Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bedtime Worship

Play hard, sleep hard

When we put Samuel to bed each night, we incorporate a bit of praise and worship in our routine. It's a special time, bonding while we worship God together in singing and prayer. Sometimes he joins in for a little bit and sometimes he just lays on the floor and enjoys the music. Richie or I sing capella and somehow Samuel doesn't seem to mind. ;)

Saturday night, Richie and Caleb were out of town and Samuel was a little sad that Richie was gone. He's gotten used to Richie putting him to bed since Abigail was born and usually asks for him to do it now. Something I'm happy about, but truthfully a little sad as well.

So, things were out of routine already. Samuel was upset and I was getting a little frustrated. I decided to just start singing. Samuel stopped whining and I began to just focus on the Lord. Then the presence of God filled his small room and it was wonderful. Or rather, wonder-full.

There we were just sitting on his floor, mommy and toddler, soaking it in. Peace. Comfort. Joy. We've enjoyed this experience before, but the faithfulness of God never ceases to amaze me and what a precious memory God has given me in it.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Just Because

Abigail Ruth

God is Amazing!

Five Things To Be Thankful For

I have been meaning to post this for posterity (so one day when Caleb has kids I can show him), so I figured now was a good time in order to understand how much I've been needing the story that I shared yesterday as a mother.

My oldest son is extremely strong-willed, if you haven't picked up on that yet. I do plan to do a posting in the future of some of our more humorous experiences with it. I'm not sure of God's overall purposes for having Caleb share the Bible stories at camp, but I do know that God knew I needed that encouragement.

About a week and a half ago, Caleb was in a grumbling kind of mood. I finally had enough of it and told him that he needed to write down five things he was thankful for in his life. After two attempts that I had to reject completely over a span of 45 minutes, this is what I got...

Cap - as in marker cap, because they keep markers from drying up.

Wood - because we can build things, like houses, with it.

Wax - because that's how we get candles.

Blue - because it's nice and a lot of things are that color.

10 - because he likes that number, it's his favorite.

Yeah. No family, food, or house. No God, church, or friends. No toys, books, or pets. We get marker caps, wood, wax, the color blue, and the number 10. So, I accepted it, then we had a long talk about what would be more appropriate...again.

Beginning to wonder what he'll share at the table on Thanksgiving... :)

Sunday, July 27, 2008

This Little Light of Mine

My mother's heart had a great warming today when Richie came home from overnight Cub Scout camp with Caleb today and shared the following story...

It was campfire time and all the boys were given the opportunity to tell stories, which they were using to try to scare each other. Caleb got up to take a turn and shared the story of Adam and Eve. He even told about the curse that was put on the snake. The boys continued to tell scary stories. Not Caleb, he went on to share the story of Samson and then David and Goliath through the night.

Caleb chose to share these stories on his own without any leading from Richie. Words cannot express the inner joy I felt when they shared what happened. The choice he made in that moment when all his peers were participating in something completely opposite speaks volumes to me.

The Bible is full of fascinating and exciting stories and I try to share them with enthusiasm to our kids. Caleb must feel this way at least a little since he picked them to share. The next time we pull out our fire pit, I know what we'll be doing. I can picture the Israelites passing down the stories of our faith to the younger generation perhaps at night in front of the fire. I bet this would make them even more memorable for our family and what a great way to spend family time.

Maybe I'll even have to ask Richie to dress up like Moses to storytell... :)

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Hometown Antics

Every summer our local Fire Dept. has a Lawn Party for four days. There are rides, games, food, and parades. Fun.

We've made it to two parades in the past, but have never been to the actual Lawn Party. This year, we went and had a blast. Well, okay, I stood with Abigail the whole time and watched my family have a blast, but that was fun as Mommy.

I made Richie take a picture of me and Abigail.

Caleb found friends to ride with and Samuel and Richie hung out together a lot. Richie did make it on a few rides a little more thrilling than below with Caleb. We shared the best lemonade and a funnel cake. What more could you ask for?! :)

I love this picture!

Then, Friday came and we did something I NEVER thought we would do. We put out lawn chairs on the sidewalk of Main St. at 8:00 am. Oh.yes.we.did. It was a tough decision, one we couldn't believe we were making after years of shaking our heads at the ongoing line of chairs each year. Alas, we have now joined the ranks of the hard core parade goers in this town. And you know what, I'm okay with it because I got a front row seat to the parade. We've already decided that we'll do it again next year...will wonders never cease? ;)

Saturday, Caleb and I had a spontaneous "date" night and went to the Lawn Party again. I've been feeling like I'm not getting to enjoy the kids as much right now and each could use some Mommy alone time, so we went with the rule being no riding with friends, just Mom and Caleb. It was fun and I sucked it up like a big girl and we rode a few rides. Of the fast spinning kind. Youch. But of course, I'd do it again for my boy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

You Might Be A Mommy If...

You have ever felt a common bond with the milking cow.

No, I'm not developing a new approach to evolution. No, not because of size, I said milking cow, thank you very much. :) Some days I feel like I could supply half our town with milk. Food shortage in the world, no problem. Send the little ones to Mama Jo's, she'll nourish them.

And seriously, could we design a pump that didn't make you feel like you should be in a stall and mooing? :) Don't get me wrong, I love my Medela pump, we've been through a lot together, but it makes me feel like, well, a cow. Maybe I should just go by "Bessy" for the next year or so...

(Sorry in advance to any Bessy that may stumble across this one day.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Beauty Treatment

Abigail became a hand model at the tender age of 18 hours. So, maybe not a model, but we were asked permission to allow her to be photographed for a spread they were doing in our local newspaper on hands. This is her hand with one of the nurses we had at our hospital.

As I realized a couple of weeks ago that I called her pretty girl very frequently and I thought of our joking about her being a hand model, I became aware of how easy it could be to unintentionally attach value with physical beauty. That is certainly not our intention as parents!

I am thankful to God that my eyes were opened to it. No, it doesn't mean I think there is anything wrong with physical beauty. That would be like saying God made a mistake. What I am saying is that my goal as a parent is to have a godly approach to it and to make sure my children are raised with an understanding of godly beauty. My desire is to see them grow as beautiful on the inside as they are on the outside!

In a culture that emphasizes the outward appearance, we must consistently and frequently battle to have our kids look inward to the condition of their hearts. I could go in a million different directions with this whole topic, so I'm going to try to stay focused on what I originally intended to jot down.

Side note: This is where I begin to see how raising boys and girls is different. Not in character issues, but in actual gender differences. Differences do exist, no matter what the feminist movement tries to say. It's acceptable and a good thing. God made it that way.

We women have a need to feel beautiful. And yes, I will continue to tell my daughter she is beautiful, but I don't want her growing up feeling like her acceptance or worth as a person is based on it. Proverbs 31:30 reminds us:

Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
What I'm trying to share is that I became very aware of how easy it would seem that I was praising her beauty. Her character has yet to really begin to show, but I want to make sure as a parent I praise my children for looking like Jesus, not their looks. I want to pass along a heritage to her that won't pass or fade, a heritage that will lead to eternal life with Jesus. I want this for all my children.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Going Solo

I took my first grocery shopping trip with all three kids today by myself and it actually went so smoothly! Lest you think I am patting myself on the back and thinking I'm some kind of miracle mama, let me thank God right now for allowing my first trip to be peaceful!

I pushed the "kid" cart - Samuel in the seat and Abigail in her car seat in the actual basket - and Caleb pushed the "food" cart for me. Okay, so I kept Samuel distracted at first with looking for lollipops in each aisle (which we never even saw somehow) and after that got old, I gave him a snack. But, that normally didn't work when there were only two kids! An hour of pleasant shopping with three pleasant kids...what a gift.

I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am to have had such a good experience the first time out! It does not make me rush to do it again any time soon, but it will keep me going when I do not have such good trips.

Now, what I didn't think about was how to get said kids settled back at home with lunch and other needs fulfilled, all while unloading groceries and making sure all of it got put away. Yeah well, at least the shopping trip didn't involve any of us crying, right?! :)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Scales Of Injustice

Today is a day of injustice. The day they take this tired mama and make her stand on a metal contraption that laughs at her and says horrible things about her weight.

Oh, I actually didn't gain all that much with this pregnancy, but considering I was lugging an extra twenty around since Samuel's birth, I started with a huge disadvantage. I mean it took me two years to begin losing weight after Caleb was born. Samuel was 18 months when I got pregnant with Abigail, so I didn't stand a chance. :)

So today, all the "should be"s and "should not"s are swirling through my head as I prepare for this dreaded day. Should be at least walking every morning. Should not enjoy ice cream with family. Ugh!

You work hard to help bring your child into this world, suffer from sleep deprivation, have multiple tasks that are lacking your attention around the house, and you are supposed to go smilingly get weighed and have those numbers scream accusations at you. And yes, they do scream, while a nurse stands there and documents it all.

It's a travesty I tell you, a travesty.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

You Might Be A Mommy If...

You have ever seen a shoelace evolve into a gun.

No, we don't really encourage the gun thing so much in our family, but like every mother of boys I pretty much talk to, it just happens. And I mean come on, a shoelace, you gotta give points for creativity.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Preparing To Say Goodbye For the Glory of God

How can you miss someone that you haven't even met? Let me tell you how. One of my sisters and her husband are preparing to leave for the international mission field with my nephew (2) and niece (3 mo.). I have not had the privilege of meeting my niece yet as she was born during the 3rd trimester of my pregnancy and I did not get to make the 4 1/2 hour drive to see them.

So, in August I get to meet the sweet girl and it will also be the second to last time that I will see her for...well, who really knows how long? More than likely I will get to see them again in 3 years I think. (It's good thing technology has advanced as much as it has so that we can have video calls through the computer!)

My selfish nature wants to scream, "No!", and hang onto them. But, I certainly don't want to be a hindrance in God's plan for their lives. Probably the only thing that makes preparing to see them go is the fact that they are going to bring glory to God. I can actually stand a little bit stronger and with a smile, knowing the purpose of their departure.

Truthfully, it was harder at the beginning just because I have always had a desire and passion to be on the mission field and she had not. *Gasp* Yep, you read that awful confession. ;) I was glad for them, but a little upset with God. But you know, God's timing is perfect and I don't want anything but His timing in my life. And hey, I have an expanding mission field here in my own house... :)

I scream, "Praise God!" because they are going. Praise God that they go to bring glory and honor to our Father in Heaven. Praise God because they go to do the work of Christ, to spread His name to those who have yet to know His goodness. Praise God!

How can that not make it easier to be separated from those you love? It is painful, but it cannot compare to the rejoicing in heaven that there will be when even one soul comes to Christ. The pain cannot compare to what He did for us when He willingly gave His life for ours on the cross.

So with one of the strangest feelings, this mixture of sadness yet powerful joy, I prepare my heart to say goodbye to my dear ones as the time draws nigh. I am proud of what they go to accomplish and Who they go to represent. I love you, B, J, B, & L!

Monday, July 14, 2008

You Might Be A Mommy If...

You find yourself inspecting things that you typically would not dare go near.

And what could possibly have this fearless mother cowering in a corner - a belly button, folks! You know, there is nothing cute whatsoever about that remaining piece of umbilical cord attached to your precious baby! It's probably the one and only thing not completely adorable about a little one. I don't think I will ever not be completely grossed out by it as it hits its final farewell stage. Ewww...and good riddance!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Abigail's One Month Birthday :)

Look out world - here she comes!

I can hardly believe that it has been one month since Abigail was born! She is doing very well. Gaining weight fine and seems to be pretty content with life. She still seems so small. I forgot how much I enjoy infants! :)

Caleb thinks she still smells like vanilla, but I finally figured out it's the pacifier they gave us at the hospital (pictured above). I'm not sure if I'm going to tell him, because he thinks it's the best thing in the world that she smelled that way. We're still waiting for her umbilical (or as Caleb called it, her "antennical") cord to come off. Update: I had Caleb smell Abigail and smell the pacifier. He says she still smells like vanilla and that it is not the pacifier.

We're still adjusting to having a baby in the house. There are a couple times a day that I envy the octopus and all its arms! I just do the best I can and many things have to wait at this point. I have to admit that I feel pressured, but trying not to let it get to me.

The boys still love to hold her and kiss her. It is so much fun to watch them interact with her. Samuel says, "I get it", when he's reaching for her. He still hasn't tried to call her by her name, it's just baby for now.

Richie "goo-goo and gaa-gaas" over her outfits most days. Last Sunday I put her first ribbon/headband on. I wasn't sure if it looked kind of silly, but he thought it was great! It kept falling off and he made me keep putting it back on her head. :) I suppose that's pretty typical of a daddy.

Abigail laughed in her sleep for the first time two nights ago. It was great! I can't wait until I can hear it every day!! She smiles every now and then (and no, it isn't gas!), but I will be glad when it occurs more often also. The first time she smiled at me was in the hospital right after I had just told her that I was so glad she was finally here.

She is a grunter and squealer just like her brothers were. I love to hear her during the day, it's the nights that I kind of wish there was volume control. :) She is so alert when she's awake, always taking everything in. It will be exciting to see what the next month brings!

You Might Be A Mommy If...

Having someone else's throw up on you doesn't phase you all that much. Although, I personally find that the older they get, the grosser it gets! :)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Killer Confusion

I am currently re-reading The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson. I was sitting on the couch with the book when Caleb happened to glance quickly at the cover. He then began screaming...

Me: What's wrong?
Caleb: Your book.
Me: What about it?
Caleb: The name. The New Strong Way To Kill A Child.

We then slowly read the correct version of the title together. I was laughing. He was relieved.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Caleb's Big "8" Day

Caleb turned 8 today. Wow, I'm the mommy of an 8 year old. Of course, him being the independent type, he stopped calling me mommy a couple of years ago much to my sadness.

We had a good day. Swimming lessons in the morning. Birthday pancakes at lunch, with blueberries this year. Our traditional birthday slide - this started spontaneously 2 years ago, he and I go to a little pocket park and he has to slide down a huge metal slide as many times as he is old. Birthday dinner of his choosing - Subway this year and ice cream (I'm making a Lego Star Wars cake tomorrow when he has a couple friends coming over). Unplanned time with some friends (15 and 12 yr. old brothers who are GREAT with the kids). Opening presents - we stuck with the 3 present rule we started at Christmas (premise being that Jesus had three presents at his birth).

Last year, I had 5 minutes of teariness when I thought about how fast 7 years went by and how soon he would be 14 and then 21, but not this year. Perhaps it's just the season with the new little one or maybe he's hit this stage where he just acts older (hey, you're 8, not 15!) and it already gives me plenty to deal with. Dunno. :) Anyway, just wanted to jot down a few things about him so one day I can remember and smile.

He is a sweet boy with a tender heart. He loves his brother and sister dearly. He will peek in Samuel's room with me at night. When he sees him, he still says, "Awww." He still likes to snuggle - but only at home. He makes us "presents" out of his legos. He even made Abigail a big lego flower before she was born that I'm supposed to put in her room.

Very intelligent and he loves to learn. When he was 4, a teacher told him he was a genius...he believed her and quoted her frequently for 2 years. He is set on being an archaeologist. His biggest desire is to find Noah's ark. He has collections galore and will examine books pertaining to them for hours.

Extremely strong-willed and opinionated. I've got a blog entry about this one forming in my mind, so I won't really go into it here. He has always had pretty good reasoning, not that it means it's always right. :) My mom says he'd make a good lawyer.

A natural leader. I remember taking him to the park when he was 3 and a complete stranger approached me and began to talk about what a leader Caleb would be some day. And, those types of comments have continued to come as he gets older.

Follower of Christ. Some of the most profound statements come out of this child's mouth. He loves God and wants to serve Him. He has had dreams of heaven, adamant he has seen an angel (I believe him), and is willing to take a stand for the King of Kings (the first time being when he was 4).

This is just a brief glance at who he is. Happy Birthday, Caleb! The Lord blessed me the day he brought you into my life! I love you!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Laboring in Faith Follow-Up

I was going to write this post the day Abigail was born. Now, I get to combine it with sharing my actual labor and delivery experience, because I feel like I wouldn't be walking in integrity if I did not. Got your attention now? Well, this might get a little long, but I'll do my best...

Let me start with what I had originally intended to share on the blessed day of June 12th. :) I had talked a couple days before with someone I go to church with who has had 3 (yes, 3) pain-free births and she is expecting her fourth in a couple of months. It was encouraging and challenging at the same time.

You know, the whole concept is soooo contradictory to what we "know", but isn't that actually typical of the Kingdom of God? Shouldn't we expect things to be different, if not completely opposite, of what we have experienced or been taught in the world?

Anyway, let me just share a better short version of the biblical support for God-given pain-free birth than I did before. In Genesis 3:16, Eve is cursed for her sin:

To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain (some versions says sorrow again) you shall bring forth children;..."

Thankfully, we know that Christ came to redeem us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13, but I recommend starting from verse 10 for a fuller picture). We don't have to live under the curse of the law any longer when we accept Jesus into our lives. Now look at what Isaiah 53:4-5 says:

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.

I'm going to be honest and say that I haven't followed up on it myself, but my friend shared that the word griefs above in the Isaiah passage translates into the same meaning as the word sorrow that is found in Genesis 3:16. Whoa!

Now, Abigail was born two days after I had this talk and to be honest (again) I hadn't done much time digging into the Word myself and covering this in prayer. BUT, God is merciful - read on.

Was my labor and delivery pain-free? Yes...and no. Let me explain...

The first 7 hours of labor were pain-free, thank You, Jesus! My tailbone hurt a bit, but I believe that was from those horrible delivery beds they put you in. When I was walking around, which I did quite a bit, that pain was not there and believe me, when I had back labor with Caleb, it was always there!

So, what happened in that seventh hour? Good question and I'm still working it out myself, but let me share a few things that I feel might have changed the course of it. My water had broken and they had already told me that the baby would have to be delivered within 24 hours. After 7 hours, they asked me about administering pitocin to help speed things up because I was dilating pretty slowly.

I had been expecting this birth to be very quick and was a bit discouraged that it had already been 7 hours and very little progress. And instead of praising God, I decided to linger in the discouragement. Yeah, let's say mistake #1. (Well, mistake #1 was not eating breakfast before I left the house, but that's another story.) Mistake #2, not praying before I said yes to the pitocin. Looking back on that decision, I see myself taking control and not leaving it in the hands of God. After the first dose of pitocin, HELLO! Pain.

Now, I am not beating myself up over the situation, but it does slightly make me hope we'll go through this experience one more time so I can do a few things differently. Number one being preparing for birth by soaking myself in the Word of God and his promises concerning it. If I had been full of and on the Word, well things would have been different. I also really wanted my praise and worship Cds and in my haste and procrastination to pack, forgot them.

And yes, I did get an epidural. Don't be judgemental, in fairness to me, I labored 14 hours before I asked for one. All of my babies have been born 1 1/2 - 2 hours after I have had them (meaning 10 hrs, 43 hrs., and 14 hrs. without). This always makes me regret not waiting longer. Perhaps we'll have one more chance to try again without. I am finding 3 children to be quite a handful at this point! :)

So there's my story, or at least part of it. This was by far my best pregnancy and birthing experience so far. God's hands were clearly evident throughout the labor and delivery and I have some wonderful stories maybe I'll share some other time, but I felt that God would not release me from following up on this one. And thanks to all of my friends who support me and believed in me and God through this experience and who love me just as I am. And yes, I do still believe in God-given pain-free birth.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

In God We Trust


Here are some excerpts from George Washington's inaugural speech to Congress that I find inspiring:

...it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official act my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes, and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success the functions allotted to his charge...

...No people can be bound to acknowledge and adore the Invisible Hand which conducts the affairs of men more than those of the United States. Every step by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency;...

...we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained;..

...Having thus imparted to you my sentiments as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the Human Race in humble supplication that, since He has been pleased to favor the American people with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government for the security of their union and the advancement of their happiness, so His divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this Government must depend...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Random Thoughts on Having a Daughter

Sweet Abigail. How you've changed my life! I am so thankful God saw fit to add you to our family. I am so very excited to have you as my daughter. It has added a whole new dimension to my life that I didn't know existed and to think you're only a couple weeks old. :)

Your brothers are so sweet and gentle with you. When Caleb found out that he would have a sister, one of the first things he said was, "Nobody better mess with her." And I believe it. They are also ready to teach you all sorts of things. I think you will be a very well-rounded girl - tea parties in the mud. :)

It was really special to hear daddy say, "My two girls", when he looked at us.

I am having a lot more fun with girl clothes than I thought I would. You're so cute in your little outfits! Even just onesies with flowers on them.

I have found myself on occasion ready to close your diaper quickly then I realize with great relief that I will not be sprayed in the face. How nice!

It is still slightly strange to see something pink or "girlie" in the clothes hamper and it not be mine. :)

While you are still quite new and your birth is still fresh in my mind, I still think it would be nice for you to have a sister. Call me crazy...

I am so looking forward to your companionship and one day as you become grown, your friendship.