Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas Book Give-Away Today!

Today, on my Children's Book Quote of the Day blog, I'm giving away one of my favorite Christmas books! This would make a great gift for any adult or child on your list ;)

You have until midnight tomorrow night to enter. Good luck!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Woman Who Lived In Her Shoes

There once was a woman who lived in her shoes
Feet ready to find something useful to do
Every hour of every day
She toiled and spun and slaved away
Packing kids' lunches and making their beds
"I am a good mother" is what she said.
With calloused heels and painful pinched toes
Her feet were swollen with motherly woes
"I hope they appreciate all that I do,"
Said the old young woman who lived in her shoes.

There was a young woman who woke with a sigh
A dimpled cheek and a twinkling eye
She laughed at laundry, the dishes, the kitchen floor
She said, "Sunny days are not meant for chores!"
So she walked out to feel grass under her feet
And rolled a big ball with a baby so sweet
She smiled at the sun as it kissed her face
And wrapped her babies in a playful embrace
The sounds of gay laughter so filled her head
That she never could hear what the neighbors said
And though her scrapbooks were never done
Her memory was full of days spent in the sun.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The magic duck video

Again, I don't know why it works. But it works.


The above video is one of the ones I've found to babysit Benjamin for me when I want to take a shower. It is hilarious--he marches around the living room clapping and stomping and shouting, "Amen!" Larnelle Harris, you are a great babysitter. We will be downloading this song for emergency use on road trips.

The other video I regularly use for either babysitting Benjamin or cheering him up if we wakes up grumpy is the duck video. I really don't know how I discovered that watching a mother duck lead her babies around would calm him, but it's worked for a while now. I don't argue with what works.

For the average reader of my blog, I don't expect you to want to watch these videos. They are neither one the highest quality or the most entertaining. But, if you're a mama at the end of her rope, I offer these two baby sitters in hopes that they help you as they've helped me.

Okay, I can't upload the duck video in this post, so I'm posting it in another.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My litte pumpkin...

My little pumpkin is growing big. These two pictures are from this October.

And these two are from October 2009. Back when he was a little baby.

My goodness, how time gets away from you when a little pumpkin is growing before your eyes! He was so much fun last fall, but he is so much more fun this fall. I hope you don't mind a post all about what my boy does these days...
Every morning, he literally hits the ground running. We put some books or toys in his crib every night so that he can entertain himself when he wakes up in the morning. He is a morning person, bless his heart, in a night owl nest. So he sits in there and plays in his crib for about forty-five minutes every morning before Jon gets up and gets him out of bed. As soon as his diaper is changed and Jon sets his feet on the ground, I hear him running as fast as his toddler legs will carry him all through the house. Sometimes to the toys first and sometimes to the kitchen. Eventually, he makes his way to my bedroom where he runs up to my pillow-pressed face and shouts, "Boo!" Sometimes followed by a sweet, "Hi." And a sloppy kiss. The best way to wake up, even for a non-morning person.
I'm going to categorize this whole section "Things Benjamin Says," but it won't be exhaustive. He says more words, phrases, and even whole sentences every day. I can no longer keep up. But here's a sampling:
He asks for Goodnight Moon this way, "Nigh, Moo--Moon!" In the book he can name the "light," the "bears" and their "chairs," the "cow" (with two syllables, like cow-wuh), the balloon "loon," the "hush," the "mouse" and the "house." He loves that book.
He also asks for "Gossie." The books are Gossie and Gossie And Gertie. He will "read" these to himself for a long time, saying Gossie's name and pointing and laughing at many pages.
Benjamin names the following animals: Giraffe "raff," elephant "le-FUNT," dog is still "woof woof," cat is "m-YOW," goose, duck, bear and moose all clear as a bell, and lion "yun." Oh, and birds, but only and always in the plural. There's never just one bird. He has picked up on insects such as flies and flees because of the songs we sing at library story time. He calls butterflies "butt-fyes."
Benjamin says "Pweeze" and "Tate-oo" (please and thank you) but only because we prompt him to almost every time. The only time he volunteers these social graces is when brownies or cookies are in sight. Then he can twinkle those blue eyes and say the prettiest "puh-weeeeze" you ever heard in your life. It's pretty irresistable. The grandmothers cave every time. He can also say "bwownie," "cookie," "crackah," "cheese," "wice," and "eggs." Eggs also has two syllables, in case you were wondering. He used to call cheerios "cheer-cheers" but they've recently been called "choes" pretty frequently. But so far, my favorite food word is "chichin." I sometimes feed him chicken just to hear him say it. He is also very fond of "getty" but it's pretty messy. He says the names of most foods, actually, and if he can't get the word out he'll just say, "food!" The boy likes to eat.
Okay, that's probably enough of what Benjamin says, but I just never get enough. Even now I'm resisting the urge to tell you some other words. But let me tell you some things he does.
He helps me pick up pecans. He likes to color and always wants me to write his name. "Name, pweeze. Mama, name." Over and over and over. He is extremely ticklish. He likes to hide behind the shower curtain, the couch, a blanket, a chair, etc. and jump out with a "Boo!" He giggles while he's hiding and laughs hysterically when he pops out. He likes to climb up on my back and demand a "rye" or ride. When I'm in the shower, he watches his "mew-mee," a Baby Einstien movie or "The Little Mermaid." (I know I should not do it, but if I don't have a shower I'm a bear.) He likes to sing and dance. He thinks every number is the number 8. He'll point to other kids' shirts that have numbers like 1 or 7 and proudly say, "Eight!" He can count to three but he almost always skips the number one. He loves to cuddle and rock. He lovesto go outside.
At bedtime he prefers to turn off the light himself, he reaches for "George" (Curious George), kisses mommy and daddy and says, "Night, night."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Deborah's Dream Continued

After Jacob's Well closed, Jon, Shanna and I continued to do youth ministry with a handful of the teenagers that had been a part of the Well, but it was no longer a full-time gig. We all had jobs and Shanna and Jon had school. We had all been devastated by the loss of the ministry we believed in. I was in a state of total confusion and hidden depression.

I believe God prepared me to come face to face with the sin that broke up our ministry by prompting me to read a book called What's So Amazing About Grace? only months before. The extravagant grace and forgiveness of God was at the forefront of my mind at that time, so I was able to extend His grace to others without much hesitation. But my theology was so immature, my heart so young, that I unknowingly sought to place blame somewhere else. I started to make excuses for the perpetrator to make it easier for me to forgive him. I blamed his parents for the way they raised him, his lack of formal ministry training, and most of all the demands of ministry itself and the tole they take on the minister's life. Somehow, in my immaturity and grief, I began to blame and fear ministry: the hours away from family, the constant demands on a person's time and emotional resources, the stress of working so hard for such small pay. My boyfriend was a Bible major and I began to fear being married to a minister. I worried constantly over this, especially after we became engaged. When he finally decided that he wanted to own and operate a business, I couldn't have been more relieved.

Meanwhile, I served half-heartedly in the church, teaching teenagers on Wednesday evenings and occasionally planning weekend events. Every once in a while I would get an itch to do something really good with the ministry. I would read something in my own Bible study that I couldn't help but share and I'd find a way to share it in a spectacular way. I truly enjoyed those times and those lessons, but they are overshadowed by the years of lackluster service. I regret this more than probably anything in my life, but I accept the grace and forgiveness of Jesus Christ over the accusations of the enemy.

It didn't take me long to figure out that youth ministry wasn't really my calling, but I just couldn't find a way to quit. Even when I finally birthed the golden excuse, Benjamin, and stopped doing youth ministry I was plagued by the guilt of having wasted years to a fruitless task. I wept over the young people I should have done more with and didn't and I felt that if they had had a different youth minister maybe they would have made different choices, choices that kept them close to Jesus in their daily walks.

But then, in the midst of my inadequacy and grief, God did something wonderful. It started with Beth Moore's Breaking Free, a study I had taken before. This time I got serious about it. I had been in women's group at church on a night when Pastor D'Linn looked me in the eye and said, "You are a pastor." It scared me to death. But I thought, D'Linn would never make that up. She would not want to say that to me. It must be from the Lord. And if I am called to minister, I need to find out how and where I am supposed to do it. I need to do it without fear. I need to do it in a God-honoring, fruit-bearing way. And I have got to figure out what is wrong with me so I don't pass on this bondage to my son. So I took the study seriously. I worked through it and God worked in me.

He revealed to me my fear of ministry and the root of it. He showed me the folly in it. And while I was breaking free from the bondage of fear, He was growing in me a desire to minister to women in my season of life--mothers of preschoolers. He was showing me that I had real talent for women's ministry all along. In women's group, when our teacher would talk about how women really don't like other women a lot of times because of the many ways they hurt each other, lots of women in the room would nod in agreement. I would hear testimonies of how they overcame their fear and distrust of other women to serve along side each other in the church. But I couldn't identify with them because I have always loved women, all ages of women. I crave girl time and girl talk. And I can decorate a table and serve a meal in a way that makes them feel special. I can pull devotional material out of chick flicks and novels. I realized, I was called to women's ministry all along. But I was still a little scared. Would God trust me with ministry of any kind after I gave practically nothing to the last one He put me in?

Then I started another short Bible study on the book of Revelation. In it, Beth Moore challenged us to pray each week for God to reveal Himself to us, to speak to us directly. And He did! One night, in women's group, we were singing a song that has always touched me even though it's not the best tune. The words are:
I went to the enemy's camp
And I took back what he stole from me
I took back what he stole from me
I took back what he stole from me
He's under my feet. (x4)
Satan is under my feet.
Can you believe what the Lord has done for me? (x2)
He blessed me, saved me, turned my life around,
Set my feet upon the solid ground.
Can you believe what the Lord has done for me?
Look what the Lord has done. (x2)
He healed my body. He touched my mind.
He saved me just in time.
Oh, I'm gonna praise His name.
Each day He's just the same.
Go on and praise Him.
Look what the Lord has done.
I admit that the reason this song has always touched me is that I would look around at the people in my church and be overwhelmed by what God had done for them. When we would sing the part "Look what the Lord has done," I would look around at recovered drug addicts and alcoholics and smile through my tears, thankful that the Lord had saved them. I never looked at myself.
But when we were singing it that night, and the prayer for revelation was still warm on my lips, God turned my eyes to myself for a moment and then dazzlingly to HIMSELF. He reminded me of a dream my friend Deborah had told me six years earlier. And He reminded me of a time only a year or so ago when my mom told me she had had a dream with a car in it. She learned that often cars in dreams symbolize a person's ministry. I can see Deborah's dream as vividly as if I had dreamed it myself and the Lord has made it so.
The enemy came in the night and took the insides out of my ministry. Only the outer shell remained. It had no engine to move it forward, no seats to accommodate passengers, no steering wheel to guide it. But the enemy was chased down, forced to return everything he stole piece by piece. And more. Jesus is faithful to turn a broken down heap of junk minister into someone who can go far with Him. This time, not only will the car work, but I will have more to work with--the lessons like an anti-theft device, discernment that will send off an alarm when the thief jiggles at the handles. I am beginning slowly and gathering steam, but I am not afraid. Satan should be afraid of my God. Just look what the Lord has done!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

I am Clark Kent

I have glasses. I've had them for years, but I only wear them when I'm driving at night. I probably should wear them all the time, but I haven't had my prescription renewed since Jon and I got married six years ago. So I only wear them when it would be dangerous not to, like when driving at night. Anyway, all of this to say that Benjamin has rarely seen me wear my glasses.

Last Wednesday, when I got to my parents' house to pick him up after Bible study, I walked in with my glasses on my face. Benjamin ran to me when I came in, I picked him up and we hugged. But when he leaned back to really look at me, a most curious expression crossed his face. He frowned. He furrowed his eyebrows. Then he went to my dad. He scowled at me from my dad's arms. When I spoke, his expression softened but still looked confused. Finally, I took the glasses off and he grinned and came back to me as if to say, "Oh, okay, you are my mommy."

Last night, same thing. I came in with glasses on. He stayed where he was and just stared at me like I was a stranger. I took the glasses off. He smiled his lovey mommy smile and gave me a kiss.

By day, Super Mommy. By night, mild mannered Bible study student.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Testimony Part 3: Deborah's Dream

I've been putting off writing about this because I just don't know how to tell the first part of the story. I've stayed awake tossing and turning and tugging on sheets trying to work out what to say and how, but I still don't know. So I'm just going to begin by giving you the basic background facts without any of the commentary I've thought of adding.

The facts: I worked as the girls' ministry director for a ministry called Jacob's Well. This ministry for teenagers was under the missions department umbrella of a sizeable church. The people that I worked with were my closest friends at the time--we spent not only work hours, but many other hours together every week. Three of those people were members of the same family. One of them did something that destroyed the whole ministry and that family. Nobody ever told me exactly what happened--I had to piece it together later and I felt betrayed by being so close to the situation and yet knowing so little. I lost my job, a ministry I believed in, and several of my closest friends in one week. The founding church (a good church, still) handled this very badly. They shut down the ministry and quickly replaced it with something else, hiring all new people and hushing up the sin and its ramifications. I and a couple of other people who had been involved with the ministry did our best to carry on at a much smaller church that opened its arms to the kids we were working with. But the ministry was now on a volunteer basis, with no funding, and we were never given counseling to deal with what we had been through. I was only twenty years old. I spent the next seven years doing ministry grudgingly and by habit, withholding my heart to protect it, never speaking of what happened even to the others who were just as devastated as I was.

Okay, now that that is out of the way, I can tell you the good part. Weeks after Jacob's Well closed, I went to visit a friend in a town about three hours away for the weekend. Just to escape the emotional rollercoaster that my life had become. Deborah was working as a nanny, living in a luxurious house and serving the Lord with joy. The family was out of town for the weekend so I went to stay with her in their home. She knew kind of the bare bones of what had happened. I remember sleeping so well that first night in a bed that felt like a really nice hotel bed, with a friend beside me who was so filled with the Spirit she just exuded it. When we woke up in the morning, Deborah told me the dream she had had in the night.

She said she had gone outside to her car to find that the entire inside of the car had been stripped--seats, steering wheel, engine--only the shell of the car remained. As she stood there she saw one of her Christian brothers chasing the man who had stolen the insides of her car. He tackled the thief to the ground and said commandingly, "You will return everything that you have stolen and more!"

Deborah told me she felt like she was supposed to share that dream with me,to encourage me. And it did encourage me for a time. I knew that God could make something good out of a terrible situation. I believed wholeheartedly in His grace and mercy for the person I had worked with who had done something so wrong. I believed He would give me a new job, which He did. And everytime good things would happen to me (new job, something going well at church, getting engaged, getting married), I would remember Deborah's dream and think that the enemy was somehow losing ground. But he, the enemy, still held so much of my life captive and I didn't even realize it. My ministry with the youth at church was so stagnant, I no longer raised my hands in worship or prayed out loud, and I lived in terror that my Bible-major-fiancee would want to go into full-time ministry. Somehow I started blaming vocational ministry for the demise of my friend's family instead of just seeing it as the result of sin that is just crouching at the door, waiting to devour.

I don't think I can write anymore tonight. I will try to finish this tomorrow. But I will tell you that it ends very well. This is a heavy post, but tomorrow's will not be. Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning...

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Give Away

Today I am giving away a couple of favorite children's books on my Children's Book Quote of the Day blog. Head on over there for a chance to win:

Friday, August 6, 2010

Testimony Part 2: Waters

This is not a chronological testimony. I just think you'd be bored to tears with that. I am just starting to really grasp what a testimony really is; I am just beginning to see how God weaves interactions and experiences together into revelation. He reveals Himself to me. He reveals Himself through me. Anyway, here is part two.

I was probably ten or eleven years old, floating in the surf of the Gulf of Mexico on an inflatable raft. It was just before dusk; the South Padre Island crowd was thinning and I was just enjoying the sounds of the waves as I drifted in the cool salty water. I looked up on the shore and saw my grandparents sitting in their beach chairs. Mumsie was reading while her toes drew arches in the sand. Pops was looking out to sea and spitting sunflower seed shells over his shoulder. Suddenly, I realized that there would come a day when they weren't sitting there; someday, like other grandparents, they would be gone. Tears slipped down my cheeks and joined the salty water that enveloped me. I couldn't stand the thought of it.

Loss has always been my biggest fear.

Mumsie passed away when I was eighteen. Once again sorrow crashed over me in waves that I could hardly stand. I choked on the bitterness of those waters. I had never lost anyone before that. I had never really experienced death. I don't even think I had ever been to a funeral. For several months after she died I walked in rebellion to the Lord. I stayed semi-close to Him and to His people, but I withheld my heart. I went to regular prayer meetings at a friend's house but merely slept in the corner or journaled my struggles while everyone prayed around me. I felt foolish for how hard it was for me to get past this first loss. After all, it is natural for grandparents to die; almost everyone I knew had lost at least one. They weren't behaving the way I was behaving. Finally, in a series of embarrassing encounters, friends helped me snap out of it. I renewed my friendship with Christ and started behaving like a person worthy of His call. He started using me again. But in the depths of my own ocean I still feared loss.

The next big loss was not a person but a ministry. I handled it the best way I knew how to at the time. I was young and completely unprepared for the fallout. I will reserve that story for another testimony installment. For now, I will simply say that I again withheld my heart. The power of loss still held me captive in many ways.

If you've read this blog or known me at all, you know the third loss well. April Baby. It was my greatest fear and it came to pass. I do not need to tell you again how it hurt to lose a life that had been in my own womb. I do not think it bears repeating now because it is not necessary for the testimony. I only bring it up at all because God did amazing things with me through that experience. He showed me that I could survive my greatest fear. He held me fast and showed up for me in ways I couldn't have imagined as I held tightly to Him. That was the difference--I held to Him. Only days before, I had heard a teaching by Beth Moore in which she taught us the prayer for times of trauma: "God, if you do not show up, we will not survive." I prayed it while I was still in the exam room. I prayed it into a pile of tissues that covered both my bed and the floor. I prayed it until my throat was sore and then Jon prayed it. And God showed up. He held me and I clung to Him and though I grieved, I feared loss less at the end of it than I had at the beginning. I cannot read the following without tears of gratitude in my eyes and goosebumps raised on my arm, the verse He gave to me in my greatest loss: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

My testimony stands today. It is true. It is true. The waters were deep but I did not drown. Thank you, Jesus. I praise your Name!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Word of Testimony

Okay, I have been feeling like I should share my testimony on this blog. I don't know why or for whom. Maybe just for my own benefit. I do know that there is one who is accusing the faithful of God day and night, trying every trick he can to wear us out and that we are told in Revelation 12:11 "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." And if the word of my testimony will hurl that accuser down, who am I to shrink from speaking it? So, in it's rawest form, here it goes.

I always thought my testimony was boring. I grew up in a city that routinely makes the top three list of churches per capita, a place where it was not only cool to be a Christian, but uncool not to be. I went to a mid-sized Baptist church every Sunday and every Wednesday from birth, Vacation Bible School every summer, and GAs (Girls in Action--to train girls in missions). I know you're already bored and I haven't even told you that I accepted the Lord at the age of nine at VBS and was baptized at the age of 13, about the same time my family started attending a larger baptist church and I got involved in the youth group. I wore a "promise ring," which is a silver James Avery ring with a cross cutout worn on the wedding finger as a reminder to save yourself for marriage. I went to "See You At The Pole" and decided it wasn't enough to pray once a year at school. I got a group of friends together and we prayed every day in a chemistry teacher's classroom before school. In high school I attended a weekly college/high school worship service/teaching called Grace Bible Study on Thursday nights. It was easy to be a good girl. It was easy to do the right thing. Today I am grateful for this boring growing up.

Last night, after writing the above and saving it as a draft, I just couldn't stop feeling that this is not the testimony I am meant to share. It is true, it is the traditional way to start one, and it is boring. But it is not what sends the enemy packing. As I was falling asleep, I felt like God brought to my mind the image of our family's Christmas stockings. (Bear with me.) Our stockings are my favorite part of the Christmas decorations at my parents' home. They are all lovingly hand-crocheted in various reds, greens and whites. My great-grandmother crocheted the first several and my mom took over additional family members' stockings over the years. On Christmas morning, they are to be found bulging with gifts--a wonderful mixture of the sweet but useless, treasured heirlooms passed down, things that someone found "just for so-and-so," and the very practical. If you were to open my stocking, for example, on Christmas morning you would probably find lots of candy, a few pens and sticky-note pads, a book or two from my Amazon wishlist, something that used to belong to my grandmother that my mom or Aunt Connie is now handing down to me, good-smelling hand lotions, chapstick, razors and toothpaste, a scratch-off lottery ticket, and a pocketknife or small kitchen utensil. Obviously, all of this does not fit into the stocking neatly. The stockings are all bulging with little treats, sitting atop stacks of bigger treats, leaned against chairs or couches or the fireplace.

Like I said, I could not get the image of our Christmas stocking out of my mind last night. I believe that God means it for a picture of the things my family gave me. For the most part, it's been good stuff. I was handed down a Christian heritage and many wonderful traits from the godly family members that came before me. People who had/have hearts for worship and prayer and teaching and service. Some of these things have been gifted to me like priceless heirlooms lovingly wrapped and opened with tears of gratitude. Some things my family has given me have been as useful as razors and kitchen utensils and pocket knives--qualities and words of advice that have made life easier when I've remembered to use them. Other things had the potential, like pens and sticky notes and cash, to be used for either good or not-so-good ends. I could choose what I did with these gifts, making them a blessing or a curse by my own decisions. And others have been temptations, like so many Hershey Kisses, that I've had to walk away from with will power and resolve lest I become rotten-toothed and fattened by indulging in the sins of my forebears.

Isn't this true of everyone? We all receive both good and bad gifts from our families. I'm so thankful that mine was more good than bad. But the bad does have to be done away with in its time, and unfortunately, in a sea of so much good it can hide longer than it ought to. As I share my testimony in these posts, you'll see how I have had to deal with the fears and worries, the gluttony and the control, the gossip and the judgement that have been given (so unknowingly) to me by the family members who came before me. And I hope you'll see how "worth it" I am beginning to feel that it is to not pass these down to Benjamin. I want his testimony to be so much more boring than mine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

I just thought I'd use this Benjamin nap time (yes, we finally got the hang of a regular, in his crib, nap time!) to update anyone who may still be reading this blog. I find it harder and harder to find time to write now that Benjamin want to "help" me anytime he sees me typing. By the way, if you ever receive any nonsensical text messages, facebook messages, or emails from me you should know that it's Benjamin saying hi.
We have had a wonderful July. We made the long drive to Illinois early in the month to visit Jon's grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins there. While there we also got to see his sister Beth and her family (their son Jackson is one week younger than Benjamin!). We rarely get to see them since they live super busy lives in North Carolina. Our Abilene family members also made the trip. It was great to have the whole clan together for a couple of days. It was a fast but wonderful trip. We didn't even mind the long drive that much. In fact, Benjamin took that opportunity to graduate from his rearfacing carseat to frontfacing. He loves facing forward so much! Every few minutes he would wave to us in the front seat, just so happy to be able to see us.
When we were driving through Tulsa on our way home from Illinois, my sister called in the midst of her first labor contraction! The next afternoon, my nephew, Ryder, made his debut into the world! He is a big boy (8lb, 10oz) and Whitney had a rough time delivering him, but everybody is healthy and happy now! He is really a handsome little thing and just as sweet as a chocolate covered strawberry. I am his favorite aunt. In a few weeks, when Whitney goes back to work, Ryder will be spending his days over hear with Benjamin and me. It will be nice to have a little baby around, but pray for Benjamin and I to adjust well to the new schedule and routine.
I have also been getting more involved in my local MOPS group and will be serving on the steering team for this next year. I am already looking forward to it so much. MOPS really saved my life in my first year of motherhood. I was so lonely and scared before I found other Christian moms to encourage me and to encourage in turn. I'm so happy to be able to give back this year.
Jon, Benjamin, and I have made a few other short road trips this month to the Dallas/Ft. Worth area. I spent a wonderful girls' night in Corinth with Shanna, Shasta, Shanara, Micah, and Jamie then met Jon and Benjamin in Ft. Worth to surprise our good friend Brent on his last day as a first year medical student. We had a great lunch with Brent and his wife Jordan, and Shanna at a mediterranean grill. It was a great time of encouragement. Then, just this past weekend, we made the daytrip to Mesquite for Jon's cousin Lauren's wedding.
He's waking up. I'll have to update more later.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heartbeat Day

Two years ago today we heard Benjamin's heartbeat for the first time! It was our second ultrasound in one week and I was just desperate to hear that quick little pulse. I don't think I'll ever forget that moment. I had prayed that he would have a strong early heartbeat, and that God would give him a heart to know Jesus. I'm not going to write a lot about this because I don't have a lot of time to get emotional today.

Tonight, to celebrate, we will have something heart-shaped for dessert. Probably brownies. I think this will be even more fun in years to come when Benjamin can understand why we eat heart-shaped food every year on July 7. I want him to be confident that we loved him from the very first moment and that his life is something to celebrate.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Not the nanny

My mom got us a jogging stroller this weekend (nearly new at a garage sale: $30!!!) so Benjamin and I decided to try it out this morning. When I wheeled it out to the car, I thought, "I may never get it folded up to put in the car!" But, to my surprise, it folded up easily...with one hand! I think only a mother can appreciate how happy that made me.

On the way to ACU, I realized that I forgot my cell phone with which to call the friend I usually walk with. So it was just the two of us--Benjamin and me. The new stroller was smooth as butter and Benjamin was asleep before I had walked a quarter of a mile. The path was especially lovely today, fragrant with the blossoms of various trees, and breezy in the ample shade. When we passed the fountain lake (just a big pond with a fountain, but just wonderful), a wonderful cool breeze off of the water reminded me forcibly of summers at the beach as a child. I closed my eyes and imagined I was standing with my feet in the surf, breathing in the fresh ocean air. My heart was so full. When I breathed out, it was with a prayer of thanks. With every blossomy tree I passed, I thought of the poem I've loved since high school: There are days we live as if death were nowhere in the background/From blossom to blossom to sweet impossible blossom. When we neared the car at the end of two miles, it was getting too hot to continue for another two but Benjamin was still asleep. So I stopped in the shade and drank water while the wind rocked the stroller and showered us with tiny crepe myrtle flowers.

When I saw Benjamin starting to stir, I pushed the stroller the rest of the way to the car and turned it on to get the air conditioner running. By now it was really very hot out. I strapped him in the carseat and gave him a box of raisins. Then I went to fold up the stroller. I pulled on the handle. Nothing happend. I stepped on the lever. Nothing happened. I pulled and stepped simultaneously. Nothing happened. I started to sweat in earnest. I tugged and pulled and pushed and scratched my head and held my tongue just so. But still, the stroller didn't budge. At one point I managed to get it folded about a fourth of the way and tried to stuff it in the car that way, but it wouldn't fit. I dragged it back down to the concrete and started over. I don't know how long I fought with that stroller before I swallowed the giant lump of my pride and waved over some mamas who were walking the path with their children. "Do either of you know how to fold a jogging stroller?" I begged. They didn't know but offered to try. The three of us tugged and examined and pulled and pushed and stepped.

Then one of the ladies looked up at me and said, "Are you the nanny? They didn't tell you how to do it?"

No, I'm not the nanny. I'm the mommy. The mommy who has no idea what she's doing. I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. "It's a new stroller," I said. "I haven't used it before." They understood. They had been there too. Although they had fought with strollers in their own garages, not in university parking lots. I told them how it had folded up so handily just an hour ago. Then I took a deep breath and gave it one last best try.

It folded up easily. With one hand and one foot.

The three of us cheered. Benjamin was almost finished with his raisins. The other ladies' children were rolling up on their skate boards to say that they wanted to go watch the football players now, that they had promised they could watch the football players. We all sighed and smiled and understood each other.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Third Little Goodbye

Motherhood is made up of many little goodbyes. Today marks our third.

The first little goodbye was when he left my womb. We had been inseparable for nine months and I knew his every little move, gloried in his kicks, rolls and stretches. He heard my steady, slow heartbeat as his constant lullaby and I revelled in the times when I could hear his rapid, growing heartbeat through a monitor at the doctor's office. Then he was born in a wonderful "Hello world!" that was also a "Goodbye sweet womb." The first little goodbye.

The next little goodbye was when he moved into his own crib. When we brought him home from the hospital, he slept feet from me in a beautiful round bassinet. If he wimpered in his sleep, I heard and answered. If he scooted over, I saw and marvelled. If he wiggled his feet out of his swaddling, I giggled and snapped a picture. But he grew too big for the bassinet and, at two months, we moved him into his crib in the room just down the hall. He sleeps better there. So do we. But it was the second little goodbye.

And, now, with tears filling my eyes I will tell you about the third little goodbye. When he was two days old, my milk came in. We worked hard those first few days to learn the beautiful rhythm of nursing. I would stroke his jaw with my finger until he opened his mouth wide as a baby bird's beak, then we would connect in a wonderful bond of mother and baby. He would drink as his eyes rolled back in his head and I would just watch him. At first, it seemed to take him forever to complete a feeding. I would read memoirs of other mothers, check email, blog, or write thank-you notes while he nursed, balancing his tiny body on the nursing pillow. Then, as he grew bigger, he also nursed faster and wiggled around more. He would open his astonishingly blue eyes wide and look at me while he nursed, then pull away and smile with a satisfied sigh that drew a proud smile from my own lips. For a while, he even had a little white milk-blister right in the middle of his top lip. After a time, we learned our favorite nursing position--side-lying. If he woke in the night, Jon would bring him to me in our bed and he would lay beside me, tummy to tummy, and nurse until he was finished. I could just lie in the dark, listening to the quiet gulping and feeling his warm baby skin against me. Sometimes I'd doze in and out of sleep. When he finished, I'd carry him back to his own crib where he'd stretch and roll over to his tummy to dream sweetly. At bedtime, I'd nurse him in the rocking chair that was Mumsie's and mom's and now mine. I'd nurse and Jon would pray over us. Then I'd carry Benjamin to his crib and lay him down with a kiss on the cheek. Last night, at 8:22pm, we did this for the last time. When he woke up this morning at 6:00am, instead of bringing him to me to nurse, Jon took him to the living room and gave him a cup of whole milk. The extruciating thing is that he didn't seem to mind the difference. Tonight, while I am at Bible study, Jon will put him to bed. For the rest of this week, we will follow a new routine. Jon will put him to bed and get him up in the morning. We are confident that, after one week, he will not remember the ritual that sustained his life for nearly sixteen months. He will not miss it. I will be able to give him a cup or bottle of milk without him tugging at my shirt. And it will never be a part of his permanent store of memories, which is as it should be. But I will never forget the joy and frustration and freedom and slavery of breastfeeding my baby. So far, the third little goodbye is the hardest.

I know that there will be other goodbyes. Sooner than I think, he will go to kindergarten and then junior high and then high school. He will someday leave my car for his own wheels. He will graduate from high school and move on to college. He will leave our home. He will make his own. Motherhood is a whole series of little and big goodbyes. We know this when we sign on for the job. Without the goodbyes, our little birds would never soar. And I want him to soar high. But perhaps no one will think too harshly of me if I just cry just for a little while now while he's napping.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Wonder Years: Mommy's Unite!

I read this post today and could not agree more with every thing she says. MOPS saved my life this past year, saved me from the loneliness that came from leaving a job where I daily interacted with dozens of other women to one where I daily interacted with an infant boy. It was a much bigger adjustment than I realized. MOPS became the best place for me to go and not feel embarrassed or judged about how I did anything parenting related, the best place to hear someone say, "You're doing a great job," and the best place to find someone else to pray for just to get me out of my own head. Anyway, especially if you are a mom, read this post and then "Get thee to a MOPS group!"

The Wonder Years: Mommy's Unite!

In Abilene, you can get thee to my MOPS group at Highland Church of Christ. Send me a message and I'll get you hooked up.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Living Sober, Riding Free

For a great inspirational post today, head on over to my dad's blog.

I realize I haven't posted in a while. I'm thinking about many things and hope to post soon. Many of the things on my heart lately are covered in my dad's post today. For some reason, God has brought me a season of serious breaking free. It has been hard for me to really break free of the things that have kept me bound because my chains were not the ones you recognize and hear so much about. I have never had any problems with drugs, alcohol, sex addiction, etc. It seems to take longer to recognize the serious bondage of food addiction, fear of loss, fear of ministry, and idols of control because these types of bondage are acceptable in the church where drugs and alcohol are not.

Anyway, I'm working through Beth Moore's Breaking Free, Gari Meacham's Truly Fed, and Marla Ciley's Sink Reflections. I am constantly amazed at how much the three have in common. The Holy Spirit is doing some stuff. Even the last book, which seems out of place, is being used of God to change my life and my home. I'll write more later.

Cute Giveaway!!!

Daisy Smiles Custom Jewelry (which is super cute) is giving away a $50 gift certificate on Kathryn Bilberry's blog this week! I'm trying to win and you should too. You can have the jewelry customized with your child's name or whatever you want. Head on over and check it out!

(ps I'm always trying to win things on The Pioneer Woman. I feel like this gives slightly better odds. My fingers are crossed!)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Just when you think you're the most embarrassing person alive, I come along on my blog to show you that you're not. I am.

I've been trying to organize today. Which is why the maternity clothes box was out. Which is how Benjamin got some things out of it.

Benjamin has been terrified of people knocking on the door lately. He screams and jumps into my arms.

So, just now, one of Jon's employees came to the door to drop off some money from a customer. Benjamin screamed. I picked him up and opened the door without really paying attention to what Benjamin had in his hand. I talked to Zack, took the cash, and smiled at Benjamin waving to the Zack excitedly. Then I closed the door. And realized what he was waving in Zack's face. A package of maternity panties. Size large. Okay, that's a lie. Extra large.

And I thought, Don't you wish your girlfriend was hot like me?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Friday, April 2, 2010

How the apple falls

I have been noticing some things about my son in the past few days:
-He has started putting things away when he's finished with them. Not everything--just the things that have a bucket or box that they "go in." He will take everything out, play with it, and then put it all back in the bucket, drum, box, or bag. In the same bucket, drum, box, or bag that it came out of. He remembers.
-He is a creature of habit. Especially if we praise him for something, he then wants to do that something over and over and over and over and over and over and, you get the idea.
-He does not like for other kids to mess with his stuff.
-He likes things on his own terms.
-He sorts his food and eats only one kind of food at a time.
-When he is finished with his bathtime, he throws everything (bath toys, cup, washcloth, bath books) over the side of the tub so he can still get to it when he's out of the water. In other words, he thinks ahead.

All of this reminds me forcibly of someone else I know: myself. Bless his heart, I think the child is a melancholy.

Today I got out my notes on the four main personality types and freshened up. As I looked through the strengths and weaknesses of my own melancholy personality, I thanked God for the many ways in which my natural tendencies kept me out of trouble. And I regretted the ways I allowed it to lead to other kinds of trouble. And I am committing to this: not to label my child now or in the future, but to watch his "bent" and use what I see to fuel prayers for him. I will pray against the weaknesses I have been so prone to. And I will pray for his natural strengths to glorify the Lord.

Some typical melancholy strengths: deeply thoughtful, idealistic, appreciative of beauty, self-sacrificing, high standards, organization, neatness, loyalty in friendship, compassionate, content to serve in the background. Yes, Lord, please!
Some typical melancholy weaknesses: remembers wrongs, moody, low self-image, guilty feelings, hesitant to start projects b/c of over-emphasis on perfection, needs approval, judgmental, insecure socially, suspicious, hard to please. Oh, Lord, please teach me how to watch for these things I have seen in myself. Show me how to guide him in the Higher ways. Let these tendencies not lead to sin. Make us aware and give us grace.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This is what I call being "plum tuckered out." (That's some Texas lingo for y'all on Texas Independence Day.)
Notice that he's taking a nap and I'm not even holding him!!! Okay, so it was on the couch instead of in his crib and it only lasted twenty minutes, but still.
Notice, also, that I am getting much better about posting pictures on the blog even though I obviously don't know how to edit pictures (or I would have cropped out the socks that don't match his outfit--they're still cute, though!).

Monday, March 1, 2010

Before I was a mother, I was a judge

I have a confession to make. Before I was a mother, I used to judge other mothers. In the grocery store. At the school where I taught. At the movie theater and the mall. Even at church. I think you know what I'm talking about. It's the teacher's lounge at lunch time and the honorable judge Miss Know It All is presiding. It's the impulse-buy part of the checkout line at Walmart and yet another kid is throwing a hissy fit, and again, Miss Know It All pounds her inner gavel. A worn out co-worker has the utter gall to complain just a little about her toddler and Her Smugness, Miss Know It All thinks, "She should just be grateful for her children." A very young child is seen eating junk food in public and Know It All sentences the whole family to obesity and bad behaviour. (By the way, after typing the words Know It All several times in this post, I thought I might shorten it to an acronym. But that made it Miss KIA which usually means "killed in action.")
But you know what? That's exactly what needed to happen to MissKnow It All--she needed to be killed in action. And that's pretty much what did happen. First act of war on smug KIA: she got pregnant. Forget about judging anyone for laziness, poor food choices, and mood swings. KIA herself was the one who would stop by Subway on her way home from work and eat a six-inch sub as a snack(!!!!), then take a three-hour nap before dinner, cry like a baby for no apparant reason, apologize to her husband and go back to seven o'clock!
Second act of war on smug KIA: she had the baby. Now everyone had every reason to believe that KIA knew everything about babies and children. After all, hadn't she been the one to turn her nose up at the people who didn't keep their babies clean and well groomed and constantly immersed in age-appropriate literature? But suddenly, KIA realized that she had never ever ever ever changed a baby boy's diaper (!), that she had never ever ever given a baby a bath or gotten one dressed. She had certainly never tried to clip a baby's finger nails. And even though she had gone to breastfeeding class (twice!), once the baby was in her arms, she had no idea how to get him latched on. KIA didn't even know how to get out of her bed without someone helping her up (it wasn't until later that other c-section survivors told her she should have slept in the recliner to help push herself up).
Third act of war on smug KIA: she became the kind of mother who took her baby to the movies with her, who didn't send him to the church nursery even if he cried (this heathenish woman would rather miss a large part of the sermon than hand her baby over to the church nursery, for shame!), who stayed in her pajamas until just before noon most days, who didn't establish a bedtime schedule for her child until he was a year old (I really am kind of ashamed of that), who failed to take her child to the dentist the minute his first tooth appeared, who resorted to biting her child's fingernails off when he was nursing because it was easier than clipping them, who actually started taking his clothes off for mealtimes so she wouldn't have as much laundry to do, and many other offenses, I'm sure.
KIA has been killed in action. She does not judge women at the grocery store because she knows she will be there someday. Some day, not too far away, her own precious boy will surely be enticed by the impulse-buy items that are strategically placed by marketers to entice children! She may have to drag him out to the car and spank him. She may have to ignore a tantrem so that she can get the groceries she needs to get for dinner. She may even give in and buy a candy bar if he says please and smiles real sweet. After all, last week she gave him a sip of her punch at a baby shower because she wanted to put off nursing him until she got home. So far he shows no signs of obesity. She has already done so many things she said she'd never do that she is swearing off saying she'll never do anything. Here's a short list of her self-inflicted curses so far:
"I will never take a baby to the movies. It is rude and irresponsible." 3 months old-Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; 4 months old-The Proposal
"I can't believe some women nurse their babies in public without a cover! Awkward!!!" 2 months old-Olive Garden, can't find Hooter Hider, starving baby, blanket that won't stay over flailing baby limbs. Discreet as possible=still not very.
"I will not allow my child to eat snacks in the car. That's just a bad habit and makes the car/carseat trashy looking." Christmas-16 hour drive to Illinois-Cheerios, Graduates Puffs, Yogurt Bites, Ritz Crackers. Since Christmas-all of the above. Car=trashy looking. Oh, well.
"I will make sure my baby is not a mama's boy so that when he is in Kindergarten, he won't cry like a baby." Times I have left him in the church nursery=ZERO; Times I have left him in the Moppets nursery=2. Age at which I finally made him start putting himself to sleep=12 months! Age at which he starts taking naps on his own (meaning without me holding him)=maybe next week?

This post is already way longer than I meant for it to be. It was triggered by someone close to me spouting some harsh judgements on another woman who just had a baby. Here's the thing--STOP JUDGING! First of all, if you don't have kids, you have no idea what you're talking about. Even if you're a teacher. Even if you've read Dr. Dobson. Secondly, if you do have kids, you don't have that person's kids or her husband or her exact situation, so you have no idea what you're talking about. Thirdly, there's something in the Bible about the measure you use on others is the measure that will be used on you. So, PRAY GRACE ON EVERY WOMAN YOU SEE!!!!!!!!

End of rant. Probably not the end of confessions.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Benjamin's Party

On Saturday Benjamin's family, his Fairy Godparents, Honorary Aunt Shanna, and his FIL came to celebrate with him. Here are some pictures from the day (all photo credits to the amazing Shanna).

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Benjamin today.
Benjamin one year ago today.

I honestly don't know where the time has gone. It has been an amazing year, one to prove every cliche you've ever heard about having a baby in the house.

I have been so emotional in the days leading up to today, but we've had a lot of fun on his birthday. When he woke up this morning, I sang "Happy Birthday" and he just grinned and grinned. We tickled, played Duck, Duck, Goose, ate a yummy breakfast (strawberry apple sauce and cheerios for him, toast with cinnamon honey for me, bananas for both of us). When daddy came home for a morning break, Benjamin got to hear Happy Birthday song again and he loved it again! And, of course, there was more tickling! We went to lunch with Katie Faye and her reunion group friends at El Fenix. Benjamin opened his first birthday present. We went to Hastings and used some of our buy-back credit to get Happy Birthday To You! by Dr. Seuss. We went to ACU where we tried (unsuccessfully) to get a picture of Benjamin chasing bubbles--too windy. But we did get the picture at the top of this post (thanks, Shanna, for helping!) We talked about taking a nap, but Benjamin decided he didn't want to miss a single minute of his very first birthday! So we just tickled and played and read instead. Now Benjamin is playing with his daddy (with the Olympics playing in the background I notice) while the stromboli cools enough to eat. After dinner, we are going to make Benjamin's new handprint moose. I made a moose out of his handprint when he was one month old...

...and decided it would be fun to make a new one on each of his birthdays. We hope to do this with all of our future children as well, choosing a different animal for each one. I think it will be fun to see his moose grow with him, don't you?

After we make the handprint moose, it will be bathtime. Then bedtime. And then (I can't believe it) his first birthday will be over!

Just kidding! Did you notice anything missing from our day? Like a picture of a baby with cake all over his face?! Of course, no 1st birthday is complete without that. But we didn't think it would be as much fun without our families present, so Saturday afternoon Benjamin will get to enjoy his devil's food cupcakes and moose shaped cookies with his grandparents, aunts, and to come, of course!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY baby boy! Mommy is so proud of how you've grown and changed! Mommy and Daddy love you bunches and oodles. We always have, even when you looked like this:

And we will love you forever. I love how much you look like your Daddy. I love that What A Wonderful World is your favorite song. I love your sloppy kisses and the way you're learning to say, "I love you!" even though it comes out sounding like "I voo!" I love how excited you get when you throw a ball (or a spoon, or a cell phone, or whatever is in your hand!) and how you say, "WHOA!" every single time. My prayer for you from the first moment I knew you were alive inside of me has been that you would know and love Jesus. I love hearing your daddy read to you from The Jesus Storybook Bible. And I look forward to the day you decide to ask Jesus to be the Lord of your life. I love you. I love you. Did I tell you that I love you? I do.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

My song

This is a song I wrote this afternoon after Benjamin plastered my face with kisses, leaving slobbery graham cracker crumbs on my cheeks and chin. I know that sounds gross, but I loved it! Seriously, best part of my day.

Anyway, you sing it to the tune of "Butterfly Kisses." Enjoy.

Two things we know for sure
He was sent here from Heaven
And he’s our little joy
As we high five each other when he’s down for the night
We cheer in silence cause it’s only nine
And we thank God for all of the joy in our life
Oh but most of all for

Graham cracker kisses after morning snack
Wiping crumby fingers all over my back
Slap you on the face Mommy; isn’t that a high five?
I didn’t eat your dinner Daddy
But I sure tried
Oh with all that we’ve done wrong
We must have done something right
To deserve a hug every morning
And graham cracker kisses at night

He skinned his knee today
Learning how to walk, a little more everyday
I picked him up to nurse him
And make the boo boo stop
Later on I found a cheerio
Stuck to my bra
And I’ll remember…

Cheerio kisses on our cheeks
Sticky shoulders and worn out feet
Hold me all day long, Mommy, and I won’t cry
Rock me till you’re dizzy, Daddy
And sing all night
Oh, with all that we’ve done wrong
We must have done something right
To deserve his hugs every morning
And Cheerio kisses at night

He wrecked the house today
I’m finding more and more toys I’m willing to give away
Standing in the living room staring at the mess
I reach down and brush all the crumbs from my chest
And as I begin to put the toys away

I can't help but pray

Thanks for the graham cracker kisses
And the many cheerios
The drool on my sweater
And the joy that he throws
Into everything he does and every time he gives
Graham cracker kisses to us!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Four Generations

Don't these Brokaw men look great?! I'm so grateful to them for passing a godly heritage down to my son.

Saturday, January 9, 2010


As I stood in the Customer Service line at Academy today, browsing the latest get ripped quick gadgets and watching the people rush to the check out with yoga mats and push up bars in their hands and resolve in their eyes, I realized that I have been procrastinating. Not wanting to type a New Years Resolution. Once I type it, I feel like I'm locked in.
I feel like it needs to be a good one. And it needs to be do-able. An impossible goal will just make me feel like a failure.
Should I resolve to do my Bible study every morning as soon as I rise? (not likely with my Benjamin-alarm clock going off at unpredictable times and demanding immediate action from mama when he does sound off.)
Should I resolve to take at least three Les Mills classes per week at the health club? (I've done it before. I could do it again. But that will require me leaving Benjamin in the health club's childcare facility at least twice per week, so that's out.)
So maybe I should resolve to learn to leave Benjamin in childcare facilities for short periods of time (church nursery, MOPS Moppets room, health club KidZone...oh my gosh, my palms are sweating and my milk is beginning to let down just thinking about it!).
I could resolve to clean my house better, you know like not do anything fun until I've cleaned a room each day. (Wow, I think I just burned 600 calories from laughing at that idea.)
I can think of a hundred resolutions, a hundred ways to be leaner, cleaner, smarter, sexier, a better wife, mom, housekeeper, friend, writer, sister, daughter, granddaughter or volunteer. I could journal it to death, chart my own progress, become obsessed. But I just can't seem to decide this year.
2010. I can't believe it's already nine days into this year. It's going to be a big one. I have Benjamin's first birthday coming up fast, my second Mother's Day, our sixth anniversary, a new neice/nephew coming in the summer, weaning at some point, a thousand and one decisions, and you just never know what else. On New Year's Eve I started taking an inventory of 2009 and I couldn't believe how much happened: SIX babies in my family and another seven to my friends. SIX deaths among my aquaintance, thankfully all of them joining the congregation of the Redeemed, one of them at the tender age of two months. FOUR weddings in my family and another three among friends. We saw more people at our church begin the journey of one day at a time, celebrated years with many others. We had some favorite moments: seeing Benjamin for the first time. Seeing Benjamin look up at Jon for the first time when he heard his daddy's voice in the hospital room. Holding Benjamin, nursing him for the first time. Seeing him laugh when he first met his cousin Jackson. Singing What A Wonderful World a gazillion times in ten months. Watching Benjamin with his great grandparents. Holding hands with Jon in church when we finally went back after the baby was born. Watching our sister Christina marry the love of her life and knowing that she has no idea how wonderful marriage is yet, but that she soon will. Holding Beth. Sitting in a room with Trish while we both nursed our babies. The first time Benjamin slept through the whole night and I realized I won't be tired forever. Seeing Jon look at me like I'm still the slender girl he married instead of the fleshier woman who still acts like she's eating for two.
I can't decide what to resolve on for the new year. Right now I just know that it will be full of the kinds of memories 2009 had for me and I want to enjoy them as they come. I want to be fully there in every one of them. I want to remember them so that, years from now, when I trace the map of my face in a mirror I'll know where that smile line came from and which exact sorrow deepened the empathetic brow line. And I'll let you know when (if) ever I decide which resolution will strengthen my overall resolve.