Wednesday, November 30, 2011

decking the halls

 quietly, unspoken dread filled my heart when I thought about decorating this year.
another year, another tree in our tiny rented condo.
i thought if I had to decorate against a backdrop so not me one more time, I might implode from creative frustration. 
but the time had come, and I knew we needed to...for the kids.
and wouldn't you know...
it was the 'fun-est' year ever decking our halls.
ugly mirror and all.

 we were completely unprepared for how ecstatic the kids would be...the whole time
the kids went diving into bins pulling out tinsel and ornaments...aron and I could have sat back and let them do all the work!

But then there were several, several broken bulbs!
and rather than hang ornaments from the tree, judah insisted on hanging ornaments from other ornaments.
"I hold on TIGHT" he said (after flipping over the ladder into the tree). mercy.

We were so excited to pull out everyone's stocking...

but then...Belle found an extra stocking at the bottom of a bin, pulling it out exclaiming, "Is this the baby's stocking?!"
Aron and I jumped to our feet, excited and laughing and in disbelief. I have been looking for several weeks for the perfect stocking for baby girl, to no avail. I had completely forgotten that I purchased this one on clearance last year...for one day. After looking it over, we all agreed this was the PERFECT stocking for our baby now 5 socks dangle from our hearth (oh so unattractive as it is). aron is ready to choose a name so I can get to work embroidering! I can't take that kind of pressure, though! Once I stitch that name, we're not going back. So I'm doing my best to persuade my husband that I will have plenty of time this winter or next to etch her name in our traditions.

We tried to get a picture with all 3 of our babies...which was completely and entirely impossible with as crazy hyper as they were:

i give up!

how about i tickle you instead?!

we filled out hearts with the best of the christmas song and remembering and laughter and shimmering smiles by glowing tree
and pumpkin cookies...lots of pumpkin cookies.
do you see that empty plate in the center of our table?
there were layers of the moist delicacy for our decorating snacking pleasure.
every last one...gone! (i think the fresh pureed pumpkin took them to a whole notha level of sinfulness)
sorry, Santa, maybe next year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

sleep in heavenly peace

With all the space of a big bed, sweet Belle finds herself crowded no matter where she positions herself... 

It's a good thing she tolerates (and secretly enjoys) her bubby's snugglely ways. Cause he can't get close enough when its time to sleep.
The kids have been sleeping with the el cheapo stuffed pig & unicorn they won at the county fair lately...according to Belle "because every time I look at my unicorn it reminds me of the fair, and I feel happy!"
 Sweet fingers embracing enchanted memories.

 Speaking of sentiment and fingers embracing sweet memories...
I keep seeing this photo of 2 day old Judah and finding myself unable to grasp its about to happen again. 
 The welcoming committee is growing ever more excited too! They did such a good job with baby Judah, and now he will be joining them in ushering in the joy of another life!
Infact, this morning, Judah was cuddling with my belly, gently stroking it and rubbing his face on it, when I asked him what he thought we should call baby sister?

To my surprise he answered "Baby_______"...
A name Aron and I have had on hearts for a girl middle name since before we knew a little lady was growing inside. But we have been careful not to speak much of names around the kids until we know for sure what she will be called.
Perhaps it was a God inspired moment
(heaven knows we struggle with indecision in the naming department).
We shall soon see...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

days like these

 days like these nourish the soul.

quality time is my love language through and through.
so if you speak in moments and presence and life lived out together, no matter how simply,
you awaken a language native to my heart.

the most beautiful songs of worship i think I have ever heard,
in subtle christmas flavor,
have been working themselves out in husband's heart,
flowing up and around and canopying our moments.
he revisits them tonight, and i wish i could bottle them up and share them with you.

do you see it?
its the moment. and i want to share it with you too, because i love you so.
(assuming you're one of the dear friends/family that keep up with us here...but if I don't know you personally, I'm pretty sure if I had the chance to know you I'd love you too, special as we each are to Him).

we savored a humble meal, sloppy joe's - a homemade recipe - and diced garlic potatoes.
but we enjoyed it like the best strip steak you've ever tasted. you should have heard husband's growns,
"Hun! This is amazing. Write this one down. This has got to be the recipe you use from now on!"

after second servings and "I could eat this all night!",
aron spotted brown sugar and butter laid conspicuously on the counter.
"Babe, are you making cookies?!"
I answered, "Yep! Oatmeal chocolate chip."
"Can we rent a movie?" his most favorite relaxation activity.
"This is the BEST day. AND Thanksgiving is THIS week! (insert very masculine, manly squeals of excitement)"

little helpers paraded in the kitchen, bringing aprons and dragons and germ filled fingers digging in delicious dough (it seems our bodies would know a holiday is coming, and hence it is now time for the four of us to come down with a cold...and we have been so healthy now for weeks! hopefully with a good night's rest and our super vitamins, it will be short lived!)

belle's horse little voice excitedly repeats ingredients, and she cannot help but lick every measuring spoon she touches, despite my pleas to keep her germies to herself!
judah skips the spoons and goes straight for the bowl, wedging himself behind and around his sister for the best seat in the house.

12 minutes later 
cookies - still warm and gooey - and ice cold milk
join Polar Express to make a moment in the hearts of my little ones.
blessings and good gifts poured out and overflowing.

i hope years from now when they're far from my arms,
curled up with a warm cookie and glass of milk,
a familiar song will play in their hearts:
mommy's love and daddy's art echoing in moments and memories
too numerous to replay in one sitting but all flooding back in a bite. 

and for my daddy:
you would be so proud of judah-man, helping aron to grill burgers the other night, representing our bucks in full gear!

Thursday, November 17, 2011


When big sisters have a day off school, you never know what kind of fun the morning will bring.

Her imagination is way cooler than mom's.
 Who wouldn't want to spend the day riding their sweet horse, Sapella?
 (wild man insists on putting his own undies on now...often inside out)
 Steady now, Sapella, and I will feed you a carrot.
 I think the kids finished off half a bag of baby carrots along with 2 whole apples playing horse...and all their idea too! I may be using this trick next time we're having some resistance eating our fresh veggies!
 More carrots - these are the lunch portion they divvied up.
 Judah couldn't decide if he was a cowboy or a horse

 Who miraculously turned into cheetah cubs.
oh what fun!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


I felt my own lungs collapse and my heart sink heavy when I saw my little boy, back to me all hunched over and struggling. I scooped him up and seconds later had him upside down, beating his back hard, "Are you okay? Can you breathe?" I turned him right side up, and his panic and silence and color told me my fears were confirmed. Something was lodged in his windpipe, and I had no idea what. Back upside down, beating and praying, and beating. I couldn't see his face and I wanted to so badly. So I turned him back up and checked again. Nothing. No air, no sounds, no breathing. Just pure fear on sweet baby face. I thought about our neighbor, a paramedic, should I run to his house? No, no time for that. And they had just moved, yesterday. No time to call Aron, no time for the ER. I prayed prayers with no words, only groans and pleads and Jesus help me. I turned him over and beat, and beat so hard my heart broke because I knew I was hurting him. My mind raced a thousand thoughts, but the only one I can remember is "Is my baby going to die in my arms right now? Are these my last moments with him alive? NO! Please, God! NO! Save him!" He gagged and let out a half-cry, and I thought maybe it dislodged, so I turned him up to check. But he still couldn't breathe. Again, over he went, upside down, and after an eternity of my own heart standing still, he started to gag and cough. He must have swallowed the object, because it never came out. He was coughing up blood, and the wave of relief quickly crashed into panic as i wondered what in the world he could have swallowed and did he sever arteries or veins, and was my baby now going to bleed to death from the inside as the object made its way down his esophagus?

We wept, and he told me over and over again, "Scared! I choked. Scared. Scared. I choked" He rubbed his face all over mine and the more I cried, the more he cried, so i tried to hold back the tears and shaking so he could settle down. We knelt in the corner at the toy basket where he was playing; I needed to know what he had just swallowed to figure out if we needed to go straight to the ER. Two small, half eaten gobstoppers lay there. I asked him if this is what he was eating...did he find candy and eat it? He nodded yes. I remember the Gobstoppers from Halloween night. The kids had opened them when going through their stash, but Aron took them away & threw them in the garbage...perfect size as they are to lodge in tiny tracheas. The kids must have dropped a few out of the box into the toy basket before daddy stole them away.

Not fifteen minutes later we welcomed into our home new friends from a far away land, Africa, a world apart. A tumor that is unrelenting, taking over the face of our sweet friend, has brought her here, away from her children, away from her husband. She seeks healing, but after 8 months of time in the states, the  treatments aren't working; not quickly enough. She has nothing here: no family, no distractions, no money, only hope. And her sister, a Sister of the catholic church, to help care for her. When she was stronger, she used to walk to our church to pray. Aron found her there in the dark one afternoon. Alone, asking God to heal her. He knelt and joined her in prayer, and in doing so, a bond of trust was formed. She calls him now, almost every day, never talking more than a few minutes - Aron's Ebu is terrible, and her English isn't all that great - but I think just hearing a loving voice brings comfort.

I know some special ladies with great big hearts, full of God-Love, and when they heard the story of our friend, they jumped on the opportunity to help supply her with resources to meet some of her physical needs. I stuffed their love and sacrifice into a card today, and I could barely hold back the tears as I thought of the reality that these women were giving food and clothing and a drink of water to Jesus in their gift to this woman who is surely the least of these.

Not long after dinner and a short visit, Aron drove our friends to their temporary housing, and I prepared the kids for bed. Now they sleep, and I tell you, I just came from their bed...I had to pull myself away. I hovered over them both, one at time, back and forth between them, breathing in their God-breath, his life filling their lungs. And I prayed that one day his life would fill their hearts. I remember when both were just born. I would put my nose and my mouth right up to theirs, and I would breathe in as they exhaled, hoping to catch a scent of the divine, his gift of life so fresh in their lungs. And I'd swear I could smell heaven...and tonight, I think I caught a whiff of it once again.

A child yet to breathe her first grows within, her presence now undeniable to the eye. And an equally precious child lays her head on pillow, begging for God to see her plight and heal her disease. This life doesn't make sense so often. And it bleeds beauty and tragedy and triumph and defeat. And each of us, a tree in the story about the forest (as Donald Miller says), lives one more day to grow and stretch root and bear fruit and wave gloriously in the wind of his presence, weaving in and out among us. Until the day when heaven breaks open and we see in full the story unfolding from breathtaking beginning to glorious never-ending. Our Story Writer wiping every tear, making all things new and beautiful, in his perfect time.

i don't understand our fragile lives, but I do know this:
our pain will be worth the wait of his final resolution.
and i can hardly wait to see Him face to face.

until then, thanking Him for one more night with my children and husband,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

mornings with judah

a little boy sleeping in BIG boy undies, waking up after 12 hours DRY, makes a mommy very happy.
(our last potty training hurdle...reprogramming judah into believing he CAN go potty with clothing on. the boy has to strip stark naked: no shoes, no socks, no, to be able to go. this is very time consuming when we're not at home!)
what? its thursday? i go see my friends!
 happy day!
silly man
did I mention instead of "mom" he's been calling me "Darling"? 

cherishing this time, undivided and focused, with judah.
before we get to share our love with one more!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

A week ago

a week ago, I sat down after an exhausting shift and needed to write. it was long past a safe hour to be writing (some days I look back at what I've written and make myself promise to never publish a blog after a certain hour when good judgement, discreteness, and proper grammar are tucked safe in bed). so I saved a draft and decided this was just for me.

but after returning home a week later, and experiencing all the deeper last friday's emotions, I decided to pull up the unpublished post. perhaps God knew I'd need these words today. and how God-like, that though I didn't know it when I wrote this post, Aron was assigned this topic of care to preach on this weekend. his sacred echos are everywhere, when we still ourselves.
i worked today, and most shifts i find myself diving head-long into such broken lives and broken hearts, i come home heavy in the chest. my week is insulated and cozy, busy raising right two children, feeding my husband his meat and potatoes, and if he's lucky, bread to boot. but fridays are real, and they are raw, cutting me to the heart. i think God wants it that way.

the Lord has been flooding our lives with the hurting and sick: sick of heart and sick of body and sick with sin and self and pain. and the demands on our finite resources can feel overwhelming, so we give what we have, do our best to point them toward the Healer. offer prayers in faith and a beating heart that hurts alongside theirs, struggling as it is to just keep pumping life. some days we wake to find we are the hurting, sick of heart and sick of self. and in these moments we are finding his grace sufficient, his love enough for one more day. and his children, alongside of us offering love and forgiveness and truth - are life-giving like the leaves that paint bright the fall-gray sky.

not long ago, my husband reminded me that Jesus thrice asked Peter to feed his sheep, to care for his flock. jesus himself equated our care of the hurting and hungry, imprisoned and sick with our treatment of God. and so this calling on each us of to care for one another, it is serious and sacred, and I must say of so many of you, that you do it so well. my family and i have known first hand your cups of water, mercy to parched hearts, your feeding and clothing and pouring out of self for our sake. Jesus knew of the wolves that would come and that life's storms would threaten to rip us one from another, tear us to pieces at times if it weren't for each other. and so we were created for this - me for you and you for me, us for Him. a beautiful web of communion and intimacy, made stronger by our vulnerability. we share with one another our hurts and our needs, trusting our name and our concerns are safe on another's lips. and as we do, a culture of authenticity rises. where real people with real problems confess and confide - and love each other anyway.

abiding trust ties hearts one to another as we mutually expose what lies inside (though oft a painfully difficult process), and authenticity becomes the dialect of the land. true intimacy soon follows, its partakers finally experiencing a taste of community in its intended glory.

i can't speak for you, but as best as I can interpret my own heart, I was made for this: for intimacy with my Maker and intimacy with his creation. the path toward such beautiful relationship with God and with man is paved with shortcomings and confessions, honesty and affirmations, selflessness and grace, forgiveness and acceptance, and over all: love. In my own fragility, I fear I am not capable of this, but praise be that:

His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. (2 Peter 1:3).

and so it is with his power that i will wake tomorrow and offer my heart to him - and to you, flawed as it is. and for just one more day, i will walk by faith when the road ahead is dimly lit and unyielding. i will drink of mercy, of forgiveness, of grace to try again. and i will offer you the same. for he who has been forgiven much, loves much. 
humbled to journey with you,

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat 2011 - Come along with us?

Mmmm...we started the morning off with pumpkin pancakes (they were delicious...I just added 1/3 cup of pureed pumpkin, 1/2 teas cinnamon, sprinkle of nutmeg to my normal pancake recipe...oh, and added one less tbsp of oil than normal).

 belle had to scarf hers down so we could get her dressed for her halloween party/parade at school!
 meanwhile, judah picked out his toys to take to miss alyssa's house to play while mommy helped at sis's party! kissing the orca & shark (this IS the same Orca my husband was singing about if you stuck around for the bonus ending of the above video!)
 Kindergarten Halloween Party!

 The costume parade
 Ariel and her friendly shark

 What a lovely ariel she was!
 Sweetest little shark you've ever met!

 Flexing his shark muscles...accompanied by Ariel
 Oh so fierce!
 "Here, Judah, I'll hold your fin!"
 "I think NOT!"
 "How about I eat you instead?!"
 Shark attack!

 "TRICK or TREAT!!!" they both exclaimed!
 "MOMMA! Look at ALL my candy!"

 fuzzy family pic...thank you broken auto focus. 

 Its a good thing we live with a muscle man, because that little shark weighs more than he appears. Ten minutes of toting him around, and my arms were jelly!

A "BOO"tiful time!