Sunday, December 11, 2011

Newborn: Breath of Heaven

Capturing the essence of newborn...

First precious moments of life...we see you in those last moments of exiting the womb, yet before you are born, then out you come, your wet, warm body just expels from your home of 9 months, from all you have ever known and into your Mama's arms and to my breast where I continue to love, hold and nourish you.  So fresh from being knit together in my womb by the very Creator of the universe!

Tiny, unsupported frame that pulls in to remain in the position you held for months on end....snuggled on my chest, feet tucked under your body, arms pulled in, head burrowed into my chest.  You are warm.  Here, you are at peace and appear completely comforted. In this place, I can sit for hours - trying to absorb your very essence....trying to embrace and remember forever what it feels like to hold this tiny life so close in my arms.

Little arms, legs, feet, and hands with jerky, flailing movements.  Toes that spread wide in all directions, then scrunch in.......legs that kick out then pull in and tuck close to your body.

Eyes that first appear startled by the very world around you, day by day begin to stabilize, focus and be at peace.

Sneezes and wheezes; burps and toots; the gurgling of bowls; the clearing of airways; grunts and sporadic breaths; tiny "billy goat" noises that your Mama and Papa will never, ever forget.

Diaper changes that involve the entire outfit.

Cries that pierce the nerves of those around you, a fierce weapon against anyone who might forget your immediate needs. Sweet smelling and searching as your impatiently await your food. Frantic nursing as you first latch on before you realize you may drink your fill. Waking twice each night to fill your tiny belly. Eat, wake,, wake, sleep.

Hours spent with Papa gently coaxing out the painful tummy aches by holding, rocking, walking, and cuddling.

Sweet smell, softest of skin, fuzzy hair, warm body.

Slowly changing, unnoticed, day by day.....

"It is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us." - Charles Dickens

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Waiting with Grace

1:00am Thanksgiving morning.  I thought for sure yesterday I was in labor.....contractions all during the day, culminating in a 45 minute walk with intense contractions every 2-3 minutes......until I came home and laid down, then they seemed to dissipate and mostly disappear. I sit....debating whether or not to call it a night and turn in.

I am struck by the fact that this could indeed be my last night of pregnancy......ever.  And, so, I wait patiently with my little Grace....enjoying her on the inside snuggling and squirming inside of me, and also eagerly anticipating her arrival to the outside world.

It is not lost on me, this most meaningful timing...whether or not she arrives on Thanksgiving Day, or chooses to wait a few more days.  As we close this season of childbearing, it is not without significance that she will arrive in the season of Thanksgiving.  These past seven years of pregnancies and childbearing have been full of joy, love, and laughter.....of God's greatest gifts being revealed to us through our four precious children.  A mama at heart and by design, I both embrace these gifts and mourn for the season that is about to pass, yet I look forward with eager anticipation to what lies ahead for our little family.  I have come to be thankful for the cozy little farmhouse God has provided us with, and realize that our family will have special and happy memories of life here, in and around this house.  We will look back and remember the slapping of little hands and knees as our tiny ones began to crawl, then toddle, and the pitter patter of little feet as the two year olds took off with confidence.  We'll likely always hear the hearty laughter and giggles of little children as they race around the house playing hide and seek or tag, the chatting and laughing upstairs long after the lights have been turned off. I'll hear the squeaking of the floorboards as Papa rocks Anna Ruth in the old rocking chair and sings Blessed Assurance to yet another child. I'll see the little boys sitting in stuffed Thomas the Train chairs, flanking their Papa as he leads the Ordway Family Prayer Council.  I'll hear Jason's voice as he weaves the story of Hansel and Gretel the Two Cows, or he of me as I recount Annie's Adventures. We'll remember sneaking up the stairs to hear Caleb singing a mournful dirge or praying for 10 minutes on and on and on while Emet listens and interjects...We'll see two little boys racing their dumptrucks and bicycles up and down the gravel driveway and around the yard....children on the swingset...exploring the barn.  Two little boys will remain in our hearts as they haul their load of wood up from the woodshed, increasingly with a little sister in tow.  Had our nest been bigger or fancier, I'm not sure the experience would have been quite the same.  And despite all of the times I have been frustrated by its simplicity and needs, I am beginning to see that life in this simple country home has been one of our biggest blessings.

And so, as I ponder these precious the passing of one season to another, I cling to my time here as I wait with Grace......and I am thankful for the Grace that has been given me.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Savoring this precious last...

I have been wanting to capture a few thoughts of these last precious days while Grace is still inside of me.  Thus, here I sit curled up on the couch in front of a cozy woodstove fire while the children are nestled in their beds, and Jason asleep beside me.

This pregnancy has been a special one, perhaps because Jason and I are planning for it to be our last, so I'm not taking much for granted.

One day in particular that I'll always remember is our big ultrasound.  We were fortunate to have my parents as well as Grandma Marion and Ann Stolberg there with us in the ultrasound room.  All of our children were there as well - Caleb, Emet, and Anna Ruth.  As usual, Jason and I were alone for the medical portion of the ultrasound and for the first reveal of her gender.  Then, we were able to bring everyone in...  The children were delighted to see our newest family member on the screen, but what I hope to never forget was Anna Ruth's happy chuckle when she saw the baby move around on the screen as she sat cuddled in Papa's lap.....or how when the technician told everyone it was a girl, Caleb's first comment in his little matter of fact voice was "Now we have two little sisters to look out for each of us...that's what I say!"

Although this pregnancy has been quite a bit more physically straining than my others, I have really made an effort to stop and enjoy the unique things my body does to nurture the baby and prepare for her birth.  Soon, we will be meeting our newest baby girl, Grace....and we are all so excited for that day.  Emet's frequent comment is "Oh, when is Gracie coming?  I just can't wait to meet Gracie."  Caleb always says, "I just can't wait to hold Gracie." And, little Anna Ruth points to her car seat, now installed and ready in the car, or her diapers...ready and waiting in Mama's night stand, and says "Baby?".

Yet for now, I am absolutely in love with watching her wriggle and squirm inside of me......and squirm she does! She has been my most active baby by far.  I can actually feel certain body parts poking about - a little bottom, knees, and maybe even her little feet.

My body is weary and ready for her to be born, but my heart is treasuring this time...and savoring these last few days of experiencing life inside of me.......

"In everything, give thanks...."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Disguised treasures...

As we prepare to welcome our fourth child into our home, my organizational nesting instincts have kicked in as usual.  Thus, here I sit, late into the night purging and filing stacks of paper. In a house with little children, there is more paper than one might imagine.....Most days, the boys go to the dining room table with several pieces of construction paper and a box of colored pens.  Time and again, they wander into the kitchen to find me and show me their creations  "Mama!!!  Look at what I've drawn!".....oddly shaped and barely recognizable pictures in monotonous colors drawn onto each piece of paper.

One would think it easy enough, given my stacks and stacks of these drawings, to keep a couple and toss the rest. But, here's my dilemma:  A mama sees so much more than those little misshapen pictures.  I see the big searching eyes behind the drawing, standing expectantly, if a little shyly, awaiting my approval.  "Mama, I made this just for you and Papa.  Do you see what I have made?  Is it special to you? Am I?"

During this stage of life, it is so easy to be overwhelmed.  I am constantly fighting the battle of little toys, shoes, clothes, books, game and puzzle pieces, and coloring supplies.  We have more "clean up sessions" than I'd like to count, and sometimes the house is still cluttered at the end of the day.  Sticky messes and spills abound, accompanied by apologetic faces and "Uh ohs".  Days full of school, play, spills, and accidents lead to several sets of clothes needing to be washed each day, in addition to the countless cups, bowls, plates and silverware we use during our meals and snacks.  Nights are rounded out by newly training "self bathers", which leads to another stack of towels used to mop up the floors after each shower or bath.  Thus, part of me wants to take the entire stack of "art" and shove it in the recycle bin, or wood-stove, whichever is closest.

The other part of me, however, hears a ticking clock.....the same clock that has tick-tocked it's way through the first six years of our lives as parents....and keeps ticking.  Tick-tock.  Tick-tock.  Time is passing....away, away.  The pitter patter of little feet quickly turns to thuds and stomps....then feet that walk away into the future that awaits them.  These little art projects that seem to come in overwhelming abundance now will begin to slow....then fade away, until one day, I will be overjoyed to receive a rare note in the mail from my child.  What seems like an endless supply of homely construction paper art, I might one day regard as treasure.  Memories will flood my heart as I look at the hastily scrawled drawing by Caleb of a Papa holding swords in both hands.....or of Emet's race track.....or of the Pooh Bear, Eeyore, and Tiger Caleb drew as a decoration for their pirate Pooh bear birthday party.  I will see the pride and eager anticipation of a little boy's heart, and I will lovingly cling to my memories.

So you see?  I can't throw away this treasure. I will attempt to file it away in binders as I can. It may be here in abundance now, seeming to choke out my very sanity as it clutters counter tops and refrigerator doors, but one day, it may be far more valuable to me than gold.

"In everything, give thanks..."  1 Thessalonians 5:18

Friday, September 30, 2011

thankful to be rich

A friend posted a thought today...."What if we woke up tomorrow morning and only had the things we remembered to thank God for today?"

In the wee hours of this morning, I lay awake in bed, waiting for sleep but having a hard time drifting there due both to the sharp little pokes, prods, kicks and nudges from the little one inside of me.  And in those moments, I was so thankful.  ...So thankful that the Creator of the Universe was hard at work inside of me, knitting together yet another precious life.  We plan for this to be our last pregnancy, so in the midst of what has been a more difficult pregnancy for me, I am trying to treasure the experience of life inside one last time.  Nothing compares.

This morning as Jason got ready for work, he helped me get out of bed to go to the bathroom, then helped me back and tucked me into our big down comforter, kissed me, then left for work. How blessed I am to be so tenderly cared for.  Later in the afternoon, we exchanged e-mails about how to approach what is normally our sacred Friday family night.  We ended up deciding to part ways for the evening, but both of us would rather have been together.  For this sweet romance, I am so thankful.

Earlier today, I picked up Caleb from Kindergarten.  There he sat next to his teacher on the curb waiting for me to come get him.  As he saw me, his eyes lit up and he seemed to forget his newly found status as a big Kinder-gardener   "Mama!" he happily cried out and came to give me a big squeeze. And my heart was thankful.

Today, I spoke with my both of my parents on the phone at one point or another.....parents who are always encouraging me, always praying for me, always helping me to live out my faith despite my struggles.  For them and the great spiritual legacy they are leaving to me, I am so very thankful.

After naptime today, Emet came downstairs and straight to the couch where I sat.  All he cared to do was snuggle next to his Mama and be held close. What a privilege to be the one he wants to hold him close.

Tonight, Jason and the boys are having a boys night at the Columbia River High School football game.  Anna Ruth and I stayed home to have a relaxing girls night.  It's been a while since I've had just her, and the only noise in the house was her little sing-song voice, babbling and singing happily away.  I couldn't understand much of what she said at all, but she seemed to be perfectly content and delighted.  We shared hot cocoa on the couch and read stories then headed upstairs for the bedtime routine she and Papa normally share.  More books were read, songs were sung in the rocking chair under the stars of her nightlight, and I held her and prayed with tears streaming down my cheeks. I asked her for a hug, and she put her arms around me and held on tight.  We rocked back and forth.....back and forth.....and she never let go.  I was so thankful to have that moment all to myself, just my little girl and I.

How is it that I am so blessed? More so, how is it that I so often fret and worry over every day life basics - houses, cars, finances, etc, when I hold a bounty of treasure in my very my heart.

If I woke tomorrow, and all I had was the things I stopped to be thankful for today...I would be ok.  I would be more than ok.  I would be rich. I am rich.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

that factory...

Thanks to the Cheesecake Factory and the Spaghetti Factory, our children now refer to restaurants as "Factories".  A typical question from either Caleb or Emet is phrased..."Can we sometime go to that factory where they serve......(insert - pancakes, ice cream, etc.)?"  :-)

I think that's called....

We shared one of those joyous family moments tonight.  I couldn't pass up recording it.

We have a copy of Lennart Nilsson's book LIFE, in which an endoscope was used to take pictures of the entire process of life's creation from the sperm and egg meeting to baby's birth.  With each child, we have used this book as a tool to teach them about the baby growing inside of Mama and to affirm the life that grows inside.

Tonight, Emet asked if we could all look at "the Baby book", as we call it, so we got down the book and turned to the pictures of the later stages of pregnancy.  Needless to say, a book like this can lead to a few interesting conversations, and although we are fairly open with the children, there is still a need to simplify the "creation process" for our young audience.

One of the pictures shows a full view of the baby inside at 26 weeks, including its gender identifiers.  One picture is of a girl, the other of a boy.  Emet innocently pointed to the girl's part and asked if that was her penis.  "No", Papa corrected, "that's a little girl."  Caleb chimed in with all of his 5 year old wisdom, "No, Emet.  I think that's called a peninsula."  :-)

Jason and I burst out in laughter, then the boys followed (not really knowing what was funny), but I think we all laughed for about 5 minutes, complete with tears running down our cheeks.  Oh to be 5 again!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

First Week of Kindergarten: Part II

How could I forget?!

Verdict #3:  "I like Kindergarten, but it's not the same as being home with Mama."

Ah, how I love that little boy!

First Week of Kindergarten

Verdict #1: Caleb's response to school:  "I like Kindergarten.  It's awesome!"

Verdict #2: Caleb is just like his Papa:  When asked to tell me about his day, his first response is..."I can't remember anything."  Then, as time goes on - details start to pop up here and there, with a few popping up several days after the fact.  :-)

Dropping him off was easy......until I started to walk away from the classroom.  Then tears, from out of nowhere, started to flood my eyes.  But, for the sake of the oncoming children and parents - I held them in.  I think Jason  felt the same way.

Here are a few pictures from his first day of school.....ever.....

Getting ready to leave the house

The family.....en route

Arriving at school

Here we are!

Looking for his name on the backpack lineup

Mama with her babies

We looked up to see Jason had made a surprise visit!! Family picture...

Facing the world on his own, with Tiny Tiger by his side...friends since birth

After his first class.  Success!!

Back at does go on...

enjoying the last bits of summer

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Today was an ordinary weekday for this Mama and her babies, except that it was a little bitter-sweet.  Today was the last day before Caleb starts Kindergarten. My first baby bird beginning to spread his wings, about to flutter out of the nest for a few hours each day.

There's nothing too abnormal in this, right?  We do it every Sunday as he goes off to his Sunday school classes.  But for me it signifies something much greater.  Today was the very last day I will have all of my children at home with me, under my constant care, without a schedule of their own.  Tomorrow begins the next 13-17+ years of Caleb's life in school.

Two little boys that have played side by side, day by day, since either of them can remember will henceforth be separated more and more over time, starting.....Tomorrow.  The years of the mighty yellow dump trucks will soon be a distant memory.  Tonight seemed especially joyful and boisterous as my two little naked boys raced around the house before their showers playing "spanking tag".  Happy giggles abounded.  Then Caleb stepped into the shower all by himself for the second time.  He's growing up.

There have been plenty of tears from my tender hearted Caleb in the past few days, likely related to school.  He says he doesn't want to be away from home, away from his Mama.  He asked me today if he would still want to snuggle with me when he was in high school.  I told him probably not, and that made him sob.  It made me cry too.

It seemed like just yesterday we were thinking ahead to when Caleb would go to school, saying "We still have a few years to figure it out."  Tomorrow.  ........It was a moment ago I contemplated the decision to lay aside my career and stay at home full time, at least until my children were in school.  And boy, did that time seem like an eternity.  Tomorrow.  Where did the time go?  Away.

My mom told me once that's the thing about time.  The days drag on, while the years slip away.  I hope I am learning.  I hope I am loving.  I hope I have absorbed every minute of every day of these precious years at home with my babies.

It struck me today, since I'm pregnant with what we assume will be our last child, that I, Lord willing, have exactly that amount of time left with my youngest....the same amount of time I had with Caleb at home.  And though some days may drag on, it will be gone......Tomorrow.

Do I regret my decision to stay at home?  Never.  You can't buy back time, no matter how much money you have....and I wouldn't trade any single minute with my son.  Before I know it, they will all be  and experiencing life on their own.  Time will disappear like water pours through my hand, and someday soon that day will be.....Tomorrow.

Sweet blessings to you, my dear Caleb, from this Mama's sad heart.  I am excited for your future and am trying so hard to have open hands.  God bless you, my dear sweet bug.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Blueberry Squicking

Yep - you read that right.....the children, Grandma Marion and I went blueberry squicking today.  As you might imagine, our adventure started like most others of the sort.  We had planned a day of blueberry picking.  Carrying their buckets, the children scampered along the rows until we finally reached our assigned rows of 26 - 28.  At first, it seemed as if each bush was laden with blueberry treasure.  However, as is human nature, after a short while of picking in the hot sun, the next row always looked more full of blueberries than the one we were on.

The boys each carried their own bucket, Emet stopping about every 20 blueberries to show us how many were in his bucket.  This year Caleb was pretty focused on making sure he filled his bucket as full as possible all on his own. Anna Ruth didn't carry any bucket but the round tummy that was quickly filling with blueberries as she went along.  All ate their fair share of blueberries, however...including Mama and Grandma Marion.

As we neared the 3 hour mark, we were all tired, sweaty and sunburned...but we picked on, knowing Anna Ruth had a limited amount of time remaining.  I looked over to check on my little blueberry muffin to see that she had changed her tactics and was now leaning over my 3 gallon bucket of blueberries eating directly from the freshly picked pile.  A few minutes later, I glanced over to see that she was no longer eating but was digging her hands into the blueberry treasure, taking little fist fulls and squishing them!  Yikes!  I was able to divert her back to the bush, then continued my picking.  Glancing over once again after a period of prolonged silence, I saw she was back at the bucket....but this time, she had tipped the almost full bucket over, spilled them onto the ground, and was now happily putting them back into the bucket.  Arg!  I went over to once again divert her and pick up the treasure.  As I was frantically picking them up, she had toddled over to another small bucket, picked it up, and had added it to my now growing pile of blueberries on the ground.  I was starting to get overwhelmed by my inability to stop the blueberry tornado.  Ah, but the fun had not yet ended....not for Anna Ruth!  I tried to heave my sore pregnant hips from their crouched position in order to physically remove her from the scene, but before I could do this, Anna Ruth had discovered the joy of blueberry stomping....yes, just like they do with grapes, but the goal here wasn't blueberry wine.  By now, I had collapsed back onto my rear (the getting up wasn't so successful) and was laughing along with everyone else.  Grandma Marion came over to help me salvage our, now twice picked crop and get the remainder into the buckets before any other disaster befell them.

All in all, we ended up with about 25lbs of blueberries and a whole ton of memories!

Goodbye little road grater and snow plow....You will be missed.

Yesterday the children and I went through all of their toys, bin by bin, until we had sorted out all of the broken toys and those that were no longer being used. We discussed how with our little house and another baby on the way, in addition to the toys they would likely receive from their upcoming birthdays and at Christmas time, we needed to declutter.  We talked about how there are many little children that are not as privileged as our family has been that would love playing with the toys they no longer used.

Caleb came downstairs with each addition to the give-away pile and explained why he was or perhaps was not going to add it to the donation pile.  At the end of the experience, we had 2 bags of broken bits and a big box of toys to donate.  All felt accomplished........that is until Caleb proudly told Papa about what they had done that day.  He announced that had had given away his road grater and snow plow.  A sad look came over Jason's face.  I know he remembered playing with the boys and the road grater and snow plow.  But, he said nothing.

Today, we went by the Goodwill to drop of our box of toys. After dropping them off, Caleb said he felt bad about himself for giving away his toys.  As I worked this through with him, he started to mention the road grater and snow plow and how much he really liked them and wished he hadn't given them away.  The funny thing is, I completely understood.  It was as if the process of giving these favored toys away was a process of saying goodbye once again.......goodbye to the two little boys excitedly awaiting Papa's return from work so they could play with their favorite cars and toys on the living room floor, which, of course, included the road grater and snow plow.  Sure, now they have moved on to excitedly await Papa's return so they can play tag, soccer or football outside....or play a game on Papa's phone...but the road grater and snow plow are no more.

I felt like weeping.  I nearly, and I'm not kidding you here, drove back through the Goodwill drop off  to see if our box was still unloaded.....tell them we had made a mistake and put a favorite toy inside.......and could we please have it back.

In the end, I decided to let it open my clenched fist and say goodbye once again, so that there would be room for the next special treasure that would take it's place.  However, in the meantime.....I can say this:  Goodbye little road grater and snow plow.  You will be missed.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gone Fishin'

(From Papa)

I decided this year to make time to take the boys fishing.  So, in May I purchased a $35 license and set it in what I thought was a reasonably safe place.  More on that later.  Advance several months to a screaming busy work schedule, social life, house remodel, wood for the winter, broken down everything...and still no fishing.  To avoid another missed chance to share the joy, this Saturday morning was determined to be THE day.  We were going fishing.  In order to make getting little boys out of bed at 0545 easier, I got them jazzed up about the whole idea and mentioned the bakery might be open before the fish were awake.  The parenting joy was in full tilt as we listened to Caleb and Emet in their bunk beds discussing the finer points of sneaking up on fish.

Early that evening I had realized that my grandpa's fishing gear and the pole he had given me were in bad shape.  A gracious coworker stayed late and we oiled reels and put on new line.  But three fishermen and two poles just wouldn't do.  So off to Bi-mart for a new rod and reel.  Even on sale, I rang up another $30.  After the kids were in bed, the preparation continued by carefully setting up the new pole, tying hooks and swivels, and getting everything into the truck.

At midnight, I thought I would look for the fishing license that I had purchased in May.  At 0130 we determined it was gone...filed, thrown out, or organized.....didn't matter, just gone.  Now fishing in the morning was a mission.

0545, dizzy with tiredness, I tucked in little sister and went to wake the boys.  Caleb greeted me with open eyes and "Papa, I've been awake."  Emet shared in my morning grogginess.  Caleb, seeing that all of the fish were going to be caught before we got to the lake at the pace that I was going, showed incredible maturity and encouragement.  He got and helped me put on my shoes and reminded us that "we're going fishing today."
Even a very tired Papa was motivated by an enthusiastic little helper.

The gate to the lake opened at 0630.  The new fishing license would have to wait until 0700.  We were not going to get the jump we were hoping for.  Even still, coffee and donuts can fix a lot of disappointment at that early hour.

The bakery was closed.          

Ok, we'll get some gas and Starbuck's coffee and wait until the store opens.  Five more dollars.

The lady behind the counter at Fred Meyer kindly explained the $20 fee that I would need to pay for the reissue of the fishing license.  We were on a mission...

License and coffee in hand, the 1979 Dodge crew-cab gassed up, and we finally head for the lake.  The recent repairs to the truck were not sufficient to keep us from spending a few minutes on the side of the road. I briefly contemplated quickly darting over and grabbing the suburban. No, we were on a mission. A few exciting backfires and rolling starts later, we finally got to the lake and pay the $10 dollar parking fee.  We walked down to the lake, each with pole in hand, and I finally felt the stress from the work week and the fishing mission start to dissipate.  Papa left the new bait in the truck. Ok, we tried the salmon eggs that were purchased before Caleb was born.  They worked.

The boys intently looked for each move of the bobber, and we grappled with three perch.  Their concentration level was not high, but neither was mine.  One for Caleb and two for Emet.

All tolled, the Ordway fishing mission cost about $50 an hour and surely sent some of Papa's brown hair to gray.  But spending special time with my boys and seeing the results causes me to think there are more missions in store.....


Sunday, August 14, 2011


(From Jason)

In the middle of getting dinner at the fair, Emet exclaimed, "Papa I've gotta poop"....false alarm #1; Stuck in traffic leaving the fair, Emet once again says, "Papa, I've got to go poop NOW" (insert crying, panicking). We drive to the nearest gas station and I rush into the Honeybucket with him (Emet officially declares "I still have to go, but I'm all out of poop") ...false alarm #2; 30 minutes later while giving Anna Ruth her bath, Emet frantically rips off his clothes and RUNS for the bathroom, poop squirting out as he goes (kitchen, bathroom floor, my foot, and last but not least....the toilet.) Thank you sweet wife for cleaning my foot while I continued giving Anna Ruth her bath.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Celebrating 10 years with my best life is beautiful

Ten years ago tonight, I married my best friend. The amazing part is, as much as I loved Jason then, I couldn't have imagined how much I would love him now.

Anyone who knows my Jason knows just what a privilege it is to be his friend.  He is loyal and honorable.....a man of his word.  He encourages and supports, yet challenges, as iron sharpens iron.  I've seen him come alongside strong men of great stature and strength, and when they falter or fear....he encourages gently as if they were a child in need of a father. And they are comforted.  His name means Healer and Hero.  He has been that to many others.  Can you imagine what an honor it has been for me to be his wife, closest friend, and mother of his children?

Ten years ago, Jason committed to love me as Christ loved the church.  No, he hasn't been perfect, no one is, but it has been a humbling experience to see this man of integrity in action and to experience his love for me.

We've learned a lot together on our journey thus far.  We've built a toolbox, and have collected a fair amount of tools which we can pull out when things need to be built or repaired. We have a long ways to go. To that end, we are ever thankful for the large network of family and friends who are walking alongside us on our journey.  What a blessing and support they have been in our lives!  And to God above who has guided and protected us each and every step of the way.........

Ten years ago, we celebrated our union on a perfect August evening surrounded by the lush gardens of my parents' home in Port Orchard, WA.  Swing music and stars filled the night air.....and dreams danced in our hearts.

Tonight, we celebrated ten years of our union on a perfect August evening surrounded by our three children (and baby girl still inside) at the Clark County Fair in Vancouver, WA.  Carnival music and lights filled the night air....and dreams danced in the hearts of our little ones....and thus in our hearts too.   We had a wonderful time together as a family.  I couldn't think of a more perfect way to celebrate.

Our life is a beautiful life, filled with so much love, joy, and life. We have been truly blessed.

 Jason and Ann....newly married

 Radiant with joy...the quads just came out to race.
 Snuggles with Mama.
 My sweet family
 10 years and he still takes my breath away
Mama with her 4 babies
 Papa and his little Ru
 My boys....side by side, as usual

 Soul deep: Emet staring at the Ferris Wheel after first learning he was 1 inch too short to ride this year
Jason and Ann....10 years married...forever in love
We were dreaming then......still dreaming now...

I love you, Jason. May God grant you to me until our last breaths on earth.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Money Hunt....

Today, I sat down with the boys to count the change in our "Family Bank", a little glass jar in which we deposit change we see floating around the house.  The money is being saved for a trip to Disneyland.  (Something tells me most families with small children have a similar jar and purpose...)

We had accumulated a total of $39.22.  When I told Caleb this put our fund total to about $175, Caleb was amazed.  I'm guessing he thought we were about ready to get on the plane!

I took the opportunity as a teaching moment and explained that while we already had airline miles and hotel points to cover our fees in those areas, we'd probably have to spend about $1000 on park entry tickets and another $1000 on food and spending.

Caleb's response was priceless:  "Wow!  Mama.....we have GOT to come up with a plan.  We need to go on a money hunt!"  :-)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Life Inside

It's 1:15 am, and I've spent the last hour sleepless, staring at the wall in our dark bedroom, Jason soundly asleep beside me.

As I lay there, I feel the kicks and squirms of the baby inside of me, and it dawns on me afresh: there is life inside of me.  A child with ten tiny fingers and toes, with a personality, spirit, and future of her own is being knit together even as I lay in my bed.  She is being knit together in my womb by the very Creator of the universe....maker of Heaven and earth!  This very child inside of me is so cared for and loved that every hair on her head is counted and loved by God himself!  Her talents and skills, He is weaving into her very being right now......because she is His design.....His workmanship.  She is being created on purpose, for a purpose.  How am I so blessed to have been chosen as a vessel for the creation of life?! Four times, I have had the honor and privilege to be part of the creation process.  Three precious souls I have come to know, love and cherish because of this.

As I lay there pondering all of this, the verse clearly came to me:  "Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16)  

I find it interesting how God uses our lives to teach us the things we need to know.   However, there it is...plainly laid out before me:  We ALL have life inside of us.  That concept has always seemed rather illusive to me, but as I lay in the dark pondering my fourth pregnancy, it seems as clear as day.  The baby inside of me is far more than just a physical life......just as my other children Caleb, Emet, and Anna Ruth are unique...each their own.  Just as I am unique and you are.  We are spiritual beings, and the Spirit of God dwells within us.  I have had the benefit of God teaching me this lesson through a physical process, but each of us is no less full of life than I.  

This child inside of me knows nothing but instinctively to allow the Creator to mold and shape her, trusting without thought.....and so too are we to be in Christ.  The process does not end at birth! We are not to be carried away by the worries of this world but are to live His purpose knowing we were created on purpose, for a purpose.

2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;  You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down,  And are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue,  Behold, O LORD, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before,  And laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;  It is too high, I cannot attain to it. 7 Where can I go from Your Spirit?  Or where can I flee from Your presence? 8 If I ascend to heaven, You are there;  If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there. 9 If I take the wings of the dawn,  If I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, 10 Even there Your hand will lead me,  And Your right hand will lay hold of me. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will overwhelm me,  And the light around me will be night,” 12 Even the darkness is not dark to You,  And the night is as bright as the day.  Darkness and light are alike to You. 13 For You formed my inward parts;  You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made;  Wonderful are Your works,  And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You,  When I was made in secret,  And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance;  And in Your book were all written  The days that were ordained for me,  When as yet there was not one of them. 17 How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!  How vast is the sum of them! 18 If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand.  When I awake, I am still with You. 19 O that You would slay the wicked, O God;  Depart from me, therefore, men of bloodshed. 20 For they speak against You wickedly,  And Your enemies take Your name in vain. 21 Do I not hate those who hate You, O LORD?  And do I not loathe those who rise up against You? 22 I hate them with the utmost hatred;  They have become my enemies. 23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;  Try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 And see if there be any hurtful way in me,  And lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139

Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Night Football Ordway Style

After a week of Jason working 16+ hour days, having him home by 6pm, eating our traditional Friday night Little Caesars $5 Hot and Ready Pizza dinner, and playing football together outside in the driveway was a lot of fun for all of us.  Everyone played except for Sampson, our cat!  Papa, Mama, and Ru Bear vs Caleb and Emet.  Greta was the referee? (sort of?) Here are a few photos from the big game...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Carnival

This morning I woke to the sound of little elephants tromping above my head.  Caleb had taken it upon himself to get Anna Ruth out of her crib when she awoke.  (This was a first.)

As I wandered into the kitchen to make a special breakfast of Belgian waffles, the troops came downstairs and went to work straight away on using ALL of their legos to build a variety of weapons (swords, axes, pistols and rifles). It has been fun to watch Anna Ruth in the past few days plant herself in the middle of all of her big brothers' activities.

After breakfast, I headed upstairs and the boys informed me that after my shower, "the carnival" would be ready.  They had been working since they awoke to set it up.  It wasn't quite ready, but I got to sit at the top of the stairs to wait.  After a few false starts, the big moment finally arrived: the carnival was open!!!

I was invited to come in and told I could look around, then I was to sit on the stools and shoot at the targets.  I needed to shoot all three targets down (Batman, Superman, and Batmite) and had unlimited chances.  There would be two rounds of the game, each with a different gun.  I had unlimited ammo and no time limit.  Oh yeah, and the game was free to play`.  (Boy, this was my kind of carnival!) The prize dispersal rules were strict:  I would get a prize for each figurine knocked down.  Caleb would choose the first prize, then I could choose the second and third.

In the end I won all six prizes, and the boys took turns taking pictures of me.  I can't say how many rounds I shot, or how many times Caleb reminded me that I needed to "cycle the action" after each shot.  A lot.

Following the game, it was time to dress up.  My options were blue bunny ears, a Larry Boy hat, or a spider man mask.  I could choose two.  I chose the bunny ears and Larry Boy hat, which I then shared with Sissy.  We got our pictures taken again, then it was on to the exhibition hall where I could look at a Lincoln Log cabin, constructed special just for me or a display of the earlier assembled lego weaponry.

Finally, Caleb announced that the carnival was over and they began the cleanup process.  Since then, there have been at least 50 arguments, several giggle sessions, a rousing game of "Narnians" outside as the boys marched with their stick swords and knives, and a sticky mess of peanut butter and honey sandwiches and spilled milk.  Breakfast dishes are still on the counter, beds are unmade, laundry remains unfolded and unwashed, and the house is a general mess.  And yet, here I sit, carving out time to capture the carnival. Overall, it's lining up to be a fairly unproductive day as far as the planner and housework tasks are concerned.  However, I'm guessing in the long run, these are the days I'll remember as being the most productive of all.