10.31.2012

Beauty


Daniel thought of me this morning when he saw the sunrise from the church office where he had gone for a mens' Bible study.  Though it is a little blurry, this is a truly beautiful shot. Thankful for Daniel who thought of me and captured a moment he knew I would have stood in awe, looking on, had I been there with him.

On a different note of beauty, I was tucking Erin into bed tonight.  (Most nights, I give Patrick a back rub and Erin a nose kiss.)   I told her how much I love her - "all the way to the moon and back" - and that "I will always love you.".  

Erin is all into "when I'm bigger like you..." right now.  

So, she goes off on, "When I'm bigger, I'll be a mommy like you.  And Daddy (I had to explain that it would be her own husband, not daddy!) will go downstairs and get me coffee and give it to me in bed.  And, when my eyes are itching, I'll wear glasses just like you!"

It was precious.  

And, I was amazed by how observant she was by our morning routine!  Kids don't miss a thing.  

10.30.2012

Thanks-giving leads to Thanks-living

In the midst of the terrible hurricane that has hit the Northeast last night and today, we personally have only experienced high wind gusts and much cooler temperatures; thankfully most of the people in our area have not experienced power loss.  Our CC group was cancelled for the day as a result of the storm, so we've spent the day at home.  

In today's multi-media, fast pace, gotta.be.involved.in.everything.all.the.time world, it is easy to become discontent with staying home for a day.  Even my kids frequently ask first thing in the morning, "Mommy, where are we going today?".  Much of the time, we are going somewhere.  

Recently, I've cut a weekly event from my schedule because I'm a wife, a mother, a runner, and a doula; going out every day was just too much.  Taking the kids to a morning-long activity is often exhausting and all I can do when I get home is get the kids fed, the kitchen tidied, eat lunch myself (I often forget), and put them down for rest time.  

My work can sometimes pull me out of the house at odd hours of the day, for long periods of time.  

I'm training for a 1/2 marathon (which is in 18 days), and truth be told, that takes a LOT of my time.  On Saturdays after long training runs, I'm usually exhausted - both physically and mentally (seriously, 11 miles, while great, will do you in!).  

Generally, I like to rest for at least an hour in the afternoons just to give me the energy to carry on through the evening hours after Daniel gets home.  

Given the above, in my house, laundry is often piled in mounds, cobwebs have appeared out of nowhere overnight, toilets are in dire need of cleaning...  you get the idea.

Today, we are home. All day. 

Ann Voskamp's book "One Thousand Gifts"  has it written right on the front: "A dare to live fully right where you are."  To live fully.  Right where you are.  

Much of the time, living fully where you are is hard.  

Cleaning toilets, folding laundry, wiping grody-nosed baby faces (or cleaning poopy bums for the 3rd time in a day!), cleaning up last night's crumbs in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, wiping down the counter tops, sweeping the floor, etc. can get mundane.  

It is exhausting.

One of the best bits of encouragement my mom has ever given me (paraphrased): Remember: when you are folding those socks {or that mountain of laundry!}, that you have those socks because you have a husband and children. {Thanksgiving right there!} Be thankful for those socks, that mountain of laundry!

That I have those socks, little and big, that positive Mount Everest of laundry, is the representation of my blessings.




Today, we stayed home.  We started the day off slow.  

I texted my sister and dear friends to be sure they survived the wind-storm. (They were all okay, Praise Him!)

I drank my spiced chai - it burned my already raw throat.  ;)  Daniel and I read 1st Kings 3 together before he left for work.  We talked it through.

I climbed out of my warm bed into a cool room and cleaned the positively snot-crusted face of my baby while singing "Go Tell it on the Mountain" to my sweet Cammon (her favorite song).  I donned 3 running shirts to ward off the chill in the air before I poured dry cereal for Patrick and Erin.  I dawdled on facebook, checking in on many friends in the Northeast. I made a cup of coffee or two (or three...).  

I laughed with Patrick and Erin as the wrestled, tangled amid the blue hand-knitted blanket I made years ago.  I intervened and moderated fights between the best-friend-siblings.  I protected the little one from these spats.  

Laundry was thrown into the dryer and the washer filled to the brim with dirty clothes.  

I talked with my mom on the phone, interrupted by a spontaneous visit by my dear friend, 22 weeks pregnant (for the first time) with twin boys, as she stopped by to drop off a fuel belt (water bottle belt, literally) for me to borrow during the next few weeks as I gear up for my 1/2 marathon.  

I rejoiced with Hannah at her beautiful baby belly, knowing how many years she has longed for that belly.  I felt the movements of her sons.  I gave her shirts.  She left and I called my mom back and we talked until Daniel called during his lunch break.  Daniel and I talked and shared eucharisteos for the day.

Nap time came.  Children were put in bed to rest.  I was tired.  I checked facebook once more to check in on dear friends.  I went to rest.  I, nearly asleep, was interrupted by Patrick who came to my room, two tin whistles in hand, wanting a quick lesson on the things we practiced last night.  Exhausted though I was and through His grace, I knew the tin whistle lesson was worth far more than a few moments rest.

We practiced for 3 minutes.  Patrick performed beautifully and was satisfied with his lesson.  He gladly left the room, closed my door and headed to the playroom, tin whistle in hand.  I tried to rest.  It was 5pm.

Needless to say, I didn't get much rest.  I am tired now as I write, yet, today was beautiful. Beautiful truly doesn't even begin to explain it.  

Today was a mundane day by many people's standards.  

Yet, I was blessed by time in the Word with my husband, nurturing my children, finding out all my dear friends survived the hurricane OK, washing a mound of laundry, drying a mountain of laundry, fellowship over the phone with my mom, video chat with my sister, a short visit with a dear friend, cooking dinner, rest-time interrupted by a child eager to learn...

Seriously, what more could I ask for?  I am thankful.  Truly, deeply, thankful to my Father for the blessings of an ordinary day at home.  

Thanks be to Him, I was able to fully live where I was.  I look forward to tomorrow and the blessings in store.

10.28.2012

Grandparents, Pumpkin Patches and Glory Hunts

Wow - we've had quite the busy week or so since my last post.  I'm hoping to post about once a week, but truth be told, that may be a bit ambitious for this season of life.  I might have to settle for once or twice a month for now.  (Forewarning - this post has a LOT of pictures!)

That having been said, we have been so thankful for the many blessings this past weekish.  Last weekend we were able to attend a marriage conference on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  It was an incredible time of laughter, encouragement and growth in the Lord.  Many of our friends attended the conference as well, and it was a blessing to visit with them during the break sessions.

My parents-in-law came into town from Michigan to attend the conference as well, so we were able to spend the weekend with them while also attending the marriage conference.  Since Daniel and I have been married (almost 6.5 years), I can't remember a time when just Doug and Jane have come without any of Daniel's sisters.  While we always enjoy spending time with his sisters, it was an unusual treat to just have time with them.  Patrick, Erin and Cammon were especially delighted to have time with "Opa and Oma"  as we only get to see then a handfull of times per year.

After the marriage conference on Saturday, Daniel and I went out to lunch at Panera and had a wonderful time reflecting on some of the points from the conference.  We cherish those one-on-one moments out together knowing that the kiddos are being well taken care of.  It was also a blessing because I had to run 10 miles with a friend that afternoon (it took all afternoon, too!), so our opportunity to reflect on the conference together was limited.

Sunday, we all attended church together.  My parents, sister, brother-in-law and niece also attend the same church.  It was positively delightful to all sit together - Erin sat between my mom and Jane and was in granddaughter heaven with a grandmother on each side.  :)  After church, the weather was beautiful, so we decided to go to a local pumpkin patch.  The kids had never been before, so this was a new experience AND their grandparents, and Aunty Sarah, Uncle John and Carol were there, too.


Patrick and Erin climbing the huge pile of pumpkins as we waited in line for the 1st hayride.


Poor Cammon - this whole waiting in line thing during naptime is exhausting!

Oma (Jane), Erin, Patrick and Gramma (my mom) on the hayride.



They had a great corn maze to explore as we made our way to the actual pumpkin patch.




  

 Erin was quite taken with the corn - she collected a handfull and was trying to stash them in her skirt pocket.  ;)  I think she eventually decided it made more sense to feed the corn to the cows.









 The pumpkin patch had this awesome tractor-drawn train for the kids to ride.  Both Patrick and Erin wanted to ride in the first car, so it took 2 rounds for each of them to enjoy the train.  Patrick had a grand time occupying himself on a hay bale while Erin rode the train.

Cammon finally woke up and Daniel took a turn carrying her in the Ergo.  She seemed to enjoy looking at the cows, and the beautiful scenery.


The patch had this seriously nifty slide - I guess it was some kind of heavy-duty plastic or rubber or something, but it was long and the kids loved it.

Picking pumpkins.  



The hayride back to the parking lot and a short visit to see the rabbits.  Erin adores animals and particularly enjoyed this facet of the exploration.


We were also able to use this exploration as a Glory Hunt as well - the opportunities to seek out His glory are endless just about anywhere.  We enjoyed pointing out the color contrast of the green grass, the mountains covered in fall-colored leaves, the blue sky, the remains of the corn stalks.  All of it was stunning.


10.17.2012

"Do you like it?"


It has been a l.o.n.g. time since I've posted.  I was nearly 8 months pregnant when I wrote last - she is now nearly 19 months old!  Perhaps not an excuse for my extended blogging absence, but it at least provides an explanation.  ;)

(During this time, life has changed loads.  I am the mother of 3 children, I have taken up soapmaking as a hobby, and I work part-time as a doula.  Our older two children are now school age - we are homeschooling them. A good friend dared me to try running as both a means of staying active without a gym membership and a tool to help as I slowly shed the baby weight - I'm now training for a 1/2 marathon.)

So, why do I write now?

In the last 15 months, I purchased and read Ann Voskamp's book, "One Thousand Gifts". And wow.  Voskamp's wisdom, humility and insights to fully living where you are, to seeking the Joy of the Lord has had a huge impact on me as I strive to serve God as a wife, mother, new-homeschooling mom, and doula.  (Voskamp's blog is superb - be sure to check it out!)

In the book, Voskamp talks about writing down thanksgivings in a journal as a reminder of the many ways the Lord has blessed her.  A task that promoted seeing His hand in the big and the small.

I love writing and took to heart the task of journaling thanks - eucharisteo.   What better way to document that 1st step, the twinkle in Daniel's eye, a grin or giggle from Patrick or Erin?  What better way to find joy - to see the Lord's gifts - in the sometimes beautiful-stressful days of mothering 3?

Like many others, I become concerned - worried even - when an election draws near.  The older I get, the more seriously I view elections and the far-reaching impact a "bad" choice can have on generations to come - how freedom can slowly be chipped away.  This year is no different.  In fact, I feel more strongly about the upcoming election than ever.

This election, like so many events in life, pulls me to my knees before the Lord, in prayer and petition.  Some days, I physically nearly feel sick as I consider the possible outcome of the election and the repercussions for the years to come.  Yet, in those moments of jaw-clenching tension, or flat out fear and worry, I'm reminded that, for those who are alive in the Lord, "I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom. 8:38-39)

I am comforted.  



I look at the sky, and I see His hand. "I am here."  The sky proclaims His glory.  I half-expect to see the Lord coming again to bring His children home to the eternal presence of the Father.



 











    


I see His love, His beauty in the autumn leaves.  In the rays of sunshine streaming through.  

Today was beautiful.  His majesty through creation was everywhere the eye could reach.  It was the perfect day to go on an exploration - a Glory Hunt - with the kids into creation to seek out beauty in His handiwork.  We drove on the parkway and I, 1/2 on a whim, pulled into the parking lot of an overlook trail with an estimated 30 minutes of walking time.  Thankful that I always wear Cammon - our nearly 19 month old daughter - in the Ergo out to the car so I can be hands-free locking the door, etc, I proclaimed to Patrick and Erin that we were going on a hike, got out of the car and donned the Ergo, Cammon in it, on my back.

















Thank you, Jesus for the fall colors, the open trail, the flowers, the leaves, the moss, a stump to sit on, a tree to climb, a pinecone stick, space to run, flowers to wear.  Ann Voskamp said near the end of a recent blog post, "When you slow is when you hear, 'Do you like it?  I made it just for you.'"

Lord, I love it.  Thank you.