Sunday, December 27, 2009

the end of a season

I believe I am returning from my longest-ever blogging hiatus. I've had a few topics bouncing around in my mind, but never made it to the computer with the expressed purpose of recording said topics. For now, suffice it to say that we've been extremely busy, in more ways than one. Of course, Christmas is a busy season for all of us, isn't it? My wonderful husband's dedication to building us from debt to wealth (thanks, Dave Ramsey!) really freed my stress this year. I decided to make as many Christmas gifts as possible, to get done what I could manage without gaining extra grays (where are all these gray hairs coming from??), not spend an excessive amount of money on people who have everything they need and most things they want (like ourselves), and to let the rest sliiiiiiide. And as a result, for the first time in many many years, Christmas was fun. I love giving gifts--truly--but I hate the artificial pressure of our artificial celebrations during such a sacred, REAL season of what should be the most genuine and humbling of celebrations.

Rachel is 3 1/2 now, and she understands so much. How do you teach a kid that this a season to GIVE, not get? I told her every chance I got. I helped her make gifts for a few of her most beloveds--her grandparents and her daddy. But everywhere we went, people asked Rachel what she wanted for Christmas, what was Santa going to bring her, and if she had been "good enough" to get STUFF. Stuff, people...really?? That's what it's all about?

I have never reflected on the toy drives that occur during this season. We are encouraged to make Christmas happen for families who can't afford to "do" Christmas the way Christmas should be done (apparently). I have never, until this year, considered the implications therein. What is Christmas?? Is it a time when it's okay for kids to be greedy? Who are we, that we can "make" Christmas for people? The very beauty of Christmas is that it is available to everyone, no strings attached. There are no people who cannot experience Christmas. Christmas is nothing, if it is not free and available to all.

I don't mean to downplay the mercy ministries that happen during this season. After all, as we reflect on God's mercy in sending the greatest gift to us on Christmas day (or somewhere around that, anyway), how could we not respond by extending similar mercy to those among us who are without? But this is the first year that it struck me that it is all vanity if we don't proclaim the name of Christ and communicate God's ultimate gift to us. All of our mercy-giving and gift-giving, even among our families and close friends, is vanity without Christ.

Jarrad and I are very blessed with families who seem to genuinely enjoy blessing us with good gifts during this season. We hardly feel the need (and nearly feel guilty) purchasing gifts for our own children because of the volume of gifts given them by others who love them so. We would never want to take the joy out of that. But I can definitely say that I'm at a loss for how to help my children understand that receiving gifts is absolutely at the bottom of the list of important-things-that-happen-in-December. I do think we'll start by trying not to allow our children to get caught in the "gift race," wherein one finds oneself trying to guess who will spend how much to buy which gift for me so that I can do my best to match, if not exceed those gifts by giving equal, if not better gifts in return. I shook that this year, as I've been most guilty in the past.

Okay, okay...I promise I'll do a fun post soon about all the stuff the kids got for Christmas. In the meantime, here are a few of the gifts I created for our loved ones this year:

An outfit for my nephew, from a pair of my cords I never wore (the pants are a tad too small for him...sad!) key fobs! (these were so quick and easy and FUN to make) embellished onesie and handmade tutu for my niece (my favorite gift, hands down) hand-printed tee for a cousin, whose name I drew at Thanksgiving :) ...he's a bird lover! laptop sleeve with matching drawstring cord pouch, made from an upcylced hoodie (second fav gift)

Monday, November 9, 2009

the gods of a culture

I believe that our culture worships two gods: comfort and convenience. Even within the church (perhaps especially in the church), we blindly worship these gods.

I am wrong when my emotion flares as a result of some effect to my comfort or convenience. When I feel I have been mistreated by my spouse, I can choose to be angry. I can apply energy to pouting and fuming--maybe even yelling and crying. Why do I do this? Have I been wronged? Perhaps. Am I commanded to love anyway? Most certainly. Nowhere does scripture allow even a moment for anger, retaliation, resentment. Is my anger justified? Society would say, 'absolutely,' because my comfort or my convenience was compromised--or, worse, forfeited--by the actions of another. And maybe after years of being inconvenienced and discomforted, it is a natural progression that I leave my spouse. I might reason that my spouse is not contributing to my comfort nor my convenience, and, in fact, he never has, and, in fact, I have made it clear to him that he must, and, in fact, he chooses not to, and so I am justified to leave him and pursue comfort and convenience for myself.

We disregard our neighbors regularly, in favor of these gods. We do not wish to pursue anyone who is not useful to us and our gods. We may have those in our lives who once provided us with comfort and/or convenience, but from whom we distanced ourselves when some action of theirs led to our discomfort or our being inconvenienced. Once this phenomenon has occurred (maybe several times), we excuse ourselves from trusting others and from loving others. After all, I've been "burned" by others (which really means that others have failed in providing me with the comfort and convenience I expected from them).

To behave in this way exposes our own idolatry. There is nothing that excuses me from doing what God has commanded us to do in His Word: to love Him and to love others. To love is to trust. There are no exceptions. My comfort and my convenience can play no part whatsoever in my choosing to obey these commands. If I can manage to disregard my own comfort and convenience--to stop worshipping these idols--I will understand that these two commands--to love God and to love others--are really one command.

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength." If I am doing that, I have no energy left to worship another. I have nothing left that will allow me to pursue my own comfort and convenience. And, in fact, I can easily leave those gods behind, as my comfort and convenience are in no way tied to my happiness nor my self-worth nor my motivation. And if I leave those gods of comfort and convenience behind, I can easily disregard the actions and words of others, in favor of loving them, as I am commanded to do. And thus, if I am wholly fulfilling the first (and greatest) command--to love God--then my ability to fulfill the second command will be unwavering--a mere side-effect of the first.

Friday night, Jarrad played board games with some of our good friends. They enjoy strategy games--the kind that take hours to finish--and he didn't come home until almost 2:00am. I tried to wait up for him, but I fell asleep. The next day, I woke up angry. When he woke up, he knew I was angry. He was tired and cranky all day. He took a nap when I wanted him to help me clean. He lashed out at me when I spoke sharply to him. He went to bed early when I still had things to get done.

He was useless to me. Sound harsh? In my anger, that is how I was behaving. And because he was useless to me, I chose not to act in love towards him. I put my own comfort (I did not want to go to bed alone) and convenience (I wanted him to happily help me prepare for guests in our home), above God's command to love. Idolatry. If I were perfect, I would have shown him love anyway. Was he wrong? Maybe. Does it matter? No. Was I wrong? Definitely.

So, then, is there ever a place for confrontation? It happens over and over in scripture, and Jesus was a part confrontation repeatedly. If Jarrad acted wrongly, I have a responsibility to confront him. However, I must do so in love. Practically, that means I am thinking only of what will draw Jarrad closer to God, and what will strengthen our marriage relationship (in order to better reflect the relationship between Christ and His followers).

Today (a day and a half later), I asked Jarrad to forgive me. I recognized in humility that I should not have acted towards him the way that I did. He graciously (as always) agreed to forgive me. We later had a civil conversation about Friday night, and we both were able to make concessions and agree on future arrangements, should this situation arise again.

Two things are obvious whenever I humble myself in this way. One is that it is difficult. I will never understand this, but it is clearly rooted in pride (as all sin is, yes?). Secondly, the other party is completely disarmed. Jarrad had been angry, too. He was angry that I held expectations for him that he was not privy to. He was angry because he felt that my anger was unjustified (if not absurd). But when I humbled myself and muttered those alien words, "I'm sorry," he immediately softened and was able to hear my perspective with an open heart and mind.

And so, as always, I will move forward, praying to focus on following God's greatest commandment--to LOVE--instead of the gods of comfort and convenience.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


Where goes the time? Our sweet Carly was born one year ago today. I don't even have the words to express this emotion of knowing that your baby is not such a baby anymore. This little girl, who a year ago lay helpless in my arms, is now toddling everywhere and forming opinions of her own. She says a few words--including "no no" and "night night," which sound the same--but even without much vocabulary, has become quite bossy. In fact, she rather reminds me of another little missy who also lives in my house and seeks to rule the roost during her every waking moment. It has quickly become apparent that Rachel will soon meet her match in Carly.

Probably my favorite thing about Carly right now is that she loves to snuggle (on her own terms, of course). I call her Kitty Cat (I think I've reported that in another post) because she likes to bump her head against things/people. If I lean close to her, she will meet me halfway and give me a forehead check. She loves wallowing around on the bed or on pillows on the floor. I love it. The stage she's in is so fun. She's been walking long enough now that she's started climbing and trying to sit on things, and she loves to come check in with Mommy or Daddy on occasion, which is nice. She is ready to go to bed every night by 6:30pm, and will almost run to the bottom of the stairs repeating "NAAAA NA, NAAAA NA, NAAAA NA" at the mere mention of going night night. She also loves wearing her shoes. If ever she is mad about not being allowed to do something (usually climb the stairs), I can always suggest we find her shoes for a good distraction. She finds them, carries them to me, throws them on the floor at my feet, and sits down expectantly. Her command is "Da," and that's all she really needs, as it is usually quite plain what she's wanting to communicate. She repeats my intonation, too. If I say "Do you wanna go eat?" she usually follows with, "Daa?" with a little cock of her eyebrow. I know she's my own, but I do think she is so stinking cute. And I don't know how she ended up with these bright blue eyes, but we get comments on them everywhere we go, and I'm thinking we'll need to lock her away when the boys start noticing.

It has been an eventful year for our family, and it's hard to remember what life was like before sweet Carly was here to make it more enjoyable. And I can't wait to see where to Lord takes our family from here! And finally, here is a video from a couple of weeks ago, when Carly insisted on wearing these particular shoes for her regular tour of the living room. Silly baby!

Monday, October 12, 2009

what keeps me busy

I have recently fallen in love with sewing. I tried a few times in the past, but never got into it. But I have discovered that I just don't think it's fun to cut into a pattern and turn it into a garment. What I DO think is fun is to look at fabric and create something from it. And so, after wading through several tutorials online, I have found bits and pieces of inspiration all over my house.

My first recycle project was a t-shirt reconstruction. Rachel and I participated with some friends in the Walk4Hearing a couple of weeks ago. My friend Carla had special t-shirts made for our team: Team Turtles. Rachel's adult small was, needless to say, too big. So I turned it into a!

I used one of Rachel's existing dresses as a guide, cut the original shirt down to that size/shape, and sewed the side seams. I then took one of my discarded ribbed tanks and cut out sleeves and a ruffle for the bottom of the dress. I made the ruffle by pulling the fabric as I ran the edge through my serger. I used the bottom hem of the ribbed shirt for the sleeves so that the edges were already finished, and I ran one straight stitch with elastic bobbin thread to give the sleeves some poof. I also ended up having to put darts in the back because the dress needed more shape and still looked really big on her.

I had so much fun doing that, that I decided to recon some others of my discarded clothes. I had this striped long sleeve tee that I LOVED the colors, but never loved the shirt itself. So, per tutorials I found online, I cut the sleeves and made them into a little pair of pants for Rachel. It was SO easy that I couldn't resist trying to use the rest of the shirt, too. However, not wanting the outfit to be overwhelmed by stripes, I dug through our giveaway pile and found this plain brown shirt that I used to love. Armed with scissors and a newfound interest in gathering and shirring, I cut a bodice from the top of the striped shirt and sewed it to the gathered bottom of the brown shirt...

Clearly needing sleeves, I employed the sleeve portion of the brown shirt, also adding a line of elastic for fluff. The sleeves landed perfectly at her elbows! The biggest mistake I made was forgetting to add seam allowances in the sleeves, so I had to kind of finagle the armholes to match, which rendered the top a bit lop-sided. Live and learn! Finally, I used the bottom hem of the striped shirt to make a simple beanie(Rachel ultimately complained the hat was too tight...oops.) All told, it was the most fun I've had sewing, hands down.

And now...the finished product!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

oh, dear

I don't know how to fix it, but Rachel has been very demanding lately. I don't mean demanding like "I need lots of things from my mommy, which makes her tired" demanding; I mean more like "I'm unhappy with what I have and want anything else, please" demanding. All day long, it's "I want" and "Can I have" and "gimme gimme gimme!" How do you teach a kid to be content?

To add insult to injury, she is becoming a bit shall I say?...conniving? That sounds extreme, but it's actually quite accurate. Here's a prime example:

  • Mommy (seeing Rachel jumping on her bed): Rachel! You are not to jump on your bed!
  • Rachel plops down on her bottom, laughing.
  • Mommy: Rachel, I do not think this is funny.
  • Rachel (still laughing): I'm just laughing at something else.
  • Mommy: Excuse me??
  • Rachel: I was just laughing at sissy. She's a funny baby.

I was flabbergasted. I can't believe how sophisticated her thinking is becoming, and it's disheartening to see her trying to deceive and manipulate. That girl definitely keeps me guessing!

She tried to pull the same lie on me a couple of days later, but I was more prepared and handled it better. I couldn't help but feel like my heart was breaking a little, though. I guess it's natural that we want to think our children perfect. But at a time like that, it is undeniable that they are human--imperfect--like the rest of us. As I looked her in the eye and explained to her that she lied, and that it is never okay to say something that is not true, it struck me how alike we are. It struck me that God's heart breaks a little every time I disobey Him. It struck me that, in spite of my imperfection--in spite of my wretchedness--He loves me still. I had the opportunity to share with Rachel that God is HOLY, and that disobeying even one time is unacceptable. He cannot bear to look at us when we have even one sin. His perfect justice simply cannot ignore my wrongs. But, because He loves me--because He loves Rachel--He took what should have been my punishment for my sins, and dealt it out to His only Son. And Christ, in all of His Godly perfection, willingly sacrificed Himself so that I CAN be in the presence of a Holy God. Thank you, Jesus! If I can communicate this Truth to my children, I have done my job. I try to remember that God law has one function: to show me that I cannot fulfill it--to show me that I NEED Him. I pray that the rules our family holds, and the discipline we impart, will have that same function.

In the meantime, Rachel's hair is, after waiting almost 3.5 years, finally in a style. The sides and front of her hair have grown long enough to cut it all to that length (seriously...three and a half years of growing!). Jarrad wants her hair to be long, so the goal is for it to all grow out together, now. I'll have to admit that I like the little bob cut. She looks like such a big girl!

Monday, October 5, 2009

first pajama party

My mom had a birthday last week, so my sister-in-law and I loaded up our kids (four, total--Tyler, almost 4 yrs / Rachel, 3.5 / Carly, 10 mos / Emma, 7 months) and took them all to visit MiMi. The big kids got to sleep in the same room for the first time ever (MiMi also slept in the room to make sure there was not too much silliness going on). It seemed to happen all of a sudden, but Tyler and Rachel have really begun to enjoy playing together. Here are just a few of the priceless moments the children experienced together... And, can I just add that I think my nephew is HILARIOUS?? And that he is just like my brother...

Friday, September 25, 2009


Well, it's done. Carly is officially done being my little baby. A little over a week ago, she officially took up walking as her new favorite way to get around. Over the span of about 3 days, she went from insisting on holding someone's hands to walk around (i.e. she was unhappy and very vocal about it if we weren't perpetually helping her walk), to cruising around the entire downstairs by herself (very creatively, I might add) to taking a few steps here and there, to wanting to walk without help (i.e. she brushed us off when we offered her a hand). That's a lot of learning in such a short time! I don't quite know where it is she's wanting so badly to go, but she's going, and I guess that's keeping her happy for now. She is also able to bend over, pick something up, and stand again. And the past couple of days, she's been really into trying to pick up big things (like the Boppy pillow). The video below is from one week ago, on Friday. You can see Eager Big Sister "helping" Carly walk, and then pretending to be a baby herself. Silly girls.

Friday, September 11, 2009

the elder

About three weeks ago, I finally ordered a book that had been suggested (unsolicited, mind you) to me by more than one person (including Rachel's pediatrician): Raising Your Spirited Child. For whatever reason, I resisted. I think I did not want to label Rachel, even if "spirited" is supposed to sound positive. I have been around kids a LOT in my life, and, well, they're all spirited. I had to really humble myself to buy the book. It was like admitting that I don't know how to handle my own child. It was as if to suggest that Rachel needs something extra, something I don't know how to provide. I guess it really has uprooted something I didn't even know I believed: that all children are basically the same, and that it's more about how they are raised that makes them either calm or crazy, pleasant or annoying, polite or attention-seeking. I'm kind of embarrassed to say that's what I thought, but I guess it is.

And so, as she has since her birth, Rachel has been paradigm-shifting. She is spunky. She's creative (and there a correlation?). She's persistent and shrewd. She will negotiate anything, often successfully and before the other party even realizes what has happened. She loves her sister to pieces. She cries when she doesn't get something she wants, and then later tells me she was fake crying. She delights in imitating me, and in pretending to be in charge. She is notorious for changing the subject when she's about to get in trouble for something, or when she's just been disciplined.

And she's funny, and she loves her mommy and her daddy. She's starting to notice more of the interactions between Jarrad and me, and she's picking up on tones in my voice, sighs of frustration, or a furrowed brow, regularly inquiring, "What's wrong, Mommy?" One night, I was washing dishes, and Jarrad came over and quickly grabbed the cloth out of the sink to wipe the table. I pretended to be so shocked and offended, and said, "HEEEEY! What are you doing??" He playfully replied that he'd give it back in a minute, and then he threw it back at me and we had kind of a flirty exchange. Rachel got the biggest kick out of the whole thing, and she asked me about it several times over the following two days, laughing as she recounted how Daddy took my cloth. It's sweet to know that she's for us--that she wants Mommy and Daddy to love each other and get along. Research has shown that a good marriage between a mom and dad is absolutely the best thing for the child, but you don't have to tell a child that; they know. Rachel knows.

I love watching Rachel grow and learn. She's really into "activities," which are worksheets from a little Preschool activity book Poppy gave her. She practices writing letters and doing the exercises with Daddy or me. After much prayerful consideration, we opted not to put her in preschool just yet, if at all. A part of me is sad for that, because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she would love it. But, for now, God was telling us, "No," and I know He has a good reason, even if I never know what the reason is. I trust Him.

I love my big girl so much. I love her little scratchy voice. I love the intonation she uses when she's "teaching" me something, and the way she cocks her head to the side and puts her hands out for emphasis. I love that she throws me a curveball every time I think I have her figured out. I love that she tries so hard to be good, and I hate how I react sometimes when she isn't. I pray for her--that she will gain wisdom and understanding of those things that really matter: faith, hope, and love, and that she will put those things into the only context in which they make sense--a relationship with Jesus Christ. And I pray that the Lord will use me to show her those things in the way I live and respond to those around me.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

the baby

It has occurred to me many times over the last week that I NEED to update my blog. Moments and memories are slipping away, and they will be forgotten if I don't write them down! And so I intend to ramble...

Carly is the delight of my life right now. There is nothing sweeter than a baby, in my opinion, and there is no sweeter baby than my Carly, in my opinion. Of course, I suppose I ought to feel that way about my own, but I really enjoy this age so so much (she's 10 months old already). She's had several nicknames so far: Coughing Carly (because of her constant little Tracheomalacia cough), Machine Gun Carly (because she has a funny little hacking, sputtering laugh she does for attention), and Kitty Cat (because she has the cutest little habit of bumping things/people with her forehead affectionately, like a cat wanting to be petted). I call her Kitty Cat a lot, and she knows I'm talking to her when I do. She laughs easily, and she's starting to get her own ideas and opinions about her surroundings. She's not as interested in sitting still on the potty lately, but she still almost always goes poopy in there, which is fine by me. It's amazing how much easier all of that has been to handle the second time around.

The girl finally figured out how to eat finger foods. She could have done it sooner, had she only put the food in her mouth instead of examining it and then throwing it on the floor. Once she got it, though, she's been quite entertained by it. One saltine occupies her, while the rest of us have a pleasant dinner together, which is a real luxury that I'm sure won't last long.

She sprint-crawls rather effectively, and she has taken a few isolated steps, but hasn't truly started walking yet. She loves nothing more than to walk assisted, however, which is hard on Mommy's back, but worth it to see that twinkle in her clear blue eyes. I also finally let her cry all night one night about three weeks ago, and she's been sleeping through the night ever since. It's nice to get a full night of rest, but I kind of miss those midnight snuggles. I'll never really get those back, I guess, but that's just what happens when the baby grows up. It is so funny--the sense of relief I feel when she goes to sleep for a nap or at night, but how truly happy I am to see her when she wakes up. And she's happy, too. She jumps up and down in her crib and grins and giggles behind her paci.

All told, I'd do anything for this baby--absolutely anything. She is so easy to love. And I can definitely see how it happens that the older child gets blamed for everything while the baby is, well, babied. Whenever Carly cries or seems discontent, I find myself looking to Rachel first- "What did you do?" In my defense, I'm right about half the time. Other times, the poor big sister is on the other side of the room minding her own business, and Carly is fussing just to hear the sound of her own voice.

I think I will be sad one day, when I grow too old to have a baby around. I'm not there yet--I've always wanted a house full. But it will happen. And then I will pray for grandbabies.

Friday, August 7, 2009

she's a funny one

Here are some random fun things my big girl has said this week...

  • After Rachel begged Jarrad for "hugs & kisses," which he granted, he closed the door behind him--off to work. She looked at me and said, "He will give you hugs & kisses tonight, Mommy. Don't be fuh-stuh-wated."
  • Mommy: "We can't go by the Farmers Market, because they don't take credit cards." Rachel: "What? Shin guards?"
  • Pointing to her shoulders, she matter-of-factly declares: "My arms are stuck to my side. So I can reach stuff. That's just how they hafta be."

I wish I could capture her animation in written form. Her mannerisms are so much like her daddy's, but she's a bit dramatic in her day-to-day--more like her mommy. She's so very sure of herself, and loves to "teach" me things. After spending a week with my mom, who taught Rachel to look for the 'in-step' of her shoe and that of her foot to decide which shoe belongs on which foot, Rachel spent several days teaching me the same lesson. Every time she picked up a shoe, she pointed out the 'in-step,' saying, "See, Mommy? See the in-step? You hafta look for the in-step," each time with a lot of emphasis on 'in-step'--as if to show off her new, grown-up vocabulary.

As I'm typing this, Rachel is hopping up and down on one foot and saying, "Look, Mommy--I can stand on one foot easily. See?"

We have also been reading a lot in her Big Picture Story Bible, which she is understanding and enjoying much more now. She asks great questions about the stories and about God and Jesus and heaven. I love to see her trying to figure out these mysteries that even the wisest cannot grasp, and I get emotional telling her about the great sacrifice that Jesus made on our behalf, just because He loves us so much. And it's humbling to tell her that He would have done it still, even if she had been the only person in the world, just because He loves HER so much. What a mighty God we serve.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

the back and forth

The girls and I just got home from spending the week at my parents' house. Carly had a little fever for part of the week, which made it okay to just kind of sit back and do nothing. It was nice. MiMi and Poppy entertained the girls and provided our meals, and I got to take a few naps and even eat out a few times with the family.

This week also served as good affirmation for me. Both of my parents are elementary school educators, and they, consequently have a lot of experience with children, so getting their [albeit prejudiced] opinion on mine is interesting. Rachel, in my [somewhat experienced and definitely prejudiced] opinion, is particularly intense. I mean, I know all 3-year-olds are intense. They are in a stage where they want so badly to be independent, but, well, they're just too short most of the time. They have this conflict within them that they don't need us quite as much as they WANT us, and the wanting sends them spiraling back to babyhood in a matter of seconds.

Rachel is no different. But when it seems like some kids take a break every now and then, Rachel stays busy. She never stops. She never quits. She never relents. She never HUSHES. The child talks just to fill what could possibly be silence, which she seems to loathe. Here's an example:

  • In the car, passing a pasture with cows.
  • Rachel: I see cows and goats, Mommy. Do you see cows and goats, Mommy?
  • Mommy: I see cows, but I don't see goats.
  • Rachel: ...they're in the barn, Mommy?
  • Mommy: Well, no--they aren't in the barn.
  • Rachel: They're in the yard?
  • Mommy: Yes, they are in the yard.
  • Rachel: The yard IS the barn?
  • Mommy: No, honey, they are not the same.
  • ~3 minutes later, passing a vendor of storage buildings, where there are barn-like structures on display
  • Rachel: I see barns, Mommy!! Do you see the barns?
  • Mommy: Yes, I DO see those barns!
  • Rachel: Cows go in those barns?
  • Mommy: Well, not those barns. Those aren't really barns; they are storage buildings that look like barns.
  • Rachel: People go in those barns?
  • Mommy: Yes, people can go in those barns.
  • Rachel: So they won't bite?
  • Mommy (half listening): What? So they won't bite?
  • Rachel: Yeah...
  • Mommy: Well, people don't usually bite...
  • Rachel: I bite sometimes.
  • Mommy: You do? When do you bite?
  • Rachel: When I'm hungry.
  • Mommy: Oh, well, sure, you bite food?
  • Rachel: Sometimes. Sometimes I bite people. When I bite people, it means that I'm hungry.
  • Mommy: No, if you bite people it means that you're not very nice.

PHEW! If I could recall half the conversations we have, I would be able to recount why some days I feel so CRAZY. I try to remind myself that she is trying to learn about the world and about life, and learning is good, right? I want to encourage her to learn, right? I think I do...some days I do. My parents got a good taste of a week with Rachel, and they concurred--she's intense and exhausting!

What's even more interesting, to me, is that she doesn't seem to be that way when she is out of her comfort zone (i.e. away from home and/or family). At church, they tell us she kind of quietly observes the rest of the kids interacting. She does what?? Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

While my Rachel wears me out, I do SO love her spunky little personality. She always has an idea, and she always wants me in on it. She thrives when I praise her dramatically for little successes during the day, and she is learning to respond well to stern intervention when she is being disrespectful or unruly. She is a good girl, and a great helper. She challenges me daily, which is great for keeping me attentive and on my toes. If I can stay one step ahead of her, I am confident that all these things will be an asset to her in the future. I cannot WAIT to see what the Lord has in store for my firstborn.

Friday, July 10, 2009

eat mor chikin

I had to post these pictures of my cuties...don't they look like they love each other so very much? Today was Cow Appreciation Day at Chick-fil-A. I'm pretty proud of the costumes I whipped out with just a couple of hours to work with (while keeping the newly-mobile Carly at bay). Rachel's outfit is an adult t-shirt. I cut off the sleeves, cinched up the shoulders a bit (so it she didn't have to keep tugging on them to keep it on), added the spots, and put elastic around the bottom. Carly's was an old onesie, and I found her oh-so-perfect hat at a thrift store yesterday. I had to remove a little red flower from the front, and, of course, add the ears...

Monday, June 29, 2009

she won't forget this one, part deux

We had Rachel's family birthday party on Sunday, and it was soooo fun to have everyone around to celebrate! Our girls have so many people who love them so much, and we feel so blessed to have them all so close by. Rachel got [too many] gifts, and she was thrilled to be the center of attention. I would like to point out that I made her cake (thank-you-very-much), since her only request was that it be purple (she's a little fixated on the color purple right now). I used my mom's chocolate pound cake recipe (yum) and made real buttercream icing with purple tint. I don't think it was really the most beautiful cake (it ain't my thing), but Rachel LOVED it, and it was super-yummy. The yummyness, well...I just think that's all a cake needs.

from ramblings to rumblings

God has been stirring my heart lately with thoughts that have blown away a lot of the pettiness of which I am oft guilty. When I consider these things He's taught me, I look back in shame at the condition of my heart towards some people in my past. I have spent time lamenting, and have even sought forgiveness from one friend. Wanna hear it? it goes...

I have no right to feel wronged when people sin. I have the ability to wrong others, but they have no ability to wrong me.


God makes the rules of how I am to treat others. He does not allow for me to have expectations on others about how they should treat me, however. Therefore, when another person behaves in such a way that is a)sinful and that it b)inconveniences me or causes me discomfort in some way, I am required to disregard my own comfort/convenience and choose to trust that the Lord will supply my needs (physical, emotional, or otherwise), and I am required to concern myself only with the reconciliation of the other person to God the Father by first praying for that person, and then by allowing myself to be used by the Holy Spirit as He sees fit to draw that person to Himself through my actions or words (or not through me at all).

So, practically, if my sweet husband, Jarrad, were to leave us tomorrow (he wouldn't dare, mind you), I would have no right to feel wronged. Sad, of course, but not sinned against. Only the Rulemaker can be offended when the rules are broken. From my perspective, Jarrad's [hypothetical] sin would be against God alone, not against me. And so, I would be required to continue to love him the way the Lord has called me to love all people and in light of the covenant I made with God to love Jarrad as my husband until death separates us (presumably without regard to whether he chooses to fulfill the covenant he made with God to love me as his wife), and to concern myself only with his reconciliation to the Father, which should also [conveniently] result in his reconciliation with me.

But the Bible does speak of people sinning against people, not just against God. But isn't that a call to me? In other words, from this reasoning, I can sin against others, but they cannot sin against me; I am required to reconcile the wrongs I have committed to others, but I must not require reconciliation from others for the wrongs they have committed (lest I make myself equal with God) in order to love them in obedience to God's command.

Phew! Okay, I've been sitting on this for a few weeks. I'm not wholly convinced that my reasoning is sound. I do know that the Bible says we should forgive others--and what is forgiveness if there is no sin? But I think it is somewhat semantics, and it has really, truly helped me to think in these terms: that I cannot ever consider myself sinned against, because I am not Holy enough to be sinned against. With this thinking, I have been able to offer a LOT more grace to others (specifically my husband, who is a wonderful-while-fallible man), because it forces me to disregard ME. What freedom!!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

she won't forget this one

Rachel turned three today. Three years old. Woah. I have a real-life little girl. My firstborn is not a baby. Three years ago, she was two hours old, and we had NO idea how much our lives would change, or how much we would wish we had done this sooner. What a fun adventure we have started!

Today, I let Rachel have her choice for all three meals. She chose...PB&J sandwich for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She is definitely her daddy's girl, because he often chooses the same. Here she is blowing out her candles for the day! Her family party will be on Sunday, so there will be real birthday pictures then. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RACHEL!

Monday, June 15, 2009

it's today

Today is our seventh anniversary. Seven years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into. We knew each other so well, but we did not anticipate how much we would change over the years. We have fallen in and out of love several times over, but we have remained committed and we continually choose to love one another.

Last week, a friend/mentor of Jarrad's came to town for a conference. He stopped by for a visit, and we related to him the journey the Lord has been guiding us through over the past few months. He is on staff with FamilyLife, and is a champion of life-long marriages full of God's joy. He decided to use our story in his June newsletter. Reading it from another's perspective had kind of a sting about it, but reflecting again on the experience only serves as a reminder of the grace that has been given to us by the Almighty God. Praise Him!

Here is his story:

Idols of the Heart

by John

Last week I traveled [out of town] conference. While there I visited with Jarrad and Anna. I met Jarrad in 2000 while on a mission project in Santa Cruz, California. He was a college student that blew a bunch of my paradigms: he was a skater, loved to work out, was an extremely nice person, and loved Jesus. I didn’t have a category for those things combined in one person.

He and Anna married shortly after that summer and seemed to be off to a great start. Fast forward to November 2008 and the birth of their second child. Jarrad was giving leadership to the youth ministry at their church, along with a few other responsibilities. He was out 3 to 5 nights a week. Anna was growing jealous and bitter, “Why do I have to stay home with the kids while you do ministry?” Ironically, she had been urging him for years to get more involved in the church and lead their family spiritually. Now she didn’t know what to do with this polarity of emotions and Jarrad was growing frustrated with the mixed signals. She did not respect him, and he could feel it. All he felt was shame every time he walked in the door. And she even admits that she knew he “was a good man.” Yet her mind could not force her heart to give her husband respect. The home was growing cold, ice cold.

And then Anna started to pray. For the first time in her life she really started to pray for things in her life, including her husband. She asked him to consider giving up just one thing at church. He prayed about it, then prayed some more, and did not feel it was time to drop anything. She received his answer and prayed, then prayed some more. Her first response was frustration, but then acceptance. She realized that if God was leading her husband, and if he was walking by the Spirit (which he was), she needed to trust God’s direction in their life. The resentment began to subside.

But the big breakthrough came when she remembered the importance of her marriage vows in relation to Ephesians 5.33 “… let the wife see that she respects her husband.” She says “I wish, I wish somebody would have told me more about this, or I would have listened better when we were engaged.” Her vow made on the altar was not to Jarrad, but to God. Her responsibility was to respect her husband unconditionally, regardless of Jarrad’s response.

Her face lit up retelling this epiphany, “I feel like I have a testimony now, something that I can’t wait to share with other women and tell them how Jesus wants to direct their marriage and free them of all anger, bitterness and jealousy.”

One of the conference speakers last weekend said, “We are all hard-wired to worship. You will worship something. If it is not God, it will be something else, and that will be your idol.” Anna changed from worshiping the idols of security and comfort to worshiping God. She no longer saw her husband as her main provider, but God as her provider through her husband and others.

Now, this brief article is not intended to vilify Anna for her misplaced worship. It is meant to rejoice in the amazing restoration God did in a young marriage! It is also meant to provide an opportunity to reflect on our own misplaced worship. The problem is, we all have blind spots, and our idols are often hiding there.

During his talk last week (which I highly recommend), Mark Driscoll gave the following tips for unveiling your

  • Start by recognizing that idols tend to be good
  • Look for the things you treasure most (Matt 6.21).
  • What is that person/experience that you are most fearful of losing?
  • If your house was on fire and you were running out, what would you take with you?
  • You can also examine the things for which you make sacrifices.
  • Where does your time and money go?

Not everything that you hold as important is an idol, but there is a chance it may be. If your identity and significance is so wrapped up in a person or item that you can not imagine being satisfied and joyful without it, then it probably is an idol.

What do you do when an idol is discovered? Repent. Ask God to forgive you for breaking the first commandment and for the strength to turn your heart back to him. Pray that your deepest desire would be to know and love Jesus and to cherish him above all else.

Friday, June 12, 2009

crawling to a crawl

I've decided that I really love having two much more than just having one. They entertain each other, and it's music to my ears when Rachel asks, "When's Carly gonna wake up?" as her sister is napping. For now, it seems almost easier to have two. But my world is rapidly changing. Check out what Carly figured out a few days ago--and know that she is becoming more and more proficient every day. EEK! (Note: this is MY first movie attempt. Jarrad is usually the movie-maker, but I thought I'd give it a whirl...)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

the littler one

Carly is doing so much better. I have been giving her medication for acid reflux, which has seemed to clear up her cough and congestion. I am thankful, although I cringe every time I give her the meds. At least she hopefully won't get any more ear infections. She is just as happy and healthy as can be! She has yet to figure out how to accomplish forward motion, which causes her some frustration, but otherwise, she is easy to smile and laugh. She has quickly out-grown the snuggly phase, which I miss, but it is fun to watch her little personality come out.

And she uses the potty. I have only had to change two or three poopy diapers in the last three weeks or so, and those have been when I let her play in her crib after waking from a nap or in the morning. I don't have to verbally cue her anymore (although I do usually say, "Do you need to go peepee?") because she recognizes the potty and knows what to do. I remember doing a lot of sitting and waiting with Rachel when I started her (which was at this same age), but Carly usually goes pretty quickly if she needs to go. Now that it's hot weather, I am considering letting her roam around diaperless some, just to see what happens. I imagine it would end in a few messes, but I would sure be more attentive to get her to the potty when I think she needs to go!

Carly turns 7 months old on Thursday, and I can hardly remember what life was like before she was around. She definitely makes me want a houseful and to never be without a baby, but I guess we'll wait to see what the Lord has in store for us!

Here are some pictures of Carly with her big sister. Some people are surprised that I like to dress my girls in matching clothes. It may not seem like me, but I do think it's cute! Maybe it's because I never had a sister? Who knows, but I'll keep doing it as long as they'll let me, and as long as the clothes they are given work out to match sometimes (we are blessed with lots of hand-me-downs from friends).