Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In Loving Memory Part 2

Part 1 will never be shared, it was my immediate reaction after finding out my cousin, Ian, was in heaven. The emotions are too raw, the understanding still very limited. After a week of processing, there are still so many emotions, and they are just below the surface, coming out when I least expect it. The understanding is still limited, but instead of all the questioning, I am trusting that God is still sovereign, and that he is a God of restoration and redemption. Although I do not believe for a second that He caused this to happen, I do believe that He will bring as much good as possible from the broken pieces of lives and relationships that surround it. This is going to be totally candid, I don't think I'll do much editing, I'm just typing, just getting it out, not trying to be perfect. My reactions...

I think of my mommom's graduation photos of her nine grandkids on her table at her house. I think how proud she is of us. I think how it can't be possible that there are only eight of us now. I pray in tears for my mommom.

I look out my kitchen window and see mint, oregano, and cone flowers growing in my garden that were a gift from my aunt (Ian's mom) when we moved in here. And in the middle of washing dishes I am suddenly breaking down, sitting on the floor, with my face in my hands, praying for my aunt as she goes through a tragedy no mother should ever have to face.

I open the refrigerator, and I see lemon juice concentrate, and I remember being at my aunt's when I was a little girl and her and Ian going back and forth over whether real lemon or the concentrate taste better in iced tea. (Ian liked the concentrate.)

I go into the laundry room and see a tiny little cowboys football baby outfit that I have been saving to send to Ian and Becca if they ever had a baby. I cry my eyes out thinking of what might've been.

I open the pantry and see pear chai latte preserves my aunt gave us. I pray more for her.

My mommom comes over and brings along pictures of Ian, some of me and him together. I can hardly stand to look at them for the pain in my head and the pressure in my chest. I ask Jesus to help me pull it together.

I pull out my favorite sweatshirt, and it's the one I got from West Point when we went to visit Ian while he was there.

I see a little kid wearing a superman shirt, and I think how much Ian loved super heroes, his artwork, his obsession with batman when he was little.

I think about pulling out games for company that is coming over for dinner. I think of monopoly, and my mind flashes back to playing with Ian, and how once I gave him all my money and properties for one of the green properties he owned (he could drive a hard bargain) and then was mad at him for the rest of the game for making me pay so much. I smile through tears at that one.

I go to my parents, I see their pool, I think that the last time I saw him was there. August of 2010. I think how I hugged him bye. I don't especially remember that exact moment, but I know it happened because Ian always hugged us goodbye. I think how I had no idea then, not a clue that it was the last time I'd see him. I think how much more I would have said if I had known. I think how I would have held on when he hugged me.

I think of the home videos we've watched at family get togethers, how we would always crack up at Ian's quirky personality and his changing voice, and my personal favorite of him pretending to conduct joanna while she played the piano, and him rapping on the piano with a pencil over and over again. I think how I laughed when I watched it before, and how I'll cry if I watch it again.

I think of playing for hours in my aunt and uncles basement with all my cousins. I think of my grandparents farm (they only lived there until I was four) and playing on the tractors with Ian, going for walks, and other things that seems like dreams now.

I think of the first time I met Becca. I remember our double date, me, Shaun, Ian & Becca, going to the breakfast house, laughing through our whole lunch, feeling like Becca was perfect for Ian. They had this completely original way of flirting and combining sarcastic humor with a special smile or playful touch that was totally unique to them. They were everything to each other. Becca couldn't wait to marry Ian. I think of their engagement. I think of their wedding. They were married in Texas, right after Christmas, and I couldn't get off work to go. I think how I should have just called in and gone anyway. I think of the way Ian was so proud of Becca. I think of how devoted he was to her, how incredibly much she loved him. I think how they are the same ages as Shaun and I. I think how much life they were still supposed to have together.

I get on facebook, I look at his page, I see his smiling face, and I think that's how I'll always see him. Smiling. This can't possibly be reality. He should still be here. I look at Becca's page, and I see her broken heart, the photo of the two of them kissing, the thought of trying to move on when your soul mate is suddenly gone.

I think how he's in heaven with my poppop. I think how he is surrounded by glorious light, in the presense of Jesus, no more tears, no more sadness.

It's amazing how many things in a day can remind you of one person. It's amazing the way we take people for granted when they're still here, and can't stop thinking of them when they're gone.

Somehow writing helps me process. I don't know if there will be a part 3. With his memorial service still a week away, I imagine there might be. If you're reading this, please pray for my aunt and uncle, and for Ian's older brother and younger sister, and for his wife Becca. Please pray for supernatural comfort, and please pray that Jesus will do what he said he'd do in Isaiah 61:3.
"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified."

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Something in my heart is just bursting at the seams as I think about this more and more...

Who or what qualifies me to do any of the things that I do? Am I "qualified" to be a mommy? I don't have a degree in motherhood, and to be honest, when I was pregnant with Drew and had no idea what was coming. I thought my days of being a mother would consist of picking out cute outfits to dress my baby in before heading out the door to take him around with me, or holding him on my chest while I watched tv, and maybe changing a few diapers. I had no idea that babies eat every 2-3 hrs, sometimes for an hour at a time, or that diapers can explode, yes, EXPLODE, or that getting out the door to go anywhere is a mini miracle in and of itself sometimes. I didn't know just how sleepless the nights could be. I didn't know that I probably wouldn't have time for tv anymore. I didn't know that picking out cute outfits for my little darling was going to be limited by first getting the mountains of laundry of baby clothes that had been spit up on/pooped on/peed on done first.

So what is it about motherhood that I find so fulfilling, appealing, amazing, beautiful, and how can I say that it is better than I ever anticipated? It is by the grace of God, and the fact that he called me to be a mommy. How do I know that? Well, the short answer is simply that I have babies. I guess God sees me as qualified. He has put people and circumstances in my life that have become incredible role models to me. There are three people in particular who have inspired me. The common thread of inspiration in all three? They view their life with kids as an adventure. Life is not suddenly limited when you have babies, rather a whole new world of opportunity has been opened up. I'm not saying it can't be stressful sometimes. But if I get an invitation to do something, and I choose to walk out the door with my babies to go and do it, and if I have zero expectation for how the whole thing is going to go, I can make the most of it and probably find something to laugh about no matter how it turns out. And hey, even if it goes terribly wrong, at least I tried. I'm not saying I just say yes to everything, I gotta know my limits, because if I just try to do it all I will end up an exhausted, no-fun, de-energized mom that nobody wants to be around. But I'm all for living an adventurous life with my kids.

What about photography? Sometimes I feel.... pretty un-qualified to say the least. I have never taken a photography class, I don't know all the terminology or even all the functions of my camera, but I am reading my manual and experimenting, and trying... But I definitely don't see myself as a "professional." So what was God thinking when he started opening up doors for me to pursue photography, something that I love, but know next to nothing about? I guess He saw potential in me somewhere. I love art, I love composition, I love coming up with poses/props/settings etc. And I am willing to study my manual to figure out how to create the photo I envision in my head. It's pretty crazy that God sees potential in us, speaks to that, calls it out of us, and launches us into things we feel completely un-prepared for sometimes.

And being a house-wife?? Um, hello, I hate to clean. Or at least, I used to hate to clean. I can't even believe as I'm typing that that it could possibly be past tense. I, um, I think I might, um.... (whispering voice) I like to clean. Yeah that's definitely a miracle right there. And I never cooked a thing besides grilled cheese my whole life growing up. Ok, maybe I tried to make eggs somewhere in my childhood too. But that's seriously about it. And I LOVE to cook now! It makes me so happy to make a menu, and a grocery list, and have a plan and see the looks on my boys faces when dinner is ready... And I love to take dinners to new moms, or bring dishes to church fellowship meals. How did God so completely change my heart and turn things that seemed boring into things that make me come alive?

I guess my answer is this: It is not people, education, or degrees that qualify us to fulfill our God given roles in life. It is God himself, and a heart willing to be molded.

(If God is calling you to be a doctor, by all means, go get your degree, and He'll give you the grace to get through all that schooling... I'm not knocking degrees at all here.)

I am simply saying that I can't find my identity in what man says I am qualified to do. I must find my identity in what God says I can do.

Monday, March 26, 2012

my baby is six months old.

Isaiah Matthew is already six months old. The Lord told me three things about him before he was born. That he was going to be strong, passionate, and a man of action. I also knew that he was going to be LOUD when he was born. And he was. But for whatever reason his cries didn't get me worked up, I just thought to myself, "he's here!! and making sure we know it!" 

When you have one boy, and you're about to have another, you might think you know just what to expect. But Isaiah is completely his own person. And how quickly he has let us know and carved out his own place in our hearts. 

He is SO FULL OF JOY! I cannot express to you how easy it is to get a smile out of this boy. Look at him, he'll smile at you. Touch him, he'll smile at you. Talk to him, he'll smile at you. Give him a toy, he'll smile at you. Even when he is not happy, crying even, if you make the tiniest effort to get him to be happy he will smile at you through his tears. He loves people and interaction. He is so very social. And from day 1 to 6 months old, he is still loud :) He babbles and coos and shrieks and I swear he already tries to say hi. He says mamamama and babababa and dadada and all sorts of other sounds. At seven weeks old someone prophesied over him that he is going to have a long life and a fruitful ministry. Glory Hallelujah Amen Praise Jesus! Bring it on! And about a month ago our friend Nora told me that she felt like Jesus told her that He has a calling on Isaiah's voice, whether it be singing or preaching she's not sure. Whichever it is, I have a feeling he is going to be making a joyful noise his whole life :) On to his 6 month photos... Actually wait, one more thing... At Isaiah's dedication Shaun's dad said something along the lines of Isaiah being a strong boy, and that it's the joy of the Lord that is his strength. K, NOW on to the photos :) 

I love this. He is so not bashful, but he has perfected the "pretend" bashful look, and this captures it so perfectly :) 
More things I love about him, his eyelashes, his chubby hands, and his little piggies :) 

I do love this photo, but can I just be honest for a second? This was like, the one out of 20 where it looks like he is sitting peacefully next to his teddy. In all of the others he was wrestling teddy, falling on top of teddy, and trying to eat teddy. 

More joy... Daddy walked into the room and got these smiles out of Isaiah :) 

I had 6 month photos done of Drew wearing this same tie of Shaun's. Drew was sitting up for most of them. However, remember the wrestling tendency that was mentioned in reference to teddy? Turns out Isaiah will wrestle just about anything, including daddy's tie. So most of my photos of him in the tie he was toppled over for :) 

Just for fun, a photo from Isaiah and Drew's 6 month photos side by side :)

Oh and one final disclaimer: I did not edit a single one of these photos even one little bit. I definitely could have made them better by doing so, but I just didn't take the time to do it. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

thank you Jesus for your strong arms that hold us when we can't stand.

thank you for never leaving our side, especially in the midst of great trials.

thank you for being our rock and our fortress, our stronghold in times of trouble.

thank you for hiding us under the shadow of your wings.

thank you for being a God of redemption and restoration.

thank you for being our comforter.

thank you for crying with us, for being moved by what moves us.

thank you for rescuing those who are crushed in spirit.

i'm wrapping myself up in who you are today. i need you to speak clarity to my soul, and peace to my heart.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

wednesday morning...

drew is in the bath tub lining up his toy trains on the ledge and pretending to be a dolphin.

isaiah is laying on the floor next to me babbling with his fingers in his mouth, rolling onto his belly over and over again and then getting mad cause he can't figure out how to get back onto his back.

i'm in a t-shirt and sweatpants and pony tail, doing load after load of laundry of all the things drew threw up on in the middle of the night last night. he's totally fine this morning.

shaun is working hard for us as usual.

and i'm smiling. i still feel like a kid sometimes, so how is it that i'm married, and have a house, and two babies? i just can't believe it, and i can't believe how much i love it either. my favorite thing about it, actually two favorite things, are that i get to have sleepovers with my best friend every night, and that i get to play with my babies. throw up and all.

the other day drew and i were playing keep away in the backyard and all the sudden drew decided to just drop down on the grass on his back and asked me to lay next to him. we shaded our eyes and looked up at the sky at airplanes and birds and bugs and clouds for i don't even know how long. me and my little buddy laying on the grass next to me.

we picnic on the back porch.
we go for walks.
we color.
we play playdough.
we tickle and wrestle.
we clean together (yes, drew likes to clean!!)
we read books.

i spent all day monday cleaning. and guess what? my house is dirty again. my mom had a friend who told her "the mess will always be there, the kids won't."

i'm trying to learn to balance the cleaning and the playing, and it's hard sometimes. i like organization. but i don't think i'll ever regret choosing to put down the sponge to hold my babies for a minute instead of having all the dishes washed.

wednesday morning thoughts.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Growing up

So this morning, a revelation hit me right between the eyes. My babies are getting big. 

Now, maybe you are thinking, "um, yeah... that's what happens...." And, like, I know this already too. But for whatever reason it became real in a whole new way today. Drew used to beg me to hold him constantly during worship on Sunday mornings, and I loved to oblige, trying to hold either him or Isaiah through the whole time. Today was asking Drew to let me hold him. He was happy to run free. He wasn't begging me to hold him. All of the sudden I thought to myself, "this season will eventually end completely." Drew is by no means tired of me holding him yet, and still asks me to carry him anywhere he can get me to, but for the first time today he wasn't jumping in my arms quite as willingly. And the realization that he will eventually outgrow me holding him at all hit me hard. "Oh my word, he's really only a baby for a little while," I thought. It just made me want to savor it all the more. I could cry typing this. I love these two little boys I have been given, and snuggling them is my primary way to show them just how much. What will I do when they don't want to be snuggled anymore? Please Lord, let them always allow me to at least hug them, no matter how old they are. 

I love that they are growing up, I love seeing their character develop, and each new stage brings more joy and new things to teach them and new firsts for each of them. But I pray I never look so forward to the next stage that I forget to cherish the one we're in now. I could write so much more, but don't have time right now, cause I've got some snuggling to do :) 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Cushy Christians....

Poor Drew.... I just have to share this story because I don't want to forget it! It's had me laughing all day... 

This morning I went out to breakfast and did some shopping with my mama as a belated birthday date just me and her. When I came home Shaun, Drew and Isaiah were in the back yard playing. I went out to say hi and tell them I was home and we were chit chatting as we came inside. We went into the living room and I sat down to feed Isaiah and Drew came up to me and said "Mommy, don't ike (like) crishions." 

I thought he was saying he doesn't like christians. I thought that was strange, because we have never even really used the word christian around him much... we more just talk about loving Jesus with him at this age... So anyway, needless to say, I was a bit concerned. I proceeded to tell him that we do like christians,  and that actually we're christians, and he is too, to which he interrupted me to tell me that he is not a "crishion." Now I was really getting concerned, and I said "buddy, you love Jesus right? That makes you a christian." He told me that crishions don't ove (love) Jesus and he not crishion. I tried telling him that all the people we go to church with are christians, and surely he loves them. All to no avail. Oh boy. How do you explain all of this to a two and a half year old? I decided to drop the subject for the time being and if it came up again I'd try a different approach. 

An hour or two later, after lunch and a walk, we were headed back outside to enjoy more of the beautiful weather. As soon as we opened the back screen door Drew pointed out and said "mommy, don't ike crishions." Oh no... back on this topic again... Then I asked him to go point to what it was exactly that he doesn't like. He climbed up on the picnic table, pointed over the railing to the neighbors back deck, to their deck furniture to be precise, on which were perched brand new cushions. And he said again, "mommy, don't ike crishions." CUSHIONS! Just with an "r" in there and a little bit of a different vowel sound, "i" instead of "u". Oh thank heavens! But now... What did I get myself into? Did I really try to tell him that he is a cushion? That cushions love Jesus? That all the people we go to church with are cushions too? I couldn't help it, I started laughing, and laughing, and laughing (and I've been giggling ever since). So now, to clean up my mess and try to restore clarity to his little mind, I told him that mommy made a mistake, and cushions and christians are two different things... And as I'm talking he is starting to repeat back to me "cushion" and "christian" and make the distinction between the sounds... Oh beautiful! So I began describing the function of a cushion as opposed to a christian. I told him that cushions sit on chairs, and look pretty, and they're for sitting our hineys on... 

More concern from Drew. "Mommy! Don't, want, sit, on, christians, with hiney!" "No, no Drew, we sit on cushions, not christians, you don't have to sit on christians..." Clearly, we still have some confusion on the topic. Poor Drew. I think I'm even confused. 

Why did he have to have such a strong opinion on the neighbors new porch cushions anyway?? 

It's here!!!

I can't believe it!!! Spring! There's no stopping it now! Although it feels funny being this excited when we hardly had winter this year. I told Shaun today it didn't feel like we should be "springing ahead" yet, feels like we just fell back, and like winter hasn't happened yet. Oh well, I'm as excited as ever for so many reasons :) 

Me and Drew had our first picnic outside last week. Quite lovely. 

And there are springy greens popping up here and there now. 
(Drew's little boy hands digging in the dirt with his back hoe above.) 

 Hello Spring time!!! I'm glad you're back :)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mental photography & a bit about my babies

Maybe this won't be the most entertaining read for others, but it's the most entertaining "write" for me... I love reflecting on my babies :)

I love photography, I love capturing sweet moments between my boys, or their silly expressions, or their joy over the tiniest things... But sometimes, when my instinct is to go for the camera, something stops me. I don't want to always be taking in sweet moments through a lens. Sometimes, you have to just take it in through your eyes. No camera in the way. No stressing about getting it on the right setting and clicking the shutter before the moment passes. Just savoring it, soaking it in, and knowing that whether or not anyone else gets to see their affection, you'll be able to see it in your mind's eye forever.

I'm not feeling the greatest today. Not deathly sick, but definitely not myself. So we took it easy today. After lunch I pulled up the movie cars on the laptop (it is Drew's favorite right now) And we climbed in bed and pulled up covers and snuggled. Drew asked for a "cage"- no one else would be able to guess what he's talking about, but for whatever reason that's what he says when he wants my arm around him. To feel secure and protected, to be snuggled.... He says, "mommy, want, cage." And so I slip my arm around him and he snuggles in :) Anyway, Isaiah was laying on my lap, sideways, with his head toward Drew, and every now and then he'd stretch his neck and look back, upside down, at Drew and smile and coo, and Drew would take his eyes off the movie and look at Isaiah and smile back, and kiss his forehead. So tenderly. He's so proud of his baby brother. One of the times Isaiah looked back at Drew he reached out and grabbed Drew's hand, and Drew wrapped his little boy fingers around Isaiah's and they just held hands and smiled at each other. It was a moment. I so wish I could share it, but I lived in it instead. And it was the sweetest thing. There's something about their little baby hands that just melts me, and I could cry just thinking about it. The dimples instead of knuckles, the chubby wrists, the way they reach out to you and grab hold of your heart and you know you'll never be the same. They just held on and laughed little boy laughs with each other and swayed their hands back and forth, and I just took it all in. The moment ended when Isaiah pulled Drew's hand toward his mouth and tried to stuff it in, and Drew said "No, saiah, not food, don't eat it," and pulled his hand back. :)

So there it is. A mental photograph. They say a picture paints a thousand words, and I most definitely did not use a thousand words to paint this picture for you, but I'm pretty sure a thousand words couldn't do it justice anyway. I hope someday when I come back and read this I'll not only see it again, but hear it, feel it, and be moved by it too. Maybe I'm silly, I mean, it's just one moment. But for me, I live for the sweet moments like that.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Coleson Isaac

Oh my.... The precious newborns in my life. Coleson means son of victory. And this little boy was the victory of his mommy and daddy's prayers for him from day 1. 

Bethany went into pre-term labor at 20 weeks. That's half way through pregnancy. That's scary. It takes a faith that can move mountains, a ton of prayers, the grace of God, and a peace that surpasses understanding to contend for a full-term pregnancy after that. Bethany was on bed-rest for the next 17 weeks, conquering milestone after milestone, going into labor several more times and being in the hospital way too much, but always coming home still pregnant, with another small battle won in the huge war they would fight to see her pregnancy through to the finish line. There are so many small details and mini-miracles and emotions that I'll never be able to put into words for them here, but I can tell you that none of her Doctors ever thought she would make it to within 5 days of her due date, but she did. And they came home with a healthy, full-term, handsome baby boy. A son of Victory. 

Trials can be the end for some people. Or they can refine you, make you stronger, and show you just how solid the foundation is on which you stand. Todd and Bethany both have said that although they would never want to go through something like this again, their marriage is stronger, their faith is stronger, their testimony is amazing, and they experienced a peace that can only come from God throughout the battle. 

Coleson is so precious and such a perfect addition to their family. I just have to add here too that Izzy's headband, both of Coleson's hats and his green blanket were all made by Bethany, a talent she had before, but took to a whole new level while on bed rest during her pregnancy with him. :)