Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Steph's Favorite Books...Edition 1

I often get asked about my favorite books and authors. Usually when I do I can't remember the exact name or title of the book or I can't remember who wrote it. I thought I would try to get some thoughts out here on the blog so I can just refer folks to it!

I am going to start with Christian fiction since that is my favorite genre to read. Within that realm, I would say my favorite is Biblical fiction. So here are some I love:

1. Magdalene by Angela Hunt

2. Hadassah: One Night with the King by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olson
Story of Esther

3. Chronicles of the Kings Series by Lynn Austin
Follows lives of King Hezekiah and his son Manasseh, these 5 books make this portion of the Old Testament really come to life. The books are Gods and Kings, Song of Redemption, The Strength of His Hand, Faith of My Fathers, Among the Gods

4. The Shadow Women by Angela Hunt
Story of Moses as told by the women in his life--sister, Egyptian mother, and wife

5. The Road Home by Tommy Tenney and Mark Andrew Olson
This is a modern retelling of the story of Ruth and Naomi, a little different than most Biblical fiction but excellent!

6. The Lineage of Grace Series by Francine Rivers
Each novella tells about the life of a woman from Jesus' lineage. The books are Unveiled (Tamar), Unashamed (Rahab), Unshaken (Ruth), Unspoken (Bathsheba), and Unafraid (Mary, mother of Jesus).

7. The Centurian's Wife by Davis Bunn and Jeannette Oke
Story of post-resurrection Jerusalem, Pilate is trying to find out what happened to Jesus' body, this is the first in the Acts of Faith Series

8. Legacies of the Ancient River Series by Angela Hunt
Begins with Joseph's life once he is sold into slavery in Egypt, his reunion with his brothers, and his sons. The books are Dreamers, Brothers, and Journey.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

In Memory

We remember our loved ones who spend Christmas in Heaven
Angela Christine Harris
September 18, 1979-December 25, 1994
Brian Hamrick
Keith Michael
Our Grandparents
Ann Whittington
Oliver Low
Robert Bass

Remembering Christmas Eve

When I was a child I spent Christmas Eve with my Grandma and Grandaddy Low. We always had a great day. We loved to watch our favorite Christmas musicals--Meet Me in Saint Louis, White Christmas, and Holiday Inn. They lived out in the country and many of the neighbors would stop by and bring goodies as gifts. Grandaddy always put blinking lights on his tree, and I loved watching them. He took such care of all his Christmas ornaments and decorations. He had the original box for most of them, and he and Grandma could remember where each one came from. I am proud to have some of those ornaments on my tree.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Best Gift on Earth

I have lots of wonderful Christmas memories thanks to my great parents and family. Unfortunately there was also one very dark one, in 1994 when my friend Angie died. For awhile I was afraid that would always be the first thing I thought of whenever I saw anything that reminded me of the season. I have to admit, I still do think of it a lot, but it's not my most prominent Christmas memory. That is reserved for Christmas, 1998.

This was the year of the big ice storm on Christmas Eve. Our power was out. After our usual Christmas morning happenings, my mom kept pestering me to go over to her friend Fanny's house (she was lucky enough to have power) to take a shower and fix my hair. I was busy visiting with family and enjoying my new gifts, so I really didn't want to. But she bugged me enough that I finally went. I'm glad she did!

I returned home and a little while later Rick came over so we could exchange our gifts. I was so excited to give him his gift. I had saved my money up to purchase a nice golf bag for him (keep in mind I was a junior in college so this was a lot of money for me!). He opened it and said a quick thanks, then wanted me to open mine. Well, I was quite miffed at the moment because I had given him this expensive (for me, anyway) gift and he didn't seem interested.

Finally I took my gift and opened it. It was a square box. Inside was a silver egg-shaped thing that I thought was a bell. I told him it was pretty and said how nice it was since I collected bells. He said to open the "bell" and I did. Before I could register what was happening he was on his knee and I could see a sparkling diamond ring inside the box. He asked me to marry him and as you know, I said yes! My whole family was in there while this was going on. It was crazy, and I have never been so shocked in my life. We had talked about getting married in a few years but I thought it would at least be summer before he proposed. He wanted to do it earlier so I would be surprised, and it worked! I'm glad my mom knew so I didn't have bedhead for this important moment in my life!

Rick, you have given me the best gift I could possibly get here on Earth. And even though the diamond is gorgeous, I'm really talking about having you as my husband. Other than the gift of Christ himself, there is nothing more precious to me than your love and knowing that you are always there for me. I'm so very thankful for the almost 10 years of marriage we have shared and look forward to many, many more years. I think back to Christmas, 1998 and, in the words of Brad Paisley, "and I thought I loved you then".

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Favorite Christmas Books for Kids

1. Christmas Is by Gail Gibbons
I love this one because the very first thing the author says is Christmas is...the Christ Child. She goes into some of the other Christmas symbols/traditions, but the focus always goes back to Jesus (as it should!).

2. God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren
Sweet story of a mother bear explaining the meaning of Christmas to her little cub.

3. This is the Stable by Cynthia Cotten
A sweet, simple book about Jesus' book with lots of repetitious phrases.

4. That's Not My Reindeer--and Usborne Touchy Feely Book
A board book that Andrew loves!

5. The Night Before Christmas--what Christmas book list is complete without this one!
We particularly like Jan Brett's version.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Top Ten on My Ipod--Christmas Edition

1. Jesus Saves by Travis Cottrell
2. O Come, All Ye Faithful by Alan Jackson
3. Kay Thompson's Jingle Bells by Michael W. Smith (the kids' absolute favorite)
4. Emmanuel (Hallowed Manger Ground) by Chris Tomlin
5. Silver and Gold by Burl Ives (from Rudolph)
6. White Christmas by Bing Crosby
7. All is Well by Point of Grace
8. Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Travis Cottrell
9. The Christmas Song by Michael Buble
10. Let it be Christmas by Alan Jackson

Friday, December 11, 2009

18 month check-up

Andrew weighs 30 lbs 9 1/2 oz (95th percentile) and is 32 3/4 inches tall (75th percentile). At Abby's 18 month check-up, she weighed 24 lbs and was 32 inches tall. Dr. Mapp is watching his toe-walking, but said everything else was great!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Away in a Manger

I have just one thing to say. She gets her singing ability from her Uncle Stephen. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Seeing Santa

Abby had a great time at the Children's Museum seeing the Legendary Santa. Andrew enjoyed seeing the Christmas trees and running around. He was not thrilled about Santa.
Enjoy the video, pictures to come!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Up On The Housetop, Whittington style, 2009 version

I got so many comments about this post, I thought I'd do a 2009 version!

Up on the housetop, reindeer pause
Out jumps good ol' Santa Claus
Down through the chimney with lots of toys
All for the little ones, Christmas joys!

Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick

First comes the stocking for Abby
the most precious girl you'll ever see
she'd like Cinderella and her horse
a high chair for who? Hippy, of course!

Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick

Second the stocking of our sweet boy
trucks are his favorite kind of toy
a megablock table will make his day
a boom box for his room that will really play

Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick

Next comes the stocking for our dear dad
he is never, ever bad
gear for cycling is what he'd like
lucky for you he already has the bike!

Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick

Last comes the stocking for Stephanie
new earrings would be so pretty
perfume to make her smell real sweet
gift cards for shopping are a treat

Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Ho, Ho, Ho! Who wouldn't go?
Up on the housetop, click, click, click
Down through the chimney with good Saint Nick

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

"Give thanks unto Him and bless His name." Psalm 100:4b

Friday, November 13, 2009

18 months

Andrew is 18 months old today! Time flies when you're, eh, having fun! Just kidding. We ARE having fun with our precious boy. And he is ALL boy. Despite all the "girly" stuff floating around our house, he is still obsessed with anything that has wheels--fire trucks, cars, school buses, tractors, etc. We have those little toy cars/trucks all over the house...he even keeps one in his bed! He loves books and enjoys being read to. About 99% of the time he picks a book about trucks, cars, or buses. Imagine that!

Andrew still loves to play ball but we are having to discourage that in the house. He now thinks he can throw any object. He enjoys watching Sesame Street, and has a particular fondness for Elmo (original, huh?). He's still busy chewing on his binky and carrying around what we like to call "blankets with heads". He has about 5 of those and doesn't seem to have a preference for a particular one. We probably should work on limiting the binky but when we take it away he chews on furniture, shoes, people, etc. So we're sticking with it for now.

He is starting to climb and is quite proud of himself when he can get into a chair by himself. He is not saying much--well, at least that we can understand. His most-often used word is "okay". That's his answer to pretty much any question. When he's whinning he says Mama. When Rick leaves he cries and says Dada. Every now and then we'll hear him say Abby--usually when he's got something that belongs to her. He does say ball and occasionally something that sounds like car. He has recently started to point to his nose when you ask him to. It is very evident that he understands what we're saying. I have to be careful because if I say anything about food he goes over to his high chair and is ready to eat!

Andrew loves taking a bath and screams when you take him out. He is still napping well and going to bed around 7. He wakes up around 6:30 and enjoys going with Daddy and Abby to the bus stop in the morning. Some mornings he gets a real treat and sees the bus AND a trash truck!

On his most recent dr visit (allergist) he weighed almost 30 pounds. I think Abby was 3 before she weighed that much. He has been in 24 months clothes for awhile now. He still has that head full of reddish hair and needs a haircut every 5 weeks, just like Mom!

We love you, Andrew!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

At this moment....

....there is a family in another state that has taken their 3 year old off of life support and are waiting for him to be with Jesus.
....there is a mom with her one year old son in Boston, awaiting a very risky heart procedure on Tuesday.
....there is a family in North Carolina who are grieving the loss of their daughter, who lived for just 63 minutes.
....there are families of the victims at Fort Hood who are mourning.
....there are many, many families, including two that I know, whose lives are being torn apart by divorce.
.....there is a family here in Richmond who just got bad news regarding their daughter's cancer.

But, at this moment.....
God is with them all. Thank you, Jesus.

My heart is heavy tonight.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Please Pray

My heart is aching for the Reynolds family right now. Little Charlotte Reynolds, age 4, was diagnosed with brain cancer back in January. She has had several surgeries, chemo, and radiation. Lately they have been noticing more tremors, and she has been in some pain. Charlotte had an MRI today and the news was not good. The tumor is growing and causing many problems. They have few options left. I cannot imagine getting this news about my child. Please pray for them, that our God of peace and comfort will hold them in His loving arms.
More info here:

Friday, October 30, 2009

If you send a mom to the store for milk....

If you send a mom to the store for milk,
she'll decide to buy some cereal to go with it.
Getting the cereal will remind her that she's out of orange juice.
When grabbing the orange juice, she'll notice there's a great sale on toilet paper,
so she'll want to stock up.
Saving so much on toilet paper will make her think of the coupon she has for diapers.
In the diaper aisle, she will spot another mom and they'll chat about how school is going.
Talking about school will remind her she needs to buy fruit snacks for the lunchboxes.
Buying fruit snacks for the lunchboxes will make her think of her kids.
Thinking of her kids will make her realize that she needs to hurry to be at the bus stop on time.
When she meets the bus her kids will ask for a snack.
They'll decide they want cookies.
While eating the cookies, they will ask for a drink.
And chances are, if they ask for a drink,
Mom will head back to the store
for milk.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

You can see these pictures now at
Click on the album Pumpkin Patch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Life

You may have noticed I am not posting as much. I just have a lot going on right now. All of it is good, just time-consuming! Here's what's going on:

1. Bible Study--In September we started back up, and we're doing Beth Moore's study on Paul called To Live is Christ. Beth's studies are awesome, but they involve a lot of time and dedication to complete. I'm actually leading the study this time (well, I lead the discussion then push PLAY and let Beth teach). I like to tell people I am "knee deep" in Paul.

2. Sparrows--We have started a class during the 11 o'clock worship hour for children with special needs at our church. The class is called Sparrows. Right now I am the lead teacher and doing all the planning for each week. That is taking MUCH time because I have to search for ideas, books, crafts, etc. We have about 4 kids in the class with various needs, plus a few peer helpers that join us. It's going well.

3. Keeping Whitt--I keep my nephew Whitt (he is eleven weeks older than Andrew) one or two days per week. It's great because Andrew and Whitt are becoming best buddies. But of course, I get less done with two toddlers running around!

4. Reading--I'm still leading book club and reading for enjoyment, but I'm only reading about one book a week now instead of 2-3 like I used to. This getting up early for school is making me fall asleep earlier than I used to, so I'm losing my book time!

And, of course, there are the PTA meetings, school fundraiser nights, doctor and dentist appointments, and deacon meetings that come along all the time!

I'm not complaining. Life is good. God is good.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

17 Months

It's Andrew's 17th "monthaversary"!

Here's what he is up to:

obsession with wheels....trucks, cars, school buses, tractors, you name it

still not talking very much, but does say "kay" as in "okay"

loves going to Sunday School and childcare at church

enjoys books and being read to, current favorite is Five Little Pumpkins

best buddies with his cousin Whitt

We love you, Andrew! You're growing up TOO fast!

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Rick, Abby, and Grandaddy (my dad) headed to Blacksburg bright(actually it was still dark) and early Saturday morning. Abby had a great time. She is her daddy's girl. Apparently she told Rick "Boston College has a big fat zero" at halftime.

Abby and Daddy about to leave.

Abby and Grandaddy

Meanwhile, Mom and I loaded Andrew in the van and headed for Toys R Us to do some Christmas shopping. I am happy to say I am done with Abby and only have one more thing to get for Andrew!!!!! Then we took him to the "Touch A Truck" event in Short Pump. He LOVED it.
What shopping does to a little guy

I'm awake now! See that truck?

He pretty much ran from truck to truck.

Big wheel


Hair blowing

Really big wheel

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Favorite Kids Halloween/Fall Books

So I managed to hold Abby off the Halloween and Fall books until September 30th--she's wanted me to get them out since they first started putting the costumes out in the stores!

Here are our 3 favorites:

1. Two Little Witches: A Halloween Counting Story by Harriet Ziefert
"If one little witch meets one little witch, that makes....two little witches going trick-or-treating."
Really cute illustrations and great math examples make this a great book! Yes, it does include witches, but they are kids dressed up (there's also a clown, princess, bunny, and astronaut to name a few). Even in the end of the book, where they see a monster and run away, the picture is such that Abby could tell it was a person dressed up.

2. P is for Pumpkin, God's Harvest Alphabet by Kathy-jo Wargin
A cute ABC book. A is for Apple, B is for Barn, C is for Corn, etc. Cute pictures and rhyming words make this a book Abby asks for over and over.

3. Big Pumpkin by Erica Silverman
This book is held together by tape because I read it so many times when I was teaching. It was a favorite with every class. It does include your typical Halloween characters (witch, vampire, ghost, etc) but the illustrations aren't particularly scary. The witch grows a huge pumpkin and wants to make pumpkin pie, but she can't get it off the vine. Several come and try to help her, but the pumpkin is only removed when they all work together. The text is very predictable, so kids can join in the reading once they have heard the story one time.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Peanut Festival

An Emporia tradition.

Mr. Peanut leads the parade.

Abby and Gaga watch the parade.

Abby with her crown.
Andrew loves the parade AND the snacks.

Ronald McDonald

Aunt Julie, Billy, and Abby

Aunt Julie, Abby, Billy, and Grammy

We didn't forget it was Hokie GameDay!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More on Selah's Deliver Me

I'm just listening to that cd (well, the downloaded version) over and over. The song that is really blessing me now is Unredeemed. Hear it here:

But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord
it will NOT be unredeemed

Powerful words.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Top Ten on My Ipod

1. You Deliver Me by Selah
2. Give Me Jesus by Jeremy Camp
3. Awesome God by Cedarmont Kids (Abby's pick)
4. Come Thou Fount by David Crowder Band
5. I Surrender All by Selah
6. Amazing Love by Michael W. Smith and Melinda Doolittle (remember her?)
7. Glory to His Name by Selah
8. Be Thou My Vision by Travis Cottrell
9. Believe by Brooks and Dunn (I can't believe they are splitting up!)
10. Bring the Rain by MercyMe

Yes, I've been listening to just Christian music lately. I don't have to worry about an occasional bad word or a song about beer like I do when I listen to country. Abby is at the point where she can hear a song once and remember it and sing it all the time. I really don't want my 5 year old singing "Beer for my Horses" (even though I like it!)

Can you tell I just downloaded the new Selah CD Deliver Me? It is AWESOME.

Nanny's 80th Birthday

Three of Rick and I's five living grandparents turned 80 in 2009!
Steph, Andrew, Mom, Nanny, Abby, Uncle David, GaGa

Nanny and Abby blowing out the candles.

The picture Abby made for Nanny

The original family

Friday, September 18, 2009

Remembering Angie...

on what would have been her 30th birthday. Judging by the comments on my facebook status, she is remembered and missed by many.

Angela Christine Harris
September 18, 1979--December 25, 1994

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

School Days

Abby had a wonderful first day of kindergarten!

I just realized that today marks the one year anniversary of this blog. Things can sure change in a year! When I wrote the first post, Andrew was in the height of his fussiness and Abby was starting preschool!

Friday, September 4, 2009

In honor of the Duggars....

I admit it. I watch the Duggars. They're a little "out there" but it is so nice to hear God talked about in a positive way on TV. They just announced that they are expecting their 19th child. Jim Bob asked for help with another J name. Since Rick and I have two A's, I started wondering if I could come up with 17 more. Here goes...

Abby, Andrew, Ava, Adam, Ashley, Austin, Audra, Aiden, Ann-Carey, Adrian, Annabeth, Alex, Alison, Avery, Alexis, Asher, Amy, Anthony, and Amanda.

Shew. I'm glad I don't have that in real life. But good for them!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Abby's birthday party

Abby had her party at Romp N Roll (VA Center location for all you locals). I really can't say enough about how great it was....especially the part where I didn't have to plan, serve cake, or clean up!

Mr. Roger and gang get the party started!

birthday girl

a birthday ride on the parachute

Hokie Pokey

make a wish!

To view all the pictures, go to If it asks for a password, please email me at and I will give it to you!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

She's 5!

In honor of Abby's 5th birthday, I asked her tell me her 5 favorite things:
1. Hippy
2. building a tent for Hippy
3. going to "poria"
4. ice cream
5. making new friends

I'm a little sad I didn't make the list, although I did say "things" not "people".

Saturday, August 22, 2009


Abby will turn 5. I can't believe it. This has been, without a doubt, the fastest 5 years of my life.

How could she go from this....

to this....

so quickly?

Your daddy and I love you so much. Every day we are thankful that God gave us you. We are very proud of you. You are a great big sister and a good friend. You care about others and you love Jesus. We love to hear you sing "Awesome God" and "Shine Jesus Shine". We know you will be a wonderful kindergartner! We just couldn't ask for a better daughter! Happy Birthday!


On Friday I took Abby and Andrew to get their pictures taken at Portrait Innovations. Click on the link to view. The turned out well!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Vacation Part 1: Where we stayed

We stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn on the Virginia Beach Oceanfront. It is on 33rd street, 2 blocks down from the big new Hilton/Neptune statue. It was a nice place. We had a suite with a kitchen/living area and separate bedroom. Having a kitchen was wonderful, we could eat lunch in our room instead of going out. There was a nice (included) breakfast with waffles, eggs, biscuits, sausage, muffins, french toast, yogurt, cereals, etc. Abby particularly enjoyed the fruit loops (which I told her to savor while she could, we would not be eating those at home!).

The hotel from the beach.

The "sleeping room" as Abby called it.
There was a floor to ceiling window looking out on the beach!

The living area.
The dining area.

The kitchen.