Monday, May 30, 2011

picture perfect

While on vacation I came across tons of great family pictures on my mother-in-law's iPad. There seems to always be a camera out at family gatherings, but I guess we all get busy and the pictures get buried in the mausoleum that is the Picture Folder on our computers. I keep saying I'm going to print these off and update the frames around the house. But in case I don't, here are some shots of the Gooden Family.
my mother-in-law, Dana, me and Elphie enjoying an unseasonably warm fall day in my in-laws beautiful back yard.

she loves to pose for the camera

My son is going to be so handsome. Just look at the men in his daddy's family! :)

Celebrating Tevie's 25th Birthday (Aug2010)

there is no end to the torture for our sweet girl. (Christmas 2010)

A candid shot I will treasure FOREVER! Our faces just moments after sharing the news that Baby G was on the way! (Christmas 2010)

my father-in-law, Tim, with his baby Guru

weekend update

It's never good when you end the weekend more exhausted than when you started out! With just 9 (*gulp* NINE!!!) short weeks until Dane makes his big arrival, there was a lot to accomplish around the Gooden home.

We started out Saturday morning with pancakes, a tradition that has fallen by the wayside in the last few months. It's so nice to enjoy the company of my sweet husband and start our day without being in a hurry to get anywhere. The blistering heat was no match for the two of us. We sanded and painted the dresser/changing table, assembled the crib, washed the first two loads of baby clothes, weed-eated, and pressure washed the back deck in preparation for staining later this week. We even snuck in some time for a family reunion/ cook out, watched the whole first season of "Justified" and finished out a season of "Swamp Monsters".

In case you're wondering, it's been one month since we "cut the cord" and got rid of satellite or cable. It's been so much easier than I anticipated. While I am afraid we still spend too much time in front of the TV, it's not on for just background noise any more, instead we only turn it on when we have time to sit down and watch something on Netflix. We've decided to not watch anything rated R (though if "Justified" were a movie it most definitely be rated R!) which limits your programming more than you'd think. So, we end up watching lots of History Channel programs... which helps me "justify" watching 4 episodes in a row of "Swamp Monsters"- it's educational, right?! :) 

It's days like these that make me immeasurable grateful for the incredible husband I have. He's a hard worker and already the world's most dedicated dad. He's been such an amazing help this weekend and we've worked suprisingly well together- something these two bossy first borns don't usually do. :) Here are a few pictures of our accomplishments this weekend. All of the furniture is in, there are cute little clothes sitting the drawers, we need just a few more finishing touches in order for our sweet boy's room to be ready for his arrival.
Thanks to Uncle Norm for assembling the bookcases while we were on vacation. Ikea thinks they are doing you a favor by making their instructions mostly pictorial... but I think they are down right frustrating!

A close up of the most beautiful crib I've ever seen! Thanks, Easter Bunny (and Pop & Granna Pruitt)! This converts from a crib to a toddler bed to a full-size bed. I love that Dane could grow up in this bed, take it with him to his first home, and even convert it back to a crib for his first baby. :)

The dresser/changing table belonged to my brother, Chase. It's a beautiful pine, but I chose to sand and paint it to fit in with Dane's room. I love the way it looks next to the rocker-recliner. Even Elphie approves of my handiwork. Doesn't she make a cute model? :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

maternity photos

Over a year ago, I had the privilege of joining a small women's bible study in the home of a precious friend. In her infinite wisdom, she had three friends she thought would enjoy each others' company and build each other up as they studied the Word. She couldn't have picked a more perfect foursome. I love these three ladies with my whole heart and they have been divinely placed in my life for such a time as this. :) I am grateful to for hours of conversation curled up on Emily's couch, watching with anticipation as our dear friend Wanda Beth (aka: Beth Moore) steps on our toes and tells us what we need to hear... and sometimes we don't want to hear it! 

One of these precious ladies is recognized as Kentucky's best and brightest photographer. Okay, I'm pretty sure that some magazine said that about her, but even if it didn't, it's true! Our Southern California roots bring us together and we can laugh together about the ridiculousness we sometimes find ourselves in living in Southcentral Kentucky. I am privileged and honored that she did my maternity photos. It was a wonderful evening and she made it truly memorable for us- deer ticks and all! :) Check out her work at:

Thank you for capturing this special event in our lives, Alicia. I'm so thankful that because of our friendship I'll never "cry and walk" alone.  

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I love when God drops something in my lap exactly when I need it. Today it was this article.

Here's an excerpt that got my mind moving this afternoon:
The prostitute on the other hand walks into a party of religious people and falls at the feet of Jesus without any care regarding what others are thinking and saying. She’s at the end of herself. More than avoiding an uncomfortable situation, she wanted to be clean, she needed to be forgiven. She was acutely aware of her guilt and shame–she knew she needed help. She understood at a profound level that God’s grace doesn’t demand that you get clean before you come to Jesus. Rather, our only hope for getting clean is to come to Jesus. Only in the Gospel does love precede loveliness. Everywhere else loveliness precedes love.
 There are many, many, many days when I feel like I am just never going to get it right. Though I try and try, satan keeps saying my efforts aren't good enough and since I'll never reach perfection (something this perfectionistic craves), I should just give up now. I think the first step is knowing that those thoughts come from satan. I am reminded that Paul often said he wasn't there yet, but he was better off than he started out. That brings a lot of comfort to this weary soul. 

Of all the vices and strongholds God has demolished and torn from satan's grasp in order to free me, perfectionism is one I just can't seem to let go of. Each time I feel the weight of those chains lifted I panic and dive into God's Sea of Forgetfulness before they reach the bottom, drag them back to the surface and, half-drowned and exhausted from the effort, lock them back on. Why? Because I don't know life without them, Lord. I've always dealt with this and it's just easier to keep lugging them around, okay? In my mind, I've always been and always will be this way. I've taken care of everything else, Lord, just let me hang on to this one thing... "But it's sinful, Allysa". "No, Lord, I've dealt with the sin. I'm totally good. I gave you everything else, just let me keep this fight for perfection, my poor self-image, my opinions that no one can do it as well as I can."

How is this sinful? Because every time I look in the mirror and say I'm not good enough, I say that Psalm 139:14 is a lie. That I am not fearfully and wonderfully made, but rather that the God of the universe who created solar systems, the central nervous system and German Augmented 6ths makes junk. Each time this control freak spins out of control and micro-manages every detail of a dinner party or loading the stinkin' dishwasher, I say that Ephesians 1:11-12 is wrong and that God does not work out everything in conformity and purpose of His will. 

I have to be reminded daily that I don't have to have it right to have hope in Him. "Only in the Gospel does love precede loveliness." Praise be to God. When I lay it down, whatever "it" is, I do not have to pick it up again. In fact, I don't have to have laid it down yet in order to come to Him. He'll hold me and comfort me as He rips that band-aid off. 
"We think it’s a mark of spiritual maturity to hang onto our guilt and shame. We’ve sickly  concluded that the worse we feel, the better we actually are. The declaration of Psalm 103:12 is the most difficult for us to grasp and embrace: “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” Or, as Corrie ten Boom once said, “God takes our sins—the past, present, and future—and dumps them in the sea and puts up a sign that says ‘No Fishing allowed.’”

Pray with me and for me as God unlocks the stupid chains I still carry. I pray you set down your fishing pole, put on your life jacket and don't even think about diving into that Sea to pick up what He's cast off. Floating is much more relaxing than drowning. 


 "East to West" 
Casting Crowns
Here I am, Lord, and I'm drowning in your sea of forgetfulness
The chains of yesterday surround me
I yearn for peace and rest
I don't want to end up where You found me
And it echoes in my mind, keeps me awake tonight
I know You've cast my sin as far as the east is from the west
And I stand before You now as though I've never sinned
But today I feel like I'm just one mistake away from You leaving me this way

Jesus, can You show me just how far the east is from the west
'cause I can't bear to see the man I've been come rising up in me again
In the arms of Your mercy I find rest
'cause You know just how far the east is from the west
From one scarred hand to the other

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Jess and Meagan enjoying the view after dinner

The Prathers came to play! Noah showing off his beach toys.

Tevie, Gordy and Jess enjoying a swim with Noah
Already sunburned!
My sweet Buttercup catching some rays and acting too old for her age. :)
Dinner with my best friend. Great ending to an awesome day
Love this child.

Seriously- there is no cuter husband!

It's been a blessed week! Not looking forward to the drive home tomorrow! :(

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

in the water

... is exactly where my toes will be in 24 hours! These poor swollen feet need a few days in the sand and ocean water to relax them, I think. 

At my check-up yesterday I asked my doctor how to prevent the swelling. I already watch my salt intake very carefully and drink GALLONS of water. And, no, that's not an exaggeration. I am constantly thirsty and drank 4.5 bottles of water from my 1quart water bottle- that's over a gallon. My doctor laughed and said, "Keep them elevated as much as possible and take birth control when you're not pregnant". He's a funny man. I'll definitely practice both of those! 

Each month at our board meeting I like to hold the little fetal models at the center. Can you believe my sweet boy is still this tiny? Why does it feel like he weighs 15lbs, is 4ft tall and carrying around a baseball bat, or pointy stick at the very least? :)

I love spending time with my family and have always loved road trips... well the trip to your destination, the trip home is never fun. Hopefully we come back refreshed and ready to welcome this sweet little boy home in just 11 weeks- that's 77 days!!! Where did the time go? Wasn't I just 11 weeks pregnant and now I only have 11 weeks to go. I think time moves at warp speed when you're frightfully underprepared for the arrival of your first child. 

As much as I love vacation, it's always hard leaving this sweet face for a week. Thankfully the pups don't have to go to puppy prison- I mean, the kennel- they get to stay at home and be cared for by a good friend. 

Monday, May 16, 2011


Recently, I have been absolutely astounded by God's goodness. Spending 72 hours in His presence with a group of Godly women on the Walk to Emmaus helped me realize it, too. 

Seven months ago on a Friday evening, I knelt in the small, mildewy chapel with garbage bag walls at Camp Acton, praising God in the most surreal worship I've ever experienced. I knelt at that altar and begged God to hear me from heaven and answer my request for a baby. As I sat on that concrete floor in the presence of God, crying so hard snot ran from nose and I didn't care who watched me, my precious friend Kristin knelt beside me and began praying the exact words I had just been pouring out to God in silence. I cried even harder. As the worship team sang "Revelation Song", I sang in unhindered worship with my hands in the air, surrendering to His goodness and believing in His faithfulness.

Almost seven months to the day, I stood in that chapel again. As we gathered for worship this Friday evening I couldn't help but remember the tears I had shed on that altar just a few months earlier. The room was filled with the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. Not out of coincidence, but by divine planning, the worship team began to play "Revelation Song" and I smiled because there is just something about that song being sung in that little moldy chapel that invites the presence of God. There is something about getting away from the padded pews and stained glass masquerade of the modern American church. I feel like I've returned to the church's roots- spending quality time with Jesus in a dingy, dimly lit room with nothing more than a hard seat and my Bible. I imagine that's exactly how the disciples and the early church spent their time with Him... minus the Bible. :)

At 29 weeks, my belly often changes shapes as the little man moves around. I can feel his feet or hands or elbows or a big stick he's carried in their with him in my ribs. He moves constantly... but as the music of that beautiful song started and I stood in praise, my precious son leapt inside me. More than the usual somersaults and kick-boxing I experience throughout the day, my sweet child was dancing! I have never been so overcome with God's faithfulness. Seven months ago I knelt before God in this very room, singing this very song, praying that He would bless us with a child and there I stood, carrying a healthy baby boy, standing in that same room singing the same song. How awesome is our God? How faithful is He?! 

Some could say that the little man liked the loud music and was reacting to my singing... but this momma knows better. My sweet baby is a promise from God and a picture of His faithfulness. I know he felt the presence of God and it was almost as if he was saying, "Hey, mom, I know this song!" I can't help but say it again- how awesome is our God, that even the unborn know how to praise Him. My sweet husband encouraged me to enjoy these last eleven weeks and I have committed to doing just that. Carrying this precious boy is such a blessing and I am ashamed that I have spent entire weeks complaining and taking it for granted. 

We debated about sharing his name for a long time. But, after finding out it's meaning, I can't help but share it with you... hopefully my hubby forgives me :). We chose to name him Perry Dane, both very special family names. After pouring through Bible names, none of them seemed to fit. After reading about the meaning of Kristin and Benson's sweet girl's name, I decided to look up Dane's. Perry means a "foreigner" or "traveler", which at first was a connotation I wasn't too pleased with. I wanted him to have a name that connotated stability. But add Dane, a form of the name Dean, which means "church official". A traveling church official... some would call that a missionary, I think. A coincidence that God has burdened our hearts with the Great Commission to GO (which by the way is a command...  but that's another post) and make disciples? A coincidence that we want to raise this sweet boy with a heart for the hurting, to serve the least of these and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the ends of the earth? I think not. Hope you don't mind, Dane, looks like your career may have been chosen for you before you even take your first breath in this world. 

Forever God is faithful. And He is always, always Good.