Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christan's BD...In Pictures

Dear Father, Christian's birthday was great.  A trip into the city, dinner at his favorite restaurant and a late night birthday cake, all wrapped up with goodness and love and each otherness... So proud of my guy.  I love his tender heart, his brilliant mind, his ocean eyes.  Your grace and favor cover him and his smile tells a thousand words when he talks about You.  Thank you, thank you for him, such a gift...

The Long Version of Easter 2011

As I stare out the window and see yet another dreary day, I am especially thankful for this last weekend.  Today I have already vowed 10 times to be thankful for rain, clouds, more rain and clouds.  After all, the grass is greening up and at least it's not snowing.  
Good Friday was dreary.  It was fitting.  We were late to church and ended up in the standing in the lobby the whole time.   But in the dark atmosphere, all eyes on the large cross in front of us, Kelly recounted the story of the crucifixion, how Jesus was innocent, and how Barabbas was guilty.  We are all Barabbas.  That is, until we come to Jesus [believe in, rely on, trust in, depend upon Him] and He exchanges our sin for His righteousness and frees us from the gunk that would otherwise muck up our lives.  Christian was riveted.  He stood, leaning against a doorframe, his body still (rare).  Even after the glorious celebration Sunday morning, he said the Good Friday service was his favorite.  I don't understand fully how God used it to touch his heart, but I'm thankful my heavenly Father, who loves us so radically, knows my boy far more intimately than I ever will.  I don't think I will ever forget the sight of him leaning on that doorframe, still, God working something deep in his heart.   I am reminded of Mary, how she loved to just be still with Jesus, soaking Him in.
Ethan was more like Martha on Good Friday, concerned about the people coming in late like us, helping set up chairs and probably wondering about the fire code, like our friend who was ushering that night.  I love his servant's heart, and yet sometimes I fret that he's missing the wonder of a moment that I personally feel is not to be missed.  

Thankfully, again, God wired him to be how he is and is always reminding me that HE causes the growth and draws Ethan.  And Ethan was drawn.  The Sunday morning Easter service was like no other, and this time we were up front, only a couple rows back, and Ethan was riveted.   In a nutshell, Kelly laid out why Christianity is different from all other religions and methodically went through each major religion in the world, what they require for salvation and their remedy for sin.  I left thinking how GRATEFUL and BLESSED!!! I am to be a follower of Jesus.   Ethan felt like that too.  
And little G.  We grabbed a quick picture with the Easter bunny in the park on Friday.  She toddled around with the other little ones in the nursery both Friday night and Sunday morning.   We woke up to sunshine Easter morning, and I grabbed some pics of the kids on the back porch.

Easter dinner was enjoyed with family, lots of family!  I chased Gia around most of the time, but it was good to catch up with everyone in little snippets of conversation.
Lord, you are GOOD!  You are the One and Only One who is mighty to save! I give thanks to You for moving in my family this weekend, surrounding us with sunshine and family and HOPE.  Amen!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gia: At Spicy 18 Months!

Our sweet and spicy G is fully embracing her age.  She’s a bundle of energy and emotions, discovering her world and learning more day by day.  I love this age.  She is beginning to say more words, but mostly expresses herself with her body language.  One minute she’s gently kissing someone or something on the cheek, the next minute giving “the look” and whacking the air, herself, or me!  She hears “Gia is sooo gentle and kind” many times a day.  Mommy is saying that about herself too.  And praying a lot. 

The hair.  Oh, my.  It’s crazy.   We love it.   My Sudanese friend frequently comments about how I should be braiding it, and she can’t resist braiding it every time she comes over.  She says it’s the African thing to do.  I’m afraid I’m failing miserably in the braiding department.  It’s on the list of Things To Learn this year...along with a slew of other Important Things.
G has discovered the piano.  She begs to play it.  So she sits there and rocks the house, her whole body involved in the music.  We have a dancer on our hands, hip-hop hands down being her favorite music.  It’s what happens when you have two older brothers.
She loves her boys.  Her boys love her.   She, I’m certain, is the greatest gift they’ve ever experienced, ever been given.  It’s a tender sight, seeing them laugh with little G, care for her and lead her around by the hand.  
I continue to be amazed that God has allowed us to walk this path.   It is challenging at times, yet none of us could ever imagine life without her.  She infuses our family with joy and is a continuous reminder of the sheer amazing grace of our Father.  We love you like crazy, sweet daughter.  You rock.  Jesus has BIG plans for you.   
Jesus, what can I say?  You already know the breadth of emotions I have when I think about my daughter, as I care for her and watch her grow.   Children are a gift.  You have chosen to bless us richly.   I love you.  Amen.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico was a pleasant surprise.  Lush rainforest, pristine secluded beaches and warm weather...all of it delighted our senses. 

The best things, though, were the simple things:  munching fish tacos while overlooking the ocean, waking up to yet another sunny day, flip-flops and sunscreen, and our rented Jeep.  Togetherness.

Each day we hopped in the Jeep, fired up Shelly (our faithful GPS) and went on a new adventure into unknown territory.  We met some really nice people, saw all sorts of creatures you just don’t see in the Midwest, ate some interesting food, drank lots of Diet Coke with lime,  and took in the landscape.

Little G was such a girl.  Here’s what she thought about sand:

She experienced lots of firsts: glass elevators, the ocean, seashells and fried food and no schedule.   By the end of the week, she was okay with all of it and even stood by herself in the elevator and stood by herself in the moments for a little 17-month-old!

Christian de-tailed half the lizards in Puerto Rico, accidentally, of course.  Chasing lizards, counting the snails on the trees and spotting iguanas...he loved every minute of it.    He and Ethan snorkeled on a beach tucked in a sleepy town in the northwest corner of PR, definitely off the beaten path.  We were the practically the only ones there.   They saw colorful fish, huge sea urchins and lots of coral...really amazing.

The rainforest was a highlight.   Waterfalls and green as far as you could see...

Another highlight: Dorado, where we stayed, was hit with around 5 inches of rain in one hour.  Sheets of rain poured out of the sky, warm rain.  My boys, of course, couldn’t resist and actually swam in the pool until I made them get out.  The pool ended up flooding and was closed for a couple days.  I will never forget peering out into the storm and seeing only two dots in the pool, tossing a ball back and forth, and willing them to get out of the pool with a prayer!   It was an amazing storm.  The picture below is before the storm.

Father, thank you for our trip.  We loved it.  You are an amazing creator of beauty and majesty.  Our time together as a family was priceless.  We are grateful.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Breaking Through the Clouds

I love spring.  It's supposed to be 70 degrees today...woohoo!  This week has been rainy, cold, ick, and I wonder why in the world we live in the Midwest.  Oh, yeah, it's God's plan.  Part of that plan is learning to absolutely delight in the seasons, and spring is becoming a close contender with summer.

I miss blogging.  There has been so little extra time.   I miss it, though, and I miss keeping up with my blogging friends.  I sat down a couple days ago and caught up on a good handful of blogs.  After an hour, I left my computer feeling encouraged and amazed at the work the Lord is accomplishing.   He is good.  He is changing lives.  It's so beautiful.  And hard.  Following the Lord is a narrow road.  

These past few months I've been investing lots of time and energy into my future and sort-of-now career: web design and development.  I've been doing a little work and spending a lot of time on learning.   My sweet spot, though, is still Re:new (a sewing ministry for refugee women).  God is growing me up.   I am increasingly dependent upon Him for my days.  The pull of work and Re:new, my passion for both, is good.  But it's a fine line.   God has given me these good things because they are His agenda, His way of accomplishing His work through me somehow.  But He still wants my family, my kids to be the first priority.

I have increasingly wondered how designing websites and learning php code is His work.  I have no idea.  I do know He has opened doors in these areas, I am stepping through them, and oh, I so need Jesus!  Lord, I pray I do not veer off your path!

As I find myself impatient for Gia's nap time to come (so I can get work accomplished), a little warning bell goes off in my head.  Cherish every moment with her.  Be present in the moment.  Teach her about me.  Do not worry about getting stuff done.  My grace is sufficient.  I will provide time.  I will keep you on track.
But it's a battle.  It's a new thing for me, being a mom and a volunteer and working on a career.  I have not ever been in this space.  I feel excitement and peace about it all, yet I feel I'm on high alert with priorities, constantly checking to see I'm doing what God needs me to be doing, feeling tugged one way or another.
Readjusting.   Rethinking.   Thankful for grace when I fail.  Thankful for this path.

I hear Gia...sweet and spicy girl.  Almost 18 months.  Wow.

Lord, may Jesus consume me, not anything else.  Keep Your goals for my day in front of me.  Let my ears be open.  Show me Your heart.  Thank you for your faithfulness.  In Jesus' name, amen.

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