Friday, May 18, 2012


Sunday was Dedication Sunday for Parents and Children at our church.

They hold a dedication service once a year on Mother's Day, but rather than calling it a Baby Dedication like many other churches, including the ones I grew up in, our church calls it a Parent-Child Dedication service with an emphasis on dedicating parents. I like that our church emphasizes dedicating us as parents to the job of training and teaching our children in Christ. It was an honor to be part of the service and to know that so many people have committed to pray for our family as we raise Ryder and teach him about our God who loves him even more than Tyler and I can. Ryder loved the service too! He was thrilled to be up in front of so many people, and he beamed when the congregation clapped for him! Not to mention, it was another excuse for him to sport his sear-sucker suit! :)

It was such a special day for our family. Tyler's family made the trip in for the service, as well as my family. Afterwards, we all went to my parents' house to eat, celebrate, and play with Ryder. This was the first occassion since our wedding that we've had all of our family together, minus Garrett who was preparing for his finals and college graduation.  It was a special day, and I'm so glad I got to spend my first real Mother's Day with family celebrating my precious boy!

Three Generations of Harden Men

Four Generations

Ryder's Aunties

How Does Your Garden Grow?

"Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row!"

OK, so my name's not Mary, and I have no idea what silver bells or cockle shells are, and I was pretty certain that pretty maids were nice looking single women, which I can assure you are NOT growing in my yard! However, I am learning to become a much better gardner, and the lilacs, peonies, roses, petunias, geraniums, begonias, etc. are all abloom this year! Our first two years of marriage, I was convinced that our house was where plants came to die, and that I had inherited a black thumb instead of a green thumb like my mom, both grandmothers, and even my great-grandmothers. So coming from a long line of Southern women who are all excellent gardeners, you can imagine my disappointment when everything I tried to plant died, including a pumpkin sitting on our front porch for Halloween that rotted out after only a week! But I was up for a challenge! I was determined to learn how to plant and grow flowers! I love all the beautiful colors, and well, to be honest, I hate failing at anything. So I started working at it. I learned what flowers were mostly resilient, and began to experiment with others. It was definitely a process of trial and error, and I'm not claiming to be a great gardner, I just learned what could survive my semi-black thumb when it comes to gardening.

This year I had a lot of work ahead of me. After taking a bit of a hiatus from gardening last year due to my large, pregnant belly and record breaking summer heat, my flower beds were a mess. There were vines growing over the monkey grass and threatening to overtake our shed, there was monkey grass growing into the lilac and azalea bushes, and there were bamboo bushes that were climbing to heights of seven and eight feet, not to mention the many weeds growing all over. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me! But I'm pretty pleased with the result, and after a couple of weeks of hard work, it feels good to have finished the project and see the fruit of my labor. It takes work to grow a garden, but it takes even more work to grow the garden of the heart.

I enjoy gardening. It's cathartic and allows me time to burn energy and clear my mind, plus I love seeing the end result and knowing it's because of all the work I put into it. Over the years, as I've been digging around in my flower beds, I constantly am reminded how ironic it is that the plants I want to grow take so much work, while the plants I'd prefer not to grow (you know, those little things called weeds) can thrive without any effort on my part to help them. It always makes me think of the curse after the fall of man in Genesis, and how we must now toil and sweat in order to make the ground produce what we desire. It certainly makes me wonder what the Garden of Eden must have looked like without any dandelions or crab grass. But it also makes me think of the "fruits" growing in my own life. Those things we don't want growing in our lives, selfishness, pride, hatred, greed, etc., come so naturally and can take root at anytime, and when left unattended, can begin to grow wild and untamed in our lives choking out the good fruits in our life. Meanwhile, the good fruits, or the Fruit of the Spirit, take work, well at least they do in my life. I have to work at demonstrating patience, loving others, controling myself, being kind to everyone, or even having joy in all things. I have to tend the garden of my heart regularly, seeking what God wants to grow in me, and allowing Him to pull out those weeds of sin and prune back the will of self, so that His fruit might abound in my heart. I love to have a beautiful yard that catches the eyes of others, but even moreso, I hope that I am drawing the attention of the world because of the work that God is doing in my heart, and His love shining through me. It takes work, and sometimes the process is painful, but in the end, hopefully it makes me more like Him and draws others to my Savior.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Motherly Advice

In respect of Mother's Day having been on Sunday (yes, I know I'm a little behind on this, we had a lot going on last week), anyways, as I was saying, in respect of Mother's Day I want to share some words of wisdom that my amazing mom always told me, and that has served me very well in my lifetime.

Words of Wisdom #1: "You have to be a friend to have friends."
I used to give my students sayings like this and ask them to explain it in their own words and tell me if they agreed with it or not for daily journals, and I always started the year out with this one. But I was surprised by some of their interpretations of this saying, thinking that they had to be someone they weren't to please others or earn their friendship. So I always had to explain to them what my mother meant by it, and why it meant so much to me. You see, I was kind of a shy kid growing up, and still can be at times, and I would often complain that I didn't have any friends. My mom would explain to me that because I was so standoffish (I don't really know if that's a word, but I use it frequently, so in my dictionary it is), others interpreted my behavior as being stuck up. I was surprised by this, because I definitely didn't feel that way, so she taught me that I had to be friendly to others and show them that I was interested in them, so that we could strike up a friendship. It sounds really easy, if you're like my mom or sister, but for me, it was a daunting task. But as I've gotten older and followed her advice, I've learned how right she is. I guess another way of explaining her advice is, "People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." The art of making friends comes in selflessness and pure joy in learning about others. As a result of my mom's advice, I have gained many friends in my lifetime, and am so thankful for them!

Words of Wisdom #2: "Get your chores done first, and then you'll have the rest of the day to do whatever you please."
Believe it or not, when I was younger, I was a huge procrastinator. I hated doing book reports or school projects and would put them off for as long as I could. I realize now that I put things off that I felt like I wouldn't be successful at or that I had never tried before and feared I wouldn't be good at, and I often catch myself doing that now as an adult. But my mom was not a fan of my procrastination, mainly because it always resulted in me dissolving into tears or being up half the night literally worried sick over it, and mom holding my hair back and patting my back. So mom made a rule that we always had to get our chores done first, and then the rest of the day was mine to spend how I chose (which was often with a book in hand!). Now as an adult with an endless "to-do" list it seems, I am so thankful that my mom made me learn to get my chores done first, so that I had something to look forward to when they were done. Knowing that I can sit down and read a book or watch a movie after a hard day's work makes me work much faster, and then I rest comfortably knowing nothing is still hanging over my head to be done later.

Words of Wisdom #3: "Life is what you choose to make it, regardless of your past."
I can't stand whining, complaining or people making excuses! This pet-peeve was often tested as a high school teacher. But I truly can't stand when people choose not take responsibility for their actions and try to blame others. My parents both came from difficult backgrounds, but they chose to make their own lives better, just like my grandparents before them. My mom and dad have lots of reasons why they shouldn't be good parents or have a strong marriage, but they chose to make improvements in those areas of their lives, and rise above what they were raised in. Everyone faces hardships and troubles, and sometimes there's nothing you can do to fix those things, but you can choose how you face it. You can whine and complain about it, but that usually just makes things worse, so my mom always would say, "Just get up and shake it off and keep going."

My mom is an incredible woman. She may not be perfect, but I think she's as close to it as possible, and I'm so thankfu that God blessed me by giving me such a strong and wise woman to look up to and learn from. She loves my sister and I unconditionally, and she sees the best in us. She encourages us, and sometimes admonishes us. She listens, and she wipes our tears. My mom is my best friend and the one I turn to, when I need advice or want someone to celebrate with me. She's the one I look up to, and hope to be like one day. I don't know if I'll ever be as good of a mom as she is, but I'm certainly going to try, and I'm so thankful to have her example to follow! I love my mom so much!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What You Get When You Have a Baby, a Dog, and a Newspaper

Ryder and Boston started playing together, but I think we might need to work on learning to share!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

And We're Moving!!

Ryder has learned to crawl, and I finally captured a quick video of his new talent!! :)


Ryder also loves to drive his car! :)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Eight Months Update

Well before Ryder is nine months, I should probably get to updating you on the happenings of his eighth month of life!

It has been a fun month of watching Ryder "rock and roll" as his Grammy put it, in an effort to learn to finally crawl! Yes, that's right folks! Ryder is finally mobile! And pretty darn fast I might add!! :) At first, he would get up on his hands and knees and rock back and forth, and then he began to scoot, but my favorite was the log roll, which he quickly discovered was a mch faster mode of transportation! well and Now he uses his arms and hands to pull his body forward, it's quite the unique way to crawl, and we're pretty sure he has the best upper body strength of any baby out there, but he's so proud of himself and grins ear to ear when he crawls to us, showing us how talented he is!

We celebrated Ryder's first Easter too this monh. We visited with Mawmaw, Martha, Charlie, Bryan, and David on Saturday, and then went to church with my parents on Easter Sunday and spent the afternoon with them. I was a fun day, and poor Ryder was completely worn out by the end! :)

Ryder also cut his second tooth, shortly after I posted his seven month update. They've grown in pretty well, and although I was deeply worried about losing that toothless grin, I must say that this toothy grin is just as adorable if not more so! I wish I could have captured it in a picture, but now that he's mobile and endlessly busy, it's next to impossible to capture a close up picture!

We also spent our first weekend away from Ryder while we celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe we're been married that long already, and we had a fun trip to Pigeon Forge, TN to celebrate! Ryder of course did great while staying with his Nana and Grandpa and aunt Caitlyn. But we were so happy to get back home to our sweet boy after a few days apart!


Ryder also got a visit from his Great Grammy and Grandpa Ingram! We were so glad they were able to stop by on their way back up to Massachusetts! Ryder was excited to see them and spend some time on his Great Grammy's lap! :)

We've also bee spending quite a bit more time outside now that the weather's getting warmer, and Ryder's new favorite thing to do is swing! He's been swinging at Nana's house, but this past month, Tyler built Ryder a swing for our backyard, and Ryder is loving every minute of it! And Tyler is quite the talented builder, I might add! :) We also went swimming the other day as the temperature climbed into the 90s. Ryder loves to play in the water during bathtime, but I wasn't sure how he'd feel about playing in cold water. But I quickly discovered that water is water to Ryder and he had a great time splashing and playing!! :)

All in all, it's been a fun month! Ryder's a happy-go-lucky little guy that never seems to run out of energy, and constantly keeps us on our toes! Especially now that he's on the move!! :)

Life is Precious

In the past few days, I have been overwhelmed with news that has broken my heart. From a dear college friend whose three year old was diagnosed with leukemia two days ago ( to an acquaintance from high school whose eight year old son is battling a rare form of lymphoma and will most likely lose his sight to a news story from China about a woman was forced to have an abortion nine months into her pregnancy because she had violated the One Child Per Family law, and had to listen to her newborn's cries as it died a slow death and was denied the opportunity to comfort her child (, and then a former co-worker found out her unborn baby may not survive the pregnancy.
As  a new mommy, I can't even fathom what these mothers must be feeling. The thought of losing my child or seeing him suffer in any way is unbearable, and I am so grateful that Ryder is a happy, healthy baby (something I sometimes take for granted). I believe my role as a mom is to protect and nurture my child, but in these situations that role becomes impossible to fulfill. I can't imagine how lost and helpless I might feel, and in my heart I pray that God would never ask me to go through such a difficult situation. But I also know that that is a very selfish prayer. So, I pray that God will give me the faith I would need to endure such a tragedy in life, and hope that I never have to go through one. And, I do the thing I used to preach to my students all the time; remember that life is precious and not take any moment for granted. We only have one life to live, and we're not promised tomorrow, so we must treasure the blessings God has given us today. Which for me, means I hold my sweet boy a little tighter and a tad bit longer, and thank the Lord for such a precious gift.

I don't know why such awful things happen in this world, but I do know the One who has overcome this world and has already defeated both sickness and death. I look forward to the day when my Savior will wipe away all of our tears, turn our mourning into praise, and our sorrow into joy! I hate that these families are suffering at this time, and I ask you to join me in praying for each of them that the Lord would surround them with His peace and love, and that they would know that He is in control and trust His hand. And I also ask that you pray for healing for these two young boys who are battling different forms of cancer, and this baby who may not even get the chance to be born.