Over the river...

Sunday, April 29, 2007 8 Comments A+ a-

We just returned from a weekend in the mountains at Jon’s grandparents’ cabin. It was just what the doctor ordered for this family of four; a relaxing, restorative weekend with no running water, no indoor plumbing, surrounded by mountains and trees. As much as I love my family, it was wonderful to spend the weekend alone.

Jon’s grandparents bought the cabin when Jon was in third grade and is used by every branch on the family tree for family getaways, youth group activities, and Christmas tree hunting. We just love the one-bedroom cabin and are so thankful to grab it for the occasional weekend when we can. It conjures a feeling of simpler living and nurtures our love for the outdoors.

Devyn’s pleas of “Play, Mama, play” led to many walks and hikes; stopping to explore fallen trees, ant hills, and counting pine cones. There were numerous hand washings as Devyn played in the dirt, until I could no longer scrub the dirt from under her fingers. We enjoyed a family walk at dusk, as Hudson was zipped into my fleece jacket as protection against the chilly night air. The whole weekend was rejuvenating!

One of my favorite memories of the weekend was watching Devyn climb to the top of a rock all by herself. Two different feelings warred against themselves as this mother watched her daughter take daring step after daring step. One was crying out for her to be careful and to get back on the ground where it was safe. The other was silently encouraging her on, wanting her to be as adventurous as possible. Both sides remained silent as she made her way to the top; and despite my desperate desire for her to be back on the ground, I managed to take a few shots of her accomplishment.

Spiritual Gifts

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 7 Comments A+ a-

I'm a firm believer that God gives all of His children different strengths and weaknesses; that's how we make up the body of Christ. For example, my friend Kamma's mother was an incredible intercessor. I know that God spoke to her in ways that He does not speak to me. Judy knew things about my life that I never told her and while it was a little intimidating, I also know that she often went to battle for me in prayer. Another example is Jon's spiritual gift of service. If someone needs something done, he's there in a heartbeat. If a car slipped into a ditch, we're late to wherever we're going because Jon stopped to help. I think it's a beautiful gift.

When I got pregnant with Devyn, I had an enlightening conversation with Kamma's sister-in-law, Keri. When Keri was pregnant with her daughter, Molly, she started praying that God would bestow particular strengths and/or spiritual gift on Molly. If I remember correctly, I believe Keri prayed for the gift of compassion and it is so evident that Molly was given that gift. It made me start thinking about the gifts and strengths I would like my children to have. Now, don't get me wrong, I know that if God doesn't intend for Devyn or Hudson to have these gifts, they won't get them. But I see nothing wrong in going to God and asking for them. While pregnant with both Devyn and Hudson, I have prayed for the gifts of Compassion and Grace.

Compassion (n) - sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Grace (n) - merciful, compassion shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one's power.

I realize they go hand-in-hand but those traits are so important to me and they're two traits that I find particularly lacking in today's society. I feel these were some of the greatest of Jesus' traits too, offering compassion and grace where others least expected it or allowed it. I pray that Devyn and Hudson will offer compassion to classmates and friends; offering a listening ear, praying over a hard situation, or just being a friend to those that need it. As far as grace goes, I pray that my children will always remember that they were given grace by God, though it was not deserved, and apply that concept in their own lives.

While I have prayed for those two gifts for each Devyn and Hudson, I have also prayed for one special gift for each of them.

In Devyn, I prayed for the gift of Humility. Humility (n) - the quality or state of being humble; not proud or haughty, not arrogant. As I look over these gifts I've prayed for Devyn's life, I find that they all seem synonymous with being a servant. My sincere desire is that Devyn will live her life to serve God, in whatever capacity He calls her to do that.

And lastly, I prayed that Hudson would be given the gift of Discernment. Discernment (n) - an act of discerning; revealing insight and understanding. My greatest hope in asking for this gift in Hudson's life, is that Hudson would easily be able to discern between good and evil; that he would not be led astray off the path God has chosen for him.

It is way too early to know whether or not these gifts have been bestowed on Devyn or Hudson; I imagine I won't be able to tell for a few more years yet. But I'm excited to see if my prayers were answered. And in the mean time, I pray that God will give me the wisdom and patience to help my children mold these gifts, or others that He’s given them, to be used in God’s kingdom and as part of the body of Christ.

She was missed!

Monday, April 23, 2007 6 Comments A+ a-

When Amy told me that her husband had taken their two-year-old to visit family shortly after the birth of their second son, I thought, “That’s such a great idea. It’s giving her time to bond with the new baby and giving some great one-on-one time between father and the firstborn.” As I told Jon about it, I couldn’t keep the wistfulness out of my voice. I remember telling Jon that it would be wonderful to have some one-on-one time with Hudson. Jon’s face brightened and he excitedly said, “Devyn and I could go visit my mom.” And with that, plans started being made.

As time came nearer for their four-day trip, I found myself incredibly torn. On one hand, I was looking forward to the time alone with Hudson. I wanted so much to be able to just sit for hours, memorizing Hudson’s facial features and expressions, but it was hard to do with a 2-year-old wanting attention. I was ready for this time with him. But on the other hand, I found myself doubting whether this was a good idea or not. Devyn and I have never been away from each other for that long and I worried she wouldn’t be able to handle it because she had turned into such a mama’s girl lately. I even tried convincing Jon a couple of times that they didn’t need to take the trip after all, but Jon would hear none of it; he was really looking forward to this trip.

They left bright and early on Friday morning, around 2:30am to make their 5:30 flight to North Carolina. I woke a little after six to a text message from Jon saying that they had made it on the plane and that they loved us. I felt a fist grab my heart and squeeze, my love for them was that palpable. I laughed, they’d only been gone a couple of hours and already I missed them.

It’s now Monday and in three hours, they’re getting on a plane to come home and I couldn’t be happier. During the time they were gone, I realized what an integral part Devyn plays in our family. She brings an energy and personality that cannot be replicated. I have missed her “Happy Feet” dancing, the patter of her feet on the hardwood floors, her sing-song voice, and numerous sayings that are strictly hers. I missed her singing, where she takes the words she knows and adds notes and rhythm to them. “Nana, Mama, Baby, Me, You, Dada, Papa” can be strung into a song lasting for ten minutes. I miss hearing her say, “Mama, where are you?” I missed hearing her count, “two, three, two”. Yes, I even missed her tantrums.

Devyn is such a special little girl; she is so shy in new surroundings but so independent and confident at the same time. According to Jon, she had a fantastic time, and while she did ask for “mama” and “baby”, there were few tears and as many tantrums. Jon was able to send me both pictures and videos from his cell phone so I could see for myself what a great time she was having. Hudson and I had a special time too, more on that later, but I am so ready for my baby girl to come home!

The Many Faces of Hudson

Saturday, April 21, 2007 9 Comments A+ a-

And I thought Devyn had an expressive face...

We have a hole!

Friday, April 20, 2007 14 Comments A+ a-

This post may seem completely materialistic and shallow but Jon and I have worked so hard for this moment (for those that want the back story, you can click here and here) and we just have to share our joy on the progression of our very first house. First some pictures!

The "Sold" sign sitting in front of our house site.The great mound of dirt, just waiting to be moved.Just before they started digging our foundation.We have a hole!
It's official, over two months after we signed on the dotted line of our contract, our builder is finally starting the construction of our house! Words cannot explain the elation Jon and I feel as we visit the site of our first house, on an almost daily basis. (Corny, but true!) We've been watching way too much HGTV and coming up with so many ideas and hopes for our first home as a family of four. Quite frankly, we're just anxious to be in our own place again. We love my parents and are enternally thankful that they opened their home to us, but we're so ready to create a home of our own.

So, what have we been up to since signing that contract?! Well, the builder has been getting the appropriate licenses, permits, etc. And Jon and I (besides having a baby) have been making the all-important decisions when building a house from the ground up. We have chosen our house colors; we've gone with a tan base, a cream trim, and aubergine (a deep plum color) accents. We've chosen our brick, the color of our interior, and the stain we want on our floor boards and inside trim. We made choices concerning the color of our appliances and the style of our cupboards. Then we were sent to a design center where we got to choose everything from our carpet to our linoleum to our tile. We got to choose the backsplash in the kitchen; the tile around our fireplace; and the countertops in the kitchen and bathrooms.

All in all, its felt like a dream and we often pinch ourselves to make sure that this is really happening! We made so many poor financial decisions in the early years of our marriage and we paid some hefty prices to get to this place. But once we saw them dig the foundation and start pouring the concrete, we realized how far we've come! Here is a picture of our family in front of our house site; I can't wait to see the "after" picture.

Bragging Rights

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 19 Comments A+ a-

Please have patience with me as I indulge my need to foist these adorable pictures on the unsuspecting public. I promise to have a more informative post next time.
Hey... as the mommy, I have certain bragging rights, correct?!

Say Cheese

Monday, April 16, 2007 8 Comments A+ a-

These are the pictures you get when you leave a 2-year-old alone with your digital camera! Last week we went up to see the progress of our house (more on that later this week) and as I was talking to my mom, I could swear that I kept hearing the click of the camera. Sure enough, I looked in the backseat and there was Devyn, saying "cheese" and smiling into the camera while pushing the appropriate button. I laughed and told Jon that I just HAD to get these on the blog!

Best of Friends

Saturday, April 14, 2007 11 Comments A+ a-

Emma belongs to Sarah, Addison belongs to Cassie, and Devyn belongs to me. When Devyn was born, Addie was 15 months old and Emma was four months old. Finally, I had joined their mommy club!

Sarah and I have been friends since 2nd grade, when our mother thrust us together and told us, "You will be friends". We walked to school together, played 'Little House on the Prairie' together, had numerous slumber parties, and I even endured my first bee-sting at her house. I was incredibly sad when she moved about a half-hour north during 5th grade.

Sarah and Cassie became friends in 7th grade, when they started attending junior high together. I'd met Cassie a couple of times at a few of Sarah's birthday parties, but didn't become good friends until we were both bridesmaids in Sarah's wedding... almost four years ago. Cassie was eight months pregnant for Sarah's wedding and I was intrigued by this thing called pregnancy.

Now four years later, there are six children between the three of us. Chloe, Elijah, and Hudson are the second round of children, all born within six months of each other. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be sharing this journey with two wonderful women and their children. I love having play-dates together; I enjoy our heart-to-heart talks; and I'm thankful for the ways they encourage me to be a better wife, mother, and child of God. I hope, and pray, that our children will be the same to each other.

Addison - 16 months old; Devyn - 4 weeks old.

Emma - 18 months; Addison - 2 1/2 years; Devyn - 14 months.

Emma - 2 1/2 years; Addison - 3 1/2 years; Devyn - 2 1/2 years.

The girls all wanted to pray before we ate lunch!

The Mommies - Sarah, Cassie, and I.

Growing Into Us

Wednesday, April 11, 2007 17 Comments A+ a-

When Jon and I married almost five years ago, it was the start of coupledom. We enjoyed being able to go camping at the spur of the moment; we had very few responsibilities; and there was the pure luxury of sleeping in on weekends. We were a team; known as the newlyweds and ready for spontaneous adventure.

In 2004, Devyn Paige was born and suddenly our team had a new player. We were still able to do many of the things we enjoyed without a second thought or much planning. (4-Wheeling, anyone?!) Some extra diapers, some snacks for the road, and we were good to go. We enjoyed our little unit of three, but it still felt as though not much had changed.

Enter 2007 and the arrival of Hudson Jonathan; it suddenly felt like our world had turned upside down. We endured five weeks of transition with gritted teeth, a strong will to survive, and bated breath. Our perfect balance had been rocked. Suddenly, our two-year-old disliked us intensely for bringing home a second child and ultimately, rocking her world. We endured screaming matches, tantrums, and disrupted sleep routines. We enjoyed watching her love on the new baby, but hated being the brunt of her insecurity, frustration, and fears. Somehow, even in the midst of midnight feedings and adjusting to a newborn again, we survived and have settled into a nice routine again.

About two weeks ago it hit me; we had turned into a family. Granted, we've always been a family, but for the first time in our marriage I realized that we... were... an... actual... family. We’re now responsible for two young lives! When did this happen?! It's hard to explain, but now our team feels complete, cohesive. I love our evenings where either Jon or I is holding the newborn, while the other wrestles with Devyn. I love that we tag-team the children before we head out to run errands or go out to eat. I enjoy being stopped in a store to be told that I "have beautiful children". And I love that the word "children" now applies in my life. It is a heart-stopping, smile-sharing moment, when Jon and I exchange a look over the kiddos' heads and realize how far we've come since coupledom.

Foot Note: No, we do not drive around (4-wheeling or otherwise) with our children buckled in the seats like the Jeep picture. We just did that for the picture, with the Jeep safely parked in the driveway. =)

Thinking Blog Awards

Tuesday, April 10, 2007 6 Comments A+ a-

Susie from SusiePie nominated me for the Thinking Blogger Award that's making its way around the blogosphere. Wow! As I told Susie, I never thought I'd be nominated for the award, especially by someone whose own blog and talent I so greatly admire! And quite frankly, I'm not sure I even post thought-provoking entries; they're mostly just tidbits and stories from my life, with a few of my life lessons thrown in at random. Regardless, thank you Susie, for the nomination. It made my day!

So, because I have been nominated, I must proceed with the rules of the awards, which are:

1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme.

3. Optional: Proudly display the "Thinking Blogger Award" with a link to the post that you wrote.

How can I possibly narrow the list down to five when there are so MANY blogs that touch me in some way?! Regardless, here goes nothing.

1. Amy from Amy, Oh My - I came across Amy's blog at the very beginning of my second pregnancy and, to my delight, found another young mom just embarking on her second pregnancy too. In fact, our sons are born only 8 days apart!! It has been a treasure to swap stories, life lessons, and thoughts with each other. I feel like I've found a friend to embark on this motherhood journey together. She is such a sweet, lovely woman who is extremely devoted to her sons and whom I was so lucky to find.

2. Elise from A Path Made Straight - Elise's blog is incredibly thought provoking and loving at the same time. I am amazed at the pearls of wisdom I've found in her posts and am constantly amazed at how she manages to impart God's words through her wonderful stories! I love that when God talks to her, He uses the word Beloved. It's such a great reminder that we are truly God's beloved!

3. Katherine from Raising Five - Here is a woman raising five children, ranging in age from toddlerhood to teenagers. I found her through Susie's blog design gallery and feel like I've found a mentor of sorts in Katherine. I truly admire her mothering skills, her take on life, and how she's leaving a legacy for her children. I love that I can visit her site, find some incredible parenting advice, and store it away for future use! She has been encouraging during some of my struggles and I just love her "realness".

4. Erin from Embracing My Cup - I also found Erin through Susie's blog design gallery and have enjoyed her openness and willingness to share what's on her heart and her love to serve God, her husband, and her boys. When I found out that I was having a boy, I was at a loss at how to raise a son. Erin's posts have given me insight in how to love a little boy and how to raise him to be a "man after God's own heart". Some of Erin's posts have touched my heart and brought me to tears.

5. Christine from Fruits in Season - I don't remember how I found Christine's blog but I am SO glad that I did. Christine is currently doing a weekly post on marriage and I find it inspiring. She's written many posts about how to be a better wife and I, for one, can use all the help and advice I can get! I feel there's a lot of wisdom and love in her words; she gently reminds us to be the godly wives that we've been called to be.

As I said earlier, there are so many blogs that I read on a daily, weekly basis that teach me new things about motherhood, being a wife, and growing closer to God. I had such a hard time choosing!

My Redeemer Lives

Sunday, April 08, 2007 2 Comments A+ a-

My Redeemer Lives
Nicole C. Mullen

Who taught the sun
Where to stand in the morning?
And who told the ocean
"You can only come this far"?
And who showed the moon
Where to hide till evening

I know my redeemer lives
I know my redeemer lives
All of creation testify
This life within me cries
I know my redeemer lives

The very same God
That spins things in orbit
Runs to the weary, the worn and the weak
And the same gentle hands
That hold me when I'm broken
They conquer death to
Bring me victory

Now I know my redeemer lives
I know my redeemer lives
Let all creation testify
Let this life within me cry
I know my redeemer

He lives to take away my sins
And He lives forever, I proclaim
That the payment or my sins
Was the precious life He gave
But now He's alive and
There's an empty grave

More Le'low, Pease!

Friday, April 06, 2007 10 Comments A+ a-

Yesterday we dyed Easter eggs for the very first time with Devyn. Needless to say we got SO, SO messy but had an absolute ball doing it. Devyn was completely enthralled with the process and made certain that we had plenty of her favorite color for the eggs, which happens to be yellow. (Either yellow really is her favorite color, or its one of the only colors she can say.) "More le'low, pease" resulted in approximately 8 yellow Easter eggs, out of two dozen!

Devyn and the infamous yellow egg and dye!
Me, around 2 years old, dying Easter eggs of my own.

Showing off our messy hands!

Enjoying our time as a family!

God is Good!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007 8 Comments A+ a-

Yesterday afternoon, I bundled the three of us, Devyn, Hudson, and myself, into Devyn’s bed for a story and a nap. We made it through the story just fine; neither cried, got fussy, or upset. Then after we said our prayers and settled under the covers to fall asleep, Hudson decided to fuss and cry. I waited and watched as Devyn cuddled closer to Hudson, laid her forehead against his, and started soothing him to sleep by caressing his cheek with her hand. It’s not the first time this has happened, Devyn has calmed her brother to sleep on a number of occasions. It’s as though there’s a special connection between brother and sister that I cannot see. Every time it happens, I am both amazed at her tenderness and saddened as she seems so much older than her two years of age.

Once both children feel asleep and before I picked up Hudson to lay him in his bassinet, I sat up and watched my sleeping babies. I watched the soft cadence of their breathing, the rise and fall of their chests; I watched Devyn sigh in her sleep; I watched as Hudson pursed his lips and then smiled. An overwhelming ache filled my heart, the kind of ache that only another mother can understand. That ache where your heart is overflowing; you wonder if it’s possible, or healthy, to love this much; and knowing, without a doubt, you would do anything to protect them.

I memorized each child’s facial features; the shadow created by their eyelashes under their eyes; their cheeks rosy from sleep. I caressed Devyn’s honey-blond hair and smoothed a flyaway tendril from her cheek. I leaned forward and pressed my lips against Hudson’s, savoring the smell of his baby breath. In those moments, I wanted time to stand still and let them remain this small and innocent for all eternity.

Too often, I’m bustling from one mommy emergency to another. I’m either kissing a skinned knee or consoling a hurt feeling; I’m either disciplining or feeding my newborn; I’m either fixing lunch or cleaning the kitchen. Regardless of what I’m doing, I find that moments like the above are few and far between; that is why I treasure them when they do happen. As I tucked Hudson into the crook of my arm and rearranged the blankets around Devyn; I found myself thanking God for these blessings He’s given me and vowing to do my best by them. God is so good!


Sunday, April 01, 2007 11 Comments A+ a-

We had a fun time last night!! My mom bought this game from Family Life titled Spous-ology and she invited all the sisters, husbands, and boyfriends over for a rowdy night of game-playing. There were five couples in all; Mom and Dad, Christine and Caleb, Allison and Drew, Courtney and Jeremy, and Jon and I. Now granted, neither Courtney nor Allison is married, but we figured they could play with their boyfriends.

I’ll give you a quick rundown of the game, its very similar to the Newlywed Game that’s shown on TV. First the girls are given a question, such as: “If your husband were to call you a fruit, what would fruit would it be?” And then you’re given a multiple-choice answer:

a) A kiwi – because you’re unusual and unique
b) A peach – because you’re soft and sweet
c) A cherry – because you’re delicious but tart
d) An apple – because you’re simply a classic

Each wife holds an A, B, C, and D card, as does the husband. The wife selects the corresponding letter that she thinks her husband would answer; and the husband selects the same. Then each holds out the card and if they’re answers match, they win a point. And then the process is repeated by the guys!

Questions cover subjects such as romance, stress, house and family, and finances. There are extra credit points and penalties to be paid. Needless to say, we had a riot!! And now for the winners…

Yes, that’s right. One of the unmarried couples, Courtney and Jeremy, took home the $25 gift certificate to a local restaurant. But in my defense, there was a tie-breaker and Jon and I lost in the lightening round. I can’t believe Jon thinks it would ONLY take me an hour to get ready for a formal evening out. Nice try, Jon! At least we got the fruit-question right. Love, The Cherry