Tuesday, November 26, 2013

what helps me pray.

My feet hit the edge of the driveway and my pace quickens, inhaling cold air. My breathing steadies, matching the rhythm of my feet. I turn right and look at the house next to me as I jog past. Over the past few months I have come to be familiar with its shape, the driveway, the trees that line it...

I look to my left to the house flanking the opposite side of the street, now familiar to me as well. I continue through the neighborhood in similar fashion...taking note of every detail. The gravel patches, dips and bends, hills and cul-de-sachs. I take in familiar sounds... dogs barking, children laughing, old men muttering under their breath... the hum of leaf blowers and lawn mowers. I catalogue these visual and audible cues...placing them with their origin in my mind. I draw a picture in my minds eye... a blueprint of the area, a framework, which I add to with each new day. I list what I know about my neighbors with the things that remind me of them.

Then I pray for them, one by one.

The shy old lady to the right, check. The bachelor on the left with the BMW and girlfriend, check. the family with the angry rottweiler and soft spoken mom, check. The old man with the walker and golden retriever, check. The house that looks abandon save for the black smoke curling out of the chimney and the glow of a flatscreen, check.

Then there is the family with two teenage boys and chainlink fence, the mom with twins and the artist with lymes disease. The family behind us with two toddlers, and the one down the street with a little girl. I jog past the church in the center of the neighborhood and pray for the congregation. Past the middleschool and highschool and pray for the administration.

I continually have to rein in my thoughts, to focus my mind on prayer... it wanders so easily, but I have a job to do. I asked God to give me a heart for my neighborhood, to help me to love them more and this was His response, "If you want to love them, pray for them."

And so I pray for them every day, and I care about them more than I thought possible, considering many of them are still strangers to me. God reminds me to lift them up in prayer as I go throughout my day, through the cues all around me. When I am loading my kiddos in the car and I hear the roar of the chainsaw from the next yard over... I pray for them. When I hear the voices of little people from the other side of the trees out back... I pray for them. When I see the old lady in her yard as I drive past... I pray for her.

It works for me. It's quick and easy, and has produced so much fruit in my life. As an introvert who would be so content to spend every day, all day at home, and only invite over the same few friends for the occasional meal or cup of coffee, this gets me thinking about others, and allows room for God to work in my heart. It also gives me the sense of connection I need to actually reach out and introduce myself to the people around me. I want to know them now.

That is what I love about the Lord... when we ask Him for something, He answers. He builds bridges where there were none, and makes strangers into friends...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Campfire Party!

On Sunday we had a little family birthday party for Hunter. After two somewhat successful camping trips this fall, I thought it would be fun to have a "campfire" theme for his big day.

I had a hard time finding an opportunity to snap pictures of everything before the festivities began, but I did get a few...

I had so much fun creating little details like the campfire cake, edible "acorns", little fire lanterns for the kiddos, and birdseed covered letters... and had an even better time seeing our home filled to the brim with our wonderful family... a big thanks to each one of them for celebrating Hunter's birthday with us!

on to the next event... Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two years old...

On Friday we celebrated two years with our little boy. The morning began in the traditional way...with a birthday serenade and a small gift. We spent the day recounting when and where we were throughout the day of November 1st, two years ago. We ended the day with the good stuff... pizza, cupcakes, and presents.

I cannot believe our little guy is already two, and yet I also cannot remember a time where he wasn't with us. He is the perfect blend right now, two parts little boy and one part baby... old enough to have some independence, and young enough to still need us.

I am no Julie Andrews, but I wrote a little ditty to remember Hunter's favorite things right now...

"Roadwork", "Baby Animals", and "Ten Tiny Puppies"...
"Five Little Monkeys", and "Under Construction"...
Dump trucks and trips to the park and the swings,
These are a few of your favorite things...

Mowing the lawn with your earmuffs and daddy,
Eating your dinner and then getting cookies,
Sawing, and swinging your hammer around,
these are a few of your favorite things...

When the dog barks,
When you fall down,
When your feeling sad,
You simply run over to mommy or dad,
And then you don't feel so bad.

Did I really just spend 20 minutes writing song lyrics to a melody from the 60s?... umm yes.

Is there any better use of afternoon nap-time? ha. i think not.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

In the corner booth...

This afternoon knocked the wind out of me. We got home late from visiting a family member and the kids were restless and overdue for naps. One was teething and one had just been given four cookies before getting in the car, so he was tired and wired. As I laid little girl in bed for a nap, I heard the car alarm going off and rushed downstairs to see Hunter clutching the car key clicker, a satisfied grin on his lips. Of course the alarm made the dog start to howl and run frantically around, which of course made the baby wail from her crib where I had abruptly left her.

A few minutes later, with Hunter in bed as well, I decided to take a quick nap...recharge my battery a little. A minute later the deafening sound of a hammer-drill echoed through our duct work, reminding me that the repair men in our basement were diligently installing a new HVAC system. The drill was followed by the sound of a sledge hammer (perhaps just a hammer? who can tell?) banging the metallic surface of the duct work directly below Brooke's room. Baby cried, dog barked, and the rest is history.

An hour later finds me in the booth of a nearby coffee shop, clutching a steaming cup of decaf and a folded over edition of a parenting book from the 80s. My sweet husband saw the look of desperation (and exhaustion?) in my eyes the moment he walked in the door and promptly herded me to my car, Bible, computer, and books in hand. He knows me. He knows what I need, and the fact that sometimes I don't.

I poured over the pages of my book, looking for nuggets of wisdom and truth. I heard my head tell my heart that it was time to rest, regroup, refocus. "You have two hours so hurry up and chill out."

The irony of my good fortune- the opportunity to be alone, the husband who cares about my sanity, the free pastry on my frequent buyer card at the coffee shop- contrasted to my frantic spirit, is not lost on me. I feel guilty for even daring to say the words "bad day". I am blessed beyond compare and I know it... but lets just put it out there... being a mom is a tough gig.

I realized a few months ago that it was going to take a lot more than my good intentions to raise my kiddos. More than food, clothing, and a warm place to sleep. More than snacks and naps at the appropriate times. More than the perfect blend of outings and days at home, socialization and independent play. More than studying growth charts and mapping out milestones. More than education and verbalizing expectations. More, more, more.

What my mothering needed, needs, and will always need is the living, breathing spirit of the omnipotent God blowing fresh life into my soul every day. I need it like a cool breeze on a hot day. It is the only thing that will satisfy, clarify, and sanctify my efforts. I know this and yet my conversations with God sometimes go this way...

God: What is frustrating you, my dear?
Me: Uh, take your pick God, things are crazy right now...don't you see? Can't  you make my kids behave???
God: (Chuckles like a kind grandpa) I will take care of them, but right now we are talking about you.
Me: What about me? I am tired. exhausted. please make the dog stop barking so I can sleep.
God: You don't need sleep, you need Me.
Me: Great, I will get right on that, after I take a nap.
God: Sleep will restore your body, but I will restore your soul...

And then I give in, and then He does.

Sitting in a corner booth, at a coffee shop, with the One who has been waiting patiently all week for me to come, sit, and be with Him...

Why do I always make Him wait?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

To my blue-eyed boy...

Hey babe,

I just put you down for your nap, and carefully stepped around the trucks, cars, books and toys littering the floor in your room on my way to the door. 10 minutes ago I put you in your crib for the first time, but you weren't quite ready to go to sleep. You tapped gently on the wall, and talked quietly to yourself, knowing that one room over I could hear you. When I opened the door to tell you to go to sleep, you greeted me with a wide grin and a "hi".

You know just what to do to win me over... when I came closer to tuck you in again, you said you wanted "a kiss, a kiss" so we smooched through the crib slats with fish lips until you were giggling in delight. When I repeated it was time to go to sleep, you quickly started a new game, going over our facial features..."a ear, a ear!" you said pointing to yours, "mom-eeee a ear" you said grabbing at mine, when I agree that yes it is in fact an ear you are holding, you nod and grin as if to say, "yup, I am pretty smart", and you, my boy are right.

I am fascinated with how much you have learned in recent months...you are like a sponge. Every day you say words that I did not know you knew... you play games, read books, finish puzzles, and complete tasks that a few short months ago would have left you befuddled. I see your wheels turning when I ask you questions, and you are so excited when you know the answer. These are some very rewarding days for me as a mom...to see you begin to put together a framework for the world around you.

Over and over again, I am struck with the thought that you are just like your dad. When I married him, I hoped for a little boy with his qualities some day, and I am thrilled to see that you two are so similar. You both are some of the hardest working boys I know. From the time you wake up in the morning, you are on the lookout for jobs to do. About six months ago, you gave yourself the chore of feeding Sadie (our dog)  her breakfast and dinner. You would do it just so, exactly how you observed us doing it. Sadie has since gained quite a few pounds since you try to feed her 3, 4, 5 times a day!

Yesterday, you spent 2 hours outside with your dad, mowing the grass, blowing leaves, and cleaning up the yard. I would have thought your attention would run out, but you stayed vigilant in your tasks until dad was done and ready to come inside. You want to be just like him. I love it.

You are also stubborn, meticulous, careful, thoughtful, and helpful. You love to dote on your sister, and she admires you so much. This morning you woke her up (after I told you to let her sleep;) by rushing into her room, scaling the side of her crib, and rubbing her head. She looked up and sheepishly grinned at you as you waved and repeated "hi, hi, hi" to her. Your morning isn't complete without her company.

You are a sweetheart.

You are also a trouble maker.

Some days fly by with so much fun and laughter, while other drag a little slower while you pull out all the tricks up your sleeve labeled, "rascal". Even on those long days when I am exhausted from trying to keep up with you... you still bring a smile to my face, and a quickening to my heart.

I love you little buddy, and I am so glad I am yours.


Saturday, September 28, 2013

To my little brunette...


I cannot believe you are almost five months old. Where has the time gone? Over the past few months you have blossomed into a little beauty, both inside and out. You have a smile that spreads across your face so wide that your eyes close and dimples form on your chubby cheeks. Dad and I call it smiling with your eyes, and I hope you always grin with such enthusiasm.

You have a full, dark head of hair that has strangers exclaiming, "Look at all her hair! What a cutie!" in the grocery store, park, and playground all the time. I love your silky bob, and the way you prefer to wear it these days, bam-bam style on top of your head.

You love people and are definitely more social than your brother. He saunters away from crowds to examine things alone, you crane your neck to take in all the activity, and smile broadly whenever someone chats with you. Some mornings you will wake up and sing in your crib at the top of your lungs, and let me tell you lady, you have volume your brother has yet to achieve!

Your dad and I tell each other daily, "Just wait till she can crawl, we will hardly keep up!", because you, my dear, are a mover and a shaker. From the time you were about 2 and a half months you started rolling in both directions...not content to stay on a blanket for long. In the last few weeks, you have been getting up on your knees and rocking your little heart out...you are tiny but mighty!

As far as food goes, you started waking up often in the night about two weeks ago, so I figured it might be time for you to try some veggies to fill you up! Your first meal was sweet potato puree, and oh. my.  you gobbled it up with a huge grin! I thought one meal would suffice, but later that day at dinner you were opening your mouth so round and leaning into every bite I took, so I figured you wanted more! That was a little over week ago, and you have eaten a solid meal for breakfast, lunch, and dinner ever since.

Bedtime is usually more of a suggestion for you, and you like to be unpredictable when it comes to going to sleep. You have covered the full spectrum of sleep habits, from up every few hours, to sleeping twelve hour stretches...like I said, unpredictability is your trademark:) Rest assured, dear one, that the smile you give us when we hearken your call redeems even the most sleepless of nights!

Your personality is so life giving, full of fun and spunk, and I cannot wait to watch you, as you continue to grow into a beautiful little girl. You have blessed us in countless ways, and we thank God for you.

Love you,

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

To the little house that made us...

Six months ago we moved into a "new" home. It has been a wonderful change for our family, one that we are so glad we made. Last week we drove through our old neighborhood, reminiscing about our favorite rooms and the precious memories we have of our old house. We drove by the house slowly, admiring the work that the new owners had begun... a small rose garden off the back patio, a new decorative wall in the back yard...we craned our necks to take it all in. Then we looped back around the block and drove past again.

Today I found a post tucked in my archives that I had forgotten I had written, and it made me smile...

Written February 2013...

To the little house that made us,

Within your four walls so much life was made. From the night we arrived on your doorstep as newlyweds, to the day we crossed the threshold with a new baby in our arms, you have provided the perfect place for memories to be made. We have sanded, spackled, and painted you, driven nails into you and shingled you...we have removed some things and added other things to you... we have fixed you when you have broken, and polished you as we went.

You have been privy to laughter over dinners with friends and newborn cries in the middle of the night...to twinkle lights filling your corners in the winter, and sunshine filling your walls in the summer. Little fingers and toes have rolled, crawled, and walked all over you, while four paws followed close behind.

We purchased you as two individuals with a big dream of a life together, and are leaving you with more memories, smiles, and happiness than we ever could have imagined when we first held your keys. We opened the door that first day as a boy and girl with a new diamond ring and a few paintbrushes, and are closing the door behind us in a few short weeks as a husband and wife with a sweet boy, his furry best friend, and a new bun in the oven...

So here's to you little house, thank you for the warmth your walls provided. Although we will miss you, we are taking the very best with us to the next home we will share...

May your rooms continue to be filled with joy and love and laughter in the coming months, as a new family makes you theirs.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The sound of little feet.

There is a beautiful country song that plays in my head all the time. We danced to it at our wedding, and I strum it out on my guitar from time to time. The words are sweet and humble, a melody of remembrance and celebration for a lifetime together...

Remember when I was young and so were you
and time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I
We made love and then you cried
Remember when

Remember when we vowed the vows
and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made the start, it was hard
We lived and learned, life threw curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

Remember when old ones died and new were born
And life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
And broke each other's hearts
Remember when

Remember when the sound of little feet
was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give it up
Remember when

Remember when thirty seemed so old
Now looking back it's just a stepping stone
To where we are,
Where we've been
Said we'd do it all again
Remember when

Remember when we said when we turned gray
When the children grow up and move away
We won't be sad, we'll be glad
For all the life we've had
And we'll remember when
(Alan Jackson)

The lyrics tell a story, some of which mirrors ours, some of which differs. There are lines that resonate strongly with me now that I am a mom. On days where toys are scattered around the floor and my head is fuzzy from not getting enough sleep the night before, days where the unexpected happens and threatens to undo me... it think of the line "Remember when the sound of little feet was the music we danced to week to week", and I remember that those little feet slapping across the hardwood and creaking the floorboards above my head while I am making dinner... they are music, pure music.

And I would venture to say that the sweet sound of a toddler running around in complete abandon brings sheer joy to our Creator's ears, and in His infinite love and kindness, He allows us to have those precious moments as parents to savor and reflect on His goodness to us.

This summer has been full of those sweet, simple, good moments, both as parents and as a couple... so many refreshing times when God pulled back the heavens and we were privileged to bask in the warmth of His glorious sunshine.

I know that the soundtrack to our lives right now, baby coos and little boy laughter, will eventually run out...the needle on the record player will run off the edge and God will gently place a new vinyl on the turntable and set it in motion. It will contain excited chatter, and big kid laughter, and heavier sets of feet bounding down the stairs in the morning... and that will be glorious too, because isn't that what makes the mundane so magical? that seasons of life are ever changing, evolving, growing? And isn't that what makes God so special? because He always was, always is, and always will be the same?

What a beautiful dichotomy this life is...

Today I am enjoying the changes that this season of life has ushered in, and the constancy of a God that is always good, all the time, without fail.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


To my little girl,

If someone had told me a few short months ago that I would have a daughter right now, I would not have believed them. Throughout the time I was pregnant with you, I kept repeating,"I think it's a girl" over and over, but never really let my imagination run wild with what that actually meant. I had an inkling that you were in fact a girl, but had the expectation that you wouldn't be...and so when you came, my dear, you rocked my world.

Suddenly I held in my arms your precious little life with dark hair that swept across your forehead and arms that clung to me and eyes that implored me to love you. And I did... with a kind of love that I had never felt before... a fiercely protective and loyal love, a complex love that had me playing your future like a black and white film in my head. Your first steps, first bike ride, first date with your daddy, your prom night, your graduation, your wedding day... All of these things that I hope for your future, all of these things that I pray I will get to be in the passenger seat to experience with you. These thoughts filled my mind in the early morning hours that I spent nursing and rocking you. I was your momma, you were my daughter.

I learned from the first weeks after your brother was born, that there are few things more precious than the hours spent sitting in the darkness, rocking, singing, and praying for our family. And so that is exactly what I did when you came. During those late nights and early mornings, I prayed for you...thanking God for the sweet baby that you are and for the little girl you will grow to be.

I prayed for your childhood, that God would protect your innocence and fill your days with joy. I prayed for your adolescence, that you would feel the love of your family and the love of your creator and that His love would fill you with contentment. I prayed for your years as a young woman, that you would grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord and that His peace would fill your heart, and I prayed for your adult years, that your would have a gracious heart, a joyful countenance, and a love for people.

I prayed for your future husband...wherever he is right now. I prayed for the hands that are caring for him, for his mom and dad, for his spirit. I prayed that God would instill in him every good thing that he will need to love you and lead you. I prayed that your path to meeting him would be easy and that you will never know the pain of rejection, loss, or a broken heart.

I prayed for myself, that I would be a good mom to you. That I would be kind and loving, sweet and full of compassion. I prayed that I would be a good example to you of a godly woman, and that I would have wisdom in knowing how to raise you to have confidence and joy. I prayed that I would be full of discernment in the years ahead when we go through life's many seasons and our relationship takes on new forms. I prayed that I would know how to best love you when you are sad, happy, angry, and hurt. I prayed that you would let me be your best friend.

I prayed for your dad...thanking God for the wonderful man that he is. I prayed that he would know how to treat you, his little girl, how to fill up those places in your heart that only a father's love can reach. I prayed that he would show you what it means to be cared for, protected, and nurtured, and that your relationship with him would be one of your most valued.

I prayed for you and your brother, that God would fill your hearts with a special love for one another, and give you a friendship that you will both cherish throughout your lives. I prayed that you will be one another's greatest fans and closest companions...that you will be kind to each other and learn from one another. I prayed that all of your best childhood memories would contain the two of you together.

Most importantly, I prayed for your spirit. I prayed that in the marrow of your soul, and the depth of your heart, that you would love the Lord. I prayed that your relationship with Him would be second to none, and that you would seek Him first and always. That you would have wisdom and insight into spiritual things, and that your eyes would be open to the greatness of God from an early age. I prayed that you would love and serve Him all the days of your life...

These have been and continue to be my prayers for you, sweet one. I am so grateful that our great God saw fit to let us raise you...

I love you more than you will ever know...

your momma

Monday, June 3, 2013

Balmy Sunshine...

Tomorrow marks one month from the day that Brooke was born. We are finally beginning to settle into life as a family of four, and we are loving watching our little girl grow as her big brother dotes on her.

Last week delivered day after day of balmy sunshine, so I took advantage of the warmth and snapped a few pictures...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

What happiness looks like...

Two weeks ago we welcomed the most precious little gift into our lives, a sweet baby girl. She came as quick as can be...a few short hours of labor and she was ready to meet us. At first, we didn't really believe it, it seemed like a wonderful dream that we were bound to wake up from..."Can you believe it? We have a daughter!" we repeated over and over to each other. Then reality set in, like a warm blanket surrounding us that, yes, it was true, she was ours and it wasn't a dream... and we were smitten.

The days following her arrival have been full of all kinds of goodness... afternoon naps, big brother kisses, dimpled baby cheeks, and visits with friends and family. We have been blessed beyond measure with these two little ones of ours, and we cannot help but fall more in love with each new day...

Brooke Adeline, born May 4th 2013 at 3:38am, 7lb 9oz, 20 inches

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

To my little boy with chubby cheeks.

I never grow tired of watching you...you inspire and motivate me every single day.

Yesterday your tiny little feet motored across the hardwood floor of the living room without any help. After months of toying with the idea of walking, you decided it was time. Your happy grin and delighted little giggles told us that you were just as proud of yourself as we were.

When dad came home, you were quick to show him your skills, and I think I saw a tear in his eye as he whispered in my ear, "Can you believe he is ours?"

You are a little taste of heaven my love, and I cannot believe we get to raise you. God is so good.

Friday, January 18, 2013

all the pretty colors.

When my sister and I were wee little things, we went to a preschool that used the Montessori method of teaching. It is basically a teaching style that combines the use of fine motor skills and organizational exercises to produce children that are militant like in their need for order.

Activities that included things like using an eye-dropper to place a single drop of water on each little suction cup on the underside of one of those soap holder thingy-s (you know, the kind with millions of itty-bitty suctions). My sister and I still joke about the ways that our personalities were shaped by the education of our formative years...and how we each have residual effects (mostly good, hehe) of those painstaking little exercises...

So, naturally, I was delighted when she gave Hunter a "Montessori style" gift this year for his birthday. A box full of simple, inexpensive educational activities to help him become just like his momma (basically an organizational freak=).

Tomorrow, Hunter's buddy Declan is celebrating his first birthday, so I decided to make him a set of these wonderful little educational toys! Everything you need to make these treasures can be found at your local dollar store, and the entire gift can be made in under $8!!

To make your own little box of goodness you need to purchase the following:
A Plastic Shoebox
A bag of decorative rocks
A package of pom-poms
A package of balloons
Ice trays
Colorful little bins

The first activity I labeled "Moving and Sorting"with instructions, "Mix all the pom-poms together and then sort them back out, each to their own basket." These adorable little containers came in a four pack, so all I had to do was empty my pom-pom package and pick out the right colors.

The tag on this one states, "One at a time...take them all out and put them each back, or move from one tray to the other". I think this one is pretty self explanatory:)

This last activity, labeled, "Soft and Hard, Heavy and Light", helps kiddos to recognize the difference in how things feel when held and compared. The two red balloons are stuffed with the decorative rocks (heavy & hard), while the orange ones are stuffed with more pom-poms (soft & light), and the blue ones are filled with play dough (heavy but soft).

I put them all inside the box with their proper labels and wrapped them up for the party tomorrow=) now Hunter and his buddy will be the most organized little men around!

(Thanks Nicole for this awesome gift and idea...you know me so well;)