Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Lately there has been a lot of leaving comfort for courage going on in our lives...
A lot of growing... good... but growing....
But this week... the Lord has blessed us with some refreshment.
And we drove out to Colorado to spent a week in Grand Lake with our friends the Guikemas.
On our way out we stopped in Las Vegas to have lunch with Great Grandma...
In Aunt Brooke's backyard the kids played in the splash pad while the adults drank coffee (tea for me) and got ready for the mountains...
Brooke's girls are such cuddlers... I absolutely love that about them. they warmed up to Joey... as you can see... :)
Is This Beautiful or what?
This week we have left courage for comfort...
Here are some of my favorite details...
Check out our panoramic view from the back porch...
Joey and My room...
This is a secret little nook where Siah and Hal are sleeping... They think it's the coolest thing ever!
We still have four more days up here so I'll be sure to post some more details when we get home...
See ya soon...
Monday, August 24, 2009
A little update on our youngest treasure…
Skyler Reese is one year old (14 months to be exact)... I LOVE this age! She is so much fun! She's walking everywhere! The poor girl has her Papa's body (which is a fine body but maybe not the most feminine of sorts), short legs and a (slight) belly, and wide, flat feet (hers are actually wide, flat, and a bit pudgy!:) She's got a full-on mullet on the back of her head, and barely any hair at all on the top of her head. But she's got redemption in her smile that will make anything bad going on in your life just melt away the instant that you see it creep across her face. She has to be one of the happiest little treasures that I have ever seen (except when we're in the car for hours on end, like we have been for the past 24 hours. :)
She doesn't have a lot of words but she says things like Mama, Papa, Yiya (Siah), Rara (Tara), and she just started saying, bye, and waving. In the past four weeks she's gotten four teeth and as of Sunday I can see four more coming in. She weighs 21 lbs and looks like a mini football player with earrings and a pink wardrobe. :)
She's fun and spunky. She's mellow and independent.
She's full of vibrant joy! But she's a typical one year old who knows what she wants and hardly has the words to express the details of her desires. So we have started the tantrum phase with her. There are moments each and every day when we tell her no and she plops her little bum down on the ground and starts her wining routine. And when someone takes a toy from her she gets MAD! She tightens up her fists, grits her teeth together causing her whole body to shake and her face to turn bright red. And at this point in the game it seems a bit funny to me, but I know that there are deeper sin issues brewing in her little heart. Can anybody say temper? Lack of self control?
I must say that Reesie, being number three in the line up of treasures, has made things like tantrums and training in first time obedience, a whole lot easier than it was with Siah and Hal. I by NO MEANS feel as if I have mastered this age in parenting but the responsibility of it all feels so much lighter. I don’t feel at a complete loss with Reesie like I often did with the first two. I think having witnessed with the other two that fruit really does come with consistency and time, I am not constantly questioning myself about what to do with every little act of disobedience.
Of course they have all been very different in the way that they have responded to learning the rules of our home. For example, in our home, we want to train our kids to come when we call them the first time. With Siah, I had no idea how to make this happen. I would call him; he wouldn’t come; so I would just walk over, pick him up and move him to where ever it was that I wanted him to be. It’s not that he didn’t want to come, it’s that I had failed to show him what I was expecting of him when I called him. Then once I had become confident that I had showed him several times and that he understood, I had failed to hold him accountable to what I was asking of him. Once I figured those two things out, he picked up on it quite nicely.
Hal on the other hand, although I had the tools to train her correctly, she had a stubborn heart. It took time and consistency and a LOT more discipline than it took with Siah, but she also has learned to come the first time that we call her.
Reesie was the easiest… A__ because she has an easy-going personality, and B__ because I had the right tools to train her correctly the first time around.
The third time around hasn’t been a total walk in the park, but it has felt more doable, more successful, less stressful, and simply more joyful knowing that the fruit of all the time put in with our treasures always seems to come... in time.
Saturday, August 22, 2009
We have a mantra around here,
Mama_"Hal, is it more important to have a pretty dress or a pretty heart?"
Hal_ "A PRETTY heart!"
Mama_ "Man looks at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the....."
Lately she has not cared much to learn new things. We have been trying to teach her how to brush her own teeth, how to get herself dressed, how to hold a pencil, things like that. And she gets over the top discouraged with each new task. When she can't find something (like her princess shoes) she cries.
But in the same breath, she's so easy to be around. She laughs way more than she cries. She's the funny one in the family. She's the only treasure who really does intentional things to try and make us all laugh. She LOVES to dance! She asks me to turn on "the dance" (that's how she asks for music) all day long. She loves spicy food. She'll eat Mexican food with hot sauce and spicy Thai foods. And her favorite color is pink.
With Hal (as with all of my treasures) I long to know her heart. I want to be the type of listener that is able to draw out her deepest thoughts, her most intense struggles, her greatest joys. But, since my blog is quickly becoming one of the few places where I feel so free to confess everything that is going on in my crazy girly head, I am going to confess how things really are with Hal.
Here it goes... Sometimes I'm afraid of her. (Stick with me here :) Don't get me wrong... my love for this little girl is strong and deep. But I'm afraid of her pulling the wool over my eyes and manipulating me with her actions. You see, I do not really have the gift of discernment and the truth is that I have this deeply rooted fear that one (or all) of my kids are going to pull a fast one on me, or manipulate me, or deceive me in some way. So most of the time I have my guard up (I really wish that I didn't, but I do.) And the way that this fear shows it's ugly face is in the fact that I am quick to speak and quick to become angry (even when I don't have the FULL story). More often than not I am super SLOW to listen. And the person that gets this side of me the most is my little Hal. She's emotional and several times a day she attempts to use her emotion to get what she wants.
Once again there are two sides to this whole predicament. I think there is blessing in training our kids to not get what they want through manipulation. But I also know that there is nothing healthy about training our kids with our own personal fears leading the way. This fear is something that I desperately need to relinquish to the Lord. But what exactly does that mean and how am I to truly let go of something that seems so deeply rooted in my heart?
Honestly? Most of the time I really don't think that I know the answer to that question.
But I DO know these few things...
I know that the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord who created my little treasure, lives in my broken little heart.
I know that that same Lord is not the least bit surprised by my fears. He knew since before time began that I would struggle with the very thing that I do.
I know that apart from my Lord I can do nothing.
I know that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it.
I know that because of the sacrifice of His one and only Son, I am offered an abundance of forgiveness.
I know that My Lord put my Hal in my life for the very purpose of drawing me closer to Him.
I am constantly reminded that I am so so so so so in need of a Savior... and the the good news is... I have one... and He loves me... despite my sin... "While we were YET sinners, Christ died for us." That is the GREAT news of GREATER grace!
Tonight I am feeling overwhelmingly grateful for his grace as he grows me into his likeness despite myself.
WHAT WOULD LIFE BE WITHOUT A HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPA POST?
So sad... So here it is...Happy Birthday Papa!!!!
The truth is that although it is Saturday and it is Papa's 31st birthday, we are doing different things in different places, busying ourselves with all the odds and ends of getting ready for our week-long trip to COLORADO! Joey has spent the morning working on the Beast (Our suburban), and now he is out on a job. I've been doing laundry, cleaning out my fridge (so that I don't have to come home to a moldy mess), more laundry, and some packing. But the business is no excuse for missing out on giving a shout out to the man I love!
It's quite a task trying to come up with something to give to the man who seems to have all the things that he wants (except for that speed triple of course... which I promise to start saving for Love, the minute that I have a job that pays a little better. :).
So the kids and I worked on a little project this week just for Papa...
Each of the kid's hand prints... it's a lot bigger job than it seems at first glance. See the hands on the right? Those are Reesie's lovely prints. DO you have any idea how hard it is to open a one- year-old's hands and manipulate them in such a way so that they will go flat onto the paper and not be so bunchy? Oh my goodness me... A difficult task. It cracks me up that one of her hands looks rather pudgy, while the other one looks like it went on a major diet. :) Lovely!
Oh well... It was still a gift made with the deepest of love and joy!
I sure do love you My Love!
I can't wait to spend a week away with you and the kids!
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
My Siah is four... Each age seems to bring different strengths and weaknesses. There are many things in his four year old life that I really love about him.
*He has a very tender heart that comes out in different ways. Often times, if he is within reach, he will gently stroke my arm when he talks to me about something that is important to him. At those times I try to be an extra good listener and do things like put my hand on his back and look right at him when he's telling me "all about it" so that he knows that I know that what he's saying is important to him and to me.
*He is growing more independent what seems like daily. For nearly two weeks now he has started each morning the same... On his own initiative he puts his plate in the sink, pushes in his chair, and says "thank you mom for my yummy breakfast." Then he goes up stairs, by himself, picks out his own clothes, gets dressed, brushes his teeth and makes his bed. I feel so proud of his independence.
*He's extremely inquisitive. He wants to know every last detail about EVERYTHING! He asks me questions all the time that he already knows the answers to.
*He talks about "time" all the time but he has no concept of time at all. He'll say things like, "Yesterday night day, we went to Texas, " when in reality we went there a month ago. But the cool thing is that he associates things with time, even if he is not using the correct time. But it's always funny to me to hear when things that we have done have happened in his mind.
*He is a natural leader. At this stage of the game his leadership skills seem to be coming out more in a bossy manner rather than in a healthy form of true Christ-like leadership. He is always telling the other kids what to do. Then when I exhort him to not be so bossy he says, "I"m the oldest and I supposed to be a good example, right Mom?" So each time I explain that the difference between being bossy and being an example, is word verses action. "Instead of telling the other kids what to do with your words, you can be a good example by showing them the right thing to do with your actions." I guarantee that this concept has NOT yet sunken in. :) But it's the beginning of something great, I just know it.
*He has a confidence about him (in fact all three of my treasures seem to have it). In church during worship, he dances so freely as if there weren't 200 sets of eyes all on him. He tells whoever is willing to listen all that's on his mind and just assumes that they are as interested in what he has to say, as he is in telling them. He has no trouble with me dropping him off at any classes or activities... he just walks right in.
And with all these strengths there are still things that we are working through with my little Siah.
*He currently loves to argue. It's the small stuff really that seems to trip him up. Like most things in parenting (and in life) there is a balance that needs to be found. I want him to feel like he can express things to me but in the same breath I need to be able to give an instruction without listening to a series of suggestions from his little mouth. So we have come up with a phrase that I find myself saying a zillion times a day... "obey first, explain later." In other words, do what I've asked of you, THEN open your mouth and tell me what you wanted to say. We've also memorized Philippians 2:14 "DO ALL THINGS WITHOUT ARGUING OR COMPLAINING." I find that it is true that the Word of God really does speak to the heart. When Siah is arguing with me, often times all I have to say is what does "D" say (they memorized this verse from that ABC verse book.) And once he says the verse out loud he often corrects his own behavior. It amazes me. :)
*Another struggle with Siah lately is the way that he has been treating his sisters. He'll do something nasty to them and then gloat about it. I tell him that the Bible defines that kind of behavior as "delighting in evil." And the famous 1 Corinthians 13 verse says, "Love DOES NOT delight in evil. And when you love someone, you willing choose to not get joy out of being a meany face towards them." Then he usually chooses to "Make it right" with his sister. I will confess that there are many days that even when we go through this process, five minutes later the same ugly behavior repeats itself. It really crushes my spirit to see Siah choose to treat his sisters that way. I don't really care about the behavior (although that too is important) as much as I care about what's going on in his heart. I'm sad that sin lives in all of us... even in my little treasure.
This week, in the midst of one of those many moments that I wrote about earlier this week when my children don't listen to me, I had a conversation with Siah that went like this...
Me holding back tears, "Siah, WHY are you choosing to not listen ("For like the thousandth time!" (I didn't say that, but I was SURE thinking it!) to your Mama?"
Siah genuinely looking at me and trying to understand his own behavior, "I just don't know Mama."
Me, no longer able to hold back the tears... "Sin Siah. It's sin. And it's in all of us, even in your Mama."
Looking back I now see how that moment with my Siah could have been a great opportunity to remind both him and myself about our great need for a Savior. "All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." I'm not sure what I was expecting when I became a parent of many small children. I know I never thought that they would be perfect. But I also never anticipated how their sins would effect my heart so deeply... how so often I see my own sin in them... and how deeply I feel love towards them despite their sin. If I, in my overwhelmingly human heart can feel such tremendous love towards my sinful treasures, how much more must the Father feel love towards me despite my sin. After all, when he looks at me, he sees his perfect Son.
I have been praying Ephesians 3:16-19 over my treasures for the past few weeks...
"I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."
I feel as if I love my treasures deeply. But I know that in reality, my love barely scratches the surface in comparison to the one who IS Love!
Monday, August 17, 2009
A friend that comes over, joyfully volunteers to take your newborn treasure, and cares for your other two treasures while you sleep?
A friend that is always the first one there when your little world is falling a part?
A friend that sits in your living room and sings, "He's got the whole world in his hands" and cries with you at the loss of your sixth little treasure?
A friend that has cooked countless meals and planned and hosted countless parties on your behalf?
A friend that has taken your children over night so that you can get 12 glorious hours of peace and quiet with the man that you love?
A friend that somehow just makes you feel blessed when she walks in the room.
A friend that makes you want to be THAT kind of friend?
Well, I have one such amazing friend. She is indescribably selfless and full of kind words. She overflows with gratefulness for the big and the small things in life. She is the kind of friend that makes me want to be a better friend.
And this weekend I had the absolute pleasure and delight of having a celebration in honor of her first little treasure, Laylie Joanelle, due to arrive this October.
No amount of extravagance seems enough to bless such a friend as my friend Melinda Grace White!
But Monique and Danielle and Lisa and I tried our best!
We had an afternoon tea party! It was elegant and dainty. We really had a blast.
But my absolute most favorite parts were our dear friend Marla sharing her heart and her wisdom about Mommyhood; and our time of prayer over Mindy and Laylie.
I'm pretty completely sure that he loves me because late last night, in the dark of our room, he held my hand as I sobbed out my struggles, my insecurities, my passions and my longings. He reminded me that he could not fix it, but he prayed willingly over me.
I'm pretty completely sure that he loves us because when I'm doing the dishes he comes up behind me and gives me a soft kiss on my neck. And our little treasures look on with their big bright eyes.
They put their hands over their mouths and giggle.
There is something about kissing that makes them feel funny inside. Part of them might think that kissing is yucky but something about their demeanor in the moment makes me think that they know there is something magical about the whole thing.
Then Siah inquires, "Papa, why you kiss mama?"
Papa responds, "Because I love your Mama very much... Because that's what a man does when he loves a woman."
Then they giggle some more and run off and play.
What a gift he has given me... what a gift he has given our children.
That I'm in love...
And that I am loved...
Thursday, August 13, 2009
He stood there awkwardly, shivering, as I grabbed a towel out of the drier and glanced at him through the window. You know, the way that you stand when you get out of the pool and your shorts suction themselves against your skin, and goosebumps engulf your entire body as it tries to adjust to the summer breeze blowing across your back. The expression on his face illuminates his discomfort and he quietly moans under his breath as his means of coping while he waits for me to arrive with a towel.
I go outside and remove his soaked rash guard and swim trunks and wrap him tightly in an over-sized beach towel, then pull him in close to my chest and give him a light peck on his cheek.
He glances up and me, smiles, and blesses me with a grateful, "Thank you Mama."
It was so much more for me than a sweet moment with my son...
It was so much more, well, because I know how he feels.
Lately I have felt like I have spent much of my day standing there awkwardly with my shorts stuck to my skin. I can't pin point it for the life of me. It's so many things and yet nothing all... all at the same time.
I have been missing the ones that I have lost like crazy. This morning I was in the kitchen cleaning up after breakfast and it was all I could do to hold back tears, and cheerfully interact with my roommate. My three boys, my mom, I miss them at the most random and awkward of moments it seems. It's easy for me to let my guard down with Joey but I must confess that I have no idea how to be the me that randomly breaks down about my losses in front of others. All I know to do is to stand there awkwardly with my soaking wet shorts stuck to my skin.
I have been on edge with my children lately. I will confess that it is not really them as much as it is me. I will confess that I often forget that they are children and by golly they sure do childish things. They have this very strange problem that I can't imagine any other child in the world has... THEY HAVE A VERY HARD TIME LISTENING! Lately I have been overwhelmed by the feeling that although I think that I am talking to my children, it might be more true that I am talking to myself. And truth be told, it makes me feel really mad... then flustered... then teary-eyed. And once again I find myself standing in front of my non-listening children, at a loss for words, and today there was an added bonus with Reesie screaming in the background because the older kids had gone into her room while she was sleeping and woke her up in the middle of her nap. And all I wanted to do was break down and cry, but my pride wouldn't let me do so in front of my roommates... Again, standing there awkwardly with my soaking wet shorts stuck to my skin.
Although there are so many days that this house feels like a blessing, this week has felt like time after time of standing there awkwardly with my soaking wet shorts stuck to my skin.
Sometimes I wonder where the Lord is in all of this? Why does he leave me standing there awkwardly with my shorts stuck to my skin, freezing with the breeze brushing against my back?
Today I heard His still small voice in my thoughts reminding me that I am right where I am meant to be. If I never stood there awkwardly with my shorts stuck to my skin, then He would never have to be there to strip my soaking wet clothes off and wrap me in His over-sized beach towel... and pull me in close to his chest... and kiss me oh so gently on my forehead.
In this giant house on the hill, He's slowly striping away the things in my heart that quite frankly are just yucky. He's stripping away the pride( that often refuses to ask anyone for help), the doubt (that he really is molding me into a woman that blesses him and brings glory to his name), the discontent (that often forgets all the things that I really do get to be thankful for).
SO... today God I am terrified… terrified of going through the fire for the purpose of being refined. I am calling out to you to be a voice of truth and freedom. Tell me to settle down, to trust you and to release every one of these fears into your arms of faith. I know it is impossible to invite others into a life of obedience if I am unable to live it myself – so today I am re-upping my commitment to obey and be faithful.
I am doing this out of the spirit that lives within – my will wants to hide out in my room and stay there for the next year. But I know that is not YOUR will. Send your angels to tend to me as I feel the temptation to trust myself today – with obedience I am choosing to trust you.
And I am willing to stand there awkwardly with my soaking wet shorts stuck to my skin as long as you need to keep me there to make me more like you.
(Prayer inspired by this post at soul city blog)
Monday, August 10, 2009
Winter boots and her bathing suit in the middle of summer.
This is what Siah wanted to wear to the grocery store yesterday...
Shorts and flip flops, with a few pirate accessories. :)
These are the things that I cherish in my kids. I love that Siah loves his pirate hat(THANK YOU SUSAN for blessing him with his pirate costume!) and that Hal loves her boots. And I not only love it because they are so stinkin cute, but because of what it says about their insides... about their hearts. That pirate hat and those boots are evidence that my kids aren't yet jaded by the insecurities of the world. They are confident in being just who God made them to be.
Hal has no idea that Vogue Magazine would poo-poo her idea of wearing knee high boots in the heat of the August sun. Siah has no idea that most people only wear their pirate hats on October 31st.
Hal just knows that that's what made her feel like a princess when she was getting dressed that morning. Siah just knows that that pirate hat makes him feel joyful and causes him to act silly and have fun.
As we walked around the store, Siah would say something "pirate-ee" about everything... "Arrrrrr, is that there a pirate apple Mama?" or "Arrrrrr, pirates don't like rabbits." Then he asked me about a barrel full of fuzzy kiwi's, "Mama, are those dead rabbits in there?"
So silly... and so fun.
Blessing Upon blessing...