Wednesday, December 17, 2008
One of the things there is a small Christmas tree. In our storage unit are Christmas decorations and our stockings.
There are eight days until Christmas.
I was a little discouraged as Norah was asking, "Mom, can we make cookies for Santa now?!" And I have to reply, "No. Mommy doesn't have the things I need to make cookies." (We keep telling her that Santa isn't real, but just something fun to pretend. But she just is really into him this year!)
Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, our home is converted into a Chistmasy state and stays that way until the new year. But this year. I have nothing up. There's no tree. There are no Christmas lights (my husband always makes our home look beautiful). There aren't any stockings or nativity scene.
But then I took stock. Christmas is more than tinsel, and lights. It is more than presents under a sparkling Christmas tree and cookies fresh from the oven.
More than 2000 years ago Emmanuel was born. God made flesh was came into a fallen world to save it from the sin it was enslaved by. The babe grew up, sinless and perfect, and willingly gave himself up on a cross. Our Saviour was born to die for those who believe.
That's what makes Christmas.
Side Note: I was able to concoct a Christmas treat from Devil's Food Cake and Chocolate Fudge Frosting. I just baked two 9" round cakes, and mixed about 1/2 teaspoon of peppermint extract into the frosting to make a Chocolate Peppermint Cake. Norah and I sprinkled Christmas sprinkles on it and powdered sugar ("snow") to look more festive. That was fun and a blessing.
Monday, December 8, 2008
So I'm a little weirded out that my love is out in the world, since I am not used to it. I am blessed to have the opportunity to get used to it, though!
I've been thinking about two words:
Sustained: to give support or relief to, and
Sufficient: enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end.
With the help of Merriam-Webster Online, I have these definitions. A verse and a song keep coming to mind that are weighty with these words:
When your light surrounds me the world goes away.
I'm sustained, O Lord.
My heart knows your love like it flows through my veins.
Such peace and contentment I've found in your grace,
I can't think why I've ever complained.
You love me.
What more could I want?
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Monday, November 17, 2008
Today, I was tired of standing, so I sat down to glance at the contents of a few of the boxes. What a treasure trove I found! All sorts of pies, and desserts, sauces and salads, from years and years of domestic service were at my fingertips.
I couldn't help but wonder which recipes were made for guests, and what ones were my mom's favorites growing up. I saw a couple different pumpkin pie recipes: which one was the family favorite? There were recipes from a couple different women: who were they? neighbors? friends from church?
I remembered how my grandmother shared with me that as young as 13 years old she would feed the men that threshed the wheat on her family's farm. She used to make breakfast, lunch and dinner for my grandfather and had his shirts starched and ready each day.
My uncle and mom were raised on some of the recipes in those boxes. There were recipes clipped from the newspaper like "President Eisenhower's Favorite Cake," and others cut from old boxes of C&H Sugar.
I could get a sense of what she liked a lot- or at least what my grandfather liked that she would bake for him. Recipes that called for dates, figs, and citrus were prominent.
I didn't write any down for myself. It was just a quick look-through, but I look forward to writing some of them down and sharing them with my own family. Maybe I'll even surprise my grandma with a treat!
That was my little blessing for the day. It made me wonder what would be the recipes from my box that my children would remember and love. What will I pass down? I'm reminded of the sweet opportunity it is to create memories through the taste buds and at our family table!
Thursday, November 13, 2008
We're sorting through everything in my grandmother's home. There is so much to do to get her ready to move into independent living, and most of the responsibility has fallen on me to do that. And when she's moved, it doesn't end with that because then the house has to be ready for us to move in.
It's a giant task. And I feel quite spent. I'm running on empty in my flesh.
What I need is to make sure that I'm being filled with streams of living water. That only comes from Christ through His Word. Only by everyday grace promised to me each morning can I continue in the weeks to come.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
But such refinement doesn't come without cost. There are times when I feel inadequate to uphold my husband, like those who held up Moses' arms as the people of God fought in battle. When his arms lowered, they would begin losing. I feel the pressure at times to hold my husband up, to be his helper as God has called me to be.
Part of holding him up is to be understanding- sympathetic. So, of course, I need the Lord's help. It is only He who can make my heart sensitive and soft enough to feel with my husband as he bears the weight of our family of four.
Yesterday, he got an envelope that contained a recent assignment from school. He poured over commentaries and Scripture of over a week putting together thirteen lessons on Job. In the midst of all this studying, of course, the trials came. His resignation was asked for, and in a whirlwind of events, we find ourselves in a new state with no income, and less severance than promised. But as he looked at the assignment, he saw his grade- 99%.
Good. An A.
Then, the comments. "Excellent!" "Amen!" "Yes."
And, "This is excellent, excellent work. You should submit this for publication," followed by the name of a personal contact of the professor in a small publishing house.
When my husband told me this, I exclaimed, "WOW!" I was truly excited. I was proud. I was so happy that he had a small victory. I knew what that meant to him at the time. It doesn't have to be published, nor doesn't even have to be submitted. The compliment was so much.
I was sympathetic. I was with him as I need to be always. God answered prayer in many ways in that moment through the comments of a professor from the Master's College. My sweet husband was encouraged. His wife was able to rejoice sincerely with him. And my guess is that it was exactly what he needed.
Friday, November 7, 2008
This week, today, the house is closed and new occupants are moving in. There's a check in the mail that will provide for us while my husband still diligently searches for work in one of the worst economic times in recent history.
I am in the process of helping my grandmother reduce her possessions so that she can move into independent living. When she moves out, we will live in her home.
It's a lot.
I find that at times, the grace given to me is just enough to lean. I find that I simply lean on His everlasting arms. I've been thinking of the hymn.
Since 2004 I have continued to grow a greater and greater love for old hymns. They are full of truth and doctrine. When we sing them, we will often find ourselves preaching to ourselves. So today I'm leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms... safe and secure from all alarms.
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.
O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
O how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Father, I know that you are the Author of Time and that you are in control of all things. Lord, may today's election results bring you glory. May the course of America as a nation bring you glory.
We have sinned, God. The citizens of this nation have been greedy, increasing debt, not giving to the needy, and squandering your riches of freedom. Forgive us Father. We have turned away from your holy face and not accepted your grace. We do no uphold life. We do not uphold the joys and freedoms that you have blessed us with. Be gracious to us, dear God and forgive us. Have mercy on us.
May your will be done today as people vote. No matter what the outcome, I will praise you, for you have already written history. You work all things for the good of those you have called. All things are in Your righteous hands, and in that I will rejoice today.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Here are just a few:
1. The fact that it is the first home that we have owned. And that is because of the generosity and help of my husband's parents. So we were able to put our own mark on it in a way we have never been able to. Painting, and other home improvements are things that we have never been able to do before.
2. Haddon took his first steps in this home.
3. Norah learned how to ride a bike in the driveway.
4. Youth barbecues, game nights and Bible studies were held in this house.
5. I hosted a bridal shower in this house, and other friends for dinner. Our home was a blessing to allow us to host members of the body for fellowship.
6. Family dinners and story times were in this house. It was in this house that our dinner table became a centerpiece of our family because before moving here, we were in someone else's home. Before that, our oldest was very young to establish family dinners and such.
7. The Christmases spent in our home here were the first celebrated on our own. Every year before, we were staying with family from out of town or living with family. So we made some of our own traditions.
8. There were some hard things that happened in this place. One was being unrightly rebuked by a respected woman in the church (she was simply wrong in handling and applying Scripture). That was hurtful and hard to handle at times. Church leaders sat in our living room and rebuked my husband in front of me. That was hard too. They were misinformed.
9. My husband and I have had movie nights, or like one week in particular, we spent a few nights in a row watching all the of the Lord of the Rings movies back-to-back. Those are sweet times.
10. This house is the house that our children most associate as home. It is where we have lived the longest. Haddon has been here a majority of his life, and Norah thinks of Colorado as her home more than anywhere else we've been.
I could go on and in more detail, but I will not. God has graciously cared for us in providing this shelter. Though we are saying good-bye to a loved place, we look to the future that God has already prepared for the Lute Family. He alone knows the days ahead. As we move ahead, may it be said of me:
Friday, October 24, 2008
"Here Norah," she said. "These are for you. Thank you for helping me pick up my leaves."
Shyly my daughter accepted the gift, and said a quiet, "Thank you."
The day before, we had quite a few leaves fall off of the trees on our property due to heavier winds. So Norah and I were outside raking and stuffing the heart-shaped aspen leaves (cordates) into big black trash bags.
I saw Norma bending down and picking up her leaves, and noticed that she was getting winded. So we went over and started helping her, since ours were mostly picked up. After helping a bit, I had to get back to some sweeping (the dry leaves had left leaf-crumbs all over the walkway and part of the driveway), and I left Norah with her pal.
Norah scooped up leaves, and with the help of her brother, they helped dear Norma get her job done. They both even dragged the full bags of leaves to the side of her house!
I was so grateful for Norah's help. She made picking up our leaves more enjoyable for myself, but not only that, she was willing to help our neighbor. I was blessed to see that my little girl was a little light in someone's day. We don't always get a thank-you for service. Nor do we always see a reward in this world, but my little girl got to enjoy a plate of homemade cookies from a seasoned grandma- a treat she doesn't get often because we are far from grandmas and grandpas!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
But that hasn't been the case in our home for the past week or so.
Seven o'clock hits, and it's: ARE YOU READY TO RUUMMBBLLEEE!
All eight of the couch toss pillows are out. The children are stripped to just a diaper or undies- whatever the case may be- and it's time to play! Norah will throw a pillow at her father. Haddon tries to tackle me. Things get downright silly in our living room. They jump on the couches and ask my husband and I to "get them." Norah wants to dance, be thrown in the air, or something of the sort.
As a mom who likes to have the kids in bed at eight, I was a little rattled by this new development, but as it turns out, they will still go to bed at eight or soon thereafter. It's just that before then, we get to goof around and laugh and be silly.
I am blessed by this. It's not long that children want mom and dad to tackle and play with them. And it's not for long that mom and dad can do that without getting too injured! (There's only so much damage a 2 and 3 year-old can do!) So I embrace the Lute Family Wrestling Hour. From seven o'clock until eight o'clock each evening, it's family time. A time to just play and have fun with each other. That's important, and I will happily continue the ruckus.
Friday, October 10, 2008
In my moment of sin, the tears came, and I made my little girl upset. She saw her mommy lose it, and that is unsettling. I remember what my mom was to me- a rock- and if that rock ever cracked, a piece of my universe went into chaos. I am my daughter's rock, and I let her universe turn to chaos.
So, I took her in my arms and had her look me straight in the eyes. "Norah," I said. "Mommy and Daddy have a lot of things to work out to take care of our family, and sometimes we have a hard time." I went on to explain that no matter how many things are different or how things will change, we will always lover her and take care of her.
And then I found myself speaking this profound truth, "And you know who takes care of mommy and daddy and you and Haddon? Jesus takes care of us."
The smile on my daughter's face was a joy and brought conviction. Here I was speaking this great truth, that His grace is sufficient. He provides for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field, and I was in fear?! Oh, why was I downcast? What do I have to fear when my God is bigger than anything that I or my family faces?!
In speaking truth to my child, I was reminded that I am His child, and He will take care of me.
Thursday, October 9, 2008
From Facebook, I have reconnected with several people that I attended high school, middle school, and even elementary school. And while there are always those who claimed faith in the past and are no longer living a life where there is evidential proof of that claimed faith, I am blessed by those who I encounter that are still living out that faith in the One true God.
I have been able to hear stories of pre-mature babies that God healed and provided financially for the great medical bills. I know of the young woman who got pregnant, raised her daughter as a single mom, and just was married this year, giving her daughter a father and fulfilling her godly desire to be a wife. I get to see pictures of others who were baptized, called to a ministry as a pastor's wife, and then married. One dear friend has experienced the healing power as God has mended her broken heart from a broken marriage. She now is seeking to further her education so that she might one day teach abroad in Africa.
There are Salem Academy Crusaders that are real life crusaders fighting for causes bigger than themselves for God's glory. My good friend works to educate people and inform them on how to adopt children with special needs or those that are older, or sibling groups- all children that are difficult to place permanently. She is fighting a good fight to find families for these children and teens, and this is after she spent a time working for the state as a social worker. Another elementary classmate lives in China where he is fundraising to build an orphanage for children who are infected with AIDS. Another schoolmate lives in Mexico ministering to college students, sharing the Gospel with them. She was just married this summer.
There are moms and dads who have beautiful families and live daily lives serving the community and raising their children to love the Lord. As I write this today, a middle school friend is being induced with her second son! Before becoming a wife and mommy, she spoke in schools educated students about abstinence. Her sister awaits a new nephew along with her daughter, born this year, after enduring the loss of miscarriage. A few of my classmates have adopted children to build their families.
I have been so blessed to know their stories, to rejoice with them in their triumphs, and grieve with them in loss. I am so glad to be counted among these Crusaders who are living lights in their communities as nurses, teachers, scientists, and other professions. And all this joy was brought to me by a silly networking site called Facebook.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
So after four showings, and a fifth to be rescheduled, the possibility to sell and sell quickly seems like it could be a reality. But it could be that twenty more showings need to happen before finding a buyer!
We don't know what will be in the near future, but we do know that God is weaving a tapestry of blessings to display His glory in our lives. We have many questions like: Where and when will Casey find work? Will the house sell soon? Will we be able to pay the mortgage after November? When will we have health insurance again?
But we know the Answer to all questions, and in Him our hope and faith rests. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7) With a slumping economy, inflating dollar, and rising gas prices, we do not find rest or peace. But with the Alpha and Omega, the Holy One, we find peace, hope.
I praise God for His steadfastness, and His care. He is a caring Shepherd who meets all my needs, and gives me no reason to fret. So I can truly lie down in the green pastures and have my soul restored. I can rest in His goodness.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
"Look Haddon. Here," Norah said as she handed the tortilla to her brother after taking a bite for herself.
Haddon bites. Norah bites. Haddon bites... and on it goes until the tortilla is consumed.
How nice it was to see big sister share with her little brother, and for little brother to not panic if something was taking away for big sister to have a turn.
Nibble by nibble, bite by bite, my children lived out sharing. It made me smile.
Monday, September 22, 2008
So last night, my sweet husband put our children to bed, and while I was in bed shivering, he did the dishes that had piled up.
This morning, I got up for a bit, but just didn't feel well enough to stay up- so back to bed for me! And my husband continued to care for the kids, making them lunch, and providing what they needed, all the while working on an assignment that he has due for school.
When I got up in the early afternoon, feeling a little better, I came out into the living room, and my little boy came charging up to me. With a big smile on his face, he gave me a big hug, and laid his head on my shoulder. He missed his mom.
Today I am thankful that I have a husband who takes care of me and our children, and is diligent in his pursuit of finding a job. He has hit the ground running since being relieved of his pastoral ministry, and I am grateful that he feels the weight of being a provider. I know that the Lord will bless his efforts in His timing.
I am also grateful that I have a little boy who missed me, and although he cannot speak, he showed me the best way that he could that his mom was missed. His hug meant a lot to me.
And of course I'm also grateful that the shaking, feverish, chills are gone, and now I can work feverishly on getting things done that I need to!
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
We're sad that things did not work out in Colorado. We're sad to leave students and other people that we've poured our hearts into. And sometimes we wonder if the manner in which the relationship between ourselves and the church ended, would diminish the work God has blessed us to do.
But then both my husband and I were encouraged in many different ways.
First, the last thing that my husband cleared out of his office were some random books that were in the top of a closet. Under one of those books was a pile of pictures. He said that he thinks that the pictures were just put there when he moved into the office two years ago. He hadn't seen them or thought of them since. In that little pile of pictures were memories of a River Cats game that we took youth to when we ministered in Woodland, California. Another picture showed my husband with two of the boys from Woodland at a winter camp that my husband was the speaker for. And he was reminded of what a flourishing and beautiful ministry we were blessed with there, and that God used us there.
Yesterday I also had written to one of those girls that we were able to minister to in Woodland. I let her know what had happened, and she responded by telling me that she was really sad for what had recently happened. She expressed her hope that our experience here in Colorado wouldn't deter us from continuing in the ministry.
God graced my husband and I both yesterday by reminding us of our calling to minister to the church (my husband as a pastor and me as his supporter and partner). At a time when we could easily become discouraged and even tempted to give up on that calling, the Lord used his people to remind us that we are loved and that we are equipped with the grace of God to serve the church.
One of the main difficulties my husband has faced, and what has lead to our ultimate departure was a difference in opinion over how to grow a youth ministry. Activities was the answer of church leadership. Faithful preaching and teaching of God's word was my husband's. We didn't see the numbers grow, and so it was perceived that my husband was not doing his job.
Looking at the pictures from Woodland, and reading a note from a student from that ministry, along with keeping in touch with those students who have moved on out of high school and into college, has been incredibly encouraging to us. The proof is in the pudding, so they say, and those that came out of our ministry in Woodland are discerning, not being swept away or caught up in the latest trends of the post-modern church. They hold a high priority on the Word and hold that as truth over all else, and they are living lives that are shining lights for the gospel wherever they go.
Their faithful lives are a gift of grace on us as we look to what God would have us do next. I am so grateful for God's faithfulness in using broken vessels like myself and my husband to bring Him glory.
Beyond the encouragement from our past in Woodland, my husband got a call from a friend that he had not spoken to in a long time. That friend prayed for Casey over the phone. I have received messages from current members of the church we just left, as well as old friends that I have known for years. Even as the news of our departure is being spread in town, we are getting calls from parents or youth workers that we were close to, expressing their sadness and offering well wishes.
God is good to use his people in that way.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
The LORD will keep you from all evil;
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Upon exiting the store, we saw that it was "Fill the Boot" time for our local fire department. One of the officers saw my disgruntled daughter and gave her a handful of balloons to blow up and some stickers.
When we arrived home I realized that we had forgotten bread. So rather than go back to the store, I figured that I would just make some.
So after blowing up a couple balloons, I began making homemade bread. The balloons occupied the kids for most of the time, and because I actually remembered the flour that we needed, I was able to bake bread despite forgetting the needed item.
What a blessing it was for the kind-hearted firefighter to give balloons to my grumpy child, halting her fit and allowing for entertainment for both brother and sister to enjoy while mommy baked! And just think, if I hadn't forgotten bread, then we wouldn't have the fresh, homemade bread that we enjoy right now.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
When I was handed to Karen Fields, legend has it (according to my grandmother), the first thing she said was, "Mom, isn't she beautiful?" And there I was. God had directed one woman to choose life when the highest courts of the United States had deemed it legal for her to make a medical choice about her unplanned pregnancy.
Grace covers the beginning of my relationship and permeates it throughout.
One thing that I associate most with my mother is the selflessness she demonstrated as a true hallmark of motherhood. When I was little, she stayed home, a sacrifice not readily made by many. She demonstrated to me that my sister and I were always a priority over any personal dreams or goals she may have had outside the home. She didn't buy things for herself, and admits even today that she feels guilty sometimes for buying something for herself! She has conditioned her heart and mind to always be last- putting her children and grandchildren first.
My mother never allowed any shadow of doubt to be cast about the priority of motherhood. She worked only when she had to, and even then strove to be home as much as possible to provide stability when our family was broken by divorce. No one else had to take me to doctor appointments, or come to my sports events because my mom was always there. Being an involved presence as a mother was never compromised by outside factors.
This stamp was pressed hard into my life, and as I grew up learning more of God's Word, the example that she demonstrated of the mother busy at home was solidified as truth.
Now it is a joy to follow in my mother's footsteps as a stay-at-home mom, focused on the daunting task of raising godly children and being obedient to the call of motherhood that God has placed on my life. She had left a solid legacy that I am proud to follow as I strive to sacrifice self and all that entails from the new clothes, to outside-the-home aspirations.
So thank you, mom. Thank you for being an instrument of grace. Your selflessness as a mother has set the tone for God's Word to captivate my conscience, and for me to follow your example in prioritising family over self. That grace flows through the Lute home as everyday grace from above, as Norah and Haddon learn and grow.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
To add to the pressure of money, was a looming need for Haddon to have some braces to straighten his feet (they are turning in and require some correction). I was preparing to make a phone call to our medical insurance to ask a couple questions, and as I looked for his insurance card- there it was: thirty dollars! I was already planning on going to the grocery store that day and was dreading it a bit, but the thirty dollars made me feel a little better.
At the grocery store we had just finished. But as we were heading to the checkout, of course that's when I remember that we needed more margarine. Margarine is in the back of the store- so off we went! I'm looking at the shelves of dairy products in front of me, and then I see it: Gold 'n' Soft.
Gold 'n' Soft is a margarine that I grew up using. My husband grew up on it, and his parents continue to buy it. It is cheap, melts well, and tastes good. Having lived in another state on a couple different occasions, I have experienced that Gold 'n' Soft is hard to find. Never did I find it in California. Only one or two other times have I seen it here in Colorado, but that day the butter/margarine section was full of Gold 'n' Soft!
I couldn't help but say with surprise in my voice, "Gold 'n' Soft!" as I reached for a couple tubs. It was a piece of home, in a way. Sometimes we miss being closer to family. Two Christmases in a row have been spent apart from loved ones, and it has been over a year since my husband has been able to see all of his family. We have a new nephew that was born three months ago, and Casey won't be able to see him for quite a bit. We have another niece or nephew that will be born next month, and we're not sure when we will get to meet him or her. Maybe a certain type of margarine isn't a big deal, but sometimes it can be a little piece of home.
And that's what it was for me that day. I little bit of everyday grace from above. How grateful I am for being worth more than lilies and birds, and for receiving gifts of grace.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
But what she said next was what I found interesting. She said, "Mom, sometimes you are bad." Knowing that she was speaking the truth, I humbly answered, "yes," and looked for examples of when I'm bad- like when I lose my temper or get upset. Then we talked about how Norah does the same, but that we both are good sometimes too. We are good because that is a gift from God.
There are two things that I took from this. The first was what we were able to do right then and there. We prayed thanking God for the things that He has given to my daughter that she is thankful for, and then we also took the time to repent of times when we do not bring glory to God in our actions. What a sweet, sweet opportunity I had to instruct my daughter about our need for repentance and forgiveness of sins, and that it is God that we must be reconciled to.
The second was how sad it is that my own daughter was so quick to recognize her mommy's faults. Oh, how I fall short of God's glory! And I need His grace as I strive to raise godly and wise children.
I wrote a poem quite a while ago to remind myself of the important truth that as mothers we reap what we sow. I hope that to those who read this who are mothers, it encourages and challenges you as it does me.
A Mother’s Harvest
A mother reaps what she sows.
What she plants, she will see grow.
The Maker’s grace to show the way,
How to teach the Word every day.
Thro’ the time she gives, the love she shows,
God’s perfect love they will know.
The rod and staff from a mother’s heart,
The Good Shepherd’s law to impart.
So dear mother, keep in mind
Be patient, faithful and kind.
For what a mother sows she reaps,
And what she plants is there for keeps.
Friday, July 18, 2008
While Casey was away this last week, I was on my own with two little ones, and a household to maintain. I'm not complaining, but God laid some things on my heart that week.
I realized that I need to be praying for moms who are single. They have a daunting task before them to provide for their children's' basic needs by working, and balancing that with providing an active presence in their lives, disciplining and training, loving and discipling.
I found it difficult simply being home the whole time! I couldn't wrap my mind around that day in and day out of taking the kids to childcare or school, getting to work on time, and picking them up, packing lunches, cooing dinner, and getting errands done!
Oh, how the single moms in our lives need to be encouraged and supported! They need to be lifted up in prayer and given extra doses of grace to accomplish the mighty tasks ahead of them. God is good to remind me of these women- especially having been raised by a single mother myself.
My daughter Norah is three. And these past few weeks she wants to dress like me, put her hair up like me, etc. The other day she asked if she could get a hair clip like the ones I put my hair in (one of those claw-looking things). One day I was wearing sneakers- so she wanted to wear sneakers. Today, I braided my hair in two braids and am wearing a royal blue shirt. Norah wanted to know where her royal blue shirt was so she could dress like me, and of course, her hair is in two braids today also. She doesn't have a blue shirt, so I had to convince her that both of us wearing tanks tops (though mine is underneath a shirt) is just as good.
Although it's something that I laugh at because nearly every day Norah finds some way to copy me, I am keenly aware that my little girl is watching me. She watches what I wear, what I say, and what my attitude is. She has already identified me and the parent that she is to model- just as Haddon will target my husband one day. It is very sweet to me to have a little girl, and as much as she challenges me, she blesses me. I only hope that I am a woman worth imitating.
Hugs and Kisses
Haddon, my 2-year-old, is a very cuddly guy. Even as an infant, he was the one who wanted to snuggle and cuddle. He would nuzzle into your neck or shoulder and was happy to be curled up in a person's lap. He is still like that- at least to the degree that a toddler can be snugly and cuddly! He is a very affectionate little boy, loves blowing kisses and laying his head on a loved one's shoulder. So you can only imagine how precious it is to get little kisses from him every day.
Norah, on the other hand, has never been a cuddler. Her dad held her in the hospital, and instead of wanting to be swaddled, had her arms and legs stretched out stiff. She has been on the move as soon as she knew how to be. But a few nights ago, I was given a rare treat by my little independent girl. I was telling her good night, and reached down to give a hug. To my surprise, she didn't just gently put her arms on my shoulders, but she actually embraced me and held me there for a moment- just a moment. As a walked away with a warm heart, I heard her little voice say, "Good night mom." And then my heart melted.
So there it is. It's really just a little bit of the joys that I've had in the last few weeks, but I was finally able to write something.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
A week later, my in-laws, along with my husband, left for Grand Junction. They returned without a home. The housing market in Grand Junction was highly competitive at the time. Houses were being sold in a day. The evening that they returned home, we received a call. There was a house coming on the market... it seemed perfect. After members of our new church looked at it, and described it to us via the phone, we put an offer in... so did two other potential buyers. The house didn't even have a "For Sale" sign out front yet. Our offer was chosen. God gave us a house, less than 1 mile from the church and the church offices.
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
When you live far from family and folks that you have known for years, only the body of Christ can fill in a gap like that- at at least come close! We have celebrated Thanksgiving in others' homes, and welcomed others into our home. We celebrate birthdays, and minister alongside dear members of the body. How sweet it is to recognize the church as a family!
One person that has been an immeasurable blessing is my friend Becca. As fellow stay-at-home mom, she and I can relate to one another. We can call each other during some of those long days, and make each other smile. We can laugh at the funny things that happen in the day-to-day, wonderful grind that is motherhood.
She has a heart for youth ministry, and it is easy to share with her the challenges that I face as I work with young people. Our children are similar ages, and they love to play together. She is an example to me and challenges me as I watch her raise her three young children in a God-glorifying way.
So I am thankful for Becca. Having a simple conversation with her can brighten my day, keep me sane, and bless me as we share about the truths of Scripture and the joys of walking with the Lord. She is one of the everyday blessings that God has given me, and I praise Him for the work that He has done in my life as a result of her friendship.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Casey was excited to see that another post was added highlighting a comment he had made on a previous post by Taylor.
Sometimes the simplest things can make you happy or bring a smile to your face- like being noticed. So here is a link to my husband getting noticed.
Monday, June 23, 2008
My husband and I emotionally parted ways at the airport, and after having one of the easiest flights with a 3-year-old and 1-year-old, we arrived in Portland, Oregon and were greeted by Casey's parents.
In the days to follow, my children's days were filled with cousins, and different outings like the Oregon Zoo, Enchanted Forest, and Silver Creek Falls. They got to watch movies at each of their grandmother's houses, and had pancakes about 5 times in a nine-day period.
We were blessed to celebrate my sister's graduation from nursing school, and enjoy meeting the newest member of our family, Miles Jacob, only 4 weeks old. In person we were able to give hugs and laugh together and have sweet conversations. We beheld my sister-in-law's growing belly and were able to enjoy the anticipation of gaining another niece or nephew in the fall- and seeing Uncle Kyle and Aunt Kari become parents for the first time.
So I am thankful that we were able to go and that my children had a sweet time with family, and I am thankful to be home. Upon coming home, I was immediately hit again with the responsibilites of being mom and wife. A sick husband, suitcases of laundry, a shower to host, and a wet bed all hit me within the first 48 hours! It is good to be back home. I am blessed.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
But in the midst of all the "to-do's"- there was a moment that was precious. I had gladly given my two children the permission to go outside- more as a treat for me than them, as I had some tasks to get done- and after a few minutes they come bounding into the kitchen holding a treasure only a mom could enjoy to its fullest.
In their hands combined were six buttercups, and a purple flower from our back yard. The stems of the buttercups in my daughter's hand were too short to do anything with, and they were a little damaged. My son proudly held a mutilated sixth buttercup and the purple flower- whose stem was bent. And at his big sister's leading, both presented me with their great find.
Although I'm quite focused on tomorrow's trip, and despite the long list of things yet to do, I relished that moment today. For the first time I received flowers from my little boy, and although the bunch looked a little sad and wasn't worthy of a florist shop, I felt like those seven little flowers may well have been a dozen perfect red roses.
Monday, June 9, 2008
Of course this is a hard habit to establish, but I have found that the rewards of doing this are so great. I'm ready before my daughter wakes up (she's my earlier bird)- ready to play with her, meet her needs better, and it allows me to focus on my children better throughout the day. There's no fighting for time to clean, play, pick up, and run errands. Things are scheduled out, and I don't really know what took me so long to figure this out. I'm a slow learner I guess. But I am so grateful for the routine that I now have with the kids, and how putting forth this extra effort on my part has changed the tone in our home- for the better!
So I am just so grateful for the work that God is doing in our home, continually reshaping it, and growing our family more and more.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
I am up early this morning, because I feel the weight of all these things this morning: conviction, mercy, forgiveness, repentance- working together to refine my heart in the fire of God's grace to move me closer to the image of His Son.
The words of a worship song are stuck in my head. This is a song that I know we sang in youth group when I was in high school, but I can't remember if it was sung in the youth ministry that I served in before my husband and I were married. It really hasn't been sung my myself regularly since those times. So it has been a good five years since it has come to mind, really. But here it is, in my head, weighted in my heart:
I Cry Out
I cry out, for your hand of mercy to heal me.
I am weak, I need your love to free me.
Oh Lord, my Rock, my strength in weakness,
Come rescue me, oh Lord
For you are my hope,
and your promise never fails me
And my desire
is to follow you forever
For you are good, for you are good, for you are good to me.
For you are good, for you are good, for you are good to me.
I cry out, for your hand of mercy to heal me.
(Craig Musseau, 1990)
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
After passing his hearing tests and being evaluated in a 2-hour long play evaluation, it was recommended that he begin speech therapy for his speech delay.
So we began seeing Kathy, and Haddon took to her immediately. And every time we have gone, I have seen a breakthrough. But yesterday was especially sweet to me, as I was blessed to see him accomplish two victories in his speech development.
The first came as he was playing with a puzzle of animals. So of course we're telling Haddon what the animals are and what sounds they make. He has only made a few attempts at making animal noises- never a doggy. But yesterday, without hesitation, my son said, "Woo-woof!"
What a sweet moment it is to see your child claim the littlest victory over something they struggle with! As a mom, I'm fighting with my son to help him "catch up" to others his own age. And slowly, I am seeing progress.
The second victory was another sweet one. As Haddon goes down a slide or a toy car, we would say, "Ready... Set... Go!" So on that cue, of "ready", Haddon began to make the s-sound for "set", and then a clear "GO!" It was wonderful! Even when he got home, and dad practiced the phrase with him, he continued to pronounce "go" well, and make that s-sound.
To some this may seem too simple. Haddon made a dog noise, and the word go. But to us, as we have worked and prayed with him so that he can develop communication skills, barking like a dog, and responding to a cue are victories for our little boy. It is a gift given from above confirming the efforts we've made and the trust that we've put in those that know more about speech development than us.
I praise the Lord because he has created my son as an individual with strengths and weaknesses. And I am humbled because as his mommy, I am charged with the task of discipling and instructing this little one- in the way he should go (Proverbs 22:6). Our Maker has given this little boy a victory, and the glory belongs to Him. I am thankful. Haddon is on his way- he'll be talking my ear off in His time!
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places."
As one of the elect in Christ, no spiritual blessing is witheld from me! I have ALL of Christ! Grace is bestowed upon me every day: strength to be obedient, wisdom to discern, courage to disciple... the list goes on. The Gospel that saved me, is the Gospel that sustains that salvation through the power of Christ.
So this is my challenge to myself: Actively look for the daily evidences of grace, everyday grace.
I want to be daily thanking my Savior for all the spiritual blessings that he pours on me each day. I don't intend to post every day, as I am a mom of two toddlers and have full days of playing, cleaning and discipling, but this is a chance for me to declare the goodness of the Lord, and hopefully, encourage others to do the same- all for the glory of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!