Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Big Camp out

 Receiving instructions about provisions hunting from Papa.
 Practicing their fighting moves.....just in case a bear comes
 Relaxing at camp
Our boys have been asking Jason to have a "camp out" with them for months.  Finally, we decided that tonight was the night. 

We settled in to the living room before a cozy fire to read our nightly advent story, Jotham's Journey....a story, I might add, which is near and dear to the heart of any boy.   Sword fights, battles and brawls mix with jackals and lions.  All three of my boys are riveted as we listen to the journey of the young shepherd boy on the way to find his lost family. By the end of the reading, the boys are more than prepared to face any lion or bear they might encounter in the night. 

Following the story, the camp out preparations began. I have to smile at the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness shown by my weary husband.  As the boys excitedly climbed into their pjs with directions to collect and prepare their weapons, Jason filled bags with provisions; animal cookies (of which they normally each get one cookie every night) and chocolates.  He then hid them so the boys would be able to "hunt" for their camp out provisions.  The boys donned their Larry Boy hats, explained by Caleb in that if anyone were to come upon them in the night, they would know they were superheros.  Swords and light sabers were in hand.  Nerf guns, ammunition, a hammer and a flashlight were brought into the camp with the provisions stored under the camp so that even if the bears could smell them, they would never find them.  Blankets were hung from the top bunk to enclose the camp.  The boys were, as Jason described them, "bright eyed and bushy tailed".....

I was told that Jason and the boys would also be protecting Anna Ruth and me.  Caleb invited me to join the camp, and even offered to go get my Christmas cards downstairs so I could write them in the camp.  I declined, due to my need to keep the camp fire burning in the woodstove.  All agreed this was a worthy task.  However......I will admit to sneaking up the stairs to growl and a few trips outside to throw stones and soccer balls at the house until I saw the flashlight pop on upstairs.  I would then race back inside and hide on the stairs to hear the ensuing conversations.  They were pretty certain I was a bear, though Papa mentioned it might be the "Abominable Snow Mama"! 

Sometimes, I think the most fun we can have with our children is when we completely let loose and remember what it was like to be a's not that far off really.  I hope we can build as many of these "camp out" experiences in their little hearts as possible to create memories that will far outlive the events themselves and speak to their hearts of true love and family bonds when the pulls of the outside world become a lure to capture their attentions.  Because, no one is truly too old for a little "camp out" now and then!!

And now, I've got to sign off for the night.  I need to make my last rounds and stoke the fire before the changing of the guard.  :-)

Friday, November 26, 2010

There's something about home...

The longer I've been away from my childhood home, the more reminiscent I become each time I return... especially around the holiday season. Arriving transcends the physical into the the emotional arena of settling into a place where I belong......a place for which there is reserved a special spot in my heart. And, when I return home, that spot is filled.

Minutes after arriving yesterday, I was headed out alone for a jog in the cold, crisp late-Fall air. The thin layer of ice crusted snow crunched beneath my feet on the trail, and I could smell the heady scent of cedar and pine from the many branches scattered about. Birds chirped, woodsmoke filled the air,and dusk began to settle in on the early evening. It appeared that every home I passed had a warm glow within, and each car that passed on the country road was headed to their weekend's resting spot. The next day was Thanksgiving.....a time to go home.....a time to give thanks......and a time to anticipate the joyful Christmas season ahead.

As I walked back into my parents' house, I could smell the preparation of the delicious meal. My Aunt and Mom were busily working in the kitchen, the boys giggling and playing on the floor with Grandpa B, Mema crocheting in a chair by the fire, and Jason relaxing in the living room holding Anna Ruth.

In a few days, we'll be headed back to our own home in Battle Ground, where we'll spend the next month as a family enjoying many Christmas preparations and festivities in our own cozy home. That will be the childhood home of my children's memories. Whether or not that is the last home they will remember remains to be seen, but it is home for now.

Looking up the definition of home, you find many words to describe the true meaning of the word: a dwelling place or retreat....a place of residence or refuge....a place where things are most native or most sports, a destination or goal.

In the Bible, God speaks of Heaven as being our true home. Perhaps He created homes on earth so that we might understand the call home. I weep for those who do not have a warm spot in their hearts for home. I would speculate that the spot is indeed there, but the injury of the past has caused them to build a wall to block its protect their hearts.

My prayer is that my own home can be that cozy place that evokes a calling of our eternal home for all who enter my doors...or even peer at my windows from afar! May they see a bright, shining light that welcomes them in. May they smell woodsmoke in the air, hear the snow crunch under their feet, and absorb the scent of cedar and pine into their very souls. May they anticipate a warm meal to fill their bellies and the spot in their hearts created for home.

Saturday, October 30, 2010


You turned 3 years old this past Monday, October 25, 2010.  How can this even be?  I am beginning to understand what it means when older people say things such as "Where have the years gone?" or "Cherish this time.  It won't last."  When we relive memories, they come to our mind as if in a fluid form, where the passage of time is of no relevance.  I can almost look to my right or left and see myself holding you as a tiny newborn.  Pictures flood my mind.  The mind is a powerful thing. 

We went over to visit Grandma Marion on Monday, the very place we were when I went into early labor with you 3 years ago.  We had gone to Grandma's friend Jan's home to pick some pumpkins.  While there, I started having cramping and bleeding.  Not believing I could be in labor, we went back to Grandma Marion's house, and I laid on the couch.  Sure enough, contractions started coming every 2.5 minutes, and the hospital told me to come in.  The next morning, you were born, 5 weeks early and spent the next week in the NICU.  You did so well there, and once you came raced all of the charts right back up to the very top.  That sort of sums up how you are too!  You don't want to be left behind, and you are hearty and strong in everything you do.  Now that we know you, your birth story fits you so very well! 

I wish I could somehow capture this past year.....bottle it up so that I won't ever lose it.  I don't want it to go away, my son.  It's been challenging at times, to be sure.  You were a two year old, after all!  However, this past year has been full of so much joy seeing you develop and learn.  It has been full of innocence and purity....a coming of self and developing a fierce independence that coexists just as strongly with a desire to do and say everything your big brother Caleb does.  You see, that's the thing about life and the passage of time.  I struggle so often with being able to let go of today and fully embrace what tomorrow may bring.  I can look back and see all of the joy that I would have missed, and inevitably some of the pain, had I stayed in the "spot" I was afraid to leave. But, time doesn't give us that choice. It's as if we are a passenger on the train of time.  Looking out the window, taking stops along the way, but always going forward - never returning to any particular spot. 

Well, in my attempts to capture a few of the joys, I'm going to write a few down.  Yes, I will likely forget some incredible moments.  365 days is hard to remember on a play-by-play.  Had I not jotted some of these down, I would not have remembered them...As I read over the list, memories flood my mind that would have remained hidden.  But here is some of what I have loved, and am thankful to have captured:

I love.....
....How you now speak in complete sentences, even if the words aren't all quite right.  My recent favorite of your purple dinosaur card from Auntie Jenifer, "I luv dis fing."  (I love this thing).  Another common phrase
is "I no like adacados or tuh-matoes!"
Earlier in the year, you only had few word sentences such as
 - "Mama crying.  Bonk my head. KB knock over me grass.  Crying." 
 - Or, with a scowl and a pout, "I'm fussy...";
 - "Go poddy sooo bat";
 - Or, with head cocked to the side and inquisitive look on your scrunched up face "Yours hat?
    Yours coat? Mys car?";
 - Or, with your chin tucked down and a knowing look, "Race"
 - Or, laughing "Siwy Goose Goose Goose!"
 - Or how you would say "First..." all of the time.
 - Or "Wurz it?" when you were looking for something
 - Or, shaking head from side to side..."No like it my brefest"
 - Or, "Noder one?" (another one?)
 - Or, "Oh right?" (alright?)
 - Or, "Nakins" (napkins)

When you began to sing, you would sing the same line over and over again throughout the entire song. "Fossy the Soman", "Blessed Assurance", and "Jesus Loves Me" being some that come to mind.  (January was the first time you sang alone, by yourself in the car on Grace Avenue on our way to Starbucks.  You sang "Jesus loves me" followed by "Jingle Bells....Jingle Bells".  Papa and I both looked at each other with that look - mist in our eyes accompanied by a lump in our throat and joy in our heart.  It is the simultaneous joy and sorrow of recognizing a first....which is also a last.

You would hold out your cheek with a smile and say "Kiss cheek?"...then want to kiss ours with your plump, wet lips.  You still like to give lots of kisses....on both cheeks, on both eyelids, on my forehead, my chin, my nose, and yes - my teeth! 

I love... your cheeks are still puffy and round, most often rosy.  They beg me to kiss them. your lips are pouty and full, always ready to kiss my cheeks! your eyelashes are miles and miles long, and when you close your eyes in protest to something,
   or just in being silly the slight tilt of each eye makes the lashes laying on your cheeks the sweetest sight. you scrunch your face and tuck your chin and give a little shines through. You can't hide it! you call Caleb "Kay lub"  now, but only at the beginning of the year it was "KB" (what he used to
   call  himself when he was first talking and our nickname for him now) you call Anna Ruth "Anna Roof", when you are not calling her "Missy"....the most common name
   you call her. you call oil "oye oye" you replace all "th" sounds with an "f"....."Truf", "Fanks", "Fank You", "Wif" you say "Fanks" with such graciousness and expression you call Potty Talk "Toddy Pok" you say "Will you cuddle wif me?" with your head cocked to the side and your brows furrowed
   in what we call your "concerned brow". Oh - I love you Emet! you and Caleb must have the same things...if Caleb has Tiny Tiger, then you need Tiny Puppy.   
   He has Toto, you have Toto. He has Sa-sa-sa, You have Sa-sa-sa.  He has "Lil Mucky"
   (Little Monkey),  you have "Lil Mucky". He has Bob, you have Bob. He has Larry, you have Larry.
   I believe Caleb started this, but you latched on immediately, and you both hold your "friends" near
   and dear to your heart.   A frequent phrase is "Here's Kayub's Toto. Where's my Toto?"  You have
   a Harry and Caleb has a Straton that I bought for you in England when I was pregnant with Caleb. 
   You hardly can remember that you each don't have one of those also. when you are REALLY excited, you laugh and roar almost as one.  The time I'm thinking of is riding
   the cow train at the Sauvie Island Pumpkin Patch.  You got so excited, you stood up and laughed and
   roared.  The guy driving the tractor turned around and laughed over the noise.  I would have given anything
   to record it! when you get excited about something, your eyes get so big they practically pop out of your head! you say CHEESE (it sort of sounds like CHAYSE) for pictures. after Uncle Norman and Aunt Maggie visited from Mississippi, you started to say "payants"
   instead of pants all summer long, you would bring me boquets of dandilions, with the shortest stems one
   could imagine! when we hear siren's while driving or in the house, you're the first to say, "Mama!! We need to pray!" when you pray, you say things like, "Dear God, please help for Amily" (Dear God, please help Emily) the past, present, and the future get mixed up, "I wish I could have a shirt like that when I was a Papa" you tuck your chin down, furrow your brows and poke out your lower lip, with a twinkle in your eyes

I love... you slept in Caleb's big-boy bed to try moving out of your crib before the big move to bunkbeds
    this summer! (And you are doing so very well in your new big-boy bunk bed!)

I love... you take on what your brother and the family does.  Often, you are the instigator now to say
   "Guard the house baby girl Greta and baby boy Samson" when we drive out of the driveway.

I love... you resolutely repeat nearly everything Caleb asks for or says as if it is your very own desire,
   thought, and oppinion.  Perhaps it is.  Or, perhaps you just look up to your big brother and think what
   he wants must be what is best, and you don't want anything less for yourself!

I love...
...that you prayed your first prayer this year, on your own.....and now take turns with the rest of us praying
   at meals and before bed.

I love.. when you have the Ordway Family Prayer Council with Papa each night how you have a list a
    mile long for people you want to pray for. 

I love... when you went potty in the toilet for the first time this year (on January 13th!) you announced,
   "I'm stinky!"

I love... you are so passionate in your cries and in your love.  You simply are who you are, and I love you
   that way!

I love.. you love to spend time with me.  How..when I suggest it, you enthusiastically say "Sure!"

I love... you most often share what you have with a willing "Sure!" (when something isn't ripped from
   your hands by your big brother)

I love... on your birthday, you were almost shy about all of the attention we were lavishing on you, and
   your wants and desires were simple: (Life Cereal for breakfast and lunch.  Pizza for dinner, and Life Cereal
   for dessert! :-) )

Words cannot define you, little one. The closest word I can come up with to capture your spirit is your name itself. Emet, the Hebrew word Truth. You are true to yourself, true to your family, true to the moment and how you feel just then.

May the LORD bless you and keep you, Emet.  May He make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you.  May the LORD show you His favor and give you His peace, my son.  We love you so much. 

Your Mama 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Teaching Papa How to Read...

Tonight I was sitting with Jason in the living room explaining the rules for Spanish pronunciations.  Using English as an example, I was reminding Jason of how vowels followed by a single consonant and then a vowel make a hard, or long sound.....and if there are two consonants following, it makes a soft, or short sound. 

As I sounded out a couple of examples, Caleb purposefully came into the room.  "Papa" he said.  "If I get out my computer (a toy computer with alphabet and number games), I can show you a screen where it will teach you how to make the letter sounds.  Would you like me to get it for you?" :-)

Caleb's Prayer

Our time has been very full lately.  Filled with good things?  Absolutely. But, full nonetheless.  Jason commented tonight that it seems like the only times he and I get to visit at all are Friday nights, and even then we are often "doing something" together. 

So, tonight I roared into the driveway, honked the horn to the tune of "shave-and-a-haircut-two-bits", Jason came up from the yard and took the kids out of the car...and I took off again.  When I returned home, Jason and the kids were just finishing dinner, so Jason started their baths and I cleaned up the kitchen.  After nursing Anna Ruth I prepared to go to the gym, Jason put Anna Ruth down for the night and prepared to have some time with the boys watching a movie.  It struck me as I was about to rush off that we hadn't done any sort of night time routine with her at all.....just laid her in her crib and said goodnight.  With Caleb, every night was an elaborate routine....and with the boys, it still is. Perhaps it will start later with her as she fits into the nightly Ordway routine.  However, I felt a moment of panic when Jason said he hadn't prayed with her.  Hearing Caleb upstairs, I called up...."Caleb? Will you pray with your sister?"  "Me?" he asked.  "Yes, Caleb.  She needs someone to pray with her."  "Sure" he returned and went into her room.  Sensing this might be a moment to remember, I snuck up the stairs with my camera to record their time together.  Here was Caleb's prayer:

"Dear God,

Thank you for Sissy. 
Thank you for her wonderful big brothers, me and Emet.
Thank you for our wonderful world that you made.
Thank you for everything you have done for us.
Thank you for everything that we have done for you.
Thank you for the flowers. 
Thank you that you made my mom and my dad and my brother and my sister.

In Jesus name,


Needless to say, my heart was full.  Above all, Caleb is thankful.  It is the first thing that pours from his heart when alone with God.  I am so very glad I took time out of my "busy schedule" to see God's hand in the life of my little children.  I could have missed that moment.  I was already running behind.  Behind what?  I'm not sure...perhaps just the clock.  As I type this it is after midnight, and I just finished folding the laundry and need to take a shower.  I don't really have time for this blog either, but here I sit....gently being reminded yet again of the rapid passage of time, of the fleeting moments I will have with my precious babies at each stage they pass through under my wings and in my care.  Thank you, God, for Caleb's prayer, a little reminder of my purpose right now...........and of all the many things I have to be thankful for. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Little did I know....

14 years ago tonight, Jason and I were headed out on our first date. 

Little did I much this man would come to mean to the man I once thought a rather simple country boy would come to be the wisest, most intelligent and kindest man I have ever known.....a man of integrity by all measures.

Little did I know how deep and wide and far-reaching would be his love and faithfulness towards me, his family, and others. 

Little did I understand how his obedience to God was through his service to me, and how much he would carry me with him....that through him God would allow me to see the significance of the words in Ephesians "..may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is the love of Christ."

Little did I know how very blessed I would be to even know this man, much less that one day I would call him my husband, father to my children, and the best friend I could ever know.

Thank you, my husband, lover, and friend.  You are my hearts desire, and I have found you, the one whom my soul loves. 

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." Ephesians 5:25 - 31

Thursday, September 16, 2010

quote of the day

I walked outside to get something out of the car to the sound of little yellow dumptrucks racing on the gravel driveway. 

"Mama....I need to tell you something." 
"Yes, Caleb?"
"Well, we're probably gonna be skippin' our naps today, because we're playing ouside and we love to play."

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Hunt

Life has been busy lately - really busy.  Tonight, for the first time in a long while, Jason was home by around 6:30 and no one had plans to go anywhere.  Shortly after dinner, Caleb announced, "Maybe we can all go outside as a family!"  Everyone agreed that was a good idea, so as the dusk began to overtake the day.....we headed outside.  Anna Ruth was contentedly snuggled into the Ergo on Papa's back. "What are we going to do?" we asked Caleb.  "We're going to hunt!" he proclaimed.  Caleb and Emet handed out weapons.  Our arsenal included 2 Nerf swords, 1 short red plastic stick, and a wooden ping-pong ball gun. 

We set out with Caleb in the lead.  Around the outbuildings, past the garden, down to the woodpile and behind the shed, across the creek, to the far corners of the property, along the blackberry bushes, alongside the creek, up over the hills and through the long grass......we trudged on and on.  Often stopping for a "Shhh....I hear something!"  Our instructions from Caleb were clear, "If you see something, kill it." When Papa asked "What if it's a good thing we see?"  Caleb clarified, "If you see something and it's bad, kill it."  Well, we never had to use the weapons.  Somehow, we made it through the dark night unscathed. 

When we returned, Caleb and Emet wanted to play games. After some fencing matches, He and Emet agreed we should race back and forth from the cedar tree, and so we did.  A few tears were involved as the winner was contested, but in the end everyone had a chance to win at least once. 

We headed inside for family story time, then upstairs for night time routines, where Caleb asked if I could be his helper tonight.  Anna Ruth went to bed, but we and the boys snuggled on the bottom bunk for a while, all the while Caleb asked questions such as "Do angels have bones?" and..."Is Satan a kid?" and..."How much does he weigh, do you know?".....and "Where do they hide bodies once our spirit goes to heaven?" :-)

As I consider my life, the things that keep me "busy" are wholly unmemorable.....processing the laundry, cleaning the kitchen, making meals, picking up, racing around on this errand and that, yet they consume most of my time.  I can count on one hand the number of times I have recently made the time just to stop and make memories with my children.  Time is passing so quickly.  Given a typical life progression, of which one should never take for granted, over a quarter of our time with Caleb at home is gone....and for at least another quarter, he probably won't want to spend the time with us he does now.  So, the days of begging for our time and attention, of wanting to play family games and cuddle at night asking endless questions are fleeting. 

Jason commented tonight, "It's funny how very little it takes to make their day shine.  They'll probably always remember this."  I hope they do, and I hope I can remember how very little time it takes to make memories that will last a lifetime. tonight and The Hunt.....

Friday, September 10, 2010

I love you snowpants

What led me to blog on this particular night, I'm not sure.  This event happened most of a year ago, but it's one that's been on my heart many, many times since.  There are just those moments you do not want to forget....

We had gone up into the Oregon mountains to Diamond Lake, not too far from Crater Lake. We stayed in a little cabin with some friends for the weekend for what they call "Snow Camp".  This particular year, however, there wasn't much snow at all.  In fact, the biggest amount of snow was that which had been piled up from clearing the roadways just outside our cabin.  The dads spent most of the days outside with the children playing, the moms inside with the babies drying dripping wet snowclothes as quickly as possible in front of the woodstove.  However, the children didn't seem to mind wearing their wet snowclothes and sludging through the rain so long as sledding, shoveling, and snowballs were involved.

All packed up and leaving the mountain resort, I must say that Jason and I were a bit tired and ready to head back to our warm, dry home.  As we were driving out the road, I said out loud "Bye bye snow camp.  See you next time."  Silence followed for a minute or two, then, in what may be the single moment Jason and I remember from all of Emet's childhood, Emet cried out "Bye bye snow pants, I love you!" Then, "Bahahaha" he burts out in tears in his very first wail of expressed sadness.  Jason and I looked at each other and nearly cried too.  It was the sweetest thing we'd ever heard.

Here we are seven months later.  Emet has grown in leaps and bounds, both physically, mentally, and verbally.  Next year, he will be in a whole different place and have a whole different experience.  It reminds me that time passes so very quickly.  That stage for Emet has passed, and thus, it has passed for me too.  I miss it.  He is still only two years old, so a part of what we saw then is still with us.....but not for long.  Even as I welcome the beauty of what may be ahead for my children, I cling to what was what is now.  That's human nature, I guess.  We can't just seem to trust and grow. We're always afraid that what we have clenched in our fist at this moment is better than what could be to come.  In a sense, it's the opposite problem of seeing the glass half empty.

So....from my end...."Bye Bye Snow pants. I love you.  And, I'll miss you too.  But, you'll always be in my heart." 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Date Night: Keep the Fire Burning

Ah date night. I love the “Ahhhhh” feeling afterwards. The feeling that reminds you that before a houseful of cherished blessings, there were two. Two who met and fell in love because they liked what they saw in the other person. Because there was chemistry. Because they saw potential of what their lives together could be. Their dreams were similar….their hopes….their values. They talked for hours on end, the sea of subjects seemingly never ending.

The funny thing is about obtaining a dream sometimes though, is that we forget to appreciate it. The realization of the dream kind of sneaks up on us, and before we know it – we’re in it...yet still looking around for something just beyond the horizon.

It struck me recently that just like a fire takes effort to build and maintain, so do relationships. They’re very much the same, actually. You start with a kindling, paper, and a match……slowly adding larger pieces of wood until eventually you have a roaring fire. It’s easy to stop here, sit back and relax…….or put a check in the box “fire built” and consider it done, moving on to the next thing grabbing your immediate attention. (Read here: raising 3 small children, remodeling a house, working long hours, being involved in the lives of others, and maintaining even the basics with the aforementioned in the mix). You look away from that roaring fire and get absorbed in other things, just counting on that warmth to continue….and slowly but surely the flames begin to die down. You don't noticed it at first, but soon you feel cold. When you look over at your fire, all you see is a smoldering pile. 
Have you ever sat across the table from that someone you once could talk to for hours and not have a thing to talk about? Well, my guess….and even in speaking from experience….is that it’s not that there’s nothing to talk about, it’s that you’ve let the fire burn down and have a bit of rework to do to get it roaring again.

And so – that’s date night for us. Thanks to the blessing of great friends and family who welcome our little ones into their homes for an evening every now and then, Jason and I are able to throw a few logs on the fire…..remember our dreams together..…do some planning..…laugh a little, and enjoy each other. Just us. Then, it’s really not so hard to remember why we got together in the first place!

“I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Song of Solomon 6:3

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

media matters

Tonight at dinner, Caleb turned to Emet and said:

"Emet?  The Bible says, 'Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who mistreat you', so that's what you should do."

My jaw dropped a bit.  I didn't remember teaching Caleb this verse, so I asked, "Caleb, where did you learn this?"  "Alligator Hunter" he replied.  I smiled because I have been feeling a tad guilty for sitting the boys in front of a movie while I do my Bible study in the mornings.  My only requirement has been that it be a movie that teaches them about God.  I guess they have been doing a little studying of their own!

This is a good reminder to me that what we choose to immerse ourselves in determines a large part of who we become.  What we allow in our ears, our eyes, and our minds is what ultimately flows out of our hearts. I am also reminded that the little things we do for others really do matter.  Our friend Pam has been sending the boys a Christian children's DVD now and then.  Because of this, these are options my children have to choose from.  Thanks, Pam!

"Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life." Proverbs 4:23

"But the words you speak come from the heart...." Matthew 15:18

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Squirrels for Dinner

When I was a child, I can recall being in front of our house on the sidewalk creeping ever so slowly toward a squirrel so that I could just reach out and touch its tail. The excitement of such an interaction made my summer. So often I found myself in this position, quietly waiting on various wild creatures to come near, with the ever present little girl dream that they might play with me and be my friend.

Fast forward 25 years to this morning.....raising two little boys.

"Mama!! I see a squirrel outside", Caleb excitedly exclaims. "A squirrel!" Emet repeats.

"We need to kill that squirrel," Caleb continues. "Yeah! Kill the squirrel with a shotgun or a...or a winmag!!" joins Emet.

"I want to eat that squirrel for dinner!!" shouts Caleb.

Well, I guess Grandma Marion did say that squirrel meat tastes pretty good......but for tonight, I think I'll pass.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Caleb, where did the dinosaurs go?

This past weekend, we returned from a long weekend at my parents' house in Port Orchard for the annual Stolberg Family Reunion. While at Grandma and Grandpa B's, the boys camp out in their closet on pallets. (For the record, Grandma and Grandpa have a closet approaching the size of the boys' bedroom at home!) I snuck into the bedroom and overheard the following exchange.

Emet: "Cayub, where did dinosaurs go?"

Caleb: "Emet, I don't know. You'll have to ask God about that."

Emet: "Yes you do know 'bout dinosaurs!!"

Caleb: "No I don't know, Emet, but God knows EVERYTHING. He created everything, and He was never born and He never can die, and He is so big that he is EVERYWHERE at the same time! He is so tall that it would take 2 days to get to his head!......No, maybe even 16 days!"

Emet: "I would sit on His head!!" (heartily laughing, then) "Cayub, why did you take off your blanket?..." (a little window into the mental wanderings of a 2 year old)

Fast forwarding several days to yesterday, the children and I were outside, sitting at the edge of the garden. As I looked over the weed filled plot, I thought of the many life lessons one can learn from a garden. We talked about leaves and roots, how plants get their food from water, soil, and sun. We discussed weeds and how they can overtake plants, choking them out so the plant can't get any sunlight or water. We practiced pulling up weeds by only pulling the tops off of weeds, then by pulling the weed out by the roots so that it can't grow anymore.

I got out my Bible and began to read them the parable of the sewer. I explained as I went, and both boys were listening attentively. Here are the verses we read:

A farmer went out to plant some seeds. As he scattered them across his field, some seeds fell on a footpath, and the birds came and ate them. Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died. Other seeds fell among thorns that grew up and choked out the tender plants. Still other seeds fell on fertile soil, and they produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as had been planted! Matthew 13:3-8

and the explanation.....

“Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds: The seed that fell on the footpath represents those who hear the message about the Kingdom and don’t understand it. Then the evil one comes and snatches away the seed that was planted in their hearts. The seed on the rocky soil represents those who hear the message and immediately receive it with joy. But since they don’t have deep roots, they don’t last long. They fall away as soon as they have problems or are persecuted for believing God’s word. The seed that fell among the thorns represents those who hear God’s word, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life and the lure of wealth, so no fruit is produced. The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!”
Matthew 13: 18-23

At the end of the story, I asked the boys, "So what did you learn from that story?" Caleb replied, "Nothing. I don't like Bible stories. I just like to think about money and steal other kids' toys."

So, there you have it! What a great parallel to our adult life minute fully believing and trusting in God.....the next, completely focused on pointless, worldly pursuits that come to nothing in the end. Apparently it starts young!

As a humorous aside, during the weed pulling process, Emet, having recently received the Veggie Tale DVD Larry Boy and the Rumor Weed, excitedly ripped the top off a weed and ran over to me shouting, "Look-it!!! I found a rumor weed!" :-)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My Little Teachers

I look at you sleeping, your little eyes closed, and time stands still. You lay at peace in my care, trusting me...believing in me, because you don't know to do anything else.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made, priceless gifts, treasures placed in my keeping. Each one of you is special and unique. God designed you because He wanted you just the way you are.... everything about you. You are priceless to Him. Psalm 139:14 says, "I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well."

Your little chests rise and fall with each breath, and for a moment I see what God desires for me......peaceful rest in His care, not worried about tomorrow, just trusting that He is who He says He is.....believing all He has promised, because I know no other way.

As you grow older, little ones, you may wonder about your purpose in life - you may look around you for reassurance and not up to the One who created you. The beautiful things around you may begin to draw you away from your Heavenly Father as you begin to trust in them. You will find out that people may let you down, even Papa and I. You will learn about heartaches and disappointment. You will experience sorrow and pain. Your rest may not be so peaceful, your dreams not so sweet.

The funny thing is.......I'm beginning to see that God has as much purpose for you in my life as He has for me in yours. It is often through you that God speaks to me, and reminds me of how life is supposed to be....reminds me that things don't have to be so complicated....that He wants me to be snuggled safe in His care, leaving tomorrow to Him and not to my own plans, insecurities and fears.

Heavenly Father - hear my prayer! Help me to be as my children, tender and sweet, full of grace and mercy. Let me forgive easily and love much. Let my laughter ring with innocence and pure joy. Let me rest in Your care....believing, obeying and trusting that what You have for me is greater than what I plan for myself. May I always be about Your purpose and not my own. And, God, thank You for my little teachers....the ones You sent to show me the way Home.

"Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.' " Matthew 19:14

Sunday, June 27, 2010

This Moment

Have you ever had the sense that this moment is slipping away? It is. We are all only allotted a certain amount of moments before our time on earth is done. What are we to do with this moment? Certainly its existance isn't for nothing. One moment leads to the next from the time we are born until the time we die. Soloman writes in Ecclesiastes,

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1

Beyond any shadow of a doubt, I know that my primary purpose now is the nurturing and raising of my three beautiful children - Caleb, Emet, and Anna Ruth.....loving and serving my wonderful husband and best friend, Jason......honoring and welcoming friends and strangers alike.....making my home a place of refuge and light, hope and friendship.

Yet, what of this very moment, God? This moment when I gaze down at the sleeping faces of my beautiful children, these priceless gifts you have given into my care? I see it fleeting before me. Time has taught me that this moment passes into the next right before my very eyes.

Our boys watched the movie Toy Story at a friend's house tonight and were scared. I hadn't thought anything of letting them watch it but now am reminded just how very tender and fragile their little spirits are. Time will change this, it always does. Their time of innocent childhood is so very short. When we came home, Jason took Caleb and laid down with him on the couch, like he used to do when he was a tiny baby. But, Caleb is so big now. Yet, he was just born, wasn't he?.....several moments ago....

I look at the pictures on my computer in fast forward, and time is literally passing before my very eyes. I wonder, did I make the most of each moment?

So, what did I do with that moment...the one that was this moment several moments ago? I gazed at my babies, I stroked each little forehead and touched each little nose. I prayed to God to protect them and keep them safe, to give us wisdom and strength as we raise them up, and I shed a tear of nostalgia for the inevitable passing of that moment - knowing full well that before too long, I won't be gazing at my small babies any longer......that I would be a woman of advanced age with greying hair and a lined face and would stare with awe and amazement back the youthful pictures of myself , my husband and my babies.

Heavenly Father - help me to follow the road you would have me travel; help me to make those lines on my face lines of laughter and joy and kindness. Help me to guard the hearts and minds of my children until it is time for me to prepare them for the big world ahead of them, then help me to point them in the right direction. Help me to live this moment from now until my last with Your purpose and not mine.....and to make the most of this moment........

Friday, June 25, 2010

Out of the mouth of babes...

The past two days have been rich with sweet moments from my sons, so I thought I'd capture a few:

  • Last night, Caleb asked me to crawl into his bed for a while with him, which is now on the top bunk about 1.5 feet from the ceiling. As we lay cuddled together, he asked, "Mama, when will I be a Papa?" I explained to him that first he would meet a wonderful woman, who first loved God more than anything else in her life, and then loved him next. "You mean like Grandma?" he asked.

  • Today, Caleb was singing upstairs. I thought I heard the melody to "Humble Thyself in the Sight of the Lord." As he came downstairs still singing, however, I heard the words he was actually signing: "Trouble myself in the sight of the Lord." Quite telling of human nature, I thought. If only we could get that one straight! :-)

  • We were getting out of the car in the gym parking lot today. My hands were full carrying Anna Ruth and Emet started to cry out for my hand. Caleb kindly said, "Here, Emet. You can take my hand. I've got ya." (My heart was melting, as you could imagine.)

  • Later that day, however, Caleb was upstairs going to the bathroom and called out, "Emet! Come up here!" Emet said, "No!" Caleb called down "I won't be mean to you anymore if you come up here! But if you don't come up here, then I'll be really mean to you."

  • As I was feeding Anna Ruth avacados for dinner tonight, Caleb came up and asked if he could have some avacados. "Sure", I told him. I cut him a slice and Emet started to whine and say "I no like adacados!" "Emet," I returned, "You don't have to like 'adacados' but Caleb and I do. You don't have to eat any." He continued to pout and said a sentence that is pretty typical for our little Emet: "I no like tomatoes aaaaann I no like t'adacados."

  • Tonight we went out for Mexican food. Anna Ruth sat in a high chair and ate cheerios for the first time. The boys were so proud of her, wanting to give her tons of cheerios at once. It is so adorable how much they adore their sister....whom they may forever call "Missy."

Oh how I love my little boys!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

In the shadow of Your wings

...but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary... Isaiah 40:31

There are those moments in life you will never forget...moments you return to when you are doubting, hurting, or afraid....those times when it is undeniable that God is speaking to you in a way that goes beyond rational explanation. I write the below as a reminder, so that when I am in a dry place someday, feeling far removed from God, I can remember that HE IS. It may not seem miraculous or special to anyone else, but I truly believe that if we seek Him, God will oftentimes meet us where we are, speaking to us in a way that allows us to see and believe.

Saturday morning I woke up at my parents' home in Port Orchard. My plan was to go for a run that day, but nothing in me wanted to go. Nothing. I got up and dressed in my workout clothes, and extended my breakfast as long as possible. I complained to Jason that my knees already hurt and I had no energy. It was chilly and drizzling outside. Finally, I determined that if I didn't leave soon, my window of opportunity would pass.

Up until this past December, 6 short months ago, I would have claimed that I had never run more than 2 miles in my entire life....and that was back in high school. I would get knee pain, shin splints, and feel like my chest was going to explode. I'm sure these are normal things for people who don't run, but to me the thought of running was torture. After Anna Ruth was born, however, I found that getting my daily 3 mile walk in with the three children was next to impossible. My entire exercise plan was undone. A friend suggested we train for a 5K run, and I laughed. However, several other friends were doing it, so I decided I had to give it a try. I quickly found that, though it wasn't my favorite activity, I soon pushed past the 2 mile mark to run 3, 4 and 5 miles. One time in late March, I ran 7.2 miles on flat ground. However, my legs felt ready to collapse and I had fairly severe IT band pain and overuse syndrome after this. I had to stop running for a while then start over at 2 miles and slowly build back up. Even now, after 6 months of running, I often loathe the first 3-4 miles. To put it plainly, it's not a sport I choose to do because I love it. I run because it is the most expedient and effective way for me to keep in physical and cardiovascular shape.

I had been struggling for a few days, being in a place of mental turmoil....feeling hurt, lonely and broken. I wanted desperately to feel God's presense, to be comforted. But, this seemed a remote and unattainable goal. It didn't seem possible. Yet, I put on my Hymns playlist. (I typically don't do this while running, as it would have me going slower than a snail.)

About 20 minutes into my run, the song "Lay em Down" started to play. I felt like God was beginning to speak to me in the way He always does for me. For me, it's never an audible voice, but the strongest sense that overtakes me....almost like a pressure on my chest. Sometimes I hear words in my head...sometimes I don't. However, I'm beginning to recognize a pattern in how He communicates with me. I heard Him tell me to listen to the words of this song. I started the song again.....and again......and again.....and again. Each time I would start it, my mind would almost instantly wander away. It was crazy! I kept hearing Him tell me to LISTEN.....So - that is how we rolled - He told me to listen, I restarted the mind wandered - He told me to listen, I restarted the mind wandered...over and over and over again. Finally (this must have been a miracle in and of itself) I was able to get through the entire song entirely focused on each word. Here they are:

Come down to the river
Come and let yourself in
Make good on a promise
To never hurt again
If you're lost and lonely
You're Broken down
Bring all of your troubles
come lay 'em down

All you sinners
And the weak at heart
All you helpless
On the boulevards
Wherever you are now
Whatever evil you've found
Bring all of your troubles
And come lay 'em down

We're all tied to the same old failings
Finding shelter in things we know
We're all dirty like corrupted small towns
We'll bring our troubles
We'll bring our troubles lay 'em down

All you rich men
And the high above
All those with
And without love
All you burdened
Broken down
Bring all of your troubles
Come lay 'em down

The playlist kept on rolling, and I began to notice something. I was about 30 minutes into my run and wasn't the least bit tired and had no aches at all. As I headed back to the end of the road I had planned to take, I decided to take a different route and go a little farther. Then the song "Your love, oh Lord" by Third Day came on, from Psalm 36.

Your love, oh Lord
Reaches to the heavens
Your faithfulness stretches to the sky
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains
Your justice flows like the ocean's tide

I will lift my voice
To worship You, my King
I will find my strength
In the shadow of your wings

I began to have an energy I could not explain. I felt as if a balm was being poured over my soul. I kept running. As I ran on, my senses became accutely aware of my surroundings, and I became more and more aware of how abnormal this run was. By this point, I was running hills - up and down I went, and my pulse didn't seem any more than if I were sitting in a chair at home. My knee didn't hurt, I didn't feel like I was sweating, my chest wasn't burning, I wasn't thirsty or weak. At one point, I remember literally looking down at my body to make sure I was running and not walking. It just didn't make sense. I ran on. As the words of the song coursed through my veins, I felt God speaking them to me and I experienced an indescribable peace.

God began to show me that it was Him sustaining me through this run. This was not me. He will help me to do many incredible and mighty things, but there is no room for pride or boasting, because my purpose is to glorify Him. There is unlimited potential to what He can do through me, but I must give Him the glory so that through me others may find Him.

As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world's interest in me has also died. Galatians 6:14

I asked God to keep speaking to me. I ran past the spot where shortly after I turned 16, I drove off the road going about 100mph and landed in the only patch of blackberries in a road entirely lined with trees. Once again, I felt humbled that my life had been spared, despite my foolish actions.

I ran past the former home of a dear Christian woman, Nancy, who now lives in Heaven. She is the mother of one of my dearest friends. I felt her cheering me on, and nostalgia swept over me. My eyes were full of tears.

As I neared the bottom of Harper Hill, I decided to turn left and run to the Harper Dock. I ran out to the end of the dock. It was amazing to be out there - surrounded by water on both sides. I lifted my arms to Heaven and looked out at the beauty around me. My eyes were drawn to movement in the water nearby, and I thought I might be about to see a whale or sea lion. I asked God to show me what beautiful creation He had for me to see. I continued jogging in place and had decided to move on when I felt God telling me to wait. This happened twice. I excitedly awaited seeing the creature up close. Surely it would be amazing if God had wanted me to see it. The bubbles came closer. Finally, I saw it......two scuba divers passed beneath me. "This is my most beautiful and precious creation," God said to me. I can't really describe the awe I felt in this moment. It was definitely what some might call a moment of truth.

I ran on, now an hour into my run....still not tired, hurting, or thirsty...full of energy. I ran around the waterfront, up and down hills. I turned off my iPod so I could hear oncoming cars on the narrow winding road, and I began to feel God's presense a little less closely. I began to wonder how far I had run. I began to plan the rest of my run, capitalizing on this amazing situation. I would run down to the ferry dock, then up to the top of Southworth via a long steep hill, up a few sideroads, then back home. I was starting to think how awesome it was that I had been running for so long and so far without even breathing hard or hurting at all. I remembered Jason telling me only a small percentage of the population could run for more than an hour.

I was 3/4 the way up the steep part of the big hill when I heard God's voice again....telling me to stop and turn around. WHAT? This defied every aspect of my personality.....I don't start up any big hill I have planned to conquer and stop, not in this or any area of life...especially if there is nothing wrong. Surely He didn't really mean to stop and turn around...not when I've been going for so long....when I haven't had any pains?! I had come this far! Surely this wasn't God's voice I was hearing. Besides, would it really matter if I went the rest of the way? I was almost there! This was crazy! I stopped to stretch, fully intending to keep going. I did. I rounded the corner and continued to progress toward the top. Certainly it wouldn't really matter, right? I mean, why would He carry me on this long journey just to have me stop right before the pinacle...the very top of the biggest hill? (I guess in my heart, I probably knew the answer to this question.)

There He was again....complete with the pressure on my chest...."Turn around now.....Turn around now....Turn around now.....It's time to go home" I heard. Ok, God. Yes, I'll obey......I turned around and headed back. He began to show me my need to listen closely to discern His voice and then to obey it, even when it seems to go against everything in me....when it's not convenient to my nature. A muscle in my leg started to hurt. I've never had pain there before, so I dubbed it my "disobedience muscle".

I'm still amazed that despite God having just given me such a beautiful gift, one that I was even still in the midst of experiencing, I still wanted to own nature wanted to triumph and receive even the small glory of setting my route and goal....even though I knew the entire run I was riding on the wings of eagles. I just couldn't obey when I first heard His voice.

Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!" Matthew 26:41

I arrived home 1hr and 41 minutes after I left....not tired, not weak, not thirsty or hungry, a normal pulse - my sore "disobedience muscle" my only indication I had been running for so long. I think I could have run for hours on end. I'm sure I could have had God willed it.

I drank a glass of water, fed my baby girl, and took a shower. A few hours later as it neared dinner, I realized I had forgotten to eat lunch. All of these things are very abnormal for me, for I typically need to drink and eat very soon after running much shorter distances. It's as if God was telling me, "I am sufficient. I will sustain you."

In the two days since the big run, I have been reminded of how very miraculous that day was. Tonight, I was at the gym and chose to do the stationary bicycle in order to give my body a rest. 15 minutes into my workout, I was sweating and my heart was pounding. I was reminded that it is like this but worse most every time I run.

I wish I could say that that 1 hr and 41 minutes took hold of my heart and mind, never to return to my former struggles. I think part of human nature simply prevents that. However, I do have that experience to remind me that I can do everything through him who gives me strength...Phillipians 4:13

Friday, June 11, 2010

In case you ever wanted to be a GLADIATOR.... I have the shoe for you! Having been shopping several times recently, I'm struck by the fact that I have apparently fallen behind in the ins and outs of fashion.

For those of you who have a closet full of shoes you know and love, can rest and relax in the amusement of the season's latest fashions. If you are in desperate need of shoes, might have a bit of a hard time finding them
....unless of course, you're looking to be a GLADIATOR!!!

Gladiators have options these days!!! From the
simple and the heavily
bejeweled....There is a shoe for everyone!

and in case you are ever in intense gladiatorial
combat, caught up by your very own shoe,
these shoes have a zipper release for
quick escape.... here are shoes with
both form AND function! They
come complete with a lead (or harness).
You can "pull yourself up by the bootstraps," so
to speak. Just make sure the other gladiator
doesn't get ahold of the strap!

These are the post event shoes...
(for the winner, that is)......soft, comfortable,
breathable ....what more could you ask for?
"Listen to me. Learn from me. I was not the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me. Win the crowd and you will win your freedom."
Proximo, Gladiator
"It's easier to win a crowd with GREAT SHOES!!!" Ann Ordway

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My Two Geppettos

Recently, we purchased a Veggie Tale DVD entitled "Pistachio" (obviously, a twist on the classic Pinocchio). The boys adore this new movie and have watched it many times.....(perhaps for the last time given its untimely demise with Emet using the DVD as a skate to slide across the room...but that's a story for another time...)

Yesterday morning, the boys were playing outside and I was in the living room doing my Bible study. I had given strict instructions for them not to come in unless someone was dying. However, I heard the door creak open. I asked Caleb what he was doing and he told me he needed a hat for Pistachio. The door slammed shut, and off he went.

I followed outside a few minutes later and heard the boys in the garage. As I entered the garage, each of my sons eagerly showed me the toy he was making. Caleb said, "We're making toys for sick kids - kids that are in the hospital, and kids that don't have any toys."..."Making toys for sick kids!", Emet returned, as is his custom these repeat everything Caleb says.

Before me sat two pieces of firewood, one with a stocking hat. Each boy showed me the face he had hammered into the firewood. (I couldn't really see any, but I trust they were there - at least in their vivid imaginations!) A proud Mama I was.

Lest you think my children are saints, however, today's story was a bit different. Emet came in screaming from outside telling me Caleb had hit him in the head with Papa's framing hammer! I comforted my youngest, then went outside to talk to Caleb. I explained how hitting someone with a hammer is very dangerous and if you hit them hard enough, you could kill them. (We have to use extremes sometimes to get our point across.) I told him that he had lost privilege of using tools for a long while and would have to discuss the situation with Papa when he got home.

Later that evening, I asked Caleb if he had told Papa about what happened with the hammer. He returned, "You mean when I tried to kill Emet?" :-)

Monday, June 7, 2010

My treasure in jars of clay

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." 2 Corinthians 4:7

I have noticed over time, that part of the great mercy of God is that He doesn't show us all of our weaknesses all at once but one at a time. During the past months, a struggle I have had in my faith has been pressed upon my heart over and over and over - fear of loss. There are some things in life that mean more to us than anything.....more than life itself. For me, that has been my husband and children. I've always had what some may consider to be a strange prayer.......that I would never, ever be separated from my Jason....that we would be together until our very last breaths deep into our old age....and that we might die in our sleep, if the Lord didn't come first.

Many may consider this silly, a childish hope of a weak and simple faith...unrealistic perhaps....unlikely. My great grandmother, whom I never met, found herself facing the loss of her dear husband of many years as he had cancer. She prayed fervently that God would take her too, because she didn't want to live without her husband. And, you know? He did. As his cancer was in the final stages, they were headed to the hospital - perhaps for the last time and were both killed in a car accident on the way there. In a way, this is tragic. It was a tragic, beautiful love story. It is something I have clung to my whole life. I didn't know I would have this great fear until I met my Jason nearly 14 years ago, but as our relationship progressed, I grew more and more fearful of losing him someday. It was a thought I couldn't bear and so began my prayer to God.

Over time, this prayer has come to encompass my children too, and of course - their children as well. I have begun to fear tragedy or loss of any sort in my life. In 2006, I nearly lost Jason when he broke his back in a mountain biking accident. I can still hear the neurosurgeon telling me he hadn't ever seen anything like it and that it was a miracle that he wasn't paralyzed, and had he not been wearing a full face helmet, he likely would have been killed. However, here we are....Jason is healthy and well, having run a marathon and become father to two more beautiful children since then.

However, all around me I see tragedy, I witness despair in the lives of those I know and love. My friend lost her 4 month baby girl to SIDS, another to a rare heart defect; one of my very best friends lost her mother to dear friend Julie died unexpectedly at the age of 34, leaving behind 4 young children and a husband....a 9 year old boy died of leukemia after a 2 year battle....a healthy husband and father dies unexpectedly of a heart attack.

My heart soul cries out. Why God? Why? And, what's more....who am I that you would honor my prayer when all of these people suffer such tragedy in their lives? You love them no less than me. During their sufferings though, I have seen such great evidence of your presence. I have seen your strong hand upholding them. I see your faithfulness to your children to get them through. It is clear.

Yet, I become paralyzed with fear. I want to cling to my loved ones with every ounce of strength I have. I want to wrap them up and protect them. I want to hold them in the palm of my hand and not let go - ever. I AM AFRAID. GOD HELP ME. If the sheer force of my love and hope and prayer could determine anything......I would have the strength to move mountains. No earthly power could overcome me.

And yet.....the gentle voice of my Father calls to me. "Take my hand. Trust me. They are my children and I love them. You are my child and I love you. Open your tightly clenched fist and place them in My hands. Allow Me to move freely in your life. Trust me. Trust me. Trust me."

Ah, Father....that I could trust and obey! You see? I so fear that me taking that step to trust will require me giving up those things which I hold most dear. I fear that my very biggest fear will be what needs to be tested and I don't want to be tested. I am not strong enough. I can't bear it. I know you say that you are sufficient, but I can't wrap my mind around that. I'm even afraid to reach out my hand and ask for help lest you need to prove it to me. I can barely write through the stream of tears blurring my vision. My soul is anguished.

Each night, I pray over my sleeping children and husband - I lay my hands on their little foreheads and watch them sleep. I touch their little noses and say, "God bless you, dear bug." They are beautiful.....healthy.....whole....spiritually, mentally, and physically. It seems my life is perfect in all the ways that really matter and in my own limited, human perspective, it can only get worse from here. How could it be any better than what I have? And, people are always saying...."Trouble happens to us all" and "If you're not experiencing trials now, then you will". Everyone has trials. Everyone dies sometime.

Pam, a dear family friend and a wonderful mentor to me, has experienced more tragedy than most could fathom. She has lost two husbands, her brother, and most recently her adult daughter, and my friend, Julie. She recently wrote me an e-mail that once again reminded me that God hears my pain, that he knows my hurts, and that He wants to help me. She wrote:

"During my time of just waiting in God’s presence, you came to mind regarding both your eye appointment and the Jensen family. Reading Steve and Vicki’s poignant emails has been emotional for me, both for what they are going through and because of my memories of the final days and weeks of Jim’s life.

I don’t know how to convey in an email what is on my heart that I desire to share with you. I wish we could get together over a long lunch and talk, but alas distance—and the fact that you are a busy wife and mom—prohibit that. So I am just going to write a few thoughts, share a couple of Scriptures and pray that God will do the work in your heart. After all, He is God and He is more than capable.

Knowing how deeply you love your family—your immediate family, including your parents—and just a bit about the fears that you have regarding losing any of them (even though we know that any separation in this life is only temporary), I somehow want to communicate to you how much God longs for your security to be firmly established in Him. He wants that to be in your heart. You have it in your head. That is apparent in how you write about the Jensen family and your admiration for what they are going through. You see them facing one of the hardest things parents must go through with a confidence and trust that can only come from the presence of God. That is giving you great hope that God will see you through anything. And yes, He will. But He wants you to know that on a heart level as well. Because then and only then will you be able to face the challenges of each day with an assurance that “God is enough”. And that God can be trusted.

God is trustworthy and therefore without reservation we can pray, “thy will be done in my life”. You and I both know this is not a one-time prayer, but one that
we must reaffirm each day. We are not to worry about the tomorrows. They have enough trouble. Every morning, God wants us to run to Him, believing that He is “more than enough” for whatever that day holds.

The heart of what I want to communicate with you is something that I heard Andy Stanley say in a series from last year called, “He’s Still Got the Whole World in His Hands.” In part two of that three-part series, he shared an insight in Philippians 4:4-7 that was revelatory to me. So often we tell people not to worry but to pray with thanksgiving and God’s peace will come. Andy pointed out something really interesting about a word that often gets overlooked, the word “present”. We won’t break through to “peace” until we’ve come to God with what our deep needs and requests are. Begin with the topic (your eye appointment, Jason’s job etc) but don’t stop there. What are you really praying for? What are the deep needs/fears that are really represented. Those are what we must present to God in order to get lasting peace. When I pray for finances, am I really praying just about the money to pay the bills—or does it go beyond the worry that I won’t have enough money to pay the bills to a fear that no one will take care of me. When I desire to pray “not my will but yours” but feel I’m holding back a little part of me, I need to pray until I get to the real need. Do I really trust God? Or if I pray that way, He might require someone or something that I can’t imagine living without. Is a man’s prayer about a job just about the job—or the need to have respect among his peers. The examples are endless, but my timer just went off, so I need to get ready for an appointment.

I will close with a couple of Scriptures and the encouragement to you that I experientially know that God is enough to see me through each trial that comes. I know that—and yet I am still learning it (a lesson I will likely keep learning every day of my life). I have a few of those underlying needs and fears of my own, that God is helping me learn to present to Him—and to pray until the peace comes.

I love you Annie—and God loves you so much more. Come to Him in honesty. Ask Him to reveal what is underlying every fear and concern you have—and then pray until the peace comes. Because it will. Because God is faithful. Because God is trustworthy.

Psalm 62:8 Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us (a fortress and a high tower). Selah [pause, and calmly think of that]! AMP

Isaiah 54:10 For though the mountains should depart and the hills be shaken or removed, yet My love and kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace and completeness be removed, says the Lord, Who has compassion on you. AMP "

Heavenly Father,
Please help me to be able to believe these words in my deepest heart. Help me to trust matter what. I wish I could say I have hands open to you....that I fully trust you with my heart. I want to, but I am so afraid.

God, I tentatively lay these treasures before you, but know that I'm still holding on. I know that in the big picture, my tiny little grip doesn't have too much to do with the outcome of anything. However, the heart of this wife and mother just can't seem to let go yet. I know your arms are a safer and better place than my weak hands. I'm trying to believe this in my heart. Please be patient with me.

I am a jar of clay, weak and chipped...easily broken.

Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping.
Psalm 39:12

Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Psalm 71:3

Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day

A memorial involves the preserving the memory of a person or to commemorate this Memorial Day, I wish to remember this day of my life, and the choices we made this day.

After an extended 4 day weekend filled with fun, friends, bonfires, BBQ, Bible study and a movie night, we found ourselves entering this day tired and feeling a little behind. Yet, Jason started the day by allowing me to sleep in as he got the children ready for the day and made pancakes and eggs......his specialty. This used to be a weekend tradition, but it has since been replaced with our Saturday morning bakery visit and Sunday services, so it was fun to revisit this tradition - now with little Anna Ruth happily rolling around on the floor beside our table.

After breakfast, there were a thousand things weighing on both Jason and I after a busy weekend.....basic housekeeping, yard work, remodel progress, exercise, preparing for the week ahead, etc., etc. Yet all day, I felt a great need to just be with my with my enjoy this day that I had been given with them. The thing is, those other things are always there - pressing on the mind, day after day. I believe we could completely absorb ourselves in the details of their completion and wake up one day well into our advanced years and wonder how the time had passed without our noticing.

So today, we had our wonderful breakfast and planted our garden. We took a 2 hour late afternoon nap - yes, all of us, each in our own beds. After waking up from our nap, Jason and I talked for about a half hour before waking up the children and making a dinner of leftover pizza. We then headed outdoors for some family time working on the playhouse. The boys are so very excited about this idea, and we are making it all from scraps of wood we already have. It is also being built as a family...meaning that little hands pound nails too, a matter in which they take great pride.

Today's choices were fairly significant for us, for they involved the laying aside of those many things weighing on our minds and the pressure of a free day at home to accomplish them. It involved both Jason and I acknowledging that our weeks disappear in a flurry of activity and daily responsibilities void of time to simply relax together and talk alone. We don't have much time to reconnect, or even just cuddle and nap. We don't have much time together with our children as a family unit...all five of us.

Today was an important reminder that sometimes we simply need to make time to reconnect. After all, we didn't get married with the sole goal of accomplishing a to-do list. And yes, it may mean that the trim work in the Ordway home, among many other things, will be longer in coming.......that we may not button things up to refinance in the ideal window of time....that we may have a growing pile of unfolded laundry. And, as silly as these things may seem, they certainly do weigh on the mind.

And yet? If we only had this day together, what would I rather remember? That we folded our laundry and vacuumed the carpet? That our window was trimmed? That the corn was planted? No, I think I'll take the refueling time I had with my husband that will allow us some leeway to jump back into the fray, to keep working through the craziness of each day working side by side, if not interacting much. And, I'll definitely take the memories we made today as a family......the treasure I now have in my treasure chest.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Confidence Booster 101: Find a 4 year old!!

OK, so for all of the challenges a four year old brings to the table, he is learning the way into Mama's heart!!!!!!!!!! (Watch out girls, I'm tellin you - he's a ladies man in the making!)

He frequently tells me, "You look pretty, Mama.".....even when I'm not feeling a bit pretty...

(Melts my heart every time.)

Yesterday, he was looking at copy of Fitness magazine I had laid on the couch. (ok - probably not the best thing to have laying around for your young boys to look at, but I had borrowed it from the gym to copy a few recipees out of and left it laying out.) He sees a picture of a pretty girl in a swimsuit and calls out, "MAMA!!!!! Guess whose picture I found in here?!?!" "Who?", I asked.

"It's YOU, Mama!! Mama, is this really you?!"

(SCORE!!! I'll take it, even if it's from my 4 year old son! )

Tonight, as I laid the dinner plates out for he and Emet, Caleb said, "Thank you for dinner, Mama. It was sweet of you to make dinner!"

(Son, you are getting an extra night time cookie tonight.)

a few mintues later, "It kind of tastes like chicken, but you did a nice job!" (It was tuna) :-)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Anna Ruth

"It is no slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." Charles Dickens

Six months ago today you were born. So many joys I have captured in my heart these past six months, Little One. It must be true that a Mother's love is never ending, ever able to embrace more, love more, for just as with your Papa and big brothers, I am able to love you with what seems like my whole heart. From the very beginning, you have been a most precious jewel, loved and doted on by all of us.

You are a sweet and gentle spirit, patient and kind, even as a little baby. Your name, Anna, is derived from the Hebrew name Hannah and means gracious and merciful. Ruth is also a Hebrew name meaning friendship. You were named after me and also your Grandpa B's cousin Ruth, a dear Christian woman who passed away the year before you were born. You have embodied the meaning of your name since birth.....gracious and merciful friendship, for you are the sweetest and most gentle baby imaginable....patient, rarely crying, frequent to smile with your sweet, joyful smile, sparkling big blue eyes, rosy pink cheeks, and long, curly eyelashes which you blink ever so slowly. You are happy for long periods of time, wherever we put you, and are content to entertain yourself...though you show great joy with a deliciously big sparkling smile every time anyone comes over to talk to you. You make it so easy to be your Mama.

You were born on November 7, 2009. The night before your birth, all of your grandparents and our close family and friends were at our house to celebrate your big brothers' 4th and 2nd birthdays. We had a lovely time and your brothers enjoyed having a special party just for them. It was as if you and God had it all planned...waiting until everyone was in town and letting your brothers have their special day before making your entrance. That's just the gentle, giving spirit you seem to have, even as a baby. I had been having mild contractions that day following my 41 week exam, where I was dilated to 4 cm. Just as the party was ending, my contractions seemed to be getting more regular. Papa and I went for a walk with Justin, Becca, Randy, and Allison over in the neighbors long driveway, and during the course of a 45 minute walk, my contractions became more regular. As our friends departed their ways, Papa and I headed to the hospital with Grandpa and Grandma B. Caleb and Emet stayed at home with Auntie Sharla, excitedly wearing their new Big Brother pajamas from Grandma B.
They checked me in for admission and I was 5-6 cm dilated and 90% effaced. I had decided to do a water labor instead of having an epidural as I had before. The water really helped the labor process and I wanted to listen to instrumental Christmas music (the Peaceful Christmas album) over and over and over. Your Papa is a very patient man! By 1:30am, I was at 8cm. By around 2:30am the pain was very intense. In fact, I might have said the pain was intolerable at the time! You were born at 3:31am, weighing 8lbs 15oz and 19.5 inches long with a 36cm head circumference (in other words - large, as 32 is average!) Giving birth to you was the most excruciatingly painful experience of my life thus far. I can still see the hospital bed handrail I was gripping so tightly as if it would somehow save my very life!

They laid you directly on my chest. I snuggled you close to me, but I was so tired and shaking with exhaustion that I couldn't even open my eyes for more than a second at a time to look at you. I remember trying over and over, but I couldn't stop shaking or open my eyes. So, I just nuzzled you close and as long as I patted you on the back, you didn't cry.

Our hospital stay was fairly short and quiet, because all of the hospitals in the area were worried about the spread of the H1N1 virus. All of your grandparents were allowed to come, but none of our friends, so we headed home on Sunday so that Auntie Sharla could see you before heading home and our friends and family could come and meet you!

Caleb and Emet were so excited when we pulled into the driveway. I can still see them jumping up and down in the window wearing the Big Brother shirts that Allie had bought them and peering excitedly into your car seat to see their new baby sister. Caleb wanted so badly to hold you, so that is one of the first things you did when you got home is to be held by your big brother Caleb, with Emet sitting right next to him, showing you his new toys he had received for his birthday.

I can't believe how quickly the past six months have gone bye, Anna Ruth. How I have wanted to forever capture so many precious moments within these walls of words. There are times in life of which we may forget the specifics, but I truly believe that each of those tender moments that are so poignant at the time must leave an indelible impression on our very soul, leaving us forever changed.

Some of the things I remember most vividly from the past six months I'll try to capture, but endless pages could not capture all of the precious moments I have marked on my heart...

  • Nursing you late at night, then sitting in front of a roaring fireplace with you snuggled in fetal position on my chest, so tiny and little. I would often sit there until the wee hours of the morning holding you close to me, feeling your breath on my chest and your little body rise and fall with sleep.

  • Papa sleeping on the couch and having you cuddled close on his chest. He so wanted to soak up every minute he could get with you once he came home from work as your big brothers often dominated his time until they were tucked into bed.

  • Caleb holding you with the nursing pillow propping you up to keep you safe and close to him on the couch. He loves to touch your little face with his, giving you gentle kisses and nuzzling you.

  • Allie's Gramps holding you days after you arrived from Heaven...and days before he went to Heaven, like two ships passing in the night

  • You playing baby Jesus in the Christmas play. You did so well! We were proud of you.

  • Emet glowing with pride and joy and excitement when you smile or coo at him

  • Emet pronouncing your name, "Anna Roof"

  • How the boys call you "Missy" and "Sissy"

  • Papa's call: Anna.....(everyone else says...."Roooooof")

  • How you stare at us with your enormous blue eyes, then ever so slowly bat your long, beautiful eyelashes

  • Your first smile on Christmas Eve!

  • Your first cooing noises in early January....and you have cooed and wooed us ever since!

  • How quickly you took off, growing and growing and growing...You're my big girl!

  • In mid February, you began laughing out loud. Your car seat in the middle row faces Caleb and Emet's in the back row. Caleb started trying to make you smile and you started chuckling at him. He was so proud to be the first to make you laugh!

  • In early March, you transitioned from sucking your fist, to finding your thumb...and that thumb has been your close friend ever since! You mostly suck your left thumb, and it's almost always when you are really tired or really hungry. Every time we lay you down for a nap, you immediately find your thumb and close your eyes - turning your head to the right and up in what looks to be a very uncomfortable position!

  • On your 5 month birthday, you had your first real tears streaming down your face when crying. How this broke your Mama's heart!

  • A week later at Grandma and Grandpa B's house, you rolled from your tummy to your back...and about a week later from your back to your tummy.

  • Every time we put you in your little mini crib to sleep now, you reach up and pull down both little white teddy bears that hang from the canopy.

  • When you wake from sleeping, you'll often just find your thumb and happily remain in your crib until someone comes to find you. What a blessing you are to a Mama of two busy little boys!

  • You love to look at books!! I have noticed this for a couple of months you seem to very intently look at the pictures of any stories we are reading. I think you'll love to read someday.

  • You're a great observer, slowly turning toys in your hands to look at them.

  • Storytime before nap time. I sit you in your baby bumbo seat in front of the wood stove in between Caleb and Emet, and the three of you face me as I read you stories - one for each of you. You seem so interested in the books! And each of your brothers scoots as close to you as possible.

  • When we give you a bath, your little rolls are everywhere! You are so cute! Then we dress you in warm, fuzzy pajamas, with little bunnies or teddy bears on them. Your sweet smelling skin and duck fluffy clean hair make you irresistible.

  • Calling you Ru, Ru-Bear, Tiny Bear, and Mama's Princess.

  • Your two bottom front teeth poking through as of a few days ago. So cute. You have barely even cried during this teething.

  • You look just like my baby pictures. You're Mama's little girl!! I love you!!

Sweet baby girl, here are a million special things I haven't captured in these words. However, one thing is for have stolen our hearts. We love you and look forward to so many more special memories as you grow into the beautiful little girl God has made you to be. Happy 1/2 birthday!