Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Welcome Home Daddy

Sunday nigh John made it back home from Oregon! I think 10 days is the longest we've been apart. He had a wonderful time in Oregon, but was happy to get home and see us. I think he missed my cooking! Drew greeted him in the morning with a mighty big smile and hug and shouted, "Daddy, you came back!" Gabe grabbed onto him, gave him hugs and wouldn't let go of his death grip on John's white t-shirt. Gabe's reaction came with some squeals and lots of eye contact. It was so sweet!

I took some time off from work last week so I wouldn't be distracted by the phone. The boys and I planted tons of flowers (which were just crushed by a hail storm), we played at the park, spring cleaned the house, and then went up to Oklahoma to help my sister with some gardening. We weren't planning on a blizzard, but that is what happened. It was exciting and the boys were able to play in the snow (for about 10 minutes, then they were frozen and went inside). Late Saturday, Drew and I had this wild idea to slide down this 15 foot tube slide at the park near Julie's house, Drew refused to do it without me, so I had him sit in front and we flew down to the bottom. We both landed in a huge puddle of ice cold water! Kitty tried to go down the slide too, but chickened out at the last minute! We all went home frozen and dried our bums off. Drew thought it was the best thing we had done all day.

Monday night around 10:30 we heard hail hit our windows and to our surprise we watched the worst hail storm yet! It smashed out the front and rear windshield on both cars. John and I spent the day on the phone with the insurance company and calling around for estimates. We were able to get the glass repaired.... Thank you Lord for emergency savings which was just waiting around to be used! Here is a picture of the piece that went through the rear windshield on the Jetta.
(More pictures of our week posted on our picture page!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gifts of All Kinds....

"What I am gradually discovering is that in the writing
I come in touch with the Spirit of God."

~ Nouwen ~

495. The taking back of today – a relaxed, unrushed trip to the park, a friendly chat with a stranger, compassion & conversation for a lonely soul who rang the doorbell waking my napping child, the reading of two books instead of skipping out with just 1, praying together throughout the day, the encouragement and laughter over seeing how high we can build our towers before they fall. For, I am choosing to take back my days, moment by moment! I am tired of the guilt that washes over me as I kiss my little ones to sleep – remembering the moments lost, the selfish plans, the me centered choices. For today at least, I chose to invest my seconds, minutes, hours into serving those around me. What a glorious day it was!

496. Quiet conversations between mother and son – talking about how he will climb mountains just like his daddy... “When I grow older” Drew kept repeating.

497. Time away for a refreshing few days, selfless friends who allowed me into their homes, best friend who shared her heart, long plane rides which allowed me to complete 2 books!

498. Finding “Knowing God” by J.I. Packer at the goodwill for 2.00! I’m thankful for the few moments each evening where I get to dissect, re-read, highlight, and ponder.

499. Joyful child who obeys without fuss.

500. A rare moment caught on camera.

500a. The peace that only a genuinely submissive heart can foster.

501. Hearing husband’s gentle voice through the phone, calling just to say “Hi, I’m safe!”

502. Spring – I love planting and it somehow spurs me on to de-clutter and donate! My cupboards and pantry are ready for Spring! We’ve been blessed to eat out of our pantry this month and not spend a lot at the grocery store!

503. Final student loan payment - nothing can prepare you for the freedom that comes when you aren’t bound to debt! Thankfulness for a husband who was diligent and dedicated to paying everything off – it only took 6 years! Thank you Lord, you provided for our needs in so many creative ways, thank you for hearing our hearts and honoring our desire to be free from debt. It was only through your grace that we were allowed the opportunity!

504. Healthy, joyful, sometime cranky, boys who love each other. There is nothing like watching you both play together, share together, dream together (ok, not big dreams, but small ones like how are we going to get this train track together.) They have to start somewhere!

505. A beautiful day to serve the Lord – nothing like blessing others with Lilly’s. They can fill a room and lift a spirit like no other flower, they are most certainly my favorite. My garden is blessed with many varieties of Lilly’s!

506. A clean desk, a project complete, a respite away from work to enjoy my days and bless my children.

507. A simple piece of wood – creative minds that spend hours inventing its many uses, like a catwalk, a trampoline, bridge, ramp for racecars to fly down, path to the sand, racetrack, circus wire, the bridge to heaven .... The mind of little boys is so creative!

508. An unexpected check that allowed me to splurge and fill my garden with flowers and herbs!

509. Broken candle holder and the sweet smile that washed over Drew’s face when he asked, “Mommy, you mad at me?” Mad about a silly candle holder,,, not today!

510. Quiet walks with the dog, time to calm anxiety’s, quiet mind, and just listen.....

"One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds."

~Ps. 145 ~

My Sensitive One

Drew is my sensitive child, as I type he is playing at my feet afraid of all the lightning and thunder outside. He just came over and said, "Mommy I'm afraid, will you pray for me?" After our prayer he said, "Thanks, now I'm not afraid!" Such a blessing this child of empathy is to our family.
At preschool yesterday Drew's teacher commented that he is such a caring student. Evidently a child had to spend some time in their class today while his normal class went out to play (he had allergies and couldn't go out). The little boy cried and cried, the class wasn't sure what to make of this new student, but Drew in empathy, went up to him and gave him a hug. Drew told him not to cry and then asked him if they could read books together.

Some days its hard being a mom, especially raising little men to be like Jesus. Teaching Drew to love others, share and be generous like Jesus comes with a lot of persecution. We've met so many children that love to take advantage of Drew's meek temperment. A few children we can't play with anymore because all they do is push him and grab things from him - it doesn't help that he is so short! It makes me so sad to see this happen and my flesh wants to jump in and protect my little boy. I've noticed that he tends to drift towards playing with the girls, because they are often softer and gentler. All his friends at school are girls and aside from his friend Jonathan, I can't think of any other boys he plays with.
Yesterday's lesson was encouragement to my heart. Raising godly men isn't easy, matters of the heart never are. I so appreciated the teacher taking her time to share this sweet little story with me. It was God's way of spurring me on to further capture the heart of my boys.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Missing You

Tonight I spent the better part of the evening doing all the things I'm not especially fond of... I'm missing you! Even though your away, your chores still wait to be done. So, tonight I relented and managed the mound of dishes in the sink, cleaned out the dog's ginormous water bowl, emptied the recycling, folded laundry, and cleaned up the kitchen - all while thinking and appreciating you. I'm missing you!

I came home expecting you to be here, I wanted to share with you Drew's funny moment and Gabe's new dance. I am anxious to complete our Outliers book, and my thoughts aren't nearly as sane without you to filter them through. My prayers at night seem quiet and while I wait for sleep I subconsciously am waiting for you to close our day in prayer.

I am blessed knowing your coming home to us! I'm blessed that your caring and praying for us even 2,000 miles away, hiding out in a burrow of snow, laughing and thinking and journaling. What a husband, servant leader, father, life encourager you have become. Enjoy your gift of time alone with nature and the Father of Life. Enjoy your communion with the Lord, I'm sure its easier to hear and feel His ever-presence mid way up the mountain!

I find it ironic, metaphorically speaking, that we've climbed uphill together over so many mountains these 11 years, and now your completing this peak on your own. I picture you going before us, charting, journaling the way for our next William's adventure.

(One of our many adventures together back in 2003)

I can't wait for you to come home, my honey do list is getting really long... you'll love it! Also, the boys keep asking when you'll be here. When I told Drew we are visiting Oregon in July, he asked if we were going to see you too. I told him July was way too long to wait, Daddy would be home in 5 more days. Drew just stared at me perplexed!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

16 Months

Here is the 16 month comparison of the boys. I think Gabe will start to look a lot different in pictures because I had Drew's hair cut short by 16 months. Gabe is still my little baby and I can't bare to have his adorable long blond hair cut. With Drew everything was a first and I couldn't wait for the next first. With Gabe I am trying to enjoy him being little - cherishing each moment because it could be his last. Last night he woke screaming about 4:30 and I was able to cuddle with him for about 5 minutes - cuddling with my little man hasn't happened for a lot time, so last night was quite the treat! Funny thing is, with a bigger brother to model after, Gabe desperately wants to be grown up. He watches and copies everything that his older brother does. For example, today while at the pond playing Drew wandered down to play on the rocks, of course Gabe insisted he too could follow. Gabe ended up all wet and muddy!

For being 16 months, Gabe still looks little, possible because he still only has 4 teeth and has short genes! Now that we've spent the past two weeks outside a lot, little Gabe's hair is turning blond. Gabe's personality is very dramatic. He is normally in good spirits and loves to have books read to him, play outside in the sandbox, and steal the ball from Kitty. He is so funny and loves to laugh and pretend jump. When Gabe gets angry or frustrated he has this horrible scream that drives me crazy! The drama comes into play when he wants something and can't have it. He has this pouty lower lip that makes you feel like you've broken his little heart. If he is really sad that you won't give in he will turn around and wobble off in a pouty manner, then he will look back to see if you are going to give in. He often comes back to get a hug and then the whole process starts over again!

We are working on obedience and not whining and signing "please" when he wants something. Gabe is getting much better, but near bed time is still ending up in the pantry a few times. He really is doing well knowing his boundaries - like not crossing the line on the sidewalks and not opening the kitchen drawers. He loves to play with blocks in the playroom and will even put about half of them away before his attention span runs out. Gabe is such a fun addition to our family, he makes us laugh and keeps us on our toes. He is always getting into thing and has learned he can get away with naughty things if mommy or daddy aren't looking! Gabe loves to run everywhere and watching his short, rolly, body run is hysterical!

Speaking of Daddy, I made it through the weekend without him! When Daddy is away this mommy played in her garden! The boys helped me weed and plant some annuals and dig out some bushes. We had a great weekend but are anxious for Daddy to come home!
Now that Spring has officially hit me, its time to de-clutter and use up my stockpiles! This means cleaning out cupboards and closets and donating all our non used items to charity - I'm glad John isn't here to distract me! I just finished cleaning out the shed today and also the kitchen pantry. I've only spent 130.00 on groceries this month and my pantry and freezer are significantly less full. I try twice a year to not purchase much at the store and eat up my stockpiles. Now that the freezer is cleaned out I'm going to spend the time and make an excel spreadsheet so I know what I need to use up. Drew even helped me today by finding some toys to donate to charity. I was so proud to see him give generously of his things! John will be really surprised when he gets home and looks at my bare shelves! My to-do list is slowly being checked off! So, I best get back to cleaning, now that the kids are asleep I can really start the de-cluttering process!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Trust and Obey"

I'm back from my blogging sabbatical, what a month it has been. February was super busy with a marriage conference, parenting conference, and a respite away in Oregon. Things around our house are adjusting back to normal, we're swinging back into a routine and my planting addiction has returned now that Spring is officially here! Planting and weeding affords lots of time to think great thoughts about God and lots of sun rays to absorb His character. The sun has a way of lifting my spirits and the dirt calls me to action - like digging up two huge shrubs so I could have more planting space in my front courtyard!

Enjoying God's creation takes me right to the heart of God - the Creator of all things. I love the designs, the variegated variety, and complex nature of life. I was thinking today as I plopped in the most beautifully perfect white petunia into the soil, "How does God keep the flowers so white and without stain?" Here there are covered in mud one moment and purely white the next - never a stain. I send my boys out into the yard for 2 minutes and their white shirts are ruined forever.

The Lord has been teaching me many things so far in 2009, but the common theme throughout has been Trust and Obey -- Leave the rest up to Me! I am a control freak and have had periods in my life where control was easier to give up than others. I just love my plans, and my routine, and my predictable life. Unfortunately, with all my planning and scheduling there isn't much time for serving God (unless its planned). My husband is such a good example for me, he purposely looks for people to help, he isn't too concerned about time and loves to give generously of his time to others. So, this past month I've been working on enjoying life and all its curve balls that don't align with my agenda. Thus, the persecution has begun.

Below is a random list of the stresses that I've tried over and over to give to the Lord. Some day's I pick them back up and try and carry the load myself, then I fall into bed exhausted, grumpy, and empty. Other days I gracefully succeed. But, most days I wobble between prayerful moments of obedience and self directed cross carrying.

:: Letting go of my plans for our family - the husband who works 8-5 and comes home to a prepared dinner - that dream is not my reality. John's schedule varies from day to day, moment by moment - it has since we were married 6 years ago. By looking ahead and planning, it leaves lots of opportunities for disappointment. Instead, I've been trying to look at the bigger picture - my boys love being with their daddy just as much as being with me. He spends more hours in each day with them than any other father I know. Our boys LOVE their daddy and his influence in their lives is priceless - no amount of money or routine is worth not seeing them grow into godly men like their daddy.

:: Letting go of my organized, planned work week - since December I've been working on a project and my portion of that project is dependent on someone else completing their portion. This has created so much stress and anger and resentment in me! My organized, get my work done the night before life has been non-existent and the stress of work has coagulated into our family life. My attitude has been tested, tried, refined by fire, and I am finally seeing some possible light on the horizon. I'm thankful that I've got a 5 day weekend coming up to re-group and not think about work! Work seems to have consumed my life since December and I'm giving that frustration to God. Lord, may it calm down soon.

:: Letting go of my goals and just being content with today. I love planning and shifting my plans and goals onto my family. They however are not as enthused! So, my goals for 2009 will be only for myself. This allows me to grow, but not be disappointed because others have messed up my plans. For example, Drew's education is coming along well, he isn't the smartest kid on the block, but he is the most polite! Drew loves numbers and inventing and designing. He hates to memorize scripture but loves music - so scripture to music has become a huge blessing. Drew loves to serve and just be with others. He enjoys a day where all we do is play and read books. What a wonderful child I've been blessed to raise. He isn't reading or even interested in knowing his letters, but he is always asking "why" and often rambles on about various books he has been "reading."

:: Letting go of my husband - yes, he graciously asked me if it was OK if he took a week off and went to Mt Hood on an ice caving adventure with his brothers. Seeing as I've been working on letting go I told him I didn't think it was wise, but that whatever he decided I'd support him in. Well, he chose to go and God has so graciously given me a spirit of contentment! I'm actually really glad he went and am enjoying the quiet evenings to read my next challenge - Knowing God by J.I Packer. The book is a classic and one I've always wanted to read but didn't think I had the time to digest. Tada! Now I do and I'm loving the book - the nature and character of God has always fascinated me, its something that Christian's must study and know in order to have an accurate picture of God. Knowing God has taken me to the next level in my faith and is pushing me into thoughts and realities that I never would have come up with. Pray for me this week as I parent and work alone! Also pray my sweet husband comes back to us in one piece! He has been in Texas 6 years now, he's not really accustomed to hiking and walking in snow.

Not a shadow can rise, not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear, not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Psalm 84:11,12,
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield:
the LORD will give grace and glory:
no good thing will He withhold from them
that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts,
blessed is the man that trusteth in Thee.”

(Pictures from my weed free garden with my new Nikkor Lens)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Stats

The boys went in for their checkups and here are their stats:
Gabe's Weight: 24lbs 10oz 50-75%
Drew's Weight: 31 Lbs 10-25%

Gabe's Height: 30 inches 10-25%
Drew's Height: 38.5 Inches 10-25%
I see a 10-25% trend going!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Socks in the Shower?

I walked into the bathroom tonight and Drew anxiously noted, "Mommy, were Gabe's socks dirty? You put him in the bath with them on?" My mind must have been on something else while undressing the little man!

After baths I video taped Drew doing his "super jump" off the bed and recorded some great shots of Gabe "dancing" and trying to imitate his big brother. Gabe and Drew are loving time together! Yesterday I heard Drew calling from the playroom, "Gabe, where did you go, come back and play with me!" They get along so well together, Drew is Gabe's little protector and Gabe follows and copies everything Drew does. Its so much fun observing them together!
Tonight after dinner I finally had time to test out my new lens on the kids. I am love this new lens! It is a AF-S Nikor 70-300MM 4.5-5.6G. It zooms so close and captures the brightest colors. I'm so hooked! My boys have nice blue eyes, perfect for a lens that captures clarity. I didn't realize how attractive it was to photograph eyes until I grabbed onto this lens. I really need to take a class or 10 somewhere down the line, but for now I'm so content to snap away at the boys!