End of a Journey, Beginning of a New One: Part 2

I hope everyone had a great weekend! We went home to hang out with my family this weekend and it was a short visit, but we had a great time. I'm looking forward to spending more time with them over Thanksgiving. 

So last week, I ended my post talking about how I decided to take my maternity leave and really focus on my relationship with the Lord, my family & myself. One of the things I really felt like God was asking me to do to begin this process was something I didn't want to do, but really felt necessary. I stepped down from my "quad." I love these ladies very much and I love meeting with them, but I really felt like God telling me to take some time to really work on me, to step down from something that was in my comfort zone. It doesn't make a lot of sense, because I love being with those ladies, but I really felt like God was telling me to take a break. So...I did and like I said...it was hard, but now I sort of know why. I haven't had to depend on those ladies to keep me accountable in my walk with the Lord. 

I was once a self feeder, meaning no one had to tell me to spend time with the Lord daily, I just did it...because as Christians, that's how we grow in our walk with Chris. But...when I began my teaching career my time with the Lord became less consistent and I didn't open God's word on a daily basis. Because of that, I flew by the seat of my pants...meaning, I would lean on God when days were hard at school and that was it. It got me through, but that's not how it's supposed to be. This is why I feel like many areas of my life I once excelled at went down hill...the belief in myself diminished, my leadership skills went to crap, and my walk with Jesus...in my words, "was a HOT mess!" (That's for you Patience :) ) My life was "a HOT mess." 

I can honestly say now, that taking my maternity leave and starting this process to allow the Lord to "work on me" has been the best time in my life. I kind of consider the past 8 week as a "boot camp" for me. Sounds kinda crazy, but I have allowed the Lord to work on many areas of my life during this time. I'm by no means "all better" and living a perfect life...but goodness gracious, I feel like myself again. Like the Magan I know God is calling me to be, I haven't felt like this in probably 4 years. It's like I began depleting as a person, the person God has called me to be & this past summer was the peak of the awfulness...now, I feel like I'm climbing the mountain again.

I feel like I need to list out the things God has changed in me over the past 8 weeks...can you bare with me? I won't be able to do it all in this post...but I'll give it a start.

I don't know that I 

1. I've finally started depending on him daily...for the 1st time in about 4 years. You know...I've walked the walk for most of my life. Surrendering it all back in 2007 when I learned what it was like to live in a daily relationship...but somewhere in the past 4 years, I forgot how important this is. I seriously do not let my feet hit the ground in the mornings without thanking God for another day and surrendering my day to him. The bible says we need to take up our cross daily, and we cannot live the life we are called to live as Christians without doing so.

2. I'm still working on this and it'll be a change come next week when I go back to work...but I'm finally really digging into God's word and studying it daily. Not just having a little quite time and being done...but being a student of God's word. When I left my "quad" back in September, I had full intentions of just not doing anything in terms of a study group. I really just thought I was leaving to spend some time with Jesus on my own and I have...I've learned to depend on myself all over again, without friends asking me if I'd done my study.  I've been sitting down to journal & read God's word. Asking him to show me what he has for me daily. But, after Benjamin was born felt like God was telling me to join a ladies bible study at Journey on Tuesday nights. The group was already 5 weeks into studying Joshua & Ephesians (which is what I'd just spent the past 7 months studying with my girls), but I really felt like I was supposed to go. So, I went and I've been going for 8 weeks now. I'm studying God's word in a different sense though. I'm not using this study as my quiet time. I'm having my personal time with God everyday, but I'm learning to balance this study...like school work, except I want to do it. It's not really deep, it's pretty surface level but that's why I like it. When we finish, I will have finished tearing apart 2 books of the bible. 

This group has been good for me as well, in the sense that I'm not leading and there's no pressure to share. I've been allowing God to transform me, get me back on track. I love my quad ladies and I miss my time with them, but God has allowed this time for me to get back to relying on myself to have time with him. I know that sounds weird...but remember, I said I wasn't happy with who I was, so I haven't had to wear a mask. No "Magan the Journey staff girl" or "Magan, our friend" or "Magan, the working mama." I've just been me and have gone some weeks just listening to what others share about what the Lord has taught them. I've also met a lot of ladies, which is another stretch for me. I'm not always one to step out and carry on a conversation with just anyone...I used to be, but over the past few years I've become more of an introvert. I don't like being an introvert, but not being happy with yourself will do that to a person. 

I mentioned leadership earlier in my post...I love to lead and I've been asking God for quite sometime to reveal to me what he has for me in this sense. I feel like a lot of my leadership skills have been damaged as a result of the past 4 years. I would really love to lead some kind of young women's group at Journey, but I'm not sure exactly what that looks like. Taking this time to focus on who God is calling me to be is helping me to learn to just wait on God and just be obidient one step at a time. 

I know that transitioning back into work is going to be a challenge for all 4 of us in my family. But I know one thing...I must learn to juggle these lessons that I've learned over the past 2 months. My relationship with the Lord must be first and foremost or I won't be a good wife, mom, friend or assistant to Paul and Lisa. 

I think that's it for tonight friends...I know it's a lot to read. Thanks for bearing with me...more to come tomorrow or Tuesday.  :) 

Love ya'll!    


End of a Journey, Beginning of a New One...Part 1: History Behind My Maternity Leave Book Camp

I promised I'd be back soon with Part 1 of my series of how God has changed my life this year.  I feel like I need to fill you all in a little secret. I've got a lot of strongholds that I've failed to give to God and because of that, I've become quite the miserable person over the past 4 years. I haven't really shared that with many people...except for Matt & a few close friends. I've done a good job at putting on a mask, so I didn't have to really open up to anyone and hear someone else tell me to give it to God. I knew that I needed too, I just wasn't allowing God to work...always making excuses.

You see coming out of my teaching career to be a stay at home mom over a year ago was out of my comfort zone. I loved teaching and I thought I'd be a career teacher...you know, 30 years and then retire. Having a baby was out of my comfort zone, even though we thought we were ready to start a family. When I got pregnant with Laney, I felt called to quit my teaching job to stay home with her. However...this wasn't God's plan. He had something else for me...a job at Journey Church. Starting a new job as an administrative assistant to a team of people team who helps people follow Jesus was out of my comfort zone. However, God did place a desire in me 6 years ago at Caswell to work full time ministry as an assistant...I thought I would be in youth ministry. Maybe it will happen one day, but not for now and that's why it's a little out of my comfort zone..because I never thought I'd be assisting people who help adults follow Jesus...and I was completely blindsided by this job being opened to me after having Laney. Having another baby was out of my comfort zone, we were certainly not planning to have another child so quickly.  All these things have a theme...they weren't MY plan. That's where we have a problem...

My teaching career made me become a person who didn't really know who she was anymore. My life was teaching & coaching with a little Jesus & Matt sprinkled in. I was a selfish person, very selfish...I was a bitter person, I was a negative person, I didn't like to be around people and I wasn't happy with me. I didn't appear that way on the outside though...like I said that earlier, I did a great job of putting on a face for people. None of those things were me before my teaching days though...I was a very bubbly person (just like the face I put on a lot of times), I loved being around people, I would have considered myself a pretty selfless person and I was content with me. My walk with Jesus was pretty solid too. My priorities really got messed up when I was teaching & so did my perspective on life. Matt & I did spend a lot of time together doing what we wanted to do, when we wanted to it...which is good because it was just he & I and I wouldn't change that part of our time without children.

I make my 4 years as a teacher sound so dreary, but I really drained myself of who God had called me to be during that time. Not all of that time was a waste, God taught me a lot about depending on him during that time and there's no way I would have gotten through it without him because I dealt with some pretty crazy situations during that time. But, I feel like masked myself so much and didn't deal with issues that a lot of things built up and in the past year...exploded because I didn't let them out.

So fast forward to today...well, the past 9 months. Once I got over the shock of being pregnant again and was excited about having Benjamin, God began to show me that I was missing out on a lot of things in my life because I had become such a bitter person, that wasn't happy with myself or a lot of things in my life. He began showing me back in August that there was a lot in me that I needed to let him redevelop & refine...like the leader I was during my high school and college days, the happy person I was 4 years ago, the person who believed in myself because I knew God had something special for me. So back in the spring... I began praying that he would open my eyes to these things that made me so miserable, so that I could give them over to him. I was sick of trying to do things on my own and I knew that I was not really giving these things over to God like I should.

I truly believe that the 1st part of this change for me began before I was aware. God blessed me with a job at Journey a year ago, this week actually...I get to assist 2 really awesome people, who help people follow Jesus and in reality...I'm helping people follow Jesus by assisting them. This is what I love to do, I did it at Caswell and it's a passion God developed in me. I have a lot of potential to grow in this job, but I have to allow the Lord to work in and through me. I'm finally in my element...using the gifts God gave me and I get to do it as a job. For the 1st time since my summers in college, I enjoy getting up and going to work. Sometimes I think about how blessed I am to be able to get paid to help people follow Jesus. (Little disclaimer here...I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom...I tried it for 4 months and it's not me, I truly believe I felt called to quit teaching because God was preparing me for what he had for me at Journey. I love my kids, but I thrive and am a better mom because I am out of the house.) 

God began stirring something within me back in August...I had no clue what, but I knew I needed to make some changes in my life and like I said let go of some things that were holding me back. With all of that being said, the people I work with encouraged me to really take my maternity leave for myself...to do whatever I wanted and to enjoy being a mom of 2, after all this is the only time ever that this would happen. So, I took that advice to heart. I committed the past 8 weeks to rest, read, snuggle with Benjamin and do whatever I wanted to do, I'm so thankful I did. I wrote a little about this back in October when I had Benjamin...

This post is getting a lot longer than I had planned, I guess I'm a girl of many words today ;) Literally! More to come...promise!

End of a Journey, Beginning of a New One

My blogging during maternity leave has been a little more sporadic than I wanted it to be & my Friday Flashbacks didn't happen as I wanted them to, but nevertheless today seems like a good blogging day. I feel like I have a lot to write about this morning, my quiet time turned into some reflecting time. I'm not good at sharing my thoughts aloud, but I can sure write about it...maybe a bad trait to have, but I'm working on it.

Today is what seems like the end of a journey for me. You see, 11 months ago I found out I was pregnant and honestly, I wasn't thrilled at first. I was kind of confused as to why God would give me another life to care for so soon after having Laney & going back to work (after thinking I was just going to be a stay at home mom).  I didn't think Matt & I would be able to handle it. Today I can honestly say I don't know what I would do without our little blessing, Benjamin. My pregnancy with him and the time I have had at home with him has completely rocked my world...Jesus, once again has rocked my world. I'm not a crier...I'm not, but I'm in tears as I write this post. God is good and knows whats best for me and I'm so thankful for that. I'm glad I'm not in control. He's changed my perspective on so many things that I don't think I could possibly write about all of them in 1 blog post. I am grateful and I'm feeling so overwhelmingly blessed this morning.

I go back to work next week and Ben goes to "school," as we call it around here. It's been an amazing journey, these past 11 months. But it's really just the beginning of what God has in store for me, as I feel like a new person. Well, like myself again for the 1st time in 4 years.  This year has been a pivotal time in my life.  I've been letting him really work on me, especially for the past 8 weeks. I've decided to turned this 1 time blog post into a series of posts that I'll share over the next several days to celebrate me going back to work, the next part of my journey. Maybe someone will be able to relate and maybe God will use my story to change someone else's life. If not, that's okay too...he's changed my life and I'm grateful that I can get it on paper (or on my blog) as a way to remember.

I'll be back soon with a little history of why I needed to allow God do a little "boot camp" in my life during my maternity leave. For now, Ben's crying...time for some snuggles! 


God of this City...Nation...and World

I am a HUGE fan of history...especially American history (hence the reason I taught NC & American History for 4 years) and I like politics...to an extent.  I'm not going to get all political on you...don't worry...but I think a lot of people, including myself sometimes, forget what really matters in life.

I was at bible study last night & we sang a song called "God of this City," it's an older song...written by Chris Tomlin. As we were singing, the words could not have been truer for the day. Election day...ultimately, no matter who became president for the next 4 years or governor of NC. HE is in control and whatever happens, will happen to bring him glory. This morning the song is stuck in my head and as I began doing my quiet time, I continued to sing them.

Here's the lyrics to the song:

You're the God of this City
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You are

You're the Light in this darkness
You're the Hope to the hopeless
You're the Peace to the restless
You are

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater thing have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

There is no one like our God
There is no one like our God

Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done in this City
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here

Christian brothers and sisters, we have work to do. We are not called to sit on our butts and rant and rave on Facebook about why our favorite candidate did or didn't win. We are called to make Jesus famous in our CITY, NATION, and WORLD. There is still work to be done. The bible is very clear about our responsibilities. Matthew 28:19, says to go & make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. There are greater things to be done, Christ has not come back yet and it is our responsibility to make him known until he returns!



I've been meaning to write about the devotions I've been working through this week. Our church is currently doing a series called "Unleashed." Our pastor is preaching on our calling as a church, to individually do our part in making Jesus famous. He challenged us with the question "What is God  calling you to?" In his sermon this week, Pastor Jimmy said that he believes that we are all church planters..not that we are all called to actually plant a church,  but to help in the mission of making Him famous. Along with Jimmy's messages, like I said...our church put out a devotional to work through over the next 30 days or so.  I've committed myself to work through these and really focus on what God has called me to.

I'm asking myself 2 questions..."Who has God called me to be" and "How can I be that person & pursue my calling?" I think I already know what he has called me to...Matt & I work at Journey and so we have a HUGE task on our hands, but am I doing it as efficiently as I should? Am I juggling my calling as a wife, mom, and assistant as efficiently as I should?  I'm really trying to focus and zone in on these questions. Maybe there is something else that I'm ignoring, but I'm pretty sure this is it. I've got to learn to balance my responsibilities at Journey with my new family of 4, plus all the other things in life.

This week I've been challenged with my time, am I using my time efficiently? There's dishes to be done, shopping for our family, kids to take care of and laundry to be done (of course there's more...this is just the short list and when I go back to work in 3 weeks, there will be more) If I'm not spending time with the Lord before all of these things, I'm trying to do it on my own. I know this...I've known this since surrendering my life to Christ. But I must surrender daily. I've already learned that I can't do these things on my own...not to the best of my ability...and I'm certainly not glorifying the Lord with these tasks of life if I'm not giving the day to him. Someone will make me mad or something will irritate me and I will lose it... If I'm a heir to the throne, I must act like it...(Ephesians 1 & 2) This means my life must glorify the one who gave His life for ME. So, this week I'm working on my priorities. In Philippians 3:8, Paul writes that "everything else should be considered garbage when compared to the infinite value of knowing Christ." Ouch! I certainly don't prioritize my life like this...if only I had the faith that Paul had. He goes on to say in verses 12-16 that he knows he isn't perfect, but that he strives to be like Christ until he finishes the race." I have so much to learn and a long ways to go in order to be like Christ, but I'm thankful for the calling that I have and that is to get to know him more so that I can be like Christ.

I've rambled enough, if you get a chance, follow along with our sermon here and the devotions here...I promise you, your life will be changed!


No Land, No Animals, Just God...

I recently did a study on the book of Joshua with my quad & now I'm doing it again on my own (along with a study on Ephesians) but today I read Joshua 13 and it really hit home. There's no sense in me writing about it though, my friend Tasha (also in my quad) already wrote about it and she did a far better job writing about it than I would, so check it out here: http://tashavia.blogspot.com/2012/10/no-land-no-animalsjust-god.html

Friday Flashback #3...on Monday: A Picture

It was a busy week last week and when Friday got here, I was just ready to spend time with my family so my blog got neglected. For my Friday Flashback, I wanted to share a picture of one of my favorite things I did with Laney this summer:

Yep, play in her kiddie pool. Almost every Friday Matt & I didn't have something going on (because Friday is family day and we tried to plan fun things to do with Laney) we filled up her pool and spent most of the day in the backyard. As I write this on such a dreary & cold Monday...I'm missing that pool time. It's going to be a great fall/winter, but I am looking forward to those warm spring & summer days that we can put Benjamin & Laney in their kiddie pool and let them splash around. :)

ps- Look how little she looks! She has grown so much in just 4 months...time flies WAY too fast!


Do I Really Love and Serve That Way?

One of my favorite ways to worship the Lord is through music...unfortunately, I am a terrible singer. My family swears I'm tone deaf, although I'm not THAT bad but I'm definitely not gifted in that way. God often teaches me things through listening to worship music.

This past week I heard Chris Tomlin's song..."I Will Follow." I have heard this song a million times and I actually wrote a blog post about it about 2 years ago. It's one of my favorite worship songs, but when I heard it this past week God really spoke to me on one particular part of the song.

Part of the chorus says "Who You love, I'll love and who You serve, I'll serve and if this life I lose, I will follow You" When I heard that, I began asking myself "Do you really LOVE the way God loves, do you really SERVE the way He serves?"Over and over, I felt like God was saying "Magan evaluate yourself...you do a great job of acting like you really LOVE people and serve them, but do an attitude check. Do you really LOVE people who hurt you, or do you act like you do, but "secretly" have an attitude about it. Do you SERVE people even when they do nothing for you? It's not about getting something in return...its about glorifying MY name and making me famous." Wow! He's right...my attitude towards people who don't necessarily do me the way I think they should is not always great. I do like to serve people, but do I always do it with a grateful and cheerful heart? I was really convicted.

His word says "If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and a servant of ALL" (Mark 9:35) and "As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace." (1 Peter 4:10) It also says to "serve the Lord with gladness." (Psalm 100:2) This means with a happy heart & with love. Speaking of love, He does not call us to love only those who treat us right, or those who we choose to love. In fact, one of His greatest commands is to "LOVE one another" (John 15:12 Matthew 22:39, & 1 John 4:11) This seems so simple, yet it's not. It's one of the hardest things. Sometimes I don't understand why I have to LOVE people who hurt me or treat me the way I think I should be treated. Well, it's because HE loves ME and I don't deserve it. He died on the cross for MY sins. He calls us to take up our cross daily and FOLLOW him. Not when it's easy, not when we want to, but daily...and this means showing people love and grace, just like He did for us when he died on the cross. This is something I know I struggle with. It's easy to serve and love people I don't know...but what about people who I do know. It's not about what I want or what I can get out of something....it's about a LOVE far greater that I will ever comprehend. Jesus gave his life for ME so I could LIVE for him...and this means sucking up my pride and my selfishness to LOVE and SERVE like he does, even when "I" don't want to. 

We all have those people in our lives. Who is that difficult person to love and serve? WHO will YOU LOVE and SERVE today? That's the question I'm asking myself today, ask yourself the same.


Currently...2 Months Later

3 months ago I got the idea from my friend Sara to write about what was going on in our lives "currently." I thought it would be fun to write the same post and compare what was going on in our lives 3 months ago to now...since SO much has changed for us. You can check out the original post here.

loving: life, we're still crazy busy but in a different way. Our sweet little Ben is my main focus during the day right now but I've also taken on all of our day to day responsibilities (cooking, cleaning, etc.) for the most part since I'm home all day.
reading: I am reading this time! I'm rereading the book of Joshua & Ephesians and I'm also reading (slowly, but I'm doing it!) a leadership book called "Developing the Leader Within You," by John Maxwell. I am such a slow reader, but I am determined to do it while I'm on maternity leave.
waiting for: not much...I'm trying to enjoy these 8 weeks off and take it all in. I guess if I'm waiting for anything I'm waiting the 2nd weekend in November. We're going to Boone for an Appalachian football game.

excited about: Getting our new routine established...we're HUGE on having a consistent schedule for our kids. It also helps Matt & I not forget things. 

missing: Same as last time, my best gal friends AND sister time (who is a best gal friend)

Sorry ladies...this it the ONLY picture I have of all of us

trying to: Soak in my maternity leave & enjoy rest. I'm not one to sit and do nothing...watch tv, read, BLOG more...but I am enjoying it!

working on: ME...God is teaching me a lot about myself & trusting him MORE in this season of life.

enjoying: Fall, this weather is AMAZING!

using: My fall candles...I love the smells of pumpkin and apple pie that fill my house during the fall.

wearing: Normal jeans!!! Yes, I am! I'll be working on getting back into all of my clothes once I've had my 6 week check up...but for now, I am slowly returning back to my normal clothes. SO LONG maternity clothes. Anyone need them? ;)

planning: Meals for the week...it's a busy week!

singing: Yeah, I don't sing...but I've been enjoying some Fernando Ortega on Pandora lately.

needing: A normal routine...we're working on it, but Ben doesn't love to nap during the day but I'm determined his schedule will work out. Laney was a piece of cake, but Ben seems to be a little more stubborn.

learning: I'm RELEARNING that I am a DAUGHTER of THE King. Learning to love myself again & see myself as HE sees me.

listening: Rascal Flatts on my pandora.

wishing: I was back at the beach...yep, same as 3 months ago. I sure do love that place!

doing: Enjoying a little "Magan" time to write a few blog posts while Ben sleeps. 

praying for: My family, as God teaches us how to be a family of 4!

dreaming of: Christmas...I LOVE Christmas & all it brings.

So, what are you currently up to???



Happy 1 Month Birthday Benjamin!

Ben is 1 month old today! My sweet little boy is growing SO much faster than his sister did. Like I said in yesterday's post...time flies by so fast! I'm enjoying being a mom of 2 and we're adjusting just fine. Laney doesn't seem to jealous..she hasn't reverted back to any "baby" tendencies...in fact, she rocks his swing when he cries or runs over to where we are when we're holding him just to kiss him. When she wakes up in the morning she has to give mom, dad, AND Benjamin a kiss.

He's sweet & snuggly, loves his momma to hold him (yep, I got my momma's boy!) and he is such a handsome little man. More than anything, he's healthy!  Benjamin Scott Keith, you are a HUGE blessing to our family..mommy & daddy love you more than you will ever know little buddy!

Friday Flashback: Vacation 2012, Part 2

Today's Friday Flashback takes us back to the summer...toes in the sand, not a worry in the world, ferry rides & Laney's 1st birthday!

By the way, before I get started I must apologize to my friend Whitney...I didn't realize her Friday posts were Friday Flashbacks too. Sorry girl, wasn't trying to be a copycat.

While we were on vacation, I wrote a post entitled "Vacation 2012" but I didn't finish it. I said there would be a 2nd post with more pictures and I never wrote it. You can read about our trip in that 1st post, below are the pictures I promised...

We really did have a great vacation, I can't wait to go again in 2013. Oh, how I love the BEACH! 


It Won't Be Like This for Long

I'm not a sentimental person, in fact, I don't usually cry about stuff. I don't cry during movies, at weddings (normally), and I just don't usually get emotional about stuff. However, there are a few songs that really get to me...like I usually don't make it through the song & I have to turn it off. One of which is "It Won't be Like This for Long," by Darius Rucker. It used to make me think of my mom and how it kills her that I'm so far away (ok...2 hours, but to her I live a planet away). Now it makes me think of my own children. I remember the 1st time it hit me that this song was going to be my story...I was driving home from Wendell Middle one afternoon (when I was teaching) and I was about 7 months pregnant with Laney. I called Matt on the phone and just broke down...poor Matt.

Anyways...I recently wrote a post about how Matt reminded me in the middle of the night that Ben's sleeplessness in the middle of the night was only a season, that it wouldn't be like this forever. Since then, as I wrote about, I've really tried to embrace every moment...no matter how tired or frustrated I get. Today, I was getting ready and Ben had just started screaming (because right now he won't sleep for more than 45 minutes during the day and I can't figure it out) and THE song came on my pandora station. Ugh, really? I just wanted to be in a bad mood because he wouldn't sleep and I am tired and seriously?!?! Ok God, I got ya...I'm changing my mood to a "happy heart" right now.

My Benjamin is a month old tomorrow...it's already flying by!

And my Laney...she's 15 months old!!! What in the world?

You know people always tell you, it won't be like this for long...yeah, they're right...so to all my other mom friends...lets embrace this time! They grow up WAY too fast!

ps- If you aren't a Darius Rucker fan or you don't know the song...here's a link


2012 State Fair

Yesterday Matt took his day off for the week instead of Friday and we loaded up the kids for the state fair. We knew this would be a completely different experience from our "normal" fair trip because we were toting 2 kids who really couldn't enjoy the fair to it's entirety yet. Laney would enjoy the animals & the food...and well Benjamin, poor guy, would just be along for the ride. We set out about 10:30 for our day and we had so much fun showing Laney around the fair that we didn't get home until 5:00!

Matt & I LOVE the NC State Fair, I've written posts about it before...so I won't bore you about how much we love the fair. To make it short...we don't normally ride anything. We go for the exhibits, the food & to people watch. Several people had volunteered to watch the kids so we could go by ourselves, but we wanted to take Laney because she loves animals so much and we figured Benjamin would be fine just riding around. Some of you reading probably think we're crazy for lugging out kids to the fair at such a young age but we were up for the challenge. Unfortunately, we did an awful job at taking pictures but with 2 kids so small...we honestly just forgot. We did get a few to document our trip though and you know what, we had a GREAT time! We did a lot of eating...for us it's tradition to start out with a pickle...

Then get our meal (either lunch or dinner)
Laney enjoyed a hand dipped corn dog, Matt & I the usual foot long hotdog and ribbon fries.

Ben enjoyed his bottle (notice the sticker...give to him by some old lady in passing)

and end the trip to the fair with dessert.

This year Matt & I shared dessert...we tried deep fried girl scout cookies (carmel delights). My inital reaction was that they were pretty good to try but not my favorite fair food...by last night I was wishing I had more!   

Laney had cotton candy as her dessert...she LOVED it! 

We did manage to take Laney to see some animals and Laney was in awe...I'm not sure she knew what to think. They were a little bigger than her fisher price barnyard animals!
And if you're wondering what Ben enjoyed...he enjoyed napping in his stroller seat in the awesome fall weather.

Oh and by the way, if you still think we're crazy for taking our littles with us...yes, we did survive and genuinely did have a good time. Although, we did feel somewhat like an exhibit ourselves at times. You see...it was senior citizens day and every old lady & man we came across wanted to tell us how precious our kids were and wanted to know if we were having more...bless their hearts!


Friday Throwback: Laney's Birthday Party

I'm introducing a new mini series on my blog today, "Throwback Friday." Not a very original name, but for lack of energy sake...it's what I'm calling it. Over the next few weeks, at least while I'm on maternity leave, I'm using this series to attempt to catch up on all of the important things I wanted to blog about over the past few months that I never got to. This week I'll be writing about Laney's 1st birthday party.
Growing up birthday parties were a HUGE deal in our house, there are 4 kids in my family and all of us were born close to or on holidays. (I was born on Easter, my sister the day before Thanksgiving, my middle brother was born on Father's Day and my youngest brother on Christmas Day) My mom always wanted to make us feel extra special on our birthday since we had to share it with a holiday. We always had themed birthday parties and from the time I was 6 or so until I graduated from high school I had sleepovers for my birthday. Matt & I decided back when I started planning Laney's party that I couldn't break the bank planning birthday parties for our kids (because after all, I LOVE hosting parties, I love planning parties and well...I love to party!) but we could go "big" for our kid's 1st birthday parties. It's a milestone for Laney, but also for us...that we survived our 1st year as parents. 

Like I mentioned earlier, I like to plan & I like to host parties...So, here's a list of things I took into consideration when I started with planning her party:

1. Laney's nickname is "Laney bug." We've spent the year in sort of a lady bug theme. She was a lady bug for her 1st Halloween and I knew that after this year, I wouldn't get much say in what the theme of her party was...so picking a theme was easy. We went with a picnic theme...of course using lady bugs.

2. The location of her party was easy...we'd do it in our backyard that is perfect for entertaining, even though we never use it. (Disclaimer...I won't ever plan a HUGE party in our backyard again though, I stressed way too much over rain and it did rain so we had to move present opening inside and crammed about 35 people (most of which were kids) in our tiny living room, which now is quite comical) Nevertheless, the location was still perfect for her party...

3. Laney's birthday is July 10th, right in the middle of vacation season and right in the middle of the summer...when everyone is super busy. So, I decided to go simple with food. We'd do hotdogs, chips, a few fixings & cupcakes. No need to go elaborate & it needed to be kid friendly...because our friends have a lot of kids. I made the cupcakes because I'm not a fan of grocery store cake & who has $100 to spend on cupcakes from the fancy bakeries we have in Raleigh. (This was a big deal for me...the last time I attempted to make cake icing, it was a disaster! Kuddos to my friend Amanda for teaching me how to make easy and delicious icing!)
4. Decorations had to be cheap. I could not reason spending a bunch of money on decorations for a 1 year old's birthday party, but I like to decorate...so I gathered what I already had around my house and only ended up spending money on construction paper, gingham material & some white daises (I think I spent about $50 total and I plan to reuse the gingham material for Ben's 1st birthday part and then I'll make something with it, because the material was a little pricey...but it was cheaper than buying table cloths) Instead of using tables & needing decorations for tables, we decided to lean on the picnic theme and have people bring lawn chairs & blankets...which turned out great for the kids! I made her banner & we made a banner to display every month of her year... I was so proud of my creations & the way decorations turned out. I will always make decorations in the future...so much cuter than wasting money on stuff and a great keepsake for a memory box!

(Excuse my awful pictures...I for some reason didn't take any close up shots...but you get the idea)

5. I wanted to have party favors, but what kind of party favors do you have for a 1 year old's birthday party? I didn't want to do traditional party bags & waste a bunch of money on toys for bags (because there were about 25 kids here), so I made chocolate covered pretzels that looked like lady bug antennas. I was super proud of my creation and everyone loved them!
6. Her outfit came from my best fried from 5th grade, Krystal. She is amazingly talented and makes the cutest little outfits...personalized for kids with their name on it. You have to check out her work, the profits from what she makes goes towards their adoption fund. Her website is www.krystaloriginal.com 


Overall, her party was probably the highlight of my summer and a memory we will always have! I kind of feel like I am bragging on myself a little for the way her party turned out, but seriously I was SOOOO proud of myself for making all of the food, including cupcakes and making all of the decorations (with the help of my amazing partner in crime, Matt who did an awesome job on her invites and picture banner) and for pulling off an awesome 1st birthday party for our sweet Laney bug! She had a great time & we got some awesome pictures to remember it thanks to my awesome and very talented sis-in-law!

(By the way, it ended up being quite the large party...which we probably won't do again until she turns 5) It was fun to plan, but I will admit, was a LARGE party and we can't do THAT big every year!



On Monday I promised I'd write about the "slap in the face" God gave me during my time with him Monday morning...then the week got away from me. So, here we are...Thursday and I'm finally getting around to it. Just warning you...I'm about to really open up & be real...

I always start my time off with God by journaling whatever is on my mind...to clear my head in preparation to be in the word. Sometimes, God speaks to me then and the stuff I had planned on studying gets thrown out the window. On Monday I was writing about how I'm so tired of change...we've gone from no kids and working in "corporate America" to 2 kids and BOTH of us working in full time ministry in just 2 years...yes we have more flexibility in our daily schedule, but it's been a huge change for us in many other ways (financially, mentally, emotionally, etc.). I was writing about how God has a plan for our family & how I know he knows whats best for us, but I want to feel normal. I'm sick of change every few months. I've gotten to where I'm always wondering "what's next," instead of enjoying our time where God has us. That's when he slapped me in the face. I came across Proverbs 3:5-6 (which I could say to you in my sleep because we spent the whole summer of 2005 teaching about it) when I was digging for scripture on trust & praising God through different seasons of life. The verse says "Trust in the Lord with ALL of your heart, LEAN NOT on your OWN UNDERSTANDING, in all your ways acknowledge him and HE will DIRECT your PATH." That's when he slapped me, "Magan, it's not about you...it's not about what YOU want or what YOU understand. It's about ME and living your life for MY GLORY. I gave my ONLY SON for YOU." I was then reminded that at 3:00 Monday morning when Benjamin could not get comfortable and would not sleep and I was complaining, Matt rolled over and said to me "Magan, this is just a season...it won't last long. He'll be sleeping through the night soon." It's just a season...it won't last long...

WOW, put both of those thoughts together (God's slap in my face & Matt's wisdom at 3 am) and I was a ball of mess. I started digging harder for scripture and God gave me much more encouragement for my weary, but selfish heart... Psalm 33:21 says "For our heart is GLAD, because we TRUST in His HOLY name." GLAD because I TRUST in HIS HOLY NAME....He also gave me Ephesians 2:1-10 and Romans 5:8 to dwell on. After reading all of this, I had to ask myself,"Am I glad because the God of the universe (Heb. 1:1-4) has a plan for selfish me? Am I soaking in this season of my life?" Ben & Laney won't always be little and I'm missing out, we won't always be "broke" and if we are...who cares? (Let me revise this part of my post...my friend Robin reminded me that I shouldn't use the word "broke." I am not "broke," I am immensely RICH. God had given me many blessings, far beyond what I deserve. I have the best husband in the world, 2 amazing, healthy kids, lots of great friends, an awesome extended family, a job that I don't even consider a job because I get to help people follow Jesus, and so many other things that I could list off...thanks Robin!) It's not about ME, it's about HIM. I must stop wanting something different and enjoy this season and glorify him, be GLAD because he chose this time and this life for me. I've got stop complaining about what keeps changing and make sure I am living a life that is glorifying to the God who gave his ONLY son so I could live...

What a way to start my week! He's given me little nuggets all week to be reminded of how much he cares for me and for my family. I'm working on me. I've got to stop complaining and start living a life that truly is glorifying to God in all areas...not just the ones I choose!

Hymned Again

I'm a sucker for hymns...I grew up in a Southern Baptist church singing old hymns every Sunday. We laugh now and often joke about growing up singing old hymns with a piano & organ every week. (No offense to those of you who still do, it's all a preference thing and there is NOTHING wrong with it so don't get your panties in a wad...I just said I love hymns) Anyways...we don't sing hymns often at Journey, but when we do I LOVE IT...especially when we do one that has a modern/new twist...with a new tune or different sound. There's just something about the words of an old hymn that have been written that have such truth...not that the new worship songs out there don't, but a lot of old hymns get neglected & looked over these days. I was recently introduced to a station on Pandora by a friend at Journey that plays old hymns...type in "Fernando Ortega" and you'll enjoy the bliss :)

It's good stuff, but I'm writing specifically about a new album that Bart Millard recently released, (He's the lead singer in Mercy Me for all of you Contemporary Christian fans)...it's called "Hymned Again." He has simply taken old hymns and put a new twist on them...it's different, but I like it. It's almost got a New Orleans twist to it...you should check it out here.

Happy Tuesday!


Our Little Boy

What a wild ride the past 10 months have been...I remember calling some of my girlfriends just 9 months ago and crying my eyes out because I was pregnant again. That sounds so awful, but really we were not planning to get pregnant when our little Laney was only 6 months old. Apparently, God had different plans for us and OH BOY! I am so glad he did. On September 19th, 2 weeks before his due date, little Benjamin Scott Keith made his grand entrance into this world.

I won't bore you with my labor story, but lets just say when I went to the doctor on Tuesday the 18th the doctor told me Ben wasn't coming anytime soon. Well, he was WRONG! God, once again, had different plans when I started having contractions that night that progressively got more painful as the next 16 or so hours went on. Finally, I was admitted to the hospital on the 19th around 2 pm and Ben was born at 6:14pm. He weighed  7 lbs and 9 oz, he was 20, 1/2 inches long and looked just like his big sister...except he had WAY MORE hair. He's even got sideburns like Elvis :)

New Seasons

This morning I sat down to have some quiet time after I put Benjamin down for his nap. I was just planning on reading some the study I've been doing on the book of Joshua and journaling a little...and of course enjoy my cup of pumpkin spice coffee. My quiet time turned into a slap in the face & some asking the Lord to forgive me and change my attitude... (more to come on all of that later)

I was also inspired to do exactly what I said I was going to spend my maternity leave doing...writing, blogging, reading & having the Magan time I NEVER get to have. (Kelly Via, that's for you!) My Magan time, as a working mom, is usually early in the morning, during a lunch break or before I go to bed at night...when I say Magan time I mean Me & God time, Magan time to do whatever I want & sometimes Matt time. This time comes in spurts...I never have more than 30 minutes at a time to do just what I want to do. I want to really enjoy this season of life & get the most of it...after all, it only comes one time!

I have so many blogs that I've wanted to write...vacation from JULY!, Laney's 1st birthday party, what God's doing at Journey, in my life, the arrival of our sweet little Benjamin, and all kinds of other things....from "my favorites list" to what God is teaching me right now. So I'm apologizing now for the "flash back" posts that are to come, but they are for me...after all, my blog is my way of documenting things for memory sake. I don't want to miss a beat!

On a different note, this weather is AMAZING today. I have fall candles lit, a cup of pumpkin coffee beside me, and an over-sized ASU sweatshirt on today. My kids are both bundled up & look so cute in their fall clothes.

Life is grand & I'm enjoying the start of this new season!


It's Crazy Around Here...and so is this post!

I must warn you before you read...this post is a modge podge of different topics & a bit unorganized, but so is life right now...

It's so crazy around the Keith house right now...Matt's basically living at Journey and I'm also crazy busy getting ready things ready for our grand re-opening on August 12th, as well as playing the role of mommy, wife, and a 7 month prego lady! We're 1 week into what we knew would be a crazy 2 weeks of final preparations and I'm doing okay...I had a bit of a melt down on Wednesday evening when Matt finally got home at 9:30, but my friend Heidi came to my rescue last night and made me come to her house for dinner & rest. (Which by the way is the reason I'm able to say I'm surviving today...taking time to let someone else cook dinner for you & make you put your feet up and rest works WONDERS sometimes!) 

Keep us in your prayers over the next week as we make final preparations at Journey for the 12th. If you're in the Raleigh area, you don't want to miss August 12th at Journey! We have the grand opening of our new kids & student space, a cd release of Journey originals, which by the way is AMAZING, relaunch of our student ministry, a connect party for reveal of new growth groups for the fall, and some other top secret things that are going to be awesome! God is doing some big things in and through Journey Church and I am so thankful to be a part of his work! 

This week I haven't had a chance to read any of my favorite blogs...I have about 50 unread posts in my favorites on my google homepage, but this morning as Laney was napping I happened to briefly scroll through and see that one of my favorite blogs that has been out of commission for almost 2 years is BACK and I just have to share it! If you get a chance, mom friends that like to read and friends that like to decorate... check her out! Such a great blog! If Carrie lived near Raleigh, NC, I totally feel like we'd be friends! 

Speaking of blogs...I owe you all 2 posts and I haven't forgotten, I just haven't had time to pull pictures off of my camera. Posts about the 2nd part of our vacation back in July & Laney's 1st birthday party are coming as promised...I just need to get through August 12th and maybe I'll get those pictures off!

And lastly, on top of the madness around here we've began our rearranging & planning for Baby Ben. Last weekend we moved our futon out of the office and gave it back to Matt's parents (who it belongs to anyway) and now I've begun trying to figure out how to organize our office into a playroom/office and prepare Laney's room for another crib. My sister is coming for the day tomorrow to help me figure out how to decorate each, as I'm feeling a little shabby and too tired to do it on my own.

Craziness in the Keith world right now, hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Anyone taking advantage of tax free weekend?

Pray I keep my sanitiy!




 This post was inspired by one of my best friends in the world and I thought it would be fun to give it a shot...

loving: life, we are crazy busy but I wouldn't trade it. We have the sweetest little girl, a sweet baby boy on the way... Matt & I both are serving with one of the best ministries in Raleigh who are truly doing what it takes to make Jesus famous and doing life with some awesome people.

reading: I wish I could say I was reading something. I've often thought about finding a good book to endulge in, especially at 3 am when I can't sleep..maybe I should work on this...suggestions are appreciated! 

waiting for: well...many things...August 12th would be the most recent "waiting for." We have our grand re-opening of the expanded space at Journey, new CD release, relaunch of our student ministry, fall connect party, and many other awesome things. We're also WAITING on baby Benjamin...just 2 more months :)
excited about: Beginning to prepare our house for Benjamin's arrival this weekend. We're starting to convert our office into a playroom/office this weekend. Yay!

missing: Same as Sara, my best gal friends AND sister time (who is a best gal friend)

Sorry ladies...this it the ONLY picture I have of all of us

trying to: Not wish my pregnancy away...it's not been the most comfortable, but it's probably my last so I want to soak up what I can of it.

working on: Some design ideas for Laney & Ben's room AND our office/playroom. For those of you who don't know me well, I LOVE to decorate but I never have time.

enjoying: Family Day! That's today...every Friday is family day. We try hard not to work on Fridays and to make the most of our day as a family since we work most of the day Sunday. Today we're doing some organizing & heading to the pool with Matt's best friend, Dave.

using: The couch as my bed! I know, kind of a lame to use as my "using," but really...I'm not sleeping well in bed so I usually end up on the couch around 3 am. 

wearing: Maternity clothes! Ha! Looking forward to getting back into my wardrobe after pretty much 2 years in "whatever fits."

planning: Reoccuring theme here...planning for baby Ben. Reorganizing, shopping, showers, more organizing...for the next 2 months.

singing: Yeah, I don't sing...but I've been enjoying some Kari Jobe Pandora lately.

needing: to have some "Magan time." I feel like we're so busy, I just want to refocus and clear my head. Maybe this evening...

learning: To do what's best for MY family...meaning Matt, Laney & myself.

listening: the View...ha! It's just what's on tv right now. Not really paying attention...

wishing: I was back at the beach.

doing: Starring at the mess of baby wipes Laney pulled out of her diaper bag a few minutes ago...

praying for: my mom, for discernment & strength from the Lord
mom sorry, I don't have a recent picture of just the 2 of us!

dreaming of: My sweet little family of 4 come October!

So, what are you currently up to???



He Still Remains the Same

Tonight I was talking to my "little brother," Luke, about a situation thats happening close to us...we were discussing how God always provides in situations where we can't understand why things are happening and always in his perfect way. When all the waves around us seem to be crashing down, when we've done all we can, but things still go way worse than we could ever imagine...he's still the same. Right when we were having that talk, I heard a song come on my pandora that I've never heard before..."Everlasting God" by New Life Worship. It was like God was reminding me of exactly who is he right when I needed it so that I could be an encouragement to someone else.

Check it out here:

One thing I know that I have found
Through all the troubles that surround
You are the Rock that never fails, You never fail

One thing I know that I believe
Through every blessing I receive
You are the only One that stays, You always stay

You never change, You're still the same
You are the Everlasting God
You will remain after the day is gone and the things of earth have passed
Everlasting God

It pertains to so many other situations that I can think of right now, not just the one close to me...the shooting in Colorado last weekend, my friend Kelly's adoption, struggles friends are having in their marriages, a friend's sick mother and so many other things.

GOD is so good to us, he never fails...HE REMAINS the SAME! Praise the Lord!


Kids Exchange

It has been a whirlwind of a week! We've jumped right back into the madness at Journey with construction & preparation for the fall. On top of the madness at Journey, we've had a lot going on at home...getting caught up on laundry from the beach, cleaning house, babysitting for friends, & preparing for Laney's birthday party on Saturday.

I knew the Raleigh Kid's Exchange Consignment sale was going on at the fair grounds this week, but I really didn't think I'd have time to make it. I really wanted to...because obviously we have NOTHING for a little boy, we needed another carseat for Laney at school, and we're gonna need a double stroller soon. I contemplated all week trying to go and then yesterday a friend from church that was selling stuff offered her extra shopping pass to shop a day earlier than the public. Today was hectic, but I was determined to go...even if were just to look for the bigger items we need: a carseat & double stroller. I've had friends tell me about the awesome deals on clothes & toys they've gotten, but I knew I wouldn't have much time for that today (which I'm beating myself up for now because I could have shopped another 2 hours and gotten some really awesome deals on clothes for the kids.) The last time they had the kids exchange, I went the last day and didn't really find much, so today was a TOTALLY different experience! 

Here's what I came home with...

 A BRAND NEW carseat for Laney to have at her babysitter's house...I paid $50! It probably runs for about $120 in stores.
 A few things for Benjamin...a BRAND NEW fleece jacket, with tags on it...some overalls (all little boys need them!), some pjs, and a few onesies...yes, I got him a halloween onesie...he's born in October, he has to have it!

 A few things for Laney...a winter jacket, a little Christmas dress, a pair of jeans & a cute top.
Little people farmhouse! Laney is going to be so excited when we give this to her. Matt's parents still have the one he played with when he was little and she LOVES it. We've been looking for one for our house, but they sell for about $40 in stores and we had already gotten her a little people dollhouse to give her for her birthday Saturday... this one was $12 in excellent condition...still makes noises & has the pieces.

Overall I spent $100...not too bad for my 1st trip to the Kid's Exchange considering the carseat itself would have cost more than that. I'm looking forward to more shopping adventures at the Kid's Exchange and hopefully I'll be able to make a few more consignment sales between now and when Benjamin comes!

What's everyone up to this weekend? Like I said, we're celebrating Laney's birthday Saturday evening. She's having a ladybug picnic themed party...I'm super excited, I love planning parties and I can't wait to see Laney dig into her cake! Stay tuned, pictures to come!