Thursday, December 27, 2012

Simple Things

I'm blogging from my parents house this evening. Our house along with many other houses in Little Rock are without power in this below freezing weather. We are fortunate this evening. 

Ben is sick. I hate sickness. It puts this dark cloud over everything. The good thing is that he really has been a trooper and God has given me a lot of grace for him since being sick over Thanksgiving. 

The power went out around 11 pm on Christmas Day for us. We spent that night and the following day in a house around 57 degrees. Maybe to some people that's not too bad, but for us little Arkansans we were COLD! The difficult part was dealing with a one year old who doesn't understand that getting into the fireplace is dangerous. Also the fact that Ben was sick on the couch and the kids didn't have much to do. We were burning through our firewood like crazy. The plan was to somehow go out and saw up our fallen branches in our yard and use those for kindling. Thankfully, however, Ben's parents called us around 3 in the afternoon and told us that they had power. If we could get out of our house in all the snow then we could spend the night with them. 

Praise the Lord! 

Then Ben became the trooper and moved the branches from our driveway. Thankfully a guy was working on fallen branches with his chainsaw just down the street and he came and made it a lot easier on us. (I don't know if we even had a saw... what were we thinking?!) 

Last night we spent at Ben's parents house with another family. That's what I love about Ben's parents, they are some of the most hospitable people I have ever met. I hope we are like them someday. The next day they found out that several other friends with little ones were also without power (and probably freezing) so they invited them as well. I soon found out that my parents had just gotten power and we decided to come here since there was a bit more room. 

I totally did not mean for that story to last this long. All that to say, here we are. Grateful to be in a warm house. 

What have I learned in all of this adventure? 

We are extremely dependent on electricity. Frighteningly dependent. I can't tell you how many times I went into a room, flipped a light switch and though, oh yeah, we don't have power. Arkansas houses are not built to be warmed by a fire. Open floor plans and vaulted ceilings do little to keep heat in a concentrated place. 

Sometimes the simple things are good. It was so quiet. There was hardly any noise. The goals of the day were to keep warm, feed ourselves and just stay alive in general. Survival mode was in full swing. When the kids went down for naps Ben and I read a book by the fire (I read to him since he was ill). 

So many times I think we as Americans are very "plugged in" people. We have our smart phones, our laptops our iPads ... we have TV's and computers and so many screens that we forget about the real life all around us. I fear that my children will grow up so attached to and obsessed with screens that they will miss the beauty of God's beautiful earth all around them. 

I want my children to be in awe of sunsets, to notice birds and squirrels in the yard. I want them to point out pretty clouds or trees and just to notice things. The other morning in order to keep warm I washed all of our dishes by hand. I had forgotten to run the dishwasher before we lost electricity and thankfully our hot water heater still worked well. I looked up through my kitchen window and saw the bare tree limbs with ice covering them. They were beautiful. The sun was shining on them and they were waving and sparkling. I called Levi to come and see. We sat there for a few moments just on the kitchen floor, looking up at the sparkling trees. 

I wonder how many times I am looking at a computer screen and miss my children's smiles. I wonder, when they think of me, do they picture me checking my phone? I'm not going to drop electronics all together, no, they are a vital part of our culture. But Lord, help me to always be keeping that in check. 

Thank You Lord for these lessons. You are good. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Letters to Littles

Dear Aria,

The other day you said your first word. Doll. I mean, you say things like Dada and Mama (I think you said Dada first and I'm totally okay with that, I love the sweetness of your relationship with your Daddy). But this was your first thing that you pointed at and named. Granted, it sounded more like "daw" but your brother can't even say his 'l's" yet and he's three, so it's okay. I was so excited when you said it, we passed the doll back and forth for a little bit, pointed at it and called it doll a few more times and then I hurried into the living room where your Daddy was and showed him. He was impressed.

I think your brother's first word was "ball" which sounded a lot like "baw" ... ah the differences between boys and girls.

This morning I was holding you and thinking about how true that little poem is. Little girls are made up of sugar and spice and everything nice... You are sugar and spice. There's just a sweetness about you, a tenderness that wasn't there with Levi. This morning when I came in to get you I picked you up and we just cuddled for a minute. I prayed that you would be a cuddler.

You do still struggle with grabbing faces though. You get all excited and then lunge for my face. We are working on that. You start to cry if I say no too sternly. You are a sensitive little girl.

Another thing you do that is not so girly is growl. Levi likes to growl at you and the two of you go back and forth until I start to break things up. We are totally okay with you not being a perfect little girl. I was a bit of a tomboy myself. You kind of have to be with a big older brother as your primary playmate.

I love your deliberate movements. You are so good at grabbing things off the coffee table, picking them up and putting them back on the table again. I just have to watch out that you don't do this with certain items that can more easily break or tear.

You are also kind of sneaky. I won't hear a sound from you at your grandma's house and then I go looking for you and you are halfway up the stairs. We are trying to keep you away from the stairs since you have already fallen down then a few times. Thankfully it hasn't been too far and hopefully you will learn soon.

You have definitely been the fresh morning song we prayed for. I'm looking forward to your one year birthday and what the next years have to offer as you change and grow.

I love you sweet girl.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Things God is teaching me

Lord, please help me as I write this. I have so much I want to share but I don't know what I need to hold back and what I need to bring forward. Please help me.

God has been teaching me many things lately.

But I am a slow, reluctant learner.

In the mornings when I read my Bible and pray and journal everything sounds really awesome and I think, "yes! I want to do that!" but then two O clock hits and I am not wanting to submit and obey anymore. That's around the time when I want to do things my own way.

I hate that.

I think it's laziness and lack of conviction.

The thing is, if I try to fight my own laziness I just end up making excuse after excuse. "I'm a mom" "I had a rough day" "I deserve this" ... and so on. I don't follow through because I depend on myself and honestly, I'm like a reed blowing in the wind.

Lord, I have been lazy with my house. I have been lazy in my prayers and scripture memory. Yes, I have two little kids and they are demanding and difficult and definitely not convenient, BUT I don't think that's an excuse not to call on You at all times. I don't think that's an excuse to waste their nap time on facebook and reading blogs or eating cookies or whatever I can find in the pantry. Father, I have been wasteful in my time and that is wrong.

God has also been teaching me about pride.

Some friends of mine were talking about their small group leader once who would say "Honesty Room" and then he would just blurt out whatever was on his mind. He would say maybe what everyone in the room was thinking but afraid to actually talk about. He would confess sins and for some reason it was okay because he said "Honesty Room" beforehand. ... I think I could live my life in Honesty Room. I'm going to steal his phrase though.

Honesty Room. I love compliments. I love the praise of man. I love to look in the mirror and think about how beautiful I am. (Oh my goodness, I sound so vain)... but vanity, that's what it is. Losing weight has not helped in this area. I pass by a mirror (still) and think, wow, I am so skinny! ... (Oh my gosh, I can't even believe I'm saying this right now, I'm saying it because it's true). It's not true all the time, mind you. I have days when I look in the mirror and I hate what I see, but that's not as often the case.

The truth is that my heart is wrecked with sin.

I want to be humble. I want to have a humble heart that doesn't even THINK about that stuff. I want to have an others-focused heart that loves and gives of itself. Lord, I can't do that without You.


Are we still in Honesty Room? Cause I am. I am not a generous person. I mean, I can be and I want to be but I am also paranoid about money sometimes. I realized the other day and told Ben that Christmas stressed me out because all these stupid gifts had to be given and we would have to spend all this money and buy people things and it was all mandatory because of this holiday. I have to make out a list of what I want for Christmas so my family can know what to give me but the truth is that I don't need anything. There are things that I want but they cost hundreds of dollars and it's really awkward asking for cash for Christmas. I just don't know that I'm much of a gift person. It's terrible.

But it's not just the gifts, it's that I'm not generous to the poor. I'm not generous with my time or my money. There's this thing that keeps itching in the back of my mind that I keep thinking about how stinking wealthy and comfortable we are. We have heat and air conditioning. We have comfortable couches, washing machines, dryers, we have hot water heaters, soft beds, the list could go on and on. There are people walking around on this earth who have nothing. I have brothers and sisters in Christ who don't even have a tenth of what I have. We spend at least a hundred dollars a week on just food, if not more. I know that this is the culture we live in and the cost of living and all that... but still. It doesn't sit right.

I want to go volunteer at a soup kitchen or go give Christmas presents to a family or something like that. But I have two little kids and I don't have time... It would be difficult.

Lord, help me with this. I want to be generous.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Simple Obedience

Have you ever felt like it takes like eight trillion times for you to learn one simple thing? I have been feeling that way lately.

The Lord is teaching me about absolute obedience.

Ben and I have decided to start studying our Bibles this way:
Read a passage of scripture
Write down the scripture in your own words
Write down a list of how you can obey the scripture. A list of "I Wills"

Then you have to do the "I Wills" and you have to talk to other people about it. Just say, 'This is what God has been teaching me lately..."

Very simple. Yet oh so difficult.

I've been reading in Luke and it's basically the Sermon on the Mount only in Luke's words. Yesterday I read two things that hit me.

One: What is done in secret will be disclosed. If you say anything in secret, if you do anything, it will someday be shouted from the rooftops. Now, it may happen on Judgement Day or it may happen before then, but really, none of our lives is hidden. Everything is seen and heard.

Now I'm going to get a little more down and dirty and how this applies to my life. Lately I have been eating in the afternoons. Eating a lot. Let's just say the other day I had eight cookies. I'm just saying that so that there will be no imagination used or anything and I just believe that absolute honesty is the best way to go. Something I have struggled with for years has been closet eating. The secrecy of it is terrible. Maybe that's why I have to say that out loud, so that it doesn't have power over me any more.

It's usually that my kids are down for naps and I think to myself, Ben won't notice these cookies being gone. Or: he doesn't care what I eat. Or: this is MY time, I've had a rough day and I've EARNED this by gosh.

Yesterday the Lord really convicted me in that I think that because I'm alone I can get away with this sin. Yes, it's a sin, I'm harming the body God has given me and I'm going to food for comfort. It's a sin. Really, He's right there with me. He sees everything. what I do in secret, when i'm along in my house is important. That time when no one sees me does matter. Not so I can be skinny or awesome or anything like that, but my heart needs to be towards Him and not towards food.

Now, just to clarify the freedom: I believe one or two cookies are not a sin. God did make food to be enjoyed but the excess of eight or ten or twelve... I know that I'm not simply looking to enjoy a part of God's creation, I am being selfish and I am over indulging and treating a good thing in the wrong way.

Okay, on to the other thing I am learning...

Two: Sell your possessions and give to the poor.

(looks away)

Really Jesus? What do you mean by that? How many possessions should I sell? What should I keep? How do I sell them?

I read that one this morning.

Honestly, it kind of scares me because I don't know how exactly to obey that one. I hated having a garage sale and really I did about 8 hours of work for about a hundred bucks. So dumb. I have often thought about selling stuff on Ebay or Craigs List with dollar signs in my eyes thinking, I could make money and be rid of stuff. (I hate how much stuff we have in our house). But then I think about setting up and Ebay account and taking pictures and setting prices and then mailing the stuff and it all becomes very overwhelming. Is that dumb? I feel so dumb to say all that. But it's really how I feel.

So, here's my prayer for this last scripture I read.

Lord, I know that you don't want us to be held down by our stuff. I know you want us to give to the poor. You say that we will have so much greater treasure in heaven when we do those things. But Lord, I'm really lost in how to obey you in this one. I don't want to obey you. I feel like I sound like my three year old when he was whining about not wanting to eat his green beans last night. "I don't like it!" Thank you for being patient with me. Holy Spirit, please empower me to obey You. I have no idea what I'm doing and I feel stupid sometimes but You can enable me to do the things I need to do. I want my heart to be right and ready and willing. Help me to be able.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Letters to Littles

Dear Aria,

Oh how the time has passed. You will be 11 months in just three days. I can't believe you are almost a year. Good times have flown by and that hard times have been a little slower. The amazing thing is that in just eleven short months you have gone from doing almost nothing for yourself to being able to feed yourself, crawl, get into so much, show preference for things and people, crawl as fast as you can away from diaper changes, cruise across the couch or coffee table, climb stairs (going down you're having a tougher time with) and just be the sweetest little baby around.

You smile easily, which I am thankful for. You smile the most for your Daddy. He told me that he will pass you as you are crawling. You will stop, lift up your hands as high as you can and reach for him. If he keeps going you put your hands down and just watch him. He comes back you stretch them up as high as you can once again. You love him. He loves you. This might be the most beautiful thing I have witnessed in my life.

We really need to get you some baby dolls. You love Levi's cars. You have figured out that they will go back and forth on the wood floor. You seem to sit and watch and take in how he is playing. The sad part is that he doesn't want you to join him just yet. He likes to have all ten matchbox cars while you have none. I'm very sorry, this is a selfishness that is born inside of all of us. You have it too. If you give your life to Christ someday, he will slowly root it out of you. He's the only way to get rid of it. I pray that you will give your whole life to Him someday. He has blessed your mommy and daddy so much. He has freed us from so much, I can't wait to tell you what He has done.

Something I have noticed about you is that you are very tactile. You like to touch and finger everything around you. You will always yank off my glasses when I nurse you. You grab my hair and my clothes and whatever else you can get your tiny fingers to touch. You love textures and surfaces much more than your brother did. I wonder if you will be good with working with your hands. Maybe you'll be an artist or a sculptor one day. You have such beautiful, delicate fingers, I hope you learn to play piano and maybe violin, they are perfect for things like that.

I love you my Aria, my little treasure,


Levi Stories

Levi caught Aria chewing on a glass ball this afternoon. He yanked it out of her hands and threw it over her shoulder and it shattered on the window pane behind her. I think we all were a little surprised. Me, that he would throw something like that as though it were a rubber ball, Levi that it would actually break and Aria that her chew toy was so immediately taken from her.

The result was lots of crying. I had to just put her in her crib so that she would stay out of it, Levi squealed with delight as he watched me suck up the remains with the vacuum yelling that it was like a football. A football? Really? I have no idea what goes on in this kid's head sometimes. I realized I needed to explain to him that these things are fragile and they break easily so we can't just throw them around. Good job for taking it out of Aria's hands, but not a good job of doing something with it.

Oh the learning for a three year old.

Levi has this laugh... the best way I can describe it is that it sounds like a french pirate laugh. Or maybe just a french laugh. Whenever he makes a discovery or sees something cool he does this little "haw haw!" If I knew the symbol for making something nasally I would put that on there. But my diction class is not coming to memory right now. It's like when they say Sacrebleu! and the haw haw that goes before or after it... I can't remember. Anyways, I don't know where Levi got it, but he does that laugh. And it makes me laugh. Every time. We would see a squirrel or a garbage truck on our walk "haw haw!" I told him we were making Christmas cookies today, "haw haw!" Aria woke up from her nap, "haw haw!" Each one a new discovery or exclamation.

I think someday he will make a pretty good actor.

The other day I chided him for not watching where he was peeing and he looked up at me (as if to make up for it) and said, "I wike your hair mom."   Oh no, are we starting that already? This kid is too smart.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Learning from God

I figured, if I'm going to keep a blog I should probably write about what is most important to me. That makes sense doesn't it?

Honestly, the most important thing in my life is the Lord.

I wish this were my thought every moment of every day. If you came into my house at any time, asked me what the most important thing was, maybe I would be in the middle of doing dishes or picking up toys, maybe I would be rescuing Aria from Levi, maybe I would be sitting on my couch staring blankly at my computer wondering what in the world I was supposed to be doing... I would want my knee jerk, gut reaction to be "The Lord. He is my purpose, He is my life."

Yesterday I was reading this in Luke.
"If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it." (Jesus speaking) 6:23-24

Lord, do I live with my cross taken up? Do I live with it daily? What does that mean as a stay at home mom?

I am often overwhelmed by my life. I feel like I'm not doing enough. sometimes I feel like I'm doing too much, I'm too busy, too overcommitted. Lord, I want to be delighting in You. I want Your Word to be in my heart. I have not sought You as I could.

I want to shed my earthly possessions. Lord, help me to cling to nothing. Help me to cling only to You.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Update. Also a post about Aria's sleep issues.

Just as an update about my supply: I think my supply struggles have gotten better. I just have to be very very intentional about the copious amounts of water I need to be drinking. In fact, I just got up in the middle of writing to get a glass of water. I basically fill a glass, guzzle it and then refill it and take it with me. This way I don't just pour a glass and just have a full glass sitting around. 

Another update is the fact that Aria has decided not to sleep through the night yet again. I was okay with it when we were still struggling but I think now it's just for kicks and giggles that she wakes up and decides not to go to sleep again until I nurse her. This usually happens around 3 am. We are also struggling with her going and staying in bed. She is usually exhausted by 6:30 or 7 so I lay her down. She goes to sleep within minutes but then anywhere from 30 mins to an hour later wakes up crying. We tried to let her just go back to sleep again last night but after 15 minutes to incredible screaming Ben looked at me and said, "If you don't go get her then I will." 

I got her and she didn't want to nurse. She wasn't necessarily happy with anything so about 20 minutes later I laid her down again. She went down fine. So weird. What was that? Why did she wake up like that and was angry? 

These are the struggles of the first year. 

It's nice to look at Levi and see how things sort of just get worked out and life moves on. Sleep will come. We will figure it out. 

In the meantime my left eyelid just won't stop twitching. Come on. 

This Sunday afternoon is begging for a nap. 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Supply Struggles

:: warning, I will talk about breastfeeding in this post, so if you don't want to think about that type of thing, feel free not to read further ::

Well, for some reason God has really allowed me to struggle with my milk supply with Aria. I never really had these struggles with Levi so it's a learning experience.  Maybe it is because I have more to think about with two kids, maybe it was my pride of thinking, "I nursed him for 14 months, I can do it easily with her!" She's just a different baby, my life is different, it's just different.

Last week I was sick as a dog. Fever, strep, some other kind of virus I think. All I could think about was survival.

I got on some amoxicillin and started to feel better on Saturday but then took a turn for the worst on Sunday. I looked at Ben Sunday night and just said, "Can we go to the emergency room? I don't think I'm going to make it through the night." He graciously took me even though it was 9:30 pm. Mostly, I could feel myself getting very dehydrated. Between nursing and barely being able to swallow I knew that was a bad combination. They took my blood and my urine and confirmed that I was in fact dehydrated but did not have the flu or mono. Whew. The Dr said I probably also had some kind of virus that the amoxicillin wasn't getting so they gave me a steroid shot as well as a bag of fluids.

In the middle of all that my supply has dropped frighteningly low. If you have never nursed before you may not know what I'm talking about, but I stopped feeling full in the morning. Usually you wake up and you feel like you could nurse and have plenty for your baby. I have not felt that way the past couple of mornings. I thought, am I being forced to wean my daughter simply because I'm drying up? I don't think I have dried up completely though because I have felt my milk let down a few times while feeding her. It's been a struggle though. Trying to feed a wiggly 11 month old who may not believe you have anything worth nursing out can end up being a wrestling match.

Why am I blogging about this? I guess to share the struggle. Starting to dry up before you are ready is scary. If you are a breastfeeding momma you and you get sick you need to not take it lying down. Be very aware of your fluid intake. I realized I wasn't drinking as much because it hurt to swallow, I've healed a lot in the past few days, but I haven't gotten in the saddle again as far as drinking. I'm now trying to chug liters at a time to catch up. I'm also fixing myself a few cups of Mother's Milk Tea made my Natural Medicinals. I'm taking Fenugreek tablets when I remember to (though I feel like I'm taking a million pills between the vitamins and antibiotics). Ben even got me a six pack of beer. I'm hoping all this will help.

I really want to continue nursing, I hope all this stuff works and I can continue for a few more months. I feel like the nutrition and antibodies are good for her.

Okay. That's all.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Letters To My Littles

Dear Levi,

On Friday you turned three. Already. And just like that you were a year older. Oh the changes I have seen in you as a three year old already (they've been coming about for a few months now). The maturity and decision-making abilities, the ability to follow through and remember what in the world you are doing. As a mom it has been life-changing.

Some say that the twos are terrible. I've heard a few others say that threes are worse. I'm not sure which category you will fall into. I'm hoping we have simply put the terribles behind us and are moving on. i have noticed a more passionate anger in you than before. You seem to have more stake in the game now that you can remember things a little better. You cried all the way home about a shovel we left at a friend's house one day. I thought for sure I could distract you or something but you would not be deterred. It wasn't until we pulled into a deserted parking lot, I got you out and spanked you that you realized I was serious. I told you that if you mentioned the shovel one more time that we would have another spanking. We hugged and I told you I love you and I want the best for you. I told you it was not appropriate to act the way you were acting and that is why I had to punish you. You didn't mention it again.

This week is Birthday Week in the Hefner House. Yours is the 23rd, mine is the 24th (meaning it will from now on be forgotten in the shadow of yours and I'm completely fine with that), and your Daddy's is the 29th. There are some more extended family birthdays in there too but I didn't want this to be such a long paragraph. I'm glad you start off Birthday Week, it's just right. I decided to tell you in advance that your birthday was coming up soon. I thought maybe you could handle the thought of waiting a few days for you birthday to come. I still didn't know how to explain the days of the week to you since we are still pretty inconsistent with our schedule and we had our friends over for most of the days. So I decided to take from the book "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" by Eric Carle. Every time I read to you I include the author and if they wrote it for someone I read that part too. He wrote it for his sister Christa. You often repeat these parts back to me. Then I help you try to say your "L's" and we move on. I explained to you that the day we were on was Monday and on Monday the caterpillar ate through one apple and your birthday would not be until Friday when he would eat through five oranges. We talked about the days in between and what he ate on those days too. If anything, we did succeed in practically memorizing The Very Hungry Caterpillar.
My favorite parts are:
After he eats a ton of things on Saturday we both say together "and that night he had a stomach ache!" then we fall over and hold our stomachs making groaning noises.
You say in the lowest your three year old self can muster: "he was a big, fat cawerpiwar (caterpillar)." I laugh every time and you love it.
At the end he turns into a beautiful butterfly. The first ten-fifteen times we read it you asked where he was and I told you that he became the butterfly. Now we finish, you look at the picture and say in casual observance, "hm, dat's him."

The sad part about Birthday Week this year was that mommy became deathly ill. You would try to come up to me and hug me or kiss me and I had to tell you not to come near me because I was sick. One time, you went and got a throw pillow, put it on my legs and said, "Here mommy." I think you just wanted to help. So sweet.

Later, you would just come up and ask me in a soft, high voice, "Are ya sick mama?"

Levi, you are a gift given to me a thousand times over already. The way you make me laugh with your stories and dancing, they way you make me burst with pride as you obey and help. You have the most expressive eyes I have ever seen on anyone so young. I remember even as a baby you seemed to to intuitively know how to make people laugh. You are so much like me in that you can experience the whole gamut of emotions in just one day and you express them readily for all to see.

I pray that the Lord saves you at a young age and that you grow to know Him and love Him as your Daddy and I do. We pray that this passion and emotion would be used for His glory. We pray that you would grow in wisdom. We pray that you would have a love for learning and beauty. We pray that your sensitivity would render compassion for others. We pray that you would conquer your fears in the Lord and know that the God of all peace will watch over you and protect you.

We love you Levi. Happy Three Years.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A Not-So-Happy Birthday (and Thanksgiving)

Well, as I get my token Facebook birthday wishes I like to take the time to just sort of... laugh. I don't mean to complain or anything, but really? What else is the internet for but to vent your complaints?

I came down with a wicked case of strep throat. It hit me the night before Thanksgiving. Yes. Right after all my family got in town. I was kind of feeling sort of not so good but then that night it got BAD. Chills, fever, muscle aches... When morning finally came I felt like I had been run over by a truck.

And it was Thanksgiving.

Am I supposed to be thankful for this??

I stayed home that morning while Ben took Levi to my mom's house to hang out with my family. I stayed home... in bed. I did muster enough energy to drive myself to my mom's house to eat some turkey and dressing. (so good!) Ben said I probably shouldn't have any pie though because sugar isn't good for the immune system. I hate it when he's right. My biggest fear though was infecting my sister in law who is 18 weeks pregnant. I didn't know if I had the flu or what. That evening I got worse and Ben just drove me home.

Why in the world am I recounting all of this for you? I can't believe I just typed all that. Who the heck wants to hear about being sick on Thanksgiving?

The next night was the same as far as the sickness went. Yeah.

That morning I decided to go to a walk in clinic. The Dr took on look in my mouth and told me I had strep. What's worse? Strep or the flu? Right now it feel like strep.

But that's not really the worse part.

So, for me Thanksgiving is synonymous with birthdays.  We like to call it Birthday Week. Ben's is on the 29th, mine is the 24th and Levi's is the 23rd. So I was knock down drag out sick on Levi's birthday as well. Ben and I debated if I should just do what the Dr said and stay home or if I should participate in the celebration. As if a sick person can actually celebrate... but whatever. (I feel like I'm being so dramatic. But I literally have not been this sick in a very long time).  Ben wanted me to be there and I wanted to watch Levi open his presents and blow out his candles (he's obsessed with blowing out candles and does an amazing job of it). I kind of just sat miserably in the corner. I sort of felt like I was just this wet blanket on the day. People would be smiling and happy and then glance at me with a pitiful look. Yes, feel sorry for me.

Now, today is my birthday. I have been on penicillin for almost twenty four hours and I'm feeling a lot better, though not up to 100% yet.

So, with all this nastiness I think the best thing for me to do right now is just to be thankful for what God has given me. I need to focus on the good. Scriptures says, "in everything give thanks.' I thought I would make a Thanksgiving list:

I'm thankful for...

- Modern medicine and the miracle that penicillin can work.
- My husband who works so hard and is so capable with our kids. He's pretty much been taking care of them since I got sick.
- A comfortable, warm house that I can be sick in. How much worse would it be if my bed weren't so soft and we didn't have a nice thermostat to keep the chill out.
- For little things like our Camelia bush blooming outside the kitchen window. The trees that are turning radiant yellows and reds outside our bedroom windows.
- That my children and my husband are still healthy.
- For walk-in clinics and kind doctors
- For a clean house (again thanks to my AMAZING husband. He came home yesterday evening and in a whirlwind cleaned our ENTIRE house. Makes being sick in a clean house much easier than being sick in a messy house :))

Lord, help me to give thanks in all things. Thank you for slowing me down. Thank you for humbling me. Thank you for showing me what it's like to be terribly sick. I know some people live with terrible illness for much of their lives, help me to be more compassionate. Thank you for keeping me alive and well for 28 years. You are so good and what you do is good.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sunday's Psalm

Lord, please prepare my heart to worship you. Thank you for your son who died on the cross. Thank you for prophecy and how you moved in David to write this. I am continually amazed at your Word. 

Psalm 22

For the director of music. To the tune of “The Doe of the Morning.” A psalm of David.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]
Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
    you are the one Israel praises.[c]
In you our ancestors put their trust;
    they trusted and you delivered them.
To you they cried out and were saved;
    in you they trusted and were not put to shame.
But I am a worm and not a man,
    scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
    they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
    “let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
    since he delights in him.”
Yet you brought me out of the womb;
    you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
    from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
    for trouble is near
    and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
    strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
    open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, Lord, do not be far from me.
    You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
    my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
    save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the Lord, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
    before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
    those who seek the Lord will praise him—
    may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
    will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
    will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the Lord
    and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
    all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
    those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
    future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
    declaring to a people yet unborn:
    He has done it!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thoughts on motherhood

We have been very busy this week. I hate busy weeks. I never thought I would be a home body, but I guess I'm becoming one. I have missed being home for nap times so I can do laundry and just straighten the house. Maybe I'm a home body now because I am the keeper of my home... I don't think I ever had that responsibility before.

Maybe that was why we had an explosion today. 

At least, I think you could call it an explosion. Let me just say that Levi is a pretty easy going little kid. He is fun, loves people, he's creative, independent, and pretty trustworthy. But when he's tired things just get out of hand. Also, if things are not "just so" he can get pretty testy. We had a perfect match of those things today as I tried to lay him down at his Deedee's house. Aria was already asleep in the closet or else I would have picked him up, thrown him in the car and taken him home. There was lots of screaming and probably too much or not enough spanking. (I hate spanking with all the screaming because it only makes it worse). I'm currently at a loss as to what to do when your child just escalates his screaming while you are spanking, it feels like we are going in the opposite of the intended direction. Usually just leaving him in his room helps. I just tell him that mommy will not listen to him unless he stops screaming. 

Eventually we worked it out. Eventually he fell asleep. 

Here are my thoughts about the episode:

Motherhood is not for the faint of heart. I have been stretched and pulled in ways I never thought possible. Your rational mind is thinking, this child has to stop sometime and your irrational mind is wanting to strangle them. There has got to be some middle ground. You think, how could I think such a thing? How could I possibly hurt my child? But at the same time you kind of understand the people who do hurt them... I don't like all of these conflicts inside of me. They make me feel guilty as a mother. 

Lord, help me in this. Help me to find out what makes him tick, help me to guide him. Help me to mother him as you mother us. This is really hard. It just is. This is a huge weight. It's not just a one time weight, it's a day in and day out, moment by moment I am shaping and raising a human being. These little people are in my care and I am going to answer for that responsibility someday. Please help me in this Lord. I need you to guide me. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Wow, how many millions of things do I want to blog about right now. I want to write about being a mom and how that has changed me. I want to write about what I am learning in the book of Daniel and how I want to be wise. I want to write about how the Lord is changing my body image. I want to write about saying goodbye to friends and having long-distance friends... and the list goes on.

Lord, what should I write about today?

I wanted to just say on here that a few weeks ago I was talking about struggling with my body image and food and I realized that I just needed to stop. I needed to stop thinking about it. I needed to stop obsessing over it. I needed to stop punishing myself for eating the "wrong" things and I needed to stop criticizing my body every time I look in the mirror.

It's a work in progress but over the past few weeks I have asked the Lord to remove those things from my heart and mind and He has been faithful. I'll just say that.

I guess that change has allowed me to focus more time and energy on my kids, my husband, my household and others outside.

I also spend a lot less time on pity parties and hating myself. This is good.

Do I want to write about the elections? No. God establishes kings and He is the one who brings them down. That's all I'm going to say. I did vote though.

I just spent a morning with some very dear friends. There was laughter, kids, tears, heart-wrenching, beautiful stuff. This is a group of women I have grown to absolutely love. We have breakfast together every Thursday morning. The rules are: come as you are. Don't worry about putting on makeup or combing your hair or taking a shower, just come. If you want to bring food, bring it. There will be coffee (praise the Lord) and if you need to lay your baby down in a back room, do it. If you need to put your child in a naughty chair or take them to another room and spank them, we will not judge you. We are all young mothers with children ages 5 and under. I think what I love about it is that it's just real. It can be raw, it can be quite chaotic with several 18-24 month and beyond children (this is the hardest age in my mind because they can do stuff but communication is difficult). As moms we have learned to block out the chaos and just talk.

Why are we not more like that? I think especially as Christians who live in the Bible Belt there is this persona that we want to keep up or something. We want to keep people out of our dirty kitchens and messy lives. But I think that's the only way that healing can take place. If we keep putting up just this pretty front, we are just going to keep dying inside.

Lord, thank you for this fellowship. Thank you for other women who encourage me, admonish me and lift me up. Thank you that you are the author and perfecter of our faith. Thank you for bringing this into my life. You give and you take away.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Letter To My Little Ones

I think that this series is my favorite thing to write about right now. I love my kids.

Dear Levi,

The other day we found an excavator toy at a garage sale while we were out on our walk. Just you and me because daddy was home with Aria. Well worth the three dollars I paid for it. We got some more dirt from Mimi's house and the backyard is becoming a land flowing with dirt and honey. It's the first thing you ask to do when you wake up in the morning (even though it's 45 degrees outside). Because of this you tend to track a lot of it into the house. I am constantly sweeping and washing your pants that are caked with mud. I'm completely fine with it though. I think dirt is good for you. I'm glad you like to be outdoors, it's so healthy and clean. Plus, you're not inside trying to splash in my dishwater or make messes with the granola I am trying to make.

A friend was volunteering in children's church last week and she said she watched you during the main worship. She said you were the only kid who jumped around and did all the motions to the first song, (that's my boy) but when it came to the second song you lost interest and walked away from your class (this also sounds like you). I think you will be pretty social even though you're shy at first (we can work on that one). You are always asking if mommy or daddy will come and play with you and you are excited when we go play with friends. I so wish your cousin Caroline was still here in Little Rock. You had so much fun with her. Of course, at first you hated her back in December when they first came back from Africa. We couldn't leave the two of you together for thirty seconds without there being something. But by the time she had to leave in May she was one of your favorite friends. I'm sure she would dig with you in the back yard. We miss you Caro. Again, I am stumped at trying to explain to such a young, small person how big the world is.

 I love you so much,


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Letters To My Little Ones

Dear Aria,

You change every day. Your little personality has stayed very much the same, it just seems to show more as you get older. Right now we are outside and you are crawling around in our neighbor's grass since we have nothing but dirt. I figured they don't mind since they don't have any kids to really enjoy it. Grass is meant to be enjoyed.

You are cautious and sensitive yet easy going and fun loving. I'm always amazed at how well and how fast you crawl. It makes me wonder if you won't walk for a while because you seem so content to crawl. You also don't like to stand up. I was concerned at first but the doctor assured me that if you can support your weight (which you can do just fine) that it's okay. You just choose not to. You seem to be kind of particular at times. You don't like to be bounced except when you are ready for it. You are very sensitive to other people and how they hold you and touch you. I can tell you like me best. I didn't think I would like that and Levi definitely wasn't like that, but I kind of take some pride in being your favorite. I know exactly how you like to be held, kissed, put to bed. I get to be a source of comfort and security in your life and I am thankful for that.

My main frustration with you right now is that you refuse to hold still for your diaper changes. I mean RE-FUSE. You always try to turn over and then sit up. You have never attempted to crawl off your changing table, I have watched how you are good about ledges. The only way I can get you to be still is to make you laugh by blowing raspberries on your belly. It can be tiring and difficult, especially with the poopy diapers. I'm sure someday I'll look back on these days and think that they are easy in comparison to what is ahead.

Levi likes to call you "Aria baby" pronounced Aw-wee-ya. He tries to get your attention by grabbing your cheeks and saying "wook a me!" you don't like that very much. A good portion of my day is spent protecting you from him. However, I think that you are starting to cry even when he approaches you. I'm not sure how that's going to fly.

I love you my sweet little girl. You are my sweetsy pie, my little munchkin, my snookums, my bitsy boo and you are your daddy's little darling. I haven't settled on a nickname for you, but currently it's just whatever sounds cute that pops into my mind. You fit them all.



Sunday, October 28, 2012

Letters To My Little Ones

Dear Levi,

I wanted you to nap so badly today. But you didn't. I'm assuming you will read this when you are much older, right now you are three. At this moment you are playing next to me on the couch with your very well-loved red car. This is the car you got for Christmas and you refused to open any other presents afterwards. I don't think you could have imagined it getting any better than this red car. Your daddy tells me it's a Dodge Viper. I wouldn't know otherwise.

The thing about this car is that we've had it almost a year now and I will be amazed if it lasts. With all the love and playing time this car gets it has had a few casualties. Both side view mirrors, the rear view mirror, the doors don't close right, the windshield is gone, it lost both of the seats, only one little tail light is still in place and now the inside paneling in a door is gone. I love that you have so much love for this car. I love that when you first opened it you did nothing but lay on the floor and watch it's wheels move for a good 30 minutes while the chaos of cousins opening presents ensued all around you. Again, I am amazed at your ability to focus.

Today I was thinking about your brown eyes and the look you get when you wake up from your nap and you ask me, "What shoul' my do tuh-day?" Then you smile when I tell you that you should go outside and play in the dirt. I definitely want to make you an excavator cake for your soon approaching third birthday. I don't think that you get the idea that soon you won't "be" two. I'm struggling to explain to you what a year is and what age is. How do you explain this stuff who a small child who has no concept of time? The days just are. You wake up and play and then you eat and then you play ... time just isn't important in your world. How wonderful would that be to live in a world without the boundaries of time? You will understand this concept someday, I'm sure.

The other day you brought me a round lid (your steering wheel) and asked me if I wanted to go for a car ride. It is so hard for me to pull away from my chores in the kitchen sometimes, but I decided I needed a break. You drove us to Mimi's house and Deedee's house and to the grocery store. I was so proud of your imagination and how you took things and made them something else. I can't wait to see where else your imagination takes you.

One last thing: this afternoon Daddy was standing outside your door and listening while you were supposed to be taking your nap. He said you were telling your stuffed doggies to "cwose your eyes and way down on da bed!" I'm glad you take such good care of them and want to make sure they take their little naps. Cranky doggies are just no fun.

I love you my little man,


Sunday's Psalm

The best days are when I wake up early in the morning and read the living and active Word of God. I don't know how, but it fills my soul. It is refreshing. It is pure. It is good.

I want to focus my heart in worship this morning before I go and meet with other believers at church. I want to begin my worship now. Yes, it means a sacrifice of sleep, but after I get some good wake-up coffee I find that the Word of God never leaves me unsatisfied. Sleep I can do another time. This is holy ground right now. 

Psalm 24

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it,
the world and all who live in it;
for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters. 

Who may ascend the hill of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him, 
who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty
The LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in. 
Who is this King of glory? 
The Lord Almighty -- 
he is the King of glory. 

Lord, your Word, your laws are good. To live uprightly and with you is better than anything else on this earth. Please help my feeble feet to follow. Teach me to walk in your ways because your ways are better than life itself. Help me to move and breathe and walk in you today.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Letters to My Little Ones

Dear Levi,

You are almost three years old. How did you get this big? You won't believe kids grow fast until you're an adult, but I'm still going to say it anyways, time flies.

Your main interests are cars and trucks... and excavators. Anything involving construction "struction" or with a motor really. You seem to be fascinated with machines that have eyes. Your favorite characters right now are Thomas the Tank "tanken" Engine and Lightning "BaQueen" McQueen. I hope I always remember the little things you say, but I probably shouldn't have that much confidence in my memory and truly should be writing them down. You usually talk about these characters like this, "I want the one with the eyes!" Maybe it's because they can sit and watch you while you eat or go to the bathroom. Or sometimes we set them up so they can watch you do really cool stuff like jump on the couch. Basically, you love an audience. I'm wondering if you're a little like me. :)

The hardest part of the day for you (and consequently me) is getting ready for nap time. Every day you tell me, "no nap tuh-day." I tell you that yes, we will have a nap. Every day we have naps. You hold up a finger in response, "not tuh-day." You learned this phrase from me. Sometimes we have to talk about who is the mommy and who gets to call the shots. I think you will be a good leader someday because you are very skilled at ordering me and Daddy around.

My favorite times are evenings when you are trying to stay up later. You tell Daddy that you need a kiss from me so he comes and gets me before tucking you in. Sometimes I dilly dally with it and just talk to you about your day. On Sunday I asked if you had a good time at church and you said, "I take da toy." You did? Why did you take the toy? "I took da toy out of a boy's hands." Really? That is so sad. Did he cry? "Yes." And then, probably to take the spotlight off of your own sin you told me about how another little boy threw a rock at a little girl. I don't know why I think this story is hilarious, but it was all I could do not to burst out laughing. The rational mother in me is telling me to hold it in because we shouldn't take toys or throw rocks. But maybe it's just the simplicity of your honesty that just gets to me every time.

You are excellent at sitting and reading books. It makes me so proud to walk by a room and you are sitting there and reading or playing quietly with your cars. I know that you have a good attention span. Last Thanksgiving (you were barely two years old) you played with your cousin Trey's train set for hours. The doctor was so surprised to hear it because most two year olds only have a two minute attention span. Maybe it's because you were in train heaven.

You are very shy when first meeting people. Once you get to know them you do much better and even are kind of a show off. I'm trying to figure out how to teach you to be polite and at least say hello. Hopefully as you get older I can explain this to you.

Levi, watching you change and grow these past three years, I can't even imagine life without you. You are precious to me and I am excited about the years to come.



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Letters to My Little Ones

I have been seeing other blogs write letters to their children. So I think I will try it.

Dear Aria,

I haven't written as much on the blog about you (except for your epic birth story). I have been wanting to write, but sometimes it's difficult to think in terms of communication with such a small person. I am very sorry about that. I will do my best to remedy that.

I honestly didn't expect I would ever have a little girl. I thought the Lord would give me boys because I was such a tomboy growing up. I'm pretty silly to think that aren't I? One thing I love about you is seeing how much of a girl you are. Your movements are so dainty. Even as a little baby you are able to pick up the smallest thing with your tiny little fingers. You are persistent. Yesterday I watched you try to put a ball in your brothers toy gun. The ball was slightly too big, but that didn't deter you. You knew it needed to get in there. You were never frustrated, you just kept trying. Honestly, you probably tried for about 15 minutes, which is like forever when you are just a little baby.

You love your daddy. That's for sure. And you love me too but that's kind of a given since we hang out like ALL THE TIME. It's good. I like it that way. Your daddy provides so well that I get to be at home with you and your brother all the time. I get to be that underlying security in your life and I am thankful for that. My favorite part of the day is when I am about to take you to bed and I say, "Let's say night-night to daddy!" Your face lights up with the hugest smile and we go over to him. You reach towards him and hug him while he kisses you and then you reach back and bury your head in my shoulder as if you are suddenly bashful. As we walk away you watch him from my shoulder until we turn the corner to your room.

I am so thankful for these past nine months with you. You are so beautiful, so precious. You are living up to your name in being a fresh new song in our house.



Monday, October 22, 2012

Skin Deep

It's 9:54 on a Monday night. Why do I suddenly feel so inspired to blog?

Maybe it's because I'm home by myself tonight.
Maybe it's because I just ate a big bowl of ice cream.

Too many of my posts include ice cream. Geez.

Ben went out to play games with the guys. I think it's really great because his opportunities to fellowship with other men seem to be fewer than mine. I am glad he can do that. The only problem is the when he is going to be gone I'm like, "Yes! I'll have some ice cream! And a big bowl of it. And no one will be there to raise any eyebrows!" ... Actually, Ben would probably be fine with me having a big ole bowl of ice cream. We might watch a television show together and eat it.

But these thoughts bring me back to my old days.

[I used to look forward to being alone so that I could just eat whatever and however much I wanted to eat. The sad part is that I didn't need to eat those things. I thought they would make me happy, but they didn't.]

It makes me wonder if I'm healed and free and whole in that area.

Will I ever be healed and free on this earth? Maybe not.

I had to go in and comfort Aria a few minutes ago and as I did I was thinking about my body. Thinking about how I might never be satisfied with it. I was thinking about how once I feel like I've lost enough weight I'll probably get pregnant again and then as you get older your metabolism gets worse and ... before I reach panic mode I just want to remind myself that it's not important. What I look like is not important.

Whether or not people see me and say, "You look so great!" doesn't matter. Lord, help me with that, I get so caught up in what I look like and how I appear to others, I forget that You are more concerned with my heart.

As I was sitting there with Aria I thought about how in different moments throughout the day (depending on how I feel and what mood I'm in) I will resolve to starve myself skinny, no matter what. At other parts of the day I will think, who the heck cares?? I will just eat and be happy. I was thinking about how my heart is so fickle. I can be so easily swayed.

The foolish man built his house upon the sand. The wise man built his house on the rock.

Lord, help me to flee from the sands of this world. You are my rock and my fortress. Help me to see the things that matter. Help me not to pursue the things that don't.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Levi Stories

I've got to take a minute before I attack what can commonly be known as the Laundry Monster. It's a big scary beast of a thing that threatens to eat your laundry room alive if you do not tame it.
[I haven't done ANY laundry from Thursday until Monday ... yikes!!]

Anyways, I'm discovering that the more Levi learns to talk the better life gets. Yes, he does impose his will and has learned to say the word "No" as a complete sentence, but I think the cuteness of what he says far outweighs all that negative. That's just my opinion.

Levi is very good at knowing where we are in town. Last night I realized just how good he was when I turned down Fair Park to go to International Friendship Outreach's Conversation Club. We go to eat dinner with and talk to international students on Monday nights. Levi's favorite part is the brownie table. The table is just low enough for an almost three year old to reach the brownies quite nicely. Most of the time he asks for a brownie before he takes one. Most of the time. Anyways, we had just turned down the road to Conversation Club when he asked, "Whur (where) we going?" and immediately followed it with, "We gonna have a brownie?" I realized he knew EXACTLY where we were going.

Another funny part of the evening for me was when I took him to the restroom. We were in there and overheard some girls talking in Chinese. When we stepped out of the stall he went right up to one and asked, "What yer talkin' about?" He knew they were communicating, he just couldn't understand. They probably couldn't understand him either.

Levi takes a nap every day and EVERY DAY he tries to convince me that we don't go night night until it's dark outside. Every day. Every day we finish lunch and he starts to tell me, "when it's dark outside, that's when we go to sleep. We don't go to sleep when the sun is still up." No buddy, I'm really sorry, but we are going to take a nap. Today we are going to take a nap just like yesterday and the day before. Every day he says, "I don' wan go nigh nigh." (It's usually all blurred together in what sounds like one word.

We are also working on the difference between yesterday and a while back.

"Yeserday, I got my hand in the door at Deedee's house and it was ouch!"

Yep. That was about a month ago.

After making Levi a peanut butter and jelly sandwich last night he looked up and said, "Thank you for makin' this for me mommy."
Oh Levi, for that I could make you a thousand more.