Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Isn't this the cutest?!

Little Sucker

Last night I checked on the girls before I went to bed. After making sure the older two were covered, I peeked in on the baby. She was asleep with her thumb in her mouth. Too cute! We may have problems in the future breaking this habit. For now, we have a cute little thumb sucker which makes for a happy baby!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Christmas with Jesus

Dad loved Christmas so much. To think of him saying these types of things to me are a comfort. I do believe his perspective is different now. He must see things in a whole new way. He's with Jesus. What a way to spend Christmas. Couldn't get better than that, huh Dad? Actually it can. Just wait until that Christmas when we all get to be with Jesus together!

I see the countless Christmas trees
Around the world below,
With tiny lights like heaven's stars
Reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular
please wipe away that tear
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear
but the sound of music can't compare
with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.

I have no words to tell you
of the JOY their voices bring
for it is beyond description
to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending CHRISTMAS
WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.

I can't tell you of the SPLENDOR
or the PEACE here in this place
Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS
WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face

I'll ask him to lift your spirit
as I tell him of your love
so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER
as you lift your eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful
and let your spirit sing
for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

~Wanda Bencke

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas and Tears

On the ride home last night, I heard the lyrics to a song I don't believe I've heard before. It applied to my heart this year.

I think of loved ones who’ve passed away
And I pray their resting in a better place
I think of memories of years gone by
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

I think of soldiers across the sea
Sometimes I wonder its them instead of me
For my freedom they give their lives
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

Tears of thankfulness, tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas cause I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

I think of families, I think of home
And say a prayer for those who spend this time alone
Cause love can reach out into a silent night
And that’s why Christmas makes me cry

Tears of thankfulness, tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas cause I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

I think of Mary and the virgin birth
And I’m amazed at how much God thinks we’re worth
That He would send His only Son to die
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

Tears of thankfulness, tears of hope
I cry tears of joy at Christmas cause I know
There is peace on earth for every heart to find
And sometimes Christmas makes me cry

This morning I cried. Dad's chair will be empty at the breakfast table this morning. Rod's dad won't greet us with herring, cheese, sardines and hardtack Christmas morning. There are clouds overshadowing Andelise's first Christmas. We are going to have to be intentional about focusing on the true meaning of Christmas as well as on our kids so that the floodgates of tears don't pour open these next couple of days.

It will be easy to focus on the sadness. I'm a traditionalist and if you've been following my blog, you know how important traditions are to me. Dad set up a lot of traditions. This year we're breaking many of them. Well, maybe breaking isn't a great word. Starting new ones. Things are different. In order to cope, we are starting new traditions this year. It's going to be some difficult days now as the busyness of preparation is over and Christmas is here.

I take comfort in knowing that God came near. He became human for us. Immanuel. He understands every pain we endure. Jesus wept. He knows what it is like to lose somebody we love.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A moment like this

Yesterday I held my baby girl while she slept for two hours. It was a wonderful feeling to snuggle with this little creation of God.

Got me thinking.

What is wrong with this life that more often than not things keep me too busy from moments like these.

I really would like to have a goal to be more intentional in the coming year to have more moments like these.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Current Book Read - Heaven by Randy Alcorn

"You are made for a person and a place. Jesus is the person. Heaven is the place. They are a package -- you cannot get Heaven without Jesus or Jesus without Heaven." - Randy Alcorn, Heaven

"See the Lord while He may be found; call on Him while He is near." - Isaiah 55:6

Sunday, December 14, 2008

He does exist!

I decided that since it's been over a year since I started this blog, I should probably get a picture of Rod & I up. It's not that my husband isn't important to me, it's just that we didn't really have any pictures handy on the computer to post.

So, there he is to the right. It's last September when he threw me that surprise 30th birthday party a couple of months early. Truly, one of my fondest memories!

December Craziness

It's December 14th already? Truly, it seems as though December, in particular, is a balancing act. How much can you fit into a day and how can you prioritize it to make certain every minute counts? There are deadlines to be met. Every day is a countdown to a Christmas gathering or Christmas day itself. We attempt to see how little sleep we can get by on so we can cram just a little more into the day. It's necessary to pay attention to the food we eat so we aren't mindlessly adding to our waistline. I've heard that "the average American will gain at least five pounds of body fat during the holidays". I certainly don't want to be average or above average in this case. Balance during this season is extremely difficult to find.

Yesterday was one of those days where I had crammed too much into the previous week, was lacking sleep and ate like there was no tomorrow. Today, I feel rested. (I wonder if that could be related to actually going to sleep at a decent hour?) Because I have that restfulness, I don't feel as much stress. I do, however, feel "blah" from my eating binge yesterday. My joints all feel swollen from the water retention resulting from all the salty foods I inhaled. My mouth feels like I can't possibly drink enough water to satisfy my thrist and the scale says I put on that five pounds of holiday fat in one day! In all seriousness, I know I didn't gain five pounds yesterday. One day of eating right will correct the scale to bring it a little closer to reality.

Today, I'm going to make certain I get some rest again. I cannot possibly get through another week without it. I'm going to eat healthy. My focus is to get five fruits and/or vegetables in today and track what I eat while I am certain to drink enough glasses of water. And last, but certainly not least, I am going to ask God for help through my day. Why is it so easy to prioritize Him right out of our lives when things get busy even though He should be at the top of the list?

This season is supposed to be about God. I need to be certain I don't forget Him or intentionally push Him aside.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thank You, Lord

These days, I feel like I am coming out of a fog. There are mixed emotions. My mind is cloudy at times but overall, I am beginning to see more clearly. I am able to decipher my emotions. I am okay with being sad at times or the enjoyment involved in recalling different memories. I am gaining self-control in different areas of my life. My relationship with God is deepening as well as my relationships with others. I desire to know more about God and Heaven. I desire to talk to God and hear Him more. I desire to have our friendships grow. I feel as though I am living more with purpose.

Life's been hard. This month has been good. Being intentional in finding something to thank God for on a daily basis has made for a more joyful me and a more peaceful home life. I've always thought of myself as a grateful human being. It will do my heart and life good to continue to find something each day to intentionally thank God for - even when it may be more difficult to find something.

Although my mind has been blurry and my emotions confused, the Son is beginning to shine in my life once again.

"Thank you, Lord, for a season of life which has grown me and continues to grow me. Thank you for your Son and for the patience you have in allowing me to come out of a fog and naturally work through this difficult time in my life. I know there are still many difficult days ahead. I also know you will be there to carry me when I need it, patiently waiting for me to get to the point where I can walk with you again."

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Thanking for Traditions

We helped Mom decorate the house for Christmas today. Other than last year, this is not a normal thing for us to do. Dad and Mom always decorated and we just enjoyed the environment afterwards.

We're thinking through how we will do things different this year. The fact is, traditions cannot remain the same. It's impossible. It will help us if we can create new traditions.

We've decided that the girls will spend the night at my mom's house prior to Christmas Eve and at Rod's mom's house on Christmas Eve. Not only will this be fun for them but it will hopefully help ease the pain for our moms on these days. We will then begin our new tradition of celebrating Christmas the day after Christmas by opening our gifts that morning. It will likely be a good thing. The girls will be able to sleep in and then they will have more time to play with their toys and enjoy a relaxing day.

"Thank you, Lord, for traditions: both old and new. The memories of the old and the excitement of the new allow healing for the heart."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thank you for Grace

"Thank you, Lord, for your grace. We are so undeserving of everything you give to us. Although we deserve hell, we can look forward to an eternity in heaven because of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. Thank you over and over again for this gift."

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thanksgiving Day


"Thank you, Lord, for the abundance of blessings you give to us. It has been no problem coming up with something to be thankful for every day. Thank you that there are so many blessings to choose from."

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thank You 26

"Thank you, Lord, for modern day conveniences such as the washer, dryer and dishwasher. They save me a lot of time and energy that I can then invest in what really matters."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12

There was a man all alone; he had neither son nor brother. There was no end to his toil, yet his eyes were not content with his wealth. "For whom am I toiling," he asked, "and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?" This too is meaningless— a miserable business! Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. (Ecclesiastes 4:8-12)

"Thank you, Lord, for the multitude of friends you have blessed my life with. From my acquaintances to those who walk beside me through the dark times. I am blessed with so many I can call friends."

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tack så mycket

Face-to-face. Telephone. Cell phone. Handwritten notes. E-mail. Blogs. And the list goes on. We have so many ways to communicate with one another today. We can get to know people that we never would have been able to meet previously. Although this adds to the busyness of our lives it also can help us keep a deeper level of relationships with those we love.

I have really enjoyed blogging. One of the fun things about blogging is that I can keep in touch with relatives from Rod's side of the family all the way in Sweden! I've been able to form a friendship with a relative I've never even met face-to-face before. (Hej, Agneta!) It does my heart good.

I've learned so much and been able to share so much simply because we have so many options as to how to communicate these days. The challenge is finding the balance in utilizing these tools to benefit our relationships rather than wear them down.

"Thank you, Lord, for so many ways to communicate. Thank you for the way you have strengthened my relationships through these tools and the relationships that have been formed because of them."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thank You 23

"Thank you, Lord, for a comfortable bed to sleep in at night. Thank you for a soft pillow to lay my head on and a blanket to curl up under. Thank you for rest and renewal."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November 22, 2008

"Thank you, Lord, for warm clothes and shelter. Living in the Chicago area, I need to thank you more often for these."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thanks (even though it's not Christmas time yet)

As we were driving to Mokena the other night, Nikelle commented on all the Christmas lights and decorations that were out prior to Thanksgiving. "I'm just confused," she stated. "Thanksgiving isn't even here yet." Aah, Nike. Papa would've been proud.

Still, that triggered discussion about Christmas in the backseat. I informed them that we would help Grams decorate her house for Christmas this year. Nikelle asked Jaycie a series of questions that led to an inquisition by Jaycie.

"Who's Santa, Nike?"
"Santa is the one who brings us our presents, Jaycie."
"At Grams' house?"
"No. Not at Grams' house. The presents under our Christmas tree."
"At Grandma's house?"
"No, Jay. Just the presents that our under our Christmas tree."

Nike continued.

"We're going to put cookies out for Santa this year, Jay Jay...
And carrots for the reindeer."
"Who's Rudolph, Nike?"
"Rudolph is one of the ones who pulls Santa's cart."

The conversation went on and I smiled. I like to allow the magic of Santa in our lives. We don't overly promote it. If Nikelle gave it just a little bit of thought, she would realize where the presents actually come from. [No spoiler here for those who still choose to believe.] When asked questions about Santa, as well as the Tooth Fairy and other topics of the kind, I ask her questions back so that she is forced to answer herself. (Thanks, Mom, for that idea!)

The original Miracle on 34th Street is a great movie for whether or not Santa Claus exists! We plan to watch this with Nikelle along with the movies she usually enjoys like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. My dad was big on Christmas movies and these movies have made a big impact on Nike's imagination.

Today, more than ever, I believe in including the magic of Santa in our Christmas celebrations. My dad dressed up as Santa Claus for the kids. Nikelle even thanked him a couple years ago. Dad, as Santa, are some of the last pictures we have of him. When on the topic of Santa, we can now not only share with our kids the story of St. Nicholas but also of their Papa and the joy he found in Christmas.

We do know there is a huge importance in making certain our girls know the true meaning of Christmas. That is something we attempt to teach them the importance of every day, not just at Christmastime.

We choose to allow the magic of Christmas to include the use of our imaginations. Afterall, who doesn't enjoy a gift from Santa every now and then?

"Thank you, Lord, for people with creative minds. My mind just doesn't work that way. I'm grateful for people who can use their imaginations to add some good, clean fun to my life!"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thank You

I had a song running through my mind this morning that I can't even remember now. Now, as I attempt to recall it, a new song has taken hold of my mind. Both are songs about God and help my heart start the day in the right condition.

Nikelle attends AWANA which is a Bible memorization club. I attended the clubs when I was growing up as well. Thanks to my mom and some others, many of these verses, as well as the books of the Bible, run through my mind in the form of a song. These days, all the sections that need to be memorized by the clubbers are put to music on a CD you can purchase. This is an investment I have just been thrilled with.

Last night, Nike sang through the books of the Old Testament. This is valuable because she will be able to look up verses easier as she now knows where to find each book of the Bible. (She learned the New Testament books last year.) The thing that thrills my heart even more is that Jaycie, at the age of three, knows many of the books of the Bible. She also knows John 3:16 as well as other verses simply because we listen to them in the van.

If we are driving somewhere, we have the AWANA music playing. It's not my first choice, but I would also have to say that my children are NOT dictating what we listen to. I know the importance of my girls hiding God's Word in their hearts. Music is the best way to accomplish this goal. Years later, a verse will run through their mind in the form of a song as mine does now. It will do their hearts good.

"Thank you, Lord, for music. Thank you that there are talented people out there who take the time to put Bible verses to a tune so we can memorize it and hide it in our hearts for later reflection."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

November 19, 2008

I've heard people say that the Bible is outdated. It doesn't apply to our lives today.

I've heard people say that the Bible is too difficult to understand.

I've heard people say that the Bible is just a book of good stories. It isn't really true.

I've heard people say a lot of things about the Bible that I just have to disagree with. Here's an example from today as to why I believe the Bible very much applies to life today, can be understood and is very much true.

I woke up early this morning and began to write in my prayer journal. To be very transparent, here's some of what I wrote to God:

"Use me...keep me planted solid in You."
"Prevent me from getting a big head."
"Get me in Your Word and keep me there."
"Grow me in the knowledge of You."
"I long for more conversations about You."
"Too often I want to be liked. I have to stand up for you no matter what."
"You need to become more of the focus in my relationships."
"Please give me an illogical love for [specific people]."
"Too often I gripe and complain about my irritations."
"Your love is supposed to be displayed through me."
"Give me an eternal mindest always."
"Make me a wife that honors my husband,
a mother that lives an example for her girls,
a sister that builds up her siblings,
a daughter who loves,
an aunt that sacrifices
and a friend who see through Your eyes."


Then I opened my Bible to Romans 12.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

It seemed like there was an answer from God to every part of my prayer. This is not a daily occurrence where I pray and see an answer directly. Still, it was encouraging and reminded me of how God reveals Himself to us when we seek Him. As I've been praying for my relationships to be more intentional, conversations have come up that have depth and meaning and purpose. I love this!

"Thank you, Lord, for the Bible. Thank you that we can clearly see what your plan is for our lives. Thank you that through the Bible, conversation becomes two-way with you. We can listen through reading your Word as we talk with you through prayer."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Busyness - 11/18

I'm a little late in sitting down to write a post today. I didn't have a chance to write one previously so I could schedule a post either.

Usually, I enjoy writing in the morning when my thoughts are clear and I have a little bit of time to myself. This morning, however, I had it calendared that some friends were coming over. I had dishes on the counter and in the sink, groceries on the floor from shopping the night before that I was too tired to put away and toys scattered around the house.

I spent my time cleaning and made a snack for my company to enjoy. As I made the monkey bread, I talked on the phone with a friend, dressed the girls and attempted to straighten up the house a bit. Shortly after hanging up the phone, the baby woke up and my friends knocked on the door.

We visited and had good conversation. The baby slept in my arms and the older kids played so we were able to have some good discussions. Too soon, it was lunchtime. We threw some chicken nuggets in the oven and fed the kids. We picked up the new mess of toys and it was time to get on with our day. Nikelle would be home from school shortly. It was a busy day and it wasn't even 3:00 p.m. yet.

Yesterday was busy, too. As a matter of fact, so was the weekend. Life is busy. Oftentimes, I feel that life is too busy. My obligations can keep me from seeing certain friends, relaxing, exercising, scrapbooking or doing other things that I enjoy. I place my head on the pillow most nights completely exhausted (if I haven't first fallen asleep downstairs).

Today, as I went to get Nikelle from the bus stop, I thought about what I was thankful for. I was too busy to think about it until then. That's when it came to me... busyness is a good thing. Dirty dishes mean we have plenty to eat. A dirty house means we have shelter from the cold and a place to call home. Children to care for means we are blessed with a family. Calendar obligations show that we have an abundance of family and friends. We have a full life and I am grateful.

"Thank you, Lord, for this busy life. Thank you that we have purpose and our life is full. Help our busyness to always be time used for you rather than just a to do list on our calendar."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Disappointing Thank You

I had a disappointment yesterday that made me reevaluate my life. It was nothing overly dramatic. Just something that required action in a territory I really hadn't experienced yet. It pained my heart and brought joy to my heart all at the same time.

My daughter did something she didn't want to tell me about. However, she did tell me. It was difficult for her. I could see that right away. Something inside me told me it was extremely important to encourage her to talk to me. At the same time, I needed to protect this special gift of trust she was relying on.

"I don't want to tell you."
"I'm scared I'll get in trouble."
"I won't do it next time."
"I didn't think it was a good idea."
"I know it wasn't appropriate."

All of this was being said by my little girl prior to her divulging information. I knew I had to take careful guard of her heart. She was entering shaky territory. She knew she needed to tell the truth but at the same time did not want to be punished. I assured her she was not in trouble as I stepped onto the thin ice with her.

She ended up sharing all the details and I had to fight back tears. I was disappointed in my daughter. Not just her, but in myself as well. I had not taught my daughter the importance of this topic. I overlooked her need to be educated.

I sent her upstairs to get ready for bed. As I cried. Gaining my composure, I approached the stairs to her room. And I prayed. I prayed that God would help me to handle this situation appropriately.

I talked with her more and was amazed at how God gave me the right words to say. Earlier that morning, Nikelle was asking me the meaning of her name. I told her it meant "victorious"; "winner". I was able to use this to tell her that she needs to remember that she is victorious and winners make choices that honor God - even if they have to do it alone.

After we tucked the girls in bed last night, it was time to reevaluate. Parenting is such a huge responsibility. God has entrusted these little ones to our care. Rod and I are realizing there will be a lot of times where we will tread out onto rough waters not knowing how things will turn out. Nikelle is our first and we will make mistakes. Thankfully, this mistake is not life altering. Thankfully, this encourages us to talk more to our girls about a wider variety of topics. It encourages me to get into my Bible and pray for creativity in teaching the girls about God's plan for their lives.

Today, I'm thankful for disappointments because they require me to take a step back, think and respond. Without disappointments, I might go on my merry way never taking the time to reevaluate and change.

"Thank you, Lord, for disappointments that bring me closer to you."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Thank You 16

The sunrise.
The sunset.
A smile.
Beauty of Creation.
Light.
Colors.
A snowfall.
A rainbow.
Children playing.
A loved one's face.
The next step in front of me.

These are all things I can see which I often take for granted.

The other day I was looking through Nikelle's homework during the week of the presidential election. I happened to be on the telephone with a good friend at the time when I busted out laughing. This is what I read:

"John McCain likes to go hikeing. Barack Obama likes baskitball. I vote for John McCain because he fithged in a Whore and he thingks babys shode Not be Cillded When they are born."

Just in case you didn't catch it, John McCain fighted in a war, not a whore.

Our little girl does a fairly decent job spelling phonetically. This, however, is one for the scrapbooks. It just wouldn't have been the same without the gift of sight.

Thank you, Lord, for all the wonderful things I can see because you allow me to see them with my own eyes.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

November 15th - Thank You

I received a call from my friend the other day. She informed me that her neighbor's son passed away. He was only six-years-old. He battled Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. (If it sounds familiar, that's because Dad's body was attacked by the same cancer.) She gave me the link to a website documenting his battle with cancer.


A few weeks ago, I heard that my brother's neighbor was killed in a motorcycle accident. He left behind three little girls under the age of six-years-old as well as a wife who was expecting their fourth child at any moment. Doctors induced her shortly after and she gave birth to another little girl. These little ones will grow up without their daddy. This wife and mom has no choice but to go it alone.

My heart breaks in both of these situations. I can identify with them as they both share in my stage of life. I find myself thanking God for my kids and my husband. All the things that create stress and build up in my life don't seem nearly as terrible when news like this comes to the surface.

I can hug my kids and kiss my husband. I can wake up in the middle of the night to care for a nursing baby, a child who wants her mommy, or a first grader who has had a nightmare. I can make dinner for my husband and wash his clothes. I can see their smiles, laugh together and receive and give hugs.

I'm certain I'll get caught up in the rat race of life again and be tempted to forget what a privilege I have each and every day. These reminders will always surround me. Every moment is a gift. There is no promise of tomorrow.

"Thank you, Lord, for a change of perspective."

Friday, November 14, 2008

Thank You - November 14th

I love that I am the one who gets to take my daughter to and from the bus stop. I love that I can do her homework with her and hear about her day when she gets home.

I love that I am in charge of meals, bathtime and naptime. I get to play with puzzles and go on play dates.

I love that I get to see all of the "firsts". Their first smile, first laugh, first time rolling over, first step. It's a privilege to be a part of my girls' lives.

There was a time where I thought I would want to work when I had kids. I had a decent job that I was good at. Knowing this, there was a feeling of satisfaction in a job well done where people depended on me.

Thankfully, God changed my heart. By the time we were pregnant with Nikelle, I found my job stressful - over the top. I quit with no regrets.

Just to be sure I didn't have any regrets, I had the opportunity to fill in one week while I was pregnant with Jaycie. That was followed up with a job offer after Jaycie was born.

It was completely satisfying to say, "As long as I have the privilege of staying home, I will. I don't need to work and I am grateful for that."

I realize we are blessed that Rod has a job where I can stay home with the girls. There are things we have to deny ourselves and we have to watch our money. All in all, it's worth it.

"Thank you, Lord, that I can be a stay-at-home mom!"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

November 13th

I waited 20 minutes for the bus to come pick my daughter up for school yesterday. Thankfully, it wasn't all that cold in the morning. A substitute bus driver pulled up and I knew to prepare myself for the afternoon.

I told myself to be ready for a bit of a wait as I went to pick Nike up from the bus stop after school. The baby was in her crib sleeping and Jaycie was on the family room floor playing with puzzles. I bundled up, leashed the dog and went to wait.

After 10 minutes, I began to pray that all was well with my oldest daughter as well as my little ones still inside the house. My mind began to create scenarios in my head. I could hear Ande screaming in my mind (she's a block away in a house without the windows open...I certainly couldn't really hear her). That led me to think about Jaycie deciding to take care of her and climbing up to see her in the crib. That would lead to problems and I just had to go back to praying.

I went back and forth in my mind as to whether or not I should ask my sister to go to the house and be with the little ones. After 20 minutes, I called my sister. She lives about a mile away. I asked her to go to my house because I can't be at the bus stop as well as in the house with the girls. In this cold weather, I'm not going to take the girls out to the bus stop with me. Besides, there is generally a 10 minute window I can count on and the girls are better of inside (usually sleeping). I knew my sister being with the little ones would calm my nerves a bit.

The same neighbor that came out the last time the bus was late, talked with me again. This helped time to pass a little more quickly and kept my mind from creating problems. We both agreed the now 30 minute wait was a bit ridiculous. As he went back into his house, I called the school. I figured it was about time to confirm the bus was late simply due to a substitute driver and not because of anything serious. That was confirmed.

Relief was mixed with fear and irritation. It's difficult to get one's emotions reigned in when the wait is 40 minutes long. The bus was over 40 minutes late when I saw it pass the street it was supposed to turn on to bring Nike home. I suppose that's what it had been doing all afternoon.

Once again, no apology came when those bus doors opened. I don't believe I smiled at the driver although I did smile at Nikelle. When it's all said and done, I'm just thankful she's safely home.

Today, I'm thankful for family. My sister is always ready to help when I need her. My brothers and our moms are the same way. Everyone is in fairly close proximity to one another. I have extended family nearby as well. It's nice to have a family support system. I know I am blessed to have them.

Oh, yeah. When I got home, Ande was still sleeping. Jaycie was still in the family room now accompanied by her cousin and Aunt. All was well.

"Thank you, Lord, for family."

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Thank You - November 12th

Thank you for a new day, a new beginning. A fresh start where the failings of yesterday need not haunt me today.

I may have eaten two candy bars too many yesterday. I may have yelled at those I love one too many times the day before. Today, however, I start with a clean slate.

As I begin my day, I have not lost my temper. I can choose to pause and ask God for some self-control.

I can make healthier choices with what I put into my mouth start with my first bite today. I can thank God for the abundance of food at my fingertips.

I can begin to clean the mess that has accumulated on the family room floor. Or I can attempt to finger through the pile of papers on my kitchen counter. Accomplishing one task at a time, I can be that much closer to a clean house.

My day can begin by talking with Jesus despite the fact that yesterday my "to do" list won out. I can give Him my worries rather than attempt to heal my pain through other avenues.

"Thank you, Lord, for brand new mornings. From the moment I step out of bed, my choices are new. Thank you for a new day. Help me to live it for you."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

November 11th - Veterans Day

Today is a day we remember all those who have fought for our country. Those who have given everything they had, even their lives so we can live in freedom.

Too often, we take our freedom for granted. More than not, we live our lives without a second thought for those who have lost because they cared enough to give for us. Even today, we have men and women putting their lives at stake for our freedom and our safety.

Growing up, I recall my dad teaching us respect for our country and for the veterans, both presently living as well as those that had gone before us. I vividly remember looking at a cannon that is displayed in dowtown Mokena as dad talked to us about this gift we'd been given. I don't remember what he said so much as I recall the moment. It was important enough to freezeframe in my mind.

As we attended my brother's basketball games, my parents taught, through their example, to not only stand in respect but to sing when the National Anthem was sung. To this day, I fight back tears when the National Anthem is playing. I trust my girls are watching our example as we attempt to teach them about the great great honor we have to live in the United States of America.

Although I am not surrounded with swarms of family members who have fought for our country, Rod's dad and grandpa as well as my grandpa were all in the military. More than that, our fathers and their fathers lived out their respect for this country. It is our responsibility to teach our children and grandchildren the same.

"Thank you, Lord, for our veterans. We are blessed to live in a country where so many are willing to fight and even die for our freedom."

Monday, November 10, 2008

November 10th

In the middle of folding a load of laundry, I pause.

The realization comes to me that all three kids are asleep.

I am folding laundry.

So many times, I long for quiet. Times where I have the opportunity to sort out my thoughts.

This is one of those moments.

I quick finish switching the laundry (I really needed some clean pants that fit).

I pour myself a bowl of cereal, cut up a banana, and fill a glass with water.

Sadly, I don't know where I've placed my Bible.

The computer is always on and I know my husband has the main page set to come up as Bible Gateway.

I open Internet Explorer.

Isaiah 1:18 is the verse of the day. “Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool." For more to read, I pull up all of Isaiah 1. I reread verses 15-20.

I wonder about the state of my own life. Where am I? What would God say directly to me?

I need to find more time to hear His voice; more time where I can sit and clear my mind to read the Bible: His Word to me.

There is so much to be grateful for. Today I could pick the Bible, the internet or forgiveness. As none of these posts are in order of importance, today I am grateful for a quiet morning.

Thank you, Lord, for a morning where the girls sleep in and I can be reminded of how fulfilling time spent alone with you can be.

(Now the baby is crying as I finish this. Truly a gift.)

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Thanks on November 9

I'm back to attending my Weight Watchers meetings. Without these meetings, I allow myself to turn to food for comfort. My mindset is completely different when I attend weekly Weight Watchers meetings. With this support, I am encouraged to plan out my meals. To think about why I am eating and what I am eating rather than just reaching to whatever I can find and shoving it in my mouth.

I realize there are people who don't face this struggle. However, my relationship with food is one that has a tendency to control me. Weight Watchers gives me a plan. I don't need to guess which foods are okay to eat. All foods are acceptable in moderation. Their plan works for my life and allows me to feel good about my self-image as well as be healthier overall.

So, probably not one you'll find on many people's Thanksgiving list, but you find it on mine.

Thank you, Lord, for Weight Watchers.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 8th Thank You

"Her likes me," my three-year-old daughter beems with joy that her baby sister grabs hold of her finger.

"Ah-goo," is the sound my infant forms these days.

My husband laughs from his belly as my six-year-old shouts "You maniac!" as we avoid hitting another car in the parking lot.

I am so grateful to be able to hear the words, "I love you". Blessed to be able to attend to my daughter when her little voice calls. I can experience the echo of laughter. Music stirs my heart. The sound of rain hitting the windows and the rustle of the wind in the leaves connect me with God's creation. Children playing. Birds chirping. Babies crying. Girls singing.

For those times I am overwhelmed with too much noise and beg for silence, I must remember the gift of hearing. Being able to hear these sounds alert me to a need. Words of encouragement and love can warm my heart. A smile to my face or tears in my eyes are a result of the different sounds I hear. These are all a gift.

Thank you, Lord, for the ability to hear.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Thank You 7

As we walk back from the bus stop, my daughter shuffles through the colorful fallen leaves with her feet. Her face smiles as she watches her feet toss the leaves around her. My thoughts go to wondering why people take time to rake the leaves as I enjoy the colors covering the ground, the sound of the leaves crunching beneath our toes and the smell of fall ever present in the air.

Changing seasons are one reason I enjoy living in the Chicagoland area. We experience Spring, Summer, Winter and Autumn every year. Some seasons are longer than others but they're still there. The rain and blooming of the spring season. The swimming and fun of summertime. The snow and warmth that still accompanies the cold of winter with the holidays. The harvest and barrenness of the plants coming with the Fall Autumn.

I don't enjoy every season equally. My body doesn't do well in the heat so I tend to enjoy the colder months more than the dead heat of summer enjoyed so much by my dad. Still, as each season comes to a close, I seem to be ready for it. Ready to experience the joys of the next. I'm ready to shed our hats and gloves by winter's end. The smell of rain in the Spring brings life alive again as I look forward to the girls being able to run, play and swim outside in the summer. And I'm always done with the heat when the leaves start to change and we anticipate going into somewhat of a hibernation again.

Change is not something I embrace. Yet as I think about the changing seasons, I can't help but wonder if God gives us these to assist us in coping with our seasons of life. Seasons end. New ones begin. We may miss swimming in the pond under the sun but the weather must change to experience the joy of making angels in the snow.

There are many memories with our dads. Some that make me long for seasons past. I must embrace the new season in order to truly experience it though. Longing for seasons that are gone will only bring sadness, grief and frustration. Looking forward to the new seasons allow my heart to beat again. It allows me to find joy in the grief and hope as I know the season of eternity is not far away.

Thank you, Lord, for changing seasons.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

November 6th - Thank You

Rod's grandpa came over from Sweden. My great-grandpa came over from Italy. I also have some German in my family tree. All this being said, Rod likes to tell people that my family started the wars and his stayed out of them. This gives you a pretty good visual of our marriage. Rod is quite content hoping things will blow over while I'm coming head down like a bull ready to fight.

I was always attracted to the athletic, popular type of guy. Rod is proud to be a "geek". He loves computers, history, science fiction and other topics that fall into this category. When I met Rod, dating him was far from being in the radar. He is also 7 years older than me. Since I was 17 when our friendship formed, he wasn't interested in dating me either. To be completely honest, I was expressing interest in one of his friends. Over time, however, Rod became one of my best friends and he captured my heart.

There are moments I am overwhelmed with how undeserving I am to have the husband I do. One example is with the birth of our children. It begins while I'm hugging the ceramic of my toilet bowl for the first trimester, continuing while I sleep most of the day away through all three trimesters, and exemplified throughout labor and delivery. From being yelled at for burning toast because the smell was overwhelming and sickening to me, to enduring my ultimate crabbiness for 9 months, and being my main support in delivering the girls, he displays his love for me through it all.

Rod took off work the day our youngest was born after I informed him that the contractions were ten minutes apart. We took Nikelle to the bus stop and called my mom to come out to stay with Jaycie. Soon after, my contractions stopped. All together, I didn't feel a thing. I was discouraged, confused and irritated because I had really thought we were going to meet our third child that day. With the contractions disappearing, I didn't know what to think.

(Understand that any suggestion my husband makes is like walking on ice for him. I'm often like a volcano ready to erupt and spew my anger on those around me - especially during pregnancy.) Rod took charge and made me walk with him around the neighborhood. That didn't last long as I realized the need to go to the bathroom shortly after the walk started. We decided to run errands instead. We went shopping and walked around only to have the contractions come back very sporadically. After lunch, he suggested we walk the neighborhood again. He knew how much I wanted the pregnancy to be over and what the assistance walking could do in the laboring process.

After this walk, the contractions became stronger although still very inconsistent. We went to my previously scheduled appointment with my midwife knowing the baby would be coming sooner than later. Rod was my shoulder to lean on (literally) throughout labor and delivery. He helped me remember how to breathe when the contractions were intense and I honestly forgot how to do this normally thoughtless task. Rod reminded me about the marathon I ran and the battles our dads endured when labor got tough to remind me that I could persevere. Rod was everything and more during the labor and delivery for each of our kids.

This is just one example of the way God gave me the perfect man for me. We've been through thick and thin. We've been through high highs and low lows. We've shared the birth of our daughters and the death of our fathers. We've shared some sunny days as well as dark. Through it all, he's with me in the deep.

I don't have to doubt the faithfulness of my husband or his love for me. Everything Rod does is based on his desire to live for God. I've joked that I'm not married to Jesus but it's about as close as you can get. So many woman have to go it alone even though they're married. I need to remember every day what a blessing I have in this man I've been married to for 12+ years now.

Thank you, Lord, for my husband. He's so much more than I deserve.

And Rod, I don't know how often you get a chance to read my blog, but thank you. Thank you that through it all, you've stayed by my side. Even when I've been the most unlovable, you've loved me unconditionally. I'm so grateful for you!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

November 5 - Thank You

"Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you." - 1 Peter 5:7

This is one of my daughter's memory verses this week for AWANA. Even at her young age, Nikelle is learning that she can talk directly to God.

There are many nights that Nikelle will wake her daddy because she is having nightmares. My husband will take her back to her bed and pray with her.

The other night, I happened to already be awake after feeding the baby when I saw Nikelle walk into our room. I got out of bed and at her request, climbed into bed with her. After a while, I decided to go back to my own room where I could sleep more soundly. Kissing her head, I told her to dream about the play she wanted to do with her friends.

Thinking I heard her talking to me, I stopped at the doorway of her room. I listened as I heared her voice. "Dear Jesus, please help me to not have anymore nightmares. Help me to dream about the play with Valerie and Page. Amen."

My heart swelled as I smiled and walked back to my bed. Although I had forgotten to pray with her, she was already learning the comfort that can be found at the feet of Jesus.

Prayer carries me through most days. It pulled me through our dads' battles with cancer; the pregnancies, labors, deliveries of all three of our girls; each and every race I've run; it's given me strength through trials and someone to share every joy of life with.

We have the privilege to pray for our family, friends, country and world.

"Thank you, Lord, for a direct line of communication with you. I love that we can lift our sorrows, joys, fears, worries, tears and requests directly to the Creator of the Universe!"

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

November 4 - Election Day - Thank You

Thank you, Lord, for the United States of America. We live in a country where we have freedom. Freedom to worship you, freedom to disagree, freedom to have a voice as we vote. Thank you for allowing us to live in a nation where we are free.

Today we vote.

My six-year-old's school is doing a mock election today. The kids wore red, white and blue yesterday and brought signs and buttons to support their candidate of choice.

I wanted to inform my first grader of the facts and allow her to choose. What I found is that it's difficult to present both sides without some sort of bias. We all stand for something and when we do, that's what we present.

First and foremost, I had to talk to her about the right to life. I explained to her that some people think it's okay to stop a baby from growing in their mommy's tummy. I explained that they don't believe it's a baby. They want to call it a fetus. Then there are people who believe that the baby should be allowed to grow so it can be born into the world. She then asked me which candidate believed which and I answered her.

Just from these statements, it's obvious where I stand. Although I wanted her to choose who she would vote for on her own, it's okay that I presented her with a biased opinion. Not only am I her mom, but it's part of our freedom. I believe strongly enough on this issue to say I will vote for those who protect the unborn. I want my daughter to vote that way when she is older as well. God created that baby in the womb and His desire is for that baby to get to full term and enter this world. (Psalm 139) Who are we to stop that?

I did go on to talk to her about a few other issues but they were biased as well. As for the topic of single issue voting, Erik's blog had a great post that I would echo. I'm a priority voter and have no shame in stating it.

Freedom is a wonderful thing we take too often for granted. I attempted to stress to Nikelle the value of this gift and the importance of others being able to express this freedom as well. Who knows if friendships could be ruined in first grade over the choice of presidential candidates even before they're of legal age to vote!

A month of Thankfulness

I tend to be an "all or nothing" kind of person. It's not exactly beneficial in my life. For example, if I don't eat right at one meal, I blow the entire day. After all, it has to be "all or nothing" in my world. This is an area I need to change in so many aspects of my life.

I had been tossing around posting one thing I am thankful for each and every day of November. I thought it would help me to quit all the grumbling I so easily succomb to and there is always so much to be grateful for that it shouldn't be a difficult task. Not to mention November is the month of Thanksgiving so it fits a theme. Here's the all or nothing: today is November 4th. Obviously, this is my first post. So, for the three days I missed...

1. Nikelle
2. Jaycie
3. Ande

I generally express gratitude for my girls and their good health. Still, there are times where it really overwhelms me and I want to be certain I do not take it for granted. After the video our Pastor played on Sunday , it hit me more than it does on normal days. After watching our dads die of cancer, I'm more aware of those around me fighting the disease. I'm hit with the greatness of the gift of good health especially when we see little kids battling such diseases. After taking the two youngest girls to the doctor yesterday for their check-ups, I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for my girls' good health. It's not something I want to take for granted.

Thank you, Lord, for the three healthy, beautiful little girls you've loaned me for a time.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!

Ande is almost 2 months old now!

I sent my little clown off to school today quite pleased that she's content with making the costume and having fun rather than having me go out to buy a new costume (what a relief!).

Thankfully, Jaycie was content with the bumblebee costume we found in our dress-up bin as well. She likes the little stinger on her bum!

I was never really big on celebrating Halloween. With three kids, this is getting to become quite a bit of fun!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

All in a name

My cousin, Jody, had a baby last week. She had a baby girl. From what I hear, baby and Mommy are doing well.

They live in Michigan. On average, we see them twice a year. Still, should be fun at family gatherings. Andelise will have a buddy.

My cousin wasn't sharing the name they chose throughout the pregnancy. They knew they would be having a girl. From what I understand, my cousin and her husband had chosen a name from some place they visited quite some time ago.

Oh, yeah...the reason for this post...they named her Analise.

I'm interested in what kind of thoughts went through your head, Jody, when you heard our baby girl's name! Congratulations on the birth of your baby girl! Can't wait for Ande to meet Ana!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blog Tag

Erik decided to invite me to play "blog tag". At first I decided to ignore it. I don't often take the time for these kind of things. Then I thought it would be good to evaluate why I blog. Afterall, if I can't come up with "5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively", it's probably not worth my time to continue blogging.

The rules were as follows:

1. Write about 5 specific ways blogging has affected you, either positively or negatively.

2. Link back to the person who tagged you.

3. Link back to L.L. Barkat who created the meme.

4. Tag a few friends or five, or none at all

5. Post these rules — or just have fun breaking them.

Here are the ways blogging has affected me:

1. Therapy - Blogging was therapy for me throughout my dad’s battle with cancer. It still is. There’s something about using this as an outlet for my thoughts that heals my heart.

2. Connection - I am able to stay connected with friends and family in a way that the pace of life constantly fights against. I love being able to share updates on our life and know that if people care to know, they’ll read it here.

3. Passion - I have a passion for writing. Although life continues to keep my thoughts jumbled in my head, there are times that my passion is able to come alive and I am able to write and feel somewhat creative.

4. Change - I am changing through the blogging world. For one, I have to be willing to change when I’m sharing my life with others. I cannot blog about marriage needing to be a priority and not make it a priority in my own life. I don’t want to be a liar or a hypocrite. Additionally, reading the thoughts of other bloggers inspires change in my life as well.

5. Memories - I am able to use my blog to document cute things my kids say and do that I want to remember. I’ve always been told I should write things down when I relay them to others. I’ve never made it a priority. Now that I can sit and type on the computer to document it on this blog, the memories are here to look back on. I’ll always remember that at age 2, Jaycie thought little boys have tails!

I decided to respond immediately because it'll loom over me and stress me out if I don't (that's just my anal personality). Still, I'm choosing not to "tag" anyone else. (There's always someone that drops out of the game, isn't there?) Thanks, though, Erik. It was good for me to participate.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Investments

Rod and I went out last night with my brother and sister-in-law. We saw the movie, Fireproof, starring Kirk Cameron. It was clearly not made in Hollywood but still a good flick. So much of the movie caused me to realize that I need to appreciate Rod more and show him. When we're dating, it's easy to go the extra mile to show we care. Why it is that when we are married we become more selfish? It's beyond me. Marriage takes work and intentional guestures to keep love alive.

The movie is based on a "Love Dare". It just shows how one person can make a difference in a marriage even when the other has stepped out. I can attest to this as our marriage went through some rough times, especially early on. I was married young - 18 to be exact. Rod is 7 years older than me. Thankfully, he was more mature as well. Not just in a mental or emotional way but also spiritually. Rod gave our marriage 150% when I had mentally and emotionally stepped out. I wanted our marriage to work. I didn't want to have a failed marriage. I knew divorce wasn't an option but I had set myself up for a life of misery. Thankfully, I had a husband who continued to love me when I was most unlovable. He petitioned God for our marriage. He fasted asking God to change my heart. He allowed God to work in me as he waited and gave himself selflessly.

Fireproof shows what God can do when people submit to Him and allow His love to flow through them. I am so grateful that God loves me even when I reject Him. I am also forever grateful that my husband allowed God's love to flow through Him and he stayed in a marriage when the world would have told him he was justified to leave.

I hear the movie isn't in theaters in Joliet any longer. I believe Orland Park is the closest theater still showing it. The content is uplifting and we don't often get to walk away from movies feeling challenged to love and live for God. If you desire to have more movies of substance in the theaters, make a point to get out and see it at the theater. It's worth the investment to support movies like this!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Harvest Time



Ecclesiastes 3
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

The cousins looked for Papa's favorite corn.



Grams gave out rides in the tractor bucket


Great Grandma Tuttle cuddled with Andelise


It was fun for all!


He hath made every thing beautiful in his time.

Monday, October 20, 2008

3-years old!

Jaycie turned 3 this past weekend!

JayJay is our little drama queen. I ask her to make a happy face and her eyes will shine as she smiles. Ask her for a sad face and her smile will turn upside down as her eyes look to the floor. How about a surprised face? Her mouth will open in awe as her hands go up by her face and her eyes open wide. An angry face will bring her eyes to narrow and her nose to wrinkle while her lips purse. Of course, all of these requests will only receive a response on her terms. If she doesn't feel like acting, she won't participate. All you will receive is a pout.

She is our strong-willed child. And independent. "I do it myself!" is commonly spoken from her lips. Oftentimes, I can hear her daddy (over her screams) saying "as long as I'm ten times your weight, you will obey me." Despite her little frame, this little girl has some strength to fight us on everything from going potty (where it should go) to what clothes she should wear (summer v. winter - we do know to pick our battles).

Jaycie's smile can light up a room when she wants to. She can be so silly that laughter fills the room. At the same time, she can scream so loudly that our ears hurt. She looks up to her big sister and imitates her in so many aspects. She loves her little sister and can often be found with her nose right up to Ande's talking to her (sometimes scaring her with her lack of respect for personal space).

I never knew how much God could teach me through a child as He has through Jaycie Mariah. I'm learning that all of our characteristics are valuable. They just need to be directed correctly. Strong-will is a good personality. As long as we don't forget about the people around us. We cannot be so stubborn that we forget that people are what matter. It cannot always be "my way or the highway". Being a drama queen gives many options for the future. As long as we don't use our drama to manipulate others. When God gave me Jaycie to raise for Him, He gave me a mirror image of my personality. As I mold my little one with God's help, He is molding me. He also has me talking to Him a lot more!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Jay!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Spectating

Yesterday we went to Chicago to cheer Rod's sister on in the Marathon. It was a strange feeling all together. Not running it myself. The race cancellation last year and all the baggage that went along with that. My Dad and Rod's Dad both gone from this earth. I attempted to just push all my feelings aside as God decided to work on my heart to appreciate everyone who came to cheer me on last year.

There is a whole lot of waiting and walking for spectators of the Chicago Marathon. Thankfully, I had brought snacks for the girls as well as paper and crayons. We didn't get to the marathon until my sister-in-law was half way through the race so that cut off some of our waiting time. Then there was all that goes along with having a newborn - feeding and diaper changes - it helped make time go by. Still, it's difficult to get into a position where one can actually see their loved one run the race. The finish line was a mess last year that I never was able to experience. This year I attempted to find a place to watch the runners so I could experience it as a spectator. I found it too difficult to attempt with kids unless you really want to make it your goal. You can find a place to watch people but without an obvious sign for the spectator or the runner, it's extremely difficult to find each other.

My mother-in-law was able to spot Rhonda once around mile 13 but Rhonda said she never saw any of us. It was really interesting being on the spectator side this year. Minus the newborn, I probably would have tried a lot harder to find Rhonda or a couple of my Team in Training teammates that I heard were running in memory of my Dad.

To everyone who cheered me on last year, I didn't realize the effort involved. Thank you over and over again. And as for a future marathon, being a spectator just stirred the fire. I want to cross the finish line in Chicago! And I definitely learned I need to wear identifiable colors (like a Team in Training jersey) and my support team cheering me on needs large signs on a pole with big balloons.

Rhonda finished under 5 hours and didn't collapse in the unseasonable heat (although not nearly as hot as last year - she said there was ample water and Gatorade at every station this year.)

Congratulations Rhonda and all the other marathon runners. It is truly an accomplishment!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Something to think about

The following song lyrics attempted to penetrate my heart a couple weeks ago:

I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene
And wonder how he could love me a sinner condemned, unclean.
How marvelous, How wonderful And my song shall ever be
How marvelous, How wonderful is my Savior's love for me
He took my sin and my sorrows and made them his very own
And bore the burden of Calvary and suffered and died alone

The words "and suffered and died alone" made me think. God really can relate to what my Dad and Rod's dad were going through. While we sat with our dads at the end of their lives, Christ had suffered and died alone. It's something to reflect on. Something to think about. Something to remember. In my pain, I cannot forget the pain Christ endured for us. We can know that he didn't create us and leave us. He cares. Even when we don't believe it. He still cares.

"The fact is, God did come. He entered this world in human flesh, and saw and felt for himself what this world is like." -- Philip Yancey, "Where is God When it Hurts?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

In My Confusion

There's no denying it, it has been a rough time here in my heart and mind these past months. I wouldn't go so far as to say that I've pushed God away. At the same time, I have far from embraced my relationship with Him. Overall, I would say that confusion has mastered this time in my life.

While I have not soaked in the Bible as I had while Dad was enduring his battle with cancer, I still have read Bible verses that have been printed in magazines, posted on blogs, or written in different books I read. I continue to attend church. My identity still lies in being a Child of God.

I have continued to pray in my confusion but find myself pausing and asking myself why I am praying. I pray because that's what I do. That's what God tells us to do. My conversations with God have been quite limited and oftentimes one-sided as I continue to struggle through this period of my life.

There are moments that God is able to penetrate my heart despite my lack of embracing Him and His Word. I continue to read "Where is God When it Hurts?" (Books are a slow read these days.) Here's another glimpse of what Philip Yancey writes in his book:

"The possibility of miraculous healing offers tremendous hope for the Christian. Yet if healing does not come, that dashed hope can be a great impediment to faith that can lead to feelings of betrayal and despair."

While the hope of healing carried me through Dad's battle with cancer, I struggle now. Why did God choose not to answer such an important prayer (in my opinion) at the same time answering such small prayers in comparison to the request of healing my Dad?

"...a hope for healing should be presented realistically. It is just that -- a 'hope', not a guarantee. If it comes, a joyous miracle has happened. If it doesn't come, God has not let you down."

This is what I'm attempting to believe. I know our God has not changed. I know the God I have been taught to love and embrace; the God I have learned loves me so much that He died for me; has not let me down despite my disappointment that a miracle was not performed so I could continue to share life with my Dad. I even know that in His own way, God did heal my dad. There is no more pain and suffering for him. He is whole again and with God for eternity. What greater healing can there be?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy


"Can I write a note to the tooth fairy?" This was our daughter's request going to bed the other night after losing her first tooth. My husband came downstairs to see how he should respond to her. "Does the tooth fairy take teeth?" he inquired. I informed him that it is customary for the tooth fairy to take the tooth and replace it with money. "She is practically in tears because she doesn't want the tooth fair to take her tooth" he informed me. He comforted our six-year-old by telling her he would leave a note for the tooth fairy.

After remembering to place some money under her pillow, I went to sleep. A few hours later I awoke to her cry. "My tooth is gone!" she sobbed. I looked at her holding the plastic baggy in her hand which held her tooth. Taking her hand and guiding her hand to feel her tooth in the bag, she calmed down a bit. I then reached under her pillow for the money that was there. I placed that in her hand. A smile covered her teary-eyed face as she asked me to stay with her for a little while.

All I can figure is that her fears entered her dreams and convinced her the tooth fairy took her tooth. I told her to dream about losing more teeth so she can get more money. (She wants enough money for a Webkinz.) I don't know how the tooth fairy operates when she visits your home (or if she even comes). In our home, the tooth fairy doesn't leave quite enough money in exchange for one tooth to buy a Webkinz! For that matter, the tooth fairy now doesn't take teeth either. She just leaves money in exchange for a "note".

Friday, September 26, 2008

Company's Time?

Why is it that companies these days desire their employees to devote the majority of their time to the company? It's expected and oftentimes required. When my husband got his new job we were thrilled. He was moving from a company that required him to travel the majority of his time to a local company that seemed to promote families.

Shortly after his employment, it started. It was just supposed to be until the end of the year when the project finished. Today, it's still going on. He leaves for work in the morning and returns 11 hours later. Then he works three hours or more from home in the evening at least four days a week. It's exhausting and now it is expected and required of him. What's next? The talk around the office is that he might be required to work weekends.

What happened to our world? When did work become more important than families? Maybe my expectations are too high. Still, I'm not naive. I know the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Find a new job? Start your own business? It may not necessarily give you what you're looking for.

How does one fight against what has become the norm in this world? I've thought it might be nice to become Amish. Then again, maybe my view of their world is skewed as well, though.

It's something I wish we could fight against. Work should not be #1. Family should be. No wonder so many families are falling apart. If you try to take a stand however, be prepared. You'll probably lose your job and home and then where will you be?

I truly believe this is one of the contributing factors to broken families in our world today. It's something we need to fight against.

The Morning Rush

My past couple of mornings have gone somewhat like this:

5am - Ande wakes up and needs to eat and goes back to sleep
5:30am - I decide there is really a good 1/2 hour to 45 minutes left of sleep before I need to wake Nikelle and crawl back in bed
6:14 am - I convince myself that I really need to get out of bed
6:15 am - Wake Nikelle up and make certain she gets ready for the day
6:30 am - Hop in the shower
6:50 am - Instruct Nikelle to get her shoes on
7:00 am - Nike waves goodbye to Rod and Ande wakes up
7:02 am - Attempt to get out the door
7:03 am - Jaycie wakes up and needs to go potty
7:05 am - Have Nike watch to make certain we don't miss the bus
7:10 am - Get out the door with the girls
7:12 am - Bus arrives at the corner as we are only halfway there (not a long walk either!)
7:12 am - Run!
7:12 am - Bus Monitor gets off bus to meet us and take Nikelle to the bus
7:13 am - Wave goodbye and head back to the house
7:15 am - Get breakfast for Jaycie; Feed Ande
7:20 am - Take a deep breath

The last two days were a rough start to the morning. Getting Nikelle to the bus on time was a struggle. We are supposed to be to her bus stop ten minutes prior to her pick up time. Needless to say, the bus was two minutes early the past two days as I tried to push my luck. Thankfully, there is a bus monitor on the bus who is very helpful. Both days she came and met me so that I didn't have to run with Nikelle. She advised me that if she sees me coming, she'll come take Nike and not to worry about it. I apologized and expressed my gratitude.

Today I was determined to get to the bus stop on time. We were out there and waiting for the bus to arrive. I have to say this was due to my husband's help prior to leaving for work. It never fails that the two little ones wake up shortly before leaving to take their sister to the bus and completely throw off my schedule. (I will sometimes leave them sleeping as I just run down the street and back.)

In my determination today, however, I made certain (with Rod's help) all three girls were up and ready to get to the bus stop. Thankfully the weather has been nice. Next week as the true fall weather hits, I'll need to think my morning again. Today, however, my deep breath was able to come a little sooner.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Got Firewood?

Just thought I'd mention that if there is anyone out there looking to get rid of some firewood or knows of anyone looking to get rid of some firewood, we could use it. My parents' house is heated with woodburning stoves. Dad mentioned at the end of his life that he built the house for a healthy him. He never thought about it becoming a problem...until he got sick. He was always able to find firewood and cut down trees to heat the house for the winter. Now Mom faces the winter in need of wood. We have some but are looking for more. If you have any or know of anyone, please let me know. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dad and the Harvest

My heart tugs in all kinds of directions this time of year. Initially, as the leaves start to change colors and fall from the trees, my heart warms. This is one of the best times of the year! Brisk air. The smell of Autumn. Thanksgiving. My birthday. Sweet potatoes. Pumpkin pie. The harvest.

We have always brought in the pumpkins, gourds, squash and ornamental corn this time of year. We'd make a point of heading over to Mom & Dad's with the kids at a time that Dad could harvest with the kids. He enjoyed showing the beautiful colors of corn to the kids. They'd guess what colors there would be and then the reveal: purple; red; rainbow; as well as the spooky looking ones. We have some of this on video which will help us to remember. This tugs my heart in a different direction. Fond memories which follow with heartache that Ande will never experience this and Jaycie didn't have the opportunity either.

Last year we harvested without Dad with hope that he'd be around for future harvests. I have Nike and Maty talking to Papa on video telling him they love him and want him to get better soon so he can pick the corn with them. I'm not even sure if I ever showed him the video.

This year we intend to harvest whatever there is. Mom did plant again this year for numerous reasons but with everything going on, we haven't been able to help her as much as we should have. Dad was the one that loved to garden. He took pride in his garden. He enjoyed every bite of what came out of it as well as just the appeal the harvest had for the eyes.

Dad didn't like to have a meal served without his vegetables. I'd say vegetables were often the main course. Dad would take his salt shaker out to the garden, pick a tomato and eat it like an apple. The memories flood as I recall Dad in his garden.

Eating fresh sweet corn this year... and green beans... there was an enjoyable taste that left my heart tugging in different directions. I found myself reaching for another ear of corn... not because I was still hungry... simply because Dad would have a pile of empty ears with a meal and I knew if he was still here, I'd be letting him down to stop at one ear of corn.

Will the pain ever stop? We have to be intentional not to allow ourselves to fall into a pit of grief that we have to climb out of. I find myself literally shaking my head often. It's as though I'm telling myself I can't go there. I have to remember the good times and be grateful for what we have. It doesn't do any good to delve into my wishes for the future that can never be fulfilled.

Still, pain is part of this process. Grief is a part of my life. It's a daily learning process to live with it and in spite of it.

Recording and sharing memories of Dad helps medicate my heart. It keeps his memory alive and reminds me of how blessed we were to call this man "Dad" or "Papa".

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trick or Treat, Smell my Feet

Trick or Treat
Smell my feet
Give me something good to eat
If you don't, I don't care
I'll just pull down your underwear

This is what Nikelle came home having learned on the bus today. I know everyone learns this little rhyme at some point in their life. It's just a silly little rhyme. Still, I hate that she is growing up. I hate that little by little, she is losing her innocence. I want to keep her young and naive for as long as possible. Thankfully, this is mild in comparison to what she could be learning on the bus. Still, I have to stress to her that although it's a funny little jingle that she can use at home, it is not something nice to say when she is out trick-or-treating. We'll see if she remembers this when Halloween rolls around.

I may not be able to protect her from everything. She is out in the world and she's bound to learn things I don't want her to learn. I just pray that we always have a relationship where she will share with me what she is learning. I want to guide her in a way that doesn't feel condemning when she talks with me but rather allows her to continue to feel welcome to share, all the while learning to make right choices.

Any input?

Potty Training

My mind has been bouncing around doing a post on how well Jaycie has been doing with potty training. I've been hesitant because I fear that it will be followed up with her having all kinds of problems. Now that I don't have to worry about that anymore, I'll just give an update on her potty training.

She's been doing great. I can't remember the last time she messed in her pants. That's a relief. If we're going to have accidents, I'd rather they be the easier ones to clean up. She's been consistently wearing panties during the day. I've even begun to allow her to wear them when we're going out. She's been doing that well with telling me she has to go.

Yesterday my mom and I went out to run some errands. We were near the mall and it was time for Andelise to eat. I decided it would be nice for Jaycie if she could play at the playplace while Ande ate.

Jaycie was enjoying playing because nobody was at the playplace (the more kids, the more shy she decides she is). I wasn't really thinking about how long it had been since I had her go to the bathroom last until I saw her standing there with liquid forming underneath her! She stopped going when I told her to and my mom cleaned things up and took her to the bathroom. I blamed it partly on myself because I didn't have her go to the bathroom prior to playing.

Later in the day, she was playing outside and told me she needed to come in and go potty. I thought to myself about the progress that revealed. That's when I realized she went up to her bedroom and got new panties for herself. She had had an accident outside. I suppose if she's going to have an accident, that's the best place for it.

All these accidents seem to happen during the baby's feedings. I need to do a better job of making sure she's been to the bathroom in the recent past before I feed the baby. Especially because she had another accident after Nikelle got home. Again, while I was feeding her sister.

I was sitting with Ande when Nikelle came up to me and said, "I think Jaycie had an accident." I put the baby down and went to the bathroom where the floor was soaked. When I asked Jaycie why she didn't tell me, her response was simply "I just wet."

After informing my daughter that there would be no more candy while she was having accidents during the day, she did better to this point. I

Thinking about it, t's been a while since she's been to the bathroom...

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Late Bus

Nikelle's bus was over 40 minutes late yesterday. Thanks to hearing prior stories about late buses from other moms, I was able to remain calm. I did call the school and they confirmed that the bus was running late. Still... 40 minutes!? Thankfully, it wasn't a time that I chose to leave either of the girls in the house sleeping. At least they were both with me.

Here's the cool thing about our wait. Some neighbors from down the street introduced themselves to us: the Martins. When they saw us still standing out there waiting for Nike, they brought lawn chairs out and sat and talked with us. Some people just know how to be neighborly and I could really learn something from the neighbors on our street.

Nikelle got home safely. Supposedly the driver is new and learning the route. Hopefully, she learns it quickly... 40 minutes each day will add up quick. Nikelle said she didn't realize she was on the bus for a long time so that's good. I was just grateful to see her home safely.


Oh, and Nikelle now knows how to tie her shoes by herself. (No,she didn't learn it on her extended bus ride.) It's just one more way she's growing up!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Perfectionism and Humility

I have perfectionist tendencies. They come from my Dad. He was always striving for perfection. One problem with perfectionism, for me, is that I beat myself up when I realize I've made a mistake.

For example, I just sent out some birth announcements to family. I did birth announcements for the other two girls so I knew I would do them for Andelise as well. The bulk of the announcement was completed prior to her birth. I just had to finalize them now that we knew for certain that she was a girl. On Saturday, I finally mailed them out with a sense of relief that I could check the task off of my to do list.

Last night as I was getting Ande to sleep, the realization hit me. I spelled Rod's grandpa's name wrong. His name was Bror Anders. I spelled it Broar Anders. Why? Who knows. I typed it up when I was pregnant. That's always a problem. My brain is far from working accurately when I am pregnant. I hate that I realized this mistake because the announcements are already gone and there is nothing I can do about it... other than beat myself up and let my day go in a downward spiral. Silly, I know. It's something I have to intentionally fight against.

I tell myself that it's done. The mistake is made. I can't change it now. I'm going to look a little stupid to his family members. Good thing I explained our decision process with Andelise's name so that I don't have to tell the story over and over again. Now I get to explain that I did realize I spelled Grandpa Andy's name wrong but it was too late to change it.

I suppose for a perfectionist, these things happen to keep me humble. I'm not perfect no matter how hard I try. I shouldn't expect it of others and I shouldn't expect it of myself. Strive to do my best and expect and accept some lessons in humility.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Check it out?

Looks like this could be another good one from the creators of Facing the Giants:

http://www.fireproofthemovie.com/

What an adjustment!

I have yet to adjust to this new life of school all day for one child, potty training another and taking care of a newborn who wants to eat all day long! I thought things were going well yesterday as I walked to the bus stop to pick my 1st grader up. This was the first time since the baby was born that I took on this task alone. The baby was fed and sleeping, my 2-year-old had napped and been to the potty chair. Things weren't looking all too bad.

I was able to help my 6-year-old with her homework as the baby slept and our middle child played. So far so good. With the homework done, I was able to sit and relax a little bit as I fed my newborn.

As I fininshed feeding her, I realized things were a little quiet. The older two had been playing together but now Jaycie was missing. As I walked to the bathroom to check on her, that's when I noticed the wet floor. All the way down the hallway. Ughh! Jaycie came around the corner. "Mom, I need new panties." Why is it that I just don't stick to the pull-ups? Isn't the convenience worth the cost? Sending her upstairs to get her own panties, I walked into the bathroom to find why she had been so quiet. The roll of toilet paper was now unrolled and conveniently piled up in the toilet bowl. How fun for her and how quickly a relaxing moment can turn around and bite one in the butt!

Frustrated, tired and just plain done, I cleaned up the mess and realized how grateful I am for friends who bring meals! Thank you so much!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Been a little busy...

Wednesday evening, September 3rd at 6:08, we welcomed another little girl into our family. She was 7lbs 14oz, 20.5 inches long. We named her Andelise Randall Carlson and are calling her "Ande" for short. Andelise is a combination of Rod's paternal grandparents names and Randall was my Dad's middle name. We are home now (after 24 hours)! :) and all seems well. Jaycie wants to be overly helpful and Nike is off to school. She woke up Thursday morning with a loose tooth. Seems like some pretty appropriate timing as she is now the oldest of three sisters.

For now, you can see Ande at http://www.silvercross.org/patient/nursery.htm (September 3, 2008 - Tristi). I'll try to get some pics up soon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Labor Inducers

I had Mexican for dinner last night...
worked with Nikelle...
not this one!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Now overdue

I had grand plans of already having this baby and being back home before Nikelle returns to school tomorrow. That has not happened and unless something changes, will not be happening today either. I attempt to tell myself that the baby will come when it is ready and that is the best time for it to join us. At the same time, I'm anxious to be done with this pregnancy. I know I have only been pregnant for 9 months like everyone else but it does often feel like I've had the gestational period of an elephant with this one! I think with everything going on this year, it's made it seem extra long. I just keep attempting to get out of the house and do things to take my mind off of it. Nikelle was a week late and everything went just fine. My biggest concern is that my midwife will be gone next Saturday and I really want her around for the delivery rather than the doctor. She delivered both my girls and I've chosen her because I'm comfortable with her. The doctor is just supposed to be used if there are complications. I'm getting ahead of myself, though. There are plenty of days between now and then. I might as well get myself out and walking around today again. This baby is due to come sometime soon...or should I now say overdue?

Sunday, August 31, 2008

A tail?

The girls and I were talking this morning about what we were doing today. I happened to mention that we would go visit family as long as the baby is happy in my belly. Jaycie said "he have a tail on his bum". Where do they come up with these things? I began to tell her that she was incorrect. The baby would not have a tail. That is when I realized she was referring to one of her little boy cousins. "Yeah," Jaycie reiterated. "Owen have a tail on his bum!" She was confused by my laughter so I just said, "You're right, Jay. Boys are different from girls." Laughing some more, I made certain Rod had heard.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Not Yet

Still pregnant...

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Curious?

To those of you checking my blog just because you are curious, no baby yet. I just spent the day walking around the mall with my mom and still no signs of labor. Of course, the due date still has yet to come so there's no reason to be surprised. Still, I was hopeful. No baby yet, though.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Six Months

Six months ago Dad left this earth. It's still a daily struggle for me because my mind still doesn't grasp that he is no longer part of our daily lives. It's a strange reality. I never really had to face it before but slowly it's just becoming part of life...that he is no longer a part of it. My heart swells and tugs out of confusion all at once on so many days. My emotions get all confused.

Six months after his death, we are awaiting the birth of our third child. Tomorrow is the day my parents would have celebrated their 37th wedding anniversary. It would sure be nice for my mom if this baby could come on the 28th so she can still have something to celebrate that day.

It's hard to believe half a year has gone by without my Dad. I read this quote in the book Where is God When it Hurts? It hits my heart.

I suppose every Christian with a similar experience goes back to the book of Job for answers. Here was a righteous man who suffered more than even I could imagine. But strangely, I could not find answers to the "Why?" of tragedies anywhere in the book of Job. What I found was that Job clung to God regardless, and God rewarded him. - Joni Eareckson Tada