: grief.  It was our first Christmas since losing Kitten (my stepdad) and I missed him and his huge presence.  I also really mourned my grandma, who passed away 3 years ago on the day after Christmas.

Recognizing this dichotomy makes me really want to soak in every good moment that Christmas offers. One thing that was so special about this Christmas was that, since it fell on a Sunday, we got to go to church.  It was a privilege and a pleasure to join my church family on Christmas morning and worship with them!

Focusing on the real reason for Christmas makes the good and bad aspects of the season easier to bear, because both can be a little overwhelming.

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this. Isaiah 9:2, 6-7 (ESV)

As I go through this life, the good and bad become more evident, but Christmas reminds me that Jesus left his Heavenly home and came here to fulfill all of the prophecies that spoke of him so we could dwell in the light, not the darkness.  We’ll have brokenness and grief and the stress of getting our families dressed for church on Christmas morning, but there is also peace and joy and love and celebration. These things go hand-in-hand (for now).

“Comfort my people! Comfort them!” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and announce to it that its time of hard labor is over and its wrongs have been paid for. It has received from the Lord double for all its sins.” Go up a high mountain, Zion. Tell the good news! Call out with a loud voice, Jerusalem. Tell the good news! Raise your voice without fear. Tell the cities of Judah: “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40: 1-2, 9 (GW)

What a blessing to have that comfort and to celebrate Christmas with Jesus at the center, to feel the grief that is simply part of life, but to accept the peace that the Holy Spirit brings only because Jesus walked this Earth. Christmas is all of the feelings concentrated into a couple of days, with wonderful promises of what is to come.

 

 

 

 

Some things that may seem not-so-good but really are…

Dec 6, 2016
mommyinbonlee

1-Maddie loves to get up really early, and even earlier now that Martin (our Elf on the Shelf) is here. I can hear her rushing around upstairs, brushing her teeth and feeding her fish before she runs downstairs to find him.  She just laughs and screams and talks to him, then comes into my room to tell me where he is.  Some mornings (like this morning when I was still asleep) it is a little annoying, but I do enjoy our mornings together.  We sit on the couch and she watches cartoons (Christmas cartoons this time of year) while I pray and do my morning devotion, she with a mug of hot chocolate and me with a cup of coffee.  Even though she does sometimes wake me up earlier than I would like, I do treasure that time with her.

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2-Charlie was sick yesterday.  I know there should be nothing good about this, but I secretly enjoyed it.  Last week he became embarrassed to hold my hand.  I grabbed his hand on our way into church, and noticed that he wouldn’t grasp my hand. Then, without looking at me, he shook my hand off.  I laughed at him (but may have gotten a little teary-eyed when I told my friend about it a few minutes later).

I hate that he was sick, but I will admit that I loved being able to give him some attention.  The two of us stayed home from church so I could spoil him back to health.  😉

 

In the midst of this busy holiday season, I feel the need to find the good in the quiet, mundane moments.  Because….

“God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people.”
Psalm 126: 3
He was good then, and He’s good now! I don’t have to look long to find evidence that he is a wonderful God.  In the seemingly bad, he has created good.  In the dark, early mornings, there is joy and peace, and in sickness there is a chance for restoration.
This makes me one happy person.

 

A Little Something to Lighten the Mood Around Here…

Nov 9, 2016
mommyinbonlee

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but it has gotten pretty intense around here today. I thought I would try to bring a little cheer to the interwebs this evening. 🙂

 

SO MUCH hilarity has been happening around here lately.  This conversation:

Charlie: “Do you know who makes the best mac and cheese in the world?”

Me: “Who?”

Charlie: “Gaga.”

Me: “Oh, what about me?”

Charlie: “You’re third.”

Me: “Well, who’s second?”

Charlie: “I don’t know. Somebody.”

I mean, kids just know how to boost your confidence, right?

 

Halloween also happened (if you know us, you know we do it right):

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C and M had several different costumes.  C stuck mostly with Harry Potter, and loved it that a lot of kids really thought that he was actually Harry Potter.  He was also the Grim Reaper during our time trick-or-treating at an assisted living facility, where it was pointed out to me that his costume may not have been the best choice (#parentingfail).  Maddie was a vampire, gymnast, and different variations of Wednesday Addams.

Also, this was one of the highlights of my life so far:

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Between trunk-or-treat, harvest festivals, trick-or-treating in downtown, trick-or-treating at the assisted living, and for-real trick-or-treating, we have so much candy in this house it is ridiculous.  We finally sat down today and dumped it all in the floor, took out our favorites and removed the rest from the house. Maddie said, “It’s kind of still Halloween, isn’t it?” And I said, “No, it’s not. It’s kind of already Christmas.”

And I will end this short writing on my thoughts about yesterday and today:

The heart of man plans his way,
    but the Lord establishes his steps.
Proverbs 16:9 (ESV)

Calm down, everyone.  God knows what He’s doing.

So…We Had to Take a Break from #WatkinsVacay2016 and What I Have Learned About Rest

Jul 15, 2016
mommyinbonlee

I know it sounds ridiculous.  I mean, who actually has to take a break from their vacation?  But it’s true.

I (along with Charlie and Maddie) began our summer vacation as soon as VBS at our church was over in June.  We wrapped up (for the most part) our school year that week.  We finished up MOPS, gymnastics, and T-ball.  I turned down any and every offer to fill our calendar for the next two months, using Meghan Trainor’s “NO” as my inspiration. I know she had different intentions, but I still feel it gets my point across:

We were good to go.

We went to the beach for a week, then we followed that up with 2 weeks of pool time, naps, more VBS, time with friends, a visit to Mt. Airy, and an ideally fabulous July 4th weekend.  We have been going to the movies and eating out and using paper plates. The house has been a mess and we barely have clean clothes to wear, but it has been wonderful.  My mind has been gloriously empty.

I have to interrupt myself here and say that I felt a tremendous wave of guilt wash over me as I wrote that last paragraph.  How ridiculous is it that I am allowed to spend whole weeks like this when there is so much suffering going on? After beginning a paragraph explaining how hard I have worked for the past 10 months, how my family has been grieving, I stopped and deleted it.  I don’t have to explain myself to you people, because you all know how hard life is.

This week, we had to get back to real life.  We spent last Friday cleaning, doing laundry, and buying groceries in preparation for playdates and meetings at our house.  We got haircuts and went to the post office and paid bills and taxes.  We’re having a workweek, which is necessary to a busy life.

But beginning today at 12 we are back on vacation. We’ve got another few weeks and we’re going to enjoy them.

This summer, I’ve learned some things about rest and celebration and making memories in general.  Our theme over the last year of MOPS has dealt with real rest (not scrolling-through-Facebook rest), but I will be honest and say that I ignored what they were trying to teach me and what I was trying to teach the women in my group.  Who has time for rest, right? And how are we supposed to have clean houses and clothes, well-rounded children, husbands who aren’t hungry, and fit bodies if we’re resting all of the time?

But now that I have had real rest, I see the desperate need that I have for it. I don’t forget so much.  I feel like doing things for other people.  I don’t feel stressed when I think of the summer being over.  I am kinder to my children and husband.  I notice little things that my children do that I know I will want to remember. I say yes to things I would have said no to before. I read actual books and I feel like writing!!!

I also see the need that my family has for rest.  I have found that, because we have taken some time to just be, we laugh more. We talk over longer dinners without worrying about time.  The kids get along better.  We all sleep sounder.

This was my theme verse for the summer:

“So I commended enjoyment because there is nothing better for man under the sun than to eat, drink, and enjoy himself, for this will accompany him in his labor during the days of his life God gives him under the sun.”  Ecclesiastes 8:15.

I didn’t get it at first.  I thought perhaps God just wanted us to have a nice dinner every once in awhile.  I could definitely pull that off.  But now I really understand.  I overheard Jason explaining the verse to Charlie last week, telling him that God wants us to have fun times, to relax and have great memories.  He told him that those memories are what keeps us going during times when life is hard, when we’re working  and maybe weary.  Those times of rest are a gift from God.

So I understand now, God.  I’ll take advantage of this summer that you’ve blessed me and my family with. Then I’ll take the memories and the energy and I’ll keep on running the race, and I hope that, when you have the opportunity, you’ll do the same.

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