Happy Father’s Day!

This morning, the men of my church gave us such a beautiful gift. Several months ago, one of the men had the vision for a men’s choir. So at their last fellowship dinner (this past Tuesday) they rehearsed and this morning lead us in worship with How Great Thou Art! It was so incredible to see probably 75+ men singing with all their hearts, no matter their musical skill. What a witness to us of what it is to be a faithful, godly man! A role model to our boys, and an example to our girls (including this one) of what a husband should be. To God be the glory!

This evening I was painting tiles for Right Focus. One of the designs had III John 4 on it: “I have no greater joy than to hear my children are walking in the truth.” Y’all know, of course, that today is Father’s Day. As carefully painted the verse several times, I reflected that is such a blessing to be the daughter of a father (and mother!) for whom this is their greatest joy. All I have to do is follow my Lord and I will bring my parents’ joy. It doesn’t matter what job I have, or achievements I gain… if I walk in the truth, I know their hearts are full of joy. It’s not the reason to pick up my cross and follow the Lord, but it is a sweet benefit.

How do I know this is my parents’ greatest joy? They have shown me, in their attitude, teaching, and words to me, but also in the example of their own lives. I don’t have a perfect family; but walking in the truth has always been our family’s primary focus. From Sunday evening family devotions when I was little to daily Bible study before school, my parents have brought me up in the “fear and admonition of the Lord.” Our faith has always come before anything else. Before school (literally!), before material blessings, before entertainment. I have watched both my dad and my mom spend countless hours preparing and planning Bible studies, VBS programs, Sunday School projects, and youth group lessons, all for the purpose of sharing with others how to walk in the truth. Theology has always been as common a dinnertime conversation topic as the day’s activities or current events. My parents’ example has impressed their joy in my own faith as much as the times they have directly expressed that.

I am so richly blessed to have parents who have taught me and shown me how to follow Christ! It grieves me that many children, perhaps even you, have not had this jumpstart to walking in the truth. Even if you don’t have a godly father to celebrate today, you have a heavenly Father Who is the Truth, the one, perfect example. My own dad, as amazing as he is, is still but a dim reflection of God the Father. He loves you more than any earthly possibly could! Ask Him to give you earthly models… hey, if you’re in Memphis, come over to Advent. We’ve got a lot of men who can be as a father in the family of God!

xoxoxoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Beanies!

In the past month, I’ve brought two of my little buddies to my house to visit the kitties. You have to understand, this is a seriously exciting activity when you’re two. But there’s something else in my bedroom both of them have picked out immediately: Bongo.

Bongo was my second Beanie Baby. I was 12 when the craze really got into full swing. Still very much a little girl (thank you parents for protecting my innocence), I got the collecting bug easily. I love cute things; at age almost-27, I still get a little melty inside when I see stuffed animals in stores. And at $5, it was the perfect thing for a preteen’s budget. After we moved to PA, I would walk to the sweet little gift shop downtown every couple weeks to check out the new selection and see if anything I wanted had arrived.

I believe my final count was around 90. I did have some of the big ticket Beanies – including both the tie-dyed Peace bear and the Princess Diana bear. Eventually I sorted through them and sent about 25 to an orphanage in Brazil. But I still have all the rest boxed up in my parents’ storage room.

All except a few special ones who accompanied me to college and eventually Memphis (and the one my mom sent me this year for Valentine’s Day :D). But even amongst those few, Bongo has always been the special one. I got him in my monkey-obsessed phase (it lasted several years, I think). But one of the special things about him was that my dad picked him out.

After being given my first Beanie Baby, I quickly got on the TY website and organized a plan of attack for adding more. Bongo was the top of my list. At that time, my dad met some friends every week for breakfast at a church member’s restaurant, which had a Cracker Barrel-style gift shop. I put him on the watch for Bongo and after not too long, he came home with a paper bag for me! But he hadn’t just grabbed any old Bongo from the shelf. He had spent some time looking at each little monkey to find the cutest face. He knew that’s what I would do (and he may have been following instructions).

Bongo has always been my favorite. As you can probably tell, he slept with me for a while. He sat on a shelf above my desk in college and now he sits on my bedside table. He’s just so cute and truly does have a great face (not all of them are sewn as nicely). However… I think a big part of why he’s got a special place for me is that he represents a special relationship and a special person. A daddy who takes a few extra minutes to pick the very best one for his girl.

xo,
Alanna

Blog re-design!

Well, looky-looky… I did a little blog-redesign coinciding with my blogiversary! I’ve been wanting a new look and decided it was time to just sit down and do it. I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out! It’s very vintage-y and I think it suits me well.

The background of the header is actually one of my favorite skirts. It belonged to my grandmother – vintage Talbots! When she passed away a year ago, my mom sent me a bunch of her clothes. I have fun wearing them.

And that picture on the left side? I’ve been meaning to share this with you for quite a while. Back in March, my good friend and an amazing photographer Beth and I cooked up a really cool vintage photo shoot. I want to share more of the photos soon, but this is your sneak peek! Although if you’re smart, you might find some more on Beth’s blog.

xoxo,
Alanna

Once Upon a Time: Personality

Gratuitous cute pic of baby me – look at that enormous forehead!

I know the whole reputation of “terrible twos,” but, really, toddlerhood is one of my favorite ages. The blooming of a little person: exploration of their world, exploding verbal skills, learning to pretend and to be funny, and establishing a personality. All of the kids I’ve watched this past year are within a few months of each other. My nephew is nearly 2, and I have several good friends with toddlers. It’s so fun to see how crazy-different and how strong these little people’s personalities are!

My parents have told me many stories of how early many parts of my personality and tastes appeared. And if I look back to early, preschool memories and feelings, I can see the strong thread of Me all along.

  • I think I was 18 months old, or younger, when my mom saw me line up all my Fisher Price Little People on the edge of bathtub facing me… in age order from grandma to the baby. Yep, an organizer from the beginning.
  • I have always been a touchy, affectionate person; I can remember finding my way into every houseguest’s lap by the end of their visit.
  • I used to iron my doll clothes. For fun. Yeahhhh… that’s actually one I’ve outgrown!
  • Always the fashionista, I was just as happy to wear my tutu and leotard or dig in the dress-up box for daily wear.
  • On a visit to my grandparents before I could walk, I crawled away unseen and was finally found sitting in my grandma’s closet, sucking my thumb, cooing, and stroking all her long dresses hanging down around me. I still often unconsciously reach my hand out to touch and stroke clothes as I walk through a department store. Color and texture (and clothes!) have always fascinated me.
  • Anytime a new American Girl or J.C. Penney catalogue arrived, I couldn’t wait to look through every page with someone. I didn’t want to just look at the pretty things, I wanted to discuss everything. My patient mom spent a lot of time debating which shower curtain on a particular page was her favorite (yeah, I mean the whole JCP catalogue – I was in to decorating even then!). It was never a question whether I was an extravert or not.
  • My tender heart was easily manipulated by my family. It wasn’t uncommon that I would “sorry” myself instead of a family member when we played Sorry! I couldn’t bear to send someone back to the beginning. And I’d like to point out that they certainly took advantage of this play-pouting any time I tried to do it! To be honest, I still have some level of anxiety with competitive games; I’m normal and don’t like to lose, but winning makes me guilty.
  • I can remember how much I loved the magical days when a bath, clean jammies, and clean sheets all happened on the same night. It was such a wonderful feeling of CLEAN.
  • I have never been a morning person. On Sundays, my dad used to come into my room and make my dresses dance around and talk to me, competing to see which one I’d choose to wear to church. Eventually I’d start to laugh and join in, but without that I think I was a dreadful grumpy bear.
  • I can remember playing a game with my Playmobils where I would organize them on the floor into massive family trees (and yes, that was it). People, relationships, and organization. 🙂
  • Although I knew my stuffed animals were just fake fur and polyester filling, I couldn’t bear to say which one was my favorite. I just couldn’t risk hurting their feelings. It still doesn’t take much for me to impute feelings to animals and objects!

What about you? Did you have a personality that showed itself early on? Do you remember things which you know can see as “you”? Have your parents told you stories?

xoxo,
Alanna

Road trip

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Yesterday morning, after catering two nights in a row (the second a two course meal plated and served for 150 people – that’s vs a buffet), I started out on a road trip. Six states, 650 miles, and 11 hours. All by myself. It was hard.

But it was worth it. I would do it again. For this reward:

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Finally, FINALLY having my precious, scrumptious little niece in my arms. It’s been a hard wait… Since Valentine’s Day. Y’all. She is just the cutest baby girl ever. Gorgeous blue eyes and expressive eyebrows. Rolls upon rolls of chub I just want to eat up.
xoxo,
Aunt Boo*

*my family nickname was Boo when I was little, so starting with my 20 month old nephew I’ve been trying to establish this as my name.