Monday, December 5, 2011

A few things I've learned these past few months...

First of all, WOW, I haven't updated in a really long time! Sorry about that to the few people who do read this and care about whats going on in our lives:) We've had a super busy, hectic summer and fall filled with so many activities and first I couldn't do them all justice if I tried to write them all down here...I finally feel as though I'm starting to catch my breath, so I thought I'd try to update the blog. Plus, both kids are sleeping (silmultaneous sleep = rare occurance) and the dishes/laundry is actually done so now seems like a perfect time:)

Here's a short list of a few important events that have happened in our lives recently:

1. Javan made his entrance into the world on October 12, and we have been super blessed/busy ever since. Having two babies (I've recently learned the term, because so many people make comments about our boys haha, "Irish twins"...and honestly y'all, it does feel like I had twins!) We had another great birth experience and I have loved having him out in the world and no longer in my belly:)

2. We started our partnership-making/support raising for Africa a couple of months ago...God is definitely working there, and Adam and I are getting a lesson in patience (again) and keeping the faith! We're excited to see how the Lord moves over the next year or so!

OK, now back to what I have learned the last few months:

1. I have the most incredible, considerate, hardworking, amazing husband ever created. I know most ladies reading this would like to argue with me and put their man in the running, but really, Adam Willard is the best around. I thought I knew this before, but the last few weeks have reminded me and I relearned this fact:) After Javan was born, each day was a battle and I really had to fight to make it through - I was convinced for awhile I wasn't going to survive. Literally. Through it all, all my tears and craziness and the boys adjusting (Cruz to a new baby and Javan to life in general), Adam remained calm and steady and was exactly the anchor I needed, although I'm sure inside he was ready to kill me most days.
2. Every thing with a newborn is a stage. One of the positives to having kids so close together is how easy it is to remember things Cruz went through, and while your first kid is dealing with something it seems like forever and as though it'll never end (e.g. sleep training)...once the second kid comes along, it's easier to deal with the rough spots because you realize it really didn't last that long with the first one and everyone is still alive!
3. Community is important. Oh man. For those of you that know me, this is a tough one. I pride (this word = first mistake) myself on being independent and strong, and our recent situation has humbled me in more ways than one. I need people, I need help - and I've had to learn to ask for that the last few weeks and at first it just about killed me. Adam again reminded me we weren't created to do anything on our own...Americans (for the most part) have it wrong. Moving somewhere where we know no one and our New Orleans family was stripped away from us really hit us hard, harder than I ever imagined. We're learning to lean on family and starting to make new is what it's all about - we need each other! Thank God we both have amazing families who are there for us no matter how crazy I act:)
4. My expectations are always too high. Goals are awesome, performing well is excellent, results are even good but being so stressed out its difficult to function because things aren't happening as you imagined they would is not healthy. I never imagined I would fall in this category, but lately thats how I've lived - stressed to the max, feeling so much pressure to perform or get my family to perform as I believe they "should". I'm slowly relaxing my expectations and's harder than I thought.
5. Stop and enjoy the little moments. Yes, it may be frustrating that Javan has a milk allergy like Cruz did, but he has smiled so much since we changed him to formula and I enjoy those smiles! Or I might really really be craving sleep, but I need to enjoy the time I get to spend holding my little ones or watching a movie with my husband instead of catching a few minutes of sleep. Yes life is crazy and most days I feel certifiably insane, but I wouldn't change a thing or trade even the worst moments for anything.

Our world has changed so much recently, but this was a small peek into the Willard World:)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thank you, NOLA.

Thank you New Orleans. Thank you for the past four years and all we have learned and gained from your city and your people. Thank you for the good times, the hard times, all the laughter and a few tears. Thank you for your resilience and culture and amazing spirit. Thank you for one of the best experiences of our life and some of our most cherished memories. And most definitely, thank you for your amazing food - our taste buds will never be the same.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I forgot the token picture in the last post!

Here's a couple of pictures to show you how much Cruz loved New York:)

This is only the beginning, even if it feels like the end.

*Before I begin, I'll warn you this is most likely going to be a long if you're interested, I'd love to tell you our latest story, but grab some coffee and make yourself comfortable for a little while:)

It's been a week and a half since we got back from New York, and I intended to write this post as soon as we returned so we can keep everyone updated. However, like usual, life took over and between an energetic baby boy, finishing up papers and finding time to breathe, this morning was the first chance I had to sit down and put our latest adventure into, to be honest, our heads have just stopped spinning and I wasn't sure exactly how to write about everything we were feeling before now.

First of all, New York was AMAZING. I can't even begin to tell y'all how God has answered all of our prayers through AIM (the organization we'll be serving overseas with)...we felt as though we were around family all week, and it was just awesome to be able to hang out, worship, and explore/question/freak out/become super exicted with a bunch of people who have the same desires (to serve in Africa) as Adam and I. AIM is definitely on their game - everyone we met who works there was not only kind, open, and totally interested in hearing our hearts and helping send us where the Lord wants us to be, but they also know what they're doing! They're so organized and on top of the whole process, we were so well taken care of that week, and I know we'll be taken care of on the field, which is such a relief...we are not alone, they are serving right alongside our family, whether it's on the soil of Africa or here in the States. And just let me say this - Cruz was in heaven all week! As usual, he was the hit of the party and knew it...he spent most of his days in the nursery hanging out with some great older kids who took him under their wing and showed him tons of love. He didn't really sleep that well in the new place, but did awesome during the day...he loved it too!

So we spent the whole week, from about 8:30 am - at least 6 pm each day attending different orientation classes...we talked about health and wellness on the field, raising support, what it means to have an African perspective, how to leave and grief, etc. Needless to say, while each session was really informative and excellent in it's own way, we were on information overload by the time Saturday rolled around was a good thing though, definitely a good thing. During the week we learned a lot about Africa, different opportunities to serve overseas, and ourselves. I'm not sure we've processed everything we felt and experienced during that week yet, but we are slowly...At first we were disappointed with the timing of actually GOING to Africa, but we realize now the year and a half we'll still be in the States will actually be a blessing for us, if only to become more emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically prepared.

I'll spare y'all the details of all the sessions, but long story short, we were officially appointed as full term missions with AIM! yay! So, now we're not just candidates, we're appointees:) And when we set foot in Africa, we'll officially be missionaries lol. I laugh because we're all already missionaries, wherever we are...anyway. The long awaited news: we also found out where we'll head in January 2013. That's right, that's the date: January 2013. So we have a year and a half in the States to raise support and be with friends and family before we leave. When we went to New York, we were expecting to serve in a different area of Africa than we feel called at first, because we feel the Lord has asked us to work in areas affected by civil war, and specifically those affected by the LRA, Lord's Resistance Army. We have a strong desire to work with both former child soldiers as well as recovering communities and work on community transformation and rehabilitation in different ways. I'll post more about this later...

We found the perfect area and job for what we feel like the Lord wants us to do, but we were told at first we wouldn't be able to work in an area directly affected by the wars right away because the government closed an airstrip, which was our only way into the country at the we decided we wouldn't let that hold us back, we would serve in a different country doing something a little different, so we could still be in Africa, and travel to a different place as soon as it was safer and the government opened the area back up. However, when we got to New York, we found out we actually could go where we wanted right away - I'll spare you the details of that too, we're not exactly sure how the mix up happened, but it doesn't matter - the Lord made a way for us to get right in where He wants us. So, after January 2013, we'll make our way to Central African Republic to most likely serve in the city of Zemio. There is a small catch, which I didn't expect, but it'll also be good - we have to go to France first, for about 11 months for language school. That's right, the official language of the country is French. We'll also learn the tribal language when we get there, but they encourage us to know French as well...I think it's a good idea, I'm a fan of being able to at least attempt to communicate with people:)

The area we'll be working in is a little more remote than we imagined at first, but the more we think about it and pray about it, the more excited we are. What we heard in the beginning is true, the only way in and out of our city is by airstrip, so every once in awhile we have to take a plane to get supplies and some rest...because of the remoteness of the area and probably the stress of the situation, we'll be encouraged to take a break about every two months and get out of the city for a few days. Zemio is currently a large station for refugees fleeing from the war, so there is so much opportunity to love on people and share Christ with them. We're not exactly sure what our "jobs" will look like, but we are so excited to see what the Lord will do.

One of our major concerns about serving in such a remote area was being alone - personally, I know that would not be very beneficial for me, especially at first...if the Lord calls me to it, I know He would get me through it, but I was really praying for some companionship. And again, of course, He answered. We'll actually be serving with an awesome couple we met at Candidate Week, who we think we'll work really well with and are so excited to get to know better. They have a little girl about four months older than Cruz, and they're pregnant with their second child too, who will be about three months older than our second baby:) Cruz will have a built in girlfriend lol...or just some close buddies he and his brother or sister can grow up with! The Lord definitely answered some major prayers that week, we were starting to get worried we would leave without having any better idea of what we were doing or where we would go...we had our last meeting Friday night around 8:30 pm (we left Saturday morning at 6 am) and finalized (semi-officially) most of the details you read here.

We got back to New Orleans in such high spirits and so excited about what God was doing in our lives. The timing kind of threw us off as I mentioned before, we would jump on a plane tomorrow if we could, but we realize the time to prepare will be well worth it and this is one thing we don't need to jump blindly into. Then we had some big decisions to make here as well...we graduate in a week and a half and didn't know what we were going to do - where we were going to live, what job Adam was going to get, etc. We feel like God has given us this year before we go overseas not only to raise support but also to spend time with family and friends, because I think it will be harder on them than it will be on us when we actually leave the country. So, we made the tough decision to go ahead and move to North Carolina after graduation, when we'd have the help of our families for moving and Cruz:) Adam is still looking for a full time job, but we know the Lord will provide...leaving is bittersweet and every day it gets closer I get a little more sad. But, as the title says, even though this feels like the end, it's only the beginning. I'll definitely be posting more about New Orleans and our experience in the next few days...

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

An Epic Morning. And Week. And Month.

So, this morning Cruz decides to be crazy. Not unlike many other mornings, but for some reason, it was harder for me to handle today. Maybe it's because I haven't gotten a full nights sleep in a month. Or because my mind is running ten million miles a minute, thinking of how in the world I'm going to finish 7 papers in two weeks. Or because I haven't cleaned my house in two weeks (which is a huge deal to me), due to all of my free (non-Cruz time) being devoted to writing 15 stupid papers. Or because last night I realized how stressed my husband has been and that I've actually been increasing that instead of helping him out. Or because I had to clean out the nastiest cloth diaper I'd ever seen come out of my poor child, or any other child for that matter...I was definitely wishing this morning we used disposable diapers. Or the fact that we are leaving on Saturday to probably find out exactly where and when we'll be heading to Africa - so huge! Or because I've been eating terrible because all my little baby inside of me wants to eat is Doritos and Big Macs...and the occasional strawberry. Or because this morning Cruz again decides to wake up at 6 am as opposed to his used to be normal 7:30. However, as I was driving to Chickfila at 6:30 this morning - one to get out of the house and prevent a whiny baby (I'm not quite sure why he keeps insisting on waking up at 6, because he hates his life for the first hour) and two to satisfy baby number two who really wanted hash browns and a Dr. Pepper - I realized just how worth it mornings and weeks and months like we've had recently are. I was driving along the interstate, watching the sun rise and listening to my baby boy chatter away in the back (point me for using the trip as a distraction today), listening to praise music. I understood at that moment Jesus wanted me to seek out His company, for just a moment, today. He always wants me to seek Him out, but lately I've been distracted by the crazy poo, a crazy boy who doesn't like to sleep, but mainly my own agenda and selfishness. He used Cruz's crazy schedule, my hormones and lack of sleep, and even my frustration to get me again to a point of surrender and stillness. All I could do while driving the car was be still and listen to the word spoken through song. And it was worth it. All we need sometimes is a little perspective. And a lot of Jesus.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

March 31, 2007

...was one of the best days of my life! On Saturday March 31, 2007, I married my best friend and have been trying to figure out how I can possibly love him more and more everyday...but it happens! I remember telling one of my friends who was getting married after me what marriage was like and describing it as getting to have a sleepover every night with your bff, and thats really how I felt then and still feel now...don't get me wrong, some nights our sleepovers are not as fun and for those of you who know us, know we argue as excellent as we love:) BUT, when the day is done, I know I have a husband who loves me, loves the Lord, and loves our son and would do anything for us.

We were talking the other night about our marriage, things we loved and things we needed to work on (always a good idea, theres nothing wrong with a little evaluation! :)) and we were both just in awe of where we are now....what we've been through the past four years, all of the changes and ups and downs, the adventures we've been on and the dreams we've seen realized...and let go. We've had a crazy, amazing, incredible ride - in four years we: got MARRIED, moved down to New Orleans, started grad school, went to Israel, both started two jobs (several different times lol), met lifelong friends, went to Africa, started the application process for a mission organization, ended the application with a mission organization. searched FOREVER for the right mission organization, finally applied with the right mission organization:), saw many friends move all across the country, had a BABY, and the list goes on and on....

I love our life, and even amidst the hard times, I wouldn't trade it for anything...God made Adam just right for me, and gave me His precious gift just at the right time. He is the best man, husband, and father I have ever known, and I can't WAIT to see what the next 79 years have for us:)

...and yes, I posted this a day early because tomorrow is our anniversary so I'll be busy:)

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Willard, party of FOUR, your table is ready...

Will we ever get used to hearing those words?? I think not. At least not anytime soon. I guess right now we would just hear, "Two adults and two highchairs?" That's right, TWO highchairs. It's official, Adam and I went to the doctor on Thursday and baby number two is due October 16, 2011! The baby is healthy, I'm healthy, and we made sure there was only one heartbeat in there - Adam was convinced for a little while we were having twins...after all, God does have a sense of humor. But, only one little precious baby playin away for a few more months in my belly! We are super excited and very be honest, I keep waiting to feel overwhelmed or upset or scared to death, but so far it hasn't happened. Every once in awhile when Cruz is super hyper and jumping all over the place, I wonder what exactly we got ourselves in to, but even then all I can do is laugh at our sweet bubbly boy and imagine our crazy life in about 7 months. Just to clarify, I'm sure a lot of you are wondering, we weren't planning to be pregnant again this early, but sometimes God has other plans...we were actually about to start the process to adopt a child domestically, or begin planning have another baby by next spring, but our baby didn't want to wait that long - he or she was determined to meet us before all the holiday madness this year:) And another question we've been getting often since we started to broadcast the news - our plans for Africa haven't changed. We figure until we hear otherwise from the Lord, He wants us to follow His originial plan. He gave us another baby, and He is more than able to give us the strength and wisdom to move continents with two little babies:) And Cruz is definitely excited about his baby brother or sister...every time we mention something about the new baby, he grins ear to ear. He's going to be the best big brother! So, ready or not, we are now (at least soon to be) a party of four!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Throw me somethin, Mista!

I thought this picture would sum up our 2011 Mardi Gras season perfectly...Cruz's face is priceless! Needless to say, our Mardi Gras had a much different feel this year since we had a baby in the of those moments, and yes, even though Cruz is 6 months old I still have them, where I wonder if I'm really in charge of a child - 24/7. Love love love our little fireball, but having him is still a reality check sometimes...everyone needs a good dose of reality every once in awhile!
We made it to one day/night of parades, although Cruz didn't last as long as we hoped...I'm not sure why we thought he would, our son loves to be in the middle of EVERYTHING so of course there was no chance of sleep in the midst of all those lights and sounds! He loved it though, especially at the beginning...and he actually scored some great stuff! Cruz finally landed us some big beads (which Adam and I have been trying to get for years), a spear, some stuffed animals, and other stuff. All in all, it was a great day and everyone had fun...until actual Fat Tuesday, while we were snuggled up at home watching the parades in the rain and eating king cake - I realized this might be our last Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Super sad realization, and I didn't like it. I already asked Adam if we could come back next year since we'll be in the States, so don't be surprised if we show up on your doorstep! Love this city and all it has meant to us the past few years...saying goodbye will be so hard.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

New York, New York!

Well, we finally finished our psychological surveys for AIM and thus basically completed our application process to go overseas! FINALLY! yay! Our tests will of course most likely tell the company we're both crazy, but its ok, they're finished! We are so so so excited to have this part of our journey behind us, we are one step closer to our final has been a slow crawl, but every inch has been worth it.

As soon as we got the word we were invited to candidate week in New York, where we will be placed in a country and job in Africa, we started looking up plane tickets...and finally purchased them early this week! We'll be gone April 16-23, and we're heading up a week early to get a mini-vacation in...see some sites, maybe rest a little, and take Cruz to his first out of the womb (we went to a Rangers game when I was pregnant) professional baseball game. We're ready...ready to fly, ready to get away, ready to hear where the Lord will have us placed for the next few years at least...just ready. Cruz is coming with us, so it'll be a family affair - we're so excited that he is only 6 months old and already seeing so much of the country. Hopefully he'll catch the travel bug like we have or else he'll have a long long childhood full of airports he doesn't really appreciate...I have a feeling our happy man will enjoy wherever he is in the moment - he is so full of life and love with whoever he meets and wherever he is already, I'm just stoked to watch God grow his little vibrant personality.

We'll start talking to some people soon about different jobs we may feel lead to take, and then officially get word that week in April, so we'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baby things I've become addicted to, er, i mean love...a lot.

Ok, so I'm not gonna lie, one of our favorite things about preparing for Cruz's arrival last year was all of the cool baby stuff you get to buy - totally wish some of Cruz's toys were our size. What adult wouldn't want to be pushed around in a stroller or have a super comfy massive bumbo seat to sit in?? However, out of all of Cruz's things, I have unfortunately come down with several addictions...both of which I never thought I would like, much less love, because I thought they took too much work, effort and my precious time. Not the case; I have actually found the opposite. My two new loves actually save us money, and really don't waste any more time or effort. So here it goes: I am totally and completely in love with making baby food and cloth diapers!

*Note: If anyone chooses not to cloth diaper or make their baby's food, this is not a knock on you! To each his own! Just sharing my love and addiction!

Baby Food:

I was terrified of making baby food. One, most people know I am not super detailed so I was scared I would do something wrong and eventually kill Cruz because I am unable to read and follow a recipe correctly (although I love to cook - going by a recipe is not as crucial for adults because we can eat whatever we want:)). Two, I didn't get the point - people make their living creating and making baby food FOR us, all put together already in little jars...if you want organic, buy organic jar food (which I am a big fan of feeding your baby - and adults! - organic foods if at all possible). WRONG! I have learned over the past couple of weeks (yes, we're new to this, because Cruz just made five months at the beginning of February) that making baby is not difficult, I don't need to follow a recipe (just a couple of safety rules), and it saves so so so much money rather than buying jarred food!

I've made Cruz several things already, and frozen most of it: sweet potatoes, squash, green beans, mango, carrots, bananas, avocado, etc. The great thing is that you can make a ton of food one day a week, or every few weeks, and freeze the food in one or two ounce ice cube trays and thaw for each meal! Or for simple foods, such as bananas or avocados, you can mash those up with a fork and serve right away. The one thing I am kind of funny about is waiting a few days in between feeding Cruz new foods to check for allergies - after his milk protein allergy or lactose intolerance (whichever it is) I'm pretty nervous about allergies.

Two appliances I love and help me IMMENSELY to make Cruz's food: a great food processor and a steamer. Thank you, thank you, thank you Mama Joyce and Poppy for our food processor! It makes the process super fast and easy, and all we have to do is wash the base and chopper blades after we're done. We also got a small steamer for the microwave, or you can steam on the easy for other veggies and fruits that need to be softened. I've read microwaving your baby's food isn't the best way to go, but for a quick meal, I don't think theres anything wrong with that!

Cloth Diapers:

We waited until Cruz was about 1 1/2 months before putting him in cloth diapers full time...he used to have super skinny legs and we were worried about leaks:) I had no idea what I was doing, so before he was born, I ordered several types of cloth diapers: all in ones, pocket diapers, hybrid diapers, prefolds, covers, etc. We haven't tried every brand (i wish!) by far, but we've tried most of the "types" of diapers. And actually love them all. I really haven't found a favorite yet, although we have found a few brands that don't work for Cruz...sadly, our Fuzzibunz have never been Cruz's friend for more than an hour or so - for some reason, these ALWAYS leak with our super heavy wetter. We have found cloth diapers to be economical, just as fast and easy as disposables, and cute!

A few essentials:

Everyone has their preferences, these are my cloth diaper must-haves:

A poop sprayer. Totally worth the money in my opinion. We don't have any stains on our cloth diapers after four months of use thanks to the sprayer...we also, thanks to Adam, found a similar contraption at Lowes for $20 to hook up to the shower and spray the diapers off in the toilet, instead of spending an extra $50 or $60 on a brand name sprayer specifically for diapers.

Doublers/liners/etc. As stated above, Cruz is a heavy wetter. And I mean HEAVY. The boy will go through four diapers while at Mothers Day Out (which is 5 hours long). We use doublers (an extra layer of cotton, hemp, bamboo, etc. to catch wetness) with almost every diaper. Also, one of our friends is the biodegradable disposable liners - put one of those in a diaper and it'll catch the poo! We don't have to use our sprayer too much if we use the liners.

One Size Diapers. Enough said. I definitely believe they're the most economical way to do cloth diapers because the diapers will fit your baby from newborn size - potty train size. We're a huge fan of these, and there are also some cheaper covers out there that have worked well with Cruz. We love Econobum one size and Flip one size covers. This way, if you can't afford to buy all all in one diapers or pocket diapers ($15-20 per diaper unless you buy in bulk) you can use prefolds and covers (which are much cheaper, usually $8-11 per cover) and still have your baby wear diapers through their diaper wearing years. Also, if you use one size diapers, you can use the same diapers for multiple children no matter their size - we'll let y'all know how this goes in about 9 or 10 months!

So, thats a little bit about my two new obsessions, baby food making and cloth diapers. I do not know much about either one, but we're learning as we we do with everything else! Thanks for humoring me - if anyone has any comments or tips about making baby food or cloth diapering, feel free to share!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

This is the link to our youtube channel where we start to upload some of our videos. Most of them will probably be stupid and pointless, but oh well.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I forgot how much I loved this came on Pandora this morning (while I was working on my papers by the way! :)) and I had to post the lyrics. If you've never heard the song Everything by Lifehouse, look it up! Reminded again that man is without excuse...

Finally here
Once speak to me
I want to feel you
I need to hear you
You are the light
That's leading me to the place
Where I find peace again
You are the strength
That keeps me walking
You are the hope
That keeps me trusting
You are the light to my soul
You are my purpose
You're everything
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
You calm the storms
And you give me rest
You hold me in your hands
You won't let me fold
You still my heart
When you take my breath away
Would you take me in take me deeper now
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
Cause you're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
You're everything.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
You're everythiny.. everything
You're all I want
You're all I need
Everything.. everything
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better any better than this
And how can I stand here with you
And not be moved by it
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this
Would you tell me how could it be
Any better than this

...this is my prayer today, for myself and for y'all!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

To Fail or Not to Fail?

So, this idea of failure has been on my mind a lot. Why, you ask? Because my number one fear in life might be failing. Actually, I'm pretty sure it is. A lot of my focus and preparation for becoming a professional counselor has been focused in this area, because unfortunately, I think Americans struggle with this topic big time. What does failing even mean? No one has the same definition, because failing would be different for all of I fail if I keep blogging or checking facebook when I'm supposed to be writing one of my papers for my final class of my masters career (true story)? Do I fail if I pick Cruz up when he wakes up in the middle of his nap (regular occurance) because they say it encourages him to continue the waking up pattern? Do I fail if I don't make dinner every night? Or if I can't exactly keep my apartment clean all the time? All of these questions are real scenarios floating around in my brain lately...there are a few things I've learned.

One - there is a difference in failing, as in not completing an obligation, and being a FAILURE. The latter is a label I often wore, but finally concluded I needed to stop calling myself a failure, unless I really wanted to be one.

Two - people are not watching me constantly to see me fail. I flatter myself too much, I am not the center of everyone's attention. And I don't want to be. The people watching me the most are also the ones who believe in me at all times, and do not see my failures as I family, my friends, my God. They love me in spite of my "failures".

Three - who the heck decides I fail anyway? The experts who write baby sleep books? A professor who gives me a C rather than an A because I didn't get a few papers in on time?

You know what I decided? A little bit of fear of failing is healthy, because I think fear is a strong motivator, and Lord knows I at least need some motivation sometimes! But its really who I'm scared to fail that matters - if it's not the Lord, or my husband, or my kid, or my friends, it's probably not very important. And like I said earlier, to these people, my failing is not really failing. I am forever thankful for their grace and mercy! I also decided that sometimes I might CHOOSE to "fail" in the world's probably is failing to some people that Adam and I choose for me to stay at home and raise our kids instead of working so we can buy a house or nicer cars - but we see that as a success. And one day if I don't get the laundry folded, but spend time teaching Cruz to sit up, it might look like a failure because there are clothes scattered all over the floor - but Cruz sitting up and spending time with Mama and Daddy is definitely a success! So, you know what? I hear Cruz crying...and yes, we are best friends with the 45 minute intruder, he constantly wakes up 45 minutes into his nap, no matter what we do. Today I'm going to fail. I'm going to go pick him up. But to see him smile when I go to grab him will feel like sweet sweet success!

Friday, February 11, 2011

A Valentine for Jesus

At our LifeGroup yesterday, our worship was to write a love letter to Jesus...I thought that was such a cool idea, because to be honest, I'd never thought about the Lord and Valentines Day - we have Valentines Day because of Jesus. We have marriage because of Jesus. We are able to love one another because of Jesus. But how many "valentines" have I written to Him? How often am I as intimate with Jesus as I am with my husband? He desires this level of intimacy with us, he designed us for a relationship with Him...and we do love - love other people, love things, love concepts, love God - because He first loved us. We have the greatest, craziest, most amazing example of love in the life and death of Christ.

I love Valentines Day. I know it's a cheesy holiday where people just go crazy spending money on flowers, candy and cards, but it's so much MORE than that. Unfortunately, Vday serves as a reminder day...we get one day a year, maybe two or three including an anniversary or the occasional birthday, where we have an excuse to dote on one another (romantically or just on our friends!) and be over the top loving to the ones we care about. Why do we need a national holiday to remind us to love our spouse? Or tell our friends how much we appreciate them? Since Jesus is our example of love, that pretty much means we need to love passionately all the time...I am so in love with Jesus' passion - his passion for people, His father, changing lives, chasing after His beloved, and most bewildering of all, His passion for me. This year, I get to have THREE valentines...Adam, baby Cruz, and Jesus. I don't want to wait until February of next year to passionately display my love for my friends, my family, or my Lord.

"This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers." 1 John 3:16

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Spit-up, Graduation, New York, Sleepless Nights, Endless Love...

Welcome! So, technically Adam and I started this blog two years ago...but never made an entry. I decided recently we needed to change that because there has been SO much going on in the Willard household, we wanted everyone to be aware of the changes, challenges, and amazing new events in our lives!

First things first...Adam and I welcomed our first child into the world on September 10, 2010 - Cruz Erik Willard. I'll post later about how we came up with his name...its an interesting story. From the first moment, Cruz has captured our hearts and continues to do so as he grows and learns new things everyday - he is our sweet, red-haired, blue-eyed little man who looks just like his daddy and unfortunately has the unyielding passion of his times we call him our bi-polar child. He is not afraid to let us know how he's feeling, whether it's happy, sad, or mad as fire - but we wouldn't have it any other way. I am constantly amazed at our Savior who somehow thought I deserved such a giant blessing as having Cruz in my life; not to mention blessing me with an amazing husband and father who walks with me through it all EVERYday. I never knew what anyone meant when they said it hurt to love something or someone so much, but now I can definitely relate.

On other news, Adam and I officially began the application process with AIM, Africa Inland Mission, last fall. We cannot tell you how long we searched and prayed for the right organization to serve with, and finally, we feel the Lord led us to AIM. Again, I'll post about them and our experience with the application process later, this post is just a basic introduction/overview of the big events in our lives lately! We will finish up the paper part of our application in the next couple of weeks and then start an ongoing conversation with the man in charge of job requests about the calling we feel God has placed on our lives, which will eventually lead us to our placement in Africa! We will head up to New York in April for candidate week where we will offically be handed our placement...and then it's all about support raising, planning, and a lot of prayer!

After 3 1/2, will be 4 in May, long years, Adam and I will FINALLY finish our seminary degrees and take that expensive, exciting, unbelieveable walk across the graduation stage in May. I already tear up every time I think of graduation, because graduation means moving and leaving our life here in New Orleans, but we are excited about our next steps. We have loved, loved, loved living in New Orleans - it was our first home together as a married couple, we had our first child here, we have cried/laughed/grown/learned/been stretched in every way possible here, and made some of the best friends we know we will keep for a lifetime. I'll post more about graduation, seminary life, what we have learned, and our next steps later too.

Thank you to whoever is reading this blog...thank you for caring what is changing in our lives, for investing in us, for putting up with my nil blogger skills, and listening to my rambling! My hope and prayer is that we can continue to update our blog to allow everyone a clear picture of our future and what God is doing in our lives - thank you for letting us share!