February 27, 2011

Christmas Pajamas

Here are the boys in their Christmas pajamas. As you may or may not remember, Christmas day at our house this year didn't allow for much picture-taking.

Christmas pajamas . . . 2 months late

Better late than never, right?

February 24, 2011

Taking off my cranky pants

I'm headed to a $2000 dentist appointment in a little bit. At my check up last month, there was nothing wrong. Today? "SURPRISE! We need you to pay us $2000."

Our grand total of unexpected expenses for 2011 is at almost half of my annual salary. By the way, it's only February. Also, we're still down one car.

I want to complain. I so badly want to whine about how awful this is, but as much as I try not to, my mind keeps taking me back to how fortunate I am. Well, fortunate and in debt. But fortunate, nonetheless.

I don't want to feel that way. I want to stomp and throw a tantrum, much like Jack does when things don't go his way. I don't want to count my blessings . . . I want to stress out. And in all honesty, I've done a little bit of that today. But there's something that keeps cutting into my self-pity and stressing.

I've been more intentional about reading my Bible this month (I'm trying to do the New thru 30 reading plan . . . though it'll likely end up being New thru 90 at the rate I'm going).
In Hebrews, the author says, "For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

That's not just good writing. It's truth and I've seen the evidence over the last few weeks. When I'm reading the Bible regularly, it sticks with me. The words are life giving and bring perspective. I absorb them and they become a part of who I am. Whether I obey them or not . . . well, that's still my decision . . . but their transforming work begins even without my permission.

I just keep remembering that I'm a part of something way larger than myself. My mind goes back to the fact that there's a bigger story at play, and while I need to be responsible with my finances, how much money I have is ultimately not the point. Comfort is not the point. Retiring to someplace warm some day would be nice . . . but it's also not the point.

Let's face it . . . in the grand scheme of things, we're already pretty darn comfortable. We have a home that we love. A car that is way more than enough to get us where we need to go. We have access to medical and dental care. This massive infection in my mouth? It'll be gone in a few hours. Kyle's kidney stones? Almost gone, with both kidneys still functioning. Both of my boys are healthy and breathing clearly. Our refrigerator is full and our heat is on. We have so much more than we need. Even if none of the above were true, I could still tell of abundant blessings.

I kind feel like laying in bed crying and feeling sorry for myself, but my mind and my heart won't let me do it . . . because I can't even remember why I was complaining in the first place.

February 19, 2011

More of this . . .

Technically speaking, this picture isn't all that remarkable.

Emotionally speaking, it's the best picture I've taken all month.

February 2011

We've been seeing a lot more of this at our house. Laughing together. Playing together. Brotherly love. Granted, with it comes more fighting, hitting and shoving, but we're working through it.

I'm certain this brotherly love will also lead to more mischief and scheming. Earlier this week, I found the two of them at the top of the basement stairs with a couch cushion perched precariously at the top. When I asked what they were doing, Jack replied, "Sledding."

Oh, sure . . . sledding down the stairs on a couch cushion? No problem. Later I'll give you a pair of scissors to run with and a book of matches to play with.

They play games that I don't understand. They laugh at jokes that I don't get. They race in circles around the house and Bennett doesn't care yet that Jack is always the winner. They're bonding, and that makes me happy.

February, 2011

Jack's imagination, much like any three-year old's imagination, is CRAZY right now. He makes up these scenarios and stories and acts them out. He regularly asks if I can come watch the football or baseball games he's playing with all of his friends in the living room.

He's also become quite the negotiator. I know that whenever he says, "Mom, I really like your hair today" or "That's a great shirt" or "I love you so much, Mom" that he's getting ready to ask for something . . . usually to watch a show.

Bennett tries to repeat everything that we say, sometimes successfully. I heard him use his first two-word phrase this wee:"ree book?" In case you don't speak baby, the translation is: "Read a book?"

Ben's also trying to take the stairs like a big boy, which scares me. He's so much faster and it's so much safer when he crawls down, but I don't want to prevent him from trying something that he's ready to do. So every trip up and down stairs is a little bit longer.

It's trite, but true . . . they're growing up so fast.

February 16, 2011

The big 1-0-0-0

It's only 47 degrees outside, but it feels like 75 degrees to my soul.

This week of warmer weather was exactly what I needed. I realize that snow is predicted for next week and the high a week from today will only be 24, but that's okay because tomorrow we're going to make dinner on the grill. I feel like after this week, I can make it to spring.

Yesterday I realized that I missed acknowledging my 1000th blog post a few weeks ago. So . . . I guess that's what I'm doing now. I've posted more than 1000 times in my 4 years of blogging. You're welcome.

I also just noticed that I never posted a fourth annual "best of" like I normally do during the first week of January. So, here you go . . . the best of 2010:













If you're looking for more reading material, you could check out the best of 2007, the best of 2008 and the best of 2009. You can thank me later.

February 13, 2011


A few more sledding pictures from the first week of January . . .

January, 2011

January, 2011

January, 2011

February 12, 2011

Dear Jack, Months 43 & 44

Dear Jack,

This letter is late, so I'm combining January and February into one. It's not that I haven't had anything to write. This has weighed so heavy on my heart that it's just now that I'm able to find the words.

Let me back up and tell you about your obsession with strangers. About a year ago, you started to become fascinated with people you don't know. Not really with the actual people as much as the fact that there are millions of individuals that don't know you, have no relationship with you and live their own lives completely separate from you. The first time we told you that you weren't supposed to talk to strangers or follow a stranger, unless you were with someone you knew, it opened up a whole new world of questions.

"Are they strangers?"

"What do strangers do?"

"Do strangers like onions?"

"Do strangers have moms and dads?"

January, 2011

You haven't asked much about strangers in the last few months, but every so often you'll ask someone in the check-out line or you'll stick your head under the bathroom stall partition while I'm changing your brother's diaper to ask if they're a stranger or not (so not kidding about this one . . . that lady is now much less of a stranger than she wants to be).

We've done a great job in teaching you that unless you're with an adult that you know, you aren't to speak to people you don't know. If there were a handbook for parenting, surely that would be on the "List of Important Things to Teach Your Children." Well, that and teaching your child not to poke his head under bathroom stall partitions.

Phone call with Dad

Recently, I've felt the need to amend that rule. A few weeks ago, an acquaintance of ours died in a household accident. I won't go into details, but it was sudden, and the details surrounding the accident and his life made it even more heartbreaking.

To say were were "acquaintances" is probably generous. Your dad had spoken to him several times while doing yard work. After one of the first few times dad had contact with him, I felt convicted about getting to know him better. He told dad about some of the things his family had been through, and I was shocked that we had lived near him or six years and knew none of it.

We felt God compelling us to get to know him better. But we had lots of excuses. "It'll be easier in the spring . . . we're too busy in the summer . . . he probably doesn't have any interest in knowing us, anyway."

And then one morning, he was gone.

I don't know if we would have made any difference in his life, or if he would have even accepted a chance to know us better. I don't know if we would have had the opportunity to show him how much we need Jesus, or if we would have even been able to just share a meal with him. What I do know is that God spoke, and we ignored it. We were disobedient.

January, 2011

It's uncomfortable to share this with you, but I have to. I've spent time teaching you not to talk to strangers, but I also want to teach you to TALK TO STRANGERS. People don't learn to know and love Jesus by us just telling them. They learn by watching us know him and love him. They don't need us to talk to them about how much Jesus will change their lives. They need to see how much He's changed ours. We can quote scripture and hand out pamphlets and pray for people all we want, but God uses our relationships with others most powerfully in drawing people to Him. And when we ignore him . . . when we're disobedient . . . it's sin. Plain and simple.

Phone call with Dad

Too few Christians know how to have a non-awkward conversation about Jesus' work in their lives. One of my parenting goals is for you and Bennett to know how to share what Jesus has done for you in a natural way. Your preschool teacher told me that you were sharing about what you had learned in Sunday School with your class one day, and it made me feel like we're heading in the right direction.

And honestly, this is about more than just evangelism. It's about obedience to God. It's about feeling his nudge and following through, rather than making excuses.

January, 2011

So should you or shouldn't you talk to strangers? Until you're old enough, you'll just have to ask me first.

But always, always wait until after they're out of the bathroom stall.


February 6, 2011

Avoiding the "Tilt & Nod"

I just spent 30 minutes composing a post about how I've been feeling the last two weeks, but deleted it. I just can't find the right words, and it would have depressed anyone who read it. And, I definitely would have gotten the "sympathetic head tilt and nod" the next I saw you. I hate the tilt and nod.

In short, I feel like winter is sitting on my chest and bouncing up and down in an effort to knock the wind out of me. Spring cannot come too quickly.

Instead of depressing you further, I'll share this little gem from after we took Jack sledding shortly after Christmas. It's the ultimate in hat hair.

Hat hair