Tuesday, July 31, 2007

What's In Your World?

This past Saturday, Chris and Jacob went on a trip to deliver school supplies to Hands of Hope for children. I was excited for Jacob to go - and he was excited, too! He has become increasingly more aware of the world around him. He's noticed that there are some people who are not as well off as he is; and he feels compelled to do something about it. Several months ago he was talking to me about this and decided that he wanted to set up a table in our front yard with a sign attached that said, "Whoever needs money, come over here". He was planning to empty his train bank and give all his coins away. Chris and I commended his attitude, but then told him there were ways to give to make sure he was not exploited in the process. So on his trip, Jacob took some goodie bags that he handed out to the kids he met. He came home exhausted, yet thrilled that he had been able to share his life with the children. He has a broader understanding of the world he lives in than he did before. And a better thought as to where his place in this world is.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

M&M Woman!

At lunch, Chris started throwing out some big words at the kids. "You're feminine!" he said to Savannah. She wasn't sure how to take this until I explained to her that meant that she was a girl. "You're masculine!" he told Jacob. Jacob, using his 6 year old reasoning skills, figured that if feminine was for girls, masculine was for boys. Jake then proceeded to tell the table that he was masculim and Mommy and Savannah were meminine. Savannah, all huffy, declared that Jacob, Daddy, Eli, and Seth were all masculo, but she herself was eminem!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

A Hot Date

If you read marriage enrichment books or go to marriage/family seminars, one of the things you hear that you have to do if you want your marriage to succeed is to go on dates regularly (suggested once a week). That would be great! But I wonder how many of those authors/teachers are actually on a budget like ours and would have to pay a babysitter to watch 4 kids plus whatever we do on our date. We consider ourselves lucky if we can get a date once a month!! I started thinking, "Man, does that mean that all those marriages 100 years ago were deficient because they (most likely) didn't go on dates once a week?" And that brought me to the conclusion that it's not the date that's so important - it's the quality communication that so many marriages don't have or make time for that is so important. Chris and I purposefully talk about issues, share dreams, and discuss goals. We work together to stay connected mentally, spiritually and emotionally during these busy days of child-rearing. And our relationship has grown deeper and better in spite of our lack of weekly dates. We did get to go on a fancy dinner date this week, and boy, was it fun! But I am so glad that I don't have to wait for these dates to be able to connect. It is a lifelong daily journey of learning, living and loving!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

I'm the Aunt of my Nephew...

I was able to keep my 10 month old nephew for the day! As I held him this morning, I gazed into his eyes, and was struck by the thought that I am a part of this little boy's life! He's the only baby of Chris' and my siblings, so he's the very first little baby that I'm related to that I didn't give birth to! Although I saw him once at Christmas, this was the first "long" time I got to spend with him. It was a sweet, special time of bonding. He and Seth are only 3 weeks apart in age, so they will be buddies as they grow up. Seth sucks his thumb and doesn't use a pacifier. Enter the passy-sucking cousin and now it's a whole different story! They spent all morning chasing each other on hands and knees swapping binkies as fast as they could! At lunch, they each thought the other's bottle/sippy cup looked better than their own. This afternoon, as they threw the refrigerator ABC magnets onto the floor, they each wanted the alphabet letter that the other one had. He is such a fun, handsome little boy; I am thrilled that he is my nephew and I am his aunt!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

"Picking" a Bear

Savannah was so excited to go to her best friend's birthday party today. The party was at Build-A-Bear; Savannah's never been there before. I explained that she'll watch teddy bears get made - and she'd get to pick one out, too. She was thrilled! On the way into the mall, I started to review "birthday party behavior" with her. "Make sure you tell her 'Happy Birthday', and if you don't know the other girls you can tell them your name and be friends with them, and say 'Thank you for inviting me to the party', and be helpful and sharing,..." Savannah jumped right into the spirit of good manners and birthday parties, "If one of the girls doesn't have any cake I can share my frosting with her, right Mama? And we don't pick our noses at birthdays!" Right, Savannah. I think you've got the idea!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Beware of Sminkers and Drokers

I've spent most of the day at the hospital. My husband, Chris, knew he needed to schedule gallbladder surgery, but just hadn't gotten to it yet. Well, after being up all night with increasing pain, he told me he needed to go to the ER this morning. He's already had a procedure where he had a tube down his throat to clean out his bile ducts, and hopefully tomorrow he can get rid of that pesky gallbladder. The kids spent the day at the church daycare (which I'm so grateful for!). Chris has been on some pretty strong pain medication, bless his heart. This morning the nurse was going through the medical history form, asking all kinds of questions, and Chris was getting a little loopy from the medicine in the IV. She got to the part where she asked Chris if he smokes or drinks. Chris slurred, "No. I'm a pastor. That's why I don't smink or droke." I nearly fell out of my chair, my side was hurting so bad!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Hour of Truth

What is it between the hour of 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. that turns sweet children into shrieking monkeys and hyenas? At 4:00 I begin to think about fixing supper, getting the living room cleaned up for the night, putting the final touches on any on-going projects. Suddenly I am ambushed by a smelly leaking diaper running down the hall, baby eating crumbs under the table, the 4 & 6 yr. olds playing house hide-and-seek. I manage to get a pot of water on to boil by 4:30. At 4:45, the water is boiling over, the phone ringing, a smelly leaking diaper crawling down the hall, and the 2, 4 & 6 yr. olds are wrestling on the living room floor. At 4:55, noodles are finally in the pot, the baby is howling in the pack-and-play, the 4 & 6 yr. old are throwing all the toys from the living room into a bedroom, and the 2 year old wants to sit on the potty. At 5:05, "Daddy's home!" The wild animals turn back into little children, running and crawling with smiles to meet him at the door. In 5 more minutes I have the noodles on the table and the sauce heated up. The table is set, four precious heads are bowed for the blessing. My eyes meet my husband's. He'll never know how close he came to take-out!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A "Rose" by any other name...

Names are funny things. Even before you meet someone face to face, you get an idea of who they might be because of their name. We think of Jane as plain, Billy Bob as a country bumpkin, and Elvis as the king. Names are very important. They define and shape what we think of ourselves. The first word a baby recognizes is his own name. We spent a lot of time thinking about the names of our children before they were born. We wanted to make sure that there weren't any obvious horrific nicknames associated with the name, that the initials didn't spell anything freaky (like R.A.T. or D.E.D.), and that the meaning behind the name in question was good. I felt that perhaps the "biggest" responsibility I had as a parent came at the beginning of my baby's life in giving him his name. I hoped he would like it. I thought it would grow well from childhood to adulthood. And I knew we had prayed about what name to give him. As I watch my children grow into their names and see their personalities developing, I know that the name choices we made for each of them were guided by God. I can see how the meanings of their names will be a help to them as they discover who they are, the world they live in, their place in this world. So that as they leave their mark on this world, their names will give glory to God. "Choose a good name/reputation over great riches, for being held in high esteem is better than having silver or gold (Proverbs 22:1)."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Like Father, Like Son

Jacob was hovering around the church kitchen as the ladies were preparing supper for VBS. One of the ladies told Jacob that he looked just like his daddy. Jacob responded matter-of-factly, "That's because we use the same shampoo."

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lip Smackers

The sweetest feeling on earth is to receive a kiss from a baby! Seth has just learned how to give kisses, and boy, does he like to give them away! His wide open mouth with drool streaming down his chin heading straight for my mouth; he is not to be deterred. I try to get him to kiss my cheek, but no, he has learned how to kiss, and he is going to do it right! Seth will not stop at one kiss, but keep going until he is either distracted or laughs. After I mop my face off, I give him a big hug and he squeezes right back. Babies and children love to love. They teach me how to love. With abandon, no holds barred, giving all and expecting nothing in return, with complete trust, and utter disregard for what anyone else thinks. As adults, we have figured out that sometimes when we love, others will hurt or mock us. Our love is incomplete. But if we open our hearts to God's love, he will make our love perfect. "We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in Him. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them. And as we live in God, our love grows more perfect...Such love has no fear because perfect love expels fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of judgment, and this shows that His love has not been perfected in us (1 John 4:16-18)"

Monday, July 9, 2007

Having cake and eating it, too!

Have you ever noticed how you eat? Do you catch a little of everything on your fork and let all the flavors meld together in one bite? Or do you eat a bite of this then a bite of that? I'm one of those wierd people who eats all of one thing and then moves on to the next. And I always save the yummiest pile on my plate for last. My husband eats the best first, but I like to get the "yucky" over with and leave the table with the good taste in my mouth. So if we're having fried chicken, green beans, mashed potatoes, and mac & cheese for supper, I'm going to eat the beans first and finish with the mac & cheese! The only thing that my system doesn't account for is a big family of hungry children! If one of the kids wanders over at a church dinner and asks to sit in my lap and eat off my plate, what's left on my plate is the ambrosia salad and coconut pie! Now I will sacrifice anything for my children - I love them with all my heart - but if I had only foreseen this coming, I could have switched my eating habits and eaten the dessert first!

Friday, July 6, 2007

Hide and Meep

I hung up the phone and went to check on Elijah and Seth in their room. Seth was sitting nicely on the floor chewing away on his board book. Elijah was nowhere in sight. "Eli", I called, "where are you?" "I wight heah", came a muffled voice from under his bed. "Come out, Eli. What are you doing under there?" I said. As he wiggled out from under the bed, I could see that he had taken all his clothes off. "I meeped in mine mants." Ahh. So that would explain why he was in his birthday suit hiding in the best place he could think of! Clearly, we have more work to do in the potty-training area! I can't help but think how human his reaction was...after all, the very first man and woman on earth hid after doing something they knew they shouldn't. Silly, ain't it, to try to hide from God? "Nothing in all creation can hide from Him (God). Everything is naked and exposed before His eyes. This is the God to whom we must explain all that we have done (Hebrews 4:13)". I'm not perfect - as a human, I have tendencies to try to "hide" when I've sinned by blaming others, pretending it didn't happen, justifying what I've done, or "covering" it up by pouring on the kindness. But I've found that the best reaction when I've done something wrong is to quickly own up to it and ask for forgiveness. And you know what? God always loves and forgives.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rocket's Red Glare

Jacob was being the big brother, telling Savannah and Eli all about the 4th of July. "...and when it's dark we'll watch fireworks, and eat popcorn and drink drinks because we always eat popcorn when we watch the fireworks..." I had to smile because I hadn't realized that he remembered that part of our 4th of July celebrations. But it's true. That's a tradition from my childhood that I've carried on into our family now. We have to eat popcorn when we watch fireworks, otherwise it's not quite the full 4th of July experience. Family traditions are good. Traditions make the holiday/experience/celebration much more memorable and meaningful. Whatever it is that your family does every July 4th, do it with gusto! "During these festival days each year, you must explain to your children why you are celebrating. Say to them, 'This is a celebration of what the Lord did for us when we left Egypt.'...After all, it was the Lord who rescued you from Egypt with great power (Exodus 13:8-9)."

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Mudpie Heaven

I glance up just in time to see Eli smear a big handful of sand all over his chest. He grins and goes back to stomping in the puddle he just made by pouring Savannah's bucket of water out. Savannah runs back to the lake's edge to refill her bucket. Jacob is in the water with Chris, playing shark while his big black inflatable ring helps him feel brave. Seth takes it all in while he downs a bottle of apple juice sitting in the shade of his stroller. The innocence of children discovering the world they live in. The head-to-toe discovery of dirt, water, sand, rocks and all the wonderful ways to play with them. Creative juices are flowing...artwork and architecture are the result. So bring on the dirty clothes (shout it out!) and the grimy hands (lots of wet wipes). This is the life!

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Fingernail Reflections

I had painted my toenails while I was watching the NASCAR race. (Yeah, I know that sounds redneck...what can I say?) Savannah walked in the room and said, "I can smell that you did paint nail polish." She has a nose like her father - they can sniff out odors that no one else can smell. Savannah asked if I could paint her toes as well. I asked her what color she wanted; she decided to have red, "just like you, Mommy". After her toes looked like little strawberries, she asked if I could put "paint nail polish" on her fingers, too. I explained that if she had polish on her fingernails, she had to leave it on - not pick it off like the last time. She said, "Okay. Can you paint your fingers, too, so we can look the same?" After the fingers matched the toes, she followed me around the house so that we could be doing the same things together. I realized all over again how much she looks up to me, watches everything I do, and learns from how I live. Granted, she will have other influences and will eventually make her own lifestyle choices. But for now, I am the one that is imprinting on her heart how to be a lady, wife, mother. That's scary - how can I make sure I'm teaching her right? I get guidance from the Bible. "...The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands I am giving you today. Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are away on a journey, when you are lying down and when you are getting up again (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)".