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.