Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Growing Up.

This picture was taken shortly after my sister's death. Mike and I had gone to Paris to spend time with a friend and to clear our heads and get away from the "in-our-face" grief/pain that was present at the time.



I feel like I've grown up. In some ways I'm so thankful. In some ways it's been a painful process, one that often had a lot more "growing pains" than I thought I was meant to handle. 1 Corinthians 13: 11 says "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." I know I have many childish ways left in me, but there is part of me that has grown. Sometimes it's been a rude awakening. My ignorant bliss has been lost. Suffering is not a fun experience but it is a growing one. Through the loss of my sister, through all of Mike's job and school changes, through all the pre-term labor with Samuel and then all of Samuel's health issues/hospitalizations I have seen God in my midst. I have seen Him stripping me of the things I clung so tightly too. Stripped of human relationships, security, and control. I found a journal entry I wrote a couple weeks before I got married. In it was a prayer to God that said, "Lord do whatever it takes to make me wholely yours. Bring me through whatever trials, whatever pain necessary to make me cling to you, to need you. to not take you for granted or to lose sight of you. I would rather have sufferering and know you than to be independent without you and not feel my need for you." I read it crying. Would I have known what I would walk through would I have still written that? It's easier to pray that way when you haven't tasted of it. Yet, I DO praise God for the suffering. Not that suffering is good in and of itself but God uses it to produce good fruit. He uses it draw me closer to Him and to make me more like Him. He was a man of sorrows and Jesus weeps with us. Thank you Lord that you are the source of all compassion!

As I write, it has turned into March. Almost magically. February is lost and March has come. My stomach knots up and there is a lump in my throat. My husband and I have passed on a tradition that my parents used to carry. Every new month one of was will try to beat the other by saying "Happy _______!" Happy June or Happy October... you get the picture. But since my sister's death we have made a rule. We never say "Happy March." 4 years ago it was happy. We were preparing for my sister's wedding. I celebrated my beloved's birthday on the 10th. He had asked me to court on the 9th. It was happy. Now the joy is sapped by pain.

I hope I've become a little less self-centered over the years. I pray for others more and try to think about their needs. I want to be others-focused in my friendships and in my life. I have stopped looking at other's problems and saying that they're nothing compared to mine, instead I feel the pain they're in, the frustration, the difficulty, the pain, and I feel compassion for them, I empathize with them. I suffer with them. I mourn with them.

I went to a Women's Bible Study last night and I lost it. Often I found it difficult to cry when I really need to and when I don't want to cry or feel I shouldn't I end up sobbing. Last night was one of those nights. It's difficult being vulnerable in front of a bunch of women I don't know. But it was one of those things.

I'm going to be driving down to Va tomorrow with Mike and the kids. I have an appt. to see the dentist on Friday to get some cavities filled- I'm excited to get them filled because the pain is so bad. But the pain in my mouth pales compared to the pain of my heart. I'm going to go to my sister's grave. At least that's the plan as of now, when it comes down to it I don't know if I'll actually have the guts. It's so hard to go there. To be so close to her remains but to know she's really gone. I can't hold her hand, I can't hear her sing, I can't smell her Pantene Pro-V hair, or listen to her laugh, or watch her consume ice-cream at 8 in the morning. I miss watching her strum the guitar or the way she would tuck her strands of hair behind her ears... or the way she'd look at me and say "Jeeeennnnnn!" in that knowing tone of voice. I miss that we didn't get to have babies together, or go on trips to a beachhouse for vacation like we said we would. I miss not talking about our guys and realizing that I'm not crazy that sometimes husbands are "just like that!" I miss being an aunt and buying clothes for my nephew or taking him to Target and letting him pick out a toy. I wonder what he would have called me. I miss my brother-in-law Mike and the way my parents and brother used to be. I miss the way we used to laugh together and be carefree and happy and excited. I miss having to buy a Sister's Birthday card or buying her gifts for birthdays and holidays and for just whenever. I miss watching her eat Hershey Kisses. I miss so much about her.

I dreamt about a week ago that my sister had Sam and she was pregnant with her second baby and we were so excited. I kept getting excited because she was having a girl and I would rub her belly to feel the baby kick. The dream felt so real and I woke up with that sad realization that it was just a dream.

I feel myself changing. I'm trying to make new friends. I'm enjoying my classes on Monday nights. I feel like Dr. Tripp is challenging my beliefs in a great way and helping me to see how I need to change. Tuesday nights I'm starting to go to a Women's Bible study that some ladies who either go to Westminster or are wives of students who attend there are heading up. We're studying the minor prophets (currently on Jonah). On Wednesday nights, every other week, we have our small group meetings where we bring our children and potluck dinner and talk about the message. I've really enjoyed the fellowship there and am coming to love the women in that group. I'm enjoying finding ways to serve people in our church. I'm loving my anatomy and physiology course for my nutritional degree. I'm enjoying cooking and finding new meals to create. I'm starting to get a system for the household. I have enjoyed having my quiet times and have grown in true consistency. These things are all good and they're evidences of God's grace in my life. It doesn't mean that I don't struggle. Sometimes I still feel alone and wonder if people up here even know I exist :) Othertimes I'm just exhausted and wonder if I will ever stop cleaning up throw up or changing diapers. I know God has good things ahead. He has given me so many good things already, a wonderful family, friends that love me (and yes, they do know me!), good health, a warm home, a car that works, a good marriage, a church that's helping me grow, education, the ability to exercise, food, clean water and air. He has provided me with more than I need; fun magazines to read, a house that I like aesthetically, a safe neighborhood, children that are beautiful and a joy to be with, a laptop, camera, and IPOD... more than I abundantly need.

"Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own we have given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building your house for your holy name comes from you hand and is all your own." 1 Chronicles 29:11-16

This was David's prayer but I take it as my own. He has given us so much to be thankful for. On Sunday our pastor was talking about the story of Joseph and suffering. He was talking about weeping, but not despairing- we have much to be hopeful for. He was also saying that God does not rejoice in evil. He doesn't delight in bad things happening. He is Sovereign and He is Good, but he doesn't think it's good that bad things happen. He uses those bad things and makes good out of them, but He doesn't need bad things to work His purposes. I hope that made sense. It did for me. I am thankful to know that God is walking with me. He is comforting me and weeeping with me as I weep. He is such a good God.
So for those of you who have read this very long blogpost wow, I'm amazed you kept reading. I'm just thankful I can write and release some of these bottled feelings. I hope you can take comfort and joy in God's goodness and His care in our lives...even in the midst of pain.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Surprise Visitor



Today we had a surprise visitor. There was a knock on the door and we went to answer it thinking that it would be a FexEx package or something from UPS but instead there was a young woman with a camera. She asked if she could come and take some pictures of the house. She had a college project (she was majoring in photography at the art school across the street from us) and was to take pictures of places she used to live. Apparently she lived in the house a year ago. So, of course I am thinking, sure the kitchen and dining room are in relative order... that would be fine.

What she needed pictures of was the bedrooms upstairs. Of course I am in the midst of projects: getting all the kids clothes packed up that don't fit, re-organizing my part of the office upstairs and our bedroom has 6 loads of laundry on the floor that need to be washed.... so talk about embarassing. A perfect stranger in the house, in the places you least expect. I'm thinking, hmm, have I cleaned the bathrooms recently?

All this to say it got me thinking about my relationship with God. So often I want Him to see the parts that are clean, in order, and "picture perfect". But He wants to see the messy parts, the parts that are under construction. And He's there to help me change. Help me to order myself. But He's not embarassed or ashamed. He already knows what to expect and He's right there with me, accepting me just as I am and yet not letting me remain the same. What a good God we serve!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Delicate.


Do you ever have those days in your life where you are struggling? Maybe you feel delicate? You feel like you could be crushed so easily. I've been having those weeks, months, or more appropriately years. Since the death of my sister I have found that I can be crushed in two seconds flat... by a song, by a comment, by a friend. I've had so many vivid dreams of my sister lately and I wake up almost every morning crying because the moment before I could touch her and talk to her and hug her. I wake up and realize that it was just a dream. I try to remind myself that God's grace is sufficient for me and His power is made perfect in my weakness. Wow, He must be super strong right now because boy I am weak!

Weakness issues: overeating. I've been doing really well with being disciplined in eating and exercising... the last 10 days or so would be the exception. I feel like I'm going crazy and trying to satisfy myself in food instead of God. It's a terrible cycle. I eat something really bad for me like a hostess cupcake or bakalava and go crazy. Now these things in moderation in an of themselves are NOT bad... but right now, I feel like depression has a chokehold on me and I'm doing everything I can to fight for air... so I eat yucky food and in turn feel yucky (which lets me feel sorry for myself) and in turn eat yucky food. Mike helped me do something brave. I told him, "throw it away"... and he did. He threw out all the yucky foods that have been holding me down. So today, I ate some cereal for breakfast and NOT chocolate! and have gotten back into the groove of healthy eating.

I've been reading the Bible for several days in a row... which some of you would know that in itself is nothing short of miraculous but I realized that it's not enough.... not enough to just check the box... oh yeah, I had my quiet time... and I also cleaned the kitchen, put the clothes away. God is not a to-do list... He is a relationship. It means getting to know Him better and pursue Him and letting Him pursue me. And letting Him see all my yuckiness, my idolatry, my sinful heart, and my brokeness and sadness and grief. It's letting Him know me and fix me.

Tulips used to be my least favorite flower. I've always preferred happier flowers like Gerber daisies, roses, sunflowers, etc. I hated tulips becaues I hated the way they looked when they die, so limp and sad, and despondent. I could never understand why my sister Libby loved them. Now they're one of my favorite flowers... because I am so much like them...delicate, fragile... and hopeful, yielding to my Maker.

Monday, February 19, 2007

One of those mornings.

There is no picture for today and you will be glad of it. I woke up this morning with a headache. So did Mike. He got up and was trying to rush out the door, almost late for school. I had Libby with me downstairs and was trying to let Samuel sleep. I decide that I was going to exercise and picked a 30 minute video as opposed to my 60 min. one. Well, not 5 minutes into it Libby is yelling and freaking out. So, I stop fix her some breakfast, make sure every possible need could be met and resume. Then the kettle goes off with its piercing whistle. Mike is unavailable to tend to it so I head into the kitchen, pour the steaming water into his coffee press and stir. Set timer for 4 minutes.

Mike comes down. He starts making fun of my exercise instructor on the DVD. Okay, she's a bit toned to put it mildly. Mike said, "She looks like she would beat you up if you wouldn't be her girlfriend." So, she's got more muscle than most guys but it's a great work-out DVD. I kiss him. He leaves. Start the video over again. Libby is freaking out 20 minutes into it. I stop the video. Get her some goldfish. Back to the video. Finish the video. Make Samuel his breakfast of rice cereal and applesauce. He doesn't wake up. I put Jonah on and rush into the shower. I mean super-fast shower. Hallelujah... Libby doesn't know I'm gone for 10 minutes. Samuel is not crying. Get dressed. Get Samuel, feed him breakfast.

Try to do my quiet time. Decide it would be best to read Scripture out loud so that it would seep into my little one's spirits. I think every 10 seconds Libby started yelling, "mama." And I would say, "yes, love?" And she would jabber on. And I would gently remind her that we are trying to read God's Word and would continue for another 10 seconds. Samuel kept trying to eat the Bible. I started Genesis 1:1 and I think I got to verse 10. It was almost time for the kids to go take a nap. Praise God. I need to finish 60+ pages for tonight's class. I give Samuel a bottle to tank him up. Less than 10 minutes later he proceeds to throw up his bottle all over me, my two shirts (it's cold up here), my pants and my thermal underwear. Did I mention it's in my hair? Oh, and all over the brand new couch. I could cry. Why do I ever bother to shower? (smile)

take two. Strip Samuel and "clean myself" off. Proceed to clean couch. Throw both kids into the tub, scrub, wash, repeat, rinse. Dry them off, put them in diapers, lotion them, put on new clothes. Brush hair. Samuel goes down for his nap. I get Libby established with a craft project downstairs and head upstairs to the bath to wash all the throw-up clothes. they don't have washers or dryers here and the next possible moment to go to the laundromat is Wednesday. So after about 30 min. or so I get most of the throw-up out of the clothes. Libby joined me about 2 min. into the project and is shoving her toothbrush into my face saying, "teeth, mama. teeth!" She wants to brush her teeth and I'm trying to rinse clothes. Finally project done, I put her down for a nap...and yes, her teeth are clean.

I think to myself as I write, this isnt really that bad. It's bigger in my head. So I get a call as I'm typing this. Mike's car won't start. He's supposed to be back here at two so that I could go out and do my reading, shop for groceries, run errands and then proceed to class at 6:30 tonight. Looks like I'm going to have to wake up two sleeping children, blow dry their wet hair, bundle them, put them in the car and go after my honey. I know it's not that bad. I am just not feeling up to it.

Hope this will make someone laugh. Crazy moms of the world UNITE!!!!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

My guys.


These are two of my absolute favorite people in the world. Samuel just turned 1 yesterday. Hip, hip, hurray. I love this picture because it reminds me of how much these two love each other. Samuel, just goes crazy over his papa...oh and eating the tv remote!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Girl Time.



Sometime's there is nothing sweeter than time with my girl. We both have a thing for cookies... who doesn't? Especially when they're warm and with a cup of cold milk. Libby also happens to be pretty crazy about cookie dough. This is one of my favorite ways to do cookies. We didn't have a lot of time before Samuel would wake up from his nap... so I just used this container from Trader Joe's. Oh so yum. I am so thankful to have my two precious children. I am thankful that I have been given the privilege to train these two little ones and hopefully help them to grow to love God and to glorify Him with their lives. I'm also thankful for the special times I get to spend with my kids one-on-one. Libby and I did a lot of laughing and I got down on the kitchen floor and tickled her a bit. I know that these kinds of times are ones that I won't regret. I won't look back later and say, "Why wasn't the kitchen floor clean?" or "If only my house was immaculate." Instead I will thank God for the memories I've made with my children, for the time I spent with them, learning, laughing, and loving. We only get a chance to do life once. So make it count. Tell the ones you love that you love them. Enjoy life and don't get so caught up in the cares of the day... our lives are just a vapor, a mist. Here today and gone tomorrow. Live life for God and enjoy the gifts He's given you.

While the Princess sleeps, the prince will play.


One day while Libby was taking a nap Samuel got a hold of Libby's wand. Whenever she has her wand, she calls herself a "princess". "I, Princess, Mama!" Libby will snatch the wand away from Samuel whenever she seems him with it. But this time around she was sleeping.

Monday, February 12, 2007

New York City

Mike and I left the kids with his parents and drove to New Jersey where we proceeded to take a train to New York City. We thought we were going to have a good time but we had no idea how GREAT of a time we were going to have. We stayed at a friend's place in Manhattan. These dear people gave up their home to us, vacated their gorgeous, posh, apartment so that we could have a romantic early Valentine's night. Mike and I got into NYC just after noon. We took the subway to Manhattan and enjoyed a delicious lunch of French cusine at Les Deux Gamins on W. 4th street. I had a fabulous salad and Quiche Lorraine. And the bread was so French. It's hard to find good French food here in the States.

We took the afternoon off and just relaxed with our friends David and Susan at their apartment. That night they took us to an absolutely amazing Russian restaraunt/bar called Pravda.

(Pravda is an underground Caviar Bar that prides itself in serving the best Cocktails and Martinis alongside Russian inspired food. Also available are over 70 different Vodkas including 10 house infused flavored Vodkas. This subterranean Russian speak-easy, tucked away at the edge of Soho, is the perfect choice for an intimate dinner, a late-night Martini or a gathering for a group of friends.)

You can tell just being there that the elite of New York liked to mingle there. The atmosphere was warm and cozy but the place was hopping. We had course after course of appetizers and entrees. Scrambled eggs with caviar in a pastry shell. These delicious spinach wraps. New potatoes topped with caviar. Calamari. Smoked salmon on fried potatoe. Potato, bacon pizza. Etc. I know I'm not beginning to do the meal justice. Mike's favorite was Buckwheat pancakes with creme fraishe and smoked trout. And of course what Russian meal would be complete without vodka. Our friends got the vodka sampler of 6. I tried a small sip of the Spiced Cranberry and that was it for me. I'm not a vodka person but a taste completed the meal. It was fun to try different foods. I wouldn't say I'm a smoked salmon buff, oh and they had fried oysters.. but it was delicious and a special occasion. The fellowship was wonderful and we were so thankful for such a good time.


The next day Mike and I were going to go the Metropolitan Art Museum but on our way to Union Station I decided we should do something different. We went to the Strand and had a wonderful time. The strand is 18 miles of books. Mike had fun finding some good buys. I enjoyed the experience of watching him have a great time. For lunch we ate at Max Brenner's Chocolate Bar. It was quite decadent. We celebrated with their delicious mochas and I had an omelette and some toast with chocolate Brioche. Mike had this delicious spicy sausage and we splurged on a melted heart chocolate cake with berries and icecream. I know I'm not doing this place justice, but it was wonderful.




Afterwards we went to Anthropologie where I was given my Valentine's present, a beautiful selection of 4 perfumes that I just loved. All to say, we had a great time. We felt refreshed and had fun just being able to go and do what we pleased. It felt great to talk and reconnect. I look forward to our next visit.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Getting down on the farm.


Sometimes there's nothing better than getting down on the farm. One of Libby's favorite things to do when she goes to my parents is to ride the TRACTOR! Libby and Grandpa go for a ride around the pond. This time around my mom hopped on to! Oh what fun it is to ride on a tractor.

I'm missing Virginia and the friends and family there. I love and miss you all!

Emmy and Libby.



This is one of my favorite pictures. It's so fun to see Libby and Emily interact together. Em is such a fun cousin. She's creative with her sewing and designs the coolest stuff! She's playing basketball this season. Go, Em Go! She's great with Libby and Samuel. One of my favorite memories with Emily is when I drove out to her house with the kids (an hour away with traffic) so we could get pancakes at IHOP. I don't know how this was humanly possible but I managed to forget my diaper bag (which had my wallet in it) and so we were left with emergency money in the car and some money that Emily had. We made it work. We all ate. Amazingly enough I found some emergency diapers and formulat stashed in the back of the car from our last trip to the hospital. Praise God! In spite of her cousin being forgetful we had a great time. We miss you Emily!

Methods of Biblical Change.

My Textbooks.


So I started my first class at Westminster last night. It meets for 3 hours... and it was a fast three hours! I am so excited to be learning under Dr. Paul David Tripp. He's a great teacher and very wise. He also has a passion for Jesus Christ and ministering to people through counseling. I feel like part of the reason I'm up here is so that I can take this course. I so look forward to sharing how God speaks to me through this class. It's going to be a lot of work though. A paper is due every week and during every class we break down into community groups and work through cases together as well as work on changing our own hearts... yikes. Just excited and wanted to share.

Friday, February 02, 2007

3 a.m. and other "Magical Moments"

The Culprits. Yes, they look innocent enough :)

Well, we started off on the wrong foot by going to bed after 1 a.m. So what were we expecting? Yes, we are indeed gluttons for punishment. I heard the crying first. It was Samuel, it was 3 a.m. Then comes the siren-Libby. Now by this point Mike stirs. I try to explain to him that Samuel woke up first who in turn woke up his sleeping sister. I don't realize how muffled I sound (I'm wearing ear plugs). Mike's response is, "I'll get Libby and put her in bed with us." so I said okay but was wondering what he would do with Samuel. So Libby comes in bed. I'm getting frustrated after the 50th (or so) "Hello Mama!" Samuel is still crying, Mike is sleeping. So he didn't do anything with Samuel (anything meaning change diaper or give him a bottle.) So I get up and get Samuel, he's completely soaked. So I grab some pajamas.... the ones that you have to fit over the head, not zip ups or button ups... what the heck was I thinking?! So I bring him into our room, get him out of his wet clothes, change his diaper and then the wrestling begins. He might be small but he sure is feisty. Over the head (he's yelling), one arm in, (he's screaming), and then I can't even get his legs in because he's rolling around so much. I'm so tired I can't even think straight and I'm attempting this in the dark. At this point it's 3:46 in the morning. Finally Samuel has his pajamas on and I put him back to bed (with a blanket covering the wet spot)... aaaah. (so I think).... Where did the wild moose come from? There is a loud noise in the room. Libby stares at me with wide eyes. "Honey, it's just papa snoring, try to get some sleep." Ha ha, if it were only that easy. The moose goes on. After pushing, shoving and kicking, he wakes up and I explain that he's snoring loudly. this repeats itself 3 times and then he gets up and leaves the room. Libby and I fall asleep exhausted. Every now and then I hear a "mama, mama" and see two eyes staring at me... but I roll over and fall asleep. Oh the blessings of 3 a.m.