Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Sweet Sam,

I remember so vividly that morning one year ago today when Daddy and I headed to the hospital to meet you for the first time. It didn’t matter that we’d done this three times before. Meeting you was a special miracle. Little did we know what a wonderful, sweet blessing you’d be. I also remember the day we found out you were on your way to being a part of our family. “Four kids?!” we thought, but now we know our family was not complete without you.

I want to put books on your head to keep you from growing, but I know that’s not God’s plan for you. As your mommy, I just want to keep your sweet baby sounds and precious smile and chubby little hands all to myself forever, but I know you’re mine only for a season. The Lord put you here to do great things for Him, and He just allowed me the blessing of enjoying your love, cuddles and kisses in the meantime.

You have the sweetest little disposition. Unlike your silly brothers, you are great “on the go” and will share your toothy grins with almost anyone. I love it most when you snuggle your head down on my shoulder and hold still for just a moment. Then you’re off to the races again. What a fun stage you’re in. I love the way you’re so intent on getting the job done from the moment your fat toddling feet hit the ground in the morning. You’ve got places to explore, drawers to open, baskets to dump out, toilet paper to unroll, and objects to chew on. You take your job as our little mess-maker seriously, but you don’t mind too much when I redirect you or pull those yummy too-small objects out of your mouth.

Sam, one year ago today, you made a very quick entrance into this world and into our hearts as well. Can you believe I thought I wanted a girl? Or Daddy thought our house would be too crazy? (Well, maybe he was actually right.) You’re the perfect Baby Sam for us, and I hope you don’t mind when I still call you that when you’re 45. (In case you forget, in the bathtub the other night, you did agree to me calling you my baby for the rest of my life.) I love your beautiful blue eyes, the way you love your Daddy, the smile that comes across your face when your wild siblings enter the room, and the simple fact that you’ve brought happiness to our lives more than you’ll ever know.

I pray that this is the first year of many that we’ll spend together. It sure has been a sweet one.

Love, Mommy

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ramblings of a Christ-Seeker

As usual, I really should be in bed, especially since Sam is still in the Undependable Zone as far as sleep is concerned. That sweet baby boy has been sick, so last night was the first almost full night of sleep we’ve gotten in four nights. But oh, the snuggles have been amazing. That boy is usually on the go so much that he won’t let his mama snuggle and rock him. Maybe, when he’s all better, he’ll remember how wonderful it was to be all wrapped up in his mommy’s arms and will sweetly seek me out for snuggles throughout the day. A mama can dream, can’t she?

I know I said last time that I was going to write about my upcoming trip to Guatemala in my next post, but I’m not. I’m not really sure where this is going, but I’ve been pondering some things lately. I’m disappointed to say that I still have many days where I just want to take the easy road. I read my Bible, listen to inspiring sermons, and read challenging books, and I feel all fired up for 2-3 hours. But the fire in me is so easily doused by life. I’m not tempted to go partying or sleep around or abuse my kids. I’m tempted by the good life…the life that even good church-going Christians say is what we should aim for. I’m tempted to be satisfied with a half-hearted relationship with Christ as I run after the comforts and pleasures of this world.

There was a time when I dreamed of nicer, bigger houses or cars that don’t make weird noises when you turn on the a/c or a wardrobe that doesn’t scream “I’m a mom on a budget who just doesn’t give a care.” Over the last several years, though, my longings for those things have abated. Not that I would mind having a cute new shirt or a bonus room to put all these stinking toys in. But my heart is no longer set on those things. However, my heart still cries out within me, “Take me on a vacation already! Not just a little one-night getaway…a real vacation that involves lots of eating out and absolutely no cleaning. And if there could be a castle and a huge mouse there, that would be even better!”

Mostly these desires just make me sad and frustrated. I’m disappointed that I am not to the point in my life where my delight in Christ is so fulfilling that I don’t even want those other things (and by “those other things” I mean a life of fun and travel). I’ve shared with all of you many times how my desires are just too weak. Why am I not satisfied in Christ? But even as I type this (probably very boring) post, I see where He has changed so many of my desires. (See previous paragraph. House, cars, clothes, yada yada.) Maybe He is doing something in this selfish, sinful heart of mine. My hope is that one day I can say that all of my worldly desires have melted away and that I genuinely, 100% only need or want Jesus.

Are any of you ever disappointed in your lingering love for the world? Do you ever find yourself wondering why you still long for things other than Christ? Have you ever even thought about it? (This is the part where you leave a comment and make me feel better by reassuring me that I am not the only one who wishes someone would give me a barrel of money and that I could use to take my kids on a trip and then go on a girls’ trip and then go away with my husband (insert worldly desire of your own right here).

And before anyone possibly says that it’s not wrong to want to go on a trip every now and then, I would say that maybe for me it is. The Lord has not put us in a financial position where we can do that, and I believe I should find contentment in that. I should be in a place where I could be thankful for the opportunity if it presented itself, but not in one where I sigh with longing when I hear of other people who have what I desire. I should be in a place where Jesus brings me such joy that anything else is just completely unnecessary icing on the cake. (Though that analogy doesn’t really work, because icing is obviously an essential part of the cake. Duh.)

I want to live this verse: Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. So I’m doing all I can do. I’m asking God to continue to change my desires and to show me what it means to delight myself in Him.

This whole thing is feeling like I'm rambling and being oh so boring and redundant, but I'll go ahead and throw it out there anyway. And maybe, just maybe, I'll write about Guatemala next time. Adios!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Ten Years

It’s hard to believe that I am to that age when I can look back a decade or more, remembering events that occurred and in those memories I am still an adult. You reach adulthood and the things that change about yourself seem to slow down (as opposed to childhood when you change so dramatically from year to year) but things around you seem to change at an alarming rate. As I look back ten years from today, I feel like much the same person I was then, but so many things are different.

Ten years ago, I woke up and got ready for my second day at a new job. Change does not come easily to me, so starting a new job (though it was just a “little part-time job”) was a big deal to me. Anytime things around me change in a relatively big way, I feel a little out of sorts for a while, trying to settle into the newness until it becomes normal. So this day ten years ago already started out with me feeling a little unsettled, but in a good way.

As I was getting ready for work, the change of a new job began to look miniscule as I stared at that little stick in disbelief. I had held those little sticks in my hand many times before, but always with a sick feeling of disappointment in my gut. This time it was different. Finally. It seemed too good to be true, and I had to show it to Chris to confirm it. But true it was. In that moment, our lives changed forever for the better. The harder, but the better. Madeleine was on her way.

I can’t remember every detail, but I’m sure my mind and emotions were wavering back and forth between elation and worry. That pretty much describes parenting, I guess. It seemed that we’d be parents at last, but what if something happened to this precious little life? As I tried to get my mind around this amazing change in my life, Chris left for work and our day began. I’m sure my thoughts were consumed by our exciting news. Maybe that’s one reason it took me so long to realize what was happening on the tv screen.

I passed by the little television set on top of our chest of drawers as I was getting ready to head out the door, and I stopped to see what all the confusion was about on the Today Show. That’s funny to me, because I had forgotten that I used to be able to watch morning television that did not involve Elmo. I found the plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers amazingly odd, but it just looked like a little bitty plane. I’m a horrible person that more easily dismisses tragedy that just affects a few people who live very different lives than me in very different places than me. But I kept watching as the people on the tv tried to figure out what had happened. And then it became apparent what was happening as America watched the second plane hit the second building. Unbelievable.

I called Chris and told him what I’d just seen, but then I had to leave because I was going to be late to work. As it turns out, there wouldn’t be much work getting done that day. As news of the next two planes arrived and then as the whole thing became even more nightmarish when the towers fell, life in our nation stopped. But the little life inside of me just kept growing. The events of that day made the life in me seem even scarier and more miraculous than it already was. What kind of world are we bringing this child into? How does life go on in the midst of so much death?

Ten years later, what seemed so tragic has become something we can mention in passing and go many days without even thinking about. And something that seemed so miraculous can seem so commonplace when she’s leaving dirty clothes in the floor for the 1057th time. The tragic and the miraculous have become the “new normal.” When that happens, I think it’s time to stop and remember. We need to regain our perspective. Evil is never okay. Death is never easy. Our children are nothing short of miraculous blessings. And life is always meant to be cherished.

Stop today and look at the tragic - the sin and certain death of us all. Be horrified. Let it make you sick to your stomach as it did ten years ago. But then turn your eyes to the life and salvation that has been given to you and be thankful. Appreciate it more as it stands in comparison to the horror we would all face without it. As light shines more brightly when your eyes are used to the darkness, so the miracle of eternal life is blindingly brilliant when we’ve been gazing at the blackness we deserve.

But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. Ephesians 2:4-5

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Cat in the Hat's Not Too Happy 'Bout That

I think I have a problem and its name is Nutella. Why did people ever have to come up with stuff like this? Couldn’t we have just settled for some nice fruits and veggies with a little chicken thrown in? But no. We had to take food to this whole new delicious, calorie-laden, tempting level. And then we put coupons in the newspaper for it so I feel totally justified in buying it because it’s a good deal, after all. Ugh. We are headed for jean season and jeans and Nutella are not a good combination.

I would like to tell you that my long bloggy absence has been because I’ve been feeding starving children (besides my own) or so engrossed in reading my Bible that I’ve had time for nothing else. (I have read it, mind you, but not to the exclusion of computer time, which is quite a bad thing, probably.) However, I’m going to have to be truthful with you. I haven’t had the time to write because Maddie made a C on her math test, Jack had to be the Cat in the Hat, Luke apparently needs snacks around the clock, and SAM IS WALKING EVERYWHERE ALL THE TIME. Or something like that. Life is crazy, and I’ve actually been trying to get some sleep for a change.

Actually, it’s because I was being all domesticated and canning pear honey. That’s right. I have now canned something. I know. It’s unbelievable. I feel like I’m living someone else’s life. Pretty soon I’ll be sewing all my kids’ clothes and churning butter. My mom, Emily and I (with some help from my aunt as well) spent a total of 12 hours peeling, processing, cooking, and canning and ended up with 41 jars of pear honey. “What’s pear honey?” you might want to know. It’s pears in the form of heaven that you can spread on a biscuit (which I did tonight). I would invite you over to try some, but I only have twelve jars. That’s one a month for the next year which is clearly not enough.

Now, back to my adorable offspring (who are so blessed to have such a domesticated mother who does thing like can pear honey). So apparently my daughter is not as passionate about good grades as I was am. Now that sweet little daughter of mine wants to keep her parents happy, so she’s trying…until her mind wanders and she forgets to try anymore. Really, she’s an angel, so I can’t really complain about a few less than stellar math performances. And God has been giving me the “Is this really worth getting upset over aren’t you glad you have such a wonderful – and smart – daughter who loves me and is hiding My Word in her heart so who cares if she isn’t a math genius” speech. It has made me realize that what I’ve always said is true: My goal for my children’s lives is for them to love the Lord their God with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strength.” It is not for them to be valedictorian, get a full ride to college (not that I would mind), get a great paying job, get married, and have 2.5 kids and a nice retirement fund. I want them to be passionately in love with Jesus. But an A in math wouldn’t be too bad either.

Jack puzzles me. He was beside himself with excitement over Character Dress-Up Day at school last week. Thankfully, he went with the whole Cat in the Hat idea (rather than wearing the fleece Chihuahua outfit when it was 97°) and we went to work assembling his homemade costume. Nana came to the rescue with a hand-sewn tail the night before the big day, and we were all set. The costume was delicately laid out on the bed and we all went to sleep all snug in our beds with visions of hatted cats dancing in our heads. But the next morning brought a marked lack of excitement. Jack was all dolled up, complete with tail, whiskers, bow around the neck, and, of course, the hat. And that’s when the tears started amid declarations of “I don’t want to go dressed like this. I feel scared.”

Even as I type this, I am having to pause for a moment to get my composure. Thankfully, that morning I closed my lips just as the words “What in God’s green earth are you talking about? We put all this effort into this stinkin’ costume and you WILL be the Cat in the Hat if it’s the last thing you ever do” came out. I think I managed to say something a little more encouraging (and take the pictures you see above). Can someone just tell me if it’s normal for a first grade boy to begin crying out of fear of appearing as a cat in a hat? Is there a name for this sort of phobia? I just don’t know about him sometimes. He did manage to pull himself together and wipe the one lone tear from his face before it smeared his perfect eyeliner whiskers. I know. I'm being heartless again.

I will say that I was a little nervous as we pulled into carline and it took me a few moments to spot another kid dressed up as a book character. There was a knot in my stomach as the thought “Have we gotten the wrong day?” tumbled around in my mind. But I spotted a fairy of some sort and knew we were in the clear. He got out of the van the cutest Cat in the Hat there ever was. When he came home with no part of the costume anywhere on his body, I was a little miffed and asked him when he had taken it off. He incredulously replied, “I wore it the whole time until we went to P.E.” I’m pretty sure they go to P.E. at 9:05. But did I mention he’s doing great in math? And he’s getting baptized soon! And this boy can memorize Scripture like nobody's business.

What can I say about Luke? He’s the funniest kid I’ve ever known. Or at least the funniest one who has ever lived in my house. But it’s the kind of funny I just don’t think I can capture on a computer screen. So I won’t even try. I will just mention that he ordered his own lunch the other day at Chuy's right off the menu, then promptly handed the menu to the waitress and went back to munching his chips. He's three.

And my baby Sam has had the nerve to start walking. (I took a great video of it for ya'll and now I can't get it to upload. I was so proud of myself for being so techno-savvy. It seems I counted my chickens before they were hatched.) I don’t mean a few bumbling steps. He’s full-on walking and doing it nonstop as long as he’s awake. This week is much better, but the two before this were horrible. Even after four kids, I’m a nervous wreck when they start walking. They fall down constantly and you realize that you have approximately 1.37 million sharp edges in your house. I just followed him around for two weeks trying to buffer any and all falls. I know I’m ridiculous. But now he is much steadier and only has about four bruises on his forehead. He is so precious I could dip him in Nutella and eat him up with a spoon. Of course, I could dip pretty much anything in Nutella and eat it with a spoon, so that’s not really saying a whole lot. But I do love me some sweet Sam. And rumor has it he has a birthday coming up, but it can’t be true because he was just born a few weeks ago.

I’ll be back soon to share all of the thoughts I’m having concerning my upcoming Happy Feet mission trip to Guatemala, which will prove once and for all that I am a completely neurotic scaredy cat. But I don’t typically wear a hat.